NC STATE BASKETBALL
The Aftermath: Our take on NC State’s win over Georgia Tech
- Richard Howell got State started on the right track. I’m not sure what it is about the road, but State just hasn’t been able to really score it away from h. Once again, the team was missing most everything out of the gate. Luckily, Howell wasn’t about to join in on that. The senior big man was on fire, dropping 18 points in the first half….The rest of the team matched him with 18 in the first half.
- Big bodies have been a problem for Howell in the past and Robert Carter Jr. fits that mold. In fact, when these teams met earlier in the season, Howell could only muster 6 points, but in this one Howell switched things up. He was guarded by a number of guys, but no one on GT could stop him in the first half. What he did differently was use his quickness. He attacked off the dribble, knocked down a few jumpers and made the GT bigs respect his from about 15 feet. This opened up the middle for him to attack.
- Now, we told you the key to NC State’s final run was going to be defense and once again they showed great effort for most of the game. You can really see increased defensive pressure from everyone, but the improvement is standing out the most from Brown and Leslie. These two guys, I felt, weren’t leaving it all on the floor early in the season, but now it’s a different story. Brown is so active and isn’t getting beat off the dribble, while Leslie is in passing lanes and getting active in the shot blocking category. State held GT to 34% shooting and really got it going on defense early on. They had 7 first half steals and finished with 12 for the game. They forced 15 turnovers, which is a key for them getting out in transition. Again, defense, defense, defense. That’s all that needs to matter for this team. If they play hard for 40 minutes, get in passing lanes, communicate and play with a chip on their shoulder, there aren’t many teams that can beat them.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
BEYOND THE ARC: An ugly exit and an incredible return
2. Peaking at the right time: The goal of every team is to be playing its best come tournament time, and North Carolina and N.C. State both seem to be doing that. The Tar Heels won their two games this week by an average margin of 15 points to run their season-best winning streak to five. The Wolfpack also won twice, both by double-digit margins, and have won five of its last six to move into a fourth-place tie in the league standings.
4. Going out in style: Before Saturday’s game against Clemson, Erick Green’s parents told him to go out and “make it one the Hokie fans will remember.” The nation’s leading scorer did just that by hitting for 29 points to lead Virginia Tech to a 69-61 victory – Tech’s first Senior Night win in three years.
5. Shannon’s return: The original prognosis after Florida State’s Terrance Shannon suffered a neck injury at Virginia on Jan. 19 was that he would miss the rest of the season. Sunday at UNC, however, the 6-foot-8 forward returned to court. It wasn’t as memorable as Kelly’s return at Duke a day earlier. Shannon scored only three points in three minutes. But considering what he’s been through, it was a victory nonetheless.
2. Post-Duke hangover: Virginia became the third ACC team this season to follow a court-storming home win against Duke by laying an egg against what should have been a lesser opponent in its next game. The Cavaliers joined Maryland (which also lost to Boston College) and N.C. State (which fell at Maryland) as post-Blue Devil victims.
3. A Wake, not a celebration: Saturday was an emotional one for Wake Forest, which not only celebrated the Senior Day of popular guard C.J. Harris, but also used the opportunity to retire the jersey of former star Chris Paul before the biggest home crowd of the season. The only thing that was missing was the happy ending, as the Deacons fell apart down the stretch in losing 67-57 to Maryland.
Though the big one is obviously the regular season-ending clash between UNC and Duke at the Smith Center on Saturday, the most important games will be among N.C. State and Virginia as they battle for the fourth-and-final first-round ACC tournament bye. The Wolfpack hosts Wake Forest on Wednesday before finishing at Florida State on Saturday while the Cavaliers travel to Tallahassee on Thursday and host Maryland on Sunday.
Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
ACC Power Rankings: Miami stays on top despite loss to Duke
I’m really not sure I can remember a year when I was so looking forward to the ACC tournament. That weekend in Greensboro has the potential to be a classic.
I’m not sure anybody would complain if it ended with Duke vs. Miami: Round III, but with North Carolina, N.C. State and Virginia all looking more than capable of winning the whole thing, it should be a lively one.
