Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sportz' NCAA Tournament Recap - Final 4

Just a quick recap of what I saw in my Sportz Room -- filled with TVs that I can watch all four games going on at the same time.  This one will take the entire Final Four as one day.

GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Wisconsin vs Kentucky. This was what everyone outside of the Bluegrass state wanted.  To see Kentucky beaten.  Maybe that's a bit drastic, but the SEC wasn't challenging enough for a team of Kentucky's stature, so it would be interesting to see how they'd perform against the best teams in the NCAA.  After all, the Wildcats only played one game against teams ranked in the top 14 of the final regular season AP poll.  Wisconsin, who clearly had a chip on its shoulder, came in swinging and it paid off.

UPSET OF THE WEEKEND: Wisconsin vs Kentucky. It's hard to call a game featuring two No. 1 seeds as an upset, but Kentucky was undefeated and staring directly into history.  Wisconsin, while one of the best teams in the nation, came in with no McDonald's All Americans.

CONFERENCE OF THE WEEKEND: ACC. The ACC won another title.  Since 1982, that's 34 years, the ACC has won 11 National Championships (Duke 5, UNC 4, NC State 1, Maryland 1). The ACC finished an amazing 17-5 in the tournament, with five Sweet 16 teams and three Elite 8 teams.

CONFERENCE WITH A BAD WEEKEND: Big Ten. Two Big Ten teams made the Final Four, and both were beaten by Duke.  The ACC is now 6-1 against the Big Ten in National Championship games, with a nice six game winning streak (Duke-Michigan, UNC-Michigan, Maryland-Indiana, UNC-Illinois, UNC-Michigan State, Duke-Wisconsin). 

DUD OF THE WEEEKEND: Duke vs Michigan State. After the Spartans looked like they were set to give Duke a game, the Blue Devils just owned them.  The other two games were tight.  This one, not so much.

DOMINANT PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEKEND: Duke. They blew out Michigan State and then toppled Wisconsin and the player of the year, Frank Kaminsky.  That is Duke's fifth title in 25 years.

UNDERLYING STORYLINE OF THE WEEKEND: Talent. I've always said that the NCAA tournament is two different tournaments.  One is that first weekend where we see those small schools pull off a few upsets and the Georgia State's of the world become darlings of the sports world.  Then there is the the Sweet 16 on forward, where the best teams usually do their thing.  Look at this Final Four.  According to NBADraft.net, there were 9 guys in this Final Four who are projected to be first round draft picks this June -- including six of the top 11 picks.  Duke and Kentucky were loaded with one-and-done players.

ACC Dominant In NCAA Title Game Again

*Since 1982 (34 years), the ACC has won 11 NCAA tournaments.  That's nearly one-third of the time.

*Current ACC membership has won 13 of the last 34 NCAA tournaments (and 14 of 36).

*The ACC is now 6-1 vs Big Ten in NCAA title games.

*Conferences in that span ...

ACC: 11 titles (13 from current members)
Big East: 7 titles (only 2 from current members)
SEC: 6 titles
Big Ten: 3 titles (4 from current members)
Pac 12: 2 titles
Big 8/Big 12: 2 titles
American: 1 title (4 from current members)
Metro: 1 title (conference disbanded)
Big West: 1 title (0 from current members)
MW:  0 titles (1 from current members)

*The ACC has had four different programs win titles in that time span.

Big East: 5 (Georgetown, Villanova, UConn, Syracuse, Louisville)
ACC: 4 (North Carolina, NC State, Duke, Maryland)
Big Ten: 3 (Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State)
SEC: 3 (Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida)
Pac 12: 2 (UCLA, Arizona)
Big 8/Big 12: 1 (Kansas)
Metro: 1 (Louisville)
American: 1 (UConn)
Big West: 1 (UNLV)

*Under current membership:

ACC: 5 (North Carolina, NC State, Louisville, Duke, Syracuse)
Big Ten: 4 (Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland)
SEC: 3 (Arkansas, Kentucky, Florida)
Big East: 2 (Georgetown, Villanova)
Pac 12: 2 (UCLA, Arizona)
Big 8/Big 12: 1 (Kansas)
American: 1 (UConn)
Mountain West: 1 (UNLV)

*The state of North Carolina trails only California for total NCAA titles ever.

California (15 titles)
North Carolina (12)
Kentucky (11)
Indiana (5)
Connecticut (4)
Ohio, Kansas, Michigan (3)

*Since that 1982 mark

North Carolina (10 titles)
Kentucky (6)
Connecticut (4)
Florida, Kansas, Michigan (2)
Indiana, California, Pennsylvania, New York, Nevada, Arkansas, Arizona, Maryland, District Of Columbia (1)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Imagine If We Did Have The Best 16 Teams In The NBA Playoffs ...

Remember that whole thing about the NBA just ditching the current playoff format and just having the top 16 teams in the playoffs?

Let's see how that would look right now ... as of April 6th.

1-WARRIORS (63-14) vs 16-BUCKS (38-39)
2-HAWKS (57-19) vs 15-SUNS (39-38)
3-ROCKETS (53-24) vs 14-PELICANS (41-35)
4-GRIZZLIES (52-25) vs 13-THUNDER (42-35)
5-CLIPPERS (52-26) vs 12-WIZARDS (44-33)
6-SPURS (51-26) vs 11-RAPTORS (45-32)
7-TRAIL BLAZERS (50-27) vs 10-MAVERICKS (46-31)
8-CAVALIERS (50-27) vs 9-BULLS (46-31)

Here are the main differences.

First off, the Pelicans and Suns would be in the playoffs, while the Nets and Celtics (currently sitting 7th and 8th in the East) would not.  That's a great trade-off.  The Pelicans are a very talented team with a budding super star on their roster.  Phoenix is an exciting team to watch.  The Nets and Celtics have each tried to purge their rosters to shave money and get young talent.  With the shoddy Eastern Conference, you can do that and still make the playoffs!

Next, well look at these matchups.  Cleveland is in an 8-9 series instead of being a No. 2 seed in the current format.  That means they'd get the Bulls in the first round instead of the Nets.  Again, a much better series.  Six of the eight home field advantages would be to Western teams because they are better.  On the flip side, the Warriors would face the Bucks ... and much weaker team than the Thunder they are currently trending to play.  Right now, the Bucks would face the Bulls in the first round.  Think about that!  The Bulls would get the Bucks in the first round, while the NBA's best team ... Golden State ... would have to face the Oklahoma City Thunder?

One interesting thing to look at is the travel.  Here is where the series look as far as distance:

New Orleans to Houston
Cleveland to Chicago
Memphis to Oklahoma City
Milwaukee to Oakland

Toronto to San Antonio
Dallas to Portland
Atlanta to Phoenix

Washington to Los Angeles

Sure, DC to LA is quite a ride ... but that happens in NBA Finals. And look at Dallas-Portland?  That would be a normal Western Conference series.  Imagine a Memphis-Portland series?  Or Minnesota-Los Angeles?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ten Years Ago: UNC Beats Illinois For National Championship

The NCAA tournament is known for being wild sometimes.  The best team doesn't always win it and the best teams rarely play in the title game.

In 2005, those two teams did.

That Illinois team lost one game all season long, a one-point loss to Ohio State to end the season.  They had the three headed guard monster of Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Luther Head.  North Carolina lost just three games all year long, including a surprising loss to Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament.  They returned the trio of Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants, brought in super freshman Marvin Williams (all four would become lottery picks in the same NBA Draft) and several upperclassmen who saw the tough times in Chapel Hill.  The Illini finished No. 1 in the final poll with UNC finishing No. 2.