Daily Dribble: 1/11
Good post on the message board yesterday by Rocky about how hard it is to win on the road. The Top 10 teams in the country (before last night) were 13-13 overall on the road. The trend continued last night as Oklahoma State lost, but Pitt won to put the record at 14-14. The road struggles continue deeper into the Top 25.. as we saw teams like Duke, Tennessee, and Butler all lose on the road to supposedly weaker conference foes.
I think its safe to say that its harder to win on the road in non-conference play than in conference play. This is because in conference play, you know what the opponents do, you've been to the arenas, stayed in the same hotels, etc. In non-league play, its definitely harder to win on the road. This is why its even more unfair that certain BCS leagues have the ability to simply play home games for a couple months before conference play. I say unfair, not because I blame the UCONN's and Syracuse's for staying at home (why travel if you dont have to? why take kids out of school? why not give your fans as many games as possible to watch? why not build up good records), but because I blame the selection committee for not properly weighing where teams played their games.
The biggest loss in the Top 25 was Maryland losing at home to Miami. The loss to a 9-8 Miami team will no doubt drop Maryland out of the Top 25. I didn't watch this game.. but statistically, it looks like one of the worst games of the season. Miami shot 31% and they were the "hot" team compared to Maryland's 22%. 22% shooting at home is shocking. Mike Jones was their hottest shooter and he was 3-11. Maryland drops to 0-2 in conference play heading into a big game against unbeaten Clemson. If Maryland falls to 0-3 in ACC play before heading on the road to face Virginia and Virginia Tech, their season could be officially over in January.
As Maryland and Duke and Tennessee showed, winning games in conference play is a whole other animal. Besides the familiarity, there's simply a whole other level of intensity. When it comes to the ACC, and you see a Duke losing at Georgia Tech, these are the type of losses that are expected. No one's crazy enough to suggest that even Duke, the #11 team in the country, has to roll over conference foes on the road. But the expectations for #12 Butler are a bit different. The Bulldogs lost an overtime game in Chicago against UIC last night. Butler was horrible in the first half, but AJ Graves caught fire in the 2nd half (26 of his season-high 31 points) to push it to OT. The interesting issue is trying to figure out how the voters will deal with a loss to the 8-9 Flames. One of these losses shouldn't be too damaging to their ranking.. but what happens when Butler loses at a solid Loyola-Chicago squad, or gets upset by Detroit or UWGB. Or more importantly than how the voters react, how will the selection committee react to these games? We've seen how they treated a 26-2 GW team that dominated the A-10.. How will they treat a Butler team.. that lets say goes 26-4 or 25-5, but has 3 or 4 conference losses against non-Top 100 teams?
Other thoughts from last night.. Can we finally stop with the UCONN in the Top 25 charade. By the end of the season, the Huskies might prove to be Top 50 worthy.. but their wins so far are just Top 100 worthy.
Is Greg Paulus really done as the Blue Devils point guard? No, he'll be back. When will Brian Zoubek get more pt? If we extrapolate his numbers to 30 minutes.. we'd be looking at 18 and 10 boards a game.
Coach Martelli quietly has his St Joseph's squad atop the A-10 with a 3-0 record (10-5 overall.) The young Hawks are a team to look out for next year.
It looks like Pitt might run away with the Big East. The Panthers are 3-0 in league play, and 2 of those wins are on the road.
Wichita State lost at Indiana State to fall to 1-4 in MVC play. The Shockers have lost 6 of 7, and 5 of those games were on the road. They return home to face Evansville and Creighton in two must win-games.
Kevin Durant is just sick. He went for 34 and 10 last night after going 37 and 16 in his Big 12 debut. For the season, he's up to 23 and 11 for the 12-3 Horns. Missouri's Marshall Brown had 24 and 9 in the loss to Texas. The game was never close, but Brown played great in the 2nd half.. and this kid has some hops. Kansas has quietly won 8 straight after destroying Okie State last night. After struggling early in the season with his shot, Brandon Rush is getting it going again. He's been 50% or better in the last 6 games. More importantly, he got to the line 10 times last night, the first time he's hit that mark in his career. Assertiveness is not Rush's thing.. but he should make it a goal to get to the line at least 6 or 7 times a game.