September 19, 2011
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about NCAA Football Conference allignment and how superconferences could be good for college football. My point was that if six such conferences existed, the BCS would be more accessible to a greater number of teams. But with the Big 12 possibly on the verge of an epic collapse, the more likely scenario is a sport with only four of those 16-team conferences.
That got me to thinking – if it did happen, who would likely be included? Rivals/Yahoo had some writers discuss the issue with each one coming up with their list of NCAA teams. It’s safe to say there were some notable omissions – Duke, UConn, and Indiana all were left off some of the rosters.NCAA football rules college athletics, but is it really fair to leave out such NCAA basketball powerhouses?
Well, I’ll get to that in a bit. But for the record, basketball programs that don’t play FBS football were left out of consideration. So Villanova, Georgetown, Xavier, Marquette, Gonzaga, et al? No dice.
So here’s my list of 64 teams:
The Absolute Locks– There’s absolutely no discussion on these guys. The fact that I even have to list them is borderline insulting. Call them first-ballot Hall of Famers, if you will. If there was only one superconference, these guys would be the first ones in: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, USC
Next In Line- These schools aren’t the cream of the crop, but they’d definitely get in without any question. Any NCAA conference would be glad to have them and there’s as much of a chance of Oddibe McDowell getting into the Hall of Fame as there is of these schools being left out: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Kansas State, Michigan State, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, Pittsburgh, UCLA, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Still In With Little Question – This is the third tier…NCAA schools that no sane conference would leave out. There could be some trivial questions about a few of them, but these institutions would certainly all be in as well. Arizona State, Boston College, Cincinnati, Clemson, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, Mississippi, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Purdue, Oregon State, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Virginia, Washington
The “Basketball” Schools– Personally, I don’t see how you have superconferences without including some of the most storied basketball programs around. Sure, we all get that despite March Madness, in terms of money, NCAA basketball takes a back seat to football. But as the second biggest college sport, these schools have got to be in. After all, are you really going to turn down these schools that not only each have won multiple basketball championships for someone like Baylor? Didn’t think so: UConn, Duke, Indiana
The “Non-BCS Football Schools”– These guys have all had incredible success without being in a BCS automatic qualifying conference. I can listen to the argument of not moving them to the front of the line for various reasons such as market size, but they’ve all been ranked in the top ten in recent years on the gridiron and are too good to leave out: Boise State, BYU, TCU, Utah
The Final Five In
Minnesota – Mediocre football and basketball programs, but has had respectable years in each.
Northwestern– Here mostly for their academics and market (Chicago). Oh yeah, and Michael Wilbon.
Rutgers – One of oldest universities and recent football success with average of nine wins from 2006 – 2009.
South Carolina – Are you gonna be the one to tell Steve Spurrier he’s not invited?
South Florida– Football program on the rise after only being in Division I for ten years and brings the Tampa market.
Left Out – Can’t find room for everybody and these would be the unlucky schools if I were putting the conferences together. Would they be on someone’s list? Absolutely. But on mine, they just miss the cut: Vanderbilt, Baylor, Iowa State, Washington State, Wake Forest
March 14, 2011
With the NCAA Tournament bracket officially released, it’s time to take a look and see who’s got the best chance of going to the Final Four. Sure it’s weeks away, but while there are games in between, when it’s all said and done, getting to Houston is all that matters.
The East may be the toughest region in the bracket. While top overall seed Ohio State will play its first two games in Cleveland, the Buckeyes will have their hands full with potential games against programs such as Kentucky, Syracuse, and surging North Carolina. And if those teams stumble, there are plenty of others that are capable of giving the Buckeyes all they can handle, including Villanova, West Virginia, George Mason, Washington, and Xavier. All of those teams have been ranked at some point in the season and on any given day could challenge Ohio State.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to pick Ohio State or Kentucky to come out of this region because of their difficult path. Each school would need to beat the other, avoid other potential trap games and then beat a North Carolina team that is 14-2 over their past 16 games. I’ll take the No. 2 seed North Carolina Tarheels to come out of this region.
The West also features a difficult path for the No. 1 seed, the Duke Blue Devils. Duke should win its first two games playing in North Carolina, but can then look forward to potential matchups against Arizona, Texas, Cincinnati, UConn, and San Diego State. Texas could be Duke’s biggest challenge in this bracket and even though the Longhorns have struggled a bit lately, they have one of the best resumes in the country with wins against Kansas, North Carolina, and Missouri. A No. 4 seed was a slap in the face to this program, and I think Texas will play with a chip on their shoulders. UConn is also lurking in the region. They’re playing incredible basketball and are fresh off of winning five straight games to capture the Big East Tournament championship. And in Kemba Walker, the Huskies have one of the nation’s best players. Still, UConn can be a bit of a one-man show at times, so I’m taking the Longhorns in a bit of an upset in this region.
No. 1 seed Kansas has an easier time out in the southwest. Big East teams Notre Dame and Louisville could challenge the Jayhawks, but other than that, their path is fairly easy. Georgetown and Florida State have been solid teams this year, but are too inconsistent to make a deep run. I also find it hard to take Purdue too seriously. They have a big win against Ohio State at home this year, but after that, they have a fairly weak resume. The Boilermakers’ body of work includes an ugly loss to Iowa, one of the Big Ten’s worst teams, about a week ago. Purdue simply doesn’t have the manpower to match up with a team like Kansas that has several future NBA players. The Jayhawks should advance to Houston.
Pitt is the No. 1 in the southeast, and after a decade of regular season success, this could be the season they reach the Final Four. Standing in their way will be Kansas State, Wisconsin, Florida, BYU, and St. John’s. All quality teams, but none that the Panthers aren’t capable of beating. Pitt should also watch out for a potential second-round matchup against Butler or Old Dominion. Old Dominion, particularly, could pose problems as they would have a virtual home game against Pitt, playing in Washington D.C. But the Panthers should be extra motivated to reach the Final Four in a year when college basketball is down across the board. I expect Jamie Dixon to get to Houston and Pitt to finally get over the hump.
February 25, 2011
Here’s some proof that school spirit is stronger than the success of a school’s basketball team. Below are the 50 best selling colleges on Fathead.com over the last month. By our estimates, only about half of them will make the NCAA Tournament.
The top selling colleges of the last 30 days:
1. Ohio State
5. Notre Dame
6. Penn State
11. Michigan State
15. Miami (FL)
19. West Virginia
29. Florida State
30. Oklahoma State
32. Virginia Tech
34. Boise State
38. Arizona State
42. South Carolina
44. Georgia Tech
45. Kansas State
47. Iowa State
50. Oregon State
And, of course, here is the weekly list of top Fathead sellers. The Super Bowl hype is beginning to fade, and with it, the NFL’s stronghold on list. While many NFL Fatheads remain, the league has given up some ground to the NBA on the heels of a great NBA All-Star Weekend.
The top selling Fatheads of the last 7 days (Feb. 18 – Feb. 24):
1. Kobe Bryant
8. Rajon Rondo
10. Derrick Rose