The 2010 Hardest NCAAB Region Debate… A Midwest Nightmare

March 19, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Sports Geek.

What did I tell you?! The March Madness tournament this year will be a) one of the most competitive we have ever seen, and b) LOADED with upset potential.

Day One did not disappoint! Congratulations to Old Dominion, Murray State, Ohio, Washington, and St. Mary’s for pulling off very exciting (and very entertaining) upsets yesterday, and for screwing up a lot of brackets around the country!

Speaking of screw-ups, the Big East had a TERRIBLE showing yesterday. In four games during the first day of competition, the Big East was LUCKY to finish at 1-3, with Notre Dame, Marquette, and Georgetown on the losing end of MAJOR upsets while Villanova was fortunate to escape with their tournament lives in order to avoid a sweep!

Now that the alleged depth of the Big East has once again been exposed for what it really is – overblown hype from having too many teams in the conference – we can move forward and take a look at which region is shaping up to be the toughest of the tournament.

Even with the early departure of the Georgetown Hoyas at the hands of a “lowly” mid-major MAC team (in case you haven’t learned yet, I am a supporter of the mid-major programs), the toughest region of the tournament is the Midwest.

To start with, the Midwest Region features the Kansas Jayhawks, who entered the tournament as the top team in the country. That fact alone means that 15 out of the 16 teams in that region would have go through the best team in the country just make it out of the region and into the Final Four!

Beyond the strength of the top seed in this region the Midwest is stocked with some of the strongest teams in the tournament.

Sitting opposite Kansas in the bracket is the Ohio State Buckeyes, who are led by the favorite for the NCAA Player of the Year award, Evan Turner. The Buckeyes, fresh off of claiming the Big Ten championship, were among the teams being tossed around as possible one seeds for the tournament, and have been playing some of the best basketball in the country over the last two months of the season.

Traveling further down the region, the road doesn’t get any easier. Sitting in the fourth position in the region is the second place team out of the ACC – Maryland. In a year where the overall performance of the ACC has been down, Maryland has been one of the two teams within that conference that still played exceptionally well this season, even defeating Duke earlier this month.

After Maryland comes fifth-seeded Michigan State. Although the Spartans struggled against many of the highly ranked teams they faced throughout the 2010 season, they are led by arguably the greatest tournament coach of the last decade in Tom Izzo (Editor’s note: Stay tuned next week for that debate). Under Izzo’s leadership the Spartans are now entering their THIRTEENTH consecutive NCAA appearance. During that run of thirteen straight NCAA Tournament berths, Izzo has reached the Sweet Sixteen EIGHT different times, has been to the Elite Eight SIX times, has FIVE different Final Four appearances, and has been to the championship game twice (WINNING the title in 2000)! If anyone knows how to “dance” it is Izzo.

If that is not tough enough, consider that some of the double-digit seeds in this region are capable of some very impressive feats! Entering the region as the ten seed, Georgia Tech showed during the ACC Tournament that they are capable of playing with and beating many of the top teams in the nation (including a victory over the aforementioned Maryland Terrapins). Then at 14 sits the Ohio Bobcats who already have proven they will run with anybody after they SMOKED Georgetown on Thursday by a score of 97-83.

We learned yesterday that there is no such thing as a free ride in the NCAA Tournament for 2010, and in no region is that more evident than in the Midwest. From top to bottom, the strongest caliber of teams at each level are represented in this corner of the bracket, and the team that ultimately does emerge victorious from this gauntlet will have tested and proven their mettle against the very best that March Madness has to offer!

My Zimbio Blog Directory Sport Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add us to your technorati favorites Digg! Bookmark and Share

The Best Game of THIS weekend Debate – A Statement Game Looms for Ole Miss

October 9, 2009

Read Sports Geek’s argument and Bleacher Fan’s argument on what they think is the best game of THIS weekend.

It is finally Friday. For some of us it is a long weekend with Monday being Columbus Day! I am sure Sports Geek and Bleacher Fan have to work on Monday, so pick on them if you have Monday off! As for this weekend, I will be at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee to watch a live soap opera unfold before my eyes when the much maligned Florida State Seminoles welcome the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech to town. We all know that Florida-LSU is THE game of the week. It is too obvious, though, so we are all are staying away from it. Outside of that game, I think that the best game of THIS weekend will take place in Oxford, Mississippi when the Alabama Crimson Tide take on the Mississippi Rebels.

A quick look at the SEC standings show the Tide with a 2-0 record in conference (a half-game behind 3-0 LSU) while Ole Miss stands at 1-1, with the loss coming 15 days ago against South Carolina.

I must say that the Crimson Tide have totally surprised me. I thought they would struggle. Granted, the only ranked team it has played to this point is Virginia Tech, but, the Tide have looked impressive – even downright dominant – at times. Even though the Tide are ranked third, I think it is possible to say they are being overlooked a little on the national level. I think we all know which team gets all the headlines in the Southeastern Conference. Tide quarterback Greg McElroy, in quite a shock to Loyal Homer, could actually end up being an upgrade over John Parker Wilson. And on defense, the team is still anchored by one of my favorite college players, Terrence “Mount” Cody.

Ole Miss comes into the game on the heels of a 23-7 victory over Vanderbilt. Do not laugh! It is not uncommon for teams to struggle on road trips to Nashville. Still, what lingers in the mind of most of the country is a pitiful performance in Columbia against the Gamecocks in a nationally televised Thursday night game. Ole Miss does not get on national television much, and it is fair to say the team laid the proverbial egg that night. Quarterback Jevon Snead, for all the preseason hype he had coming in, has been a bust to this point. This game is a chance for Ole Miss to get back on the national radar and climb back into the SEC West. It is a must win for the Rebels if they are entertaining any thoughts of an SEC championship. And believe me, that was the goal coming into the season.

With games still against LSU and Auburn, this is a big game for both the Rebels and the Tide. The SEC West is shaping up to be the best division in all of football, with LSU, Auburn, Alabama, and Ole Miss combining for only one loss at this point. The winner of the battle in Oxford ends up with a leg up on the rest of the division. The loser – especially if it is Ole Miss – faces a steep uphill climb to make it to Atlanta in December!

My Zimbio Blog Directory Sport Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add us to your technorati favorites Digg!

The Psychology of the Pre-Season Poll Debate – Don’t Predict the Future

July 30, 2009

Read the debate intro and Sports Geek’s argument that pre-season polls should be constructed with the end of the season in mind.

Guys and gals, when we starting talking about pre-season polls, you know college football season is approaching.

Bleacher Fan poses an interesting question for us. Basically, I must get into the mind of a college football pollster and decide what the best mind frame is when constructing a pre-season poll. Should a pollster vote with the end of the season in mind, or should they vote based on how good they think a team will be at the beginning of the season? Without a doubt, the pollster should vote based on the beginning of the season.

Bleacher Fan alluded to this in the intro, but I want to take it a step further. Georgia was the pre-season number one team last year, and with good reason. They returned pre-season Heisman contenders in quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Knoshown Moreno. Georgia ended the previous season by whipping a hapless Hawaii team 41-10 in the Sugar Bowl. Coming off the season they had in 2007, Georgia deserved to be ranked number one during the pre-season. The consensus was that it would be extremely difficult for Georgia to finish the season as champions. When prognosticators were giving their BCS Championship predictions last July, Georgia was rarely mentioned. Why, you ask? Because the schedule was absolutely daunting! Road trips to South Carolina, Arizona State, LSU, and Auburn added to home games against Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia Tech. Not to mention the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party down in Jacksonville against the mighty Florida Gators (politically correct or not, that’s what everyone in the South still calls it). That still leaves out a possible SEC championship game. Looking at that schedule before the season, most folks outside of Athens – and even some of in Athens – agreed that it was going to be extremely difficult to finish number one. But, going into the season, based on how they finished the previous season and who they had returning, Georgia was a very deserving number one in the pre-season.

As Bleacher Fan said, circumstances often come up that change how the best football team is determined, or even how a mid-level team is perceived. Maybe injuries pop up. Maybe the quarterback gets kicked off the team for not “earning” his money at his “job” (see Rhett Bomar). Maybe a star player gets a DUI and his playing status is thrown into question (see Mississippi State running back Anthony Dixon). These things are absolutely impossible to predict. There’s just no way. If a pollster really knows for certain who is going to be number one at the end of the season, please send them to my home. I’d love to have a chat with them. I’ll even give them a dollar to go buy me a lottery ticket. As my father likes to say, “I don’t have to win the lottery but one time, you know!

I also like to know that if my team finishes the previous season well, I’ve got a pretty good chance to see them in the pre-season rankings. It seems like every year Clemson would be ranked in the pre-season thanks to a strong late season push. But, that would be followed by a mediocre start to the next season (sorry, Sports Geek!). At least they had the pre-season polls to look forward to every year.

The bottom line is that pollsters should vote based on the here and now. They can’t read into the future, no matter how smart they think they are. There’s no sense in even trying!

My Zimbio Blog Directory Sport Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add us to your technorati favorites Digg!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.