Robby D’s BRACKETOLOGY – February 27, 2012

Two weeks away from Selection Sunday, and bubbles are starting to pop! With conference tournament play starting up this week, more bubbles will pop as at-large births are eaten up by other conferences with at-large teams already solidified.

What happens if Memphis or Southern Miss don’t win Conference USA? Will Wichita State or Creighton take care of business in the Valley? Many more of these questions will continue to circulate as Selection Sunday draws near.

But that’s why we’re here…to see where we WOULD be if everything went according to plan.

Here is the projected FIELD OF 68 as of February 27th!

MIDWEST REGION (St. Louis, MO)

Louisville, KY
#1 KENTUCKY
#16 MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE

#8 San Diego State
#9 Purdue

Nashville, TN,
#5 MURRAY STATE
#12 Southern Miss

#4 WICHITA STATE
#13 Mississippi State vs. St. Joseph’s

Louisville, KY
#6 Creighton
#11 UConn

#3 Ohio State
#14 BELMONT

Columbus, OH
#7 Iowa State
#10 BYU

#2 Marquette
#15 AKRON

WEST REGION (Phoenix, AZ)

Columbus, OH
#1 MICHIGAN STATE
#16 LIU-BROOKLYN vs. TEXAS-ARLINGTON

#8 CALIFORNIA
#9 ST. MARY’s

Portland, OR
#5 Louisville
#12 LONG BEACH STATE

#4 Florida
#13 NEVADA

Pittsburgh, PA
#6 Temple
#11 Miami (FL)

#3 Georgetown
#14 VALPARAISO

Omaha, NE
#7 GONZAGA
#10 Cincinnati

#2 KANSAS
#15 BUCKNELL

EAST REGION (Boston, MA)

Pittsburgh, PA
#1 SYRACUSE
#16 SAVANNAH STATE

#8 Virginia
#9 Kansas State

Portland, OR
#5 Notre Dame
#12 Seton Hall

#4 Michigan
#13 IONA

Albuquerque, NM
#6 UNLV
#11 Alabama

#3 Baylor
#14 ORAL ROBERTS

Greensboro, NC
#7 MEMPHIS
#10 HARVARD

#2 North Carolina
#15 WEBER STATE

SOUTH REGION (Atlanta, GA)

Greensboro, NC
#1 DUKE
#16 VERMONT vs. UNC-ASHEVILLE

#8 New Mexico
#9 Washington

Albuquerque, NM
#5 Indiana
#12 West Virginia vs. Texas

#4 Florida State
#13 DREXEL

Nashville, TN
#6 Vanderbilt
#11 VCU

#3 Wisconsin
#14 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

Omaha, NE
#7 SAINT LOUIS
#10 Arizona

#2 Missouri
#15 DAVIDSON

LAST FOUR IN:
West Virginia
Mississippi State
St. Joseph’s
Texas

FIRST FOUR OUT:
Xavier
South Florida
Northwestern
Colorado State

NEXT FOUR OUT:
Oregon
UCF
NC State
Colorado

BID BREAKDOWN BY CONFERENCE:
Big East: 9
Big Ten: 6
Big 12: 6
SEC: 5
ACC: 5
Atlantic 10: 3
Mountain West: 3
Pac-12: 3
West Coast: 3
Conference USA: 2
Missouri Valley: 2
Colonial: 2

5 Teams on the Rise:
VCU
Marquette
Wisconsin
South Florida*
Washington

5 Teams on the Decline:
Minnesota
Mississippi State
Ohio State
West Virginia
NC State

And that’s it! We are less than TWO WEEKS AWAY FROM SELECTION SUNDAY! Until then, enjoy the college hoops!!

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Robby D’s BRACKETOLOGY – February 20, 2012

Many apologies to all of you Bracket Enthusiasts, but I have been incredibly busy the past month or so with the job and all. But Bracketology is BACK! And wow, have I missed out on a lot the past month!

What a phenomenal weekend for Bracketbusters as well. The Long Beach State-Creighton game was sensational, Murray State-St. Mary’s was electric, and you’ll get to read what I think about Wichita State later on.

For those who haven’t been here, here’s a summary of what you missed from the previous post…For those who didn’t know, yours truly has been a resident bracketologist for over 3 years. I even predicted every team in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, which is not easy to do with the ever-crowded bubble list of teams.

We will analyze and gaze into the college basketball crystal ball to predict and foresee the future of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

With all of that being said, let’s get to breaking down the early BRACKETS!

EAST REGION (Boston, MA)

Pittsburgh, PA
#1 SYRACUSE
#16 VERMONT

#8 Virginia
#9 Kansas State

Nashville, TN
#5 TEMPLE
#12 Seton Hall

#4 Florida State
#13 IONA

Columbus, OH
#6 Saint Louis
#11 West Virginia

#3 Georgetown
#14 Belmont

Pittsburgh, PA
#7 NEW MEXICO
#10 SOUTHERN MISS

#2 Ohio State
#15 DAVIDSON

WEST REGION (Phoenix, AZ)

Omaha, NE
#1 Kansas
#16 TEXAS ARLINGTON vs. MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE

#8 St. Mary’s
#9 Memphis

Albuquerque, NM
#5 UNLV
#12 Arizona

#4 Notre Dame
#13 LONG BEACH STATE

Albuquerque, NM
#6 Vanderbilt
#11 Washington

#3 Baylor
#14 NEVADA

Columbus, OH
#7 GONZAGA
#10 Cincinnati

#2 MICHIGAN STATE
#15 ORAL ROBERTS

MIDWEST REGION (St. Louis, MO)

