Addressing an onslaught of ACC questions and more of your mail
For some reason, the Mailbag has an ACC flavor this week. We begin with a comment that is ACC-centric but applies to a broader narrative taking over college sports right now:
I miss it too, Eric, and we're not the only ones.
I have a feeling in a couple of years I'm going to get the same e-mail from a fan from the Pac-10. Right now the Pac-10 is the only BCS league that still plays the double round robin, but if the league goes to 12 teams as expected, that will also become a thing of the past. As much as we all love college hoops, it is college football that drives the money bus, and the Pac-10 simply can't resist the conference championship football game that has been such a revenue generator for the other leagues. Bigger is not always better, but that's where everything in college sports is headed.
Here are some more ACC-related emails:
Scott's sense that this is the weakest the ACC has been in 29 years has more to do with the dearth of teams in (and at the top of) the rankings than the overall strength of the conference. This week's AP poll includes just two teams from the league, the same number representing the Atlantic 10 and Mountain West. The fact that the ACC's signature program is having an epically bad year also deepens that impression.
But let's remember, there have been two times in the last 11 years that the ACC put just three teams into the NCAA tournament. That was in 1999 and 2000. Since Boston College was added to the league before the 2005-06 season (bringing the total to 12 teams), the ACC has twice sent just four teams to the tournament, in '06 and '08. There is still a lot of basketball to be played, but I think the ACC is looking at a minimum of six teams in this year's field, more likely seven given the way Virginia Tech is playing. So while this is far from the best the league has been, I don't think you can say this is the weakest ACC we've seen in the last three decades.
Would you rather that Vazquez missed more threes? I would think that would be more cringe-inducing for a Terps fan.
As Lennie's numbers demonstrate, there is no doubt that Vazquez will go down as one of Maryland's all-time greats -- maybe not
Greivis Vasquez is pure joy to watch. As far as I'm concerned, he can shimmy and shake as much as he wants. He's earned it.
I have had several ACC coaches tell me off the record that it was an explicit part of their game plan to go at Favors and try to get him in foul trouble, so Pulin's analysis is spot-on. The numbers also back him up. According to statsheet.com, Favors is ranked fourth in the ACC in total number of fouls committed (71) and 12th in fouls per game (2.7), though his rankings are a little better in conference games. Still, Favors has yet to foul out of a game this season, which indicates that
I still maintain that Favors' biggest problem this season has been Georgia Tech's guards. Feeding the post has become a lost art in college basketball, but
Lotta questions there, John, so I'll take 'em one at a time. Regarding the Georgia Tech game, my understanding is that the Duke coaches had not been happy with Dawkins' work ethic so they were trying to send him a message. He played 10 minutes against North Carolina and Maryland, so he may have gotten it. None of us can know for sure the extent to which the death of Dawkins' sister is affecting him, but it must be a terribly heavy burden. I think it would be naïve to think that his performance on the court wouldn't be affected by that. I have also written that
As for your other two questions -- rewarding Dawkins for skipping his senior year of high school and giving him more minutes so he won't transfer -- I very much disagree. The one thing I've long admired about
And now for a few non-ACC-related emails.
First of all, it is totally unfair of David to use actual facts to rebut my arguments. Typical sleazy media guy.
That said, I'm not sure we should be drawing too close of a correlation between the polls and the seeds. It was only because of the coverage of last week's mock selection that I learned that, along with the writers and coaches polls, the NCAA also provides its committee members a third poll featuring regional rankings by so-called "basketball people" to help them with their voting. I'm not surprised that none of the members of the mock committee even consulted those polls, and I doubt the actual committee will spend much time on them as well.
As for Butler, I do like this team, and I am not one to pooh-pooh the accomplishment of going undefeated (so far) in the Horizon. Looking at the teams the media seeded in the West, Illinois at No. 8 was probably a more egregious example of overseeding. (I did include the Illini in that category.) I guess my only hesitancy regarding Butler is that both of its top-50 wins came at home. The first was by one point against Xavier and the other was against an Ohio State that was not only missing
I guess it depends on what the definition of "talent" is. I mean, isn't making free throws a talent? Just because a player can run, jump and dunk doesn't make him talented, at least not in a basketball sense.
In the end, this is Texas' problem. It has a lot of good athletes, but the Longhorns simply do not make jump shots. They don't make three-pointers, they don't make midrange shots, and they sure as heck don't make free throws.
Brown, of course, is just a freshman, as are two of the other key parts of Texas's rotation,
Incidentally, you can
It used to be that 20 was some kind of magic number, but we know it's not anymore. South Florida has 16 wins, so looking at the Bulls' schedule they could beat St. John's and Providence at home as well as DePaul on the road, then win their first-round game in the Big East tournament. That would still give them just two wins against teams ranked in the top 50 of the RPI and six losses against teams ranked lower than 50. That, plus their nonconference strength of schedule ranking of 214, would probably leave them on the outside looking in. The other problem South Florida has is its performance against other bubble teams with whom they will be compared in that committee room. The Bulls lost to Louisville, Cincinnati and Marquette on the road and to South Carolina on a neutral court. Worst of all, they got swept by Notre Dame.
These things never come down to one game, but South Florida's make-or-break game will come in the regular season finale against UConn in Tampa. If the Bulls can win those games I mentioned plus add that one, it will leave them with a pretty strong case. But this is one example where there is nothing magic about getting to 20 wins.
I've tried to give Wisconsin as much credit as I can, but I'm happy to re-enforce the message for Jeff's sake. There is no doubt the Badgers have played admirably well without Leuer, who was having an all-Big Ten-quality season when he injured his wrist on his non-shooting hand during a win over Purdue on Jan. 9. The Badgers have gone 6-3 in his absence heading into Thursday night's game at Minnesota, largely because guys like
The good news for Wisconsin is Leuer started practicing again this week, so there's a good chance he will be available for games soon. That means the team he will play for will be even better than the one he was playing for a month ago. And
I could not agree with you more, David. You may recall that several weeks ago, I passed along
This is a common lament, Russell, and I wish I had an easy answer for you.
Norm Roberts is now in his sixth year as coach, but to be fair the first two really shouldn't count given how depleted the program was in the wake of Jarvis' departure. Even so, four years is enough to prove to fans that the program is headed in the right direction. As for what is going to happen with Roberts, I know most people assume he will not make it, but