Tag Archives: Larry Eustachy

Colorado State Was Snubbed Because It’s Not A Big Enough Brand

Welcome to the 101st edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where I am NOT TAKING THINGS WELL. Let’s get into it… (I suppose I should warn you about a little uncharacteristically coarse language in this one.)

The selection committee snubbed CSU out of an at-large bid, leaving fans, and Larry Eustachy, perplexed. (Rich Abrahamson, Coloradoan)

Almost exactly two years ago, I published my first edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, titled “Did Colorado State Deserve A Better Seed And A Better Matchup?”. A couple days prior to that posting, the NCAA Tournament selection committee screwed Colorado State badly with an 8-seed that forced them to play the number one overall seed in the second round in what amounted to a true road game. It was pretty clear CSU deserved much better. Two years later, the committee completely, thoroughly outdid itself.

Over the course of this college basketball season the Colorado State Rams did more than enough to secure an NCAA Tournament bid. They didn’t get one on Selection Sunday because the selection committee is able to simply alter the criteria required for an at-large bid if the outcome favors a popular brand name at the expense of a team that’s lesser known nationally.

Make no mistake, that’s all this was. It’s extremely simple, really. The committee favored brand names. Sure, it’s about the conference affiliation. Sure, it’s about how well a team’s fan base will travel. Sure, it’s about the tradition of a program. But all of that contributes to a brand name. And this year, the selection committee based their “bubble” selections entirely– ENTIRELY– on brand names.

And that is fucking bullshit.

The NCAA Tournament is the center of the sports world when it comes Cinderella stories (THE SLIPPER STILL FITS!) and David taking down Goliath. The success of schools few casual basketball fans are familiar with is what provides much of the March Madness hype every year. But those romantic themes and story lines lose a lot of luster when the “little guy” can’t even get into the damn tournament. How is the scrawny nerd supposed to hook up with hot chick if the bouncers don’t let him into the bar?

The thing is, CSU basketball isn’t really that little of a guy. The Mountain West is an upper-level mid-major. This isn’t Murray State from the Ohio Valley pleading in vain for an at-large bid. CSU was in line to earn their third at-large bid in four years. They have a well-respected head coach who has been around forever. They are firmly on the college basketball map.

But Colorado State is not a BRAND. Indiana is a brand. Ole Miss is a brand. Georgia is a brand. Texas is a brand. UCLA– ohhh fucking UCLA— is a brand.

The NCAA makes a seed list that ranks every team in the tournament from 1-68. The bottom of the at-large field looks like this:

  • 37. Indiana
  • 38. Davidson
  • 39. Ohio State
  • 40. Georgia
  • 41. Texas (!)
  • 42. UCLA (!)
  • 43. Ole Miss
  • 44. BYU
  • 45. Boise State
  • 46. Dayton
  • Dayton was the last at-large team selected. The committee has made it clear the first team out was Temple, followed, presumably, by Colorado State. So had the list been extended before adding automatic qualifiers, it would have looked like this:
  • 47. Temple
  • 48. Colorado State

This is utterly absurd on so many levels. Dayton should have been comfortably in the field and far from the last team in. How in the hell is Indiana ahead of Ohio State?! You could make the argument that Georgia, a team with ZERO top-50 wins and two sub-100 losses, should have been on the outside looking in, yet there they are with SIX teams behind them in the seed list. How does Boise State get sent to a play-in game against Dayton, IN DAYTON?! Texas doesn’t deserve a spot at all, and they have FIVE teams behind them. And then, of course, you have UCLA who wasn’t even on ANYBODY’S radar, and they’re chilling at 42 without a care in the world.

The biggest retort to all of this discussion will be Whatever, man. CSU should have played a tougher nonconference schedule. Well, let’s take a look at this argument.

CSU’s nonconference strength of schedule is ranked 83rd in the country. Texas? 85. Georgia? 92. Indiana? 109. Ole Miss? 95.

But these teams are all in good conferences, so they don’t have to load up in the nonconference schedule right? Well, kinda. All of these schools’ overall strength of schedule was launched significantly ahead of CSU once everybody played a full slate of conference games. So they all definitely deserve credit for playing in a tougher conference, especially when the Mountain West was down a little bit this year. But how much credit does each team really deserve for their conference play? Texas finished 8-10 in the Big 12. Georgia and Ole Miss both finished 11-7 in the weak-ass SEC. Indiana finished 9-9 in the Big 10.

Indeed, the argument for the tournament’s inclusion of the Texas brand is they played a very tough schedule. They played 15 games vs. top-50 opponents. FIFTEEN! That’s a lot! But Texas went just 3-12 vs. the top-50. My math tells me that’s not a very good track record against good teams. Why are we so devoted to rewarding teams for losing to superior opponents? This is such a flawed logic. Put those 12 top-50 games that Texas lost on CSU’s schedule and I guarantee you– GUARANTEE!– that CSU can go at least 0-12 like the Longhorns did.

Then there’s UCLA. Again, this team brand wasn’t on anybody’s radar as a potential tournament team brand. They weren’t even on the bubble. Then they got in, somehow.

When comparing UCLA’s body of work with CSU’s, it’s clear that the two resumes are not even close. CSU has seven more wins, CSU’s RPI is 19 spots higher, UCLA has two more sub-100 losses. And as this tweet points out, Colorado State lost to one non-tournament team all year. UCLA lost to FIVE different teams that didn’t make the field. And again, UCLA didn’t just make the field, they made the field COMFORTABLY!

Take this moronic tweet from ESPN’s Jay Williams, one of the few national voices dumb enough to support Colorado State’s snub:

Okay, Jay. But CSU also went 10-4 vs. the top-150, while UCLA went 11-13. One of those records is better than the other, you dipshit.

Oh, and CSU’s 16 wins vs. sub-150 teams is really bad, right? Well nine of UCLA’s whopping 20 wins came against sub-150 teams.

By the time the conference tournaments come and go, every team on or near the bubble has plenty of warts and misgivings attached to their resume. The traditional line of thinking says that if you don’t get in, you only have yourself to blame. You can argue about seeding, but if you don’t even make the field, that’s on you. This is especially true in the 68-team era of today. With Colorado State, bracketology-expert-guy Patrick Stevens disagrees:

So yeah, we’re talking about an all-time snub here.

Of course, the committee has to come up with something to justify keeping the CSU brand (or lack thereof) out of the tournament. It sounds like it found the one weak spot associated with this year’s CSU team and keyed in on that. The Rams’ weak spot is… the Kenpom rankings. Kenpom is an advanced ranking system using, among other things, adjusted efficiency statistics. CSU’s Kenpom ranking this year didn’t line up with the rest of their resume. They ranked 68th.

Here’s the chairman of the committee, Scott Barnes, as quoted in the Coloradoan: “When you think about Colorado State, their RPI was fairly strong but the other metrics that we use weren’t nearly as high in terms of ranking.” He’s obviously referring to Kenpom, or Sagarin (CSU ranks 57th) or BPI (also 57th).

But this leaves Colorado State fans (and coaches and players) screaming something along the lines of: SINCE WHEN HAS THAT SHIT MATTERED?!

For years, coaches at mid-major programs have been told to get their RPI up. We’ve all been told the RPI is a crucial tool for the selection committee, even if we’ve known the formula is antiquated and not a solid way of ranking the best teams in the country. So what does the committee do when a mid-major like CSU combines clever scheduling and a lot of wins to produce an excellent RPI that essentially guarantees tournament entry?

It decides that, in this case, the RPI is no longer important.

Yeah, now– NOW– it’s time to move on from the RPI and use more complex ranking systems. That pretty fucking coincidental timing, if  you ask me.

Colorado State was projected by every single bracket-projector-person to be in the field for a reason. Jerry Palm and Joe Lunardi and Patrick Stevens aren’t picking their favorite teams or the teams they think are deserving. They are projecting what the committee will do. The committee has a set of guidelines to use. They have historical tendencies from previous tournaments. And every single person that studies and projects brackets for a living deduced that said tendencies and guidelines meant CSU was in. What all the bracket experts and analysts failed to consider was that the committee can ignore their guidelines and tendencies whenever they want if it serves a bigger and better brand name.

