NCAA Tournament Thrown Into Chaos as Committee Chair Recognizes Error

Dan Guerrero

Selection Committee Chair Dan Guerrero

Tournament brackets and office pools throughout the US were suddenly thrown into disarray this morning when it was announced that the South and Midwest Brackets would be switched in their entirety. The change comes after Men’s Basketball Tournament Committee Chair Dan Guerrero finally understood what everybody had been bitching about since Selection Sunday and realized that the Committee had erred in its placement of Kansas and Duke.

“We probably should have discovered it before today,” Guerrero said in an exclusive fake EJSIC interview, “but after a week of selecting and reseeding teams, I sort of mailed in all those post-selection show interviews. I don’t really even recall any of the questions I was asked. But when I got up to fill out my bracket this morning I looked at Duke’s draw and though, ‘what the hell is this?’ “

The result of the change is a logistical nightmare for teams and office pool operators everywhere. The entire South Bracket will simply be switched to the Midwest and vice versa. With the current pod system, the change doesn’t affect the game sites for more than half the teams involved, including Duke and Kansas who will remain in Jacksonville and Oklahoma City, respectively. However, other teams scheduled to play at those locations will be deeply affected.

“We can’t really think of anything else to do except charter a bunch of planes and get the teams on the move,” Guerrero said.

As a result, teams have had to make some quick adjustments. And, understandably, not everybody is happy.

“Look, I thought it was ridiculous when I saw the brackets, too,” said Louisville coach Rick Pitino. “But this is ridiculous. We weren’t expecting to play until tomorrow. Now we are forced to get up, run to the airport and play a nooner in Oklahoma City? Wait, can you not print that I called it a nooner?”

Bracket managers are equally disappointed in the move.

“We were all set to go,” said Joe Davis, bracket manager at Davis, Stearns and Thomason CPA firm. “This was as organized as we’d ever been too. I set up bracket challenge thing on line. Everybody paid in advance on PayPal and now we just have to start from scratch all in one day because the Committee wasn’t paying attention. It’s really unfortunate.”

Rick Neuheisel could not be reached for comment.

Asked why make such a drastic change this late in the process, Guerrero had a simple explanation.

“Well, I think it’s just most important that at the end of the day we get it right,” he said. “That and I hate Duke just as much as everybody else.”

Al’s Conference Tournament Observations and Questions

Al's new way of watching tournament action

For the better part of a month, I’ve been trying to pretend that the current men’s college basketball season is nothing but a nightmare and that when I wake up, it’ll be October 2009. (Unfortunately, that would mean that I haven’t gotten the substantial raise I was given in 2010–but hey, what’s 25% more salary when the Tar Heels are the epitome of major basketball suckage?) So, for much of February, I avoided watching most games, and instead developed an avid interest in world soccer.

This all changed when my daughter and I decided to join the cadillac of torture chambers fitness clubs–an amazing three-story megaplex of all things workout-related. This place has more HD flat-screen TVs on the wall than the biggest sports bar in Raleigh and there are even small TVs on some of their exercise equipment.

Because my workout program is designed to kill me before I get healthy, I have to spend a lot of time at the fitness club and there’s no way to avoid college basketball and workout at that place, because 80% of their approximately 8 million TVs have been tuned to men’s college basketball tournament play. Plus, I always feel obligated to watch as much of the ACC Tournament as possible based on the fact when I remember when winning that tournament was almost as big a deal as winning the National Championship. I also remember how, basically, all work used to stop in the state of North Carolina during that time and everyone knew, to the minute, what was happening, thanks to small TVs and radios smuggled into the office.

As a result, I now feel qualified (not that one really needs to feel qualified to write something here at EJSIC) make these observations based on what I’ve seen, as well as raise some rhetorical questions.

This is a men's college basketball score? Seriously?

First and foremost, the scores of most of these games seem abnormally low. Out of the 39 Division I games played yesterday, not a single team made it to 90 points and only three teams had scores above 80. And not a single one of those games had both teams with a score of 80 or above. One of the big games of the night–West Virginia and Notre Dame–had a final score of 53-51. Duke’s win over Virginia was 57 to 48. 57? 48? What is this, college football? These kinds of scores are expected in the Big 10, where for years, making baskets has not been as important as preventing them, but when teams in conferences known for high-scoring offenses, such as the ACC and Big East, have scores that would make Wisconsin and Illinois fans sigh with envy, I have to wonder what’s going on. Is this year’s crop of teams really that good defensively? Some might argue that this is so, but I really think that there’s been a lot of really sloppy play this week.

