Saturday, December 15, 2007

Yeah, I Know

I've been lax with the updates (although to be fair, I've written a couple posts worth of comments on the W-14 BP65 and my most recent blog post on BasketballForum). I've been a bit busy lately. Although this is the time to be busy, as it's the slowest time of the season. Most every college had finals this week and/or has finals next week. So there aren't a lot of good games. Things will pick up again as we get close to New Year's. For now, an update on some of the biggest games since my last update:

#17 Xavier 64, Cincinnati 59
This was actually a very good game. Cincinnati seemed to have this one in hand before blowing it late. They lacked a lot of more experienced talent, so they were either stuck with inferior talent or inexperienced talent on the floor. When Xavier turned up the pressure late, the Bearcats struggled to score. Xavier hung on to prove once again that they can dig deep to win important games. This is why I think they're winning the A-10, although I do think that they are overranked. They'll lose a few games in conference, and the A-10 has a mix of pretty good teams and also some pretty bad teams. Cincy is going to learn to close out some of these games, as they are improving quickly under Mick Cronin. I really like what Cronin did with inferior talent at Murray State, and he's quickly teaching the young Bearcats how to win against superior foes. They're not going to make the Tournament this year, but they will be more of a factor in the Big East. I would say that a reasonable goal would be finishing 12th and making the Big East Tournament (remember, the Bearcats finished 16th last year).

#21 Vanderbilt 91, Depaul 85, OT
Pretty heartbreaking loss at home for a Depaul team that sported an 18 point second half lead at one point. But this accentuates the point that I made in the comments on the W-14 BP65 - Vanderbilt is simply overrated. They've played a bunch of "fairly good" and "fairly mediocre" teams. They've won every game, but so many of them have been close. A couple of those could easily have turned into losses. The odds even out as the sample size gets larger, so either Vandy has to start playing better or they're going to start to lose some close games. This disparity in how they've played and what their record is can be seen in this morning's Sagarin Rankings. Vandy has an ELO_CHESS of 7th in the nation, and a PREDICTOR of 34th. In other words, their win/loss resume is the 7th most impressive in the country so far, but they've only played like the 34th best team. And as we all know, the PREDICTOR is not a misnomer, as it is the better predictor of future performance. Vanderbilt has a good shot to make the Tournament, but they are not an elite team. People are giving them 4 and 5 seeds at the Bracket Matrix, and they're just fooling themselves. If the season ended now, a 4 or 5 seed would be what they'd probably get. But they have almost 20 games to go, and plenty of losses to accrue. Their ranking will come back to reality.

Miami (Fl) 64, Mississippi State 58
I'm not sure why Miami isn't getting as much love as Vanderbilt, as both teams have basically done the same thing. Miami has also scheduled a bunch of decent teams and beaten all of them. This might have been the best win for the Hurricanes, and they should finally get into the Top 25 this Monday. The best team they play before conference play is Winthrop, at home, so it wouldn't be a shock for this team to be 14-0 as ACC play begins. And they begin with three very winnable conference games. Don't surprised to see this team get a ton of hype over the next couple of weeks before they return to Earth. Like Vandy, this team keeps winning all of these games, but they simply don't look like an elite team. A lot of close wins, a lot of close escapes. And, like Vandy, the Sagarin ranking shows what I'm talking about. An ELO_CHESS of 15th and a PREDICTOR of 42nd. In other words, this is a pure bubble team. Over the next few weeks you'll see this team getting 3, 4 and 5 seeds at the Bracket Matrix. But if you're a Miami fan, don't get too excited. Once they lose a few games, everyone will suddenly realize that this team doesn't have a really good resume win. They're going to have to pull a big upset like North Carolina or Duke, or else keep up the good computer numbers. This will be a bubble team to the end, and they're going to need everything they can get to earn a bid.

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