Big East Hoops

Archive for March, 2009

Two out of Four Ain’t Bad

March 30, 2009 8:02 pm by Coach O

Close to the quote from Meatloaf in his Bat Out of Hell cd, but not quite. Hopes of getting three Big East teams into the Final Four ala 1985 disappeared as Louisville hit the skids against Michigan State on Sunday. Louisville had been riding along in the weakest bracket after also finding themselves  on the fast track to a BET victory. Michigan State was the first real tough team the Cards met in the NCAA’s and proved to be more than the Ville could handle.

And how about Nova? What a stunning win against Pitt in the Elite Eight game  Saturday. Here is a team that many picked to struggle in the league this year. But even though they may have been in a struggle, they never gave up. Not once! We have been accused of ‘hating’ Villanova by a commenter on this site. I will say that I don’t think a hated of the Cats has ever been shown here. Not by this writer for sure. Just to let    know….. my daughter is a grad student at Villanova right now, and her fiance is graduating from Villanova Law School in May. I will say emphatically that I am not a Nova hater, but I am pleasantly surprised with their progression. As I’ve said before, no coach has the success of getting his troops to play their best ball every year in the NCAA’s like Jay Wright. I will say that as much as I’d like to see the Wildcats in the final game next Monday night, I do feel they won’t get past UNC on Saturday.

UConn has weathered all sorts of problems this year to get to the Final Four. Major injuries, coaching tirades at press conferences, recruiting violation questions all led to victories. The Huskies deserve all the credit for their great play in the NCAA’s this year. A.J. Price has turned into a major player in the Huskies run. Kemba Walker almost singlehandedly willed UConn over Mizzou. And on and on…… So they now play a road game at Michigan State on Saturday and I feel they can handle that. UConn’s road performance this year has only one blemish on it. They should have enough left to whip MSU in a tight game and then will have to play their best game by far this year to beat UNC in the final. UNC looks a little too strong for the Huskies but, lets see…….


How about a Nova-UConn championship game???????? That would be the best….!!!!!!

Bracket Breakdown (Big East Edition)

March 26, 2009 10:18 am by Dan'l B

Borrowing heavily from Ken Pomeroy’s breakdown on Basketball Prospectus (in other words, copy and paste), here’s a primer for the rest of the tournament with a Big East perspective. First, odds by round for each remaining squad (check out Ken’s article for perspective on how this compares to the rest):

Seed             Elite8 Final4 Final  Champ
1W   UConn        72.8   37.4   24.5   15.4
1MW  Louisville   77.5   47.6   26.0   12.4
1E   Pitt         68.3   40.1   17.0    9.1
3S   Syracuse     52.2   20.8    9.7    3.7
3E   Villanova    40.8   17.2    5.1    2.0

These results should resemble those I posted at the beginning of the week. Ken used updated ratings to generate these probabilities whereas I had used the pre-tournament numbers. UConn’s huge wins greatly improved their numbers, but Pitt and Louisville each lost ground thanks to their closer calls. Nova and Cuse also both improved relative to the remaining competition.

Combining all these probabilities, I generated the net probability of various events occurring. Here you go:

Sweet Sixteen Results:
5-0    8.2%
4-1   28.7%   4+    36.9%
3-2   36.2%   3+    73.1%
2-3   20.8%   2+    93.9%
1-4    5.5%   1+    99.5%
0-5     .5%

Elite Eight wins:
4      2.1%
3     15.5%   3+    17.7%
2     36.7%   2+    54.4%
1     34.5%   1+    88.9%
0     11.1%

Final Four wins:
2     16.1%
1     50.2%   1+    83.9%
0     33.8%

Champ 42.6%

We should see 3 or 4 wins tonight and tomorrow. Anything else would be a shocker, akin to the lill shocker that Wichita State administered to Tennessee in the 2006 tournament.

ACC vs. Big East

March 24, 2009 6:51 pm by donald

By now, it’s pretty clear that the Big East has won this argument; the Big East has 5 teams amongst the Sweet Sixteen, the ACC has two. But I thought you all might be interested in how an ACC fan saw it before the tournament. Yes, even us Big East bloggers are friends with people from the ACC.

My friend Matt and I ranked the teams in the ACC and Big East respectively and wrote what we thought would happen between the ones that made the NCAAs. Here’s how he saw the matchups:

  1. Louisville vs UNC – Before I start, I’m going to sound like Lou Holtz. Carolina will not win the national championship. Furthermore, I would not be surprised if they don’t make it to the final four. I’ve watched this team probably more than any other (due to my location) and they never really looked unstoppable at any time this season like they did at times last year.

