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The Week That Was College Basketball: January 26, 2009

spartycbbThe semi-pro ranks of basketball has been hoppin’ with action lately. Before we give you a report on the happenings throughout the conferences and around the country from the previous week, let’s look at where we are in the season.

A dominant team has yet to take control of that #1 spot and all of the undefeateds have been defeated. Using this season’s trends as evidence, I’d make the prediction that different teams will bounce in and out of that spot for the next month and a half until tourney time. Let me repeat something; we’re only about a month and a half away from conference tournaments, people. The season is rapidly moving along and Selection Sunday is just around the corner. Let’s observe where we’ve been and then talk about where we are.

Where we’ve been:
Most teams have completed their inter-conference schedules and are in the midst of fighting it out in the intra-conference portion…or in Dook’s case, trying to hug it out; you know, cause they’re ghey. Anywho, the polls have shown major movement; lookie here:

ap-hoops-poll-comp-1-19-09

As you can see, there’s been some major re-shuffleage going on all season so far with several teams having completely dropped from the rankings; Tennessee being the highest-ranked of those at #14 in the preseason.

Where we are:
Big EastSparty: As usual, Patphish is busy working at his real job, so I am forced to give you the update on the Big East. This is the best conference in the country, regardless of what one of what some guy that is in a corner might tell you. 7 teams are in the Top 25, and the possibility of 8 teams could make the tourney. It doesn’t matter that they are the biggest conference in basketball, the fact remains that they have the most difficult conference to get through during the year, topped off by the hardest conference tourney to win.

This past week week continued to see the rise of UConn and Louisville. The Huskies are now 10-1 against ranked teams, with their lone loss coming against #12 ranked Georgetown. UConn ended the longest home winning streak in the Big East this past weekend, by beating down Notre Dame at the Edmund P. Joyce Center.

Since starting the season 8-3, the Cardinals have won 7 in a row, including 4 in a row against ranked opponents with their latest casualty the suddenly struggling Syracuse Orange. The announcers kept making a point to say that Louisville had never won before in the Carrier Dome. I feel the need to see how often they played there. Louisville only joined the Big East a couple years ago, and the ‘Cuse was never known for a tough non-conference schedule.

The team that is actually in first place in the Big East is Marquette. The Golden Eagles have beat up on the bottom of the Big East so far, but travel to wounded Notre Dame, and host Georgtown this week.

ACCGITC: We all know that the ACC is the best conference. At least they are if you check the RPI or Power Rankings. There are 5 teams in the Big East that are terrible, there is only one like that in the ACC. Carolina is still the best team in College Basketball and they should eventually move their way back up to #1. Wake has proven to be better than almost everyone expected as Jeff Teague is proving that he is a top 5 point guard in the country. Duke has been playing very well, but critics (including me) are skeptical of the size down low and their defensive capabilities in general. They still seem to be relying on the jump shot too much. If the shots fall (like they all did against Maryland) they win, if not? I can’t wait. Clemson has also proven that they are no fraud. They have to go on the road to VaTech this week which is never fun. Speaking of VaTech, why did people doubt me when I said they’d bounce back? Back to back road wins at Wake and Miami? That’s more like it. Miami has been chugging along but come to play at UMD on Saturday Night this week. That’s a big game for both teams. FSU has been playing well and has only one game this week; UNC. That should be fun. Boston College has bounced back from the Harvard debacle to win two straight. Tyrese Rice and his gang charge into Comcast tomorrow night where I will be waiting. NC State is still dangerous and should never be counted out of a game. The same can be said for Georgia Tech despite the fact that they lose all those close games. Virginia is bad.

Obviously Maryland lost to Duke by a lot this weekend (Sparty Note: Understatement of the Year). But here’s the thing; if Duke thought that it was a good plan to bomb threes and play starters in the second half of that game, they were wrong. When they visit UMD later this year, it won’t be pretty for them and all they did was harm by running up the score. (Trey Note: Duke by only 20 next time.) In basketball there is no difference between a 40 point win and a 20 point win when the season ends. That said, that game was weird. Duke made every shot, got every bounce, got every call, and better have purchased lottery tickets afterwards. These games happen when one team if really on and the other is really off. I will say this though; Hey, refs! If the game is out of reach and you want to start relaxing the calls, don’t screw up so bad so many times that it becomes the only thing that the announcers have to talk about. Maryland will rise again, they always pull the upsets. Duke just hopes it’s not them.

Big 10Sparty: So the Spartans had a midweek slipup against Northwestern, whoops. They still remain on top of the Big Ten standings, following a tough win at OSU. Sparty trailed by 13 at one point, but the emergence of Durrell Summers (26pts, 6-9 from beyond the arc) kept them in the game until Kalin Lucas and . Raymar Morgan was non-existent this past week, as he continues to battle and upper respitory virus.

The sneaky good team in the Big 10 is Illinois. The young Illini team is quietly moving up the Top 25 rankings. Bruce Weber is molding this team nicely, and could play spoiler in March.

What is going on in Wisconsin?  The Badgers have lost 4 straight in conference for the first time since 1997.  If Bo Ryan doesn’t right the ship quick, the Badgers may find themselves missing the NIT as well.

Remember when Purdue dropped their first 2 games in conference? Well here come the Boilermakers who have ripped off 4 straight, including a quality road win at Minnesota. The heavy expectations on Purdue have passed, and now they can focus on trying to steal the Big 1o title from Michigan State.

Big XIITrey: The Big 12 is definitly the most top heavy league in the country. Oklahoma continued their current win streak by taking out Baylor (in a very convincing fashion) and Nebraksa. They look to continue this streak tonight in the Bedlam Series against Oklahoma State. Kansas, in a simialr fashion has had a strong start to conference play, that’s the good news. The bad news? Their conference opponents have been 4 of the 5 worst teams in conference.

You’ve also got Tejas, Mizzou, and Bayla’ sitting strong for tourney bids. But as any college basketball fan will tell you. Febuary is that months where teams like Bayla’ or Mizzou can quickly punch their tickets to the NIT, and schools like Texas A&M and Oklahoma State can find their way into the Big Dance.

Overall: Still looking like a 5 bid league…I’m OUTTA here.

PAC 10 – How bad are things out in the PAC 10? An Oregon State player is very likely going to win player of the week. The last Beaver to win? Chris Stephens back in 2005.  Google that name, and the first entry is for the character Jon Corbett played on Northern Exposure (really funny show).  Anyway, back to the Oregeon State player. His name is Roeland Schaftenaar.   The 6’11 Center led the beavers to a 2-0 week with wins over Stanford and and Cal (avg 20pts and 5 assists).

Washington also went 2-0 last week with big wins over USC and UCLA and are now in first place in the PAC 10.  These two wins will finally put them in the Top 25. Yes, the team in first place out west is not even in the Top 25, yet.

UCLA has now split their last four games and continues to struggle offensively, going through extended stretches of offensive futility, as shown in their loss to Washington.

It is looking more and more likely that the PAC 10 will have zero impact during at the Dance.

SEC Miz’s take: The SEC continues to not help its cause by losing two more non-conference games this past weekend: Tennessee lost to Memphis and LSU lost to Xavier, both games at the respecive SEC team’s house. Florida jumped up into the polls last week, thus negating the answer to the trivia question of “Which conference is the only major conference with no ranked teams.” The Gators justified their ranking by promptly losing to South Cackalacky.(Trey Note: On a botched play, then turned and blew Vandy out of the gym…we rule!)

The NCAA tournament bidding situation is not looking so solid for the SEC with only Tennessee (19th), Florida (32nd), and Kentucky (48th) having an RPI in the top 50.

Additionally, there was some significant news around the conference involving individual players. First, Kentucky’s Ramon Harris collapsed on his way into the locker room at halftime of the Wildcats’ game at Alabama this past Saturday. He’s doing fine but was held out of practice Sunday and will undergo some further testing today to try to determine the status of his health. And, second, Alabama’s Ronald Steele has decided to call it a career…with Alabama. He was a very dynamic and exciting player to watch for Bammer and even tested the draft waters after last season but decided to return to school when the projections didn’t solidify him as a first round pick. He had previously missed significant time due to knee problems and the resulting surgeries and was suffering from a self-described minor case of plantar fasciitis. Steele’s doesn’t give up much in the way of his reasoning for leaving:

I’m not going to get into details. That’s not me. It’s something I’ve just been praying about and talking about with my family. I don’t really know the exact point I made (the decision), but this is the best for me now.

GITC’s Mid-Major Power Poll:
1. Xavier (Atlantic 10) – (17-2) The classic team that is a mid-major but this season it’s hard to tell. They play ball like a power conference team and they can beat the best of them. Their only losses are to Duke and Butler and they just beat LSU in an out of conference game. Derrick Brown is their star but they are pretty rounded.
2. Butler (Horizon) – (18-1) Butler is in great shape out of the gate after only suffering one loss to Ohio State. With three guys (Matt Howard, Shelvin Mack, and Gordon Hayward) averaging more than 12 points a game, they are hard to stop. Even though they took down Xavier, I rank them lower because of recent play and their loss being not as strong.
3. Memphis (Conference USA) – (16-3) Memphis is strong once again and hasn’t backed down against weaker teams. Their losses are to Xavier, Georgetown, and Syracuse; all solid teams and respectable losses.  The Tigers traveled to Knoxville this past weekend for a slugfest with the in-state big brother, Tennessee. Little brother won in an intense game dominated by defense. There were some monster defensive rejections for both squads. The Tigers won the game with a combination of, ironically, making free throws and shooting better from the perimeter (33% from three as opposed to UT’s 20%). Memphis only lacks a Feb. 7 game in Spokane against Gonzaga to complete their non-conference schedule so, outside of the Zags game, conference foes are the Tigers’ main concern the rest of the way. Since The Tigers have blown through CUSA the past several years, they’ve increased the size of the proverbial target on their back. Couple conference foes playing their best games against Memphis with another potential inconsistent shooting night, and the recipe for a conference loss is completed. Regardless, Memphis will continue to roll. This week they’ve got East Carolina in Greenville, SC and Houston at home. Note to Coach Cal: try to make it a little less obvious when you drop f-bombs on your players on live tv.
4. St. Mary’s (West Coast) – (18-1) So, they slipped early against UTEP. Other than that, they defeated a slew of decent teams. The real test comes Thursday when they visit the Zags. While most people think that Patty Mills is their whole team, Omar Samhan is averaging a near double-double (13.9/9.8 ) and the very underrated Diamon Simpson is averaging a real one (12.8/10.9).
5. Gonzaga (West Coast) – (14-4) They’ve played a much harder schedule than St. Mary’s but have four losses (Utah, UConn, Zona, and Portland State). They’ve beaten Tennessee twice and a bunch of other Big 6 conference teams. Again, the test is Thursday.
6. Utah State (Western Athletic) – (19-1) Though the WAC is not normally a basketball heavy conference, we must give props to Utah State. They lost to BYU… and won they’re other 19. That’s impressive no matter how you look at it.
7. BYU (Mountain West) – (15-4) Speaking of BYU, they may have recently went down to New Mexico and UNLV, but their only other losses are to Wake Forest and Arizona State. Lee Cummard chose to stay in college and that’s a good thing, they’ll need him tomorrow when they face visit Utah.
8. Siena (Metro Atlantic) – (15-5) That’s right. A team from the MAAC. The fact is that those losses are to Tennessee, Wichita State, Oklahoma State, Pitt, and Kansas, and those were by an average of 9 points. They’re starters average at least 9/3.5 a piece and they are pretty experienced.
9. Davidson (Southern) – (16-3) Steph Curry is awesome. The rest of the team, not so much. Losses to Purdue, Oklahoma, and Duke are pretty good but with a SoCon schedule that has included some lazy wins, they fall a bit. You have to win by 30 when you play the SoCon.
10. Dayton (Atlantic 10) – (18-2) Their only losses are to Creighton and UMass and they are therefore pretty high up. They don’t really have a star but they are getting it done. A little more time and they may rise some more. (Trey Note: Go Flyers…At least one school I attended has looked decent this year…now, if they just don’t fall apart.)
11. UNLV (Mountain West) – (16-4) They’ve played above expectations so far but they have lost some sketchy games. Without a star player, their star may be dwindling.
12. Utah (Mountain West) – (12-7) That record looks bad, but the losses aren’t. They did lose to a DII team in a warm-up, but other than that all the losses are to Big 6 conference teams or teams on this list with the exception of Idaho State. They have a couple good wins to balance some of it out though.
13. Illinois State (Missouri Valley) – They were undefeated out of conference with some good performances but have now dropped three games in the Valley to teams that aren’t so good. They can definitely circle the wagons and pull this out but they can’t keep falling.
14. VCU (Colonial) – (15-5) That record included a 8-1 record in a pretty decent conference including a win on Saturday against George Mason (they’re only competition for the title). Eric Maynor is my hero since he beat Duke. I would love to see him back in late March.
15. San Diego State (Mountain West) – (13-5) Losses are to BYU, St. Mary’s, Zona, Arizona State, and Wyoming. They have a decent schedule left to prove themselves and they’ll need it.
16. George Mason (Colonial) – (14-5) They’ve lost two straight including the game to VCU that they needed for confidence. They’re still most likely bound to end up in the title game of their conference tourney. From here to there lies material to build confidence.

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18 Responses

  1. So glad this is posted so I can comment now…

    “Table needed color on that side” – classic. If it was a caption, it’d go into the running for caption of the month.

  2. Maryland will rise again, they always pull the upsets.

    pease define “rise.”

  3. how? how the hell did we lose to the Terps?

  4. sparty – apparently the Terps “rose” again against the Spartys.

  5. miz- please define “pease.”

  6. pease = gatortreo-influenced spelling of the word please.

    /I’m a moron.

  7. February 17

  8. Maryland > UM-Baltimore

  9. hopefully Raymar is over the sniffles by then, kwsn.

  10. UMCP > UMES

  11. Now that Florida dropped out of the rankings again, the SEC has no ranked teams. And, the SEC only has 2 teams who even received a vote.

  12. i am waiting for The Big Lead to bring huge hate to the Big 10. a post coming up soon.

  13. NEW POST

  14. sparty: Any chance Chris Petersen will come coach basketball at Mississippi State?

  15. Sparty if I may.

    No dark, but I hear John Calipari is looking a tad bit south.

  16. Actually, Bama fired Mark Gottfried, so maybe he’s your guy.

  17. The stupid play at the end of USC was inexcusable, but then we defined ‘running Vandy out of the gym’. These two things, given they were both on the road, would seem to be a ‘wash’, right? But I guess 24th – 26th isn’t that big of a difference.

    Florida is one point behind Gonzaga for 25th in the coaches poll, and UK is ranked in the AP poll…

    From 2002-present EVERY team in the SEC made the NCAA tournament at least once. I’m fairly certain no other conference can claim that.

    Likewise, every SEC team has been ranked at some time in the last decade. (since 99-00 season)

  18. the only reason the musketeers are a mid-major is the a-10.

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