Thursday, February 12, 2009
State of the Sun Belt
WKU leads by a game due their recent gutty four-wins-in-8-days stretch. They are off tonight and figure to be heading into second place Troy on Saturday with a lot on the line if the Trojans can handle third-place Middle Tennessee tonight at home. If that holds, Troy will have won nine straight with a chance to gain a tie atop the East with a win over WKU. However, if WKU could take down the Trojans in a tough roadie, the Tops would be two clear in the East.
Elsewhere in the East, keep an eye on FIU. They got 7'0" C Russell Hicks back and 6'10 FR C Freddy Asprilla was an absolute beast before a herniated disk sidelined him. If they get healthy, FIU is a threat in the Belt tourney. Middle Tennessee is predictable underperforming this season and FAU has had an awful year in part due to F Carlos Monroe's absence. He was TBB's preseason POY pick. South Alabama simply cannot win close games (4 of their losses are by a total of 9 points), otherwise they would be in the mix. They will be a dangerous mid-seed, too.
UALR is running away with it. They are 4 clear with 6 to play, so they are cruise control. All six of the other West teams are within two games of one another, so it will be a dogfight down the stretch for seeding. North Texas is currently in second by one game over three teams. Denver is 10-2 at home, 0-11 on the road. Enough said. After a nice start, Arkansas State is 2-6 in their last 8 Belt games as the offense just cannot score enough points. UL-Lafayette is also 2-6 in their last 8, despite a couple of extremely talented players in Chris Gradnigo and Travis Bureau. UNO is a gritty bunch that always competes, but usually loses. UL-Monroe is showing signs of life, going 3-2 in their last five after a rough start.
UALR is almost guaranteed one of the three byes. WKU and Troy are in good shape, but a strong finish by MTSU could get them one as well. MTSU needs to win tonight at Troy to harbor real hopes of gaining a bye, however, and that is a tall order these days.
Last Night's GOI
--Oklahoma 78, at Baylor 63. Bears are in trouble. Sooners looking more like a 1-seed every day.
--at UConn 63, Syracuse 49. Huskies keep gaining steam, too.
--at Dayton 71, Xavier 58. Big-time bounce-back from the loss at Charlotte. Quietly, Saint Joseph's take sole possession of first in the A10.
--North Carolina 101, at Duke 87. Death, taxes, and UNC winning a big game in Cameron.
--at Memphis 63, Tulsa 37. CUSA race is essentially over.
--LSU 97, at Mississippi State 94 (2OT). LSU takes firm control in the SEC West.
--at NC State 82, Wake Forest 76. Deacs' recent road troubles continue.
--at Purdue 61, Penn State 47. Lions hopes are dwindling.
--at Utah 67, San Diego State 55. Utes earn a season split and take sole possession of first in the MtWest.
--at Wisconsin 69, Iowa 52. Badgers get one they had to have.
--Southern Cal at Arizona. Pac-10 Bubble magic.
--UCLA at Arizona State. Devils will fall three back of Bruins with a loss. Win, and they are still in the title chase.
--Illinois at Northwestern. Cats need to cash in at home to stay in the convo.
--Louisville at Notre Dame. Irish need to start the resurrection right now.
--Temple at Saint Joseph's. Two pretty good teams being overshadowed by Dayton/Xavier.
--Gonzaga at St. Mary's. Gaels are fighting for their lives without Patty Mills.