Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride — Just Beginning…

Posted by rtmsf on June 12th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West conferences and an occasional contributor.

When we first started looking at all the possible ramifications of Big Ten expansion and the ensuing conference realignment, we knew this was going to be crazy. This week, as the first dominoes have officially fallen, we’re getting a better feel for just how crazy it is, as new rumors fly by the hour and every move that gets made signals another set of decisions that need to be discussed and everybody’s got an opinion about what could happen, what should happen, and what will happen.

Today, another couple dominoes fell, as Nebraska officially announced its agreement to join the Big Ten and Boise State officially announced its intention to join the Mountain West. Not only do both announcements end days, weeks, even months of speculation and at the same time trigger a whole new round of speculation, each comes with something of a surprised attached.

First, Nebraska, the biggest domino (at least until Tuesday). While the announcement was expected today after a wild week, there were plenty of surprises tied in with the announcement, the biggest and boldest being that rather than begin play in the Big Ten in 2012, they hope to kickoff the 2011 season playing in the Big Ten, meaning next year may well be the last year of existence of the Big 12, and likely a wild and emotional one at that. Other surprises include the fact that according to what was said today, it was Nebraska that first approached the Big Ten about membership, rather than the other way around, and the comment by Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said that they weren’t likely to be interested in any further Big 12 schools. While that last little bit of BCS-conference commissioner gossip may be little more than game-of-telephone talk, it cannot do anything to comfort Missouri, who more and more looks like they will be left out of the Big Ten when the wheeling and dealing is done.

Nebraska’s move will likely trigger the full-fledged collapse of the Big 12, as Texas drags most of the rest of the Big 12 west to the new Pac-16 superconference, something we saw as a possibility six weeks back, but perhaps never really believed. There are still questions as to who else beyond Texas will make it to the Pac-16, as Texas A&M is in serious talks with the SEC regarding a new home for the Aggies there, possibly with Virginia Tech, although other schools ranging from other Big 12 schools to ACC football powers could still be in the mix there. Oklahoma has also been tied to SEC rumors, but their athletic director Joe Castiglione said yesterday that they would be following Texas’ lead and the Oklahoman reported today that OU and OSU are definitely heading west, although they will wait until Texas makes their decision official to follow suit. As of right now, it looks like Texas will announce on Tuesday their intention to join the Pac-10, and sometime after that, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech will follow, with the 16th spot going to Texas A&M if they are willing to take the leap. If not, Kansas and Utah seem to be the most likely candidates. Also note that with the Nebraska announcement that they will begin play in the Big Ten in 2011, it is possible that the Pac-16 will also be in effect that same year, one year earlier than expected.

Speaking of Utah, they are, for the time being, conference mates with Boise State in the Mountain West, a move that makes an already strong conference even stronger, at least football-wise. (As an aside, we’ve talked about how this conference realignment action really shows that basketball is the red-headed step-child to football, and just to drive that point home, the first three dominoes in the chain reaction, Colorado, Nebraska and Boise State, are all complete non-factors in college basketball). The Boise State announcement was originally expected on Monday, but after last weekend’s eruption of rumors regarding the Pac-16, et al, both the Mountain West Conference and Boise State found it prudent to take a step back and re-assess their position in the case of the Pac-16 becoming a reality and the Big 12 dissolving. Clearly, they found that as the rumor became reality this week, the dissolution of the Big 12 did not hurt the conference, and in fact, may provide the conference the opportunity to grow. Teams like Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri may be within reach for the Mountain West, with Kansas being the most attractive target, but also perhaps the least likely get. Baylor would be a very good fit for the conference as a regional partner for TCU, but all of the Big 12 leftovers will at least get a look from MWC commissioner Craig Thompson. Thompson confirmed on Friday that he has already been in contact with some Big 12 institutions and sees this as an opportunity for the MWC to get better.

What’s next?

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Big East: We Won’t Sit Idly By and Wait For the Big Ten Pillagers

Posted by rtmsf on May 28th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-10 conferences and an occasional contributor.

There was plenty of news that came out of this week’s Big East spring meetings: elimination of the double-bye in the Big East basketball tournament and the approved use of high-definition monitors for football replays (consider me amazed that this wasn’t the norm already), but there was also the underlying issue of the looming Big Ten expansion and how that will affect the Big East.

The most interesting line of the week came from rookie Big East commissioner John Marinatto, who said he is playing the Bud Fox to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany’s Gordon Gekko (two characters from the 1987 movie Wall Street). “I feel like I’m Bud Fox and he’s Gordon Gekko,” Marinatto said. “He’s always honest and helpful with me. He’s brilliant and creative — just like Gordon Gekko — he knew all the corners to cut. He understands the landscape.” While the quote comes across as mostly complimentary towards Delany, it also underlines the fact that this is a high-stakes business situation, and begs the question as to whether greed is indeed good for the NCAA and its conferences.

Greed is Good?

But, despite Marinatto’s respect for his sparring partner here, he also made it clear that with all that is at stake for the Big East, they are not just sitting idly by and waiting to see what the Big Ten is going to do.  When the Big East lost Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech to the ACC in 2004 and 2005, the Big East was able to respond by adding all-sport schools Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida and basketball-only schools DePaul and Marquette to create a new and improved version of the conference, one that morphed into arguably the best basketball conference in the country. But with the Big Ten rumored to be interested in current Big East schools like Connecticut, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Syracuse (amongst others), once again they are on the defensive. “I look at this situation as another threat certainly,” Marinatto said. “It would be irresponsible not to be concerned about it. We’re trying to position ourselves as best we can. In my mind, you always play out what it is you might do, but we certainly can’t do that in a public forum.”

Fortunately, we, and others, can do that in a public forum. The New York Post has reported that representatives from the Big East have already had discussions with Atlantic 10 schools like Dayton, Duquesne, St. Joseph’s and Xavier about possibly joining up in the event of the Big East losing teams to the Big Ten. There has been speculation elsewhere about schools like Buffalo, Central Florida and East Carolina as all-sport replacements in case of the potential loss of, for instance, Pitt and Syracuse. And there is even continued talk about the Big East laying down an ultimatum to Notre Dame: join us in football or leave us in the rest of your sports. The thinking here is that even if Notre Dame decides to leave and is left without a home for its non-football sports, it would be more apt to join up with the Big Ten, perhaps saving schools like Syracuse and Pitt from its elongated reach.

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On Conference Realignment and the Consolidation of Power

Posted by rtmsf on April 27th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences and an occasional contributor.

Overview

College sports fans dodged a major bullet last week when the NCAA announced that the men’s basketball tournament would only be expanding to 68 entrants, rather than the 96-team field that had been widely rumored. However, the face of college sports as we know it is still in jeopardy, as the specter of widespread conference realignment still looms, with the much-speculated-upon expansion of the Big Ten as the key domino that could start a wave of changes leaving the college sports landscape drastically altered.

The elephant in the room issue is the consolidation of power away from the existing six BCS conferences and into a smaller number of “superconferences” with the possibility looming that once any realignment sorts itself out and we’ve got four 16-team conferences, those conferences break away from the NCAA and form their own structure. As Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins puts it: “At some time, the major conferences are going to have their own quasi-NCAA. They’re going to do their own thing.” Former Syracuse AD Jake Crouthamel was even more specific, saying that eventually the Big Ten, ACC, SEC and Pac-10 would expand and ultimately leave the NCAA, even to the point of forming their own competing basketball tournament: “If you look at the history of what’s been going on for the last decade, I think it’s leading in that direction.”

We Promise It Won't Get This Complicated

The potential expansion of conferences detailed below is not the first shot fired in the consolidation of power, but the next step in an already-existing series of moves that has widened the financial gap between the biggest athletic departments and the rest of the supporting cast. And, as those at the top get bigger and bigger, the underdogs not only fall behind in terms of funding, but they may ultimately be left completely behind: no more Boise State and Utah to steal BCS bowl spots from big-money institutions during the winter, and no more Butler and George Mason sneaking into the Final Four in the spring. While that type of doomsday scenario is still several decision points down the line, what happens in the Big Ten over the next twelve months or so could be the monumental tipping point to drastically move things in that direction.

At present, the most widely rumored targets for Big Ten expansion are Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Syracuse from the Big East and Nebraska and Missouri from the Big 12, although as always occurs when the Big Ten thinks about expansion, Notre Dame is in the mix and likely their number one choice. With the Pac-10 also in the midst of contemplating expansion within the next year, these moves could send a ripple effect throughout all of the Division I conferences causing some conferences to get bigger, others to contract, and even some to disappear.  While the specifics remain conjecture and speculation at this point, there are enough common-sense scenarios out there to fuel theories to create one of the most helter-skelter flowcharts ever seen. We’ll take a look conference-by-conference at what could happen, and what kind of fallout might be created by each move, starting with our eleven midwestern friends.

Big Ten

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany confirmed last Wednesday that his conference is considering not only expanding to 12, but also perhaps even 14 or 16 teams. While some of the rationale for the expansion would be the addition of a football championship game for more revenue, the accumulation of more content and more markets for the Big Ten Network is probably more important to their plans. Delany noted that while discussions for this expansion are ongoing, the 12-18 month timetable that was originally announced in December is still the current framework.

