Catching Up On A-10 News

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I know it’s been a while since my last post. Been swamped at work and couldn’t find time to sneak in a blog post like I have been able to. A lot has happened. NCAA second round, Bobby Hurley leaves URI, and George Mason.

Anyway, on to what I’ve missed:

NCAA Tournament
After starting 5-0 during the first round (if you call the play-ins the first round, you’re a huge asshole), the A-10 goes 1-4 in the next round with only La Salle advancing to the Sweet 16.

Temple certainly played a good game and could very well have beaten Indiana if it weren’t for Oladipo:


Skip to 0:26.

Khalif Wyatt’s first half performance showed why he was the A-10 player of the year. Unfortunately, the 15 minute break for halftime was just enough time for Wyatt’s hot hand to go cold and he had a very pedestrian second half. Temple should hang their heads high. they took the #1 seed (and at certain points during the season – the #1 team in the country) to the very brink of defeat.

Not much to say about VCU. They were just completely overmatched by Michigan. Like I’ve said before, the best way to beat the Havoc defense is to have smart, instinctive guards. That is exactly what Michigan has in Burke (possibly the best guard in all of college basketball) and Hardaway Jr. Just a bad game for VCU. Missed a lot of open jump shots and missed a bunch of easy lay-ups. Too bad. Still a great season overall for the Rams and they will be a top team in the A-10 for a long while (unless Shaka Smart goes to UCLA).

St. Louis, whose foundation was built on tough defense, really didn’t look very competitive against Oregon (who may be the best 12 seed in tournament history – hyperbole, saying they were shafted by the Selection Committee). The usually stout defense of SLU gave up 76 to Oregon and couldn’t really seem to stop them.

Butler now, they looked like they had the game won for a while, but Marquette showed a lot of grit and balls in coming back and taking the lead with about 7 or 8 minutes left. Then it was truly a back and forth game; a lot of fun to watch. Unfortunately, Butler couldn’t pull out the victory in the end.

On to La Salle. Great win over Ole Miss. What makes it a great win? The win means that fucking menace Marshall Henderson is finally out of the tournament. Good riddance. La Salle played great and hit a lot of key shots. not only did their star player (Ramon Galloway) have a good game, but so did VA Tech transfer Tyrone Garland. Garland hit the game winning lay up with only a second left. Southwest Philly Floater for the win (literally)!!!

Next up for La Salle is Arizona. Zona is a very talented team (coached by former Xavier coach Sean Miller) who was one of the last unbeaten teams in the country. I hope La Salle can keep it rolling and become the next VCU (from 2011) in that they go from Play-in to Final Four.

George Mason
So George Mason announced that they are joining the A-10 on July 1 of this year. Good pick up by the A-10 to replace one of the many departing teams. I think the A-10 only needs to add one more school to get back up to 14 teams for this year and 12 the year after that (assuming the rumors about Dayton and St. Louis to the Big East are true). I’m still hoping that the A-10 can pull off a miracle and convince Wichita St. to leave the MVC too (Creighton is leaving for the Big East). I know it is unlikely but who knows, they did convince Butler and VCU to join. It could happen. Anyway, I like George Mason. GM would fit in with the rest of the A-10 with the play of their top 2 guys (both guards): Bryon Allen and Sherrod Wright. The A-10 is well known for their guard play and GM will step right in.

Bobby Hurley
Bobby Hurley to Buffalo

So word has it that Bobby Hurley is leaving URI for Buffalo. This is a curious move to say the least. I mean, Bobby must have had other offers in the past (I think Wagner offered him the job when Dan left for URI) and he turned them down to stay with Dan and spend time with Dan and their families. If he turned down offers in the past, why leave now? Why University of Buffalo? No offense to University of Buffalo fans, but I can’t wrap my head around why Bobby would take that job. Is he finally ready to step out from Dan’s shadow and build his own legacy? Is he thinking that turning around a Buffalo program will allow him to land a head coaching gig with a high-major school (like using Buffalo as a stepping stone)? Baffling; but Dan is doing a great job recruiting and coaching up these players and while it would have been nice to keep Bobby around to help mentor EC Matthews and help transition him into an elite PG, I wish Bobby all the luck in the world and I hope he achieves all the success he needs to get to where he wants to in life.

Great Start To The Tournament For The A-10

A-10 Round of 64

Atlantic 10 Teams start the tournament off 5-0.

Truth be told, I didn’t really get to watch much of the Butler/Bucknell game. They started the tournament off for the A-10 and got it started off on the right foot.

SLU just demolished New Mexico State and their gigantic oaf Sim Bhullar. SLU establishing their defensive will against teams and will definitely be a force in this tournament. Teams who get by with their scoring/high FG% have to hope to sustain a hot streak. Unfortunately teams get hot hands shooting and they get cold hands shooting. While teams can go into slumps shooting, good defense is slump proof. Whether SLU is hot or cold shooting the ball, their defense will keep them in all the games.

I don’t want to read too much into VCU’s win against an Akron team with their star player suspended for trying to run enough drugs to make Pablo Escobar blush and two other starters limited with the flu. A good win and a good way to get their “havoc” defense going for when they face real competition in Michigan on Saturday.

La Salle had one of the gutsiest wins of the A-10 teams. They came in after being a play-in team and taking on a much, MUCH bigger K-State. They did blow an 18-point lead but they made enough plays to pull off the second biggest upset of the tournament so far (Harvard as a 14-seed is the biggest upset so far). I thought Henriquez was going to completely shut down the Explorers in the second half. The 3-point shooting started to get cold and Henriquez towered over the smaller Explorers and seemingly swatted every shot taken inside the paint. Glad La Salle won. See if they can be the next VCU (from Play-in to Final Four).

Temple over NC State was a great win for the Owls. NC State was a preseason pick to win the ACC and are considered to have a very talented team. Temple has what it takes to go far in the tournament a dominant player (Khalif Wyatt) and a few good role players (Scootie Randall and TJ DiLeo). Wyatt won’t have to carry a team all by himself but together they all have the talent to be a Sweet 16 team.

PS: Can we please stop calling the play-in games the “first round”? The “First Four” is not the first round. I refuse to recognize a tournament that has 8 teams play in the first round and 60…SIXTY…teams get a first round bye? Get outta here with that shit.

Round 1 Different than Play-ins

Well said, KFC.

PPS: Stat of the day so far…

IMG-20130322-00028

Round 2 Picks: A10 Tournament

So I am a little late with this and missed the Charlotte/SLU game that started at 12…so I won’t pick that game.

Butler (-2.0) vs La Salle (+2.0)
I think La Salle is a good match-up against Butler. La Salle did beat Butler last time these teams played. La Salle is also averaging 76ppg in their last 5 games while giving up 71ppg in the same span. Butler, meanwhile, is averaging 65ppg while giving up 68ppg over their last 5. La Salle wins and they definitely cover the 2.0.

St. Joe’s (+7.0) vs VCU (-7.0)
I have VCU winning outright as they are just way more talented than St. Joe’s plus their defense will shut this Hawks team down. VCU covers but it will be because of fouling at the end of the game so if you bet on this game, expect it kind of close until the end.

UMass (+5.0) vs Temple (-5.0)
I have Temple winning this game. However, I think UMass covers. This will be a great game with Chaz Williams and Khalif Wyatt both trying to out-perform each other. There will also be a lot of 3’s. UMass has been keeping it close for the most part this year (win or lose).

So there we have it. Just know I am batting .500 in sports betting so don’t blame me for my wrong picks….and send a piece of the winnings if I am right.

Atlantic 10 Announces POY, ROY, COY Award Winners

Khalif Wyatt, Myck Kabongo

Atlantic 10: Temple senior Khalif Wyatt was named Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Player of the Year and Saint Louis coach Jim Crews was chosen as the Coach of the Year the league announced Tuesday. VCU’s Briante Weber earned Defensive Player of the Year honors and Xavier freshman Semaj Christon was named the conference’s Rookie of the Year.

Cody Ellis of Saint Louis was named the A-10’s Sixth Man of the Year and Xavier’s Travis Taylor was selected for the Chris Daniels’ Most Improved Player Award. The league also released its All-Conference teams, which along with the major awards were voted on by a panel of the A-10’s 16 head coaches. The All-Academic team, which was selected by the A-10’s sports information directors, was also announced Tuesday.

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The A-10 got the POY selection 100% correct (they also got the Coach of the Year right too – but I didn’t preach about that in previous posts). There is not much more I can say beyond what I wrote here. Wyatt was the single best choice for POY and was, hands down, the most important player on their team this season.

A side note about Jim Crews who took over SLU under such extreme circumstances and turned in a great season that included time as a ranked team towards the end of the season as well as the #1 seed in the A-10 tournament. Maybe I am biased, but I think he should be the national COY as well (at least in the consideration as a top 3 coach). Do the right thing, voters. Vote for Crews for COY. I know Miami had a completely unforeseen season that saw them go from unranked to top 5 in a matter of 3 weeks, but maybe that’s the fault of the voters ranking the teams and not really something Miami did, per se.

Temple Beats VCU, Solidifies Tourney Spot

Crying Owl

ESPN: PHILADELPHIA — On the way out of the Atlantic 10, Temple looked ready to take one more trophy as a keepsake.

Khalif Wyatt scored 30 points and Jake O’Brien had 19, and the Owls beat No. 21 VCU 84-76 on Sunday after rallying from a big first-half deficit.

The Owls (23-8, 11-5 A-10) flipped a 16-point hole into a 17-point lead and clinched the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament.

O’Brien rallied the Owls back from the big first-half hole with clutch 3-pointers in transition that propelled them toward their seventh straight win. O’Brien tied the game at 46-46 on a 3, then gave the Owls the lead for good with another 3 to go up 51-48 with less than 15 minutes left.

The Owls took off from there, thrilling a sellout crowd of 10,206 with tough buckets inside, while O’Brien led the surge from outside.

VCU coach Shaka Smart said he’s left trying to figure out why the Rams lost “their fire” after halftime, especially with first place at stake. The Rams were on the brink of sharing a championship in their first season in the A-10 after bolting the Colonial Athletic Association.

“Nobody transitions from a smaller league to a bigger league and wins the league in the first year,” Smart said. “This is why. You’ve got to win games like today. We just didn’t do what it took to win.”

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And there Temple fans have it. I said that they needed to split the La Salle and VCU games while winning their other games remaining. They did even better. They won out. It wasn’t all pretty, though. I was in the stands for the URI/Temple game that really came down to the wire. As I was leaving the arena, I overheard a couple of students say “that was close; that was the tournament right there.” They were 100% correct. I thought that even though they won it would still negatively impact Temple’s chances as they barely squeaked by with a win, at home, against an 8-win team. If VCU came in to Temple and ran them off the court, that would have most likely force them to really do work in the A-10 tournament. Now they can win their first game and be guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament.

It was very much a huge win for Temple. A real demoralizing loss for VCU heading into the A-10 tournament.

Another big-time performance from a big-time player. Khalif Wyatt really should be the A-10 player of the year. In every meaningful statistic category (points, steals, assists, turnovers, etc.), Wyatt is ahead of the other players considered for POY honors (Juvonte Reddic-VCU, Rotnei Clarke-Butler, and Ramon Galloway-La Salle). Looking at those 4 players, I think it is safe to say that without Wyatt, Temple may not even be a .500 team in the conference. I think there are other players around Juvonte Reddic that can more than pick up the slack if he were to go down with an injury and VCU wouldn’t be as worse off by losing Reddic; such as Treveon Graham and Troy Daniels. Same can be said for Rotnei Clarke and Butler who have 4 other players besides Clarke who average 10ppg or more. Roosevelt Jones may not score as many points as Clarke, but he gets more rebounds, has more assists, and fewer turnovers. As for Ramon Galloway, La Salle can make up his rebounding numbers by giving Steve Mack or Jerrell Wright more time. Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland can be just as effective scoring and other than Galloway scoring 2 more points per game, Duren’s stats are almost identical to Galloway (assists, steals, blocks, and turnovers). Wyatt scores 8 more points per game than the second highest scorer on Temple and is the only one on Temple with over 4 assists per game. Temple would have a much tougher time replacing Wyatt than the other teams would have replacing their best player which I think is the definition of the Most VALUABLE Player. Wyatt has the intrinsic value of a POY candidate; he’s got good enough stats to win it but he also has the increased value to his team.

Temple Tournament Chances

I have noticed that a lot of people have stumbled upon my blog looking for information on where Temple’s tournament chances stand. I will be more than happy to oblige. Unfortunately, you Temple fans will not be happy with me on this one.

I know in his recent post, Jay Bilas has them at the #51 spot in terms of the top 68 teams (68 because of the 68 teams that make the tournament).

Temple According to Bilas

Accounting for the automatic bids that are not on this list, that spot would still get Temple into the tournament. But all that really matters is this.

Temple on the Bubble

Joe Lunardi, the bracketology guru, and his ridiculous 97% or 98% accuracy rating in predicting the tournament field, have Temple as one of the First Four Out.

Like I said in a previous post, after losing to Duquesne, Temple’s only real shot to leap frog these teams is to win out. They only have 2 more quality opponents on their schedule (La Salle and VCU – both are at home). Temple may survive a loss to La Salle as long as they beat VCU in their final game. Ideally they should really beat both teams as they both are currently in the field but going 1-1 against them won’t be the end of it all. If Temple loses to URI, Fordham, or Detroit, then it doesn’t matter if they beat both VCU and La Salle they will still be NIT bound. Should Temple lose to Charlotte, then they would need to have beaten La Salle and VCU to have a shot at getting in.

I hope this info helps you all out. I am actually traveling with my wife to Philly for the Temple/URI game. Temple should really be wary of URI. URI has played everyone tough and if Temple doesn’t take the game seriously, then URI could go in there and spoil Temple’s dreams of dancing in their final year in the A-10.

UPDATE: Temple took care of La Salle and got their 1 win out of La Salle and VCU. This has gotten them in as one of the last 4 in. Which means Temple does not have to beat VCU (just don’t get blown out) but they can’t afford to lose to anybody else.

Temple’s Tournament Chances and ESPN’s BPI Index Is Bullshit

Yes, has nothing to do with Temple.  Still makes ESPN look silly.

Ha, Dick Vitale in drag sitting behind Dick Vitale.

ESPN: With March Madness just about a month away, talk of bubble teams is on the rise. One such club at the moment is Temple. And our own Jay Williams likes the program’s chances at making a sixth consecutive appearance at the Big Dance.

At just 14-7 with an inexplicable loss to Canisius on their resume, the Owls still have work to do. But Fran Dunphy always seems to get the most out of his players when it matters most, and their victory over Syracuse in late December gives them a huge win to lean on. Plus, the majority of their key remaining games — including tonight’s matchup with Charlotte — are at home, where they’re currently 9-1.

Khalif Wyatt and his 18.6 points per night give Temple a legitimate scoring threat every time he hits the floor, while Scootie Randall and Anthony Lee give the Owls some solid secondary offense to fall back on as well. As Williams contends, this is a group that could not only make the trip to the NCAA Tournament, it has the potential to cause some problems for opponents if it gets there.

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I think Temple is fine. They are #47 in RPI and #58 in BPI. Typically, teams in the top 60 of those rankings are fairly safe in terms of receiving bids for the NCAA tournament. They have games left against quality opponents like La Salle and VCU. Both of those games are at home and Temple could win. If Temple can beat VCU (and everyone else they are expected to beat), I think they are a lock (regardless of how they do in the A-10 tournament). Luckily, the selection committee isn’t ESPN using nonsensical BPI rating that uses subjective data such as “pace of game” and “diminishing returns for blowouts.” I know ESPN will talk up their ranking system because, well, it’s THEIR system.

For example, BPI will weight a win or loss differently if a key player (as defined by ESPN – more subjective data) does or does not play in a game. There, in fact, is ESPN turning a team game into being more about individuals. If a player goes down, it should be the next man up. There are too many games and too many players where minor injuries (requiring a player to miss 1-3 games) occur all the time. That should not have any bearing on rating a team’s win or loss.

Another way BPI tries to differentiate itself from RPI, and other systems, is by counting “scoring margin.” I do not get this part of BPI. If a school plays another school and blows them out, that actually lowers their BPI compared to winning a close game. I kid you not, “Another way that BPI can rank teams differently than Sagarin or Kenpom is counting close games at home versus on the road. In BPI, a close win at home is better than a close loss on the road against the same opponent. This isn’t necessarily true in other methods and, in methods that do that, they don’t typically account for bigger wins. BPI gives marginally decreasing credit for bigger wins, with a 30-point win being only about 20 percent better than a 15-point win, not twice as good, which can happen in other methods.” Is this a joke, ESPN? Take, for example, UMass playing URI last night. UMass just embarrassed URI and ran them off the court. They won 81-53. They proved URI did not deserve to be in the same gym as them. ESPN is saying that UMass beating URI by 28 actually had a lesser impact on their BPI than if they only beat URI by 5. If I were on the selection committee and deciding the tournament field as of today, and UMass was a bubble team, I would be more likely to put them in the field with the 28-point drubbing. If UMass only beat URI by 5, I would think “if a team like URI can push UMass to the brink, what would much better teams do to this team” and maybe not let them in. ESPN’s logic seems almost counterintuitive.

“By capturing blowouts, but not overweighting them, BPI credits the ability of good teams to easily beat poor teams without providing incentive to win by 30 when 20 is a safe margin. By capturing both blowouts and close games in this way, BPI summarizes a team’s résumé for the NCAA tournament well.” What in the hell does that even mean, ESPN? When playing the game, a team should continue to score until the other team can stop them. What do you expect to happen, ESPN? For schools to say “well we’re at 20 points, let’s just dribble out the clock and keep taking shot-clock violations because only winning by 20 is more favorable than winning by 30”?

Luckily, for Temple and everybody else, the selection committee uses rankings indices like RPI instead of BPI. BPI is just ESPN coming out with another rating system that they can call “proprietary” and pat themselves on the back for coming up with it. It will catch on as well as their bullshit “Total QBR” system. ESPN needs to learn that creating any ranking system that is based on subjective data is inherently flawed. It is flawed because those data points mean something different to everyone. What a blowout is to ESPN may not be a blowout to you, or me, or the selection committee. Same can be said for trying to quantify the impact of a single player.

I think Temple should get in and I think ESPN tries too hard and needs to cool it a bit.

UPDATE: Duquesne beat Temple last night. That is a terrible loss for a bubble team. Now I think Temple needs to beat VCU or else it’s time to gear up for the NIT.