"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

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Let's Save the Season

 Is this the final image of 2020 NCAA Basketball? | Photo from USA Today

There is a lot of pessimism around the 2020-21 NCAA Basketball season. In April, I predicted that St. John's/Creighton would be the last NCAA Basketball of the 2020 calendar year. After seeing TBT create a safe environment that ended in the best way possible, with the Marquette alums lifting a trophy, I've reconsidered that notion.

Diener's only TBT Title Game Basket was the winner | Photo from TBT Staff

TBT showed that basketball is possible and the NCAA has to do everything they can to salvage the 2020-21 season. I feel this is possible and needs to be done in three phases: non-conference, conference, and postseason. All three are vital. Without non-conference play to serve as a barometer between leagues, tools like the NET are meaningless. Without conference play, we don't have the foundation for the postseason tournaments. And all of it will funnel into one oversized NCAA Tournament.

Phase I: Non-Conference Play

In COVID world, Multi-Team Events, or MTEs, such as the Maui Invitational or the Hall of Fame Tip-Off that Marquette is scheduled to play in seem impossible. Why take groups of students from all over the country, bring them to one location for a week to mix germs, then send them back? Those feel like super-spreader events. Watching TBT has changed my thinking on that, and now I believe that MTEs are the best way to have non-conference play.

 Markus Howard taking on VCU in Maui | Photo by Brian Spurlock, USA Today

According to Blogging The Bracket, there are 46 MTEs scheduled for this year. I would propose that each of those MTEs does everything they can to fill their slates. Ideally, everyone takes 8 teams. That would be more than enough for every Division I program that wants to play non-con games to get into an event. As it seems universities are planning to complete the first semester before Thanksgiving, that is when the season would start. If teams want to sit out, so be it, but this gives them all an opportunity.

Every participating team would go to their designated event for a 10-day quarantine starting on November 25. Each team would get mass testing and be kept apart and sequestered to a hotel during that time, similar to TBT. The cost of testing would be shared by the participating schools, their conferences, and the event coordinators. This will allow everyone in each event to be on a level testing ground. If a team has to be removed from an event due to positive tests, so be it, this format will allow teams to move forward even if teams have to be removed.

Games begin December 5th and go until December 20th. During that 16-day span, every team will play each other in a round robin. This should mostly allow teams to get a day or two off between games.The goal will be to play up to 7 games during this period. If tournaments are unable to fill up 8 slots or have teams disqualified due to positive tests, they can schedule additional games as the calendar allows or simply go forward with the games they are able to play.

Current non-conference arrangements will be pushed back a year unilaterally. If you have a series going or conference challenges, they all get pushed back. All the leagues will have to agree to that and accept that 2020-21 is going to be an exceptional year. For the most part, everyone should get 5-7 games. While it's not complete, it's enough data that the NET will be able to function. This is going to be critical once we get to March.

Phase II: Conference Play

From December 21st to 26th, everyone will get a brief holiday break. That's about the same as Marquette gives their players most years (December 2015 and 2017 were exactly that), so this isn't abnormal. Once the break is done, each of these teams move into their second bubble for conference play. This will start with a 9-day quarantine from December 27th to January 4th. Games will begin January 5th and go until January 24th, a 20-day stretch that takes teams right up to the start of Spring semester classes.

Koby McEwen drives at the Finneran Pavilion | Photo by Brian Hartline, USA Today

Leagues would then select another neutral site for their games. My proposal would be campus sites which are easiest to control. In the Big East, I feel the Finneran Pavilion would be the ideal site for all the games, rewarding Villanova as essentially the eternal champs of the new league and allowing for the league to have full control. Every league would be allowed to pick where they want to play their games, but it would be one static location to allow for another TBT-styled bubble.

Over these 20 days, leagues will be encouraged to get each of their teams 10 games. While it won't be much, those 10 games will be the entirety of regular season conference play. It's enough to seed conference tournaments. While it won't guarantee round-robins in leagues and some teams that are rivals won't see each other, this remains an extraordinary year. If leagues wanted to cram more games into that window, they could, but this would generally allow everyone to get the same number of games with some rest time in between games. After conference play, student-athletes would return to their respective campuses to carry on with their semester until we get to postseason play.

Phase IIIa: Conference Tournaments

This is where it gets dicey. Using the current schedule, the non-conference and conference portions of the season listed above would have minimal impact on the school year because it all happens during the extended winter break. Now that we get to the postseason, there's no real way to do this without infringing on classes and with greater infection risk. While this happens regularly throughout the year, this proposal will take some players out of classes for extended periods of time. This is where athletic directors and educators would have to earn their money and figure out the best way to address both academic and athletic needs.

 Jay Wright in a familiar position | Photo from Getty Images

Regardless, here is the plan. Leagues will select a site and have teams quarantine starting on February 27th. This allows for a 10-day quarantine with all leagues playing their tournaments between March 9th to 13th. That is a 5-day stretch that allows every league to play a full tournament. Every team will be expected to stay in the conference tournament bubble until March 14th, which will be Selection Sunday. Anyone leaving their conference tournament bubble early will be ineligible for NCAA Tournament selection.

Phase IIIb: Selection Sunday

This is where things get crazy. First of all, there will be a larger NCAA Tournament field. Because there is no NIT, the field will get a one-time expansion to 96 teams. This will also accommodate what would be a significantly larger bubble because teams won't have as many opportunities to prove themselves with 17-22 games the entire sample size. With 96 teams chosen, there is no chance anyone worthy will be left out.

