Friday, November 9, 2012

NFL 2012: Schedule Analysis YTD & Remainder of Season

Now that we have nine weeks of action in the books we can start talking about playoff projections with some certainty, along with using any statistics available to analyze team performance because as the old saying goes “they are who we thought they were” – certainly applies at this point.  For this analysis I am going to use my SOS data, including looking both back and ahead, as a barometer for measuring potential success or failure over the last two months of the season.  For this analysis, any metrics or rankings I mention will be as measured by my performance statistics – I will not include any opponent’s record SOS comments in here because you can find that information elsewhere – here, we are going to analyze the pure performance of each team based on the statistics I track, and how that impacts SOS.
Let’s first examine SOS looking back, analyzing the year to date, and see whose record may be inflated based on playing poor teams, or vice versa.  I will include a # in parentheses next to each team – that # will represent the same SOS we are measuring in that section but will be forward looking SOS, while the ranking is the to date ranking.
Here are the toughest schedules to date:
  1. STL (8)
  2. NYJ (32)
  3. TEN (28)
  4. DAL (14)
  5. NO (7)
It is not a coincidence that none of these teams are above .500 SU, but it is a coincidence that all five teams have exactly 3 wins on the season.  Do any of these teams have a chance at turning their 2012 campaign around and making a playoff run?  Right off the bat it seems only NYJ, DAL & NO would have an outside chance at playing football in January.  As far as the Jets go, they face the easiest schedule down the stretch – and with the 6th and final AFC playoff spot seemingly up for grabs, we could see them make a move.  The two NFC teams will have much more of an uphill battle based on their remaining SOS, and overall strength in the conference.  The NFC is extremely deep this season, and it seems unlikely a team worse than 10-6 will reach the playoffs.  Even if a 9-7 squad was to make it, both DAL & NO would have to finish the season 6-2 just to reach 9-7.  I am not saying it couldn’t happen, but their SOS and play to date would suggest that is an extremely uphill battle. 
Here are the weakest schedules to date:
      32. MIA (19)
31. SD (15)
30. IND (14)
29. CHI (2)
28. TB (14)
We can certainly see a correlation here between these five teams who have played the weakest schedule to date and their playoff positioning.  MIA & IND have perhaps been the biggest surprise teams in the AFC, while SD joins them to form a trio that figures to be deep in the hunt for that 6th and final playoff spot.  The two NFC clubs listed are playing well as CHI leads the NFC North at 7-1, while TB sits at 4-4 including going 3-1 since their bye week.  The real question for these teams especially the AFC trio is will this weak schedule phenomenon continue during the final two months of the season?  Most of these team’s remaining SOS are mid-pack – which won’t necessarily hurt or help – but the one that stands out is CHI.  The Bears, after facing the 3rd easiest schedule through the first half of their season will face the 2nd toughest over their final eight games.  CHI will need to boost their performance significantly if they are going to hold off the Packers in the NFC North – more on that topic below.
Continuing our discussion on the season to date, let’s examine which teams have played the toughest and easiest slates against opponent’s offenses.
Here are the toughest opponent’s offense schedules to date:
  1. TEN (31)
  2. CAR (14)
  3. NO (11)
  4. DAL (9)
  5. DEN (26)
Among these five teams only DEN appears to be a legitimate playoff contender at this point, and they have been able to overcome a schedule packed with top offenses because their own offense is ranked #2 in the NFL.  Also of note with the Broncos is the fact their defense is currently ranked #5 in my numbers, and they have accomplished that feat playing the 5th toughest schedule of opponent’s offense – that clearly shows just how well the DEN defense is currently playing.  DEN’s remaining schedule is not heavy on strong offense teams, which should bode well for their record since their offense is very strong, and also improving their defense rank some, building confidence in that area for January.  What is also interesting here is the two worst defenses to date, NO #32 & TEN #31, both have faced a tough schedule as far as opponents offenses go.  