Thursday, February 24, 2011

Welcome to Bracketville---A New Record Edition


Georgetown’s Chris Wright was averaging 13.6 points and 5.5 assists per game when he broke his hand…that’s a big loss.

Wisconsin and Old Dominion are #2 #3 is scoring defense.

Old Dominion and Pitt are #1 and #2 in rebound margin.

Old Dominion has nine wins over teams with 18 or more wins this season.





Kansas is #1 in field-goal percentage.

Wisconsin is #1 in free-throw percentage.

Wisconsin is #1 in assist/turnover ratio. In their past 11 games they have single digit turnovers. They hold on to the ball, make their foul shots and keep the opponent off the scoreboard. They force a slow tempo…a pace they like. If the NCAA tournament were being played in Kohl Field House, they would be my pick for champs. It isn’t and they’re not.

George Mason is 13th in percentage of points obtained on three-pointers…they have five players shooting better than 40% from beyond the arc. Come tournament time, it is unlikely all five will go cold at the same time.

Another player we see too little of in the east is Derrick Williams of Arizona. The Wildcats enjoy a two game lead in the Pac 10, so we’ll have a chance during March Madness.

One guy we won’t be seeing is Marshon Brooks of Providence. His 52 points against #9 Notre Dame (in a 94-93 Irish victory) set a Big East record. Brooks will most likely be the best player in college basketball relegated to the role of spectator. He is second to BYU’s Jimmer Fredette with 25.4 points per game [11 points above last season] on a 49.6% shooting percentage.

A little perspective. While Brooks poured in 52 on Wednesday night, Michigan had 52, Wisconsin 53, Georgetown 46, Oklahoma 47, DePaul 51, Alabama 51 and Auburn 49.

When paired with Coach Knight on ESPN wearing a vee-neck sweater and tie, Brent Musburger looks like he should be attending college with Andy Hardy. All he needs to complete the outfit is a beanie.

Xavier’s Tu Holloway and Fredette are the Top 2 in made free-throws.

Kentucky is 7-6 in conference play…the six losses by a total of 13 points. They’ll have no problem making the field of 68, but their seeding may not be great.

I still think seeding makes a difference in the first round…then it’s every man for himself.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Welcome to Bracketville---What a Crazy Week Edition

News flash: Duke 55, Virginia 49. No, wait, that was the score in last November's football game between the two ACC rivals. Last Wednesday night's meeting on the basketball court was far less dramatic and lower scoring. This time, Duke won, 56-41.



What a wacky week. DePaul wins after losing 25 straight Big East road games…Ohio State loses after winning two dozen in a row…Pitt loses to St. John’s…Kansas loses to K-State…Texas loses to Nebraska…Notre Dame loses to West Virginia…Purdue made it two in a row for OSU…and I am pleased to report, Georgia waxed Tennessee in Knoxville.

Duke held serve during the week and was voted number one in both polls. What were those voters smoking? Beating Virginia and Georgia Tech isn’t the most taxing schedule.

Pitt’s one point loss was due to questionable call (or noncall) in the final seconds to a team (St. John’s) that blew out Duke. Lest we forget, Pitt has road wins over Villanova, West Virginia and Georgetown; home wins over Connecticut and Syracuse, and a neutral court win over Texas back in November.

Ohio State lost on the road to Wisconsin and Purdue (both Top 15 teams)---how many other teams would have done better than 0-2 in that sequence? By the way, Wisconsin and Purdue are a combined 29-0 at home this season. OSU (25-2) has seven top 50 wins highlighted by a blowout of Purdue (No. 7 in the RPI) and a road win over Florida (No. 13 in the RPI), and the Buckeyes are the only team with at least six wins over top-50 schools and zero losses to schools currently outside of the top 25.

Texas was the last power-conference school with a perfect league record…then they ran into the Nebraska defense. Texas (23-4) probably has better wins than OSU, but the Longhorns also have losses to Nebraska (No. 63 in the RPI) and USC (No. 86 in the RPI), and four losses total.

Kansas has seven wins against the top 50 of the RPI…all of them have been at home or on neutral courts. Their best road win was at California.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Duke (25-2) doesn't have wins as good as OSU's wins and the losses are worse considering one came at Florida State (No. 50 in the RPI). Duke faces an excellent Temple team this Wednesday, and travels to Virginia Tech on Saturday. The Blue Devils have a history of poor performances at Virginia Tech.

