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College Football Stadiums: Part 1 of 2

Posted in College Football on April 24, 2012 by sammywestside

An article this week came out ranking all 124 College Football Stadiums, with my alma mater ranking #1. This was cause for excitement amongst many other Clemson fans, but I was skeptical, as I usually am. I wanted to read the article, and after I did I decided this ranking was completely bogus. If the list looked great from top to bottom then we’d have something to talk about, but instead it was ugly. Many of the nations best stadiums were sprinkled down the list, and many of the nations worst were way too high on the rankings. In reality to be completely objective you’d have to visit all of them. Find me that guy.

My point is I’m not proud to say that Clemson was ranked number one because the guy who wrote the article clearly wasn’t qualified or remotely intelligent in my opinion. I love College Football, and what I love the most about College Football is visiting campuses and stadiums. The entire journey of visiting a College Football stadium is an amazing experience, unlike any other sport. Instead of a few hours in a day, its a whole day event, really a whole weekend event. My love for the sport is still young in comparison to some of my other loves of sports, so I haven’t visited as many stadiums as I’d have liked to yet. Still I’ve been to some, so I think I can start by objectively giving my opinion of those.

Sunlife Stadium and its enormous sidelines

Sunlife Stadium (Miami, FL-Orange Bowl)- I’ll start off by mentioning a few neutral site stadiums I’ve visited. The first is the home of the Miami Hurricanes and Dolphins. Also the former home of the Florida Marlins, the stadium was used for both baseball and football until this season when the Marlins opened their new ballpark on the site of the former Orange Bowl. I was here for this past season’s Orange Bowl and I came away with a pretty indifferent feeling about the facility. The stadium located nowhere near downtown Miami and is nowhere near anything else. Situated amongst the spiraling South Florida suburbs, the only attraction near the stadium is WalMart. We tailgated significantly but the lots didn’t even open until the afternoon for an 8:00pm start. The lots are nice and scenic with Palm trees but then again its just a lot of concrete everywhere. The stadium itself is in good condition but doesn’t really have anything special about it. My biggest problem with the design is how large the sidelines are. If you sit anywhere in the lower level on the sides of the field, you are much much further away than almost any other stadium in football. This helps make it a less intimidating venue, and is definitely more of a pro venue than suited for College Football. The University of Miami is going to be at a disadvantage as long as they play here in my opinion because it’s so far from campus and crowds they draw are just never very good.

Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL-Capital One Bowl)- I visited this stadium for the Capital One Bowl a few years ago, a game between Michigan and Florida. This stadium is located in the ghetto, no joke. If it weren’t for the game I would have been terrified of the neighborhood. The parking is terrible because its located in a strange urban neighborhood about 5-10 minutes from downtown Orlando. The stadium itself is pretty old and structurally unimpressive. It’s not a bad place to watch a game though and it can be fairly loud. For a bowl game it wasn’t bad, and despite the stadium not being very nice it was still a viable facility for watching a good game of football.

Georgia Dome (Atlanta, GA, Chick Fil A Kickoff)- I attended the Clemson-Alabama neutral site game to start the season a few years ago at the Georgia Dome. The stadium itself is similar in condition and quality to Sun Life Stadium, a solid pro stadium in decent condition. Inside I think it’s a lot better to watch a game though. The Stadium is much louder being a dome, and doesn’t have outrageous sidelines keeping fans from the field. We sat very high in the end zone and still had a great view of the field. Outside the stadium isn’t great. Located in downtown Atlanta the stadium has decent parking but the neighborhood isn’t great. Getting there can be hard too, because Atlanta has horrendous traffic.

Boston College (Alumni Stadium)- I’ve now been to this facility twice in the last 4 years for Clemson road games. I found this to be the worst facility I’ve attended in college football. The Stadium is very small, and seems even smaller because its not very tall. The Boston College fans aren’t very inspiring either. Both times we visited a large Clemson contingent was there, and was remarkably loaded than the home crowd. The campus of Boston College is very nice and scenic but tailgating is very disappointing. There is hardly any room to park and not many people engage in tailgating. Both times we were there we ended up walking to a bar to pre game which was a mile away across the reservoir. That was the closest bar or place where you could purchase alcohol. Needless to say that was disappointing. As a whole the atmosphere and tradition is lacking, and unless you enjoy looking at nice college campuses and not attending college football games, then you’ll be disappointed with this visit. Despite this I plan on returning once again to Boston this coming season, but that has more to do with my strong desire to see my Tigers play, and visit friends in Boston.

BB&T Field

Wake Forest (BB&T Field)- I’ve also been to Wake twice now and I’ve actually gotten to see this stadium at its best as well. The second visit though wasn’t as inspiring. I definitely liked this better than Boston College because the stadium atmosphere and tailgating were much better. The biggest thing holding Wake Forest back is the size of the school. One of the smallest D-1A football universities they only draw about 35,000 people to games, but the stadium can get fairly loud when the Deacs are playing well and the fans are out in support. The tailgating scene is solid too despite the area not being great. Wake’s stadium is off-campus, but not too far and all their sport facilities are located together in a less exciting neighborhood. The facilities are nice and the parking isn’t terrible but aestically the area is not great.

North Carolina (Kenan Stadium)- This Chapel Hill facility is best described as not living up to its potential. Located on Campus in a very nice secluded area, the stadium itself is nice and should be even nice after the renovations are complete. The surrounding campus is great too, but the fans that fill it aren’t always the exciting. Even in basketball UNC fans are known for sitting on their hands and watching their teams compete rather than cheering too loudly. Part of this is the large contingent of older UNC fans who donate a lot of money and thus fill the seats. The problem is older people don’t have the same energy and passion as the young fans. Also the UNC students just don’t get excited about the mediocre football program like they do the basketball program. If one day UNC does get the football program going at a great level than this facility can become pretty good. Its a good facility located on a beautiful campus but the atmosphere here just isn’t good enough yet.

North Carolina State (Carter-Finley Stadium)- This stadium reminds me a lot of North Carolina as well. With a similar design and size both facilities are solid, but lack the team and fans inside it to really take it to another level. The fans at NC State are a step above UNC and this stadium can get significantly louder but the area around the stadium isn’t as great as UNC. Not on campus, this facility is the in the athletic complex in Raleigh. Surrounded by parking lots there is nothing to do around the stadium but tailgate. That’s not a problem, but having a campus and town nearby would be nice too. The tailgating here is better than the previously mentioned facilities for sure. Like the Tar Heels, if the Wolfpack can ascend to a better program in College Football and get the fans rocking, than this can also be a very intimidating facility, but for now the inconsistent seasons in Raleigh aren’t going to get it done quite yet.

Georgia Tech (Bobby Dodd Stadium)- I was blessed to see this facility at its best as well, for a white out game in Atlanta. This facility has a few outside factors that are cool. First of all it is on campus which is nice, but the Georgia Tech campus isn’t that great in my opinion. The area around the stadium is good, but the parking and tailgating scene is tough to come by. It’s scattered and for a visiting fan its hard to find a good place anywhere near the stadium. The views of downtown Atlanta are cool, but the downtown area of Atlanta isn’t worth visiting. The stadium itself is old but in good condition. There is a lot of tradition and plenty of cool aspects to the facility, but this place doesn’t get overly loud. The stadium isn’t very tall so its tough to keep the noise in and the Georgia Tech fans don’t pack this place out too often.

Florida State (Doak Campbell Stadium)- This is where we really take a big step up in the quality of stadiums. Florida State has a great tradition of football and they take that too the field for their on-field pre game tradition of Chief Osceola. The stadium itself is impressive looking from the outside, but I was surprised at how tinker-toy like it was inside. The entire inside of the stadium is made of metal that is surprisingly thin. I sat up fairly high here and it was kind of intimidating thinking of the fact the only thing keeping me from falling 100 feet to my death beneath my feet was a metal that I could feel bending every time someone walked by. This is irrelevant though, as the stadium is a great facility regardless. One thing that holds it back from being one of the loudest stadiums in the country is the fact that it’s a bowl and the noise escapes easier than others. The Florida State fan base has been fading a bit over the last few years but if they can finally get over the top in the next few years than this facility can return to being one of the toughest places to play in the country. I got to see a great game here too, so I’ve been blessed to see many of these facilities at their best. Outside of the stadium the tailgating is great in Tallahassee, I attended one of the greatest tailgates I’ve ever seen here. The campus itself isn’t special, but it has some nice parts as well. The town of Tallahassee is a bit sketchy too, but not as bad as one I’ll discuss coming up.

