Tag:Notre Dame
Posted on: September 16, 2011 6:50 pm
 

Schmolik 14 College Conference Realignment

Hello college football/basketball fans!

This is a proposal for realigning conferences based partially on the projected moves of Texas A&M to the SEC and the Oklahoma schools to the Pac-"12".

Pac-12: Add Oklahoma and Oklahoma State
SEC: Add Texas A&M and West Virginia
Big 12: Add Pittsburgh and Notre Dame
ACC: Add Syracuse and Connecticut

All of the remaining Big 12 and Big East schools merge into a new "Big Mess" conference.

South: Baylor, Central Florida, Houston, South Florida, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech
North: Cincinnati, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville, Missouri, Rutgers

For a more detailed look: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/
852790-college-conference-realignme
nt-schmolik-14-proposal
Posted on: March 15, 2011 4:29 pm
Edited on: March 15, 2011 5:34 pm
 

2011 Schmolik Bracket Analysis

Hello, college basketball fans!

Now there are two annual traditions every March in terms of the NCAA Tournament.

First I post my bracket before the tournament as to who I think and/or deserve to make the NCAA Tournament.

My second annual tradition is breaking down the actual bracket and picking who will win. I like to call it "Schmolik Bracket Analysis"! 

SOUTHWEST REGIONAL

An annual tradition if mine during Schmolik Bracket Analysis is to begin with the regional my alma mater and beloved Illinois Fighting Illini are in (assuming they are in). This year, that is the Southwest Regional.

The season for Illinois began with high expectations and a big win over North Carolina but Illinois slumped. After not being in the tournament last year, it's great just to be in the tournament. Illinois will try to win its first game since 2006.

They will face a familiar face in UNLV coach Lon Kruger. Younger Illini fans don't remember but Kruger was Illinois's coach before he left for the NBA, failed (just like John Calipari and Rick Pitino) and landed at UNLV. If Illinois wins, they will play another former Illini coach in Bill Self (assuming Kansas doesn't become the first No. 1 seed ever to lose to a No. 16).

Recently, Illinois hasn't beaten anyone really good (Iowa and Indiana don't count). I would rather play UNLV than some Big East team (we had an 11 out of 68 chance in drawing one so we got lucky!) but I just don't have much faith in them.

Besides, even if Illinois wins, how much of a chance do we have against Kansas anyway? Then again, if I had to play one of the No. 1 seeds in the "third" round, I would want Kansas. Kansas as a No. 1 seed has lost in the "second" round several times, including last season.

Speaking of Kansas, before Self was Illinois's coach he was Tulsa's coach (I really am old!) So it is a homecoming of sorts for Self in the "second and third" round games. Now Self has not fared too well in the state of Oklahoma in the NCAA Tournament. The last two times Kansas played in Oklahoma were 2005 (1st round loss to No. 14 seed Bucknell) and last year (2nd round loss to No. 9 Northern Iowa). But those two games were in Oklahoma City, not Tulsa.

Vanderbilt is trying to buck a recent trend. They lost their last two NCAA Tournament games as No. 4 seeds to No. 13's. This year, Vanderbilt plays Atlantic 10 champion Richmond, who I think is underseeded as a No. 12. If you are looking for a 5-12 upset to pick, I think this is a good one. 

In the bottom half of the Southwest, we have my favorite nickname in recent memory, the St. Peter's Peacocks! When's the last time there were Peacocks in the NCAA's? They are catching Purdue at a good time with Purdue having lost their last two games but I hope Purdue shows up and defends the Big Ten Conference honor. The last thing I want is Purdue losing their first game (actually the worst would be Ohio State losing their first game!)

This year introduces "play in" games for at large teams. We know the chances of a No. 16 play in game winner beating a No. 1 seed is slim and none. But a No. 11 seed beating a No. 6 is not out of the realm of possibility.

Will the play in game tire out the winner? Does No. 6 seed Georgetown have an advantage or a disadvantage over the other No. 6 seeds? This is another reason I hate the 68 team format. The play in game among No. 16 seeds doesn't really affect the tournament that much but this could disturb the competitive balance in the NCAA's one way or the other.

This season, I don't think either USC or VCU belongs in the Tournament so I hope Georgetown destroys whoever they play and redeem themselves for last year's debacle vs. Ohio. Georgetown's Chris Wright has been cleared to play. The Hoyas certainly didn't play well in his absence. If Georgetown plays like they did earlier this season, Purdue (and the rest of the bottom half of the bracket) are in trouble.

In the NCAA Tournament this year, a lot of eyes will be on the Big East. Were their 11 bids deserved (I think they were regardless of the outcome)? But will all that competition during the regular season and at Madison Square Garden help the schools in the tournament?

Meanwhile, you have Kansas playing in the Big 12 Conference. I think they are overrated. They've only beaten one team that is top four seed in the tournament, a win over a slumping Texas in Kansas City (might as well been in Lawrence). I am picking Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals (they beat Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, and Syracuse this year) to "upset" the Jayhawks.

I'm going all Big East in the regional final. I like a rematch of the semifinal between Notre Dame and Louisville and for Ben Hansbrough to be cutting the nets down. Notre Dame will advance to its first Final Four since 1978.

Regional Final: Notre Dame over Louisville

SOUTHEAST REGIONAL

I think this is the weakest regional of them all. We have by far the weakest No. 2 seed, a Brandon Davies less BYU as a No. 3 seed, and a No. 4 seed Wisconsin that couldn't break 40 against Penn State.

This regional is full of sleepers. We have perennial bracket busters in Gonzaga and Butler along with Utah State and Old Dominion. I don't know if you can call Michigan State a sleeper but we all know Tom Izzo knows how to coach in the NCAA Tournament.

I don't like seeing mid majors meet in the first game. To me it's like when Boise State and TCU met in the Fiesta Bowl. You want to see David vs. Goliath, not David vs. David. I will say that whoever wins between Butler and Old Dominion is going to give Pitt quite a battle in the "third" round.

This is the 13th year in a row Gonzaga made the NCAA Tournament. They are playing St. John's, a team that last made the tournament in 2002. This looks like an upset to me if you can call it an upset. I also like Utah State to win in another 5-12 upset over a Kansas State team that lost three times to Colorado.

The big mystery of the Southeast is BYU. They haven't played too many games without Brandon Davies but they did lose badly to New Mexico at home and lost to a San Diego State team they swept in the regular season.

BYU was dealt a very hard potential second game in Gonzaga. Gonzaga is back in the role of underdog. The No. 11 seed is Gonzaga's lowest since 2001. It's going to be a hard game for BYU to win. If the Cougars and Bulldogs don't meet this year, expect to see them twice next year in the WCC.

I think Gonzaga has a great chance to make the Sweet 16 and a potential Sweet 16 game vs. Florida. The two met in the Sweet 16 in 1999 when a late basket by Gonzaga prompted Gus Johnson to call "The Slipper Still Fits!". 

Of course, Florida will have its own problem with a possible second game with Michigan State. Many times the Spartans exceed expectations (last year's Final Four run was as a No. 5 seed). Florida is playing in Tampa. However, Florida played Michigan State in Tampa in 2003 and the Spartans pulled off an upset of the No. 2 (and overseeded) Gators. Of course, since then Florida and Billy Donovan has won two national championships.

If you asked me the two best coaches in college basketball who have never made the Final Four, I would say Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon and Gonzaga's Mark Few. I hope one of them finally makes it there this year.

In a conference with national champion winning coaches Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, and Rick Pitino, Dixon is often overlooked. Yet, in his eight seasons at Pittsburgh Dixon's team has won ten or more Big East games each season. Pitt won two Big East regular season championships and one Big East Tournament in that span. Making the Final Four will hopefully give Dixon the respect he deserves.

Pittsburgh's road to the Final Four looks very winnable although Old Dominion or Butler will give them fits. The Panthers should be favored in every game. If they play like they have all season, they will be heading to Houston.

