Saturday, February 25, 2012

NCAA Basketball: Bubble Team Breakdown- Mid-Majors

by John Huffstetler

Updated through Sunday February 26th

Other Conferences

Locks- Gonzaga, Wichita St., Creighton, Murray St.

St. Mary's- Record- 25-5 (14-2 in WCC)
Games Remaining- None
Ken Pom Rating- 41
Ken Pom SOS- 184
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- BYU x 2, Gonzaga,
Bad Losses- LoyMarymount (Home)
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 3-2- Wins over BYU x 2, Gonzaga and Losses to Gonzaga, Murray St.

In or Out right now- In- The Gaels appear to be safe heading into the WCC tourney, but there are some red flags with this team that could keep them home with an early tourney exit. They have zero quality non-conference wins, instead, their resume hinges on two wins over a decent BYU squad. In 4 of their 5 road games against Ken Pom top 100 squads (at Murray St., at Baylor, at Denver, and at Gonzaga), they lost in unimpressive, double-digit fashion. They remain on this list despite their 25 wins because there is a chance that the committee could look at their body of work and decide that they didn't do enough to warrant a bid. They should, however, make it in the field.

Harvard- Record- 24-4 (10-2 in Ivy)
Games Remaining- at Columbia, at Cornell
Ken Pom Rating- 35
Ken Pom SOS- 178
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- Florida St. (neutral), UCF (neutral), St. Joe's
Bad Losses- at Fordham, Penn (Home), at Princeton
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 2-1- Wins over UCF, St. Joe's and a loss to UConn

In or Out right now- Out- Harvard still owns a slim lead for the Ivy league conference title, but their loss Saturday to Penn makes their situation much more tenuous. A win over Penn would have given them a strong two-game lead for the title, but this loss puts them only 1/2 a game ahead of Penn for the title. The reason Harvard is "out" for at-large consideration is this: If they win out, they will most likely win the conference, but if they lose a game and the Ivy league title, they will have posted another bad loss to hurt their resume enough to keep them out. Harvard does have a few quality wins, but a loss to either Columbia or Cornell will damage their resume enough to send them to the NIT.

LB St.- Record- 21-7 (14-0 in Big West)
Games Remaining- vs. UC-Irvine, at CS Fullerton
Ken Pom Rating- 42
Ken Pom SOS- 98
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- Xavier
Bad Losses- at Montana
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 1-0- Wins over Xav

In or Out right now- In- Long Beach St. makes the field based more on the quality of their losses than the strength of their victories. Their one quality win came against a short-handed Xavier squad (suspensions for Cincy brawl), but they managed to lose tightly contested battles against solid squads in UNC (lost by 6 on the road), Kansas (lost by 8 on the road), Creighton (lost by 2 on the road) and SD St. (lost by 4 on the road). These impressive showings in defeat coupled with their undefeated conference record would give LB St. a bid should they lose their conference tourney.

MTSU- Record- 25-5 (14-2 in Sun Belt)
Games Remaining- None
Ken Pom Rating- 50
Ken Pom SOS- 175
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- at UCLA, Belmont,
Bad Losses- at UAB, at WKy
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- None

In or Out right now- Out- MTSU will most likely need to win their conference tourney to get in the tourney. Although they've had a great season, they simply don't have enough quality wins on the resume. The Sun Belt as a whole is down this year, which further damages their cause. They could potentially earn an at-large bid if they lose in the finals of their conference tourney, but most likely they need to win the Sun Belt tourney.

Iona- Record- 24-6 (15-3 in MAAC)
Games Remaining- None
Ken Pom Rating- 49
Ken Pom SOS- 172
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- St. Joe's, at Den,
Bad Losses- at Hofstra, at Siena, at Loy (Md.), Manhatten (Home)
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 1-1- Win over St. Joe's and a Loss to Purdue

In or Out right now- Out- The Gaels have too many bad losses throughout their soft schedule to warrant at-large consideration. Although they have several wins against teams just outside the top 100, their quality wins just don't stack up with other bubble teams. They did manage to beat a Denver squad on the road that beat several strong teams in their building this year, but the Gaels will most likely have to win the MAAC tourney to get in the field.

BYU- Record- 24-7 (12-4 in WCC)
Games Remaining- None
Ken Pom Rating- 38
Ken Pom SOS- 162
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- Ore, at VaTech, Gonzaga
Bad Losses- at Utah St., LoyMarymount (Home)
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 1-2- Win over Ore and two Losses to St. Mary's

In or Out right now- Out- BYU is the most difficult bubble team to call at this moment. The schedule isn't great, but they do have a few decent wins this season. On the other hand, fellow bubble team St. Mary's swept them this year in blowout fashion. They probably need a deep WCC tourney run and potentially an upset over Gonzaga in the semis to get in the field.

