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Posted on: March 2, 2012 4:56 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 5:01 pm
 

Is there a three-way POY chase?

By Matt Norlander

No matter who you think should be college basketball's player of the year, if you're a fan of the game, I think it's undeniable: Draymond Green is so, so much fun to watch. When you stop and think about it, isn't he the best big man with the most diverse weaponry in his game to wear a Michigan State jersey since Magic Johnson?

Green is a point forward, essentially. He does things for this team, and has skills at the 1/2/3/4/5 that nobody -- nobody -- in college basketball has. That inherently makes him unique, and I suspect Tom Izzo is thankful for every second he has remaining with Green at his disposal. He's not only reliable, he's impossible to gameplan against because you can take away what he does best, or second-best, or third-best, and he'll still be able to help his team in five or six other ways. It's because of this that he's even in the conversation for Player of the Year.

But should he be? At first reaction, I thought so. Jeff Eisenberg put up a comparison post using traditional, tempo stats on The Dagger Wednesday. It was only between Thomas Robinson and Anthony Davis. "Where's Day-Day?" I asked upon seeing the piece. Chris Vannini, who has spent the past four years covering Michigan State, thought the same. And then I realized I was automatically judging Green's value to Michigan State vs. his ability as a player. Without him, is Michigan State an NCAA tournament team? I question that it is.

That's the ever-lasting argument: value to a team vs. actual ability/talent and achievement that's been displayed in a given year. Without Anthony Davis, Kentucky is still very good. It doesn't make him nearly as valuable to the Wildcats as Green is to Michigan State and Thomas Robinson is to Kansas.

In talking Player of the Year, we're talking the latter part of that debate above. I hope voters are aware of that. It's not a valuable award, it's a talent+achievement award. From that combination's standpoint, unfortunately, Green is not in the same class with the two men who are a virtual length-of-a-nose race for Player of the Year. I'm talking numbers here; from a visual perspective, again, it's a blast to watch Draymond. I think when he scores 29 and his team is still not even sniffing a win against Indiana, that's a double-edged result.

The following data was used compiling as-of-today statistics at Statsheet.com (Player Efficiency Ratings and KenPom.com. And fortunately, all statistics are measured through exactly 30 games for each player. Stats need to be judged against schedule strength too, in my opinion. As a backdrop, here's the KenPom.com overall SOS for each player:

Robinson: No. 3
Green: No. 4
Davis: No. 60



Davis' O Rating is absolutely absurd. And take note that I'm using one grid as a background for all data comparisons, so Davis' lofty PER and block numbers look small here, but in fact are nearly as stupid as his adjusted offensive rating.

Here's how it spreadsheets out. Notice how frequently Green is third in these dozens valuable categoriges. His only advantage is when it comes to passing, wher he is clearly as far ahead in that category as any other player is in any other. He makes teammates better, which speaks more to value than his overall achievement profile, but it's still plenty noteworthy.



Green's had a great, great year so far, but he's going up against an all-time shot-block/freak in Davis and a relentless, superior rebounder and scorer in Robinson. I think, at this point, POY is out of Green's reach, even if he's deserving to be in the conversation. From a numbers standpoint, he's a notch below. It's not his fault. If he put up these numbers last year, against Jimmer, it would actually be a really intriguing race.

No matter. Green's still incredible to watch, just as valuable to his team as Robinson, and more diversified in his game -- even though his ceiling are lower -- than Davis. Michigan State won't get to the Final Four without him, and while any coach would love/marry/kill to have Robinson or Davis on their roster, Green is woven into the fabric of his team's scheme as much as any player in the country.
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:12 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 1:33 pm
 

What-to-know tourney previews: Summit League

Leagues like the CAA and Missouri Valley have and will continue to get a lot of rightful pub and optimism about their tournaments this season.

The Summit League's bracket should be just as good.

When it comes to mid-major tournaments, really good teams and very dazzling players, the Summit boasts all in spades. It starts with Dominique Morrison, the league's player of the year who suits up for Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles, a mainstay in the CBSSports.com Non-BCS Power Pyramid this season, is a group that went 17-1 in the regular season and has won 20 of its last 21 games. Oral Bobs is one of the best shooting teams in college basketball, putting up an effective field goal percentage of 54.2

ORU's only loss in-conference? At South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits have Nate Wolters, a junior point guard who does it all. Naters Gonna Nate. You know it well if you've followed the blog all season long. This is where it gets interesting. The site of the Summit conference tournament this year is Sioux Falls, S.D., meaning SDSU could and should have a home-court feel to it.

