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yoco :: College Basketball
(a sports weblog) news and commentary on men's college basketball and the ncaa tournament

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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Don't call it

an upset (the season's first). But at least the Cal Bears were prepared.

revisionist history

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports (who knew Yahoo had a College Basketball Preview?) began his recent piece on the Indiana Hoosiers with a lead paragraph that turned out not to be true. In November of 2004, Wetzel wrote:

It was stark and obvious and a clear sign of things to come. Walking into a preseason Indiana practice on last year's Road to College Hoops was seeing an Indiana team that didn't look like an Indiana team.

Talent? Not enough. Depth? Not enough. Experience? Not enough.

But in October of 2003, Dan either thought differently or kept his thoughts to himself. Because here and here, Wetzel included as many favorable readings of Indiana's talent as he did unfavorable reviews.

Total Recall?

John Feinstein reminds ACC fans not to count their chickens before they hatch.

In the winter of 1980, the Atlantic Coast Conference was loaded with talented basketball teams. Night after night the top six teams took turns beating each other and, as January became February, there was considerable concern that the ACC wouldn't get all the NCAA bids it thought it deserved. And so, the politicking began.

"The ACC is so strong," Duke star Gene Banks declared one day, "that if six teams get into the NCAAs, all of them will make the Final Four."

Okay, so Banks wasn't a math major. The ACC got five bids that year, and the sixth team -- Virginia -- won the National Invitation Tournament. It was, without question, the best league in the country that season.

Banks, however, was just a little bit off in his calculations. The ACC didn't send to the Final Four all five teams that got in, or even a more plausible four. Or three, two or one.

It sent none.

They Said It

"I came into a situation that didn't need to be fixed, a situation that wasn't broken. And that was the biggest challenge of them all. I had to put my stamp on things, because I can't be something that I'm not. I can't coach what I don't believe in."
-- Kansas coach Bill Self

Coaches vs.


South Florida senior guard Bradley Mosley was diagnosed with renal cell cancer and will miss the 2004-05 season...Mosley, 21, was the only player to start every game for the Bulls last season, averaging 14.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 27 games.

My best wishes for an effective treatment program.

look, ma

no title.

They Said It

"I like those guys. They're guys who have ridden for four, five, six hours in a van, eating a cheese sandwich."
-- Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins, speaking of junior college players

Friday, November 12, 2004

Not exactly a

slam dunk.

The Mid-Majority Report

Here and, much, much more importantly,

here. Kyle, a very perceptive college basketball blogger (and a long-time reader of this site), is on an epic journey. He hopes to attend a hundred NCAA basketball games during the 2004-05 season. At last night's (exhibition) match, our hero asked an important question: What in the world is up with the new George Mason logo?

Kyle also critiqued Drexel, my pick to win the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title. I figure the Dragons' guards will carry the team through conference play. Even if their lack of size costs them dearly in the CAA tournament.

Against the Grain

Maybe it's West Coast Bias (for a change), but after his latest column, I'm entertaining the thought that Ed Graney is the best of ESPN.com's college basketball analysts and contributors. Andy Katz gets better scoops, Dick Vitale is more blogworthy (by virtue of his far-out opinions), Jeff Shelman looks younger, Jay Bilas had a lengthier movie career (including "I Come in Peace"), Doug Gottlieb was a better player, Pat Forde writes "thought pieces" with greater frequency, Fran Fraschilla has a harder name to spell and Joe Lunardi provides better evidence to back up his claims. But none write as well as Graney. A case in point:

It's easy to forget about the stagehands and stand-ins.

That would be a mistake for those who follow UCLA basketball this season. Fresh faces might forecast a bright future, but familiar ones could still decide how far the team lives into March.


this is why ESPN hired Fran Fraschilla. Not. Bad. Punditry.

Even Larry Brown didn't last long in Westwood, despite reaching the 1980 NCAA finals in his first of two seasons with the Bruins. It's possible that Ben Howland's honeymoon as the Bruins' new coach will last a little longer than most because of his success at Pittsburgh. His reputation precedes him. Steve Lavin, who replaced his boss, Jim Harrick, as the Bruins' head coach, did not enjoy the same luxury because he was perceived not to have the experience necessary to coach at UCLA and continue the Wooden legacy. Ironically, his six Sweet Sixteen appearances may be the standard that Howland is measured by and not the Wizard of Westwood's 11 national titles.

