Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thieves!

Some dumb team (please don't be the Gophers) is going to have their heart broken on Sunday, and it's all due to Cleveland State. The Vikings beat Butler in the finals of the Horizon Conference Tournament to put them in the NCAAs, and with Butler a lock to receive an at-large bid, that means there is one less bid available for the bubble teams. I had it at about 10 bids remaining with 20 teams vying for one, so now we're down to 9.

A couple of teams that were just below the bubble, Cincinnati and Georgetown, would have needed a pretty strong run to merit even the slightest bit of consideration, but it doesn't matter anymore because they were both upset in the first round of the Big East tournament, Cincy by DePaul (who didn't win a Big East game all year) and Georgetown by St Johns. One other team affected by this is Providence, who is still on the bubble, albeit probably on the bottom. Now they face DePaul today instead of Cincy, and will definitely have to win this one and then find a way to upset Louisville if they want a chance.

For the smaller conferences #1 seeds Western Kentucky and North Dakota State won their bids (get ready to get even more sick of the NDSU story than you already are), but Weber State was upset in the semis of the Big Sky Tournament, which breaks my heart, guaranteeing that they are NIT bound.

On to today:


BIG TWELVE: Surprises abound in the Big 12 this year, with both Kansas and Missouri becoming final four candidates (more-so Kansas, obviously) and blowing through their preseason expectations. Texas A&M is a big surprise as having wrapped up a bid before the conference tournament kicks off, while Texas has been a mild disappointment and Baylor absolutely fell on it's face.
FAVORITE: Oklahoma. The Sooners might be able to snag a #1 seed if they can win the Big 12 tourney, and they are capable depending on Willie Warren. You know you're going to get a good game out of National POY favorite Blake Griffin, who led the Big 12 in scoring and rebounding (led nation in rebounding) while shooting 63%. If you toss out the game he got hurt in, he only played four games this year where he didn't record a double/double.
SLEEPER: Texas A&M. The Aggies are one of the hottest teams in the Big 12, coming in having won their last six games including three road wins and wins at home over Texas and Missouri. They went from fringe bubble team to NCAA lock in a matter of three weeks. The Aggies' Josh Carter and Donald Sloan form a potent guard duo, who bring experience and scoring to the table. Carter's three point shooting has fallen off since hitting over 50% two years ago, but he can still get hot as shown by his 7-10 vs. Iowa State.
W's PICK: Kansas. I still can't believe they are this good after losing so much talent off of last year's team, but they are very much for real. The Jayhawks are one of only four teams to rank in the top 20 in the country in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and still have an outside shot at a one seed if everything falls right. Although if Cole Aldrich sprains an ankle, I'd say it serves him right.
WHO'S IN: Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State



BIG WEST: It's been a while since the Big West was relevant, and one of the teams that made it so was Utah State, who has since taken off for the WAC. Still, it's a balanced conference, with every team but one at 7-9 or better, so anything can happen - except for Long Beach winning, because there's no way Monson could coach his way out of a super market.
FAVORITE: Cal State-Northridge. The Matadors (seriously) won the conference with an 11-5 record and snagged the #1 seed. The rank first in scoring and rebounding in the Big West, and have a nice, deep squad.
SLEEPER: Cal State-Fullerton. Not because they're particularly balanced, or particularly good (7-9 in conference), but because they have the player most likely to pull a Curry. And I mean Curry last year when he carried Davidson to the Elite 8, not Curry this year where he was basically a slightly better Lawrence McKenzie. CSF's guard Josh Akognon ended up as the nation's ninth leading scorer at 23.5 points per game. He's a gunner, with an average of 20 attempts per game, but doesn't always connect, shooting just 39% from the floor and 36% from three. Good news for the Titans is he's capable of going off at any time - he scored 29+ ten times this season, including over 40 twice. Is this sounding familiar?
W's PICK: CS-Northridge. It's pretty much a crapshoot in this conference, so I'll go with defensive team, and that's Northridge.



CONFERENCE USA: Memphis has won something like 60 straight conference USA games, which really says more about C-USA than it does about Memphis, which is once again a one-bid league - barring a upset of massive proportions. It might be time for Memphis to look at joining a different league, but then again, they got a pretty good thing going.
FAVORITE: Memphis, obviously. They're killing people.
SLEEPER: UAB. There really isn't a sleeper here anywhere, but I suppose UAB has as good a chance as anybody, and there's a bit of a rivalry here as well. The Blazers best chance is for former Hoosier Robert Vaden to get hot, but he's pretty much gone off the deep end with the out of control chucking since he left Indiana - shooting just 39% for the year with more turnovers than assists. He also sucks a little extra hard against Memphis, going 3-32 in their two games. That is not a typo.
W's PICK: Memphis



MOUNTAIN WEST: Actually one of the more interesting conferences this year, you have two likely locks in Utah and BYU, and three other teams vying for what is likely a maximum of one more spot in San Diego State, New Mexico, and UNLV, who all have various points in their favor. New Mexico had the best conference finish, UNLV has the best non-conference wins, and San Diego State has the best RPI and a sweep of the Rebels.
FAVORITE: Utah. Some people swear by RPI and others think it's a joke, but Utah's RPI rank of 11 is nothing to ignore, and Ken Pomeroy's rankings put them at 26th. The Utes are a solid team, who picked up wins over Gonzaga and LSU in the non-conference season and narrowly missed against Cal, and went 12-4 in a very good Mountain West. The Utes sport a new version of Andrew Bogut in Luke Neville, one of the best big men in the country you've never heard of. The 7-2 Neville led the MWC in rebounding in 8.9 per game and was fourth in scoring at 16.9, all while shooting 61%.
SLEEPER: UNLV. The Rebels are a good team in their own right despite their fifth seed, sporting non-conference wins over Louisville and Arizona. And don't forget their biggest advantage; The tournament is held in Vegas and the Thomas & Mack Center - the Rebs home court.
W's PICK: BYU. Guess who ranks 13th in Pomeroy's ratings? Yep the Cougars. Seems high, but BYU ranks in the top 25 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. There really isn't much in terms of huge wins in the non-conference season, with a win over Utah State being their biggest, but near misses against both Wake Forest and Arizona State show how good this team is, not to mention the 7-6 record against the top 50 and winning 9 out of 10 coming into the tournament.
WHO GETS IN?: Utah, BYU, UNLV



PAC 10: A lot of reports seem to suggest that the Pac 10 has fallen off from a very good year last season, but according to the Pomeroy numbers, the Pac is the #2 conference in all that land, with the Big Ten at #5. Sounds better to me than what conference RPI has, where the Big Ten is ranked second. Although the Pac has four teams pretty much locked in, Arizona is still fighting for it's life.
FAVORITE: Washington. The Huskies started the season kind of slowly at 2-5 with a loss to Portland mixed in there, but came on strongly during the conference season to finish in first place at 14-4 with a nice sweep of Arizona State mixed in. Washington had already had a nice, solid base with Quincy Pondexter, Justin Dentmon, and Jon Brockman, and it appears freshman point guard Isaiah Thomas was all they needed to take the next step.
SLEEPER: California. It seems like nobody has really noticed (damn east coast bias) but Cal has been a very good team, finishing third in the Pac 10 and sweeping Washington and Arizona. I wouldn't normally expect a team that lost Ryan Anderson and DeVon Hardin to be ready to compete for a Pac 10 title, but the guard combo of Patrick Christopher and Jerome Randle is one of the best around - this team could do some damage.
W's PICK: UCLA. I mean, come on, it's UCLA. I'm pretty sure they win this every year, and as good as the Washington and Cal guards are, Darren Collison and Josh Shipp are even better.
WHO GETS IN?: UCLA, Cal, Arizona State, Washington, Arizona



SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC:
And here we are, the worst rated conference in all the land, the prestigious SWAC.
FAVORITE: Alabama State. The Hornets ran through the SWAC with little difficulty going 16-2. Plus, they have the most awesome name in college ball, Chief Kickingstallionsims, who leads the league in field goal percentage.
SLEEPER: Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The fourth seed at just 11-7 in the SWAC, the Golden Lions are impressive in that they played the nation's most difficult non-conference schedule. Among their feats are losses to Cincinnati by 30, Purdue by 48, and Missouri by 54. They also have a guy named Terrance Calvin who led the team in points, rebounds, and assists, so he's probably good (relatively).
W's PICK: Jackson State. Hell, I don't know, but they're the second place team, they beat Alabama State once already, and these little conferences never seem to send the regular season winner. Plus that chick is from Jackson State.




ATLANTIC 10: I always find the A-10 fascinating, because every year they seem to product several teams that might be dangerous, but just aren't quite good enough to get to the tournament - it's very weird, and this year is no exception. Xavier is a lock for the NCAAs. Dayton (who beat Marquette), Temple (who beat Tennessee), and Rhode Island (who almost won at Duke) are all on the bubble, with Dayton looking likely in and the other two likely out.
FAVORITE: Xavier. The Musketeers have a pretty nice racket going, similar to Memphis but with less March success and more losses, and continue to be the dominant power in the A-10 year after year. This year they went 22-6 while playing one of the country's tougher schedules and notched wins over Missouri and Memphis. Derrick Brown, CJ Anderson, BJ Raymond, Jason Love, and Dante Jackson are all back from the Elite 8 team from last year, and they added freshman point guard Terrell Holloway. Xavier is a bit under the radar thanks to four A-10 losses, but they are absolutely a final four threat.
SLEEPER: Rhode Island. The Rams almost pulled off the shocker of the season, going into Cameron and nearly knocking off Duke back in November behind Jimmy Baron's 8-10 three point shooting, one of the most incredible shooting displays I've ever witnessed. Baron hasn't exactly cooled off since then, shooting an impressive 45% from three for the season while leading the A-10 in attempts. As an overall team, Rhode Island leads the conference in both field goal shooting and three point shooting, and could get hot and win the thing.
W's PICK: Xavier. I can't very well tout them as a final four candidate, and then not expect them to win.
WHO GETS IN?: Xavier, Dayton



TOMORROW: The last few conferences kick off their tournaments, with the ACC, SEC, and, of course, Big Ten - and for some reason they are joined by the Southland.

7 comments:

WWWWWW said...

Of course, guess what PA leads with on his show? Yep, the stupid NDSU story.

I hope they lose by 50.

SSF said...

That first picture is the hottest pic I have seen on this blog in a LONG time. WWWW what is with the ugly lefty chick dressed in drag? yuck.

Ps. me and snacks are offically "friends" via facebook.

Anonymous said...

Oh and yes his wife does have super huge tits!

WWWWWW said...

Stay classy, SSF.

Snacks Wife said...

SSF QUIT HITTING ON ME!!!! I'M NOT INTO BABY'S MAMMAS.

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