Louisville, KY
#1 KENTUCKY
#16 UNC-ASHEVILLE

#8 San Diego State
#9 Iowa State

Portland, OR
#5 Louisville
#12 Alabama

#4 Wisconsin
#13 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

Louisville, KY
#6 MURRAY STATE
#11 Purdue

#3 Florida
#14 VALPARAISO

Greensboro, NC
#7 Creighton
#10 Xavier

#2 DUKE
#15 AKRON

SOUTH REGION (Atlanta, GA)

Omaha, NE
#1 MISSOURI
#16 SAVANNAH STATE vs. LIU-BROOKLYN

#8 BYU
#9 HARVARD

Portland, OR
#5 WICHITA STATE
#12 Northwestern vs. UConn

#4 Michigan
#13 St. Joseph’s vs. South Florida

Nashville, TN
#6 Indiana
#11 Mississippi State

#3 Marquette
#14 WEBER STATE

Greensboro, NC
#7 CALIFORNIA
#10 DREXEL

#2 North Carolina
#15 BUCKNELL

LAST FOUR IN:
St. Joseph’s
UConn
South Florida
Northwestern

FIRST FOUR OUT:
Miami (FL)
Texas
Oregon
Illinois

NEXT FOUR OUT:
NC State
Dayton
Colorado State
VCU

BID BREAKDOWN BY CONFERENCE:
Big East: 10
Big Ten: 7
SEC: 5
Big 12: 5
ACC: 4
Atlantic 10: 4
Mountain West: 3
Pac-12: 3
West Coast: 3
Conference USA: 2
Missouri Valley: 2

5 Teams on the Rise:

*MICHIGAN STATE: When you think about it, this Spartans team really isn’t all that different than last year’s team (remove Kalin Lucas) that got bounced by UCLA in the first round. What you see this year with this team is the effort and tenacity on the glass that Tom Izzo teams are known for. Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne, and Big Ten POTY candidate Draymond Green are pounding the boards and getting baskets inside. Freshman Branden Dawson has been big for Sparty. Last year, I had an inkling after seeing them demolish Purdue in the B10 Tourney that they were finally rounding into form. You don’t have to worry about that with this year’s team, Sparty’s for real and are a legit Final Four contender.

*WICHITA STATE: There may not be a hotter team in college basketball right now than the Shockers. I’ve seen them twice in the past week and I’m convinced this team are world beaters. They throttled Creighton on their home court last week and then did the same thing to a Davidson team that had only lost once at home all year. Ever since their triple-OT loss to Drake, this team has been a different animal. Remember this name: Shocker PG Joe Ragland. He is their heart and soul, and is only the second leading scorer on the team. Watch out for the Shockers folks, they’re for real.

*SAINT LOUIS: Another team to be weary of come March are the fighting Rick Majerus’s. One of the best defensive teams in the country, and could be a bracket buster team if you’re looking for a possible sweet 16 sleeper. The stats won’t wow you about this team. They aren’t off the charts when it comes to rebounding, they don’t put up a ton of points. But one thing you’ll need to know RIGHT off the bat with the Billikens is their defense like I mentioned earlier. They have yet to allow a team to score more than 80 POINTS.You read that correctly. In their victories this season, they’ve yet to allow a team to score more than 70 on them. A grind it out, stopper of a team is one of those kinds of teams that could be dangerous if they play to their tempo in the Tournament. 

*NOTRE DAME: Most of you know my affiliation is to my alma mater of Purdue. Most of you should know that one of Purdue’s biggest rivals is Notre Dame. Most of you should also know that I hate the Irish with a passion. That being said, I’ve got to give Mike Brey credit with this team. I don’t know how they’re doing it (literally, I don’t) but the Irish have now rattled off 8 wins in a row in the Big East and they’re doing it all WITHOUT Tim Abromaitis. Their most recent victory may not have come against the best team in the conference, but it may have been their most impressive. Trailing by 20 points at multiple times in their battle at Villanova, Notre Dame stuck in it, came back, and beat the Wildcats. Winning 8 games in a row is no easy task, but doing it in one of the toughest conferences in America will get you noticed quickly. One thing to remember about this team is they seem to crumble quickly come Tourney Time. Keep an eye on them, cause that burn offense seems to fail them in March Madness. But for now, they are en fuego.

*NEW MEXICO: I didn’t think the Lobos had it in them coming into a week where they had to go to San Diego State, then come home to face UNLV. Wow, was I wrong. Steve Alford’s team is playing some of the best basketball in the nation and they’ve got the wins to back it up. Now you may see that they’ve defeated the top 3 teams in the Mountain West in the past 2-3 weeks…Colorado State, San Diego State, and UNLV. But they haven’t just beaten the best of their conference, they’ve dismantled them. Colorado State by 33, San Diego State by 10, UNLV by 20. What on earth? To add to that, Drew Gordon was absolutely sensational against UNLV on Saturday. No one knows about him, but you’ll learn of him quickly. 26 points and 20 rebounds is no stat line to laugh about, throw in two other Lobos that average over 11 a game…and New Mexico just may be putting together a team to remember.

