Introducing the Fantasy HORSE Invitational

NOTE: If you came here from Mike Miller's great Beyond the Arc blog at, we've moved on to later rounds in the tournament. Click here to find out about the latest round.

Since we don't have any games tonight, let's try something a little different.

Or the last few weeks, I've been kicking around the idea of a fantasy H-O-R-S-E tournament with some of the top scorers in college basketball. I finally had enough time today to sit down and figure it all out, and I've come up with a field of eight players.

They will face off in a mano-a-mano, knockout tournament at the Palestra on one of those sunny afternoons that fills the arena with light and energy.

Okay, that part's just in our imaginations. In reality, the tournament will be decided by your votes. Each day, I'll post a new matchup until we reach the championship game, which should be on Monday.

Once we get there, I'll hold the final poll open until the start of my liveblog of the Temple-St. Joe's game at the Palestra on Thursday the 12th.


Fantasy HORSE Invitational Game 1

Can you handle it? I think so. Tell your friends, fellow bloggers and everyone else you know to join in, because it should be a lot of fun.

As for how the field was assembled, the participants and seedings are based on a stat that's gotten increased currency in college basketball this season, True Shooting Percentage.

You might remember that in my Crunchy Numbers postas last season, I regularly referred to Effective Field Goal Percentage, which gives extra weight to three-pointers. True Shooting adds free throws into the mix. Here's the formula:

Pts / (2 * (FGA + (.44 * FTA)))

I find it notable that there isn't a direct reference to three-pointers in the formula, but I take the number-crunchers' word for it that this stat is worth using.

Now for the part that really matters. Here are the competitors:

1. Jodie Meeks, Kentucky (66.6 TS% / 25.5 PPG)

We all know about his exploits against Tennessee earlier this season, but he's been scoring in buckets all season. Meeks has the best combination of TS% and PPG in all of Division I.

2. Ben Woodside, North Dakota State (62.5 TS% / 23.7 PPG)

One of only two players to win Kyle Whelliston's Mid-Majority Baller of the Week twice this season.

3. Stephen Curry, Davidson (61.7 TS% / 28.9 PPG)

Need I explain why?

4. Jermaine Taylor, Central Florida (61.2 TS% / 23.9 PPG)

Penn fans know about the 34 points he scored against the Quakers, but that wasn't Taylor's best performance of the year. The Golden Knights probably won't make the NCAA Tournament, but NBA scouts are paying serious attention.

5. Eric Maynor, Virginia Commonwealth (60.7 TS% / 23.2 PPG)

You know plenty about him already.

6. Dionte Christmas, Temple (59.0 TS% / 20.5 ppg)

Your pick as the Big 5's best player represents the city on principle and on merit (see below).

7. David Holston, Chicago State (58.7 TS% / 26.4 PPG)

The third-best scorer in Division I plays for an independent. But because of that, his team's schedule this season includes Taylor's Central Florida and a few other teams with big-time scorers.

8. Lester Hudson, Tennessee-Martin (58.3 TS% / 27.3 PPG)

The other two-time MMBOW has five double-doubles and has not scored fewer than 20 points in any game this season.

Who didn't make the cut?

First of all, St. Mary's star Patty Mills would have been in, but he had to withdraw when he injured his wrist last week.

As for healthy players, here are a few that came up short: Arizona State's James Harden, VMI's Chavis Holmes, Wake Forest's Jeff Teague, Penn State's Talor Battle and Rhode Island's Jimmy Baron.

You might wonder why Christmas made the field when Harden, Holmes and Teague all have higher points per game averages. The answer is in two parts.

The first is that Christmas has a legitimate statistical argument to be in, because his True Shooting Percentage is higher than those of Holston and Hudson. The second is that it's my tournament and I wanted a local player in it.

Battle has a True Shooting Percentage of 59.7%, which put him within range of the hometown player slot. But a 19.0 points per game average left him just short.

My original concept for this thing included Baron because of his ability to hit threes at the Ryan Center from the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border. But he's only averaging 16.4 points per game this season, which isn't enough.

So we start tonight with an all-Southern showdown between Jodie Meeks and Lester Hudson. The ball racks are on the floor, the Palestra's corners are almost full and the shot clock is ready to start.

Let's get it on.

In addition to the HORSE tournament, this being Tuesday it's time for our statistical roundup. This week's edition features something I never thought I'd see in the table - and it's not the fact that four of the City Six teams have 12-8 records.

In honor of Penn State's win over Michigan State, and because the Nittany Lions have played as many Big 5 teams as Drexel has this season, I've decided to add PSU to the list. There's a part of me that still can't quite believe I'm doing it, but there are some serious discussions going on out there about whether the Lions will make the NCAA Tournament.

If Penn State blows it from here, you Lions fans can blame me for jinxing your team and demand that I take them out of the table. Until then, let's see how they stack up.

Of note, this week's RPI data comes from, which has a neat feature tracking the biggest jumps and drops in the rankings each day. Also, the numbers in parentheses are last week's rankings, and you'll see those updated each week for the rest of the season.

Finally, speaking of the City Six, congratulations to St. Joe's for winning the Best Fans poll. The Hawks got 379 out of 1079 votes cast.

Big 5
BB State
128 (138)
99 (94)
125 (135)
117 (125)
125 (94)
La Salle
106 (115)
105 (107)
105 (107)
101 (103)
102 (137)
225 (232)
218 (229)
237 (243)
222 (223)
146 (147)
St. Joseph's
91 (98)
67 (66)
87 (92)
80 (80)
66 (95)
45 (42)
49 (49)
61 (55)
45 (48)
12 (15)
16 (26)
12 (26)
17 (28)
20 (29)
61 (86)
Penn State