And Then There Were 4

And then there were 4:  WI (2), FL (1), UConn (7) and KY (8).

  • Only two Final Fours in history have had more than 1 of the 2014 group competing.

2011:  UConn, Kentucky
2000: Florida, Wisconsin

  • Number of times the SEC has had 2 teams in the Final Four: 2 – 2006 (FL, LSU); 1994 (Ark, FL)
  • Number of championships by team: KY (8), CT (3), FL (2), WI (1)

Last Kentucky championship: 2012
Last Connecticut championship: 2011
Last Florida championship: 2007
Last Wisconsin championship: 1941

  • Team Records against Final Four opponents:

Wisconsin: 1-0 against Florida
Kentucky: 0-2 against Florida
UConn: 1-0 against Florida
Florida: 2-0 against Kentucky; 0-2 against WI, CT

  • # of times Final Four has been in Dallas: 1 – 1986 (Louisville, Kansas, Duke, LSU)
  • Distance of Schools to Dallas/Arlington area:

Lexington: 880 miles
Madison: 989 miles
Gainesville: 990 miles
Storrs: 1,686 miles

  • Home court advantage:  Kentucky (8)
  • Underdog:  UConn (7)





28 Points – Frank “Wassily” Kaminsky

Points - Kandinsy

Points – Kandinsy

I had Arizona advancing to the Final Four, not Wisconsin.  In fact, I had the Badgers losing to Creighton (Barrel) in the Sweet 16.  When I made my picks for the West region, I did so without having seen any of the teams play during the regular season.  So I went by hunch and history.  The last time Wisconsin won a championship was in 1941, when the field was just 8 teams, one of the 8 included Creighton. My parents were just 2 years old. 1941 was the year FDR began his third term and WWII was heating up in Europe and Africa.  The last time Wisconsin made the Final Four was the year 2000 when they danced with the eventual champion Michigan State, runner up Florida and North Carolina.

Had I known just how good a team Wisconsin had, I might have picked them to take the crown this year.  They exemplify what it means to be a team – great passing, solid defense, consistent shooting and dominant center play.  And DOMINANT is the word to describe 7’0 Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky, the Junior from Lisle, (the crocodile) Illinois, a Western suburb of Chicago.  And he was the difference maker with points, and lots of them, in Wisconsin’s OT victory over Arizona, a victory that provoked riots where the streets have no name in Arizona.

When I first heard the name Kaminsky, I thought it was Kandinsky.  I was thinking that it was kind of neat that Wisconsin had a player who might be the great grandson of the Russian painter, Kandinsky. I remember as a young lad, not much older than Frank Kaminsky himself, I visited NYC for the first time and went to the Guggenheim Museum to pay tribute to its architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. While I was impressed with the odd building that looked like something Sun Ra might have designed, a cross between a parking garage and a concrete UFO, I was equally impressed with the Kandinsky exhibit.  I remember buying a postcard of one his works and posting it on the wall of my off campus apartment in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  One of his most interesting works, “Points”, is an apt description of Frank Kaminsky’s contribution in last night’s victory – 28 to be exact – after which he was named the West Region’s MVP.

And then there were 8

From the cluttered Sports Desk of Ribbie’s Weblog:

Highlights from the second group of Sweet 16 games and a few other oddities:

  • In a losing effort, Tennessee had fewer turnovers, more rebounds, more steals and more blocked shots (8) than Michigan
  • Michigan outperformed Tennessee in all the shooting categories.
  • Louisville went only 13-23, 56.5% at the free throw line; KY, 22-27, 81.5%.
  • UConn shot a better 3 point percentage, 47.4%, than Iowa State’s field goal percentage, 46.4%
  • UConn made 91% of their free throws – 20-22; Iowa State 40% – 6-15.
  • UConn is 3-0 at Madison Square Garden this season.
  • The Big Ten reigns supreme with 3 teams left:  WI (2), MI (2) and MI State (4); SEC has 2:  FL (1), KY (8)
  • Last #8 National Champion: 1985 – Villanova.
  • Big Ten record – 9-3; SEC – 9-1.
  • The Lowest seeded teams in the Elite 8 are: Dayton (11), KY (8) and CT (7)
  • # of Elite 8 match ups between teams that have played before this season: 0
  • # of teams that have not faced an Elite 8 team this year: 1 – Dayton
  • Place Dayton finished in the Atlantic 10 conference: 6th.
  • Number of 11 seeds to reach the final four:  3: VCU (2011); Geo. Mason (2006); LSU (1986)
  • Kentucky’s record against Elite 8 teams:  0-3, losing twice to FL and once to MI St.
  • Florida’s record: 35-2.  # of losses to Elite 8 teams: 2 – UConn, WI
  • Most games against Elite 8 teams: MI – 6; record 3-3: Wins – WI, MI St. (2); Loses – AZ, WI, MI St.
  • Number of coaches in the Elite 8 with one or more championships: 3 – Billy Donovan (2); John Calipari (1); Tom Izzo (1)

Elite 8 Re-seedings based on Academics

Bard College (38)

From the Sports Desk of Ribbie’s Weblog, here are the Elite 8 matchups re-seeded based on US News and World Reports rankings of national universities:

Florida (63) v. Dayton (112)

Arizona (119) v. Wisconsin (41)

Michigan State (73) v. UConn (57)

Michigan (28) v. Kentucky (119)

Of these national universities, Dayton is the only private institution.  With an acceptance rate of 36%, Michigan is technically the most elite of the Elite 8; Arizona, at 76%, the least.


And then there were 12

The Dayton Flyers are the big story from the sports desk of Ribbie’s Weblog.  In their Sweet 16 game against a tall Stanford club, the 11 seed Dayton Flyers soared to new heights knocking down 8 threes and breezing to a ten point win to reach the Elite 8.  The last time Dayton advanced to the Elite 8 was 30 years ago.  Florida has had the easiest ride so far of any #1 seed.  Coming out of the least competitive South bracket, they have defeated Albany (16), Pittsburgh (9), UCLA (4) and will face Dayton (11) in the Elite 8.

On the first night of Sweet 16 play, here’s what went down:

  • The three California teams lost – Stanford, San Diego and UCLA.
  • Florida won extending the SEC undefeated streak in the tournament to 7 games.
  • After Baylor and Stanford lost, there are only 2 private universities left:  Dayton and Louisville.
  • Arizona, Florida and CT do not border any of the states with teams left in the tournament.
  • UCLA missed 15 three points shots shooting only 16.7% beyond the arc.  Florida made 8, shooting 38% from three point land.
  • Dayton had 19 assists; Stanford just 10.
  • Baylor made 31% of its shots – 18/57 and was only 2/15 beyond the arc.
  • Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, the pride of Lisle, IL had 6 blocked shots against Baylor. The 7 footer went 8/11 and scored 19 points.
  • Arizona shot 23/48 for 48%; 5/12 behind the arc.

Who will join Dayton, Florida, Arizona and Wisconsin to complete the Elite 8?  We shall see.  Let the games continue!

2014 Sweet 16 Tournament Geography and Stuff

From the sports desk of Ribbie’s Weblog, here are some more interesting facts about the Sweet 16 teams as they head into action tonight.

  • Number of teams from states that do not border any other states with teams left in the tournament: 2 – Texas, Connecticut
  • # of private universities: 4 – Stanford, Louisville, Dayton and Baylor
  • Games between border states: 1 – Arizona v. San Diego State
  • Games between private universities: 1 – Stanford v. Dayton
  • Game of lowest seeds: Stanford (10) v. Dayton (11)
  • 1 v. 4 games: 3 – VA (1) v. Michigan St. (4); FL (1) v. UCLA (4); AZ (1) v. San Diego St. (4)
  • Number of states with teams in the the Sweet 16 that Kentucky borders: 3 – Tennessee, Ohio (Dayton), VA

I know, BORING, so let the games begin.

And then there were 16

Well, with only 9 of the 16 teams left in the 2014 NCAA tournament, a 9 I’ll call the Devine 9, my bracket is busted, but of the Devine 9, I have 3 of them going on to the final four and my championship game and champion are still intact.  I have the Florida Gators taking down the Louisville Cardinals.  So, what to make of this year’s Sweet 16?  Here’s a little breakdown:

  • 16 teams, 13 states
  • Most teams from a state:  3 – CA (SD State, Stanford, UCLA); 2 – MI (Michigan, Michigan State); KY (Kentucky and Louisville)
  • 2013 Final Four teams not in the Sweet 16: 2 – Wichita State and Syracuse
  • 2013 Final Four teams in the Sweet 16: 2 – Louisville (last year’s champion) and Michigan
  • Number of teams left from the Deep South (defined as LA, MS, AL, GA, SC): 0
  • Seeds:  1 – (3); 2 – (2); 3 – (1); 4 – (4); 5 – (0); 6 – (1); 7 – (1); 8 – (1); 9 (0); 10 – (1); 11 – (2)
  • Final Four of Four Seeds:  San Diego State, UCLA, Louisville, Michigan State
  • In State Matchup:  Kentucky (8) v. Louisville (4)
  • Conference Matchups in the Sweet 16: 0
  • 9 of the 16 teams from 3 conferences:  SEC, Big Ten, Pac 12
  • Teams with nicknames that refer to people:  4 – Virginia Cavaliers, San Diego State Aztecs, Michigan State Spartans, Dayton Flyers
  • Wildcats: 2 – Arizona, Kentucky
  • Bears: 2 – UCLA (Bruins), Baylor
  • Birds: 2 – Louisville Cardinals, Stanford Cardinal
  • Cinderella Final Four:  Dayton (11), UCONN (7), Tennessee (11), Baylor (6)
  • Favorites Final Four:  Florida (1), VA (1), AZ (1), MI (2)

That’s all for now.  Stay tuned for more maddening facts.





Maddening 2014 March Madness Fact and Oddities

March Madness is upon us once again and 32 teams still stand tall, some taller than others. So which teams are left after the first two rounds?  How many conferences? How many states? These and other questions will be answered. To paraphrase some babbling Pink Floyd – I know I am mad, I’ve always been mad, even when I’m not mad, I’m mad…can’t really do anything about it anyway…except compile statistics and odd facts about a basketball tournament.  Read on you crazy hoop heads.

High and Lows:

  • State Highs:  3 – TX: Baylor, Stephen F. Austin, Texas; CA: Stanford, San Diego State, UCLA
  • States Remaining: 23
  • Conference Highs:  4 – ACC: NC, Pitt, VA, Syracuse; Big 12: Iowa St., KS, Baylor, Texas; Pac 12: AZ, UCLA, Stanford, OR
  • Conference Lows: 0 – Conference USA, Mid American, et al.
  • All Conference Final 4: 1: Big 12: Iowa St., Kansas, Baylor, Texas
  • Final Four Madness: Stephen F. Austin (12), Harvard (12), North Dakota St. (12), Mercer (14)

Mascot Breakdown:

  • People – 7: Tennessee Volunteers, SF Austin Lumberjacks, Dayton Flyers, San Diego State Aztecs, NC Tar Heels, Michigan St. Spartans, Virginia Cavaliers
  • Cats – 5:  Pittsburgh Panthers, Memphis Tigers, Arizona Wildcats, Kentucky Wildcats, Villanova Wildcats
  • Birds – 5:  Stanford Cardinal, Louisville Cardinals, Kansas Jayhawks, Creighton Jays, Oregon Ducks
  • Bears – 3: UCLA Bruins, Mercer Bears, Baylor Bears
  • Weird Animals – 2: Wisconsin Badgers, Michigan Wolverines
  • Colors – 2:  Syracuse Orange, Harvard Crimson
  • Bovinae – 2:  Texas Longhorns, North Dakota State Bisons
  • Fruits – 1: Syracuse Orange
  • Grains – 1: Wichita State Shockers (stalk of wheat)
  • Natural Disasters – 1:  Iowa St. Cylcones
  • Doll – 1: Saint Louis Billikens
  • Swamp Dwellers – 1: Florida Gators

Interesting Matchups:

  • All Cat Final Four:  KY Wildcats, Villanova Wildcats, Arizona Wildcats, Pitt Panthers
  • All People Final Four:  Virgina Cavaliers, Tennessee Volunteer, San Diego St. Aztecs, SF Austin Lumberjacks
  • Top Public U Final Four: UCLA, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin
  • Top Academics Final Four: Harvard, Stanford, Wisconsin, Michigan
  • Great Mascot Battle:  Wolverine, Badger, Gator, Tiger

Let the madness continue!

Gaming the ACT and SAT


I’ve written about this topic before and it’s back in the news.  The SAT.  Remember? Depending on where you live or what schools you applied to in the U.S. you either took the ACT or the SAT.  But as it’s commonly known, to those who care to know, neither test is a very good indicator of aptitude or college success. The tests correlate better with parental income and access to test taking resources.  In some cases, as Mike Krumboltz from Yahoo News points out about a NY Times report on the subject, parents spend thousands of dollars on preparation books and tutors to help their children game the test.  One such strategy is to memorize a generic essay and tweak it to the actual essay prompt.  And some privileged white parents are probably wasting money.  I have read about an experiment where a group of upper middle class kids were given the multiple choice sections of the exam without the questions and they did very well because they implicitly understood the dominant mainstream values the test answers promoted.  As I’ve mentioned before, an increasing number of forward thinking, mostly liberal arts colleges no longer require the SAT for admission, including Connecticut College and Bard; the latter, I believe now accepts a research paper.  The College Board wants to make the SAT more relevant and less easily gamed by making the essay optional and the multiple choice questions more realistic that would require kids to support their answers with evidence.  And in an attempt level the playing field in terms of access to preparatory resources, the SAT has had discussions with Khan Academy to provide free test prep for students.

Despite these encouraging developments, I am against standardized testing.  My own experiences were anything but pleasant having taking both the ACT and the GRE back as a young lad in the 80’s. I bought the exam books, took a bunch of practice exams, learned how to take multiple choice tests – no, choosing C for every answer is not generally productive.  I memorized a bunch of words, brushed up on my math, science, history and English and made just the scores I needed and not a point more.  Believe me, I’m not a very good test taker because I stress out too much.  But I could always make reasonably intelligent comments in class and have spirited, evidence based discussions with my classmates, or at least those who came to class and were awake.  And I’ve never thought an exam captured what I knew, or how deeply I understood anything.  But there is something that could be a game changer in terms of evaluating college readiness and I’m really surprised schools haven’t tapped into this.  Games!

Candy Crush requires the kind of critical thinking skills that colleges look for in a prospect.  To be successful with Candy Crush, one needs to plan a strategy, select some boosters, and activate a social network for support, all valued skills in our modern world.  The more “competitive” colleges and universities could require a minimum Candy Crush score. In the interview, a candidate might have to demonstrate proficiency at a particular level, say 104 or something. The Candy Crush option might be best suited for the sub/urban chic who dwell in Starbuck’s after school for Iced Hazelnut Macchiatos and the Michigan Cherry Oat Bar. The alternative to Candy Crush, could be Angry birds, best suited perhaps for the nature loving birder type who also likes to hunt wild hogs for adventure.  Level 230 and up might be deemed college material.