Nebraska's Memorial Stadium

Nebraska (Memorial Stadium)- The Cornhuskers gave me my only taste of midwestern football and it was fun. Located in the capital city of Lincoln, the University of Nebraska has a nice campus located adjacent to downtown. The Stadium is on-campus and as a visitor I found it very hard to find parking. I walked over a mile to get to the stadium from a garage downtown. The downtown area is pretty nice and within walking distance of stadium. Fans can choose to tailgate or adventure downtown prior to the game. The stadium is very big, but also historic and old. The interior of the stadium was cool to see as they’ve kept a lot of the older aspects of the facility while upgrading and expanding the facility. The fans are passionate and they have some great game day traditions. I appreciate the Nebraska fans because in the state, this is the team. Everybody loves Nebraska from birth and thats why they’ve sold out every game for a very long time now. The stadium is definitely loud and the design gives most fans a good view of the field. The Tailgating wasn’t on the level of some of the southern schools, but the atmosphere was great.

South Carolina (Williams-Brice Stadium)- I’ll try to be objective here, and in doing so have them ranked accordingly to what I truly think. Despite this, I found no part of my experience in Columbia enjoyable. The Stadium is located in a very bad area, basically surrounded by abandoned factory buildings, and not within walking distance of anything. They’ve started to attempt to clean up the area by adding a few businesses and newer apartment buildings, but they still have plenty to go. The town itself is also disappointing as it is generally quite poor and rundown. The downtown area is mostly empty minus a few hotspot areas to go out. The facility itself is pretty standard, nothing unique but in good condition. Overall the Gamecocks don’t have a ton of traditions but I will give them credit for their newer stadium entrance. It is the second best I’ve seen, and that’s hard to admit. The stadium was pretty loud and I got to see it for a big game as well. Overall atmosphere wise the place is pretty good, but the surrounding area and game day experience could be better. Additionally I’ve never seen more hostile fans, everywhere you go you get ribbing from fans but most end up engaging and being helpful. In Columbia, people legitimately would try to pick fights and their were multiple stabbing and robberies before, during and after the game of fellow fans. Maybe one day I’ll go back, but I’ll be a bit more mindful of what I’ll be facing next time.

Virginia Tech (Lane Stadium)- This was one of my most anticipated trips and I came away a little disappointed. The Enter Sandman entrance looks really cool on TV and in person but the noise level and length of it was surprising. I got to go to a night game and it should have been a great representation of the environment. The town of Blacksburg isn’t bad, I like college towns like it but they don’t have a great downtown. I’ve been to Blacksburg many times and it always seems dreary and depressing there. The tailgating is pretty good at Lane Stadium but doesn’t have the sheer volume of some other great southern stadiums. The facility itself is cool, and a lot bigger than you’d think despite not having a second deck. Unlike other one-level stadium, Lane Stadium is steep and taller so if you’re sitting near the top its quite a hike. Overall, I really liked the stadium, this facility is probably just outside the top 10 in the country.

Jordan-Hare Stadium

Auburn (Jordan Hare Stadium)- Unlike Lane Stadium, this facility and campus exceeded my expectations. Auburn is very similar to Clemson in many ways, but I like the comparisons are a bit overdone sometimes. The town of Auburn is significantly bigger than Clemson, and the campus has much more concrete than Clemson. Despite this, the town was a fun place to go out, but a bit overcrowded on football weekends. The campus is nice and tailgating takes place all over the campus like at Clemson. The distance to walk around was a bit further than I hoped for as a visiting fan, but it was fun getting to see lots of different areas in town. The Stadium is on campus and is a similar facility to Clemson with two upper decks, the only difference is there are a few more seats in the end zones and no hill. I got to sit in the student section at Auburn and was very impressed. The students arrive early because its first come first serve seating, which is a fantastic idea. The only thing is the student section is separate from the rest of the facility, so no freedom as a student. I loved the student ticket policy but the freedom is a bit limited. The fans were into the game from the start and were very loud. Much like Sunlife Stadium though, Auburn has absurdly and unnecessarily large sidelines. This takes away from the views for fans and the noise level for the field. Still the fans and atmosphere deliver one of the best environments in the country.

Florida (The Swamp)- I’ve had the pleasure of attending two games at the Swamp as well. This facility was built to be loud. Surrounded by towering decks which are always filled with Orange and Blue, this is really cool stadium to watch a game in. The seating views are great and no big sidelines. The tailgating is good, but there aren’t as many enormous lots as some other stadiums I’ve visited. There are good bars within walking distance of the stadium and plenty of excitement on the streets nearby. The atmosphere inside is great too, the band is loud and boisterous and the students can be loud too. I was expecting the best atmosphere because of the rave reviews, but it wasn’t quite top notch. Auburn was louder than the Swamp, but I wasn’t at quite as big of a game either time. Overall I still appreciate why its one of the top stadiums in the country and I’d love to go back again.

Clemson's Death Valley

Clemson (Memorial Stadium)- Look, I swear I’m not being biased as saying Clemson is the loudest stadium I’ve ever been too. I love the school, the tailgating, and the tradition, but I am always trying to compare Clemson to other schools in every way possible outside of football. I know the university isn’t the best academic institution in the US, nor does it have the nicest campus I’ve been too (although a great one), but I’ve never been to a stadium louder. I’ll give you this, Clemson fans can be quiet too when expectations are higher and the results are poor. I’ve never seen a quieter 82,000 people before than after a field goal fell short at the end of the BC game in 2007. The great times are great though, and this place gets loud for many reasons. The fans are on top of the field, the stands are steep, the upper decks are high, and the whole stadium is literally in a valley. The tailgating is great, and I love the town. Gamedays in Clemson are my favorite, but I also realize that there are many other schools out there that are great too. I’ve obviously only been to these aforementioned college stadiums, so I realize there are plenty of stadiums that might be louder, but I truly believe Clemson deserves to be way up there.

In my next article as a follow up I will attempt to use my extensive research on College Stadiums to rank the top facilities. I will try to be as reasonable as possible and try to not be biased at all. Thanks for reading and hope you get to visit some of the best stadiums sometime.

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2012 Yankees & MLB Preview/Predictions

Posted in Yankees on April 2, 2012 by sammywestside

Believe it or not the 2012 season is actually underway, but excitement and drama from the A’s and Mariners in Japan wasn’t quite there. Both the A’s and Mariners both sport clubs that are likely to finish 3rd and 4th respectively in the NL West. This year the power of great teams seems to be skewed towards the American League.

The playoff format should end up making the end of the season more exciting, but I disagree with the way they have designed it. A one-game playoff is just way too quirky and doesn’t reward teams for playing well all year. I say make it a 3-game series. Back the games up tight so we don’t lose those days and push back the other teams. You’d put strain on the two wild card teams by hurting their depth of starting pitching but would give a better chance for the better team to win. Baseball is a wild game and anyone can win anyway, a one game playoff for two teams that don’t finish with the same record necessarily doesn’t seem fair. It’s possible that you could have a 95 win team as the first wild card and an 85 win team as the second depending on divisions, and one-game doesn’t seem fair to the 95 win team which might be the second best team in their league. This becomes clear with unbalanced division like the AL East, which is far stronger than other divisions.

Lets move on to this year’s New York Yankee team. With Michael Pineda going to the DL with tendonitis the starting rotation is set for at least the next month. At this point the rotation is solid, and if each of the pitchers lives up to their potential then it could be very successful. The question becomes what happens when Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda are back? I’d suspect at least one rotation spot will open because of performance. It’ll be tough for everyone to pitch great for a month and not give one of those guys a chance. An injury can always pop up and it’s nice to know the Yankees have so much depth and hopefully things will work themselves out as the season progresses.

