Sunday, December 30

John's Week 17 Picks

Um, so, Ryan hasn't had Flippy come by to make his picks for last week, and we didn't get a guest picker for this week, so I'm going to continue the slack-off trend by following the recent Ryan format and not adding comments for my picks this week.

Cincinnati over Miami (6)
Seattle over Atlanta (5)
Jacksonville over Houston (4)
Tampa Bay over Carolina (3)
New Orleans over Chicago (2)
Tennessee over Indianapolis (1)

Upset: Dallas over Washington (-9.0)
(Yes, you read that right, Washington's favored by 9 points, starters sitting or not, this is an easy choice).

Wednesday, December 26

Week 17 Slate

I'm pretty sure I lost in Pick'em this week, so a recap's coming, but here are the games to pick for this week. Who wants to be the final guest picker?

Carolina at Tampa Bay
Cincinnati at Miami
Jacksonville at Houston
New Orleans at Chicago
Seattle at Atlanta
Tennessee at Indianapolis

Keep in mind that a lot of these wouldn't be under three points except for the fact that several of these teams have already clinched playoff spots and may be sitting their starters. Choose accordingly.

Monday, December 24

Who Ya Got?

Ok, much has been made in the recent weeks (at least in Chatham Co) about the starting #4 position in the Tar Heels' lineup. So I decided to take a look at the early returns on the competition. Thanks to rate based stats, we needn't worry about silly playing time issues, though we will have to consider with whom the individuals shared the court. In the following figures and tables I've included the 2 main big men (behind Tyler) along with the shoes they're trying to fill.


I suppose the main question here is, do we need the offense? Overall, the constant from last year's team has been the impressive offense (top 5 in KP-land). The offensive slack has been taken up by Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, and among the reserves Danny Green, which would explain the fact that the Heels have been able to keep the OE on par with last year's team. Between the current two options however, Thompson seems to be slightly better offensively (ORtg 93.4 to 87). If you scan down the table, this number might confuse, as Stepheson shoots better from the field, has higher OR%, (Oops, what is DR% doing on an offensive table?) and definitely gets to the line more often. That is one of the biggest reasons I've seen and heard for Stepheson's starting over Thompson, the simple fact that he gets to the line way more often, its hard to draw a foul when you're executing the baby hooks and turnaround jumpers that Deon is so fond of. However, Alex's turnovers look to be holding back his ORtg. I would imagine if he took better care of the ball his rating would be closer to (or higher than) Thompson's. However, the defensive end seems to be where Brandan Wright is missed most.


On this end of the court Brandan Wright always made his presence felt. It is also often said that individual defense is one of the hardest stats to measure in basketball. There are only 3 stats you have to go on (all listed above) anything else must be discerned from observation. I can say I watched a lot of UNC basketball games this year and last year, and Deon (or Alex) are no Brandan Wright. This is supported by the numbers above. In a recent BP article KenPom discussed the Renaldo Balkman Threshold of excellent defense (6.0 block & 2.5 steal rates). In 3 years only 2 players in power conferences met these criteria (Shelden Williams and Joakhim Noah). Brandan Wright came very close to meeting them his freshman year, providing defensive support that is sorely missed, considering the Heels current adjusted DE (92.1, 65th) and 2006-07 number (85.6, 4th). The two current Tar Heel big men seem to be roughly equivalent on defense, with Alex blocking more shots and Deon disrupting more passes. Alex Stepheson has always been a tremendous defensive rebounder (23.3 DR% last year), so it might be interesting to see if that continued with an increase in minutes, though as I mentioned above, I doubt the minutes will come unless the turnovers go down. As a side note, Brandan Wright's DR% is probably a little bit lower than his talent level. Last year he had to compete with Reyshawn Terry for defensive rebounds, and for all Terry's defensive faults, he loved to collect errant rebounds as the opponent scampered down the court to defend the fast break (DR% 20.1)

It isn't really a huge surprise that Thompson is starting and Stepheson is coming off the bench. They're incredibly similar except for in a few small areas (DR%, FTR, TO%), and Alex will likely have to take better care of the ball before he sees his minutes and touches go up.

