REACTION and ANALYSIS: OFFICIAL Division II West Region Men’s Basketball Rankings…..

OFFICIAL WEST REGION DIVISION II MEN’S BASKETBALL RANKINGS 
Overall DII Record               In-Region 
1 Western Ore.                                   22-2                                         22-2
2 Chico St.                                             19-4                                          19-4
3 UC San Diego                                  19-5                                         18-5
4 California Baptist                         20-6                                         18-6
5 Seattle Pacific                                 18-7                                         18-7
6 Azusa Pacific                                   18-6                                         17-6
7 Cal Poly Pomona                           18-6                                        16-6
8 Dixie St.                                               15-8                                        15-8
9 Alas. Anchorage                             16-8                                        15-8
10 Alas. Fairbanks                            16-7                                        16-7

Let me start by saying I was WAY OFF on my rankings. WAAAAAY OFFFF. And, I am totally OK with that. I thought my rankings were well-reasoned and qualified, but since I haven’t broken down the Performance Indicator and RPI’s for the teams, it came down to body of work, finite analysis and comparison. With the release of today’s Division II Men’s West Regional Basketball rankings we learned one hard and fast thing about life in the West Region……BEAT THE TEAMS YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BEAT !!!

My initial surprise is now steadied in the fact that the committee is really utilizing the PI (Performance Indicator) which measures each win and each loss with a point value. What we saw in today’s rankings highlights how vital it is to beat SUB .500 teams. If you slip you will be punished. This week we saw Seattle Pacific lose their first game to a team under .500 and they dropped an incredible THREE SPOTS (2nd to 5th.) We saw Pomona beat Chico in Chico but follow that up with a dreadful loss to Stanislaus State and drop from 6th to 7th.

Losses to good teams, even at home do not crush you. But, based on the criteria being utilized you get crushed if you lose to sub-standard teams whether at home or on the road. While top-seeded Western Oregon and Chico State both lost, their losses were to teams ranked in the top-10 in the region (definition of a good/acceptable loss.) They also both beat teams ranked in the region after those losses (definition of a good win.) Western Oregon stayed at number one, while Chico State climbed to number two despite losing a game.

I was a little surprised Seattle Pacific dropped to fifth after looking at the quality of their schedule. 15 of their 25 games against teams over .500 and compiling a 9-6 record in those 15 contests. Knowing that Chico State, Seattle Pacific and UC San Diego all had to be pretty close in the rankings, I guess the committee was looking at something to differentiate the teams. A bad loss qualifies especially when it comes to the performance indicator.

With Seattle Pacific falling so far, that shows me that the teams ranked from 2-to-7 must all be pretty close and any mis-step or incongruity will be addressed by the committee. That means this last week of the regular season and the conference tournaments are going to be VITAL in terms of seeding and possibly berths into the NCAA Tournament.

Azusa Pacific sits at number six and that is before the committee takes their loss at BYU-Hawaii on Tuesday night into account. Needless to say Azusa needs to finish the week strong at Chaminade and Hilo. Pomona just has to be sick. They were sitting at six last week, they beat Chico State on ESPN3 in front of a standing room only sell-out crowd coming back from 18 points down with 10 minutes to go…..then they lose in OT to a 7-16 Stanislaus team. That had to feel like they won the SuperLotto but lost the ticket.

I knew Dixie was coming on strong and their two wins against Holy Names saw them jump from 10-to-8. The Red Storm have really put things to together but they have some work to do with a tough schedule in the final week of the season. They are ranked 8th despite not having their win on the road against Dominican factored into the equation, so they have to be feeling pretty good.

Anchorage slipped to number 9 with their loss to Western Oregon and a win against a sub .500 squad. And, it was a great week for Alaska Fairbanks as they beat Western Oregon and put themselves in the conversation.

Remember, power ratings and wins against quality teams is always changing since some teams either are sitting ABOVE .500 or AT .500 or fall BELOW the .500 mark. This will have a significant impact on the quality of wins for teams. So, keep an eye on not only a specific team and how they are performing but also the teams they have beaten OR lost to and whether those wins or losses qualify as good or bad. The Performance Indicator and RPI along with Division II and in-region records are constantly fluctuating and changing. As we saw this week, if you slip on the banana peel not only will your pride and tail bone hurt, but also……your ranking.

*photo courtesy of Chico State Athletics at ChicoWildcats.com

 

Chico/Pomona: It was a great night….except for the ending

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Last Friday night’s Chico State and Cal Poly Pomona nationally televised men’s basketball game had everything. The Chico State students with a rousing rendition of the national anthem. The artistry of Wildcat junior Robert Duncan, and an 18 point lead with 10 minutes to go…..

But then, the floor caved in.  We look back at a memorable albeit unfulfilling night at Acker Gymnasium

*PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHICO STATE ATHLETICS AT CHICOWILDCATS.COM

Top Teams in Men’s West Region have a hiccup….My Rankings Preview

*OFFICIAL RANKINGS RELEASED WEDNESDAY AT 1PM PST*

All four teams that were perched atop the first Division II West Region men’s basketball rankings lost last week. Either these squads   couldn’t stand success or the west region is stacked. I choose the latter.

