March 9, 2009 11:42 am ET by Kyle Whelliston
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- Our year is a blur of quick-cut transitions: from total silence to Midnight Madness, pre-season to regular season, games outside conferences to games inside parentheses. Standings grids give way to brackets, and before you know it, campaigns are cut short in early elimination rounds. And then more seasons are over. There are champions and runner-ups, could-have-beens and never-wases. About 25 of us make it past the NCAA's gate; some find glory, most are just visiting. Then it's all over.
The inevitable shuttering of certain Mid-Majority segments is a small but subtle reminder that that little dot on the horizon line is in view and getting closer every day. There are no more Games! Of! The! Night!, no more Bally contests, one more Baller of the Week (in advance of the Baller of the Year presentation on Thursday), and only five more Good Mornings. This is the fifth-to-last one of those.
As in previous years, each of the next four days will have a certain purpose. Tomorrow, we'll celebrate some lost seasons by teams that may not have made it all the way, but came farther than last time and could very well go farther in 2009-10. On Wednesday, there will be a special surprise symposium about floor storming with some very special guests. Thursday is awards day, when we'll name a Mid-Majority Player and Coach of the Year for each sub-Red Line conference. And Friday is a special season-ending tribute to the cheerleaders and dance teams that work so hard to entertain us during timeouts. It'll be totally classy.
Today, however, we have a special treat. Last week, we challenged you to build a kidz' mobile that accurately represented the odd-shaped West Coast Conference bracket. The prize was a lifetime Basketball State subscription, which has a $1 million suggested retail value if you live as long as, say, Yoda. Here are the best pair we received over the weekend.
Michael K.'s entry is sleek, elegant, simple, and uses the magic of countervailing weight forces (unless that's Scotch tape near Gonzaga). Just the kind of thing you can expect that will be mass-produced by IKEA in coming seasons.
Travis added some subtle Bally references, yet was nearly eliminated on a technicality for adding Boise State as the No. 9 seed. The orange guy overruled, reminding me that I occasionally slip up on the keyboard and type "WAC" when I mean "WCC." Duly noted.
A few were actually eliminated from consideration because they weren't in physical form, or had the wrong seeding format, or just plain looked like the Big Sky bracket. I apologize to any DQ'ed entries, but a lot was on the line here. Had to draw the line somewhere.
We gave you the final seven brackets in graphic form yesterday, but Google and some RSS readers don't pick stuff like that up. Here, then, are the seedings for the MEAC, SWAC, Mid-American, Big West, Atlantic 14, WAC and Southland.
14 12: 1. Xavier 24-6 (12-4); 2. Rhode Island 22-9 (11-5); 3. Dayton 25-6 (11-5); 4. Temple 19-11 (11-5); 5. Saint Joseph's 16-14 (9-7); 6. Richmond 17-14 (9-7); 7. Duquesne 18-11 (9-7); 8. La Salle 18-12 (9-7); 9. Saint Louis 17-13 (8-8); 10. Massachusetts 12-17 (7-9); 11. Saint Bonaventure 15-14 (6-10); 12. Charlotte 11-19 (5-11). DNQ: George Washington, Fordham (eliminated).
Big West: 1. Cal State Northridge 15-13 (11-5); 2. Long Beach State 15-14 (10-6); 3. Pacific 17-11 (10-6); 4. California-Santa Barbara 15-14 (8-8); 5. California-Irvine 12-18 (8-8); 6. California-Riverside 17-12 (8-8); 7. Cal State Fullerton 14-16 (7-9); 8. California-Davis 12-18 (7-9). DNQ: Cal Poly (eliminated).
Mid-American: 1. Bowling Green 18-12 (11-5); 2. Ball State 13-16 (7-9); 3. Buffalo 19-10 (11-5); 4. Miami (Oh.) 17-12 (10-6); 5. Akron 19-12 (10-6); 6. Kent State 18-13 (10-6); 7. Central Michigan 11-18 (7-9); 8. Western Michigan 10-20 (7-9); 9. Ohio 14-16 (7-9); 10. Eastern Michigan 8-23 (6-10); 11. Northern Illinois 10-19 (5-11); 12. Toledo 7-24 (5-11).
MEAC: 1. Morgan State 20-11 (14-3); 2. South Carolina State 16-13 (11-7); 3. Norfolk State 12-17 (10-8); 4. North Carolina A&T 16-15 (11-7); 5. Coppin State 12-18 (10-7); 6. Bethune-Cookman 16-15 (10-8); 7. Hampton 15-15 (10-8); 8. Florida A&M 9-20 (7-11); 9. Howard 8-22 (7-11); 10. Delaware State 8-23 (7-10); 11. Maryland-Eastern Shore 7-22 (4-13).
Southland: 1. Stephen F. Austin 21-7 (13-3); 2. Nicholls State 19-10 (12-4); 3. Sam Houston State 18-11 (12-4); 4. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 17-14 (11-5); 5. Texas-Arlington 16-13 (9-7); 6. Texas-San Antonio 17-12 (8-8); 7. Texas State 14-15 (7-9); 8. Southeastern Louisiana 13-16 (7-9).
SWAC: 1. Alabama State 19-9 (16-2); 2. Jackson State 16-14 (15-3); 3. Prairie View A&M 16-15 (12-6); 4. Arkansas-Pine Bluff 12-17 (11-7); 5. Southern 8-22 (8-10); 6. Mississippi Valley State 7-24 (7-11); 7. Texas Southern 7-24 (7-11); 8. Alabama A&M 8-18 (6-12).
Western Athletic: 1. Utah State 27-4 (14-2); 2. Nevada 19-11 (11-5); 3. Idaho 16-14 (9-7); 4. Boise State 19-11 (9-7); 5. New Mexico State 16-14 (9-7); 6. Louisiana Tech 14-17 (6-10); 7. San Jose State 13-16 (6-10); 8. Hawaii 13-16 (5-11); 9. Fresno State 12-20 (3-13).
U'useless Stat of the Day
One of the recurring themes in the Tourney Central posts is the bad shooting night. In the first week of Championship Fortnight, no fewer than 75 teams (of 208) have shot worse than 40 percent. That's 36 percent of teams that have hit the floor since elimination play began. Not too surprisingly, 59 of those 75 teams aren't playing anymore as a result.
A theory, one that's been forwarded by people like myself, is more than 50 percent of defense is intensity, and that focus and intelligence makes up the rest of the pie. So does all this poor shooting mean that defense gets better in March, when everything's on the line and it's win or go home? Shooting percentages don't really tell the story, and neither do game scores ("in the 50's" says more about pace than defense). The great equalizer is points per possession, so I've put together the O-PPP averages for all Division I teams over the past four years. The first column is regular-season conference play, the second is conference tournament action, and the third is the NCAA Tournament.
|Season||O-PPP (reg)||O-PPP (c-tourn)||O-PPP (NCAA)|
Of course, this season's results are incomplete, and point production has increased a smidge over the regular season during that first week. But the overarching trend is clear: in the past three completed seasons, defense gets better in the league tourneys. Or maybe it's that offense gets worse. Either way, teams are getting stops they weren't getting back in January and February.
But look at that third column! Throw defense out the window when the NCAA Tournament starts... the offense takes over. In all three of the past seasons, the average possession yields more than the magic one point, and from 2006-08 the average yield from each possession has been greater than in the regular season or conference tourneys. Why do you think this is?
|Hickory Picket Fences||27629|
|The Hopping Cats||21526|
|Under a Blood Red Line||10379|
|Jen Folds Five||6895|