My opinion: The Buckeyes still have the nation's best body of work -- seven top 50 wins and both losses on the road to top-15 teams.

As they tipped off, Utah State and St. Mary’s had 46 wins between them…just two vs. Top 100 RPI teams.

Must see TV: San Diego State hosts BYU on Saturday--- a rematch with the only school that's beaten them. BYU has won 15 of 16 since losing to UCLA on Dec. 18.

Purdue has just one loss outside of the top 40 -- plus wins over Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Get well quickly Chandler Parsons (Florida).

UNC has won eight of nine and climbed into the top 10 of the RPI.

Kentucky has now won 32 consecutive games at Rupp Arena.

Syracuse has won 21 of their past 24 OT games, including Saturday's against Rutgers.

Kansas' free-throw shooting ranks 10th in the Big 12 at 66.8%. Even while they were beating up on Colorado, they still made just 12 of their 21 attempts, attempts.

San Diego State guard James Rahon ranks fourth in the Mountain West in three-point shooting at 43.1 percent. Yet he's eighth on his own team in free-throw shooting at 65.7 percent.

Ohio State played nine games this season using only seven or fewer players. The only team that has done that more often is USC with 14.

The last Duke/North Carolina game when both teams were unranked was played February 25, 1955. They have played 145 straight games where at least one team was ranked.

Since the inception of the 64-team tournament, Duke and UNC have combined for seven national titles and 20 Final Fours…that is more than any other conference.

The quickie interviews when the coach is on the way to the locker room for halftime are just plain stupid. Now on ESPN’s SEC broadcasts, the coaches give interviews during timeouts…even more stupid.

Does anyone even know what traveling is anymore?

Old Dominion will give a headache to whatever team they play in March…a strong zone defense, excellent passing and stout three-point shooting. In their game vs. Cleveland State, I finally got to see C-State’s Norris Cole. He is as good as advertised…more than one basketball pundit has said he is as good as anyone in the game…that might be correct.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Welcome to Bracketville---Pitt Should Be #1 Edition

When Duke bested Miami (71-61), they beat the spread by 0.5 points. That makes the 13th time this season the Blue Devils have beat the spread.

Kentucky’s five road losses have been by a total of 17 points.

Over the weekend, Niagara went 0-for-17 from 3-point range in a 61-50 loss to Rider…the second worst Division I performance this season (Ohio went 0-for-18 vs. Kansas). For the season, Niagara is shooting 27.8%.

Pitt has six RPI-Top-25 wins thus far. Texas and Ohio State each have a deuce, while Kansas has one. With an 11-1 record in conference, Pitt is the best team in the best conference. Pitt’s neutral court win over Texas, is arguably the best win of any potential number one seed, besides Texas.

St. John’s has five wins over Top-50 RPI teams, including Duke, Notre Dame and Georgetown.

Over the past five games the Virginia Tech bench is averaging 5.0 points per game.

Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin) is under the radar for no apparent reason…17.7 ppg along with a 4-1 assist to turnover ratio and 4.4 rebounds a game---and he shoots 41% from three-point range.

Cleveland State’s senior, Norris Cole had 41 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists over the weekend vs. Youngstown State; making him the first player since Blake Griffin to get a 40/20 game. This feat is even more remarkable when you notice he’s a 6’2” guard…over-achiever.

Georgetown is on a roll…eight in row in the W column.

Duke and North Carolina are all that’s keeping the ACC from becoming the Pac-10. They combine for seven of the last eight NCAA titles grabbed by the ACC, and 13 of the past 14 ACC tournament titles.

Kentucky leads the nation in signed recruits on the McDonald’s All-American list with four. Duke has three and UNC has a pair. Duke and UNC are the only ACC teams with a McDonald All-American commit.

Duke’s Kyle Singler ha played in 144 consecutive games, a school record…and holds the ACC single- season record for minutes played with 1470.

Is it too late to go back to 64 teams?