Final Pick: Pittsburgh over Florida.

WEST REGIONAL

I have graduated from three schools, Illinois, Penn State, and Temple. Since I graduated from Temple, this is the first year all three schools made the NCAA Tournament in the same year.

Of course Penn State and Temple play their first game against each other. Well, I know one of my schools is going to win. Penn State's last tournament appearance was 2001. They stunned North Carolina to make the Sweet 16 and lost in the Sweet 16 to Temple.

Fran Dunphy has led Temple to the last three NCAA Tournaments but they lost in the first round each year (including last year's upset at the hands of Cornell). For Penn State, making the NCAA's is a victory already so I want to see Temple and Dunphy finally win one.

The winner of the Pennsylvania clash (from Tucson, Arizona of all places) is expected to play San Diego State in the next round. It's a winnable game for either school and had they played closer to Pennsylvania I probably would pick the upset. It's hard for teams from the East Coast to go out west and win against West Coast teams.

There are a couple of dangerous sleepers teams in this regional.

One of them is the Golden Grizzlies of Oakland. Oakland has played seven NCAA Tournament teams this year (including a win over Tennessee in Knoxville) and will not be intimidated by the Longhorns. Should Texas win, they could meet Arizona in a great "third" round matchup. Arizona and Memphis will pit two coaches making their first NCAA appearance for perennial NCAA elite programs.

Don’t forget about Bucknell. The Bison stunned Kansas in the 2005 NCAA Tournament (and won a game in 2006 as well).  They face a talented but likely exhausted Connecticut Huskies team (they won five games in five days to win the Big East Tournament).

Should UConn advance as expected, their next opponent could very well be Big East rival Cincinnati. It seems weird to see two teams from the same conference meeting this early in the tournament but it's hard to spread out 11 conference opponents. I personally think conference foes shouldn't meet until the Sweet 16 and not be allowed to meet in the opening weekend.

At the top half is a Duke. Duke will open in Charlotte, NC. If they advance as expected, they will make a rare trip to the West Coast. Assuming Duke beats Hampton (no No. 16 seed has ever beaten a No. 1), Michigan or Tennessee would be a road block in the Blue Devils' way. Michigan is on a roll now and Tennessee is slumping but I would not count Bruce Pearl out this time of year. If it is Duke vs. Michigan, that will be a rematch of the 1992 NCAA Championship (the Fab Five vs. Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, and Grant Hill).

In the Sweet 16, normally UConn vs. San Diego State is an easy call. But I'm wondering if the Huskies are tired or have peaked and of course a west coast trip to face a nearby school (the game would be in Anaheim) is never good (although UConn has made the Final Four out of the West Regional three times).

I would like to see a Duke/Connecticut regional final. I do not like Duke that much and UConn is Duke's biggest nemesis in the NCAA Tournament. But I have a feeling San Diego State will advance and will lose to Duke in the final. I told you about Duke vs. Michigan in 1992. That team was coached by current San Diego State's head coach Steve Fisher.

Final Pick: Duke over San Diego State.

EAST REGIONAL

If before the bracket was announced I said I was picking Ohio State, North Carolina, Syracuse, and Kentucky to make the Final Four, you would think they were good picks.

Well, I can't pick those four. They are all in the East Regional, making it my pick for the toughest regional this year. Only one (possibly none) of them will be in the Final Four. I like all four of these programs so I should be happy with whoever advances unless we have some lower seed make it.

Back in the NCAA's is 2006 Final Four surprise team George Mason. They play a completely struggling Villanova team that lost its last five games including an embarrassing loss to Big East doormat South Florida in the Garden.

Last year, Kentucky and West Virginia met in the East Regional final for the right to advance to the Final Four. This year, they would potentially meet in the opening weekend for a chance to make the Sweet 16. We find in this pod the other play in game for at large teams between Clemson and UAB. The winner will have to fly to Tampa to play its second game.

