Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Great Games

Maryland beat Duke to sweep the season series with the Blue Devils. Villanova needed all 40 of Scottie Reynolds' points to beat UCONN by 4. Actually, they could have just used 37, but who's counting? And Acie Law is the most clutch player in the nation, sending a rivalry game into overtime with a magnificent rainbow three at the end of regulation, a three to take it to a second OT, before nearly pulling off nother miracle at the 2nd OT buzzer. Texas really should have won twice before the end, if not for some Aggie magic. Watching this game and the final minute of Texas Tech, I would certainly give Law a vote for Player of the Year.

Tempo-Free Suburbia with a nice article on the Big East. ND ranks 2nd in offensive efficiency, 5th in effective FG%, 8th in points per allowed, 8th in defensive effective FG%, and 4th in efficiency margin. What's that mean? The Irish are truly the 4th best in the conference, with obviously a better scoring game than defense. Nice to confirm what has already been shown on the floor, but there is still some room to improve.

Billionaire Athlete

Rich athletes have reached a new plateau. Matt White is baseball's first billionaire. What, his stats don't impress you? Check out his story. Nice luck, Matt.

Duke and Maryland square off tonight. Who thought that the Fighting Turtles would be our best win? Back in December, the Alabama game sure seemed more impressive. Now, the Terrapins are 22-7, have beaten three ranked opponents and are set to sweep their season series with Duke. A win by them on "ACC Wednesday" would really help us seed-wise.

A&M/Texas on the deuce at 9 is another intriguing game. Should be fun for those with Hoops ADD to switch between matchups. Gig'em Aggies.

Another thought: if ND wins its first round NCAA matchup, a shot for the Sweet 16 could be on the line on St. Patrick's Day, much to the chagrin of NDSP.

That's about it for today, we'll get into the Rutgers matchup more as Saturday approaches. A week between games is far too long.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


The Irish are anywhere between a 5 and a 10 seed if you check out the Bracket Project. A convincing win at the RAC on Saturday is needed to really propel ND into a solid seed. Of course, Notre Dame must take care of business to lock up a BET bye.

Pitt/West Virginia tonight in the Big East. The Panthers seem to have a top two conference seed wrapped up, but a loss in either of their two final games could drop them to #3. West Virginia, on the other hand, needs the win to make a solid at-large case. A replay of Syracuse/Georgetown perhaps? Unlikely, and it looks like the Mountaineers will have to nervously wait until Selection Sunday to find out their fate.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Rankings and Blog Schedule

22nd and 17th in the Polls. Need to take care of Rutgers to stay that high for now.

Big East Rankings:
1) Georgetown (18): 288 pts.
2) Pittsburgh: 267 pts.
3) Louisville: 252 pts.
4) Notre Dame: 233 pts.
5) Marquette: 208 pts.
6) Syracuse: 193 pts.
7) West Virginia: 184 pts.
8) Villanova: 167 pts.
9) DePaul: 142 pts.
10) Providence: 135 pts.
11) Connecticut: 109 pts.
12) St. John's: 87 pts.
13) Seton Hall: 72 pts.
14) South Florida: 52 pts.
15) Rutgers: 38 pts.
16) Cincinnati: 18 pts.

Player of the Week: Jeff Green, Georgetown
Freshman of the Week: Luke Harangody, Notre Dame

Irish a solid fourth, with Bamm-Bamm getting the nod from the bloggers. In the league, Tory is the official Freshman of the Week. Congrats to both.

With a week between games, a little housekeeping:

Obviously, the Black and Green you know and love will stay the same through ND's elimination from postseason play/national championship. Throughout March and early April, also look for tournament predictions and updates. Once the entire tournament is over, however, feel free to check in periodically as I make a few CQ posts as well as anything that pops up concerning ND hoops.

But that's still pretty far off. Here's to being on the verge of another NCAA bid!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Big East Ballot

1. Georgetown- Big win, now tops in conference
2. Pittsburgh- Two big games left, could fall to #3 by year end
3. Louisville- Overcame last test at UCONN, solidified 3 seed
4. ND- Beat Marquette, all but locked up bye
5. Syracuse- Only other team with chance for bye, need two wins and luck
6. Marquette- Admittedly underrated last week, but are 1-4 in last five games
7. West Virginia
8. DePaul
9. Villanova
10. Providence
11. Connecticut- Drop big opportunity, may not win again in regular season
12. St John's- Should lose to Duke, but still make BET
13. Seton Hall
14. South Florida
15. Rutgers- Beat Cincy twice and Seton Hall at home, let's hope they aren't saving anything
16. Cincinnati

Player of the Week- Herbert Hill- Providence
Freshman of the Week- Luke Harangody or Tory Jackson? Bamm-Bamm held the slight scoring edge on Saturday, but Jackson wins out with 34 points, 16 rebounds, and 13 assists in two big games.

Player of the Week was a tougher choice. Most of the freshmen would have made good selections, but I wanted to pick an upperclassman. Hill gets the nod for a great individual effort in the loss to Syracuse.

Dyson dropped 40 this week, Reynolds had 50, and Harangody had more points and rebounds, but neither contributed as well in a third category. That and you gotta win. Sorry, Scottie.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


What a great game. First and foremost, congrats to Colin Falls for becoming the best 3-point shooter in Big East history (he tied some NBDL baller you might have heard of).

So it started pretty awfully. Down by double digits early, the Warriors (err... Golden Eagles) took advantage of poor shooting and defense by the Irish. Notre Dame came back with a vengeance to lead by six at the half, survived an early second half scare, and pulled away at the end. 85-73 in a great rivalry game. Plenty of Marquette fans there, a little trash talking, and plenty of technicals to go around.