That leads to the questions, is their defense really “that bad”, or is it also a function of a tough opponent’s offense schedule; and, more importantly, will this tough schedule extend into the second half of the season?  The Titans have been gashed on numerous occasions this season, but they will face the 2nd easiest opponent’s offense schedule to close the season after facing the toughest thru the first half of their season.  Look for the Titans defensive numbers to improve over the final eight weeks.  Lastly, the Saints should continue getting involved in high scoring shoot-outs as they will face quite a few strong offenses to close the season, and their defense is subpar for sure – potentially target over plays on their games.  One thing to remember as far as gambling on these games go if you see a big discrepancy in these rankings to date vs. the rankings to close the season, we can potentially expect a dramatic change in performance by a team, which could be a perfect spot to make some money.  For example, looking at TEN – everyone believes the Titans have an awful defense, including the guys setting the wagering lines – but, we now know that part of that reason was because they have faced numerous strong offenses early in the season – when the tables turn, as my numbers suggest they will, they could be a prime target for side plays, and possibly under selections since the totals will be inflated based on performance to date.  That is just a side tidbit to think about when you see these offense and defense specific SOS rankings.
Here are the weakest opponent’s offense schedules to date:
  1. MIA (4)
  1. IND (7)
  1. HOU (17)
  1. NE (29)
  1. CHI (5)
MIA/IND/CHI are amongst these five teams, and we also saw them show up above in the easiest schedules discussion – we now know a key driver behind their easier first half schedules was their opponent’s weak offenses.  Moving ahead, the two teams which really stand out when correlating this information to actual performance are IND & NE.  The Colts are currently ranked #27 defensively, which is poor by itself – toss in the fact they have faced the 2nd easiest schedule of opponent’s offense to date, and that defense is a definite sore spot for IND moving forward as they continue their playoff push – add in the fact their opponent’s offense SOS jumps to #7 over the final 2 months of the season and it appears their defense will start yielding additional points – combine that with a rookie QB, and it could mean a missed playoff spot for the Colts in Andrew Luck’s first season.  But, one of their main competitors for that last playoff spot is MIA, and they will face an even tougher opponent’s offense schedule to close – however, MIA is ranked #9 in the NFL so far defensively, significantly better than the Colts.  As far as NE, the Patriots check in at #22 defensively, but they have faced the 4th easiest opponent’s offense schedule to date.  What’s more, to close the season, they also face the 4th easiest opponent’s offense schedule!  While this set-up will certainly help the Patriots as far as playoff positioning, it could present a problem once January rolls around and the high-powered AFC offenses like HOU, DEN, and PIT are on the other sideline.  Final point on this data, once again CHI shows up as not only having an easy slate to date, but also an extremely tough close to their season.
Last piece of the season to date SOS analysis, let’s examine opponents defenses, and see who the top and bottom five are.
Here are the toughest opponent’s defense schedules to date:
  1. STL (4)
  2. SF (9)
  3. SEA (6)
  4. ARI (5)
  5. JAC (32)
How about that, the 4 toughest opponent’s defense schedules are comprised of the NFC West quartet.  And it makes perfect sense – here are the rankings of each team’s defense in that division: SEA #1, SF #2, ARI #7, STL #26.  Sans STL, the NFC West is STACKED full of tough defenses with 3 of the 7 stingiest units calling that division home – amazing since this division was more times than not the laughing stock of the NFL since realignment in 2002.  It seems so long as these team’s defenses continue playing well they will be at or near the top of this ranking because they still have to play each other multiple times.  JAC rounds out the top 5, lending additional support to the fact their offense is ranked dead last in the NFL.  At least for the Jaguars they will enjoy a complete 180 (as this analysis stands now, it’s obviously fluid and will change some but not drastically week to week) and face the easiest schedule of opponent’s defenses to close the season.  If QB Blaine Gabbert cannot get the anemic Jaguar offense going in their final 8 games they may settle into the top pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and select another QB. 
