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Basketball BlogPoll Roundtable Feb 26

February 26, 2009 Comments off

I am a little late getting in on this, but there is a blogger roundtable hosted by the Sea of Blue blog (Kentucky); I’m throwing some answers into the ring.

The roundtable consists of bloggers who are doing the CBS Blogpoll this year; I have been posting my answers here (check out my most recent poll “ballot“).

I hope you will see a few more roundtable questions and answers in this space. But for now, the questions and my answers below.


Who really looks like the best team in college basketball this season?

Obviously no team has run away with the title of “best” yet; and part of the problem is that the Big East is really competitive, as is the ACC.  The top Atlantic Coast Conference teams are all a little flawed.  And the Big East teams have not yet established a standard bearer.  I am still going to go with Pittsburgh, even after their loss; I think, even if/ when they lose in the Big East Tournament (…they need to take a few days off and rest before the NCAAs), I would put a little money on them winning it all.  Connecticut may have the best combination of offensive and defensive efficiency numbers, but without Jerome Dyson, I can’t say they’re the best; and this group of Calhoun’s is lacking a little bit of “heart” or “savagery” or whatever propels a team to just squeeze all spirit out of an opponent.

Is Blake Griffin the Player of the Year already, or can somebody catch him?

Who else would it be?  It’s not going to be Jerel McNeal, because he doesn’t get enough pub.  It’s not gonna be Terrence Williams of Louisville, because he’s not an efficient scorer.  It’s not going to be Tyler Hansbrough, because we all forget he’s still in college. Stephen Curry’s team would need more signature wins.  Luke Harangody’s team needs more wins.  And James Harden, he plays on the west coast for a team that plays slowdown ball.  I wish Patty Mills would get a sniff, but he hadn’t played enough marquee games; I think he makes a good St. Mary’s team threatening.

What currently ranked team is the biggest disappointment so far this year?

Texas… uh, Michigan State for me.  A combination of injuries and WTF losses have kept this team out of the “best team” conversations I thought they would be in… I thought they would be North Carolina’s competitor this year – with an excellent guard in Kalin Lucas and a great frontcourt rotation… then they got smoked like bacon by North Carolina.  Oh well.

Dishonorable mention to the aforementioned Texas – their point guard play has been the story; and North Carolina who may actually still be great, just not “undefeated” great.  All the other teams that have not achieved (see: Duke) that are in the rankings had gaping flaws to begin with – Louisville’s lack of a reliable ballhandler/ reliance on Edgar Sosa, a kid born with a head full of knuckles… Duke’s lack of a post game and reliance on the non-quickness of Greg Paulus… UCLA’s youth with Jrue Holliday and unexciting or young post options…

Predict the next team to beat Oklahoma.

Without Blake Griffin? Missouri in the regular season.  If Griffin makes it back, Mizzou in the Big XII tournament… or ClemPhis – the 2 seed in Oklahoma’s bracket (I am going with Clemson or Memphis as 2 seeds, borrowed from Lunardi’s bracketology predictions).

Categories: college basketball, Sports

CBS Sports Bloggers’ Blogpoll, Week 3

February 22, 2009 1 comment

Notes:

#1: Pitt.

2-5: The great quandary: Oklahoma. They played decently without Blake Balloon poppedGriffin against Texas, one of the few rivals that Oklahoma has. But I think this Texas team is just not good. Do I drop Oklahoma for losing an away game after an injury to their lynchpin? But I think Texas is better than that inconsistent, Morgan State-losing Maryland Squad. And UNC lost to the Terps. So that closes that case. U Conn’s still a great team, just not as great as the Panthers; is their #1 seed close to popping? I like what Louisville is up to, but I know better than to blow up wins over Providence and Cincy too much.

2-10: I think Duke had an okay week, but I expected them to be much better against St. John’s. I am wildly unconvinced about this team. The win over Wake kept them in this lofty perch.

North Carolina needed to just blow out those Hurricanes and defang NC State. They did not. And then a loss to Maryland? This was supposed to be a “done deal” national championship team? Something smells like cowpies, and that is why we all love this sport. Not the cowpies. The volatility.

Marquette has a serious chance to prove what’s really good about the Eagles – this is the U Conn/ Louisville/ Pitt stretch that could get Marquette a 2-seed if they come out with one loss. I reread that and thought “I drank too much this weekend,” so let me amend that to say that this is the stretch that gives us an answer about how good the Golden Eagles are.

And Nova’s win at Syracuse was a solid road win.


10-20: That Michigan State loss at Purdue was… statistically terrible. I will give them a little benefit of the doubt playing on the road against a team that’s better than it appears in Purdue but… ugh.

