March 30, 2014

It's Only the Beginning

Fantastic piece from Matt Norlander at CBS Sports, a must-read for every Hoofan as we work through this weekend of mourning:


I particularly like this quote:
Few certainties exist in college sports, but this I'm comfortable in saying: Bennett is building something to last in Charlottesville. He doesn't do swift and pretty. His program projects reflect the way his teams play: slow, methodical, with purpose -- and without arrogance or presumption.



Meanwhile, Whitey Reid from the Daily Progress pretty much nails the roster overview for next season, here:


Of course, we'll go a little it more in-depth and slice the 200 minute pie, as we do annually here at Wahooze.  That's coming later.  But first, a few quick predictions:
  • Darion Atkins and Teven Jones both transfer out.
  • Bennett brings in a transfer from another program to sit out in 2014-15 and be ready to play in 2015-16.
  • Justin Anderson faces a tough test from Evan Nolte for the right to start at small forward next season, and Nolte wins the battle.
  • Devon Hall ends up being a revelation for us, and we end up going small a lot with Perrantes, Brogdon, Hall, Nolte/Anderson, and Gill on the floor together.
  • B.J. Stith plays more than anyone thinks he will.
  • Mike Tobey finally learns to play with aggression.
  • We'll lose at least one assistant coach this offseason.

Finally, two other good articles for your lazy Sunday afternoon...



Happy reading, Hoofans!  Work through the mourning; we're going to be okay.



March 29, 2014

I'm working on a post...

...ranking the top 10 seasons of Virginia sports since I really became an over-the-top Virginia die-hard in the early/mid 90s.

Specifically, I'm trying to decide where the 2013-14 season of Virginia Basketball fits in those rankings, without being a servant/slave to recency.  (I feel like it's #1, but I need to reflect on it a bit more.)

Here are the seasons I'm considering...


BASKETBALL
1994-95 (Elite Eight run with Junior Burrough)
2000-01 (Roger Mason, Travis Watson, etc.)
2006-07 (Sean Singletary & J.R. Reynolds)
2011-12 (Mike Scott)

FOOTBALL
1995 (UVA 33, FSU 28)
1998 (Aaron Brooks, Thomas Jones, Dex)
2002 (Tire Bowl win over West Virginia)
2007 (Chris Long)
2011 (Peach Bowl loss to Auburn)

BASEBALL
2009 (CWS 5th place)
2011 (Danny Hultzen, CWS 3rd place)

LACROSSE
2006 (Undefeated)
2011 (Unlikely National Championship)



It would really be helpful if you posted in the comments with any great seasons I missed or forgot, along with your thoughts on the seasons I listed above.  What are YOUR rankings?  Help me out, Wahooze Nation.


We love you, Joe and Akil.






Thank you, guys.  We love you, and we're going to miss you.

Great season, Hoos.



March 27, 2014

Wahooze Does Madison Square Garden

Guess where your fearless blogger is heading Wahooze Nation,

Here's a hint.
I was fortunate enough to have enough piles of money laying around (Amtrak points and a friend with a spare couch in Queens) to book the trip to New York City to watch your ACC CHAMPION VIRGINIA CAVALIERS fight their way to a Final Four birth this weekend.

I thought about live-blogging (that's a thing right?) a post throughout the game - but then I thought "what if the service is terrible in MSG?" Then I thought "I could just update one post about my trip and thoughts pre/post game." AND THEN I THOUGHT:


So that's what I'm going to do. Leave comments and I'll chat through those, but hopefully I'll add plenty of updates throughout the weekend here in this post - so keep checking back! To start us off before I head up to Little Charlottesville tomorrow:

7:19 pm Thurs

I am nervous in an excited way, not in a worried about the game way. Don't get me wrong, MSU is playing extremely good basketball recently and we could absolutely wind up losing this game - I've just got a quiet confidence in our ACC CHAMPION team and a little bit of Kendall's "everything from now on is gravy" cooling my stereotypical UVA-fan sense of dread.


6:36 am Fri

I have always hated daylight savings time. I do, on the other hand, love amtrak. 

I'm not surprised Wisconsin won big. This is not the tournament to be swayed by "this team always performs this way."

I am surprised Dayton won so big. Watching that game, it wasn't even as close as the score. 

Arizona and Florida played like 1 seeds. Hope the hoos do the same. 


8:07 am Fri

As you might imagine, there are a lot of boat shoes on this train. 

UVA fans are going to be out in full force tonight at MSG. If not for UConn, there could have been a dominating pro wahoos crowd tonight, but I'm not worried about fan support regardless. Greensboro was about 60% Duke fans and Wahoo fans dominated the noise and enthusiasm all game (though the fact that they were winning probably helped).

I hope UConn wins for a few reasons: UConn's always been my second team (dad is a Huskie). I don't want to play DeAndre Kane. Kevin Ollie is a good coach but he's not Tony Bennett good. 

2:22 pm Fri

The best thing about New York is the food. The worst thing is probably the smell. 

Digger phelps is on the tv talking about how the ACC was down this year. Apparently anytime a non Tobacco Road team wins the conference it's because of a "down year." I think we're looking at many more down years to come in the future. 

Digger also picked MSU to win because of their defense. Seriously.

8:16 Fri

Just found out they aren't selling beer here tonight. I dont understand. I don't know why I didn't know this. I'm really upset. Go Huskies. 

9:23 Fri

UConn looks really good. Not sure I like their fans. That flop in the UT/Michigan game was an embarrassment to the sport

10:54 Fri

Hoos have weathered the storm by taking better shots and forcing worse ones on defense. That's the obvious game plan. Let's keep it up. 

9:38 am Sat

Welp. Lost a tough one. Missed some shots we should have made. Left a few too many open layup/dunks for a really good team. Could've gone either way. Great season.

Hello, Sparty!

No need to reinvent the wheel here.  I'll just piggyback on two other really good game previews.




Here's my take on the game, in quick bulleted form.


  • We're a 1-seed underdog.  Gotta love all of the inherent advantages in that.
  • The Izzo-to-the-Pistons stuff from this week can only help.  Every distraction matters.
  • Adreian Payne is the only Spartan player I really fear, but I have the utmost confidence in Akil's defense.
  • We have to keep Michigan State out of transition.  Force them to score against our set defense, and we have the upper hand.
  • I think it all boils down to this: Joe hits 4+ threes, we win.  Track that number as the game grinds along.

That's it.  I'm eerily confident.  It's all gravy from here, and I think this team - nay, this program - is ready to take this step, to announce itself on the national stage.  We're Virginia, and we have arrived.

Virginia 69, Michigan State 62



DAMMIT, WORK!



I have about forty-eleven posts I want to write, but time has not allowed.

Instead, here are two pretty awesome articles I've stumbled across this week, for your reading pleasure.


It's good of Grantland to atone for that dogshit from last week.  This new one is a really good piece and a great read.  Would recommend.


I have a feeling Coach McKay is going to take over his own program sometime soon, maybe even this offseason.  I hope Tony Bennett is ready to replace an assistant or two.  Not sure McKay can really be replaced.

More soon, as time allows.

March 25, 2014

Gravy



Some anonymous feedback we received yesterday (edited for grammar and spelling):

Oh come on. All you do is bitch about stuff, and now the Hoos are in the Sweet Sixteen! Where's the happy post, Kendall? We know you're happy, but you need to tell us!

Okay, fair enough.

I guess I just kind of feel like happy posts are boring?  Or maybe I've had so few opportunities to write them, I just don't know how to do it?

Nah, that's a cop out.

Whatever.  This post is the happy post.  And believe me, it's not forced.  When Mike Tobey nailed that 3, when Evan Nolte threw down that thunderdunk, the word "happy" didn't do my feelings justice.  At all.

It's euphoria to the point of tearing up.  And I've done it not once, not twice, but FIVE times this season, cried tears of joy over my almighty Hoos.  Those times...


1) Malcolm Brogdon nails the shot against Pitt.


It validated our strong start to conference play, and got me thinking that this team really was going to be something special.


2) Beating [the crap out of] Syracuse to win the ACC regular season title.


The tear came when Joe hit that late 3 to salt away a certain victory.


3) Beating Pitt on Saturday to advance to the Sunday ACC championship game.


Maybe not a "tears of joy" sort of moment, but I was drunk, it was my birthday, and I was in Baltimore, getting ready to go to Medieval Times.  The pump was primed from some waterworks.


4) Of course, beating hated Duke to win the ACC Championship.


For this one, it wasn't just a tight throat and an itchy tear in the corner of my eye.  Instead, I was openly weeping.  Like I had just shaken hands with Jesus Christ himself, or something.



5) This past Sunday night, watching the guys celebrate the "Cavalanche" win over Memphis to secure a Sweet Sixteen berth, and finally make it to Madison Square Garden after two failed attempts last year.



Yeah, I'm happy.  So happy, I'm teflon this week.  Anything bad, *vvvvvwwoooot*, slides right off.

I know Michigan State looms on Friday night, but I'm not nervous or afraid.  I won't be fearwatching, like many (most?) Hoofans tend to do during a big game.  I'm just going to be enjoying the show, watching the best team in at least 19 years of Virginia Basketball take the court to do battle against a tremendously good Michigan State team.

We might be good and lucky enough to win that game, make it to the Elite Eight, beat Iowa State, make it to the Final Four.  We might be good and lucky enough to beat Florida and Arizona and win it all.

All I know is that anything and everything we accomplish from this point forward will just be gravy.  This team has already met and exceeded my expectations, and I have been overjoyed to the point of tears along the way.

I love this fucking team.  I've had the most fun following them that I've ever had as a UVA fan (which includes 1995, 1998, and 2002 football, 1995 and 2007 basketball, the undefeated lacrosse season, and the two baseball trips to Omaha).

Perhaps the most profound joy comes from the fact that it's not a Miami-style flash in the pan.  Joe Harris and Akil Mitchel graduate, but we're still going to be really freaking good.  Preseason top 25, NCAA Tournament lock type good.  And then the next season, 2015-16, might be the best year yet.

Tony Bennett has built a program set to experience sustained long-term success.  National-level, top-4 ACC, Tournament fixture, Sweet Sixteen regular, Final Fours (plural) type success.  We're Wisconsin, fueled by East Coast talent.  We're on a trajectory that arcs higher than I ever thought possible during the Bennettball era (sorry some of the pics have expired in that post).  Tony Bennett is 44, and has found his destination job at Virginia.  UVA will pay him; he's not going anywhere.  This is 2014 Virginia, just like 1983 Duke with a young Coach K.



I realize the weight and gravity of what I just said, how crazy it must sound... but I believe it in my heart to be true, which is why I've cried five times this season.  We've arrived.  Finally, we've arrived.

But for 2014, anything we do beyond making it to the Sweet Sixteen is gravy.

So bring on Sparty, and let's do this thing.  We're the 1-seed underdog, with the young Izzo at the helm.  I like our chances.




March 23, 2014

Hello, Memphuss!

Sorry, can't resist...




Tonight, the rubber hits the road on the "Sweet Sixteen or Bust" decree.  But before any of that, you must stop what you're doing, drop everything, and read the below-linked article -- because Aaron McFarling absolutely nails it.



Seriously, please read that article.  It's fantastic.  So incredibly spot-on that I'm jealous I didn't think to write it myself... while simultaneously aware that the team and all true Hoofans were subconsciously feeling it.

