Month: January 2010

Philly’s Finest

Ryan Brooks and the Temple Owls are flying high

Yes, I know everyone knows about Villanova, but do you know who gave the Wildcats their lone defeat. That would be the Temple Owls. Temple has quietly put together its best season sense the days of Mark Karcher and Pepe Sanchez and they show no signs of stopping.

The Owls have a RPI of 11 and boast wins over five teams in this week’s bracket,two of their three losses came against Georgetown and Kansas, and they have a 9-2 record in road/neutral games.

Led by the backcourt of Juan Fernandez and Ryan Brooks, Temple has the guards to be competitive with anyone on the perimter. Lavoy Allen, in the paint, held Greg Monroe of Georgetown to a stalemate earlier in the season so the Owls are set in the frontcourt as well.

Dayton was the preseason favorite, but Temple has decided that wasn’t going to happen on its watch. Fran Dunphy made Big 5 rival, Penn into an Ivy League power and he’s doing the same at Temple.

Stock Up: UAB. Another team rolling along in relative obscurity, the Blazers sit tied with Tulsa atop of Conference USA and they’re the best hope of an at-large bid in the conference. They’ve beaten Cincinnati and Butler and can really put some distance between themselves and the rest of the conference. With Tulsa and UTEP coming in, they can put their mark on the league this year.

Stock Down: Clemson. Doesn’t it seem like we come to the same place every year with the Tigers. They pile up wins against cupcakes in the non-conference only to show their real stripes in conference play. The Tigers actually played pretty well in their loss at Georgia Tech, but they were awful in the loss at home to Duke. We’ll see if they can bounce back down the stretch.

Stock Up: Old Dominion. I didn’t know what to make of the Monarchs after losing by 16 at George Mason. Well I know what to make now. This is a legitimate at-large contender with wins over Georgetown and Charlotte. They’re tied for first in the CAA with Northeastern and George Mason and they controll they are in complete control of their NCAA tournament fate.

Stock Down: Minnesota. I don’t know what’s wrong with Minnesota, but it better get its act together fast. There’s no shame in losing to Michigan St, but twice in the span of three games with another loss to Indiana in between is not good at all. This was a preseason top 20 team and now the Gophers are on the wrong side of the bubble. Not a good place to be with the bubble being as strong as its been in years.

This week’s bracket projections:

Last Four In: Charlotte, William & Mary, Northwestern, Cincinnati
Last Four Out: Louisville, Wichita State, Notre Dame, Maryland

1.Kentucky16.Lehigh/Ark-Pine Bluff Milwaukee
8.Georgia Tech9.UNLV
5.Pittsburgh12.William & Mary Jacksonville
6.Ohio St11.Siena New Orleans
3.Kansas St14.Coastal Carolina
7.Mississippi10.Rhode Island Providence
2.Georgetown15.Weber St
1.Syracuse16.Arkansas St Buffalo
8.Oklahoma St9.California
5.Vanderbilt12.Dayton Spokane
4.Gonzaga13.College of Charleston
6.Baylor11.Florida New Orleans
7.Connecticut10.Old Dominion Jacksonville
2.Duke15.East Tennessee St
1.Villanova16.Campbell Providence
8.Florida St9.Texas A&M
5.Temple12.Northwestern San Jose
4.BYU13.Louisiana Tech
6.Wake Forest11.Seton Hall Buffalo
3.Wisconsin14.Murray St
7.Northern Iowa10.Mississippi St Oklahoma City
2.Texas15.Morgan St
1.Kansas16.Robert Morris Oklahoma City
5.Butler12.Cincinnati Spokane
6.New Mexico11.Richmond San Jose
3.West Virginia14.Maine
7.Missouri10.Clemson Milwaukee
2.Michigan St15.Sam Houston St


Tar Heel Blues

North Carolina's Roy Williams has repeatedly been frustrated by his team

In the 2005-2006 season, the season after North Carolina won its previous national championship, not much was expected. All that happened was North Carolina having a surprisingly good year and Roy Williams doing perhaps his best job ever as coach. Unfortunately for Tar Heel fans, this season isn’t shaping up to be quite as successful.

The Tarheels are struggling in every since of the word right now. They are losers of three of its last four including a blowout loss at Clemson and a road loss at the College of Charleston. They are 12-6 right now and their RPI is in the 50’s. The Michigan St and Ohio St wins will go a long way for them, but if they don’t turn it around soon, this season can spiral out of control.

The main reason North Carolina is in this position is because Ty Lawson plays for the Denver Nuggets. North Carolina is solid in the frontcourt, but guard play is holding it back. If they’re able to get solid play out of Larry Drew, this team can be dangerous in March. Right now though, its just not looking good for Roy Williams.

Stock Up: Ohio State. This is a completely different team with Evan Turner. As you saw by the show he put on in West Lafayette, Ind. last week, he’s clearly an All-American. In a foul-plagued game against Wisconsin, Turner still managed to score 15. This team might be too far behind Michigan St to catch the Spartans for the Big Ten regular season title. However, at full strength, this very well may be the best team in the conference.

Stock Down: UConn. The Huskies are very much in the same boat as the Tarheels, except they aren’t the defending national champions and preseason favorites to win their conference. That being said, they are reeling. They haven’t been the same since Georgetown rallied to beat them and with Texas on its way, it could get worse before it gets better.

Stock Up: BYU. The Cougars continue to be the top program in the Mountain West. They were expected to win the conference again, but they way they’re playing it looks like no one else is going to have a shot. At 17-1, the Cougars are in complete control at it appears that they’re going to sail to another NCAA tournament berth.

