Monday, December 29

Final NFL Pick'em Standings, 2008 Edition

1) John 17-8-2 (1.5, 18)
2) Jason 15-11-1 (0, 15.5)
3) Ryan 14-14-2 (1, 15)
4) Kevin 14-15-1 (1, 14.5)

Consensus: 13-7

John continues his run as the pick'em king, and we saw that we might not do as well in Vegas as initially suspected, going 13-7 on the year in consensus games (but that record is likely skewed by certain parties picking games they might not have chosen initially in order to catch up in the standings, thus putting fewer W's in the books).

Wednesday, December 24

Week 17 Spreads

First off, thanks to Cason for spot on analysis as always, if you're here for the Heels/College Basketball insight see below. Also, expect more college basketball coming up, as the player stats are up on Ken Pom, and each team begins to build a worthwhile statistical resume. There will be an extensive preview before the Tar Heels next first test, at Wake Forest Jan 11th. Onto ATS pick 'em.

This is it folks (unless John wants to give up his stranglehold and do a playoff version?)

FavoriteSpreadUnderdogDayTime
@Tampa Bay-12.5OaklandSun1:00
@Green Bay-9.5DetroitSun1:00
@Philadelphia (JA)-1.5Dallas (RC)Sun4:15
@Minnesota (KS)-6.5NY GiantsSun1:00
@Houston-2.5Chicago (JA)Sun1:00
Carolina (RC)-3@New OrleansSun1:00
@Atlanta-14St. LouisSun1:00
@Cincinnati-3Kansas CitySun1:00
@Baltimore-12JacksonvilleSun4:15
Tennessee-3@IndianapolisSun1:00
@Pittsburgh-10.5ClevelandSun1:00
@NY Jets-3Miami (KS)Sun4:15
New England (RC)-6.5@BuffaloSun1:00
@Arizona-6SeattleSun4:15
@San Francisco-3Washington (JA)Sun4:15
@San Diego-8Denver (KS)Sun8:15


The AFC is also giving a point in the Super Bowl, in case you were curious. It's Christmas, so let's say due by midnight Friday, along with your opinion of playoff pick 'em.

Happy Holidays everyone.

Edit: I'm assuming your "Cats" was of the Cardiac variety, Ryan?

Monday, December 22

Valparaiso Game Review

Yours truly attended the UNC-Valparaiso game in the United Center on Saturday. Since this was one of my few chances to see the Heels, I went with 3 co-workers who graduated in '08 and '06.

Going to the United Center as a Heels fan is, I would imagine, like going to UNC if you are a big MJ fan. It's seeing someone you've followed so closely for a successful period in their lives in a totally different environment, with different fans, teammates, coaches, high tops, etc. We happened to sit right under the retired Jordan jersey in the rafters of the United Center, and within easy view of all six World Championship banners. It really makes you appreciate both the Bulls' hard work and that they won 3 titles with 2 Tar Heels and 2 Hawkeyes on their team.

The game itself was uneventful as our games go. Bobby Frasor did not start, which took all of us by surprise. Also, Valpo was the home team and took it quite seriously as they brought their band and students with them behind one of the baskets. They also had quite a few fans, even though Carolina fans outnumbered them about 3-2. Valpo also watched a lot of tape and frustrated us with their box and 1 defense. We had a very difficult time getting the ball inside via Ty, Wayne, Danny, Deon or Tyler. We settled for jumpers or turned the ball over.

On the flip side, Valpo had an effective flex set offense. Their center-forward managed to get the basket over and over because of our confusion on defense. They also hit their 3's and were winning for about the first 8 minutes. Their guards and forwards also managed to lose Wayne, Danny and Deon easily for backdoor cuts. I wasn't seriously concerned, since we made them force shots and commit turnovers, but it made me think what a team with better players could do with that defense.

At this point, I ought to mention that I have never liked Valpo for what they did to Ole Miss in 1998. Ole Miss was a 4 seed ten years ago in the NCAA tournament and the coach's son (of all the people who could hit a game winning shot, it was the coach's son!!!) hit the winning 3 pointer as time expired. Until 2005, this was the main reason my dad had such a hard time watching the NCAA tournament.

As the game wore on, we were reminded why zone defenses tend to lose their effectiveness against our team. We kept getting easy rebounds and put backs. As the fouls mounted, their big men couldn't really guard anyone for fear of fouling out.

A couple of notes:
Urule Igbavboa, Valparaiso Center, threw down a dunk on Tyler in the first half when we employed the Red Sea defense. You could tell he was still thinking about it when he kept looking up at the big screens in the first half. I could tell he was still thinking about it in the second half when he smiled after being fouled and airballed the FT.

Wayne Ellington's jump shot is still MIA.

Valpo used a safety or two on offense so we had very few fast break opportunities. They did a good job of always having at least 2 guys in the paint when we brought the ball to half court.

The force was not with Danny Green on Saturday.

All the scrubs who played got on the stat sheet one way or another.

Deon continues to be efficient, going 3-4 on FG and 6-8 on FT.

Hey, we still forced 25 To's.

The Jordan statue in front of the United Center is awesome, you need to get your picture taken there.

Standings after Week 16

1) John 16-7-1 (3, 16.5)
2) Jason 15-11-1 (1, 15.5)
3) Ryan 13-12-2 (1, 14)
4) Kevin 13-13-1 (2, 13.5)

Consensus: 13-7

Nice week for John, as he goes a perfect 3-0 to take an outright lead despite coming in after Week 1. Baltimore (win) and Pittsburgh (loss) were the consensus picks this week.

Are we picking Week 17 games? The way I see it, it actually shouldn't matter much because only two teams have clinched home field advantage - the Giants and the Titans. Those are the only two teams who can afford to rest their starters this week. Everyone else should be vying for better playoff seeding (if they're in or in the hunt for the playoffs) or playing spoiler if they've been eliminated from playoff consideration already. Games between two non-playoff teams (WAS/SF, CIN/KC, GB/DET) should still be fine as everyone's padding their stats, still, right? (Not to mention the fact that the Lions are trying to avoid going winless, and the Packers are trying to avoid being the only team to lose to the 2008 Lions.) Thoughts?

Wednesday, December 17

Week 16 Spreads

FavoriteSpreadUnderdogDayTime
Indianapolis (KS)-6.5@JacksonvilleThurs8:15
@Dallas-4.5Baltimore (JA, RC)Sat8:15
Pittsburgh (RC, JS)-1.5@TennesseeSun1:00
Miami (JS)-4@Kansas CitySun1:00
@New England-8ArizonaSun1:00
@Cleveland-3CincinnatiSun1:00
San Francisco-5.5@St. LouisSun1:00
New Orleans (JA)-7@DetroitSun1:00
@Tampa Bay (RC)-3.5San DiegoSun1:00
NY Jets-5@SeattleSun4:05
Houston (JS)-7@OaklandSun4:05
@Denver-7BuffaloSun4:05
Philadelphia-5@WashingtonSun4:15
@Minnesota (KS)-3.5Atlanta (JA)Sun4:15
@NY Giants (KS)-3CarolinaSun8:15
@Chicago-4.5Green BayMon8:35


Thursday game should be called by 5 today if possible, everything else by 5 Friday.

Sunday, December 14

Standings after Week 15

1) Jason 14-9-1 (0, 14.5)
2) John 13-7-1 (0.5, 13.5)
3) Ryan 12-10-2 (0.5, 13)
4) Kevin 11-12-1 (3, 11.5)

Consensus: 12-6

Nice week for Kevin as he went 3-0, tough week for Jason as he went 0-3. Ryan and John both limped in with a push each. Tennessee losing outright to Houston hurt all of us this week.

Wednesday, December 10

Week 15 Spreads

FavoriteSpreadUnderdogDayTime
@Chicago-3New Orleans (JA)Thurs8:15
Green Bay-2@JacksonvilleSun1:00
@Indianapolis-17DetroitSun1:00
Washington (RC)-7@CincinnatiSun1:00
@Atlanta (RC)-3Tampa BaySun1:00
@Miami-6.5San FranciscoSun1:00
Seattle-3@St. LouisSun1:00
@NY Jets-7BuffaloSun1:00
Tennessee (JA/JS/RC)-3@HoustonSun1:00
San Diego (JS)-5@Kansas CitySun1:00
@Arizona (JS)-3Minnesota (KS)Sun4:05
@Baltimore-2PittsburghSun4:15
@Carolina (KS)-7.5DenverSun4:15
New England-7@OaklandSun4:15
@Dallas (KS)-3NY Giants (JA)Sun8:15
@Philadelphia-14ClevelandMon8:35


Picks for the Thursday game are due by 5p today; picks for everything else due by 5 on Friday.

Edit: I added the picks to the table, this should make for easier reference, and points out a couple of opposing picks for the week, and our only consolidated pick (Tennessee)

Tuesday, December 9

Standings after Week 14

1) Jason 14-6-1 (2, 14.5)
2) John 13-5-0 (2, 13)
3) Ryan 12-8-1 (2, 12.5)
4) Kevin 8-12-1 (1, 8.5)

Consensus: 12-5

Baltimore and Pittsburgh came out on top for us in the consensus picks, raising our total to 12-5 in games we agree on.