3. North Carolina (21-8, 11-5)
Last week: 3
My take: How often do you see a North Carolina team go into the postseason with no pressure? Unlike the past few seasons which have seen the Tar Heels carry high seeds and lofty expectations into March, this season’s bunch won’t carry such a burden. In a way, that makes it even more dangerous.
4. N.C. State (21-8, 10-6)
Last week: 4
My take: Several N.C. State players have said that their focus for the final stretch of the season is to improve on defense. Since giving up 86 points in an overtime win against Virginia Tech, the Wolfpack’s opponents have been scoring progressively less. Maybe that work is paying off.
5. Virginia (20-9, 10-6)
Last week: 5
My take: After N.C. State, Duke and Miami all had extremely close calls in Chestnut Hill, you just knew someone good wouldn’t make it out of there unscathed. Sadly for the Cavaliers, it turned out to be them.
6. Maryland (20-9, 8-8)
Last week: 6
My take: While Virginia did itself no favors losing to Boston College, its bubble situation isn’t nearly as dire as the Terrapins. Maryland will need some magic in Greensboro to make it to the dance.
7. Florida State (15-14, 7-9)
Last week: 7
My take: Back in October, when players from each team crowded into a Charlotte hotel ballroom, Miami and Florida State had the contingents that exuded the most confidence. The big crowds of media were with the Triangle teams, but they felt they were going to be the show. It appears Miami was on to something. The Seminoles were not.
8. Wake Forest (12-16, 5-11)
Last week: 8
My take: Among the glut of 5-11 teams stuck toward the rear of the conference, I still say Wake is the toughest out. Of course, I’m assuming that game is in Winston-Salem.
Andrew Jones (FoxSportsCarolinas.com)
ACC Power Rankings: Miami, Duke still 1-2
What a week for the ACC!
Joe Harris and Virginia beat Duke, Tunnel-gate, the return of Ryan Kelly, North Carolina continues surging and Chris Paul had his jersey retired by Wake Forest.
Miami and Duke played a thriller, leaving some salivating for a third matchup in Greensboro in two weeks. This was a good week for the ACC. The conference generated a ton of national attention, and it has two clear national title contenders, both of which proved their worthiness to the country on Saturday.
Here are this week’s power rankings:
3. North Carolina (21-8, 11-5)
After winning at Clemson and beating Florida State at home, North Carolina has now won five straight games. The Tar Heels show signs of getting closer each game, and are getting more dangerous as each game passes. It looks like Roy Williams can coach after all.
4. Virginia (20-9, 10-6)
Similar to Maryland, Virginia followed a win over Duke with a loss at Boston College. The Cavaliers could not afford that, but they are still in better position than the Terrapins were two weeks earlier. UVa is playing better ball, so Tony Bennett’s team should rebound quickly.
5. NC State (21-8, 10-6)
Don’t disregard Mark Gottfried’s team. The Wolfpack won twice last week, beating BC and winning at Georgia Tech. NC State also has five victories in its last six games. The ‘Pack aren’t beating Goliaths, but this team needed to win games to get back its mojo. It is doing that.
6. Maryland (20-9, 8-8)
The Terrapins are hanging by a thread with respect to the NCAA Tournament. The guards are struggling, Alex Len can’t find a groove, and they couldn’t win at Georgia Tech last week, though Mark Turgeon’s club did prevail at Wake Forest.
7. Florida State (15-14, 7-9)
Michael Snaer led his Seminoles past the Demon Deacons this week, but came up a little short against the Tar Heels. Florida State needs two more victories to lock down an NIT bid, because the NCAAs are no longer an option unless FSU wins the ACC Tournament — and that’s not happening.
8. Wake Forest (12-16, 5-11)
For all of the talk about Wake’s improvement from last season, the Demon Deacons are still one game from last place in the ACC after dropping games at FSU and at home to Maryland on the day Wake retired former star Chris Paul’s No. 3 jersey. Wake has lost 10 of 13 games.
Joe Ovies (WRALSportsfan.com)
Perception, reality still solidifying in final week of ACC season
4. Perception of NC State is a bit trickier to pin down.
Although not to the same extent as Duke without Kelly, the Wolfpack went through a stretch of games without Lorenzo Brown. They almost beat Virginia and Miami anyway. NC State is 5-1 since his return.
