A Call to “Defend” My Alma Mater’s Basketball Program

This will be the first of my probably several March Madness rants but now that Wake Forest has become the first time in the country eliminated from the Big Dance where the players didn’t literally choke each other out during the game (see New Orleans) I feel like my alma mater needs to honestly evaluate their basketball team. Yes, Wake had a very good season this year that exceeded my expectations as well as most other fans and they continue to play great OFFENSIVE basketball, and you no what else is offensive- the defense they played. Kansas State shot 66% from the floor tonight and scored 95 points.The entire season K-State scored 90 points or more one other time. In fact, the mighty Leathernecks of Western Illinois held them to 82 points. So basically if we played defense as well as the 8th place team in the 9 team Summit League then we would be going to the Round of 64. That’s inexcusable.

You can say the Wildcats got lucky bounces, good calls, etc, but when every team you play has their best offensive game of the season against you it is time to look in the mirror to see what’s going wrong. And most frustratingly, Wake never did that this entire season. They played the same ultra basic man-to-man defense that you teach your 4-6 year olds when they’re first learning to dribble a basketball in every single game. Sure some teams can play great man-to-man defense and never have to change up their looks but when you’re defense is atrocious at least try something. A 2-3 zone, a 1-3-1, a matchup zone, some kind of gimmick, just something to give the opposing a team a different look. Something besides defense fit for an NBA All-Star game. Every team got open shots, open lanes, and open layups the entire season and we never tried to anything about it. Heck– Wake scored over 90 points in Cameron Indoor and still found a way to lose.

They defend as about as well as Obama defended our borders and as well as Trump has defended his wiretapping accusations. I thought Jeff Bzdelik was the worst defensive coach in the history of basketball but Manning might actually be worse. And keep in mind that we’re not always going to have a NBA First Round Draft pick and 5 excellent shooters scoring the basketball. Ok- I’m done with my rant but seriously, this team had the potential for so much more and until Manning figures out that he’s not coaching an NBA All Star game I don’t think we’re going to be winning any NCAA Tournament games.

Brad-ketology: Final 2017 NIT Bracket

If you would like to see this in bracket form, let me know and I’ll send you an excel copy of the bracket. The regional final four pairings are Region 1 vs. Region 2 and Region 3 vs. Region 4.

Region 1

(1) Illinois vs. (8) UC Irvine

(4) Utah vs. (5) BYU

(3) UT-Arlington vs. (6) Colorado

(2) Houston vs. (7) Texas A & M

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Region 2

(1) Illinois State vs. (8) Oakland

(4) Iowa vs. (5) UCF

(3) Clemson vs. (6) Charleston

(2) Georgia vs. (7) Colorado State

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Region 3

(1) Syracuse vs. (8) UNC Greensboro

(4) Ohio State vs. (5) Akron

(3) Alabama vs. (6) Georgia Tech

(2) Indiana vs. (7) Boise State

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Region 4

(1) TCU vs. (8) South Dakota

(4) Ole Miss vs. (5) Belmont

(3) Monmouth vs. (6) Tennessee

(2) California vs. (7) Cal State Bakersfield

Brad-ketology: Final 2017 NCAA Bracket

If you would like to see this in bracket form, let me know and I’ll send you an excel copy of the bracket. My regional final four pairings are East vs. West and Midwest vs. South.

East Regional- New York, NY (March 24, 26)

(1) Villanova vs. (16) Mount St. Mary’s/North Carolina Central-Thursday March 16 (Buffalo, NY)

(8) Miami-FL vs. (9) Vanderbilt-Thursday March 16 (Buffalo, NY)

(5) SMU vs. (12) Middle Tennessee-Thursday March 16 (Buffalo, NY)

(4) West Virginia vs. (13) Vermont– Thursday March 16 (Buffalo, NY)

(6) Minnesota vs. (11) Wake Forest– Friday March 17 (Sacramento, CA)

(3) Oregon vs. (14) Northern Kentucky-Friday March 17 (Sacramento, CA)

