Thursday, December 1, 2011

Early Season College Grades

We have finally seen enough from some of the big boys of the college basketball landscape to start making judgment on whom, or who appears to be legit to contend for the 2011-2012 NCAA Title. Now granted we’re only six or seven games into a season that will last until the end of March for some. So improvements, injuries and bad breaks will all play a role in who can reach New Orleans with a chance to dance like no other!

To no surprise, 6-0 Kentucky is ranked as the top team in the land and the Wildcats have played like it. John Calipari sports a starting five of three freshman and two sophomores and so far inexperience due to youth has not been a problem. The bluegrass blitzkrieg has averaged 84 points per game with a margin of victory averaging 30 points. Kentucky’s lone top-ten test was passed with flying colors, a 75-65 win over #11 Kansas at Madison Square Garden. U.K. has all five starters averaging double-figures along with sixth man Darius Miller. Their early season test gets tougher this week however with St. John’s visiting Rupp Arena tonight and #5 North Carolina rolling into Lexington on Saturday. Things could change for the Wildcats by next week, but so far you have to give Big Blue an “A” for both effort and results.

4th ranked Duke experienced its first growing pains on Tuesday as the Blue Devils were embarrassed on national television at #2 Ohio State 85-63. Now the Buckeyes are no joke, but Coach K’s crew appeared to be overmatched for most of the night. Thad Motta’s team jumped on the visitors for an 11-0 lead and never trailed in the game! When was the last time a Duke team got beat like that? It’s hard to remember as much as it was hard to take for the Dukies. Now Duke was coming off wins over both Michigan and Kansas which led them to the Maui Invitational Championship, but these are the type of things that happen when young players are in the fore-front. Freshman Austin Rivers did score 22 points but he took 18 shots to do it while adding just three assist. Junior guard Andre Dawkins contributed zero points in 19 minutes. Despite the loss, quality wins over Tennessee and Michigan State earlier in the year have made the Duke start very successful and a solid “B” is the worse grade they could possibly receive.

If you had to find a surprise in the top 25, then just go ahead and take a hit on 18. This is the one time in Vegas; it’s actually a good move! The Runnin’ Rebels are off to an 8-0 start! First year coach David Rice has people taking notice has it took the Rebs double overtime to escape Isle Vista with a win at UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday 94-88. Mike Moser is off to early recognition has one of the top players in the country. He dropped 34 on the Gauchos and leads the country in rebounding. He also can get it done from beyond the arc as he dropped home six 3-pointers. Now normally a win over a Big West school would really be no big deal. But UNLV was coming off a 90-80 victory over then #1 North Carolina on Monday Night. Games at Big-10 powerhouses Wisconsin and Illinois loom on the Runnin’ Rebels schedule but it takes more than stacked dice or lucky cards to beat what should be a final four Tar Heels team. We’ll see how long what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas before the word is really out. Runnin’ Rebels get an easy “A+” three weeks into the season.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

March Madness Hero that will live forever

One of the truly great moments in NCAA Basketball History was brought back to life on Tuesday, but in June not March. The rebirth took place once again, because the architect of the high-lite passed away. On a stretch of Interstate-40 in Raleigh, North Carolina, not far from where he was still worshipped as a godlike figure around North Carolina State’s William Neal Reynolds Coliseum, Lorenzo Charles died. Charles was driving a charter bus, something he’d done for the Elite Coach Company for over a decade. The vehicle swerved off the road, ran up a hill and into some trees. He perished at the scene.

But you see, Charles will really never leave our world or college basketball fans for that matter. His memorable play in the 1983 NCAA Championship Game is burned into the fabric of the March Madness, while it’s also of course, caught on video tape.