    Okay, with that out of the way, this would be a classic match-up because the teams match up very well (evidenced by their game in elite eight last year). Both teams have tremendous athletes, both teams like to run, both have explosive guards, both have big guys who can bang around and both have coaches who have won it all. But in the end, my edge goes to Louisville for one simple reason: defense. Carolina doesn’t play any, they just try to outscore you. Louisville won’t play the physical defense like a UCONN or a Pitt, they defend you with speed and pressing. While Ty Lawson negates a lot of that on his own, he’s asked to do much for UNC to win. Louisville’s athleticism won’t shine on offense like it might in a Big East game, because UNC can match them. Instead Louisville shines on defense. In a revenge of last year’s elite eight, Louisville beats UNC in a close game that comes down to the last minute.

  2. Pitt vs Duke – Unlike past years where Duke was overrated in their NCAA seeding, this Duke team is a legit #2 seed. After Coach K benched Greg Paulus about ¾ through the season and started freshman Elliot Williams at the shooting guard, there was a marked improvement in this team. Williams gives Duke a longer, more athletic defender (which the Devils clearly needed since Paulus was getting burned constantly), and offensively it allowed Jon Scheyer to shift to the point guard and shoot over a typically smaller opponent (he was the ACC tournament MVP). While Duke is also the best defensive team in the ACC, they lose this game given their lack of inside presence. Kyle Singer has become a very good player, but his strength is his outside game, not his inside. DeJuan Blair would have a field day inside and would force Duke to collapse. Against teams with big inside presence, (UNC, FSU) Duke has struggled. The only way Duke wins this game is if they get hot from the 3 point line. They have shooters in Singler and Scheyer, but Duke has to have a better than average shooting night from 3 in order to win. But to be sure, Duke’s ability keeps them in this game and it’s a close one all the way to the end. But if they played this game 10 times, Pitt wins eight of them, all close.
  3. Uconn vs Wake – Very early in the season, I told some writers on this board that I thought Wake was the team to watch in the ACC and perhaps the Country. I looked like a genius in early January when they beat UNC and were ranked #1. But then I looked like Steve Carrell on “The Office” when they lost at home to Virginia Tech…then to NC State (who didn’t even make the NIT)…and then to Maryland in the ACC tournament (a team that doesn’t start anyone over 6’7”).

    I’m convinced that Wake is one of the most athletic teams in the Country. The problem is that they are all freshman and sophomores. The talent on this team is just sick with NBA Lottery picks in big man James Johnson and the only guard yet to make Ty Lawson look confused: Jeff Teague (sophomores). Al Farouq-Aminu and Ish Smith (freshmen) make up another dynamic duo that can wreck havoc on both ends of the floor with their respective size and speed. But, again, they’re all freshman and sophomores and they play like it. Wake looks unstoppable at times and completely lost at others, sometimes all in the same possession!

    UCONN wins this one easily because of their versatility, tenacious defense, but mostly better basketball IQ. Though I’m not a fan of his, Jim Calhoun definitely has the coaching edge over Dino Gaudio which helps and UCONN wins this game by a comfortable 10-15 points if not more.

  4. Villanova vs FSU – Tony Douglas is the best guard in this tournament that you’ve never heard of. He can do it all, including matching Scottie Reynolds, shot for shot. FSU wins this game because of their inside game through Soloman Alabi. He’s a freshman 7 footer with athleticism and big upside (Big East fans – picture a younger, faster, Hasheem Thabeet with one or two offensive moves). Past that, you couldn’t pick out any of FSU’s players, but Leonard Hamilton finally has a good mix of players who are playing like a team. They have adequate size at their power forward in Uche Echefu, and a good backup scorer in Derwin Kitchen.

    Yes, Nova has that 4 guard lineup, yes Scottie Reynolds can play with the best of them, but FSU has Tony Douglas and a balanced inside-outside game and they can play defense. FSU wins this one by 5-10 points.

  5. West Virginia vs. Boston College – Oddly enough, this is the hardest game for me to call. Which BC team shows up? Play absolutely unreal and beat UNC at Chapel Hill and Duke at Duke? – Done. Follow it up with a loss at home to Harvard, and a bad loss to NC State? – Done. I think of BC like a 4 year old. They don’t seem to care about anything at times, they have outbursts, they have temper tantrums, they do things that excite you and make you proud, then they do the worst thing at the worst time and make an unbelievable mess. Tyrese Rice is the engine that makes this team go and his play matches the description above.

    Now contrast that against WVU. They don’t have any “bad” losses on their schedule, but they don’t have any “good” wins. They mostly win the games they should, and lose the games they should. I guess with Bob Huggins, the players do whatever it takes to make sure they never have to face a practice after a “bad” loss. Da’Sean Butler is the main force for WVU.

    This one is a total crapshoot. I’m not convinced that West Virginia is that good, but then again, I can definitely say the same for BC. I’ll take BC purely on the fact that Rice can get hot and BC knows how to win big games. I can’t say the same for WVU.