My next observation relates more to the ACC than it does the other conferences, although I’ve seen glimmers of it in the SEC, Big East and PAC

The layup...soon to be a lost art?

10, too. It really does appear that many of the ACC players I’ve watched are lacking some basic basketball skills such as inbounding, passing, layups and free throws. The Tar Heels in particular sucked at all four. However, watching both the Miami and Virginia Tech game and the Maryland and Georgia Tech games yesterday, I started cringing every time anyone went to the free-throw line, tried to inbound the ball, headed to the basket to attempt a layup or tried to get the ball to another player down the court. I’m left wondering what these guys actually do during practice. Three-point shots? Traveling without seeming to? Flopping? What’s happened to working on the basics? There’s no excuse for missing an easy layup or consistently screwing up a pass. There’s also no excuse for letting 3 minutes go by without either team scoring a basket, especially when there’s no evidence that either team has a good defense.

Thirdly, I’d like to know when all the tournament refs got together and agreed not to call 90% of the fouls committed by either team in any tournament. I’ve seen an enormous amount of hacking, attacking, bruising and pushing going on while the refs stood idly by, apparently incapable of using their whistles. I guess I should be happy that they don’t seem to be favoring one team over another in these games, but honestly, it’s getting to the point where you have to wonder if we should just get rid of the notion of fouling all together if so many flagrant fouls are going unpunished.

I don’t want to seem like a total curmudgeon (although I fear I’m becoming one as I age and the years I’ve followed basketball creep toward 35), so I want to be clear that I’ve seen some good things in these games.

For example, I’ve enjoyed very much the resurgence of the zone defense–especially the zone defense played well.  I’ve also seen some excellent individual play, such as that of Derrick Favors, Sherron Collins and John Wall.  Also, the number of upsets in these tournaments has had me on the edge of my comfortable fake leather-couch or treadmill (if I’m at the fitness club) and I love that. My hat’s especially off to San Diego State, Minnesota, Miami (FL) and the Woofies of N.C. State for shocking everyone. I also still can’t believe that Georgetown knocked off my new bandwagon team, Syracuse. I still think the Orange can win it all, though.

Of course, the upsets beg questions that I still can’t answer–have they happened because this is one of the weakest years for men’s college basketball? Or is it because so many teams know that their tickets are already punched for the NCAA tournament so they don’t care? Or is it because so many bubble teams want to get in so badly that they play out of their minds and upset a higher seed or favorite? What do y’all think? Let me know.

Colonial League Kings: The ODU Monarchs celebrate their ticket to the Big Dance.

On a final note, I’m going to make a little plug for a Cinderella team: The Old Dominion Monarchs. One of the nicest guys at my high school is their associate coach. They’ve had a really nice home winning streak going and they won their conference. It should be fun to watch them play.

Conference Championship Central

ESPN has dubbed the week of March 8th, Championship Week as countless college basketball conferences crown a champion. The winners receive an automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Tournament. The following has a link to every conference tournament bracket as well as which team is the top seed and that teams current RPI from realtimerpi.com. Finally, it will include a list of all possible at-large teams from each conference.

America East
Bracket
Top Seed: Stony Brook 13-3, RPI 128
Possible at-large: None

Atlantic 10
Bracket
Top Seed: Temple (15)
Possible at-large: Xavier (19), Richmond (28), Rhode Island (30), and Dayton (42).

Atlantic Coast Conference
Bracket
Top Seed: Duke (2)
Possible at-large: Maryland (20), Clemson (24), Wake Forest (34), Georgia Tech (35), Florida State (39), and Virginia Tech (55)

Atlantic Sun
Winner: East Tennessee State (125)
Possible at-large: None

Big XII
Bracket
Top Seed: Kansas (1)
Possible at-large: Kansas State (5), Baylor (10), Texas A&M (12), Texas (25), Oklahoma State (27), and Missouri (32)

Big East
Bracket
Top Seed: Syracuse (3)
Possible at-large: West Virginia (6), Villanova (7), Pittsburgh (9), Georgetown (14), Louisville (38), Marquette (48), UConn (50), Notre Dame (64), South Florida (67)

Big Sky
Bracket
Top Seed: Weber State (79)
Possible at-large: None

Big South
Winner: Winthrop (178)
Possible at-large: None

Big Ten
Bracket
Top Seed: Ohio State (29)
Possible at-large: Purdue (17), Michigan State (26), Wisconsin (18), Illinois (73), Minnesota (78)

Big West
Bracket
Top Seed: California-Santa Barbara (103)
Possible at-large: None

Colonial Athletic
Bracket
Top Seed: Old Dominion (37)
Possible at-large: William Mary (58)

