Posted on: March 2, 2010 2:58 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2010 3:01 pm

Xavier among best at avoiding bad losses

One of the keys to building a nice body of work is to avoid bad losses.

Would you believe almost nobody does that better than ... Xavier?

It's true.

I just went through pretty much every relevant school's body of work, and I could only find four teams that have avoided losing to a team Jerry Palm describes as unqualified to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Those teams are Syracuse (only losses to Pittsburgh and Louisville), Kansas (only losses to Tennessee and Oklahoma State), Villanova (only losses to Temple, Georgetown, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Syracuse), and Xavier (only losses to Marquette, Baylor, Kansas State, Butler, Wake Forest, Temple and Dayton).

So what does all this mean?

I'm not sure beyond the obvious.

I just found it interesting that Xavier doesn't really have any bad losses, and that pretty much everybody else has at least one. Makes me wish I would've put the Musketeers higher than 26th in the Top 25 (and one). I plan to adjust Sunday night provided Xavier doesn't, you know, take a bad loss between now and then.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 1, 2010 4:37 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2010 9:47 pm

The Poll Attacks

First things first: I knew Syracuse would be No. 1 in the AP and Coaches polls.

And guess what?

It's not stupid to have Syracuse No. 1.

It's a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I don't agree. But it's not irrational even though Kansas has just as many wins over fellow Top 25 teams and a better RPI, even though KU's two losses came on the road while Syracuse's came at home, even though Jerry Palm still has KU as the No. 1 overall seed. I could use most of that information -- and perhaps all of that information -- to try to convince you that it's stupid to rank Syracuse No. 1. But I'm not going to do that because that's never been the point. I don't think you're stupid if you think Syracuse should be No. 1; I think you're stupid if you think a good case can't also be made for Kansas.

But I'm over it.

I'm more worried about the coach voting Duke No. 1.

That guy is an idiot.

He's about to get Poll Attacked!

AP poll: If Syracuse fans think I'm stupid for having the Orange at No. 2, then I bet they think Tom Keegan is brain-dead. Keegan has the Orange third on his ballot behind Kansas and Kentucky. And did I mention Tom works for the newspaper in Lawrence, Kansas? Yep, the sports editor in Kansas ranked KU No. 1 and Syracuse No. 3. So please click this link and direct your hatred toward him, and forget about me. Thanks.

Coaches poll: It's OK to have Duke in the top four, projected as a No. 1 seed, whatever. All reasonable. But there is no way to reasonably put Duke ahead of both Kansas and Syracuse on a ballot like one coach did this week. Duke has a 25-4 record featuring a loss to North Carolina State. Meantime, Syracuse has a 27-2 record featuring no losses to non-NCAA tournament teams, and Kansas has a 27-2 record featuring no losses to non-NCAA tournament teams. So Syracuse and Kansas both have more wins than Duke, fewer losses than Duke, better wins than Duke, fewer questionable losses than Duke, and I could go on for days.

So who's the guilty coach?

No way of knowing.

Coaches ballots are private.

I can't see them.

But my guess is that the guy who voted Duke No. 1 is the same guy who voted Murray State No. 25 after a loss to Morehead State. Murray State is a great OVC team, but that doesn't translate to a Top 25 team, not when the Racers have four losses to unranked teams and just one win over a team ranked in the top 100 of the RPI.
Posted on: March 1, 2010 10:27 am

Dear Gary (on Kansas-Syracuse)

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Did you forget that (Kansas and Syracuse) played last year in Kansas City? Who won that one? ... And Kansas hasn't played a top 10 team yet, so how impressive is that body of work you love so much? Or do you just cling to All-Americans and ride them to their death like in 2003. How'd those Kansas All-Americans fare against the unproven kids from Syracuse?

-- Adam

I guess the first thing I should do is point out that the Jayhawks have a road win over Kansas State, which will be ranked in the top five of the AP poll this afternoon. That makes one of Adam's points moot. And Adam, if you're reading, please write back and explain what a game played last year in Kansas City -- or a game played in 2003 -- has to do with anything related to this week's rankings. Because best I can tell, last season's Syracuse-Kansas game carries about as much weight as last season's North Carolina-Villanova game, i.e., no weight at all.

Anyway, let's be serious for a moment.

There is nothing wrong with voting Syracuse No. 1.

A reasonable case can be made for the Orange.

I know that.

But it's also reasonable to suggest that KU's body of work is slightly better than Syracuse's body of work, and that's what I've suggested. If you want to argue against me, there are some good places for you to start. But pretending Kansas hasn't beaten a top 10 team is silly, and referencing games from past seasons makes no sense it all. If I'm a Syracuse fan, I'm talking about a two-game lead in the Big East, about dominant wins over Georgetown and Villanova, about Wesley Johnson and an offense and defense that overwhelms opponents.

What I'm not talking about is last year.

Or 2003.

But Adam is a dummy.

So he doesn't know any better.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 27, 2010 6:56 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2010 1:42 pm

And the new No. 1 should be ... KU

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Can you lose and stay No. 1?


If you've built the kind of resume Kansas has built, yes, you absolutely can.

So despite Syracuse's win over Villanova -- or regardless of what happens between Michigan State-Purdue -- you can expect me to keep the Jayhawks atop the Top 25 (and one) despite Saturday's 85-77 loss at Oklahoma State. Why? Because their body of work will still be superior to everybody else's body of work, that's why.

Kansas is 27-2.

The Jayhawks have eight wins over projected NCAA tournament teams, and both losses came on the road to projected NCAA tournament teams. Meantime, Syracuse -- even with the win over Villanova -- doesn't have more wins or fewer losses than Kansas. And though the Orange's wins are similar to KU's in terms of quality, Syracuse's losses don't compare to KU's losses, and, to me, that's the difference.

Kansas has lost at Tennessee and at Oklahoma State.

Syracuse has lost at home to Pittsburgh and at home to Louisville.

Advantage: KU

So, absolutely, the Jayhawks should remain No. 1.

Even in defeat.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Kansas, Syracuse
Posted on: February 21, 2010 12:17 am

The top four seems simple to me

The top four of Sunday's Top 25 (and one) will be easy to figure out.
  1. Kansas
  2. Kentucky
  3. Syracuse
  4. Purdue
Those would also be the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA touranment if the NCAA tournament started today.

It doesn't start today, of course.

But can you believe we're just three weeks from Selection Sunday?
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 17, 2010 11:42 am
Edited on: February 17, 2010 11:43 am

Dear Gary (on who won't make it to Indy)

Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Which of our current top four teams (Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, Villanova) will we NOT see in the Final Four come April? Or will this be a year that all four one-seeds make it? Curious to hear your opinion and rationale.

-- Magee

As you can probably tell from the blog I filed last night, I'm going to have Kansas and Kentucky in Indianapolis unless an injury changes things in the next few weeks. So what you're really asking me to do is pick between Syracuse and Villanova, and I'm not sure I can intelligently do that without seeing the bracket.

Which one will have the easier path?

Does one of them end up in a region with Duke and Ohio State?

That's what will determine the answer to your question, the path from the first round to the Final Four each team must take. Either way, my guess is we'll end up with Kansas, Kentucky, one of of the Big East teams and one of the Big Ten teams battling at Lucas Oil Stadium. That seems like a fun Final Four, and I'd be pleased if it unfolded that way.
Posted on: February 4, 2010 1:13 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2010 1:14 pm

Turner gaining on Wall in POY race

Michael Rothstein of AnnArbor.com has posted the results of his second Player of the Year poll.

Click this link to check it out.

Forty-eight college basketball writers -- myself included -- listed our top three in order.

My top three were:
  1. John Wall (Kentucky)
  2. Evan Turner (Ohio State)
  3. Wesley Johnson (Syracuse)
And that's exactly the order of the top three of the poll.

Wall got 25 first-place votes while Turner got 18.

Scottie Reynolds (Villanova) and Damion James (Texas) rounded out the top five.

Sherron Collins (Kansas) -- with one first-place vote -- was sixth.
Posted on: February 3, 2010 2:32 pm

My top three for Player of the Year

I just turned in my updated Player of the Year rankings to Michael Rothstein of AnnArbor.com.

He's conducting a media survey every few weeks.

The latest results will be out tomorrow.

My ballot looked like this:
  1. John Wall (Kentucky)
  2. Evan Turner (Ohio State)
  3. Wesley Johnson (Syracuse)
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