"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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

All-Star Box Score - Crowder top player in game before Final Four

While Jae Crowder would have rather played on this court today, he made the most of his All-Star invitation, leading the East to a 103-99 win over the West last night. NBA coaches use an Efficiency Rating - and by that count Crowder was the best player in the game with a 28 compared to Ricardo Ratcliff's 2nd best 24. A Wall Street Journal recently cited steals and 2-point field goal percentage as two of the best indicators of future NBA success.

Crowder led the game in steals with 3 after being 2nd in the NCAA tournament in steals behind Aaron Craft through three rounds. He hit 73% of his two point shots after being one of the top 10 in the nation the last month of the season at 62%. Of course, points are still emphasized by many GMs, and by that count Crowder would be the top player with 25 to 21 for Ratcliff.

And once again, Crowder did it all without a turnover - one of only five players not to turn the ball over. For the season Crowder was the 7th best BCS player at protecting the ball and 3rd best in 2011. Just another day at the office - in front of NBA scouts. Here is the box score, sorted by NBA efficiency.

Player FG eFG% FT RebPtsA/TBlk/StNBAeTeam
CROWDER J 9-16 59% 6-7 5253/00/3 28 East
RATLIFFE R 7-11 64% 7-11 10210/11/1 24 West
McKINES W 4-13 42% 4-5 18151/10/0 23 West
WATT M 4-5 90% 2-2 4113/13/2 21 East
SIMS H 4-7 57% 3-6 6112/00/0 13 East
MACHADO S 2-6 42% 6-6 3118/30/1 16 East
MOORE R 4-13 38% 5-5 9150/10/0 14 East
STANBACK C 6-15 53% 0-0 5162/21/1 14 West
BURGESS B 3-7 50% 3-4 6101/10/1 12 West
SHURNA J 4-6 92% 1-1 2120/00/0 12 East
WRIGHT K 3-5 60% 1-2 671/10/1 11 East
STUTZ G 3-6 50% 1-2 77½0/2 11 East
GUTIERREZ J 2-5 40% 4-4 381/11/0 9 West
SACRE R 3-6 50% 2-2 381/10/0 8 West
WARE C 4-17 24% 2-2 5107/20/0 8 West
WARREN S 1-5 20% 1-2 631/10/0 4 West
MORRISON D 2-7 29% 0-0 242/00/0 3 West
MURPHY K 1-8 13% 2-3 54½0/0 - East
JOSEPH D 2-8 25% 0-0 242/10/0 1 West
FERNANDEZ J 0-5 0% 0-0 002/00/0 (3)East

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Count down of 10 best duos in MU history 35 years after the national title

Marquette fans celebrated the 35-year anniversary of the national championship today, at the same time celebrating the end to rumors that Buzz Williams might be moving onto another coaching opportunity when the program seems on the verge of having its best chance at repeating the miracle in Atlanta from March 28, 1977.

With Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom joining the list of titans as we near the 100 anniversary of Marquette basketball, I ran the Win Credits for the top duos of all-time. Each duo was ranked based on their total Win Credits per 100 games played adjusted for level of opponents (WC/100) in their best season together, but they had to play together for at least two seasons. I also list their team's record (W and L), and their record in the toughest games (ranked opponents played away from home, WT and LT for winning or losing these “tough” games). Jeff Sagarin’s Basketball Encyclopedia has made it possible to estimate what each team’s adjusted winning percentage (Adj W%) would have been based on how many ranked opponents they played, and how many games were at home, on the road and at a neutral site. Based on that percentage I list where the season ranks as a whole among all MU seasons (Season), and where MU was in the final AP poll or Basketball Encyclopedia poll prior to the AP (Poll).

Here is the countdown at the end of the 35th anniversary, and as we thank Buzz for being part of such a great tradition:

DuoYrWC/100WLTWTLAdj W%SeasonPoll
 All-time records  14939145516564.5%  
10 Lucas, Washington197436.22653286.3%63

Maurice Lucas and Marcus Washington took MU to consecutive top 5 finishes, including going 3-2 against ranked teams away from home during a 1974 season in which MU made the national title game vs. NC State. MU also went 2-0 at home against ranked teams both years, and went 9-2 on the road in 1973 and 8-3 in 1974 as Maurice Lucas had consecutive 400 point/300 rebound seasons to play two of the best 15 seasons ever by an MU player. Washington was probably the top steals man in MU history to go along with his 300 points and 100 rebounds in 1974.

DuoYrWC/100WLTWTLAdj W%SeasonPoll
9 McNeal, Matthews200936.625100676.0%2321

While you hate to ever separate Dominic James from one of the greatest trios ever, his broken foot in 2009 made McNeal and Matthews step up to close the season. The consecutive 25-10 marks were outstanding since they were the first MU players to have to play so many ranked opponents, and the estimate is that they would have won 76% of their games if playing an average schedule. They went 3-2 at home against ranked teams in 2009, before fighting through Dominic’s injury to lose six away from home against ranked opponents. Subjectively the two have to rate higher as McNeal is one of only six MU players to be picked as one of the top 10 players in the AP All-American vote and Matthews is on pace to being one of the top 5 NBA players to ever come out of Marquette. The team was so close to greatness, losing heartbreakers to No. 10 Stanford and No. 9 Missouri in back-to-back Second Round games.

DuoYrWC/100WLTWTLAdj W%SeasonPoll
8 Kojis, Mangham195938.32360178.7%1820

Future NBA All-Star Don Kojis and national high jump champion Walt Mangham formed one of the most dominant rebounding duos ever when both grabbed more than 370 rebounds to knock off two ranked teams at home and go 8-4 on the road en route to a No. 20 ranking in 1959, before knocking off Bowling Green in the NCAA tournament. They narrowly missed MU’s 2nd Elite 8 in five years with a 5-point loss to #7 Michigan State in the Sweet 16.

DuoYrWC/100WLTWTLAdj W%SeasonPoll
7 Rand, Bugalski195539.62432189.7%48

Terry Rand missed a 400/400 year by just four rebounds and Don Bugalski ran the point for an offense that scored 84.2 points a game, the best in MU history. The team was ranked #8 and went to the Elite 8, and when you consider that they went 3-1 against ranked opponents with only one of those games being at home, this team would be estimated to win 89.7% of all games playing a balanced schedule, which makes this the fourth greatest season in the history of the program when viewing seasons as a whole. They won a home and home with #20 Louisville, beat Miami of Ohio to open the NCAA, and then beat #2 Kentucky to make the Elite 8 before losing by just 5 points to #5 Iowa to miss the Final Four. You could certainly team Rand up with Rube Schulz or Gerry Hopfensperger to have a great duo, but Bugalski has the 2nd most Win Credits from the 1955 squad.

DuoYrWC/100WLTWTLAdj W%SeasonPoll
6 Mullen, Morstadt193340.11430182.6%1514

OK, the rest of the team makes fun of me when I start comparing players from the 1920s and 30s, but what All-American Ed Mullen and leading scorer Raymond Morstadt did in 1933 and 1934 in the context of the times was incredible. Morstadt was having a lot of double digit scoring games while Marquette was holding teams to 20 points or less several times a season – so he was scoring half as many points as MU was giving up – like someone scoring 35 today while MU allows 70. This is further backed up by the Basketball Encylopedia being issued and showing MU was ranked #14 and #21 these two years, and four of their 17 games in 1933 were against ranked teams – calculating it as the 15th best season in MU history at a 82.6% Adjusted Winning percentage.

