Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top 10 Scorers prior to Sweet Sixteen

Below are the top players for the 2011 college basketball tournament heading into the Sweet Sixteen (using our default scoring settings):

1) Kemba Walker/U Conn & Jimmer Fredette/BYU (89 pts)

3) JaJuan Johnson/Purdue (84 pts)

4) Tyler Zeller/UNC (78 pts)

5) John Henson/UNC (74 pts)

6) Harrison Barnes/UNC & Jacob Pullen/Kansas State (70 pts)

8) Billy White/San Diego State (65 pts)

9) Kawhi Leonard/San Diego State (62 pts)

10) Jordan Hamilton/Texas (61 pts)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Defending the First Four

There has been a lot of complaining about the NCAA tournament’s First Four. Before I begin my defense of the past two day’s games, I’d like to state that I am a hard core college basketball fan. Like any hard core fan of anything, I suffer when casual fans talk about my thing. Do you think WoW players don’t go nuts when someone stands in a fire? Or that Bob Dylan fans can stand when someone complains about his nasally voice? They are missing the point that makes the thing great. So are fans who complaining about Tuesday and Wednesday night’s games.

Another admission: I like the idea of tournament expansion. I wrote about it here, but if you don’t want to read more of my words, I’ll boil it down for you: more elimination-style basketball is not a bad thing. We could just fold in the fairly useless NIT and other assorted postseason tournaments into the Big Dance. We could even call it the Bigger Dance. The casual fan said that it would be too much basketball (have they ever seen how many games there are every Saturday during the regular season) or that it was a blatant money grab by the NCAA. To the latter point, I say, “so what?” Why shouldn’t the NCAA grab as much money as they can? Wouldn’t it be un-American not to do that? The fact that they are making all of this money while keeping the money out of the pockets of the players is another matter (something I’ve also written about.)

Now, casual fans are whining about the First Four. First, there was this article on Deadspin, which asserts that the play-in games for the bubble teams ruined his bracket. Cry me a river. I am a big Bill Simmons fan, but he makes me cringe when he talks about college basketball. I listened to his podcast this morning and his complaints were that the teams were evenly matched in the First Four. Apparently, in order to facilitate his betting in the early rounds, he’d like the committee to make the games unevenly matched. He also complained about the games not being scheduled at the same time because that is a tenet of March Madness. My guess is that Simmons isn’t going to be happy when he learns about the staggered scheduling.

I guess people need a reason to whine about something. The First Four has not solved the annual outcry about teams snubbed by the committee, which wasn’t at all surprising. People love to get outraged by the bubble, don’t ask me why. Then people got upset when some of the First Four games weren’t competitive, although the first one was an excellent overtime game. VCU also had a nice showing in their win over USC. Good for them. I know a number of Ram fans who are already pleased by the First Four.

All in all, I think the First Four games came off well and added a nice wrinkle to the best sporting event on the calendar. Perhaps Georgetown and West Virginia were displeased by not knowing who they were going to play, but they come from the Big East and should be able to get by. Well, I am off to watch the “Second Round.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One Person's NCAA Tournament Picks (Which Will Almost Certainly Be Wrong)

Like fantasy football, there is a lot of luck to picking your NCAA bracket. You can study past tournaments, the teams, and the mascots, but none of them will help you as much as a crystal ball. Do you have a crystal ball? Well, I don’t, so I don’t put too much time on my picks. I just go with my gut and see how things turn out.

The smartest play is just to take the higher seeds. They are given better match ups by the committee for a good reason and the committee, whatever you may believe, is not a bunch of monkeys poking at a computer. Of course, just picking the higher seeds is boring and, to quote a Dead Milkmen song, “we’re daredevils. Just like our old men.” There is also the fact that if you actually hit on an upset pick, you’ll feel like a genius and you will remember it for years (like when I picked Drexel over Memphis in the 1996 tournament … not so many since then).

Despite my lack of confidence in my picks (my wife has beaten me in brackets competition in each of our ten years’ of marriage – so perhaps my lack of confidence is warranted), I feel the need to share them in a public forum. I have known for a month that I was going to pick a final of Ohio State and Kansas. It is boring, but they are the two best teams and I would really like to see them play. I’d also like to see Ohio State play Duke, so I put the Blue Devils in the Final Four as well. I know, I know – boring, but smart. To make things even duller in those three regionals, I went with North Carolina, San Diego State, and Purdue joining the three top seeds in the Elite Eight.

That gave me one region to play around with and I went wild! I am not impressed by the Big East in general and Pittsburgh in particular. I usually like the Panthers, but no one really stands out to me from nation’s biggest conference. I didn’t have any of the 11 Big East participants advancing to the Elite Eight (although I do have Marquette pulling off two upsets in the East over Xavier and Syracuse). Florida is somewhat overrated because they have an experience starting five. The parts don’t fit that well so that Chandler Parsons led the team in rebounds and assists, despite a plethora of guards and bigs that should be able to board and pass. Finally, there is Jimmer Fredette. He’s excellent, but I don’t think he can beat teams by himself. The top half of the bracket is going to be black and blue. Pitt and Wisconsin play slowly, but I think that plays into the hands of my upset pick: Old Dominion. The Monarchs knocked Notre Dame out of last year’s tournament and I think they’ll take care of Butler, Pittsburgh, and Wisconsin in three games in which every possession is magnified.

On the bottom of the bracket, I am taking a huge flyer with Gonzaga. The Zags have a lot of interesting players and plenty of size. I think Steven Gray will recapture his November magic and Elias Harris will finally prove to be healthy. Center Robert Sacre can bang with anyone. Gonzaga’s first round opponent, St. John’s, will be missing their glue guy in D.J. Kennedy. BYU is missing Brandon Davies. Florida’s guards and pesky, but not the kind that can able to take advantage of the Zag backcourt. That leaves us with an incredible Monarch-Bulldog Elite Eight match up.

