Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bracket Buster 1

Here are the Bracket Buster standings through MONDAY night's games (last night not included). I will post these weekly until the pairings are announced. I listed them by RPI, even though it's still to early for that to mean much. But, there is enough to show who is in good position early on. It seems that the power is stacked on the "away" side this year with Davidson, St. Mary's, Creighton, and Evansville all in that column.

Other interesting stories to follow:
1. Which home teams will be a in a position to score big against one of those four assuming they keep playing at a high level? Butler, of course, and probably Illinois State. Who else? Utah State? VCU? The door is open for some ambitious team on the home side.
2. Most people who care about this blog know that the Valley race will be extra-interesting this year with SIU down, Drake depleted, and a resurgent Evansville. But, also keep an eye on the MAAC. Siena was expected to be very good, but Niagara already holds five true road wins. Further, Fairfield has come out of the gate 2-0 and currently lead the standings. The Saints are still the fave, but the Purple Eagles (and possibly the Stags) look to be worthy challengers.

Last Night's GOI
--at Arkansas 96, Oklahoma 88. Hogs hand Sooners their first loss and cash in a monster win at home.
--at Butler 72, UAB 68. UAB maintains their vanilla profile.
--at Dayton 66, George Mason 62. Hard-fought "W" for the 12-1 Flyers.
--New Mexico 68, at New Mexico State 66. Proving, once again, that in-state rivalry games rarely disappoint.
--Illinois 71, at Purdue 67 (OT). How many Big 10ers think they can win in Mackey? Illini take the inside track early in the Big 10 race.
--Clemson 98, at South Carolina 87. Tigers get it done in a rivalry road game that was a track meet.
--at Wright State 71, Cleveland State 62. BEWARE THE RAIDERS! Their defense has been absolutely stifling over the last eight games in which they are 7-1 after an 0-6 start. STIFLING, I say.

Tonight's GOI
--Evansville at Illinois State. Is it me, or have there been a disproportionate number of titanic early season conference games? This is 2/3 of the best teams in the Valley so far this season.
--UNLV at Louisville. Both of these clubs could use a nice win, although UL will have far more chances in their conference as the season goes on.
--North Carolina at Nevada. It's news anytime the undisputed #1 goes on the road in non-conference, much less against a WAC school.
--Wisconsin at Michigan. Badgers are down a bit, Wolverines are ticking upward. Big statement game for both teams.
--Michigan State at Minnesota. Same here. MSU is a perennial fave, but Gophers are unblemished and have a neutral court win over Louisville.
--Northwestern at Penn State. Now we see if we are to take the Wildcats seriously. PSU is no world-beater, but if NW'n can win any conference games on the road, it's time to start looking at them as a potential NCAA team.
--Gonzaga at Utah. Wobbly Zags now face schizophrenic Utes in a dangerous game.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Word On Memphis

The Memphis Tigers took care of Cincinnati last night in a game they absolutely needed to win. It may seem early to talk of "must wins," but last year's national runner-up and perennial high seed in recent seasons could be in some Bubble trouble this season, and a loss last night would have made their situation even more difficult.

Memphis had three big chances to score a signature win...and whiffed in a neutral game with Xavier, a game at Georgetown, and could not hold their home court against Syracuse. Cincy is their best win (currently #52 RPI) and without a somewhat unexpected big season from the Bearcats, the Tigers' non-conference resume is pretty weak. Add to that the CUSA has no other top teams, and it could get dicey for Calipari's squad especially if they lose a number of conference games. They do play at Tennessee on Jan 24, so there is one more shot at a big scalp. Outside of that, they are likely going to need to finish in the top two in CUSA to be under serious consideration for an at-large. The chances of that are good, but Memphis is far from the near lock they have been by Christmas the past few seasons (three straight THIRTY win seasons).

Last Night's GOI
--at Baylor 79, Portland State 66. Bears move to 10-1.
--Davidson 79, at College of Charleston 75. The best chance that Davidson had of losing in conference is now behind them with a "w" in the results column.
--Georgetown 74, at UConn 63. Hoyas take the inside track on the Big East race with this massive road win.
--at Memphis 60, Cincinnati 45. See above.

