Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Still Going Strong

Awesome job by Oakland.  After a very tough non-conference schedule to get them used to that level of competition they used that experience to absolutely run through the Summit, culminating in an easy tournament win and an NCAA berth.  They are going to be very tough.  There are a few teams in the first round in that 4-5 seed area that I don't think they can handle, but without seeing matchups I'd give them about a 75% chance of a first round victory.

Also of note is Butler's win, a team that everyone will pick as a first round upset winner, which won't happen, and Ark-Little Rock won the Sun Belt, a team nobody will pick to win and they most definitely won't.  Finally, Villanova continued their slide in a loss to South Florida (a great game, actually) and will now be such a low seed that everyone will know they're going to lose.  I really wish they could have maintained a 4 or 5 - easy pick to lose.

BIG TWELVE:  I feel like this conference is a bit underwhelming this year.  Yeah, Kansas is good and a title contender, but the rest?  Meh.  Texas will flame out, Texas A&M sucks, and Colorado probably won't even make the tournament.  I guess Kansas State is sort of exciting in a "can they salvage the season" kind of way but I don't know.  I think I'm going to need Frank Martin to strangle a player/ref/assistant or something to get me jazzed up about the Wildcats.  I guess I kind of like Missouri.
FAVORITE:  Kansas.  Yes, I know Texas smoked them in Lawrence and that was a pretty big deal win, but Kansas doesn't do things like lose to Colorado or Nebraska - practically Texas's M.O. the last few years. 
SLEEPER:   Baylor.  Is this just me refusing to give up on a team that I loved preseason despite all evidence pointing to the fact that they just plain suck, or are the Bears a legitimate sleeping giant, just waiting to go on a run?  I think we all know the answer to that.
W's PICK:  Texas.  Even though I'm fully expected them to be upset in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, they are talented enough and dumb enough to get all amped up for this and win it, only to go out and get smoked by Belmont. 

WHO'S DANCING:  Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Missouri, Colorado

CONFERENCE USA:  I keep hoping C-USA will be good someday, but I'm starting to think that's just crazy talk.  UAB, UTEP, Memphis, Southern Miss, Tulsa, and UCF were all supposed to be in line for a possible bid this year, but at this point it's looking like UAB is the only team with a shot at an at-large.  I don't know.  I guess I just thought this conference would be better. 
FAVORITE:  UAB.  Solely because they won the regular season title and are the #1 seed.  In reality any one of those teams I mentioned above could easily end up winning this and it wouldn't be remotely surprising. 
SLEEPER:   Central Florida.  They finished C-USA Play at just 6-10, but I'm not exactly sure what happened.  This is still the same team that started the season 14-0 and beat both Florida and Miami.  I have to believe there's a chance they can find that form again, and in a conference with no dominant teams it's wide open.
W's PICK:  Memphis.  It could be any of several teams at the top, but Southern Miss was terrible against the good teams in the conference and UTEP and Tulsa both fattened up their records by playing really easy C-USA schedules, so that leaves UAB and Memphis.  I think Memphis has more talent.
WHO'S DANCING:  Memphis.  If the Tigers win that means UAB didn't make the championship game, something they probably have to do to get an at-large.

PAC 10:  The Pac-10 still sucks but it's at least getting better.  Last year at this time we were wondering if they'd get even two bids, this year they are certain to get three with an outside shot at four.  That being said, it wouldn't be a shocker if they end up 0-for the first round as a conference.  
FAVORITE:  Arizona.  I'm not exactly sure how they ended up winning the regular season title, but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with Derrick Williams.  That dude is pretty unreal, and has basically carried the Wildcats to every big win they've had this year.  It's just too bad for him he's basically all alone out there.
SLEEPER:   USC.  The tournament is in LA, so that's huge for the Trojans, plus they've already beaten UCLA, Washington, and Arizona this year.  There only real problem has been losing to bad teams (swept by Oregon?  Ouch.) but that's something they'll likely avoid with their four seed. 
W's PICK:  Washington.  I don't care about the seven Pac-10 losses, the third place conference finish, or the 2-3 finish to the season - this is the best team in this conference.  They're the most fun to watch, too, so let's hope they don't slip up against on Thursday because that loss might be enough to send them to the NIT.  Which would be a shame, because nobody plays circus ball on Over Saturday like the Huskies.
WHO'S DANCING:  Arizona, UCLA, Washington, USC

