Non-conference over!

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Non-conference over!

Post by Guest on Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:55 pm

So the Pilots sit at 8-4 after non-conference play - I figured they'd be at 8-4 or 7-5 heading into WCC play, but how they accomplished it was a different story.

Figured they'd open the season with a win over UC Davis then lose the next two, which they did. The Pilots were then favoured to win their next seven games before the Vegas trip, and heavily favoured to win a couple of those. I figured it would be a stretch to expect a 7-0 run through that period and indeed, the team lost a game to North Texas when the Mean Green suddenly couldn't miss a shot late in regulation and in overtime.

And after three more wins, Montana State happened. The Bobcats clearly came in with a game plan to limit Thomas van der Mars after he went for 19 & 18 for the Pilots in the Portland State win, and it worked as the Pilots suffered a disappointing loss to Montana State for the second year in a row - with this loss being much more disappointing given that the Pilots were at home to a team slated to finish in the lower half of the Big Sky and had shown clear signs of improvement to that point.

And then they went to Vegas. Reveno stated on the coach's show last week that they had to learn from the loss, and did they ever respond. Big win over Bradley followed up by a W over Princeton, the program's most impressive win since beating St Mary's at home in January of 2011.

The end result? I'm not really sure what to expect from the Pilots with WCC play starting in five days. On one hand, the win over Princeton is one of the most impressive wins by a WCC team this season - BYU's road win at Stanford and neutral win over Texas and Gonzaga's win over Arkansas were great victories, but UP's win over Princeton compares to any of the other quality wins put up by BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary's, and Pacific.

On the other hand, the home loss to Montana State? At this point, the worst loss by a WCC team in non-conference, even worse than USF's home loss to Idaho State, SCU's home loss to Rice, or USD's loss to the UIC Flames. But that's college basketball for you - look no further than UNC, who's got wins over Louisville, Michigan State, and Kentucky this year but has also lost to Belmont and UAB (and almost lost to Davidson over the weekend).

In any event, the major metrics that measure the relative strength of all 351 D1 teams (Kenpom and Sagarin, I ignore the flawed RPI calc) still have the WCC as having a clear-cut top three - but Portland enters conference play ranked near or at the top of the remaining seven. Kenpom has Portland ranked fourth in the WCC and Pacific fifth, while Sagarin has those two flip-flopped.

Given the strength of the "Big Three" in the WCC, an 8-10 or 9-9 finish for the Pilots in conference play would be a fine accomplishment and a huge step forward from last season - not to mention, would also ensure that UP avoids Day 1 of the conference tourney and could put them in fourth or fifth place which would avoid a matchup with the big boys in the first round.

It's been fun to see the progress of this team culminating with a fine win on Saturday over a tough Princeton team. Great note to build on as the real stuff starts in just five days.

Go Pilots.

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Re: Non-conference over!

Post by PilotNut on Mon Dec 23, 2013 2:25 pm

Good stuff, DM!  

I have to admit that my prognostication for the WCC schedule is about as muddy as it was 2 months ago.  I still would put SMC, BYU and GU as the top 3, but then 4 through 10 is not clear...  I could see the Pilots as high as 4th, or as low as 8th or 9th if too many Montana St.-ish games occur.  

Interestingly: we will play SMC at home during Randy Bennett's 5-game coaching disqualification span; this may not be that big of deal, but it won't help their cause.  Also, if Dower is not back for the GU-UP game on Jan. 9th, that game looks different as GU is a bit thin down low without him; Pangos has been battling a toe injury as well.  If we play like we did vs. Princeton... those could be good games.

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Re: Non-conference over!

Post by up7587 on Mon Dec 23, 2013 2:28 pm

DeanMurdoch wrote:The end result? I'm not really sure what to expect from the Pilots with WCC play starting in five days.
I think it means we beat SMC and lose to Pepperdine.  Rolling Eyes 

Great analysis. Thanks for writing it.

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Re: Non-conference over!

Post by Guest on Mon Dec 23, 2013 3:21 pm

up7587 wrote:I think it means we beat SMC and lose to Pepperdine.   Rolling Eyes

It's a real possibility, and even if the Pilots do take out the Gaels I doubt anyone on here would be caught taking Pepperdine lightly - they might be ranked 10th in the conference right now, but the Waves have a nice road win over a good UC Irvine team and a neutral win over Denver. Really speaks to the quality of the WCC.

