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Tag:USC
Posted on: November 18, 2011 5:15 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 5:16 pm
 

BCS proposals, games of the week

Before I get to the few games that matter this week, there have been some rumored changes being considered for the BCS, each of which have the affect of removing AQ status from league champions and others.  The first proprosal simply does away with AQ status, and the top 10 teams in the BCS ratings play in the BCS games.  The more recent proposal says that the BCS would only manage a 1 vs 2 game and leave the other bowls to their own devices.

I can't imagine anyone liking the first proposal except the SEC, which is probably arrogant enough to think it will always have a top ten team (ok, it always has had a top ten team, so maybe that's not arrogance). 

That second proposal, you may notice, is a step away from a playoff, not toward one.  It's essentially the way things used to be, except for the addition of a 1 vs 2 game.  The Big Ten (who reportedly proposed it) and SEC would be the only leagues in favor of this because it would remove the restriction on how many teams from one conference could go to a big bowl game.  We do know how many would go from the non-major conferences: zero.  Heck, throw the ACC and Big East in there too.

So, I think it's safe to say neither proposal seems very likely to pass.

On to this week's games.  It's a relatively quiet week, especially for mid-November.

USC at Oregon -- The Ducks need to avoid a letdown after the big win over Stanford, but this program has been on the big stage before and should be able to do that.  The Trojans' speed may make this a tougher matchup that Stanford was for the Ducks.

Oklahoma at Baylor -- Before the Bedlam, there is still the matter of containing RG3.

Nebraska at Michigan -- A spot in the Fiesta Bowl could be at stake for the winner.

Penn State at Ohio State -- The Nits lead in the Big Ten's Leaders division is now tenuous at best.

Cincinnati at Rutgers -- The Bearcats were in firm control of the Big East until last week's loss to West Virginia, which also cost them the services of QB Zach Collaros.  They still have a one-game lead, but five teams are on their heels, including the Scarlet Knights.


Posted on: November 3, 2011 9:55 pm
 

LSU-Alabama, the prequel?

A lot of the speculation surrounding this game isn't just about which team will win, but whether or not this game even matters?  That is because many think we could see this matchup again on Jan. 9th in New Orleans.

I don't think that's a very likely event.  Obviously, Oklahoma State and Stanford have to lose to even have the discussion.  The loser on Saturday will have a couple of things going against them in the eyes of voters.  First, while there isn't a whole lot of precedent on this, voters have shied away from a rematch if there was another good choice available.

In 2006, after a pretty exciting Ohio State-Michigan game that ended 42-39 in favor of the Buckeyes, Michigan fell only to third in the polls, just behind one-loss USC and ahead of six other one-loss teams, led by Florida.  That was the final game of the regular season for the Big Ten schools.

Entering the final week of the season, the Wolverines were still sandwiched between USC and Florida.  That weekend, USC lost to UCLA, opening the door for a rematch.  However, after Florida beat Arkansas for the SEC title, voters pushed the Gators ahead of Michigan and into the BCS title game.

The desire to avoid a rematch wasn't the only thing working against Michigan.  Florida was also a conference champion.  In the 14-year history of the BCS, the top two teams in the final polls have always been conference champions.  Earlier versions of the BCS formula overruled the will of the voters a couple of times and put a non-champion in the BCS title game.  It is harder to do that in this version of the formula, which gives 2/3 of the weight to the voters.

The loser of this game figures to be in the same boat as Michigan.  I think if there is any other reasonable choice, including undefeated Boise State or one-loss Oklahoma, the voters will ultimately go that route, even if they don't do so this week.  And I think that is true no matter how good the game is on Saturday, although obviously a good game is more helpful to the rematch cause than a poor one.

Yes, I did say Boise State up there.  Certainly, if it comes down to a choice of the Broncos or LSU/Alabama, there will be a lot of debate over how "reasonable" a choice Boise State is.  That program has built up a lot of respect with the voters over the last several years, and if the circumstance is right, voters may finally say, "let's see what they got."

Posted on: October 28, 2011 1:29 pm
 

West Virginia, Arizona Western and games to watch

Brett McMurphy has been all over the West Virginia to the Big 12 story, which became official today.  In his story, Brett said, "With the Big 12 only taking West Virginia, the Big East’s chances of retaining its BCS automatic qualifying status in 2014 is greatly improved."

I'm sure he means as opposed to taking both West Virginia and Louisville, which would have been worse because that would have meant the Big East having to find two more teams instead of just one.  However, it would have been much better for the Big 12 to have caved to some senatorial pressure and took just Louisville.  The Mountaineers have been the most consistely good program in the Big East, so while the league only needs to find one more replacement, it will be hard pressed to find one that is anywhere near the quality of West Virginia.  Note I am excluing the six programs already being pursued by the league, Boise State, Air Force, Navy, Houston, SMU and UCF.

Note that Brett mentioned the AQ status for 2014 and beyond.  That is because the Big East is contracturally locked in as an AQ league through the 2013 season.  There is no formal process for revoking that status beyond then, but that is an issue the BCS commissioners will deal with in the next eight to ten months, according to BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock.

--

Ah, the vagaries of the BCS computer rankings.  If you look at Ken Massey's BCS rankings and go far enough down the list, you'll see that the 88th ranked team is that noted football power Arizona Western JC.  Yes, a junior college.  If you look at his regular rankings, which the BCS does not use because they include margin of victory, AWJC is 30th.

This has caused a little bit of outrage because it's so comically wrong, and while I understand that, I'm not as bothered by it as most people are.  A team like AWJC is so far removed from the oppponent, opponents, opponents, etc chain of any I-A school that it could probably be removed from the database entirely without affecting the I-A rankings.

That is also the reason a team like AWJC can be so high in the rankings.  It is so far removed from the I-A schools that its rating isn't impacted by them.

Programmers who want to rank just I-A schools need to find some way to deal with opponents outside of that class.  Some, like me, deal with it by treating all such opponents as genericly bad I-A teams.  Some rank a larger set of schools to be more specific.  Some ignore those games entirely (like the RPI).  Different strokes for different folks.  I don't get too worked up about it.  It's a reliativley minor problem for the BCS compared to the fact that they have no idea how these ratings work or if they are being calculated correctly.  Also, teams don't know how they are being judged.  That's because, except for Colley, the formulas are secret.
--

LSU, Alabama and Boise State are off this week, but there are still several games of interest.

Clemson is at Georgia Tech, which looked like a lot bigger game a couple weeks ago when the Yellow Jackets were still undefeated.  Georgia Tech is still dangerous, and difficult to prepare for, so Clemson better be ready.

Baylor at Oklahoma State -- Brandon Weedon vs Robert Griffin III.  Alert the engineers!  The scoreboard is going to get a workout.

Oklahoma at Kansas State -- One of these teams is still undefeated.  I think the Wildcats picked a bad week to schedule Oklahoma.

Michigan State at Nebraska -- The Spartans just finished handing Michigan and Wisconsin their first losses in back-to-back weekends, and their reward is a trip to Lincoln.  Thanks, schedule makers!

Wisconsin at Ohio State -- The Badgers try to bounce back from the loss to Michigan State last week and stay in the hunt in the Legendary Leaders division, or something like that.

Stanford at USC -- The Trojans just extinguished Notre Dame's BCS hopes last week, and now it hopes to kill off the Cardinal's national title aspirations.

Georgia vs Florida -- The World's Largest Cocktail Party usually leaves Georgia with a hangover.  Mark Richt was on one of the hottest seats to start the season, but now an East division title is a possiblity.  USC-East controls its own destiny there, but with Marcus Lattimore done for the season, the door could open for the Bulldogs.


Posted on: October 21, 2011 6:28 pm
 

BCS games to watch

This week's BCS games to watch:

North Carolina at Clemson -- The Tigers have three of their final four on the road, so it is important for them to take care of business at home.

Oklahoma St at Missouri -- This is arguably the toughest game left for the Cowboys before their season-ending showdown with Oklahoma.  Baylor and Kansas St are on the schedule too, but those games are at home.

Wisconsin at Michigan St -- The Spartans are probably best equipped to defend the Badgers, but they will have to do it without suspended DE William Gholston.

Washington at Stanford -- I'm not a bettor, but I can't believe Stanford is a three-touchdown favorite.  Washington (5-1) has played well behind QB Keith Price.  The Huskies almost took down Nebraska in Lincoln.

Auburn at LSU -- No Honey Badger.  No Spencer Ware.  So, LSU will be shorthanded.  This could be a dangerous spot for the Bayou Bengals.

USC at Notre Dame -- No BCS impact for the Trojans.  They are not eligible for the post-season.  However, they can all but end their rivals' chances of getting to the BCS with an upset in South Bend.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 11:23 am
 

Hoops As Far As the Eye Can See

by Jerry Palm

Today brings a festival of hoops with a lot of important games, most of which involve teams feeling very bubbly.

Oklahoma State's at-large hopes are hanging by a thread, but the Cowboys can make a big splash today by knocking off No. 1 seed Kansas in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals.  Yesterday, they eliminated Nebraska from any at-large consideration in the opening round.

Colorado survived a scare against Iowa State to keep in the hunt for as well.  They take on Kansas State today, looking to beat the Wildcats for a third time.  They probably need to.

In the ACC, Boston College and Virginia Tech get underway hoping to avoid a potentially fatal bad loss. The Eagles play Wake Forest, while the Hokies will take on Georgia Tech.

Michigan State and Penn State are in the same boat.  Those teams are each three games over .500, and that record might be hard for the committee to swallow, regardless of their schedules.  A loss today to a Big Ten bottom-feeder would probably do them in.

Tennessee and Georgia also face league also-rans in the opening round of the SEC tournament.  Again, avoiding a bad loss at this point is crucial to their chances.

If Marquette hasn't already punched their ticket, they certainly can with a win over Louisville today in the 15th round of the Big East tournament.  Or something like that.  I lose count.

One of the more interesting conference tournaments gets going in earnest today in Las Vegas.  There is a lot at stake in the Mountain West.  Colorado State and New Mexico play in the 4-5 game.  Both teams have at-large hopes, but each might need to beat BYU to make that happen.  That won't be possible for the loser.

The Cougars will spend the weekend trying to prove to the committee that they are still worthy of a high seed after the loss of Brandon Davies.  They open with last-place TCU today.

San Diego State still has just two losses this season, both to BYU, and might have a shot at a No. 1 seed if they can run the table this weekend and get some help.

And finally, Washington gets a third shot at in-state rival Washington State.  The Cougars swept the season series, and welcome Klay Thompson back to the lineup after a one-game suspension.  Washington lost three of its last four Pac 10 games, including home games to WSU and USC.

Below, Lauren Shehadi and I talk some more bubble.


Posted on: March 6, 2011 12:08 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2011 1:10 pm
 

Mar. 6 Bracket - Change at Both Ends

by Jerry Palm

Saturday was a day of change in the bracket at both ends.  At the top, Duke lost to North Carolina, giving the Tar Heels the ACC regular season title.  Quick show of hands - who had UNC winning the ACC regular season back in October.  Yeah, me neither.

That loss by the Blue Devils, combined with Notre Dame's win at Connecticut, has vaulted the Irish to the top line of the bracket.  For now.  In fact, just about ever sentence of this post could end with "for now."

Purdue missed the bus to Iowa, and whoever was wearing their uniforms instead lost to Iowa.  That is costly for the Boilers.  Not only did it cost them a shot at the Big Ten regular season title, but it knocks them out of realistic contention for a No. 1 seed and -- again, for now -- out of the Chicago sub-regional.

Ohio State will go through its coronation ceremony as Big Ten champs later today, but first there is the little matter of facing Wisconsin.   The Badgers are suddenly thrust into 1-seed contention, but would have to win out.  They could have three wins over the Buckeyes if they do so.

The other big game in the Big Ten saw Michigan complete the season sweep of Michigan State.   Despite their 16-13 record, there was still room for Sparty in the bracket in one of the First Four games.  They better do something in Indianapolis though if they hope to stay there.

That may still be true of the Wolverines also.  Just because they beat MSU twice doesn't mean they are safe. 

Also, in the ACC, Clemson knocked off Virginia Tech.   That created a space at the bottom of the bracket for the Tigers, but I believe the Hokies still have a better profile.

Which brings me to today's selection/seeding lesson -- head-to-head isn't decisive.  It is possible for Michigan St to get selected and Michigan left out for for the Spartans to be higher seeded, despite the season sweep by Michigan.  Teams get judged on their entire seasons.  Not just one or two games, as in the case of head-to-head, or even two-thirds, as in the case of conference performance.

Clemson is another example.  The Tigers beat both Boston College and Virginia Tech, but both at home.  They didn't have to travel to either place.  Clemson had a better day when it played each of those teams, but has not has as good a season overall, and that is how those teams are judged.

Louisville fans have also been upset to see the Cards seeded behind Syracuse despite a win over the Orange and being ahead in the conference standings before yesterday's loss at West Virginia.   Syracuse had a much better overall profile though.

Speaking of meaningless conference standings, Alabama picked up a much-needed win over Georgia to keep it's slim at-large hopes alive.  The Tide is going to need to do some serious damage in Atlanta to have any realistic shot at an at-large bid.

Washington lost at home again late last night, this time to USC.   The Huskies will face in-state rival Washington State in the conference tournament.  The Cougars swept UW this season.

Nobody's case for seeding or selection is done yet.  The conference tournaments will certainly have a impact.  Many teams in the middle of the major conference still have a lot of work yet to do.

One more bid will go out later today.  Missouri State looks to make its first tournament appearance since 1999 when it faces sixth-seeded Indiana State in the Missouri Valley final on CBS.

See complete Bracketology coverage here.


Posted on: March 1, 2011 12:51 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2011 6:09 pm
 

Mar. 1 Bracket - Welcome to the Madness

by Jerry Palm

There has been another change at the top of the bracket this week as the top of the field continues to play its way backwards.  BYU takes over for San Diego State on the top line for now, but may have to win out to keep it.

Of course, other contenders continue to fall away.  Texas once looked like a strong candidate for a top seed, but has lost twice since Friday's bracket.  They blew a 22-point lead at Colorado on Saturday, then Kansas State came back on them at home Monday night (although from not nearly as large a hole).  Combine that with the loss at Nebraska the previous week and it looks like the Longhorns are trying to play the whole middle of the Big 12 into the field.  That's good news for Baylor, who plays them this weekend.

The result is that the Longhorns find themselves as a 3-seed today, while Notre Dame moves up to the second line.  Both the Irish and red-hot Purdue have chances to challenge for top seeds, but probably need to win out and get help.

Meanwhile, Kansas State has won five in a row, including it's three biggest wins of the year, and has played itself right off the bubble.

Virginia Tech also picked up its biggest win so far when it beat Duke on Saturday.  Despite the screaming of the TV commentators that the Hokies are now a lock, that's not true.  They can't go on a three-game losing streak from here and expect to get in.

Arizona had a rough week in LA, losing to both USC and UCLA, and dropping into a tie with the Bruins for first place in the Pac 10.  The Wildcats have done little of substance away from home.  Their only top 50 RPI wins came over UCLA and Washington, both in Tucson.  Poll voters still love them for their gaudy record, but they look like a middle of the bracket team.

I get a lot of question about team's selection or seeding that go something like this "My team is ahead of this other team in the conference standings, so why are they seeded lower?"

The answer is that conference standings (and conference record by itself) are not at all relevant to the selection and seeding process.  Conference standings don't matter in part because so many leagues play unbalanced schedules.  Seriously -- is there anything less meaningful than the Big East standings?  And the other thing about conference performance is that it is only about two-thirds of a team's entire profile, and teams are judged on their entire body of work, not just conference play.

So, I have Old Dominion ahead of George Mason in the bracket because the Monarchs' non-conference performance makes up for a two-game deficit in the Colonial standings.  They have a non-conference wins over Xavier, Richmond, Clemson and Cleveland State.   Mason's only non-conference win of any substance came over Harvard at home.  In fact, Mason's best away-from-home win of the season came at VCU.   ODU beat both Xavier and Clemson on neutral courts.  So, I see a slight overall edge to ODU.

The extreme case of this is Alabama, which is 11-3 in the SEC at the moment and has clinched the West division title, but still isn't close to an at-large bid.  Their non-conference performance was so bad that a gaudy league record hasn't been able to wipe it away.  Of course, it doesn't help that the rest of the West stinks and that accounts for most of the Tide's conference schedule.

I'll have more in the Bubble Watch later today.

See complete Bracketology coverage here.



Posted on: February 15, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2011 9:09 pm
 

Feb. 15 Bracket - Movement at the Top

by Jerry Palm

Ohio State's loss at Wisconsin on Saturday and Kansas losing at Kansas State last night has caused a bit of a shakeup at the top of the bracket.   There is very little separating the teams on the top line, and not much separating them from the second line.  Here is a look at how they stand at the moment.

Pittsburgh -- The Panthers have more top 25 RPI wins than anyone (6), and four of those came away from home.  Two were last week, at West Virginia and Villanova, without their leading scorer, Ashton Gibbs.  Oddly, both of their losses have come in Pittsburgh.

Ohio St -- The Buckeyes have just one loss, the one at Wisconsin.  Everyone loses there.  The have six top 50 wins, including blowouts of Purdue and Florida.

Texas -- Leads the Big 12 and had to win at Kansas to do that.  The loss to USC is a real headscratcher, but you could argue nobody has played better the last month and a half.

San Diego State -- The Aztecs also have just one loss, which came at BYU.   They swept UNLV as part of their five top 50 wins and are 13-1 away from home.  Some even higher quality wins would be nice.

Kansas -- Like SDSU, the Jayhawks are in need of higher quality wins.  They have a neutral court win over Arizona, which is overrated (one top 50 win, home UCLA -- yawn), and beat Missouri at home among their six top 50 wins.  Kansas St is the highest rated team they have played on the road, and they got crushed.  The second-highest rated team the Jayhawks played on the road is Michigan, and they needed OT to beat the Wolverines.

BYU -- The Cougars' seven top 50 wins also includes a neutral court win over Arizona and the win over the Aztecs.  They lost to UCLA in Anaheim and at the Pit in New Mexico, where everybody loses.  Except San Diego State.

Duke -- The win over North Carolina last week was their first over a sure tournament team this season.  Their win at Miami on Sunday is their best road win of the year, after losses at St. John's and Florida State.

So, you can see, it's a pretty tight race to the finish among these seven teams.

St. John's continues to play their way up the bracket.  They beat Connecticut at home and won at Cincinnati and moved up a couple spots.  The Bearcats though are sliding, having lost three of four and with still several tough games ahead.

See complete Bracketology coverage here.

Also, the Bubble Page has been updated.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com