2014 CTC Day Fourteen: Chris Wins the Final Day, but the Spotlight Falls on Stritts Who Ends a Dominating Rookie Campaign with an Overall Victory

While Chris takes the Day Fourteen honors, as the only one to hit Michigan State, Virginia, and Florida, Stritts takes home the overall title with a record-breaking performance of more than 3,200 points.  Stri finishes a distant 2nd with Teddy a personal-best 3rd place, and GrossJr taking 4th (and 2nd in the Money Division).  Chris’s big day cracks him a Top 5 finish in his rookie campaign.

GrossSr was the biggest upward mover on the final day, gaining 4 spots to a 6th-place finish.  Teddy gained 3 spots to 3rd.  Chris picked up 2 spots to reach the top 5, while Lynch picked up 2 and cracked the top 20.

There were only 3 people in the entire field that had a champion alive in all five of Sunday’s games.  One was Becks, who did okay, hitting Michigan State and Florida for a 160-point day.  The other two were Bry and Lohse, who both went 0-FOR-5!  The huge 0’fer cost Bry a shot at the overall title and cost Lohse a chance to get out of the basement.  (Man, I wish I had placed a 5-team parlay against my picks today.)  Bry took the biggest drop on the day, slipping 5 spots to 8th.  Mac, who only hit Florida on the day, lost 3 spots to 7th, as his title hopes went up in smoke over the final two days.  Caleb, Dave, and Colton all lost 2 spots on the day.  Colton went from 2nd to 23rd in a matter of about 54 hours.

There were 5 more titles handed out on the day – I’ll recap the individual conferences sometime soon (when I get the energy).  All in all, it was another great and successful CTC.  Thanks to everyone for participating and congrats to Stritts – our overall champ!

DAY FOURTEEN SCORES:

  1. Chris – 220
  2. Teddy – 210
  3. Becks – 160
  4. Gersh – 160
  5. GrossJr – 160
  6. GrossSr – 160
  7. Lynch – 160
  8. PapaCim – 160
  9. Stritts – 160
  10. WaTers – 160
  11. Stri – 120
  12. Doogan – 110
  13. RDoc – 110
  14. Alexi – 60
  15. Caleb – 60
  16. J – 60
  17. Lazarow – 60
  18. Mac – 60
  19. Primm – 60
  20. Scoot – 60
  21. Stumpf – 60
  22. Bry – 0
  23. Colton – 0
  24. Dave – 0
  25. Lohse – 0

FINAL OVERALL STANDINGS:

  1. *Stritts – 3289
  2. Stri – 3168
  3. Teddy – 3138.5
  4. *GrossJr – 3112
  5. *Chris – 3102
  6. *GrossSr – 3012.5
  7. Mac – 3015.5
  8. *Bry – 2963.5
  9. Alexi – 2940.5
  10. *J – 2926
  11. *Doogan – 2883
  12. *Gersh – 2872
  13. *Becks – 2850.5
  14. PapaCim – 2850
  15. Caleb – 2757
  16. *Stumpf – 2679.5
  17. Scoot – 2664.5
  18. Dave – 2661
  19. *RDoc – 2654
  20. Lynch – 2627.5
  21. *Primm – 2596.5
  22. WaTers – 2587
  23. Colton – 2492.5
  24. Lazarow – 2327
  25. Lohse – 2284.5

2014 CTC: The Big Ten (3/16)

It was a strange(-ly awesome) year in the BiG this year.  First of all, I have to point out to all the people that are tired of this being the best league in the country and are trying to boost up the Big XII – that’s cute and all, but it’s just no true and it’s not really that close.  I am not a Big Ten lover.  I didn’t go to Penn State or root for Maize and Blue or even worship at the altar of Izzo.  I actually never really like the Big Ten growing up because the style of play was rough and slow and the teams weren’t good enough to make that style incredibly watchable.  But, in recent years, this conference has proven time and time again that it is THE premier conference in college basketball.  Look at this year as a perfect example of why it’s the best.  Michigan State is ravaged by injuries.  Ohio State has an incredibly down year.  Michigan loses its best player for the season.  Wisconsin loses three in a row at one point.  Purdue, Indiana, and Illinois are all down and in serious rebuilds.  And, what conference is STILL the best?  The Big Ten.  I know that this league hasn’t won since 2000 (which is shocking to me), but there is no doubt, in my mind at least, that this has – by any objective measure – by clearly the best conference in the country for at least 3-4 years now.  And, 2014 has been no different.  This tournament should insanely interesting with the champion having certainly earned it.

The majority of the field went with either Wisconsin or Michigan State as their Big Ten champ, so if they meet in the semifinals, it will be huge.  5 of the top 6 seeds were pegged as champions with only #4 Nebraska getting no support.  Only 3 people took top-seeded Michigan.  Not a lot of sleepers, though a lot of people like Iowa and Ohio State to go further than their seeds say they should.  Gersh and Stri split the 2012 title and since our 2013 champ didn’t enter this year, they are the de facto defending champs.  Bry won the Big Ten in the first two years and remains the only one with multiple titles in this conference.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 16th – 60 points)

#1 Michigan vs #3 Michigan State
Much like the ACC final, the Big Ten finale pits the regular season champ versus the consensus preseason pick to win the league.  The Wolverines came out of nowhere to win the Big Ten by 3 full games over Wisconsin and MSU.  But, I think it’s safe to say that things might be slightly – or totally – different if the Spartans had stayed healthy all year.  And, they looked pretty spry in their impressive win over Wisconsin in the semis.  Michigan has looked really shaky this week, barely surviving Illinois in the quarters and then squeaking by Ohio State in the semis. Do they have one more bullet in the holster for their dear old rivals?

Bry, Lohse, and RDoc are the only 3 with Michigan here.  10 people (Becks, Chris, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, Lynch, PapaCim, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers) have Sparty.  GrossSr and PapaCim have locked up the 2014 Big Ten title regardless of Sunday’s outcome.

SEMIFINALS (March 15th – 40 points each)

#1 Michigan vs #5 Ohio State
Not sure if these two teams ever play in any other sport, but it’s always nice to see the state universities of these two neighbor states engage in a friendly sporting endeavor.  Both teams are somewhat lucky to even be in this game, as Michigan needed a last-second bucket to beat Illinois in the quarters, and Ohio State barely survived a pair of games – first, a 2-point win over Purdue in the opening round, then erasing an 18-point second half deficit against Nebraska in the quarters.

8 people (Alexi, Beks, Dave, Gersh, Lynch, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers) have Ohio State in this one, with Alexi and Dave picking the Buckeyes to win it all.  Lazarow has already lost this game with Nebraska.  The other 16 all have Michigan, though only Bry, Lohse, and RDoc have the Wolverines winning this tourney.

#2 Wisconsin vs #3 Michigan State
Wisconsin looked really, really good against Minnesota in the quarters.  Michigan State took care of business against Northwestern.  Now, we have a Final Four caliber game in the Big Ten semifinals.  These two only played once in the regular season – at the Kohl Center in Madison – and it was a hard-fought 2-point win for the Badgers.  But, MSU was missing both Brandon Dawson and Keith Appling.  This should be really, really good.

11 people (Alexi, Becks, Chris, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, Lynch, PapaCim, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers) have the Spartans.  Doogan and Lohse have already lost this game.  The other 12 all have Wisconsin, including 9 (Caleb, Colton, J, Lazarow, Mac, Primm, Scoot, Stri, Stumpf) with the Badgers winning the tournament.  10 people actually have MSU winning this whole thing (everyone who has them winning here except Alexi).  Needless to say, this game is a BIG DEAL for the CTC.

QUARTERFINALS (March 14th – 20 points each)

#1 Michigan vs #9 Illinois
Possibly the most underrated coaching job of 2013-14 is the one done – AGAIN – by John Beilein in Ann Arbor.  Can we finally put him in the discussion with the best coaches in the country?  He just flat-out wins everywhere he goes.  Last year, he took a young team to the championship game, and this year, he loses his backcourt to the NBA and his best player to a back injury, and still wins the best conference in America by THREE FULL GAMES.  We should also be talking about Nick Stauskas as a potential Big Ten POY and the Wolverines as a possible 1-seed.  That is amazing after losing Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway, and Mitch McGary.  Walkon Spike Albrecht (who, despite his ridiculous heroics in the title game, was a walkon for a reason) is even playing major minutes for this team.  And, let me repeat – they won the best conference in the country by three whole games.  They open their Big Ten tournament against an Illinois team that is very dangerous and handled Indiana on Thursday.

All 25 entries have Michigan winning this one, but only Bry, Lohse, and RDoc have the Wolverines taking the Big Ten title on Sunday.

Michigan 64 – Illinois 63

#4 Nebraska vs #5 Ohio State
This is the one.  The one the Cornhuskers need to complete their case for inclusion in the field.  Nebraska has made incredible strides this year – after opening their shiny new building – and want to finish the season off right, with their first trip to the Dance in quite some time.  Terran Petteway has emerged as a go-to guy for the ‘Huskers on the offensive end, but the main improvements they have made this year have come on the defensive side of the ball.  They are a fantastic defensive team who finishes possessions by limiting offensive rebounds.  Their quarterfinal opponent, Ohio State, is seriously deficient offensively, so this could be a real struggle for the Buckeyes, who lost in Lincoln in late-January – the game that was the start of the turnaround for Nebraska.  The teams also played on Jan 4, when Ohio State was in the Top 5 in the country (man, that seems like a long time ago), and the Buckeyes annihilated the ‘Huskers 84-53 in Columbus.

Only 5 people (Bry, Caleb, Chris, Doogan, Lazarow) took Nebraska here.  The other 20 all have OSU, including Alexi and Dave, who have them winning this tournament.  6 others (Becks, Gersh, Lynch, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers) all have the Buckeyes reaching the finals.

Ohio State 71 – Nebraska 67

#2 Wisconsin vs #7 Minnesota
The Gophers avoided a probable bubble-bursting loss Thursday night with a comeback win over Penn State.  Now, they have a chance to get off the bubble – in the right direction – on Friday if they can take down potential #1-seed in the Dance, Wisconsin.  Can we quick talk – as I like to any chance I get – about just how great Bo Ryan is.  Bo has been at Wisconsin for 12 years now.  He has been in the top 4 of the Big Ten (the best conference in basketball for much of that time) 12 times.  That’s right, Bo Ryan’s Badgers have never been lower than 4th place in the Big Ten regular season.  That would be impressive at any school, let alone at Wisconsin.  And, there are many who think (myself included) that this year’s version might be Bo’s best team ever.  Aside from a strange dip in late January, where they lost 5 of 6, the Badgers are 24-1, including wins over Florida, Saint Louis, Virginia (in the ugliest game ever played), Iowa (2x), Michigan State, and Michigan.  He’s got at least 4 guys (usually all 5) that are dead-eye shooters on the court at all times, and he’s got a 7-footer that dropped 43 (including 6-6 from 3-point range) against North Dakota earlier this year.  This Wisconsin team is so tough and will be a really tough out in any tournament they participate in.

Teddy is all alone on Minnesota here, hoping for a free 70 points on the field.  The other 24 all have the Badgers, including 9 people (Caleb, Colton, J, Lazarow, Mac, Primm, Scoot, Stri, Stumpf) that have the Badgers taking this title.  Bry and Dave are the only two that have them going to the finals and losing.

Wisconsin 83 – Minnesota 57

#3 Michigan State vs #11 Northwestern
And, the final entry to the Big Ten tournament this year is that team from East Lansing.  That team of the walking wounded.  Another fascinating stat about the greatness of a coach can be told here – no player that has played four years for Tom Izzo has ever left Michigan State without a trip to the Final Four.  But, that amazing statistic is actually on the line this year.  And, wouldn’t it be ironic if the class that breaks it is consists of Adrien Payne and Keith Appling?  Those two are fantastic and, yet, they are in danger of being the first two Spartans to play 4 years with a trip to the Final Four.  But, there are reasons why these stats exist, and, when healthy, this team is one of the best bets to make the Final Four and keep it going.  The big question that remains is:  are they healthy?  They are all back on the court, but are they healthy?  That remains to be seen.  The first team to test them was supposed to be a good, deep Iowa team that would run, run, and run.  That would have been a real test for a team that hasn’t played much together this year.  But, instead they get a NW team that likes to go slow, slow, and slower.  The Wildcats knocked off Iowa in the nightcap of Thursday’s festivities and now get a crack at Izzo and company.

7 people (Bry, Dave, Doogan, Lazarow, Lohse, RDoc, Scoot) have already lost this game with Iowa.  The other 18 have the Spartans, including 10 (Becks, Chris, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, Lynch, PapaCim, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers) with them as their champs.  Alexi is the only one that has them in the finals without picking them to win it.

Michigan State 67 – Northwestern 51

OPENING ROUND (March 13th – 10 points each)

#8 Indiana vs #9 Illinois
The tipoff of the 2014 Big Ten tournament is between two teams that are too talented to be in the position of mere spoiler of “bid thief.”  But, that is the case for both UI and IU.  John Groce better get it together in Champaign, as Bruce Weber continues to shine in Manhattan, KS.  They Illini only have one senior of significance, and they were spectacular down the stretch, as they finished with a crazy 5-game stretch (@Min, Neb, @MichSt, Mich, @Iowa) in which they went an astonishing 4-1.  I’m not sure I would pick any team in the country to go 4-1 over that stretch, especially not a team that won ONE game (against Penn State) between Jan 5 and Feb 18.  But, tournaments like this are about who you can beat and Illinois has proven all year that they can beat anyone.  As for the Hoosiers, I am not sure why Tom Crean (who I think is a terrific coach) is getting a total pass on this season.  They have no chance at an at-large bid, despite one of the best freshmen in the country (Noah Vonleigh), a solid, if not spectacular, PG (Yogi Ferrell), and an experienced role player who can do a lot of things on both ends (Will Sheehey).  Is it because there just isn’t much other talent?  Well, doesn’t that fall on Crean as well?  I know that they lost an All-Star roster of players to the NBA, but at a place like Indiana who was put back on the map the past couple of years, I didn’t expect any down years any more, but that’s what we had.  I guess there is still time to make it up, but they have to win a really tough tournament.  The winner of this game will get #1 Michigan on Friday.

Only 6 people (Bry, Caleb, GrossJr, J, Lazarow, PapaCim) went with Illinois here.  No one has either of these teams beating Michigan in the quarters.

Illinois 64 – Indiana 54

#5 Ohio State vs #12 Purdue
What happened to OSU this year?  They should be great, and they looked great early on.  But, they just don’t have any offense and, ya know, scoring is important.  I asked Doogan the other day if Ohio State would be a Top 10 team in the country if Desean Thomas stayed in school instead of leaving a year early to play in Spain.  He said yes, and I agree.  That is exactly what they are missing – and he is one of the best at it – scoring.  As for Purdue, it doesn’t get much tougher for a 5-seed than to draw a 12-seed as good as the Boilers. The winner of this game will take on a Nebraska team that really needs a win to get off the bubble.

Bry is the only one that went for the big upset here with Purdue.  A Purdue win would also bust a ton of brackets.  Alexi and Dave have the Buckeyes winning this tournament.  Becks, Gersh, Lynch, Stritts, and WaTers have them going to the finals.  11 more (Colton, GrossJr, GrossSr, J, Lohse, Mac, PapaCim, Primm, RDoc, Scoot, Stumpf) have them reaching the semis, so this is huge here for most of the field to keep OSU alive.  Aside from Bry, only Caleb, Chris, Doogan, and Lazarow have OSU not making the semis.

Ohio State 63 – Purdue 61

#7 Minnesota vs #10 Penn State
Richard Pitino has done a great job in Minneapolis, but the team is inconsistent and unsteady.  Sometimes they look great, sometimes they look very flat – and that might be inexperienced coaching.  But, they are in decent shape to make the tournament, but they have to beat Penn State on Thursday.  The Nittany Lions have one of the best backcourt duos in the great Tim Frazier and the nearly-great D.J. Newbill.  This is a dangerous game for the Gophers, and they better bring the good team to this one.  The winner here gets #2 Wisconsin.

9 people (Bry, Dave, Doogan, GrossJr, Lynch, PapaCim, Primm, RDoc, WaTers) took the Nittany Lions here with an upset that might kill Minnesota’s tournament hopes.  No one has either of these teams beating Wisconsin in the quarters.

Minnesota 63 – Penn State 56

#6 Iowa vs #11 Northwestern
God, I love this Iowa team.  But, they have really struggled to stop anyone lately.  And, if you don’t play defense, you just don’t win Big Ten games.  But, they do have a TON of talent and are probably the deepest team in the league (depth has hidden importance this year because of the new quicker whistles).  This game should be a fascinating game of completely contrasting styles.  Iowa LOVES to run and will on any occasion.  Northwestern will go slow, slow, and slower.  The ‘Cats are tough and should not be overlooked.  Iowa is in no danger of missing the Dance, but they are playing with the fire of a bad seeding and a loss here might put them in the dreaded 8/9 game.