They Said It

"The Laker thing seems like eight years ago."
-- Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski

Putting the "student"

back in "student-athlete."

Thomas Lane spent his summer vacation impressing college basketball coaches and was rewarded with scholarship offers from several schools. The 6-foot-4 guard from Oklahoma City said thanks, [but] no thanks, and has decided to join the Creighton program next August as a walk-on. He plans to redshirt next season and will have four seasons of eligibility beginning with the 2006-2007 season.

"One of the things that sold Thomas on Creighton was the total package," said Brad Shelley, Lane's coach at Cassidy High School in Oklahoma City. "He wants to go to law school, and several of the former players he met on his visit talked very highly of Creighton's law school.

Charlotte, Canisius and Middle Tennessee State fought the law. And the law won.

My Goodness,

My Guinness. Don't look now, but Steve Fisher is assembling an elite recruiting class -- en route to another "Fab Five," perhaps -- at San Diego State. First small forward Kyle Spain, then big man Brett Hoerner, and now shooting guard Kashif Watson.

Watson averaged 15.1 points per game during the regular season last year. He said he's looking forward to playing for San Diego State coach Steve Fisher.

"Coach Fisher's a great coach," Watson said. "He's going to let me go out and play. And the players around me are real good. And they just welcomed me when I got there, and they just wanted me to be there, so I just felt it was the place to be."

And if Hoerner isn't enough down low, Fisher brought back Jabbar Young.

The 6-11 San Bernardino College sophomore center returns to SDSU after sitting out the 2003 spring semester and then needing to attend a JC to become eligible. Young was a Top 100 prep player nationally coming out of National Christian Academy (Md.) and originally signed with West Virginia, but failed to qualify.

Two Top 100 big men on the same MWC squad? Pencil in SDSU for -- you heard it here first -- an upcoming Sweet Sixteen.

Thank You, My Lady?

Time for Women's Lib? Or more confusion?

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Echo. Echo.

I'm with Poliquin.

On what date and against which team will Jim Boeheim (676-234) record the 700th win of his Syracuse coaching career?

The Cuse's 2004-2005 men's basketball schedule is available here. Make your guess in the "Comments" section below.

The winner may receive a video of a University of South Carolina men's basketball practice. Or s/he may not.

Rogue Nation

The man has a point.

[Former Bearcat Anthony] Buford says Cincinnati's "rogue" status dates to [the] Final Four trip of 1992 because Cincinnati's roster was packed with junior college players and transfers.

"It was like, they're all transfers, they must be bad," Buford says. "We were treated like the team that shouldn't be there. It literally felt like we were in a place where we didn't belong, and that's how we were treated."

The irony is that the team that defeated Cincinnati at that Final Four, Michigan, later had numerous NCAA violations surface.

know your

history. Duke Medical School vs. North Carolina Central.

Syracuse, by the way, has taken an early 24-5 lead against "provisional" Division I opponent Northern Colorado. Here's to the first of many Orange crushes.

fast fax

Not a single one of Georgia Tech's signees yesterday faxed coach Paul Hewitt their commitments...Ben Howland gave Alfred Aboya of Cameroon an extra 24 hours to send his signed letter to UCLA via fax from the African country...While watching the "Lion King" during Spanish class yesterday afternoon, North Carolina signee Danny Green received a text message on his cell phone. "Got the fax. Congratulations," read the message from UNC assistant Steve Robinson...Fendi Onobun was the first member of his class (which included Top 50 players Marcus Williams and J.P. Prince) to fax the University of Arizona his signed letter.

Hitting a Wall

In past posts and comments, I noted that, compared with other elite ballclubs, Illinois is a little weak up front. And that was before an Illini hit a wall. Literally.

Illinois forward Brian Randle is expected to miss six to 10 weeks with a broken hand, an injury caused when he punched a padded wall after becoming frustrated during a scrimmage. Randle had surgery Thursday, one day after breaking the bone in his hand, said Illinois sports information director Kent Brown.