Top ranked Western Oregon got ambushed in Fairbanks by the Nanooks, who I believe should be right in the mix of  top teams this week. Second-ranked Seattle Pacific suffered their first loss against a non upper echelon team in St. Martin’s. 3rd-ranked Chico State played in front of a national television audience on ESPN3 on Friday night and led 6th-ranked Pomona 52-34  in front of defeaning home crowd……they proceeded to get out-scored 33-9 and lose 67-61. 4th-ranked UC San Diego was tripped up in Oceanside against San Marcos. The week showed why we love Division II west region basketball. Leave your expert opinions about what you “think” will happen at the door and be sure you remove your shoes before walking on the carpet.

Here are the rankings from last week. We will look at each squad based on the NCAA selection criteria and look at some of the newcomers that could be crashing the rankings party……

Rank School
West
1 Western Ore.
2 Seattle Pacific
3 Chico St.
4 UC San Diego
5 California Baptist
6 Cal Poly Pomona
7 Azusa Pacific
8 Alas. Anchorage
9 Humboldt St.
10 Dixie St.

SELECTION CRITERIA

In-Region winning %
D-II Win%
D-II Strength of Schedule (SOS)
D-II Head-to-Head
D-II Common Opponents

Performance Indicator – This is a 23-point system based on wins and losses versus teams with records at or below .000-.249/.250-.499/.500-749 and .750 and above. (An example…….a win on the road against a team that is 20-1 is the best win you can have in Division-II. The P.I. will give that team the optimum amount of points for that victory. With that said, if you lose to a team that is 2-20 that is the worst loss you can have.)

Results vs ranked D-II opponents- This category is only applicable AFTER the first regional rankings are released. A team will have their records considered if they have been ranked in the TOP-10 of the regional rankings during the ranking period. (An example…..if Team A is ranked at #10 in the first installment of the regional rankings and then they fall out of the rankings in subsequent polls, how Team B does against Team A will be considered for this criteria.)

RPI- is won/lost record, opponents strength of schedule (SOS) and opponents’ opponents (SOS)

TOP DAWGS STUMBLE

WESTERN OREGON- Despite the loss to Alaska University I don’t see the Wolves being bounced from their top spot. Right now it is THEIR top spot. The Wolves season has been so good that even with the stumble their criteria numbers are so good it would take a complete and colossal meltdown to squander the top seed away. WOU is 22-2 against Divison II opponents and 22-2 against Division II in-region opponents. With their win against Anchorage on Saturday, a gritty 64-58 grinder, they are now 9-2 against teams above .500 on the season. With no losses against a team under .500 the Wolves are still ruling the roost. Now, if the Wolves shank a few more shots into the woods and have to take a drop after hitting one into the drink, then we might have a discussion regarding the top seed in the West. But, right now the Wolves are a solid and firm number one in the region. I would be stunned if the committee didn’t agree.

SEATTLE PACIFIC- It was bound to happen. The Falcons have been gobbling up their weaker peers all season long and then it struck last Tuesday night. Ironically there were no other games on Tuesday night so basketball nerds like me were hanging on every possession. St. Martin’s had the lead, traded leads and made big plays when it counted. Even though the Saints are “technically” over .500, their record against D-II teams was only 9-12 going into the SPU game. So, this qualifies as a bad loss for the Falcons. This was their first sub .500 loss of the season. For me, this loss was the outlier. They have still played the most games in the region against teams over .500. Kudos to the Falcons. With that said, when you crunch the numbers they may have to cede the 2nd spot in the region. The Falcons are now 18-7 against Division II and D-II in region teams. The loss to the Saints will hit the Falcons PERFORMANCE INDICATOR (see above.) I don’t think the Falcons drop this week. But, I also believe the Falcons are simply playing for seeding now. They are an NCAA Tournament team.

CHICO STATE- I have done the radio for Chico State men’s basketball for 22 years. 3 years as a student and 19 years for our local news talk station. I have never seen a crowd as excited and jacked up for a game like Friday night. 2100 fans packed into a sold out Acker Gym in a nationally televised game on ESPN3. What they witnessed were two of the top ten defensive teams in the country put on a clinical display on how to defend.

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Chico lead perennial power Pomona 52-34 with 10:26 to go. Then the greatness of Pomona and the Achilles heel of Chico State reared their heads. Pomona dug in and fought like the championship program they are, and Chico turned the ball over and over and over again. 24 Chico turnovers led to 24 Pomona points in a 67-61 win. Incredible game. Chico would bounce back like the great program they have become and would beat their rival, 9th-ranked Humboldt State on Saturday night. Chico State needed a power rating boost and they got it by playing two teams slotted in last weeks’ rankings. Chico is now 19-4 against Division II and in-region opponents. They are also a solid 8-4 against teams above .500. I think they close the gap against SPU, but the committee can’t rank Chico State above SPU since the Falcons beat Chico in Chico in November and they are next to each other in the rankings. Chico will stay at three.

