Live Blog: Elite 8 and Opening Day

Four Elite 8 games over the next two days and baseball’s Opening Day the day after that.  I’m relaxing on Spring Break and ready to watch it all, so I’ll be dropping in periodically over the next 55 hours or so (up through the Phils-Braves game) with some thoughts.

SATURDAY

4:32: Syracuse and Marquette to kick things off from our nation’s capital.  This tournament started off in embarrassing fashion for the soon-to-be-dead Big East.  Georgetown beat by FGCU, Notre Dame blown out by Iowa St., Pitt blown out by Wichita St.  But here we are with three Big East teams in the final eight.

Funny though, because all three of the teams will be in separate conferences next season (Louisville will remain in the “old” Big East for one year before joining Cuse in the ACC).

4:40: Interesting (to me, at least) that Syracuse was a five-point favorite coming into this game.  Marquette finished three games ahead of them in the Big East, beat them (in a close game at Marquette) in late February, and is obviously playing well at the moment.  I know Syracuse has been more impressive in the tournament so far, and advanced to the Big East tourney title game, but I don’t see why they should be more than a two-point favorite.  Smart money is grabbing those five points, I’d say.

5:02: Brandon Triche is similar to Khalif Wyatt.  For a high-level, DI guard, he has almost no quickness or burst, but he knows how to use his body, how to find seems, and can make an open three.  We’ve seen a bunch of games in this tournament where one team just can’t score in the 1st half and posts 15 or 17 points.  Marquette looks headed for that.  They obviously have seen this zone before, but the Orange are playing it perfectly so far.

5:13: When facing Cuse’s 2-3 zone, it’s so important to have a big guy that can camp out at the free throw line, catch it in the middle of the zone, and then make an entry pass or knock down a jump shot.  It looks like Davante Gardner might be able to fill that role.  If nothing else, his two jump shots and an assist will force Cuse to collapse in on that gap and leave them exposed in other places.  Great development for the Eagles.

5:14: And just as I post that, he makes another and Mr. Verne Lundquist points out that he was 7-7 when they beat Cuse in February.  The Orange better find an answer. 21-18 Syracuse.

5:54: Some coaching questions for both of these programs going forward.  How much longer will Boeheim coach?  His longtime top assistant, Mike Hopkins, is said to be a top candidate for USC.  Will he stick around to be Boeheim’s successor?  For Marquette, Buzz Williams is becoming one of the most respected young coaches in the game.  He’s only 40.  It seems like he’s there for now, but the Texas native could maybe be tempted if Rick Barnes ever exits from UT.  Other jobs in that area, like Baylor, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma St., could also appeal to him down the road.

6:16: 8 minutes left, Marquette down 11.  If they don’t make a little run very soon, they’ll be entering “need a miracle” territory.  Cuse has really been in control this whole game, but so was Kansas last night, and they went home.  Let’s see if Carter-Williams can keep everything under control and take his team to the Final 4.

6:39: Can’t say I root for Syracuse, but regardless, they’re back in the Final Four for the 9th time, and final time as a Big East member.  If they win it all, does Boeheim hang it up?  Probably not.  Another strong year from Marquette.

7:10: Wichita St. and Ohio St. up next, playing in LA.  I may have missed a lot of predictions for Conference Players of the Year at the beginning of this month, but I did say this when talking about the MVC and Wichita St.: “They have two forwards, Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall, who’s names you just may hear in March.”  And here they are in the Elite 8.  It’s a cliche to say it at this point, but Wichita may be in  a “mid-major” but they have major conference talent, for sure.  Ohio St. is and should be the favorite, but this is either team’s game to win.

7:22: Deshaun Thomas has been the ONLY reliable scorer for Ohio St. this whole year.  If you’re going to have only one guy that can put it in the bucket, he’s definitely one of the best to have.  He can score in every way possible.  He’s off to an 0-5 start, but with two other threes hit, the Buckeyes are only down 1.  Also, LaQuinton Ross has emerged as that second scoring option in this tournament.  He comes off the bench, so we’ll see if he still has the hot hand.

7:39: Thinking back to that Syracuse game, you can see some parallels to their championship team of ten years ago.  They’ve had some years since then where they were ranked #1 in the country and a couple where they were a #1 seed, but didn’t make it past the Sweet 16.  In ’03 they were a 3-seed, this year a 4-seed.  They really outclassed a very good Marquette team today, and maybe they’ll pull it off again ten years later.  I can’t compare Carmelo to Carter-Williams, but he is the best player on the team, and a guy that was buried on their bench for most of last year, so it’s really his first year getting any minutes for them, just as it was Carmelo’s first year.  Ok, maybe reaching a bit there.  Give me a break, it’s a live blog.

7:43: Headline writers everywhere get excited as the Shockers go up by 10 after back-to-back threes.  This just looks like the team we’ve been watching all tournament.  Ohio St. has veteran leadership with Thomas and Aaron Craft.  This hole won’t faze them, but it’s obviously a great start for Wichita.

8:11: All credit to Wichita, but yet another game where we see a team that just can’t score.  Thomas is 4-13, Craft is 1-6, Ross is 1-5.  Ugly half for the Buckeyes.

8:52: Domination by the Shockers!  Not the best day of ball, it appears.

9:16: Deshaun Thomas: “It’s not over yet!”  WSU by 10 with 4 to play, but will the pressure of the big stage and the bright lights of Hollywood get to the Shockers here?  And, even if it does, can the Buckeyes just get the ball in the hoop enough times for it to matter?

9:29: What a great comeback by OSU.  Still down 4, but impressive even if they fall short.  What a clutch three hit by Cotton of WSU just now.

9:50: The Cinderella baton has been passed from FGCU to Wichita St.  Impressive run by them.  Let the speculation of Greg Marshall’s coaching future begin.  Deshaun Thomas is probably off to the League, and Craft will be back for one more go ’round in Columbus.  Back tomorrow for the next two games!

SUNDAY

2:05: Louisville-Duke is clearly THE game of the day, but this Florida-Michigan game is pretty awesome, as well.  Yes, L’ville-Duke is a 1 seed vs. 2 seed (vs. a 3-4 in the other game), it has the favorite and one of the teams in the small pack of accepted contenders (while very few have picked Florida or Michigan to win it all), and it has two sure-fire Hall of Fame coaches squaring off in the tourney for the first time since the Laettner Shot of ’92.

But Michigan was also ranked #1 at one point this year, and they have a leading candidate for National Player of the Year, in PG Trey Burke.  Meanwhile, many computer efficiency metrics have had Florida as the CLEAR top team in the country for virtually the entire season.  It should shock no one to see either of these teams cut down the nets in Atlanta next week.

The game is a classic contrast of styles, but not what you may think for a Big Ten vs. SEC matchup.  The Big Ten team is actually the one loaded with athletes that want to get up and down the court.  The SEC team wants to force the Wolverines to execute in the halfcourt and keep the tempo slow.  It’s a very young Michigan team vs. a veteran Florida team.  Should be a good one. Continue reading “Live Blog: Elite 8 and Opening Day”

2012 MLB Preview: BSB-Style

(UPDATE:  Below in red is a recap of the 2012 preview.  Keep a lookout for the 2013 preview, which will begin shortly…)

The beginning of April gives us one of best sports “transitions” of the calendar year. With the promise of spring comes a sharp switch in our overall mentalities from the squeeking of sneakers on the hardwood to the cracking of bats on the diamond. BSB feels this transition as much as anything, as we have always focused most of our attention on 3 sports – college hoops, baseball, and football. So, with the college hoops championship game occuring usually within days of MLB’s opening day, we usually take an about-face on the site and switch over to the sights and sounds of our national pastime. And, no better way to make that transition than to kick off our 2012 MLB Preview.

As followers of the site know, we do season previews in a much different way than anyone else out there. We like to do team-by-team previews, but spice them up by adding in a touch of strategic competition. What we do is to take each team’s win totals from a year ago and set them as the “over-unders” for their win totals this year. Then, we make these over-under picks in draft order, depending on how confident we are in the team either going over or under their total from last year. Then, at the end of the year, we add them up and see how we did. Bry won the first three times we ran this preview (by narrow margins in the first two, 2008 and 2009, and then a wider margin in 2010), and then Doogan got on the board last year, winning the 2011 Preview in a tiebreaker, so he has the momentum.

We will add our picks to this post periodically throughout the week leading up to opening day.

Having picked first last year, Bry defers to Doogan to take the #1 choice this year…

1. DOOGAN – Miami Marlins – OVER 72 wins: Teams always like to make a splash (no pun intended here?) with their first year in a new ballpark, but the Marlins seem to have taken that to a new level going into 2012. Not only have they totally changed their uniforms, changed the name of the team, and brought in a new manager, but they’ve also remade the roster with three high-priced free agents. Jose Reyes takes over at short, Mark Buehrle joins the rotation, and Heath Bell takes over as the closer. Those three veterans join an already talented group of youngsters led by Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton (now, amazingly, known as Giancarlo Stanton), Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, Josh Johnson, and Anibal Sanchez. If they stay healthy, they should definitely push for a playoff spot.

FINAL RECORD:  69-93.  Point Bry, 1-0
MADNESS!  History is made here, as never before has anyone missed their #1 pick.  But, it’s much more of a testament to just how disappointingly horrible the Marlins were in 2012 than anything else.

2. BRY – Houston Astros – OVER 56 wins: Is it me or do the “gimmes” get fewer and fewer every year we do this? You would think that with 29 teams to choose from, I would feel more confident than this pick. But, there is an old adage in baseball – you’re going to win 60 games and lose 60 games, and everything is decided in the other 40. Well, I guess I’ll stick with that adage and assume that even if this terrible team loses all 40 of them, they will still hit the Over here for me. Then again – I bet on them to win their division last year and they lost 106.

FINAL RECORD:  55-107.  Point Doogan, 1-1
MORE MADNESS!!!  Wow!  What an unbelievable season if the top two picks are both wrong.  Bry mentioned that the “gimmes” are few and far between, but really?  56 wins looked easy.  Not for the ‘Stros.  What a pathetic franchise.  Have fun in the AL West, boys.

3. BRY – Milwaukee Brewers – UNDER 96 wins: With Prince Fielder gone, Ryan Braun‘s appeal of his 50-game suspension may end up being the biggest victory of the Brewers 2012 season. It’s hard to imagine them competing without 210 games of Fielder and Braun. As it is, they still lost 162 games of Fielder, so this team should take a step backwards. Now, honestly, I don’t think they are that much worse, though, I just don’t think anyone in this division will win 96 games. They Brewers still have a pretty solid rotation and their defense should be a lot better – particularly on the left side – as they went from Yuniesky Betancourt and Casey McGahee to Alex Gonzalez and Aramis Ramirez. That is about as big of a defensive upgrade as I can remember one team making on the left side of an infield. Also, if Ramirez can regain some of his offensive prowess, his bat could help defray some of the loss felt in the middle of the order by Fielder’s departure. In short, I may be in the minority, but I still feel like this is the team to beat in the NL Central, so it’s strange to pick the Under with the #3 pick – I just think 96 wins is way too many.

FINAL RECORD:  83-79.  Point Bry, 2-1
The Brewers weren’t terrible in 2012, but they weren’t that good either, giving Bry the first correct pick of the contest.

4. DOOGAN – Minnesota Twins – OVER 63 wins: A couple of standard BSB MLB preview strategies go into this pick. Mainly, 63 is a low number. This pick shouldn’t be taken as a vote of confidence in this Twins team. But also, there are some teams that you just tend to go over on, based on the history of the franchise, and the Twins are one of those teams. One horrible season won’t change that. Here’s hoping that Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau can stay healthy to power the middle of the line-up. The rotation has no ace, but it is fairly deep, with a good number of solid guys like Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, and Scott Baker. In a pretty middling division, they should be able to hit 70 wins.

FINAL RECORD:  66-96.  Point Doogan, 2-2
It wasn’t easy, but Doogan eked out his first correct pick here.  It’s hard to believe that such a well-run franchise with a couple of bonafied stars has lost 195 games in the past two years.

5. BRY – New York Mess – UNDER 77 wins: This team is not very good at all. And, since they can’t spend any money, they have to fill holes as cheaply as possible. And, they created two pretty big holes up the middle when they traded away Carlos Beltran and let Jose Reyes walk in free agency (two moves that I actually agree with in the long-term, but we’re not “previewing” the long-term). The hole at short is going to be filled with fringe prospect Ruben Tejada, while the hole in center is filled with a guy that didn’t hit enough to stay in the anemic Giants offense – Andres Torres (who will bring his .221 batting average to the Mets leadoff spot this year). Oh, and not that they will have all that many “save opportunities,” but it looks like their cheap replacement closer, Frankie Francisco, might be having shoulder issues. The one thing that gives me a little pause is that Johan Santana looks like he might actually be healthy, so they could have a horse at the top of the rotation. But, with this offense, how many wins does Johan – even at his peak give you – 15? How will this offense win 65 games with Dillon Gee, R.A. Dickey, and Mike Pelfrey on the mound? In the NL East? They won’t.

FINAL RECORD:  74-88.  Point Bry, 3-2
Far be it for me to give any compliments to the awful team to our north, but there is some promise in this organization.  Their offense needs a total makeover, but there are some good young arms in this organization.  But, they are still several years away from relevance…which is fine with me.

6. DOOGAN – Philadelphia Phillies – UNDER 102 wins: Let’s take the suspense out of this one early. I’ve been a believer in the Phils and the Over every year we’ve done this, but 102?? Amidst all that has gone wrong for the team this spring, it’s important to remember that they still run out the best 1-3 pitchers in the game, by a LONG shot. Still, a team that struggled to score runs at a lot of times over the last couple of years will continue to struggle a lot of the time. Jimmy Rollins looks like the Opening Day 3-hitter, with Ty Wigginton at first base and batting 5th or 6th. I have so much faith in Halladay, Lee, and Hamels though, that this still looks like the cream of the crop in the NL, if not the whole game.

FINAL RECORD:  81-81.  Point Doogan, 3-3
Doogan sold his soul for this point, but I’m sure he was hoping for a little more of a sweat with this pick.  Let’s just chalk up the 2012 Phillies season as getting all the health issues and general bad karma out of the way in one season.  Back to winning division titles, guys.

7. BRY – New York Yankees – UNDER 97 wins: Can’t really blame you for taking the Under on the Phils – hell, I did it last year at 98. And, right after you take the Under on the best team in the NL, I’ll take the Under on, quite possibly, the best team in the AL. I like what the Yankees have done with their rotation, but the offense continues to age, and the “ageless one” at the end of the bullpen just has to show signs of mortality at some point, right? Even so, I still think this is probably as good a team as there is in the Junior Circuit, but 97 is a big number, and this division is loaded. I think the 1927 Yankees might have trouble hitting this number, and the 2012 Yankees are not exactly their counterparts from 85 years ago.

FINAL RECORD:  95-67.  Point Bry, 4-3
Just how these Yankees keep churning out 95-win seasons is amazing, but they didn’t win enough to cost Bry the point here.  It will be interesting to see when (and if) this team stops dominating the best division in baseball.

8. DOOGAN – Los Angeles Angels – OVER 86 wins: Just looks like a really good team, on paper. Obviously, Albert Pujols thrown into the middle of the order doesn’t hurt, though the offense still looks suspect with the over-the-hill Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells penciled in as starters and Kendrys Morales trying to comeback after missing most of the past two years with injuries. What makes this team a definite contender is the rotation, where C.J. Wilson joins Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana. With Mike Scioscia pulling the strings and most likely some money to burn if they need to make additions in July, they should get 90-92 wins.

FINAL RECORD:  89-73.  Point Doogan, 4-4
Many people see the 2012 Angels as a disappoinment, and for the most part, I guess that’s true.  But, they did win 89 games – which is more than NLCS participant, St. Louis, and World Series participant, Detroit.  Then again, adding Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson to an already good team, and then getting MVP stuff from Mike Trout should have equated to more than 89 wins.