Fortunately, Weber and Co. are impressed with freshman forward Shaun Pruitt. He'll likely pick-up Randle's minutes.

I encountered

this problem when responding to a reader's email about potential replacements for Mike Davis at Indiana.

Want proof there has been too much turnover among coaches? Try thinking up a list of "hot" coaches who might be ready to take over major programs. It'll be shorter than (5'7") Drew Lavender. Athletic directors in a firing mood this spring might find the hiring process to be more difficult than they might imagine.

Hey there, big fella

Nice to meet you.

At a recent workout, an NBA executive addressed the Deacons and asked Williams and backup Chris Ellis to stand, then told the perimeter players they needed to be introduced to the big men.


SI On Campus is up with the magazine's list of most ("programs defined by high graduation rates; colorful, offbeat personalities; a commitment to excellence; and even Bob Knight") and least ("schools whose past bad acts make them the obvious top picks in any fantasy draft of Programs You'd Most Love to See Get Schooled by a 16 Seed in the First Round of the NCAAs") rootable college basketball teams.

The "most" list is made up of Vermont, Wake Forest, Xavier, Temple, Coppin State, Saint Joseph's, Air Force, Connecticut, Illinois and Texas Tech. Key omissions are therefore Gonzaga, "America's mid-major," IUPUI, pronounced "ooey-pooey," and Drexel, because, much like James Bond, "Bruiserball" will die another day. Add Clemson to the list as well, because while the Tigers are technically a part of the ACC, they're a lock a for mediocrity. No sane fan expects to find them in the NCAA Tournament and so all (and especially ACC detractors) can unite behind the Tigers' efforts to defeat the ACC elite.

The "least" list includes Cincinnati, Memphis, UNLV, Missouri, St. John's, Maryland, Arizona, USC, Florida, and, best of all, "Jim Harrick's Next School." The compilation suggests SI writers root against an old man (Lute Olson) and would knock an old lady when she's down (St. John's). But the biggest mistake they made suggests the "On Campus" staff resides in Krzyzewskiville. To leave the Duke Blue Devils, the country's most hated squad, off the list demonstrates not only disrespect for the magazine's own criteria, but also a disregard for "Evil Empire" history. (In 2004 the Red Sox ended the Curse of the Bambino, in large part by defeating the Yankees in the ALCS. Now consider that, as the head coach at Kansas and now UNC, Roy Williams has never won a national championship).

Ok, ok,

so what if DJ's choice of photos (Danny Nee and Nate Funk!?!) was a little suspect. "What's in a name?" is a smile-inducing Page 2 column well worth your time.

Mark Schlabach's math

doesn't add up. Think back to high school algebra.

More and more, college basketball players are staying in school -- and they're being rewarded. In June's NBA draft, only 12 college players who hadn't exhausted their eligibility were among the 59 players selected, and teams drafted nearly twice as many college seniors as underclassmen. In 2003, only 11 college underclassmen were drafted, and twice as many seniors were selected. That's a big change from three years ago, when 24 college underclassmen were among the 57 players taken in the 2001 NBA draft.

Eight of the top 19 picks in June’s NBA draft were high school players. Schlabach missed the forest for the trees.

I'm not symathetic to Jim O'Brien's

lawsuit against Ohio State University. Obie broke the law -- repeatedly -- after promoting himself as a squeaky clean "good guy."

The legal action hinges on two points of contractual language: the assertion that there has been no finding of a breech of NCAA rules by the coach, and that O'Brien was not fired for cause.

The first point was only a matter of time. Given a month, the NCAA would have documented numerous transgressions by O'Brien. But the initial reports were so damning, OSU had to act. Further, Obie himself admitted to a violation worthy of dismissal.

Ohio State fired O'Brien on Tuesday after he admitted he gave $6,000 in 1999 to Aleksandar Radojevic, a Buckeyes recruit who never played for or attended Ohio State.

The second point relates to the first. Obie knew assistant coach Paul Biancardi had provided financial and academic assistance to Radojevic. While coach may not have known that the wife of the booster he had set Radojevic up with had become the young man's lover, he knew he was acting illegally in enabling cash payments to a recruit. OSU therefore had just cause to terminate his contract.