Gersh, GrossJr, Lynch, and PapaCim went with a really nice NW upset pick here, though none of them have the ‘Cats beating Mich State.  Doogan puts his Big Ten champ at risk here in the nightcap.  Lohse has the Hawkeyes in the finals.  Bry, Dave, Lazarow, RDoc, and Scoot all have them beating Michigan State, so they need them to stay alive here.

Northwestern 67 – Iowa 62

CTC UPDATE

Championship Picks

  • #1 Michigan (3) – Bry, Lohse, RDoc
  • #2 Wisconsin (9) – Caleb, Colton, J, Lazarow, Mac, Primm, Scoot, Stri, Stumpf
  • #3 Michigan State (10) – Becks, Chris, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, Lynch, PapaCim, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers
  • #4 Nebraska (0)
  • #5 Ohio State (2) – Alexi, Dave
  • #6 Iowa (1) – Doogan

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #12 Purdue (Bry)
  • QF – #6 Iowa (Bry, Dave, Doogan, Lazarow, Lohse, RDoc, Scoot)
  • SF – #5 Ohio State (Alexi, Becks, Dave, Gersh, Lynch, Stritts, WaTers)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Bry
  • 2009 – Bry
  • 2010 – Waters
  • 2011 –  Primm
  • 2012 – Gersh, Stri
  • 2013 – Cheryl

2014 Scores

2014 CTC: The SEC (3/16)

How bad is the SEC?  Ya know, other than having the undisputed best team in the country.  Here’s your answer – pretty f’ing bad.  Want a better answer?  Georgia-in-3rd-place bad.  That’s really bad.  Florida is, obviously, incredible.  Kentucky is uber-talented and uber-young (guess I could write that every year) and what else is there?  Tennessee?  A lot of talent, very few results.  LSU?  Maybe even more talent, but ever fewer results.  Arkansas?  World-beaters at home, barely mediocre on the road.  Missouri?  8th place.  Ole Miss?  No depth and not all that talented anyway.  Alabama?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  What a terrible season of basketball for Conference Football.

Not surprising that the #1 team in the country gets the lion’s share of the championship picks in the CTC, as Florida grabs 20.  #2 Kentucky has 4 people believing in them, while #4 Tennessee has 1.  South Carolina is a sleeper pick to pull off 3 upsets, while LSU is the sleeper pick to reach the finals.  Primm holds the SEC title currently and will try and repeat this year.  Alexi is the only one to hold more than one SEC title.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 16th – 60 points)

#1 Florida vs #2 Kentucky
No surprise here as we get the only two SEC teams that have really done anything (actually, it’s kind of 1.5 because UK hasn’t been all that great all year).  The #1 team in the country struggled with Tennessee, but survived, while UK cruised for the second straight day, beating up on overmatched Georgia.  Florida has been better all year, but you can make the case that UK has been better this week, though that might have to do with competition more than anything else.  We all know, though, that this Kentucky team is as talented as anyone, so if they put it together, watch out.

Bry, Colton, GrossSr, and Lohse are the only 4 with the ‘Cats here.  Dave is the only one who has already lost this game.  The other 20 all have the Gators.  Mac will win the SEC with a Florida win, while GrossSr will take it in Kentucky wins.

SEMIFINALS (March 15th – 40 points each)

#1 Florida vs #4 Tennessee
These two incredible defenses were on display in the quarterfinals as neither team allowed their opponents to even hit 50.  Florida scores a lot better than Tennessee, though, and should have a considerable advantage in the backcourt in this one.  The Gators are going for 25 in a row here to start the SEC semifinal double-header.

Dave is the only one with Tennessee here, as he has the Vols winning this title.  Lohse has already lost this game.  The other 23 all have the Gators, including 20 title picks.

#2 Kentucky vs #3 Georgia
The Wildcats struggled early with LSU, but pretty much dominated the final 30 minutes in looking about as good as they have all year.  The rest of the nation should take notice if the ‘Cats have found “it.”  UGa did exactly what they have done all season on Friday – win a close game against a mediocre team.  Ole Miss is nothing special, but there is something to be said for winning all these close ones.

Lazarow, Lynch, PapaCim, and Primm all have Georgia here, though none have them winning the title.  Becks and J have already lost this game.  The other 19 all have UK here, with Bry, Colton, GrossSr, and Lohse taking Cal’s Kids to win the tourney.

QUARTERFINALS (March 14th – 20 points each)

#1 Florida vs #8 Missouri
And, we finally welcome the #1 team in all of college basketball to the CTC party, as the Florida Gators take the floor Friday against a Missouri team that needed two overtimes to beat Texas A&M on Thursday.  The Tigers will need all the energy they can muster – and probably more – to handle the country’s best team.  Billy Donovan is at it again.  He has his guys playing at a ridiculously high level and has done so rather quietly yet again.  It is amazing how well Donovan develops players.  Casey Prather is one of, if not the, most improved players in the nation.  Scottie Wilbekin – the SEC Player of the Year – never looked like he would ever hold that honor.  They have men inside in Patric Young and Will Yeguete.  They have secondary scorers like Dorrian Finney-Smith and Michael Frazier.  They have excitement off the bench in Kasey Hill.  And, yet, if you ask even good college basketball fans to name the best players in the country, how many would they name until they named a Gator?  If they even named one at all.  But, this team is ROCK SOLID defensively and incredibly efficient offensively.  They rebound the ball and protect it.  In fact, it is pretty amazing to think of how close this team is to being undefeated right now.  They had multiple injuries, including Scottie Wilbekin, in a 6-point loss AT Wisconsin, and were missing a couple key players, including Kasey Hill, in a 1-point loss AT Connecticut.  If not for that, the Gators would actually be considered to have a a legitimate shot to finish the year undefeated…unlike the senseless dismissal of Wichita’s chances.

Everyone has the Gators winning this game.  The people rooting against them today would be Dave and Lohse, mostly, as they are the only two that don’t have them in the finals.  It wouldn’t be such a bad thing for Bry, Colton, or GrossSr either, as they are the other 3 that have someone other than Florida winning this tournament.

Florida 72 – Missouri 49

#4 Tennessee vs #13 South Carolina
The Tennessee Vols are WAY too talented to be in this position – a bubble position.  Swept by Texas A&M and losses at Vandy and Mizzou have this immensely talented and experienced team sweating out the selection process this year.  And, any team with Jarnell Stokes and Jordan McRae shouldn’t be sweating out much of anything.  The Vols are, however, probably on the inside of the bubble, so it might be good that they will get a South Carolina team in the quarters instead of an Arkansas team because a trip to the SEC semis should be enough for the Vols to get in.  The dangerous part is if they lose to USC (who has already hammered Auburn and beat Arkansas this week), then they may be on the outside looking in.

The miracle Gamecocks run has taken him this far, so why quit not?  GrossSr is trying to complete an incredible prediction of South Carolina to the semis here.  Quite a few people had Arkansas here, so there are some nice points to be had for the 14 people (Alexi, Becks, Bry, Chris, Colton, Dave, Doogan, J, Lynch, Mac, PapaCim, Primm, Teddy, WaTers) who have the Vols here.  Dave is the only one risking a finalist, and he is actually risking a champion here with UT.

Tennessee 59 – South Carolina 44

#2 Kentucky vs #7 LSU
The one team that Kentucky probably didn’t want to see in early in the SEC tournament is the exact team that they will face in their quarterfinal opener to this tourney.  LSU did beat Kentucky in Baton Rouge and should have beaten them in Lexington, but lost by a point in overtime.  Now, they get the rubber match on the “neutral” court in Catlanta.  The Tigers got here by whipping Alabama in the second round on Thursday.  Kentucky is here because, well, they’re nowhere near as good as Florida and the rest of the league is really bad, so they kind of backed into the 2-seed.  But, it certainly isn’t for lack of talent that they aren’t living up to the preseason #1 ranking.  With the exception of the man-child Julius Randle, the “best recruiting class ever” has been rather ordinary, to be honest.  The Harrison twins (ranked as the #1 point guard and #1 shooting guard in the country) have proven that they are both just “guards.”  They have, for their entire lives, been so much better than everyone that they played against – and had each other on the same team – that they just kind of “played” point guard and shooting guard.  But, as it turns out, neither one really has any clue how to run an offense, and neither one is really all that good of a shooter.  So, neither is a point guard and neither is a shooting guard.  They are both tweener guards who drive and dominate the ball.  That is not exactly what a team that has one of the most dominating inside forces in the game (Randle) and an actual “shooting guard” (James Young) on the floor most of the time.  This team is so talented, but so misfit, and it will be interesting to see if Coach Cal can pull something together in time.  But, the time starts now – against the wrong opponent.

J and Primm both have a really nice 70-point upset pick here with LSU.  J even has the Tigers going to the finals.  Lynch and RDoc have already lost this game with ‘Bama.  The other 21 all have UK here with most people picking them to go to the finals, though only Bry, Colton, GrossSr, and Lohse have the ‘Cats cutting down the nets in Catlanta on Sunday.

Kentucky 85 – LSU 67

#3 Georgia vs #6 Ole Miss
And, depending on start times, the final team to play a game in the CTC is likely to be Georgia – didn’t see that one coming.  The real shock of the SEC season (and the best piece of evidence of its incredible drop in quality) is that the Georgia Bulldogs finished 3rd in the SEC this year.  Now, I love Mark Fox and think he’s a great coach, but there is just no talent here.  This is a team that went to the 8-team Charleston Classic and finished 8th – behind such worldbeaters as UAB (8th-place in C-USA), Temple (9-22 this year), and Davidson (low-major team that is rebuilding).  But, with the power of unbalanced scheduling, a team that didn’t beat a single SEC team higher than 7th-place, can finish 3rd.  The good news for Coach Fox is that this will not be the best year for this team, as the entire team except center Donte Williams is back next year (unless Kenny Gaines makes the stupid decision to enter the draft).  The Bulldogs will try to make another amazing run like the one they did a couple years ago that required them to play two games on the same day starting with Marshall Henderson’s Rebels, who dismissed cross-state rival Mississippi State with a big second half on Thursday.

11 people (Becks, Chris, Colton, Dave, Gersh, GrossJr, J, Lohse, RDoc, Stumpf, Teddy) have a really nice upset pick here with Ole Miss.  Becks and RDoc have a real shot at correctly placing Ole Miss in the finals.  The other 14 all have UGA, including Lazarow, Lynch, PapaCim, and Primm, who have the Dawgs getting to the finals.

Georgia 75 – Ole Miss 73

SECOND ROUND (March 13th – 10 points each)

#8 Missouri vs #9 Texas A&M
I know Mizzou looks like a tournament team and might actually have the resume of a tournament team.  And, I also understand the concept of unbalanced conference schedules, but I hope we don’t hide behind that last point to give teams a pass for failing in conference play.  I just can’t wrap my head around the 8th-place team in a conference as weak as the SEC is this year going to the tournament.  At least, not yet.  If they beat Florida on Friday, I would have to change my tune, but is there any evidence whatsoever that says they can do that?  I haven’t seen any.  In fact, I’m not sure they’re a clear-cut pick to beat a feisty Texas A&M team on Thursday.  The Aggies aren’t that talented at the top of their roster, but they do play a lot of guys a lot of minutes and they play hard-nosed, aggressive defense, which kind of makes them perfect for tournaments like this where you play every day.  But, that advantage doesn’t set it until, at least, the second game – and not if that second game is against a team off of a bye.  Either way, their style is scary in a one-and-done, so Mizzou better watch out because they could easily lose this game and then they would really be on the outside of that bubble conversation.  The winner here takes a shot at the #1 team in all the land…the Florida Gators.

Only 3 people (Caleb, RDoc, and Stumpf) took the Aggies in a mild upset here.  The other 22 all took Mizzou, though no one has Florida losing to either of these teams on Friday.

Missouri 91 – Texas A&M 83 (2 OT)

#5 Arkansas vs #13 South Carolina
The Razorbacks should be a tournament team (and they are squarely on the bubble).  The Home Razorbacks look like a top-6 seed.  The Road Razorbacks would be lucky to get a 6-seed in the NIT.  We are about to find out about the Neutral Razorbacks.  As is common for Mike Anderson in the Nolan Richardson way, he plays a ton of guys and runs them hard on defense.  It takes away from their offense, but does force a ton of TOs.  South Carolina is VERY prone to turning the ball over (which they did 19 times in a regular season loss to the Razorbacks), so this isn’t the best matchup for Frank Martin’s squad.  But, after a blowout of Auburn (which got Tony Barbee fired), they are kind of playing with house money.  The winner here takes on #4 Tennessee in the quarters.

GrossSr, Mac, and PapaCim have a huge upset pick here.  GrossSr actually has USC in the semifinals.  Dave, Primm, and WaTers have already lost this game with Auburn.  The other 19 all have Arkansas, including many that have them going to the semis, and Lohse, who has them in the finals.

South Carolina 71 – Arkansas 69

#7 LSU vs #10 Alabama
LSU has so much talent that it almost hurts to see them lose.  They are absolutely loaded, but just can’t seem to do anything consistently.  They should have beaten Kentucky twice this year (they did get one), and yet they were swept by Georgia.  However, a quick look at their schedule shows the only bad losses were Texas A&M and Rhode Island, but their best win other than Kentucky is either a home win over Arkansas (who stinks on the road) or a neutral win over St. Joe’s.  That is not enough.  They need at least one more marquee win.  And, to even have a shot at that, they need to first beat Alabama here in the second round.  Okay, I think I have officially stopped defending Anthony Grant.  I loved him at VCU and thought ‘Bama made a fantastic hire.  And, then when I saw he was recruiting well, I thought – this might be a perennial power.  But, they just don’t win games.  And, if I’m off, then I’m sure the Alabama administration is off of Grant, so this is probably it for a good coach.  I just hope he lands in a nice mid-major and is able to build back some credibility.  This is a talent-laden game of underachievers.  And, the winner takes on the ultimate in that category, #2 Kentucky.

Surprisingly, more people had Alabama (13) than LSU (12 – Alexi, Doogan, Gersh, GrossSr, J, Lazarow, Lohse, Mac, Primm, Scoot, Stritts, Stumpf).  Lynch and RDoc have Alabama beating Kentucky.  J and Primm have LSU beating UK.  J is the only one that risks a finalist here, as he has LSU going that far.

LSU 68 – Alabama 56

#6 Ole Miss vs #14 Mississippi State
If I had told you last year that Marshall Henderson would be a full-fledged member of Ole Miss all season long and that the national landscape would be completely ignoring him.  Would you believe me?  I wouldn’t even believe me.  How does the biggest story in college basketball come back for another year, PLAY BETTER, and get forgotten?  Well, I guess the simple answer is that he’s been moderately well-behaved…and that Ole Miss isn’t very good.  But, it’s not Marshall’s fault, he’s been excellent – even coming off the bench a lot.  But, the talent around him just isn’t there this year.  They can still rise up and beat people and a run to the finals and a close loss to Florida might give the Committee something to think about, but I still don’t think it’ll be enough to get Marshall back to the Big Stage for one last act.  Then again, the Marshall I know doesn’t need much of a stage to make a helluva an act.  The Rebs take on their in-state rivals in this one, who are fresh off an impressive dismissal of Vanderbilt late Wednesday night.  The winner will get #3 Georgia in the quarters.

No one has MSU here, but 9 people (Bry, Caleb, Doogan, GrossSr, Lynch, PapaCim, Scoot, Stri, Stritts) have all already lost this game with Vandy, so they are Bulldog fans tonight (though, I’ll be honest, I can’t root against Marshall Henderson…).  The other 16 all have the Rebels, including Becks and RDoc, who have them in the finals.  9 others (Chris, Colton, Dave, Gersh, Grossjr, J, Lohse, Stumpf, Teddy) have them beating UGA on Friday.

Ole Miss 78 – Mississippi State 66

FIRST ROUND (March 12th – 5 points each)

#12 Auburn vs #13 South Carolina
I don’t care what people say, I love Frank Martin, and I would send my kid to play for him any day of the week.  The modern-day Bobby Knight (ya know, without any of the success or the extent of the controversies) gets the most out of his players.  Unfortunately, at South Carolina, he hasn’t really had any good players.  Well, they will open the SEC tournament against an Auburn team that actually showed some signs of progress this year…small signs, but signs nonetheless.  The winner of this game will take on #5 Arkansas in the second round on Thursday.

The slight favorite Auburn is only a choice of 10 CTC entries (Alexi, Dave, Gersh, GrossJr, Lohse, Primm, RDoc, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers), though 4 of them (Dave, Mac, Primm, WaTers) have the Tigers winning again over Arkansas.  GrossSr and PapaCim both have South Carolina beating Arkansas in the second round.  GrossSr has the Gamecocks winning again over Tennessee in the quarters.

South Carolina 74 – Auburn 56
Frank Martin’s Gamecocks came to play (as they always do) here in the SEC tournament opener, as they crushed Auburn to move on to a second round date with Arkansas.

15 people got this slight upset pick, including PapaCim, who keeps alive a quarterfinalist, and GrossSr, who keeps alive a semifinalist.  Dave, Mac, Primm, and WaTers all lose a quarterfinalist here.

#11 Vanderbilt vs #14 Mississippi State
I have always said that my short list of the most underrated coaches in America would start with Kevin Stallings.  I mean let’s really think about what kind of talent he really gets to go to Vanderbilt with its academic burdens and lack of a counter-acting basketball history to the extent of Stanford and Duke, it can’t be easy to maintain a strong program there, but he does it.  Think about the great players from Vandy.  There aren’t many, and the ones that do come to mind (John Jenkins, Jeffrey Taylor, Demarre Carroll, and even going all the way back to Billy McCaffrey) are all seniors, which means that Stallings and his staff at least had a small hand in developing these guys.  And, yet this team is – more often than not – nationally relevant.  It has been a bit of a down year, but they are building and still pretty decent.  The other coach that I would always reference as habitually underrated was Rick Stansbury and since he left after the 2012 season, the Bulldogs of Miss State have been doormats.  They are again this year.  If matchups matter, then this might be a bad one for State, who lost the only regular season matchup against Vandy 72-31 at home.  Yep, 72-31 at home.  The winner here gets Marshall Henderson and Ole Miss on Thursday.

Dave, GrossJr, RDoc, Stumpf, and Teddy have the decent upset pick of MSU here with no one having them go any further.  8 people (Bry, Caleb, Doogan, GrossSr, PapaCim, Scoot, Stri, Stritts) have Vandy beating Ole Miss in the second round.

Mississippi State 82 – Vanderbilt 68
A terrible way for the Commodores season to end, as they lose to last-place Mississippi State it the first round of the SEC tournament.  Mississippi State will move on to face Ole Miss on Thursday.

Dave, GrossJr, RDoc, Stumpf, and Teddy pick up a nice upset here.  8 people lost quarterfinalist in this one.

CTC UPDATE

Championship Picks

  • #1 Florida (20)
  • #2 Kentucky (4) – Bry, Colton, GrossSr, Lohse
  • #3 Georgia (0)
  • #4 Tennessee (1) – Dave

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #14 Mississippi State (Dave, GrossJr, RDoc, Stumpf, Teddy)
  • R2 – #13 South Carolina (GrossSr, Mac, PapaCim)
  • QF – #13 South Carolina (GrossSr)
  • SF – #7 LSU (J)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Waters
  • 2009 – Alexi
  • 2010 – Alexi
  • 2011 – Rikey (perfect)
  • 2012 – Mac
  • 2013 – Primm

2014 Scores

2014 CTC: The ACC (3/16)

And, here we go.  The newly-expanded ACC kicks off its tournament in Greensboro on Wednesday.  Becoming almost the poster-child for conference expansion, the ACC is 15 teams strong next year and will replace departing Maryland with incoming Louisville next year (which is a massive upgrade that even these Terrapin sycophants around me would have to admit).  There were some down years across the league this year, but when Rick Pitino gets here, and some of the other solid programs rebound, this should be a pretty brutal league.  That being said, all this talk of “best conference ever” and “head and shoulders above all other conferences” needs to stop.  The ACC was again a total disappointment this year, finishing behind – by all accounts – the Big Ten and Big XII this year as far as conference power rankings, and by many accounts, they were behind the Pac-12, Big East, and/or even the American.  The bottom of the league wasn’t atrocious, but they certainly weren’t “good,” and the bottom stretches up pretty high in this 15-team league.  To have 9 teams worse considerably worse than Clemson is not exactly “best conference ever” material.  Still, this tournament should be incredibly intriguing as we have the surprise regular season champ, UVA, up top, then the budding new rivalry between Syracuse and Duke lined up for a potential semifinal, and then the red-hot UNC set to possibly face the hollow resume of Pitt in the quarters.  As much as I hate the ACC and all its pomp and elitism, it can put on a good show this time of year.

The CTC championship picks show no simply majority here in the ACC (which is a great sign for an interesting tournament).  #3 Duke is the most popular pick here with 11 followed by #2 Syracuse with 7.  So, if those two are to meet in the semifinals, it could go a long way to determining the 2014 CTC champion.  Only 3 people went with top-seeded UVa.  #4 UNC and #5 Pitt each saw two people taking them to win here in Greensboro.  A bunch of upset picks, including strong support for BC winning a pair of games, and even a couple people taking Maryland to go to the semis in their last ACC hurrah.  Caleb and Teddy shared the 2013 ACC title, so they will try and repeat this year.  No one has ever won this conference more than once.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 16th – 60 points)

#1 Virginia vs #3 Duke
The regular season champs versus the preseason favorite and the perennial champs.  UVa only played Duke once – in Cameron – and gave them all they could handle, though the Devils prevailed.  The Cavs have been more impressive in this tournament, however, as they handled FSU and played really well against Pitt.  Duke was pushed to the brink by Clemson (and probably should have lost) and then took care of N.C. State.  This should be excellent.

Chris, GrossSr, and Stri are the only 3 with the top-seeded Cavs.  11 people (Becks, Bry, Doogan, Gersh, GrossJr, J, Lohse, Mac, PapaCim, RDoc, Stritts) have the Blue Devils.  J and Stritts have already clinched the ACC crown, no matter what happens on Sunday.

SEMIFINALS (March 15th – 40 points)

#1 Virginia vs #5 Pittsburgh
UVa, the top seed, made short work of a tough Florida State team in the quarters, showing how they won this conference in the regular season.  Pitt led UNC big most of the way and then dealt with a furious comeback to beat cool off the Heels.  Now, the two face off for a spot in the ACC championship.

Dave, Stumpf, Teddy, and WaTers have Pitt winning this game, including Stumpf and Teddy, who have them cutting down the nets on Sunday.  9 people (Becks, Chris, Doogan, GrossSr, J, Mac, PapaCim, Stri, Stritts) have UVa winning here, including Chris, GrossSr, and Stri, who have the Cavs taking this title.

#3 Duke vs #7 N.C. State
Well, we are deprived of a Round Three between Duke and Syracuse, but with the way the ‘Cuse is playing, it probably wouldn’t have lived up to the billing.  Duke, themselves, is very fortunate to be here at all, as they probably should have lost to Clemson in the quarterfinals nightcap.  The whole bubble world is rooting for Duke to continue their dominance in this rivalry.

No one has N.C. State winning this game.  10 people (Alexi, Caleb, Chris, Colton, Dave, Lazarow, Primm, Scoot, Stumpf, WaTers) have already lost this game.  The other 15 all have the Dukies, including 11 (Becks, Bry, Doogan, Gersh, GrossJr, J, Lohse, Mac, PapaCim, RDoc, Stritts) with the Devils winning it all.

QUARTERFINALS (March 14th – 20 points each)

#1 Virginia vs #9 Florida State
The Cavs won their first ACC regular season since Ralph Sampson was at UVa.  And, they won it convincingly.  Granted, the unbalanced schedule aided them immensely (they only played each of the TOP SEVEN ACC teams once – they had all their doubles against the bottom of the league), but there is no denying a team that this team is an elite team in the nation with a legit shot at a #1-seed in the next tournament.  They are incredibly balanced and incredibly well-coached.  It is debatable whether or not they have the “star power” to make a deep run into March, and while most people would probably say that they don’t have a superstar on the caliber of a Jabari Parker or Tyler Ennis, I tend to disagree.  We are not talking about NBA potential here, we are talking about an ability to take over a college basketball game, and I think that Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon are both able to dominate.  They both have great size and immense skill sets.  They play smart on both ends of the floor and never try to do too much.  Harris, especially, is cold-blooded when the game is on the line.  I really like this Cavs team and want to see them make a deep run.  Their ACC tournament begins with a quarterfinal matchup against a huge and talented team that is desperate.  FSU’s last-second win over Maryland on Thursday kept them in the bubble talk.  A win here would cement their at-large candidacy, but they still have a shot if they lose…it all depends.

Alexi and Dave have already lost this game with Maryland.  The other 23 all have UVa, including Chris, GrossSr, and Stri, who have the Cavs cutting down the Greensboro nets on Sunday (which would probably cement their 1-seed after ‘Nova’s loss on Thursday).

Virginia 64 – Florida State 51

#4 North Carolina vs #5 Pittsburgh
What an incredibly strange season on Chapel Hill.  In fact, I’m not sure I can ever remember a season so bizarre.  First of all, when the beat Duke in Chapel Hill on Feb 20, they became the first team in college basketball history to beat all four of the preseason Top 4 teams in the country – after having already beaten Louisville, Michigan State, and Kentucky.  So, wow, what a season, right?  Well, not exactly.  This same team – in this same season – lost at home to Belmont, lost at UAB (in between the L’ville and MSU wins), and needed overtime to beat Davidson at home.  What?!?!?  Also, this bunch – right before reeling off 12 straight conference wins – became the first UNC team ever to go 0-3 and then the first to go 1-4 in ACC play.  But, the important part is that they righted the ship in time for March, and they found a legit go-to guy on this team, Marcus Page.  Now, the Heels are in the mix for this tournament and open with a quarterfinal matchup against a tough Pitt team that dismantled Wake Forest on Thursday.  This could be the marquee win that Pitt needs.

6 people (Becks, Dave, PapaCim, Stumpf, Teddy, WaTers) have Pitt here, including 2 champions (Stumpf and Teddy) and 2 finalists (Dave and WaTers).  The other 19 all have UNC here, including Lazarow and Lynch, who have them winning the whole thing.  10 others (Alexi, Bry, Caleb, Colton, Gersh, GrossJr, Lohse, Primm, RDoc, Scoot) all have the Heels reaching the finals.  This is a pretty huge CTC game.

Pittsburgh 80 – North Carolina 75

#2 Syracuse vs #7 N.C. State
And, enter the Orange.  The team that was #1 for so many weeks.  The team that gave us two fantastic games in a budding rivalry against Duke.  The team that showed up that freshmen point guards can succeed in major conference basketball.  The team that always steadfastly defends the old school 2-3 non-trapping zone defense and shows us exactly how it is supposed to be played and how it doesn’t necessarily lead to a million made 3’s when played correctly (and by long athletes, of course).  The team whose point guard is a national sensation, but whose small forward is CLEARLY their best player.  And……the team that had completely taken on water since starting the season 25-0.  Losses to BC, Duke, UVa, and Ga Tech in its final 6 games is not the Syracuse we knew just three weeks ago.  One of the most interesting storylines in any conference tournament will be to see if this team has gotten it figured out again.  If so, they are on the short list of national title contenders.  If not, they might be lucky to make it to the second weekend.  They open their first ever ACC tournament against an N.C. State team that survived Miami in the second round on Thursday.

J, Stritts, and Teddy all went for the big upset of N.C. State here (which would net them a cool 70 points).  The other 22 all played it safe and went Syracuse for 20.  7 people (Alexi, Caleb, Colton, Dave, Primm, Scoot, WaTers) believe in the Orange enough to have them winning it all.  Chris, Lazarow, and Stumpf have them going to the finals, but losing.

N.C. State 66 – Syracuse 63

#3 Duke vs #6 Clemson
This Blue Devil team looks just like a lot of the Blue Devil teams of recent years.  Sensational in some aspects, but possibly not sensational enough to overcome some big and glaring deficiencies.  They are, as usual, absolutely loaded on the wing.  Jabari Parker is the real deal as a scorer, and Rodney Hood has lived up to all the Coach K hype coming into the season.  Throw in Andre Dawkins (who, quietly, is in the top 5 on Duke’s all-time list of 3-pointers made) and Rasheed Sulaimon (who would be playing 35 minutes a night for basically any other team in the country) and this team comes at you in waves on the wing.  But, they are very deficient in other areas – particularly on the defensive side.  Quin Cook is a decent distributor of the ball and will make the open shot, but he’s far from dynamic and a borderline liability on defense.  And, the bigs are – as has been the case for a while in Cameron – almost non-existent.  And, don’t get me started on Jabari Parker’s defense.  While it’s not quite enough to negate all the special things he does on offense, it seriously dampens their effects.  I think this team is flawed, but in this day and age of college hoops, so is everybody else, so they are legit national title contenders.  But, they wouldn’t be my first choice.  They open the ACC with a Clemson team that is rough and tough and could give the Dukies trouble…again.  The Tigers won 72-59 over the Devils back in early January.

All 25 people have the Dukies here in Greensboro with most taking them to get to the finals, and 11 (Becks, Bry, Doogan, Gersh, GrossJr, J, Lohse, Mac, PapaCim, RDoc, Stritts) taking them to win it all.

Duke 63 – Clemson 62

SECOND ROUND (March 13th – 10 points each)

#8 Maryland vs #9 Florida State
These Maryland people around me still think the Terps are on the bubble and maybe they are, but these people can’t be trusted.  Haha, just kidding, everyone here from the beautifully Southern state of Maryland.  Anyway, the Terps got a huge win over UVa to close out the regular season and, honestly, even I would have to consider them a potential bubble team if they can beat the Cavs again on Friday.  But, to get there, they will have to get past a Florida State team that came out of the gates this year like gangbusters, but tailed off down the stretch.  The Seminoles are very good and can beat anyone in the country, but they haven’t showed it of late and are in serious trouble of not making the tournament.  I think it’s safe to say that this is a loser-goes-home game to open a nice day of ACC hoops in Greensboro.  The winner here gets a shot at ACC champs, Virginia.

9 people (Bry, Caleb, Colton, Doogan, Gersh, J, Mac, Primm, Stritts) have the slight upset here with FSU.  The other 16 have UMD, including Alexi and Dave, who both have them beating the Cavs on Friday.

Florida State 67 – Maryland 65

#5 Pittsburgh vs #12 Wake Forest
The Pitt Panthers are one of the more interesting at-large cases I can remember.  They finished 5th in a major conference, were ranked in the Top 15 nationally at certain points in the season, are beloved by the tempo-free guys, and yet don’t have a single marquee win to speak of.  And, I think that if they lose to Wake here on Thursday, they are not going to make the tournament.  Yet, if they win the ACC tournament, they could make a case for a seeding as high as 3.  A win here probably doesn’t guarantee them a spot (though a win on Friday over UNC probably would), but it would go a long way.  The winner here does get the Tar Heels in Friday’s quarterfinal round.

No one has Wake here, but Bry, GrossSr, Lazarow, Lohse, and Lynch are all rooting for the Deacons because they had Notre Dame here, so they’re hoping to zero out this game.  Two people who are certainly not rooting for Wake are Stumpf and Teddy, who have the Panthers winning the whole thing.  Dave and WaTers have them in the finals.  Becks and PapaCim have them in the semis.

Pittsburgh 84 – Wake Forest 55

#7 N.C. State vs #10 Miami (FL)
The Wolfpack, after not performing to expectations with an absolutely LOADED roster in 2012-13, have kind of overperformed with a very UNloaded roster in 2013-14.  Then again it’s hard to call any roster unloaded when they have the ACC Player of the Year.  T.J. Warren is an absolute beast and can (and has) single-handedly win ACC games.  Miami, who barely survived Va Tech on Wednesday comes in with a style that can really bother N.C. State, as evidenced by the 85-70 Miami win two weeks ago in Raleigh.  This is a dangerous spot for State.  The winner here gets #2 Syracuse in the quarters.

An amazing 11 people (Becks, Caleb, Colton, Doogan, Gersh, GrossSr, Lohse, Lynch, Primm, Stumpf, WaTers) have the Hurricanes here, though none have them beating the ‘Cuse.  J, Stritts, and Teddy have the most at stake here, as they have N.C. State upsetting the Orange on Friday.

N.C. State 67 – Miami (FL) 58

#6 Clemson vs #11 Georgia Tech
Brad Brownell has done a really good job at Clemson, but people don’t know it.  I am not sure why everyone thinks this Clemson job is so keen and that they should be making the tournament every year – it never was before, so why is Brownell held to this standard?  He is doing a lot with not that much (which may be his fault in recruiting, but it’s not like South Carolina is a hotbed of talent and it’s not like Clemson is this big destination for ballplayers, either).  I love his style of play, and I think his Tigers teams win more games that I would otherwise expect them to every year.  They are on the bubble again (though, they probably have to at least beat Duke in the quarters for even a little consideration).  They open with a Ga Tech team that barely escaped an overtime game with BC on Wednesday with the winner earning a shot at Duke on their de facto home floor.

8 people (Becks, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, Lazarow, Lynch, Mac, RDoc) went with a really great upset pick here with Ga Tech.  Lohse, Stri, and WaTers all went with an even better one with BC, but they didn’t make it to the game to give them a shot.  The other 14 people all have Clemson here.  No one has Duke losing to any of these teams in the quarters.

