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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tom O'Brien Appears On The Solid Verbal Podcast


What's this? Tom O'Brien, being interviewed by two dudes for a podcast?

What is this world coming to when TOB starts embracing the internet blogosphere-ish elements of the sports "media" world?

What's next? Tom getting a Twitter account and duking it out with followers, 140 characters at a time?

In any event, here's a link to the podcast from the site, www.thesolidverbal.com. There's nothing earth-shattering from TOB here, but it's worth a listen.

View the complete entry of "Tom O'Brien Appears On The Solid Verbal Podcast"

2010 March Of Dimes March For Babies


Guys, this is a real quick post to draw your attention to the new widget on the far right: the March of Dimes March For Babies sponsorship widget.

Some quick background: My wife and I lost our first child. He was born prematurely at 23 weeks and lived just a few moments with us. It was terribly tough at the time and still impacts us to this day.

But the silver lining to his passing was it taught us what we needed to do to bring our subsequent children here safe and healthy. And I believe in my heart that the work and funds raised by the March of Dimes brought about the advances in medicine that have blessed us with our three beautiful children that we have today.

So if you have the time and funds to donate, please do so. As we learned, having children is a no small miracle, and there are families out there like mine that require the extra help provided by March of Dimes to bring their babies into the world safe and healthy.

Thanks in advance!

View the complete entry of "2010 March Of Dimes March For Babies"

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

BC AD Gene DeFilippo Nukes His Athletic Department...Again


By now you've surely heard the news that Boston College AD Gene DeFilippo has fired Al Skinner for entertaining the St. John's basketball job.

This is the second major sport coach DeFilippo has canned in the last year and a half for interviewing for another job. Jeff Jagodzinski, BC's football coach at the time, was dismissed after entertaining the Jets job back in January of 2009.

You have to wonder about DeFilippo and his management style. I realize that, as AD, he has a responsibility to do his best to promote the school and insist on coaches that win and increase BC's visibility on a national stage.

However, is DeFilippo cutting his nose off to spite his face? Is the firing of two revenue coaches (and the un-amicable parting of Tom O'Brien from BC in 2006) creating a culture that will stymie their ability to attract top-notch coaching talent in the future?

It's an interesting balance that an AD must strike. In DeFilippo's case, having a quick trigger could have an adverse affect on their coaching hires. In the case of State--with an AD extremely adverse to firing, even in justified instances--the culture can sour from the fan side of the equation, also leading to a culture that makes hiring new coaches difficult (see: 2006 basketball coaching search). An AD must balance his wishes with that of the fanbase he ultimately serves.

I think DeFilippo was wrong to let go of Skinner, but I know there were plenty of folks outside of State that felt State's fanbase was wrong to exert pressure on Sendek that led to his departure. So who knows...perhaps BC will improve their lot in the long run. In the short term, DeFilippo's actions seem heavy-handed to me, just as they did in 2009 with Jagodzinski.

View the complete entry of "BC AD Gene DeFilippo Nukes His Athletic Department...Again"

Monday, March 29, 2010

YANCSSB Makes An Appearance At Dr. Saturday


Doug Gillett of Dr. Saturday (Yahoo's college football blog) contacted me last week about contributing to their piece on Tom O'Brien and his relative hot seat-ness. (?)

You can find his full piece here.

Other than a couple of wrong assumptions (namely, that Russell Wilson was pulled during the SC game due to poor performance in favor of Mike Glennon, when in reality O'Brien planned to give Glennon snaps that game regardless), it's a solid piece.

Here's my quote. I'd be curious to know your thoughts. Am I off-base?
It's time to see some tangible, meaningful wins beyond merely beating Carolina every year. If -- after three years with Russell Wilson at QB and plenty of time to build depth across the roster -- O'Brien can't muster at least seven wins and a bowl appearance, the drums of war will start beating pretty loudly. There are positions on the field that look good, like quarterback and the offensive line, but others that are still razor thin, like the secondary. And given that defense was what held this team back from reaching its potential last season, another sub-par defensive unit could scuttle 2010 and perhaps O'Brien's job.

