Throwback Thursday to NCAA Tournament Photos

Sample size of the photos I shot in the first and second rounds from Indianapolis.

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2014-15 College Sports Social Media Awards

All I do is win, win, win no matter what.

All I do is win, win, win no matter what.

I hope you enjoyed the appetizer of the ESPYS because it’s time to recognize the more important stuff. The social media masters in our NCAA bubble. Social Media award

Last year, my post was a big hit and I went all out this time. No I didn’t see everything on Twitter and Facebook and if I did I would be a synthetic on Humans. Trust me, I saw enough, but feel free to let me know if there was something you think I should have recognized. Now let’s take a look at these manufactured awards.

Best way to embarrass your players: Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt had a great spring sports season with baseball and tennis, so with all the excitement can you blame the track team for taking a nap to recharge? Apparently, their own teammate could not. Anchor down means staying on the internet forever.

Worst use of a statistic: UConn Football
I get it UConn football, you are constantly trying to get your team out of the shadows of the best basketball programs in the country. The countdowns though are coming across as desperate.

That’s right, we are counting down to play a FCS team! Not Rutgers, not Boston College, not even Temple but FCS Villanova. Get your tickets now!

Even worse was the punting statistic. In a 12-game season 66 punts is 5.5 punts a game. That’s a problem as UConn gave up the third highest points in American Athletic Conference play last season. Roughly 30 points per contest. Don’t brag about forcing punts when you are being scored on every other possession.

Best use of democracy: Georgia Tech
Who knew the Yellow Jackets would go to the public for fashion advice?

Best presentation of starting lineup: Missouri
There were plenty of great designs out there for starting lineups in basketball but I like what Missouri did here with the black and white contrast. Now that’s some good layering in the photo edit.

Best soccer starting lineup: East Tennessee State
While I liked what Missouri did for basketball I have to give ETSU credit for their soccer efforts. I gotta have more tactical lineups like these.

Most insecure: North Dakota State
I seriously don’t know what I did. I was a big fan of the Bison winning numerous FCS titles and getting on College Gameday too. This hurts NDSU.

No longer on the Christmas card list.

No longer on the Christmas card list.

Best prognostication: Georgia State
In what ended up being the most entertaining game of the NCAA Tournament, the Panthers knew that an upset was in order thanks to an official box score. Sorry Baylor.

Most shameless advertisement: FIU
FIU has always been in need of cash and well… let’s have a word from our sponsor.

Selfie of the year by mascot: Kentucky
Here is a school not in need of cash. Why every team should have a midnight madness like Kentucky.

Best at making announcements: Northern Illinois
NIU is developing a tradition of making a big deal about future football games. And I have to say #SchedulePalooza is pretty cool. The Huskies drop hints making fans work a digital scavenger hunt to determine the teams NIU will play in a few years.

Worst graphic: Arizona
The defensive player of the week has NO EYES! What an incredible performance by her!

Worst logo placement: Siena
You may accuse me of having my mind in the gutter but a woman’s waistline should never be used for branding. Or a man’s for that matter. Siena is a great follow but this post was not one of the best.

Best costume by a media member: Shae Peppler
Going back to a Miami school with Shae Peppler of Campus Insiders somehow pulling off an Al Golden for Halloween. Didn’t know his tie was so iconic.

Best female media personality to follow: Nicole Auerbach
Auerbach is one of the few who covers college basketball and football equally. She is also one of the few women to be on television as a college football expert for the Big Ten Network. Plus she retweeted me last year. So all the power to her.

Best male media personality to follow: Pat Forde
Until Seth Davis covers other sports besides basketball, Pat Forde is and will always be the man.

Most Harsh: UTEP
This about sums it up.
http://www.midmajormadness.com/2015/3/17/8240159/utep-miner-athletics-uses-twitter-to-put-down-their-own-player

Best food promotion: Iowa State
Now that is a social media promotion.

Best photo shoot: Tie between Pepperdine and Bowling Green State
Yeah I whiffed with a tie but how are you supposed to choose between these two?

Best social media rivalry: MAC vs. the Sun Belt
A great way to have the other bowl games be more impactful is to have the conferences duke it out Twitter. Well done MAC and Sun Belt. Well done.