DuoYrWC/100WLTWTLAdj W%SeasonPoll
5 Crowder, DJO201241.02782378.6%1911

I’m guessing a few more people care about Crowder and DJO than Mullen and Morstadt. I showed that based on the more precise Value Add DJO and Crowder were the 2nd best duo in the country behind Anthony Davis and whatever other Kentucky starter with which you want to team him up. They are the only duo besides 1976 and 1977 to take an MU team to multiple NCAA wins in consecutive seasons. DJO had more honors over the two years as an All-Conference selection both years, while Crowder received the biggest honor in 2012 as one of six MU players ever chosen as one of the 10 best in the AP All-American vote. In 2011, the duo had to go up against a ranked opponent 14 times AWAY FROM MILWAUKEE, which is four more times than any other teams in the history of the program. In the great run of the 1970s, Marquette averaged playing 3.5 ranked teams away from home a year even counting all tournament games – so DJO and Crowder travelled to play as many ranked teams in 2011 as the 1970s players would play in an entire 4-year career. To come through that grinder with their numbers and have enough left to win at the eventual national champ and then beat two more ranked teams in the tourney to make the Sweet 16 is the biggest overachievement in MU history – and the Sweet 16 was wrapped up with Crowder burying a trey to tie it, and DJO following with a trey to win. To add to that another Sweet 16 off a 27-8 season that included a win at Wisconsin and in a virtual road game vs. #12 Murray State to go to another Sweet 16 caps them as one of the top few duos in the 95 years of MU basketball.

DuoYrWC/100WLTWTLAdj W%SeasonPoll
4 Quabius, Deneen193942.91251279.7%1718

The Milwaukee Journal noted Dave Quabius as a surprise pick as the 11th best MU player of all time when I first rated them a few years ago, but as an All-American and NBA player, his 150 points/100 rebound season was dominant in light of how few points were scored at the time. When the Basketball Encylopedia came out and showed that MU was actually 3-2 against ranked teams and ranked #18, it further backed up just how strong the 1939 season was to go on top of the 14-5 year in 1938. Robert Deneen almost topping 200 points meant that he scored more than one-third of how many points MU allowed in most games – and MUs losses were to the first two national champions.

DuoYrWC/100WLTWTLAdj W%SeasonPoll
3 Meminger, Brell197143.82813197.2%12

If you choose to focus just on one season as a whole, then 1971 was by far MUs best season ever and Dean Meminger and Jim Chones are by far MUs best duo ever with 49.0 Win Credits per 100 games. The 60-59 loss to #10 Ohio State in the NCAA tournament was the only loss in a 62 game stretch that started with Meminger’s NIT title the year before, and ended when Chones left for the ABA with MU undefeated late in the 1972 season. Meminger and Chones are two of MUs AP 1st team All-Americans, and during 1971 they won at #11 Fordham, vs. #20 Miami 62-47 to open the tourney, and then came back after the Ohio State loss to destroy #8 Kentucky 91-74 in the consolation game IN GEORGIA. Chones 520 point, 333 rebound performance in those 30 games averaged him well over a double double for the 4th best season played by an MU player ever, and if the 1972 season was not cut short with MU off to a 20-0 start, he may have challenged Wade for the best season ever played by an MU player. Meminger chipped in 616 points and more than 100 assists for the second straight year. Because I am only comparing duos with two years together, I teamed up Meminger with Gary Brell, who averaged 370 points and 250 rebounds in these two seasons – and together they make up the third best duo in MU history.

DuoYrWC/100WLTWTLAdj W%SeasonPoll
2 Dunn, Quinn192344.61921190.3%38

I already had Red Dunn and Richard Quinn ranked as Marquette’s 30th and 31st best players of all time, but when the Basketball Enclopedia came out it shed ever more light on the 1923 campaign. Not only was MU 19-2, but that included a 3-1 mark against ranked teams and MU was selected as the 8th best team in the country. Again, I know almost none of you care, but that really makes that season the 3rd best in MU history.

DuoYrWC/100WLTWTLAdj W%SeasonPoll
1 Lee, Ellis197745.62574283.8%117

Which leads us to MUs greatest duo ever on the 35th anniversary of their national title. Their 45.6 Win Credits per 100 games is second only to Meminger-Chones 49.0 for the 1971 season, but just counting players who played together for two years they are the best duo in MU history. And while their 21-7 regular season mark included an 0-2 mark against ranked teams away from home, MU closed by beating four consecutive ranked teams on neutral courts in the NCAA to claim the title in what was really only MUs 11th best season overall. To add to that the previous year being MUs 2nd best season overall – including a 27-2 mark and three wins away from home against ranked teams until finally losing in an Elite 8 matchup that pitted #2 Marquette against #1 Indiana – the last undefeated team in hoops history – and you really can argue that Lee and Ellis combined to make MU one of the top 2 teams in the country two years in a row. Like DJO and Crowder this year, Ellis came in as the star having the greatest career of any MU player ever with a Final Four run in 1974, but in the end Lee received more accolades for the season going 1st team All-American to Ellis 3rd team All-American, as Lee eventually became MUs only National Player of the Year.

When you add to this that MUs 7th best year ever was Chones partial 1972 campaign, the 8th best year ever was Ellis 1975 effort and 9th best ever was Lee’s 1978 campaign, you have to say Lee-Ellis or Meminger-Chones are the best duos in MU history, depending on if you care if they played together more than one year. However, if you ignore my archaic pre-NCAA tournament data, DJO and Crowder do rate as the 3rd best Marquette duo since the NCAA tournament took over in 1941.

Happy Anniversary on the National Title, and as the TV commercial says, Marquette appreciates and learns from the past, but isn’t stuck in it and welcomes DJO, Crowder and all of the other players and recruits who will still play in the Bradley Center to the Titans of the National Championship and all the other great seasons as we approach the 100th anniversary of Marquette basketball.

Winning percentages in MU history used to adjust season-by-season estimated Winning percentages:

vs. rankedvs. unranked

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

MUBB Nation Goes Batsh*t Crazy - Nothing Happens

It's been a weird several days in MUBB land as Buzz supposedly was listening to a job opportunity with SMU.

Wait.  What?

Exactly.  Early reports came in that SMU was reaching for a coach and that Buzz Williams was on their list.  Most people originally said, "that's cute", and went on their way.  After all, SMU is famous for exactly one thing, and that's being the only school to ever receive the death penalty.  Despite joining the BIG EAST in 2013, their basketball program is terrible right now and has been forever.  However, something of a hysteria began to occur when Milwaukee Pro-AM founder Jim Ganzer said, "SMU is talking and Buzz Williams is listening. Get ready for a bumpy ride Marquette fans, this is more than just a rumor".  From there, a follow-up story happened on Ganzer's website, saying that it was all about relationships.

At that point, a decent contingent of online-savvy MUBB fans went batsh*t crazy for a while (that includes me).  Among other things, the story spawned a 90+ page thread about the topic, and a small letter writing campaign.

