Head to Head look at 8 Games Ahead


Down to 16 teams – 8 games over the next few days to whittle it down to the elite 8.  Here’s a look at the history of the 8 matchups.

  1. Loyola-Chicago v. Nevada. The two teams have never met.
  2. Kansas v. Kentucky. Kansas remarkably has never beaten Kentucky in 7 tries.  The two teams last met in the Second Round in 2014 with Kentucky winning 56-49.
  3. Florida State v. Gonzago.  Florida State is 0-1 against the Zags.  The last time the teams played was in the First Round of the 2010 tournament with the Zags winning 67-60.
  4. Michigan v. Texas A&M. The teams last met 56 years ago in a game the Wolverines won 82-79.
  5. Villanova v. West Virginia. Villanova is 22-20 against the Mountaineers. They last met in 2011 with West Virginia winning 83-69.
  6. Texas Tech v. Purdue. The teams have only met twice with the Boilermakers winning both contests. They last met in 1988 with Purdue winning 63-54.
  7. Kansas v. Clemson. Oddly, the two teams have never met.
  8. Syracuse v. Duke. The two teams have met 11 times with Duke winning 6 of the meetings. They last met in February with Duke winning in convincing fashion 60-44.

NCAA Conference Madness

From the disheveled old growth oak Sports Desk of Ribbie’s Weblog

Now down to the Sweet 16 of the 2015 Men’s NCAA Basketball tournament, let’s have a look at the conferences that remain.  The 16 teams represent 8 different conferences, the number of teams left for each is in parenthesis.

  1. ACC (5)
  2. PAC 12 (3)
  3. Big 12 (2)
  4. Big 10 (2)
  5. Big East (1)
  6. Missouri Valley (1)
  7. SEC (1)
  8. West Coast (1)

But there’s something odd about these conferences to which which no one seems to be paying any attention.  And the oddity is this: they are not true to their names, most of them anyway.  Let’s look at the conferences still standing in the Sweet 16 and have a peek at a few more.

  • The PAC 12 Conference actually only has 11 teams, so why isn’t it the PAC 11?
  • The Big 10 is way out of whack with 14 teams in the conference.
  • And get this, the Big 12 isn’t so big after all and should be renamed the Big 10; boy wouldn’t that be confusing – two conferences with the same name, or the Big 10 could become the Big 14.  Or the two conferences could merge and become the Big 24.
  • Now the West Coast Conference is curious in that member BYU in Provo, Utah is no where near a coast, let alone the West Coast.
  • Look at the ACC.  Most of the schools are no where near the Atlantic Coast, except Boston College.  Notre Dame is nearer the Great Lakes and Louisville closer to the Mississippi River and nearly 1,000 miles from the Atlantic Coast.  Both schools are more geographically suited to be in the Mid American Conference.
  • And as far as the SEC goes, Missouri would be hard pressed to prove its Southeasterness.  Arkansas switched from the Southwest Conference to the Southeastern Conference.  Geographically speaking, Arkansas belongs in the Southland, Southern or SWAC.
  • I don’t know how tiny Creighton of Omaha, NE became a member of the Big East; it is neither big nor east.  Go figure.
  • Though not a conference with any teams still in the tourney, the Atlantic 10 now has 12 schools.  And not sure how St. Louis became a member, being no where close to the Atlantic, Mid Atlantic or even Atlanta for that matter.

Let the March Madness continue!

2015 March Madness Sweet 16 Fun Factoids and Matchups

Updated 3/25/2015

From the cluttered Sports Desk of Ribbie’s Weblog, here are some fun factoids about the 2015 NCAA Sweet 16 and some intriguing matchups to consider for the Final Four and Finals.

  • 5 of the 16 teams or 31% are from the ACC:  Louisville, NC State, Notre Dame, Duke and UNC.
  • There could be an all ACC final four: UNC (West), Duke (South), Notre Dame (Midwest) and either NC State (East) or Lousiville (East)
  • If UNC, Duke and NC St. make it to the Final Four, there’d be three North Carolina teams from the ACC.
  • All NC Final: UNC v Duke, UNC v NC State
  • All people mascots/nicknames Final Four: Sooners (East), Fighting Irish (Midwest), Musketeers (East), Utes (South)
  • PAC 12 Final: Arizona v. Utah or Arizona v. UCLA
  • Big 12 Final: Oklahoma v. West Virginia
  • 7 of UCLA’s 11 losses this year were to Sweet 16 teams including a loss to Gonzaga by 13 and a 39 point loss to Kentucky.
  • 7 of North Carolina’s 11 losses this year were also to Sweet 16 teams including a 14 point loss to Kentucky.
  • Utah went 0-2 against Arizona and was 1-1 against UCLA.
  • 2 of Duke’s 4 losses were to Notre Dame.
  • Michigan State lost to Wisconsin twice, including an overtime loss by 11 points.
  • Oklahoma lost to Wisconsin earlier in the season and went 1-1 against West Virginia.
  • 6 of Louisville’s 8 losses were to Sweet 16 teams including going 1-2 against North Carolina and losing to NC State in their only meeting during the year.
  • Two ACC teams face off in the Sweet 16:  Louisville and NC State
  • ACC Finals:  ND v Duke, ND v Lou, ND v NC St; UNC v Duke, UNC v Lou, UNC v NC St
  • Underdogs Final Four: UCLA (11), North Carolina State (8), Wichita State (7), Xavier Musketeers (6)
  • Underdog Final:  UCLA v Wichita State
  • Straight Final Four – 1234:  Kentucky (1), Gonzaga (2), Oklahoma (3), North Carolina (4)
  • Straight Final Four – 4567:  Louisville (4), Utah (5), Xavier Musketeers (6), Wichita State (7)
  • Two Pairs Final Four – Duke (1) Wisconsin (1) Michigan State (7) Wichita State (7)
  • Number of players on Kentucky’s Roster from Kentucky: 3
  • Number of players on West Virginia’s Roster from West Virginia: 4
  • Homegrown talent: North Carolina – 9 players on roster from NC
  • Importers:  Arizona – 9 players from California
  • Gonzaga has two 7-1 players and 5 players from 4 different countries: Canada, Poland, Lithuania, Brazil

