Tag Archives: March Madness

Podcast of Champions. Madness previewed (Vegas reviewed)

A historic number of Pac-12 teams are dancing which is what Spencer and I discuss on a day that also saw Johnny Dawkins and Yann Hufnagel fired (which is unequivocally a distraction no matter what he says and especially if he says this).

By tuning in you’re exposing yourself to: a Vegas breakdown (it was a straight forward tournament but Spencer makes a hygiene admission) and team-by-team big dance thoughts.

Listen and also subscribe and review:

Podcast of Champions. Calm before the storm

Although I’m not entirely convinced things will be calm this weekend, we’re here, it is now, March. Sure that narrative gets blown up but even on Monday without any posts to this blog, pageviews spiked. The people demand college hoops this month and it’s my (un)expert opinion that we’re about to get it. Wildest tournament ever? I’m predicting chalk.

Alas, this is the one where Spencer and I run through a few of the scenarios playing out as it pertains to Conference championships and there’s even a shoutout to WSU.


PacHoops Power Rankings: Bring Your ID to the Airport

Because I left my ID in my running shorts I was forced to fly standby to Seattle. In order to arrive by the 6pm tipoff, I needed someone also headed to Seattle to pass in the last second on their seat. Turns out that happens a lot. I made the flight. Basketball-wise, have the Bruins really jumped into the Dance? Do the Cardinal not want to dance? Can Zack LaVine fly? Do you think Kevin O’Neill saw 50 Shades? March approaches and it’s going to be tough to find two-and-a-half hours to watch both parts 1 and 2 of the SNL 40 special.

12) Washington

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And the Ball Was Tipped

Do you remember scouring message boards and twitter for the results of your team’s secret scrimmage? First of all, ignore the ridiculous nature of a ‘secret scrimmage’ and your pursuit of a practice game’s results. That’s not relevant because the professional transgressions you’re about to commit in the next two weeks are arguably greater than that.

Back then, March was two clock changes and a season away. There was an non-conference schedule, a conference schedule and a conference tournament to play. But all that mattered then was what happened during a closed door practice. At that juncture we needed information. Something, anything to give us a glimpse as to what were were about to watch for four months. Could the new kid do this? The veteran do that?

And today? Today we find ourselves with more information than we know what to do with. I’ve calculated how Jordan Bachynski rebounds against the conference’s top-3 offensive rebounding teams; the percentage of possessions that Kyle Anderson converts into a score at the rim; and how well each Pac-12 team defends the rim. Further, we can poke around on any of a number of sites to gain gross insights into how our team might fair in a given match up and how they project to play in a football stadium.

Here’s an analysis:

March EnjoyedI appreciate all of that and acknowledge that none of it matters. Because shortly Luther Vandross will note that ‘the ball is tipped’ and, for right now, that’s all that matters. I’m not dismissing any of this information. I rather cherish it. But I further love the 102 games about to transpire. Ripe with possibility and opportunity, allow me to be the first to tell you that your team has a chance. They do. Now let me be the infinitesimal person to tell you they’ll lose

Because the ball will be tipped. And that’s where you are.

A ball floated into the sky with the opportunity to bounce either way, in any direction, in anyone’s favor. I can tell you who might win; but I can’t tell you who will win.

Enjoy your long lunch, streamed media, and accelerated heart rate. Spill a beer in unadulterated excitement for Cinderella’s heave. Curse your rival. Lament Gus Johnson’s absence.

But most of all: Let the games begin.

The PacHoops Challenge: In Pursuit of the One

We launch this bracket challenge with less-than-or-close-to just 24-hours until madness. There’s a reason for this. I want to know which one of you has the strongest gut. The one decisive enough to create the best possible bracket in short order. Decision making has never been a strong suit of mine. Consider this my Samuel L. Jackson pursuit of Bruce Willis in Unbreakable. Now make like Neo and pick:



Curious what you’ll win? That’s to be determined. I told you I’m not very decisive. You could win, but might also not:

  • An autographed T-shirt
  • A gift card
  • Free legal advice from my dad
  • Free medical advice from my brother
  • A housing consult from my mom
  • A full family tree drawn by a cousin of mine who is younger than 4
  • Eternal glory
  • Eternity
  • Jawbone gear from my buddy who works at Jawbone
  • Concert tickets
  • A high-five
  • A hug
  • A letter from me to your significant other or boss describing how great you are, the prospects of your upward movement, and that you deserve more vacation time (all scenarios apply to both sig-otro and jefe)
  • You will not win $1 billion

We’ll refer to you – for at least 51 weeks – as the preeminent bracketeer of the preeminent Pac-12 basketball blog. Or that guy who was X picks away from a billion dollars. Or worse, that guy with the perfect bracket not in the billion dollar challenge.

