ESPN Gameday: 2009 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 9th, 2008

Yeah, we’re way behind on this story and everything else, but we finally extracted ourselves from under a wet blanket of indentured misery-tude and we can once again focus on what’s really important… like whether Jay Bilas will finally turn around and punch The Redundancy known as Digger Phelps in the schnozz…  or whether Hubert Davis’ high-pitched guffaw will cause rabid bats nesting in the arena rafters to attack the GameDay crew…  or whether Rece Davis’ hair will ever move… 

Still, in the three years that ESPN has been doing College Gameday, the on-air chemistry has steadily improved to the point where it has become must-watch tv for knowledgeable hoops fans throughout its Jan/Feb/March run.  We still can’t figure out why ESPN locks itself into games before the season even begins (unlike its CFB counterpart, whose venue changes on a week-to-week basis), but the majority of the time they pick a nationally relevant game (14 of the 31 games have involved two ranked teams, but last year involved a notable exception: last year’s S. Illinois – Creighton 48-44 stinker on Jan. 26 is one of a handful of games involving two unranked teams in the four-year history of GameDay), and some of the humorous bits are LOL-worthy (see Tebow clip below). 

Irrespective of all that jazz, ESPN released its schedule of 2009 sites recently, and it’s apparent that ESPN is looking to party in college towns aplenty this year – missing are some of the lamer venues such as Syracuse and Durham in favor of more traditionally collegiate beer and babes locales. 

January 17- Chapel Hill, NC (Miami-North Carolina)
January 24- South Bend, IN (UConn-Notre Dame)
January 31- Knoxville, TN. (Florida-Tennessee)
February 7- Spokane, WA (Memphis-Gonzaga)
February 14- Madison, WI (Ohio State-Wisconsin)
February 21- Austin, TX (Oklahoma-Texas)
February 28- Berkeley, CA (UCLA-California)
March 7- Morgantown, WV (Louisville-West Virginia)

Some quick thoughts -

Best Game.  We love the UConn-Notre Dame matchup in South Bend.  UConn should be close to all the way “back” this season, and Mike Brey will have a top 10 team possibly riding a near-50 game homecourt winning streak in South Bend on that night.  Plus we get to see Digger in his ridiculous green tie and marker ensemble.  This night has fun written all over it.  Our runner-up game to watch would be Memphis-Gonzaga in Spokane, a rematch of a fairly entertaining game from last January

Likely Stinker.  Nobody wants to watch Ohio St. and Wisconsin play bruiserball in Madison on Valentine’s Day, that goes without saying (coincidence?  we think not).  But the Miami-UNC game on Jan. 17 also has us shaking our heads a little.  If you’re going to show us the prohibitive favorites on GameDay, at least give us the courtesy of matching the Heels up with someone who can challenge them…  Miami?  Hmph – this has 30 point blowout written all over it, and Miami is a Top 25 team!

Who Knows Game.  The Feb. 28 game between UCLA and Mike Montgomery’s newly acquired California team would have been a blockbuster had Ryan Anderson stuck around for his junior season in Berkeley.  But we’re still intrigued to see what Cal can do in a “big” game like this one, exactly the kind of game that Monty built his rep on down at the Farm in the 90s. 

Missing Powers.  No Duke this year, which we really can’t believe since the Devils will be a top 5 team.  There’s also no sign of Bill Self’s national champion Kansas Jayhawks – instead we get a Big 12 matchup in Austin between Oklahoma and Texas.  For the first year in GameDay history, Kentucky will also not be involved in a game this season.   

Cult of Personalities.  GameDay loves to show certain coaches nearly every year.  We mentioned Roy Williams’ UNC squad, who will be making its fifth appearance.  Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals will also be making their fifth appearance, as will Rick Barnes’ Texas Longhorns.  As a brief sidenote speaking of personalities, the Mar. 7 game between Pitino and Bob Huggins could be exceptional.  Louisville should be absolutely loaded next season, and we only have doubts about WVU from their loss of the acrobatic Joe Alexander, but Huggins will have his team sky high for this one anyway.

