Friday, March 31, 2006
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
CAA and MVC Make Post Season Mark
Everyone is giving all the attention to George Mason (and deservedly so). But the CAA and MVC Conferences need some attention as well. They have both had excellent post seasons, not only in the Field of 65, but in the NIT as well.
Post Season Record: 9-3 (1 win and 1 loss came from a head to head match up of Old Dominion and Hofstra in the NIT)
Records versus Conferences and who they beat/lost to:
A-10: 1-1 Beat St. Joe's, lost to George Washington
ACC: 1-0 Beat North Carolina
Big 10: 1-1 Beat Michigan State, lost to Michigan
Big 12: 2-0 Beat Colorado and Nebraska
Big East: 1-0 Beat Connecticut
MAAC: 1-0 Beat Manhattan
MVC: 1-0 Beat Wichita State
Post Season Record: 7-6
Records versus conferences and who they beat/lost to:
ACC: 0-1 Lost to Miami (FL)
Big 12: 1-0 Beat Kansas
Big East: 2-3 Beat Seton Hall and Pittsburgh. Lost to Louisville, West Virginia and Georgetown
CAA: 0-1 Lost to George Mason
C-USA: 1-1 Beat Houston, lost to Memphis
MAC: 1-0 Beat Akron
Pac 10: 1-0 Beat Stanford
SEC: 1-0 Beat Tennessee
And lets not forget a couple of other small school wins agaisnt bigger opponents, such as:
Northwestern State over Iowa
Manhattan winning at Maryland
This is only the beginning. Let this be a wake-up call to those who weren't ready.
Greatest Final Four Run Ever?
Andy Katz claims that the Patriots run to the Final Four is the greatest ever. It has a tru Cinderella feel that we haven't seen in 26 years (Penn in '79). They had a low seed (11), they're from a school more known for academics (two Nobel Prizes) than athletics, and out of a conference (The CAA) that before this year most sports fans not from the East coast (and probably a lot of East Coasters as well) would have trouble naming two schools from.
So is this the greatest run to the Final Four? Would anyone like to take a stab at a better one? I would love to hear any suggestions.
NCAA Tourney All Mid-Major Team
Here is a list of my all Mid-Major Team from the NCAA Tourney. There was one stipulation. Your team had to play at least 2 Tournament games. Also, it was a hard list to put together. There were a lot of deserving players. So I would like some input from you on who I left out that should be on the team. Thanks. Enjoy and pass it on.
Two things really jumped out at me when compiling this list. First, I was surprised at how many underclassmen there were contributing so much. Everyone always talks about how the Mid-major rosters are full of Seniors who stay for four years and that is why they are good. There may be a lot of Seniors, but it's the Sophmores and Juniors who seem to be making the biggest splash. Second, there are a lot of 6-6 to 6-9 Forwards who really brought it. There is an abundance of good swing players amongst these schools.
G - Luke Rogers, 6-1 Jr Northwestern State
Key stats - 7.5 pts, 7 assts, 3.5 rebs, 1.5 stls
Note - All teams need a guy who can distribute
G - Folarin Campbell, 6-4 So George Mason
Key stats - 16.8 points, 5 rebs, 3.25 assts
Note - Leads upstart Patriots in scoring and assists
F - Adam Morrison, 6-8 Jr Gonzaga
Key stats - 24.3 pts, 5.3 rebs, 2 assts
Note - Led Bulldogs in scoring and had 9 in the last 3:30 of the Xavier game
F - Omar Williams, 6-9 Sr George Washington
Key Stats - 15 points, 12 rebs, 1.5 assts
Note - Consistently good in both games against Wilmington and Duke
C - Patrick O'Bryant, 7-0 So Bradley
Key Stats - 14.7 pts, 10.3 rebs
Note - Led the Braves in rebounding and looked smooth for a 7 footer
G - Daniel Ruffin, 5-10 So Bradley
Key Stats - 7.3 pts, 5 assts, 1.7 stls
Note - Did an excellent job spreading the ball around
G - Lamar Butler, 6-2 Sr George Mason
Key Stats - 16 pts, 3.2 rebs, 1.2 assts
Note - Consistent scoring, sharp shooting assasin has hit 11-22 (50%) from 3
F - Will Thomas, 6-7 So George Mason
Key Stats - 13.8 pts, 10.5 rebs
Note - Averaging a double-double through 4 Tourney games is no small task
F - Marcellus Sommerville, 6-7 Sr Bradley
Key Stats - 19 pts, 7 rebs
Note - Led team in scoring and had nice touch from the outside (7-15 on 3s)
C - J.P. Batista, 6-9 Sr Gonzaga
Key Stats - 18.7 pts, 8.7 rebs, 1.3 stls
Note - Extremely consistent, scoring 20, 18 and 18 in 3 games
Paul Miller, 6-10 Sr C Wichita State - 13.7 pts, 8 rebs
Note - Led Shockers in scoring and rebounding
Mike Hall, 6-8 Sr F George Washington - 13 pts, 8 rebs, 2.5 assts
Note - Nice all around game for Colonials
Kyle Wilson, 6-8 Jr F Wichita State - 12.7 pts, 7 rebs
Note - Numbers parallel teammate Miller's
Andrew Strait, 6-8 So F Montana - 16.5 pts, 3 rebs, 4 assts
Note - Had big assist day with 7 against Nevada
Sean Ogirri, 6-2 So Wichita State - 13 pts, 3.3 assts, 3.3 rebs
Note - Did a bit of everything for Sweet 16 Shockers
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Patriot Act is Gaining Support
George Mason 86
Connecticut 84 (OT)
Did you see that game? Seriously. Few are ever any better. I admit I was extremely concerned when the Huskies forced over-time, but George Mason played the way they had played all game to gut out an 86-84 OT win.
