Tuesday, February 27, 2007

NCAA's Dark Horses Euthanized

Yes it is Tuesday and this blog forgot to post.

Resultantly, this blog is going to post some teams that have been eliminated from the NCAAs.

Ivy League: (No conference tournament, out of contention for regular season crown):
Cornell, Columbia, Brown, Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton

Horizon League: (Conference tournament began tonight, these teams lost):
Cleveland State, Detroit, and alas, UW-Milwaukee. It truly was a rebuilding year for the Panthers.

Big South: (Conference tournament began tonight, these teams lost):
Radford, Coastal Carolina, Charleston Southern, Liberty

Independents: (Technically could receive at-large bids, but this is so unlikely this blog is ruling that out):
Utah Valley State, North Dakota State, Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne, Texas-Pan American, New Jersey Tech, Savannah State, South Dakota State, Chicago State, UC-Davis, Winston-Salem State, Longwood

Ohio Valley: (Conference tournament began tonight, these teams lost):
Southeast Missouri State, Morehead State, Tennessee State, Murray State

(These teams hadn't qualified for the OVC tournament):
Jacksonville State, Eastern Illinois, Tennessee-Martin

Big East: (These teams will not qualify for the conference tournament):
South Florida, Cincinnati, Rutgers

This applies to Pun City in that Ivy pick Cornell is out, and Big South backup Coastal Carolina is out. Surprisingly enough, that's the only casualties through Day 1 of Championship Week-plus.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Pun City: Now In Vindication

A bunch of things to get to tonight. First off, check this out. Mark Fox vindicated Pun City by saying "We were a reflection of the coach. We were awful. I didn't do a very good job tonight."

Secondly, nice work for Wisconsin basketball being #1 in the AP poll this week. Maybe not the greatest result in history tonight, but hopefully they bounce back on Sunday in Columbus.

Here's the rest of the random conference auto-bid predictions to follow up from last week:

Sun Belt - Western Kentucky is what Pun City's picking. They feature one of the nation's coolest mascots, Big Red, play in a great arena, E.A. Diddle Arena, and lost in the conference final last year. Hopefully they get over the hump this year. Backup: Last year's champ South Alabama.

Colonial - Virginia Commonwealth. Led by former Florida assistant Anthony Grant, the Rams are doing pretty awesome this year. This and playing in Richmond for their conference tournament means that we could be seeing quite a Rampage come March for the first-year Head Coach. Backup: George Mason! It would be awesome to see a second act of last year's improbable postseason run. The Patriots didn't even make the conference final last year, so maybe they're due.

Patriot - Holy Cross. Bucknell has carried the Patriot League torch the last few years, but Holy Cross pushed them pretty hard last year and the Crusaders bring back most of their arsenal from last year. In the meantime, the Bison aren't as stocked as last season, so this blog is going with Holy Cross. Backup: Bucknell, mainly because there's usually a team that makes it into the tournament a year after they really should, and everyone picks them to win because they think they've still got last year's team. Bucknell would fit right in to that role.

Big Sky - Idaho State just about beat Marquette this year, and probably should have beaten them if not for some questionable calls late in the game. Additionally, the Bengals have an offense that the rest of the conference can't seem to figure out, so this blog projects them into the NCAAs with the auto-bid. Backup: Eastern Washington. Mainly because this blog would like to see Rodney Stuckey, a potential 1st-round pick next year, in the NCAA tournament.

Atlantic 10 - Xavier. The Musketeers have done everything right this year, except for losing their rivalry game versus Cincinnati. This blog thinks they won't just make the tournament, they'll probably advance 1 or 2 rounds once they're in. A backup would be Massachusetts, which combines a great shot-blocker in Stephane Lasme and a great coach in Travis Ford.

Pac-10 - Washington State, despite not having the best "conference-tournament-style" team, this blog saw them win 3 games in 3 days earlier this year, so this blog thinks they can win in Los Angeles. If they don't, this blog is going to select everyone else's pick, UCLA.

Southern - Appalachian State. They've led most of the season, got a big BracketBusters win at Wichita State, and represent the great state of Appalachian. This blog selects Davidson as a backup, since they almost took down Ohio State in last year's tournament and are leading the other division in the SoCon.

Big XII - Texas A & M, since Acie Law IV is a pretty good player and everyone's extremely high on Billy Gillespie as a coach. This blog doesn't see what the big deal is, Texas A & M has beaten Kansas in Lawrence, but that's the only marquee win for the Aggies so far. Well, this blog projects A&M winning the weak Big XII's tournament and giving a lot of pundits a chance to toot their horn, only to collapse when in the NCAAs. Backup - Texas Tech, it'd be awesome to see Bob Knight win their way into the NCAAs and get a week's worth of Knight jabbing with reporters.

