Tag:A10
Posted on: February 4, 2012 5:05 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2012 5:28 pm
 

Afternoon Delight: Daytime games don't disappoint

I can't even bite into pudding after seeing Ronald Nored's chipped Chiclet. Butler fell 65-61 to Detroit. (Mocksession.com)

By Matt Norlander

On busier Saturdays and Sundays this season, we’re not going to make you wait until the end of the slate of games to catch up with all that’s happened. Afternoon Delight (3-pointers in flight!) recaps the first five-or-so hours’ worth of action, the perfecta appetizer right before dinnertime.

The best we’ve seen so far:  The Buckeyes got their first win at Kohl since 2000. Thad Matta won in Madison for the first time. It was close. It was quintessential Big Ten basketball, which means I took fadeaway shots with balled-up socks at my living room garbage can to pass the time and make up for lost entertainment. Jared Sullinger’s performance is addressed below. As for Wisconsin, my adoration’s worn off. I still may pick it to win a game in March, but at this point, I’d be happier getting burned and being wrong if they managed to make the second weekend. Team is limited, Jordan Taylor will never get back the level of play he was at last season and UW is all too frustrating to be invested in anymore.

Deserving of a free dinner at the restaurant of their choice: It was the inter-conference game that had the most intrigue. Xavier at Memphis. X led most of the way, bloating its lead in the second half to 10 with six minutes remaining. It looked good and in control. Then, a Memphis run. The Tigers finished the game on a 21-6 run. Memphis looks good now. It needs to avoid getting stupid in C-USA and it will saunter into the tournament. Xavier gets to ride the carousel in the A10 and hope it plays better than 90 percent of the league. No guarantee.  

No soup for youI’d like to go out and thank Georgetown for exposing South Florida. The Hoyas won at home today over USF, 75-45. Few bought into the Bulls, but losing like this will convince everyone that Stan Heath’s team isn’t, and never was, tournament-worthy.  

Afternoon all-stars

  1. Sully went for 24 and 10 and had three steals to boot. Eagerly awaiting what Thomas Robinson does to respond in the marquee game tonight in Columbia.
  2. Who is Pat Connaughton? Seriously. I have no idea. Somebody whip up a profile piece. This freshman had 23 and 11 in Notre Dame’s big win over Marquette.
  3. Jamelle Hagins, who plays for Borzello’s Delaware Blue Hens, had 18 rebounds in a UD W over James Madison.
  4. Vandy might’ve lost, but Jeff Taylor had 25 points, six boards and four steals. He was on his game today. He plays like that going forward, Vandy’s a Sweet 16 team. I swear!
  5. Props to VMI’s Keith Gabriel who, as of this post, has a day-high 32. VMI beat Winthrop 86-79.
  6. Andre Drummond had seven blocks and a filthy alley-oop which is not yet available on the Web.

Other daytime action worth your attention

  1. Florida State is a 7-1 ACC team after defeating Virginia at home, 58-55. Want to emphasize just how good this is for FSU, which is halfway home in conference play and will remain atop the ACC standings with Duke and North Carolina. Virginia falls further behind the pack. The Cavs and Seminoles traded turnovers with each other, but at least the game kept my attention, which isn’t the case with 90 percent of tilts involving ACC teams this year.  
  2. Anyone who tries to make Notre Dame’s 76-59 defeat of Marquette more about the Golden Eagles isn’t giving the right due to Mike Brey, who I’m fairly certain came thisclose to having to start a Gatorade cooler earlier this season. The Fighting Irish are now a 7-3 Big East team with DePaul, Villanova and Rutgers aligned in three of their next four games. My God, the Irish stand a good chance of cracking the field! Anything to keep mock turtlenecks relevant: I’m for it.
  3. Goodman will have more on Vanderbilt falling 73-65 at Florida. I’m guessing he’ll be writing Florida, so let me say something quickly on Vandy: I’M STILL NOT GIVING UP ON YOU. LOOK AT ME. WE CAN MAKE THIS WORK.
  4. UConn’s 69-46, Calhoun coached-less win at home over Seton Hall came as dominantly as the Huskies and their fans could have asked for. But we can’t overreact. Seton Hall didn’t have Herb Pope. And Seton Hall has white guys who can’t shoot. Road tests ahead for the Huskies, and it’s then we’ll find out if the team’s got gumption or not. Beating hobbling roadkill like SHU isn’t going to capture the committee’s attention.

