Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now


Archive for the ‘Basketball’


Never Mind RPI: Behind The Logic of The Bracket 0

Posted on March 05, 2015 by Ashley Andrews
There is no doubt that Kentucky will be at the top of the bracket when the NCAA Tournament bids are announced on March 15tth.

There is no doubt that Kentucky will be at the top of the bracket when the NCAA Tournament bids are announced on March 15tth.

The schedule says that the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament starts on St. Patrick’s Day, but the ongoing action up until that day can be the real March Madness. The migration from locks, bubbles, and outsiders continues right up until the last whistle of the last conference tournament, and the tiny window in which the committee assimilates all that information into a bracket is arguably the maddest time of March.

Teams like Kentucky, Virginia, and Wisconsin are unlikely to get a surprise come Selection Sunday, regardless of how their final couple of games turn out. But there is much more that goes into settling the field for play, especially starting with the two and three seeds. Before the men’s NCAA basketball tournament hits the airwaves, the committee is hitting the books to set it up. Here’s what (might) be going through their minds:

Peaking At The Right Time
Coaches use this term all the time. They just mean they’re hoping their team is playing their best basketball of the season when March arrives.

The committee wants these teams. They are likely to provide clemency to early sputters. Kansas can write off its early mugging by Kentucky, for example, because their recent results have been far more in line with what’s expected from a premiere team. And early season rankings are disproved annually. Strong play at the end of the regular season and in the conference tournament carries considerably more weight that early-season jitter games. The reason is obvious: Teams that come into March like a lion will provide the most exciting games and the best chance at a deep tournament run.

Losses, Yes. But To Whom?
Herein lies the debate over relative strength of conferences. Gonzaga has been dinged repeatedly for being dominant only because the West Coast Conference is not exactly viewed as hoops heaven, a criticism verified by BYU’s defeat of Mark Few’s squad.

Meanwhile, a different ocean laps against the shores of many of the ACC’s home states, the arena where Duke, UNC, Louisville, and their mates (including Syracuse, which is taking a mulligan on postseason play this year as self-imposed sanctions for compliance no-no’s) have locked up like combative rams in arguably one of the most brutal conferences in the country. Coming out of that fray with four losses will likely shine more brightly from the bracket than only a couple of blemishes in other locales.

But what of the SEC? Georgia head coach Mark Fox insists that the league is being downgraded because Kentucky is clobbering all of them, but that after the Wildcats there’s a high level of parity and quality in the league. Meanwhile there are thousands of fans screaming about the legitimacy of smaller leagues, the home of Cinderella.

Tickets, Please. Tickets. And Ratings, Too.
When it all shakes out, we have to face the reality that the NCAA–non-profit organization or not–is looking to make money. Venues cost money. Officials cost money. Security, staff, hotels, everything involved in the tournament is expensive, and the only way to cover these costs is to make sure that fans are in the seats. A no-friction road to the Final Four, especially in a distant regional arena, could spur many fans to skip early rounds and wait on their favorite to get to Indianapolis. The NCAA doesn’t want that. They want interest in those early games. So the committee may choose to set up a challenge for high seeds that fans may feel is unwarranted, strictly to ensure that those fans come to the games. This could be how seedings mysteriously drift downward for favorites and/or upward for dark horses. A 4/13 game is considerably more worrisome to fans of the favorite than the 1/16 arrangement, which since its 1985 inception has never seen an upset.

The same thing that sells tickets also turns on televisions, and viewership pays the broadcasters’ hefty bills–including those to the NCAA itself. The selection committee must make sure there’s intriguing TV to be had.

These are matters that aren’t settled on the court but in the conference room. While some fans may feel that the bracket should be established with nothing but hard basketball facts, the reality is that the committee must take some of these factors into consideration to keep the tournament accurate and, perhaps most important, financially sound.

Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors are the NBA Midseason Leaders, But Will They Be Standing in June? 6

Posted on January 31, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors have the NBA turned upside down.

Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors have the NBA turned upside down.

At the halfway point of the 2014-2015 NBA season the league seems to be turned upside down.

The best records in the league are held by the Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors, two teams with marginal pedigrees.

The Warriors last hoisted the NBA championship trophy 40 years ago when Rick Barry and Jamaal Wilkes led the way.

The last championship won by the Hawks was in 1958 when the team was based in St. Louis and Bob Pettit was the quintessential NBA star.

Conversely, two teams with nearly half of the titles in NBA history between them, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, are out of contention and already looking at next season.

According to top sports betting sites listed at www.sportsbettingacumen.com, the Warriors and Hawks are now among the favorites to win the NBA title.

However, given that neither team has a great track record of playoff performance, it is hard to slot them in as the likely finalists just yet.

Even with a 36-8 mark to start the season and two legitimate stars in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, it will be tough for the Warriors to make it out of the tough Western Conference. With seven teams in the conference already with 30 victories, the Phoenix Suns close behind (28 wins) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (23-23) now healthy and likely to push for a spot in the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry →

The Sixers Aren’t That Bad 5

Posted on January 11, 2015 by Mike Brest
Michael Carter-Williams has shown glimpses of greatness for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Michael Carter-Williams is a double-double threat every night, but must improve his shooting consistency if he wants to be an NBA star .

Philadelphia 76ers’ owner Josh Harris changed the franchise forever on May 14th, 2013. That was the day he hired Sam Hinkie to be the team’s general manager. It didn’t take long for Hinkie to make a name for himself. His first bold move took place on draft day. He traded the only all-star on the team, Jrue Holiday, to the New Orleans Pelicans for a top-five protected first round draft pick for the next year and Nerlens Noel. Noel was in the mix to go number one overall before tearing his ACL during the college basketball season. Later in the draft, the Sixers used the eleventh pick to select point guard Michael Carter-Williams out of Syracuse University.

The 2013 76ers were just as bad as advertised under first year head coach Brett Brown. Philadelphia actually shocked the world, winning the team’s first three games, what were the odds of that? but it was all downhill from there. During the season, the 76ers tied the NBA record for most consecutive losses (26). Hinkie was busy on the day of the trade deadline. Center Spencer Hawes was sent to Cleveland, while center Lavoy Allen and guard Evan Turner were dealt to Indiana. Philadelphia received a couple players and draft picks in return. The 76ers finished the season 19-63 for the second worst record in the league.

The 2014 draft was vital for Sam Hinkie and the organization. The Sixers selected Kansas freshman Joel Embiid third overall. Embiid, a 7 foot Cameroon native, was expected to be the top pick before injuries ended his only season as a Jayhawk. Many analysts have called him a franchise changer, and he’s been compared to Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon. He has not played a game this season and in all likelihood, won’t. It’s the same route Noel took last year. With the Pelicans pick from the Holiday deal, they selected Elfrid Payton tenth overall. Philly immediately traded Payton to the Magic for their selection (which was two picks later) Dario Saric. Saric is only 20 years old and is currently playing in Turkey. He’s under contract for the next two seasons in Turkey. Saric has the skill set of a point guard even though he’s 6 foot 10. He’s able to push the ball in transition and is very versatile. Saric won Euroleague MVP for the month of November. He will be able to join the Sixers in 2016. In the second round of the draft the 76ers selected K.J. McDaniels, Jerami Grant, and Jordan McRae (once they made some trades). Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering Sports Greats Lost in 2014 5

Posted on December 31, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Earl Morrall spent 22 seasons in the NFL and helped lead the Miami Dolphins to a perfect record in 1972.

Earl Morrall spent 21 seasons in the NFL and helped lead the Miami Dolphins to a perfect record in 1972.

One inevitable component of the end of the year is reflecting on those who we lost during the previous year. As always, we said goodbye to many sports greats during 2014.

Below are brief remembrances of just a few of those who passed away in 2014. Click here to check out a more comprehensive list.

Jean Beliveau – Hockey Hall of Famer – 83 years old
A member of the Montreal Canadiens for 20 years and a member of the NHL Hall of Fame, Jean Beliveau helped lead his team to 10 Stanley Cup Championships and is considered by many as one of the 10 greatest players in NHL history.

Rob Bironas – NFL Kicker – 36 years old
After bouncing around the Arena Football League and several NFL tryouts, Rob Bironas finally got his shot with the Tennessee Titans in 2005 and was their kicker for nine seasons before being released prior to the 2014 season. He developed into a Pro Bowl kicker and scored 1,032 points while converting 85.7% of his field goal attempts.

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter – Professional Boxer – 76 years old
Best known by many for the feature film “The Hurricane” in which Denzel Washington chronicled his life as a professional boxer and 20 years in prison, Rubin Carter had a career record of 27-12-1 as a middleweight and lost to Joey Giardello in his only championship bought. He was twice convicted of a triple murder, but the conviction was eventually overturned and Carter became a champion for those wrongly accused of crimes. Read the rest of this entry →

NBA Turns Up The Heat on Christmas Day 2

Posted on December 25, 2014 by Andre Smith
The NBA has used Christmas Day games as an opportunity to unveil new fashion. No telling what LeBron will be wearing this year.