Best tweet: Jacksonville State
Now this photo demonstrates what college sports should be all about. Playing for your school, having fun and getting that degree. You can stop advertising NCAA. We have found your marketing tool.

Best team selfies: Niagra Women’s Basketball
Have you ever been stuck on the interstate for 24 hours because of a snowstorm? No? Well here is what it looks like.

Best way to celebrate a milestone: New Hampshire
Reaching 700 wins in any sport is a big deal. You truly have to put your body into it.

Best to chat with: Southern Miss
Want to chat with your favorite Golden Eagle? You don’t even have to leave your laptop.

Best video series: American Athletic Conference
American Rising hosted by Hali Oughton became the most informative regular on my news feed this year. The AAC is still new and an odd mix of schools so this media effort helps get it organized for fans.

Best conference on Facebook: Mountain West
For Facebook, I want to see photo galleries. The Mountain West does a tremendous job of providing exactly that for most of its games. This Facebook banner is pretty good too. MWC 7 teams

Best conference to follow: Big West
The Big West celebrates every holiday, offers plenty of photos for every sport and how can you beat this?

Best video by a school: South Florida
A great way to promote a sport like volleyball. This promotion idea was cute and I hope that more videos like these will increase interest for the volleyball program at USF.

Best game show by a team: Florida State Sand Volleyball
On the other side of the state, FSU tried some video ideas of its own with a game show theme. I’m all for getting sand volleyball more attention even in cheesy ways like this, but I don’t think you need two parts here. Still, the effort is to be applauded.

Best school to follow on social media No. 5: Georgia Southern
Now to the top five schools to follow on Twitter. The Eagles made some nice info graphics for their teams this year. Here is a look at a soccer example.

Best school to follow on social media No. 4: Western Kentucky
WKU promoted their sports equally with photo shoots and other promotional graphics. The Hilltoppers had fun too with this color coordinated seating chart.

Best school to follow on social media No. 3: Oregon State
No school made better use of its color scheme on social media than the orange and black of Oregon State. Their posts were hard to miss.

Best school to follow on social media No. 2: Colorado State
Colorado State did an excellent job using photography. It always seemed to grab my attention with the bold colors the Rams would use.

Best school to follow on social media No. 1: Kansas State
The best combination of game updates, photography, promotions, statistics and design has to be Kansas State. The Wildcats were active promoting every game from every team and every result. I feel like I’m in the know about K-State despite living a few states away.

Plus how do compete with a promotion like this?

2015 NBA Draft Diary

Karl-Anthony Townsdraft logo
Do I like him as a player, absolutely? Do like him in Minnesota? Uuuuuh. Not really. He’ll have to post up against the best right away in the Western Conference.
This team belongs to Andrew Wiggins. Will Towns create enough space for him in the paint? Will the No. 1 pick like being a guy who is a second banana on the team?

D’Angelo Russell
The Lakers draft who they must feel is a replacement for Kobe Bryant. Why else would they make this move? How much better is he than other guards in the draft though, like Cameron Payne or R.J. Hunter. Seems high for the No. 2 pick and higher still for a guy ahead of Okafor.

Jahlil Okafor
The Sixers take Okafor and this has to be a trade. The Sixers have spent three straight lottery picks on big men now. And this is what Philadelphia has been tanking for? Yet none of the ESPN guys are ripping the Sixers.
Okafor does not look happy in his interview. Did not mention Philadelphia only a standard happy to be in the league quote. Get him on a better team ASAP.

Kristaps Porzingis
The Knicks take a big from Lativa. That’s all I know about him. That and Knicks fans hate the pick. Shocker.

Jay Bilas says he is a light rebounder and needs to put on weight. Not good.

Mario Hexonja
Magic take a shooter from Spain. Will take some shuffling in the Magic backcourt but could be a big help.

Willie Cauley-Stein
The Kings take a Kentucky buddy of DeMarcus Cousins as an attempt to make him happy I suppose. He is the best defender in the draft and that will give him minutes. Also give him a chance to make up for his offense. The Kings need help in other places but if this is what they need to do keep Boogie happy then it’s hard to trash the pick despite it being a reach.