Conference USA
Bracket
Top Seed: UTEP (44)
Possible at-large: UAB (41) and Memphis (51)

Horizon League
Bracket
Top Seed: Butler (17)
Possible at-large: None

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Bracket
Top Seed: Siena (40)
Possible at-large: None

Mid Eastern Athletic Conference
Bracket
Top Seed: Morgan State (108)
Possible at-large: None

Mid-American Conference
Bracket
Top Seed: Kent State (43)
Possible at-large: None

Missouri Valley
Winner: Northern Iowa (23)
Possible at-large: Wichita State (47)

Mountain West
Bracket
Top Seed: New Mexico (8)
Possible at-large: BYU (21), San Diego State (33), UNLV (45)

Northeast
Bracket
Top Seed: Quinnipiac (137)
Possible at-large: None

Ohio Valley
Winner: Murray State (62)
Possible at-large: None

Pac-10
Bracket
Top Seed: California (22)
Possible at-large: Washington (53) and Arizona State (54)

Patriot League
Bracket
Top Seed: Lehigh (162)
Possible at-large: None

SEC
Bracket
Top Seed: Kentucky (4)
Possible at-large: Vanderbilt (11), Tennessee (16), Florida (52), Mississippi (57), and Mississippi State (61)

Southern Conference
Bracket
Top Seed: Wofford (78)
Possible at-large: None

Southland Conference
Bracket
Top Seed: Sam Houston State (75)
Possible at-large: None

Southwestern Athletic Conference
Bracket
Top Seed: Jackson State (197)
Possible at-large: None

Sun Belt
Bracket
Top Seed: Troy (120)
Possible at-large: None

The Summit League
Bracket
Top Seed: Oakland (60)
Possible at-large: None

Western Athletic Conference
Bracket
Top Seed: Utah State (31)
Possible at-large: None

West Coast Conference
Bracket
Top Seed: Gonzaga (36)
Possible at-large: St. Mary’s (46)

The argument for March

Thankfully, February is behind us (apologies to February babies and black people). But I hate February. I hate the 28 straight days of gray skies and brown grass. Mainly, I hate the cold. But now it is the first day of March and we can all rejoice.

March has so much more to offer than the previous two months of the calendar. In reality, it makes the argument for itself.
null
1. American Red Cross Month – Nothing provides a better feeling deep down inside than giving to charity. And giving to charity during warmer weather makes it that much better.

2. Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month – Men, just get that tube stuck up your ass for a few minutes and get it over with. It’ll give you peace of mind, if nothing else.

3. Women’s History Month (United States) – We went from celebrating black people to women. Nothing wrong with that. Plus, this doesn’t discriminate against fat girls like Hollywood. And we all know, fat girls need lovin’ too.

4. Pi Day (March 14) – Remember 3.14 from grade school math class? Celebrate it on the 14th.

5. The Ides of March (15th) – The anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar by Brutus, Cassius, Casca, et al. If your significant other has a bad dream before this day, do NOT leave the house.
null
6. St. Patrick’s Day (17th) – Nothing like celebrating the patron saint of Ireland. Drink up!

7. Vernal Equinox (19th to 21st) – The date varies from year to year, but kiss winter goodbye and welcome spring. Warm weather is always better.

8. Good Friday and Easter – Christians across the world come together to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Apologies to the Jewish and Muslims among us.

9. Spring Training – The American past time is gearing back up which means summer and more warm weather. Who doesn’t enjoy a day at the ballpark (Jose need not answer)?
null
10. March Madness- The single greatest American sporting event (that’s scientific fact, no arguments please). Sixty-five teams and three straight weekends of college basketball. It’s upsets and heavy favorites.

As I said, it just makes the argument for itself. What’s not to like about these ten points? March is just the beginning of the great times to come: outdoor sports, warm weather (have I mentioned this enough?), grilling/bbqing/whatever you call it in your region of the country, and all around great times.

Tigers come up short in bid for “resume” win

Memphis Tiger fans and players aren’t used to being on the bubble for the NCAA tournament lately, but they now find themselves at the very bottom of it. Memphis, lacking a quality non-conference win, had one chance to solidify that part of the resume when they hosted Gonzaga this afternoon at FedEx Forum.

nullThe Bulldogs, lead by guard Matt Bouldin, traveled across the country and put together a team effort in the rebounding category. Rebounding has been problematic for the Tigers and Saturday’s contest was no different. However, Memphis did not back down.