Starting with the first domino, there is little doubt that the Fighting Irish would be the Big Ten’s first choice and the most logical fit for the conference, in terms of geography, academics and, frankly, football. Notre Dame and the Big Ten have flirted with each other many times in the past, but there is likely a greater chance that they will consummate their relationship this time around than any time before. For the Big Ten, the attraction is obvious: a huge fan base in historic “Big Ten country,” a ton of athletic history, and excellent academics. For Notre Dame, however, the question is a lot tougher. The Irish have been a football independent throughout their history and current athletic director Jack Swarbrick recently said that their “highest priority is maintaining football independence.” Notre Dame is currently in the middle of a television contract with NBC for the rights to broadcast home football games, a contract that runs through 2015 and an issue that will need to be confronted somehow if the Irish are eventually invited and accept Big Ten membership. The amount of the NBC deal (about $15 million annually) is not prohibitive enough to prevent them from considering membership in the Big Ten, whose member schools currently receive about $20 million annually from their television contracts. It is even possible that if the Big Ten and Notre Dame can come to an agreement, all this expansion talk will end right there: Notre Dame joins up, the Big Ten stops at 12 teams, the Big East poaches a team from CUSA like Central Florida as an additional football school and geographic partner to South Florida or a basketball-only school from the A-10 like Rhode Island or Massachusetts and the end-of-the-world scenario is averted. At present, however, it is being reported that Notre Dame is not being considered in the Big Ten’s expansion plans (a report that nobody in their right mind believes), but if Notre Dame is interested, the Big Ten will certainly be interested as well.

Figure 1: Big Ten Best Case Scenario

However, it is also realistic that with or without Notre Dame, the Big Ten is aiming for 14 or 16 teams to become the first superconference. While the addition of teams such as Missouri and Nebraska makes the most geographic sense, this expansion thing is not really about logic but about dollars, and Delany seems most interested in all the potential viewers that the bigger east coast markets present — notably Rutgers and Syracuse, but also Pittsburgh and potentially Connecticut. Adding three or even all four of those schools would effectively kill Big East football as we know it and potentially damage the Big East basketball enough to persuade a fence-sitting Notre Dame to leap off onto the Big Ten side as well. Swarbick himself admitted in March that “there are things that are large enough to challenge our ability to remain independent and remain in the Big East.” All four (or even three) of those flagship Big East programs bolting for the Big Ten could be one of those “large enough” things.

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Some Notes from the Mountain West & WAC Tourneys

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC is covering several of the conference tournaments from the sites. We have RTC correspondents Andrew Murawa at the Mountain West Tournament and Kraig Williams at the WAC Tournament this weekend.  In addition to live-blogging select games throughout the tournament, they will both post a nightly diary with thoughts on each day’s action. Here are the submissions for last night’s games.

Mountain West Tournament Quarters

  • After a long day and a drive from Los Angeles, I got into the Thomas & Mack Center to see TCU down only four to BYU just about halfway through the second half. Just a couple of minutes later, the Cougars had extended the lead to double figures and the only intrigue left was how much Jimmer Fredette would score. TCU threw everything they had at him, including sophomore point guard Ronnie Moss just wrapping his arms around Fredette’s waist at times, but it was no use. Fredette did it every way: deep threes, pull-up jumpers, taking it to the hole and, of course, hitting 23 of his whopping 24 free throw attempts on his way to 45 points (a MWC Tournament record), including 30 in the second half. And, if that weren’t enough, he added six assists as well.
  • Inside of a minute into the UNLV/Utah game, it was obvious it was going to be a physical game. Both teams tried to exploit the other teams inside, and Utah did so to the tune of 36 free throw attempts (of which they made 31). But if the Utes weren’t getting to the line, they were building a chimney; they made just 13 of their 40 field goal attempts, mostly because UNLV defenders were in their faces constantly.
  • It’s been said before I’m sure, so you won’t mind if I say it again: UNLV getting to play this tournament on their home court every year is a huge advantage. While there were pockets of Utah fans, this was little different than a UNLV home game.
  • After the Utes got three unanswered threes (by Marshall Henderson, Luka Drca and Chris Hines) wrapped around a David Foster rejection to cut what was a 13-point Rebel lead to just four at the half, the start of the second half was electric in the arena. But an early 12-3 run by the Rebels broke things back open and the rest of the half was the Runnin’ Rebels living up to their nickname.

WAC Tournament Quarters

(1) Utah State 84, (8) Boise State 60

  • If Utah State has a weakness it’s against pressure defenses. Boise State was able to hang in the game at halftime trailing by just five by turning the Aggies over and getting easy baskets in transition.
  • If you’ve followed WAC basketball at all this season you may wonder why Utah State’s Brian Green hits his elbow and points to the sky after every game. The answer? “These are my guns, I just reload them.” Green unloaded for 18 against Boise State, which was tied for the game high with both Tai Wesley and Pooh Williams.
  • Boise State fans don’t really like Greg Graham. Will he be joining Hawaii’s Bobby Nash in the WAC coaches unemployment line?

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WAC Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2010

Sam Wasson of bleedCRIMSON.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

It’s finally here, do or die time. The WAC tournament will begin on Thursday, March 11, for the eight teams who earned their way in. All eight teams feel like they have a shot to win the whole enchilada but in reality there are probably only five teams that have a chance. History is also not on four teams’ side as only once has a team seeded lower than #4 won the conference tournament as #5-seed Hawai’i pulled off the feat in the 2001 WAC Tournament. Utah State is the favorite as they ran roughshod over the WAC for a second straight season. Nevada is also a favorite but their lack of depth and need to win three games in four days will be something to keep an eye on. New Mexico State is the league’s second highest scoring team and perhaps most physically talented team, however, they are also the league’s worst scoring defense having given up at least 80 points in seven of their 16 conference games. Louisiana Tech was strong in the first half of the season but faltered down the stretch. They could get hot and run the table as well as they have wins over every WAC team except New Mexico State (whom they would not potentially face until the championship game). San Jose State is the darkhorse in the equation. They boast the league’s leading scorer in Adrian Oliver and they have the pieces in place to make a run. However, they too have fallen on tough times losing three of the final four conference games. Unfortunately for them their path to the title game goes through New Mexico State and potentially top seeded Utah State and that’s even before playing in the title game.

There is one team missing from the conference tournament and that is the University of Hawai’i. Not only did Hawai’i not play its way into the WAC tournament last week losing twice on the road, they played their coach out of a job. The University of Hawai’i announced on Monday that head coach Bob Nash would not be returning next season. The Warriors have fallen on tough times since winning the conference tournament in back-to-back seasons to start the new century. The Warriors won in 2001 and again in 2002 earning the automatic bid and then were NIT bound in 2003 and 2004 but have gone 85-93 in their past five seasons combined after amassing an 85-45 record from the 2000-01 season through the 2003-04 season.

Final Standings (conference tournament seeding order)

  1. Utah State, 25-6 (14-2)
  2. Nevada 19-11 (11-5)
  3. New Mexico State, 19-11 (11-5)
  4. Louisiana Tech, 22-9 (9-7)
  5. Fresno State, 15-17 (6-10)
  6. San Jose State 14-16 (6-10)
  7. Idaho, 15-15 (6-10)
  8. Boise State, 15-16 (5-11)

OUT) Hawai’i, 10-18 (3-13)

All-WAC Honors

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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on March 3rd, 2010

Sam Wasson of bleedCRIMSON.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

As the WAC enters its final week of regular season play, Utah State has clinched at least a share of the WAC regular season title for the third consecutive season. The navy-clad Aggies earned the share with a 76-39 pasting of Fresno State. New Mexico State takes to the road with a chance to tie for the regular season title as the crimson-clad Aggies will face Nevada and Utah State. At the bottom of the standings it’s three teams — Idaho, Hawai’i and Boise State — fighting for the final two spots in the conference tournament which begins next week.

Current Standings

  • 1) Utah State, 24-6 (13-2)
  • 2) New Mexico State, 19-9 (11-3)
  • T3) Louisiana Tech, 22-7 (9-5)
  • T3) Nevada 17-11 (9-5)
  • 5) San Jose State 14-14 (6-8)
  • 6) Fresno State, 14-17 (6-9)
  • 7) Idaho, 13-15 (4-10)
  • 8) Hawai’i, 10-18 (3-11)
  • 9) Boise State, 13-16 (3-11)

Team Breakdowns

Boise State, 13-16 (3-11)

The week’s results:  02/25 W @ Louisiana Tech, 72-59, 02/27 L @ New Mexico State, 95-92

Upcoming games:  03/04 vs. Hawai’i, 03/06 vs. San Jose State

After looking like they were going to be the odd man out of the conference tournament just a week ago, the Broncos have been re-energized by a road split at Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State. BSU pulled off the stunning upset over La. Tech, winning by 13 points, and then nearly pulled off another shocker mounting a huge second half comeback before falling just short by three at New Mexico State. The Broncos can play their way into the tournament as they host Hawai’i and San Jose State to end the regular season. A split by the Broncos could still end their season as Hawai’i would then own the tiebreaker over Boise State and a pair of losses would guarantee their missing the conference tournament.

