Archive for November, 2010

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College Basketball Rankings 11/28/2010

November 29, 2010

Last week’s rankings in brackets:

TOP 25

1. Duke (6-0): Duke survived it’s first tests of the season edging a possible tourney team from Marquette and easily handling #4 Kansas State. [1]

2. Ohio State (5-0): Looking forward to seeing what these guys can do against a stretch of good teams. [3]

3. Pittsburgh (7-0): Panthers still cruising after a good start to the season. [4]

4. Kansas (6-0): The Jayhawks got their first test of the season and beat a good Arizona team, plus Josh Selby is eligible soon, so these guys are just going to get better. [6]

5. Kansas State (5-1): KSU took a pretty bad loss against Duke, but hey, that’s the number one team in the nation and Kansas State already has a couple good wins under their belt (Gonzaga, Virginia Tech). [4]

6. Connecticut (5-0): Talk about a statement. UCONN headed into last week unranked by everyone and projected to finish in the bottom half of the Big East by most publications. Apparently, Kemba Walker and Alex Oriachi disagreed; UCONN toppled a good Wichita State team, #2 Michigan State, and #9 Kentucky en route to winning the Maui Invitational and Walker looked like the most dominant player in the nation. I’ve never heard of an unranked team jumping this far up the rankings, but I can’t see how you can rank them lower. They are #1 in the RPI rankings, #1 in strength of schedule, and they’re still undefeated. I could see an argument for them being in the top 5. I can’t wait to see what the AP does with them tomorrow. [Unranked]

7. Michigan State (5-1): It’s interesting how these rankings work. Michigan State lost to unranked UCONN, which is going to plummet them from the #2 spot. But… starting tomorrow, losing to Connecticut isn’t going to be so bad. Go figure. The Spartans did bounce back by edging PAC-10 favorite Washington. [2]

8. Syracuse (6-0): Still waiting for this team to play someone good. I doubt this is a top 10 team. They’re playing very tight games against some mediocre schools. [8]

9. Florida (5-1): Gators jump up a few spots and got a decent win under their belt today (vs. Florida State). [12]

10. Memphis (5-0): Hmmm… is Memphis really a top 10 team? Hard to say, but they’ve beat two teams from major conferences and play Kansas, Georgetown, and Tennessee before entering conference play, so we’ll know for sure after that stretch. [13]

11. Kentucky (4-1): Like Michigan State, the Wildcats fell victim to The Kemba Walker Show this past week. However, also like Michigan State, they notched a win over Washington. Plus, Terrence Jones looks damn good… there was hype around him in the preseason, but he could wind up being an All-American and top 3 draft pick this year. [7]

12. Baylor (4-0): Undefeated, but untested. [14]

13. Illinois (6-1): Easy week for the Illini. [15]

14. Georgetown (6-0): Same for the Hoyas. [17]

15. Tennessee (5-0): I hate on the Volunteers every year and they consistently prove me wrong. I was hoping to drop them out of the Top 25 this week; instead they had the best week of any team not named Connecticut. The Vols are #2 in RPI rankings and #7 in strength of schedule. The AP had them #24 last week, but they should be right around here now. I was tempted to rank them even higher than this. [18]

16. Minnesota (6-0): Minnesota maintains after a surprisingly strong start. [19]

17. Villanova (5-1): Just when I bite the bullet and bump Villanova up my rankings, they get upset by Tennessee. [10]

18. Purdue (5-1): I wanted to believe that Purdue could survive as a top ten team without Robbie Hummel, but I felt an impending sense of doom surrounding this team. They hadn’t played anybody special and I thought Richmond might upset them and they did exactly that. Richmond’s a good team, but that’s a game Purdue needs to win. [9]

19. Gonzaga (3-2): The Zags took another loss, but salvaged their top 25 spot with a win over Marquette. [16]

20. Washington (3-2): As a Huskies fan, this was a heartbreaking week. After absolutely demolishing Virginia, the Huskies played a mediocre game against Kentucky and still hung in there until the last couple minutes. They followed that up with a solid showing against Michigan State and barely lost that one. Even though UW took two tough losses, they still showed they are a team to be reckoned with. They’ll climb back up these rankings soon enough. I hope! [11]

21. San Diego State (6-0): Maintaining… [23]

22. Missouri (5-0): I’m waiting for Missouri to lose a game so I can say “Ha!” but it hasn’t happened. Still, I refuse to move a team I don’t really believe in up the rankings until they beat someone worth talking about. [22]

23. Texas (5-1): The Longhorns nearly lost to Rice this weekend, but knuckled up for the win to hold their top 25 spot. [24]

24. BYU (6-0): BYU fell out of my rankings last week, but made it back after going 3-0 this week with wins over South Florida and a St. Mary’s team that I wanted to put here. [Unranked]

25. UNLV (6-0): UNLV has officially played their way onto the national radar with big wins over Wisconsin and Virginia Tech. [Unranked]

DROPPED OUT

Butler
North Carolina
Virginia Tech

NOTES

*Temple, a team that was in the top 25 in both the AP and ESPN polls, took two losses this week. They’ll be unranked tomorrow and I feel kind of smart.

