"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Monday, March 12, 2018

Game over man! Game over! (NCAA Tournament Edition)

Well, it was apparent to anyone other than Phil that MU wasn't going to make the NCAA tournament, so we talk through it and resolve our feelings. We also talk the NIT bracket and match-up sponsored by Arby's. We will also spend some time wondering around the national stage on various topics from the selection committee to the Selection Show sponsored by Milli Vanilli. It's a long podcast so you are just going to need to listen to the whole thing, we think it'll be cathartic. Enjoy!

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Friday, March 09, 2018

Waiting in Auburn in MU Jersey for Noon Tip-off: 13 Teams for 7 Spots

We may take an extended lunch today in the office with four people in Auburn gear, one in Alabama gear, and then me in the Jae Crowder Marquette jersey. The Auburn and Marquette interests are aligned today, as Auburn can hurt the chances of their rival Alabama and in turn help Marquette.

Tipoff is in half an hour and my preseason selection of Auburn as the No. 11 team in the country (while another sports writer picked them to go 4-14) won reviews from local press. However, the 23-3 team I predicted could go as far as the Final Four then lost one of their only players with height, Anfernee McLemore, and is 2-3 since. They are still a 6-point favorite.

If you average the subjective brackets of CBS Sports' Jerry Palm, ESPN's Joe Lunardi, the composite Bracket Matrix, and the two most accurate Mathematical predictors (ESPN's Strength of Record, and Dance Card) Marquette averages as next to last team in the tournament and Alabama as the next to last, so a win from Alabama may push Marquette down another spot:

(updates new Friday Bracket Matrix - Alabama moved up 4 spots to 5, UCLA up 2 spots to 1, MU drops 2 spots to 12 and MTSU drops 4 spots to 8). On the overall average of these 5, that leaves Marquette within one point of MTSU 6.0, Lville 6.2, Alabama 6.4, MU 6.9 prior to the Auburn game)

up to 7 bids of 13   PalmLunardiMatrixSORDanceAve.Today
Alabama10551116.4Auburn Noon +6
Arizona State910713119.8Done
Notre Dame11913101311.2Done
Oklahoma State138105129.8Done
Saint Mary's234785Done
USC6131265.4Oregon 10:30 pm -3
UCLA121873.8Arizona 8 pm +3

However, while averages are nice, the fact that Marquette ranks everywhere from 2nd to 12th in trying to claim seven spots shows that we do not know - Alabama could be easily ahead of Marquette already or could be far enough behind that even another win does not get them past Marquette.

Tonight's games for USC and UCLA could also be important. Most have them both ahead of Marquette, but not all. Even Lunardi, the least favorable for Marquette, stated at the beginning of the conference tournament that either team could be eliminated if they lose in the semifinals.

Marquette fans should root for Auburn, Oregon, and Arizona tonight, and would then want Arizona to win the Pac-12 title over Oregon to avoid have the Ducks take a spot and only allow six of the 13 above make it.

Six other games cold matter today, as they three conferences that would "steal" a bid with a surprise champion are the Mountain West, Atlantic 10, and American Athletic. The nightmare scenario would be Oregon winning the Pac-12, someone besides Nevada winning the MW, someone besides St. Bonaventure or Rhode Island winning the A10, and someone besides Cincinnati, Wichita State or Houston winning the AAC. If all four of those things happened, then only three of the 13 teams above would logically make the tournament.

All the teams we are rooting for are favored from between 4 and 9 points today.

Need to winConfToday
NevadaMWSD St 8 pm -4
Rhode IslandA10VCU 11 am -8
St. BonaventureA10Rich 5 p.m. -9
CincinnatiAACSMU 11 am -8
Wichita StateAACTemple 6 pm -9
HoustonAACUCF 8 pm -8

Auburn is a disaster. About to drop to 2-4 since the injury to Anfernee McLemore.

Turning my attention to possible spoilers, I guess I see up to 5 conferences that theoretically could have one - so will root against these teams, though some still need to play each other.

updated Saturday after the relief over Rhode Island and Cincy rallying to stop spoilers - only one spoiler (New Mexico or San Diego State with Nevada out) and only one possible additional - Davidson if they beat both St. B's and Rhode Island.

Conf Possible Spoiler
A10 Davidson - sat vs. St. B's 2:30 p.m Sat
A10 George Mason - gone
A10 Richmond - gone
A10 Saint Joseph's - eliminated semis by RI
A10 Saint Louis - gone
Amer Memphis - eliminated semis by Cincy
Amer Temple - gone
Amer Tulsa - gone
Amer UCF - gone
MWC New Mexico or San Diego state WILL steal bid
MWC San Diego St. - see above
MWC Utah St. - gone
P12 Oregon - gone
SEC Georgia - gone
SEC Mississippi St. - gone

Nothing is set in stone, the Selection Committee could have some other team in or out, but it looks like these 12 are competing with Marquette. Thanks TAMU Eagle and wisblue for your posts on MUScoop to help me narrow this down.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

The Most Bubbly Bubble Team to Ever Bubble

We'll make this summary quick, because Joe put together a great viewing guide. We talk Creighton and senior day, what our tournament fate looks like, how #mubb will play in the Big East tournament and then analyze who we want to win and/or lose for MU to get in. #noredforOwen makes an appearance as well. Enjoy!

Note: This rooting guide did not take into account small RPI points, strength of schedule boosts and other metrics. So, there may be some slight inaccuracies for that reason. This is simply bubble teams you want to lose and rooting against potential bid thieves.


It is alarming how close this “power conference” league is to being a one-bid league. Arizona is the only team not sweating Selection Sunday (now, the FBI is another story).

Root for: Arizona. Arizona State is also probably in, but I’d advise them to not lose early and make it interesting. Marquette fans, you’d much prefer Arizona to win this tournament. You are also rooting for Oregon State, not to win, but to pick off a couple bubble teams.

Root against: Washington, USC, UCLA and Utah. What’s weird is that USC, UCLA, and Utah are the 2, 3, and 4 seeds, respectively. So, the odds are at least a couple of this teams will pad their resumes enough to feel safe. Oregon State can do Marquette a big favor by picking off Washington in the 7-10 game and then USC.


While the SEC may not have a team get a top two NCAA seed, it has quite a few teams that are comfortably in and Marquette fans should feel okay with winning  the SEC tournament.

Root for: Tennessee, Auburn, Florida, Arkansas, Texas A&M to win it. Root for LSU to pull a couple upsets then go down. LSU would be a bid thief if it wins the whole thing.

Root against: Mississippi State, Alabama. Pull for LSU to take down Mississippi State in the 7-10 game. Alabama may be in regardless, but having the Tide go down to A&M wouldn’t be a bad result. Even though he’s not playing, rooting for a team with Duane Wilson on it is always easy for Marquette fans.


This should be easy for Marquette fans, because there are some teams in here that Marquette would root against no matter what.

Root for: The top seeds, just to avoid a bid thief. Duke and North Carolina are fine. Even if you don’t like Virginia, the Cavs winning is also a positive result. Root for Pitt to get an upset or two, just because it would be hilarious.

Root against: Syracuse, Notre Dame, Louisville. Again, these are all teams you’d probably root against anyway. Notre Dame is definitely an interesting case for the committee due to how good the Irish have been when healthy. However, the Irish resume is less than ideal. A first round exit to Pitt would be the nail in the coffin for the Irish. Syracuse losing to 14 seed Wake would be a great result for Marquette. Louisville has Florida State in an 8-9 game. The Cardinals may be in either way, but an early Louisville exit is certainly not a bad thing as far as Marquette is concerned.

Big 12

The Big 12 is a deep league and should definitely have seven or eight teams in. Marquette, though, is obviously rooting for seven instead of eight.

Root for: Kansas winning this thing in KC is a regular occurrence, and that would be fine with us. Texas Tech or West Virginia would also be acceptable. If you’re looking at it from a Big East perspective, an early Kansas exit may increase the likelihood of Xavier and Villanova both getting 1 seeds, but we’re just talking Marquette things here.

Root against: Lots of bubble teams: Baylor, Kansas State, Texas, and maybe even Oklahoma are sweating right now. Texas losing to Iowa State would be a disaster for the ‘Horns. I know we don’t like rooting for ISU, but suck it up and do it just this once. (Although, I feel for Texas, considering Andrew Jones is battling cancer. For that reason, I’d like to see Texas dance, not at Marquette’s expense, but the Longhorns are easy to like.) Oklahoma is still probably in, but losing to Oklahoma State would be bad for the Sooners. I am on the record that, if Marquette has to go to Dayton, let’s get nuts and play the Sooners. Trae Young vs. MU’s shooters would be wild, like a 115-113 final. But for these purposes, root for Oklahoma State to take down OU before losing to Kansas. I’m pretty sure OSU is out, but let’s not get any more teams in the bubble discussion.

Big Ten

Oh wait, they’re done. Bubble teams Penn State and Nebraska are biting their nails for a week.


Loyola Chicago winning the MVC on Sunday was a nice result for Marquette, as it guarantees Loyola Chicago won’t enter the at-large discussion. Even if MU may have a better resume, more teams to talk about is bad.

Wichita State is definitely the team you want in the American, but Houston or (grits teeth) Cincinnati would also be fine because they’re both locks. No one else in the American is acceptable. Temple scares me a little as a team talented enough to run through the AAC. And I don’t care how bad they are, UConn has done this crap before. So, beware.

In the Mountain West, Nevada is critical. The Wolfpack is a lock to make the dance. Boise State is on the wrong side of the bubble, and no one else in the MWC is close. I’m not sure Boise State can play its way to an at-large. Let’s keep this simple: Go Nevada!

As always, the WCC must be Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s. They’re both comfortably in the field, especially Gonzaga. So, root for the Zags, settle for Saint Mary’s. Any other result is bad.

In the Atlantic 10, pull hard for Rhode Island. St. Bonaventure is a bubble team that has a very good shot at being in. So, the Bonnies winning is something you could stomach I suppose, but seeing them go down early and sweat is a more preferable result. No one else in the Atlantic 10 is close to an at-large. Again, we’ll keep it simple: Pull for the Rams.

Finally, our old home of Conference USA. Middle Tennessee is the one you want here. Western Kentucky and Old Dominion have nice records but probably aren’t playing their way to an at-large bid. Similar to Loyola Chicago before Sunday, the Blue Raiders should be in the field but may be out with an early exit. The possibility that they could be added to the at-large field is not something Marquette wants. Fewer teams in the at-large discussion is better, so go Middle Tennessee!

Finally, the most important team in the rooting guide: MARQUETTE! Your Golden Eagles could make this very easy with a deep run at MSG. They have only reached the Big East semifinals twice since joining the league, and they’ve only won more than one game three times. Marquette has been one-and-done five times in Big East Tournament history. So, Marquette is due, right? Here’s to hoping for a run to the Big East title game, which means we just wrote all this for nothing!
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Saturday, March 03, 2018

Howard's 1,016 by 19th Birthday Tops Durant, Magic, Duncan, Tisdale, Curry ... well, everyone we can find

Magic Johnson scored 511 points before celebrating his 19th birthday, Steph Curry 700 points, Wayman Tisdale 810 and Kevin Durant 903. Only five players have scored 1,000 points in one season since Sports Reference started tracking in the 1980s and freshman could not even play until the early 1970s.

We looked through the greatest freshman seasons we could find, including freshman who finished in the top 50 at www.valueaddbasketball.com and lists of top freshman seasons and discovered that the majority of great freshman seasons were accomplished by players who turned 19 before they started their freshman season. So the majority total is ZERO.

And then you have the rare player who starts playing at 17 - two years younger than most of the all-time great freshmen.

Tim Duncan showed up on Wake Forest campus as a 17-year-old in 1993 and scored 860 points by the time he turned 19, and on Saturday Markus Howard celebrated his birthday by torching Creighton to bring his total to 1,016 points. We know no one has topped that total in a single freshman season, so we will leave it up to others to find someone else who came to a campus as a 17-year-old and put up two years of scoring to get to 1,000 by their 19th birthday, but for now Howard is the best ever that we can find.

RankPlayer19th birthdayby 19thTeamNotes
1Markus Howard3/3/20181,016Marquettethru sophomore season finale
2Kevin Durant11/29/2007903Texasfull freshman season
3Tim Duncan4/25/1995860Wake Forestfull freshman and soph season
4Wayman Tisdale6/9/1983810Oklahomafull freshman season
5Carmelo Anthony5/29/2003778Syracusefull freshman season
6Steph Curry3/14/2007700Davidsonday after birthday added 30 in loss to MD to end freshman season
7Jabari Parker3/15/2014633Duke37 points after birthday
8James Harden8/26/2008605Arizona St.full freshman season
9Bradley Beal6/26/2012546Floridafull freshman season
10Marvin Bagley III3/14/2018539Dukestill counting until birthday
11Jared Sullinger3/4/2011514Ohio St.121 after birthday
12Magic Johnson8/14/1978511Michigan Statefull freshman season
13Jordan Adams7/8/2013505UCLAfull freshman season
14Malik Monk2/4/2017503Kentucky251 after birthday
15Patrick Beverley7/12/2007485Arkansasfull freshman season
16Anthony Davis3/11/2012485Kentuckyfull freshman season
17Chase Budinger5/22/2007484Arizonafull freshman season
18Michael Kidd-Gilchrist9/26/2012476Kentuckyfull freshman season
19Miles Bridges3/21/2017473Michigan Statefull freshman season
20Chris Bosh24-Mar-03466Georgia Techscored 19 more in NIT loss to Bobby Knight's Texas Tech after birthday
21Tyus Jones5/10/2015461Dukefull freshman season
22Marcus Smart3/6/2013433Oklahoma St.74 after birthday
23DeJuan Blair4/22/2008429Pittsburghfull freshman season
24Justise Winslow3/26/2015425Duke67 after birthday
25Gordon Hayward3/23/2009420Butlerfull freshman season