We could have another third round game between Big East foes if Syracuse wins and Marquette beats Xavier. Don’t count out the Musketeers though as they have made the Sweet 16 the last three years running. Xavier will have their hands full with likely opponent Syracuse to make it four years in a row.

Also playing in Charlotte with Duke will be North Carolina. I’m sure both teams’ fans will come out to cheer against their rivals as well as cheer for their own team this weekend.

If the top four seeds hold, there will be some great games next weekend in Newark between North Carolina and Syracuse and between Ohio State and Kentucky.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see the higher seeded team win every game (best chance of an “upset” would be Xavier over Syracuse).

Final Pick: Ohio State over North Carolina.

FINAL FOUR

So my Final Four picks are Ohio State, Duke, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh. I almost never pick all four No. 1 seeds so Kansas is my pick to get upset. The regional Ohio State has is loaded so it wouldn't surprise me if they lost either.

I think I heard Charles Barkley say on CBS that early round games in the NCAA's are won by players and later round games are won by coaches. Two of these coaches (Mike Brey and Jamie Dixon) will make their first appearance in the Final Four if my picks are all correct. Thad Matta coached Ohio State to the Final Four in 2007.

But if coaching decides it, there is only one choice to win the championship. In the first semifinal, I like Pittsburgh to gain revenge over Notre Dame. You can't always count on freshmen in the tournament, so I'll take Duke. Unfortunately for those who don't like Duke, I think it will be a repeat.

Championship Pick: Duke over Pittsburgh

 

Posted on: March 11, 2011 3:44 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 7:30 pm
 

Race for #1 Seeds

Hello, college basketball fans!

Before I begin, I'm starting to wonder about this format where almost every conference tournament has the No. 1 seed playing first on quarterfinal day.

Pittsburgh, Conference USA regular season champion UAB, and Atlantic 10 regular season champion all lost, Ohio State, North Carolina, Kansas, Mountain West regular season champion BYU, and Missouri Valley regular season champion Missouri State survived huge scares. Is it a disadvantage for top seeds to be the first to play in the day? Sure seems like it this season.

This is my personal opinion as to who is in the race for the No. 1 seeds and what has to happen:

Teams that don't need to win their tournament to get a No. 1 seed:

Ohio State - The Buckeyes didn't play like a No. 1 seed today for sure, but their body of work looks like they have done enough now to warrant a place on the top line even with a loss tomorrow. For sure, the Buckeyes will either win the crown or lose to a team that is going to the NCAA's (if Michigan or Illinois beat them, for sure they will make the field and Michigan State or Penn State can only meet Ohio State in the final).

Since there is no Midwest Regional this year, Ohio State is shooting for the East Regional in Newark and should get priority at this point over potential challengers from the ACC (Duke or North Carolina) or the Big East (Notre Dame).

Kansas - I think Kansas could be the most overrated team in college basketball. Consider that the only top level team in the Big 12 Conference is Texas and Kansas couldn't even beat Texas in Lawrence this year. What is Kansas's best conference win, a Kansas State team that lost to Colorado three times or a Texas A&M team that couldn't even beat Baylor?

If Kansas blows it tonight against Colorado, I think they could lose their No. 1 seed and I would probably move Pittsburgh ahead of them. Kansas would probably lose about seven games in the Big East this year.

If Kansas doesn't win the Big 12 Championship (in Kansas City by the way), I would put Notre Dame, the ACC Champion, and even BYU over them (all of them would have to win though). Consider this, the best team that Kansas could lose to is Texas. Texas lost at home to Connecticut, the team that beat Pittsburgh in the Big East.

Teams that control their own destiny for No. 1 seeds:

Notre Dame - They finished second in the Big East (a conference that is projected to send 11 teams into the NCAA Tournament and is unarguably the best and most competitive conference in college basketball), are the highest seed remaining, and have a win at regular season champ Pittsburgh. I think they are a slam dunk No. 1 if they win out (they will have to beat Louisville and either Connecticut or Syracuse to do so).

