Blogpoll – Week 12

Posted by rtmsf on January 31st, 2008

As usual, running late…

week-12-blogpoll.jpg

Justifying Our Ballot. We actually had to do this for the first time all season. We ranked Florida above Mississippi St. (#25 in our ballot), and one blogger took offense with this notion. His quote was, “Ranking Florida above MSU absolutely makes no sense, however. None.” So here is our carefully-worded justification:

I just think that Florida is a better team right now than MSU. In other words, on a neutral court, I think Florida wins. I think, by and large, they have better players, better coaching, and a more impressive team. Based on the both the #s [UF is ten spots higher in Sagarin] and what I’ve seen on the court this year, I believe this to be a reasonable stance. The only way it’s an unreasonable stance (your assertion) is if you can demonstrate compelling evidence that there is absolutely no way that Florida can beat MSU on a neutral court. I don’t think you can do that based on anything we’ve seen so far this year.

What think, fair readers? Did we miss something?

Those Left Out. What we couldn’t understand was the continued inclusion of Vanderbilt, who, at ballot time, had lost three of four and were trending downward (they have since lost again last night to Ole Miss 74-58). We also had St. Mary’s at #18 (prior to their Monday night loss), Baylor at #22, and Oklahoma at #24. Obviously, as of this writing, we’d like to have K-State in the poll in favor of Baylor. All votes tallied here.

Variance. Wisconsin and Kansas St. are causing the most blogvoter consternation. We’re not sure how anyone can justify leaving the 16-3 Badgers completely out of the poll, but one blogger did.

Conference Call. The conferences who have messed up middles, as we discussed the other day, are taking hits in the poll.

  • Pac-10 – 5
  • Big East, SEC – 4 each
  • Big 10, Big 12 – 3 each
  • ACC – 2
  • A10, CUSA, Horizon, MVC – 1 each
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ATB: K-State Celebration

Posted by rtmsf on January 31st, 2008

ATB v.4 

Kansas Goes Down.  For the first time in 25 years, KU went into Manhattan, KS, and came away with a loss.  Freshman stars Bill Walker and Michael Beasley, prescient cocky in their predictions of a win, blew up for 47/11 combined, putting to rest the notion that KU has superior talent vis-a-vis everyone else in the country.  So how’d they get it done?  We caught the second half, and then spent the next two hours trying to splice some video together off our Tivo before giving up and settling (see below), and here were a few observations. 

25th Time

  • By the numbers, both teams played evenly – FG%, rebounding, turnovers, fouls, and the efficiency stats were roughly the same.  With one exception – threes.  This game-changing stat was heavily in KSU’s favor (12-26 v. 6-17 for KU). 
  • This coincides with what we actually saw in that second half.  Every time it seemed that KU was just this close to making a run to get back into the game, Beasley (4-4) or Walker (3-10) would drop one from long range.  We counted four times where KU was within one possession and one of those two would knocked down a three to create some cushion.  Clutch.
  • By the way, how sick is Beasley (preaching to the choir…)?  A quick snapshot of his numbers this year – 25/12 in only 30mpg, shooting 56% from the field (and 44% from 3).  There will be Oden/Durant debate this year.  Michael Beasley is the #1 pick. 

Mike Beasley

  • Kansas, to their credit, never panicked; they just simply couldn’t get enough stops in the second half to put together a run.  From the ten-minute mark, KU never got closer than two possessions.  We’re not willing to draw any negative conclusions from this game about the Jayhawks – they didn’t play that poorly; it’s just that KSU, fueled by a frenzied home crowd, simply played better.  If anything, it also gets the unbeaten monkey off of their neck, and they can regroup and get about the business of winning the Big 12. 
  • This is a huge win for KSU, however.  Frank Martin’s team has come a long way from the listless squad we watched lose to Oregon and Notre Dame earlier this season.  It’s doubtful anyone is getting a win out of Manhattan the rest of this season, so something like 13-3 in the conference is not out of the question for the Wildcats.  That kind of a record and finish would propel KSU into a top four protected seed in the NCAAs, and their computer profile is already solid (#6 in Pomeroy; #18 in Sagarin). 

