Sunday, April 13, 2014

Egg Beaters: A History

2013 Finals: While technically both Chris' eggs, Nick held the
"UPS" egg while Chris held the winning "#2" egg. 
[UPDATE - April 18, 2014 - with 2014 Bracket and results at bottom]

For as long as I can remember we've cracked or "shucked" eggs at Easter Dinner. We would say, "Christos Anesti" (Christ Is Risen) followed by "Alithos Anesti" (Truly He Is Risen) before hitting eggs with one another.

Being as competitive as I am and with Easter Sunday typically falling around March Madness I found that it made perfect sense to create an Egg Brackets.

In 2009, the annual Egg Beaters Tournament was born.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

National Championship Defensive Score Sheet: Connecticut 60, Kentucky 54

UConn, your 2014 NCAA National Champions. (Sporting News)

Chalk up another victory for those "defense wins championships" people. Led by scrappy guard play on both ends of the floor the 7th-seeded Huskies defeated the 8th-seeded Wildcats for the 2014 NCAA National Championship.

This was the third game in a row I charted both UConn's and Kentucky's defense. And for the third straight game the Huskies' defensive numbers were off the charts while Kentucky proved it was trying (or only could) win via its offense.

In the end the defense prevailed thanks to a pair of incredible defensive performances by Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier.

Here's the Defensive Score Sheet from the 2014 national title game:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Defensive Score Sheet: Kentucky 74, Wisconsin 73

It's been a magical ride for the Wildcats. While the team has all the talent in the world, it can't be argued that luck has been on Kentucky's side for much of this NCAA Tournament ride. Skill plays into it, no doubt, but Kentucky's eFG% (52.6) is actually worse that it's opponents' eFG% (53.1). Yet, Kentucky is 5-0 in tournament play with all victories coming in single digits.

Oh, Aaron Harrison has a lot to do with it.

Harrison hit another game-winning 3-pointer - his third in as many games - to beat Wisconsin. His dagger with 5.7 seconds to play helped atone for his twin brother's gaff of fouling a 3-point shooter that allowed Wisconsin to take a 73-71 lead in the waning seconds.

What's amazing is Kentucky is getting here, in all reality, riding its offense. It's NCAA Tournament offensive efficiency is around 1.17 PPP; it's opponents are at 1.11 PPP. This makes for truly exciting games but it leads you to believe the Wildcats could be susceptible to a team with ferocious defensive prowess. Of course, Wichita State and Louisville were those types of teams and Kentucky marched on.

Here's the Defensive Score Sheet from Kentucky's win over Wisconsin, giving Big Blue Nation a chance at title No. 9:

Defensive Score Sheet: Connecticut 63, Florida 53

Those scrappy dogs won't let up. Led by its harassing defense, UConn absolutely frazzled a national championship favorite and now finds itself just 40 minutes away from a national title.

For those who thought UConn's 60-54 win against Michigan State was a fluke this game proves just how good the Huskies are playing right now on the defensive end. Surrendering an average of 53.5 points to two extremely good offenses, highlighted by completely taking the point guard out of the game, has been a clinic and a pleasure to watch for defensive purists.

Here's the Defensive Score Sheet from UConn's 63-53 win, giving the Huskies their second finals appearance in four seasons, their third Final Four in six years and a chance at their fourth national championship since 1999.

For reference, here's UConn's defensive dirty work against Michigan State in the Elite Eight.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Defensive Score Sheet: Kentucky 75, Michigan 72

Aaron Harrisons' "dagger" with 2.6 seconds left that sent
Kentucky to the Final Four. (Detroit Free Press)

In the game of the 2014 NCAA Tournament (so far), Kentucky's Aaron Harrison hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds to play to send the Wildcats to their third Final Four in four seasons. The dagger - which became so when Nik Stauskas' half-court heave at the buzzer was off the mark - prevented Michigan from reaching the Final Four for the second straight season.

The game was played at such a high level as teams traded buckets and went back-and-forth with mini runs. It was so well played that it's probably easy to forget how slow-paced the game actually was (57 possessions).

The end result is not much great defense but the numbers do show a few players on each side that excelled. Here's the defensive score sheet from the Elite Eight instant classic:

Here's a nice Four Factors graphic from (@umhoops): 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Defensive Score Sheet: UConn 60, Michigan State 54

MSU's Keith Appling, albeit barely, grazes Shabazz Napier's
arm with 30 seconds to play on a 3-point attempt. Napier
made all three free throws, extending the lead to 56-51.
Appling fouled out on the play that sealed MSU's loss.

Rarely has Michigan State bowed out of the NCAA Tournament in such disappointing fashion to an inferior opponent. Yes, the Spartans were upset by 10th-seeded Nevada in 2003 in the first round and by 11th-seeded George Mason in 2006 in the first round. But outside of those two losses there hadn't been that "upset" against a Tom Izzo-coached team.

[Note: Even though No. 1 seeded MSU lost to No. 4 seeded Louisville in the 2012 Sweet 16 it was a year in which many felt MSU overachieved and the Cardinals, despite the lower seed, were very much on par with the Spartans].

Then came Saturday's debacle in New York City, a head-scratching 60-54 loss to 7th-seeded UConn.

In no way, shape, or form should this Michigan State team have lost to this UConn team - arguably the worst Huskies Final Four team in history. This, as many believe, could have been MSU's third national championship team based on talent.

That makes the lost that much tougher to swallow.

Here's the defensive score sheet from UConn's 60-54 victory, one that snapped the streak of every four-year player getting to at least one Final Four under Tom Izzo: