Wednesday, October 27, 2010

the hoops schedule

No, I don't believe it either, but it's true: basketball season begins in just a couple weeks. I thought we'd start basketball coverage around here with an overview of the OOC schedule. The ACC schedule will get covered in depth with team previews in January.

William & Mary

Colonial Athletic Association

Preseason conference poll: 8th of 12

'09-'10 record: 22-11 (12-6), T-3rd in CAA
'09-'10 postseason: NIT, first round
'09-'10 Pomeroy: .6635 (4th CAA, 117th nat'l)

Better or worse? Worse
Likelihood of a win: Bit better than decent

William & Mary plays in a tough conference where it's not easy to get ahead, but they did alright for themselves last year in earning an NIT bid. They'd have gone farther, but they had the misfortune of landing a matchup with an over-talented UNC team that was finally figuring out where they were supposed to be on a basketball court.

This year, the CAA media expects W&M to be leapfrogged by a few teams in the CAA. Befreckled wingman Quinn McDowell is the only of the top three scorers to return, but if you go by his roster picture he's still only 14 and doesn't shave. CAA teams like W&M are usually good enough to give bottom-tier ACC teams the jibblies, but it's a rebuilding season for the Tribe and therefore a good chance for UVA to get off on the right foot.


Atlantic Sun Conference

Preseason conference poll: 11th of 11

'09-'10 record: 6-23 (6-14), 9th in A-Sun
'09-'10 postseason: none
'09-'10 Pomeroy: .1829 (9th A-Sun, 280th nat'l)

Better or worse? Worse, somehow

Likelihood of a win: Near-lock

USC-Upstate: Because Northern South Carolina sounds weird. USC-U is a bad team in a bad conference with a worse offense. Only one player scored in double figures for the Spartans last season; he was a 7-foot-3 senior. Everyone left is 6'7" and below, meaning USC-U is one of the few teams that won't be able to take advantage of UVA's shallow frontcourt. This game shouldn't be any trouble.


Pacific-10 Conference

Preseason conference poll: Roughly 8th of 10 (the official poll isn't out yet, but some of the ballots are available)

'09-'10 record: 14-18 (7-11), T-8th in Pac-10
'09-'10 postseason: none
'09-'10 Pomeroy: .7069 (6th Pac-10, 103rd nat'l)

Better or worse? Likely worse
Likelihood of a win: 50/50

You remember Landry Fields, right? Skinny guy, lightning quick, scored way too damn many points in last year's matchup with Stanford? Fields scored a pretty disproportionate number of points for what turned out to be a pretty mediocre Stanford squad. The good news is he's gone. The bad news is, so are UVA's top two scorers from that game a year ago (Sylven Landesberg and Jeff Jones.) Stanford brings back Jeremy Green, who played Robin to Fields's Batman last year and now has to see if he can fit behind the drivers' seat of the Batmobile himself. This game will be much the same story as last year: stop the scorer, stop Stanford. It's a road game this time; Tony Bennett and co. are using it as a way to adjust to the time zones on the way out to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.


Pacific-10 Conference

Preseason conference poll: Almost certainly 1st of 10

'09-'10 record: 26-10 (11-7)
'09-'10 postseason: NCAA Sweet 16
'09-'10 Pomeroy: .9149 (2nd Pac-10, 30th nat'l)

Better or worse? Better
Likelihood of a win: Slim and none, and Slim is saddling up

U-Dub lost their leading scorer from last year, Quincy Pondexter, and it's not likely to matter. This is a deep, veteran outfit. From the 10-man rotation they used last year, they return eight, and should be able to easily integrate a couple of newcomers in seven-foot transfer Aziz N'Diaye and freshman Terence Ross, who turned down both those K schools - you know, Kentucky and Kansas - to stay in the Northwest and go to Washington. The sampling of ballots all agreed: this looks like Washington's year in the Pac-10. The Huskies are UVA's first test at the Maui Invitational and the only way UVA gets out with a win is if UW is looking ahead to a likely showdown with Kentucky. Even then it might end up just being the kind of close win for Washington that irritates fans.