Despite the ugliest loss I’ve heard about in a while, Illinois has beaten Purdue twice and has more quality wins, so they get the nod.

I realized I have Arizona State ranked too low. And UCLA too high; but I haven’t seen those games so I can’t say that I would drop them out of my top 20. I do have an “East Coast Boas” after all (and have been traveling to see some fam).

20+: Butler, Cal, Dayton – you all disappoint me. Leave my poll. Do the walk of shame. Butler, especially – losing to Illinois-Chicago? I watched Butler eviscerate that same team at Loyola and I have no idea how they could lose to such an inept squad. Beating Davidson brings some props but it doesn’t counter two very bad losses. I wanted to drop Xavier like a naughty habit, but that would have caught me putting in the likes of Siena or Texas, and I am not convinced.

Welcome to Louisiana State and an Arizona team that is coming on strong. But they started so weak that I feel dirty putting them in a top 25.

Rank Team Delta
1 Pittsburgh 3
2 Oklahoma
3 Connecticut 2
4 North Carolina 1
5 Louisville 2
6 Duke 1
7 Villanova 2
8 Wake Forest 2
9 Marquette 2
10 Clemson 2
11 Michigan St. 1
12 Memphis
13 Missouri 3
14 Washington 1
15 Illinois 2
16 Purdue 5
17 Arizona St. 5
18 Kansas 2
19 UCLA 5
20 Gonzaga 2
21 Louisiana St.
22 Xavier 9
23 West Virginia
24 Utah
25 Arizona
Last week’s ballot

Dropped Out: Butler (#19), California (#23), Dayton (#25).

Comments? Gripes with my top 25? Holler at me below. I’m going to sleep.

CBS Sports Bloggers’ Blogpoll, Week 2

February 16, 2009 Comments off

Notes about this week’s poll:

+ This week featured a number of top ten teams losing… mostly away from home. Duke. Clemson. Wake Forest. And Louisville. Despite the losses, I can’t drop all of those teams and move in some other squad, because who could I say would beat those teams on a neutral site? Michigan State? Or Villanova, who lost to West Virginia? Of those teams, I could drop Wake Forest – losing to North Carolina State and Georgia Tech gives me reason to wonder.

+ I saw Butler smoke Loyola-Illinois in Chicago a month ago… and losing to a terrible squad at home is a big ol’ RED FLAG.

+ The Pac-10 is rounding into (muddy) shape.

+ I wanted to put Dayton in my top 25 last week, and now that they came out with a wire-to-wire win over Xavier, I have a little justification. They could really stand to score more efficiently, but I love their style.

Rank Team Delta
1 Connecticut
2 Oklahoma
3 North Carolina
4 Pittsburgh
5 Duke
6 Wake Forest
7 Louisville
8 Clemson
9 Villanova 2
10 Michigan St. 2
11 Marquette 2
12 Memphis 1
13 Xavier 1
14 UCLA 1
15 Washington 1
16 Missouri 1
17 Illinois 2
18 Gonzaga
19 Butler 9
20 Kansas
21 Purdue
22 Arizona St.
23 California 1
24 Utah 1
25 Dayton
Last week’s ballot

Dropped Out: Ohio St. (#23).

edit: here’s a link to this week’s blogpoll as a whole. I won the “Mr. Stubborn” award for not moving the ACC teams down! Heh. I see the point in moving Wake Forest down a slot or two, but I will be damned if I move a Memphis team up who hasn’t beaten anyone of not on the court (I won’t be rude and say anything about off the court), or Clemson, or Louisville (who I should move down – they are playing very poorly right now). But Wake is flawed, for sure.

A Jets’ Fan Open Letter to Brett Favre

February 11, 2009 Comments off

Brett Favre tells ESPN’s Ed Werder that he will retire from football, and the Jets. Well, it’s been a long… year… and I won’t believe it until we go through week 8 of the season and you’re not “itching to come back,” but here are some parting words:

DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU WHERE THE LORD SPLIT YOU.

Wishing you a happy retirement with your wife in Mississippi. Enjoy your Wrangler commercials, and may you come back for celebrity games, commentating, a few movie star roles, and perhaps a stint as head coach of Southern Miss. And thank you for the classy statement:

“Mike and Woody, as well as the entire organization, have been nothing short of outstanding,” Favre said in the email. “My teammates _ Thomas and Kerry included _ were a pleasure to play with. Eric (Mangini) could not have been any better. I enjoyed playing for him. My time with the Jets was short, but I’m honored to be given that chance.”

The Jets did not have an immediate comment. A Jets official said Wednesday night that no definite word had come from Favre yet but added, “that can change any minute.”