Anyway, tonight against Memphis, the game 1 jitters and 16-1 upset paranoia are gone, replaced by the same muted confidence and joy for the game that powered us to 28 wins prior to the Tournament.

We're good, and we deserve this 1-seed.  Tonight, we'll prove it.



But this post is about Memphis, and I've seen the Tigers play a lot this season, so I have some thoughts on the matchup.

First, you should know that this is not a good matchup for us.  Memphis is like Maryland on steroids.  They have FOUR very good, streaky-shooting, dribble-drive guards -- Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford, Geron Johnson, and Michael Dixon Jr.  Slashers.  And Virginia has at times this season struggled against teams that can break us down off the bounce.

Memphis has two skilled, athletic bigs -- Austin Nichols, and one of the most improved players in the nation, Shaq Goodwin.  Both can at times struggle with fouls.  Memphis is at its best when it can go inside-out, so the onus is on Akil and Gill to win those matchups against Nichols and Goodwin.  Austin Nichols had three different shots rejected by the backboard against GW Friday night, and he played like he was shaken and scared.  I think Akil/Gill are going to eviscerate him tonight.  Shaq Goodwin, I like.  He'll be a challenge.



The Tigers present specific matchup problems for us, and I can count at least 15 teams I would have preferred us to play in the round of 32 (SFA, Dayton, Stanford, Harvard, UNC, Gonzaga, NDSU, SDSU, Baylor, Oregon, St. Louis, Mercer, Texas... okay, that was only 13), but we got this.

They won't have an answer for Anthony Gill, and our guards can at least come close to matching theirs tit for tat. Mike Tobey, Justin Anderson, Akil Mitchell, and to a lesser extent, Joe Harris are all due for bounce-back games. Joe Jackson might be the best overall player on the floor in tonight's game, but we have guys (Brog, JA) who can guard him.


A key to the game for UVA is going to be Anthony Gill's ability to put Nichols and Goodwin in foul trouble.  Every foul for which either of the Memphis bigs gets whistled should be celebrated by UVA fans.

The big 7-foot question mark for us is Mike Tobey.  Will he come out and play aggressively?  Will he find someone to hit when he's boxing out?  Will he slide and move his feet on D, and try to protect the rim?  If he does those things, he could give us a HUGE advantage in the post (and high post).  If he doesn't, we'll be forced to play small, which (imho) plays to Memphis' advantage.  [Unless Evan Nolte has another big game in him!]



Also, I think we have a HUGE advantage when it comes to coaching.  Josh Pastner is a good young coach, but Tony Bennett is one of the nation's best.  Where this will really show is when the teams hit the locker room for halftime adjustments.  Tony kicks ass at that, and Pastner sucks ass at it.  That gives the Hoos a big second half edge.

Ultimately, Memphis is a team with a glass jaw this season. UVA is the exact opposite. That's the main reason I think we'll win.  Joe will come up big, and we'll pull away late.

Virginia 73, Memphis 59


Anyway, here's your chance to read a bit more about Memphis...


From SI.com's college basketball blog, One and One:

Record: 23-9, 12-6 in American Athletic Conference

RPI/SOS: 37/41

Adjusted offense / Adjusted Defense: 110.4 (66th) / 97.8 (53rd)

Seed: No. 8 in East

Impact player: Joe Jackson, senior point guard. 14.3 ppg. 4.5 apg. 1.6 spg.



The Case For:

Few teams can match the depth and experience Memphis boasts in its backcourt. The Tigers have four senior guards (Joe Jackson, Michael Dixon Jr., Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford) who average at least 22 minutes and eight points a game. Dixon, a transfer from Missouri, averages nearly 12 points and has posted a higher offensive rating this season than any of his teammates – yet he’s not a member of the Tigers’ starting lineup. Jackson’s shooting numbers have dipped this season, but he remains one of the better guards in the AAC (to say nothing of the incredible block he had on 7-foot-1 Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski). Memphis has also gotten solid play from forward Shaq Goodwin, who has seen his points (7.4 ppg to 11.8), field goal percentage (46.6 to 58.4) and rebound numbers (4.4 rpg to 6.6) jump from last season.

Before this season, Memphis coach Josh Pastner was 0-12 against ranked teams. He guided the Tigers to a 5-3 record against ranked foes in 2013-14, including wins over Oklahoma State, SMU, Gonzaga and a sweep of Louisville, a trendy pick to make the Final Four. The tougher opponents the Tigers faced in conference play should condition them for the NCAAs.

The Case Against:

Memphis has won just one tourney game in three appearances over the past four seasons under Pastner. In losses to Saint Louis in 2012 and Michigan State in 2013, the latter a 22-point rout, it seemed Pastner was outcoached. When the late Rick Majerus and Tom Izzo made tactical adjustments in those games, Pastner didn’t make the necessary counter-adjustments to put his team in the best position to win. There have been moments this season when Memphis has looked like a top-10 team; the Tigers’ six-point road win at Louisville in January is one example. At other times, Memphis has looked unprepared, overmatched or both. Take, for example, the quarterfinals of the AAC tournament. The Tigers submitted a poor defensive effort, seemingly unable to guard Niels Giffey (24 points, 6-of-8 on threes), and were trucked, 72-53, on their home court. Who’s to say Memphis won’t lay a stinker like that in the NCAA Tourament?



From College Sports Madness:

After taking over the Memphis Tigers in 2009 from the peerless John Calipari, head coach Josh Pastner had been on the steady incline. From 24 wins that first season, the Tigers increased their win total each of the next three years (24 to 25, 26, 31). This season marks a step back for Pastner and Memphis but an expected one. There was no way the Tigers were going to win another 30 games in their first season in the American Athletic Conference. This team still appears to be on track as the downgrade in total wins seems in line with the upgrade in conference talent.

