The Bzdelik Line 2012 – Leap Day Moral Victory Edition
I noted in an article earlier this month that the shear number of excessively bad teams from major conferences has been steadily on the rise for a few years, and that the number of such teams absolutely leaps out this season in particular. While part of the blame over the last 5 years surely lies with a certain ACC head coach that holds the distinction of having coached the worst team of the last decade in not one, but two major conferences, that doesn’t explain the full 11 teams from major conferences, including at least 1 in each of the 6 conferences (for the first time yet if that trend holds up) currently residing outside the top 150. And the 5 outside the top 200. In fact, look at how the number of teams falling outside these thresholds increases over time:
|Year||Top 100||Top 150||Top 200|
For those counting, here’s the number of teams outside the top 200:
2003-2010 – 4 teams combined over 8 years: Penn State in 2003 and 2004, Oregon State in 2008, and Indiana in 2009
2011 – 4 teams
2012 – 5 teams
While I wrote about these teams before, I’ll update the status of these teams from a few weeks ago, including whether conference records (including Jeff Bzdelik’s standing records for having the worst team in each of the Big 12 and ACC over the last decade) will fall this year. I’ll do one more update at the end of the season to summarize the final results for these teams.
From best to worst of these conferences, here we go:
Nebraska (153) – Nebraska lost by 28 at Michigan State las week, scoring just 34 points in the process. That’s the same Nebraska team that Illinois allowed to go on a 43-7 run a week before. The Cornhuskers rank 4th in the country in experience, which sets them apart from every other team that has finished outside the top 150. Every one of those teams since Ken Pomeroy started tracking experience in 2007 finished outside the top 200 in experience.
All Time Worst: 2009 Indiana, coming off a scandal under Kelvin Sampson finished 212th in Tom Crean’s first year. This conference record appears safe this season.
Depaul (169) – Depaul is in year four of their run of finishing outside the top 150. The Blue Demons have been playing their Big East competition tough in recent weeks, taking Louisville to overtime and playing St John’s and Providence to the wire. However, those games all ended the same way, with Depaul trailing at the final buzzer. The young Depaul team (267th in experience) is now on a 9 game losing streak and has lost 14 of their last 15 in Big East play. They’ll have a chance to spoil Seton Hall’s tournament bid in their season finale this weekend.
St John’s (146) – The youngest team in the country, St. John’s freshmen have begun to show their promise in their current 3 game win streak that included wins over UCLA and Notre Dame.
All Time Worst: 2010 Depaul (202). This appears to be safe this season as well unless Depaul completely folds down the stretch.
Texas Tech (237) – Texas Tech has put a recent scare into both Texas and Iowa State, taking Texas to overtime and leading in the second half at ISU. Baby steps for a team full of freshmen, but it’s something.
Big 12 Worst: Tie. Colorado 2007 (168 under Ricardo Patten) and Colorado 2009 (168 under Jeff Bzdelik). Texas Tech looks poised to leave these teams in their wake this season.
Auburn (164) – In year two under head coach Tony Barbee, Auburn has improved from an absolutely dismal season last year. However, unlike most teams on this list, Auburn isn’t trying to rebuild with a young new core of talented but inexperienced underclassmen, ranking 97th in the country in experience. They’ve been trending in the right direction since being ranked 210 on January 11, and would do well to upset rivals Alabama or LSU over the final week as they attempt to rejoin the top 150.
South Carolina (160) – The Gamecocks are going in the opposite direction as Auburn, dropping steadily from 116th on January 10th while amassing a 2-12 SEC record to date. Darren Horn is lucky the baseball and football teams have succeeded in prior years or he may be facing more pressure. This is a team devoid of experience at 313th in the country, and they are the perfect opponent for Mississippi St to face as they attempt to save their season. A win over the Bulldogs would end State’s tournament bid and provide some optimism for the future.
SEC Worst: 2011 LSU was ranked 227th at year end.
Boston College (253) – This story is very similar to St John’s, except with less talented freshmen and a team that has hit the wall in their last two games, getting blown out by Duke and by fellow ACC bottom feeder Wake Forest by 29 last weekend. They get a chance for redemption as they host fellow bottom feeder Georgia Tech on Wednesday night.
Wake Forest (187) – Like Auburn, Wake Forest has also improved a little bit this season. But like Auburn, not nearly enough. Wake has at least battled better at the end of this season than the season prior, blowing out Boston College to achieve their fourth ACC victory, and making a late surge that startled potential #1 seed Duke before finally succumbing in the final minute 79-71. This bit of fight and maturity is a welcome change for a young team that regularly folded last season, and has had a few of those embarrassing meltdown losses this season including back-to-back shellackings at the hands of Virginia and Clemson early this month. It’s not a win, but when you’ve been this bad, even losses can provide something positive.
Georgia Tech (163) – First year head coach Brian Gregory has struggled with a depleted roster, particularly on the road, where Georgia Tech has been absolutely abysmal this season. They have huge games remaining against BC tonight and Wake on Saturday as they try to avoid a last place ACC finish.
All Time Record: 2011 Wake Forest (251); While Coach Jeff Bzdelik’s Big 12 record may fall this season, his ACC mark is less certain to stand. If it doesn’t fall to BC this season, it may stand for a LONG time.
USC (225) – The Trojans, under coach Kevin O’Neill, have displayed one of the largest disparities in performance between two ends of the floor in NCAA history. On the defensive end, the Trojans have played extremely hard, and for the most part, extremely well. Their adjusted defensive efficiency of 94.7 ranks 66th in the country and 6th in the Pac 12. Their problem is on the offensive end of the court, where they can’t seem to find anyone consistently able to put the ball in the basket, ranking 322nd with an adjusted efficiency of just 88.8. They’re the NCAA equivalent of my Thursday night men’s league team, although a recent look actually has my team scoring more than the Trojans. Somehow this team is trailing the two teams I’ll right about next and sits dead last in the Pac 12.
Arizona State (243) – Herb Sendek is in serious trouble here, as Arizona State is 9-20, and has won just one game by double digits (hilarious) this season. They have a chance to spoil rival Arizona’s tournament bid if they can win at home this week. And saving the worst for last….
Utah (301) – Yes #301. Up from 336 on January 5th. One spot to go and they’re out of the top 300. And three Pac 12 teams (Washington State, Arizona State, and then bubble team Stanford) actually managed to lose to them. Utah is in the strange position of making the transition from the Mountain West conference to a Big 6 conference, doing so under a first year head coach. That almost shouldn’t count. But it does. They are a cautionary tale to teams such as TCU, SMU, and Houston, that will be making the leap to the Big 12 and Big East over the next few seasons. Even so, it takes quite the set of circumstances to be ranked outside the top 300 with the resources a program such as Utah has at its disposal, especially when you consider prior to last season only 4 had finished outside the top 200, with 213 as the worst.
Pac 12 All Time Record: 2008 Oregon State (210); 3 teams will break that mark this season alone. And Utah is set to shatter the major conference mark of 251 set by Wake Forest last year. Congrats to Utah, still on pace to be the worst of the worst major conference teams.