Sorry this is a couple days late. I hope you all that live in the Louisville-area are checking out the Freak Show with John Renshaw on the CW at 11:30 PM weeknights. We have excellent guests on nearly every night and the show is very interactive with callers. If you haven’t ever seen or heard the freak, give him a week or two and he’ll definitely start growing on you. Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday, but we are in the thick of things here in hoops. On to the week that was in college ball…
– Wake Forest beat #1 Duke then lost to a Georgia Tech team that was previously winless in the ACC. Older brother Alade (GT) got the best of lil’ bro Al-Farouq Aminu. The younger Aminu has overtaken Greg Monroe as the best freshman in the country and he showcased his skills in the win against Duke Wednesday in what was the best game of the week. Wake looked to have the game on lockdown until Duke came back to tie in the final minute only to have the Deacs hit a GW shot at 0.8 seconds. The Devils were caught with their pants down on an underneath out-of-bounds play giving Wake the win. The GT game is merely a speed-bump for the Deacons who are poised for a long run in the tourney. They have 4 formidable big-men, a go-to scorer in Jeff Teague and a wildcard in Aminu which has been a formula for success in NCAA history.
– Is North Carolina the “pink elephant in the corner of the room” right now? It seems as though people hyped hem up so much and had such high expectations that they are being overlooked after only 2 losses. They still have the most talented team in the country tourney experience. Wayne Ellington has found his shot and their freshman (Larry Drew, Ed Davis) are maturing very well. Their only problem in my mind is Ole Roy Williams. How many times can you remember Roy having the best team in the country going into the tourney, only to lose to the likes of Rhode Island in the second round? There’s no reason the Heels should have to hit a buzzer-beater to beat a young Florida St team. Williams has a history of blowing these kind of opportunities. It’s not necessarily the case for this team, but it is something to keep in mind in the home-stretch.
– I put Michigan St. and Oklahoma in the same boat. It would be called the SS Paper Tiger. Both teams have a mix of talent that should be able to beat any team in the country…..on paper. Both teams have players that should dominate anything the other team could throw at them….on paper. In reality, both teams have gaping holes and neither should be ranked as high as they are. When any kind of pressure is applied, Izzo’s Spartans fold up like a cheap suit. They have all the talent, but no “go-to” guy. Oklahoma just needs to get pushed around a little to be beaten and if you’ve read my previous posts, you know I think Blake Griffin is soft like milk-toast when put toe-to-toe with someone that won’t back down. Regardless, the Sooner guards are inconsistent and their lone player other than Griffin that i’d want on my team is freshman Willie Warren. Remember this when preparing to fill out brackets later.
– I’m more sold on teams like Xavier and Butler who play well as a team and don’t really depend on one particular player to carry them. Both join Gonzaga as the premier mid-major programs and probably the only ones that wouldn’t completely bomb in a BCS conference. The only problem these teams have encountered in the past is lack of competition in conference to prepare for the dance. All 3 have triend to spear-head that by scheduling harder non-conference opponents. it will be interesting in the coming weeks to see if these three schools have widened the gap between them and members of power-conferences.
Now to the week that will be…..
Sunday – There is a little thing called the Super Bowl that comes on around 6:30. I took the Cardinals getting the points, but I say the Steelers win on a last-minute field goal after Arizona takes a big early-lead. Your college hoops fix can be found – if you don’t feel like watching Bob Costas interview Bruce Springsteen – at noon on ABC in the form of Cincinnati and Villanova. Cincy has had a relatively disappointing season thus far and Nova is looking to build off their PITT victory. The Dukies look to rebound from the Wake loss aginst ACC doormat Virginia at 2 on FoxSports.
Monday– The college basketball spotlight is on Freedom Hall as the Cards take on soon-to-be #1 UCONN at 7. A titanic match-up of the two hottest teams in the country. Louisville matches up well with UCONN’s depth and the Huskies can withstand the Cards’ pressure. Could be one of the top 5-10 games of the year if both teams play like they have been lately. In the second game, Kansas takes on Baylor in what should also be a great game on lesser of a scale. Both teams should be in the tourney, but are jockeying for position.
Tuesday – As Cat fans watch Jarvis Vernado commit a NCAA record 27 fouls in one game, the rest of the non-Raycom nation will check out Purdue-Ohio St. on ESPN. After a rough start, OSU C BJ Mullens is coming into his own, almost doubling his point and rebound output. The Boilers have won 6 straight after starting their Big TEN campaign 0-2 and have risen to #14 in ESPN’s power rankings. Devan Downey and So. Carolina hope to keep their streak of good luck going against Florida. Last week, the Gamecocks beat the Gators on a last second lay-in and we all saw what happened yesterday. If Darrin Horn’s squad could go on a little run, they could oust Florida or Arkansas for a tourney selection.
Wednesday – Best night all week for a college hoops fan. 7-8 high-caliber games led off by WVU/Syracuse at 7 on the mothership. West Virginia looked lost against Louisville and Syracuse got a bill laid on them by a providence team not really known to light up the scoreboard. Both teams are in need of a win to boost their NCAA resume. Two of the best guards in the country square off in Miami as Jack McClinton takes on Wake’s Jeff Teague at 7:30 on the deuce. Tennessee goes to Fayetteville in a game pitting two SEC teams that are in a big funk right now. Like WVU/Cuse, both of these teams can’t really afford to lose which could correlate into a good game. Duke takes on Clemson at 9. The Tigers could pull the upset, but this is about the time of year when they take a nose-dive after a hot start. Duke should handle business on the road.
Thursday – A battle of the top teams in the Atlantic 10 starts the night on ESPN as Temple travels to Cincy to take on Xavier. Temple’s Dionte Christmas has 10 games scoring over 25 points, including a 35 point effort against Tennesee earlier in the season. The Muskies have 8 players averaging 6 or more points in a very balanced attack. Illinois goes into Wisconsin, which now looks to be an easier place to win after Bo Ryan started his career something like 100-2 at home. The Badgers have lost 3 games in Madison this year. In a late night tip, Gonzaga looks to avenge and early season loss to Portland at 11 on ESPN2. The Zags are flying below the radar and I still consider them one of the top 15 teams in the country. The human polls will catch up with the computers soone enough with the Zags who haven’t lost any talent despite losing a couple games.
Back to the regular Friday spot next week. Make sure you check out The L Yes! Report. A place where the beer flows like wine and the women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. You’re more than welcome to take all your frustations out on me…proceed…