Sunday, March 29, 2009

Who needs basketball?

This NCAA tournament for basketball has been for the most part boring compared to last year. Two of the closest games were between the 8 and 9 seeds (Ohio St/Siena and Tennessee/Oklahoma St) where the winner went on to predictably lose to the #1 seed in the next round. There have been a lack of buzzer beaters with the notable exception being the Villanova-Pitt game last night. For most part the games have been boring and the top seeds have advanced as planned.

However, in the college hockey tournament there have been upsets, last second drama and pretty much everything you would normally expect in the college basketball tournament. Lets recaps what has happened so far in the college hockey tournament.
  • The #1 seeds went 1-3 in the first round. Compare that to college basketball where the #1 seeds have gone 13-1.
  • Bemidji St. (a former DII school) beat #1 seed Notre Dame in an upset more shocking than anything that in college basketball.
  • University of Minnesota-Duluth was down 2 goals with less than a minute to go against Princeton and won. They pulled their goalie and scored a goal with 40 seconds to put the margin at 1. Then they scored another miracle goal with 0.8 seconds to force overtime, which led to another goal and victory.
  • The University of New Hampshire beat North Dakota 6-5 in OT in another amazing game. Just in case you missed it New Hampshire scored their 5th goal with 0.1 seconds left to tie the game and force overtime.

Finally, the mighty Redhawks (my mighty Redhawks) of Miami University defeated #1 seeded Denver (4-2) and #2 seeded University Minnesota-Duluth (2-1) in back to back games to go to their first ever Frozen Four. After 3 consecutive losses in the Elite 8, it was time to celebrate like it was 1809 in Oxford, OH. I went to the game on Friday, but couldn't find tickets to last night's game because of the strong contingent of UMD fans in Minneapolis yesterday. I wanted to scalp them, but all available seats had been bought up. Unfortunately for UMD fans though they had to leave unhappy and confused about how a school they thought was located in Florida was able to beat the Bulldogs in a practical home game for UMD.

Now Miami will play the winner of the Cornell-Bemidji St. game in the Frozen Four in Washington DC on April 9th. I am riding this hockey bandwagon for as long as it goes because honestly this hockey experience has been more exciting and gratifying than the college basketball tournament. Who knew? Lets just hope this doesn't mean I start talking with a Minnesota accent while eating lutefisk.

Go Redhawks! I am proud to be a Miami alum after two great games and a spot in the Frozen Four.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Duke's 2008/2009 season

Unfortunately the Final Four dream of the Blue Devils ended last night in Boston at the hands of what looked like an unbeatable Villanova team. I haven't seen a better team play defense all year and that is why I am not surprised Duke shot 26%. Duke look flustered and had multiple possessions where they were fighting the shot clock.

Part of the problem was that Duke has 4 players (McLure, Williams, Zoubek, Thomas) that almost never look for their shot. In fact those 4 players played 72 combined minutes and only shot the ball 7 shots. Compare that with the Singler, Scheyer and Henderson who played a combined 100 minutes and shot the ball 45 times. That means per minute the big three (Singler, Scheyer, and Henderson) were more than 4 times as likely to shoot the ball than first 4 players I mentioned. And of course those last 4 players just happen to include the 3 rotating post players on Duke's team.

Whenever I think of Duke's post problem I always wonder what Patrick Patterson and Greg Monroe are thinking. These are two of the top post players in college basketball and both were Duke recruits that instead decided to go to Kentucky and Georgetown. That didn't work out well for either Duke or those players. Duke didn't have a post player all year for an otherwise Final Four caliber team. Patterson and Monroe played for two teams that didn't even make the NCAA tournament. In the "What Ifs" of this season the *biggest one for me is "What if Greg Monroe and/or Patrick Patterson decided to go to Duke." My guess is it would have worked out well for both sides.

*The only "What If" that might be bigger is "What if Ty Lawson wouldn't have had his music too loud back in June.

In other news Miami University is in the NCAA tournament up here in Minneapolis. Of course being a huge fan of my alma mater I decided to take M on a date to Mariucci Arena. Miami was playing the top seeded Denver Pioneers. I don't know much about hockey, but after watching the game it seems surprising that Denver was a top seed. They looked terrible and the Redhawks was able to jump out to a 3-0 lead before holding on for a 4-2 victory. That means they play tomorrow night for a spot in the Frozen Four. Below are some pictures from the game tonight.

M's favorite thing about the game was watching the goalies since she herself was a former goalie.

One of the rare shots on goal by Denver that predictably Miami stopped.

Celebrating the 4-2 victory after the game is over.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sweet Sixteen

What a a great victory last night for Duke. At least that is how I should start this post thanks to a 74-69 victory last night over Texas. Instead I keep thinking about how it seems like everyone is complaining about how Duke won the game because of the refs. At the bar last night I would keep looking around to make sure that everyone that was booing was watching the same game. From the reaction of the fans I would have thought that that Duke had shot 36 free throws compared to 7 (like UNC-Clemson last year) for Texas. The good news for the people at the bar is that they can find plenty of people to complain to since the amount of anti-Duke bias out there is enough for Yankees fans to say enough. People don't seem to analyze the facts that:
  • Duke shot 27 free throws. Texas 25. 4 of those free throws for Duke were on intentional fouls because Texas was behind, so if you took those free throws out of it then Texas would have actually shot more free throws.
  • 1 Texas player fouled out. 2 Duke players (their starting front court actually) fouled out.
  • The Texas player pushed off on Elliot Williams and a foul should have been called. I don't know why people like Gary Parrish of CBS Sportsline has to write things like "And when the two got near the ball all the way down at the other end of the court, the whistle blew, and I don't have to tell you who fouled whom, because one of the teams was Duke and the other was Texas, and this game was in the final minute in Greensboro, and that's just the way it goes." It was a foul and the refs made the correct call there.
  • There were other missed calls with some favoring Duke, but don't be mistaken into thinking all of them favored Duke. The very questionable foul on Singler when Abrams was shooting a 3 with 7 minutes left hurt Duke more than any other call against Texas. We could go over every foul call, but I don't think any objective fan can think that that Duke got "every call."
  • In the game before in Greensburo UNC shot 18 free throws and LSU shot 6. Now, that stat alone doesn't mean it was a poorly officiated game (maybe LSU just fouled a lot), but it something used against Duke.

Anyway, I am going to try not to care about what the general public thinks about it is clear that they don't like Duke and they want them to lose. This Duke team is good and deserves some credit. They have beaten some really good teams and are ranked very highly in any subjective or objective polls confirm the fact that they are a good team.

That is all I have to write about Duke right now because the NCAA tournament bracket was just realized and the mighty Redhawks of Miami got a 4th seed and will be playing in Minneapolis on Friday. Of course I am going to go support my school and cheer them on as they try to make it to the Frozen Four.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

March Madness from the Metrodome

Yesterday I went to the Metodome to see the North Dakota St-Kansas, Dayton-West Virginia and Boston College-USC 1st round basketball games. I brought my camera to the games to get some pictures, but unfortunately my camera died after 4 pictures from the first game between the Bison and Jayhawks. Therefore there aren't any additional pictures from the first two games, but I did bring M's camera to the night game between BC and USC. Below are some pictures from that game.

The view from the last row in Section 132.

Demar DeRozan shoots a free throw for USC. Derozan is a projected lottery pick in next year's draft.

Tyrese Rice, the stud senior point guard from BC, had an off game against USC. He only scored 9 points, which is 8 points below his average.

Thanks to Rice's off day and DeRozan and Taj Gibson's good games the Eagles cheerleaders were able to let the fans know the outcome of the game for their favorite team.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Madness

In the best weekend of the best month of the year today has to be the best day. Today is the day that the games begin for the 2009 NCAA tournament. I have planned out my schedule with the one change from previous years being that this year thanks to M and my brother-in-law I am actually going to be going to see some of the games in person. Tomorrow I will be at the Metrodome cheering on the Bison vs. Kansas, Flyers vs. West Virginia, Eagles vs. USC, and whatever mascot Robert Morris is vs. Michigan St. Today I will be in my usual position of being in front of a TV watching the games.

The only downside to all of this is that the dreaded Tar Heels of North Carolina are predicted to win the title by M, Vegas, a stat geek from Georgia Tech, and of course the man affectionaly known by my nephew as "O." Today begins the journey for Tyler Hansbrough and we can all hope that it ends like it did last year.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Stat of the day - Tuesday

The Curious Statistical Case of Greg Paulus

Disregarding all the other strange stats that surround Greg Paulus I want to focus on one thing and one thing only. That one thing is the total minutes played by the formerly *11th ranked prospect in the class of 2005. Greg Paulus started off his freshmen year by playing 1163 minutes. Then his sophomore year he went down to 1068 minutes. Then in his junior year he only played 943 minutes. Now in his senior year he has been stuck to the bench and has only played 553 minutes. That is right he has played progressively less total minutes every successive year. Do you think he ever thought would play more than twice as many minutes in his freshmen year than in his senior year?

