Daily Dribble: 11/26
Who will be the new #1? Florida's overtime loss to Kansas really shakes up the national polls. Pittsburgh was #3 but who have they beat? UMASS at home? Ohio State? They dont even have their best player. UCLA? The Bruins would be my choice, but Im really not sure what way the voters would go.
This game should never have gone to overtime.. and this is why Bill Self is known as a great recruiter and not a great coach. His team's bonehead plays (Kaun's foul which though was a questionable call still can't happen, Wright's foul down low, and the inability to rebound the free throw miss) basically blew a 4 point lead that should have been locked up. Yes, these plays aren't directly Bill's fault, but preparation and awareness are the coaches duties.
Give Darrell Arthur credit. Down the stretch it wasn't Julian Wright or Brandon Rush who made the difference for Kansas, but the freshman big man. I questioned why Arthur would choose to go to Kansas thinking that the deep and talented roster would limit his playing time. But Arthur is better than I thought and deserving of 30 minutes per game for the Jayhawks.
Thank goodness I'm not a Northwestern fan. The Wildcats are one of the most painful teams to watch.. not only because they cant score and slow the game to a halt, but also because they're simply bad. Northwestern beat North Florida by 1 point, 40-39 at home yesterday. This is a North Florida team that has yet to beat a D1 team and lost to 1-4 Florida Atlantic by 15 points at home. Northwestern has a chance to bust the Big Ten's RPI by finishing below 250..
Congrats to Jackson State for a nice 71-68 win over UIC. Why is this a big deal.. because last year the SWAC conference as a whole only won 8, yes 8, non-conference games. Jackson State's victory, led by Trey Johnson's 36 points, already give them 3 non-conference wins. For the SWAC, this is a big deal.
Don't be tricked by Wake Forest's 5-0 start. The Deacons started 11-2 last year beating similar talent at home, before losing 11 of 12 conference games. And that was with Gray and Williams. Smart money says a similar slide will begin within the next month.
It took Butler 2 OT's to dispatch with Kent State and move to 7-0. The most likely teams to drop out of the AP poll are Tennessee and Boston College. Gonzaga, who was unranked in the AP, should move in along with Butler.
Wichita State, who barely snuck into the AP Poll in 24th (but missed the Coaches Poll.. another reason why the AP is usually a better poll), picked up another huge win for the MVC by beating LSU this afternoon. This win is another monster victory for the MVC in their continued (and getting repetitive) effort to prove that their for real. Eventually it has to get to the point where these types of wins are no longer consider "shocking." Less publicized but equally impressive yesterday were wins by Illinois State at St. John's and Creighton against George Mason. Bradley, who was expected to struggle this year, lost their first game by 4 at Illinois. This was a good showing for the Braves, as was Missouri State's OT loss to Oklahoma State following their big win against Wisconsin. When all is said and done though, Wichita State will probably be the only MVC team ranked this Monday.
Rice, behind heralded Morris Almond, was expected to be a contender for an at-large bid and 2nd place in the CUSA. But the Owls are now 2-4 and Almond has become a one-man show. He had 42 in yesterday's loss to 1-3 Utah, but the rest of the team combined for just 21 points on 8 of 31 shooting. Rice needs Lorenzo Williams back and contributing to have any chance at making noise the rest of the way.
Jon Teitel put together a short piece on the statistical exploits of Nevada's Nick Fazekas yesterday. Coming into the day, Fazekas was 91 points shy of reaching the 2,000 point plateau. Only 5 players, Rick Barry, Bill Bradley, Larry Bird, Christian Laettner, and Keith Van Horn have 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and hit over 50% FG's and 80% FT's. Fazekas, who added 28 points and 15 rebounds last night in a win over Santa Clara, will join this amazingly select club in a few weeks.
In case you were wondering, Syracuse doesn't have a real road game outside of New York state until January 7th. If you were wondering, that will end up being 14 games at home or neutral sites and 1 road game in Buffalo by that time. One would think there's no highways or airport in and out of Syracuse.