The Tigers mounted a nice comeback after coach Josh Pastner nearly punched a referee (slight hyperbole), but the ‘Zags weathered the storm under the steady hands of Bouldin, Steven Gray, and Robert Sacre. Perhaps the most disappointing Bulldog was freshman Elias Harris who struggled on the offensive end as well as with foul trouble.

nullMemphis needed a big game from their guard Elliot Williams, but Gonzaga played him very well. The most potent Tigers were sophomore Wesley Witherspoon who scored a game high 26 points and junior Will Coleman who chipped in 9 points and 8 rebounds. The Tigers were also doomed by free throw shooting. A painful reminder of seasons past, Memphis was 14 for 26 from the charity stripe for a putrid 53.8%.

Before the game, the ‘Zags had lost 4 straight to the Tigers, but they exacted revenge today and in the process added another solid win. The Tigers are left with winning the CUSA tournament or visiting the Not Invited Tournament come March. As always, the atmosphere in downtown Memphis was great. The BBQ nachos excellent as well.

College Basketball Top 25 1/24/10

The EJSIC Top 25: NCAA Basketball
January 24, 2010
Pre-season poll, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, Week 10

So, without further ado, here are our rankings (votes – first place votes), with next week’s schedule. Week 11 will be games played between January 24 and January 30. To change it up a bit, we’re listing a team’s top 3 RPI wins as key wins. If nothing else, it should provide a few laughs.

1. Kentucky 19-0 (150 – 6)
…..Key wins: #18 UCONN, #41 Louisville, #62 Florida
…..Next week: @ South Carolin 1/26, vs. Vanderbilt 1/30
2. Kansas 18-1 (142)
…..Key wins: #11 Temple, #25 California, #31 Baylor
…..Next week: vs. Missouri 1/25, @ Kansas State 1/30
3. Syracuse 19-1 (136)
…..Key wins: #6 WVU, #25 California, #39 Cornell
…..Next week: vs. Georgetown 1/25, @ Depaul 1/30
3. Villanova 18-1 (136)
…..Key wins: #5 Georgetown, #30 Mississippi, #37 Dayton
…..Next week: vs. Notre Dame 1/27
5. Texas 17-2 (119)
…..Key wins: #14 Pitt, #16 Michigan St., #38 Texas A&M
…..Next week: vs. Texas Tech 1/27, vs, Baylor 1/30

Continue reading

Grading the Early College Basketball Season

In the last week of October, we previewed six teams for the then upcoming season: North Carolina, Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Memphis. Now, a month into the season, I would like to hand out grades for the six teams. Each had different expectations before the season and they will be graded based upon those expectations.

North Carolina 7-1 null

Grade: B

Analysis: The Tar Heels entered the season with high expectations from the voters. However, the fans seemed to have much more realistic prospects concerning the young Heels. When watching Roy Williams’ team, it’s obvious to even a novice basketball fan that they are full of raw talent which makes them a dangerous team. Larry Drew II has stepped his game up and filled in for the departed Ty Lawson in a way some may not have expected.

Where the Heels have struggled the most this season is the turnover department where they average 17.3 per game. As also expected with young teams, Carolina has shown signs of not being completely able to put a game away. In the end, Coach Williams will mold the team into a dangerous group by late February.

Kansas 6-0 null

Grade: B+

Analysis: The preseason championship favorites have not disappointed early in the season, but they haven’t been the dominant team some may have expected. Their five games against inferior competition have been complete blow outs, but they did struggle against Memphis in St. Louis. To be fair, most teams usually don’t face such competition in the second game of the season.

The Jayhawks have seemed to struggle when All-American candidate Sherron Collins has been off the court. Tyshawn Taylor hasn’t been as consistent this season as Bill Self may like, but Marcus Morris and Cole Aldrich have been very stable down low. As with North Carolina, the Jayhawks have way too much talent to disappoint.

Syracuse 7-0 null

Grade: A

Analysis: The Orange are undefeated behind the steady zone defense of Jim Boeheim despite the departures of Johnny Flynn, Eric Devendorf, and Paul Harris. After losing their exhibition to Lemoyne, very few people would’ve believed the Orange had it in them to beat both California and North Carolina in route to the 2K Sports Classic Championship.

Can Syracuse keep up the early season momentum? It remains to be seen, but the next test is looming December 10th against another up-start group in the Florida Gators. With the zone defense and steady play from their experienced leadership, I’m betting on Boeheim’s boys to continue the good season.

Kentucky 7-0 null

Grade: B

Analysis: It’s very apparent John Calipari’s Wildcats are absolutely loaded with talent, but the mixture of holdovers and freshmen has yet to gel. Out of the seven games, only one was against a team from a big-six conference: Stanford, in which the ‘Cats won 73-65.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Kentucky’s “struggles,” has been the defense. Calipari has always trademarked his teams with strong defenses. Since the Sam Houston State game in which Kentucky gave up 92 points in Rupp Arena, they’ve only given up 63, 49, 65, and 57. So, it appears the talent-laden Wildcats are learning to use their skill and athleticism to create havoc defensively. We should learn a lot about their progression in the next two games when they play host to two top fifteen teams: North Carolina and Connecticut.

Wisconsin 5-1 null

Grade: A-

Analysis: As the Sensei pointed out in his season preview of the Badgers, Bo Ryan’s boys never seem to be the early season trendy pick, yet they always find away to finish in the top three of the Big 10. Their lone loss came to Gonzaga in Hawaii which isn’t a bad loss at all. They now boast two wins over talented ACC squads in Maryland and Duke (the latter which helped the conference win its first ever ACC/Big 10 challenge).

Statistically, the Badgers are strong defensively as they usually are. One obvious weakness so far this season has been the three-point shooting where they are a hair above 29%. Expect Wisconsin to continue its solid play throughout the season and be a tough out in March.

Memphis 4-1 null

Grade: B+

Analysis: No one anticipated the Tigers to be major contenders this season with the departure of John Calipari and leading scorer Tyreke Evans, but maybe they’re better than originally expected. The Tigers gave the number one Jayhawks everything they wanted in St. Louis before eventually falling by two points. Duke transfer Elliot Williams and JUCO signee Will Coleman have provided solid play for first year head coach Josh Pastner.

Two concerns stick out to me. The first is Wesley Witherspoon. He was basically non-existent in the Kansas game and he’s too talented to disappear at big times. The Tigers need the versatility he provides. The second is how much do we take from the Kansas game? Are the Tigers legitimate or did Kansas have a night off? I think it’s a mixture of both, but until Memphis beats a quality opponent (and they have plenty of chances with Tennessee, Syracuse, and Gonzaga left on the schedule), they’ll have to settle for being a fringe top 25 team.

Overall, the college basketball season has been pretty good so far. It’s had March-like upsets and quality play which can be uncharacteristic of early season basketball. We should all continue to look forward to the remaining non-conference games before the rivalries start in January and February.

Study Shows That Refs ARE Biased

You suck, Ed.

You suck, Ed.

A study conducted by Indiana and Ball State University professors has uncovered what we’ve always suspected… refs are biased little turds. As this article by Eddie Pells about the study states…

Refs favor the home team, the academics say. They’re big on “make-up” calls. They make more calls against teams in the lead, and the discrepancy grows if the game is on national TV.

To reach this conclusion, the professors studied 365 games from the 2004-2005 season, including 93 neutral court games and all 63 NCAA Tournament games. Here are some interesting tidbits from the article:

  • Refs tend to keep the foul count even regardless of which team is more aggressive.
  • The probability of a foul being called on the visiting team was 7 percent higher than on the home team.
  • When the home team is leading, the probability of the next foul being called on them was about 6.3 percentage points higher than when the home team was trailing. The professors also cited an earlier study that concluded there were more calls against teams ahead in games on national TV versus those ahead in locally televised games. Calling fouls against the leading team tends to keep games closer, the studies said.
  • The bigger the difference in fouls between the two teams playing, the more likely it was that the next call would come against the team with fewer fouls. When the home team had five or more fouls than the visiting team, there was a 69 percent chance the visiting team would be whistled for the next foul.
  • The professors looked only at first halves because teams committing intentional fouls while in catch-up mode at the end of games skewed the second-half results.

So, basically, whether or not your players are actually fouling the opposing team isn’t nearly as relevant as 1.) how much the other team is fouling, 2.) the reputations for fouling of the two teams, 3.) whether or not your team is leading the game, and 4.) whether the game is on national TV or not.

Call me old fashioned, but I’m not sure that any of those factors have anything to do with the act of committing a foul. How have refs responded to the study?

Prominent former ref Irv Brown has this to say:

“There’s something to it,” said Irv Brown, a former official who worked six Final Fours and was supervisor of officials for the Western Athletic and Big Sky conferences. “If you’re looking at the board and one team has a lot more fouls, you probably look a little harder to do something, subconsciously.”

Brown was apparently in the minority, though, as most refs responded to the study with the typical denials.

Anderson said he talked to a number of referees as part of the research and the majority said “you’re crazy. We don’t do this.”

The NCAA has asked for a copy of the study, and you’d hope they would at least discuss the results with their officials in hopes of avoiding these problems moving forward.

Based on the NCAA’s track record, I won’t be holding my breath.