Here are the weakest opponent’s defense schedules to date:
  1. SD (18)
  1. KC (14)
  1. CLE (7)
  1. TB (23)
  1. CHI (1)
What is most concerning about this group of team’s is none of them has a top 10 offense, yet they have played very easy schedules thus far as measured by strength of their opponent’s defenses.  What else really stands out is CHI – they show up in the bottom 5 schedules to date in every breakdown checking in at #29 overall, #28 vs. opponent’s offense and #28 vs. opponent’s defense.  Are the Bears really a SB contender, or are they the pretender they always seem to be come January that is just taking advantage of a soft early schedule?  I would lean towards the latter, especially considering how bad Jay Cutler has played of late – against some of the weaker defenses in the NFL!  Add in the fact the Bears will face the toughest remaining schedule of opponent’s defenses and it could spell big time trouble for Lovie Smith and the Bears.  The two other areas worth noting in this section are CLE & TB: the Browns are right in the mix for the top selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, and having to face a relatively tough schedule of opponent’s defenses down the stretch will likely hurt their chances of picking up wins (especially considering they start rookie QB Brandon Weeden), increasing their chances of selecting #1; the Bucs have made a nice push over the last four weeks going 3-1 and scoring 100+ in my grading system in all 3 wins – they have a nice balance rated #10 offensively and #13 defensively thus far – with a weaker schedule of opponent’s defenses coming up they could put themselves right back in the NFC playoff picture if they can maintain this level of play under first year Head Coach Greg Schiano.
Now that we have discussed a few breakdowns of the schedule to date, here is where the information gets even more useful – let’s use those same buckets and look forward to what each team has remaining on their schedule, which can assist us in projecting potential playoff teams.  I will again include a # in parentheses next to each team – that # will represent the same SOS we are measuring in that section but is the backward looking SOS (to date), while the ranking is the future remaining SOS.
Here are the toughest remaining schedules:
  1. MIN (15)
  2. CHI (29)
  3. ARI (9)
  4. CLE (25)
  5. DET (19)
Four of the five teams are from the NFC; three of those four are from the NFC North.  As a point of reference, to see how all the analyses I post tie together, if you check my latest blog entry focusing on the section that shows my division by division strength matrix, the NFC North is far ahead of any other division, and has been amongst the two toughest divisions all season.  With these teams having numerous games vs. each other over the second half of the season, they were likely to finish near the top of this analysis that focuses on remaining schedules.  The key to the NFC North crown could be the fact GB does not show up on this list – that would contribute to making them my favorite over CHI, along with all the analysis above showing the disparity between the Bears easy schedule to date vs. tough schedule to close, along with overall performance to date which favors the Packers even though they have played the tougher schedule.  MIN & ARI were the sweethearts of the NFL for a hot second earlier this season, but both teams have struggled of late, and figure to continue those struggles facing the toughest and 3rd toughest remaining schedules respectively.  The Lions are looking to reach the playoffs in back to back seasons for the first time in a long time, but sitting at 4-4 with the 5th toughest closing schedule makes that a tough proposition – especially considering it’s likely a 6-2 finish would be needed to have a realistic chance at reaching the playoffs.
Here are the easiest remaining schedules:
  1. PIT (24)
  1. NYJ (2)
  1. JAC (12)
  1. OAK (7)
  1. TEN (3)
