Monday, January 30, 2006


BracketBuster matchups

ESPN released the matchups for this year's edition of BracketBuster Saturday earlier today. The sad thing is this year's edition conflicts with the Olympics, one of my other obsessions. Here's what I think of each one. I'll rate them on a one to five star scale based on their potential impact on Selection Sunday.

Bucknell at Northern Iowa (4 stars) The winner of this game has a chance at increasing its seed number. This is more important for the Bison at this point as the Missouri Valley is a far, far stronger league than the Patriot League. Bucknell is slipping into the double-digit seed range because of their schedule, but make no mistake they have a good chance of taking out their hosts.

George Mason at Wichita State (5 stars) This gets five-stars since both teams are legit bubble teams. (You can argue that Bucknell and UNI are just about locks at this point.) The Shockers need a name win badly at this point. They've failed in their attempts against the rest of the lead pack in the Valley. Mason could further separate themselves from the rest of the Colonial crowd with a win against Wilmington Saturday.

Missouri State at Milwaukee (3 stars) Bears aren't as hot as they once were, winning at the MECCA would be a definite feather in their cap. A win over Missouri State may not help Milwaukee out much in terms of seeding. Panthers face a problem similar to Bucknell's: their league's overall lack of strength is going to cause their seed number to drop as major conference teams pick up more quality wins.

Louisiana Tech at Southern Illinois (5 stars) Wow, did the Valley teams luck out in terms of getting home games. I'm looking forward to this one, since I've yet to see La Tech play this season. I want to see how they measure up against a true mid-major standard bearer. It's also the first of a two game mini WAC-Valley challenge. This game could help the seeding of both teams, particularly La Tech. This would be close to a name non-conference win for them.

Buffalo at Iona (2 stars) I'm curious to see two New York state-based schools play each other, but the Bulls have tiny at-large hopes (and so do the Gaels, despite their decent RPI).

Fresno State at Creighton (1 star) The second WAC-Valley mini-challenge game. Bulldogs are ineligible for the postseason. Jays look safe for a bid. Meh.

Akron at Nevada (5 stars) I haven't seen the Zips play this year. Wolf Pack need another quality win to stay in the at-large conversation.

Butler at Kent State (1 star) Bulldogs aren't an at-large possibility, while the Golden Flashes are in the thick of the MAC race. This game won't affect the at-large pool much.

Marist at Old Dominion (1 star) Once upon a time, in the monarchy of Norfolk, the ODU basketball team had at-large hopes. A couple of inopportune CAA losses later, those are gone. Beating the Red Foxes won't change that.

Northwestern State at Utah State (5 stars) This should be exciting. I've seen both of these teams play a couple of times this year on the tube and they're fun to watch. The Aggies have better at-large hopes than the Demons, but they're both playing for higher seeding if they manage to win their leagues.

Samford at Ohio (4 stars) Ohio lost too many close "name" games to keep themselves in the at-large pool; however both the Bobcats and Bulldogs will cause fits in Round One of the NCAAs if they win their leagues. These are two very good teams.

Albany at VCU (2 stars) An interesting game between two teams with no at-large hopes. The good news for both the Great Danes and Rams is that they both have serious auto bid hopes.

Northern Arizona at Western Kentucky (4 stars) How is this game at the bottom of the list? The surprising Big Sky leaders travel to Diddle Arena to face the Hilltoppers. Again, two teams with little in the way of at-large hopes, but who have great auto bid hopes and are jockeying for seeding.

I'll save and recap these on February 18.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Bracket Projection for Sunday, 29 January

We're clearly in flux here at the end of January (as Raycom/JP's coverage of the end of NC State-Clemson blares in my ears). Remember last week, when I said, "We've hit the point of the season again where teams are playing as if they don't want to make the Big Dance." Their collective alarm clocks must have rung loudly on Monday morning. There was a lot of competitive basketball this week. Kentucky is back in, so is Oklahoma. Kansas and Louisville are not; however, I must say that the Jayhawks are very close at this point. It was a good week for Big East bubble boys Seton Hall and Georgetown. It was also good for St. John's and Rutgers, but not good enough for them to crack my field of 65. Louisville is barely in the Big East tournament right now, so they have a lot to do to get in. The ACC is down to five teams this week, Clemson is back out, along with Miami and Wake Forest.