Sunday, December 23


So, here are the 2 picks the haven't happened yet:

Tampa 6 over SF
Minny 5 over Wash

Baltimore (+12.5) over Seattle

I'll flip the rest later

Wednesday, December 19

John's Week 16 Picks

Tampa Bay over San Francisco (6). Okay, I know we have some high spreads this week, but this is just ridiculous. -6.5 points? Really, Vegas? This is one of those games that makes me want to open an account somewhere with Ryan.

Minnesota over Washington (5). I'm pretty high on the Vikings right now, and the Redskins will be without War Eagle for at least this week, so it doesn't look like Washington will be doing much here.

Cleveland over Cincinnati (4). The Browns offense is still firing on all cylinders, as is Cincinnati's, so this one could be another shootout if the weather in Cincinnati is good.

Detroit over Kansas City (3). Not really much to say about this game...both teams are pretty awful, but Detroit can pull this one out.

Philadelphia over New Orleans (2). Fresh off their victory over Loveboat Romo & Co., Philadelphia should be able to stave off the New Orleans offense and take advantage of that dreadful New Orleans secondary.

New York over Buffalo (1). This game could really go either way, but I'm banking on the Giants reverting to earlier form, not on their past few games.

Upset Special: Atlanta over Arizona (-10.5). Atlanta, while bad, has looked better this season than Arizona, and has a real chance here with Boldin and Fitzgerald still hurting.

Bethany's Week 16 Picks

Cleveland over Cincinnati (6)
Minnesota over Washington (5)
Tampa Bay over San Francisco (4)
Detroit over Kansas City (3)
New Orleans over Philadelphia (2)
Buffalo over New York (1)
Upset Special: Baltimore over Seattle (-10.0)

Week 16 Slate

Cleveland at Cincinnati
Kansas City at Detroit
New York at Buffalo
Philadelphia at New Orleans
Washington at Minnesota
Tampa Bay at San Francisco

Lots of high spreads this week, maybe it'll be easy? Maybe? Not?

Monday, December 17

Week 15 Recap

Shawn: 3-3, -1 point (43-41, 9 points)
Ryan: 2-4, -2 points (51-33, 83 points)
John: 2-4, -7 points (55-29, 112 points)

Ouch, rough week for all parties. Shawn guessed correctly on Jacksonville beating Pittsburgh this week, which carried him to a slim victory even though Ryan came charging in hard with his correct Eagles upset pick. Miami's first win of the season came at a heavy price for all of us, as we each picked that one as our six-pointer. John's and Ryan's blistering streak of six straight weeks with at least a .500 record came to an end this week, as each went 2-4 for the first time since Week 7. Maddeningly, the guest picker also had the same streak...but kept it alive this week thanks to Shawn's 3-3 performance. Not even Flippy could derail the train in Week 11. There are still two weeks remaining for all you TFSB readers out there to bump up those scores in hopes of being selected to pick for the playoffs. Bethany has the best chance of topping 20 combined points (Cason's and Lucy's current total) out of those that have already picked, but one correct upset pick could change a lot of things for others.

Thursday, December 13

Ryan's Week something-or-other picks

4New York
1New Orleans
UpsetPhilly (-13)

(who knows, maybe it was the formatting)

Wednesday, December 12

Where have all the matchups gone?

Long time passing? Well, seriously, its been a weak week in college basketball. So, to tide you all over until the Heels get back into action (Saturday @Rutgers) or until there are meaningful games on television (who knows when that will be), here are a few college basketball related discussions:
SOS from a Vegas perspective
Early Undefeateds one of whom fell last night.
And and early BlogPoll ballot.

John's Week 15 Picks

Here are my preliminary picks; I'll fill out the rest of the comments later in the week.

Baltimore over Miami (6). Miami's not putting a win up this week; sorry.

Tennessee over Kansas City (5).

Denver over Houston (4).

New York over Washington (3).

New Orleans over Arizona (2).

Pittsburgh over Jacksonville (1).

Upset Special: Detroit over San Diego (11.0).

Tuesday, December 11

Week 15 Slate

Denver at Houston is on Thursday, so make sure to have your pick in for that one (at least) by 8:15 that day. Shawn has agreed to be our guest picker this week.

Denver at Houston
Arizona at New Orleans
Baltimore at Miami
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh
Tennessee at Kansas City
Washington at New York

Monday, December 10

Week 14 Recap

Ryan: 5-1, 19 points (49-29, 85 points)
John: 5-1, 11 points (53-25, 119 points)
Lucy: 4-2, 7 points (40-38, 10 points)

Well, it was a solid pick'em week for everyone involved, as only the Tampa Bay loss hurt everyone, and Lucy's pick of St. Louis only cost her two points. Winning records all around are always cause for celebration. Ryan's victory this week pulls him into a tie with John for weeks won with five, with the guest taking two weeks, and with John and Ryan tying one week (and the bye week makes 14). Ryan's within shouting distance of John in points now, and with three solid weeks, could easily challenge John for the points lead. There are now just three remaining pick'em weeks, so be sure to post a comment if you'd like to be a guest picker before the end of the regular season. As it stands, Lucy and Cason will receive invitations to pick the playoffs, as each have accumulated 20 points (Cason in one week, Lucy in two). Shawn is in third with 15, so I'll be sure to ask him if he'd like to hop on in the next three weeks to try and pull ahead into first.

Sunday, December 9

Ryan's Week 14

6New Orleans
4New York Giants
2San Diego
1Tampa Bay
UpsetCarolina (??)

Editor's note: The Carolina/Jacksonville spread is 13.5 points.

John's Week 14 Picks

Cincinnati over St. Louis (6). So, uh, this game isn't exactly under 3 points, so I'm not used to seeing such pick'em mismatches as this one. All the Bengals on offense seem to be relatively healthy, which should more than account for their porous defense.

Tampa Bay over Houston (5). Even if Garcia's out, McCown showed me more than enough last week to make me think he'll be fine against fellow backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels and the Houston defense.

Cleveland over New York Jets (4). Even with the Jets making me look bad by picking Miami to beat them last week, I don't see them beating the Browns. The Browns defense is one of the worst, but there's still worse: the defense suiting up in white and green.

San Diego over Tennessee (3). San Diego's really picked it up in the last several weeks, and Tennessee's offense is pretty pathetic.

New Orleans over Atlanta (2). Even with Bush out, I think the Saints can still ride Brees to a victory here. Look for big passing games from both teams.

New York Giants over Philadelphia (1). Both teams have their faults, and this one should be a close game, but I feel like I've seen more from New York this year than I have from the Eagles.

Upset Special: Kansas City over Denver (7.0). I really wanted to pick Pittsburgh over New England here, but I just can't do it if the game's being played in Foxborough. Kansas City gets the nod because their defense matches up well with Denver's offense.

Saturday, December 8

Lucy's Week 14 Picks

Tampa Bay over Houston (6)
New Orleans over Atlanta (5)
San Diego over Tennessee (4)
Cleveland over Jets (3)
Giants over Philadelphia (2)
St. Louis over Cincinnati (1)
Upset Special: Pittsburgh over New England (-15.0)

Cincinnati let me down last time I picked them and those Brownies turned out to be more impressive than I thought before. I'm upset that we didn't pick earlier so that Chicago would have been on the slate, but it's probably for the best since I would have picked them I'm sure. I'm going to choose the "fashionable" Pittsburgh over New England special upset.

Wednesday, December 5

Week 14 Slate

Chicago at Washington
New York Giants at Philadelphia
San Diego at Tennessee
Tampa Bay at Houston
Cleveland at New York Jets
New Orleans at Atlanta

Lots of upset possibilities this week (only four of those six games are three points or under), so opportunity's a-knockin' to raise those point totals.