First obvious note is all these teams are from the AFC, which has been the inferior conference to date by a relatively wide margin.  We can use this information to help project that PIT is likely to win the AFC North considering they are currently performing well ahead of the 2nd place Ravens, BAL will face the 7th toughest second half schedule vs. PIT facing the easiest, and the fact BAL has lost numerous key players to injury in recent weeks.  The NYJ could perhaps get back into the race for the last AFC playoff spot considering much of their competition has been discussed above, and all seem to be facing some hurdles – while the Jets will face the 2nd easiest closing schedule after facing the 2nd toughest to start the season.  What else is interesting is seeing CLE ranked with the 4th toughest remaining schedule, while JAC has the 3rd easiest – as mentioned above those two teams are probably in the battle for the #1 draft pick next season.  Even though the eye test would seem to give the edge for being the worse team to JAC, their remaining schedules cannot be ignored, and may wind up moving CLE to the top of the board.
Next up let’s examine the teams who will face the toughest offenses to close their season:
  1. CLE (23)
  2. BAL (21)
  3. PHI (18)
  4. MIA (32)
  5. CHI (28)
Here we see an interesting flip for MIA & CHI, a pair of team fighting to make the playoffs in their respective conferences.  To date both teams have faced some of the easiest opponent’s offense schedules, but going forward to close the season that will ratchet up a ton.  That could spell trouble for both teams, but probably have more influence on MIA since they are starting a rookie QB, and appear to have worse personnel on defense compared to CHI.  BAL could have issues of their own as their defense is currently ranked #24 in the NFL, and they have suffered multiple personnel losses.  At this point they seem to be a relative lock to secure a playoff spot in a less deep AFC, but it would most likely be a Wild Card based on the items mentioned here. 
On the flip side here are the teams that will face the easiest offenses to close the season:
  1. SEA (12)
  1. TEN (1)
  1. BUF (22)
  1. NE (29)
  1. PIT (15)
Immediately what stands out here is PIT showing up amongst these teams – see last point in above paragraph related to BAL.  PIT appears to be close to a lock to secure the NFC North crown and at least one home playoff game.  SEA has the #1 defense in the entire NFL currently – which is buoying their resurgence this season – and considering they will face the weakest remaining schedule of opponent’s offenses, it’s a good bet they will be right in the mix for a playoff spot come late December, even with a rookie QB leading their offense.  The Patriot’s defense will get a break of sorts to close the regular season, but that may not be a good thing once they arrive in the playoffs and have to face some serious AFC firepower like HOU, DEN, PIT.
Lastly, let’s look at remaining schedules as measured by opponent’s defense.
Here are the toughest opponent’s defense schedules remaining:
  1. CHI (28)
  2. MIN (20)
  3. DET (9)
  4. STL (1)
  5. ARI (4)
Three NFC North teams lead the way, reason being all four teams in the division have a defense that currently ranks in the top half of the NFL.  The Bears are the only team to show up in all 3 buckets of toughest remaining schedule, and in a competitive NFC that will have a razor thin margin of success or failure, we could see the Bears struggle some down the stretch for certain.  With the way these schedules are set up I am not sure if any team other than GB will reach the playoffs this season from the NFC North.  What is interesting about this group is it’s all NFC teams – the AFC team that will face the toughest schedule as measured by opponent’s defensive strength is CLE, who checks in at #7.
And here are the teams that will face the easiest defenses to close their season:
  1. JAC (5)
  1. MIA (18)
  1. HOU (27)
  1. NYG (8)
  1. ATL (19)
At least three, and possibly four of these teams will be involved in the playoff chase; even the other team on this list JAC will be playing for something down the stretch, a high draft position.  HOU shows up having faced the 6th easiest schedule to date and the 3rd easiest remaining schedule of opponent’s defenses – which is why they have ascended to #1 in my performance ratings, and will likely secure the #1 seed in the AFC come playoff time.  The Giants and Falcons should have offensive success down the stretch, enabling them to secure strong playoff positioning, and lock up their divisions early most likely.  Last team of note, MIA – it will bode well for them facing the 2nd easiest defensive schedule to close the year as they try and reach the playoffs behind first year and rookie starting QB Ryan Tannehill.

