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.
Maryland's win in the Coaches vs Cancer Classic finals should catapult them into the top 25 for the first time this season. I dont necessarily know if Maryland will be better than Michigan State or Texas at the end of the season.. but this shows you what a team with three senior starters can do to start a season. For the Terps, like Texas and Michigan State as well, point guard play will go a long way in determining future success. Greivis Vasquez, Drew Neitzel, and DJ Augustin all impressed this week. The freshman Vasquez was perhaps the most surprising and ultimately got the W's. Neitzel is the veteran of these three, and looks noticeably stronger and more mature this season. Augustin in the end might be the best of those three. The high school All-American often dribbles around too much and needs to do a better job running the offense, but his ability to get into the lane and finish is simply unteachable and gives Texas an edge on most teams.
Maryland Advances to the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic Semifinals
Well, Vermont takes on Maryland in the regional final of the Coaches vs. Cancer (the proper name is the "College Hoops Classic benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer")tonight, and this is a game that I'm really looking forward to. Why? Well, Maryland head coach Gary Williams had quite a few things to say in the aftermath of his team being left out of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. Of course, it would make more sense to have the Terps play a team from the Missouri Valley, but we won't get that chance this year. So Mike Lonergan's Catamounts will have to do, and they have a shot at this one. Freshman Joe Trapani dropped 20 on New Orleans last night, quite an awakening for someone such as myself, who looked at the season opener as a chance to see UNO star Bo McCalebb play for the first time since the 2004-05 season (he sat out last year with a knee injury). Vermont will challenge for top honors in America East this year, and a win tonight could really get things going. As for Maryland, this game along with a home date down the road with Winthrop will be watched intently by fans of conferences thought to be "inferior" to the BCS leagues. But if there are people out there with that same narrow view of college basketball after last season, then maybe they should tune into something else.
After a brief summer hiatus, the big boys of the basketball world will be back to work starting this weekend in Japan at the FIBA World Championships. The U.S., Argentina, Spain and France are expected to be the front-runners for the medal podium due to their veteran, NBA loaded rosters. The days of college kids representing countries in these events are long gone – however, that doesn’t mean that a few lucky youngsters won’t crack their respective homeland’s rosters.