Morrison or Wolters getting to the tournament would be huge for the league. Both players are very capable of scoring 30 points and capturing a nation's attention on a Thursday or Friday afternoon or evening. Wolters does it all; he's a point guard, but the fact he can score in bunches doesn't indicate he's tunnel-visioned about it. His points come within the flow of the offense, and he's not turning the ball over much, either.

If you want an unfamiliar team with a good chance to steal a game, ORU or South Dakota State are the teams to root for. But third-place Oakland, which has point guard Reggie Hamilton -- also a fantastic player -- was in the NCAAs last year and gave Texas one of the most entertaining games on the first Friday of tournament play.

Nate Wolters has the ability to carry his team to a win over a big boy in the big bracket. (AP)
Beyond that, we could have some shakeups with fourth-place North Dakota State, fifth-place Western Illinois and No. 6 Southern Utah, but those teams don't have nearly the depth -- or offense to win three games in Sioux Falls. The top three seeds are all-top 30 offenses.

Also, if you want more information on this, we can't implore you enough to check this out.

****

TOURNAMENT BRACKET

Schedule: March 3-6

Title game: Tuesday, March 6 (9 ET ESPN2)

BEST PLAYERS

  1. Nate Wolters, South Dakota State
  2. Reggie Hamilton, Oakland
  3. Dominique Morrison, Oral Roberts
  4. Alex Young, IUPUI
  5. Frank Gaines, Purdue-Fort Wayne

Conference RPI: 16

KenPom.com rating: 18

Sagarin rating: 18

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None

Last NCAA Tournament Appearances:

  • Oakland: 2011, 13 seed, lost 85-81 to Texas in first round
  • Oral Roberts: 2008, 13 seed, lost 82-64 to Pittsburgh in first round
  • IUPUI: 2003, 16 seed, lost to Kentucky in first round
  • IPFW: N/A
  • South Dakota State: N/A
  • UMKC: N/A
  • North Dakota State: 2009, 16 seed, lost Kansas in first round
  • Southern Utah: 2001, 14 seed, lost to Boston College in first round
  • Western Illinois: N/A
  • South Dakota: N/A

--Matt Norlander

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 2, 2012 11:53 am
Edited on: March 2, 2012 12:43 pm
 

Southern Illinois parts ways with Lowery

By Jeff Goodman

Chris Lowery was one of the hottest names in the country just a few years ago. Now Southern Illinois has decided to part ways with its head coach. 

A news conference is scheduled for Friday at 3:30 p.m. 

Sources have told CBSSports.com that Lowery was fired Friday after eight years that produced a 145-116 record. The Salukis went to three NCAA tournaments in Lowery's first three seasons but have struggled over the past four seasons and failed to reach the postseason each time. Southern Illinois was 8-23 this season. The Salukis lost Thursday night to Indiana State in the opening round of the Missouri Valley conference tournament. 

Lowery, 39, had two years remaining on a seven-year contract worth more than $5 million.

A source told CBSSports.com that SIU will target Illinois' Bruce Weber if Illinois parts ways with its coach after this season. The Illini have lost seven of their past eight games, which has brought Weber's job security into question. Weber coached Southern Illinois from 1998-2003.

Posted on: March 2, 2012 11:15 am
Edited on: March 2, 2012 11:18 am
 

Wake Forest dismisses senior Ty Walker

By Jeff Borzello

Wake Forest senior Ty Walker missed the first nine games of the season after being suspended for the first semester.

Walker will now also miss the final game of the season and the ACC tournament after being dismissed from the Demon Deacons for a violation of rules.

“Unfortunately it has become necessary to suspend Ty Walker indefinitely for a violation of departmental policy,” head coach Jeff Bzdelik said, according to the Winston Salem-Journal.

Walker is a 7-footer who came out of high school with a lot of promise. He never truly lived up to that reputation, peaking this season during the 20 games he was on the floor. Walker averaged 4.2 points and 4.6 rebounds, but did rank near the top of the ACC in blocked shots, at 2.6 per game.

Walker had been suspended in early September for violation the student conduct code. He will remain in school and is expected to graduate in May.

