Tuesday, December 11, 2012

College Basketball 2012 - Field of 68 - December 11, 2012

It is time for my first update to the pre-season Field of 68.  Right now, the Field is an amalgamation of both what has transpired thus far in the season and what might be expected for the remainder.  There is no science right now to my madness, as it is still too early to put any numbers to work in crunching the field.  Currently, the only number I am using is 3, which is the maximum number of losses I am allowing for an at-large team in the Field.

Midwest - Indianapolis, IN
1.    Indiana
16.  Prairie View A&M/Mercer
Dayton, OH
8.    Memphis
9.    California

5.    Creighton
12.  Oklahoma/St. Joseph's
Austin, TX
4.    North Carolina
13.  Davidson

6.    Oklahoma State
11.  Murray State
Kansas City, MO
3.    Missouri
14.  Harvard

7.    Michigan State
10.  Temple
Lexington, KY
2.    Louisville
15.  Norfolk State

East - Washington D.C.
1.    Duke
16.  Stony Brook
Philadelphia, PA
8.    Colorado
9.    Marquette

5.    Minnesota
12.  Ohio
San Jose, CA
4.    Kentucky
13.  Montana

6.    Butler
11.  Oregon
Auburn Hills, MI
3.    Cincinnati
14.  Wyoming/Illinois State

7.    San Diego State
10.  Baylor
Dayton, OH
2.   Ohio State
15.  Lehigh

South - Arlington, TX
1.    Florida
16.  Gardner-Webb/Canisius
Lexington, KY
8.    VCU
9.    Miami, FL

5.    Georgetown
12.  Middle Tennessee State
Salt Lake City, UT
4.    Illinois
13.  South Dakota State

6.    New Mexico
11.  St. Mary's
Austin, TX
3.    NC State
14.  George Mason

7.    Pittsburgh
10.  UCLA
Kansas City, MO
2.    Kansas
15.  Stephen F. Austin

1.    Syracuse
16.  Robert Morris
Philadelphia, PA
8.    Alabama
9.    Kansas State

5.    Gonzaga
12.  Northwestern
Salt Lake City, UT
4.    UNLV
13.  UIC

6.    Notre Dame
11.  Xavier
San Jose, CA
3.    Arizona
14.  Utah State

7.    Wichita State
10.  Maryland
Auburn Hills, MI
2.    Michigan
15.  Pacific

Monday, December 10, 2012

35 Games, 35 Picks with Confidence Points

The Pick is in Bold, The Points are to the left in Bold

20pts Jan. 7 BCS Title ESPN 8:30 p.m. No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0) vs. No. 2 Alabama (12-1)
  7pts Jan. 6 GoDaddy.com ESPN 9 p.m. No. 25 Kent State (11-2) vs. Arkansas State (9-3)
17pts Jan. 5 BBVA Compass ESPN 1 p.m. Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Ole Miss (6-6)
14pts Jan. 4 Cotton FOX 8 p.m. No. 10 Texas A&M (10-2) vs. No. 12 Oklahoma (10-2)
30pts Jan. 3 Fiesta ESPN 8:30 p.m. No. 5 Oregon (11-1) vs. No. 7 Kansas State (11-1)
34pts Jan. 2 Sugar ESPN 8:30 p.m. No. 4 Florida (11-1) vs. No. 22 Louisville (10-2)
19pts Jan. 1 Orange ESPN 8:30 p.m. No. 13 Florida State (11-2) vs. No. 16 N. Illinois (12-1)
  1pt   Jan. 1 Rose ESPN 5 p.m. No. 8 Stanford (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (8-5)
26pts Jan. 1 Capital One ABC 1 p.m. No. 6 Georgia (11-2) vs. No. 23 Nebraska (10-3)
27pts Jan. 1 Outback ESPN 1 p.m. No. 11 South Carolina (10-2) vs. No. 19 Michigan (8-4)
33pts Jan. 1 Heart of Dallas ESPNU Noon Purdue (6-6) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5)
 6 pts Jan. 1 Gator ESPN2 Noon Mississippi State (8-4) vs. No. 21 Northwestern (9-3)
24pts Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A ESPN 7:30 p.m. No. 9 LSU (10-2) vs. No. 14 Clemson (10-2)
18pts Dec. 31 Liberty ESPN 3:30 p.m. Iowa State (6-6) vs. Tulsa (10-3)
21pts Dec. 31 Sun CBS 2 p.m. USC (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (6-7)
29pts Dec. 31 Music City ESPN Noon N.C. State (7-5) vs. Vanderbilt (8-4)
10pts Dec. 29 Buffalo Wild Wings ESPN 10:15 p.m. TCU (7-5) vs. Michigan State (6-6)
13pts Dec. 29 Alamo ESPN 6:45 p.m. Texas (8-4) vs. No. 15 Oregon State (9-3)
28pts Dec. 29 Kraft Fight Hunger ESPN2 4 p.m. Navy (7-4) vs. Arizona State (7-5)
  2pts Dec. 29 Pinstripe ESPN 3:15 p.m. West Virginia (7-5) vs. Syracuse (7-5)
11pts Dec. 29 Armed Forces ESPN 11:45 a.m. Rice (6-6) vs. Air Force (6-6)
23pts Dec. 28 Meineke Car Care ESPN 9 p.m. Minnesota (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
  8pts Dec. 28 Russell Athletic ESPN 5:30 p.m. Rutgers (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)
12pts Dec. 28 Independence ESPN 2 p.m. Ohio (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Monore (8-4)
25pts Dec. 27 Military ESPN 3 p.m. No. 24 San Jose State (10-2) vs. Bowling Green (8-4)
  3pts Dec. 27 Belk ESPN 6:30 p.m. Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Duke (6-6)
  9pts Dec. 27 Holiday ESPN 9:45 p.m. Baylor (7-5) vs. No. 17 UCLA (9-4)
  4pts Dec. 26 Little Caesars Pizza ESPN 7:30 p.m. Central Michigan (6-6) vs. Western Kentucky (7-5)
35pts Dec. 24 Hawaii ESPN 8 p.m. Fresno State (9-3) vs. SMU (6-6)
32pts Dec. 22 Maaco Las Vegas ESPN 3:30 p.m. Boise State (10-2) vs. Washington (7-5)
  5pts Dec. 22 New Orleans ESPN Noon East Carolina (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
16pts Dec. 21 Beef O'Brady's ESPN 7:30 p.m. UCF (9-4) vs. Ball State (9-3)
15pts Dec. 20 Poinsettia ESPN 8 p.m. BYU (7-5) vs. San Diego State (9-3)
31pts Dec. 15 Famous Idaho Potato ESPN 4:30 p.m. No. 18 Utah State (10-2) vs. Toledo (9-3)
22pts Dec. 15 New Mexico ESPN 1 p.m. Nevada (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5)

College Football 2012 - Ranking the Bowls

35.  Little Caesars Pizza Bowl - Western Kentucky Hilltoppers  vs Central Michigan Chippewas - A mediocre Sun Belt team against a mediocre MAC team.  Tune in to see Antonio Andrews and Zurlon Tipton and their combined 3,000 yards rushing.

34.  Armed Forces Bowl - Rice Owls vs Air Force Falcons - One of two bowls pitting 6-6 teams against each other, expect the forward pass to be absent for most of this game.  If you want a player to watch, Rice QB Taylor McHargue is a developing dual-threat that has Owl fans excited.

33. Liberty Bowl - Iowa State Cyclones vs Tulsa Golden Hurricane - A re-match of the season opener won 38-23 by Iowa State. Tulsa is probably in a better place now, so the result could be much different. But not a lot of people cared the first time, so why play it again?

32. New Orleans Bowl - East Carolina Pirates vs Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns - Two teams that are probably better than their name recognition.  The Pirates tied UCF for the C-USA East lead but lost out on the tie-breaker.  LA-Lafayette closed by winning 4 out of 5, with the only loss being the heart-breaker to Florida on the blocked punt.