View the complete entry of "YANCSSB Makes An Appearance At Dr. Saturday"

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Basketball Season Wrap-up


2010 Stats from KenPom.com:

CategoryOffenseDefenseD-I Avg
Adj. Efficiency:105.6[109]92.7[47]100.8
Adj. Tempo:65.5 [249]67.3
Four Factors
Effective FG%:48.3[190]46.3[57]48.9
Turnover %:19.9[144]19.9[207]20.4
Off. Reb. %:32.5[187]33.8[228]32.7

2009 Stats from KenPom.com for comparison:

CategoryOffenseDefenseD-I Avg
Adj. Efficiency:113.4[30]101.4[172]101.1
Adj. Tempo:64.1 [266]66.5
Four Factors
Effective FG%:53.8[24]48.0[117]49.1
Turnover %:21.5[234]16.6[332]20.4
Off. Reb. %:36.3[57]33.1[187]32.9
FTA/FGA:37.8[137]28.3 [17]36.4

So another year of Wolfpack basketball has come to a close. It's somewhat tough for me to say definitively whether or not this was a positive season or a negative one.

Positives: We saw the increased effort and improved chemistry we all thought (and hoped) we would. This team started the year strong and finished the year strong (for the most part). The improved effort and chemistry yielded strong improvement on the defensive end (up 125 spots in the defensive efficiency ratings from a year ago) and in the steals department (up 116 spots). The team won two games in the ACC Tournament and nearly advanced to the ACC Finals, and won enough at the end to secure a NIT bid, where they won on the road against a higher seed in the first round. The win against Duke at home was a great highlight of the year.

Negatives: The seven-game ACC losing streak. Not beating a down UNC team in either meeting when the Virginias and Miamis were closing the deal. The offensive efficiency, rebounding and shooting percentage numbers were all down from 2009. In a relatively down year for the ACC, the Pack still finished only one game out of last place. The last-second heave from Florida. *shudder*

Overall, I think this year was a step in the right direction, but not as big a step as it could have been or probably needed to. The chances were there for the Pack to elevate its standing in the league and the program's perception nationally, perhaps to even play themselves into the NCAA bubble when the tournament field was so weak, but they could not. The guard play was still suspect at times but the turnover percentage decreased, so it was improved in some areas but not in others. The final loss against UAB was just plain ugly from start to finish.

Bottom line: It's all about 2011.

This season was meant to be a bridge from the turmoil and strife of 2008 and 2009 to the future of Harrow, Brown and potentially CJ Leslie. In a lot of ways it was. Not much was expected of the team, and in some ways they exceeded those expectations. And you have to like how the team responded at the end of the year to play its way into the postseason.

But when you step back and look at what could have been--with the close losses to Florida, Arizona and blown chances against UNC--it could have been much more satisfying. And exceeding extremely low expectations isn't exactly an accomplishment. It's merely averting disaster.

Next season is put-up-or-shut-up time for the Lowe era in year five. There are no two ways about it. Fair or unfair, I think it would take some extenuating circumstances for Sidney to keep his job if State does not make it to the NCAA Tournament.

View the complete entry of "Basketball Season Wrap-up"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wait, Who's UAB Playing Tonight?


Kudos to ncsu01 for putting this together and for giving me a good laugh. Yeah, they did kind of harp on it a bit...

View the complete entry of "Wait, Who's UAB Playing Tonight?"

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Look At UAB


Rank and RecordsNCSU
Strength of Schedule#70
Top 253-2
RPI Top 505-7

Life certainly doesn't get any easier this afternoon as the Pack travels to Birmingham to take on the Blazers of UAB. A 2-seed, the Blazers come into the game with a solid RPI (42), Pomeroy Rating (66) and single-digit losses on the year. They're 13-4 at home, so taking them out in Birmingham will be no small feat.