It just goes to show what desire, determination, hot shooting, and a partisan crowd can do for a club. And the fact that they outrebounded UConn is a testiment to the effort that they put in.
No mid-major has made the final four since 1979. Indiana State (led by Larry Bird) and Penn both made it. But Indiana State was a number 1 seed. The llth seeded Patriots tied the all-time record for lowest seed to reach the Final Four. LSU had held the spot previously.
By the way. Just an observation, but it seems to me that throughout the Tournament Jim Nantz has been owning up to his comments and even poking fun at himself. That I like. Billy Packer talking nice about George Mason and the CAA seems completely insincere.
But anyway... What great effort. Their win was well deserved. Now they face a suddenly surging Florida team led by one of the most athleic big men that we have seen this year in the form of Joakim Noah. But that will come later. For now, the Patriots, and the CAA, get to enjoy the spotlight for another week.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Then There Was One
LSU (SEC) and UCLA (PAC-10) have already punched their tickets to Indy. The Minneapolis bracket features Villanova (Big East) vs. Florida (SEC). The only school not from a power conference left dancing is George Mason. The Patriots advanced to the Elite 8 with a 63-55 win over Wichita State.
Now George Mason faces a taller task, literally, as it gets set to take on the UConn Huskies. UConn got here by surviving an Over-Time thriller against Washington.
With a formidable inside game, the Huskies will be tough to handle. Hopefully the hot shooting can continue and George Mason can ride the wave of home court advantage and a strong crowd supporting it, through at least one more game. Here's one for the dreamers and the believers. Do they have a shot against the Huskies?
"Anything," George Mason coach Jim Larranaga said, "is possible."
Go Patriots. You have the backing of everyone who has ever gone against the odds. And the backing of those who just want to see someone shove it up Billy Packer's ass one last time.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Braves Go Down to Tigers (Thanks for the Ride)
The Bradley Braves surprise run to the Sweet 16 ended with an 80-64 loss to the Memphis Tigers. The Braves kept it close through the first half, trailing by 5, 35-30, at the half.
Ultimately, it came down to shooting as the Tigers made 31 of 60 shot attempts (51.7%) to the Braves 20-60 (33.3%). Memphis had 3 players in double figures, being led by game high scorerRodney Carney's 23.
Bradley knocked off two schools from the so-called power conferences (Big 12's Kansas in the first round, Big East's Pittsburgh in the second round) before falling to Memphis out of Conference USA. Which, by the way, is not a Power conference. Why does no one ever mention Memphis, UAB or Gonzaga when talking about Mid-majors? Just because you have developed a winning program does not mean that you are no longer a mid-major.
Memphis now advances to take on UCLA. But for the Braves, it was a hell of a ride. From me, for everyone out there, thanks for the ride. And thanks for sticking it up Billy Packer's ass. It's been fun. We'll be watching next year.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Wichita State vs. George Mason Preview
Wichita State (7) Vs.
George Mason (11)
This is being called the biggest game in Mid-Major history. It may very well be, with a school from either the MVC or the CAA gauranteed to advance to the Elite 8.
The two teams won their first two games in different fashion. George Mason limited its opponents, Michigan State and North Carolina, to an average of 62.5 points. Wichita State won their first two games with an offensive outpouring of 86 and 80 against Seton Hall and Tennessee, repsectively.
Both teams have used an entire team effort throughout the year. The Shockers have 4 players averaging in double figures, with a number of players putting up solid production off the bench. The Patriots have 5 players averaging in double figures. That's what makes these two teams so difficult to beat is they both have a wide array of players who can step up.
And these two teams are familiar with each other, having already played this year in the ESPN Bracketbuster. (Talk about hitting the nail on the head with that one.) George mason won that game 70-67 at Wichita State on Feb. 18. This time the game is a virtual home game for the Patriots as they get to play in Washington, D.C.
As to which team shall prevail... I'll leave that up to the teams to decide. I don't even want to wager a guess right now. I'm just going to sit back (well, sit on the edge of my seat actually) and enjoy this game. Anyone else want to make a prediction?
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Good Article, Bad Title
This is a special article to ESPN.com by Kyle Whelliston on the George Mason and Wichita State matchup. While I don't agree with calling this game the Mid-Major Super Bowl, I do think the article is extremely well done. Seriously, a well written article. You should check it out.
George Mason head coach Jim Larranaga had this to say about Billy Packer and Jim Nantz:
"And ask them how many times they saw George Mason play this year? Definitely not in person. Probably didn't even watch any video on us, so they had no idea going into Selection Sunday what George Mason is all about."
He had more to say as well. And he said it very well and very intelligently. The more I read about him, the more I really like him.
Let's Look at Some Numbers
Mike DeCourcy from the Sporting News had an interesting article last week that I missed about the mid-major teams seeded near the bottom of the NCAA Tournament. It's a short read and worth it.
"in the past five years, 19 teams seeded 11th or lower won NCAA Tournament games -- and only one, Missouri, was from a big-money conference."
Putting Billy Packer's tirade to the test
I saw it posted somewhere that CBS was switching Nantz and Packer from the Washington, D.C. bracket (with GM playing WS) to the Minneapolis bracket.
Has anyone else scene this? Can anyone confirm this? I keep looking around for an official source.
Pat Forde of ESPN.com put together a piece that gives his fealings on the amount of pressure that the 16 teams left are feeling. Here are 3:
BradleyPressure gauge: 1
With one NCAA Tournament win in the previous 50 years, they're playing with house money in Peoria. Beating Big 12 tournament champion Kansas in the first round was a season-making victory for a team that barely got in the tournament. Following that with an upset of Big East power Pittsburgh was off the charts. Coach Jim Les said the right things Sunday about not being satisfied with getting this far, but let's be real: The Braves are plenty satisfied.
George MasonPressure gauge: 1
What could go wrong now? A flat tire on the bus ride from Fairfax, Va., to the MCI Center in D.C.? Beating defending champion North Carolina to reach this point was the greatest moment in program history. The Patriots can relax and enjoy their sudden celebrity this week, as the world discovers the joy of Jai Lewis. But the ride might not be over yet, with Wichita State up next. George Mason beat the Shockers on the road in BracketBusters just a few weeks ago. A regional final would be pure fantasy.
Wichita StatePressure gauge: 2
Coach Mark Turgeon's unburdening to ESPN.com's Andy Katz on Saturday showed the immense joy and relief that went into making it this far. Everything is a bonus from this point forward, but the way the Shockers have played getting here, and with a No. 11 seed up next, there suddenly is a legitimate expectation of a regional final. Who could have imagined that five months ago?
Monday, March 20, 2006
Billy Packer versus Craig Littlepage
Most of America did not like the seedings by the Selection committee headed by Craig Littlepage. In fact he took a lot of heat. But in the end, it was idiotic comments by Billy Packer that will end up being most remembered.
How could he not have seen an MVC game? And even more disturbing, how could he make the comment that he didn't need to see them to know about the strength of the conference relative to the other conferences.
Billy also tried to give us a history lesson (which was extremely flawed). But in the end, I hope he learns a lesson about history. It is not an accurate predictor of future sporting event outcomes. Remember, you can't stand in the same river twice. Apply that lesson to the brackets.
So in retrospect, this tournament will be much more damning for Billy Packer than Craig Littlepage in my mind. What do you think?
Deadspin Not Loving the Pac(ker)-Man
Deadspin.com has been having some fun taking cheap shots at Billy Packer. And honestly, who hasn't?
This is what was part of a post after the first round of games:
"We’ve come completely around on this Billy Packer thing; we now can’t imagine college basketball without him. Sure, he’s loathsome, stubborn and almost always wrong. We find these qualities to be what make up his charm. He’s that crazy old man, squawking — “BWAH! BWAAAAHHHHH!” — about the way things ought to be, never giving an inch, too damned old to apologize, throwing elbows everywhere, out of my way, BWAAHHHHH! We want everything he says to continue to be wrong, and we want him to do it forever."
This from the Kentucky-UConn game he was doing.
And this from right after Bradley's win over Pittsburgh.
Dickie V.'s Backhanded Shot at Billy Packer?
Dickie V. had a special article to ESPN.com that was posted on Sunday where he says:
"Bradley and Wichita State have sent a message to those critics who questioned the strength of the Missouri Valley Conference. My friends, they are legitimate, and separating the top six teams in that conference is difficult. That's how good the league was this season."
For the full article, go here.
Brad is Better Than Pitt
Bradley, the fourth team in out of the MVC proved they were worthy of a bid by beating two top 20 RPI Teams. First by downing Big 12 Champion Kansas and then by beating Pittsburgh. That would be a Big 12 and a Big East team for those of you playing along at home.
The Braves were too much for Kansas as they Rocked the Jayhawks and Chalked up a win, 77-73. Bradley, as was the case for all the Mid-Majors throughout the Tournament, didn't play like they were honored just to be there. They jumped on Kansas and led by 10, 37-27 at the half and never relinquished the lead. The Braves, with more Upper Classmen, looked more prepared for the pace and action of the Tournament.
The Pitt Panthers looked great in their first game, crushing Kent State. But the Bradley Braves were a different team altogether. They looked ready to play, and they were as they held on 72-66. The Braves used an 18-4 run early in the second half to break a 35-35 tie and would never trail again.
For those not familiar with SR. Marcellus Sommerville and SO. Patrick O'Bryant, welcome. Sommerville averaged 19.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in the wins, while OBryant was unstoppable against Pitt with 28 points. And the Braves have gotten great production off the bench. Will Franklin dropped 14 points and 6 assists on Kansas, while Lawrence Wright contributed 14 points and 9 rebounds against Pitt.
They now get ready for a matchup with number 1 seeded Memphis in Oakland on Thursday at 7:30.
Shock Me, Shock Me, Shock Me With That Deviant Behavior!
There will be no "Wichita State 'Shocked' The World" comments here. I have nothing against bad puns. It's more the fact that it is not a shock. Is it a surprise? Maybe. A shock? Definately not.
But either way, what matters is that they advanced to the Sweet 16 with an 80-73 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers. Bruce Pearl was surprised when his team got a 2 seed, but it worked out great for Mark Turgeon and the Shockers who, as many so-called "Mid-Majors", where not the least bit intimidated by schools from the power conferences.
Wichita State got to the Round of 32 by beating the snot out of an outplayed Seton Hall Pirate team, 86-66. The Shockers got out early and never looked back. The Bench came up big for Wichita State as well, outscoring Seton Hall's bench 22 to 8.
For those of you keeping track at home, those would be victories for an MVC school over a Big East school and an SEC school.
The great thing about the Shockers (besides a totally steeped name) is that you can't pinpoint one player as the key performer in their two wins. In the game against Seton Hall, Sean Ogirri led the way with 23 points and 5 assists. Paul Miller also had a great game, going for 15 points and 7 rebounds. In the Tennessee game it was P.J. Cousinard leading the way with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists with help from Kyle Wilson's 17 and 6. For the Tourney, all 4 players are averaging double figures scoring and a solid rebounding and assist total. (And that doesn't even mention Ryan Martin off the bench who has put in 10 each game.)
Another total team effort will be needed to get by one of America's other new favorites, the George Mason Patriots who they meet in the next round to advance to the Elite Eight.
By George, I Think They've Got It!
George Mason 65
North Carolina 60
George Mason did their "Patriotic Duty" (sorry for the bad pun) and knocked off North Carolina 65-60 to advance to the Sweet 16. The Patriots previously beat the Michigan State Spartans 75-65 in the first round. That would be victories for a team from the Colonial League over teams from the ACC and the Big Ten for those of you keeping track.
George Mason has gotten it done with defense so far. They have given up an average of 62.5 pts per game in their two tournament wins.
Individually, Folarin Campbell has stepped up big, averaging 18 points, 7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game so far. Will Thomas has also shown up strong through the first weekend, averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds, including 18 and 14 against Michigan State in the first round.
They now move on to the Ulitmate "Up Yours Billy Packer" Matchup as they face Wichita State from the MVC in the Sweet 16 for the honor to move on to the Elite 8.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
I guess I should tell you just what exactly this blog is about and what information it will contain. The truth of the matter is that I do not know what exactly will be put up here. Part of that is up to you.
I just wanted a place where people could come together and voice their displeasure for a man who makes it his job to be a loud-mouth jackass who thinks he know it all.
And after the first weekend of games, thanks in part to Bradley, Wichita State and George Mason, it seems like he knows very little. Hey Billy, how many of those Big Ten teams from a BCS conference that you like so much made it to the Sweet 16?