(7) Arkansas vs. (10) Michigan State-Friday March 17 (Indianapolis, IN)

(2) Louisville vs. (15) Kent State-Friday March 17 (Indianapolis, IN)

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West Regional- San Jose, CA (March 23, 25)

(1) Gonzaga vs. (16) South Dakota State-Thursday March 16 (Salt Lake City, UT)

(8) Dayton vs. (9) Wichita State-Thursday March 16 (Salt Lake City, UT)

(5) Iowa State vs. (12) Nevada-Thursday March 16 (Milwaukee, WI)

(4) Notre Dame vs. (13) New Mexico State– Thursday March 16 (Milwaukee, WI)

(6) Michigan vs. (11) Providence/Kansas State– Thursday March 16 (Orlando, FL)

(3) Florida State vs. (14) Florida Gulf Coast-Thursday March 16 (Orlando, FL)

(7) St. Mary’s vs. (10) Northwestern– Thursday March 16 (Salt Lake City, UT)

(2) Arizona vs. (15) North Dakota-Thursday March 16 (Salt Lake City, UT)

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Midwest Regional- Kansas City, MO (March 23, 25)

(1) Kansas vs. (16) Troy/UC Davis-Friday March 17 (Tulsa, OK)

(8) Xavier vs. (9) Virginia Tech-Friday March 17 (Tulsa, OK)

(5) Virginia vs. (12) UNC Wilmington-Thursday March 16 (Orlando, FL)

(4) Florida vs. (13) East Tennessee State– Thursday March 16 (Orlando, FL)

(6) Creighton vs. (11) Rhode Island– Friday March 17 (Sacramento, CA)

(3) UCLA vs. (14) Iona-Friday March 17 (Sacramento, CA)

(7) Maryland vs. (10) Marquette– Friday March 17 (Greenville, SC)

(2) Duke vs. (15) Jacksonville State-Friday March 17 (Greenville, SC)

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South Regional- Kansas City, MO (March 24, 26)

(1) North Carolina vs. (16) New Orleans-Friday March 17 (Greenville, SC)

(8) VCU vs. (9) Oklahoma State-Friday March 17 (Greenville, SC)

(5) Purdue vs. (12) Princeton-Thursday March 16 (Milwaukee, WI)

(4) Butler vs. (13) Bucknell– Thursday March 16 (Orlando, FL)

(6) Cincinnati vs. (11) Seton Hall/Southern Cal– Friday March 17 (Tulsa, OK)

(3) Baylor vs. (14) Winthrop-Friday March 17 (Tulsa, OK)

(7) Wisconsin vs. (10) South Carolina– Friday March 17 (Indianapolis, IN)

(2) Kentucky vs. (15) Texas Southern– Friday March 17 (Indianapolis, IN)

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Brad-ketology: 2017 Final Seed List

I will send out final brackets in a few minutes, but here is the final seed list for both my NCAA and NIT Bracket Projections.  The teams below are displayed below on an S-curve, so they are ranked from left to right within each seeding line.  The italicized teams are ones predicted to win their conference tourney and gain an automatic bid to the dance.  Teams in bold have already earend automatic bids to this year’s NCAA or NIT tournament by virtue of either winning their respective conference tournaments (NCAA auto bids) or conference regular season (NIT auto bids).  Feel free to comment or debate.

NCAA Tourney Field:

1-seeds: Villanova, Kansas, North Carolina, Gonzaga

2-seeds: Kentucky, Duke, Arizona, Louisville

3-seeds: Oregon, Baylor, UCLA, Florida State

4-seeds: Florida, West Virginia, Butler, Notre Dame

5-seeds: Virginia, Iowa State, Purdue, SMU

6-seeds: Cincinnati, Minnesota,  Creighton, Michigan

7-seeds: WisconsinSt. Mary’s, Maryland, Arkansas

8-seeds: Dayton, Miami-FL, Xavier, VCU

9-seeds: Wichita State, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech

10-seeds: South Carolina, Northwestern, Marquette, Michigan State

11-seeds: Wake Forest, Rhode Island, Seton Hall, Providence, Kansas State, Southern California

