Under the Radar Game of the Day – Friday, February 12: Ohio at Buffalo

Under the Radar Game of the Day: Ohio at Buffalo, 7:00 PM Eastern, ESPNU

For our latest Bracket Rundown Video Podcast, CLICK HERE.

The Under the Radar Game of the Day returns to the MAC tonight as the battle for second place in the East Division behind Akron heats up.  Akron currently sits at 9-2 in conference play with a two game lead over Buffalo and Kent State, who are both 7-4 entering play tonight.  Ohio University sits one game further back at 6-5.  With the West Division leaders all sitting at 6-5 as well, it appears that whichever team finishes second in the East will earn the #2 seed in the MAC Tournament.  Tonight, in Buffalo, the Bulls will be welcoming in the Ohio Bobcats in a game that will either establish Buffalo as one of the favorites for that #2 seed or pull them back into the pack.

Buffalo enters play today with a 7-4 MAC record and 13-10 overall.  Ohio is 6-5 in conference and 14-8 overall.  Tonight’s game is the first of two between these teams, who will meet again in Ohio on February 27.  Blake Hamilton is one of the key players to keep an eye on for Buffalo as he has been in double digits in eight of his last nine games.  For Ohio, Antonio Campbell has the ability to dominate a game, with 11 double-doubles on the season including a 26 point, 10 rebound effort last time out against Ball State.  If Buffalo can find a way to shut him down, they have a chance to pick up their 5th win in their last 6 games and move one step closer to a top seed in the MAC Tournament.

 

DAVID’S NOTES AND OTHER HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-Going into yesterday, it didn’t look like it was going to be all that crazy of a day.  So, very little of what we were expecting to happen happened.

Little Rock and Chattanooga were Under the Radar teams that we felt were inside the bubble going into yesterday, but both suffered very damaging losses, which really hurt their chances of making it in without the automatic bid.

VCU also went down at UMass, which doesn’t knock them out of the tournament field, but it does knock them down quite a bit.

Oregon, who had been playing well on the road, did not play well on the road yesterday as Cal absolutely blew their doors off.

William & Mary was in a position to land inside the bubble, especially when you look at how well they had been playing, but they just went cold in the second half against Hofstra.  Hofstra isn’t bad, but they’re not a tournament team and Bill & Mary lost to them at home.

Saint Mary’s fell to Pepperdine, which was sort of surprising, but I personally wasn’t that big on them anyway.  Still, it was a surprising result.

Iowa lost at Indiana in a game that I thought they’d win, but I’m not too terribly shocked that they didn’t.  That was actually one of the least surprising results from yesterday.

-DAYTON AT RHODE ISLAND (Atlantic Ten).  Dayton had to sweat out their last game, but they still got the win and can add another road win to their already impressive profile tonight.  If they keep going like they have been they should end up as a protected seed.

-YALE AT DARTMOUTH (Ivy League). Yale returns to the scene of where their Ivy League championship hopes went south last season; the Bulldogs also begin a brutal stretch where 6 out of their final 8 games will be played on the road.

-PENN AT COLUMBIA (Ivy League). The Lions look to bounce back from last weekend where they got a split on the Yale/Brown road trip. They’re a game back of Yale and face a middling Quaker team tonight.

-UCLA AT ARIZONA (Pac Twelve). The Bruins are running out of chances to get notable wins in Pac 12; they’re already 2 games under .500 in league play. Arizona has a decent chance to get back up to 2nd place after this weekend, but they’d better not take this one for granted at home.

-USC AT ARIZONA STATE (Pac Twelve).  The one thing USC could really use is more road wins, and tonight they have a chance to add to that because this is a winnable road game, despite having to go against the Curtain of Distraction.

-MONMOUTH AT RIDER (Metro Atlantic).  If Monmouth wins out, they’ll be safely inside the bubble.

-GRAND CANYON AT SEATTLE (WAC).  This is another big road test for the Team of the People, as they try and finish in the top 100 of the RPI as a transitional team.  #LopesWaiver

Hoops HD Bracket Rundown: February 12th

This podcast was recorded on Thursday, February 11th @10pm, est.  It does not reflect the results of Oregon v California, Indiana v Iowa, Gonzaga v Portland, Colorado v Washington State, or Hawaii v UC Irvine

Chad acts as arbiter as John and David debate, argue, and banter back and forth as they build the seed list line by line.  They talk about each team’s profile and discuss where they think they should be placed in the NCAA Tournament if the season ended today…

Below is the the bracket of the seed list they put together, but you’re not allowed to look at it until you watch the show!!

