Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Chez will return in August

Never fear, Nehlenites. Chez will return in August as football season nears. Until then, sit tight with this YouTube clip of the Pride of West Virginia.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

History could be Bruin for WVU

Why should WVU fans root for UCLA in tomorrow night's title game? It would make history for the Mountaineer program.

Not since 1958 has WVU beaten a team that went on to win the national title. That Jerry West-led '58 team was 26-1 entering the NCAA tournament but famously was upset by Manhattan in the first round. That opened the door for Kentucky -- which WVU beat 77-70 earlier that season -- to beat Seattle 84-72 for the championship.

WVU has come close before, losing regular-season games to eventual winners Louisville in 1980, N.C. State in 1983 and Big East games against UConn (1999 and 2004) and Syracuse (2003). And, of course, in 1996 WVU beat the John Wallace-led Syracuse team that advanced to the title game.

But a UCLA win would mark just the second time ever that a WVU-defeated team went on to win it all.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Horns down !

Just this once, we'll forgive the Jackie Sherrill connections between hated Pitt and Texas A&M, and align ourselves with our Aggie pals in College Station, if only to extend a hearty Horns Down to Texas.

We've been doing some research at Chez HQ and found that nobody in the NCAA's Sweet 16 has played more games against fellow Sweet 16 teams than WVU. And nobody except for UConn has more than WVU's four wins against that group.

Here's the list:

WVU (7) is 4-3, wins over Nova, Gtown (2) and UCLA, losses to Texas, LSU and UConn
UCONN (6) is 5-1, wins over Gonzaga, LSU, Gtown, WVU and Nova, loss to Nova.
DUKE (5) is 4-1, wins over Memphis, Texas and BC (2), loss to Gtown
NOVA (5) is 2-3, wins over UConn and Gtown, losses to WVU, UConn and Texas
GTOWN (5) is 1-4, win over Duke, losses to WVU (2), UConn and Nova
TEXAS (4) is 3-1, wins over WVU, Memphis and Nova, loss to Duke
MEMPHIS (4) is 2-2, wins over UCLA and Gonzaga, losses to Texas and Duke
WICHITA ST (4) is 2-2, wins over Bradley (2), losses to George Mason and Bradley
UCLA (4) is 0-4, losses to Washington (2), WVU and Memphis
LSU (4) is 1-3, win over WVU, losses to UConn and Florida (2)
WASHINGTON (3) is 3-0, wins over UCLA (2) and Gonzaga
GONZAGA (3) is 0-3, losses to UConn, Washington and Memphis
BRADLEY (3) is 1-2, win over Wichita St., losses to Wichita St. (2)
FLORIDA (2) is 2-0, wins over LSU (2)
BC (2) is 0-2, losses to Duke (2)
GEO. MASON (1) is 1-0, win over Wichita St.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Whoa, Joe !

Chez beat Lunardi ! We promised you the most accurate bracket projections around and we delievered !

We compared the final Chez 65 projections (updated midday Sunday) to Lunardi's final Bracketology and here's what we found:

Chez nailed 34 of the 65 teams' seeds right on the button. We were within one seed line either way on 22 more -- for a total of 56 of 65 teams in which we were either spot-on or reasonably close.

Meanwhile, Lunardi nailed 29 of 65 seeds exactly right and was within plus-or-minus one seed line on 21 more -- for a total of 50 of 65. Good, but not as good as Chez.

Both Chez and Lunardi had Air Force and Utah State out of the bracket. Credit where credit is due -- Lunardi had George Mason as the CAA's second team; Chez incorrectly had Hofstra.

Still, we proved our point -- you don't need a Bracketology degree to accurately pick the tournament bracket. Just common sense and knowledge of the game.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Naptime for WVU

Let's face facts: WVU is a tired team. The Mountaineers clearly showed they were out of gas during the dreadful second half of their quarterfinal loss to Pitt.

There's only one solution: Skip the NCAA tournament.

The numbers surely say so: The Pitt loss was this team's 30th game. With one overtime game (LSU), that adds up to 1,205 total minutes of basketball.

Pittsnogle has played 1,083 of those -- 89.8 percent of the time, he's on the court -- making for one tired daddy. Gansey played 1,022 minutes (84.8 percent), logging almost as much court time. Rob Summers (109 minutes, 9 percent) is showing signs of wear. Ted Talkington must think those lay-up lines are grueling.