Arkansas and UNC: a Preview and Prediction


The two teams are pretty evenly matched in most categories, except strength of schedule. UNC was 7-10 against ranked teams during the regular season.  By contrast, Arkansas played only 2 teams that made the round of 32:  Dayton and Kentucky, beating the Flyers and falling twice to the Wildcats.  With common opponents, Arkansas is 1-4 beating Wake Forest and losing to Florida, Clemson and Kentucky twice.  UNC is 3-1 beating Clemson, Florida and Wake Forest and losing to Kentucky by 14 points.

And while Kentucky is arguably the more battle tested team, Arkansas may have an edge with its press.  UNC is more of a  turnover prone team and may be bothered by constant pressure.  However, it should be noted that Arkansas’ press had zero impact on Wofford in their second round meeting; the Terriers only turned the ball over 7 times.  In fact, Arkansas turned the ball over more than Wofford; It turns out that turnovers in basketball are less of a factor than turnovers in football.  In half of the 32 games in the second round, the loser committed fewer turnovers than the victor.  Case in point:  Coastal Carolina only committed 6 turnovers and still lost to Wisconsin by 14 points.

The Razorbacks and the Tar Heels have a history in the tournament dating back to 1990, each with 2 wins and 2 losses.  Arkansas will be looking to take revenge for being blownout the last time they met Carolina at the Big Dance in 2008. Simply put, the Hogs are hungry.

In the 2015 edition of the tournament, with all the passing, fouling, poor shooting and strong defense we’ve seen so far from most of the teams, look for a low scoring and very close game.  And look for Arkansas to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1996:  AR 66 – UNC 63.

Let the madness continue! #Marchmadness #WPS

And then there were 32

From the Sports Desk of Ribbie’s Weblog, bringing you up-to-the day coverage of stuff not so typically covered.

  • Of the 16 games to be played in the third round, the combined seeding numbers for 12 of them equal 9.
  • One game in the South Region has a total seed number of 25:  UCLA (11) v UAB (14)
  • Breakdown of the 32 by seeds:  All the 1, 2, 4, 5 and 8 seeds remain.  3 7th seeded teams are still alive.  2 of the 2 seeds made it. Just 1 10 seed survived:  Ohio State.  There are 2 each 11 and 14 seeds that made it to third round:  UCLA, Dayton, UAB and Georgia State.  All the 9, 12, 13, 15 and 16 seeds were knocked out.
  • By Conference with two or more teams:  ACC (6), Big Ten (5), Pac 12 (4), Big 12 (3), Missouri Valley (2), SEC (2)
  • Three of the ACC teams still alive are in the East Region:  Louisville, NC State and Virginia
  • By state:  Ohio (4), NC (3), 2: KY, CA, IN, KS, IA.  Texas started with 5 but all were eliminated in the 2nd round.
  • By mascot with two or more:  Northern Iowa Panthers, Georgia State Panthers; Butler Bulldogs, Gonzaga Bulldogs; Kentucky Wildcats, Arizona Wildcats, Villanova Wildcats
  • In the “West” Region, Georgia State (14) from Atlanta practically plays a home game in Jacksonville against Xavier (6) from Cincinnati.  5 hour drive from Atlanta; 12 hour drive from Cincinnati.
  • Dayton, the 11 seed in the “East” Region, will practically play a home game in Columbus vs. the 3 seed Oklahoma. Dayton is about an hour from Columbus.  Norman to Columbus is a good 13 hour plus drive.
  • Easiest region remaining as calculated by combined seeds:  South (52)
  • Toughest region remaining as calculated by combined seeds: Midwest (36)
  • All the tops seeded teams are playing the 8th seed.  And all the winners will play either a 4 or 5 seed in the Sweet 16.
  • Two teams from Indiana face off in the Midwest Regional third round:  Notre Dame (South Bend) and Butler (Indianapolis) If Butler makes it to the Final Four, they would have a clear home court advantage.
  • Two second round games played in the South Regional in Louisville had the same final score:  UCLA 60 SMU 59; UAB 60 Iowa St. 59.
  • In the 32 2nd round games, half of the losing teams had fewer turnovers than the winning team.  Coastal Carolina had the fewest turnovers in a losing effort:  6.  Wofford, Harvard and Albany all lost with just 7 turnovers.
  • Baylor had the distinction of committing the most turnovers in a second round game: 21