Posted on: March 2, 2012 10:48 am
 

Today's Specials: Tourneys take center stage

Murray State won two close games against Tennessee Tech during the season. Can Tech upset the Racers on Friday? (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Quite a diverse schedule on the docket for Friday. The Mid-American and Ivy are still in the regular season, eight conferences are in the midst of tournament there’s a top-25 Big East team in action too.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: Tennessee Tech vs. No. 12 Murray State (7 p.m., ESPNU). Outside of the Racers, Tennessee Tech might have the most talent in the Ohio Valley. The duo of Kevin Murphy and Jud Dillard combine to average nearly 39 points per game, and they combined for 42 in the quarterfinals win over SEMO. Murray State won the two regular-season meetings by a combined 13 points. The key could be free throws; Murray State had a 66-38 advantage in the first two games.

Second-best game: Akron at Kent State (7 p.m., ESPN2). A showdown in the MAC between two of the league’s perennial powers. Akron can clinch the outright title with a win on Friday night, while Kent has a chance to tie for second-place with a victory in the finale. Akron won the first meeting by nine points, having one of its better offensive performances of the season. For Kent State, the key will be contesting shots and keeping Akron from getting easy looks inside the arc.

Another one to watch: Butler vs. Milwaukee (8:30 p.m., ESPN3). The Horizon League has a wide-open conference tournament this season, and these two teams have the pieces to make a run and get the automatic bid. The two teams split the regular-season meetings 1-1, with each team winning on its homecourt. Both teams play very good defense, with Milwaukee defending the arc closely and Butler preferring to control the glass and interior.

Guaranteed win: The Ivy League race took a surprising turn last weekend when Penn knocked off Harvard in Cambridge. The two teams are now tied in the loss column at the top of the standings. Both teams should get wins on Friday night, though, as Penn hosts Brown (7 p.m.) and Harvard visits Columbia (7 p.m.).

Potential upset: The Atlantic Sun had its first upset on Thursday, but the fun might continue on Friday. No. 6 Florida Gulf Coast handled No. 3 USC-Upstate by 10 points despite star freshman guard Brett Comer struggling from the field and turning it over five times. Can the Eagles knock off No. 2 seed Mercer at home (8:30 p.m., ESPN3). FGCU can score in different ways, and Mercer has had trouble keeping teams off the glass. Belmont faces East Tennessee State in the other semifinal (6 p.m., ESPN3). 

Three things to keep an eye on:

  • Conferences with tournament action on Friday: Southern, CAA, Missouri Valley, Horizon, MAAC, Ohio Valley, WCC and Atlantic Sun. The best set of games to keep an eye on could be the Missouri Valley quarterfinals. Only one team finished below .500 in the league, and it will be interesting to see if Wichita State and Creighton both survive.
  • BYU likely needs to get to the WCC title game to feel good about an at-large bid. That means the Cougars can’t lose to San Diego on Friday night (11 p.m.).
  • There’s another top-25 team playing Friday: No. 20 Notre Dame is hosting Providence in the season finale for both teams (7 p.m., ESPN3). The Irish want a double-bye in the Big East tourney, while PC is looking for its third win in a row.
More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 2, 2012 10:26 am
Edited on: March 2, 2012 10:28 am
 

Podcast: The best coaches, the hottest teams

Bruce Weber and Illinois are not a best coach or a hot team, but they are subject to debate on today's pod. (Getty Images)

By Matt Norlander


After months of waiting, it was time. One of the smart, creative basketball minds who'd never appeared on this podcast finally has. He's Dan Hanner, and he's a treat. Hanner formerly ran Yet Another Basketball Blog, but these days, when he's not economizing things as an economist, he's providing insightful information over at RealGM.com. Today's podcast touches on a few of his recent articles. Read this and this to get a good background of what we delve into. It's not all stats, though, as you'll see listen.

And please, follow Dan on Twitter.

Topics:
  • From the beginning: Introducing Dan.
  • 1:48: Being an Illinois grad, what's that like? Only Dan can tell us. And then we feel sorry for Bruce Weber because, these days, it's the thing to do.
  • 5:40: The Selection Committee no longer values final 12 games at all. Shouldn't it? Dan makes the case, and I agree.
  • 7:31: Recruiting and development. Here's where we get a bit wonky, as there are ways to chart how a coach recruits his classes and uses them. Who's getting the most out of their players? John Calipari tops the list, but Ben Howland is actually doing quite well, too.
  • 15:55: As we slam into Championship Week, which teams have been trending up/down since February began? There are a few surprises.
  • 19:30: Time to get gooey about our early memories of college basketball, specifically this month. I wrote about that yesterday, too.
  • 28:07: Pod wrap-up relates to how teams change over the course of a season and why injuries and their effects are sometimes overblown.