5 Teams on the Decline:

*ILLINOIS: Easy to throw the Illini at the top of this list. Talk about a dumpster fire…Illinois was a 7-seed on my Bracketology just one month ago. Now, they are completely out of my field 0f 68. Sure, their numbers are nice: 23rd SOS, RPI of 63, 4 wins against the RPI Top 50…but that’s a load of BS when you lose 8 of your last 9 including an absolutely INEXCUSABLE 23 point loss at Nebraska on Saturday. You know, the Nebraska team that’s 12-13 this year. Yeah, that one. The Fighting Illini lost by 23 to the Huskers. My word. Sure, they’ve got a win against Michigan State sandwiched in their 8 of 9 losing party, but that win means jack squat when you can’t follow it up with more victories. We’ll see what this team is made of VERY quickly, but right now the Fighting…let me rephrase that, the Siss-Girl Illini are in free-fall and don’t appear to be picking themselves back up anytime soon.

*UCONN: Another team much like the Illini that has loads of talent yet seems to be falling apart at the seams right now. There’s no team chemistry what so ever with this squad, and without the services of head coach Jim Calhoun at the helm, the Huskies are falling quickly. The only thing that’s keeping this team afloat are their extremely powerful numbers. RPI of 25, the #1 SOS, 5 RPI Top 50 wins are keeping them in the field. Jeremy Lamb looks like a lost little girl, Andre Drummond is playing like a freshman, is Roscoe Smith still on this team? What’s shocking is this team is relatively the same squad minus Kemba Walker that won a National Championship last year. What’s funny though is the Huskies were in a familiar position last year…will they turn around at the right time? We shall see.

*MISSISSIPPI STATE: Can things get any worse for the Mississippi State Bulldogs? Actually it can. After 3 straight losses to teams outside the RPI Top 60 including two that aren’t even in the Top 100, what’s the perfect way to get back on the winning track? Play Kentucky at home. Yeahhh, that should help. Tuesday night the Hump will be rocking, but will the Bulldogs bring their A-game finally? We’ve seen them at their best coming back and winning at Vanderbilt or nearly defeating Baylor on a neutral court, but right now the Dawgs are seeing their at-large birth slowly fade away. A win over UK will DEFINITELY punch their ticket to the Tourney, but I wouldn’t count on it. A win at Alabama this Saturday would be huge down the road.

*NC STATE: Mark Gottfried’s team appeared to be finally getting things together after 3 wins over the worst of the ACC. But that road loss at Duke where the Wolfpack were leading by a hefty margin may have derailed NC State’s at-large chances and their confidence. They got blown off their home court by Florida State which may begin their tailspin. Their power numbers aren’t bad, but they are without a top 25 victory and their best win they can rest on is on a neutral court against Texas. If they can beat UNC at home on Tuesday, all this negative talk gets flipped and the Wolfpack may be back in the field of 68.

*BAYLOR: It was hard to pick this last one, but the Baylor Bears aren’t a 1-seed worthy team anymore. Yeah, they’ve played some of the best in the conference in KU and Mizzou, but the loss at home to Kansas State sorta showed to me this team is beginning to fall fast. They’ve now lost to both KU & Mizzou twice this year, which shows me they aren’t ready to compete with a 1 or 2-seed in the Tourney and their loss to K-State displayed their lethargic level of energy and their loss of confidence. Scott Drew is getting nothing from his 5-star freshmen Perry Jones and Quincy Miller, and teams are starting to realize you stop those two and Pierre Jackson, you’ve got a great shot at beating the Bears. We’ll see where this team goes from here, but I’m not nearly as high on the Bears as I was a month ago.

And that’s it! We are less than THREE WEEKS AWAY FROM SELECTION SUNDAY! Until then, enjoy the college hoops!!

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Hoosiers Can’t Handle Mackey Magic

People often ask me, “Hey Jack, why do you hate IU basketball so much?” As I learned from the great Ron Burgundy, the only proper way to answer an important question is through the majesty of song. I simply direct people to this gem here. If you don’t have time to watch or maybe just can’t bring yourself to sit through the most embarrassing/painful three minutes and forty-nine seconds in youtube history, I’ve summarized the essence of the song below in what I’ve dubbed “The Indiana University Basketball Program Creed.”

The Indiana University Basketball Program Creed:

“Unlike you other schools, we got history
Kinda like your girl does when she visits uh, me
Oh my I can’t see because the trophy case be shining
And my optometrist told me not to look
Cause I could go blind……

furthermore,

One banner, two banner, three banner, four
Five banner, sixth banner knockin’ on your door
Cause’ Indiana basketball is hustling on the floor
And running up the score.”

Without knowing anything about IU or maybe even basketball in general, wouldn’t any rational human be turned off, maybe even disgusted by the school that abides by this obnoxious doctrine? The answer is of course yes.

Blinded by trophy cases, banners on banners, running up the score….. yup, that pretty much sums up the overall Hoosier fan attitude (although they forgot to mention recruiting scandals). Extreme arrogance (especially when it’s unjustified) and general douchebagery tend to rub most people the wrong way. I’m one of those of people. I can’t believe I was forced to grow up in an area where I was surrounded with IU basketball fans, Notre Dame football fans (often one in the same), and people from Carmel. If that’s not the Axis of Evil of arrogance, I don’t know what is.

Ok, now that I’ve established my unquestionable level of objectivity, let’s get to the game.

"God you're a douche, Crean. Too bad you can never beat me, eh?"

While the vast majority of the world will be pondering Manning vs. Brady and Coughlin vs. Belicheat on Super Bowl Eve, us Indiana people will be concerned with Hummel vs. Zeller and Painter vs. Crean. Indiana vs. Purdue on the hardwood is always a big deal in this basketball crazed state, and to steal an old cliche, you can throw the records out the window.