Delightful (and not-so delightful) thoughts

  • Difference between home and road. Jan. 14, Baylor plays Okie State at home, wins 106-65. Saturday, Baylor plays Okie State on road, wins 64-60. And if you’ve got a problem with “Okie State,” just know I’ll never stop writing it that way.
  • Fab Melo scored a career-high 14 points after missing three games due to academic troubles. As a people, we cannot let Melo’s haircut to continue, however.
  • Arizona went into Palo Alto and cleaned up the Cardinal, winning 56-43. It basically means nothing, though.
  • I’ll have something on the A10 tonight or tomorrow—depending on how crazy the evening games get—in how it’s a beautiful disaster of sorts. That was reinforced this afternoon once top-ranked La Salle fell to St. Joe’s, 70-66.
  • I’m thrilled to report I’ll continue to not pay attention to Arkansas, as I was alerted to the fact the Hogs fell on the road again today, losing at lousy LSU, 71-65.
Posted on: January 30, 2012 10:01 am
Edited on: January 30, 2012 10:03 am
 

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 11


By Matt Norlander

We keep hearing about this week bubble we’ve got. In other news, it’s 2003. Or is it 2006? Oh, 2009, you say? The year, it’s irrelevant. Each season the soft, soapy exterior of the bubble is a lament as annual and predictable as the degradation of Tom Izzo’s voice. It’s part of basketball and we need to accept it rather than moan about it.

If it’s true, if the at-large field proves to be weak once again, then I’m reinforcing my suggestion from last week to a higher degree: the teams listed below here, plenty of them, will be breaking lamps and jumping on couches at the big party in March. Too many good groups here not to have some serious “upset” potential in the big bracket. Because a lot of these teams are going to get matched up against that weak at-large competition.

By the way, you can see some of the hints in the schedules upcoming, but I expect this week to be the last one where real possibility for great shifts and movement in the Pyramid come about.

Top Tier

Dave Rice is proving to be quite a boss. (AP)

1. UNLV (20-3). A Sentence:  If they get a good draw I will not hesitate to put UNLV into the Elite Eight, and I’m sort of hoping they drop a game or two soon so plenty get thrown off the scent. A Statistic: The MWC owns a non-con winning percentage of .772. That’s better than the ACC (.690), Big East (.764) SEC (.734) and of course the Pac-12 (.596), but who’s including them in this, really? The Schedule: vs. Colorado State, Wednesday; at Wyoming, Saturday.

2. Murray State (21-0). A Sentence: I have only one request: give us Saint Mary’s at Murray State, BracketBusters overlords. A Statistic:  Murray State is more than 100 spots better in points per possession and points per possession allowed than every OVC team except Jacksonville State, which is 37 spots behind MSU in PPPD on KenPom.  The Schedule: vs. Southeast Missouri State, Thursday; at Tennessee Martin, Saturday.

3. Creighton (20-2). A Sentence: You think I’m all KenPom cheerleader, think again, because the man uses a special formula that somehow has Doug McDermott ludicrously ranked 10th in his player-of-the-year chase. A Statistic: When it comes to usage—what percent a player is directly involved in a play, whether by scoring or assisting—McDermott is the leader in the Valley at 31.8. The drop-off on the Blue Jays is gargantuan, as Antoine Young’s the next-highest in the Valley is No. 25 overall in usage, per BBState.com. The Schedule: vs. Illinois State, Wednesday; at Northern Iowa, Saturday.

Ron Swanson Approves

4. Saint Mary’s (21-2). A Sentence: It’s this simple: avoid the bad losses and the Gaels will be, at worst, a five seed.  A Statistic: The Gaels always under-schedule in terms of how many games they COULD play if they wanted. I approve of the method, even if Randy Bennett doesn’t challenge his team as much as he obviously could. What I’m getting at is, even counting the BracketBusters bonus game, SMC has completed 77 percent of its schedule already. Season is flying by. The Schedule: vs. San Diego, Thursday.

5. Harvard (18-2). A Sentence: I saw this team Friday night, and all I can say is, they’re going to be very good for years to come. A Statistic: Through four games, Harvard opponents in the Ivy are scoring 44.8 points per game. The Schedule: vs. Cornell, Friday; vs. Columbia, Saturday.

6. San Diego State (18-3). A Sentence: Was Saturday night’s 77-60 loss at Colorado State just an inevitability, or will we see a different SDSU team going forward? A Statistic: I just realized this, but something the team and coaches have to be proud of—SDSU won California this year. They went 7-0 against Eureka State competition and won’t face another Cali team this year, unless the tournament enables it. The Schedule: vs. Boise State, Wednesday; vs. TCU, Saturday.

7. Oral Roberts (20-4). A Sentence: If ORU can manage to sweep the Dakota States this week, in all likelihood they’ll be No. 4 or 5 in next week’s rankings. A Statistic: Scott Sutton’s team has compiled quite the nice 14-game winning streak, and in those games, ORU is winning by an average of 12.1 points per game. Not barely skating by by any means.. The Schedule: at South Dakota, Thursday; at North Dakota State, Saturday.

8. Gonzaga (17-3). A Sentence: Does that Thursday game give you the wary feeling that I’m getting right now? A Statistic: Since November of 2010, Gonzaga is 10-7 on the road. The Schedule: at BYU, Thursday; at Pepperdine, Saturday.

