Monday, November 25, 2013

Poll Dancing: TBI's College Basketball Top 25 Rankings (Nov. 25 edition)

Every now and then, people surprise you with a depth of knowledge and insight that simply blows your mind. Those who agree with what I write often fall into this category. There should be more of these people.

The other 97.7% of the population acts like total cretins, and sometimes that includes people that you know should know better.

Last week's edition of Poll Dancing became more like Troll Dancing, with some complaints lodged on Facebook (er go by someone I know and actually like; and trust me, there aren't many such people) about one team's precipitous drop after a loss.

Well, guess what? Another team took a major dive this week, and it makes last week's big plummet look like stepping off a Manhattan curb.

Let's start with the ones who fell completely off the ballot. Those usually hurt the most.

Faceplants: No. 22 New Mexico, No. 23 Harvard
--We had a deal, Hahvahd. You were here on the condition that you actually win the few big games you saw fit to schedule. Colorado's a far cry from the MIT's and Bryants of the world, and the loss means you're not likely to get past this velvet rope again unless you run the table the rest of the year, including Boston College and UConn. Best of luck, but I don't get the feeling we'll be on speaking terms again until March.

As for New Mexico, they took too long (double OT) to finish off UAB in Charleston, and it bit the Lobos in the ass against a pushy tempo team like UMass. Alex Kirk was the only guy prepped to get off the bus against the Minutemen, putting up a 32-11 game with five blocks. He needed 26 shots to get the 32 points, though, and that's a bad look. So, not only did UMass eat UNM's lunch in the final minutes, but it also took New Mexico's top 25 spot. Not to worry, though, the Lobos have a great run in December that can earn them a lot of ground back.

Bubbling Under: St. Louis, Iowa, St. Mary's, Baylor, Arizona State

Monday, November 18, 2013

Poll Dancing: TBI's College Basketball Top 25 Rankings (Nov. 18 edition)

The headline pretty much says it all, eh? I didn't bust out a new Top 25 last Monday because seriously, how do we re-evaluate from preseason expectations based on (mostly) one game? Not even Kansas State losing to Northern Colorado moved the needle that much, since I fully expect Kansas State to continue sucking buttermilk all season long.

Thanks to teams actually understanding what Tim Miles and Jamie Dixon figured out years ago, we saw some very good early matchups. Schools are scheduling to try and play the RPI like Charlie Daniels plays the fiddle, and to get there, they need to take some risk from time to time.

Unless, of course, you're Louisville, who'll simply begin the Cupcakes Across America tour with visitors from the Northeast and welcome the Midwest in later. Southern Miss, Louisiana and Western Kentucky are the closest things to hardcore challenges the Cardinals will face before having to go to Rupp Arena Dec. 28. If U of L isn't undefeated going in against UK, it won't be in the top 10.

So, let's take a look at this week's TBI ballot, starting before the jump with the Faceplants (those who dropped out from the preseason rankings):

Faceplants: No. 18 Marquette, No. 25 Iowa
--Marquette couldn't even shoot 20% from the floor against Ohio State. That would be grounds for immediate NCAA ineligibility if I were Tournament Czar. Iowa munched its cupcakes hard, but it simply got pipped by teams knocking out quality opponents. More on them after the jump.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winners and Losers from College Basketball's Tip-Off Marathon

He was 18 when MSU-UK tipped off.
If you stayed up for all 29 or so hours of ESPN's College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon (aka Starbucks and Red Bull's Christmahanukwanzakah), I have two things to say to you:

1) You are a sick, maladjusted, misanthropic person who will die alone unless you adopt 18 cats; and

b) I so wish I could match that stamina and lack of daytime gainful employment/small people waking up before dawn.

Some teams had a great time tipping it off at ungodly hours, while others played like they'd already had their warm milk and binky, merely needing their favorite blankets to nod off like a toddler.

Let's look back over the two days in which we were all contemplating doing rails of coke off a hooker's ass if it would keep us awake through the second half of West Virginia/Virginia Tech.
Check after the jump for some of those who absorbed should-be-illegal benefits and some who took must-be-pitied damage for even being in the vicinity of the Marathon.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Final Five, Nov. 8: Takeaways from College Basketball's Opening Night

1. Somebody Get These Referees Some Chapstick
--We've discussed the impact of the new hand-checking and impediment rules all offseason, and we've feared that games will become mindless death marches from one foul line to the other. It happened in several places on opening night.

Indiana made (MADE) 45 free throws in routing Chicago State.

Marquette survived against Southern because the Eagles outshot the Jaguars 53-13 from the line. Davante Gardner made 15 by himself.

Oklahoma State and Mississippi Valley State combined for 60 fouls and 79 FTA.

So some, but not all, referees did more blowing than Alexis Texas in these first real games. This trend will continue, but just wait it out. By January, the bigger leagues with the better athletes and better coaches will improve their defensive technique or get blown out on the regular. The other conferences won't be heard from until Championship Week.

The new rules will help open up driving lanes, but what will really help college scoring is when high school and AAU players learn how to friggin' shoot. But that's a rant for another time.

Four more takeaways after the jump.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

TBI's Preseason College Basketball Top 25

We're screaming headlong into real basketball games coming this Friday, starting with Eastern Michigan taking on Albion College at noon Eastern time. With exhibitions winding down and some major programs producing head-scratching nights (take a bow, UNLV, Ole Miss and Alabama), we're as close as we're going to get to a true preseason evaluation of the nation's top teams.

Since other sites have abandoned the poll-style vote for one privileged writer's "power rankings," the rest of us have to put our ballots wherever we can. Here's the best top 25 you'll read today.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Conference Calling's 2013-14 College Basketball Previews: #19 Summit

The Denver Pioneers leaped from a sinking ship in the offseason. The WAC was taking on water, and just two years after agreeing to join, DU was eager for a place to land.

The Summit League became that place. Now, the major question becomes whether Denver has landed in the warm tropical waters of a conference where it can immediately earn its first-ever NCAA tournament bid or the cold arctic seas of also-ran status.

TBI will give you a small hint before the jump: the water's a bit chilly, but the Pioneers have built themselves one totally diesel raft.

More on the Pioneers' future--and the rest of their new leaguemates'--after the jump.

(All stats and rankings per unless otherwise noted.)

Conference Calling's 2013-14 College Basketball Previews: #20 Patriot

The Patriot League itself is surely pleased with how it fared in the college basketball realignment domino game. New additions Boston University and Loyola (Md.) are strong programs that boast rising young coaches.

The membership, however, might be exasperated for the same reasons. Just when it seemed that the Lehigh/Bucknell stronghold was breaking with the departure of Lehigh's C.J. McCollum and Bucknell's Mike Muscala, here come a pair of teams fully equipped to win the race on their first lap.

Those two new members should, however, help the previous eight in one major regard: the RPI rating. Loyola and BU would have ranked third and fourth in the PL's Back Iron Index standings. The two faced off in the first round of the CIT, with Loyola's win propelling it to the quarterfinals.

Stronger league opposition creates a tide that raises all boats come Selection Sunday. When a victory is harder to come by, the computers give greater credit, making the selection committee take greater notice.

So forgive the other eight PL members if they don't roll out the red carpet for BU and Loyola, but know that whoever takes the NCAA bid will be glad the league was stronger for the additions.

Most likely to take that bid? Read on after the jump.

EDITOR'S NOTE: We're going into Super-Condensed Team Capsule Mode in an effort to cover each conference before opening night. Apologies to our top 20's fans, but I want to get the series finished this year.

(All stats and rankings via unless otherwise noted.)