Final Four - Ohio State v Kansas

College Basketball’s Dream Team

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With the Olympics right around the corner, we got to thinking about what a college Dream Team would look like. So, through a thorough and strenuous email conversation that took way too long to complete, Raphielle Johnson and myself put together a 12 man roster that we believe would be the best that college hoops can produce. Agreements? Disagreements? Why are we morons? We love the feedback.

Point Guard: Aaron Craft, Ohio State: Going with the best defensive point guard as the starter, given the fact that this group has enough offensive ability to flourish with Craft running the show. He’s a pest defensively, which can prove to be problematic for many teams. Craft averaged 4.6 assists and 2.5 steals per game for Ohio State last season, and while he may not be a great perimeter shooter the rising junior did shoot 50% from the field overall. – RJ

Shooting Guard: Isaiah Canaan, Murray State: Canaan gets the start at off-guard thanks to his ability to shoot the basketball. The 6-foot-0 combo-guard averaged 19.2 points during an all-american campaign as a junior, knocking down 45.6% of his threes — while taking 6.5 per game — despite being the focal point of every defensive game plan the Racers faced. His size is a bit of a concern defensively, but it is nullified a bit by the number of quality defenders in the starting lineup. – RD

Small Forward: Mike Moser, UNLV: Moser gets the start thanks to his versatility. A 6-foot-9 forward, Moser can rebound the ball, he can make plays defensively and he can help keep the floor spread with his ability to shoot. It also helps that he will be able to play multiple positions, giving more versatility to the lineup. – RD
Power Forward: Cody Zeller, Indiana: Zeller is the best low-post scorer in the country. It’s that simple. He also runs the floor extremely well for a player his size. Zeller’s presence will be the most effective when he slides over to the center spot and a guy like Doug McDermott is at the four. Imagine a lineup of Craft, Canaan, Moser and McDermott playing around Zeller. Who do you help off of? Do you allow Zeller to go one-on-one on the block? That’s scary. – RD
Center: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky: Noel may not have played a collegiate game yet but it’s impossible to deny his talent. Noel’s a mobile shot-blocker who should be fine defensively when involved in pick and roll situations, which has become more commonplace in the international game in recent years. Offensively he’s not at the stage where you make him the focal point of the offense, but Noel is plenty talented enough to cause some issues. And with the likes of Canaan and Moser, not being a dominant offensive big man isn’t a problem. – RJ
Bench:
  • CJ McCollum, Lehigh: McCollum provides depth at both guard positions, given his ability to operate either with or without the ball in his hands. His ability to apply pressure to defenses off the dribble (McCollum ranked 9th nationally in free throw attempts) will definitely help off the bench, and he’s a very good rebounder for his position as well. – RJ
  • Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott has a skill set that should fit well with the international game. Versatility tends to serve teams well on the international level, and when you can use a player of McDermott’s caliber in a variety of roles (it can be argued that he should be starting) that’s a positive. – RJ
  • Solomon Hill, Arizona: Hill may be underrated nationally due to the Wildcats’ inconsistent 2011-12 campaign, but his versatility makes the rising senior a good fit for the international game. Hill averaged 12.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last season, shooting 50% from the field and nearly 39% from three. – RJ
  • Tony Mitchell, North Texas: We went with Mitchell over Mason Plumlee as a last minute decision for three reasons: 1) his ability to step out and hit a three; 2) he’s a better shot blocker; and 3) he’s not a Plumlee. – RD
  • Patric Young, Florida: Young is a freak athlete, the kind of guy that will be always be the best leaper and strongest player on the floor during an international tournament. Combine that with the effort he gives on a possession-by-possession basis, and his inclusion was a no-brainer. – RD
  • Allen Crabbe, Cal: Crabbe made the roster because we were looking for someone with size and the ability to shoot that can play the two. One thing that became painfully obvious is that there are not a lot of big guards in college hoops this season.
  • Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA: Muhammad may not have played a college basketball game yet, but he’s simply too talented to leave off of this team. His ability to slash and attack the rim will be valuable on a roster that has a number of jump-shooters. A back court pairing of Muhammad and McCollum will be fun to watch. – RD

Coach: Rick Pitino, Louisville: I just think that this roster looks like a Rick Pitino roster. A lot of shooters. A lot of small guards. A lot of athletes and shot blockers up front. I can see this team giving people fits with a 2-2-1 full court press. – RD

Final Cuts: Trey Burke, Michigan; Adonis Thomas, Memphis; Mason Plumlee, Duke; Jamal Franklin, SDSU; DeShaun Thomas, Ohio State; James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina; Wayne Blackshear, Louisville.

Report: Villanova and UConn set to renew series

Villanova's Kyle Lowry (1) goes up for a shot over Connecticut's Josh Boone (21) Monday, February 13, 2006 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, PA. Villanova University (4) upset University of Connecticut (1) 69-64. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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Another former Big East Rivalry will be renewed soon.

Villanova and Connecticut are set to resume a home-and-home series next year, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Rothstein.

The Huskies will host the first game of the series with the return game coming in 2018, though exact dates and venues have not yet been set.

Since the Big East split in recent years, the two teams have met once, in the 2014 NCAA tournament when the Huskies went on to win a national championship.

UConn played Syracuse earlier this year while the Orange also took on St. John’s and Georgetown in a rematch of former Big East rivals now spread across the realignment landscape.

While the new iteration of the Big East is as strong as its best since the basketball schools bolted – with the Wildcats the defending champions and Creighton and Xavier both having big years – it’s encouraging to see that the classic matchups  of the old Big East aren’t being completely abandoned in this new era of hoops, not only for nostalgia purposes but because they remain some of the best brands and programs in the sport.

CBT Podcast: Jeff Goodman of ESPN joins to talk point guards, suspensions and injuries

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Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com joined the podcast today to discuss Allonzo Trier, Mo Watson Jr., what O.G. Anunoby’s knee injury means for Indiana and the point guards you can trust in college hoops this season.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom

Bracketology: Resume, metrics have Villanova No. 1

VILLANOVA, PA - DECEMBER 03: Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in front of Lamarr Kimble #0 of the Saint Joseph's Hawks in the first half at The Pavilion on December 3, 2016 in Villanova, Pennsylvania. The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Saint Joseph's Hawks 88-57. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Recently, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Selection Committee made public its intent to evaluate options for integrating additional analytics and metrics into its process for selecting and seeding teams for the NCAA tournament.  How that might eventually look we don’t know.  What metrics will be included?  Will there be any weighting for certain metrics (such as the current Ratings Percentage Index or RPI) over others?  It’s an interesting twist, although not necessarily that new.  Selection Committee members have had various data points at their fingertips for years.  How each chose to use (or not use) ratings such as BPI, KenPom, Sagarin, and others is unknown; none were a part of the “official” process and rarely discussed publicly.

The point today isn’t to have a lengthy discussion about the merits of various analytic tools.  Rather, it provides an opportunity to look at how a new system might look.  One of the concepts mentioned was the potential for a “composite” ranking that would factor in a given set of analytic metrics.  In the interest of today’s bracket update, here’s a look at some rankings and the “composite” for the top six teams on the seed list (data points were through games played on Tuesday).

The metrics included: RPI, NPI (Warren Nolan), ELO Chess, KenPom, Sagarin, and BPI.  Composite ranking is in parenthesis, based upon an average of these metrics.

  1. Villanova (2.33)
  2. Kansas (4.83)
  3. Baylor (9.00)
  4. UCLA (11.16)
  5. Kentucky (3.16)
  6. Gonzaga (6.50)

As you can see, the composite score would favor moving Kentucky and Gonzaga into spots two (2) and four (4) on the seed list, making them No. 1 seeds instead of Baylor and UCLA (in today’s bracket).  Those are not wrong conclusions.  Of course, metrics do not necessarily do an effective job of including actual results.  Example: UCLA won at Kentucky.  An individual result is only one factor (usually a small one) in a team’s overall resume.  But the disparity in numbers (11.16 to 3.16) suggests a notable difference between UK and UCLA.  How the Committee might discuss those two teams given the result vs. numbers would be interesting.

The more relevant takeaway here is that Villanova is No. 1 by a significant margin.  When you factor in the math, the difference between Villanova and Kentucky is a little larger than it looks.  Thus, the Wildcats remain entrenched as the overall No. 1 seed today by almost any measure, resume and otherwise.

In keeping with our theme, we used a similar process, including a metric called Strength of Record (SOR) to help decipher an uninspiring collection of bubble teams.  With that in mind, Kansas State and Wake Forest are the final two at-large entries.  It’s completely erratic near the bottom of the bracket, so this is far from definitive.  History suggests that may not change much.

UPDATED: January 19, 2017

Regarding bracketing principles, can read them for yourself at http://www.ncaa.com. For example: teams from the same conference may now meet before a Regional final, even if fewer than eight teams are selected. The goal is to keep as many teams as possible on their actual seed line.