VCU- Record- 25-6 (15-3 in Colonial)
Games Remaining- None
Ken Pom Rating- 47
Ken Pom SOS- 168
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- South Florida,
Bad Losses- GaTech (neutral)
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 1-3- Win over SFla and Losses to Ala, SHall, Drex

In or Out right now- In- Their resume isn't necessarily any better than BYU or Iona, but it will be impossible for the committee to not consider last year's final four run when deciding if VCU should make the field this year. Although they only have one quality win (they do have several other top 100 wins), they avoided bad losses for most of the season. They are also an impressive 22-3 since starting the season 3-3. If they can get to the CAA final, they should be in the dance again this year.

Drexel- Record- 25-5 (16-2 in Colonial)
Games Remaining- None
Ken Pom Rating- 46
Ken Pom SOS- 225
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- VCU, at Clev St.
Bad Losses- Norfolk St. (Home), at Delaware
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams-

In or Out right now- In- Drexel gets the nod because they played virtually perfect basketball after their early 2-4 start. They've won 23 of 24 games since December 3rd, including home wins over VCU and GMason, and a road win over ODU to close the regular season. Although the Dragons did benefit from a favorable conference schedule (no road games against VCU, GMason, or Delaware), they do deserve credit for their amazing run and a bid in the tourney should they lose in the CAA tourney.

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NCAA Basketball: Bubble Team Breakdown- A-10 and C-USA

by John Huffstetler

Updated through Saturday February 25th

Locks- Temple, St. Louis

Xavier- Record- 18-10 (9-5 in A-10)
Games Remaining- at St. Louis, at Char
Ken Pom Rating- 54
Ken Pom SOS- 40
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- at Vandy, Pur, Cincy, St. Bona, St. Joe's, Day
Bad Losses- at Hawaii
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 4-3- Wins over Pur, Cincy, St. Joe's, Day and Losses to LB St., Mem, Day

In or Out right now- In- After starting the season in strong top 15 caliber fashion, the Musketeers hit a wall when multiple starters were suspended following their brawl with Cincinnati. They lost 5 of 6 during that stretch and dropped out of the top 25. The committee, however, must give Xavier some leniency for those losses because they weren't at full strength. The early season wins over Vandy, Purdue, and Cincy, in addition to the respectable (although not spectacular) conference record should be enough to get them in the field.

St. Joe's- Record- 18-11 (8-6 in A-10)
Games Remaining- at St. Bona
Ken Pom Rating- 63
Ken Pom SOS- 54
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- Temp, Drex, Creigh, LaSalle, UMass, Day
Bad Losses- at American, Char, at Penn, Rich
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 2-4- Wins over Drex, Day and Losses to SHall, Iona, Harv, Xav

In or Out right now- Out- The win yesterday over Temple was huge for their tourney chances, but they still need to do more to overcome their litany of bad losses. Although 2 of their 4 losses to bubble teams were tightly contested road games, the committee must still consider taking Seton Hall, Iona, Harvard, and Xavier over the Hawks as at-large teams by virtue of their head-to-head wins. St. Joe's will have to earn a few quality wins in the A-10 tourney to make it in the field.

Dayton- Record- 18-10 (8-6 in A-10)
Games Remaining- at Rich, vs. GW
Ken Pom Rating- 59
Ken Pom SOS- 67
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- Minn (neutral), Bama, St. Louis, at Temp, LaSalle, Xavier
Bad Losses- RI (Home), Duq (Home), Buff (Home), at Mia (Oh.)
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 3-3- Wins over Minn, Bama, Xav and Losses to Xav, SHall, St. Joe's

In or Out right now- Out- The Flyers have several quality wins, but have succumb to weaker competition throughout the season. Although Dayton is traditionally strong at home, they lost 3 home games this year to teams outside the Ken Pom top 100. They still have an outside chance to make the field, but they need to win out and make some noise in the A-1o tourney.


Locks- None

Memphis- Record- 21-8 (11-3 in C-USA)
Games Remaining- vs. UCF, at Tulsa
Ken Pom Rating- 14
Ken Pom SOS- 50
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- Belmont, Tenn x 2, at Mia (Fl.), SMiss, Xav
Bad Losses- UTEP (Home)
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 3-2- Wins over Belmont, Mia (Fl.), SMiss and Losses to SMiss, UCF

In or Out right now- In- Memphis' win over Xavier earlier this month virtually secured their NCAA berth. They just needed to avoid bad losses down the stretch, and, with the exception of UTEP, they have done so. Barring back-to-back losses and a first round C-USA tourney exit, Memphis should be in the NCAA field once again.