Luke Harangody take a bow. Best game yet for the rising star. 22 points, 12 rebounds. He was the heart and soul of the attack down the stretch. Time after time Bamm-Bamm backed down Ousmane Barro for easy buckets. Five fouls, including one that set off Dominique (that's how you pronounce it, right?) James for a technical. It's great to see the guy get this pumped as a freshman, but let's not let it get out of control. All in all, great job.

Tory Jackson also had his best performance. 21 points, seven rebounds. He made his only attempt from three point, which helped a lot. When pressured, he took care of the ball and made his free throws. The last second tip in better be on ESPN tomorrow.

Colin Falls is now the Big East three-point king. Well deserved. 13 points, 8 boards. Pretty erratic at times with the ball-handling, but overall very solid.

Russ had some trouble shooting, and the Irish sure looked good with him off the floor. That's a good sign for next year, and Carter will be a big plus when he starts knocking those shots down the rest of the season.

Rob Kurz didn't play a lot, had some trouble, but Harangody made up for it. With Luke owning the post, Robby got a deserved night off.

Hillesland was very solid in Kurz's place. 5 points, 5 rebounds. Zeller made a clutch three and grabbed a rebound. Ayers didn't make his shots, but played solid defense. Peoples and senior walk-on Kieran Piller played all of 0.2 seconds.

Very fun game to watch, pretty heated on both sides. The Irish solidify an NCAA bid and all-but lock up a Big East bye. Great job, guys. Need to take care of business next Saturday and take the postseason by storm. Onward to victory!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Bracket Project

ND is currently a 9 seed based on The Bracket Project, a good site for one-stop bracketology shopping. Interestingly enough, the other 9 seeds are all from the Big East: Louisville, West Virginia, and Villanova. The Irish received a 6 seed from Build a Bracket, but were left off of Jerry Palm (last updated 2-16).

The choking sound you hear is coming from Clemson. After starting the season 17-0, the Tigers are in danger of missing the Dance with 2 wins in their last 10 games. Sitting at 35th in the Pomeroy rankings, two slots ahead of ND, Clemson made only 17 of the 26 brackets tracked by TBP. If the season ended today, they are in line for a 12 seed. Good luck getting that much with road games at Boston College and Virginia Tech still on the plate.

Note: If the link doesn't work, type in ""

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Post With No Eye-Catching Title

Louisville bashed St. John's 72-48 last night. For ND to get the 3 seed, the Cards have to lose either at UCONN or at home against St. John's. Georgetown beat Cincy on the road by ten. UCONN won at the RAC 65-55. No conference games tonight or Friday. Get your rest and get ready for the big matchup Saturday. Pitt/G'Town serves as a nice appetiser at 2 on CBS.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Exorcising Demons

It feels good to be a Notre Dame fan again. 78-54. For all that it means, the best performance of the season for the Irish. Easy win, rivalry game, opponent we lost to earlier.

Great game for Colin Falls. I mean, great first half. #15 was outscored by 3 by DePaul in the first 20 minutes. Ended up with the 19 points he finished the first half with, but it sure looks good on paper. Made half his shots, is a coach on the floor. Hope we can send him off with a final home win Saturday.

Russell, Russell, Russell. Not a great shooting game for Carter, but still scored 13 and contributed with 5 rebounds. I just wish he would quit feeling sorry for himself at times. Left the game with his head down twice even with a big ND lead. That's one thing you can never blame Falls with. Still, should bounce back well against Marquette.

Luke Harangody was very solid once again. 13 points, 7 boards. Great inside moves. Once he can hit the jump hook, he will be a serious force. Another great effort with lots of hustle from the big man.

Rob Kurz wasn't needed as much down low, but opened the court with perfect three-point shooting tonight. 3 of 3 from deep. 15 points, 5 rebounds total.

Tory Jackson was his best this year. 13 points, 9 rebounds. 6 assists to one turnover. Lots of pressure on the young man, but he really stepped up tonight. One play in particular sticks out. With the shot clock winding down and very little getting done in the half-court game, Jackson drove to the hoop and made a circus pass outside to a wide-open Kurz for three. That play kept the Irish with the momentum in the 2nd half.

Ryan Ayers finally looks like part of the offense out there. Great job on D, but also had three rebounds and passed the ball around well. Hillesland with another solid performance all around. Zeller gave Kurz and Bamm-Bamm some rest, but provided little on the floor. Peoples played a few good minutes early; Harden and Piller cleaned it up late.

Really nice to get some revenge at home against DePaul. The Irish are finally on the verge of locking up their first NCAA bid in far too long. 1-1 should do it, but ND has a great opportunity seed-wise to beat Marquette Saturday. With a tuneup like this, the Irish should be ready to take on the #16 team nationally. Good luck to Brey and the guys and congrats for a really great win tonight.

Bloggers Poll Results-

1) Pittsburgh (10): 235 pts.
2) Georgetown (5): 230 pts.
3) Louisville: 202 pts.
4) Marquette: 183 pts.
5) West Virginia: 179 pts.
6) Notre Dame: 166 pts.
7) Villanova: 151 pts.
8) Syracuse: 135 pts.
9) DePaul: 129 pts.
10) Providence: 114 pts.
11) Connecticut: 84 pts.
12) St. John's: 76 pts.
13) Seton Hall: 60 pts.
14) South Florida: 49 pts.
15) Rutgers: 30 pts.
16) Cincinnati: 16 pts.

Player of the Week: Jeff Green, Georgetown
Freshman of the Week: Jerome Dyson, Connecticut

Ok, I admit that I'm trying to slip this in without you noticing because I took some heat for my ballot. Still, head-to-head I think the Irish get the #3 spot (Marquette's certainly up for debate, but I can't wait to see the two teams collide on Saturday). I'll eat some crow if the Golden Eagles blow us out, but you can give me a little break right now, eh?

