News, Notes and Highlighted Games for Thurs, 1/25

News, Notes and Highlighted Games for Thurs, 1/25
Jan 25, 2007, 01:14 am

-The SEC West features two teams that are ranked, but shouldn’t be. LSU was beaten handily by Vanderbilt on their home court. Vandy is a good team, but isn’t ranked. LSU, who is ranked is now 2-3 in conference play with only two road wins on the season (Tulane and Oregon State). LSU was blown out by Arkansas in their previous game.

Alabama was blown out…again…on Tuesday night. Alabama is 15-4, but they’ve lost three of their last five and have just one true road win. Not only have they lost, but they’ve lost badly. All three of their losses came against unranked teams by 20+ points. They had to come from eighteen points down at home to win against Georgia, or else they’d have lost four of their last five.

The Auburn Tigers are currently in first place in the SEC West at 3-3 in league play.

Georgia blew an 18 point lead against Alabama in their last game, but made up for it on Wednesday when they overcame a 17 point deficit to defeat Kentucky in overtime. It was another big win for Georgia. I guess everything evens out in the end.

-Notre Dame point guard Kyle McAlarney was suspended from the university in relation to a marijuana charge he had been facing. Obviously he’ll be missing the rest of the season. He played in their first twelve games, including their win against Maryland which is their best win and their only true road win, and he played in their win against Alabama. The selection committee will factor in his absence.

I am a little bit surprised by this. I’ve worked in college student personnel before, and to suspend a student for an entire semester for a first time marijuana charge is a much more serious punishment than any university I’ve ever been involved with in any capacity. I don’t know what Notre Dame’s policies are, and I also don’t know if there were other factors involved, but that punishment sounds like it’s along the lines of a very conservative Christian or Baptist University, not a private Catholic school such as Notre Dame that has on-campus bars and substantial tailgating at football games. His arrest actually took place off-campus. Had he been attending a Public University, I don’t believe the university discipline board would have had any jurisdiction to get involved. His punishment would have simply been between himself and the law of the state. The only other punishment involving the university he would have faced would have been between himself and his coach for violating team rules. However, private schools can make their own policy when it comes to off-campus behavior, and obviously Notre Dame has a stiff penalty against using marijuana on or off campus in its student handbook.


-CLEMSON AT DUKE (ACC) (***Pod System Implications***). Both of these teams currently have resumes that suggests they are pod system teams, but I question whether or not Clemson will end up there by the end of the year. A win at Duke would be one of their most impressive on the year so far, and would solidly show that they aren’t just a solid tournament team, but a team that could end up seeded #4 or better. It would also be Clemson’s first win against an RPI top 25 team. Duke is 16-3 on the year and has won three straight after going into a “slump” where they lost two games to two currently ranked teams. Clemson has just two losses on the year, so these are two heavyweights.


-UCLA AT CALIFORNIA (Pac Ten). UCLA continues to win at a pace that will earn them a #1 seed. California is a team that has played well recently, but hasn’t picked up enough quality wins to be considered a top tournament team. A win tonight would go a long way in accomplishing that. Playing at home will give them an advantage. Cal has won four of their last six and played very well in a losing effort against Oregon in their last game, but they haven’t done enough yet to be considered a tournament caliber team. A win in this game would go a long way.

-BUTLER AT LOYOLA, IL (Horizon League). When it comes to talent, Loyola appears to be the second best team in the Horizon and was favored by many to win the conference coming into the season. This is a big game for them at home and will likely turn out to be one of Butler’s biggest challenges between now and the end of the season. Butler is solid either way barring a complete meltdown, and if they can win this game and either win out or come close to it, don’t be surprised to see them seeded 4th or better.

-LOUISIANA TECH AT NEVADA (WAC). Nevada is coming off a loss to New Mexico State, which put them in a tie for first place, but all and all they are still in good shape as far as making the NCAA Tournament. They just can’t afford to go into the tank in a conference like the WAC, because none of their losses would look all that good on their resume.

-USC AT STANFORD (Pac Ten). Both of these teams appear to be NCAA Tournament teams right now. Stanford probably still has some work to do, and a win in this game would really help them out, but both have been playing very well lately in a strong Pac Ten Conference. It seems like every game in this league is pivotal, and this one is no different. Both need good wins to improve and solidify their resume, and this is a chance for each team to get one. Just one game separates the two in the standings, and in a race as tight as the Pac Ten, all the games are meaningful.

-OREGON AT WASHINGTON (Pac Ten). Washington entered conference play nationally ranked, but has done nothing impressive since then. They have just one league win, and would need to win about four in a row just to get back into consideration. Oregon, on the other hand, has been very impressive, and is in a position to finish first and earn a #1 seed if they keep it up. It’s never easy to win on the road in this league, but they appear to clearly have the superior team in this game.

-OREGON STATE AT WASHINGTON STATE (Pac Ten). Wazzu has been nothing short of spectacular this season. Oregon State has played some pretty good basketball at points, but is just 8-11 on the year and have lost six of their last seven. Washington State should be able to take care of business. A loss would actually be rather damaging because it would come against a low caliber team, and it would drop them in the standings. It wouldn’t keep them out of the tournament, but it would certainly be a blemish on their resume.

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