  6. Marquette vs Clemson – obviously the X-factor is Marquette losing Dominic James. Though Clemson looks like they are slumping coming into the NCAAs, they do have some talent. Early on, I thought they could be a dark horse to make a real run in the tournament, but I don’t see that happening the way they are playing now. Marquette is much like Villanova playing small ball.

    But Clemson has the ability to play inside with Trevor Booker and Raymond Sykes and you can bet in this game, they will. While no one would mistake Booker and Sykes for Shaq and Garnett, they are serviceable inside guys who can get it done. Clemson also matches up favorably on the perimeter with Devonte Stitt and Terence Oglesby (a player I’ve come to hate because he always hits backbreaking shots). The only thing against Clemson is that they’re not a real deep team, and yes they’re slumping right now. Without Dominic James and a great game from its “forwards by committee” I don’t see Marquette winning this game.

  7. Syracuse vs Maryland – I’ll confess my bias right up front that I’m a Maryland alum. But I’ll also admit that, Gary Williams has pulled the ultimate smoke and mirrors trick this year and somehow snuck his team into the NCAAs. This team looked miserable early in the season and yet managed to finish 7-9 in the ACC. All this with no significant minutes coming from a player bigger than 6’7” and a lot of players who wouldn’t start for other ACC teams.

    I could go on for pages about how unbelievable it was that Maryland came on late, how Gary Williams should be coach of the year for the job he did with the talent he had, but frankly – there’s no way they win this game. Syracuse has talent (Johnny Flynn, Devendorf, Harris) and the 2-3 zone has given Maryland’s offense problems this year. While Maryland’s guards Greivas Vazquez and Eric Hayes have come on strong lately, their season stats reveal that they’re not great 3 point shooters. Given Syracuse’s length, they give Maryland fits. The only way Maryland wins is if this game goes to 8 overtimes and Syracuse players submit to dehydration.

1st weekend thoughts

March 23, 2009 10:47 am by Dan'l B
  • First, an update of the Log5 probabilities:
    Team         W3   W4   W5   W6
    Louisville  .80  .50  .23  .13
    Pittsburgh  .72  .42  .23  .11
    UConn       .64  .27  .16  .09
    Syracuse    .53  .19  .08  .03
    Villanova   .36  .14  .05  .02
    TOTALS     3.05 1.52  .74  .36
    Midwest     .80  .50  .23  .13
    East       1.08  .56  .28  .12
    West        .64  .27  .16  .09
    South       .53  .19  .08  .03
    Max              .01  .14  .36
  • The odds of an all-BEast Final Four were boosted from 0.57% to 1.4% thanks to Syracuse’s progress.
  • For all the #1 seeds, little has changed. They each won two games as expected, and the same tough opponents remain in their future.  Louisville saw a boost from WVU’s failure to show up, and UCLA exited the East thanks to a freakishly good Villanova performance, but Michigan St. and Kansas are still in the Midwest, and Duke remains out East. UConn and Memphis have yet to be challenged for 40 minutes. They still seem destined for each other this weekend.
  • Villanova and Syracuse: way to show up bigtime. Sure they did what they were supposed to do as #3 seeds, but both UCLA and Arizona St. came in as underrated on paper. Aside from Villanova’s 25 minute false start against American, both Nova and Cuse look like title contenders.
  • Marquette deserves a lot of credit for ending the season pretty well after losing a floor leader in James. DJ was a shadow of a shadow of himself yesterday, but it was “nice” to see him on the floor in his last game. Mizzou looked very good much of the game but Marquette was right there at the end. I’m still trying to figure out why English got to shoot those free throws that essentially closed the door.
  • WVU blew it. Yuck is all I can say. A very good team, bordering on elite, just couldn’t put it together consistently all season and played one of their worst games at the end. After they beat Pitt and took Syracuse to overtime two weeks ago, I thought they’d turned a corner. Oops.
  • I like Syracuse’s chances against OU, but if Griffin carries the Sooners past them, perhaps the consolation prize would be a Pitt-OU clash. I remain convinced that Blair would surprise everyone by being Griffin’s equal head to head. I live near Dallas, TX in the heart of Big 12 country. Folks here are not just calling Griffin the best in the tournament. He’s now the best player in Big 12 history. And as the Blair-Griffin matchup goes back and forth, the game will be decided by the most underrated player in the tournament…
  • Sam Young and the best pump fake Donald’s ever seen. While OSU played their best offensive half in perhaps school history, Young matched them the whole way. I can’t recall shooting as fortunate as OSU’s. Not only did they all go in, they didn’t turn it over.
  • Five left, as chalk predicted, but all have looked good to great to this point. Should be another good weekend upcoming.

Marquette Now A Factor?

March 22, 2009 10:34 am by Coach O

How are the chances of Marquette altered with the news that Dominic James will play today against Missouri? Will this lead to 6 Big East teams in the Sweet Sixteen?