We have a new #1 in college hoops after a week filled with many thrills and much excitement. There were a few question marks surrounding PITT before the past week, mostly regarding the pan of cupcakes they feasted on early in the season. Although the mighty Heels might still be the best team when it’s all said and done, as of right now Jamie Dixon’s Panthers are deserving of their throne for the first time in school history. Dixon has a great combination of battle tested players and young talent. The trio of G Levance Fields, F Sam Young and F/C DeJuan Blair is comparable to any threesome (twss) you can bring outside of Chapel Hill. However, the only team of any great substance they have played is Georgetown, and the jury is still out on the Hoyas after back-to-back losses. Who would win if PITT played UNC? I say Carolina, but not by much.
– By far the strangest thing to happen all week was seeing UNC lay an egg against BC at home Sunday. The Heels lost. No big deal. They will be fine. What made it so strange was BC coming home for their first game after the upset to about 206 screaming fans and promptly losing to Harvard. It was the Ivy league school’s first win against a ranked team in school history. I’m sure they were doing logarhythms all night long to celebrate. The completely debunks any “we-beat-them-they-beat-you” argument anyone could possibly make this season. If anything, this keeps the Heels from the “undefeated” discussion all year and in turn shows the rest of college basketball that they are beatable.
– An up-and-down week for Frankengody and Notre Dame. After losing to BIG EAST cellar dweller St. John’s on Saturday, the Irish won a big game against G’town on Monday behind 31 from ‘gody. The Hoyas were coming off a stretch of @UCONN, home for PITT, then @ND. That’s 3 top 10 teams in 7 days, so the Hoyas might have been spent. The Irish rely a lot upon outside shooting to open up the interior for the gentle giant. PG Tory Jackson is 2nd in the BIG EAST with 6 assists a game and the team leads the loaded conference in scoring. However, it’s pretty much inexcusable to lose at St. John’s when there was more green-and-gold in the stands than red.
– As we get deeper into conference play, it looks like we will have some wide open races in major leagues. Here’s a quick rundown: In the Big Ten, there are 5 or 6 teams with a legitimate shot at taking the conference crown with Michigan St. holding a slight edge over Wisconsin, Michigan, Purdue, Minnesota, and Ohio St. The SEC in my mind is a race between 3 teams (UK, Tennessee, Arkansas) with Florida on the outside looking in. The Gators lack the toughness to fit in with the top 3, but may slip in as the season progresses. As deep as some people seem to think it is, the ACC is a 3 team race. Of course Carolina and Duke are mainstays, but Wake Forest could give the two perennial powers a run for their money. The Deacs went into Provo and defeated BYU this week to hold onto their unblemished record. Miami leads the second tier along with the overrated BC and Clemson squads. I think the rest of the Big 12 will give front-runners Oklahoma and Texas a run for their money. Teams like Texas A&M (14-1) and #23 Baylor will give the two powers all they can handle along with a young Kansas team. The Pac 10 is way down this year with usual solid competitors Arizona, Oregon and Wazzou struggling mightily. I see UCLA running away with it as James Harden and Arizona St will have the best chance to dethrone the Bruins. 9 teams in the top 25 make the BIG EAST the hardest to gauge. The yearly bottom-feeders are progressing towards the rest of the pack, making it a death march for every team.
– This year’s freshman class has been very disappointing to me although it could just be a byproduct of last year’s ridiculous group. Last year there were nearly a dozen freshman I would stop everything to watch play and I can’t even name one this year. The best I’ve seen so far is Greg Monroe of Georgetown. He still needs some polish, but he can do it both inside and out. Al-Farouq Aminu is a very close second as he is averaging close to a double-double (13-9) on an undefeated team. It’s hard to choose which guard between Fortson, Rosario and Curry is better. Here are my mid-season Frosh All-Americans…
G– Courtney Fortson, Arkansas G– Seth Curry, Liberty F– Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake F-Greg Monroe, Georgetown F/C– Samardo Samuels, Louisville
G– Mike Rosario, Rutgers G– Willie Warren, Oklahoma G/F– Sylvan Landesberg, Virginia F– Chris Singleton, Florida St. F/C– Yancey Gates, Cincinnati
On to the week that will be…
Friday– As it has been all year, Friday is a pretty dull night for hoops. However, you can catch St. Mary’s PG Patty Mills at 11pm on the U, as his Gaels take on Steve Nash’s alma mater, Santa Clara. Mills might be the quickest player in America (Lawson, Flynn) and is just an absolute jet out there on the floor. He is averaging close to 20 a game in his sophomore season after leading his Ausralian national team in the Olympics this past summer. Santa Clara brings Big John Bryant (6-10 305) to attempt to add another loss to St. Mary’s 13-1 record.
