Thursday, February 19, 2009

Toughest Remaining Schedules and A Better Source For Nitty Gritty Numbers

A few weeks ago I was frustrated that I couldn’t find a free website with a summary of every team’s records against the RPI top 50 and RPI top 100. I spent about 20 minutes looking, gave up, and decided to just write a program to calculate it myself. Normally I don’t publish Nitty Gritty details on my blog until Championship Week, but figuring that I probably wasn’t the only person to experience this frustration, I decided to post my Nitty Gritty numbers on the blog for the last three Mondays.

But at some point in the last few weeks, I re-discovered this Nitty Gritty report by Warren Nolan. I had visited that website before, but at the time Ken Pomeroy was providing the same numbers, and I just forgot about it. The Hoops Report has also added an RPI Nitty Gritty report. Given that both these sites update regularly, I highly recommend you go there for your “free” daily Nitty Gritty fix.

(As a bonus, the Hoops Report also regularly updates the performances of the nation’s top freshman in its Freshman 15 article.)

Crashing the Dance also has the “vs RPI” numbers, but I find the +/- is a little hard to read. The information is all there, but I happen to prefer 3-6 vs RPI Top 50 over 3 -3. But that’s not why I’m mentioning Crash the Dance today. I’m mentioning them because that site is thinking of adding team sheets based on the actual sheets used by the NCAA selection committee. Andy Cox, let me just say that if you add team sheets, you will be the coolest basketball blogger in the universe. (At least for a few days.)

And if you are wondering how to use the Nitty Gritty, Dave Revsine of the Big Ten Network has a pretty detailed discussion of the selection process based on his participation in mock media day.

Top 10 Toughest Finishing Stretches

Now that the Nitty Gritty numbers are readily available, I’m probably going to cease my Nitty Gritty reports until Championship Week. But that’s good because it gives me more time to look at other things. For example, let’s look at teams with brutal finishing schedules.

1. Marquette
@37 Georgetown, 3 Connecticut, @17 Louisville, @1 Pittsburgh, 19 Syracuse
We’ve talked about this gauntlet since January. Georgetown has been on a major skid, but the rest of these games are scary.

2. Maryland
4 North Carolina, 5 Duke, @91 North Carolina St., 16 Wake Forest, @90 Virginia
Boy, Maryland must be looking forward to those road games.

3. Virginia Tech
20 Florida St., @10 Clemson, 5 Duke, 4 North Carolina, @20 Florida St.
A brutal finishing schedule means the Hokies are going to regret last night’s loss at Virginia.

4. Kentucky
18 Tennessee, @42 South Carolina, 41 LSU, Georgia, @45 Florida
Kentucky lacks quality wins on its NCAA resume, but it has a good chance to earn them down the stretch.

5. Oklahoma
@40 Texas, 12 Kansas, @Texas Tech, @14 Missouri, 38 Oklahoma St.
Finally, Oklahoma gets some tough games. They aren’t as much a lock for a #1 seed as some people think.

6. Washington
@32 UCLA, @44 USC, 27 Arizona St., 43 Arizona, Seattle, Washington St.
If the Huskies want to win the Pac-10 title, they are really going to have to earn it over the next two weeks.

7. Duke
@St. John´s (N.Y.), 16 Wake Forest, @61 Maryland, @49 Virginia Tech, 20 Florida St., @4 North Carolina
OK, pretend St. John’s isn’t on the schedule. The rest is tough, right?

8. Texas
2 Oklahoma, Texas Tech, @38 Oklahoma St., 54 Baylor, @12 Kansas
Not only is Texas a bubble team, there are no guaranteed wins left (except for Texas Tech.)

9. Louisville
@48 Cincinnati, @37 Georgetown, 24 Marquette, 87 Seton Hall, @13 West Virginia
Not nearly as tough as Marquette, but do you really want to go on the road and play 3 bubble teams?

10. Michigan
36 Minnesota, @Iowa, 28 Purdue, @29 Wisconsin, @36 Minnesota
Do you think playing at Iowa is easy this year?

The numbers to the left of the opponents are the RPI rankings from Monday’s official NCAA feed.