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    Sorting out the Big East

    by Ken Pomeroy on Sunday, February 27, 2005


    It used to be that the tournament committee would use conference record as a handy tool to separate bubble teams within the same conference. It made sense - the team that does better in a group of 16 to 18 common games has proven to be better.

    But that was before we had mega-conferences and the imbalanced schedules that come with them. Of the power conferences, only the Pac-10 still employs a balanced schedule. In 2005, when it's time to evaluate bubble teams within a conference, it not only matters who was on a team's out-of-league schedule, but also who they played within their conference.

    The Big East schedule uses an NFL-style parity system. For television purposes, good teams (as judged before the season) play other good teams more often than the bottom-feeders. With Notre Dame's loss to UCLA on Sunday, there are four teams in the conference whose at-large…

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    Block Percentage

    by Ken Pomeroy on Thursday, February 24, 2005


    I'll admit it. I am in love with blocked shots. Dominating shot blockers are rare, and teams that have one seem to be very good defensively as a team. But this was just my subjective opinion until today, when we can look at (on the stats page) how often each of the 330 D1 teams rejects the opposition.

    block percentage = (blocked shots) / (opponents' field goal attempts)

    Block percentage is the percentage of an opponent's shots a team blocks. Sure enough, this stat correlates well to a good defense - better than turnover percentage, anyway. Among the top 30 in block percentage are seven of the top 15 defenses in the nation. None of the top 15 defenses can be found in the bottom 129 of this stat. Not surprisingly, UConn dominates this metric, sending back one shot for every seven the opposition attempts.

    As usual, there…

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    Wacked Out Wednesday

    I've had a love-hate relationship with West Virginia all season. More like a love-ignore relationship. I forecasted good things for them before the season. I founded the D'Or Fischer fan club after the 10-0 start. Then I sheepishly had to abandon the Mountaineers (and the game diary concept) after it became apparent they were a team that relied on the jump shot, but didn't have enough guys who could make one.

    The Mountaineers came back from the dead on Wednesday - both in the game they played and for the season. They overcame a 14-point deficit with ten minutes left to win at #18 Pittsburgh. Simultaneously, nearly every other bubble team in action lost - and a few of them suffered crippling defeats that should forever take them out of the at-large discussion.

    Miami of Ohio, Georgia Tech, Old Dominion, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, George Washington, Memphis,…

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    Coach of the Year…Again?

    by Ken Pomeroy on Wednesday, February 23, 2005


    What do you do when the national coach of the year does a better coaching job the next season? Well, you don't make him coach of the year, that we know. It's just not possible. But there are certain honors one can receive that exceed what any group of sportswriters can bestow. One of those is being the recipient of a John Chaney temper tantrum.

    After cruising to a 63-56 win at Temple's Liacouras Center, Saint Joseph's sports a lofty 12-1 record in conference play. The Hawks are in position to make a run at a dance bid by winning what could be a winner-take-all A-10 Tournament. Not bad for a team that started 3-6. (Memo to coaches who avoid scheduling challenging games in November and December to "build confidence": Apparently it is possible to suffer non-conference losses without killing one's confidence.)

    So how has Martelli done it this season?…

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    Bubble Wrap

    by Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday, February 22, 2005


    Half-heartedly, I provide another look at the bubble. I'm getting the impression that folks out there care as little as I do. Last week I left Saint Mary's off the bubble list and received no complaints, despite the fact that nearly every other projection has them in.

    The Gaels have two top 100 wins to go with five losses outside the top 100, and there aren't any more good wins to be had before a possible date with Gonzaga in the WCC championship. It's an ugly portfolio, but I suppose being the second place team in the seventh best conference will count for something.