Tonight's GOI
--Oklahoma at Arkansas. Hogs with a chance for a big scalp at home.
--UAB at Butler. Blazers need a signature win badly.
--George Mason at Dayton. Pats need it a lot more.
--New Mexico at New Mexico State. In-state rivalry alert!
--Illinois at Purdue. Huge Big Televen opener for both teams.
--Clemson at South Carolina. In-state rivalry alert!
--Cleveland State at Wright State. Huge Horizon match up. Raiders are 6-1 in their last 7 (close loss at Wake) after starting 0-6.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pre-Lockbox List

It's still early, and a proper bracket or Lockbox is still a week or two away, but there are a handful of teams that we can put on a pre-Lockbox list of ten teams that meet the following criteria.

1. It would shock nearly everyone if they missed the NCAA Tourney.
2. The RPI and Pomeroy ratings like them.
3. They have the kind of non-conference wins that NCAA teams need.
4. They could do as expected in conference and be assured of a bid.

Here's the list that meets these criteria in my estimation.

North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, Oklahoma, Texas, Pittsburgh, Georgetown, UConn, Tennessee, Xavier

I'm not sure Tennessee and Xavier are as good as most of the other teams listed here, but they are the best teams in fairly strong conferences and they both already own some nice wins. It would be surprising if either missed.

Tonight's GOI

--Portland State at Baylor. Watch out, Bears. The Vikings have won three straight including a 27-point demolition of Montana and a win at Gonzaga.

--Davidson at College of Charleston. The two best teams in the SoCon.

--Georgetown at UConn. Clash of the Titans Game.

--Cincinnati at Memphis. Good rivalry from days of yore...and this feels like it matters in Bubbledom.

--Temple at Villanova. Owls have played a brutal schedule, but they need to win a few of the big ones.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Weekend Forecast 12/26-28

I have been traveling all over the rural grandeur that is central Kentucky this week, so it's been slow here. But, so have the games. Not a big week to say the least.

That said, as we press toward the new year, we enter conference season and that means that a lot of computer numbers and NCAA profiles are starting to round into shape. And, that means some Lockbox/bracket talk is warranted. It's coming very soon. Onto the forecast.

--UAB at Louisville. Blazers are probably a Bubble team and could use a signature win. Of course, it is worth noting that UL's best win to date is probably Lamar or a fairly run-of-the-mill Ole Miss.
--Washington State at LSU. Both have decent records but are in dire need of good wins.
--West Virginia at Ohio State. 'Eers have been pretty solid and Buckeyes are still blemish-free.
--Drake at Evansville. Drake vs the New Drake?
--Western Kentucky vs Florida State. Wildly inconsistent WKU goes up against a hot FSU team holding wins over Florida, Cincy, and Cal. Hard to predict this one and whatever the result, it will not be surprising.
--Siena at Saint Joseph's. At-large will be tough for either of these two, but it's likely they will factor into their conference races and/or tourneys.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Weekend Forecast 12/19-21

WKU pulled out a massive road win at South Alabama (69-66) last night, so my weekend will start well. It was a nice bounceback from the demolition they suffered at Evansville (score NEVER to be posted on this blog) last Saturday. Meanwhile, the Aces stayed within 18 of UNC. That's almost considered success these days.

--Wake Forest at Richmond. Deacs are spotless, but this is their first true road game.
--BYU vs Arizona State. Combined 18-1, but both lack a substantive win.
--Iowa at Drake. In-state rivalry alert!
--UConn vs Gonzaga. A potential Final Four preview and probably the biggest Clash of the Titans this weekend.
--UIC at Illinois State. Two Illinois teams that are off to great starts (combined 16-2).
--Temple at Kansas. This is #1 on my "to watch/DVR" list this weekend.
--Minnesota at Louisville. Tubby and Rick meet once again. Gophers are blemish-free, but unproven.
--Syracuse at Memphis. Cuse in a ROAD GAME! Alert 60 Minutes, immediately!
--VCU vs Oklahoma. Blake Griffin and Eric Maynor are both good at basketball.
--Rhode Island at Oklahoma State. One of those that feels meaningful to future Bubbledom.
--Davidson vs Purdue. A close #2 on my "to Watch/DVR" list.
--St. Mary's vs SIU. Gaels are building a profile, while Salukis are on a journey of self-discovery.
--Northwestern at Stanford. Combined 13-1 and will tell us what Cats are made of.
--Michigan State vs Texas. Guarantees to be a rugged affair. If you like football and basketball, this is your game. It will be somewhere between the two.
--Arkansas State at UALR. In-state, in-conference rivalry alert!
--Arizona at UNLV. Both will need this one come Selection day, I'll wager.
--Miami (OH) at West Virginia. Do NOT sleep on the Redhawks. You have been duly warned.
--Duke vs Xavier. Likely #2 on the Clash of the Titans list this weekend.
--Pitt at Florida State. Combined 20-1!
--Vermont at Quinnipiac. Maybe the best of the Am East vs maybe the best of the Northeast.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Watch List 2