Writers on the Hot Seat

Jay Bilas probably wasn't referring to this College Basketball Blog when he wrote his scathing critique of media pundits who finger "Coaches on the Hot Seat," but I couldn't read his column without feeling a wee bit guilty for my post on the subject (which generated 16 comments and counting).

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

A Dunn Deal?

Remember when forward Chris Dunn, dubbed the "Matrix" by his teammates because he seemed to be everywhere on the floor, left the University of Arizona after failing to qualify academically?

It's a mere two months before the opening tip-off, and the University of Arizona men's hoops team has suffered its first major setback of the season with the departure of one of its few returning big men.

The Wildcats will be without the services of forward Chris Dunn. A 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman out of Hobbs, N.M., Dunn is no longer enrolled at the UA, making him ineligible to play this season...Regarded by most to be the most athletic of all Wildcat recruits, Dunn's exodus leaves the Wildcats lacking depth, with only eight scholarship players returning for the 2003-04 season.

Dunn subsequently enrolled at Pima Community College in Tucson before transferring to Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, California and, finally, settling on Mesa Community College in Arizona. All the while, he remained a hot commodity in the eyes of Division I coaches around the country.

Dunn's mother Annie said she receives at least two calls each night from various programs inquiring about her son.

After considering several schools, in April of 2004 Chris committed to play for the University of New Mexico and coach Ritchie McKay starting in the fall of 2005.

Dunn made the decision last week and told [his uncle Vince] Taylor on Friday. "He seemed real upbeat about it," Taylor said. "He knows what it feels like to play in The Pit and how much Albuquerque fans love basketball."

To prepare, Dunn continued to play basketball. This past month, he joined Mesa in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Jamboree and was named the team's starting power forward. The future seemed bright.

But then, oops, he did it again.

Former Hobbs High School star Chris Dunn, the highest-rated recruit coming to the University of New Mexico men's basketball team next season, has quit the team at Mesa Community College in Arizona.

Lobos coach Ritchie McKay said it is unlikely he will continue to recruit the 6-foot-8 forward...Dunn, who graduated high school in 2002, has yet to play a minute of college basketball.

"I don't know if the motivation and desire is still there," [Mesa coach Alton] Lister said Monday. "This is two years, 2 1/2 years since he's played. The longer away from the game, the harder it is to get your body back into the routine."

They Said It

"That's when the calls will stop. I've actually switched cell phone numbers. No other school has that (new) number. I won't have to worry about more phone calls."
-- University of New Mexico signee Joel Box, speaking last week about national signing (to)day

The Buzz

has Florida State as a potential NCAA Tournament team. I've noted (in comments on various threads) that I find this unlikely given the strength of the ACC and the number of all-but-guaranteed losses the Seminoles will endure.

That being said, if FSU finds itself dancing this March, fans will most likely have the "International Man of Mystery" to thank.

[Diego] Romero, 22, a native of Argentina, is expected to provide the Seminoles with the high-post threat they have lacked in recent years. Teammates and coaches say Romero passes superbly and can hit mid-range jumpers. Defensively, he gives the team another big, physical player...

Do not expect Romero to score 25 points and grab 10 rebounds every game, but he'll still contribute. "He's just a guy who you want on the floor because he does all the little things to make all his teammates better, and those kind of guys are just invaluable," [coach Leonard] Hamilton said.

Does the Memphis

post have legs? Maybe. Or maybe not. But at least it was good for a few laughs.

The Tigers new motto? Refuse to Freeze. On their way to the Final Fur.


To a speedy recovery (and better luck).

Just a day after returning to practice following 10 days on the sideline with a sprained ankle, Ute point guard Tim Drisdom reinjured his ankle Tuesday afternoon.

Ankle injuries have a way of returning at the least opportune of times. Consider Drisdom's ankle a real question mark for the 2004-2005 Utes.

the proverbial smackdown

SI.com's "college hoops gang" lays it on Arizona, big-time, while giving some love to Rice and Michael Harris, Michigan and Courtney Sims, and, excepting Seth Davis (who goes a bit far), under-appreciating Michigan State.

