Custom Homepages

By tom - Posted on 22 March 2007

I've been using Google IG since it was first released. There have been several updates and addition over time, such as different methods to add items, tabs, and the newly released themes. However, the basic functionality never really changed.

In any case, I recently heard that Netvibes.com received a major update, so I figured I'll check it out. I was pretty impressed with the default set-up and design and decided to give it a chance. After using it for a few days I decided to make Netvibes my new default custom homepage. There are several reasons why.

First of all, aside from one 'module', everything I used on Google IG was available on Netvibes. The only exception is Google Calender. While there is a Google Calender module it doesn't have anywhere near the functionality of the IG module. Everything else was available, and in many cases the modules were superior on Netvibes--from better/simpler designs to superior configurability. For example, items like Notes, To-Do-lists, and box.net additions are much better for Netvibes.

Netvibes is also superior when it comes to feeds. Not only can you receive tool-tip like pop-ups that show a summary of a specific story in a feed, it also acts more like a standalone feed-reader. Although a little difficult to explain, you can click on a feed story and it will change to a window where it lists all the stories and (not just the few you selected to display on the home page) on the left hand side, and the summary on the right (assume one is given).

For now, the only downside I've noticed is that for Gmail module it only lists UNREAD messages and not READ messages. I prefer the Google IG module in that respect, but it's not a big deal. Secondly, I find that Netvibes loads 1 second too slow (seriously!). I've set this page as my homepage, and the tiny delay is more noticeable as one might imagine. Finally, as previously mentioned, the lack of a better Google Calender module is also a downside.

Nonetheless, the shortcomings explained previously are fairly minor and outweighed by the superior modules, configurability, and feed options. I haven't done any rigorous research regarding all modules, but the ones I used were available. If you use some more complex modules that may have only been designed for IG, it's definitely more difficult to consider Netvibes a viable alternative.

In any case, if you use custom homepages and haven't tried Netvibes recently, you may be pleasantly surprised.

March Madness: Day 1 Evening Games

By hagrin - Posted on 17 March 2007

The Day 1 night games, outside of the Duke game were chalk central as the favorites took care of business and were able to "survive and advance".

Vanderbilt took on George Washington during the non-televised game here on the East Coast and it was probably a good thing for GW fans as Vandy lit up the night sky with threes and GW failed to set their alarm clocks and got run off the floor. As I watched the game online through CBS Sportsline, I couldn't believe that this was a 6v11 game and not a 1v16. Vandy just dominated GW in every way and should prove to be an interesting match up against the contrasting style of Washington State.

Ohio State raced to a 21 point halftime lead and never looked back as they wiped the floor with Central Connecticut State. Greg Oden was a man amongst boys as he pulled down 19 points and 10 rebounds and altered numerous shots in the lane during the first half. Again, there really wasn't much to report on in this game as this way a blowout from the opening whistle.

Michigan State, the 9 seed, provided a mild seed upset as they were able to build a 13 point first half lead and hold off a shorthanded Marquette team 61-49. The key for MSU was that they got very balanced scoring and it wasn't just the Drew Neitzel show. With double digit scoring from 3 separate players, MSU, who struggles to score, got enough offense and a supreme defensive effort to shutdown a Jekyll and Hyde Marquette team.

UCLA vs. Weber State was another snooze fest as UCLA won by an impressive 28 points against probably the toughest of the 15 seeds. Aaron Afflalo dropped 22 points and had 8 rebounds which is a great sign from the Bruins best perimeter scorer. More importantly, injured Nick Collison played 32 strong minutes and shot well from the field which bodes well for UCLA having shaken off their unimpressive first round exit in the Pac-10 tournament.

In the other 79-77 game of the night, Xavier, out of the A-10, protected the conference's honor and held off a very game BYU team. BYU got a 24 point effort from Keena Young, but it wasn't enough to outmatch the 17 points from Drew Lavender and 23 from Doellman. Xavier will be matched up in the sexiest 1v(lower seed) match up with in-state rival Ohio State. The end of the game was another example of how you can win close games in the tournament these days with a guard who can penetrate and create his own shot which is what Drew Lavender could do that BYU could not. The dribble penetration was a huge factor in the last 2-3 minutes in the game and we've seen it time and time again in these close NCAA March Madness tournament games.