Fresno State, 14-17 (6-9)

The week’s results:  02/23 W vs. Cal State-Bakersfield, 79-68, 02/27 L @ San Jose State, 72-45, 03/01 L @ Utah State, 76-39

Upcoming games:  03/04 vs. Louisiana Tech

The Bulldogs had a disastrous week of conference play, losing on the road at San Jose State and at Utah State by 27 and 37, respectively. In both games Fresno State was down big at halftime. FSU hosts Louisiana Tech on Senior Night in Fresno but a loss could drop them all the way to the seventh seed in the conference tournament.

Hawai’i, 10-18 (3-11)

The week’s results:  02/26 L vs. Utah State, 61-50, 02/28 W vs. Nevada, 74-63

Upcoming games:  03/04 @ Boise State, 03/06 @ Idaho

The Warriors finally broke through by snapping a nine-game losing streak, eight of those in conference. It couldn’t have come at a better time for Hawaii as their win over Nevada on Saturday came on a tumultuous day that saw the islands threatened by a tsunami. It was coupled with a loss by Boise State at New Mexico State and enabled the Warriors to have a chance to play their way into the WAC tournament in the final week of the regular season. Hawai’i will travel to the mainland to face Boise State and Idaho. UH lost to Idaho and defeated Boise State on the islands in the first meeting but all that matters to the Warriors is winning two games this week and they’re in the conference tournament.

Idaho, 13-15 (4-10)

The week’s results:  02/24 L @ New Mexico State, 74-57, 02/27 L @ Louisiana Tech, 60-49

Upcoming games:  03/04 vs. San Jose State, 03/06 vs. Hawai’i

After looking like they had earned themselves a spot in the conference tournament, the Vandals are in danger of missing it after getting swept on the road at New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech. Combined with stunning victories by Hawai’i vs. Nevada and Boise State at Louisiana Tech, the Vandals have just a one-game lead over the two schools with two games left to play. Idaho will host San Jose State and Hawai’i. The Vandals just need one victory to earn their spot in the conference tournament, however, they would certainly want to win both to ensure they don’t drop to the eighth seed and have to face Utah State or New Mexico State in the first round.

Louisiana Tech, 22-7 (9-5)

The week’s results:  02/25 L vs. Boise State, 72-59, 02/27 W vs. Idaho, 60-49

Upcoming games:  03/04 @ Fresno State, 03/06 @ Nevada

The Bulldogs finish the week on the road visiting Fresno State and Nevada with a chance to lock up the third seed in the conference tournament. Louisiana Tech was stunned by Boise State and dropped into fourth place but they were aided when Hawai’i returned the favor against Nevada to tie things up between the Wolf Pack and Bulldogs.

Nevada 17-11 (9-5)

The week’s results:  02/25 W @ San Jose State, 83-79, 02/28 L @ Hawai’i, 74-63

Upcoming games:  03/04 vs. New Mexico State, 03/06 vs. Louisiana Tech

The Wolf Pack split a pair of road games last week but are assured a top four finish in the conference. Nevada can lock up second place in the league behind Utah State if they can take care of business at home against New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech.

New Mexico State (19-9, 11-3)

The week’s results:  02/24 W vs. Idaho, 74-57, 02/27 W vs. Boise State, 95-92

Upcoming games:  03/04 @ Nevada, 03/06 @ Utah State

New Mexico State took care of business at home last week to set themselves up for one of the biggest road trips they’ve had in a long time. A pair of wins would give the Aggies a share of the regular season title with Utah State and the number one overall seed in the WAC tournament. A split would give them second place in the league but a pair of losses could potentially drop them to the three seed.

San Jose State 14-14 (6-8)

The week’s results:  02/25 L vs. Nevada, 83-79, 02/27 W vs. Fresno State, 72-45

Upcoming games:  03/04 @ Idaho, 03/06 @ Boise State

The Spartans split a pair last week but moved up to fifth place in the league where they’ll look to stay with a pair of games at Idaho and at Boise State. SJSU is looking for their best conference record and finish in over ten seasons. Should the Spartans lose both games they could potentially drop to the seven seed.

Utah State, 24-6 (13-2)

The week’s results:  02/25 W @ Hawai’i, 61-50, 03/01 W vs. Fresno State, 76-39

Upcoming games: 03/06 vs. New Mexico State

The UtAgs clinched at least a share of the WAC’s regular season title for the third consecutive season with a pair of victories over Hawai’i and Fresno State. Utah State will look to win the title outright as they host New Mexico State on Saturday. The crimson Aggies are one of only two losses suffered by Utah State in conference play this season. The UtAgs have already avenged their only other loss when they defeated Louisiana Tech.

UPCOMING GAMES

  • 03/04 – Nevada vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 03/04 – Idaho vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 03/04 – Boise State vs. Hawai’i – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 03/04 – Fresno State vs. Louisiana Tech – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 03/06 – Boise State vs. San Jose State – 3:15 p.m. MT
  • 03/06 – Idaho vs. Hawai’i – 5:00 p.m. PT
  • 03/06 – Utah State vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m.
  • 03/06 – Nevada vs. Louisiana Tech – 8:00 p.m. PT
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 24th, 2010

Sam Wasson of bleedCRIMSON.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

The top four teams in the league put on an strong showing in the ESPNU BracketBusters on Saturday with Utah State, New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech all picking up victories in their nationally televised games. Nevada came up just short against Missouri State leaving the league with a 3-1 record. The rest of the league did not fare as well as the remaining five teams went 1-4 in their BracketBusters games with San Jose State being the only team to win their non-conference matchup.

With BracketBusters out of the way, fans now turn their attention back to the league race. It’s down to the final two weeks of play and the top four teams still all have a chance to win the league. Utah State leads the race to the finish line at 11-2. Just behind the Aggies are the league’s other Aggies, New Mexico State at 9-3. Louisiana Tech and Nevada are tied at 8-4 in third place. The path to the regular season title appears to heads through Logan, UT, as the UtAgs finish with two of three at home including a showdown with second place New Mexico State. NM State hosts the Idaho schools before closing out the season on the road at Nevada and Utah State. Nevada likewise finishes with two on the road and two at home as they’ll head to San Jose and Honolulu this week before returning home to face New Mexico State and La. Tech. La. Tech also hosts the Idaho schools before finishing the season at Fresno State and at Nevada. With quality competition among the top four it’s anyone’s guess how the top four seedings will shake out but it’s guaranteed to be an exciting finish.

Current Standings

  1. Utah State, 22-6 (11-2)
  2. New Mexico State, 17-9 (9-3)
  3. Louisiana Tech, 21-6 (8-4)
  4. Nevada 16-10 (8-4)
  5. Fresno State, 13-15 (6-7)
  6. San Jose State 13-12 (5-7)
  7. Idaho, 13-13 (4-8)
  8. Hawai’i, 9-17 (2-10)
  9. Boise State, 12-15 (2-10)

Team Rundowns

Boise State, 12-15 (2-10).  The Broncos split a pair of games against Big West foes as they defeated Cal State-Bakersfield 81-62 but fell 82-74 to UC Davis in an ESPNU BracketBusters game. The Broncos are fighting not only for their postseason lives but potentially their coach’s job as well. The Broncos head out on the road to face top half foes La. Tech and NM State this week. The Broncos lost by 15 to the Bulldogs in Boise while they were more competitive against the Aggies falling by just three.

The week’s results:  02/17 W vs. Cal State-Bakersfield, 81-62, 02/20 L vs. UC-Davis, 82-74

Upcoming games:  02/25 @ Louisiana Tech, 02/27 @ New Mexico State

Fresno State, 13-15 (6-7).  The Bulldogs lost a close contest to Big West leading UC Santa Barbara on Saturday in an ESPNU BracketBusters game. Fresno State had a chance to take the lead late in the game but a three pointer from Paul George clanked off the back of the rim and UCSB held on for the win. Up next for Fresno is a pair of in-state games against CS-Bakersfield and then a showdown at San Jose State, a battle for fifth place in the league and a chance to showcase two of the league’s most dynamic players in Paul George and Adrian Oliver.

The week’s results:  02/20 L vs. UC-Santa Barbara, 64-60

Upcoming games:  02/23 vs. Cal State-Bakersfield, 02/27 @ San Jose State, 03/01 @ Utah state

Hawai’i, 9-17 (2-10).  The slide continues for the Warriors as they’ve dropped eight in a row. Hawai’i fell on the road by 24 at New Mexico State in a game that wasn’t even that close. Then in an ESPNU BracketBusters game that the injury-riddled team would rather have not been playing, the Warriors lost to Cal Poly 102-89, again a game not nearly as close as the final margin indicated. UH fell behind by 21 points at halftime but to their credit they scored 59 points in the second half. Unfortunately for Warrior fans, the Mustangs scored 51 points in a half where defense was clearly optional. Hawai’i hosts Utah State and Nevada this week and perhaps the 59 point outburst is a sign that the Warriors are ready to emerge from the dark tunnel of losing.

The week’s results:  02/15 L @ New Mexico State, 88-64, 02/20 L vs. Cal Poly, 102-89

Upcoming games:  02/26 vs. Utah State, 02/28 vs. Nevada

Idaho, 13-13 (4-8).  The up and down season for the Vandals continues as they dispatched Seattle 82-72 only to fall to Long Beach State two nights later in the BracketBusters. Idaho appears to have clinched their spot in the WAC Tournament but need to win at least one more game to mathematically clinch a spot. UI travels to second place New Mexico State for a nationally televised game on ESPN2 followed by a trip to third place Ruston to take on La. Tech.

