NEWS, NOTES AND RAMBLINGS
-Its good to be a Buckeye. Ohio States football team is ranked #1 and on their way to play for the BCS Championship. Its a mythical championship. The winner gets a Sears Trophy and not an NCAA Trophy, but I guess its better to win a mythical championship than to lose it. With North Carolina and Florida both losing this week, Ohio State will most likely be ranked #1 in basketball when the polls come out tomorrow as well. They have a game coming up against North Carolina so it may not last very long, but I cant recall the last time a team was ranked #1 in both football and basketball.
-Kansas downed Florida in overtime last night. The Jayhawks appeared to have it wrapped up at the end of regulation, but tried to give it away and almost did. Florida was down four in the final seconds, but had the ball. They drove to the hoop, made the lay up, and drew the foul. After missing the foul shot, Florida managed an offensive rebound and actually kicked it back out for a three, which would have won. It missed, but Florida tipped it in to force overtime. At the end of the overtime Florida had another shot at a win, but missed a three and Kansas held on to win by two. Its a huge win for them seeing as how both of these teams are looking to earn #1 seeds. As for Florida, the short-term sting is much worse than the long time damage. It essentially doesnt hurt them at all. It would have been a big step toward getting a #1 seed because in order to do that you generally cant lose more than three or four games, and you need to have some big time wins as well, but Florida is still an excellent team that is in excellent shape.
-Butler, the feel good story of November, played their third game in four days yesterday and needed double overtime to get by Kent State 83-80. Kent State is no cupcake. They are one of the better teams in the MAC and they were rested. Butler had just played nationally ranked Gonzaga the day before and had to travel back to Indiana for the game, so this was a very difficult game for them to win. To me, its as big a statement win as anything considering how they were able to come down from an emotional win and with very little rest beat a very good Kent State team. A.J. Graves
had another big day for Butler scoring 26 points and dishing out 5 assists.
-There is a certain someone at CBS who has a tendency to dog anyone who isnt in a major conference and basically implies that they are insignificant. He was really ranting and raving last season when the Missouri Valley got four teams into the NCAA Tournament. To be fair, said person certainly isnt the only one, but he is one of the more vocal. I really hope this person, along with everyone else who claimed it wasnt fair that so many mid-majors got bids last year, was paying attention this last week. Missouri State knocked off Wisconsin on Friday, and Wichita State knocked off LSU at LSU yesterday. That is two wins against top ten teams away from home for the MVC. Southern Illinois fell to Arkansas in overtime, but did manage a decisive win over Minnesota. Bradley, who is projected to finish in the bottom three of the MVC, led Illinois the entire game yesterday and should have won, but couldnt hold on and lost 75-71. None of these games were home games for the Missouri Valley. Whenever they play top notch competition, they either win or are very competitive in their losses. They are legit. Theyve definitely moved up to take Conference USAs place as the best non BCS conference.
Missouri State did fall to Oklahoma State 73-70 in overtime yesterday. It wasnt so much as big a loss for Missouri State as it was a big win for Oklahoma State, which is something they didnt have a whole lot of last season. It would have really helped out Missouri State if they had won by improving their profile even more, but it certainly didnt hurt them and getting a big win over Wisconsin just the day before means theyre doing alright, at least for right now.
Creighton, who at the beginning of the season appeared to be the best team in the MVC, has been winning, but not impressively. They barely scraped by George Mason yesterday 58-56. Granted George Mason was a Final Four team last season, they lost a lot of contributing players and arent really the same team. One would have expected Creighton to have an easier time.
-Virginia Tech takes on Southern Illinois in the Old Spice Classic. Both teams lost in the first round, so this is for fifth place. Still, it is a head to head game between two teams who feel they are good enough to make the NCAA Tournament, and that is all the selection committee cares about, so even though its for fifth place, its important in the long run.
-West Virginia will face Arkansas in the championship game. Arkansas has a big win over a good Southern Illinois team already. West Virginia, like Arkansas, is unbeaten, but they really havent been tested yet. Theyve still looked pretty good though and this is a good chance for them to get a statement win.
-Connecticut will face Albany, who is one of the better teams in the America East and could end up winning 25+ games this season. Albany gave them a little bit of a scare in the NCAA Tournament last year when they built up a twelve point second half lead. If Albany were to pull the upset it would go a long way as far as giving them a statement win and making a case that they are worthy of an at large bid. That isnt likely to happen, but if they can manage 25 wins and avoid bad losses they just might sneak in even if they fail to win their conference tournament. Albany will definitely have to play better than they did in their last game though, where Sacred Heart beat them handily.
-George Washington is 4-0 and will travel to Providence today, who is clearly the best team theyve played so far.
-Gonzaga and Virginia will play in Buy Games.