It will depend on how playoff scenarios shape up, but I suggest we sit out Week 17, as that week is notorious for playoff teams sitting their starters.

Also: I hope everyone saw the Antonio Bryant catch near the end of the game last night. If you haven't, do yourself a favor and look at a highlight reel somewhere. Easily one of the top plays of the NFL season.

Monday, December 8

New look UNC defense

This is a bit late, but here's a great post from X's and O's of Basketball about UNC's interior defense in the Michigan State game. It has a couple of clips that highlight our collapsing defense and how we used it to force 21 turnovers against a strong Michigan State team.

Link: http://coachingbetterbball.blogspot.com/2008/12/uncs-interior-defense-keys-their-fast.html

The site also breaks down a myriad of NBA, Euro, College and WNBA (yes, it still exists) games for bits of strategy and coaching. If only people other than Jay Bilas or Len Elmore read this site, we might get better commentary for our games. I regularly check it to learn what analysts mean when they say 'flex' or 'swing' offense, fundamentally sound screen hedges and all those other terms that they love to drop but never explain.

Friday, December 5

Week 14 Spreads

FavoriteSpreadUnderdogDayTime
@Indianapolis-13.5CincinnatiSun1:00
@Chicago-6.5JacksonvilleSun1:00
@Green Bay-6HoustonSun1:00
@Tennessee-14Cleveland Sun 1:00
Minnesota-9.5@Detroit Sun 1:00
@NY Giants-7PhiladelphiaSun1:00
@New Orleans-3AtlantaSun1:00
NY Jets-4@San FranciscoSun4:05
@Buffalo-1MiamiSun4:05
@Denver-9Kansas CitySun4:05
New England-4.5@SeattleSun4:05
@Arizona-14St. LouisSun4:15
@Pittsburgh-3DallasSun4:15
@Baltimore-5WashingtonSun8:15
@Carolina-3Tampa BayMon8:35


Picks are due by Saturday at midnight. I took over table duties from Ryan this week; please let me know if something looks off.

Edit: Ryan has requested an extra hour to make his picks. If you want to wait until 1 or so to make yours, Jason, you're welcome to do so.

Monday, December 1

Week 13 Standings

1) Jason 12-5-1 (2, 12.5)
2) Ryan 10-7-1 (2, 10.5)
3) John 11-4-0 (3, 11)
4) Kevin 7-10-1 (2, 7.5)

Concensus: 10-4

A good week on the whole, especially after the Arizona loss for Kevin and Jason on Turkey Day. After that the only loss was Indianapolis failing (by a half point) to cover against Cleveland.

The weeks posts will be up eventually, probably later than last week. There is only one Thursday game and the Chargers are giving 9.5 or 10 points at home, to the Raiders.

Sunday, November 30

Heroic Heels

Ok, maybe my alliterative title is a bit of a reach, and many of you have likely already read the story, but in case you haven't here are my two favorite versions: Tar Heel Blue Version & Watered Down Blog Post Version.

Anyways, some closing Maui thoughts:
-Really showed why UNC misses Marcus Ginyard against Notre Dame, no one can put out a hot shooter like the Heels' best defensive stopper and Kyle McAlarney was just that, 8 3's in the second half, 10 total. The Heels hadn't faced a team with such a singular scoring threat until then
-The Heels seem to be taking the form of last year's team, which is to say no form at all. They've now won games with several different factors*: forcing turnovers (UK), offensive rebounding (ND), defensive rebounding (Oregon), and free throws (UCSB)

Don't have much else to add, John? Cason? thoughts?

Just to remind everyone, KenPom is up and running again, and with only 5 or 6 games played, its fun to check out the rankings to see who is off to a hot start and what makes a team rise to the top of the KenPom ratings.

Also, I'll be posting the phenomenal Hakeem Nicks, Tar Heel Play of the Year, catch as soon as I can find it on YouTube.

Week's Games:
UNC-A, Chapel Hill, 6:30 pm Sunday, Fox Sports
Michigan State, Ford Field (Detroit, MI), 9:15 pm Wednesday, ESPN



*factors as in Dean Oliver's Four Factors: Shooting, Offensive Rebounding, Turnovers, and Free Throw Attempts. Basically what any and every basketball game ever played has boiled down to.

Tuesday, November 25

Week 13 Spreads

FavoriteSpreadUnderdogDayTime
Tennessee-11@DetroitThurs12:30
@Dallas-13 Seattle Thurs4:15
@Philadelphia-3ArizonaThurs8:15
@NY Jets-7.5DenverSun1:00
@Buffalo-7 San Francisco Sun 1:00
@Tampa Bay -3.5 New Orleans Sun 1:00
@Green Bay -3 Carolina Sun 1:00
NY Giants -3.5 @Washington Sun 1:00
Miami -8 @St. Louis Sun 1:00
Baltimore -7 @Cincinnati Sun 1:00
Indianapolis -4.5 @Cleveland Sun 1:00
@San Diego -5.5 Atlanta Sun 4:05
@New England -1 Pittsburgh Sun 4:15
@Oakland -3 Kansas City Sun 4:15
@Minnesota -3.5 Chicago Sun 8:15
@Houston -3 Jacksonville Mon 8:35


These are up soon enough that anyone wishing to call one (or all three) of these games will have to do so by 5pm on Wednesday. This will eliminate confusion created by three different start times, and any advantage to waiting closer to kickoff to get injury news.

Edit: Sorry, wrote the paragraph for the Turkey Day games only, all Sunday games due at the usual time

Week 12 Results

1) Jason 10-4-1 (1, 10.5)
2) Ryan 8-6-1 (1, 8.5)
3) John 8-4-0 (1, 8)
4) Kevin 5-9-1 (1, 5.5)

Everyone went 1-2 on the week as our picks did foretell a big Saints win last night. One point on the week for everyone and the overall standings don't change the points listing is (Current Week, Total).

Look for the Week 13 games early, since there are multiple Thursday games.


Meanwhile, that 'fro dude on Chaminade (Update: Joel Smith) learned you don't gesture to the crowd lest you piss off Danny Green to the tune of 26 points (7 rbs, 3 asts, 2 blks in 22 mins).

Monday, November 24

Jimmy Connors shows more emotion at basketball game than tennis match

An interesting item for all tennis fans who read the blog (a.k.a. everybody): Jimmy Connors was arrested for noncompliance at the beginning of the UCSB game on Friday. He was involved in confrontation outside the arena and upon refusing to leave the spot, was arrested, booked and released.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/23/sports/tennis/23sportsbriefs-CONNORSISARR_BRF.html

Since I'm sure it crossed your mind, John McEnroe views this as a challenge and will try to get arrested at the next random event he attends.

Friday, November 21

UCSB Thoughts

-We've missed Hansbrough, but since the early first half the Heels have seemed to have trouble finding him and making him the focal point of the offense (or finding the open man off the double teams he creates)

-Ellington continues to get beaten when playing man-to-man defense, and this is only UCSB

-This is the most poorly officiated game of the year thus far, simply erratic from the officials (in both directions pretty equally), I feel really bad for the Big West if these are their officials

-Ed Davis has one or two good moves, but leaves the ball open to steals too often

-When the Gauchos went on their runs in the first half, you could see a direct correlation (deftly pointed out by the announcers) to UNC's offensive rebounding

-Bobby wasted 3 consecutive possessions with forced 3's or running floaters, very uncharacteristic of him

-Ty must be winded, or just having an off night, he's 5-9 from the line (83.5% last year, meaning the odds of a 5-9 stretch are around 3.8%)

-West coast games and 10 pm tip-offs are lame

Edit: Looks like we won't be playing Arizona anymore, sadly its just another sign of their declining program (H/T Fanhouse)

Thursday, November 20

The Lowdown on the ACC Coastal Mess...

...or How I learned to stop hoping and realize UNC isn't going to the ACC Championship game.

So, there are several games to be played, but as of now, it looks like there are 5 teams all with 3 losses in the ACC Coastal (assuming GT holds on to its 34-10 41-16 lead over Miami). Two of these teams play each other (UVA-VT), so the season will end with a maximum of 4 teams tied with 3 losses. Also, Georgia Tech is in the "clubhouse" as it were, playing the final week out of the ACC (@ Georgia). From the ACC's website here are the rules on deciding who plays in the ACC Championship game:

Three-Team Tie (or More):
(Once tie has been reduced to two teams, the two-team tiebreaker format is used.)
1. Combined head-to-head record among teams.
This one gives VA Tech/UVA winner the inside track, among the 4 teams with only 3 losses UNC and the VT/UVA winner are 2-1, GT and Miami are 1-2, also both VT and UVA beat UNC head to head (see #1 in Two-Team Tie below) sending either to the ACC Championship game
2. Records of the tied teams within the division.
3. Head-to-head competiton sic versus the team within the division with the best overall (divisional or conference) record, and proceeding through the division. Multiple ties within the division will be broken first to last.
4. Overall record for non-divisional teams.
5. Combined record versus all common non-divisional teams.
6. Record versus common non-divisional with the best
overall Conference (divisional and non divisional record) and
proceeding through the other common non-divisional teams
based on their order of finish within the division.
7. The tied team with the highest ranking in the BCS Standings following the conclusion of regular season games shall be the divisional representative in the ACC Championship Game.
8. The representative shall be chosen by draw.

Two-Team Tie:
1. Head-to-head competition between the two tied teams.
I've deleted rules 2-8 because not only are they repeats of the above 2-8, but they also are moot, since all of the teams in consideration have played and none have played to a tie.

What it all means
Basically, only Virginia and Virginia Tech control their own destinies. If they both win this weekend, they play next weekend (in Blacksburg) for the Coastal Division and a ticket to the ACC Championship Game. If either team lose either game, UNC is in the driver's seat, assuming they can win out. So pull hard for the Blue Devils in Blacksburg this weekend.

Update: I found a situation that I overlooked. If VT wins the VT/UVA game, and UNC has lost a game to NC State or Duke, there would be 3 teams with 3 losses VT, Miami, GA Tech. Using tiebreak #1 these three teams are all 1-1 against themselves (VT beat GA Tech beat Miami beat VT...). Then you would move to tiebreak #2, and using that rule, since VT would have more Coastal Division wins than the other two teams (they beat UNC while both GA Tech and Miami lost to UNC) they would still move on.

Wednesday, November 19

Week 12 Lines

FavoriteSpreadUnderdogDayTime
@Pittsburgh-10.5CincinnatiThurs8:15
@Cleveland-3HoustonSun1:00
Buffalo-3@Kansas City Sun1:00
@Tennessee-5.5NY JetsSun1:00
@Miami-1.5New EnglandSun1:00
@Dallas-10San FranciscoSun1:00
Tampa Bay -8 @Detroit Sun 1:00
@Baltimore -1 Philadelphia Sun 1:00
Chicago -8 @St. Louis Sun 1:00
@Jacksonville -2 Minnesota Sun 1:00
@Denver -9.5 Oakland Sun 4:05
@Atlanta -1 Carolina Sun 4:15
Washington -3.5 @Seattle Sun 4:15
NY Giants -3 @Arizona Sun 4:15
@San Diego -3 Indianapolis Sun 8:15
@New Orleans -2.5 Green Bay Mon 8:35


As usual calling that game will need to be done by kickoff of 5:00 pm Friday, whichever comes first

Ouch

North Carolina forward Zeller out for the season

This is just my opinion, but I don't think the Kentucky player who fouled Zeller should be held at fault for the wrist. Byron and I both agreed that it was questionable whether Zeller was actually fouled in the first place, and it didn't appear from watching the replays that the Kentucky player caused him to land funny on his wrist. Zeller was going at top speed down the floor, drew enough contact for him to miss the dunk (but certainly not enough to be an intentional foul), and thus was coming down too quickly to be able to brace his fall properly. Again, just my thoughts.

Update: From SI "Zeller had surgery Wednesday to repair fractures in two places, a recovery that normally would take 12 to 16 weeks." Also, thanks for the info from Byron, looks he is opting for surgery and that it is a pretty severe break. Just an FYI: 16 weeks is March 11th but the Heels may take the medical red-shirt route.

Monday, November 17

Week 11 Standings

Briefly, a standings update:
1) Jason 9-2-1 (3, 9.5)
2) Ryan 7-4-1 (2, 7.5)
3) John 7-2-0 (1, 7)
4) Kevin 4-7-1 (0, 4.5)

Sorry, Kevin
Collective: 7-1-0

Sunday, November 16

UNC-Penn Musings

Primarily, I just want to emphasize the volume of possessions that is currently missing from UNC's offense. I feel comfortable using last season's stats, because the Heels starting five is unchanged from last season.

Hansbrough 81% minutes 27% possessions = 22% of total off possessions
Ginyard 70% minutes 14% possessions = 10% of total off possessions

That's nearly one third of the offense, not just when the starting five were on the floor, but for the entire game. Now taking that into consideration, am I terribly concerned we settled for jump shots all game? No.

All things considered the freshmen looked good. They made some silly mistakes that should be eliminated by mid-December, such as Zeller missing a cut Lawson expected him to make and Ed Davis throwing away fast break outlet pass. On the plus side, Ed Davis is a monster on the glass (see below), Zeller has some slick range on his jumper, and I really like Larry Drew's defensive intensity against dribble penetration (were you watching Wayne?). Some things to look out for in both the short and long term, does Zeller's start Saturday mean he'll be the first big man off the bench (behind Danny of course)? I was under the assumption that Ed Davis would fill that role, but it could have been that Coach Williams thinks that Zeller's strengths (jumper with range, average rebounding) compliment Thompson better than Davis' do. Also, watch Larry Drew's progression. He is in a position similar to that of Quentin Thomas, a freshman (QT/Drew) with an established starter ahead of him (Felton/Lawson) and a star recruit nipping at his heels (Lawson/Dexter Strickland). Will Drew be a contributor this season and a starter in the future, or will he simply warm the seat through next December when Strickland assumes the mantle of the next "faster with the ball" Roy Williams point guard?

Negatives
Ok, we'll go with the negatives first. Penn shot the ball way too well, nearly 50% eFG is too high for a team that needs to up the defense to win more games. Hopefully Marcus Ginyard can help out in this department, along with better teamwork as the year progresses. Also, way way way way too many threes. The team took an average of 22% of its field goals from behind the arc last year, against Penn that number ballooned to 36%. Hopefully the return of Hansbrough will help to refocus the offense inside the paint, where it belongs.

Positives
Without Tyler, the offensive rebounding did not suffer. The Heels rebounded 37% of their own misses a notch below the 42% average. Tyler returning should improve that number, both in talent level, and ideally in taking more inside shots and shooting a better percentage from the field. Helping in the cause was Ed Davis, with 4 offensive rebounds (out of 14 total boards) in only 22 minutes, a monstrous 25 OR%. Also, though jump shots and threes were the preferred method of scoring, they did come as a result of good ball movement (or friendly score keeping). 78% of the made field goals were assisted, up from only 50% last year. Lastly, Danny Green has picked up right where he left off filling the stat sheet from corner to corner: 5-7 FG, 2-4 3FG, 12 Pts, 4 Asts, 3 Stls, 4 Rbs (1 OR), and 0 TO's. Don't worry Danny, the blocks will come.

Next Up: UK, @Chapel Hill, Tues Nov 18, 9:00 pm, ESPN

Liveblog Cason?

Despite John's being logged in to my computer during the Panthers game, Ryan was the author of this post, sheesh

Wednesday, November 12

Week 11 Spreads

Week 11 means, No More Bye Weeks!!!! We've got a full slate of 16 games to choose from this week, and a Thursday game to boot. As usual, a Thursday pick should be in by game time, the rest can wait until 5:00 Friday:

FavoriteSpreadUnderdogDayTime
@New England -3.5 NY Jets Thurs 8:15
@Atlanta -6 Denver Sun 1:00
@Miami -10.5 Oakland Sun 1:00
@NY Giants -6.5 Baltimore Sun 1:00
@Indianapolis -8 Houston Sun 1:00
@Green Bay -4 Chicago Sun 1:00
Philadelphia -9 @Cincinnati Sun 1:00
New Orleans -5.5 @Kansas City Sun 1:00
@Carolina -14.5 Detroit Sun 1:00
@Tampa Bay -3.5 Minnesota Sun 1:00
@San Francisco -6 St. Louis Sun 4:05
Arizona -3 @Seattle Sun 4:05
Tennessee -3 @Jacksonville Sun 4:15
@Pittsburgh -4 San Diego Sun 4:15
Dallas -1.5 @Washington Sun 8:15
@Buffalo -5.5 Cleveland Mon 8:35


Ooooooh, a Table!!!! (You better appreciate it...)

After the 4 pm 8 pm Sunday games:
Jason 3-0
Ryan 2-1
John 1-2
Kevin 0-3

Sunday, November 9

Sunday Pick Update

Here are the standings after Sunday's games, Kevin is still waiting on the results of tomorrow's Arizona/SanFran contest (he picked Arizona giving 9.5 points). Carolina made us sweat out its 17-6 victory, while the Ravens coasted to an easy victory for everyone (hey Vegas, get it together, the Ravens are a good football team). The Titans were also a winner, while the Falcons more than held up to their 1 point line.

1) Jason 6-2-1 (3, 6.5)
2) John 6-0-0 (3, 6)
3) Ryan 5-3-1 (3, 5.5)
4) Kevin 4-4-1 (1, 4.5)

I'll adjust Kevin's totals tomorrow, a correct pick would bring him into a tie for 3rd. The Cardinals got the win, but failed to cover the 9.5 point spread (29-24). Next week's lines should be up some time on Wednesday.


Edit: Just an FYI, but as a group we're 5-1-0 on picks more than one of us agree on (with none of us dissenting), of that Baltimore has been a big boost, 2-0-0 in 3 weeks.

Lee Pace is the man

As I noted in my last post, I intended to email the Extra Points mailbag to find out the last time we wore navy jerseys at home. I emailed him at 12:57 with my question, and he just answered my question at 2:15. Awesome turnaround time. I have no idea if my question will make it onto the Mailbag article he writes weekly, but that's still beyond excellent response time. I've spent thousands at Marriotts and never gotten feedback to my questions this quickly, even when I email the manager.