***This is not an attempt to guess what we think the real committee will do on Selection Sunday, but rather a showing of what we personally think the field should look like if the season ended today***

 

 

 

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And for all you radio lovers out there, below is an mp3 version of the show…

News, Bracketology Notes, Regular Notes, and Highlighted Games: Thursday, Feb 11th

We’ve got a little bit extra today as we begin by pointing out a couple of things that we think a lot of “Bracketolgists” will miss and why we think they’ll miss it.  We then look back at what was an eventful night last night, and look ahead to the notable action tonight.

LINKS

-For the latest Under the Radar Video Podcast – CLICK HERE

-For John Stalica’s Throwback Thursday, which focuses on the historic 1990-1991 season where Duke won their first national championship, and UNLV finished the regular season undefeated just a year after winning it all – CLICK HERE

-For Chad Sherwood’s Under the Radar Game of the Day between UC Irvine and Hawai’i – CLICK HERE

 

BRACKETOLOGY NOTES

-Okay, so we at Hoops HD have our own staff that annually serves as a selection committee.  We go through the same process (pretty much) as the actual committee to select and seed the teams.  But, unlike what a lot of other major media sites do, we generally aren’t too concerned about trying to guess the real committee, but rather create what WE think the bracket should look like.  That has changed this year with the addition of Jon Teitel, who works on guessing the actual committee, and is among the most accurate in the nation, so we now put together two sets of brackets (I mention this as an aside, now back to the original point).

For our staff committee, we have a couple of rules/guidelines, and one of them is to NEVER evaluate a team categorically.  In other words, this is not an acceptable evaluation; “Well, Team A has a top fifty RPI, and they’re from a power conference, and power conference teams with top fifty RPIs almost always get in.”  That’s making a pick for a categorical reason.  That’s not making an argument that the team is actually any good.

Now, having said that, I’m about to point out some categorical things that I think other “bracketologists” who do try and guess the real committee are not picking up on.  For starters, I can think of only one example where a team finished in the RPI top 50, and was an outright first place finisher in the conference standings, who missed the field and was not inside the bubble.  I cannot think of a single example of an outright first place finisher with a top 40 RPI missing the field.  This means that, categorically speaking, Monmouth and Chattanooga would be selected for the field if today were Selection Sunday even if they failed to win the conference tournament.  William & Mary, who is a game out of first place but in the RPI top forty, would make it as well if they could end up finishing in first place.  Valparaiso and Little Rock currently have profiles that are almost always selected, and are on the cusp of having the kinds of profiles that are never not selected.

Another thing that bracketolists love to look at are top 50 wins and top 100 wins.  Well, that’s a lot of different kinds of wins.  If you win a home game against a top 50 team that’s 3-7 on the road, then yeah it’s a top 50 win, but the actual selection committee isn’t going to necessarily look at that as a high quality win.  On the flip side, if a team wins a road game against an opponent who is outside the top 100, but only has one or two home losses, then chances are the committee will give them some credit for winning that game.  That’s why when you look at a team like Monmouth and see that they won at Siena, you have to think that the real committee will give them more credit than most bracketologists would.  Siena is not in the top 100, but they only have one home loss.  So, that will likely score some points with the committee even if the bracketologists ignore it as not being noteworthy.  Another example of this is Chattanooga’s recent win at Mercer.  Mercer is not in the top 100, but it is their only home loss, so the Mocs will probably get some credit for it.

Furthermore, when you look at the schools that have athletic directors on the committee, and look at how those teams scheduled, you start to notice something.  Oklahoma went to Memphis and Hawai’i, LSU went to College of Charleston and Houston, Michigan State went to Oakland and to Northeastern, Stanford went to Saint Mary’s, and BYU went to Long Beach State.  All those schools have ADs on the committee, and all those schools scheduled at least one road game against a team from outside the power conferences.  That leads me to believe that this year’s committee is going to HEAVILY value road wins, even if those road wins came against teams that are outside the top 50/100, and came against teams from outside the power conferences.

Now, none of that is going to change what the Hoops HD staff committee does, but I do think it’s worth pointing out because this may be one of those years where the committee’s bracket looks a lot different than what most bracketologists were predicting.  We’ve certainly seen that happen before.

 

OTHER NEWS AND NOTES

-Lot’s of bad things happened to teams with otherwise good profiles last night.  Texas Tech, who is the definition of a home court hero, took down Iowa State in overtime.  Iowa State is still healthy, and they still have a much better chance of ending up as a protected seed than not ending up as one, but it’s still a setback.

-Texas A&M, after being discussed as a potential #1 seed by some people, has now lost four of their last five.  They fell at Alabama last night, which is a team with some good wins, but still not a tournament team and still the kind of team you would expect a protected seed to be able to beat on the road.

-Tulsa downed SMU.  SMU is ineligible for the NCAA Tournament due to violations, and it’s nice to see a program like Tulsa that isn’t on probation, and a coach like Frank Haith who…….ummm……nevermind.

-Providence lost another game that you would expect them to win when they fell at Marquette last night in overtime.  Providence has a game coming up at Xavier.  Chances are they’ll win that one since it’s a game they’re not supposed to win.  Providence is very schizophrenic this year, so they’re always worth watching.  Some days they’ll beat the #1 team on the road, which they’ve done, and other days they’ll lose to DePaul, which they’ve done.

-Baylor picked up a nice road win at Kansas State, who appeared to be getting closer to the bubble, but now has a ton of work to do just to get into the discussion.

-Butler got a huge win at Seton Hall that they desperately needed.  This evens their conference record and gives them a road win against a tournament caliber team, which are two things that they desperately needed to happen.

-Saint Joseph’s picked up what I think is easily their biggest win of the year with a road win at George Washington.  I think this pushes Joe’s a little further inside the bubble, and perhaps pushes GW a little further outside of it.  This followed a huge GW win at VCU over the weekend, so they may still be okay.

-Last, and least, San Diego State fell at Fresno State last night 58-57.  This followed a game where they needed to sweat out New Mexico, as well as get the benefit of a really bad call in order to force overtime.  If SDSU wins out from here on out they may still be okay, but they would be well advised to not lose any more games.  Otherwise they’ll likely need the auto bid.

Speaking of least, the Mountain West can be credited for two of the worst calls I’ve seen all season.  Last night Boise State hit a shot at the buzzer at Colorado State that clearly should have counted and won them the game, but it was waived off.  The Broncos went on to lose in overtime.

 

HIGLIGHTED GAMES

-HOFSTRA AT WILLIAM & MARY (Colonial).  William & Mary can still end up inside the bubble if they finish strong and end up as an outright first place finisher.  They’re a game behind Wilmington, who’s also been playing really well.  Their paper is strong enough to get them there, though.

-CONNECTICUT AT TEMPLE (American).  Temple is outside our bubble, but despite having a weak resume they are actually within reach of it and can get there with a very strong finish.  UConn is currently in our field, but they are hardly safe and could really use a notable road win like this.

-FLORIDA STATE AT SYRACUSE (ACC).  Both teams are in our field, but both are also closer to being out than they are to being protected seeds, so this is a big game for both of them to add yet another quality win to their profile, and deny a quality win to a team that they’re competing against for a spot.

-VCU AT UMASS (Atlantic Ten).  VCU is coming off a somewhat surprising loss from last weekend that wasn’t really damaging in and of itself, but if they follow that up with a loss to a UMass team that’s been awful this year, then their profile would take a rather significant plunge.

-ELON AT UNC WILMINGTON (Colonial).  I don’t think Wilmington will have a strong enough case to make the NCAAs even if they win out, but they are currently the first place team in the Colonial, and a couple of the teams that are behind them, William & Mary in particular, could get inside the bubble if they’re able to pass Wilmington.

-CHATTANOOGA AT WESTERN CAROLINA (SoCon).  We say it for just about every Mocs game, and we’ll say it again.  Chattanooga should be safely inside the bubble if they win out.  If they were to lose a game like this it would be very damaging.

-LITTLE ROCK AT LOUISIANA MONROE (Sun Belt).  Little Rock continues to look like the best team that absolutely no one is talking about.  I think they’re certainly deserving of being in the field if they win out through the regular season regardless of what happens in the SBC Tournament.  This is the first of four road games for them.  If they can win all four then hopefully someone in the media will notice (besides us), but probably won’t.

-NORTHERN KENTUCKY AT VALPARAISO (Horizon League).  I think Valpo will be safe for a bid if they win out through the regular season.  Anything short of that and they’ll probably need to win the conference tournament and get the automatic bid.  Truthfully, Valpo is good enough to where they should be able to both win out and win the conference tourney.

-IOWA AT INDIANA (Big Ten).  Indiana is solidly in the field and has a very bloated record, but for the most part it has been against decent but not great teams.  Iowa, on the other hand, has several big wins away from home and is in the hunt for a #1 seed.  This is the kind of game that #1 seeds are expected to win most of the time, so it will be another example of how they belong on the #1 line if the Hawkeyes pull it off.

