Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Feast Week Redux

A few observations on spending Thanksgiving in rural USA:

-There are places in this country where people tip 2-3% for dinner. True quote. “See, that couple left 35 cents. We’ve been tipping too much.”

-There is such a thing as a fireman’s dance. This consists of the whole town getting together on Saturday night to raise money for the volunteer fire department. It also consists of a band performing country and western songs. All this is fine, but I think this quote sums it up best. Why isn’t anyone dancing? “The old people have too many problems to move around. The young people just come here to drink.”

-The place I stayed at had no ability to connect to cable. That meant dial-up internet and Dish Network TV. And amazingly Dish Network TV has a base package with no ESPN. But this “base” package does include CBS College Sports, the NFL Network, and Versus. Go figure.

CBS College Sports replayed the Ole Miss vs LSU football game. At the end Verne Lundquist says, “My gosh”, not “Oh my goodness.” My bad.

With no ESPN channels I also got to see most of the Cancun Challenge which was replayed over-and-over. Meditation on the Cancun Challenge and poor shooters in a future column.

Feast Week By the Numbers

In the meantime, allow me to summarize the feast week tournaments. Note: I only count real tournaments where some opponents are unknown, not pre-scheduled tournaments. And I only count the tournament portion of the hybrid tournaments, not the 2 home teams each team gets.

But how to handle the NIT? There were 3 mini-tournaments held in addition to the big event at Madison Square Garden. In theory, this sounds awesome. Take the three quarterfinal losers (Charlotte, TCU, Western Kentucky, and Hofstra), pair them up and you have a nice little additional event. But that’s not quite what happened. The quarterfinal losers were sent to different sites.

Rush-the-court noted that the NIT was seeded, but the seeds didn’t match the opponents. I.e. the 4 seed played the 7 seed, not the 5 seed. Well the seeding had to do with the scheduling format. And seeds 5-7 each got to host a mini-tournament.

Worse yet, these weren’t even real mini-tournaments. The day 1 winners didn’t necessarily play each other on day 2. Thus, part of the NIT looks like a pre-scheduled event. As a result, I’m throwing the NIT out as a normal tournament, calling it a hybrid, and only counting the final two rounds. I’m sure you don’t care.

So how did the BCS conferences fair in these tournaments over the last week and a half?
20-8 Big East
16-8 ACC
15-8 SEC
14-9 Big 12
12-16 Big 10
6-9 Pac10

Outside the BCS, the WCC and A10 were the big winners.
7-2 WCC
7-11 A10
16-42 Other

Here’s a full breakdown:

Boston College – Paradise Jam, 6th, 1-2
Clemson – 76 Classic, 5th, 2-1
Duke – Preseason NIT, 1st, 2-0
Florida State – Old Spice Classic, 1st, 3-0
Georgia Tech – Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 5th, 2-1
Maryland – Maui Invitational, 4th, 1-2
Miami (Fla.) – Charleston Classic, 1st, 3-0
North Carolina – Coaches vs Cancer Classic, 2nd, 1-1
Virginia – Cancun Challenge, 3rd, 1-1

Boston College’s loss to Northern Iowa in the Paradise Jam 5th place game hurt, as did Maryland’s consecutive losses to likely NCAA bubble teams Cincinnati and Wisconsin. But the ACC did quite well once again this year with Florida St. and Miami picking up surprise tournament titles.

By the way, I’m nick-naming tonight’s made-for-tv event the ACC Invitational until some other conference decides to win some games. Let’s face it, the ACC is always deep and no one is surprised to see Duke off to a nice start.

Big East
Cincinnati – Maui Invitational, 2nd, 2-1
Connecticut – Preseason NIT, 2nd, 1-1
DePaul – Paradise Jam, 3rd, 2-1
Marquette – Old Spice Classic. 2nd, 2-1
Notre Dame – Chicago Invitational Challenge, 3rd, 1-1
Pittsburgh – CBE Classic, 2nd, 1-1
Rutgers – Legends Classic, 2nd,1-1
South Florida – Charleston Classic, 3rd, 2-1
Syracuse – Coaches vs Cancer Classic, 1st, 2-0
Villanova – Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 1st, 3-0
West Virginia – 76 Classic, 1st, 3-0

West Virginia and Villanova were expected to be good this year, and they didn’t disappoint. But who saw Syracuse winning by such an impressive margin over North Carolina?

But the good showing wasn’t just the top teams. After last year’s winless Big East campaign, DePaul beat Northern Iowa and St. Joe’s in the Virgin Islands, and those wins will help the league’s overall strength. Meanwhile, Marquette is playing well right out of the gate, beating Xavier and Michigan, and losing a heart-breaker to Florida St.

Alabama – Old Spice Classic, 3rd, 2-1
Florida – Legends Classic, 1st, 2-0
Kentucky – Cancun Challenge, 1st, 2-0
LSU – Preseason NIT, 4th, 0-2
Mississippi State – South Padre Invitational, 3rd, 1-1
Mississippi – Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 2nd, 1-1
South Carolina – Charleston Classic, 2nd, 2-1
Tennessee – Paradise Jam, 2nd, 2-1
Vanderbilt – Maui Invitational, 5th 2-1

Florida’s win over Michigan St. is going to look really good on Selection Sunday as Tom Izzo’s teams tend to get better as the season moves along. And Alabama bounced back nicely after losing the season opener to Cornell. Wins over Baylor and Michigan will be nice on selection Sunday.