The Tim Tebow GameDay Clip:

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Bilas and Digger Not Bleeping Idiots After All

Posted by rtmsf on March 30th, 2008

Two Sundays ago we were first in line to dismiss, excoriate and otherwise belittle Digger Phelps and Jay Bilas when, during ESPN’s selection show, both of them went out on an extremely short limb by picking all #1 seeds to make the Final Four. See the evidence here (first two brackets unveiled).

We felt a little bit like we jumped the gun on Digger/Bilas when we noted that our own bracket ended up with three #1 seeds and a #2 seed, but we still felt that the likelihood of four #1 seeds making the 4 was almost nil, considering that it has never happened before.

We are now prepared to eat crow.

Crow

Moving on… is this the best Final Four ever, at least in terms of the quality of teams? Clearly we’ve never had four #1 seeds before, so that’s a great starting point, but how about the fact that the four teams have combined for a ridiculous record of 143-9 (.941) this season? Of those nine losses, only three of the Ls came to teams that were not in the NCAA Tournament this year (Washington, Oklahoma St., Maryland). We need to do some further research on this, but we have to believe this is the first time ever that the top four preseason teams in the AP and Coaches’ polls made the F4. All we can say is that whoever wins this year’s F4 will have definitely earned it.

Now on to the games today…

We have to give major love to John Calipari for somehow convincing his 37-1 team that they were an underdog at the South Regional. The way they were corralling loose balls and attempting to de-Shaqproof rims (mostly Joey Dorsey), it was clear that this team felt slighted. As Vegaswatch pointed out before the Sweet 16, Memphis became publicly undervalued in the last couple weeks of the season, which manifested itself in the Tigers getting unfavorable odds despite the fact that they spent much of the season at #1 in the country. We’re not sure how much life Calipari will get out of playing this card considering the two immolations of Michigan St. and Texas this weekend, but if Derrick Rose and others keep playing like this, it may not matter. Still, UCLA represents an old nemesis of John Calipari (UCLA won 50-45 in the E8 in 2006) and Memphis as a program (UCLA won the title 87-66 in 1973 over what was then called Memphis St.).

As for Kansas-Davidson, we were anxiously awaiting the Kansas collapse along with everyone else (you could have gotten 1:10 odds against Stephen Curry missing that transition 3 with 1:15 remaining), but it looked to us that Davidson finally reached a tipping point where NBA-level talent finally trumped a hardy group of very skilled players who have reached their full potential. Still, with that said, Davidson ended up willing itself into a last-second attempt to win the game. Far be it from us to question the strategy of a #10 seed that damn near made the F4, but we would have loved to have seen Davidson run a penetrate-and-kick/reversal play to get Curry the final shot rather than letting him try to create something himself (not his strength). What a tremendous run for this Davidson team, though – they represented the essence of the Tourney Cinderella better than anyone since the George Mason run a couple of years ago.

 

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Late Introduction & Weekend Thoughts

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2008

By way of a late introduction, we wanted to thank our buddy N-Bug for his detailed postings this past weekend on the various conference tourneys and bracket analysis.  We’ve been insanely busy with our real job(s), and haven’t been able to do much more than catch the occasional game and periodically watch Bob Knight get molested by Digger.  Somebody should call an Amber Alert on Digger and just get it over with – that dude is creepy.  As for Knight, we figure that one of these times where Digger is busily groping his arms and shoulders, he’s going to snap and dispose of Mr. Phelps in the nearest wastebasket.

Anyway, here are a few thoughts on the weekend games and brackets.