Genuine Jockey

It's never too early, eh?

The ACC's strength could prompt controversy come March. Several league coaches, including Maryland's Gary Williams, said the ACC could deserve seven berths in the 65-team NCAA tournament, a stance multiple coaches from mid-major conferences took exception to last week.

"The Big Ten in the past has gotten seven," Williams said. "They always said, 'Well, we have more teams.' We have more teams now [with the addition of Miami and Virginia Tech] so if we have seven that deserve to go, that should happen. Supposedly the best teams go."

It's Getting Hot in Here

Herb Gould of the Chicago Sun-Times finds Minnesota's Dan Monson, Iowa's Steve Alford, Indiana's Mike Davis, Virginia's Pete Gillen, USC's Henry Bibby, Tennessee's Buzz Peterson and Tulsa's John Phillips on the hot seat.

Benson Taylor suggests LSU's John Brady and Nebraska's Barry Collier. I'll add Villanova's Jay Wright and, for good measure, Massachusetts' Steve Lappas. The Minuteman coach is as good as g-o-n-e after this season, but until athletic director John McCutcheon makes it official, Lappas stays on the list.

National Signing Day

Today. No major surprises...yet.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

a stink about mink

Could a few mink coats mark the beginning of the end for John Calipari at the University of Memphis?

Crime on campus! Memphis Tigers basketball players say they were ripped off for nearly $70,000 worth of stuff! Four players: Arthur Barclay, Rodney Carney, Richard Dorsey, and Clyde Wade III, live together in an apartment on the University of Memphis campus. Eyewitness News obtained a copy of the police report filed and it lists several expensive items as stolen, including $40,000 in mink coats. The list of stolen items in its entirety is below.

The burglary happened while the Tigers were playing Christian Brothers University Saturday night. The burglars smashed the security gate and the window to the apartment. So far, no arrests have been made.

Stolen items include:

$40,000 – Various mink coats
$6,000 – Shoes
$5,000 – Trousers/pants
$4,000 – Custom-made shirts
$3,150 – Throwback jerseys
$2,500 – Diamond earrings
$1,450 – TVs/DVDs/Video games
$1,300 – Computers
+ Other items

All items total $66,720.

Or was the police report (since revised) filed by Rodney Carney and others a classic case of teenage deceit?

By Monday afternoon, the report was amended and minks removed. Curt Guenther, director of communications services at the UofM, said late Monday that the report instead now stated that nine fur coats "of some description" and two fur purses were taken. All together, those items were valued at $3,600, and, according to Guenther, did not belong to the players, but rather a friend.

Calipari better hope so, because without the illegal financial assistance of the school's boosters or NBA agents, I doubt his players can legally afford such luxuries.

(Via Confessions of the Overdressed. No lie).

Where Are They Now?

Former Gonzaga star Matt Santangelo is in Spain, under contract with Caja San Fernando.

I'm Immature

Hehe. His name rhymes with Blogger.

Let Spencer's experience be a lesson. Don't ever, ever, transfer to UCLA. But best of luck to him. I hope the former Princeton contributor finds a way to make significant money playing professional basketball.

A Preview of the Preview

ESPN The Magazine
Chris Paul will be on the cover of ESPN The Magazine when it hits your mailbox later this week.

The college basketball preview will also include a piece on Texas center LaMarcus Aldridge, an article on the Vermont Catamounts, and a feature entitled "V Chips."

Come and get it.

The Rick-Tator

just lost a key big man for the season. If the Cardinals fail to reach the Sweet 16, we'll know why. A lack of depth up front.

New Coke, New Classic.

Glad to see the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the nation's oldest black athletic conference, sign a TV contract with ESPN. But maybe the CIAA should have been a little more demanding at the bargaining table.

ESPN Classic will show seven CIAA tournament games live.

Beyond "Instant Classics." Live classics. Riiiiight.

Hello, Junior

Last year, Illinois forward Roger Powell went by...Roger Powell.

This year, the dynamic swingman is going by the name of Roger Powell Jr.

Perhaps a scout or two had confused Jr. with his pop, former Illinois State baller Roger Powell (Sr.).

