Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Is UCLA still an elite basketball program? A look at the last 25 years

The question ESPN posed at halftime of our struggle vs UNLV last night prompted me to explore how we stack up with the other significant basketball programs in the country.  Obviously, historically we are dominant with our 11 championships.  However, what about recently?  We'll look at the last 25 years (a round number I picked so that I can include our one championship in that time) and we'll consider how many of the following categories each school has won from 1991-2015: 1) National championships, 2) Final Four appearances, 3) NCAA Tournament Appearances, 4) regular season conference championships (not conf tourney championships) and 5) 1st team All-Americans.  I included all schools that had won a championship in the last 25 years as well as other historically important programs and ranked the top 10 in order of "elite-ness".

Based on these findings, UCLA is certainly a top 10 school, but we're nowhere close to the top 5.  We needed to make the Final Four another 3-4 times and have won it all at least 2 more times to make a claim to equality with Duke, UNC or UK.



25 Year Elite-ness Rankings

1) Duke
National championships: 5 (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015)
Final Fours: 8
Tournament Appearances: 24
Conference Championships: 11
1st Team All-Americans: 14

2) North Carolina
National championships: 3 (1993, 2005, 2009)
Final Fours: 9
Tournament Appearances: 22
Conference Championships: 9
1st Team All-Americans: 6

3) Kentucky
National championships: 3 (1996, 1998, 2012)
Final Fours: 8
Tournament Appearances: 22
Conference Championships: 10
1st Team All-Americans: 6

4) Connecticut
National championships: 4 (1999, 2004, 2011, 2014)
Final Fours: 5
Tournament Appearances: 18
Conference Championships: 9
1st Team All-Americans: 6

5) Kansas
National championships: 1 (2008)
Final Fours: 6
Tournament Appearances: 25
Conference Championships: 20
1st Team All-Americans: 9

6) Michigan State
National championships: 1 (2000)
Final Fours: 7
Tournament Appearances: 22
Conference Championships: 7
1st Team All-Americans: 3

7) Florida
National championships: 2 (2006, 2007)
Final Fours: 5
Tournament Appearances: 16
Conference Championships: 6
1st Team All-Americans: 0

8) Arizona
National championships: 1 (1997)
Final Fours: 3
Tournament Appearances: 23
Conference Championships: 10
1st Team All-Americans: 5

9) UCLA
National Championships: 1 (1995)
Final Fours: 4
Tournament Appearances: 21
Conference Championships: 8
1st Team All-Americans: 3

10) Louisville (Tied)
National championships: 1 (2013)
Final Fours: 3
Tournament Appearances: 20
Conference Championships: 6
1st Team All-Americans: 2

10) Syracuse (Tied)
National championships: 1 (2003)
Final Fours: 3
Tournament Appearances: 19
Conference Championships: 5
1st Team All-Americans: 4


Comments:

- Duke has clearly been the best in college basketball in the last 25 years, with an umatched 5 titles and 14 All-Americans along the way.   The only other school with more than 6 All-Americans was Kansas, with 9.

- UNC and UK have clearly separated themselves as the 2nd tier and though UConn has won 1 more title than them, the Huskies missed the NCAA tournament 7 of the 25 times.  They also only made the Final Four 5 times, even though they've won 4.

-  Kansas rounds out the top 5 because of its dominance in its conference - 20 titles dwarfs runner-up Duke's 11.  Also, they are the only team here to never miss the NCAA tourney in the last 25 years.  Unlike the Huskies, they've underwhelmed with only 1 title in 6 visits to the Final Four.

- I have Mich St edging out Florida for #6 even with 1 less national title, because they've only missed the NCAAs 3 times, while UF missed it 9 times.  Izzo has also brought his team to the Final Four an amazing 7 times.

- Arizona's conference titles helps it edge out UCLA, Louisville and Syracuse for the 8th spot.


OTHERS:

Ohio State
National championships: 0
Final Fours: 3
Tournament Appearances: 15
Conference Championships: 9
1st Team All-Americans: 6

Maryland
National championships: 1 (2002)
Final Fours: 2
Tournament Appearances: 15
Conference Championships: 3
1st Team All-Americans: 2

Arkansas
National championships: 1 (1994)
Final Fours: 2
Tournament Appearances: 14
Conference Championships: 3
1st Team All-Americans: 0

Wisconsin
National championships: 0
Final Fours: 3
Tournament Appearances: 19
Conference Championships: 4
1st Team All-Americans: 2

Indiana
National championships: 0
Final Fours: 2
Tournament Appearances: 19
Conference Championships: 4
1st Team All-Americans: 3

Georgetown
National championships: 0
Final Fours: 1
Tournament Appearances: 15
Conference Championships: 6
1st Team All-Americans: 3

Michigan
National championships: 0
Final Fours: 3
Tournament Appearances: 11
Conference Championships: 2
1st Team All-Americans: 3

Sunday, October 11, 2015

US Soccer v Mexico since 2000




Pre-2000 History:

The first ever US-Mexico meeting was on May 24, 1932 in a WC Qualifier in Rome, won by the US 4-2.  In the next 23 games from 1937 to 1979, the US didn't win a single game against them, losing 20 matches and drawing the other 3.  In the 1980s, the US only played them 3 times, losing twice, but did finally break through with a 2-1 win on Nov 23, 1980 in a WC Qualifier.

The rivalry then truly began in the 1990s, when the two countries met 15 times.  In this decade, the US was finally respectable, winning 4, drawing 5, and losing 6.  However, they were win-less in the last 7 match-ups leading up to 2000.

With all that as context, here are the games since 2000:


On US Soil:

June 11, 2000
US 3 - Mexico 0
US Goalscorers: Brian McBride, Frankie Hejduk, Ante Razov
US Cup, East Rutherford, NJ

October 25, 2000
US 2 - Mexico 0
US Goalscorers: Landon Donovan, Josh Wolff
Friendly, Los Angeles, CA

February 28, 2001
US 2 - Mexico 0
US Goalscorers: Josh Wolff, Earnie Stewart
WC Qualifier, Columbus, OH

April 3, 2002
US 1 - Mexico 0
US Goalscorer: Clint Mathis
Friendly, Denver, CO

May 8, 2003
US 0 - Mexico 0
Friendly, Houston, TX

April 28, 2004
US 1 - Mexico 0
US Goalscorer: Eddie Pope
Friendly, Dallas, TX

September 3, 2005
US 2 - Mexico 0
US Goalscorers: Steve Ralston, DaMarcus Beasley
WC Qualifier, Columbus, OH

February 7, 2007
US 2 - Mexico 0
US Goalscorers: Jimmy Conrad, Landon Donovan
Friendly, Glendale, AZ

June 24, 2007
US 2 - Mexico 1
US Goalscorers: Landon Donovan, Benny Feilhaber
Gold Cup Final, Chicago, IL

February 6, 2008
US 2 - Mexico 2
US Goalscorers: Oguchi Onyewu, Jozy Altidore
Friendly, Houston, TX

February 11, 2009
US 2 - Mexico 0
US Goalscorer: Michael Bradley (x2)
WC Qualifier, Columbus, OH

July 26, 2009
US 0 - Mexico 5
Gold Cup Final, East Rutherford, NJ

June 25, 2011
US 2 - Mexico 4
US Goalscorers: Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan
Gold Cup Final, Pasadena, CA

August 10, 2011
US 1 - Mexico 1
US Goalscorer: Robbie Rogers
Friendly, Philadelphia, PA

September 10, 2013
US 2 - Mexico 0
US Goalscorers: Eddie Johnson, Landon Donovan
WC Qualifier, Columbus, OH

April 2, 2014
US 2 - Mexico 2
US Goalscorers: Michael Bradley, Chris Wondolowski
Friendly, Glendale, AZ

April 15, 2015
US 2 - Mexico 0
US Goalscorers: Jordan Morris, Juan Agudelo
Friendly, San Antonio, TX

October 10, 2015
US 2 - Mexico 3
US Goalscorers: Geoff Cameron, Bobby Wood
Concacaf Cup, Pasadena, CA
 

In Mexico (all games at Azteca Stadium, Mexico City):

July 1, 2001
US 0 - Mexico 1
WC Qualifier

March 27, 2005
US 1 - Mexico 2
US Goalscorer: Eddie Lewis
WC Qualifier

August 12, 2009
US 1 - Mexico 2
US Goalscorer: Charlie Davies
WC Qualifier

August 15, 2012
US 1 - Mexico 0
US Goalscorer: Michael Orozco
Friendly

March 26, 2013
US 0 - Mexico 0
WC Qualifier


At the World Cup:

June 17, 2002
US 2 - Mexico 0
US Goalscorers: Brian McBride, Landon Donovan
WC Quarterfinal, Daejon, South Korea


So, our overall record since 2000:

US soil: 11 wins, 4 draws, 3 losses
Azteca: 1 win, 1 draw, 3 losses
World Cup: 1 win

(World Cup Qualifiers: 4 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses)

Overall: 13 wins, 5 draws, 6 losses


Observations:


- Donovan is our leading scoring vs Mexico since 2000 with 6 goals.  Bradley has scored 4.  Oddly, Dempsey is the 2nd leading scorer in our history but he has never scored against Mexico.

- Outside of McBride and Donovan's World Cup goals, the biggest goal may be Benny Feilhaber's game-winning wonderstrike in the 2007 Gold Cup Final, which secured our 2009 Confed Cup spot.

- Our victory in the 2012 game made history, because it was the first win the US has had on Mexico soil in 25 tries.  We subsequently had a draw there a year later for only the 2nd time in history.

- Our 3 losses on US soil since 2000 are the Gold Cup finals of 2009 and 2011 and the Confederations Cup Playoff 2015.  The 2009 loss is accompanied with an asterisk - we sent our C team because our A team just got finished beating Spain and pushing Brazil to the brink in the Confederations Cup.  Our 2011 loss started off promising - a 2-0 lead - that fizzled with 4 straight unanswered Mexico goals (no thanks to BORNSTEIN!) and ended Bob Bradley's tenure as US coach.  The 2015 loss was the most crushing of all, because we sent our A-team, still played defense nearly the entire 120 minutes, and showed little progress since Klinsmann took over after our 2011 loss.

- Klinsmann's record vs Mexico is 3 wins, 3 draws, and 1 loss, including Mexico's first ever loss to us at Azteca.

- Of our 13 wins since 2000, we have beat Mexico by the scoreline of dos a cero (2-0) 8 times ( in 2000, 2001, 2002 at the WC, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2015).  (In our history, we've only beat Mexico 2-0 one other time: July 5, 1991 in a Gold Cup semi).  In the 2013 WC qualifier, Dempsey actually shanked a PK in stoppage time on purpose to preserve the dos a cero!

Monday, July 27, 2015

2018 Russia WC US Roster Prediction #2

1 year into this cycle and fresh off the disappointing Gold Cup, Klinsmann's depth chart has become a bit clearer.  See prediction #1 from last summer to see how things have changed.

Goalkeepers:

Brad Guzan, William Yarbrough, Bill Hamid
(In the mix: Tim Howard, Cody Cropper, Zach Steffen)

Even with Howard coming back into the fold in September, I'm guessing Guzan will be entrenched as the #1 for this cycle.  Since Howard will be 39 years old come Russia '18, I think he will miss out as Klinsmann opts for younger backup options.  Yarbrough emerged this year and Hamid is probably the best MLS offering.  Cody Cropper and Zach Steffan are the new young guns for future cycles with outside chances to make the plane.


Center Backs:
John Brooks, Ventura Alvarado, Omar Gonzalez, Cameron Carter-Vickers
(In the mix: Michael Orozco, Tim Ream, Matt Besler, Will Packwood, Shane O'Neill, Matt Miazga)

It seems that Brooks, Alvarado and Omar are pretty good bets to make the 2018 team.  17 year old Tottenham prospect, Carter-Vickers, looks to be the stud of the future and has a chance in 2018 if Klins chooses to go young.  Ream's player of the year performances at Bolton have finally captured Klinsmann's attention but can Ream hold it for 3 more years?  Juergen has always favored Orozco as well and Besler might just be temporarily in the doghouse for being out of shape in January camp.  O'Neill, Packwood and Miazga were all part of U-20 or U-23 competitions this summer.


Outside Backs:
Timothy Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Brek Shea, Greg Garza
(In the mix: Kellyn Acosta, Oscar Sorto)

This is thinnest group we have in terms of depth right now.  I just threw in Acosta and Sorto's names to fill in the blanks.  Klinsmann would love to use Fabian and Yedlin in the midfield more, but will need at least one of them to fill the holes in the back.  Brek can be used in the midfield as well, which is where I prefer him.


Central Midfielders:
Michael Bradley, Mix Diskerud, Gedion Zelalem, Danny Williams
(In the mix: Joe Corona, Alfredo Morales, Luis Gil, Emerson Hyndman, Geoff Cameron, Will Trapp, Perry Kitchen)

Bradley will be captain and play every minute of the 2018 WC.  Danny or Mix will be in contention for that 2nd central spot behind Bradley.  Corona and Morales are the last two out, although who knows how Klinsmann might use Geoff Cameron then (CB? RB? Dmid?).  Zelalem matures just enough for Klinsmann to take a flier on the budding star.  Hyndman is also a future US starter that might be a squad player in 3 years.


Outside Midfielders:
Alejandro Bedoya, Gyasi Zardes, DeAndre Yedlin, Julian Green
(In the mix: Miguel Ibarra, Joe Gyau, Paul Arriola)

Bedoya will be the veteran of this bunch.  Zardes is really a striker, but Klinsmann needs him outside for now.  Yedlin's career in England is still out for deliberation but the natural RB is too fast to ignore.  For all the hype and letdown so far about Green, I'm betting he turns it around in time for 2018.  If Green doesn't, Gyau is in.


Forwards:
Jozy Altidore, Aron Johannsson, Jordan Morris, Bobby Wood
(In the mix: Juan Agudelo, Terrence Boyd, Clint Dempsey, Rubio Rubin)

Jozy will be there, unless his departure after the GC group stage is an omen of things to come.  Johannsson will look to make an impact after last WC's injury-hampered showing.  Who knows if Morris and Wood will capitalize on their good performances this year?  Dempsey will be 35 and may be the all-time US goal-scorer by 2018, but Klinsmann has shown ruthlessness when cutting aging veterans off the team (see Bocanegra, Donovan).


2018 Starting Lineup:
-------------Jozy--Aron----------
Zardes-------Bradley------Yedlin
-------------Diskerud------------
Johnson-Omar-Brooks-Chandler
-------------Guzan--------------