*Ranked right after Tyler Hansbrough and right before Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush.

This is amazing to think that someone would play less minutes as they progressed through college because most players get better over time and therefore earn more minutes from the coach. Greg Paulus in some ways has regressed, but he also is in a bad situation where Coach K recruited guards (Nolan Smith and Elliot Williams) that are in some ways *better than him. Regardless of that I feel bad for him and hope that if Duke has tournament run that he can play a contributing part. I think the team could use a 4th scorer when teams lock down on Singler, Henderson and Scheyer and no one would confuse Elliot Williams for being a premier shooter or scorer yet. Paulus has it in him if he can just shoot as well he did sophomore year, pass as well as he did freshmen year, score as well as he did junior year and not turn the ball over as he has done his senior year. I am rooting for the statistical oddity that is Greg Paulus.

*Even though from the stats this year it is clear that Paulus is a better player than Elliot Williams. He is a better free throw and 3PT shooter. He averages twice as many assists per minute despite having fewer turnovers. Also, despite a reputation as being a below-average defender he averages more steals per minute than Williams. Williams is better at offensive rebounding, but I think that might be because Paulus likes to get back on defense after a Duke player shoots that ball. Also, I think that Williams is a better on ball defender, but unfortunately I don't have any stats to back that up. The point being is that isn't clear that Williams is an improvement over Paulus. Sure, Duke has won 8 out of 9 since Coach K put Williams in the starting lineup, but we all know that correlation doesn't imply causation.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Stat of the day

Here is the stat that I keeping going back to while wondering why the #1 ranked team in the RPI is a 2nd seed. (Even worse than that is the fact that Duke is matched up in the same region as the #2 ranked team Pitt.)

Duke - 10 wins versus teams in the NCAA tournament.
UConn - 8 wins
UNC - 6 wins.
Memphis - 2 wins

Duke had an incredible regular season, but wasn't rewarded in the bracket. Lets hope this team is talented and lucky enough to make it to the Final Four anyway.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

ACC champs

What a great weekend. Minneapolis has returned to being a warm, wonderful city thanks to the 50+ degree weather that is rapidly melting the massive snow banks. And Duke has returned to being a top tier program by winning the ACC tournament. It isn't like Duke was bad the past two years, but those teams didn't have the talent level to win the ACC. This Duke team does have the talent and after an early February swoon they have really come together the past 9 games.

I think the Duke team should be considered to be the final 1 seed. Before I get to that case lets run through the teams that are locks for the other three 1 seeds. I think everyone can agree that UNC should be a 1 seed for winning the ACC regular season. Louisville also has to be a 1 seed due to the fact that they won the Big East regular season and tournament. Pitt should be a 1 seed as well thanks to the fact that they are the top ranked team in the RPI and have beat UConn twice. After that I think their is an argument amongst 3 teams for the final #1 seed. Here are those teams with their resume:
  1. Memphis - The Tigers are 31-3, but they play in the 10th best conference, which if you are curious means that C-USA is behind conferences like the Mountain West, A10 and Missouri Valley. The reason they have 3 losses is because they have only played three top 25 teams (winning only 1). Their two best victories all year were against Tennessee and on the road to Gonzaga, which isn't all that impressive. They might be a top 4 team or even the best team in the NCAAs, but they haven't played or beaten anyone really good. That and the fact they are the 7 ranked team in the RPIs means I think they have to be a 2 seed.
  2. UConn - The Huskies were the 3 ranked team in the Big East and lost their first game in the Big East tournament. Sure they went 27-4 and have a ton of Nba ready talent, but a strength of schedule of 30 hurts them. There is no question they are a good team that had a good year, but I don't see how they can be a 1 seed without winning some type (regular or tournament) of championship.
  3. Duke - The case for Duke is simple. They played the 3rd toughest schedule, finished 2nd in the best conference (RPI rankings) during the regular season, won the ACC tournament, and are a team on the roll winning 8 of their past 9 games. If you want to go more in depth of the type of roll they are on those past 9 games are a good barometer. Only 2 of those games were at Cameron with 4 games being on the road and 3 games being in a neutral location. Also, 7 of 9 games were against teams that are currently projected to make the tournament, which doesn't count a really tough road game against a Virginia Tech team that I think should (but probably won't) make the tournament. Oh yeah if you need another reason Duke should be a top seed then I would check out the RPI ranking and look at the 2nd slot. They have lost 6 games and their are a lot of people that don't like Duke, but that isn't reason to give a team with a less impressive resume a top seed over Duke.

