Equal Opportunity Final Four?

StateFans Nation uncovered a very interesting statistic that I had not noticed. Over the past five seasons, only one team has had more than one Final Four appearance, Kansas in 2002 and 2003 (with Roy Williams, who also took UNC last year). That means 19 different teams have reached college hoops’ Mount Olympus in the last five years. No repeats from Duke, UNC, Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan State, UCLA, Indiana or Arizona.
Pretty damn interesting, I think. I also think it’s an anomaly. Look for UNC, Duke and UConn to make some more appearances in the coming years.
I should point out that the well-intentioned fellows at SFN use that statistic as yet another cudgel with which to bash Herb Sendek.

Conference Performance In The NCAA Tournament

With the mass exodus of talent to the NBA last year, most people expected that the ACC would be down this year and that’s pretty much how things turned out. Carolina was better than expected, but that was offset by Duke being not as good as expected. Most people, me included, thought the Blue Devils would be far and away the best team in the country, but they struggled all season with developing their bench and getting consistent production from anyone other than J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams. Boston College was also supposed to be a top-ten team, but rarely played like it. They coasted at times and were more like a 15-20-type team.
The NCAA Tournament isn’t necessarily the best way to rate a conference’s yearly performance – a true measure would take tournament performance combined with a few computer power ratings and head-to-head comparisons against other top leagues – but it’s probably the most significant. Five years from now, few people will remember much about this season other than that Duke failed to reach a Final Four and the ACC was shut out of the Elite Eight. Likewise, many will forget that the SEC had a relatively down year, because that league has stepped up so nicely in the postseason.

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Hey Ladies!

While the ACC men predictably fell well short of the Final Four this year, the women did nearly the exact opposite. Three of the four entrants in the women’s Final Four are ACC teams. Very impressive indeed!
UNC will play Maryland and Duke will face LSU on Sunday. Obviously that means we could see something that has never happened before, Duke-UNC in the NCAA Tournament. In the finals, no less. Yeah, the women don’t generate nearly the same intense interest that the men do, but that would still be a hugely important game for both sides. Talk about a trump card to settle any Duke vs. UNC arguments!

The Geaux Team

A man named BradyIf you’re like me, when you were watching the basketball games last week, you noticed LSU coach John Brady’s wife. They showed her several times in the audience and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one surprised to see that this man (look over there –>) has such a cute wife.
It was only later that I found out her maiden name, Misty Champagne.
Yes, Misty Champagne. Hmmm, where do you think he made her acquaintance? Think maybe he was at a coaches’ convention with Mike Price?
Assuming that’s her actual given name, who the hell names their child Misty Champagne? Remember what Chris Rock said about raising girls? Your number one priority is to keep them off the pole. When you go with Misty Champagne as a name, you’ve pretty much limited her career options. Ever meet a lawyer named Misty? How many members of Phi Beta Kappa are named Misty?
Misty, baby
Oh, and you won’t be surprised that she makes her living with her body (more or less). She’s a personal trainer and occasional model.
Can you imagine telling your mom about her for the first time? “Hey mom, I met this great girl. I think she’s the one!”
“Oh really, dear? That’s wonderful. What’s her name?”
“Misty Champagne!”
… dead silence …
Geaux Tigers!

Move Over Chaminade

Move over Chaminade, college basketball has a new Cinderella. And she’s cuter.
Sure, Chaminade had a great run as the plucky winner of the Greatest Upset Of All Time, but George Mason is the new best story. Sure, you could argue that the difference between Virginia and Chaminade was greater than Connecticut and GMU. I mean, Chaminade was NAIA school that no one had ever heard of and UVA was undefeated, #1 in the country and was led by Ralph Sampson, one of the greatest college players ever. While no one outside of northern Virginia has ever heard of George Mason, it is a D1 school who had just won three NCAA tournament games, including triumphs over powers Michigan State and North Carolina.

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What Could Have Been

This is always fun. SI tries to roll back the clock and imagine what the college basketball landscape would look like if studs didn’t leave early for the NBA. For you youngsters, about 20 years ago – the golden age for college basketball, IMHO – this is pretty much what the top teams looked like.
A couple of notes:
Duke – After reading the blurb, I had to get myself a Mountain Dew just so I could spray it all over my monitor at the idea that Shavlik Randolph would have started this year had he not gone to the NBA. He barely played last year! Add Luol Deng and Shaun Livingston and you have a hell of a squad and one that Randolph would barely affect.
Ohio State with LeBron James? Sick. In fairness, even 20 years ago, stars of his ilk didn’t play four years. Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan and James Worthy all left early and so would have Bron Bron.
UConn’s front line of Villanueva, Bynum, Boone, Armstrong and Adrien would have been amazing.
Memphis would have been so good even John Calipari couldn’t have screwed them up. Like LeBron though, no way would Amare Stoudemire have played four years of college ball in just about any era.
Check out UNC’s lineup – the guys from last year plus J.R. Smith and Dwight Howard. Tyler Hansbrough would have barely played. That might have been the best team ever.
Louisville has been hurt the most by defections. They struggled all year and have lost five guys to the League.