Stock Down: Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers are having the best year they’ve had in years, but they had an opportunity to send a message to the rest of the Big South last week and failed. The Radford Highlanders went into the Chanticleers building at took their lunch. Although the Coastal is still a game ahead, no one is going to put their money on it over Radford to win the Big South.

This Week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: St. John’s, UConn, Northwestern, Old Dominion
Last Four Out: Virginia, Notre Dame, California, Oklahoma St

1.Texas16.Lafayette/Jackson St Oklahoma City
8.Mississippi St9.Cornell
5.Temple12.Old Dominion Jacksonville
4.UAB13.St. Johns
6.Northern Iowa11.UNLV San Jose
3.Wisconsin14.Murray St
7.Clemson10.Dayton Buffalo
2.Pittsburgh15.Weber St
1.Villanova16.Morgan St Providence
8.Georgia Tech9.Minnesota
5.Baylor12.Siena Spokane
4.Gonzaga13.College of Charleston
6.Vanderbilt11.Cincinnati New Orleans
3.Kansas St14.Pacific
7.Richmond10.Illinois Jacksonville
2.Duke15.Coastal Carolina
1.Kansas16.Campbell Oklahoma City
8.William&Mary9.Rhode Island
5.BYU12.UConn San Jose
4.Purdue13.Louisiana Tech
6.Ohio St11.Washington New Orleans
7.Wake Forest10.Texas A&M Buffalo
2.Syracuse15.Sam Houston St
1.Kentucky16.Quinnipiac Milwaukee
8.Missouri9.Arizona St
5.Butler12.Northwestern Spokane
4.West Virginia13.Western Kentucky
6.Xavier11.North Carolina Providence
7.New Mexico10.Mississippi Milwaukee
2.Michigan St15.Vermont

West Coast Woes

Pac-10 is a league at the bottom

Most people knew this would be a bad year for the Pac-10. However, no one would predict the conference’s performance would be this bad. I’ve never seen a BCS conference be this bad. What compounds the problem is the Pac-10’s best team may be USC, and it has self-imposed sanctions that makes it ineligible for the NCAA Tournament.

Washington was the preseason favorite and it has started 0-3 in league play. The Huskies just wrapped up a weekend in the desert where they lost to Arizona and Arizona St by 17 points each. Oregon looked like a team that was on the come up until it lost at home to Oregon St, a team that lost by 51 to Seattle (not the Supersonics-theyre in Oklahoma City now).

Cal started slow due to the absence of Theo Robertson. The Bears have picked up their play since he’s returned and I expect them to be the team people expected them to be in the preseason. However, who’s going to step up with them? Arizona St., Washington, Washington St, Oregon? Somebody else has to show they can play good basketball or the chance that a BCS conference only gets one team in the NCAA tournament becomes a very distinct possibility.

Stock Up: Jamie Dixon. I don’t know how he’s doing it, but I’m not sure anyone expected Pittsburgh to be this good this season. The lost Sam Young, DeJuan Blair, and LeVance Fields and they’re still rolling. They’re win at Syracuse last week may have been the most impressive win by any team all year. Then, they followed that win with another road victory at Cincinnati. Dixon is definitely doing his best to win Big East Coach of the Year honors.

Stock Down: Creighton. I don’t know what’s going on in Omaha, but this team is in the top-5 of my most disappointing teams this year. I was confident in predicting this team as a strong at-large candidate, but any team that can’t beat Iona at home doesn’t deserve any postseason consideration.

Stock Up: The Ivy League. Last week, the nation witnessed Cornell take Kansas to the brink of one of the biggest regular season upsets in college basketball history. What people need to realize is the Ivy is a one-team show. Harvard is there as well and after it has beaten William&Mary, Boston College, and given UConn all it can handle, this conference may make a case for multiple NCAA tournament bids.

Stock Down: Schedule makers at North Carolina and Missouri. Both of these teams were in the Elite 8 last season. Both of these teams are in power conferences. Why would they play road games at the College of Charleston and Oral Roberts respectively. There’s a lot more risk than reward in playing those games and for both teams, they experienced the worst possible outcomes.

This week’s bracket projections:

Last Four In: Richmond, Louisville, Texas Tech, Notre Dame
Last Four Out: Old Dominion, Northwestern, Alabama, Missouri St

1.Texas16.Prarie View/Long Island Oklahoma City
8.Cornell9.New Mexico
5.North Carolina12.Texas Tech Jacksonville
6.Vanderbilt11.St. Mary’s Providence
3.West Virginia14.Murray St
7.Northern Iowa10.Florida St Buffalo
2.Michigan St15.Denver
1.Purdue16.Morgan St Milwaukee
8.Texas A&M9.Miami (FL)
5.Temple12.Louisville Spokane
4.BYU13.Louisiana Tech
6.Tennessee11.California San Jose
3.Kansas St14.Northern Colorado
7.Wake Forest10.Illinois Buffalo
2.Syracuse15.East Tennessee St
1.Kansas16.Vermont Oklahoma City
8.Georgia Tech9.Minnesota
5.Butler12.Notre Dame Spokane
4.Gonzaga13.Kent St
6.Oklahoma St11.Mississippi New Orleans
3.Wisconsin14.College of Charleston
7.Rhode Island10.William&Mary Providence
2.Villanova15.UT-San Antonio
1.Kentucky16.Lehigh Milwaukee
5.UConn12.Siena San Jose
6.Dayton11.Mississippi St New Orleans
7.UNLV10.Missouri Jacksonville
2.Duke15.Coastal Carolina