The Glove sent to the Bucks

The Sonics made the best of the situation. They weren't going to resign Payton, and instead of getting nothing, they got Ray Allen and a conditional first rounder. So score one for the Sonics front office. And the Bucks got a point guard to tick off Sam Cassell. I'm not sure how this really helps the Bucks. Payton's a great player, but they are one of the few teams that have a pretty good situation at the point. Maybe they'll get the playoffs out of this deal, but that seems like a steep price to pay for a quick first round exit.

The Sonics turned around and then traded their backup point guard, Kenny Anderson, for a center. Let's face it, this is a move for next season. Who needs a point guard for this year if you're not going to the playoffs?

posted by Poseur 2/21/2003 10:32:00 AM


What's going on with the Orioles?

Jason Johnson collapsed today, the second on-field medical incident this week. Luckily, no one died this time. Johnson suffers from Typ I diabetes and just had low blood sugar (easy for me to say). The team says he should be fine.

However, this just intensifies the debate about Steve Bechler. Ephedrine use is officially discouraged, but reading this article, I get the feeling it's not as discouraged as we are being led to believe. Etchebarren was running to ESPN after Bechler's death to talk about how overweight Bechler reported to camp. And while the medical staff says they discourage the use of pills, seeing so many Oriole players (Fordyce, Gibbons, Hairston) publicly stating they use the drug and will continue to do so tells me ephedrine use can't be too discouraged. Or else the players wouldn't be telling the Baltimore Sun they still use it.

I'm not saying the Orioles killed Steve Bechler, but I do think ephedrine use is merely winked at in the clubhouse. Does anyone care that this man is dead? It's terrible he died, and the Orioles handling of this tragedy has been pretty bad. They seem more concerned with covering their own asses and picking a fight with the players union than actually mourning the death of one of their own. It's revolting.
posted by Poseur 2/20/2003 12:30:00 PM

Huge upset in Spokane

That loud sigh of relief you heard was from every bubble team in a major conference. Gonzaga lost to Portland last night, an absolutely crippling loss in the Zags' quest for an at-large bid. How bad was this loss? It was a loss to the last-place team of the WCC, ranked 232 in the RPI. At home. To Portland. Portland's barely a Division I team, this loss just cripples the Zags. They aren't out of the tourney or anything, but this loss, so late in the season and at home, is a huge, huge negative. In fact, it's probably the most important development in college basketball last night.
posted by Poseur 2/20/2003 12:20:00 PM

Michigan takes Big Ten lead

They started the season 0-5. They are on a self-imposed postseason ban for illegal payments to the Fab Five. And somehow, Michigan has turned it around and have sole possession of first place. It's hard not to root for the Wolverines to pull it off, these players are paying the penalty for previous administrations, they aren't the cheaters, but they are paying the price. The ban wasn't even supposed to matter because Michigan had no chance to compete in the tough Big Ten. And here they are, in sole possession of first. They may not have a postseason on the line, but they still can win the conference title. Go Blue.
posted by Poseur 2/20/2003 12:02:00 PM

Put a fork in Iowa

Iowa couldn't afford any losses if they had any hope of making the tourney as an at-large team. They played themselves into the hole, now they had to play their way out. So Indiana, a team that has seemed almost incapable of winning on the road this season, rolls into town and blows the Hawkeyes out. IU's thinking March now, and why shouldn't they? They are finally at .500 in conference play, they're ranked #34 in the RPI, and they finally have a road win to their credit. The news for Iowa is quite the opposite. They won't have a sub-.500 Big Ten season is now a sure thing, and they are staring the triple digits for their RPI, nowhere near the bubble. Start playing kids and get ready for next year because this season is over.

posted by Poseur 2/20/2003 11:59:00 AM

Hollis Price gets revenge

Price played terrible in the first Bedlam game of the season, so he played lights out on his home floor, giving OU a huge win over Okie State. The Sooners are one of three teams cruising towards a one-seed, Kentucky and Arizona being the others. That fourth one-seed is still up for grabs. OU has now won 34 straight at home. They are hitting on all cylinders, perfect timing.
posted by Poseur 2/20/2003 11:51:00 AM

Vols make me look stupid

I decide to make the Vols a probable tourney team, and they promptly go out and lose to the Gamecocks at home. It's back to the bubble for you guys, and I've learned my lesson about moving teams up prematurely. The Vols are still 7-4 in conference and have a nice little resume, but they cannot afford to lose games against SEC bottom-feeders right now. Just to be sure, I'm moving Auburn on to the bubble as well, given that they are about to embark on a brutal stretch of games. All in all, the SEC doesn't llok as strong today as it did yesterday. Silly, I know.
posted by Poseur 2/20/2003 11:46:00 AM