Big Ten Conference

Preseason conference poll: No poll yet, but probably around 5th or 6th of 11

'09-'10 record: 21-14 (9-9), 6th in Big Ten
'09-'10 postseason: NCAA first round
'09-'10 Pomeroy: .9123 (5th Big Ten, 32nd nat'l)

Better or worse? A little bit better
Likelihood of a win: Small

Minnesota was also the Hoos' opponent for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge two years ago. Of the nine players UVA trotted out back then, only one will make the trip to Minneapolis this time - that'd be Mike Scott. (Sammy Zeglinski is also still on the team, but his knee injury will keep him out of this one.)

Minny, on the other hand, is similar to Washington: a deep, balanced rotation that didn't lose much. There isn't quite as much talent as Washington, but Blake Hoffarber is all set for a full season of driving Big Ten fans crazy by nailing three-pointers at the worst possible times and making opposing fans wonder how this guy can be allowed to play college ball for what seems like seven years. And the media, of course, will get plenty of mileage out of the Ralph Sampson III storyline. The Gophers should be expected to handle UVA, and by this point in the season there's a good likelihood the team will carry a losing record.


Big South Conference

Preseason conference poll: 9th of 10

'09-'10 record: 19-12 (13-5), 2nd in Big South
'09-'10 postseason: none
'09-'10 Pomeroy: .3175 (2nd Big South, 228th nat'l)

Better or worse? Worse. Way the hell worse.
Likelihood of a win: Very, very large

UVA plays this game after an early opener to the conference schedule in Blacksburg; it's the last before Finals break and kicks off a full month at home after a tough couple weeks of travel. There's the distinct possibility that this game will be needed to break a losing streak as long as six games; fortunately, Radford is just the group to do it. Practically the whole team from last year is gone, especially the big Belarussian, Artsiom Parakhouski. In their place will be a patchwork of freshmen, redshirt freshmen, and transfers. How many games the Highlanders win is a big mystery, but "not many" is a safe bet. So is "not this one."


Preseason conference poll: Dead last

'09-'10 record: 16-16 (7-11); T-8th in Pac-10
'09-'10 postseason: none
'09-'10 Pomeroy: .6351 (9th Pac-10, 126th nat'l)

Better or worse? Worse
Likelihood of a win: Slightly north of 50/50

Look at this like the Auburn game from last year: a chance to match up with the worst of another high-major conference and see how we do. Oregon has a new coach this year after a goofy coaching search, Stage 1 of which entailed identifying the nation's top coaches (Tom Izzo, for example), and backing up the dump trucks full of Phil Knight's money. That failed.

After realizing that lots of money and pretty pine trees weren't enough to buy someone's loyalty, they sheepishly hired a very successful mid-major coach like everyone else. With a new coach and system and about half of last year's major contributors gone, Oregon faces the usual challenges in a rebuilding project. Being a year ahead and playing the game at home should give UVA an edge here.

Norfolk State

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

Preseason conference poll: 6th of 11

'09-'10 record: 11-19 (9-7), 4th in MEAC
'09-'10 postseason: none
'09-'10 Pomeroy: .2258 (4th MEAC, 263rd nat'l)

Better or worse? Probably about the same
Likelihood of a win: Exceptional

The MEAC is one of the worst conferences in basketball. Being a middling MEAC team means you're pretty much cannon fodder. How bad is the MEAC? Morgan State dominates the everloving crap out of the conference, and the article detailing the preseason poll notes with pride that they "recorded several non-conference victories last year." It goes on to list their victims, which include (you'll be duly impressed) Albany, Manhattan, Towson, and East Tennessee State.

OK, so Morgan State is alright. NSU is no Morgan State. This is one of those "just take your money and your ass-whooping" games.



Preseason conference poll: N/A

'09-'10 record: 17-14
'09-'10 postseason: none
'09-'10 Pomeroy: .4639 (185th nat'l)

Better or worse? Likely worse
Likelihood of a win: Big

If this were 1958 this'd be the marquee matchup on the schedule. As it is this is Seattle's second year of their return to D-I competition. They had a winning record last year and I was surprised to learn that they didn't even do it against a slate of Division II opponents, which is the approach some brand-new D-I schools will take.