Saturday– Fifteen Top 25 teams are in action. Most people around this area will be occupied with local teams until around 4. If not, catch Kansas at Michigan St. at 1 on CBS. Kalin Lucas has the Spartans running and they are finally starting to show the signs of a top 10 team. Jack McClinton and Miami should prove that they should be in the top 25 and not BC at 7 on the U. It will be a treat to see two players like Tyrese Rice and McClinton face off, they both have the chance to catch fire at any time. At 9, Travis Ford and his small-ball approach at T. Boone U hosts 14-1 Texas A&M (ESPNU). OK. St features one of the better sophomores in the country, James Anderson, hoists a whole lot of trifectas, and has an exact mini-me like clone of Coach Ford, Keiton Page. I don’t know if he’s as good a shooter, but he’s just as small and unathletic looking.
Sunday – The game of the day will be the test to see if Wake Forest is the truth or not. The Demon Deacons host Psycho T and the Heels. The outcome of the game will most certainly fall in the hands of the referees and how much they let Psycho T get away with. If they call a foul every time someone grazes him then UNC wins in a blowout because he’s deadly from the line. If they let Wake play physical inside, this could be a pretty good game. I hate bringing in the officials, but I know I don’t stand alone in thinking Hansbrough gets away with/gets quite a lot inside. Wake loves to run-and-gun and have enough depth to stay with the Heels. #3 vs. #4 tips off around 8 on FoxSports. If you want to take a break from football, check out Purdue v. Wisconsin at 1:30 on CBS.
Monday – Big Monday brings two solid match-ups as two teams that are struggling in different ways, Louisville and Notre Dame face off in Freedom Hall at 7. In some polls, both of these teams were ranked in or around the top 5 and have not played up to expectations. Both got back on track last week and this should be a great game. Texas goes to Norman to face Blake Griffin and the Sooners at 9. Big man Dexter Pittman is going to have to take Griffin off his game and the Texas guards should outperform the OU guards.
Tuesday – It’s rivalry night as UK takes on Tennessee, Kansas/K-State, Indiana/Ohio St. and Mount Marty/South Dakota. That last one isn’t made up, but if you met somebody and they said “Yea..I played a little ball in college…4 years at Mount Marty”, wouldn’t you laugh? Anyway, the Ladies Man took an L to Gonzaga in OT Wednesday and will likely fall out of the rankings, but this should be interesting to see how UK handles UT’s athletes. Indiana took Michigan to OT, but lost, and will struggle to win more than one game in the league. I see them possibly knocking off a conference leader later on in the season. Mount Marty plays at 8 if you were wondering.
Wednesday – Illinois has been one of the surprise teams this year, but they face one of the two teams that defeated them , Michigan, for the second time in 10 days. See Manny Harris take on Demetri McCamey at 8:30 on the Big Ten Network. Georgetown is deep into a 6 game stretch against 5 top 10 teams as they take on Syracuse at 7:30. Remember, if Cleveland St. doesn’t hit that 3/4 court shot, the ‘Cuse is 16-0 with a legit beef on #1. They begin a tough 4-game stretch with Notre Dame, PITT and Louisville following the Hoyas. You can’t doubt that the BIG EAST is just a complete monster for every team.
Thursday – 8 ranked teams in action and if you’re game for a triple-header I suggest starting with UCONN against St. John’s at 7. The Johnnies beat Notre Dame, but I seriously doubt they will have the same luck with the formidable Huskies front line. Make the switch to the BTN at 9 for Tubby ball against Wisconsin in a game that only true fans will enjoy and most of them will be falling asleep. The formula has worked wonders for both Tubby and Bo Ryan, but it is definitely not as exciting as some other brands of ball. first team to 60 wins if either even reach that much. the nightcap at 11 on FoxSports is Arizona at UCLA. Once a can’t miss game, the Lute Olsen departure caused the series to lose hype. Nonetheless, it’s an in conference rivalry and a chance to watch Chase Budinger play.
If you’re having a bad day thinking about a certain game or shot, just remember…at least Steve Kragthorpe isn’t your footbal coach… GO TO THE L YES! REPORT!!!!