Leaders of the Pac(k)

Washington F Jon Brockman
Washington F Jon Brockman

Quick, which team is the best team in the state of Washington?  I bet you answered Gonzaga.  You may be correct, but they have a serious challenger in the form of the Washington Huskies.  Lorenzo Romar has his team tied for first in the Pac-10 with wins over USC, UCLA and Arizona St already.

Led by Isaiah Thomas, Jon Brockman, and Justin Dentmon, Washington is poised to make a run at the Pac-10 regular season and tournament titles and an opportunity to play close to home in the NCAA tournament.  They have four very winnable games upcoming before they go on the road to play the Los Angeles schools.

I know they’re games air late on the East coast, but if I were you, I’d make sure I’d catch a UW game soon.

Stock Up: Kansas.  It’s amazing.  They’re the defending national champions, but no one is talking about the Jayhawks.  They’re rolling right now after a very tough start which included a loss to UMass.  Cole Aldrich is one of the most improved players in America and Sherron Collins is playing out of this world basketball right now.  This team is well on its way to moving out of the shadow of last year’s squad.

Stock Down: Pat Knight.  He took a page out of his father’s book and went crazy on Saturday.  That type of behavior may be ok for his father because his father won games.  Pat is 10-10 right now at Texas Tech.  You can’t use that type of decorum on the court and not win.  You can get fired easily doing that and I don’t care who your father is.

Stock Up: Penn St.  Now THIS is how you get over the Rose Bowl.  This is clearly the best Penn St team since they went to the tournament eight years ago.  That team made it all the way to the Sweet 16.  I don’t know if this team has that kind of success in it, but it could be on it’s way to a tournament berth.

Stock Down: St. Mary’s.  Unfortunately Patrick Mills broke his hand last week.  He’s going to be out for a month and that’s going to destroy the Gaels at-large chances.  This is just not a tournament team without him on the floor.  It’s a shame too, because he’s clearly one of the best guards in the country.

This week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Michigan, Providence, Georgetown, Texas A&M

Last Four Out: BYU, Baylor, Cincinnati, San Diego St

Sorry Wake Forest fans, as the last #1, you got stuck with the Fri-Sun games because of the play-in game.

This bracket is good for games played through Sunday, February 1, 2009.

SOUTH

1.North Carolina16.Long Beach St Greensboro, NC

8.Davidson9.UNLV

5.Washington12.Georgetown Portland, OR

4.Purdue13.Buffalo

6.Gonzaga11.Florida St Portland, OR

3.Xavier14.Cornell

7.Ohio St10.Tennessee Minneapolis, MN

2.Marquette15.East Tennessee St

MIDWEST

1.Oklahoma16.Holy Cross Kansas City, MO

8.Arizona St9.LSU

5.Illinois12.Providence Philadelphia, PA

4.Butler13.Northern Iowa

6.Missouri11.Siena Miami, FL

3.Clemson14.Stephen F. Austin

7.USC10.Penn St Kansas City, MO

2.Louisville15.Weber St

WEST

1.Wake Forest16. Morehead St/Alabama St Dayton, OH

8.Syracuse9.South Carolina

5.Texas12.Michigan Miami, FL

4.Villanova13.Western Kentucky

6.UCLA11.Kentucky Boise, ID

3.Memphis14.VMI

7.Utah St10.Boston College Dayton, OH

2.Pittsburgh15.Robert Morris

EAST

1.Connecticut16.Morgan St Philadelphia, PA

8.Utah9.California

5.Minnesota12.Virginia Tech Boise, ID

4.Kansas13.Northeastern

6.West Virginia11.Texas A&M Minneapolis, MN

3.Michigan St14.North Dakota St

7.Dayton10.Florida Greensboro, NC

2.Duke15.Vermont

Saints are Marching In

Siena G Kenny Hasbrouck
Siena G Kenny Hasbrouck

In Orlando, after a loss to Wichita St, it appeared that all hope was lost for the Siena Saints.  They were expected to challenge for an at-large bid.  There was no reason why they should’ve lost to the Shockers.  The Saints finished that tournament 0-3 and even I read them their last rights.