Lee Pace, consider this your shoutout. You earned it. I would also encourage anyone to email Mr Pace if you have any obscure questions about our football program.

PS - Here's the contents of my email:

Lee,
When was the last time UNC wore non-Carolina Blue jerseys at home like on Saturday? Have we worn navy or white at home for some special reason before?

Cason Dwyer, ‘07
Madison, WI


Response:

We haven't worn navy jerseys home or away since the final game of the 1959 season.

LP


It looks like we broke out the navy jerseys for the first time in almost 50 years. Good call, Butch.

Saturday, November 8

Ramblin Wreck Wrap

Strong win for the Heels today over Ga Tech, 28-7. Once again, we were outgained yet won comfortably because our opponents insist upon turning the ball over. My brother from a different mother, Jonathan Dwyer, rushed for 157 yards. However, over half of the yards came from an 85 yd touchdown run late in the 4th quarter.

Cam Sexton continues to do everything he can to retain his job as game manager by throwing for a piddly 100 yds and a not-so-piddly 2 TDs. I'm sure that Ga Tech put about 5 guys on Hakeem Nicks after seeing what happened against BC so I will let it slide.

Also, for our readers who are on the Thorpe or Bednarik award selection committees, Trimane Goddard has 5 interceptions so far this season.

One question I have is why were we wearing our road unis at home today. Tech wore white, so what gives with the navy jerseys?


Edit: Trimane Goddard has 6 interceptions this season. Bednarik and Thorpe voters, please take note. I also submitting a mailbag question for Adam Lucas: when was the last time UNC wore non-Carolina blue jerseys at home?

Wednesday, November 5

Week 10 Lines

(sans Indy-Pitt)

Favorite Line Underdog
Jacksonville -6.5 @Detroit
Tennessee -3 @Chicago
@New England -4 Buffalo
@Atlanta -1 New Orleans
@NY Jets -8 St. Louis
@Miami -9 Seattle
@Minnesota -2.5 Green Bay
Carolina -9 @Oakland
@San Diego -15 Kansas City
@Philadelphia -3 NY Giants
Baltimore PK @Houston
@Arizona -9.5 San Francisco

Like I said, I'll post Indy-Pitt when at least 3 casinos set their line for the game, but for estimation I'd guess -3 or -4 Pittsburgh

Thursday Game!

Just to let everyone know, there is a Thursday game this week, here is the line:

@Cleveland -3 Denver

Most of the lines are up, I'll post them soon, but I'd like to wait to see what Indy-Pittsburgh looks like (none of the casinos are opening it for betting until Big Ben's status is known). I'd venture a guess that if Big Ben goes, the Steelers (at home) will be favored by 4.

If you want to call this game, post by kickoff, if you're curious about the rest of the lines, I usually average these.

Sunday, November 2

What a difference a week makes

With the added competition on board, everyone stepped up their game. 3 of us nailed our 3 team parlays for perfect 3-0 records, while I missed out on the GB/Tenn game (damn Titans, 7-0 ATS, WTF), leaving myself at 2-1 on the week:

1t) Jason 3-2-1 (3.5 pts)
1t) Kevin 3-2-1 (3.5 pts)
3) John 3-0-0 (3 pts)
4) Ryan 2-3-1 (2.5 pts)

Winning bets included Philly, Baltimore (u), Arizona, Miami (u), Minny, NY Jets (u), and Green Bay (u)

Wednesday, October 29

Week 9 Lines

Via the comments from week 8, we all ended up at 0-2-1, losing bets were placed on Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, and San Fran while we all pushed the New England/St Louis game (but with different bets).

Favorite Line Underdog
@Minnesota -4.5 Houston
Jacksonville -7.5 @Cincinnati
Tampa Bay -8 @Kansas City
@Cleveland -2 Baltimore
@Buffalo -5.5 NY Jets
Arizona -3 @St. Louis
@Chicago -13 Detroit
@Tennessee -5.5 Green Bay
@Denver -3 Miami
Atlanta -3 @Oakland
@NY Giants -8 Dallas
Philadelphia -7 @Seattle
@Indy -5.5 New England
@Washington -2 Pittsburgh

Monday, October 27

In response to Ryan

There hasn't been much talk of the latest episode of 'As the Favre Turns.' There's been no mention of it around the water cooler here at work. I recall it was a topic on local sports talk radio, but the hosts didn't really get angry after they thought about it.

Remember, it's Favre talking THE LIONS about the Packers playbook, not the Bears or Vikings. The hosts felt that Brett was just trying to give the Lions a chance the next time around. The first time these two played, in Detroit, the Packers scored 3 TDs in like 2 seconds to put a game that was close out of reach. I'll bet Brett just felt sorry for the Lions.

People are talking about how they are relieved that the Badgers finally won a Big 10 game on Saturday. Things were starting to look ugly for Bucky before they got their act together against the Fightin' Zooks.

In other news, it snowed yesterday. The Farmer's Almanac predicts 140 in. of snow for us. I can't wait.

Friday, October 24

Week 8 Lines

Oakland
Baltimore -7

San Diego -3
New Orleans

Kansas City
New York Jets -13.5

Buffalo -1.5
Miami

Tampa
Dallas -2.5

Atlanta
Philadelphia -9

St Louis
NE -7

Arizona
Carolina -4

Washington -7.5
Detroit

Cleveland
Jacksonville -7

New York Giants
Pittsburgh -3

Seattle
SF -5

Cincy
Houston -9.5

Indy
Tennessee -4

Wednesday, October 22

Taking the Temperature of Wisconsin

Not sure if you've read this yet. Basically it seems to be the wrapping up of a strange story decidedly not dominating the sports news cycle (thanks, ESPN), about Brett Favre talking to Lions staff about preparing for playing the Packers in week 2. Brett initially denied the story, ESPN refused to run it because they heard it was bogus (and they have a huge man-crush on Brett Farve, not to mention an interest in not seeing his image tarnished). My main question for Cason is what does it feel like in Packer-town? I don't know any huge Packer fans, but I can't think of a player more automatically linked to a team over the past 15+ years than Favre is to the Packers, so its hard for me to find an equivalent breech of sports ethics (if only for the magnitude of Favre/Packers) than this. Is everyone up in arms, or is it all quiet on the western front (of Lake Michigan)?

Wednesday, October 15

UNC-Texas?

Just saw this on Fanhouse and thought I'd pass it along. Apparently UNC officials are in talks with Jerry Jones' people to schedule a college basketball game for the 2009-2010 season in the new Cowboys stadium. While this does symbolize moving more and more towards stupid non-basketball arenas hosting college basketball games, placing money making ahead of fan experience, something I'm obviously not happy about, it also shows that we might be going to play Texas in a semi-away game next year, and a harder schedule is something I'm always excited about.

Edit: I have since read that a deal has been struck, UNC will go to the new Texas Stadium Jerry Jones Coliseum to play Texas, with Texas returning the favor for a semi-away game in Greensboro for 2010-2011.

Monday, October 13

NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

Brandon Tate is out for the year with a torn ACL and MCL. Hopefully he will recover from this week's upcoming surgery in time for NFL draft evaluations. This is a bad break for the Heels now that we are finding ourselves on national TV more often.

I know Hakeem Nicks (Brad Nessler, please note that it's 'Nicks' and not 'Hicks') can pick up the slack, but Brooks Foster needs to be ready to hold onto the ball. You too, Cooter. I have not received any information about our TE, Zach Pinalto, who was injured Saturday.

Link: http://tarheelblue.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/101308aad.html

Friday, September 5

What do Rashad McCants and Reggie Bush have in common?

So, here it is, the days between the Thursday night opening game and the rest of the NFL's smorgasbord of Sunday games. Its sorta like the brief interlude of breakfast on Christmas morning, right after you've already gone through your stocking, but before you settle in to open your wrapped presents and visit the relatives. Anyways, I'm going to use this brief interlude to introduce our new NFL game here at tfsb. So, here are the rules (I think, at least, assuming Cason and John buy in).
  • Every week we'll each pick 1 RB, 1 WR, and 1 QB
  • For each player that gain or throw for more than 100/300 yards, we'll earn a point
  • The first 3 weeks we'll rotate the picking order
  • From there we'll award the spots in inverse order of standings (Or maybe rotate through even turns with a sympathy "last place" week thrown in?)
  • Each person can only pick any given player twice (thrice?) during the season
Alright, let's now wait for input from John and Cason, and see where we stand. Ideally, this will work, and we'll "draft" our 3 man teams before Sunday.

Now, onto the actual title of the post, The Big Lead is reporting some news about our old friend Rashad McCants is appearing at public events with one of the Kardashian sisters (Khloe, in case you're keeping track). Maybe he should be focused on upholding the UNC legacy in the pros or working hard to make sure he gets the best of his first post-rookie FA deal. Nah, shouldn't be an issue, you can just come back here and hang out with Reyshawn (saw him at Target last weekend).

Tuesday, August 26

Heels' 08-09 Schedule Announced

Looks like I'll be in the Windy City on Dec 20th. Unfortunately, Detroit is too far to drive for the MSU game, but hopefully we'll play two more games there this coming season....

2008-2009 Mens's Basketball Schedule:
http://northcarolina.scout.com/3/bbschedule.html

Thursday, August 21

Hello? Is this thing on?