Like The Phoenix

Like MacArthur, but unlike Calhoun, I have returned. Or more accurately, Dave Sez has returned. Sadly, I’ve been here for a week already trying to get it back. In the end, I had to concede defeat. I stopped fouling a couple of days ago and admitted that I just wasn’t going to be able to achieve a full victory. Instead (to continue mixing the hell out of my metaphors), I negotiated a surrender. I’d let the crashed drive take my entire history of comments to the garbage dump, but I’d get to keep all of my articles. It wasn’t what I’d hoped for, but it was really all I could do. I really, really hate losing those comments, but short of forking over thousands of bucks for some serious hard drive restoration (anyone want to volunteer their services?), I had no choice. The database was corrupted.
So, consider this a rebirth. Didn’t like what someone said about Ronald Curry or Shavlik Randolph (two of my most persistently commented-on pieces)? Write something better. Did you lose something particularly profound that you typed a while back? See if Google’s cache can dig it up for you and repost it (please!).
The one good thing that came out of all of this is that it nudged me to finally fork out a little cash for a better box to host this on. You wouldn’t believe the clunker that I used to host Dave Sez on. This box isn’t exactly the state-of-the-art, but it’s many times more capable than what I had. You should notice that things are much more responsive.
Tomorrow night I set up the nightly backup. I promise. Heck, if I get a jolt of energy, I might just try to get it going tonight.

Crunch Time

Sorry for my relative silence so far this week. It’s not like me in such a fun and important time of the college hoops season, but I’ve been swamped with work. You see, an old college friend decided to put together a ski trip for a group of us, and wouldn’t you know it, he picked this week. At the time, I didn’t realize that his days coincided with the best four-day stretch on the sports calendar, but so it is. Unfortunately, if the threat of missing a bunch of games isn’t enough, I had to squeeze a whole bunch of work into my two days this week.
But now that’s done. Now I have to try to convince my brain that it’s not really spring, that it hasn’t really been 80+ degrees for days now and that tomorrow I will be in the snowy mountains. It doesn’t seem real.
But enough about that. On to the tournament, and the ACC teams in particular.

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Win Your Office Pool

If you’ve poked around my site much, you probably figured out that I like me some stats. I love some good, geeky analysis of numbers. If I didn’t have an actual job and family to take away from my critical Dave Sez time, this site would be wall-to-wall numbers. Fortunately for me (and you), there are guys like Ken Pomeroy (and many others) who have less life than I do (presumably) and who put out some great statistical analyses and power ratings.
One of those number geeks who I linked to in my ACC Expanded Standings is Mike Greenfield, who (with Thomas Federico) publishes his numbers at TeamRankings.com. Mike has built a very cool analytical tool that you can use (if you fork over a little change) to help you build your NCAA Pool brackets. He takes his power ratings along with a ton of other factors like Distance Traveled, Last 10 Games, Average Margin Of Victory, etc. to help you decide who should win just about any matchup in the tourney. Not sure who would win your predicted Regional Final matchup between Duke and Texas? Run the numbers. You can take their preset weights or you can tweak them because you think (for example) that Duke plays equally well anywhere, but Texas doesn’t travel well.
Another cool feature is a rundown of past games with similar matchups. It looks like their database goes back at least ten years, which is pretty cool. It’s like a history lesson mixed in with your crunching.
So, check it out. See if you can’t use actual data to beat that secretary in Accountz Reeceevable who beats you every year using her “places I’ve been or would like to visit” methodology.
Full disclosure – Thomas Federico emailed me about this tool and they have an affiliate program that I signed up for. So, yes I could potentially earn a little money from this promotion, but I’d have linked to it anyway. And seriously, I don’t think we’re talking much money here. I just don’t want to be accused of being a soulless shill like, say, Billy “Mr. Cash” Packer or Dick “You Want Me To Pitch Your Product? That’s Awesome, Baby!” Vitale. (p.s. Corporate America, I’m kidding. Call me, we’ll do lunch.)

Redick Breaks Career Three-Pointers Mark (Again)

Was Curtis Staples in the house Friday morning? No one seemed to notice, but J.J. Redick once again broke the NCAA record for career three pointers when he hit five against Miami. This time, it wasn’t Staples who J.J. passed though, it was St. Peters’ Keydren Clark who quietly passed J.J. last week. Their career stats here: Redick, Clark.
After today’s game against BC, Redick will probably be about eight threes ahead of Clark with just the NCAA Tournament to go. St. Peters might make the NIT, so Keydren still has a chance, albeit slight, to end his career at #1. Of course, he could end his career at #1 and still lose it a day or two later.