UCF- Record- 20-8 (9-5 in C-USA)
Games Remaining- at Mem, vs. UAB
Ken Pom Rating- 79
Ken Pom SOS- 122
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- UConn, Mem
Bad Losses- at LaLaf, at Rice
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 2-3- Wins over UConn, Mem and Losses to Harv and SMiss x 2

In or Out right now- Out- The loss to Rice earlier this week was costly for their NCAA chances. They only have 2 quality wins to go along with their 2 bad losses at La-Lafayette and Rice. If they beat Memphis on the road or make a deep C-USA tourney run, they could still make the field, but they definitely have work left to do.

SMiss- Record- 23-6 (10-4 in C-USA)
Games Remaining- vs. SMU, at Marshall
Ken Pom Rating- 65
Ken Pom SOS- 74
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- Mem, NM St. x 2, SFlorida, UCF x 2, Tulsa
Bad Losses- at UAB, at Hou, at UTEP
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 5-1- Wins over Mem, UCF x 2, SFla, Colo St. and a Loss to Mem

In or Out right now- In- On February 7th, Southern Miss had the resume of a 6/7 seed in the tourney; however, they have struggled down the stretch with poor losses to UAB, Houston, and UTEP. Like Memphis, Southern Miss just needs to take care of business down the stretch by avoiding multiple bad losses and they will be in the field.

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Washington Redskins 2012 NFL Mock Draft: Draft Or Sign A Quarterback?

by Kurt Turner of Fantasy Kuckleheads

2011 Record: 5-11
Key Free Agents:
RB Tim Hightower, TE Fred Davis, LB Rocky McIntosh, S LaRon Landry, C Will Montgomery

After an 11-21 start in his first two years as head coach, Mike Shanahan and the Washington Redskins will need a strong offseason in order to make any sort of noise in a tough NFC East Division in 2012. Shanahan has now finished with back-to-back 4th place finishes. In addition, if they don’t improve and finish with at least an 8-8 record or higher, Shanahan’s seat could be pretty toasty come the 2013 offseason. As Redskins fans know, team owner Daniel Snyder has not been hesitant when it comes to firing a coach, no matter how much of a name he is.

This year’s free agency pool is deep, but let’s see what kind of prospects the Redskins could pick up in the draft:

1st Round (1.6): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
After the Donovan McNabb experiment in 2010 turned out to be a complete failure, Shanahan has had to deal with iffy quarterback play from both Rex Grossman and John Beck. Quarterback is and should be the team’s No. 1 priority going into the Draft, I’m just not sure if Griffin is going to fall all the way to the No. 6 spot with the Browns looming at No. 4. There are rumors that the Redskins could try and swing a trade for the Rams’ No. 2 spot or the Vikings’ No. 3 spot, but giving away a fortune wouldn’t be in the best interest for a team that has many other holes to fill.

Washington has already been linked to Peyton Manning, but it’s a long shot. Shanahan is a control freak when it comes to his offense and I don’t see the two being able to click considering Peyton is almost his own offensive coordinator. Plus, according to one source, it’s been “tough” for Peyton to play against his brother Eli in the past. If Matt Flynn gets the franchise tag, the Packers might settle for a package of picks, including the Redskins’ 2.7 pick. But again, giving up a fortune for a guy who might or might not pan out as a full-time starter is risky.

Griffin’s stock has gone up within the last few hours after he measured in at 6’2/223 pounds at the Combine. His size was said to be one of the bigger reasons why he might fall. But after this news came out, Griffin will likely be the No. 2 quarterback drafted behind Andrew Luck, barring some sort of collapse. If the Redskins can swing a trade without giving up too much, he’d be a strong building block for an offense that needs consistent quarterback play badly.

2nd Round (2.7): Rueben Randle, WR, LSU
If the Redskins trade up in the first round, they will likely have to sacrifice this pick and more to get there. But let’s, for the hell of it, say they stay at this spot. Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney are currently penciled in as the starters, but Moss is getting old and doesn’t have the explosiveness that he used to. Moreover, Gaffney is, well, Gaffney: a guy who doesn’t offer much upside. Last year’s third-round pick Leonard Hankerson was on his way to solidifying himself as a starter after racking up 8 catches for 106 yards in Week 10 against the Dolphins last year, but was lost for the rest of the season with a torn labrum in his right hip. Anthony Armstrong has shown he can be a deep threat, but is inconsistent. Right now, Randle projects as a late first rounder. But if he can slip to the second, he could be the heir for Moss’ starting job. Randle racked up 97 receptions and 13 touchdowns in three years at LSU, averaging 17.3 ypc in 2011.

3rd Round: (3.6): Harrison Smith, SS, Notre Dame
LaRon Landry is questionable for the 2012 season after suffering a severe Achilles injury that required platelet rich plasma and stem-cell treatments. Considered the best safety prospect at the Senior Bowl by several teams, Smith could be a safety valve if the team winds up letting Landry go to free agency. For now, Smith grades out as a second rounder, but could fall to the third.

4th Round: (4.7): Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri
Chris Cooley could be a salary cap casualty with a a cap number of $6.23 million in 2012. Fred Davis is also a free agent, but he is expected to either get the transition tag or could possibly be a minor candidate for the franchise tag. If Cooley doesn’t restructure his deal and is let go, Egnew is a big body the team could use in two tight end sets and as another redzone target. Egnew totaled 140 receptions between 2010-2011.

4th Round (From Oakland): Jeff Allen, OG, Illinois
Washington’s offensive line continued to play inconsistent last year. Pass protection was a big problem and the running game had it’s ups and downs. Illinois averaged 4.3 yards a carry in 2011. And in 2010, Allen helped pave the way for Illinois’ rushing offense that was No. 1 in the Big Ten and the 11th-best in the nation (246.1 ypg). The team may also look to free agency for upgrades at this position.

5th Round: (5.6): Terrance Ganaway, RB/FB, Baylor
Don’t put it past Shanahan to draft yet another running back in one of the later rounds this year. Roy Helu and Evan Royster will be vying for the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, but Shanahan loves competition. For his career, Ganaway rushed 473 times for 2,592 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns.

7th Round (7.6): Terrence Frederick, CB, Texas A&M
DeAngelo Hall
is starting to be more known for his mouth than his on-field play. The Redskins could make corner a No. 1 priority and go after LSU’s Morris Claiborne, but I still like Frederick with this pick. A tackling machine, he racked up 5 solo tackles against Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Fantasy Knuckleheads.

Friday, February 24, 2012

NCAA Basketball: Bubble Team Breakdown- Pac-12 and Mountain West

by John Huffstetler

Updated through Friday February 24th


Locks- None

Cal- Record- 23-6 (13-3 in Pac-12)
Games Remaining- at Colo, at Stan
Ken Pom Rating- 19
Ken Pom SOS- 119
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- Denver, UCLA x 2, Ore x 2, Wash, Stan
Bad Losses- at Wash St.
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 3-1- Wins over UCLA x 2, Wash and a Loss to Ariz

In or Out right now- In- Cal is the top at-large contender from the Pac-12 conference, but they still have major flaws. The schedule (like most of the conference) has been relatively easy, and in the few opportunities Cal had to earn quality wins out of conference, they failed. Their most impressive (if you can call it that) non-conference win was an easy home victory over a Denver squad notorious for their strong home record and poor road performances. They have virtually dominated in the Pac-12 conference, with the exception of a home loss to Arizona. Because of their strong conference record, they should still make the NCAA field.

Arizona- Record- 20-9 (11-5 in Pac-12)
Games Remaining- vs. UCLA, at Ariz St.
Ken Pom Rating- 41
Ken Pom SOS- 98
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- at NM St., Clem, at Cal, at Stan
Bad Losses- None
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 1-4- Win over Cal and Losses to Miss St., Ore, Wash x 2

In or Out right now- Out- Like Cal, the Wildcats have a lack of quality wins out of conference. In fact, with the exception of one week where they went on the road to beat both Cal and Stanford, they have virtually no quality wins. To their credit, they avoided bad losses all season long, with their worst loss coming at home against a hot Washington squad. The Wildcats might need to win the Pac-12 tourney (or at least make a deep run) to get in the field.

Washington- Record- 19-8 (12-3 in Pac-12)
Games Remaining- at Wash St., at USC, at UCLA
Ken Pom Rating- 71
Ken Pom SOS- 85
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- Ore, Stan, Ariz x 2, UCLA
Bad Losses- at Nevada
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 4-1- Wins over Ore, Stan, Ariz x 2 and a Loss to Ore

In or Out right now- In- They get the nod over Arizona because they swept the Wildcats this season in 2 meetings. Washington earned zero quality wins out of conference, but they did play Duke and Marquette to tight finishes in Madison Square Garden back in December. Those tight losses coupled with their strong Pac-12 record gets them in the field right now. They have 3 road games remaining, however, and a poor performance down the stretch could bounce them to the NIT.

Oregon- Record- 19-8 (10-5 in Pac-12)
Games Remaining- at Ore St., vs. Colo, vs. Utah
Ken Pom Rating- 70
Ken Pom SOS- 78
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- Stan x 2, Ariz, UCLA, Wash
Bad Losses- None
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 2-4- Wins over Ariz, Wash and Losses to BYU, Wash, Cal x 2

In or Out right now- Out- Like every other Pac-12 bubble team, they have zero quality non-conference wins, but they make this list because they have performed well in the Pac-12. In their 3 difficult non-conference games, they lost at Vandy, at BYU, and at home against UVA all by double-digits. They did manage to avoid bad losses all season, they are most likely in need of 3 straight wins down the stretch to warrant consideration heading into the Pac-12 tourney.

