Monday, March 31, 2008

Can he bring Big Red with him?

So, it appears that South Carolina is hiring Darrin Horn, fresh off leading WKU to a berth in Sweet 16 after knocking off Drake and San Diego. Horn was 111-48 in 5 seasons in Bowling Green and brings some energy to the Gamecocks program that was missing when Dave Odom eschewed a nursery home in favor of roaming the sidelines at The Colonial Center.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

2008 SEC Helmet Schedule

I know a lot of people emailed me last year about one, so here you go. Click HERE to download the new one from YouSendIt. You don't need an account to download it and it's free to use.

If the link is expired, please either post a comment or email me letting me know.

Updated 9/23/08 at 12:20 EST


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Anthony Grant hired by LSU in 3...2...

With VCU's season coming to a close tonight, you gotta figure that if Grant's not already on the phone with Skip Bertman, it's only a matter of time. Whoever does take the LSU job is taking over a sleeping giant. With the returning talent and the incoming class, it won't take LSU long to get to the top of the SEC.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A look at the SEC's Pairings in the Big Dance

Been away from the interwebs for the past few days, but I'm back now. But what a weekend in Atlanta. And, after back to back one-and-done performances, it's safe to - at least for now - it's no longer Catlanta. My SEC Tourney bracket was way off as I backed the wrong 6-seed making a run.

As far as dance bids go, it's nice to see the league get 6 teams in, but none of the 6 got a favorable draw... at all. UT is easily the cream of the crop in the conference this year, but they're (somehow) paired with UNC, which garnered the #1 overall seed, meaning - in the committee's eyes - UT was the weakest of the 2 seeds. I understand the Vols being behind Texas, as the Longhorns won head to head, and possibly Georgetown, but Dook? The dookies again got about 2 seeds higher than they deserved, but when you have your own personal spokesperson on the World Wide Leader, that sort of stuff happens.

Overall, not a great March in store for SEC teams. Inexperience and bad matchups will be the undoing of most teams in conference, as the SEC will place just one team in the Sweet 16 and none in the Elite 8. Here are some initial thoughts about the SEC's chances.

#8 seed Arkansas: The Hogs are drew a favorable 1st round game against an Indiana team that has been in disarray since Kelvin "Can you hear me now?" Sampson was fired for being a dumbass. IU squandered a real shot a deep run, as they've got one of the top freshman guard int he country (Eric Gordon) and one of the top post guys (DJ White) as well. These guys were cruising before the poop hit the fan. Now, it's hard to see them being organized and focused enough to beat this Arkansas team. Next would be the Tarheels, and even though I feel that Tyler Hansbrough is the most overrated, overhyped college basketball player in years, Arkansas doesn't have much of a chance here. The Hogs will be 1-1.

#2 seed Tennessee: The Vols were done no favors. Not only did they end up in UNC's region, they're going to play a very good mid major team in the 2nd round, then a Rick Pitino-coached Louisville team in the Sweet 16. South Alabama (I think they upset Butler) will be playing in their home state and - having played Vandy and Ole Miss to the wire and beaten Mississippi State - will not be afraid of the Vols. Then, the matchup with tournament master Rick Pitino comes up. During the regular season, I'd give the Vols the advantage, but in March, give me Rick Pitino (or Tom Izzo) over any other coach in the country. I think the Cardinals clip the Vols in Charlotte. The Vols will be 2-1.

#4 seed Vanderbilt: As good as Vandy was during the season - particularly at home - they're not built for tournament success. They rely to much on jump shots and don't play very good defense. A cold night from the floor and they don't have anything to fall back on. AJ Ogilvy - though a big body - doesn't play aggressively around the rim, and while it may not cost them against Siena, it will be their undoing against Clemson in the 2nd round. Clemson will pound them inside for 40 minutes and send the 'Dores home. Vandy goes 1-1.