1. Sabathia

2. Kuroda

3. Hughes

4. Nova

5. Garcia

The bullpen is going to a strong suit in for the Yankees in 2012. They have potentially the best pen in the majors. Beyond the reliable Rivera, David Robertson was amazing last year, while Rafael Soriano is due to have a strong bounce back year after a mediocre 2011. Boone Logan and Mike Rapada will start as the Yankees lefties in the pen, while Cory Wade and a long reliever will finish off the rest of the pen. The Yankees have a bunch of injuries in the pen right now that could end up helping them down the road. Joba Chamberlain, David Aardsma, and Pedro Feliciano all could end up back with the team in the second half of the season providing some extra valuable experience.

The Yankees on the other side should be pretty set and strong. A starting lineup that will look the same as last year with the exception of Raul Ibanez replacing Jorge Posada, and a bench that will be as well. Andrew Jones, Eric Chavez, Eduardo Nunez and Francisco Cervelli should be a nice supporting cast. The depth is there to support extended injuries just in case, and the Yankees should score runs as well as anyone in the Majors.

Overall if the starting rotation does well and the bullpen lives up to expectations this team should be as good as anyone in the majors. I think this is the strongest team they’ve put out on the field to start a season in quite a while. Injuries can always ruin any good team and the Yankees are still susceptible despite possibly having the deepest team in the majors.

The American League has six teams this year that really stick out. The depth of the league is the best its been in a while and one team is going to miss the playoffs that is very good. The Tigers appear to have the easiest path to the playoffs in the weaker AL Central. The AL East will once again sport the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays battling. Even a pesky Blue Jays team is almost lurking around. Finally the Rangers and Angels look strong out in the AL west. Here are my AL Predictions:

AL East:

1. Yankees 97-65

2. Red Sox 93-69

3. Rays 92-70

4. Blue Jays 80-82

5. Orioles 67-95

AL Central:

1. Tigers 94-68

2. White Sox 82-80

3. Twins 77-85

4. Royals 74-88

5. Indians 73-89

AL West:

1. Rangers 97-65

2. Angels 91-71

3. Athletics 73-89

4. Mariners 69-93

The National League is quite as deep and the gap between the leagues might be the biggest its ever been, especially at the top. The NL East is the haven for the best teams in the NL though. The Marlins, Nationals, and Braves are all up and coming to try and take down the strong hold Phillies. The NL Central will have the Cardinals, Reds, and Brewers as top contenders but some teams lost some big pieces from last year. In the west the Diamondbacks will look to defend their surprise title and hold of the pitching heavy Giants and Padres. Here are the National League Predictions:

NL East:

1. Phillies 91-71

2. Braves 89-73

3. Marlins 88-74

4. Nationals 82-80

5. Mets 69-93

NL Central:

1. Reds 86-76

2. Cardinals 84-78

3. Brewers 83-79

4. Cubs 72-90

5. Pirates 71-91

6. Astros 65-97

NL West:

1. Giants 85-77

2. Diamondbacks 84-78

3. Rockies 77-85

4. Dodgers 76-86

5. Padres 73-89

Playoffs:

1st Round:

Red Sox over Rays

Braves over Marlins

Division Series:

Yankees over Tigers

Rangers over Red Sox

Braves over Giants

Phillies over Reds

AL/NLCS:

Rangers over Yankees

Phillies over Braves

World Series:

Rangers over Phillies

Random Late March Thoughts

Posted in Yankees on March 28, 2012 by sammywestside

Will Freddy be in or out of the Yankees rotation next week when the season starts?

Today I will talk about a few different New York and national sports topics, starting with the NCAA Tournament.