Mountain West

Locks- New Mexico, SD St., UNLV

Colorado St.- Record- 17-9 (6-5 in Mountain West)
Games Remaining- at San Diego St., vs. UNLV, at Air Force
Ken Pom Rating- 87
Ken Pom SOS- 58
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- San Diego St., NMex, Wyo, Den
Bad Losses- at TCU, at Boise St.
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 0-1- Loss to SMiss

In or Out right now- Out- The recent win over New Mexico helps, but the Rams just don't have enough quality wins to get in the field. They do, however, have two more opportunities for quality wins against struggling San Diego St. and UNLV squads. If they can win out, the addition of those quality victories would be enough to get them in the field. Anything short of that unlikely scenario and the Rams will be watching the tourney this year.

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NCAA Basketball: Bubble Team Breakdown- Big Ten

by John Huffstetler

Updated through Friday February 24th

Big Ten

Locks- Mich St., Ohio St., Mich, Indiana, Wisconsin

Purdue- Record- 18-10 (8-7 in Big Ten)
Games Remaining- at Mich, vs. Penn St., at Ind
Ken Pom Rating- 35
Ken Pom SOS- 19
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- Iona (neutral), Temple (Neutral), Mia (Fl.), Illinois (Twice), at Minn, NWestern (Twice),
Bad Losses- Butler (Neutral), Penn St. (away)
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 8-2- Wins over Iona, Temp, Mia Fl, Ill x 2, Minn, NWestern x 2 and Losses to Alabama, Xavier

In or Out right now- In- Beating Illinois and Northwestern twice puts them firmly above both fellow Big Ten squads. In addition, their quality wins and impressive record against other bubble teams gives them an edge over most bubble teams in the country. Even if they lose their 3 remaining games, they could still conceivably make the tourney.

Northwestern- Record- 16-11 (6-9)
Games Remaining- at Penn St., vs. Ohio St., at Iowa
Ken Pom Rating- 54
Ken Pom SOS- 6
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- Mich St., LSU (neutral), SHall (neutral), at Ill, Minn
Bad Losses- None
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 4-4- Wins over LSU, SHall, Ill, Minn and Losses to Ill, Minn, Pur x 2

In or Out right now- Out- If the Wildcats don't make the NCAA field, they will look back and regret the two OT losses to Michigan. One or both of those wins could have them in the field right now. As they stand right now, they have no losses outside of the top 63 on Ken Pom and have a strong quality win over Michigan St. If they win 2 of their final 3, Northwestern will most likely secure their first ever NCAA tournament bid.

Illinois- Record- 16-12 (5-10 in Big Ten)
Games Remaining- vs. Iowa, vs. Mich, at Wis
Ken Pom Rating- 63
Ken Pom SOS- 7
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- Ohio St., Mich St., Gonzaga, St. Bona, Minn, at NWestern
Bad Losses- at Penn St., at Neb
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 3-4- Wins over St. Bona, Minn, NWestern and Losses to Pur x 2, Minn, NWestern

In or Out right now- Out- On January 18th, Illinois looked like a guarantee to make the NCAA tourney, but after losing 9 of their last 10 games, the Illini are currently on the outside of the field. Despite their recent struggles, Illinois still has a legitimate chance to make the field with a few late season wins. They have several high quality wins, including victories over two top 10 squads in Michigan St. (#3 in Ken Pom) and Ohio St. (#2 in Ken Pom). If they win 2 of their last 3, they still have a chance of making the field. 3 wins should definitely get them in because they would add quality victories over Wisconsin and Michigan in that scenario.

Minnesota- Record- 17-11 (5-10 in Big Ten)
Games Remaining- vs. Ind, at Wisc, vs. Neb
Ken Pom Rating- 52
Ken Pom SOS- 25
Quality Wins (vs. Ken Pom Top 75)- at Ind, NWestern, Ill, South Dakota St.
Bad Losses- None
Record vs. Other Bubble Teams- 2-3- Wins over NWestern, Ill and Losses to Ill, Pur, NWestern

In or Out right now- Out- Like Illinois, the Big Ten record just isn't good enough to warrant at-large consideration right now. Unlike Illinois, Minnesota doesn't have two wins against top 10 teams to potentially overcome the weaker conference record. The fact that they have no losses against teams outside the top 100 helps their cause, but they probably need to win out to get in, which isn't likely.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

2012 NCAA Tournament Bracket Predictions: Third Edition

by John Huffstetler


1 Syracuse 27-1-
They have essentially locked up a #1 seed barring complete collapse.
16 NC Asheville 19-9 (Big South)/ Norfolk St. 19-9 (MEAC)

8 St. Mary's 23-5 (Prev: 5)-A disastrous two-week stretch with blowout losses to Gonzaga, Murray St., and LMU drop the Gaels dramatically. They are a definite tourney team, but their seed takes a huge hit.
9- Texas 17-10 (Prev: 9)- The Longhorns benefit from a strong strength of schedule. They still have the potential to miss the tourney altogether should the last few weeks go poorly.