Memphis shocks Louisville

How big is this win for Memphis? It's a road conference win over a team in the RPI top ten. Memphis is now probably in the tourney unless they lose every game left on their schedule. No team had a better night than Memphis did. Louisville has probably lost any hope of a number one seed, but they better turn it around or they'll lose out on the two-seed as well.
posted by Poseur 2/20/2003 11:40:00 AM

Owls kill URI's tourney hopes

The Rams didn't exactly have the best shot at an at-large bid, but they can kiss an at-large bid goodbye after losing to Temple. And if Temple didn't go 2-8 out of conference, they might actually have a shot at an at-large bid, but that's not going to happen.
posted by Poseur 2/20/2003 11:30:00 AM

Duke beats Maryland

Rejoice, Wake Forest fans, your team is back in sole possession of first place. And while it's always fun to watch two big rivals go at it, this game really doesn't mean a whole lot. Neither is getting a one-seed and neither is going to miss the tourney. Nothing really changed.
posted by Poseur 2/20/2003 11:26:00 AM


It’s the first breakdown in awhile, and I’m trying to throw my hat into the ring of amateur bracketologist. There are those much better at this than I, Lunardi of and Jerry Palm of spring right to mind. But they get paid for what they do, so you can take these for the value at which you paid for them: nothing.

First off, here’s who is probably in:
ACC: Wake, Maryland, Duke
A-10: Dayton, Xavier, St. Joe’s
Big East: Pitt, N Dame, Syracuse, UConn
Big 10: Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois
Big 12: OU, OSU, Kansas, Texas, Mizzou
C-USA: Marquette, L’ville, Cincy
MWC: Utah, BYU
Pac-10: Zona, Cal, Stanford, ASU, Oregon
SEC: Kentucky, Florida, UGa, Auburn, Miss State

The WAC, Horizon, MAC, and MVC all have several bubble teams and could send two. Then there’s 18 one-bid conferences (though four bubble teams from those 18 conferences). That’s 55 teams that are probably in right now. Everyone else is battling over the remaining ten bids, and hoping someone falls out of the 55 probables.

A key thing to remember is that while the committee does not give each conference a specific number of bids, they do look at conference record, and if you’re below .500 in conference, you’re probably not going to the tourney. And also, the committee hates to take a team out of order in its conference rank. So if your team is 6-4 in conference right now, you better hope that 7-3 ahead of them in the same conference is either tourney bound or there’s a damn good reason for your team to leapfrog them.

Is there hope for any of the ACC bubble teams? The highest RPI belongs to UNC at 49, but they are 4-7 in conference, behind GT, Virginia, and NC State. State’s got the best case right now, sitting at 14-8 (7-4) and an RPI of 63. That’s a real low RPI, but a real good ACC record. The other negatives are extreme, though. 1-6 road record and two losses to teams ranked below 100 in the RPI. Georgia Tech is 0-9 on the road and ranked below everyone in the RPI. Virginia has an equally dismal road record (2-7), but they are 4-5 against the RPI top 50 and have a 53 RPI themselves. The ACC’s in the odd position of having their two strongest resumes buried in 6th and 7th place in conference. I think they’ll get one bubble team in, but we’ll see how the last weeks shape up.

The top three are running away with the conference, and there’s only one other team still in the running for a bid, and that’s Rhode Island. They are 71 in the RPI, have a 6-4 road record, three bad losses and only one marquee win. It’s really a boring resume. No huge negatives, no huge positives. They probably will be in the NIT.

Big East
In the course of this, I’m opening up a bid by knocking UConn off of the probable list. Their numbers are distinctly average, no real negatives or positives and an RPI of 48. Three Big East bubble teams all beat that number: Villanova (42), BC (46), and Seton Hall (37). All are above .500 in conference, and only BC is within a game of that mark. BC’s resume is about the same as Uconn’s, so they need to start winning to leapfrog over the group. Villanova is 4-4 on the road, 3-5 vs. the top 50, and have only one bad loss. Throw in a 7-3 conference record, and they are moving towards the area of “lock.” Seton Hall has the RPI but a 1-6 road record, and a 2-6 mark vs. the top 50. And the 12-9 record impresses nobody.

Big 10
Michigan would be a lock, but they are ineligible. Thanks Mr. Webber. They have a huge logjam of bubble teams. Minnesota’s the only one above .500 in conference, they have a good RPI, but they have a lousy road record but a good record vs. the top 50 (3-4). It’s hard to make any differentiation on any of the teams, so we’ll wait

3 teams are virtual locks. And there’s another 2 on the bubble. That’s right, FIVE teams from C-USA? It could happen. Memphis is nearing lock status. With a 38 RPI, 7-3 conference record, 3-3 road record and near .500 mark vs. the RPI top 50. DePaul’s credentials aren’t as strong, but they are still high in the RPI with a positive conference record. They could be the fifth team.