 Kentucky's Mitch Barnhart heads the 2021 Selection Committee | Photo by Michael Huang

Rather than 4 regions as usual, this bracket will have 8 regions. The first 32 teams into the field will be the conference tournament winners. To minimize travel, these teams will be sorted by NET. The top 8 teams will be sent to regions in a manner that is most geographically advantageous to everyone. This process will repeat with teams 9-16, 17-24, and 25-32. So the top four seeds in each region will be conference tournament winners and they will get a bye in the first round.

The next 32 spots will go to the regular season conference champions. If a team is a double-champion, that will create another at-large bid. While it may seem this would encourage potential double-champions to lose in a conference final to get their league another bid, it would also take them out of the top-32 and a first-round bye. That alone should be motivation enough for everyone to want to play to the buzzer in their conference tournaments.

The remaining spots will all go to at-large teams. The Selection Committee will pick as many teams as necessary to fill the 96 spots. However, rather than seeding those teams, the 64 remaining teams will be allowed to pick their place in the bracket in order of final season NET rankings. This will allow for teams to choose based on travel, matchup strategy, or even based on a team they particularly want to play, maybe opening up elimination games between rivals.

The highest ranked NET team can pick any open play-in game they choose, the second highest will pick, and so on. This will create an entertaining bracket that guarantees every league gets to play in the round of 64 and powerhouse teams can try to tailor their path based on the available regions.

Phase IIIc: The Eight Regionals

On Selection Sunday, every team still remaining at a conference tournament site will be tested. 12 teams will immediately go to the 8 sites that were slated for first and second round games: Boise, Dallas, Detroit, Lexington, Providence, Raleigh, San Jose, and Wichita. As all of these teams were in conference tournament bubbles, they will go with the assumption they are healthy. In the event that any of the 96 teams heading to one of the above destinations tests positive, they can be replaced by the Selection Committee. If it is a top-32 team, the conference they represent may send a team of their choosing that tested negative on Selection Sunday. If it is an at-large team, the Selection Committee will choose the replacement from the entire field of teams that tested negative. In the event a conference is unable to send a team, the Selection Committee will choose a replacement from the field of unselected teams.

 Marquette's ideal regional would be a Detroit homecoming | Photo from gomarquette.com

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the at-large teams will play their Round of 96 games to get into the full 64-team field. On Thursday and Friday, those winners will advance to play the top-32 seeded teams in the Round of 64. On Saturday and Sunday, we get the Round of 32. Finally, on Monday and Tuesday, the 16 remaining teams will play to go to the Elite Eight with regional play wrapping up on March 23rd. Each region will then move their champions on. In the event a team tests positive after winning their regional but before the Elite Eight, their regional will be presumed infected. The highest rated NET runner-up from a healthy regional will take their place in the Elite Eight. It is unlikely, but possible in this vein that a team could lose in the Sweet 16 and still advance to the Elite Eight and even win the title. Ultimately, the product needs to be there, so someone is going to fill that spot.

Phase IIId: The Elite Eight

The regional winners will advance to Indianapolis for the final week of basketball. The challenge is that the teams still in the tournament will be in bubbles for more than a month once this is all said and done. However, more than 70% of the programs will be back on campus in just over 2 weeks and more than 97% will return to campus after about 3 weeks. Schools will need to plan out the classroom side, but it doesn't feel insurmountable for those programs. And if 97% are done in 3 weeks, having the final eight teams put in one more week doesn't seem like too big of an ask.

Marquette would try to improve on their 2013 Elite 8 effort if they made Indy | Photo from Bucks Local News

As mentioned above, these spots need to be filled. The eight regional winners will advance and simply transition from one bubble to another. If one needs to be replaced, so be it. Teams will travel to Indianapolis on Wednesday and begin play the next day. All four Elite Eight games will be played on Thursday, the Final Four will be played on Saturday, and the Championship game will be played on Monday, March 29th. Despite a 96 team tournament, it will wrap up a week earlier and we will have what is truly the Maddest March in history.

Final Thoughts

At this moment, I think this season happening is a long-shot. Our inability to stem the spread of COVID has made it realistic that we could lose two consecutive NCAA Tournaments, and the financial fallout over college sports would be devastating. While this wouldn't completely recoup those losses, it would help in many ways.

It would give everyone a chance to get some games. And the MTE non-conference style of play would likely give some television exposure to programs that don't often get it. They may need to figure out how to share that revenue, but hopefully it would help some of the programs that are already deep in the red. The conference season would be truncated, but a 15-17 game schedule for everyone that wants it would at least give teams a chance to get some games in. And with every league having the chance to send two teams, even the Ivy League or leagues like that could sit out non-con play and still make noise in March.

Finally, there are a couple of changes that I think could be positives in the long run. I think the NCAA Selection Process would be far more interesting if teams were strategically picking where they were going to play rather than just being assigned a spot. Also, I truly think that only at-large teams should be involved in the play-in games. If you win your conference tournament, you should be in the main field, period.

I hope this provides a little food for thought and would love to hear your thoughts on if this would work and if not, other ways to save the season.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Summer #mubb podcast, we have a guest!

Scrambled Eggs is getting a little serious, figuratively and literally. First, we got a guest, and a great guest at that! Joe Chapman, former #mubb guard and current coach of #TBT Golden Eagles Alumni team, joins the podcast to talk about things like The Tournament, his experience at MU, using a platform for change, and how you build a competitive team. We then react to the interview and discuss the excitement around live US sports if only for a moment. We then turn to some serious conversations around will we have a season and what does it look like, Coach Killings' efforts with Coaches for Action, the Black Lives Matter efforts, and the impact on the team/players. We close out the podcast with DJ Carton being immediately eligible and the impact on our forecast for the season. As always, enjoy!