Ohio State---what’s not to like? Four guys who make more than 40% of their threes, senior leadership, inside presence, a scoring wing and a solid point guard. Aaron Craft’s length-of-the-court-sprint last night to grab an over and back loose ball and score, was the best hustle play I have seen this season.

Idle thought: Often the ESPN or regional network’s cameras scan the seats at mid-major or small conference games, revealing lots of empty seats. If students and locals (who ought to have an interest), don’t bother showing up, why would anyone else have a desire to catch the game on TV?

On the other hand, when similar mid-majors and small conference teams play with a packed house, you feel the same excitement that is generated at Cameron, Kohl Field House, The Pit, Rupp Arena or Phog Allen. Just shows the mids can as major league as the BCS Conferences.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Curmudgeon in the Wry 497


Tuesday, February 15, 2011---531 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.





Rave: Barry Sullivan.

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Reading: “The Inner Circle” by Brad Meltzer.

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On the Hi Fi: “The End of the Sky” by Full Swing.

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Under rated: Edward Everett Horton.

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I miss: Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, Robert Montgomery, Leo Durocher.

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Quote: “People do not resist change -- they resist being changed.”--Unknown

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Didjaknow: Olivia de Havilland won two Best Actress Oscars in the 1940’s.

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R.I.P.: Andy Jurinko, arguably the finest baseball artist, passed away on Valentine’s Day. His work graced many of Bill Goff’s fabulous calendars. You can check out his magnificent lithographs on his web site (www.Jurinko.com). My particular favorite is his “Grand Old Griffith (where I witnessed my first major league baseball game).

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Rave: During this calendar year, all commemorative stamps from the USPS will be “forever” stamps.

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Rant: The only thing more boring than a live drum solo is a recorded drum solo played on the radio. The only thing more boring than a recorded drum solo is a recorded drum solo by Buddy Rich.

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Didjaknow: Abbott and Costello performed “Who’s On First’’ on “The Steve Allen Show’’ in front of an audience that included Mickey Mantle and Sal Maglie the night before Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Mantle homered off Maglie in the game.

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Rave: “Justified” returned for season two last Wednesday night at 10 PM on FX. Outstanding show based on an Elmore Leonard short story.

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Truism: If Snooki on the NY Times best-seller lists, is not the sign of the cultural apocalypse, it is in the ballpark.

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R.I.P.: Jazz pianist and composer extraordinaire, George Shearing also passed away at age 91. His contribution to the jazz and popular music of the greatest generation are legendary. He is most likely best remembered for “Lullaby of Birdland.” For me, East of the Sun and West of the Moon” and “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” are the standouts.

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Old School: The Packers and Steelers are among the six NFL teams that do not have official dance squads/cheerleaders.

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Just the facts: On Wednesday (2/2) when Glenn Beck told his audience to do their own homework and look up and learn about the Caliphate, instantly Caliphate launched to #1 on Google Trends most searched topics. Glenn consistently maintains a four-to-one viewer lead on the pathetic Chris Mathews.

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Didjaknow: Just four NFL franchises have never won the Super Bowl---Lions, Browns, Jaguars and Texans.

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Rant: I simply do not get the fascination for and the rating of “NCIS.”

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Rave: Non-stick aluminum foil from Reynolds Wrap.

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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, February 09, 2011

Welcome to Bracketville---Rivalry Week Continues Edition

ACC teams are 4-14 outside the conference against teams currently in the Top 25.

Since expansion in the ACC, the only team to reach the Sweet 16 other than Duke and UNC is BC. They did it their first season as an ACC member.

Thus far this season there have been 14 halves in which six different ACC teams have failed to score even 20 points.



The UNC at Duke matchup is the first time since December 1st that Duke has played a ranked team.

Until going 8-for-16 last Saturday vs Iowa State, Jacob Pullen (Kansas State) had not shot 50% from the field in a Big 12 game…currently he has just six more assists than turnovers in league play.

Baylor has not beaten anyone in the Big 12 with a winning record.

It’s a good thing Tennessee are a strong offensive rebounding team because they miss plenty of shots. How about 44% from the field, 32% from the three (11th in the SEC)?

According to ESPN, last Saturday’s 149 Division I games, included 72 decided by six or fewer points (two possessions) or went into OT. That’s 48% for those of you scoring at home, making it the closest collection of games in at least two years. The second most suspenseful day with 100 or more games was February 20, 2010 (42%).

