Monday, January 24, 2022

If the NCAA Were 16 Regions

Here's the latest breakdown of the best teams in each region (Ken Pom ranking in parentheses).  The most striking development is that Rick Pitino's Iona Gaels (15-3) are now the top-ranked team in the Second Region:

1st:  Connecticut (18)
2d:  Iona (68)
3d:  Villanova (7)
4th:  Virginia Tech (37)
5th:  Duke (10)
6th: Auburn (5)
7th:  Louisiana St. (11)
8th:  Kentucky (8)
9th:   Xavier (21)
10th:  Purdue (6)
11th:  Illinois (15)
12th:  Kansas (9)
13th:  Baylor (3)
14th:  Arizona (2)
15th:  Gonzaga (1)
16th:  UCLA (12)

Here's the latest from the 8th Region, with the top two teams in each district:

29th District:  (8) Kentucky, (129) Morehead St.
30th District:  (48) Murray St., (109) Louisville
31st District:  (13) Tennessee, (73) Chattanooga
32d District:  (60) Memphis, (65) Belmont

Which would set up the following quarter-finals:

Murray St. v. Morehead St.
Tennessee v. Belmont
Memphis v. Chattanooga
Kentucky v. Louisville


  1. Louisville has apparently sacked Coach Chris Mack, and the U of L folks will be looking for a new coach. My own view that U of L will really struggle in the ACC. It's hard to recruit big-time talent when you can't consistently win your conference, and I don't think U of L can consistently win a conference that features UNC and Duke.

  2. On the other hand, Bruce Pearl is supposedly interested in the U of L job, and I think Pearl could win anywhere.

  3. Louisville is currently ranked number 114 on Ken Pom, the lowest ranking for U of L since the Cardinals went 12-19 in 2000-01, Denny Crum's final season. The next year Rick Pitino arrived.

  4. Pitino at UK:

    Winning percentage of .814
    1 national championship
    3 Final Fours

  5. Pitino at U of L

    Winning percentage of .744
    (123 of those wins were vacated by the NCAA)
    1 national championship (vacated)
    3 Final Fours (2 of which were vacated)

  6. I think Pitino's record at UK versus Pitino's record at U of L is a good comparison of how strong the two programs are.

    1. For the record, I ignore all vacancies by the NCAA. To me, U of L is the 2013 champion, Michigan went to the final in 1993, and Western went to the final four in 1971.

  7. According to Cal, Sahvir Wheeler will play tonight. Washington is out.

  8. I'm already bitter about this Kansas game on Saturday. The last time we went there was January 30, 2016. They won 90-84 in overtime. Here the main stat you need to know:

    UK: 13-22 from the line
    KU: 30-47 from the line

    They don't mess around out there. You have to beat those guys by 10 points or you may as well not show up.

  9. Georgia beats Alabama 82-76. The Dawgs move to 1-6 in the SEC, while Alabama falls to 4-4. The Tide went 9-34 from 3-point range, and if you want to know why UK shoots so few three-pointers, Alabama just showed you.

  10. Someone just tweeted out: "Big Ten basketball running long into a UK game on Tuesday nights; a tradition unlike any other." That's exactly right. I don't think any Big Ten game on ESPN has ever begun at 7 PM and ended at 9 PM.

  11. Michigan State and Illinois have been playing for over two hours, and neither team is going to reach 60 points in regulation. The Big Ten, everyone!

  12. Illinois goes to the line, up 56-54, with a chance to clinch the game. Of course they miss. I want MSU to shoot a three for the win, but that's never happening. They drive to the basket and are fouled with 0.2 seconds left. I hate the Big Ten.

  13. Michigan State misses the first free throw! Now we've got to call timeout and come up with all sorts of strategies for the last 0.2 seconds. Big Ten basketball!

  14. So after all the strategy, the Michigan State guy has to miss the free throw to set up a tip-in. Instead, he makes it and MSU loses 56-55. The Big Ten!

  15. Finally we go to Rupp Arena, where Jimmy Dykes is on the microphone, meaning that we are in for two hours of lunacy.

    1. I had never heard him say "screen/rescreen" until last night, and I heard him say it about 50 times last night as though it was as common a term as "jump ball."

  16. According to Ken Pom, Auburn was supposed to beat Missouri 78-64. They actually won 55-54. So they'll be falling in Ken Pom. Road games are hard.

  17. Kentucky's game was, in fact, crazy. The Cats, playing without Washington, jumped out to a big lead. But then, with about 12 minutes left in the first half, Wheeler picked up his second foul and spent most of the rest of the half on the bench.

  18. But the Cats kept playing well, especially on defense, and they led 37-24. With Wheeler coming back in the second half, you had to think UK's chances were pretty good.

  19. But MSU started playing better, and UK's lead was 53-44 with 10 minutes left. And then Toppin had to leave with a turned ankle, and Tshiebwe also had to sit down with ankle problems, and MSU went crazy. In the last 10 minutes of the game, MSU hit almost every shot they took.

