ATB: No Bad Questions, Just Bad Reporters…

Posted by rtmsf on January 27th, 2009

afterbuzzer1Is It an Upset if Nobody Was There to See It? Ole Miss 85, Kentucky 80. We’ll get to the game in a minute, but did anyone else notice just how empty the premium seats were in the Tad Smith Coliseum tonight?  What gives – an ESPN game against Kentucky, long the standard-bearer of the SEC, and the place is mostly empty at tipoff?  Were all the cows already tipped over in Oxford tonight (sorry, obligatory Mississippi joke)?   Well, all those at-home Mississippians missed a big chance to celebrate in what’s been a trying season at Ole Miss, as the Rebels thoroughly outhustled and outplayed Kentucky in tonight’s win.  Their defense absolutely gobbled up Jodie Meeks every time he touched the ball, holding him to 4-15 from the floor, and generally shutting down everyone else but Patrick Patterson (24/7).  Ole Miss, on the other hand, put three players in the 20+ column (Malcolm White, Terrico White, David Huertas), and it was difficult to believe that we were watching the same team that LSU had obliterated by 32 in Oxford a mere ten days ago.  We have to give credit to Andy Kennedy for this one – it was clear his players believed they could win this game from start to finish despite all the injuries and mayhem, and they did.  By FAR the best part of this game, though, was Billy Gillispie’s response to the dreadful sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards’ questions during the halftime interview.  Remember kids, there are no bad questions, just bad reporters…

Road Team Power.

  • Texas 78, Baylor 72. Baylor just cannot beat Rick Barnes and Texas.  It’s now at 23 in a row, dating back to the Tom Penders era in Austin.  AJ Abrams had 19 pts and Damion James 16/12 for the Horns, who were able to keep the home-team Bears chilly (38%) for most of the night.  The bottom half of the Big 12 is really bad this year, so the Bears should still be safe, but if they ever want to be taken seriously in a national way (much less in the Big 12), they’re going to have to eventually beat Texas or Oklahoma (29 Ls in a row vs. the Sooners).
  • Purdue 64, Wisconsin 63. This just doesn’t happen.  Bo Ryan teams never lose consecutive home games, much less five games in a row.  And yet, the Badgers now sit at 3-5 in the Big Ten race thanks to getting swept by Purdue tonight.  Robbie Hummell hit a key three with just over a minute left to give the Boilermakers the lead for good, and once again Wisconsin was left to do some soul-searching.  The problem for the Badgers is that their usually-reliable defense is far from it right now – Purdue connected on nearly 60% of its shots tonight, in its last four losses teams have hit at least 47%, and teams are shooting a full 5% higher against the Badgers this year than last.

ACC Tuesday Night.

  • NC State 84, Miami (FL) 81 (OT). The Hurricanes are really confounding this season.  Looking at their personnel on the floor, you can easily see a team that will finish in the top five of the ACC and make the NCAA Tournament.  Instead, when you look at their resume, you quickly realize that the only likely tourney team they’ve beaten was Kentucky nearly two months ago.  Games like tonight surely don’t help – they shot 49% and outrebounded the Wolfpack by 11, yet still lost the game when NCSU freshman Julius Mays drilled a by-the-way three with 2.6 seconds remaining in OT to win it (see below video).  Miami had better get it going soon because games vs. Wake, UNC and at Duke are looming.
  • Boston College 76, Maryland 67. When is Gary Williams going to hang it up in College Park?  Three days after taking it up the arse at Duke for their worst loss ever in that once-illustrious series, the Terps came back home to blow a sixteen-pt first half lead in yet another head-scratcher.  With only one NCAA Tourney win in the last four seasons (soon to be five), when will the Terp faithful put an end to what is clearly a coach who is simply riding out the string.  As for BC, the Eagles won their third league game in a row to go to 4-3 in the conference, and what’s even more surprising is that their motor, Tyrese Rice, didn’t even play all that well (10/6 assts).  It appears that BC is going to be good enough to compete with Virginia Tech, Miami and Florida St. for the bubble spots in the ACC this year – their schedule is favorable to be at .500 or better the rest of the way.