Hope this information can assist you in your handicapping and projecting efforts as we head into the second half of another exciting NFL season.

Thanks again for reading, please feel free to:
Email me directly:
Visit my website:
Follow me on Twitter: @SportsBoss
Follow me on Facebook: The SportsBoss
Leave comments here on the blog


NCAA Football: Week Nine & Ten Review, and New Power Poll

Well Hurricane Sandy messed up a lot of things here in the Northeast, more important things than my blog but I missed updating it last week because of that storm.  We are back this week, and a lot has happened over the last two weeks impacting polls, conference championship races, and BCS bowl games.  Let’s jump right into the current rankings:

Week Ten Power Poll (ranking, team, record, 2 wk’s ago PP ranking, next game vs. Power Poll team)

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (9-0, #1): 11/10 VS #13 TEXAS A&M
#2 Oregon Ducks (9-0, #3): 11/17 VS #19 STANFORD
#3 Kansas State Wildcats (9-0, #2): 12/1 VS #16 TEXAS
#4 Georgia Bulldogs (8-1, #9): no regular season games remaining vs. current Power Poll teams
#5 LSU Tigers (7-2, #6): no regular season games remaining vs. current Power Poll teams
#6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-0, #8): 11/24 @ #25 USC
#7 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-0, #12): 11/24 VS #23 MICHIGAN
#8 Florida Gators (8-1, #4): 11/24 @ #11 FLORIDA STATE
#9 Oklahoma Sooners (6-2, #5): no regular season games remaining vs. current Power Poll teams
#10 South Carolina Gamecocks (7-2, #7): 11/24 @ #12 CLEMSON
#11 Florida State Seminoles (8-1, #11): 11/24 VS #8 FLORIDA
#12 Clemson Tigers (8-1, #13): 11/24 VS #10 SOUTH CAROLINA
#13 Texas A&M Aggies (7-2, NR): 11/10 @ #1 ALABAMA
#14 UCLA Bruins (7-2, N5): 11/17 VS #25 USC
#15 Oregon State Beavers (7-1, #10): 11/10 @ #19 STANFORD
#16 Texas Longhorns (7-2, #23): 12/1 @ #3 KANSAS STATE
#17 Louisville Cardinals (9-0, #15): 11/29 @ #20 RUTGERS
#18 Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-2, NR): no regular season games remaining vs. current Power Poll teams
#19 Stanford Cardinal (7-2, #20): 11/10 VS #15 OREGON STATE
#20 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7-1, #18): 11/29 VS #17 LOUISVILLE
#21 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (8-1, N5): no regular season games remaining vs. current Power Poll teams
#22 Kent St. Golden Flashes (8-1, NR): no regular season games remaining vs. current Power Poll teams
#23 Michigan Wolverines (6-3, #19): 11/10 VS #24 NORTHWESTERN
#24 Northwestern Wildcats (7-2, NR): 11/10 @ #23 MICHIGAN
#25 USC Trojans (6-3, #14): 11/17 @ #14 UCLA

Dropped out of Power Poll:
#16 Texas Tech
#17 Mississippi State
#21 Cincinnati
#22 West Virginia
#24 Ohio
#25 Toledo

New addition to Power Poll:
#13 Texas A&M: NR
#14 UCLA: N5
#18 Nebraska: NR
#21 Louisiana Tech: N5
#22 Kent State: NR
#24 Northwestern: NR
Next Five to keep eye on, in alphabetical order only
A)     Mississippi State (7-2): #17
B)      Northern Illinois (9-1): NR
C)      Texas Tech Red Raiders (6-3): #16
D)     Tulsa Golden Hurricane (7-2): N5
E)      Wisconsin Badgers (6-3): N5
By conference:
ACC: 2
Big 12: 3
Big 10: 4               
Big East: 2
Independent: 1
MAC: 1
Pac 12: 5
SEC: 6
WAC: 1
CUSA & MWC & Sun Belt: 0

This week we have three ranked vs. ranked matchups:
#13 Texas A&M @ #1 Alabama
#15 Oregon State @ #19 Stanford
#24 Northwestern @ #23 Michigan

BCS Division & Conference Projections

ACC – no changes to projections from last version two weeks ago
                Atlantic: like my last update the Seminoles are on their way to an Atlantic Division title, their second in the last three years, and third overall since this game was instituted in 2005.  In order to secure their berth all they need is a win @ Maryland to close their season – and the Terps are down to their 4th string QB – so it doesn’t appear there will be any issues there.
                Coastal: this side of the conference remains wide open with Miami, FL & North Carolina (the Tar Heels are ineligible for the ACC Championship Game this season due to NCAA sanctions) leading right now with 2 losses, while Duke & Georgia Tech trail closely behind with 3 losses.  Last time around I projected Miami, FL to secure this berth, and nothing that has occurred over the last two weeks has me thinking about changing my mind.  Miami, FL is essentially up 1.5 games on GT because they already won the head to head meeting, but they do finish the season @ Duke on November 24.  If Duke picks up a win @ Georgia Tech next Saturday the game between them and Miami, FL will be for all the Coastal division marbles and a shot at revenge on the Noles for both schools.
                Championship Game: Florida State vs. Miami, FL (FSU won 1st meeting this year 33-20)
                Champion: Florida State

BIG 12 – no change to projection from last version two weeks ago
                With no championship game to speak of this year due to team defections the regular season will determine this year’s Big 12 BCS entrant.  Currently, Kansas State sits atop the conference at 6-0, Oklahoma is 1 game back (really they are 1.5 games back due to K-State’s head to head win over the Sooners earlier this season), while Texas & Oklahoma State have just 2 losses.  It seems highly unlikely K-State is caught by any team behind them as they would have to lose two of their final three games for anyone else to have a shot – and if that somehow did happen that also includes the fact Oklahoma, Texas and/or Oklahoma State would have to run the table to be alive.  Kansas State has more in mind than simply winning the Big 12 – they are currently ranked #2 in the BCS Standings, and have high hopes of playing for a national title come January.  Two of their remaining three games are on the road, but neither is against a ranked team, or a team above .500 in Big 12 play.  Their finale against Texas in Manhattan could be huge for many reasons.
                Champion: Kansas State

