It's almost March... so it's time for more college basketball conference previews!
Pitt, Sag #4, kenpom offense #4, kenpom defense #20, 1st in conference at 13-2, 25-3
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Texas, Maryland, Duquesne, Georgetown, Villanova, Syracuse
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Tennessee, Notre Dame, St. John's
3P% - 38.3%, 3Pt defense - 33.6%, Reb. Margin = +11.4, FT 66.3%, FG 47.5%, Opp. FG 40.1% –
Excellent resume, certain contender.
Led by Ashton Gibbs (6'2" junior, 16.4 ppg, 46.6% 3p%), Wanamaker (6'4" senior, 12.3 ppg, 5 assists, 5 rebs, 36.6% 3p%), and the big man is McGhee (6'10" senior, 7.3 ppg, 7.8 rebs, 1.4 blocks, 57% FG% (ken pom has him as a top-25 rebounder, and top-100 blocker)). Notably, Gibbs, the PG, missed 3 games with an MCL injury. During those 3 games, Pitt beat W. Va by 5, Nova by 3, and So. Florida. They then lost by 1 to St. John's when he returned. This team is certainly a team to consider for going far in the tourney.
Notre Dame, Sag #12, kenpom offense #7, kenpom defense #73, 2nd in conference at 11-4, 22-5
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Georgetown, Pitt, Louisville
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Kentucky, Syracuse, Marquette, St Johns, W. Va
3P% - 37.7%, 3Pt defense - 36.0% (rank: 245), Reb. Margin = +4.8, FT 72.8%, FG 46.1%, Opp. FG 41.3% –
Notre Dame has had a great season out and in-conference. They play poor defense though. They are led by Ben Hnasbrough (6'3" senior, 17.9 ppg, 4 assists, 42% 3p%, 47% FG%), and Tim Abromaitis (6'8" senior, 14.6 ppg, 6.2 rebs, 40% 3p%, 45% FG%) and their big man is Carleton scott (6'7" senior, 11.5 ppg, 7.2 rebs, 1.8 blocks, 37% 3p%, 47% FG%).
So... if you like seniors, and a team that can purely outscore another team, this is a great team to cheer for. They play poor defense though, which is a concern, though we would need to look more into who they have defenseive breakdowns against.
Louisville, Sag #14, kenpom offense #43, kenpom defense #13, 3rd in conference at 10-5, 21-7
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Butler, Syracuse, W. Va., UConn (twice)
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Drexel!, Kentucky, Villanova, Providence!, Cincy
3P% - 36.9%, 3Pt defense - 31.8% (rank: 49), Reb. Margin = +0.9, FT 66.0%, FG 45.9%, Opp. FG 40.1% –
This is another team that wasn't expected to do much, but has done surprisingly well. They are led by 6'1" senior Preston Knowles (14.5 ppg, 3.7 rebs, 40% 3p%, 38% FG%) and Siva (5'11" soph, 10.2 ppg, 5.0 assists) and Jennings is the big man (6'9" junior, 9.7 pts, 5.3 rebs, 1.9 blocks, 54% FG%). Interstingly, Knowles and Siva are both excellent at creating steals (1.9 and 2.2 per game respectively). However, this team doesn't do well in rebounding. Should be an interesting team to watch, since they clearly live on the 3-pointers with 3 other guys aside from Knowles shoting over 40% per game.
St. John's, Sag #25, kenpom offense #58, kenpom defense #22, 3rd in conference at 10-5, 18-9
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Georgetown, Notre Dame, Duke, Pitt, UConn
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: St. Mary's, St. Bonaventure, Fordham!, UCLA, Cincy (split)
3P% - 33.0%, 3Pt defense - 36.4% (rank: 267), Reb. Margin = -0.5, FT 71.0%, FG 45.7%, Opp. FG 42.9% –
This has been my favorite team to follow in the scores all season. They've beaten 4 top-10 teams! They've also lost to two awful teams and St. Mary's, but that's before they started playing like mad men. This team was supposed to do nothing, but new coach Steve Lavin (former UCLA coach from 7 years ago) has them playing possessed. Also... this team has 10 seniors. Yes, TEN. How does that happen? Well, they had 10 juniors last season, but in 2008-2009 they "only" had 8 sophomores. That's because Hardy (JUCO transfer) and Brownlee (JUCO transfer) were added. In 2007-2008, they "only" had 7 freshmen, one of them being Rob Thomas who had a knee injury wipe him out for the 2006-2007 season (see page 52 of the media guide). I think this all stems back to 2003-2004, when due to a number of infractions, St. John's lost 7 of 15 players (along with most of the games).