Honestly, I think Colin Falls was the better (and more valuable) player last week, but obviously I watch a lot more ND games than Georgetown. The Irish were without a Big East player of the year candidate being 100%, but bounced back from two killer road losses to bad teams. In previous years, ND has folded down the stretch. Not this time. For all he does with the ball in his hands and as a leader on the floor, I felt Colin deserved a vote. Am I biased? Absolutely. But thanks for the input. If I wanted y'all to agree with me 24/7, this would be pointless. Keep up the banter.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Big East Ballot

The Irish are back in the Top 25 at 23rd in the Coaches Poll, 1 vote behind a school with the same record (BYU?!). Anyways, the writers have a way to go, with ND receiving the 35th most votes, behind Alabama and Maryland. Go figure.

The Blogger Power Poll was delayed a day, so here are my updated rankings:

1. Pittsburgh
2. Georgetown
3. ND
4. Louisville
5. West Virginia
6. Syracuse
7. Marquette
8. DePaul
9. Villanova
10. Providence
11. St John's
12. Connecticut
13. Seton Hall
14. South Florida
15. Rutgers
16. Cincinnati

Player of the Week- Colin Falls- Notre Dame- Gets the nod over Dyson and all other contenders with two wins this week, playing without the best scorer on the team and putting ND in the position to get a BET bye.
Freshman of the Week- Jerome Dyson- Connecticut

Sunday, February 18, 2007


New 3-Point record holder? Check. Injured/Ineffective Russell Carter? Check. Much needed road win against a team we should beat? Double check.

Get in, get out, get on with the year. The Irish took care of business behind record holding marksman Colin Falls's 23 points.

Russell Carter was limited to 15 minutes with a pre-existing injury. While we need him back badly, ND was able to show off some balance by having four players score in double figures. Russell finished with 3 points and 3 rebounds.

Colin scored 23 on 6-11 shooting and dished out four assists. 5-8 from beyond the arc helped him pass Chris Thomas as the All-Time 3-point leader at ND.

Tory Jackson scored 10 with six assists. He also turned the ball over five times, but a few of those could have been averted by better inside play.

Luke Harangody scored 11 and finished with 8 rebounds. Nice job for the freshman shooting 5-8 inside and also dishing out four assists. He has had some trouble on offense but played very well today.

Rob Kurz rounds out the starting lineup with 5 points and 7 boards.

Ryan Ayers played 30 minutes today and was lights out off the bench. 12 points, 4-4 from beyond the arc. Congrats to a guy who has received a lot of heat from yours truly. Hopefully will continue the strong play and push for the starting 3 spot next season.

Zach Hillesland was rock solid again today. Seven points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and used up all his fouls in 19 minutes. Overall a pretty nice performance for Mr. Reliable.

Peoples played only 6 minutes, but used them wisely. Five points and an assist. Did turn the ball over 3 times.

Luke Zeller fouled a guy in the four minutes he played. That's about it.

Very nice solid win on the road. Cincy came out gunning for the Irish with throwback unis and honoring its football team. Too bad ND was more than ready this time. 20 wins feels great. 9 conference W's will be even better, so let's lock that up Tuesday.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Saturday Review

So my predictions were way off...

GU/Nova went well with the Hoyas making up for the earlier loss in D.C. UCLA certainly took care of Arizona in the desert. Are the Salukis overrated? Apparently not. On Butler's home court, Souther Illinois took care of business and locked up a tournament bid with their first road win over a ranked opponent in more than three decades. Gonzaga sure showed heart taking Memphis to overtime. The Tigers needed a layup by Chris Douglas-Roberts (and the three steps he took to get there) to win 15 straight. North Carolina and BC was not as much of a blowout as I thought (and hoped) it would be. Instead the Tar Heels pulled away in the final 30 seconds to win by 5.

How did Bracket Busters go? Eh, it was alright. No one really impressed, but there were some intriguing matchups and plenty to watch all day. Southern Illinois was obviously the best out of the MVC, beating Butler. George Mason won't be back to the Final Four after losing to Kent St. Drexel boosts the RPI with a win over Creighton. Overall, Vanderbilt/Florida was still the story of the day.

BET Projections

Thanks to Tom Noie's article in the SBT, here are the records and opponents of the team vying for first round byes in New York:

No. 3 Marquette (8-4 Big East, 21-6 overall)
Home: Louisville, Villanova, Pittsburgh
Road: Notre Dame

No. 4 Louisville (8-4, 18-8)
Home: St. John's, Seton Hall
Road: Marquette, Connecticut

No. 5 Notre Dame (7-5, 19-6)
Home: DePaul, Marquette
Road: Cincinnati, Rutgers

No. 6 West Virginia (7-5, 19-6)
Home: Seton Hall, Cincinnati
Road: Providence, Pittsburgh

No. 7 Syracuse (7-5, 18-8)
Home: Connecticut, Georgetown
Road: Providence, Villanova

No. 8 Villanova (6-5, 18-7)
Home: Georgetown, Rutgers, Connecticut, Syracuse
Road: Marquette


ND owns the tie-breaker against Louisville, Syracuse, and West Virginia, but would lose to Villanova. The Marquette tie breaker depends on the outcome of the upcoming game (head to head).

A quick look will tell you that Villanova has the toughest road to #4. I think GU will beat them today, meaning the Wildcats will have to win out for a shot at a bye. With games against Syracuse and Marquette, that won't happen. Syracuse will slip up against either Georgetown or 'Nova, and will lose out to a 10-6 Irish team. West Virginia could pull off a road upset at Pitt, and the rest of the schedule is fairly favorable, but 3-1 the rest of the year is not good enough. If Louisville beats Marquette and UCONN on the road, the fourth seed is a very good possiblity, especially with only four league losses so far. We need them to drop two more. Marquette has the toughest schedule, playing four of the Big East's top teams, and could conceivably finish anywhere from 4-0 to 1-3. A road win at ND and another home victory locks up a bye.