  • That tornado situation at the SEC Tourney in the ATL was crazy.  We were watching it live and the rumbling locomotive sound for anyone who grew up in flyover land (we did) was unmistakeable.
  • By the same token, penalizing Georgia/Kentucky by making it play two games in a single day, and further limiting the fan access to school administrators and families at the Alexander Coliseum was a total bush league maneuver by the SEC.  Does anyone think this would have been the same response (no fans) had the SEC football championship game been interrupted by a natural disaster?  No freakin way.
  • Props to Georgia and Dennis Felton though for sticking it right back up the SEC’s ass by winning three games in about 27 hours.
  • Seth Greenberg’s diatribe about whether the Hokies were one of the best 65 teams in America has been debated endlessly already.  Clearly, they’re one of the best 65, but that’s not the important measure.  They needed to be one of the best 34 at-large teams, and it’s arguable whether they were.  Then his follow-up response yesterday was pure idiocy, which N-Bug eloquently captured.  It’s about the “experience,” Seth?  If it’s really about the “experience,” then most of your players already got to have the “experience” last season; whereas South Alabama’s and St. Mary’s players will get that “experience” this time around.  What a joke.
  • Also can’t believe he brought up the garbage bowls at all, as if any but a handful of bowls are on par with the NCAA Tournement.
  • What is it about Pitt in the Big East Tourney?  They completely outmuscled and outhustled the Hoyas all over the court on Saturday night.
  • UNC, UCLA, Kansas, Wisconsin.  Pretty much all chalk in those tourneys.  Most likely second-round loser?  Wisky.
  • Who else thought Bob Knight was ready to rip into Vitale for the mere mention of him returning to Indiana?  We’re not sure whether Knight is on some gag order as a result of his settlement with the school, but his eyes told the tale.  He was livid, and he quite obviously sees Vitale and Digger as little more than failed coaches turned circus clowns.  He seems to respect Hubert Davis and Jay Bilas, though.  Maybe it’s a players/coaches thing.
  • Easiest bracket is the West, with UCLA only facing a serious threat from UConn, depending a) on whether the Huskies can avoid losing in the first two rounds; and b) which UConn shows up (which largely determines the first point).
  • Toughest bracket is the East, with UNC potentially facing an Indiana team with enough talent to knock them off in the second round (think: UNC 2000?), an explosive ND squad, and either Louisville or Tennessee potentially in the regional finals.  Any of those three teams are F4-worthy.

Final thing for now – thanks again to N-Bug for helping out and also setting up the Yahoo Bracket for RTC.  Be sure to sign up by Thurs. morning.

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09.17.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 17th, 2007

Can’t quite get that image below out of our head…  but we’ll try.

  • Pitt incumbent PG Levance Fields decided no he will not go quietly and in fact, he would rather be tasered, when asked to do so by the Pittsburgh PD last weekend.   
  • Ball St. found no evidence that Ronny Thompson put racially inflammatory notes under Ronny Thompson’s office door while he was still coaching there. 
  • The guy who will be responsible for throwing the ball to OJ Mayo and getting the hell outta the way is now eligible (Angelo Johnson). 
  • Coaching news.  GW’s Karl Hobbs was given an extension to 2012, and FAMU tabbed Eugene Harris (asst. at Georgia St.) to take over for Mike Gillespie. 
  • Haven’t we heard this before?  John Beilein and Bruce Weber (particularly Bruce Weber) can’t recruit. 
  • Digger for Prez.  Haven’t we had enough bumbling around/making no sense/talking in circles for one generation? 
  • UCLA fans are already talking basketball season.  Come on home, friends.  Others (ahem, Louisville, Notre Dame, Michigan, UNC, etc.) are already here.  More to come.
  • SEC Hoops:  Good, Bad & Dirty breaks down and gives predictions for the 12 SEC basketball schedules.  We’ll give odds on Mississippi St. not going 27-3! 
  • Frank Burlison at foxsports.com gives us a viewer’s guide to the best early-season tournaments to watch. 
  • MMAS gives us a list of key transfers to watch out for and teams looking to make the jump in 07-08. 
  • Finally, today Hoopwise has a Q&A with arguably the best college hoops analyst out there – Fran Fraschilla (apologies to Raff, Bilas, Tirico and others). 
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NBA Draft Picks by School Part II

Posted by rtmsf on June 27th, 2007

Thanks to everyone who took a few moments to look at our post from yesterday – NBA Draft Picks by School (1949-2006). There was an overwhelming response, and we appreciate all the commentary and advice, which is how we learn how to manage this thing a little better day-to-day.

First, let’s address a couple of the points we heard from you via email, msg boards and commentary.

  • The “modern draft” refers to the era in which the NBA began using a round-by-round system. Even though there was an NBA Draft in 1947 and 1948, the round system did not begin until 1949, which is why we decided to start there.
  • Following up on that point, we also chose to only review the first two rounds of the NBA Draft during this period. The current version (two rounds) began in 1989, and after a cursory review of the “extra” rounds – which totaled as many as twelve over this era, we realized very quickly that the vast majority of the players drafted in rounds 3+ never saw action in the NBA. For that reason, we decided to focus solely on the first two rounds.