12-seeds: Middle Tennessee, Nevada, UNC Wilmington, Princeton

13-seeds: Vermont, Bucknell, East Tennessee State, New Mexico State

14-seeds: Winthrop, Florida Gulf Coast, Iona, Northern Kentucky

15-seeds: Texas Southern, Kent State, Jacksonville State, North Dakota

16-seeds: New Orleans, South Dakota State, Mount St. Mary’s, Troy, UC Davis, North Carolina Central

NIT Tourney Field:

1-seeds:  Illinois, Syracuse, TCU, Illinois State

2-seeds: California, Georgia, Houston, Indiana

3-seeds: Clemson, Alabama, UT-Arlington, Monmouth

4-seeds: Iowa, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Utah

5-seeds: Brigham Young, Belmont, Akron, UCF

6-seeds: Charleston, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Colorado

7-seeds: Texas A & M, Colorado State, Boise State, Cal State Bakersfield

8-seeds: Oakland, UNC Greensboro, South Dakota, UC Irvine

Ranking of Other Postseason Contenders:  Richmond, San Diego State, Fresno State, Davidson

Brad-ketology: March 8th Edition

The teams below are displayed below on an S-curve, so they are ranked from left to right within each seeding line.  The italicized teams are ones predicted to win their conference tourney and gain an automatic bid to the dance, and the bolded teams are squads who have already clinched automatic bids to either the NCAA or NIT.  For the conferences who currently have NCAA tourney teams, it is assumed that one of those teams will win their conference tourney.  If not, then a stolen bid would result, and the number of at-large bids would drop.

Also, just to clarify, my bracket projection is intended to project the NCAA Tournament field if it was chosen today.  Unlike some bracketologists, I am not trying to predict how each team will finish the season and then seed the teams based on that.  There is one slight exception to this rule, however, and that is that I have always chosen to award the projected automatic bid for each conference to my projected best team in that conference, and not the team who is currently leading the conference standings.   Given how unbalanced conference schedules are, it just seems like common sense to project that the best team in a conference will win the league championship, not the squad currently in first place.

Brad-ketology columns will be published at least twice a week (typically on Mondays and Fridays).  This bracket projection has been updated on site from Las Vegas and includes all games played through Tuesday March 7th.

NCAA Tourney Field:

1-seeds: Kansas, Villanova, North CarolinaOregon, 

2-seeds: Gonzaga, Baylor, Louisville, Arizona

3-seeds: UCLA, Kentucky, Florida State, Butler

4-seeds: Duke, West Virginia, Florida, Virginia

5-seeds: Notre Dame, SMU, Purdue, Cincinnati

6-seeds: Minnesota, Maryland, Creighton, Iowa State

7-seeds: St. Mary’s, Dayton, Oklahoma State, Arkansas

8-seeds: South Carolina, VCU, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin

9-seeds: Miami-FL, Xavier, Wake Forest, Seton Hall

10-seeds: Vanderbilt, Michigan, Northwestern, Southern California

11-seeds: Wichita State, Michigan State, Marquette, Providence, Rhode Island, Kansas State

12-seeds: Middle Tennessee, Nevada, UNC Wilmington, UT-Arlington

13-seeds: Vermont, Princeton, Akron, Bucknell

14-seeds: Winthrop, Florida Gulf Coast, Cal State Bakersfield, East Tennessee State

15-seeds: Iona, Northern Kentucky, Texas Southern UC Irvine

16-seeds: Jacksonville State, Mount St. Mary’s, North Dakota, South Dakota State, New Orleans, North Carolina Central

NIT Tourney Field:

1-seeds:  Illinois, Syracuse, Middle Tennessee, California

2-seeds: Iowa, Clemson, Ohio State, Illinois State

3-seeds: Georgia, Nevada, TCU, Houston

4-seeds: UT-Arlington, Ole Miss, Indiana, Vermont

5-seeds: Georgia Tech, Monmouth, Brigham Young, Boise State

6-seeds: Utah, Tennessee, Alabama, Texas A & M

7-seeds: Charleston, UCF, Princeton, Akron

8-seeds: Belmont, UNC Greensboro, South Dakota, Oakland

Ranking of Other Postseason Contenders: Bucknell, Richmond, Colorado State, New Mexico, Texas Tech, St. Bonaventure, Auburn, Fresno State

Brad-ketology: March 3rd Edition

The Month of Madness has finally arrived!