BIG EAST – no change to projection from last version two weeks ago
                Conference play is finally in full swing, and two undefeated teams remain in Louisville & Rutgers, both sitting at 4-0.  Cincinnati appears to be the only other school with any sort of chance of a Big East crown – they are 2-1, still have four conference games to play, but they have already lost at Louisville by just 3pts in OT.  It seems clear that ‘Ville and RU are the class of the Big East, and just like my projection last time here, Thursday November 29th, 730pm, Louisville at Rutgers will likely decide this conference’s BCS berth.
                Champion: Louisville

BIG TEN – change to one division winner and Big Ten champion
                Legends: with back to back big wins over Michigan and Michigan State the Cornhuskers are now in the driver’s seat to take home the Legends division crown and play in the Big Ten title game.  Their two closest pursuers are Michigan with one loss and Northwestern with two losses – those two clash this weekend in Ann Arbor in essentially an elimination game with the loser not having a shot at the division title.  If Michigan was to win they would remain tied with NU with one loss, but one half game behind due to the head to head loss – which means UM has to outplay NU in the W/L column by one game to close.  Michigan still has their finale @ Ohio State – and if that was a loss, even if the Wolverines took care of business in their other two games, they would have to hope NU goes 1-2 to close on a schedule of home games vs. PSU & MIN, and finale on road at Iowa.  I previously had Michigan winning this division, but now believe Nebraska will get it done.
                Leaders: this division is much more cut and dry – with Ohio State and Penn State both ineligible (and currently atop the standings) it will come down to 3-2 Wisconsin and 2-3 Indiana.  Yeah, Indiana has a realistic shot at winning this division.  The two teams meet this Saturday in Bloomington, and if IU found a way to pull off the victory they would have a one half game lead on the Badgers with 2 games remaining for both: Wisky has OSU at home & @ PSU to close, while Indy has @ PSU & @ PUR.  Advantage there would be Indiana, whom could pull off a stunning division crown.  But, I am going to stick with Wisconsin, even though I believe tomorrow’s game will be closer than the experts think and wouldn’t be shocked if the Hoosiers pulled it off.
                Championship Game: Nebraska vs. Wisconsin (NU won first meeting 30-27 in Lincoln)
                Champion: Nebraska

PAC 12 – change to one division winner
                North: technically this remains a three school race although Oregon looks head and shoulders better than everyone else in the division, and possibly even the country.  But, it does remain a relatively wide open race in the sense the three top teams are all within one game and all have yet to play each other to this point.  Once the round robin is played out I would be very surprised if it’s anyone other than Oregon at the top – though the closing Civil War vs. rival Oregon State should be a very entertaining game.
                South: with the Trojans completely falling apart, dropping from the #1 ranking in the country to a team that has 3 conference losses, this race is without question wide open – just like last season.  UCLA is currently in the driver’s seat with only 2 losses, but USC and Arizona State are right behind them with just 3.  I personally believe UCLA is the best team, with USC second – and those two meet in the Rose Bowl next weekend in what could be the Pac 12 South championship game.  However, the Bruins still have to play a road game at Washington State, and host Stanford to close their year; USC will face Arizona State at home this weekend in an elimination game, and only has the aforementioned UCLA game remaining in Pac 12 play.  USC controls its own destiny – win both and they will take the Pac 12 South and get a rematch with the Ducks.  I do not see it happening, and I am switching my projection to UCLA.
                Championship Game: Oregon vs. UCLA (rematch of LY’s inaugural Pac 12 Championship, teams do not play during regular season this year)
                Champion: Oregon

SEC – no changes to projections from last version two weeks ago
                East: all season I have been high on Georgia, and it looks like I will nail them winning the SEC East and playing in the SEC Championship Game.  With a win this weekend at Auburn they seal the division crown; a loss would give it to Florida.  Auburn has not played a good game all season, so there is no reason to believe tomorrow will be that day.
                West: with Alabama’s win at LSU last weekend they have essentially sealed up the West division championship once again.  Since the preseason I have had a Georgia vs. Alabama SEC Championship game, and it looks like that is what we will get come early December.
                Championship Game: Georgia vs. Alabama
                Champion: Georgia

