Tag:Big East
Posted on: November 2, 2011 7:45 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2011 10:18 pm

Ranking the BCS leagues in strength of schedule

By Matt Norlander

I know, the season is almost here. Hope you've enjoyed a lot of what we've cooked up for you here at the blog and on the site. Now, here we have something I had blast doing, even if it took about a month to slowly boil to. I put more than 20 hours into the writing and research of the non-conference schedule piece that you can read about it right here. That chart is daunting -- yet, oh, so pretty -- in some ways, but easy to maneuver and systematize to your liking. I think you'll like it. I hope you do, at the very least.

Might I suggest you toss on some fun-loving background music and get to clicking. There's a lot to explore. Look at your favorite team and compare it with the rest of the BCS, or just within its conference. Feel free to link and share it, too. I hope to do something like that in some statistical arena of the game a couple of times each month throughout the season.

Season tips Nov. 7
There is one over-arching statistical database that didn't get into the chart, though. I wanted to showcase it to you here. It's the collective look at each major conference, and how each has prepared its dockets. The feature deals with schools and how they contrast with their brethren. This blog post is about the leagues as a whole.

Below, I've assembled and calculated the median conference ranking for the major stat categories in the aforementioned linked feature. The only omission is the 20-win teams total, as that factors well into the overall average win total, ranked first below.

All things considered, if I had to rank each conference's scheduling best to worst -- taking all statistical information at face value -- I’d say it goes:
  1. ACC
  2. SEC
  3. Pac-12
  4. Big East
  5. Big Ten
  6. Big 12
First, which league did the best job calling teams with the best record from 2010-11? The SEC.

Average Win Total Last Year
1) SEC: 17.6
2) Pac-12: 17.3
3) Big 12: 16.8
4) ACC: 16.6
5) Big Ten: 16.4
6) Big East: 15.7

With semi- and full-blown unpredictable factors in many non-conference schedules (read: early season tournaments with an assortment of possible opponents), the best, undeniable metric of a team's guts and gumption can be found in the true road game. Which league is bucking up and hitting opponents' gyms the most? The ACC. The Big 12 is a bunch of fraidy cats, I'm sorry to report.

True Road Games
1) ACC: 31
1) SEC: 31
3) Big East: 30
4) Pac-12: 27
5) Big Ten: 21
6) Big 12: 15

The inverse order the better here; the lower the number the lesser the cupcakes. Plenty of bad teams won 12 games last year, but to see which conference stockpiled on truly pitiful competition, look no further than the Big East and Big Ten.

Single-Digit-Win Opponents
1) Pac-12: 12
2) Big 12: 15
3) ACC: 16
3) SEC: 16
5) Big Ten: 22
6) Big East: 33

BCS opponents is a tricky barometer. You can have really good ones, and really bad ones. Over a conference's choosings, though, I think you get a fair estimation of what the league's doing. With 16 teams, no reason for the Big East not to be leading the way here. Huge contrast between two 12-team leagues, when you look at the SEC taking on 25 more Big Six teams than the Pac-12.

BCS Opponents
1) SEC: 43
2) ACC: 38
3) Big East: 37
4) Big Ten: 31
5) Big 12: 27
6) Pac-12: 18

Finally, which league scheduled the most teams that were in college basketball's premier event? The Big East steps up here.

2011 Tournament Teams
1) Big East: 37
1) SEC: 37
3) ACC: 36
4) Big Ten: 28
5) Pac-12: 24
6) Big 12: 22

Photo: AP
Posted on: November 2, 2011 2:30 pm

Louisville could get Blackshear back by December

By Matt Norlander

The Louisville Cardinals are becoming an prime example of attrition's impact on a college basketball team.

Coach Rick Pitino said on radio Tuesday night that his team was dealing with yet two more injuries: Peyton Siva (concussion) and Mike Marra (back). Both are unvailable for Louisville's scrimmage Thursday night against Bellarmine. Normally I think exhibitions are completely meaningless and don't serve as a fortune teller in any mild way.