Again, I thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast -- whenever you can. I ask that you, if you like what we're doing here, encourage like-minded hoopheads to subscribe in Tunes as well. Guests like Jay Bilas, Seth Davis, they're the guys who make me sound better and make the podcast worthwhile. The other guys? Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman, they really make it entertaining, and of course you can count on our trio show each Wednesday. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.


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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 2, 2012 9:18 am
 

What-to-know tourney previews: Big Sky

It was Montana and Weber State neck-and-neck all season. 

Then Wayne Tinkle's Grizzlies knocked off Weber State in the regular-season finale to give Montana its first outright league title since 1991-92. That means the league semis and title game will be in Missoula, Montana.

It also means Weber State star Damian Lillard will have his work cut of for him in order to play in the NCAA tourney.

Montana comes into the postseason tourney on a 12-game winning streak. The Griz returned four starters from last year's squad that came up short against Northern Colorado in the Big Sky championship game.

Weber State has the top player in the league in Lillard and also arguably the elite point guard in the nation, but Randy Rahe's team will have to likely get past a third-seeded Portland State team that is led by the duo of Charles Odum and Chehales Tapscott in the semis. That's no easy task.

I've got to admit, though. I'm rooting for a Montana-Weber State title game. The last time that happened it was a game to remember, when ex-Griz guard Anthony Johnson went for 42 points to knock off Weber in Ogden.

The NCAA tournament loves a player and star like Damian Lillard. But Montana could get in the way. (US Presswire)

****

TOURNAMENT BRACKET

Schedule: March 3-7

Title game: Wednesday, March 7 (7 p.m. MT on ESPN2)

BEST PLAYERS

  1. Damian Lillard, Weber State
  2. Charles Odum, Portland State
  3. Will Cherry, Montana
  4. Kareem Jamar, Montana
  5. Chahales Tapscott, Portland State

Conference RPI: 25

KenPom.com rating: 27

Sagarin rating: 24

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None

Last NCAA Tournament Appearances:

  • Eastern Washington: 2004, 15 seed (75-56 loss to Oklahoma State)
  • Idaho State: 1987, 16 seed (95-70 loss to UNLV)
  • Montana: 2010, 14 seed (62-57 loss to New Mexico)
  • Montana State: 1996, 13 seed (88-55 loss to Syracuse)
  • Northern Arizona: 2000, 15 seed (61-56 loss to St. John's)
  • Northern Colorado: 2011, 15 seed (68-50 loss to San Diego State)
  • Portland State: 2009, 13 seed (77-59 loss to Xavier)
  • Weber State: 2007, 15 seed (70-42 loss to UCLA)

- By Jeff Goodman

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 2, 2012 9:05 am
 

Wakeup Call: A day in Krzyzewskiville

The crowd at last night's UCLA game. There's been a lot of this this season. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Matt Norlander


I can't believe this article is real and the people in it said those words. // Karate glamour shots, oh my. // The federal invesitgation of the Jerry Sandusky case will make us squeamish once again. // On polls and their accuracy ...

★ Hoya Suxa, a snarky, fun Syracuse blog, is hanging it up. Before the end of the season? Shame.

★ Delvon Roe, who left Michigan State earlier this season due to an injury and to pursue acting, will partake in Senior Day this weekend. He won't play, but he will kiss midcourt.

★ The Bailey Leonard anecdote is the best thing about this story.

★ Will probably be the only time "girds" appears in a sports headline this year.

★ The loving Bob Ryan piece on Doris Burke that everyone passed around Thursday.

★ Quinnipiac advanced to the NEC semis last night, but also got a new leader atop the school's all-time scoreboard.

★ Loved this read by Mike Vorkunov on the skyhook.

★ The Sports Pickle gives us Ben Howland's Pyramid of Mediocrity.

Good job by Jason King here on PJ3. The ending of the story, to me, reads like, yeah, he's definitely, definitely gone after this season.

★ Is Binghamton ready to make its way back? If you never knew the story of Bearcats hoops, you're going to want to read this.

★ One in four top-100 recruits transfer.

★ Game day in Krzyzewskiville.

Brilliant post by Henry Abbott. Read that, Jeff Goodman, and repeat after Abbott: I'm not into numbers -- I just use them.

★ Which conference tournaments will be treacherous viewing for bubble teams?

♬ It's Friday and if I want to blast some Bad Religion I'm going to.

Category: NCAAB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com