Use your gut and best of luck. THE PASSWORD IS: pachoops

Here’s everywhere that I went wrong in a bracket I finished in three minutes. I think I’ll name her Chalk Boring Butler.Adams Bracket

A Look at Tournament Seedings, RPI, and KenPom

I still haven’t filled out a bracket despite scouring over tons of data, predictions, and analysis. I know minutiae about style components, match ups, and expectations that I wouldn’t otherwise bother learning. But it’s March and understanding and evaluation are imperative until it’s all tossed out the window when I actually do fill out a bracket.

Such an understanding, however, had myself and Jason curious as to some of these evaluative properties. You hear RPI and BPI, Pomeroy and Sagarin, numbers that are used to rate every team in the tournament (or otherwise). Often the most controversial is the RPI which is also the one that the selection committee  seems to put the most weight in. Now selecting this field is no easy task. It’s rather thankless and if you’re looking to be congratulated for your work, then you need a different job. Subjective roles are rarely rewarded.

And yet as I looked through this bracket, trying to find rhyme or reason for possible outcomes, I kept coming back to the Colorado-Pittsburgh game. First, how the hell did Colorado stand a chance even as the higher seed? Second, how the hell was Pitt a nine seed? Jason had the same questions stemming from his thorough scouting report of the Panthers.

The easiest way to answer this was by revisiting that controversial number: RPI. Colorado’s RPI is 35. Pittsburgh’s RPI is 39. I suppose that quantifies our 8-9 matchup, but why did everything about their performance resume (KenPom) suggest this was such a lopsided game? Why did Vegas open this at -6.5 with a Panther favorite? Well, that’s because KenPom has these two rated as the 64th and 18th best teams in the land, respectively. Not so 8-9 anymore, is it?

This, of course, got us thinking and developing towards a holistic view of the tournament, its seeds, and how that marries up in a relationship of RPI and KenPom ratings. Here’s what that looks like:

Iowa 11 11 27 64 -37
Cal Poly 16 16 173 205 -32
Tennessee 11 11 13 42 -29
Oklahoma St. 9 9 22 44 -22
Pittsburgh 9 9 18 39 -21
Louisville 4 4 2 19 -17
American 15 15 96 112 -16
Albany 16 16 177 192 -15
Harvard 12 12 33 46 -13
Xavier 12 12 42 51 -9
Michigan St. 4 4 10 17 -7
Virginia 1 1 4 9 -5
Ohio St. 6 6 19 24 -5
Stanford 10 10 37 41 -4
Mount St. Mary’s 16 16 190 194 -4
Creighton 3 2 8 10 -2
Arizona 1 1 1 2 -1
Duke 3 3 7 8 -1
Syracuse 3 3 15 16 -1
VCU 5 4 12 13 -1
Kentucky 8 8 17 18 -1
Nebraska 11 11 48 49 -1
North Carolina 6 6 26 26 0
Gonzaga 8 8 20 20 0
Providence 11 11 40 40 0
Tulsa 13 13 68 68 0
Wichita St. 1 1 5 4 1
Villanova 2 2 6 5 1
UCLA 4 4 16 15 1
New Mexico St. 13 13 72 71 1
Florida 1 1 3 1 2
Arizona St. 10 10 47 45 2
Michigan 2 2 14 11 3
Cincinnati 5 5 24 21 3
Saint Louis 5 5 34 31 3
Baylor 6 6 31 28 3
Connecticut 7 7 25 22 3
Oregon 7 7 30 27 3
Texas 7 7 39 36 3
Oklahoma 5 5 29 25 4
Wisconsin 2 2 11 6 5
Kansas 2 2 9 3 6
Texas Southern 16 16 237 231 6
San Diego St. 4 4 21 14 7
Stephen F. Austin 12 12 59 52 7
Manhattan 13 13 67 60 7
Memphis 8 8 45 37 8
Dayton 11 11 53 43 10
North Carolina Central 14 14 78 68 10
North Carolina St. 12 12 66 55 11
Iowa St. 3 3 23 7 16
New Mexico 7 7 28 12 16
George Washington 9 9 46 29 17
Saint Joseph’s 10 10 49 32 17
Mercer 14 14 99 81 18
BYU 10 12 50 30 20
North Dakota St. 12 12 55 33 22
Kansas St. 9 9 44 20 24
Weber St. 16 16 169 144 25
Louisiana Lafayette 14 14 115 89 26
Massachusetts 6 6 52 23 29
Colorado 8 8 64 35 29
Wofford 15 15 184 155 29
Eastern Kentucky 15 15 129 99 30
Milwaukee 15 15 163 132 31
Delaware 13 13 105 67 38
Coastal Carolina 16 16 232 189 43
Western Michigan 14 14 113 69 44