Northeast - Central Connecticut State. This is another chance to get a super-long team name and screw up the font on everyone's bracket. If CCSU fails, then this blog thinks Fairleigh Dickinson would fill this role well also.

SEC - Florida. Defending champs, probably wanting to get on a roll entering the big dance, this blog thinks they're up to the challenge. Plus they won last year's SEC tournament when the league was significantly better than this year, so they're probably in good shape for this one. Backup is Kentucky, a team with a surprisingly high RPI (8th in the country) for a team without too much hoopla. Surprisingly low hoopla for a traditional powerhouse also.

ACC - North Carolina. This blog thinks the Tar Heels have a much more athletic team than Duke this year, and also some "spurtability" to go on a run and dominate this tournament. They could also dominate the NCAA tournament, but this blog thinks they're too young to do that this year. Backup: Oof, Duke? This blog only picks them based on Mike Krzyzewski's track record. This blog doesn't trust this year's version of Duke further than Pun City can throw them.

Ohio Valley - Samford. They seem to lead that conference a lot, then fall short in the tournament. Susan Lucci eventually won a Daytime Emmy, so this blog is going with Samford. Backup: Son. Oh wait, um, Austin Peay. Let's Go Peay!

Metro Atlantic - Siena. This would set up a lame NCAA headline of something like "Duke burnt Siena today...." Backup: Marist, this blog thinks they won it last year. Whatever, it's the MAAC.

Mountain West - UNLV. Home cooking, baby! The Runnin' Rebels have the MWC tournament back on their home floor after a few years of playing in Denver. While the omelets might not be as good in Las Vegas, the crowds will be better and definitely more Rebellious. Another good chance to come through: Air Force, one of the best teams that no one talks about. Especially having the dud season they've gotten from Nick Welch, the most underwhelming comeback this side of Curtis Sumpter.

SWAC - Texas Southern, because then we get the "Whoa, there's 5 teams from Texas in the tournament!" "story" to listen to. Every hyperbole is bigger in Texas. Backup: Jackson State.

Western Athletic - Nevada. New Mexico State and Utah State have remote chances at at-large bids this season, but this blog isn't buying that marshland. This blog is buying Nick Fazekas willing his team through a few rounds of the NCAAs, inspite of Mark Fox's less-than-stellar coaching.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Most Auto-Bids This Side of eBay

Trying something new here: Xtreme white! Pun City's going to predict the automatic bid from each conference. This blog realizes it's at a great advantage picking this late in the season, but there's 31 conferences and that's tough enough even if you know the finalists in each tournament.

As a reminder, all automatic bids are determined by the conference tournament winners, with the exception of the Ivy League, which does not hold a conference tournament. Those crazy Ivies send their regular season champion to the NCAAs.

This blog tries to keep track of as many conferences as possible, but it doesn't quite keep track of all of them. For this reason, you can count on the shorter explanations being conferences this blog isn't too huge of an expert on. Here we go with part one, 15 random conferences:

Big Ten: This blog thinks that Wisconsin will win the Big Ten tournament. Bo Ryan isn't a huge fan of the tournament, but the Badgers seem to always end up in the final when they're about to get rooked out of a good seed. This blog wouldn't be surprised if they won the tournament but somehow ended up with a 2 seed, accompanied by some weak explanation from the committee that only infuriates Badger fans more. Then again, maybe Wisconsin just tanks an early round game to rest up for the NCAAs and Indiana storms through the tournament because they need it the most. Pick: Wisconsin Backup: Indiana

Mid Continent Oral Roberts is the pick. This tournament almost isn't fair. It's at the supposedly "Neutral" court at Union High School in Tulsa, which just so happens to be about 5 miles from.....Oral Roberts' campus. While not technically a home court advantage, all of the home fans will be out for their games, and last year's tournament finalist, Chicago State, has left the conference. All this, and ORU's top scorers Caleb Green and Ken Tutt are back. Pick: Oral Roberts Backup: Valparaiso I guess?

Mid American: This blog's going with Ohio. No great reason behind this, mainly being a "homer." This blog is going to watch a game at Ohio on February 24th, so it would be cool to say it saw another tournament team in person. Realistically, this blog isn't thinking the Bobcats can make it, especially after getting pummeled by Akron tonight. Akron on the other hand.... Pick: Ohio Backup: Akron

Conference USA: Memphis. This conference has really fallen off, it's basically Memphis and everyone else. Pundits were right when they predicted that Memphis in the 2000s would become very similar to UNLV in the 1990s, a team that dominated the WAC with no strong opposition. Hopefully Memphis isn't going to get wrung up on major recruiting violations 5 years down the road though. Oh, and did Pun City mention that this tournament is on Memphis's home floor? Well it is, so that's not going to hurt. Pick: Memphis Backup: If this blog were lazy, it would pick UAB. Because it is a sucker for an awesome school fight song, it's going with Central Florida.

Horizon League: Wright State. Everyone else is going to pick Butler here. This blog thinks that Butler very strongly parallels 2004's Pacific team. This was a very fundamentally sound team that scored major upsets with somewhat of a star (Christian Maraker) and a lot of good role players. Butler is a very fundamentally sound team that scored major upsets with a more convincing star (AJ Graves), and a lot of good role players. Pacific rolled through the Big West regular season, ensuring themselves an at-large bid, then lost in the tournament final to Utah State. Butler has already ensured themselves an at-large bid, and based on Wright State having beaten Butler already, this blog is convinced they can repeat the feat and get the Horizon League 2 bids. Pick: Wright State Backup: Butler (This blog wants to say UWM, but they're a year away and this blog can't see them winning 3-4 games in a row on the road).

Ivy League: Cornell. Simply because of the following sentence: Mark Vershaw is an assistant coach there. This blog can smell what the Big Red are cooking. Plus, they're tied with Yale for the lead and hold the tie-breaker. This would be stunning as Pennsylvania and Princeton have won something like the last 10 auto bids out of the Ivy. Pick: Cornell Backup: Pennsylvania

West Coast: Santa Clara. This blog is really convinced that Gonzaga is not going to be able to recover from their psychedelic trip. This was somewhat evident last night as Santa Clara snapped the Bulldogs' 50-game home winning streak. While the tournament will take place in Portland this year, which might lend it to being swarmed by Gonzaga fans, this blog doesn't think it's going to be able to string together 3 wins in a tournament it typically struggles in even when Gonzaga's a powerhouse. Santa Clara is trying to win a tournament for their retiring coach, Dick Davey. This sounds like a pretty cool Tom-Brennan-at-Vermont-esque storyline heading into the NCAAs. Pick: Santa Clara Backup: Oof, Gonzaga? Nah....San Francisco.

Missouri Valley: Missouri State has a veteran team that seems a bit inconsistent. That said, they're playing the tournament in their home state and will more than likely need a few conference tourney wins to ensure a spot in the NCAAs. After getting completely robbed last year with the #21 RPI in the nation apparently not being good enough for an at-large bid, this team doesn't want to give the committee a choice. Recent MVC tournaments have had a track record of teams rising to the occasion to qualify automatically. This blog thinks Missouri State will continue the trend. Pick: Missouri State Backup: Defending champ and top-25 Southern Illinois.

Big South: Winthrop. This blog doesn't know, they always win this thing. Backup: Coastal Carolina maybe? That'd be cool if Coastal coach Buzz Peterson faced his successor Bruce Pearl in the NCAAs.

America East: Vermont. See Winthrop. They always win this conference. Except last year. Backup: Albany.

Southland: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. A pretty good team, plus each year everyone's bracket needs that one team that is too long to fit on the bracket and screws up the font. This is that team. Backup: Sam Houston State

Big East: Marquette seems to be the flavor-of-the-week for pundits choosing a "wild card" Final Four team. This blog can envision a conference title adding fuel to their fire going into Selection Sunday, stirring up a frenzy for these experts. This blog can also see MU's lack of size making them a beatable mark for an early, undersized NCAA opponent. So why don't we pencil them in as Big East conference champs, and this blog will put Louisville in as the backup as a reward for cleaning Pitt's clock last night. (And they brought back Derrick Caracter who seems to be a spark for them).

Mid-Eastern Athletic: Delaware State, they've played everyone who's anyone in the non-conference schedule, then run through the MEAC with an 11-2 record to date. This blog thinks they're ready to dole out some Bluntt-force trauma to MEAC tournament opponents in Raleigh.

Atlantic Sun: Belmont, mainly because they're the home team and have a very experienced coach. Backup: Campbell, because they're the Camels. They should be able to smoke someone.

Big West: Cal-State Fullerton. Long Beach State probably should win, but this blog is guessing that eligibility issues will become too great of a distraction for the 49ers. The Titans have had a pretty strong year, and Pacific is way down. Backup's still Long Beach State though.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Post Atlantic

Here's the Atlantic 10 Preview as promised. All seeds are as they would project today with the current A10 standings:

March 7th, Atlantic City NJ

Noon: 5 Fordham vs. 12 St. Bonaventure - Fordham coach Dereck Whittenberg is famous for air-balling a shot that led to a title-winning dunk in North Carolina State's win in 1983. He would potentially bring his Rams into face St. Bonaventure, a program trying to turn it around after some embarrassing recruiting violations that placed them on probation. Sorry St. Bonaventure, a welding certificate does not count as a Junior College education.