Location, location, location: Kentucky is nearly unbeatable at home----extremely beatable on the road.

In their initial eight ACC games, Maryland is 3-1 on the road and 1-3 at home.

Here is an interesting look at the life of the college ref from ESPN’s Pat Forde:

Blow the whistle on overworked officials

Because The Minutes is basketball-addicted, watching the Iona-Fairfield game late this past Friday night came naturally. So did tuning in the next day at noon for West Virginia-Villanova.

That's when The Minutes noticed something ridiculous: official Brian O'Connell (30) worked both games -- one in Bridgeport, Conn., the other in Philadelphia, with tipoffs just 15 hours and more than 150 miles apart.

This is an approximation of O'Connell's timeline Friday and Saturday:

The Minutes is blowing the whistle on the workload of referees like Brian O'Connell.

Work the game at Fairfield, which ended after 11 p.m. ET. The earliest he could have left the arena would figure to be 11:30.

Drive to his home in Middletown, N.J., which Google Maps puts at roughly a two-hour trip. Estimated arrival home: 1:30 a.m. No idea how long it took him to unwind and go to sleep.

Officials are expected to be at the arena at least 90 minutes before tipoff, so O'Connell had to be in the gym in Philly by 10:30 a.m. Driving distance from Middletown is about 90 minutes, which pins his departure from home at no later than 9 a.m.

Assuming O'Connell groomed and ate breakfast, he was probably up by 8. Which gives him a maximum of 6½ hours of sleep, and quite likely less.

Can a guy adequately perform a physically and mentally demanding job on such a tight turnaround? Yes. But it isn't easy. It opens up the ref to second-guessing if he has a bad game. And -- key part -- this was only part of O'Connell's grind.

Fact is, the WVU-Nova game was O'Connell's fourth in four days, according to Statsheet.com. And, for good measure, he worked another the next day: St. Peter's at Canisius in Buffalo, N.Y. Then he did Manhattan-Iona on Monday in New Rochelle.

That was his 11th game in 13 days. Through Sunday, he has worked 52 games this season.

One of the big problems in college basketball is officials overscheduling themselves all winter, resulting in fatigued refs when the games are their most competitive, contentious and important. They're independent contractors, free to sign up for as many games as they can work -- and most of the good ones will work a ridiculous schedule in search of profit.

John Adams, the admirably candid NCAA supervisor of officials, said O'Connell is "a quality official, a guy I really like." But he didn't like the sound of O'Connell's Friday-Saturday work schedule.

"It feels to me that any more than four games a week, you're probably entering into the law of diminishing returns," Adams said. "And eight hours of sleep before going to work a game would seem to be prudent."

But if O'Connell's schedule sounds crazy, it's relatively sane compared to a recent run by Ted Valentine (31). He's nicknamed "TV Ted" because he's on the air more than Anderson Cooper -- and he likes to make his presence felt. Check out this run:

Works an 8 p.m. ET tipoff at Alabama, Jan. 29. Works a 2 p.m. ET tipoff at Kent State, Jan. 30. Works the next four nights in Jackson, Miss., High Point, N.C., Birmingham, Ala., and Charleston, S.C.

The Minutes has no idea how you even get from Tuscaloosa, Ala., to Kent, Ohio, in time for a 2 p.m. game. Or how TV Ted's work schedule is good for anything but his bank account.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Welcome to Bracketville---Rivalry Week Edition

I always learn a lot about the game being shown on TV, and college basketball in general when Bobby Knight is he color guy on ESPN. Knight covers the game much like Baltimore Oriole great Brooks Robinson did for O’s baseball…a keen insight into the big and little things happening on the playing field; and like Brooks, if the game becomes one sided or is sloppily played, Bobby takes a nap.

Maryland’s Jordan Williams has 20 double-doubles in 23 games.

Kenneth Faried of Morehead State has three games with at least a 20-20 line…by the way they have won 11 of their past 13 games.

With a 25-19 performance in Virginia Tech’s two point loss at BC, Jeff Allen is now averaging a double-double for the season (13.2/10.0).

Go figure---Florida’s Kenny Boyton shoots 83% from the foul line…just 30% from three-point range.

