Sunday, March 17, 2024

Selection Sunday

This is usually my favorite day of the sports year. 


  1. Florida, playing its fourth game in four days, just lost Micah Handlogten to a major injury in the SEC Final against Auburn.

  2. I would love to win the SEC Tournament again, but I don't think this year's team could have played three games in three days, against TAMU, Florida, and Auburn, without suffering a significant injury.

  3. Right now, ESPN projects Kentucky as a 4 seed in the same region with Houston. I would take that seed. CBS projects Kentucky as a 3 seed in the same region with UConn as the 1 and UNC as the 2. I do not want that seed.

  4. Down 61 to 60 with 6.1 seconds left, the Yale Bulldogs run one of the prettiest plays you will ever see. It ends with a guy shooting the ball from about 2 feet from the basket, and it goes in at the buzzer. Yale defeats Brown 62 to 61 to win the Ivy League Championship.

  5. I've been watching basketball continuously for days, and I haven't watched golf all year, so I'm going to spend this afternoon watching The Players Championship.

  6. For the record, I really miss all the LIV golfers, and I think the whole golf universe is in big trouble unless they patch this up. At this point, I'm really only interested in watching the majors, because those are the only events with complete fields.

  7. Gators go 0-7 from three-point range, trail Auburn 38-30 at the half.

  8. Auburn 52 - 44 Florida (14:06 left)

  9. Here's one more analysis of Kentucky. Right now, in all their games, the Cats have an offensive efficiency rating of 122.7 and a defensive efficiency rating of 102.7. If you subject the defensive rating from the offensive rating you get a combined rating of 20.0. Since 1997, here are the six UK teams that had the most similar rating and how they did in the Tournament:

    2000: 22.0 (lost in the Second Round)
    2007: 21.7 (lost in the Second Round)
    2018: 20.4 (lost in the Sweet 16)
    2024: 20.0
    2020: 17.6 (no tournament)
    2023: 17.4 (lost in the Second Round)
    2006: 17.1 (lost in the Second Round)

    So it will be very challenging for the Cats to reach the Sweet 16, no matter who they draw. The 2018 team made it to the Sweet 16, but they got lucky because they only had to play a 12 seed and a 13 seed to get there. And once they got there, they lost to a 9 seed.

  10. This is the point I've been making for the past several weeks. Kentucky could win any game, but they could also lose any game. When every game is a coin flip, you just aren't likely to win that many coin flips in a row.

    And the Cats haven't actually gotten that much better as the season went on. KenPom had them at 18 when the season started, and they're at 18 now. The highest they got all year was 12, which is where they were after beating Miami. They then lost to UNC Wilmington, fell to 22, and bounced around in the 20's and high teens for the rest of the year. This is who they are.

    1. I really have enjoyed this team, and I'm looking forward to watching them Thursday. And I'm so glad that Western doesn't play until Friday.

  11. Now teams can make runs. Last year, Miami entered the Tournament at Number 43. They went to the Final Four. Florida Atlantic entered at number 23, and they went to the Final Four. San Diego State entered at 15, and they went to the Final Game. So runs can happen. And let's hope it happens for us. But historically, when UK has a team this good, that team usually fails to make the Sweet 16. If Kentucky wants to go deeper into the tournament, the Cats need to get a better team.

  12. Meanwhile, Auburn is up 76 to 59 with 4 minutes left. This will be the fifth time in a row that the SEC Final is a blowout. The truth is that by Sunday, everyone is worn out and that hurts the underdog a lot.

  13. Auburn rolls, 86 to 67. I couldn't watch the golf -- too many golfers missing from the field.

    1. Golf is now Indy-car racing, except golf still has four Indianapolis 500s a year.

  14. Here's a complete list of teams in the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. One of these teams (UConn) will be the national champion:

    UConn: 1st in offense, 11th in defense
    Houston: 17th in offense, 2d in defense
    Auburn: 10th in offense, 4th in defense
    Arizona: 8th in offense, 12th in defense

    Kentucky is 5th in offense and 108th in defense.

