SCGD and Under the Radar – January 31

Princeton at Harvard, 7:00 PM Eastern, no TV

For tonight’s SCGD we head to the Ivy League, the league whose regular season games have the most significance of any of the 32 conferences.  As the Ivy does not hold a conference tournament, the automatic bid is awarded to the regular season champion (unless there is a tie which would force a one game playoff scenario for the bid).  Harvard, on paper at least, appears to be the clear favorite to run through the Ivy.  In fact, a record worse than 13-1 in league play would a shock for the Crimson.  However, saying a team will dominate a conference and having them actually do it on the court are two different items entirely (case in point – New Mexico State and the WAC this year).

Princeton (along with Columbia) is one of two teams that appears to be talented enough to knock off Harvard or at least give them some tough games.  Tonight, the Tigers travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts to take on the Crimson.  The return trip to Princeton will take place on February 22.  Princeton is 12-3 overall on the season, though lost their lone Ivy League game to date, at rival Penn.  They also suffered a disappointing non-conference loss to Portland.  Their best win was an exciting overtime road win over Penn State.

For the Harvard Crimson, an at-large bid would be worth discussing if the Ivy had a conference tournament.  Should they roll through the conference regular season and lose in the finals of a league championship tournament, their resume would be worthy enough.  However, if they do the first part, and roll through the conference regular season, they will be in the field anyhow.  The Crimson are 15-3 on the year, with the losses coming in a hard fought road game at a full strength Colorado team, at Connecticut with Wesley Saunders unable to play, and an inexplicable loss at Florida Atlantic.  They have wins over a pretty good Vermont team, a decent Boston University team, and an even better Green Bay team, plus won the championship in the Great Alaska Shootout.

UNDER THE RADAR

As an added bonus today, below find our most recent Under the Radar videocast.  David and I go through the single-bid conferences and again predict where each team will fall in the tournament seeding.  We also debate the chances of some of these bottom teams to pull upsets in the NCAA tournament, including discussing dangerous teams from Mercer, Georgia State, North Dakota State and more.  And in a new twist, we actually make the case that the SWAC champion may not be team #68 in the Field.

Bracket Rundown: Jan 29th

On this edition, we again debate who the four teams on the #1 line should be, and whether or not Michigan, or Michigan State, or both, or neither should be a #1 seed.

We also look at Ohio State, and although we believe they are still in the field, they’re profile is weak and they are now several lines away from being a protected seed.

We go through all the teams who we feel are safely in the field, and inside the bubble, and end as we always do by looking at the teams who are on the bubble.

All that, and more!!

Small Conference Game of the Day – January 30

BRYANT AT ROBERT MORRIS, 8:00 PM EASTERN, ESPNU

First place is on the line tonight in the Northeast Conference as the Bryant Bulldogs travel to Western Pennsylvania to take on the Robert Morris Colonials in a nationally televised game.  Bryant, the preseason favorites to win the NEC, enters tonight’s game at 5-1 in conference and 13-8 overall.  Their lone conference loss on the season, however, came back on January 11 at home to Robert Morris.

Robert Morris started the season weakly, going only 5-10 in non-conference play.  However, a 6-0 league start, including the win at Bryant, has gotten their record over .500.  RMU is the defending NEC regular season champion, though a conference tournament semifinal loss to Mount St. Mary’s relegated them to the NIT.  Robert Morris promptly pulled one of the most shocking upsets in recent memory in the NIT, defeating mighty Kentucky in the first round.

Tonight’s game will go a long way to showing us who is going to win the NEC regular season title.  A win by Bryant will open the conference race wide open, especially with teams like Fairleigh Dickinson and St. Francis (Brooklyn) right behind the league leaders.  A win by Robert Morris, on the other hand, will build a two game lead in the conference and could put the Colonials well on their way to defending their league title.  And the regular season title is extra important in the Northeast Conference, as the higher seed hosts each conference tournament game.  Thus, winning the regular season title will guarantee the champion home games all the way through the tournament.

Highlighted Games for Wednesday, Jan 29th

Be sure to check out Chad Sherwood’s SCGD Here: http://hoopshd.com/2014/01/29/small-conference-game-of-the-day-january-29-2014/ 

 

-UMASS AT SAINT BONAVENTURE (Atlantic Ten). UMass is still continuing to win most of their games, but they’ve had to sweat a lot of them out and Saint Bona isn’t the easiest place to win on the road.

-MEMPHIS AT UCF (American). Memphis is in good shape and can add another conference road win to their profile tonight. UCF has been somewhat of a disappointment this year.

-PENN STATE AT OHIO STATE (Big Ten). Ohio State had hit the skids somewhat, and they still don’t have a win over a team that’s solidly in the field. They don’t want to slip up in a game like this.
-NORTH CAROLINA AT GEORGIA TECH (ACC). UNC needs to win just to stay on the right side of the bubble.

-SAINT JOSEPH’S AT DAYTON (Atlantic Ten). Dayton is outside the bubble, and will fall out of consideration entirely if they don’t get it turned around quickly.

-FORDHAM AT VCU (Atlantic Ten). VCU shouldn’t have too much trouble picking up this conference win.

-LA SALLE AT GEORGE WASHINGTON (Atlantic Ten). Despite having an unimpressive record, La Salle has played well lately, and really let one get away against VCU in their last game. GW appears to be safely in the field, but they better not overlook La Salle in this one.