In the second version of the Watch List, all Big 6 types have been purged. Any team who is doing well in the power conferences is going to get pub. So, here is who you may not be hearing about right now, but might show up on a bracket line in March.

Temple (5-3). The X and Dayton are feeling the love with their hot starts, but the Owls get overlooked due to three losses. Yes, two of those losses are to MAC teams, but both Buffalo and Miami (OH) have looked fairly good so far. And, they have beaten Tennessee, College of Charleston (their only loss), and won at Penn State. Plus, the Owls play 13 of their first 16 away from home. If they come through that stretch with a decent mark, 9 of their last 14 are in the friendly confines. But, even then, they drew both Xavier and Dayton on the road this season. The Owls will have a number of losses, but if they can win their home games and steal one or two on the road, they will be fine. And, they are the frontrunner for the Road Warrior Award.

Liberty (4-2). Since being torched by UNC-Asheville on Nov 18, the Flames are 4-1 with wins at Virginia as well as CAA brethren William &Mary and George Mason. They have Stephen Curry's younger brother, Seth, on the roster and he's been lighting it up. Winthrop is down, and it looks like VMI and Liberty are the class of the Big South early on.

Hofstra (7-1). The Pride is back! Long Island's best lost their first game to Clemson and have since reeled off seven straight including 5 wins away from home.

Cleveland State (6-4). The Vikings are Temple lite regarding their schedule. Their losses are at Washington, at West Virginia, and home to Butler and Kansas State. They have beaten Syracuse. They are being forged in the fire and will be a tough out in the Horizon.

Niagara (7-2). While Siena gets the MAAC TV time, the Eagles have been winning tough roadies at Buffalo and at South Florida. Their losses are to Villanova and Akron, who are a combined 15-4.

Miami (OH) (6-3). Not an overpowering record, but the three losses are to UCLA, Pitt, and Xavier. Nine of their first 12 are away from home. How's that for scheduling? They do have that win over Temple in hand and they are at West Virginia on Saturday.

Illinois State (10-0). Unblemished, but no big wins.

Evansville (5-1). The Aces completely destroyed TBB's team, WKU, last weekend. UTTERLY. Their only loss was at Butler. You may have heard that they are at North Carolina on Saturday.

BYU (10-0). The only team to beat Utah State so far, but no monster wins.

Jacksonville State (5-1). Hottest team in the OVC has won at UMass and destroyed VMI.

College of Charleston (6-1). Lost a close one to Temple, but has beaten TCU and South Carolina. Could be Davidson's strongest challenger in the SoCon.

Last Night's GOI

--St. Mary's 78, at Oregon 73. Not a great win, but a game the Gaels needed to maintain realistic at-large hopes.

-- at Pitt 79, Siena 66. Saints continue in their quest for a signature win.

--at VCU 73, Akron 69. In addition to Hofstra, VCU looks like a CAA contender.

Tonight's GOI

--Evansville at North Carolina. Aces with a BIG chance to show that they are for real. Heck, even losing by 20 might prove that against the Heels.

--WKU at South Alabama. These two plus Middle Tennessee figure to contend for Sun Belt East Division crown. This will provide a head start in positioning for one of these two.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Not Time to Open Lockbox

I got ahead of myself yesterday and posted tonight's GOI a day early. That's what you get for blogging at 5 am, I guess.

Still too early for Lockbox or brackets or anything of the like. Hang in there over the holidays and then the serious debate will begin about the time conference season begins.

