Syracuse went into their game with California as the favorite in the eyes of many for two reasons. One: the school has a large alumni base in the New York metropolitan area and that means a good crowd at the World's Most Famous Arena. Two: the Golden Bears were without Theo Robertson (stress reaction in his foot) and they lack depth in the frontcourt with Harper Kamp (knee) also out. But to cite these things without giving notice to what happened on the floor would be unfair to the Orange, who outclassed the Bears 95-73.
While the Coaches vs. Cancer event moves onto the semifinal round at Madison Square Garden tournament play begins in Puerto Rico and Charleston with some intriguing matchups on the radar. Ohio State/North Carolina and Syracuse/California will get the lion's share of the attention and with good reason; all four will encounter their first true test of the season following routine beatings in the opening rounds of the event.
Wednesday offered Utah and UNLV the opportunity to knock off in-state rivals (Utah State and Nevada) who will enter their respective conference seasons expected to compete for league titles, and neither disappointed. The Utes were able to capitalize on seventeen Utah State turnovers and a hot-shooting Carlon Brown (sorry for referring to you as Carlton yesterday) to pull out the 68-67 win over the Aggies.
Tuesday was a day for sleep deprivation as it marked ESPN's 24-hour college basketball marathon. Unfortunately for the network the early hours served up a trio of yawners with Saint Peter's, Niagara and Clemson all pulling off comfortable victories. But the games involving Kansas and Michigan State didn't disappoint with the top two teams being tested by Memphis and Gonzaga respectively. It's good to see that there are teams willing to challenge themselves so early in the season, giving themselves the opportunity to evaluate themselves against credible competition.
Wednesday sets up to be a light day in regards to games of national interest but there are two games out west that you should pay attention to. Nevada makes the trek from Reno to Las Vegas, taking on in-state rival UNLV in arguably the game of the night while Utah State visits Utah. A pair of Top 10 teams are in action as well with Texas hosting Western Carolina while Butler visits Northwestern in Evanston.
Thankfully Monday was a busy night on the schedule even before ESPN's 24-hour marathon (even if you had fantasy football interests Ravens/Browns should not have been an option) and it didn't disappoint either. John Wall made his regular season debut for Kentucky and to say the least the phenom showed why people are touting him as a National POY possibility. And there were other key results on Monday/early Tuesday that could have a long-lasting impact on this season as well.
Three Key Happenings
No upsets this weekend so there were no changes in the Top 8 of the BCS standings. There are three "lines" to pay attention to in the rankings. The top three, separated from the rest of the country from the first day of fall practices, are essentially left to fight amongst themselves for the two spots in the BCS Championship Game. Close to three hundreths of a point separates each of those teams and with Florida and Alabama meeting in the SEC Championship Game on December 5th one of those two will not be in Pasadena for the season's ultimate game.
As a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) I get to fill out a ballot for the organization's All-America Team that will be announced in early December. Figured it would be good to post my ballots on here, opening myself up to ruthless criticism. Enjoy, and the offensive ballot will be here next week.