-OREGON AT CALIFORNIA (Pac Twelve).  Oregon looks to be the class of the Pac Twelve, and it wouldn’t shock me if they ended up as high as the #2 line.  Cal has struggled on the road and still has work to do, but at home they’ve been solid.  This should be a fun match up.

-WASHINGTON STATE AT COLORADO (Pac Twelve).  Colorado appears to be safe right now, and they’ll remain that way so long as they don’t slip up in games like this.

-PEPPERDINE AT SAINT MARY’S (West Coast).  I have Saint Mary’s outside the bubble, but I realize that the real committee will likely value them more than that.  They’ve played a bunch of cupcakes when compared to the rest of the field.  Tonight is yet another example of that, and they cannot afford to lose it.

-GONZAGA AT PORTLAND (West Coast).  I think the Zags are fine for a bid so long as they win out.

-OREGON STATE AT STANFORD (Pac Twelve).  Oregon State is on the outside looking in, and the one thing that they desperately need is road wins.  If they can pick up some wins in games like this then they have a really good chance.

Throwback Thursday: The 1990-91 Season

Click here for Chad Sherwood’s Under-The-Radar SPOTLIGHT Game Preview between UC-Irvine and Hawai’i

Also click here for the weekly Under-The-Radar podcast starring Chad Sherwood and multiple David Griggs shark puppets

Normally, when we look at how a season plays out, a vast majority of it is based on how the postseason plays out. But this was no ordinary season – it was notable for who was allowed to play in the NCAA postseason (namely Nevada-Las Vegas) and who was not allowed to play in the postseason – in this case, Kentucky and Missouri come to mind.

As you may or may not remember, Kentucky faced a multitude of sanctions which barred them from any postseason for the 1989-90 and 1990-91 seasons. The coaching staff of Eddie Sutton and his assistants were also dismissed along with then-athletic director Cliff Hagan. Kentucky was also banned from TV in the 1989-90 season; you can click here for a more detailed article that outlines all the sanctions that Kentucky faced. That said, the Wildcats still managed to win the regular-season title under 2nd-year head coach Rick Pitino; their star players included John Pelphrey, Jamal Mashburn, Sean Woods and Reggie Hanson. Their notable wins included Notre Dame, Kansas, Louisville, LSU and Alabama. This was also the last season that the SEC would have a full round-robin schedule since Arkansas and South Carolina were scheduled to join the conference the following season. Even the coaching staff had a lot of future stars in Billy Donovan, Tubby Smith and Bernadette Maddox!

Missouri is a little more under-the-radar historically; they also were on probation for the 1990-91 season as well. They were banned from the NCAA Tournament, but were still allowed to participate in the Big 8 Tournament in Kansas City. (More details can be found here as to why Mizzou wound up on probation – two of their assistant coaches wound up being fall guys here.) Even though the Tigers had roster issues with Travis Ford transferring in the offseason (the ultimate irony here is that he transferred to Kentucky to AVOID probation; he would be eligible for UK beginning in 1991-92) and Anthony Peeler being declared ineligible for the 2nd semester; they still had a 2-time Big 8 player in Doug Smith. While the Tigers went 8-4 against nonconference foes (including a win against Notre Dame), 3 of their 4 losses were to eventual NCAA Tournament teams – Rutgers, Creighton, and Arkansas. The other loss was to cross-state rival Illinois. They beat a pair of NCAA Tournament teams in the Big 8 Tournament – Oklahoma State in double overtime and Nebraska to win the Big 8 Tournament. While the Big 8 did lose its auto bid that year, it didn’t come anywhere close to freezing the conference out of the NCAA Tournament (see Memphis State, 1987).

But the big elephant in the room comes in the form of the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels. They were the defending NCAA Tournament champions and were given an exemption from the NCAA to postpone upcoming sanctions so they could participate in the 1991 NCAA Tournament. Featuring a team that included Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Anderson Hunt and Greg Anthony, UNLV ran roughshod over the regular season with an unbeaten record. This also included a win at then-#2 Arkansas; you can click here to see that game in its entirety. Other notable wins included Michigan State, Princeton, Florida State, Louisville, Rutgers and a season sweep of a New Mexico State team that was ranked in the Top 15 at the time of their two games. However, UNLV’s run to perfection was halted by the Duke Blue Devils; you can click here to relive that magical game from the NCAA On Demand vault.