Clemson 69 – Georgia Tech 65 (OT)

FIRST ROUND (March 12th – 5 points each)

#12 Wake Forest vs #13 Notre Dame
The Demon Deacons of Wake Forest were terrific at home this year, which is nice to see as maybe this historically solid program is coming back to relevance.  They did have a back-loaded schedule that caused them to lose 9 of their final 11 games, though those two wins were against Duke and Clemson.  Notre Dame is one of the most disappointing teams in the country this year, as they were in the preseason Top 15 in the country and they finished 13th in their conference.  They still have a lot of talent, though, especially in that deadly backcourt.  Would it surprise anyone if they made a little run?  The winner of this game will get #5 Pittsburgh in the second round in what will be a very interesting game with the Panthers squarely on the bubble.

Only 6 people (Colton, Doogan, GrossJr, Stri, Stritts, WaTers) took the slight favorite, Wake Forest, with none of them taking the Deacons to beat Pitt.  Not only did 19 people take ND here, but 5 of them (Bry, GrossSr, Lazarow, Lohse, Lynch) have the Irish beating Pitt in the second round.

Wake Forest 81 – Notre Dame 69
Wake Forest ends an incredibly disappointing season in South Bend with a convincing 12-point win over ND.  The Deacons win their first ACC tournament game in the “Modern Era” of the CTC.  Now, Wake will take their chances against a Pitt team that could really use another bubbly win.

Only 6 people got this one right, and 5 people lost a quarterfinalist here.

#10 Miami (FL) vs #15 Virginia Tech
Good move, Va Tech in firing Seth Greenberg.  The great coach with a hard-to-like personality (who has turned into an incredibly likeable TV personality, ironically) was the best coach that that school has ever had and will ever have.  And, they let him go and now they are a laughingstock.  They open (and probably close) their ACC tournament with an underrated Miami team.  Jim Larranaga’s retirement to Coral Gables actually had him doing some work last year in the shocking ACC title and 2-seed in the NCAA tournament.  But, that entire team is gone and yet Larranaga has his boys still a little relevant, despite playing a hideously slow pace.  The winner here gets a second round date with ACC Player of the Year, T.J. Warren, and #7 N.C. State.

Bry, PapaCim, RDoc, and Stri all went with the big Va Tech upset here, though no one has them beating N.C. State.  Miami has a huge base of CTC support, as not only do 21 people have them winning here, but 11 people (Becks, Caleb, Colton, Doogan, Gersh, GrossSr, Lohse, Lynch, Primm, Stumpf, WaTers) actually have them beating State in the second round.  None of the 12 have them then beating the ‘Cuse, though.

Miami (FL) 57 – Virginia Tech 53
A back and forth game ended up with the Hurricanes pulling it out late.  Va Tech acquitted themselves somewhat well after a terrible regular season, but couldn’t pull it out.  Miami now will take on T.J. Warren and the Wolfpack.

4 people missed a big upset, while 11 people keep alive a shot at a nice upset on Thursday.

#11 Georgia Tech vs #14 Boston College
If Notre Dame might not be the biggest disappointment in the country because they might not even be the biggest disappointment in their own league.  Boston College was supposed to be very good this year, and they have been very bad.  They started poorly, finished poorly and were really poor in between.  The Eagles are 7-23 against D-I opponents.  Of those 7 wins, they have 2 against lowly Va Tech, one 3-point home win over Florida-Atlantic, and an OT home win over Sacred Heart.  Oh, and then there’s that team called Syracuse that they beat (what?!?).  As for Ga Tech, they were okay – nothing special, but not terrible. The winner here will take on 6th-seeded Clemson in the second round.

By far the most important of the three ACC games for the CTC on Wednesday is the nightcap.  10 people (Bry, Dave, Doogan, Lohse, Primm, Scoot, Stri, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers) have the upset pick of BC.  Lohse, Stri, and WaTers all have the Eagles winning again on Thursday over Clemson.  Of the 15 people that have Ga Tech here, 8 of them (Becks, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, Lazarow, Lynch, Mac, RDoc) have the Yellow Jackets winning again on Thursday.  So, either 3 or 8 people are going to lose twice with this game.  No one on either side has one of these teams beating Duke in the quarters.

Georgia Tech 73 – Boston College 70 (OT)
After blowing a 13-point lead late in the second half, the Yellow Jackets recovered and won this game in overtime on the backs of a couple huge plays by former Tennessee Volunteer, Trae Golden.  Ga Tech now moves on to face #6 Clemson in the nightcap of the ACC second round quadruple-header on Thursday.  BC’s nightmare season is now over.

Also over are Lohse, Stri, and WaTers hope for a surprise quarterfinalist.  This was an important win for the 8 people that have the Jackets beating Clemson in the second round.

CTC UPDATE

Championship Picks

  • #1 Virginia (3) – Chris, GrossSr, Stri
  • #2 Syracuse (7) – Alexi, Caleb, Colton, Dave, Primm, Scoot, WaTers
  • #3 Duke (11)
  • #4 North Carolina (2) – Lazarow, Lynch
  • #5 Pittsburgh (2) – Stumpf, Teddy

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #15 Virginia Tech (Bry, PapaCim, RDoc, Stri)
  • R2 – #14 Boston College (Lohse, Stri, WaTers)
  • QF – #8 Maryland (Alexi, Dave)
  • SF – #5 Pittsburgh (Dave, Stumpf, Teddy, WaTers)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Bry
  • 2009 – Doogan
  • 2010 – Stri
  • 2011 – Alexi
  • 2012 – Primm
  • 2013 – Caleb, Teddy

2014 Scores

2014 CTC: The Atlantic 10 (3/16)

What a job this year around the league in the A-10.  If I had told you at the end of last season that Temple, Xavier, and Butler would all leave the league, and that LaSalle and Richmond would have disappointing seasons, how many bids do you think the A-10 would be in line to get?  Two?  Three, at most?  Try six.  That is what the A-10 is staring at right now.  A potential 6 bids if everything falls right.  They are ensured of getting 4, and it would be very unlikely that they don’t get 5.  That’s fantastic for this league – a league where my heart still resides, even if my team doesn’t anymore.

Most of the championship support is among the top two seeds, as only UMass (4) was picked by anyone as an A-10 champ.  George Mason is a big sleeper for a couple of people.  Bry, Doogan, and Stumpf all tied for the 2013 A-10 CTC championship.  Bry and WaTers both have a pair of A-10 titles on their mantles and are looking for a shiny new one.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 16th – 54 points)

#2 VCU vs #4 Saint Joseph’s
God, I can’t wait for more facetime for the intolerable Phil Martelli.  Either way, though, he has the Hawks playing really well and will have them playing in next week’s tournament no matter what happens here.  How about Kanesevich going for 26 & 17 against the Bonnies?  Wow!  But, you know who else is playing well?  The Havoc.  VCU beat GW (in a game that was a lot closer than the final score) and has its defense running on all cylinders at just the right time.  This team is going to be a tough out in any tournament they play in.

No one has the Hawks here, but 10 people (Alexi, Becks, Bry, Doogan, GrossSr, Lohse, Stri, Stumpf, Teddy, WaTers) have VCU.  Stri has clinched the 2014 A-10 CTC title – his first A-10 trophy.

SEMIFINALS (March 15th – 36 points each)

#4 Saint Joseph’s vs #9 Saint Bonaventure
Is this 2012 all over again?  St. Bonaventure had an amazing run to the 2012 A-10 tournament title.  But, at least then they were the 4-seed.  They had no shot at an at-large, but this one would be much less expected.  Jordan Gathers hit a game-winning three to knock out #1-seed Saint Louis in the quarterfinals on Friday afternoon.  A little more than two hours later, Langston Galloway hit a game-winner for St. Joe’s to get past Dayton.  Now, they face off in Saturday’s semifinal for the right to play a title game on Selection Sunday.  This has really opened up for St. Joe’s, who will probably play themselves off the bubble and into the tournament with a trip to the finals.

Dave, GrossSr, Stri, and WaTers are the only 4 with any shot at points here, as they all have St. Joe’s.  None of them have the Hawks winning the title.  Obviously, no one has the Bonnies in this one.

#2 VCU vs #3 George Washington
With the top-seeded Bilikens out of the tournament, the winner of the second semifinal will be wearing the home whites in the championship game on Sunday.  VCU dominated Richmond in the quarters, while GW took care of UMass without any real trouble.  This should be a really good game between two teams that split a pair in the regular season.

Gersh and RDoc are the only two with GW winning this one.  7 people (Caleb, Dave, J, Lazarow, Lynch, Mac, Scoot) have already lost this one.  The other 16 all have VCU, including 10 (Alexi, Becks, Bry, Doogan, GrossSr, Lohse, Stri, Stumpf, Teddy, WaTers) who have the Rams winning the whole thing.

QUARTERFINALS (March 14th – 18 points each)

#1 Saint Louis vs #9 Saint Bonaventure
For most of the season, the story of the St. Louis Bilikens may have been the most underreported, underrated story in all of college hooops.  As recently as Feb 26, the Bilikens had lost two games all year – a 6-point loss to Wisconsin and a 5-point loss to Wichita State.  Other than that, they were a perfect 25-0 including 12-0 in a conference that might get 6 teams to the tournament.  But, that all changed on Feb 27, when the lowly Duquesne Dukes came into SLU and beat the Bilikens on their home floor, ending 19-game winning streak in the process.  SLU then lost at VCU two days later and Dayton at home four days after that.  They were stumbling through a 3-game losing at the worst possible time.  They righted the ship with a very nice win at UMass to end the regular season, but this team that looked so steady – with so many seniors – is, all of a sudden, showing question marks.  They are still a special team, but are they still to be trusted?  They open with a St. Bonaventure team that ended LaSalle’s season on Thursday.

Everyone except GrossSr and Lohse (who had LaSalle here) have SLU winning this game.  No one has the Bonnies.  Most of the field has SLU in the finals, with 11 people (Caleb, Chris, Colton, Gersh, Grossjr, Lazarow, PapaCim, Primm, RDoc, Scoot, Stritts) taking the Bilikens to win this tournament.

Saint Bonaventure 71 – Saint Louis 68

#4 Saint Joseph’s vs #5 Dayton
This is possibly the most interesting game in the Barclay’s Center today, as two bubblicious teams battle it out in the conference quarters.  Dayton took care of business against Fordham on Thursday and has to feel pretty good about its chances of being in the field, though a win here would go a long way.  Saint Joe’s is squarely on the bubble and, after finishing the season with back-to-back losses at GW and home to LaSalle, might need this game a little more than the Flyers.  The Hawks are led by an incredibly inconsistent guard in Langston Galloway, who can be sensational at times and disappear at others.  Look at Galloway’s last 6 games as a perfect example.  After only scoring 6 against Rhode Island, he dropped 33 on Fordham, then 7 against Dayton before 27 against the Bonnies then 10 against GW before finishing with 27 against LaSalle.  He’s a special player, but he needs to always be there for the Hawks to make a run in these one-and-done tournaments.  The strength of this St. Joe’s team, though, is its interior defense.  They rank are the 8th best team in the nation at blocking shots and that is with their tallest player at just 6’8″.  They face a Dayton team without a ton of height, so it’s a decent matchup for the Hawks, who swept the Flyers in the regular season, including 79-53 beatdown on Hawk Hill two weeks ago.

This game is a huge CTC game.  Primm has lost this game already with Mason, but the other 24 people are exactly split 12 and 12 on either side of this one.  And, even more intriguing is that 4 people on each side have their winner winning again in the semis.  Dave, GrossSr, Stri, and WaTers all have St. Joe’s in the finals.  J, Lohse, Lynch, and Stumpf all have Dayton in the finals.  Becks, Caleb, Doogan, Gersh, GrossJr, Lazarow, Scoot, and Teddy are the other 8 with Dayton here.  This could be big.

Saint Joseph’s 70 – Dayton 67

#2 VCU vs #7 Richmond
Shaka Smart’s Rams have no bad losses (worst loss at UNI is a tough place to play) and quite a few solid wins.  They have a very deep, veteran-laden team that plays that “havoc” style that lives up to its name.  So, why are they so ignored nationwide?  That’s a hard one to answer, but they are.  They are currently staring at a potential 8-seed, and I will say right now, that I would NOT want to be the 1-seed in that region.  This team can beat anyone in the country and I think they are poised to make a serious run in this tournament and the next.  Their first test here is a tough one.  Richmond, who might have an outside shot to play their way back on the bubble, is assuredly NIT-bound with a loss here.  They stayed alive by handling Duquesne on Thursday, but this is a whole other animal here.

All 25 people have VCU here, including 10 (Alexi, Becks, Bry, Doogan, GrossSr, Lohse, Stri, Stumpf, Teddy, WaTers), who have them winning it all.  A slew of other people have them in the finals, so this would bust a ton of brackets were Richmond to pull the upset here.

VCU 71 – Richmond 53

#3 George Washington vs #6 Massachusetts
UMass trailed for most of their opening round game against Rhode Island, but pulled it out setting up an excellent nightcap to a great day in Brooklyn.  The resurgence in Washington is a welcome sight for true fans of the A-10 that loves to see charter members (like both of these schools) back in the limelight.  GW, at 24-7, has no bad losses this year and boasts wins over VCU and Creighton.  Led by two senior transfers – Isaiah Armwood (Villanova) and Maurice Creek (Indiana) – and an unconventional point guard from Argentina (Patricio Garino), this GW team is going to be really tough in any tournament.  It will be interesting to see Garino try to check Chaz Williams, a matchup that might decide the outcome in this one.

Only 7 people (Chris, Gersh, GrossSr, RDoc, Stri, Stumpf, Teddy) went with GW, despite the higher seed and the bye.  Gersh and RDoc have the Colonials in the finals, so this is big for them to get back into contention.  The other 18 all have UMass here, including Dave, J, Lynch, and Mac, who went out on a limb and took this 6-seed to win 4 games in 4 days and take the A-10 title.  Caleb, Lazarow, and Scoot all have the Minutemen reaching the finals.

George Washington 85 – Massachusetts 77

SECOND ROUND (March 13th – 9 points each)

#8 LaSalle vs #9 Saint Bonaventure
What an incredibly disappointing year up on North North Broad.  After a surprising Sweet Sixteen trip a year ago, the Explorers returned just about everyone and just couldn’t get anything going this year in the noncon or conference play.  They are still dangerous, but I guess Ramon Galloway was more important than we thought.  They still have the underrated Duren and the overrated Garland in the backcourt and a decent frontcourt of Wright and Zak, but there really isn’t any depth on this team, and it has hurt them.  By the way, I saw a stat the other day – coming into this season, there had only been 3 players in Big Five history to score 1,500 points, dish out 500 assists, and get 200 steals.  Tyreek Duren became the 4th this year.  What a great career.  The Explorers will try and keep their season going at noon against a very experienced Bonnies team that doesn’t beat themselves.  They aren’t incredibly talented, but they could give a team like LaSalle fits (like they did in Olean on Jan 22).  The winner of this game will move on to face #1 Saint Louis on Friday.  The rest of the A-10 would probably rather see the Bonnies win here and just be done with a LaSalle team that is still awfully dangerous in a one-and-done scenario.

8 people (Alexi, Becks, Bry, Caleb, Dave, Doogan, J, Teddy) have the Bonnies in a minor upset here, though none of them have them beating SLU.  GrossSr, Lohse, and WaTers all have enough faith in LaSalle to have them going to the semis.

Saint Bonaventure 82 – LaSalle 72

#5 Dayton vs #13 Fordham
The Fordham Rams upset George Mason on Wednesday night to join the A-10 second round party on Thursday.  They are welcomed by a Dayton Flyer team that probably only needs to avoid a bad loss like this one to get in the Dance.  Interestingly, if they are to win today, but lose tomorrow, they are definitely on the bubble, which means that they could easily end up in the First Four, which happens to be played – on their home court.  That would be interesting, for sure, particularly since Dayton has a notoriously good homecourt advantage.  I’m not saying it’s unfair – the other team shouldn’t be in that position.  Anyway, the winner of this one takes on #4 St. Joe’s and their insanely overrated and so subtley arrogant head coach in the quarters.

No one has Fordham here, but GrossSr, Primm, and RDoc all had Mason, so they have already lost this one.  The other 22 have Dayton, including 4 (J, Lohse, Lynch, Stumpf) that have the Flyers going all the way to the finals.  8 others (Becks, Caleb, Doogan, Gersh, GrossJr, Lazarow, Scoot, Teddy) have them beating St. Joe’s in the quarters.