BCS Bowl Projections (new teams put in bold)

BCS National Championship Game: Georgia vs. Kansas State
Rose Bowl: Nebraska vs. Oregon
Sugar Bowl: Alabama (at-large) vs. Notre Dame
Fiesta Bowl: UCLA (at-large) vs. Oklahoma (at-large)
Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Louisville

Thanks again for reading, please feel free to:
Email me directly:
Visit my website:
Follow me on Twitter: @SportsBoss
Follow me on Facebook: The SportsBoss
Leave comments here on the blog


NCAA Basketball 2012: Big East Preview

As the college basketball season is coming upon us, opening tonight actually with nearly half of Division 1A in action, I wanted to commence posting some conference previews for the upcoming season.  I am not sure how many of these I will be able to write-up, but I personally have finished my analysis of the top 18 conference in the country, and am more prepared than ever for the early part of this season – which is a perfect time to take advantage of the lines and numbers if you are as prepared as I am.
To start this series let’s examine the Big East.  Here are a few thoughts on each team, along with the spot in the standings I feel each team will finish, along with the projected spots from few others sources (I will show my ranking, Lindys rank, USAToday rank - then team - then # of starters returning - then few comments):

1, 1, 1 Louisville (3): Lost 2 key players in F Kuric & G C.Smith.  Calling card is defense and will remain that way as they were 6th in country LY in FG defense.  Keep eye on George Mason transfer F Hancock.  Solid depth.  Siva must improve as a PG.  Solid FC.  Overall I do not feel they will be as good as many project, but feel they are still among the class of the conference.

2, 4, 4 Notre Dame (5): All 5 starters back from a team that was 22-12/13-5 LY. Led by 2nd team ABE F Cooley.  They also add a F transfer from Michigan State and Missouri Prep POY.  BC led by Grant and Atkins, one of better combos in country.  Solid 3pt shooters.  9 of 13 roster spots Jr or Sr.  May need help on FC, big key there will be MSU transfer.  Very experienced team.

3, 2, 3 Syracuse (1): Lost Jardine, Joseph, Waiters and Melo from LY, obviously a TON.  FC still looks solid with likes of Fair, Southerland, Christmas and multiple newcomers who are highly rated.  BC will be led by Triche, and Cuse fans are very excited for 2G Carter-Williams - could be next Orange star.

4, 6, 5 Marquette (4): I am a big fan of Marquette this season.  They have lost two studs in DJO and Crowder, but everyone else returns and they add in a solid Arizona St transfer SG Lockett.  BC deep, but keep an eye on the status of 2G Mayo.  FC we will not know as many of the names but they have some nice size and decent experience, although they will have to make up for a lot of production from the 2 losses mentioned above.  Concerns are making up for rebounding lost, and FC scoring.  Led by BC, as always.

5, 7, 2 Cincinnati (3): Lost Gates and G Dixon.  Rest return.  LY they mostly rode a 4G lineup to S16.  Once again BC is loaded with Kilpatrick, Wright and Parker.  They basically have 5 guards who will play, and most likely 4 of them will be on the court more often than not.  Keep eye on RSFr Thomas in FC, could be star.  Depth is questionable.  Beat 8 ranked teams LY, most in country.  Need to improve offensively to take that next step.

I feel those 5 teams are the clear cut top of the pack in the conference, next group of teams are a step back.

6, 3, 12 Pittsburgh (3): Big variance between how good Panthers will be this year, as you can see Lindy's has them 3rd in conference, USAT has them 12th, I am kind of in middle ground 6th.  They lose Gibbs and Robinson, but add CMU transfer Ziegler who will play some 2/3 for them.  PG Woodall is key, he must be 100% as they really struggled w/o him LY, but played well when he was leading the team on the court.  BC not as much proven depth as FC, which will be led by Zanna and Taylor.  No big time players, but will fit Pitt style OK.

7, 10, 15 St Johns (4): Lost two solid players in Harkless and Lindsey.  Lavin needs to be back on sidelines which I believe he will be.  Awful stats LY.  Added 6 newcomers, keep eye on Texas A&M transfer PG Branch and Top 50 big man Sampson.  Seems like good talent on roster but will not have much chemistry as the newcomers are more talented than the incumbents.  Probably still a year away from contending in conference.