The selection show is less than 2 hours away and I am curious to see where the Blue Devils are going and who they are playing. More analysis will be coming after I get a chance to see the bracket. This really is the best time of the year.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

NCAA tournament preview

In anticipation of the brackets being released this Sunday I thought I would grace my blog readers with a little bit of analysis on what teams have the best chance of making it to Detroit. My analysis is based on the assumption that only teams with Nba level talent can make it to the Final Four. This assumption isn’t always true (ex. George Mason in 2006), but for the most part I would rather have my money on the more talented team. In order to do my analysis I pulled the 2009 and 2010 Mock Drafts off

I used their mock drafts to create a point system to help determine what teams had the most Nba talent (quantity) as well as the most talented players (quality). The first assumption I make is that there is more value to a team if their player is projected to be drafted earlier. For example James Harden (projected pick 4th) is more valuable to Arizona St. than Jeff Pendergraph (projected pick 29th) and therefore should be “worth” more than players in Pendergraph’s range. The second assumption I make is that it is better to have a player rated highly in the 2009 Mock Draft as opposed to the 2010 Mock Draft. The reason being is that the 2010 Mock Draft has a lot of players that are raw talents that still haven’t reached their potential. I thought it would be more valuable for a team to have a more proven player compared to a raw talent. A perfect example is that Jeff Teague is projected to be the 6th pick in the 2009 Mock Draft while Ed Davis is projected to be the 8th pick in the 2010 Mock Draft. Now Ed Davis is an incredible talent and might be a better pro than Jeff Teague, but I think any reasonable basketball fan would agree that Jeff Teague is more valuable to Wake Forest this year than Ed Davis is to UNC. Anyway below is how I assigned the points:

2009 Draft:
1-10 picks– 10 points each
11-20 picks – 7 points each
21-30 picks – 5 points each
31-45 picks – 3 points each
46-60 picks – 1 point each

2010 Draft
1-10 picks – 5 points each
11-20 picks – 3.5 points each
21-30 picks – 2.5 points each
31-45 picks – 1.5 points each
46-60 picks – .5 points each

Before I get to the point system at first glance I wanted to see what teams had multiple Nba players. There are 22 teams with multiple Nba players. Below is a list of the schools with the number of players that are Nba prospects.

School # of players

  • North Carolina 6 players
  • UConn 5 players
  • Wake Forest 3 players
  • Arizona 3 players
  • Ohio State 3 players
  • USC 3 players
  • West Virginia 3 players
  • Syracuse 3 players
  • LSU 3 players
  • Oklahoma 2 players
  • Arizona St. 2 players
  • Louisville 2 players
  • Duke 2 players
  • Pittsburgh 2 players
  • Georgetown 2 players
  • Kentucky 2 players
  • UCLA 2 players
  • Kansas 2 players
  • Texas 2 players
  • Gonzaga 2 players
  • Tennessee 2 players
  • Marquette 2 players

The next thing I wanted to do was see the quality of these players. For example a team like LSU has 3 Nba prospects, but all 3 players (Marcus Thornton, Chris Johnson, and Tasmin Mitchell) are projected to be 2nd round picks. Compare that with Wake Forecast who has 3 players (Jeff Teague, Al-Farouq Aminu, and James Johnson) projected to be selected in this year’s first round. When I sort by the quality index you get the below list:

School - Quality index of players - # of players

  • Wake Forest - 24 quailty index- 3 players
  • UConn - 23 quality index - 5 players
  • North Carolina -22 quality index - 6 players
  • Arizona -17.5 quailty index- 3 players
  • Oklahoma -17 quailty index-2 players
  • Arizona St. 15 quailty index- 2 players
  • Louisville - 15 -quailty index - 2 players
  • Ohio State - 13 quailty index - 3 players
  • Duke - 12.5 quailty index - 2 players
  • Pittsburgh - 12 quailty index - 2 players
  • USC - 10.5 quailty index - 3 players
  • Iowa St. - 10 quailty index -1 players
  • VCU - 10 quailty index -1 players
  • Georgetown - 8.5 quailty index - 2
  • Kentucky -8 quailty index - 2 players
  • UCLA - 7.5 quailty index - 2 players
  • Davidson - 7 quailty index - 1 players
  • Kansas - 6.5 quailty index - 2 players
  • Texas -6.5 quailty index - 2 players
  • West Virginia - 6 quailty index - 3 players
  • Gonzaga - 5.5 quailty index - 2 players
  • Tennessee -5.5 quailty index - 2 players

I am going to be using the information above in picking my Final Four and unfortunately the above picture isn’t pretty for any non-UNC fans out there. It looks like according to that data UNC is easily going to make it to the Final Four and probably has the best chance of anybody at cutting down the nets in Detroit. Of course the analysis above also favors a team like Wake Forest, who is looking to me more and more like the only non-#1 seeded teamthat could win the title.