What do the Irish have to do? Obviously, take care of business at Cincy and Rutgers. Those should be easy wins, but we've seen how the team has played on the road. Winning at home against DePaul is a must, which leaves the Marquette game. Depending on the outcome of that game, the Irish will be on the bubble reguarding a first round bye. A win locks up the 3 or 4 seed. A loss could drop ND to 5.

Overall, 3-1 the rest of the year = an NCAA bid. 3-1 or better with a win against Marquette locks up a BET bye.

Lots to Watch

Missouri State let down the MVC last night, losing 77-66 to Winthrop at home. Today there are plenty more games to enjoy.

#16 Georgetown at Villanova- 12:00 ESPN- The Big East matchup pits the surprise #2 team in the conference going into the Wachovia Center in a big rematch. Villanova won at Georgetown in January, but look for the Hoyas to avenge the earlier loss.

#7 UCLA at #24 Arizona- 1:00 CBS- UCLA won by four at home in January. The Bruins need to win this and run the table the rest of the year to make a strong statement for a one seed.

#15 Southern Illinois at #12 Butler- 4:00 ESPN2- The crown jewel of the Bracket Busters features two schools that could go to the Sweet 16 or deeper. We all know about Butler, the surprise champion of the Preseason NIT. Southern Illinois has beaten lots of big RPI mid-majors, but no ranked teams. Their loss to Indiana by 10 is especially telling. Overrated? Maybe, the Bulldogs win by double digits at home.

#9 Memphis at Gonzaga- 6:00 ESPN- This would normally be a good matchup between two solid mid-majors. However, with some drug trouble and losses before the arrests, Gonzaga needs to win to make a case for an at-large bid. They won't, and will miss the NCAAs for the first time since 1998.

#4 North Carolina at #21 Boston College- 9:00 ESPN- The College Gameday special pits a very special Tar Heels team against the surprising Catholic boys from Boston. BC has beaten Maryland and Virginia Tech (who upset the Heels) but has very few other good wins. North Carolina has national championship aspirations. The Silvio O. Conte Forum will be quiet as the Heels roll.

For you soccer fans (I'm one of them, Arsenal managed a scoreless FA Cup draw today), check out this story. And we all thought MLS had attendance problems!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Bracket Busters!

Ok, so 102 teams in two days is ridiculous. Still the core goal of the Bracket Buster remains. We get to see good Mid-Majors playing each other on national TV for better seeds and overall credibility. This is how Cinderellas are born. And it sure beats another Friday watching pro ball.

The biggest question of the weekend: Is the Missouri Valley becoming a major basketball conference? Decide for yourself after watching Creighton, Missouri State, Bradley, and #15 Southern Illinois. The Salukis play 12th ranked Butler tomorrow in the game of the week. Missouri State is tonight against Winthrop at 7 on ESPN.

For the rest of the ESPN lineup (including those lucky enough to watch games on ESPNU), check out this article. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Alamo: Part 1

Russell Carter was one missed foul shot away from giving Providence a chance to tie the game with a three in the final minute. It should have been iced much earlier, but horrendous free throw shooting and Butterfinger Falls nearly gave away the biggest meltdown in the history of sport... but let's not talk about that. I've had enough of losing. Time to celebrate!

Starting with Falls. You know, this is the first game I haven't judged #15's performance purely by his shooting. Great overall job for Colin. Very surprised at the end line of 1-7 from three. Sure didn't look that bad from up top. All in all a very solid performance subjectively if not objectively and the Irish won.

Russell Carter may just be the most irritating player since Chris Thomas. Still, you just have to love the guy. His shot selection is about as good as a blind man in a dark alley, but everything just seems to fall. Way to go, Russ. 15 points, 5 of 9 shooting, and he didn't have to carry the team.

Zach Hillesland was back in action and was used a lot playing the key middle piece in breaking down the zone. 14 points, 8 rebounds. Every single shot down low was contested and ZH had to make weird, contorted body movements to get them to fall. Also did very well with passing to spread the defense out. Made some mistakes, but sure earns his minutes.

Give a little doxa (Greek for glory) to the man in the middle, Rob Kurz. 15 points, 9 rebounds in another blue collar effort down low. Didn't stick out a lot, but did his job.

Tory Jackson made some mistakes, missed a few open jumpers, but was alright overall. 10 points and made a few nice cutting drives to support the offensive look. Made a few beautiful passes and his teammates seemed to be more ready than earlier in the year.

Bamm-Bamm sat a lot, mostly due to offensive matchups, but did pick up four fouls. Not too bad a night, with six points. Ayers made both his shots and seems to be gathering confidence by the bucketload. The rest of the bench was used very sparingly.

It was awesome to see Chris Quinn back at the J.A.C.C. today. He's a real nice guy to talk too and seemed to be happy to be back. Of course, a guaranteed 6 figure salary tends to make you happy in all situations.

So it's a win, albeit with a slightly disappointing finsh. Really nice to write one of these again. Let's go and take out Cincy and crack the Top 25 next week.

Providence Pre-Game

A few real quick comments before the game tonight.

First, that cheer you heard last night was me celebrating DePaul's upset of Marquette. We need the Blue Demons to look at least respectable here on in. Their win sure makes the Marquette game look good for us and soothes a bit of the hurt from last week.

On a more serious note, I'd like to start a discussion on John Amechi and homosexuality in sports. I'll go deeper into the subject later in the week, but first let me comment on Tim Hardaway's words. The former NBA star "hates" gay people and "wouldn't even be a part of [a team with a homosexual in the locker room]."

Whatever your outlook on homosexuality (I'm not a big proponent of the lifestyle, but certainly wouldn't look down on gay people), you have to be disgusted by Hardaway's words. I can understand feeling awkward at first. I can understand secretly not wishing to have to deal with a situation like that. However, such hatred and immature comments (prefaced by a childish "ew" if you heard it on the radio) is what spreads the seeds of bigotry in our world. Shame on Tim Hardaway for his pathetic outlook on other human beings.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Daily Roundup

Back at home tomorrow for the Irish.

Around the country, Ohio State looks to roll against Penn State, Maryland is struggling at NC State, but most notably Alabama has jumped out to a huge early lead against #1 Florida. 24-7 Tide at time of writing. Obviously, the upset would be huge for ND's tournament resume. Hopefully 'Bama can hold on to win and pull off another victory against Kentucky on Saturday.

Rumor has it that Russell Carter will sit the beginning of the game tomorrow. Some reports mentioning that Russ was late to practice. I think Tom Noie pooh-poohed it as time off due to injury. Either way, should see Hillesland in the starting 5 tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Some More Links

A couple more links to good hoops sites regarding the tournament. First my favorite bracket-predicting site: Bracketography.

On that site, check out:
OOC Schedule Tips
Notre Dame Team Capsule
Mihm's Article on NBC

Bracket Info

More information on the Gonzaga drug arrests: here. Good article on how the controversy has affected the school. Also interesting to note the differences between ND and Gonzaga. Both the AD and coach Mark Few have commented already on the situation. Most notable is how the school is handling the case, "They'll be treated by Student Life no different from the engineering major. They've done a good job of treating them as students, and that's what they'll do in this case." Good to see the same emphasis on keeping to precedent at a school with much more to lose than ND with a poor hoops program.

Going back to yesterday's topic: Duke and the NCAA Tournament. A couple of nice (if a bit dated) stories about the tournament committee on Check out Andy Katz's article linked a little down to the right.

Which brings me to today's topic: what is the purpose of the at-large bid? We have a little commentary on my Duke article below, with Bryan making the very valid point that Duke would probably beat ND on a neutral court. But is that the point?

This is not college football. The selection committee by no means decides who can win the national championship. Any of the 65 squads is (technically) six victories away from winning it all. However, most of the 31 automatic bids would lose to teams with busted bubbles on a regular basis.


However, since most of the automatic bids cannot win it all, why must at-large teams be seen as NC hopefuls? I will say it right now. Duke will not win the national championship. Therefore, it's placement in the Tourney as a mid-level major conference team is unfortunate. More emphasis should be placed on selecting teams that have played well and have much to gain. As we learned last season, a team like George Mason can get hot and play better than big schools when afforded the opportunity.


Duke (and all teams with under .500 conference records)
Old Dominion

Comments reguarding Duke are made expecting a 7-9 ACC record at the end of the year. There is still plenty of time and reason for the Blue Devils to finish strong and be more deserving of a bid. I would also mention that the selection committee should (and most likely will) treat a 9-7 ND team the same way. Just my two cents. Fell free to discuss.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Name That School

Big East Power Poll-
1) Pittsburgh (16): 256 pts.
2) Georgetown: 239 pts.
3) Marquette: 221 pts.
4) West Virginia: 207 pts.
5) Villanova: 182 pts.
6) Notre Dame: 173 pts.
7) Louisville: 172 pts.
8) Providence: 136 pts.
9) Syracuse: 136 pts.
10) DePaul: 115 pts.
11) Connecticut: 90 pts.
12) St. John's: 85 pts.
13) Seton Hall: 60 pts.
14) South Florida: 56 pts.
15) Rutgers: 31 pts.
16) Cincinnati: 18 pts.

BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Roy Hibbert, Georgetown.
BIG EAST FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: Eugene Harvey, Seton Hall.

ND Nationally-
28th Coaches' Poll

Pretty ridiculous that the Irish didn't even receive one vote in the AP poll. Must win to change that, however.

Ok, let's play Name-The-Important-Team-that-Will-Not-Make-the-Tournament!

Unranked in both polls
Received a total of 162 more votes than Notre Dame in the AP and Coaches
Record- 18-7
Conference Record- 5-6
RPI Ranking- 18 (courtesy
Best Wins-
#15 RPI, Neutral
#17 RPI, Home
#21 RPI, Home
#19 RPI, Home
Worst Losses-
#56 RPI, Away
#34 RPI, Home
#35 RPI, Away
#33 RPI, Away

Ok, so it's Duke. Here's the kicker: with three more away games against Top 25 RPI schools and home against Maryland, that 5-6 ACC record could quickly balloon into 7-9. The Blue Devils have put up some good wins this year, but a team with a losing conference record (even the mighty ACC) does not deserve to be in the Big Dance. You think a 7-9 Duke team deserves a spot if a 9-7 Irish team doesn't?

Hey, I like the Dookies. Just not that much.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Big East Ballot

Duke lost again. Blue Devils fell to 18-7, 5-6 in the ACC. The win helps Maryland a lot, who had fallen off the bubble with a poor conference record. If the Terps win the rest of their games against unranked opponents, they will still have to beat either UNC or Duke again to be over .500 in ACC play.

Big East Ballot-
1. Pittsburgh
2. Georgetown
3. Marquette
4. West Virginia
5. Louisville
6. Villanova
7. ND
8. Syracuse
9. Providence
10. DePaul
11. St John's
12. Connecticut
13. Seton Hall
14. South Florida
15. Rutgers
16. Cincinnati

Player of the Week- Demetris Nichols- Syracuse
Freshman of the Week- Derrick Caracter- Louisville

Mountaineer Upset

Following the Gonzaga drug arrest (link in previous post's comments), there's still some to talk about in college hoops.

I called it. West Virginia picks up a very big nonconference win for the Big East against 2nd ranked UCLA. Aaron Afflalo did his best with 27 points, but the Briuns fell for the third time this year.

Georgetown destroyed Marquette in D.C. 76-58. This is of course a big outcome for the Irish. First of all, Notre Dame's loss at the Verizon Center can be put into perspective following another big upset by the Hoyas at home. Secondly, this proves Marquette's fallibility. The Irish lost by the same amount in January, which means that February 24th should be a very winnable game at the Joyce.

Have a nice Sunday.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Day After

As usual, nothing going on in the world of college hoops on Friday. We all can take a deep breath and get over last night. Obviously a huge disappointment and time to look forward.

Tomorrow there are a few good matchups. Marquette/G'Town at noon on ESPN is big in the conference. A really big opportunity comes at 1 on CBS if West Virginia can give UCLA a run for their money. Probably wishful thinking, but we'll see. Peace.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


What do you say? A tackle of Colin Falls gives DePaul the go ahead points and Kurz got mauled down low with a chance to win.

First off, let me get my thoughts out about the end. Tory Jackson goes Rambo on the team with a reckless spinning drive that ended up as close to the basket as South Bend. He kicks the ball out to the furthest man only to see Zeller (not 100% sure, I think it was him) heave up a pathetic attempt (it did hit the backboard) which Rob Kurz rebounded with a clear shot. Unbelievable no-call by the officials on a clear foul. Fran Fraschilla had a pretty good analysis of it afterwards, saying officials don't want to make the call unless its a hack job late. Still, a no-call determines the game every bit as much as calling the foul. Terrible mistake by the men in stripes who called a pretty good game.

What do you do now? 2-4 in close games this year (2-8 last year?). It's ridiculous to see this team fall late against poor opponents like this. Notre Dame should have won this game after the early 11-0 run, but the late theatrics make it hurt so much worse. I was forced to scream and yell and pace all night instead of watching The Office. Time to admit I have a problem and join NDBBA (Notre Dame Basketball Anonymous).

Ok, blood pressure's settled a bit, time to break down the game. First of all, I don't plan on watching the game tape. It's already in the fireplace. But seriously.

DePaul really tried to lose this one. Majerus spent half the broadcast counting unforced errors by the Blue Demons. With opponents like that, who needs friends? Too bad the Irish shot themselves fully in both feet.

Russell Carter's hurt. I'll give him that. When the hip doesn't feel too good, it's tough to drive to the rim and shoot the J. He made some good drives for the Irish but was overall unable to produce. Many of his eight missed shots were wild three point attempts a Senior shouldn't be throwing up. Really ugly night shooting with a Falls-esque 1-8 from beyond the arc (though I need to stop ranting about Colin after another good game). When your best player can't score on the road in a rivalry matchup, it's going to be a tough night.

To Colin Falls, with his seventh straight double digit performance. Nice job playing the top scorer for the Irish. We just need Carter and Falls to be in tune together. Colin had 20 points, but most of them came on very pretty drives to the hoop. He kept the ship afloat as well as he could. No complaints, here.

Really nice to see Rob Kurz have a good game when we need it. Hasn't taken the conference by storm as I hoped, but 15 points, 8 rebounds is pretty solid. Lots of those were offensive boards, meaning the Irish had a lot of second chances. Unfortunately DePaul hacked and swatted the Irish away from the hoop and rarely offered good looks down low. Blocks total isn't out yet, but the Blue Demons controlled that category.

Hey, except for his last ridiculous try for the win, Tory Jackson did alright. The frosh didn't hurt the team offensively, indeed he made a big three. Twelve points and three rebounds and was effective running the offense. Won't place too much blame on the young man for his last possession attempt, but I do wish that last chances would stop looking like Mike Brey drew up a halfback blast for the PG (Thomas was a prime culprit and many of last year's games ended with a failed Quinn drive).

Not sure what to say about Harangody. Bamm-Bamm pulled down eight boards, but provided another weak effort on the offensive end. Wilson Chandler had a field day blocking the freshman's shots. Luke tired a couple head fakes, a few spin moves, but nothing really worked. This needs to be addressed because neither of our big men should have trouble scoring when they get good position like they did many times tonight.

Hillesland was surprisingly absent, only four points and one rebound. Ryan Ayers no longer scares me with the ball in his hand. He made an open three and put up a good attempt when guarded. He should take Luke Zeller's ever-declining minutes. We all know LZ struggles under the basket. Unfortunately, he failed to provide an outside presence to make up for his lacking down low. 0 for 3 from deep. At one point, he caught the ball in the corner completely unguarded and threw up a brick. His game is provide a mismatch on the wing, but poor shooting will keep him off the floor.

Tim Andree went 0 for 1 according to Nice to see the walk-on get a few opportunities while he's on crutches and wearing street clothes. I'm surprised Kyle McAlarney didn't get to play a little too.

Wilson Chandler had a double-double, but was the only Blue Demon to rebound more than five. The Irish surprisingly controlled the boards 31-28. DePaul finished with 50% shooting and was very effective breaking down the 2-3. At least three or four times, the Irish were caught in between in their coverage. I give all the credit to our opponents, who fought back after an early deficit and lead most of the game.

Where do we go from here? Mike brey again showed his ineptitude with close games. I hate to place the blame on him, but certainly some is due after horrid performances late the last two years. This stings even more after the pathetic USF performence. Out of the top 25 for sure, with a soft late schedule should really help.

Of the last five games, two are away at very poor opponents and the other three are very winnable at the Joyce. Really must take care of business at Cincy, but first the team is due for a home win against Providence. The Friars are pretty solid, but a win is necessary for everyone's sanity. Most important is scoring more than 70. Five of our six losses came with poor offensive outputs.

NCAA-wise were no longer a solid team. Still very good chance, but officially on the bubble until proven otherwise. 4-1 the rest of the way looked very possible, but nothing's for sure now. I'd say that 10 conference wins is the magic number for a bid (9-7 with a BET victory or 10-6 regardless). No longer a like 6 seed, now it looks more like 8 or 9. Of course, that is better than most predicted at the beginning of the year, but we're all sick of moral victories. Time to bear down and take control of our own fates. We'd better roar into the BET coming off a hot streak.

DePaul In-Game

Throwdown Thursday is such a ridiculous name. Irish on national TV playing the Blue Demons for Rivalry Week (another aspect of ESPN hype). Look good early, knock on wood. I'm getting a chance to tape the game since its away and on cable, so I should be able to break this baby down well. Go Irish!

Halftime- 36-36
Majerus and Dave O'Brien have been pleasantly unpainful to listen to. I'm not a big fan of the ESPN talking heads, but those two have provided solid analysis so far.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Cameron Crazy and More Quinn

Love it, hate it, it's on tonight. The much overhyped Duke/UNC game starts at 9 on ESPN. Surely Dickie V will be there. If you like pageantry, it should be fun to watch at least a little. Tomorrow at DePaul is must-win territory for the Irish. A victory puts the team back on track. A loss puts us in bubble territory. Let's get it done.

A little more about Chris Quinn. Compare the two players:

Player 1:
Ranked 60th in the country by ESPN out of High School
Mr. Basketball from his state
Averaged 23.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 3.7 steals during his final high school season
McDonald's All-American
4th-team Parade All-America selection
USA Today Player of the Year from his state

Player 2:
Four star recruit by
Ranked 14th nationally at his position
Runner up for Mr. Basketball
Averaged 22.4 points and 7.0 assists during final high school year

Pretty similar, right? Let's go to their college careers.

Player 1-
15.6 Points, 252 Assists as a freshman
Several All-Freshman Teams
18.7 Points, 236 Assists (lead Big East) as a sophomore
Declared for NBA draft, pulled out after unable to determine Top 20 draft status
19.7 Points, 150 Assists as a junior
14.2 Points, 195 Assists as a senior
Undrafted, plays for Carifac Basket Fabriano of the Italian league

Player 2-
Backup/Wingman for more famous Player 1 for 3 years
14.3 Points, 104 Assists as a Sophmomore
12.6 Points, 86 Assists as a Junior
17.7 Assists, 187 Assists as a Senior
Undrafted, currently rookie starting point guard for Miami Heat

Of course I'm talking about Chris Thomas and Chris Quinn. Thomas had the whole world after his sophomore year. He was nationally recognized as a great talent and a for sure First Round pick. First rounders make millions. Had he been a lottery pick, his net worth would have doubled, even tripled. After pulling out of the draft, his career went downhill until he graduated, unwanted by the pros and unable to send his team to the dance.

Quinn, however, began college as the understudy. The next two years were spent playing offguard to the Chris Thomas show. As a senior, he played well but was unable to warrant a draft pick. He was signed by the Heat in the summer and expected to flame out. Second rounders don't even make NBA rosters. Why should CQ be any different? Somehow, the forgotten wingman has well surpassed his protege and currently makes $412,000 a year.

How did the two players' paths split so violently? How did the less heralded point guard become a success while his teammate is forced to bounce from job to job overseas? Part of it can be attributed to one's attitude. Somehow, Quinn was able to make it when Thomas failed. Some blame or credit must also go to the college coach. What does this phenomenon say about Mike Brey? Is he good at producing talent, or sometimes lucky? I really don't know the answer to that.

What is apparent, however, is that Chris Quinn will remain in the NBA for at least another year, maybe even produce a full career out of his experiences at Notre Dame. Thomas, however, must start over as a basketball player. 2007 will be spent trying to climb his way back up the totem pole he sat atop not four years ago.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Chris Quinn Update

Big news for the rookie in Miami. CQ got his first NBA start with Gary Payton suspended and Jason Williams injured. 36 minutes, 14 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, only 2 turnovers. Great job stepping up when opportunity knocked. He has a very good shot at a starting job in the near future in Miami or elsewhere. Congrats, Chris.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Don't Write Off the Season

The USF loss really hasn't hurt ND's perception nationwide. The boys in Blue and gold only dropped two spots in the coaches poll to 21st, although they did slide 7 spots in the AP. Nothing like a nice road win at DePaul to bring that up. In the Big East Power Poll, the Irish stayed rock steady:

1) Pittsburgh (14): 254 pts.
2) Marquette (2): 241 pts.
3) Georgetown: 217 pts.
4) Notre Dame: 190 pts.
5) West Virginia: 184 pts.
6) Villanova: 183 pts.
7) Louisville: 175 pts.
8) Syracuse: 143 pts.
9) Providence: 138 pts.
10) DePaul: 112 pts.
11) Connecticut: 87 pts.
12) St. John's: 76 pts.
13) Seton Hall: 69 pts.
14) South Florida: 58 pts.
15) Rutgers: 27 pts.
16) Cincinnati: 22 pts.

BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Jerel McNeal, Marquette.
BIG EAST FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia.

There you have it, still in the Top 4. We're projected to get a bye in the BET, which would be huge. No one likes losing to bad teams, but it happens to everyone. Hell hasn't frozen over, just campus (high 3/low -7).

On tap tonight, a good'un from the Lone Star State. Texas takes on A&M in College Station at 9 on ESPN. Good showcase for Kevin Durant against Billy (Gillespie) the Kid and his very talented squad. The story of the Aggies is pretty good, going from doormats of the Big XII to the class of the nation in just a few short years. Enjoy the night and stay warm, wherever you are.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl

Congrats to the Colts for the big win. It's really nice to see classy guys like Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy get the credit they deserve.

And how about the three ND grads getting their rings? Hunter the punter was the only one with much (if any) playing time. Brandon Hoyte was with both teams during the season, but was released by the Bears in October. Congrats, guys.

Big East Ballot

1. Pittsburgh
2. Marquette
3. Georgetown
4. Louisville
5. West Virginia
6. ND
7. Syracuse
8. Providence
9. Villanova
10. DePaul
11. Seton Hall
12. St John's
13. South Florida
14. Connecticut
15. Rutgers
16. Cincinnati

Player of the Week- McHugh Mattis- South Florida
Freshman of the Week- Eugene Harvey- Seton Hall

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Join the Club

I'll be the one to knock on wood next time. At least ND's loss to South Florida was one of (count'em) ten Top 25 losses today.

The list:
Virginia Tech
North Carolina
Oklahoma State
Texas A&M/Kansas

Nevada and Washington State tried really hard too.

So what went wrong? As Marquette found out, USF plays pretty tough at home and the Bulls are starting to mesh. Ok, that's enough. We should have won this game.

Unlike other ND losses, both teams shot poorly. It's ok if the other school is hitting half their shots. It's not ok if the other team shoots under 40% and you destroyed said team earlier in the year.

Rob Kurz was back, but for very little. Coming off an injury and tacking on four fouls will do that to you. He gets an incomplete.

For those of you who saw the game: why did we have so many fouls? The Irish finished with 23 to to USF's 16. Two players fouled out. Three more with four. Maybe ESPN's box score is wrong, but that is way too many for a pretty experienced team.

Everyone give a little cheer for Colin Falls. The much maligned (by me at least) shooting guard was g-r-e-a-t. 26 points, 6 rebounds, 6 threes. The sole birght spot for the Irish. He fouled out with half a minute to go, but the game was already over.

Russell, where have you gone? After sitting the final minutes of the Villanova win, Carter was average against Syracuse and very cold tonight. The game was played in Miami, so sub-zero temps in South Bend couldn't have been a factor. 14 points, but took too many shots to get them. Seven rebounds is pretty good, expecially when the rest of the squad was absent on the glass.

Nice game for Bamm-Bamm. Another tough outing without Kurz in the starting five, but the frosh stepped up. Ten points, nine rebounds. Just the kind of game we expect from him, but needed to score more without another good forward on the floor.

Tory Jackson had a really tough night shooting, 2 of 9. Picked up his fifth foul near the end, and was rather ho-hum. Six points, five rebounds.

I hate to blame a guy who hustles so much, but look no further than Zach Hillesland if you want a scape goat. We needed a big night out of him, like Syracuse, but the sophomore just didn't deliver. Four points, three rebounds, in a Zelleresque night for the starting forward. Unlucky not to do better and he should bounce back to doing his normal duties off the bench.

Did I call Hillesland's game Zelleresque? I'm sorry, I meant zero for four shooting and four rebounds. That's how LZ did off the bench. Luke is many things, but he is simply not a good inside big man. Not much Kurz to score inside, Bamm-Bamm doesn't usually put up big points, and Zeller just doesn't play like a 7 footer. Now the loss is starting to make sense.

Ryan Ayers made a three and grabbed a rebound. Johnathan Peoples was pretty much absent. And that's your ballgame!

USF had 11 more rebounds than us, a big factor sense so many shots were off target. That's a swing of 25 from the South Bend game. McHugh Mattis scored 23, with 16 rebounds. Eight of those were offensive boards. Gransberry had 14 boards. Only two of their guys scored in double figures, but they spread the points out more.

It's ugly. We shouldn't have lost, but there's plenty of time to make amends. Thursday at DePaul should get us back on track. All the games ahead look winnable. And life goes on...

Watch the Super Bowl tomorrow. I pick the Colts, but will probably end up cheering for the team that's winning. As you can tell, I can't take losses well. Cheers, and good night.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Big Game Tomorrow

The Irish play at South Florida tomorrow night. This should be a big win for ND, but 11-11 South Florida has played well at home this year. Marquette had to score the final four points in their game to escape with a win. We beat this team 82-58 at the Joyce, so this should be a solid victory. Let's get the job done and come back north. No surprises, please.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

One Hit Wonders

No big action across the country yet tonight. Those of you who live in the West or just want to stay up late, try to catch Oregon/UCLA at 10:30 Eastern. The game should be televised on FSN.

Kevin Durant's big night yesterday brought up the controversial subject of eligibility in the pros. Of course, with the current system, Mr. Durant should be making NBA money at this time next season while college basketball could be without its national player of the year. The same goes for Greg Oden, the 7-foot man child from Ohio State. Both of these players were forced into college by the system and will most likely leave their schools behind without a thought towards graduation. Such cases make a mockery of postsecondary education.

If you had to spend one year in college to play basketball, what kind of classes would you take? To be honest, ballroom dancing would be at the top of my list. While their classmates cram for exams, all many "one-and-dones" have to do is stay academically eligible for a year and look good for scouts. This disproportionality widens the division between the student and the athlete. Without a diploma, college basketball loses the amateur status that makes it truly special.

How can we fix the system? There's no perfect solution, but why not follow college baseball's lead? High school students can go pro upon graduation and start in the minor leagues (why not expand the D-League and make it more like a basketball community college for players right out of prep ball). Students looking to enroll in college may be recruited in the current fashion, but must stay for three years. During that time, progress must be made towards a degree. This would keep players from using the NCAA as a spring board to the professional game and would allow the most talented to seek employment right away.

There are holes, of course, but why not try to fix the problems we have in college sports? With stories about crooked boosters and the Reggie Bushes of the world, the NCAA has an obligation to work towards a solution. Here's step one to fixing college hoops.