9. BRY – Arizona Diamondbacks – UNDER 94 wins: When looking for a team that you think will take a step backwards, you would think that one would probably look for either (a) an aging team likely in decline or (b) a team that has lost a couple key pieces either through free agency/trade or injury. The Diamondbacks don’t even come close to fitting into either category, as they are a young team that is pretty much completely in tact from the team that won 94 games a year ago. So, this might be a dangerous pick, but I just do not see this team in the mid-90s. I think last year everything kind of fell right into place – they won a lot of close games, got seemingly career years from several pitchers (most notably Yankee castoff, Ian Kennedy; fringe bullpen prospect turned starter, Josh Collmenter; and resurrected closer, J.J. Putz), and benefitted from a surprisingly down year throughout the division. So, even though this team comes back as a whole and a year older (which is a good thing), I still don’t see them matching last year’s success.

FINAL RECORD:  81-81.  Point Bry, 5-4
Bry cruises to a point here, as the guys have hit 7 in a row after their embarrassing starts.

10. DOOGAN – Texas Rangers – UNDER 96 wins: A big win number and a lot of question marks makes for a fairly easy Under pick. Sure, there’s a TON of talent on this roster, but they’re really counting on Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz to be high-quality starters, and both of those are definite question marks, mainly because neither has ever actually started a Major League game yet. They’ll score runs, but Josh Hamilton gets hurt a lot and is already slowed by injuries this spring. When does Michael Young start to show his age with the bat? Just too many questions to expect so many wins.

FINAL RECORD:  93-69.  Point Doogan, 5-5
This pick was in jeopardy until the final week, when the Rangers swoon gave Doogan the point here.  What a disappointing end to the Rangers careers of Josh Hamilton and Michael Young.

11. BRY – Kansas City Royals – OVER 71 wins: Since I always end up making this pick, at some point, might as well get it over with early, then I can stop “almost” picking it. I should just copy and paste what I’ve written for each of the past 4 years. This team has an amazing farm system…blah, blah, blah. They will be up in the bigs at some point…blah, blah, blah. The division isn’t very good…blah, blah, blah. 71 isn’t a huge number…blah, blah, blah. Ready for something new: Eric Hosmer is a total stud and will be an MVP candidate within the next three years – maybe as early as this year. I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid that this team is going to compete for a playoff spot, but I do think they can flirt with .500 and probably finish somewhere in the mid-70s.

FINAL RECORD:  72-90.  Point Bry, 6-5
A 4-2 win over the Tigers on the second-to-last day of the regular season gave the Royals the 72 wins needed to reward Bry’s loyalty.  Will this team ever be good?

12. DOOGAN – Cincinnati Reds – OVER 79 wins: No National League team has scored more runs over the last two years than the Reds, so you know they can swing the bats. Joey Votto has established himself as one of the game’s premier hitters, and Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips produce as well. They added Mat Latos from the Padres in the offseason, and he has a lot of ability despite not having a great 2011. The loss of Ryan Madson gives me a little pause here, but this team was better than their 79 wins suggest last year, and with the Cardinals and Brewers most likely taking steps backward, they should be ready to step it up themselves into, let’s say an 86-win season.

FINAL RECORD:  97-65.  Point Doogan, 6-6
An easy point here for Doogan, as he makes a really nice pick at #12.  It’s probably time for this collection of solid players to win a playoff series, huh? 

13. BRY – Oakland A’s – UNDER 74 wins: Last year’s A’s were not that competitive, but they at least had a somewhat decent pitching staff. This year’s A’s? Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon are their #1 and #2. Trevor Cahill is gone. Gio Gonzalez is gone. Even Dallas Braden might miss the whole season with shoulder issues. And, this is a team with Kurt Suzuki hitting in the middle of the lineup. There is a chance that this is the worst team in baseball, so I’ll take them for 70 wins at the most.

FINAL RECORD:  94-68.  Point Doogan, 7-6
As bad as the first two picks were, this one is shameful.  To miss a pick by 21 games is unacceptable…then again, did ANYONE see this coming?

14. DOOGAN – St. Louis Cardinals – UNDER 90 wins: This feels like a pick I often make and lose on, so like Bry and the Royals, I’ll keep the momentum going. Pujols is obviously a huge loss, but this team led the NL in runs scored by a healthy margin last year, so they’ll still score runs, especially with Carlos Beltran joining Matt Holliday (though Lance Berkman could be headed for a downturn). The main reason I’m somewhat comfortable going Under is that Chris Carpenter is down for the first couple of months of the season and Kyle Lohse is making their Opening Night start tomorrow.

FINAL RECORD:  88-74.  Point Doogan, 8-6
Doogan “consolidates his break” by eking out a Cardinals point here.  The Redbirds took two of three from Cincy in the final series to give Doogan the lead.
 

15. BRY – San Francisco Giants – OVER 86 wins: Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Vogelsong, and Zito. Oh, and arguably the best bullpen in the game. And, while Brandon Crawford may not be ready for the bigs with the stick, he sure can field the shortstop position. And, coming off of a year of Miguel Tejada there, they upgraded the most important defensive position about as much as is actually possible. They’re not going to score many runs, but their pitching and defense is as good as anyone. In a potentially weak NL West, this team seems poised for 90 wins.

FINAL RECORD:  94-68.  Point Bry, 7-8
Your 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants…weird.  Wait…they won two years ago too?  Very weird.

16. DOOGAN – Colorado Rockies – OVER 73 wins: I don’t like taking Overs on teams with pitching staffs as suspect as this team’s, but the offense could be scary good with Tulowitzki and CarGo, Helton still swinging it, and two proven veterans joining them in Michael Cuddyer and Marco Scutaro. I’d worry about Cuddyer playing the outfield in Coors, but other than that they have + defenders all over the diamond, which will be needed with the pitchers allowing the ball to be hit all over the place most of the time. I don’t see them winning half their games, but 78 wins seems reachable.

FINAL RECORD:  64-98.  Point Bry, 8-8
The Rockies are in a rough place right now, as a franchise.  They have a franchise player at an elite position and they have NOTHING else – and nothing coming

17. BRY – Toronto Blue Jays – OVER 81 wins: It embarrasses me sometimes how easily I buy into the hype machine. With the state of the AL East, there is no reason to believe that the Jays can be over .500 this year, but I can’t ignore the hype. And, no, I don’t put any stock whatsoever in spring training records, so I am not even going to mention the fact that they are 19-4 this spring. I won’t even mention it. But, there is just too much talent across the border to ignore. Ricky Romero is poised to be a certifiable ace. Jose Bautista has been the best player in baseball (by a pretty wide margin) over the past two seasons. And, Colby Rasmus, J.P. Arencebia, and especially Brett Lawrie are all poised for breakout seasons. If Kyle Drabek can find the strike zone, he could join Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, and Dustin McGowan in a solid, if not stellar, starting rotation. Oh, and I love the fact that they brought back their old unis and logo. This is dangerous territory, I know, but gimme the Jays for 83-86 wins.

FINAL RECORD: 73-89.  Point Doogan, 9-8
Doogan takes the lead back after Bry’s bad pick of the Jays.  This team wasn’t good and we will see if their “new look” is that much better.

18. DOOGAN – San Diego Padres – OVER 71 wins: This is one of those picks where it’s getting late in the game here but I’ve suddenly talked myself into this one as very safe pick. It’s a low number for a team with a capable manager and a fair amount of young talent, if no stars. They won’t score many runs, but Yonder Alonso could be a breakout hitter, and they have Carlos Quentin when he returns from injury. They’re a good defensive team up the middle, with Jason Bartlett at short, Orlando Hudson at second, and Cameron Maybin in center. They have some pretty solid young arms in the rotation as well, with Edinson Volquez, Cory Luebke, and Clayton Richard.

FINAL RECORD:  76-86.  Point Doogan, 10-8
Doogan stays ahead with a nice pick of the Padres.  It didn’t look good for a while, but the Pads always seem to surprise late in the season.  What a frustrating organization to be a fan of, though, right?

19. BRY – Detroit Tigers – UNDER 95 wins: This feels like a strange pick to make, considering they are one of the handful of legit contenders for a World Series title. They won 95 games last year AND added one of the game’s premier power hitters in Prince Fielder. Add in the fact that yhey are HEAD AND SHOULDERS better than the rest of this division and this pick starts to get suspect. However…95 is a really big number, and last year’s 95 was a bit hollow. They got a perfect season from their closer and a dream season from Justin Verlander. Not saying that Verlander isn’t great (in fact, blasphemous or not, I would consider him on par with Mr. Halladay as the best pitcher on the planet) – I am saying, though, that that was a dream season for anyone and may not be duplicated. But, even if it is, the addition of Prince Fielder is mitigated by the fact that he’s really just a moderate offensive upgrade to Victor Martinez, who was lost for the year. And, one has to question their decision to make Miguel Cabrera (a below average FIRSTbaseman) into the everyday thirdbaseman. Last year, they had Brandon Inge – one of the game’s best at the hot corner. Add in the fact that they got the best of guys like Tim Fister, Alex Avila, and Ryan Raburn (not likely to repeat their ’11 numbers this year). I am, in no way, saying that the Tigers are not going to contend – in fact, they might be the best bet in baseball to win the World Series because they are the biggest favorite (by a huge margin) to win their division and avoid the 1-game playoff. But, I just see them being in the same position with 88-90 wins as they would be with 96-100. And, I think 95 is just too tough for a team that does still have some flaws.

FINAL RECORD:  88-74.  Point Bry, 9-10
Bry gets the point by picking the Under on the AL Champs with the best pitcher and hitter on the planet.  But, the dirty little secret is that the Tigers – in the regular season – weren’t all that good.

20. DOOGAN – Washington Nationals – OVER 80 wins: This is a classic “taking the bait” pick on a team that’s made a bunch of veteran additions to a young core, but still may be another year or two away from being legit. The rotation has a chance to be really good, but its far from guaranteed, with Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson, and Jordan Zimmermann. The line-up looks like it could be average, with Jayson Werth probably having an improved season and Bryce Harper waiting in the wings. And they’ve also added arms to the pen. In a lesser division, I’d feel confident with this Over, but they very well could be a 4th place team. Still, the talent is on board for 84 wins.

FINAL RECORD:  98-64.  Point Doogan, 11-9
Doogan “took the bait,” and it paid off big-time.  He won this one by September, as the “best team in baseball” cruised to an NL East title…and a division series flameout.  Oops…

21. BRY – Atlanta Braves – UNDER 89 wins: As Doogan explained in the last pick, the Nats are probably going to be better than they were a year ago. And, with the Marlins Over going off the board at #1, it’s safe to say that this division is much improved. And, while there is still a lot of talent on this Braves roster, the health and mental makeup of that talent is seemingly revealing a lot more questions than answers. The two most accomplished players on the roster – Chipper Jones and Tim Hudson – are out to start the season – possibly a bad omen for players on the downside of their career arcs. And, the rest of the pitching staff has been actually rather awful this spring. Jair Jurrjens doesn’t look healthy, and all those “young arms” look either overrated or not ready. And, then there are the questions surrounding this offense. It wasn’t very good last year and, possibly, the two most important bats in the lineup – Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman – don’t exactly look like a pillar of mental fortitude. They do still have absolute horses in the ‘pen, but Fredi Gonzalez has proven rather inept at utilizing a bullpen. The reason I didn’t make this pick earlier is because I wouldn’t be shocked for any result from 80 all the way to 100 wins. But, all in all, I disagree with your statement above, Doogan, and I think that this might be the 4th-place team you speak of, and, if so, they won’t even come close to 89 wins.

FINAL RECORD:  94-68.  Point Doogan, 12-9
Doogan is taking control of this, as Bry misses another pick.  That Bravo bullpen was incredible and, while Bry was right on Jair Jurrjens, he clearly didn’t consider the all-powerful Kris Medlen.

22. DOOGAN – Chicago White Sox – UNDER 79 wins: I’ll declare this the point of the draft where I won’t feel remotely sure about any picks from here on. The White Sox do have a potentially above-average rotation with John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Jake Peavy, and Philip Humber, who had a quiet nice season last year. Though Peavy is not close to what he once was and neither Danks nor Floyd resemble an ace. The offense struggled to score runs a year ago and can expect more of the same. Even if Adam Dunn rebounds (which he almost has to do), Carlos Quentin and his 24 homers are gone. Kenny Williams looks like he wants to rebuild, and as arguably the most aggressive GM in the biz, he could get very aggressive with unloading veterans in a couple months.

FINAL RECORD:  85-77.  Point Bry, 10-12
A very important point here for Bry, as Doogan underrated the ChiSox.  It’s hard to blame him, though, 85 wins for this team seems like overachieving.

23. BRY – Boston Red Sox – UNDER 90 wins: I have almost pulled the trigger on this one for about 10 rounds now, but I kept thinking about how much talent they have on this team. They have 5 elite offensive players and two elite starting pitchers. But, in a division this tough and a town this brutal, seasons can unravel quickly. Add to the fire a spitfire manager and a bullpen that is in complete disarray, I could see this team slipping towards .500. This isn’t an easy pick, but you can’t expect them to be easy around this time in the game.

FINAL RECORD:  69-93.  Point Bry, 11-12
For the 23rd pick, this one was rather stress-free.  The worst Red Sox team in a decade or so (and, not coincidentally, the first without Terry Francona), limped to the finish line with 69 wins.  69 wins?!?  With that talent and payroll?  Ouch…fire the manager!  Oh wait…

24. DOOGAN – Baltimore Orioles – UNDER 69 wins: A bad team, a bad organization, that’s just spinning its wheels in a beastly division. They haven’t topped 69 wins since 2006, when they won, you guessed it, 70. With the improved Blue Jays really only making this an even tougher division and no noteworthy additions to the roster, I don’t see why anyone should expect this year to be one where they win more than 67 games.

FINAL RECORD:  93-69.  Point Bry, 12-12
Three in a row for Bry, as Doogan misses BADLY on this pick.  Again, it’s hard to blame him because who saw this coming, but wow.  Think about it.  Everything Doogan said in the above paragraph seemed right on – at the time.  As crazy as the A’s season was, that Orioles season is mind-boggling.

25. BRY – Seattle Mariners – OVER 67 wins: A bad team, a bad organization, that’s just spinning its wheels…in a division that isn’t as beastly as the AL East. Yes, the pickins are getting slim here, but 67 is a pretty low number, especially when you get to play the A’s 19 times. Is it that big of a stretch to think that the Mariners might not hit 95 losses? Well…like I said, the pickens are getting slim.

FINAL RECORD:  75-87.  Point Bry, 13-12
Four straight for Bry to take the lead down the stretch.  Even now, though, looking back, I’m still surprised that that god-awful Mariners team managed 75 wins.  The only thing more surprising is that people are kind of calling them contenders in 2013.

26. DOOGAN – Tampa Bay Rays – UNDER 91 wins: You have to love the pitching staff, especially since their sixth-best starter would probably #3 in a lot of rotations. Looking for chinks in the armor, I’d say that Evan Longoria is the only sure-thing hitter in the lineup, with some other guys that go up-and-down or haven’t lived up to expectations yet. The bullpen has guys that were great last year but not guys that have long track records, so that could be a place where they take a step back, as well.

FINAL RECORD:  90-72.  Point Doogan, 13-13
Doogan stops the winning streak with a “skin-of-the-teeth” win on the Rays.  One of the biggest surprises of the Orioles season is that they kept a phenomenal Rays team out of the playoffs.  Just a crazy year in an AL East where Baltimore was 24 games better than Boston.

27. BRY – Cleveland Indians – OVER 80 wins: Okay, we’ve officially reached the “I have no idea range,” so this is more of a shot in the dark than anything. It’s probably a bad pick, considering the Tribe didn’t exactly add anyone from a team that probably overachieved last year, but this division stinks and there is some room for improvement from a year ago. You have to expect Shin-Soo Choo to rebound from a terrible year to be more like his career before the DUI. And, they did play most of the season without their best player – Carlos Santana – who is now healthy and could be a superstar. Plus, Justin Masterson has a chance to be a true ace – and by “true ace,” I really mean “reliable starting pitcher.” So, I guess I’ll take them to finish .500 or better, why not?