What we find is that quite a few of these teams appear to be appropriately seeded but some of the young teen seeds are over- and underseeded. The lower seeds (Colorado, UMass) have smaller RPIs and bigger KenPoms and vice versa. By subtracting, we can recognize the difference in the ratings and subsequent evaluation.

What the chart suggests, when look at its oles, is that Iowa and Western Michigan are the most inappropriately seeded teams in the field. The Hawkeyes seemingly perform better than what their RPI and/or the committee is willing to give them credit for. Meanwhile, the WMU Broncos are perceived as better than their play suggests (tough for a 14 seed). Perhaps WMU isn’t our best example but what about #9 Kansas State? They’re RPI of 24 is consistent with that of

Now I don’t intend this as a critic of the selection committee’s job but rather as a means by which we can recognize where there might be some favorable match ups. We could bring the conversation back to our CU-Pitt game where we see an overvalued team (Colorado) taking on an undervalued team (Pitt). There are obviously a ton of factors that play into, A) making your picks, B) Why these teams were pitted against one another, and C) What’s actually going to happen. But in anticipation of the dance, and with $1 billion on the line, understanding some opportunities where the committee might have been short sighted can’t hurt.

Here are a handful of other games and teams to keep an eye on in the tournament’s opening rounds and beyond.

Games to watch/pick:

  • (#11 Iowa vs. #11 Tennessee) vs. #6 UMass – I’ve broken this into the Play-In game and subsequent second round game because they go hand in hand. The Play-In projects to be a pretty tight ball game between high majors. Both teams have a huge gap between their RPI and KP scores (-37 and -29, respectively). Thus, as both of these teams play better than their RPI represents – or at least are capable of such – it could very well spell trouble for #6 UMass in whomever they were to face. The Minutemen seem to be one of the more overvalued teams (+29).
  • #8 Colorado vs. #9 Pittsburgh – This was obviously central to this data compilation but it’s worth noting that it is the second round game featuring the second biggest discrepancy. The Buffs at +29 and the Panthers at -21 leaves us believing that Colorado, despite being the higher seed, really stands little chance.
  • #5 Cincinnati vs. #12 Harvard – In their opening round game, the Crimson are facing the appropriately seeded (+3) Mick Cronins despite what he’d have you know about conspiracies against him. We note Harvard, here, however, because they seem to be relatively underseeded (-13) in a favorable 12-5 matchup. Neither team will benefit from being in Spokane and Harvard managed to knock of #3 New Mexico just one season ago.
  • #12 Xavier vs. #12 NC State – This game is in the books and basically poopoos on everything we just discussed. Xavier was arguably one of the more underseeded teams (-9) while the WolfPack – by just about every imaginable standard – weren’t only over seeded but rather uninvited (+11). Naturally, in Tuesdays play-in game, the WolfPack beat Xavier, 74-59. Good luck, everyone.

