28 March 2010

Thanks for nothing Baylor

We will have to endure more Duke talk and watch wojo and Collins hop off the bench. We will have to watch mikey k squeeze some more diamonds from his puckered derier and dukie floor slaps. Worst of all we will have to suffer through more gloating from the insufferable dukie fans. Fuck me.

26 March 2010

On the Elite Eight

Big Ten
Expected Sweet 16 Result: 1-2
Actual Sweet 16 Result: 1-2
Analysis: OSU disappointed but MSU surprised. We hate to say we told you so, but we told you so. The Big Ten is who we thought they were.....

Expected Sweet 16 Result: 1-1
Actual Sweet 16 Result: 2-0
Analysis: As we foreshadowed in our previous recap the SEC enters the Elite 8 smelling like a rose. Same might be said come Sunday with two very winnable games for KY and TN.

Expected Sweet 16 Result: 2-0
Actual Sweet 16 Result: 2-0
Analysis: The Big XII is finally living up to its billing. Imagine if Kansas hadn't been upset? KSU is tough on defense and opportunistic on offense. Sounds alot like Butler, their next opponent...

Big East
Expected Sweet 16 Result: 2-0
Actual Sweet 16 Result: 1-1
Analysis: The Big East is the Big Least. Syrexcuse is baaaaack. WVU has a tough game against Kentucky to help the conference regain some of its face.

Expected Sweet 16 Result: 1-0
Actual Sweet 16 Result: 1-0
Analysis: Duke won as expected. Yawn. Purdue is nothing more than a Sweet 16 team without Hummel. Oh puke! I just heard Seth Davis tooting Scheyer's horn. Baylor better expose these losers for who they are.....

West Coast
Expected Sweet 16 Result: 0-1
Actual Sweet 16 Result: 0-1
Analysis: Boo!!!!!! St Mary's cinderella story came to crashing halt against Baylor. Thanks for the memories, Gaels.

Pac 10
Expected Sweet 16 Result: 0-1
Actual Sweet 16 Result: 0-1
Analysis: Washington's loss was to be expected against a rugged WVU team. Not a good year for the Pac 10 by any stretch, but the conference's demise was greatly exaggerated.....

The rest
Butler continued to expose the Big East as a fraud with the victory over Syracuse, Cornell lost to Kentucky in a game that reminds us that great disparities of talent usually make a difference, and Northern Iowa lost to MSU which happens to many very good teams this time of year. Last year NU defeated the eventual national runnerup. Here's hoping that Butler (and MSU) make it to the Final Four so that we can take some solace that the losses against those teams were pretty understandable in retrospect.

Yes, even if that make Seth Davis' early prediction of Butler in the Final Four ring true. Besides that tool didn't even pick them in his actual bracket so it's hard to give him much credit. Give us many bites at the apple and we can pick and choose predictions that makes us look good too!

25 March 2010

On NCAAs and Conference Performance up to Sweet 16

Big East

Teams: 8
Expected 1st Round Result: 7-1
Actual 1st Round Result: 4-4
Expected 2nd Round Result: 4-0
Actual 2nd Round Result: 2-2
Analysis: The Big East with the number of admitted teams and high seeds was set up to fail. And fail it has. Major disappointment. Syracuse and WVU carry the flag into the Sweet 16, and both teams have injury considerations.


Teams: 7
Expected 1st Round Result: 6-1
Actual 1st Round Result: 5-2
Expected 2nd Round Result: 3-2
Actual 2nd Round Result: 2-3
Analysis: The Big XII was the conference with the second highest number of bids. It has slightly underperformed but not nearly to the extent that the Big East has. The biggest disappointment has to be the loss by #1 overall seed Kansas in the 2nd round. Kansas St and Baylor hope to carry the flag into the Sweet 16, and both very well could make it into the weekend with seemingly favorable matchups.


Teams: 6
Expected 1st Round Result: 3-3
Actual 1st Round Result: 4-2
Expected 2nd Round Result: 2-2
Actual 2nd Round Result: 1-3
Analysis: Perennial media favorite ACC has performed about as expected though the conference is down to pinning hopes on #1 seed Duke. Duke doesn't blow us away with its talent but a very favorable region could very well mean they make it to the Final Four as expected for a #1 seed.

Big Ten

Teams: 5
Expected 1st Round Result: 4-1
Actual 1st Round Result: 4-1
Expected 2nd Round Result: 3-1
Actual 2nd Round Result: 3-1
Analysis: Big Ten fans point to having the most teams in the Sweet Sixteen (3) as vindication for perceived slights by media/fans across the country. Say what? Here's a newsflash to those folks crowing: the Big Ten was supposed to have three teams at this point. Let's see what happens over the next four days before getting ahead of ourselves now shall we?


Teams: 4
Expected 1st Round Result: 3-1
Actual 1st Round Result: 2-2
Expected 2nd Round Result: 1-1
Actual 2nd Round Result: 2-0
Analysis: SEC was a little bruised by Vandy's loss to Murray St in Round 1 but are now feeling a little better about themselves as Tennessee unexpectedly made it into the Sweet 16. Kentucky is an obvious front runner but may feel like they're playing a team from Mars in their Sweet 16 matchup against Cornell. Both KY and TN may make it to the Elite 8 or beyond.

Mountain West

Teams: 4
Expected 1st Round Result: 3-1
Actual 1st Round Result: 2-2
Expected 2nd Round Result: 1-1
Actual 2nd Round Result: 0-2
Analysis: The Selection Committee may be feeling a bit burned by their decision to admit four teams from the MWC. Their reward for being so generous to the interior westerners? Zero teams in the Sweet 16. This disappointing performance by a mid major conference could come back to haunt them during selection committee deliberations next year.

Atlantic 10

Teams: 3
Expected 1st Round Result: 3-0
Actual 1st Round Result: 1-2
Expected 2nd Round Result: 0-1
Actual 2nd Round Result: 0-1
Analysis: The A10 received the second most invites of the mid major conferences. As was the case with the MWC, the A10 invites next year may suffer based on the results this year. Sure the A10 wasn't supposed to have any teams in the Sweet 16, but a poor first round performance coupled with no big upsets is sure to underwhelm college basketball observers and reinforce the notion that mid majors don't belong in the NCAAs (but do well in the NIT -- the A10 has two of the final four teams in that also ran tourney!).

West Coast

Teams: 2
Expected 1st Round Result: 1-1
Actual 1st Round Result: 2-0
Expected 2nd Round Result: 0-2
Actual 2nd Round Result: 1-1
Analysis: The conference that brought us delight so many years ago when Gonzaga burst onto the national scene is at it again. Gonzaga has long since been recognized for its strong program but now it is St Mary's, still alive in the Sweet 16, that has people all excited about west coast basketball (something needed to fill the Pac 10 void!). The WCC continues to do well by mid majors around the country.

Pac 10

Teams: 2
Expected 1st Round Result: 1-1
Actual 1st Round Result: 2-0
Expected 2nd Round Result: 0-2
Actual 2nd Round Result: 1-1
Analysis: The Pac 10 took its lumps all season and was actually expected to only get one team into the NCAAs. Washington sneaked in by winning their conference tourney, and they have shown themselves worthy as they are playing in the Sweet 16. The Pac 10 has actually acquitted itself pretty nicely in this tourney, but we intentionally put them below the WCC, despite similar NCAA performances, as a shout out to mid major fans across the Carmody Court Continuum.


Teams: 2 (each)
Expected 1st Round Result: 0-2
Actual 1st Round Result: 0-2
Expected 2nd Round Result: NA
Actual 2nd Round Result: NA
Analysis: We lump these two mid major conferences together because of their similarities in number of teams invited and the performances in the tourney. Suffice it to say that performance in this year's tourney doesn't merit individual attention. Hopes for big first round upsets by teams from these conferences fell horribly flat. Maybe these conferences will only get one bid each next year.