In what must be a first for a team in its first year of D-I competition (or first year back in 30 years) Seattle lost a player to the NBA draft early. Charles Garcia must've been a heck of a player. But the Redhawks mostly have the ability to fill the gap with veterans; nevertheless, we're not talking about high-major talent here. They didn't run around beating up on D-II teams (and they even beat Utah last year) but they lost some questionable games, too. This, too, should be a comfortable win.

Iowa State

Big 12 Conference

Preseason conference poll: 12th

'09-'10 record: 15-17 (4-12), T-9th in Big 12
'09-'10 postseason: none
'09-'10 Pomeroy: .8068 (9th Big 12, 71st nat'l)

Better or worse? Much, much worse
Likelihood of a win: Fairly large

Oregon, without the Phil Knight money or sparkling new arena. ISU has a new coach, too, although they went the "distinguished alum" route, and they suffered the usual mass exodus to various parts of the basketball globe. Picking up the pieces won't be easy, and their path to success is going to be a lot longer and harder. This year, they should (along with, hopefully, Oregon) provide the evidence that UVA has advanced past "worst of the high-major" status. That Pomeroy rating suggests a smallish level of respectability; it's very similar to UVA's. That's not going to be present this year.


Southeastern Conference

Preseason conference poll: 5th of 6 in SEC West

'09-'10 record: 11-20 (2-14), 12th in SEC
'09-'10 postseason: none
'09-'10 Pomeroy: .4700 (12th SEC, 182nd nat'l)

Better or worse? Can't be much worse
Likelihood of a win: 50/50ish

The BCS Conference Rehab Club Tour continues. If only we had Iowa for the Challenge. LSU was awful awful awful last year and will probably be better if only because it's hard to get worse than 2-14. But like UVA, the Tigers are probably at least a year away from getting serious. Their top two scorers graduated and transferred to Nebraska(!), respectively. Most of the rest of the team returns, but that was the bad part of the team, and freshman help will be limited. Another good yardstick game.


Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

Preseason conference poll: 9th of 11

'09-'10 record: 7-25 (6-10), T-8th in MEAC
'09-'10 postseason: none
'09-'10 Pomeroy: .0460 (11th MEAC, 339th nat'l)

Better or worse? It really doesn't matter
Likelihood of a win: Lockiest of locks

There were 347 D-I basketball teams in 2009-2010. Let me repeat where Howard stood in the KenPom ratings: 339th. Everything said under Norfolk State applies here, except magnify the horriblitude by a large factor of your choice.


Let's break this down a little bit in a different way:


William & Mary
Norfolk State
possibly Chaminade


Iowa State
probably Oklahoma


possibly Wichita State

You can do the math about how that might turn out, but a schedule that looks chock full of tough games really isn't, thanks to the crappiness of once-good teams like LSU and Oregon. The Maui Invitational, of course, is a bit of a wild card. It's crammed with ridiculously good teams, most of which we won't see. Washington will steamroll us, and Kentucky will steamroll Oklahoma, setting up a likely matchup with the Sooners. They sort of fall into the category with ISU and all them. A win there almost certainly means a date with Missouri Valley favorite Wichita State, which UVA is not yet equipped for. Two Maui losses in a row means bring on Chaminade and all those storylines, although probably with not so bad a result this time.

The beauty of this schedule is that it should do an excellent job of telling us just how prepared this team is for the rigors of the ACC lineup. Here's the results of the ACC poll and how many games against each team:

1. Duke (2)
2. Virginia Tech (2)
3. North Carolina (1, home)
4. NC State (1, home)
5. Florida State (1, road)
6. Maryland (2)
7. Clemson (1, home)
8. Miami (1, road)
9. Georgia Tech (2)
10. Boston College (2)
11. Virginia
12. Wake Forest (1, road)

There's real potential there. Two games against VT is a given; two against Duke, well, it's our turn for the slaughter, I guess. But two against the 9 and 10 teams, and some easier road matchups, sets up well. If the media is right about our 11 opponents (but hopefully not about us), then that could be a good setup for a surprise or two.

1 comment:

dlampton said...

Excellent analysis. Great job. Excited to watch our progress!