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1 day ago UNC Basketball: Way-too-early Top 25’s and Power Rankings
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports Are the Tar Heels gaining national respect? Believe it or not, we are nearing the halfway point of the college basketball offseason. North Carolina will attempt to surpass their No. 1 seed (and Sweet 16 exit) in the 2023-24 season with a new squad set to debut in November. As many are well aware, the Tar Heels are returning ACC Player of the Year RJ Davis, along with Elliot Cadeau, Jae’Lyn Withers, Seth Trimble, Jalen Washington, and Zayden High from last years group. The newcomers are highlighted by marquee freshmen Ian Jackson, Drake Powell, and James Brown. Hubert Davis went out and secured Cade Tyson (Belmont) and Ven-Allen Lubin (Vanderbilt) from the transfer portal as well. Expectations are high in Chapel Hill, but the turnover from a year ago is significant and leaves numerous question marks. The Tar Heels will most likely roll out a much smaller lineup in 2024-25 with one of the most talented backcourts in the country. There won’t be an Armando Bacot or Harrison Ingram down low, though. It’s shaping up to be another top-heavy year in the ACC, and as always, in the entirety of college hoops. It’s tricky to project how North Carolina will compare nationally, but some of the most well-known writers and analysts are already trying to do so. Let’s take a look at where the Tar Heels are falling in some early power rankings and polls. CBS Sports is the kindest to the future Tar Heels, positioning them at No. 4 nationally. Coming in behind just Kansas, Alabama, and Houston, their updated rankings praise the potential compounding of strong recruiting, returners, and transfers in Chapel Hill. The Rothstein 45, updated daily by college hoops analyst Jon Rothstein, has North Carolina at No. 7 with a projected starting lineup of Cadeau, Davis, Jackson, Withers, and Lubin. ESPN and Jeff Borzello mark the Tar Heels in the No. 10 spot. That article and write up can be found here. On3 isn’t far behind, putting Hubert Davis’s group at No. 11. It’s early, but North Carolina is receiving praise and high hopes. Hubert Davis, who is entering year four at the helm, is still looking to have regular season success align with the postseason. 2024-25 is a perfect opportunity to create that tandem, as the Tar Heels are still yet to find legitimate tournament success since the Final Four run in 2022.
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1 day ago NCAA Tournament changes invites, but not how you thought
Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK The Tournament is staying at 68, but new metrics will be used in selecting teams. There had been a lot of chatter that the NCAA was wanting to expand the men’s basketball tournament. As always, the biggest issue is money. With the continuing mergers of power conferences, those conferences feel like they could be in a position like the ACC has been in — with quality teams being left out because of conference perception. In fact, things had been moving along so much that it really seemed inevitable that when the committee met this week, everyone was expecting to hear the news that the tournament was going to be immediately expanded. In actuality, what was being expanded was how teams would be considered for an invitation, instead of the number of invitations themselves. CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander reported the details, including on how this change will happen. Specifically, a team’s resume will now include two new metrics to ensure we don’t just look at the NET rankings anymore. BartTorvik.com, a predictive measure that is similar to KenPom, will be one of the new metrics evaluated when picking tournament teams, finally assuaging concerns that committee members are only looking at their own metrics instead of ones created by outside sources. Having a predictive measure also will help because, presumably, committee members can try to pit bubble teams against each other to see who would win and presumably would be more worthy of getting in. In addition, they will be adding a “Wins above Bubble” metric. Instead of just focusing on how many quadrant wins a team has, the basic premise of this analytic tool is that they take in the data to show how that team would perform against an expected bubble team. So say a givem bubble team has 18 wins, and your favorite team has 17 — their WAB number is -1. Norlander reported that they’ll be using a tool that does incorporate the NET, but the committee will now have a lot more information not only for the bottom of the tournament, but the top. This is an important change. While almost all of the attention goes on the bottom of the bracket, there are a lot of mistakes that happen throughout the rest of the tournament. Teams are over- and under-seeded, and usually it’s just the NET that’s a determining factor. Now, there will be further metrics that will go into determining what seed a team has earned as they go in. As for expanding the field, it’s not certain when or if it will happen. It turns out that when you add more teams and your television partners don’t have to increase their payments for the increased inventory, all that happens is that you add expenses and cut everyone’s shares. When the win shares aren’t worth as much, is it even worth expanding so that conferences can get more? With that realization, it’s possible the tournament may stay at 68 until the current TV deal runs out in 2032. Maybe as it gets closer to the expiration, the NCAA will try to negotiate some extra money for an expanded field earlier, but the word coming out of the committee now is that the added expense of the the extra teams just doesn’t make expansion worth it for now.

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