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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, March 11, 2012 at 6:49 PM

It’s kind of a tradition here in the Network NOTEBOOK. The Monday after Championship Weekend we crunch the numbers from all the title tilts from the main Las Vega betting board. It’s a great way to find context for what just happened the past couple of days…but it’s a REALLY great way to prepare for the NCAA Tournament. When you see strengths and weaknesses played out against big time competition, it helps you make informed decisions the next time everyone takes the floor.

There are a lot of games to run through. So, without further ado…here’s our annual review of conference tournament championship summaries. Games are presented in rotation order, starting with the CUSA game on Saturday…

 

CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONSHIP

MEMPHIS 83, MARSHALL 56

Shooting Pct: Marshall 36%, Memphis 59%

Three-Pointers: Marshall 5/20, Memphis 6/12

Free Throws: Marshall 8/18, Memphis 25/27

Rebounds: Marshall 27, Memphis 30

Phantom Score: Marshall 61, Memphis 70

Turnovers: Marshall 7, Memphis 12

Vegas Line: Memphis by 12, total of 137

Pomeroy Rank: Marshall 69, Memphis 10

Great weekend for Memphis, who was the best team coming in by a good bit and enjoyed home court advantage. In this game, they also ran into a tired Marshall team that really had to battle earlier in the event. Pomeroy says Memphis is one of the best 10 teams in the country. They sure played to that level this weekend. Keep an eye on the Tigers as a possible mid-major darkhorse if the committee doesn’t seed them properly. They have a lot in common with Wichita State in terms of mid-major danger…but they’re not getting the same level of hype to this point. For you newcomers, Phantom Score is a secondary score we invented many years ago that reflects the most important elements of a game. It’s simply two-point scoring plus rebounding. Memphis wasn’t as impressive in that stat, as they got a big boost from the free throw line in makes and attempts. Wow…they keep shooting free throws like that and they’re going to be dangerous this month.

 

PAC 12 CHAMPIONSHIP

COLORADO 53, ARIZONA 51

Shooting Pct: Colorado 38%, Arizona 37%

Three-Pointers: Colorado 5/31, Arizona 5/19

Free Throws: Colorado 10/16, Arizona 10/18

Rebounds: Colorado 35, Arizona 23

Phantom Score: Colorado 63, Arizona 49

Turnovers: Colorado 8, Arizona 7

Vegas Line: Arizona by 3.5, total of 129

Pomeroy Rank: Colorado 81, Arizona 46

You know the Pac 12 has to be embarrassed that one of the new kids on the block won the automatic bid. It’s also horrible that this team wasn’t very good last year in the Big 12. Colorado deserves a lot of credit for winning four games in four days. But, it sure came against a mediocre league! Clean win in Phantom Score for the Buffaloes. But, we’re still talking about a team that was 5 of 31 on treys. It’s going to be very hard to back any Pac 12 team in the Dance given what we’ve seen the past month. 

 

BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP

MISSOURI 90, BAYLOR 75

Shooting Pct: Baylor 40%, Missouri 54%

Three-Pointers: Baylor 5/19, Missouri 9/21

Free Throws: Baylor 20/27, Missouri 25/31

Rebounds: Baylor 38, Missouri 27

Phantom Score: Baylor 78, Missouri 65

Turnovers: Baylor 11, Missouri 8

Vegas Line: Missouri by 3, total of 149

Pomeroy Rank: Baylor 13, Missouri 8

Missouri entered this event with a chip on their shoulder. Nobody got close to knocking it off. They did lose Phantom Score though. Some of that was relaxing too early in the second half with a big lead. You can see they attacked the basket well (31 free throw attempts), and shot well from all over the floor. We are concerned about their internal defense and rebounding in terms of reaching the Final Four. They’re one of many vulnerable teams with high seeds in the Dance. All the contenders have something to be concerned about. Missouri’s top notch, and definitely deserves to have their name in national championship discussions based on how impressive they were this week vs. highly regarded competition.

 

MID AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP

OHIO 64, AKRON 63

Shooting Pct: Ohio 44%, Akron 46%

Three-Pointers: Ohio 9/21, Akron 9/12

Free Throws: Ohio 9/16, Akron 14/18

Rebounds: Ohio 23, Akron 24

Phantom Score: Ohio 51, Akron 46

Turnovers: Ohio 11, Akron 16

Vegas Line: Ohio by 1.5, total of 135.5

Pomeroy Rank: Ohio 74, Akron 79

Classic thriller with two teams battling for one Dance invitation…in front of home state fans. The market expected a toss-up. It was a toss-up. Ohio won Phantom Score in a way that suggests more superiority than the score would suggest. Akron was an amazing 9 of 12 on three-pointers…during a week where way too many teams were 2 of 12 or 3 of 18. That means it took Akron playing over their heads to keep this close. Maybe that makes Ohio a danger squad later this week. They did upset Georgetown a couple of years ago. Very few mid majors can be taken lightly this year, though some are bound to disappoint.

