Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Scoreboard Watching: November 19, 2014

With ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon in the books, let's set the table in college hoops.


Monday 11/17
Gonzaga 72, SMU 56: SMU's offense is nowhere to be seen as the Zags roll at home.
Temple 82, Louisiana Tech 75: The Owl's came out hot in the second half to pick up what will likely go down as a quality win.
Iowa State 81, Georgia St. 58: No upset here as the Cyclones roll pas the Sun Belt conference favorites.

Tuesday 11/18
Kentucky 72, Kansas 40: Kentucky = good at basketball.  The Wildcats held the Jayhawks to 0.67ppp, including just 8-41 from inside the arc.
Duke 81, Michigan St. 71: Jahlil Okafor's first test at the NCAA comes against a Tom Izzo team that with a small front court after losing Adrian Payne.  Izzo's team will scrap, but it's hard to see them playing at the Blue Devils level this early in the season.
Wichita St. 71 vs. Memphis 56: Ron Baker led the way for the Shockers, scoring 21 and dishing out 6 assists.  Wichita State will comes back from Thanksgiving with four games against teams in the KenPom top 100.
San Diego St. 53, Utah 49: A low scoring game between two teams eying tournament bids.  A solid victory for the Aztechs, which will prove to be important on a schedule without any major challenges (only two games against teams in the KenPom top 50, none in the top 40)


Oklahoma @ Creighton: The Sooners head on the road to take on a Creighton team adapting to life after McDermott (Doug, that is).
Wake Forest @ Arkansas: The first test of the season for new Demon Deacons head coach Danny Manning.
Green Bay @ Wisconsin: If the Badgers come out flat, an upset isn't entirely out of the question.  The Phoenix are the favorites in the Horizon and know how to play good ball.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A look at the weekend that was, and the next couple nights of college hoops.


Friday 11/14
VCU 85, Tennessee 69: The Vols lack of a true point guard will be what holds them back this season.  19 turnovers against VCU's pressure is evidence of just that.
Louisville 81, Minnesota 68:  The Cardinals and Montrez Harrell look every bit as good as advertised.  If Harrell has continues to show he's a threat from deep, he'll run away with POY honors in March and April.
Georgia Tech 80, Georgia 73: Quinton Stephens went for 22 on six treys to lead the Yellow Jackets to the season opening win.
Iona 78, Cleveland St. 73: One for the resume for the Gaels.
Boise State 81,  San Diego 75:  The Broncos with a solid road win to start the season. 
Kentucky 85, Grand Canyon 45:  Kentucky falls short of the billion point win that many expected them to get in this season opener.

Sat 11/15
Florida State 81, Manhattan 66:  The return of Keil Turpin to the 'Noles lineup may be an undervalued gain for FSU.  The 7-footer went for 13 in his first game after sitting out with a leg injury last season.

Sunday 11/16
George Washington 70, Rutgers 53: A solid tone-setting win for the Colonials.
UMass 71, Boston College 62: The Minutemen scored only 24 points in the first half before taking control in the second stanza.


Monday 11/17
SMU @ Gonzaga: Last year SMU got left out of the dance thanks to a putrid SoS.  They're doing what they can to correct that by traveling to the Pacific Northwest to take on the 'Zags on the road.
Louisiana Tech @ Temple: LaTech will be an entertaining watch as their experienced team pushes the pace.  A road trip to Temple could prove to be a solid early season test. 
Georgia State @ Iowa State: One of the more intriguing games of the season as a strong Georgia State team travels to one of the Big XVII's powers.  If the Cyclones sleep on the Panthers, this one could be upset city.

Tuesday 11/18
Kentucky vs. Kansas: The first test of the season for this year's ultra-talented Wildcats team.  With several players actually returning this season, they won't have to shake off the normal freshman jitters in this game.  Meanwhile the Jayhawks kick off an impressive non-conference slate that includes Florida, Georgetown, Utah and UNLV.
Michigan St. vs. Duke: Jahlil Okafor's first test at the NCAA comes against a Tom Izzo team that with a small front court after losing Adrian Payne.  Izzo's team will scrap, but it's hard to see them playing at the Blue Devils level this early in the season.
Wichita St. vs. Memphis: Though devoid of elite teams, the Shockers season starts with 7 of 8 opponents in the KenPom Top 100, while the Tigers open their season with against one of the nation's best point gaurds in Fred VanVleet. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Scoreboard Watching: November 11, 2014

Hey, look everybody - College Basketball is back!