Thursday, June 11, 2020

Marquette Non-Con Rapid Reaction

Marquette Non-Con Schedule | Photo from @MarquetteMBB Twitter

Marquette Twitter released their initial Non-Conference schedule today. While I plan to dig further into all the teams later in the year, I thought I'd give some rapid reactions since we've generally been starved of content for the past couple months. We'll do a quick hit on each team in the order they appear.

Lehigh: Under Brett Reed, Lehigh had never finished as a sub-300 kenpom team before. Frontcourt injuries were largely responsible for that, as they started off 3-10 without center Nic Lynch, won their next game with a full roster, then went 2-9 without forward James Karnik. They finished 5-3 with both healthy, but Karnik left for Boston College as a transfer. Most everyone else returns, so expect an improvement from Lehigh. Somewhere in the 200-250 range seems about right.

Albany: Marquette fans can empathize with the Albany faithful as a relatively successful season was derailed by a 6 game losing streak to end the year. They do return 5 players that started at least half their games a season ago and will hope Loyola-MD transfer Chuck Champion can help replace the scoring punch lost when PG Ahmad Clark graduated. Head Coach Will Brown will help his veteran group can return to the top-200 status they have usually enjoyed under his tenure.

Gavitt Game: We don't know the opponent yet, but I think I can round it down to one of three teams. First, Wisconsin is out since we already play them. Next, I expect Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and Maryland to be on the road since all have already played 2 home games in the series. That leaves three teams that I expect to be playing home games: Michigan State, Purdue, and Rutgers. As Michigan State will likely get either Creighton or Villanova and Marquette has already played Purdue twice, my money is on a road game at the RAC.

Rhode Island: The Rams lost two starters to graduation and Jacob Toppin to transfer. This was already Fatts Russell's team and he will be on the short list for A-10 POY to start the season. Expect URI fans to make this a road environment for Marquette, but the greater talent will be on our side of the court. The danger is that URI is still an experienced team and will be a tough test. Winnable game, but certainly not easy.

UCF/Minnesota: The Knights, like Rhode Island, project as a middle-of-their-league team in a lesser league than the Big East. Johnny Dawkins has been a decent coach and returns most of last year's team, but the talent level has taken a hit from the team that took Duke to the limit in the last NCAA Tournament. They will be slow-paced and well-coached, but beatable. If it's Minnesota, they were the only top-50 kenpom team (#27) with a losing record last year. The Gophers have a solid backcourt in Marcus Carr and Gabe Kalscheur but lost the bulk of their frontcourt. Expect Western Michigan transfer Brandon Johnson to have a big role early on.

Chicago State: This is arguably the worst program in Division I. They had one player with an adjusted offensive rating over 90. This should be a mauling.

Western Michigan: I imagine this game may have been scheduled as the Vermont, Fresno, Buffalo, North Dakota State type of guarantee game three months ago. Then the Broncos' top two scorers transferred (including the aforementioned Brandon Johnson). Now Clayton Bates needs his very young but talented team to grow up quickly. Before slumping the past two years, WMU had been a top-200 team in kenpom 9 straight seasons. Unfortunately, those transfers will likely relegate them to the 200-300 range again.

Oklahoma State: This home game kicks off a brutal three-game stretch. The Cowboys had the look of a NCAA contender before their recent postseason ban. Now the best freshman in the country, Cade Cunningham, may be headed either to another program or the G-League academy. They still have Big 12 talent and a couple of potential breakout stars in Isaac Likekele and Yor Anei, but Cunningham was definitely the guy everyone would be coming to see. The good news is grad transfer sniper Ferron Flavors has committed to staying, but their fate hinges on Cunningham's decision.

UW-Madison: A lot will be expected from this Badger team that expects to start 5 seniors with a sixth expected to factor in off the bench. Expect them to start in the top 10-15 range and be the marquee name on the schedule. Greg Gard had them playing great down the stretch and they went 16-5 after Micah Potter entered the lineup. Definitely the toughest non-con test unless Michigan State's name shows up as that road Gavitt Game.

UCLA: After a dismal start under Mick Cronin, the Bruins bought in and finished the season on an 11-3 surge. Many had them pencilled into the top-20 before star recruit Daishen Nix left the program for the G-League academy. They still return virtually their entire rotation and add former five-star Kentucky recruit Johnny Juzang. This will be a tough road test to set the table for Big East play.

Jackson State: The obligatory punching bag game before Big East play truly starts, the Tigers will have some similarities to last year's Marquette team. Tristan Jarrett was fourth in the percent of shots taken nationally and will dominate the ball similar to how Markus Howard did, especially with second leading scorer Roland Griffin gone. They lose three other starters as well, so this should be a comfortable win.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

#MUBB Happy Hour

So we did a thing, we organized a Zoom happy hour with notable Marquette social media "personalities" and we recorded it. Big thanks to Tim Blair, Ben Snider, Sam Newberry, Alan Bykowski, and Patrick Leary for joining the chat and raising the overall quality of the podcast considerably. I'd go through all the stuff we talked about but it was all over the map and you'll just have to listen.....what else you have to do? Enjoy!


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Final Revised Cards for Value Add Basketball Game (topped 30,000 clicks this weekend)

We managed to update the cards for the Value Add Basketball Game so click just this pdf to print out player cards for the 100 teams projected to make the 2020 NIT or NCAA, plus other great teams from the 1943 Wyoming Cowboys to the 2019 Virginia Cavaliers. The following are the three teams I feature on the update instructions for the free game, which was clicked on for the 30,000th time this weekend. No team was allowed to have more than one great team in the game from each century, so the Marquette 1977 and 2003 teams are also included, but Bill Walton's 1972 UCLA and the team they beat in my all-time tournament, Michael Jordan's 1982 UNC Tar Heels, are the only UCLA or UNC team from the 20th century.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Scrambled Eggs is still in quarantine but that doesn't mean we can't pod

The season ended really weird and we really haven't had the chance to talk about it. We get together and first discuss the end of what was shaping up to be a disappointing season for #mubb. We then talk about the Markus Howard era, what we'll remember and what Markus' legacy will be in the coming years. That conversation leads to yet another discussion of Wojo the coach, and what options Marquette really had given the financial state of affairs given the impact Covid-19 is having of society. We also talk the departure of Stan Johnson and the return of Justin Gainey. We close out the pod with a quick examination of the recruiting trail for Wojo, the players in the transfer market and what MU needs/wants right now. Generally, we keep it light so let's hope you enjoy!