The NBA has used Christmas Day games as an opportunity to unveil new fashion. No telling what LeBron will be wearing this year.

Christmas is the time of the year when most people’s thoughts have turned to celebration and relaxation with family and friends. For many professional athletes, however, it marks the busiest period of the year.

Festive fixtures are a much-loved part of the sporting calendar in the UK. The English Premier League is the highest profile soccer tournament not to take a break over the holidays—often causing consternation among the foreign players and managers that ply their trade in the competition, who are not used to the rash of matches. Spain, Germany, Italy, France and others all shut down their soccer leagues for a week or so.

But Christmas sport regularly offers wonderful entertainment for spectators and television viewers.

Crunch fixtures occurred over the holidays in both the NHL and NFL, and College Football’s schedule was also packed. However, it is the NBA in particular which provided a visual feast for sports fans in 2014, with no less than FIVE matches televised live on Christmas Day.

Cleveland Cavaliers matchup with Miami Heat took headline status, with the intrigue of former Heat favorite LeBron James returning to Miami in his second stint for the Cavaliers. The watching TV millions would have been expecting to enjoy the best match of the day as they celebrate the season of goodwill.

The Christmas Day Basketball match tradition began in 1947 when the, now defunct, Providence Steamrollers lost 89-75 to the New York Knicks. It was probably in 2004, though, when Christmas Day was chosen as the showcase day for the NBA’s best fixtures. Read the rest of this entry →

Is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the Greatest Player of All-Time? 3

Posted on November 26, 2014 by Jeremy Biberdorf
Kareem Abdul-Jabaar's famous sky hook was nearly impossible to stop.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s famous sky hook was nearly impossible to stop.

If you had to pick out one basketball star that deserves the title of the greatest player of all time – then the name of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is definitely on the shortlist.

Once in a while, there are players in all kinds of different sports who just seem to re-write the way the game is played – along with the record books – and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was most certainly such a player.

One might say the same about the great Pele or perhaps Diego Maradona in the world of soccer, for example – or perhaps Jack Nicklaus or maybe even Tiger Woods in golf. And in tennis both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have been re-writing the record books over the last decade between them. These are all players and sportsmen who learn their trade in the same way as everyone else trying to make it in their chosen sport – then somehow do something different again. It’s not just about being better – it’s about doing things differently than anyone else ever has done before, and taking things to a whole new level.

Perhaps the most obvious aspect of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s game that no-one else had really done was that trademark skyhook shot that punished so many opponents so badly during the player’s 20 year basketball career.

But it was more than that; he played with sublimity – with an elegance and style that few other players have ever been able to match, if any.

Another of his trademarks was to play down low. He looked like he was hunting as he crouched with the ball, looking up from underneath his spectacles that he usually played in – and he was completely single-minded in achieving what he was setting out to do; score points and win games. But he did it all with grace and style and a wonderful fluidity of movement that is the hallmark of so many great players in different sports. It’s rather like watching someone doing exactly what they were born to do – moving with grace and speed like a predatory big cat in a way that is far more about instinct than it is about conscious thought.

By the time Abdul-Jabbar decided to quit basketball in 1989 at the grand old age of 42, no NBA basketball player had ever scored as many points or been awarded as many ‘Most Valuable Player’ awards, or blocked more shots. He had even played in more All-Star Games and notched up more seasons than any other player in NBA history. So when we say that he re-wrote the record books, this is no throwaway sycophancy from an appreciative audience of basketball fans – it is, quite simply, a literal truth. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Follow Us Online

  • Check out the best free bets at freebets4all. Learn how to convert online bookmakers free bets into guaranteed cash using the matched betting technique.

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

  • SportsNation Pick!


    Sports Then and Now was very proud to be selected as ESPN's SportsNation Site of the Day on January 28, 2010! Click here to check out the video!
  • Sign up for Email Updates

    Sign-up to get daily updates of all the great articles and information on Sports Then and Now.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • No Deposit Bonus Codes

    Affordable Satellite TV Great prices on Dish network packages.

  • Gear up for your next trip with new North Face Backpacks from SportsUnlimited.com. Shop great Field Hockey Sticks from Grays & Gryphon.

    Football Jerseys

  • Weekly Poll

    Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
  • Post Categories



↑ Top