Now, on with the data. We promised a breakdown by round and by decade, and we’ll deliver on half of that promise today. We also have sliced the first round into a “Top 10″ and “Top 5″ pick column, just for kicks. See Table B below.

Table B. NBA Draft Picks by School & Round Taken (1949-2006)

Notes: this table is sorted by the 1st Rd column, and is limited to schools with six first round picks since 1949. The yellow shading refers to the highest value in that column.

NBA Draft Picks by Round - 06 v.1

Observations:

Super Six. Remember what we were saying about the so-called Super Six yesterday? Well, these six schools – UNC, Duke, UCLA, Kentucky, Indiana and UCLA – take a larger piece of the action the higher up the draft board we go. They collectively comprise 13.4% (149 of 1115) of the all-time first-rounders, 14.8% of the top 10 picks (86 of 580), and 17.6% of the top 5 picks (51 of 290). In other words, more than a sixth of the top 5 picks in history came from one of the above six schools.

Jordan and Perkins

With Studs Like These, How do They Ever Lose?

Blue Heaven. The school with by far the most first-round picks, the most top 10 picks, and the most top 5 picks clearly resides in Chapel Hill. Let’s put this in perspective. UNC has had more top 5 picks than all but ten schools have had first round picks. It accounts for 6.2% of the top 5 picks in history all by itself, and dominates each of the above categories. That’s unbelievable. Nobody can ever say that Carolina hasn’t had a surplus of talent. Maybe that criticism of Dean Smith “only” winning two national titles at UNC has some legs after all.

Who doesn’t belong? Notre Dame, and again, Minnesota, seem to be the extreme outliers here. Was Digger Phelps really so bad of a coach that the Irish can produce twenty first-rounders (fifth on our list) and five top 5 picks but ND has only been to one F4 in its history? Guess so. We still can’t figure out Minnesota either. The Gophers are behind only UNC, Duke, UCLA and Kentucky in all-time top 10 picks. All we can guess is that Whitey Skoog, Ed Kalafat and Dick Garmaker must have been tremendous players back in the day. Also, a tip of the hat to Alabama and Missouri for producing a combined 27 first-rounders with nary a F4 to show for it. Nice work, gents.

Digger Phelps 2

Digger Must Have Been Even Worse as a Coach

We have a lot of good, but not great, players. The second round is always a fascinating hodgepodge of players who may have been fine collegians but were undersized, overslow or otherwise fraught with concerns about their transition to the League. Nothing says slow like Indiana, who coincidentally leads the way with 22 second round picks. Of course, Arizona follows up with 20 and UCLA with 19 second-rounders, so maybe that theory is a little half-baked. Nevertheless, it was cool to see the schools that consistently produce top talent vs. mediocre NBA talent (in the eyes of the GMs, at least). For UNC, it’s first round or bust, mostly (81% of its draftees went in the first round); for a school like LSU, either you’re drafted in the top 5 (8 of its 12 first-rounders) or you’re likely to end up in the second round (11 of the remaining 15 picks). One other neat example is Utah, where 9 of its 10 first-rounders went in the top 10 picks – maybe praying to Joe Smith (not the former Terp) or whatever it is that they do out there for a high NBA pick only works if you’re taller than 6’9 (e.g., Andrew Bogut, Keith Van Horn, Tom Chambers, Bill McGill).

Penn State Logo

Evidence that Penn St. Basketball Exists

Who is missing? Several schools with some solid history, including Marquette (5 first-rounders and 14 (!!) second-rounders), Pittsburgh (4/4), Xavier (4/6), Gonzaga (3/3) and UTEP (3/8), didn’t make our cut. Just for fun, the BCS schools with the least successful draft histories belong to… South Florida (only one second-rounder) and Penn State (two second-rounders). USF we understand – they’re new to the Big East and all – but Penn State? – that school has been in the Big 10 for almost fifteen years. That’s pathetic.

Coming Next: the final installment will take a look at draft picks by decade, so we can see how things have trended over the years. Which schools have consistently supplied talent to the NBA and which have long since passed or are rising fast? View Part III here.

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