March 29, 2013

UVAMBB Power Rankings -- FINAL



Previous editions:

At regular intervals during basketball season, I unveiled the power rankings for all of the players on the basketball team. This is essentially a relative measure of how they've been performing in recent games, coupled with an in-order listing of each player's value to the team moving forward into next season. On with the FINAL installment...


Before the season began, there was some trepidation among pockets of the Virginia die-hard fanbase over whether or not Joe Harris could shoulder the load as the team's primary scoring option; over whether or not he could be the Batman instead of just the Robin.

[Brace for extended comic book metaphor.]

Now that the season is over and I'm reflecting back, I think Joe Harris did a fine job as our Batman.  Now, maybe it was the creaky-knees, heart-maybe-not-totally-in-it Batman from Dark Knight Rises -- Joe's struggles down the stretch and in the postseason certainly weren't pretty.

But that being said, I'm not convinced that this season was a Batman movie.  I think it was more like a Justice League movie.  Or maybe more precisely, a Justice League prequel.

Okay, so Joe is Batman.  Then that means Akil Mitchell is Green Lantern.  And Mike Tobey is Martian Manhunter.  Evan Nolte is Aquaman (not really sure why, it just fits).  Teven Jones?  The Flash.  Paul Jesperson... uhhh... Wonder Woman?  Darion Atkins is Hawkman.  Jontel Evans is Red Tornado.  Taylor Barnette = Green Arrow.  And of course... Justin Anderson is a young Superman.

Enough of that nonsense, on to the Power Rankings... and a new #1 that just might surprise you.


#1 Justin Anderson (previous rank: #3)
Look, I'm not trying to be insulting here.  For the balance of the season, Joe Harris was clearly our best player.  But in the postseason, Justin Anderson was just as clearly taking over the top spot.  He's dynamic, explosive, galvanizing, and of all the players on our current roster, has the best chance to be the fiery on-court leader we sorely lack.  Joe is a great player, but as Mike noted yesterday, JA has the potential to be a transcendent player.  He's a difference-maker in every sense of the term.  A matchup nightmare, because he's too quick for big guys and too strong for small guys.  And frankly, he's the kind of player UVA just never has.  Heading into next season, I think Anderson will bully his way into "centerpiece" status.  The irony is that Joe could then slide comfortably back into a Robin type of role.

If he's Robin, at least he's this one...
...and NOT this one.
#2 Joe Harris (previous rank: #1)
I think Joe's 32.5 minutes per game need to come down to around 28 for next season.  Watching him labor around out there at the end of the season was really painful and disappointing.  He didn't come close to living up to his All-ACC First Team status in the postseason.  But he's still a knockdown shooter with an extremely well-rounded game; a fantastic offensive weapon and also a gritty all-around player.

Just becaise it's cool to put a pic of
Martian Manhunter on the blog.
#3 Mike Tobey (previous rank: #10)
Just like JA staged a last-second coup over Joe, Tobes did the same thing to the Big Fundamental.  Said simply, Mike Tobey is the kind of big man you can build an entire team around.  The fact that he's going to be a tertiary offensive option next season tells you just how special the 2013-14 team might be.  UVA hasn't had a center with this type of offensive skill in what?  20 years?

BIG FUNDAMENTAL
#4 Akil Mitchell (previous rank: #2)
He had long stretches of the season where he was completely indispensable, but he really petered out in the postseason.  He's still a fantastic rebounder, a plus-plus defender, a plus finisher, and a serviceable offensive weapon.  He's also my favorite player on the team.  Two things I love about him: 1) The way he RIPS down rebounds, and 2) The way he won't let the opposing team see the ball go through the hoop on a dead ball play stoppage.  Can't wait to watch him play out his senior season -- he'll be worthy of serious ovation on Senior Night 2014.

#5 Jontel Evans (previous rank: #4)
I'm a total dick for saying this, but I won't miss him.  In so many agonizing ways, his weaknesses and shortcomings overcame whatever positives he brought to the table.  I rank him #5 because of his quality minutes and assists, which were always up around 3-4-5-6 a game.  (Of course, a point guard who is any sort of offensive threat wouldn't be passing off the ball so much, and wouldn't allow the defense to sag off of him and collapse and clog the lane so often.  Watch Tobey and Mitchell's production skyrocket with a real point guard running the offense next season.)

#6 Taylor Barnette (previous rank: #9)
We don't win that St. John's game without our version of the Microwave.

Not sure why, it just fits.
#7 Evan Nolte (previous rank: #6)
He hit the so-called "rookie wall" and he hit it hard.  Once he lost confidence in his shot, his all-around game just sort of totally fell apart.  I still really like him, and I think next season will be his understudy season working behind Joe Harris.

#8 Paul Jesperson (previous rank: #5)
Okay, I've seen enough to form an opinion here.  He's a head case.  He's got the talent and skill to be a really good player - solid D, can shoot the 3, surprisingly good rebounder, surprisingly good finisher at the rim - but he just can't seem to get it all firing on all cylinders.  He plays like he's sleepwalking through it.  He's a prime candidate to see a serious drop-off in playing time next season.  This offseason, it's shit or get off the pot, Jespy.

#9 Darion Atkins (previous rank: #7)
Damn those shin splints.  He's was on fire early in the season, and then it all came crashing down with the injury.  Good defender, nice shotblocker, sneaky good offensive player... but Anthony Gill is rotating into the equation to eat Darion's lunch.

#10 Teven Jones (previous rank: #8)
If Darion has Anthony Gill coming to eat his lunch, then Teven has Malcolm Brogdon coming to eat his lunch, Devon Hall coming to eat his breakfast, and London Perrantes coming to eat his supper.  I like a lot of what Teven brings to the table, but he's simply about to be lost in the shuffle at point guard.  I'm still pulling for the kid, and if we can find a redshirt for one of the freshman point guards, then Teven's minutes might still be there for him.

It was a good season.  Lots of highs, lots of lows.  In the end, I'd say the squad played exactly to expectations, which is a good thing.

Next year, my expectations are higher.  You can't really predict what will happen in the NCAA Tournament, but this is what I'm looking for in 2013-14:

  • 24+ wins
  • Double-digit ACC wins
  • At least one win in the ACC Tournament
  • 5-seed or better in the NCAAT
  • Sweet Sixteen appearance

Elsewhere, I've said "Sweet Sixteen or BUST," but that's not really fair.  What is fair is saying that in year five of the Tony Bennett era, it should be a pretty good season.  The roster is loaded, and it's time for us to take our rightful place among the programs that are truly relevant in the world of college basketball.

GO HOOS!

...or bust.


March 28, 2013

Justin Anderson: Ready to Roar

Let me start off this post by saying that the Lion King is the best Disney movie ever made. Period. If you disagree with me I would love to know how you learned to read given your obvious learning disability.

Justin Anderson ended the 2012-2013 with a bang, stuffing the stat sheet with 24 points, 6 boards, 5 blocks, 3 steals and 2 assists. It was a monster night. It's the kind of game we've been seeing from him in the NIT. It's the kind of game that UVA has needed, given the recent struggles of Joe Harris, who it may come out in the next few days has been nursing an injury. But while Justin Anderson can stuff a stat sheet with the best of them in the ACC, his greatest strengths lie in a place that cannot be measured on the stat sheet. And those skills could help Justin Anderson become, brace yourselves everyone, one of the best players in the history of this program.

We've had the good fortune to be able to go to the last few NIT games, in which Justin has really shone. For all the big time blocks and huge dunks, it is what Justin does after those plays that impresses me the most, and gets me most excited for what this kid can become. Justin plays with such energy and enthusiasm, and that energy extends to the crowd, transforming JPJ from a great place to watch a game, to a terrifying place to come play. JA can pump up that place like no other, and it all stems from his greatest attribute. Beyond his incredible athleticism, his motor is unreal. JA goes 100 miles an hour from the time he hits the floor, to the time he heads back to the locker room. It is that desire, that fire, that drive to be the best, that will drive this kid to levels that we haven't seen in quite some time, and could easily make him the face of the Tony Bennett era.

Does his game have faults? Sure it does, but he's only a first year. He already has the body and athleticism of an NBA player, which means he can spend all summer working with Bennett and the coaching staff on developing his game. I've long said that JA is the key to Bennett's ultimate success as a coach here, because he is an all-world talent. I am anxious to see what this kid can do with a summer to learn under this coaching staff, which excels at player development. Need proof? I'll point you towards the Big Fundamental (Akil Mitchell). If Justin can add a penetration game, including a pull-up jumper, in addition to improving his 3 point shot, he will be a menace and unstoppable force on the court. Who is going to guard him exactly? You throw a shifty and quick 2 at him, JA can take him on the block. If you try a bigger 3/4 on him, JA has the athletic ability to blow right past him. I say this knowing exactly what I am saying, JA is a poor man's LeBron James.

I'll get some backlash for this, but I am 100% confident that if JA puts in the amount of work I think he will in the offseason he will be our best player next season. THAT is a big statement. This is not meant as a slight to Joe Harris, but rather the astronomical potential JA possesses. This kid has a chance to become the face of the program, and one of the greatest players in UVA history.




March 26, 2013

Class of 2014, Off to a Hot Start


I'll start this post off by saying that this is the class that has the potential to put UVA on the national scene. Bam! Are your expectations high enough now? Virginia is absolutely loaded for the 2014 recruiting cycle. According to 247Sports, the best recruiting service in the business, the state of Virginia boasts eleven 4-star recruits, and three 5-star recruits. The talent level is incredible. UVA has been building the foundation of this recruiting class since Mike London arrived in Charlottesville. UVA is already off to a hot start, nabbing two of the top ten in the state. The focus of this class is going to be quality over quantity, as there will finally be enough depth in the program to not need to sign 100 guys to make up for attrition. Let's dive into what we should expect from this class.

Commits: 4

QB Corwin Cutler (***) All indications are that stud QB recruit Corwin "Turtle" Cutler will be doing a prep season in order to put some space between he and Grayson Lambert and/or David Watford. If not for a torn ACL, Turtle would have obliterated every single passing record in the state of Virginia. He was a massively underrated recruit last cycle, and should get his due in this cycle.

DT Chris Nelson (***) Nelson was the first commit of the 2014 class. A teammate of sophomore linebacker Demetrie Brim, Nelson is starting to gain some momentum on the national scene. Nelson has been one of the more frustrating commitments, as he is constantly giving interviews talking about wanting to get offers from and visit bigger schools. Nelson will visit UVA for the spring game on April 6th, and I assume this situation will sort itself out. With a small class expected, Coach London can be selective. All that being said, there is a reason all this talk is being tolerated, and that is that Chris Nelson is pretty darn good. At almost 300 pounds, Nelson has been playing middle linebacker and running back. The kid can move. Those quick feet and ability to play in space will make him a menace on the line. There is not much film of him in his college position, so expect his rating to increase as game film comes in and he hits the summer camp circuit.

S Quin Blanding (*****) Remember when I mentioned putting UVA on the national scene? Well here is the kid that is going to do it. UVA has dominated Bayside high school of late (Henry Coley, Tra Nicholson, Anthony Cooper, Smoke Mizzell). Quin Blanding is an incredible prospect. Think Anthony Poindexter. Really think that. Though he may not be the ferocious hitter Dex was, Blanding has the chance to be that kind of player for this program. Expectations for him are out of this world, and he should be able to meet them.

G Steven Moss (****) Moss is the latest commitment to the Hoos, having committed on Saturday. He is an offensive line prospect out of Fredricksburg who is probably best suited to play guard at the next level. Moss is the #9 prospect in the state and is a huge pull for the Hoos. Moss was long thought to be leaning out of state, but the relationships that have been developed not only with the staff, but with the rest of the recruits as a whole, won out in the end.

Relationships are the key to this whole thing. Though the subject of some controversy, the 757 Sports Academy and the Thoroughbreds 7-on-7 team both contain the top talent in the state this year. Cutler and Blanding are both members of those organizations and they are the key to securing their exceptionally talented friends.

Top Remaining Targets:

DT Andrew Brown (*****) This is the prize of the class. For as good as Quin Blanding is, Andrew Brown is potentially even better. Brown has the size and strength to be a dominant defensive tackle, but also the speed to be a dominant defensive end. It is a lethal combination making him a very rare prospect and an elite-level talent. Brown is the cousin of Corwin Cutler and trains with the 757 Sports Academy.

DT Derrick Nnadi (****) Nnadi is a bull of a defensive tackle. He is exceptionally strong and will be able to eat up blockers at the point of attack. A product of Ocean Lakes and the 757 Sports Academy, Nnadi already has connections to UVA. However his father is a Virginia Tech alum, making this recruitment an interesting one to watch.

WR Jamil Kamara (****) This class will be heavy on the defensive side of the ball. However, Jamil Kamara is a special talent outside. He is big, fast, and has great hands. He also considers Quin Blanding his "twin." Kamara plays with the Thoroughbreds and trains with the 757 Sports Academy.

DE Jayln Holmes (****) This kid is a freak. He's long been considered a Virginia Tech lean, but UVA is making some progress. He trains with the 757 Academy and the relationships with other players are going to be the biggest key to making progress with Holmes. Holmes has a chance to be feared in the ACC. Thinking about him paired with Eli Harold is terrifying.

CB D'Andre Payne (****) Though he is a DC kid, Payne also has a solid relationship with the kids from the 757. Payne's father also has a good relationship with Chip West, which is always good for the Hoos.

ATH CJ Reavis (****) Reavis is another player who was considered a heavy Tech lean. However, he recently has opened things up and UVA seems to be in the mix.

K Gary Wunderlich Brace yourselves. This is a scholarship kicker. Normally we hate this, however if we have to use a scholarship on someone, Wunderlich is the one. He is the #1 kicker and punter prospect for this cycle and may actually be worth a scholarship. It would be nice to not have to get to the ten yard line to score.

DE Jeremiah Clarke (***) Clarke is a popular recruit of late. Another Northern Virginia prospect, Clarke attends T.C. Williams, which is the school from Remember the Titans. There's not really a point to that last part, I just think it's cool. Clarke is an underrated talent at 3 stars and one we like a lot.

S M.J. Stewart (****) Speaking of NOVA kids... MJ Stewart goes to my rival high school, but I guess I can look past that. He's extremely skilled and is looking to enroll early. Stewart also has a strong relationship with Quin Blanding.

Others:
There are other names to be aware of. We'll list them here:

4-star DE Melvin Keihn (Baltimore, MD)
4-star OG Quenton Nelson (Red Bank, NJ)
4-star QB Caleb Henderson (Burke, VA)
Unranked OL Will Richardson (Burlington, NC)

That is a ton of talent on the board right now. UVA is in a great spot with most of these guys. Gary Wunderlich is taking a visit to Texas A&M soon and will decide after that. He is the most likely to commit next, but Jamil Kamara is also one to keep an eye on. He is as close to a lock as you can be, without actually committing. Should be a great year!

March 22, 2013

UVA Baseball Getting Some Pub


Read THIS and get hyped

Quick Hits
  • Hoos are up to 13 in the coaches poll.
  • 19-2 overall this season.
  • Mike Papi has returned with a vengence. Hitting over .400 since last weekend's set with the Tigers.
  • Young pitching is the key to the season, but Scott Silverstein has looked pretty good as well so far.
    • 3-0 with a 3.25 ERA.
  • Did I mention young pitching?
    • Trey Oest: 4-0, 1.23 ERA.
    • Brandon Waddell: 2-0, 2.48 ERA, 41Ks through 29 innings.
    • Josh Sborz: 2-0, 1.32 ERA, 2 saves.
  • Remember über-recruit Nate Kirby?
    • Last outing threw one inning with 2 strikeouts. Looking better.

March 21, 2013

Love this:

HERE’s why your team won’t win the NCAA title, in 140 characters or less.



March 20, 2013

Bracketdoccio 2013


That should work fine for the soundtrack to this post, I guess.

Did it last year, it was fun, I got to use lots of bad language, potty humor, and dick jokes, so I guess I'll do it again this year.  But first, the totally regurgitated intro paragraph...

I usually watch a lot of college basketball, but this year I watched A LOT of college basketball.  (Caps and underlined, bitch.)  I watched so much college basketball probably because we were good and I was just more interested in the sport in general...  But anyway, because my ego is big enough to think you might like to read something like this, here are my thoughts on the bracket.  Don't use this to gamble, because I am traditionally very sub-mediocre at making NCAA tournament picks, but these thoughts are based on things I've seen with my own two eyes, not just restating things I've read or heard elsewhere.  So hopefully you find it original.  Onward my cultish devotees!




Midwest Regional

-- Louisville is going to the Final Four.  Everyone is saying it, and they're right.  So don't get cute.  No, the Cardinals won't lose to Michigan State or Duke in the Elite Eight.  No, they won't lose to Saint Louis in the Sweet Sixteen.  Louisville is the best team in the country, is actually playing up to its potential right now, and has one of the best coaches.  So just put 'em through.

-- Let's talk about Saint Louis for a second.  I doubted myself and had to double-check that they are actually from the city of St. Louis, not enjoying some fucked-up college name like Miami (OHIO).  As for the Billikens basketball team, okay, they're pretty good.  Dwayne Evans is a legit big man, the kind of guy who can power a tournament run.  But this team has become super vogue recently, and I hate super vogue.  They'll handle Tex Mexico State University and Lasso Emporium in the first round, but lose to OK State in the second round.

-- Speaking of the Pokes...  Love 'em this year.  Yeah, I know they lost to Virginia Tech early this season, and VT sucks and has a dude that looks like a black version of Theon Greyjoy, but Marcus Smart is the best bet to go Kemba on this year's tournament field.  Too bad they are in the Lullvil bracket, else I'd be tempted to push the Pokes to E8 / F4 status and totally get busted trying to suck my own dick.  But Sweet Sixteen and nudging the Cards to the brink of extinction would still represent a good showing for the Cowboys.

Imagine this, but blacker. (You fuckin traitor, Theon.)

-- Middle Tennessee can suck my ass crack.  Same to Boise State.  Same to La Salle.  Same to Saint Mary's, who won their play-in game (lick my balls, powers that be -- we'll never ever ever call it the "First Four") and gets to play an un-tested Memfuss team in the first round.  I don't know what will happen there, but I know I'll be pulling for Memphis to completely fucking OBLITERATE the Marys.

-- While you're knuckle-dusting over Tom Izzo's dominance of the NCAAT, don't be surprised to see Valpo spring the first round upset.  Ryan Broekhoff looks - and plays! - like a low-rent Russian poverty version of Dirk Nowitzki.  He could go Bryce Drew on the Michigan State crew.    Or not.  You know, whatever.

-- Creighton, one of the new wave glam mid-majors.  I only wish you pain and agony, Blue Jays.  (And to pay you the ultimate insult, I won't mention Doug McDermott in a piece about the NCAA Tournament.  Whazzat?  I just mentioned him?  FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.)  Go Cincy.

-- Duke lost to Lehigh in the first round last year, right?  I'm sure those shitsippers (Dook, not Lehigh) have been working extra hard on the floor slapping, hellbent that it won't happen again.  I actually have Dook advancing to the Elite Eight.  But I won't like it.  Not one bit.  But they'll still lose before they expect to, and I can't wait to watch Mason Plumlee cry crocodile tears down his freakish giraffe neck.



West Regional

-- There you are, Gonzaga.  Nobody likes you, West Coast Duke.  Nobody has faith in you.  You're soft.  Some of us have you losing to Pitt - PITT! - in the second round.  Some see you slipping against K-State or Wisky in the Sweet Sixteen.  Me?  I'm one of the Wisconsin people.  And I'll enjoy every second of watching you lose to a power conference team that played an actual real-life power conference schedule, as opposed to the competitive pattycake you played against Saint Mary's.

-- Marshall Henderson is a fun guy to watch, and Wisconsin is his perfect foil.  That first round meltdown could be epic.  Like a basketball version of Chernobyl, with soundtrack by Eminem.


-- As for Wisky, I have them in the Elite Eight.  Ole Miss, K-State, Gonzaga, it just all plays perfectly into their hands.  Ryan Evans will see his star rise in a major way through the first three rounds of this tournament.

-- I don't know what to make of K-State, I really don't.  I still think Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente play for them, until I check their roster and see they don't.  So yeah, I don't know what to make of Kansas State.  I do know that I want to see them piece together a relentless, merciless curb-stomp against the Boise/La Salle winner.  Like a 40+ point blowout.

-- Belmont over Arizona, I'm on the bandwagon.

-- You won't believe this, but being a person who just realized he has access to the CBS Sports station on his cable dial, I watched every single game of the Mountain West conference tournament.  That's how I know Boise State is garbage.  That's also how I know New Mexico is legit, Kendall Williams is going to be a household name by this time two weeks from now, Tony Snell is going to single-handedly destroy the game of organized basketball, Alex Kirk is the best big man you've never heard of, Cam Bairstow is the swinging dick, and the Lobos are going to the Final Four.  Book it.

-- I also kind of like Ohio State in this regional.  Too bad it's a Buckeye/Lobo Sweet Sixteen duel, because Ohio State (fueled by Deshaun Thomas' scoring and Aaron Craft's defense) would be a Final Four contender in any other region.  But that's how much I like New Mexico - I have them beating an awesome Ohio State team in the S16.

-- I guess I should mention Iowa State's three-point shooting.  Everyone else is mentioning it.  Bombs Away can be fun in the NCAAT, but those chuck & duck teams rarely ever make it past the first or second round... unless they are 2011 VCU.  I'll pick ISU to beat Notre Dame, but that's about it.  Meanwhile, can someone explain to me the national cockspasm over Fred Hoiberg's coaching?  I don't really get it.  I liked him better when he was Harvey Dent.

Either way, dude's a putz.


South Regional

-- VCU goes back to the Final Four!  Not really, but an Elite Eight run seems to be in the offing.  They got a complete cakewalk to the Sweet Sixteen.  Without Alex Abreu, Akron is about as punchless as a 12-seed has ever been.  Michigan is super soft right now, and might actually lose to Nasty Nate Wolters in the first round anyway.  I hate VCU, so I'm giving them the kiss of death of picking them to do well in this tournament.  Suck it, Rams.

-- (Does anyone think it's funny when I say "Smaka Shart" instead of Shaka Smart?  Like, did you notice I switched around the first two letter of each word to make the second word spell "shart?"  Funny, right?  You guys know what a shart is, right?  You guys like me, right?  You like me?)

-- Kansas is like a classic Renaissance Tragedy.  You know it ends in doom for the hero, but you watch anyway.  Where will this season's Jayhawk death spiral swirl them to?  WKU in the first round would be torturous enough, being the first 1-seed to ever lose to a 16.  UNC rolling them in the second round would be good, with Roy Williams doing the job, hopefully wearing his cocksuckery plaid jacket.  VCU in the Sweet Sixteen feels about right, since it was 1-seed Kansas the Rams beat to go to that 2011 Final Four.  Poor Kansas.

Douche.
-- I'm getting kind of bored with this bracket.  Minnesota beats UCLA and Oklahoma beats a very pedestrian San Diego State, but neither of those upsets feel very exciting.  Florida and Georgetown cruise to a S16 matchup, where I like the Gators to chomp Otto Porter while four other dudes stand around and watch it happen.  Florida's my Final Four pick from the South, by the way.

-- Does anyone else imagine the word "acorn" when you see Akron?

-- I feel like acorns are kind of a world of un-tapped comedic potential.  I mean, look at the damn thing.  And the whole thing with squirrels... it's kind of hilarious.

-- I'm dying here, aren't I?




East Regional

-- Assuming NC State can get past Temple, I like the matchup problems they pose for Indiana.  Richard Howell can body Cody Zeller.  Lo Brown can blanket Victor Oladipo.  Scott Wood from deep can out-gun Jordan Hulls.  C.J. Leslie out x-factors Christian Watford.  It all sounds so good... until you add in the Gottfried effect.  As in, just subtract 12 points from State's total.  As in, Gottfried can't coach.  Unmitigated street ball could give IU a test, but it's one the Hoosiers will pass.  And once they survive that battle, it's smooth sailing to the Final Four.

-- California gets to play home games in the first two rounds, boo hoo.  Doesn't matter, UNLV rolls them in the first round.

-- Never trust anything I say about UNLV.  I'm a bit of a secret UNLV homer.

-- I don't know why, but I kinda like the Cuse this season.  Good enough for a Sweet Sixteen run, at least.

-- "Bucknell will out-Butler Butler."  Herp.  A.  Derp.  But fuck it...  I like it, so I'll repeat it.

-- Marquette to the Elite Eight, just for showing up.

-- Are YOU buying Miami?  Really?  That's cool, and maybe a little bit sad for you.

Never forget:


It could happen again.

Don't miss this opportunity to pick Pacific and amaze all of your friends and co-workers.  Lorenzo McCloud, remember the name.  4:00 PM on Friday, it goes down in infamy.


Wow, sorry I kind of petered out on this shit today.  Too much staying up late watching the Mountain West tournament last week, and it's catching up to me.  I will continue to defile myself with roughly 24 hours of uninterrupted basketball watching over the next two days.  I have caffeine pills, do you?

March 19, 2013

Full NCAA Tournament 1st Round Schedule & Viewing Guide


Tuesday, Mar. 19 (First-round games from Dayton)
Both games: Marv Albert (play-by-play), Steve Kerr (analyst) and Craig Sager (reporter)
·         North Carolina A&T vs. Liberty, 6:30 p.m. ET (TruTV)
·         Middle Tennessee State vs. Saint Mary's, 9 p.m. ET (TruTV)

Wednesday, Mar. 20 (First-round games from Dayton)
Both games: Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Clark Kellogg (analyst) and Tracy Wolfson (reporter)
·         LIU-Brooklyn vs. James Madison, 6:30 p.m. ET (TruTV)
·         Boise State vs. La Salle, 9 p.m. ET (TruTV)

Thursday, Mar. 21 (Second-round games from Lexington, San Jose, Salt Lake City and Auburn Hills)
·         Valparaiso vs. Michigan State, 12:15 p.m. ET (CBS) (Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery/Rachel Nichols)
·         Bucknell vs. Butler, 12:40 p.m. ET (TruTV) (Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel/Allie LaForce)
·         Wichita State vs. Pittsburgh, 1:40 p.m. ET (TBS) (Spero Dedes/Doug Gottlieb/Jamie Maggio)
·         New Mexico State vs. Saint Louis, 2:10 p.m. ET (TNT) (Brian Anderson/Dan Bonner/Marty Snider)
·         Winner of Middle Tennessee State/Saint Mary's vs. Memphis, 2:40 p.m. ET (CBS)(Lundquist/Raftery/Nichols)
·         Davidson vs. Marquette, 3:10 p.m. ET (TruTV) (Eagle/Spanarkel/LaForce)
·         Southern vs. Gonzaga, 4:10 p.m. ET (TBS) (Dedes/Gottlieb/Maggio)
·         Oregon vs. Oklahoma State, 4:40 p.m. ET (TNT) (Anderson/Bonner/Snider)
·         Winner of North Carolina A&T/Liberty vs. Louisville 6:50 p.m. ET (TBS)(Eagle/Spanarkel/LaForce)
·         South Dakota State vs. Michigan, 7:15 p.m. ET (CBS) (Lundquist/Raftery/Nichols)
·         Belmont vs. Arizona , 7:20 p.m. ET (TNT) (Dedes/Gottlieb/Maggio)
·         California vs. UNLV , 7:27 p.m. ET (TruTV) (Anderson/Bonner/Snider)
·         Missouri vs. Colorado State, 9:20 p.m. ET (TBS) (Eagle/Spanarkel/LaForce)
·         Akron vs. VCU, 9:45 p.m. ET (CBS) (Lundquist/Raftery/Nichols)
·         Harvard vs. New Mexico, 9:50 p.m. ET (TNT) (Dedes/Gottlieb/Maggio)
·         Montana vs. Syracuse, 9:57 p.m. ET (TruTV) (Anderson/Bonner/Snider)

Friday, Mar. 22 (Second-round games from Philadelphia, Kansas City, Dayton and Austin)
·         Albany vs. Duke, 12:15 p.m. ET (CBS) (Kevin Harlan/Len Elmore/Reggie Miller/Lewis Johnson)
·         Ole Miss vs. Wisconsin, 12:40 p.m. ET (TruTV) (Marv Albert/Steve Kerr/Craig Sager)
·         Temple vs. N.C. State, 1:40 p.m. ET (TBS) (Jim Nantz/Clark Kellogg/Tracy Wolfson)
·         Pacific vs. Miami, 2:10 p.m. ET (TNT) (Tim Brando/Mike Gminski/Otis Livingston)
·         Cincinnati vs. Creighton, 2:45 p.m. ET (CBS) (Harlan/Elmore/Miller/Johnson)
·         Winner of Boise State/La Salle vs. Kansas State 3:10 p.m. ET (TruTV) Albert/Kerr/Sager)
·         Winner of LIU-Brooklyn/James Madison vs. Indiana, 4:10 p.m. ET (TBS)(Nantz/Kellogg/Wolfson)
·         Colorado vs. Illinois, 4:40 p.m. ET (TNT) (Brando/Gminski/Livingston)
·         Florida Gulf Coast vs. Georgetown, 6:50 p.m. ET (TBS) (Harlan/Elmore/Miller/Johnson)
·         Iona vs. Ohio State, 7:15 p.m. ET (CBS) (Nantz/Kellogg/Wolfson)
·         Villanova vs. North Carolina, 7:20 p.m. ET (TNT) (Albert/Kerr/Sager)
·         Northwestern State vs. Florida 7:27 p.m. ET (TruTV) (Brando/Gminski/Livingston)
·         Oklahoma vs. San Diego State, 9:20 p.m. ET (TBS) (Harlan/Elmore/Miller/Johnson)
·         Iowa State vs. Notre Dame, 9:45 p.m. ET (CBS) (Nantz/Kellogg/Wolfson)
·         Western Kentucky vs. Kansas, 9:50 p.m. ET (TNT) (Albert/Kerr/Sager)
·         Minnesota vs. UCLA, 9:57 p.m. ET (TruTV) (Brando/Gminski/Livingston)

Duke's [and Virginia's] Place in the Future Sports Landscape

If you can stomach reading about Duke, below is a link to a fantastic piece from GoDuke.com.  It's basically a long interview with Duke's AD Kevin White, who speaks about the future of the ACC and collegiate athletics in general, and Duke's place in the shifting landscape.


I share this with you because there are a lot of parallels between Duke and UVA.  I don't want to list them all out in this space, because that would hurt me to do.  And besides, you already know the parallels.

Anyway, it's a good read.  I encourage you to check it out.




The Mountain West Loophole

Interesting...

Jay Bilas Was Wrong About the Committee Going By Who You Lost To, It Was the Bad Teams You Beat That Were the Difference

I have no hurt feelings over the Mountain West.  New Mexico is one of the top five or six best teams in the country this season.  UNLV and Colorado State deserved their bids, for sure.  San Diego State isn't all that great, but I think they earned their way in.  Boise State is bullshit, and maybe they took our spot.  The above article explains why.

Clever plan, MW.

I hope UVA doesn't need to explore loopholes in the future.  I just want us to put together a hyper-aggressive OOC schedule, and I want us to be so good that there's zero doubt about our bid.  Wisconsin.  That's the level we need to get to.

Anyway, interesting read for this fine Tuesday morning.

March 18, 2013

Second Annual Wahooze Tournament Challenge!

It's time for the Second Annual Wahooze Tournament Challenge!

Click HERE to join and compete!  (Password: ROTUNDA)

The winner (likely me, naturally) gets to pick any picture they want - within reason - to be hosted in that space on the blog for the entire month of April.  So there's your stakes.  A whole lot of honor, and a chance to put a dickpic on my blog.

Join!

Compete!

Win!

March 17, 2013

NIT #1 Seed, Tuesday vs. Norfolk State

Embrace it, Hoofans.  We'll put our 17-game home winning streak on the line.  That streak will either be broken, or we'll be advancing to Madison Square Garden.  GO HOOS!

Click to enlarge.

NIT

Boise State, Middle Tennessee, Saint Mary's, La Salle... SUPER FUCKING LAME.

But, we only have ourselves to blame for not receiving a bid.  We scheduled a crappy OOC slate, and then lost to the worst teams on our schedule.  We couldn't win away from home, and we faded down the stretch.  We had some great wins this season, but they weren't enough to cover up the blemishes.

The NIT Selection Show (yes, it exists) is on ESPNU at 9:00.  Again, I encourage all Virginia fans to embrace it.  It's our one and only chance to prove that we belonged in the Big Dance over the shitbag Broncos, Blue Raiders, Gaels, and Explorers.



Embrace it.

Selection Show...

...starts in about 5 minutes.  Sadly, we were a tournament team through February, but once the calendar turned to March the wheels fell off.  As of March 17th, I'd say we have approximately a 10-15% chance at an NCAA Tournament bid.

I'm ready for the NIT, but prepared to be pleasantly surprised if we're invited to the Big Dance.

Either way:

GO HOOS!

March 16, 2013

Learning to Embrace the NIT



Okay, yes, yesterday sucked.

And with Ole Miss coming back to beat Mizzou coupled with Maryland's stunning upset over Duke, we probably slid out of "last four in" territory and into the "first four out" or "next four out."  (Screw you, Lunardi.)  In any case, I'd be shocked to see Virginia in the NCAA Tournament bracket when it is unveiled tomorrow evening.

Yes, I'll be butthurt to see teams like Middle Tennessee State, La Salle, and mother-loving Boise State sneaking into the Big Dance while we are left out, but whatevs.  That's March Madness, right?  I just hope some of these shitbag mid-majors can give us good basketball games once the tourney action begins.

Meanwhile, we've had a good season.  Losses against George Mason, Delaware, the worst Old Dominion team in quarter century, Wake Forest, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Boston College, and Florida State kept it from being a great season.  But anytime you win 20 games, including victories at Wisconsin, at Maryland, and home against tourney-bound Tennessee, UNC, NC State, Florida State, Maryland, and Duke, it was a pretty good season.

I think it's important to remember what our expectations were earlier this season. This is what I predicted on December 30th: We get - and stay - on the NCAA Tournament bubble during ACC play. We end up either barely in the tournament or barely out of it. If we're in, we give our first-round opponent a scare, and if we're out, we advance deep into the NIT. Hoofans everywhere deem the season a success.  The first part of that pretty much happened, right?  Now it's time for the NIT run.

So as we slink off toward that destiny, I think it's important to note that there are really three types of NIT teams:

1) Regular season champions of mid-major conferences who lost in their conference tournaments (they get auto bids to the re-vamped NIT now, FYI), and hit the NIT with a chip on their shoulders and something to prove.  These teams are usually pretty good, if a little under-talented.  They are usually upperclassmen-laden, and play with a dangerous sort of desperation.  Think Stony Brook, Long Beach State, Niagara, and Robert Morris.

2) Power conference teams who realistically knew they wouldn't make it to the NCAAT but played hard to stay above .500 and earn a crack at the postseason.  These teams are usually flawed, even damningly flawed, but are proud to be playing in the NIT in a rebuilding season.  They are usually talented enough in enough key spots to be dangerous in a tournament setting. If one of their studs gets hot, they can beat anyone.  (Kinda like us with Joe Harris beating Duke.)  Think Arkansas, Stanford, LSU, and Florida State.

3) Teams whose bubbles popped.  These are usually the best NIT teams, but finding proper motivation can be an issue.  It's hard to get so deflated on Selection Sunday, and then try to bounce back to play an NIT game two or three days later.  But if these bubble-burst teams can survive that first game, they have a tendency to rise to the occasion.  Most of the time, a bubble-burst team wins the whole shebang in Madison Square Garden.  This year's crop of bubble-burst NIT contenders could include: Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Baylor, Iowa, and Arizona State.

Click on the pic to enlarge it and take a look at the 2012 NIT Bracket.

The NIT was re-vamped in 2006.  It's no longer the sprawling, all-inclusive 48-team garbage tournament it once was.  Now chiseled down to a lean, mean 32 teams, and with the auto-bids I mentioned above coupled with the dawn of parity in college basketball, there is quality in the NIT.  There is... not prestige... but a certain level of respect to be earned by performing well in this setting.

I have some questions about Tony Bennett's roster management and ability to properly motivate his team late in the season, in March.  I am not alone in leveling those questions at our coach.  Playing in the NIT will give him the perfect chance to answer those criticisms.  If we do well in the NIT, it's a springboard to next season's inevitable success.

If you're a UVA fan, I encourage you to not look down your nose at the NIT.  Remember, we failed to make the postseason - any postseason - in 7 of the last 11 seasons.  Take what you get and embrace it, I urge you.  Know that brighter days are ahead in 2013-14, but this NIT appearance can be an important part of that narrative.

I'll be watching the Selection Show tomorrow.  I'm not expecting us to get in, but I'll be watching. And if we miss out on the Big Dance, I'll be churning the internet for the midnight release of the NIT bracket.  Because I think it's an exciting tournament, and a fine place to be playing after a good season that fell short of greatness.




Yep, that's right, NIT Bracketology.  It exists.


March 15, 2013

DOA

Welp, that fucking sucked.  Happy fucking birthday to me.




Tony Bennett's Offseason To-Do List:

1) Make Joe Harris shoot free throws.  No reason he should be missing so many.  90% or bust.

2) Develop at least one vocal on-court leader.

3) Fall out of love with Paul Jesperson.

4) Find a way to build an out-of-conference schedule that is tougher than the OOC schedule version of a wet queef.  (A "queef" is a vaginal fart, in case you didn't know.)

5) Petition UVA management to allow Jontel Evans into grad school so he can walk on to the football team and play the sport he should have been playing all along.  I don't know how the eligibility issues get resolved or whatever, but MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

6) Do whatever it takes to get the 2013-14 team (which will be absolutely loaded) ready to win in March.  Only March matters.

7) Do whatever it takes to get the 2013-14 team (which will be absolutely loaded) ready to win in the ACC Tournament.  I'm tired of this shit.

8) 2014 Sweet Sixteen or BUST.  (I'm not sure what "BUST" means, but I'm still saying it.)





Okay, I feel a little better.  Got some f-bombs out, potshots at Jontel and Jespy, used the word queef.  Yep, I feel better.

So now we hang on to our flickering NCAA Tournament dreams by pulling for nothing but chalk in all of the conference tournaments.  If you can bear to watch more basketball today (not sure if I can or not), we specifically need:

  • UTEP over Southern Miss
  • Duke over Maryland
  • Kansas over Iowa State
  • Vanderbilt over Kentucky
  • Michigan State over Iowa
  • New Mexico over San Diego State
  • Mizzou over Ole Miss
  • Anything else that is chalk in the conference tourneys

If I don't go seppuku on myself tonight, I'll give you a Bubble Update in the morning.  For now, I'm pacing around with the katana in my hand, trying to clear my thoughts while seriously considering hara-kiri.


March 14, 2013

Just noticed my ass...

Oh man, you guys have to check THIS out.




Good lord, man.  There's trying too hard, there's really trying too hard, and then there's this.

Poor Wake

Wake Forest is a basketball school.  The ACC is a basketball conference.  So it's hard to not feel sorry for Wake's small-yet-rabid fanbase.  Hate the stupid tie-dyes as much as you want, but pity the fans of the Demon Deacons for having to endure the disastrous Jeff Bzdelik coaching tenure and Athletic Director Ron Wellman's ultimate hubris in hiring his buddy and then closing out all criticism.



Don't know what I'm talking about?  Learn all about it, HERE and HERE.  And also HERE.

Look, I don't really give a crap about Wake Forest Basketball.  But I do give a crap about the ACC, as a strong ACC is by far the best home for UVA athletics.  So I want to use my voice - however small - to support Wake's uprising in the "Fire Bzdelik" and "Fire Wellman" movements.

Wake is a basketball school, and deserves a competent basketball coach to lead its program back to solid footing.

The ACC is a basketball conference, and needs a healthy and potent Wake Forest team in order to be the best it can be, and to put the best product possible on television [and computer] screens.



Add/Drop/Trade/Kill/Destroy*



Just wanted to remind everyone that the guys from my fantasy football league and I work on a separate blog, one centered around our league and also focused on the larger scope of fantasy football.


The Official Unofficial Blog of the Cavalier Keeper League -- the best fantasy football league on the planet:



I'm not begging for your clicks, just wanted to let you know that if you play fantasy football or follow the NFL in general, you might enjoy the blog.

Up now is a great piece from Paul about the weird dismantling of the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens.  Go check it out.  And enjoy!


March 13, 2013

CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK!

So...

Because I love Championship Week (and hate trees*), I decided to print off the brackets for all 30 conference tournaments and post them on the wall outside my office.  It's become an office-wide "team builder" to meet up every morning and update the brackets and track the results.  HR UPSIDE YO' HEAD!

Proof:



Special thanks to my friend Jon for the pictures.


*And by the way, here's why I hate trees:



March 12, 2013

And then...

...there is THIS.

God bless March Madness.  Long live insanity.

Six Days 'Til Destiny...

In our current status (see right), I am saying "we ARE the bubble."  What that means is that by my precise triangulation, we are either the last team in the Tournament or the first team out of the tournament.

Take a quick look at The Bracket Matrix.  Of the 92 on-line bracketologists they track, Virginia appears in 27 of the brackets.  That's 29%.  Which tells me, we have a shot if Selection Sunday were today.  But since there are more games to play, we have a chance to play our way to firmer footing... or off the bubble completely and into the NIT.

On Friday at approximately 2:30, we'll be playing the winner of NC State/Virginia Tech.  If it's the Wolfpack, it gives us a golden opportunity to notch another RPI top-50 win, on a neutral court, and I think a win puts us into the NCAA Tournament (regardless of what happens Saturday, unless we lose to BC or GT if either of them can slip past Miami.)



The homer in me says that this ACCT sets up extremely favorably for the Hoos, if we can carry our defense from the second half of the Maryland game to Greensboro, and can rediscover our shooting touch -- which might just be contingent on a little rest for some weary legs.  Anyway, NC State is extremely beatable, and I relish, RELISH another crack at Miami (who I will be sorry to see not receive a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament, as I was super excited to see the first-ever 16-seed upset over a 1-seed).

Anyway, we need to leave Greensboro with at least a win over State or Miami (or Duke or UNC if things go really wacky and we play VT and then BC/GT to get to the championship game).

All of that being said, here are the pros and cons of our current résumé:

PROS
  • 21-10 overall record.  20 wins is no longer the gold standard, but this is still a solid record for a power conference team.
  • 11-7 in the ACC.  Unless Virginia Tech did it in one of their spectacular tournament snubs, I can't really remember an ACC team that finished four games above .500 missing the NCAAT.  The committee "doesn't consider that," but still.
  • Joe Harris.  He gained some national acclaim in the win over Duke, a little star power, a little marketability.  The committee says all they care about are blind résumés and fair bracketing, but I call horseshit on that.  Don't be naive.  It behooves them to create good, compelling television, and a rising star like Joe can help us make the cut.
  • 4-2 against the RPI top 50.  No other bubble team can boast the wins we have.  We have the prettiest pelts.
  • 8-3 against the RPI top 100.  This is a number of a 4-, 5-, or 6-seed, not a 12-seed play-in team.
  • Eyeball test.  Yes, we've looked bad at times.  But the times when the eyeballs were really on us - in Madison, against NC State, etc. - we played well.  Nobody saw us choke on the ODU chicken bone, but everyone saw us beat Duke.
  • Some of our bad losses - Wake, Clemson, GT, BC - are not as bad as the RPI indicates.  I think the committee knows that all four of those teams have flashed some impressive play at times, especially at home.  Wake beat Xavier, NC State, and Miami.  Clemson played Gonzaga and Arizona tough, and nearly beat Miami.  Georgia Tech took down Miami.  Boston College nearly sprung upsets over NC State, Miami, and Duke.


CONS
  • Seven bad losses, including four REALLY bad losses and one PUTRID loss.  I could kill Old Dominion right now.  If we had won that game, I think we're talking about a 9- or 10-seed right now, instead of sweating the bubble.
  • 6-4 in our last 10 games, which doesn't look so bad until you consider the fact that we're 4-4 in our last 8.  .500 ball down the stretch doesn't inspire the committee.
  • Trouble away from home.  We're 18-1 at home, and just 3-9 away from the JPJ.  We won't play our NCAAT games in the JPJ.  (The good news is that all of our fellow bubble teams similarly suck away from home.)
  • Style of play.  If I list Joe Harris and his rising star as a pro, I have to list our ugly-to-the-untrained-eye Bennettball system as a con.  Games played in the low 50s are not attractive on TV.
  • Last year's nosedive against Florida.  They aren't supposed to consider previous seasons, but they do.  And we looked really bad in last year's first round game.

Add it all up, and I'm still pretty bullish on our chances.  Like I said, nobody else on the bubble can boast the wins we can.  And ultimately, I think that - plus a decent showing in Greensboro - will put us into the Dance.