The week’s results:  02/18 W vs. Seattle, 82-72, 02/20 L vs. Long Beach State, 77-66

Upcoming games:  02/24 @ New Mexico State, 02/27 @ Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Tech, 21-6 (8-4).  The Bulldogs were two plays away from finishing the week 2-0 and two plays away from finishing the week 0-2. Instead they came away with a 1-1 record. A bad pass late in the game cost the Bulldogs a potential rare victory in Logan against Utah State but in their ESPNU BracketBusters game it was a banked three pointer by DeAndre Brown that gave the Bulldogs a 70-67 win over Northeastern. LTU hosts the Idaho squads this week before closing out the regular season on the road. The question for the Bulldogs is was the Northeastern victory enough to put them on the bubble? Aside from a loss at San Jose State, La. Tech doesn’t really have a bad loss. Their two non-conference losses were at New Mexico, a Top 15 team, and at Arizona. Conference losses to New Mexico State and Utah State are certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

The week’s results:  02/17 L @ Utah State, 67-61, 02/20 W @ Northeastern, 70-67

Upcoming games:  02/25 vs. Boise State, 02/27 vs. Idaho

Nevada 16-10 (8-4).  The Wolf Pack snuck out a victory over Fresno State 74-70 and lost a close game against Missouri State in the ESPNU BracketBusters. UNR head on the road to San Jose and Hawai’i this week. The game against the Spartans won’t be easy as SJSU has beaten both New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech earlier this season in San Jose and the trip to Hawai’i is never easy due in large part to the travel requirements. A road sweep this week will set up a demanding final week in which the Wolf Pack can potentially earn a regular season title with some help from Utah State’s opponents.

The week’s results:  02/17 vs. Fresno State, 02/20 @ Missouri State

Upcoming games:  02/25 @ San Jose State, 02/28 @ Hawai’i

New Mexico State (17-9, 9-3).  The crimson-clad Aggies earned a pair of victories last week with a 24-point win over depleted Hawai’i and then an 84-78 BracketBusters win over Pacific. NM State is now 5-0 in the BracketBusters event and they continued their domination of Pacific having won 30 of 38 meetings between the two schools. The Aggies host the Idaho schools this week. A home sweep will give the Aggies a chance to win at least a share of the regular season title with the northern navy-clad Aggies.

The week’s results:  02/15 W 88-64 vs. Hawai’i, 02/20 W @ Pacific, 84-78

Upcoming games:  02/24 vs. Idaho, 02/27 vs. Boise State

San Jose State 13-12 (5-7).  The Spartans earned the WAC’s only non-televised BracketBusters victory with their 77-66 win over Montana State. Up next for SJSU is Nevada and Fresno State at home. A home sweep can move Spartans up in the league standings and potentially set themselves up for a shot at a finish as high as fourth. The game at home against Fresno State gives the Spartans a chance to shine on national television on ESPNU.

The week’s results:  02/20 @ Montana State

Upcoming games:  02/25 vs. Nevada, 02/27 vs. Fresno State

Utah State, 22-6 (11-2).  The Aggies had the best week in the league defeating a pair of 20-win teams at home. Utah State escaped with a win over Louisiana Tech, 67-61, and dispatched of one of the Missouri Valley’s best in Wichita State, 68-58. USU has won 12 in a row and with an RPI of 33 has to be considered a strong bubble team. However, losses to Long Beach State (13-14) and Utah (12-14) don’t look good on the resume. The UtAgs can close out a regular season title if they’re able to take care of Hawai’i and Fresno State which could set up a one-game playoff for the regular season title and the top seed in the WAC tournament if the crimson-clad Aggies take care of their end of things.

The week’s results:  02/17 vs. Louisiana Tech, 02/21 vs. Wichita State

Upcoming games:   02/25 @ Hawai’i, 03/01 vs. Fresno State

UPCOMING GAMES

  • 02/23 – Fresno State vs. Cal State-Bakersfield – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 02/24 – New Mexico State vs. Idaho – 9:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)
  • 02/25 – San Jose State vs. Nevada – 7:00 p.m. PT (Comcast SportsNet California)
  • 02/25 – Louisiana Tech vs. Boise State – 7:00 p.m. CT
  • 02/25 – Hawai’i vs. Utah State – 7:00 p.m. HT
  • 02/27 – Louisiana Tech vs. Idaho – 7:00 p.m. CT
  • 02/27 – San Jose State vs. Fresno State – 7:00 p.m. PT (ESPNU)
  • 02/27 – Hawai’i vs. Nevada – 7:00 p.m. HT (Comcast SportsNet California)
  • 02/27 – New Mexico State vs. Boise State – 7:00 p.m. MT (KTVB-Boise, AggieVision-New Mexico)
  • 03/01 – Utah State vs. Fresno State – 7:00 p.m. MT (Bulldog Sports Network)
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 16th, 2010

Sam Wasson of bleedCRIMSON.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

After starting out conference play 0-2 the Utah State Aggies have stormed their way to the top of the conference. The Aggies are winners of ten straight and at 10-2, have a game and a half lead over second place New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech. The bottom of the league is starting to clear itself up as well as Idaho has gotten warm at the right time to move into seventh place. Boise State and Hawai’i are battling for the final conference tournament spot.

This weekend the WAC steps out of conference as they take on their BracketBusters foes highlighted by 20-6 Utah State hosting 20-6 Wichita State, 15-9 New Mexico State traveling to 16-8 Pacific, 20-5 Louisiana Tech traveling to 17-9 Northeastern and 15-9 Nevada traveling to 17-8 Missouri State. Additionally, Fresno State will face Big West leading UC-Santa Barbara. The rest of the WAC will face members from the middle of the standings in the Big West.

Current Standings

  1. Utah State, 20-6 (10-2)
  2. New Mexico State, 15-9 (8-3)
  3. Louisiana Tech, 20-5 (8-3)
  4. Nevada 15-9 (7-4)
  5. Fresno State, 13-13 (6-6)
  6. San Jose State 12-10 (5-7)
  7. Idaho, 12-12 (4-8)
  8. Hawai’i, 9-15 (2-9)
  9. Boise State, 11-14 (2-10)

Team Breakdowns

Boise State

The week’s results: 02/07 L vs. Idaho, 79-55, 02/11 L vs. Utah State, 72-67, 02/13 L vs. Nevada, 88-80 (OT)

Upcoming games: 02/17 vs. Cal State-Bakersfield, 02/20 vs. UC-Davis

The Broncos have dropped three in a row and sit in last place in the WAC and with a loss at eighth place Hawai’i earlier in the conference season, the Broncos appear to be the team on the outside looking in at the postseason. They’ll need to start winning some games and hope for some help from the Hawai’i opponents as the conference schedule winds down if they hope to make the eight-team conference tournament. The Broncos step out of conference this week to face a pair of Big West foes in Cal State-Bakersfield and UC-Davis as part of the ESPN BracketBusters event.

Fresno State (13-13, 6-6)

The week’s results:  02/06 W @ Hawai’i, 61-51, 02/11 W vs. New Mexico State, 83-64, 02/13 L vs. Idaho, 68-59

Upcoming games:  02/20 vs. UC-Santa Barbara

The Bulldogs continue their up and down season. Following wins over Hawai’i in Honolulu and a beating of then-first place New Mexico State, the Bulldogs followed up with a loss at home to seventh place Idaho, 68-59. The Bulldogs were swept by the Vandals this season and sit two games ahead of the Vandals with four tough conference games remaining as they will play three of their final four conference games on the road at Nevada, at San Jose State and at Utah State before closing out the season with Louisiana Tech. Their sweep at the hands of Idaho could play a big factor in the seedings in the conference tournament.

Hawaii (9-15, 2-9)

The week’s results:  02/06 L vs. Fresno State, 61-51, 02/13 L @ Louisiana Tech, 66-60

Upcoming games:  02/15 @ New Mexico State, 02/20 vs. Cal Poly

It continues to be close but no cigar for the extremely shorthanded Warriors. Hawai’i has now lost six games in a row and outside of a 23-point loss to San Jose State in SJ, the Warriors have lost five of those six games by 10 points or less and four of those by six or less. Head coach Bob Nash received more bad news as guard Jeremy Lay will miss the remainder of the season due to injury. The Warriors take on second place New Mexico State before hosting Cal Poly for their ESPN BracketBuster game.

Idaho (12-12, 4-8)

The week’s results: 02/07 L @ Boise State, 79-55, 02/10 L vs. Nevada, 67-66, 02/13 L @ Fresno State, 68-59

Upcoming games:  02/18 vs. Seattle, 02/20 vs. Long Beach State

The Vandals avenged their stunning home loss to in-state rival Boise State by taking them to the woodshed in the return game. The Vandals handed BSU their worst loss in the rivalry series. Idaho followed that win up with an oh-so-close loss to Nevada in which they led by two points with six seconds left before losing on a three point play by Nevada’s Armon Johnson. The Vandals regrouped to knock off Fresno State who was coming off a big victory over New Mexico State. Idaho hosts a pair of non-conference games when Seattle and Long Beach State come to Moscow.