Wow, how loyal of google/blogspot to keep the blog up and running while John and I were slumbering through the dog days of August and the booooring second half of the baseball season. The sports scene is picking up again, and its time to put the blog back in its regular rotation. The return of NFL action and college basketball being just around the corner should have John and I posting at near '06 levels (ah, the blog honeymoon years). Keeping up the analogy, John and I have decided to add a new "partner" to the mix, we welcome one time guest poster and long time friend Cason Dwyer to the fold. Cason will help us nail down the inside scoop on how the Packers look without Brett Favre for the first time since Bush was in office I was in Kindergarten. We also need to make a decision about what NFL contest we'd like to pursue this year. Pick 'em is so 2 years ago, I'm thinking we'll mix it up with one of those "pick the 100 yd rusher/reciever" games like they play on the Sunday NFL pregame shows (but a good showing for Pick 'em in the comments would go a long way to granting it a stay of execution for the season).

Ok, enough blabbering, the real motive for my posting (other than to kickoff the blog season) is to link to the great AA piece:
"grab onto those giant condor-like wings arms and ride....RIDE....young Michael Phelps to ratings gold, NBC!"

NBC has decided to do just that, hoping to glean what ratings they can from the greatest Olympian of all time they've picked up several swimming world and US championships. Will these events be even half as popular as the Olympics? My money's on no, but only time will tell, you never know how many "Phelps Phans" there are out there.

On another note, if you enjoy long conversations about the arbitrary rules and negotiations that surround MLB's mid-June draft, be sure to read this interview with Nationals' GM Jim Bowden about the attempted signing of #9 overall pick Aaron Crow (SP Missouri).

Edit: As of today's date (August 21st) all Tar Heel early entrants to the NBA Draft have elected to return to school. The Heels only underclassman loss is Alex Stepheson who is transferring to USC to be closer to his family and ailing father. We regret the error and the lack of immediate updated coverage and hope none of our loyal readers were confused (or miffed).

Saturday, June 14

Reassessing the Heels

Alright, a lot has happened since we last spoke, and we mainly have Tywon Lawson to thank for that, though to be fair Danny Green hasn't operated completely within his character either. So, to take a look at the situations of the 3 draft declared Heels right at the cusp of the June 16th deadline.

Ty Lawson - Gone, see you later, it was nice knowing you, kiss him goodbye. Ty's stock, as always, was the highest of the three, and it looks as if he has the top 20 spot he said he'd stay in the draft for. On top of that, even if he slips, the teams rumored to be targeting him are New Orleans and San Antonio, which both make for a pretty good gig.

Wayne Ellington - Wayne's stock is, reportedly, borderline first round. However, he doesn't appear to be picked anywhere in the draft at either nbadraft.net or draftexpress.com. I have to assume they're thinking Wayne knows he isn't guaranteed a first round choice (thus a contract), and will be headed back to school. That is what I fully expect Wayne to do, especially given his financial situation.

Danny Green - Danny is the wild card of the bunch. He's got Wayne's draft stock (or worse) but seems to have Ty's mentality for getting out of school ASAP. This creates a problem, as if he stays in the draft he'll likely end up floating around the NBDL or Europe. Not that there is anything wrong with that, many productive college players end up in one of those two venues, however, given the shot he'd have at another Final Four run, I don't know why he'd pass that up, other than the financial need of his family. I really can't say here, I could see him staying in the draft, but it would seem to be better for all parties if he stayed all four years.

Now, lets take a moment to look at the 08-09 Heels:

PG Frasor
SG Ellington
SF Ginyard
PF Hansbrough
C Thompson

Bench: G Larry Drew, G Will Graves, F Danny Green, F Tyler Zeller, F Ed Davis, F Alex Stepheson

Not quite the prohibitive title favorites everyone was crowning after the Final Four, but definitely a deep, talented, experienced squad who is well-poised to defend their ACC title. The interesting bit is, would potentially returning Danny Green see the starting lineup?

Friday, April 25

Wow

The seemingly least likely scenario has come true, Ellington and Lawson will test the waters, Tyler is here to stay.

http://northcarolina.scout.com/2/749667.html

Projected UNC Lineup:

PG Frasor
SG Ginyard
SF Green
PF Hansbrough
C Thompson

Bench: G Larry Drew, G Will Graves, F Alex Stepheson, F Tyler Zeller, F Ed Davis

Obviously Lawson/Ellington would resume their posts at the guard spots were they to return. Looks like Will Graves is going to have to step it up if not, as the Heels' backcourt depth is suddenly nonexistent.

Thursday, April 24

Rumor Mongering

I don't know how many people actually read the blog this time of year, what with the NFL off-season and NCAA quieting down, but this is from AOL Fanhouse:

Tyler Hansbrough to enter NBA Draft

He's apparently not going to hire an agent, so he could come back, but just wants to go to the camps and see if he can help his draft stock any. I'd say now (per DraftExpress and NBADraft.net) that he's in the mid-20's. I'd guess that if he plays his way into the lottery, he'd stay, but anything short of that he'll return as he could just go pro as a senior with the same results. This is easily the smart move, since you can "test the waters" once and come back, and he isn't testing the waters next year, its for real. Also, apparently Lawson is coming back as well. He's got a similar draft position to Tyler's, around 20, and has a myriad of PGs ahead of him. If he doesn't play any better next year he'll improve his stock just by the lack of PG's in the draft.

Projected UNC Lineup:
PG Lawson
SG Ellington
SF Ginyard
PF Stepheson (Hansbrough?)
C Thompson

Bench: G Bobby Frasor, G Larry Drew, G Will Graves, F Danny Green, F Tyler Zeller, F Ed Davis

Sunday, April 6

Reliving Georgetown...

..but this time in reverse. There are some eery similarities between the two games, namely scoring droughts. In the Kansas game, the UNC offense finished the first half on an awful scoring drought, whereas in the Georgetown game the drought took place to finish the game and carried into overtime. There were a number of reasons for the overall offensive inefficiency. The Jayhawks didn't miss many shots (at least outside of their 2nd half drought) and played excellent transition defense, eliminating the Heels #1 and #2 options, the primary and secondary breaks. Then there was the smothering Kansas defense in the halfcourt which forced 18 turnovers (23.1%) and recorded 9 blocks (another 20.9%). Finally the Heels only got 29.5% of their own misses, down for their average 42%, and which is made all the more important by the fact that a poor eFG% (39.5%) and thus about 6 or 8 extra OR opportunities. Speaking of Effective Field Goal Percentage, in the past two years, 77 games, the Heels have shot under 40% eFG twice, against Georgetown in 2007 and against Kansas in 2008. Not that the Kansas defense doesn't deserve all the praise in the world for giving the Heels tough looks, but the Heels missed both dumb contested shots and a few shots I've seen them make all season.

Friday, April 4

Pouring out the Deon Thompson Haterade

Alright, in light of the recent work of Ken Pomeroy, its time to revisit some of our past work here at TFSB. In this article, Ken points out how wrong he was doubting Deon Thompson. Now, earlier in the season I looked at the main two big men filling the pterodactyl-sized hole at the 4-spot in the Heels' lineup. Also, as many of you who have taken in a game with me know, I wasn't Deon's biggest fan then. But, as you will see below, Deon Thompson has really stepped it up this year, despite the claims of idiot columnists over at SI. Ok, well, idiot is a strong word, but if KenPom has put that same prior thought in with his top 5 blunders of the year perhaps is time we stopped lamenting the loss of Brandan Wright and begun celebrating a great 4-year big man who would be getting way more props if not for this kid.





Wow, what a difference a year makes. Let's get the main complaints out of the way first: yes, Deon doesn't shoot 65% eFG (well, essentially FG% since they're big men) and his offensive rating isn't 119, but honestly, whose is? The offense isn't the issue since Tyler, Ty and Wayne have improved drastically in that category (they're all +5, from 115/116/120 to 121/124/126). Deon's ORtg has improved in its own right, from 93 to 100, mostly thanks to dropping the TORate to near Wright-ian levels (the mid teens), almost doubling his free throw rate (14 to 25), and improving his FT% (20 to 58). That's right, Deon now shoots free throws better than even Brandan Wright!! Now for the impressive part: his rebounding numbers have stayed constant, even through tougher competition, his assist rate has slightly improved, and his block rate has shot up to Brandan Wright-like levels. Ladies and gentlemen, for all intents and purposes, the Heels have replaced Brandan Wright, and it only took Deon a year to catch on. To revisit the Alex situation, he has improved very similarly to Deon, raising his ORtg a similar 7 points, dropping the TORate about 5 as well. The only problem is he's now eerily similar to the December version of Deon Thompson, while Deon is a whole new player.

Wednesday, March 12

Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble

San Diego, George Mason, & Western Kentucky

um, so yeah. This was going to be a post about lost bubble spots. Teams like VA Tech, Ohio St and Kentucky should be sweating it out now that three leagues that have no business crashing the big dance are likely getting multiple bids. Now, what I'm actually going to do is follow suit and give my best guess as to who will be on the ACC All-Freshman team, especially since the actual version will be released soon.

