Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ursine Upwardness

Bears. Or, as Stephen Colbert refers to them: godless, marauding, machines of death. They are large, strong, and fast. The fastest humans cannot outrun them and the strongest of our kind cannot overpower them. One species (Chicago) assembled one of the greatest footballs teams of all-time. They ran. They passed. They shuffled. One bruin species (UCLA) ripped off the most dominant run in NCAA hoops history a few decades back.

Two friends of Katow-Jo are off to encouraging starts this season. The mid-southern variety of bruins, called Belmont, have taken quite well to migration around the region in November. Belmont is 4-2 and has yet to play a home game. These Bruins have clawed out wins at Cincinnati (BearCATS? Pfffft. That's an insult to real bears), Samford, and last night at Alabama. They still have a game at Xavier on the docket. Belmont only has three non-conference home games, but if they keep up the road wins, they can build a nice profile. Also, the media is gaga over the A-Sun, but there is some serious dead weight at the bottom that will hurt the league's overall strength: Campbell, North Florida, Stetson and Kennesaw State do not figure to be very good, and newcomer Upstate South Carolina is 0-4 so far in their first go-around. Mercer got a lot of pub for that big win over USC, but they have lost three straight since, including a pasting at the hands of Harvard.

The other Bear club is of the Waco, Texas variety, the Baylor Bears. The ugly days of the Dave Bliss era in some ways seem long ago, but the ramifications reverberated through the last few seasons. However, at this writing, Baylor is 4-0 with neutral court wins over Wichita State, Notre Dame, and Winthrop. Both ND and Winthrop expect to Dance this year, and there is room in the Big 12 for Baylor to make a huge jump. Baylor now has six of their next nine at home, including a home date against Washington State. They also have a neutral game vs Arkansas, and road games at South Carolina and Southern U.

Last Night's GOI
--Belmont 85, at Alabama 83. See above.
--Auburn 89, at Charleston Southern 59. Even 3,817 in the house could not help the Bucs in this one. They averaged 1,187 last season. But, this game was not the the CSU Fieldhouse. It was crosstown at the North Charleston Coliseum.
--Michigan State 86, Missouri 83. Sparty holds on, but Missouri looks to be going in the right direction under Mike Anderson.
--UCLA 71, Maryland 59. These other Bruins were impressive...without Darren Collison.
--Oklahoma State 83, LSU 77. LSU has been in freefall since their F4 appearance in 2006.
--Baylor 62, Winthrop 54. Good win for Baylor, and I doubt we have heard the last from the Eagles this year.
--Georgia Tech 70, Notre Dame 69. Important win for Jacket morale.

Tonight's GOI
--Oregon at St. Mary's. Attendance watch.
--Maryland vs Missouri. Should be a rip and run affair.
--Michigan State vs UCLA. Should be a smashmouth affair.
--Duke vs Illinois. Illinois beat Hawai'i on their home court, so this should be an interesting one.
--Oklahoma State vs Marquette. Cowboys could use a confidence win and Marquette is prone to some early season puzzlers.