As former Indiana player and coach Dan Dakich said, “In the state of Indiana it doesn’t matter if you are 1-16 at the time or 32-0, Purdue wants to beat Indiana and Indiana wants to beat Purdue.”

Indeed.

As it turns out neither team is 1-16 nor 32-0. Purdue (15-7, 5-4) and Indiana (17-6, 5-6) rank fifth and seventh in the Big Ten standings, respectively. Unlike the past few seasons when Indiana basketball was beyond pitiful, this season’s rivalry installments should bring together two competitive teams fighting for NCAA tournament bids.

The result of this game will have real ramifications beyond rivalry bragging rights. Purdue is desperate for a quality win against a top 25 opponent, while Indiana is still in search of its first quality road win. (Here it seems appropriate to mention that under Crean the Hoosiers are 2-32 on the road in the Big Ten while Painter and the Boilers have already won three Big Ten road games this season alone.)

So who’s going to win this important tilt? Glad you asked.

Looking at the teams on paper, Indiana appears to be the superior squad. They’ve defeated #1 Kentucky and #2 Ohio State at home, they have Zeller, and they can really shoot the 3 ball. On the other hand the Boilers have labored this season. Their free throw shooting and defense have been sub par, Hummel has struggled, Lewis Jackson has been limited by injuries, and they have no real inside presence.

Mackey Magic, get a taste

But……. as we mentioned earlier, IU really blows on the road, and the atmosphere at Mackey Arena tonight might redefine the meaning of hostile. IU fans will scoff at this, but I truly believe it will be the toughest road environment on their schedule this season.

To once again quote Dakich, ““It was (back when Danny Boy was a player) the best road environment in the Big Ten by far. The students are on top of you, you couldn’t hear your teammates and sometimes you couldn’t even hear Coach Knight during timeouts.”

As you can see I have no real X’s and O’s type of insight to offer. I will say that I like the fact that Lew Jack feels healthy for the first time this season, but I fear the Boilers will have no answer for young Zeller in the paint. With that said, I think the home court advantage will be the difference. I realize that IU is fed up with losing on the road, but the Boilers are fed up with hearing about what a great basketball team the Hoosiers have. Screw ‘Em.

Purdue: 67  Indiana: 62

Crean remains winless against Painter, Purdue increases their lead in the head-to-head series to 113-84, Indiana’s road woes continue, and Hoosier faithful score another precious opportunity to boast of their elaborate antique decorations hanging in Assembly Hall.

One road loss, two road loss, three road loss, four
Five road loss, sixth road loss knockin’ on your door
Cause’ Indiana basketball is losing a whole bunch all of sudden, six out of eight to be specific.

Not quite as catchy, but I’ll go with it.

POTFH.

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Robby D’s BRACKETOLOGY – January 23, 2012

Welcome back! Week #2 of Robby D’s Bracketology is back!

For those who haven’t been here, here’s a summary of what you missed from the previous post…For those who didn’t know, yours truly has been a resident bracketologist for over 3 years. I even predicted every team in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, which is not easy to do with the ever-crowded bubble list of teams.

This will become a weekly tradition on the ‘Back Home Again Blog’. We will analyze and gaze into the college basketball crystal ball to predict and foresee the future of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

With all of that being said, let’s get to breaking down the early BRACKETS!

EAST REGION (Boston, MA)

Pittsburgh, PA
#1 SYRACUSE
#16 VERMONT

#8 Wichita State
#9 Memphis

Nashville, TN
#5 Florida State
#12 Oregon

#4 Michigan
#13 IONA

Columbus, OH
#6 Mississippi State
#11 SOUTHERN MISS

#3 Indiana
#14 Davidson

Greensboro, NC
#7 DAYTON
#10 Alabama

#2 Duke
#15 AKRON

WEST REGION (Phoenix, AZ)

Omaha, NE
#1 MISSOURI
#16 BUCKNELL

#8 Temple
#9 CALIFORNIA

Portland, OR
#5 Wisconsin
#12 Ole Miss vs. Marshall

#4 UNLV
#13 LONG BEACH STATE

Pittsburgh, PA
#6 SAN DIEGO STATE
#11 Colorado State vs. Minnesota

#3 UConn
#14 BELMONT

Greensboro, NC
#7 Louisville
#10 Purdue

#2 NORTH CAROLINA
#15 WEBER STATE

MIDWEST REGION (St. Louis, MO)

Louisville, KY
#1 KENTUCKY
#16 LIU BROOKLYN vs. UNC-ASHEVILLE

#8 West Virginia
#9 Xavier

Portland, OR
#5 Kansas State
#12 New Mexico

#4 MURRAY STATE
#13 NEVADA

Columbus, OH
#6 CREIGHTON
#11 Cincinnati

#3 Michigan State
#14 CLEVELAND STATE

Albuquerque, NM
#7 Gonzaga
#10 NC State

#2 Baylor
#15 NORFOLK STATE

SOUTH REGION (Atlanta, GA)