And I know an 8-10 conference record sounds unimpressive at the surface, but that represents a 7-5 record against the "other 6" with a nice win over a "big three team" or an 8-4 record against teams not named BYU/Gonzaga/SMC if the Pilots can't take out one of the big boys.

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Re: Non-conference over!

Post by DoubleDipper on Tue Dec 24, 2013 1:19 pm

Good rundown, Deaner….

Here are the WCC standings based purely on strength of schedule against D-1 opponents as judged by Jeff Sargarin:

7-BYU
109-GU
133-UOP
179-SMC
206-SCU
221-LMU
260-PU
277-USF
312-USD
327-UP

This is how the WCC teams did in the preseason against D-1 opponents only:

1-GU (9-2)
2-SMC (9-2)(9-3)
3-UOP (8-2)
4-UP (8-4)
5-USD (7-4)
6-LMU (7-4)
7-BYU (7-5)
8- PU (6-5)
9-USF (5-5)
10-SCU (5-6)

But what we all realize is the season actually begins this coming Saturday…..and it’s not like soccer; the only way to get to the NCAA Tournament is win the WCC title or win the WCC Championship game, probably….. tongue


Last edited by DoubleDipper on Wed Dec 25, 2013 8:43 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Non-conference over!

Post by Guest on Wed Dec 25, 2013 8:10 pm

So, uhh. Do I need to rewrite this thing now that Saint Mary's lost three times in the last four days to teams that would probably finish in the lower half of the WCC?

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Re: Non-conference over!

Post by Geezaldinho on Wed Dec 25, 2013 8:16 pm

DeanMurdoch wrote:So, uhh. Do I need to rewrite this thing now that Saint Mary's lost three times in the last four days to teams that would probably finish in the lower half of the WCC?

Absolutely, if only to see what you come up with.

This conference season looks wide open to me. For the Pilots, more than most seasons, it will be what we make of it.

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Re: Non-conference over!

Post by Pilot2002 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:12 pm

I am optimistic for the conference season! The only thing that concerns me is the unbalanced home and away impact might have on the results. To finish .500 or above we will need to go 6-3 or 7-2 in the first 9 games. My prediction for conference play is we will start out 8-3 headed into the game at Gonzaga. From there it could be a struggle and will end going 2-5 for an overall record of 10-8.

I think the Pilots will keep all the games close. In order to win another game or 2, or 3-4, Barker and Gerun will need to step up their play off the bench (especially scoring) and/or Bobby or Tanner need to be a consistent threat with their 3-point shooting.

My final prediction is the Pilots go 10-8 and don't lose any games by more than 10 points. (If a game does get out of hand it will be at BYU.)

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Re: Non-conference over!

Post by DoubleDipper on Sat Dec 28, 2013 1:56 pm

Watching the BYU @ LMU game on ROOT….if there are 1,200 fans in Leavey Center in LA, at least 1,000 are BYU fans. Evil or Very Mad 

LMU 6-9 sophomore forward Marin Mornar, from Croatia, is proving to be a wonderful player…LMU is RUNNING and drawing fouls and is leading 48-33 at the HALF!!

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Re: Non-conference over!

Post by PilotNut on Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:52 pm

You mean Gersten Pavilion? Wink

What a game from LMU... BYU looks disinterested.  Shocked

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Re: Non-conference over!

Post by up7587 on Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:33 pm

DoubleDipper wrote:Watching the BYU @ LMU game on ROOT….if there are 1,200 fans in Leavey Center in LA, at least 1,000 are BYU fans. Evil or Very Mad 

LMU 6-9 sophomore forward Marin Mornar, from Croatia, is proving to be a wonderful player…LMU is RUNNING and drawing fouls and is leading 48-33 at the HALF!!
BYU closes the gap, but is unable to overtake LMU. LMU wins 87-78. Wow.

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Re: Non-conference over!

Post by Guest on Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:36 pm

And LMU looked good doing it, too.

Maybe you all should just ignore the 600 words of crap in the first post on this thread. Everyone's going to finish 9-9 this year.

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Re: Non-conference over!

Post by DoubleDipper on Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:36 pm

LMU wins, 87-76, and puts the WCC on notice.  (Las Vegas had BYU by 6).

Hmm, this could be quite a year.

Yea, I meant Gersten... drunken

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Re: Non-conference over!

Post by DoubleDipper on Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:38 pm

DeanMurdoch wrote:And LMU looked good doing it, too.

Maybe you all should just ignore the 600 words of crap in the first post on this thread. Everyone's going to finish 9-9 this year.
And all the teams will begin play on Saturday in Las Vegas... clown

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