9. New Mexico (17-4). A Sentence: No-doubt-about-it wins last week at home over sneaky Colorado State and TCU is good for business. A Statistic: Drew Gordon, a player I like more than most, is taking 29.2 percent of the defensive-rebound opportunities that are presented to him. Top-10 in the country. Gordon needs to get even more aggressive for UNM to be a difference-maker. The Schedule: at Air Force, Tuesday; at Boise State, Saturday.

10. Temple (15-5). A Sentence: Michael Eric’s long-awaited, critical return is a big thing for Temple and the A10, which now could be the Owls’ league to take. A Statistic: When Eric plays, Temple is 6-1. The Schedule: vs. Fordham, Wednesday; at Rhode Island, Saturday.

Base Blocks

11. Wichita State (17-3). A Sentence: Triple-OT loss at Drake doesn’t mean Witchy must fall in the Pyramid of Swanson. A Statistic: I teased my Gregg Marshall piece last week, and since it’s run, I want to point you to it, because I’ve got a couple of charts in there worth looking at. The Schedule: at Missouri State, Wednesday; vs. Indiana State, Saturday.

12. Middle Tennessee State (20-3): A Sentence: Didn’t get embarrassed at Vandy, which was good, but now can’t dwell on the loss and have to turn around and win two conference road games this week. A Statistic: At least five of these remain, still, but what a difference a year makes. In terms of road/neutral games, MTSU lost 12 last year. Right now the number’s only two. Now, the bitch about being MTSU—realistically, the team can only afford one more road/neutral loss of any kind, lest it be NIT-bound. The Schedule: at North Texas, Thursday; at Denver, Saturday.

Southern Miss fell to Memphis the first time this season. It needs to avenge the loss this week to stay in the Pyramid. (AP)

13. Southern Miss (19-3). A Sentence: More than any team I’ve omitted this season, I’ve received tweets and haranguing emails from folks about not including USM, so I’ve finally caved. A Statistic: The last time Larry Eustachy had a season this good? You guessed it: ’99-00 with Iowa State, when the ‘Clones got to 22-3 before dropping a fourth game. The Schedule: vs. Memphis, Wednesday.

14. Nevada (18-3). A Sentence: The Wolf Pack (not Wolfpack!) also make their Pyramid debut—can they handle this incredible newfound pressure? A Statistic: If you’d like to know what this team does better than anything else, it’s shoot the 3. Nevada sinks 39.1 percent from behind the arc. Overall, by the way, this team does not stand out on paper, but the one impressive stat on the sheet: it hasn’t lost since the day after Thanksgiving. The Schedule: vs. Utah State, Thursday; vs. Idaho, Saturday.

15. Iona (17-5). A Sentence: The Siena loss, blowing the 18-point lead, was extremely damaging and now puts Iona on weak ice. A Statistic: Point guard Scott Machado has been so big, but it’s Mike Glover’s consistency that I think is keeping Iona going. As of Sunday, Glover was shooting 66.8 percent from the field, fourth-best in the nation in overall field-goal percentage, but more strictly, from two-point range. The Schedule: vs. Canisius, Thursday; at Manhattan, Saturday.

Roaming outside the Pyramid:

♦ Out this week: Dayton, which made me look foolish by losing t St. Joe’s and then Rhode f’ing Island. Saint Louis is also gone, which is deserved for losing to UMass, but also speaks to the Atlantic 10 in general, which has become the ultimate mixing bowl of a conference. In: Southern Miss, Nevada.
♦ Cleveland State is so close. I actually sat and thought and debated between Cleveland State and Iona for five minutes.  
♦ I told Weber State it would be in if it could win at lowly Sacramento State and Idaho State. The latter did not come to be, so who knows if Damian Lillard’s team ever cracks the Pyramid this year.

Posted on: January 23, 2012 9:36 am
Edited on: January 23, 2012 11:10 am
 

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 10



By Matt Norlander

Each week I’m so impressed by the group of teams below because they’re all so good. You think this is a down year for college basketball? I don’t know — is it? At this level it’s not. All of these teams are good-to-great. All — yes, all — can win two games in March.

The more I examine the tendencies and DNAs of these teams, the more I think the Saturday and Sunday, Round of 32 games in March will have at least a third of the current Pyramid playing. Could easily be more, too. That’s a great sign for the “small guys,” who are anything but that. It was about six weeks ago when I thought there was a significant drop-off between the top three teams and the rest of the rankings. Not anymore. One through eight here is a narrow margin, and teams nine through 15 are just as smooshed together.

Top Tier

1. UNLV (18-3). A Sentence:  Check out this cool, dotted chart on Vegas’ Mike Moser. A Statistic: UNLV is shooting 54.4 percent from two-point range — they’ve never finished so high in the past decade. The Schedule: at Boise State, Wednesday; at Air Force, Saturday.