This year’s NCAA Tournament has kinda been a dud. Not to say that people aren’t watching, but it hasn’t been a classic year. The final four has no cinderella, and the tournament has lacked any instant classics. With that said, it’s still the greatest tournament of the year and I’ve enjoyed watching it. The final four is not too surprising to me as I picked three of the four, but Missouri and Duke losing to 15 seeds was very entertaining. Kentucky has looked like the best team so far and is most likely to take home the title. I will not be rooting for the Wildcats though, as they are my least favorite of the final four teams. I picked Ohio State and will stick with that pick, to advance to the finals to face Kentucky. We’ll see what happens this weekend, my hope is that the tournament will give us three very exciting games.

Jim Nantz will be on the Mic this weekend, but his wonderful voice will be more readily used next week at the Masters. By far the greatest golf tournament of the year at the prettiest course, this year’s Masters is due to be epic with the current state of the PGA tour. Tiger Woods has finally broken through and looks poised to be the favorite but Rory McIlroy is playing just as well and will look to revenge last year’s collapse.

In New York the sports scene is getting pretty exciting these days. The biggest story this week was the trade of Tim Tebow to the Jets. It’s hard to not believe they did this for the publicity, but at the same time Sanchez isn’t exactly Peyton Manning. I predict that Tebow will start for the Jets by midseason due to the pressure to replace Sanchez who will have his share of struggles. This works out well for  a Giants team as well, who are happy to have the crosstown rivals receive all the attention for a third straight year. The Giants free agency saga has lost Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs, but their departure shouldn’t be too big a deal. The Giants will return multiple players from injury on defense, as well as a deep and well renowned defensive line. The Offensive Line needs help and a big time Tight End would be nice. The Giants will look to address some issues in draft as well as the remaining free agency period. While the Giants won’t be favorites to repeat, they should be considered one of the top NFC contenders for next season.

The Knicks are back on the upswing after Mike D’Antoni’s departure, and this time its due to defense. While the offense has been inconsistent, a renewed energy on the defensive end has led them to a 7-1 record since Mike Woodson took over. Jeremy Lin has continued to perform but will miss a second straight game tonight against the Magic due to a sore knee. Amare Stoudemire is now going to miss 2 to 4 weeks and this is a cause for concern. He had just started to turn the corner, but now the bulging disk in his back could cause him to be out the rest of the way. Carmelo is going to have to step up and start scoring more efficiently, while the rest of the team does as well. The Knicks face a tough schedule the rest of the way and must continue to win to just make the playoffs. If they can continue to play well and get healthy then perhaps they could make some noise come playoff time.

The Rangers are even closer to the playoffs now and they’re battling for the top seed in the east. The second place Penguins are only 3 points behind with 6 games to play. Falling behind the Penguins would drop the Rangers to the 4 seed and a likely matchup with the tough Flyers. Either way the Rangers need to find their flow again and try to make sure they are playing at a high level come playoff time. The Sabres are currently in the 8th spot and are firing on all cylinders and would be a big challenge for the Rangers as well.

Finally baseball season is right around the corner, and spring training is wrapping up this week. The Mets are in trouble this year as they are arguably the worst team in a tough division. Their training camp has been quiet so far, and the expectations are the lowest they’ve been in a while for the Mets. Maybe they have a little surprise in them, and that will have to start with good pitching and situational hitting. The Yankees biggest headlines have centered around their rotation. The spring has been good for the starters and the decision will be tough who will get the nod. I’m not sure who I want to see out there, and Andy Pettitte’s return in a month or so should complicate things even more. Injuries might end up working things out, but we’ll see what happens soon enough. The Yankees are looking the best they’ve looked in a long time coming out of spring training and if things can mold then this could be the AL favorite. The Red Sox, Rays, Rangers, Angels and Tigers all look like good teams too though, so we’ll see.

My 2012 Bracket

Posted in Bracketology, College Basketball on March 13, 2012 by sammywestside

This years bracket had a lot of potential for upsets, but the way things matched up were a little disappointing in my opinion. The seeding weren’t as bad as last year but some teams got shafted. Creighton got an 8 seed when they should have been around a 6. BYU and Iona were unfairly matched at the 14 seed line. I don’t understand how if you’re the last 4 in you could be a 14 seed. Lamar and Vermont should have been left out of the play-in match ups and should have got strictly 16 seeds. I thought Colorado got a generous seed at 11 considering they weren’t even in contention for an at large before winning the Pac 12. St. Bonaventure and Belmont perhaps deserved a 13 seed instead of 14.