Teams to keep an eye on:

  • #3 Iowa Sate – RPI suggests their gaudy three seed while their production suggests something more along the five-line. They could be ripe to be picked off.
  • #7 New Mexico – Their RPI would have them closer to the 3 or 4 line. Their KP score, however, would have them ranked – well – at right about a seven. Don’t but too much into the Lobo hype. #Pac12hoops
  • #4 Louisville – Your’e probably sick of hearing about this now but, by our model, all that’s been said about the Cardinals is pretty accurate. Even their RPI, however, begs that they be rated higher than the four seed they received. Their KenPom score has them rated second in the country. Good night, and good luck.

As we move forward in this tournament, let’s revisit this list to see just how the over and underseeded teams are doing.

Cal, Utah, Oregon State: In A Tournament

It wouldn’t be the preeminent Pac-12 basketball blog if we didn’t get a chance to examine every post season team’s fortunes. Here we get two NIT previews and a CBI preview that digresses into commentary on Andy Enfield.

The not in tournaments:

#2 California Golden Bears

Opening Remarks: I was inside a raucous Haas Pavilion as Justin Cobbs drifted into the left corner, towards the baseline and Kaleb Tarczewski rolled with him. Cobbs elevated, the seven-footer elevated, and the shot was purely released. Cobbs wound up a heap on the ground, the fans wound up a mess on the court, and the Bears wound up in the NIT. That’s not how the story was supposed to end but that’s how it did. The inconsistencies caught up with them and they closed the season losing eight of their final twelve. That’s not a dancing tune and this is a frustrating NIT bid. In 2012 I watched as Kyle Fogg – an Arizona senior I saw grow, develop, and grind into an first-teamer – accepted a bid into the NIT. He handled it by scoring just 5 points on 2-5 shooting inside the McKale Center. He lost, his final game as a Wildcat, to Bucknell. In Tucson. The point here is that Justin Cobbs and Richard Solomon have tasted sweet tournament success. They danced each of the past two years and are just a year removed from giving Syracuse all they could handle. And now they’ve drawn a home game against Utah Valley, KenPom’s 198th best team, on the same floor that they beat an undefeated and #1 ranked Arizona team. It’s a different stage.

First Opponent: So you’ve heard of Utah Valley

So yeah, that happened. They also don’t shoot the ball and are going to make an effort to score inside the arc with the 333rd slowest offense in the nation. This offense is actually pretty impressive considering they take such a deliberate amount of time and conjure the 13th best A/FG ratio in the country. This suggests that their patience pays off. But not that much. They’re still the 209th most efficient offense. Cal should roll and throw zero basketballs at anyone in doing such.

Stories: The NIT committee doesn’t have the same undisclosed and denied sense of drama that the NCAA committee has. I mean, what do you want me to tell you? There was some sort of sick conservatism joke being played on Cal within their quad? They play a school from Utah with a potential second round game against Arkansas or Indiana State? I don’t suspect that to be the case but I also don’t see the Bears staying very long in this tournament. That’s not an indictment on their talents, but rather a recognition that they’ve already the filet, they don’t want the chuck.


  • Win the National Invitational. They’re still good enough to make a run like that.
  • Out before first tip on Wednesday

#5 Utah Utes

Opening Remarks: Whereas an NIT invite was a let down for Cal, Utah has been on a different trajectory. No one has asked Utah to do anything except join the Pac-12 since 2009. Pardon, they went to the Sun Bowl, but I think we’re walking in stride here. It hasn’t been the sexiest three seasons in the Conference of Champs for the Utes. So garnering this invite was a big deal no matter how illegal what Arizona did to them is in Utah. Now, did I think they’d be a higher seed? Yes. Did I think they’d get to host a game? Yes. Neither is happening for the Utes. But sometimes, when you haven’t really demonstrated a track record of success (in recent history! I know all about Utah as the 11th winningest program) you don’t get treated preferentially. So, they’ll travel to win this thing.

First Opponent: Utah will return to the Bay Area to face the St. Mary’s Gaels. The first thing I want to note is that the last time they traveled to the Bay (2 weeks ago) they beat Cal for their second road win (big accomplishment) and gave everything they had for 39 minutes and 30 seconds to Stanford. Mal-execution cost them the Bay sweep but the overarching sentiment here is that the Utes set a precedence for A) Winning on the road which they had not done all season, and B) Winning in the Bay area. Moraga, CA is just 13 miles from Berkeley. This is familiar territory for the Utes particularly considering they’re basically playing a slightly better version of Washington State: slow as a turtle, threes like preschool. Of course WSU beat Utah which is seemingly inexcusable and perhaps an aberration. That weekend sweep in Washington were the Utah’s only losses to non-tournament teams. Enough revisionism. You knew I wasn’t going to get through a Utah bit without mentioning shots at the rim, right? St. Mary’s allows the 214th highest percentage of shots at the rim (38.8%). Hello, Delon.

Stories: The tale here is that Utah is in the post-season. Here is a program trajectory graph I created used highly advance statistical models to understand what Larry Krystkowiak is trying to do:

UtahBasketballOh, that’s just wins you say? Well I’ve long said it’s my favorite statistic and it doesn’t lie very often. Utah is headed in the right direction, a post-season invite is proof of it. A five seed in the NIT is proof they hadn’t been in the right direction. But that’s what March is for. Prove somebody wrong.


  • Second Round – Look, they’ve had problems traveling. So going from the Bay, back to SLC, to Minnesota doesn’t exactly sound like an auspicious position to be beating the tournament’s #1 seed.
  • First Round – Lose to what’s a pretty decent little SMC team.

#1 Oregon State

Opening Remarks: The Beavers are going to pay $35k to host their first round game. Is this basically the plot premise of Her? This is their fourth time in the CBI. They won it in 2009 and lost in the semifinals to Washington State in 2011. All of these stats I had to look up because I really don’t know anything about the CBI and it will probably remain that way. I’ll peripherally keep an eye on the Beavs but this could be the extent of it. My eyes are on North Texas.

First Opponent: This tournament puts a new spin on the phrase “cost of winning” as advancing means OSU will pay $50k to host the quarters; $75k to host the semis. Whatever the case, the Beavers have drawn Radford who has the 329th best defense in the nation. Oregon State has the 49th best offense. Plus, it’s Radford and what I really want to do is mix in a Tim Floyd wakes up in El Paso reference because UTEP is in the CBI and USC isn’t. But Andy Enfield is still waking up in Los Angeles and so is Isaac Hamilton (albeit UCLA not USC).


  • Tournament champions. They’re one of just two high major teams, they’ve won it before, and they’re a senior laden squad. Probably should win it.
  • Participation?

Half the Pac Dances: Previewing It All

Let’s just get this part out of the way: here is a printable bracket. Now how about it? We’re here, March, with half the conference of champions dancing. That’s the most since 2009 (when it was the Pac-10) but let’s not harp on circumstance.


#1 Arizona Wildcats

Opening Remarks: For one reason. That’s what I said this season was about in November and that’s what it’s about today. It’s been no secret that this would be Sean Miller’s best team and it has not disappointed. Of course this is the point in the year when it becomes lasting disappointment – the kind that scars and hurts like the pretty girl’s “I have a boyfriend.” But there’s that instance that she says “yes” and so we love this tournament.  After losing to UCLA in the Pac championship game (his third such loss in five years), Miller had this to say:

If we won this championship, it’s about next week. If we lost this championship, it’s about next week.

Next week is now and the selection committee seems to have given Arizona a pretty favorable draw.

First Opponent: First up are the Weber State Wildcats who will try to become the first ever 16-seed to beat a one. SPOILER: They won’t but so much Wildcats. Weber State is a pretty classic profile of the David mold: good at threes (14th best 3FG% in the nation), slow (272d adjusted tempo), and offensively carried by one dude (Davion Berry has near top-50 usage). I probably don’t need to explain why Arizona will win but if you really need one, it’s because Weber State’s best defensive attribute (of which they have few) is that they limit threes. To which the Arizona varietal of Wildcats will kindly oblige, not shoot, and likely dunk. Yes, the Ogden based Wildcats stand little chance but I wish them luck as my boss hails from Ogden. Oh, and I’m far from buying this Oklahoma State hype.

Stories: It remains one of my all-time favorite times as a fan. We were buried deep in the guest bedroom of my parents house. Eight of us surrounding a shitty television by even the standards of a household that didn’t have cable until just a year prior. But it was the television we needed. And with every Wildcat success, a new superstition was born. There was face paint, squatting positions, gestures, noises, assigned seats, reassigned seats, and yelps until we willed Blake Stepp’s gimme out of the hoop and into Luke Walton’s arms. Rick Anderson would later call it the greatest game he had ever played in. Arizona had beaten Gonzaga in thrilling double-overtime fashion. The stage is set, let’s run it back.


