Posted on: March 12, 2008 3:26 pm

This year, Syracuse knows what's coming

At least Syracuse won't be surprised again on Selection Sunday.

That's the good news for the Orange, that Wednesday's 82-63 loss to Villanova in the first round of the Big East Championship won't leave them anxious the rest of the week while wondering whether they're in or out of the NCAA tournament. Because unless they're delusional, they must know they're out based on the premise that a  bubble team can't get run off the court by a fellow bubble team in its league tournament and expect to be viewed favorably.

So the Orange will be omitted from the bracket for the second straight season.

Last year it was kind of shocking.

But this year it won't be at all.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Syracuse
Posted on: March 12, 2008 3:21 am

Syracuse-Villanova is an elimination game

Here's what I know about Syracuse-Villanova: The loser has no shot at the NCAA tournament.

Does that mean the winner is in?

Not definitely.

That'll probably hinge on which team wins -- because I believe Syracuse (currently in my field) is in slightly better shape than Villanova (currently out of my field) heading into tip-off of Wednesday's first round game of the Big East Tournament -- and how that team then performs against Georgetown in Thursday's quarterfinals. Will a subsequent win over Georgetown be necessary to make the NCAA tournament? Not necessarily. But it wouldn't hurt. And a bad loss could be devastating. And seriously, what's better than this?

Two power programs from a power league are tipping-off at noon ET in what is essentially an elimination game for the NCAA tournament, and when it's over either Jim Boeheim or Jay Wright will make plans for the NIT. That's not a bad way to get the major conference tournaments started. So if you can take a long lunch break you might be wise to do it.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 11, 2008 2:48 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2008 3:23 am

Stanley Burrell thinks the A-10 is pathetic

Athletes always act like they don't care about awards.

And it's ridiculous.

I mean, actors care about awards, as do musicians and writers and all sorts of people from all areas of life. And we all admit it pretty openly. But for some reason athletes have been brainwashed taught to insist awards don't matter, which is why Xavier's Stanley Burrell might be my new favorite player.

Because he cares about awards.

And he doesn't mind telling you how much he cares.

For proof, I turn to Dustin Dow's story in the Cincinnati Enquirer that detailed Burrell's meltdown upon learning no Xavier players were named first team all-conference in the Atlantic 10. Here's the lead quote: "This league is pathetic," Burrell said. "We went 14-2, top 10 in the nation. Forget first team, Josh (Duncan) is probably the player of the year. You've got the best team and nobody on the first-team all-conference team? It's ridiculous. You talk about not having motivation? We got plenty now. I'm really looking forward to Atlantic City now."

Trust me, it gets better.

Here's the link.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 11, 2008 1:12 am

Make that three from the WCC

The West Coast Conference will be a three-bid league.

Crazy as it sounds, it's true.

That's the byproduct of San Diego's 69-62 win over Gonzaga in Monday night's WCC tournament title game, a victory that gave the Toreros the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament while pushing the Zags into at-large bid territory. And make no mistake, the Zags will get one of the 34 at-large bids. It's not even debatable. And because Saint Mary's' credentials are also at-large worthy -- a 24-6 record consisting of seven Top 100 victories and just one loss to an opponent that won' t make the NCAA tournament should be plenty good enough -- the nation's 14th-rated league will have three representatives in the NCAA tournament barring some major lack of reasoning.

To which I say, good for the nation's 14th-rated league.

College athletics at this level are designed to minimize the so-called little guys as much as possible via a lack off television contracts and invitations to marquee neutral site events, etc. That's why it's hard being a San Diego. Or a South Alabama. Or a Western Kentucky. Or a Saint Mary's. So if this happens to be a year when an unusual amount of non-BCS schools make the NCAA tournament based on a fluky turn of events on a wild Monday night, count me among those who has no problem with it, among those who kind of enjoyed watching the San Diego students storm the court and celebrate an achievement many high-major programs would rather them never achieve.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: San Diego
Posted on: March 10, 2008 7:28 pm

The Poll Attacks (but not really)

I don't feel like Poll Attacking today.

So I'm not going to Poll Attack today.

But if I did what I would tell you is that it's insane that Davidson is ranked, and haven't we been through this before? The Wildcats are 23rd in the AP poll and 25th in the Coaches poll -- a development that suggests the voting coaches might be slightly smarter than the voting writers, and I'm sure Bob Knight will be thrilled to hear about this revelation. I mean, seriously, do these people even take the time to put into context what Davidson has really done? It doesn't appear so, because if they did they'd realize that Davidson hasn't really done anything except beat a bunch of bad teams in its remarkably bad league.

The Southern Conference is ranked 21st out of 31 conferences at

The average RPI of the 10 members not named Davidson is 210.

Nobody not named Davidson is better than 129.

So why should anybody consider Davidson a Top 25 team based on nothing more than the fact that it has run through this bunch of junk without incident? And make no mistake, there is nothing else to base the ranking upon because not only have the Wildcats not beaten a Top 100 opponent this season, they haven't beaten a Top 100 opponent since Nov. 26, 2005 when they edged Saint Joseph's in overtime. Since then it's been 13 straight losses to Top 100 opponents, and five of those Top 100 losses have come this season. So it's not like Davidson hasn't had opportunities to notch big wins. It's just that it can't notch big wins because it's not a legitimate Top 25 team, and you'll see how correct I am when the Wildcats' seed in the NCAA tournament doesn't line up with their Top 25 ranking.

But none of that matters, really.

Because I don't feel like Poll Attacking today.

What I'd rather do is get you up to date on what's going to be happening here this week.

The first thing you need to know is that I'm going to update the Projecting the Field and Projecting the Seeds every morning through Selection Sunday. It's that time of the year. I'll keep you informed as best I can. On Tuesday, I'll present the Conference Awards, where I'll name the Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year from the top 16 leagues. Then on Wednesday, I'll present the National Awards, where I'll name the National Player of the Year, National Freshman of the Year and National Coach of the Year -- along with the All-America and Freshman All-America teams. And while I'm doing all this I'll also be filing our annual Gettin' In reports that are basically a form of the Monday Look Back you see every Monday throughout the season, only real difference being that they will be filed every night starting Wednesday night (and none of them will have the word "Monday" in the title).

Anyway, that's that.

It should be a busy week.

So let me get back to work now.

And don't forget what I told you about Davidson.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 9, 2008 2:14 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2008 5:02 pm

Doubting Kentucky can make a man look stupid

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Congratulations, Kentucky Wildcats.

You will be included in the next Projecting the Field when I update late Sunday/early Monday, and let me go ahead and apologize for being among the last to come around and reward you for your turnaround. I doubted you for a while because I couldn't get past how terrible you were in November, December and early January. Then you got better. But I still doubted you because your best player (Patrick Patterson) went down with a season-ending injury. That was reasonable of me, I think. But even if you disagree it doesn't matter anymore, because the way you've responded minus Patterson has been convincing enough to ensure we are now in total agreement, that playing Tennessee tight before winning at South Carolina and beating Florida to improve to 18-11 overall and -- this is the important part -- 12-4 in the SEC is sufficient for inclusion to the NCAA tournament.

Honestly, I'm not sure how you got this thing turned around.

But make no mistake, you got this thing turned around.

So congratulations, Kentucky Wildcats.

Ashley Judd should be proud.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Kentucky
Posted on: March 8, 2008 8:47 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2008 1:41 pm

UNC-Duke (Yeah, I made it here)

DURHAM, N.C. -- After US Airways screwed up my flight (and then bumped me off another two) I gave in to reality, shuffled over to the Avis counter, rented a PT Cruiser (strange little car) and drove 146 miles northeast to Durham. It's been a crazy day, I tell you (see the blog below for proof). But I am now inside Cameron Indoor Stadium and ready for tip-off, though slightly depressed because when I checked into my hotel I realized this is the weekend where we have to set the clocks forward an hour.