Friday 11/14
Tennessee vs. VCU: The weekend's best match-up takes place in Alumni Hall.  It's Donnie Tyndal's debut for the tournament hopeful Vols, while Shaka Smart may have his best team yet. 
Louisville vs. Minnesota: The battle of the Patinos as father meets son in this opening night showdown.  The game should be dandy, as Richard Patino hopes to keep momentum rolling from the Gopher's 2014 NIT title.  All odds do lean the old man's way though, but don't be surprised if the Gophers keep it close.  If you're tuning in, don't adjust your TV, these are Louisville's new uniforms
Georgia vs. Georgia Tech: An early tone-setter for two rivals hoping to teams hoping to avoid mediocrity once again.  
Cleveland St at Iona: Opening night is never too early to start shaping your résumé.  Both teams are favorites in their respective conferences, meaning a win could be the eventual difference between a 12 and 13 seed.  KenPom: 
Boise State @ San Diego: The Broncos will look to contend for the WCC title this year.  Sending an early message would be a nice start. 
Grand Canyon @ Kentucky: The show begins.  
Michigan State @ Navy: The Spartans start the season not on a aircraft carrier, foreign country, hovercraft, or in the middle of a basketball megaplex, but in Annapolis' Alumni Hall.  Here's hoping MSU AD Mark Hollis can stay awake during such a mundane, non-gimmacky game of basketball.

Sat 11/15
Manhattan @ Florida State: The Jaspers are never an easy out, but Florida State has more talent with Aaron Thomas and now-eligble Xavier Rathan-Mayes than most people realize.  

Sunday 11/16
George Washington @ Rutgers: GW will likely be hoping for a bubble-birth come mid-march.  This isn't a blemish they want to have on their résumé
UMass vs. Boston College: Throw the Minutemen in that same conversation among A10 tournament hopefuls.  BC will likely be on the outside looking in again, so this is one UMass wants to have in the win column.

Bracketology 2015: Preseason Bracket

More details will be added later, but for now, a bracket likely to be full of many more reasons to be laughably off-base than accurate, the 2014-15 preseason bracket.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

If They Bracketed It: Week 9, 2014

If They Bracketed It is an exercise in imagination, the outcome of what would happen if I ran college football - a 16 team playoff.  In short, the field consists of the all 10 conference champions, plus six at-large births, with the first two rounds played at the higher seed and the final four all being held at a single site.  If you want to read the long version, click here.  Teams are seeded based on performance to date, not a prognostication of how teams will finish the season.

Notes for this week's bracket:

  • Mississippi State occupies the top slot, but barely.
  • Florida State - who I would still bet on to win this hypothetical tournament - moves up to #2 after beating Notre Dame.
  • Baylor and Oklahoma both drop out of the rankings after losses last weekend.  They're replaced by two Big 12 teams with solid wins.  Kansas State (over OU) and TCU (over Oklahoma State).
  • At the bottom, I choose Georgia and TCU as my last two at-large teams over Baylor, Arizona and Ohio State.  Though toughest decision came down to Baylor vs. TCU, as Baylor owns the head-to-head with TCU.  However, wins over both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State give TCU a better total body of work.  Baylor likely moves back in with a win over Oklahoma themselves in two weeks

Friday, October 17, 2014

If They Bracketed It: Week 8, 2014

If They Bracketed It is an exercise in imagination, the outcome of what would happen if I ran college football - a 16 team playoff.  In short, the field consists of the all 10 conference champions, plus six at-large births, with the first two rounds played at the higher seed and the final four all being held at a single site.  If you want to read the long version, click here.  Teams are seeded based on performance to date, not a prognostication of how teams will finish the season.

