Kevin’s Bracket


2014 Kevin's Backet

It’s always a difficult chore picking the bracket that you think will win all the money. I make about 13 this year because I am really struggling in picking the right amount of upsets. But I’m confident in my final decision (at least I should be to win $1 billion).

South Regional

Casey Prather and the Gators are not afraid of a strong south region.

The south is the hardest region, no doubt about it. Florida has the best defense in my opinion. They out rebound most of their opponents, and continually get second chance points off of offensive rebounds. That alone should push them ahead of the rest in the region until they face a very good Michigan State team in the final four.

Pittsburgh has a very poor half-court defense. They look more for offensive opportunities and capitalize on them. unfortunately for them they got placed in the south and have to play Florida in the round of 32. If they were placed in the east, I would give them the upset over Virginia.

UCLA is very good at scoring averaging 81.8 points per game in a scheduled that isn’t all that easy. They can put up a legitimate chance on taking down the Gators but with their lack of offensive rebounding, they will come up short.

Syracuse has also looked very inconsistent lately. They started 25-0 but then after a loss to Boston College they have been struggling to get back to that dominance.  Jerami Grant was hurt during that time though and now that he is back and has 2 games back under his bet he will be able to dominate the offensive glass and put up the points to complement Tyler Ennis and CJ Fair. This team may look good to make a deep run but Florida may be a little to much for them.
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The Unbeatens


1389324148000-AP-Washington-Arizona-BasketballThere are only 3 unbeatens left in college basketball, Arizona, Syracuse and Wichita State. With selection Sunday in two months who can stay that way?

No. 1 Arizona (17-0, 1st in Pac-12)

Aaron+Gordon+New+Mexico+State+v+Arizona+7ZWwPf7dLIPlArizona has been lights out, destroying their competitors by up to 50 points. They have had only one real test so far with a game back in November against Duke who was No. 6 at the time. They proved to be as good as there rank and won by 6.

Averaging 75 points a game, the wildcats real weapon is their work on the boards. With 40 rebounds per game, they are able to win the battle for balls off the glass and get second chance points. Freshman Aaron Gordon is the best rebounder of this team. Averaging 8 rebounds and 16 points a game, Aaron Gordon has been a big reason why this team has been successful and looks like they can keep it up. They have only two games coming up against a ranked team and that is against No. 21 Colorado.

No. 2 Syracuse (17-0, 1st in ACC)

The Orange showed some signs of struggling against teams like St. Francis Brooklyn but then proved Tyler+Ennis+Villanova+v+Syracuse+-pAKUjwhkmLlotherwise against No.18 Baylor, No. 8 Villanova and UNC. They looked promising after winning the EA Sports Maui Invitational beating both Baylor and Minnesota in the process.

They have players at all positions that can put up points and carry the team on a run like C.J. Fair and Trevor Cooney but who might be most impressive is the freshman Tyler Ennis who might be the best point guard in the country right now. With almost 12 points per game he gives Syracuse a shooting weapon but also he creates opportunities with close to 6 assist per game. With a home and home serious with Duke including the highly anticipated game at the Carrier Dome, the Orange don’t have it easy down the stretch.

No. 5 Wichita State (1st in Missouri Valley Conference)
Wichita St Missouri St Basketball.JPEG-0eb16The Shockers barely made it away with a win at Missouri State on Saturday with a 3 point win in OT. That wasn’t their first close game of the season. Many say that this team will maker it to the tournament perfect and there is a very good chance of that seeing the don’t have a single ranked team on their schedule. They might have their hardest test in Indiana State who is shooting an impressing .487 percent which is 21 in the NCAA. Indiana State beat Notre Dame already this season as well. If they can make it past that I think try can easily stay perfect.

Photo Credit:

http://www.lohud.com/usatoday/article/4400585

http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Aaron+Gordon/New+Mexico+State+v+Arizona/7ZWwPf7dLIP

http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Tyler+Ennis/Villanova+v+Syracuse/-pAKUjwhkmL

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/colleges/no-6-wichita-state-rallies-for-72-69-win/2014/01/11/872b3088-7b3e-11e3-a647-a19deaf575b3_story.html

1 game, 73 fouls, 102 free-throws


Seton Hall was able to beat Niagara, 83-72, but the big story was that the two teams were able to rack up 73 personal fouls in one game. There were a total of 102 foul shots taken between the two teams.