Emmanuel Mudiay
Love the pick here for the Nuggets. Could end up being the best player in the draft and that’s awesome with the seventh pick. Fantasy owners will love him as he will get minutes right away. Especially if the Nuggets trade Ty Lawson. Mudiay was the top guard a year ago and fell because he played in China. When a player goes overseas to play ball there is no way he will take the NBA for granted and that means a lot for a player’s development.

Stanley Johnson
Over Justise Winslow? Really Detroit? The Pistons struggled to space the floor the past few years so they bring in a 3 who can’t shoot. Nice. He can defend, but where is the scoring going to come from the Pistons?

Frank Kaminsky III
Frank the Tank goes to Charlotte where they have bigs. Maybe this is a pick to replace Al Jefferson? Needs to improve his defense if he is going to see big minutes. Looking for this pick to get traded. Maybe to Boston.

Justise Winslow
Leave it to the Heat to grab a player at No. 10 everyone wanted. He can defend multiple positions and get to the rim. Shooting is a skill that can improve overtime but his defense and ability to draw fouls will make him a force. Darn you Pat Riley.

Myles Turner
As a Pacer fan I don’t like the pick. This seems like a move in case David West doesn’t come back. Turner has to prove he can defend and get big minutes. He only started seven games for Texas. Wish Indiana went Cameron Payne here.

Trey Lyles Utah takes Trey Lyles out of Kentucky. Yep. Utah has good players in the front court so this doesn’t make sense.

Devin Booker
Phoenix takes Booker, maybe the best shooter in the draft. This is a steal for Phoenix. Shooting is always easy to implement into a team and boy can he shoot.

Cameron Payne
I love mid major players and Payne is a great pick. A steal at 14. Could replace Reggie Jackson immediately for the Thunder. Murray State is here to save the day in OKC.

Kelly Oubre Jr.
Atlanta takes a wing in Oubre from Kansas. The Hawks needed some defense in that spot with Kyle Korver being a matador.
Whoops, he just got traded to the Wizards.

Terry Rozier
A team loaded with guards took Terry Rozier, a point guard. Trade bait.

Rashad Vaughn
Jalen Rose compared Vaughn to Dion Waiters. Not exciting. But any Mountain West player selected in the first round is a good pick in my book. Yea mid-majors. Wish Vaughn the best at Milwaukee.

Sam Dekker
Houston takes Dekker, a team that shoots 3s took a quality 3-point shooter. Reasonable.

Jerian Grant
Supposedly this pick is going to New York meaning Grant will be operating in a talent wasteland. Very few players could survive there but Grant is a fighter and we saw that in the tournament.

Delon Wright
The Raptors take a point guard to make up for how badly Kyle Lowery played in the playoffs. The odds of him starting there are small but that is what happens in this stage of the first round. Though other guys might have been more appealing here.

Justin Anderson
A guy who can defend most positions will give Dallas immediate help athletically. Love this pick for the Mavericks.

Bobby Portis
This a high value pick for the Bulls as Portis can help the team soon with his rebounding and effort. Wish he took Arkansas a little further in the tournament, but it is hard to complain about him right here.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Portland grabs a defensive stalwart in Hollis-Jefferson. So what if he struggles from 3. That can improve. This is a good pick for Portland who already have the scoring punch from Damian Lillard.

Tyus Jones
Cavaliers take Tyus Jones but ship him to Minnesota for two second round picks. Going from playing with LeBron to playing in Minnesota has to be depressing.

Jarell Martin
Memphis needs offense and selected a guy who averaged 17 and 9. I’ll take that at pick No. 25.

Nikola Milutinov
Don’t know him but he was drafted by the Spurs so…

Larry Nance Jr.
Wyoming! Can’t remember a guy from that school going in the first round but it’s nice to see. He’ll have his work cut out for him in LA though. Turns out Theo Ratliff was drafted in the first round in 1995. Been awhile.

R.J. Hunter
A big steal in the draft. Boston continues to draft guards so I see some moves coming.

Chris McCullough
The Nets are happy to take anyone as Boston and Atlanta has all of their picks.