31.  BBVA Compass Bowl - Pittsburgh Panthers vs Ole Miss Rebels - The other bowl matching 6-6 squads but both are playing well at season's end.  Ole Miss should have beat LSU and features an exciting but unknown quarterback in Bo Wallace.

30.  Hawaii Bowl - SMU Mustangs vs Fresno State Bulldogs - Fresno State is a really good football team and co-champs of the Mountain West.  A match-up against a 6-6 team from Conference-USA seems like a mis-match and I wish Fresno would have drawn a better opponent.  On the bright side, Hawaii is a darn good destination and one that might provide enough distractions to make this a close game.

29.  Texas Bowl - Texas Tech Red Raiders vs Minnesota Golden Gophers - The Red Raiders annual November slide makes this game even less intriguing.  The fact that the Gophers made a bowl is a great achievement for them in 2012 based on expectations.  I am just likely to pass on this one.

28. Sun Bowl - USC Trojans vs Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets - Nobody wants to watch a 6-7 team in a bowl, regardless of the circumstances. And frankly, USC has been almost unwatchable as of late. At least if Matt Barkley plays there is some intrigue for his amateur finale.

27.  Heart of Dallas Bowl - Oklahoma State Cowboys vs Purdue Boilermakers - Yes, Purdue did win 3 straight to become bowl-eligible and the Cowboys are just 7-5 after close losses to Oklahoma and Baylor.  I still think Oklahoma State is a huge favorite and this is one of the top candidates for Bowl Blowout.

26.  Belk Bowl - Cincinnati Bearcats vs Duke Blue Devils - It is good to see Duke in a bowl, even at 6-6.  Cincinnati has had the coaching-carousel hit them, a distraction that takes the luster off a very successful season.  I wonder what Nick Van Exel and Bobby Hurley think of this one?

25.  Beef O'Brady's Bowl - Ball State Cardinals vs UCF Golden Knights - The Cardinals closed with 6 straight wins and are definitely fun to watch.  UCF lost the C-USA Championship Game in overtime.  I think this one is going to be entertaining.

24.  Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl - Arizona State Sun Devils vs Navy Midshipmen - Military academies are never fun to play with their complex running games an multitude of players they throw at you.  With time to prepare, it shouldn't be too much for the Sun Devils, but Navy is the best of the academies this year.  Todd Graham tries to cap off a successful first season at Arizona State and might even stay for another year.

23.  New Mexico Bowl - Arizona Wildcats vs Nevada Wolfpack - One of my top candidates amongst these games to blow up the scoreboard.  The Matt Scott-Ka'deem Carey vs Cody Fajardo-Stefphon Jefferson combination will be a fun one to watch. 

22.  Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl - TCU Horned Frogs vs Michigan State Spartans - On the other end of the spectrum, this game is one of my top candidate to put the scoreboard operator to sleep.  The Spartans defense has kept them in games all year while the offense struggled, making most of their games ugly.  TCU doesn't mind playing a little ugly itself.

21.  IndependenceBowl - Louisiana-Monroe Redhawks vs Ohio Bobcats - At one point this season, a little more was expected from both of these teams.  In the end, neither had the defensive make-up to contend in their respective conferences, but a Tyler Tettleton vs Kolton Browning match-up should still be fun.

20.  Poinsettia Bowl - San Diego State Aztecs vs BYU Cougars - Essentially a home game for the Aztecs, the Mountain West co-champs will try and extend BYU's 2012 misery in games against good opponents.  The Cougar defense has been it's calling card, while San Diego State won with balance on both sides.

19.  Las Vegas Bowl - Boise State Broncos vs Washington Huskies - For a third straight year Boise State will try to thump a PAC-12 foe after missing out on the BCS.  Washington had recovered from a tough early schedule, but a mysterious loss to rival Washington State doesn't exude much confidence going up against the Broncos.  This may not be quite the same Boise State model from recent seasons, but they are still darn good.