  • National champions. It’s that or bust.
  • Third round. I’ve been dogging Oklahoma State but any team with a first round point guard in this tournament stands a chance.

#4 UCLA Bruins

Opening Remarks: Well now that the Bruins are a four-seed, me lauding them as a top-15 talented team doesn’t really mean much. The committee’s megaphone is greater than mine and means a lot more. Good work, guys. Further, the Bruins have the deadliest back court in the country. But y’all know this (aside from the Cougars AMIRIGHT?!?). But did you realize that UCLA has never lost a tournament game (of any non-preseason variety) when both that horrifying backcourt has been intact. Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams are undefeated when playing together in tournament games (5-0). This is the champion of the championship we needed and deserved; a nomination that drew some debate on the twitter. The primary argument being big dance success is where the real ‘respect’ is earned. I can’t disagree with that.

First Opponent: I don’t think these Tulsa Golden Hurricanes are version of Danny and the Miracles. Led by Kansas great, Danny Manning, the Golden Hurricanes (GH moving forward ’cause that’s a lot of letters) are a pretty tough defensive squad. They’re top 30 in defensive efficiency and while you might see this as a strength, I don’t. Arizona, the best defense in the world, couldn’t stop these Bruins. The Wildcats were about to have to shoot their way to victory and nearly did (with a wildly improved defensive effort in the second half). Tulsa touts just an average offense which should allow an opportunistic UCLA defense to get enough stops to outscore the GH. Plus, who the hell guards Kyle Anderson? No seriously, I pose this question to the entire nation.

Stories: Unlikely but worth noting, New Mexico is in this region. An Alford-UNM matchup wouldn’t occur until the elite-eight but wouldn’t that have some heat. I mean, just imagine the Bruins Nation reaction to that loss. And speaking of potential melt downs on a certain web site, run through this scenario: a second round matchup of UCLA and VCU. Shaka Smart was on fans’ shortlist of UCLA head coaching candidates. Could a UCLA win here finally get people on the Alford train? It’d be second sweet-sixteen and most certainly his first when he was expected to get there. Of course, the converse…? And if we’re going to harp potential match ups, let’s look at the most likely. How sweet would a UCLA-Florida sweet-sixteen game be? Two of those three great Howland Final Four teams were dismissed by Billy D’s dominant Florida squads. They’d go on to win back-to-back titles. UCLA would fire Howland. This iteration of the rivalry would be awesome, featuring a top offense (UCLA) versus a top defense (Florida) and I imagine it’d play out a lot like the Pac-12 title game which was just fantastic. Hooray sports!


  • Final Four. They have the guard play and talent to pull it off.
  • Third round. VCU poses a unique threat and Steve Alford has only been out of the first weekend once.

#7 Oregon Ducks

Opening Remarks: I saw the quote via twitter and can’t find the link to it so I’ll paraphrase Johnathan Loyd’s quote:

We’re very thankful to be in this position, a month ago this wasn’t a possibility.

That’s the absolute truth. And as I watched him and his squad streak into the Dance, I can’t help but think they could make some noise. The swag they re-generated in winning all those games didn’t disappear in one fell swoop from the Bruins. It’s still there, this team can shoot with anyone in the nation, and on a given night can outscore just about anyone. If Oklahoma State can garner as much Cinderalla attention as they’ve received, why not Oregon?

First Opponenet: If NC State was unanimously the most shocking invite, BYU has got to be the second most startling. They were in just 89 of the 100 brackets aggregated at BracketMatrix which was the second fewest to the Wolf Pack who were in just two of the 100 brackets (the aggregated total may have changed since publish). Alas, this doesn’t change the fact that Oregon will indeed be playing the Cougars so let’s make a Vegas line out of it: Over/under 20,000 points in this one? These two have already played one game this season and combined for 196 points. Hell, they combined to score 28 points in the five minute overtime. BYU’s offense is faster than a message board thread turning weird, quicker than a live-look in at a 16-seed’s second half lead. The Cougars gets shots up like spring break. They score the third most points per game in the country. Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino (the Cougar backcourt) do a great job of getting up and down the floor, leading the third highest percentage of transition offense in the nation. Oregon, meanwhile, takes the 25th highest amount of shots in transition, score the 11th most points per game, and 12th most efficient offense going. Want to see some kids run around a basketball court? Tune into this.

