Monday, February 12, 2007

Monday 02/12 A.M. Quickie:
College Hoops: Front(line) and Center

And just like that – with the NFL behind us, the NBA in its steady-state midseason and MLB still in its rev-up stage – college hoops emerges as front-and-center in sports over the next six weeks, from this final two-week regular-season push to the conference-tournament season to Selection Sunday and the NCAA Tournament.

As I pointed out in yesterday's post, we're starting to get to that time of year in college hoops when you start watching more games on TV and you get a little more influenced for your NCAA Tournament bracket picks based on what you see.

We've got to start with the "schadukefreude": The Blue Devils lost their FOURTH straight ACC game, this time getting absolutely man-handled by mediocre Maryland, a mere Bubble team. As Nelson Muntz (or that Dixie Chick) might say: "HA-ha!"

Duke is tied for 6th in the conference, but tied with Florida State, who should get any edge, simply for beating Duke head-to-head at Cameron. That would put Duke in the bottom half of the conference, where they deserve to be.

Let's add this: Duke has no business being ranked in the Top 25 right now. How ludicrous is it that Duke, the 6th-place team in the ACC, is ranked -- but BC, in 1st place after winning yesterday at FSU, is NOT?

(For those who don't follow the Comments area, I picked BC as one of the handful of 8-10 teams with the right mix of personnel and personality to beat Florida in the NCAA Tournament.)

But, still: It's such a rare moment to see Duke be THIS beatable. What the hell do you do with that on your bracket next month? They could lose in the first weekend, but there's always that nagging feeling that they'll make their way deeper.

Or another example: If you saw Georgetown dismantle Marquette, you might be tempted to overvalue them. If you saw UCLA lose (or WVA win, depending on your perspective), you might be tempted to undervalue them. And I can't possibly tell you what to do with Butler. Or Arizona.

Don't look now, but my preseason Final Four pick Georgia Tech has won three straight and notched a huge inter-conference win over UConn. Of course, given UConn's sorry 4-9 record since their 11-0 cupcake start, it's not THAT impressive. But they are still tied for 8th in the ACC with only 16 total wins. EXTREME bubble. Speaking of "extreme bubble"...

Here's a good one: If Washington – that's "IF," given their 16 total wins and 7th-place status in the Pac-10 – makes the NCAA Tournament field, they could go from bubble entry to surprising deep run, thanks to their big frontcourt, which was on display in a win over Stanford on Sunday. (Or, UW could lose in the 1st round. And if I take them deep on my bracket, that will inevitably happen.)

And how about those suspended Gonzaga players? Pot: OK. They ARE college students. But 'shrooms... really?

On to the other big storylines around the sports world today...

How many of you agree that the NBA Finals will be the Heat and Spurs? If yesterday's game was any indication, Dwyane Wade will be ready for an encore Finals performance. He slapped the Spurs around for 26 en route to a 100-85 Heat win.

Wait: Is this the beginning of the Gilbert Arenas backlash? He's finally unable to cash checks his mouth is writing:

After vowing to torch the Blazers as retribution against Team USA assistant coach Nate McMillan, Agent Zero finished closer TO zero than to his on-the-record goal of 50. 9 points. In a brutal Wiz loss.

Let's hope this isn't an omen for Arenas heading into the All-Star break next weekend, where he is competing in the 3-point contest, starting for the East and generally expected to be ones of the weekend's uber-superstars.

Give the Celtics (who lost their 18th straight) credit for at least finding new and creative ways to lose: This time, a buzzer-beating jumper from the T'wolves' Ricky Davis.

MLB: Mauer gets 4Y/$33M extension. Credit the Twins for locking up their best young player – and arguably the best young player in the American League – with a big-market deal.

It's still probably a good $5-10 million (per year) below the value he'd get on the open market, but kudos to the Twins... and kudos to Mauer for making the commitment.

Mickelson wins Pebble Beach Pro-Am. But, more importantly, what the hell was that under Kevin Costner's bottom lip?

NASCAR: Yeah, Toyota was a huge bust in Daytona. Can I claim that it's still early? Like, years early.