Kyle Singler, Duke
JJ Hickson, NC State
Terrance Oglesby, Clemson
Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
Jeff Allen, Virginia Tech

That's also my best guess as to the order of votes received, I think a couple of players will be getting the shaft here, both James Johnson and Malcolm Delaney have had noteworthy years but will likely be sad victims of vote splitting among teammates. IF either of them get the nod it would likely be Johnson over Oglesby or Allen.

First Team All-ACC

Just doing a little spring cleaning around here - I was putting some things away, brushed the dust off a few magazines, and something caught my eye underneath some chips on the coffee table...it was a blog! Our blog! So I cleaned it off and decided to give it a shiny new post before the ACC and NCAA Tournaments get underway. Today I'll give my First Team All-ACC and later I'll give some awards like I did last year (best pure shooter, best blocker, etc.).

Tyler Hansbrough
Sean Singletary
Tyrese Rice
Wayne Ellington
DeMarcus Nelson

These guys all played out of control this year, with Rice and Singletary playing on sub-par teams and as a consequence playing more minutes than the other three, boosting their value. Rice earned some well-deserved national attention when he dropped 34 points on UNC at the beginning of March...in the first half of the game. Hansbrough and Ellington are the key weapons on a balanced UNC squad this year, and DeMarcus Nelson is the best all-around player on a dangerous Duke team. Hansbrough was awarded ACC Player of the Year earlier this week, and if you've not heard yet, he'll have his jersey number (50) retired after he finishes up as a result of being named The Sporting News Player of the Year.

Monday, February 25

What about Ty?

So, with the impending (we all hope) return of the Heels' starting PG Ty Lawson, many of us are left to wonder: what wonderful offensive progress will said return bring? To dig deeper and answer (or attempt to answer) this question, I compared the tempo-free performance of Carolina's ACC games with and without Lawson. For statistical equivalence I left the Duke game off, since the other 12 games are against opponents that can be considered roughly equal. In addition, UNC has played a couple of teams both with and without Lawson (Clemson and NC State), helping to balance out the statistics.

There are 5 measurements that differ between the Lawson-led Heels and the Quentin Thomas-led Heels, and they fall into 3 categories:

1) Have Nothing to do with who is playing point guard (or if they do I have no idea how):
Defensive Efficiency has gotten much better for the Heels. Not too much stock can be placed in this stat since the teams UNC has faced aren't normalized in any way. Also, it doesn't make much sense other than the fact that the lineup has gotten taller. I don't think anyone would try to tell you that Thomas is a better defender than Lawson, even considering his 3 or 4 extra inches. I'd like to think that the team has collectively picked up its defense since Lawson's offensive impact is missing.

2) Have Something to do with who is playing point guard:
Effective FG% and Free Throw Rate have both seen marked jumps in the time since Lawson left the lineup. This isn't due to either Lawson or Thomas but the fact that the offense now runs more through Tyler Hansbrough, who makes a higher percentage of shots and gets to the free throw line more than pretty much anyone, period.

3) Have Everything to do with who is playing point guard:
These are the important things; the team's change over the past weeks in Turnover Rate, Pace, and Offensive Efficiency are all due to Ty Lawson's bum ankle. Without Lawson in the lineup a less effective ballhandler is always toting the rock (be it Thomas for Lawson or Ginyard for Thomas). Also, there are far fewer possessions that the Raycom cameraman misses by zooming in on someone popping their jersey or pounding their chest, which means we've been playing slower. Also, since the Heels aren't getting those easy layups in transition their overall Offensive Efficiency is down.

So, to overstate the obvious, the Heels miss Ty Lawson, and should benefit from an added 6 to 8 non-empty possessions per game upon his return. Let's just hope they don't forget to feed the machine down low.

All of the specific stats can be found here. (Don't you just love Google Docs?)

Diamond Heels sweep FAU to begin 2008 season

UNC played Florida Atlantic this weekend in baseball, sweeping the series and starting off the 2008 season 3-0. This from TarHeelBlue:

"Carolina clubbed 11 home runs and added six doubles for a .675 slugging percentage in the series sweep at Florida Atlantic, which marked just the eighth sweep on the road for UNC in the last eight seasons. Left fielder Dustin Ackley and center fielder Seth Williams each hit three home runs, and second baseman Kyle Seager added two."

"National player of the year candidate Dustin Ackley had at least three hits in each game this weekend and finished with a .714 average (10-14), three home runs, seven RBI and five runs scored. He belted a pair of solo shots Friday and added a three-run blast in Sunday's series finale for six home runs in his last seven games dating to last year's College World Series. The Walnut Cove, N.C., native was 4-for-4 Friday for his sixth career four-hit game and followed with back-to-back three-hit games to close the series. Ackley finished with a 1.429 slugging percentage on the weekend." Ackley has a .706 OBP to go along with his 1.429 slugging percentage to begin the season.

Thursday, February 21

The Duke Dilemma

Just as an FYI (to those of you who read this site regularly but don't follow college basketball) Duke appears to have found a bit of a sour patch en route to replicating its ACC perfection of 1999. Now, many people seem to know why this happens to Duke, however, I'm personally more interested in why it happened to Duke this time and if it has revealed a chink in the Blue Devils' armor. So, to try and find what went wrong (statistically) within the Devils last two games, I decided to compare (using the appropriately named statsheet.com) their first 10 ACC games (10-0, average margin of victory +14 pts) with their last two (0-2, -7 points).

Individually, these games differed greatly from each other. The points per possessions stat tells the story with Wake Forest able to limit the Duke offense (88 ppp versus and average of 116) while Miami's offense dominated the Duke "D" (113 ppp compared to 97). This is echoed in the eFG%, Duke shot 46.8% against Wake (54.5 ACC average) while Miami shot 63.1% against Duke (49.8% opponents average), while Duke held Wake exactly to their defensive average and shot exactly their offensive average against Miami. So, 2 ACC loses that Duke can blame on entirely different ends of the floor.

However, there are 2 statistical abberations that both games have in common. The first is the overall pace. Duke plays a fairly high pace game, 2nd in the ACC only to UNC. Both Miami and Wake average 70 possessions a game or fewer (Duke is at 74.5 in ACC play), so you'd think that neither would want to push the pace against a Duke team at home when the tempo reaches the 80's. In both losses, the games were the fastest Duke has played in the ACC (83 and 85 possessions), tied only by their game against fellow roadrunner UNC. The reason for the high pace was that Duke turned the ball over on 10% more of their possessions than average, in both games. Duke averages a turnover on 16% of possessions, but in these games they were forced to 26.5% and 27%. Their only other ACC game above 18% was when Duke hosted FSU. So, what's the formula for beating the Devils? Apparently "get the freaking ball". This should come to no shock, as Duke is not known for their rebounding, if a team can force them into empty possessions and limit their overall chances, you may very well have Duke on the ropes. However, this is easier said than done when playing a team that starts 4 guards.

To view the Duke vs ACC opponents spreadsheet (with thanks to statsheet.com) click here.

Wednesday, February 6

Bubblicious

Alright everyone, just going to put up a predictive post about the NCAA Tournament field. Using ESPN's bubble watch, I picked out the "Work Left To Do" teams and looked at both their KP rating, consistency, and predicted records via RPI Forecast (which is essentially KP's predictor). So, I took these components and weighted them to give each team a score that represents how they should finish the season.



The yellow highlights the teams that should make the tournament, given that all those in the "Should Be In" category make the cut, and taking 2 at-large bids for mid-majors (South Alabama anyone?), and 1 more for the occasional conference tournament upset I'm not confident that both Drake and Butler will win their conference tournaments. As a side note, VA Tech (just making it as of yesterday) lost last night to NC State, so knock them down a rung and promote the next middling ACC team.

Monday, February 4

2/4 Top 25

The picture is finally starting to get clearer for the best teams in the country as there were nine teams that were in all three lists this week but didn't quite make the Top 25.

1. Memphis
2. Duke
3. Kansas
4. North Carolina
5. UCLA
6. Georgetown
7. Tennessee
8. Wisconsin
9. Xavier
10. Stanford
11. Marquette
12. Michigan St.
13. Washington St.
14. Texas
15. Kansas St.
16. Drake
17. Indiana
18. Connecticut
19. Arizona
20. Butler
21. Texas A&M
22. Louisville
23. Pittsburgh
24. Clemson
25. Notre Dame


Just missed the cut: Saint Mary's, Arkansas, Gonzaga, Mississippi, Southern California, Oklahoma, UNLV, Florida, Baylor

Friday, February 1

Game by Game Ratings

Hello folks, sorry for the long hiatus, but I'm back and soon (well, after this weekend) I'll be all college basketball all of the time. Anyways, First I'd like to go ahead and endorse, err pick the Patriots in the Super Bowl (sorry about that, too much debate watching). They'll get all 10 of my precious points. Now, onto the real reason I'm posting. I've been toiling away at a game by game measurement of the Tar Heels' offensive and defensive performances. I wanted to find a way to represent how well the offense and defense played in each game to see if the team is in as much trouble as people suspect, and also to see how much of the team's struggles have resulted in playing some stiffer competition. The results? Well, check out the nifty graph:

Now, what does that all mean. Ok, lets start with the easiest to understand first, OE-DE. Basically, game by game, our Offensive Efficiency minus our Defensive Efficiency. This roughly translates to score (as you can see, the lone negative value is the Maryland loss) and is a good barometer of how the game went, from domination (SC St, Kent St, Valpo) to close games (Clemson, GT, Maryland). Now, the slightly more complicated part. The red and green (for stop and go), are what I've deemed ratings. I calculated a rating based on two things: Opponent's Adjusted Efficiency (season average) and Actual Game Efficiency (game results). The rating is the difference between that single game, and the team's average on the season, which is then weighted by a adaptation of z-score. So, since Clemson is averaging 115.3 OE on the season, in the game against UNC they had 99.4, this makes that game's rating (after some z-score adjustment) 14.34. The blue line can be used as a guide to see the results of the game, and the red and green lines the respective strengths of UNC's offense and defense. Obviously UNC has won more games relying on offense than defense. As a side note, UNC's forced TO% and OE are now significantly correlated at a 99% CI. Basically, UNC scores more efficiently when forcing more turnovers's, statistically speaking.