Pittsburgh, PA
#1 OHIO STATE
#16 TEXAS-ARLINGTON vs. MISSISSIPPI VALLEY ST

#8 Virginia
#9 Seton Hall

Albuquerque, NM
#5 Marquette
#12 BYU

#4 Florida
#13 MIDDLE TENNESSEE

Omaha, NE
#6 Vanderbilt
#11 HARVARD

#3 Georgetown
#14 GEORGE MASON

Omaha, NE
#7 Illinois
#10 ST. MARY’S

#2 Kansas
#15 Oral Roberts

LAST FOUR IN:
Ole Miss
Marshall
Oregon
Minnesota

FIRST FOUR OUT:
Northwestern
Northern Iowa
Texas
Arkansas

NEXT FOUR OUT:
Iowa State
Wyoming
UMass
Notre Dame

BID BREAKDOWN BY CONFERENCE:
Big Ten: 8 (DOWN from 9, Northwestern is out)
Big East: 8
SEC: 6 (UP from 5, Ole Miss now in)
ACC: 5 (UP from 4, NC State now in)
Big 12: 4
Mountain West: 4
Atlantic 10: 3 (DOWN from 4, Saint Louis lost auto-bid)
Conference USA: 3
West Coast: 3
Missouri Valley: 2 (DOWN from 3, Northern Iowa is out)
Pac-12: 2 (Oregon is in, Stanford lost auto-bid)
MAC: 1
WAC: 1

5 Teams on the Rise:

*FLORIDA STATE: Seminoles are on the top line of teams on the rise this week and with good reason.  They’ve now won 4 in a row, including a HUGE road win at Duke. They’ve risen from being on the bubble 2 weeks ago to being a 5-seed this week. What a difference 2 weeks can make.

*OLE MISS: A team I didn’t even have on my radar until this week, the Rebels landed a big win at home against Mississippi State and got a road win in the SEC at Georgia, which is darn near impossible (winning a road game in conference). They have the look of a Tourney team too. Terrance Henry had 24 against the Bulldogs and is a 6’9 combo guard. 6’9, you heard me right. Andy Kennedy’s team is getting hot, and will have another shot at a marquee win Thursday at home against Florida.

*MISSOURI: The Tigers are on the 1-seed line this week thanks to a very impressive victory at Baylor. The Bears are falling and the Tigers are taking advantage of it, and still have the lone loss (at K-State) on their resume. Their starting 5 could be the quickest and most potent starting 5 you will find in the nation. They run, they play D, they hit shots. Mizzou is for real folks. 

*OREGON: I told you the Ducks would be in this week if they happened to sweep USC and UCLA convincingly…okay, forget the convincingly part, but Oregon has now won their last 4 and their road win at Nebraska is looking much better than it did 2 weeks ago. They’re in the field right now and should stay there if they can beat lowly Oregon State at home. But after that, it will get much more difficult.

*CINCINNATI: Forget about their SOS figure (165) and focus on the fact that up until their 3-point loss at West Virginia this Saturday (which by the way isn’t a bad loss at all) the Bearcats had their last 3 at Georgetown, at home against Villanova, and at UConn. Quite possibly the two most impressive road wins of the year right there. Their numbers will still hinder them of a better seed come tournament time, but a victory over Syracuse Monday night could surge them even higher with a much nicer schedule looming in conference.

5 Teams on the Decline:

*NORTHERN IOWA: The Panthers are on the top line for biggest dissappointment of the week. I know, their numbers are great (RPI: 47, SOS: 16) but there’s no excuse for losing at Bradley or Illinois State. Plus, they DESPERATELY needed that win at home against Wichita State and they whiffed. They were able to get back on the W track against Drake Sunday night, but their losses outweigh their big wins. For that, they’re on the top of the decline list and out of the Tourney right now.

*PURDUE: Ahhh welcome back Purdue, we didn’t miss you. A 25-point woodshed beating the Boilermakers took on Saturday at Michigan State is only making their profile look worse. Thanks to Illinois’ fall from grace, the Boilermakers are currently the only team in the Big Ten (as of January 23rd) that doesn’t have a win against a Top 25 team. Sure, Iona and Temple look great on a resume, but those aren’t top 25 wins (pertaining to rankings). Boilermakers are gonna have to get their act together quickly, cause they are falling faster than you think in the Brackets.

*NORTHWESTERN: Here I was thinking Northwestern was FINALLY back, and now they are back…to failing in big moments. A loss at Minnesota pretty much summed up their week after getting pounded at Wisconsin. Their style of play is much more conducive in their home environment at Welsh-Ryan Arena and hasn’t look good at all when going on the road. Their numbers are still good, but they’ve got to get back to .500 in the Big Ten to feel better about their at-large chances. Throw in the fact that Seton Hall is starting to fall off, and that win against the Pirates doesn’t look too good now.

*ILLINOIS: Yikes, 3 teams from the Big Ten in the declining teams list? You bet. After three successive wins at Northwestern, and versus Nebraska and Ohio State, Illinois followed that up with losses at Penn State and at home to Wisconsin. Their big wins speak for themselves, but two losses in conference especially after the Illini were close to one of the hottest teams in college basketball makes you sit back and question whether this team has the right make-up to be a contender for the Sweet 16 and beyond.

*UCONN: Lastly, we come to the UConn Huskies. A team that has now lost two in a row to 2 teams outside the top 90 in the RPI. Yucky. Before that, they had beaten Notre Dame and West Virginia (that ND win looks a lot better now) but take two more games before that and you see a horrible loss at Rutgers. The bad losses look really bad right now for Jim Calhoun and it all boiled over when UConn looked sluggish and lackadaisical in Knoxville playing a Tennessee team that granted is looking better, but still has a losing record. Jeremy Lamb isn’t the scorer that we anticipated this year, and Andre Drummond has yet to truly mature as a freshman. Long way to go for the Huskies but they stayed on the 3-line this week just because the teams behind them aren’t really much better than them on paper.

And that’s it! Hope you enjoy this newest blog series up until Selection Sunday which is less than 2 months away!