His one shinning moment was more than just being at the right place at the right time. It was about desire and determination, something his Wolfpack teammates that season rode all the way to a title. Playing against Akeem Olajuwon and the famed Phi Slamma Jamma team from the University of Houston, N.C. State was a heavy underdog. But that is just where they wanted to be. You see, Houston had won 26 games in a row coming into the final, so no one gave the Wolfpack much of a chance. So when Dereck Whittenburg rose up and lofted a 30-footer with the score tied at 52, and almost no time remaining, no one thought the shot was going in. Even game announcer Gary Bender said while calling the play… “Oh that’s a long way.” But only one player saw the play all the way through, it was Charles. While everyone in Albuquerque’s Pit watched the jump shot float towards the rim only Charles anticipated and reacted. Like a perfectly timed ally-opp he leaped, grabbed and dunked the air-ball, all in one motion. As the leather passed through the goal, the scoreboard clock read triple zeros and bedlam erupted! N.C. State players looked on in disbelief. Head Coach Jim Valvano raced onto the court running around in need of a hug and of course Houston players fell to the ground in despair.

It was one of not only the greatest moments in tournament history but sports history. It was one of those plays that have helped build March Madness into a cult like ritual with every spring that dawn, three months into the new year.

Every March when the tournament rolls around, you see the young man and his unending quest for the basketball and finish that has stood the test of time for almost 30 years. So even in on this day in June, when Charles has left this world for a seat on Valvano’s bench in heaven, the spirit of his memory and iconic play will stay with us. So, no need to be sad. Because Lorenzo Charles may now be gone, but he will never be forgotten.

View the other Smacchat Blogs:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Regardless of the winner, it’s going to be a great comeback story

National Championship Game Chat Room - Chat live with fans from both schools

No if the TV ratings back this up that’s another issue, but the storyline itself has all the intrigue, fodder, and fuel for CBS to hype this a classic and have already stated that if the Bulldogs win it would trump the 85’ Villanova upset over Patrick Ewing and Hoya Paranoia. I wouldn’t go that far but to get back to TWO consecutive NCAA Finals has been reserved in history for teams with 3 or perhaps 4 NBA players in their starting lineup. This team has done it with one or perhaps two, with one of them already leaving at the end of last year as Gordon Hayward moved on to become a first rounder. Because of that they will never go down as one of the best teams by the modern day definition of a “collection of athletes” but certainly should in the literal sense of “a number of persons forming one of the sides in an athletic contest” and one of the best stories. As Bill Self, Urban Meyer, and others from small schools that had the light come on and leave for greener pastures, I’m tuning into the Butler story just to see how long Bradley Stevens can keep the faith. And there that is that beast from the Big East that saved the reputation of the conference as ten of the record eleven representatives fell by the waist side, most in the early rounds, and had the sports nation wondering what all the hype was about. Well, that same conference that started with just over 16% of the tournament field now as 50% and maybe 100% in a few hours. The Huskies finished ninth in the conference and arguably needed to win a couple of games in conference tournament to get their party invite. They did more than that by winning five games in five days, mostly over ranked opponents and then five more to get to this point. If they were going to run out of gas they’d have done it by now and Walker’s stock has risen so much it has made people rethink their valuations of the internet “bubble”. But as a fan of the game and one that still thinks this is the greatest event in sports, I want to see a legendary finish so both these schools get their just due in NCAA Tourney history, and hey, a 80% shooting night and last second inbound to run out the clock sounds good to me.

View the other Smacchat Blogs:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cindy will be in attendance on Monday

