Reviewing This Past Week's Action
|by: Drew Barnette - Staff Writer
|December 1, 2006
|REVIEWING THIS WEEK’S ACTION
-Both Ohio State and North Carolina looked fantastic on Wednesday night. Ohio State went into a very hostile environment, but was very poised and got the lead early, which really impressed me. The lead seesawed back and forth for the whole game, but North Carolina finally got control at the end and ended up winning 98-89. It isn’t that bad a loss for Ohio State, especially considering they were without Greg Oden and that they were the road team. North Carolina could end up having the upper hand as far as getting the #1 seed, but if both teams end up with similar profiles Ohio State has a good argument because they weren’t at full strength.
-Boston College finally looked like a top 25 team in their win against Michigan State. It is easily the best game they’ve played this year, and it is also the highest quality win they’ve gotten so far. Jared Dudley had a huge night for BC scoring 30 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the 65-58 victory.
-Clemson remains unbeaten after blowing out Minnesota 90-68. Dan Monson ended up resigning as head coach of Minnesota and will be replaced by one of his assistants for the remainder of the season. Minnesota is just 2-5 and it looks like it’s going to be a long year for them.
-Purdue got a big time win against Virginia in the final second of the game. The Boilermakers did get two wins in the Maui Invitational, but it was after losing in the first round. This is a big win against what appears to be a quality Virginia team. That’s big for a team who has missed the NCAA Tournament three years in a row.
-Duke held off Indiana 54-51. It was a pretty sloppy game, but it was also exciting. Look for both teams to improve quite a bit between now and the end of the year. It would have been a major win for the Hoosiers, who have yet to really get a quality win yet.
-Wake Forest did not play in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Instead they traveled to Air Force and were blown out of the gym 94-58. It is Wake’s first loss, but if they continue to play that poorly there are many more to come. Air Force, on the other hand, has looked absolutely fantastic this season. They clearly appear to be a top 25 team, but unfortunately for them they don’t have a lot of big time matchups until conference play. The MWC is looking pretty tough right now though, so they should be able to build up the profile they need to get a decent seed in the NCAA Tournament.
I’ve gotten on Air Force for their schedule before, but I read somewhere the other day that they contacted over 300 div1 schools looking for games. It is very difficult for them to find opponents because no one wants to play them. They are hard to beat, but there is no reason for teams to run from them. At the very least they are a team that typically wins a high percentage of games, so they will boost a team’s RPI. They’re certainly a better opponent as far as building an NCAA Tournament resume goes than most of the cupcakes a lot of teams schedule.
-Marist beat Old Dominion 84-71 on Wednesday, which is a little surprising considering how good Old Dominion looked in their win at Georgetown. Marist is a good team who is expected to win the MAAC, but it looks like they might be better than many of us thought. They did manage two wins in the Old Spice Classic against Minnesota and Western Michigan and beat a good Old Dominion team rather handily last night. Guard Jared Jordan had a big game with 26 points and 10 assists.
-Saint Louis got a big 67-64 win on the road against Loyola, IL, who is one of the better teams in the Horizon League. Saint Louis is looking like they could play their way into the NCAA Tournament picture. Their only loss so far came to Texas A&M.
-Butler avoided what could have been an upset trap by beating Valparaiso 60-47. They do have a game coming up against Purdue on December 16th, which is a home game for them, but other than that the toughest games remaining on their schedule appear to be two games against Loyola, IL and a Bracket Buster game. If this team stays healthy they could end up with as good a record as anyone else in the country. It isn’t likely that they’ll end up with a #1 seed. Even if they go undefeated that might not be enough, but they could still end up with a very impressive seed and ranked very high in the top 25 as well.
-California blew out Kansas State 78-48. The game was pretty much over by halftime. Cal’s only loss was to San Diego State, so they appear to have a good team as well.
This raises the question about how good San Diego State is. They struggled in some of their early games and really struggled against crosstown rival San Diego the other night, but they are undefeated and do have a good win against Cal. They have a ton of potential. They don’t always play up to that potential, but they’ve played well enough to win all of their games so far.
-Nebraska continues to look impressive. They blew out North Texas to improve to 3-0 on the season. North Texas isn’t a high quality team, but they did have just one loss on the season and had a big win against Charlotte earlier, so they aren’t exactly a cupcake. Nebraska might be a dangerous team once Big Twelve play starts. They already have a big win against a pretty good Creighton team.
