Monday, January 31, 2011

Welcome to Bracketville---Bad Week for the Mighty Edition

Three reasons why Big East basketball is so good: Louisville 79, UConn 78 in double-OT; Georgetown 69, Villanova 66; Marquette 76, Syracuse 70…three excellent games this past Saturday, six NCAA tournament teams.

If you needed more proof, the 93-78 humiliation, an unranked St. John’s threw down on Duke on Sunday should do it.

Opponents are shooting 47.8 percent from 3-point range during Syracuse’s four-game slide.

Wisconsin entered the Penn State game averaging 17 free throws a game, shot just three in their upset loss.

In their 71-64 loss at Mississippi State, Florida allowed only four Bulldogs to score.

Last week, the Top 25 had a record of 22-20.

18 teams in last week’s AP poll had at least one loss at some point during the week. Other than Missouri, Minnesota and Purdue, they lost to lower ranked or unranked teams.

Ten teams ranked in the AP Preseason Top 25 are unranked going into February.

Over his last four games, UConn’s Kemba Walker has made 17 of his 74 attempts, or 23%.

In Xavier’s victory at Richmond, Tu Holloway was 17 of 17 from the foul line. Xavier is 7-0 in league play.





An interesting stat I have been noodling around is points scored per field goals attempted. I don’t know of anyone who tracks this, so you have to do your own homework. My rough guess is anything under 1.5 is inefficient.

This stat is a two edged sword…perimeter players benefit from the three-point shot, while post players have a better chance of drawing fouls and take higher percentage shots. Great ball handlers who are likely to get fouled in late game situations have a most favorable opportunity to exceed the 1.5 threshold.

Players who jack up a lot of shots and fall below 1.5 are especially ought to be prone to lousy tournaments. As a rule there are far fewer possessions in the Tournament…therefore less opportunities for shots (both bad and good looks).

I’ll be testing this metric when filling out my bracket this March, especially in games I feel are close to toss-ups.

For Duke, only Ryan Kelly exceeds 1.5 in ACC play. Smith (1.25), Singler (1.16), Curry (1.42) and Dawkins (1.21) could have long nights in March. Looking at those numbers goes a long way to explaining the beat down Duke got from St. John’s.

Check it out with your favorite team…it’s an eye-opener.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Welcome to Bracketville---Where Have All the Undefeated Teams Gone Edition

A topsy turvey week of college hoops when Kansas, Pitt and Syracuse all lose at home.

Providence upset both Louisville and Villanova? One more example of a college basketball world where the difference between the top teams and the others is not as big as many people think.

Duke is undefeated when scoring more points than their opponents.

Texas has three major road victories this season: North Carolina in Greensboro; Michigan State in East Lansing; and now Kansas in Lawrence. Last time a team beat those three opponents away from home in the same season: 1992-93. That team was the Michigan Fab Five.

Between 1980 (when the NCAA expanded and allowed an unlimited number of teams per conference) and 2005, the ACC has won more titles, produced more Final Four Teams, won more NCAA Tournament games and enjoyed the best NCAA winning percentage of any conference.

Things have changed. In the past eight weeks the ACC has had just one team in the Top 25…they are below .500 versus other BCS teams and just 5-13 against ranked opponents.

Only two players have won both the scoring title and a major National Player of Year Award since Pete Maravich did it in 1970…Bradley’s Hersey Hawkins (1988) and Glenn Robinson (Purdue) in 1994. BYU’s Jimmer Fredette has a shot this season.

Duke’s Nolan Smith is on a pace to become the first ACC player to lead the league in both scoring and assists. In fact, only six times since 1973 have the scoring and assists leaders been on the same team.

Ryan Kelly’s 20-point game against Wake Forest made him Duke’s sixth player to record 20 points this season. In the next game against BC, Seth Curry scored 20…making seven.

Currently Pitt is 145-11 all-time at the Peterson Events Center and 9-0 versus top five opponents.

When the Big East debuted in 1979, the league consisted of seven schools---UConn, Syracuse and five Catholic schools with basketball pedigrees, four in the Northeast and Georgetown in Washington, D.C. Villanova was added the next year.

In Duke’s 84-68 victory over BC, the Blue Devil bench contributed exactly zero points and just four rebounds.

Here in the East, I have yet to see BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, but the prolific scoring guard is one of those players that make you say to yourself, "I need to see this kid." College basketball needs more of them.


Curmudgeon in the Wry 496

Saturday, January 29, 2011---504 Words---Average Reading Time: 2 Minutes, 16 Seconds. (A pointless waste of time---time frittered away)

Offending readers and hindering productivity one issue at a time since 2001.

Continuing to call them as I see them.

Virtually free of original ideas.

Warning: Contains unsound bites from the apple of life.

Often wrong…never in doubt.

Being wrong is the risk you run by thinking and acting.

A Grumpy Old Man Production.

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Rave: Alan Ladd.

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Reading: “I’d Know You Anywhere” by Baltimore’s Laura Lippman.

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On the Hi Fi: “Knowing You” by John Pizzarelli.

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Under rated: Ann Sothern.

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I miss: Quicksilver Messenger Service, William Diehl, Lee Marvin, and Joe Adcock.

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Numbers Game: In 2011, we have these four nifty dates: 1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11 and 11/11/11. Now, try this at home: Take the last two digits of the year you were born plus the age you will be this year and it will equal 111.

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Rave: “Fool On the Hill” by Sergio Mendez and Brazil 66 is far and away my favorite cover of a Beatles tune.

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Hmmm: When Jack LaLanne started appearing on national TV 50 years ago, teaching about the benefits of exercise and proper diet, America's obesity rate was 13 percent. Today, it's 34 percent, and instead of exercise shows, TV gives us a reality series called the "Biggest Loser." Imagine how huge Americans would be if Jack hadn't steadfastly remained on the scene.

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Quote: “A zebra does not change its spots.”—Al Gore, the genius who invented the Internet.

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Rave: You’ve got to love the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan, who called Rex Ryan “that Ralph Kramden of a coach.”

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Rant: Steven Tyler has become the male equivalent of Cher.

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Didjaknow: Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox got a 384 percent salary increase for 2011, even though he only played in 18 games last season.

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Quote: “You can’t raise taxes on people who work, increase what you pay people not to work, and then expect more people to work.”—Art Laffer, Wall Street Journal, 1/13/11.

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Truism: Memo to all athletes---Twitter is not your friend.

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Rave: Anyone vilified by the New York Times is A-OK in my book.

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Irony Alert: In his State of the Union rambling the guy with huge Dumbo ears said he was against earmarks.

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Rant: Be wary of movies based on comic strips.

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In Passing: R.I.P. David Nelson, one of the stars of a TV reality show before anyone ever heard of the term.

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Rave: John Stossel’s Rule---“For every new law passed, we must repeal two old ones.”

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Hmmm: Are you getting the feeling that every night is New Year’s Eve for Charlie Sheen, who is quickly becoming Lindsay Lohan in long pants?

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Quote: “Art is making something out of nothing and then selling it.”—Frank Zappa.

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If you can read this, thank a teacher.

If you can’t, thank the teacher’s union.

If you are reading it in English, thank a Veteran.

That is all.

As you were.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Welcome to Bracketville---It's Anybody's Game Every Night Edition

At this time last season, 2010 runner-up, Butler was not ranked in the Top 25.

Wisconsin’s 76-66 win over Illinois had 54 fouls called…about one every 45 seconds…ridiculous! The bright side of that stat---Wisconsin guard, Jordan Taylor was 16 for 18 from the foul line.

Three of San Diego State’s four conference wins thus far have come on the road.

When UNC lost to Georgia Tech over the weekend, they hit just 27.6% of their shot…UNC’s lowest field goal percentage since1956!

By the way, Georgia Tech was ranked 12th in the ACC in field goal percentage and field goal percentage defensive…in a 12 team league.

LSU was pretty terrible in their 82-44 weekend loss to Kentucky. LSU’s Andre Stringer was the worst of the worst, going zero for ten from beyond the arc. This is the same Andre Stringer whose 3-point shooting percentage is 32---how can he possibly think it’s reasonable to attempt a three, let alone ten?

Even with freshman Jared Sullinger nabbing nearly ten rebounds a game, Ohio State was outrebounded by a total 14 in their past three games. In Big 10 conference games, Ohio State is ranked seventh in rebounding margin.

Home teams have won more than 63% of their ACC games in the 57-year history of the league.

Last season home teams won 68.8% of the time.

Since 1997, Duke has won 88.4% of its ACC games in Cameron. On neutral courts, Duke has won an extraordinary 86.5% of their games.

Even more remarkable, Duke’s winning percentage is 70.5% in ACC road games in that time span…only one losing season in those 14 seasons.

From midseason 1998 to February 14, 2001, the Blue Devils won 24 straight ACC road games…truly remarkable.

For the eighth consecutive week, only one ACC school is ranked in the AP poll. From 1969 through November 2010, the ACC had only one team ranked on just three occasions. At least two ACC teams were ranked in every poll from March 1977 until last month.

No matter how exciting and enjoyable the season has been, there is very little excellence to be seen. I see excellence in Pitt, Kansas, Ohio State…maybe Syracuse…perhaps UConn.

After that there are a lot of good teams that can win on any given night. After watching Alabama beat Kentucky, I have dubbed this the season “where you really never know where your next unexpected loss will be.” There have been many, many unpredictable games---not just upsets, but wins that should never have been that close.

I have no idea how to rate San Diego State, since we don’t get to see them in the East (same with BYU). However, I do know that not many teams beat New Mexico in The Pit in Albuquerque, especially a good New Mexico team.

Illinois and Missouri are two teams I would not want to play in the NCAA Tournament.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Curmudgeon in the Wry 495

Wednesday, January 12, 2011---696 Words---Average Reading Time: 2 Minutes, 16 Seconds. (A pointless waste of time---time frittered away)

Offending readers and hindering productivity one issue at a time since 2001.

Continuing to call them as I see them.

Virtually free of original ideas.

Warning: Contains unsound bites from the apple of life.

Often wrong…never in doubt.

Being wrong is the risk you run by thinking and acting.

A Grumpy Old Man Production.

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Rave: Susannah McCorkle.

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Reading: “Savages” by Don Winslow.

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On the Hi Fi: “West Coast Jazz, Disc Two.”

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Under rated: Mike Nesmith.

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I miss: Lawrence Sanders, Paul Desmond, Gary Cooper, and Hank Bauer.

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Didjaknow: Both Fanny Flagg and Stewart Granger needed to adopt screen names because their real names were already taken. Their real names: Patricia Neal and James Stewart.

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Via Con Dios: Major Dick Williams died earlier this month. He was the leader of the 101st Airborne’s Easy Company in World War II…the “Band of Brothers.” A truly humble man, hero and patriot. We need more like him, not less. Men like Dick Williams are why we are a free people today.

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Quote: "A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellowman, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money."—G. Gordon Liddy.

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Hmmm: You know that you are getting up in age if you remember when [parsley was the only garnish used in restaurants.

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Rave: Among the things I liked about 2010 was Tiger Woods not winning a single golf tournament anywhere, anytime, anyplace all year; the New York Yankees targeting a big-money free agent and NOT getting him; it was wonderful to see Air Force and (especially) Army win their bowl games; Duke winning national titles in both Men’s lacrosse and Basketball.

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Truism: Of all the 35 bowl games, no result makes more sense than Army winning the Armed Forces Bowl.

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Quote: “A carelessly planned project takes three times longer to complete than expected; a carefully planned project will take only twice as long.” -- Unknown

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Hmmm: Who among us knows when the college football season ends?

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Rant: I find it disturbing that presbo had no moment of silence after an islamist terrorist killed soldiers at Fort Hood…selective mourning?

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Truism: Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks, months, maybe years.

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Didjaknow: The state of Florida alone has produced more college football national champions since 1980 than the entire Big Ten conference (even if you count Nebraska.)

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Rave: What’s more satisfying than crossing items off your “to-do” list?

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Free Advice: Never use your cell phone in the bathroom unless you need to cal 911.

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Truism: Don’t spend a lot of time telling people what they already know.

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Rant: A health care bill was passed that was written by a committee whose head said he didn’t understand it; passed by a Congress that did not bother to read it, but exempts them from abiding by it; signed by a president who smokes and is also exempted; with funding administered by a treasury secretary who is a tax cheat; overseen by a surgeon general who is obese; and financed by a country that is very nearly broke. What could possibly go wrong?

This bill is something only the obammysoxers could love.

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Truism: Show me a meeting that ends early and I’ll show you a bunch of happy people.

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Stats: Top three colleges in the bowl wins category: Alabama (32), USC (31) and Penn State (27).

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Trust Me: Never tuck your shirt into your underwear.

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Rant: Writing down a phone number without putting a name next to it…you’ll never remember whose number it is.

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Travel Tip: Two of the most dreaded words in the English language are “shuttle bus.” If you know the shuttle is part of the routine, see if there is an alternative.

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Truism: The quality of a hotel can be determined by its coat hangers.

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If you can read this, thank a teacher.

If you can’t, thank the teacher’s union.

If you are reading it in English, thank a Veteran.

That is all.

As you were.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Welcome to Bracketville---Winning on he Road Is hard Edition

South Carolina’s Sam Muldrow's line against Vanderbilt (the seventh tallest team in the country): 16 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks in an 83-75 OT win. Five of his blocks came in the final 8:29 of the game [regulation and OT] and after he had picked up his fourth foul.









Seton Hall was 0 of 17 from 3-point range in the first half against Syracuse.

No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Ohio State were in one-possession games in the final six minutes Sunday…and Kansas had to go to overtime to beat Michigan (of all teams).

Couple those three game with the seven losses by ranked teams…there were not a lot of impressive showings by the nation’s elite teams.

With all those ranked teams losing on the road, I am reminded of the “Seth Davis Rule of Success For Playing on the Road,” when you're at home, you can shoot three-pointers. When you're on the road, you have to shoot free throws.

Unranked Penn State out scored Michigan State in the paint and out rebounded MSU.

Pitt is ranked third in the country in assist-to-field goals percentage. They had 24 assists on 30 made field goals in Saturday's win over Marquette. They continue to be an impressive elite team.

Woeful Auburn beats Florida State by five and in their very next game, they were down 32-6 at halftime to bumbling LSU.

After this weekend’s game in Texas, I am going to be giving UConn the benefit of the doubt…ditto Gonzaga, but not yet for Butler.

Congratulations to Belmont head coach Rick Byrd on his 500th career win at Belmont.

In West Coast Conference, Saint Mary’s has won eight straight, while Gonzaga has seven in a row.

At #11 in this week’s poll, Notre Dame has its highest ranking in 25 years…senior leadership!

It is not delusional to think that Washington could run the table in the Pac 10.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Welcome to Bracketville---Conference play Commences Edition

Coach Mike Krzyzewski has had only two players stay four years at Duke and not graduate.








Virginia’s senior forward Mike Scott is averaging a double-double with 15.9 points and 10.2 boards per game. My guess is no one outside of the UVA campus knows that.

Notre Dame can find the open man…they average 18 assists a game.

The Irish have an all-senior-starting-lineup. Having all seniors allows a coach to do more coaching and less teaching---a benefit for St. John’s as well.

Kemba Walker has scored a third of UConn’s points this season…the young lad could use some help.

The Colonial Athletic Association (Old Dominion, George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth, etc.) earned six nonconference victories over the power-six schools---and 23 nonconference victories, most for any Division One conference.

Saint Mary’s is deadly accurate. They have a 50.6 field goal percentage, 74.9% from the foul line, 39% from three and six of their ten scholarship players are shooting over 49% from the floor.

Two reasons UCF remains undefeated are Keith Clanton and Tom Herzog in the post, combining for 4.9 blocks per game.

Due to injuries, Virginia Tech is down to eight scholarship players.

If you can’t score inside these days, you’re in trouble.