Here's the link to the bracket. Here's last week's for reference (still getting the hang of this Blogger setup, so I lost last week's post trying to write this one).

Short Summary
Duke is still number one overall. UConn is now the second number one seed, Memphis is three, and Illinois moves up to the top tier. Florida drops to a two, joined by newcomer Texas (a one in most other brackets, but I dropped them because of the loss to OU last night), and two holdovers, Pitt and Villanova. West Virginia moves up to a three seed, while Tennessee moves to a four, swapping places again with NC State. The Wolfpack were comprehensively outplayed by Seton Hall at home mid-week.

Last Four In
Wichita State
Seton Hall

First Four Out
Iowa State

Next Four Out
Miami (Florida)
St. John's
Wake Forest

Other Teams Who Fell Out This Week
Alabama (They still have a good chance.)
Old Dominion (Colonial is now pretty much a one-bid league.)

League Breakdown

9 Big East
7 Big Ten
4 Missouri Valley
4 Pac-10
3 Big 12
3 Atlantic 10
2 Conference USA
2 Mountain West

Everyone else is on their own...which brings me to this week's Banana Peel list.

America East
Albany is first after winning at Binghamton yesterday. The Bearcats are a half-game back still. Boston University is a gama and a half out.

Atlantic Sun
Lipscomb now leads the Burrowing Owls of Florida Atlantic by half a game. (Now that there are two sets of Owls in the A-Sun (Kennessaw State are the others), we need to figure out a way to distinguish between them. The two sides are meeting right now (Sunday afternoon) at Lipscomb.

Big Sky
Northern Arizona is currently unbeaten, but preseason favorite Montana is a game back. The two meet the day after V-Day in Missoula.

Big South
Winthrop and Birmingham-Southern are tied. The Eagles get the auto bid this week based on their RPI.

Big West
Surprising UC-Irvine still leads Pacific and all other challengers by at least two games.

George Mason and UNC-Wilmington are tied for the lead (Patriots overall record and RPI get them in this week). They play Saturday at the Patriot Center. VCU and Old Dominion are a game back, with Hofstra a game and a half behind.

Milwaukee is running away and hiding. Butler is three games back.

Ivy Group
The Ancient Eight is still a logjam thanks to the slow moving Ivy League schedule. Penn is now the lone unbeaten, but Harvard and Yale are just a game back in the loss column.

Metro Atlantic
Iona now leads Manhattan by a game.

Akron has the automatic bid this week, but is tied with Kent State atop the East. The Zips have a better overall record. Ohio is a game back. West Division leader Northern Illinois would be last in the East.

Unbeaten Delaware State leads Coppin State by two games.

Central Connecticut State has jumped to the front of Fairleigh Dickinson, Robert Morris, and Monmouth, who are all a game back.

Ohio Valley

Samford and Murray State are tied atop the league. The Bulldogs get the automatic bid this week thanks to a higher RPI. The two teams meet on the Racers home floor Monday night.

Bucknell leads, but Lehigh is a game back.

Davidson and Furman trail Elon by a half-game.

Northwestern State is back on top this week, with Lamar and Sam Houston State a game back.

Sun Belt
Western Kentucky is now back on top of the league. South Alabama is a game and a half back.

West Coast
Gonzaga is a game and a half ahead of San Francisco.

Western Athletic
Louisiana Tech leads newcomer Utah State by a game and a half. Aggies host fourth-place Hawai'i (road Warriors they are not) Monday night. LA Tech hosts third-place bubble team Nevada Thursday.

Bubble Teams
Rhode Island
Notre Dame
Kansas State
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech
Colorado State
Utah State

Right now, I'm watching the end of NC State-Clemson. Wolfpack have a 6-point lead in double OT. I'm waiting on the bubble battle between FSU and Miami, then Syracuse hosts Seton Hall. Tonight, I'll be paying attention to Washington at Stanford in particular.