Big Wins: 1/9 at Louisville (73-67), 2/8 Gonzaga (60-54), 3/1 Louisville (72-66)
Bad Losses: 11/19 at Oklahoma State (80-101), 1/16 Connecticut (73-83), 2/27 at Houston (68-77)

Coach: Josh Pastner (5 seasons at Memphis)



Why They Can Surprise:
In what turned out to be a rather loaded AAC, Memphis hung around on the back end of the elite group of teams all season thanks in large part to its guards. Other than Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols, all of the Tigers' top contributors were guards. This also helps explain why Goodwin and Nichols combined for roughly two thirds of the team's total in blocks. The main four set of guards that coach Pastner used were Joe Jackson, Michael Dixon Jr., Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford. The numbers for this quartet were impressive. Each personally grabbed more than one steal per game (as did Goodwin), making Memphis one of the most prolific stealing teams in the nation. The four guards were also responsible for the Tigers being third in the country in assists per game and among the higher scoring teams around at a shade under 79 points per contest. The surprising thing about Memphis though was that, even with guard-heavy lineups, the team still shot very well from the floor. That may be thanks to the guards' proclivity to getting the big men easy buckets in the paint.

Why They Can Disappoint:
Like any smaller roster, such as AAC opponent UConn, the Memphis Tigers often struggled to control the interior. They were not a great rebounding club, nor great at field-goal defense. They could also be prone to turning the ball over themselves, even while forcing a lot of steals on the other end. However, the reason Memphis could easily get bounced by a lesser foe is that the Tigers flounder in categories you wouldn't expect them to: free-throw shooting, where they are one of the worst in the country, and three-point shooting, where they don't take enough or make enough to keep opponents honest. Crawford and Dixon were the team's go-to deep shooters and neither one reached the 40 percent mark from distance this season.

Probable Starters:
Joe Jackson, Senior, Guard, 14.3 ppg, 4.5 apg
Chris Crawford, Senior, Guard, 8.9 ppg, 2.9 apg
Geron Johnson, Senior, Guard, 8.9 ppg, 3.6 apg, 4.9 rpg
Shaq Goodwin, Sophomore, Forward, 11.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.8 bpg
Austin Nichols, Freshman, Forward, 9.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg

Key Roleplayers:
Michael Dixon Jr., Senior, Guard, 11.8 ppg, 2.4 apg
David Pellom, Senior, Forward, 4.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg
Nick King, Freshman, Guard, 4.9 ppg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.4 (30th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.4 (185, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.5 (17, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.1 (149, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.4 (256, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.7 (195, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.5 (311, 8)
Rebound Margin: 2.8 (100, 4)
Assists Per Game: 17.7 (3, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.5 (278, 8)

Recent Postseason Appearances:
2013 NCAA Second Round win over St. Mary's
2013 NCAA Third Round loss to Michigan State
2012 NCAA Second Round loss to St. Louis
2011 NCAA Round of 64 loss to Arizona
2010 NIT First Round win over St. Johns
2010 NIT Second Round loss to Mississippi
2009 NCAA Round of 64 win over Cal State Northridge
2009 NCAA Round of 32 win over Maryland
2009 NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Missouri
2008 NCAA Round of 64 win over Texas Arlington
2008 NCAA Round of 32 win over Mississippi State
2008 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Michigan State
2008 NCAA Regional Final win over Texas
2008 NCAA National Semifinal win over UCLA
2008 NCAA National Final loss to Kansas
2007 NCAA Round of 64 win over North Texas
2007 NCAA Round of 32 win over Nevada
2007 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Texas A&M
2007 NCAA Regional Final loss to Ohio State

Good season for a great, storied program.  The good season ends tonight.

March 22, 2014

Survive and Advance

Like the boa constrictor, slowly crushing her prey, so goes the Virginia basketball team.



I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't nervous (read: terrified) all day; if I said I wasn't positively mortified when we were down 10; if I said I wasn't thinking about stripping naked and wandering out into the woods when were down 5 at the half; if I said I wasn't wondering how bad Drano would really taste when we were tied at 47 with 8 minutes to play...  But we pulled through.  Like we do.  Like we pretty much always do.

Wow, that Coastal Carolina team is the best 16-seed I've ever seen.  No lip service there.  Those guys were quick and determined, and shot lights out in the 1st half.  Anyway, the gulf between 1s and 16s continues to narrow.  Now it's a medium-sized river.  Soon, it'll be a sweet babbling creek.  And then soon after that, a 16 will finally beat a 1.  I'm just glad it's not us, not this year.  (A word whispers sinister across the breeze: Chaaaaaaaaaaaminade.)

Anyhoo.  London played a great game.  6 assists, 0 turnovers, 3-for-4 from deep, and 3-for-3 from the line when he was fouled shooting a 3.

Hockey style, second star of the game goes to Evan Nolte, of course.  Those two 3s were both feckin HUGE.  And the little bunnyhop jumper.  And his defense!  Great job by Evan, and great job by Tony to put Nolte into the game... and keep him there!

And finally, Anthony Gill.  Quietest dunk-tacular awesome 17-point performance ever.  At this point, he's the new Brogdon --- an efficient, reliable, "set it and forget it" double-digit scorer.

I like the idea of a driven Joe and Akil as we move forward, with them looking to atone for not-so-great games in the 1st round. APB out for Mike Tobey, who might have actually stripped naked and wandered out into the woods.  And also for Justin Anderson... I hope it wasn't the Drano.

Survive and advance, Hoos.  Bring on Memphis, now that we can relax off of the 16-1 upset paranoia and just enjoy the Tournament.

Oh, and Duke and VCU lost today.  Great day.

GO HOOS!

March 21, 2014

Friday Fasnacht



Duke just lost to Mercer, which makes me really happy, because... fuck Duke.

I'm a ball of nerves waiting for tonight's game.  Excitement, terror, euphoria, absolute dread, all churned into a spicy-smooth cocktail that burns going down, but makes me feel all warm and toasty, before then coming out as white brown-hot diarrhea.  I'm learning that I hate UVA being a 1-seed.

Anyway, I just remembered a few things that I wanted to share with you guys before we lost our grip on this week, so here's a tasty Friday Fasnacht for you.


You simply have to read this.


Guy's a genius, with brass balls.

He makes me proud to be a UVA fan.

Meanwhile, some hack who writes for Grantland just happened to graduate from UVA, and felt obliged and compelled to give us this steaming pile of feces:


Needless to say, he's not a real Virginia fan.  No legit Hoofan (even a recent bandwagon jumper -- separate post about those people coming soon), would choose to go pick weeds and spread mulch instead of watching us play in our first ACC Championship Game in 20+ years.

Thankfully, this dude from the Cavalier Daily put that bitch squarely in his place.


Well done, Mr. Metzinger.  You give me very specific hope for the future of Hoofans everywhere.


That's it.  We're going to win tonight, guys.  GO HOOS!


March 20, 2014

Bracketdoccio 2014

In what has become a yearly Wahooze tradition (see the 2012 and 2013 versions!), here is my rambling, freewheeling, meandering, profanity-laced list of innuendo for the 2014 NCAA Tournament.  Enjoy!  Or not.  I really don't give a shit.

You should, however, note that using this as guidance for betting is... well... it's stupid.  As in, I have no clue what I'm talking about when it comes to this stuff.  I'm guessing at this just like that bucktooth apple-eating bitch in accounting.  You might as well listen to her over me, except I'm more likely to call her a bitch than she is to not have a post-noon BM in your favorite bathroom.  Which is to say, read this post if you like swear words.  Go talk to her if you like cats.




South Regional

-- Everyone, everyone, everyone likes Florida in the Final Four.  I do too, in much the same way I believe in God; I'm just too scared to cut against the grain.  But if I were to go full-blown atheist, I'd probably pick Syracuse to win four and get to Dallas.  SYRACUSE???  Yeah, Syracuse.  They're getting healthy.  And after shitting the bed in Greensboro and playing just one game, they're rested.  I look for them to return to their form from the first three-quarters of the season, during which time they went undefeated.  Again, I don't really know what I'm talking about, just random musing.



-- Want a trendy vogue upset pick from this part of the bracket?  Go with Western Michigan over Cuse.  Want a stunning upset that'll actually happen, instead?  Dayton over Ohio State.  The Fuckeyes are about as boring as an adult handjob, with Aaron Craft the most cliched good defender in the history of basketball.  I don't know a damn thing about Dayton, but I once heard they can stroke the J... adult handjob style.

-- Okay, so a 11-6 upset isn't upsetty enough for you.  I get it.  You want to take down bigger game, o valiant hunter.  Try Eastern Kentucky over Kansas.

-- Or instead of the crazy hail mary of the EKU pick, why don't you try to actually win your bracket pool instead?

-- Talking heads like New Mexico over Kansas in the 2nd round.  I like the Lobos too, but last year this same team fell apart against Harvard.  I don't see them doing much better this year.  They should be able to beat Stanford, and that'll do it.

-- So in the end, I think this ends up being a very chalky regional.  Florida/UCLA and Kansas/Syracuse in the Elite Eight, with Florida topping the Cuse to go to the Final Four.


East Regional

-- A point that needs to be made: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU WAITING FOR?  Virginia has earned a 1-seed, and all the peripherals point toward the Hoos being a legit national title contender.  So pull out a pen and put 'em through to Dallas.  Chances like this don't come along very often, where you can bet on the Hoos and not look like a total assclown for doing it.  Virginia over Iowa State in the Elite Eight.

... in Madison Square Garden

-- ISU was my Final Four darkhorse this season.  Sadly, they got a 3-seed, which took them out of "darkhorse" status, and then they were plopped into UVA's regional, which took them out of the Final Four.  But these Cyclones are good, folks.  I won't be mad atcha if you put them in your Final Four (you soulless prick).

-- Everybody's all worried about Michigan State.  Yeah, Tom Izzo is basketball Jesus, but the dude doesn't walk on water.  Sparty is beatable, and we're just the team to do it.  So relax.  Put them in the Sweet Sixteen, then have Virginia beating them.

-- I like another 11-6 upset in this part of the bracket, Providence over North Carolina.  Cotton > Paige.  And Roy Williams is a hack...

...and a douche

-- I wonder if any shitbag UNC fans got one of those plaid jackets and wear them to work.  Or to, like weddings and funerals and shit.  Job interviews.  Wait, these are Carolina fans, of course all of that shit happens.

-- Nice shamrock pin, ya feckin' loser.

-- They'll tell you Harvard is going to beat Cincinnati.  Don't believe them.  Cincinnati is going to bodyslam those nerds.

-- Memphis is another darkhorse I really liked before the brackets came out.  Now look.  They get to beat up on GW before we packline them to oblivion.

-- I don't really see anything else compelling here.  There's talk that Shabazz Napier is this year's Kemba Walker (he isn't), and there's talk that Villanova could surprise and make a Final Four run (they won't).  I try not to trust anyone with two Zs in their first name, and I learned the hard way to not put any Tournament expectations on Nova.

-- This regional boils down to the Virginia/Michigan State winner taking on Iowa State.  I give UVA a 33.3333334% chance of advancing.  Sparty gets a 33.33.3333333% chance.  The Cyclones get a 33.3333333% chance, too.  So flip a three-sided coin with a cunthair stuck to the UVA side.



West Regional

-- This is the consensus weakest region.  Maybe so, but any of Zona, Wisky, Creighton, Baylor, Oregon, or OK State could make it to Dallas.  So call it weak if you want... I prefer to say it's wide open.

-- And that wide-openness has been reflected by some of my picks.  I've had brackets with the 6, 7, 9, and 12-seeds in the Sweet Sixteen.  I've also had brackets where the chalk holds, and we get 1-4 in the Sweetness.



-- I will say that I'd be downright pissed if I were an Arizona fan.  Oklahoma State as the 9-seed?  I mean, c'mon.  I know the body of work wasn't stellar or whatever, but that team's highly dangerous.

-- But look, Zona is better than the Pokes.  They just are.  So don't get cute and fall in love with Marcus Smart.  Play it smart (see what I did there?) and pick the Wildcats through to the Elite Eight.

-- North Dakota State-over-Oklahoma is such a trendy upset pick that it'd be the actual upset if the Sooners won.  So curveball it up, pick Oklahoma, and have New Mexico State beat San Diego State!

At least Rebecca Lobo doesn't play for them anymore.

-- It overjoys me to see Gonzaga West Coast Duke facing OK State in the 1st round.  No mercy, Pokes.

-- I kinda think Creighton guns its way to the Final Four out of this regional.  Ethan Wragge is about to go supernova, with all of the triangle-2s focusing on stopping Doug McDermott.

-- I do like Baylor and Oregon, but Wisconsin is damn good this season, so I think we end up with chalk in the bottom part of this bracket.


Midwest Regional

-- This is where I think we're going to see all of the stunning upsets in this tourney.

-- UMass is doomed to failure against Tennessee.

-- I fully expect Jahii Carson and Arizona State to take down Texas.

-- Mercer could give Duke a surprising challenge in the 1st round.

Never forget.

-- Kentucky is another "fuck you 1-seed" team in the 8/9 game... but they might struggle to beat K-State.

-- Saint Louis is ice-cold, but they still have the goods to win a few games.  Dwayne Evans: legit.

-- EVERYBODY likes Louisville coming out of the Midwest.  I certainly like them more than I like Duke or Meatchicken, and it seems inevitable that Wichita is going to lose at some point.  So L'Ville makes sense.  It's boring, but it makes sense.

-- I oddly find myself pulling for Wichita State.  No idea why.  I typically hate vogue mid-majors.

-- Arizona State is going to beat Michigan and go to the Sweet Sixteen.  You heard it here first.  Jahii Carson will be a 2014 Tournament star.

-- If the Wichita State Shockers beat Cal Poly and Kentucky, and then lose to Louisville, is it okay for us to say "two in the pink, one in the stink?"



My Final Four
Florida
Virginia
Creighton
Louisville

My Alternate Final Four
Syracuse
Iowa State
Arizona
Wichita State

Final Four #3
Kansas
Michigan State
Wisconsin
Duke (I guess)

I'm finding that I really like this year's 3-seeds.  That means they're all doomed to failure.

Kendall's All-Regional Teams

SOUTH
PG) Scottie Wilbekin, Florida
SG) Chasson Randle, Stanford
SF) C.J. Fair, Syracuse
PF) Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico
C) Joel Embiid, Kansas

EAST
PG) Bryce Cotton, Providence
SG) Joe Harris, Virginia
SF) Melvin Ejim, Iowa State
PF) Akil Mitchell, Virginia
PF) Adreian Payne, Michigan State

WEST
PG) Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
SG) Nick Johnson, Arizona
SF) Doug McDermott, Creighton
PF) Cory Jefferson, Baylor
C) Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin

MIDWEST
PG) Jahii Carson, Arizona State
SG) Ron Baker, Wichita State
SF) Jabari Parker, Duke
PF) Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee
PF) Montrezl Harrell, Louisville


GO HOOS!

March 19, 2014

Nathan/Kendall Exchange

This is from the comments section of the "Hello, Chanticleers!" post. But I liked what I said in there enough to want it out in the world as a stand-alone post. So here you go...

Nathan:
Was thinking about this game on the drive home today and realized our only emotional options at midnight Friday are relief or devastation.

Kendall:
I think we're allowed to be excited if (when) we beat the ever-living shit out of Coastal Carolina. It's really a great opportunity to make a statement, and send a shot across the bow of the upset-minded GW/Memphis winner. I'll be revved up if we lay waste to the Chanticleers like I know we should. 
But yeah, devastation if we lose. "Devastation" might not even be the right word, as it's not really strong enough. A loss on Friday night would be a huge season-ruining implosion. Maybe even program-ruining. We'd be the laughingstock of the college basketball world, not just now, but forever. Can't happen. Cannot happen. 
Meanwhile, I wonder how many fans of 1-seeds have spent any amount of time worrying about the game against the 16-seed? Oh, the life of a Hoofan.

Hello, Chanticleers!

Nice tie, Cliff Ellis.


We're all thinking it, so I'll just go ahead and say it:
UVA fans are secretly scared shitless about the possibility of being the first-ever 1-seed to lose to a 16-seed.

Given our program's penchant for crippling upset losses (Chaminade), and the fact that Virginia fans have really done nothing but suffer over the course of the last 20 years, the 16-1 upset is a legit concern.

Or, I should say, I thought it was a legit concern... until I started to learn a little bit more about Coastal Carolina.  This team sucks offensively, their bigs are small, and they hemorrhage turnovers (averaging more turnovers than assists this season).

The Chanticleers will be the third-worst offensive team we've faced this season.  The two worse teams were Navy and Hampton, who scored 42 and 40 points against us, respectively.  (That was BEFORE the Tennessee Turnaround, mind you.)



I expect Coastal Carolina to struggle to break the 40-point barrier against us.  Even if they get there, it shouldn't be by much.  So even if we come out and lay a massive egg, we still shouldn't have a problem laying 55 points on these guys and winning by a semi-comfortable 15-point margin.

They play decent defense, but they also haven't faced a team so top-to-bottom stacked as Virginia.  Maybe we'll struggle to score in spots, but over 40 minutes, we'll get ours.

I just don't see our team allowing for a letdown-type game in this spot.  It's back to business, just like in the ACC Tournament.  Coastal Carolina lacks the firepower to scare us.  They are they WORST offensive team in the 68-team NCAA Tournament field in terms of efficiency.  They will not be able handle our defense.

We win by 25+ points, in a comfortable 65-40 type of blowout.  We open our Tournament run by making a statement against a vastly inferior team in front of a partisan audience in the PNC Arena in Raleigh.



But just in case you still have the 16-1 heebie-jeebies, here's a chance to read more about the Chanticleers...



From SI.com's college basketball blog, One and One:

Record: 21-12, 11-5 in Big South Conference

RPI/SOS: 189/290

Adjusted offense / Adjusted defense: 97.3 (298th) / 102.5 (125th)

Seed: No. 16 in East

Impact player: Warren Gillis, 14.8 ppg, 3.2 apg, 1.6 spg, 46.2 FG%, 85.2 FT%



The Case For:

The Chanticleers won the Big South after cruising to a 76-61 win over NCAA tournament regular Winthrop in the conference championship game to earn the program’s first bid since 1993. Coach Cliff Ellis has tournament experience, having previously led South Alabama, Clemson and Auburn to the Big Dance. Coastal Carolina was tops in the Big South in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing conference teams to shoot 46.4 percent from two-point range and 33.8 percent from 3. Their perimeter trio of Gillis, leading scorer Elijah Wilson and Josh Cameron keys the team on both sides of the court, combining for 45 points and 3.6 steals per game.

The Case Against:

Coastal Carolina lost five times in a conference that ranked 29th out of 32 on KenPom this season and was not even the best team in that league. It is among the least efficient offensive teams in the country, scoring just 97.3 points per 100 possessions and shooting a paltry 43.4 percent from the field. A 16 hasn’t ever upset a No. 1, and it’s hard to imagine the Chanticleers being the team to break that streak. Getting back to the dance for the first time in 21 years is worth celebrating, but it will likely be a short stay.

SI prediction: Lose to Virginia in second first round



From College Sports Madness:

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Big South (21-12, 11-5)

The third time was the charm for Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers faced Winthrop twice during the regular season, losing in overtime by one at home and falling by ten on the road. But when those two teams met again in the Big South tournament final, it was all Coastal Carolina.

Big Wins: 11/23 St. Francis Brooklyn (70-59), 1/15 North Carolina-Asheville (81-78), 3/9 vs Winthrop (76-61)

Bad Losses: 12/30 South Carolina State (58-68), 1/8 at Charleston Southern (58-70), 2/22 at North Carolina-Asheville (85-100)

Coach: Cliff Ellis (7 seasons at Coastal Carolina)

Why They Can Surprise:

Coach Cliff Ellis has a productive rotation of big men that are always strong on the glass. El Hadji Ndieguene, a 6-10 senior, leads the way on the glass with 6.9 rebounds per game. His offense is limited, but having that big body in the paint does help open things up offensively. Badou Diagne is just about as effective on the glass and is the Chanticleers best scoring threat among the forwards. When those two need a rest, Michel Enanga and Uros Ljeskovic can step in without much drop in production. The scorers on the team are in the backcourt. The starting trio of Elijah Wilson, Warren Gillis and Josh Cameron account for 45 of the team’s 72.7 points per game.

 Why They Can Disappoint:

Gillis and Cameron are great scorers and do spend a lot of time with the ball in their hands, but it is their job to keep the turnovers down. And they have failed to do so on a consistent basis. Coastal Carolina ranks 307th in the country with 14.1 turnovers per game and that has to change if the Chanticleers want to make any noise in the NCAA Tournament. The backcourt trio will also need to take smart shots and knock down some three-pointers. The Chanticleers as a whole connect on just one-third of their attempts from beyond the arc. Gillis and Cameron are much better shooters than that and the hope is Wilson can get hot at the right time. However, that does not appear too promising after he went 3-for-16 from beyond the arc in the three Big South tournament contests.

Probable Starters:

Warren Gillis, Junior, Guard, 14.8 ppg, 3.2 apg

Josh Cameron, Junior, Guard, 14.1 ppg, 2.5 apg

Elijah Wilson, Freshman, Guard, 16.1 ppg

Badou Diagne, Sophomore, Forward, 7.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg

El Hadji Ndieguene, Senior, Center, 4.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg

Key Roleplayers:

Michel Enanga, Sophomore, Forward, 5.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg

Uros Ljeskovic, Sophomore, Forward, 3.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg

Colton Ray-St Cyr, Freshman, Guard, 3.9 ppg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 72.7 (124th in nation, 7th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 68.4 (128, 1)

Field-Goal Percentage: 43.8 (200, 12)

Field-Goal Defense: 40.0 (27, 1)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.2 (174, 6)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.3 (208, 11)

Free-Throw Percentage: 69.4 (188, 9)

Rebound Margin: 4.9 (37, 2)

Assists Per Game: 10.6 (311, 12)

Turnovers Per Game: 14.1 (307, 12)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2012 CIT First Round loss to Old Dominion

2011 NIT First Round loss to Alabama

2010 NIT First Round loss to UAB

1993 NCAA Round of 64 loss to Michigan

1991 NCAA Round of 64 loss to Indiana

Nice season, Chanticleers!  It ends on Friday night.


March 17, 2014

I finally found it!

A media source NOT picking Michigan State to go to the Final Four!

Pete Thamel, SI.com (in their Tournament Preview piece):

It's hard to keep doubting Virginia. When the Cavaliers won the ACC, people pointed to the unbalanced schedule and their struggles early in the season. But after elbowing its way through the ACC tournament this weekend, UVa. looks every bit the part of a No. 1 seed.

The myth of the Cavaliers is that they are a rugged defensive team that struggles on offense. The reality is that they are the country's No. 28 offensive team on KenPom.com when adjusted for tempo. Redshirt sophomore wing Malcolm Brogdon (12.3 pgg) and senior sniper Joe Harris (11.6 ppg) lead a balanced attack. The perpetual motion of Virginia's offense, filled with a variety of screens, also wears out teams. And its offensive sets often end with clean looks toward the end of the shot clock, when teams get caught napping.

The low-scoring style may offer temptation to pick against the Cavaliers, as might their early loss to Green Bay and an 87-52 shellacking at Tennessee. However, Virginia's offense found itself during the ACC regular season and postseason, and only Florida and Wichita State have been more impressive since New Year's.

A healthy Michigan State has always loomed this season as a Final Four no-brainer, but the Cavaliers can beat the Spartans at their own sharp-elbowed game. Virginia will make it to Dallas.


Thoughts on Virginia's Draw

In 6:30 AM, stream-of-consciousness style.  It's a list, and it's numbered, but the order is inconsequential.

1) I'm proud to get a 1-seed.  Really proud.  And excited.  It's an honor!  And a statement that we've "arrived" as a program.



2) Saw a graphic on ESPN that other than Duke and UNC, we have earned the most 1-seeds in ACC history (as members of the ACC).  We have... four, I think?  I think this is the fourth.  Maryland had one.  Wake had one.  And that's it.  So that's pretty cool.

3) Holy shit, the NCAA Tournament page on Wiki is pretty damn awesome.

4) HERE's a nice bracket you can print at home (read: work) and use for tracking the tournament (read: gambling).  Don't feel guilty picking Michigan State to beat UVA in the Sweet Sixteen.  It's never a good idea to bet on the Hoos.


5) Okay, let's talk about Michigan State.  None of the talking heads seem to think we have a chance against them.  In fact, I'd say the pulse of discourse has the Spartans positioned as maybe the 3rd or 4th most popular team to win it all.  Florida is #1, red-hot Louisville is up there somewhere, and Arizona.

6) Vegas has Florida as the clear favorite, laying 4-1 odds.  Michigan State is #2, at 9-2.  Here's the list:

1 Florida 4-1
2 Michigan State 9-2
3 Arizona 6-1
4 Kansas 8-1

~~~ 5-way tie at 5th ~~~
Wichita State 15-1
Virginia 15-1
Duke 15-1
Syracuse 15-1
Louisville 15-1

10 Wisconsin 20-1
11 Michigan 25-1
11 Villanova 25-1
11 Creighton 25-1
14 Iowa State 35-1
14 UCLA 35-1
16 Kentucky 40-1 (pretty good for an 8-seed)
17 North Carolina 50-1

We'll go ahead and stop there.

7) So yeah, Michigan State looms as a very tough potential opponent in the Sweet Sixteen.


8) To Get to the Sweet Sixteen, we have to win two games this coming weekend.  The first, against Coastal Carolina, looks like a favorable matchup for the Hoos.  The Chanticleers average more turnovers (14) than assists (11) per game, they shoot a pedestrian 33% from deep, and their bigs run about 6-6 / 6-7 (we'll have a huge size advantage).  They beat nobody of note, and got destroyed by Clemson, 69-40.  I'd equate them to a slightly-better Radford or Liberty, teams we beat by 20+ points BEFORE the "Tennessee Turnaround."

9) Once we get past Coastal Carolina, I'm sure Memphis will await.  They face George Washington in the 1st round, and I'm certain they'll crush the Coloniels.

10) Memphis is one of the teams I was really hoping we'd be able to avoid in the Big Dance.  Like I said last week...

Those guards are numerous, and all good as shit, and all thrive on the dribble-drive. We thought Seth Allen and Dez Wells were rough? Joe Jackson, Michael Dixon, Geron Johnson, and Chris Crawford are otherworldly as slasher-style scorers. This might be Virginia's nightmare matchup in the entire Tournament field...


11) So yeah, I think we got a tough draw.  "Sweet Sixteen or bust" requires a win over the Tigers, so we better nut up for them.  The performances in the ACC Tournament were encouraging... to say the least.  ACC regular season and tournament champions should have no trouble with the 4th place team from the American Athletic conference.  However, I equate Memphis in quality to Pitt, and as we know, those were two tough wins for us to earn.  Plus, Memphis poses very specific matchup problems for us.

12) Other teams' draws that I'm jealous of: Florida, Kansas, and Duke.

13) Other teams' draws that I do not envy: Arizona (Oklahoma St. in the 2nd round), Wichita State (Kentucky in the 2nd round, L'Ville in the S16), Villanova (UConn, then Iowa State, then us or Michigan State).

14) Looking at the big picture, I'd say we got a middle-of-the-road draw.  Michigan State is a big boulder, but we got arguably the softest 8/9 matchup any 1-seed will face in the 2nd round.

15) You might be tempted to think "we're the 1-seed, we should be able to flex nuts all the way to the Final Four," but make absolutely no mistake ---  if/when we face Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen, we will be the underdog.

16) If we somehow get past the Spartans, I fully expect to see Iowa State in the Elite Eight.  It's another terrible matchup for us.  So if we do go on the miracle run to the Final Four, it truly will be a miracle.

17) I'm so freaking excited right now.  What an awesome season, and an awesome bracket to finish it off!

18) We need Joe to go en fuego in this Tournament.  We need Brog to keep being Brog.  We need Akil to keep being Akil.  We need Anthony Gill to continue his storm surge.  We need London Perrantes to keep hunting his own shot.  We need Mike Tobey to find his offense and his sense of aggression.  We need Justin Anderson to make a bunch of Justin plays.  We've got the kind of team that can win its regional and advance to the Final Four... now we just need to get it done.

19) GO HOOS!