January 16, 2009 11:55 am ET by Kyle Whelliston
INDIANAPOLIS -- As we begin every Friday around here, a reminder that there's a chat over at ESPN today at 4 p.m. It's about American mid-major collegiate basketball, and I'm in it and so are you, and there's this one part when we're chillin' in my basement listening to old Wilco records. It's like a dream that hasn't happened yet.
It's also my last Friday chat for the foreseeable future. It's sort of a graveyard slot as far as ESPN chats go because everyone's left work already for the weekend. The number of hourly questions is down slightly from last year, but that's all my fault because I originally chose the time. Starting next week, I'm moving to Mondays at 4pm ET, which should give us a whole weekend to talk about. Going from to Fridays to Mondays... it's like The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but in reverse.
I know there's a core group that has made the Friday afternoon thing a routine (heck knows I'm one), so there's definitely going to be a mid-major interaction gap at the end of the week. With that in mind, and yesterday's talk about the return of the long-dormant return of the mailbag still fresh, we're going to spend Fridays copying and pasting.
Kyle, When talking about Butler's resume over at ESPN, where he tries to justify their seed (7) in bracketology, he brings up the argument that "As noted in this space last week, I also pay close attention -- especially for seeding -- to ASM (Adjusted Scoring Margin) data. ASM is more indicative of a team's overall quality, at least until conference standings help us sort out such things. For the three teams in question -- Xavier (+15.63 ppg), Baylor (+16.74 ppg) and Butler (+9.75 ppg) -- it's pretty clear which two have been more dominant." Do you buy this crap? How is this stat calculated? Doesn't this scoring margin thing reward beating down the worst teams on a BAD schedule, and doesn't it punish a team like Butler who takes a slower pace? Thanks, Chris
I'm the last person to ask about bracketology, I think the whole prediction industry is ridiculous. My position has been the same for years: shut up and enjoy the games, and let's talk about what happened afterwards. But I can understand what it's like to be tragically married to a certain methodology, and to claim absolute empirical truth -- that's something that's rampant in this business. When I hear a term like "Adjusted Scoring Margin," the first thing I think of is: well, who's doing the "adjusting?" Is it an expert? We deal in raw numbers here and don't assign style points. That's part of the reason we can't enter the figure-skating-judging world of absolute subjectivity that this "field" requires.
If you're following college basketball all year, you can probably get 95 percent of the teams bracketed right by Selection Sunday -- you even get 31 Bingo-board freebies -- and many bloggers do. But some of these upsarts are hitting the exact seeds on a more regular basis, Bracketography, B101 and March Madness All Season among them. They don't use ASM, as far as I know, and are a little more open-minded about methods. This is not a slight against Joe, a man I admire for building an empire out of nothing (I can relate), it's based on documented statistics. You know, real numbers.
Hey Kyle, I was wondering about the video you posted at the end of season 4 last year. What music was that set to? Keep up the great work. - Miles J
Thanks, Miles, I've got that query quite a bit in the past nine months. That's going to be a tradition here, a montage of all the NCAA mid-major teams' last gasps to close the season here. The song is not "This Shining Moment," it's "Si No Oigo a Mi Corazon (If I Don't Trust My Heart)" by a fine Argentine musician named Pedro Aznar. It appears on a 1995 album entitled David y Goliath (no translation necessary), which is not available in the United States for whatever reason. If it were in English, it would read like this:
Ah, the time lost in thought
Thinking that this all can be explained
With poison I tried treatment,
Why did I trust reason?
In a sea of words I suffocated
And believing them was all in vain
In the end, the castle fell
And inside I am alone.
You already know that the world is biased
That there is no map that teaches how to travel
That the soul must be set free
But also that only an idiot runs
When the rain turns the ground to mud.
On a related note, if anybody has tips on good video sharing services, I'm a receptive audience. I didn't upload Season 4's closer to YouTube because it would have been deleted in a second for using CBS highlights. I'm surprised Flash is still up.
Badlands Conference: In the BLC, it doesn't get any more bad-ass than an Oral Roberts-IUPUI game. Just last year, both of the games in this series were G!O!T!N! material. This year, both teams are a little down -- Ooee is 2-4 and Bob's 5-1 record hides a 7-11 overall mark. But last night's tilt, which we attended, was a great back-and-forth battle until Kyron Stokes stuck a dagger at 1:26. ORU, 67-58. Newly postseason-eligible North Dakota State still paces the league at 6-1; the Bison took care of their Southern Utah roadie last night, 76-53.
West Coast: Saint Mary's (3-0), wearing their red uniforms at home, crushed Loyola Marymount on local cable for its 13th straight win. Omar Samhan, a member of the best frontcourt in mid-majordom, had a 12-and-11 dub-dub. Also at 3-0 is San Diego, which will have a two-week mettle-test that includes the northern trip (Portland and Gonzaga). Speaking of the G-Men (2-0), they've won their first two conference games by an average of 30 points.
Western Athletic: The Selection Committee cares not for your "tuff league," they want to see levels of separation. The WAC this year is obliging, with Utah State at 4-0 (home winners over Fresno State by four), the only two teams worthy of challenging the U-Aggies right behind at 3-1, and everyone else in a big clump below. Those two second-tier teams played each other last night, and Nevada jumped out early to win by 14... Armon Johnson had 25. Good to know where things stand.
U'useless Stat of the Day
Last night, Lester Hudson had a semi-national opportunity to make his case to the public. Against Tennessee Tech on ESPNU, he scored 29 on 14-for-25 shooting, with 10 rebounds and seven assists. Hudson is now solidly in the second spot in national scoring race at 27.5 ppg, something he may yet win. David Holston of Chicago State has been held down to low totals and has dropped to 26.4 ppg, and Stephen Curry is 1.6 points ahead of Hudson at 29.1.
Who knows if some 1-8 SoCon team with nothing to lose will employ the Patsos Defense, and foul trouble can keep Curry in the 10-19 range. Here's your stat: Hudson is the only player who's scored at least 20 in every one of his games this season.
Now, last spring Hudson flirted with the NBA Draft process, and was basically told that he'd be a late second round pick. Hone your instincts, the scouts said, swap some lean muscle for hard-pack, and for garsh sakes cut down on the turnovers. He's obliged, averaging .097 turnovers per minute as opposed to last year's .103.
If there's anything I know about drafting mid-major players into the NBA, it's that their profiles had better fit on a postage stamp. An easy definition as a floor-running big has helped 2008 MMBOY Jason Thompson get major minutes (and survive the popcorn-car prank) as a Sacramento King rookie, for instance. Hudson would find an easier time finding work as a point guard, but a two who can create his own shot might be his cubbyhole. He'd be one of about 100 of those.
But I give you this from an scout I recently talked to. He gave me a theoretical situation: put Stephen Curry next to Lester Hudson, and imagine you had no idea what either had done on the basketball court. Based on body type alone, which one do you think would make it through an 82-game NBA season alive?
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