One Small Step for Man,

One Giant Step for the Blogosphere.

David Stern has fined Mark Cuban for an October 31st blog entry where the Dallas Mavericks owner criticized the NBA for scheduling opening night on Election Day.

A true blogger, Cuban broke the news of the fine on his site, Blog Maverick.


Initially, I found the statistic Cal coach Ben Braun invented for sophomore point guard Ayinde Ubaka a little much.

Every practice, Braun's staff charts each player's leadership contributions: high-fives, verbal encouragement, physical contact to congratulate a teammate, instigating team huddles, demonstrations of enthusiasm, assertive actions, hustle plays. They are tallied at the end of the day, and a high score for Ubaka and fellow guard Richard Midgley is good news for Cal.

The system might seem silly, but for Cal to overcome the loss of Leon Powe and predictions that the Bears will be mediocre this season, it needs to put together intangibles that make the team greater than its individuals.

Paternalistic and almost pathetic, sure. But also rewarding and, if used correctly, respectful. After further review, I decided Lute Olson should adopt a similar method to motivate Salim Stoudamire. Better a running tally of behavior than assistant coach Rodney Tention's pacifier.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Lunar Eclipse

In a recent post, Ken Pomeroy explains how and why the "adjusted RPI" is not much of an improvement on the home-road neutral RPI.

Kenpom begins by reviewing Joe Lunardi's latest column in which ESPN's "Bracketologist" considers the impact of the NCAA's decision to weigh road games more than home games on the 2003-2004 Richmond Spiders. Running the numbers, Lunardi, a big proponent of the championships committee's adjustment, finds our beloved bubble team safely tournament-bound.

Importantly, the Spiders would go from a No. 49* RPI on Selection Sunday to a ranking most likely in the high-30s. Their at-large bid is a whole lot more secure in that range, as it should have been all along. There is also a much greater incentive for teams to schedule more road games in the first place.

Sounds great, no? The "adjusted RPI" works as planned, rewarding road victories and providing an incentive for greater travel. But after Pomeroy checked Lunardi's math, I learned that "Say it Ain't So" Joe only told us half the story.

Lunardi asserts that Richmond would have vaulted 10-12 spots up the RPI food chain under the new formula. The fault with this is that he only did the calculation for the Spiders. With a road bonus, everyone's RPI value will improve, assuming they won at least one road game. So I went ahead and recalculated RPI data for all teams, just to see how much Richmond actually improved.

Richmond was a +3 from 47* to 44. Not the huge move that Lunardi predicted. Why is that? While Richmond's road record of 8-7 was slightly better than average, when compared to the better teams of college hoops, it's not exceptional.

And neither is the new formula's impact, according to Ken. Putting the chimps to work, Pomeroy found none of the "adjusted RPI's" big winners or losers among the basic RPI's Top 50, rendering the new system "largely irrelevant" in his eyes.

Though I happen to believe dropping Georgia out of the running and cementing Washington's place in the tournament are critical contributions.

Teams that were hurt
1) Rutgers -11 (56 to 67)
2) Michigan -5 (55 to 60)
3) St. Louis -4 (64 to 68)
4) Georgia -3 (48 to 51)
4) Nothern Iowa -3 (59 to 62)

Teams that were helped
1) Villanova +10 (67 to 57)
2) Pacific +6 (65 to 59)
3) Wisconsin Milwaukee +5 (75 to 70)
4) Washington +4 (56 to 52)
4) Colorado +4 (57 to 53)

Importantly, however, Pomeroy also identified a critical side-effect of the "adjusted RPI." His calculations suggest the new formula will benefit major conference teams that have mediocre records. Witness those Wildcats.

An alleged improvement can have unintended consequences. Villanova had only five road wins. However, the effect of the road bonus has more impact on teams with worse records, and Villanova had the worst record of teams in the top 70 at 15-15. Think about it, if a team has a perfect record, their winning percentage cannot be adjusted any higher no matter how many road wins they have.

Wow. I see the boost to average teams from elite conferences as more than an unintended consequence, but as a critical flaw. As it stands, the big boys get enough love from the NCAA on Selection Sunday. If Kenpom's analysis rings true this March, look for (muted) calls to scrap the "adjusted RPI."

