Wednesday, November 30, 2005

November Thoughts on other teams

Auto-Bid Winners

America East: Albany (NY)
1-4 with a win over Oakland and losses at Fla., at SDSU, Sacred Heart, and now at UCLA. The UCLA game was close and more what I expect out of this team, But Lucius Jordan; WTF with the >4ppg? Boston U was looking like a strong challenger until they proved that all they do is lose close games with their third and fourth straight losses at Rider and at home to Rhode Island.

Atlantic Sun: Gardner-Webb

Moral vicotry in loss at UNC followed by wins at ECU and Minnesota. Blowout to Auburn just a bad day?

Big Sky: Montana State
I don't what's going on but these guys are sucking. The loss to UIC and at Lamar wouldn't be all bad, but losing to Alaska-Fairbanks?

Big South: Winthrop
Injury to Torell Martin dampens 3-0 record. 71-64 victory over Marquette looking better and better. Still, Winthrop should be a lock for a ticket to field of 65.

Big West: UC Irvine
Weird team. Road losses to Pepperdine and George Mason become head-scratching when looking at road win at Stanford. Home wins over MVSU and Santa Clara are nice, but either Stanford's going to be really terrible or consistency is lacking. Late breaking news; UC-Irvine loses to Stanislaus State. What…the…heck?

Ivy: Penn
2-1 with a nice W over Drexel.Ibrahim Jaaber looks awesome, and 6-8 Steve Danley's putting up good numbers too. Drubbing at home by Colorado shows weakness that will probably be remembered when tourney seeding is announced in March. Ouch.

MAAC: Manhattan
0-2, but losses at Seton Hall and to surprising George Mason team don't look too bad. But starting 0-4 does, and with road games at Syracuse and at Rhode Island, that'll be hard to avoid.

MEAC: Hampton
Losing at UNC-Greensboro and to William & Mary at home is no way to avoid that #16 seed, guys. Also scoring 40 points in the opening loss at Richmond, not impressive.

Mid-Continent: Oral Roberts
Narrow losses to Utah State and Marquette outwiegh wins over USC and Monmouth. Getting a couple of profile wins would've helped if ORU bounced out of the MidCon tourney again this season.

Northeast: Farleigh Dickinson
Bad road losses to Maryland and Wofford hurt, but FDUas good as any to win the NEC. Victory over Quinnipiac moves them to 3-2 overall.

Ohio Valley: Murray State
1-1, but the loss, at Cincinnati in Overtime is impressive even though I think Cincy is a NIT squad this year. The guards look good, if only they had some size to play well.... When does Brandon Robinson become eligible?

Southern: Davidson
Impressive wins over UMass and St. Joe's, but they were at home and the road game to Duke was a slaughter.We'll see how bad the A-10 will be with their trip to Charlotte next up. Or maybe how good Davidson is?

Southwestern: Alabama A&M
They've been looking not great against non-division I competition, especially with Obie Trotter looking quite human. A loss to Paul Quinn to open the season does not bode well.

Southland: Northwestern St.
The loss at Missouri was totally understandable, but the win at Mississippi State may get them out the #16 slot this year. And Tyronn Mitchell would be a Southland Superstar if he could hit at better than 28.6% on FGs.

Sun Belt: South Alabama
A lopsided loss at Purdue should be built on and learned from, and if the road win at Loyola-Marymount is any indication, the Jaguars just may be doing that. Looking fine at 3-1.

National Invitational Tournament teams:

Air Force
5-1, with the only loss at Washington. A win over Miami at home is proof of the best start Jeff Bzdelik could ask for with Nick Welch out for the year.

Solitary game played was a home win over Youngstwon state. A little early to tell much of anything, but Romeo Travis had a nice first game with 25 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, & a block.

2-0, and won at DePaul, which Northwestern couldn’t do. Senior point Tony Bennett is playing well and just wait until they get center Pat O’Bryant back from his 8-game suspension.

Cal State-Fullerton
Got a decent win over Pepperdine, but I wouldn’t pencil them in as Big West winners just yet. Jamaal and Bobby Brown racking up good stats, and 6-4 frosh guard Jerad Moret is grabbing 7 boards a game!

Central Florida
Doing what they need to do right now, which beating the bad teams. 4-0 so far, but nothing to brag about yet. On Dec. 3rd they’ve got a shot to take over-rated Florida on the road.

Offseason issues continue to dog this club with assistant Keith LeGree resigning due to a DUI. And the Bearcats are 3-1, and wins over Murray State and Holy Cross won’t hurt the RPI. James White and Eric Hicks look pretty decent, and 5-10 freshman guard Devan Downey should be UC’s lead guard for the next four years. Last night’s loss to Dayton puts them squarely in NIT territory, ‘tho.

73-54 wins over St. Mary's and UNC-Wilmington are all well and good, but a one-point loss at Colorado State wasn't good. Big win at Penn shows maybe the CSU loss was a fluke?

The Flyers weren’t doing that great until their win over Cincy. A 91-90 loss to Creighton is one that they’ll regret down the road, and getting spanked at Miami (OH) won’t do anything for their RPI. But with winning at Cincinnati, they’re right back in it. On the plus side, where the heck did Brian Roberts come from? The 6-2 soph is averaging 20ppg!

Denver stands at 3-1 with a decent win at UIC, and a loss at home to Colorado State. Their win over Southern Mississippi looked like an incredibly entertaining football game (44-30).

