Thursday, November 17, 2011

NC State Survives Princeton, Boise State Destroys Utah

North Carolina State 60, Princeton 58
Princeton actually led for most of the early part of this game, but NC State ended up making enough plays down the stretch, including a jumper by DeShawn Painter with four seconds to go to win the game. Princeton star Douglas Davis tried his hardest to pull this one out, scoring 21 points (including 5-for-8 behind the arc), including the three-pointer with 22 seconds left that tied the game and forced Painter to hit that game-winner. The star for NC State was Lorenzo Brown, who was too much for Princeton on both ends of the floor (8-for-13 shooting, 8 assists, 5 steals)

NC State is now 3-0, though it's a pretty soft 3-0 (this win over Princeton is their best, by far). They head next to the Legends Classic, where they'll open on Saturday against Vanderbilt, and then will play either Texas or Oregon State on Monday. Princeton, after making the NCAA Tournament last season, is off to a disappointing start to this season. This is a game they'll feel they should have won, and it comes off an embarrassing 16 point loss to Wagner. They will attempt to bounce back on Saturday, against Wagner. Their next tough test will probably be when they head to Bucknell on November 25th.

Boise State 80, Utah 59
This game was never close. Boise State led by 19 at the half, and by as much as 28 points early in the second half before putting the game into cruise control down the stretch. Boise State shot well (10-for-18 behind the arc), but that wasn't why they won. They won in all aspects of the game, including offensive rebounds (11-to-4) and turnovers forced (19-to-8). Their leading scorer was actually Anthony Drmic (23 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field), who was a little known 2011 recruit out of Australia. Utah, meanwhile, is still a young team that is developing. They will not be a factor in their first season in the Pac-12.

Utah should bounce back on Saturday against Montana State, and they then head off to the Bahamas. There they'll open on Thanksgiving against Harvard. The next day they'll play either Florida State or UMass. As for Boise State, also in their first year in a new conference (the Mountain West), this is still their first win over a Division I team this season. They play Cal State Northridge on Saturday, but I'm more curious about a road game on Tuesday at Long Beach State. As good as Long Beach State looks to be this season, that would be a very nice win for Boise State if they can earn it.

Creighton 70, UAB 60
Doug McDermott impressed me a lot over the summer, and he's continued his strong play this season. After scoring 34 points combined on 15-for-23 shooting in Creighton's first two games of the season, he went for 27 points (on 11-for-18 shooting) and 7 rebounds here. The best player for UAB was Cameron Moore, who was a rock in the middle with 12 rebounds and 7 blocks. I had thought preseason that UAB, while not a Tournament team, was a Bubble-quality team that would be competitive all season. But the transfer of Dexter Fields has created a scoring problem and a depth problem for Mike Davis.

UAB will look for their first win of the season on Sunday against Murray State. A game to watch coming up will be November 25th at Wichita State. As for Creighton, my pick to win the Missouri Valley, their next game will be on Sunday against Iowa. They also have a game coming up on November 30th at San Diego State as part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.


Rainmaker203 said...

Not really related to your post, but I found this dilemma interesting and, since you're big on math and statistics, wanted to hear your thoughts on it:

From 1985-2001, teams seeded 13-16 won 36 games in the NCAA tournament, an average of 2.12 wins per year. From 2002-2011, however, teams seeded 13-16 won 13 games, an average of 1.3 wins per year.

This result is stastically significant. So, here's the question: the number of small schools making deep runs has increased in recent years, so why has the number of big 1st round upsets declined during the same period of time?

Jeff said...

That's an interesting question. I can't confirm those stats at the moment, but I assume you've got them right. First of all, I think it would be interesting to plot it to see if there's some discontinuity or if it's a trend. What you can do to take the noise down is plot a five year rolling average or something like that.

I can imagine that higher seeded teams take the early rounds more serious now after seeing so many upsets in the past - if that were the case then we'd probably expect something of a discontinuity around the late 1990s and early 2000s. I wouldn't expect to see any change from, say, 2005 through 2011.

An alternative theory is that the increasing depth of talent in Division I actually creates more upsets in the conference tournaments, which makes the 14, 15 and 16 seeds weaker than they were in the past. If this were true then we'd expect a steady trend over the past 25 years.

If you want to test this latter theory then you'd have to collect conference tournament data.

Alternatively you can find data from Pomeroy and Sagarin going back at least a decade. If there's an increasing trend in the NCAA Tournament over that period then you can look at the average quality of the 14, 15 and 16 seeds, and if that quality has decreased.

Oh to have an intern to do this data crunching for me....