The Blazers have no one that outscores Tracy Smith per game (16.8) individually but three players that average in double figures--guard/wing forward Elijah Millsap (15.7), forward Howard Crawford (12.0) and guard Jamarr Sanders (10.3).

UAB is run at the point by fireplug Aaron Johnson (5-8, 185), who deals out 4.8 assists per game against 2.7 turnovers. Javier Gonzalez will have a height advantage (6-0, 175) but will give up 15 pounds, so expect Johnson to be physical with whomever matches up with him.

The Blazers are 5-point favorites at home. The game will tip at 5:00pm and can be seen (or not seen) on ESPNU. The winner will face off against the Tar Heels, who defeated Mississippi State this afternoon. If State should win, they'll do battle in Charmichael.

View the complete entry of "A Look At UAB"

Friday, March 19, 2010

Day 2: ACC Roundtable-ish LiveBlog


View the complete entry of "Day 2: ACC Roundtable-ish LiveBlog"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

State's Improved Defense Yielding Victories


If it seems like State's played much better defensively during this stretch of improved play, you'd be right.

Since the start of March, the Pack has held the effective field goal percentage of all its opponents to 48.1% and below, and as you can see in the chart below, those numbers have been trending downward.

Compare those numbers against those put up during the seven-game ACC losing streak:

State gave up eFG%s greater than 55% in four games during that stretch, with none less than 45%.

It's tough to beat teams when you're operating in an eFG% deficit. By improving their effectiveness on the defensive end, they are making it much easier to stay on the positive side of the ledger, leading to an improved conclusion to the season.

View the complete entry of "State's Improved Defense Yielding Victories"

Playing With House Money


You may have heard that expression before--"Playing with house money." For those not familiar with the saying, it's a gambling/poker expression that means you're risking money you've already won from "the house." Whether you win or lose, you don't go home any worse off than how you started.

Sidney Lowe and the men's basketball team, right now, are playing with "house money." In a postseason tournament like the NIT, that's playing from a position of tremendous strength.

By all accounts, State's already exceeded its very modest expectations for the year. The team was predicted to finish last in the league and finished in a tie for 9th. They beat a very good Marquette team on the road, a good Auburn team to claim the Glenn Wilkes Classic "title," and but for a miracle heave at the buzzer, nearly defeated a good Florida team at home. And in the ACC Tournament, they advanced to Semifinal Saturday and were within reach of getting into the title game against Duke.

There was a stretch during the middle of a conference season where things looked very bleak. After upsetting Duke in the RBC Center, State would lose seven straight conference games. The Pack looked destined to finish 12th where pundits believed they would.

But a home win against Wake Forest sparked a run of six wins over eight games that's still running. And since that game against the Deacs, the Pack has looked like a team with promise in all but one of them (the Virginia Tech debacle was certainly forgettable).

So now you have a team playing its best basketball of the season at the right time. It's due in large part to the fact that anything accomplished from here on out is gravy. State's made it to the postseason--a goal of the team's prior to the start of the year. The pressure is now off, and when you've got a team playing loose and hungry, that's a deadly combo.

Can you blame them for not wanting to keep things going? Imagine playing an entire season struggling to find the right formula, with a month-long blight where nothing seemed to work, only to discover yourselves at the end. If you're Dennis Horner or Farnold Degand, you can bet they're playing every minute as if it's their last because, well, it could be. It showed against South Florida, with Horner setting a new career high in points with 25, and Degand has played the most aggressive ball of his career in the last month.

There are no more expectations or achievements that need to be met before folks sign off on this season. State's playing with a stack of chips they didn't bring to the table, and if you've played poker before, you know players like with large stacks are the most dangerous folks to square off against. They've got nothing to lose, everything to gain and force you to play your best to beat them.

Just like N.C. State.