#8 seed Mississippi State: As well as the Bulldogs played in conference, I expected them to be seeded higher than an 8 seed, probably a 6 seed. Shows how little the selection committee though of the conference this year. They'll take on the Oregon Ducks in round 1, which will be an interesting matchup. My gut tells me that MSU wins fairly easily in the first round as the Ducks have no inside matchup for Rhodes and Varnado. But then comes the Memphis Tigers, assuming the entire team isn't wearing prison sweats by then. MSU matches up well with Memphis and if the Bulldogs had a little steadier PG play, I'd think they stood a good chance of knocking off the Shelby County Penal League champs, but as it stands, I see the Tigers winning. MSU goes 1-1.

#11 seed Kentucky: A lot of griping nationally - and from fellow SEC fans - that UK got in despite a horrendous non-conference schedule. The 'Cats battled injuries and learning a new system before gelling in SEC play. Any team that wins 12 SEC games is NCAA-worthy. Period. Even without PatPat, I think they matchup well with Marquette, who can be a one-man show sometimes. I see the 'Cats exacting revenge for the Elite 8 upset a few years back, then being hammered by Stanford. No way the 'Cats play with a well-disciplined team that has that much size in the middle. UK goes 1-1.

#14 seed Georgia: One day, I'll figure out how in the world UGA won as many conference games in the SEC Tourney as they did all season long. The sad part is that they stand NO chance of being able to duplicate that magic in Washington, DC. The 'Dawgs are a remarkable story as it stands now, but come Thursday, they'll be the first SEC team knocked out of the Dance. UGA goes 0-1.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Unfair Play-In Game

There's very little wrong with the NCAA Tourney the way it is. The teams actually decide the champion by playing it out on the court, there's 65 win-or-go-home games in close proximity, and who doesn’t love a good office pool? One thing that is horribly wrong though is the play-in game.

I understand why it's there. A few years back, the WAC split into the WAC and the Mountain West Conferences, thus creating the need for one more automatic bid to be awarded to the MWC Tournament champion. That's when the power of the almighty dollar stepped in.

Instead of reducing the number of at-large bids by one, the NCAA instituted a Play-in game, to be held in Dayton, OH, every year on the Tuesday before the Big Dance starts. The two worst teams - in the committee's eyes - duke it out on Tuesday to turn around and be thrown to the wolves on Friday.

It's an absolute shame the way it's set up now. Half of the kids relegated to the Play-in Game - who pour their hearts and souls into their season just like everyone else - don't even get their name on the official bracket. They know they're going to be blown out, but let them play the games on Thursday and Friday. Every other conference tournament champion gets a chance to knock off one of the big dogs, so why don’t they? Unless you're a fan of the losers, is there anything better than seeing a school like Richmond knock off Arizona in Round 1? Or who can forget Hampton's coach being lifted off the ground by one of his players after they knock off Iowa State?

If the NCAA wants to keep the Play-in game, fine, so be it. But why not have the last 2 schools to receive at-large bids duke it out instead? Wouldn't it be much more interesting this year to see Ole Miss and Ohio State playing for the right to get in as a 13-seed? It would certainly generate more of an audience than Niagara and Florida Atlantic did last year, or Monmouth and Hampton the year before that, and so on.

But don’t expect any changes to happen. The NCAA is a business, regardless of how they try to portray themselves. They understand that more fans from a mediocre BCS conference team will travel than a small-conference tournament champion. That means more ticket sales which obviously means more money. It also means that a small conference champion is eliminated from the tournament before a major conference team with a losing conference record even plays its first game. And that’s an absolute shame.

SEC Tournament Preview

The regular season has come and gone and while 5 teams - Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Mississippi State, and Arkansas - feel pretty good about their Dance invitations, major work remains for teams like Ole Miss and Florida. Here's how The Dead Guy sees the SEC Tourney going down.

* Yes, I meant to pick LSU over UT. This is a tough matchup for UT and the Vols dodged a HUGE bullet in Baton Rouge, escaping with a 2 point win, despite scoring just 47 points. Butch Pierre has the Tigers playing as well as any team in conference right now. Bruce Pearl is 0-2 in SECT games.
* The two wins by Ole Miss should be enough to get them into the Dance. If not, what a disappointment to start 13-0 and go back to the NIT.
* The one win by Florida won't be enough to get them back to the Dance. Their SOS, RPI, and Top 50 wins will all be behind OM and the Rebels beat them on the court.
* Vandy and MSU's runs to the the Title Game Sunday should be enough to earn them a 3 or 4 seeds in the Dance, putting them in position for a Sweet 16 run at least

Friday, March 7, 2008

Weekend Games (3/8-9)

It's the final weekend of the regular season and 4 teams - Florida, Ole Miss, Kentucky, and Arkansas - are resting squarely on the bubble. Other teams are jockeying for position in next weekend's SEC Tourney. Here's what's in store...

LSU @ Mississippi State

LSU's streaking right now, having won 4 in a row. That comes to a screeching halt Saturday in Strakville. Bulldogs roll.

Vanderbilt @ Alabama
While there are some serious matchup issues for the Commodores in this one, they'll get it done in what could be Mark Gottfried's regular season finale.

Auburn @ Arkansas
The Hogs need a statement win to solidify their Dance invite. This is as good a game as any to do it. Hogs roll.

Ole Miss @ Georgia
Even though they're somehow 0-7 on the road in conference play, I see the Rebels getting it done here. If they lose they're not dancing and they realize that.

Florida @ Tennessee

A win and the Gators are probably back in the Dance. Too bad that won't happen on Chris Lofton's Senior Day.

South Carolina @ Kentucky
A win here would lock up and unlikely 2nd place finish in the East for the 'Cats. USC plays inspired for Dave Odom's regular season finale, but it's not enough in Lexington.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Dead Guy's All-SEC Freshman Team

While the SEC was not as strong - as a whole - this year as it has been in years past, you'd be hard pressed to find another league in the country with as many dynamic freshmen as the SEC. Here's a look at the top 5 and my pick for SEC Freshman of the Year. Also here's a nifty stat-by-stat comparison from

Chris Warren, G, Ole Miss

15.7 PPG
4.59 APG
85 Made 3s

A starter from Day 1, Warren ranks 12th in the conference in scoring, 5th in assists, and 10th in A/TO ratio. Only one freshmen in the country has made more 3s. He was a key player in the Rebels' surprising 13-0 start and 20 win season. He's also the only freshman in the top 10 in the league in 3Pt% and total 3s made.

Nick Calathes, G, Florida
Key Stats:

15.9 PPG
6.1 APG
5.1 RPG

Gator coach Billy Donovan knew he was going to need contributions from his freshmen this year after replacing his top 6 players from last year. Calathes remained steady throught the Gators' up and down season and led the league in assists and ranked 3rd in A/TO ratio, 10th in steals, and 11th in scoring.

Anthony Randolph, F, LSU
Key Stats:

15.4 PPG
8.4 RPG
2.4 BPG

While firing a coach as early in the season as LSU is sometimes a recipe for disaster, firing John Brady couldn't come soon enough. Randolph has exploded under new coach Butch Pierre and currently ranks 3rd in the SEC in both rebounds and blocks, 11th in FG%, and 15th in PPG. He also shoots FTs very well for a big man - 70%.

Patrick Patterson, F, Kentucky
Key Stats:

16.4 PPG
7.7 RPG
1.2 BPG

Had PatPat not gone down last week with a season-ending injury, I think he was a lock for SEC Freshmen of the Year. Even when UK struggled at the beginning of the year, Patterson put up big numbers. He currently ranks 8th in PPG, 6th in RPG, and 11th in BPG. He could become the next in a long line of great Kentucky forwards.

