Friday, October 17, 2008

It’s Basketball Season!

Quick News

This article points out something I said in May: This year’s Georgetown team could look a lot like last year’s Syracuse team. Georgetown might be talented enough to beat anyone, but they have absolutely no depth.

Illinois is apparently going to have a lot more chemistry this year. From the wife of this blogger, “That’s like telling a woman she has a great personality.” Honestly, nothing could crush my hope for the season more than this article.

There seems to be some law that someone on Louisville has to get injured early in the year before making a triumphant return. This year it is Terrence Williams.

I almost never read other blogs, and I’d like to take this opportunity to offer a sincere apology to several deserving people who I haven’t added to my links yet. But one link I did add was Rush the Court. They’ve spent some time recently talking about the teams that held Early March Madness. I’m still surprised that Illinois came up with the early practice idea.

Regular March Madness starts today. I’m sure Rush the Court and others will have in depth coverage. In the meantime, here’s my mini-preview of the season.

Yet Another Preview

Flash Forward: You’ll be watching your team play in January against a team from the lower end of your conference. The opponent will have hit 5 of 7 three pointers and as a result you will be freaking out. If we lose this game, it is going to kill our seed! Come on, you can’t afford to lose here guys! I know you are better than this!

This behavior is inevitable. Every autumn I tell myself to sit back, relax, and enjoy the season. Don’t take the games too seriously. But by January, it has all flipped. Every game counts for your national ranking. A single loss can move you from 33 to 42 on the S-curve. A single win can mean the difference between being a “lock” and a “bubble” team.

Don’t you see the incredible ramifications of this game between UNC-Wilmington and George Mason! We beat UNC-Wilmington. If they win, they move back into the top 100. We’re 3-5 against the top 100 right now, and 4-5 sounds a lot better.

OK, maybe you aren’t quite that obsessed, but if you found this website, there’s a good chance you are.

This is why November games are one of my personal moments of bliss. There’s nothing like a true cupcake (not to be confused with a CAA, MVC, or WCC team) to keep indigestion to a minimum.

Sure the stadium is half empty. Who are these people by the way? You know who I’m talking about. The people who only show up for the weekend conference games. Thank goodness for the student section. Thank goodness for the band. So what’s the trendy song going to be this year? You know, what’s this year’s “Shake it like a Polaroid picture” song?

I could spend this space telling you how I like the early season to see the freshman. But according to the scouts, there are no Michael Beasley type players this year so my McDonald’s All-American watch is likely to be scaled back this year. But I still want to see if that 6’1” skinny kid can knock down wide open threes. And I want to find out that the 6’10” center has hands of stone. I mean, I was hoping he’d be good, but we’ll probably need his fouls at some point.

And I’m always curious which players have taken their game to the next level. On that note, Luke Winn has a nice article picking this year’s likely emerging stars. Basketball Prospectus will likely have an even deeper season preview. And I think Ken Pomeroy’s theory is right. Role players stay role players. The only emerging stars are players that didn’t get adequate minutes early on, but who have always been productive. In other words, if the freshman on your team didn’t ever make you say “Wow” when he was on the court, he probably never will. But I enjoy looking for that diamond in the rough (otherwise known as the statistical anomaly) anyhow.

But I have a more selfish reason for liking the early season games. I just like to see my team win. This just in, when the Illini went 37-2, that was really fun. Yes, they didn’t win it all, but 37 times I had a Revel-in-the-Glory-Evening.

Revel-in-the-Glory-Evening (Definition): When you stay up til 12:45 hoping to catch 15 seconds of highlights even though you’ve already seen that same set of highlights twice. Inevitably, all SportsCenter does is show your box score and you freak out because you are not getting the last hour of your life back and they just spend 30 minutes talking about hot stove baseball.

Side note: Ball State finally cracked a top 25 poll in football, and they didn’t even get a highlight on SportsCenter on Saturday night. Hey, maybe the game wasn’t televised, but that sucks.

Preseason Tournaments

Last year I published the brackets for all the preseason tournaments. But I hate to be redundant and Rush the Court has already posted the key brackets here. Specifically, they have Coaches vs Cancer, the NIT, Maui, Old Spice, Anaheim, the Legends, and the CBE.