The fans appreciate it. And I am sure Eric Mangini, now on to working in Cleveland as head coach, appreciates it as well.

Best,
Pico.

Categories: football, Jets

CBS Sports Bloggers’ Blogpoll, Week 1

February 9, 2009 2 comments

This week is the inaugural CBSSports College Basketball inaugural blogpoll. And this blog was invited to participate. Each of us (participating blogs listed here) is also asked to talk about our voting philosophies.

Now, I’m big on stats but Pomeroy’s numbers, which I refer to daily, do not properly account for a team that suddenly plays like something that needs to be flushed. In Pomeroy’s ranking, West Virginia is ranked 7th?! I don’t see it from West Virginia, and I love their team – but they couldn’t hang with Syracuse, weren’t all that close to Pitt at home. Their numbers and ranking look strong because they eviscerate opponents below them, but I’d like to see a top ten team beat… another top ten team.

They do not pass the eye test.

But I do take a look at Pomeroy’s stats to get a sense of how a team is winning, who they’ve beaten, and the like. I started this list from last week’s AP poll, actually, to get a sense of conventional wisdom. I compared that to the Coaches’ poll as well; and then started making the “do I really think team x can beat team x-1 (ranked just below them)?” And I made concessions for teams that could get merked by one or two teams below them, but generally would handle most squads they are ranked higher than.

I put more emphasis on home losses than road losses, and for teams like Marquette, sometimes the bad game happens. Their body of work in the Big East has been very good, though I think they’re about to get a correction from Villanova (I think they’re playing fantastic ball), U Conn, Pitt, and Louisville. But I do not at all care that they lost to South Florida – they were on the road against an opponent that has been staying close to some top teams, and the Bulls, for some reason, are Marquette kryptonite.

All of that said, I will think on who I ranked and have no qualms dropping, say, #13 Memphis straight out of the poll.  I don’t think they’re that good, but I haven’t found a rationale for dumping them.  My rankings:

Rank Team
1 Connecticut
2 Oklahoma
3 North Carolina
4 Pittsburgh
5 Duke
6 Wake Forest
7 Louisville
8 Clemson
9 Marquette
10 Butler
11 Villanova
12 Michigan St.
13 Memphis
14 Xavier
15 UCLA
16 Washington
17 Missouri
18 Gonzaga
19 Illinois
20 Kansas
21 Purdue
22 Arizona St.
23 Ohio St.
24 California
25 Utah

The composite rankings and some conversation about different methods (some of which I might borrow for my own use next week):

Rank Team PPB StdDev Delta 1 Connecticut (42) 24.9 0.3 25 2 Oklahoma (3) 23.1 1.4 24 3 North Carolina (1) 22.9 1.0 23 4 Pittsburgh 22.0 1.1 22 5 Duke (1) 20.5 2.5 21 6 Louisville 19.4 2.4 20 7 Wake Forest 17.2 2.8 19 8 Memphis 16.3 2.7 18 9 Clemson 15.8 4.0 17 10 Marquette 15.2 3.9 16 11 Michigan St. 15.0 3.9 15 12 UCLA 14.4 3.6 14 13 Xavier 12.7 3.5 13 14 Villanova 12.7 3.4 12 15 Butler 11.4 4.5 11 16 Kansas 9.3 3.3 10 17 Missouri 6.6 4.8 9 18 Gonzaga 6.1 3.9 8 19 Illinois 5.9 3.6 7 20 Purdue 5.6 4.1 6 21 Arizona St. 5.3 3.1 5 22 Utah St. 3.7 4.4 4 23 Washington 3.2 3.3 3 24 Syracuse 2.5 3.2 2 25 Ohio St. 2.1 3.2 1

Notes:

3 On the Come Up

I really like Utah. I think they are crisp and coming on strong. One home loss to California, who I am also more and more impressed with. The Golden Bears lost both of their games downstate in Los Angeles, but bounced back with a solid win over Washington. That got them in for me. And Missouri, winning at Texas is kinda hot.

3 Getting the Bozack

Texas… losing to K-State at home, then Mizzou at home, then Nebraska? Losing to Nebraska? What top 25 does that?? Ok, Missouri does. Purdue has problems. And Syracuse has lost 5 of 7, including to Providence, who aren’t that bad, but they’re not that good either.

Comments? Leave a note below.

Thanks for the Memories: Booker’s Dunk on the Blue Devils

February 5, 2009 Comments off

Clemson’s Trevor Booker throws down on Dukies Brian Zoubek and Kyle Singler during last night’s 27-point romp over Duke:

Michael Phelps Can Get Real Stoned

February 4, 2009 Comments off

Hat tip to Eben, who clued me in to this Slate Explainer article:

…fans are wondering whether Phelps’ abnormally large lung capacity means he can take monster bong rips. Can he?