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Robby D’s BRACKETOLOGY – January 16, 2012

For those who aren’t familiar with the word ‘Bracketology’, Webster’s dictionary defines Bracketology as: the study of college basketball, particularly the study of March Madness and all of its components including but not limited to seeds, regional sites, RPI, SOS, etc.

And for those who didn’t know, yours truly has been a resident bracketologist for over 3 years. I even predicted every team in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, which is not easy to do with the ever-crowded bubble list of teams.

This will become a weekly tradition on the ‘Back Home Again Blog’. We will analyze and gaze into the college basketball crystal ball to predict and foresee the future of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

With all of that being said, let’s get to breaking down the early BRACKETS!

EAST REGION (Boston, MA)

Pittsburgh, PA
#1 SYRACUSE
#16 TEXAS SOUTHERN vs. UNC-ASHEVILLE

#8 Alabama
#9 Saint Louis

Portland, OR
#5 MURRAY STATE
#12 Minnesota

#4 Kansas State
#13 NEVADA

Columbus, OH
#6 Mississippi State
#11 New Mexico

#3 Georgetown
#14 CLEVELAND STATE

Columbus, OH
#7 Virginia
#10 Cal

#2 Michigan State
#15 ORAL ROBERTS

SOUTH REGION (Atlanta, GA)

Pittsburgh, PA
#1 OHIO STATE
#16 WAGNER

#8 Temple
#9 Memphis

Nashville, TN
#5 Vanderbilt
#12 Middle Tennessee

#4 UConn
#13 IONA

Omaha, NE
#6 SAN DIEGO STATE
#11 Wichita State

#3 Kansas
#14 AKRON

Greensboro, NC
#7 West Virginia
#10 STANFORD

#2 DUKE
#15 DAVIDSON

MIDWEST REGION (St. Louis, MO)

Louisville, KY
#1 KENTUCKY
#16 ALBANY vs. BUCKNELL

#8 Wisconsin
#9 Dayton

Nashville, TN
#5 Marquette
#12 Colorado State vs. Northern Iowa

#4 Florida
#13 HARVARD

Louisville, KY
#6 Seton Hall
#11 SOUTHERN MISS

#3 Indiana
#14 GEORGE MASON

Omaha, NE
#7 Illinois
#10 Florida State

#2 Missouri
#15 WEBER STATE

WEST REGION (Phoenix, AZ)

Albuquerque, NM
#1 BAYLOR
#16 TEXAS ARLINGTON

#8 GONZAGA
#9 Purdue

Portland, OR
#5 Louisville
#12 Marshall

#4 Michigan
#13 BELMONT

Albuquerque, NM
#6 CREIGHTON
#11 BYU vs. Northwestern

#3 UNLV
#14 LONG BEACH STATE

Greensboro, NC
#7 Xavier
#10 St. Mary’s

#2 North Carolina
#15 NORFOLK STATE

LAST FOUR IN:
Northern Iowa
Marshall
Cal
Minnesota

FIRST FOUR OUT:
Texas
NC State
Oregon
Oklahoma

NEXT FOUR OUT:
Cincinnati
UMass
Iowa State
Ohio

BID BREAKDOWN BY CONFERENCE:

Big Ten: 9
Big East: 8
SEC: 5
ACC: 4
Atlantic 10: 4
Big 12: 4
Mountain West: 4
Conference USA: 3
Missouri Valley: 3
West Coast: 3
Pac-12: 2
MAC: 1
WAC: 1

5 Teams on the Rise:

*VANDERBILT: Commodores are going to be a force to be reckoned with come March, now that Festus Ezeli is back wearing the black and gold. They’ve won their last 7 after losing 3 of 4 and even won at Marquette by 17. John Jenkins is one of the best pure shooters in the country, and Jeffery Taylor is a poster dunker waiting to happen. Yes, Kevin Stallings’ team always seems to choke come Tourney Time but this year is going to be different. I promise you that.

*MINNESOTA: No better way to end a 4-game losing streak in conference than to go out and win in arguably one of the most difficult places to win in all of college basketball this year. Minnesota had done what Ohio State or Kentucky couldn’t do: win at Assembly Hall. Their resume doesn’t jump off the page, but they have 5 RPI Top 100 wins which is a plus since their non conference schedule has been a joke in the past.

*FLORIDA STATE: You want to talk about a team taking advantage of an opportunity…WOW. You don’t just beat North Carolina by 33 points at home unless you know what you’re doing. Sure, Devidas Dulkys had 24 3-pointers and UNC couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, but this Seminole team was OUT of my 68 at the start of Friday. Now, they are squarely in the tournament. Non conference wins against UCF and UMass also help their cause, but they may rue the losses to Princeton and Clemson down the road.

*OREGON: No, they aren’t in the field of 68 right now, but the Ducks are beginning to fight their way back on the bubble. Their non conference schedule is going to thur them down the road, and the fact that they just got blown out by Cal at home really hurts their chances of a marquee victory. But a weekend sweep at Arizona State and Arizona, something that no Pac-12 team has been able to do (win two games in a row on the road over a weekend trip) has gotten my attention. Their next 3 at home need to be convincing victories, then they just may see themselves back in the mix.

*NORTHWESTERN: This could FINALLY be the year Northwestern breaks in the NCAA Tournament field as an at-large team, as the Wildcats are putting together a sharp tournament resume. With a top 10 strength of schedule, non conference neutral site wins over LSU and Seton Hall, plus their HUGE win at home over Michigan State this week, Northwestern is in the Field of 68…FOR NOW. Their next 3 at Wisconsin, at Minnesota, and at home versus Purdue will tell us a lot whether or not John Shurna can lead this team to the Big Dance for the first time in school history.

