Tuesday, March 15, 2016

News On The Horizon 3/15/2016

Bracket impressions: Committee continues puzzling obsession with mediocrity--Hoopville
Also, to schools like Monmouth and Valparaiso: all those things you’ve been told in the past about playing a tough non-conference schedule? Yeah, you can forget about that too-we’re still not letting you into the party.

For reasons of inclusiveness but also consistency, these are frustrating developments, ones that are starting to shake our confidence in the selection process for this great event. What it all comes down to is this: in the current climate, the selection committee continues to find reasons to include teams like Michigan, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Vanderbilt. And it looks for reasons to leave out teams like Monmouth, St. Bonaventure, Saint Mary’s and Valparaiso.
Like Monmouth, Valparaiso did its best to beef up the non-conference schedule, only to see teams like Rhode Island and Iona plundered by injuries. Valpo dealt with a host of injuries itself but still beat Oregon State comfortably-on the road. Oregon State was somehow valued as a 7 seed with a whole 18-12 record against Division I teams-shouldn’t Valpo winning there have been a significant chip?

South Carolina doesn’t win much sympathy because it plays in the SEC, but the Gamecocks were 8-6 vs. the top 100 and beat Tulsa and Vanderbilt teams in the field. Saint Mary’s posted a 27-5 record, and while their non-conference schedule was notably weak (and thus would’ve made their snub understandable on its own) one has to ask: exactly how many more games were the Gaels supposed to win? Thirty? Thirty-one? Hofstra won the No. 9 conference in the land, yet apparently barely got a sniff.

Every one of the four BCS teams could be out of this bracket, and the tourney would not be poorer for it. There is no mandate that these teams have to be in-at least not publicly. Yet the proclamation we heard through the conference tournaments was that with Monmouth, Saint Mary’s, Valparaiso and Wichita State all losing, the committee just couldn’t take all of them.

Why not?

Saint Mary’s, Valpo and Wichita State all even passed in those so-called “advanced metrics” that the committee loved using against Colorado State last year. Yet this year proved a truth about all forms of metrics, one that is hardly unique to the RPI: that it really doesn’t matter what metric you use, the metric only helps you if the committee wants it to help. And the teams it wants to use those metrics for are the ones it has preconceived notions of as being better.
Best first round matchups And this year we can actually call them “first round matchups”:
Texas A&M-Wisconsin-Green Bay: The Phoenix are going to win some hearts this week with their exciting style of play.

Biggest test yet awaits Wichita State’s post players (+video)--College Sports Madness
Vanderbilt has a projected NBA lottery pick in 7-foot junior center Damian Jones, who averages 14.2 points and 6.9 rebounds, and another skilled big man in 7-1 junior Luke Kornet, who averages 8.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. So Morris, Wessel, Anton Grady and Rashard Kelly will all have to pitch in. Maybe even 6-10 Rauno Nurger in a pinch.
“Two talented big men,” WSU forward Anton Grady said. “One projected to be a first-rounder. Our big guys have always been up to the challenge. We love the opportunity to get out there and show what we can do. We’re ready for it.”
Bryn Forbes, Tom Izzo find deeper intensity as March gets mad--The Detroit Free Press

Vegas 16: Field of 8 set for inaugural year of tournament--Mid-Major Madness
Oakland headed to the 8-team Vegas 16 tourney--The Detroit Free Press
Monday’s roundup: Golden Grizzlies set for Las Vegas--The Detroit News
Oakland accepts bid to inaugural Vegas 16 Tournament, will open against Towson--Press Row Sports
Oakland men's basketball to play in Vegas 16 postseason tournament--Oakland Post

Bracket Prep: West Region--Rush The Court
Sweet Sixteen Sleeper (#12 seed or lower): Green Bay, #14, 23-12. The Phoenix play at the nation’s sixth-fastest pace in part because they use an average of just 13.4 seconds per offensive possession (best in the nation). On the other end of the court, their modus operandi is to slow the opposition down to force turnovers (which they do on better than 20 percent of opponents’ possessions), which in turn leads to transition opportunities, where 34.5 percent of their shot attempts are created (second in the nation). In short, this is a team whose style can cause problems for teams not used to it. Their first round opponent, Texas A&M, features a pair of quality ball-handlers in Anthony Collins and Alex Caruso, but both of those players can be a little loose with possessions at times, a weakness Green Bay could be primed to exploit.
Stephen Curry Award. Gary Payton II, Oregon State (15.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 5.1 APG, 2.5 SPG). I’ve gone with a guy from a small school in this spot in previous years, and while guys like Melvin Johnson (VCU), Carrington Love (Green Bay) and Justin Sears (Yale) are on the radar, a player the caliber of Payton from a school making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 26 seasons qualifies him for this notation.
Strongest Pod: Texas A&M/Green Bay, Texas/Northern Iowa. While Texas A&M and Texas are the favorites here, there is no guarantee that either will make it to the weekend. As we mentioned above, Green Bay’s style could give an unprepared team fits, while Northern Iowa has repeatedly proven its ability to play with the big boys — wins over North Carolina, Iowa State and Wichita State (twice) prove it.
Wildcard: Upset History. This bracket is chock-full of programs with a history of great NCAA Tournament runs from a dark horse position... Green Bay ended the collegiate careers of Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray back in 1994.

Musical March Madness: Every NCAA Tournament coach's favorite band
--Eye On College Basketball
We know they can coach. But enough about that. It's time to ask the hard-hitting questions: What music did these guys listen to?