This past offseason was focused on officiating more defensive penalties and focusing more on hand checks and other defensive calls. The NBA did away with hand checks back in 2005, the NCAA reviewed it’s rules in June of this year and changed some things like the interpretation on charge/blocking calls.

But maybe the refs at this game went a little over-board this time. In the first half of the season opener, there were 40 fouls and in the second there were 33. Seton Hall shot 52 free throws and Niagara shot 50. In case you were going to go Wikipedia what the record was for most free throws taken in a NCAA basketball game was, I did it for you. Back in 1953 in a game between Northern Arizona and Arizona, a combined 130 free throws were taken. Northern Arizona set the single-game record in free throw attempts with 79.

Let’s just hope this is a one time thing this year, or else we may be stuck watching 4 hour basketball games.

Keys to the Final Four


Trey Burke will have a tough test ahead against Syracuse's guards.

Trey Burke will have a tough test ahead against Syracuse’s guards.

Saturday is the beginning of the end of this years college basketball season. Syracuse, Michigan, Louisville, and Wichita St. earned their way into Atlanta for the Final Four. So what are the best chances at each team winning it all? Good question because The answer is below.

Syracuse vs Michigan
Lets start with the orange’s 2-3 zone. Some people consider it to be the perfect zone, and it is pretty darn close. For years teams have struggled to find the zone’s weakness and in the orange’s 3 game skid to Georgetown, Marquette, and Louisville, they put that weakness into the light, outside shooting. But that’s not as easy as it seems.

Here are some zone numbers from the Orange. Syracuse and their zone held their opponents to 28.9% in the tournament so far and the reason they have made it this far is that they have allowed 17.9% from outside the 3-point arch, and 11.1% against Marquette. They have forced 67 turnovers and have only allowed 61 made baskets in the tournament so far. They have allowed only 123, lest amount ever in 64 team tournament history. In the regular season Indiana scored 115.3 points per every 100 possessions, but in the Elite 8 game against the orange they were held to 76.7 points per 100 possessions, their worst since meeting Wake Forest 5 years ago.

Going against the team that is one of the best outside shooting teams in the country, with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke. Although Burke has not shoot well from outside the arch during the tournament, he has made key threes and is able to drive into the lane and create opportunities.

It will be the battle of the guards. Michigan’s Burke and Hardaway have to go against their hardest test yet with Syracuse’s guards Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche. They will have a tough time on Saturday but that does not mean you should count them out, Michigan has shot just over 50% against the zone this year so it will come down to how the numbers match up.

Louisville vs Wichita St

Carl Hall had 55 blocks this year.

Carl Hall had 55 blocks this year.

Wichita St may lose the Cinderella team award to Florida Gulf Coast but they definitely a close second. They started the tournament with a win against a very good Pittsburgh team, then beat an adequate team in Gonzaga, then the 13 seeded La Salle, and to cap it off the upset win over Ohio State. But that’s expected out of an unexpected run to the Final Four by a 9 seed. What makes them different is their strange number of players that could easily play for Big 6 teams. Carl Hall, Malcolm Armstead and Cleanthony Early were all junior college players last year, so their talent level does not reflect what their conference shows. Teams assume that they can shoot on them which is not the case. Their defense allowed 28% for outside the 3-point line, third in this tournament. Hall blocks shots like it is his job and Armstead creates opportunities with his aggressiveness on offense. But what really puts teams behind the 8 ball against this team is the Shockers ability to get off to a quick start.

Louisville hasn’t lost a game since February 9 in a 5 overtime game to Notre Dame. The Cards can always seem to throw a game plan on the court and execute it. After Kevin Ware’s gruesome injury, they were able to rally together and go on a run to put Duke way out of reach. They dictate the game to their advantage and control almost every aspect the game they can. But like every team they have flaws. Most their offense comes off of steals and defensive pressure, so if they run into a team or player (Trey Burke) that can maintain possession, they won’t be able to create as many offensive opportunities for themselves. They also aren’t a great outside shooting team so if you can keep them out of the paint there is a good chance they won’t put up more then 45 points. But there is no room for error because as soon as they see a weakness, they will attack and make you pay.

I wouldn’t count the Shockers out even though Vegas says to. There is a lot more to this team than what meets the eye. It will be a well fought battle between the two teams and I don’t know who will win.

Both games Saturday are going to be thrilling and they could really go either way. We’ll just have to wait and find out.