Anyways, back to this team. Hardy has been awesome (6'2" senior, 17.3 ppg, 44.8% FG%, 34.8% 3p%). Brownlee (6'7" senior, 12.1 ppg, 5.1 rebs, 49.8% FG%) and Kennedy (6'6" senior, 10.5ppg, 5.7 rebs46.8 % FG%). They aren't big (they have a NEGATIVE rebounding margin!). It's really all about Hardy, going off some nights and the factd that they have a balanced attack. Let's be clear here though, they have no great 3-point shooters, they play poor defense... but they somehow win games (especially against good teams). It's puzzling, fascinating, and I can't wait to see who they get in the tourney, because a story about 10 seniors banding together and beating all expectations, is just an irresistable story.
Syracuse, Sag #11, kenpom offense #20, kenpom defense #19, 5th in conference at 10-6, 23-6
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Michigan, Mich St, Notre Dame, Villanova, UConn
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Pitt, Nova, Seton Hall, Marq, Georgetown, Louisville
3P% - 34.3%, 3Pt defense - 32.0%, Reb. Margin = +4.1, FT 65.8%, FG 46.7%, Opp. FG 39.2% –
This Syracuse team runs the zone defense well of course. They went through a bit of a lull but are playing better of late. They have a balanced attack led by Kris Joseph (6'7" junior, 14.7 ppg, 5 rebs, 37% 3p%), Rick Jackson (6'9" senior, 13.1 ppg, 11 rebs (ranked in the top 100 rebounders and blockers on kenpom), 58.8% FG%), Scoop Jardine (6'2" junior, 12.4 ppg, 5.9 assists, 33% 3p%), and Brandon Triche (6'4" sophomore, 11.4 ppg, 32% 3p%!). I think this team is intriguing at least.
Georgetown, Sag #10, kenpom offense #11, kenpom defense #48, 5th in conference at 10-6, 21-7
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Old Dominion, Missouri, Villanova, Louisville, Syracuse,
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Temple, St. John's, W. Va, Cincy, UConn
3P% - 37.5% (rank: 48), 3Pt defense - 32.7%, Reb. Margin = +2.9, FT 73.4%, FG 48.9%, Opp. FG 41.6% –
**The #1 issue with this team is that their PG, Chris Wright (6'1" senior, 13.1 ppg, 5.4 assists), is injured and may not return in time for March Madness. This issue should be checked on between now and the tourney.
Georgetown is a small team focused on three guards, one of which, Wright, who is injured. Austin Freeman (6'3" senior, 17.8 ppg, 40.6 3p%, 50.8% FG%) is the main cog, and the third man is Jason Clark (6'2" junior, 12 ppg, 4 rebs, 37.4% 3p%). The only big men are Vaughn (6'9" senior, 6.3 rebs, 2 blocks) and 6'7" Hollis Thompson (4.4 rebs). So... when healthy, they have a lot of guards, but they are a small team and will get destroyed on the inside.
Villanova, Sag #16, kenpom offense #17, kenpom defense #31, 7th in conference at 9-6, 21-7
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: UCLA, Temple, Cincy, Louisville, Maryland, Syracuse,
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Tennessee, Providence, Rutgers, Uconn, Georgetown, PPitt
3P% - 34.6%, 3Pt defense - 29.6% (rank: 10), Reb. Margin = +6.1, FT 76.2%, FG 44.2%, Opp. FG 39.7% –
This team looks great on paper... but they have now lost 7 of their last 12 (and 4 of their last 6). They only have Notre Dame and Pitt left. I'm actually worried for how far this slide is going to hurt them. They are led by the 6'1" senior PG Corey Fisher (16ppg, 36% 3p%, 43% FG%, 5 asssits, 2.4 TOs) and 6'5" senior Corey Stokes (15ppg, 42% 3pointers). Their big men are Pena (6'8" senior, 7.5 rebs) and a 6'10" sophomore, Yarou (7.2 rebs). So... three of their best players are seniors. This team just needs to get its shit together, because on paper, it has all the tools it needs.
