2015 Women’s Basketball All-Superheroine Team

Heroine_hoopsThere are awards for All-American athletes and awards for All-Academic, but what about for both? That’s what the NC2A Nerd All-Superhero or in this case all Superheroine team is about. Here are the criteria.

1: Make the conference all-academic team.
2: Make the all-conference team.
3: Play on a team with at least a winning record with preference for conference champions and deep tourney runs.
4: No freshmen allowed with preference for seniors.
5: Only one player per team. This means UConn can’t have five on this list.
Here are my top 12 Superheorines of the 2014-15 women’s basketball season.

Easier to say what she has not accomplished at UConn. Stewart has won two straight Naismith Trophies and the same with AP Player of the Year. Making the American Athletic Conference’s Academic team is pretty easy as anyone with a 3.0 GPA gets in but she did it. Oh, I almost forgot, she has won three national titles in three years.

Elizabeth Williams2. Duke: Elizabeth Williams
Made the ACC Academic team with and earned a remarkable four straight selections to All-ACC team. Williams also won the Kay Vow Scholar Athlete of the year award and helped the Blue Devils to a Sweet 16 appearance.

Ruth Hamblin3. Oregon State: Ruth Hamblin
Making the PAC-12 Academic team is hard as the conference only recognizes 10. Enter Hamblin, who earned a 3.86 GPA in medical engineering while leading the Beavers. On the court, Hamblin earned PAC-12 player of the year with 13 points and 9 rebounds a game. She made it while also being on the All-PAC-12 squad.

4. Princeton: Blake Dietrick Princeton Blake Dietrick
Best player on an undefeated Ivy League team. What more can you say? Dietrick was the engine to the offense as she led the Tigers in points and assists.

SamanthaLogicIowa5. Iowa: Samantha Logic
Fought it out with teammate Ally Disterhoft for this spot but she got it with her first team All-Big Ten selection. Helped propel the Hawkeyes to the Sweet 16 and earned a spot on the Women’s Basketball coaches Association All-American team. Logic also made the Capital One Academic All-American team.

Now to the reserves…

6. Maryland: Lexie Brown Lexie Brown
Have Lexie Brown just edging out her teammate Brionna Jones. Brown led the Terps to a Final Four and made the All-Big 10 team with academic accolades to go on with it.

7. Pittsburgh: Brianna KieselBrianna Kiesel
Kiesel has made multiple ACC-Academic teams while at Pittsburgh and the senior guard made the All-ACC team thanks to 18.5 points per game.

Hoover, Andrea 2014-15 cropped8. Dayton: Andrea Hoover
Made the A-10 honor roll while helping her team to the Elite Eight. Hoover also competed well in the national 3-point contest as she shot a ridiculous 45 percent from beyond the arc.

Sunny Greinacher9. Gonzaga: Sunny Greinacher
Greinacher is a graduate student who earned a 3.52 GPA while pursuing her masters in counseling. She also led to the Zags on a Cinderella run to the Sweet 16 with 14 points per game. Greinacher just beat out teammate Elle Tinkle for this spot.

stafford_imani_201410. Texas: Imani McGee-Stafford
McGee-Stafford made the Big-12 Academic team majoring in accounting and made the All-Big 12 team despite missing games due to injury. She helped Texas to the Sweet 16 with a surprise upset of California in the round of 32 thanks to her double-double in that game.


Oregon Ducks are the RPI team of the week

Congratulations to the teams who moved up in RPI this week. Oregon is the team of the week with two PAC-12 wins, including a 69-58 edge against No. 9 Utah. The wins have to secure a NCAA Tournament spot for the Ducks as they improved them to 20-8 on the year.

Tulsa is also building quite a case for a decent seed with a win over Temple to rise up 11 spots in the RPI. Non-conference play was a mixed bag for Tulsa but it made up for it with a 12-2 mark in the American Athletic Conference.

Here are notable risers in both men’s and women’s RPI.

RPI 2-23 RPI 2-23 WBB

An Objective Way to Rank the Conferences 2015

The SEC still has plenty to say for itself.

The SEC still has plenty to say for itself.

Last year I used the Sagarin ratings to find a quantitative method of determining the best conference of college football. I like the Sagarin ratings because it gives a score and ranking for every team in both FBS and FCS levels. Sagarin splits conference rankings into divisions so I had to do some work to see how the conferences stack up.

I found a conference average and median then split the difference to determine a total score.
Sagarin ratingsThe results are going to make SEC fans very happy. The Southeastern Conference had 13 of its 14 teams in the top 50 leaving Vanderbilt was the weak link as an outlier. Eight teams were in the top 15. That’s right, over half the SEC is ranked in the top 15 of the Sagarin rankings.

Alabama’s loss to Ohio State only dropped the Tide to No. 4 but the big surprise was Georgia at No. 5. That is because the Bulldogs went 6-2 against top 30 teams including wins over Clemson and Louisville from the ACC. This doesn’t mean that everyone should view Georgia as a top five team, but it does mean Georgia beat many quality teams this season that should not be overlooked.

While SEC critics will point to the elite teams losing on New Year’s Day the conference did go 7-5 in bowls. While the front of the pack teams in Mississippi State and Ole Miss lost, they couldn’t fall far because teams they beat in the regular season (Arkansas, Texas A&M, and Tennessee,) all won. Ole Miss blew out a Boise State squad back in August and that win looks better after Boise won the Fiesta Bowl over Arizona.

Arizona’s loss is a blemish on a great bowl season for the PAC-12, who went 6-2 in the postseason. The PAC-12 is the SEC’s biggest competition just like last season as half the conference is among the top 25 teams. The PAC-12’s issue is the bottom half with Washington State, Oregon State and Colorado outside the top 80. Washington State dropped to two games out of conference and Oregon State won but struggled with Hawaii and FCS Portland State. Colorado had a dismal 2-10 season with close calls to UMass and Hawaii as well. This pulled the PAC-12 down just enough to give the SEC the edge.

The Big 12, ACC and Big Ten pretty much evened out. Although it’s important to note TCU is the No. 1 team here. I doubt being the No. 1 Sagarin rating team is going to make up for missing the playoff. All three conferences had too many teams dragging their rankings down. Looking at you Iowa State, Kansas, Syracuse, Wake Forest, Indiana and Purdue.

The most surprising find was the Missouri Valley Conference of the FCS being ahead of all five FBS mid-major leagues. Half the Valley made it to the 24-team FCS playoff and the league did well. North Dakota State will meet Illinois State for the title tomorrow in a battle between conference rivals.

NDSU defeated Iowa State handily to boost the valley. Northern Iowa was competitive enough with Iowa and Hawaii to make an impact as well. Middle of the pack Indiana State won at Ball State. The result is a FCS league with 70 percent of the teams with winning records.

I thought the Mountain West would be a little higher but Boise State was the only team in the top 50 at No. 37. Little things like Air Force struggling to beat Georgia State, Colorado State getting pasted by Utah, and UNLV having a dismal year added up. It’s not good win Fresno State carries the West division despite a loss to the No. 172 team in UNLV.

The American Athletic had the largest variety with teams in the top 50 like Memphis and teams outside the top 200 in SMU. Little improvement among the back of the league will go a long way next season.

Conference USA may feel cheated to learn that Marshall had the highest ranking among mid-major teams but did not get to play in the Fiesta Bowl. The problem for CUSA is the bottom eight of the 13 teams were outside the Top 100.

It’s hard to rate the Sun Belt with two of its top four teams being denied bowl opportunities (Georgia Southern and Appalachian State) but it somehow rated higher than the MAC. Northern Illinois was the highest ranked in the MAC at No. 71 and that’s lowest ranking for any No. 1 team of a conference. The entire MAC East was a disaster with Bowling Green being the best at No. 120.

Instead of UMass, or some other team back East, the Mid-American Conference should be looking at the Missouri Valley for expansion. Go west young MAC. Go west.

