The Confidential

An A.C.C. Blog With a Christian, Socially Conservative Perspective

Archive for the category “March Madness”

ACC Post-Season Tournament Update

As you are probably aware, the post-season tournaments have been announced–with most attention deservedly focused on the Big Dance!  In fact, you are probably entering bracket tournaments as we speak.  Feel free to enter the Confidential’s annual contest–it is free, but also has a $25 prize via PayPal to the winner!  See here.  In any event, here is a recap of who from the ACC is going where:

The Big Dance

  • North Carolina earned a #1 seed in the East and tipoffs of Thursday in Raleigh against a play-in team to be determined.
  • Virginia also earned a #1 seed, in the Midwest, where it will begin play in Raleigh on Thursday against Hampton.
  • Miami earned a #3 seed in the South and was shipped all the way up to Providence, where it will face off against Buffalo on Thursday.
  • Duke will join Miami n Providence as the #4 seed, where it will face North Carolina-Wilmington on Thursday.
  • Notre Dame is a #6 seed in the East, where it will face a play-in opponent in Brooklyn on Friday.
  • Oddly, Pittsburgh is the third ACC team in the East, where it is a #10 seed playing in St. Louis on Friday against a tough Wisconsin team.
  • Syracuse was on the bubble, but made it in as a 10 seed in the Midwest, where it will begin play on Friday in St. Louis against Dayton.

The N.I.T.

  • Florida State will host Davidson.
  • Georgia Tech will host Houston.
  • Virginia Tech will host Princeton.

Other Tournaments

No ACC teams are participating in the CBI or CIT, and the field for the Vegas tournament has not yet been announced.



Syracuse Orange: Is the NIT Actually Better For The Team? No.

If you watched Syracuse Orange basketball this season, you saw a very flawed team.  You absolutely did not see a team capable of getting to the Final Four.  A few good wins do not change that, especially with several months in between them.  This was just not a very good team.  Yet it is squarely on “the bubble,” meaning that it could still somehow eke into the field.  The question that begs is whether Syracuse would be better off in the NIT this year.  The answer is “no.”

Before proceeding, let’s not pretend that any program would turn down an NCAA bid to go to the NIT.  Even if you have a one in a trillion chance of winning it all, you want that opportunity.  You also want that exposure and experience for the players.  You never, ever turn down an NCAA bid.  Instead, the issue is whether it would be better for Syracuse to (a) be in an NCAA field where winning 2 games is unlikely; or (b) in an NIT field where there is a chance of winning the whole thing and playing several games.

The thing about (b) is that it ignores reality.  Boeheim is what he is–he is never going to play young players just to get them experience.  He does not do it against Cornell in December, he is not going to do it in the NIT where it is win or go home.  The idea that we would suddenly hand over the team to young players ignores all history and tendencies.  At best, it would be a few extra minutes in games other than blowouts.  Maybe there could be a blowout in an NIT game, but that would be it–one.  If this team was capable of blowing out opponents, it would not be on the bubble in the first place.

And is it fair to Silent G to keep him on the bench?  He deserves to score and impress NBA scouts.  Cooney, for all his ups and downs, does not deserve to be benched.  Coleman needs work on all facets of his game, so it would be foolish to not play him as much as possible.  And so on.  How can you play ANY game with a goal to get experience, rather than win?   This is not the NFL preseason, it is a one-and-done tournament.

But perhaps most importantly, there is no reason to believe that this team could win more games in the NIT playing younger players.  If this team’s young players were not good enough to play limited roles during the season in big time games, there is no reason to believe that throwing them out there in NIT games is going to lead to automatic wins and “experience.”  Stated otherwise, these young players would lead Syracuse no farther in the NIT than the experienced players would in the NCAA.  And, if that is the case, what good is the NIT?

There is no need for a few more home games in the Dome in front of 11,000 apathetic fans.  Historically, Syracuse has blown games against Florida State and UMass in similar situations where the bubble went the wrong way.  The deep NIT runs have been few and far between.