In what was a revenge game for Indiana, the Hoosiers were able to beat a depleted Gonzaga team and come away with a 70-57 victory. The key to this game was getting the strong scoring production from a third option, in this case, Wilmont for Indiana. Wilmont has 22 points and 7 rebounds which helped supplement DJ White's 16 and Calloway's 11. Gonzaga shot very poorly from the field only hitting on 35% of their shots and getting a putrid performance from Pargo (who shaved his own last name into his head) where he went 1-7 from the field. UCLA should have no problem with Indiana, but if Indiana gets scoring from 3 players, they could be hard to beat.

Eastern Kentucky gave UNC a scare for about a half, but UNC was never really in trouble in a relatively easy 86-65 win. The most important stat from this game is the performance turned in by Tyler Hansbrough who scored 21 and grabbed 10 rebounds for his best game since wearing the mask. With Tyler-like efforts, UNC has a very good chance to advance through their bracket, past Michigan State and on to a potential meeting with Georgetown.

In the last game of the night, Pittsburgh beat up a smaller Wright State team 79-58. Again, like many of the first day games, this was a major snooze fest as Wright State forgot what time the game started and were down 13-0 within a matter of minutes. Pittsburgh got double digit points from 5 players and shot a blistering 54.5% from the field while holding Wright State to 33%.

March Madness: VCU Beats Duke

By hagrin - Posted on 16 March 2007

The upsets were bound to happen, but did it have to happen to my team?

As everyone knows, I'm as big of a Duke homer as there is. Throughout the day I knew that with the lack of upsets that a big one was coming during the night session. Duke, even after being up double digits in the second half (again!), lost on a jump shot by Maynor with 1.8 seconds as the VCU Rams upset the #6 seed Blue Devils. Where as with most of the games I give you just a short overview as to what happened, I have a lot of thoughts about this game.

First, I can't fault the effort - the effort was there last night from McRoberts and Paulus. However, for as good as they played you could only sit there as a Duke fan and think that you didn't get nearly enough from two McDonalds All-Americans. McRoberts had 4 inches on anyone that was guarding him all night long and more athleticism and really should have went for more than the 20+ he had, but you can't fault him because he was rebounding and controlling the paint by himself. Coach K, instead of trying to make the other team play his pace, fell right into VCU's hands and played an undersized 4 all night long to try and play as quick as VCU which meant McRoberts was the only big man on the floor for Duke at times. McRoberts had such a good game that not only did Duke lose this game, but they may have lost McRoberts to the NBA draft next year. If they don't replace McRoberts with Patterson next year, Duke may have a very long season next year.

As for Greg Paulus, what else can you say. I killed him earlier this year and, as if he read my article, has played extremely well since that point. Last night, Greg dropped a career high 25 points, but it still wasn't enough as he couldn't stay in front of Maynor on the defensive end. Unfortunately, in a man-to-man defensive system, Paulus is always going to be a major liability with his below-average foot speed and less than impressive height. The only problem is he was recruited at this size and speed and if you're unwilling to change the system, you have to question why you recruited him. How many times does a Duke team have to be beat by a more athletic backcourt being able to penetrate to the rim at will before either the recruits change or the system changes?

As for the rest of the team, well, I just hope that some of the promising bench talent doesn't transfer. It's possible that you could see Pocius, Thomas and Zubek all transfer out of Duke for a lack of playing time.

As for the game, there were a few turning points. First, late in the game DeMarcus Nelson (who really had a terrible end of the season) drove the lane and never looked to pass while throwing up a floater that missed. Only problem with that play was that you could see Josh sitting on the baseline looking for the lob pass which never came. Instead, McRoberts is pushed in the back and misses a free throw so you end up with one point that possession instead of two. Next, the missed free throws killed Duke again. Paulus, who did have 25 points, missed 3 straight near the end of the game which is unacceptable for a captain point guard who is supposedly a good free throw shooter. Next, was there any doubt that Duke was going to lose that game when Nelson rushed down the court to score and leave too much time on the clock? Sure, you can't pull it out there because you're losing, but you just knew that Maynor, who was penetrating at will, was going to be able to get his own shot. Although all of these points make it sound as if Duke played awfully, Duke was up double digits in the second half and let yet another huge lead turn into a last second heartbreaking loss.

It was tough being a Duke fan this year and I fear that next year is not going to be much better.

March Madness: Day 1 - 2PM Games

By hagrin - Posted on 15 March 2007

After a timid opening set of games, March Madness viewers were expecting the upsets to start raining upon the brackets. However, it didn't start out that way.

After an 11-4 lead, Belmont missed a three pointer and the tide turned from there as Georgetown ran away with a relatively easy victory. Belmont was game for about 10-15 minutes, but the height and athleticism was too much for Belmont. Not much to say about this game other than Georgetown took care of business.

Oral Roberts was fitted for the glass slipper by many people filling out their office pool brackets. However, if you followed my advice, you would have been all over Washington State. Washington State was training 26-18 right before halftime and cut the lead to 28-26 on an impressive run right before the break. Going into halftime on the huge run carried over to the second half and WSU never looked back. Oral Roberts seemed out of sync and looked like the tried implementing a game plan that didn't suit their team in an attempt to turn the tempo away from WSU's comfort zone. It's a really good sign that WSU's shooters woke up in the second half and they were able to put up a 70 spot as there are questions about how much they can score.

Butler faced off against Old Dominion in another potential upset game. However, with the game 32-29 ODU winning, Butler hit 4 consecutive three pointers en route to a 17-0 run and just blew out ODU at the end of the game. ODU tried to respond during that run by taking outside shots outside of their system and Butler pounced on the misses. With the way Butler controls the pace, it should be interesting to see if the Maryland pressure can effect the Butler guards.

Finally, Texas A&M got a scare from UPenn, but just as CBS switched their east coast coverage to this game, UPenn forgot to score the basketball, Jones got two follow dunks and Acie Law took over the ball game as the 68-52 final didn't indicate how close this game was with 10 minutes to play. A&M turned up the defensive pressure when it had to, but you would like to see a more consistent effort from the Aggies when they play Louisville. I have A&M advancing, but if I was a betting man, I would say that Pitino's Cardinals could be ripe for the upset in the friendly confines of Lexington, Kentucky.

Hagrin's Picks: 3-1 (5-2 Total)

March Madness: Day 1 - 12PM Games

By hagrin - Posted on 15 March 2007

It's started. See everyone in April. This is my month.

I wanted to give a quick recap to the 12pm EST games if you were at work and didn't get to watch them. In game one, Maryland and Davidson went back and forth all game long, but Maryland was able to prevail over Davidson. Stephen Curry, the Davidson freshman, scored 30 points, but it wasn't enough to out duel the rest of the Terrapins. This was a game of runs with a couple of 10-0+ runs by both teams. Maryland showed a lot of guts being able to fight back every time Davidson hit another 3 pointer and a lot of teams that escape that tough first round game get the wake up call they need to make a deep run into the tournament. Watch out for Maryland Gator fans.

In what can be described as a complete joke, Louisville pressured Stanford out of the gym and won by over 20 points and the game wasn't even as close as the score indicates. Stanford had no answer for Louisville's pressure, speed or athleticism. The wonder twins of Stanford were actually benched at one point for ineffective play and Stanford should be embarrassed by their effort. They shouldn't have made the tournament and their performance today just shows me that the committee was extremely wrong to select the Cardinal as one of the last teams into the tournament. Louisville poses an interesting challenge to Texas A&M in the next round. Oh, and the crowd - VERY pro-Louisville and in fact extremely loud for a 12PM EST start time.

Lastly, Bobby Knight and Jarius Jackson come up small in the tournament as Boston College, the team that looks to have no heart at times, beat the Red Raiders to every loose ball and pulled away late for the win. Sean Marshall, who I despise after he screamed in JJ Redick's face at BC last year, came to play today and knocked down a lot of big time outside shots. ACC Player of the Year, Jared Dudley, was studly as he was able to avoid second half foul trouble after picking up 3 first half fouls and played a great all-around game.

Check back for updates on the second set of afternoon games for all of you at work still.

Hagrin's Picks: 2-1 (thanks Stanford).

2007 March Madness - 1st Round Selection Help - #6 - #8 Seeds

By hagrin - Posted on 15 March 2007

We gave you a breakdown of seeds 1 through 3, the breakdown of #4 seeds and the breakdown of the #5 seeds. Thursday is rapidly approaching and I'm stuck writing huge SQL queries to update our business database so I'm going to give you a short recap of who you should pick for the rest of the opening round games.

#6 Seeds
Louisville is playing Stanford less than 80 miles from their campus and most people think that Louisville is going to easily win this "home" game. However, Rupp Arena may not be as pro-Kentucy as it might be anti-Pitino. Plus, Stanford has a lot to prove, has good enough guard play and the depth inside. Louisville is the trendy pick with the nation so I'll fade the public and go with Stanford. Stanford has come across country once this year and beat Virginia at Virginia so they are road tested and have succeeded.

I'm a huge Duke homer. VCU causes matchup problems for Duke, but Duke rarely loses to mid majors (unless you're Earl Boykins from Eastern Michigan) - Duke wins.

Vanderbilt and George Washington is a nasty matchup to pick. Vanderbilt has the outside shooting to make it to the Sweet 16. They also have a road record that makes you think that having to travel across the country is going to spell disaster for them. I'm picking GW in the upset because of the tournament experience and Vandy's inability to win away from home.

Notre Dame and Winthrop has a similar feel to the Vandy/GW game. Winthrop is the sexy pick this year for people picking upsets, but I watched this team struggle against a below average VMI team. I think Notre Dame has the better team and should pull out the win.

#7 Seeds
Almost every one of the 7v10 matchups is a complete toss up. You're better off just picking names out of a hat then following the advice of the so called experts. Here's my quick analysis -

Georgia Tech has 1 true road win all year. They are a competely different team away from home and the entire country has GaTech. I have UNLV.

Gonzaga is playing without Heytvelt, this is a revenge game for Indiana (Gonzaga beat them last year) and DJ White will be the best player on the court. That being said, guard play will win out and Ravio and Pargo are better than anything Indiana has. Gonzaga has played a tough schedule, traveled a lot of miles and they are well rested after the WCC tournament. Gonzaga should win.

Nevada is dealing with serious injury problems. Fazekas is battling injuries and Nevada is down one starter. Look for Nate Funk to take over and Creighton to win the game.

BC and Texas Tech might be the worst matchup of the opening round. BC lacks heart, Texas Tech lacks consistency. BC might not have enough scoring to beat Texas Tech, but I give the edge to BC because the game is in North Carolina and I think they are familair with playing in that area. Texas Tech has beated A&M this year, but then they throw up absolute goose eggs against bad teams. I'll take the more consistent BC team.

#8 Seeds
Again, this is another toss up year for 8v9 matchups.

Arizona has far superior talent than Purdue. Arizona is the Tin Man of the NCAAs - no heart. However, the scouts will be out to watch Marcus Williamss o he might decide to actually play. Arizona wins a very close game.

Nardi is hurt for Villanova and when Reynolds has to play point guard, the offense doesn't flow enough through the Villanova big men. Kentucky has the superior athletes, but can Randolph Morris not pick up two fouls during the national anthem? Take Villanova assuming Nardi plays - if you hear he won't go, switch your pick to Kentucky.

Michigan State plays a banged up Marquette team. Izzo rarely has two bad tournaments in a row and I can see MSU dominating the glass in this game. MSU gets the edge in a disgusting, low scoring 8v9 game. Get out the football pads for this one.

Xavier vs. BYU ... snooze fest. I give the Mountain West no respect after the debacle that was Air Force the last two years, but BYU is tournament tested - but so is Xavier. Xavier played really well at the beginning of the year, but I'm not sure that carries over into the tournament. I think BYU wins this game, but I have Xavier currently on my sheet of integrity thinking that a potential shot against in-state rival Ohio State might be enough to motivate them. I'm taking Xavier to win, but wouldn't be surprised if the 30 year olds from BYU beat Xavier up inside.

Good luck tomorrow everyone!

2007 March Madness - 1st Round Selection Help - #5 Seeds

By hagrin - Posted on 13 March 2007

Hagrin.com has provided you the information you need to pick the games involving #1 - #3 seeds and also for those interesting #4 vs. #13 matchups. Twelve seeds have been known to win and cause destruction within lots of office pools so here's what you need to know about this year's 5v12 matchups.

#5 Seeds
The committee did a great job setting up 5v12 games this year because of the matchups they developed using 2 bubble teams, one of the highest seeded mid-majors and one of the highest overseeded mid-major conference champions. Long Beach State, which many analysts had in a 14 or lower seed slot, received a very surprising 12 seed and is matched up against SEC power Tennessee. Tennessee has turned their season around on the improved shooting of Chris Lofton who has really carried this team with not only his deadly accuracy, but his leadership. Tennessee like to up the tempo and runs 9 deep and tries to wear you down - only problem is they got matched up with a team that loves to run and gun just as much. Long Beach State has little to no height, but Tennessee really won't take advantage of that weakness. This game will be all about who can hit more 3 pointers or who can turn the other person over more and I think Long Beach State might be able to pull this game out and I've selected them as my second upset. Just remember - a better Tennessee team last year almost lost to 15 seed Winthrop last year if not for a miracle shot.

USC, out of the Pac-10, will face bubble oddity Arkansas in the East bracket. USC is extremely athletic, extremely long, extremely talented and has just as much talent as almost any team in the country. They will be facing jekyl and hyde Arkansas who does have some size, does have some athleticism, but really hasn't meshed together for several reasons. Although they had a good run in the SEC tournament, the Razorbacks didn't beat anyone outside of Vanderbuilt that I would say was a quality win - especially out of the weak SEC West. USC has battled in the Pac-10 all year, the game is on the west coast and I look for USC to win a close game.

Another bubble team, Illinois, snuck into the Field of 65 and will face the ACC's Virginia Tech Hokies. Illinois is another team that really didn't deserve to be in the tournament. The Illini have trouble scoring the basketball, don't have very many road or neutral wins and played in a sub-par Big Ten conference. Virginia Tech has a terrific backcourt, athleticism on the wing and has played in a tough conference all year. They have big road wins (beating Duke at Cameron) and this team has a lot of destony on their side. I see VTech winning pretty easily in this game, even if Weber tries to take the air out of the ball.

Lastly, the Horizon conference's golden child of 2006-7, Butler, faces off against the Colonial's Old Dominion. Butler only tied for their regular season title and did not win their conference tournament and have been riding the wave of their wins in December. Meanwhile, Butler has faultered down the stretch and has played very mediocre basketball. Old Dominion on the other hand, outside of their conference tournament loss, has been on fire winning 12 games in a row. Butler will slow the ball down and execute their offense, but I just see ODU staying with Butler and shutting down Butler's guards from getting open looks. Look for ODU to pull the upset here. So, that makes two 12 seed winners for me - follow me with caution!

2007 March Madness - 1st Round Selection Help - #4 Seeds

By hagrin - Posted on 13 March 2007

We've already covered seeds 1-3 for the 2007 March Madness opening round to help you with your bracket selections, but that was the easy part. Let's start to analyze the tougher first round matchups for seeds 4 through 6.

#4 Seeds
This is a very ecclectic group of #4 seeds and I found at least 2 of these games extremely difficult to pick. Virginia will be playing Albany, the team that surprised UConn last year in the first half and was rewarded with a 13 seed instead of a 16. Albany does have tournament experience and has strong guard play and should be able to slow down the pace enough to keep this game close. However, Virginia has one of the best back courts in the nation and when a mid-major has the same strength as a major team, you take the major team so select Virginia in your brackets.

Texas, and man child Kevin Durant, are matched up against New Mexico State out in Spokane, Washington. Texas just played in a very tough Big 12 conference tournament and I'm very worried about fatigue here. In addition, Texas is very inexperienced, but luckily enough for bracket selectors, so is New Mexico State. This game is going to be much closer than people think, but I can't see Durant, James and Augustine all being shut down, but can Texas play enough defense? New Mexico State has a little "magic" with former NBA player Reggie Theus as the coach and he will be able to get his team up for this game while I consider Barnes a great recruiter, but a poor in-game coach. New Mexico State likes to attack the basket and if they could somehow get Durant in foul trouble, NMSU could win this game. Straight up I'm going to pick Texas, but I would pick NMSU against the spread.

The next two 4v13 games are so close to call, they really could go either way. Maryland will face off against Davidson in Buffalo, NY. Although Maryland slipped up in the ACC conference tournament, Maryland was one of the hottest teams in the NCAA with a 7 game regular season winning streak against some of the ACC's best. Maryland has balanced scoring, good wing players, good outside shooting, great size and athleticism. After hearing all of that you would think that Maryland should have an easy time against most opponents. However, in Stephen Curry, Davidson might have the best player on the court. Curry, a freshman, is a fantastic outside shooter averaging over 21 points a game and outside shooting is the great equalizer between teams of differing talent levels. Unfortunately for Davidson, they oculdn't get a worse matchup in terms of styles. Davidson has had a problem with turning the ball over with Curry, Richars and Meno all having bad TO numbers and with Maryland's ability to pressure the ball on the perimeter and with active interior defenders, Davidson will have difficulties outscoring Maryland. Again, these teams have similar styles, but Maryland has the superior interior and should prevail.

The last 4v13 matchup features Southern Illinois vs. Holy Cross. SIU is known for their tough nosed defense, but suffer from a sometimes stagnant offense. Holy Cross will play zone and force SIU to hit their outside shots which may prove to be a problem for the MVC team. Neither team has alot of size inside either so that may hide Holy Cross' weakness which is rebounding. Of all the 4v13 matchups, this is definitely upset city potential due to the fact that SIU can't score and the game should come down to the very end just due to the offensive struggles of both teams. This game may come down to free throw shooting, in which case, Holy Cross has the edge. I have Holy Cross in my bracket - one of the first upsets I have selected.

2007 March Madness 1st Round Selection Help - #1-#3 Seeds

By hagrin - Posted on 13 March 2007

It's that time of year again - it's time for those office pools, those lines at the copiers making photocopies of those brackets and web surfing trying to figure out if those teams you haven't ever heard of or seen play can beat those major conference powerhouses. Let Hagrin, a man who watches every game he can, help you.

The Play-In Game
First, the committee wants us to call it the "Opening Round Game", but I refuse. That being said, look for Niagra to win this game. Niagra, after being disrespected by the committee by having to even play in this game, has played in a tougher conference all year, won their conference tournament and finished second in their conference behind a very good Marist team. This Niagra team started off slow due to player suspensions relating to police activity and finished the season winning 11 in a row. Look for Niagra to win this game and then get blown out by Kansas in the second half.

The #1 Seeds
All of the #1 seeds are safe again this year and will win their opening round games. The toughtest 1v16 matchup this year is Ohio State vs. Central Connecticut State. UNC, Kansas and Florida all push the tempo just a bit more than Ohio State and I can see Oden slowing OSU down some. Look for the game to play under 110 points, but OSU will wear them down and win comfortably.

The #2 Seeds
Again, all the #2 seeds should be playing in the Round of 32. The toughest matchup in the 2v15 range could be the Belmont vs. Georgetown matchup. Georgetown only scores 68.5 points per game and I've seen Hibbert disappear in games. Now, Georgetown doesn't run and plays a modified Princeton offense with a lot of backdoor cuts. If Georgetown doesn't shoot a good percentage, I could see Blemont hanging in this game.

The #3 Seeds
This is where the tournament starts to get interesting. Texas A&M is the worst team UPenn could have been matched up against. Texas A&M is a smart, well-disciplined team and will beat UPenn. Oregon is probably the second closest thing there is to a lock at the 3v14 matchups. Miami(OH) needed a miracle to beat Akron and with the travel to Spokane, I don't see Oregon with their superior guard play losing this game. Two upset alerts should definitely be sent out in favor of Wright State against Pittsburgh and Oral Roberts against Washington State. Now, I know many people will say "Have you seen Washington State play?" and the answer is yes a lot. Washington St. has no tournament experience, Oral Roberts is in the tournament for the 3rd straight year. This same Oral Roberts team walked into Kansas and beat the #1 seed Jayhawks at the beginning of this year. Now, I think that Washington State will probably win this game, but if you're looking for an upset or your pool works on a points system based on the seeding, Oral Roberts is a great pick. Now, many will say PIttsburgh has too much size ot get beat by a mid-major and they are probably right. However, Wright State actually won the Horizon conference tournament and tied for the season championship and beat Butler, a 5 seed, twice. Wright State is great from the free throw line and if they can somehow get some beneficial calls and drive the ball at the Pitt big men, they may be able to win the game at the charity stripe. Again, this is a long shot and the Oral Roberts pick is definitely better if you are looking for that 3v14 upset.

Selecting the #4 vs. #13 Games

More to come on the rest of the opening round games ...