The Sagarin rankings could change a tiny bit after the championship games this weekend but not much as Oregon and Ohio State are both secured in the top 3. For that I have to go with Oregon and North Dakota State in the FCS title.

Save The Blazers, Save Mid-Major Football

UAB wins

News of a FBS school considering the termination of its football program is making headlines today in Birmingham. UAB football is in trouble and fans have rallied to make a protest outside of the school’s administration building today. It’s a situation that could impact football programs all over the nation.

I’m not a UAB fan and don’t know the intricacies of its specific situation other than what I’ve read. But I am a mid-major football fan and UAB’s decision is one that more FBS schools on the mid-major level will probably face in the future. There are always pros to keeping a football team and UAB is no exception.

UAB has had a roughly a 110 percent increase in attendance this season. In week 2 UAB actually out-gained Mississippi State in a 47-34 loss in Starkville. The same Mississippi State team would reach the No. 1 ranking later in the season. For the first time since 2004, the Blazers are bowl eligible at 6-6 thanks to a 4-4 mark in Conference USA.

A winning football program can bring so much publicity to a university. To do that in other sports is a greater challenge. College basketball teams can really only bring national recognition to a school through the tournament. Baseball is only through the College World Series. East Carolina, however, brought plenty of attention to its school just by beating two ACC teams this season in football. It can be done.

The cons are there too. The Blazers have only been to one bowl game, a loss to Hawaii in 04. Having losing seasons for that long is poison to a mid-major. Southern Mississippi came in to Birmingham in the final week last season on a 23-game losing streak, and actually drilled the Blazers 62-27. That’s like getting killed 20 times on “Call of Duty” by a 9-year-old girl online.

Another problem is Conference USA. Their games are not the easiest to find as the schools that could do so moved up to the American Athletic. Even Marshall struggled to have their games seen despite being undefeated until the final week of the season. The days of Louisville and TCU in CUSA are ancient history. The result is UAB constantly trying to create new rivalries with the likes of Middle Tennessee State and Florida International. It will take time for the conference to stabilize itself.

Attendance in 2013 was a joke for a school in football obsessed Alabama at just over 10,000 fans a game. Only Eastern Michigan, the laughing stock of FBS attendance, had a poorer number in 2013. Sure, 2014 was over 21,000 but it’s tough to make that up. The UAB athletic department is operating millions into the red (over 17 million) but that is actually common for most mid-major programs.

If you keep football, does that mean you cut another sport instead? Title IX makes the women’s sports off limits, as they should be. Dropping something small like men’s golf is not going to save any money. Dropping baseball or men’s soccer will save money but those are not going to turn around the athletic department’s debt anytime soon. UAB’s soccer team went to the NCAA tournament this year. Baseball is another team with past success. Removing those sports would be a sour move.

If UAB does drop its football team the question will be who is next? The group of five conferences (CUSA, American, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt) all have to reevaluate how they can compete in the new playoff system. They can’t play in a system where the power conferences make all the rules. These leagues have to work together to either make a new division or drop to FCS play. It’s hard to sell tickets when you can’t play for a national championship.

Today, UAB fans and students held a rally to save the program outside the administration building. Here are some of the tweets.

While ESPN and other networks only talk about players signing autographs and domestic assaults, UAB’s decision on its football program is a top 10 sports story of the year in my opinion. Things are just getting started for determining the future of mid-major football, and I have no idea how it will turn out.

Down to the Wire Conference Crowns

Or three co-champions.

Or three co-champions.

With just two weeks to go in the regular season, some conferences and division titles are still up in the air. Here are the ones yet to be decided.

ACC Coastal

Georgia Tech is through ACC play with an impressive 6-2 record. Only Duke can catch Tech in the Coastal division at 4-2. Duke must win out against rival North Carolina (won’t be easy) and Wake Forest (a lock) all at home. The Blue Devils have the tie-breaker for the Yellow Jackets with a 31-25 win in Atlanta back on October 11. I think Duke will pull this one out and win back-to-back Coastal Division titles.