5 Teams on the Decline:

*LOUISVILLE: My word, have you ever seen a bigger fall from grace than the Cardinals? After starting the season 12-0 and making a push for a 1-seed, the Cardinals have fallen off the face of this earth losing 4 of their last 6 including a 31 point loss at Providence and a loss to Notre Dame at home (who is currently RPI #106). I didn’t have any confidence after watching this team against Western Kentucky at home back in December, and you better heed this advice for down the road: DON’T PICK LOUISVILLE TO GO FAR IN YOUR BRACKET. They’ll be an upset team waiting to happen. But still, you can’t ignore wins over Long Beach State, Vanderbilt, and Memphis. That’s why they are still a 5-seed.

*PURDUE: For a moment, I thought Purdue had finally gotten their act together. An impressive 13 point win on the road at Minnesota obviously wasn’t getting their act together in the right way. This is easily one of the more inconsistent teams in all of college basketball right now, yet they have 4 RPI Top 40 wins over Iona, Temple, Illinois, and Minnesota. How do they have only a 9-seed? A bad loss to Wisconsin with at home with the Badgers struggling mightly and a road defeat to Penn State by 20. And the schedule won’t get any easier, 8 of their next 9 games are against Big Ten Teams that are in the top 30 of the RPI.

*KANSAS STATE: We all thought Frank Martin’s team was putting together something special after that woodshed beating they put on Missouri at the beginning of January…my how that seems like a long-lost memory. There’s no way they should have lost to Baylor at home and there’s no way you can follow that up with a loss on the road at Oklahoma. So now after all of that the Wildcats sit at 1-3 in the Big 12 with the next 8 against teams outside the RPI top 50. They really missed out on some marquee wins over Kansas and Baylor but they still have Bama and Mizzou victories to hang their hat on. Nevertheless, this team is dropping fast.

*OHIO: You don’t typically see 2 teams from the MAC make it into the Tournament, but heading into January that was definitely the case. Ohio at one point had 4 straight road games…FOUR STRAIGHT ROAD GAMES IN DECEMBER. And they won all 4 (at Oakland, at Portland, at Wright State, at Northern Iowa). You may be saying well those aren’t any good teams, but that doesn’t matter to a bracketologist. Victories on the road are crucial to a resume in the Big Dance and Ohio had 5 including a BIG win at Marshall, a team that’s currently in the NCAA Tournament. But the start of January has not been kind to the Bobcats. Losing 3 of their last 4 to Robert Morris, Bowling Green, and Akron has put them out of an at-large birth and it doesn’t appear they’ll have a chance at making it back into the discussion unless they win out. They will still have those 4 road game wins to rest on, but it won’t be easy to make it back into the Field of 68 as an at-large unless they win out in conference.

*NORTHERN IOWA: You can’t ignore their resume that they have right now: a top 10 SOS, and RPI of 30, and their 5 RPI Top 100 victories. But their bad losses could keep them out of the Tournament. Illinois State, Evansville, and the head-scratcher Sunday night at Bradley are beginning to pile up against the Panthers. They are in the Tournament right now, but 2 big ones against Wichita State and Drake will help us learn more about UNI this season.

And that’s it! Hope you enjoy this newest blog series up until Selection Sunday which is 2 months away!

Posted in Bracketology, College Basketball | 6 Comments

Carney’s 2012 Predictions

To start off the new year (yeah I know I’m a week late, sue me), I would like to present my 2012 sports predictions. Should be an interesting year for sports here at the Crossroads. Give these a read so you can laugh at me later:

  1. Andrew Luck will turn into an Eli-Manning-Cry-Baby and force Jim Irsay to dispose of Eli’s brother Peyton effectively ending the current era of Colts football. I will hate him for it until he leads the Colts to Super Bowl L. Then all will be forgiven.
  2. Out of the Colts veteran free agents, Robert Mathis will be retained. Jeff Saturday will retire as a Colt. Sadly, Reggie Wayne and Ryan Diem will take their talents elsewhere.
  3. The Saints will beat the Ravens in Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLVI.
  4. The Indiana Pacers will win 40 regular season games and advance to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. They will add Eric Gordon to the roster in the off season. (2013 Prediction: The Pacers will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals in Year 1 of The Gordon Era.)
  5. Purdue will finish 5th in the Big Ten (yeah I know they just got pounded by Penn State – they’ll come around). IU will finish 3rd. They will split their two head-to-head matchups with both winning at home. Both teams will advance to the Sweet 16 where they both will lose.
  6. Reggie Miller will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. I’ll attempt to attend the enshrinement ceremony but won’t be able to afford the trip.
  7. Ryan Lochte will upstage Michael Phelps at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the pool showing that he, not Phelps, is the best American male swimmer.
  8. CPatt Gold herself. What a sweetheart. (Call Me!)

    My streak of every-4-year-mega-crushes-on-an-American-female-Olympic-gymnasts will be broken. Now at age 23, it’s just too creepy. All good things must come to an end. If Carly Patterson’s out there reading this, give me a shout. We need to reconnect.