Welcome to the first actual edition of "If They Bracketed It".  I'll make this a short but sweet weekly column in which we rank the 16 team based on the process explained here.  
News and notes:
  • If the season ended today, Mississippi state's win over Auburn and Ole Miss' over Alabama are enough to capture the top two slots.  
  • I wouldn't bet against Florida State and a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback against anyone in the field, but the defense hasn't been nearly as dominant as last year and the running game needs to be more consistent.  Just too many questions at this point for me to see them surviving a weekend of vetting by the selection committee.
  • For at-larges, Oklahoma and Georgia earned the final two bids over the Big 12 threesome of Kansas State, Oklahoma State and TCU. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

If They Bracketed It: College Football - An Overview

Everyone has it ready to go.  The moment you're asked "If you were in charge of college football, what's the one thing you'd change?", you're off and running.  Maybe you'd nix the extra point, allow payers to get paid, or actually encourage elaborate TD celebrations so that you can get your fix of the Icky Shuffle on a Saturday afternoon.  Whatever it is, you've got it set in stone and everyone who thinks it's a stupid idea can shove it.  

Well, here's mine: If I were in charge of college football, we'd run the post-season just like every other NCAA sport - a 16 team tournament where each conference champion gets in.  Here's how I'd do it.

The Format: 16 Playoff with the first two rounds played at the higher seed's home stadium.  The semifinals and championship game would both take place at a singular neutral site - meaning both the semifinals and finals would be at the same stadium.

Who gets in: The 10 Conference Champions and 6 best at-large teams (regardless of conference affiliation).  I know what you're thinking, "No way the MAC Champion deserves the right to be in the field over a Top 15 team, Mike.  You're crazy man".  While I agree with the latter, there's a lot of reasons why you open the field up to include everyone.
  1. You know how fun College Basketball's podunk small conference tournaments are, where schools of 3,300 kids have almost their entire student body rush the court because "OMG WE'RE GOING DANCING!!"? How much fun would it be to have those moments in college football? With this format, just like every other college sport, every team begins the year in control of their destiny, with a true path to a national championship. From Alabama to Army, every team can truly win the title by going undefeated. Whether your strapping in for practice in Norman, OK or Mt. Pleasant, MI, you begin every season with your destiny in your own hands.  Does a title chase get more genuine than that?
  2. Including teams like the MAC, Sun Belt and WAC Champs give a pseudo reward to the top 3-4 seeds.  Most of the time, they should be able to run the score up enough the first half that they'll be able to sit starters in the second, leaving them with a more well-rested team in week two.
  3. Finish off the regular season with a Conference Championship Weekend where all 10 conferences crown their automatic bid to the playoff. Talk about must-watch TV! Two days (Friday/Saturday) full of rushing the field from Toledo to Santa Clara as teams punch their ticket to the gridiron dance? What more could a football fan want?
*We'll deal with the more below, but this will also include a provision in which Independents can earn an auto-bid.

When: In order to accommodate a four round playoff, the regular season for all conferences with a championship game would end the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Conference Championship weekend would take place the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving, an epic conclusion to the college football regular season.

The playoff would begin the first weekend in December (currently Conference Championship Saturday), followed by the Round of 16 the following weekend.  The Semifinals would take place January 1st with the National Championship Game a week later.

But what about the bowls?  They're just fine.  Teams who make the college football playoff but fall short of the Football Final Four would be delegated among the six current CFP bowls (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Cotton, Peach).  Teams would be assigned to bowl games after they are eliminated from the playoff - meaning four bowls would be filled out after the first weekend, with the remaining two games being filled out by teams eliminated in week two.

Again, the four semi-finalists would all advance to a separate neutral site, to be bid out like the Super Bowl, where they would play both the Final Four and National Championship Game.  After all, doesn't it make sense that more fans would travel to one city for a week than have to take two separate trips?  Plus, think of the revenue generated by having four fan bases in town for a week?  The bids for the title game would be sky high!  And that's what we're worried about with this question anyway right - the money? 

Yeah, what about the $?  This will be the least of our worries.  The college football playoff will be an absolute cash cow.  College Basketball is a love of my life but is widely considered a dwindling niche sport in the regular season yet CBS/Turner pay $771 Million a year to televise March Madness.  ESPN already pays $608M/year to televise the College Football playoff, and that's just 3 games!  15 games over four weekends and it's not hard to imagine the college football playoff warranting $1B/year.  Spread among the schools, that's about $8.3M each.  Final Four/Championship Sites would pay through the nose to get four fan-bases in town for over a week.  