Tonight's GOI
--St. Mary's at Oregon. If the Ducks don't right the ship soon, their NCAA campaign is going to be over before the Pac-10 even starts.
--Siena at Pitt. Saints have lots of chances against Big 6-types, and I'll bet they win one. But, probably not this one.
--Akron at VCU. Two consistently solid mids.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

GOI 12/16

Last Night's GOI
--Cleveland State 72, Syracuse 69. 60-foot shocker, yes. Shocking upset? Not really. CSU lost to Butler on a last second three last week. The Vikings will likely be around all season in the Horizon.
--at UL-Lafayette 86, UL-Monroe 58. Could be another LONG year for the 'Hawks in the Belt.

Tonight's GOI
--St. Mary's at Oregon. If the Ducks don't right the ship soon, their NCAA campaign is going to be over before the Pac-10 even starts.
--Siena at Pitt. Saints have lots of chances against Big 6-types, and I'll bet they win one. But, probably not this one.
--Akron at VCU. Two consistently solid mids.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Increase In Activity

I must have grades posted by noon tomorrow, so activity will pick up considerably here this week.

At some point in the next few days, we will have our first Lockbox action in the form of a "pre-Lockbox." That is, while there are no LOCK teams yet, there are a number of teams that are fairly safe to pencil into your bracket (the UNC's of the world) and doing so gives us an idea of how many at-large slots are truly up for grabs. It also allows us to look at what teams have accomplished, who is on the right track, and who may be paper tigers.

More tomorrow.

Tonight's GOI
--UL-Monroe at UL-Lafayette. Belt games are beginning to trickle.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Weekend Forecast 12/12-14

TBB will have to beg off a thorough Weekend Forecast this week (just this once) due to a mountain of grading to be done.

--Xavier at Cincinnati. Crosstown shootout rarely disappoints.
--West Virginia at Duquesne. Just have a feeling about this one.
--Western Kentucky at Evansville. Two hot mids renew a long rivalry.
--Memphis at Georgetown. Lots of big, strong youngsters in this one.
--Indiana at Kentucky. Lots of great memories for me in this long series.
--Tennessee at Temple. Good road test vs a solid team for the Vols. Good opportunity for Owls to get a signature win.
--Gonzaga at Arizona. Zags should win, but the road is a fickle mistress.
--SIU at Nevada. Two perennial powerhouse mids both under .500 at the moment.
--Oklahoma State at TAMU-CC. Big @ little.

Last Night's GOI

--at Middle Tennessee 81, Troy 53. Sun Belt faves played like it vs a weaker team.
--at Villanova 59, Saint Joseph's 56. Nova pulled one out of the fire, but I bet we will hear from the Hawks in A10 action.

Tonight's GOI
--Iowa State at Iowa. Corn-tastic in-state rivalry.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

GOI 12/11

Tonight's GOI
--Troy at Middle Tennessee. Sun Belt slate kicks off tonight!
--Saint Joseph's at Villanova. Mmm...Philly goodness.

Last Night's GOI
--Butler 87, at Bradley 75. Bulldogs not accustomed to scoring this much, but they still had more than the Braves.
--at BYU 94, Boise State 56. WOW. Cougars do not have a big win yet, but they are blemish-free and playing strong.
--at Colorado 75, Colorado State 56. No one like a blowout rivary game...unless you are the rival team on the good end of the score.
--at Creighton 77, Dayton 59. Notice to Valley: your favorite to win it is back after a less-than-Creightonish start t the season.
--Northeastern 76, at Harvard 71 (2OT). Had a feeling this was going to be a good one, hence it's presence on the GOI.
--Cal 72, at Utah 69. Bears get the medicine, Utes have now dropped two straight.
--Gonzaga 74, at Washington State 52. Not expected, but maybe we should start expecting things like this from this Zags team.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Last Night's GOI
--Purdue 68, at Ball State 39. The Boilers remind me of those "Messin' with Sasquatch" commercials. Since the loss to Duke, Sasquatch, thy name is Purdue. It's been all beef jerky and tearing limbs from their sockets since then.
--Davidson 68, West Virginia 55. Cats win without Curry playing a monster game (by his standards).
--at Georgia 67, Virginia Tech 66. Nice win for UGA, despite going 10-21 at the line on the home court!
--Drake 66, at Iowa State 63. Drake was down 10 with 8 mins to play. They held ISU to one basket over that span. Drake never led until the score was 64-62. Jared Cox went for 14/14 for the Bulldogs. In other words, the Cyclones feel like total crap today.
--Texas 67, Villanova 58. Horns collect another quality, non-conference win.
Tonight's GOI
--Butler at Bradley. Good road test for the undefeated Bulldogs.
--Boise State at BYU. Combined 13-1.
--Colorado State at Colorado. A couple of Big State U's in a rivalry game.
--Dayton at Creighton. So don't be hatin', this will be a good one, I'm statin'.
--Northeastern at Harvard. These two have looked solid early and both will likely be a factor in their conference races.
--Cal at Utah. These two raced out of the gate only to find disaster in their last outings. Cal was obliterated at Mizzou by 27, while Utah, after beating Ole Miss, Missouri State, and Oregon, lost at formerly WINLESS Idaho State.
--Gonzaga at Washington State. Excellent in-state tussle.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Not much time today, but I'll at least give you the tube times for these games.

Tonight's GOI
--Purdue at Ball State. In-state rivalry game at the "smaller" school's gym and it's Purdue's first true road game.
--West Virginia vs Davidson (7 pm ESPN). Excellent neutral court match up between two teams who need quality non-conference scalps.
--Virginia Tech at Georgia (7pm FSN). Neither has beaten a really good team yet. VT's win over Fairfield is probably the best of the two combined.
--Drake at Iowa State (9 pm ESPNU). In-state rivalry alert! Neither has a big win.
--Texas vs Villanova (9 ESPN). The two are a combined 14-1.

On Marathons

I finished the Memphis Marathon in 2.58.48 on Saturday. As I was running, at some point I realized that 26.2 miles is close to 28-29 games most college hoops teams play in a season. So, if the season is truly "not a sprint, it's a marathon," we are at about Mile 7 or so in this season. Long way to go, but enough to see where a lot of runners/teams are going to finish. More on that this week as time permits...which brings to me this news item: it's finals week at WKU, so I will have a mountain of grading to do. I am not sure what this blog will look like this week, but I'll at least try to maintain the GOI.

That said, not much vital action tonight.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Weekend Forecast 12/5-7

Some wonderful hoops this weekend, and I will spend it under a blanket of ice. Not due to any Kentucky snowstorms, but due to my running of the Memphis marathon tomorrow. Lots of fun, pain, recovery foods, and bags of ice/frozen peas on my joints on tap for me this weekend. But, that also means lots of hoops to watch.

Last Night's GOI
--UConn 68, at Buffalo 64. It was NOT easy. I like these kinds of games. It helps the nation pause before they criticize good teams from non-Big 6 conferences for losing conference road games. It's not easy to win on the road--ANYWHERE.
--Butler 50, at Cleveland State 48. Caught the 2nd half of this fantastic game. The Vikings led throughout, but a couple of late threes (including one as the buzzer sounded!) pulled this one out of the fire. Dogs get a BIG leg up in the Horizon race with a road win at a contender's place.
--Murray State 58, at Eastern Kentucky 50. Anther big conference road win among conference contenders.
--at Oklahoma 73, Southern Cal 72. Not even a punch to the man tackle could stop Blake Griffin and the Sooners.
--at Texas 68, UCLA 64. These two will be around all season for your enjoyment. These should be two very complete basketball teams by season's end. As usual.