But with Louisville, the team's probably going to have to examine what it has left and use that exhibition as a litmus test for which players can do what in emergency situations.

The good news: Pitino also said on his radio show that Wayne Blackshear, the highly touted freshman shooting guard, is anticipated to return to the team within six to eight weeks. So, by Christmastime. The initial fear/diagnosis was that Blackshear's shoulder injury and subsequent surgery would sideline for the entire season.

But it turns out the McDonald's All-American should be on the court in time for the big game at Rupp Arena, against Kentucky, on New Year's Eve. Wouldn't that be something? He'll probably aim to get back at least one game before that -- it'd be best not to throw Blackshear into that kind of fire.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 4:09 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 4:13 pm

Big East hoops: Where UCF at SMU happens

By Gary Parrish

The Big East presidents have decided to rebuild their league by inviting Boise State, Air Force and Navy as football-only members, and SMU, UCF and Houston as all-sports members. So Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia will be replaced by Mustangs, Knights and Cougars -- three basketball programs that finished seventh, ninth and 11th in Conference USA last season.

Rick Pitino must be pissed.

Yes, I know basketball doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. But there was some thought that the sport I cover might matter some to the Big East because it's a brand most closely associated with hoops. Turns out, that thought was wrong. The league could've gone with UCF, Temple and Memphis for all sports and at least added two quality basketball programs to go with Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette and Notre Dame. Instead, the Big East went with three schools that bring nothing to the basketball table, meaning the league will now be worse in football and way worse in basketball than it was a year ago.

I guess the Big East could still add Temple and Memphis at some point.

That's possible, I'm told.

But for now, yeah, Rick Pitino must be pissed.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 10:55 am
Edited on: November 1, 2011 10:57 am

Mick Cronin likes that the Big East is morphing

By Matt Norlander

Cincinnati isn't the second, third, fourth or fifth fiddle in the Big East right now. With Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia due to depart in the coming year(s), though, it can move up the league's totem pole. That circumstance is bad for Big East basketball, but good for Cinci. That's Mick Cronin's point below.

Still, doesn't mean he's wrong, overall.

Cinci has been just one in the fray since it left Conference USA and joined the Big East nearly a decade ago. It's never found the dominance or league-wide respect in the Big East the way it did when running roughshod over inferior programs in C-USA. So with the country's best basketball league disassembling itself in the near-future, Cinci is poised to become an elite member of the Big East. I probably should have put elite in quotations back there.

This is now what Cronin thinks and wants for his program; he said as much to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Bill Koch.

I missed this on Friday, but thanks to Bearcats Blog plucking and running with it (and, boy, do they absolutely tear Cronin apart), I caught it, and was somewhat surprised. Here's part of what the Bearcats coach said:
“One thing that coach Pitino and I talk a lot about it is making sure we keep Big East basketball and adding teams that bring merit to the basketball part of the conference,” Cronin said Friday. “But I’ve been on the other side of the coin. When you improve five consecutive years and you do what we did last year and you still don’t get a lot of publicity, in my opinion there’s too many teams in the Big East, too many historical Big East teams, and you’re not one of them. So I see this as a tremendous opportunity for the basketball program at Cincinnati.”
I could spend another thousand words explaining why Cinci hasn't gotten the type of run Syracuse, UConn, Georgetown and Pitt have, but you most likely could recite that yourself. That continually underwhelming, embarrassing non-con is a big part of it. And as for "bringing merit" to the league, Houston, SMU, Navy, Air Force, Boise State and Central Florida most certainly do not. That's a whole lot of pearl onions, butter, pepper and cooked carrots on the table.

Which of those teams is the meat or potatoes?

Cronin added:
“I just think you get overshadowed in the Big East because there’s so many big media names and traditional powers,” Cronin said.  “We have some historically strong basketball schools in our league that I think could have a chance to rebuild. It could be an opportunity for those schools to get some legs going.”
Unfortunately, Cronin's delirious here. When the big-name schools leave, the Big East floats closer to the A10's media model than anything close to what it has today. Fewer teams with legitimate basketball programs won't dictate the conference will remain at the forefront of the sport's coverage; you certainly won't see as much space dedicated to it here.

