Monday, October 20, 2014

Morning News: Midnight Madness, Coaches Poll, Florida News, And Evan Smotrycz

"I got it... I got it... I got it... Crap."

New Bracket Projection This week I just want to give you all a heads up that I will have a new BP68 posted in the next day or two. The most recent one, which I posted on June 29th, is here.

Midnight Madness Goofiness This post being led by a Drake joke was such a sure thing that it was off the board in Vegas, but somehow Tubby Smith stole the spotlight with his motorcycle crash. The story from Kentucky, other than Drake doing Drake things, is the hype machine is revving up again. Rather than give you my 40-0 speech again, I'll just link to what I wrote about this a year ago.

Preseason Coaches Poll Revealed Overall, I do think this is a decent preseason Top 25 from the Coaches Poll, which isn't too surprising. Remember that the most accurate human poll of the season tends to be the preseason poll, since it's the only poll where pollsters are actually trying to rank the 25 best teams and aren't bound by stupid rules like head-to-head transitive properties.

The most underrated team is no surprise: Utah. The Utes were staggeringly underrated last season due to a crap strength of schedule (the 350th ranked non-conference SOS out of 351 by Pomeroy) and horrible luck in close games (1-8 in games decided by four points or less). So on Selection Sunday they were 80th in RPI and nowhere near the tourney bubble, but in the Top 40 of both Pomeroy and the Sagarin PREDICTOR. They now return their entire regular rotation and add a strong recruiting class. Utah deserves to be a Top 20 team, but it'll probably take at least until December before polling catches up with them.

The most significantly overrated team by my projections is Michigan State. I honestly don't really understand the logic of pollsters having them ahead of teams like Ohio State and Iowa, other than "I dunno, Tom Izzo will figure it out".

Speaking of clueless pollsters, I spoke on twitter about the fact that we need a sting operation to weed out voters who effectively announce that they don't pay attention to the sport. This year, we could have eliminated any voter who voted for Oregon, who are in 35th place in the Coaches Poll with 9 votes. Now, that wouldn't have been a terrible place for them back in April, when I had them as a 10 seed in my projected bracket after they lost three starters and two key bench pieces to graduation off a pretty good team. But since then? Three players have been booted out of the school for domestic assault, two more have been recently arrested and suspended, they lost their star recruit (JaQuan Lyle) and lost Michael Chandler for a while with a knee injury. At this point they're going to struggle to get five scholarship players on the court when the season starts. Anybody giving them Top 25 votes just isn't paying attention and should have their voting privileges revoked.

Florida Loses Brandone Francis For The Season The Chris Walker suspension got a lot of attention in the press this week, but I doubt it's going to really matter. Walker's "three game suspension" includes an exhibition and two relatively easy home regular season games. He'll even  have a full game back in the lineup before Florida gets their first big time test at the Battle 4 Atlantis.

The more important news for Florida is that Brandone Francis is going to miss the entire season after being declard academically ineligible. Francis was not going to start as a freshman, but he was expected to be a regular contributor off the bench.

Evan Smotrycz Out 4-6 Weeks A sprained ankle will probably sideline Smotrycz until after the CBE Classic during Thanksgiving week. Maryland looks to be a Tournament quality team this coming season, but they're far from a sure thing after so much roster turnover during the offseason. A concern for them is front court depth, and Smotrycz is a strong defensive rebounder who can guard opposing power forwards. After the CBE Classic, their next tough non-conference game will be December 3rd, at home against Virginia as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. If Smotrycz can't make it back for that, Maryland's final significant non-conference test will be December 21st at Oklahoma State.

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