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Archive for January, 2017

Quick Takes: Duke doubles its pleasure with a pair of road wins

January 31, 2017 Leave a comment

Dave2015If you’re old enough to remember the now-retired DoubleMint gum commercials, you’ll understand the headline reference.  If not, never mind. It wasn’t long ago – last week, in fact – that Duke was coming off three losses in five games and had gone winless in its three previous road games.  They were also facing back-to-back road games at Wake Forest and Notre Dame.  Had things not gone so well in Winston-Salem and South Bend, the Blue Devils would have been heading into their upcoming home stretch with an 0-5 road record and sub-.500 Atlantic Coast Conference mark.  But things went quite well and Duke heads home with a chance to re-merge as a contender in the ACC race.  Next up, the Blue Devils host ACC bubble teams Pittsburgh and Clemson along with rival North Carolina.  Getting all three would be ideal, as the Blue Devils closing stretch includes four road games – Virginia, Syracuse, Miami, and UNC. Read more…

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Quick Takes: Resume quirks for Xavier, Indiana

January 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Dave2015It wasn’t a particularly good Thursday night for Xavier or Indiana.  The Musketeers lost the Crosstown Shootout at Cincinnati and the Hoosiers got run over in Ann Arbor.  We’ve seen some odd margins in college hoops this season, and these are both one-game data points on each team’s resume.  But there are a couple of notes worth mentioning while reviewing their profiles …

Xavier’s best statistical wins are Clemson, Wake Forest, Utah, and Providence – which means XU has beaten one NCAA team (Wake Forest) per the January 26 bracket update, and Wake fell in the First Four.  That noted, five of the Musketeers’ six losses are to Top 20 RPI teams.  So it’s not like XU is gagging around.  But if they want to be seeded in the upper half of the bracket, the Musketeers need to beat a couple of the Big East leaders in February.

Indiana has been one of this year’s more confounding teams.  They have two huge wins – Kansas and North Carolina.  But here’s the quirk:  Since taking down UNC at home on November 30, IU has beaten one team (Michigan State at home) in the current bracket. And if you take away the Hoosiers’ home wins against sub-200 RPI opponents, they lose eight wins, which leaves them with a record of 6-7.  Are the Hoosiers’ better than that?  I believe so.  But IU could use a few more quality wins down the stretch.

Categories: Current Updates

Bracketology: Northwestern trying to dance into history

January 26, 2017 Leave a comment

Dave2015You probably don’t remember the last time Northwestern made the NCAA tournament.  That’s because the Wildcats have never enjoyed the Madness of March.  This year’s team could change that, dancing into history in the process.  Entering today, the Wildcats are 5-2 in the Big Ten and look poised to make a run at finally hearing their name called on Selection Sunday.  February is going to be a fun month in Evanston.

Bracketology   |   Seed List  

It was a rocky two days for the top two seed lines, but other than a little re-ordering, the No. 1 seeds remain in tact; that’s what happens when everyone in the group loses (except for Gonzaga, of course).  Also, keep an eye on Arizona.  Those Wildcats look awfully good at full strength. Read more…

Categories: Current Updates

Quick Takes: Important stretch for Duke

January 24, 2017 Leave a comment

Dave2015For Duke, this season hasn’t followed the designated script.  With a handful of top-flight recruits and a host of returning talent, the Blue Devils were a preseason favorite to dominate college hoops and cut down the nets in April.  Then came the injuries, a one-game suspension for Grayson Allen, and the loss of Coach K to back surgery.  And then came Monday night, when the Blue Devils lost at home to NC State for the first time since 1995.  Moreover, it was Duke’s third loss in five games, dropping the Blue Devils to 3-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).  Up next?  A two-game road swing through improved Wake Forest and Notre Dame.  For what it’s worth, Duke is a surprising 0-3 in true road games this season.  Without a win in Winston-Salem or South Bend, the Blue Devils will return home with a 3-6 record in conference play and a date with rival North Carolina on the docket soon after.

It’s way too early (even in late January) to write off the Blue Devils; they could four in a row and make us forget about this unDuke-like stretch.  But these next two weeks are an important stretch for the crew from Durham.  Duke has just three wins against current at-large teams (Florida, Michigan State, Rhode Island), and the Rams are currently among the Last 4 IN.  Time to see how the Blue Devils respond. Read more…

Categories: Current Updates

Quick Takes: Inside the top of the Seed List

January 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Dave2015It’s always fun to talk No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.  This season, we have a particularly high number of potential candidates.  As many as 12-15 teams could end up in play for those coveted eight spots.

For today’s purposes, I’ve selected nine teams to review, with the No. 1 seed line in mind, knowing only four can reside in those slots.  The next four would be No. 2 seeds.  First, let’s take a look at some metrics and composite rankings (since that’s all the rage, these days).  Note: Teams are listed in the order of the current seed list – heading into games on Monday, January 23.  Metric Rankings are through games played on Saturday, January 21 as none of the nine teams below played on Sunday.

Here are the metrics used: Read more…

Quick Takes: Re-evaluating Arizona and Creighton

January 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Dave2015Allonzo Trier returned from suspension on Saturday and the Arizona Wildcats looked the part of a potential No. 1 seed while beating UCLA on its home floor.  In its first game with Maurice Watson, Jr., Creighton fell at home to Marquette, giving up over 100 points to the Golden Eagles.  These are single games on each team’s resume.  But two important questions arise for Selection Committee members:  How do they evaluate Arizona (with Trier back) and Creighton (with Watson, Jr. out for the season)?

The first consideration is two-fold. One, Trier was suspended, not injured.  Thus, Arizona’s resume will stand on its merits – meaning the Wildcats will likely not receive consideration for Trier’s absence in their two losses (Butler, Gonzaga).  Two, Watson, Jr. is injured, sadly, and will miss the rest of the season.  Thus, Committee members will have to evaluate Creighton’s performance from here to Selection Sunday.  They’ll have a month or so monitor the Bluejays as it relates to possible seeding. Read more…

Quick Takes: An early peek at the Bubble

January 21, 2017 Leave a comment

Dave2015It won’t be long before the Bubble returns.  If you’re new to college hoops lingo, the Bubble references teams caught in one of two places: either barely inside the bracket or close enough to be under strong consideration.  Either way, February and March become an agonizing adventure.  The remedy, of course, is to perform well enough to remove yourself from the aforementioned situation.  But as history suggests, that can be much tougher than it appears.

Although Bubble Banter won’t return until February, here’s an early peek at the developing Bubble …

Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)

  • Projected IN: Florida State, North Carolina, Louisville, Notre Dame, Virginia, Duke.
  • Early Bubble: Virginia Tech, Clemson, Wake Forest, Miami-FL, Pittsburgh, NC State, Georgia Tech
  • Notes:  It’s possible the league could tie a record for the most teams to make the NCAAs from one league (11).  My guess would be that three of the Bubble teams make it (9 total), with a fourth right along the cutline.

Read more…