Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More College Football Surprises...

After another couple weeks, it should be no surprise that there were so many unexpected events--this season has been like that all along.

Missouri and Kansas took care of business the week before their big showdown, which set up a game that would cement the winner front-runner status for a spot in the National Championship Game. Oklahoma, who will face Missouri in the Big XII Championship, did not.

Of course, neither did LSU, who had the clearest path, or Arizona State, who had a very solid chance to capitalize on that opportunity.

Thus, the seven are down to three. Missouri will have a spot if they beat Oklahoma--that much is certain. The other spot is less clear; currently, West Virginia leads Ohio State, but they still have a game against Pitt. This shouldn't be a difficult contest, but even a win will drag down their schedule strength in the formulas, and an unimpressive win may give some voters second thoughts. (However, Oklahoma will probably beat Missouri again, rendering the "beauty pageant" irrelevant.)

As teams now stand, the BCS automatic qualifiers are West Virginia (Big East) and Ohio State (Big Ten). The leaders from the other affiliated conferences are currently Missouri (which faces Oklahoma in the Big XII Championship), Virginia Tech (which faces Boston College in the ACC Championship), LSU (which faces Tennessee in the SEC Championship), and USC (which faces UCLA in their cross-town rivalry game; a loss would open a door for Arizona State... unless Arizona State also loses, which would cause the conference to have four teams with three losses tied for the crown). Georgia and Hawai'i will have at-large bids secured if they remain at (or above) their current rankings; a non-conference-champion ranked in the top four qualifies automatically, and a conference champion from outsider conference qualifies automatically at 12th place. The remaining eligible teams for the two final spots are Kansas or Oklahoma, Boston College, and Arizona State.

Missouri and West Virginia would play for the national championship. The Rose Bowl would be USC and Ohio State. LSU would go to the Sugar Bowl, and Virginia Tech to the Orange Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl would pick Kansas to replace Missouri, the Big XII Champion. The Orange Bowl would be all too pleased to match Georgia with Virginia Tech. The Fiesta Bowl would then select Arizona State, rather than Boston College, to play Kansas. This would leave the Sugar Bowl with LSU and Hawai'i.

However, there are games yet to be played. As I see it, the only current front-runner to lose is Missouri. Thus, the bowls will be reordered something like this:
Championship: West Virginia and Ohio State
Rose: USC and Georgia (replacing Big Ten Champion)
Orange: Virginia Tech and Missouri
Fiesta: Oklahoma and Arizona State
Sugar: LSU and Hawai'i

The wrench in the works would be if Illinois rises high enough to be eligible, and the Rose Bowl wants a traditional-looking matchup of USC-Illinois. This would please the Orange Bowl, which could pick up Georgia, but infuriate the Big XII, as the Fiesta Bowl would not be able to pick a second team from their conference, and select Arizona State, once again leaving Hawai'i in the Sugar Bowl. With possibly three teams in the top ten, the conference could be left with only one in a BCS Bowl. The other possibility is back-room pressure that squeezes Arizona State out of the Fiesta in favor of Hawai'i; but make no mistake, it's looking like someone is going to get the shaft: either the Rose Bowl won't get a Big Ten team, the Big XII won't get a second team in, or the Fiesta Bowl won't get what it wants.

Friday, November 16, 2007

College Football

Well, now that Oregon has gone down, the national championship game is much easier to project: the champion of the Big 12 (Kansas, Oklahoma, or Missouri) will be in, unless they lose a game to someone else (Missouri @ Kansas State, Kansas hosting Iowa State, and Oklahoma @ Texas Tech or hosting Ok. State). If that happens to the team that ends up winning the championship, that could open an extra spot for someone else. The other spot will be LSU's, unless they lose @ Arkansas, or hosting Mississippi, two easy games, or in the SEC Championship, probably against Tennessee or Georgia.

If LSU does lose, though, or the eventual Big 12 champion loses a game it shouldn't beforehand, then there is a chance for West Virginia, Ohio State, or Arizona State, but it's still unclear about who would be the top choice of that group, as they are very closely packed right now. Arizona State would seem to have the advantage; their remaining games are against USC and Arizona, two solid opponents that would bolster strength of schedule and look impressive to pollsters. (If they win, of course.) Ohio State and West Virginia actually face teams of similar difficulty, Ohio State against Michigan, and West Virginia facing Cincinnati and Connecticut, along with an easier game against Pittsburgh. Unfortunately for Ohio State and West Virginia, winning their remaining games are likely to push each of their opponents out of the top 25. West Virginia may be left without any wins over ranked opponents, and Ohio State will be left with their best wins being against Wisconsin and Penn State, who will be ranked in the twenties. Additionally, their losses coming against South Florida and Illinois, which are worse losses than that of Arizona State to Oregon.

Friday, November 02, 2007


Congratulations to the Spurs on getting their rings for last season. There may have been a few people that were surprised at the Spurs winning out, but those people are the ones that don't understand basketball very well...

There was really only one upset during the playoffs: Golden State defeating Dallas.* All other series either had teams of similar skill levels, or ended with the better team being victorious. The same thing seems likely to happen again this season--San Antonio, Dallas, and Phoenix were superior to every other team in the league. Then, there was a second tier of teams: Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Utah, and Houston. Then, there's everyone else. (Golden State exceeded expectations.) This coming season, Boston will likely join the second tier, becoming a popular pick to even reach the Finals, but the end results should look essentially the same. Anybody else that manages to reach the playoffs will almost certainly lose in the first round.

And yet, we will still hold a full 82-game season anyway. The regular season is a lot more tolerable if I instead think of it as the "NBA Qualifying Round"; similar to how individual continental federations hold competitions in the run up to the World Cup. The best teams will generally win during the season, but like Argentina or Brazil, sometimes a team like San Antonio will coast for weeks at a time, knowing that each individual game doesn't matter too much. Of course, there is an incentive to finish first--not only does it provide home-court advantage in each round of the playoffs, but it means that a team can dodge the tough 2v3 matchup in the second round, which proved fatal for Detroit last year--Cleveland faced a much easier opponent (New Jersey) than Chicago and Detroit, which played each other. The same thing could have happened in the West, had Dallas not been the unfortunate team to have been upset.

In keeping with that pattern, look for San Antonio** to dispatch Boston in five next June.

*In fact, with only one other exception, each time a team played an inferior opponent, the series lasted five games or less. In every match of relatively even teams, the series lasted no fewer than six games.

**Or Dallas. Really, the bigger match will be San Antonio over Dallas in seven in the Western Conference Finals.

I've been gone a while, to nobody's surprise...

I've never been good at keeping a journal. Not totally sure why, but there it is.