NFL: The best part of the Pro Bowl ending is that we dive full-on into the draft insanity that will carry NFL fans through the end of April. ProFootballTalk has their first mock draft up, and the two most intriguing items are this: (1) JaMarcus Russell going No. 1 overall to the Raiders, particularly ahead of Brady Quinn. (2) Adrian Peterson going at No. 8 to the Texans. My take: Mario Williams and Adrian Peterson are arguably a better first-round combo over the past two drafts than Reggie Bush and the best-available defensive lineman at No. 8 this year.

Really: Did ANYONE watch the Pro Bowl? Did anyone even care that it was a thrilling, walk-off finish?

(Meanwhile, I was all set to say "Good riddance, Tiki!" But then a friend of ours gave my son a copy of the Barber brothers' children's book, "Teammates," and it was inscribed specifically to Gabe. Man... how can I dislike the guy now?

Finally, Quickie readers will remember that I annually gave at least a little space to the Westminster Dog Show -- if for nothing else than a prediction. The Dog Show is back today (and probably will earn a better cable TV rating than your average NBA game... and don't even talk about out-rating NHL...) , but if for no other reason, it's an amazing opportunity to let you quote from one of the funniest movies of all time, "Best in Show." (Better than "Guffman?" Perhaps the ultimate debate among Guest-film fans. Yeah, yeah: Let's keep "Spinal Tap" out of it for now. Recent Guest films...)

-- D.S.


Matt T said...

I can't see the Spurs coming out of the West. Not with Dallas, them potentially having to play Phoenix and Dallas. That team is showing its age.

Speaking of the Probowl..How about Sean Taylor's hit on THE PUNTER? that was hilarious. I didn't watch the pro bowl, but its on Youtube.

Ed Chavis said...

Football has exited stage left... the long, dark night has begun. All we're left with is the National Thug Association (basketball), Major League Crybabies (baseball), and all that other junk that fills "Sport or Not-A-Sport" debates (racing, golf, etc.)

Sigh. I think I'll go bash my head against a wall, just to keep that good Falcons' Fan feeling going until August.

Matt T said...

Mr. Ed,
You have April to look foward to. Draft and potential trades/free agent signings, etc.

CMFost said...

This is the week that will show what Boston College is all about. 2 Big Home games both with National TV coverage. Wednesday against Duke and Saturday against North Carolina. I am hoping to see Jared Dudley go off and show that he should be the ACC player of the Year.

This is starting to look like the year people get monkey's off there backs, Last weekend Manning and the Colts, this weekend Phil gets rid of the monkey of last years US OPEn and not that we ever talk Tennis the US Davis Cup team finally figured out how to win on Clay.

Recovering Fratboy said...

A quick observation: who would have thought we would ever get to the point where a win at Florida State (in basketball) meant something?

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

mr. ed, don't worry! michael vick will give someone herpes or go gang banging with his thug of a brother. maybe the NFL should be the national thug league also?

the first 2 rounds of the NCAA tournament is the best sports weekend of the year. top that with it being st. patrick's day on a saturday this's going to be extra fun!

ToddTheJackass said...

cmfost is exactly right, this week will be huge for BC (not even counting the Beanpot!).

I think the game against Duke will be huge (for both teams), but I honestly don't think anyone expects us to beat UNC. I realize we beat UNC twice last year, but as a huge BC fan, I'll be happy if we lose by less than 20 against the Tar Heels.

On the BC message boards, people are already suggesting that they start chanting N-I-T to Duke when they come in. I fully expect that today's rankings will not have Duke in the Top 25 (when's the last time that's happened?), but BC will squeeze in there around #24 or so.

Could be a crazy year for the NIT if they got Duke, UCONN, Syracuse, LSU, and Maryland.

Andy said...

I'm not sure why but I really haven't followed CBB a whole lot this year. But what I do know is that the MVC has a better conference RPI than 2 of the big "BCS" conferences. I think it's the Big 12 and Big East. Don't quote me on that. I think that is very impressive for a bunch of small schools to have better teams top to bottom than the Big 12 and Big East.

It does suck, however, for my UNI Panthers. They were on a roll and 4-0 in conference play and then they've lost 8 of their last 11 and are currently on the outside of the NCAA Tourney looking in. Hopefully, a win over Nevada at Nevada in this weekend's BracketBusters will happen and help their resume.

As for the NFL, I watched the first quarter and couldn't stand watching d-linemen barely even trying and no real defense period. The game is boring. They don't allow blitzing, they have to use the 4-3, there's no challenging. It's just boring.

THIS WEEK PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT!!!! Now we really get to see how Mark Prior and Kerry Wood are doing. I think Prior will be fine. Wood will get hurt.....again.

Unknown said...

Obviously I didn't see the Pro Bowl. But I did see the Sean Taylor hit. That man is crazy. The fact that he ran 30 yards just to hit the punter was insane. You might remember that I, as a Redskins fan, was very confused that he didn't make it to the Pro Bowl. But he was named as a backup when Brian Dawkins went down. Good thing too. Otherwise we wouldm't have this...

CMFost said...

I was hoping Dan with touch on this today but since he did not I have posted and interesting take on ESPN 30000th sportscenter and the effect it has had on sports.

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

1.) This is Spinal Tap

2.) Best in Show

3.) Waiting for Guffman

4.) A Mighty Wind

note: have not seen "for your consideration." any good?

"That was the first and only time I've done it on a roller coaster!"

CMFost said...

Can anyone tell me how you create a link to a web page in the comments section?

jhawkjjm said...

Big 12 is down for basketball this year. But that was expected with having 6 new coaches. I'd say right now there's probably only 4 NCAA "locks" from the Big 12: A&M, Kansas, Texas, OSU. OSU has been awful on the road, Texas is young (guy named Durant, may have heard of him). K-State, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech are on the outside looking in. Problem is the Big 12 is awful outside of the top 3-4 schools. The rest is balanced mediocrity. Down year for the Big 12 in hoops and football but should be strong going into the future.

Brian in Oxford said...

CMFost, you have to use the hypertags of

a href="link"
inside your message.

Like this.

Meanwhile, Belichick is STILL undefeated in February.

CMFost said...

Hey Dan, How is it coming getting the flow back into the comment section. Any chance you have come up with a fix to make this better then the waiting for comments to be approved?

PK said...

Of course I looked under the bed. What are you, some kind of wizard genius hotel manager?

ToddTheJackass said...

Can't tell you how much BC fans are salivating right now over having Duke at home. Obviously no guarantee that we'll win, but having Duke come visit while they're wounded should be a seriously good time.

I'll enjoy this while it lasts.

Mike said...

I agree somewhat with you on GTown, Dan. Has any team taken this long to crawl back towards its preseason ranking? It's been an interesting road, going from 8th -> out of the T25, back in. Losses @ Duke and Pitt, home vs. Oregon aren't so bad. 'Nova and ODU losses though, not so much - finally a real signature win this week. Can't get rid of a nagging feeling that they drop one this week to WVA tonight or later in the week.

Tim Susman said...

I was in a bar for dinner and watched the fourth quarter of the Pro Bowl. Best play of the game: the NFC scores to pull within 28-20. We all watch the XP, because they're funny at the Pro Bowl--the defense gets in their stance and then just stands up, not making any pretense at blocking. So we're all watching the kick, the defense stands up and watches...and it's a fake! The NFC tried to catch 'em napping with a 2-pt conversion, but Champ Bailey picked off the pass in the end zone. They got the 2 on the next score (when it was obvious they'd be going for it), but that was a great play right there--and great awareness by Bailey to break it up.

BLUE said...

I think the NFC was always going for 2 so Romo wouldn't have to hold as much.

Unknown said...

How have we not mentioned the Texas (read: Kevin Durrant) vs. Oklahoma State (read: Mario Boggan) rematch tonight?

In case you are just joining us, 4 weeks ago the first game ended with Oklahoma State pulling out a 105-103 win in 3 overtimes as Mario Boggan hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 3.2 ticks left on the clock.

Boggan played 54 minutes and connected on 13 of 27 shots, along with 10 of 13 from the stripe for 37 points and had a triple double if offensive and defensive rebounds were counted as seperate stats, as he had 10 of each.

Durrant played 52 minutes and hit 13 of his 31 attempts including 4 3-pointers and added 7 of 9 from the line for 37 points as well. He also added 11 off the glass and had 4 blocks.

At that time Texas was 23rd and Oklahoma State was 14th and now the Longhorns are 25th and the Cowboys are 17th, so not much has changed.

Both guys are most likely 1st team all-americans, but the 'Boyz have JamesOn Curry alongside Boggan while the 'Horns have Kevin Durrant alongside... well, Kevin Durrant.

Everyone who considers themselves college basketball fans should be tuning in to ESPN tonight at 9.

Natsfan74 said...

Probowl Touchdown by Marvin Harrison showed that he knows how to find the end zone in February, as opposed to January.

Georgetown is for real now. It took them a while to figure out how to play, but now they have it and they are going to go deep into the tourney.

The real question for this year's tournament is which super favorite will get upset? There is a huge gap right now between the top 5 and the rest of CBB. If the #1 seeds are UF, OSU, UNC, and UCLA (or Wisconsin), who would any of them fear in a bracket? BC might give one of them trouble. Maybe Texas or Oregon. But really? Who? And the George Mason run last year probably decreases the probability of it happening again this year if only because coaches will be able to show the perils of taking an early game lightly.

How about a football "title game" rematch for the basketball title?

ToddTheJackass said...

Glad to see Andy Katz and ESPN giving Jared Dudley player of the week last week for NCAA BB. It's ridiculous that on the Top 100 for the draft that ESPN has up on their website that they don't have Dudley listed on there at all.

Who wouldn't want a guy with that much basketball IQ?

Seriously, I can't think of any other player that I've ever enjoyed watching as much as Jared Dudley.

He's not even close to the most talented player out there (Kevin Durant), but Jared plays with heart and smarts.

Apologies to any FSU fans... that WAS a foul by Marshall with 8 ticks left... no one is denying that. We got lucky, we know it. Don't blame BC for it.

Who are the All-Americans right now? I've got Tucker and Durant as the only 'Locks'. I'd put Dudley, Noah, and Boggans in the conversation as well (in no particular order). Who am I missing?

ToddTheJackass said...

Sadly, as of right now, Duke's SOS is 4, and their RPI is at 18, so if it were selection Sunday today, they'd still probably win.

Considering they have games @ BC, UNC, etc. left, I can't imagine their SOS will go down. And as much as I'd love it if my BC team won against Duke, that's definitely no guarantee.

jhawkjjm said...


If KU could ever learn how to be consistant, they'd be in that group. This is a team that already has beated Florida on a nuetral court. Also have blowout wins over BC and Okie State. Unfortunately they've also stunk up the joint in losing to Oral Roberts (at home) and Depaul.

Dan Shanoff said...

Given that Corey Brewer was suffering from mono, Al Horford was battling an injury and that Joakim Noah was also under the weather, I think that the fact that Florida was a missed-3 away from beating Kansas -- who played inspired, by the way... I don't mean to downplay the W, which was huge -- in that game means that in a rematch, Florida would snap Kansas in half.

Imagine how motivated the Gators would be to get a chance to avenge that loss to Kansas. Kansas couldn't possibly match that intensity... not after winning that game. I would actually have put Kansas on that list if they had LOST a close one to Florida in Vegas.

(This is partially why playing Georgetown in the NCAA Tournament should scare the crap out of Florida and why the Hoyas make my list of 8-10 teams that can beat Florida in March: The Hoyas gave Florida their toughest game of the Tournament last March -- by far -- and I could imagine that Georgetown's motivation in a rematch would be higher than Florida's motivation to beat them again.)

Brian in Oxford said...

I don't think Duke has the same national appeal at basketball that say, Notre Dame's football team does, where organizers are like, "we gotta get them because of their mass following".

Yeah, lots of people are sick of Duke, but it's not compelling TV just to sit around to see if they do get beat.

I don't think the selection committee will favor them on purpose because they're Duke. Plus, if they get to 20 wins in the ACC with 7-9 or better, they'll get in based on schedule strength. The real sad part is that we all just KNOW Billy Packer won't take anyone to task if they ARE a controversial selection in the end. Hell, the talking head most likely to come down against Duke would be Bilas, and Vitale would probably try to attack his loyalty over it!

Unknown said...

The comment on Harrison and a pro bowl touchdown..
Maybe I'm misreading..but I thought Harrison didn't play in the Pro Bowl...