Schools also would get the opportunity to include the two potential playoff games in season ticket packages, regardless of if they happen or not.  If they happen it's a huge payday for the school.  If not, they can offer to hold the funds as a deposit on the following year's tickets so they don't have to go through the refund process.  It's like a hidden PCL income for schools.

The Selection Committee: Like today, a College Football Playoff Selection Committee will select the field, though I'd change up the method of selecting who makes up the committee.  Instead of mysteriously hand picking a cast of "experts" who would seemingly make for the worst sit-com ever, I'd put an actual method in place for establishing the committee and ensuring turnover.
  1. The committee would be made of 12 total members:
    • 4 media members elected by the Associated Press with an emphasis should be to electing "national" reporters.
    • 4 Athletic Directors as chosen by the American Football Coaches Association. No conference can have more than 1 active members and at least one of the four must be from a non-power 5 conference.
    • 4 members of the College Football Hall of Fame (coaches or players) as chosen by the Hall of Fame members themselves.
  2. Everyone is elected to a 2-year term with each group having two seats rotate every year. Once you serve a term you must wait four years before being eligible for re-election. This will keep things fresh and make sure no good ol' boy networks are established.
Selection Process: 
The process would pretty much mirror the basketball committee's process:

  1. Each member submits an initial ballot of the top 16 teams that deserve at-large bids (regardless of if they win automatic bids).
    • If an Independent team appears in the top 10 on 10 of the 12 ballots, that team will be automatically placed into the field.  This is because Independent teams are not eligible for auto-bids, and it's safe to assume Notre Dame will throw a fit for this to be included when this system is negotiated.
    • For all other teams, any team that is ranked in the top 6 on 10 of 12 ballots is automatically placed into the field.
    • All other teams that appear on at least four of the 12 ballots will be considered "under consideration".
  2. The committee members will debate the "under consideration" list and vote in the following order:
    • Members should list the top four teams left under considerations, in no particular order. 
    • The four teams receiving the most votes will make up the next at-large ballot.
    • Members will rank these four teams in order.  The top ranked team on a ballot receives one point, the fourth best team receives four votes.
    • When there are at least three at-large bids remaining, the two teams with the least points are locked into the field, while remaining two are retained for the ballot.
    • When there are one or two at-large bids remaining, the one team with with the least points will be locked into the field, while remaining three are retained for the next ballot.
    • So long as there are more at-large bids remaining, members will continue nominating either the two (if two teams carried over) or one (if only one team carried over) best team from the under consideration list that should be included on the ballot.
    • This process will continue until the 16 team field has been selected.
Seeding of teams will only take place after selection has completed.  
  1. Members begin by nominating the four best teams in no particular order.  
  2. The four teams who receive the most votes will be placed on the next ballot.
  3. Teams will then be ranked 1-4 (same scoring as above).  The top two teams with the least amount of points will be locked into the #1 and #2 seeds.  The two remaining teams will be carried over to the next round.
  4. Members will again nominate their top four remaining teams, with the top two added to the ballot with the remaining teams from the previous voting round.
  5. Steps 3-4 are repeated until all 16 teams are seeds, with round 8 only consisting of the two remaining seeds.
  1. Teams will be placed into a straight 16 team bracket (1-16, 2-15, 3-14, 4-13, 5-12, 6-11, 7-10, 8-9) with no regions.
  2. Teams may be moved one line from their true seed in order to avoid either a conference opponent or other regular season rematch in the first round, or to when swapping teams keep a team from having to travel cross-country. 
  3. The first two rounds will be played at the higher seed's stadium.  In the event the higher seeded team cannot host, the lower seeded team should host.  In the event neither team can host, a neutral site should be arranged.
Wow, that was in depth, but this is never gonna happen, right?  Not unless the NCAA comes to their senses and finally gives me control of things, but I haven't gotten the hint that they're ready to do that quite yet.  As long as the power five conferences are running things, they'll make sure to stack things with smaller fields and keep the smaller schools out of it.  Win the MAC and you're headed to Mobile for the Bowl!  What kid doesn't grow up dreaming about that.  No more illusions of a "true" national champion.  120 teams enter with a path to the trophy, only one walks away.  There's only one way there, and my system does just that.