And even a certain poor, overworked Charleston Gazette beat writer needs a few days/months off -- writing two stories a week takes its toll !

WVU entered the Big East tourney having played one game in the previous 11 days. And even that lengthy rest wasn't enough to stave off fatigue in the final 20 minutes, when the bigger, stronger, tougher Panthers took it to the Mountaineers.

Is another 5-6 days between today and the first round of the NCAAs really going to make a difference?

Nope, this team needs all the rest it can find. A power-nap here, an early bedtime there and seven months of offseason are just what the returning players need to get their legs back.

The seniors would benefit, too. Pittsnogle could use some free time to change diapers and prep for the NBA draft. Some free time would help Herber study for his trilingual finals. Maybe Daddyboy can find some shooting consistency with some consistent time off. And how can we expect Coach Johnny B. to recruit -- or even interview with Mizzou/Indiana/Kansas State -- when those pesky NCAA tournament games are clogging his schedule?

This team needs a break. And a nap.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sloth v. Pittsnogle

Pitt's center is quite formidable. Aaron Gray averages a double-double. But will he be able to get out and guard Pittsnogle? Or will he just love Chunk ?

MSN Radio reports that Pitt forward Levon Kendall was left back at the hotel due to a lower back injury. Sam Young will take his place in the starting lineup. Of course, WVU played in the Big East tourney last year without Tyrone Sally and fared well.

10:24 p.m.: Through the first half, Gray has been swatted by JD Collins and continues to fumble inside living up the Sloth name. Pittsnogle started hot but missed an easy layup and is chucking a bit quickly. WVU shooting 6 for 16 from 3 in the first half ... the magic 37% !

Second and third game commentary

4:17 p.m. ... Tight game at the House Isiah Is Trying To Destroy. Georgetown coach John Thompson III (3 times the shoulder towel!) takes umbrage at his offense being called the "Princeton offense." Not sure why that's a bad thing. Georgetown appears to have the edge on the glass here in the second half, but the shooting accuracy is ... well ... not Ivy League-quality.

4:30 p.m. ... Usually when Jeff Green comes up big, he's just fat. Who knew he could play defense on Novak in addition to his mad agent skillz?

4:54 p.m. ... You know it's getting thick when the ESPN announcers spend some time giving a shout-out to Robert McCullum and South Florida ... those are the 7-22 (1-15) Bulls. They were pesky; McCullum's a good coach; and they'll be better next year ... but, please, have these guys ever even made a neutral statement about a coach, let alone a criticism? It's all peaches and orchids when it comes to talking about college basketball coaches on this network.

4:56 p.m. ... Quette's made a nice run to get it to two points ... we'll see if and how the Hoyas close it out.

5:43 p.m. ... Idle comments before the evening session starts at MSG. ... Michigan and Florida State should be out of the 65. ... If Rutgers wins tonight, why not put the Boys Upstream in? ... A Michigan State loss (in a tight one with Purdue as we type) could drop Sparty to the bubble.

9:15 p.m. ... Villanova pulled away from Rutgers in the second half. Douby went cold, and Nova just stayed consistent. Ray looked a little gimpy, and Lowry had a couple bumps. Should be a good match-up for whoever survives the late game.

Commentary with onions !

2:31 p.m. EVIL DORF (on Golf) ! Syracuse pulls the upset! It wasn't the prettiest (and neither is the guy on the left).

2:11 p.m.: Another day, another onions shot by McMennonite. Wow. We must ignite this butter churn !

1:58 p.m.: We knew UConn would come back. Does Syracuse have the onions to hang on? Win or lose, Orange should be in the field of 65. (They've been in the Chez 65 all along. You're welcome.)

1:41 p.m.: 'Cuse is starting to remind us of WVU last year, a mid-range seed absolutely outplaying the No. 1 seed. This is making WVU's late-season loss at the Dome a little more palatable.

1:03 p.m.: Good to see Al Skinner left Calhoun his playbook on "How to Flop as the No. 1 Seed in the Big East Tourney." Cuse up 11 -- yep, 11 -- at the half behind surprisingly strong interior play and another inspired effort from McNamara.

