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.