*You may have noticed that Lunardi (49) and Pomeroy (47) peg the Spiders at different home-road neutral RPIs. Why? Because Lunardi computes "InsideRPI" numbers using a formula that tries to replicate the secret RPI adjustments the NCAA selection committee is believed to make. As Ken notes, these alleged adjustments would have hurt Richmond in 2003-2004.

**But you may not have noticed the change in Lunardi's column since it was first published. I believe I just caught ESPN.com red-handed.

Interestingly, Lunardi appears to have revised (or fudged, but let's give the worldwide leader's "Bracketologist" the benefit of the doubt) his most important assumption, the value he employed as a multiplier. In my original post on Lunardi's work, I excerpted from his piece as follows, suggesting Joe used a multiplier of 1.5.

How would this translate numerically into an RPI rating? Since we know that home teams win roughly two-thirds of the time in Division I, a road victory should be worth about twice as much as winning at home (because, by the numbers, it is twice as hard to achieve).

I'm guessing the new NCAA formula won't go that far (essentially saying that road wins are worth 1.50 victories and home wins are only 0.75), as this would be too dramatic a departure from the "known" without sufficient study of the unknown effects. But we can at least split the difference and reprogram Factor I (winning percentage) to, say, 1.2 "equivalent victories" for road wins and 0.8 equivalent victories for those at home. Similarly, road losses would count as only 0.8 while losing at home would count 1.2.

But in the version currently posted online, Joe seems to have used a multiplier of 1.25.

How would this translate numerically into an RPI rating? Since we know that home teams win roughly two-thirds of the time in Division I, a road victory should be worth about twice as much as winning at home (because, by the numbers, it is twice as hard to achieve).

I'm guessing the new NCAA formula won't go that far (essentially saying that road wins are worth 1.50 victories), as this would be too dramatic a departure from the "known" without sufficient study of the unknown effects. But we can at least split the difference and reprogram Factor I (winning percentage) to, say, 1.25 "equivalent victories" for road wins.

Given that Ken, Joe and I agree that the size of the road game bonus has a significant affect on the impact (or lack there)of the "adjusted RPI," changing multipliers is more than risky business. It's scandalous.

***For even more fun with numbers, read Ken's thoughts on why (1) while home teams win roughly two-thirds of the time in Division I, a road victory should not be worth about twice as much as winning at home and (2) winning percentage has much more influence on the RPI than does strength of schedule.

Go Read

what Wonk says.

Wonk's preview of the 2004-2005 Michigan State Spartans blows the MSM (mainstream media) out of the water. That means you, Blue Ribbon. You too, Gregg Doyel. Not to mention Athlon, Andy Katz and Fran Fraschilla.

Damn. Good. Blogging.

The Votes Are In

Blog Composite
Associated Press
(Writers and Broadcasters)
Date 10/28 11/07 11/08
Kansas1 21
Wake Forest 2 1 2
Georgia Tech 4 4 3
North Carolina 3 3 4
Illinois 5 55
Syracuse 6 6 6
Oklahoma State 8 7 7
Connecticut 7 8 8
Kentucky 9 10 9
Arizona 11 9 10
Duke 12 11 11
Mississippi State 14 13 12
Michigan State 10 12 13
Louisville 13 15 14
Maryland 16 14 15
Texas 15 16 16
Pittsburgh 17 17 17
Alabama 18 21 18
NC State 19 19 19
Notre Dame 21 20 20
Wisconsin 20 18 21
Washington 24 23 22
Florida 22 22 23
Memphis 23 25 24
Gonzaga NR (26) 24 25
Stanford 25 NR (26) NR (26)


The AP preseason college basketball poll is now available. Excepting Alabama and Wisconsin trading places, no team is ranked more than a single spot higher or lower than it was my final preseason composite. Truth in (blog) advertising, indeed.

They Said It

"I know Herb has beaten us five times in a row. Some of the stuff I read about him, it made me think, 'That ain't the Herb Sendek I know.' Every time we play them, Herb has [NC State] prepared to play a heck of a game."
-- Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt

March 13

The Orlando Sentinel fast-forwards to Selection Sunday. An interesting preview of their projected Field of 65. New Mexico, Oregon State, Villanova and Xavier are expected to go dancing.