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Marquette Player Cards for 2020 Season - Jayce 6th Best Rebounder

Denied the chance to celebrate or mourn Marquette's NCAA opener, I spent a lot of time calculating and working up player cards for all 100 teams projected to make the NCAA or NIT tournament. Here is a copy of each player's card followed by an explanation of what each line means. I refer to Markus' card in the explanations just to make it easier to follow, but also note things like Theo John having one of the best shot blocking cards, and Jayce Johnson having the 6th best rebounding card of all 100 teams. After finishing the cards, I played my first Value Add Basketball Game of the tournament today, and NC State rallied to beat Richmond in the closing minute, 71-67, in a play-in game to advance to play 6-seed Penn State in the first round of the East Region.

Here is a description of what each line on the card means:

  • Markus Howard #0 - The top line is just the players name and jersey number.
  • Marquette BE, Rank: #5 - The team and conference follow (and a note if they won the conference) followed by the players Value Add ranking at www.valueaddbasketball.com - in Markus case he is rated as the 5th best player in the game.
  • Play time: PG 41-1 - The player card suggests Markus Howard plays the final 41 of 44 possessions of the game (the game starts with a 20-20 tie so we are playing the final 44 possessions of each game). The top right card is for Symir Torrence, suggesting he plays the first three possessions (44th, 43rd and 42nd). This is calculated based on assuming all players already played some of the first 22 possessions accounting for the 20-20 tie when the game actually starts. (it is easier to have the reserves play first, then finish the game with starters for as long as they can go.)
  • Gets ball on: 1(PG) 6 7 - the 8-sided die determines which player gets the ball each possession, so when Marquette has the ball, it goes to Markus on a roll of 1, 6 or 7.
  • 5'11" Start,Bench,Out: 29,0,1 - Markus is listed at 5-foot-11, and during the season he started 29 games, did not come off the bench in any of the games, and missed the one game due to injury.
  • 11-66 roll and three lines under it - on the 11-66 roll of two dice when when Markus is on defense and the opposing point guard gets the ball, he steals the ball on a roll of 11-13 (of the 11-16 possible steals), never blocks an opponent's shot (21-20 indicates not even the 21 is a block), and he only fouls on rolls of 35-36 (the players who foul a lot foul on 33-36). If he has the ball we look at the right side and he turns it over only only two of the six possible turnover numbers (a 41 or 42) which is very few for a point guard who needs to handle the ball so much. All Marquette players dunk (or in Markus case hits a scoop shot haha) on a 51-56, which is actually a calibrated adjustment for level of competition played over the course of the season. In other words, a player in the American East who had the same stats as Markus would have a much lower dunk range (perhaps even 51-50 or none) to adjust for how each player would play against average competition. On the flip side all Marquette players have a 0 on their defensive figure which adjusts the opponent's dunk range - an average defense but mediocre for a power conference team. On blocked shots note that Theo is one of the few players in the country who blocks shots on all possible block numbers, an 11-16 and then no matter who on the court has the ball he blocks it on a roll of 32.
  • 20-sided die result - if Markus has the ball and nothing happens on the 11-66 roll, then you refer to the 20-sided die and he scores a 3-pointer on a roll of 1-4, makes a 2-pointer on a roll of 5-7, draws a foul and gets two shots on 8-11, misses a 3-pointer on 12-16 and misses a 2-pointer on a 17-20.
  • 1 to 17 = free throw good Stamina 41 - if he is fouled the 20-sided die is rolled twice, and he makes the free throw on a 1-17 and misses it on a 18-20, making him an 85% free throw shooter. The Stamina number tells you how many possessions a player can play before being tired. In his case his Stamina of 41 means he will get tired if he plays more than 41 possessions (thus the suggested play possession 42-1 above) every roll of every dice is adjusted one against him (an 11 on the 20-sided die would be change to a 12 and he would miss instead of being fouled, a 34 would be a foul because it would be increased to a 35, etc,). Note that Symir has great ratios, but since his Stamina is only 3 if you play him more than 3 possessions his card gets much worse.
  • Offensive Rebound if 1 to 1, Defensive Rebound if 1-3 - Half of all rebounds go to the defense automatically, however on the other possessions the dice roll determines which player has a chance to get the rebound on a 1-6 roll. If Markus has a chance for an offensive rebound her rarely gets it (just 1 on the six-sided die) while if he has to beat an opposing offensive player to the offensive rebounder for the ball he gets it half the time (1-3). However, here is where we have a headliner. While most players just get rebounds in the 1-6 range there are some rolls in the game where the "highest on the court" gets the rebound, and if Marquette misses a shot in the game and Jayce Johnson is on the court for a potential miss then he grabs the offensive rebound as one of nine players with a higher offensive rebound number than any player's defensive rebound number with a 1-11. In fact, Jayce's 1-8 defensive rebound number means on the flip side he almost always wins the "highest on court" meaning overall he is tied as the sixth best rebounder on any of the 100 teams in the game. 

  • RebounderOff RebDef RebTotalRow2.1
    Kevin Morris #316521South Alabama
    Oscar Tshiebwe #3413821West Virginia
    Austin Wiley #5012921Auburn
    Blake Preston #3213720Liberty
    Sam Freeman #3215520Minnesota
    Jayce Johnson #3411819Marquette
    Tyrique Jones #411819Xavier
    Scottie James #3111819Liberty
    Trevion Williams #5012719Purdue

  • The team card for Marquette indicates if you simulated thousands of games using these cards against the strongest non-tournament teams, Marquette would average winning by 9 points 73-64. It also reflects that www.kenpom.com calculates Marquette is the 31st best team in the country, the 14th best offense, the 73rd best defense and played against the 20th toughest schedule in the country.  Going by Bracket Matrix, we note that Marquette would be the 9-seed in the Midwest (we ignored the rules against having teams face another team from their own conference and the s-curve and just placed each group of 4 teams with the same seed roughly based on their actual geography. We also provided seeding for 32 NIT teams and on the bottom of each card seeded them in an overall combined NIT/NCAA tournament with 25- to 1- seeds.  
To Print Out Your Teams

If you want to print out any other teams, click here and you should a list of all 300 team files like this. Each image file is numbered, so to find your team just look down the alphabetical list of teams and corresponding page numbers. Once you know the page numbers, scroll to them to print out the three pages you need and print - you will need to cut each page into four sections to have the 12 player cards for each team you plan to play.

AkronPages 1 to 3
AlabamaPages 4 to 6
ArizonaPages 7 to 9
Arizona St.Pages 10 to 12
ArkansasPages 13 to 15
AuburnPages 16 to 18
BaylorPages 19 to 21
BelmontPages 22 to 24
Boston UniversityPages 25 to 27
BradleyPages 28 to 30
ButlerPages 31 to 33
BYUPages 34 to 36
CincinnatiPages 37 to 39
ColgatePages 40 to 42
ColoradoPages 43 to 45
ConnecticutPages 46 to 48
CreightonPages 49 to 51
DaytonPages 52 to 54
DukePages 55 to 57
East Tennessee St.Pages 58 to 60
Eastern WashingtonPages 61 to 63
FloridaPages 64 to 66
Florida St.Pages 67 to 69
FurmanPages 70 to 72
GeorgetownPages 73 to 75
GonzagaPages 76 to 78
HofstraPages 79 to 81
HoustonPages 82 to 84
IllinoisPages 85 to 87
IndianaPages 88 to 90
IowaPages 91 to 93
KansasPages 94 to 96
KentuckyPages 97 to 99
LibertyPages 100 to 102
Little RockPages 103 to 105
Louisiana TechPages 106 to 108
LouisvillePages 109 to 111
LSUPages 112 to 114
MarquettePages 115 to 117
MarylandPages 118 to 120
MemphisPages 121 to 123
MerrimackPages 124 to 126
MichiganPages 127 to 129
Michigan St.Pages 130 to 132
MinnesotaPages 133 to 135
Mississippi St.Pages 136 to 138
Murray St.Pages 139 to 141
N.C. StatePages 142 to 144
New Mexico St.Pages 145 to 147
North Carolina CentralPages 148 to 150
North Dakota St.Pages 151 to 153
North FloridaPages 154 to 156
North TexasPages 157 to 159
Northern IowaPages 160 to 162
Northern KentuckyPages 163 to 165
Notre DamePages 166 to 168
Ohio St.Pages 169 to 171
OklahomaPages 172 to 174
Oklahoma St.Pages 175 to 177
OregonPages 178 to 180
Penn St.Pages 181 to 183
Prairie View A&MPages 184 to 186
ProvidencePages 187 to 189
PurduePages 190 to 192
RadfordPages 193 to 195
Rhode IslandPages 196 to 198
RichmondPages 199 to 201
Robert MorrisPages 202 to 204
RutgersPages 205 to 207
Saint LouisPages 208 to 210
Saint Mary'sPages 211 to 213
San Diego St.Pages 214 to 216
Seton HallPages 217 to 219
SienaPages 220 to 222
South AlabamaPages 223 to 225
South CarolinaPages 226 to 228
South Dakota St.Pages 229 to 231
St. John'sPages 232 to 234
StanfordPages 235 to 237
Stephen F. AustinPages 238 to 240
SyracusePages 241 to 243
TennesseePages 244 to 246
TexasPages 247 to 249
Texas TechPages 250 to 252
TulsaPages 253 to 255
UC IrvinePages 256 to 258
UCLAPages 259 to 261
USCPages 262 to 264
Utah St.Pages 265 to 267
VCUPages 268 to 270
VermontPages 271 to 273
VillanovaPages 274 to 276
VirginiaPages 277 to 279
West VirginiaPages 280 to 282
Wichita St.Pages 283 to 285
WinthropPages 286 to 288
WisconsinPages 289 to 291
Wright St.Pages 292 to 294
XavierPages 295 to 297
YalePages 298 to 300

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Simulation Sunday

Today was supposed to be Selection Sunday. For those of us that put brackets together, this is the day we look forward to all season long, to see how we did, what we got right, what we got wrong, and most important, where our team is going. Since we don't get the Selection Show, I'm going to do my Simulation Show here. I'll go region by region with the full S-Curve down at the bottom. Let's dive in:

We begin in the Midwest with the #1 overall seed, the Kansas Jayhawks, who are headed to Omaha. They will take on the winner of the First Four game in Dayton between 16-seeds UNC Central and Robert Morris. Also in Omaha it's the 8-seed Arizona Wildcats taking on the 9-seed Rutgers Scarlet Knights, making their first tournament since 1991. Moving down to St. Louis, the 5-seed BYU Cougars take on Anthony Lamb and 12th seeded Vermont, representing the America East. Also in St. Louis, the 4th seeded Louisville Cardinals out of the ACC will meet the 13-seed Liberty Flames, who earned their first ever NCAA win a year ago.

The bottom half of the bracket begins in Cleveland, where 6-seed West Virginia opens their NCAA campaign against our first representative from the Atlantic 10, the 11-seed Richmond Spiders. The winner of that game will face the winner of the game between Tom Izzo's 3-seed Michigan State Spartans and the 14-seed Eastern Washington Eagles out of the Big Sky. In St. Louis, the 7th seeded Houston Cougars will take on Mike White and the 10th seeded Florida Gators. We also have our first representative from the Big East as the 2-seed Creighton Blue Jays face off with Summit League champion and 15-seed North Dakota State Bison.

Staying on the right side of the bracket, the top seed will be the Baylor Bears, who head to Omaha to take on the 16-seed Northern Kentucky Norse. The winner there will meet the winner of 8-seed St. Mary's Gaels and your 9-seed Marquette Golden Eagles. In Greensboro, the 5-seed Ohio State Buckeyes open up against a popular giant-killer, the 12-seed Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks. Also in Greensboro, it's John Calipari and his 4th seeded Kentucky Wildcats facing off with Brian Wardle's 13-seed Bradley Braves, returning to the tournament for a second straight year.

In the bottom half of the south, we start with the 6-seed Colorado Buffalos, who will meet up with the 11-seed Indiana Hoosiers in Albany. Staying in Albany, Big East Player of the Year Myles Powell, who undeservingly looted the award for the 3-seed Seton Hall Pirates will meet up with the 14-seed Hofstra Pride and Eli Pemberton. In Tampa, it's National Player of the Year contender Luka Garza and the 7-seed Iowa Hawkeyes facing off with Bobby Hurley's 10th seeded Arizona State Wildcats. We wrap up the South also in Tampa, as the 2-seed ACC-but-not-yet-national-champions Florida State Seminoles will meet the 15-seed Little Rock Trojans who won the Sun Belt.

Let's head to the East, where we begin in Cleveland. National Player of the Year candidate Obadiah Toppin leads the #1-seed Dayton Flyers in their opening game against first-year coach Carm Marciarello and the 16-seed Siena Saints. Also in Cleveland, the 8th seeded LSU Tigers will face off with the 9th seeded Oklahoma Sooners. Moving to Tampa, it's Kamar Baldwin and the 5-seed Butler Bulldogs facing off against the 12-seed Utah State Aggies, champions of the Mountain West. Staying in Tampa, the Maryland Terrapins are the 4-seed and hoping to make their first Final Four since 2001 as they open play against the 13-seed New Mexico State Aggies, led by coach Chris Jans.

The bottom of the bracket opens in Greensboro, where the 6-seed Michigan Wolverines will take on the winner of the First Four game from Dayton between the 11th seeded Northern Iowa Panthers, who may surprise some with their inclusion, and the Cincinnati Bearcats, returning to the tournament in Coach John Brannen's first year there. Also in Greensboro, it's Coach K and the 3-seed Duke Blue Devils squaring off with another first-year coach, Casey Alexander and his 14th seeded Belmont Bruins. Moving to Albany, Pat Chambers and the 7-seed Penn State Nittany Lions both return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011, but also the first time together. They take on Steve Forbes and the East Tennessee State Buccaners, champions of the Southern Conference. The winner of that game will square off with the winner of another game in Albany as the 2-seed Villanova Wildcats take on the 15-seed UC Irvine Anteaters.

The last region, and last hope for teams on the bubble, will come in the West. We begin with Mark Few and his top seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs, who head to Spokane to meet the First Four 16-seed winner as the Prairie View A&M Panthers will meet the Boston University Terriers. The winner of that game will face off with two teams that know each other well, as this will be the third time in five years that Ed Cooley and his 8-seed Providence Friars will open NCAA play against the USC Trojans, who are the 9-seed. In Sacramento, the Auburn Tigers will try to reach a second straight Final Four as a 5-seed; they begin play against the 12-seed Yale Bulldogs. Also in Sacramento, the 4-seed Wisconsin Badgers will take on the 13-seed Akron Zips out of the MAC.

Back to Spokane, the defending champions and 6-seed Virginia Cavaliers will open play with the winners of the 11-seed First Four game between the Xavier Musketeers and the 2019 runners-up, the Texas Tech Red Raiders. This pod also includes the 3-seed Oregon Ducks, who face off against the 14-seed North Texas Mean Green from Conference-USA. Our last pod will be in Sacramento, where the 7-seed Illinois Fightin' Illini will meet the 10-seed Wichita State Shockers. And the last game we have is the 2-seed San Diego State Aztecs, who were the last undefeated team in the nation this year, meeting the 15-seed Winthrop Eagles.

Here is the full 2020 NCAA bracket:

Comments from Selection Committee Chair: "This was a year where the 1-seeds were all clear. There was complete agreement on both those teams and the regions they went to. The closest team to the top line was San Diego State, who could've got there had they won their conference tournament, but were clearly off the top line after that loss.

"There was quite a bit of discussion about the bubble. The last two teams in were Northern Iowa and Cincinnati. Both of those teams had some tough losses, but their winning records against teams in the top two quadrants and generally stronger computer numbers were what propelled them into the field over the teams that will headline the NIT."

Here is the complete seed list, as well as the top two seed lines for the NIT:

1-Seeds: 1-KANSAS 2-GONZAGA 3-Baylor 4-DAYTON
2-Seeds: 8-Villanova 7-FLORIDA STATE 6-CREIGHTON 5-San Diego State
3-Seeds: 9-Duke 10-Michigan State 11-OREGON 12-Seton Hall
4-Seeds: 16-WISCONSIN 15-Maryland 14-Louisville 13-KENTUCKY
5-Seeds: 17-Butler 18-Ohio State 19-Auburn 20-Byu
6-Seeds: 24-Colorado 23-Virginia 22-Michigan 21-West Virginia
7-Seeds: 25-HOUSTON 26-Penn State 27-Iowa 28-Illinois
8-Seeds: 32-Arizona 31-St. Mary's 30-Providence 29-Lsu
9-Seeds: 33-Marquette 34-Rutgers 35-Usc 36-Oklahoma
10-Seeds: 40-EAST TENNESSEE STATE 39-Wichita State 38-Arizona State 37-Florida
11-Seeds: 41-Richmond 42-Indiana 43-Xavier/44-Texas Tech 45-Northern Iowa/46-Cincinnati

NIT 1-Seeds: NC State, UCLA, Texas, Stanford
NIT 2-Seeds: Arkansas, St. Louis, Mississippi State, Rhode Island

Last Four Byes: Arizona State, Wichita State, Richmond, Indiana
Last Four In: Xavier, Texas Tech, Northern Iowa, Cincinnati

Multibid Leagues
Big 10: 10
Big East: 7
Pac 12: 5
Big 12: 5
ACC: 4
SEC: 4
WCC: 3
American: 3
Atlantic 10: 2
Missouri Valley: 2
Mountain West: 2

Soon Releasing Player Cards for Top 100 Teams for Simulated March Madness

While insignificant in the the whirl of world events, I decided to go ahead and produce player cards for 68 teams who theoretically would have been in this year's NCAA and another 32 that would have theoretically made the NIT tournament. I may just play them off in one 100-team tournament once I've made them available (for free as always) here.

While the player cards will take at least a couple of days to calculate and produce, the quick math on Markus Howard is that he is one of 34 players in all of college basketball who will have possession of the ball on three of the 8-sided die rolls (he had the ball 37.4% of the time, and any player with at least 31.3 percent of their team's possessions gets the ball on three rolls).

If he gets the ball and the defender doesn't stop him or he doesn't get a free basket based on a level of competition factor that helps MU's cards due to the tough defense and offenses faced then the result of the 20-sided die determines if he gets a shot off or is fouled.

On a 20-side roll Markus Howard:

  1. Makes a 3-pointer on a roll of 1-4
  2. Makes a 2-pointer on a roll of 5-7
  3. Gets fouled and 2 free throws on a roll of 8-11
  4. Misses a 3-pointer on a roll of 12-16
  5. Misses a 2-pointer on a roll of 17-20

If he is fouled he makes each free throw on a roll of 1-17 and misses on an 18-20. I won't go through all the rolls for turnovers, rebounds, steals, blocked shots etc., but that's the basic.

The way the seeding sets up I would play Marquette as the 8-seed in the West against Colorado in the opening round. However, if I go with the 25-team regions in one big tournament, then Marquette would need to first defeat 25-seed Prairie View A&M and Colorado would need to beat 24-seed Radford, shipped out West because there was no western team among the four 24-seeds.

Just Concluded All-Time Great Tournament

The two All-Time great teams did not do well in my all-time tournament as Dwyane Wade's Final Four team was upset by a West Virginia team they could not keep off the offensive glass, and the National Champs defeated Rick Majerus' Utah Final Four team before losing by a point to the historic 1966 West Texas team, which then went all the way to the Elite 8.

Wade's team was explosive but had one of the worst few defensive teams of the 96 all-time greats, while the 1977 National Champs had one of the best few defensive teams.

We just finished playing off this All-Time March Madness tournament (with Bill Walton's UCLA beating Michael Jordan's UNC in the final) when the 2020 March Madness was cancelled. We plan to make playing cards for the 100 teams that would have made March Madness based on the following criteria:

1) Conference Champions to NCAA: If a team had already won their conference tournament ("Tourn"), or was the team still alive in their tournament with the highest www.kenpom.com rating ("Top") they were considered the automatic qualifier to the NCAA from their conference.

2) Regular Season Champ Gets at Least NIT: If a different team from the conference won the regular season or even was tied for the conference title (unless the third or three tied teams based on the www.kenpom.com rating), then they are guaranteed of at least an NIT bid.

3) We then seeded the teams within each tournament based on their www.kenpom.com rating. We broke up the regions based on the basic direction of the four teams with that seed, giving preference to keeping the better rating closer to home if two were in the same region. However, as far as actually playing off the tournament I may just combine the NCAA and NIT into a 100-team tournament with the 1- through 7-seeds getting a first round bye and the 8-seeds vs. 25-seeds playing in the opening round etc.

Note: I actually decided to choose my seeds by going with the composite NCAA Bracket at the Bracket Matrix, and then I basically followed the Barking Crow NIT Bracketology, though I had to make a few adjustments for teams they had listed that made the final NCAA Bracket and vice versa. I made cards for those 100 teams - made on of the tournaments by one of those methods - and keep in mind some teams won their regular season title but were eliminated from their conference tournament prior to everything being cancelled - and those teams are guaranteed at least an NIT bid.

Player Cards Will Be Produced for These Teams

Here is how the teams rank and the regions in which I'd set them up.

Kansas28-3Top B12182NCAA1Midwest
Gonzaga31-2Tourn WCC2143NCAA1West
Dayton29-2Top A104238NCAA1East
San Diego St.30-2Reg MWC61110NCAA2West
Michigan St.22-9Top B1071013NCAA2South
Ohio St.21-10B1081319NCAA2Midwest
West Virginia21-10B1210673NCAA3East
Creighton24-7Top BE12378NCAA3West
Houston23-8Top Amer142221NCAA4South
Florida St.26-5Top ACC153215NCAA4East
Oregon24-7Top P1217676NCAA5West
Seton Hall21-9Tri-BE202925NCAA5South
Texas Tech18-13B1221479NCAA6South
Penn St.21-10B10264323NCAA7East
Kentucky25-6Top SEC292452NCAA8East
Saint Mary's26-8WCC381696NCAA10West
Wichita St.23-8Amer391178NCAA10Midwest
Utah St.26-8Tourn MWC414948NCAA11West
Xavier19-13BE4510320NCAA11.5South (MW if 25)
Mississippi St.20-11SEC4819119NIT1South
Northern Iowa25-6Reg MVC4923108NIT1Midwest (West if 25)
N.C. State20-12ACC504279NIT1East (South if 25)
Oklahoma St.18-14B12538446NIT2South
East Tennessee St.30-4Tourn SC566965NCAA12South
Notre Dame20-12ACC5741100NIT3East
Yale23-7Tourn Ivy587367NCAA12East
Saint Louis23-8A106211144NIT4Midwest
Arizona St.20-11P126310849NIT4West
Georgia Tech17-14ACC6417116NIT4South
Rhode Island21-9A106512639NIT5East
St. John's17-15BE6610453NIT5Midwest
South Carolina18-13SEC6912250NIT6South
Louisiana Tech22-8CUSA716090NIT6West
Vermont26-7Top AE769868NCAA12Midwest
North Texas20-11Top CUSA7734146NCAA12West
Liberty30-4Tourn ASun7910769NCAA13East
Akron24-7Top MAC8266103NCAA13Midwest
New Mexico St.25-6Top WAC9180113NCAA13West
Stephen F. Austin28-3Tourn Slnd10015275NCAA13South
UC Irvine21-11Top BW106121109NCAA14West
Bradley23-11Tourn MVC10792134NCAA14Midwest
Hofstra26-8Tourn CAA10862187NCAA14East
Belmont26-7Tourn OVC10997132NCAA14South
North Dakota St.25-8Tourn Sum11291148NCAA15Midwest (W if 25)
Colgate25-9Reg Pat11886182NIT7East
South Dakota St.22-10Co-Sum11946241NIT7West (MW if 25)
Eastern Washington23-8Top BSky124120142NCAA15West
Little Rock21-10Top SB12999184NCAA15South
Wright St.25-7Reg Horz133132157NIT7Midwest
Murray St.23-9Co-OVC136178110NIT8West
Winthrop24-10Tourn BSth140136169NCAA15East
Northern Kentucky23-9Tourn Horz144191120NCAA16South
Siena20-10Top MAAC14587236NCAA16East
Boston University21-13Tourn Pat159166186NCAA16.5Midwest
North Florida21-12Co-ASun16631324NIT8South
Radford21-11Co-BSth186118272NIT8East (West if 25)
Robert Morris20-14Tourn NEC207212205NCAA16.5West (East if 25)
Prairie View A&M19-13Top SWAC213282131NCAA16.5West
Merrimack20-11Reg NEC227325101NIT8Midwest
North Carolina Central18-13Top MEAC272319193NCAA16.5Midwest (South  25)

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Bracket in the Time of Corona

Obviously this is all overshadowed by the looming specter of COVID-19, so we will see what happens with games going forward, if there even are any more.

This update is addressing the auto-bid awarded last night, which dropped Colgate out, put Boston University into Dayton, and moved Eastern Washington and Winthrop up a seed line.

There was a lot of chaos on the bubble, with Xavier and Stanford both losing and NC State winning. I haven't done a deep dive this morning, but am moving Xavier down to the First Four, dropping Stanford from the field, and putting Cincinnati into Dayton as the last at-large bid. I will be doing a full rescrub of the bracket in the next day or two. As always, I don't put a lot of stock in Championship Week results, but results on Wednesday are early enough to matter.

Here's the full S-Curve:

1-Seeds: 1-KANSAS 2-GONZAGA 3-Baylor 4-DAYTON
2-Seeds: 8-Villanova 7-FLORIDA STATE 6-CREIGHTON 5-San Diego State
3-Seeds: 9-Duke 10-Michigan State 11-OREGON 12-KENTUCKY
4-Seeds: 16-WISCONSIN 15-Maryland 14-Louisville 13-Seton Hall
5-Seeds: 17-Butler 18-Ohio State 19-Auburn 20-Byu
6-Seeds: 24-Colorado 23-Virginia 22-Michigan 21-West Virginia
7-Seeds: 25-HOUSTON 26-Penn State 27-Iowa 28-Illinois
8-Seeds: 32-Arizona 31-St. Mary's 30-Providence 29-Lsu
9-Seeds: 33-Marquette 34-Rutgers 35-Usc 36-Oklahoma
10-Seeds: 40-EAST TENNESSEE STATE 39-Wichita State 38-Arizona State 37-Florida
11-Seeds: 41-Richmond 42-Indiana 43-Xavier/44-Texas Tech 45-Northern Iowa/46-Cincinnati

NIT 1-Seeds: UCLA, Texas, NC State, Stanford
NIT 2-Seeds: Arkansas, St. Louis, Mississippi State, Rhode Island

Last Four Byes: Arizona State, Wichita State, Richmond, Indiana
Last Four In: Xavier, Texas Tech, Northern Iowa, Cincinnati

Multibid Leagues
Big 10: 10
Big East: 7
Pac 12: 5
Big 12: 5
ACC: 4
SEC: 4
WCC: 3
American: 3
Atlantic 10: 2
Missouri Valley: 2
Mountain West: 2