If there is one thing I have learned during my years on this planet, its that people enjoy brackets. Specifically, they like to fill brackets out and voice their opinions on their expectations for said brackets ad nauseum via any vehicle available, whether it be around the water cooler, via notes passed in the back of a lecture on quantum mechanics or, most recently, in the vast abyss known as social media.
That is a little insight into the genesis of the thought experiment we will be venturing on together over the next month. Sure, we can watch all the Big East basketball we want via our televisions, but wouldn't life be grand if the conference decided to spice things up? What if each team had to select a player from their squad to represent it in a one-on-one tournament, with the winner set to win all the Stanley nickels it could possibly imagine? That's what we here at Big East Coast Bias, along with you, yes you, will find out.
First, let's set some ground rules. Each imaginary contest will follow these rules
1. Games are to 11
2. Scoring is by ones and twos (one point for a basket inside the arc, two for outside)
3. Winner keeps possession, meaning when you score, you get the ball back.
Feel free to list your complaints or favored way to play pickup one-on-one in the comments.
Now that we have the basic outlining of the rules, the field must first be constructed. Determining the number of participants was easy. Since my colleagues and I are no mathematical geniuses, 16 seemed like the right number. The makeup would be one player from each school and then six write in contenders. We voted as a staff to determine each competitor. Below are the results of said voting.
Three different players received votes to be the Butler representative but none more than Roosevelt Jones, who picked up nine. Also chiming in were Kellen Dunham (six) and Kelan Martin (five). Jones' creative use of his wide base and cunning with the ball would make him a fantastic one-on-one player.
Figuring out Creighton's rep was easy business for the most part. Maurice Watson who creates points left and right and forward and backward and all over snapped up 10 votes, with the lone outlier vote going to Isaiah Zierden. The only thing that could hurt Watson is that fact that without the help of teammates, all his fancy passing will become extremely useless, unless he hopes to clone himself mid-game and devastate opponents a la Marvel's Multiple Man.
Despite a late surge from the #VoteMykeHenry camp, Billy Garrett earned DePaul's spot with nine votes. The Blue Demons' point man certainly has the name recognition, as he is undoubtedly the most recognizable DePaul basketball player to anyone outside the Big East, and probably to many within our little echo chamber.
One of three unanimous picks, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera collected 11 votes and will be representing the Hoyas, just as he has for the last 65 years (or so it seems). While his 6-foot-3 stature may not be ideal against some of the bigger guys that will make the cut, DSR's tenacious effort on defense would be a real hindrance for players as they continue to try to find ways to score beyond just chucking up jumpers.
Aside from one maniac who voted for JaJuan Johnson, everyone likes Henry Ellenson, who got 10 votes. The first non-"big man" to get the nod, Ellenson will have to work on his ball-handling, but he has the size and touch around the basket to be a threat to go deep into February? OK, not the same buzz as March, but you know what I'm getting at.
Kris Dunn. Next
The third unanimous selection, Isaiah Whitehead was an easy choice for this one. The Big East's leader in usage percentage (30.6 percent) is already well versed in playing with the ball in his hands for long periods of time. Although it might seem impossible, Whitehead could very well find a way to push his usage percentage over 100 percent in this tournament.
It may not come as a surprise but the only team in the Big East without a conference win was also the only team to have no surefire pick. Durand Johnson received six votes to get the nod but Federico Mussini (two), Christian Jones, Yankuba Sima and Ron Mvouika all got at least one vote as well.
The voting for the top Wildcat was less contentious than might be expected. Josh Hart grabbed 10 votes to earn the spot. His blend of athleticism, deep shooting and length makes him a dangerous one-on-one player. One possession might be a drive to the hoop, the next could be a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Good luck guessing which one's coming.
While St. John's didn't have a clear candidate primarily due to its lack of success, Xavier's depth made it difficult to sift through the roster and point to a No. 1 pick. Trevon Bluiett got the nod with eight votes, but Myles Davis and Edmond Sumner (two) were given respect, as were Jalen Reynolds and James Farr in the write-in portion. Bluiett is a great choice, as he matches up well with just about anyone that will get thrown his way.
Now that we have the first 10, we must pick out the six at-large bids. To do this, each staff member voted for six write-in participants. Adding those votes along with any votes for a player to be the official rep separated those that were random picks (Hello, Haanif Cheatham) and actual contenders. The six at-large selections were Kellen Dunham (six total votes), Ryan Arcidiacono (six total votes), Ben Bentil (six total votes), Kelan Martin (five total votes), Edmond Sumner (five total votes) and Myke Henry (four total votes).
In selecting Henry, we got to test out the tie-breaker protocol for selection. Since Henry had the same number of votes as Myles Davis, we had to come up with a deciding factor. Player efficiency rating, which like any stat suffers some shortcomings, was chosen as the basis as it seemed like a good enough amalgamation of a player's overall ability. Henry's 22.0 outranked Davis' 17.1.
So, we have our 16. Now, let's push them together and play things out!. Woah, not so fast my friend (hopefully you read that in you best Lee Corso impression). To finalize this bracket, we must seed the competitors and set the matchups. To do this, we ranked each player by numbers of votes received and then used PER to break ties. Below you can find a full copy of the bracket to see where everyone fell into place.
Well there you have it folks. The field of 16 is set. Over the next few weeks we will be putting out individual posts discussing each matchup and, using the power of democracy, we will vote on who would win in each fantastical fictional showdown until we crown a winner. So print this out, fill it out, share it with your friends and yell it at strangers on the Internet.