You’d think that’s pretty good considering the up-and-down nature of college basketball throughout the country, but the Wolfpack can’t seem to shake the lingering dread of “NC State Stuff.”
Regardless, the Wolfpack should be commended for overcoming a poor shooting night and grinding out a win over Georgia Tech on the road. Feel free to go elsewhere for what it means in terms of momentum and all that other stuff. These columns shifted away from delving into those topics weeks ago and simply deal with the Wolfpack on a game-to-game basis.
NC STATE BASEBALL
Tuesday’s Game at Elon Moved to 3 p.m.
The eighth-ranked Wolfpack’s game Tuesday at Elon has been moved up to a 3 p.m. start
Peter Tiernan (BracketScience.com)
Champ Check: Are we headed over the quality cliff?
While the AP Top 25 had its share of shuffling this week, the list of teams that meet tourney champion credentials barely changed. For those who haven’t been following our weekly “champ check,” here’s the skinny — the past 12 champions have possessed these eight stats:
• A one, two or three seed (the AP Top 25 make the grade)
• Member of a power conference: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 or SEC (CF in the list below)
• Either went to the previous year’s dance or have an All-American (*/12)
• Led by a coach with more than five tourney trips and at least one Elite Eight run (CO)
• Averaging more than 73 points per game (PF>73)
• Allowing less than than 73 points per game (PA<73)
• An average scoring margin of at least seven points per game. (SM>=7)
• A schedule among the 75 strongest in the country (S<75)
Today, seven teams meet all these criteria — the same number as last week. Here’s the breakdown:
Under the “TOT” column at the right, an “8” means the team met all the credentials. (Ignore the blue flags for a moment.) Red-filled boxes identify credentials each team failed to meet. The seven teams on the champ list this week are Indiana, Duke, Michigan, Kansas, Florida, Louisville and Syracuse. This is the same group of teams as last week — and the same cast of characters that has been swarming around the AP Top 10 pretty much all season.
I mentioned that we were experiencing a “quality cliff” this season — essentially a gulf between the performance of the top 12 teams and everyone else. What evidence do I have that we’re headed for a cliff come tourney time?
I compared the KenPom Top 20 to their historical counterparts from the last nine years. That is, I compared this year’s best team, Florida, to the best teams since 2004. Then I compared the second-best team (Indiana) to second-best teams from the past nine years, and so on for the 20 most efficient teams based on Pomeroy’s tempo-free stats. Here’s what I found:
Take a look at how the red line compares to the thick light blue line (the average KenPom values between 2004 and 2012), the orange line (the best tourney field) and the thin blue line (the worst tourney field). I put the best and worst fields in here not just for perspective, but also because the relative “madness” of a dance correlates with the quality of the top 20 teams. In 2007, we saw the strongest top 20 KenPom teams, and had only three upsets. In 2011, the top 20 was the weakest in nine years, and we had a record 13 upsets.
So if the 2013 quality curve holds its shape up to Selection Sunday, what can we expect? The top three teams — Florida, Indiana and Louisville — are solidly better than average. In fact, the Gators and Hoosiers are among the best of the last nine years. Then, from the fourth best team (Gonzaga) to the 12th most efficient squad (Michigan State), the quality curve eerily tracks just a tick below the average curve.
And that’s when we go over the cliff. The quality difference between Michigan State and Miami is precipitous. The Spartans are a bit weaker than your average 12th best team. The Hurricanes are nearly as bad as the worst 13th best team, and the Hoyas are solidly worse than the worst 14th best team. From there on, from Oklahoma State through to San Diego State, the curve tracks closely to the historically worst — and most unpredictable — tourney.
To give you some idea of how big this cliff really is, consider this: As the 16th best team, Arizona would figure to get a four seed. But in most years, their KenPom rating would be good enough for just a six seed. And in 2007, they would’ve been an eight seed.