FINAL RECORD:  68-94.  Point Doogan, 14-13
A big miss here by Bry puts Doogan a game away from clinching at least a tie.  This pick looked good for a while, but an absolutely DREADFUL July for the Tribe ended any hope for this pick.

28. DOOGAN – Los Angeles Dodgers – OVER 82 wins: They have at least an average rotation, with reigning Cy Young winner Kershaw backed up by solid arms like Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsley. The line-up is a bit of a mess, but Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are a 3-4 combo that a lot of teams out there would take in heartbeat. The bullpen doesn’t look too formidable, but I’ll take the positive vibes they’re feeling from the end of the McCourt fiasco and say they can ride their two young super-stars to 83-85 wins.

FINAL RECORD:  86-76.  Point Doogan, 15-13
Doogan clinches at least a tie, as he takes a Dodgers team that looked a lot different at the end of the season than the beginning.  That being said, they didn’t play that much better after all those crazy trades.  This was a really nice pick this late, particularly upon citing the “end of the McCourt fiasco” as a step in the right direction.

29. BRY – Chicago Cubs – OVER 71 wins: So, left with two teams from the NL Central with O/Us of 72 and 71. Hmm… I’ll go with the Cubbies and the Over because 71 is a pretty low number for a team with such a high payroll and a really good General Manager. Granted, they do have an extreme dearth of talent, so Theo’s got his work cut out for him. Not surprisingly, considering it’s the 29th pick, but this seems like a total toss-up to me. So, I guess I’ll take the Cubs to avoid 91+ losses…I guess. Have fun with the last one, Doogan…

FINAL RECORD: 61-101.  Point Doogan, 16-13
Doogan clinches his second straight baseball preview title, as Bry misses by TEN games.  The Cubbies lost 101 in 2012…WOW!

30. DOOGAN – Pittsburgh Pirates – OVER 72 wins: Well, they just wrapped up a series win over the Phils, so if I went Under it would probably just look spiteful. I don’t want to be spiteful. Good job this weekend, Buccos. You can surely win 71 more games in 2012.

FINAL RECORD:  79-83.  Point Doogan, 17-13
Doogan ends it in style, picking up the last 5 points to defend his championship.  The Buckos are still looking for a winning record, though, so we’ll see who takes that in 2013…

Just How Sweet is Sweet?

So, we are down to 16 teams.  We can all rank the remaining teams based on how good we think they have been all year or what we expect them to do going forward.  And, we will all have similar – yet slightly different – opinions.  But, what if we tried to assess the 16 remaining teams strictly on their tournament performances to get here.  Who was the most impressive through the first two rounds?

This isn’t a list of who I think is the best team or who I think has the best chance of cutting down the nets.  This is strictly my assessment of how good each team looked last weekend.  Obviously, everyone is 2-0 (except LaSalle, who is 3-0), so I took am strictly basing these rankings on the quality of their opponents and the nature of their victories.  The higher seeds are at a bit of a disadvantage in this form of analysis because, by definition, they would have been playing weaker opponents, but they still had the ability to dominate these lower opponents – some did and some did not.

So, here is my list of the Sweet 16, in order of how dominant they looked in getting to this point. 

  1. Louisville – (#16 N.C. A&T 79-48, #8 Colorado St. 82-56)
    The #1 overall seed played every bit the part over the weekend.  They are a couple levels better than N.C. A&T, so that wasn’t a surprise, but their utter domination of a very good CSU team.  Yes, they earned and easier road through their #1-seed and were playing in their home state, but these two performances were head-turningly good.
     
  2. Wichita St. (#8 Pittsburgh 73-55, #1 Gonzaga 76-70)
    Whatever your feelings are about whether Gonzaga should have been a #1 or a #2, nothing changes the fact that they had 3 fewer losses than ANYONE ELSE IN THE COUNTRY, and were clearly a top 5 or 6 team coming into the tournament, and Wichita St. flat-out beat them.  And, that was coming off a drubbing of, what seemed to be, a woefully underseeded Pitt team.  Beating Pitt and Gonzaga over three days is very impressive in any fashion, but this team did so in dominating fashion.
     
  3. Florida Gulf Coast(#2 Georgetown 78-68, #7 San Diego St. 81-71)
    By no means am I saying the Dunk City Eagles are the 3rd-best team in the country.  I am not even saying that I think they have much of a shot against Florida on Friday.  But, if we are honest about evaluating the weekend’s performances, wouldn’t you say that only Louisville was more impressive this weekend?  They had double-digit wins over Georgetown and San Diego St. – and, as everyone knows – they looked like the better basketball team on each night.  With my love of low-major basketball and the fact that my parents own a place across the street from the FGCU campus, I have actually been following this team all year and consider myself a fan.  Their athleticism and bravado came as no surprise to me.  But, let’s pump the brakes on the arguments that they were underseeded.  I fully expected a 16-seed and would have been happy not to be in the First Four.  The A-Sun was one of the lowest rated conferences in the country this year – and THEY DIDN’T EVEN WIN THE LEAGUE.  They were 2nd-place, behind Mercer.  They were swept by Lipscomb and even lost a game to the lowly Black Bears of Maine.  They struggled to stop people all year and committed a TON of turnovers at various points in the season.  But, they put it together at the right time and played two phenomenal games of basketball in Philly this weekend.  They deserve this spot – not for the dunks, but for the defense they played against two loaded teams.
     
  4. Oregon(#5 Oklahoma St. 68-55, #4 St. Louis 74-57)
    Everyone who knew anything about the sport this year knew, without question, that Oregon’s 12-seed may have been the worst seeding job in recent history.  But, just because they weren’t your typical 12-seed doesn’t mean that the Ducks were supposed to have been THAT good.  The win over OSU was a really good – and convincing – win, but wasn’t completely unexpected.  But, the pummeling of a red-hot and incredibly-talented St. Louis team was shocking. 
     
  5. Michigan(#13 South Dakota St. 71-56, #5 VCU 78-53)
    It is hard to say just how much The Palace helped the Wolverines, from a homecourt standpoint, but regardless of that, they looked really good.  S.Dakota St. was not quite as good as everyone might think, but they did have a future NBA draft pick in Nate Wolters, so that’s always a scary First Round matchup.  But, they beat up the Jackrabbits handily.  That wasn’t nearly as surprising as what they did to a VCU team that several people had going to the Final Four.  They Wolverines absolutely pounded VCU, looking a lot more like the #1 team in the country that they were in January rather than the 5th-place Big Ten team they were in February.
     
  6. Michigan St. – (#14 Valparaiso 65-54, #6 Memphis 70-48)
    The other home team in The Palace last weekend also put on a show for its faithful.  The Spartans may have played some flawed opponents, but they absolutely dominated both games.  The Valpo game was the most lopsided 11-point game I’ve ever seen, and then Memphis looked like they didn’t even belong.  Coach Izzo – as usual – has this team rolling in March.
     
      
  7. Syracuse(#13 Montana 81-34, #12 California 64-61)
    The most dominant single-game performance of the tournament so far was, without a doubt, the absolutely drubbing that the ‘Cuse put on a solid Montana team.  And, then to follow that up with a solid win over a Cal team that was coming off an impressive win over UNLV and was, essentially, playing home games here is also a nice feat.  This Syracuse team might be playing their best ball of the year right now.
     
  8. Florida(#14 NW State 79-47, #11 Minnesota 78-64)
    Florida wasn’t really challenged at all this weekend, but that had more to do with them than their opponents – in my opinion.  NW State was a dangerous 14-seed that the Gators just dispatched, and Minnesota is one of the scarier 11-seeds I can remember because of their gobs of talent.  But, again, the Gators had no trouble.  It will be hard to know about this team, though, as their path to an Elite Eight is through a 14-, an 11-, and now a 15-seed.
     
  9. Arizona(#11 Belmont 81-64, #14 Harvard 74-51)
    Games against Belmont and Harvard looks more like a November non-conference schedule for Rider than a path to the Sweet 16, but you can only play who’s in front of you, and the ‘Cats have dominated who is in front of them.  And, it’s not like these are cupcakes at any point in the season – Belmont is a very good team, and Harvard (still a year away) took out New Mexico two days prior to the pounding they took from UA.
     
  10. LaSalle(#13 Boise St. 80-71, #4 Kansas St. 63-61, #12 Ole Miss 76-74)
    When thinking about these rankings, I totally expected LaSalle to be higher on this list because I am counting the First Four win they had over Boise St.  They are the only team to have won three games to get here.  And, as good as they look right now (and they look really good), they didn’t blow anyone out, and they didn’t really beat any real contenders.  Boise, K-State, and Ole Miss are all very good teams and good wins, but did anyone really think these teams were going anywhere?  I’ve got a TON of love for the Big Five – with LaSalle as my little brother team – and I will be rooting hard for the Explorers the whole way, but I couldn’t put them any higher on this list, even with that extra win.
     
  11. Duke(#15 Albany 73-61, #7 Creighton 66-50)
    The Dukies had a bit of a tussle with Albany in the first round, but I credit the Great Danes more than I discredit the Devils.  And, then on Sunday, Duke took care of a dangerous Creighton team with no trouble.  Their defensive performance against a potent Creighton offense on Sunday was mighty impressive.
     
  12. Miami(#15 Pacific 78-49, #7 Illinois 63-59)
    As good as the ‘Canes looked on Friday (and they looked real good) in manhandling an overmatched Pacific team, that’s how much they struggled against the Illini.  But, this time of year is about survive and advance, and that is what they did.  And, Illinois is a feisty team with big-time shotmakers, so that is a scary recipe for a second-round opponent, so it’s hard to hold too much against the ‘Canes.  They just are going to need something from Durand Scott going forward, especially now that they are without Reggie Johnson.
     
  13. Indiana(#16 James Madison 83-62, #8 Temple 58-52) 
    The Hoosiers handled JMU with an unsurprising ease, but we all know how much they struggled to beat the Owls on Sunday.  And, with the exception of Khaliff Wyatt (offensively), Temple wasn’t all that great.  It isn’t a stretch (or me being a homer) to say that IU is lucky to still be alive in this tournament.  That being said, they did make the plays they needed to make and have to be given some credit for holding the non-Wyatt Owls to just 21 points.  But, they will not beat Syracuse playing the game they played on Sunday.
      
  14. Ohio St.(#15 Iona 95-70, #10 Iowa St. 78-75)
    I have to admit, I might be low on the OSU performance this weekend because I’m kind of low on them, in general, but I will still stand firm that their two performances were underwhelming, to me, particularly if you factor that these games were being played in the backyard in Dayton.  Granted, they did beat Iona, who was probably the best of the 15-seeds going into the tournament (yes, that definitely includes the Dunk City Eagles), by 25, but they didn’t look completely dominant in that game.  And, say what you will about the block/charge call on Craft, but those calls are missed multiple times throughout every game, this one just happened to be in the final two minutes.  And, it’s not like that literally lost them the game.  There were still 80 seconds left in a one-possession game.  That said, ISU is good, but not great, and they took it to the Buckeyes – in Dayton – in the final 8 minutes of that game and easily could have found themselves near the top of this list today.
      
  15. Kansas(#16 Western Kentucky 64-57, #8 North Carolina 70-58)
    Here’s a bold statement for you – if I had to redo my brackets today, I would have the Jayhawks winning this tournament.  But, as bold as that is, it is not AT ALL because of how they played in the first two rounds.  They actually played 3 BAD halves of basketball.  If they weren’t playing a 16-seed, their First Round performance would have ended their season.  And, the first half of their game against UNC easily could have ended their season.  But, that second half was a thing of beauty.  If they play like that, they will win the title.  But, any more halves like those first three and my boldness will be thrown in my face.
     
  16. Marquette(#13 Davidson 59-58, #6 Butler 74-72
    Marquette won two games and probably should have lost them both.  They definitely should have lost the Davidson game, as that was the biggest heartbreaker of the tournament.  Then, that crazy Butler finish could easily have gone the other way.  But, a 3-point margin – total – in two wins counts just the same as Louisville’s 55-point margin.  Both teams are four wins from a title.
  17.  

CTC Day Thirteen: A Nearly-Perfect Stumpf Wins the Final Day, but No One Catches Mac, who Takes the 2013 CTC Overall Title

Stumpf was a UNC win away from a perfect Day Thirteen.  Bry was a UNC win away from the 2013 CTC Overall Title.  But, Miami came through, won the ACC, and Mac is our 2013 CTC Overall Champion!

Defending champion, Primm, put in another really nice showing, finishing in 3rd place, while Stumpf and GrossSr’s miraculous runs down the stretch (1885 and 1853 points, respectively over just the last 4 days – more than 150 more than anyone else in the field) fell just short of a title, it did vault them Stumpf to 4th place and GrossSr to 6th place overall.  Sneaking into 5th on the final day gives Doogan yet another Top-5 finish.

Caleb had the biggest climb on the final day, jumping from 21st to 14th on the strength of the Miami and Ohio St wins.  Waters jumped up 3 spots to finish in a respectable 17th, just a point behind Lynch for 16th.  RDoc climbed two spots for a final of 8th place.  GrossJr – thanks to Ohio St. and St. Louis – avoids a last-place finish on the final day.

PapaCim took a goose egg, falling behind GrossJr into last in his debut CTC.  GrossSr, after three other-worldly days, took a zero himself, falling from 3rd to 6th.  Lazarow and Dave fell 3 spots each, but barely stayed in the Top 20 at 19th and 20th.  Cheryl fell out of the top 20, as her zero took her from 19th to 22nd.  Alexi lost a Top-5 finish, as he slipped to 7th, and Teddy lost a Top-10 finish, falling from 9th to 11th.

Overall, it was quite the performance by Mac, who was consistent throughout the fortnight to complete the first ever 3,000-point CTC.  Bry has to settle for his 3rd straight 2nd-place overall finish.

DAY THIRTEEN SCORES (days won):

  1. Stumpf – 180 (1)
  2. Primm – 160 (1)
  3. Caleb – 140
  4. GrossJr – 134
  5. Doogan – 114 (1)
  6. J – 80 (1)
  7. LohseJr – 80 (1)
  8. RDoc – 80 (1)
  9. Waters – 80
  10. Mac – 60 (2)
  11. Bry – 54 (2)
  12. Scoot – 54
  13. Alex – 0 (1)
  14. Alexi – 0
  15. Cheryl – 0
  16. Dave – 0 (1)
  17. Gersh – 0
  18. GrossSr – 0 (1)
  19. Lazarow – 0 (1)
  20. Lohse – 0
  21. Lynch – 0
  22. PapaCim – 0
  23. Rikey – 0 (1)
  24. Teddy – 0 (1)

OVERALL STANDINGS (conferences won):

  1. Mac – 3003.5 (MVC, BigEast)
  2. Bry – 2963 (SoCon, A-10)
  3. Primm – 2891.5 (CAA, SEC, BigSky)
  4. Stumpf – 2857 (NEC, A-10)
  5. Doogan – 2823 (Pac12, A-10)
  6. GrossSr – 2805 (WCC, MWest, GWest)
  7. Alexi – 2720.5 (WAC, BigWest)
  8. RDoc – 2669.5 (C-USA)
  9. Alex – 2652 (MEAC)
  10. LohseJr – 2615.5 (MWest, BigXII)
  11. Teddy – 2603 (SWAC, ACC)
  12. Gersh – 2534 (OVC, CAA)
  13. Lohse – 2480 (Patriot, MAAC, Summit)
  14. Caleb – 2456 (Horizon, ACC)
  15. Rikey – 2449.5 (Patriot, SWAC)
  16. Lynch – 2440 (ASun, WAC)
  17. Waters – 2439
  18. Scoot – 2421.5 (BigSky)
  19. Lazarow – 2401.5 (BigSouth, SunBelt, Pac12, GWest)
  20. Dave – 2392.5 (AmEast, GWest)
  21. J – 2386 (Patriot, MAC, Southland)
  22. Cheryl – 2360 (BigTen)
  23. GrossJr – 2346.5 (Patriot, SWAC)
  24. PapaCim – 2294.5 (ASun, Southland, Pac12)

2013 CTC: The SEC (FINAL)

Has this been the worst season in the history of the Southeastern Conference?  No, seriously.  And, this is the season they expanded to 14 teams, including adding a really good program, Missouri, and a decent program, Texas A&M.  And, they have the most overlooked ELITE team in the nation in Florida.  The Gators have been not near the top, but AT the top of the tempo-free numbers all year.  They are have a historically good year on the defensive end.  And, still, this is a terrible year for the SEC.  Kentucky, despite their second-place finish, is on the bubble.  Vanderbilt is way down this year.  Alabama and Arkansas didn’t live up to preseason expectations, despite very solid coaches with decent talent.  Tennessee made a late-season run, but was bad for most of the year.  And, Ole Miss, looked like a Top-10 team for a couple months and then a really bad team for about a month and a half.  If Georgia and LSU weren’t lined up against each other for the right to lose to Florida, I might call either (or both) of them sleepers.  This is just a flat-out bad year for the SEC.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 17th – 60 points)

#1 Florida vs #3 Ole Miss
Marshall Henderson and company have done what they have needed to do.  They got a late win over Mizzou and took care of a really hungry (and incredibly well-coached, obviously) Vandy team to get them to the finals.  A win here would put them in automatically, but they probably just need to avoid getting embarrassed in order to get an at-large.  I still think Florida has an outside shot at a #1-seed, though they are probably playing for a #2 here on Sunday.  More importantly, they are playing for an SEC title.