Anyway onto my bracket…

– You’ll notice I chose my favorite coach in the world to win it all, John “Cheater” Calipari. I honestly don’t think he is a great coach and could easily lose, but this year Kentucky has less flaws than anyone else.

– Kentucky is my only 1 seed in the final four but the other three are 2 seeds, so nothing crazy.

– My elite 8 isn’t controversial either with only one team (Baylor) as a mild upset.

– I’m actually pissed that my bracket has so few upsets and I have been working hard to try and convince myself of some. This hasn’t worked that well, but majority of my upsets you’ll see in the Midwest region.

– Belmont and Cal in the sweet sixteen might be stretching it, but these are two very underrated teams.

– The upsets that I didn’t pick but came close are the following: Iona over Marquette and into the sweet 16, NM St over Indiana, Ohio over Michigan, Harvard over Vandy, LB State over New Mexico, and St. Bonaventure over FSU

– Of teams I think could really surprise Wichita State is at the top of the list. I have them in the sweet 16 losing to Kentucky, but this team, with better match ups, is capable of a very deep run. I think they are much better than Butler or VCU from the last two years, and of course are seeded quite well.

Early Thoughts on the Bracket

Posted in Bracketology, College Basketball on March 12, 2012 by sammywestside
Tim Cluess and Iona are Dancin'

Tim Cluess and Iona are Dancin'

Last night we were revealed the brackets and unlike last year, the controversy wasn’t overwhelming. The only surprise and gripe most people had was with the inclusion of Iona over teams like Drexel or Seton Hall. Personally I have absolutely no problem with Iona being in, I was just a bit surprised. I was happy to see them in, and I instead would have replaced USF with Drexel, a team that played unbelievable the last 27 games of the season. They had their top shooter out the first part of the season when they started 2-4, and they should have considered that. There are 3 trends we have seen now over the last few years in how the committee picks teams:

1. RPI DOES MATTER: Seton Hall, Drexel, and many other bubble teams had much lower RPI’s than Iona and I think that helped them get in over them. RPI is a reflection of who you play and who you beat. Personally I am a much bigger fan of the KenPom rating system which takes into account the efficiency of how a team performs on both ends of the floor. Historically ranking systems are designed in order to give the most accurate representation of how good each team is, and a team ranked lower would lose on a neutral court. The RPI doesn’t do this nearly as accurately as KenPom rankings does. The committee should rethink if RPI is the best system. Still said, Iona deserved to get in and I was excited to see them make it because they were the better team.

2. Strength of Schedule is a big deal: Look no further than who you play as a big indicator of where or if you’ll be seeded. A team like Missouri missed out on a 1 seed likely because they didn’t do enough tough scheduling non-conference despite racking up a better record than UNC or Michigan State. Strength of schedule is the best way to manipulate RPI too. Teams every year that schedule tough (and lose) reap more benefits than those who schedule easy and roll to victories. Personally though, it’s best to find some middle ground. Losing a game a team you’re supposed to is fine, losing a game to a team that is a bad loss isn’t. With the struggle for teams at the bottom of the ACC, Big 12, Big East, SEC (and the entire Pac 12), bad losses were easier to come by for big conference schools.

3. Being a Mid Major on the bubble is actually better now: Last year it was VCU, this year Iona. Teams most people didn’t have in but they got in. The question is why go halfway with this new trend and include a very mediocre USF instead of Drexel. I am all for getting more mid majors in, but most years didn’t have the depth this year did. Many teams that weren’t even mentioned on the bubble should have been there and lost in their conference championships. To name a few teams that a really legit but in NIT include: Middle Tennessee State, Marshall, Weber State, Oral Roberts, LaSalle, St. Joseph’s, Denver, Akron, Wyoming, and Dayton.

One of my favorite annual traditions is to fill out the brackets. I always do a predictions bracket, but I also do a bracket of exactly what I’d like to see happen. In general you should know a few things:

1. I’m rooting for Creighton first and foremost as Clemson and St. John’s are not in the tourney this year

2. There are a series of teams I dislike in general even though they will unfortunately be winning many games. This includes Duke, UNC, UConn, and any team coached or previously coached by John Calipari. 