12:06 p.m.: The third Big East game with the beloved Billy R. on the call, and each time ('Cuse vs. Cincy, ND vs. Gtown and now 'Cuse vs. UConn) the game has started with the defense playing a 2-3 zone, thus robbing us of his trademark "MANTOMAN" catchphrase. Raff: For our money, and our onions, the best color man in the game.

Quick picks on the Day 2 games

Today at the Garden, Chez likes ...

UCONN is rolling along. Syracuse has reached the end of the line. Don't expect a Jim Boeheim post-game exclusive with the Daily Orange.

Georgetown played Marquette really close in a 57-51 loss in Milwaukee last month. The Eagles could come out firing again, but Louisville showed us last night that first-timers in the Big East tournament atmosphere may need a little adjusting. Call it a hunch, but the HOYAS buckle down on defense and claim the day's lone upset.

VILLANOVA will humble Rutgers. The Knights benefitted from Seton Hall failing to show up yesterday (what happened to Kelly Whitney?).

Of course, in the nightcap, we like WVU to make about 11 of 30 3-pointers. That would be 36.7%... round it up to 37, and the Mountaineers move on to the semis.

Let's Do It Again .... the Magic Number is 37

Has it really been a full year since West Virginia rambled into the Garden clinging to hopes of an NCAA berth and left as a juggernaut?

Time to do it again, and get started against Pitt. The Panthers have an illiterate point guard, Sloth from "The Goonies" at center and problems holding a lead.

WVU, meanwhile, needs to focus on the number 37.

That's the 3-point percentage threshold they've needed to be successful this year.

In 20 victories, WVU is shooting at average of 36.5 percent from the 3-point line (206 for 565, 10.3 for 28.3 average).

In the nine losses, the 3-point percentage drops to an average of 30.85 percent -- almost a full six percentage points. They make about one less and take about 3 more (82 for 282, 9 for 31 average) in those defeats.

Even more telling: in the four "bad losses" -- the only four times they've lost by six points or more -- the 3-point percentage plummets to 26.2 percent (combined 33 for 126 against UK, Marshall, Seton Hall and UConn). In those losses, they average 8.3 for 31.5 ... meaning if they hit two more like their average, all of the games except UK would have been final-possession affairs.

Pitt's a great case study for watching this statistic. In the 57-53 loss at Pitt on Feb. 9, WVU went 6 of 27 from 3-point range (22.2%), including Pittsnogle missing all six of his 3-point tries. Gansey went 1 for 4. Only Beilein helped (3 for 4) and Ruoff made his only attempt. A shot here or there even with Pittsnogle fouling out, and WVU wins.

In the 67-62 victory on Feb. 27 at The Coliseum, WVU went 12 for 36 (33.3%), still below their usual 3-point victory average. But Pittsnogle made 5 of 12, and Herber started scorching and went 4 for 8.

Gansey went 0 for 4 from 3-point, making him 1 for 8 in two games against Pitt. Watch him ... we think he's due. And watch WVU's 3-point percentage tonight. If it's closer to 40 than 30, the Mountaineers are moving on.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tourney tidbits

Random musings from the first day of the Big East tournament:

10:23 p.m.: Heading into halftime and it's not looking good for the Birds with Teeth. Nevertheless, we've updated our projected bracket with Seton Hall's loss and Monmouth's victory which will likely earn the Hawks a Tuesday trip to Dayton. We're still smarter than Digger.

9:40 p.m.: We Douby lieve we were wrong about the Gers. We're still smarter than Digger.

7:22 p.m.: It's the Gers vs. the Hall, 10 minutes into the game and Quincy Douby hasn't scored. Also, we've posted an update to the Chez 65 with one Big East team dropping down a line.

4:24 p.m.: Gtown survives, 67-63, in what must seem like a blowout loss to cap a close-but-not-quite season for the I-Wish. Digger is silenced. Chez is 2-for-2 in the afternoon session. Whew.

4:03 p.m.: Just when we think Gtown is going to pull away, the I-Wish hit a 3. Ho-hum, another game's going down to the wire for ND.

3:10 p.m.: Gtown finally takes the lead with a Bowman FT. To paraphrase Digger from last year, "C'mon, Gtown, take care of Notre Dame, PLEASE?"