Duke or North Carolina - I think either team is in line fro a No. 1 seed if they win the ACC Tournament. It will be hard for either to beat out Ohio State for the top seed in the East and if Notre Dame wins the Big East, I think the winner (if it's one of the two) will likely have to go out West.

Teams that can get a No. 1 seed with help:

BYU - I think their home loss to New Mexico hurt their chances for a No. 1 seed. Assuming BYU wins tonight (if they don't win, BYU isn't getting a No. 1 seed anyway), they will have lost a home game to a team that won't even make the NCAA Tournament. No other No. 1 seed candidate has done so. I would even rank Pittsburgh over BYU even if BYU wins the MWC Tournament. I think they would need Notre Dame to lose and an upset winner (not Duke or North Carolina) in the ACC to have a chance. If the Cougars played like they did vs. TCU, they won't have to worry about contending for a No. 1 seed.

Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh clearly deserves a No. 1 seed and if the Selection Committee decides to reward regular season champions over tournament champions (Notre Dame and/or Duke), they may still be able to get a top seed. They most likely can kiss the East Regional No. 1 goodbye though and they have to go out west to be a No. 1 seed.

Longshots:

Purdue, Syracuse, Texas, San Diego State. These teams need a lot of help. Purdue shot themselves in the foot with a loss at Iowa to end the regular season and I don't think any of the others did enough before their tournament to warrant a No. 1 seed even if they win their conference tournament.

Predictions:

East: Ohio State (Most likely overall No. 1 seed)

Southwest: Kansas

Southeast: Duke - Historically Duke has done better in the ACC Tournament (four championships in six years) and today's performance has me thinking Roy Williams is indifferent towards winning the tournament even though it likely will get them a No. 1 seed. Remember that the last two North Carolina teams that won the national championship lost in the ACC semifinals.

West: Pittsburgh - Notre Dame is a great team but the Big East is too competitive and favorites have a tough time at Madison Square Garden (the favorite this year already lost). Also keep in mind the Fighting Irish have never even played in the Big East final let alone won it.

I think Ohio State will be hard to move from the East. No one else wants to go to the Southwest so assuming Kansas is a No. 1 you have to like their chances to be there. I think Notre Dame has priority over either Duke or North Carolina for the race for the Southeast Regional (to avoid going out West).

Posted on: March 7, 2011 3:06 pm
 

Schmolik 64 Update (3/7/11) - Championship Week!

Hello, college basketball fans!

Welcome to the March 7, 2011 update of the Schmolik 64.

This is the update for Championship Week so for the first time I will include all 64 teams. For one bid conferences, I will list the highest seed remaining in the conference. Keep in mind these seeds will go up or down depending on who wins at the end. Expect the final Schmolik 64 Sunday after the conclusion of the Big Ten Tournament.

Dates:

Opening Weekend: Thur/Sat March 17-19, Fri/Sun March 18-20

Regionals: Thur/Sat March 24-26, Fri/Sun March 25-27

* Clinched Automatic Bid

 

EAST REGIONAL (Newark, NJ - Fri/Sun)

Cleveland, OH (Fri/Sun)

(1) Ohio State (29-2) vs. (16) First Four: Bethune Cookman / MEAC (16-11) vs. McNeese State / Southland (15-10)

(8) UCLA (22-9) vs. (9) Tennessee (18-13)

Washington, DC (Thur/Sat)

(5) Texas A&M (22-7) vs. (12) Missouri State (25-8)

(4) Syracuse (25-6) vs. (13) First Four: Memphis (22-9) vs. Virginia Tech (19-10)

Washington, DC (Thur/Sat)

(6) Temple (24-6) vs. (11) Michigan (18-12)

(3) Louisville (23-8) vs. (14) Iona / MAAC (22-10)

Charlotte, NC (Fri/Sun)

(7) Connecticut (21-9) vs. (10) Butler (21-9)

(2) North Carolina (24-6) vs. (15) LIU-Brooklyn / Northeast (26-5)

 

WEST REGIONAL (Anaheim, CA - Thur/Sat)

Chicago, IL (Fri/Sun)

(1) Notre Dame (25-5) vs. (16) Boston University / America East (20-13)

(8) George Mason (26-6) vs. (9) Missouri (21-9)

Denver, CO (Thur/Sat)

(5) Arizona (25-6) vs. (12) Richmond (24-7)

(4) Wisconsin (23-7) vs. (13) Oakland / Summit (22-9)

Tulsa, OK (Fri/Sun)

(6) Georgetown (21-9) vs. (11) St. Mary's (22-7)

(3) Texas (25-6) vs. (14) Morehead State* / Ohio Valley (22-9)

Denver, CO (Thur/Sat)

(7) Vanderbilt (21-9) vs. (10) Illinois (19-12)

(2) Brigham Young (27-3) vs. (15) Long Beach State / Big West (18-10)

 

SOUTHEAST REGIONAL (New Orleans, LA - Thur/Sat)

Cleveland, OH (Fri/Sun)

(1) Pittsburgh (27-4) vs. (16) First Four: Middle Tennessee State / Sun Belt (15-15) vs. Texas Southern / SWAC (18-11)

(8) UNLV (23-7) vs. (9) Florida State (21-9)

Tucson, AZ (Thur/Sat)

(5) Kansas State (21-9) vs. (12) Washington (20-10)

(4) Kentucky (22-8) vs. (13) Indiana State * / Missouri Valley (19-13)

Chicago, IL (Fri/Sun)

(6) Cincinnati (24-7) vs. (11) Harvard / Ivy (21-5)

(3) Purdue (25-6) vs. (14) Kent State / MAC (20-10)

Charlotte, NC (Fri/Sun)

(7) Villanova (21-10) vs. (10) Georgia (20-10)

(2) Duke (27-4) vs. (15) Bucknell / Patriot (24-8)

 

SOUTHWEST REGIONAL (San Antonio, TX -  Fri/Sun)

Tulsa, OK (Fri/Sun)

(1) Kansas (29-2) vs. (16) UNC Asheville * / Big South (16-13)

(8) Old Dominion (26-6) vs. (9) UAB (22-7)

Tampa, FL (Thur/Sat)

(5) Xavier (24-6) vs. (12) First Four: Clemson (20-10) vs. Penn State (16-13)

(4) St. John's (20-10) vs. (13) Belmont * / Atlantic Sun (30-4)

Tampa, FL (Thur/Sat)

(6) West Virginia (20-10) vs. (11) Michigan State (16-13)

(3) Florida (24-6) vs. (14) College of Charleston / Southern (24-9)

Tucson, AZ (Thur/Sat)

(7) Utah State (27-3) vs. (10) Boston College (19-11)

(2) San Diego State (27-2) vs. (15) Northern Colorado / Big Sky (17-10)

 
By Seed (East/Southeast/Southwest/West)

1. Ohio State, Pittsburgh. Kansas, Notre Dame
2. North Carolina, Duke, San Diego State, BYU
3. Louisville, Purdue, Florida, Texas
4. Syracuse, Kentucky, St. John's, Wisconsin
5. Texas A&M, Kansas State, Xavier, Arizona
6. Temple, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Georgetown
7. Connecticut, Villanova, Utah State, Vanderbilt
8. UCLA, UNLV, Old Dominion, George Mason
9. Tennessee, Florida State, UAB, Missouri
10. Butler, Georgia, Boston College, Illinois
11. Michigan, Harvard, Michigan State, St. Mary's
12. Missouri State, Washington, Clemson/Penn State, Richmond
13. Virgina Tech/Memphis, Indiana State*, Belmont*, Oakland
14. Iona, Kent State, Coll. of Charleston, Morehead State*
15. LIU-Brooklyn, Bucknell, Northern Colorado, Long Beach State
16. Bethune Cookman/McNeese State, Midd Tenn State/Texas Southern, UNC Asheville*, Boston University

RPI Numbers according to CBS Sports RPI:

Lowest RPI at large berth: Virginia Tech (63)

Lowest RPI at large berth, non First Four: Michigan (56)