  20. Down the stretch both teams went back and forth. Iverson Molinar finished with 30 points for MSU, and his two free throws with 22 seconds left tied the game at 72. UK never scores on the last shot, and that was true again here. Overtime.

    1. Iverson Molinar was inducted into UK Fans' Howard Carter Memorial SEC Basketball Hall of Fame last night.

  21. But in overtime, Kellen Grady came to the rescue. He scored off of a drive. Then he hit a three. Then he hit another three to put UK up 80-74 with 1:12 left. And when MSU turned the ball over on its next possession, the rest of the game was mostly Wheeler making free throws, Wheeler missing free throws, and Tshiebwe getting even more rebounds.

    1. For 30 seconds there, Kellen Grady was Stephan Curry.

  22. UK won 82-74 in overtime. Ken Pom thought UK would win 79-68, so UK won't fall much from its current position (which is 6th).

  23. Tshiebwe had 21 points and 22 rebounds in one of the best games any UK center has ever played. Grady went 4-11 on three's, but made those two huge shots in over time and finished with 18 points. Wheeler had 15 points and Brooks had 12.

  24. Dontaie Allen had 18 very helpful minutes.

  25. So UK wins a close one. But it would be nice to see TyTy Washington back on the floor, and it would be nice to see a game where no one for UK has to leave the floor with ankle problems.

  26. Tshiebwe is the first UK player to have 20 points and 20 rebounds in the same game since Mike Phillips did it against LSU in 1976.

  27. It's UK's first win in overtime since January 2, 2021, when the Cats beat Mississippi State 78-73 in double overtime in Starkvegas, thanks to seven three-pointers from Dontaie Allen.

    1. Starkville is the only SEC city I've never been to.

    2. I've been to Lexington, Knoxville, Nashville, Starkville, and Auburn. I was not impressed with Starkville, but that was back in the 1980's. Maybe it's gotten better.

  28. It's UK's first win in overtime at Rupp since December 28, 2019, when the Cardiac Cats beat U of L 78 to 70 behind 27 points from Tyrese Maxey, one of my favorite Cats ever.

  29. I, too, loved Tyrese Maxey, and I'm glad he's excelling with the 76ers, but I don't want to talk about the NBA anymore.

  30. In Knoxville, Tennessee is beating Florida 67-62 with four minutes left. If you had concerns about some of UK's offensive possessions last night, you should have watched Florida's last few tries to score -- each of which seemed to end with a hopeless three point shot or a pass that went out of bounds.

  31. With 1:33 left, Tennessee leads 70-66 but Florida has a chance at a corner three. The guy not only misses the shot, he misses everything -- the ball lands on top of the backboard and bounces out of bounds. I would have given anything to see MSU do something like that down the stretch against UK.

  32. It's still 70-66 Tennessee with 1 minute left. For most of the last five minutes, we've been in official time outs as the referees try to determine whether Tennessee or Florida knocked the ball out of bounds. Both Florida and Tennessee play basketball as if they were inspired by Woody Hayes. And maybe they were.

  33. Tennessee makes a bunch of free throws in the last minute, and wins 78-71. Vols go to 5-3 in the SEC, while Florida falls to 3-5.

  34. Arkansas goes to Oxford and beats Ole Miss 64-55. The Razorbacks have won five in a row, and they are now 5-3. The Rebels are 2-6.

  35. In Columbia, South Carolina completes a sweep of Vandy, as the Gamecocks beat the Dores 70-61. South Carolina is 3-4 in the SEC, while Vandy falls to 2-5.

  36. That just leaves LSU (3-4) hosting Texas A & M (4-2). If these two teams play like they did against UK, neither team may score 50 points.

  37. Here are the matchups for Saturday in the SEC-Big XII Challenge (home teams first):

    Kansas v. Kentucky
    Alabama v. Baylor
    Texas Tech v. Mississippi St.
    Texas v. Tennessee
    Texas Christian v. Louisiana St.
    Florida v. Oklahoma St.
    Arkansas v. W. Virginia
    Iowa St. v. Missouri
    Auburn v. Oklahoma
    Mississippi v. Kansas St.

  38. The SEC-Big 12 Challenge has been played every year since 2013-14. The Big 12 leads with a record of 4-2-2. But the Big 12 won the first three years, so in the last five the SEC has gone 2-1-2.

  39. Here's UK's record in the challenge (home teams listed first):

    12/06/13: Baylor 67 - 62 Kentucky (0-1)
    12/05/14: Kentucky 63 - 51 Texas (1-1)
    01/30/16: Kansas 90 - 84 Kentucky (OT) (1-2)
    01/28/17: Kentucky 73 - 79 Kansas (1-3)
    01/27/18: W. Virginia 76 - 83 Kentucky (2-3)
    01/26/19: Kentucky 71 - 63 Kansas (3-3)
    01/25/20: Texas Tech 74 - 76 Kentucky (OT) (4-3)

    Last year, UK was supposed to host Texas but the game was canceled due to COVID.