SOUTHLAND:  Do you remember the wrestler Sam Houston?  Probably not, because he wasn't really all that big of a deal or any good or anything and was only in the WWF from 87-89 and anybody who watched anything other than the WWF at that time was just wasting their time (the Midnight Rockers had already moved on from the AWA.)  Anyway, guess who his half brother is?  Jake "The Snake" Roberts.  Fascinating.  Also Sam Houston State is in the Southland Conference.
FAVORITE:  McNeese State.  The Cowboys semi-respectable RPI (#163) and what will be over 20 wins if they win the Southland Tournament mean they might be all the way up to a 15 seed.  With absolutely zero chance of beating anybody.
SLEEPER:   Stephen F. Austin.  They are actually a decent defensive team and they play a tempo so slow they're nearly going backwards.  They also have four wins against non D-I schools this year, including an 39-point win over Oklahoma School of Science and the Arts.  Thrilling.
W's PICK:  Sam Houston State.  Jake the Snake man, that dude was awesome.  Not so awesome?  His snake, Damien, starved to death, locked in Jake's garage.  Bad karma, man.  Bad karma.

SWAC:  The Southland's younger, shittier brother, the winner of the SWAC is basically guaranteed a spot in the play-in game because every single team is terrible.  The best team here according to kenpom's statistical breakdown is Jackson State, who ranks #282 out of the 345 teams in D-I.  The bottom of the conference contains teams #344, #341, #340, #337, and #330.  Only Texas Southern and Jackson State have winning records on the season.  These are bad teams.
FAVORITE:  Texas Southern.  Jackson State ranks slightly higher 282 vs. 284, but Texas Southern ran through the league and finished 16-2, which probably means they just showed up for every game.  They did, at least, beat Oregon State, by far the best win by any team in the SWAC.
SLEEPER:   Mississippi Valley State.  They actually have a non-conference win over a D-I team (Georgia Southern), which may not sound like much but it's actually really rare.  Of the 10 SWAC teams only these guys, Texas Southern, Jackson State, Grambling, and Alabama State managed to pull it off.
W's PICK:  Jackson State.  They're fifth in the country in forcing turnovers.  That's the kind of defense that could make them a pesky 16 seed.  Or I'm just flaying about wildly for anything remotely positive to say.

WAC:  Pretty simple here:  Utah State needs to win, and with the way the WAC sets up the tournament they're in good shape with an automatic bye to the semifinals.  Some think they're safe no matter what, others think they can't possibly get an at-large.  I'd say their biggest problems is that no matter who they face, a loss even in the championship is going to be a bad loss - no other WAC team is even inside the top 125 RPI.  So they should probably just win.
FAVORITE:  Utah State.  I just said that.  Their RPI is #17, next best is Boise at #126.  They rank #13 at kenpom.  Next is Boise at #81.  They lost one conference game which was a pretty big fluke to a crappy team.  They're more of a favorite than any other team in any other conference.
SLEEPER:   San Jose State.  There really isn't a whole lot to love about any of these teams, so I'll go with the "who has the most talented players" angle.  Despite going just 5-11, SJSU has the conference's leading scorer (Adrian Oliver), #3 assist man (Justin Graham), and #5 rebounder (Will Carter).  I suppose they could all get hot at the same time.
W's PICK:  Utah State.  It would be a heart-breaking shocker if they don't win this, particularly because they only need to win two games.  I think they're safe even if they don't, but it's better not to play that game with the committee.
WHO'S DANCING:  Utah State

Outside of the bubble teams mentioned above there isn't too much intrigue tonight, so instead watch the most awesomest video ever:


Larry said...

Why do you have two naked men embracing each other on the right hand side of your blog? Is that to detract the reader from your senseless ramblings?

snacks said...

FYI - captain circus ball is suspended for the Pac 10 tournament

Good thing Washington isn't BYU or he might have been put in front of the firing squad

WWWWWW said...

Isiah Thomas is captain circus ball.