Dayton 87 – Fordham 74

#7 Richmond vs #10 Duquesne
The Spiders were in really good at-large shape for most of the season, especially after a Feb 22 win over LaSalle put them at 8-4 in a conference that looks to get anywhere from 5-7 bids.  Then the bottom fell out.  Four straight losses starting with bottom-feeders George Mason and Rhode Island essentially popped Richmond’s bubble.  Now, they need a big-time run in this tournament to even get back in the discussion.  That would have to start with Duquesne on Thursday.  The Dukes – a surprising 10th-seed – finished up very impressively, beating Saint Louis on the road, then nearly beating UMass, before finishing up the regular season with an 81-69 win at George Mason to clinch a bye.  Two teams going in opposite directions, but the one falling was much higher to begin with, so this should be interesting.  The winner takes on 2nd-seeded VCU on Friday.

Bry, Doogan, Grossjr, Scoot, and Stri have the Dukes in an upset here.  The other 20 all have Richmond.  No one has either of these teams beating VCU on Friday.

Richmond 76 – Duquesne 64

#6 Massachusetts vs #11 Rhode Island
UMass was the talk of the town for much of the A-10 season, but hit a skid in the middle which included losses to George Mason and Saint Bonaventure.  They should be locks for the Dance, though, but it might be a good idea to win here so that they don’t give the Committee too much to think about.  They did sweep URI in the regular season, but both games were close, hard-fought wins, including a 3-point win on Feb 26.  The Rams enter the tournament having won 3 of their last 4 to earn the bye.  They will have to slow down one of the most exciting players in the country, though in Chaz Williams.  The UMass team very vaguely reminds me of the 2000 76ers, with Williams playing a poor man’s Iverson (though he dishes more than AI did) and the rest of the team playing hard-nosed defense and hitting the glass very hard.  The winner here takes on #3 GW in the quarters on Friday.

Stri is all alone with a URI upset pick here, so he could pick up a free and clear 54 points on the field with a Rams win here.  And, maybe even more significantly, many, many brackets would be busted.  Dave, J, Lynch, and Mac all have UMass winning this tournament.  Caleb, Lazarow, and Scoot have them going to the finals.  And, everyone esxcept Chris, Gersh, GrossSr, RDoc, Stri, Stumpf, and Teddy have them beating GW in the quarters.

Massachusetts 65 – Rhode Island 61

FIRST ROUND (March 12th – 4.5 points)

#12 George Mason vs #13 Fordham
What a tough luck season as their first in the A-10 for Mason.  They lost 3 overtime games in conference (including 2 against league champion, Saint Louis).  They also were within 2 possessions of St. Joe’s, UMass, and GW.  I would not want to face this team in this tournament.  And, no one might have to because Mason also had a habit of losing to bad teams, like Forham, who beat them 76-70 on Jan 22.  The winner will join the regular 12-team tournament on Thursday with a game against #5 Dayton.

5 people (Becks, GrossJr, Lohse, Mac, Stri) went with Fordham here in a mild upset.  GrossSr, Primm, and RDoc all have Mason beating Dayton in the second round.  Primm has them winning again over St. Joe’s in the quarters.

Fordham 70 – George Mason 67
Typical for the 2013-14 George Mason Patriots.  They played good teams tough, but lost, and played bad teams tough, and lost.  Well, Fordham is a bad team, so Mason played them tough and lost.  24 offensive rebounds enabled the Rams to overcome poor shooting and move on to the second round against #5 Dayton.

Becks, GrossJr, Lohse, Mac, and Stri hit this mild upset.  GrossSr and RDoc lose a quarterfinalist.  Primm loses a semifinalist.

CTC UPDATE

Championship Picks

  • #1 Saint Louis (11) – Caleb, Chris, Colton, Gersh, Grossjr, Lazarow, PapaCim, Primm, RDoc, Scoot, Stritts
  • #2 VCU (10) – Alexi, Becks, Bry, Doogan, GrossSr, Lohse, Stri, Stumpf, Teddy, WaTers
  • #3 George Washington (0)
  • #4 Saint Joseph’s (0)
  • #5 Dayton (0)
  • #6 Massachusetts (4) – Dave, J, Lynch, Mac

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #13 Fordham (Becks, GrossJr, Lohse, Stri)
  • R2 – #12 George Mason (GrossSr, Primm, RDoc)
  • QF – #12 George Mason (Primm)
  • SF – #6 Massachusetts (Caleb, Dave, J, Lazarow, Mac, Scoot)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Waters
  • 2009 – Bry
  • 2010 – Doogan
  • 2011 – Waters
  • 2012 – Teddy
  • 2013 – Bry, Doogan, Stumpf

2014 Scores

2014 CTC: The Sun Belt (3/16)

Welcome to the brand-new Sun Belt.  Gone is North Texas.  Gone is Middle Tennessee.  Gone are FIU and FAU.  In comes UT-Arlington and Georgia State, along with more next year.  And, the Sun Belt has remade itself, while keeping up its tradition of one of the best low-major conferences around (could possibly be considered mid-major).  This year, the old stalwarts are still here and both very good – Western Kentucky and LA-Lafayette – but it was one of the newcomers that stole the show, as Georgia State, with a high-major backcourt that consists of the coach’s son, who could have played anywhere, and the starting point guard for the 2012-13 Kentucky Wildcats.  This is going to be an interesting tournament with some solid teams chasing the newbie.

19 of the 25 CTC’ers took Ga State to win this title.  The other six were split 3-3 between WKU and LA-Lafayette.  Both bottom seeds, Troy and ULM got some support as sleepers.  Lazarow is the defending Sun Belt champ, and no one has ever won this league twice, so that could happen for Lazarow, Teddy, J, Stri, or Alexi.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 16th – 30 points)

#1 Georgia State vs #3 LA-Lafayette
The Big Ten.  The ACC.  The SEC.  The Atlantic Ten……….The Sun Belt?!?!?  What in the world is the Sun Belt doing still playing on Selection Sunday?  Who do they think they are???  Anyway, Ga State – who ran away with the regular season title (and didn’t enter the tournament until Saturday) hammered Ark State in the semis.  LA-Lafayette, on the other hand, had a battle with UT-Arlington in the quarters on Friday and then a total war with their arch-rivals, Western Kentucky on Saturday, which ended in a 1-point Ragin’ Cajun victory.  Now, they face off for one of the five remaining auto-bids.  And, unless you count Saint Joe’s as a bubble team, there are no bids at stake on this day except this one.  The other 8 teams are all playing for seeding when it comes to the tournament.

Doogan, RDoc, and Teddy are the only 3 with ULL here.  Dave, GrossSr, and Scoot have already lost this one.  The other 19 all have Ga State.  Alexi and Lohse will split the 2014 Sun Belt crown with a Ga State win.  Doogan will win it if LA-Lafayette takes the title.

SEMIFINALS (March 15th – 20 points each)

#1 Georgia State vs #4 Arkansas State
It wasn’t easy for the two quarterfinal winners on Friday, but we got ourselves the top 4 Belt teams here in the semis.  (For the record, I’m not sure the Sun Belt has their tournament go all the way to Sunday – wouldn’t you (a) want to give the winner a chance to enjoy Selection Sunday and (b) wouldn’t you be afraid of one of your teams ending up in the First Four with a short preparation period?)  Top-seeded Ga State got a bye to the semfinals, so they didn’t have to play Friday.  The same cannot be said for Ark State, as they had to play a 60-minute game against their arch-rivals.  The Red Wolves (and Andy Van Slyke’s kid) survived the 4 overtimes, but it should be interesting to see what they have left today.  And, they will need a lot because Ga State is loaded.  Ryan Harrow (who started for Kentucky last year) is their point guard – and he’s not even the best player on their team.  The coach’s son, SO R.J. Hunter would be playing in some big-time program if his dad wasn’t a coach.  And, along with Hunter and Harrow, the Panthers have two sensational senior in Devonta White and Manny Atkins.  The only issue for this team is depth (their starters play more minutes than all but 12 teams in the country), but this starting five is probably better than AT LEAST half of the teams in the SEC (probably 2/3).

RDoc and Scoot are the only two that have Ark State here.  Everyone else has GSU, including 19 championship believers.

#2 Western Kentucky vs #3 LA-Lafayette
The 4-OT game didn’t only affect Ark State.  It delayed the tip of the second game well over an hour, seriously limiting the recovery time for the Ragin’ Cajuns, who won a hard-fought game over UT-Arlington.  And, now they have to face their blood rivals, who are working on a week’s rest.  The Hilltoppers, who have been struck by the injury bug this year did keep winning with hard-nosed defense, including a sweep on ULL.  This should be an excellent game.  If the Cajuns can recover from the late game last night, they could give the ‘Toppers everything they can handle.

This is a big game for the CTC, as all 25 people have a horse in this race, and it is as split as possible.  13 have ULL, while 12 went WKU (Bry, Caleb, Colton, Dave, Gersh, GrossSr, J, Lynch, Mac, PapaCim, Scoot, Stri).  Dave, GrossSr, and Scoot have the ‘Toppers winning this tournament.  Doogan, RDoc, and Teddy have the Cajuns cutting down the nets.

QUARTERFINALS (March 14th – 10 points each)

#4 Arkansas State vs #5 AR-Little Rock
The Red Wolves of Ark State have had another quietly nice season in The Belt, as former LSU coach, John Brady, continues to build his program in Jonesboro.  Led by the son of former Phillies centerfielder, Andy Van Slyke, Ark State are very experienced.  They will not be an easy out here.  Their first test is against their biggest rivals – UALR – who knocked off Troy in the opening round on Thursday.  The winner here will battle top-seeded Georgia State in the semis on Saturday.

7 people (Becks, GrossJr, J, Lazarow, Mac, PapaCim, Teddy) have UALR in a mild upset pick here.  Colton has already lost with Troy.  The other 17 all have Ark State, including RDoc and Scoot, who have the Red Wolves going to the finals.

Arkansas State 116 – AR-Little Rock 114 (4 OT)

#3 LA-Lafayette vs #6 UT-Arlington
It was another excellent season for a very under-sized Ragin’ Cajuns team, as they battled all year near the top of the conference, but couldn’t get into double-bye position, finishing behind arch-rivals WKU and newcomers Ga State.  But, the Hilltoppers await ULL in the semis for a bloodwar.  That is, if UT-Arlington can’t upset the Cajuns first.  The Mavs slipped past LA-Monroe on Thursday.

No one has UT-Arlington here, but Dave and Scoot both have LA-Monroe, so they’ve already lost.  The other 23 all have Lafayette, including Doogan, RDoc, and Teddy, who have them winning it all.  A whole host of others have the Cajuns reaching the finals before losing.

LA-Lafayette 91 – UT-Arlington 85

OPENING ROUND (March 13th – 5 points each)

#5 AR-Little Rock vs #8 Troy
This game pits two teams that probably didn’t expect to be in this opening round.  UALR was battling near the top of the league all year, so they definitely expected to at least get one of the single-byes that are awarded to the 3rd- and 4th-place teams.  But, they slipped to 5th and now have to play here on Thursday.  Troy, on the other hand, was mired near the basement of the league all year and was just hoping to get into 8th place, so as not to be eliminated before the tournament starts (Texas State and preseason pick for 2nd place, South Alabama are the ones that didn’t qualify).  But, they won just enough games to get in and now the slate is clean and they are 4 wins from Dancing.  The winner here takes on 4th-seeded Arkansas State inthe quarters.

7 people (Bry, Caleb, Chris, Colton, Doogan, RDoc, Stri) have the Troy Trojans in a decent upset here.  Colton has them going to the semis.  7 people (Becks, GrossJr, J, Lazarow, Mac, PapaCim, Teddy) have UALR winning a pair of games in this tournament.

AR-Little Rock 74 – Troy 61

#6 UT-Arlington vs #7 LA-Monroe
The other newcomer, UTA, also had a decent inaugural season here in The Belt.  They played much better in the second half of the year than the first.  The Mavericks lean heavily on their stud senior, Brandon Edwards, who is trying to extend a terrific career.  UTA opens with a team that is used to being the doormat of this league, ULM.  And, the Warhawks did it with one of their most important players (Amos Olatayo) injured for much of the year.  Monroe, LA, is better well-known for being the home of Duck Dynasty, but this basketball team is capturing the attention of the locals.  #3 LA-Lafayette awaits the winner of this one in a quarterfinal matchup on Friday.

The majority of the picks are for the underdog here, as only 11 people (Alexi, Caleb, Chris, Colton, Doogan, GrossJr, J, Lohse, Lynch, RDoc, Teddy) have UTA.  None of them have the Mavericks beating ULL in the quarters.  Dave and Scoot both have ULM winning here and then taking out their big rivals, ULL, in the quarters.

UT-Arlington 68 – LA-Monroe 65

CTC UPDATE

Championship Picks

  • #1 Georgia State (19)
  • #2 Western Kentucky (3) – Dave, GrossSr, Scoot
  • #3 LA-Lafayette (3) – Doogan, RDoc, Teddy

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #8 Troy (Bry, Caleb, Chris, Colton, Doogan, RDoc, Stri)
  • QF – #8 Troy (Colton)
  • SF – #4 Arkansas State (RDoc, Scoot)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Alexi
  • 2009 – Ina
  • 2010 – Stri
  • 2011 – J
  • 2012 – Teddy
  • 2013 – Lazarow

2014 Scores

2014 CTC: The Mountain West (3/15)

The Mountain West feels to me like one of those bands that you liked a whole lot when no one had ever heard of them and then a new album goes mainstream, and everyone loves them and you want to scream “I knew they were awesome before anyone had ever heard of them,” but nobody would even care more than a shrug of the shoulders if you did.  I have loved this conference for a very long time and reveled in its rise to prominence, but now I think it be a little too hyped, particularly since BYU left a couple years ago (can anyone tell me why they thought the WCC was an upgrade?).  But, there is still some AWESOME basketball in this conference even if this year was a major down year for the MW.  They still have two teams that I could argue are elite, Final Four contenders and then a whole lot of don’t-sleep-on-me teams – all the way down to Fresno State and even Air Force.

Top-seeded San Diego State got the majority (17) of the championship picks here.  New Mexico got 6 of the other 8, with Boise State picking up the remaining 2.  No one has anyone lower than Boise doing much of anything.  GrossSr is trying to defend his 2013 MWC title this year.  J is the only one that has more than one MWC championship.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 15th – 48 points)

#1 San Diego State vs #2 New Mexico
I’m not gonna lie, of all the great games on tap for today, this might be the one I am most looking forward to.  These two teams have become fierce rivals, particularly this year, when they are both head and shoulders above the rest of the league.  Both teams had tougher tests in the semis than they expected, but both survived to give us the rubber match that we were looking for.  SDSU took care of tournament host, UNLV, while New Mexico had to deal with a Boise team that really wanted to extend their season.  Can’t wait for this one.

This is as big as it gets here in the CTC.  Becks and Lohse are the only two with nothing at stake here.  7 people (Bry, J, Mac, Primm, Stritts, Stumpf, Teddy) have New Mexico here.  The other 16 all have the Aztecs.  A New Mexico title will give J the MWC title outright and a perfect MWC.  If SDSU wins, we will have a 4-way tie between Alexi, Gersh, RDoc, and Stri – who would all be perfect.

SEMIFINALS (March 14th – 32 points each)

#1 San Diego State vs #4 UNLV
San Diego State held Utah State to 39 points in a 73-39 blowout (interestingly, Arizona beat Utah at about the same time on Thursday, 71-39), flexing their muscles for the rest of the league to see.  Meanwhile, UNLV – at home against an really undermanned Wyoming team – barely won, but won just the same, setting what could be an interesting semifinal if the Rebels come to play, since they are tough to beat in this building.

Primm, Stritts, Stumpf, and Teddy went for the UNLV upset pick, while the other 21 all have SDSU.  16 people took the Aztecs to win this tournament.

San Diego State 59 – UNLV 51

#2 New Mexico vs #6 Boise State
With Boise’s “upset” of Nevada, we got the 4 best MWC teams to the semifinals, setting up what could be a great night in Vegas.  New Mexico handled a hot Fresno team to get here and are one step away from the much-anticipated rubber match with San Diego St.  But, Boise is not done yet – they want a return trip to the Dance and the only way they will get it is to win two more games.

This is a big swing game in the CTC, actually.  23 people still have a shot at points here, as only Colton and Dave had Nevada here and have already lost.  8 people (Becks, GrossSr, Lazarow, Lohse, Lynch, PapaCim, Scoot, WaTers) have Boise here, with Becks, Lohse, and Lynch going for Boise to take down what would be a lucrative championship for them.  The other 15 all have the Lobos, including 7 (Bry, J, Mac, Primm, Stritts, Stumpf, Teddy) who have UNM winning this tournament.

New Mexico 70 – Boise State 67

QUARTERFINALS (March 13th – 16 points each)

#1 San Diego State vs #8 Utah State
I am not surprised that the Mountain West had a team in the top 10 in the country for most of the year, and I’m not surprised that they have a team that has a real outside shot at a #1-seed in the NCAA Tournament.  I actually thought that New Mexico would be a top 10 team.  Wait…what?  It wasn’t New Mexico?  It was San Diego State?  Wow!  Another fantastic coaching job by the great Steve Fisher, as he just flat-out develops players.  Xavier Thames is his newest creation – the all-everything point guard who wasn’t all-anything before Fisher got his hooks into him.  Now, the Aztecs are legitimately relevant nationally and ready for the Dance.  They open the MWC tournament with a Utah State team that pulled a Houdini-like escape in their opening round game with Colorado State.

All 25 people have SDSU winning this one, with 16 of them picking the Aztecs to cut down the nets.

San Diego State 73 – Utah State 39

#4 UNLV vs #5 Wyoming
This UNLV team is not your typical UNLV team in that, well, they weren’t all that good.  Part of that was because of an injury to Roscoe Jones (who is now healthy) and a suspension to Bryce DeJean-Jones (who has been reinstated), but even at full strength, they were lackluster.  They caught a break with their quarterfinal matchup though (ya know, other than playing the whole tournament on their campus – like usual) in that Wyoming’s best player, Larry Nance Jr., is out with a broken leg.  Without Nance, the Cowboys offense is inept and they lose probably the best rim-protector in the M-West on defense.  But, anything can happen in March.

Only 5 (Becks, Caleb, Colton, Lynch, PapaCim) went with Wyoming here – none taking them any further.  Of the 20 with UNLV, Primm, Stritts, Stumpf, and Teddy all have them going to the finals.  This is probably the first CTC ever where no one took UNLV to win this tournament.

UNLV 71 – Wyoming 67

#2 New Mexico vs #7 Fresno State
I still think the Lobos have top 10 talent.  And, that was before I knew that Cameron Bairstow would turn into an absolute stud overnight.  The most improved player in the country, Bairstow went from a nice role player to possibly usurping his teammate, Kendall Williams, for MWC Player of the Year.  And, they are very well-coached by Noodles Neal, who has a wealth of NBA experience along with a pretty nice Harley.  Neal’s kid, Cullen, is a rising star, as well.  This is a fun team to watch and is probably smarting from the loss to Harvard in the tournament last year.  They open the MWC with a Fresno team that has been playing well, but who barely survived Air Force in the opening round.

All 25 entries have UNM winning here.  7 of them (Bry, J, Mac, Primm, Stritts, Stumpf, Teddy) have the Lobos winning it all.

New Mexico 93 – Fresno State 77

#3 Nevada vs #6 Boise State
These seedings should be switched.  Boise is the 3rd-best team in the conference and Nevada is the 7th.  But, the wins and losses didn’t show that, so Boise had to play an opening round game to get to this matchup.  Well, they sort of had to play it.  San Jose State didn’t really show up, as the Broncos led 46-14 at the half and cruised to a 31-point win.  Now, they get a shot at a Nevada team that seems to be doing it with smoke and mirrors.

Despite the better seed and the first-round bye, only 6 people (Chris, Colton, Dave, Mac, Primm, Teddy) have Nevada here.  Colton and Dave have the Wolfpack reaching the finals.  The other 19 all have Boise here with 5 having them losing in the finals (GrossSr, Lazarow, PapaCim, Scoot, WaTers) and 3 having them win it all (Becks, Lohse, Lynch).

Boise State 75 – Nevada 62

OPENING ROUND (March 12th – 8 points each)

#8 Utah State vs #9 Colorado State
Larry Eustachy’s squad took a real step backwards in Fort Collins this year, but that was to be expected with the massive graduation losses the Rams had.  They will have just about everybody back next year, so they may return to some sort of quality form, though just because they’re coming back doesn’t necessarily make them any better on the court.  The Rams will take on a Utah State team that expected to make a bigger splash in their first year in a borderline power conference.  They didn’t – even at home, where they have historically been unbeatable…they believe – and now they have to figure out if they can recruit the athletes to compete at this level.  I am not saying they can’t, but the M-West and the WAC are totally different ballgames on a night-in and night-out basis.  The winner here will take on #1 San Diego State in the quarters.

11 people (Bry, Caleb, Chris, Doogan, GrossJr, GrossSr, Lazarow, Mac, PapaCim, Stumpf, Teddy) have CSU in the minor upset here.  No one has either of these teams beating San Diego State in the quarters.

Utah State 73 – Colorado State 69
MADNESS!!!  With 1:35 left in the game, Colorado State led 66-57.  You see the final…WOW!  Spencer Butterfield hit the big three to complete one of the craziest comebacks you’ll see during these two weeks.  What a devastating way for the Rams season to end.  Utah State will play with house money on Thursday against #1 San Diego State.

11 people missed out on the upset pick here in dramatic fashion.

#7 Fresno State vs #10 Air Force
Fresno State enters the MWC tournament playing as well as anyone outside the two elite teams.  They have a nice combination of experience and youth and have won 8 of their last 10.  They are one of the best teams in the nation at protecting the ball, as they only turn the ball over on an incredible 14.3% of possessions (which ranks 8th in the nation).  They take on an Air Force team that they beat twice this year and that ranks 305th in the nation in turnovers committed.  However, AFA has been pretty solid and pretty tough to beat this year.  Both teams have real sleeper potential, but unfortunately they are lined up with #2 New Mexico in the quarters, who probably won’t fall victim to falling asleep.

7 people (Bry, Caleb, Dave, Lazarow, Primm, Scoot, Stritts) have AFA here.  No one has either of these teams beating New Mexico in the quarters.

Fresno State 61 – Air Force 59
While it wasn’t as mad as the first game, this was another devastating collapse in the waning minutes.  With 2:28 left, Air Force held a 57-51 lead, but was outscored 10-2 to finish the game, including two clutch free throws by Alex Davis to keep alive the sleeper potential of Fresno, who is playing really well.  Despite the 10th-place finish in a down MWC, Air Force actually had a decent season marred with close losses – and that’s exactly how it ends.

7 people miss the upset pick here.  Bry, Caleb, and Lazarow must already be sick of the Mountain West tournament, as those three all fell victim to BOTH of these crazy comebacks to spoil upset picks.

#6 Boise State vs #11 San Jose State
Boise State was supposed to have a really, really special year.  They didn’t.  They had everyone back off of a tournament team and just floundered all season long.  They played okay in the noncon, but didn’t pick up any quality wins.  Then, into conference play, they stumbled over and over, finishing in the middle of a down MWC.  That said, they still had a shot to pull out a decent season until the final 4 games when they suffered a 20-point loss at Fresno, a double-OT home loss to Nevada, and an OT loss to Air Force.  The collapse was complete.  And, what doesn’t make any sense is that they have two of the best guards in mid-major land – Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks.  Fortunately, for them, while they didn’t get a bye, they do get the next best thing – a game against a putrid SJSU team.  The winner of this one (almost assuredly Boise) will take on #3 Nevada – another winnable game.  There is really a clear path for the Broncos to make the semis here and then take their chances with the big boys.

No one has San Jose State beating Boise in this game, but this is still quite the important game for CTC.  Becks and Lohse have Boise winning the whole thing.  GrossSr, Lazarow, PapaCim, Scoot, and WaTers have them going to the finals, but losing.  A whole slew of other entries have them beating Nevada before losing in the semis.

Boise State 83 – San Jose State 52
It turns out Boise did get a first round bye after all.  There isn’t much to say about a game that was 46-14 at halftime.  That’s an embarrassing introduction to the MWC tournament for SJSU.  Boise moves on to the quarters to face Nevada.

Everyone got this right, including quite a few with a lot at stake, particularly Becks and Lohse, who have BSU winning this tournament.

CTC UPDATE

Championship Picks

  • #1 San Diego State (16)
  • #2 New Mexico (7) – Bry, J, Mac, Primm, Stritts, Stumpf, Teddy
  • #3 Nevada (0)
  • #4 UNLV (0)
  • #5 Wyoming (0)
  • #6 Boise State (2) – Becks, Lohse

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #10 Air Force (Bry, Caleb, Dave, Lazarow, Primm, Scoot, Stritts)
  • QF – #6 Boise State (many)
  • SF – #6 Boise State (Becks, GrossSr, Lazarow, Lohse, PapaCim, Scoot, WaTers)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – J
  • 2009 – Lynch
  • 2010 – Stri
  • 2011 – Bry, J (perfect)
  • 2012 – RDoc (perfect)
  • 2013 – GrossSr, LohseJr

2014 Scores

2014 CTC: The Pac-12 (3/15)

A nice bit of resurgence for a very proud conference that has been taking a beating (on and off the court) as they hit the perfect storm of coaching changes, early NBA entries, and just down programs.  But, they seem to be out of the doldrums and back on the national landscape as one of the absolutely elite conferences (personally, I think this was easily a Top 5 conference, possibly as high as 3rd).  Arizona is the real deal and then you have quality teams at UCLA, Arizona State, Cal, and even Oregon.  Colorado was excellent until they lost their best player, and Utah is has terrifying sleeper potential.

Not surprisingly, Arizona grabbed the majority of the CTC title support, but what was surprising is that the only two other teams picked (with 4 each) were #2 UCLA and #7 Oregon.  That’s right, 7 people like the Ducks to win the whole thing.  Utah is the lowest seed picked to reach the finals.  #12 USC is supported by one to reach the semis.  Doogan, Lazarow, and PapaCim all split the 2013 Pac-12 championship, so any of the 3 of them can claim back-to-back wins this year.  For Doogan, it would be his 3rd Pac-12 title, as he is currently the only one with multiple titles in this conference.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 15th – 60 points)

#1 Arizona vs #2 UCLA
The Pac-12 finale is between the top 2 teams in the regular season, who both looked the part in the tournament.  Arizona has only given up 82 points in TWO games in this tournament, while UCLA also has back-to-back blowouts over Oregon and Stanford.  This is a sneaky good game on a busy Saturday.

Becks, GrossSr, Teddy, and WaTers are the only 4 with UCLA here.  17 people (Alexi, Bry, Caleb, Chris, Colton, Dave, Gersh, GrossJr, J, Mac, PapaCim, Primm, RDoc, Scoot, Stri, Stritts, Stumpf) have Arizona.  An Arizona win will give Mac the 2014 Pac-12 title.  A UCLA win will give GrossSr and Teddy a split title.

SEMIFINALS (March 14th – 40 points each)

#1 Arizona vs #5 Colorado
Colorado survived a bad USC team, 59-56, in the opening round, and then sent the Cal Bears to the NIT with another 59-56 win in Thursday’s quarterfinals.  Now, they take on an Arizona team that embarrassed Utah, 71-39 (ironically, San Diego State beat Utah State 73-39 at about the same time as this game yesterday).

No one has Colorado winning this game, though Becks and Lohse have already lost it with Utah.  The other 23 all have Arizona, 17 of whom took the ‘Cats to win this tournament.

Arizona 63 – Colorado 43

#2 UCLA vs #6 Stanford
If there was any doubt about Stanford’s at-large hopes, it was completely erased with a dominating win over Arizona State.  I wonder if this puts the Sun Devils on the bubble…  Anyway, Stanford moves on to face a UCLA team that is actually somewhat under the radar right now.  The Bruins manhandled Oregon on Thursday and look pretty good right now.

Dave and PapaCim still have alive a huge upset pick of Stanford going to the finals.  If they are right, they will pick up a cool 100 points here.  Surprisingly, only 9 people (Becks, Gersh, GrossSr, Mac, Scoot, Stritts, Stumpf, Teddy, WaTers) have 2nd-seeded UCLA winning this game.  Becks, GrossSr, Teddy, and WaTers all have them winning the tournament.

UCLA 84 – Stanford 59

QUARTERFINALS (March 13th – 20 points each)

#1 Arizona vs #8 Utah
The Runnin’ Utes took care of business against Washington on Wednesday afternoon and now get the ultimate test in the Pac-12, Sean Miller’s Wildcats.  Arizona looked, for much of the season, as the best team in the country.  And, I think they were before the Brandon Ashley injury.  Now, without their star big man, they are still very, VERY good and one of the solid picks to win the national championship this year.  I have said for three years now that Nick Johnson is the heart and soul of this team, and this year has been no exception.  He is fantastic.  When this team gets going, they are hard to beat because they suffocating defense is always there, so if they can get consistent offense, watch out.  These two teams met on Feb 19 when the Utes took Arizona to OT before losing 67-63, so the stage is set for a pretty solid appetizer to a nice day of West Coast hoops.  If Utah does win here, don’t they have to go into the bubble talk?  Or, am I crazy?

Becks and Lohse are the only two with Utah winning here – and they both actually have the Utes going to the finals.  Most of the field have Arizona winning this whole tournament, so anyone that doesn’t (Becks, Doogan, GrossSr, Lohse, Lynch, Teddy, WaTers) is probably rooting for Utah here regardless of who they have.

Arizona 71 – Utah 39

#4 California vs #5 Colorado
Time and time again, I have said that I want Tom Izzo for a season, Mike Kyzsdfasldkfjasdlfkjas for a tournament, Larry Brown for a practice, and Mike Montgomery for one game.  He is the best in-game basketball coach alive, in my opinion, and he is at his best with smart kids (Stanford before and Cal now).  He is not the recruiter he once was, so the Bears are probably not heading for any significant national attention any time soon, but they will always be relevant and in the tournament discussion because Montgomery is that good.  And, he put a team with Justin Cobbs and not much else into 4th place in the Pac-12 and a likely spot in the tournament.  Though, he might want to beat Colorado here in the quarters to make sure.  The Buffs survived a real scare from USC on Wednesday and should be in already.

Only 11 people (Bry, Colton, Dave, Doogan, Gersh, GrossJr, Primm, Scoot, Stritts, Teddy, WaTers) have Cal here.  GrossSr has already lost with USC.  The other 13 all have Colorado.  No one has either of these teams going further than this game.

Colorado 59 – California 56

#2 UCLA vs #7 Oregon
One of the marquee matchups around the country today is the quarterfinal between UCLA and an Oregon team that has refound its stride just in the nick of time.  The Ducks took care of Oregon State on Wednesday to set up this excellent quarterfinal.  UCLA has had a decent year – their first under Steve Alford – and has an interesting roster.  Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams – two outstanding holdovers from last year’s “incredible” recruiting class whose underachievement ended the UCLA career of Ben Howland (though the underachievement was mostly Shabazz Mohammad’s – Anderson and Adams saved 2013 for the Bruins) – are back and playing very well.  The Wear twins still patrol the middle along with Norman Powell, but neither of the twins ever really developed an offensive game.  And, then there’s the brilliant freshman off the bench who had NBA scouts salivating over his athleticism, Zach LaVine.  Oh, and big, fat Tony Parker and actually pretty good son-of-the-coach, Bryce Alford.  It’s a fascinating roster to see work together, and when they do work together, they’re phenomenal, but it just happens to tantalizingly rarely.

In a 5x conference, this game is about as big as a quarterfinal can get in the CTC.  13 people have the Ducks, while 12 took UCLA (Becks, Colton, Dave, Gersh, GrossSr, Mac, PapaCim, Scoot, Stritts, Stumpf, Teddy, WaTers).  4 people (Becks, GrossSr, Teddy, WaTers) have UCLA winning the whole thing, while 4 others (Doogan, Lazarow, Lohse, Lynch) have Oregon winning it all.  Colton, Dave, PapaCim, and Primm are the only 4 that don’t have one of these two teams in the finals.

UCLA 82 – Oregon 63

#3 Arizona State vs #6 Stanford
A fascinating game closes out the Pac-12 quadruple-header on Thursday, as two teams at the bottom of “in” battle it out for a spot in the semis and for a whole lot more comfort on Sunday night.  I think Az State is in regardless, and Stanford probably is too, though they are closer.  The Sun Devils have leaned on all-everything PG Jahii Carson just like they should.  And, if anyone knows what to do it’s another coach on the All-Underrated Team and that’s Herb Sendak.  Coach Sendak is a master at substitution patterns and set-plays – two areas where coaches absolutely can make a tangible impact.  If you stay up to watch this game, try and keep in mind how much better Arizona State is out of timeouts than Stanford.  The differential between the in-game coaching abilities of these two can be quite astounding.

The Sun Devils have very little support here as the 3-seed.  Only 8 people (Colton, Doogan,. Lazarow, Lohse, Lynch, Primm, RDoc, WaTers) have them winning this game.  Colton and Primm have them in the finals.  On the other hand, 17 people have Stanford here, including Dave and PapaCim, who have the Cardinal in the final.

Stanford 79 – Arizona State 58

OPENING ROUND (March 12th – 10 points each)

#8 Utah vs #9 Washington
The Washington Cougars are such a frustrating team every year – and, for that, I blame the coach.  I don’t know why everyone thinks Lorenzo Romar is such a good coach.  He’s a great recruiter, but what has he really done with all this talent?  Very little.  Now, they’re actually short on talent these days, too, which is a bad thing.  They open the Pac-12 tourney as the 9-seed against an up-and-coming Utah team that really looked like a tournament team in conference play (too bad their noncon SOS was pretty bad outside of a great win over BYU), but they are going to fall short.  But, watch out Pac-12 – if not this year, then next with their sensation JR backcourt of Delon Wright and Jordan Loveridge.  The winner of this game will get to face #1 Arizona.  If Utah wins here and then beats Arizona, I wonder if they get bubble consideration.

11 people (Colton, GrossJr, GrossSr, Lazarow, PapaCim, Primm, Scoot, Stritts, Stumpf, Teddy, WaTers) went with the mild upset of Washington.  Becks and Lohse not only were among the 14 with Utah here, but they both have the Utes winning on Wednesday, beating Arizona on Thursday, and then winning again on Friday to reach the finals.

Utah 67 – Washington 61
The surprising Utes season continues as another underachieving Washington season does not. The Utes got 28 from Wright and Loveridge and will now get to greet the #3 team in the nation in the quarterfinal opener on Thursday.

14 people got this right, and Becks and Lohse both keep alive a surprise finalist here.

#5 Colorado vs #12 USC
This season is about what could have been for the Buffs.  They have an excellent team that revolved around all-everything guard Spencer Dinwiddie.  But, when Dinwiddie tore his ACL short after the start of conference play, everything changed in Boulder.  They have still done enough to get to the Dance, but they really aren’t the team that they were before the Dinwiddie injury.  As for USC, well, it was an interesting first year of the Andy Enfield Experiment, which I would say has been not so great so far.  Any team that finishes behind Wazzu this year is bad.  The winner here gets to take on the best coach in the country in the quarters.

6 people (Bry, Doogan, GrossJr, GrossSr, Primm, WaTers) have USC with a big upset here.  GrossSr went with the Trojans again on Thursday to beat Cal.  A dozen people (Alexi, Becks, Caleb, Chris, J, Lazarow, Lohse, Lynch, PapaCim, RDoc, Stri, Stumpf) all have Colorado going to the quarters, but none have them in the semis.

Colorado 59 – USC 56
Without Spencer Dinwiddie, the Buffs have turned to Askia Booker to lead the way, and he came up huge on Wednesday avoiding what would have been a really bad loss.  The Buffs need to regroup in time for a date with Mike Montgomery’s Cal Bears.

6 people miss the upset here, while 12 people keep alive their shot at pulling off a Colorado over Cal upset.

#7 Oregon vs #10 Oregon State
“Chemistry” is something that the “advanced metrics” people don’t believe in – and, with hostility, will tell those who do believe in it that they are stupid.  And, it’s things like that that force me to distance myself from “those people” even though this turn towards analytics fascinates me.  Anyway, the reason I mention this now is because Oregon started the season without their point guard, Dominic Artis.  So, the Ducks threw in his backup, 5’8″ Jonathan Lloyd.  With Lloyd, Oregon started 13-0.  After a 4-game losing streak, Artis was rushed back into the starting lineup.  The Ducks went 2-4 with Artis as the starter (the 2 wins were against USC and Wazzu).  After being swept by the Arizona schools, coach Altman decided to go back to Lloyd and start bringing Artis off the bench.  7 straight wins later, including wins over UCLA, Arizona State, and the nation’s #1 team, Arizona, and the team is rolling once again.  Is it because of “chemistry?”  Maybe not, but I’m not ruling it out.  Now, the Ducks, with Lloyd as the starter, will take on their in-state rivals for the right to take on #2 UCLA in the quarters.

Bracket-buster potential here!  Doogan, Lazarow, Lohse, Lynch all put their Pac-12 champion at stake here in the opening round.  8 more (Alexi, Bry, Caleb, Chris, GrossJr, J, RDoc, Stri) have the Ducks reaching the finals.  Primm is actually the only one that has them reaching the semis and losing that round, but he does have them over ASU.  If you’re scoring at home, that is 13 people that are risking multiple game with 7th-seeded Oregon on Wednesday, including 4 that have them winning the whole thing.  Dave, PapaCim, Stumpf, and Teddy would love to see the brackets busted, as those 4 have Oregon State here.

Oregon 88 – Oregon State 74
The Ducks looked pretty good in dismissing their cross-state rivals in the opening round here in Vegas.  This is probably not what UCLA wanted to happen on this night, as they can’t be happy to face the Ducks in the quarters.  It will be interesting to see if the First Brother-in-Law will keep his job after another bad year in Corvallis.

Brackets were not busted here.  Doogan, Lazarow, Lohse, and Lynch all keep alive their champion.  8 more keep a finalist.  4 people missed a decent upset pick here.

#6 Stanford vs #11 Washington State
Coach Johnny Dawkins had a public ultimatum – go to the NCAA tournament or look for a new job.  Well, it looks pretty safe for Mr. Dawkins, as the Cardinal are sitting pretty comfortably in at-large position.  They would be well-served not to lose to Wazzu, though, as that would constitute a “bad” loss by any measure.  The winner here will take on #3 Arizona State on Thursday.

Wazzu is the only team in the bracket that was picked by nobody, as all 25 people have Stanford here.  17 people have Stanford winning again over Az State in the quarters.  Dave and PapaCim have the most on the line with the Cardinal, as they have them in the finals.

Stanford 74 – Washington State 63
The Cardinal – and Johnny Dawkins – were scared for a while, but finally turned it on to take care of a really bad Wazzu team.  It wasn’t promising, though, as they had 72 of their 74 points from their starters – that is not a recipe for winning four games in four days.  They go for two in two days on Thursday against Arizona State.

Everyone got this one right, including 17 that keep a semifinalist alive.  Dave and PapaCim keep a finalist.

CTC UPDATE

Championship Picks

  • #1 Arizona (17)
  • #2 UCLA (4) – Becks, GrossSr, Teddy, WaTers
  • #3 Arizona State (0)
  • #4 California (0)
  • #5 Colorado (0)
  • #6 Stanford (0)
  • #7 Oregon (4) – Doogan, Lazarow, Lohse, Lynch

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #12 USC (Bry, Doogan, GrossJr, GrossSr, Primm, WaTers)
  • QF – #12 USC (GrossSr)
  • SF – #8 Utah (Becks, Lohse)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Doogan
  • 2009 – Alexi
  • 2010 – Stri
  • 2011 – Lynch
  • 2012 – GrossJr
  • 2013 – Doogan, Lazarow, PapaCim

2014 Scores

2014 CTC: The Big East (3/15)

The New Big East not like the Old Big East, that’s for sure, but there are a lot of things to like better about this new version.  I like that it really does have that basketball feel to it.  I’m not even sure what that means, but there’s something about Georgetown, Saint John’s, Marquette that feel totally basketballish because of their lack of football teams.  I also like the additions of Creighton, Xavier, and Butler.  They definitely fit well.  And, the one best thing that hasn’t changed is that this tournament is in The Garden.  I was a well-known critic and opponent of the Old Big East, but there is one thing that I never talked bad on and that was the incredible conference tournament that they put on every year in the World’s Most Famous Arena.  So many of my favorite college basketball memories are from that tournament.  Maybe the thing that I am most eager about seeing this year during these two weeks is will this Big East tournament still have that “magic” that the old one did.  I kind of think it will, actually, and I’m excited to see if that is just wishful thinking.

By far the most popular CTC champion pick here was #2 Creighton, who got 15 picks for the title.  #1 Villanova got 7, and #5 Saint John’s actually got 3.  No one went for #3 Xavier or #4 Providence.  We did get a Marquette finalist pick as well as a Butler semifinalist pick.  Mac is the defending Big East champ.  Doogan is the only one that has won this league more than once – he did so in the first two years of the “Modern Era.”

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 15th – 60 points)

#2 Creighton vs #4 Providence
Not only did Providence get the big bubble boost from the win over Saint John’s in the quarterfinals, they also got a break with Seton Hall beating Villanova, so they only had to knock off the Cinderella Pirates in the semis to get a shot at the auto-bid.  Either way, I think a good showing here should finish the job for the Friars.  As for Creighton, Dougie Buckets poured in another 32 on Friday night in a tight semifinal win over Xavier.  This is really getting ridiculous how inbelievable this guy is.  No, seriously.  Anyway, one last MSG act for Dougie to play.

No one has Providence here, while 15 people (Becks, Caleb, Chris, Colton, GrossJr, J, Lazarow, Lynch, Mac, Primm, RDoc, Scoot, Stritts, Stumpf, Teddy) have the Blue Jays.  Colton has already wrapped up the 2014 Big East CTC title.

SEMIFINALS (March 14th – 40 points each)

#4 Providence vs #9 Seton Hall
After the Madness died down, the Big East went to form.  But, it was that first shot that rattled the cages of the New Big East, as Austin Gibbs’ little brother sent the top-seeded Wildcats back to the Main Line.  Providence gets the break of facing the Hall instead of the #3-ranked team in the country here in the semis, as they try and cement their at-large qualifications.  The Friars got a HUGE win over St. John’s on Thurday, 69-64.

Colton is the only one with any shot at points here, as he has Providence winning this one.  If they do, he will pick up a quick 85 points on the rest of the field.  If Seton Hall pulls off another miracle, the game will be zeroed out.

Providence 80 – Seton Hall 74

#2 Creighton vs #3 Xavier
Dougie Mac does it again, breaking the Big East tournament record for points in a half – in his very first half of Big East tournament action.  Creighton crushed DePaul and looks like a team on a mission.  Xavier really impressed winning a hard-fought, tough game against Marquette in the nightcap on Thursday.  Now, this becomes a pretty huge game between two teams in their first Big East tournament – one of them will be invited guests to the annual NYC championship party on Saturday night.

PapaCim and WaTers are the only two with Xavier here.  Alexi, who had Marquette, has already lost this.  The other 22 people all have Creighton, including 15 who have the Blue Jays taking this title.

Creighton 86 – Xavier 78

QUARTERFINALS (March 13th – 20 points each)

#1 Villanova vs #9 Seton Hall
This might not go over well with a few of our new CTC entries, but I hate Villanova.  I always have.  Okay, let me rephrase that – officially, for the record – I used to hate Villanova.  The last thing I needed to bury the hatchet from the pompous, arrogant, Main Liners disbanding the Big Five was this New Big East.  Now, I take all of those adjectives back.  Rollie is long gone, and I like Jay Wright.  They still don’t bring in Philly kids, but that’s probably for the better because Temple probably can’t compete on the recruiting trail with ‘Nova (ya, I can admit it).  And, now they are no longer in the holier-than-thou, overrated Big East.  They are in a really good, actually underrated Big East, with quality programs that I like to root for.  And, being outside of Philly sort of softens the intra-city rivalries because I can now be proud of my hometown.  Anyway, as for the current ‘Nova team.  It makes me wonder why I ever hated them.  They – like always – play hard without superstars and they just flat-out win.  In fact, if Greg Marshall doesn’t win national coach of the year, then it BETTER be Jay Wright.  There is no doubt in my mind that Jay Wright has been one of the two best coaches in the country this year.  I mean, they’re pretty talented and deep, but to go through a pretty brutal schedule having only lost to two teams (Syracuse and Creighton) is AMAZING.  A championship here at the Garden, and the ‘Cats are a #1-seed.  No questions asked.  They open their possible run on Thursday at noon against a Seton Hall team that survived a tough game that ended less than 15 hours before this game will tip.  Pretty unfair that this game is at noon, but I guess that’s another perk of being the top seed.

Everyone except Colton, who had Butler here, has Villanova winning this game.  7 people (Alexi, Bry, Doogan, Gersh, GrossSr, PapaCim, WaTers) have the ‘Cats cutting down the Garden’s nets on Saturday night.

Seton Hall 64 – Villanova 63

#4 Providence vs #5 Saint John’s
This is probably a loser-goes-home game in the Big East, as both teams are squarely on the bubble right now.  Providence has two studs, but only one has actually played like one this year.  Bryce Cotton has been spectacular, but where the hell has Kadeem Batts been?  If Batts had played all year like he’s capable, then this bubble talk would not be happening.  But, the Friars have been playing well, winning 4 of their last 6, with the only two losses a double-OT loss to Nova and a loss at Creighton.  As for Saint John’s, this team is fascinating.  They have so much freaking talent and so little sense of how to actually play basketball.  And, as good as Steve Lavin is for a program like SJU, he’s not exactly known for his preaching of fundamentals and getting guys to “play the right way.”  Either way, this is a GIGANTIC game for both of these teams.  One other thing – when we think back to all those tournaments in the Garden, we think of Syracuse and Pitt and UConn and even Notre Dame, to a certain extent, as having this big advantage in the Garden.  But, we never think about the Big East team that ACTUALLY PLAYS ITS HOME GAMES THERE.  Weird…

This is actually a pretty one-sided CTC game for such a toss-up actual game.  Only 7 people (Alexi, Caleb, Colton, GrossSr, J, Primm, Scoot) have the Friars here with only Colton taking them to go to the finals.  As for the Redmen (another name I refuse to change), 3 people (Dave, Lohse, Stri) have them winning the whole thing, while 4 more (Lazarow, Mac, Stritts, Teddy) have them in the finals.

Providence 79 – Saint John’s 74

#2 Creighton vs #10 DePaul
And, so we get to see Mr. Doug McDermott.  He had his Senior Night and all he did was pass Oscar Robertson for 8th on the all-time scoring list, then hit 3,000 career points, then pass Hersey Hawkins for 7th all-time (and 1st all-time in the Valley), then hit 40 for the night, then top his career-high, before finishing with 45.  Is there anything this guy can’t do.  I mean, honestly, he just passed freaking Oscar Robertson.  That’s ridiculous.  If there were two things that PapaCim drilled in me about my own game, it was (1) develop your off-hand, and (2) moving without the ball is the best way for a shooter to get open.  And, McDermott exemplifies both of these things – particularly the latter – better than anyone I have ever seen.  I guess it’s no surprise that he’s the son of a coach.  Now, the McDermotts will take on a surprise DePaul team in the quarters.  I think DePaul only won last night because I forgot my annual “I love Oliver Purnell” paragraph.  No, honestly, Gary Parrish of CBS pointed this out a couple years ago, and it stuck with me ever since.  Imagine Oliver Purnell’s life.  He has made MILLIONS of dollars coaching basketball in major conference for schools in major cities like Boston, Atlanta, and now Chicago.  And, despite never, ever winning a tournament game at any of these major-conference programs, he has never been fired.  He left voluntarily from every spot to take on another gig.  How is he doing this?  He has had basically no success in a job where he is handsomely paid and has held several of the best posts in the industry.  Man, he’s good.

Everyone has Creighton here, including 15 people who have them winning this tournament.  Dougie Mac in the World’s Most Famous Arena…can’t wait.

Creighton 84 – DePaul 62

#3 Xavier vs #6 Marquette
I am going to leave Buzz Williams alone because I have gone off on him too many times, including this December post.  Bottom line is that I don’t think Buzz Williams is a very good coach, I am sick of his pomp and arrogance, and I am most sick of the media worshipping him because his “team plays hard.”  A lot of teams play hard.  The dude’s an asshole and a VERY overrated coach.  Anyway, I said I wouldn’t go off on Buzz, so I won’t.  His Marquette team – who was supposed to be really good – was dreadful for a while, but has started to put things together.  It is too little too late unless they can win this tournament, though, which starts in the quarters here with a Xavier team that is led by superstar Semaj Christian and then a bunch of role players who do their jobs.  (BTW…if you had a twin brother named “James” and your parents named you “Semaj,” or James backwards, wouldn’t you always feel like they loved him more?  I mean why do you have to have the backwards name?  Am I right?  Right?)

Only 10 people (Becks, Chris, Gersh, Lazarow, Lynch, Mac, PapaCim, Stri, Teddy, WaTers) have XU here, though PapaCim and WaTers both have the Muskets going to the finals.  Of the 15 people that have Marquette, only Alexi has them advancing to the title game (where we’ll have to hear about what an amazing job Buzz has done to turn this group around and blah, blah blah – it was HIS MESS that got them here in the first place…whatever.)

Xavier 68 – Marquette 65

OPENING ROUND (March 12th – 10 points each)

#8 Butler vs #9 Seton Hall
Butler is learning – the hard way – that it’s not all that easy to switch leagues.  Two years ago, the Bulldogs were a decent Horizon League program who hit the jackpot on a young coach.  Today, they are in the Big East and that young coach is roaming the sidelines of the Boston Garden.  I love Butler.  I loved their back-to-back titles games.  I think it was great for the sport (though, I do wish they had made a few more shots against UConn), and they are fun to watch.  I love Hinkle Fieldhouse and everything that goes with it.  But, I am not convinced that this program can really compete in the Big East.  This isn’t Creighton (about whom I have similar, though much more tempered concerns).  This is a small school with a small budget that even some of the best college basketball fans didn’t know existed not even 10 years ago.  I am rooting for them, and I have no doubt that they can “be” in the Big East, but it will probably be kind of like how DePaul or Seton Hall “are.”  Speaking of the Hall, they weren’t very good this year.  That’s all I’ve got.  Winner of this game takes on #1 Villanova.