Primm and Stumpf would pick up a cool 100 points here with an Ole Miss championship.

Ole Miss 66 – Florida 63
What looked like it was going to be a blowout Florida win, quickly turned into yet another amazing chapter in the life of the 2012-13 Ole Miss Rebels.  They erased a 12-point halftime deficit (that seemed like even more than a dozen) and ended up watching a Kenny Boynton three bounce off the rim as time expired, punching Andy Kennedy’s first-ever dance ticket.  Who needs a Committee when you can just win your win into the tournament?

Primm and Stumpf pick up a huge 100 points here.  The half the field that had Florida missed out big here.

SEMIFINALS (March 16th – 40 points each)

#1 Florida vs #4 Alabama
The Gators pounded LSU with no issue in the quarters on Friday, while Alabama held the Tennessee Vols to 48 points in a nice win.  ‘Bama could get themselves into serious bubble discussion with a win here, but without one, they are probably NIT-bound.  The Gators are still very much in the discussion for a #1-seed.

Nobody has ‘Bama here, but Doogan, J, and Lazarow have already lost it with Tennessee.  The other 21 people have UF, including half the field (Alex, Alexi, Bry, Cheryl, Dave, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, LohseJr, Mac, Rikey, RDoc, Teddy, and Waters) that took them to win the tournament.

Florida 61 – Alabama 51
With ‘Bama leading most of the way, the Gators found another gear midway through the second half – mostly because Kenny Boynton decided he’d missed enough shots – and rallied to move on to tomorrow’s SEC Championship.  Alabama now has a long wait tomorrow that will probably end one win shy of tournament selection.

21 people got this one right, including half the field, who kept alive their champs.

#3 Ole Miss vs #10 Vanderbilt
Just as the clock struck midnight Saturday morning, Derek Millinghouse came off the bench to give the Ole Miss Rebels their biggest win in a long time over Missouri.  Now, they get a shot at Vandy for the right to go to the SEC Championship on Sunday, which should put them in safely in the field.  Vandy has already beaten two bubble teams – Arkansas and Kentucky – and now they get the Rebels.  Crazy matchup here in the late semi.

While no one has Vandy here, GrossSr, J, Primm, and Stumpf all have the Rebels winning this game.  Primm and Stumpf have them winning this tournament.  12 people (Alex, Alexi, Bry, Cheryl, Dave, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, LohseJr, Mac, Rikey, RDoc, Teddy, and Waters) would pick up 60 if the Gators win it.  Primm takes the 2013 CTC SEC crown with an Ole Miss win, while Gersh takes it with a Florida win.

Ole Miss 64 – Vanderbilt 52
Henderson dropped a very loud 23, while Buckner and Holloway combined for a very quiet 27, as Ole Miss took control in the second half of a tight game and now put themselves in position not to have to wait for the Committee’s decision.  But, barring an embarrassing showing tomorrow, they should be in the field.

GrossSr, J, Primm, and Stumpf were all right about a very impressive Ole Miss run to the finals.  Primm and Stumpf can complete a monumental pick if the Rebs win tomorrow.

QUARTERFINALS (March 15th – 20 points each)

#1 Florida vs #9 LSU
This Gators teams has been forgotten about pretty much all year.  Maybe it’s because the SEC is so “down.”  Maybe it’s because they haven’t reached #1 in the polls.  Or, maybe it’s just because people forget how important defense (not “shot-blocking”) is.  This team plays hard-nosed, physical, team-oriented defense.  They don’t have that posterboy shot-blocker.  They don’t have a clever name.  They don’t press you all day long.  They just stop you from scoring – period.  And, their offense ain’t too shabby, either, with sharp-shooting guards, the ole “stretch-four,” and low-post presence.  Do not be surprised if this team is the last one standing a month from now.  Their first SEC Tournament game this year will be against an LSU team that took care of business on Thursday against 8th-seeded Georgia in a tough game.

Everyone has Florida in this one, including half the field (Alex, Alexi, Bry, Cheryl, Dave, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, LohseJr, Mac, Rikey, RDoc, Teddy, and Waters) taking them to win this tournament.

Florida 80 – LSU 58
Erick Murphy felt healthy and went OFF on the Tigers in the quarterfinal appetizer here.  Murphy dropped 27 and 12 on LSU, ending any hopes they had at a long run in this tournament.  The future is bright, though, for the Tigers, who have some young guys and a decent recruiting class coming in next year.  Florida will move on to Saturday’s semifinal against either Alabama or Tennessee.

Everyone got this right, including half the field, who kept alive their champs.

#4 Alabama vs #5 Tennessee
Anthony Grant isn’t a good coach – he’s a great coach.  Which makes this subpar Alabama season all the more head-scratching.  They probably need at least two wins (with one of them over Florida) to make the Dance, which is really an underachievement.  Or is it?  Are Trevor Relaford and Trevor Lacey really all that good?  And, is this frontcourt big enough and deep enough to be an upper-eschelon team?  I’m not sure.  Honestly, if I had to choose this coach or this roster on which to place the blame when they miss the tournament, I’m definitely blaming the roster.  As for Cuonzo Martin’s Vols, they are knocking at the door yet again, but if they lose this one, they will probably fall short yet again.  This is clearly a bubble elimination game.

While everyone has one of these two teams, only eight people (Caleb, Gersh, Lohse, LohseJr, Lynch, Mac, Primm, and Rikey) rolled with the Tide, with none of them have ‘Bama over Florida in the semis.  J and Lazarow have the most at stake here with UT, as they have Tennessee winning this tournament and eliminating the bubble talk.  Doogan has a lot at stake here, as well, with Tennessee reaching the finals.

Alabama 58 – Tennessee 48
In an ugly game, the Crimson Tide earns the chance to battle Florida in the first semi on Saturday.  The Tide held the Vols to a meager 32% from the floor and 21% on 3s, while the Vols held themselves to a dreadful 50% (7-14) from the free-throw line.  ‘Bama’s defense was good, but they’ll need a better game than this to beat the Gators.

Eight people hit the favored ‘Bama here.  J and Lazarow lost their SEC champs.

#2 Kentucky vs #10 Vanderbilt
What a season for the ‘Cats.  They may have saved their bubble chances on Saturday with a win over Florida to close out the regular season, but an L here to start the SEC Tournament would almost nullify the gains they made by beating the Gators.  This just isn’t all that good of a team.  But, it’s important to remember the names Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley-Stein because if they’re smart, they will be first off the bench for Kentucky next year.  If they’re dumb, they’ll be last off the bench for some NBA team.  All three could be solid pros, but they’re far from ready.  The struggles of the ‘Cats this year only accentuates just how good last year’s team was.  Vandy, who popped Arkansas’s bubble Thursday night, is hoping to pop another one tonight (and, then possibly another one Saturday, if they get Ole Miss…).

Cheryl, Doogan, Gersh, and Teddy are all on Vandy here, hoping for a 100-point upset.  Eight people (Alexi, Caleb, J, Lynch, Primm, Rikey, RDoc, and Stumpf) have already lost this game with Arkansas.  The other half of the field has UK here, though only PapaCim has the ‘Cats winning this tournament, so this is a big game for him.

Vanderbilt 64 – Kentucky 48
Welcome to the NIT, ‘Cats.  One day after sending Arkansas to the NIT, the Commodores appeared to have done the same to Kentucky here.  Who knows, maybe they’ll get to face Ole Miss tomorrow with the chance to pop three bubbles in three days.  This is a terrible ending to a terrible season in Lexington.  As for Vandy, they don’t really have the talent, but that Kevin Stallings proves – YET AGAIN – they he can flat-out coach.

Cheryl, Doogan, Gersh, and Teddy all pull off the massive, 100-point upset here.  The eight people with Arkansas winning here are happy.  PapaCim is not, as he had UK winning this tournament.

#3 Ole Miss vs #6 Missouri
What a terrific game to cap off a nice quarterfinal quarduple-header in the SEC.  Ole Miss hasn’t made the tournament under Andy Kennedy, despite Kennedy putting together one of the most successful first five years in SEC coaching history.  This was the year, but the wheels fell off, including head-scratching losses to South Carolina and Mississippi St. (ouch!).  That being said, they have the talent to beat anyone in the country.  Most people are aware of the off-the-wall antics of Marshall Henderson (who I love, actually), and a lot of people also know about his game – which is LIGHTS-OUT.  What people don’t realize is that this team would have tournament talent without Henderson’s 20 points per game and All-American baggage.  Murphy Holloway and Reggie Buckner, in particular, are bonafied studs.  This is a great one to close up shop with in the Big XII semis.

Only six people (GrossSr, J, LohseJr, Primm, Stumpf, and Waters) took the Rebels in this one.  The other 18 all have Mizzou, many of whom have a lot at risk here with the Tigers, particularly Caleb, Doogan, Lohse, Lynch, and Scoot, who all have them winning this tournament.

Ole Miss 64 – Missouri 62
Let’s not throw dirt on Mr. Henderson and the Rebels quite yet, as reserve guard Derrick Millinghaus hit a game-winner with 1.1 seconds left to upset the Mizzou and send Ole Miss to a semifinal matchup against the SEC undertakers, Vanderbilt, who have already ended the NCAA tournament hopes of Arkansas and Kentucky.

Six people hit this mighty nice upset, while 5 others lost their SEC champion here.

SECOND ROUND (March 14th – 10 points each)

#8 Georgia vs #9 LSU
The two live sleeper picks in this tourney, and they are lined up against each other in the 8/9 game for the right to play a top-seeded Florida team that is not exactly a good candidate to be upset.  Oh well…  Johnny Jones has done a really good job making this LSU team competitive again.  And, there is no reason – with their tradition, location, and resources – that this can’t be a big-time program again.  As for UGa, they have never really invested in the basketball program, and their results show that.  Regardless, though, they always seem to find some super-talented kids, and this year’s team is no exception as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a STUD.  (Anyone who follows the CTC knows my love affair with awesome names, and Kentavious is certainly one of the best this year.)

Half the field (Alex, Bry, Dave, Doogan, GrossSr, J, LohseJr, PapaCim, Primm, Rikey, RDoc, and Scoot) went with the ‘dog, while the other half took the Dawgs.  No one has either of these teams beating the Gators in the quarters on Friday.

LSU 69 – Georgia 63
LSU was up as many as 23 in this one, including a 20-point halftime lead and held on against a furious UGA comeback.  The Tigers, who got 24 from from Shavon Coleman, will move on to face #1 Florida in the quarters on Friday.  The great-named Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 32 in the losing effort.

12 people got this one right.

#5 Tennessee vs #13 Mississippi St.
The Volunteers are doing their old thing again.  They were terrible for a while and now they are RED-HOT and making people talk about them in the bubble conversation.  This is two years in a row that have played out this exact same way.  Well, if they really want to be in the conversation, they can’t possibly slip up here against a bad Mississippi St. team, who squeaked past South Carolina in the opening round.  The winner of this game will take on Alabama in the quarters.

Mac and Primm have the big MSU upset here.  J, Lazarow, and Doogan have the most at stake with Tennessee here, as they all have them going to the finals.  A slew of people having the Vols beating Alabama on Friday.

Tennessee 69 – Mississippi St. 53
The Vols make short work of MSU here to advance to the quarters for a big bubble battle with Alabama.  A bad year for the Bulldogs was softened a little by winning a game in this tournament, but a full rebuild is in order in Starkville.

Mac and Primm miss out on a big upset, while J, Lazarow, and Doogan keep alive finalists.

#7 Arkansas vs #10 Vanderbilt
Kevin Stallings is one of the best coaches in the country that no one ever talks about.   After the graduation of Jeffrey Taylor and John Jenkins (among others), there wasn’t much left for the Commodores on the roster.  But, Stallings did another fantastic job with this team – just to finish 10th.  He’s really, really good.  Arkansas was one of the more disappointing teams in the SEC this year, as the Razorbacks were excellent at home, but kind of terrible on the road.  This team has tournament talent, but won’t be going without a long run here this week.  The winner of this game will get Coach Cal and the UK Wildcats on Friday in the quarters.

Ten people (Alex, Bry, Cheryl, Dave, Doogan, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, Scoot, and Teddy) have Vandy here.  Cheryl, Doogan, Gersh, and Teddy have them winning again on Friday.  Eight people (Alexi, Caleb, J, Lynch, Primm, RDoc, Rikey, and Stumpf) have the Hogs winning Thursday and Friday, though no one has them in the finals.

Vanderbilt 75 – Arkansas 72
Poor free throw shooting for Vandy nearly blew them a big lead, but they hit the ones they needed down the stretch, and the Commodores advance to the quarters to take on Kentucky on Friday.  A disappointing season for Arkansas ends here with a likely trip to the NIT upcoming.

Ten people hit this upset pick, with Cheryl, Doogan, Gersh, and Teddy keeping alive the possibility for a huge upset in the quarters  Eight people lost semifinalists here.

#6 Missouri vs #11 Texas A&M
The nightcap of the SEC second round quadruple-header is the best game of the day in Atlanta.  A&M took care of Auburn on Wednesday to set up a matchup with Mizzou here in the second round.  The winner will get #3 Ole Miss in the quarters.  Missouri lost a lot, but they still have a lot, too, including the influx of Lawrence Bowers (who’s awesome) off an injury and Alex Oriahki (who’s NOT awesome), a transfer from UConn.  With Flip Pressey at the point, the sky is the limit for this team.

J is the only one with A&M in this one, so he will get a free 60 points with an upset here.  Plus, he will bust a lot of brackets in the process.  FIFTEEN people (Alex, Alexi, Caleb, Cheryl, Dave, Doogan, Gersh, GrossJr, Lazarow, Lohse, Lynch, RDoc, Rikey, Scoot, and Teddy) have Mizzou in the finals – though, interestingly, all 15 have them losing there.  Throw in Bry, Mac, and PapaCim, who have them upsetting Ole Miss and that is 18 people with a semifinalist at stake in this one tonight.

Missouri 63 – Texas A&M 50
Alex Oriahki had a double-double for the Tigers, and the Aggies season ends with their 24% shooting performance.  The Tigers move on to a tasty Friday quarterfinal date with Ole Miss.

J misses a lone upset pick here, while 15 people keep alive a finalist.

OPENING ROUND (March 13th – 5 points)

#11 Texas A&M vs #14 Auburn
If you haven’t seen A&M play this year, you’re missing out on one of the better unknown talents in the country.  Elston Turner is really, really good.  But, the rest of the team is not, and with the great Mark Turgeon now coaching Maryland, lack of talent can’t be hidden in College Station anymore.  How about Auburn?  Remember when they were good?  Na, me neither.  That one amazing season with all the JUCOs notwithstanding, this program hasn’t been much of anything since Sir Charles was drafted by the 76ers.  The winner of this game will take their shot at #6 Missouri on Thursday.

Six people (Bry, Dave, Doogan, GrossSr, PapaCim, and Waters) took a shot with Auburn here, though none have them beating Mizzou.  J has the most at stake with A&M, as he has them beating the Tigers tomorrow to reach the quarters.

Texas A&M 71 – Auburn 62
Elston Turner scored 22 points with a broken pinkie, and A&M controlled this first round game all night, ending a forgettable season for Auburn and setting up a matchup with Mizzou for the Aggies.

Six people missed the upset pick, while J keeps alive a quarterfinalist.

#12 South Carolina vs #13 Mississippi St.
I love Frank Martin.  I don’t care what anyone says, I’d let Frank Martin coach my favorite team any day.  He brings toughness, defense, commitment, and effort to every second of every game and probably every practice.  Unfortunately, he didn’t bring any players when he made the abrupt decision to leave K-State this offseason and head to South Carolina.  There is absolutely no one on this roster, but give Martin a couple seasons and this team will be good.  But, what is most indicative of the atrociousness of the SEC this year is the Mississippi St. didn’t even finish in last place.  This Bulldog team is even more dreadful than it’s first round opponent on Wednesday.  In fact, why don’t we just call this game the Reasons Why Ole Miss Is On The Bubble Bowl because wins over the Rebels are the only good things on the resumes of these two teams.  The non-loser of this game will play #5 Tennessee in the quarters on Thursday.

Caleb, Cheryl, GrossSr, Mac, and Primm took MSU in the mild upset here, with Mac and Primm both taking the ‘Dogs to beat Tennessee.  None of the 19 people who took USC here have them beating the Vols.

Mississippi St. 70 – South Carolina 59
MSU has won three of their last four after a 13-game losing streak, and they dominate USC Wednesday night, ending the first Gamecock season for Frank Martin.  MSU moves on to face Tennessee in the second round.

Caleb, Cheryl, GrossSr, Mac, and Primm hit this mild upset, with Mac and Primm in line for a possible big upset in the next round.

CTC UPDATE

Championship Picks

  • #1 Florida (12)
  • #2 Kentucky (1)
  • #3 Ole Miss (2)
  • #4 Alabama (-)
  • #5 Tennessee (1)
  • #6 Missouri (5)

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #14 Auburn (Alex, Bry, Dave, Doogan, PapaCim & Waters)
  • R2 – #13 Mississippi St. (Mac & Primm)
  • QF – #10 Vanderbilt (Cheryl, Doogan, Gersh & Teddy)
  • SF – #6 Missouri (many)
  • Champ – #6 Missouri (Caleb, Doogan, Lohse, Lynch & Scoot)

Previous CTC Champions

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

2013 Scores

  1. Primm (’13) – 300
  2. Stumpf – 260
  3. Gersh – 245
  4. Cheryl – 235
  5. GrossSr – 225
  6. Teddy – 225
  7. Doogan – 200
  8. Alex – 145
  9. LohseJr – 145
  10. Scoot – 145
  11. Bry – 140
  12. Dave – 140
  13. J – 130
  14. GrossJr – 125
  15. Rikey – 125 (’11*)
  16. Caleb – 115
  17. Lohse – 105
  18. Lynch – 105
  19. Mac – 105 (’12)
  20. RDoc – 105
  21. PapaCim – 100
  22. Waters – 100 (’08)
  23. Alexi – 85 (’09, ’10)
  24. Lazarow – 45 

2013 CTC: The Big Ten Conference (FINAL)

For a while, I thought that this conference might be the best conference I had ever seen.  And, it still might be, but the bottom falling out of Northwestern, the injury to Penn State’s Tim Frazier, and the disappointing play of Tubby Smith’s Minnesota team has given me pause on that assertion.  But, on the positive side, I didn’t see Illinois being a tournament team – and they clearly are.  Nebraska is better than people think, as is Purdue.  Iowa is really underrated, as well.  And, then there are those FIVE national title contenders.  Yes…five.  This tournament is going to be insane.  In fact, the potential MichiganWisconsin quarterfinal is a Sweet 16-caliber game, at least.  Then, the winner of that game could face Indiana in the semis – that’s a Final Four-caliber game.  As is the other possible semifinal between Ohio St. and Michigan St..  This is gonna be a CRAZY four days in the Windy City.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 17th – 60 points)

#2 Ohio St. vs #4 Wisconsin
Not exactly the championship that this loaded conference expected, but maybe it’s just the perfect example of just how loaded this conference is.  And, honestly, this might just be an example of how loaded this conference is in COACHING, as two of the best in America have gotten their teams to the title game here in the B1G.  It’s hard to say where either of these teams will be seeded Sunday night, but it should be interesting either way.

Cheryl is all alone with her Wisconsin title pick, so this would be a free and clear 120 points for her if the Badgers can win it.  Seven people (Caleb, GrossJr, J, LohseJr, RDoc, Stumpf, and Waters) have Ohio St. here.  Obviously, Cheryl will win the 2013 CTC Big Ten crown with a Wisconsin win here, but the amazing part is that she will win the outright title even if OSU wins.  An impressive Big Ten performance for Cheryl will definitely end with a CTC crown.

Ohio St. 50 – Wisconsin 43
The Badgers love the ugliness that this game epitomized, and they usually come out on the right end of these dentist-like games.  But, when scoring comes tough on both ends, a team with DeSean Thomas usually has a decided advantage because that dude can score from anywhere, any how.  Don’t tell me there isn’t a prominent role in the NBA for a guy like that.  I just hope he waits until 2014 to test that theory.  Either way, the Buckeyes are happy with a 3rd Big Ten Championship in four years – VERY impressive.

Cheryl misses a huge championship pick, as she was the only one with Wisconsin.  Seven people did get this right with the Bucks, but it didn’t matter, as Cheryl had already locked up the 2013 Big Ten title.

SEMIFINALS (March 16th – 40 points each)

#1 Indiana vs #4 Wisconsin
Ho-hum, another underwhelming team on paper…another top-4 finish and a semifinals appearance in the Big Ten Tournament.  Just another year for Bo Ryan – even after losing John Gasser, his point guard, for the season in the first practice.  The Badgers took care of Michigan on Friday and now get Indiana on Saturday.  The Hoosiers pounded Illinois to get to the semis here.

Cheryl and Lynch are the only two with Wisconsin here, with Cheryl taking the Badgers to win the tournament.  Caleb, Dave, Doogan, GrossJr, Lazarow, Primm, RDoc, Stumpf, and Teddy have already lost this game with Michigan.  Everyone else has IU, including 6 people (Alex, Alexi, Gersh, GrossSr, Lohse, and Mac), who picked them to win this tournament.

Wisconsin 68 – Indiana 56
Bo Ryan, you are the man.  How does he do it?  Every single year.  This team that looks like an intramural team at some D-2 school in the Midwest just keeps on beating up on the Big Ten year after year.  Hell, their leading scorer JUMPS when he shoots free throws!  And, they just beat arguably the most talented team in the country handly to head to the Big Ten Championship tomorrow.

Cheryl and Lynch understand how good Bo is and picked up some nice points here.  6 people lost their champ.

#2 Ohio St. vs #3 Michigan St.
This one is going to be great.  OSU is playing their best ball of the year right now and have a guy – DeSean Thomas – that is a nightmarish matchup for anyone, but especially Michigan St., who doesn’t really have anyone who can remotely match up with him.  This game will probably be won at the point guard spot.  Whoever plays better between Craft and Appling will probably lead his team to Sunday’s finals.

This game is as big as it gets in the CTC.  A Day Twelve matchup, where all 24 people have  one of the two teams, and it is almost completely split, with 13 for Ohio St. and 11 for Michigan St. (MSU people are Alex, Bry, Doogan, Gersh, GrossSr, Lazarow, Lynch, PapaCim, Primm, Rikey, and Scoot).   Seven people (Caleb, GrossJr, J, LohseJr, RDoc, Stumpf, and Waters) have the Buckeyes winning this tournament, and seven others (Bry, Doogan, Lazarow, Lynch, PapaCim, Rikey, and Scoot) have the Spartans winning it all.  This game will go a long way towards shaping the 2013 CTC’s final standings.

Ohio St. 61 – Michigan St. 58
In a game that felt like it should have been played two weeks from now, Thad Matta’s crew continues to roll through with their two-man wrecking crew of Aaron Craft and DeSean Thomas.  Neither team held a double-digit lead all day, and it was one of those truly great March basketball games.  Regardless of your rooting interest, you have to be glad just to be a fan of the sport when you get these two heavyweights pounding away as if the game really, REALLY matters…and, in college sports, it DOES.

This was as big a game for the CTC as there is.  13 people got OSU, while the other 11 missed on MSU.  Seven people kept their champion alive; seven people lost their champion.  Wisconsin is the only thing standing in the way of another Ohio St. Big Ten Championship tomorrow…but Bo is ready.

QUARTERFINALS (March 15th – 20 points each)

#1 Indiana vs #8 Illinois
As thrilling as a 51-49 game can be, that’s what Thursday’s opening round win over Minnesota was for the Illini.  Now, I’m no betting man, but I would wager that they might need more than 51 points if they want to shock the #1 Hoosiers here in the quarters.  Tom Crean has Indiana back on the map.  After some really dark years, this team has come all the way back and, to me, is the definitely the favorite to win this year’s national championship.  The rise of Victor Oladipo (which is extraordinary, by the way – he was a guy who was athletic and raw without a jumpshot just two years ago, and now he LEADS THE NATION in effective field goal percentage, as well as one of the best all-around defenders in the country) has made people completely forget about Cody Zeller.  The youngest of the Zeller family that already has two in the NBA might actually be the best.  And, to have a pure scorer on the block that loves to run the floor is a luxury that not many teams in college have any more.  Throw in a great backcourt of the solid, experienced dead-eye shooter in Jordan Hulls and the least talked about incredible freshman in the country, Yogi Ferrell (who, if he wasn’t on this stacked team, might be getting Marcus Smart-type accolades – he’s THAT good), and the ever-important “stretch-four” in Christian Watford (another future NBA’er), this team is completely loaded.

Primm has already lost this game with Minnesota, but everyone else has Indiana, though that includes only 6 people (Alex, Alexi, Gersh, GrossSr, Lohse, and Mac), who picked them to win this tournament.

Indiana 80 – Illinois 64
Cody Zeller showed the world who had forgotten about him just how good he is by simply dominating the Illini in the first B1G quarterfinal.  Victor Oladipo had 12 points and 11 boards and shut down Thursday’s hero, Brandon Paul.

Everyone except Primm got the 20 points for this one.  Six people keep alive their champ.

#4 Wisconsin vs #5 Michigan
You like amazing stats?  Here’s one:  did you know that a Bo Ryan team has NEVER been outside of the top 4 in his conference.  Not in 13 years at Wisconsin nor 3 years at UW-Milwaukee nor even 16 years at D-II Wisconsin-Platteville.  And, while I don’t know for sure, I’m guessing he was in the top 4 in the Interact League at Sun Valley High School and Brookhaven Middle School, as well.  But, seriously, how amazing is that?  13 years in the BIG TEN – and not at Indiana or Michigan or MSU or OSU, at WISCONSIN – and every single year, he’s been in the top 4.  And, every year, you can look at the roster and know that, from a talent perspective, there are at least one or two teams below them in the standings with WAY more talent.  This year is no different.  Minnesota, Illinois, and MOST DEFINITELY Michigan, their quarterfinal opponent, are all WAY more talented than this Badgers squad.  But, they all played yesterday, while UW sat in the hotel rooms enjoying their bye.  That guy is awesome – not that it should surprise anyone, considering he’s a product of the Delaware Valley…

But, I guess talent sways in the CTC, as only five people (Cheryl, J, Lynch, Mac, and Waters) took Wisconsin here.  On the other hand, the field loves the Wolverines.  Not only do 19 people have them winning on Friday, but nine people (Caleb, Dave, Doogan, GrossJr, Lazarow, Primm, RDoc, Stumpf, and Teddy) have them going to the finals, three of whom (Dave, Primm, and Teddy) have them winning the tournament.  Cheryl took Wisconsin to win this tournament, while Lynch has them reaching the finals, before losing there.

Wisconsin 68 – Michigan 59
When you allow 51 points in a half to a Bo Ryan-coached Wisconsin team, you’re not gonna win many of those games – even if you did hold them to 17 in the first half.  Trae Jackson, Ben Brust, and Ryan Evans were all in double-figures, as the Badgers advance to the semis to take on #1 Indiana.

Only five people got this one right (including Cheryl, who keeps her champ alive), but the Michigan loss did some serious bracket-busting here.  Dave, Primm, and Teddy lost their champ, while nine others lost their finalist.

#2 Ohio St. vs #10 Nebraska
I was wondering this a couple weeks ago – are Aaron Craft, DeShaun Thomas, and Thad Matta WAY better than we even think they are or is the supporting cast not as mediocre as they seem?  At least one of those two things has to be true or, otherwise, this OSU team wouldn’t be a legit Final Four contender, which they clearly appear to be, at this point.  Either way, I love Aaron Craft – and not for the reasons that people may think.  I love him simply because he’s a hard-nosed, gritty, red-faced, white point guard that gives way too much effort on every possession and yet is NOT annoying.  All the years of the Jerry McNamaras, Steve Blakes, and the grandaddy of them all, Wojo, where you just can’t help yourself but by so freaking annoyed by them has soured the basketball world on the white, high-effort point guards.  But, Craft is all of the things that his predecessors were, except for the off-the-charts annoyance factor.  And, he is a legitimately good defender, despite the complete overstatements of his hustle and pound-the-floor grit creating a good defensive player.  All that is smoke.  But, Craft actually moves his feet – with lateral quickness – stays in front of guys – instead of swiping for steals on their way by – and can pick up fullcourt without giving up a layup half the time.  He’s up on his defender your face with his CORE, not his hands.  He doesn’t reach, he defends.  That’s awesome.  And, then, on the other end of the floor, the Buckeyes have an offensive savant in DeSean Thomas, who can flat-out do it all.  He’s only of those Carmelo Anthony types where you just really don’t know what to do to stop him because he can, literally, score in every way imaginable – back-to-the-basket, three-point range, midrange jumper, catch-and-shoot, drive to the hole, spin baseline, you name it, he’s got it.  He’s not a great defender nor a willing passer, but for this team, he’s perfect because he’s probably the best pure scorer in the country, and no one else is either willing and/or capable of scoring on this team.  Nebraska, who has been playing well lately, knocked off Purdue in Thursday’s first round and now get a shot at OSU.

All 24 people have the Buckeyes in this one.  OSU is also the most popular Big Ten champion pick (along with MSU) in this year’s CTC with seven people (Caleb, GrossJr, J, LohseJr, RDoc, Stumpf, and Waters) taking the boys from Columbus.

Ohio St. 71 – Nebraska 50
Nebraska dominated the first 7 or 8 minutes of this game.  Ohio St. dominated the last 32 minutes and will move on to Saturday’s semifinal against the winner of the late game.

Everyone got this one right, including seven people, who keep alive their champ.

#3 Michigan St. vs #6 Iowa
Tom Izzo looks like he’s doing it again.  The Spartans are ready to take off this March, despite another “slow” start that, once again, smokescreened the nation into thinking that they weren’t elite.  Next November, remember these two things – (1) Tom Izzo plays the toughest November schedule in the country every year and (2) his teams are ALWAYS exponentially better in February and March than they are in November and December.  ALWAYS.  There isn’t a coach in the country that gets more improvement over his players over a season and a career.  Look at this frontcourt – Adrien Payne looked clueless when he got there and now he might be a lottery pick.  And, Derrick Nix was just a lot of pounds, and now he will probably play in the Association.  Throw in a backcourt of Keith Appling and Gary Harris, who are developing into one of the best backcourts in the country, and we don’t even have to talk about Brandon Dawson, who when he’s fully recovered from an ACL tear, is probably the best player on this team – at least on the offensive end.  The Hawkeyes really need this win to give the Committee a reason to include them in the field this year.

Cheryl, Dave, GrossJr (a HUGE Spartan fan…ironically), J, and Teddy all have Iowa in the upset here, though none of them have the Hawkeyes in the finals.  Seven people (Bry, Doogan, Lazarow, Lynch, PapaCim, Rikey, and Scoot) took the Spartans to win this tournament.

Michigan St. 59 – Iowa 56
For about 34 minutes, it looked for sure that the Hawkeyes were going to get the win they really needed to improve their at-large profile.  But, the Spartans – led by a fantastic performance by Adrien Payne – came all the way back and probably sent Iowa to the NIT.  The Spartans will advance to a great Saturday semifinal against Ohio St.

Five people missed the big upset here, while seven people keep alive their champion.

OPENING ROUND (March 14th – 10 points each)

#8 Illinois vs #9 Minnesota
This is a brutal first-round game.  I could see both teams making the Sweet 16 this year, and they face off in the FIRST ROUND of the B1G tourney, with the winner to get Indiana?  Unbelievable.  Tubby Smith didn’t do a great job with this Minnesota team that is kind of loaded.  I’m not sure they’re as good as their Top 5 performance in the beginning of the season, but they shouldn’t be on the bubble in any year.  Illinois is just a really tough matchup with all those perimeter players and John Groce knows how to take advantage of it.  This could be a really fascinating opener to a PHENOMENAL tournament.

Only seven people (Alexi, Doogan, Gersh, Lazarow, LohseJr, Rikey, and Waters) took the favored Illini here, with Lazarow taking them to beat Indiana on Friday.  Primm is the only one to take Minnesota to beat Indiana in the quarters.

Illinois 51 – Minnesota 49
MADNESS!  Illini not named Brandon Paul shot 20% (8-40) in this game.  But, fortunately they had a Brandon Paul on their team, and he scored 25 points, including the game-winner  from the baseline, ending Minnesota’s B1G tournament and possibly putting them on the bubble.  Illinois will move to face Indiana at noon on Friday.

Seven people hit this one, including Lazarow, who now has a shot at a big upset Friday.  Primm lost a semifinalist.

#5 Michigan vs #12 Penn St.
With Tim Frazier, this PSU team would have been a lot more competitive in this league.  They are clearly not anywhere near the top of the conference, but Frazier is really, really good.  But, he’s hurt, and this team is not good.  That being said, they did beat this Michigan team a couple weeks ago…huh?  This Michigan team is national championship good.  John Beilein is finally using his unique system with some SERIOUS athletes.  A bunch of second-generation superstars led by an any-generation star in Trey Burke.  The winner of this game gets a trip to the dentist’s office…aka, a quarterfinal matchup with Wisconsin.

J is the only one with to go for broke with Penn St. here over Michigan.  A slew of people have the Wolverines going to the semis and the finals here, with Dave, Primm, and Teddy picking them to win the whole tournament.

Michigan 83 – Penn St. 66
For a while, it looked like this young Nittany Lion team might pull off a shocker, but in the end, Michigan was just too talented and pounded PSU in the second half to move on to a quarterfinal matchup with Wisconsin.

J missed a huge upset pick here, while Dave, Primm, and Teddy keep alive their champion.

#7 Purdue vs #10 Nebraska
This opening round matchup is really intriguing, as it pits two teams that are playing really well right now and can be real sleepers.  Matt Painter has proven himself this year, as he doesn’t have the experience (or talent) that he has had in the past, but has still looked good in a really tough league.  The ‘Huskers – in their second B1G season – really started to come together down the stretch and are putting the pieces in place for a much improved team next year.  The winner of this one will get Ohio St. in Friday’s quarterfinal.

Six people (Cheryle, Dave, Gersh, Lazarow, PapaCim, and Primm) took the ‘Huskers in the upset here, though none of them have them any further.  No one has Purdue beating OSU in the quarters.

Nebraska 57 – Purdue 55
In the first upset of the B1G Tournament, Nebraska built a double-digit lead and held on down the stretch to end Purdue’s season prematurely.  Ohio St. awaits the ‘Huskers on Friday.

Six people missed this upset pick.

#6 Iowa vs #11 Northwestern
Philly’s own, Fran McCaffery is in the process of building a real program at Iowa.  Watch out, Big Ten, this Hawkeye team is arriving.  Freshmen Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury join a really, really solid group of SOs and JRs, like Devyn Marble, Zach McCabe, and the key to it all, Aaron White.  This is a tournament-caliber team that may not have scheduled well enough to get the nod.  But, two wins in this tournament might be enough – not that that is easy.  The first one, though, will come against a reeling NW team that is about to end another disappointing season.  The next one for the winner here will be Tom Izzo’s Michigan St. team in the quarters.

Mac and Scoot are the only two to take NW here in the upset – neither of them have them beating MSU.  Cheryl, Dave, GrossJr, J, and Teddy all have the Hawkeyes reaching the semis before they lose there.

Iowa 73 – Northwestern 59
The total collapse of Northwestern is complete, while cementing an NCAA Tournament bid is still ongoing for Iowa, as the Hawkeyes pound NW in the nightcap of a decently interesting opening day in the B1G.

Mac and Scoot miss the upset here, while 5 people keep alive a semifinalist.

CTC UPDATE

Championship Picks

  • #1 Indiana (6)
  • #2 Ohio St. (7)
  • #3 Michigan St. (7)
  • #4 Wisconsin (1)
  • #5 Michigan (3)

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #12 Penn St. (J)
  • QF – #9 Minnesota (Primm)
  • SF – #5 Michigan (many)
  • Champ – #5 Michigan (Dave, Primm & Teddy)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Bry
  • 2009 – Bry
  • 2010 – Waters
  • 2011 – Primm
  • 2012 – Gersh & Stri

2013 Scores

  1. Cheryl – 245 (’13)
  2. Waters – 230 (’10)
  3. LohseJr – 210
  4. Caleb  – 200
  5. RDoc – 200
  6. Stumpf – 200
  7. J – 190
  8. Lynch  – 185
  9. GrossJr – 180
  10. Dave – 140
  11. Alexi – 130
  12. Gersh – 130 (’12)
  13. Mac – 130
  14. Lohse – 120
  15. PapaCim – 120
  16. Lazarow – 110
  17. Primm – 100 (’11)
  18. Teddy – 100
  19. Doogan – 90
  20. Rikey – 90
  21. Alex – 80
  22. Bry – 80 (’08, ’09)
  23. GrossSr – 80
  24. Scoot – 70

2013 CTC: The Atlantic Coast Conference (FINAL)

In my basketball developmental years, the only “conference power” debates that could reasonably be had revolved around the second-best conference.  There was no contest who the best was – the ACC.  Now, while the conference is still elite, it is partially bolstered by history, partially bolstered by the Big Two, and partially bolstered by legitimate on-court performance.  But, this year, anyone who says that this is the best conference knows nothing about the sport.

Duke might be the best team in America.  They haven’t lost a game with Ryan Kelly in the lineup, and that includes a pretty weighty schedule.  UNC is coming on, but they are a far cry from the typical Tar Heel team.  And, this Miami team is really, really good, despite the questionable losses that they’ve suffered since climbing to #2 in the country.  The ‘Canes are a legit championship contender.  But, the rest of the league is shaky, even the preseason favorite, N.C. State, who has been incredibly disappointing, considering the talent they have.  Florida St. and Maryland are not going to make the tournament, despite tournament talent.  Virginia doesn’t necessarily have tournament talent and have a shot, but that’s more because Tony Bennett is such a great coach.  Wake, BC, and Ga Tech are scary as underdogs, but really aren’t that good.  It’s a shaky league that is – all of a sudden – top-heavy.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 17th – 60 points)

#1 Miami (FL) vs #3 North Carolina
An ACC Tournament title would be the perfect cap to an incredible season for the Hurricanes.  They already have the outright regular season title, but UNC stands in the way of the exclamation point.  Miami was tied with BC with 3 minutes left in their quarterfinal matchup, but that seems like ages ago, as they handled N.C. State in the semis without much trouble.  UNC pounded Florida St., which was supposed to set up a date with their arch-rivals down Tobacco Road, but they got a game Terps team instead.  They almost blew a big lead, but eventually ended the Maryland run (and possibly burst their bubble).  This should be a good one, with a #1-seed probably on the line for Miami.

J, Stumpf, Teddy, and Waters all have the Heels taking this title.  Caleb, Doogan, Mac, and Primm have the Hurricanes.  Teddy has clinched at least a share of the 2013 CTC ACC title.  He will win it outright with a UNC championship.  A Miami title will give Caleb a share.  A Miami win might also clinch the overall title for Mac.

Miami 87 – North Carolina 77
And, they’ve done it.  The Miami Hurricanes have completed the double ACC title, as they justified their regular season crown with a tournament title to boot.  Now, they will wait for the Committee to reward them with a much-deserved #1-seed.  Shane Larkin was spectacular again – 28 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals – all while leading this great team to a great finish.

Mac is going to take the overall CTC title with this, while Teddy and Caleb split the ACC title.  Caleb, Doogan, Mac, and Primm all hit this championship pick.

SEMIFINALS (March 16th – 40 points)

#1 Miami (FL) vs #5 N.C. State
N.C. State might be finally living up to the preseason expectations – and the talent of their roster.  It’s hard to know whether an ACC Tournament title will completely negate the disappoinment that this season has been, but it will certainly help.  As for Miami, they didn’t look great against BC, and there should be concerns in Coral Gables as to whether or not this team peaked in February.  But, they are still a game away from the ACC Championship, which, if they win, should get them a 1-seed in the Dance.

TEN people have N.C. State in what would be a huge 100-point upset pick here (Cheryl, Gersh, GrossJr, Lazarow, Lohse, Lynch, PapaCim, Rikey, RDoc, and Teddy).  Dave and J have already lost it with UVA.  The other 12 people have Miami, including Caleb, Doogan, Mac, and Primm, who have the ‘Canes taking the title.  Lynch and PapaCim have State taking this tournament down.

Miami 81 – N.C. State 71
Durand Scott has 32, while Shane Larkin chipped in with 23, and the Hurricanes are one game from winning their first ever ACC Tournament.  N.C. State should be in the Big Dance, but they will need a nice run there to salvage anything from what began as one of the most promising seasons in a generation.

4 people kept alive their champ here.  8 more got it right, while 10 people missed a big upset pick here.  Lynch and PapaCim took the biggest hits, as they lost their ACC Champ here.

#3 North Carolina vs #7 Maryland
The Terps got it done.  Beating Duke should send them Dancing.  A sweep over Tobacco Road would pretty end all doubt.  UNC handled Florida St. on Friday, setting up this interesting semifinal.

Most people have Duke winning this game, so only a few even can take some points here, though no one will get any points if Maryland wins.  A UNC win would hand 55 points to Alex, Caleb, J, Stumpf, Teddy, and Waters.  The final four of them all have UNC winning this whole tournament.

North Carolina 79 – Maryland 76
I love Mark Turgeon as a coach, so I refuse to believe that an immediate, off-balance half-courter was not the play he drew up when he called a timeout down by 3 with :11 seconds left.  But, that’s what happened, and a furious Maryland comeback fell short, and the Heels move to Sunday’s Championship to take on those ‘Canes.

Four people kept alive their champ here.  No missed a Maryland upset here, but most people had Duke here, so they were hoping for a Terps win to zero it out. 

QUARTERFINALS (March 15th – 20 points each)

#1 Miami (FL) vs #8 Boston College
Olivier Hanlon dropped FORTY-ONE on an unsuspecting Georgia Tech yesterday, leading BC on just your everyday ole comeback 20-point win.  Now, the Eagles will get to face the top-seeded Hurricanes.  Any time the University of Miami can steal basketball headlines in a city with LeBron James, you know they’re doing something right.  And, this Miami team is something special.  Their starting lineup is a sophomore stud, a 4-year senior, two 5-year seniors, and a 6-year senior.  And, their coach, Jim Larranaga, is one of the great basketball minds out there, who was thought to have just “retired” to Miami after taking George Mason to the Final Four.  But, in reality, he was working at program-building.  It remains to be seen whether or not this is a building year for the future or just a “perfect storm” season (will Larkin leave for the pros?  will they be able to replace all these seniors?).  But, that is to be asked later.  Right now the only questions are just how far this team can go.  An ACC Tournament win should give them their first ever #1-seed in the NCAA Tournament, which is a nice feather in the cap, no matter what happens from there.

All 24 people have Miami winning this one.  But, to only have four people support the #1-seed to win the tournament is surprising.  Caleb, Doogan, Mac, and Primm are the only ones with the ‘Canes to cut down the nets.

Miami (FL) 69 – Boston College 58
BC hung around all day, including holding a 2-point lead at half, but the ‘Canes were good enough to move on to the ACC semis on Saturday.  Shane Larkin led the way with 20.

Everyone got this one right, including Caleb, Doogan, Mac, and Primm, who keep alive their champ.

#4 Virginia vs #5 N.C. State
On paper, you have to love this NC State team.  And, I do.  I have been infatuated with C.J. Leslie for FOUR years now, and I don’t totally regret it, though his lack of effort at times bothers me.  His talent is just so stupifying.  But, what happened to Lorenzo Brown?  And, why is this stud freshman class melding with the rest of the team?  If they can put it together, they could be SCARY.  But, it might not be in this tournament because this UVa team is a terrible matchup for them.  The Cavs will slow it down and “ugly it up.”  Then again, they lost to three CAA teams, including a DREADFUL Old Dominion team, so anything is possible.  NC State is in for the Dance, but UVa really needs this one.

Sixteen people took N.C. State in the mild upset here, leaving just eight (Alexi, Bry, Caleb, Dave, Doogan, J, Mac, and Waters) on UVA.  Dave and J are the only two with the Cavs reaching the finals, while TEN people (Cheryl, Gersh, GrossJr, Lazarow, Lohse, Lynch, PapaCim, Rikey, RDoc, and Teddy) have the ‘Pack getting there.  Lynch and PapaCim have State cutting down the Greensboro nets.

N.C. State 75 – Virginia 56
Can it be that N.C. State was just playing possum this whole time and now, when the stakes are real, they are bringing out their real team?  Well, Friday’s quarterfinal shellacking of a good UVa team looked kind of like what we thought we would see all year from the ‘Pack.  C.J. Leslie had 17 & 11.  Scotty Wood hit seven 3’s.  Richard Howell toughed it out through injury for 12 boards.  And, freshman sensation T.J. Warren actually looked sensational with 18 points.  If they actually did “figure it out,” watch out.  But, then again, we’ve seen this before.  But, this performance sure made tomorrow’s semifinal with Miami VERY interesting…

Most people hit this mild upset, including TEN people who have N.C. State going to the finals.  Lynch and PapaCim have them winning this tournament.  Dave and J are the only two that lost finalists here.

#2 Duke vs #7 Maryland
“Win and you’re in.”  That’s probably the situation for Maryland here.  Their bubble resume is marginal, but another win over Duke would make it pretty tough for the Committee to keep the Terps and Alex Len from Dancing.  The problem here is that “winning” isn’t all that easy against this Duke team when they’re at full strength.  In fact, it has yet to be done.  Duke’s only losses came without Ryan Kelly, and he is back and playing very well.  This is a scary team that is certainly in the conversation for title favorite entering the Dance.  But, the Terps are an old nemesis, so this could be a good one to finish off quarterfinal day in Greensboro.

Terp die-hard, Teddy, is the only one on Maryland in this one, as the other 23 people all have the Dukies.  Teddy is in line for a free and easy 70 points if the Terps can pull this one out.  14 people have the Blue Devils winning this tournament, so brackets will be busted if they lose here…though, I think I can speak for the other 13 when I say, “I won’t mind…”

Maryland 83 – Duke 74
As great as Dez Wells was Thursday night in Maryland’s opening round win over Wake, he was that much better here in the quarters.  Wells dropped 30 on the Dukies and the Blue Devils are sent packing…wow!

Teddy is the only one that hit this upset, and 14 people lost their champion here.

#3 North Carolina vs #6 Florida St.
These two teams seem to always meet at some point in the ACC Tournament and, recently, that hasn’t been good news for the Tar Heels (particularly, last year, when FSU upset UNC in the championship…trust me, I remember, it was one of a serious of Day Thirteen upsets that cost Yours Truly the overall title…I wish someone besides me actually cared…).  FSU’s last chance to salvage this season is now – they need to make a run.  As for UNC, they looked like an NIT team for a while, but then Roy Williams decided, “F it – I’m just playing my five best guys, regardless of ‘position.'”  And, it has worked wonders.  They are now very small with the HUGELY overrated James Michael McAdoo at the 5 surrounded by, essentially, 4 guards.  But, they have looked really good in this formation, and McAdoo can actually use his quickness instead of relying on some toughness level that clearly doesn’t exist.

RDoc has already lost this game with Clemson, but Alexi, Cheryl, and Dave all have upset picks alive here with FSU.  The other 20 all have UNC, with J, Stumpf, Teddy, and Waters all taking the Heels to win the title.

North Carolina 83 – Florida St. 62
And, thus ends, with a whimper, the 2012-13 season for Florida St.  Roy Williams has found some more magic in there, as the Heels are playing as well as anyone right now.

Alexi, Cheryl, and Dave missed their upset pick here.  20 people got it right, including 4 people who have the Heels winning this tournament – a MUCH better-looking pick after the Dukies went down to Maryland tonight.

OPENING ROUND (March 14th – 10 points each)

#8 Boston College vs #9 Georgia Tech
BC has been quietly mediocre this year – which is saying something, as they were supposed to be the worst team in the league.  But, for the Eagles to wear white unis in the ACC tournament is a pretty solid accomplishment.  The prognostications on Ga Tech were all over the map.  I heard some say that this was a sure-fire tournament team and possible ACC contender, while others said that they were one of the worst power conference teams.  As usual, they were not as good or bad as the overdramatic media members would like you to believe.  They were…ah…okay.  #1 Miami awaits the winner of this one.

Half the field (Alex, Bry, Cheryl, Dave, Doogan, Gersh, GrossJr, GrossSr, J, Mac, Rikey, and Stumpf) took Ga Tech in the minor upset here.  Nobody has either of these teams beating Miami in the quarters.

Boston College 84 – Georgia Tech 64
BC Freshman Olivier Hanlan set a new CTC record (I think…) with 41 points.  What is lost in Hanlan’s heroics is that Ga Tech scored the first FIFTEEN points of this game and looked like they were gonna run away with it.  Instead, BC outscored them by 35 after that and will advance to a Friday quarterfinal date with #1 Miami.

12 people got it right; 12 got it wrong.

#5 N.C. State vs #12 Virginia Tech
One of these team’s ACC season is going to end on Thursday, and they will be thinking about what could have been.  N.C. State is going to the tournament, but with this roster, they should be thinking about an ACC banner and a top 3 tournament seed.  Instead, they could be anywhere from a 5/6-seed to possibly an 11- or so.  The Hokies – and the nation’s leading scorer, Erick Green – were flying along, against all expectations in the early season and then crashed back to earth in a bad way.  This was a last-place team, and they stopped being competitive after a while.  We will see if they saved some of that early-season magic for this tournament.  Tony Bennett’s UVa Cavs are the next opponent for the winner here.

Bry, Dave, Doogan, and J went for the huge upset pick of Va Tech here, though none of them have the Hokies beating in-state rival UVa in the quarters, where as plenty of people have the Wolfpack beating Virginia, including Cheryl, Gersh, GrossJr, Lohse, Rikey, RDoc, and Teddy, who all have them going to the finals and losing.  Lynch and PapaCim both have the Wolfpack cutting down the nets here in Greensboro.

N.C. State 80 – Virginia Tech 63
Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie were terrific on offense, and Lorenzo Brown was great defensively on Erick Green, as NC State dominated the Hokies to advance to the quarters, where they will face UVA.

Bry, Dave, Doogan, and J missed a huge upset pick here, while Lynch and PapaCim keep alive their champion.  Seven more keep alive a finalist.

#7 Maryland vs #10 Wake Forest
Alex Len will be an NBA lottery pick – and he came out of nowhere to put Maryland back in relevancy.  And, with Mark Turgeon on the sidelines, this team is always in any game.  But, they still lost 10 conference games after a meaningless non-conference slate, so they have work to do.  Beating Wake for a third time would be a good start, which would set up a HUGE rematch with the Dukies in the quarters.

Bry, Lazarow, and Primm are the only two in the whole field with Wake Forest here, with none of them picking the Demon Deacons over Duke.  Teddy is the only one that has Maryland beating the Dukies in the quarters.

Maryland 75 – Wake Forest 62
Xavier transfer, Dez Wells, was terrific in a must-win for the Terps over a dangerous Wake Forest team, setting up an essential tournament qualifier against the Dukies on Friday.

Bry, Lazarow, and Primm miss the upset here, while Teddy keeps alive the possibility of a huge quarterfinal upset.

#6 Florida St. vs #11 Clemson
Oscar Robertson, Christian Laettner, and…Michael Snaer?  Snaer’s crazy buzzer-beating heroics will put him in elite, elite company in college hoops, but, in the end, this FSU team was very disappointing.  But, with Snaer, anything can happen – I wouldn’t even rule out a deep run in this tournament.  It would have to start with a win over a reeling Clemson team that has lost 5 straight that weren’t really that close.  The quarterfinal matchup for the winner of this one will be with UNC.

Seven people (Alex, Bry, Doogan, GrossJr, PapaCim, Primm, and RDoc) have Clemson in the nice upset here.  RDoc even has the Tigers beating UNC in the quarters.  Alexi, Cheryl, and Dave have FSU knocking off the Heels on Friday.

Florida St. 73 – Clemson 69
Clemson limps to the finish and then limps out of the ACC Tournament, as FSU advances to the quarters to take on UNC.  Michael Snaer – of course – hit four straight clutch free throws down the stretch, and the Seminoles are a live ‘dog.

Seven people missed this upset pick, with RDoc losing a semifinalist.  Alexi, Cheryl, and Dave keep alive an upset pick for Friday.

CTC UPDATE

Championship Picks

  • #1 Miami (FL) (4)
  • #2 Duke (14)
  • #3 North Carolina (4)
  • #4 Virginia (-)
  • #5 N.C. State (2)

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #12 Virginia Tech (Bry, Dave, Doogan & J)
  • QF – #11 Clemson (RDoc)
  • SF – #5 N.C. State (many)
  • Champ – #5 N.C. State (Lynch & PapaCim)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Bry
  • 2009 – Doogan
  • 2010 – Stri
  • 2011 – Alexi
  • 2012 – Primm

2013 Scores

  1. Caleb (’13) – 235
  2. Teddy (’13) – 235
  3. Stumpf – 195
  4. Primm – 190 (’12)
  5. Alex – 185
  6. Waters – 175
  7. Mac – 170
  8. Doogan – 150 (’09)
  9. LohseJr – 150
  10. Scoot – 150
  11. GrossSr – 140
  12. J – 115
  13. Lohse – 110
  14. Lynch – 110
  15. Alexi – 100 (’11)
  16. Gersh – 100
  17. Lazarow – 100
  18. PapaCim – 100
  19. Rikey – 100
  20. GrossJr – 90
  21. Bry – 80 (’08)
  22. Cheryl – 80
  23. RDoc – 80
  24. Dave – 40

2013 CTC: The Atlantic Ten Conference (3/17)

Well, for one year, we got to experience a truly fascinating conference.  The 16-team A-10 this year may not have lived up to the highest of expectations, still gave us a pretty incredible season for one season.  With newcomers VCU and Butler entering, the league gained even more competitiveness.  Butler’s year was a single year, and with Temple also leaving next year, it won’t ever be like this again.  But, I enjoyed it.

The cream of the crop this year was St. Louis.  The Billikens had a really slow start, but have been playing at a Top 15 level for a solid month and a half now and enter the tournament as one of the favorites.  They have to be joined by VCU, who definitely has the ability to beat anybody on any given night, Butler, who has beaten “anybody” (Indiana and Gonzaga to name two), and Temple, who is the hottest team in the league, including an impressive win over VCU on Sunday to cap a late surge that should put them in the Dance, regardless of their performance here in Brooklyn.  And, let’s not forget about LaSalle, who should also be in the tournament, though one win in this tournament could go a long way.  But, it wasn’t all positive this year.  St. Joe’s was picked to win this league in the preseason and finished as a total also-ran in 10th place (another piss-poor coaching job by the most overrated coach in college basketball).  UMass should be at least a bubble team, but never got it together.  Xavier was actually better than expected in a total rebuilding year.  What is interesting is that St. Bonaventure, who is not here after losing a total head-scratcher at home to Fordham in a win-and-you’re-in game to close the regular season was actually playing really well and may have been a dark horse.  But, instead, they lose, don’t qualify for the tournament, allowing an even more dangerous dark horse into the tournament, Dayton.

CHAMPIONSHIP (March 17th – 54 points)

#1 St. Louis vs #2 VCU
With all due respect to my favorite team, the A-10 championship pits the two best teams in the league this year.  St. Louis looked awfully good in a win over Butler on Saturday, while VCU took care of a feisty UMass team.   Now, we’ve got a SLU team that could be playing for a 3-seed in the Big Dance, while VCU is probably looking at a 6 or so, if they can win this one.

Seven people (Alexi, Caleb, Lohse, Mac, Primm, Rikey, and Stumpf) have VCU here, but only Bry, Doogan, GrossJr, and Scoot have the top-seeded Billikens.  Stumpf has clinched at least a share of the 2013 CTC A-10 title.  If VCU wins, he takes it outright, but even if St. Louis wins, he gets a share of it along with Bry and Doogan.

SEMIFINALS (March 16th – 36 points each)

#1 St. Louis vs #5 Butler
The Billikens blew out Charlotte in the quarters, while Butler took care of a desperate LaSalle team.  This is an NCAA Tournament second round-caliber game here in the A-10 semis and should be a really good one.  There is still a chance that SLU gets as high as a 3-seed in next week’s tournament.  Butler is probably looking to get away from the 7 through 10 seed lines and into the more workable 5- or 6-range.

TEN people have Butler in this big upset (Alexi, Caleb, Dave, Lazarow, Lohse, Lynch, Rikey, RDoc, Stumpf, and Teddy).  Only 7 people (Bry, Doogan, Gersh, GrossJr, J, Mac, and Scoot) have SLU here, with Bry, Doogan, GrossJr, and Scoot taking them to win it all.  Dave, Lynch, and Teddy all have Butler winning this tournament.

#2 VCU vs #6 Massachusetts
UMass pulled off the biggest upset of the A-10 Tournament so far, as, for the second straight year, they knocked off a favored Temple team in the quarterfinals.  This one really hurt because the Owls may be on the bubble.  As for VCU, they had a tough game with St. Joe’s, but took care of business to set up this semifinal.  It will be big for Chaz Williams to see if he can handle the “havoc.”

Half the field has VCU in this game (Alexi, Bry, Caleb, Dave, Doogan, Lohse, Lynch, Mac, Primm, Rikey, Stumpf, and Teddy), and the other half had Temple.  So, the half with Temple is rooting for UMass to try and zero this game out.  Alexi, Caleb, Lohse, Mac, Primm, Rikey, and Stumpf are the biggest VCU fans, as they have the Rams winning this tournament.

QUARTERFINALS (March 15th – 18 points each)

#1 St. Louis vs #9 Charlotte
And, enter the top team in the 16-team A-10, the St. Louis Billikens.  The legend of the late Rick Majerus is something special and his fingerprints are all over this SLU team – which is a very good thing.  Jim Crews was the perfect choice to step into the spot vacated by Majerus, and he has to be considered for national COY award.  If this SLU team wins this tournament, they have an argument to be as high as a 3-seed on Sunday.  They open this tournament against a Charlotte team that maybe shouldn’t even be here after the Madness of Thursday’s opener.

Dave has the huge upset pick here, with Charlotte.  GrossSr and Waters have both already lost this game with Richmond.  Surprisingly, only four people (Bry, Doogan, GrossJr, and Scoot) took the top seed here to win it all, so they are big Billiken fans this weekend.

St. Louis 72 – Charlotte 55
The Billikens looked every bit the number one seed in their first game of this tournament as they, led by a fantastic game from Dwayne Evans, cruise past Charlotte with little resistance.

21 people got this one right, with Bry, Doogan, GrossJr, and Scoot keeping alive their champ.

#4 LaSalle vs #5 Butler
A very interesting matchup here in the second game of the afternoon session in the BK.  Butler survived a really good Dayton team on Thursday and now gets the forgotten top A-10 team, LaSalle, in the quarters.  The Explorers should be going back to the tournament for the first time since Lionel Simmons and it sort of came out of nowhere.  Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren make up a very good backcourt, but no one really expected this team to compete.  But, compete they did, and they were at or near the top of the league all year.  Now, they get a tough Butler team that is fighting for seeding.

Only seven people (Alex, Bry, LohseJr, Mac, PapaCim, Primm, and Waters) have the Explorers in this one, but the believers really believe, as of those seven only Bry and Mac have them not going to the finals.  Dave, Lynch, and Teddy all have Butler winning this tournament, with Alexi, Caleb, Lazarow, Lohse, Rikey, RDoc, and Stumpf all taking the Bulldogs to make the finals, but lose.

Butler 69 – LaSalle 58
LaSalle’s bubble chances took a huge hit in this quarterfinals loss to Butler and may not be able to snap their 21 year Tournament drought.  Butler will move on to face top-seeded St. Louis in Saturday’s first semifinal.

17 people got this one right, including Dave, Lynch, and Teddy, who keep alive their A-10 champion.

#2 VCU vs #10 St. Joe’s
“40 Minutes of Hell” got its own ESPN 30 for 30.  I wonder if “Havoc” will get a 60 for 60 on ESPN37.  Shaka Smart has brought an identity to VCU, and they just keep winning.  Another great year for the Rams will have them in the tournament (and a brutal matchup for anyone), but they are looking for seeding now.  And, they want to finish their first A-10 season with a title.  The Rams run a bunch of guys in and out, but are led by the big bodies of Juvante Reddic and Treveon Graham.  St. Joe’s survived Xavier on two clutch free throws by Langston Galloway on Thursday, leaving the Hawks a real sleeper in this tournament right now.

Lazarow has the huge upset here with St. Joe’s.  Gersh, GrossJr, and Scoot have already lost this game with Xavier.  The other 20 people all have VCU, including seven people (Alexi, Caleb, Lohse, Mac, Primm, Rikey, and Stumpf), who have the Rams winning this tournament.

#3 Temple vs #6 Massachusetts
Last year, the Owls were the #1-seed in this tournament and lost the noon quarterfinal to this UMass team.  That memory should be brought back up because they have the Minutemen again this year.  This is a different Temple team, though, as its led by the gunslinger (and incredibly irritating), Khaliff Wyatt.  But, the story is the same, as Fran Dunphy has his boys in position to make another NCAA tournament, despite some shaky losses this year.

Stumpf and Teddy have the nice upset pick here.  The other 22 people all have the Owls, including 10 people (Alex, Cheryl, Gersh, GrossSr, J, Lazarow, LohseJr, PapaCim, RDoc, and Waters), who have them winning this tournament.

OPENING ROUND (March 14th – 9 points each)

#8 Richmond vs #9 Charlotte
The Spiders lost a ton to graduation this year, but Coach Mooney’s Princeton-style offense is still really tough to play against, and this Richmond team will flat-out guard you.  They had a really good non-conf schedule and parlayed that into a solid conference season, as well.  Charlotte may have been the big surprise of this league had they not completely faded down the stretch.  The 49ers were not supposed to compete, but were in the top three or four all year before the talent finally caught up with them.  It has been a good year for the Niners, though.

Dave, Lazarow, Mac, PapaCim, and Scoot took the minor upset pick of Charlotte here, with Dave taking them to beat St. Louis in the quarters.  Waters has a lot at stake with Richmond, as he has them beating St. Louis, but GrossSr has the most at stake, as he has them going all the way to the finals.