2. Murray State (20-0). A Sentence: I may think this team will lose a game before the end of February, but I’m not stubborn enough to not vault them after reaching 20 wins, zero losses. A Statistic:  And this is what speaks to how tough it is to go undefeated. The Racers have nine games left. KenPom still has them well under 50 percent (45.3) to finish the regular season without a loss. And that’s only taking into account the rest of the crummy OVC. There’s a worthy, tough, home BracketBusters game still coming, so you’d think the real percentage is somewhere around 40.  The Schedule: vs. Eastern Illinois, Saturday.

The only thing holding the Racers and head coach Steve Prohm back is apparently this tie. (AP)

3. Creighton (18-2). A Sentence: Doug McDermott is firmly at No. 2 in our Player of the Year chase. A Statistic: There’s a correlation to Creighton’s winning I’m seeing. The Bluejays have been at the top of effective field goal percentage all season long (currently leading hoops at 59.1 percent), and they sort of have to shoot that well, because they don’t turn teams over. The 16.9 charity rate is among the bottom five percent. The Schedule: at Drake, Wednesday; vs. Bradley, Saturday.

Ron Swanson Approves

4. Saint Mary’s (19-2). A Sentence: I wonder how many coaching offers Randy Bennett will seek/get after this season.  A Statistic: The Gaels have started 8-0 in conference play. The last time that happened? No, seriously, can anyone tell me? This resource doesn't seem to be available online. UPDATE! A Richard Kilwien has emailed to link me to the SMC record book, which indicates the last time the Gaels started this strong in conference was '58-'59. Yowza! The Schedule: at Loyola Marymount, Thursday; at BYU, Saturday.

5. San Diego State (17-2). A Sentence: Steve Fisher has had one hell of a career, but I bet he’d tell you this is among his most charmed, rewarding seasons. A Statistic: I have to use three. Four players average double figures; five players grab more than four rebounds per game; and only two players commit more than two turnovers per contest. The Schedule: at New Mexico, Wednesday; vs. Air Force, Saturday.

6. Harvard (16-2). A Sentence: Crimson could be just as good as any other two-loss team you see listed here. A Statistic: The Crimson play out to 61.9 possessions per game, which is the slowest of any Pyramid team (beating Saint Louis’ 62.1). The 61.9 is ranked 326th out of 345. The Schedule: at Yale, Friday; at Brown, Saturday.

Dominique Morrison and Oral Roberts are plowing through the Summit League. (AP)

7. Oral Roberts (18-4). A Sentence: Tearing through the Summit, when it was Oakland or South Dakota State, by most, who was expected to win the league. A Statistic: the Golden Eagles’ offense is operating a clip it never has in the KenPom era prior to this season. With an adjusted efficiency of 112.7 points per 100 possessions, ORU has become one of the most potent “mid-major” scoring teams, and it’s led by Dominique Morrison, who scores a scorching 1.26 PPP. Spicy. The Schedule: vs. South Dakota, Thursday; vs. Missouri-Kansas City, Saturday.

8. Gonzaga (16-3). A Sentence: I ask just to have you ask this to yourself. Do you think Mark Few passing on so many jobs in the past five, six years was a good thing for him? A Statistic: You can’t call the Zags soft. Their foul shots make up for almost half of their fields, a rate of 48.3, which is top-10 in the nation. The Schedule: at Portland, Thursday.

9. New Mexico (15-4). A Sentence:  I’m a hopeless romantic in that I won’t just abandon ship entirely because New Mexico couldn’t beat San Diego State and UNLV in their first tries. A Statistic: I remain troubled that New Mexico doesn’t lead its conference in one major statistic right now. The Schedule: vs. Colorado State, Wednesday; vs. Texas Christian, Saturday.

10. Iona (15-4). A Sentence: Once the Pyramid’s top-rated team, Iona needs to prep for what I think is going to be a strenuous three-week stretch in the MAAC. A Statistic: Iona should chase down its third straight 20-win season, making it the first time since 1998 the Gaels have gone through straight years hitting the acclaimed benchmark. The Schedule: at Siena, Monday; at Fairfield, Friday.

Base Blocks

10. Dayton (14-5). A Sentence: The Archie-Miller-looks-so-young jokes are coming, folks. A Statistic: But you want to know why Dayton can win like this? It’s top seven minutes-getters are juniors or seniors. The Schedule: at St. Joseph’s, Wednesday; vs. Rhode Island, Saturday.

12. Wichita State (17-3). A Sentence: I kind of hate myself for refusing to put Wichita State in the Swanson category, but I’m making it up to you by posting a Gregg Marshall feature later today. A Statistic: Marshall has been a head coach since 1997. Only once, his first year at WSU, did he have a team finish under .500. The Schedule: vs. Evansville, Wednesday; at Drake, Saturday.