Upset help for your bracket


If you need help picking which upsets by region will happen look no further then right here as SNNR breaks down upsets that you should watch for.

MIDWEST: Now when you first take a look at the bracket the game that stands out is Oregon(12) vs OK State(5) if you didn’t know, a 12 seed has beaten a 5 seed in 25 of the past 27 years. Now that must mean that Oregon is the sure-fire pick right? NO. OK State has one of the best players in Marcus Smart.  Oregon, even though they won the Pac-12(which may be the weakest of the power 6 conferences) they lack a go to scorer and that may cost them.  Now for the Midwest region I would suggest to go all chalk, but I told you i would give you the upsets so here it is. The upset pick for this region would come from St. Mary’s(11) if St. Mary’s is able to beat Middle Tennessee.  If St. Mary’s can do that then I think the could beat Memphis(6).  Again I don’t really like any upsets in here but if you must have one go with St. Mary’s over Memphis

WEST: Now back to referring to that 12 seed has beaten a 5 seed Ole miss(12) may be able to beat Wisconsin(5). Marshall Henderson is a baller and can hang with the best of them. Wisconsin offense is very boring to watch, but their defense is  very effective, in fact top 5 this year.  You could make the argument that Ole miss has not beaten any worthy team outside of Florida, will Wisconsin has beaten Indiana, and Michigan but not Ohio St. Ole Miss looks ready to push the upset button, but, if you don’t like that you could always go with Belmont(11) over Arizona(6). Belmont is a very good shooting team and Arizona is a very bad defensive team.

SOUTH: There is only one possible upset I see here and it is UCLA(6) falling to Minnesota(11). Minnesota has beaten some really good teams like Indiana, Michigan St and Wisconsin.  UCLA is a little hobbled by injuries and may be ripe to fall to Minnesota.

EAST: There is also a few possible upsets in this region.  One is Butler(6) vs Bucknell(11), Butler has been the upset pick for the past 3 years, but, this year it is different and Bucknell could be that team.  I am not going to say Bucknell is going to the Final Four or even the sweet 16, but, they may make it to the field of 32.  The last upset that could happen is California(12) vs UNLV(5).  This is other 12 beats 5 seeds and it may just happen.  California is a great shooting team but UNLV is a good all-around team.

 

Those are the upsets we here at SNNR like, Now get out there and fill in those brackets

The Big East is Officially Closed


Big East

The Big East as we know it is coming to an end tonight with the Big East Championship game at 8 pm. This is a storied conference with historic rivalries and some of the greatest games ever played in the sport of basketball,and  it is truly a shame that one of the greatest basketball conference of all time is evaporating.

This is the last Big East Tournament that Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, West Virginia, Rutgers, and Notre Dame will be playing together in. Two years earlier, these schools announced their parting with the conference that they once help found. There are many memories that will last forever as part of the original Big East.

Syracuse has hosted the largest crowd in NCAA history. First they packed 34,616 in to the Dome to watch them beat Villanova. They broke their own record this year in the last home game against the hated rival Georgetown. They had 35,012 people in the loud house to watch them struggle and lose.

Georgetown marched into Syracuse and Manley Field House with a mission on February 13, 1980.

"Send it in, Jerome!!"

“Send it in, Jerome!!”

In the final game in Manley Field House, Georgetown snapped the Orange’s 57-game home winning streak. Hoya’s Coach John Thompson declared “Manley Field House is officially closed” sparking the one of the best rivalries in sports.

Back in 1988, Pittsburgh’s Jerome Lane shatters the backboard when they were playing Providence on national television.  Lane broke the backboard glass with a one-handed dunk that is now called “The Dunk” and as Bill Raftery said, “Send it in, Jerome!”

In the 1996 Big East Championship game, the two high scoring NBA guards met before their professional carriers. Ray Allen sends in an acrobatic shot to take the lead over Allen Iverson’s Hoyas with 13.6 seconds left in the game sending he Huskies to a Big East title.

Jonny Flynn celebrates with Arinze Onuaku after Onuaku had made a shot and got fouled in the process but sill in regulation.

Jonny Flynn celebrates with Arinze Onuaku during a game for the ages.

Leo Rautins tipped a missed shot in the end of the third overtime against Villanova to break a late game tie and sent the Orange to a narrow escape and a Big East Championship.

