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.