But it does give Cincinnati an opportunity to reach a higher ladder run -- and as a coach, Cronin rightfully wants that. He wants the easier league with few bullies so he can get his win total closer to 25 than 18. It helps him keep his job, earn a raise and give a generic sense of enhancement to Cinci's program.

Posted on: October 27, 2011 9:09 am
Edited on: October 27, 2011 9:41 am

Preseason Tour: Thoughts from Cincinnati

By Jeff Goodman

Now that I've returned home and had an opportunity to catch my breathe from my Preseason Tour, I'll try and run through my thoughts from each practice I attended. I've already done so for Ohio State, North Carolina and Duke:

Here are my thoughts and observations from Cincinnati:

Season tips Nov. 7
1) Defense. The Bearcats may not have lost any of their top scorers, but Mick Cronin is stressing defense because he will be without quality role guys like Rashad Bishop, Ibrahima Thomas and Larry Davis - all guys that guarded. A year ago, Cincinnati led the Big East in points allowed. "You've got to be able to win ugly - even if you don't make shots," Cronin said. "Defense is all about toughness and discipline."

2) I feel bad for anyone that has to try and match-up with 6-foot-10 freshman Kelvin Gaines. He's already injured a couple teammates due to his wild elbows, so now he's been fitted with knee pads on his elbows in order to protect his teammates. I've never, ever seen a guy with knee pads on their elbows - but I guess elbow pads didn't have enough cushion.

3) While some teams prefer "young" freshman, believing they have a higher upside, Cronin and his staff have gone the other direction in more of a Pittsburgh mold. Sean Kilpatrick is a 21-year-old sophomore and freshman Ge'Lawn Guyn turns 21 in a couple weeks. These guys all look like men.

4) Yancy Gates doesn't just look the part anymore. He also sounds ready to become a star and fulfill the potential that's followed him since high school. The communication between he and the coaching staff is clearly improved - and Gates' stress level has decreased significantly. Look for the senior big man to play with a sense of urgency this year and that should translate into more dominant performances.

5) Cronin defended his lackluster non-conference schedule (for the second consecutive season), but there's truly not much of a defense. It's abysmal. Yes, there are other Big East teams preaching a similar practice, but teams like Syracuse and UConn have nothing to prove - and ones such as DePaul aren't ready. The Bearcats are a preseason Top 25 team that should have played in one of the preseason tournaments. Cronin said he'd like to play Kentucky, Ohio State or Indiana - but he said none have bit on playing against his team.

6) Junior college transfer Cheikh Mboji, who spent last season at Grayson County in Texas, could wind up starting this season. The Senegal native is big, strong and can run the floor - but he's more skilled than many of his countrymen who have come over to play college ball. "He's a big addition for us," Cronin said.

7) It'll be interesting to see how these guys handle the expectations of being tabbed a Preseason Top 25 team. Remember, these guys haven't had to deal with any of this before. This is clearly one of Cronin's concerns.

8) Sean Kilpatrick will lead the team in scoring, but this will be a fairly balanced team again. Kilpatrick's a guy who has that swagger and knows how to put the ball in the basket. He put up 10.2 points in just 20.7 minutes per game in league play a year ago. Cronin said he'll need to cut down on his turnovers.

9) Cronin said he'll continue to recruit New York. Remember, he's plucked Lance Stephenson, Kilpatrick and freshman Jermaine Sanders out of the state.

10) Freshman Shaquille Thomas won't be eligible to play this season due to an NCAA ruling, but is expected to be able to practice in the second semester. The staff is extremely high on Thomas.