13. Middle Tennessee State (19-2): A Sentence: This would be a 20-1 team if not for a three-point, double-overtime loss to Belmont in mid-November. A Statistic: You’ll often see effective field goal percentage referenced here. It’s a truer gauge of a team’s shooting than actual field goal percentage, which sometimes can get really off-balanced. Middle Tennessee State is 19-2, primarily, because opponents are shooting 42.4 percent in eFG. That’s fifth-best in the nation. The Schedule: vs. Troy, Thursday; at Vanderbilt, Saturday.

14. Temple (13-5). A Sentence: The Owls remain worthy of inclusion after not letting the outcome enter into a discussion of doubt against Maryland Saturday. A Statistic: Ramone Moore is continually playing too many minutes. He’s in the game 90 percent of the time, up from 83.7 percent last year. As a result, he’s now scoring less than a point per possession (.99; last year it was 1.05) and his effective field goal percentage has dipped from 49.9 last year to 46.1. Moore’s going to need more breathers if Temple’s going to win big in the long-term. The Schedule: at Charlotte, Wednesday; vs. St. Joseph’s, Saturday.

15. Saint Louis (15-4). A Sentence: I’ve got a funny feeling Saint Louis is spending its last week inside the Pyramid here — for the rest of the season. A Statistic: By any credible measuring system — KenPom, Sagarin, Palm, LRMC—the Billikens haven’t beaten a top-100 team since Nov. 27 (Oklahoma). The Schedule: at Xavier, Wednesday; at UMass, Saturday.

Roaming outside the Pyramid:

♦ Out this week: Just like last week, we have no changes. OK, so here’s what I’ll do. I’ll address each fringe three- or four-loss team and what it needs to do to earn inclusion next week or the week after.
♦ Southern Miss. I’m perhaps unreasonably skeptical. The tempo-free numbers don’t look good, plus this team has yet to beat a legit squad. Long way to go.
♦ Nevada. Two road conference game Ws this week are all that stand between standing on the outside and entering the tomb.
♦ Cleveland State. Not even the Horizon’s best team yet. Take control of the league first, which is a one-bid league, too.
♦ Weber State. Fairly certain the Wildcats replace Saint Louis in next week’s Pyramid, so long as they win both of their games this week.
♦ Ohio. Once a Pyramid team, now 3-2 in the mediocre MAC. May not get back if it endures one more loss.
♦ Central Florida. Donnie Jones’ team is the only one of any featured that hasn’t been able to string together a really long win streak. Can it do that going forward? Not seeing it.


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Posted on: January 21, 2012 5:57 pm
 

Afternoon Delight: Dayton now pulling rank in A10

Archie Miller isn't truly this concerned. (Getty Images)

By Matt Norlander

On busier Saturdays and Sundays this season, we’re not going to make you wait until the end of the slate of games to catch up with all that’s happened. Afternoon Delight (threeeee-pointers in flight!) recaps the first five-or-so hours’ worth of action, the perfecta appetizer right before dinnertime.

Before we get going, the We Back Pat shirts are great and for sale. If you caught the UConn-Tenessee game on CBS today, you saw everyone on the bench wearing them.

The best we’ve seen so far:  It’s the game that just ended as we’re posting this. Cincinnati went into West Virginia, fresh off that win at UConn Wednesday night, and couldn’t claw its way to a win against the Mountaineers, falling 77-74 in overtime. Crowd was frenzied; it was a great watch. God bless the WVU mascot, who could easily charge $500 for party appearances on campus.

I maintain Cincy’s the league’s second-best team until the end of the Syracuse game Monday night. Dennis Kilicli’s left hook shot, by the way, that thing is awesome.

The second-best we’ve seen: Missouri’s win over Baylor. Goodman covered that. I’ll only add that Missouri, in my estimation, would be a one seed if the tournament started today. They’ve deserved it. Tigers as a one … incredible to think about. Frank Haith is no believer in 40-degree days, I bet.

Deserving of a free dinner at the restaurant of their choice: Dayton welcomed Xavier into UD Arena and showed X who’s boss. 87-72, Flyers, and enjoy the 30-minute ride home, Musketeers. Boss-like. A no-doubt-about-it win for UD, who I’ve said for a month now is destined to be a tournament team. Archie Miller is amid the chase for national coach of the year, thanks to Goodman loving the little guy so much. We may have a post on young Archie by the time you stop reading Afternoon Delight.

No soup for you: It was a game that got closer than any one man, woman or child could have predicted. Georgetown 52, Rutgers 50, your life after watching it, 0.

Afternoon all-stars

  1. Phil Pressey: 18 points, seven assists, six steals, five rebounds.
  2. Pieere Jackson: 20 points, 15 assists, four rebounds.
  3. Ricardo Ratlifee: 27 points, eight rebounds.
  4. Quincy Miller also had 27 in a losing effort.
  5. Oh, are we supposed to pick out players who didn’t get involved in Missouri-Baylor? I can do that. Hmm … Stan Okoye had a best-so-far 18 rebounds for VMI.
  6. Maalik Wayns scored 28 points in the most Maalik Wayns way possible, lifting Villanova to a 79-76 OT win at MSG against St. John's.
  7. JaMychal Green gave 'Bama 22 and 12 and was the most impressive forward on the floor in the 'Bama-UK game.