The teams below are displayed below on an S-curve, so they are ranked from left to right within each seeding line.  The italicized teams are ones predicted to win their conference tourney and gain an automatic bid to the dance, and the bolded teams are squads who have already clinched automatic bids to either the NCAA or NIT.  For the conferences who currently have NCAA tourney teams, it is assumed that one of those teams will win their conference tourney.  If not, then a stolen bid would result, and the number of at-large bids would drop.

Also, just to clarify, my bracket projection is intended to project the NCAA Tournament field if it was chosen today.  Unlike some bracketologists, I am not trying to predict how each team will finish the season and then seed the teams based on that.  There is one slight exception to this rule, however, and that is that I have always chosen to award the projected automatic bid for each conference to my projected best team in that conference, and not the team who is currently leading the conference standings.   Given how unbalanced conference schedules are, it just seems like common sense to project that the best team in a conference will win the league championship, not the squad currently in first place.

Brad-ketology columns will be published at least twice a week (typically on Mondays and Fridays).  This bracket projection has been updated through all games played on Sunday February 26th.

NCAA Tourney Field:

1-seeds: Kansas, Villanova,  Oregon, North Carolina

2-seeds: Baylor, Butler, Gonzaga, Louisville

3-seeds: Arizona, UCLA, Kentucky, Duke

4-seeds: Florida State, Florida, West Virginia, Virginia

5-seeds: Notre Dame, SMU, Minnesota, Purdue

6-seeds: Cincinnati, St. Mary’s, Creighton, Maryland

7-seeds: Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Dayton, Virginia Tech

8-seeds: Wisconsin, Miami-FL, South Carolina, VCU

9-seeds: Arkansas, Xavier, Southern California, Michigan State

10-seeds: Northwestern, Michigan, Seton Hall, Middle Tennessee

11-seeds: Providence, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Marquette, Wake Forest, Rhode Island

12-seeds: Illinois State, UT-Arlington, Nevada, UNC Wilmington

13-seeds: Monmouth, Vermont, Princeton, Belmont

14-seeds: Akron, Bucknell, Winthrop, Cal State Bakersfield

15-seeds: Florida Gulf Coast, Oakland, UNC Greensboro, South Dakota

16-seeds: Texas Southern,  UC Irvine, North Dakota, Mount St. Mary’s, New Orleans, , North Carolina Central

NIT Tourney Field:

1-seeds:  Kansas State, Illinois State, Wichita State, Syracuse

2-seeds: California, TCU, Clemson, Pittsburgh

3-seeds: Ohio State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, UT-Arlington,

4-seeds: Nevada, UNC Wilmington, Houston, Monmouth

5-seeds: Vermont, Charleston, Ole Miss, Brigham Young

6-seeds: Boise State, Alabama, Utah, Indiana

7-seeds: Iowa, Tennessee, Texas A & M, UCF

8-seeds: Princeton, Richmond, Belmont, Auburn

Ranking of Other Postseason Contenders: Colorado State, Texas Tech, New Mexico, St. Bonaventure

Potential March Madness Cinderella Stories- February 27th Update

Each season, I chronicle the potential March Madness Cinderella Stories by writing two articles that detail teams across that could become a feel-good story come March.   The first article is written around the midpoint of the season (late January/early February) and the second is published  just as the conference tournaments begin.  Here is the second of those two annual editions.

