Most of the changes of the past few days involve seed differences. Unfortunately, none of that has changed yet for Marquette. I know some people have MU on the 2-line, but I just don't see it yet. Louisville and Wisconsin getting into the top-20 RPI would help, beating Georgetown would help even more, but teams like Missouri and Ohio State just have too many great wins to be upended by Marquette's good ones.
Speaking of Wisconsin and Ohio State, the Badgers moved up from being the top 6-seed to being the bottom 4-seed after their win in Columbus. At the other end, UConn is continuing to fall after that loss to Providence. The Huskies don't look very good under George Blaney. It's been said that the Selection Committee takes injuries into account over the course of the season. If Calhoun is back in the next week, will they take that into account? It's obvious that they are not the same team without their coach at the helm. On the bubble, there were no real changes, other than teams shifting around. However, both USF and Miami are making strong pushes to get into the Dance, especially with Dayton and St. Joe's having so many bad losses. Both A-10 teams have a number of quality wins that are keeping them above water, but it wouldn't take much to tilt things out of their favor. Here's the S-Curve:
First Four Out: South Florida, Miami, Washington, UCF
Next Four Out: LSU, Illinois, VCU, Arizona
Finally...my thoughts on the PAC-12 as a multi-bid league. Right now, I just don't see it. Washington and Arizona have a combined 1 top-50 win between them, and that was Arizona's win over another PAC-12 team, California. Even without bad losses, I just can't put teams in without some quality wins. That's why I like Dayton and St. Joe's right now, because despite the bad losses, they both have three top-30 wins and have actually proven they can beat someone. Bottom line, yes, some PAC-12 teams have winning conference records, but if you do nothing in your non-conference and get 80% of your wins against sub-100 teams, you are more deserving of a bid to the NIT than the NCAAs.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Most of the changes of the past few days involve seed differences. Unfortunately, none of that has changed yet for Marquette. I know some people have MU on the 2-line, but I just don't see it yet. Louisville and Wisconsin getting into the top-20 RPI would help, beating Georgetown would help even more, but teams like Missouri and Ohio State just have too many great wins to be upended by Marquette's good ones.
Written by Alan Bykowski at 11:14 AM
Monday, February 27, 2012
Jack Cooley is on the court at Georgetown as one of four candidates who seems to be in discussion for Big East Player of the Year.
A couple of weeks ago Kevin Jones seemed like the odds on favorite, but Crowder held him to a season-low 12 points while scoring 26 himself Friday night. That helped keep a suspended Darius Johnson-Odom ahead of Jones in scoring in Big East play.
Certainly Jones is still in the running, but he has averaged just 16 points a game the last five games while Cooley has averaged 20.7 points and 12.3 rebounds his last six games, DJO scored over 20 points in four straight games before the half game suspension, and Crowder has average 26.3 points per game his last four games and just claimed his second Big East Player of the Week in a row.
I’ve made it pretty clear that statistically I believe Crowder is the POY, but this column is really more a rundown of what voters might be looking at as they cast their votes in hopes of figuring out if we should get our hopes up.
Jones was the favorite for a reason – dominating K-State and Baylor early in the season and being at the top in the two stats many voters look at first – rebounds and points. DJO holding him off as the top scorer might be a key in voters’ minds as many may immediately fill in the ballot for someone leading in both. Certainly Cooley could get strong consideration if he can nudge past Jones in rebounds per game, where Crowder is 11th:
While the top 5 NBA prospects in the Big East are not in consideration, Jones and DJO are battling to go in the top of the 2nd round. Add to that the WOW factor of DJO’s explosive game as documented early by ESPN’s Sports Science shows why some like Jason King ESPN listed DJO as his 5th choice for National Player of the Year, and the only other player in the Big East in his top 15 was Kevin Jones. He was also one of three Big East players nominated earlier in the season as a finalist for the National Player of the Year, so he could win the award for voters who want to pick the guy who just looks the most unstoppable on the court.
For the voters who look more at traditional stats than the tempo free stats on Ken Pomeroy's page that show Crowder as the best player in the Big East and 10th best in the country, Crowder is on the leaders list in 8 of 13 categories. The following are the seven players who are on the leaders list in six or more categories, and where they rank in each:
|Cat.||COOLEY, Jack-ND||CROWDER, Jae-MU||DIENG, Gorgui-LOU||GRANT, Jerian-ND||HARKLESS, Moe-STJ||HENTON, LaDontae-PC||JONES, Kevin-WVU|
So hopefully Jae or DJO can claim the award in what seems to be a four player race, but I also wanted to list the other Marquette players and what categories they make the leader’s list.
JOHNSON-ODOM, Darius-MU 1st in Scoring
JOHNSON-ODOM, Darius-MU 2nd in3-pt FG made
CADOUGAN, Junior-MU 4th in Assists
CADOUGAN, Junior-MU 4th in Asst/TO
JOHNSON-ODOM, Darius-MU 5th in 3-pt FG%
WILSON, Jamil-MU 7th in Blocked shots
MAYO, Todd-MU 7th in FT%
JOHNSON-ODOM, Darius-MU 14th in FT
Written by JohnPudner at 6:43 PM
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Today Jae Crowder has moved into Ken Pomeroy’s top 10 players of the year, an incredible accomplishment.
NBC Sports (read here) was kind enough to pick up on my Value Add rankings last week that indicated that Jae Crowder was the 2nd most valuable player in college basketball to date behind Anthony Davis of Kentucky. I will tell you it was nicer to have my name next to a photo of Jae Crowder instead of next to a photo of Jordan Taylor when Sports Illustrated did their piece on Value Add last year.