View the complete entry of "Playing With House Money"

ACC Roundtable-ish NCAA LiveBlog!


Here's a LiveBlog hosted by three of the fine gentlemen from the ACC Roundtable. I'm regrettably at work and cannot participate, but feel free to log in, hurl insults and create general havoc on my behalf:

View the complete entry of "ACC Roundtable-ish NCAA LiveBlog!"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Horner Says, "It Ain't Over 'Til I Say It's Over"



Dennis Horner's not yet ready to take off the State jersey for good, but it was a cog of State's future that came up with the huge play at the end.

Up one with eight seconds to play behind Horner's 25 points, State had to hold on for one final defensive stand. And after USF's all-everything Dominique Jones gave up the ball, State freshman Richard Howell stepped out on Augustus Gilchrist to make a huge block to seal the deal.

Horner was pretty much the only State player participating the first half. In fact, Horner scored all 12 of State's first points in the game.

In the end, the Pack gets a huge win on the road. It was the Pack's 20th on the year, the second time during Sidney's tenure.

State will face UAB in the next round this Saturday. The time is yet to be determined.

View the complete entry of "Horner Says, "It Ain't Over 'Til I Say It's Over""

Ultra-late State Vs. South Florida


The Pack squares off against South Florida tonight in a contest between two fairly evenly matched programs.

As you can see above, both teams score the ball at nearly the same efficiency, turn the ball over at nearly the same rate and attack the offensive glass with nearly the same effectiveness. The Bulls have a bit better rate of getting to the foul line.

Per Steven's conversation with the folks at Voodoo5, Dominique Jones is the focal point of their team. The 6-4 guard plays over 90% of his available minutes, ranking 13th nationally, and nearly 31% of his teams's possessions go through him, as well, also one of the nation's leaders. Clamping down on Jones tonight will be key.

Here are some more stats heading into the game, courtesy of StatSheet.com.
Total Games34321618
Field Goals Made815758362432
Field Goals Attempted18671717904977
Field Goal Percentage0.4370.4410.40.442
Free Throws Made472522244309
Free Throws Attempted693765343445
Free Throw Percentage0.6810.6820.7110.694
3pt Field Goals Made1861317960
3pt Field Goals Attempted556461256241
3pt Field Goal Percentage0.3350.2840.3090.249
Points Per Game67.367.865.468.5
Rebounds Per Game34.935.834.634.8
Offensive Rebounds391381203218
Offensive Rebounds Per Game11.511.912.712.1
Defensive Rebounds797763351408
Defensive Rebounds Per Game23.423.821.922.7
Assists Per Game13.612.111.610.8
Steals Per Game6.
Turnovers Per Game13.112.712.912.4
Blocks Per Game4.
Fouls Per Game18.017.220.418.2

View the complete entry of "Ultra-late State Vs. South Florida"

NIT Brackets? YOU BET! Testing Three BBall Predictors Using NIT Brackets


If you're like me, it's hard not to get swept up in all the NIT madness...the 24/7 coverage, the selection shows, the lobbying from coaches on the outside looking in. It's CRAZY!

So swept up in the madness of it all, am I, that I've decided to test three different "strength" indicators using this year's NIT field. I'm pitting the RPI, Ken Pomeroy's ratings and the LRMC (Bayesian) rating system against one another to see which system will come out on top! Feel the excitement!

(Now, a note: Two of these systems--the RPI and the Pomeroy ratings--are at an inherent disadvantage because they don't take venue into account. The LRMC does. Given the NIT games--all but the Final Four--are played at the home courts of the higher seeded teams, the LRMC stands to gain from this advantage.)

So here are the brackets:



LRMC (Bayesian):

View the complete entry of "NIT Brackets? YOU BET! Testing Three BBall Predictors Using NIT Brackets"

Sunday, March 14, 2010

NIT Pickin': State In As A 6-seed; VT, UNC In As Well


Sure, some may cynically refer to the NIT as "The Battle For 66th" but we all know--by virtue of automatic bids into the NCAAs--it's really a battle for 35ish.