18.  GoDaddy.com Bowl - Kent State Golden Flash vs Arkansas State Red Wolves - This game would have ranked a little higher if not for the exodus of both coaches.  Even so, there is a lot of talent on these teams and this should be a fun one to watch.  Ryan Aplin is a good dual-threat quarterback for Arkansas State and Kent State gives us one of College Football's most exciting players in the diminutive Dri Archer.

17.  Russell Athletic Bowl - Rutgers Scarlett Knights vs Virginia Tech Hokies - Rutgers was a quarter away from the BCS and has to be reeling from dropping their final two games to miss out.  Virginia Tech is one of the seasons biggest disappointments and Logan Thomas is an enigma.  That being said, I think this one looks like a close game on paper an the Hokies can try and avoid an 0-3 black-eye vs the Big East this year.

16.  Music City Bowl - Vanderbilt Commodores vs NC State Wolfpack - It is too bad this Vandy team couldn't escape the "Hometown" Bowl, as at season's end they were playing really, really good football.  The perk of being in the SEC I guess.  The Wolfpack are so up-and-down you never know what is going to happen, but they did beat Florida State this year so anything is possible.

15.  Military Bowl - San Jose State Spartans vs Bowling Green Falcons - This is my 2nd favorite match-up of non-BCS teams after both coaches flew the coup in Kent State vs Arkansas State. The Spartans beat BYU and Louisiana Tech to close their season and Bowling Green features a stout defense with a nice pass rush. The Falcons were a step below the MAC elite, but this should be one of two good WAC-MAC match-ups.
14.  Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Utah State Aggies vs Toledo Rockets - The best of the non-BCS match-ups is also a WAC-MAC tilt on the blue turf.  Utah State lost two games by 5 points total to BYU and Wisconsin or they would be in the Orange Bowl.  Toledo can put up points fast, but can also give them up fast as well.  Look for Chuckie Keaton and Kerwynn Williams to be salivating.
13.  Gator Bowl - Northwestern Wildcats vs Mississippi State Bulldogs - The Wildcats shrunk in a few big games, otherwise this team competed with the top of the Big 10 all season and comes in on a much better note than fading Mississippi State.  Still, its the SEC vs the Big 10 and Northwestern has yet to prove it has any post-season moxie.

12.  Pinstripe Bowl - Syracuse Orange vs West Virginia Mountaineers - Call this the Irony Bowl, as in their first year outside the Big East, West Virginia gets to face an old conference foe in the post-season.  Ryan Nassib and Geno Smith should provide plenty to watch here.  Also, when the ball gets in Tavon Austin's hands for the Mountaineers, stop and pay attention.

11.  Alamo Bowl - Texas Longhorns vs Oregon State Beavers - The Alamo Bowl is jumping for joy at having Texas, but the truth is that this Longhorn team isn't that great.  The quarterback position is now getting messy and they haven't run the ball well lately either.  The Beavers over-achieved this year and could take advantage and ambush the Alamo.

10.  Holiday Bowl - Baylor Bears vs UCLA Bruins - I always feel the Holiday Bowl could be re-named the Offensive-Explosion Bowl (although recent scores have been rather tame) and adding Baylor to the mix this year should get us to that result.  Plus we get to settle once-and-for-all which is tougher, a Bear or its cousin, the Bruin.

 9.  Sugar Bowl - Florida Gators vs Louisville Cardinals - Teddy Bridgewater is an exciting young quarterback, but this match-up doesn't excite me.  The Gators faced the toughest schedule in the country and their one bad game cost them a sweeter prize.  They might be the best team in the SEC this year and getting to face the Big East champion doesn't seem all that fair.

 8.  Outback Bowl - Michigan Wolverines vs South Carolina Gamecocks - The Wolverines have shrunk in almost every big game this year and South Carolina will be ready under the Old Ball Coach to take it to them.  Denard Robinson is finishing his career as a dangerous running back, giving Michigan an added weapon to the arsenal.  The SEC has dominated the Big 10 head-to-head recently and if you haven't seen Jadeveon Clowney, you might want to have a look.

 7.  Capitol One Bowl - Georgia Bulldogs vs Nebraska Cornhuskers - A little luster was taken off this match-up with the mysterious meltdown the Cornhuskers displayed in the Big 10 Championship.  Georgia has the speed to expose the edges like Wisconsin did, so Nebraska better fix things fast.  The Bulldogs have to clear the mental hurdle of being so close to the BCS Championship Game and falling short.

 6.  Chick Fil-A Bowl - Clemson Tigers vs LSU Tigers - It is a battle of Tigers, but it is also one last chance for the ACC to prove it can play with the SEC.  An embarrassing 0-4 head-to-head record in the final week of the regular season included losses by the top 2 ACC teams against their rivals from the SEC.  LSU might be a little disappointed to be in this bowl, so Clemson should have a punchers chance if Tajh Boyd brings his gloves to the ring. 

 5.  Rose Bowl - Stanford Cardinal vs Wisconsin Badgers - Nobody really wanted to see an 8-5 team in the Rose Bowl, but the game has added intrigue with Badger legend Barry Alvarez assuming the coaching duties for the game.  Stanford has played like a top 5 team as of late, but now must deal with a re-energized team and their 3-0 Rose Bowl Coach.  You want physical football?  Tune in New Year's Day for this slobberknocker.

 4.  Orange Bowl - Northern Illinois Huskies vs Florida State Seminoles - There was a lot of discussion about the worthiness of the Huskies for a BCS Bowl.  I like that they get their chance and who better to prove it against than the chronically underachieving Seminoles.  So Oklahoma got left out of the BCS, so did Florida, Texas A&M, Georgia and LSU because of the stupid rules that were put in place years ago.  Just enjoy Jordan Lynch (David) vs Florida State (Goliath).

 3.  Cotton Bowl - Oklahoma Sooners vs Texas A&M Aggies - Not as delicious as Texas/Texas A&M would have been, but these are still former Big 12 rivals.  The added bonus will be a freshman Heisman Trophy winner that has taken the College Football world by storm (and quickly caught the eye of Jabesblog already by Weeks 3&4).  I expect the scoreboard to light up in this one.

 2.  Fiesta Bowl - Oregon Ducks vs Kansas State Wildcats - If not for a fateful Saturday Night in November, these two teams would be meeting for the BCS Championship.  The Ducks have only been slowed down that one time all season and this game will give us one final look at the magic of Collin Klein.  Points should be no problem in this one either.

 1.  BCS National Championship - Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Alabama Crimson Tide - Two polarizing teams with heaps of tradition meet in the penultimate BCS National Championship Game.  Defense will be the name of the game and how ironic would it be if the SEC's streak was broken by a team without a conference?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bret Bielema's Greatest Hits

For my Wisconsin friends, as we dust off the "We Will Never Forget You Brent" t-shirts for the second time in recent memory, I thought I would re-live Bret's Greatest Games with the Red and White, as well as throw out a few games to help us feel better about his sudden departure.

#10 - Wisconsin 13, Fresno State 10 (September 13, 2008) - In what is probably Bielema's best non-bowl, non-conference win, the Badgers beat #21 Fresno State on the road in what ended up being a 7-6 season, the worst of Bret's tenure.

#9 - Wisconsin 83, Indiana 20 (November 13, 2010) - What this game said was I am not afraid to beat you into the ground.  While I don't believe the Badgers ran up the score that day (the 4th qtr TD pass was fluky), they did prove that you can pile on points with their style of play.

#8 - Wisconsin 20, Miami, FL 14 (December 29, 2009) - The Badgers defied the experts and dominated the #15 Hurricanes in the Champs Sports Bowl, despite the score of the game.  This would be Bielema's last Bowl victory with Wisconsin.

