Beating Around The Bubble

Way back on January first, StateFans Nation wrote an excellent post looking at how the RPI affects bubble teams. They looked at every season back to 1999 and found that basically if you are in a power conference and have an RPI of 35 or better, you’re in (duh). If you have an RPI between 36 and 45, you have a slightly better than 50% chance. Slip to 46 to 55 and your likelihood drops to about 30%. If you’re 56 or over, you still have a shot, but it’s mightly slim.
Nice work, fellas.

Roanoke Riflemen

As you’ve probably heard, last night J.J. Redick broke the NCAA record for career three-pointers. The man whose record he broke, Virginia’s Curtis Staples, was actually in the house to watch the title switch hands (does anyone know how or why that came to be? Did Staples have to transfer a title belt or something?) During the game, Billy Packer pointed something out that I had never thought about before – Staples and Redick both grew up in Roanoke, Virginia.
On top of that, the number five all-time shooter, Doug Day is from Blacksburg and played at nearby Radford University.
Weird, huh? I can’t explain what it is about southwest Virginia that creates these shooters. Maybe it’s the mountains – number three all-time shooter Keith Veney played at Marshall in West Virginia.
p.s. Have I ever mentioned that I was born in Radford, VA? That must explain my silky-smooth stroke.
p.p.s. Check number four on that list. It’s active player Keydren Clark of St. Peter’s. It’s possible that Redick may gain and then lose two career NCAA marks this year – three-pointers made and career free throw percentage (Missouri State junior Blake Ahearn will pass J.J. once he gets enough attempts to qualify).

The Week To Be – 2/13 – 2/19/2006

02/13/06 Boston College 59, Stony Brook 47 – Chestnut Hill, Mass. (XM 191) 7:00 PM
Hey BC, you’re not in the Big East anymore. We don’t play on Monday nights around here.
02/14/06 Maryland @ Clemson – Clemson, SC RJ* (XM 191) 8:00 PM
Maryland really needs this game to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Wait, didn’t I write that same thing a few times last year? Remember how it turned out then?
02/14/06 Wake Forest @ Duke – Durham, NC RJ* (XM 192) 8:00 PM
This won’t hurt a bit, Wake. Just lie down and take what’s coming to ya.

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Quin Snyder’s Greatest Hits

Sexy QuinAnd I’m not talking about “Eye Of The Tiger.”
The Zou, a Mizzou blog (get it?) runs down the impressive list of lowlights of pretty-boy Quin Snyder’s career in Columbia.
Yeah, it was a rough ride, but at least he can fall back on modeling (I mean look at that picture! Do you think the photographer asked him to make love to the camera? Ooooh, yes Quin, baby! You’re sexy! You’re an animal. Click. Click. I love it! Now, growl at me. You’re a tiger! Click. Click.) or maybe selling hair product.

Expanded ACC Standings

It’s getting to be the time of year when you can start to seriously evaluate teams’ postseason chances. With about a month of play left to determine things, it’s still a bit early for some teams, but we can certainly tell who the significant players are.
With that in mind, I’m reviving a feature I started last year where I look at several different computer ratings, including the RPI, and see how the ACC teams stack up. I use non-RPI ratings for two main reasons. First, the RPI just isn’t a very good system and second, because if you look at past history, other computer ratings systems have been as effective or even more effective than the RPI in finding NCAA tournament teams. Remember, the RPI is only one tool that the selection committee uses. All of the other factors they weigh, overall record, good wins, bad losses, late season surges/slumps, etc. are factored into any good computer rating. Plus, there’s nothing that says they don’t crack open a USA Today and look at Sagarin’s numbers.

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Father Flanagan Still Has Spots

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article about Oklahoma State’s Eddie Sutton. At the time he had just offered a scholarship to former Tar Heel recruit JamesOn Curry (who as you might remember, lost his opportunity to play for UNC when he was busted for selling drugs).
In that article I used the line “I’m not so sure a leopard can really change his spots.”
It seems I may have been right. Sutton just took a leave of absence for the rest of the season after injuring himself in a car wreck. After the accident, Sutton was charged with DUI. One choice quote from that ESPN article:

Witnesses told police that shortly before the accident, Sutton was unsteady on his feet and struck his head after falling in the parking lot of Gallagher-Iba Arena before entering his vehicle, Stillwater police said Saturday.