10b) I had to share this story about the ex-Bearcat Stephenson that I hadn't heard before. I was told by multiple sources that after he scored his first NBA bucket a year ago, in a sparse crowd in Indiana, his father tossed confetti into the air. Classic.
Posted on: October 26, 2011 9:43 am
Edited on: October 26, 2011 9:55 am

Pitt's Robinson returns Monday; 3rd guard open

By Jeff Goodman

Jamie Dixon said that Nasir Robinson should return sooner than expected and is scheduled to practice on Monday.

Robinson had surgery a couple weeks ago on his injured knee.

That'll give Pittsburgh a full team, one that's led by senior guard Ashton Gibbs.

Dixon said that Gibbs and veteran reserve guard Travon Woodall will likely start together in the backcourt - giving the Panthers two guys who can both handle the ball and run the team (Gibbs will play the two with Woodall and will move to the point when Woodall is out).

"There's no sense not having both guys handle the ball," Dixon said.

Dixon has no shortage of frontcourt guys with Dante Taylor, Robinson, Talib Zanna - and freshmen Khem Birch and Malcolm Gilbert.

Look for sophomores J.J. Moore and Lamar Patterson to split time at the wing spot.

So, if everything looks solidified, why does Dixon sound concerned?

Maybe it's because he has six freshmen and just one senior.

Or maybe it's because he's still waiting for a third guard to emerge from a group that consists of redshirt freshmen Cameron Wright and Isaiah Epps - as well as true freshman John Johnson.

"No one has stepped forward yet," Dixon said.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 3:52 pm

Frank Martin ecstatic with West Va. to Big 12

By Jeff Goodman

If the Big 12 does add West Virginia - as appears to be the case from all accounts - Kansas State coach Frank Martin is ecstatic.

Not necessarily because it'll bring his mentor of sorts, Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins, to the league.

"It's a Hall of Fame coach who went to the Final Four a couple years ago," Martin told CBSSports.com. "If it does happen, it's awesome. Our league instantly gets better."

Martin said he spoke to Huggins on Monday afternoon and the two spoke exclusively about basketball.

"I don't think he had any idea this was coming," Martin said of the reports that have West Virginia leaving the Big East.

Martin said his preference is for the league to be at a dozen teams, but he reiterated that he has complete confidence in the leadership of the Big 12 - whatever direction it chooses to go.

"I have never waffled on the decisions that have been made," Martin said. "I know people on the outside want to complain that we don't have stability, but Kansas State is in a better place than it was five years ago because of the Big 12."

"West Virginia's football program is always in the top of the Big East," he added. "It's big-time football and we don't even have to talk about it basketball-wise."

The addition of West Virginia and TCU would replace outgoing Texas A&M and Missouri - which appears set to depart for the SEC.

"People talk about us being vulnerable," Martin said. "But look at who we are adding."
Posted on: October 25, 2011 3:15 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 3:19 pm

Who's better in hoops: Mizzou or WVU?

By Gary Parrish

Nearly every move made in the crazy world of conference realignment is rooted in football and television markets. Sad as it is, basketball has little to do with it. We've been over this before. But -- as I've also written before -- that doesn't mean basketball isn't affected in a major way, and the Big 12's decision to pull West Virginia from the Big East to replace Missouri -- which is headed to the SEC -- probably enhanced the league's basketball product even if the league now makes less regional sense than it did before.

Here's what you need to know about the past decade:

----- MISSOURI -----

NCAA Touranment appearances: 5
Round of 32: 4
Sweet 16: 2
Elite Eight: 2
Final Four: 0

----- WEST VIRGINIA -----

NCAA Tournament appearances: 6
Round of 32: 5
Sweet 16: 4
Elite Eight: 2
Final Four: 1

So over the past 10 years it's reasonable -- and accurate -- to conclude West Virginia has been the better basketball program, and it's historically better, too. This could obviously change going forward depending on when Bob Huggins retires and who replaces him. But right now, at this point, losing Missouri and replacing it with West Virginia isn't a bad basketball move for the Big 12. At all. Plus, it puts best buddies Bob Huggins and Frank Martin in the same league, and that just sounds like fun.
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com