BYU’s Jimmer Fredette has taken at least ten free-throws in four of the past five games…Saturday he went 16 for 16…on the season, he at 89.6%.

If you answered Kemba Walker (UConn) (23.2 ppg) to the question, who leads the Big East in scoring, you’d be wrong. Providence’s Marshon Brooks at 24.1 is #1 including 43 versus Georgetown over the weekend.

Since the NIT eliminated its requirement that teams need a .500 record to qualify for the tournament five years ago; no sub-.500 has received an invitation.

A lot of fans are “with you win or tie.” Not those of the Indiana Hoosiers. The team has struggled for a while, but Assembly Hall is always full. They are loyal…not just waiting for the turn-around to get on the bandwagon.

Sidebar: Ohio State was not sold out for their big home game against Purdue.

The Sweet Sixteen games in the NCAA Tournament will be shared by TBS and CBS. Unfortunately the Regional Finals, Final Four and Championship Game will be on CBS (where Clark Kellogg will take the joy out of watching to the game). Kellogg would not be covering junior varsity basketball at ESPN.

During the first week they will produce a 90-minute pregame show daily on Tru-Tv…as well as a 60-minute postgame show. Save you sick days.

The Madison Magic at the Kohl Center will be severely tested this weekend when Ohio State visits Wisconsin. Wisconsin is 18-0 at home this season…149-11 at Kohl under Bo Ryan.

While nobody was paying attention, Alabama has won 10 of its last 11.

Georgetown’s Austin Freeman is shooting an incredible 47% from beyond the arc.

There are no seniors on the UCLA roster.

Arizona’s bench outscored Cal’s 52-3 in their triple-overtime game.

Villanova’s Mouphtaou Yarou is rapidly becoming my favorite big man.

This is the first season since 1978 that Texas has started 8-0 in conference play.


Saturday, February 05, 2011

Welcome to Bracketville---Four Days Until UNC at Duke Edition

Ohio State shoots 69.8% from the foul line ranking 146th nationally. They are ranked 331st in the country in percentage of minutes that come from their bench.

Wisconsin is averaging only 7.8 turnovers per game. That’s easily the fewest in the nation, with Northern Iowa next at 10.1. The last team to average fewer turnovers in a season was Temple in 2006 (7.7).

During January, Texas held six of their opponents to their season-lows in points-per-possession. Texas has zero games remaining against ranked teams.

Kansas has just one February game versus a ranked opponent…then two in March (Texas A&M and Missouri).

San Diego State ranks 322nd in free-throw rate and 242nd in free-throw percentage.

In mid-January, Georgia Tech beat Wake Forest 74-39. Had Tech gone scoreless in the second half, they would still have won by five.

It has been three years since Duke lost back-to-back games to unranked opponents.

In the Big Ten, only Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin have fewer than seven losses. Penn State and Michigan State have identical conference records (5-5).

As young as he looks, it is difficult to believe that Florida’s Billy Donovan is the longest tenured coach in the SEC.

Like many fans, I bought in big time to Florida’s potential as they returned all five starters from last season. Now it looks to my eye like they are all role players without a take-charge star. I think Chandler Parsons could be that player, but he seems to turn down a great many wide-open looks.

Raise your hand and go to the head of the class if you had the Northwestern over Illinois and Oregon over Washington quiniela on Saturday.

I think Jordan Hamilton of Texas has to be in the discussion for Player of the Year.

UConn’s Kemba Walker is 17 of 56 (30%) from the field, and 6 of 21 (29%) from 3-point range in his last three games.

With Larry Drew II leaving UNC, it appears sophomore Dexter Strickland will become the backup point guard---41 assists and 30 turnovers in an average of 25 minutes per game.

The eyeball test is often as good a way to evaluate a team as a boatload of stats. Watching the games, there are a handful of teams whose play on the court looks as smooth, proficient and efficient as their pregame layup drills. UConn and Stanford on the women’s side have that quality---sometime the Notre Dame girls display it as well. Kansas is the closest to that standard to my eye on the men’s side…Pitt is close behind, and Ohio State often exhibits that talent. Not having seen them, I have a feeling BYU might demonstrate that same fluid game action.