As always, thoughts and feedback are welcome.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Midweek thoughts

It's Wednesday, and since I have a few minutes, I'd like to share some of my thoughts on what I've seen this week.

Syracuse looks terrible. It seems that teams finally have figured out the zone after all these years. The fact that McNamara isn't shooting well isn't helping matters. I do have to agree with Coach Boeheim on the schedule though, UConn, at Nova, and at Pitt is an extremely difficult stretch with not a lot of prep time.

A lot of the other brackets I've seen have Florida to a two seed. I think this may be a little too hasty. Going into Saturday night, I figured one of two things would happen. 1) UF would lose outright (which was correct) or 2) they'd win, go up to #1 and then lose tonight to South Carolina. Face it folks, now that Tennessee has a real coach, they're good. The real test is how they follow up the they flip the switch back on and get back on a roll or do they start to play inconsistently.

Miami may not be the last team in this week. Losing badly at UVa hurts their case slightly...if the Hoos two big wins hadn't been at home, I'd probably give them more consideration. (Off topic, I wonder how moving into a bigger arena will affect that program. Sure, they'll get more fans into the gym, but the atmosphere at University Hall can be intimidating.)

Manhattan lost at last-place Rider, while Iona beat Siena. Gaels now have a full game lead in the MAAC.

Miami University
has lost two straight in the MAC, including last night at home to the league's new leader, Kent State. Golden Flashes are unbeaten in the conference, and look who's right behind them in the East...Ohio.

Southern Illinois beat Creighton in Carbondale. It looks like four schools in the Valley are now separating themselves from the pack, SIU, Northern Iowa, Wichita State, and Creighton. Early season darlings Missouri State, Bradley, and (most certainly) Indiana State have had some rough sledding in the league.

Tonight, I'll naturally be watching the UF-South Carolina game, while also keeping an eye on St. John's and UConn. Cincy plays at Louisville as well...good chance for the Cardinals to beat a good team. There are a couple of very intriguing bubble matchups in the Big XII...Iowa State at Missouri and Kansas at Texas A&M. BC is also at North Carolina tonight. It's a huge test for the Eagles, and they may have a difficult time after last night's tragic bus/bike accident.

Next projection on Saturday or Sunday...I may post in the meantime.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Hello fellow college basketball fans!

I've been playing around making with mock brackets for quite a long time now. I felt it was finally time to put my offerings on the web, if only to see how they compared to the real experts out there. I get to watch a lot of games thanks to Full Court and Fox College Sports, so I've seen far more teams play than the usual fan. (Being single and having no life helps with that as well.) Now that we have quite a few games under our belt, I've come up with my first bracket for the season (and first ever on the web).

Bracket projection for Saturday, 14 January 2006.

Here's the breakdown of a few key things I used in my projection.

Last Four In

First Four Out
Boston College
Oklahoma State
Colorado State

Next Four Out
There are a ton of mediocre teams who could fit in this class right now.

Big East (8)
Big Ten (7)
ACC (5)
SEC (5)
Pac-10 (4)
Missouri Valley (4)
Big 12 (3)
Mountain West, WAC, C-USA (2 each)


What I'll be watching today
Lots...especially since my three favorite teams play a back-to-back tonight. (This is what you call a good transition, folks...we get right to my biases).
Milwaukee at UW-Green Bay at 4
Auburn at Florida at 6
Syracuse at Cincinnati at 8

I have broadcasting and poli sci bachelor's from Florida and a master's in poli sci from Milwaukee (aka UW-Milwaukee). I grew up wanting to go to Syracuse, but a lackluster scholarship offer killed that. Also, I may be the only SEC alum who actively likes the Pac-10.

Comments are more than welcome. I'll post intermittently this week as I'm traveling to the Miami area to help train some trainers Monday and Tuesday. I will have another projection next Saturday at about this time.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?