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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Zack Greinke traded to Milwaukee

Zack Greinke was not only the best player on the Royals in 2009 but he was the best pitcher in the American League.  Last season he regressed significantly but was still good. After telling the Royals he no longer wanted to be there, nearly every team had a chance to get him.  After about a month of speculation, a winner emerged when the Milwaukee Brewers traded four players for Greinke

The breakdown is after the jump.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cliff Lee: He's baaaaack

I've refrained from adding any commentary relating to free agent signings thus far but "The Decision 2010"--wait, someone already used that? Fine. But Cliff Lee choosing Philadelphia's offer over the Yankees offer, which would have made him ridiculously filthy rich, was a bit surprising.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More Conference Predictions

Yesterday I covered the major conferences so today I'll move on to the mid-majors.

Colonial Athletic Association
Conference Champ: Old Dominion
Other contenders: George Mason, Drexel, VCU, Delaware
Multiple Bids?: 40%
I'm not sure who the best team is.  I know Old Dominion has three impressive wins already (Clemson, Xavier, Richmond) and that they were very good last year.  VCU and George Mason are usually in the mix and the conference's most improved team, Drexel, will be as well.

Conference USA
Conference Champ: Memphis
Other contenders: UTEP, Central Florida, Southern Mississippi
Multiple Bids?: Yes
Apologies to Memphis for not including Conference USA with the other major conferences in yesterday's post. I just have a hard time considering this a power conference when there's only one team who is consistently worthy of a top 5 seed.  That being said, with the expansion in this year's tournament I can see possibly three teams qualifying. Jordan's kid (UCF) is fun to watch.

Horizon League
Conference Champ: Valparaiso
Other contenders: Butler, Cleveland St.
Multiple Bids?: 25%
Still a league that gets no respect even after Butler's run for the ages last year.  I'm picking Valpo on a hunch although I believe Butler is the best team.  Cleveland St. has shown they're no slouch either as they beat Butler twice in 2008-09.

Missouri Valley
Conference Champ: Wichita St.
Other contenders: Missouri St., Northern Iowa, Illinois St., Creighton
Multiple Bids?: 50/50
As usual, the MVC is a solid conference.  There are no elite teams but the top half can compete with just about anybody.  Unfortunately the best win for the conference thus far is Evansville's road victory over Butler.  Only UNI has beaten a power conference team and that was Iowa St.  Not exactly impressive resumes being built here.

Mountain West
Conference Champ: San Diego St.
Other contenders: UNLV, BYU, New Mexico
Multiple Bids?: Absolutely
Last year the MWC proved it was the best mid-major and should possibly be considered a power conference.  This year is the same story. SDSU, BYU, and UNLV should all be ranked and will likely grab a couple of top 5 seeds if they take care of business versus conference opponents as they have already notched quality wins against non-conference foes.  If New Mexico can finish fourth and sneak in a couple of wins from the top three schools they may get an at-large bid as well.

West Coast Conference
Conference Champ: St. Mary's
Other contenders: Gonzaga, Portland
Multiple Bids?: 35%
St. Mary's is my pick this year as they look to build off last year's success in the NCAA Tournament.  A lot of people may think I'm overreacting but has anyone seen Gonzaga play this year?  They've played five teams that can be considered top 50 teams and they are 0-5 in those games.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

NCAA Basketball Predictions

It's the time of year where I really get into blogging. Three cheers for college basketball!  In the next few posts I'll delve into my predictions for the upcoming season as well as some mid-major programs to be aware of.  Ok, here we go with the power conferences.

Conference Champ: Duke
Likely Tournament Teams: Maryland, Florida St., North Carolina
Need a few breaks: Virginia Tech, Miami, Clemson, Boston College
Wait til Next Year: Wake Forest, Virginia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina St.
The ACC again will send multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament but as a whole the conference is not as strong as in years past.  That won't stop #1 Duke from trying to become the first repeat champs since Florida in 2006 and 2007.

Atlantic 10
Conference Champ: Richmond
Likely Tournament Teams: Xavier, Temple
Need a few breaks: UMass, Dayton, St. Louis, Charlotte, Rhode Island, Duquense
Wait til Next Year: LaSalle, St. Bonaventure, St. Joseph's, George Washington, Fordham
Richmond has the reigning conference player of the year and has already knocked off Purdue.  Xavier seems to haven taken a small step back but is still solid.  Temple could be a sleeper this season. Well, I guess I should have written this before they beat Georgetown.

Big 12
Conference Champ: Kansas
Likely Tournament Teams: Baylor, Texas, Missouri, Kansas St., Texas A&M
Need a few breaks: Iowa St., Oklahoma St.
Wait til Next Year: Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas Tech
The Big 12 can arguably be called the deepest conference in the land. Personally, I feel the Big Ten is better but only time will tell which is really the case.  Kansas St. may be the most overrated team in the country but Baylor and Texas A&M are very strong.  Kansas, as usual, is my favorite to win the conference.

Big East
Conference Champ: Pittsburgh
Likely Tournament Teams: Louisville, Syracuse, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Villanova, Georgetown
Need a few breaks: Cincinnati, Seton Hall, Providence, St. John's, Marquette
Wait til Next Year: DePaul, Rutgers, South Florida
I honestly have no idea who will win this conference. I'm impressed by Pitt's back to back wins over Maryland and Texas so they're my pick.  The Big East as usual has several good teams but some pretty bad teams. I think DePaul will win more than two conference games this year but I doubt they win five.  Depending on how the year shakes out, I could see a couple of teams in the "Need a few Breaks" category qualify for the Big Dance. Thanks for 68, selection committee.

Big Ten
Conference Champ: Michigan St.
Likely Tournament Teams: Illinois, Ohio St., Purdue, Wisconsin, Minnesota
Need a few breaks: Northwestern
Wait til Next Year: Indiana, Penn St., Michigan, Iowa
Unlike years past, the bottom of this conference is not filled with pushovers.  That was often the biggest criticism that prevented the Big Ten from being included in the "Best League" talk. With Iowa substantially improved and Indiana inching toward decency, those days are over.  Michigan St. is playing a brutal schedule early and not faring well--which is typical.  The two teams I'm still watching are Purdue and Northwestern. I'm not sure how either team will do this year.  The rest I'm confident I've pegged in the right spot.

Pac 10
Conference Champ: Washington
Likely Tournament Teams: Washington St., UCLA, Arizona
Need a few breaks: Cal, Stanford, Arizona St.
Wait til Next Year: Oregon St., Oregon, USC (ineligible)
The Pac 10 is a weird conference.  Last year the first place and eighth place team were separated by only two games with just four to go!  I don't expect that to happen again this season. Washington has most of their team returning and has already scored over 100 points four times. Today's game against Texas A&M will say a lot.

Conference Champ: Kentucky
Likely Tournament Teams: Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
Need a few breaks: Mississippi, Georgia, Mississippi St., LSU, Arkansas, Alabama
Wait til Next Year: Auburn, South Carolina
The fact that five teams are bunched in the "Need a few breaks" category should tell you how I feel about the SEC this season. They stink.  The SEC West's best team is Mississippi and I'm not even sure they're a tournament team. Kentucky has a ton of young guys, a staple under Calipari, but I don't think this is a Final Four or even an Elite 8 team.

Tomorrow I'll preview the other conferences that have legitimate tournament teams.