Cincy, Sag #15, kenpom offense #65, kenpom defense #8, 7th in conference at 9-6, 22-6
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Xavier, St Johns (split), Louisville, Georgtown
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Nova, Syracuse, ND, W. Va, Pitt, St Johns (split)
3P% - 34.4%, 3Pt defense - 31.8% (rank 38), Reb. Margin = +4.6, FT 65.8%, FG 43.3%, Opp. FG 40.8% –
They, along with W. VA, and Marquette, will be on the bubble until the end of the Big East tourney. This Cincy team only has the out-of-conference victory over Xavier, and then whatever they could get in the conference. They have no go-to-guy - with 5 guys averagin between 8.5 ppg, and 11.2 ppg! They seem to be sloppy with the ball, but shoot poorly, and play great defense to end up with some close games. They are ranked so highly in Sagarin right now, mainly because of the conference they are in, so it will be interesting to see where they are slotted. I wouldn't trust them at all if they made the tourney.
W. Virginia, Sag #20, kenpom offense #27, kenpom defense #35, 8th in conference at 8-7, 17-10
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Oakland, Duquesne, Cleve St, Purdue, Georgetown, ND
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Minnesota, Miami (FL), Marq, Marshall, Louisville,
3P% - 33.7%, 3Pt defense - 28.6% (rank: 6), Reb. Margin = +2.6, FT 69.6%, FG 43.2%, Opp. FG 41.1% –
This team has been interesting. They played a soft out of conference schedule. They somehow are great at stopping 3-pointers, but are not strong inside. They will probably be on the bubble until the end as well. They are led by Casey Mitchell (15.1 ppg, 38.7% 3p%, 6'2" junior) and Kevin Jones (12.6ppg, 6.9 rebs, 43% FG%, 6'8" junior).
UConn, Sag #17, kenpom offense #37, kenpom defense #32, 8th in conference at 8-7, 20-7
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: Kentucky, Mich St, Texas, Tennessee, Georgetown
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Pitt, Louisville (twice), Syracuse, St Johns, Marq
3P% - 33.5%, 3Pt defense - 32.5%, Reb. Margin = +4.4, FT 73.1%, FG 42.7%, Opp. FG 39.2% –
They are led by 6'1" junior Kemba Walker. Walker averages a ridiculous 23 ppg, but on an awful 42.5% FG%, 35.5% 3pointers. He also chips in 5.3 rebs and 4.5 rebs. The 2nd option is Oriakhi, a 6'9" sophomore, averaging 10.4 ppg, 8.7 reb, 2.0 blocks. UConn is a strange team, as they weren't expected to even be good this year, but Kemba Walker played out of his mind to help them beat Kentucky, Mich St, Texas, and Tennessee out of conference. They have been stubmling of late, so they may be falling back down to earth. In the end, I'm not sure if Kemba Walker all on his own can really take them that far in the tourney, now that there's so much tape from the Big East on how to stop him. It's not like he can sneak up on people, as he kind of did at the start of the season.
Marquette, Sag #29, kenpom offense #14, kenpom defense #67, 8th in conference at 8-7, 17-11
Non-conference wins & key conference wins: W. Va, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Uconn (split)
Non-conference losses & key conference losses: Duke, Gonzaga, Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, St. John's, Georgetown
3P% - 35.3%, 3Pt defense - 34.9%, Reb. Margin = +2.5, FT 69.3%, FG 47.6%, Opp. FG 44.2% (ouch!) –
This team is still a bubble team, and will be all the way through the Big East Tourney, despite the great Sagarin ranking. Their numbers are not that great in any department, especially defensively. They are led by Johnson-Odom, a 6'2" junior, 16ppg, who shoots 35.6% from 3-point land and J. Butler, a 6'7" senior, 15.6 ppg, 6.2 rebs, 49% FG%.