Well, since leaving Orlando, Siena is 14-2 and 10-0 in the 12th rated conference in the RPI.  Their two losses came on the road at Pittsburgh and Kansas.  Siena already has seven top-100 wins and it looks as if they’re on a mission to roll towards the NCAA tournament.  I fully expect to see Siena’s name pop up on Selection Sunday and they are definitely a threat to pull off another upset.

Louisville F Terrance Williams
Louisville F Terrance Williams

Stock Up: Louisville.  It looked ugly early for the Cardinals.  After an early season loss to Western Kentucky, Rick Pitino had to issue a public apology on his website.  He doesn’t have to apologize now.  Louisville looks like the team we expected to sea before the season began.  They’re playing excellent defense while Earl Clark and Terrance Williams are proving to be an unstoppable duo.  This is definitely a final four contender.

Stock Down: Wisconsin.  The Badgers are in a corner right now.  They’ve lost four in a row with three of their next four coming up against teams in this week’s bracket.  They must stop the bleeding or it could be a long season in Madison.

Stock Up: Utah St.  I criticized the Aggies’ schedule a few weeks ago, but if you don’t lose…it doesn’t matter.  They are rolling and with three of their next four at home, they can really take all of the suspense out of the WAC regular season championship.

Stock Down: Georgetown.  The Hoyas are going to let the entire season go by without realizing that had they played hard, they would’ve made the tournament.  Watching them play right now, it’s not a matter of talent, it’s a matter of want-to.  Right now Georgetown doesn’t want it bad enough.  They’d better or the Big East will embarrass them.

This week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Penn St, South Carolina, BYU, Michigan

Last Four Out: USC, Wisconsin, Boston College, Illinois St

This bracket is good for games played through Sunday, January 25, 2009.

SOUTH

1.Duke16.Morgan St Greensboro, NC

8.Dayton9.Georgetown

5.Kansas12.Siena Portland, OR

4.Purdue13.Buffalo

6.Minnesota11.Miami(FL) Miami, FL

3.Butler14.Cornell

7.Kentucky10.Davidson Kansas City, MO

2.Louisville15.Austin Peay

WEST

1.Oklahoma16.East Tennessee St Kansas City, MO

8.Utah St9.Virginia Tech

5.Washington12.BYU Portland, OR

4.Syracuse13.VMI

6.St. Mary’s11.Michigan Minneapolis, MN

3.Marquette14.Virginia Commonwealth

7.California10.Oklahoma St Greensboro, NC

2.Wake Forest15.North Dakota St

MIDWEST

1.Pittsburgh16.Alabama St/Holy Cross Dayton, OH

8.Florida St9.Ohio St

5.Memphis12.South Carolina Boise, ID

4.Texas13.Portland St

6.Arizona St11.Notre Dame Minneapolis, MN

3.Illinois14.Northern Iowa

7.Missouri10.Tennessee Philadelphia, PA

2.North Carolina15.Long Beach St

EAST

1.Connecticut16.Robert Morris Philadelphia, PA

8.Baylor9.Florida

5.West Virginia12.Penn St Miami, FL

4.Clemson13.Western Kentucky

6.UCLA11.Villanova Boise, ID

3.Xavier14.Stephen F. Austin

7.Gonzaga10.UNLV Dayton, OH

2.Michigan St15.Vermont

Meeks Shall Inherit the Court

Kentucky G Jodie Meeks
Kentucky G Jodie Meeks

Dan Issel, Pat Riley, Jamal Mashburn, Antoine Walker, Rex Chapman, Kenny Walker.  He beat all of them the way he beat Tennessee.  He beat all of them the way he beat history.  A college game is on 40 minutes, so to score 54 points in that amount of time is extroardinary.  Of course, Jodie Meeks is proving to be an extroardinary player.

Just think of long history of Kentucky basketball.  The great teams under Rupp and Pitino.  All of the national championships.  All of the All-Americans.  Jodie Meeks 54 points is a number that no one had touched.  The crazy thing is, he’s capable of doing it again.  He’s posted 39, 37, 32 and 46-point games as well this season and is light years ahead of anyone in the SEC player of the year race.  I’ll definitely be watching for the rest of season because he’s going to put up numbers the SEC hasn’t seen in a long time.