Weekend Forecast
--Arizona at Texas A&M. Neither has been terribly impressive to this point.
--Dayton at Akron. Flyers are probably better, but there's that whole road thing again.
--Utah State at BYU. Combined 11-0.
--UAB at Cincinnati. One of those "It's early, but it feels like it means something" games.
--NC State at Davidson. Big State U on an in-state "mid-major's" home court. And a Wolf Pack win would be a MAJOR upset.
--Vanderbilt at Georgia Tech. One will bounce back from a baffling loss (Vandy to Illinois-Chicago at home and GA Tech to Penn State at home).
--Gonzaga vs Indiana. At some point, the Hoosiers will have that "we're still IU" game. Zags should be careful even though they are a much better basketball team.
--Miami (FL) at Kentucky. Cats have looked better lately, so this is a big test for the Canes after being tripped up by Ohio State at home.
--Wisconsin at Marquette. Always a special in-state game. Make sure you read Chris West's take after the game.
--Duke at Michigan. Round 2: Duke won round one in the 2k Sports Classic on Nov 21. Huge opportunity at home for the Wolverines to get that signature win for their resume.
--Murray State at Morehead State. Yes, I know Murray is good. Yes, I know Morehead is 1-6. But the Eagles should be OK this year and they have yet to play a home game. Keep an eye on this one.
--DePaul at Northwestern. A Chi-town brawl and it actually matters! Both have just one loss to date. The winner can wear the label of "NCAA hopeful."
--Rhode Island at Providence. In-state rivalry alert!
--Creighton at Saint Joseph's. Both need it pretty badly.
--Albany at Siena. One of America East's best vs One of the MAAC's best.
--Western Kentucky at Tulane. WKU is quietly building a resume. This is the first of three dangerous road games (at Evansville and at South Alabama follow).
--Baylor at Washington State. Another game that feels meaningful in future Bubbledom.
--Nebraska at Arizona State. Combined 11-1 so far.
--Florida at Florida State. In-state rivalry alert! Combined 13-2 to date.
--Maryland at George Washington. Regional rivalry with ACC at A14. Colonials are 3-1.
--Oklahoma at Tulsa. In-state rivalry alert!
--NCCU vs UT-Pan American. Combined 0-12. SOMEBODY will get their first win!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Bizarro Belt

The UALR Trojans, who were 5-0 with two true road wins and a win over Creighton, spent last night throwing an orange ball at a hoop to no avail whatsoever. They went into Missouri State probably expecting to fight to the death in a tough game and instead were plowed into the ground to the tune of 59-37. I was hoping that this UALR team was different, but this is reminiscent of past Trojan teams: big, tough, thick athletes who play very hard, but lack shooting skill. Hopefully, there will be less games like this than most years, though.

On the other hand, hapless New Orleans (who has losses to Nicholls State and Savannah State) walloped CUSA member and crosstown rival Tulane 49-39 last night. Hopefully, that did not cheese off the Green Wave too badly, as WKU gets them next on Saturday in Nawlins.

North Texas also nipped Sam Houston by 2.

Last Night's GOI
--Miami (OH) 68, at Temple 52. Beating the Owls by 16 in Philly takes some doing. RedHawks have played a murderer's row all on the road to this point and have managed a 3-3 record (losses to UCLA, Pitt, Xavier). This win over Temple sets them up for a three game home stand.
--at Maryland 75, Michigan 70. Both feel Bubbly early in the season, so this one was important.
--Illinois-Chicago 74, at Vanderbilt 55. Memorial Magic? The Flames took the wands and snapped them like twigs, drank poison and spit it in the face of Kevin Stallings, then turned a pumpkin into a chariot and smashed it at center court. Probably the "Wha...?" score of the night. UIC is 4-2 with close losses to DePaul and Bradley, though, so keep an eye on them in the Horizon.
--West Virginia 80, at Mississippi 78. Another game that might seem important come Sweaty Selection Sunday time.
--at Utah 95, Oregon 81. Utah lost their first game to a DII team...and have simply dropped the hammer on every opponent since including Mississippi, at Missouri State, and now the Ducks. They are 5-0 and rolling.
--North Carolina 98, Michigan State 63. The Tar Heels are good at playing basketball. Seriously, they are making some pretty decent teams look like garbage.
--at Northwestern 73, Florida State 59. Wildcats are now 5-1 with only a narrow loss at Butler.

Tonight's GOI
--UConn at Buffalo. Huskies take a true roadie at...Buffalo? Interesting.
--Butler at Cleveland State. Oh, yeah! A conference game that means something!
--Murray State at Eastern Kentucky. And another! Two of the better teams in the OVC.
--Southern Cal at Oklahoma. Trojans could use a solid win, but I'm betting it's not happening here.
--UCLA at Texas. If you like rough-and-tumble muscular college guys from two of America's finest institutions...or defense, this game is for you.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Tops Consolidate UL Win, Beat Georgia 67-63

Now no one can call the WKU win over Louisville a fluke.

Off of just two days rest, WKU again rose to the challenge of a bigger, stronger BCS team and defended their home court, outlasting the Georgia Bulldogs 67-63. This one is deserving of a game log.

There were at least 500 students snaked around the front of Diddle arena in the breezy, cold night waiting to get inside and cheer for this Card-killing Topper club. My spirits rose, knowing that it was going to be loud and proud all night long. And it was.