2007 NCAA Bubble Teams

By hagrin - Posted on 11 March 2007

My brother, the resident bracketologist of our household, and myself tried to do the last 4 in and last 4 out discussion tonight after the games were done and we really had a very hard time being able to come up with a list. Here's the list we considered as true bubble teams -

(Assuming all favorites win their conference finals today)

  • Appalachian State
  • Mississippi State
  • Stanford
  • Missouri State
  • West Virginia
  • Kansas State
  • Florida State
  • Air Force
  • Old Dominion
  • Drexel
  • Illinois
  • Purdue

Looking at this list, it's really going to be hard to pick just 4 teams from this list. To me, Appalacian State, Mississippi State, Missouri State and Air Force are definitely out. Appalacian State, although a good non-conference SOS had to win their conference tournament and that's a 1 bid conference. Air Force, who STILL hasn't won a conference tournament game, is out due to a devastating collapse at the end of the season (and the gift they got last year getting in). The other 2 just don't have the resumes.

WVU is probably out because of the high-ish RPI (59), bad SOS, 2-7 record against the Top 50, non conference SOS of 272 and having played UCLA without Collison knocks them out.

Kansas State is going to be a tough one. However, high-ish RPI (56), bad SOS, terrible non-conference SOS and 3 losses outside the Top 100 (New Mexico, Colorado State and Nebraska) should keep them out. Their one saving grace is an 11-7 conference record. However, they only played A&M and Texas once - if you replace them on the schedule, they would probably be 9-9 or 8-10 (would have drawn a tougher 1st round opponent for the Big 12 tourney). The Big 12 just isn't a very good conference if you only have to play 5 of your 18 games against the 3 toughest teams and one of those teams you played 3 times. I have them out, Lunardi has them in.

FSU has every number going for them except for their 8-10 conference record and the fact that the ACC already has 7 locks for the tournament. FSU has the best RPI of a bubble team, some quality wins and maybe most importantly no bad losses all year (no losses outside Top 55 in RPI). Almost half of their losses came with their starting PG out so you have to factor that in with wins over Florida, Duke and Maryland. They got screwed last year, they should get in this year. I have them in, the entire world has them out so we'll see tomorrow.

Old Dominion has the GREAT road win at Georgetown on their campus (not the larger arena in DC). They were 2nd in the Colonial and beat up Drexel twice this year. A decent RPI, the good road win and finishing 2 full games ahead of Drexel in the CAA gives them the nod over Drexel. The Colonial is a multi-bid conference after last year's run by Mason and Hofstra getting squeezed so Old Dominion is in. To me, this is as close to a lock as you can have of the bubble teams listed.

Drexel is going to be a tough, tough decision for the committee. They finished 4th in the Colonial. They lost to ODU twice and went 1-5 against the top 3 teams in the Colonial. Just those numbers alone and you would have to say "Why are they even in the conversation". Well, here's why - 14 road wins, a 14-5 road/neutral record and with huge ROAD wins at Villanova and Syracuse back-to-back and Creighton. With huge wins like that, you would think that they should be in right? Well, factor in they lost to Rider (RPI 200), William & Mary (RPI 198) and UPenn by 19 and Drexel has to be out. Drexel is going to be the Hofstra of last year. Oh, and if you're thinking that the head-to-head record won't matter because of George Mason getting the bid last year, remember that George Mason won the regular season title, Drexel finished 4th behind Hofstra, VCA and ODU. Drexel has to be out right, but many have them in. In fact, after all of the above, I have them in because ... well, look who is left.

And now the worst two - Illinois and Purdue. If you notice, so far I have only two teams in so that would mean by default, these two have to get in; however, I don't see how these teams get in. Illinois and Purdue both have no signature road wins. Purdue has a home victory against Virginia in the ACC classic. Illinois has the better record, the better RPI, the better SOS and the far superior road/neutral win record. Purdue has two losses outside the Top 100 (Indiana State and Minnesota), but Purdue beat the heck out of Illinois. To me, this is a toss up. A lot of people are giving the edge to Purdue and I would have to as well, but I wouldn't be surprised if Illinois didn't get in. To me, one of these teams gets in so that the Big Ten gets its 5th team, but only one. I'll guess Purdue, but wouldn't be shocked to see Illinois.

My Last Four In -

FSU
ODU
Drexel
Purdue

What's great? Lunardi just made his updates and we're 2 off now. Should be interesting.