Kevon Looney
Going to the Warriors has to be a great feeling. Golden State needs some size and Looney can help in that regard.

What is the most important stat in NCAA tournament games?

If there was one mistake I made this year with my bracket it was picking the wrong statistic to be my leading indicator for predictions. That was defense.
The result was picking Kentucky to beat Virginia in the title game. Whoops.
As you can see in the top 50 defenses, Virginia and Kentucky are at the top. While Kentucky and Wisconsin made the Final Four with elite defensesFinal Four Indy, Duke was outside the top 100 and Michigan State was outside the top 80.

Think offense is the key stat? Think again. The top 50 is a mixed bag of teams who did well in the tournament and teams who flopped like Davidson and Iowa State.

Three-point shooting? Only two teams in the top 20 of 3-point field-goal percentage even made it to the Sweet 16 in Gonzaga and Utah.

This leaves the stat coaches talk about all the time. Turnovers.

While it’s not overwhelming, the quality of teams in the top 50 is significant. Turnover margin was the key to getting West Virginia to the Sweet 16 and Georgia State’s big upset of Baylor.
Georgia State was plus 15 in turnovers in its upset of Baylor, turning over the Bears 21 times. Baylor’s rebounding and defense was not good enough to make up for it.

West Virginia was plus 5 in turnover margin against Buffalo and was plus 13 vs. Maryland. The problem for WVU is it met Kentucky in the Sweet 16; a team that also forces miscues because of its length and size. The Mountaineers were minus 3 against the Wildcats and that contributed to a 78-39 drumming.

Virginia Commonwealth is known for its pressure and forcing mistakes, but Ohio State was strong in the turnover game too. The result was the Buckeyes winning in overtime as the two squads ended with 11 turnovers each. Having the same number of turnovers as VCU is quite the accomplishment.

Wichita State shot a dreadful 15.4 % from 3 against Indiana but edged out a win thanks to plus six in turnover margin.

The Louisville Cardinals are always good in the turnover game as that’s Rick Pitino’s forte. An upset from UC-Irvine appeared likely but Louisville survived courtesy of a plus five in turnover margin. It was the only team stat the Cardinals clearly controlled. The turnover edge nearly propelled the Cardinals to the Final Four as lost to the Spartans in overtime in the East Regional Final. Louisville was just plus three in that game.

Remember the First Four? BYU came in as an offensive powerhouse and shot an insanely 15 of 29 from 3. Problem though was Ole Miss turning BYU over 15 times to its 7.

It’s also interesting that among the teams with the fewest turnovers per game you’ll find Wisconsin at No. 2. It’s an advantage that might neutralize the defense of Kentucky a tiny bit.

It’s not unanimous, but turnover margin has been a key stat throughout the tournament. Six of the Elite Eight are in the top 75 of the stat with Michigan State being the only true anomaly at No. 215.

Now I wish I could have just reworked the bracket with that in mind.

My 2015 March Madness Picks

Last year’s bracket did fine considering it was a crazy year. Picking Mercer to beat Duke was enough credibility for me to roll my bracket on the internet again.

I have Kentucky winning it all and that sounds boring I know. The Wildcats are just that good. Sure, Kentucky will be tested (I have them playing Wisconsin in the semifinals and Virginia in the title game), but they should pass those tests. This Kentucky team is obviously superior to the team that scrapped past Wisconsin a year ago and came up short in the title game with UConn.

Virginia was the team I struggled with the most as I don’t know how healthy it will be. I just think the Cavaliers have gone too far to have another season end before the Final Four, though Michigan State and even Belmont could give them problems.

To the picks.

Midwest

My Midwest is crazy outside of Kentucky rolling through. Valpo is a solid team as I have it moving on to the Sweet 16. The Crusaders can defend and shoot 3s and that is a lethal combo. Texas is another surprise team here as the Longhorns are among the leaders in blocks in rebounds. When you look at their losses you see that most came to good Big 12 teams on the road and at Kentucky. Wichita State is the next hidden gem in the region as the Shockers have been waiting for a shot at Kansas for a long time. No way they let this slip.

In contrast the West is more predictable.

West

The East is about Virginia staying healthy. I added some upsets from the winner of Boise State/Dayton and Louisville having another deep run.

East

The South can be anyone but I like Utah as it is one of the few squads who can defend and score. This is also Gonzaga’s best chance at a deep tournament run. For a good upset, I’m going with Eastern Washington to shoot the 3 over a bigger Georgetown team.

South

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.

Is the New SEC Network a Guaranteed Success?

The talk shows are coming, the talk shows are coming.

The talk shows are coming, the talk shows are coming.

The launch of the new SEC network is only 2 weeks away and the signs are pointing up. With a partnership through ESPN it seems inconceivable for the network to fail. I know Big 10 country would love to see nothing more than the SEC struggle at their network but that is unrealistic. Whether you’re pro SEC Network or think it’s a money grab for cheating football teams, here are the pros and cons of the television channel.

Pro: If the Big Ten Network can succeed, imagine what the SEC can do as an ESPN affiliate.

The Big Ten Network has been around since 2007, and it feels crazy to think it’s been around for that long. BTN was a partnership with FOX Sports and that’s important to note. FOX Sports 1 wasn’t even around to help promote it yet BTN has powered through some ups and downs.

Now imagine if BTN had the ESPN machine promoting the channel through SportsCenter every hour, or during Monday Night Football. Heck, even on ABC. That’s a huge resource and I haven’t even mention espn.com being loaded with SEC Network promos too. While BTN programming may be hidden on an obscure channel, the SEC Network will be loud and proud with ESPN.

Con: The SEC does not have enough content to fill a 24/7 network 365 days a year.

That is correct, but neither does BTN, ESPN, CNN nor practically every other 24/7 network for that matter. These television stations have mastered the art of filling time and SEC network will do the same. BTN replays games from previous seasons most of the time and somehow that has been enough. A 5-year-old football game beats “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” any day.

Pro: Live sports

Live sporting events, particularly football, are ratings gold and almost impossible to mess up. Well unless you’re FOX Sports 1. Here’s a breakdown of the event programing.

That seems kind of small on the women's side don't you think?

That seems kind of small on the women’s side don’t you think?

Con: These events were already on television anyway

For football that is true. Even the Kentucky Wildcats and Vanderbilt Commodores have had their football games on some platform. The SEC network will steal some games away from ESPNU and will of course wipe out ESPN3. Basketball games, however, are tougher to find and the SEC Network will serve fans greatly during the conference tournaments in both men’s and women’s basketball. The question will be the other sports like soccer and volleyball. Will the SEC faithful watch those too?

Pro: SEC fans see their league as a family

Note that they are not chanting L-S-U after winning the title.

Con: Are there enough basketball fans?

Kentucky and Florida will have the bulk of their basketball games on bigger networks like CBS. Once you get past Vanderbilt and Tennessee you start running into a lack of depth on hardwood. Will people watch South Carolina and Auburn tangle in hoops in a primetime setting? That remains to be seen. The SEC really needs schools like LSU, Arkansas, and Mississippi State to be a tourney team on a regular basis. Maybe Missouri can find its way to being a basketball power too. If it’s just Kentucky and Florida carrying the other 12 schools, it might hurt the network during the first three months of the year.

Pro: The SEC does not have many professional teams to worry about.

Atlanta is the only city in the South that’s loaded with professional sports teams and that hurts Georgia Tech more so than UGA. South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Kentucky are states where college ball is in charge. LSU is right up there if not greater than the New Orleans Saints in terms of fan support. The Florida Gators don’t have to worry about the Jacksonville Jaguars or even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers eating away its media attention. Contrast that with most other regions like the Midwest and Northeast. The Southeast is unique in that its college teams are more popular than the pro guys.

Con: Talk Shows?

This is really the only thing that could derail the network in my opinion and that’s just it; having too many opinions.

If the network tries to fill time with people calling in and saying “Roll Tide This” and “War Eagle That” than it will get old and get annoying quick. I would rather watch a SEC women’s soccer game than have Paul Finebaum talk about Nick Saban vs. Les Miles.

Cutting the chatter to a minimum and showing as much live sports as possible is really what fans want. There will be plenty of time to chant S-E-C, just save it for the games.