Big 12 Morning Five: 02.14.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on February 14th, 2012

  1. You are probably sick of these “will-they-won’t-they” articles about the Border War, but here’s another look at the state of the Missouri-Kansas rivalry. In particular, check out the comments from former Missouri coach Norm Stewart at the bottom of the article. “I really understand why Kansas would not want to play Missouri if we’re not in the conference. I really would understand that,” Stewart told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week. “I hope Missouri people do, too, because if you don’t, then you’re never going to play.” No matter what Stewart or anyone else says, though, we know this: Missouri and Kansas won’t play each other any time soon. So let’s savor the February 25 match-up coming up in less than two weeks.
  2. Speaking of conference realignment, not everybody agrees that Missouri and Texas A&M‘s moves to the SEC will benefit the respective schools. The article says Missouri will “miss” Big 12 basketball, solely because the league’s tournament is held in Kansas City. In the end, both programs will be just fine in every sport. There’s a reason the SEC accepted them– they can both play at that level. To think otherwise sounds a bit like sour grapes.
  3. Sticking with our theme of repeating ourselves each morning, here’s yet another look at the state of Texas‘ NCAA Tournament hopes. The Longhorns are now a 12-seed in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology, thanks in large part to that win over Kansas State this weekend and a solid RPI. Rick Barnes‘ team hasn’t suffered any bad losses, and that’s why it’s right in the hunt for that elusive at-large bid.
  4. Oklahoma isn’t anywhere near an at-large bid, mostly because it cannot close games or figure out a way to upend top competition in the final minutes. Any post-season chances may be dwindling right now, but this article outlines the ways Lon Kruger’s guys can end the season with modest improvement. With the majority of the roster presumably returning in 2012-13, don’t underestimate the importance of these final six games for Oklahoma. It could be a real momentum-builder for a somewhat young team heading into next season.
  5. Texas Tech hasn’t gotten much good news this season, but got a big boost yesterday as Wannah Bail and Michael Carey, teammates from a school in Houston, Tx., committed to Billy Gillispie. Bail is a big-time get for Gillispie, as he’s rated in the top-100 by Rivals and was nominated for McDonald’s All-Americans honors. Carey isn’t shabby either, and both were courted by major schools like Oregon. According to the article, Marquette and Florida State were also in the running for Bail.
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The Border War, Part One: A History

Posted by cwilliams on February 1st, 2012

Each collegiate rivalry is encompassed by a rich history. Many date back over 100 years, and each rivalry has its unique moments, stories and anecdotes. However, no rivalry coincides with American history as much as the Missouri-Kansas rivalry, known simply around those parts as the Border War. The cities of Lawrence, Kansas, and Columbia, Missouri, have despised each other for as long as anyone can remember, but not in a way similar to the dislike between Columbus, Ohio, and Ann Arbor, Michigan. Kansans and Missourians loathed each other due to state political and social views, not because of football scores. The Border War is so rich with history that I thought it would be best to briefly touch on many of these spectacular moments, instead of focusing on just one.

Hide Ya Kids, Hide Ya Wife, the Border War is Coming this Weekend. (Mizzou Magazine)

  • The initiation of the rivalry began around the 1850s, when Kansas and Missouri began burning down each other’s border cities during the Civil War. That’s right. Kansas residents would cross the border and burn down a Missouri city before heading home for supper, and vice versa. The tension reached it’s pinnacle when William Quantrill and his guerrilla forces rode into Lawrence and burned down parts of that city, ultimately murdering 200 people. Ironically, Quantrill was part of a group who attempted to burn down Columbia as well, because it was a Union stronghold during the Civil War. After the war, the athletic matches between Kansas and Missouri served as relief funds for the state’s recovery from the Civil War.
  • Former Missouri hoops coach Norm Stewart refused to let his team’s busses stop in Kansas for fuel or allow his players to eat in Kansas. He didn’t want to put a single Missouri penny into the Kansas economy. On the Red and Blue side, former Jayhawk football coach Don Fambrough once refused to see a doctor in Kansas City, Missouri, stating “I’ll die first!”
  • The first time Kansas and Missouri met on the football field was Halloween 1891. They hit the hardwood for the first time together in 1906, a 34-31 Missouri triumph.
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Big 12 Morning Five: 10.27.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on October 27th, 2011