Highest RPI not selected: Cleveland State (41)

RPI in top 50 not selected: Cleveland State (41), Colorado State (43), Virginia Commonwealth (48), Marshall (49)

RPI below 50 at large berths, non First Four: Richmond (55), Michigan (56)

First Four: Memphis (38), Penn State (54), Clemson (59), Virginia Tech (63)

 

Bids By Conference:

Big East (10)

Big Ten (7)

ACC (6)

Big 12 (5)

SEC (5)

Pac-10 (3)

MWC (3)

A-10 (3)

Colonial (2)

C-USA (2)

MVC (2)

One Team (for now): (20)

No. 1 Seed Ranks: No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 Pittsburgh, No. 3 Kansas, No. 4 Notre Dame (East vs. West and Southeast vs. Southwest in Final Four)

Compare my brackets to CBS Sports Bracketology and others at the Bracket Project's Bracket Matrix.

Remember to comment! If you think a team or teams that are out should be in or vice versa, let me hear from you!

Posted on: April 23, 2010 6:52 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2010 6:27 am
 

Schmolik's Dream Big 10 Expansion

Hello, college basketball fans!

A big topic in the media these past few months has been the expansion of the Big 10 teams. Those of you who know me know I am an alum and huge fan of Illinois. I was at the 2005 game in Chicago when my Illini made the improbable comeback to beat Arizona in the Elite Eight to make the Final Four. In addition, I have a graduate degree from another Big 10 school. Penn State. So of course I am rooting for Big 10 expansion. While I may have a lot of preferred teams I also am realistic. While my favorite college sport of course is basketball, I do know football also counts, money also counts, and academics also counts. That being said, my dream expansion I feel is very reasonable on the other counts and would make the Big 10 arguably if not unarguably the best basketball conference in America.

My proposed expansion: Add Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Connecticut.

Just see what happens to Big 10 basketball based upon NCAA tournament performance since 2000:

Current conference setups:

Big 10 as is:
92 wins, 22 Sweet 16, 9 Final Fours, 1 Championship (MSU 2000)

Big East as is:
115 wins, 33 Sweet 16, 8 Final Fours, 2 Championships (Syracuse 2003, UConn 2004)

ACC:
101 wins, 22 Sweet 16, 10 Final Fours, 5 Championships (Duke 2001 and 2010, North Carolina 2005 and 2009, Maryland 2002)

My proposal with Syracuse, Pitt, and UConn moving to the Big 10:

Pitt, Syracuse, and UConn: 49 wins, 15 Sweet 16's, 3 Final Fours, 2 Championships

Big 10 with the Big 3:
141 wins, 37 Sweet 16's, 12 Final Fours, 3 Championships

Big East without the Big 3:
66 wins, 18 Sweet 16's, 5 Final Fours, No Championships 

Not only would the new Big 10 clearly be better than the new Big East, the new Big 10 would rival the ACC (they would lead in every category except national championships, which of course is really the most important category).

Big 10 with the Big 3:
141 wins, 37 Sweet 16's, 12 Final Fours, 3 Championships

ACC:
101 wins, 22 Sweet 16, 10 Final Fours, 5 Championships (Duke 2001 and 2010, North Carolina 2005 and 2009, Maryland 2002)

Now of course the three I chose also have football teams. Pitt is a decent Big East football team. UConn is up and coming. Syracuse of course is awful now but they have had success in the past and have been a rivalry of Penn State before Penn State joined the Big 10. In terms of economics, Syracuse and UConn can help bring more fans from the Northeast including the New York market and in UConn's case most of New England into the Big 10. Pitt doesn't really add to the geographical mold but Pittsburgh isn't any slouch in terms of a market and while the Big 10 may have a following in Pittsburgh because of Penn State, they would all but own it if Pittsburgh joined the Big 10 and imagine how big Pitt/PSU and Pitt/OSU football games would be? As for academics, Pitt and Syracuse are AAU members
which is seemed by many to be a strong selling point to Big 10 candidacy. Connecticut is not an AAU member is but is ranked 66th according to US News & World Report magazine academically (Pitt is 56th and Syracuse is 58th). While none of the three is a slam dunk in any area except college basketball, I feel the total package of all three should be qualified candidates for Big 10 expansion.