Big Twelve
Baylor – Old Spice Classic, 5th 2-1
Colorado – Maui Invitational, 7th, 1-2
Iowa State – Chicago Invitational Challenge, 2nd, 1-1
Kansas State – Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 3rd, 2-1
Missouri – South Padre Invitational, 2nd, 1-1
Oklahoma – Great Alaska Shootout, 5th, 1-2
Oklahoma State – Las Vegas Invitational, 1st, 2-0
Texas A&M – 76 Classic, 3rd, 2-1
Texas – CBE Classic, 1st, 2-0

Oklahoma went to Alaska and lost to both San Diego and Houston. That’s going to sting for awhile. Meanwhile, Colorado could only salvage a win against Chaminade out in Hawaii. But Texas A&M knocked off two ranked teams in Clemson and Minnesota, giving the conference a solid start to the season.

Big Ten
Illinois – Las Vegas Invitational, 4th, 0-2
Indiana – Puerto Rico Tip-Off. 8th, 0-3
Iowa – CBE Classic, 4th, 0-2
Michigan State – Legends Classic, 3rd, 1-1
Michigan – Old Spice Classic, 4th, 1-2
Minnesota – 76 Classic, 4th, 1-2
Northwestern – Chicago Invitational Challenge, 1st, 2-0
Ohio State – Coaches vs Cancer Classic, 3rd, 1-1
Penn State – Charleston Classic, 7th, 1-2
Purdue – Paradise Jam, 1st, 3-0
Wisconsin – Maui Invitational, 3rd, 2-1

The Big Ten was in eleven tournaments, but the performance was nothing short of disastrous. Not only did young teams struggle, see Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa’s winless performance. But the team’s with lots of veteran players couldn’t get it done against quality competition. See losses by Michigan, Minnesota, and Michigan St.

Purdue was solid as expected, but the one pleasant surprise was probably Northwestern. The Wildcats were left for dead after Kevin Coble’s injury but responded by beating Notre Dame and Iowa St. I think that might have more to do with Notre Dame and Iowa St’s weakness then Northwestern’s dominance, but we’ll have to monitor this one.

Pac 10
Arizona State – Preseason NIT, 3rd, 1-1
Arizona – Maui Invitational, 6th, 1-2
California – Coaches vs Cancer Classic, 4th, 0-2
Stanford – Cancun Challenge, 2nd, 1-1
UCLA – 76 Classic, 8th, 0-3
Washington State – Great Alaska Shootout, 1st, 3-0

Most of the Pac-10 took this year off, choosing scheduled home tournaments or other events. And the rest probably wish they stayed home too. UCLA finished a miserable dead last after a loss to Long Beach St. in the 76 Classic 7th place game. And even Washington St.’s Great Alaska Victory comes with a grain of salt. They beat the non-D1 Alaska SeaWolves and Nichols St. en route to the tournament victory.

Gonzaga – Maui Invitational, 1st, 3-0
Portland – 76 Classic, 2nd, 2-1
San Diego – Great Alaska Shootout, 2nd, 2-1

The big winner among non-BCS conferences was the WCC. First, Gonzaga took the Maui title and beat 3 BCS teams in the process. But the big shocker was Portland making it to the 76 Classic title game. Portland’s wins against UCLA and Minnesota mean a lot in the credibility department when the WCC argues for multiple bids. Plus San Diego beat Houston and Oklahoma in Alaska. Just a great week for the WCC.

Dayton – Puerto Rico Tip-Off. 4th, 1-2
La Salle – Charleston Classic, 5th, 2-1
Richmond – South Padre Invitational, 1st, 2-0
St. Joseph’s – Paradise Jam, 4th, 1-2
St. Louis – Chicago Invitational Challenge, 4th, 0-2
UMass – Legends Classic, 4th, 0-2
Xavier – Old Spice Classic, 6th, 1-2

I’m sure A10 fans wanted to see more, but Richmond’s South Padre Island title included a pair of wins against Mississippi St. and Missouri, two potential NCAA tournament teams. And LaSalle’s wins over Davidson and Tulane to capture 5th place in the Charleston Classic might not seem that important, but they’ll help the conference’s overall profile. Still, I’m disappointed that Dayton didn’t follow up on the nice win against Georgia Tech.

East Carolina – Paradise Jam, 7th, 1-2
Houston – Great Alaska Shootout, 3rd, 2-1
Tulane – Charleston Classic, 6th, 1-2

Bradley – Las Vegas Invitational, 3rd, 1-1
Creighton – Old Spice Classic, 8th, 0-3
Northern Iowa – Paradise Jam, 5th, 2-1
Wichita State – CBE Classic, 3rd, 1-1

George Mason – Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 7th, 1-2
Old Dominion – South Padre Invitational, 4th, 0-2
UNC Wilmington – Charleston Classic, 4th, 1-2

Butler – 76 Classic, 6th, 1-2
Cleveland State – Cancun Challenge, 4th, 0-2

Lots of teams, not a lot of wins for the other high major conferences. But the most disappointing performance clearly belonged to Butler. The Bulldogs lost to Minnesota and Clemson in LA. This tournament was supposed to be Butler’s big chance to pick up quality non-conference wins, and they simply weren’t there. A close win against UCLA is nice, but may not be worth as much this season.

Other Notable:
Utah – Las Vegas Invitational, 2nd, 1-1
Long Beach St. – 76 Classic, 7th, 1-2
Davidson – Charleston Classic, 8th, 0-3
Boston University – Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 6th, 1-2
Iona – Old Spice Classic, 7th, 1-2