Louisiana Tech (20-5, 8-3)

The week’s results:  02/08 L @ New Mexico State, 70-68, 02/13 W vs. Hawai’i, 66-60

Upcoming games:  02/17 @ Utah State, 02/20 @ Northeastern

After leading the WAC through the first half of the conference schedule, the Bulldogs have gone 3-3 in their past six games and have a very long road trip for a pair of tough upcoming games, at Utah State and then all the way back across the country to face Northeastern in a televised ESPN BracketBusters game. The Bulldogs were the last team to beat Utah State when they trounced the Aggies 82-60 in Ruston.

Nevada (15-8, 7-4)

The week’s results:  02/06 L @ Utah State, 76-65, 02/10 W vs. Idaho, 67-66, 02/13 W vs. Boise State, 88-80

Upcoming games: 02/17 vs. Fresno State, 02/20 @ Missouri State

The Wolf Pack lost on the road at Utah State, 76-65, and stole a victory in Moscow 67-66 on a three-point play with under six seconds left to stun Idaho. Nevada then outlasted Boise State 88-80 in overtime. The Wolf Pack sit just one game behind both Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State with both teams still facing road trips to Reno. They’ll host Fresno State before heading on the road to face Missouri State in their ESPN Bracketbusters game.

New Mexico State (15-9, 8-3)

The week’s results:  02/06 W vs. San Jose State, 94-82, 02/08 W vs. Louisiana Tech, 70-68, 02/11 L @ Fresno State, 83-64

Upcoming games: 02/15 vs. Hawai’i, 02/20 @ Pacific

The Aggies briefly moved into first place with a pair of victories over visiting San Jose State and Louisiana Tech but fell back into a tie for second place after a loss to Fresno State in their building.  Against Louisiana Tech, the Aggies saw a 32-point swing as they were down by 15 points in the first half and up by 17 points in the second before holding on for a two-point win. In the loss against Fresno State the Aggies had one of their worst free throw shooting performances as they finished the game 9-of-26 from the free throw stripe. They had a higher shooting percentage from the three point line, 9-of-22, than they did from the charity stripe. The Aggies will look to bounce back against a depleted Hawai’i squad before heading west to face Pacific in their ESPN BracketBusters game.

San Jose State (12-12, 5-7)

The week’s results:  02/06 L @ New Mexico State, 94-82, 02/13 L vs. Utah State, 81-65

Upcoming games:  02/20 @ Montana State

The Spartans have now lost four in a row and dropped to 5-7 in the league after suffering Ls at New Mexico State and at Utah State. The Spartans play just one game, their ESPN BracketBusters game on the road against Montana State this weekend, one of two consecutive games outside the conference as they’ll face Seattle before heading down the home stretch in conference.

Utah State (20-6, 10-2)

The week’s results:  02/05 W vs. Nevada, 76-65, 02/11 W @ Boise State, 72-67, 02/13 W@ San Jose State, 81-65

Upcoming games: 02/17 vs. Louisiana Tech, 02/21 vs. Wichita State

The Aggies find themselves atop the conference with just four conference games left and with only one of the three games on the road they have the inside track to the regular season title. If they can win out and reach the title game of the WAC tournament, they could have a strong case for an at-large bid with wins over BYU and a would-be win over Wichita State. The Aggies can build that case for an at-large if they can defeat Wichita State this Saturday, however, losses to Long Beach State and Utah in the non-conference don’t help their cause.

UPCOMING GAMES

02/17

  • Nevada vs. Fresno State – 7:00 p.m. PT (Comcast SportsNet)
  • Boise State vs. Cal State-Bakersfield – 8:15 p.m. MT
  • Utah State vs. Louisiana Tech – 9:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)

02/18

  • Idaho vs. Seattle – 7:00 p.m. PT

02/20

  • Northeastern vs. Louisiana Tech – 1:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
  • Missouri State vs. Nevada – 2:00 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
  • Idaho vs. Long Beach State – 5:30 p.m. PT
  • Montana State vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • Pacific vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m .PT (ESPNU)
  • Hawai’i vs. Cal Poly – 8:00 p.m. HT
  • Utah State vs. Wichita State – 10:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)
  • Boise State vs. UC-Davis – TBA
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 5th, 2010

Sam Wasson of bleedCRIMSON.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

Three sets of three teams, that’s how the standings look as the nine teams look to start the second half of the conference schedule. The top three teams are Utah State, winners of seven in a row, Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State. The middle tier is led by Nevada with the two California schools, San Jose State and Fresno State close behind. Then there are the bottom three teams. Boise State, Idaho and Hawai’i are all 2-7 in conference play and it appears that the three will battle for the final two spots in the WAC tournament.

Current Standings

  1. Utah State, 17-6 (7-2)
  2. Louisiana Tech, 19-4 (7-2)
  3. New Mexico State, 13-8 (6-2)
  4. San Jose State 12-10 (5-5)
  5. Fresno State, 11-12 (4-5)
  6. Boise State, 11-11 (2-7)
  7. Idaho, 10-11 (2-7)
  8. Hawai’i, 9-13 (2-7)

This week the ESPNU BracketBusters pairings were announced and the league received four televised games in the event.

  • Sat., 2/20, Louisiana Tech at Northeastern, 1 p.m. (ESPN2 HD / ESPN360.com)
  • Sat., 2/20, Nevada at Missouri State, 3 p.m. (ESPN2 HD / ESPN360.com)
  • Sat., 2/20, New Mexico State at Pacific, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Sat., 2/20, Wichita State at Utah State, 11:59 p.m. (ESPN2 HD / ESPN360.com)

The other five teams also face non-conference opponents as part of the event but their games will not be televised.

  • UC Santa Barbara at Fresno State
  • San Jose State at Montana State
  • Long Beach State at Idaho
  • UC Davis at Boise State
  • Cal Poly at Hawai‘i

The WAC will certainly look to put its best foot forward in the BracketBusters event as two teams, New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech, will face conference leaders Pacific and Northeastern respectively while Nevada and Utah State will face two teams from The Valley in Missouri State and Wichita State.

Team Breakdowns

Boise State (11-11, 2-7)

The week’s results:  01/30 W vs. Fresno State, 65-49

Upcoming games:  02/07 vs. Idaho, 02/11 vs. Utah State

The Broncos have won two in a row in conference play after handling a Paul George-less Fresno State squad 65-59 in Boise. The Broncos led for most of the game and never trailed in the second half. Daequon Montreal and Kurt Cunningham each scored 13 points while Paul Noonan hit four three-pointers to finish with a dozen points. The Broncos earned a season split with Fresno State with the win and moved into a three-way tie for 7th place along with Idaho, their next opponent, and Hawai’i.

Fresno State (11-12, 4-5)

The week’s results:  01/30 L @ Boise State, 65-49

Upcoming games:  02/06 @ Hawai’i, 02/11 vs. New Mexico State

It appears the effects of losing leading scorer Paul George have caught up to the Bulldogs. Fresno State lost back-to-back games in the state of Idaho and both by similar margins. Their latest loss was a 65-49 loss at the hands of Boise State. The Bulldogs remain winless on the road and must face Hawai’i in Honolulu on Saturday before coming home to host New Mexico State. The Bulldogs are winless on the road in conference play.

Hawai’i (9-13, 2-7)

The week’s results:  01/30 @ Nevada

Upcoming games:  02/06 vs. Fresno State

The Warriors’ slide continues as they put up a valiant fight but still fell to Nevada 66-60 in Reno. The Warriors have lost six of their last seven games and with four of their next five games coming against the top four teams in the league, there is not much a light at the end of the tunnel. Hawai’i can take solace from the fact that they battled in Reno in a game in which nobody gave them a chance. Roderick Flemings scored 17 points for Hawai’i and they tied the game at 56 with four minutes left to play but six consecutive free throws in the final 37.5 seconds by Nevada was the difference.

Idaho (10-11, 2-7)

The week’s results:  01/30 W @ Seattle, 87-85,  02/03 L @ Utah State, 80-62

Upcoming games:  02/07 @ Boise State,  02/10 vs. Nevada

The Vandals had an up and down week, mostly down as they squeezed out a close win against Seattle 87-85 and then were spanked by Utah State on national television.  Although to be fair they played without leading scorer and team leader Mac Hopson, who was held out after violating curfew the night before the game. The Vandals travel to Boise State in a revenge game and an all-important game in the league standings. Should Boise State win, the Vandals would essentially be two games behind the Broncos in the league standings as BSU would hold the tiebreaker with Idaho. However, if Idaho can pull out a victory, it would put them a game ahead of the Broncos in the standings and ensure that the tiebreaker would require more than a look at the head-to-head results.

Louisiana Tech (18-4, 6-2)

The week’s results:  01/30 L vs. New Mexico State, 91-77, 02/04 W vs. San Jose State, 71-64

Upcoming games:  02/08 @ New Mexico State

The Bulldogs split a pair of games but remained in first place after getting manhandled by New Mexico State, as they used a 15-0 run to start their game against San Jose State en route to a 71-64 victory. The Bulldogs travel to New Mexico State where they’ll look to exact revenge for their loss just over one week ago.