 

MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP

NEW MEXICO 68, SAN DIEGO STATE 59

Shooting Pct: New Mexico 39%, SDSU 37%

Three-Pointers: New Mexico 8/18, SDSU 6/19

Free Throws: New Mexico 20/27, SDSU 7/11

Rebounds: New Mexico 35, SDSU 36

Phantom Score: New Mexico 59, SDSU 70

Turnovers: New Mexico 11, SDSU 15

Vegas Line: New Mexico by 4.5, total of 132

Pomeroy Rank: New Mexico 15, SDSU 51

New Mexico basically CRUSHED the Mountain West in the latter stages of the season. Respected computer rankings had them well clear of the field. They won easily at SDSU not too long ago. Here in the tournament held at UNLV, they beat UNLV, then dominated SDSU again. New Mexico is MUCH better than they’ve been getting credit for. Let’s see if that offers value in the Dance. We are a bit concerned about the low shooting percentage here, and the rebounding dead heat. We respect Phantom Score, and New Mexico took the worst of it there. Keep an eye on the Lobos. Just stay level-headed about it. If the Mountain West really is a new power conference, then New Mexico is an Elite 8 threat. If that kid of talk is just fluff…then we may see all the teams from this league disappoint later this week.

 

BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP

LOUISVILLE 50, CINCINNATI 44

Shooting Pct: Louisville 35%, Cincinnati 39%

Three-Pointers: Louisville 5/14, Cincinnati 3/14

Free Throws: Louisville 11/12, Cincinnati 1/7

Rebounds: Louisville 33, Cincinnati 26

Phantom Score: Louisville 57, Cincinnati 60

Turnovers: Louisville 14, Cincinnati 11

Vegas Line: Louisville by 3, total of 123.5

Pomeroy Rank: Louisville 20, Cincinnati 31

It was easily the ugliest Big East tournament in history. It’s tempting to say they should stop after 30 years. But, the conference will have such a different look in the near future that it’s like they’re stopping anyway. Syracuse will be in the ACC for goodness sake! The halftime score was 24-14, setting up the appropriate finale to a week of rim clanking. Louisville thrives in that style this year because they don’t have much offense but have a truly great defense. Aren’t you glad we gave you a heads up about that a few weeks ago. Last year the world was shocked when the Big East turned out to be so bad in the Dance. There won’t be shock this year in that regard.

 

BIG WEST CHAMPIONSHIP

LONG BEACH STATE 77, CAL-SANTA BARBARA 64

Shooting Pct: UCSB 47%, Long Beach State 44%

Three-Pointers: UCSB 6/17, Long Beach State 14/33

Free Throws: UCSB 4/8, Long Beach State 13/16

Rebounds: UCSB 31, Long Beach State 33

Phantom Score: UCSB 73, Long Beach State 55

Turnovers: UCSB 14, Long Beach State 11

Vegas Line: Long Beach State by 3.5, total of 132

Pomeroy Rank: UCSB 99, Long Beach State 38

Long Beach was the dominant team all year in this conference, as the Pomeroy rankings suggest. Did you realize Long Beach was a top 40 team? We’ve mentioned that a few times in the NOTEBOOK. But, we know many of you skim over the lesser conferences until it’s Dance time. Long Beach is a legitimate threat to do damage this week. They played a very tough non-conference schedule. They’re on the short list of possible Cinderella stories.

 

WAC CHAMPIONSHIP

NEW MEXICO STATE 82, LOUISIANA TECH 57

Shooting Pct: Louisiana Tech 33%, NMSU 56%

Three-Pointers: Louisiana Tech 3/18, NMSU 3/10

Free Throws: Louisiana Tech 14/20, NMSU 13/20

Rebounds: Louisiana Tech 25, NMSU 45

Phantom Score: Louisiana Tech 59, NMSU 105

Turnovers: Louisiana Tech 10, NMSU 12

Vegas Line: New Mexico State by 7.5, total of 148.5

Pomeroy Rank: Louisiana Tech 170, NMSU 68

New Mexico State was the best team in the WAC all year according to the computers and many other Power Ratings. But, they went 0-2 against Nevada and couldn’t win the regular season crown. No matter. They won the automatic bid without breaking much of a sweat. Look at that Phantom Score. We’re not ready to put this team on the short list of dangerous mid majors. That’s only because the short list is already pretty long! This team can play, and is arguably better than Dance teams seeded in that range usually are. A lot of decent depth amongst the mid majors this year…and a lot of mediocrity in the majors.

 

ACC CHAMPIONSHIP

FLORIDA STATE 85, NORTH CAROLINA 82

Shooting Pct: Florida State 59%, N. Carolina 39%

Three-Pointers: Florida State 11/22, N. Carolina 5/20

Free Throws: Florida State 8/11, N. Carolina 21/24

Rebounds: Florida State 26, N. Carolina 37

Phantom Score: Florida State 70, N. Carolina 83

Turnovers: Florida State 15, N. Carolina 7

Vegas Line: North Carolina by 6, total of 143.5

Pomeroy Rank: Florida State 23, N. Carolina 5

Great weekend for Florida State. But, they sure had to have everything to go right to get this win. That’s probably a good sign for Carolina, and a bad sign for FSU in their letdown spot the next time they take the floor. FSU shot almost 60% from the floor! And, that 11 of 22 on treys just isn’t something that’s going to replicate itself very often. So, North Carolina, missing a key player, got within one point in the final moments anyway! The takeaways is that the best teams in the country still have trouble winning when they’re opponent is hot from long range. If nobody’s hot from long range, then the best teams in the country go through. Not quite a random draw…but a lot of randomness in the linen. Phantom Score and the turnover category speak well for NC’s chances the rest of the way. But, they HAVE to defend with more passion or it’s going to be another disappointing Dance.

 

SEC CHAMPIONSHIP

VANDERBILT 71, KENTUCKY 64

Shooting Pct: Vanderbilt 43%, Kentucky 36%

Three-Pointers: Vanderbilt 6/18, Kentucky 6/28

Free Throws: Vanderbilt 21/32, Kentucky 12/19

Rebounds: Vanderbilt 36, Kentucky 30

Phantom Score: Vanderbilt 58, Kentucky 64

Turnovers: Vanderbilt 11, Kentucky 8

Vegas Line: Kentucky by 8, total of 137.5

Pomeroy Rank: Vanderbilt 17, Kentucky 1

This was the big surprise of the day in terms of the mainstream media. You see…Kentucky had been anointed the “indestructible” team because everyone else kept losing. It didn’t matter that Kentucky lacked depth, and exposed their three-point shooting weaknesses this weekend. They were still THE TEAM since Kansas from the Big 12 lost in the semi’s while Missouri’s too erratic to trust…since Syracuse lost in the Big East semifinals and nobody else in the conference can hit the broad side of a barn…since Duke and North Carolina can’t shine against Florida State…since the Big 10 powers have recently lost to each other…it was KENTUCKY that was the class of the tournament. Kick them out of the weak SEC and stick them somewhere else…and they’re just another contender. Pencil in a lousy day from behind the arc, and many Dance-bound or borderline teams can hang with them. Like FSU, Vandy will have to deal with a letdown spot in a few days. The elite seeds will have it easy early, but will eventually be challenged to produce vs. quality on a neutral floor.

 

ATLANTIC 10 CHAMPIONSHIP

ST. BONAVENTURE 67, XAVIER 56

Shooting Pct: St. Bonaventure 39%, Xavier 34%

Three-Pointers: St. Bonaventure 5/16, Xavier 2/13

Free Throws: St. Bonaventure 22/25, Xavier 14/19

Rebounds: St. Bonaventure 37, Xavier 25

Phantom Score: St. Bonaventure 67, Xavier 61

Turnovers: St. Bonaventure 14, Xavier 6

Vegas Line: Xavier by 3.5, total of 136

Pomeroy Rank: St. Bonaventure 59, Xavier 51

How about the Bonnies?! Great defense in the most impotant game they’ve played in years, and dominance on the boards. Do you think they got mad Joe Lunardi had penciled in Xavier as an 11th seed Sunday morning on the assumption of a win? St. Bonny gets the automatic bid for the A10, and joins Saint Louis and Temple in the Dance. Tough to know for sure how this league is going to fare. We’ve been optimistic at times, but have grown pessimistic this weekend. The good news is that we’re pessimistic about roughly 85% of the field…and somebody has to win! St. Bonny’s defensive intensity will give them a puncher’s chance versus anyone…though they’ll be dealing with an obvious letdown after this huge weekend. We’ll be looking for UNDERS on Thursday and Friday when defensive minded teams square off. We can think of several offenses who may have trouble getting out of the 50’s later this week. 

 

BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP

MICHIGAN STATE 68, OHIO STATE 64

Shooting Pct: Ohio State 40%, Michigan State 48%

Three-Pointers: Ohio State 4/17, Michigan State 9/21

Free Throws: Ohio State 10/15, Michigan State 7/14

Rebounds: Ohio State 35, Michigan State 27

Phantom Score: Ohio State 77, Michigan State 61

Turnovers: Ohio State 10, Michigan State 6

Vegas Line: Ohio State by 1.5, total of 132.5

Pomeroy Rank: Ohio State 2, Michigan State 3

Michigan State wins the season series…and they would have swept if not losing focus in the second half of their meeting in East Lansing. That being said…Ohio State wins Phantom Score here, and would have won this game, the automatic bid, and a possible #1 seed in the Dance if not for that -5 differential in made treys. The Spartans were +15 points from long range in a game they only won by four. As much as we prefer Michigan State’s profile heading into the Big Dance, we have to acknowledge what Ohio State did right. What did the Buckeyes do wrong? They didn’t force many turnovers. And, they really don’t have any long range options they can be confident in when falling behind. It’s amazing how many of the current powers have that issue. A rare #1 vs. #2 meeting in a major conference final. We have to say the game lived up to expectations. Let’s see if both can do that in the Dance the next few weeks.

That wraps up our championship roll call. That naturally leads into the start of postseason college action TONIGHT. Link up with JIM HURLEY Monday afternoon for the best big money games. We definitely have those ESPN TV matchups on the radar (New York at Chicago and Boston at LA Clippers). If you have any questions about our service, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.

You can’t take a day off during MARCH MADNESS!

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