  1. Hold the phone — West Virginia may not join the Big 12 after all. According to reports from The New York Times just yesterday, the Mountaineers were all but guaranteed a spot in the Big 12. Sources had said the league wanted WVU regardless of whether Missouri bolted for the SEC, and it seemed like a done deal. So what happened?
  2. Louisville happened. It appears that the delay in WVU’s acceptance is all due to a sparked interest in acquiring the Cardinals. One Big 12 school administrator said it’s a direct battle between West Virginia and Louisville, and it may take days to sort out the situation. It doesn’t look like West Virginia is out of the running at all, but it’s interesting to hear that this same official said the league’s schools are also divided on the issue. Texas is rumored to have more interest in WVU, while Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Iowa State and Baylor all want Louisville. From a basketball standpoint, although West Virginia is obviously no slouch, it doesn’t have the sort of history and hoops fan base that UL does. So if your primary interest is hoops, you’ve got to be rooting for the Cardinals to edge West Virginia here.
  3. For all you political junkies, one aspect of the delay with West Virginia may have to do with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a Louisville alumnus who’d have an obvious agenda to block a WVU invitation to the Big 12. This is major speculation, of course, and it’s always dangerous to get into the political game. Still, if McConnell really were trying to vouch for his alma mater, that may make for a heck of an E:60 series.
  4. The current debate may be between Louisville and West Virginia, but CBS Sports columnist Gary Parrish has a nice breakdown of the Missouri vs. West Virginia comparison. MU’s dominance of the Big Eight in the ’80s and ’90s under coach Norm Stewart may give the impression that it has more history than the Mountaineers, but remember, the Tigers never actually made a Final Four. In fact, Stewart only made two Elite Eights during that time period. And as far as the past decade goes, Parrish shows that WVU beats MU in almost every category. Replacing Missouri with the Mountaineers might not boost the Big 12′s profile in basketball considerably, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt anything.
  5. Sticking with off-the-court news — since that’s pretty much all we have right now — Oklahoma has responded to a proposal for a Big 12 television network. It looks like the Sooners aren’t too happy with the news; or, at the very least, they’re just very confused as to how it would work. The Sooners already want to form their own TV network, and it’s a well-known fact that Texas already has the Longhorn Network in place. OU officials say they’re still planning to create their own network despite the Big 12′s proposal. The Big 12 Network sort of exists already, but it’s only an extension of ESPN on local affiliates. Sure, there’s a nice studio show each Saturday, but every game on the Big 12 Network looks like it was filmed in the 1970s. Any Doug Bell fans in the house? Didn’t think so.
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Mike Bellman: Mizzou’s Bartman?

Posted by rtmsf on September 29th, 2009

It’s a good thing for the University of Missouri that Kelvin Sampson and Rob Senderoff haven’t been in their employ in recent years.  Otherwise, the Big 12 school would undoubtedly be facing the death penalty with the goldmine of information about coach’s calls, text messages and general cell phone usage that Mizzou is practically giving away to people off the street (actual price: $7.60 per phone).  Mike Bellman, a Columbia-area information specialist for the public school system, bought twenty-five of the old phones from the UM athletic department, and was surprised to find that the private information stored on them hadn’t been erased.  From the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune:

text msg

Mike Bellman thought he was buying a box of old cellular phones he planned to resell as parts. Instead, he wound up with a collection of electronic information from the University of Missouri’s Athletics Department.  Now, Bellman is auctioning former Athletics Department staff phones as collector’s items. He’s asking $3,000 for all 25 phones.  One cell phone, a Sprint Treo, belonged to MU basketball Coach Mike Anderson, according to Bellman’s online inventory. Photos of the phone’s screen show text messages between Anderson and MU football Coach Gary Pinkel and Athletics Director Mike Alden. The messages appear to be well wishes for upcoming games and congratulations after victories.  Other phones from assistant coaches and Athletics Department staff have hundreds of contact phone numbers, e-mail messages and text messages.

