Just about every conference had one team in action yesterday.. so I thought for a change that I'd run down the results conference by conference.. a little bit of fun for everyone.
America East.. Last year's tournament representative, Albany, had their 5-game winning streak snapped at Utah Valley State (discussed in yesterday's independents review). The Great Danes head into conference play with a 7-5 record, presumably the favorites along with 8-5 Vermont.
Atlantic 10.. Saint Louis picked up their 8th win in 9 home games, beating Ole Miss (the Billikens first win over a BCS team in almost 3 years.. Kansas State in January of 2004). The Bills face a poor Saint Bonaventure squad to start conference play, where they should improve to 11-3.
Last night, Central Arkansas upset potential NCAA Tournament team Bucknell by the final score of 50-48. The Bears (that's Central Arkansas) are a first-time D1 squad that has only beaten one other D1 team this year (Bowling Green.) Central isn't actually an independent because they're playing a full Southland Conference schedule.. but in honor of their win I thought I'd take a look at how the independents and recent ones are doing this year.
Like Central Arkansas, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is playing a full Southland schedule for the first time. The Islanders have been one of the best independent teams over the last couple years, and are considered to be a Southland contender in just their first season. Things have gone well for TAMU-CC, with a 7-4 record overall (5-4 against D1 teams). Their best two wins are at Detroit and South Florida. Like most independents or low-majors, TAMU-CC still has to play most non-conference games on the road.. but they have a rare 3-game home streak coming up, including a big game against Kent State. TAMU-CC is one of the most experienced teams in the country.. with 7 seniors that play at least 15 minutes per game, and all of whom scored 5+ ppg. This experience should put them right in the thick of the Southland title race along with SELU, Sam Houston St, and NW State..
First good day of hoops in awhile last night.. 76 games, 13 Top 25 games, 4 Top 10 games, and 1 Top 15 upset.. In overtime, #13 Washington fell at USC in their Pac-10 opener. The Huskies are 10-0 at home, but 0-2 on the road. Spencer Hawes was impressive for the losers with 24 points, and more impressively playing 47 minutes (not bad for a 6-11 freshman). He's scored 20+ in 5 of 6 games. For USC, the less heralded freshman, Taj Gibson came through with 22 points and 10 boards, arguably his best game yet. Gibson is quietly putting up one of the best rookie seasons in the country at 13 and 10 per game. USC improves to 11-3 and finally has Gabe Pruitt healthy again. The junior guard had 18 points and 5 assists in just his third game back.
Today's Dribble is all about random thoughts..
Colorado and Minnesota are the lone BCS teams under .500 at this point. The Buffs are 3-6 and have even lost 4 home games already. Richard Roby (even if he was never going to be a 1st round pick) probably wishes he went pro last summer. The Gophers are 5-8, but at least have been playing decent ball of late, having won 3 of 6.
The SWAC and the MEAC don't even have one .500 team amongst their 21 members. Alabama A&M and Florida A&M are officially 5-5 and 6-6 respectively, but each of those records include 3 wins over non-D1 teams. So basically no one is close to being .500 against D1 teams in those leagues..
Its always debatable when the RPI begins to "matter". Some say its always completely useless, others think its a valuable tool at the end of the season, and other's think it matters at the end of non-conference play. Non-conference play isn't officially over, but most leagues are entering conference play now. Leagues like the MVC only have 1 non-conference game left this week, and then the BracketBuster event later in the year. Most Pac-10 teams only have 1 non-conference game left, like UCLA who takes on West Virginia later in the year. Gonzaga's one of the few teams left with 3 non-conference games, with Nevada, Virginia, and Memphis still on the schedule. For my money, non-conference RPI is the real statistic that matters.. so now's basically the time when the RPI matters.
Taking a bit of a breather during the holiday weekend.. an unfortunate time considering all the college basketball action the past few days. Too many games too write about.. so instead I decided that I'll simply make a short comment about the state of the Top 25 teams in our Top 50 Power Ranking.
1.UCLA - Deserves #1 record based on peformance.. but do they have the best chance to win it all? Probably not.. 2. UNC - Haven't played a meaningful minute of basketball in two weeks since UK.. 3. Florida - Made Ohio State look like a JV team.. 4. Arizona - Enter Pac-10 play having won 9 straight and improving by the day.. 5. Wisconsin - If they voted today, Alando Tucker would be Player of the Year..
It's no secret I like scoring.. but Duke's win over Gonzaga showed why defense is just as important. The Blue Devils (mainly due to Jon Scheyer's man to man defense) completely shut down consistent 20 point scorer Derek Raivio. Raivio, who finished with just 4 points, looked like the little boy that struggled to get going all of last season. Without him scoring, and Heytvelt neutralized by Josh McRoberts, Jeremy Pargo's 21 points (17 in the 2nd half) weren't enough to get it done. It was odd to see Pargo and Greg Paulus (20 points), usually 3rd or 4th options on offense, leading the way. Besides those two, the other impressive performances came from Duke's David McClure (4 blocks in 27 minutes) and Abdullahi Kuso (6 blocks in 20 minutes).
Puerto Rico hasn't been kind to Virginia. The Cavaliers got spanked by 24 against a mediocre Utah squad. UVA was undone by another poor shooting night from Sean Singletary and lack of interior presence. Singletary has only shot 50% once all season (and that was just 3 of 6), and is now at a woeful 35% on the season. For a player widely considered the top point guard in the ACC and one of the best in the nation, such poor shooting won't get it done. Virginia's lack of inside strength was exposed by 7-foot Luke Nevill, who scored 26 in the win.
On the flip side, Appalachian State continued its glory run in PR by beating 7-2 Central Florida. A win by the Mountaineers over Vandy today could solidify them as the kings of Puerto Rico..
I wouldn't say Tuesday was a wacky day of colege basketall.. but it was certainly an odd day. Appalachian State over Virginia is certainly the day's shocker. Virginia was 6-1, including a win over Arizona, heading into the matchup with then 7-3 Appalachian State in Puerto Rico. Perhaps inspired by the football team's good run in the 1-AA Football Tournament.. the Mountaineers basically controlled Virginia from the tip. App State comes out of the game with an 8-3 record.. but don't be deceived, this team hadn't done anything before Tuesday. 3 of their wins were against non-D1 teams and they had losses of 30 against Clemson and 32 against Virginia Tech. This is not just the most shocking win of the day, but arguably the most shocking win of the year. North Dakota State over Marquette got some headlines, but this is twice as surprising.
Polls on Monday were relatively standard.. perhaps the placement of Notre Dame and Michigan State were most interesting. The Spartans received 87 votes in the Coaches Poll, good for 25th spot, while Notre Dame was right behind with 57 votes. In the AP Pol though, Notre Dame was 20th, a full 16 spots ahead of the 36th ranked Spartans. Whats odd is that the placement of these teams doesn't correspond to any sort of Big Ten/Big East bias in the polls. Despite the slap to 8-1 Notre Dame in the Coaches Poll, fellow Big Ten team UCONN is ranked 11th, 3 spots ahead of its spot in the AP. Further, despite the love for MSU in the Coaches Poll, Wisconsin is a spot lower at 5th in the Coaches..