He can. Total lung capacity refers to the volume of air contained in the lungs at the point of “maximal” inspiration—i.e., the biggest breath you can take. It’s measured in liters. The greater a smoker’s total lung capacity, the more he can inhale from a given joint, bowl, or bong. According to some estimates, Phelps’ lung capacity is twice that of the average human, or 12 liters rather than six. So if he puts his mind to it, he can take a hit that’s twice as big as that of the next partygoer.

Categories: funny, Olympics, player issues

Top Ten Conferences’ RPI as of Feb 04 – A Look at Median RPI

February 4, 2009 1 comment

The median measure of numbers gives a truer understanding of the average; it’s less skewed by spectacularly good or spectacularly bad results. And so, while skimming work and thinking about cookies, I put together a spreadsheet and chart on how top heavy some conferences are.

I was thinking about the disparity between the better teams in the Big East and the lower level teams and expanded to the top ten leagues by RPI. Are they all this top heavy? The top of the league has great teams (though how Georgetown’s RPI is 19 is curious to me). Some conferences have a couple of really good teams at top, and some dogs at the bottom.

So I played with some numbers and created some measures to look at disparity within the conference; not just the difference between #1 and the rear, but the difference between the top half of the league and the bottom half. Obviously, leagues like Conference USA and the Atlantic 10 have a single monster team and a bunch of middle-pack, hoping-to-get-to-the-dance squads. These measures are better for conferences with more top teams.

Original spreadsheet here.

So far this year, the basketball conferences with weak sisters at the bottom are Conference USA and the Atlantic 10. Though of the “Power Conferences” or the “BCS Conferences,” the Big East has the weakest bottom half, with a median RPI of 119; the next closest is the SEC at 110, who also have a low top-half RPI – their conference is more even. The Big Ten’s bottom half is the strongest of these ten leagues.

And apparently, the ACC is better than the Big East.

League
RPI Top Half
RPI Bottom Half
ACC
11
88
Big East
13
119
Big Ten
24
66
Big 12
28
99
Pac 10
39
93
Mountain West
45
138
SEC
51
110
A10
61
193
Missouri Valley
75
151
CUSA
81
198

I used the difference between the conference’s median RPI and average RPI (median – average, as of 02/04/09, taken from statsheet.com) to measure what kind of effect the lower-level teams have on the league’s overall ranking. In all cases the median number was higher – lower ranked teams bring down the average. Conversely, higher ranked teams bring up the median. You can use this measure to either say “the ACC is really tough this year – Georgia Tech is the poorest team by RPI, but they’re not the easy out DePaul is!”, or you can say, “maybe Memphis isn’t that good, they get to slap around the Southern Methodists of the world!”

It’s your call.

Click on image below for larger version.

top heavy conferences

Bruce Springsteen’s Crotch in Camera Moment

February 3, 2009 Comments off

It’s mesmerizing, watching the Boss tight pants careen into a camera at during his Super Bowl halftime show. Hat tip to Kissing Suzy Kolber, but I have to keep this for posterity – after a cut, so as not to annoy regular readers who just come to the main blog page.

Read more…

Categories: funny, video

Citigroup explores breaking naming rights deal with Mets

February 3, 2009 Comments off

Concerns about how Citi is using US Federal bailout money is prompting Citigroup to reconsider the naming rights deal, valued at over $400 million over 20 years.

The Mets deal was attacked last week as an example of misplaced spending by financial institutions that needed bailout funds, according to the paper.

A Citigroup spokesman in New York told Reuters on Tuesday that “no TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) capital will be used for Citi Field or for marketing purposes.”

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Kucinich and Ted Poe wrote to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner last Wednesday, asking him to push Citigroup to dissolve the Mets deal, the paper said.

Most of me says “aw, crap. A visible team in NYC and a naming rights deal? Certainly, the deal has been signed, but the government can find ways of helping Citi nullify the deal, which would be bad press all around for a time.. But if AIG can blow cash on a resort trip, why can’t Citi halp out a baseball franchise… boy, the logic isn’t strong on this one, huh.

The naming rights deal is still valuable, and the Mets franchise is in the public eye; someone else will pony up for some (less rich, dammit) naming rights. But this waffling, and likely breaking of the deal is a tough blow for the Mets’ owner Fred Wilpon, who has already had a tough loss from Bernie Madoff’s financial scheme. According to the Metsblog, Wilpon might even have to sell a minority interest in the team.

Maybe “Jackie Robinson Field” is the most viable naming idea out there, until the Mets can get some corporation to slap their name on the outside of the rotunda.

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