Other daytime action worth your attention

  1. Kentucky should win at home. That said, there won’t be three teams that play the Wildcats in Rupp as well as Alabama did. Falling 77-71, I was as impressed with the Tide today as I’ve been in any other game, and I’ve been high on the Tide for most of the year. Still think this team should make the Sweet 16 if it falls in a quadrant that doesn’t have a potent offensive team.
  2. It’s a nice win for Arkansas, but I’m not sure Michigan falling on the road in Fayetteville (66-64) will ultimately mean anything. Arkansas isn’t a good loss, but it doesn’t affect the Big Ten chase and UM is going to be a single-digit seed regardless. Doubt this truly affects whether they end up as a four, five or six seed.
  3. Temple is going to remain in the Power Pyramid Monday because it Maryland 73-60. Terps aren’t as good as the Owls and it should today. Maryland was without one man today, assistant Dalonte Hill, who was arrested for suspicion of DUI. He’ll be out, minimum, two games. This is a big deal; Hill is one of the highest-paid assistants in hoops. Driving while drunk is dumber than agreeing to play Temple at the Palestra.
  4. Georgia State started hot in the Colonial. Now it’s 5-3 after falling in 50 minutes to Borzello’s alma mater, Delabro—er—Delaware.
  5. Win the road games over non-tournament teams in conference. That’s how good teams become NCAA tournament teams. Kansas State beat Okie State in Stillwater, 66-58. I’ve my doubts about Kansas State, but I know it’s no OSU.

Delightful (and not-so delightful) thoughts

  • Michigan State pummeled Purdue 83-58. That’s not much of a story. This, however, is. State's students mocked Robbie Hummel's affliction with knee injuries today. Purdue coach Matt Painter was incensed enough with the vocal, rude fan that he started verbally sparring with him. Let's put these kinds of taunts away forever and instead turn our attention to the fact Purdue is slipping into a bad bubble team.
  • In the battle of The Two Schools Everyone Gets Confused With One and Other, Florida Atlantic beat Florida International, 66-64. In other words, Isiah Thomas lost, so you’re probably happy.
  • Any hopes Belmont had of running game in the A-Sun this year like it did last year are gone, as the Bruins got beat at always-cagey USC Upstate.
Posted on: January 16, 2012 9:39 am
Edited on: January 16, 2012 10:08 am
 

Non-BCS Power Pyramid, Week 9


By Matt Norlander

It was a long weekend — in a good way. But no time to dilly nor to dally. Let’s get to the tally. A few sentences before the rankings. You’ll notice the teams involved this week are the same from last week. There’s some jiggering in the standings, but that’s it.

For fans of teams not involved in the Pyramid, once more, here goes: the rankings are assembled only according to my chicken brain and involve a combination of 1) how good, in general, I think the team is at the second I post the Pyramid, 2) Has the team proven itself and gone against better teams than others? That plays a factor, as does a lack of good opponents, even if that’s in conference play. I know a lot of teams play in bad conferences, but I’m not going to continue raising their ranking if other teams are playing tougher opponents, losing the occasional game. Thirdly, this is not an AP or Coaches Poll. If you lose you don’t necessarily drop. If you win you don’t necessarily rise.

Finally, when it comes down to a “tiebreaker” of sorts, if all things are equal, I pick the team I think would win this afternoon in an empty gym somewhere in the middle of Vermont. The Peter King-ism of the Pyramid.   

I’m loving, and appreciating, the attention the Pyramid’s been getting, at least enough to make a number of your email/tweet your disagreements. You’ve been civil and I’ve been sad to see that. Let’s get inappropriately angry already.

Top Tier

1. UNLV (16-3). A Sentence:  I do not necessarily punish for losing close, on the road, against a tournament team who also happens to be in your conference. A Statistic: What does this mean to you? UNLV is undefeated at home, but 3-3 on the road. The Schedule: vs. TCU Wednesday; vs. New Mexico Saturday.

2. New Mexico (15-2). A Sentence:  Just take a look at the schedule and you’ll see that top of the Pyramid, or as low as 7 or 8, hangs in the balance this week. A Statistic: Uncommon amongst Pyramid teams — New Mexico last on Thanksgiving. The Schedule: vs. San Diego State Wednesday; at UNLV Saturday.

3. Creighton (16-2). A Sentence: Barring some real stinkers in the MVC, I don’t see how Creighton possibly falls out of the top five the rest of the way. A Statistic: I asked Patrick Marshall, who runs @wildjays, what his favorite stat about this team is. He offered up the fact Doug McDermott hit 1,000 points in 57 games. It took Creighton’s all-time leading scorer, Rodney Buford (’95-’99), 59 to do it. The Schedule: at Missouri State Wednesday; vs. Indiana State Saturday.