4 Wichita St. 24-4 (Prev: 7)- The Shockers have lost 1 game this year (In 3OT's at Drake) and are one of the hottest teams in the country. Recent road beatings of quality foes in Creighton and Davidson have them poised to potentially be the highest seeded mid-major in the tourney.
13 Davidson 20-7 (Southern) (Prev: 11)- The losses to Wichita St. and College of Charleston drop Davidson down a few lines. The 10-14 seeds include many tightly grouped teams, and any loss can severely damage seeding.

5 Wisconsin 20-7 (Prev: 7) - With many teams in the 4-7 range floundering, Wisconsin makes a jump in seeding based on the strength of their losses (at Ohio St. and Mich St.) and the weakness of several competitors last few weeks of play.
12 Southern Miss 22-5

3 Michigan (Prev: 4)- They survived the toughest part of the schedule gaining huge wins over Ohio St., Mich St., and Indiana. A 3-1 finish to the season guarantees them a 3 seed.
14 Weber St. (Big Sky) (Prev: 15)

6 Murray St. 26-1 (OVC) (Prev: 7)- The high quality win over St. Mary's virtually ensures the Racers of a high at-large bid should they lose their conference tourney.
11 Memphis 19-8 (Prev: 12)

7 Iowa St. 19-8 (Prev: 10)
10 West Virginia 17-10 (Prev: 6)- WVA has lost 5 of 7, including 3 at home. A .500 Big East record should get them in, but they are squarely on the bubble now.

2 Duke 23-4 (Prev: 3)- The Blue Devils somehow end up in a position to get a high seed every year no matter how much they struggle during the season. The recent road win over UNC was crucial for seeding purposes. A home win over UNC would push them to the brink of yet another 1 seed.
15 Akron 19-8 (MAC) (Prev: Out)


1 Kansas 22-5 (Prev:2)- The recent struggles of UNC and Ohio St. push the Jayhawks to the 1 line. They continue to earn quality wins in a top-heavy Big 12.
16 UT Arlington 20-6 (Southland)

8 Cal 22-6 (Prev: 9)- 5 straight wins have the Golden Bears looking like the top seed to emerge from the mediocre Pac-12 conference.
9 Gonzaga 21-5 (Prev: 8)

4 Indiana 20-7 (Big Ten) (Prev: 5)- The win over Kentucky in December remains the most impressive win of the entire season for any team.
13 Long Beach St. 19-7 (Big West)- Their dominance in Big West play and the high quality losses by 6 to UNC, 4 to SD St., and 8 to Kansas show that this team is capable of winning a few rounds in the tourney.

5 New Mexico 22-4 (Prev: 8)- The Lobos are on fire with two consecutive double-digit wins over SD St. and UNLV.
12 NC St. 18-9 (Prev: Out)- No bubble team deserves this spot, so NC ST. gets in because they currently have a winning record in a respectable conference. / Alabama 17-9 (Prev: 10)- With JaMychal Green returning from suspension, look for Bama to improve their tournament resume down the stretch.

3 Marquette 22-5 (Prev: 6)- Marquette is rolling through a rather soft conference schedule by Big East standards (play Syr, NDame, L-Ville only once), but to their credit, they've avoided bad losses for most of the year.
14 Belmont 22-7 (Prev: 15)

6 Kansas St. 18-8 (Prev: 4)
11 Xavier 17-9 (Prev: Out)

7 UNLV 22-6 (Prev: 4)- They have lost 3 of 4 after looking like a strong candidate for a 3 seed just weeks ago.
10 Cincy 19-8 (Prev:12)

2 UNC 23-4 (Prev: 1)- The loss to Duke drops them behind Kansas down to the 2 line. They could use a road win against Duke to get them back on the 1 line.
15 Lehigh 21-7 (Patriot) (Prev: Out)


1 Missouri 25-2 (Prev: 2)- The Tigers make their first appearance on the 1 line this season following 7 straight wins. They have several quality victories, but might need a road win over Kansas to stay a 1 seed because of the stiff competition for the final 2 #1 seeds.
16 Vermont 19-10 (AEC)(Prev: Out)/ MV ST. 16-11 (SWAC)

8 Creighton 23-5 (Prev: 5)- The Blue Jays lost 3 straight games at the worst possible time. They did secure a quality non-conference win over LB St. to basically secure their at-large status in the field.
9 Washington 19-8 (Prev: 12)- The Huskies have won 8 of 9 against soft Pac-12 foes. The name "Pac-12" should still carry enough weight to get them in the field, even though the conference is below average this year.