Now the one team I don't want to see in the Big East that everyone says is a threat to join the Big 10? Rutgers. OK, the last time Rutgers made the NCAA tournament was 1991. Since the NCAA tournament field expanded in 1985, Rutgers is a great 0-2 in the NCAA's over a 26 year span. You can have UConn (2 NC's), Syracuse (1 NC), or Pitt (solid program last decade), or Rutgers. Now Rutgers is much better football school that Syracuse and probably better than UConn (Pitt and Rutgers about even). But basektball is miles ahead at the other three schools than Rutgers. Now of course football drives more tickets but here's why basketball is more important. Strength of schedule means a lot more in college basketball than college football. In college football, if you win seven games it doesn't matter who you play, you're going to a bowl. So what if two of our wins are UConn and Syracuse. They still count. By contrast, the Big 10 was doomed by three lousy RPI killers this season (Penn State, Indiana, and Iowa). We finished 10-8 in the Big 10 but had an RPI of 75, arguably the biggest reason Illinois missed the NCAA's and why Ohio State's RPI was in the 20s. Add Rutgers to that and see what happens. And I can live with a bad basketball team if they have a great football team (Penn State). Rutgers is an awful basketball team and an above average football team. Syracuse is an awful football team but a great basketball team. And I'll take Syracuse basketball over Rutgers football any day of the week. Heck, I'll take Syracuse football over Rutgers basketball any day of the week too. As for media, except for that run in 2006 does anyone in New York care about Rutgers any more than Syracuse or UConn? All three teams are pretty much fish out of water for most of the Big 10. But the one team that has a connection to any of the Eastern schools? Penn State. In the 80's, Penn State and Pitt was a huge in state rivalry. When Syracuse was good, Penn State and Syracuse was a big rivalry as well. Penn State never cared about Rutgers.

As for Rutgers, they should be happy to even be in the Big East. A long time ago, Rutgers and my local boys Temple were in the Big East in football. In the late 90's, both Temple and Rutgers sucked at football but Temple basketball was great with three NCAA Elite Eights between 1988 and 1993 and Rutgers basketball also sucked. Yet when the Big East wanted to grant access to Big East basketball and other sports, they chose Rutgers (and West Virginia, who sucked in basketball back then too). Then we all know Temple was kicked out of the Big East because they sucked at football. Yet Rutgers also sucked (it wasn't until the mid 2000's they got good) and got to stay. I have no love for Rutgers or the Big East. If my scenario takes place, Big East football gets burned to the ground and Rutgers goes with it. I certainly don't want to see Rutgers get saved by the Big 10 and Pitt and/or Syracuse get screwed over.

While my "Big 14" is great, it might be even better. Add Maryland and Notre Dame. In addition to two more good basketball programs, Maryland and Notre Dame are also fine academic institutions (Maryland is AAU), Maryland gives the Big 10 the DC area and I think Notre Dame sells itself. I don't think Maryland would want to leave the ACC to rival with just Penn State. But what if they could rival with Syracuse, Pitt, and UConn as well? They could join a more Northeastern league than the mostly southern ACC. They use to rival with Virginia but now Virginia Tech is Virginia's biggest rival and I don't see much a rivalry between Maryland and Boston College. And Notre Dame would have more reason to join the "Big 14" if the Big East lost three of its biggest basketball teams as well as three football teams. I don't think either Maryland or Notre Dame would join away but might join a better Big 10 (especially with a weakened Big East).

So my lineup (longshots in parentheses):

East: Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Connecticut, (Maryland)
West: Indiana, Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, (Notre Dame)

To me and Big 10 basketball...
Pitt, Syracuse, and UConn to the Big 10? A SLAM DUNK!
Rutgers to the Big 10? AN AIR BALL!
 
 
 
 
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