All in all, there is little or no silver lining to going to the NIT.  Syracuse fans do not need to jump off buildings if the Orange are sent there, and there is certainly no reason not to take the games seriously (as fans or players), but do not pretend that it is “actually better” for Syracuse to go to the NIT instead of the NCAA.  At least, that is the opinion here.

Syracuse Plays Itself Back Onto the Proverbial “Bubble”

Heading into Syracuse’s matchup with Florida State, Syracuse may have been on “the bubble,” but it was sitting pretty nicely on the right side of same.  A win over a mediocre Florida State team would be enough to start planning for one of the eight nice destinations reserved for the Big Dance.  Instead, Syracuse lost–for the same reasons that it often lost this year–placing itself right on the bubble and allowing other teams to share control of the Orange destiny.

This is what ESPN’s Bubble Watch had to say about Syracuse before the FSU game:

Syracuse [19-11 (9-8), RPI: 52, SOS: 37] When your career wins tally runs just shy of four digits, you don’t much go in for moral victories. Were Jim Boeheim inclined, even briefly, to entertain such a heretical notion, Monday night’s 75-70 loss at North Carolina would be a fine time to do so. The Orange played a very good team to a near-draw on the road; they even cut a 13-point second half lead to only one with two minutes left to play. And they did so despite guards Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney’s combined 3-of-13 effort from 3 and 9-of-27 night overall. Even forward Tyler Roberson — who spent the past week in the deepest and darkest recesses of Boeheim’s doghouse — grabbed 11 rebounds. It was a good night in every way but the final score. Whether that will mean much to Syracuse’s currently solid but nonetheless still vulnerable odds of making the NCAA tournament probably will have more to do with Saturday’s trip to Florida State (and, most likely, how the ACC tournament unfolds). But if the eye test can be graded on a curve — and really, isn’t that the whole point — Monday was a win.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, meanwhile, had Syracuse fairly comfortable as a 9-seed.

With the loss, Syracuse drops to 19-12 overall and 9-9 in ACC play.  This is 10th in the ACC, as Virginia Tech and Clemson each got to 10-8, while Pitt’s 9-9 includes two wins over the Orange.

If that was not bad enough, Syracuse now has to play that very same Pitt team in the ACC tournament.  Even when Syracuse is dominant, Pitt gives it trouble.  With a middling Syracuse team, the law of averages is not quite what it might ordinarily be–a third loss is far from unlikely.  If so, Syracuse will be merely 19-13.  That makes for some short nails on selection Sunday.

If Syracuse can beat Pitt, it will get more comfort, but then have to face the #1 seed in the ACC.  Whomever that is, it will be a daunting matchup, leaving Syracuse very likely to lose and end up at 20-13.  So there it is–a best case scenario of 20-13.

But this is not shocking.  For a good shooting team, Syracuse does not shoot well consistently.  This is because you can count on several poor shots from a shot-selection standpoint every game.  These might as well be turnovers–which are also on the rise.  With spotty rebounding and very little inside presence on either side of the court, all there is most night is a hope that they will out shoot the opponent.  Which brings things back to the aforementioned inconsistency and shot selection.

To be sure, if Syracuse was to get into the Big Dance and then get into the 2nd round, some higher seeds would have to be pretty nervous about Syracuse having a great shooting night and pulling the upset.  Even that is only likely to happen once, meaning that the prospects of a deep march into March are as slim as for those who win the tiniest of conference automatic bids.  It will be nice to be on the bracket, but a second weekend would be the upside and a not very likely one at that.

For a down year muddied by NBA defections and NCAA suspension follies, the season could have been much worse.  Much much worse.  Nevertheless, this is a team that is doing everything it can to not control its own destiny, which usually ends poorly.  This team is on the bubble because it is a bubble team.

Why I won’t root for Duke

It happens every year here in North of our teams makes a deep run in the tournament and the rest of us have a decision. Do we root for the team we hate or do we root against them? Personally, I will never cheer for rivals and it all comes down to bragging rights.

This year all 3 Tobacco Road teams made the sweet 16 and everyone hoped their team would win and advance farther than the others. UNC and NC State both dropped their sweet 16 games and we all know where Duke ended up. I, along with many other NC State fans I know, am rooting for Wisconsin tonight, and not just because Russell Wilson went there (for grad school mind you). 

Neutral parties question this all the time. “You should cheer for them,” they say, “they’re representing your state.” A Duke win tonight would indeed be better for the state and the conference as a whole, but I can’t stand the thought of Duke winning it all. You see, college basketball isn’t just a sport to us in NC, it’s a religion. We all belong to our favorite school and we tend to do a lot of talking throughout the summer. If Duke wins the National Championship tonight, UNC and NC State fans, like myself, will have to endure another year of hearing how many titles the Blue Devils have and how many wins wins Coach K has. 

While I’d love see another title brought home to North Carolina, the incessant smack talk and gloating is a bit more than I’d like to endure for another summer. I wish both teams the best of luck tonight, but with the utmost respect for Duke, I must say…On Wisconsin!

Who Should Syracuse Fans Be Rooting For in the Big Dance?

March Madness!  The Big Dance!  The Bubble!  Every March, college basketball fans obsess about these topics.  And then the brackets come out and everyone fills one out… trying to decide whether to be a homer or hedge against your school losing early.  But what if your school is not in the bracket?  If your schools stinks (see Northwestern), so be it.  But when you are Syracuse and used to being in the field… it is extremely difficult for fans.  Some may not even bother.  For the rest of the Syracuse fans (and other schools’ fans stuck watching from afar)…regardless of who you PICK to win… who do you ROOT for?

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Confidential Bubble Watch: March 2, 2015

Can you believe it?  Two weeks from today, we will be doing our brackets.  The question, of course, is how many ACC teams will be on those particular brackets.

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A Sweet Sweet 16

Say what you will about the way the selection committee selected and seeded this years tournament, whether they seeded for TV match ups or not, but it was an incredible opening  weekend. It featured a record six over time games and ample upsets for the underdog lovers. Our beloved ACC is down to Virginia and Louisville and the SEC went 7-0, who would’ve guessed that? The new Big East has been eliminated while the rest of the power conferences has lost at least half of their teams. The Sweet 16 is dominated by the power conferences with the lone exceptions being Dayton and San Diego State.
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Season End Recap- Why North Carolina Deserved a Chance in UNC-Iowa State

Another North Carolina Basketball season has come and gone. 24 wins. A Hall of Fame Tipoff Tournament Championship. And for the first time ever, a Roy Williams coached Carolina team is back at home after the Round of 32 for two years in a row. For many fans, it’s been an interesting, yet unsatisfying, season. Summer drama led to early season losses. Disappointing outcomes led to surprising upsets. Big victories led to an almost unprecedented poor start in conference play. A wake up call led to a huge win streak. And the season ended early, yet again, in the most bizarre of circumstances. As we reflect on the 2013-2014 North Carolina basketball team and look to the future, here are a few observations from this year’s season-

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Are the Cards poised for a repeat?

Say what you will about the Louisville Cardinals 4 seed, rather deserved or not, but it is of no consequence now. Its time to dance. We all remember Louisvilles remarkable finish ending with the national championship to put an exclamation point on the “year of the Cardinals”. What are the Cardinals chances at a repeat performance?
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What, No Kansas?- Analyzing the Tar Heels’ Path to the Final Four

Let’s go ahead and get the most obvious thing out of the way. No, North Carolina is not a favorite to make the Final Four. But could they get there? Absolutely. They have all the talent and tools to make a deep March run- defensive intensity, a wide rebounding margin, a star point guard, excellent bench play. Add a Hall of Fame coach to that list and you’ve got a pretty sure shot, right? The problem is, that the Tar Heels rarely exhibit all of these qualities at one time. This is the same team that lost to UAB (which finished with a losing record in lowly C-USA) and beat then #1 Michigan State (many media member’s pick to win it all) in the same WEEK. You never know what you’re going to get when they step on the court. A 12-game winning streak just became a 2-game losing streak courtesy of Duke and Pittsburgh, two teams which North Carolina had already beaten earlier in the season. So why do I think they still have a chance?

Because the Tar Heels always seem to show up when it matters most.

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