A.J. Ogilvy, F, Vandy (Dead Guy's SEC FOY)
Key Stats:

16.7 PPG
6.7 RPG
1.4 BPG

What a 1-2 punch he and SEC POY-lock Shan Foster formed. The big man from Australia currently ranks 7th in PPG and BPG, 10th in RPG, and 4th in FG%, shooting 58.8% from the floor. His presence - both offensively and defensively - helped lead the Commodores to their current top 15 ranking.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Somewhere Doyle Jackson is smiling

Most SEC fans became familiar with Doyle Jackson after he used his magic powers to rule that a catch by an Ole Miss receiver was, in fact, not a catch at the end of the Rebels' game vs Alabama. The catch would've put the Rebels 1st and Goal from the 1 with just seconds remaining in the game. The call was questionable at best. Conspiracy theorists have other ideas.

Those ideas will only be stoked by the latest developments from the SEC offices in Birmingham. At the end of the Ole Miss/Alabama basketball game - in Oxford, nonetheless - a furious comeback by the Tide came up 3 points short after the clock stopped with 2.5 seconds left for no reason. The Tide was attempting to foul Rebel center Dwayne Curtis after a missed 3. The officials huddled for several minutes, reviewed the monitor, and declared the game to be over.

Now, those officials are under review by the league office, possibly facing penalties. Chances are, it wouldn't have mattered. Ole Miss shot 82% from the line for the day, including Curtis's 6/8. Mark Gottfried certainly took umbrage though and apparently the league is listening.

A Tubby Smith Sighting

It was good to see Tubby Smith back in an SEC building last night - once ESPN switched to the Arkansas/Ole Miss game. I always liked Tubby, who remains one of the classiest guys in business. He won a title his first year in Lexington - albeit with Pitino's players - and would've won another one had Keith Bogans not twisted his ankle against Wisconsin in 2003.

He always won, just not enough for the Big Blue Nation. While the 'Cats have been playing well of late, it's hard to imagine that Tubby would've have lost to some of the teams UK has lost to this year, mainly the home losses to Gardner-Webb and San Diego.

I hope he does well in Minnesota, a basketball program that hasn't always been a bastion of class through its history. There's the Clem Haskins era in recent memory and some crumudgeon Buckeye fans still talk about this... (and yes, that's MLB HOFer Dave Winfield in the background punching people in the face)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Midweek Games (3/4-5)

Another action-packed day leaves me little time for this. Again, abbreviated picks for this week's midweek games. 3 really good games, 2 really bad ones, and 1 mildly-entertaining one. I'll let you do the math.

Arkansas @ Ole Miss

Ole Miss needs to win out to get back on the inside of the bubble. They'll pick up an RPI-boosting win tonight.

Kentucky @ South Carolina

UK played a great game Sunday, almost knocking off then #1 UT. Can't see them duplicating that effort again tomorrow night without Patterson. USC wins Odom's (regular season) home finale.

Georgia @ Auburn
If your senior captain can't keep his cool on the road, you don't stand much of chance. Sundiata Gaines' little tantrum Sunday was classless. AU wins tomorrow night.

Alabama @ LSU
Who wants to finish last in the West? Please step backward. A suddenly streaking LSU wins easily.

Mississippi State @ Vanderbilt
This is a tough matchup for the 'Dores, but until someone knocks them off at home, I can't pick it, particularly on Senior Day. VU squeaks by.

Tennessee @ Florida
Florida struggled to beat UT when the '04s were winning national titles. Although this may get them back on the right side of the bubble, I see an Orange victory.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Quick Picks for weekend games

Pressed for time today, but here's how the weekend games will shake out...

Alabama @ Ole Miss

The Rebels build on a great 2nd half in Lexington and roll the Tide.

Mississippi State @ Florida
Florida gets it done to add to a sagging tourney resume.

Vanderbilt @ Arkansas
Vandy ventures out of Memorial for the first time in 5 games and is in for a rude awakening in Bud Walton. Arkansas wins.

South Carolina @ Auburn
Most perplexing game of the weekend. I see AU getting it done though.

Kentucky @ Tennessee

Let's see, UK is without Patrick Patterson and beat Tennessee earlier this year and UT is rebounding from a loss to Vandy. Yeah, Vols roll in this one.

Georgia @ LSU
Another battle of the league's mediocre. Again, I side with the home team. LSU wins.