While almost all mid-major NCAA teams have the chance to play Cinderella come Christmas Day (aka the first round of the NCAA tourney), it is particularly special when these teams have an inspiring sentimental storyline.  Often times this involves a squad making its first trip to the Big Dance (see Northern Colorado in 2011).  Other times there is a likable coach who warms the hearts of the nation (see Pete Carril in 1994, Andy Enfeld in 2012).  Inevitably, when the second week of March comes around, these stories will come to fruition.  In the meantime, it’s worth looking at the standings and checking out which mid-major conference leaders/contenders and other probably NCAA Tournament teams could inspire us during the first few weeks of March.  Only teams currently in first or second place of their respective conferences or squads currently in the hunt for an at-large bid will be included in this column.  They are listed in alphabetical order by conference.

Rhode Island (Atlantic 10)- The Rams haven’t been to the NCAA tournament since Lamar Odom took them there in 1999.  Currently, they are in the mix for an at-large bid.  In fact, my lastest bracket projection has them as the last team in the field.

 Lipscomb (Atlantic Sun)- This small Church of Christ school in Nashville has never danced in its brief 17 year Division 1 history but they enter the Atlantic Sun tournament as a dangerous # 2 seed.

TCU (Big 12)- The Horned Frogs haven’t danced since 1998, but Jamie Dixon has them squarely on the bubble in his first season.

North Dakota (Big Sky)– The newly named Fighting Hawks are a Big Dance virgin who are sitting alone atop the Big Sky standings with just two games to go.

Northwestern (Big Ten)– The only major conference team never to make it to the Big Dance is in  position to finally breakthrough this season.  However, their late season slump is making their at-large bid a lot less secure than it looked just a few weeks ago.

UC Davis (Big West)– The Aggies are trying to make their first ever trip to the Big Dance and are currently tied for the league lead with just two games remaining.

Charleston (Colonial)– Would you believe that despite all the success Cremins and others have had here recently the Cougars haven’t danced since the 1990’s?  They are a clear second behind UNCW entering the postseason, but they do get to host the conference tournament, which I will be attending next weekend.

Louisiana Tech (Conference USA)– This football powerhouse hasn’t danced since 1991 but they will be the top challengers of MTSU in the upcoming C-USA tournament.

Illinois State (MVC)– Despite being one of Wichita’s top MVC challengers in recent years, the Redbirds haven’t gone dancing since 1998.  This year they shared the conference regular season championship with the Shockers and enter Arch Madness as the # 1 seed.

UT-Martin (OVC)– The affectionately named Skyhawks have never danced before but are this season’s Ohio Valley West Division champs and appear to be Belmont’s top challenger in the upcoming conference tournament.

South Carolina (SEC)– Not only has it been 12 years since the Gamecocks got to the NCAA tournament but they haven’t won a game there since 1973.  That is the longest such drought in major college hoops besides of course the forementioned Northwestern Wildcats.  This drought is especially shocking when you consider the Gamecocks held # 2 and 3 seeds respectively in the 1997 and 98 NCAA tournaments.  This year it appears they will have a chance to end that drought as my current bracket projection as the Gamecocks safely in the field as a # 9 seed.

Furman (Southern)– The Paladins haven’t danced since 1980 but did you know this squad made the Sweet 16 in 1974?  This year they are a half game between East Tennessee State in the conference standings and clinch a share of the conference regular season championship if UNCG knocks off ETSU on Monday night.

New Orleans (Southland)– Now that Stephen F. Austin’s reign of terror in the Southland appears to be over with the departure of Brad Underwood, the Privateers are alone in first place and in prime position to earn the Big Easy’s first tourney bid since 1996.

South Dakota (Summit)– The Coyotes have miraculously surpassed perennial powerhouse North Dakota State atop the Summit League standings with just a game to go in regular season play.  They haven’t come close to sniffing the Big Dance in their seven years of playing Division 1 basketball but this year appears to be different.

Georgia Southern (Sun Belt)– The last Big Dance the Eagles participated in was the one where Laettner stomped on Aminu Timberlake and then hit one of the most famous buzzer beaters of all-time (1992).  Now, the Eagles sit tied for second in the Sun Belt with just two winnable games left to go in regular season play.