-Oregon defeated Georgetown 57-50. Georgetown is ranked, but has yet to look like a top 25 team, or for that matter an NCAA Tournament team. None of their wins came against good teams, and they even struggled to get some of those. They’ve played two quality opponents in Old Dominion and Oregon, and lost both games. They have Duke this weekend and that could get very ugly.
-Missouri blew out Arkansas. It was really never even a game. Mizzou has not yet played a road game, and until tonight they’d yet to play a quality opponent, but they are undefeated and appear to be very good. The fans have been frustrated with this team over the last few years and so far they have yet to pack the arena. Even tonight for their game against Arkansas there were a lot of empty seats, but after a blowout win like that against a good team it should bring the fans back. It will be interesting to see what they do on the road, but they are very tough to beat at home.
-Robert Morris suffered their first loss of the season to Pitt, but they didn’t go down without a fight. They kept it close all the way through the first half and even took a 43-42 lead about midway through the second half, but from that point on Pitt poored it on and ended up winning to stay undefeated. They have really looked impressive this year.
-Oklahoma State is another team that has looked impressive. They are unbeaten and have a big win against a very good Missouri State team. They completely dominated Texas A&M Corpus Christi the other night, who is one of the better teams in the Southland Conference. It’s not that you’d expect them to have too much trouble winning that one, but they certainly pass the style points test when it comes to how they look when they win.
-Tulsa has also looked good early. They blew out crosstown rival Oral Roberts 75-57 the other night. This is the same Oral Roberts team that won at Kansas, so it’s a good win for them. They have just one loss on the year and that was a two point loss to North Texas. They haven’t beaten any tournament caliber teams yet, but they could be good enough to make some noise in C-USA later on. They face Lamar tonight.
-Xavier is another team that appears to be very good. They beat Miami, OH pretty handily, who is much better than their record. This is the same team that had a lead against Illinois for the entire game, but blew it in the final minute and also had a very good chance to beat Kentucky. Xavier beat them pretty handily 68-53. They had a big game out of Drew Lavender.
-New Mexico survived a scare from rival New Mexico State, but ended up pulling it off 79-76 to remain undefeated on the season. They are another team that appears to be very good this year.
-A lot of big time programs play their share of cupcake opponents at this point in the year. This does next to nothing as far as helping them get to the NCAA Tournament. The biggest thing that is accomplished is that they get to play a game against an opponent they will most likely beat, and sell the game out, which gives them and their opponents somewhat of a payday. This isn’t the only way programs can make money, but it is certainly one of the ways. If a team schedules too many of these, it can really hurt them as far as making the NCAA Tournament goes, and we’ve seen many examples of that in the past.
Dick Vitale said something interesting the other night. He claimed that Southern Miss won his “Cupcake Award” for scheduling more cupcakes than anyone else. This is interesting because I never really thought of Southern Miss as being all that much better than a cupcake themselves these past few years. Should they even be eligible for such an award?? A team like Southern Miss scheduling cupcakes is much different than a team like Washington or Connecticut or someone like that doing it.
-Speaking of cupcakes, this past Tuesday was a great night to be a subscriber to ESPN Full Court. We were treated to Florida’s 83-27 thrashing of Southern and Kansas’s 83-32 thrashing of Dartmouth.
-This has nothing to do with my Bracket Projections. I’m trying to guess the committee when I do those, not necessarily state where I think teams should be ranked.
3. North Carolina
6. Ohio State (without Oden)
11. Wichita State
13. Oklahoma State
16. Air Force
18. Texas A&M
23. Georgia Tech
-There are still about 35 teams that I’ve seen that look like they could be top 25 teams. San Diego State and New Mexico come to mind, but in the case of New Mexico they really haven’t beaten anybody THAT good, and although SDSU is unbeaten and has a big win over California, they’ve also struggled against some pretty weak competition. Xavier, NC State, Texas, Nevada, Boston College and Nebraska have all looked very good this season as well.
This looks a lot different than the actual Top 25, but based on what I’ve seen, I think these teams have done more and looked better doing it than many of the teams ranked in the coaches and AP poll right now.
-MURRAY STATE AT TENNESSEE. This would have been a very interesting game last season, but Murray State has lost a ton of talent and Tennessee should have no trouble beating them.
-LAMAR AT TULSA. Tulsa can improve to 4-1 with a win in this one.
-TEXAS PAN AMERICAN AT IOWA. This is the Hawkeye Invitational. Iowa has not looked all that good this year and needs both these wins.
-NORTHWESTERN STATE AT MARQUETTE. Marquette can improve to 7-0 with a win in this one. This is part of a tournament and they will face either Princeton vs North Dakota State in their next game.
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