3. I love seeing upsets, so in this fun bracket I will have absurd ones and a lot of them.

So here it is! Click Below…

Fun Bracket 2012

Final Bracketology

Posted in College Basketball on March 11, 2012 by sammywestside

#1: Kentucky, Syracuse, UNC, Michigan State

#2: Missouri, Kansas, Ohio State, Duke

#3: Baylor, Marquette, Michigan, Louisville

#4: Georgetown, Wisconsin, Indiana, FSU

#5: Wichita State, Murray State, Vanderbilt, Florida

#6: Notre Dame, New Mexico, UNLV, Creighton

#7: Memphis, St. Mary’s, San Diego State, Temple

#8: Cincinnati, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Kansas State

#9: UConn, St. Louis, Alabama, Purdue

#10: Virginia, Harvard, West Virginia, California

#11: Southern Miss, Colorado State, VCU, Texas

#12: Long Beach State, BYU, Xavier, USF, Drexel, NC State

#13: Davidson, Belmont, St. Bonaventure, Colorado

#14: Montana, New Mexico State, Ohio, South Dakota State

#15: Long Island, Detroit, Lehigh, Loyola Maryland

#16: Western Kentucky, Vermont, Mississippi Valley State, Lamar, Norfolk State, UNC Asheville

Last Four: Xavier, USF, Drexel, NC State

Last Four out: Seton Hall, Iona, Washington, Miami FL

Bracketology: March 6th, 2011

Posted in Bracketology, College Basketball on March 6, 2012 by sammywestside

#1: Kentucky, Syracuse, Kansas, UNC

#2: Duke, Michigan State, Ohio State, Missouri

#3: Marquette, Michigan, Indiana, Georgetown

#4: Baylor, Wisconsin, Murray State, Temple

#5: Wichita State, Florida State, UNLV, Florida

#6: Louisville, Creighton, Vanderbilt, St. Mary’s

#7: Notre Dame, New Mexico, Gonzaga, Iowa State

#8: San Diego State, Kansas State, Purdue, Virginia

#9: Alabama, St. Louis, Memphis, Southern Miss

#10: Cincinnati, West Virginia, UConn, Harvard

#11: California, Colorado State, BYU, Washington

#12: Xavier, Northwestern, Seton Hall, Miami FL, Mississippi St, Texas

#13: VCU, Long Beach State, Nevada, Belmont

#14: Montana, Akron, Davidson, South Dakota State

#15: Loyola-Maryland, Valpo, Bucknell, UT-Arlington

#16: Savannah State, Stony Brook, Miss Valley State, UNC Asheville, Long Island, North Texas

Last Four In: Seton Hall, Miami FL, Mississippi State, Northwestern

Last Six Out: South Florida, NC State, Iona, Drexel, Oregon, Tennessee

NIT:

#1: South Florida, NC State, Iona, Drexel

#2: Oregon, Tennessee, St. Joseph’s, Arizona

#3: Dayton, Oral Roberts, Middle Tennessee State, Ole Miss

#4: UCF, Marshall, New Mexico State, Illinois

#5: Colorado, LSU, Arkansas, Weber State

#6: UMass, Northern Iowa, Ohio, George Mason

#7: Cleveland State, Buffalo, Minnesota, Pittsburgh

#8: LaSalle, Denver, Illinois State, Pennsylvania

CBI and CIT Prime Candidates:

Iowa, Oklahoma, TCU, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, Duquesne, Indiana State, Missouri State, Evansville, Drake, Tulsa, UAB, Stanford, UCLA, Oregon State, Loyola Marymount, San Francisco, Utah State, Idaho, Butler, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Detroit, Yale, Princeton, Old Dominion, Georgia State, Delaware, Oakland, Kent State, Fairfield, Manhattan, Mercer, SC-Upstate, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, Lehigh, American, Charleston, Coastal Carolina, Wagner, Robert Morris, UCSB