8, 5, 7 Georgetown (2): Definite step back from LY, lost 3 key players in Clark, Thompson and Sims.  8 of 10 roster spots Fr or So, no Sr on team.  Solid 3pt defense LY.  Lost top 3 scorers and they were only players to average double digits.  Big concern with lack of proven scorers.  Only 4 guards on roster.  PG OK, SG ?  FC has two best players in Lubick & Porter.

9, 14, 9 Villanova (3): the Cats remain in flux, as they continue searching for the successful formula that was so easily found during the early and middle portion of Jay Wright’s tenure on the Main Line.  This year they lose their starting BC from LY in PG Wayns and SG Cheek, but a few nice pieces return in the FC.  Odd for the Wildcats to have more talent and experience up front, but that is what they have this season in Pinkston, Yarou, Sutton and highly rated Fr F Ochefu.  They will need a lot of production from unknown sources to put themselves back in the NCAA Tournament discussion – which doesn’t seem likely at this point.

10, 9, 14 Providence (3): Lost 1 good player in Coleman, but BC remains very solid, among best in conference led by Council and Cotton.  Keep eye on Fr G Ledo - will he be cleared to play this year?  Many in their class are having issues getting cleared, much be watched.  Lots of concern in FC, as always for PC.  At best elite BC carries team to bubble status - at worst another year same type of result for PC.

11, 15, 13 DePaul (4): Showed improvement LY but still finished in basement.  Finally have some experience to leverage with HC Pernell believes will help defensively, which is area they always seem to struggle with.  Lost PG, only starter gone from LY was excellent and will be tough to replace.  OK talent but nothing great.  Keep eye on Miami (FL) transfer F Kirk.

12, 13, 6 Rutgers (3): Only lost 1 guy who put up decent stats in F Biruta, but add KState transfer F Wally Judge which is probably an upgrade talent wise.  Freshmen played 55% of the minutes LY which should only pay off this year with some experience.  BC looks good and talented.  FC looks OK, not great.  Terrible stats LY.  Could see some improvement from the Scarlet Knights this season in a pretty weak lower half of the conference.

13, 8, 8 South Florida (2): Lost 3 key players from LY including both F's.  PG Collins is back and is a good player but like Siva needs to play PG better - i.e., taking care of the ball.  Few new 2G's likely to get minutes over incumbents due to being more talented - especially because USF needs scoring badly.  Lack of depth in FC for certain.  LY #321 offense vs. #7 defense.  Desperate for more offense, not sure they have it.

14, 11, 11 UConn (1): Only guys back of note are Napier and Boatright.  BC is OK, keep eye on Fr G Calhoun who should turn out being a good one.  FC has no proven players at all.  New HC as we all know.  It will certainly be a rough season for the Huskies, and will certainly be interesting to follow if Kevin Ollie can keep this program among the elite in college basketball.

15, 12, 10 Seton Hall (3): Lost two best players in Pope and Theodore.  Three key transfers will join program: S Illinois C Teague, Georgia Tech G/F Oliver, and Iona G Smyth - all likely to see minutes, first two perhaps big minutes.  PG is HUGE area of concern.  SG Edwin could have an All Big East first team type of season.  OK depth in #'s and skill, but nothing very good or bad.  Key will likely be chemistry and production of transfers.

The Big East as a conference is clearly down from recent years, and could even be considered way down as there do not seem to be the elite level talent and team’s we typically see, and after the top handful or so the talent really takes a step back.  I expect the Big East to receive fewer bids this year than probably every season since it has been constructed as it currently stands.  And with college football seemingly driving all the realignment we are seeing across the country, the status of this conference going forward is very much up in the air considering next year Syracuse and Pittsburgh will be moving on to the ACC. 
Over the next couple weeks I will continue posting additional conference previews for college basketball.  Keep an eye out!
Selections will commence possibly tonight and definitely by next week at some point.

Thanks again for reading, please feel free to:
Email me directly:
Visit my website:
Follow me on Twitter: @SportsBoss
Follow me on Facebook: The SportsBoss
Leave comments here on the blog