    I've dropped one team from the lock list I produced last week:

    Wichita State - suffered their third loss in a row by losing at Miami Ohio on Saturday. None of the three losses are horrible, but collectively they mean WSU must win this Saturday…

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    High Five

    by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, February 21, 2005


    The five most interesting games from the weekend:

    5) Old Dominion 82, William & Mary 66. The game itself wasn't particularly noteworthy. However, in the midst of Bracket Buster Saturday, one of the nation's hottest mid-majors, ODU, was stuck playing a conference game against a team around 300 in the RPI.

    4) Arizona 91, Oregon State 70. Lute Olson has been rather aggressive in promoting Salim Stoudamire as the best three-point shooter in the nation. The question shouldn't be whether Stoudamire is the best shooter in the nation, but whether he's the best since the three point line was instituted in 1987. And Lute Olson is the expert on this one. After Stoudamire's 9-for-14 performance against the Beavers, he's sitting at 56.0% on the season. The NCAA record (minimum 100 made) is held by Steve Kerr at 57.3%.

    3) Belmont 81, Campbell 63. The bad news is Campbell drops to…

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    Opponents’ Three Point Production

    by Ken Pomeroy on Friday, February 18, 2005


    It's been hard to get motivated to update the stats page this morning.

    First, there is the matter of Ike Diogu hitting his 200th free throw of the season in Arizona State's 75-73 win over Oregon State last night. Diogu squandered an opportunity to pad his total by missing seven of his 15 attempts.

    Ike looks like he will come up short in his effort to topple the alleged modern-day record of 272 free throws established by Alonzo Mourning. With ASU on course for an NIT bid, he may get some bonus games to give 'Zo a scare. But he probably will set a new Pac 10 record, which he also set last season with 243. With NBA scouts still cool on his pro potential, maybe Diogu will be back next season to give it another try.

    -

    The other big news was that the alma mater…

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    The Year of the Mid Major

    by Ken Pomeroy on Thursday, February 17, 2005


    You're starting to hear it more and more. Oh, how those power conferences have really fallen. Finally, the little guy will get his revenge. The Chinese recently celebrated the Year of the Rooster and college hoops observers are starting to hail the Year of the Catamounts, Salukis, and Monarchs.

    These statements have been driven in large part by the RPI - an RPI that changed its formula this season. Hey look, Vermont is in the top 20! Pacific is in the top 25! Hoo-rah! The RPI now favors teams from outside the power conferences, that should be obvious. But measuring teams by a new formula is akin to someone measuring themselves in pounds one day and kilograms the next and concluding that their diet is really working.

    In a sense, it doesn't matter whether the power conferences are really worse this year, they are going to be less represented in…

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    No-Hitters

    by Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday, February 15, 2005


    When you don't have anything to say, let the readers say it for you...

    Ken,

    Just saw your column commenting on Seth Davis saying Illinois "needed" a loss. Someone should ask Seth how teams with 1 loss have won since undefeated IU. Based on the teams I read about in the Final Four program in '97 and the fact that there have been none since then, I'd say not well. So I guess you need 2 losses.

    Alan

    This is so very true. Folks are obsessed with going unbeaten, but there hasn't been a one-loss champion since '76, either. There have been 17 teams to enter the dance with one loss from '77 to '04, and all of them came up short. Only three went so far as the Final Four, and only '99 Duke made it to the finals. So the evidence would seem to point against the utility…

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    Bubble Wrap

    Begrudgingly, I submit my look at the at-large picture. In my patented piecemeal approach, I am adding bubble teams this week. This is probably more for my benefit than yours, so if you think I've missed something - maybe I have! Drop me a line to let me know.

    I've had to ax three teams from the lock list I produced last week.

    Texas - The reasons for the removal of Texas from this list were given last week in this space. Texas is still limping badly, evidenced by an overtime home win against Kansas State last Saturday, when the Longhorns went 11 for 20 from three. They are totally at the mercy of bombs and excellent defense from here on out.

    Minnesota - Individually, a home loss to Northwestern or a road loss to Indiana are not back-breakers. But together they hurt a lot, especially since…

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