The Mountain West is shooting for four bids. It won’t happen, but they will get two, maybe three. UNLV’s got the higher RPI (43), but a sub-.500 conference record, which means NIT. Wyoming’s 52 in the RPI, but they have a 6-3 MWC record coupled with a 5-3 record and a 2-3 record vs. the top 50. They look good if they keep winning.

No bubble teams. Seriously, five are in. Oregon’s in fifth and they are pretty solid.

After downgrading UConn, I’m upgrading Tennessee. 7-3 conference records do that. So I have 6 in with one bubble team, Alabama, who has a terrific RPI, pretty good superlatives, but a dismal 4-7 SEC record. Let’s put the .500 theory to the test.

The mids are always tough to judge. Horizon, MAC, the Valley, and WAC could all be one-bid conferences, or they could send two teams. Creighton is in, so is Kent. If they lose their conference tourney, it gives them two bids, but if they win, another team could still slip in from these conferences. There are 18 one-bid conferences, but all major conferences will be rooting for Weber State and Gonzaga, who could score a bid if they lose their conference tourney.

So who are the 10? Right now, I have these teams from the bubble as in right now:
ACC- NC State
Big East- Villanova, UConn
Big 10- Minnesota, Michigan State, Indiana
C-USA- Memphis
MWC- Wyoming
MAC- Central Michigan
MVC- Southern Illinois

That makes my totals:
ACC- 4
A-10- 3
Big East- 5
Big 10- 6
Big 12- 5
C-USA- 4
MWC- 3
Pac-10- 5
SEC- 6
MAC- 2
MVC- 2
One-bids- 20

But things change rapidly.

posted by Poseur 2/19/2003 05:34:00 PM

Land-locked Swiss running away with yachting's America's Cup

I think this is the definition of irony.

Europe has never won the America's Cup, and now they are on the verge of taking the title. And it's not going to be Italy or Spain who breaks the streak, but Switzerland. Look at a map, Switzerland has no coast line, heck it doesn't have any signifigant body of water. Yet when they win, they get to host the next America's Cup. Let's hope the boats have wheels.
posted by Poseur 2/19/2003 10:15:00 AM

Orioles pitcher dies at spirng training

Without pointing fingers, Ernie and Pat Bechler described their son's checkered medical history Tuesday, a few hours before Broward County's chief medical examiner linked his death to the use of a dietary supplement called Xenadrine RFA-1.

Steve Bechler, a 23-year-old Orioles pitching prospect, died Monday morning after suffering heatstroke at Sunday's practice. Ernie and Pat Bechler left their Oregon home on Sunday night and flew cross-country to be with their son, but he died while they were in a limousine traveling from the airport.

What to say? Drugs are bad, people shouldn't take ephedrine. But Andy Etchebarren's comments about how Bechler reported overweight and out of shape really seemed out line. Look, the guy just died, let the medical examiner say what caused the death, don't pile on. It's a tragedy, and the Orioles aren't helping by going to the media to put the onus on Bechler.

May he rest in peace.
posted by Poseur 2/19/2003 10:11:00 AM


Confederations Cup Draw

Did you know that the US men’s soccer team is ranked #10 in the world? Did you know that the US men’s soccer team is the defending CONCACAF champion? Did you know that the US men’s soccer team will play some of the world’s best in Confederations Cup tournament in June?
This is not a World Cup year, but there are still some big games ahead for the national team. The Confederations Cup pits eight teams against each other. The six defending confederations champs get automatic invites, as do the defending Confederation Cup holders and the World Cup champions. In the case of an overlap, such as France being the EUFA champ and the Confederations Cup holder, an additional team gets a bid–this time the Turks got the nod after their stunning performance at the World Cup Finals in 2002.
Last week the draw was announced. In Group A host France is joined by Japan, New Zealand, and Columbia. Group B contains The USA, Brazil, Turkey, and Cameroon.
Does that seem like a bad draw? Consider the world rankings of the two groups.

France (2)
Japan (22)
Columbia (37)
New Zealand (49)

Brazil (1)
Turkey (7)
USA (10)
Cameroon (17)

Holy cow! What a stacked deck! Group B redefines "Group of Death." The US has a tough road to travel, meanwhile France has been given the easiest possible road to ensure that they can actually win a game in this tournament. The pros at BartCopSports will keep you posted.

posted by uberschuck 2/18/2003 12:27:00 AM

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