Some Other Scores.

  • Eastern Kentucky 73, Austin Peay 70 (OT). EKU got the home upset to bring Austin Peay back to the pack a little in the OVC race.
  • Utah 94, BYU 88 (OT). BYU shot half as many FTs but missed just as many at Utah (9), and that was the key difference in the OT.  Utah’s Luke Nevill blew up for 32/10.
  • Northeastern 68, VCU 63. NE got a huge road win to take over sole possession of first place in the CAA despite Eric Maynor’s 30 pts and a furious comeback that fell short for VCU.
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Running Into Frantz Pierre-Louis…

Posted by rtmsf on January 27th, 2009

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC Conferences. 

IRVINGTON, NJ – Never know who you will meet up with. The past weekend did not bring any games to go out and cover but there were officiating assignments. On Saturday morning was a grade school doubleheader at the Good Shepherd Academy in Irvington. Worked the two girls games which were followed by the boys. After my games I spoke with a gentleman who arrived at half time of the second girls contest. Frantz Pierre-Louis, a dominant Northeast Conference player in his late nineties days at Wagner, was there to watch his son who plays on the 5-6th grade boys team.

frantz-pierre-louis

Pierre-Louis had a great career at Wagner and we spoke of his days in the NEC when teams were chasing the likes of LIU with sharp shooting Charles Jones. “I really enjoyed the league,” Pierre-Louis said. “I saw a lot of double teams (even occasional triple teams) but it was a great time.”

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Lesson Learned: Get Your Money’s Worth Next Time

Posted by rtmsf on January 27th, 2009

Remember a couple of weekends ago when the brother of Providence player Jeff Xavier nonchalantly ambled out of the crowd, climbed over the PC bench, and proceeded to give the ref the whatfor over a non-call on a drive involving his sibling?  Just to refresh your memory of this bizarre incident, here’s the video:

Guess what? 

We know you’ll be floored by this news, but big bro Jonathan Xavier is currently on probation for three drug convictions in Rhodie in 2005.  He served eight months in the state clink and has spent the rest of the time trying to keep himself out of trouble.  Until two Saturday nights ago.  Now, according to the Providence Journal, he’s being held without bail until he appears at a preliminary hearing to determine whether he violated the terms of his probation on Feb. 10.   And it doesn’t look all that good for him.

“The baseline condition of anyone’s probation is to keep the peace and be of good behavior,” Healey said. “In plainspeak, stay out of trouble. So what’s driving this is the attorney general’s belief that Jonathan Xavier’s conduct was not only offensive but dangerous and, therefore, cannot be tolerated.”

AP/Michael Dwyer)

Xavier Didn't Get His Money's Worth (photo credit: AP/Michael Dwyer)

With over five years remaining on Xavier’s original sentence, his little stroll to politely inquire about a foul may end up costing him way more than he could have imagined.  Frankly, for that much hard time in the pipeline, he should have decked the ref, the offending player from Marquette (Joseph Fulceand Buzz Williams for good measure.   

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Checking in on… Conference USA

Posted by rtmsf on January 27th, 2009

Allen R of Houston Basketball Junkies is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA.

  1. Memphis: 15-3 (5-0)
  2. Houston: 12-5 (3-1)
  3. UCF: 13-6 (3-2)
  4. UAB: 13-7 (3-2)
  5. Tulsa: 13-7 (3-2)
  6. Southern Miss: 12-6 (2-2)
  7. Tulane: 8-10 (2-2)
  8. UTEP: 11-8 (2-3)
  9. East Carolina: 10-8 (2-3)
  10. Marshall: 9-10 (2-3)
  11. SMU: 6-11 (1-4)
  12. Rice: 6-13 (1-4)

There wasn’t any lack of excitement this week and in some cases that excitement was also coupled with a bit of controversy.

