Thursday, March 31, 2011
Opening Day is exactly like that. Every team looks at their squad, their schedule, their division, and thinks: "We've got a shot to pull this one out". That young kid that tore up the minors and made the team out of spring training? He's gonna be the Rookie of the Year. The number two starter who didn't have his best year last year? He's going to bounce back. Everybody thinks they have a shot.
And why not? That's not to say that the Royals have as equally great a shot to win the World Series as the Red Sox, but that's not the point. Opening Day is about thinking about the future, envisioning successes that come out of the blue and guys realizing their full potential. If you don't think you can win, you don't belong in this game.
Opening Day is the greatest of all days in baseball because every team is equal. Every team is as close to the dogpile on the mound after the final out in the World Series as any other team. And then the summer wears on, pretenders fade from view, and the best of the best duke it out for a ring. And then, after the trees lose their leaves, and that groundhog sees his shadow (or not), everybody looks at their roster, and dreams of the chase for the ring in October once again.
Even though we are in the midst of March Madness, most Americans have had the words “Opening Day” on their lips for several months now. Baseball is the game of choice in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave—no doubt about that. Along with the first real pitch of the year comes the speculation about which team will be the last one standing this fall. This debate this year should be somewhat different...not who will be the World Series Champion, but rather, will anyone be able to stop the Boston Red Sox?
The 2010 campaign was only the second year in the past nine where the Sox failed to eclipse the 90 win threshold. Although many fans around the country would be glad to see their team post 89 wins (as the Sox did last year), that didn't sit well with the Red Sox Nation. These aren't your ordinary fans. They not only expect to win...they believe it is their divine right for Sox to rule the MLB. The scary thing about the 2011 Red Sox roster is that it can fully back up the "Masshole Mentality" that the fans of Fenway bring to the game.
The Red Sox drove in 818 runs last year, second only the the Yankee's 859. They had the MLB's highest slugging percentage at 45.1%. This is a team that had no trouble thriving on offense, even in the face of decimating injuries to key players in the rotation. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis all missed major time due to injuries and being placed on the DL. For large stretches of the season, the Sox were playing with a disrupted batting lineup. A slew of other injuries plagued Boston throughout the season, diminishing productivity and overall team chemistry.
This year, Boston seems to be back and badder than ever. The heart of their lineup will be difficult to navigate through smoothly. Ellsbury, Pedroia, Youkilis and Ortiz are all healthy and ready to play. Add to the mix the two biggest off season acquisitions in recent memory, first basemen Adrian Gonzalez and outfielder Carl Crawford, this lineup is going to be deadly to say the least. The Opening Day lineup consists of Ellsbury, Pedroia, Crawford, Youkilis, Gonzalez, Ortiz, Cameron, Saltalamacchia and Scutaro. No other team can put together a more potent lineup than this. On top of this, the Boston rotation projects to be one of the best in baseball. Although the Phillies may have the name recognition, the Red Sox rotation could be better overall. Beckett, Lester, Lackey, Buchholz and Matsuzaka are as a strong a starting pitching staff as any. Behind them is a proven bullpen led by Jonathan Papelbon and Tim Wakefield.
The bottom is that, barring unforeseen injuries, this team has no glaring weaknesses. One of the best lineups in baseball from last year is completely healthy and has added two monster additions, additions which could make it impossible to beat. The pitching staff, in particular Beckett, is healthy and pretty strong from top to bottom. This team has the passion of a determined fan base lighting a fire underneath them. If Lady Luck favors Boston this year, Major League Baseball should be afraid....because the Red Sox will be their own worst enemy on the road to the 2011 World Series.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Despite numerous injuries, this Phillies team is still going to win games in bunches. With that starting rotation, how can you not? That aside, the Utley injury hurts the lineup for the first half of the season, but the hitters appear to be approaching another season with a strong spring to back it up. The most glaring loss is that of Jayson Werth, leaving the right field position to Ben Francisco. Also, the (re)addition of Cliff Lee makes this staff the best in the National League. The Phillies will have competition from both the Braves and Marlins, with the more serious threat coming from Atlanta. The Braves have very solid pitching and a good young core with players like Freddy Freeman and Jason Heyward. The Marlins, behind ace Josh Johnson, will win some games, but lack a bat behind Hanley Ramirez (formerly Dan Uggla, now playing for Atlanta) and the experience to stick out the late weeks. The Mets...are still the Mets. However, with new leadership in GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins, New York is building for 2012. Washington rounds out the division, with good recent drafts and a big free agent acquisition in Jayson Werth, but other than that, the cupboard is pretty bare. Washington lacks the pitching to contend in 2011, but look for the return of Stephen Strasburg around July.
Division Winner: Philadelphia 96-66
Runner Up: Atlanta 91-71
This division appears to be up for grabs. The big deals over the offseason were made by the Brewers, who acquired ace Zack Greinke and young pitcher Shaun Marcum. With Yovani Gallardo in the rotation, Milwaukee could very well win the Central on those arms and the bat of Prince Fielder. Chicago and St. Louis may look to vie for second place, as the Chris Carpenter injury will hurt the Cardinals playoff chances mightily. Also, the threat of Albert Pujols leaving at the end of the season could cast a pall over Busch Stadium all year. The Cubs are still another arm away from the playoffs, but could look to acquire a big name in the 2012 offseason. Division champion Cincinnati is looking at a challenge when faced with the task of winning the division. Their pitching was exposed in the 2010 NLDS and questions remain as to whether they can handle the National League superstar pitchers in big moments. The Astros are in rebuilding mode following last year's Roy Oswalt deal, and Pittsburgh is apparently still a major league team according to my research, but the Pirates are destined for their 19th losing season in a row.
Division Winner: Milwaukee 90-72
Runner Up: St. Louis 87-75
The National League West is often the weakest division in baseball by record, but in 2010, it produced the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. The Giants will remain atop the division in 2011, with a phenomenal pitching staff anchored by young ace Tim Lincecum. Also, look for Pablo Sandoval to have a rebound year. Their rivals to the south, the Los Angeles Dodgers will stay in the race, but can the post-Manny Dodgers achieve as they did in 2008 and 2009? The Rockies look to also pose a threat to San Francisco, as a squad fronted by hurler Ubaldo Jimenez and newly-inked sluggers Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki can play with any team in the majors. Arizona is a work in progress under first year manager Kirk Gibson. The Diamondbacks are also looking for a big year from Justin Upton and a foundation to build a team on. The Padres were significantly weakened in the offseason by trading Adrian Gonzalez to Boston, and no amount of good young pitching will save this team from finishing in the bottom half of the race.
Winner: San Francisco 94-68
Runner Up: Colorado 89-73
Philadelphia over Milwaukee
Atlanta over San Francisco
League Champion: Philadelphia Phillies
Runner Up: Atlanta Braves
AL East: The toughest division in baseball just got tougher. The Blue Jays and Orioles are rebuilding, Tampa is stocked with young talent, and the Yankees' lineup remains as potent as ever. But, the favorite to win the east has to be Boston. Coming off an injury-plagued season in which they still won 89 games, the Sox went out and added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, two of the most exciting hitters in the game. With an already formidable lineup, this team has the chance to be special. The thing that may derail the Sox's fortunes may be a somewhat shaky looking bullpen. Beckett and Lackey must also stay healthy. The team closest to the Sox is the Yankees. The lineup is great, but aging and prone to injury. The starting pitching, besides CC, leaves something to be desired. Look for the Yankees to try to trade for a starter at midseason, but it won't be enough to catch Boston, or make the playoffs for that matter.
Division winner: Boston: 97-65.
Runner up: New York: 91-71
AL Central: The AL central looks to be nearly as tough as the AL East. The Royals and Indians are stocked with talent, but not quite ready to compete. The other three teams teams, however, are looking to win the division this year. The Tigers bring a retooled roster into the new season and are hungry to get back on top. The Twins will be as good as ever, getting Morneau and Nathan back to try and repeat as division champs. It is the Chicago White Sox, however, who will win the division this year. The bullpen is solid from front to back, and their rotation will continue to be a strength of the team, with or without Jake Peavy. The question with the Sox has always been scoring runs. They brought in Adam Dunn this offseason, which will provide plenty of pop. The key to the lineup, though, lies in a resurgent Gordon Beckham. He tore it up as a rookie two years ago, but had a down year last year. If Beckham can get on base and move over lightning-fast Juan Pierre, look for the RBI's to pile up for one of the most fearsome 3-4-5 combos in the majors in Konerko, Dunn, and Rios. The Twins don't have many weaknesses either, as they have a solid back end of the pen, decent starting pitching, and the ability to score a lot of runs. Their organizational depth is unparalled. The Tigers have a lot of talent, but may be a bit distracted after the Miguel Cabrera saga this offseason.
