Monday, September 20, 2010

Mia Culpa, Mia Maxima Culpa, 2010

Due Diligence...
The timing may seem strange, folks usually review their predictions right after the season. As I prepare to rollout my alphabetically correct Big East team previews, I pause to look at mine to remind myself about what I don't know. And to allow the reader to guage the size of the grain of salt with which to take my team projections for 2011...

2009-10 ActualProj.
Notre Dame1080.556723
Seton Hall990.5001033
St. John's6120.6661343
South Florida990.500934
West Virginia1350.722211

Let Your Light So Shine...
Consistent with the "truism" I posted about before the 2009 season, very successful and very unsuccessful programs are pretty easy to recognize and rank relative to the others. Recognizing the teams that would struggle was easier than the ones that would not in 2010 apparently, as I was 3 for 4 on Fourth Quartile teams. The miss was South Florida, which managed a rush at the end of the season to go 7-4 through the last 2/3s of it's conference schedule and finish with a 9-9 record. That run included a 3 game winning streak to close out the regular season. That run garnered the Bulls an NIT bid. My First Quartile picks on the other hand, were a bit...less successful. I placed West Virginia and Villanova correctly, but misjudged both Louisville (by a little) and Connecticut (by a lot). Maybe I underestimated the impact of various distractions that beset both programs going into the 2010 season. While most of my (many) misses were by a quartile (high or low), UConn was a two quartile whiff.

The middle two quartiles were brutal, I correctly placed only two of the eight teams that were seeded #5 through #12 in the Big East Tournament. In all but UConn I was off (high or low) by a single quartile. Ugh...

Misses Mostly...
In the Second and Third Quartiles, I underestimated (Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Marquette and Notre Dame) more than overestimated (Cincinnati and St. John's). I looked for Lance Stephenson to have a greater impact than he eventually had. Another example of overvaluing freshman contributions, I guess. And I overvalued the Johnnies' junior class (or was it the staff?). Speculation over the past two or so off seasons has been whether the program's inability to make progress was due to the players or the coaching staff. With the coaching changeover in the off season, 2011's results should settle that argument. I believe it was the staff, but we will see. All I can say about Marquette is that Buzz Williams is a keeper, and the same goes for Pitt's Jamie Dixon. Hopefully both coaches will see their schools as destinations rather than stepping stones. If Coach Dixon "breaks through" to the Final Four the Pitt administration will have to fight off another army of fat-walleted suitors. Hype about transfers and freshmen tend not to be true most times. 2010 was unusual in that there were two, Wes Johnson at Syracuse, and Jordan Crawford at Xavier, who really did elevate their respective programs. In both cases there was a very solid nucleus in place, and each player was became the difference between a good season and a great season.

What's Next
I will post team previews at three to four day intervals (more or less). I have been working on a few other topics and ideas over the past two months, so there should be a other, intervening posts as well.

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