Mountain Men

There are many teams in the Big East with instant name cache; UConn Georgetown, Syracuse, and Louisville to name a few.  West Virginia would be pretty far down that list.  However, the Mountaineers have staked their claim as a contender in the best conference in the country.

Alex Ruoff

West Virginia Guard Alex Ruoff

The Mountaineers are at full strength and are a force to be reckoned with.  Alex Ruoff, Da’Sean Butler, and Devin Ebanks are all capable of an offensive explosion.  Add in Darryl Bryant and the tough Joe Mazzulla and you have all the ingredients for a solid basketball team.

Ask Ohio St how potent West Virginia is.  What the Mountaineers did to the Buckeyes was criminal.  They took it to Ohio St from the tip and showed the rest of the country, just how deep the Big East is.

Stock Up: St. Mary’s.  After a questionable loss to UTEP in the 76 Classic, the Gaels have reeled off nine wins in a row including five on the road.  Patrick Mills is easily one of the best guards in the country and is a matchup problem for anyone.  Be clear folks, the West Coast Conference is not just about Gonzaga.

Stock Down: Gonzaga.  Portland St.  Tell me you did not lose to Portland St at home.  Tell me the “Mid-Major that Could” didn’t overlook another Mid-Major.  The Bulldogs have road contests at Utah and at Tennessee.  Mark Few better tighten his ballclub up in a hurry.

Stock Up: Chris Wright.  There was no doubt that Georgetown was going to be a tournament team, but on which weekend it met it’s demise would hinge on it’s point-guard play.  Well, early in the season, I think we have our answer.  Wright, fully recovered from the foot injury which sidelined him much of last season, has been everything John Thompson III could ask for and more.  He’s proving to be one of the best guards in the country.

Stock Down: Mississippi Head Coach Andy Kennedy.  I don’t know WHAT happened that night in Cincinnati.  What I do know is the coach of a college basketball team should not be out, at a bar, on a roadtrip at 1:00am.  I doubt the allegations of assault and racial slurs are true, but what good can come of that.

Ole Miss Head Coach Andy Kennedy

Stock Up: Minnesota.  If there is another coach to be happier for, I can’t find him.  Tubby Smith has the program in the Twin Cities turned around halfway through his second season and it’s great to see.  The Golden Gopher program had falllen on some hard times with the Clem Haskins’ scandal and Dan Monson’s tenure, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  That light appears to be a NCAA tournament berth.

Stock Down: Mid-American Conference.  Generally, the MAC is one of the better Mid-Major conferences in the country.  In fact, the MAC used the ring out like the Missouri Valley does now.  However, this appears to be a bad year for the conference.  With only three teams over .500 and every team in the West Division with a losing record, any hopes of an at-large bid seem to be all but shot.

This week’s Bracket Projections:

SOUTH
1.North Carolina16.Cornell Greensboro, NC
8.West Virginia9.Illinois
5.Baylor12.Utah St Portland, OR
4.Gonzaga13.Niagara
6.Florida St11.Butler Minneapolis, MN
3.Michigan St14.Vermont
7.Missouri10.Florida Philadelphia, PA
2.Georgetown15.East Tennessee St
WEST
1.Duke16.North Dakota St Greensboro, NC
8.Louisville9.Memphis
5.Minnesota12.Creighton Boise, ID
4.UCLA13.Portland St
6.Ohio St11.Boston College Miami, FL
3.Texas14.George Mason
7.St. Mary’s10.Davidson Dayton, OH
2.Notre Dame15.Pacific
MIDWEST
1.Oklahoma16.Quinnipiac Kansas City, MO
8.Arizona9.Marquette
5.Michigan12.Illinois St Minneapolis, MN
4.Xavier13.Western Kentucky
6.Villanova11.Texas A&M Miami, FL
3.Wake Forest14.Lamar
7.Stanford10.Wisconsin Philadelphia, PA
2.Connecticut15.American
EAST
1.Pittsburgh16.Morgan St/Ark-Pine Bluff Dayton, OH
8.Dayton9.California
5.Clemson12.Northwestern Portland, OR
4.Tennessee13.Miami(OH)
6.Arizona St11.Maryland Boise, ID
3.Syracuse14.VMI
7.Kansas10.UNLV Kansas City, MO
2.Purdue15.Jacksonville St

Just When You Thought It was Safe to Go to the Desert

The Arizona Wildcats and Arizona St Sun Devils are staking claim to being two of the best teams in the West.  This is shaping to be the best year of college basketball in that state since 1995 when Arizona St earned a #5 seed and made it to the Sweet 16 and Arizona received a #4.

The Sun Devils, led by James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph, have only lost only once this season and despite a lackluster performance Sunday against IUPUI, has looked very impressive in the early-going. Harden and Pendergraph are the kinds of players that can take this team on a long tournament run.

I didn’t expect much out of the Wildcats after the retirement of long-time coach, Lute Olson, but they have really impressed me. Their two losses are by a total of two points and they have some serious firepower on that team in Nic Wise, Chase Budinger, and Jordan Hill.  While Sunday’s win versus Gonzaga is considered an upset, there was nothing fluke about it.  This Arizona team has the chops to play with anybody.

Stock Up: Niagara.  I watched much of the Purple Eagles 15-point win over South Florida on Sunday.  Here we had a mid-major taking on a Big East school on said school’s homecourt and that Big East school did not belong on the court with the Purple Eagles.  They have the atheticism to just lock teams down.  I expect to see this team in March.

Stock Down: Pennsylvania and Prinecton.  For twenty years, these two schools held the Ivy League in a chokehold.  It now seems as if both programs have fallen on hardtimes due to the departures of former head coaches, Fran Dunphy (Temple) and John Thompson III (Georgetown).  These were two teams that not only dominated Ivy League competition, they also won their fare share of non-conference games as well.  Now they can’t beat Maine.

Stock Up: Xavier.  This is the most underrated program in the country.  There aren’t many teams that share the success that the Musketeers have recently.  After pushing Ohio St to the brink in the second round in 2007, Xavier made it all the way to the Elite 8 last year.  The Musketeers are loaded again and is a legitimate Final Four contender.

Stock Down: DePaul.  God Bless Jerry Wainwright, but that seat is warming up.  Losing to a 4-6 Morgan St team at home is unacceptable.  The Blue Demons have lost four in a row and have Seth Curry coming to town tomorrow.  With the Big East being the monster of a conference it is, it could be a long season in Chicago.

Stock Up: Horizon League.  Currently ranked in the top half of Division I conferences ahead of the WAC and MAC, the Horizon League is currently making a play to be a three-bid league.  Yes, that’s right, THREE.  Butler, Illinois-Chicago, and Cleveland St are winning big-time games on the road.  It will be a great year for the Horizon League.

Stock Down: Kansas.  The defending National Champions losing to UMass is shameful.  They have one solid win versus Washington, but they better fix whatever’s ailing them in hurry.  Four of their next six are against Temple, Arizona, Tennessee, and Michigan St.  Ouch.

This Week’s Bracket Projections:

SOUTH

1.North Carolina16.Quinnipiac Greensboro, NC

8.Villanova9.Illinois

5.Bayor12.West Virginia Boise, ID

4.Tennessee13.Niagara

6.Florida St11.Missouri Minneapolis, MN

3.Purdue14.Eastern Washington

7.Arizona St10.Dayton Kansas City, MO

2.Louisville15.Mercer

WEST

1.Oklahoma16.Hampton Kansas City, MO

8.Wisconsin9.BYU

5.Wake Forest12.Miami(OH) Miami, FL

4.Georgetown13.Western Kentucky

6.Michigan11.Texas A&M Philadelphia, PA

3.Syracuse14.VMI

7.Arizona10.Florida Portland, OR

2.Gonzaga15.UC-Santa Barbara

MIDWEST

1.Pittsburgh16.ND St/Ark-Pine Bluff Dayton, OH

8.Northwestern9.St. Mary’s

5.Clemson12.Illinois St Boise, ID

4.UCLA13.Jacksonville St

6.Memphis11.Temple Minneapolis, MN

3.Notre Dame14.Utah St

7.Michigan St10.Seton Hall Greensboro, NC

2.Duke15.Navy

EAST

1.Connecticut16.Cornell Philadelphia, PA

8.Kansas9.California

5.Davidson12.Maryland Portland, OR

4.Ohio St13.George Mason

6.Marquette11.Butler Miami, FL

3.Texas14.Lamar

7.Miami(FL)10.Minnesota Dayton, OH

2.Xavier15.Vermont

Seasoned Curry

Stephen Curry is on a tear of epic proportions right now.  He’s scored 44 twice already in is staking his claim as national player of the year.  He has Davidson primed for another undefeated season in the Southern Conference and you can just about book that at-large bid.  I truly believe he’s capable of leading the Wildcats to the Final Four.

Apparently, no one saw his brother coming though. Really?  At 6’3 and averaging 22 points per game his senior year, none of the bigger schools thought it important to throw the full court press on Seth Curry.  It’s already clear that the younger Curry is better than any guard currently playing for Charlotte, NC State, East Carolina, UNC-Wilmington, or Virginia Tech (Where his father, Dell played).  He’s already averaging over 21 points a game and has shown the knack to hit clutch shots just as his brother.  He was only offered by Liberty and Davidson and that’s ridiculous.

Stock Up: Ohio St.  Not only did the Buckeyes stage a furious comeback on the road at Miami, but they also went into South Bend and beat a very good Notre Dame team.  This team has been surprising thus far and may end up being the real challenge to Purdue for the Big Ten title rather than Michigan St.

Stock Down: USC.  Three losses already can’t be good for such a young basketball team.  The Trojans have struggled against quality competition thus far and need to right the ship in a hurry.  The Pac-10 doesn’t appear to be as strong this season so USC has an opportunity to make some noise.  We’ll see how the youngsters react.

Stock Up: Butler.  The Bulldogs lost too much…right?  They can’t possibly be on of the best mid-majors in the country can they?  Don’t look now, but Butler is 6-0 and is coming off an impressive last second victory over preseason Horizon League favorite, Cleveland St.  Butler has games coming up against Ohio St and Xavier so we’ll get a measuring stick of how good it really is.  Right now it’s lookinl like another banner year in Indianapolis.

Stock Down: SEC.  It’s bad.  It’s real bad.  Kentucky lost at home to VMI.  Both Auburn and Alabama lost at home to Mercer.  Georgia lost to Loyola-Chicago.  Vanderbilt lost to Illinois-Chicago.  Tennessee is going to win the conference without much of a challenge from anyone besides Florida.

Stock Up: Western Kentucky.  The Hilltoppers followed up their big win over Louisville with wins over Georgia and at Tulane.  It appears that WKU may be on the fast track to a possible at-large bid.

Stock Down: SWAC.  I understand the nature of the beast.  They have to take games versus a lot of high-majors to get checks, but this is ridiculous.  The 10 teams in the conference are a combined 3-58.  That’s how you end up in the play-in game EVERY season.

SOUTH

1.North Carolina16.Lamar Greensboro, NC

8.California9.Northwestern

5.Davidson12.Illinois St Miami, FL

4.Georgetown13.Miami(OH)

6.Florida St11.Western Kentucky Minneapolis, MN

3.Notre Dame14.Navy

7.Michigan St St10.Nebraska Greensboro, NC

2.Tennessee15.Mercer

WEST

1.Gonzaga16.Wagner Portland, OR

8.Dayton9.Seton Hall

5.Villanova12.Washington St Portland, OR

4.Purdue13.Boise St

6.Clemson11.Minnesota Minneapolis, MN

3.Syracuse14.Jacksonville St

7.Marquette10.BYU Kansas City, MO

2.Oklahoma15.Long Beach St

MIDWEST

1.Pittsburgh16. ND St/Grambling St Dayton, OH

8.Miami(FL)9.Florida

5.Baylor12.Utah Boise, ID

4.Ohio St13.George Mason

6.Kansas11.Mississippi Kansas City, MO

3.Louisville14.Eastern Washington

7.Arizona St10.Illinois Philadelphia, PA

2.Duke15.Binghampton

EAST

1.Connecticut16.Cornell Philadelphia, PA

8.Wisconsin9.St. Mary’s

5.Wake Forest12.Butler Boise, ID

4.UCLA13.Niagra

6.Memphis11.San Diego St Miami, FL

3.Texas14.VMI

7.Michigan10.West Virginia Dayton, OH

2.Xavier15.Hampton

Published in: on December 9, 2008 at 2:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Please Pray for Rodney

Rodney Rogers

This is definitely a post I wish I didn’t  have to make.  I just want to take this time out to ask everyone to keep Rodney Rogers in your prayers.  The former Wake Forest star was in an ATV accident, which left him paralyzed from the shoulders down.

Rogers is one of my all-time favorite college basketball players.  He could really score in a variety of ways and there really wasn’t anyone on the college level capable of guarding him.  I guess you could say he was a poor man’s Glenn Robinson.  I loved his game and from what I’ve read and know about him, he’s really good person too.  Here’s to hoping he has a full recovery.

Published in: on December 5, 2008 at 1:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Slap You’ll Feel in March

Last night in the Ohio St/Miami game, Jack McClinton of Miami took a swing at Anthony Crater of Ohio St.  Now, I don’t think it was an exceptionally vicious swipe, but it’s still something that shouldn’t have happened.

McClinton is clearly Miami’s best player and is one of the best guards in the country.  I definitely think the result would’ve been different had he been on the floor in the second half (the game was on it’s way to getting out of hand when he was ejected).

Miami has 2 losses already with a road game coming up against Kentucky.  It only has one game each against North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, and Clemson, teams considered to be the cream of the crop in the ACC.

The ‘Canes don’t have a lot of opportunities left for quality wins so that slap may have cost them a tournament berth.  It’s only December 3, but I think they’re in trouble already.  It’ll be interesting to see what the rest of the season has in store for Miami.

Published in: on December 4, 2008 at 2:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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Post Holiday Reaction

I hope everyone has been watching basketball over the past week.  We’ve had plenty of great action from the Caribbean to the Hawaiian Islands.  We’ve had some impressive performances and then we’ve had some duds.

Stock Up: Gonzaga.  Never before have I thought a Gonzaga team had a better chance to get to the Final Four than this one.  I am pleasantly surprised by the offensive firepower the Zags have and they’re finally getting it on the defensive end.  If they don’t crack the Final Four this year, they may never do it.

Stock Down: Siena.  This is a team that had aspirations of an At-large berth into the NCAA tournament.  Those aspirations were dead by Friday.  Going 0-3 in Orlando was not what the doctor ordered for the Saints.  With Niagra impressing thus far, an automatic bid doesn’t seem like a sure bet either.

Stock Up: Wake Forest.  The Deamon Deacons won the 76 tournament out West this weekend and that’s quite an accomplishment for this young team.  While, they didn’t necessarily have to play against a loaded field, the win against Baylor was very impressive.  They’ll definitely be in the top 3rd of the ACC this year.

Stock Down: Louisville.  Oh goodness.  Any time the head coach issues a public apology on his website, than you know it’s bad.  I have a bad feeling about Louisville; the kind that says this team will do just enough to make it to the tournament, but won’t reach it’s potential.

Stock Up: Kyle McAlarney.  It doesn’t matter where he’s at on the floor, you HAVE to guard him.  His range is ridiculous.  While Luke Harangody was getting his lunch handed to him by Tyler Hansborough, McAlarney was lighting North Carolina up.  He’s definitely gotten my attention.

Stock Down: Gary Williams.  The natives are restless.  Getting crushed Gonzaga is one thing, we saw what the Zags did to Tennessee, but to get destroyed by your cross-town rival in Georgetown might signal the beginning of the end for Gary.  Now people may want to downplay it, but look at Georgetown’s roster.  They’re killing Maryland in Baltimore and DC.  Gary has to stop that bleeding or he’s going to get run out College Park like Herb Sendek was run out of Raleigh.

First bracket of the year below.  Few thoughts.  I don’t have much to go on.  3-7 games for most teams is way to small of sample to feel comfortable with the bracket, but this is what I do and why not.

SOUTH

1.North Carolina16.Hampton Greensboro, NC

8.Dayton9.Illinois

5.Baylor12.Illinois St Boise, ID

4.Syracuse13.Niagra

6.Wisconsin11.BYU Minneapolis, MN

3.Louisville14.VMI

7.Arizona St10.Nebraska Philadelphia, PA

2.Tennessee15.American

MIDWEST

1.Pittsburgh16.Lamar/Grambling Dayton, OH

8.Florida St9.Washington St

5.Villanova12.George Mason Portland, OR

4.Michigan St13.Long Beach St

6.Davidson11.Minnesota Boise, ID

3.UCLA14.Utah St

7.Marquette10.Rhode Island Kansas City, MO

2.Oklahoma15.Mount St. Mary’s

WEST

1.Duke16.Oakland Greensboro, NC

8.Michigan9.St. Mary’s

5.Georgetown12.Mercer Miami, FL

4.Florida13.Western Kentucky

6.Kansas11.Kentucky Minneapolis, MN

3.Xavier14.Akron

7.Miami(FL)10.Utah Dayton, OH

2.Notre Dame15.Albany

EAST

1.Connecticut16.Cornell Philadelphia, PA

8.Clemson9.California

5.Memphis12.Ohio St Miami, FL

4.Texas13.Butler

6.Wake Forest11.Mississippi Kansas City, MO

3.Purdue14.Jacksonville St

7.Seton Hall10.USC Portland, OR

2.Gonzaga15.Portland St

Published in: on December 2, 2008 at 2:19 am  Comments (3)  
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