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Rhode Island vs. Kansas State | Midwest Region
  • Georgia vs. Wake Forest East Region
  • NEW ORLEANS vs. WEBER STATE | Midwest Region
  • MT. ST. MARY’S vs. MORGAN STATE | East Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EAST New York                     MIDWEST – Kansas City
Buffalo Tulsa
1) VILLANOVA 1) KANSAS
16) M.S. MARY’S / MORGAN ST 16) NEW ORLEANS / WEBER ST
8) Northwestern 8) Michigan State
9) MID TENNESSEE ST 9) Clemson
Buffalo Sacramento
5) Florida 5) CINCINNATI
12) VERMONT 12) Kansas St / Rhode Island
4) Virginia 4) OREGON
13) RICHMOND 13) NEW MEXICO ST
Milwaukee Greenville
6) MARYLAND 6) South Carolina
11) Georgia / Wake Forest 11) NC-WILMINGTON
3) Butler 3) North Carolina
14) FLA GULF COAST 14) WINTHROP
Orlando Salt Lake City
7) Indiana 7) Saint Mary’s
10) Seton Hall 10) TCU
2) FLORIDA STATE 2) Creighton
15) GA-SOUTHERN 15) BUCKNELL
WEST – San Jose SOUTH – Memphis
Sacramento Tulsa
1) UCLA 1) Baylor
16) TEXAS-SOUTHERN 16) UC-IRVINE
8) Dayton 8) USC
9) Virginia Tech 9) Arkansas
Orlando Salt Lake City
5) Purdue 5) Duke
12) AKRON 12) NEVADA
4) West Virginia 4) ARIZONA
13) CHATTANOOGA 13) VALPARAISO
Milwaukee Indianapolis
6) Wisconsin 6) Minnesota
11) California 11) ILLINOIS STATE
3) Notre Dame 3) Louisville
14) MONMOUTH 14) BELMONT
Salt Lake City Indianapolis
7) SMU 7) Xavier
10) Texas Tech 10) Iowa State
2) GONZAGA 2) KENTUCKY
15) NORTH DAKOTA ST 15) PRINCETON

NOTES on the BRACKET: Villanova is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Kansas, Baylor, and UCLA

Last Four Byes (at large): Iowa State, Texas Tech, TCU, California

Last Four IN (at large): Georgia, Kansas State, Wake Forest, Rhode Island

First Four OUT (at large): VCU, Miami-FL, Pittsburgh, Michigan

Next four teams OUT (at large): Marquette, Wichita State, Illinois, Penn State

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (9): FLORIDA STATE, North Carolina, Louisville, Notre Dame, Virginia, Duke, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

Big 10 (7): MARYLAND, Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan State, Northwestern

Big 12 (7): KANSAS, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, Texas Tech, TCU, Kansas State

Big East (5): VILLANOVA, Creighton, Butler, Xavier, Seton Hall

SEC (5): KENTUCKY, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia

Pac 12 (5): ARIZONA, UCLA, Oregon, USC, California

Atlantic 10 (3): RICHMOND, Dayton, Rhode Island

American (2): CINCINNATI, SMU

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s

Missouri Valley (1): ILLINOIS STATE

Mountain West (1): BOISE STATE

ONE BID LEAGUES: Monmouth (MAAC), Middle Tennessee State (C-USA), Georgia-Southern (SBELT), Princeton (IVY), Weber State (BSKY), Valparaiso (HORIZON), New Orleans (SLND), Chattanooga (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Akron (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), Winthrop (BSO), Morgan State (MEAC), North Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), MT. ST. MARY’S (NEC), Texas-Southern (SWAC)

VIDEO: Tom Crean chokes up talking about O.G. Anunoby, Indiana win

HONOLULU, HI - NOVEMBER 11: Head coach Tom Crean of the Indiana Hoosiers paces the sideline during the first half of the second game of the Armed Forces Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center on November 11, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
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Indiana went through the gauntlet of emotions on Wednesday night.

First, one of their most important players, O.G. Anunoby, went down with what appears to be a serious knee injury midway through the first half. Then, the Hoosiers blow a big lead at Penn State. Finally, James Blackmon Jr. bailed them out with a game-winning, buzzer-beating three.

After the game, head coach Tom Crean got choked up talking about the victory:

RELATED: What’s wrong with Indiana?

“As the leader of these guys I’m excited about the way they played considering everything we went through in this game,” Crean said. “There were a lot of tears in that locker room because no one knew what was going on with one of their fallen brothers. And I had to leave a guy who was crying and that wasn’t easy. But we found a way to win the game so I’m proud of them for that.”

Crean gets a lot of heat from fans – both of Indiana and of Indiana’s rivals – but that was a genuine moment of anguish. It’s easy to forget that he’s a human being dealing with more job-related stress than you can imagine. He’s paid handsomely for it, but that doesn’t make always make it easier.

VIDEO: Fordham tops VCU at the horn in OT

In this Oct. 6, 2015, photo, VCU men's NCAA college basketball coach Will Wade talks to his team during practice at the Franklin Street Gym in Richmond Va. VCU surged at the end of last season, winning the Atlantic 10 tournament to earn its fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament. (Mark Gormus/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT (
Mark Gormus/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP
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Down 12 at halftime, VCU needed a second-half comeback to force overtime at Fordham.

There was nothing VCU could do to counteract Fordham’s game-winner.

Antwoine Anderson’s jumper as time expired in overtime gave Fordham a 69-67 victory Wednesday night.

After winning eight-straight games, VCU has now dropped back-to-back games with a loss to Davidson coming last weekend. The loss will likely bring up the same questions that were there after a less-than-steallar non-conference showing for VCU, given Fordham had lost 10 of 12 coming into the night.