Charlotte 68 – Richmond 63
UNADULTERATED MADNESS!!!  Up by three, Chris Mooney decided to foul the opposition to prevent the tying three.  Well, that’s when all hell broke loose (see?  don’t foul!).  There was an entanglement during a dead ball, which resulted in a technical foul against Richmond.  About which, Mooney went crazy.  EIGHT free throws later, Richmond’s season was over.  I wish words could do this Madness justice, but they can’t – or at least I don’t have them.  Charlotte will take on St. Louis at noon on Friday.

Dave, Lazarow, Mac, and PapaCim nailed this upset pick.  Dave keeps alive a shot at a BIG upset on Friday.  Waters loses a semifinalist, while GrossSr loses a finalist.

#5 Butler vs #12 Dayton
The Flyers have the 5th-best tempo-free numbers in the conference, but finished in 12th place and needed that shocking Fordham win at St. Bonaventure on Saturday just to make this A-10 tournament.  Now, they get this crazy 5/12 game against Butler.  The Bulldogs can’t be happy with this draw, as not only were they barely squeezed out of a bye by losing a three-way tiebreaker to Temple and LaSalle, but they are saddled with LITERALLY – and rather UNQUESTIONABLY – THE best 12-seed in the country.

Alex, Bry, Mac and PapaCim took the longshot on Dayton here, though none of them have them beating LaSalle in the quarters.  A whole slew of people have Butler making the semis and the finals, with Dave, Lynch, and Teddy riding them the whole way.

Butler 73 – Dayton 67
A tough, hard-fought game goes to the Bulldogs here, as Rotnei Clarke dropped 21, and Dayton’s bizarre season comes to a close.  Butler will take on LaSalle in the quarters on Friday.

Four people missed the upset here, while three people kept alive their champ.

#7 Xavier vs #10 St. Joe’s
What a terrible season for Coach Overrated on Hawk Hill.  This St. Joe’s team was picked to win the league and, frankly, should have at least competed.  C.J. Aiken is an absolute stud who will make a living in the NBA and the backcourt of Galloway and Jones is solid.  10th place is unacceptable.  As for the X, this was supposed to be a complete rebuilding year, and yet they have wins over Butler, Purdue, Memphis, Temple, and St. Louis this year.  They are not quite in the NCAA tournament conversation, but for a total rebuild, this was a really fine season for the X.

Ten people (Alex, Bry, Dave, J, Lazarow, Lohse, Lynch, RDoc, Stumpf, and Waters) took the Hawks here, though none of them have them beating VCU in the quarters.  Gersh, GrossJr, and Scoot all have the Musketeers beating VCU on Friday.

St. Joe’s 58 – Xavier 57
TOTAL MADNESS!!!  This stuff only happens in March, I swear.  What a crazy, crazy day of basketball in the Barclay’s Center.  This back-and-forth game that was close throughout ended incredibly.  Down by 1, with the ball, St. Joe’s Langston Galloway drove to the basket and drew a foul with :01.4 seconds left.  With the season on the line, Galloway calmly drained both free throws to give the Hawks the lead.  Xavier’s desperation inbounds pass bounced off the backboard RIGHT INTO the hands of Isaiah Philmore RIGHT UNDER THE BASKET.  But, Philmore, who may have been too surprised to do anything, bricked the WIDE OPEN layup and Xavier’s season ended thusly.  WOW!

Ten people hit this upset pick, while Gersh, GrossJr, and Scoot lost semifinalists here.

#6 Massachusetts vs #11 George Washington
Anyone remember a GW guard named Shawnte Rodgers (no idea if I spelled that right or not)?  He wore 54 on his jersey because he was 5’4″.  And, yet, he was an amazing scorer, distributor, and, most amazingly, rebounder.  Well, there’s a guy in this game that reminds me completely of him – on UMass.  Chaz Williams is amazing.  He’s listed at 5’9″, but if he’s 5’9″, then I’m 6’9″.  Williams is averaging 16 points, 7 assists, 2 steals, and 4 REBOUNDS.  He’s great.  And the Minutemen have a solid, athletic front line to boot.  GW has been a real pleasant surprise this year.  It looks like they’ve got themselves a coach in Mike Lonergan, who led a D-III dynasty at Catholic.  The future is bright in the nation’s capital.

It turns out that GW is a pretty popular upset pick here, as 11 people (Alex, Alexi, Bry, Caleb, Cheryl, Doogan, GrossJr, J, Lynch, RDoc, and Waters) have the Colonials pulling off the upset, with none of them picking GW over Temple in the quarters.  Stumpf and Teddy believe enough in UMass to take them on Thursday and again on Friday against Temple.

Massachusetts 77 – George Washington 72
An incredible quadruple-header in Brooklyn ended on Thursday with yet another great game.  There were 15 lead changes in this one, but, in the end, it was too much Chaz Williams, and the Minutemen to move on to face Temple in the nightcap on Friday.

13 people got this one right, including Stumpf and Teddy, who have them beating the Owls.

CTC UPDATE

Championship Picks

  • #1 St. Louis (4)
  • #2 VCU (7)
  • #3 Temple (10)
  • #4 LaSalle (-)
  • #5 Butler (3)

Biggest Upsets

  • R1 – #12 Dayton (Alex, Bry, Mac & PapaCim)
  • QF – #9 Charlotte (Dave)
  • SF – #8 Richmond (GrossSr)
  • Champ – #5 Butler (Dave, Lynch & Teddy)

Previous CTC Champions

  • 2008 – Waters
  • 2009 – Bry
  • 2010 – Doogan
  • 2011 – Waters
  • 2012 – Teddy

2013 Scores

  1. Lazarow – 117 (perfect)
  2. Dave – 99
  3. Lohse – 99
  4. Stumpf – 99
  5. J – 90
  6. Lynch – 90
  7. RDoc – 90
  8. Scoot – 81
  9. Gersh – 63
  10. Rikey – 63
  11. Teddy – 63
  12. Alex – 54
  13. Alexi – 54
  14. Bry – 54
  15. Caleb – 54
  16. Cheryl – 54
  17. Doogan – 54
  18. GrossJr – 54
  19. GrossSr – 45
  20. Mac – 45
  21. PapaCim – 45
  22. Waters – 45
  23. LohseJr – 36
  24. Primm – 36

Day Twelve: GrossSr Thoroughly Dominates Day Twelve, but the Overall Title Contenders are Trimmed to Just Two

GrossSr has a ridiculous Day Twelve, scoring 131 points more than anybody else in the field.  It is enough to take him all the way to 3rd place (from 14th), but it isn’t enough to keep him from a shot at the overall title.

Mac has the inside track on the 2013 CTC Overall Championship, as he only needs one of two games to go his way.  He will clinch the title with EITHER a Miami win or a St. Louis loss today.  If, however, St. Louis beats VCU and UNC beats Miami, Bry will steal the championship.  GrossSr can only score with Florida today (which the two people above him both have, as well, so he can’t win the title).  Defending champ Primm is in 4th place and has Ole Miss today, which would be huge, but the Syracuse disintegration cost him a shot at a repeat championship.  It the ‘Cuse had won, it would probably be Primm’s to lose today.  Everyone else just has too much ground to make up with only four games remaining.

Stumpf continued a blistering hot weekend, climbing six more spots yesterday into 7th place.  Gersh and Scoot made their overall standings  3 spots better with solid performances on Day Twelve.  Alexi moved into the Top 5, Teddy entered the Top 10, and J climbed out of the basement.

Lazarow had a lot of chances, but seemed to miss them all on the day, finishing last on the day and dropping 8 spots to 16th.  RDoc was in contention entering the day, but picked a bad day to have a bad day, dropping from 5th to 10th.  GrossJr fell 4 spots and is now in the basement.  Cheryl also lost ground today, falling from 16th to 19th.

Only four games left in yet another highly successful CTC.  Thanks to all for the efforts, and now I’m forced to root for the Tar Heels?  Ugh…

DAY TWELVE SCORES (days won):

  1. GrossSr – 595 (1)
  2. Stumpf – 464
  3. Mac – 440 (2)
  4. Alexi – 426
  5. Bry – 420 (2)
  6. Gersh – 378
  7. Caleb – 365
  8. Teddy – 365 (1)
  9. J – 360 (1)
  10. Primm – 349 (1)
  11. Scoot – 334
  12. Doogan – 330 (1)
  13. Alex – 329 (1)
  14. Lynch – 323
  15. LohseJr – 318 (1)
  16. Dave – 292 (1)
  17. PapaCim – 288
  18. Waters – 253
  19. Cheryl – 241
  20. RDoc – 238 (1)
  21. Lohse – 234
  22. Rikey – 210 (1)
  23. GrossJr – 170
  24. Lazarow – 122 (1)

OVERALL STANDINGS

  1. Mac – 2943.5
  2. Bry – 2909
  3. GrossSr – 2805
  4. Primm – 2731.5
  5. Alexi – 2720.5
  6. Doogan – 2709
  7. Stumpf – 2677
  8. Alex – 2652
  9. Teddy – 2603
  10. RDoc – 2589.5
  11. LohseJr – 2535.5
  12. Gersh – 2534
  13. Lohse – 2480
  14. Rikey – 2449.5
  15. Lynch – 2440
  16. Lazarow – 2401.5
  17. Dave – 2392.5
  18. Scoot – 2367.5
  19. Cheryl – 2360
  20. Waters – 2359
  21. Caleb – 2316
  22. J – 2306
  23. PapaCim – 2294.5
  24. GrossJr – 2212.5

Day Twelve Running Scoreboard

As the 2013 CTC winds down, we want to track the race for the overall crown as the scores unfold.

Albany beats Vermont 52-49
No one had Albany, but Vermont losing costs a few contenders (Primm, Doogan, and RDoc) 24 valuable points that they could have picked up on the leaders.  Also, Teddy and Stumpf need everything to go right to steal a title, so this makes it an even longer shot.  Cheryl, Dave, and Scoot also missed out here.

Memphis survives Southern Miss 91-79 in double-OT
Mac, Lazarow, and Cheryl are the only ones not to get the 42 points here.  This has HUGE implications, as Mac falls out of first.  Bry is now in the lead.  Lazarow and Cheryl each fall 3 spots with this one.  Lazarow could have really entered the fray up top with this one.

Florida comes back to beat Alabama, 51-41
Doogan, J, and Lazarow miss out on this one.  RDoc passes Doogan into 4th place.  Lazarow drops three more spots, which should just about end his shot at an overall title.

Miami takes care of business against N.C. State
Ten people had N.C. State, which would have been huge, particularly for RDoc.  But, the Miami W here drops RDoc two spots to 6th, as Doogan and Alex both enter the top 5.  LohseJr, Stumpf, and GrossSr all move into the Top 10, dropping Lohse, Rikey, and Teddy out of the Top 10.

St. Louis handles Butler, 67-56
Only 7 people got this one, including three of the top 4 – Bry, Mac, and Doogan.  Bry stays #1 27.5 points ahead of Mac, but pushes his lead over #3 Primm to 142.5.  Doogan is now just 7.5 points behind Primm for 3rd.

Wisconsin shocks Indiana by 12
Only Cheryl and Lynch got this right, which vaults them each up 3 spots into the Top 15.  Bry and Mac miss a great chance to pick up ground on Doogan and RDoc, who had Michigan in this one.  Alex, would have moved into 4th with an IU win, but didn’t get it.

4:00pm STANDINGS – CONTENDERS WITHIN 250 of LEADER
(points behind in parentheses)

  1. Bry (–)
  2. Mac (27.5)
  3. Primm (142.5)
  4. Doogan (150)
  5. Alex (202)
  6. RDoc (213.5)
  7. Alexi (230.5)

Ole Miss goes to the SEC Finals with a 12-point win over Vandy
Primm picks up a big 55 points to get within 100 of the lead . Stumpf and GrossSr both get within 260.

North Carolina survives furious comeback attempt by Maryland
Alex is among five who hit this one and passes Doogan into 4th place within 150 from the overall lead.  And, here comes Stumpf, who has already gained 7 spots today, including passing Alexi and RDoc with this win.  He’s only 202 points behind the leader.

VCU havocs their way past Butler, 71-62, to head to tomorrow’s final
Half the field hit this one, including the leader, Bry, and contenders, Mac, Primm, Doogan, Alexi, and the red-hot Day Twelve leader, Stumpf.  Doogan is back to 4th.  RDoc loses his 3rd spot of the day and falls to 8th.

An ENORMOUS CTC game goes to Ohio St. over Michigan St., 61-58
13 people had OSU – the other 11 had MSU.   Mac hits this to take the overall lead.  Bry (now #2), Primm (#3), and Doogan (#4) all missed with MSU.  Maybe more importantly, this keeps alive points tomorrow for contenders like Stumpf (now #5) and RDoc (#8).

Southern barely nips Prairie View to win the SWAC
While this probably is as meaningless as it seems, our leader Mac, did miss this, so just about everyone picked up 12 points on him, including Bry, who is now just a half-point behind (harkening memories of the 2011 CTC, where Rikey came from behind to beat Bry 2,652 to 2,651 – the final recap sourly linked here.).

N.C. A&T comes back to beat Morgan St. to win the MEAC
This one actually is meaningless.  No one had either of these teams.

Kansas beats up on little brother, K-State, in 16-point Big XII win
The top 6 all got this one right.  #7 Alexi and #8 RDoc fall further behind with this loss and now are both more than 250 behind.  This may have cut our field of contenders to just 6.  Teddy was one of the few with K-State here, so it looks like he missed his last chance here.  Lazarow also had K-State and has a tough-luck Day Twelve – missing a lot of possible picks.  He has fallen from 8th to 18th, but was two or three games from maybe winning this thing.

New Mexico looks REALLY good in M-West title win over UNLV
A pretty big CTC win here for Mac and the rest of the UNM backers.  Mac is now up 60.5 on Bry and 148 on Primm, who both had UNLV here, which would have been HUGE.  Doogan, Stumpf, and Alex also all missed it, so Mac gains on everyone within 300 points of him.  Alexi and RDoc both miss this and can officially be put to bed for their overall title chances.   Stumpf and Alex might be in trouble now, too, with this loss.  Teddy and GrossSr get it right to improve to 7th and 8th.

An incredible second half gives Akron a 19-point win in the MAC over Ohio
A last gasp here for GrossSr and Alexi, though they will fall short.  J climbs way out of the basement with this one.  Primm is really the big winner here, as he would have lost either way, but the Ohio loss saves him from losing 48 points to Mac and Bry ahead of him and Doogan, Stumpf, and Alex behind him.

8:00pm STANDINGS – CONTENDERS WITHIN 250 of LEADER
(points behind in parentheses)

  1. Mac (–)
  2. Bry (60.5)
  3. Primm (148)
  4. Doogan (210.5)
  5. Stumpf (222.5)
  6. Alex (243.5)

Chicago St. beats Houston Baptist in the Great West tournament
No one really cares, but Bry did pick up 10 points on any of the other contenders.

Louisville outscores Syracuse 56-26 in an utterly dominating second-half comeback
This was a huge blow to Primm’s chances for a repeat championship and Stumpf’s chances at a huge 11th hour comeback, as they both had the ‘Cuse, while pretty much all the other contenders had Louisville.  Primm falls behind Doogan into 4th – 228 points off the lead.  Stumpf drops 4 spots to 9th and is more than 300 points behind.

Northwestern St. edges Stephen F. Austin in a thrilling Southland championship
A huge result for Mac here, as he had NW State for 24 points, while pretty much everyone chasing him had SFA.

Montana protects the house in beating Weber St.
No big change here, as the contenders were part of the minority that took the Grizz.

11:00pm STANDINGS – CONTENDERS WITHIN 300 POINTS
(points behind in parentheses)

I extended it to 300 just to get more than 3 people on the list, but it looks like it might just be a two-person race going into the final day (if Mac doesn’t clinch tonight…that is)

  1. Mac (–)
  2. Bry (74.5)
  3. Doogan (234.5)
  4. Primm (252)
  5. Alex (291.5)
  6. GrossSr (298.5)