The rest of the Final Four looked like a family reunion for North Carolina on the other side of the bracket; the Tar Heels would lose to former UNC assistant Roy Williams’ Kansas Jayhawks. While losing in and of itself wasn’t a shocker, Dean Smith’s ejection was a bitter pill for Tar Heel fans to swallow. It got even worse in the aforementioned nightcap; Duke would go on to upset UNLV and advance to the national championship game for the 5th time in program history. This also included 4 other trips to the Final Four that went unfulfilled for Duke, but the 5th time turned out to be a charm as Duke would defeat Kansas 72-65 for their first of 5 national titles under Mike Krzyzewski. You can click here to see the championship game. This also meant the end of a long-running joke by UNC fans as it related to Duke – they would always say that Coach K would quit after 14 holes in a round of golf because he hated the Final Four!

Next week, we flash back to prior HoopsHD Championship Week videos in honor of the upcoming Media Mock Selection Week.

 

Under the Radar Game of the Day – Thursday, February 11 – UC-Irvine at Hawai’i

Under the Radar Game of the Day: UC-Irvine at Hawai’i, 1:00 AM Eastern (Friday morning), OC Sports/bigwest.tv

For our latest Under the Radar video podcast, CLICK HERE.

By this time of year, it is rare to find teams that are scheduled to play each other twice in conference regular season play that have not already had one of their two games.  It is even rarer to find a situation where those two teams also happen to be the top two teams in the conference.  But that is exactly what we have had happen so far this season in the Big West, where UC-Irvine and Hawai’i have clearly pulled away from the rest of the pack and established themselves as the top teams in the conference.  And tonight, with a 1:00 AM Friday morning tipoff on the East Coast (8:00 PM tonight on the islands), the two teams finally meet for the first time as both try to make a case for themselves as the potential regular season champions and top seed in the Big West Tournament (they will meet again in Irvine on Saturday the 20th).

The host Rainbow Warriors of Hawai’i enter play tonight at 7-1 in conference play and 18-3 overall.  Their RPI is 92, BPI is 71 and KenPom rating is 60.  Although they failed to pick up any top 100 wins on the season so far, they looked solid hosting the Diamond Head Classic in December where they defeated Northern Iowa and Auburn and lost by only 3 points to Oklahoma.  Their other two losses (at Texas Tech and at home to Long Beach State) were by no means awful.  The lack of top wins, however, will probably keep this team out of the at-large bid conversation.  If they can sweep both games from Irvine, win the balance of their regular season games and make it to the Big West Tournament finals, there may be a case to be made though.  The ‘bows are led by Stefan Jankovic who has had four double-doubles on the season.  If he has that type of performance tonight, Hawai’i has a great shot to be sitting alone in first place tomorrow morning.

The Anteaters of UC-Irvine are 7-1 in conference play and 18-6 overall.  They have the best RPI in the league at 60, but lower BPI (102) and KenPom (99) numbers than their rival.  None of their losses have been awful, all coming against top 100 competition other than a loss at UCSB, who is ranked 101 in the RPI.  The Anteaters’ RPI number is actually helped up by two of their losses — at Oregon and at Kansas.  As with Hawai’i, they lack in quality wins and if they want to make an at-large bid case they will probably need to win every game from now until the Big West finals.  The Anteaters have a solid roster, including guys that can shoot from long range such as Luke Nelson, but when you talk about preparing for this team, you have to talk about Mamadou Ndiaye.  The 7-6 300 pound beast down low is a true force capable of altering a team’s gameplan — because if you don’t he could easily be posting triple-double quality numbers with points, rebounds and blocked shots.  On top of that, it is no longer a guarantee that you can just foul him and have him miss from the line as Ndiaye has improved his free throw shooting from 43% two years ago as a freshman to 64% this year.  Hawai’i needs to be ready to deal with him tonight, or it will be the Anteaters celebrating sole possession of first place.

Under the Radar: February 10th

Chad and David begin by focusing on the Northeast Conference, which is one of the most exciting conference races with just one game separating the top five teams.  It’s also a conference with fun rivalries, and with high stakes during the regular season considering the conference tournament is played at campus sites.  They then run through the rest of the 23 Under the Radar conferences, and some of the talking points are how well Stony Brook is playing in the America East, whether or not Valparaiso deserves an at-large bid if they win out, how William & Mary could be able to earn an at-large bid, how strong Monmouth’s profile is, and how well Chattanooga is playing.  They also preview this week’s upcoming games, and reveal this week’s UTR Top Ten.

 

And for all you radio lovers, below is an mp3 version of the show…