The rest

Six teams from the following one bid conferences, the Colonial (ODU), the Horizon (Butler), the Ivy (Cornell), the MAC (Ohio), the MVC (Northern Iowa), the Ohio Valley (Murray St) have given college basketball fans the red meat they so desire from the Big Dance. Each of these teams scored first round wins (only Butler was expected to win) and three of these underdog teams (Butler, Cornell, Northern Iowa) are still alive. You better believe the nation will eschew their brackets littered with red ink and pull for Cornell to score the big upset against Kentucky and for Northern Iowa to be rewarded for its upset of Kansas by also making road kill out of Michigan State. We know that we will.

19 March 2010

NU season ends in Kingston

URI slowly pulled away from Northwestern en route to a 76-64 victory. Once again defense was Northwestern's (20-14, 7-11) Achilles heel. This time it was freshman bomber Akeem Richmond who stuck several daggers into the Wildcats.

So the focus again switches away from NU for the next couple of weeks as teams battle in the NCAAs. This is our favorite time of the year as we can't wait to hear what that moron Seth Davis has to say.

Let's see if Butler makes that Final Four run he infamously predicted at the beginning of the season. His love for the Big East looks to be right on the money per usual for him. And his call that Spokane was going to be the site of big upsets today is off to rousing start (Purdue is easily handling Siena).

Along the way we'll do the conference recaps. The Big Ten had no games yesterday so we'll kick that off soon enough now that first blood has been drawn today.

15 March 2010

Better Know an Opponent: University of Rhode Island

On Wednesday March 17 #7 seed Northwestern (20-13, 7-11 Big Ten) travels to Kingston to take on the #2 seed University of Rhode Island (23-9, 9-7 Atlantic 10). Television coverage will be provided on ESPNU. WGN-AM 720 and wgnradio.com will have the radio coverage.

URI Quick Facts:
Location: Kingston, RI
Arena: Ryan Center (they have their own version of Pat Ryan -- read on)
Official Nickname: Rams
Coach: Jim Baron (9th season)
Team Colors: Light Blue, Dark Blue and White
Mascot: Rhody the Ram (created in 1974 after the last live ram died in "the accident")
Conference: Atlantic 10 (A-10)
Student Population: 19K
Famous Alums: Several NBA alums headlined by Lamar Odom, a couple of golfers, John King, Christiane Amanpour, Thomas Ryan (CVS CEO, namesake of new arena).

One would expect URI to have a long and rich history given its location in the original 13 colonies, right? Certainly they have more history than some school that is located in the former northwest territory, no? Errr, try again. URI was charted in 1888 as an agricultural school and was originally known as the Rhode Island College oF Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. The school was eventually renamed to the University of Rhode Island in 1951.

The school is proud of its engineering and nursing programs as well as its graduate program in oceanography. Why are there no famous oceanographers or nurses hailing from Kingston? It would be cool to see a Clara Barton or a Jacques Cousteau show up on the notable alumni list would it not?

Projected Starting Five:

G Marquis Jones 6'1" 200 #5 Jr.
G Keith Cothran 6'4" 195 #22 Sr.
G Lamonte Ulmer 6'6" 215 #15 Sr.
F Delroy James 6'8" 220 #21 Sr.
C Will Martell 7'0" 245 #32 Jr.

The Rams go eight deep with the likes of Steve Mejia (5'9" Soph guard), Akeem Richmond (6'1" Fresh guard), and Orion Outerbridge (6'9" Soph forward) each playing over 1/3rd of available minutes.

Only Akeem Richmond is particularly efficient from distance (39%). Lamonte Ulmer and Will Martell take many high percentage shots from "close in". Keith Cothran is the steady senior leader who is most involved in the offense but protects the ball. Delroy James is also a fixture on offense and a stat sheet stuffer ala Drew Crawford.

These Rams are unlike any animal that NU played this year. On offense, they resemble Illinois in terms of efficiency, tempo, and point distribution. They do manage to rebound the offensive glass better than the Illini. On defense they are most similar to Michigan, though they are a poor man's version at that. They are significantly less efficient than the Wolverines but are similar in terms of turnover percentage, offensive rebounding defense, and their overall softness inside.

The key to this game will be NU's ability to exploit the Rams' weakness on the interior defense, protect the ball, and control the pace of play. On offense, we will need to safely navigate the organized chaos that the Rams throw at their opponents. Juice Thompson -- we're looking at you!

Once the ball is brought safely into the front court, NU will need to pound the ball down low to Luka Mirkovic and John Shurna. Some good interior passing between the two would be a great way to neutralize Will Martell's shot blocking ability. Finally, NU will want to play a base matchup zone most of the game as URI is not adept at running its half court offense. There's no use in going heavy on 1-3-1 against a team that is good at protecting the ball. We suggest sprinkling in the 1-3-1 as a change up as well as a three quarter court press if it appears URI is getting comfortable against the base matchup zone.

What to expect? NU was 2-1 against NIT teams including a victory at NC State. Although we expect Vegas to make NU about a 5 point dog we still like NU's chances.

Northwestern nets NIT bid, travels to URI on Wednesday

The NIT loves us. They really, really love us. In a somewhat surprising move, the NIT selected Northwestern with its last at large bid despite an RPI of 116. We're glad Jim Phillips got our message about hammering home the importance of the Sagarin and Pomeroy statistics as they definitely shed NU in a better light.

There hasn't always been this love affair between the NIT and NU. Back in the days when NIT wasn't run by the NCAAs and was most concerned with making Benjamins Northwestern was treated by the NIT selection committee like a red headed step child. One year NU finished at .500 in the Big Ten but was left out of the NCAAs in favor of questionable teams such as Manhattan. Excuses like a poor finish and poor RPI were thrown out as excuses, but we know the real reason: NU's poor home attendance.

More on NU's second consecutive NIT berth to come......

12 March 2010

brief post from indianapolis

Iphone is great but not best for long posts. Yesterday nu woke up in 2nd half to beat pathetic iu by 15 in btt and now take on purdue tonight. nu has had success against purdue so there it hope.

We hope luka and drew feel better. We need them to contribute. Hummel is out for purdue so that helps nu's cause.

Go cats.

08 March 2010

Big Ten Power Rankings as of March 8 2010

1. Ohio State (14-4)
Last week OSU defeated Illinois at home. No change.

2. Wisconsin (13-5)
UW defeated Iowa at home and won at Illinois. Plus one.
3. Michigan State (14-4)
Last week MSU narrowly defeated Penn State and Michigan at home. Minus one.

4. Purdue (14-4)
PU defeated Indiana at home and narrowly won at Penn State. No change.

5. Illinois (10-8)
Last week UI lost at Ohio State and were skunked by Wisconsin at home. Channeling our inner Dennis Green, "they are who we thought they are." No change.

6. Minnesota (9-9)
Last week UM lost at Michigan and defeated Iowa at home. No change.

7. Northwestern (7-11)
Last week NU lost at Indiana in OT. No change.

8. Michigan (7-11)
Last week UM defeated Minnesota at home and lost at Michigan State. No change.
9. Penn State (3-15)
Last week PSU lost to two close games at Michigan State and at home to Purdue. If we were to wipe the slate clean the Nit Wits would be ranked fifth. Too bad for them it don't work that way. No change
10. Iowa (4-14)
Last week Iowa imploded and were blown out in roadies at Minnesota and Wisconsin. No change.
11. Indiana (4-14)
Last week IU lost at Purdue and defeated Northwestern at home. These guys really are bad which says just how we feel about NU's play to end the season. No change.

05 March 2010

Countdown to Northwestern at Indiana

Northwestern travels to The Hall to take on Indiana at 11:00AM Central on Saturday March 6. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network and radio coverage is on WGN 720-AM and wgnradio.com.

The game is yet again being built up as a potentially historic game for NU. In its last game, Northwestern (19-11, 7-10 Big Ten) won a record 19th game this season as it bombed lowly Chicago State into submission to the tune of 72-49. That hollow victory gives NU the opportunity to win its 20th game against Indiana.

There really isn't anything special about win #20 other than it is a round number. Does it really mean much that Northwestern racked up 12 wins against relatively poor non-conference opponents this year? No. What's more telling to us is that NU is gunning for its eighth conference win on Saturday. This is the same conference win total as last year, and a win tomorrow would mark the third time during Bill Carmody's tenure that NU won eight conference games during the regular season.

In fact the first time NU made it to eight wins during the 2003-04 season is arguably more impressive since there were only 16 conference games back then. The most telling part about how little the 20th victory plateau means this year is that, unlike last year, there is no hope of an at-large bid for the NCAAs on the eve of the last game of the regular season.

In any event Northwestern looks to win at Assembly Hall where it embarrassed the Hoosiers last year. In theory the Hoosiers are extra motivated by that game as well as the loss earlier this year in Evanston. In reality the Hoosiers are terrible and in about as a bad a tailspin as imaginable. Indiana (9-20, 3-14) have lost 11 straight games including the last eight by at least 14 points.

What to expect? Northwestern has no business losing this game. Then again the same thing could have been said for the game at Iowa City or to Penn State in Evanston. There is some buzz about the flu bug running rampant in Camp Willie and that Drew Crawford may be slowed by some injuries. The Hoosiers better hope that these things continue to plague Northwestern because their Senior Day will end up pretty depressing otherwise.

01 March 2010

Big Ten Power Rankings as of March 1, 2010

The big news this week is that Robbie Hummel is out for the season with a knee injury. That's too bad as we were really starting to like this team. OSU will need to carry the Big Ten banner in the tournament.

1. Ohio State (13-4)
Last week OSU won at Penn State but defeated Michigan at home. Plus one.

2. Michigan State (12-4)
MSU won at Purdue. Plus one.
3. Wisconsin (11-5)
UW crushed Indiana on the road. Plus one.
4. Purdue (12-4)
PU won at Minnesota but lost to Michigan State at home. The loss of Robbie Hummel is devastating. Minus three.

5. Illinois (10-6)
Last week UI won at Michigan but lost to Minnesota at home. No change.

6. Minnesota (8-8)
Last week UM lost to Purdue at home but won at Illinois. No change.
7. Northwestern (7-10)
Last week NU won a home game against Iowa and lost at Penn State. No change.

8. Michigan (6-10)
Last week UM lost to Illinois at home and at Ohio State. No change.
9. Penn State (3-13)
Last week PSU lost to Ohio State and defeated Northwestern at home. The Nittany Lions are playing better than the NIT NONSTARTERS RIGHT NOW. Plus two.
10. Iowa (4-12)
Last week Iowa lost at Northwestern and defeated Indiana at home. Minus one.
11. Indiana (3-13)
Last week IU lost to Wisconsin at home and at Iowa. The Hoosiers free fall continues -- now at ten games including seven straight losses by 14+ points. Minus one.

Recap: Penn State 79 Northwestern 60

The same team that traveled to Iowa City showed up in State College. Once again Northwestern (18-11, 7-10 Big Ten) was porous on defense and only Juice Thompson showed up on offense.

Penn State shot a blistering 68 percent in the first half to take a dominating 49-35 halftime lead. The second half started out with some increased Northwestern intensity on defense which quickly dissipated with some empty offensive possessions. From there the rout was on.

Northwestern hopes to salvage what remains of this season with two victories this week against lowly Chicago State and at Indiana. Lose either of these games and an invite to the NIT may be in jeopardy.