Monday, March 12, 2012

ISU Faces Brutal Draw

Well, crap.  ISU found themselves in that dreaded 8/9 matchup.  Thats tough.  Facing the defending National Champions?  Ouch.  Lets look at how Fred Hoiberg's first trip to the tournament is shaping up.

Danny Sheridan Line-- UCONN by 2
Kenpom-- ISU by 1
Tourney Challenge-- 69.5 pct have picked UCONN

How we got here...

Its been mentioned numerous times that Connecticut is the defending national champ.  A championship caliber team typically doesn't end up in the 8/9 matchup and this is no exception.  To be honest, Iowa State has the better resume.  UConn at times was on tournament life support and won games at the right time just to get into the field.  Connecticut is a team many picked to repeat as champs because of two NBA lottery picks in Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond.  However, chemistry and playing team basketball has not always been their forte.  Many have criticized this team of playing AAU basketball and the results have shown.

Iowa State struggled to find chemistry early in the year and needed a pep talk from former Cyclone Dedric Willoboughy to get things turned around.  The 3rd place team in the Big 12 typically doesn't end up in the 8/9 matchup by I guess thats where Iowa State lands.  Using the "eye-test" would show Iowa State is playing better than their seed indicates.  Iowa State has really only struggled in 3 conference games.  In those games they struggled to find their shot, yet in two of them still had a chance to win the game.  This matchup, to me, resembles more of the 4/5 second (third) round matchup.

Why Connecticut will win...

  • Connecticut has size down low.  If they are able to control the boards and get offensive rebounds ISU may be in trouble.  Iowa State's defense has never been accused of being stingy and allowing Connecticut to get 2nd chance points will dramatically decrease their chances.  
  • Chris Babb will keep one of the guards in check.  That will most likely be Jeremy Lamb.  Connecticut will win if the "other" guard goes off, most likely Shabazz Napier.  Scott Christopherson and Chris Allen are by no means lock-down defenders.  If Bubu Palo contributes significant minutes it is because their guards are going off.  Palo doesn't contribute much offensively.  Advantage UCONN.
  • Its better to be lucky than good.  At least that is what I have heard.  UCONN has been known for not defending the 3 this year.  ISU will get those shots.  If they aren't going in it could be a long day for the Cyclones.
Why the Cyclones will win...

  • They score 70 or more points.  Iowa State has only lost one game this year when scoring more than 70.  UCONN may shoot a higher percentage but not enough to compensate for Iowa State's 3 point attempts.
  • Connecticut's 3 point defense has been poor this season.  That makes ISU salivate.  If they right people are getting the right looks the Cyclones will win.  Attention Royce:  You are not a 3 point shooter.
  • Royce White will stay out of foul trouble.  Iowa State doesn't need him to score.  They need him to rebound and distribute.  In road and neutral games Royce is averaging over 12 rebounds a game.  
  • Chris Babb will disrupt Jeremy Lamb.  It has been amazing to watch his defense all year.  If Lamb can't get his share who will pick up the slack?  
Looking Ahead...

The winner is lucky enough to get Kentucky (most likely) in the "3rd round".  Goody!  Interesting enough Kentucky's only really vulnerable to teams that can shoot it and have a decent big guy.  See: Iowa State.  Do I think Iowa State can take them?  I've seen crazier things, but they have to get there first.  This regional sets up very nicely for the winner of this four-team tourney.  I am not too scared of Witchita State and Indiana.  That could set up a regional final with Duke?  I honestly think the winner of this four-team pod, no matter who, goes on to the Final Four.

The Pick...

Iowa State could get absolutely slaughtered Thursday night.  Everyone is picking UCONN.  However, the motto for all things ISU this year has been "expect the unexpected".  Whether its beating the #2 team in football or beating Kansas at home in basketball this university has experienced some of the greatest games in their history.  Why not add another one or two to that list?

Iowa State 73 Connecticut 68

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Selection Sunday is Here!

It has been seven LONG years since Selection Sunday has meant something to Cyclone fans.  The last time ISU was in POSTSEASON play was in 2005 when I was a senior in high school.  They got put in the dreaded 8/9 matchup and escaped the first round only to get drubbed by eventual national champion-North Carolina.  As Yogi Bera would say "Deja Vu all over again?" Let's hope not.

Iowa State is once again staring that 8/9 matchup square in the face.  This is not a good year to possibly face the likes of Kentucky/Syracuse or UNC in the 3rd round.  Unfortunately, the two most vulnerable one and two seeds are from the Big XII so it limits ISU's potential for a "good" matchup in Round 3.  Yes, I realize there is a very real possibility that ISU doesn't even win the 2nd round matchup.  As Scotty C says "We aren't in this for a participation award."  Are all of the bracketologists correct?  Let's look at the facts.

Iowa State:
Record: 22-10
RPI: 33
Top 50: 5-7
SOS: 42

Lets look at some of the team's in position for the #7 seed.

New Mexico:
Record: 26-6
RPI: 30
Top 50: 6-3
SOS: 103

Saint Mary's
Record: 25-5
RPI: 29
Top 50: 4-3
SOS: 113

San Diego State
Record: 24-7
RPI: 28
Top 50: 6-6
SOS: 67

Record: 25-6
RPI: 25
Top 50: 6-4
SOS: 81

IF the committee truly uses the "eye test" ISU should get a bump over one of these teams.  I just don't see them getting seeded below all of them.  Maybe these teams are competing for an 8 seed?  Honestly right now, with the exception of the Texas game, ISU is playing 5 or 6 seed basketball.  Hopefully the committee takes note and gets them in the 7/10 matchup.

My prediction:  Iowa State will be the 7 seed in the East Region and play against Purdue.  This is a hopeful prediction.  Hopefully Lunardi is wrong.  6.5 more hours!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

NCAA Tourney Seeding Process May Yield Several Mistakes

According to the BPI found on ESPN Insider here is what the S-Curve should look like by their standards.

SeedFirst rowSecondThirdFourth
2Michigan StateKansasDukeMISSOURI*
3Wichita StateMEMPHISBaylorWisconsin
8TempleCaliforniaFlorida StateIowa State
9ConnecticutMURRAY STATEBELMONTCincinnati
10San Diego StateARIZONA*SAINT MARY'SMiami (FL)
12Southern MissNorth Carolina StateBrigham YoungLa Salle
13VCUNorthwestern/XavierSeton Hall/IonaNEW MEXICO STATE*

You can see that there is some discrepancy between some of our "expert" bracketologists and these rankings.  These rankings take the entire season into account.  Unfortunately it looks like the BPI is consistent with other predictions for the Cyclones.  I am really hoping they can get off that 8/9 line.  ESPN also looked at the most overseeded and underseeded teams.

Overseeded teamProjected seedBPI seedUnderseeded teamProjected seedBPI seed
Florida State48Saint Louis84
Saint Mary's710Texas127
San Diego State710Belmont149
You will see once again that the computers are loving Texas.  I'm not sure about a "7" seed for them when Iowa State appears to have a much better resume and is projected for an 8.  I guess Texas did go 2-1 against ISU.  I can see Michigan being seeded well above their ability.  I could even see them bowing out early.  Florida State kind of puzzles me.  Maybe the computers can see through Duke and UNC and know that those wins weren't as good as they seemed.

Just a little food for thought when the brackets are revealed tomorrow afternoon.