Let’s face it: If the teams rated worse than 12th by KenPom efficiency data don’t pick things up, we will be looking at some historically bad four and five seeds. Let’s assume that the seeding breaks down perfectly by KenPom data (an assumption that never comes to pass, but bear with me). If this were to happen, here’s the dynamic we’d be staring at in our brackets:
• Two top seeds would be historically strong (Florida and Indiana) and the other two (Louisville and Gonzaga) would have typical top seed strength.
• The second and third seeds would all be about average — slightly weaker, but not significantly so.
• All the four seeds (Miami, Georgetown, Oklahoma State and Arizona) would be among the worst of the last nine years.
• Virginia, Colorado State, Minnesota and San Diego State would be among the weakest five seeds as well.
So what might all this mean for building your bracket? My guess is that we’d see one or two 4/13 shockers and a couple of the annual 5/12 upsets. But with the unusual strength of top seeds, you might not see anyone surprising them in the first three rounds of the dance.
Peter Tiernan (BracketScience.com)
Classifying coaches can indicate success in NCAA tournament
I’ve done several blogs on bracketscience.com about the tourney performance of individual coaches. But in the development of guidelines for picking toss-up and upset games, I tend to think about coaches in groups. You’ve probably read something from me about rookie coaches making their first trip to the dance. And, in the last two years, I’ve discovered the surprising weakness of what I call “snake-bit” coaches who have more than five tourneys under their belts but have yet to reach the Elite Eight.
I have never developed a full taxonomy of coaching types. But as I went through some of my research this year, I realized it would be good idea. I started to notice there wasn’t a linear relationship between tourney experience and performance. I also discovered there were at least two variables at play in tourney coaching:
1. How many years a coach had been to the dance.
2. How successful they had been with their trips.
I measure “success” as reaching the Elite Eight. That seems like a reasonable yardstick. To get there, a coach would have to win at least one game in the second weekend of the dance, thereby demonstrating the value of his preparation. Besides, the Elite Eight represents the closest round to the top 10 percent of tourney performers.
Using tourney appearances and Elite Eight trips, I’ve come up with the following taxonomy of coaching types in the tourney:
• Rookies: making their first trip to the tourney.
• Novices: two-to-five tourney trips with no Elite Eight runs.
• Prodigies: two-to-five tourney trips with at least one Elite Eight run.
• Snake-bit: more than five trips with no Elite Eight runs.
• Flashes: more than five trips with one Elite Eight run.
• Destined: six-to-10 trips with more than one Elite Eight run.
• Veterans: more than 10 trips with two-to-four Elite Eight runs.
• Legends: more than 10 trips with more than four Elite Eight runs.
Now the question is which of these classes is the best tourney performer? On the face of it, that appears easy to answer — of course, the Legends are the best performers. They already have more than four Elite Eight runs on their resumes. But remember, the past doesn’t count in my analysis. Coach K’s history doesn’t have any bearing on the calculation of how he does this year.
Jerry Palm (CBSSports.com)
Wanna play in the NCAA tournament? Openings available
I never knew the NIT was so popular. Nearly every team at or near the bottom of the bracket found a way to lose this weekend, sometimes in spectacular fashion, in an effort to play themseles into that tourament.
Virginia, the most schizophrenic team in America, followed up its win over Duke with a loss at Boston College. One quick look at their tournament profile tells us we should have expected no less. That is the Cavs seventh loss to a 100+ RPI team. No team with that many bad losses has ever received a bid.
Jerry Palm (CBSSports.com)
2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament Prediction
Bracket updated on: Mon Mar 4 07:12:30 2013
Projected Champion: Miami (FL) (2)
At-large bids: Duke (1), North Carolina (9), North Carolina State(8)
Jerry Palm (CBSSports.com)
College Basketball Bubble Watch
The Heels picked up a nice win at hove over NC State. They could still use a quality win away from home, but that will have to wait until the conference tournament because their last road game is at Maryland. They do have that home game with Duke left, which is their best chance left to impress the committee in the regular season.
On The Fence:
The Minutemen have a mediocre profile, where the highlight is a win at La Salle, Several teams on this page don’t have wins away from home against other bracket teams, so that’s not bad. The Minutemen have Butler at home next.