Stock Up: Marquette.  Quietly, the Golden Eagles have been going about there business in a workmanlike fashion.  They’ve won eight in a row including a 22-point pasting of a good West Virginia Team last weekend.  Marquette hasn’t gotten into the teeth of it’s Big East schedule yet, but they’ve set themselves up quite nicely.

Stock Down: Maryland.  I feel sorry, but I’m not sure who I feel sorry for.  I could feel sorry for Gary Williams because he looks like he’s working so hard to everything out of his team.  I could feel sorry for the fans because it’s pretty obvious there are players on that roster which shouldn’t be seeing the light of day on an ACC basketball team.  In any case, the Terps have lost three of their last four including a game to Morgan St and blown lead of 17 points to Miami.

George Mason G Cam Long
George Mason G Cam Long

Stock Up: George Mason.  Here come the Patriots again.  Clearly Jim Larranaga has a stranglehold over the CAA now.  He’s definitely making the most out of going to the Final Four.  They’re currently undefeated in conference play with two tough road games coming up at the Northeastern and Virginia Commonwealth.  If they can get past those, we’re looking at an at-large bid for the Patriots.

Stock Down: Missouri Valley.  I’m used to seeing at least one team from the MVC with a strong case for an at-large bid.  Right now, it looks pretty grim with just Illinois St as a possibility and the Redbirds’ case is weak.  Might be time to go back to the drawing board at league headquarters.

This week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: UNLV, Arkansas, BYU, Utah

Last Four Out: USC, Stanford, Texas A&M, Illinois St

This bracket is good for games played through Sunday, January 18, 2009.

SOUTH

1.Wake Forest16.Robert Morris Greensboro, NC

8.Ohio St9.Kentucky

5.West Virginia12.UNLV Portland, OR

4.Texas13.George Mason

6.Florida St11.Villanova Minneapolis, MN

3.Xavier14.Weber St

7.Arizona St10.Oklahoma St Minneapolis, MN

2.Marquette15.Cornell

WEST

1.Pittsburgh16.Alabama St/Western Michigan Dayton, OH

8.Gonzaga9.Utah St

5.Minnesota12.Arkansas Boise, ID

4.Butler13.Long Beach St

6.Florida11.Utah Miami, FL

3.Syracuse14.VMI

7.Baylor10.Michigan Philadelphia, PA

2.North Carolina15.North Dakota St

MIDWEST

1.Connecticut16.East Tennessee St Philadelphia, PA

8.Missouri9.Davidson

5.Purdue12.Siena Boise, ID

4.UCLA13.Western Kentucky

6.Notre Dame11.Wisconsin Miami, FL

3.Clemson14.Stephen F. Austin

7.Dayton10.Tennessee Kansas City, MO

2.Oklahoma15.Austin Peay

EAST

1.Duke16.Morgan St Greensboro, NC

8.Kansas9.Illinois

5.California12.BYU Portland, OR

4.Georgetown13.Northern Iowa

6.St. Mary’s11.Miami(FL) Kansas City, MO

3.Louisville14.American

7.Memphis10.Washington Dayton, OH

2.Michigan St15.Albany

BOOMER!!!

Oklahomas Blake Griffin
Oklahoma's Blake Griffin

With apologies to Stephen Curry and Tyler Hansbrough, it’s clear that being First-Team All-American will have to be enough for them.  That’s because Blake Griffin is a man among boys right now.  He’s putting up Michael Beasley-type numbers, but with more talent around him.  He’s the most dominant player in college basketball since Tim Duncan.  He’s strong, athletic, can run the floor, has great hands and great touch around the basket.

I know this disappoints all of my folks with East-Coast bias, but you can’t hide from reality.  That reality is Blake Griffin is the National Player of the Year…without question.

Stock Up: Louisville.  The Cardinals were on the verge of becoming the biggest disappointment in college basketball this season.   After losing to Western Kentucky and not performing well against the better teams on their schedule, the Cardinals looked as if they weren’t who everyone thought they were.  However, they’ve won four straight including wins over Villanova and Notre Dame.  It appears as if this team was having an identity crisis.  They’ve found it.