  15. Since 1997, here's a list of UK team that finished in the top 20 in both offense and defense:

    1997: Lost in the National Final
    1999: Lost in the Elite Eight
    2003: Lost in the Elite Eight
    2011: Lost in the Final Four
    2015: Lost in the Final Four
    2017: Lost in the Elite Eight
    2019: Lost in the Elite Eight

  16. Alabama-Birmingham wins the American Tournament.
    Illinois wins the Big Ten.
    Duquesne wins the A-10.

    That's it. Let's have the draw.

  17. OK, here we go with the East:

    1. UConn
    2. Iowa St.
    3. Illinois
    4. Auburn
    5. San Diego St.
    6. B.Y.U.
    7. Washington St.
    8. Fla. Atlantic
    9. Northwestern
    10. Drake
    11. Duquesne
    12. Ala-Birmingham
    13. Yale
    14. Morehead St.
    15. S. Dakota St.
    16. Stetson

    Whew! I thought for sure UK was going to get the slot that went to Auburn. So the Cats will not be in the same region at UConn, which was my only real goal for this draw. Also, since Iowa State got the Number 2 seed, that means UNC will probably get a number 1 seed.

    Also, I'm very happy for Washington State, and I'm glad UK doesn't have to play Morehead State.

    1. Both UConn and Auburn got jobbed here. According to Ken Pom, Auburn is the fourth-best team in the whole country. So we could have number-1 and number-4 in the Sweet 16.

  18. OK, here's the South:

    1. Houston
    2. Marquette
    3. Kentucky
    4. Duke
    5. Wisconsin
    6. Texas Tech
    7. Florida
    8. Nebraska
    9. Texas A & M
    10. Boise St. or Colorado
    11. N. Carolina St.
    12. James Madison
    13. Vermont
    14. Oakland
    15. W. Kentucky
    16. Longwood

    Kentucky still got a number 3 seed -- despite the loss to TAMU. Oakland is ranked number 137 on Ken Pom. Texas Tech is ranked number 24.

    1. Western caught a break as well. Marquette is ranked number 12 on Ken Pom, which is very low for a number 2 seed.

    2. Cats will play Oakland in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

    3. NC2A has decided John Calipari is no longer worth the effort of wrecking.

  19. Here's the Midwest:

    1. Purdue
    2. Tennessee
    3. Creighton
    4. Kansas
    5. Gonzaga
    6. S. Carolina
    7. Texas
    8. Utah St.
    9. Texas Christian
    10. Virginia or Colorado St.
    11. Oregon
    12. McNeese St.
    13. Samford
    14. Akron
    15. Saint Peter's
    16. Montana St. or Grambling

    I'm really glad Western and Morehead both missed the play-in games. It would have been fun to have Colorado play Colorado State in the play-in. Tennessee has a great chance to reach the Final Four. Oregon will beat South Carolina. Purdue will struggle to get past Kansas or Gonzaga.

    1. I just found out that Oakland is known as the "Golden Grizzlies."

  20. And here's the West:

    1. N. Carolina
    2. Arizona
    3. Baylor
    4. Alabama
    5. Saint Mary's
    6. Clemson
    7. Dayton
    8. Mississippi St.
    9. Michigan St.
    10. Nevada
    11. New Mexico
    12. Grand Canyon
    13. Charleston
    14. Colgate
    15. Long Beach St.
    16. Howard or Wagner

    This should be pretty easy for UNC, unless Arizona is better than I think they are.

  21. Here are the 14 seeds ranked by KenPom:

    111. Morehead St. (26-8)
    116. Akron (24-10)
    137. Oakland (23-11)
    145. Colgate (25-9)

    So that seems pretty fair.

  22. Here are the 6 seeds ranked by KenPom:

    16. B.Y.U. (23-10)
    24. Texas Tech (23-10)
    34. Clemson (21-11)
    49. S. Carolina (26-7)

    So it could have been better, but let's be honest, we certainly wouldn't want to play South Carolina again.

  23. Pitino got robbed. St. John's was number 25 on Ken Pom, and they were beaten by only five points in the Big East semi-finals by the best team in the whole country.