Don't laugh.

It's not exactly something a team strives for at the outset of a season, but not nearly the joke of an event some would make it out to be.

And given that most predicted the Pack to finish dead last in the league, the NIT's not a bad consolation prize for falling short of making the NCAA Tournament. And with State concluding the regular season winning five of their last seven and two games in the ACC Tournament, making the NIT field adds to the relatively positive conclusion to the year.

Here's a complete breakdown of the 32-team field, plus some of my thoughts at the end:

The Illinois Region:
1 Illinois| RPI: 75| Pomeroy: 52Prediction: W, 72-63, 66 possessions, 81%
8 Stony Brook| RPI: 156| Pomeroy: 191
4 Kent State| RPI: 45| Pomeroy: 83Prediction: W, 69-66, 68 possessions, 63%
5 Tulsa| RPI: 70| Pomeroy: 79
3 Dayton| RPI: 51| Pomeroy: 45Prediction: W, 68-59, 65 possessions, 83%
6 Illinois State| RPI: 77| Pomeroy: 90
2 Cincinnati| RPI: 60| Pomeroy: 69Prediction: W, 74-66, 67 possessions, 79%
7 Weber State| RPI: 82| Pomeroy: 109
Averages:| RPI: 77.0| Pomeroy: 89.8

The Arizona State Region:
1 Arizona State| RPI: 65| Pomeroy: 42Prediction: W, 71-57, 63 possessions, 93%
8 Jacksonville| RPI: 153| Pomeroy: 153
4 Seton Hall| RPI: 56| Pomeroy: 62Prediction: W, 84-77, 76 possessions, 74%
5 Texas Tech| RPI: 67| Pomeroy: 80
3 Memphis| RPI: 58| Pomeroy: 51Prediction: W, 70-64, 64 possessions, 73%
6 St. John's| RPI: 78| Pomeroy: 65
2 Mississippi| RPI: 59| Pomeroy: 54Prediction: W, 82-66, 69 possessions, 93%
7 Troy| RPI: 113| Pomeroy: 174
Averages:| RPI: 81.1| Pomeroy: 85.1

The Virginia Tech Region:
1 Virginia Tech| RPI:57| Pomeroy: 31Prediction: W, 81-61, 71 possessions, 96%
8 Quinnipiac| RPI: 141| Pomeroy: 194
4 UConn| RPI: 62| Pomeroy: 55Prediction: W, 64-58, 63 possessions, 76%
5 Northeastern| RPI: 72| Pomeroy: 76
3 Wichita State| RPI: 47| Pomeroy: 70Prediction: W, 76-69, 67 possessions, 75%
6 Nevada| RPI: 73| Pomeroy: 96
2 Rhode Island| RPI: 38| Pomeroy: 73Prediction: W, 72-63 66 possessions, 81%
7 Northwestern| RPI: 116| Pomeroy: 77
Averages:| RPI: 75.8| Pomeroy: 84.0

The Mississippi State Region:
1 Mississippi St.| RPI: 55| Pomeroy: 41Prediction: W, 72-63, 66 possessions, 81%
8 Jackson State| RPI: 201| Pomeroy: 288
4 UNC| RPI: 89| Pomeroy: 63Prediction: W, 72-63, 65 possessions, 83%
5 William & Mary| RPI: 61| Pomeroy: 113
3 South Florida| RPI: 68| Pomeroy: 78Prediction: W, 64-62, 63 possessions, 56%
6 NC State| RPI: 95| Pomeroy: 59
2 UAB| RPI: 44| Pomeroy: 67Prediction: W, 65-55, 62 possessions, 87%
7 Coastal Carolina| RPI: 135| Pomeroy: 147
Averages:| RPI: 93.5| Pomeroy: 107.0