In fact the Houston basketball program tested the adage that “any publicity is good publicity” during this past weekend when they played Arizona. However there were other storylines from the past week of action, albeit a bit less controversial than the aforementioned incident.

1.) Stompgate ’09:  The unfortunate incident that made the most headlines this past weekend began with Arizona forward Chase Budinger drawing a charge call after a collision with Houston guard Aubrey Coleman. After the conclusion of that play, Coleman stepped on Budinger’s face in an act that looked equal parts negligent and malicious. Naturally this act enraged Budinger who was assessed a technical foul for his retaliation following the stepping. But the worst punishment was saved for Coleman, who was ejected for the flagrant foul. After watching the video of the incident and the reactions of both players, I’m convinced that Coleman deserved to be ejected and could have shown a lot more remorse immediately following the act. But the act itself was in my opinion, an attempt to show dominance over Budinger by stepping over him instead of around him. Something went horribly wrong in between and now we have a major headline story. It’s worth noting that Coleman’s had no other incidents this year at Houston or on his previous team at Southwest Mississippi Junior College. In the end, before rushing to crucify the young Mr. Coleman, we all must think of the “he who is without sin” line.  Following the game, Coleman gave what appeared to be a sincere and remorseful apology.

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The Mark Gottfried Effect: The SEC Is Wising Up On Its Coaches

Posted by rtmsf on January 27th, 2009

There’s news coming out of Tuscaloosa tonight that doesn’t involve Nick Saban (although Utah’s demolition of the Tide a month ago may have led to this unrelated breaking news).  No, the crimsontided stepchild of Alabama’s athletics program is the one driving the needle tonight – Mark Gottfried’s Philip Pearson’s basketball program.  Er, formerly Mark Gottfried’s basketball program.

Flickr.com

Photo Credit: Flickr.com

Today Alabama announced that Mark Gottfried, arguably the second most successful coach in Bama history (behind the irascible Wimp Sanderson), resigned amidst criticism over the state of his program in light of Ronald Steele’s decision to leave the school last week.  (although if you believe in msg board chatter,  using the word “resignation” is irresponsible; Gary Parrish concurs…)  From the AP report:

Gottfried, who played at Alabama, said he quit during a meeting with athletic director Mal Moore.  “It has been a wonderful decade for me and my family, and I love the University of Alabama, but I feel that it is in the best interests of everyone involved,” Gottfried said in a statement released by the university.  Gottfried’s teams have missed the NCAA tournament the last two years, and the coach was criticized over the recent departure of point guard Ronald Steele, a preseason first-team AP All-American pick two years ago, who later was hit by injuries. The school blamed Steele’s departure on a recent injury, but Steele said there was more to his decision than that.

There’s absolutely more to it than this.  A generation ago, a coach in the SEC with the success of Mark Gottfried could have stayed for thirty years and eventually had a practice facility named after him (Dale Brown comes to mind).  No longer.  Today in the era of million-dollar salaries and what-have-you-done-for-me-lately performance evaluations, even in the football-centric SEC (minus Vandy, Kentucky and Arkansas), “good enough” is no longer good enough.  Just last year, LSU canned John Brady, an Xs & Os charlatan who two years prior had parlayed a couple of great recruits into a very unlikely Final Four run.  They replaced him with a well-respected rising star in coaching, Trent Johnson (at $1.2M per, reportedly, of course).  At South Carolina, Dave Odom was invited to retire after he had taken the Gamecocks to two NIT titles and an NCAA Tournament in the last five years.  Darrin Horn already has matched the win total (14) of Odom’s last season with virtually the same roster.   Over in Athens at Georgia, Dennis Felton is currently walking the Bataan death march with his 310th most efficient offense and is expected to be replaced at the end of this season even after his unprecedented run in the SEC Tournament last year.

This Used to be Good Enough at Bama

This Used to be Good Enough at Bama

A sea change in philosophy is moving through the SEC in basketball.  Mark Gottfried is a competent head coach.  He recruits fairly well, his players generally stay out of trouble and graduate, and he occasionally had a good enough team to make a little noise in March, but nobody would ever have confused him for Hank Iba.  That used to be good enough for a football school like Alabama.  Or LSU.  Or South Carolina.  But times are changing, and those schools have seen how all-inclusive athletic prowess can build a national “brand” such as at Florida, Ohio St. and Texas that benefits the entire athletic program (and school at-large).  Basketball is a key component of that equation, and therefore it doesn’t surprise us in the least that Gottfried is now gone (before he got a chance to make a late-season run and “save” his job).

Memo to VCU’s Anthony Grant, you might want to answer any calls that come from The 205 this spring.

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ATB: Code Red at Notre Dame

Posted by rtmsf on January 27th, 2009

afterbuzzer1

News & Notes. A couple of really bad ideas tonight…

  • Please make this stop immediately.
  • One game?!?! Dude stepped on Chase Budinger’s FACE.  CUSA should be ashamed of itself for this penalty.   Well, he was sorry, guess that makes it all better.

Notre Dame is in Serious Trouble. Marquette 71, Notre Dame 64. The Irish are now sitting at four losses in a row, with the following four games on tap: @ Pitt, @ Cincy, @ UCLA, Louisville.  Ridiculous.  This is the kind of stretch that can derail an entire season.  At 12-7 (3-5) after tonight’s second straight home loss, Notre Dame is staring the NIT right in the face if they can’t come out of this tailspin soon.  Kyle McAlarney is most to blame for this downslide, as he has shot a putrid 14-45 in the last three games – without more production from him, the Irish aren’t going anywhere.  The Big East isn’t for the faint at heart, and it appears that Georgetown and ND have been the most negatively affected by its strength to date.  As for Marquette, who had the Warriors Golden Eagles at 7-0 in this conference?  They just continue to surprise, getting big nights from any one of their four stars in a given game (tonight’s stud was Jerel McNeal with 27/4).  And the Eagles may not be done yet – with their upcoming schedule, it’s not preposterous to imagine that Marquette could be 13-0 going into its last five conference games on Feb. 21 (which are very tough).  We still wonder what will happen to MU when they play someone with legitimate size (their studs average 6’3 in height), but it hasn’t hurt them yet.

Oklahoma is Getting No Love From the MediaOklahoma 89, Oklahoma St. 81. In tonight’s Bedlam game, Oklahoma continued its relatively quiet march through the Big 12 (now 6-0) with efficient precision, shooting a ridiculous 58% and withstanding twelve threes from OSU to win its twentieth game of the year.  Why isn’t this team getting more attention?  They have arguably the best player in the country in Blake Griffin (who had his 17th dub-dub tonight with 26/19), they are highly efficient on both ends of the floor and they rebound like maniacs.  Oh, and they haven’t had a close game in their last eight (since the anomalous Arkansas loss four weeks ago).  OSU put up a good fight, cutting the Sooners’ 14-pt lead to only one with seven minutes remaining, but OU responded with what else – going to their NPOY candidate time and time again for kickouts and foul opportunities.   OU should continue its winning ways for at least three more games until a trip to Baylor on February 11th.

On Tap Tuesday (all times EST).

  • Kentucky @ Ole Miss (ESPN) – 7pm. It really wouldn’t surprise us if UK went 16-0 in the SEC this year.  Really.  The league is that bad.
  • Maryland v. Boston College (ESPN2) – 7:30pm. This is an interesting matchup of potential ACC bubble teams.  Both need this one badly.
  • Texas @ Baylor (ESPN360) – 9pm. Baylor’s looking a little shaky of late (losing 3 of 6); they need to protect their home court.
  • Purdue @ Wisconsin (ESPN) – 9pm. Two teams heading in opposite directions – can UW salvage their season?
  • VCU v. Northeastern (ESPNU) – 9pm. Game of the Night that nobody can watch.  The top of the CAA is up for grabs.
  • BYU @ Utah (The Mtn) – 10pm. Act 1 of the Holy War.
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Set Your Tivos: 01.27.09

Posted by nvr1983 on January 26th, 2009

Set Your TivosI don’t think there is any game tonight that really stands out as “Game of the Night”, but there are several intriguing games tonight. I know that everyone is waiting for the “Title Bout” tomorrow night (Duke at Wake Forest).

  • Boston College at Maryland at 7:30 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: Normally I wouldn’t include a game featuring two unranked teams from BCS conferences, but these have been two of the more confusing teams this year. BC finally appears to recover from the hangover (4-game losing streak) following their big win over UNC. The Eagles are led by All-ACC guard Tyrese Rice, who, like his team, has shown flashes of brilliance (25 points on 7/13 FG, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds in the big UNC win) and been awful at other times (6/18 FG against Miami and 6/19 FG against Virginia Tech). Al Skinner will need a solid performance out of Rice along with Joe Trapani to pick up a big road win at struggling Maryland. As for the Terrapins, I’m not even sure what to say about a team that trailed by as much as 44 points against its rival after its star player (Greivis Vasquez) called out the opposing team and its fans. I would check out this game if only to see the look on Gary Williams‘s face at the start of the game after what happened at Cameron on Saturday.
Rough Day at the Office (BaltimoreSun.com)

Rough Day at the Office (BaltimoreSun.com)

  • #12 Texas at Baylor at 9:00 PM on The Big 12 Network, ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com: Baylor is looking to bounce back after getting blown out at Oklahoma on Saturday. The good news for the Bears: The game isn’t on the road where they have just 5-30 in the Big 12 in the last 5 season. The bad news for the Bears: Texas is ranked and Baylor is just 1-18 in their last 19 games against ranked opponents. To stay in the upper half of the Big 12, Baylor will need to get solid performances out of Curtis Jerrels and LaceDarius Dunn. The Longhorns come in tonight looking at what is most likely their last tough game before a surprisingly easy stretch of six Big 12 games before they get another shot at Oklahoma in Austin. Rick Barnes will look to A.J. Abrams and Damion James (fresh of a 28-point performance in his last game) to come up big for the Longhorn, who should be a top 10 team heading into their rematch against Oklahoma if they win tonight.
  • #17 Purdue at Wisconsin at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: After starting its conference season with 3 wins, the Badgers have lost 4 in a row and are in jeopardy of falling out of contention for a NCAA bid unless they right the ship quickly. As a result of a quirk in Big Ten scheduling, Wisconsin will be attempting to do it against Purdue, the team that they started their skid against just 16 days ago. Bo Ryan will need a solid effort out of Joe Krabbenhoft and hope that the Badgers can limit the production out of E’Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, and JaJuan Johnson. On the other sideline, a win in Madison would position Matt Painter‘s crew to challenge Illinois and Michigan State for the Big Ten title.
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Checking in on the… Missouri Valley

Posted by nvr1983 on January 26th, 2009

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 and Missouri Valley Conferences.

Current Records and My Standings (Conference Record) (Last Week Rank)

  1. Northern Iowa (14-6) (8-1)(1)
  2. Illinois State (17-3) (6-3)(2)
  3. Bradley (12-8) (6-3) (4)
  4. Drake (14-7) (5-4) (3)
  5. Creighton (15-6)(5-4) (5)
  6. Evansville (12-7) (4-5) (6)
  7. Southern Illinois (9-11) (4-5) (7)
  8. Wichita State (9-11) (3-6) (9)
  9. Missouri State (9-11) (2-7) (8)
  10. Indiana State (4-16) (2-7) (10)

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Checking in on the… Big 12

Posted by rtmsf on January 26th, 2009

Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 and Missouri Valley Conferences.

Current Records and my standings (Conference Standings) (Last Week)

  1. Oklahoma (19-1)(5-0) (1)
  2. Texas (14-4) (3-1) (2)
  3. Kansas (15-4)(4-0) (4)
  4. Missouri (17-3) (4-1) (6) 
  5. Baylor (15-4) (3-2) (3)
  6. Oklahoma St. (13-5) (2-2) (8)
  7. Texas A&M (15-5) (1-4) (5)
  8. Texas Tech (11-8) (1-3)(11)
  9. Nebraska (12-6) (2-3) (7)
  10. Iowa St. (12-7) (1-3) (9)
  11. Kansas St. (12-7) (1-4)(10)
  12. Colorado (8-10) (0-4) (12)

As expected, the top of the Big 12 was going to be dominant in conference play this season with a Missouri team really starting to look good.  Baylor and Texas A&M have struggled as of late and they need to get things turned around quickly. 

GAME OF THE WEEK

Oklahoma 72, Nebraska 61—This game had all the drama and the wakeup call needed for Oklahoma.  Nebraska came out with a stifling defense to start the game and double and triple-teamed Blake Griffin and basically took him out of the game.  The Huskers were up 6 at halftime and in the 2nd half, they were not able to play Griffin as well as they did in the first half.  Griffin went 7-8 in the 2nd half from the field and Nebraska was not able to score for  about 5 minutes down the stretch.  By the time they were able to start scoring again, it was too late. 

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Blake Griffin, Oklahoma—Though I considered DeMarre Carroll (Missouri), Sherron Collins (Kansas) and Craig Brackens (Iowa St.), I have to go with Griffin as he continues to dominate the games he is in and averaged 23 points and almost 18 rebounds a game this week.    He didn’t even play that much the 2nd half against Baylor.  He is well on his way to Player of the Year.

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A Trip to West Point for Army-Navy

Posted by rtmsf on January 26th, 2009

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is an RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC Conferences.  He took in the Army-Navy game at West Point yesterday.

WEST POINT, NY – Everyone is familiar with the tradition, pageantry and intensity of Army-Navy. When these two distinguished service academies get together, even if its backgammon, it’s something special. On Sunday the two met for the 109th time. Navy entered Christl Arena 14-5 (3-1 Patriot League) while Army was 4-13 (0-3). It is a cliché but when these two meet you can throw out the records.

img_0067

On Sunday you could have assumed both clubs entered 0-0. Army established an early seven point lead on a pair of Julian Simmons three pointers. The remainder of the first half the Cadets kept the lead around double digits thanks to some good old fashioned Army defense. The Midshipmen shot 26% the first half and had only seven field goals as they trailed 33-26 at intermission. Shades of Bobby Knight.  And why not as Army coach Jim Crews played for the ‘General’ at Indiana.

The second half saw Army expand the lead to seventeen points. Offensively the Cadets were in a good groove on both ends. The offense ran well and defense shut down Navy. Until late.  Down the stretch the Midshipman found the range from three and made a run. They got it down to a two possession game with under a minute left. Those final seconds saw Army get enough stops and hit enough free throws to seal the 76-71 victory.

Cleveland Richard of Army led all scorers with 17 points. Adam Teague of Navy started strong and finished strong. For a better part of the game he was defended but still wound up hitting five treys and leading Navy with 16 points.  “Army played a great game,” Navy coach Billy Lange said. “They defended great which is traditional Army basketball. I think by the end of the year Army will prove to be a very good basketball team and challenge the upper echelon of our (Patriot) league.”

Crews was pleased with the offense, which had been dormant, and the defensive effort over the course of the contest. “We sustained,” Crews said in reference to the tight finish. “They (Navy) can score in bunches and when you go out to stop their three point shooters they can go right around you.”  Crews noted that Army-Navy is a rivalry ”known around the world.” He also made a very good point noting that the basketball rivalry becomes more intense because both schools share the same conference affiliation.

img_0066

A good hard fought rivalry such as Army-Navy is something special to behold. The neatly attired Cadets and Midshipman cheering their teams. Both institutions bringing bands, a mascot and cheerleaders. The post game playing of the alma mater of  both schools, with a packed house silently standing in reverence and respect. The epitome of good sportsmanship with not a verbal obscenity to be heard. Even the drive to Cristl Arena as you pass famed Miche Stadium along the winding hill with the majestic Hudson in your rear view mirror.

Yes, Army-Navy is special. Anytime. Everytime.

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Checking in on the… ACC

Posted by rtmsf on January 26th, 2009

Ryan ZumMallen of the LBPostSports is the RTC correspondent for the ACC, SEC and Big West Conferences. 

There’s been a little grumbling thus far that the ACC is not the nation’s strongest top-to-bottom conference, but as the week begins we will likely see another one of its squads perched at #1.  In case you missed it, Virginia Tech jumped out to a 24-12 lead over then-#1 Wake Forest and never looked back, defeating the nation’s final undefeated team on Wednesday.

So who is waiting in Wake’s… wake?  Why none other than the #2 Duke Blue Devils, who made their case for the top slot with a crushing 85-44 win over Maryland three nights later.  Duke also smashed NC State earlier in the week, 73-56.  The Krzyzewskis have the country’s top RPI rating and only one loss, so whether or not it’s the best conference, we’ll probably see an ACC team in the #1 ranking for the ninth week out of eleven this season. 

If you’re not a fan of having an ACC team at the top of the rankings, I would direct you to your nearest television set this Wednesday, when a scorned Wake Forest will look for vengeance against the Blue Devils.  It will be interesting to see how the Deacons respond to being knocked off their perch, and whether Duke can hold their newfound position on the road.

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Set Your Tivos: 01.26.09

Posted by nvr1983 on January 26th, 2009

Set Your TivosA really weak set of games tonight and only one really worth watching. To be honest, this is a surprisingly weak week of games. I would say there are only a handful of games that I would consider worth watching this week, but I’ll get to that in another post.

Game of the Night (The only one worth watching)
#10 Marquette at #19 Notre Dame at 7 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: This game might answer some of the questions I posed this weekend about the Big East. I think the conference is not as good as everyone says they are. I think there are only 3 great teams (Pittsburgh, UConn, and the reborn Louisville Cardinals) and a whole bunch of borderline teams. I am actually starting to think the ACC would match-up pretty well against the Big East if you account for the Big East having approximately 1/4th of D-1 in the conference.

While Marquette has an impressive record (17-2), they have not faced a good team all year (Villanova is questionable and that game was at home). A win at Notre Dame would certainly erase some of the doubts that many in the media have. Do I count as the media? Even though Notre Dame’s aura of invincibility in South Bend went up in smoke on Saturday against UConn, winning there will still be quite challenging. Buzz Williams, who has done a good job replacing Tom Crean, will need big games out of Wesley Matthews, Jerel McNeal, Lazar Hayward, and Dominic James if he wants to steal one in South Bend and have his Golden Eagles stake a legitimate claim as a Big East title contender.

That said, how likely is it that the Irish, who had a three-year, 45-game home winning streak snapped on Saturday night by UConn, would lose two in a row at home?  Not very.  Mike Brey’s team went stone cold in that game, shooting a miserable 33%, highlighted by Kyle McAlarney’s 12 bricks in a row (after starting 3-3) and a combined 2-15 from Zach Hillesland and Ryan Ayers.   Luke Harangody was the only scorer that showed for ND in that game (particularly in the second half when UConn’s defense was spectacular), so I expect that we’ll see a much-better Irish team tonight.  They sorta have to win this game – they’ve already lost their last three and a trip to Pittsburgh looms next.  A five-loss losing streak could crush this team’s confidence. 

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