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.474316&w=425&h=350&fv=]  

Photo Credits:  Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle

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EA Sports

Posted by rtmsf on January 30th, 2008

From last night’s Penn St. – Ohio St. game…  (h/t to The Ozone)

Lawdy!!

 

(photo credit: Jim Davidson)

(photo credit: Jim Davidson)

Full complement of Erin Andrews photos taken at last night’s game here.  Yeesh.

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MVPs: Most Valuable Programs

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2008

So we must have missed this around the beginning of the month, but today we came across a neat little analysis performed by the people over at Forbes that reveals the twenty most valuable college basketball programs in the nation. Their analysis takes the following four components into consideration:

We base our valuations on what the basketball programs contribute to four important beneficiaries: their university (money generated by basketball that goes to the institution for academic purposes, including scholarship payments for basketball players); athletic department (the net profit generated by the basketball program retained by the department); conference (the distribution of tournament revenue); and local communities (incremental spending by visitors to the county during the regular season that’s attributable to the program).

Now we’ll leave it to the MBAs in the audience to figure out if theirs is a proper and defensible way to analyze the monetary value of a college hoops program, but for now, here’s their results:

2007 Forbes Values

Note: we added the two columns on the far right. We found expenses from 2007 at www.basketballstate.com, and return on investment (ROI) is our calculation dividing profit by expenses.

ROIs. Ohio St. is getting 6.85 times back in profit from what it spends on its program? There’s absolutely no way this is true – methinks this is a reporting issue (did an Enron exec end up on the OSU Board of Trustees?) In the land of economic reality, it appears Arizona, UNC and Louisville are getting tremendous returns on investment, approaching or exceeding a 3:1 ratio in each case. On the flip side, Michigan St. and Syracuse are only getting a 1:1 ratio of profit to expenses (which, if you think about it, is still very successful).

Who is Missing? After the last two years, we’re a little surprised that Florida isn’t on this list – even if they’re not as profitable, we figured their value through revenue from the tournament would be sky high. What about basketball schools such as Big East stalwarts Georgetown and Connecticut? Those aren’t more valuable basketball properties than Wisconsin or Oklahoma St.?

State Schools Rule. With the notable exceptions of traditional powers Duke and Syracuse, and the surprising inclusion of Xavier, the other seventeen schools on the list are big state schools. What’s driving that? The sheer number of fans in those states who buy seats to games? The licensing of all the gear that each school sells to those fans? Local television rights so they can watch all the games?

Flyover Country. The Midwest + Tobacco Road is where it’s at if you want profitable basketball, it appears. The only outliers to that premise are UCLA, Arizona, Texas, Maryland and Syracuse.

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ATB: Weekend Wrap

Posted by rtmsf on January 28th, 2008

ATB v.4

Still Unbeaten. #1 Memphis and #2 Kansas remained unbeaten through the weekend, and until both lose a game, this will be the top storyline for the last six weeks of the regular season. This is the latest point in a season that two teams have been undefeated since 2005 (Illinois and Boston College), and there are no signs that either team is slowing down soon. Kansas, the top defensive efficiency team in America, knocked the stuffing out of Nebraska 84-49, but we figure the Big 12 (#2 conf in both KenPom and Sagarin) is too tough as a conference for the Jayhawks to go 16-0 this year (est. KenPom chances of running the table = 38.5%). The real intrigue is whether Memphis (#2 defensive efficiency) will run the table until March, and given that they handled Gonzaga 81-73 in a workmanlike manner on Saturday, we’re feeling like Calipari’s team has a great shot at getting into the postseason unblemished (est. KenPom = 58.3%). He’s no stranger to this kind of pressure, either; remember, in 1996, UMass was 26-0 and #1 deep into February before finally losing a late A10 game to GW. That year also happens to represent Calipari’s sole trip to the F4, before Marcus Camby’s “homemade” bling ultimately led to its vacation by the NCAA. Both teams face somewhat tough opponents on the road Wednesday, however (Memphis @ Houston; Kansas @ Kansas St.), but if they survive those tests we might have a situation similar to 2004 when both Stanford and St. Joseph’s made it to the first week of March unbeaten. It must be noted, though, that neither of those teams made it to the F4.