Edit: So, um, the Thursday game caught me off guard. We'll be picking St. Louis at Cincinnati this week in place of Chicago at Washington. Do we have a guest picker lined up yet?

Week 13 Recap

Editor's note: John's all-time record has been modified to reflect his actual record of 4-2 in Week 11, not 3-3 as calculated by Ryan. I probably deserved it, having crapped out on my recap duties for that week.

Bethany: 4-2, 2 points (36-36, 3 points)
John: 3-3, 1 point (48-24, 108 points)
Ryan: 3-3, -1 point (44-28, 66 points)

Well folks, it looks like there are some serious bragging rights on the line here. After Bethany scored the upset to squeak by both John and Ryan on the week despite picking one more game correctly, she and Dani are the only guests to have beaten both John and Ryan in the same week. Ouch. If we don't get our act together soon, we may end up getting run out of the Pick'em building. The charge now goes out to both males and females: Ladies (Emily and Lucy, I'm looking at you), do you care to try your chance next week, and extend the streak against the hapless TFSB boys? Guys, after having seen the girls do it, do you think you too can show Ryan and John how a real pro picks 'em? Come one, come all, only four more weeks left until our special by-invitation-only playoff tournament. Details to come, but those with the best records will be asked to return to pick all the playoff games after the season's over. If you want a chance to form a new record (or improve upon your current one), don't hesitate to shoot us a comment.

Sunday, December 2

UNC vs. Kentucky (12/1) Game Wrap

So, since John took the reins last time, it looks like I'l be leading the charge with the Kentucky recap. Also, this will more than likely be the last recap for a while, since we're only planning to recap games against quality opponents. The Heels' upcoming schedule gets easier through the exam period (@Penn, @Rutgers, Nicholls St, UCSB, Nevada, Valparaiso, etc etc). The average KP Rank of the next 6 opponents is 181, so it looks like we'll be slated to recap against when UNC hosts the Golden Flashes of Kent St (#37) on January 2nd. Now, to the recap.

Wow, Danny Green, Danny Green, Danny Green. That is literally all the Heels need to go from good to great. As long as one roll player (ROLL OUT!) (Green, Ginyard, Thompson, Frasor) steps up when the opposing team focuses all of their attention on Tyler. And, at least for the time being, Tyler hasn't seemed to have figured out how to pass out of a double/triple team, so the fact that someone steps up is more important now, when Tyler assisting buckets isn't happening automatically (if at all). I noticed this as well; Tyler had a lot of trouble dishing after getting the ball in the low post against the Wildcats. This was a large contributer to the high percentage of free throws we took this game; when Tyler got the ball, he took it up, most of the time resulting in a foul. Tyler shot 12 free throws to eight field goals.

Other than Danny Green stepping up, UNC took care of the ball against a team that has, thus far this season, built their defense around causing TOs. The Heels only had 13 turnovers in a game where there were 76 possessions. Other numbers looked similar to the Ohio St game (holding the opponent to 25% OR while posting a +35% OR rate), which seems to indicate that the Heels are doing the little things well, the things they had seemingly forgot how to do against weaker competition (SC St, ODU, BYU). Hopefully this 2 game shift will prove to be a trend that will be continued for the rest of the season. BYU weaker competition? Really? I mean, they're not as good as we are, but they're a solid team, and Plaisted really did a number on us. (Ok, so BYU isn't necessarily weaker, but we played a far worse game against BYU, rebounding and defense-wise, and got away with it, maybe it was the neutral floor) One other thing; we didn't have nearly as good on-the-ball defense against Kentucky as we did against Ohio State, but the Wildcats have much better shooters on their team than Ohio State does, so an uptick in opponent field-goal percentage was to be expected. We'll leave you with Danny Green's stat line for the night.

Green, Danny. 8-11 FG, 2-4 3-pt FG, 2-2 FT-FTA, 2 OR, 4 DR, 2 TO, 1 B, 1 S, 20 Points in 24 Minutes.