Nevada (13-8, 5-3)

The week’s results:  01/30 W vs. Hawai’i, 66-60

Upcoming games:  02/06 @ Utah State, 02/10 vs. Idaho

The Wolf Pack nearly suffered deja vu as they allowed an undermanned Hawai’i squad to hang around before icing the game from the free throw line. Nevada jumped out to an early lead but allowed a 12-0 run to end the half to send them into halftime tied with Hawai’i. The second half was a back and forth battle before Nevada’s six made free throws in the final 37.5 seconds saved the Wolf Pack from another stunning loss. Nevada travels to Logan to take on league-leading Utah State on Saturday night and then a trip to Moscow, Idaho, to take on the Vandals.

New Mexico State (13-8, 6-2)

The week’s results:  01/30 W @ Louisiana Tech, 91-77

Upcoming games:  02/06 vs. San Jose State, 02/08 vs. Louisiana Tech

The Aggies handed Louisiana Tech their first home loss of the season in a convincing 91-77 victory in Ruston. They played arguably their best game in two seasons and got a major outing from Hamidu Rahman who scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and was named the WAC Player of the Week for his effort. The Aggies also got 24 points from their bench which proved to be the difference in the game. NMSU faces San Jose State and Louisiana Tech, the two teams they just faced, at home in Las Cruces as they try to keep pace with Utah State at the top of the standings. And they got another boost as the NCAA declared redshirt sophomore forward Troy Gillenwater academically eligible to play for the remainder of the season. New Mexico State filed an appeal on behalf of Gillenwater with the NCAA to grant him eligibility which ended in a favorable ruling. Gillenwater averaged 12.1 points per game last season as a redshirt freshman.

San Jose State (12-10, 5-5)

The week’s results:  01/30 L @ Utah State, 77-58, 02/04 @ Louisiana Tech

Upcoming games:  02/06 @ New Mexico State

The Spartans’ hot streak was cooled off by the red-hot Utah State Aggies. San Jose State trailed Utah State by just two less than a minute into the second half but a huge run by the USU buried San Jose State as they fell by 19 points, 77-58. Adrian Oliver scored 19 points for the Spartans. Against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, the Spartans fell behind 15-0 to start the game and could never recover. They were able to cut the lead to seven points midway through the second half but the initial deficit was too much to overcome. The Spartans wrap up their road trip on Saturday night against New Mexico State, a team they defeated in San Jose.

Utah State (17-6, 7-2)

The week’s results:  01/30 W vs. San Jose State, 77-58, 02/03 W vs. Idaho, 80-62

Upcoming games:  02/05 vs. Nevada, 02/11 @ Boise State

The league’s hottest team resides in Logan, Utah. The preseason pick to win the league has risen to the top of the standings after a rough 0-2 start. Since getting blown out by 22 at Louisiana Tech, Utah State has won seven in a row and has had just one close game, an overtime win at Nevada 79-72. The other six games have been decided by an average of 23.5 points. The Aggies host Nevada in a rematch of that classic battle earlier in the season in Reno before taking a road trip to Boise State and San Jose State.

UPCOMING GAMES

  • 02/06 – New Mexico State vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. MT (AggieVision, ESPN Full Court)
  • 02/06 – Boise State vs. Idaho – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 02/06 – Hawai’i vs. Fresno State – 8:00 p.m . HT (KFVE Honolulu, Bulldog Sports Network)
  • 02/06 – Utah State vs. Nevada – 8:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • 02/08 – New Mexico State vs. Louisiana Tech (ESPN Regional)
  • 02/10 – Idaho vs. Nevada – 8:00 p.m. PT (ESPN2)
  • 02/11 – Boise State vs. Utah State – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 02/11 – Fresno State vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. PT
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 22nd, 2010

Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

Current Standings

1.  Louisiana Tech, 17-3 (5-1)
1.  New Mexico State, 12-7 (5-1)
3.  Nevada 12-7 (4-2)
3.  Utah State, 14-6 (4-2)
5.  San Jose State 10-8 (3-3)
5.  Fresno State, 10-10 (3-3)
7.  Hawai’i, 9-10 (2-4)
8.  Idaho 8-8 (1-4)
9.  Boise State, 9-11 (0-7)

The cream is starting to rise to the top as Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State lead the league at 5-1 but preseason pick Utah State is tied with perennial WAC power Nevada for third place at 4-2.  The battle for the middle of the league is being waged between a better-than-their-record-indicates San Jose State squad along with a slumping Fresno State and a beaten-up Hawai’i squad.  The battle for the WAC basement resides in the state of Idaho where the Broncos of Boise State are off to their worst league start ever and Idaho is off to a surprising 1-4 start.

Boise State (9-11, 0-7)

The week’s results:
01/16 L @ Utah State, 81-59
01/20 L vs. Nevada, 88-82

Upcoming games:
01/25 @ Idaho

Things did not get any better for the Broncos in the past week as they extended their losing streak to seven games after being blown out by Utah State and dropping a tight contest at home to Nevada.  The Broncos are now off to their worst start in league play ever and it’s their longest losing streak since the 2001-02 season.  Despite their seven-game losing streak, the Broncos are not out of contention just yet for a spot in the conference tournament.  Their in-state brethren, the Idaho Vandals, have won just one league game and with a game against Utah State before round one of the in-state showdown, it is conceivable that the Broncos could tie things up at the bottom with a win next week over Idaho.

Fresno State (10-10, 3-3)

The week’s results:
01/16 L @ New Mexico State, 86-77
01/21 vs. Utah State, 69-43

Upcoming games:
01/23 vs. Nevada
01/28 @ Idaho

The Bulldogs have lost three straight after starting league play 3-0.  Their latest setback was a thrashing at the hands of Utah State.  The Bulldogs’ bigger concern is the health of their leading scorer Paul George who sprained an ankle early in the loss and did not return.  His return to the court is up in the air and with a tough game against Nevada coming up, a hot start to the season is threatening to give way to a midseason slide.

Hawaii (9-10, 2-4)

The week’s results:
01/18 W vs San Jose State, 68-67
01/21 L vs. New Mexico State, 71-69

Upcoming games:
01/24 vs Louisiana Tech
01/28 @ San Jose State

The Warriors were involved in a pair of down-to-the-wire thrillers as they hosted San Jose State and New Mexico State.  They were on the winning side of one and the losing side of on, edging out San Jose State on a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining but then falling victim to a last second jumper from New Mexico State’s Jahmar Young.  The Warriors host their second league leading team when the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs come to town on January 24, and follow that up with a rematch against San Jose State.  A split of the two games would keep the Warriors in the middle of the WAC pack.

Idaho (8-8, 1-4)

The week’s results:
01/16 L @ Nevada, 76-68

Upcoming games:
01/23 vs. Utah State
01/25 vs. Boise State
01/28 vs. Fresno State

The Vandals are on a three-game losing streak after falling to Nevada on the road last week.  Idaho has a crucial three-game home stand starting with red-hot Utah State, then in-state rival Boise State in a game that could determine which of the two teams stays out of the WAC basement for the remainder of the season and ending with a game against a potentially Paul George-less Fresno State.  Idaho can put itself right back in the league race with a sweep of the home stand or, if they lose all three games, they could find themselves in the WAC basement.

Louisiana Tech (17-2, 5-0)

The week’s results:
01/21 L @ San Jose State, 87-76

Upcoming games:
01/24 @ Hawai’i

The Bulldogs’ winning streak came to an end in San Jose as the Spartans knocked off the league leader 87-76.   The loss snapped a 10-game win streak.  Kyle Gibson led the Bulldogs with 22 points but it was not enough to offset his career night by SJSU’s Adrian Oliver who scored 39 points.  The Bulldogs will look to get back on the winning track when they face Hawai’i.

Nevada (10-7, 2-2)

The week’s results:
01/16 W vs. Idaho, 76-68
01/20 @ Boise State, 88-82

Upcoming games:
01/23 @ Fresno State

The Wolf Pack beat the two Idaho schools, one at home and the other on the road to bounce back from their overtime loss to Utah State on national television.  The Wolf Pack improved to 4-2 and sit just a half game behind New Mexico State in the loss column.

New Mexico State (10-7, 3-1)

The week’s results:
01/16 W vs. Fresno State, 86-77
01/21 W @ Hawai’i, 71-69

Upcoming games:
01/23 @ San Jose State

New Mexico State is on a roll having won four in a row following a disappointing loss to Nevada back on January 4.  The Aggies have posted back-to-back comeback wins against Fresno State and Hawai’i.  Jahmar Young buried a last second 18-foot jumper with 0.9 seconds left on the clock to give the Aggies a win at Hawai’i.  That coupled with a loss by Louisiana Tech at San Jose State moved the Aggies into a tie for first place atop the WAC.  The Aggies face San Jose State on Saturday night in a game that will feature a couple of electric scorers in New Mexico State’s Jahmar Young and San Jose State’s Adrian Oliver, who torched Louisiana Tech for 39 points in SJSU’s win.