  • State ended up in BY FAR the easiest region. There are two teams with RPIs over 100--one being Jackson State's 201--and three with Pomeroy ratings above 100. Both of this region's average RPI and Pomeroy ratings are nearly 20 points lower than the highest, the Virginia Tech region.
  • Speaking of Virginia Tech, they weren't done any favors being one of the first teams left out of the NCAA Tournament. They landed in the statistically most-difficult region in the tournament. Their opening round game against Quinnipiac should be a breeze, but beyond them lie either UConn or Northeastern, two teams that could easily beat the Hokies on the road. If Seth Greenberg can't get them ready to play after the dejection of missing out on the Big Dance, it could mean an early exit for one of the tournament's #1 seeds (and a black eye for the ACC).
  • The Tar Heels were gifted a #4 seed but host a very strong team in William & Mary. The Tribe has beaten several good opponents already this year, including Maryland, and has an RPI 38 spots higher than the Heels. However, W&M has a Pomeroy rating 50 points lower than Carolina, so there's a potential for good game in Chapel Hill.
  • State's game against South Florida has been tabbed by Ken Pomeroy's site as the FanMatch game of the night. Ken uses a formula to determine--based factors like tempo, style of play, strengths and weakness, etc.--to predict entertaining games. I think his formula is right on this one...I expect State to put up a great fight on the road.
  • Some quirky items: UConn and Northeastern face off in a battle the Huskies...Jacksonville's RPI and Pomeroy rating are identical: 153...Both "Wolfpacks" (State's Wolfpack and Nevada's Wolf Pack) are six seeds, and could meet in the NIT Final Four.

View the complete entry of "NIT Pickin': State In As A 6-seed; VT, UNC In As Well"

Updated Conference Strength Of Schedule: Sorry VT, You Don't Belong In


I've been watching the NCAA Tournament Bracektology show. It's amusing to me to hear pundits like Doug Gottlieb make arguments in favor of VT based on their 10 conference wins while ignoring the unbalanced (or is it imbalanced?) conference strength of schedule.

As you can see in the above chart, VT has the WORST conference strength of schedule. Gottlieb can't seem to grasp this fact. He explains away the fact that VT has NO wins of note against teams in the RPI Top 25 and keeps pointing to the 10 conference wins. Wouldn't you recognize that none of VT's ACC wins are quality ones?

Sorry VT fans. Y'all are good people, but Seth's scheduling continually puts y'all in this position. It's not his fault, necessarily, that his conference schedule ranking this year is so low--that's out his hands. But by REFUSING to play any quality teams out of conference this year, he provided no insurance against his weak conference slate. And since the conference game rotations are known years in advance, there's no reason he can't add a few stronger teams when his conference schedule shapes up to be a weak one.

(If you need an explanation of what the above chart means, go here.)

View the complete entry of "Updated Conference Strength Of Schedule: Sorry VT, You Don't Belong In"

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Good Wood: Pack Beats FSU Behind Wood's 18 Points


Hey, Florida State: Scott Wood has your number.

That number is Three.


Scott may have struggled shooting the ball for the better part of the season, but whenever he teed it up against the Seminoles, somehow the ball was just going to go in. He was feeling it so good last night, at one point he REFUSED to pass the ball at the perimeter, ball-faking his defender two or three times before releasing an off-balanced shot. 99 times out of 100, that's a BAD shot, but I couldn't blame him taking it. You really felt like--just as during the regular season game--that it was going in.

After lighting up the 'Noles for 31 in the only regular season meeting, Wood dropped another 18 on them last night to propel the Pack to a 58-52 win in the Quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. State will face Georgia Tech this afternoon, winners over Maryland last night.

View the complete entry of "Good Wood: Pack Beats FSU Behind Wood's 18 Points"

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pack Wins Against Clemson; Squares Off Against FSU Tonight


When you think about it, State drew the perfect team to play in its opening round game: Clemson, a team plagued with such poor postseason performance in recent memory, the Tigers were almost guaranteed to come out tight. You got the sense that if the Pack could hang with the more athletic Tigers beyond the opening stanzas of the game, either leading or within a bucket, Clemson would start thinking, "Oh no...not again."

As it was, that's exactly how it played out. The Pack kept scrapping and fighting, relentlessly working the defensive boards, never letting the Tigers get back into the game. And with each passing moment, the Pack got looser and the Tigers got tighter. Tracy Smith's impressive offensive scoring in the post rattled Travis Booker.

Result: A tough, two-point win in the opening round of the ACC Tournament for the Pack and yet another crushing postseason loss for the Tigers who, for all their successes in November and December, have never found a formula that works in March.

Up next: A winnable game against the Seminoles, a team the Pack beat in Tallahassee in their one meeting this year.

It took a flukey shooting performance to get the win on the road during the regular season, but I think State will have an advantage playing in Greensboro. And the Seminoles will have to shut down Tracy...a task that--given the concerted effort State's coaches instilled in the team to feed him the ball as much as possible, and the demeanor Smith showed in the Clemson game--should be much easier said than done.

View the complete entry of "Pack Wins Against Clemson; Squares Off Against FSU Tonight"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Big Win For Pack Men; Close But No Cigar For The Women


ETHAN HYMAN - ehyman@newsobserver.com

Dennis Horner picked a fine time to get bloody and go off on a team.

After a nasty spill that required stitches above his right eye, Horner came back in the second half to lead State on a 19-5 charge that sealed State's third win in four games.

He finished with 14 points, most of them coming in a flurry at the end on old-fashioned three-point plays and huge long-range shots.

He had the second-highest +/- ratio at 13, second to CJ freaking Williams' 22. When you add in the 10 points scored against the Pack when CJ was off the court, his Roland Rating was an astounding 32. In fact, State didn't score a single point in the five minutes CJ was on the bench. His play down the stretch has been huge and frankly a bit unexpected. It's seems we've been waiting all year for the promise we saw in him last season to bloom into what we've seen the last two weeks.

Farnold Degand didn't have as memorable a senior game as Horner; in fact it was rather forgettable: In 15 minutes, he logged just one point, one assist, one rebound, one steal and a couple of fouls. Still, I'm sure it was sweet for the senior who transferred here from Iowa State to get a win in his final home game as a Wolfpack player.


As for the women, they started the ACC Championship game strong. They built a seven point lead against Duke at one point, but Duke cranked up their press and forced the Pack into what felt like a baker's dozen straight turnovers. Once the Blue Devils took the lead, they did so for good. The Pack would rally twice to cut it to single digits, but could never get even.

As we've seen from State teams that have made it to the ACC title game recently, usually having played four games in four days, there just wasn't enough left in the tank to make a big enough push against a fresher, not to mention bigger and more athletic, Duke team.

That's not to say they phoned it in. The Pack fought to the bitter end, a quality I think we'll see from here on out from the teams of first-year coach Kellie Harper. Lee, get that checkbook and fancy pen ready...we need to lock up Harper for the long haul.


All in all, not a bad Sunday. The Pack men will now face Clemson Thursday night at 9:00 in a rematch of State's almost-win-but-still-a-73-30-loss at the RBC Center earlier this year.

View the complete entry of "Big Win For Pack Men; Close But No Cigar For The Women"

ALERT: Lee Fowler About To Receive Praise From A State Fan


As much grief as Lee Fowler justly deserves, I have to give the man credit for this: He made one hell of a ballsy hire in Kellie Harper.

There were many that would've preferred Stephanie Glance be given the job following the passing of Kay Yow last year, per Kay's wishes. Lee, however, went against the grain and decided to give the keys to the program to a hot up-and-comer from Western Carolina.

And today, as State prepares to take on Duke in the Women's ACC Championship, that decision appears to be paying big dividends.