  24. Here's the best way to think about it. Playing Oakland will be very much like playing Arkansas. And if UK plays Texas Tech, remember that the Red Raiders are slightly better than Florida or Mississippi State. Now, could the Cats sweep Arkansas and Florida on a neutral floor? Yes, but they could also lose to either of them.

  25. KenPom picks UK to beat Oakland 90 to 78. He picks Marquette to beat Western 89 to 74. He picks Illinois to beat Morehead 85 to 73.

  26. Here's Dick Vitale's Final Four:

    East: UConn
    South: Kentucky
    Midwest: Tennessee
    West: Baylor

    UConn over Baylor
    Kentucky over Tennessee
    Kentucky over UConn

    1. Honestly, if Vitale's predictions come true, the next few weeks will be the greatest I've ever had as a fan. And it wouldn't really be that close.

  27. If the UT-Martin women beat Holy Cross in a play-in game, they will get to face Iowa and Caitlin Clark in the First Round of the women's tournament.

  28. TV Times:

    Thursday, March 21: Morehead St. plays Illinois at 2:10 P.M. Central on truTV
    Thursday, March 21: Kentucky will play Oakland at 6:10 P.M. Central on CBS

  29. Friday, March 22: W. Kentucky will play Marquette at 1 P.M. Central on TBS.

  30. I want to say, for the record, that I have no complaints about the bracket this year.

  31. And thanks for looking up the TV listings--superhelpful.

  32. KenPom is out with his probabilities. For UK:

    86.7 percent chance of reaching the Second Round
    51.0 percent chance of reaching the Sweet 16
    24.9 percent chance of reaching the Elite Eight
    8.3 percent chance of reaching the Final Four
    3.2 percent chance of playing for the National Championship
    1.1 percent chance of winning the National Championship

  33. Morehead State has a 13.1 percent chance of pulling an upset in the First Round
    W. Kentucky has a 9.0 percent chance of pulling an upset in the First Round

  34. Final AP Poll has the Cats entering the NCAA Tournament at number 12.

  35. The Final AP Poll gives us our classic winners of the major conferences. Whoever finishes the highest in the Final AP Poll is the winner of that particular classic conference. Here are the winners:

    SEC: Tennessee (finished Number 6)
    ACC: N. Carolina (5)
    Big 10: Purdue (3)
    Big 8: Iowa St. (4)
    Southwest: Houston (2)
    Pac 10: Arizona (9)
    Big East: Connecticut (1)

    1. Kentucky finished third in the Classic SEC, behind Tennessee (6) and Auburn (7).

    2. The Classic SEC got six bids to the tournament.
      The Classic Big East got one.
      The Classic OVC got two.

  36. Down 71 to 68, Howard has three chances at three-point shots with less than 10 seconds to go. They miss all three, and lose to Wagner, who becomes the 61st team in the field. I don't think I've seen teams miss three three-pointers in the last minute against UK in the last five years.

  37. UVA UVA's itself to only 14 points in the first half of the play-in game with Colorado State. The score is 27-14 at the half. In all seriousness, the UVA fans love their coach.

  38. KenPom has UVA at number 67 -- 18 spots below the next highest team to get an at-large berth. But the NCAA ignored him. Now Colorado State leads UVA 39-21 with only 14 minutes left in the game.

  39. Colorado State rolls 67 to 42 and becomes the 62d team in the dance. Who knows why the Committee thought it was important to get UVA into this game? They will certainly never tell us.

    1. Final stats for UVA:

      11-39 from two-point range (28.2 percent)
      3-17 from three-point range (17.6 percent)
      11-17 from the line (64.7 percent)
      42 points, 24 rebounds, and 4 turnovers.

      I literally can't remember a team played this badly against Kentucky.

      And this happens to UVA fairly often. Here were some of their other games this year:

      Wisconsin 65, UVA 41
      Memphis 77, UVA 54
      Notre Dame 76, UVA 54
      Virginia Tech 75, UVA 41

    2. The committee meetings should be open.

  40. Someone pointed out, by the way, that no team west of Waco, Texas has won the National Championship since 1997.