4 Louisville 21-6 (Prev: 7)- L-Ville has won 7 of 8 with their only loss coming by 1 against Syracuse.
13 MTSU 24-4 (Sun Belt)(Prev: 14)

5 Temple 21-5 (Prev: 10)- Temple has now won 10 straight and they own quality wins over Duke, Wichita St., St. Louis, and Xavier.
12 Iona 22-6 (MAAC) (Prev: 14)- The Gaels earned a much needed quality win over Nevada during Bracketbuster Saturday. A win this week over Fairfield would put Iona in a position to earn an at-large bid should things go awry in the conference tourney.

3 Florida 21-6
14 Oral Roberts 25-5 (Prev: 13)

6 Notre Dame 19-8 (Prev: 12)- The Irish late season charge has truly been incredible. They have won 8 straight, including wins over 1-loss Syracuse, Marquette, WVA, Seton Hall and UConn. They have gone from a bubble team to a tourney lock in a matter of weeks.
11 Purdue 17-10

7 St. Louis 22-5 (Prev: 11)- St. Louis has won 9 of 10 to push themselves onto the list of NCAA tourney locks with just 3 games remaining on their schedule.
10 Miss St. 19-8 (Prev: 6)- The Bulldogs are coming off 3 straight bad losses (including 2 in OT) to inferior SEC competition to drop them down close to the bubble with 4 critical games remaining.

2 Ohio St. 22-5 (Prev: 1)- The home loss to Mich St. and the road loss at Michigan drop Ohio St. off the 1 line for the first time this year. They will need a road win over Mich St. in the regular season finale to regain a #1 seed.
15 Valpo 19-10 (Horizon) (Prev: Out)


1 Kentucky 26-1- Clearly the best team in the country at this moment. They have been winning in dominant fashion against over-matched SEC foes.
16 LIU 21-7 (NEC)

8 Harvard 23-3 (Prev: 9)
9 SD St. 20-6 (Prev: 5)- After losing 3 straight games, the Aztecs will not secure a high seed in the tourney, but they are still virtually a lock to make the tourney as an at-large.

4 Baylor 23-5 (Prev: 2)- The late game collapse against Kansas St. and the blowout losses against Kansas and Missouri pushes Baylor down 2 lines.
13 VCU 23-6 (Prev: 14)- The committee will have to be tempted to select VCU again this year after their amazing run in last year's tourney. Plus, the Colonial now looks like a multi-bid league./ UCF 19-7

5 Florida St. 19-7 (Prev: 8)- They have won 10 of 11 now, but they have difficult games remaining against Duke, Miami, and UVA.
12 Arizona 19-9 (Prev: Out)

3 Georgetown 20-5- The Hoyas quietly continue to rack up wins as other 3 seed contenders flounder.
14 GMason 23-6 (Prev: Out)

6 Vandy 19-8 (Prev: 4)- A win over either Kentucky or Florida would put them back in position for the 4/5 seeds.
11 Miami (Fl.) 16-9 (Prev: Out)- Like NC St., the Canes benefit from a lack of quality "bubble" teams, and the fact that they have a winning record in a respectable conference.

7 UVA 20-6 (Prev: 6)
10 BYU 23-6 (Prev: 12)

2 Michigan St. 22-5- The 10 point win at Ohio St. all but guarantees them of at least a 2 seed barring a complete collapse.
15 Nevada 22-5 (Prev: 15)

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Angry Rant: ESPN is no Longer a Sports Network

by John Huffstetler

ESPN has now firmly crossed the line from once pioneering sports network to trashy entertainment television. Hour after hour of coverage on their many networks is dedicated to fake, manufactured arguments between, quite frankly, unenlightened sports "experts." Skip Bayless is the king of these fake arguments, in which he takes a stand on a currently popular topic just for the sake of arguing. There is no thought or analysis involved, rather just screaming between two "talking heads" anxious to secure their next paycheck. Here is an example of one "argument" between Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith on who is better: Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum (an obviously terrible and pointless debate).