11 people (Alexi, Bry, Chris, Dave, Doogan, J, Lohse, PapaCim, Stritts, Stumpf, WaTers) went with the minor upset pick of Seton Hall.  Colton is the only one with a semifinalist at stake here, as he went with Butler to beat ‘Nova on Thursday.

Seton Hall 51 – Butler 50
In an ugly, ugly start to the New Big East at the Garden, Seton Hall survives Butler to win the first New Big East tournament.  Thus ends the first Big East season for Butler, who I hope is in for brighter years.  The Pirates better get some sleep in the City that Never Sleeps because they have a noon start time against #1 Villanova.

11 people hit this minor upset.  Colton lost a semifinalist here, as he had Butler beating ‘Nova in the quarters.

#7 Georgetown vs #10 DePaul
Since I spent my time on the first game dumping cold water on Butler’s Big East presence, I forgot to mention how awesome it is to have college basketball games in Madison Square Garden.  Baseball is the one sport where venues actually matter to the gameplay itself, but college basketball is clearly #2 in my book for the sport where venues actually change the nature of spectatorship.  And MSG is one of the best.  The nightcap at the World’s Most Famous Arena features a G’town team that people say is actually on the bubble.  I find that hard to believe because I thought that actually winning a decent number of basketball games was a prerequisite, but I guess name recognition counts for more than they admit.  Well, they will probably add one more win to their ledger because DePaul is their opponent.  #2 Creighton awaits the winner here in the quarters.

All 25 people have Georgetown winning on Wednesday and losing on Thursday.  That’s entirely uninteresting.

DePaul 60 – Georgetown 56
Welcome to the NIT, Georgetown.  A disastrous loss on Wednesday ends any dim hopes they had to make the Big Dance.  The Hoyas were just 5-17 from three-point land and go home with their tails between their legs.  DePaul, on the other hand, earn a chance to get 40 dropped on them by the great Greg McDermott.

No one had this upset here.

CTC UPDATE

Championship Picks

  • #1 Villanova (7) – Alexi, Bry, Doogan, Gersh, GrossSr, PapaCim, WaTers
  • #2 Creighton (15)
  • #3 Xavier (0)
  • #4 Providence (0)
  • #5 Saint John’s (3) – Dave, Lohse, Stri

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #9 Seton Hall (many)
  • QF – #8 Butler (Colton)
  • SF – #6 Marquette (Alexi)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Doogan
  • 2009 – Doogan
  • 2010 – Teddy
  • 2011 – Scoot
  • 2012 – Primm
  • 2013 – Mac

2014 Scores

2014 CTC: The Big XII (3/15)

Many people think that the Big XII is the best conference in basketball this year.  I see their point, and I think it’s close.  But, I think that this league is clearly 2nd to the Big Ten.  People seem to discount the Big Ten because it has been clearly the best for several years now, but we’ll get to that on the Big Ten page.  This is all about just how great the Big XII has been this year.  Even Texas Tech is really well right now.  I think every team in this league except for pitiful TCU, would have the ability to win at least one game in the NCAA Tournament.  And, I think there are at least 3 legitimate Sweet 16 teams here – one of them happens to be in 8th place because of, well, you all know.  One last thing – I am not sure that you can possibly overstate what is going on in Lawrence, KS, right now.  Bill Self and the Jayhawks have won TEN STRAIGHT BIG XII TITLES!  WHAT?!?!?!?!?  That is so incredibly amazing that it doesn’t get its due.  Seriously, that is absolutely ridiculous in this day and age.  The question now is – how will they fair without Joel Embiid?  I don’t know, but I wouldn’t bet against them.

It is not ridiculous to say that the CTC overall title could easily be decided right here.  This tournament is so all over the place, it’s ridiculous.  SIX different teams are represented with championship picks, including five picked by multiple people, and most incredibly, FOUR teams are supported by at least FOUR people as the Big XII champ.  #1 Kansas has the most, but it’s barely one-quarter of the field (8).  #4 Iowa State and #8 Oklahoma State each have 5 people backing them.  #2 Oklahoma has 4.  #3 Texas has 2 and #5 K-State has 1.  WOW!  Sleepers?  The whole tournament is a sleeper, except the bottom two teams, apparently, as only 3 people picked an upset in either game in the opening round.  The past two Big XII champions are not back this year, so we have to go all the way back to 2011 to find the “defending champ,” which is Bry.  No one has ever won this tournament more than once, so Bry, J, Stri, Alexi, and Doogan are all trying to become the first to do that.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 15th – 60 points)

#4 Iowa State vs #7 Baylor
The Cyclones won back-to-back brutally tough games over Kansas State and Kansas to get here to the championship.  Baylor has won three in a row (and 10 of 11 overall), beating TCU, Oklahoma, and whooping Texas in the semis.  Both teams are playing at truly elite levels.  The two teams split in the regular season including a 74-61 Baylor win 11 days ago.

No one has Baylor winning this championship, but Alexi, Bry, Lynch, Scoot, and Stritts all have Iowa State here.  Scoot wins the Big XII outright with an Iowa State win here, but has to share it with Dave and Gersh if Baylor wins.

SEMIFINALS (March 14th – 40 points each)

#1 Kansas vs #4 Iowa State
Both of these teams survived incredibly tough quarterfinal tests to get here to open a great Big XII semifinal double-header.  Andrew Wiggins put on a show for Jayhawks fans in Kansas City, as KU won in overtime against a beat-up Ok State team.  Iowa State got double-doubles from Hogue and Ejim in a tough, hard-fought win over K-State.  Now, these two will go at it in what might be the best game of the 44 games today.

10 people (Alexi, Bry, Dave, Gersh, GrossJr, Lynch, PapaCim, Scoot, Stritts, Teddy) have Iowa State in the upset here, with half of them (Alexi, Bry, Lynch, Scoot, Stritts) putting their champion at risk with ISU.  Only 8 people (Caleb, Chris, Colton, GrossSr, J, Mac, Stri, WaTers) have Kansas winning this game, but all 8 have them taking the championship.  Needless to say, this is a huge CTC game, as at least 5 people will lose a champion here.

Iowa State 94 – Kansas 83

#3 Texas vs #7 Baylor
These fierce in-state rivals will battle it out in Kansas City for the right to play for the Big XII title on Saturday.  Texas absolutely destroyed West Virginia in the quarters, while Baylor jumped out to a big lead and then held on against #2 Oklahoma.  May the worse coach lose…

Only 12 of the 25 entries can earn points here.  8 people (Dave, Gersh, GrossSr, J, RDoc, Scoot, Stritts, WaTers) have Texas, while 4 (Chris, Doogan, Lazarow, Primm) have Baylor.  No one took Baylor to win the tournament, but Dave and Gersh both have Texas doing it.

Baylor 86 – Texas 69

QUARTERFINALS (March 13th – 20 points each)

#4 Iowa State vs #5 Kansas State
I love this Iowa State team.  I don’t know who you would consider the third-best player on this team, but I know that I would take whoever it is over any 3rd-best player on any team in America.  They don’t have a superstar (though, I have always loved Deandre Kane from his days at Marshall), but they have three guys who complement each other so incredibly well and are so versatile and brutally hard to match up against, that I seriously think that this team is a legit Final Four contender.  They open against a really quality K-State team that looked terrible for much of the noncon, but have really turned it on.  But, I guess that’s what happens when your best player is a somewhat raw freshman.  And, by “somewhat raw” I kind of mean “completely amazing.”  There are a lot of great freshmen around the country – and in the Big XII, specifically – but Marcus Foster may be the most underrated, if not having the best year.  And, let’s hear it for Bruce Weber, who was kicked out of the Illinois job and has now done two spectacular coaching jobs in Manhattan, KS.  Oh, and one quick note on the Big XII quarterfinal quadruple-header.  There are 8 teams playing in Kansas City today – and ALL EIGHT OF THEM are legit NCAA Tournament-caliber teams.  I can’t remember that ever happening.  It has been quite the season in this league.

Only 6 people (Chris, GrossSr, Mac, Primm, Stumpf, WaTers) went with the slight ‘dog of K-State here.  Stumpf has them going to the finals, while Primm has them winning the whole thing.  5 people (Dave, Gersh, GrossJr, PapaCim, Teddy) have ISU going to the finals and losing, while 5 more (Alexi, Bry, Lynch, Scoot, Stritts) put their Big XII champ on the line with the Cyclones here.  So, no matter what happens, someone will lose a champion in this quarterfinal.

Iowa State 91 – Kansas State 85

#1 Kansas vs #8 Oklahoma State
I am officially calling this the “best quarterfinal in the history of conference tournaments.”  Because of OK State’s injuries and suspensions, they finished 8th in the conference, which means they are grossly underseeded.  Because of Kansas’s RIDICULOUS run of Big XII titles, they are – as always – the 1-seed.  So, now they face off in what should be an incredible game, Elite Eight type game.  Oh, and I won’t spend too much time on a Kansas team that gets plenty of press, but I have to ask one question – is there anyone with out there with the balls to come out and say “I was wrong when I called Andrew Wiggins a bust?”  Didn’t think so.  Shameless.  Anyway, the dude is a total stud and could be the next Tracy McGrady on the next level (people forget just how great McGrady was for a short period of time).

Obviously, with a game this big in reality happening so early in a tournament, the entire shape of the CTC could be at stake here.  At least 5 people are gonna lose a champion here in the quarterfinals.  Becks, Doogan, Lazarow, Lohse, and RDoc all have the Cowboys winning this tournament.  8 others (Caleb, Chris, Colton, GrossSr, J, Mac, Stri, WaTers) have Kansas.  Interestingly, no one that has either of these teams making the finals has them losing there.  So, Dave, Gersh, PapaCim, Scoot, and Stumpf, who all have Kansas here, don’t have them in the finals.  And, Alexi, Bry, GrossJr, Lynch, Primm, Stritts, and Teddy, who have OK State here, have them losing in the semis.  Should be just a phenomenal game.

Kansas 77 – Oklahoma State 70 (OT)

#2 Oklahoma vs #7 Baylor
The amazing quadruple-header with 8 tournament teams kicks off its evening session with a really interesting matchup between an Oklahoma team that is solid and consistent and just flat-out won games all year against a Baylor team that is eye-poppingly athletic and huge, but frustratingly inconsistent and just didn’t win games.  Wednesday night was the perfect example, as this Baylor team should have run a terrible TCU team right off the court, but they let them hang around and hang around and just never really finished them off with any force.  They will need to play A LOT better to beat a very well-coached OU team led by an underrated backcourt of Buddy Hield and Cameron Clark.  The frontcourt has also really come along and is incredibly young.  Lon Kruger is going to have this team relevant for a long time to come.

This is yet another GIGANTIC game for the CTC.  Another split, as 13 people have the upset with Baylor, and 12 have OU (Becks, Caleb, Colton, GrossJr, Lohse, Lynch, Mac, PapaCim, RDoc, Stri, Stumpf, Teddy).  Interestingly, everyone who has OU winning here except RDoc has them winning again in the semis.  And GrossJr, PapaCim, Stumpf, and Teddy all believe that the Sooners will win this tournament.  As for Baylor, their supporters – though more of them – aren’t quite as strong believers.  Chris, Doogan, Lazarow, and Primm are the only 4 that have the Bears even getting to the finals, and none of them have them winning it.

Baylor 78 – Oklahoma 73

#3 Texas vs #6 West Virginia
Can these coaches have any more opposite reputations?  Bobby Huggins is the cranky old basketball guy who gets players he can handle and mold, but who may not be the most coveted and then he wins with them.  Rick Barnes, on the other hand, is more of a folksy recruiter, who lands the big fish and then doesn’t win with them.  Well, interestingly, this year, it took Huggins a while to bring his guys around – though they are playing REALLY well now – and Barnes has been winning all year with seemingly inferior talent.  Maybe chasing the big fish isn’t the best way to win in Austin after all.  Well, we will see.  Either way, this game should close out a terrific day of hoops in Kansas City.  Oh, and speaking of coaches, how crazy is it that 8 of the 10 coaches in the Big XII have been to the Elite Eight?  That’s insane.

10 people (Alexi, Becks, Bry, Chris, Doogan, Lazarow, Lynch, PapaCim, Stumpf, Teddy) went with a decent upset pick with WVU here.  Alexi and Bry have the Mountaineers reaching the finals.  Of the 15 that have Texas winning this game, 8 of them (Dave, Gersh, GrossSr, J, RDoc, Scoot, Stritts, WaTers) have the Longhorns in the finals.  Dave and Gersh both have them winning this tournament.

Texas 66 – West Virginia 49

OPENING ROUND (March 12th – 10 points each)

#8 Oklahoma State vs #9 Texas Tech
Marcus Smart…well, you all know all the stories.  I don’t care about all that.  What I care about is the fact that this dude can flat-out play.  And, they are going to make the tournament and be GHASTLY underseeded.  It’s kind of unfair to whoever has to play them.  Kind of like them being an 8-seed in the 10-team Big XII.  They face a Texas Tech team that probably could upset most other teams in the league, as they are playing very well under Tubby.  But, this Cowboy team is legit.  And, with the winner of this game getting Kansas in the quarters, will an OkState-Kansas game be the best conference tournament quarterfinal in NCAA history?  Don’t just blow it off – think about it.  Has there ever been a better quarterfinal in the history of conference tournaments than Kansas-OK State?

The intrigue in the opening round from a CTC standpoint is only in the future ramifications of these games.  Only Colton, GrossSr, and PapaCim have Tech here and none of them have the Red Raiders beating Kansas.  But, this is a HUGE game nonetheless.  This is unprecedented.  5 people (Becks, Doogan, Lazarow, Lohse, RDoc) have the Cowboys winning this entire tournament.  They are the only 5 that have them even reaching the finals, but 7 more (Alexi, Bry, GrossJr, Lynch, Primm, Stritts, Teddy) have them beating Kansas in the quarters.  Bracket-buster potential here, for sure.

Oklahoma State 80 – Texas Tech 62
In what is clearly the most memorable Ok State-Texas Tech game of the year, Marcus Smart made some news against Tech.  He had 18 points, 7 boards, 7 assists, 6 steals, and a block in a monster performance that even Jeff Orr would be impressed by.  Now, we are officially set up for, what I am calling, the greatest quarterfinal in the history of conference tournament history when they take on Kansas.

Colton, GrossSr, and PapaCim miss a minor upset here, but that isn’t the news here.  Becks, Doogan, Lazarow, Lohse, and RDoc all keep alive their 8-seed champion.  7 more keep alive a semifinalist.

#7 Baylor vs #10 TCU
TCU is just plain awful.  Absolutely terrible.  Baylor is very talented and playing their best right now.  This is just a bye before a really nice 2/7 date between Baylor and Oklahoma.  Oh, and by the way, I think I could watch Brady Heslop shoot 3’s all day and never get bored.  Just sayin’.  The winner of this game gets #2 Oklahoma in the quarters.

No one has TCU here, but there is still a TON of intrigue in this game (if it stays close).  Chris, Doogan, Lazarow, and Primm have the Baylor Bears going to the finals.  9 others (Alexi, Bry, Dave, Gersh, GrossSr, J, Scoot, Stritts, WaTers) all have Baylor going to the semis before losing.

Baylor 76 – TCU 68
It wasn’t pretty, but the Bears took care of TCU and moves on to face #2 Oklahoma in the quarters on Thursday.  Cory Jefferson had 20, and Isaiah Austin added 18, as the talented Baylor team ends a terrible season for the Horned Frogs, who just don’t belong in this conference.

Everyone got this right, including a bunch of people with Baylor going pretty far.  The biggest relief came from Chris, Doogan, Lazarow, and Primm, who keep alive a finalist.

CTC UPDATE

Championship Picks

  • #1 Kansas (8) – Caleb, Chris, Colton, GrossSr, J, Mac, Stri, WaTers
  • #2 Oklahoma (4) – GrossJr, PapaCim, Stumpf, Teddy
  • #3 Texas (2) – Dave, Gersh
  • #4 Iowa State (5) – Alexi, Bry, Lynch, Scoot, Stritts
  • #5 Kansas State (1) – Primm
  • #6 West Virginia (0)
  • #7 Baylor (0)
  • #8 Oklahoma State (5) – Becks, Doogan, Lazarow, Lohse, RDoc

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #9 Texas Tech (Colton, GrossSr, PapaCim)
  • QF – #8 Oklahoma State (many)
  • SF – #8 Oklahoma State (Becks, Doogan, Lazarow, Lohse, RDoc)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Doogan
  • 2009 – Alexi
  • 2010 – J, Stri
  • 2011 – Bry
  • 2012 – KA
  • 2013 – LohseJr (perfect)

2014 Scores