-TOLEDO AT MIAMI OH (MAC). At 17-2, Toledo may play their way onto the bubble if they win out.
-RICHMOND AT SAINT LOUIS (Atlantic Ten). SLU is solidly in the field, and Richmond is right on the bubble. This would be a huge statement win for the Spiders and put them on the right side of the bubble if they can pull this off. I’d go so far to say this is one of those make or break games, although a loss wouldn’t entirely break the Spiders.

-GREEN BAY AT VALPO (Horizon League). Green Bay will be in good shape for a bid if they keep winning.

-INDIANA STATE AT SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (Missouri Valley). Indiana State needs to hold serve in games like this, and pick up a win against Wichita if they want to get any serious consideration.

-ARIZONA AT STANFORD (Pac Twelve). Arizona State can remain unbeaten and on pace for a #1 seed. Stanford is on the bubble, so this would be a tremendously huge win for them.

-SYRACUSE AT WAKE FOREST (ACC). Syracuse has a great profile, but if you look at their true road games, they don’t have a true road win that is as impressive as this would probably be. I know it’s not a game that people are excited for, but Wake is unbeaten at home.

-IOWA STATE AT KANSAS (Big Twelve). Iowa State is really good, but they’re not #1 seed caliber good. I believe Kansas is, and they’re playing at home.

-NORTHWESTERN AT WISCONSIN (Big Ten). Northwestern has been playing better lately, but they’re likely to be way overmatched tonight.

-FLORIDA STATE AT NC STATE (ACC). FSU’s margin for error is getting smaller and smaller, so they need to approach road games like this one with a sense of urgency.

-ARIZONA STATE AT CALIFORNIA (Pac Twelve). I believe Cal is inside the bubble, but they sure don’t always play like they belong there. Arizona State has a lot of work to do and really needs some road wins like this one.

-GONZAGA AT SANTA CLARA (West Coast). Gonzaga’s profile is weak, so their margin for error is small.

Small Conference Game of the Day – January 29, 2014

Last season, the SCGD brought us a Civil War history lesson as the Crowley’s Ridge Pioneers from Paragould, Arkansas — a school with an enrollment right around 300 — took on Eastern Kentucky.  On May 1-2, 1863, Union Brigadier General Vandever was repulsed in his attempt to prevent Confederate General Marmaduke from crossing the St. Francis River, though Marmaduke’s forces suffered considerable losses.  This battle, called the Battle of Chalf Bluff, took place right near Paragould.

Tonight, we revisit our friends at Crowley’s Ridge College (“the college that feels like home” according to their website), as this National Christian College Athletic Association member travels to Edwardsville, Illinois to take on another OVC opponent, the SIU-Edwardsville Cougars (8:00 PM Eastern, live streaming at ovcsports.com).  Crowley’s Ridge enters tonight’s game at 9-9 on the season.  However, they are coming off an 86-84 loss to Champion Baptist…the same Champion Baptist team that lost to Southern University 116-12 earlier this season.

SIU-E is 7-14 on the season so far, but 4-4 in OVC play, good enough for second place in the conference’s West Division (of course the two best teams, Belmont and Eastern Kentucky, both play in the East).  SIU-E’s ratings are not very good at all, with sub-300 RPI and BPI numbers, and a KenPom rating that barely breaks into the top 300.  They did, however, hand West Division leader Murray State their lone OVC loss on the season on January 18.

The Cougars do need to be ready for Crowley’s Ridge’s big men tonight.  The Pioneers had a huge presence down low last season against EKU in 7’0″ 320 pound Skylor Guess.  This season they have added 6’11” 319 pound freshman Richard Forshee to the mix, giving them a pair of monster-sized players in the middle.

By the way, if you want to attend Crowley’s Ridge and play hoops for them, you can still sign up for the team on their website.  Just follow this link:  http://www.crc.edu/index.php/athletics-at-crc/basketball-mens/basketball-signup-form

Small Conference Game of the Day – January 28

Small Conference Game of the Day

What is a “Small Conference Team”?  Typically, that has meant a team from one of the 20+ conferences that only put a single team into the NCAA tournament.  However, through the years, the SCGD has made exceptions — has taken teams that otherwise claim to be “Major Conference Teams” and graduated them down.

Tonight’s SCGD is between two teams that have, over the past 5 years, averaged barely two true road wins per season.  A team that cannot win on the road should not receive any serious consideration for the NCAA tournament.  And a team that gets 2 or less true road wins per season clearly has some serious problems.  This is why both teams in tonight’s SCGD clearly belong here.  Tonight’s game, of course, is Missouri at Arkansas, 7:00 PM Eastern, ESPNU.

Missouri enters tonight’s game having already scored two road victories on the season.  Other than 2012, when Mizzou had 6 true road wins, the Tigers could equal their highest total of road victories since 2010 with a road win tonight.  Arkansas has been even worse on the road than Missouri, without a single true road win yet this year and only having picked up one such win each of the last two seasons.  Of course, when trying to figure out this history of road struggles, it becomes necessary to look for a common denominator between the two teams.  And there is one.  Mike Anderson, head coach of Arkansas since 2011-12, when he came over form Missouri.  Mike Anderson, who since leaving UAB eight years ago, has only had one season where he won more than 3 road games.  Mike Anderson…who the SCGD is officially crowning as college basketball’s #1 home court hero.

By the way…don’t bother watching the game tonight.  Without stepping on the court, Arkansas has already won.