The Cavs have some nice wins, especially Duke at home and at Wisconsin, but some bigger negatives (six bad losses, 300+ non-conf SOS, 3-7 away from home). Teams with their positives get left out sometimes, but teams with any one of their negatives rarely get in.
The Terps beat Duke, which is huge, but still not quite enough. They now have three top 100 RPI wins, all at home, including one over NC State. If they can just find a way to get something done on the road. Losing at BC and Georgia Tech does not qualify as “getting something done,” but they did win at Wake.
Eamonn Brennan (ESPN.com)
College Basketball Bubble Watch
Updated: February 27, 2013
Bracket Builder Week sounds about right as we move closer and closer to go-time
Editor’s note: This file has been updated to include all games through Tuesday, Feb. 26.
This week’s television coverage theme — “Bracket Builder Week” — is perfectly timed. This is typically the first week of Bubble Watch in which we’re able, with at least some degree of precision, to look at a team’s remaining schedule and reasonably posit where it might end up in the bracket discussion. With so few regular-season games remaining, we can be a bit more liberal in our use of those hallowed terms — “locks” and “should be ins” — and a bit more dismissive of long-shot teams who’ve failed to make definitive moves in recent weeks.
Such is the case in this week’s Bubble Watch, which for the second straight week eschews a lengthy preamble in favor of getting right down to business. Onward:
Atlantic Coast Conference
Locks: Miami, Duke
Teams that should be in: North Carolina State
Work left to do: North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia
North Carolina State [19-8 (8-6), RPI: 24, SOS: 16] The Wolfpack have done plenty to earn their way into the tournament, and it would be a shock to see them somehow lose that status in the next few weeks, but they’ve also done just enough to prevent us from ever locking them in. Such was the case with their loss at North Carolina on Saturday. A win might have sealed the deal; a loss merely holds the line.
North Carolina [19-8 (9-5), RPI: 21, SOS: 11] The Tar Heels’ three big wins in the past 10 days — vs. Virginia, at Georgia Tech and at home against NC State — didn’t just add a couple of quality home victories against tournament-caliber teams and avoid a slightly ugly loss. It also helped boost the Tar Heels’ RPI into the top 20s and added another top-25 RPI win (NC State) to a profile largely bereft of that kind of quality.
Maryland [19-8 (7-7), RPI: 67, SOS: 119] The Terps quickly undid many of the benefits they gained with the Duke win in their loss to Boston College last week, and their remaining schedule — at Georgia Tech, at Wake, UNC, at Virginia — doesn’t bode particularly well. Are those winnable games? Sure. Are they loseable? Oh yes.
Virginia [19-8 (9-5), RPI: 69, SOS: 142] Meanwhile, Virginia remains much better than its RPI profile claims. Most efficiency-based metrics have the Cavaliers as a top-30 — even a top-20 — team; BPI puts UVa at No. 43. The RPI doesn’t do this team justice, largely thanks to a few ugly early losses and some poorly chosen road drops (Georgia Tech, Clemson) in ACC play. With Duke arriving on Thursday, does Tony Bennett’s team still have time to turn the tide?
Arizona State [20-8 (9-6), RPI: 85, SOS: 137] I’m not sure the Sun Devils did themselves all that much damage by losing to Washington, even at home. More important right now is the still-prohibitively high RPI and nonconference SOS number (289). Now ASU has three straight road games to close the season, which are go big or go home: at UCLA, at USC, at Arizona. It all comes down to that.
Jay Coleman, Mike DuMond, & Allen Lynch
NCAA Tournament “Dance Card”
Below are rankings of all NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams through the games of Sunday, March 3, 2013, according to the “Dance Card” formula developed by Jay Coleman of the University of North Florida, Mike DuMond of Charles River Associates, and Allen Lynch of Mercer University.
The Dance Card is a formula designed to predict which teams will receive at-large tournament bids from the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. To get the rankings shown below, we have removed the historical conference-related biases found in the past committee decisions on which the Dance Card was based. In other words, if the current committee is free of the same biases, its decisions should closely match the predictions below.
Last season the “biased” Dance Card correctly predicted 35 of 37 at-large bids (95%). The “unbiased” version correctly predicted 36 of 37 bids (97%), suggesting that last year’s committee closely followed the performance-related patterns of past committees, without also showing similar historical biases.