Ron Swanson Approves

4. Saint Mary’s (17-2). A Sentence: To put it simply: I didn’t think the Gaels had a shot to win 18 of their first 20 games, which they’ll do Thursday night. A Statistic: The Gaels are scoring 1.15 points per trip, which is good for No. 9 in the nation. Yes, very good, and so good that they’ve not finished this high in efficiency in the past decade — or more. The Schedule: vs. Pepperdine Thursday; at Santa Clara Saturday.

5. Murray State (18-0). A Sentence: Plenty think I’m anti-Murray State, and that’s simply not the case. A Statistic: The Racers have a 37.4 percent of finishing unbeaten in the regular season, according to KenPom.  My brain calculus says it’s about an even 50/50 of getting into the NCAAs unscathed. And I still don’t think they do it — BUT I WANT THEM TO DO YOU HEAR ME HATERS I AM ROOTING FOR THIS. The Schedule: at Morehead State Wednesday; at SIU Edwardsville Saturday.

6. San Diego State (15-2). A Sentence: After about 40 days of playing garbage competition, the Aztecs pull out a two-point win in Saturday’s most exciting game (against UNLV), officially making Steve Fisher a wizard. A Statistic: Most incredible aspect to SDSU’s win over UNLV was the glaring difference in offensive-rebound rate (40 to 20). UNLV had 19 second-chance opportunities; Aztecs had six — and didn’t even shoot better than 50 percent, effectively, from the field. The Schedule: at New Mexico Wednesday; vs. Air Force Saturday.

7. Harvard (15-2). A Sentence: It’s not that I’m down on Harvard, I’m just higher on the higher teams, who’ve been getting chances to prove more and win more definitively than the Crimson. A Statistic: Some more crowd-sourcing was done here. I asked John Ezekowitz, who helps run the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective blog, what his favorite Crimson stat is. He offered up a few, but this one’s great. The program has set, plus broken. its record for fewest points allowed in a half twice this year. Earlier this season it was just 14 allowed against Florida State, and on Saturday, Harvard held George Washington to 13. The Schedule: at Dartmouth Saturday.

8. Gonzaga (14-3). A Sentence: Gonzaga has notable wins, but look closer and you’ll see they’re not great — merely good. A Statistic: Robert Sacre reaches the foul line 93 percent of the time compared to the field goal attempts he has. That’s an incredible rate—third-best in this fine nation. The Schedule: vs. San Francisco Thursday; vs. San Diego Saturday.

9. Iona (14-4). A Sentence: Gaels did not mess around Sunday night, winning by 11 over Loyola (MD), who was playing with the MAAC conference lead on the line. A Statistic: Iona’s averaging 81.1 points per game, but in its four losses, that number falls to 75. Reduce possessions and reduce your risk — you’ve got a chance. The Schedule: vs. Manhattan Thursday; vs. Loyola (Maryland) Sunday.

10. Dayton (13-5). A Sentence: We do not overreact here and discriminate for one loss. A Statistic: According to BBState.com’s metrics, Dayton has the 10th-toughest schedule. But KenPom has it at 38. Seems too stark. The Schedule: vs. Xavier Saturday.

Base Blocks

11. Oral Roberts (16-4). A Sentence: Golden Eagles are already halfway (8-0) to going undefeated in the Summit. A Statistic: Dominique Morrison is in the top 10 percent in minutes played, offensive rating, usage, effective field goals and free-throw rate. Only Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan shares that distinction. The Schedule: vs. IUPU Fort Wayne Thursday; vs. Oakland Saturday.

12. Wichita State (15-3). A Sentence: While the rest of the Missouri Valley cannibalizes itself into a two-bid league, the Shockers have dodged all but a loss to tournament-bound Creighton. A Statistic: WSU’s opponents are only getting 24.1 percent of O-board chances, fourth-best in the country. The Schedule: at Northern Iowa Wednesday; vs. Southern Illinois Saturday.

13. Middle Tennessee State (17-2): A Sentence: Blue Raiders playing themselves into an awesome position, but I’m worried the committee isn’t going to value this team and will stick them with a 14. A Statistic: Blue Raiders have won all but four of their games by double digits. The Schedule: vs. Arkansas State Thursday; at South Alabama Saturday.

14. Temple (11-5). A Sentence: I want the mustache back, Fran Dunphy. A Statistic: Fran Dunphy has gone 102 days without a mustache. The Schedule: vs. La Salle Wednesday; vs. Maryland Saturday.

15. Saint Louis (14-4). A Sentence: I’ve been trending down on SLU and that continues this week; home against Duquesne likely means they’ll be in the 15 spot again next week. A Statistic: Billikens have been cheating KenPom.com’s rankings all season long. They’re currently sitting at 18, which is about 20 spots too high for my ignorant tastes. The Schedule: vs. Duquesne Saturday.