National Championship Game Chat Room - Chat live with fans from both schools

For the first time since they started seeding the teams in 1979 two double digit seeds are in the Final Four and to add to the irony they’re on the same side of the bracket meaning the championship game will have ten plus seed for the first time. So now it’s not a question of if Cindy will attend the prom but what will she be wearing, Black and Gold or Blue and White? It begs the question if either of these two schools were to win the whole thing does the NCAA Tournament really crown the best team in the country or the best team under the circumstances? For both Butler and VCU a victory on Monday would represent their longest winning streaks of the season as opposed to several other schools whom have done it on multiple occasions during the year, but of course all of those schools are back in class and watching the Final Four on TV like the rest of us. However, after all of the confetti is cleaned up early Tuesday morning and regardless of the color it is, who is going to be remembered in 2011? The school that is crowned the National Champion and that’s all that matters. Just reading the blog entries and listening to talk radio it seems people are still making a case for being a better team than the four that are still playing, but let me quash that argument right now all of them including Ohio State and Kansas that lost only 2 games apiece (a combined total that is less than any of the those four teams that remain), by stating the fact that they are STILL PLAYING makes them a better team. If this was a 4/7 then that would be different and one would assume that every year all top seeds would be in Houston or the equivalent but that opens up Pandora’s Box to all kinds of conjecture and criticism on every playoff system (except the BCS which no intelligent person believes crowns a true champion), even the Super Bowl would have to file a brief as the Patriots had soundly beaten all of the remaining final four teams that remained in last season’s championship games. What makes the NCAA Tournament the greatest event in sports is the very fact that a ten or an eleven has the opportunity to hoist the trophy and raise a banner in their gym, and unfortunately that means that sometimes the best school on paper is not the one doing it, ask Phi Slamma Jamma, The Fab Five, the undefeated UNLV Rebels, the 84’ Hoya Paranoia Georgetown club, or even the FIVE NBA PLAYERS from last season’s Kentucky team, but those are also the most talked about games in the last fifty years and that’s what makes it great.

NCAA Final Four Tournament Individual Game Chat Rooms

(11)VCU vs. (8)Butler

(4)Kentucky vs. (3)UCONN

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Bitterness of Sweet 16

The Dream ends for Steve Fisher and San Diego as ‘Nova moves on. Despite a partisan crowd that was less than an hour drive time away Villanova upended the Cinderella season for the Aztecs who simply fell apart after coming back from double digits to cut it 1 but missed on two consecutive possessions and then gave up O-Glass that resulted in a 3-pointer and a four point deficit and that was it. A very sad ending for a #2 seed that won its first tournament game in the school’s history and had a good shot at advancing to the final eight but even more amazing has been the Wildcats run that started with five consecutive wins in the Big East Tourney arguably the toughest tournament outside of the Big Dance, and are still yet to lose this year in tournament play. Next up, the Duke/ Zona winner.
In the spirit of dreams ending, BYU also had their longest tournament run since 1981 cut short as the Cougs simply ran out of gas in overtime and the 2nd seeded Gators have moved on to the round of 8. Jimmer had a slow first half but got it together in the 2nd half and ended up with 32 points. The only problem was that it took him 29 shots and he was the only BYU player in double figures. One could make the argument that it took them out of their offense but that’s the way they’ve rolled the entire season. One could also argue that with the addition of Brandon Davies they would be playing on Saturday as Florida’s advantage in front court scoring was the difference.
Ouch, did anyone really see this coming? Ok, we took Arizona on the site but just because they were getting a huge amount of lumber (9 points) in a sweet sixteen game, but c’mon if someone would have told you this game was going to end up with a 16-point margin how many people out there (even Cats fans) would have laid the house and the farm on boys from Cameron Indoor? I’ll tell ya, everyone’s talking about how well Arizona shot the ball, and they did shoot well, but at the end of the day they simply had better athletes, and not like Duke wasn’t hustlin’ they were simply overmatched athletically. True, this was Arizona’s best game of the year, but if they’re peaking at the right time then the other 7 schools had better take warning, including OSU, but if they shot their wod getting up for the Devils then surely show up against ‘Nova on Saturday.
How on earth did Wisconsin crash the sweet 16 party?? Did they know someone at the door? Friends of the caterer? Got to the party at 7:30 and just waited for the party to start? In any case just because you’re here doesn’t mean you belong and they were dismissed by Butler who has now proven that there was more to them than just Gordon Hayward as they are right back where they started, in the elite 8 and I can imagine where they would be if he would have stayed around for another year. Ok, let’s see what happens throughout the weekend and who will be left standing come Monday, in the meantime let us know your thoughts in any of the chat rooms and blogs.

Elite Eight Chat Rooms
VCU vs. Kansas

(4) Kentucky vs. (2) North Carolina

(8)Butler vs. (2) Florida

(5)Arizona vs. (3) UCONN

Individual Sweet 16 Chat Rooms

UCONN vs. San Diego State
(1)Duke vs. (5)Arizona
(3)BYU vs.(2) Florida
(8) Butler vs. (4) Wisconsin

(11) Marquette vs. (2) North Carolina
(12) Richmond vs. (1) Kansas
(4)Kentucky vs. (1) Ohio State
(11)VCU vs. (10)Florida State

View the complete Tournament Brackets Here.

Conference and NCAA Tournament schedule with Smacchat discount tickets.

View all of the Conference Standings Here, along with the schedule of upcoming games.

Get the complete NCAA betting lines and prop bets here.

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook as well.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Opening stanza sets a high bar for the rest of the dance

As always the one event in sports that you can count on to never disappoint is the NCAA Tournament and opening weekend had more that its share of close games, tears, buzzer beaters and upsets. It would be hard to chose one game that was the game of the weekend but here’s what we went with:

Biggest upset: Morehead State over Louisville. A Big East favorite and ubiquitous bracket buster Rick Patino’s group looked like it had its table set with just Morehead, and Vandy standing in their way before a showdown with Kansas, that many had as their upset special. Not sure if they got caught looking ahead but Rick didn’t take much time mourning as he was on the CBS set the next day providing his analysis on what OTHER teams should do.

Best last second finish: Without question Butler over Pittsburgh. If the game would have finished with the with the final Butler field goal it would have gone down as one of the greatest first weekend games played in recent years, but the final two seconds will live in infamy forever if for anything else for the dumbest foul in tournament history to be dethroned less than a second later by the “new” dumbest foul in history.

Biggest surprise appearance in the Sweet 16: Tie between Richmond and VCU. Five years from now when the tournament field increases to 96 or 206 there will be a trivia question on who was the only “first four” school to make it to the Sweet 16 and the answer will be VCU, the team that was the most scrutinized for even being in the dance. Meanwhile another school from Virginia has the opportunity to shock the hoops world as they move on to take on Kansas, one of the favs to win the whole thing.

Best Game of the weekend: As always, some amazing completion but anytime a number one goes down before they get a chance to change hotels that’s the top story and this year it’s Butler doing it again as only they can do. Honorable mention: how apropos with the ‘Fab 5’ documentary was the final rematch between Duke and Michigan, and then it came down to the final shot. Would have loved to see the runner drop just to see 5 more minutes of that intensity.

Who looked the best: Ohio State two blowouts, grant it as a number one that’s what you expect but everyone else seems to be working hard for the money but the Buckeyes look the most complete but they will be tested next week against a young Kentucky team.

Biggest Disappointment: The Big East. The most teams ever admitted from one conference and the most ever to be eliminated by the weekend as only 2 of the 11 Big Easy schools, and those two teams advanced to the sweets by beating OTHER big East teams. I realize one can make the argument, and we proposed the question here, that perhaps they beat up on themselves so much that there was nothing left in the tank for an after hours dance but if you’re supposed to be “all that and a bag of chips” then at least get to .500 over two games.

Which were your favorites of opening weekend? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Strike up the band

After plenty of speculation and surprises the 2011 NCAA tournament field has been announced and as always not without its share of controversy. Hey even Joe Lunardi got six schools wrong and a bunch brackets out of order. On top of that it has been no secret all year long that the parity in this year’s field is unprecedented and upsets will be the order of the next three weeks. Also common place are the schools that have a compelling argument to be an attendee at the dance but were not extended an invitation, some of the biggest we’ve listed below. However the even with the expansion to 68 schools the same criteria has always held true for those that do not come from a power conference; lose your conference tournament at your own peril, and for the second time in three years St. Mary’s missed their ride and despite going 25-8 and having a RPI of 48, will miss the big dance and will be heading for the NIT. Probably for the first and last time, Harvard students failed their entrance exam by losing a one-game playoff to Princeton and thus the streak of 50+ years without a tournament appearance continues, not a fortuitous end to their best season in years going 23-6 with the best RPI among non-invitees at 37. Lastly, not quite a from a “power” conference but UTEP at 25-9 could have an argument over some at-large qualifiers, and 11 entries from the Big East making up 16% of the entire field. It’s obvious the SEC doesn’t have quite the pull on the hardwood that it does on grass as Bama’ is left off the list with 21 wins and a 12-4 conference record. The strength of schedule of 136 had to be the crux of the issue here. Who do you think were the major snubs? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.
The biggest snubs based on RPI
RPI Team W-L
37 Harvard 23-6
41 Cleveland State 26-8
44 Missouri State 25-8
48 Saint Mary's 25-8
49 Colorado State 19-12
53 Marshall 22-11
56 UTEP 25-9
57 Boston College 20-12

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Please put down your pencils and hand your test forward

Most of the final papers have been submitted but there are still a few schools that have some last minute revisions to their finals, some of the changes will give them a passing grade and some will give the exact wrong result causing them to fail. In my opinion there are more than just four schools on the bubble and there will be about six that will be the last out as there have already been a couple of upsets in the mid-major tournaments taking away some at-large applicants. With that said there are a few that need to get a couple more questions right if they hope to get that passing grade. Among those are Virginia Tech, who had (A) signature win vs. Duke but that was at home and cross reference that with a bad loss to UNLV and getting blown out at Georgia Tech (their first round ACC opponent) and it adds up to about a 68, so they need a first round win to get to 20 wins and probably one more to ensure their ticket to Grand Ballroom. Next there are the Trojans from SoCal who will need to make it to the Pac-10 final to secure their place on dance floor because their second game will be against #16 Arizona in the second round which would provide their last statement win. Next, I simply don’t see how Michigan State gets in without doing some serious damage in the B-10 tourney as 5-8 their last 13 is hardly going into the dance with momentum. They need to let the air out of Iowa’s balloon coming off their win and then get their signature win in the tournament in the second round which I don’t think they’ll get, and will be hosting their next game, but in the NIT. Lastly, it’s too bad this isn’t football otherwise we’d be talking about Bama’ and Georgia in the sense of what BCS Bowl they’re going to, but in hoop it’s all about what you’ve done for me lately and not the name on the jerseys and both of these schools need to reach at least the semi-finals AND have the upsets come to an end in the mid-majors as they’re trying to scalp their way in as it is and the dance will soon be sold out. We’ll see how accurate I am in less than a week.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Every school will have their day on court shortly

After another weekend of upsets where schools that were slated to be on one of the top four available top lines can’t seem to navigate the mine field that is their remaining schedule, as Pitt, San Diego State, and Duke all go down this weekend. Now the door is not only open for #7 BYU but the welcome mat is out and non-alcoholic refreshments are now being served. The new pools will be out shortly and don’t be surprised to see the Cougars holding down one of the top four spots come March 13th, as at 25-2 their resume is as impressive as any compeer, and now with two victories over top 5 SD State, unless the third time is a charm in the Mountain West Tournament Championship BYU should roll into the dance with 30 wins. Now will that buy them any respect? Probably not, but that’s what separates the greatest event in sports from the BCS, everyone will get the opportunity to prove their case, that they belong. Also from the MWC were the previously #4 ranked San Diego State Aztecs who were possibly looking at the first top ranking in the history of the school if they could have managed to keep just one loss through the end of the season, as surely the conference tourneys would take their toll on the other top three schools as no one has been able to win on the road this year. Unfortunately the previously mentioned Cougars took that dream away on Saturday, so now they will have to battle their way out of the regionals from a 3 or 4 seed. So if I’m right and one the four spots are gone that will leave three up for grabs between the Big East winner, Duke, Kansas, OSU, and Texas. It doesn’t leave much and the school that does get left out will have a very atrong “strength of schedule” argument to present to the judges on the selection committee, but the path of appeal is clear. Six consecutive victories. Who do you have slated as your top four seeds? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Has being top dog lost its luster?

With just three weeks to go before “Selection Sunday” schools are doing their best to improve their tournament resume but the friendly skies are not making it easy, as going on the road continues be a test that’s failed more often than a mid-term exam. Over the past week 80% of the top five teams lost paving the way for Duke to jump all the way from the 5th spot to lay claim to number one for the first time in over 2 months. Starting with Kansas getting spanked by interstate rival KState by almost 20 points, the virus at the top of the polls quickly spread to Ohio State (who caught the worst case of it), Texas (who saw it coming), and Pittsburgh (where it was inevitable in the cold weather of the Big East Conference). So after the snow storm has past we’re left with Duke, OSU, Kansas (again), Pitt, and Texas (4 losses????) all garnishing first place votes, but the school getting absolutely no love is San Diego State at 27-1, with the best record in division I, ZERO first place votes, and right now barely holding on to a number 2 seed in the tournament. Their only loss was to #7 ranked BYU, a game that any of the afore mentioned schools that are ranked ahead of them would have lost as it was in front of a NBA size ruckus crowd of 20,000, and every team seems to have problems winning on the road. I don’t want to hear about strength of conference until someone can consistently went outside of the friendly confines of their own gym. That being said, for the most part, the conference tournaments will be road games for everyone, and that’s when we’ll separate the men from the boys. Don’t get me wrong there is something to be said for playing in a tough conference but to put so much weight on it that it compensates for a 3/4-game swing in the overall record as in the case of Texas and SDState. If it comes down to both of those teams on March 13 I don’t care if they play in Conference Puerto Rico, if you win 30-games you’re a top seed, and any school who would complain that they took their spot is throwing stones from a glass house because no on can say they’ve dominated this year and are head n’ shoulders above the rest. Who do you think should be the top four seeds come March? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It has not been fun to be #1

Similar to the 2010 football season where it seemed like the #1 ranking was a stigma rather than an asset as schools with the target on their backs was too heavy to bear, this NCAA hoops season is following a similar trend and it’s probably going to become an even more frequent event as move into the conference tournaments.

As always the Big East conducted its weekly dismantling of each other but Pittsburgh still manages to have the least amount of scars with only one conference loss and two overall. At 24-2 they look poised to take over the daunting task of carrying the ‘top dog’ bullseye on their back after this week (since Texas doesn’t seem to want it) with Kansas getting knocked off by KState, and the Panthers handling their biznis’ against South Florida. True, there’s no such thing as an easy game in the Big East but Pitt should have enough left to handle a trip to the Big Apple on Saturday and beat St. Johns. Meanwhile the horns may not want the scarlet letter but it will be theirs to wear at least until the end of the month when they host the same KState that knocked the rival Jayhawks off the same perch. But that game is in the friendly confines of Austin and being at home makes all the difference this year. Wisconsin proved to be the tough out in Madison that we thought they would be and handed OSU their first loss of the season but once on the verge of the top 10 lost their next game on the road at Purdue (10), which further emphasized the point that, much like in football, any power conference school is going to be tough in their own gym (and some outliers like SD State) but on a neutral court the uniforms don’t matter and that is what will make this year’s tournament the most unpredictable and the days of 4 top seeds making the Final Four are history. However what the conference tournaments will expose is who is ready for the pressure of prime time and rest assured if you haven’t put together a six game winning streak so far this season don’t look to do so in March and April.
Who do you think is poised to make a deep run in the Big Dance? Let us know here and in any of the quick links and blogs.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rivalry Week provides a test on who’s ready to dance

It is way too early to start penciling in top seeds, as rest assured, the conference tournaments will knock out at least two of the schools you would have filled in. However, what we can start to observe is who is playing well enough RIGHT NOW to be capable of winning six consecutive games and rivalry week will prove to be a great litmus test to assess who is. Early in the week we got a chance to see the mettle of #4 Pittsburgh as they went into a hostile backyard and came out with a tough, shorthanded, victory against rival West Virginia. Now the rest of the top five must follow suit, with Wednesday being the pivotal day as despite the fact that they’re not playing on grass any time Texas and Oklahoma get together much more is on the line and nothing would make the unranked Sooners season than knocking the #3 Longhorns out of a potential top seed. All of the sudden North Carolina is significant again, but it will take a good showing at #5 Duke to convince me that their #21 ranking was not just a gift in order to put more chips in the center of the table for Wednesday’s game. That being said it’s still the best rivalry in NCAA Hoops regardless of what follows the number sign. As far as the Big East goes it’s just another day in the trenches as all you can hope for is to stay above the water mark on the road and win the close ones at home this year as every contains potential upsets. This weeks’ skirmishes include The Ville (15) looking to get a huge statement win at South Bend against the #7 Irish. We get a couple of days to catch our breath then the (pre)madness starts again as we will see if #1Ohio state is all that and a bag of chips’ when they travel to #14 Wisconsin, which is not like going into any of the afore mentioned venues but it will be the toughest test they’ll get on the road in the B-10 this season, at least until the conference tournament. As if they didn’t do enough by winning in Morgantown, Pittsburgh can really make a good case for a top seed with a win in Philly this weekend against #10 Villanova and complete a week comprising of bookend tough road matchups. (18)KU and (24)Vandy will be a great one to watch and the upset special is #6 San Diego State (still strange for me to say that) catching a 40 minute flight to sin city to take on UNLV who needs a signature win to put on their resume. If you were looking to spend some time with the family now that both football seasons are on hiatus sorry to disappoint you because you won’t want to miss these. Who do you think will emerge this weekend with mo’ going into tournament season? How many will be upset? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Big East Conference Play (cannibalization) reaches its summit

I must say we did call it here first, back when there was six Big East Teams residing in the top 25, but then it didn’t take a genius to see the storm brewing on the horizon, the tsunami that is the Big East schedule week in and week out. Now in the eye of the storm the damage can be clearly seen, such as a 19-win Syracuse team having to stop a four game losing streak by beating a 17-win, #7 Ranked UConn school in their own house, not an easy task. That’s just the beginning. When the 11th place team in the conference is 14-9 and probably tournament bound it doesn’t make for a day off work. Even the 12th place Seton Hall Pirates have knocked off the 2nd place team on a given weekend, and just think they still have the conference tournament upcoming which leads me to believe that they may not be any meat left on the bones of the survivor of the carnage come NCAA Tournament time. The SEC Football season’s got nothin’ on this. So how many BE schools should be in big dance will be the major topic of discussion in just about a month when, even at an expanded level, may comprise of close to 17% of the entire tournament field, and that may make the selection committee a little nervous. Conversely, how would you not argue having a Marquette school that may finish 11th in the Big East but have a legitimate shot at getting out of the regionals, not making the field but Utah Valley (and I’m not picking on the Great West) at 12-9 taking their place with an automatic bid. I know, this is the same March banter and it may not be the BCS but even the fairest event in sports may have some questions to answer next month. In the meantime sit back and enjoy the daily war that takes place twice a week at 7pm Big Eastern Standard time.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fredette answers the call and the critics as he drops 43 on the Tecs’

You might think Jimmer Fredette is a football player (for a non-SEC school) for all of the criticism he receives despite consistently droppin’ serious numbers on almost everyone BYU plays en route to a 20-1 record. The latest knock on his game is that a quick athletic guard will shut him down because he can’t create his own shot. In their one loss this season to an unranked UCLA team, JF couldn’t get those wide open looks he was used to because of how quickly the Bruin guards could close distance, and that began the cavalcade of doubts about how well he would do against quality competition. Well, not only did he get that chance on Wednesday night but responded like a first-rounder. Going against the #4 team in the nation San Diego State, where if you were to call them very athletic, it would be a understated insult as they have four guys that are simply clones on the outside, that can switch every screen on the perimeter, while having and enforcer in the paint in D.J. Gay. Much to the chagrin of the critics JF was not only able to get his shot but dropped 43 points in 39 minutes, shooting better than 50% from the floor as the Cougars upset the Aztecs in front of a massive crowd of better than 22,000. For the first time this season, SD State showed the signs of stage fright as despite a #4 ranking they have yet to see an ESPN Game and have been lacking some respect in their own right but the bright lights of an NBA size crowd, that was more enthusiastic, was a huge factor in the Tecs’ shooting a dismal 35% from the floor including 11-36 by their front line. Like all teams from non-power conferences (especially the Mountain West) they’ll be taken out to the woodshed by the voters for dropping a game which may be what they need to regroup before their next prime-time appearance which may be in the Big Dance. Now both BYU and San Diego State will among those fighting for a 1 or 2 seed come selection Sunday and it will probably be the conference tournament winner that gets it, and for now that’s Fredette and the Cougs who move to 6-0 in league, but rest assured the Aztecs will learn from this and we waiting for a chance at payback on Feb 26 when BYU takes a trip to the beach. Can both of these teams go deep into the NCAA tournament or are they over rated? Can Fredette make it at the next level? Let us know here and in any of the quick links.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

An early season version of the “final four” doesn’t include Duke

There were five unbeatens that took the floor on ‘hump day’ but only four remain as the number one team in the nation hit a major speed bump to slow them down after 15 consecutive wins. The warning sings came up after a sub-par second half against Maryland that they ended up pulling it out, and most figured it would be a wakeup call but perhaps it was a harbinger instead. Obviously this is not the last we’ve heard of the Blue Devils this season (thankfully this isn’t the BCS), but for the first part of the year the media has all but engraved their second consecutive ring so perhaps this is a good reason to not cue up ‘one shining moment’ just yet. And in case you didn’t notice there are quite a few other schools that will be participating in the NCAA Tournament this year other than Duke, in fact four of them are still unbeaten and were all in action on Wednesday night. The new top dog to be Ohio State went into a fervent Michigan hot box and gutted out 4-point win to remain undefeated and will be awarded the top spot if they can survive a trip to Penn St. this weekend. Rucker Park moved its classic to the Garden as Syracuse and St. Johns rekindled their rivalry and gave us one of the most entertaining games of the season as Cuse’ moved to 17-0 for only the third time in their history, but will really be put to the test as they take on two top ten schools in Pitt (#5) and Nova (#7) next week. This may be the best team in the nation as they have the guns, the coach, and will have proven to be able to hold their mud in the toughest conference in the country this season. The Big East is truly big again. Kansas is a gate crasher to the Unbeaten fraternity as their record should be once tarnished after that farce of a call at home against UCLA but for now they continue wear their pledge pin with prid-0 and e at 16-0 and will try to stay focused for the rest of the month until they meet interstate rival K-State in a war for more than just bragging rights on the 29th. Last but certainly not least because what makes them so danger is the fact that everyone does think of them last are the Aztecs of San Diego State. At 18-0 they currently possess the nation’s longest winning streak and get less love than Boise St. does in football but is still going about their business and held off a good UNLV team to remain unbeaten, an unnoticed, like the guys that are attending their first frat party. As well they may be, but don’t be surprised if these are the guys that leave with Cinderella at when the party is over in March. Who do you think is the best of the ‘unbeatens’? Let us know here and in the chat rooms and blogs.