UC SAN DIEGO- The Tritons played one game on the week and it wasn’t a good one. They fell to the closest thing they have to a cross-town rival Cal State San Marcos. The Cougars are an offensively gifted team and if you have just the slightest slip defensively they will make you pay, the Tritons paid that price on Wednesday night. UC San Diego has lost two of their last three and now sits at 19-5 against Division II opponents and 18-5 against in region opponents. The Tritons 9-4 record against teams above .500 is one of the best in the region. There is a chance they fall this week, but I don’t see them dropping more than a spot. Based on the criteria the top-4 teams had created a little bit of a buffer against the rest of the field, but as I will explain that buffer is a lot smaller today than it was last week. UCSD is a very good team, but they do need to snap out of their little funk and turn it around before the CCAA Tournament.

CAL BAPTIST- The Lancers had a great week. They not only beat first place Concordia but then they beat Point Loma on the road to go 2-0 on the week. With UCSD stumbling and seeing that the Lancers beat two teams above .500 one might think this is the time to move Cal Baptist above UCSD. As Lee Corso would say, “not so fast my friends.” Based on how teams are gauged and how the national committee “usually” instructs the regional committees, if two teams are next to each other in the regional rankings and the selection criteria are close, which I believe they are, then the committee MUST seed the team that won the head-to-head match-up above the other. UCSD beat Cal Baptist 76-67 on November 24th. The Lancers resume continues to shine despite their rather pedestrian 6-5 record away from home. They are 20-6 against Divison II teams and are 18-6 against in-region teams. I love their 9-5 record versus teams above .500. If anything the Lancers removed any doubts about their body of work. If they hadn’t lost that November game to the Tritons they most assuredly would be 4th in the region. Sadly for Lancers fans they move DOWN in the rankings. How is this even possible ? Well, as I will explain, the committee may have no choice based on outcomes of other games last week.

CAL POLY POMONA- So one night after pulling off one of the great comebacks in the Chico/Pomona rivalry the Broncos went to Turlock and laid and ill-timed egg against Stanislaus State. The Warriors of Stanislaus had lost 11 straight before upending Humboldt in triple OT on Friday, then they shocked Pomona in overtime on Saturday. How is that for breaking an 11-game skid ? Beating two regionally ranked teams in extra sessions. For Pomona, what a tremendous let-down. A great win followed by a big stub of the toe. The win against Chico was huge for the power ranking. The loss to Stanislaus State sinks the power ranking. Pomona is 18-6 against Division II and is 16-6 against in-region teams. While the Broncos are an impressive 7-2 against teams above .500. They have inexplicably lost games to sub .500’s Cal State LA, Dominguez Hills and Stanislaus. The Broncos match-up zone is a bear as Chico can attest, but if that zone isn’t on point, they are vulnerable. I think the Broncos put themselves at risk of dropping this week. It’s not because they don’t belong among the top five or six teams in the region. They might drop because the team sitting behind them in last week’s rankings, Azusa Pacific.

AZUSA PACIFIC- The resume got a little brighter for the Cougars last week as they beat two teams with better than .500 records. Azusa knocked off Dominican in a barn-burner 96-94 avenging an early season loss in San Rafael. Then on Friday they also stung first place Concordia. With the wins Azusa Pacific moved to 18-6 against Division II opponents and 17-6 against D-II region foes. They now also have a REGION BEST 10 wins versus teams above .500. With no losses to teams below .500 I think Azusa moves up. The big question is how far ? Here is where things get crazy-tricky for the committee. I don’t envy them this week. If they move the Cougars into the 6th spot above Pomona, they would then HAVE to move Azusa above Cal Baptist into the 5th spot since Azusa swept the season series from the Lancers. Ouch for the Lancers….Azusa had a great week and I think it might get even better for them when they check out the official rankings on Wednesday.

ALASKA ANCHORAGE- It was not the greatest of weeks for the Seawolves. While they did beat Concordia of Oregon on Thursday, their 64-58 loss to top-ranked Western Oregon was a missed opportunity. The loss made the Seawolves 16-8 against Divison II opponents and 15-8 against in-region opponents. They dropped to 7-5 against teams above .500. When you crunch the criteria it’s so much that Anchorage lost to Western Oregon, it’s really what the teams below them are doing. While Anchorage isn’t feeling pressure from Humboldt in the regional rankings, Dixie State is fast on their heels and if the criteria matches up, Dixie might move up to the 8th spot in the region. (HINT: Dixie and Anchorage played in Billings in November.) Anchorage is also feeling heat from other squads but the Dixie threat is the most ominous. My “guess” is that Anchorage holds on to the 8th spot by a whisker since simply playing Western Oregon will help the power rating. Just to show you how fragile the rankings are, if Anchorage had beaten Western Oregon they might have moved to 7. Now, they might drop out of  top-8.

HUMBOLDT STATE- The Lumberjacks saw the nightmare scenario hit them this weekend. They lose in Triple OT to Stanislaus State, breaking the Warriors 11-game losing streak. Not only did they lose the game, then they had to drive to Chico and play their rival Wildcats on Saturday. Both teams seemed mentally tired after taxing Friday night games, the Wildcats depth and experience outlasted the Jacks 82-74. Humboldt is now 13-8 against Division II and in-region opponents. They now have three losses to teams under .500. While the game against Chico helps their power rating, their loss against Stanislaus is a performance indicator crusher. I think the Jacks drop out of the Top-10 in the region and will need to catch some lightning in the CCAA Tournament.

