Friday, February 08, 2013

Welcome to Bracketville---All Upsets, All the Time Edition

Stop me if you’ve heard this before---the top-ranked team in the polls lost this week, as did a number of ranked teams. No team, no coach and no fan can assume anything this season.
Without a couple of overwhelming, all-world teams, we are getting many more compelling matchups on a daily basis. That’s a good thing.
It is wide open this season, and the NCAA Tournament should be more unpredictable than ever.
Pick your team, pick your favorite. On any given night, they’re bound to make a fool of you.
Already, we have seen Butler, NC State, Miami, Syracuse and Illinois defeat a #1 team. In fact, Indiana has lost as a #1 and beaten a #1. Twists and turns abound.
Eight games went to overtime on Thursday.
Much as I enjoyed it, I guess I agree that the BracketBusters concept is an idea whose time has past. This is the last round-up, and there a couple of praise worthy match ups.
Detroit at Wichita State, ESPN/2, 4 ET;

Creighton at Saint Mary's, ESPN/2, 6 ET;

Ohio at Belmont, ESPN2, 10 ET---all on Saturday 2/23/13.
That trio tickles my fancy.
In the past five years, here are the teams who've gone unbeaten in league competition. 2008: Cornell (Ivy)
2009: Memphis (Conference USA), Gonzaga (West Coast)
2010: Butler (Horizon)
2011: --
2012: Kentucky (SEC).
Going undefeated in conference play is not as easy as it looks.
Here are the winless teams for the same time span: 2008: Colorado State (Mountain West), Oregon State (Pac-10), Rice (Conference USA)
2009: Air Force (Mountain West), DePaul (Big East), Southeast Missouri State (Ohio Valley)
2010: Fordham (Atlantic 10)
2011: Towson (Colonial)
2012: Kennesaw State (Atlantic Sun), Navy (Patriot) Tennessee Martin (Ohio Valley), Santa Clara (West Coast), South Carolina State (MEAC).
Against the 18th-best defensive schedule, Ohio State has been held below 1 point-per-possession just four times this season.
Belmont’s loss at Murray State by five surprised me big time.
It’s a good thing that South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters scored 53 points (most in D-1 since 2009) as SDSU needed all of them to get by IPFW 80-74.
I never expected Duke to roll over NC State like they did. Duke was down to eight recruited players. Mason Plumlee was pretty intense, scoring 30 points without a foul in the first half.
The victory over NC State marked Coach K’s 29th 20-win season.
I guess I need to confess that I enjoy Bill Walton’s patter during the ESPN broadcasts of Pac-12 games. He does drift into outer space at timesbut when he returns to Planet Earth, he has interesting insights and tidbits.
Michigan gave us two highly exciting games in a 72-hour period. They showed no let down and deserve a lot of credit for incredible focus.
Michigan's 76 points was the most allowed by Ohio State this season.
Five points in OT---how often does that happen? No matterthose were five exciting minutes and five exciting points.
Who knew Trey Burke was a shot blocker?
OSU’s Deshaun Thomas had zero touches in the OT. That’s a criminal offense.
My opinion: both teams spent way too much time dribbling in overtime. More passing---less dribbling, please.
Another #1, another buzzer-beater, a new #1 next week.  Indiana was at the movies at the end of regulation, and never laid a glove on Tyler Griffey, as Illinois won by a deuce. Both teams hit nine threesso the Illinois-3-machine was not the reason for the upset. No matter, it was exciting to watch.
UVA gets rolling and what happens? They lose their quality big man Mike Tobey to mono. Virginia held Clemson to ten first half pointspretty amazing.
Bad loss: In losing to a TCU team that opened 0-8 (seven of the losses by double digits) in Big 12 play, Kansas had just 13 point in the first half. Great Caesar’s Ghost!
It was TCU’s first win---ever---against a Top-5 team---ever.
TCU has the 330th-ranked offensethere are 347 teams.
Just as bad, maybe worse: 20-4 Creighton’s 21-point mugging by 15-8 Indiana State. State did an unbelievable job holding Doug McDermott (24 ppg) to eight points. Yikes!
That gives Indiana State victories over Ole Miss, Miami, Wichita State and Creighton. Not bad.
SEC Bad Loss: Alabama lost to Auburn of all teams by a score of 49-37the fewest points Alabama has scored in their 146-game series with Auburn.
Not a good loss: UNLV lost by nine at 8-13 Fresno State. UNLV is underwhelming of latemainly due to Mike Moser’s elbow injury.
Good Win: The walking wounded of Michigan State put 43 points on the board in the second half, after scoring a mere 18 in the first half in their 11-point victory over Minnesota. The Gophers never recovered from a second-half 21-4 run by MSU.
Another good win: Providence has been playing close games all seasonfinally they won one54-50 versus Cincinnati.
Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin teams have never finished lower than 4th in the Big 10. Astonishing! The Badgers are, however, a 61% foul-shooting team---a post-season danger sign.
Oklahoma State freshman sensation, Marcus Smart, missed 17 shots in the win over Baylor. My-oh-my.
After the loss at Texas A&M, the over-rated Missouri team remains perfect on the road---they have lost them all.
#19 Oregon is now 1-3 without their point guard, Dominic Artisthis time they lost at home to Colorado by one point.
Air Force is an experienced team filled with upperclassmen — but New Mexico is the best team in the Mountain West.
Florida State’s Michael Snaer hit yet another game-winner as time ran out against Georgia Techthis time he went for the old fashioned two-point play. He is a competitor.
In their loss to Miami, BC had just eight turnovers and only one player had more than one. Miami at UNC Saturday is chance for the canes to make a big statement.
Unranked Arkansas dominated from the start en route to an 80-69 win over No. 2 Florida. The Gators had won their first eight SEC games by double digits.
The Razorbacks scored 43 points in the first half. Three teams failed to score 43 points in matchups against the Gators this season.
Florida takes 41.2 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, the 26th-highest rate of any team in the country.
Florida had a really bad night against a team that had a great one.
Will Yeguete’s knee injury, sidelining him for the four-to-six weeks, is going to hurt the Gators big time. It is the fifth major injury they’ve had to overcome this season.
Every team is beatablebut this one surprised me.
Northeastern leads the CAA with a 10-1 record.
New Mexico ranks fourth nationally in percentage of defensive possessions that reach the final four seconds of the shot clock, according to Synergy Sports Technology.
Nerlens Noel picked up a double double (10 points/10 rebounds) in Kentucky’s 22-point win over South Carolina. What does not receive  enough attention is that Noel sped up his high school graduation to enter UK this year. In realty, this kid is a high school senior. Makes all his accomplishments and maturation all the more incredible.
Louisville’s relentlessness is unmatched by just about any other team in college basketball.
The 11 turnovers coughed up by Baylor’s Pierre Jackson at Oklahoma State ties for most TOs by a player this season. Holy mackerel.
Longest winning streak: Akron’s 14.
Not so fast: Only once has the ACC produced the leading scorer in college basketball. That was back in 1957 when South Carolina’s Grady Wallace pulled it off with 31.2 ppg.
Currently, Virginia Tech’s Erick Green leads the nation with an average of 25.0 ppg through 21 gamesCreighton’s Doug McDermott is second with 23.9.
One more thing: Belmont coach Rick Byrd ranks seventh among active coaches in victories with 656.

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