The Top 10 is still fairly static after five weeks of polling, but we’re seeing all kinds of movement in and out at the bottom of the poll on a week-to-week basis. Analysis after the jump…
We’re back with the second annual review of how the major conferences are doing after one weekend of the NCAA Tournament. As we all are aware, the Dance eliminates the pretenders – that means you, Wake and Washington – so that the teams with legitimate chops remain standing. Chalk has predominantly ruled this tournament so far, but that doesn’t keep us from evaluating which conferences are performing better or worse than expectations. We review the conferences with multiple bids below…
Big East (7 bids, 5 remaining, 11-2 record)
The Big East was the most powerful conference all year and they are proving it in the postseason. West Virginia was the only first round loser, and Marquette was outlasted by a tough-as-nails Missouri team in the second round. All other Big East teams advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, setting a new record for the total number from one conference (5). What’s more is that each of these teams are F4-caliber; there isn’t a single Cinderella in the group. It wouldn’t surprise us if this league managed to get 75% of the F4 entrants this year, and we fully expect all five to play into the national quarterfinals.
Verdict: A. The Big East’s expected # of wins for the tournament is 16.2, and there’s a solid chance that the league will bust through twenty wins this season in setting another new record.
Big 12 (6 bids, 3 remaining, 9-3 record)
For the second consecutive year, the Big 12 had another great first round (6-0), culminating in their three best teams making it to the Sweet Sixteen. The league hasn’t had an upset yet, and the three losing teams – Texas, Oklahoma St., and Texas A&M, acquitted themselves nicely in five of their six games (lone exception: TAMU vs. UConn). Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma all have tough but winnable games if they play well, and the Big 12 should reasonably expect to see one of them playing into next weekend. For a “down” year in the league, this is a great performance.
Verdict: A. The Big 12 already has nine wins against an expected performance of 10.57 wins, which basically means they’re doing really well so far.
Atlantic 10 (3 bids, 1 remaining, 3-2 record)
The A10 got three teams into the Dance and made the most of its opportunity, winning two first round games (one an upset with #11 Dayton over #6 WVU), and sending Xavier to yet another Sweet Sixteen. We don’t feel that XU has much of a chance to advance the league’s banner further against Pitt, but never count out a Sean Miller team. Xaviercruised to the Sweets against two good teams.
Verdict: A-. The league was expected to win 2.52 games and they’ve already won three, so anything beyond that is gravy. How pathetic is it that the A10 is outperforming the SEC by a country mile?
Horizon (2 bids, 0 remaining, 1-2 record)
The Horizon had a chance to make some serious noise in this Tournament, but typically-solid Butler couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain when it lost to #8 LSU (who was probably underseeded). However, Cleveland St. so far has had the upset of the Dance with its throttling of #4 Wake Forest, so we’re going to give them the benefit of the doubt here.
As we mentioned in our BGTD Early Edition today, we’re still tinkering around with a workable format for this feature. So with the West Coast Office taking over as you easterners hunker down for the night, we’re going to try it a little differently this evening. Let us know in the comments if you have any feedback, constructive, destructive or otherwise.
Sidenote: is there a better value than the Fox College Sports package on your cable or dish system? Seriously, for $5/month, you get access to dozens more college games, and at least on ours, the Big 10 Network and the CBS College Sports Network. Great deal, and this comes from we who typically despise our cable company.
Comments Heading into the Darkness.
9pm and Later Games.
What We Learned Today. Not a lot, actually, other than to not assume Arkansas will roll through its home schedule. Today’s slate of games was rather uninspiring, and it doesn’t get terribly better tomorrow until 8pm, when Wake-Carolina tips off. We love the way the Deacs have been playing lately, and they are at home, so that one could be very interesting. ESPN should have started Gameday this weekend and made that game the focal point instead of the worthless Miami (FL) at UNC game next weekend.
Allen R of Houston Basketball Junkies is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.
It was quite an eventful week for Conference USA basketball, but not necessarily for the right reasons.
The issues off the court practically overshadowed the actual games this week as the season has picked up after final exams.
Allen R of Houston Basketball Junkies is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.
There is no polite way to spin it: this was a bad week for Conference USA basketball.
From the outset of the season I have said that this league as a whole needs to win some significant non-conference games.
Not only did the conference not win any games of significance, there were several embarrassing losses this week.
1.) A New Tiger Comes Aboard: It was a generally ‘ho-hum’ week in Memphis as the Tigers beat Marist 100-61 and then entered into an 11 day layoff for final exams. But this past Thursday the NCAA cleared Tiger freshman F Matt Simpkins to practice and play with the team. Previously Simpkins had academic issues that kept him off the court. Coming out of the Patterson School in North Carolina, Simpkins was a 4-star prospect and expected to make immediate contributions.