Stories: I think the Ducks outscore BYU and have a shooter’s chance to knock off Wisconsin. The Badgers are touting what everyone keeps calling the “best Bo Ryan offense ever.” Isn’t that any oxymoron? My point is that Oregon has a shot (pun) at their second straight sweet sixteen which could potentially have them facing the Creighton Blue Jays, Dana Altman’s old school. An establishment he never took to the Sweet-16. So this would play out like one of those awkward times when you run into your ex-girlfriend while you’re on a date at the ballet but the ex was always pissed you would never take her to the ballet. Hey, new girl gets new things. Rest assured, break ups happen for a reason.


  • Elite eight. They can out offense just about anyone but they’re not beating Arizona again.
  • Second round. Live by the three; die by it.

#8 Colorado Buffaloes

Opening Remarks: My gut was that I kind of liked what I saw for the Buffs. They were playing Pittsburgh who I’ve long sensed has a propensity to not score and who ultimately hadn’t really played anyone all season. But we can discuss that next. Now let’s just note and appreciate that Colorado has made three consecutive NCAA tournaments. Arizona and UCLA haven’t done that. This isn’t the team the Buffs thought they’d be this time of year but the fact of the matter is the Buffs are doing plenty of believing. I sincerely think they made this tournament because they believed they were supposed to and so they did. That reads pretty simplistic but this invitation is a very strong indication of Colorado’s culture shift.

First Opponent: So as I noted, my gut thought this was a good matchup. My research doesn’t really support that. First of all, it’s in Orlando. That’s clear across the country for Tad’s crew which is hurdle number one. Secondly, Pittsburgh is efficient on both sides of the ball, a pretty well rounded team. The Buffs, meanwhile, haven’t broken the 1.00 point per possession barrier in more than month (2/16 at USC, the conference’s worst defense). But the Buffs can defend and the Panthers take their sweet offensive time (271st in average  possession length). If Colorado stands a chance, it’d be in forcing those long possessions into some uncomfortable looks, create some bad shots, board like Buffaloes, and get run out on those D-boards.

Stories: I haven’t really found anything too interesting about where Colorado stands today. They’re a little bit over-seeded all things considered but they’ve also been shipped across the country to play in a quadrant built as Gator bait. But maybe getting an eight is a hat tip to the direction of the program? That’s something to smile about and hope for the best. In the meantime, Daytona Beach is supposedly a great Spring Break spot.


  • Third round. They can squeak past Pitt particularly if Pitt allows the game to be close. But Florida in Orlando?
  • Second round. They could also not squeak past Pitt.

#10 Stanford Cardinal

Opening Remarks: They made it! It only took six years for Johnny Dawkins to do what Dana Altman did in year three, Sean Miller and Tad Boyle did in year two, and Steve Alford did in year one.   Hell, Herb Sendek did it in year three. Quite the leash but NIT titles evidently buy you time in Palo Alto. The invitation came through, no matter how you want to criticize, and sometimes that’s all that matters.

First Opponent: They draw the New Mexico Lobos. One thing I did hear Doug Gottlieb quickly note on the Selection Show was that UNM struggles with the stretch four. I have no idea how to quantify this other than to note that UNM was 2-1 against SDSU who seems to have an entire roster of stretch fours. Well so too does Stanford, as Gottlieb’s proclamation would seem to be a great scenario for Huestis and Powell. But I think the main reason Gottlieb was suggesting this was because the Lobos do a generally good job of keeping teams away from the rim. Teams 32% of their offense from beyond the arc against UNM – the 19th highest percentage in the country. Good news for Stanford! Despite all of their size, they love going nowhere near the rim, content taking the 294th lowest percentage of rim shots. It’s from mid-range and out where Stanford can cause damage (I see you Anthony Brown) and New Mexico might let them.