*North Carolina won both their games this week, but they still drop out because they haven’t beaten anyone good, lost to two unranked teams, and, after last year, it’s time to show and prove for UNC.

*I wouldn’t be shocked to see Notre Dame ranked tomorrow. They have a pretty impressive early resume for a team no one was talking about, notching wins over California, Georgia, and Wisconsin already.

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College Basketball Rankings

November 22, 2010

Previous ranking in brackets:

1. Duke (3-0) – Easy going so far for the reigning champs. First week of December looks tough though: Michigan State and Butler. [1]

2. Michigan State (2-0) – Part of the Maui Invitational this week in a field that features Kentucky, Washington, Connecticut, and Wichita State. [2]

3. Ohio State (3-0) – Just as strong as I thought they’d be. They already crushed #9 Florida. [3]

4. Pittsburgh (5-0) – A big jump up the rankings for the Panthers. Not only do they have five wins already, but they’ve notched victories over tough Maryland and Texas teams. [9]

5. Kansas State (3-0) – The Wildcats already own a decisive win over a ranked team from Virginia Tech. [5]

6. Kansas (3-0) – Josh Selby has been declared eligible (after nine games I think) and the Jayhawks have been crushing teams without him… including North Texas, a tournament team last year. [6]

7. Kentucky (2-0) – I’m iffy about this ranking… KU has looked dominant so far, but they haven’t played anybody and losing Enes Kanter drops them in this week’s rankings. Brandon Knight and Terrance Jones have been great though and this week’s Maui Invitational will determine if this team is legit. [4]

8. Syracuse (4-0) – The Orange move up in the rankings, but they’re pretty lucky to do so. William & Mary gave them a run for their money and shooting 36.7% from the field isn’t going to get the job done against good teams. Plus Fab Melo has been a non-factor. [10]

9. Purdue (3-0) – Oakland put up a good fight against the Boilermakers today and we probably won’t really know what this Purdue team is made of without Robbie Hummel until they face off against Virginia Tech on Dec. 1st. [7]

10. Villanova (4-0) – I think I missed the mark on this one in my initial rankings; ‘Nova is deep and talented. [14]

11. Washington (2-0) – The Huskies have been putting up some serious points and look to be severely underrated on the national level. Beating Virginia and Kentucky in the Maui Invitational would change that… and a win over MSU in the championship would open a lot of eyes. [12]

12. Florida (3-1) – Losing to Ohio State doesn’t hurt that much and it’s not like the Gators didn’t play them tough most of the game. [13]

13. Memphis (4-0) – Already have two victories over schools from major conferences (Miami and LSU). [15]

14. Baylor (3-0) – The Bears get a bump because my initial rankings assumed LaceDarius Dunn wouldn’t play this year. He’s back next week and the core of this team looks great so far.

15. Illinois (4-1) – I had Texas ranked before the season, so an overtime loss to them isn’t terrible, plus the Illini bounced back with a win over Maryland. [17]

16. Gonzaga (2-1) – Losing to San Diego State isn’t a good look, but it’s not a travesty either. It’s not going to get any easier for the Bulldogs: they have games against Kansas State, Illinois, and Baylor in the next three weeks. [10]

17. Georgetown (5-0) [20]

18. Tennessee (3-0) – Hoyas jump ahead of the Volunteers because Tennessee is untested so far and Georgetown has wins over ODU and North Carolina State. [18]

19. Minnesota (5-0) – The Golden Gophers boast the best resume in college basketball right now with wins over North Carolina, West Virginia, and Western Kentucky, all of whom could be NCAA tourney teams come March. Yikes. [unranked]

20. North Carolina (2-2) – Wow. Is this a repeat of last year? I doubt the Tarheels will fall this far in the AP rankings, but they should with two losses against unranked teams already. I saw UNC play Hofstra the other night, and even though it was a decisive win, the Heels looked pretty sloppy outside of Harrison Barnes, and then Barnes went 0-12 from the field against Minnesota. Will the real Tarheels please stand up? I don’t think this team is going to lose 17 games, but this is a bad start. [8]

21. Butler (2-1) – I’ve already heard people gunning for Butler to be dropped out of the top 25, but that seems harsh. It’s not like Louisville is a bunch of slouches and the Bulldogs still boast Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard on their roster. I think Duke is going to destroy them on December 4th, but wins over Siena and Xavier would help make up for the Louisville loss. [16]

22. Missouri (2-0) – I’m still unsure of what to think of this team and I haven’t seen them play yet. Everyone else has them ranked much higher, but I need them to prove it first. [22]

23. San Diego State (4-0) – I had BYU ranked #25 and the Aztecs unranked in my preseason rankings, but after some thought, I decided that San Diego State is going to be the better team and win the Mountain West. With a win over Gonzaga under their belt already, leap-frogging BYU in this week’s rankings not only makes up for my previous mistake, it makes sense too. [unranked]

24. Texas (3-1) – The Longhorns have been impressive so far. Unranked by a lot of publications in the preseason, they’ve already upset #13 Illinois and took #5 Pittsburgh to the buzzer, losing by two points. [24]

25. Virginia Tech (2-1) – A loss to Kansas State doesn’t hurt their stock too much. [21]

Dropped Out:

Wisconsin (2-1) – Lost to unranked UNLV.
BYU (3-0) – Shouldn’t have been ranked in the first place, but they’re right there.

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2010 Baseball Awards

November 5, 2010

Congrats to the San Francisco Giants and their first title in over sixty years. They deserve it. Were they the best team in baseball this year? I don’t think so, but they were the hottest at the most important time and proved that they might have the deepest and most talented rotation in the game. With the World Series behind us, the 2010 MLB Award season is upon us. These aren’t exactly my predictions, just how I would vote myself:

American League MVP

1. Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers: .359-32-100, 95 runs, 8 SB, 1.044 OPS
2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers: .328-38-126, 111 runs, 1.042 OPS
3. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays: .260-54-124, 109 runs, 9 SB, .995 OPS
4. Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox: .312-39-111, 89 runs, .977 OPS
5. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees: .319-29-109, 113 runs, .915 OPS

This is a really close race between the top three candidates, which could have been an easier call if Hamilton hadn’t gotten hurt down the stretch. With Hamilton nursing his injury and Cabrera losing steam in the final month, Bautista exploded in the second half and transformed from the most surprising outbreak of the year into a legitimate MVP candidate and possibly the most entertaining player in all of baseball over the last couple months. After all the dust settled, however, I still had a clear favorite. Hamilton put up ridiculous power numbers while leading the majors in batting average and OPS, plus he’s the only member of the top three to guide his team into the post season. In a race this close, those edges are enough to break a tie.

American League Cy Young

1. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners: 13-12, 2.27 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 232 Ks, 3.31 K to BB ratio
2. Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels: 13-12, 3.01 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 233 Ks, 4.31 K:BB
3. C.C. Sabathia, New York Yankees: 21-7, 3.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 197 Ks, 2.66 K:BB
4. David Price, Tampa Bay Rays: 19-6, 2.72 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 188 Ks, 2.38 K:BB
5. Cliff Lee, Texas Rangers: 12-9, 3.18 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 185 Ks, 10.28 K:BB

The only thing easy about putting together my AL Cy list was deciding who deserves to win it. As baseball has progressed and evolved minds have come to understand that wins and losses are some of the least important factors when considering how dominate a pitcher has been, Felix Hernandez clearly had the best season in the American League and anyone else winning the award would be highway robbery. Not only did Felix lead AL starters in ERA, he did it while pitching more innings than anyone else in the AL and came up two strikeouts short of the leading the league in that category too. As doubtful as I’ve been about Felix actually winning the award, I’m starting to think the voters will get it right because his season was so much better than the competition. I have Weaver ranked second for similar reasons, although I have a feeling he won’t be finishing second in the voting. Sabathia and Price had similar seasons, but I give the edge to C.C. because he’s such an anchor and workhorse for his team. Cliff Lee over Justin Verlander, Jon Lester, Trevor Cahill, and Clay Buccholz might seem outrageous, but his control this season was legendarily good and deserves some kudos. Lastly, I left closers off the list because this is a starters award, just like the MVP is a position player award.

American League Rookie Of The Year

1. Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers: 2.73 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 4 Wins, 40 Saves, 3.94 K:BB
2. Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers: .293-4-41, 103 runs, 27 SB, .745 OPS
3. Wade Davis, Tampa Bay Rays: 12-10, 4.07 ERA, 113 Ks, 1.35 WHIP, 1.82 K:BB

Pretty tough call between the top two guys, but I think Feliz had the more impressive season. While Jackson had a very solid (and somewhat unexpected) rookie year, Feliz was dominant in a high-pressure role as the closer for a contender. I’m sort of bias against closers, but you gotta respect the stat line. That WHIP is ridiculous and the rookie only blew three saves all season. Wade Davis gets my third place vote over Detroit’s Brennan Boesch, whose rookie season really boils down to two good months: .340-11-38 in May and June compared with a season line of .256-14-64.