#7 - Wisconsin 48, Nebraska 17 (October 1, 2011) - Welcome to the Big 10 Nebraska, Bret Bielema-style.  The Badgers whipped the Cornhuskers in the first Big 10 game for Nebraska and set the tone for a second consecutive Rose Bowl appearance.

#6 - Wisconsin 37, Michigan 21 (November 10, 2007) - Beating a #13 Michigan team in your second season is a signal that the program is not going anywhere under your leadership.  While the team lost a combined 10 games in 2007 and 2008, they would only lose 13 in the final 4 years of Bielema's tenure.

#5 - Wisconsin 31, Iowa 30 (October 23, 2010) - After beating #1 Ohio State the previous week, the Badgers had the task of travelling to face #12 Iowa.  While the Ohio State game announced their status as Rose Bowl contenders in 2010, it was Bielema's fake punt call and come-from-behind win against the Hawkeyes that earned Wisconsin the trip to Pasadena.

#4 - Wisconsin 17, Arkansas 14 (January 1, 2007) - Ironically, Bielema's first Bowl victory came against his future employer as Wisconsin stifled the Darren McFadden/Felix Jones tandem to complete a 12-1 season, Bret's first as a head coach.  Some might feel this was Barry's team, but the record was impressive nonetheless.

#3 - Wisconsin 70, Nebraska 31 (December 1, 2012) - In what would be Bielema's final game as Badger Head Coach, he went out with an emphatic statement to salvage an otherwise disappointing season.  The game plan was creative, different and effective, all things the Badgers did not necessarily display throughout the season. 

#2 - Wisconsin 42, Michigan State 39 (December 3, 2011) - Bielema will always be the coach of the inaugural champions of the Big 10 Championship Game.  The Badgers started fast and came from behind to win this game, which really justified Bret's biggest move in 2011, which was getting Russell Wilson to come to Wisconsin.

#1 - Wisconsin 31, Ohio State 18 (October 16, 2010) - From the kickoff, the Badgers were prepared for the #1 Buckeyes invasion into Madison.  David Gilreath took it to the house and then John Clay proceeded to pound Ohio State into submission.  J.J. Watt is still in Terrelle Pryor's dreams after that game.  Lucky for Bielema, he will have more opportunities when he has to face #1 Alabama or #1 LSU in the coming years.

Illinois 31, Wisconsin 26 (October 6, 2007) - The Badgers were #5 in the country when they played at the Illini and proceeded to get run over by Rashard Mendenhall and Juice Williams.  Probably didn't matter as they got trounced by Penn State the next week and by Ohio State later in the season.

Michigan 27, Wisconsin 25 (September 27, 2008) - At potentially the low-point of Wolverine football, the Badgers blew a 19-0 lead in the Big House to start a string of 4 straight losses. 

Penn State 48, Wisconsin 7 (October 11, 2008) - The official low-point of the Bret Bielema tenure, Wisconsin lost by 41 to the Nittany Lions at Camp Randall Stadium.  The embarrassment was almost matched against Cal Poly 6 weeks later, but UW escaped 37-36 in OT.

Michigan State 16, Wisconsin 13 (October 27, 2012), Ohio State 21, Wisconsin 14 (November 17, 2012) and Penn State 24, Wisconsin 21 (November 24, 2012) - Three overtime losses, two at home, frustrating play-calling, a costly time-out, trust in an untrustworthy kicker...I should stop.

Michigan State 37, Wisconsin 31 (October 22, 2011) and Ohio State 33, Wisconsin 29 (October 29, 2011) - The Badgers squandered their National Championship hopes by not one, but two game-costing defensive breakdowns that have to fall somewhat on the head coach.
TCU 21, Wisconsin 19 (January 1, 2011) and Oregon 45, Wisconsin 38 (January 2, 2012) - His predecessor did not just go to Rose Bowls, he won them.  If Wisconsin defeats Stanford in this year's Rose Bowl, it will grow the legend of Alvarez, but also cement the perception of Bielema as the one who couldn't win the Grand-Daddy of them all.