San Jose State (10-8, 3-3)

The week’s results:
01/18 L @ Hawai’i, 68-67
01/21 W vs. Louisiana Tech, 87-76

Upcoming games:
01/23 vs. New Mexico State
01/28 vs. Hawai’i

The Spartans split their two games, losing a heartbreaker to Hawai’i 68-67 when the Warriors hit a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds left to win the game.  However, they bounced back to hand Louisiana Tech their first loss in conference play.  Adrian Oliver scored a career-high 39 points, one shy of the single game record of 40 set by Wally Rank on January 3, 1980.  The Spartans host league leading New Mexico State on Saturday in a game that should be a shootout.

Utah State (14-6, 4-2)

The week’s results:
01/16 W vs. Boise State, 81-59
01/21 W @ Fresno State, 69-43

Upcoming games:
01/23 @ Idaho

The Aggies have their mojo back.  After getting pounded by 22 at Louisiana Tech, Utah State has found whatever they were missing and is now the team doing the pounding.  Riding a four-game win streak the Aggies have beaten three of their past four opponents by an average of 30.7 points.  Their lone close game was an impressive overtime win in Reno, site of this year’s conference tournament.  The Aggies travel to Moscow, ID, to take on the Vandals where it will pit head coach Stew Morrill against long-time assistant Don Verlin who is now in his second season at Idaho.

UPCOMING GAMES

01/23 – Idaho vs. Utah State – 5:00 p.m. PT (ESPN360)
01/23 – Hawai’i vs. Louisiana Tech – 7:00 p.m. HT (KFVE Honolulu)
01/23 – San Jose State vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. PT
01/23 – Fresno State vs. Nevada – 7:00 p.m. PT (Comcast SportsNet California)
01/25 – Idaho vs. Boise State – 8:00 p.m. PT (ESPNU)
01/28 – San Jose State vs. Hawai’i – 7:00 p.m. PT
01/28 – Idaho vs. Fresno State – 7:00 p.m. PT

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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 8th, 2010

Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

The WAC opened up league play this past weekend and after the first weekend there were a couple of surprises.  The biggest surprise came from Utah State.  The Aggies went on the road to open up league play and lost to New Mexico State in a close game and then were blown out by Louisiana Tech two nights later.  The preseason pick to win the league by both the media and coaches has their work cut out for them if they hope to win the league title for a third consecutive season.

Standings

1) Louisiana Tech, 14-2 (2-0)
2) San Jose State, 8-5 (1-0)
3) Fresno State 8-7 (1-0)
T4) Idaho 8-5 (1-1)
T4) Nevada, 9-6 (1-1)
T4) Hawai’i, 8-7 (1-1)
T4) New Mexico State, 8-7 (1-1)
T8) Utah State, 10-6 (0-2)
T8) Boise State, 9-6 (0-2)

The league saw a significant drop in scoring in the first weekend of games.  Perhaps the familiarity of the offensive sets and plays had something to do with that but after two games Louisiana Tech leads the league in scoring and is averaging 79.5 points per game.  Five of the nine teams are averaging less than 70 points per game (in non-conference play seven of nine teams averaged at least 73 points per game) and Utah State has struggled to find their offense scoring just 56 points per game through two contests.

Team Breakdowns

Boise State (9-6, 0-2)

The week’s results:  01/02 L @ Fresno State, 71-68, 01/05 @ Hawai’i, 76-68

Upcoming games:  01/09 vs. New Mexico State, 01/11 vs. Louisiana Tech

The Broncos opened conference play on the road and were dealt two losses.  The Broncos led Fresno State nearly the entire game but Fresno State’s Paul George hit a layup and drew a foul on Boise State’s Robert Arnold to give Fresno State a 68-66 lead with 48.5 seconds left.  After Boise State tied the game up with 22.6 seconds left Paul George got another layup and was fouled giving the Bulldogs a 71-68 lead.  The Broncos were unable to hit the three-pointer as time expired as they let one slip away.  Against Hawai’i the Broncos trailed big early falling behind 21-7 with 8:59 left in the first half but by halftime they had erased the 14 point deficit and took a 28-27 lead into the break.  The Warriors went on a 12-2 run in the second half and built a lead they would not relinquish.  Boise State’s Daequon Montreal leads the Broncos in scoring in league play averaging 20 points per game and is sixth in the league in scoring through two conference games.  The Broncos are the second best team in the league in steals and are averaging 6.5 steals per game.  Despite their two losses the Broncos lead the league in assists per game averaging 15.0 per game.  The Broncos host New Mexico State and league leading Louisiana Tech this coming week. A minimum split of these two games at home is a must if the Broncos want to keep from falling behind in the league race.

Fresno State (8-7, 1-0)

The week’s results:  01/02 W vs. Boise State, 71-68

Upcoming games:  01/09 vs. Hawai’i, 01/11 vs. San Jose State

The Bulldogs played just one league game last week but they made it count as they rallied at home to defeat Boise State.  Paul George’s 21 points in the conference opener included two three-point plays in the final minute as they erased a 7 point deficit with 5:10 left to play.  George was 11-of-12 from the free throw line in the game.  The Bulldogs have a very favorable schedule to start league play with five of the first seven at home.  Fresno State leads the league in free throw percentage and are hitting 75 percent of their attempts. They are also fourth in the league in steals averaging 6.0 steals per game.  The Bulldogs host Hawai’i and San Jose State this coming week, a pair of games that the Bulldogs must win to establish themselves as an upper tier team in the conference.

Hawai’i (8-7, 1-1)

The week’s results:  01/03 L vs. Idaho, 59-52, 01/05 W vs. Boise State, 76-68

Upcoming games:  01/09 @ Fresno State, 01/11 @ Utah State

The Warriors split their opening weekend’s conference games as they fell 59-52 to Idaho in a defensive struggle.  The Warriors trailed 40-26 with 16:30 left to play but cut the Vandal lead down to four at 49-45 with 3:18 left to play but could get no closer.  The two teams combined to go just 26-of-43 from the free throw line as Hawai’i hit 14-of-21 and Idaho hit 12-of-22.  The Warriors rebounded two nights later as they hosted Boise State.  They used a 12-2 run early in the second half to put themselves comfortably ahead and then used a 14-for-15 performance from the free throw line in the final seven minutes to seal the deal.  In stark contrast to their previous game the Warriors hit 20-of-26 free throws (76.9 percent).  The Warriors lead the league in scoring defense through two games allowing just 63.5 points per game.  They are also third in the league in free throw percentage at 72.3 and have attempted the most free throws in the league with 47 attempts.  Paul Campbell leads the league in field goal percentage at 87.5 percent having hit 14-of-16 shots through two games.  The Warriors go on the road to Fresno State and Utah State this week.  A split of the two games would be considered a huge plus for the team.

Idaho (8-5, 1-1)

The week’s results:  01/03 W @ Hawai’i, 59-52, 01/04 L @ San Jose State, 78-75

Upcoming games:  01/09 vs. Louisiana Tech, 01/11 vs. New Mexico State

The Vandals split their road trip to Hawai’i and San Jose State as they held on for a hard fought 59-52 victory over Hawai’i but fell to the Spartans by three in a back-and-forth battle in San Jose.  Both teams shot above 50 percent for the game.  Mac Hopson led Idaho with 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.  Idaho held a six point lead early in the second half but were undone by a six-minute offensive drought.  Idaho is second in the league in three point percentage hitting 37.8 percent of their threes (14-of-37) and tops in the league in three point defense as opponents have hit just 7-of-28 through two league games.  The Vandals host league leading Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State this coming week and a sweep at home would put the Vandals in prime position as they play five of their next six conference games at home.

Louisiana Tech (14-2, 2-0)

The week’s results:  01/02 W vs. Nevada, 77-71, 01/04 W vs. Utah State, 82-60

Upcoming games:  01/09 @ Idaho, 01/11 @ Boise State, 01/14 vs. Fresno State

Doubters of Louisiana Tech’s gaudy 12-2 record in non-conference play were quickly silenced as the Bulldogs had a pair of statement victories to open league play.  The Bulldogs held off Nevada 77-71 and then obliterated preseason favorite Utah State 82-60.  Jamel Guyton led the way for the Bulldogs against the Wolf Pack scoring 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting and 6-of-7 shooting from the free throw stripe he added six rebounds and three steals and played 38 minutes.  Kyle Gibson played all 40 minutes against the Pack and added 17 points, seven rebounds and a pair of steals.  Against Utah State the Bulldogs trailed 2-0 but a three pointer gave them a 3-2 lead five minutes into the game and they would not trail for the remainder.  The Bulldogs held a 33-point lead at 69-36 before eventually winning by 22.  Magnum Rolle finished the game with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting and added 14 rebounds for another double-double.  Louisiana Tech hit 53.3 percent of their field goals, 50 percent of their three point attempts (7-of-14) and 73.3. percent of their free throws (11-of-15) in the rout.  The Bulldogs lead the conference in scoring at 79.5 points per game and have a +14.0 scoring margin per game, the second best margin in the league is +3.0 (Fresno State and San Jose State).  The Bulldogs are second in the legaue in field goal percentage having hit 50 percent of their shots, they are also the best field goal percentage defense allowing just 41.6 percent of their opponents shots to go in.  To go along with the defensive effort the Bulldogs lead the league in steals per game at 7.5.  The Bulldogs will look to further silence their critics as they travel to the state of Idaho this weekend to face Idaho and Boise State.