The Truth About Duke. We were absolutely sure that Duke was going to lose at Maryland yesterday. After watching the first half, where James Gist and Bambale Osby seemingly scored inside at will, we were beyond absolutely convinced that the Terps were on track to beat their second top five opponent in eight days. So what happened? Duke 93, Maryland 84. We’re not going to pile on Gary Williams and his squad for their typical carelessness with the ball, etc., here – that’s what they do, and they were still able to beat UNC in Chapel Hill last weekend. No, we’re going to give all the credit to Duke for their hustle, resilience and clutch play down the stretch last night. It was funny, once Duke got the lead with 12 minutes remaining, we knew in our gut that the game was over. Sure enough, Duke methodically pulled away by getting after the loose balls, battling on the boards despite being undersized, and forcing some of those poor Maryland turnovers. We generally try to avoid the stereotypical “Duke is smarter” BS that you hear the Dick Vitale and Mike Patricks of the world prattle on about, but this year we have to give it to them. Duke plays with a very high basketball IQ, they absolutely get after you defensively, and they simply don’t beat themselves. They just don’t have enough of an inside attack to win another national championship this year, but Duke haters everywhere should prepare themselves for another depressing February and a #1 seed for the Devils in March.

Conference Muddling. The middle of the six BCS conferences are about as wide open as we can remember. In the ACC, after Duke (5-0) and Carolina (4-1), who is the third best team? There are nine other teams with either three or two wins. The Big East is even worse – after Georgetown (6-1) and Louisville (5-2), there are eleven teams with four or three wins, including an absurd six teams with identical 4-3 records. The Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC are a little better, but it’s the Big 10 that is the only league exhibiting true have/have-not behavior. Five teams have five-plus wins, five teams have two or fewer wins, and poor Iowa sits in the middle at 3-5.

Saturday Games. Here are the games that caught our attention on Saturday.

  • Notre Dame 90, #23 Villanova 80. As soon as we think we’ve got ND figured out, they do something like this.
  • Connecticut 68, #8 Indiana 63. We watched this game and still can’t figure this one out.
  • Texas-Pan American 54, NJIT 42. 0-21 now… Circle the home date v. 4-19 Longwood on 2/4 as the breakthrough win.
  • NC State 69, Florida St. 66. This was pretty much a must-win for the Pack.
  • #19 Texas A&M 59, Oklahoma St. 56. OSU continues to struggle in the Big 12 (1-4).
  • Arizona 84, Washington 69. Arizona is starting to look like the third best team in the Pac-10.
  • Louisville 67, St. John’s 57. Terrence Williams with triple 8s (8/8/8 assts).
  • UNLV 72, San Diego St. 69. A key road win in the Mtn West for Vegas.
  • Virginia Tech 81, Boston College 73 (OT). Would the real BC please stand up?
  • Oklahoma 77, Baylor 71. BU’s first B12 loss is at the hands of the surging Sooners (Blake Griffin with 17/15).
  • Purdue 60, #11 Wisconsin 56. Very nice home win for the young Boilers (6-1 in the B10).
  • Mississippi St. 88, #15 Ole Miss 68. MSU is starting to look a little like that team SEC:TGTBTD predicted back in September.
  • Rutgers 77, #17 Pittsburgh 64. Nice egg-laying by Pitt in this one.
  • Kansas St. 82, Iowa St. 57. KSU continues to surge (Beastley 33/15).
  • #18 Drake 58, Northern Iowa 54. The class of the MVC continues to roll…
  • #6 Washington St. 56, #25 Arizona St. Heartbreaking home loss for the Sun Devils.
  • #22 Stanford 82, California 77. Once again, it appears as if Cal is the odd man out in the Pac-10.
  • Richmond 80, #14 Dayton 63. Two straight blowout losses for the Flyers – what happened?
  • #10 Georgetown 58, West Virginia 57. GTown just keeps sneaking by…
  • #3 Tennessee 85, Georgia 69. Lofton came out of his shooting slump with 7 threes.
  • #12 Texas 73, Texas Tech 47. DJ Augustin with 19 as Bob Knight continues to teach mediocrity.
  • #21 Marquette 79, Depaul 71. MU’s backcourt combined for 44 pts.
  • Arkansas 68, LSU 52. The John Brady firing watch continues…
  • USC 95, Oregon 86 (OT). Forget what we said last week about Oregon always winning at home – tough weekend for the Ducks.
  • #7 UCLA 85, Oregon St. 62. What’s laughable is that OSU thought they were in this game at halftime (43-39).