National League MVP

1. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies: .336-34-117, 111 runs, 26 SBs, .974 OPS
2. Joey Votto, Cincinatti Reds: .325-37-113, 106 runs, 16 SBs, 1.024 OPS
3. Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals: .312-42-118, 115 runs, 14 SBs, 1.010 OPS
4. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals: .312-28-103, 95 runs, 9 SBs, .922 OPS
5. Troy Tulowitski, Colorado Rockies: .315-27-95, 89 runs, 11 SBs, .949 OPS

This has to be the most exciting MVP race of my lifetime. Going in to the last six weeks of the season, CarGo, Votto, and Pujols all had legitimate chances of winning the Triple Crown, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in over forty years. Unfortunately, CarGo took off in batting average while Pujols set the pace in power down the stretch and history wasn’t made. All three of those guys will probably get first place votes, but I’m giving the edge to Gonzalez because his line is the most impressive to me: leading the NL in batting, while posting crazy power numbers, and swiping 26 bases. Tulowitski gets my fifth place vote over some lines that are arguably better, but he also put up his numbers in about 100 less at bats than everyone else, plus that run in September was legendary.

National League Cy Young

1. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies: 21-10, 2.44 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 219 Ks, 7.30 K:BB
2. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals: 20-11, 2.42 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 213 Ks, 3.80 K:BB
3. Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins: 11-6, 2.30 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 186 Ks, 3.88 K:BB
4. Roy Oswalt, Philadelphia Phillies/Houston Astros: 13-13, 2.76 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 193 Ks, 3.51 K:BB
5. Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies: 19-8, 2.88 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 214 Ks, 2.33 K:BB

It’s really a coin flip between Halladay and Wainwright: those stat lines are borderline identical and one could make a solid argument for either pitcher. While wins aren’t a crucial stat to me, they can play the role of tiebreaker and Halladay lead the majors in the category. He also displayed far superior control; however, since both starters’ WHIPs are nearly identical that also means that Halladay was far more hittable. It’s a tough call… but toss in a perfect game and a no hitter in the playoffs (which shouldn’t count, but I can’t erase the memory) and Halladay is my guy. Josh Johnson could have really been in the mix if he had pitched more innings, but staying healthy is part of winning season awards. It’s almost baffling that Jimenez didn’t notch twenty wins after having 14 by the All-Star break, but his line survived September a lot better than San Diego’s Mat Latos, who was a legitimate Cy contender until the season’s final month. Oswalt kind of came out of nowhere and had a great season that I don’t think too many people noticed. He was ridiculous for Philly down the stretch going 7-1, with a 1.74 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 73 Ks in 12 starts.

National League Rookie Of The Year

1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants: .305-18-67, 58 runs, .862 OPS
3. Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves: .277-18-71, 83 runs, 11 SBs, .849 OPS
2. Jamie Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals: 13-8, 2.70 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 132 Ks, 2.06 K:BB

Wow, what a group of rookies in the NL this year. I could probably list off at least ten NL rookies that had noteworthy seasons. I’m giving Posey top honors for several reasons though. First off, he outhit Heyward and basically matched the Braves rookie in homers and RBI despite having roughly 150 less plate appearances. While Heyward was a key part of the Braves’ run to the postseason, I’d argue that Posey carried his team. He was so crucial to the Giants’ success this year that I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished in the top 10 of the NL MVP voting… Heyward won’t. Cardinals fans would probably argue for Garcia, and while his season was impressive, the only stat that jumps out at you is his ERA. His line as a whole doesn’t really compare to what Posey did for the Giants or the numbers Heyward put up as a 20 year old. This list of notable NL rookie seasons is endless: Starlin Castro (.300, 31 2B, 10 SBs), Ike Davis (.261-19-71), Ian Desmond (.269-10-65, 17 SBs), Chris Johnson (.311-11-52), Pedro Alvarez (.256-16-64), Gaby Sanchez (.273-19-85), Mike Stanton (.259-22-59), Jose Tabata (.299, 19 SBs), Neil Walker (.296-12-66), John Axford (24 saves, 2.48 ERA, 8 wins), Madison Bumgarner (7-6, 3.00 ERA, 86 Ks, great postseason), Daniel Hudson (8-2, 2.45 ERA, 84 Ks), and, of course, The Chose One Stephen Strasburg (5-3, 2.91 ERA, 92:17 K:BB rate, and the most exciting rookie debut I can remember).