ATB: Another Night, Another Bad Loss in the SEC West…Posted by rtmsf on December 14th, 2010
The Lede. What a ho-hum evening of basketball. There were 19 games on the slate, but only a couple of them were even mildly interesting. Get used to it. There is a smattering of games throughout the week, but things don’t really heat up again until Saturday when most schools are finished with exams and heading into the holiday break.
Your Watercooler Moment. The SEC West should consider seceding from the rest of the conference and joining the Southland. After yet another embarrassing home loss to a low-major team tonight when LSU lost in overtime to Coastal Carolina, 78-69, the SEC’s redheaded stepchild of a division seemingly cannot get any worse. Consider that in the first six weeks of this season, the six division members have lost to the following laundry list of national powers: Campbell, Jacksonville, ETSU, UNC-Asheville, Nicholls State, Samford, St. Peter’s and Florida Atlantic. They have a combined eighteen losses already, which is more than the top twelve teams in the Big East and makes you wonder if Cam Newton has mesmerized everyone from Birmingham to Baton Rouge down there. According to Pomeroy, the top team (Ole Miss) is the 60th best team in America, and the bottom (Auburn) is 210th, which puts this division roughly on par with the Missouri Valley Conference. Yet if we put together a hypothetical SEC West/MVC Challenge, we’re pretty confident in asserting that the one-bid Valley would roast this sad-sack collection of southern teams. Well, the good news is that four of the SEC West division teams rank in the bottom 75 schedules in the country so far, proving that even when you try to cook the books by loading up on easy wins in the non-conference season, the basketball gods may have something else in mind.
Five Games in Five Days. If it feels like Mississippi State has been playing an awful lot lately, it’s because they have been. Tonight they beat Nicholls State 67-58 behind Ravern Johnson’s 23/4, but you’ll forgive the Bulldogs if they’re running out of steam. You see, on Saturday they played and lost to ETSU 63-62; yesterday the Bulldogs defeated NC A&T 74-58; and tomorrow, they’ll play Alabama State in Starkville. Want more? Well, on Wednesday, MSU will play its fifth game in five days, this time an exhibition against Belhaven College. Honestly, we’ve never heard of anything quite like this where a school purposefully scheduled this sort of gauntlet, but there is a rhyme to the reason behind it. Dee Bost’s nine-game suspension handed down by the NCAA didn’t take place until after the end of the fall semester, which was officially on Saturday. So the school put together this schedule (along with upcoming games against Virginia Tech, St. Mary’s and three games at the Diamond Head Classic) so that Bost would be able to play in their SEC opener against Alabama on January 8. We’re not sure if this is pure insanity or utter brilliance, but it’s certainly unique.
Tonight’s Quick Hits...
- SDSU Minus Kawhi Leonard & Chase Tapley. Down two starters due to illness, the rest of the Aztecs gutted through one of those games that ends in a big-time upset if you allow it to. Sure, it was exceptionally ugly — a 16-15 halftime score is all you really need to prove that — but Malcolm Thomas went for 18/15 and the SDSU defense held Cal Poly to only 29% from the field in order to secure the win and move to 11-0 on the season.
- Northwestern Still Unbeaten. They’ve been very quietly going about their business so far this season, but Northwestern’s win over LIU, 81-65, moved the Wildcats to 6-0, its best start in seventeen years. With three more cupcakes between now and their Big Ten opener against Purdue on New Year’s Eve, the Wildcats are in good position to start 9-0. This record will not help the RPI all that much because of the weak schedule, but more importantly, it may help the confidence of a team (and fanbase) who is still looking for its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
- Well, It Is Called the Badger State. With Wisconsin’s well-balanced win tonight over Green Bay, Bo Ryan’s team took the crown as the top team in the Badger State for the 2010-11 season. In consecutive games over the last six days, Wisconsin beat Milwaukee, Marquette and GB, the first time since the 2006-07 season that the Badgers have turned the in-state hat trick.
- Literally, 0-18. Not many teams will be without two of its best players and shoot 0-18 from three and still win, but San Diego State is one of those teams. Guard DJ Gay brought in a 48% stroke from distance this season, and left with a 42% one after an 0-7 outing. Just one of those nights, but SDSU was lucky to get this win.
Tweet of the Night. With the news that Rick Pitino will take over the coaching reins for the Puerto Rican national team, the jokes kept coming. Here’s the best: