Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bits and Bytes: Of tiebreakers, top six losses to bottom six and tough schedules

Rob Washburn, above, realizes he forgot to carry the 1.

Sorry for the lack of a post thus far today, been a crazy week with some paying work (that’s not a misprint, Fairfax fans!) taking precedence and then some medication-induced insomnia throwing me for a loop. Slept about six hours combined Monday and Tuesday night thanks to some IV steroids (there goes my dream of playing third base for the Yankees) I’ve been taking for a Bell’s Palsy diagnosis and it finally caught up to me late last night.

So apologies again. I did speak earlier in the afternoon to Tom Pecora and I’ll have that Northeastern-themed Q&A up late tonight. And stop back for a Senior Day feature at some point tomorrow as well as a couple other things that I hope I can brew up by then.

In the meantime, I once again humbly offer fine work produced by others, most notably CAA publicist Rob Washburn, who broke out his abacus and his protractor and his slide rule and his Texas Instruments calculator circa 1982 to figure out all the tiebreaker scenarios heading into the final game of the regular season. As Litos says in presenting the facts as found by Washburn: Read this four times…and then read it another four. How Rob maintained his sanity figuring this out is beyond me. Excellent work.

—We’ll tackle tomorrow the regular season finales involving all potential opening round opponents for the Dutchmen, but rest assured I was right last night when I wrote that eight through 12 would look the same today as yesterday. It wasn’t because I know what I’m talking about, though.

Last night was Exhibit 1-A of why I do not gamble on sports, because if I did, I would have thrown away money I don’t have on Drexel drubbing undermanned UNC Wilmington and William & Mary keeping alive its hopes for the two seed by trouncing Towson.

Of course, precisely the opposite is what happened, which is why we love this time of year. Everything went pretty much according to form during the first two-thirds of the CAA season, during which, as Gary Moore puts it, the haves and have-nots were clearly separated. But with more upsets the last two days than in the entire first half of the conference schedule combined, all hell is breaking loose at just the right time, and I suspect Flying Dutchmen fans aren’t the only ones thinking four in four is possible.

Here’s the list of lower six upsets over upper six, by order in which they took place. Each team’s record prior to the tipoff of the upset in parentheses.

Jan. 2: Delaware (0-1 CAA) 62, Drexel (1-0 CAA) 58
Jan. 4: UNCW (0-2) 62, William & Mary (2-0) 61
Jan. 27: James Madison (2-7) 65, William & Mary (6-3) 63
Feb. 3: Georgia State (3-8) 61, George Mason (10-1) 57
Feb. 10: Hofstra (5-8) 75, Drexel (9-4) 64
Feb. 13: James Madison (3-11) 76, VCU (9-5) 71
Feb. 23: Hofstra (8-8) 73, Northeastern (13-3) 62
Feb. 24: UNCW (4-12) 75, Drexel (10-6) 69
Feb. 24: Towson (4-12) 83, William & Mary (11-5) 77

While our minor blog bias has us believing there’s not a bigger upset than the Dutchmen’s win over Northeastern, I think the real shocker of the year is Towson over William & Mary. Georgia State and George Mason were also separated by seven games in the standings prior to the Panthers’ win, but that game was in Atlanta while Towson knocked off the Tribe in Virginia.

—As if I didn’t have enough reason to be jealous of WRHU’s Mike Leslie, who not only has youth and talent on his side but is also a dead ringer for Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz, who is more famous for dating a Penthouse model and marrying one of the Deal or No Deal ladies than for throwing a no-hitter in his second career start.

Now the damn kid is trumping my statistical geekdom by trying to determine if the Dutchmen have indeed played the toughest schedule in the CAA, as so many of us have theorized this season. Damn you Buchholz. I will get you!

Not surprisingly, Mike’s findings—for each school, he added up the conference wins of its opponents—indicate that the CAA’s lesser teams have played tougher schedules while the better ones have faced an easier road: Last-place Delaware has faced teams that have compiled a CAA-high 168 wins while first-place Old Dominion has faced a CAA-low 128 wins.

But no over-.500 team has faced as many wins as the Dutchmen, whose January schedule was indeed as brutal as we remembered: Seven of the eight teams they faced from Jan. 2 through Jan. 23 have at least 10 conference wins.

Here’s Mike’s raw data:

Delaware 168
James Madison 156
UNCW 152
Georgia State 152
Drexel 144
Towson 144
William & Mary 142
VCU 139
Northeastern 132
George Mason 130
Old Dominion 128

Email Jerry at or follow Defiantly Dutch at

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