In addition to the Dance Card value and ranking, also shown is the probability that a team with the same profile would have gotten an at-large bid in past years, if today was Selection Sunday. (Although the bubble line reflects this year’s 68-team (37 at-large bid) field, the probability shown reflects a 65-team (34 at-large bid) Tournament.) The RPI ranks are from the old RPI formula, in which wins on the road and losses at home are weighted equally. This is the version of the RPI used in the Dance Card’s development, and the version used to generate the predictions in all past years.
Rank..Team…….Dance Card…..Chance of Bid….RPI Rank
1…….. Duke……. 11.4360… 100.00%… 1
5…….. Michigan… 9.7441… 100.00%… 12
10……. Miami FL… 8.4494… 100.00%… 3
18……. Oklahoma St……. 5.1320… 100.00%… 24
28……. North Carolina St… 3.6775… 99.99%… 27
32……. North Carolina… 3.5367… 99.98%… 23
45……. Virginia…. 0.6660… 74.73%… 65
51……. Kentucky…. -0.1702… 43.24%… 48
52……. Baylor…. -0.9156… 17.99%… 57
THE BUBBLE BURST HERE
53…… Tennessee… -1.0664… 14.31%… 53
56…… Maryland… -1.8462… 3.24%… 62
61…… Massachusetts… -2.1168… 1.71%… 52
64…… Arizona St…. -2.5510… 0.54%… 75
65…… Stanford… -2.6023… 0.46%… 59
84…… Florida St…. -6.1653… 0.00%… 76
Ken Pomeroy (kenpom.com)
It might matter how a team plays
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Over the next three weeks, the usual conversation will take place regarding the selection process. We are pretty certain to hear two things from bracketologists:
1. This is the weakest bubble ever. Or at the very least, “this bubble is so weak.” Of course it is! You are are dealing with the 45th to 50th best teams in the country. These teams lose a bunch of games. They occasionally play like the 150th best team in the country. This is why they aren’t a shoo-in for a 68-team tournament.
2. The selection committee only cares about RPI-related information. This may or may not be true, but the certainty to which people claim it’s so is a bit overstated, I believe.
Not that I’m under the illusion that any other ratings system is used in the selection process. The process is built around looking at data based on RPI rankings, and the information analyzed by committee members is far too extensive to allow any of the other rankings available to be used in a productive way.
However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some indirect influence. The Easiest Bubble Solver as invented by Drew Cannon has had a pretty good track record the past three years sorting out bubble teams. For those unaware, the EBS simply adds the ranking of a team in the RPI to its ranking in my system. You can take the lowest ranked teams from that method to determine who is in and who is out.
Ken Pomeroy (kenpom.com)
On overvaluing road play (again)
Monday, March 7, 2011
Looking at one particular piece of data at the exclusion of others based on historical precedent is dangerous, because every fact has context. Before last season, one might have though it crazy that a team could shoot less than 45% and win a national title. (No title winner had shot worse than 45% since 1966 before last season.) Or before 2008, some thought it was not possible for a team to make 61% of its free throws and get within a bucket of a national title. But those things happened.
You know why you rarely see teams that shoot 44% from the field win national titles? Because teams that shoot that bad typically have difficulty scoring. When looking beyond the shooting percentage, one could see that Duke was possibly a significant exception to that at this time last season.
You know why you don’t see poor free throw shooting teams win national titles? Because teams that struggle with that typically struggle with a lot of other basketball skills (most notably, making shots while guarded), and thus aren’t very good in general. When one looked at Memphis in early March of 2008, one could see that they were good enough in other areas to possibly be an exception.
And likewise, when teams do poorly on the road, they tend to also show vulnerabilities at home. But Kentucky is an exception. They almost surely won’t win a national title, and you’d be nuts to take an even money wager that they’ll get to the Final Four. But it’s not because their road performance reveals something negative about their heart/will/guts. It’s simply that they aren’t as good at playing basketball as Ohio State or Kansas or Duke or even Purdue, and they’ll have to play one of those teams to get to Houston.