It could happen, but it probably won’t. Either way, I am going to watch and enjoy. I hope you do too.

Monday, March 14, 2011

"5 And 5" Star Rated Players for 2011 NCAA Tournament Fantasy

Here are players that have both 5-star ratings at their position and 5-star ratings when compared with other players on their team. Out of the over 800 players in the NCAA bracket fantasy pool, there are only 8 with this distinction.

1. Marcus Morris F Kansas
2. Kawhi Leonard F San Diego State
3. Jimmer Fredette G BYU
4. Kemba Walker G UCONN
5. JaJuan Johnson C Purdue
6. Rick Jackson F Syracuse
7. Jon Leuer F Wisconsin
8. Jordan Taylor G Wisconsin

See Fantasy Drafting and Relative Value Ratings for more information on Fantasy Postseason's 5-star rating system.

Fantasy Drafting and Relative Value Ratings

Winning in fantasy sports is all about understanding the relative value of players. At Fantasy Postseason, we offer a unique 5-star rating system that helps you figure out the relative value of players compared to other players at their position and compared with other players on their team. These ratings are calculated dynamically based upon your league's custom settings and can be a powerful tool in assisting you during draft time.

Position Rating

If your league contains positional roster requirements you want to pay attention to a player's Position Rating. You want to expend high draft picks on players that have a 4 or 5-star Position Rating. These players are standouts at their position.

Rating on Team

In postseason fantasy there is great emphasis placed on choosing the best players on teams that advance deep into the playoffs. A player's team rating gives you a sense for how well that player stacks up to other players on their same team. If a team is loaded with several really good players, these players will likely have a 3-star Team Rating. You should place less of a premium on these players and if possible, you should try to wait until later rounds before you draft them. However, if you have the opportunity to draft a 5-star player on a team that you think has a chance to win it all, you should snap up that player with a quickness.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

College Basketball Tournament Player Pool

This is now available at http://www.fantasypostseason.com

NCAA Tournament Players to Watch in the First Round

Even though I’ve invested hours and hours into college basketball, I would never call myself an expert. There are just too many teams and players to ever really get one head wrapped around. Most experts, however, like to investigate “bracketology” and make predictions on which teams are going to make the NCAA tournament. I am more than content to let the committee do their job and select the pairings for the now 68 teams. That said, here are my five teams that are most likely to get snubbed by the committee. Nah, I am just kidding. Here is a list of five players who are unlikely to make it past the first round, but should be fun to watch on basketball’s greatest stage

Keith Benson, center, Oakland Golden Grizzles

Oakland will be a chic pick to upset whomever they play in the first round because they ran through the Summit league with a 17-1 record and had little trouble winning the conference tournament. Benson, a 6-foot-10 senior, is the biggest reason why (both literally and figuratively). The Golden Grizzly center averaged 18.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 3.6 blocks. Fouls can be an issue and he did foul out of three games, but he has improved his ability to stay away from whistles. If Oakland were matched up in the first round against a team like BYU, Benson could have a big game and be a value pick.

Devin Gibson, guard, Texas-San Antonio Road Runners

The Road Runners were not the top seed in the Southland conference tournament, but they had the best player. Gibson, a 6-foot senior, had a triple-double (28 points, ten rebounds, ten assists) in the first round of the tournament and a 26-11-6 game in the second round. His teammates lifted him up against McNeese State in the final, but Gibson was bound to have an off game sooner or later. For the season, the Houston native averaged 17.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 2.7 steals. It was the third time he had provided more than 80 steals in a season. UTSA did not play any likely NCAA teams, but Gibson will likely do all that he can to extend his collegiate career.

Kenneth Faried, forward/center, Morehead State Eagles

Faried is a well-known commodity in fantasy circles because he has been producing big numbers for the last three seasons. The 6-foot-8 postman led the nation in rebounding with 14.5 boards and also provided 17.6 points, 2.0 steals, and 2.4 blocks as a senior. He even has tournament experience from back in 2009 when the Eagles won the play-in game for the right to play Louisville in the first round. Faried had 14 points and 21 rebounds in the win over Alabama State and 14 points and 11 rebounds in the loss to the Cardinals. Morehead State will not likely be a 16-seed this year and Faried could have a big game if his first round opponent can not man up against him.

Orlando Johnson, guard, UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos

The Gauchos were just 8-8 in the Big West regular season and will likely be one of the bottom seeds in the conference, but they have Johnson and a slight reason to hope. The Loyola-Marymount transfer led the Big West in scoring at 21.1 points. Like Faried, he has experience losing in the first round of the tournament. Last year, the Gauchos represented the Big West and were beaten by Ohio State. Johnson scored 20 points in that game. In the Big West tournament, Johnson provided 85 points in three games and hit 50% of his three-pointers. He is on a hot streak and someone is going to have to guard him, even if he does have to play on Tuesday or Wednesday in one of the “First Four.”

Zeke Marshall, center, Akron Zips

If you only saw Marshall, a 7-foot sophomore, for one game this season and it was the MAC championship, you would have to think he has NBA potential. For one game, Marshall dominated like pundits thought he would prior to his freshman season. He had nine points, 13 rebounds, and nine blocks in the overtime win against Kent State to lead the Zips to the Big Dance. Unfortunately, the rest of his season was not quite as terrific. He routinely got into early foul trouble and managed averages of just 8.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks. Marshall only played 22 minutes per game, so if he can stay on the court for 30 minutes, he could provide big first round returns.