And for the love of all that is holy, WOULD YOU ASSCLOWNS JUST ADMIT THAT CONFERENCE AFFILIATION DOES MATTER?  You were never going to take four teams from the Mountain West; it would be great if you could just acknowledge that.

I’m also tired of hearing people play the “what-if” game. CSU let one slip at Boise in January. CSU shouldn’t have lost at home to Wyoming. CSU should have played JJ Avila against San Diego State. If a school like CSU wants in, they need to win their conference tournament.

This is all bullshit. CSU didn’t need to do any of those things. They did enough. They were in.

That’s the bottom line for me:   CSU did enough to get into the tournament. They did more than enough. And the committee found a way to keep them out. Whether that was a sudden, newfound emphasis with very peculiar timing on advanced metrics like Kenpom or a focus on conference RPI and keeping the number of Mountian West teams to a minimum, they simply found a way to keep them out. And they did it because they wanted bigger, better brand names in the tournament.

If you believe for one damn second that if the roles were reversed and UCLA or Texas was considered by all the bracketology experts and analysts to be comfortably in the field the way CSU was, and if CSU was considered a longshot bubble team like UCLA or Texas were… If you believe for one damn second that the committee would have balls to shock everyone and put CSU ahead of those brands, you are absolutely insane.

And it’s pretty depressing to think about those details. When you consider that CSU isn’t in a fair fight and there is nothing that they or their fans can do about it except start cussing in blogs, it makes you question the the whole operation.

What’s the point? Why should I invest so much into such a rigged system?

The NCAA Tournament, The Big Dance, and March Madness are my three favorite sporting events of the year, every year. The only thing that comes close, for me, is the MLB Postseason. But even the best Octobers can’t hold a candle to the ceaseless fun, intensity, and overall craziness the first four days of March Madness brings.

But on Sunday we learned, in no uncertain terms, that March Madness is more fun, intense, and crazy if you have a brand name attached to that resume. Then you might actually get to participate.

Off to the weekly departments (which are admittedly a little rushed this week)…

NBA Tank Watch 2015!

The Nuggets continue to absolutely screw everything up in the worst way by winning games. They’ve fallen to the 8th spot in the Tankandings.

  1. New York, .197
  2. Minnesota, .212
  3. Philadelphia, ..224
  4. L.A. Lakers, .262
  5. Orlando, ..309
  6. Sacramento, ..338
  7. Detroit, .348
  8. Denver, .382

Idiots.

Douche(s) of the week:

Umm… See above.

Studs of the week:

Nice moment at a Nuggets game here. These do not get old.

Vine(s) of the week:

My favorite of the year! Glorious.

The only thing better is the super slow motion version here.

This one is also pretty glorius. Just a bit short, my man.

Photo of the week:

This isn’t exactly an amazing piece of sports photography, but it’s still my favorite photo of the week. The perils of having a live mascot.

A couple other things worth sharing:

The best game of the weekend might have been Albany’s win over Stony Brook. Here’s the game-winner and ensuing court storm.

More conference tournament fun! Oregon’s game-winner over Utah.

And this play here took some ONIONS!

(Hey look! Texas lost to a good team!)

And here’s something to distract the CSU basketball fans. Another episode of “The Grind.” Still really well done.

And finally, Deadspin brought this video to my attention. After the way my week went, it’s very necessary viewing.

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week.

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Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @TuesWithMitch.

March Is Coming; What You Need To Know About Colorado State Basketball

Welcome to the 98th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where the dog days of winter are slowly dragging on. Does winter have dog days? Is that a thing? Whatever. Let’s get into it…

J.J. Avila has been Colorado State’s most consistent player all year long. (Erin Hull, Coloradoan)

It’s late February, which means not much is going on in the sports world. And while we may be stuck in one of the slower times on the sports calendar, it’s also the best time to jump in on the national college basketball scene. While there is nothing better than March Madness, college basketball at the end of February is pretty damn good too. We are in the middle of crunch time. The nation’s top teams are fighting for NCAA Tournament seeding and conference championships. Bubble teams are fighting just to be included in the Big Dance.

In Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region, only one team has a shot to receive an at-large bid to the tourney. And that team is the Colorado State Rams, who should be going dancing for the third time in four years. So let’s break down what you need to know about CSU with Selection Sunday just 19 days away.

The Rams began their season with the best start in program history. After finishing their non conference slate undefeated, they won their first Mountain West game to make them 14-0. They’re currently 23-5 (10-5 in the Mountain West) with three games remaining on the regular season schedule. The last few games are all winnable. After hosting San Jose State (terrible) tomorrow night, the Rams travel to Nevada (bad) and Utah State (decent). The Utah State game will be tough (it’s Stew Morrill’s last game before retirement), but a 26-5 record is within reach. That would be the most wins in program history and make CSU all but a lock for the tournament. Indeed, Larry Eustachy is getting the most out of his talent… again.

Colorado State’s roster is full of transfers, led by two seniors in Daniel Bejerano and J.J. Avila. Bejerano is a 6’5″ guard who transferred from Arizona after his freshman year four years ago, making him the last connection the Rams have to the Tim Miles era. He’s about as athletic a shooting guard as you’ll see in the Mountain West and one of the better rebounding guards in recent memory. Bejerano is probably the most talented player on the Rams, but is too often an inconsistent shooter. Eustachy is cool with that and gives Bejerano an eternal green light from behind the arc. (Bejerano has the most three point attempts on the team and is shooting a decent 37.6 percent from deep.)

Daniel Bejerano’s sometimes streaky play is key as the Rams head to the postseason. Erin Hull, Coloradoan

The way I see it, Bejerano will be the key to success for the Rams in the Mountain West tournament and the Big Dance. When he is making his threes and controlling the offense, CSU becomes very difficult to beat and can look dominant. When he’s not– as has often been the case in conference road games– the Rams’ offense can completely stall and be painful to watch.

Avila is a burly 6’8″ 250 pound forward who looks a little bit like Mr. Incredible. Avila transferred from the Naval Academy after his sophomore year. Though Bejerano is more athletically gifted, Avila has been the Rams’ best player this year. When Avila gets the ball in the low block, it’s fun as hell to watch him go to work. He utilizes crafty footwork, angles, pump fakes, spins and a three-inch vertical leap to make weird-ass shots on a regular basis. Avila does it all. His averages on the year (rounded): 17 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, while shooting 55 percent from the floor. His consistent play all season is the biggest reason the Rams are 23-5.

The Rams lead the Mountain West in scoring at  73 points per game, which is a bunch in the current college basketball environment. Looking at KenPom’s* advanced statistics, the Rams have one of the nation’s better offenses (46th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency) paired with a below average defense (147th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency). They play at an above average pace (51st in Adjusted Tempo), which makes for more pleasant viewing than a lot of good team’s in today’s college basketball world.

*I think the top-heavy Mountain West and general awfulness of the lower-tier teams has jerked with kenpom’s numbers a bit this season. His formula has the Rams ranked 68th overall, quite a bit lower than several other metrics.

Most bracket predictions have CSU somewhere around a 10-seed right now. But of course, those predictions are fluent and change on a regular basis. So how will the rest of this season play out for Colorado State? Probably better than this worst case scenario, and worse than this best case scenario.

Worst Case (Realistic) Scenario: The Rams beat San Jose State comfortably tomorrow night because San Jose State is one of the worst teams I’ve ever seen, but stumble and lose in Reno to a bad Nevada team. They follow that up with a loss at Utah State and finish the year 24-7 and in fifth place in the Mountain West. They win one game in the Mountain West tournament but lose in the second round. Selection Sunday comes and goes without the Rams’ name being called. The excitement and promise from earlier in the year turns out to be completely for naught. The Rams are a fairly high seed in the N.I.T., but nobody cares.

Best Case (Realistic) Scenario:  The Rams win their final three regular season games to finish 26-5. With some help from Boise State and Wyoming they finish second in the Mountain West standings. Behind another impressive three-point shooting performance, they beat San Diego State in the Mountain West tournament championship, moving them to 29-5. On Selection Sunday they learn the committee has rewarded them with a 6-seed. In the Big Dance they beat an 11-seed (think Purdue or UCLA) and then upset a 3-seed (think North Carolina or Utah in Las Vegas Bowl revenge) to reach the Sweet 16 and move them to 31-5. The magic comes to an end during the tournament’s second weekend when the Rams finally go down to a more athletic and more talented 2-seed.

I don’t know what the future holds for the Rams, but I do know the college basketball bandwagon has plenty of room and it’s officially time for you to jump on. Around these parts, the team in Fort Collins is reason enough to hop on board.

Off to the weekly departments…

Stud of the week:

NBC

“Parks and Recreation”, one of the great comedies of all time, comes to an end tonight after seven seasons. “Parks and Rec” never really caught on for mainstream audiences like “The Office” did, but is probably a better show in its totality. Some people think the reason “Parks and Rec” never blew up is the first season wasn’t as good as the next six. I think the show was simply too different (smart) to appeal to broad (dumb) audiences like “Two and Half Men” or “The Big Bang Theory”, but not raunchy or obscure enough to find a niche like “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.”

I’ve never seen another show that could be so sweet, genuine, warm, fuzzy, cute, and sincere at the same time as being uproariously funny, bizarre, quick, smart, absurd, and hilarious. Here’s my guy Alan Sepinwall:

In the end, it is one of the best comedies TV has ever seen, and one that stands out from so much of the great shows of this new Golden Age of Television because its default emotion was joy when so many of this era’s great shows are defined by darkness, and its default philosophy was one of optimism at a time when even the best comedies today tend towards ironic detachment.

He goes on…

So let me put it this way: there is a stretch of 42 episodes spanning seasons 2, 3 and 4 without a bad one among them. Every sitcom, even the best, churns out a misfire now and then; for two-odd years, every “Parks” episode was at a minimum very good, and at a maximum a classic of the form, mixing slapstick, social satire and simple character-based comedy.

The show’s cast was unbelievably deep for a broadcast network comedy. Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, Adam Scott, Rob Lowe, and Aubrey Plaza are all much bigger stars than they were six years ago (with the exception of Lowe, probably). And all Offerman did was create one of the greatest TV characters of all-time in Ron Swanson:

Anyway I’ll stop talking about TV now, but I look forward to the finale tonight. I’ve never been so confident in a show to stick the landing.

(If you haven’t watched, the first six seasons are on Netflix.)

Douche(s) of the week:

Boyhood didn’t win Best Picture. What the hell, people? Smdh.

Vine(s) of the week:

There were some crazy dunks in the basketball world this week. We’ll start this section by continuing the CSU basketball theme. Here is former Ram Jon Octeus, who was with CSU for the last couple years before trying to transfer to UCLA, not getting in, and landing at Purdue.

I never saw that from J.O. in a Rams’ uniform. On a side note, CSU is without a reliable true point guard. They could have really used Octeus’ long, active defense this year.

The other college dunk of the week came from Jarell Martin of LSU, who went between the legs IN A GAME! IN COLLEGE!

I’ve seen some crazy-ass dunks from JR Smith from his time in Denver, but this one might have dropped my jaw more than any other.

This doesn’t have its own section, but here’s a video of a 92-year-old man driving around a Piggly Wiggly parking lot in Wisconsin. It’s pretty funny if you know that no one was hurt and you can avoid getting into a debate about the elderly’s right to drive and society’s role in accommodating the elderly and confronting your own fear of one day growing old.

The driver was not cited.

Here’s a disgustingly terrifying video of a land octopus, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t a real thing until a few days ago.

And finally, check out this ending to a middle school basketball game. (White team is up by one.)

A jump ball as time expires results in the end of the game. Just when you thought you’ve seen it  all…

Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week (for the 99th Tuesday in a row).

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Comment on any of this stuff below, or email me at mdhahn1@yahoo.com with post ideas, videos or other media I should know about. Subscribe at the top right of this page. Follow me on Twitter @TuesWithMitch.