9:52--It was a carbon copy of pretty much every game in this series. WKU came out hyped and tight and the shots were not falling. UGA built a slim 15-12 in the slugfest.

1.50--Much like ancient wars of olden times, each side picked its fiercest warrior to do battle mano a mano. UGA's Terrance Woodbury and WKU's AJ Slaughter dressed in chain mail and armed themselves with fine implements of war and met at midcourt to settle this siege. Slaughter went with the net and trident, while Woodbury chose a longsword of fine steel. In this six minute fight, Slaughter tallied 12 points (including a 4-pt play), but was edged by Woodbury's 13. Amazing stretch by both.

What resulted was a 3-pt bulldog lead at the half (38-35) and the Toppers vowing, "You may have won this battle, Woodbury, but the war is not over." Or insert your favorite movie "revenge line" here.

2nd Half
14:38--The Toppers came out with a blowtorch and opened the half on a 13-5 run built by cranking the defensive intensity up to 11. Steffphon Pettigrew capped the run with a of his 2 FG in 15 attempts. Not a typo...not a good shooting night for Grew.

5:25--From the 11.30 mark, the teams scored 5 points COMBINED with ZERO field goals. Five points in 6 mins...that's TWO teams. Oy.

4:46--With a 7-point lead and a chance to start driving some nails in the coffin, Topper F Jeremy Evans missed the front end of a 1-and-1. But wait! Pettigrew grabbed the offensive board and kicked it out to senior G Orlando Mendez-Valdez...who inexplicably launched an inexplicable ill-advised inexplicable three. UGA grabbed the carom, and scored four straight and forced a 30-second timeout.

0.00--However, the WKU defense clamped down again, and the Toppers cashed in their free throws down the stretch.

The crowd and atmosphere was electric in a packed Diddle Arena. Georgia put up a valiant effort, but WKU was able to come off their taxing win vs Louisville and two days later beat a big, brawny, tough bunch of Bulldogs. The young Dawgs will need solid PG play and to contend in the SEC, but they have enough quality bigs to be pretty good if the perimeter is decent.

The Tops are riding very high after dispatching SIU, Louisville, and Georgia in the last six days. They will now try to take their defensive show on the road at Tulane on Saturday.

Last Night's GOI
--Saint Joseph's 77, at Lehigh 64. Hawks over Mountain Hawks.
--Houston 70, at Middle Tennessee 67. Raiders fail to capitalize at home against both Tennessee and Houston.
--at SIU 64, Saint Louis 48. Salukis restore a bit of order after a 1-3 start.
--at WKU 67, Georgia 63. See above.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Watch List 1

OK, we know some teams are VERY good right now and will likely be good the whole winter long. There is no need to sing the praises of teams like North Carolina, Duke, UConn, Oklahoma, Texas, Pitt, and a few others. No, the focus here is on clubs that are not getting tons of buzz but have accomplished more than most everyone else in November.

This is not an exhaustive list, just some teams that deserve watching.

Illinois State (7-0). They have four wins away from home including true road W's at Wright State and SMU.

Utah (4-0). Beat Ole Miss on a neutral court and won at Missouri State.

Jacksonville State (3-1). Lost at South Carolina in game #1, but have won three straight including wins at Georgia State, at UMass, and a neutral win over VMI by 28.

Florida State (7-0). Neutral court wins over Cincinnati and Cal.

College of Charleston (4-1). Lost a close one to Temple, but has beaten TCU and South Carolina.

Lamar (3-0). Only team with a winning record so far in the Southland and they are spot-free with wins at UL-Lafayette and at Rice.

UALR (5-0). Two true road wins over Cal Poly and Pepperdine, plus impressive home win over Creighton.

Tonight's GOI
--Saint Joseph's at Lehigh. Hawks v. Mountain Hawks. Hawks should beware: Mountain Hawks are 5-1.
--Houston at Middle Tennessee. The Belt fave has a good shot to score a nice win at home.
--Saint Louis at SIU. Both are 1-3 and need a cure for their ills.
--Georgia at WKU. Tops with a chance to back up that big Louisville win with another BCS takedown.Big Televen/ACC Challenge. Check your listings. Duke at Purdue is probably the cream of tonight's slate.