Stock Down: Utah State’s strength of schedule.  I have the Aggies in the bracket this week, but they have bubble team written all over them.  Any team on the proverbial bubble is going to need some key wins to strengthen it’s resume.  Hard to get that quality win against Utah Valley St, Houston Baptist, Southern Utah, or Howard though.

Stock Up: Michigan St.  How is it that a program with the reputation of Michigan St not be getting recognized?  I don’t know why, but the Spartans are rolling right now.  They’ve followed an early-season blowout loss to North Carolina with a nine-game win streak.  Expect this team to do some special things in the Big Ten this season.

Stock Down: Boston College.  I praised them last week, but this week they NEED to be criticized.  Under no circumstances, is it acceptabale to follow a win over the number one team in the country with a loss to Harvard.  Just for good measure they lost to Miami too.

This week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Arizona, Washington, Texas A&M, Miami(FL)

Last Four Out: San Diego St, Utah, Maryland, Boston College

This bracket is good for games played through Sunday, January 11, 2009.

SOUTH

1.Duke16.Hampton Greensboro, NC

8.Florida9.Gonzaga

5.Michigan12.Texas A&M Portland, OR

4.Georgetown13.Bradley

6.Baylor11.Utah St Boise, ID

3.UCLA14.Long Beach St

7.Florida St10.Ohio St Minneapolis, MN

2.Syracuse15.Cornell

MIDWEST

1.Connecticut16.North Dakota St Philadelphia, PA

8.Tennessee9.Davidson

5.Purdue12.Arizona Boise, ID

4.Marquette13.VMI

6.Arizona St11.Villanova Miami, FL

3.Clemson14.Navy

7.Dayton10.Wisconsin Kansas City, MO

2.Oklahoma15.Middle Tennessee St

WEST

1.Wake Forest16.Austin Peay Greensboro, NC

8.Illinois9.Arkansas

5.Louisville12.Washington Miami, FL

4.Texas13.George Mason

6.Butler11.Miami(FL) Minneapolis, MN

3.Notre Dame14.Lamar

7.Oklahoma St10.UNLV Dayton, OH

2.Michigan St15.East Tennessee St

EAST

1.Pittsburgh16.Robert Morris/Alabama St Dayton, OH

8.Memphis9.Kansas

5.Minnesota12.Siena Portland, OR

4.California13.Miami(OH)

6.West Virginia11.BYU Kansas City, MO

3.Xavier14.Binghampton

7.St. Mary’s10.Missouri Philadelphia, PA

2.North Carolina15.Weber St

Big Bad Beasts

Pittsburghs Levance Fields and DeJuan Blair
Pittsburgh's Levance Fields and DeJuan Blair

I’ve thought Pittsburgh was one of the top teams in the country all year, but I was skeptical about them being able to win the national championship.  This past Saturday as I sat in the Verizon Center and watched them dismantle Georgetown, the Panthers changed my mind.

I knew about DeJuan Blair, Levance Fields, and Sam Young.  However, Pitt’s supporting cast is what leads me to believe THIS is the Pitt team that will get over the hump and get past the Sweet 16.  This team can score, it’s athletic, and it is flat out the toughest team in the country.  Make no mistake about it, this is a team full of grown men.  They are going to bully themselves into the best season in the history of Pittsburgh basketball.

Stock Up: California.  No one is talking about them, but California is making some serious noise in the Pac-10.  With a Top-20 RPI and two top-50 wins already, it looks like the Golden Bears are ready to contend in a relatively weak Pac-10.  Remember the names: Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, and Theo Robertson.

Stock Down: Every Davidson starter NOT named Stephen Curry.  Please give the man some help.  Last year, you knew Curry was the first and second option for the Wildcats.  This year he appears to be the only option.  For Davidson to even sniff that kind of success, someone besides Curry is going to have to score on a consistent basis.

Davidson F Andrew Lovedale
Davidson F Andrew Lovedale

Stock Up: Boston College.  I’m rather shocked that North Carolina lost.  I’m even more shocked that they lost to BC.  Coach Al Skinner has a knack for finding hidden gems and being able to mold them to fit his personality; tough, gritty.  That’s exactly what this squad is. Tyrese Rice is the most underrated player in the ACC, but trust me, Roy Williams knows all about him.

Stock Down: Northwestern.  It was such a promising start for Bill Carmody’s Wildcats.  They were 7-1 and it appeared as if this might be the season they finally get to the tournament.  Alas, normalcy reigns and the Wildcats have lost three of their last four to come back down to earth.  There’s still time to turn it around, but that’s going to be a difficult task in the unforgiving Big Ten.

This week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: BYU, Washington, Arkansas, Texas A&M

Last Four Out: Oklahoma St, Creighton, Evansville, Utah

This Bracket is good for games played through Sunday, January 4, 2009.

SOUTH

1.North Carolina16.Wagner Greensboro, NC

8.Arizona St9.Villanova

5.Marquette12.Utah St Portland, OR

4.Purdue13.Siena

6.Minnesota11.Arkansas Kansas City, MO

3.Texas14.Portland St

7.Boston College10.UNLV Philadelphia, PA

2.Syracuse15.East Tennessee St

MIDWEST

1.Duke16.Jacksonville St Greensboro, NC

8.Ohio St9.Memphis

5.West Virginia12.Washington Boise, ID

4.Xavier13.Western Kentucky

6.Michigan11.Maryland Minneapolis, MN

3.Notre Dame14.Vermont

7.Stanford 10.Gonzaga Kansas City, MO

2.Oklahoma15.Pacific

WEST

1.Connecticut16.Cornell Philadelphia, PA

8.Dayton9.Illinois

5.Tennessee12.Texas A&M Boise, ID

4.UCLA13.VMI

6.Baylor11.Davidson Miami, FL

3.Georgetown14.Lamar

7.St. Mary’s10.Butler Dayton, OH

2.Wake Forest15.Oakland

EAST

1.Pittsburgh16.Morgan St/Ark-Pine Bluff Dayton, OH

8.Missouri9.Wisconsin

5.Florida St12.BYU Portland, OR

4.California13.Miami(OH)

6.Kansas11.Illinois St Miami, FL

3.Clemson14.George Mason

7.Louisville10.Florida Minneapolis, MN

2. Michigan St15. Navy


Mountain Men

There are many teams in the Big East with instant name cache; UConn Georgetown, Syracuse, and Louisville to name a few.  West Virginia would be pretty far down that list.  However, the Mountaineers have staked their claim as a contender in the best conference in the country.

Alex Ruoff
West Virginia Guard Alex Ruoff

The Mountaineers are at full strength and are a force to be reckoned with.  Alex Ruoff, Da’Sean Butler, and Devin Ebanks are all capable of an offensive explosion.  Add in Darryl Bryant and the tough Joe Mazzulla and you have all the ingredients for a solid basketball team.

Ask Ohio St how potent West Virginia is.  What the Mountaineers did to the Buckeyes was criminal.  They took it to Ohio St from the tip and showed the rest of the country, just how deep the Big East is.

Stock Up: St. Mary’s.  After a questionable loss to UTEP in the 76 Classic, the Gaels have reeled off nine wins in a row including five on the road.  Patrick Mills is easily one of the best guards in the country and is a matchup problem for anyone.  Be clear folks, the West Coast Conference is not just about Gonzaga.

Stock Down: Gonzaga.  Portland St.  Tell me you did not lose to Portland St at home.  Tell me the “Mid-Major that Could” didn’t overlook another Mid-Major.  The Bulldogs have road contests at Utah and at Tennessee.  Mark Few better tighten his ballclub up in a hurry.

Stock Up: Chris Wright.  There was no doubt that Georgetown was going to be a tournament team, but on which weekend it met it’s demise would hinge on it’s point-guard play.  Well, early in the season, I think we have our answer.  Wright, fully recovered from the foot injury which sidelined him much of last season, has been everything John Thompson III could ask for and more.  He’s proving to be one of the best guards in the country.