DIXIE STATE- The Red Storm are that race horse that broke badly out of the gate, looked disjointed at the quarter pole and one had to wonder if the horse was feeling OK. By the half mile pole, you liked the stride but didn’t think the mare had enough. Then as they entered the far turn, you saw the Red Storm picking them up and layin them down. As we enter the stretch Dixie’s jockey has gone to the whip and they charging hard. Winners of 7-in-a-row the committee will no longer over-look the Dixie State Red Storm. They are playing some great basketball. At one point the Red Storm were 4-5 and now they sit at 15-8 in the region and against D-II opponents. They are also 5-6 against teams above .500. Dixie won two games last week, beating Holy Names twice. Those wins won’t help Dixie much since Holy Names only has four wins. But, as we are writing this we see that Dixie beat Dominican on Monday night. Sadly for Dixie that came will not count for THIS WEEK’S regional rankings, but it will be counted when rankings are determined next week. I think Dixie moves up to number 9 in the region. The only thing that keeps them at 10 would be the power rating equations because of Holy Names poor record.

BEST OF THE REST

ALASKA FAIRBANKS- I watched the Nanooks and their fans storm the court last week and Alaska has us sitting up and taking notice. I didn’t list them here last week. It wasn’t an oversight I just didn’t think they were eligible this year, but they are eligible and they are alive and well. They beat the number one team in the nation and region in Western Oregon last Thursday and then knocked off Concordia of Oregon on Saturday. Alaska is now 16-7 against Division II opponents and in-region foes. They are also 5-4 against teams above .500. What hurts them is they got swept by Anchorage. Unless the Fairbanks criteria numbers are significantly better than Anchorage, the committee will not rank them higher than the Seawolves. Fairbanks has a huge game against Central Washington in Ellensburg this week. This is a huge game with bubble teams angling for a regional spot. Nanooks also travel to Nampa to take on Northwest Nazarene on Saturday.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON- It’s not Central Washington’s fault that the two teams they played last week are sub .500 teams, they did what they needed to do and are still in the discussion for the West Regional. Central beat Western Washington and Simon Fraser. The good news for the Wildcats is that both wins were on the road and they are now 9-4 away from home. They also haven’t had a loss this year to a sub .500 team. The problem for Central is ONLY 3 wins versus teams over .500 this year. They NEED wins against good teams. They will get their chance this week at home. This could be the week Central makes a jump. They need to win both games against Alaska and Anchorage to make the argument. The committee wants to see wins against plus .500 teams.

HAWAII-PACIFIC- HPU suffered a bad loss to Hilo and that really hurt them. They sit at 13-8 in the region and against D-II opponents. They will need wins against Point Loma and BYU-Hawaii this week and then get lots of help.

BYU-HAWAII- Not a good week for BYU-Hawaii. They lost by 29 to Chaminade. With a 12-10 in region and D-II record they just don’t have enough right now. They host Azusa Pacific and play Hawaii Pacific this week. Needless to say wins in these contests are essential.

POINT LOMA- I had Point Loma in the discussion but they are only 2-9 against teams over .500. It’s really hard to consider them a regional team with only two wins against good teams. They are 6-4 on the road and are 12-11 in region. They play Hilo, Chaminade and Hawaii Pacific. They need to win all three and get help.

SAN FRANCISCO STATE- The Gators got a big win over a fellow bubble team in Sonoma on Saturday. The win moved the Gators to 14-9 in region and against D-II opponents. They are also 5-5 versus plus .500 teams. The Gators do have three losses to teams below .500, but their 7-4 road record is impressive. This Friday and Saturday they play two big road games against UC San Diego and San Bernardino. They need two wins and they still might need to win the CCAA Tourney to get in.

SONOMA STATE- Sonoma is almost off the bubble entirely. Losing to San Francisco State hurt them immensely and to this point they only have three wins versus teams over .500. Losses to Academy of the Art (5 wins) as well as losses to San Bernardino and Dominguez Hills hurt their case. The Seawolves will need to win the CCAA Tourney and garner the AQ.

My Rankings (2nd Installment)

1. WESTERN OREGON

2. SEATTLE PACIFIC

3. CHICO STATE

4. UC SAN DIEGO

5. AZUSA PACIFIC

6. CAL BAPTIST

7. POMONA

8. ANCHORAGE

9. DIXIE STATE

10. ALASKA FAIRBANKS 

*PHOTOS COURTESY OF CHICO WILDCATS ATHLETICS AT CHICOWILDCATS.COM*

BitOBaca SNIPPET: We preview Chico & Pomona plus Monty Williams inspiring eulogy for his wife

In today’s installment of our BitOBaca Snippet we preview tonight’s SOLD OUT match-up between the Chico State Wildcats and Cal Poly Pomona Broncos. We also revisit the inspiring speech and eulogy given by Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams…..This classy NBA-lifer gives a lesson in class, compassion, courage, forgiveness and faith….

 

The United States and China are in this Apple fight together……

It didn’t take long for the long time adversaries to join hands and come after one of the biggest technology companies in the world. Let the record show that on February 17, 2016 the United States government and the People’s Republic of China finally said enough is enough and came for their bite of the Apple.

The case stems from the US Government’s inability to get into terrorist Syed Farook’s iPhone. Despite their best efforts, the Apple technology is too good for even the best in our government to circumvent. Instead of going to Congress, the Feds found a hand-picked federal judge to do their bidding.

If Apple complies with a court order and builds code to unlock their phones, a code they currently don’t have by the way, it will go against the privacy standards they have touted and used as part of their business model for more than a decade. Within the last year, Apple fervently fought China to keep their iPhone protections in place. China threatened Apple, but in the end preferred their business and didn’t require the back-door mechanisms to be part of the phones. Make no mistake, if the United States compels Apple to cooperate, not only will the US Government have access to your phones, but now the hackers in China can gain entry if they were so inclined, and they will be inclined. Remember, this is a back-door that does not exist. The Feds want Apple to work on this all-encompassing “MASTER KEY” for iPhone. This is not to just unlock ONE phone. The technology that Apple is being asked to create would unlock EVERY iPhone.

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The government is basically asking Apple to write a program that hacks their own customers and open up their banking, medical and other personal information that many of us store on our phones knowing we have these protections. Tim Cook said today…

“The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master-key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.

The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.”

On Tuesday February 16th The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) admitted they could not break into San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook’s iPhone. Despite unprecedented cooperation from Apple, the phone’s technological genius and encrypted mechanism prevents back-door hacks, even by the genius’ in the federal government.

Now after cooperating fully, Apple is being ordered by a federal judge to unlock Farook’s phone for the federal government and retrieve any data that might be left on the phone and then hand it over to the federal government. The federal ruling compels Apple to disable the security features of the device, thereby allowing the federal government more than 10 bites at trying to learn Farook’s pass code. The problem here is that Apple CEO Tim Cook has stated today and he has stated all along that Apple doesn’t have the key to open the back-door and they aren’t compelled to do the research for something they don’t want as part of their business model. More from Cook….

“We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data.” 

Cook went on to say…..

“Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.

The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.

Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government.”

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You see as an iPhone owner one of the beautiful things about the phone is if you try to enter the passcode more than ten times and you are wrong, the phone locks up. Cook says if they open Farook’s phone then back-door is open for any iPhone  Even though there is not an expectation that digital and electronic communication is totally private, we know as iPhone owners the company holds these privacy matters as sacrosanct. This MATTERS to those of us that buy iPhones, it’s a selling point. So, for the Feds to flippantly ask and require Apple to acquiesce is a huge miscalculation on their part. Cook and Apple knows this.

In this era of complete distrust of government and those that run it, why would we want our technological key holder to open this “back-door” for a government we don’t particularly like and we don’t particularly trust ? Well, the minions have come out of the wood-work with comments like,

“if you have nothing to hide, you won’t mind sacrificing a bit of privacy.”

“Sometimes for the good of the country you need to give a little.”

“You are Un-American and you support the terrorists if you don’t give the government this authority.”

These are patently false and ignorant statements. Us iPhone owners love America, love our law enforcement and those that protect us.

What we don’t love are those that question OUR love of country and safety because we won’t freely hand over access to our electronic communication. What we don’t love is government that continually lies, scares and uses propaganda to manipulate their subjects as they continue to erode our civil rights.

Kudos to Tim Cook. Kudos to Apple. Since the US Government doesn’t value our personal liberties, I am proud to do business with a company that still holds personal liberty and privacy in high standing.

“IF YOU STAND FOR NOTHING YOU WILL FALL FOR ANYTHING.”

 

 

D-II West Region Men’s Basketball Breakdown; Regional Rankings

In early November there are 38 teams in the Western Region that have designs at earning a bid to the NCAA Division-II Men’s Basketball Tournament. In a little more than three weeks only EIGHT teams from the West Region will have qualified for the madness that comes in March.

Those eight squads come from the Great Northwest Conference (11 teams), the Pacific West Conference (14 teams) and the California Collegiate Athletic Association (13 teams.)

It is not an enviable endeavor for the NCAA West Region Committee. This group is a mixture of coaches and athletic administrators that are tasked with crunching a specific set of criteria to determine the best eight teams in the region. This criteria is multi-pronged and multi-faceted and is designed to take the human element out of the equation. Here are the criteria for the teams wanting to make the Division-II Men’s NCAA Tournament……

  1. In-Region winning %
  2. D-II Win%
  3. D-II Strength of Schedule (SOS)
  4. D-II Head-to-Head
  5. D-II Common Opponents

For every Division-II sport there are THREE ADDED criteria. For men’s basketball they are as follows……

  1. Performance Indicator – this is a 23-point system based on wins and losses versus teams with records at or below .000-.249/.250-.499/.500-749 and .750 and above. (An example…….a win on the road against a team that is 20-1 is the best win you can have in Division-II. The P.I. will give that team the optimum amount of points for that victory. With that said, if you lose to a team that is 2-20 that is the worst loss you can have.)
  2. Results vs ranked D-II opponents. This category is only applicable AFTER the first regional rankings are released. A team will have their records considered if they have been ranked in the TOP-10 of the regional rankings during the ranking period. (An example…..if Team A is ranked at #10 in the first installment of the regional rankings and then they fall out of the rankings in subsequent polls, how Team B does against Team A will be considered for this criteria.)
  3. RPI is won/lost record, opponents strength of schedule (SOS) and opponents’ opponents (SOS)

For the purposes of this blog we are not going to break down all eight categories, but we will give you a general overview based on certain criteria that the committee must consider.

Contrary to what many may think this is a numbers based strict criteria that is designed to get the best eight teams from every region. When the process ends there are usually a few teams that are distraught that their name wasn’t called, but most of the time there was something they could have done about it. If you want to go to the NCAA Tournament its’ pretty simple…….WIN !

Pet Peeve. Remember when analyzing teams, wins against teams that ARE NOT Division-II teams DO NOT COUNT. They are basically scrimmages. The committee does not take Division-I, NAIA or Division-III wins into account. So, remember, schedule those cupcakes at your own peril……..

Below are 17 teams that I believe are vying for 8 spots in the Division-II West Regional. Six of these teams are in real good positions, but all of these teams realize they could be bounced from the rankings after the three respective conference tournaments in the GNAC, Pac-West and CCAA. The winners of those tournaments in two-and-a-half weeks get the AQ (automatic qualifier) into the NCAA Tournament. This means if you are sitting in the bottom half of the regional rankings and you are bounced from your conference tourney, you better hope there are not upsets in other conferences that could knock you out.

Alright let’s look at the 17 teams that are in the mix……

LOOKING GOOD

WESTERN OREGON WOLVES- The Wolves are ranked number one in the nation and I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be ranked number one in the West Region. They have been virtually flawless all season long. With D-II and D-II in region records of 19-1  and a season sweep of perennial power Seattle Pacific, their resume is as close to a clean sheet as you get. They lost to Central Washington and D-I Oregon, and that’s it. The Wolves are 8-1 versus +.500 teams, 11-2 on the road. They have a huge road-trip taking on Anchorage and Alaska this weekend. Barring an Alaskan meltdown, I don’t see them falling from their perch. Unless they really stumble, we could all be heading to Monmouth for the Men’s 2016 West Regional.

CHICO STATE- The Wildcats sit atop the CCAA by virtue of their big road win at UC San Diego last weekend. The Wildcats are 18-3 against D-II and D-II regional foes and have not lost to a sub .500 team all year. Chico is 7-3 against plus .500 teams and is 10-2 on the road. They play three of their final four at home, but two of those games are this weekend against Pomona and Humboldt. Pomona dealt Chico one of  their lone losses in early January. Chico has taken care of business, and they have put themselves in a good spot with two weeks to go.

UC SAN DIEGO- The Tritons let a golden chance to put a strangle-hold on the CCAA regular season title slip through their fingers last Friday, but that doesn’t mean this team isn’t as close to a lock for the regional as both Western Oregon and Chico. The Tritons have the most plus .500 D-II wins in the region along with Seattle-Pacific at NINE. They are 9-3 against good teams. They are tied with the Wolves and Cal Baptist with 19 D-II wins at 19-4. The Tritons are 10-1 on the road. The one loss on the schedule that is against a sub .500 team is against Monterey Bay, but the Otters don’t figure to be a sub .500 team when the season ends. In my opinion the Tritons have nothing to worry about. I think they are in, the only question is whether they will be wearing  their home or road jersey in the first round of the NCAA’s.

 SEATTLE PACIFIC- This perennial power is 17-6 against D-II and in-region opponents. There is not one bad loss on their resume. All their losses have come against quality opponents. The Falcons have played the most difficult schedule BY FAR of anyone in the region. 15 of their 24 games have come against teams over .500. In those games they are 9-6. They are also an impressive 10-3 on the road including a big win at Chico in November. I like teams, check that, I LOVE teams that schedule good teams and I really love teams that schedule good teams on the road. SPU is a no brainer in my opinion. They have put up good to great numbers against quality opponents. They deserve a return trip to the dance.

CAL BAPTIST- Speaking of difficult schedules, here are the Lancers. With a 19-6 record against D-II opponents and a 16-6 in region record Cal Baptist is a much deserving squad. Only SPU has played more plus .500 teams. the Lancers are 7-5 against plus .500 clubs. Cal Baptist has only played 10 road games and they are 5-5, although they will finish the season on the road against some of the bottom teams in the Pac West. They are looking for their third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Right now they are trying to not be in the bottom three in the final regional ranking, they don’t want to be a team edged out if upsets occur in the conference tournaments. With no bad losses, the Lancers should buy their dancing shoes.

AZUSA PACIFIC- Azusa Pacific is 16-6 against D-II opponents sweeping Cal Baptist and Dixie State on the year. They are also an impressive 8-4 against plus .500 teams.  They also went on the road and did some work going 8-3. Oddly they have two losses against teams  that could finish below .500 (Fresno Pacific & Dominican) and that might hurt their power rating. They have a tough home game against Concordia and then head to the Hawaiian islands for three games. This is a tough stretch. It will help their power rating but if they lose two or  three games down the stretch, the LOOKING GOOD label will turn into a bubble team real fast. Pivotal 10 days for Azusa Pacific.

BETTER THAN BUBBLE

CAL POLY POMONA- I really wanted to put Pomona in the LOOKING GOOD column but those losses a month ago to Cal State Los Angeles and Dominguez Hills just stand out like a thumb that was slammed into a car door. The Broncos are 16-5 against D-II opponents and 15-5 against D-II in region teams. When they play plus .500 teams they figure it out going 6-2. They have good wins against Chico and Azusa Pacific. They are also a glittering 9-3 on the road. If they beat Chico this Friday night on the road and sweep the season series from the Wildcats, book the Broncos reservations. I have always said, bad losses hurt worse than good wins feel good. Despite the strong resume, those two losses to teams with a combined 15 wins are still hurting Pomona. They look like a tournament team. They feel like a tournament team, but they still have some work to do.

ALASKA ANCHORAGE- The Seawolves have a strong case for a bid. While they only have 14 D-II wins, half of those victories have come against teams with a better than .500 record (7-4 versus plus .500) They are also an impressive 9-4 on the road. While we can’t take their travel considerations into account, that is an impressive number. They do have two bad losses against sub .500 teams (Dominguez Hills & Montana State-Billings) and if they can’t bolster that resume a bit before selection Sunday it could hurt them. They will have a chance to strengthen the ole resume hosting Western Oregon on Saturday and playing at Central Washington next week. Very good numbers but in a stacked West Region, they have some vulnerabilities.

BUBBLING OVER

HAWAII PACIFIC- Hawaii Pacific is in a tough spot. On one hand you look at their 17 wins and you consider them a shoo-in for the dance. But when you dig deeper you see a team that only has 13 D-II wins. In my opinion they haven’t done enough with a schedule that hasn’t been as tough as other teams in the Pacific West Conference. It really isn’t their fault that they were only scheduled to play Cal Baptist, Azusa Pacific and Dixie State once  this year. But, this crushes their strength of schedule (SOS.) They ended up beating Azusa and Cal Baptist but those are only two of their 4 wins against teams with plus .500 records. They are only 4-5 against good teams. They are 7-6 on the road. I think they need a strong finish to the regular season and deep run in the Pac West Tourney. They also need to hope there aren’t big upsets in the other conference tournaments. Definition of a bubble team…..

DIXIE STATE- After a pedestrian two months of hoops the Red Storm are charging hard, the question is whether it will be enough. Dixie State has won five in a row and all of sudden has put themselves in the conversation. They are 14-8 against D-II opponents and 5-6 against teams with plus .500 records. They can tout that they haven’t lost a game to a sub .500 team all year. Dixie is 6-5 on the road and with three of their final four on the road, they need to keep putting W’s on the board. They will also need a deep run in the conference tournament, but based on history, committees usually like teams that get hot late in the season. Bubbilicious….

CENTRAL WASHINGTON- The Wildcats from Ellensburg have some numbers that make us sit up and take notice, but they also have one that makes us question them as well. Central is 13-6 against D-II opponents but they are only 3-5 against teams with a better than .500 record (3-5.) But, they are the ONLY D-II team to beat Western Oregon. Because of that  and their strong 7-4 road record I believe they do deserve consideration. Like Hawaii Pacific and Dixie, Central needs a strong finish and a big time run in their conference tournament. I want to see more wins against teams with a better than .500 record. I am sure the committee wants to see that as well. Big League Chew Bubble Gum…..

HUMBOLDT STATE- Here is another team that on the surface looks like a true contender for an NCAA berth. But FIVE of their 17 wins are not against D-II opponents. This just kills their resume. Non D-II wins don’t count. So, the Jacks only have 12 D-II wins and  this doesn’t help their cause. They only have a 4-5 record against plus .500 D-II teams. What does help their cause is they have a win against UC San Diego on the road. They only have one bad loss at Dominguez Hills. If I want to see more from the Jacks, then I would guess so does the committee. They’ll have their chance as they travel to Chico this weekend.

BYU-HAWAII- The Seasiders have had several near misses, and that could cost them a spot in the tournament. A few weeks ago with a one-point lead at Cal Baptist all they had to do was either make a lay-up or dribble the clock out and get fouled. Instead they lost in excruciating fashion at the buzzer. BYU-Hawaii is 12-9 against D-II opponents and in-region. They are only 4-6 against plus .500 teams but they are 6-5 on the road. I watch them and they “look” like a tournament team. But, the resume is a little thin and they have some work to do to firmly state their case. An impressive late season run is imperative, and even with that it may not be enough. They need to eye-ball that automatic qualifier.

SAN FRANCISCO STATE- I put them here because they are 13-9 against D-II opponents but with a sub .500 record at 8-9 in the CCAA I don’t think they can get an at-large berth. They are an impressive 7-4 on the road which helps their power rating. They are 4-5 against teams with a plus .500 record. If the Gators want to  those alligator zapatos and hit the dance floor they probably need to beat UC San Diego this weekend in La Jolla. If not the resume is just too thin. Their best chance is the automatic qualifier.

SONOMA STATE- I am honestly a little shocked Sonoma State is not better than 13-10 against D-II teams. They are also only 8-9 in the CCAA. Sonoma beat Chico at home and then took them overtime. But, with a 3-7 record against plus .500 D-II teams, Sonoma needs to win the CCAA Tourney. they have three losses against sub .500 teams and that hurts their cause as well.

POINT LOMA- The Sea Lions are 11-10 against D-II opponents and are worth a mention but they are only 2-8 versus teams over .500. That will not cut it. They are an impressive 6-4 on the road, but again this is a team that will need an automatic qualifier to get in.

MONTEREY BAY- I know the Otters may only be 11-12 but hear me out on this one. The Otters started the season 0-5. I saw them in Monmouth at Thanksgiving and they looked like a rudderless team. No leadership. Saw them 10 days ago and they were a completely different group. They have wins against UC San Diego, at Pomona and against San Marcos. They were up 13 at Chico with 9 minutes to play and frittered that lead away. The Otters are dangerous. The three-headed monster of Evan Zeller, Alex Fertig and Ryan Nitz are legit and when they play together and unselfishly they are potent. I don’t like including teams under .500 on the bubble, but if one qualifies, this is it. They can’t get in without the automatic qualifier. The dangerous thing is they probably know this and are gearing up for the stretch run.

BITOBACA WEST REGION RANKING

  1. Western Oregon
  2. Chico State
  3. UC San Diego
  4. Seattle Pacific
  5. Azusa Pacific
  6. Cal Baptist
  7. Cal Poly Pomona
  8. Alaska Anchorage
  9. Central Washington
  10. Dixie State

NOTE I had Cal Baptist ranked higher than Azusa Pacific, but since Azusa swept Cal Baptist and they are ranked next to each other in the regional rankings Azusa gets the higher ranking. By my understanding the committee is required to put Azusa higher than Cal Baptist in cases like this based on head-to-head match-ups and the decided advantage Azusa has on Cal Baptist.

It should also be noted that Concordia from Irvine and Cal State San Marcos are ineligible for the post-season since they are new entrants into their respective conferences. They should both be eligible for post-season play next year.

What does my ranking mean ? Absolutely nothing ! Just my opinion. Besides, there is so much basketball still to be played these rankings will be in constant motion. One thing I do know…..there are nearly 20 teams that still have that dream of making a deep March run and regardless of how their seasons have gone so far, they can still make that dream a reality.

We will update this blog when the OFFICIAL rankings are released ! Enjoy March Madness one of our favorite times of the year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Baca is broadcasting Chico State men’s and women’s basketball for his 19th season

The magic returns to The Nett as Chico State sweeps Menlo

The sample size is small but the early returns point to an exciting and fruitful 2016 Chico State Wildcat baseball season. Behind two walk-off wins and improbable comeback from six runs down the Wildcats served notice that the 2015 season appears to be an aberration, a mere blip on the screen in their storied and historic run.

After Friday’s 1-0 walk-off win over a very good Menlo College squad the Wildcats were pushed to the limit on Saturday in the first game of a double-header. Menlo jumped on the Cats early and often in the first game scoring two runs in the first and 5 more in the second. Chico found themselves down 7-1 in the 2nd. By the fifth it was 9-3, and the deficit seemed insurmountable in the 7th after Cal Berkeley transfer Lucas Erceg slugged a home run to right giving Menlo a 10-4 lead in the 7th.

With hope waning Chico State summed up some old Nettleton Stadium magic. The Cats would score two in the 7th and then four runs with two outs in the 8th highlighted by a Josh Falco bases clearing double to tie the game at 10. The game almost slipped away in the top of the 9th after a one out error allowed the Oaks to grab an 11-10 lead. Chico had the tying run on third with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the 9th, only to have Erceg air-mail a 1-2 pitch to the back-stop allowing the tying run to score.

In the bottom of the 10th, after a single and two walks, the Wildcats Dillon Kelley would hit a ground ball in the hole, Menlo got the force at second but the return throw to first was late setting off a wild celebration and improbable 12-11 win.


The Chico State Wildcats would win the night-cap 8-1 finishing off a fantastic weekend for the Wildcats.

In 2015 the Wildcats finished under .500 for the first time in 21 years. The autopsy from the disappointing season revealed that the Wildcats were lacking some key components that leads to success between the lines.

First, the Cats had virtually an entire roster that under-achieved from their 2014 West Region Championship. Second, the club lacked the necessary depth to withstand pro-longed slumps from key players. And lastly, the Wildcats needed to canvass their squad with players that mimicked the teams of Wildcats’ past. Chico State baseball isn’t about playing perfect baseball. Wildcat baseball is about playing the game with a laser like focus and belief that you will somehow find a way if you “GRIND” it out. Grinders……..Chico State had lost that identifier in the 2015 season. On the recruiting trail, the Cats needed to find a bunch of players that would throw caution to the wind and play the game with a joy, fervor, passion and belief that made us all believers again.

As I said, it’s the smallest of sample sizes. It’s a long season, there will be highs and invariably there will be lows, but when a group of players are all pulling in the same direction and play with passion and selflessness good things happen. This weekend showed the Wildcat faithful that is all is well in Wildcat Land. They showed us……

it’s OK to believe again.

*PHOTO AND VIDEO COURTESY OF CHICO STATE ATHLETICS AT CHICOWILDCATS.COM