  9. By the end of 2012 John Elway will have given up on Tim Tebow. Before this happens though, Tebow will magically and inexplicably lead the Broncos to the AFC Championship Game where Denver will lose in heartbreaking fashion a la Jim Harbaugh and the 1995 Indianapolis Colts. (I know this is a super long shot, but I’m pulling for Tebow to become the next Captain Comeback)
  10. Finally, my boy Bryan Clauson will qualify for the 2012 Indianapolis 500. If this happens, it will become one of the happiest days of my young life. Good Luck BC!
Welp, that’s all I’ve got. We’ll see how it goes. Happy New Year!
Posted in Indiana Hoosiers, Indiana Pacers, Indiana Sports, Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Colts, Purdue Boilermakers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Colts vs. Jags – Listen to Your Heart

The Golden Boy himself.

It’s hard to believe that a 2-13 NFL team could be playing in a franchise defining game this weekend, but that just may be the case for the Indianapolis Colts. The result of Sunday’s matchup between the Colts and the Jacksonville Jaguars could dictate Indy’s philosophy regarding personnel decisions moving forward.

Let’s make this rather complicated situation as simple as possible, if the Colts win on Sunday, they blow the number one pick (there’s NO WAY the Rams beat the 49ers who are playing for a first round bye in the playoffs). If the Colts lose, they acquire the rights to the most valuable draft choice — Andrew Luck –of the past 30 years (according to seemingly every draft expert on the planet).

To take it a step further, if the Colts win and get stuck with the second pick, it’s more likely they build for the present. In other words, it’s more likely the Manning – Wayne – Mathis – Saturday era continues. It’s more likely the Polians try to put together a team built around aging veterans capable of making one last Super Bowl run before #18 calls it quits. If we can’t get the wonder boy Luck who, in theory, would lead the Colts to 10-15 more years of excellence, why not give Manning and the other old balls one last chance to make a run at glory? We can always rebuild later on.

If the Colts lose on Sunday, the possibility of operation rebuild seems far more likely. It’s more likely the Polians dump all or most of the expensive veterans who have carried this team for the past decade including Manning in favor of rebuilding around young Luck.

The most famous neck in sports history.

Of course all of this is all just speculation courtesy of yours truly, and of course everything depends on Peyton’s health status come March. There is the possibility of some type of hybrid strategy between these two extremes. It’s plausible for the Colts to draft Luck and sit him on the bench behind Manning for a few years. It’s also possible the team decides to build for the present even if they get the number one pick by trading it away for a king’s ransom of other draft choices. All I’m saying is a win on Sunday increases the odds of the Manning era continuing while a loss decreases those odds. That’s all, nothing definitive.

With all this said, what should the Colts do on Sunday? The answer, even though it has been debated all week by the national media, is obvious. As Herm Edwards would say, “You play to win the game!” The Colts must attempt to win against the Jags no matter the indirect consequences. It would be an insult to the coaches, players and the game itself to lose on purpose. It just won’t happen, so let’s save our breath.

The real question is what should the Colts fans do on Sunday? Should we cheer for the Colts to beat a hated division rival this weekend, or should we cheer against them? Should we cheer for the Colts …. to lose?

I’ve never been faced with a choice like this as a fan. For as long as I can remember I’ve cheered for the Colts to win every single game (even when the team itself showed zero interest in winning late in the 2009 season). It’s always been a no brainer. It’s the entire essence of being a fan. Even during this abysmal 2011 season, I rooted for Indy to win every week. Although to be fair, for the vast majority of the season, I pulled for the Colts every week under the assumption that we would in fact land the number one pick. It was simply an exercise of fandom. I cheered, but I knew we would lose and lose often* – often enough to claim our prize with ease.

Now with the ultimate prize in serious jeopardy, my choice becomes more complicated, difficult and confusing. Do I really want to rebuild with Luck? Would I rather have an old, crusty and maybe even fragile Manning give it one more go? Does it matter what I want?

No. No, it never matters what the common fan wants. But that doesn’t make our decision unimportant….. at least not to me.

Logic tells me to cheer for the loss. This game doesn’t matter at all. We have everything to gain by losing. We have nothing to gain by winning. No matter who you want our signal caller to be next season, we’ll be in a better position as a team with the first pick. Why wouldn’t we want to acquire this incredibly valuable asset?

My heart as a fan tells me to pull for a potentially harmful win. Why? Simply because it’s the right thing to do. The heart feels it’s best to always cheer for your team, no matter what bizzarre circumstances arise, and let the chips fall where they may. Let fate decide. It’s the principal of thing, you know? I can’t cheer against Reggie Wayne, Jeff Saturday and Robert Mathis in what could be possibly be their final game as Colts. After everything these guys have given us over the years — the wins, the records, the Super Bowls, the new stadium — we’re going to turn our backs on them now? I just can’t do it. I think something inside of me would be broken if I cheered for the Jags against the Colts. Not just as a fan, but as a man. (This is fairly overdramatic, but I’m trying to make a point people, just roll with it.)

Listen to your head or your heart. The choice is yours. I’m going with my heart.

Go Colts. Beat the Jags. We’ll figure out the rest later.

College.

*Footnote: Fellow Back Home Again contributor Zach Haselhorst invented a game for us to play every time we watched the Colts this year. The game is an extension of the popular drinking technique called “Slap the Bag.” Basically, every time something went horribly wrong for the Colts (no matter how predictable) we each had to take a long swig from our bag of Franzia box wine and then subsequently slap the side of the bag. My goal was to keep track of how many bag slaps we accumulated over the season. I lost count and gave up on this pursuit during the first half of the Colts’ first game. Needless to say, we were pretty hammered every Sunday afternoon which was sort of fun but mostly depressing. Good times.

Posted in Indianapolis Colts | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment