Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What Needs to Be Done

J31 at Pittsburgh 7pm ESPN
F04 at Cincinnati
F07 at UCLA 1pm CBS

F18 at West Virginia 7:30pm ESPN2
F21 at Providence

F28 at Connecticut 4pm CBS

The games in bold are ones I predicted we would win at the beginning of the year.

At this point, the sole goal for the Irish should be to make the NCAA Tournament. As previously mentioned, I believe this season will be judged on our ability to survive until the second weekend. Of course, you can't make the Sweet Sixteen while sitting on your couch.

10-8 in the league should do it. Winning the games I predicted at the beginning of the year would mean an 11-7 finish. Of course, games like @ West Virginia and home against Louisville seem far more difficult now.

Must Win-

The five remaining home games. It's so tough to win on the road in this league, you need to take care of business on your home court. That is why the losses to Connecticut and Marquette were so disappointing. While we have laid eggs on the road in the past (see St. John's this year, DePaul/South Florida in 2007), the Irish could always count on winning in the J.A.C.C. That mystique is gone now, but we need to get back to winning in South Bend for any chance of post season play.

@ Cincinnati/@ Providence- Pomeroy gives us a 48% and 44% chance of victory in these two games, respectively. We need both to get to 10-8.

Opportunities to Pick Up a Game-

If the Irish can somehow pry a win at Pitt, UCLA, West Virginia, or Connecticut, they will have a little more room for error at home. 9-9 in the league is probably good enough for the Irish to get in with a road win against the Bruins. The other three games (all less than 15% chance of success) will allow for another loss along the way, but are all pretty unlikely.

Big East Tournament-

No matter what, we're going to need to play well in New York. With the new system, we should be able to pick up a win or two before playing another NCAA Tournament team. Even with a 10-8 record, and especially with a 9-9 record, a bad first round loss could be lethal.

Very little room for error now. Coach Brey had the guys in for practice at 6 this morning. That's a start...

EDIT: I predicted 15-3 at the beginning of the year. That was dumb.


Anonymous said...

I can't tell which are bold and which are not. Can you make them italic or some other way that stands out better?

Doc Hoople said...

Other than Harangody, all the players on this team tend to be overrated by the fans. I included myself in that catagory. Our record is about where it should be all things considered.

Yes, 15-3 was off the charts. Nothing wrong with wishfull thinking?

If, and that is a big IF, we win the games we're expected to win for the rest of the season? We will make the Big Dance. How long we'll stay on the dance floor I'm not sure? Let's hope coach Brey doesn't loose this team and we collapse after the Pittsburg game. Its important that the team keeps a positive mental attitude.

BlackandGreen said...

Italicized. See if that helps.

Predicted Wins-
@ West Virginia
@ Providence
St. John's

The only one I would change now (remember that list is from the start of the year) is at West Virginia. Beating Louisville might be a stretch, but if we play as well as we did the first time against them, I think we will win.

BlackandGreen said...

I think McAlarney has earned respect from the fans. Certainly opposing teams respect him so much that they design their defensive schemes around him. He hasn't been his normal self (and probably will not be for the remainder of the year) because our opponents, starting with Ohio State, learned to let Harangody work away down low while stopping Kyle at any cost. Tory Jackson makes some mistakes and has never been a great scorer, but I don't think he is necessarily overrated. Ayers and Hillesland were certainly expected to contribute more than they have.

While 15-3 sounds foolish now, we have been in a position to win every game except Syracuse. St. John's was a surprise and I thought we would match up better against the Orange, but I still would have picked the Irish on Saturday and last night. It's tough to predict a 1-17 shooting slump by Ayers.

Absolutely a positive attitude is key. We haven't looked out of our league against the really good opponents we have played. Certainly not a top 10 or 25 team, but there's no reason to think we can't finish strong against easier competition. However, if the losing starts getting in their heads, watch out.

Doc Hoople said...

Being in a position to win and winning are two completely different things. Ayers has disappeared against the good teams through out his career. Maybe not 1-17, check the records? After we lost to Ohio St. I believe the comment was, O.S.U. would stay in the top twenty for the rest of the year? How did that work out? Not to be argumentative, it is what it is......

BlackandGreen said...

You're absolutely right when you say that "almost winning" doesn't cut it. The fact of the matter is we've lost four straight. The competition is tough, to be sure, but a loss is a loss.

I am surprised that Ohio State has not been tougher. At the time it seemed that they employed a brilliant strategy to stop us on offense. Since then, it has repeated in every loss, so the wow factor is gone. They were just the first to figure us out.

The current drought for Ayers is an anomaly. Normally against good teams he has shot a decent percentage, just hasn't been assertive in looking for his shot. In eight Big East games this year, he has two double figure scoring efforts. He only scored ten or more four times in conference play last year. Compare that to six this year (15 last season) for Mac.

The problem with Ryan isn't usually that he can't make shots, he just does not put himself in a position to succeed. You expect more from a guy who should be our third scorer. Now that he's missing even those limited attempts, he is useless on offense.