Daily Dribble: 2/17
I'm writing today's Dribble in the middle of what has already been a rather exciting day.
#1 Florida fell earlier to unranked Vanderbilt. A week or so back I wrote a Dribble about how the top 10 teams would fare the rest of the season. I predicted the Gators would fall at either LSU or Tennessee, but they'd easily get by the Dores. Well, I was completely wrong on that one. Vandy's two stars, Shan Foster and Derrick Byars, each brought their A games against last year's champions. The two combined for 48 points on 20 of 35 shooting. Vandy was 35th in the AP voting last week and should move up substantially after the big win.
Georgetown continues to roll, beating Villanova in Philly. The win is the 9th in row for the Hoyas, who were led by Jeff Green with 22 and 10 boards. The loss was bigger for Nova than the win was for Georgetown. The Wildcats are now just 6-6 in the Big East (good for a 7th place tie), and next face #13 Marquette on the road. If they lose there (which they should), its conceivable that 6-7 could push them back down to 8th, 9th, or even 10th in the league. Nova has a nice RPI and all, but they still have some work to do.
Big East leader Pittsburgh was given another scare, this time by the Washington Huskies. Coming off a rare home loss, you figured the Panthers would have an easy time with a Washington team that has one road win all season. But Pitt looked rather mediocre against a mid-eighties RPI team whose NCAA Tournament hopes are now done.
Virginia got the best of Florida State in early afternoon ACC action. FSU, despite another big game from Al Thornton (30 and 11), is now down to just 5-8 in conference play. Making things worse, the Noles have 2 of 3 remaining on the road, including a game at Maryland this week. The Terps obviously need the win just as bad, and a fall to 5-9 might prematurely end the Noles tourney hopes. Even if FSU loses to Maryland, then wins the last two and finishes 7-9.. will the two huge wins over Florida and at Duke be enough to overshadow was has mostly been a very average season?
I think Arizona forgot that you're supposed to have an advantage at home. The Wilcats have lost 4 of 5 at home after falling to UCLA earlier. The Cats now finish with 3 road games (at ASU, at Cal, and at Stanford). All three are winnable but all three are losable.
Its turned out to be a horrible start for the MVC in the BracketBusters series. Missouri State lost to Winthrop at home last night, Wichita State lost to Appalachian State at home, and Indiana State lost to Miami (OH) at home.. that's 0-3 if you're counting. A win though by Southern Illinois (they're up 12-6 right now) can erase all that though.
I'm pretty sure that Winthrop deserves a bid in the NCAA Tournament.. even if they don't win the Big South championship. They're now 23-4 with wins at Missouri State, at Old Dominion, and at Mississippi State, not to mention an overtime loss at Wisconsin. Its complety unfair to use the RPI to judge this team.. because all of their tough games have been on the road (Maryland, UNC, and Texas A&M as well. Going 3-4 in the games i just mentioned might not sound Tournament worthy.. but lets remember that a fringe Top 25 team like BYU hasn't even beaten a single road team better than 110 in the RPI. Or that Ohio State lost at UNC and Wisconsin by a combined 12 points, while Winthrops deficit was just 9 against those two great teams.
Oklahoma State will surely drop out of the Top 25 after losing a home game to Missouri. The Cowboys have lost 4 of 5 including this bad loss and the ugly one a couple weeks back at Colorado. Like Villanova above with a nice RPI, the Cowboys superficially look like an NCAA-lock. But they're now just 5-6 in Big 12 play.. and have games against Texas A&M and at Texas Tech coming up. If OSU isn't careful.. they could find themselves on the outside looking in. Perhaps Oklahoma surprisingly enough could be on the inside though. The Sooners are now a game ahead of State in the standings and facing Texas A&M today. The Sooners are up 26-16 right now and win would really boost what is a mediocre RPI of 73 right now.
Some final thoughts: ESPN is out of control with the NASCAR stuff right now. I do not like the direction the station is going in. Personally I've never really met a person that watches NASCAR.. and I feel like the sport peaked a couple years back. Oversaturating the station with nonsense about cheating on race cars will only force a lot of people to other outlets.
Also.. I feel like Rick Majerus is the only person who not only looks like a human donut, but he sounds like one too. If I was going to caste an animated movie involving food products, Majerus would definitely be the voice of the Jelly Donut.