Nevada (9-6, 1-1)

The week’s results:  01/02 W @ Louisiana Tech, 77-71, 01/04 W @ NMSU, 77-67

Upcoming games:  01/09 vs. San Jose State, 01/13 vs. Utah State

The Wolf Pack earned a road split in one of the most difficult road trips in the WAC, the Ruston/Las Cruces trip.  After dropping a game to Louisiana Tech to start the conference season, the second consecutive season in which they’ve dropped the season opener, the Wolf Pack rebounded with a commanding victory over New Mexico State.  Though the final margin in the victory over New Mexico State was just 10 points, there was little drama in the second half.  Leading by just seven at the break the Wolf Pack never allowed the Aggies to get closer than five points (41-36) and held a 17-point lead at 71-54 with 3:43 remaining to play.  Luke Babbitt played 39 minutes and scored a game high 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.  He finished 10-of-14 from the floor and a perfect 3-of-3 from behind the three point arc.  It was Babbitt’s seventh 20-plus point performance and fifth consecutive.  It was also his 10th double-double in 15 games this season.  The Wolf Pack lead the league in rebounding margin at +8.0 per game and are averaging 40.5 rebounds per game.  They also lead the league in offensive rebounds per game at 13.5 and defensive rebounds per game at 27.0 per game.  Lack of bench production continues to be a concern for the Wolf Pack as an article earlier this week by the Reno Gazette-Journal’s beat writer Chris Murray reported that Nevada’s bench contributes just 43 minutes per game, lowest in the league.  They score just 11.7 points per game, third worst in the league.  The Wolf Pack host their next three conference games as San Jose State, Utah State and Idaho all come to Reno.

New Mexico State (8-7, 1-1)

The week’s results:  01/02 W vs. Utah State, 55-52, 01/04 L vs. Nevada, 77-71

Upcoming games:  01/09 @ Boise State, 01/11 @ Idaho

New Mexico State grinded out a 55-52 victory over Utah State to string together their fifth victory of the season.  Jonathan Gibson’s jumper with 17 seconds remaining gave the southern Aggies a three point lead and when Utah State’s three pointer with three seconds left hit iron New Mexico State fans breathed a sigh of relief.  The Aggies went through a six minute scoring drought allowing Utah State to climb back into the game but solid defense down the stretch, a rarity in Las Cruces this season, enabled the southern Aggies to hang on for the victory.  Unfortunately for Marvin Menzies and his crew the euphoria was short lived as Luke Babbitt and Nevada strolled into town two nights later.  The Wolf Pack dominated the Aggies from start to finish.  The Aggies never led in the game and there was just one tie, 2-2, 2:18 into the game.  The Aggie defense had no answer for Luke Babbitt and he scored inside and outside on the Aggies and finished with 26 points.  The Aggies did have five players finish in double-figures in scoring, generally a stat that leads to a win, however, the Aggies’ high-scoring combo of Jahmar Young and Jonathan Gibson mustered only 27 points combined (the duo averaged nearly 40 points per game combined in non-conference play).  The Aggies lead the league in turnover margin at +4.0 and are second in the league in scoring defense giving up 64.5 points per game.  The high flying Aggie offense has been grounded through two league games and are averaging 61.0 points per game, only bettering the 56.0 points per game their fellow Aggies from Logan have put up through two games.  New Mexico State takes the trip to the state of Idaho as they face Boise State and Idaho this weekend.  The Aggies and Broncos have had some wild affairs the past several seasons and the Aggies have never had a particularly easy time in Moscow, even when the Vandals were way down.  Their largest margin of victory over Idaho is just 10 points and last season they suffered their first loss at Idaho since joining the league in the 2005-06 season.

San Jose State (8-5, 1-0)

The week’s results:  01/04 W vs. Idaho, 78-75

Upcoming games:  01/09 @ Nevada, 01/11 @ Fresno State, 01/14 vs. Boise State

The Spartans played just one conference game on opening weekend but they made it count.  SJSU squeaked by Idaho in an offensive slugfest.  Both teams shot above 50 percent from the game but it was Adrian Oliver’s three pointer late in the game that proved to be the difference maker.  The Spartans won a conference opener for the first time since the 1998-99 season.  Adrian Oliver led the Spartans with 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting.  C.J. Webster added 21 points and 11 rebounds on 10-of-14 shooting.  The Spartans are second in the league in scoring at 78.0 points per game and are second best in the league in free throw shooting hitting 73.3 percent of their attempts.  The Spartans will fully kick off the conference season with road trip to face Nevada and Fresno State followed by a home contest against Boise State.  A 2-1 stretch in the three games could signal that San Jose State is ready to get out of the WAC basement.

Utah State (10-6, 0-2)

The week’s results:  01/02 L @ NMSU, 55-52, 01/04 L @ Louisiana Tech, 82-60

Upcoming games:  01/11 vs. Hawai’i, 01/13 @ Nevada

Shellshocked. That’s what the Aggie faithful must be feeling after a shocking 0-2 road trip to open conference play.  After losing a grinder against New Mexico State in a game that favored the northern Aggies, Utah State went on the road and suffered their second worst loss in conference play since joining the WAC (a 100-70 loss at New Mexico State in the 2007-2008 season was the worst).  The last time the Aggies started 0-2 in the WAC they were 10-3 heading into league play and finished just 9-7 but advanced to the conference championship game before falling to host New Mexico State by two.  It’s no time to panic if you’re a Utah State fan. History is on your side.  Two games into the conference season the Aggie offense is nowhere to be found.  The Aggies are averaging a league worst 56 points per game.  The Aggies are second worst in the league in three point shooting 23.1 percent a departure from their normally hot three point shooting.  Utah State hosts Hawai’i as they try to get in the win column and then two days later they travel to Reno for they always contentious battle with the Wolf Pack.

UPCOMING GAMES

  • 01/09 – Idaho vs. Louisiana Tech – 5:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/09 – Fresno State vs. Hawai’i – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/09 – Boise State vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 01/09 – Nevada vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/11 – Fresno State vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/11 – Idaho vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. PT (ESPNU)
  • 01/11 – Boise State vs. Louisiana Tech – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 01/11 – Utah State vs. Hawai’i – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 01/13 – Nevada vs. Utah State – 8:00 p.m. PT (ESPN2)
  • 01/14 – San Jose State vs. Boise State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/14 – Louisiana Tech vs. Fresno State – 8:00 p.m. CT (ESPN Regional)
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ATB: Another Faux-National Title

Posted by rtmsf on January 7th, 2010

So When Do Boise and Alabama Play? The interminable bowl season finally came to an end with the only game that mattered, as Texas’ Colt McCoy got knocked out of the BCS National faux-Championship Game and Alabama’s Nick Saban earned his second title as a member of a rival SEC school.  So we’re once again left with more than one unbeaten team in the college football season and we have no legitimate way of separating those teams other than using statistics and computer printouts, a tenuous proposition at best.  After all, Cal was a ten-point favorite versus UCLA last night.  That’s what all of the computer algorithms told us.  So they’re clearly the better team, right?  No reason to even play the game, right?  Let’s just declare Cal the winner based on their strength of schedule and power rating…  Get outta here with that nonsense.  Seriously.  Thankfully we’re moving on to basketball, where our championships are earned on the court.  (ed. note: we’re going to publish this picture every time it’s appropriate, which, given the BCS’s foibles year after year, will be annually).

Other Games of National Interest.  Well, sorta.  Slow night.  There was only one game involving any of the BCS conference teams, and they were both from the Big Ten.  Guess they knew that league wouldn’t be playing on the gridiron tonight.

  • Michigan 64, Penn State 55.  The Wolverines got off to a horrid start in State College, shooting 0-12 from three and finding themselves down 31-16 at the half.  But they kept their poise and made a huge second-half run of 38-13 to close out the game and put John Beilein’s team at 2-1 in the Big Ten.  DeShawn Sims was huge, scoring 25 points and pulling six boards, but it was really Laval Lucas-Perry’s four second-half treys that helped spur the run.  With games against Northwestern and Indiana coming up at home, UM has a good shot to go to 4-1 before trips to Madison and West Lafayette later this month.
  • Western Kentucky 67, South Alabama 64 (OT).  This was a key early-season game in the Sun Belt, and WKU got the leg up by taking this one in overtime tonight.  Steffphon Pettigrew (16/5) hit a layup with five seconds remaining to tie the game and send it to the extra period.  In the OT, which  only saw a total of seven points between the two teams, AJ Slaughter (18/5) hit the go-ahead three and WKU hung on.  USA will get another chance at the Hilltoppers in Bowling Green on February 18.
  • Xavier 68, La Salle 62.  XU got a win in its A10 opener after nearly blowing a 20-point second half lead on the road tonight in Philadelphia.  Jordan Crawford had 22/6/4 assts to improve upon his 19 PPG average coming into the contest.  Of course, he’s also thirteenth in the nation in shot% at 35.4, which means he’s our candidate for Human Cannon Midwest.
  • Oakland 67, Oral Roberts 64.  Oakland picked up a key Summit League win tonight on the road against its likely toughest competition in Tulsa behind Keith Benson’s 13/8/5 blks and Johnathan Jones’ 16/4 assts/3 stls.  Interesting that Jones was the nation’s leading assist man last season at 8.1 per game, but he’s only dropping 5.6 dimes so far this year.
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