Stock Down: Mississippi Head Coach Andy Kennedy.  I don’t know WHAT happened that night in Cincinnati.  What I do know is the coach of a college basketball team should not be out, at a bar, on a roadtrip at 1:00am.  I doubt the allegations of assault and racial slurs are true, but what good can come of that.

Ole Miss Head Coach Andy Kennedy

Stock Up: Minnesota.  If there is another coach to be happier for, I can’t find him.  Tubby Smith has the program in the Twin Cities turned around halfway through his second season and it’s great to see.  The Golden Gopher program had falllen on some hard times with the Clem Haskins’ scandal and Dan Monson’s tenure, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  That light appears to be a NCAA tournament berth.

Stock Down: Mid-American Conference.  Generally, the MAC is one of the better Mid-Major conferences in the country.  In fact, the MAC used the ring out like the Missouri Valley does now.  However, this appears to be a bad year for the conference.  With only three teams over .500 and every team in the West Division with a losing record, any hopes of an at-large bid seem to be all but shot.

This week’s Bracket Projections:

SOUTH
1.North Carolina16.Cornell Greensboro, NC
8.West Virginia9.Illinois
5.Baylor12.Utah St Portland, OR
4.Gonzaga13.Niagara
6.Florida St11.Butler Minneapolis, MN
3.Michigan St14.Vermont
7.Missouri10.Florida Philadelphia, PA
2.Georgetown15.East Tennessee St
WEST
1.Duke16.North Dakota St Greensboro, NC
8.Louisville9.Memphis
5.Minnesota12.Creighton Boise, ID
4.UCLA13.Portland St
6.Ohio St11.Boston College Miami, FL
3.Texas14.George Mason
7.St. Mary’s10.Davidson Dayton, OH
2.Notre Dame15.Pacific
MIDWEST
1.Oklahoma16.Quinnipiac Kansas City, MO
8.Arizona9.Marquette
5.Michigan12.Illinois St Minneapolis, MN
4.Xavier13.Western Kentucky
6.Villanova11.Texas A&M Miami, FL
3.Wake Forest14.Lamar
7.Stanford10.Wisconsin Philadelphia, PA
2.Connecticut15.American
EAST
1.Pittsburgh16.Morgan St/Ark-Pine Bluff Dayton, OH
8.Dayton9.California
5.Clemson12.Northwestern Portland, OR
4.Tennessee13.Miami(OH)
6.Arizona St11.Maryland Boise, ID
3.Syracuse14.VMI
7.Kansas10.UNLV Kansas City, MO
2.Purdue15.Jacksonville St

Just When You Thought It was Safe to Go to the Desert

The Arizona Wildcats and Arizona St Sun Devils are staking claim to being two of the best teams in the West.  This is shaping to be the best year of college basketball in that state since 1995 when Arizona St earned a #5 seed and made it to the Sweet 16 and Arizona received a #4.

The Sun Devils, led by James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph, have only lost only once this season and despite a lackluster performance Sunday against IUPUI, has looked very impressive in the early-going. Harden and Pendergraph are the kinds of players that can take this team on a long tournament run.

I didn’t expect much out of the Wildcats after the retirement of long-time coach, Lute Olson, but they have really impressed me. Their two losses are by a total of two points and they have some serious firepower on that team in Nic Wise, Chase Budinger, and Jordan Hill.  While Sunday’s win versus Gonzaga is considered an upset, there was nothing fluke about it.  This Arizona team has the chops to play with anybody.

Stock Up: Niagara.  I watched much of the Purple Eagles 15-point win over South Florida on Sunday.  Here we had a mid-major taking on a Big East school on said school’s homecourt and that Big East school did not belong on the court with the Purple Eagles.  They have the atheticism to just lock teams down.  I expect to see this team in March.

Stock Down: Pennsylvania and Prinecton.  For twenty years, these two schools held the Ivy League in a chokehold.  It now seems as if both programs have fallen on hardtimes due to the departures of former head coaches, Fran Dunphy (Temple) and John Thompson III (Georgetown).  These were two teams that not only dominated Ivy League competition, they also won their fare share of non-conference games as well.  Now they can’t beat Maine.

Stock Up: Xavier.  This is the most underrated program in the country.  There aren’t many teams that share the success that the Musketeers have recently.  After pushing Ohio St to the brink in the second round in 2007, Xavier made it all the way to the Elite 8 last year.  The Musketeers are loaded again and is a legitimate Final Four contender.

Stock Down: DePaul.  God Bless Jerry Wainwright, but that seat is warming up.  Losing to a 4-6 Morgan St team at home is unacceptable.  The Blue Demons have lost four in a row and have Seth Curry coming to town tomorrow.  With the Big East being the monster of a conference it is, it could be a long season in Chicago.

Stock Up: Horizon League.  Currently ranked in the top half of Division I conferences ahead of the WAC and MAC, the Horizon League is currently making a play to be a three-bid league.  Yes, that’s right, THREE.  Butler, Illinois-Chicago, and Cleveland St are winning big-time games on the road.  It will be a great year for the Horizon League.

Stock Down: Kansas.  The defending National Champions losing to UMass is shameful.  They have one solid win versus Washington, but they better fix whatever’s ailing them in hurry.  Four of their next six are against Temple, Arizona, Tennessee, and Michigan St.  Ouch.

This Week’s Bracket Projections:

SOUTH

1.North Carolina16.Quinnipiac Greensboro, NC

8.Villanova9.Illinois

5.Bayor12.West Virginia Boise, ID

4.Tennessee13.Niagara

6.Florida St11.Missouri Minneapolis, MN

3.Purdue14.Eastern Washington

7.Arizona St10.Dayton Kansas City, MO

2.Louisville15.Mercer

WEST

1.Oklahoma16.Hampton Kansas City, MO

8.Wisconsin9.BYU

5.Wake Forest12.Miami(OH) Miami, FL

4.Georgetown13.Western Kentucky

6.Michigan11.Texas A&M Philadelphia, PA

3.Syracuse14.VMI

7.Arizona10.Florida Portland, OR

2.Gonzaga15.UC-Santa Barbara

MIDWEST

1.Pittsburgh16.ND St/Ark-Pine Bluff Dayton, OH

8.Northwestern9.St. Mary’s

5.Clemson12.Illinois St Boise, ID

4.UCLA13.Jacksonville St

6.Memphis11.Temple Minneapolis, MN

3.Notre Dame14.Utah St

7.Michigan St10.Seton Hall Greensboro, NC

2.Duke15.Navy

EAST

1.Connecticut16.Cornell Philadelphia, PA

8.Kansas9.California

5.Davidson12.Maryland Portland, OR

4.Ohio St13.George Mason

6.Marquette11.Butler Miami, FL

3.Texas14.Lamar

7.Miami(FL)10.Minnesota Dayton, OH

2.Xavier15.Vermont

Seasoned Curry

Stephen Curry is on a tear of epic proportions right now.  He’s scored 44 twice already in is staking his claim as national player of the year.  He has Davidson primed for another undefeated season in the Southern Conference and you can just about book that at-large bid.  I truly believe he’s capable of leading the Wildcats to the Final Four.

Apparently, no one saw his brother coming though. Really?  At 6’3 and averaging 22 points per game his senior year, none of the bigger schools thought it important to throw the full court press on Seth Curry.  It’s already clear that the younger Curry is better than any guard currently playing for Charlotte, NC State, East Carolina, UNC-Wilmington, or Virginia Tech (Where his father, Dell played).  He’s already averaging over 21 points a game and has shown the knack to hit clutch shots just as his brother.  He was only offered by Liberty and Davidson and that’s ridiculous.

Stock Up: Ohio St.  Not only did the Buckeyes stage a furious comeback on the road at Miami, but they also went into South Bend and beat a very good Notre Dame team.  This team has been surprising thus far and may end up being the real challenge to Purdue for the Big Ten title rather than Michigan St.

Stock Down: USC.  Three losses already can’t be good for such a young basketball team.  The Trojans have struggled against quality competition thus far and need to right the ship in a hurry.  The Pac-10 doesn’t appear to be as strong this season so USC has an opportunity to make some noise.  We’ll see how the youngsters react.

Stock Up: Butler.  The Bulldogs lost too much…right?  They can’t possibly be on of the best mid-majors in the country can they?  Don’t look now, but Butler is 6-0 and is coming off an impressive last second victory over preseason Horizon League favorite, Cleveland St.  Butler has games coming up against Ohio St and Xavier so we’ll get a measuring stick of how good it really is.  Right now it’s lookinl like another banner year in Indianapolis.

Stock Down: SEC.  It’s bad.  It’s real bad.  Kentucky lost at home to VMI.  Both Auburn and Alabama lost at home to Mercer.  Georgia lost to Loyola-Chicago.  Vanderbilt lost to Illinois-Chicago.  Tennessee is going to win the conference without much of a challenge from anyone besides Florida.

Stock Up: Western Kentucky.  The Hilltoppers followed up their big win over Louisville with wins over Georgia and at Tulane.  It appears that WKU may be on the fast track to a possible at-large bid.

Stock Down: SWAC.  I understand the nature of the beast.  They have to take games versus a lot of high-majors to get checks, but this is ridiculous.  The 10 teams in the conference are a combined 3-58.  That’s how you end up in the play-in game EVERY season.

SOUTH

1.North Carolina16.Lamar Greensboro, NC

8.California9.Northwestern

5.Davidson12.Illinois St Miami, FL

4.Georgetown13.Miami(OH)

6.Florida St11.Western Kentucky Minneapolis, MN

3.Notre Dame14.Navy

7.Michigan St St10.Nebraska Greensboro, NC

2.Tennessee15.Mercer

WEST

1.Gonzaga16.Wagner Portland, OR

8.Dayton9.Seton Hall

5.Villanova12.Washington St Portland, OR

4.Purdue13.Boise St

6.Clemson11.Minnesota Minneapolis, MN

3.Syracuse14.Jacksonville St

7.Marquette10.BYU Kansas City, MO

2.Oklahoma15.Long Beach St

MIDWEST

1.Pittsburgh16. ND St/Grambling St Dayton, OH

8.Miami(FL)9.Florida

5.Baylor12.Utah Boise, ID

4.Ohio St13.George Mason

6.Kansas11.Mississippi Kansas City, MO

3.Louisville14.Eastern Washington

7.Arizona St10.Illinois Philadelphia, PA

2.Duke15.Binghampton

EAST

1.Connecticut16.Cornell Philadelphia, PA

8.Wisconsin9.St. Mary’s

5.Wake Forest12.Butler Boise, ID

4.UCLA13.Niagra

6.Memphis11.San Diego St Miami, FL

3.Texas14.VMI

7.Michigan10.West Virginia Dayton, OH

2.Xavier15.Hampton

Please Pray for Rodney

Rodney Rogers

This is definitely a post I wish I didn’t  have to make.  I just want to take this time out to ask everyone to keep Rodney Rogers in your prayers.  The former Wake Forest star was in an ATV accident, which left him paralyzed from the shoulders down.

Rogers is one of my all-time favorite college basketball players.  He could really score in a variety of ways and there really wasn’t anyone on the college level capable of guarding him.  I guess you could say he was a poor man’s Glenn Robinson.  I loved his game and from what I’ve read and know about him, he’s really good person too.  Here’s to hoping he has a full recovery.

The Slap You’ll Feel in March

Last night in the Ohio St/Miami game, Jack McClinton of Miami took a swing at Anthony Crater of Ohio St.  Now, I don’t think it was an exceptionally vicious swipe, but it’s still something that shouldn’t have happened.

McClinton is clearly Miami’s best player and is one of the best guards in the country.  I definitely think the result would’ve been different had he been on the floor in the second half (the game was on it’s way to getting out of hand when he was ejected).

Miami has 2 losses already with a road game coming up against Kentucky.  It only has one game each against North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, and Clemson, teams considered to be the cream of the crop in the ACC.

The ‘Canes don’t have a lot of opportunities left for quality wins so that slap may have cost them a tournament berth.  It’s only December 3, but I think they’re in trouble already.  It’ll be interesting to see what the rest of the season has in store for Miami.