Somewhere in a dungeon on that campus, the intern responsible for this is getting flogged by the Ghost of Norm Stewart. 

Bellman is insane if he thinks these phones will nab three-large, but he’s definitely onto something with respect to marketing the information to rival schools (especially those Jayhawks down the road a piece).  All we know is that Missouri AD Mike Alden better be having a candid conversation with head coaches Mike Anderson and Gary Pinkel before they allow these phones into the wrong hands.  “Hypothetically speaking, Coach, is there anything you’d not want people to know about what’s on those phones?  Just in case, you know?”  Of course, if there is some kind of illegal text messaging or evidence of foul play on those phones (and for the record, we have NO reason to believe that there is), would Bellman become the Steve Bartman of Missouri?  That’s an interesting question.  Let’s wait until tomorrow (the deadline Bellman has imposed for sale at $3000) to see what happens here. 

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08.11.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 11th, 2009

With the rate of news coming out these days, this’ll feel a little more like slow breaks…

  • Academic Headstart.  This got almost no play over the weekend, but it should have because it has the smell of something that ends up being more important than anyone previously thought.  The NCAA Basketball Academic Enhancement Group (chaired by Derrick Rose?) recommended a requirement that each school should make an academic assessment of its incoming freshmen each season to determine whether the student-athlete is adequately prepared for college-level schoolwork.  If they are not (presumably using some objective measure other than the Jim Harrick, Jr., test), then they’ll be required to take six hours of classes over the summer (‘bridge’ summer coursework data shows a higher incidence of long-term academic success).  The big carrot is that, while they’re in summer school (and all players can attend if they like), they can work out for up to eight hours/week in athletic activities.  The catch, however, is that they must pass at least three of those hours to gain eligibility for the fall semester.  Should this recommendation come to pass (and it probably will), each school will have to balance a  fine line between the player assessment and player eligibility.  God forbid that the next Michael Beasley gets his high school grades and test scores in order, shows up at his school amidst great fanfare, only to fail college algebra over the summer and have to sit until December because the coach wanted those eight hours per week of court time.  It’s an interesting dilemma and it imposes a certain level of accountability on the schools themselves to take the academic side of things more seriously, which is a good thing.  Props to the NCAA for getting creative here. 
  • Vegas Watch ACC Preview.  We’ll be sure to come back to this when we put up our conference previews later this fall, but we wanted to make sure that you guys alll have a chance to read the first installment in a really innovative series of posts breaking down each of the BCS conferences.  VW ran several regressions on the last three seasons to determine a fairly accurate predictor for future success using Pomeroy ratings, returning minutes and production and incoming recruiting rankings.  Looking at the projected 2010 rankings, it appears that those riding the Terrapin bandwagon have reason to believe, as Maryland is projected third, while those of us who were high on Georgia Tech (even prior to losing K. Holsey) may want to re-think that a little bit before October.  Keep an eye on this series because it’s fascinating stuff. 
  • Deron Washington Hurdles into Eternity.  If, for some reason, you haven’t seen what Virginia Tech has done with its new practice facility yet…  It’s really too bad that Syracuse football doesn’t play Virginia Tech this year, or Paulus would have a fair opportunity to exact some revenge (he’s the third-string QB for the Orange as of this week). 

deron washington over paulus

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Top NCAA Performers of the 65 (née 64) Team Era

Posted by rtmsf on June 12th, 2007

GMU Cartoon

Since there’s absolutely nothing going on this week, this is a good a time as any to start rolling out some of the data that we’ve been hoarding. First, a respectful tip of the hat goes to Florida Gator fan Louis Frank, who allowed us unbridled access to the detailed work in his NCAA Tournament database. Over the next week or so, we’re going to be presenting some descriptive statistics on the 64/65 team era of the NCAA Tournament sliced and diced in various ways.