In fact my pre-selection Sunday Final Four teams are Wake Forest, Uconn, UNC, and Oklahoma.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Things that are interesting to me right now

Michael Lewis has a new book out about being a father. That might be a good gift from H to Big Country.

Loved this short post about an even shorter comic strip:

Davidson, Duke and Miami U lost the other day in key conference games that all were for either a regular season championship (for Miami and Duke) or a chance to win the conference tournament (for Davidson). It was not a good day in *basketball yesterday.

*The one exception being the Jazz won and the Nuggets lost, which means that after an 11 game winning streak the Jazz are now in first place in their division.

The all ACC teams were announced and have to say that I agree with everyone with the only difference being I would have chosen Jeff Teague over Jack McLinton from Miami of Florida. The reason being is that Teague had an incredible year for the 2nd best team (tied with Duke) in the conference. He averaged 19.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists. 1.9 steals, .6 blocks on shooting of 47% from 3, 49% from the field, and 83% from the line. Those are arguably the best stats for any player in the ACC. McClinton had a line of 19.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.7 steals, 0 blocks on 46% from 3, 45% from the field, and 89% from the line, so it isn’t like I am writing that he had a bad season. He almost definitely would be a 1st team all ACC (or any other conference) almost any other year. My personal preference though is to side with Teague because of his incredible game against UNC, his complete all-around game, and for his incredible points per shot average of 1.6.

One disagreement I have is that Tyler Hansbrough was the only unanimous selection to the All-ACC 1st team. That has to be a joke right. I mean people did watch the Duke-UNC game yesterday and saw someone who was only half as important to his team as Ty Lawson. I mean even when you consider that he probably was being voted on compared to other post players it is hard to believe he would be unanimous. Some could even make the argument that Trevor Booker was a better player and deserved to be the only Clemson Tiger on the ACC 1st team. Lets compare the line. Hansbrough – 21.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, 53% from the field and 85% from the line. Booker – 15.2 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.4 steals, 2.1 blocks, 57% from the field and 72% from the line. I would rather have a complete player like Booker who has more rebounds, twice has many assists, twice as many steals, four times as many blocks and comparable shooting percentages than someone like Hansbrough who benefits from playing on a team with point guard like Ty Lawson and is really only a one trick pony. Of course when your one trick is scoring points (and being white) then the media fawns over you because they fail to look at the complete picture.

By the way the stat of the week is this:
  • Tyler Hansbrough's record against Duke without Ty Lawson - 1 win and 2 losses.
  • Ty Lawson's record against Duke - 5-0.
In other words I am going to be glad when Lawson is in the Nba next year.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Duke - UNC part two

I feel like I have been here before and no, I am not talking about another Duke-UNC game from the past. What I am talking about is the Dolphins-Jets game from just a little over 2 months ago. Before you completely disagree with me let me go over the comparisons:
  • Game time - Sunday 4pm eastern. Check for both.
  • Previous game - Road team (Jets and UNC) won. Check.
  • Last regular season game for an aging (compared to the players he is playing against), highly acclaimed, media darling. Check in honor of Tyler Hansbrough and Brett Favre.
  • If the road team wins then they create a tie at the top of their conference/division. Check
  • Both road teams had to win 4 close games to even get a chance to tie for first place in their conference/division. Check. The Dolphins had to beat the Rams, Bills, 49ers and Chiefs. The Blue Devils had to beat Wake, Maryland, VA Tech, and Florida St.

I am hoping that for the game coming up in Chapel Hill that Elliot Williams can bring some of that freshmen/rookie spark like Phillip Merling. I am hoping that Greg Paulus can overcome the criticism and find redemption like Chad Pennington. I am hoping that Gerald Henderson can continue to do his best Ronnie Brown impersation by being the best player on the court/field at any time. And finally I am hoping the other players like Jon Scheyer (Ted Ginn Jr.), Miles Plumlee (Davone Bess) and Kyle Singler (no comparison) can finish off Tyler Hansbrough's career at the Dean Dome in the same way the Dolphins finished off Brett Favre's career in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Go Duke.