Leo’s son played a huge part in another overtime game, actually a six overtime game. In 2009 Andy Rautins hit key three point shots to keep Syracuse in the game with UConn. Johnny Flynn played 67 of the 70 minutes in the best game ever played in the Big East. Eric Devendorf hit a game winning buzzer beater at the end of regulation but after a second look they waved it of and the 4 hour slug fest continued. Finally at 1:22 am the next morning Andy Rautins hit a three pointer and the game ended. Of the 244 points scored, 102 came after the end of regulation.

There are so many more memories throughout the long and storied history of the Big East Conference. The final Big East game tonight is going to be very emotional as The Orange take on Louisville. One of the greatest basketball conferences, and some of the greatest sports rivalries are going to be ripped apart after this game tonight. Let hope it goes out with a bang.

As John Thompson would say, the Big East is officially closed.

Storming the Court


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Storming the court seems to be a common recurrence this year as top teams keep falling to unranked teams.

No. 6 Miami U lost to Georgia Tech at the final buzzer, No. 5 Georgetown lost to Villanova, No. 16 Saint Louis lost to Xavier, No. 23 UCLA lost to Washington State, and No. 13 Oklahoma State lost to Iowa Stats. And that’s just the upsets from yesterday!

So what’s with all the upsets this season? Well I think it’s the quality of play. No matter what game I turn on, even if it is against to unranked teams, I know I will see a good game. That’s what I like about basketball. The number of quality of teams in college basketball is great.

Lets be honest, who is going to tell me in the beginning of the year that Gonzaga would be number one with only 2 losses going into conference tournament week? Who would have told me that Indiana, Duke, and Kansas have 4 losses and Syracuse have 7? And who the heck would have told me that Saint Louis would even be in the NCAA Tournament let alone ranked?

After Duke lost to Virginia coach K made a comment after the game about having to scramble off the court to safety when Virginia students rushed the court to celebrate the win. I find it strange how coach K decides to bring this up know as appose to the countless other time that the court has been rushed by students.

The conference tournaments and NCAA Tournament is going to be something to look forward to that’s for sure. Be sure to print out you tournament brackets to keep track of all the madness.

The Art of the Bracket


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NCAA Tournament brackets have been around for years and have became intertwined in the fabric of American society.

The tradition of brackets date back to the Wimbledon tennis tournament. When the NCAA Tournament started, filling out brackets became a hit

Now everyone wants to pick that perfect bracket. It’s not easy. Only a few in the country can. There are hundreds of variables to take into account. What if this guy gets hurt? Does this team even have a chance?(probably) Did their star player get a goodnight sleep?(yeah, really).

People today are bracket crazy. Us sports nerds print out 20+ brackets each year and try to find the all the possibilities for each game. We nerds are crazy for this. Whether you draw your own for your friend’s pool, print it off the web (click here for printer friendly bracket ), draw it up on Microsoft excel, or be more like President Obama and use a white board and marker, the art of bracketology is not lost.

I personally, can’t wait till the tournament. Just the hype around everything and the incredible games. The tournament this year is going to be even more fun because of the even more likely hood of close games and upsets if the tournament is anything like the regular season.

The Biggest Stage In The Big Easy


New Orleans is one of the most lively and exciting cities in the country. Its unique cuisine, voodoo, the birthplace of jazz and Mardi Gras. You can’t turn a corner in the city without finding a party of some sort. The smooth jazz offers the perfect laid back theme music for a laid back city.

The Superdome will host a Final Four that features big names in the basketball world. But the Super Dome has seen bigger.  The colossal structure has seen 6 Super Bowl plus next years. It packed in 78,237 people to see the Crimson Tide roll over the LSU tigers in the BCS National Championship game last year. It has also seen the great Muhammad Ali clam the world Heavyweight title for a third time and the famous Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Durán II.

A city of this stature is an ideal for big events. The Final Four is just that. When the four teams roll into town, they will be surrounded by the history of their teams. The four teams combined have 13 national championships and 49 Final Four appearances.

The teams hold three of the first team All-Americans on the ballots with Jared Sullinger, Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson. Both Davis and Robinson competed for the Player-of-the-Year award this year. All four coaches have won or played in at least one title game. Rick Pitino and John Calipari are the two coaches in the country that has taken three schools to the Final Four even though two of Calipari’s were vacated.

The city known for going big, is hosting the biggest stage in college basketball and that is just fitting. With the history of the teams and city it is going to be a Final Four to remember.