"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

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

OK, let's relax a little.....but not too much

#mubb had a good week and we need to acknowledge that. Now that the conference season is 33.3% complete, we discuss any surprises or revelations we see in the Big East and how it might impact Marquette. We then talk the week that was with a specific focus on the continued otherworldiness of Markus Howard. Bottom line appreciate him while you still can. We then talk games this week, like why we shouldn't be scared of St John's this time around and if Butler is a wounded and therefore even more dangerous animal. Enjoy! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/9upgdx/scrambledeggs_edit_012020.mp3

Monday, January 20, 2020

The (NCAA) Killing Field

In what was a terrible week for ranked teams, I was asked if the chaos of the past seven days was good or bad for Marquette. With that in mind, I'll open with a link to my last bracket. Why? Because this wasn't just a bad week for ranked teams but it was the worst week I remember for teams in the field. Generally speaking, the 46 teams seeded one through eleven are good enough to earn an at-large bid. In the week since my last bracket, 27 of those teams combined to lose 34 games. Here is the record breakdown by seed line and the number of teams on each seed line that lost last week:

Seed Record Teams w/ losses
1 4-4 2
2 5-3 2
3 6-1 1
4 6-2 1
5 3-5 4
6 4-4 4
7 6-2 2
8 4-3 3
9 7-1 1
10 5-1 1
11 1-8 6

That's a lot of upheaval. Two 1-seeds dropped off that line. Each current 2-seed was on a different line last week. Every team on BOTH the 5 and 6 lines lost at least once. At the bottom of the bracket, every single team in my last 6 in lost at least once. For Marquette, it's safe to say when 14 of the 19 teams directly in front of you lose, it's good. And when the teams that are chasing you from behind also lose? Yeah...also good.

I've discussed how difficult this field is to seed. The reason for this is the minute differences between teams that are considered "safely in" and teams that are on the wrong side of the bubble. Consider the resumes of 5-seed Ohio State and NIT 1-seed (and first team out) Tennessee:

Ohio State Tennessee
NET 19 63
kenpom 13 56
SOS 39 49
Record 12-6 11-6
Quadrant 1 2-6 2-6
Quadrant 2 3-0 1-0
Quadrant 3 1-0 2-0
Quadrant 4 6-0 6-0

The computer numbers differ, but in terms of schedule difficulty, record, and performance against quadrants, the teams are virtually identical. When you dig into the computer numbers and the best victories, Ohio State has the edge, but that these teams are so close shows just how jumbled the field is. I would love to say this is a rarity, but these are the type of differences that make it difficult to place teams in every single line.

That said, this provides a huge opportunity for anyone who can put together a winning streak. Seton Hall's current 8-game winning streak took them from a 10-seed all the way up to a 3-seed. Marquette's 2 wins this week moved them up 2 full seed lines. Keep stringing wins together and they could move up quickly.

In a season that started with the #1 ranking being a game of hot potato and continued with the collective rankings not being worth the bandwidth the AP publishes them with, all it will take is a team going on a run to see their fortunes soar. Marquette has just as good a chance as anyone, because if the season to date is any indicator, teams are going to keep losing and the protected seeds will be anyone's to claim. Here's the updated, post-chaos S-Curve:


2-Seeds: 8-Louisville 7-FLORIDA STATE 6-Butler 5-Duke
3-Seeds: 9-DAYTON 10-MICHIGAN STATE 11-SETON HALL 12-West Virginia
4-Seeds: 16-Kentucky 15-Maryland 14-Villanova 13-Oregon
5-Seeds: 17-Iowa 18-Creighton 19-Auburn 20-Ohio State
6-Seeds: 24-Penn State 23-Michigan 22-Arizona 21-LSU
7-Seeds: 25-Rutgers 26-Memphis 27-Colorado 28-Marquette
8-Seeds: 32-Arkansas 31-Stanford 30-Wisconsin 29-Wichita State
9-Seeds: 33-HOUSTON 34-Virginia Tech 35-USC 36-Indiana
10-Seeds: 40-Illinois 39-Texas Tech 38-NC State 37-Oklahoma
11-Seeds: 41-DePaul 42-Purdue 43-Florida/44-Byu 45-St. Mary's/46-Minnesota

Last Four Byes: Texas Tech, Illinois, DePaul, Purdue
Last Four In: Florida, BYU, St. Mary's, Minnesota
NIT 1-Seeds: Tennessee, St. Louis, Georgetown, Richmond
NIT 2-Seeds: Xavier, Virginia, VCU, Washington

Multi-bid Leagues
Big 10: 12
Big East: 6
Big 12: 5
Pac-12: 5
SEC: 5
ACC: 5
WCC: 3
American: 3

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

This team is average, that is neither good nor bad it is just....average

So how was everyone's week? Good? Oh wait, it was bad because your favorite college basketball lost two games that they should have won at least one of? Samesies. So we talk the week that was, why Marquette looks bad all of a sudden, and what can change. That leads to a discussion of reality that this team is apparently just an average team and Wojo may be an average coach, which is a thing. After we work through acceptance of where everything is we talk about the week ahead and can #mubb turn it around Xavier and Georgetown. We close out with predictions and a {checks notes} new #mubb catch phrase? Enjoy! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/zdvy4m/scrambledeggs_edit_011320.mp3

Monday, January 13, 2020

Making Chicken Soup Out Of...

A week ago, Marquette reached their highest point on my S-Curve of the young season, reaching #22 as the second-highest 6-seed. Two losses later and they are at the lowest point of the season, falling 14 spots to #36 as the last 9-seed. Since panic mode basically defines the Marquette fanbase, I thought I'd discuss what they need to do to get a bid.

What I'm going to do is use T-Rank to approximate where Marquette would be with various results. I am starting with a 7-11 conference record, projecting wins in all the home games except Butler. I will then add wins one at a time. I will also try to find a comparison for Marquette to a team from last year's NCAA field, the first year NET was used.

17-13 (7-11)
Q1: 3-11 / Q2: 7-1 / Q3: 2-1 / Q4: 5-0

According to T-Rank, this would have us in the field as the last buy, so narrowly avoiding Dayton. For our comparison team, we will use Florida, who went 17-14 and had quadrant numbers of 3-11 in Q1, 3-1 in Q2, 6-2 in Q3, and 5-0 in Q4. I would also like to remind readers that Florida team made the field and did so somewhat comfortably as a 100-seed. Honestly, the biggest difference between this Marquette resume and that Florida resume is Marquette having a more difficult Q2/3 split with better results. That said, I think 7-11 would still be very unnerving come Selection Sunday and depend on how the computer numbers viewed Marquette. It would give us a chance, however.

18-12 (8-10)
Q1: 4-10 / Q2: 7-1 / Q3: 2-1 / Q4: 5-0

According to T-Rank, this moves us up two spots, but one of the lessons we learned last year was that who you beat matters.Getting this 8th win will mean getting one on the road. The most likely is DePaul according to the projections, which would help, but far more so if they remain Quadrant 1. They are at the moment, so we will leave them there for our purposes, but beating Xavier, Villanova, or Butler on the road would be far more positive. For a comparison, let's look at Mississippi from last year. They went 20-11 with quadrant splits of 4-10 in Q1, 3-1 in Q2, 7-0 in Q3, and 6-0 in Q4. Mississippi earned an 8-seed with that. I think Marquette's quantity of Q2 wins would likely offset the Q3 loss they suffered, but that's still one more total loss so this should get us to a 9-seed. Safely in, but not so safe you don't wipe a few sweat beads.

19-11 (9-9)
Q1: 4-10 / Q2: 8-0 / Q3: 2-1 / Q5: 5-0

This adds the Providence road win, which takes away one of the sub-Q1 losses. Now this is a virtually identical comparison to that Ole Miss team from the last example. If Marquette gets to .500 in league play, expect an 8-seed or better.

While silver linings are hard to see after a couple losses, this team is still in position that they can get a bid. Personally, just getting a bid would be a disappointment, but you can't make a run in March if you aren't in the field in the first place, so from that unfortunate perspective we move forward. 7-11 gives us a chance, 8-10 likely gets us in, and 9-9 or better would have this team safely in the field of 68 on Selection Sunday. It's even possible this team could get in at 6-12, but it would depend heavily on who they beat, such as a sweep of Butler included in those wins. Here's the entire field as it stands:

2-Seeds: 8-AUBURN 7-West Virginia 6-Kansas 5-SAN DIEGO STATE
3-Seeds: 9-OREGON 10-Florida State 11-DAYTON 12-MICHIGAN STATE
4-Seeds: 16-Seton Hall 15-Louisville 14-Villanova 13-WICHITA STATE
5-Seeds: 17-Maryland 18-Michigan 19-Ohio State 20-Kentucky
6-Seeds: 24-Indiana 23-Penn State 22-Stanford 21-Creighton
7-Seeds: 25-Colorado 26-Arizona 27-Arkansas 28-Iowa
8-Seeds: 32-Memphis 31-Virginia Tech 30-Wisconsin 29-Oklahoma
9-Seeds: 33-Rutgers 34-Lsu 35-Byu 36-Marquette
10-Seeds: 40-Usc 39-Vcu 38-St. Mary's 37-Illinois
11-Seeds: 41-Xavier 42-Oklahoma State 43-Purdue/44-Tennessee 45-St. John's/46-St. Louis

NIT 1-Seeds: Texas Tech, Minnesota, DePaul, Arizona State
NIT 2-Seeds: Georgetown, Florida, Houston, Oregon State

Also Considered: Utah, Georgia, NC State, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Utah State, Virginia, Washington

Multi-bid Leagues
Big 10: 11
Big East: 7
Big 12: 5
SEC: 5
ACC: 4
WCC: 3
Atlantic-10: 3
American: 2

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Throwback Thursday: MU 1977 vs. Team That Made Even Bigger History

Halfway between a heartbreaking loss and perhaps the toughest game of the year seemed like a good time for a Throwback Thursday match-up in my 96 team tournament using the Value Add Basketball Game.

As much history as Marquette made in 1977, after defeating Utah the drew the team that made the ultimate history in the second round. Texas Southern won the 1966 national championship with the first all Black starting line-up by fittingly defeating Rupp and Kentucky from the segregated SEC.

The first thing I saw when laying out the player cards was that his was the ultimate defensive battle in my tournament to date. The cards are adjusted by era and level of competition faced, and these rates two of the toughest defenses from among the 96 great teams in the tournament but with good but not great offenses.

I write up the simple box score by the players after tracking plays on the scoresheet. By those numbers and the running score (if you stretch out the photo above) you will see that despite Jerome Whitehead and Bo Ellis combining for 25 rebounds, everyone on the Texas Southern team forced missed shots and grabbed rebounds on both ends of the court for my tournament high 46 rebounds to 35 for Marquette.

Just when they started to pull away, taking a 45-37 lead with 10:55 with points very hard to come by, Ellis (11 points, 12 rebounds) started a long rally with an offensive rebound, basket and foul drawn followed by a hit free throw.

While both teams continued to brutally stop almost every half court set the rest of the game, Butch Lee (19 points, 5 steals) started four fast breaks off of his steals in the final 10 minutes, the last one a steal and fast break bucket to finally give MU a 53-52 lead with less than a minute to play.

However Orsten Artis scored the game-winner for the Texas Southern 54-53 win, to give him 10 points. If he had missed and Marquette grabbed the rebound, the Marquette would have won and no player on the balanced Texas Southern team would have hit double figures.

Texas Southern, which would later become UTEP, advances to play the winner of Kawhi Leonard's San Diego State and of 2011 and a Big East team Marquette knows all to well, the 2013 Louisville national champs. I track all results at www.pudnersports.com. Here is the entire West Region bracket.

Monday, January 06, 2020

It was bad and then it was good, welcome to the Marquette experience

Just your typical week for a Marquette fan, get boat raced against Creighton and then turn around and largely dominate a top 10 team in Villanova. We talk take-aways from the Creighton game, including the revelation that Theo John needs surgery after the season. We then talk about the Villanova game and what we get out of that game that we think carry forward. We then talk the games coming up with week, how much we hate Seton Hall, and make some predictions. We close out the pod with a somewhat tongue in cheek analysis of why Wojo doesn't have a personality. Enjoy! https://scrambledeggs.podbean.com/mf/play/iwyv37/scrambledeggs_edit_010520.mp3

Bigs are Better?

A number of things stand out with this latest S-Curve, most notably the dominance of conferences that begin with "Big". The Big 10, Big East, and Big 12 account for 20 of the 36 at-large bids. While the Pac-12 makes a respectable showing, leagues that expect to be in the mix for the bid lead like the ACC and SEC placed a pedestrian 4 teams each.

Since this is a Big East blog, we'll start there. 80% of the teams remain in the field with Georgetown falling out after their 0-2 league start. While Butler, Marquette, and Seton Hall all moved up after respectable league starts, DePaul, St. John's, and Georgetown all went the other way. Those teams boast some nice Quadrant 1 wins, which keep them in the mix, but they can't afford losses to Providence or at home against each other if they want to remain viable.

The Big 10 boasts strength and balance. They have four teams in protected seed positions and 7/9 would be first round favorites. Further, with Illinois and Minnesota just on the outside looking in they are in position to place 10+ teams in the field if things go well. Wisconsin jumps into the mix after impressive wins at Tennessee (who crashed from the 10 line to a NIT 4-seed) and Ohio State. This is a positive for Marquette fans as that loss at Wisconsin looks better now on paper.

Finally, we have the Big 12. While 6 bids is only average by Big 12 standards, having half of those teams on the top two seed lines is incredibly impressive. The Big 12 at the moment is definitely the strongest league at the top. How good is the trio of Kansas, Baylor, and West Virginia? Consider this: there are only 3 teams from high-major leagues with multiple Quadrant 1A wins and no losses outside Quadrant 1. All three are from the Big 12.

At the top of the bracket, the Big 12 stands out, with half their teams on the top two seed lines.

2-Seeds: 8-West Virginia 7-SAN DIEGO STATE 6-Ohio State 5-Baylor
3-Seeds: 9-AUBURN 10-Oregon 11-Penn State 12-Maryland
4-Seeds: 16-Wichita State 15-MICHIGAN STATE 14-DAYTON 13-Florida State
5-Seeds: 17-Michigan 18-Louisville 19-Villanova 20-Creighton
6-Seeds: 24-Iowa 23-Seton Hall 22-Marquette 21-ARIZONA
7-Seeds: 25-Oklahoma 26-Colorado 27-Stanford 28-Kentucky
8-Seeds: 32-St. Mary's 31-Indiana 30-Memphis 29-Arkansas
9-Seeds: 33-Wisconsin 34-Xavier 35-Texas Tech 36-HOUSTON
10-Seeds: 40-Byu 39-Oklahoma State 38-Vcu 37-LIBERTY
11-Seeds: 41-Rutgers 42-DePaul 43-Usc 44-Virginia/45-Lsu
12-Seeds: 50-FURMAN 49-LOUISIANA TECH 48-YALE 47-Washington/46-St. John's

Last Four Byes: BYU, Rutgers, DePaul, USC
Last Four In: Virginia, LSU, St. John's, Washington

NIT 1-Seeds: Georgia, NC State, Illinois, Minnesota
NIT 2-Seeds: Georgetown, Virginia Tech, Richmond, Florida

Multi-bid Leagues
Big 10: 9
Big East: 8
Big 12: 6
Pac-12: 6
ACC: 4
SEC: 4
West Coast: 3
American: 3
Atlantic 10: 2