Roaming outside the Pyramid:

♦ Out this week: No one. In: No one!
♦ Three-loss non-BCS teams not in the Pyramid: Wyoming, Southern Miss, Wagner, Nevada, Cleveland State, Weber State. My guess is you’ll see three of those in the Pyramid in the next two weeks.
♦ I do not, nor will I ever, account for RPI. I love the emails, but you lovelies gotta stop referencing this unicorn stat. Kthxbai.
♦ And if you’d like to ever send me any worthwhile info or complaints about this, I encourage a follow on Twitter or emailing: matt.norlander@cbsinteractive.com.


More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: January 14, 2012 6:02 pm
 

Afternoon Delight: Big Ten home dogs hold serve



By Matt Norlander

On busier Saturdays and Sundays this season, we’re not going to make you wait until the end of the slate of games to catch up with all that’s happened. Afternoon Delight (3-pointers in flight!) recaps the first five-or-so hours’ worth of action, the perfecta appetizer right before dinnertime.

A very nice win for Iowa, and so the Tebow craze continues. I think benchwarmers are starting to revolt against all that time they spend not playing. Now they’re trying to get the attention on themselves. It’s working.

The best we’ve seen so far: Kentucky 65, Tennessee 62. Now, bear in mind, this post is going up as Kansas is fending off Iowa State and San Diego State is tied with UNLV with a few minutes remaining. I’d wait ‘til those games finish, but I’ve got dinner plans. I know—I’m sorry! We’ll have coverage from that game and all the dinnertime-and-after results as the night goes on.

So anyway, UK went into Knoxville and didn’t get done like Florida got did last Saturday in an early tip. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis continue to amaze; the two combined for 35 crucial points and 20 even more crucial rebounds. Jarnell Stokes played his first game for Tennessee. He made the Vols look real, real good.

Deserving of a free dinner at the restaurant of their choice: Northwestern, hello! We can’t downplay the significant of this win, right now, for the Wildcats. They hosted Michigan State, who’d won 15 straight games, and got out with a decisive 81-74 win. There’s so much to go (I only hope NU is bubble-worthy when I see them at Indiana next month), but beating tournament teams at home gets you closer. More times than not in the past decade, I guess ever, Northwestern doesn’t beat the good teams at home.

No soup for youNorth Carolina — need I say more? Actually, I already did.

Afternoon all-stars

  1. Shabazz Napier had to play 40 minutes because Ryan Boatright is sitting again while the NCAA and UConn review his eligibility. No matter — Napier played 40 minutes, scored 16 points, only had one turnover and put up five assists. Bigtime game for the soph.
  2. I’ll have something up on Arnett Moultrie tomorrow. I talked with him a few days ago, and damn do his quotes to me sound prophetic. Moultrie and Mississippi State got a nice home W against ’Bama today, 56-62. Moultrie went for 25 points and 13 boards. He’s getting close to being a top-10 Player of the Year candidate. Monster showing.
  3. Maalik Wayns. Had THIRTY-NINE, 13 rebounds and six dimes in Villanova’s 82-78 loss at Cincy, which was a very entertaining game, might I add.
  4. Phil Pressey finished with 18 points, 10 assists, two steals and not a one giveaway in Missouri’s cruise-control home win against Texas.

Other daytime action worth your attention

  1. It was a great team effort from Iowa. The Hawkeyes nipped Michigan in Iowa City, 75-59. No chairs were damaged, and Fran McCaffery got his team to respond. Props to him and the ’Eyes.
  2. Baylor’s 106-65 killshot to Oklahoma State has to be mentioned, because it’s a look into how scary-good Baylor can be. This won’t be among the top-10 talked about results from today, but after that W over K-State on the road, and now this at home? Baylor a top-three team now, yes?
  3. Best game no one really noticed: Saint Louis finished off Charlotte 68-67, a win the Billikens absolutely had to have on the road. Top-five game of SLU’s season right there.
  4. What can I say, I have my doubts about Kansas State. Yes, this can tie into our road-woes theme, but I think the Wildcats aren’t that good. KSU never even had a lead in its 82-73 loss at Oklahoma.
  5. Oregon 59, Arizona 57 pretty much kills off the slimmest of at-large hopes Wildcats fans had. We’re talking ’Zona needing to reel off 10 straight wins to enter the bubble picture now.
  6. New Mexico and Wyoming is what we’ll close up with. The Other Big MWC Matchup finshed with New Mexico winning 72-62 on the road. Wyoming will have to steal its SDSU and UNLV home games if it wants to make a run at the tournament.

Delightful thoughts

  • Xavier rolling again after beating the Bonnies.
  • Kevin Jones took just one 3-pointer. West Virginia beat Rutgers by 24. I told ya!
  • It was 62 years ago when second-ranked Kentucky went into Knoxville and fell.
  • This is not delightful. Virginia Tech lost at Boston College. Seth Greenberg is now on the NIT bubble.
Image via Trent Condon
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com