Outside of live sports and truly interesting documentaries (thanks, Bill Simmons), the programming is purely fluff to fill time on their massive conglomerate of networks. The once proud SportsCenter program is now a televised Twitter feed, attempting to capitalize on the current flavor of the month. Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin are two recent examples of players who have become dramatically over-covered on SportsCenter not based on their on-field performance, but other factors (Race and Religion). Shown to the left is a hilarious screen-capture of SportsCenter where every upcoming story was about Jeremy Lin. Granted, both players have been successful at times on the field, but dozens of players have had great seasons in the NFL and NBA without receiving close to the same fanfare. Showing highlights of great dunks over actual analysis of the factors that determined victory is now commonplace.

Here is an article by on how ESPN profited from the recent Blake Griffin dunk over Kendrick Perkins. ESPN proudly announced on their network the following day that they showed the Griffin dunk over 300 times during the last 24 hours. WHY ARE YOU PROUD OF THAT!! Do some analysis of something else! Show another play! I jokingly tweeted this after I watched the dunk live that night:

Blake Griffin trending on Twitter after the dunk. Not surprising. 10 segments on Sportscenter will be on that dunk now.
12:14 AM - 31 Jan 12 via web

The fact that they not only showed the dunk that many times but are also proud of showing it over 300 times demonstrates a major flaw in what they believe is sports broadcasting.

The ESPN website deserves blame as well. The front page is a bastion for terrible word puns and over-hyping of topics. The website has attempted to capitalize on the recent Jeremy Lin fervor using their trademark awful headlines. One recent terrible attempt at a pun came when a Jeremy Lin caption read "Chink in the Armor," an obvious racist reference to his Asian heritage. Yahoo Sports' Kelly Dwyer wrote a great piece on this caption and how troubling it was. Other less racist headlines deserve criticism as well, however, because they are just so hacky. Nobody finds them interesting, yet ESPN continues to litter their website with awful headlines. Darvish Yu signs with the Texas Rangers and ESPN's caption is "Yu Better Believe It," The Saints win the Super Bowl a few years ago and ESPN writes, "Party Gras!" Oh, I get it, because the Saints are from New Orleans. That's so funny!

We as a society are to blame. If no one watched this trash, they would be forced to change. There are other networks, such as the newly formed NBC/Comcast conglomerate, attempting to put together sports programming for the intelligent fan. The newly renamed NBC sports network, which I encourage everyone to watch, provides insightful, relevant anaylses on the sports they cover. If ESPN keeps getting viewers and readers, nothing will change. Enjoy your repeated highlights, pointless arguments, and terrible puns, America.

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Is Peyton Manning becoming a pain in the neck for the Indianapolis Colts

by Ian Palmer
Courtesy of

Recent reports from say that quarterback Peyton Manning has been holding back when it comes to revealing his neck surgeries. NFL sources were cited on Feb. 15 as saying that Manning went through four medical surgeries/procedures on his injured neck over the past two years, not the three he has admitted to.

His most recent operation took place on Sept. 9 last year when doctors performed neck fusion surgery on him. He also underwent an operation in May to fix a bulging disk and now it’s believed that he had another procedure between those two, but the exact date isn’t known. Manning missed the entire NFL season for the Indianapolis Colts due to his condition, but he claims he’ll be ready to play when the 2012 season kicks off. However, the Colts aren’t completely convinced that he’ll be healthy.

The source said all four of Manning’s surgeries were performed on the right side of the player’s neck and the doctor who repaired his disk problem also took care of the previously unknown procedure in Chicago. Manning and his agent Tom Condon wouldn’t comment on the reports of a fourth surgery. It could be because he doesn’t want to scare the Colts away since he’s due for a $28 million bonus from the club by March 8.

The Colts need to protect themselves at the position just in case Manning can’t play anymore and will likely draft a quarterback in the first round of the college draft. Even if Manning is healthy enough to give it a go in the fall, he’ll be 36 years old and in the twilight of his career. The Colts could still release him and save themselves the $28 million bonus, making Manning a free agent.

It’s a big decision to make and they’re running out of time. Any money saved could be used for the team’s salary cap, allowing them to sign some decent free agents in the off-season. This would enable them to pick up a veteran quarterback to fill in until a draft pick learned the ropes and took over the starter’s role.

Manning will meet with Jim Irsay (shown to the right), the Colts’ owner, in the near future to see if they can come to some sort of mutual agreement about the player’s future with the football club. Irsay said on Feb. 14 that it’s up to Manning to decide what he wants to do. He added that he’d like to have Manning back in the lineup if he wants to come back. Irsay said he hopes Manning understands there could be a physical risk if he returns to top-level football and he should consider his long-term health before making a decision.

Manning’s under contract, but Irsay said if he returns to the team the deal can be restructured, which roughly translates into Manning having to take a cut in pay. The Colts believe Manning will need a further medical procedure to rectify his condition since he may have developed some bone spurs in his neck following the fusion surgery.