That’s Debatable: What We’ve Learned…Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2009
Each week RTC will posit a That’s Debatable question or topic that is relevant to the world of college basketball. Sometimes whimsical, sometimes serious, we’ll post the thoughts from our core editing crew (in 200 words or less), but we’ll also be expanding to include our contributors and correspondents as appropriate throughout the season. We also invite you, the readers, to join us as we mull over some of the questions facing the game today. Feel free to send us your takes and/or leave them in the comments below.
This Week’s Topic: Now that we’re through the majority of the early-season tournaments and the calendar has turned to December, what have you learned from the first several weeks of the season?
zach hayes – editor/contributor, RTC
I’ve learned that the Big Ten may be actually be overrated for once. Purdue picked up a quality win against Tennessee and Michigan State survived Gonzaga at home, but it was a very rough week overall for the conference. Michigan barely beat a Creighton team that ended up losing to Iona and finish in 8th place at the Old Spice Classic, then were crushed by Marquette and fell to Alabama. Illinois saw their freshmen guard duo take some serious lumps in stunning defeats to a down Utah team and Bradley. Minnesota fell to both Texas A&M and Portland in Anaheim. Northwestern’s stock dropped with Kevin Coble’s season-ending injury and their two wins this weekend over two likely-NIT teams in Notre Dame and Iowa State in Chicago aren’t that impressive. Penn State fell to UNC-Wilmington and Tulane in Charleston two weeks ago when Ohio State got demolished by a flawed North Carolina squad. The prevailing thought around college basketball is that the Big Ten can’t play up to the level of other conferences like the ACC, Big East and Big 12. While this year was supposed to change that notion, it has, frankly, only done the opposite for the conference as a whole. Winning the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the first time would certainly change some people’s minds, including myself.
john stevens – editor/contributor, RTC
I’ve learned that, as of right now, the last ten teams listed in any Top 25 you can find are an absolute crap shoot. If you examine the few polls we’ve had this season, you’ll see that pretty much everyone agrees on the first 15 teams, and after that… we don’t know. It’s chaos. I can’t remember a season where we’ve seen such craziness in the bottom half of the polls. This week’s AP and ESPN/USA Today ESPN poll, #37 in the AP. Four of the new teams in the AP poll LOST last week but still got in (two in the Coaches’), while unbeaten Oklahoma State sits at #26 in both. This is all something to celebrate rather than lament, as it just means that there are more really good teams out there than a Top 25 poll can accommodate. I’ll gladly buy any stock in Siena, Dayton, and Mississippi State if anybody’s selling, and you can come see me again in March.are great examples. In the AP, six of the bottom 11 teams are different from the previous week, five in the ESPN/USA Today. California sits at #25 in the
rtmsf – editor/contributor, RTC
I’ve learned that the addition of the right player — a transcendental player — can make people forget about a talented but troublesome trio. I’ve learned that Madison Square Garden has a great media room buffet but shoddy wifi. I’ve learned that this Pastner kid at Memphis might just have a future in the coaching biz. I’ve learned that John Wall is everything we thought he would be, but his teammates need some coach-em-up, Cal. I’ve learned that the Pac-10 is beyond terrible, but there is potential for improvement. I’ve learned that the Big East is nowhere near as powerful as it was last year, but it might just be deeper. I’ve re-learned not to sleep on Lazar Hayward or JaMychal Green or Yancy Gates. I’ve learned the names Matthew Dellavedova, Marshawn Powell and Derrick Williams for the first time. I’ve learned that even great coaches can have down years if the recruits don’t pan out. I’ve learned that mediocre coaches can have up years when they do. I’ve learned that Duke is still Duke, but the Devils cannot afford a backcourt injury. I’ve learned that some old wise men in Morgantown, Minneapolis and Madison can still coach a little. I’ve learned that Jared Stohl is my new favorite player, and he should be yours too.
nvr1983 – editor/contributor, RTC
I have learned that there isn’t a team that stands head and shoulders above the rest of the nation like UNC did last year. Kansas is the only team that has the potential to dominate March and April, but they aren’t even close to a finished product right now. While last year’s had their share of rough moments once they beat the Spartans by 35 in a virtual home game for the Izzos everybody knew that the title was UNC’s to lose. There have been a few memorable performances this season (Syracuse running away from UNC in the 2nd half at Madison Square Garden being the most obvious example), but I can’t think of a single game where a team blew me away. This could change by March, but I really doubt it. What does that leave us with? How does a Tournament with no less than a half dozen teams with a legitimate chance to cut down the nets in Indianapolis sound? I think that is something that we can all look forward to in 2010.