2:30 PM: 6 Saint Louis vs. 11 Charlotte - This blog was in St. Louis last year, although not to see the Billikens. Brad Soderberg, a pretty decent guy that used to coach Wisconsin, will make sure this potential game's score stays at or below 60. The Billikens feature Ian Vouyoukas, a Greek center who (perhaps unwisely) declared for last year's NBA draft, then withdrew after a cool response from scouts. Charlotte is led by head coach Bobby Lutz and leading scorer De'Angelo Alexander, who has a 4-year-old daughter (already?).

6:30 PM: 7 Saint Joseph's vs. 10 Temple - Saint Joseph's, featuring the Hawk that never dies (and flaps its wings an average of 3500 times per basketball game), hoping to advance in the A10 Tournament. Arguably the 2 best coaches in the league if this faceoff happens. Phil Martelli of St. Joseph's and Fran Dunphy of Temple have combined for over 800 total wins, and Dunphy is trying to put his stamp on the Temple program as he did in Penn for the last 17 years.

9:00 PM: 8 Duquesne vs. 9 Dayton - Any game Duquesne plays in will be interesting. Coach Ron Everhart, faced with some tough circumstances this year, decided to scrap everything and bring a new system in mid-year just 5 games ago. The results have been staggering. Points per game before the switch: 68.6. Points per game after the switch: 96.0. Record preceding the switch: 5-10. Record after the switch: 4-1. The only loss was at Massachusetts, 67th in the country in RPI. The Dukes run two lines of 5 at teams, substituting frequently, pressing, running, and gunning. Because Duquesne lost some players to an on-campus shooting before the year, they're doing this all short-handed. Two of the 2nd-line's players are walk-ons. For this reason, Pun City is nominating Everhart for coach of the year over strong candidates like Tony Bennett of Washington State, Ernie Kent of Oregon, and Bo Ryan of Wisconsin. As much as this blog would want to cheer for Duquesne, it would be a little bummed to see them play Dayton, because this blog would be sporting a Dayton Monty Scott jersey for Dayton's games, and would be obligated to root for the Flyers. Given the great tradition at UD, this wouldn't be the worst situation, but there would be a big part of this blog in favor of the Dukes.

March 8th

Noon: 2 Massachusetts vs. 7/10 winner - UMass head coach and former Kentucky sharpshooter Travis Ford has the Minutemen aiming for their first NCAA appearance since Marcus Camby was around. Shotblocker extraordinaire Stephane Lasme has opponents keeping it out of the lane.

2:30 PM: 3 George Washington vs. 6/11 winner. GWU coach Karl Hobbs got Carl Elliott to return for his senior year, and the Colonials have had somewhat of a disappointing season with him back. Though Elliott is averaging 13 points and 5 assists this season, GWU is only 15-6 with the 73rd-best RPI in the country. This means they'll most likely need to win this tournament in order to make the NCAAs this year, which wouldn't be required if they'd have won their games against Providence, USC, and Air Force.

6:30 PM: 1 Rhode Island vs. 8/9 winner - The biggest little state in the union looks to get their opponents beside themselves trying to handle the best Rams team since Lamar Odom was attending class here. Please excuse Pun City while it laughs hysterically at the thought of Odom actually attending class. In any case, Pun City challenges you to find 2 powder blue teams better than Rhode Island.

9:00 PM: 4 Xavier vs. 5/12 winner - A much bigger disappointment than GW this year has been Xavier. The Musketeers swept through the A10 Tournament last year and earned an automatic NCAA bid, one of the 4 lower seeds to upset higher seeds on the 2nd day of the Atlantic 10 tournament in 2006. The team brought back pretty much everyone this year, and added former Oklahoma point guard Drew Lavender to the mix. This blog thinks that it's another case of the Big XII being overrated again, as Lavender hasn't infuchsed this team with the kind of leadership they may have expected, and Xavier has fallen to Cincinnati, Bucknell, Alabama, and Creighton. Not to mention 3 conference foes.

March 9th

6:30 PM & 9:00 PM - Semifinals

March 10th

6:00 PM - Final

Some weird Missouri Valley news there, a gratuitous Erin Andrews photo here:

and a couple Pete Gillen quotes to take us home:

(Gillen of course is a former Virginia head coach and current CSTV analyst best known for his quote, "Duke is Duke. They're on TV more than Leave it To Beaver.")

"Never kick a dog when a dog's a pup. Because you better run for cover when the dog grows up."


"I haven't been right since the Dead Sea was alive."

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