The entire thing got so crazy that message boards got coverage on the local news.  This wasn't just on isolated message boards.  Casual fans were asking around about Buzz and SMU.  The entire situation got a point where Marquette released a joint statement from Buzz and Larry Williams.  To sum up,

We are already looking forward to next season with a core group of returning players - Buzz
Coach Williams is a good man, great coach and I look forward to working with him in the coming years" - Larry Williams 

On the surface, reports of friction are not that difficult to believe.  There are two new sheriffs in town named Father Pilarz and Larry Williams.  Neither was around when Buzz was hired, and you can bet they aren't so keen on Marquette's players popping up for offcourt issues as recently as the 20th of March.  Don't forget that Cottingham essentially lost his job over the sexual assault allegations.*  (Yes, no charges were ever filed, but Marquette looked terrible).  Likewise, neither were responsible for giving Buzz his shot with Marquette, so there's no debt of obligation or loyalty as a result.  It's entirely plausible to consider the new AD coming in and laying down the new rules with Buzz, and then Buzz chafing and threatening to leave for a crappy program willing to pay a lot of money.  In short, this may have been a high stakes power struggle between some strong-willed individuals.

*wildly speculative

Of course, none of us really know what transpired over the past few days, so the previous paragraph is completely and totally speculative... at best.  However, the online freakout does represent a bit of a silver lining.  Marquette fans care very deeply about their basketball program.  Very deeply.  In addition, Marquette fans have become quite fond of Buzz Williams as a coach.  Certainly, if it comes down to choosing sides, MUBB nation is much more willing to go with Team Buzz than Team Larry.  Let's be honest... it's not (entirely) rational, but a lot of people are going to take time to trust a Domer.

Losing Buzz at this point would have been like dropping napalm on the basketball program.  Nobody would have looked good in that situation... not Buzz, not Larry, not Father Pilarz, and not even SMU.  And when you consider that the program is getting close to becoming a national contender within two years, that's unacceptable.  Thankfully, much of the issue appears to have been somewhere between "nothing" and a "difficult conversation between high level individuals".**

**still wildly speculative

Personally, I believe this was more than "nothing", and some personality conflicts got in the way of enjoying a post-S16 season.  I'd like to believe that Buzz and Larry will continue to work on their relationship for many years as Marquette and Buzz become legendary.  However, the cynical part of me thinks we only keep Buzz for another one or two years, and then he jumps to the first decent profile opportunity that exists.  Honestly, that's probably okay.  Keeping Buzz for another year or two will allow the program to continue growing in strength.  If and/or when Buzz leaves, Marquette basketball will remain committed to excellence.  "We are Marquette" as a statement is bigger than any single individual.

For now, back to your regularly scheduled offseason.  Less than 200 days until Marquette Madness!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Crowder joins McNeal, Wade, Lee, Chones & Meminger as 6th MU player ever named as one of the 10 best by the AP

Since 1948, the AP All-American team has been the gold standard. Writers from across the country have selected the best players in the country, and today Jae Crowder became only the sixth player in Marquette history to be selected as one of the top 10 players in the country. The following are the stats for each player, including the calculation of Win Credits for how many wins they generated for their team that season. I did use Chones 1971 stats even though he was selected in the 1972 season that was cut short by his departure for the ABA:

Dean Meminger197161611710571156.9
Jim Chones (*1971 stats)19725203334120577.2
Butch Lee197762812110477156.8
Butch Lee19784958713788116.9
Dwyane Wade200371020914571439.6
Jerel McNeal200969315913771217.3
Jae Crowder20126142947388358.4

Jae Crowder 2nd team All America Honors

Congratulations are in order for Jae Crowder as he made 2nd Team Associated Press All America honors this morning. Earlier this month Crowder was named Big East Player of the Year and helped lead Marquette to a second straight Sweet 16 appearance.

A link to the article can be found here

Crowder joins a strong list of Marquette All-Americans from seasons past. Crowder becomes the 27th All American basketball player in MU history.

Value Add: MU loses 2nd best duo in country, but huge influx of talent projects national contender by 2014

I’ve said all year that MU will be better next year, and then good enough to make a Final Four run. I just ran Value Add with only the Final Four games remaining, and for the first time I’m not so sure MU will be better next year than this. Normally any time you only lose two players – no matter how good – the team improves, but actually projections show MU dropping just slightly next year before getting up to Kentucky levels in 2014. Here are the final MU Value Adds for this season, and the projected Value Adds for each player in 2013 and 2014.

Juan Anderson6'6"FR0.00So2.33Jr3.18
Vander Blue6'4"So2.65Jr3.21Sr3.61
Deonte Burton6'5"HS0.00HS0.00Fr2.68
Junior Cadougan6'1"Jr2.47Sr2.62grad0.00
Jae Crowder6'6"Sr11.15Grad0.00grad0.00
Aaron Durley6'9"HS0.00Fr0.31So0.63
Jamal Ferguson6'3"HS0.00Fr1.26So2.58
Davante Gardner6'8"So3.55Jr4.89Sr5.56
Darius Johnson-Odom6'2"Sr5.29Grad0.00grad0.00
Jamail Jones6'6"So0.30Jr0.35Sr0.40
Todd Mayo6'3"Fr1.45So2.89Jr4.53
Chris Otule6'11"Jr0.52Jr2.08Sr2.41
Steve Taylor6'7"hs0.00Fr1.58So3.23
T.J. Taylor6'3"RS0.00So1.63Jr2.22
Jake Thomas6'3"RS0.00Jr1.49Sr1.68
Derrick Wilson6'0"Fr0.72So1.48Jr1.71
Duane Wilson6'3"HS0.00HS0.00Fr2.39
Jamil Wilson6'7"So2.74Jr3.57Sr4.09

So MU basically projects just over 1% behind this years team. Mayo actually pulled his season Value Add from 1.31 to 1.45 in just the three tournament games, so he certainly looks like he could blow past the 2.89% calculation. Since Blue is even younger than Mayo at this point, you also wonder if his biggest jump won't come next year to push him past 3.21% since he will be a sophomore age wise - and of course if our two centers can stay healthy that could be a huge boost. MU also goes from being the 233rd tallest team to the 60th tallest team next year and 40th tallest team in 2014 - so the potential is there to potentially be even better than this year - BUT it will take a committee improvement to make up for DJO and Crowder.

However, if the players simply average out to standard improvement, the projected 40.91% in 2014 is actually higher than even Kentucky or Syracuse were this season.

The reason for the slight drop next year is that even though MU has so much talent coming in, improving, and coming back from injury/redshirt, the updated Value Adds I ran through the Elite 8 games show that while MU only loses two players this year – it truly was the 2nd most valuable duo this season behind Kentucky:

Top Five Duos based on combined Value Add in 2011-12
1. Kentucky: Anthony Davis & Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 17.85-18.31%
2. Marquette: Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder 16.44%
3. Ohio State: Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft 15.40%
4. Kansas: Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey 14.16%
5. Vanderbilt: John Jenkins and Jeffrey Taylor 13.79%

I will be posting the Value Add for all returning players in the days ahead to see how we stack up against the rest of the Big East and the country next year, but the future looks very bright. When you take the standard improvement of a player from one year to the next, and the average freshman contribution based on a players rank, MU looks almost just as good next year and in 2014 projects to match the cumulative value adds of Kentucky and Syracuse with Fab Melo this year.

MU slightly behind Value Adds of Elite 8 this year
All Final Four teams were in the preseason Value Add Top 5 released on June 1 of last year or the regular season ending Value Add this year. As you can see, Marquette’s 30.84 put them close to the Elite 8 level, and the projected 40.91 if the roster stayed in tack for 2014 is actually better than any team had this year:
Kentucky 38.84 (2nd preseason)
Syracuse 36.14 (36.14 with Melo 40.21, 6th preseason)
Kansas 32.83
Ohio State 32.19 (3rd preseason)
Florida 31.28
Baylor 31.28
Marquette 30.84
UNC 30.81 (1st preseason)
Louisville 25.85 (5th preseason, injuries held down)

Certainly some players will exceed projections, and others will fall short or even transfer out – and in fact assuming Chris Otule is granted the medical redshirt we are overbooked by one scholarship in 2014. A dream scenario would be Kendrick Nunn signing, as he would projected be one of the rare freshman to make an immediate impact with a projected 4.23% Value Add at point guard the year after Junior graduates. But even without him, MU is absolutely stacked for 2014.

The thing that many fans don’t grasp is just how much players typically improve from year-to-year. Excluding players who leave early for the NBA draft rather than finish all four years, there are about 650 players in each class that get Value Add during their four-year career. The average Value Add by class – not counting adjustments for position, are:

Draft this year (not included above)3.60-1.465.07
Draft next year (not included above)2.64-0.893.53

So the majority players are ready to test the NBA waters if they have a season with a Value Add of more than 5% - which DJO and Crowder did this year.

So while we project freshman Value Add based on their rankings (45th highest ranked freshman in the country is projected to perform next year as well as 45th highest Value Add freshman did this year), we can project other players based on their year and how they did in the previous season. The table below shows that a sophomore will typically produce 2.46 times as much offense as he did his freshman year, then put up 1.46 times as much offense his junior year while improving his defense by 1.56 percent. It is actually unusual to have a player make a huge jump between his junior and senior year, though we have certainly seen several from Jerel McNeal to Jae Crowder do it here.

Here is what you multiply a players offensive and defensive Value Add by to project their next season:

Average Value Add multiplicationOffenseDefenseTotal
becoming sophomore2.461.162.85
becoming junior1.461.161.69
becoming senior1.131.161.31

Last year after developing Value Add, my projections simply doubled the offense for every returning player and left defense unchanged, but with further study this is more accurate. A player’s defense improves by about 16% each year, but his offense takes a huge jump between his freshman and sophomore year of 146%, then improves 46% his junior year and just 13% his senior year.

We may never again have a duo as dominant as DJO and Crowder were this year, but the program is getting deeper and deeper and fast approaching the point where we could have the three, four or five dominant players that are typically needed for an Elite 8 or Final Four run.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

MU wins 1st 2 NCAA Games in consecutive years for 2nd time in history; Updated All-Tournament calculations include Crowder, DJO and Mayo

For all the nostalga for the Glory Days, it should be noted that DJO and Crowder just led Marquette to wins in their first two games in consecutive NCAA tournaments for only the 2nd time in history. The first time was the 1976 and 1977 seasons. The nine times MU has won their first two games of the tourney were 1955, 69, 74, 76, 77, 94, 2003, 11 and 12.

Think about it, a Sweet 16 next year would make the first time in the history of MU basketball that MU had won their first two tourney games three years in a row, and based on Todd Mayo’s performance and the possibility of both centers being healthy makes that a real possibility.

I ran the NBA Efficiency numbers again through tonight’s game, and despite both getting bounced this round, Draymond Green and Jae Crowder had the top two efficiency ratings of any player in the tournament through three games. When I adjusted for position by multiplying all backcourt players by 1.16, Florida’s Bradley Beal did nudge Jae out for 2nd place after his 10 of 12 outing from the floor to eliminate MU.

The top 60 players in the tournament are listed below – broken down in teams of 5 (I made slight adjustments to move a player up a spot or two to make sure each team had at least two guards and at least two front line players, but DJO was actually the 40th best player in the tournament statistically but the 8th team already had three guards).

A couple of interesting notes when looking at the top 60 were than Aaron Craft (12 steals) is the only player with more steals than Jae (10), and of the players that scored 50 points, only Green, Marquis Teague of Kentucky and DJ Cooper of Ohio had more assists than DJO (51 points, 7 assists).

But in addition to the seniors, we can’t overlook Mayo as he takes the baton from them. Mayo was one of only seven freshman to make the list below, with Beal, Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague and Michael Kidd-Gilcrest of Kentucky, Cody Zeller of Indiana and Chance Behanan of Louisville being the others. With four of the other six expected to be in the NBA next year, Mayo could be one of the top returning freshman in the country. What was also amazing was his consistency, as his NBA Efficiency rating was exactly 11 every night. The following is Mayo’s game by game, and then the top 60 player performances based on NBA Efficiency so far in the tournament:

Todd Mayo's three tournament games that rate among the best performances this year

11 3 5 2 5 6220410
11 2 7 2 2 632038
11 4 8 1 2 4120211
33 9 20 5 9 16 6 6 - 9 29

Top 60 tournament players so far based on NBA Efficiency

I listed the actual NBA Efficiency after each players position, BUT guards were moved up if multiplying their efficiency by 1.16 would have put them ahead of other front line players. Also, each team of five had to have at least two guards and two forwards, and a couple of players were moved up a spot or two to make that happen.

1st team all-tournamentTeamPosNBA FG FGA FT FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTS
Draymond Green MSU F 84 21 44 6 8 41 18 4 2 9 53
Bradley Beal Flo G 69 17 26 9 13 26 8 5 2 8 49
Jae Crowder Mar F 79 21 48 10 14 36 7 10 2 2 57
Walter Offutt Ohio G 66 21 34 6 9 10 6 7 2 1 58
Anthony Davis Ken F 77 11 22 18 23 33 10 1 12 3 40
2nd team all-tournamentTeamPosNBA FG FGA FT FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTS
Deshaun Thomas OSU F 77 30 54 8 10 26 2 - 5 5 75
Tyler Zeller UNC F 76 16 30 16 20 43 2 1 9 9 48
Jared Sullinger OSU F 66 16 36 18 21 26 5 3 5 3 53
Aaron Craft OSU G 56 10 18 14 18 12 19 12 - 11 36
Jordan Taylor Wis G 55 17 40 3 3 14 15 3 1 3 48
3rd team all-tournamentTeamPosNBA FG FGA FT FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTS
Cody Zeller Ind F 64 19 32 12 16 26 7 6 1 9 50
Lorenzo Brown NCS G 55 11 30 12 18 22 18 6 3 8 39
Darius Miller Ken G 54 15 23 9 10 13 6 - 1 1 44
Tu Holloway Xav G 54 22 43 17 21 8 7 4 1 9 68
Terrence Jones Ken F 59 17 31 6 9 26 5 3 3 3 42
4th team all-tournamentTeamPosNBA FG FGA FT FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTS
Brady Heslip Bay G 52 17 30 6 6 6 2 3 - 1 55
Pierre Jackson Bay G 51 17 40 9 11 5 22 9 - 9 49
Kenny Frease Xav C 58 22 31 9 12 18 1 - 3 5 53
Marquis Teague Ken G 50 17 35 15 19 9 18 2 - 7 50
Drew GordonNMF 56 15 25 8 11 27 3 1 1 2 39
5th team all-tournamentTeamPosNBA FG FGA FT FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTS
Reggie Bullock UNC G 49 13 29 1 4 21 7 4 2 3 37
Scoop Jardine Syr G 49 13 25 9 10 9 19 3 - 10 41
Quincy Acy Bay F 56 12 18 7 8 28 6 1 3 6 31
Royce WhiteIoStF 56 15 21 8 13 22 6 3 2 4 38
Thomas Robinson Kansas F 55 16 42 13 22 41 7 5 1 9 45
6th team all-tournamentTeamPosNBA FG FGA FT FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTS
Christian Watford Ind F 53 20 41 8 10 14 4 3 2 4 57
Gorgui Dieng Lou C 53 7 15 5 7 26 2 5 12 2 20
Doron Lamb Ken G 45 18 30 9 10 7 2 1 - 5 53
Jordan Hulls Ind G 45 15 31 2 2 9 13 6 - 6 39
Sean Kilpatrick Cin G 45 14 28 5 6 11 8 4 1 5 41
7th team all-tournamentTeamPosNBA FG FGA FT FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTS
Elijah Johnson Kan G 44 18 30 1 4 11 5 4 - 5 44
Cashmere Wright Cin G 43 12 30 5 6 15 14 5 - 6 34
Chane Behanan Lou F 49 16 26 7 14 24 3 4 1 5 39
Andre RobersonColF 43 8 15 8 11 24 3 5 3 7 25
Dion Waiters Syr G 41 14 29 12 12 8 4 3 - 2 43
8th team all-tournamentTeamPosNBA FG FGA FT FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTS
Kenny Boynton Flo G 41 12 32 12 14 17 11 3 - 7 39
D.J. Cooper Ohio G 40 15 43 14 17 10 18 4 - 11 50
Luke Loucks FSU G 38 6 10 11 12 9 10 3 2 8 27
James Southerland Syr F 43 11 16 3 5 15 2 2 3 2 30
Robbie HummelPurF 43 12 22 5 7 16 3 2 1 3 36
9th team all-tournamentTeamPosNBA FG FGA FT FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTS
Darius Johnson-Odom Mar G 37 18 44 9 12 11 7 1 - 4 51
Jeff Withey Kan C 42 5 13 9 13 16 2 1 17 1 19
Richard Howell NCSt F 42 14 32 7 10 28 3 4 2 9 35
Lenzelle Smith OSU G 36 9 15 3 5 18 3 2 1 5 25
Festus EzeliVanC 41 7 10 8 12 22 1 3 5 5 22
10th team all-tournamentTeamPosNBA FG FGA FT FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTS
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Ken F 41 12 27 11 13 24 4 - 1 6 35
Yancy Gates Cin F 41 13 26 6 10 20 1 4 5 4 32
Jaquon Parker Cin G 35 12 33 6 9 23 9 1 - 6 32
C.J. Williams NCSt G 34 12 27 2 2 14 5 1 - 1 30
Gabe KnutsonLehF 40 8 10 11 13 14 - 1 2 1 28
11th team all-tournamentTeamPosNBA FG FGA FT FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTS
Nick Kellogg Ohio G 34 8 16 5 6 11 2 4 - 3 29
Patric Young Flo C 39 11 15 4 8 20 2 - 1 2 26
Victor Rudd Jr.SFF 39 8 21 9 10 17 3 3 1 1 30
Kendall Williams NM G 33 11 22 2 2 6 10 4 1 4 27
Todd Mayo Mar G 33 9 20 5 9 16 6 6 - 9 29
12th team all-tournamentTeamPosNBA FG FGA FT FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTS
C.J. Leslie NCSt F 38 17 37 13 23 17 3 1 4 4 47
Erving Walker Flo G 32 9 24 15 17 10 8 4 - 8 35
Adreian Payne MSU C 37 11 21 2 2 18 2 2 3 2 24
Jared Berggren Wis C 37 13 28 4 6 11 5 1 7 4 34
Bradford Burgess VCU G 30 10 26 5 7 12421231

Friday, March 23, 2012

Disappointing end to a successful season

A good night sleep helps to put things in perspective and tone down some raw emotions. It was needed as last night was certainly a disappointment but does not overshadow a terrific season. Going into the contest I was nervous about Florida's shooting and whether we had enough firepower beyond the big two. After settling into the first 10 minutes of the contest, I was no longer worried. We were the better team and my confidence was high. Florida was young, athletic, but not the scary team I envisioned. No way were we going to lose this game unless we got into foul trouble or had an awful night shooting the ball. Unless. Unless.

That's the source of the disappointment. As poorly as we shot in addition to the foul trouble of Junior and Jae, we were still in this game...30% shooting and we're still in this game amazingly enough. Florida was doing everything they could to avoid stepping on our throats and letting us hang around. We would not oblige. Air-balled layups, head scratching turnovers, and a general malaise could not get us to Elite 8. I dare say we actually looked a little flat at times. The effort was always there, but the energy was absent at times. Disappointing conclusion considering the opponent and the opportunity. Last year we "peed down our leg" to borrow a Crowder quote. UNC was so much better than us that it was expected. We were happy to be there. This year, a 3 seed and an opponent that we could handle. This was not North Carolina or Kansas. Yet something was off last night...other than our shooting. Wish I could put my finger on it. Effort strong, preparation strong, but at times they seemed in a funk. Just my opinion.

For the season, what can you say. I thought Buzz deserved Big East Coach of the Year at the midpoint of the season and felt he deserved it at the end of the year. Stan Heath did a remarkable job with the Bulls, but Buzz had to deal with two important injuries, off the court issues, finished in 2nd place for a team picked in the middle of the pack, and a much tougher schedule. The play of Crowder and DJO was a joy to watch, especially Crowder. The team was nails tough and brought a strong work ethic that matches their coach. They looked like they had fun doing it as well. A successful season anyway you cut it.

Next year....we'll get into next year down the road. Certainly some question marks as well as plenty of bright spots awaiting. For now, a terrific season ends in disappointment but a terrific season nonetheless. A salute to Buzz Williams, Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson Odom in particular.


Al McGuire would have broken the Internet.

That’s been bouncing around in my head ever since Buzz danced on West Virginia’s home court.  The resulting Twitter explosion was stunning, followed by stories on Deadspin/The Big Lead/every sports website, and then television coverage on ESPN.  Buzz felt he had to apologize to the entire WVU administration and address it multiple times in follow up interviews.  Regardless, WVU fans still hate Buzz.  Nobody cares about those turncoats, though.

However, in comparison to the antics of Al, dancing to “Country Roads” was nothing.  Can anyone imagine what would have happened after hearing that McGuire got in a fight with one of his players at halftime?  Or after the 1972 fight with South Carolina, where Al said, "A waltz... a bar-hall bouncer wouldn't take his coat off for this one."  

Yeah, Al McGuire would have definitely broken the Internet.

I like to picture Al in the same situation.  I like to think he wouldn’t have apologized to the WVU administration… or that he would have taunted the students going into apoplectic “hold me back bro” mode.  Maybe he would have quipped at the end, “It’s a good song.  Get over it.”  Of course, who knows what McGuire would have really done?  I certainly don’t, but that’s my impression of Al based on his legend as the myths and facts blend.

Al is a legend, but he's only one part of the truly unique heritage of Marquette in the 1970s.  Marquette had the colorful coach, the flashy uniforms, the cool nickname, and the on-court success.  Most importantly, the Warriors had success on the court.  Just like several generations will never fully appreciate Al McGuire, it’s almost as hard to understand how legendary the entire Marquette program was in the Seventies.

Or can we?

Last night's game hurts... no doubt.  Marquette played an atypical and frustrating game.  The defense was good enough to win, but just not enough shots went down.  However, it really was a remarkable and wonderful season.  Second in the BIG EAST?  A Three Seed?  Back to back Sweet Sixteens?  My biggest disappointment about last night is knowing that there won't be any more basketball until October.  It's so long until October.