I reached out to every coach in this year's NCAA Tournament field and got them to answer one simple question: Who's your favorite band or musician?

The answers were startling, hilarious, unexpected, enlightening and all around delightful.
I haven't been able to shake this image from my head in recent days. It's Green Bay's Linc Darner, and he's belting Meat Loaf's "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad" at a dive bar karaoke session.
2016 Anonymously Through The Brackets: Westward Ho--Anonymous Eagle

You know that we're not going to advocate for anyone to favor Wisconsin around these parts. UW-Green Bay is a totally separate issue. Linc Darner's in his first season after taking the reigns from former Golden Eagle Brian Wardle. He's done what Wardle couldn't at GB: win a Horizon League tournament title and get the autobid into the NCAA tournament.

Their reward? A #14 seed, scheduled against #3 Texas A&M. While KenPom gives the Phoenix just a a 16% chance of victory in the game, I'd like to remind everyone that the Aggies had a stretch earlier this season where they lost five of six games, with only a home game against Iowa State breaking up the losing streak. Sure, they've righted the ship, but if that's the TAMU that shows up in Oklahoma City for this one, the Phoenix, who are ranked #117 in KenPom and have the fastest offensive possession time in the country, will get more than a fair shot to pull the upset.
#14 seeds have caused damage recently--Phear The Phoenix
Watch Green Bay in the NCAA Tournament with Phoenix Fans at The Bar--GreenBayPhoenix.com

Green Bay Earns 10 Seed, Faces No. 7 Tennessee in NCAA Tournament--GreenBayPhoenix.com

HoriZone Roundtable Season 1 Episode 11: To The Victors--PantherU

Milwaukee Women's Basketball 2016 NIT Tournament Capsule--College Sports Madness
Panthers Can’t Get On Track In Tournament Final--uwmpanthers.com
Women’s Basketball To Take On Gophers In WNIT--uwmpanthers.com

The Morning Dish – Monday, March 14, 2016--Hoopville
The NIT field was announced later in the evening. The No. 1 seeds are Monmouth, St. Bonaventure, South Carolina and Valparaiso, and 15 teams were automatic qualifiers as regular season conference champions who did not win their conference tournament. This year, 20 teams fit that description in 32 conferences.
One last look at the big bubble--Hoopville
Valparaiso was talked about on the bubble, but the Crusaders were going to have a tough time from the non-conference schedule. Sure, they won at Oregon State (a perfectly good selection whose seed is a bit high), and had three other top 100 wins out of conference, but they also lost at Ball State and won 12 games against teams whose RPI was 200 or lower. Not helping is something out of their control, which is that Rhode Island, who the Crusaders beat on the road, wasn’t as good as initially projected thanks largely to injuries.
How Well Did The Computers Predict The Field?--Basketball Predictions

Ten highest rated teams to miss the Tournament (NIT seed given):
30. St. Bonaventure (1)
34. Akron (6)
38. Saint Mary's (2)
39. Princeton (6)
41. San Diego State (2)
49. Valparaiso (1)
52. Monmouth (1)
54. Hofstra (5)
55. Florida (2)
62. Georgia (3)

Ten highest rated teams to miss the Tournament (NIT seed given):
35. Saint Mary's (2)
44. South Carolina (1)
45. Georgia Tech (4)
52. Florida (2)
54. Virginia Tech (3)
55. San Diego State (2)
56. Georgia (3)
59. Ohio State (3)
61. Valparaiso (1)
62. Kansas State (-)

Ten highest rated teams to miss the Tournament (NIT seed given):
31. Saint Mary's (2)
40. BYU (2)
43. Creighton (4)
44. Valparaiso (1)
45. Florida State (4)
47. Kansas State (-)
50. South Carolina (1)
52. San Diego State (2)
53. Clemson (-)
57. Georgia Tech (4)

Ten highest rated teams to miss the Tournament (NIT seed given):
34. Saint Mary's (2)
36. Valparaiso (1)
43. San Diego State (2)
44. Florida (2)
48. Creighton (4)
50. Kansas State (-)
51. South Carolina (1)
52. Florida State (4)
53. Clemson (-)
57. Houston (5)
Mid-Major Madness Power 15: St. Joseph's soars up the rankings--Mid-Major Madness
Rank  School  Last Week
3.  Valparaiso Crusaders (26-6)  2
Vashil Fernandez, Valparaiso welcome opportunity for NIT games at home--The Post-Tribune
Crusaders begin path to New York on Tuesday night--The NWI Times
Valpo Set to Welcome Texas Southern For NIT Opener--valpoathletics.com

Northern Kentucky Women's Basketball 2016 WBI Tournament Capsule--College Sports Madness
Not done: NKU women to play in WBI--The Northerner
@NKUNorseWBB to host USC Upstate in WBI first round--nkunorse.com

Wright State Women's Basketball 2016 NIT Tournament Capsule--College Sports Madness
Wright State, Dayton make Women’s NIT field--Dayton Daily News
Women Travel to Michigan for WNIT Opener--wsuraiders.com

Youngstown State Women's Basketball 2016 WBI Tournament Capsule--College Sports Madness
Tourney time--Mahoning Valley Tribune Chronicle
YSU to Host Stony Brook on Wednesday in Women’s Basketball Invitational--ysusports.com

Oakland Accepts Vegas 16 Postseason Tournament Invitation--Horizon League Network

No. 10 Seeded Green Bay Will Face No. 7 Seed Tennessee in NCAA Tournament--Horizon League Network

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