BGTD: Evening AnalysisPosted by rtmsf on January 8th, 2011
Things calmed down in the evening session, but that doesn’t stop us from giving you our observations…
- Was It Really Upset Saturday? There’s a longstanding sentiment in our minds that conference losses on the road are rarely, by definition, upsets. Yet today’s string of Ls by Top 25 teams — from #7 Missouri to #24 Central Florida — suggests that this is going to be a wild and wacky conference season this year. None of the “upsets” were earth-shattering; teams like Colorado, Georgia and Oklahoma State have talent and the biggest Vegas spread was eight points (UCF favored over Houston). But today’s results illustrate that outside of a select few teams in the top five, the margins between teams ranked in the top 10 versus the top 50 is exceptionally thin. Does this portend week after week of craziness in college basketball? One can always hope, and if today’s results are any indication, then some of this season’s conference races could be ridiculously competitive.
- Arizona-Stanford Game Postponed. This game was postponed tonight as a result of the horrific shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and several others in her entourage, and it is absolutely the right call. We get pissed as much as the next person from time to time, but to have the kind of mental imbalance to harbor such unbelievable hatred for someone whom you’ve likely never even met is incomprehensible to us. Tucson needs time to mourn and heal, and although the game is only delayed by 24 hours, tonight was not the night for a community to come together and cheer for its team.
- Notre Dame Continues to Impress at Home. The Irish did what so far nobody else in the Big East has been able to do tonight — beat St. John’s. And they did so rather convincingly behind a big 26-point night by Ben Hansbrough. The Irish have beaten three good teams in the Joyce Center — Georgetown, UConn and now the Johnnies. They’ll go on the road next week at Marquette and back against the Johnnies next Sunday. If we were to rank the Big East into tiers as of what we’ve seen through two weeks of action, it would go something like this. 1) Syracuse and Pitt at the top; 2) Villanova, St. John’s and Notre Dame on the next tier; 3) Georgetown, WVU, Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette and UConn on the next tier; and 4) everybody else. The fact that both ND and SJU are on that second tier at this point in the season is surprising, isn’t it?
- Gonzaga Will Not Win the WCC This Year. You heard it here first. We caught part of both of these WCC games tonight, and St. Mary’s again looked more impressive in going to Pepperdine and thoroughly thumping the Waves by 25 points than Gonzaga did at home in beating Portland (by 13). Of course, it helps when you have a senior like Mickey McConnell dropping fifteen dimes (three more than the entire PU team) and one of the nation’s best three-point attacks (41%). The Zags are playing better than they were, but as we saw tonight, they have a bit of a tendency to struggle offensively, going through long scoring droughts when Elias Harris (7 points) isn’t able to get it going.
- Thank You, Mark Fox! We heard the “overrated” chant from Georgia students near the end of the Kentucky game, but didn’t know about Mark Fox’s retort until Jeff Goodman reported it later. Apparently Fox chastised the students to cut it out, stating that UK is a “damn good team” and that maybe Georgia was in fact “underrated.” This chant has been going on at schools forever, but it’s a major pet peeve of ours because it essentially minimizes the accomplishment that the winning team just achieved (i.e., if the team you beat is in fact overrated, then your win isn’t as impressive). So thank you, Mark Fox, and hopefully his admonishment is just one small step to a point where we can eventually stamp out a truly annoying student chant.
- Auburn Reaches an Even New Level of Futility. Really, Auburn? Six points in the first half of your home loss to LSU tonight? We’re not sure whether to be more impressed by the fact that the War Eagles put up a six-point stinker or if it’s that they worked back into it and actually had a chance to win the game. How’d they do it? Try a one (Kenny Gabriel), a two (Scott Chubb) and a three (Gabriel, again), as Auburn bricked its way to an 8% shooting half to cause Auburn fans to boo them heading into the locker room. With the football team playing for the national championship on Monday night, and Tony Barbee’s team finding new ways to look terrible, is there a greater disparity between football and basketball at any other major-conference school in America? We don’t think so.
- Down to Six Unbeatens. It was bound to end sooner or later, but Central Florida’s perfect record went kaput this evening in Houston. We can’t say we’re completely surprised. It’s much easier to get jacked up for games against intrastate big-time schools like Florida and Miami than it is to play an 8-6 Houston team in front of a light crowd. But that’s the problem with putting a target on your back, especially if you’re not used to being in that position. This leaves us with six unbeatens. Syracuse and San Diego State both had tough battles on the road but survived today, while Duke, Ohio State, Kansas and Cincinnati all play Sunday.