Division Winner: Chicago: 94-68
Runner up: Minnesota: 93-69 (Wild Card)
AL West: The West is up for grabs. Besides the Mariners, any team in the divison has a legitimate chance to win the division. Although Texas lost Cliff Lee, they still have decent starting pitching and a good bullpen with Feliz as the closer. The lineup will surely score runs, especially with the addition of Adrian Beltre. Oakland is being picked as a possible division winner as well. With great young pitching and the addition of a few veteran hitters, many people think Oakland has the firepower to take the west. The team that many are not talking about, though, is the Angels. Los Angeles faded down the stretch last year, as they did not hit or pitch especially well. Many people wrote them off after failing to acquire Carl Crawford. But this team is better than people think. The pitching will for sure be better this year, with Dan Haren leading the rotation back to respectability. Kendry Morales is a monster, and there are many other solid hitters in a lineup that is speedy as well. The Angels will go back to playing Mike Scioscia style baseball, and win a weakened west.
Division Winner: Los Angeles: 90-72
Runner Up: Texas: 88-74
AL Champion: Boston
Runner Up: Chicago
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
All of our writers have been swamped with school work, but we promise to have a few things out for you to read in the coming days. We will have Final Four coverage, as well as MLB previews for the AL and NL.
If you are at all interested in writing for The Point After, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. In your email, please write a brief description on why you want to join and your areas of knowledge in sports.
Thank you once again!
Is this really true? Does every city have a chance to win it all? I think not. With the ever growing spending of major markets such as the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Boston Redsox, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Chicago Cubs, and the Philadelphia Phillies; baseball is becoming a sport that favors the richest franchises. Excluding the Angels in 2002 Marlins in 2003, in the past decade the winners of the world series have been in the top ten (or very near) highest payrolls in the league. This upper echelon of teams have been consistent with their playoff appearances.
Lets take a look at the World Series Winners since 2001 and their opening day salaries
2001- Arizona Diamondbacks 81 million (8th)
2002- Anaheim Angels 61.7 million (14th)
2003- Florida Marlins 49 million (25th)
2004- Boston Red Sox 125.2 million (2nd)
2005- Chicago White Sox 75.2 million (12th)
2006- St. Louis Cardinals 88.9 million (9th)
2007- Boston Red Sox 143 million (2nd)
2008- Philadelphia Phillies 98 million (10th)
2009- New York Yankees 201.5 million (1st)
2010- San Francisco Giants 98 million (10th)
2011- TBA- >100 million
Aside from the Dbacks, Marlins, and White Sox, the trend is a 100 million dollar payroll and above will give you much better chances of playing in, and winning the World Series. I do not want to make the more successful franchises seem like they are evil for blowing so much money on key players, but more so to criticize the luxury tax system. Yes, it does add money to the sport, and makes teams such as NYY, NYM, and BOS pay a large fine for going over the salary cap (which is set annually); however, having no concrete salary cap in baseball is making it closer to impossible for the small city franchises to break through, and make a run for the championship.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Keys to the Game: Florida's inside game vs. Butler's defense, Matt Howard's impact throughout the game, and transition defense for both teams.
So let the games begin. March Madness is heating up and it won't cool down anytime soon.
"The Point After is Good"
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The Ohio State-Kentucky game is at 9:45 this Thursday. Love em' or hate em', this is a classic matchup of two historic and successful programs. Kentucky is a solid team, especially with Brandon Knight playing the way he has been. Ohio State is just so good though. They remind me of a college version of the Orlando Magic, with an excellent big man inside surrounded by a stable of marksmen from the perimeter. Kentucky and Brandon Knight will give Ohio State a game, but Sullinger and company will prove to be too much for Calipari's team, icing the game late in the second half after a barrage of threes.
The other intriguing matchup of the day is UNC versus Marquette, which starts at 7:15. Marquette has been playing great lately, getting an unlikely win over Big East Power Syracuse. The thing that has struck me about UNC, though, is their ability to beat you in so many ways. They can shoot the three, pound it inside, or when the going gets tough give it to Harrison Barnes, one of the nation's most exciting young players. I love to pick the upset, but UNC is just too balanced to be beat in this round.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The first matchup is Duke vs. Arizona. This game has the makings to be another nail-biter, with star power on both ends. Duke has been a top notch team all year long and with a revived Kyrie Irving, the Blue Devils are poised to make a championship run. Kyle Singler and company have been playing well, despite barely pulling out a victory against a pesky Michigan team. This matchup does not favor Duke, because of Derrick Williams. The standout big man for Arizona has had an unbelievable year and will cause problems down low for Duke. Williams gets to the hoop very well and is so quick and big that no person can guard him alone. He will cause foul trouble inside, creating a lot of free throws for himself. This game will come down to Arizona's ability to control Duke's penetration and shooting. If they can shoot well, they can easily win this game; however, the moment that Derrick Williams heats up, Arizona can take over as well. Duke MUST not settle for contested jumpers, otherwise they will be dominated by a very talented team on the boards.
The other West game is a #2 - #3 battle, between SDSU and Connecticut. San Diego State advanced to the sweet 16 after defeating Temple in double overtime, but should have lost that game. SDSU is a solid basketball team and plays great team defense. The team does not shoot very well, but they do control the tempo of the game and get to the free throw line. They can lull you to sleep with their offense, often going deep into the shot clock. On the other hand, Kemba Walker is just a flat out stud. He can score however, whenever and wherever he is on the court. He is an underrated passer and rebounder as well, and if he shoots poorly, he will contribute another way. The rest of the Huskies better be ready, because you know Kemba is going to be fired up in what could be his final game at UConn.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Instead of talking about this game, as a student at Villanova, I have no choice, but to look towards next season. This team will lose three starters: Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, and Antonio Pena. The recruiting class isn't the strongest of them all, but it will allow Villanova to build a new culture. With Mouphtaou Yarou, Isaiah Armwood, Maurice Sutton, and newcomer, Markus Kennedy, Villanova will have a ton of big men, going away from the traditional Guard U teams that Jay Wright has put together. Jayvaughn Pinkston will be back from his suspension as he also adds size to an already lengthy team. Maalik Wayns will be in charge of running the offense, which he did a lot this year as well. Dominic Cheek will possibly be put into the starting lineup, depending on how the incoming freshmen respond early (Tyrone Johnson, Darrun Hilliard, and Achraf Yacoubou). James Bell will have to work hard this summer to get ready for next season, because he will probably play a big role next year. He played well in glimpses, but he needs to become more of a consistent perimeter shooter.
Overall, this team will lose three very good players and will have to rely a lot on underclassmen, which may be their downfall. Wayns will really have to step up for this team to do anything next year, but I still foresee a struggle for the Wildcats. The loss of Corey Stokes could be the biggest of them all, because there really is no good three point shooter left on the team, unless Pinkston or the Freshmen are successful in their first season. It's the worst day every year for any sports fan, but we can sit back and enjoy the rest of the NCAA tournament.
Butler's Matt Howard beat Old Dominion with a put back layup as the clock expired.
Morehead State crushes Louisville's Final Four hopes with three pointer in final seconds
Fernandez leads Temple to victory with tip in after Penn State tied the game with a late three
Kentucky escapes Upset City with Brandon Knights layup with two seconds left
Anderson's 25 allows Richmond to hold on late against Vanderbilt for the upset
Michigan State almost rallies back, but UCLA holds on for narrow victory
Gonzaga crushes St. John's as third upset occurs in Denver
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The RPI is composed of three parts. 25% of the number depends on a team's winning percentage, 50% depends on opponents' winning percentage, and 25% depends on opponents' opponents' winning percentage. This boils down to 25% of the ranking based on winning, and 75% due to strength of schedule. It is true that strength of schedule is very important when evaluating a team. But, should it be the crucial, deciding factor in judging whether a team is tournament worthy?
RPI does not take into account margin of victory, so a blowout of a powerhouse means the same as a squeaker over a weak mid-major. It also does not account for games against non-division- one schools. This means that a loss to a division II school does not affect your RPI. How can an observer get a full picture of a team's success through this stat? There is simply no way to do it.
A better ranking system would be one that puts more emphasis on wins, rather than only getting 25% credit for one. If a team loaded up its schedule with quality opponents, they would hardly have to break 500 to get into the tournament under RPI influence. The perfect case is Michigan State, who despite having only 4 more wins than losses, made the tournament as a ten seed!
The RPI system can give rise to a vicious cycle. Since it is 75% based on strength of schedule, a team will only try to schedule opponents who are not only good but who also have strong schedules, since 25% of a team's ranking is based on opponents' opponents' winning percentage. So, with a few exceptions, the teams with strong schedules all play each other and do not have to sweat on selection Sunday, while many teams are left out in the cold.
This year, 5 teams with 14 losses are in the tournament. 5! This just shows how actually winning games has fallen so far down the priority list. RPI is a misleading statistic that surely helped many of these teams into the tournament. The tournament is supposed to be about winning games, not about how tough your schedule was.
What's the Point is a weekly column written by David Straple. Feel free to comment.
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San Diego State
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
As most college basketball fans know at this point, the NCAA Tournament was expanded to a field of 68 teams, opposed the usual 65. This new format includes three extra play-in games, making a total of four. The new format also causes, for the first time, play-in games to be truly relevant in the scheme of the entire tournament, as they are not all competing just for 16 seeds.
(16) UNC-Asheville (19-13) vs. (16) Arkansas-Little Rock (19-16)
Dayton, Ohio – 6:30 PM, March 15
At first glance anyone would question how two teams from mid majors with under 20 wins even got in the tournament, but both teams are excited to be dancing. The Bulldogs of UNC-Ashville come in to tonight’s match up having won only one tournament game back in 2003. On the other side, the Trojans of Arkansas-Little Rock haven’t appeared in the tournament in over twenty years. The Bulldogs come in to this game on a six game winning streak and are the favorite to win by far. The victor of this game would play the (1) Pittsburgh Panthers in Washington D.C. on Thursday.
(12) Clemson (21-11) vs. (12) UAB (22-8)
Dayton, Ohio – 9:00 PM, March 15
There was much debate over UAB’s selection in to the NCAA Tournament; Clemson on the other hand was a lock with a 21 win season from the ACC. The Tigers of Clemson come in to the tournament rebounding from a loss last Saturday to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament as do the Blazers of UAB, losing in the Conference USA tournament. Although Clemson is the favorite look for an upset in this game. Clemson tends to play poorly away from home (3-7), whereas the UAB is much better (9-5). Whoever comes out the victor in this game will play (5) West Virginia in Tampa Bay, Florida on Thursday.
(16) Texas-San Antonio (19-13) vs. (16) Alabama State (17-17)
Dayton, Ohio – 6:30 PM, March 16
It seems unfair to the teams left out that a .500 Alabama State team from the SWAC got in to a play-in game, but they are only one game away from getting in to Round 1 of the tournament. In Alabama State’s defense, the Hornets were devastated by injuries early in the season, starting 1-8, but since have turned things around, winning 11 of their last 12. The Roadrunners of Texas-San Antonio have also been a hot team as of late, winning five games including the Southland Conference Tournament. These teams are very closely matched, and have similar records home and away, however, look for the senior leadership of Alabama State to give them the edge in this one. The winner will advance to play the (1) Ohio State Buckeyes in the next round in Cleveland, Ohio on Friday.
(11) VCU (23-11) vs. (11) USC (19-14)
Dayton, Ohio – 9:00 PM, March 16
Most college basketball fans remember VCU as the school that knocked off Duke in the first round of the 2007 NCAA tournament. None of the players from that team are around for this one, but the VCU program has been here before. On the other side, USC is a team that has had its ups and downs all year, at one point defeating #20 Texas, but then losing to Bradley. In this matchup the Trojans have a clear size advantage down low. Rebounding and points in the paint will be key in this game, both favoring USC. The winning team will move on to play the (6) Georgetown Hoyas in Chicago, Illinois on Friday.
The addition of four "play in" games instead of two this year allows for lesser and more unknown teams the chance to prove they can play with the best college basketball programs. This year, UAB and VCU will get the chance to try and earn themselves a spot in the bracket. There has been much debate as to whether or not these two teams deserve to be in the tournament, but the fact of the matter is what's done is done, despite many disagreements. I wish UAB and VCU best of luck, but feel extremely sympathetic for Colorado and Virginia Tech who had outstanding years and showed the nation that their basketball programs will be fired up and ready for the opening tip-off to the season next year.
The four #1 seeds, Ohio State, Pitt, Duke, and Kansas will be ready to play but watch out because I gaurantee you whoever plays them will play with lots of heart, extreme tenacity and attitude in order to make a statement. BYU and SDSU, as highlighted before, find themselves in the national spotlight and are looking to perform well in the tournament in order to proudly represent the West Coast. So, from this post you can probably tell I am excited for March Madness right? Well here's how I really feel...
LETS GOO!! I wait every year for March. Not for the cold weather, not for the end of the school year but for the NCAA Tournament (with bathing suit season right around the corner). Ok, nevermind that last part but without further wait, ladies and gentlemen welcome to March Madness. The place where memories are made, hearts are shattered, nets are cut down, and where every single point, play, turnover and free throw counts. So buckle up, sit back, turn that remote to CBS or ESPN and prepare for an event thats "AWESOME BABY!!!" (Dick Vitale voice)
"The Point After is Good"
Sunday, March 13, 2011
The Point After Bracket Challenge
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
It is crazy to think that some people are now talking about Villanova being on the bubble, but watching this team play provides evidence to back up that claim. Villanova currently doesn't pass the eye test, but the Wildcats have too many quality wins (Syracuse, West Virginia, Marquette, Cincinnati, UCLA, and Temple) to be omitted from the field of 68. It is certainly true that Villanova is not the same team as they were a month ago, but the committee will not overlook them on Sunday.
Corey Fisher has struggled so much in this recent skid that Maalik Wayns has overtook him in terms of leadership of the offense. I honestly feel more comfortable with Wayns running the offense versus Fisher because of the way Maalik is shooting the ball. When hot, Fisher is one of the best players in the country, but his inconsistency has doomed this team. Corey Stokes had to sit out four games due to a turf toe and then missed the game against Pitt with a left hamstring injury. In the games he has played, Stokes has done a great job of spacing the floor and knocking down his shots, but he seems to disappear late in games.
Stokes and Wayns may be the only two players that have been positively contributing consistently in the past month. Antonio Pena has struggled with his jump shot and has done a poor job on defense and rebounding. Mouphtaou Yarou has done a little better rebounding, but is having a lot of trouble finishing around the hoop. Isaiah Armwood is playing a lot of minutes, but is simply not an offensive threat which creates problems for Villanova on offense. Maurice Sutton has had trouble staying on the floor, as he fouls more than he rebounds. Dominic Cheek has been in a three month shooting slump and has seen his minutes dwindle late in the season, while Freshman James Bell has been streaky at best.
In the end, I think a lot goes on to Jay Wright and Corey Fisher. After superstar Scottie Reynolds' departure last season, somebody needed to step up as a leader for Villanova. Many believed Corey Fisher would take over that role, but he has struggled in that role this year. Jay Wright has had trouble relying on Fisher because of his inability to stay out of foul trouble and to limit his turnovers. Jay Wright has been trying new things to try and jumpstart this team, but nothing has worked so far. It is time to see if Jay Wright can pull some magic out of his suit, as the entire Villanova team is basically in a slump.
I believe that Villanova could still make a run into the Sweet 16, but I still doubt the team. The best scenario right now for the Wildcats is an 11 seed playing next Friday, allowing some of their players to rest up an extra day as they prepare for the NCAA tournament. Villanova will be in the tournament, but will probably be the lowest ranked team of the Big East teams to earn a bid. There have been better days at Villanova, but hope does remain on this lovely campus just north of Philadelphia.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Divisions do not encourage rivalries or keep costs down in the NBA like they do in other sports. In basketball, you play your division opponents 4 times each. Then, depending on your schedule, you play other teams in your conference 3 or 4 times also, and have multiple games against every team in the other conference. Compared to the NFL, where 6 out of 16 games are against division opponents, basketball does not even come close in using its divisions to cut down travel costs and to stir up regional rivalries.
Winning the division in the NBA punches a ticket to the playoffs. But, in a league where half of the teams make the playoffs, is it necessary to have to be crowned a division winner in order to make the playoffs? If teams went on record alone, the playoff seeding would shake out much the same way that it does under this format. If a team did not battle it out against their division opponents and basically played the same number of games against every team in the league, it makes no sense to give out a meaningless award to the top team in a mere regional grouping.
Divisions may serve an important purpose in the MLB or the NFL, but they have no place in the NBA. They save the league virtually no money, they do not foster rivalries, and the title of division champion is basically meaningless. I think fans of the NBA are smart enough to know that the Miami Heat are located in the "southeast" part of the country.
What's the Point is a weekly column by David Straple. Feel free to comment.