Our first focus will be on individual team performance, viewed through the raw numbers and then with some analytical twists; then we’ll turn our attention to conference performance using the same parameters. The basic question we seek to answer is which teams and conferences tend to over- and underachieve in the NCAA Tournament since it expanded to 64 teams in the 1985 season? The reason we start with that somewhat arbitrary season is because from that point until now every championship team has had to win six games against seeded teams, with no exceptions. It also provides a tidy way of reviewing the data with a substantial sample of seasons – twenty-three – which also happens to coincide perfectly with the rise in popularity of NCAA basketball and the ESPN era.

NCAA Tournament Success (1985-2007)

Notes: the chart is sorted by winning percentage (minimum: 8 appearances) from 1985-2007. The green shaded rows represent schools that have won a national title during this period.

NCAA Tournament 1985-2007 v.3

Inside the Numbers:

Elite Eight. Of the 267 schools that have been invited to the NCAA Tournament during the last 23 years, the 64 listed above are the chronic repeat performers, each having made the Dance on at least eight occasions. Thirty-nine of those sixty-four have winning (> .500) records, but only a handful, eight, are elite (> .700 winning pct.). Suffice it to say that those eight elite programs account for 14 of the 23 (61%) national championships and 39 of the 92 (42%) Final Four teams during this era (programs with a national title are denoted above in green shading). These eight programs are: Duke, Connecticut, UNC, Kentucky, UNLV, Kansas, Florida and Michigan. Incidentally, Georgetown is the only school of the top 13 who did not have a title from 85-07, but dumb luck led to its 1984 title team being omitted from this list – apologies to the Hoyas.

Coach K b/w

You Have to Give the Devil His Due

The Krzyzewski Era. This era also neatly coincides with the rise of Duke as a basketball powerhouse – Coach K’s first Final Four was in 1986, and his string of success particularly from 1988-92 exceeds by itself almost every other school’s performance on this list. Duke has the most #1 seeds, the most Sweet 16 appearances, the most Final Four appearances, the most wins, the best winning percentage and the most national titles during this period. In several of those categories it leads by comfortable margins. We’ve made note that the current era of Duke basketball might be slipping a tad, but with numbers like the above to sustain, that may be an impossible task even for Krzyzewski. By these numbers, you’d have to go with North Carolina in second place and Kentucky a close third. Each has very similar statistics (appearances, #1 seeds, sweet 16s, titles, wins, winning pct.) in all but one category, Final Fours. Given the importance that the college basketball community places on reaching the final weekend, Carolina’s seven F4s to Kentucky’s four must trump, all else being relatively equal.

Traditional Powers. With Duke, UNC and Kentucky taking the top three spots by the raw numbers, how do the other three traditional powers of UCLA, Kansas and Indiana fare? Kansas is closest to the top group. The Jayhawks mirror UNC in many categories (including F4s), but its winning percentage is a little lower and it lacks that second national title that would vault it into the top three. UCLA experienced a couple of down periods during this era, but now appears to be on the rise again with two F4s in the past two seasons. Still, its top ten winning percentage (.667) and its national title in 1995 keep it in the second tier of performers over this era. Indiana has largely struggled since Bob Knight was forced out of Bloomington, but their consistency in making the tournament and winning a game or two (.604 winning pct.) – plus that national title in 1987 – probably keeps it in the second tier as well. There should be no question, though – if any of the traditional six powers were slipping in favor of one or more of the nouveaux riche, Indiana would be the choice here.