The thing about CBB is that teams have an incredible opportunity to evolve from the early season to the tournament. Kansas beat a weak Florida team by 3 early in the season. While your wisdom on a rematch is is the idea that Kansas has also improved to the point that they'd beat Florida again.
I missed your list of teams that can beat Florida, but by tourney time..the top team on that list has to be Ohio State. I would think Oden will have his right hand back by then.

Aldo Quintanilla said...

Anybody who thinks the Taylor hit makes him a no class thug shouldn't be watching the sport of football. This isn't a game for pansies. You're supposed to knock people out. I suppose if he is such a thug, then everyone in the stadium that loved the hit is a thug for enjoying that kind of "unnecessary violence". As is Brian Moorman for congratulating him on the nice hit. As are the announcers (and Japanese announcers) for having a good laugh about it. I personally don't think there should be a Pro Bowl because people might get hurt, but if they are going to play it, then play the damn game, don't prance about like ballerinas playing flag football.

Eddie said...

I am taking special pleasure this year with my schadukefreude, after Scheyer jilted my Fighting Illini to run off and play for coach K. We aren't making it to the tournament this year. Here's to hoping that he misses it too.

ToddTheJackass said...

While I thoroughly enjoyed the Taylor hit (easily top five of the year), it still was a bit uncalled for, considering:

1) It was against a Punter
2) It was the Pro Bowl

The Pro Bowl is a worthless exhibition. I wouldn't cancel it for reasons of people getting hurt, I'd cancel it because it just sucks, and who really watches it anyway? If they could figure out how to spotlight some people in a Super-Skills competition and make it interesting, I think that'd be more fun. Also the replay value on ESPN2 would be off the charts. They could make it sort of a Pro Bowl weekend in Hawaii with everything from a accuracy and kicking competitions, ballroom dance-offs, and GTA-esque killing contests between Ray Lewis and Tank Johnson.

UPDATE: Duke is now unranked in both the AP and Coach's polls. BC is ranked #21 in both. FL is unanimous #1 in at least the Coach's.

PrecisionDan said...

"and to think in some countries dogs are eaten."

jhawkjjm said...

Uhm Dan... excuses excuses excuses. None of the Florida players seemed to be under the weather or hurting the night before when they trounced whoever they played. That's a weak excuse. What was the excuse against a Kentucky team that was shooting 1-19 from three until the closing seconds?

Kansas' biggest problem is inconsistency and lack of a killer instinct to put a team away... see A&M and Depaul. KU has the bodies to bang with Florida down low all night long and the quickness to match any perimeter play. Saying Florida would "snap KU in half" is pretty dumb. However given that these two wouldn't meet till late in the tournament, I'd give Florida the obvious edge in experience. But first the two teams need to make it that far.

Unknown said...

I was surprised to see GT as one of your preseason final four. With our fate lying in the hands of two freshmen it was a pretty bold prediction. Thaddeus Young, as amazing has he has been, has underperformed in the yellow jackets fans eyes and Javaris Crittenton still has some maturing to do. Losing Lewis Clinch was a big blow to us offensively. I really hope the team can pull it together and make the tourney.

We would have to go 4-2 to be 8-8. That includes a road trip to FSU and Duke (remember our road losing streak) as well as UNC at home. I really hope they pull it together and you were right in your pre-season prediction. Go Jackets!

Unknown said...

I didn't think Sean Taylor needed to provide another example of being a dick. Blasting a punter for a guy that big is akin to the 'world's most lopsided fights' from Robot Chicken.

In any case, the Pro Bowl sucks. Worst of all the all-star events by far. It has nothing attached to it to make it fun. Homerun Derby...Dunk Competition...even the NHL skills competitions are pretty sweet (and the actual game is cool with 10-9 scores).. Pro Bowl? Nothin'

Unknown said...

I don't kn ow why people are saying that the Illini won't make it. Today's Bracketology has them at a 12 seed and rising.

Although as we all know, you would rather see an 12 next to your name than an 11, so maybe rising is bad.

Eddie said...

I can't say what will happen with Weber. I believe he has an longer leash right now than you. I could be wrong, but the games are still selling out and people having been openly complaining much about Weber's recruiting. He isn't taking any heat over the Eric Gordon debacle, that is all being directed towards Kelvin Sampson. Perhaps he has stolen the "public enemy No. 1" title from Bruce Pearl.