They missed the following:
Puerto Rico Tip-Off
Paradise Jam

And there are a few other tournaments I still couldn’t find the brackets for, namely the Rainbow Classic, Las Vegas Invitational, South Padre Island Invitational, Philly Classic, Global Sports Classic, Chicago Invitational Challenge, Glenn Wilkes Classic, Cancun Challenge, Charleston Classic, ect. Note that many of these other tournaments have “bonus” home games for the BCS schools and/or brackets with no more than four teams.

I will be attending the Old Spice Classic in person this year. The field is absolutely stacked with Georgetown, Maryland, Tennessee, Michigan St., Oklahoma St., Gonzaga, Siena, and Wichita St. Sadly for those of us in DC, because of the bracketing, the odds of Georgetown and Maryland meeting are only about 1 in 4. I’ll be back once the season starts with more comments on the live games. In the meantime, I leave you with a conference-by-conference look at the preseason tournaments:

Preseason Tournaments (BCS Teams)

Purdue – Preseason NIT
Indiana – Maui Invitational
Michigan St. – Old Spice Classic
Wisconsin – Paradise Jam
Michigan – Coaches vs Cancer
Illinois – South Padre Island Invitational
Iowa – Las Vegas Invitational
Penn St. – Philly Classic
Northwestern – None
Ohio St. – None
Minnesota – None (NABC Classic is all at home and not really a tournament. I’m not counting these types of “tournaments”. Minnesota also has a game against Louisville in Vegas, but again this is not really a tournament. Games in Big Ten / ACC Challenge are also not a tournament.)

St. John’s – Preseason NIT
Notre Dame – Maui Invitational
Georgetown – Old Spice Classic
Providence – Anaheim Classic
Pittsburgh – Legends Classic
Syracuse – CBE Classic
Seton Hall – Puerto Rico Tip-Off
Connecticut – Paradise Jam
Cincinnati – Global Sports Classic
West Virginia – Las Vegas Invitational
Villanova – Philly Classic
Marquette – Chicago Invitational Challenge
DePaul – Las Vegas Classic
South Florida – San Juan Shootout (Note: I shouldn’t count this since this tournament is now a glorified semi-home 3 game tournament for USF, but the field was good last year so I’ll still count if for now.)
Louisville – None
Rutgers - None

Boston College – Preseason NIT
North Carolina – Maui Invitational
Duke – Coaches vs Cancer
Maryland – Old Spice Classic
Wake Forest – Anaheim Classic
Virginia Tech – Puerto Rico Tip-Off
Miami – Paradise Jam
Florida St. – Global Sports Classic
Clemson – Charleston Classic
Georgia Tech – None
NC State – None
Virginia – None

Oklahoma – Preseason NIT
Texas – Maui Invitational
Oklahoma St. – Old Spice Classic
Baylor – Anaheim Classic
Texas Tech – Legends Classic
Texas A&M – South Padre Island Invitational
Kansas – CBE Classic
Missouri – Puerto Rico Tip-Off
Kansas St. – Las Vegas Invitational
Colorado – Rainbow Classic
Iowa St. – None
Nebraska – None

Arizona – Preseason NIT
Oregon – Maui Invitational
UCLA – Coaches vs Cancer
Arizona St. – Anaheim Classic
Washington St. – Legends Classic
Washington – CBE Classic
USC – Puerto Rico Tip-Off
California – Global Sports Classic
Stanford – None
Oregon St. – None

Georgia – Preseason NIT
Alabama – Maui Invitational
Tennessee – Old Spice Classic
Mississippi St. – Legends Classic
Florida – CBE Classic
Kentucky – Las Vegas Invitational
Auburn – Chicago Invitational Challenge
Vanderbilt – Cancun Challenge
Ole Miss – Glenn Wilkes Classic
Arkansas – None
South Carolina – None
LSU – None

Note: Even though I’ve only listed the BCS teams, the real winners in these events are usually the MWC, MVC, and A10 teams who often have their best shot to earn national credibility by beating the BCS teams on a neutral court.