However, in all honesty, I cringed when I ran the program and Jae showed up as No. 2. I am glad the formula was published last year (when it showed Jae as the 48th best returning player for this year), but as a stat nut I want people to understand I am following an exact formula, and I am sure there were some people with North Carolina, Kentucky and Michigan State that gave a “yeah right,” when they saw that Crowder showed up as No. 2.
The fact that I am a stat nut and a huge Jae Crowder fan is a chicken or the egg question – I am a huge Crowder fan because as a number-cruncher I saw early the incredible value he was bringing to Marquette, and then he just happened to take it to an even higher level. However, that being said, I need to write the most negative thing I’ve probably written about Jae Crowder in two years:
Jae Crowder is NOT the 2nd best player in college basketball.
Right now, I do believe Jae is one of the best several players in college basketball, and he may be the 2nd most valuable player in college basketball, but
I need to make a distinction between best and “most valuable.”
For me, value is simply the percent of points a player adds to his team’s total and take’s away from his team’s total. Usually this is pretty close to “best,” but there are two exceptions.
Generally a player who is a one-man star on a bad team is about as valuable as a similar player on a team with one or two other great players. The guy on the bad team gets more defensive attention, but he is free to attempt to do more things, and vice versa. So if you play on one of 343 Division I schools with between zero and three elite players, I would say Value Add treats you pretty fairly.
The only players who get “cheated” by value add are players with four or more potential NBA-level players, and this year that means anyone who plays for UNC or Kentucky.
The fact is that part of Jae Crowder’s incredible value this year is that in addition to everything else he does so well, he is often going up and taking rebounds away from a bigger center and forward at the same time. Even with Jae being among Pomeroy’s leaders in defensive rebounds, Marquette is the 303rd best defensive rebounding team in the country. I seriously believe that Marquette would finish 8-10 in the Big East if Crowder wasn’t on the team, and that makes him more valuable than anyone on Kentucky or UNC. But understand that Jae would not be as valuable if he was playing for UNC or Kentucky because he wouldn’t need to grab all those rebounds, among other things.
Kentucky and UNC are alone with 6 players among the top 85 NBA college prospects. That means that some combination of Michael Gilchrist (61st in Value Add, 3rd best NBA prospect), Terrence Jones (54th-11th), Doron Lamb (52nd-39th), Harrison Barnes (90th-4th), John Henson (55th-8th), Tyler Zeller (23rd-9th) and Kendall Marshall (97th-19th) could be BETTER players than Jae, but none are as valuable.
You lose any one of those players, and Kentucky or UNC still start a line-up of five players who could be in the NBA in the next two years. Losing one of them could be the difference between winning the title or not, but it probably only cost them a couple of wins while if Jae wasn’t at Marquette this year then MU is hoping for a home game in the NIT instead of being a #2 or #3 seed.
The other guy who could be better than Jae is Draymond Green of Michigan State, because I am still finalizing the adjustment for point guards and perimeter defenders, which cannot be accounted for on stats alone. I just hit the tip of the iceberg by getting a handful of the top point guards extra credit for bringing the ball up, and the top perimeter defenders for guarding away from the rim without a stat for “stops.” I am finalizing the adjustment for all teams.
The tricky part with Green is figuring out whether the new “Magic Johnson” deserves the point guard credit for Michigan State or if it should be divided with Keith Appling. And I don’t feel as good when there is something like this that requires observation, because it gets away from my forte of objective number crunching.
So I believe there are up to 7 players (Green plus the above-mentioned seven from UNC and Kentucky) who Bobby Knight or some other true student of the game might well say are “better” than Jae, but I believe so far that only Davis and possibly Green have been more valuable than Jae.
That would still make Jae Big East Player of the Year after out-dueling the great Kevin Jones, who really has noone else to go to outside of an occasional burst by Truck Bryant, on his home court. When it comes to All-American, I believe if you are picking the five most valuable players in the country then Jae is a 1st team All-American; if you are picking the best college players in American than Jae is a 2nd team All-American, and if you are picking the guys most likely to dominate at the next level then Jae isn’t on the 1st or 2nd team.
Now you can’t say I’ve never written anything negative about Jae!
Written by JohnPudner at 12:53 PM
The past few days, I've been noticing that everyone seems to be far higher on Michigan than I was. I initially felt they were being overrated, but as I saw them turning up on the 2 and 3 line in many brackets, I took a closer look at their profile, and realized that I was probably underrating them. Rather than simply giving Michigan a bump, I scrapped my old data and completely redid my bracket projection today. Rather than posting a bracket, for the time-being, I decided to use an S-Curve, as it prevented me from having to move teams up or down seed lines for match-up purposes, and at this point shows a more accurate depiction of where teams should be rated. Here's the current S-Curve:
First Four Out: UCF, South Florida, Washington, Illinois
Next Four Out: LSU, Minnesota, Miami, VCU
Red Text indicates teams that have are in as automatic qualifiers.
Purple Highlight indicates teams that are protected seeds.
Green Highlight indicates teams that will participate in at-large bid play-in games
Orange Highlight indicates teams that will participate in automatic bid play-in games
This was done to primarily reflect changes from Saturday, February 25, but also includes the USF/Cincinnati game. The Bulls are still on the outside looking in, but could get in with one more win. Saturday's action saw little change. For Marquette, the biggest change was moving up to the top 3-seed after Michigan lost. At the bottom of the bracket, Dayton and St. Joe's both move into the field, while LSU's loss dropped them, and idle Illinois also fell out of the field.
The Big East still leads the way with 9 bids, but USF could make it 10. The Big Ten slips to 7 bids, though both Illinois and Minnesota aren't far out, and the surprising Iowa Hawkeyes are also in the conversation due to 4 top-30 wins. They aren't yet on the bubble, but if the bubble had a bubble, that's where Iowa would be.
One team I look at that I think might make it in is VCU, who just moved into the "Next Four Out". Honestly, I don't think they are deserving. They have 1 top-50 win, and that's against #49 South Florida when they were missing two of their top players. But they do have a gaudy 25-6 record. The problem is that 2 of those losses came against sub-100 teams. Unless they win the auto-bid, VCU does not (and likely will not) deserve to make the field. But they didn't deserve to make the field last year, and we all saw how that worked out. Being a Selection Committee darling may play in their favor.
Written by Alan Bykowski at 12:45 PM
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Allen laid out the new potential NCAA bracket yesterday, and once it is actually set I will post the value of every player in the tournament by team to help you fill out your brackets. For now, I’ve listed the Top 200 players to date, with notes at the bottom on how well the Value Add system has fared based on the four questions Sports Illustrated asked about in August.
One item to stress, these are not measures of NBA potential - which is a whole different process I use - but of exactly how many points a player has added to his team's scores and taken away from the opponents' scores.
During my weekly appearance on ESPN Auburn I’ve stressed that the SEC has the most one-sided MVP race with Anthony Davis, and I’ve had a couple of previous blogs on Cracked Sidewalks on the back-and-forth between Jae Crowder and Kevin Jones in the top two spots in the Big East. However, it wasn’t until the engineer finished the program and I ran the whole country yesterday that I realized those were actually the three most valuable players in the country, despite the Big Ten’s dominant play this year that has resulted in them having five of the 10 Most Valuable Players in the country.
|3||Kevin Jones||West Virginia||6'8"||Sr||8.3||-1.5||9.8|
|8||Jared Sullinger||Ohio St.||6'9"||So||5.1||-3.5||8.6|
|10||Aaron Craft||Ohio St.||6'2"||So||2.3||-2.4||8.3|
|13||Draymond Green||Michigan St.||6'7"||Sr||4||-3.8||7.8|
|23||Tyler Zeller||North Carolina||7'0"||Sr||4.8||-2.2||7|
|27||Jack Cooley||Notre Dame||6'9"||Jr||4.7||-2||6.7|
|55||John Henson||North Carolina||6'10"||Jr||2.6||-3.1||5.7|
|59||Rodney McGruder||Kansas St.||6'4"||Jr||3.9||-1.7||5.6|
|69||Fuquan Edwin||Seton Hall||6'6"||So||1.8||-3.7||5.4|
|74||Justin Hamilton||Louisiana St.||6'11"||Jr||3.9||-1.3||5.2|
|76||Dee Bost||Mississippi St.||6'2"||Sr||3.1||0||5.1|
|78||Jared Cunningham||Oregon St.||6'4"||Jr||3.3||-0.8||5.1|
|85||Erick Green||Virginia Tech||6'3"||Jr||4.3||-0.7||5|
|90||Harrison Barnes||North Carolina||6'8"||So||4.2||-0.7||4.9|
|95||Bernard James||Florida St.||6'10"||Sr||1.8||-3.1||4.9|
|96||Deshaun Thomas||Ohio St.||6'7"||So||4.8||0||4.8|
|97||Kendall Marshall||North Carolina||6'3"||So||2.2||-0.1||4.8|
|99||Jerian Grant||Notre Dame||6'5"||So||4.3||-0.5||4.8|
|109||Herb Pope||Seton Hall||6'8"||Sr||1.6||-3.1||4.7|
|110||Devon Collier||Oregon St.||6'7"||So||4.6||0||4.6|
|117||Scott Wood||North Carolina St.||6'6"||Jr||4.5||0||4.5|
|122||D'Angelo Harrison||St. John's||6'3"||Fr||4.3||-0.2||4.5|
|124||Tim Frazier||Penn St.||6'1"||Jr||3.6||-0.9||4.5|
|140||Moe Harkless||St. John's||6'8"||Fr||1.8||-2.6||4.4|
|141||Arnett Moultrie||Mississippi St.||6'11"||Jr||4.2||-0.2||4.3|
|143||Durand Scott||Miami FL||6'4"||Jr||3.8||-0.5||4.3|
|145||Kenny Kadji||Miami FL||6'11"||Jr||3.3||-1||4.3|
|151||Keiton Page||Oklahoma St.||5'9"||Sr||4.2||0||4.2|
|156||Keith Appling||Michigan St.||6'1"||So||3.3||-0.9||4.2|
|160||Damontre Harris||South Carolina||6'9"||So||2.2||-2||4.2|
|167||Branden Dawson||Michigan St.||6'6"||Fr||2.6||-1.5||4.1|
|170||Jordan Theodore||Seton Hall||6'0"||Sr||3.4||-0.7||4|
|172||Michael Snaer||Florida St.||6'5"||Jr||2.7||-1.4||4|
|194||William Buford||Ohio St.||6'6"||Sr||2.8||-1||3.8|
Point Guards and Perimeter Defense
The Value Add system as introduced last year was purely numbers driven, but I have made three adjustments for the three major items that cannot be measured by player stats.
1. While point guards get credit for assists, they should really get about an extra 1% just for bringing the ball up the court 50 times a game and setting up the offense. In the future I’d like to give every starting point guard at least 1% extra, but for today I have simply given the top 5 point guards in the country a +2.5%, the next best 10 a +2% and the next best 15 a +1.5% based almost exclusively on the Top 30 as evaluated by CBS Sports.
2. Perimeter defense results in bad shots and a lower eFG%, but a good perimeter defender doesn’t usually get a steal for good on-ball defense, unlike a good defender at the hoop who gets plenty of defensive rebounds and blocked shots. For now, I simply awarded an extra 1% for the players identified by CBS Sports as the best perimeter defenders in the country.
3. The lowest defensive rating in the system was a 0.0%, but now if someone gets a 0.0% and his team is giving up a high 1.05 points per trip he gets a +1.0 on defense (gives up points), while a 1.10 equals +2.0 etc.
How has the system fared?
A couple of notes from the four observations Sports Illustrated made about the Value Add system when I unveiled it last year:
|SI said based on the Value Add System:||What has actually happened this season?|
|Jordan Taylor … needs to be considered … for preseason national player of the year votes||Jordan is right back in the mix in the Top 10, but even winning Big Ten POY honors will be very tough because he is one of five Big Ten players in the top 10 as the conference has emerged as the top conference this year. Obviously when Jae Crowder was ranked as the 48th best returning player at that time, I couldn’t have dreamed he would now calculate as the 2nd best player in American in the final weeks of the season.|
|Lest you think the 6-6 (Central Connecticut’s Ken) Horton's (No. 8) standing on this list is inflated because he plays in a small conference, it should be noted that Pudner's fomula … means is that he'd theoretically be able to enhance a major-conference team's offense by 5.06 percent.||Despite continuing to have no support from a terrible team, in his three road games against Top 75 teams (vs. Michigan State, Northwestern and UMass) Horton has averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals per game and is back in the Top 30 of all players at any D1 level for a 2nd straight year.|
|Vanderbilt's offense is going to be insanely good ... but the Commodores still might not be a top-10 team.||Despite missing their star center for much of the year has a top 20 offense (114.4 trips per game) but not a Top 20 team.|
|If (Bradley transfer Brandon) Wood plays at the level Pudner's formula projects … that could very well equate to a top-three finish (for Michigan State) in the Big Ten, which would exceed most pundits' expectations, including mine, and establish Value Add as a worthy way of identifying next year's sleepers.||Brandon Wood has shown he could make the transition from Bradley to the Big Ten, starting for the Spartans and being one of the top 300 players in the country with a 2.7 Value Add. That has been good enough for the Spartans not only to be in the top 3 in the Big Ten, but actually in first place a week after winning by 10 at Ohio State.|
Written by JohnPudner at 8:04 AM
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
The only two sure things at the top of the bracket are Syracuse and Kentucky getting 1-seeds. After that, 6 teams are battling for 2 spots. For the moment, Big 12 leaders Missouri and ACC leaders Duke get the other 1-seeds. On the S-curve, Marquette came in 9th overall and is the top 3-seed. To move up between now and Selection Sunday, the minimum the Warriors would need is a 3-1 record in their last 4 games and an appearance in the Big East title game. But that would also require other teams to slip up. I'm confident that if MU won their last 4 games and followed that up with a Big East tournament title, they would be a 2-seed. While the teams ahead of them (outside of Syracuse and Kentucky) all look very solid in their positions right now, it's unlikely that all 6 of them will both finish top-two in their league and get to their title games. Regardless, Marquette is solidly looking like a 2 or 3 seed and in very good position as we move toward March.
For the first time, the Big East leads the way with 9 bids and the Big Ten is second with 8, thanks to Cincinnati moving into the field and Illinois crashing out.
Last Four Byes: Seton Hall, Mississippi State, UCF, Iowa State
Last Four In: LSU, Cincinnati, Dayton, Minnesota
First Four Out: St. Joseph's, Colorado State, Arizona, Miami
Next Four Out: Texas, NC State, Mississippi, Arkansas
Highest RPI Snub: 29 Colorado State
Highest KenPom Snub: 26 Texas
Written by Alan Bykowski at 11:13 AM
Monday, February 20, 2012
Really a great read if you have five minutes. If you don't, make the time. A wonderful article on Buzz from Inside Milwaukee Magazine.
Written by muwarrior92 at 6:43 PM
Post Script on Crowder’s Weekend: 2nd best game since Wade; top 10 POY, best BE duo with DJO & national championship?
Just a quick post script to yesterday’s piece on Crowder vs. UConn and MUs tourney chances. Since then, Marquette fans voted his performance Saturday as the 2nd best since Wade (see top 10 below), Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports tweeted that he might be moving into the Top 10 for National Player of the Year, Greg Anthony of CBS Sports said Marquette might win the national title with Gardner back to join perhaps the best duo in the Big East in Crowder and DJO. It’s been a fun 24 hours, but hopefully the kids have missed it all and won’t show up with big heads when a Rutgers team that played Syracuse tough yesterday comes to the Bradley Center Wednesday. Oh, and MU is back in the Top 10 of the just released ESPN Coaches poll, while ESPN Insider is asking if we are a Final Four team.
Here is how the MU Scoop readers voted the top 10 performances since Wade demolished #1 Kentucky in 2003, and as for DJO not having one of the top 8 game performances - don't worry about it. Jimmy Butler and Wesley Matthews don't either and they are doing just fine.
|1||1/3/2006||Novak||UConn||41||16||75%||11 of 11||2/2/2|
|2||2/18/2012||Crowder||UConn||29||12||71%||9 of 10||1/3/0|
|3||3/22/2008||McNeal||Stanford||30||8||60%||0 of 0||2/1/3|
|4||11/21/2006||James||Duke||25||3||67%||5 of 6||7/1/1|
|5||11/27/2006||James||Valpo||22||0||58%||11 of 13||3/1/2|
|6||3/20/2009||Hayward||Utah St.||26||8||75%||5 of 6||0/0/1|
|7||1/4/2009||McNeal||Cincy||26||5||125%||1 of 2||6/0/2|
|8||1/21/2007||James||Pitt||23||1||57%||5 of 6||5/0/0|
|9||11/27/2010||DJO||UWM||29||4||89%||4 of 4||3/0/1|
|10||1/7/2009||Matthews||Rutgers||23||6||100%||3 of 6||2/2/1|
Written by JohnPudner at 12:41 PM
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Crowder dominates #2 NBA prospect, DJO awesome, but history shows we may need a 3rd star to emerge for a big run
NBA Draft Express updated its top 100 NBA prospects Saturday morning, and Marquette was one of 20 college teams with at least two NBA prospects. Marquette’s foe a few hours after the list was released was one of six teams with at least three NBA prospects, which as I’ve written in the past is usually what it takes for a team to make a Final Four run no matter how well they’ve played during the year.
So the question is whether or not Marquette’s prospect duo of Darius Johnson-Odom (37th best college prospect) and Jae Crowder (82nd best prospect) gives MU a chance to make that deep a run. However, first we must consider whether or not the dozen NBA Scouts at today’s game moved Crowder up from the 82nd top prospect after watching him play potentially the greatest game by a Marquette player since Dwyane Wade torched #1 Kentucky for a triple double in 2003. I posted a poll on MU Scoop if you are interested in voting between this and the other 6 greatest performances since Wade.
Crowder matched up against 6-foot-11 Andre Drummond, the player who is projected to go second in the draft after Anthony Davis of Kentucky. With both Marquette centers injured, one would think Crowder might have to foul to make up for guarding a guy 5 inches taller, than him, but actually he fouled only once while drawing five fouls on Drummond with the following results:
|8:59 1st H||Crowder draws charge on Drummond||Mayo hits 3-pointer at other end|
|8:17||Crowder fouls Drummond to deny dunk||Drummond misses both free throws|
|7:29||Drummond fouls Crowder||Crowder hits both free throws|
|7:53 2nd H||Drummond fouls Crowder||Crowder hits both free throws|
|5:08||Crowder drains 3 as Drummond fouls him||Crowder's only missed FT, but rebounds his miss|
|2:43||Crowder dunks while being fouled by Drummond||Drummond fouls out, Crowder hits FT|
If Crowder had done nothing else besides those six plays, you might have to give him Player of the Game. But in fact, the overall matchup was even more lopsided.
|eFG%||71% (8 of 14, 4 treys)||38% (3 of 8, no treys)|
|FT||9 of 10||1 of 4|
Greatest duo performance I can find; but do we have the 3 ½ stars?
When you add DJOs stats today, I cannot find a more dominant two-man performance. Marquette’s two seniors dominated play for 53 points on 65% effective field goal shooting (16 of 31 with 8 of the hits being from behind the arc to make it effectively 20-31 since the 8 treys are like turning 4 misses into made shots).
But Al McGuire’s adage that you needed 3 ½ stars to be a championship team has proven accurate more often than not. I determined a couple of years ago that the vast majority of Final Four teams include three players that will be within the NBA within two years. Clearly Marquette has two that are at least potential NBA players in DJO and Crowder, and they have the “half” star in the unselfish Junior Cadougan who had another 8 assists yesterday and has been the biggest reason MU is the third best assist team in the country (65.6% of all baskets scored off of assists).
However, everyone else on the roster is a freshman or sophomore and one will have to emerge to give MU a true third star in the tournament. Hopefully Davante Gardner will be back from the knee injury soon, and he has given MU a dominant half court option when healthy. Todd Mayo was unstoppable a few times early. Jamil Wilson is perhaps the most talented player on the roster and finally exploded last week for a big game.
However, the most likely candidate is Vander Blue who missed all five shots today, but is still considered the 30th best NBA prospect among sophomores and has played like that several times. While 3 stars does not guaranty any tournament wins – some teams have huge chemistry issues and lose in the first round. The VCUs and Butlers really are rare exceptions, and it is generally the Kentucky and UConn teams from last year who even when they have poor regular seasons have the horses to take over and make a tournament run.
So let’s identify those teams, and if Marquette can match up against them.
Kentucky and UNC in a class by themselves with 6 NBA prospects each
While I was there in person for Kentucky’s only loss this year, they look almost unbeatable on a neutral court. While UNC has been inconsistent, be aware that they are the only other team with six NBA stars as we unfortunately saw in the Sweet 16 last year. So let’s get those two out of the way since they don’t fit on my table. The following are their players listed among the top prospects, and their rank (e.g. Anthony Davis is expected to go No. 1 in the draft, so is the Number One college prospect, etc):
Kentucky NBA Prospects: 1 Anthony Davis PF, 3 Michael Gilchrist, 11 Terrence Jones SF/PF, 33 Marquis Teague PG, 39 Doron Lamb SG, 78 Darius Miller 78
UNC NBA Prospects: 4 Harrison Barnes SF, 8 John Henson SF, 9 Tyler Zeller PF/C, 17 James McAdoo PF, 19 Kendall Marshall PG and 54 Reggie Bullock SG
That’s unfair. There are only four other teams with 3 of the top 100 prospects, and Marquette has played 3 of the 4. Here is the list with where their players rank and their current projected seed in the tournament:
|Team||Top NBA Prospect||Rnk||Other NBA prospects||Seed|
|Connecticut||Andre Drummond C||2||12 Jeremy Lamb SG, 65 Alex Oriakhi PF||9|
|Kansas||Thomas Robinson PF||6||42 Tyshawn Taylor PG, 51 Elijah Johnson PG/SG||1|
|Syracuse||Dion Waiters SG||26||49 Kris Joseph SF and 53 Fab Melo C||1|
|Vanderbilt||Jeff Taylor SF||24||29 Festus Ezeli C and 40 John Jenkins SG||7|
History would indicate that Kentucky, UNC, Kansas and Syracuse therefore have the best chance at the Final Four when you combine how they are playing with the fact that they each have three players who could be in the NBA within two years. But the warning is that while UConn and Vandy have been very inconsistent, teams with that much talent can make the surprise runs if they can pull it together.
At the other extreme, Louisville and Michigan State are the two top teams who do not have a single player among the top 100 prospects. Certainly you have two coaches who can take those teams on runs, but most teams with no NBA prospects hit a team they just can’t match up with sometime in the first four games during which their three-pointers aren’t falling.
All 20 teams with more than one NBA prospect on the list are projected to make the tournament, but certainly it is no guaranty. In addition to UConn above, Alabama, NC State, Texas and Washington from the list below are no shoo-ins to make the tournament – particularly since both players on Alabama’s list were suspended by Anthony Grant recently with no news on when he will let them play again:
|Team||Top NBA Prospect||Rnk||Other NBA prospects||Seed|
|Alabama||JaMychal Green PF||67||69 Tony Mitchell SF||10|
|Baylor||Perry Jones PF||7||13 Quincy Miller||3|
|Duke||Austin Rivers SG||20||21 Mason Plumlee PF||2|
|Florida||Bradley Beal SG||10||16 Patric Young PF/C||5|
|Georgetown||Hollis Thompson SF||58||85 Henry Sims PF||3|
|Indiana||Cody Zeller C||18||76 Christian Watford PF||4|
|Marquette||Darius Johnson-Odom SG||37||82 Jae Crowder SF/PF||3|
|Memphis||Adonis Thomas SG/SF||28||41 Will Barton SG/SF||8|
|Mississippi St.||Arnett Moultrie PF/C||25||79 Dee Bost PG||8|
|Missouri||Ricardo Ratliffe PF/C||45||56 Marcus Denmon SG||1|
|N.C. State||C.J. Leslie SF/PF||35||55 Lorenzo Brown PG||12|
|Ohio State||Jared Sullinger C||5||48 William Buford SG||2|
|Texas||Myck Kabongo PG||27||50 J’Covan Brown PG/SG||11|
|Washington||Terrence Ross SG/SF||15||32 Tony Wroten PG/SG||13|
Certainly other duos are more highly ranked than DJO and Crowder (e.g. Baylor has #7 Perry Jones and #13 Quincy Miller), but experience is also important in the tournament, and Marquette is one of only three teams with more than one senior in the Top 100 list (Vanderbilt and Missouri are the others).
Don’t base your bracket on this. Experienced guards, computer rankings and teams that are hot going into the tournament can be better indicators in a given matchup. But when it comes to having to put together four wins in a row, it usually takes a few players who are just plain better than their opponents. Certainly DJO and Crowder established again yesterday that we have two, and Cadougan has proven we have our distributor/half star, but it may take one more player taking it to the next level for two weekends in a row to give MU a shot at a big run.
Written by JohnPudner at 1:34 AM
Friday, February 17, 2012
Marquette’s road resume vs. top 25 one of top 6 in country; another top 50 road win at UConn, WVU or Cincy could clinch top 4 seed
It is unlikely that Marquette will have a chance to join Michigan State, Kansas and Missouri as the only teams in the country with two road wins over Top 25 opponents, but MU still has one of the best six resumes when visiting a team in Pomeroy's Top 25.
Of the other teams to win a road game vs. a Top 25, only three teams in the country have stayed within single digits in two other road Top 25 match-ups (MU at Syracuse and Georgetown, Vandy at Louisville and Florida, and Miami at Virginia and Florida State).
The fact is that when a team visits a top 25 opponent, they have only an 8.5% chance of winning the game, and a 73.1% of losing by double digits. As the table below shows, even Lunardi’s 1 through 4 seeds have won only 30% of their road games vs. the Top 25 and been blown out by double digits 40% of the time. So Marquette looks better than your average top 4 seed with the performances at Wisconsin, Georgetown and Syracuse, and even if you do include the one blowout loss at Notre Dame (not in the Pomeroy Top 25, but in the new AP and ESPN).
While my colleagues here at Cracked Sidewalks have mounted an imaginary banner in the Bradley Center (look closely at the background photo) to commemorate how excited I got when MU pulled the rare feet of going a whole season without a double digit loss with Lazar, the fact is that keeping teams like Georgetown and Syracuse within single digits on the road is a huge boost when seeds are being handed out.
In fact, UNLV and Baylor are down as a 4- and 3-seed respectively, and have lost by double digits EVERY time they have played a road game vs. the Top 25. In fact, they join K-State and a total of 270 teams (78% of all teams) who have yet to stay within single digits of a Top 25 team on the road. The table below lists every team who has at least stayed within single digits in one Top 25 road game, and teams are ranked by; 1) road wins over a Top 25, 2) staying within single digits against a top 25, and finally 3) as a tie-breaker the fewest number of opportunities on the road vs. a Top 25.
When it comes to strong performances on the road vs. the Top 25, Marquette has the 5th best resume in the country, and even if you count the double digit loss at Notre Dame, Marquette is still in a 5th place tie with Miami with one win, two games within single digits and one double digit loss.
One more top 50 road win in remaining three chances could lead to 4-seed or better
While MU will not play another Top 25, we do have three more opportunities to pull off a road upset against a Top 50 team. If we win one of those three games – today at UConn at 11 a.m., next Friday at West Virginia, or February 29 at Cincinnati, the road resume will be very strong. According to Pomeroy (which does not account for Gardner missing tomorrow), MU is a one-point underdog in all three, so we do need to win one of them. Win two and the sky is the limit, lose all three and we drop several seeds.
So the next time you hear someone criticizing Marquette for not having more big road wins, show them the table below (unless they are wearing a Missouri, Kansas or Michigan State shirt of course):
|Team on road vs. Top 25||Top 4 seed||Win||Stay within single digits||Lose by double digits|
|All teams||32 (8.5%)||69 (18.4%)||275 (73.1%)|
|Total Top 4 Seeds||12 (30%)||12 (30%)||16 (40%)|
|Michigan St. (best record)||2||2||1||0|
|New Mexico State||1||0||0|
|San Diego State||1||0||1|
|Long Beach State||0||2||1|
|College of Charleston||0||1||0|
|K-State & other 267||0||0||213|
Written by JohnPudner at 3:25 PM
Thursday, February 16, 2012
To continue to build on Tim pointing out that four of our last five games are projected as 1-point affairs, and Alan’s projected MU bracket, I ran the Total Value calculations again for the Big East through tonight’s games. I also ran the numbers for all of the players on the six teams we would have to beat in the NCAA tournament to win the National Title.
Obviously the projected opponents will not match the actual Big East and NCAA tournaments, but the point is to get an idea of how Marquette’s 7-man rotation matches up against other 7-man rotations at every step of the tournament to see how possible a Big East title and deep NCAA run would be. The following is a quick summary of the 14 games that would get us there, followed by the Total Value rankings of Marquette’s top 7 as well as the top 7 of each of these team’s in our path:
at Uconn, computer says lose by 1
The teams look pretty even on Total Value if both healthy. Unfortunately it sounds like Davante (#28) may not be ready for Saturday, while Jeremy Lamb (#5, 6-foot-5) and Andre Drummond (#31, 6-foot-11) looked completely recovered against DePaul last night. Could be tough to get a third straight win at Connecticut.
vs. Rutgers, computer says win by 13
You can’t take any conference games for granted, but MU is the only Big East team besides Syracuse with five of the Top 50 players in the Big East, and Rutgers has only one (Dane Miller, #34, 6-foot-6).
at WVU, computer says lose by 1
Kevin Jones (#2, 6-foot-8) has dropped just below Jae Crowder in Total Value to rank as the 2nd best player in the Big East statistically. Darryl “Truck” Bryant (#38, 6-foot-2) is his only teammate in the Top 50 though. While Deniz Kilicli (#82, 6-foot-9) is a tough match-up inside, and it’s hard to beat Huggins at West Virginia, MU clearly has the better talent and could grab a road win.
At Cincy, computer says win by 1
While they don’t match MU, Sean Kilpatrick (#16, 6-foot4) has been close to DJO’s level statistically, and Cashmere Wright (#36, 6-foot-0) and Yancy Gates (#41, 6-foot-9) give them three that could certainly win at home.
I know the 16-point win looked good, but beware. Under Buzz, MU has played a team at the Bradley Center and away from the Bradley Center in the same year, and seven of those times there was more than a 16-point swing against MU (Nova 7 pt win at Bradley Center but 19-point loss on the road, Gtown 3-point win but 23-point loss, Providence 30-point win but 3-point win away, DePaul 21-point win after 1-point loss, Seton Hall 9-point win but 13-point loss, ND 22-point win but 5 pt loss and Norfolk State 31-point win but 2-point win).
Gtown, computer says win by 1
While they can’t match MU’s five players in the top 50, Georgetown has the best trio in the conference with three of the best 11 players (6-foot-2 Jason Clark #8, 6-foot-8 Hollis Thompson #9, 6-foot-8 Otto Porter #11), backed up by 6-foot-10 Henry Sims at #30. A serious threat to hand MU another senior day loss.
Big East Tournament Opener – Cincinnati, computer says win by 5
Right now it shapes up that MU, Notre Dame and Georgetown would get Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida in the third round. If Pomeroy were to play out, Cincinnati would win the tie-breaker for 5th seed, and Marquette would lose the tie-breaker to the other two to fall to 4th seed. We switch from Pomeroy to Sagarin for the predictions since you can use his numbers to predict match-ups not yet set, and MU comes in as a 5-point favorite vs. Cincy on a neutral court.
Syracuse, computer says lose by 5
People can say they are only seven deep, but when your top 7 are all in the top 32 of the conference, and 7-foot Fab Melo would rank higher than 29th if he hadn’t miss games, you are left with a tough but winnable Big East semifinal.
Georgetown, computer says lose by 1
See above on match-ups, but if MU were to get to Georgetown in a Big East final, Sagarin says we would come in as only 1-point underdogs. However, this would be MUs third game in three nights, and as I posted earlier this year, we have struggled mightily in those situations since we rely on such aggressive defense.
VCU #14 seed, computer says win by 6
We now shift to Alan’s projected bracket from Monday, which has MU as a #3 seed facing #14 seed VCU. The Rams have no one at the level of Crowder or DJO, but 6-foot-9 Juvonte Reddic would rate one spot ahead of Gardner at #28 if he played in the Big East, and they do have three other players in the Top 50. Coming off their Final Four run last year, certainly a nervous match-up, but one in which MU would have the clear talent edge.
Murray State #6 seed, computer says win by 7
With one bad loss playing in a very weak conference, Murray State has slipped from #7 in the country to a projected #6 seed. However, even after adjusting for competition, Isaiah Cannan would rank as the 4th best player in the Big East, and Donte Poole wouldn’t be far behind at #15. So they match up with our duo of DJO and Crowder, BUT at 6-foot-0 and 6-foot-3, the don’t pose the big inside threat. While 6-foot-7 Ed Daniel (#47 in the Big East) would rank pretty even with Vander Blue and Jamil Wilson, those two players are moving up the ranks pretty quickly, so basically MU would need to contain two great guards to win and go Sweet 16 for the second straight year.
Duke #2 seed, computer says lose by 2
This summer the Total Value system said Kentucky, Ohio State, North Carolina and Duke looked like the teams with the best shot at the Final Four, and Duke may have finally jumped in with the other three after the win at UNC. As explosive as they are, Duke is only the 73rd best defense in the country, and you can see below their defensive ratings really hold down their total value. However, in a matchup to try to go to the Elite 8, the big problem is that Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee would rank in the Top 10 among Big East players, and at 6-foot-11 and 6-foot-10 they would provide the same kind of nightmare scenario that we almost got through against the Lopez brothers at Stanford. With Austin Rivers (#37 if in Big East, 6-foot-4) lobbing it into them and 6-foot-10 Miles Plumlee (#27), MU would have to force them to play small to win.
Kentucky #1 seed, computer says lose by 7
I know we have the history on Kentucky, but Anthony Davis would rank as by far the Big East Player of the Year with an incredible 12.45% value to Kentucky. That means that that hypothetically MU could beat Kentucky 71-70 without Davis, that Davis’ presence would change the score to 75-67 Kentucky – a 9-point swing. Which is not to ignore the fact that Kentucky has three other players that would be in the Top 10 of the Big East. We’ve done a good job of getting opposing big men in foul trouble – that’s how Indiana beat Kentucky and MU could do the same.
Ohio State #1 seed, computer says lose by 8
Jared Sullinger was the preseason Player of the Year based on Total Value, and if he hadn’t battled injuries earlier he would be close to Davis for the honor. However, while the computer ranks OSU a slightly tougher game than Kentucky, when looking at the five top players of each – OSU is clearly not quite at the level of Kentucky. Even with the injuries, 6-foot-9 Sullinger would rank as the third best player in the Big East, and 6-foot-2 Aaron Craft isn’t far behind at #13.
Syracuse #1 seed, computer says lose by 5
And if we somehow ran the gauntlet and the other seeds played out in Alan’s bracket, that would leave MU playing Syracuse for the national title – and hoping for a repeat of the magic in Cleveland last year.
Below is a list of the top 7 players in the Total Value system for all of Marquette’s players as well as all of the opponents in this hypothetical run. The offensive figure is the percent the player increases his team’s scoring by over the course of the season, and the Def number is the percent of points he takes away from opponents. The Total Value is the combination of the two. For non-Big East players, a listed where they would rank if they played in the Big East.
|Other Top 20 Big East||Team||Ht||Off||Def||Total|
Written by JohnPudner at 3:33 AM
Monday, February 13, 2012
The bracket is starting to solidify itself as we are less than a month away from Selection Sunday. Kentucky and Syracuse both seem like near-locks for 1-seeds. Missouri has moved up to the 1-line as well. While they have a weak non-conference SOS, wins over Baylor and Kansas while only suffering 2 losses make the Tigers impossible to ignore, though it may be to their detriment, as the last 1-seed will almost certainly play out West, which prevents Mizzou from a near-home game in St. Louis. Ohio State is the last team on the top line.
In terms of bids, the Big Ten leads the way with 9 bids, as Northwestern moves into the field. Again the Big East is one back with 8 bids. The SEC and Big 12 both have 5, the A-10, Mountain West, and ACC have 4 apiece, the West Coast and C-USA each get 3, and the Missouri Valley has 2.
The last 4 byes went to Purdue, Xavier, Illinois, and Dayton. The last 4 teams in the field are Minnesota, Colorado State, Iowa State, and UCF. The lowest RPI for an at-large team is Dayton at 71 while the lowest Pomeroy rating is Colorado State at 109.
The first four teams out are Miami, Mississippi, Wyoming, and Texas. The next four teams out are NC State, Arizona, Mississippi, and Cincinnati. The highest RPI snub is St. Joseph's at 48. The highest Pomeroy snub is Texas at 23.
For Marquette, I think this is the best bracket so far. While VCU may have magic left in those slippers, the real hope is for Marquette to either expose Murray State or reacquaint themselves with Rick Majerus in the second round. While the expected marquee match-up in the Southeast would be Kentucky v Duke, Marquette could crash that party. While it may not be the easiest path (that goes to Syracuse's paved road to the Final Four) it would be a road Marquette could successfully travel.
And at the bottom...it's a very soft bubble again. I look at teams like Iowa State, Colorado State, UCF, Texas, and Miami and there's very little difference, except that all of them look more like NIT teams than they do NCAA teams. For that matter, I'm not overly impressed with some of the higher seeds, as Seton Hall looks nothing like a 10-seed, West Virginia's 10 losses are too many to be in the field right now (yet they were an easy inclusion), and it baffles me how the slumps of teams like Xavier, Illinois, and Dayton haven't cost them bids yet.
I will be continuing to update this periodically in the thread at MUScoop. I still plan to do a weekly bracket, but for mid-week updates, check out the thread on the Scoop.
Written by Alan Bykowski at 11:44 PM