Wednesday, January 30

Santana to Mets?

It's unclear to me if the Twins decided that they had to get Johan Santana out of the AL, or if the Red Sox and Yankees had gotten fed up with the process and decided to either keep their young talent or replace the frontline members of the trade with other prospects, but the players the Twins are getting from the Mets (Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Philip Humber and Kevin Mulvey) are just not good enough for a pitcher of Santana's caliber, i.e. the best pitcher in baseball at this point. As Jim Callis, editor of Baseball America, states in this post, "Guerra and Gomez come with high ceilings but also lack a lot of polish and have a long ways to go to reach their potential. The odds that they both will do so are slim." He also projects the two other pitchers as #4 starters on a major league team.

Baseball Prospectus projects Santana as a Met to finish the year with a 2.94 ERA and 239 strikeouts. For reference, Jake Peavy led the majors in strikeouts in 2007 with 240. Scott Kazmir led the AL with 239. Only Peavy would have had a lower ERA in 2007, finishing with a 2.54 mark. This immediately gives credence to a Mets rotation which now includes Santana, Pedro Martinez, John Maine, Orlando Hernandez, and Oliver Perez. The Mets are hoping that Maine, Hernandez, and Perez can all provide the types of performances they gave the Mets last season, but there is cause for concern for all three. Maine will be entering his second full season as a frontline starter, giving opponents a better chance to look at him, and Hernandez and Perez are known more for their inconsistency from year to year than their effectiveness. Nonetheless, combined with the punch that the New York offense provides, the Mets have made themselves the favorites of the NL East with this trade (regardless of what the Braves would have you believe - "Santana deal brings parity to NL East").

Edit: Ryan pointed me to this article by Aaron Gleeman, a writer for Rotoworld. In it he tempers the Twins hating, and provides some hope for Minnesota fans in addition to attempting to rationalize Bill Smith's decision.

Monday, January 28

Top 25 - January 28

Here's this week's Top 25, compiled by averaging the rank of the top 46 teams listed by the AP Poll (46 teams received votes this week), Kenpom, and RPI Forecast, then striking any that were not in the top 46 in another's ranking. This week's big loser was Ohio St., who is 21 in Kenpom and 22 in RPI Forecast, but did not receive a vote in this week's AP Poll, being leapfrogged somehow by teams such as Houston, Saint Joseph's, and VCU. The Buckeyes are 14-6, but their worst loss has been to...Butler, who clocks in at #20 in this week's Top 25. Nine teams were in all three lists, but failed to make the Top 25 this week.


1. Memphis
2. Kansas
3. North Carolina
4. Duke
5. UCLA
6. Georgetown
7. Tennessee
8. Xavier
9. Washington St.
10. Wisconsin
11. Michigan St.
12. Indiana
13. Texas
14. Marquette
15. Drake
16. Stanford
17. Arizona
18. West Virginia
19. Kansas St.
20. Butler
21. Pittsburgh
22. Saint Mary's
23. Louisville
24. Connecticut
25. Mississippi


Just missed the cut: Mississippi St., Florida, Oklahoma, Clemson, USC, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Baylor, Gonzaga

I considered using the BlogPoll this week, but decided against it because it comes out on Wednesdays, and the AP Poll comes out on Mondays. If you have another ranking system you'd like me to use, please comment and I'll try to include it in the future.

Monday, January 21

Top 25 for MLK Day

Okay folks, we're heading into the heart of conference play, and I've compiled a list of the consensus Top 25 teams according to Kenpom, the AP poll, and RPI Forecast, a site that looks at a team's current RPI, looks at the teams it has left to play, and calculates what it thinks will be the rank of everyone's RPIs at the end of the season. Nifty little tool, as it looks beyond wins and losses, but is a little closer to what the average Joe Sports Fan thinks of when he tries to rank teams. Since the AP poll only gave 43 teams votes this week (well, 45 teams, but the bottom three all tied at 43 with one vote), I gave Kenpom and RPI Forecast the chance to give their top 43 teams as well, and then struck any team that was not in all three ballots (if any team wasn't in another's top 43 teams in the country, it isn't deserving of discussion in a Top 25 conversation). 30 teams ended up in all three ballots, and here are the top 25 of those.

1. Kansas
2. Memphis
3. Duke
4. Tennessee
5. North Carolina
6. UCLA
7. Washington St.
8. Georgetown
9. Wisconsin
10. Indiana
11. Michigan St.
12. Xavier
13. West Virginia
14. Marquette
15. Texas
16. Pittsburgh
17. Stanford
18. Drake
19. Texas A&M
20. Clemson
21. Mississippi
22. Kansas St.
23. Butler
24. Saint Mary's
25. Gonzaga


Just missed the cut:
Louisville, Oklahoma, Florida, Southern California, Mississippi St.

Championship Results

Alright folks, I hope we've all learned a lesson from this past weekend. Lucy, do we see what does trash talking gets us? Yep, a whole crap ton of bad kharma.

Ryan: 8 pts 1-1 (10, 5-5)
Cason: 4 pts 1-1 (8, 3-3)
John: 4 pts 1-1 (4, 4-6)
Lucy: -10 pts 0-2 (-6, 5-5)

That's the week's order (and also the order overall as well, it was moving day on the TFSB playoff pick 'em leaderboard), alright everyone, have your thinking caps on for the next two weeks, and be ready to make the big 10 point pick by February 3rd. Everyone is still in the race (ie within 20 points of each other).

Sunday, January 20

Championship Weeekend

Here are my picks for this weekend's action:
New England (9) over San Diego
Green Bay (1) over New York

Despiration time here at TFSB. This is the last oppurtunity to catch the guests, since I'm pretty sure New England will finish out the 19-0. I'm banking things will fall accoring to seed here, but the surprising Giants are who I fear if anyone, so if they can pull the upset I'll make up a little ground, and if not 10 pts!.

Cason's Picks are as follows:
New England (7) over San Diego
Green Bay (3) over NY

John's Championship Round Picks

New England over San Diego (7)

Green Bay over New York (3)

Upset Special: Billy Volek plays quarterback for at least half of the Chargers' snaps

Thursday, January 17

If Tomorrow were March...

Alright folks, we've finally gotten the college basketball season warmed up and a few games into conference play, so obviously its time to skip ahead and begin thinking about everyone's favorite month of the year, March! So, for the next few weeks, John and I will take a look at what the seeding would look like if we didn't have enough information on the teams to seed them properly, so, if we were trying to seed them in mid-January.

#1's - Kansas, UCLA, Memphis, UNC - This is in order of #1-#4 as well, with UNC getting the benefit of the doubt having not yet lost. Kansas has easily been the best team, UCLA has the most impressive wins against good opponents, and Memphis is yet to let anyone get near beating them.

#2's - Duke, Wash St, Georgetown, Tenessee - Duke is playing very good basketball right now (well, except for a certain someone), Wazzu is also playing extremely well (which just makes UCLA that much more impressive), Georgetown, though they haven't exactly proved much of anything, is still hanging around in the polls, we'll tag them the UNC of this grouping (and wait for the meat of the Big East schedule 1/19 ND, 1/26 @WVU, 2/9 @L'ville), and Tennessee seems to have the pollsters hearts as well, though they meet Vandy tonight so we get to see who's the top dog in the SEC.

#3's - West Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Marquette - (This group appears to be where the stats and the voters diverge, we'll stick with the stats, thanks) West Virginia seems to not be garnering much national attention but I would easily rank them above the second half of the top 25 (though no voters seem to agree), Wisconsin is very good at the style of basketball they play (read: Big Ten style) and they're hard to beat when they execute, Indiana is something of a wild card, as they haven't had many oppurtunities to prove themselves, unfortunately we'll have to wait on February before the heavy lifting within the Big Ten schedule arrives, Marquette is another KenPom pal who will have to prove themselves in the coming days (@L'ville 1/17, @UConn 1/20), we'll have a much better idea of what they're capable of next week.

#4's - Xavier, Texas A&M, Clemson, Pitt - Now, rounding out the theoretical Sweet 16, Xavier, recently punished for their A10 blunder, as is Texas A&M, but their track records keep them in the conversation, Clemson seems to have righted the ship, but hanging with the Devils (@Duke 1/19) will be a big test, stay within 5 and they will seem to be the answer for the "who else is in the ACC" question being bandied about, lastly Pitt is here on good faith, they're holding up well without Fields and Cook, but I don't feel like they can play that way for long.