American Athletic Conference

East Carolina’s days as a top 25 team are long over after three losses in AAC play. Heck, no one in the conference is even receiving votes in the AP poll anymore. Memphis (5-1), Cincinnati (4-1), and Central Florida (4-1) are the top dogs now. Of those teams Memphis has the easiest schedule and with two home games against South Florida and UConn. Both have losing records.

Big 12

The Big 12 is down to Kansas State, Baylor and TCU. All have one loss in conference action but TCU has two games left while the others have three. Baylor and Kansas State still have to play each other in Manhattan. A K-State victory there will help but TCU has the tie-breaker against them. As long as TCU can get past Texas on Thanksgiving night it should be enough to win the conference and get a playoff spot.

Big Ten West

Four teams are alive in the West with Wisconsin (5-1) leading the way. Minnesota (4-2), Nebraska (4-2) and Iowa (4-2) have good odds too. Wisconsin still has to play at Iowa and host Minnesota. I think the Badgers will win out but a loss will cause plenty of chaos in this division.

MAC West

Northern Illinois (5-1), Toledo (5-1), Western Michigan (5-1) and Central Michigan (4-2) are slugging it out the final weeks in the MAC West. NIU is the typical favorite but has to go on the road to Western Michigan to close the season. Then again, Western still has to play at Central. Toledo hosts rival and MAC East champ Bowling Green Wednesday. I have to pick NIU, the defending MAC West champ, until the other schools prove themselves.

The Mountain West

This conference is wide-open with four teams in the Mountain division in Colorado State, Air Force, Boise State, and Utah State still going for the crown. The Rams are the only other ranked group of five team besides Marshall. The West is a three-way between 3-3 teams in Fresno State, San Diego State and Nevada. Boise State has the easiest schedule remaining in the Mountain and that’s where the conference champion will come from. If Colorado State wins at Air Force though, it should come out of the division. For now I have to go with Boise as Air Force is a tough out.

PAC-12 South

Arizona State’s upset loss at Oregon State has thrown this division into a flux. Arizona, USC, and UCLA (who I left for dead earlier) are also in the mix. I like UCLA as it hosts USC and Stanford. The Arizona’s still have to play each other and Arizona itself will have tough match at Utah.

SEC West

Alabama is back in the driver seat of the division after beating No. 1 Mississippi State Saturday. If Bama beats Auburn at home it will go to the SEC championship game. If Auburn pulls the upset that’s when it gets interesting. Mississippi State and Ole Miss still have to play each other too and the winner of that game would then become the division champion. That is of course if Ole Miss takes care of Arkansas and Mississippi State takes care of Vanderbilt this week.

SEC East

The SEC East is simple, if Missouri wins out the Tigers take the division. A loss to either at Tennessee or home to Arkansas and Georgia will win the division. The Bulldogs are through SEC play at 6-2 and but have the tie-breaker as they gave the Tigers their only SEC loss. Look for Missouri to drop a game giving Georgia the division.

Sun Belt

Georgia Southern and Louisiana are undefeated in Sun Belt action but don’t play each other. Georgia Southern has just one game remaining hosting 3-7 Louisiana-Monroe. The Ragin’ Cajuns have the tougher road hosting Appalachian State (5-5, 4-2) and at Troy (3-8, 3-4). I still think both teams will finish undefeated and we’ll have co-champions in the Sun Belt.

Bonus FCS Picks

Big Sky: Eastern Washington
Colonial: New Hampshire
Missouri Valley: Illinois State and North Dakota State
SWAC: Alcorn State

The Two Sides of Every Hail Mary

A problem of living in the Eastern Time Zone is all the PAC-12 games happen late. Luckily, I’m a night owl and was able to see Twitter explode about a Hail Mary touchdown to propel Arizona to a 49-45 win over California. The Wildcats rallied from a 31-13 deficit at the end of the third quarter to break the hearts of Golden Bears fans everywhere. Three touchdowns came in the final 3 minutes and 30 seconds.

As you can bet, Arizona was excited on social media after the win. Like a comic book geek meeting Stan Lee level of excitement.

Arizona is still unraked but remains one of seven undefeated teams in the PAC-12. This is what the celebration looked like in the locker room. Zona will travel to No. 2 Oregon on Thursday Oct. 2 in a game that will test the team’s resolve even more. But as Coach Rich Rodriguez said, they’ll “enjoy the Hell out of this one.”

That confident crew you saw there is a sharp contrast from the prayer they made before the Hail Mary.

California could only pump out a short final score tweet after the game and rightfully so. It’s easy to say something you shouldn’t after giving up 36 points in a fourth quarter. The Bears did respond brilliantly with this retweet after some breathing time.

It’s a shame too as California was on the brink of tripling its win total from last year. In the competitive PAC-12, the Sensor Scans Golden Bears will need every win to reach bowl eligibility. Colorado comes to Berkely Saturday in what appears to be the easiest game remaining on Cal’s schedule. A rebound against the Buffaloes is a must to avoid a season letdown.

Pirates Own the Tar Heels

It was a surprise when East Carolina defeated Virginia Tech a week ago but the Pirates decided to pummel another ACC school to validate themselves. ECU destroyed North Carolina 70-41 Saturday. SEVENTY!

Phil Steele along with other experts picked North Carolina to win the Coastal Division in the ACC this year. The beatdown was a big black eye for the conference as fellow members Miami, Syracuse and Pittsburgh lost to Big 10 schools too. East Carolina has positioned itself as the best school in the state for recruiting. The only other school that could compete with it is Duke and it’s a basketball school. As for ECU hanging 70 on a team, well it’s been a while since that last occurred.

The American Athletic Conference went 7-1 in non conference play Saturday and is having a great year overall.

Purdue Forgets How to Win

The Boilermakers have had a tough couple of years in football but won its second game of the year against FCS Southern Illinois. The school appears to be out of practice as some newbie in the athletics department hung the “W” flag upside down over Ross-Ade Stadium.

The bright side to all this is how Purdue won’t have to raise another “W” flag this season as the Boilers will be a underdog the rest of the season.Northwestern on November 22, however, will be Purdue’s best chance for a Big 10 win.

Volleyball and the 700 Club

The New Hampshire women’s volleyball team defeated Rhode Island Saturday in five sets (23-25, 25-20, 26-24, 26-28, 15-12). The real story though is it was 700th victory of Coach Jill Hirschinger and the photo-op was on. This tweet shows how the Wildcats used their tall volleyball bodies to spell out 700.

UNH has started the season 6-9 but should do well in conference play as the Wildcats are the defending American East champions.

Minnesota is “Dressed for Kill”

Check out these shirts Minnesota passed out to fans in their game with San Jose State to play with the name of its coach Jerry Kill. The Golden Gophers handled the Spartans 24-7 Saturday to move to 3-1.

Look for Kill and his team to go bowling for a third straight year and perhaps give Wisconsin trouble in the Big Ten West.

Kentucky and Lincoln

Kentucky and Louisville is one of the biggest rivalries in college athletics but the men’s soccer matchup caught my eye this week. The two teams meet tonight and Wildcats are going with a famous historical figure to trash Louisville.

That’s right; Kentucky is saying Abraham Lincoln was a Cats fan. The school will pass out shirts that say exactly that in the soccer game. Fans are encouraged to manufacture a top hat and other 19th century garb to dress up like the 16th president himself.

Better than Vampire Hunter

Better than Vampire Hunter

In a way it’s a cool idea as Lincoln was born in Central Kentucky. Problem is the University of Kentucky was not established until 1865, the year Lincoln was assassinated. Louisville was around when Lincoln was born so I’m sure Cardinal fans are ready to argue. Still, it’s a pretty cool marketing technique connecting sports to history of the Commonwealth in a nerdy way. Hard to beat that. Plus, if Lincoln was born today where he was there is little chance he’ll be pulling for Louisville. You’re on an island Jefferson County.

Popcorn Galore

Every wondered what 200 containers of popcorn looks like? Well East Tennessee State gave away free popcorn to 200 fans at its soccer match this weekend.

That’s 200 reasons why it’s cool to live in Johnson City, Tennessee.