April 21, 2014

Nike Zoom Irving, Alex Mack’s Free Agency, and Fred Hoiberg Dancing (Kind of): While We’re Waiting

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Good morning and good week, my friends. I’m back, Captaining the Good Ship While We’re Waiting after a weekend full of Madness. Before you even begin to scroll, let’s make sure you threw WFNY a few votes for Best Sports Blog and Best Podcast for Cleveland Scene’s Best Of for 2014. Now, as we head in to our final week without regular season baseball, we should take a look at the lay of the land, focusing on the important and ancillary. Let’s dig in…

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WFNY Stats & Info: Easiest roads to the Final Four

With Ohio State’s dramatic win over Arizona last night, I’m certain many of you are asking this question: Who else has played only 6 seeds or worse en route to a possible Final Four? As usual, I have the statistical research for the answer today.

Dating back to the start of the 64-team bracket style in 1985, there have been 116 regions including this year. Out of those 116 regional winners that then advanced to the Final Four, Ohio State would be the 11th winner that didn’t play a top-5 seed. Thus, on average, it occurs about every three years. Here’s the list thus far:

Year Region Seed Team W #1 W #2 W #3 W #4 Result?
1986 E. Rutherford 1 Duke 16 8 12 7 Runner-up
1990 Oakland 1 UNLV 16 8 12 11 Champion
1990 Dallas 4 Arkansas 13 12 8 10 Final 4
1991 E. Rutherford 1 N. Carolina 16 9 12 10 Final 4
1993 Seattle 1 Michigan 16 9 12 7 Runner-up
1999 E. Rutherford 1 Duke 16 9 12 6 Runner-up
2001 Atlanta 1 Mich. State 16 9 12 11 Final 4
2004 Phoenix 2 Connecticut 15 7 6 8 Champion
2008 Detroit 1 Kansas 16 8 12 10 Champion

 

I had previously tweeted that Kansas in 2008 was the last such team to accomplish this feat. Their most difficult opponent was a No. 8 seed in the second round, then won in the all 1-seed Final Four. Two other teams — 1991 North Carolina and 2001 Michigan State — didn’t play any teams ranked better than No. 9.

Oddly enough, these teams then went 7-3 in the national semifinals, followed by 3-4 in the championship game. Those numbers obviously are slightly better than just average.

Of course, many high-ranked seeds lost to low seeds en route to their hopeful Final Fours. So these are just the 10 success stories against easy schedules in the first 28 years of the 64-team bracket style.

Ohio State still has one difficult task en route to their second straight Final Four — that’s No. 9 Wichita State, the same one that took down No. 1 Gonzaga last weekend. The Shockers are now ranked #20 in Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency rankings and already had impressive wins over VCU and Creighton during the regular season.

[Related: LaQuintessential! Ross Sends Bucks To Elite 8 on Second Straight GW Shot]

Final Four: Enter WFNY’s NCAA Tournament Challenge

We had hoped of getting this to the masses earlier this week, but better late than never.

final-four-logo-2013-ncaa-tournament-atlanta

The details are as follows:

  1. You’ll want to go here — Yahoo! Sports Tournament Pick’em
  2. If there are issues, the group number is 173147; the password is wfny
  3. Winner will get a slew of WFNY swag thrown their way. We have shirts, stickers, stuff…we’ll take care of you. We always do.
  4. Use your commenter handle where appropriate — it’s always nice to relate.
  5. Tell your friends. The more the merrier!

Good luck, kids. Go Buckeyes.

Deshaun Thomas Announces Return to Ohio State Basketball Team

The Ohio State University formally announced today that forward Deshaun Thomas will return next year for his junior season for the men’s basketball team. Thomas, a 6-foot-7 starter, blossomed in February and March for the Buckeyes on the team’s path to the Final Four. He is expected to be a key offensive option for head coach Thad Matta next year after sophomore forward Jared Sullinger announced his departure for the NBA earlier this week.

Thomas averaged 15.9 points on 52 percent shooting with 5.4 rebounds in starting all 39 games this past season. He averaged 19.2 and 7.4 during the final 13 games of the season. However, he struggled with just 9 points and 4 rebounds in OSU’s national semifinal loss to Kansas on March 31, his first single-digit scoring game since a Feb. 11 loss to Michigan State.

Senior guard William Buford is the other notable departure from this year’s team. Also returning next season will be two other starters, guards Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith Jr. The Buckeyes are expected to begin the season ranked in the top 25, but likely not in the top 5.

Source: [Ohio State athletics]

While We’re Waiting…OSU heads to Final Four, and Jamison could re-sign with Cavs

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

Buckeyes outlast Syracuse, head to Final Four: “Lenzelle Smith was a stone cold killer in the 2nd half with 16 of his 18 points after taking an early shot to the head and Sullinger overcame early foul trouble (7 min 1H) to add 15 of his 19 in the final 20 minutes as the Buckeyes imposed their will on a foul plagued Syracuse squad that too often settled for quick shots.

After Brandon Triche bombed a triple capped an 8-1 run cutting the OSU lead to 55-54 with 6:46 left, Sullinger scored five straight points and Smith drained a trey giving OSU a 62-55 lead with 3:16 to play. The Orange could get no closer than 70-67 when they were in foul mode and and the Buckeyes just kept stroking free throws.

The Buckeyes owned the glass 37-22 with Willie Buford (9) and Deshaun Thomas (9) leading the way. Sullinger added seven. And how bout Amir Williams? Much love to that kid tonight.

Forced into nine first half minutes after Sully and Ravenel had picked up two fouls apiece, Williams gave the Buckeyes three points, four boards and two blocks in an insanely clutch stretch. He did miss three of four free throws and turned it over twice but to be thrown into that situation – hat tip to you kind sir.

Aaron Craft fouled out with :49 left but was his normal pesky self with five points, four boards and four assists. He was also once again the clear leader on the court ordering players around, shouting encouragement including a well placed, “Amir! Dunk that MF’r”.  [Chris Lauderback / Eleven Warriors]

Celebrating a trip to the Final Four from Louisville:  “The most improbable, incredible and fulfilling three-week run of my life as a U of L basketball fan has resulted in the Louisville Cardinals being the first team to punch their ticket to New Orleans and the Final Four.  Celebrate however you will this evening, but please, please celebrate. Again, we all deserve this. Let’s win this whole thing. Go Cards.”  [Mike Rutherford / Card Chronicle]

Options for Browns at WR: “Now that we have your attention, and you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, we are in no way advocating that the Browns draft Keenum. System guys like Keenum don’t fit in the NFL, just look at Colt Brennan’s career if you forgot that fact. But the thing is, Keenum wasn’t out there on offense all by himself. Someone had to be catching all those passes. And that’s where the Browns come in as they need all the playmakers they can find on offense. The Cougars have a trio of senior wide receivers that put up big numbers in 2011

  • Patrick Edwards, with 89 receptions for 1,752 yards and 20 touchdowns
  • Tyron Carrier, with 96 receptions for 958 yards and five touchdowns
  • Justin Johnson, with 87 receptions for 1,229 yards and 12 touchdowns

We wouldn’t want the Browns to use a first- or second-round pick on one of these guys, not with Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright potentially available, but Edwards, Carrier and Johnson clearly can catch the ball when it’s thrown to them. The guy that intrigues us the most is Johnson. At 6-foot-1 and 223 pounds, he has NFL size, comparable to current Browns wide receiver Greg Little and Notre Dame’s Floyd, who are both listed as 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds.” [Red Right 88]

Antawn Jamison could be back in Cleveland next season:  “With that being said, it’s not totally out of the question that they re-sign Jamison to a cap-friendly contract starting around $5 million. The Cavs would have to be clear with the 6-foot-9, 235-pounder that they are committed to Tristan Thompson as being the starter at power forward next year.

If Jamison would agree to come off the bench and continue to mentor young players like Thompson, it wouldn’t be totally outlandish for him to return.  If he thinks he can still earn a starting job elsewhere, go to a team that has a good chance at going deep into the playoffs or get paid way more than the Cavs would be willing to offer, then wish him luck and send him on his way.

The Cavs could be a playoff team — should be, actually — next season if a consistent wing scorer and another quality big are added to the mix. Jamison loves playing for the Cavs. They love having him. It might make more sense than one realizes for him to return.” [Bob Finnan / The Morning Journal]

Here’s where I said yesterday the Buckeyes would beat Syracuse by seven points:  “Even in this tournament, Aaron Craft, William Buford, Deshaun Thomas, and Jared Sullinger haven’t all had good to great games at the same time. If they can tonight though, despite everything that’s happened this season, they go to the Final Four.  Personally I think it happens, and I got the Buckeyes winning by seven tonight.”  [WFNY]

Louisville beats Florida, punches ticket to Final Four

You might not have had this in your bracket, but Samardo Samuels had it in his. Louisville headed to Final Four after beating Bradley Beal and the Florida Gators on Saturday.

Recap from the AP via USA Today:

Rick Pitino nudged out Billy Donovan for a spot in the Final Four on Saturday when his Louisville team finished the game on a 23-8 run for a 72-68 victory over Florida in the West Regional.

Chane Behanan hit the go-ahead basket with 1:04 left for fourth-seeded Louisville, then after two Cardinals free throws, Florida’s Bradley Beal and Erving Walker each missed chances to tie.

The seventh-seeded Gators (26-11) fell in the regional semifinals for the second straight year, while Louisville (30-9) will go to the Final Four for the ninth time, and the second under Pitino

Russ Smith led Louisville with 19 points and Behanan had 17. The Cardinals played the final 3:58 without point guard Peyton Siva, who fouled out.

The Gators shot 8 for 11 from 3-point range in the first half but didn’t make one in the second.

2012 WFNY Bracket Contest – First Winner Chosen!

I told you guys that I would be giving out prizes for joining our March Madness bracket contest. Well, today’s winner has been chosen pretty randomly.

Before I name the winner, let me thank all 337 of you who decided to join up. I’ll even thank the few of you who joined and then forgot to fill out a bracket. I am humbled that so many people decided to join up to try and win free stuff from WFNY.

So, how did the first winner get chosen? The number 13 is my favorite number. There were 9 people who are currently in 13th place.

Contestant Chosen Winner
13 1 Round and Done Kentucky
13 Scrapin’ Bottom Kentucky
13 The Ostrich Farm North Carolina
13 Hangin’ with DJ Cooper North Carolina
13 mouse Michigan St.
13 Urine Trouble Michigan St.
13 Bulldogs 3 Duke
13 Shock and Audit Kentucky
13 5KMD Kentucky

 

So, how did I choose the winner after that? [Read more...]