We delayed the start of the Blogpoll this year so we could get a better sense as to the first few weeks of the season, so here it is. The blogpoll is represented through Monday night’s games (although records are current).
Allen R is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.
The first week or so of Conference USA basketball is in the books and really you can’t tell too much from these contests.
My biggest complaint is that teams like Central Florida, Marshall, East Carolina and Southern Miss scheduled Division II and NAIA teams to start out the season. I realize that many schools struggle to find quality non-conference opponents, but there are over 300 Division I teams out there that could be potentially scheduled. In a conference desperate for an RPI boost, this does very little good.
Okay, the rant is now finished. Here are the very early storylines in the conference so far.
Prediction: by the end of the first week of December, UNC will no longer be #1 in the major media polls.
No way, there’s too much pressure and they have too many good teams to handle before we even get our advent calendars. Oh, and did you hear, a small piece of their offense will be out for a while with a stress reaction? Even if this substantial piece never misses a game, which is extremely unlikely, he’s going to miss practice and be out of ‘game shape’ for a while. And no, we’re not talking about Marcus Ginyard, but his loss hurts too.
Here’s Carolina’s early schedule – you tell us how they’re going to come out of this unscathed…
There are at least three opportunities for the major upset here, and if Hansbrough and/or Ginyard are out for any of those games, go ahead and mark it down. UNC will not enter the second week of December #1 and unbeaten.
Now, on to the polls, where UNC was a unanimous #1 in the AP Poll for the first time EVER (nope, not even 1991 UNLV, 1992 Duke or 2007 Florida), and also unanimous in the Coach’s Poll. No pressure or anything… FYI – UNC has been preseason #1 six times in its history (incl. this year) – the results of those seasons are: 1982 (Natl. Champs), 1984 (S16), 1987 (E8), 1994 (R32), 2008 (F4) – all that’s missing is a first-round loss or a title game loss.
Here are the polls.
We plan on doing some broader-based analytics of preseason polls in a general sense next week, but for now, here are a few things that we noticed right away.
What a week. So we’re a little late on this week’s blogpoll, among several other things, but we’re slowly getting caught up and feel that this week’s poll is the first one that accurately captures how teams are playing several weeks into the season. We’ve had a chance to watch most of the teams in the poll ourselves, and our illustrious blogging brethren have ostensibly done likewise. So here’s Week 3 (blogger ballots located here)…
Note: blogpoll does not include 11/27-28 games.
Justifying Our Ballot. We still rank UCLA #1 and UNC #2 ahead of overall #1 Memphis simply based on the fact that we believe UCLA and UNC have beaten better teams than Memphis thus far. Memphis looked solid in CvC wins versus Oklahoma and UConn, but those teams are probably mid-conference finishers this year. UCLA has a marquee win (w/o Darren Collison) against #13 Michigan St., a team that is better than we thought; and UNC has solid wins over likely NCAA teams Davidson, Old Dominion and #20 BYU (w/o Ty Lawson). Memphis will have an opportunity this weekend to improve its standing in our eyes with a win vs. #25 USC. Like everyone else, we raised #9 Texas A&M and #6 Duke on the strength of their wins in the PNIT and Maui, respectively, and #8 Texas got a nod into the top ten by virtue of its destruction of #12 Tennessee. In the lower reaches of the top 25, we still refuse to vote for #18 Clemson despite their win at Mississippi St. We’ve been down this road before with them, and if the Tigers are 14-0 going into the game vs. UNC on January 6, then we’ll consider it. We also left BYU, Miami (FL), and USC off of our ballot, figuring that Stanford, Ohio St., Wisconsin and Baylor had put together better resumes to this point. After the ACC/Big 10 meetings the last two nights, we’re really questioning our sanity on those two midwestern teams above.
Uncertainty. We’re still seeing blogger indecisiveness when it comes to Indiana and Michigan St., but some new additions at the low range of the top 25 populate our list this week. Here are the top five most uncertain teams (remember, a high std dev means greater variation in blogger rankings of that team):
The top seven teams in the blogpoll are also the top seven lowest standard deviation this week.
Wow, the SEC is really struggling right now, with only one team ranked (Tennessee) and that squad getting its doors blown off by Texas last week. The ACC only has four ranked teams, but leads all conferences with 6 of the 31 remaining unbeaten teams in D1. Impressive that half of that league is still flawless. Other BCS unbeatens: (Big East & Big 12 – 4 each; Pac-10 – 3; SEC – 1; Big 10 – 0).