Bob Knight IU

IU is Showing post-Knight Slippage

Nouveaux Riche. Of the elites, Connecticut and Florida are clearly the party-crashers. Prior to 1985, UConn had four wins and Florida zero wins in the NCAA Tournament. Each now has two national titles and a winning percentage of greater than .700. The question is whether these programs will be sustainable whenever Calhoun and Donovan decide to move on (Calhoun, to retirement; Donovan, as Christine’s full-time house-b*tch). The 64/65 team era is already littered with similar riches-to-rags stories such as UNLV, which fell hard when Tarkanian was indicted retired; and, Michigan, who also dropped out of the college basketball landscape once the gravy train of athlete peddler Ed Martin ended. Arkansas is yet another example – all three programs have a national title and multiple F4s to its credit, but long periods of poor teams and inconsistency places them in the second tier of the era.

Others in Second Tier. Several programs were consistenty excellent over this era, but their numbers weren’t as eye-popping as some of the above schools. Syracuse, Michigan State, Maryland and Louisville all claim a title to go with multiple F4s. Who knew other than Orange fans that Jim Boeheim’s squad never claimed a #1 seed during this era – that seems hard to believe. True, though – Syracuse’s best seeds were five #2s – during the glory days of Pearl Washington, DC, Billy Owens and company – 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, and 1991. It looked like Michigan State was ready to become a top tier program 6-8 years ago, and they still are an excellent one, but its winning percentage needs to improve a little more to reach that level.

Lute Olson

The Silver Fox has had his Ups and Downs

Whither Arizona? Arizona is the only school that was invited to the NCAA Tournament each year of this era. Yet Arizona’s success in the postseason leaves something to be desired for a program of its stature – multiple F4s and a title, but near the bottom of the championship-level schools in winning percentage. The Wildcats are a team to keep a watchful eye on when we present our over- and under-acheivers list later this week.

Rising Stars. Several programs to observe closely as we go deeper into this era are rising stars Georgetown, Ohio St., Memphis, Texas and Gonzaga. None yet has a title during this era, but each except Gonzaga has been to a F4, and all five are knocking on the door. These programs have the facilities and coaching in place to continue to rise up this list in the coming years.

Disappointments. Again, basing these observations on nothing more than raw numbers, you’d have to say that Oklahoma, Illinois, Purdue and Stanford have been the biggest disappointments. Collectively, these schools have had fourteen #1 seeds with only five F4s to show for it (obviously, zero titles as well). Although most of these programs have been consistently invited to the NCAA Tournament during this era, none has a winning percentage topping .600.

Quin Snyder Norm Stewart

What did these two do to Missouri?

Embarrassments. We’ll leave the mid-majors like Xavier alone here, but we wanted to save special mention for some of the BCS schools who have managed to get invited multiple times, but really didn’t do much when they got there. Georgia‘s one sweet sixteen in eight appearances and its .333 winning percentage doesn’t say much for a program that always seems to be rebuilding; Bob Knight’s Texas Tech doesn’t fare much better (two sweet sixteens). But the real winner of the most pathetic NCAA-caliber program award, in our estimation, has to belong to Missouri. The Tigers have been to the tournament fourteen different times during this era, even once as a #1 seed, and have only managed three sweet sixteen appearances, two elite eights and an overall losing record (.462). Serious congrats are in order for Norm Stewart and Quin Snyder. Mike Anderson has his work cut out for him. The saddest part is that Mizzou traditionally likens itself as a basketball school!

Ivy Sadness. The last word goes to Ivy stalwarts Penn and Princeton, two schools who show up every year (21 of the last 23 NCAA Tournaments) at the right time and venue, battle hard for about thirty minutes against a superior athletic opponent, then go back home and lick their wounds for another year after inevitably wearing down to the size and strength of its opponent. They may be a collective 3-21 (.125) in the Dance, but who will forget when they pull the big upsets, like Princeton 43, UCLA 41 (1996), or Penn 90, Nebraska 80 (1994). Ok, maybe beating Nebraska isn’t a big upset after all, but we still love the UCLA upset.

Coming Next: now that we’ve analyzed the raw numbers of the 64/65 team era of the NCAA Tournament, we’ll next be taking a look at the over- and under-achievers during the same period. After seeing the above, can you project who the best and worst will be? You might be surprised at some of the results.  View Overachievers and Underachievers here.

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