2:50 p.m.: We'd like to thank Gtown for finally showing up. Nothing we hate more than Digger Phelps being right.

2 p.m.: Mark it down, there will be no bigger clutch shot in this Big East tournament than the 3-pointer Gerry McMennonite just hit to beat Cincy with 0.3 seconds left and put 'Cuse into the field of 65.

1:58 p.m.: When did James White turn into Quincy Douby? A big 3 gave him 30 points and put Cincy ahead 70-68 with less than 2 minutes left. 'Cuse countered with a bucket and it's tied 70-70. Big shot by White for the lead. "The definition of poise," Bilas said. Even bigger defensive play by Devan Downey with the steal and free throw to set up a great finish.

1:46 p.m.: The Bearded Wonders can't seem to put Cincy away. Maybe we should get out the eraser and redo the updated Chez 65 ...

1:45 p.m.: McNamara, Devendorf ... Chez wonders if the Syracuse uniform now includes the Mennonite beard. Somebody teach those kids how to use a razor before they end up like the Amish father in "Kingpin."

1:10 p.m.: The second half just started, and the Orange are up by nine. The Chez 65 never wavered -- the 'Cuse is a 13-seed and has consistently been in our bracket. Wethinks the selection committee will consider their No. 6 SOS and put the Orange in the field, too.

12:40 p.m.: We told you about 'Cuse. As we wrote last night, there was no Earthly reason to pick the slumping 'Cuse to beat Cincy ... but we were doing it anyway. 'Cuse leads 30-24 and has led by as many as 9 with about 5 minutes left in the first half. 'Cuse is playing inspired, passionate basketball, which begs the question: Where was this team all year?

Chez's updated 65, and Big East tourney talk

Chez never sleeps ! Fresh off of three conference championship games (the Horizon, Mid-Con and Sun Belt), we've updated our field of 65 to reflect last night's games. We forsee an interesting matchup for fourth-seeded WVU -- a meeting with 13th seed Northwestern State in the battle for D'Or Fischer !

Don't forget to check back during the day -- we hope to bring you running commentary from the Big East tourney, and we promise bracket updates as needed ... we anticipate making a noteworthy change if Cincy sends the Orange packing in the lunchtime game.

Here's a viewer's guide for what to expect today at Madison Square when the Biggest East tournament tips off with McDonough, Bilas and Coach Raff calling the morning session on ESPN:

-- No. 8 Cincinnati vs. No. 9 Syracuse, Noon: We can't figure out the 'Cuse, either. Plenty to play for at DePaul, and they lose by nearly 40. Easy to forget the 'Cuse won the first matchup at the Shoe nearly two months ago, but that was when Cincy's lineup was injury-riddled. Cincy has been rolling since, beating the 'Cuse in the Dome, and all signs point toward Hicks being a monster underneath. Easy win for Cincy, right? Wrong. ... Pick, ORANGE.

-- No. 12 Notre Dame vs. No. 5 Georgetown, 2 p.m.: Frankly, we're sick of Digger Phelps' halftime sermons praising the I-Wish. But we grudgingly admit he has a point -- the I-Wish, who have won two in a row and five of seven, have been competitive in almost every game. Gtown barely won this previous matchup, in its first game after beating Duke. They'll be a lot angrier after losing to the Big East's worst team. ... Pick, PARANOIAS.

-- No. 7 Seton Hall vs. No. 10 Rutgers, 7 p.m.: The 'Gers needed to beat the Johnnies on Sunday just to make it to New York, while Seton Hall played its best basketball in its last two games to all but wrap up a spot in the Big Tourney. We 'Douby lieve' the Gers will play hard for their lame-duck coach, and Quincy will score 30, but the Hall has too much balance. ... Pick, CARLESIMOS.

-- No. 11 Louisville vs. No. 6 Pitt, 9 p.m.: Louisville is playing its best basketball of the season. Hidden stat: Pitt is 4-5 in games played outside Pittsburgh's city limits. Tough break, Panties, they aren't moving the Big East tourney to Heinz Field anytime soon. Besides, tell the truth, you want another Beilein vs. Pitino postseason matchup, right? ... Pick, BIRDS.