Going to the Dogs

I normally make few conclusions from exhibition games. But after Georgia beat St. Francis Xavier, a Canadian college team, 69-64, I find it prudent to downgrade expectations for Dennis Felton's crew. The same St. Francis Xavier team lost to Duke by 51 points (107-56) and Davidson by 28 (94-66) earlier this week.

That's What I'm

talking about. The college game is far superior to the pro alternative.

Making an example

out of Curtis Stinson. An appropriate anecdote about player development in the US of A.

The three-pointer in the Olympics became symbolic of the game's different directions. National teams from Argentina, Italy, Spain and Lithuania were about crisp passing, cutting, finding open three-pointers, and everybody on the floor with the ability to knock down the deep jumper.

College basketball is about Iowa State guard Curtis Stinson. He's a wonderful talent who was picked Big 12 freshman of the year last season. Stinson helped Iowa State to a 20-13 record and led an unexpected run to the NIT semifinals. Any team would want him.

Stinson shot 28.8 percent from behind the arc. In Big 12 games, he hit 21.9 percent.

It didn't used to be that way for Stinson. Growing up in the Bronx, Stinson would spend countless hours on the playground firing away from outside. As he grew up, he developed a deadly quick first step. Getting around defenders was no longer a problem, and the slash-and-drive became his game.

“I used to shoot it very, very well,” Stinson said. “But once I could start going to the basket, it was hard to stop me. It was the higher-percentage play, so I stopped shooting.”

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Final Preseason Rankings, Top 25

Pundit or MagazineAndy KatzDime MagSlam Mag*PMI's ACCBlue RibbonLindy's MagStreet & Smith'sBasketball News**ESPNDick VitaleGregg DoyelMike DeCourcyWeighted*** Composite
Wake Forest1134123114211
North Carolina25274353411133
Georgia Tech4241396435764
Syracuse54129674651184 6
Oklahoma State61071221195814157
Michigan State15141319128111615661712
Mississippi State111216209181010112215713
NC StateNR21241118NR12141720192219
Notre Dame161821NR171321NR1915201920

*Slam Magazine ranked only the Top 20. Rather than exclude their rankings, I made selections 21-25 on their behalf.
**Basketball News rankings were produced in conjunction with CBS Sportsline.
***The composite weighs each of the 12 rankings equally.

They Said It

"Only at a place like Vermont could you still be 30 games under .500 [239-269] and keep your job for 18 years."

-- Vermont coach Tom Brennan

Odds & Ends

Paul Hewitt is wisely prohibiting his freshmen from talking to the media until after Georgia Tech's first regular-season game. Better to keep distractions to a minimum --- Dick Vitale recently made some uncharacteristically critical and surprisingly harsh remarks regarding ACC expansion: "It's all about greed. It's all about cash. It's all about dollars. The bottom line is some of the matchups make no logical sense geographically when you look across the American landscape.” --- Chances are that Stanford’s Trent Johnson can (still) dunk. --- The Henry Bibby watch is about to begin at USC. Since taking the Trojans to the Elite Eight several years back, Bibby has directed progressively less successful seasons. With the recent loss of once heralded recruit Rodrick Stewart, it is unlikely USC will amass the talent necessary to make the NCAA Tournament anytime soon. Further, coach Bibby seems increasingly out of touch. Paul Gutierrez of the Los Angeles Times encourages us to read between the lines.

Bibby also said that he wanted the 6-foot-4 sophomore back in the Trojan program. However, about the same time Bibby was saying this, the player was telling a reporter that the decision had already been made and that he was leaving.

3 Days

until national signing day.

Big House,

Big Deal. The pundits are coming around.

Also - grmph - Blogger ate my latest post about Cedric Bozeman's injury being a blessing in disguise for Ben Howland and the UCLA Bruins. I'm seriously considering a move away from blogspot.

I may say that he's a dreamer

but the AP's Jim O'Connell is the only one who would dare mention Purdue and Final Four in the same sentence.