For the first time since 1977, Marquette stands poised to continue its vault back to nationally recognized excellence.  Marquette has the flashy uniforms and the on-court success is starting to come.  And although they broke the mold with Al, if there was ever a coach with the potential to be legendary like him, it’s Buzz.  Consider his collection of youtube highlights (Walk it Out), random catchphrases “Lion hunter,” and rambling storyteller-level press conferences.  But mostly there is the consistent on-court success.

Buzz himself would state that he’s too humble to even be considered in comparison with McGuire or others.  It’s as unfair to both coaches as it is easy to draw parallels.  But as a lion hunter, we better believe that Buzz thinks he could be legendary too.  For a coach, what bigger lion is there to hunt?

Can today’s Marquette return to a level of being powerful again?  It’s not wrong to believe that Marquette can achieve greatness like in the Seventies, if not necessarily become the second best program of the decade.  MU has the financial commitment, the quirky coach, the flashy uniforms, and now the consistent return of on-court success.  Despite losing two first team BIG EAST players, next year Marquette will be more experienced, taller, and deeper.  Buzz has shown the ability to cobble together consistent tourney success, and there's no reason to doubt anything else next year.  We have something special brewing in Milwaukee, and it can be its own form of legendary.

Now if we could only do something about the Warrior nickname, everything would be perfect... 

MU matches Florida on turnovers, rebounding, getting to line; However, ice-cold shooting ends season

The tournament ends so suddenly, this time in a game in which MU played well enough to win in every aspect of the game except shooting.

Last year Crowder’s late trey against Syracuse tied the game, and then DJO’s dagger sealed the win that got MU one step further than expected. Today already in the Sweet 16 but hoping to go at least one more level than expected as a 3-seed, MU fought back from a first half that saw Junior Cadougan and Jae Crowder on the bench in foul trouble and had their chance on a crucial stretch may have been from the 7:33 mark to 6:09 mark. After Crowder scored to cut the deficit to 52-44, MU came up with three stops and then worked for three open looks from beyond the arc, with Crowder missing two and DJO missing one.

Three trips that could have given MU a 53-52 lead instead saw MU still down 8 points.

It summed up a night in which MU had a slight edge on three of the Four Factors that decide games until a couple of offensive rebounds by Florida near the end:

Turnover %12.4%15.9%
Offensive Reb%24.4%25.0%
FT% getting to line27.7%25.4%

It seemed Florida could beat Marquette if they could turn them over or nail treys. In fact, Marquette turned the ball over only 12.4% of their trips, and played tight defense on the arc, holding the top three-point shooting team in the country to only 28.6% from beyond the arc. The 10-point difference was rather the result of Florida’s decided edge on 2-point shots and free throw shooting, with Florida’s 9-3 edge in blocked shots raising the question of whether or not the absence of Chris Otule finally caught up with Marquette.

3-pt %25.9%28.6%
FT% getting to line66.7%86.7%
Blocked shots 3 9

Todd Mayo keys one last run for the seniors

Still, it was a freshman – Todd Mayo – who tried to prolong the senior season for DJO and Crowder with one last run.

Florida seemed to have put the game away with a 58-45 lead with 4:30 to play. Crowder got to the line and hit two free throws to make it 58-47 with 4:15 to go.

Just 14 seconds later, Crowder grabbed a rebound and got it ahead to Mayo, who drove to the hoop to make it 58-49.

Then 33 seconds later with Erving Walker holding the ball at half court, Mayo poked the ball into the back court, dove to get to the ball before the lightning fast Walker, and called timeout before Walker could tie it up for a jump ball with the possession arrow favoring the Gators.

Off the timeout, Cadougan fed a quick pass to Mayo who nailed a trey to make it 58-52 with 3:20 left, a 7-0 run in less than a minute.

That was as close as Marquette could get. They did it one more time when Crowder finally hit his first trey in seven attempts with 1:30 left to make it 61-55, but Florida continued to nail free throws and the careers were over for both seniors – each of which fought through tough defense and some misses for 15 points.

As I have noted in the past, college basketball always ends on a bad note. You either don’t make the tournament or lose in the tournament eventually – sometimes just on a night like this when the shots just don’t fall. Thanks for the great seasons and careers of DJO and Jae, and we all hope the Draft Express Projections are right and we hear both of your names called in 97 days. Whether or not that happens, someone is going to get to see you both play in the D-League, Europe, or hopefully the NBA.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Is anyone big enough to stop Marquette? Only Kentucky and OSU are even close to MUs size

Seeing the players walk around Phoenix since last night, it was apparent why CBS Sports, opposing coaches, and ESPN radio hosts have started to talk about how much Marquette looks like a physically dominating FOOTBALL team. I ran the average weight and minutes played for the season for every team in the Sweet 16, and was amazed at how much BIGGER Marquette, Kentucky and Ohio State are than the other 13 teams still alive – and advantage that could be big as NCAA games typically grind down to half court affairs:

Biggest teamsHeightWeight
2Ohio State6-foot-6220
5Michigan State6-foot-5210
12NC State6-foot-6206
15Florida 6-foot-4199

While the equation does give a small percentage of minutes for Otule’s early play, it also has pretty limited minutes for Davante due to the games and minutes missed with injuries. More minutes for Davante, and MU will average even more than their current 19-pound advantage per matchup against Florida tonight as we seek our 7th Elite 8 in history.

With Jae Crowder apparently even getting attention from some NFL Scouts as a potential tight end, Jay Bilas (in the 97th percentile in the national brackets) just said that Draymond Green and Jae Crowder were playing at the highest level of any player in the tournament. CBS Sports questioned if Florida’s bigs would simply be physically outmatched with Gardner and Crowder in the game. The mood as we’ve seen walking around Phoenix last night seems like a very confident group of Warriors.

All that being said, Pomeroy has Florida winning by one point. It seems Florida could use their three-guard defense to force turnovers like Louisville did, or use their four deadeye three-point shooters to keep passes one step ahead of Marquette’s rotation like Notre Dame did in their win. However, if Marquette can prevent that from happening and this turns into a typically physical NCAA tournament game, MU does look to dominate the physical match-ups.

PGErving Walker5-foot-8171Junior Cadougan6-foot-1205
SGKenny Boynton6-foot-2183Darius Johnson-Odom6-foot-2215
SwBradley Beal6-foot-3196Vander Blue6-foot-4200
SFPatric Young6-foot-9245Jae Crowder6-foot-6225
PFErik Murphy6-foot-10229Davante Gardner6-foot-8290
B-PGMike Rosario6-foot-3180Derrick Wilson6-foot-0215
B-SGScottie Wilbekin6-foot-2175Todd Mayo6-foot-3190
B-BigCasey Prather6-foot-6195Jamil Wilson6-foot-7220
InjWill Yeguete6-foot-7210Chris Otule6-foot-11265

To go through position by position by Value Add and NBA projections:

Starting point guard – Erving Walker is a top 50 Value Add player, while Junior is a top 500, but certainly Junior is the more traditional point guard – making the rest of the team great. Certainly power against speed in this game, as Junior will have to chase the tiny Walker on defense, but hopefully overpower him on offense.

Starting shooting guard – Kenny Boynton rates as Florida’s best player at 22nd in the country, so a little edge in Value Add, but DJO is rated ready for the NBA NOW, while Boynton is expected to be one year away.

Third Guard – Bradley Beal is a top 100 player so a big edge overall over Vander Blue – a top 500 player. Beal is also expected to be a 1st round draft pick this year, but obviously this isn’t about Blue outscoring Beal, but containing him with his great defense.

Small Forward – Patric Young is also expected to be a 1st round pick in the draft, but wasn’t close to Crowder in Value Add this year (2nd best player to 310th). He does give them someone who can try to match up against Crowder, but as CBS Sports notes, if he goes there how can anyone stop Gardner when he is in? Another huge challenge for Crowder, but we hope it goes as well as it did vs. Kevin Jones and West Virginia.

Power Forward – Davante has the edge over Erik Young in Value Add, despite missing time this year, and CBS Sports notes the potential mismatch – another reason Florida will probably try to press to make it an up-and-down game that requires Jamil to be in instead of Davante.

Back-up point guard – Mike Rosario torched MU when with Rutgers, but again Derrick’s duty if in will be similar to Blue’s – just lock down on defense.

Back-up other guard – Scottie Wilbekin ranks just behind Todd Mayo for the year in Value Add, but that counts a dry spell for Mayo who has gotten back to early season form and appears on the verge of exploding to give MU a big edge here.

Back-up big man – Obviously Jamil will start and may end up playing more than Davante, but he is virtually even with Murphy in Value Add and Casey Prather doesn’t even rank in the top 2000 in the country, so really Marquette has a 2-to-1 edge in Jamil and Davante vs. Murphy.

Injuries – pretty even, with Florida also missing a good big man in Will Yeguete, like Otule a top 500 player when he played.

We are getting pretty close to the team send off and then tip-off – hopefully MU can overpower another opponent.

Monday, March 19, 2012

NCAA All-Tournament Team after 1st week – based on NBA Efficiency by position

Now that the first week of play is complete and we are down to 16 teams, I ran the NBA Efficiency on all players so far. Draymond Green (67 Efficiency Rating for two games) and Jae Crowder (64) remain far ahead of every other player at any position to claim the two 1st team forward position.

Green and Crowder head 1st team as by far the top 2 performers to date

The top Value Add player of the year Anthony Davis (55) claims the center spot on the All-Tournament team. The top two guards bringing the ball up are Aaron Craft of Ohio State, and Kendall Marshall of UNC – and we are all hoping his surgery is successful tomorrow so he can continue in the tournament. The following are the stats used in NBA Efficiency calculation, with each players total for each game and then the two-game total. The most recent game is listed on top for each player.

1st team all-tournament FGM FGA FTM FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTSEffTotalTeam
Draymond Green, F 6 11 2 3 13620316 28 67Mich St
Draymond Green, F 10 17 2 3 121010024 39 67Mich St
Jae Crowder, F 6 13 4 7 13232117 26 64Marquette
Jae Crowder, F 10 20 2 2 16440125 38 64Marquette
Kendall Marshall, G 7 8 3 6 41101418 26 44UNC
Kendall Marshall, G 5 7 - 1 21010311 18 44UNC
Aaron Craft, G 7 9 2 2 31030217 29 43Ohio State
Aaron Craft, G 1 2 6 6 543058 14 43Ohio State
Anthony Davis, C 4 9 7 9 12502315 24 55Kentucky
Anthony Davis, C 5 8 6 8 9317016 31 55Kentucky

New Mexico and Iowa State forwards make 2nd team after valiant effort

Forwards Drew Gordon and Royce White did everything they could to keep New Mexico and Iowa State in the tournament, and both actually had one more point (56) than 1st team center Davis, but they are 2nd team since Green and Crowder are so far ahead at the forward position. The heroics of Lorenzo Brown and Walter Offutt were enough for NC State and Ohio, respectively, to make the Sweet 16, while Cody Zeller of Indiana nudges out his brother Tyler Zeller only because UNC lists the latter at center. Actually Tyler has been two points better (45-43) in NBA Efficiency.

2nd team all-tournament FGM FGA FTM FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTSEffTotalTeam
Drew Gordon, F 8 15 4 5 14210121 29 56New Mexico
Drew Gordon, F 7 10 4 6 13101118 27 56New Mexico
Royce White, F 9 12 5 9 9431323 30 56Iowa State
Royce White, F 6 9 3 4 13201115 26 56Iowa State
Lorenzo Brown, G 3 9 5 9 6710112 15 42NC State
Lorenzo Brown, G 5 9 5 6 9821517 27 42NC State
Walter Offutt, G 7 9 3 4 3040021 25 42Ohio
Walter Offutt, G 4 7 3 4 3421011 17 42Ohio
Cody Zeller, C 5 9 6 8 13101416 21 43Indiana
Cody Zeller, C 5 9 4 6 6460214 22 43Indiana

Frease bounces back from ND game to make 3rd team and advance Xavier
After an off game against Notre Dame, 7-footer Kenny Frease had the best efficiency of anyone this weekend with a 33 to lead Xavier’s comeback win. He beat out Robbie Hummel’s 31 today for the top one-day total. The backcourt includes Brady Helsip keeping Baylor’s hopes alive, and D.J. Cooper helping with the Ohio shocker, and Terrence Jones locks up the other forward position for the tourney favorite Kentucky.

3rd team all-tournament FGM FGA FTM FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTSEffTotalTeam
Terrence Jones, F 3 9 2 4 1131218 16 46Kentucky
Terrence Jones, F 9 13 3 3 10210122 30 46Kentucky
Tyler Zeller, F 4 7 3 3 6001011 15 45UNC
Tyler Zeller, F 4 9 9 10 15214317 30 45UNC
Brady Heslip, G 9 13 0 - 1010127 24 41Baylor
Brady Heslip, G 5 10 2 2 3110017 17 41Baylor
D.J. Cooper, G 5 12 7 9 6720419 21 41Ohio
D.J. Cooper, G 7 11 4 5 2500321 20 41Ohio
Kenny Frease, C 11 13 3 5 12002225 33 42Xavier
Kenny Frease, C 4 8 2 2 3000010 9 42Xavier

No-call on goal tending costs Darius Johnson-Odom 4th team spot
I have to go straight by the numbers, but Darius Johnson-Odom would have beaten out Scoop Jardine for the 4th team guard if only he had gotten the goal tend call on his great move in the lane. Without the call, the fourth team was dominated by players who matched up against each other in the Syracuse-Kansas State game. I never heard why Vandy had to sit center Festus Ezeli at the start of the 3-point loss to Wisconsin, but he had 11 rebounds in both games to claim the 4th team center spot. The formula gives DJO a minus-1 for the "blocked" shot, and would have instead added 2 points for the made shot to elevate him to the 4th team if the call had been made.

4th team all-tournament FGM FGA FTM FTA REBASTSTLBLKTOPTSEffTotalTeam
Jordan Henriquez, F 7 17 - 1 17300414 19 45Kansas St.
Jordan Henriquez, F 3 6 9 10 9206215 26 45Kansas St
James Southerland, F 6 8 - 1 8110215 20 44Syracuse
James Southerland, F 5 6 3 4 6113015 24 44Syracuse
Rodney McGruder, G 11 16 6 8 4040030 31 40Kansas St.
Rodney McGruder, G 5 13 5 6 4200315 9 40Kansas St.
Scoop Jardine, G 3 8 4 4 2720311 14 33Syracuse
Scoop Jardine, G 5 9 3 4 5810616 19 33Syracuse
Festus Ezeli, C 5 7 4 6 11011214 21 41Vanderbilt
Festus Ezeli, C 2 3 4 6 1112438 20 41Vanderbilt

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Talented Florida & MSU/Lville next obstacles to MU becoming 4th #3 seed this decade to win title; CBS Sports - Crowder > Green for best all-around?

Marquette will travel to Phoenix four wins away from becoming the fourth number 3 seed in the past decade to win the national title. To do so MU will have to get through one of the other programs who did it in Florida (2006 title, while Syracuse did it in 2003 and UConn last year). During that time only one #2 seed (UConn 2004) and five No. 1 seeds have won it all.

A showdown of Draymond Green vs. Jae Crowder, who Greg Anthony said this week has passed Green as the best all-around player in the country, will only be a possibility if Marquette gets past a Florida team that both Value Add and NBA Scouts say is more talented than Marquette.

“The other interesting thing about Jae Crowder is that I always felt that Draymond Green was probably the most versatile player in college basketball, but the more I watch Jae Crowder I think he is the most versatile, because he is versatile on both ends. He can defend points, he can defend the paint, he can defend on the perimeter, he blocks shots, he takes charges, he is a great rebounder, he scores, he is blue collar." - Greg Anthony on CBS Sports

The same Mike Rosario who torched Marquette for 22 points to nearly lead Rutgers back from 21 down in 2009 is the 4th best guard because Florida is the only team with 3 guards in the Value Add Top 100. These include senior point guard Erving Walker (34th in Value Add), 1st round NBA prospect Bradley Beal (85th in Value Add) and 2013 NBA draft prospect Kenny Boynton (22nd). With 6-foot-9 Patrick Young also expected to be a 1st round pick this year and 6-foot-10 Erik Murphy also ranked in the top 500, this is an incredibly talented team.

Get through that and MU will most likely go up against four players expected to be in the NBA within the next two years in 6-1 Keith Appling, 6-6 Branden Dawson, 6-10 Adreian Payne – and most importantly 6-7 Draymond Green.

But Marquette is playing like a Top 3 seed having shut down one of the top guard duos in basketball yesterday, and now with a chance to do the same to perhaps the best guard trio in the land.

For all the talk of parity, it has now been 15 years since a 4-seed has won, and 24 years since an even lower seed (Danny Manning and #6 Kansas 1998) took it all. Since the tournament went to the 16-seed format, the average Number 3 seed has won 1.86 games per tournament – so MU is already slightly ahead of pace with the 2 wins – while the average No. 1 seed has won 3.37 games. The entire table is here (teams that are given a Dayton game have an extra 0.5 average win since those are 50/50 games whether pitting 16 seeds or 12/13 seeds):

SeedAve WinsChampsNon-#1 seed to win title
22.434UConn 2004, Kentucky 1998, Duke 1991, Lville 1986
31.864UConn 2011, Florida 2006, Syracuse 2003, Michigan 1989
41.471Arizona 1997
61.191Kansas 1988
80.691Villanova 1985

If #1 MSU and #3 Marquette survive Thursday, then 2 most versatile players is country will face off

While Michigan State would be a tough match-up if they beat Louisville and Marquette beats Florida, I believe MU would certainly have a better shot in that game than we would have against the length of Kentucky or UNC (though we certainly hope Kendall Marshall's injury today does not knock him out of the tournament) that killed us last year in the second weekend.

After Steve Lavin said watching Crowder is almost like watching a varsity player playing against the JV, and before Charles Barkley said he was the “nail” and the “glue,” Greg Anthony went straight to the question of if Crowder is the best all-around player in the country:

“The other interesting thing about Jae Crowder is that I always felt that Draymond Green was probably the most versatile player in college basketball, but the more I watch Jae Crowder I think he is the most versatile, because he is versatile on both ends. He can defend points, he can defend the paint, he can defend on the perimeter, he blocks shots, he takes charges, he is a great rebounder, he scores, he is blue collar."

Of course, if Greg read Cracked Sidewalks for Value Add ratings he would know Crowder has ranked a little ahead of Green for months (they are now 2nd and 3rd behind Anthony Davis).

The two were by far the best players in the opening round based on NBA Efficiency (Points + Blocks + Assists + Rebounds – Turnovers – FT missed – FG missed), with Green nudging Crowder 39-38. In the second round Green once again had a slight 28-26 edge, but when you consider Marquette was facing higher seeds and Crowder also drew 3 charges yesterday, that’s about as even as you get:

Thursday-FridayFGMFGAFTMFTARebAstStlBlkTO PtsEff
Green vs. Long Island Brook10172312101002439
Crowder vs. BYU1020221644012538
This weekendFGMFGAFTMFTARebAstStlBlkTO PtsEff
Green vs. St. Louis611231362031628
Crowder vs. Murray St.613471323211726
Total in Tourney so farFGMFGAFTMFTARebAstStlBlkTO PtsEff

A Crowder vs. Green match-up would also pit the Player of the Year in the Big East vs. the Player of the Year in the Big Ten. While the Big East has laid a pretty strong claim to the top conference in the last over the past few years, the Big Ten has been the best conference this year.

Green is the best player in the best conference

Using the table above, I calculated how many games each conference would be expected to win based on the seed of each team they had invited to the tournament. Once Florida has wrapped up their win against Norfolk State, the following will be the wins by conference.

ConfAnt WinsSo FarStill playing
BE12.310SFl, Lville, Syr, Cin, Marq
B1010.99Ind, OSU, Wis, MSU, Pur
B128.65Bay, KS
ACC8.85NCSt, UNC, FlSt
SEC6.05Kent, Flo

Ohio and Lehigh also still alive.

It has been a great tournament for the Big East, after being down a bit from the past few years. Based on seeding and a 50/50 playoff game, the Big East would have been expected to win 12 games, and the Big Ten would have been expected to win 11 games.

After Michigan State survived St. Louis today, both the Big Ten and the Big East needed two more wins to reach their anticipated wins (12 and 11 respectively). Florida’s 25-0 run early against Norfolk State would give the SEC five wins – just one short of what their seedings would have suggested with Kentucky still alive and Marquette needing to avoid it’s 3rd bad performance in 4 games against SEC schools this season.

While the Big 12 will need Baylor and Kansas to combine for four more wins to hit their anticipated 9 wins, the real disappoints have been the Mountain West Conference, which only got one win out of New Mexico while Colorado State, San Diego State and UNLV all lost their openers – well short of four anticipated wins. Conference USA also had another disappointing year, as they would have expected at least one win from either Southern Mississippi or Memphis, who should have a more experienced team for Big East competition next year.

Looking at the seeds and records over the past four years of the 13 conferences who have had more than one team win a tourney game, I have to admit the Big East has underperformed a bit. The Big East has won by far the most tournament games with 48, so pretty clearly looks like the best conference over the past four years on that count – but the reputation may have led to a little overseeding as the seeds would have predicted a total of 61 wins over the four years. The five remaining teams would basically have to all run the table until they hit each other to get to that mark.

Conf4-yr anticipated win4-yr wins% of anticipated

The two conferences that have overperformed the most are the CAA and Horizon, but obviously that is mainly VCU winning 5 games last year and Butler winning 5 games two years in a row. However, ODU’s upset of Notre Dame and George Mason’s win over Villanova indicate the CAA is probably getting underseated/represented in the tournament, and Cleveland State did stun Wake Forest in a blowout the year before Butler started their runs.

While the Pac12 is certainly down, the fact that they have won 15 games rather than the 12 or 13 you would expect under their seeds indicates that perhaps Washington should have been selected this year over Iona.