The key part of this to me is the way that Sutton was handled by the media when his team made the 2004 Final Four. At that time, the media tripped over each other to write glowing articles about the man. One of the key angles they covered was a handy way to get around his serious NCAA troubles at Kentucky – he was a recovering alcoholic. It was made clear that he had confronted his demons and won. If there’s one thing Americans love, it’s a recovered scoundrel. Great stuff! Plus, it’s just tacky to attack a man for being an alcoholic, so that allowed them to write great things about him without paying much attention to his past cheating.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think Eddie Sutton is a great basketball coach. I love the way his teams play and clearly he has a great side to him, because those who get to know him seem to really love him. But to me once a cheater, always a cheater. And a cheater is no different than a liar (and addicts make great liars). Let’s just say I’m not shocked to find out that the stories of him being dry and squeaky clean might not be 100% true.

The Week(end) That Was 2/11 – 2/12/2006

02/11/06 Duke 96, Maryland 88 – College Park, Md.
I wrote that Maryland would have to come out and play with the passion that they showed late against Virginia, and they did. But it still wasn’t enough. Unfortunately for them, I think Duke played their most complete offensive game of the year, getting points from a bunch of different players. Maryland’s only obvious failing was some shoddy interior defense at times. They gave up a few too many dunks and layups, but considering who they were playing and how well that team played, an eight-point loss isn’t too shabby.
Now they just need to keep it up or they’re gonna miss the Tournament again.

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Set Your TiVo

The ShotI just checked my TiVo’s schedule of upcoming events and saw a couple of shows in there that you might not want to miss. Next Thursday, 2/16, at 2pm, ESPN Classic is airing the great 1992 Duke-Kentucky game, also known as the Laettner game. This is the NCAA Regional Final game where Laettner stomped (stepped, really) on the chest of Kentucky’s Aminu Timberlake and hit every shot he took including the classic game-winner that we’ve all seen a million times. This is one the few games in my life where I can remember vividly where I was and who I was with when I watched it. I’m getting fired up just thinking about seeing it again.
And if that’s not enough, the very next day, 2/17, at 2pm ESPN Classic is airing the 1991 Duke-UNLV Final Four game. The Kentucky game from 1992 rightly gets a lot of attention and is called possibly the greatest college basketball game ever, but don’t forget this 1991 game. For the youngsters, UNLV had one of the most powerful and dominant college teams ever. They steamrolled Duke by 30 points in the 1990 NCAA Championship and then cruised through the 1991 nearly unchallenged. They played a fairly weak schedule, but blew everyone out, with the exception of Arkansas, who was also in (or near, really) their heyday. Duke got their chance for revenge in the 1991 Final Four and most thought it would end just like their previous matchup. But Bobby Hurley and Christian Laettner had grown up quite a bit in their junior year (and they now had a freshman named Grant Hill) and they went on to pull off one of the great upsets of college basketball history. It’s funny to think of it that way since those 1991 and 1992 Duke title teams are considered some of the best teams ever, but that just tells you how good that UNLV squad, with Stacey Augmon, Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony, Moses Scurry, Richard “The Fixer” Perry and Anderson Hunt, was.
I am pumped to watch these games. ESPN Classic is the shizzle.

The Weekend To Be 2/11 – 2/12/2006

02/11/06 Duke @ Maryland – College Park, Md. CBS (XM 191) 1:00 PM
If you watched Maryland beat Virginia the other night, you saw two completely different Maryland teams – the one that played the first 32 minutes and the one that played the final 8. How they do in this game will depend entirely on which team shows up. Sure, they got hot late in the game against the Cavs, but it was their overall effort, particularly on the defensive boards that really made the difference. Sometimes when you take care of all the little things like fighting through screens and boxing out, the more obvious stuff like hitting jumpers just happens.
Do you think Gary is excited about all of the negative attention being paid to Duke in regards to officiating? Couldn’t come at a better time for his team.

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