Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quick Hits, Feb. 28, 2012: Way Too Many Talk About Living on the Edge

Quite a few articles discussing the fact that NU has never made it to the NCAA Tournament. Here's a nice listing of today's news for ya.

ESPN Blogger Ryan Feldman details the Cats' last two weeks living on the edge of the NCAA bubble, complete with brief histories of the previous three seasons where we kept falling short.

Our old buddy at the Chicago Tribune, Teddy Greenstein, writes about what the team needs to do these next two weeks in order to make the Field of 68. (Hmm, looks very similar to my own post last night...)

Apparently we're a big enough story that USA Today is covering us. See the related article here.

In an Athlon Sports questionnaire article about the biggest pressure-cooker stories of the week, one writer mentions us as the story to watch.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Feb. 27, 2012: We can all start 0-0.

Welcome back to our not-so-regularly scheduled blogging of Bleed Wildcat Purple. It's been, oh, a little over a year since I did this thing. Unfortunately, a little thing called "life" got in the way, and I found myself unable to take any time at all to keep working on the blog. I hope you understand. At any rate, I have a night to myself, so I figured I could dust this thing off and try to start it up, even for just a little bit. I'm not sure whether to call my first NU blogging experience a success or failure, but regardless, today is a new day, and perhaps this blog will be a new(er) blog.

As Coach Fitz always states, "We're 0-0 at the start of every week." That's basically where the 'Cats basketball team stands right now, working to play into the Field of 68 for their first-ever Big Dance (that's the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, for those of you just tuning in, like me). We have two games to go in the regular season -- one home, one away -- and then we get into Big Ten Tournament time. Suffice it to say that we probably need to go 3-2 in order to make the tournament. Here's the upcoming slate:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Weekend Reflections: Dec. 17-19

  • Okay, so this one really isn't about the weekend, but it's clear that the 'Cats are getting excited about their own play. Everyone's just out enjoying the game, giving chest bumps, pounding away when a great play (like a dunk) happens. I just love watching this team play. 
  • Purdue suddenly looks like a very beatable team. I originally believed that a road win against the Boilermakers would be a very Herculean task, but now-- not so much. Sure, they're back to their winning ways, but who have they beaten? So far, the only scorers are E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson. No one else. Zip, zilch, nada. I bet if we manage to shut down JaJuan in particular, we have a real good chance of taking home a quality win on the road.
  • Illinois has a few chinks in the armor.  Okay, okay, I'll admit, their jump-shooting just looked uncharacteristically awful against UIC on Saturday, but still. They were having a hard time getting past the Flames' 1-3-1 defense. And we run it better! Now the only thing we need to figure out is how to break the full-court press...
  • I'm stoked about the 'Cats playing back-to-back games tonight and tomorrow, except for the fact that they're not on standard digital cable... at least, not here. $&@#*%^ Comcast. Someone keep me posted!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quick Hits: Bracketology Edition

Hey all, with about five weeks of basketball play in the books, a lot of NCAA Tournament brackets are being updated, and I've been very interested to see what everyone's projecting for the Wildcats as of right now:

  • ESPN's Joe Lunardi updated his bracket yesterday (12/14), and in both his preseason bracket and this bracket, he has us listed as a #12 seed. This is interesting news, to say the least-- when the media started hyping the prospect of us making last year's tournament, Lunardi continued leaving us off of his bracket. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come? Also noteworthy: he has the 'Cats automatically in the field of 64 instead of running a play-in game.
  • Fellow blogger Bracketology 101 is even a little more optimistic. His Dec. 13 bracket has us as an 11th seed, along with the likes of UCF, Cleveland State and Virginia (who has a resume win against Minnesota). Also of note: We would play That School in South Bend in the opening round.
  • The home of Wildcat blogger Sippin on Purple, SBNation also has NU placed as an 11 seed. What's troubling, though, is the dropping of Michigan State to a 6 seed(!) and Purdue to an 8 seed.
  • Although not in the form of a bracket, Bleacher Report places the 'Cats as an 11 seed. North Carolina State also makes an appearance here as an 11, despite the fact that they got absolutely crushed by Wisconsin in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
  • The Hoops Report puts a slight on the 'Cats, leaving them off the bracket altogether. Moreover, we're not even in the First Four Out. This bracket is very interesting, as it's one of the few brackets that features only 6 Big Ten teams in the tournament.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

RPI Watch, December 14th: Surviving Finals

I'm running one day late on my weekly RPI watch, thanks to the presence of finals that have been hitting me like a ton of bricks for the past week and will continue through this week. (I'm currently a grad student at the University of Illinois, so my finals are running a week later than NU's.) I just turned in a group project this morning, so now I can break to give you the latest updates!

Although I may be feeling a little sluggish, our men's basketball team isn't! They woke up from a short hoops hibernation to knock off Long Island, 81-65 last night.

Looking at the polls, the 'Cats remain stagnant due to their inactivity last week, remaining tied for 31st in the Coaches' Poll with 15 points. The 25th-ranked team, Texas, only has 41 points, so a continued undefeated run may push the team into the Top 25 before our last non-conference game. The AP Poll hasn't been quite so nice, dropping the 'Cats back into a three-way tie for 36th with Washington State and Cincinnati, each with 5 points.

It's that time... time to check the RPI.

Blackbird Screeching: 'Cats Down LIU, 81-65

Another day, another home win for our beloved men's basketball team. After a 13-day layoff that included most of reading week and finals, the 'Cats went out and handled an undersized but athletic squad in Long Island. The game was really never in doubt, as the worst part probably consisted of hearing the nagging voices of native LI-ers about how their team needs to be more physical. To be quite honest, these games are turning into quite the ho-hum affairs -- something we really couldn't say five years ago. It's heartening to see this team refuse to drag its heels after taking such a long break away from the game. Perhaps it's a sign that they might get off the bus swinging for their road tilts in conference play.

With the win today, the 'Cats move up to 77th place in today's RPI rankings, due in large part to the boost in strength of schedule. The same cannot be said for KenPom, however, as the 'Cats pretty much stay in place at 52nd. For the Four Factors breakdown of the game, I suggest hitting up Sippin' on Purple for the juicy details.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quick Hit: Men's Basketball SoS Takes Another Hit

I had the opportunity displeasure of watching some non-conference action tonight, and what I saw didn't look too good. Here's a quick recap:

-Georgia Tech lost to Georgia at home. This was a game that the Yellow Jackets should have won, as they led through most of the 40 minutes and had momentum going into the last two. Then they let G Dustin Ware loose for the umpteenth time, and he made them pay with a late 3 that would decide the game, 73-72. In the short run, this game will boost Tech's SoS, but their RPI could have improved vastly with a win here. Instead, they just look like a mediocre team.

-St. John's was upset by St. Bonaventure, 67-66, at home. Ugh. What looked like a promising RPI boost might now be destined to be a no-help win (provided we play them and provided we win, of course). Bonaventure might be good in the RPI right now, but KenPom tells a much different tale: they had the Bonnies ranked 162nd going into this game.

-Michigan State hurts the conference RPI by failing to beat another Top 10 team on the road, this time against Syracuse. I know that Izzo's team is rarely a "great" team early in the season, but would it hurt to have a big signature win before conference play started? (That said, I'm really glad we play them at home early on in January.)

-Mount St. Mary's lost to Penn State... oh, wait, we play both of these teams, and we play Penn State twice. Nevermind.

I'll be interested to see where we end up in the RPI as of tomorrow. We're trending downward and could see ourselves back in the triple-digits if play doesn't improve.