Let the madness play on.  #Marchmadness

2015 NCAA Tourney 2nd Round Odds and Ends

From the Sports Desk of Ribbie’s Weblog, your source for twisted coverage of March Madness.  Here are some stats and facts you might not have seen yet:

  • The lowest winning score in a game:  56 – (3): Arkansas, Dayton, Butler
  • The lowest combined score in a game: 104 – Butler 56 – Texas 48.
  • Lowest losing score in a game:  48 – Texas
  • Highest number of bids by state: 5 – Texas and Indiana
  • Most # of loses by a state in second round play:  5 Texas – Texas, Texas Southern, Baylor, Stephen F. Austin, SMU
  • Highest scoring game:  BYU 90 v Ole Miss 94 (First Round)
  • Most teams by conference still alive:  6:  ACC, Big East, Big Ten
  • Most teams by state still alive: 4 – Ohio: Cincy,  Dayton, OSU, Xavier; IN: Indy, Valpo, Butler, Notre Dame NC:  UNC, Davidson, Duke, NC St.
  • Rhyming Couplet Matchup:

The high and mighty Dayton Flyers

Will play the saintly Providence Friars

Stay tuned for continued “coverage” of or more aptly, musing, rantings and ravings on the 2015 NCAA Hoops Tournament.  Let the madness continue!

2015 NCAA First Four – Bird of Prey vs. Founding Father

Robert Morris

JS Bach

The Robert Morris Colonials play the North Florida Ospreys in one of the first games of the NCAA tournament in what is known as the First Four Round. It’s a play-in essentially to the Second Round, with the winner of the game playing the top seeded team from the South, Duke. So who wins? A Colonial versus an Osprey.  A formidable bird of prey should have no problem with an colonial unless said colonial is armed with a hunting rifle.  But the colonial in question was not just any colonial, he, Robert Morris to be precise was a founding father and U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.  A man who bears a striking resemblance to J.S. Bach, Morris was said to have largely financed the American Revolution but ironically landed in debtors prison some years later. Given the outcome, I would have thought he’d have gotten a more favorable return on his investment.

Morris lived in Philadelphia just a stone’s throw from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, a wildlife preserve for birds of prey in Kempton, PA.   As a prolific dealer in land, and a Naval proponent, I have to believe that Mr. Morris had enormous respect for wildlife and birds.  As such, I do not believe he would have any animosity toward the Osprey.  Nor do I believe the Osprey have any particular qualms with Robert Morris or other humans as these particular hawk species only attack and eat fish.

What this all means in terms of the game is that both Robert Morris and North Florida will play defensively and try to control the pace, but not bloody the opponent.  It will be a low scoring game – say 56-55, North Florida winning in a squeaker, or squawker as it were or will be.

More Obscure 2014 Final Four Facts

  • Number of states players represent on Final Four rosters: 19
  • State breakdown:  FL (8); KY (6); WI (6); IL (5); NY (4); TX (3); CA (2); CT (2); MA (2); NC (2); NJ (2); OH (2); TN (2); IA, KS, MD, MI, MN, VA (1)
  • Number of players under 6 feet:  2
  • Shortest player: 5-9 Brian Long of Kentucky
  • Number of players from Brooklyn, NY: 4
  • Number of players on rosters from an opposing team’s state:  1 – CT player from Wisconsin
  • The Final Four was last held near Arlington (in Dallas) in 1986.
  • Number of Kentucky players from Texas: 3
  • Connecticut lost to SMU in Dallas on January 4, 2014.

2014 Fun Final Four Team Roster Facts



Final Four appearances by coach.  Bold = championships:

  • John Calipari: 5 (1996, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014)
  • Number of teams Calipari has taken to the Final Four: 3 (UMass, Memphis, Kentucky)
  • Number of appearances vacated by NCAA violations: 2 – (1996, 2008)
  • Billy Donovan: 4 (2000, 2006, 2007, 2014) all with Florida
  • Bo Ryan: 1 (2014) Wisconsin
  • Kevin Ollie: 1 (2014) UConn
  • Number of 7 footers at the big dance:  4 – Kentucky (2), Wisconsin (1), UConn (1), Florida (0)
  • Team with most homegrown players:  Florida (8)
  • Team with most International players:  UConn 4 (Ghana, Jamaica, Germany (2))
  • Teams with no international players: Kentucky and Wisconsin
  • Team with 3 players from Brooklyn:  UConn
  • All American team: Kentucky with 9 players from different states.
  • Only team to finish 1st in conference play:  Florida (SEC)

Let the dance begin!


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.