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.