Sunday Games. A few more…

  • #20 Xavier (OH) 77, Massachusetts 65. UMass has really fallen off, but Xavier continues to look fantastic.
  • Florida 86, #16 Vanderbilt 64. Let’s remove Vandy and Ole Miss in favor of Florida and Miss St. in this week’s blogpoll, shall we?
  • #9 Michigan St. 77, Michigan 62. We just can’t get a sense as to how good this MSU team really is (6-1 in the B10, but that one loss was so hideous!).
  • Miami (FL) 75, Clemson 72. Miami really needed this win to avoid a freefall in the conference race.
  • Syracuse 71, Providence 64. Both teams needed this one, Cuse got it.
  • Georgia Tech 92, Virginia 82 (OT). Tremendous ending in regulation in this one, but Virginia has now earned itself last place in the ACC.
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ATB: Thursday Wrap

Posted by rtmsf on January 24th, 2008

ATB v.4

Tonight’s Games. Kinda lame night, but here are the quick hits:

  • #6 Duke 81, Virginia Tech 64.  We couldn’t get into watching this game this year.
  • #11 Butler 63, Loyola (IL) 50.  Butler continues to pace the Horizon (1/2 game behind Cleveland St.).
  • Davidson 87, Citadel 70.  Davidson is halfway to undefeated in the SoCon this year (10-0).
  • #18 Xavier 69, #14 Dayton 43.  Wow, XU absolutely slaughtered the Flyers in Cincy tonight.
  • Arizona 76, #7 Washington St. 64.  We know one blogger who’s feeling rather smug right now.
  • USC 68, Oregon St. 44.  Maybe OSU should just go ahead and join the WCC.
  • Washington 72, #22 Arizona St. 61.  How quickly a week can change things for Herb Sendek.
  • #10 Michigan St. 78, Northwestern 62.  Let’s send Northwestern to the WCC while we’re at it.
  • Pacific 71, UCSB 58.  Big road win in the Big West for Pacific (5-1).
  • #4 UCLA 80, Oregon 75.  Kevin Love gave some love back to his home state in the form of 26/18 and the Ducks’ first home loss of the year.
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Send It In, Jerome!

Posted by rtmsf on January 24th, 2008

In honor of the twentieth anniversary of one of the great ESPN college basketball moments of our youth…

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ATB: 65 Minutes in College Station

Posted by rtmsf on January 24th, 2008

ATB v.4

Game of the Night Year? Baylor 116, Texas A&M 110 (5 OT). For the second straight season, possibly probably the game of the year comes to us from the heart of Big 12 country. Let’s get straight to the stats, which are simply astonishing for a college game: 65 minutes of basketball, 191 FG attempts, 106 FT attempts, 69 fouls (!!), 8 player DQs, 120 rebounds, and 216 total points. We’re wondering how anyone had enough energy reserves to finish off this one. More importantly, this was a HUGE road win for the Baylor program, now 16-2 and tied atop the Big 12 standings with Kansas at 4-0. Who could have believed that this program, so maligned after the Dave Bliss/Patrick Dennehy fiasco, could have risen from the ashes to this point so quickly? We could understand a major power rebuilding after such a disaster, but Baylor, one of the annual Big 12 doormats? Major props to head coach Scott Drew for making the Bears one of the feel-good stories of the season thus far. On the flip side, what has happened to Texas A&M? They appear to be imploding, but maybe they were being overvalued (ourselves included) based on that dominant victory over Ohio St. (70-47) back in the Preseason NIT in November. Their next best win was over Oral Roberts (also in Nov) and they’ve only gone 2-4 against the kenpom top 100.

OJ Mayo’s Tickets. So the other big news coming out of yesterday was the possibility that OJ Mayo will be penalized by the NCAA for taking and using a guest ticket provided by Carmelo Anthony for the Lakers-Nuggets game on Mon. night. Tim Floyd, godluvhim, is doing his best to become the fall guy here, knowing full well that at 11-6 (1-3 Pac-10), he needs OJ out there every night to try to secure an NCAA bid in his only year on campus. We’re not sure how Floyd giving Mayo permission to take the ticket somehow exonerates Mayo, but we love his attempt at cover. Nevertheless, we predict a 1-2 game suspension over this violation for Mayo.

Last Night’s Games. There were several interesting results last night:

  • St. Joseph’s 81, Massachusetts 77. The A10 is going to be wild this year, with six teams in the RPI top 52.
  • Florida St. 69, Virginia 67. Can anyone definitively tell us who the third best team in the ACC is?
  • Georgia Tech 77, NC State 74. At 1-3 in the ACC, the Wolfpack really have their work cut out for them.
  • Rutgers 80, Villanova 68. A really poor loss for Nova.
  • Purdue 64, Penn St. 42. Don’t look but Purdue is now 5-1 in the Big 10.
  • #2 Kansas 83, Iowa St. 59. Next week’s game to Manhattan, KS, is looking like the best possibility for a KU loss.
  • #17 Pittsburgh 81, St. John’s 57. A once-proud program such as St. John’s should be ashamed of itself.
  • Connecticut 84, Cincinnati 83. We thought Cincy had this one, but this was a necessary with for the Huskies.
  • William & Mary 73, Drexel 72 (OT). The surprising Tribe are moving up the ranks of the CAA (6-2).
  • BYU 59, San Diego St. 56. SDSU has gotten less hype than BYU and UNLV, but they’re the top team in the Mtn West right now (4-1, #55 RPI).
  • West Virginia 66, Marshall 64. Marshall always makes this a hellacious game for WVU.
  • #1 Memphis 56, Tulsa 41. Line of the night – 2/19/2 blks for Dorsey.
  • Florida 73, South Carolina 71. The Dave Odom farewell tour continues with another home L.
  • Texas Tech 92, Missouri 84. Missouri is faltering again in the Big 12 (1-3).
  • #8 Indiana 65, Iowa 43. The undervalued Hoosiers (17-1, 6-0 Big 10) keep cruising.
  • #4 UNC 98, Miami (FL) 82. Carolina recovers from its shocking loss to Maryland.
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Here We Go…

Posted by rtmsf on January 23rd, 2008

We were off the grid last weekend, which figures, because for all intents and purposes the college hoops season got under way while we were gone.  What are we talking about?  Upset Saturday, baby.

A couple weeks ago we pointed out that this season to date has been boring uninspiring due largely to the complete lack of upsets among the top teams.  No more.  Last weekend the carnage in the Top 25 was significant, as nine ranked teams (incl. 3 of the top 10) took a loss.  The most shocking were the twin home losses of #2 UNC and #4 UCLA to unranked conference rivals Maryland and USC, respectively.  Throw in last night’s loss by #7 Tennessee at Kentucky, and we’re starting to see a trend here.

But we shouldn’t be too shocked.   Conference play is tough, no matter who you are or where you’re ranked.  And now that we’re heading into late January, some teams that may have looked like complete garbage a month or more ago are starting to show signs that there was a larger plan after all.  In addition to the Terps and Trojans, take a bow, UConn, K-State, Kentucky and Cincinnati.  Meanwhile, some other teams that looked like worldbeaters in December are now starting to exhibit some mental and/or physical fatigue.  UNC, Texas A&M, Marquette and Ole Miss fall into this category.

Rollercoaster

Let’s Strap In and Enjoy the Ride.  

We watched the good weekend games on Tivo last night, and what really struck us as impressive was the level of intensity being played by teams on both ends of the court.  For example, we’ve seen Maryland play a handful of times this year, and the Terps have typically looked like they’d rather be somewhere else.  Not Saturday – Maryland may have come into Chapel Hill with a record of 11-7 and a loss to American on its resume, but they played every second of the game as if they belonged on the same court with the unbeaten Heels.  At Florida, the bloody carcass known as Kentucky may have come into Gainesville with a record of 0-3 on the road, but they played as if Chuck Hayes and Tayshaun Prince were once again taking it to Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh (in other words, hard).  To keep the analogy going, USC may have been a meager 1-3 in the Pac-10, but their HS all-americans played as if they were talking smack and running with the older but slower UCLA guys on the Santa Monica courts.

What all this means is that we’re hitting the last third of the season, and teams are, as usual, finding life in conference play to be tough.  For most of the Top 25, there will be far fewer easy victories than before; for the teams that struggled through the first half, seasons can be saved with a few key victories at the right time.  Everyone who follows college hoops rightly loves March for its wild and unpredictable nature, but we shouldn’t sleep on the next six weeks either.  The end of January and all of February is where the seeds of March Madness are sown.  Let’s all strap in and enjoy the ride…

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You Stay Classy, North Carolina…

Posted by rtmsf on January 22nd, 2008

Ahh yes, a the #1 team goes down in flames at home to a conference rival…

…and what to our wondering ears should we hear, but one weeping coed and her overtly racist jeer.

Clearly Mary Jane Tarheel has never been to the bucolic Shangri-la known as College Park, Maryland – she must have been thinking of Oxon Hill.

(h/t to jarrett-carter.com)

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Blogpoll – Week 10

Posted by rtmsf on January 17th, 2008

Here’s this week’s version:

Blogpoll - Week 10

Note: keep in mind the blogpoll does not take into account Tues. and Wed. night games.

Justifying Our Ballot. Frankly, there’s not much we need to justify because we’re not too much at variance with the blogworld this week. We value Indiana a little more, and Pitt/Xavier a little less, but there’s nothing in our ballot that should raise an eyebrow this time around. The two teams we submitted that were left off the blogpoll this week were Oklahoma and Arizona. But we can live with their omissions. Glad to see Drake made the list at #23, but people really need to get Clemson outta here until they get a quality win on the road.

Variance. Georgetown (from #10 to NR) and Dayton (#8 to NR) again.

Conference Call.

  • ACC – 4
  • A10, Big 12, Big 10, Big East, Pac-10, SEC – 3 each
  • CUSA, Horizon, MVC – 1 each
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The Magic Eight Deconstructed

Posted by rtmsf on January 16th, 2008

Today SI’s Grant Wahl published his annual January synopsis of the eight teams that he feels have sufficient chops to win the national title in April. He likes to point out that in the eight previous years of doing this article, he’s been correct in seven of them (the one miss: 2003 with Syracuse). FYI, here is a spreadsheet of his Magic Eight picks for each year since its inception. Looking at the document with the caveat that we generally like Wahl’s work, in the last eight years the only true “gotcha!” champion was that Cuse team, which raises the question of just how difficult it is to pick eight top-tier teams in the hopes that one of the group cuts the nets down.

The short answer is not very. Had Wahl simply chosen the top eight teams in the AP poll for the correlating January week, he would have nailed six of the eight champions during this period. The only other team he would have missed (besides 2003 Syracuse) would have been 2000 Michigan State, and Wahl would be the first to tell you that the reason for MSU’s relatively low ranking at that point in the 2000 season was completely because of Mateen Cleaves’ foot injury that kept him out of the lineup until conference play. After all, MSU was the preseason #1 team in America that year.

Magic 8 Ball

What we think is considerably harder to do is to pick Final Four teams three months ahead of time. The truly elite teams (champions) almost always rise to the top, but with the knowledge that there will inevitably be upsets and great-looking in January will be off the map by March, we figure that if you can consistently pick half of the F4 that far ahead of time, then you’re probably doing something right. Well, it turns out that in the eight years of Wahl’s M8, he’s nailed sixteen of the thirty-two F4 teams for a success rate of exactly 50%. Using our AP ranking measurement mentioned above, he would have gotten fifteen right (47%) by sticking with the poll. So at least he’s beating the chalk.

Which brings us to our analysis of his M8 teams for this season. Here are his eight selections:

  • Georgetown
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Louisville
  • Memphis
  • Tennessee
  • UCLA
  • Xavier

Perhaps getting a bit full of his record (or taking a huge gamble in an attempt to look really smart on April 7), this year’s selections omitted the UNC Tar Heels, who are currently 17-0 and the #1 team in both major media polls (#2 in the blogpoll). We can’t figure this one out.

Grant Wahl

Grant, what are you thinking?

Does Wahl really believe that Xavier (or Dayton, as he claims he almost chose) has a better chance of cutting down the nets than UNC? Is he willfully encouraging hordes of Carolina-blue hatemail upon his inbox? Is he simply trying to up his hit page stats ? We have no idea, but let’s see what his justification is for leaving off one of the four teams that has shown itself to be head & shoulders above the rest of the country this year, and quite possibly a juggernaut.

Carolina just doesn’t defend as well as the other three.

That’s it? While he’s right (they don’t), there is still time for significant improvement on that measure, and it’s not like they’re piss-poor (#31 nationally as of today). But more importantly, the Heels also are one of the very best offensive teams in the country, and that alone should indicate they’re worth a look as one of the eight teams most likely to win the national championship. We just don’t understand his reasoning here. If you don’t think they’ll win it all, that’s fine; but to make a claim that they’re not one of the eight most likely to do so… that’s just criminal. Moving on…

As for his 2008 selections, no Wazzu, no Michigan St., no Duke and no Texas A&M is fine – each of those teams has a major flaw or two. Had we produced a M8, we would have definitely taken UNC over Xavier and probably replaced Tennessee with Michigan St. We may have also left Louisville off because we don’t know where their outside shooting is coming from and who will be injured next, but we’re not sure who we think is a marginally better choice, so we’d probably end up leaving them. But really, no major beefs other than the UNC omission.

FWIW, since it’d be fairly disingenuous to rip Wahl’s picks without providing our own for review, we’re sticking with the F4 selections we made for STF at the beginning of the season – UNC, Indiana, UCLA, Gonzaga. The only one we’re currently nervous about is Gonzaga, simply because they haven’t taken off with the return of Josh Heytvelt like we thought they would. There’s still time, though.

Update:  we sent this link to Wahl, and he responded in an email that he thought we had mischaracterized his article in the sense that he never claimed to be picking the eight teams most likely to win the national championship.  He said that if that were the case, UNC would have been #4 on his list; however, his intent was to eliminate one of the “Big Four,” so as to make things interesting and avoid the appearance of playing it safe.  We thought the intent of the M8 was to create a pool of teams from which he “guarantees” the champ will come – if that’s the case, we still don’t really understand the UNC omission.

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