I lost who knows how many hours at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport today, and now I'm gonna lose another hour when I finally get to sleep. Seriously, I hate 23-hour days. I'm not even sure why they're necessary. Couldn't we like take a minute here or there throughout the year, just catch up that way? Nobody would even notice. But taking an entire hour from a man's day seems cruel, particularly on the day where he is dealing with a 9 p.m. tip-off.

But that's enough complaining for one day.

I'm at North Carolina-Duke.

The band is playing.

So it could be worse, right?

(I'm still pissed at US Airways, though)
Posted on: March 8, 2008 2:10 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2008 1:41 pm

I love lacrosse (and airport problems)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- I'm delayed on my way to tonight's North Carolina-Duke game, stuck at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport and contemplating mass murder. Honestly, I've never been the violent-crime type. But I'm quickly morphing, mentally preparing to face the consequences for whatever might come next.

Stay tuned.

And if you're into praying, you should pray for all US Airways employees in my general vicinity. And don't tell me to calm down, that the weather is bad and thousands of people are spending this weekend delayed, because I wasn't delayed because of bad weather. I was delayed out of Memphis because somebody forgot to change something on the plane that is supposed to be changed every 100 hours. Whatever that thing is, it was supposed to be changed earlier this week. But it wasn't. So they decided to change it this morning, which caused my flight to leave Memphis 90 minutes late, which caused my flight to arrive in Charlotte 90 minutes late, which caused me to miss my connection to Raleigh-Durham because we parked in C8 at 11:17 and I had to be at E12 at 11:20.

For those unfamilar, C8 is roughly 41 miles from E12.

So to recap, I'm stuck in Charlotte because somebody forgot to change something on a plane earlier this week.

And because I couldn't run 41 miles in three minutes.

But I had convinced myself that being stuck wouldn't be so bad because I could grab some lunch and catch the first half of Louisville-Georgetown (seen exclusively on CBS!) at the little Fox Sports Bar here at the airport while I waited for a flight scheduled to leave at 1:10. So I ordered some terrible airport food, paid $15 for that terrible airport food and looked up at the television only to realize I wasn't watching Georgetown play Louisville in basketball. Instead, I was watching Virginia play Princeton in lacrosse. And though it was riveting stuff, I asked the guy who runs the place if he'd be so kind as to switch the channel.

"I can't," he said.

You can't?

"I mean, I could," he answered. "But I can't."

Needless to say, I've never been more baffled by somebody's answer in my entire life. And the manager must've recognized my confusion because he opted to explain further.

"If I change this channel somebody will complain and then what would I do?" he said.

You think somebody will complain if you turn off lacrosse?

"They could."

In fairness, I suppose this is a possible scenario. I mean, it's possible somebody will complain if you switch from lacrosse to basketball just like it's possible a No. 16 seed will beat a No. 1 seed in this month's NCAA Tournament. Anything's possible, right? But I'm not sure you should live your life under the assumption that it'll happen. So I explained this to the manager, then pointed out that if anybody really cared about lacrosse it wouldn't be on ESPNU. And then I reminded him that we were in North Carolina, and that I didn't get the sense that people in North Carolina were terribly concerned with lacrosse, particularly a regular season lacrosse game (or is it a match?) between Virginia and Princeton. I also highlighted how nobody was in the stands at the game (or match), point being that if nobody at Princeton cares enough about lacrosse to go to the game (or match) then it was reasonable to assume nobody in North Carolina cared about watching it on television.

"I just can't change the channel," he said, and I swear I must've looked exactly how Trent Johnson looked the other night after Lawrence Hill was whistled for a foul on Darren Collison with 2.5 seconds remaining.

Anyway, you know that 1:10 connection to Raleigh-Durham?

I was on standby for that flight.

But that flight was full.

So now I'm on standby for a 2:25 flight to Raleigh-Durham, and if I can't get on this flight I've been advised by the nice people at US Airways to just rent a car and drive. Seriously, that's what they call customer service. They advise you to drive. So I might be driving from Charlotte to Raleigh-Durham ... but first I'm gonna finish watching Virginia-Princetown (the Cavs are leading 12-9 in the fourth, if you happen to care).
Category: NCAAB
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