  40. De'Aaron Fox was trying to play through an injury in that 2017 game, and that killed UK. Fox had only 2 assists and 5 turnovers, and the Cats never really got going. Both Kansas and Kentucky ended up losing in the Elite Eight that year. The Jayhawks were hammered by Oregon, 74-60, in Kansas City. We were cheated in our game with UNC, ending a fourteen game winning streak. That was a great team.

  41. Best UK teams in my lifetime not to win the National Title:


  42. UK fans don't complain a whole lot about that 1997 final, because we won it all in 1996 and 1998. But that game was a joke. Check out these stats:

    20-42 from 2-point range
    10-30 from 3-point range
    9-17 from the line
    79 points

    16-45 from 2-point range
    6-13 from 3-point range
    34-41 from the line
    84 points

  43. That's right: they took 24 more free throws than we did, and we still took them to overtime.

  44. And that's not all: UK had four players (Ron Mercer, Scott Padgett, Wayne Turner, and Jared Prickett) who fouled out. Pricket only got to play 21 minutes. Jamaal Magloire got four fouls in only 14 minutes. The whole thing was ridiculous. And I've always thought that if Pitino had won that game, he would have come back the next year to go for three in a row.

  45. Cats have now played 20 games. They are 16-4 overall, 6-2 in the SEC, and number 7 on Ken Pom. Here's how they've done through 20 games in each season since 2015:

    2016: 16-4, 6-2 (22 on Ken Pom)
    2017: 17-3, 7-1 (2 on Ken Pom)
    2018: 15-5, 5-3 (36 on Ken Pom)
    2019: 17-3, 6-1 (10 on Ken Pom)
    2020: 16-4, 6-1 (25 on Ken Pom)
    2021: 7-13, 6-7 (62 on Ken Pom)
    2022: 16-4, 6-2 (7 on Ken Pom)

  46. Here's UK's "luck" score since 2015:

    2016: 288
    2017: 175
    2018: 199
    2019: 98
    2020: 138
    2021: 354
    2022: 301

  47. Here's Kansas's luck:

    2016: 75
    2017: 32
    2018: 23
    2019: 26
    2020: 79
    2021: 44
    2022: 123

    That's a lot of close wins for the Jayhawks, and a lot of close losses for UK. I'm not convinced it's all luck.

  48. On Twitter now, Louisville fans and Auburn fans are going back and forth about which is the better job. It's about as entertaining as you would expect.

    1. I would rather have Pearl at Auburn than at Louisville, which tells me that I dislike Louisville more than I dislike Auburn.

    2. Pearl just reached a new long-term deal with Auburn, so he isn't going to U of L.

  49. Calipari says that TyTy Washington didn't practice yesterday. If he can't play against Kansas, then that game effectively becomes little more than a scrimmage, because UK would have no chance.

  50. The reporters who are at Kansas say that TyTy looks good in the warmups, so he may be able to play. In the meantime, here are the SEC/Big XII results so far:

    Texas Christian 77 - 68 Louisiana St.
    Arkansas 77 - 68 W. Virginia
    Auburn 86 - 68 Oklahoma

    So home teams are 3 for 3 so far.

  51. Alabama beats Baylor 87-78 in Tuscaloosa, and the Tide complete a sweep of Gonzaga and Baylor.

  52. In Gainesville, the Gators beat Oklahoma State 81-72. In Lubbock, Texas Tech beats Mississippi State 76-50. In Oxford, Ole Miss beats Kansas 67-56. In Ames, Iowa State beat Missouri 67-50.

    So the

  53. So that meant that the SEC had won all five of its home games, while the Big 12 had won all three of its home games. The last two games were both in Big 12 territory: Kentucky was traveling to Kansas, and Tennessee was traveling to Texas.

  54. Kentucky went first and played one of the greatest games in its history. According to Ken Pom, Kansas was supposed to win 80-77. In reality, Kentucky won 80-62, and completely dominated the game from start to finish. The Cats are now up to number 3 on Ken Pom. Just an amazing performance. So the SEC leads the Challenge 6-3, and with only one game left the Challenge belongs to the SEC.

  55. UK's next game is at home on Wednesday against Vandy, and Rupp will be rocking and rolling for that one.

  56. Whatever else happens this year, UK has beaten UNC by 29 points on a neutral floor, and beaten Kansas by 18 in Kansas. I will not forget those results.

  57. Texas beats Tennessee 52-51. That's a shame. The SEC wins the challenge 6-4, as UK was the only team to win on the road.

  58. I was happy that Texas beat Tennessee, and I was thrilled to watch Kentucky just decimate Kansas. I would prefer the SEC went 1-9 in the SEC/Big 12 challenge.