I think there's something to be said for "resetting" a program from time to time. State's women's basketball program needed a reset, and Kay's passing, while tragic and somber, provided the athletics program them that opportunity. Following through on that opportunity was a difficult choice to make, but Lee did it, and for that, he gets credit.

Now, for the other 98% of his decisions...nevermind. We'll keep it positive in this post. In hiring Harper, he earned it.

View the complete entry of "ALERT: Lee Fowler About To Receive Praise From A State Fan"

Friday, March 5, 2010

Unbalanced Conference Schedules And Why The Mythical "Regular Season Title" Is A Farce


Ever since the death of the round robin conference basketball schedule, it's become more difficult to objectively look at conference win/loss records to determine which teams are best in the league.

The win/loss column is no doubt a good place to start--no one would argue that State is a better team than Duke, for example, despite the Pack winning the lone head-to-head meeting. But since each team plays more teams only once (6) than it does twice (5), it can lead to some misleading perceptions when looking at the standings.

This post is an attempt to give a clearer picture of which teams have faced tougher competition within the conference this season. Since the validity of the win/loss records are in question, I'm looking at RPI numbers to determine the strength of each team. To come up with a strength rating for each team, I took the total number of Division 1 teams - Team X's RPI, then divided that number by the lowest team's rating to serve as the baseline.

For example, Virginia has the lowest RPI (currently) of 122. Subtracting that from the total number of Div. 1 teams gives us 347-122=225. The divisor for all the team ratings therefore becomes 225. Virgina's strength rating becomes 1 (225/225), and Duke's becomes 1.528 ((347-3)/225).

The next step is to add up all of the combined strength ratings of the teams on a particular schedule. But since away games are typically more difficult than home games, I borrowed the RPI's convention of multiplying home game values by .6 and away game values by 1.4.

So, a team's schedule strength rating becomes: ((Sum of team ratings for home games)*.6) + ((Sum of team ratings for away games)*1.4)

Make sense? Me either. In any event, here's the chart:

What we see:
  • Virginia Tech has played the weakest schedule this year of any team in the league. In addition to a crappy non-con schedule, they can't even lean on their in-conference body of work to impress the Tournament Selection Committee.
  • Carolina has played the toughest in-conference schedule due mostly to home-and-aways with Duke, Georgia Tech and Wake, and their lone matchup against 2nd-place Maryland was away.
  • Clemson's 9-6 conference mark looks disappointing on the surface, but they've played the 2nd-toughest conference schedule of any team: two games each against the 1st, 2nd and 4th teams in the standings.
  • Being the worst team in the league (in terms of RPI) doesn't guarantee you faced one of the tougher conference schedules. Virginia, despite having a conference schedule entirely full of teams with better RPIs, still wound up with a weak 7th-place schedule rating.
The bigger implication that comes with comparing schedule strength is that it makes it easier to debunk the notion of a "Regular Season Champion." That term gets thrown around so much these days, carelessly, by members of the media and coaches alike. Coaches love any excuse to hang a banner, and the media--for some reason--seems to have a beef with conference tournaments determining the league champion.

This, I don't understand, precisely BECAUSE of the imbalanced schedules. If the round robin format were still in place today, I could stomach the notion of a regular season champion more easily. But because some teams play far more difficult schedules than others, how can we legitimately crown any team "regular season champ?"

Case in point: Virginia, 2007. They finished tied with Carolina in the conference standings, despite playing a weaker conference schedule. Were they legit "regular season champions," along with the Tar Heels? I don't buy it. I'm sure they hung a banner in John Paul Jones, but as far as I'm concerned, it carries far less weight than what the Tar Heels accomplished that season.

So why debate? Let the conference determine its champion like it ALWAYS has--on the court, in a conference tournament. Finishing first in the regular season awards you one prize and one prize only: top seed in the tourney.

Just like Everett Case wanted.

View the complete entry of "Unbalanced Conference Schedules And Why The Mythical "Regular Season Title" Is A Farce"