Stories: Honestly, what more do you want beyond the fact that this team is in the tournament? More? OK. Well I’m kind of intrigued by the idea that this New Mexico team used to be Steve Alford’s. What if they make it further than UCLA? What if every team with a loose affiliation with UCLA (Iowa, UNM, VCU, Boston Celtics) makes it further? I’ve wildly digressed but I’ve struggled to dramatize this Stanford team all season. They do such a good job of it themselves. So maybe if I say enough bad things about Stanford, like how they’re not the best corner-back in the game, maybe Richard Sherman will come get them all pissed off for greatness?


  • Third round. They have the size and pieces to get past New Mexico but not Kansas (of course it is Kansas in March).
  • Second round. Many think that UNM is under-seeded which doesn’t bode well for the Cardinal.

#10 Arizona State Sun Devils

Opening Remarks: James Harden isn’t about to walk through that door, but even he couldn’t get the Sun Devils out of the first weekend. Nope, ASU’s season is perennially over by mid-March. They were the last Pac-12 announced, the selection committee with a cruel jest certainly not saving the best for last. They did, however, manage to escape a play-in game which I think is a good thing. And while Harden isn’t walking through that door, Jahii Carson most certainly is. He’s their must watch TV and March is must watch television. In skimming this amusing tourney guide, I was intrigued to find out that Jahii averages 20.8 points in 30 career neutral court games. That’s neat.

First Opponent: Rather than break down my thoughts on Rick Barnes and that beacon of mediocrity, let’s highlight Isaiah Taylor. I’ve only seen a handful of Texas minutes played this season but he was about as exciting a guard as I saw play all season. He did as he pleased in games against Kansas (23 points) and Iowa State (26 points). His FTrate is a threatening 58% which ASU doesn’t do a particularly good job of limiting. But what’s most interesting about this shifty little guy, is that he takes just 5.4% of his shots from deep. This means, Taylor is breaking down defenders and getting to the rim. And who’s he going to meet at the rim? Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Jordan Block-chynski. In general, there isn’t too much that jumps off the page about either of these teams offensively. I kind of like the idea of it becoming a battle of best players and ASU actually has the best player in this one. They also have Jonathan Gilling.

Stories: Steve Patterson isn’t the most well liked guy but neither are Texas or Arizona State. Patterson, naturally, just left ASU after less than two years in Tempe to be the AD in Austin. In trying to learn more about this, I came to find out that ASU president, Michael Crow, was upset about Patterson’s departure. And then I got to the line in the article where they noted that Crow was paying him about $450k and Texas was offering $1.4M. Are you kidding me Michael? I’d cheer Rick Barnes results for $1.4M a year, too.


  • Third round. It’s Rick Barnes in March and ASU has one of the best players going. But ASU-Michigan is not a match up I like if we’re looking for ways the Sun Devils advance.
  • Second round. Texas ain’t bad.

College Basketball Season Starts Today

The ball is tipped and here we are.

Such are the words Luther Vandross will serenade on CBS in five short months. But before that, before there’s a basketball game inside a football stadium and Jim Nantz puns and the TBS guys speak college and Martha from accounting kicking the shit out of your bracket and nnnnnnnnapa know how and three hour lunches at Hooters on a Thursday and glass slippers and schools you’ve never heard of and schools you have heard of and Kansas losing early and March, there are games.

There are games and they start today from Tucson to Pyeongtaek and they’ll continue right on up to the aforementioned. Are you excited yet? I most certainly am. This should be the best Pac-12 we’ve seen since 2009 when six of ten were invited. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – though I think we see seven tiny dancers this season – as there remains all those damn games to be played.

And let’s watch them.

We can watch them together or apart. We can converse via twitter or not at all. Follow some of these people and tell them they’re right, wrong, or otherwise. Just don’t be a dick.

It’s sports.

It is November.

It’s college basketball.

The season begins now.


The NCAA Tournament

The NCAA Tournament. The Big Dance. March Madness.

It’s three weeks of hyperbole and insight and excitement and for 11-months out of the year we forget that it’s the most glorious goddamn pirate whore of a bitch with the heart ripping tenacity of a deft surgeon using a rusted saw to open your chest cavity only to let it beat with a few additional thumps of hope before giving you permission to die.

Here, this is the tournament we love: