The Other Commonwealth

Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg

While Kentucky gets pub for being a hotbed of college hoops; it’s neighbor to the east isn’t doing too shabby itself. The commonwealth of Virginia is having a great this season with mid-majors and Virginia Tech.

In the Colonial Athletic Association, Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion and George Mason all harbor at-large hopes after performing well in the non-conference. All have sub-60 RPIs and sit atop of the conference.

George Mason has the highest RPI with 29 with a resume, which on the surface, seems to be a bit inflated. However, the OPatriots’ wins against Harvard and Duquesne may become key parts of their profile.

Old Dominion is the second of the three with a RPI of 32, but it has stumbled a bit out of the gate in league play. That still does not fully diminish an extremely impressive non-conference resume which includes wins over Xavier, Dayton, Clemson and Richmond.

Virginia Commonwealth has a rather low RPI for a mid-major trying to get into the tournament as an at-large at 58, but don’t be fooled. This team beat UCLA on a neutral floor and won at Old Dominion. The Rams uptempo style is tough to prepare for and will put them in consideration Selection Weekend.

Virginia Tech checks in with a RPI at 63, but it’s set up so well for the home stretch. This extremely talented squad has a great opportunity to stack up a lot of wins in a power conference. The ACC is indeed down this year, but not to the point where five league losses won’t get you the tournament. That’s realistic for the Hokies in a year they may get them off the snide.

Now we come to Richmond. The Spiders have an RPI of 66, but has one of the best non-conference wins of anybody when the shocked Purdue in Chicago. They also lay claim to a win over Virginia Commonwealth and are sitting pretty in second in 3rd place in the Atlantic 10. This team hasn’t fully lived up to expectations so far, but it is capable of taking home the A-10 regular season championship.

Stock Up: Ohio St. I didn’t believe in the Buckeyes before the season started, but Jared Sullinger has made a believer out of everybody. He may be the toughest cover in college basketball and gives them so many options offensively. Last year was the Evan Turner show in Columbus, but Sullinger and company maybe in for an even better year.

Stock Down: Wake Forest. My apologies to the Auburn Tigers who I incorrectly called the worst BCS conference basketball team in the country last week. It’s clearly Wake Forest. I hope there’s a plan in place, but I didn’t think Jeff Bzdelik was a good hire and so far I’m being proven right. I know he has to get his players to fit his system but the Demon Deacons lost by 35 to Georgia Tech. That’s downright pathetic.

Stock Up: The Showdown in Provo. It might be the biggest game in the history of the Mountain West Conference on Jan. 26 when San Diego St travels to face BYU. Two top-ten teams and one of the best players in the country in Jimmer Fredette will take the national stage in the clear game of the night. So sad that it won’t happen next year with BYU moving on the West Coast Conference.

Stock Down: UCF. It was all good just two weeks ago. It’s not now. UCF has lost four of its five conference games and, in the process, ruined any at-large hopes it was harboring. The Knights have a chance to salvage their season, but they probably need an automatic bid to go dancing.

This Week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: UCLA, Colorado, Richmond, Gonzaga
Last Four Out: Colorado St, Kansas St, Butler, Dayton

Good for games through 1/24/2011

EAST
1.Ohio St16.Tennessee St/Texas Southern Cleveland
8.Utah St9.Boston College
5.Georgetown12.Gonzaga/UCLA Tampa
4.Kentucky13.Harvard
6.Illinois11.Marquette Tucson
3.Texas A&M14.Belmont
7.Tennessee10.UNLV Washington, DC
2.Villanova15.Coastal Carolina
WEST
1.Kansas16.Florida Atlantic Tulsa
8.Arizona9.Temple
5.Florida12.Virginia Commonwealth Tampa
4.Notre Dame13.Oakland
6.Florida St11.Wichita St Charlotte
3.Syracuse14.Hampton
7.Michigan St10.St. John’s Tucson
2.San Diego St15.Northern Colorado
SOUTHWEST
1.Duke16.Long Island Charlotte
8.Cincinnati9.Missouri St
5.Minnesota12.Old Dominion Chicago
4.Missouri13.Charleston
6.Vanderbilt11.Virginia Tech Chicago
3.Purdue14.Bucknell
7.Xavier10.Oklahoma St Washington, DC
2.Connecticut15.Maine
SOUTHEAST
1.Pittsburgh16.Long Beach St/Lamar Cleveland
8.North Carolina9.Georgia
5.Washington12.Richmond/Colorado Denver
4.Wisconsin13.Valparaiso
6.West Virginia11.Memphis Denver
3.BYU14.Ball St
7.Louisville10.St. Mary’s Tulsa
2.Texas15.Fairfield

In Graphical Form

Rock Chalk

Marcus Morris leads the Jayhawks

I haven’t seen a more impressive team this season then Kansas. Coach Bill Self’s squad lost Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich and hasn’t skipped a beat.

The Morris twins are proving to be a load in the paint. Marcus and Markieff are averaging 30 points and 15 rebounds between the two of them and in Mondays game against Baylor, they were unstoppable.

Kansas has also been getting good guard play. Tyshawn Taylor held down the fort for the beginning of the season, but now Josh Selby is in the fold giving them another dimension.

Selby is explosive and can create his own shot and shots for his teammates. The athletic freshman out of Baltimore is hell in Nikes and will burn the Big XII up this year.

Stock Up: San Diego St. The Aztecs have run roughshod over their competition this year. With wins over Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, Wichita St., UNLV and New Mexico, the Aztecs have a very impressive resume. Kawhi Leonard, D.J. Gay and Malcolm Thomas are three of the best players in the nation and come March everyone will become acquainted with them.

Stock Down: Sun Belt. Sun Belt officials tried to come up with strategies to increase at-large bid opportunities for the conference. What’s transpired has been a failure on all levels. The conference has underachieved mightily with no team being more disappointing than Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers went down to the San Juan Shootout hoping to get some quality wins and came back 1-2 with a loss to Davidson. The rest of the conference hasn’t been much better as it is ranked 26 out 31 conferences in RPI. Looks like it might be time to look over the plan for the conference again.

Stock Up: Xavier. It’s almost to the point where it’s like death and taxes with the Musketeers. We shouldn’t be surprised to see them atop the Atlantic-10 again. Year after year they contend for the title and it looks like this year will be no different. They bounced back nicely after their loss to Cincinnati by winning their first three conference games. With a trip to St. Bonaventure followed by two home games, the Musketeers can really distance themselves.

Stock Down: Auburn. How can a BCS conference team be so bad? I know people may be asking if I’ve seen Depaul play. Yes I have live and they’d mop the floor with Auburn. How the Tigers beat Florida St. is beyond me, but they’re already 0-3 in league play and it can get really ugly down the stretch. Thank God for football.

This Week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Marquette, Butler, Cincinnati, Miami (FL)
Last Four Out: Memphis, New Mexico, Dayton, UCLA

Good for games through 1/17

SOUTHWEST
1.Kansas16.Northern Colorado/Morgan St Tulsa
8.North Carolina9.Tennessee
5.Wisconsin12.Xavier Tampa
4.West Virginia13.James Madison
6.Louisville11.Utah St Chicago
3.Purdue14.Vermont
7.Washington10.Gonzaga Washington, DC
2.Connecticut15.Bucknell
WEST
1.Duke16.Austin Peay Charlotte
8.Vanderbilt9.Missouri St
5.Minnesota12.Cincinnati/Butler Chicago
4.Missouri13.Oakland
6.Colorado11.Old Dominion Denver
3.Villanova14.Coastal Carolina
7.St. John’s10.Boston College Tucson
2.San Diego St15.Chattanooga
SOUTHEAST
1.Pittsburgh16.Long Island Cleveland
8.St. Mary’s9.Oklahoma St
5.Florida12.Southern Mississippi Tampa
4.Michigan St13.Ball St
6.Illinois11.Miami(FL)/Marquette Denver
3.BYU14.Belmont
7.Arizona10.Wichita St Tulsa
2.Texas A&M15.Long Beach St
EAST
1.Ohio St16.McNeese St/Jackson St Cleveland
8.Temple9.Georgia
5.Notre Dame12.Harvard Tucson
4.Texas13.Valparaiso
6.Georgetown11.Florida St Charlotte
3.Kentucky14.Iona
7.UNLV10.UCF Washington, DC
2.Syracuse15.Florida Atlantic

In Graphical Form

The Jimmer Show

It's Jimmer's world and we're just living in it

He’s leading the nation in scoring, his team has the No. 2 rated RPI, but can’t get a sniff of a ESPN broadcast. Jimmer Fredette has his BYU cougar squad rolling so far this season and much of that is due to the fact that he’s proving to be unguardable on the college level.

Fredette is leading the nation in scoring at 26.1 per game right now on 48 percent shooting. It doesn’t get much better than that and doesn’t get much better than the Cougars. At 15-1, the Cougars are looking at a possible top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament and a Mountain West Conference title.

Fredette may be the best player in the country and BYU may be the best team out West. BYU has disposed of much of the 14th rated schedule with ease and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t expect it to continue to play great through conference play.

Stock Up: The Big East. Rebuild…how about Reload. If you look below at the bracket, you’ll see 11 teams from the Big East in the field. Now, I don’t believe the Big East will get 11 teams in come March, but I expect to see nine and 10 won’t surprise me. Once again it’s the best conference in America – appearing to be just as stacked at the top as it’s always been.

Stock Down: Mississippi St. I’m not really sure what Rick Stansbury is doing, but he needs to figure out what kind of program he wants to run. Right now he looks like he has no control as he has a player, who was suspended for all of last season and most of this season, get into a fight with a teammate in practice – gets suspended – gets reinstated – and then gets into a fight with another teammate while watching two other teams play a game. I don’t really know how he’s going to bounce back, but it looks like it’s going to be a long season in Starkville.

Stock Up: Central Florida. The team led by Marcus Jordan, son of Michael, is off to a 13-1 start with wins over in-state rivals Florida and Miami. The Knights will have some serious challenges if they want to win Conference-USA, but it looks like they’re primed for one of the best seasons in program history.

Stock Down: ACC. A few years ago the possibility of a team being good enough to go undefeated through the ACC was laughable. Now…it’s pretty realistic. That’s not because Duke is that great, it’s because the ACC is that bad. With Wake Forest and Georgia Tech at horribly bad levels and NC State and Florida St under-achieving, get ready for a lot of whining on Selection Sunday from our friends on Tobacco Road.

This Week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Washington St, Virginia Tech, Richmond, Dayton
Last Four Out: New Mexico, USC, Southern Miss, Colorado St

Good for games through 1/10/2011

EAST
1.Duke16.McNeese St/Jackson St Charlotte
8.Vanderbilt9.Michigan St
5.UCF12.Dayton/Washington St Tampa
4.Missouri13.Harvard
6.UNLV11.Utah St Denver
3.Connecticut14.Coastal Carolina
7.Georgia10.St. John’s Chicago
2.Purdue15.Austin Peay
WEST
1.Syracuse16.Florida Atlantic Washington, DC
8.Minnesota9.Old Dominion
5.Washington12.UAB Tucson
4.Texas13.Charleston
6.Louisville11.Wichita St Chicago
3.Illinois14.Akron
7.Kansas St10.Cincinnati Tucson
2.San Diego St15.Long Beach St
SOUTHWEST
1.Kansas16.Northern Colorado Tulsa
8.Tennessee9.Arizona
5.Wisconsin12.Richmond/Virginia Tech Tulsa
4.Notre Dame13.Hofstra
6.Georgetown11.Gonzaga Charlotte
3.Kentucky14.Belmont
7.North Carolina10.Missouri St Cleveland
2.Pittsburgh15.Bucknell
SOUTHEAST
1.Ohio St16.Morgan St/Hartford Cleveland
8.West Virginia9.Boston College
5.Florida12.Marquette Tampa
4.Texas A&M13.Oakland
6.Temple11.Butler Denver
3.BYU14.Fairfield
7.Oklahoma St10.St. Mary’s Washington, DC
2.Villanova15.Wagner

In Graphical Form

Published in: on January 12, 2011 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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