Who's knocking and what they can do to come in - Michigan St - show that 36 pts was an abberation, Butler - we're going to need to see some 20 point Horizon victories, Louisville - beat Marquette tonight, Stanford - show you're the upper middle class of the Pac 10 (AZ 1/17, ASU 1/19 @Cal 1/26)

Wednesday, January 16

Divisional Pick 'em Wrap

Seems like Lucy wrapped this up for us:

Lucy: 4 pts 3-1 (4, 5-3)
Cason: 4 pts 2-2 (4, 2-2)
Ryan: 0 pts 2-2 (2, 4-4)
John: -2 pts 1-3 (0, 3-5)

Not sure how many of you remember, but last year, for the Championship weekend, we decided to allow each picker to allot 10 points to the 2 games (so that the same number of points are awarded this week as were in the first 2 rounds). For an example, last year I gave the Colts over the Pats 6 points and the Bears over the Saints 4. Neither number can be 0, and both integers have to sum to 10. Assign your points wisely.

Oh the games are San Diego @ New England (-14) and New York (N) @ Green Bay (-7). Also, hurry to place your bets on the Super Bowl now, AFC (-12.5) vs. NFC, 12.5 is as low as it will get (mark my words).

Saturday, January 12

Lucy's Divisional Round Picks

New England over Jacksonville (4)
Green Bay over Seattle (3)
Dallas over NY Giants (2)
Indianapolis over San Diego (1)


I noticed that we all have the same teams but thankfully a variety of ranking them as far as the points we assigned each. I could have put Dallas or Greenbay anywhere in the middle I guess when I'm just looking at the rank.

John's Divisional Round Picks

Little late getting these in; long night last night.

4. Colts over Bolts

3. Pats over Jags

2. 'Boys over 'Men

1. 'Hawks over Pack (go hot pants!)

Friday, January 11

Divisional Weekend

Sorry for the brevity here folks:

4Indianapolis - The Bolts are in trouble w/o Gates, they barely beat the injury-ravaged Colts playing in SD against bizzaro Peyton (6 picks)

3Green Bay - Just a step ahead of Seattle, and if Seattle's not at home, it ain't happening (something like 2-6 i think)

2New England - There is a shot, though an outside one, too bad Jax isn't playing Indy, b/c it'd likely make for a better game

1Dallas - Almost went with the upset, but I think the home/rested teams will carry the day

Here are Cason's picks for this week:

4 - New England over Jacksonville

3 - Green Bay over "We want the ball and we're gonna score!"

2 - Indianapolis over San Diego

1 - Dallas over NY
Cason: "I was originally going to pick New York here, but so many people have started calling this upset a sure thing that it makes me wonder. I'll be happy if Eli wins here but I'm leery of the Giants all of a sudden getting too much love. I think Dallas wins in a close one, with or without T.O."

Monday, January 7

Wild Card Wrap Up

We all had so-so weekends, I also like to re-extend the invite to Cason, thanks to our wonderful points system he can jump in now and (with some good picking) keep up, especially after our mediocre weekend.

Ryan: 2 pts, (2-2)
John: 2 pts, (2-2)
Lucy: 0 pts. (2-2)

So, Lucy looked a little too over-reliant the seeding and I should have gone with my gut, oh well, maybe next week. Speaking of: Jax@NE, SD@Ind, NYG@Dal, Sea@GB. And look later for John and my thought on the squeaker over Clemson.

Saturday, January 5

Lucy's Wild Card Weekend Picks

Anyways, down to business my mother's thoughts on Wild Card Weekend...
Seattle over Washington: No idea? She has no thoughts.
Jacksonville over Pittsburg: At first she told me that she thought that the Steelers could win this one since it was a home game but then she changed her mind, I think it was something that dad said that changes her mind, but the ol' man just likes to be difficult.
Tampa Bay over N.Y. Giants: The Giants arn't so hot, and the Buccaneers have a reputation for dominating thier home games.
San Diego over Tennessee: This is obvious because those Chargers are just fabulous. And I was just proud of myself for knowing that the little rainbowed lightening bolt was the logo for the Chargers which is the mascot for San Diego's team. Horay! I have learned something, but I'm not saying that I don't have to consult the team key I made myself the first week.

San Diego over Tennessee (4)
Tampa Bay over N.Y. Giants (3)
Pittsburg over Jacksonville (2)
Seattle over Washington (1)

Friday, January 4

Its Gonna be a Wild Weekend

Alright, picks picks picks! Here are my picks, sorry John and I don't differ any more than we do

4:San Diego over Tennessee - The easiest pick of the week, and hey, if its wrong we're all wrong
3:Tampa Bay over New York - For the record I came very close to flipping this one the other way, but the Bucs are reseted, and at home, and the Giants are on the road and beaten up after giving it their all last week against the Pats, and there aren't going to be 3 upsets this weekend, are there?
2:Jacksonville over Pittsburgh - It looks like the Steelers injury woes are getting worse, so I'll go with the Jags here, besides, the Jags won in Pittsburgh when the Steelers had Willie Parker
1:Washington over Seattle - This is my weakest upset pick, but I really can't pick a team that lost to the Panthers and played in the NFC West (who the Panthers swept this year)

Thursday, January 3

John's Wild Card Weekend Picks

San Diego over Tennessee (4)

Tampa Bay over New York (3)


There's no doubt at all in my mind that San Diego and Tampa Bay will be moving on after this weekend, so I'm going with the spread in my weights.

Jacksonville over Pittsburgh (2)

This one's a little murkier because Najeh Davenport is such a capable running back, and the Pittsburgh defense is awfully stiff, but I'm thinking the Jaguars will mainly use the run (Pittsburgh defends the run much better than the pass) to set up their air attack, and an efficient Garrard will persevere over a big game from Davenport.

Washington over Seattle (1)

Going with the mild upset here because even though War Eagle is sitting this one out, I like Todd Collins' big-play ability and efficiency, and at this point Clinton Portis is a much safer bet than Shaun "Lifeless Husk" Alexander. Neither defense is worth mentioning.

Final Regular Season Pick'em Tallies

John: 60-36, 20 Upset Points, 96 Total Points
Ryan: 57-39, 11 Upset Points, 81 Total Points

Good year in pick'em, Ryan could have made it interesting toward the end as he only ended up 15 points back, but seemed to fall off the wagon towards the end to the chagrin of our #1 pick'em fan, Lucy. A hearty congratulations to Lucy and Cason, who will be invited to pick the playoff games, and a big thank you to everyone else who put up with us and humored us by picking one or two weeks so Flippy didn't have to get out of bed.

Here are the lines (as of Thursday night) and the matchups for Wild Card Weekend:

Washington Redskins at (-3.5) Seattle Seahawks, Saturday
(-2.0) Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers, Saturday
New York Giants at (-3.0) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday
Tennessee Titans at (-9.0) San Diego Chargers, Sunday


A reminder that two of those are on Saturday, so make sure to have your picks in by Saturday at noon if possible. Good luck!

Top Ten Teams (1-3)

Thought I'd pull my old college hoops rankings out, but instead of a Power 16, I'm just doing a Top 10, because after looking at the AP poll and ESPN's "expert" Power 16, they're basically the same list, with a team maybe moving up or down one spot. There's a pretty clear consensus on the top 10 teams in the country right now, though (with Kenpom's West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Xavier choices being dragged into the mud out of the top 10, and the writers' Tennessee choice being taken with them), so here's what we're left with:

1. Kansas
2. North Carolina
3. Memphis
4. UCLA

5. Duke
6. Washington St.
7. Marquette
8. Georgetown

9. Michigan St.
10. Texas A&M

These are just the averages of the Kenpom, AP, and ESPN Power 16 polls, which is basically 1 Kenpom : 2 Everyone else. Nowhere is there more than a 2-spot change between the AP poll and the ESPN Power 16.

Extra! Extra!

Flippy pulls deadbeat Ryan out of jail, forced to make picks

Alright folks, here we go. For all intents and purposes here is my situation. I have 2 weeks to random flip, with one of those weeks having already blown one 5-point and one 6-point game. So I have a coin toss for 6, 5, 4, 4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1 games. I will use random.org once to flip 10 1935 US Buffalo Nickels, heads will be right and tails will be wrong. I will then grab the image and post it at the bottom of this post. The coins will be (from left to right) assigned value respective to a random order determined also via random.org.

The image:


So, looks like I got 6 right, about on par with the usual Ryan performance, now the order:
1. 4
2. 1
3. 2
4. 2
5. 3
6. 1
7. 5
8. 3
9. 4
10. 6

So, the correct points: 1, 1, 5, 3, 6, 4 and the wrongs: 4, 2, 2, 3 (and 5 and 6). Should have used this system before I guess. So, thats a 6-4 record (6-6 counting the 2 actually picked wrong), and -2 overall points. So, I have ended up the year at 57-39, with 81 points (a marked improvement over last year's 33-47 mark). Here's to the playoffs everyone, picks in by Saturday at noon.