Brandon Cotton has led, but maybe he misses having James Thues to play off of. 3-3 with losses at Drake, Ok. St., and Buffalo. At least they picked up a W over Eastern Michigan, but this does not seem like the team that I thought would challenge Wisconsin-Milwaukee for the Horizon.

Eastern Kentucky
Witt 2-3, Narrow losses at Wisconsin, and to Georgia at home are nothing to worry about. Blowout loss to Tennessee may be cause for concern, but still very early.

Still not a fan, even after their nice 6-0 start. Not to say that I don’t want them to do well, because although I think Billy Donovan’s a bit of a tool, I like to watch his teams run-and-gun, and was very happy to watch his Gators beat Kentucky for the SEC Tourney championship last spring. But I think that time will reflect that they haven’t played a hard schedule, as Wake Forest is borderline NCAA team at best, and Syracuse is little better. A road game at Miami (12/22) may be their toughest test until they travel to South Carolina on January 25th.

George Mason
Lost to Creighton and barely at Wake Forest, but wins over Manhattan and UC Irvine. To split this tough early schedule and look decent doing it must have the Patriots jumping for joy. They'll be in the mix for an at-large bid, but 3 bids for the CAA?

4-0 with a win at Holy Cross, and the Ivy doesn’t look particularly strong this year. Harvard could actually threaten Penn for the conference title. Guard Jim Goffredo playing well alongside expected stars Matt Stehle and Brian Cusworth. Watch on Dec. 22nd as they travel to Boston College.

The best opening that Rainbows could ask for in an attention-getting drubbing of Michigan State. That’s one that the NCAA selection committee will remember. Hopefully they’ll forget the following loss at UNLV.

Lost at Notre Dame, but walloping St. John's helps give them an interesting profile. The Flying Dutchmen want to make a statement to the NCAA tourney Selection committee, and this was a good place to start.

Holy Cross
Perhaps a longshot; currently 2-3. Losses at Cincy, Vt., and at home to Harvard are not distinguishing. But HC still may have an inside track to the automatic bid as they host the Patriot conference tournament.

3-0 after a convincing win at Iowa State. Folks who ranked Iowa State in the preseason? You were wrong. Me, looking smart on this one. Steve Burtt Jr. and Ricky Soliver are looking amazing, and if they take two of the three road games versus Kentucky, Seton Hall, and Fresno State, they could be looking at an at-large bid into the NCAA's, even if they don't take Manhattan out for the MAAC tourney title.

Iowa State
Not looking impressive. And where's the vaunted Theo Davis? They need to recover in December with home games against Iowa, and Ohio State if they want to make any noise on Selection Sunday. Last night’s win over Northern Iowa was a good start.

Kent State
Losses to Delaware State and Rutgers makes this team seem pretty weak. 2-2 isn't bad, but perhaps this is not at NIT-level after all. DeAndre Haynes is not having the all-conference year I expected thus far.

Louisiana State
I might be wrong about these guys. They got a 3-point road win over West Virginia that’ll look good come March But WVU is in a tailspin after an uneserved loss to Texas, so maybe this one isn’t that tellin yet, either. Hosting Northern Iowa and travelling to Cincinnati and Ohio State should really give us a better idea of whether these Tigers should be ranked or in the NCAA race at all. Frosh forwards Tyrus Thomas and Tasmin Mitchell look great. Breaking news; Houston just beat LSU at Baton Rouge: I wasn’t wrong.

Too early to tell. 4-0 is great, but Butler and Boston made it close, and they probably shouldn’t have been able to. The match-up with Miami should have made things more clear. But Miami seemed every bit if not more disjointed than the Wolverines. The goods news is that Lester Abram appears to be back, but the freshmen class seems less able to help than hoped.

From bad to worse when Vincent Grier went out for 6 weeks with injury. 2-1 after a loss at home to Gardnber-Webb, and a spanking awaits at Maryland. Until Grier returns, it’s going to be very rough going for Dan Monson’s club.

Mississippi State
Loss to Northwestern State wouldn't have been so bad except for that it came at home. Following that up with another home loss, this time to SE Louisiana? Unforgivable. Gotta defend your own floor. Jamont Gordon appears to be SEC Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, but outside of that, none of the other newcomers are stepping up. They’ll be lucky to make the NIT at this rate.

Missouri State
Really thumped Northern Illinois, 87-51, and then Arkansas State on the road, 97-80. Dec. 7th’s game at Oral Roberts should be pretty interesting. Guard Blake Ahearn is scoring 23 with 5apg.

North Carolina
Also probably too early to tell. A good opening win over Gardner-Webb, a loss at home to Illinois, but all that we can see about these Tarheels is that at least 3 freshmen will start every game. That, and 6-9 frosh Tyler Hansbrough may be in the NBA draft next spring.

North Carolina-Greensboro
Bad losses to Wisconsin-Green Bay and at Vanderbilt show that this is certainly no title contender, but a win over Hampton may help this 3-2 club get it turned around. 6-6 Kyle Hines is putting up great stats, but the Spartans need some more help besides Hines and Ricky Hickman.

North Carolina State
Wolfpack weren’t much at 4-0, but then they spanked Notre Dame 61-48 on the road. Cedric Simmons has really stepped up inside. They’ll definitely contend for a NCAA berth.

Notre Dame
The Irish got a good win over Hofstra and then choked a home against NCSU. I see more questions here than answers, and the vaunted recruiting class is providing any help right now.

Oklahoma State
4-1 with a narrow loss to Boston College is pretty good. I totally expect this club to be in the NIT this season, but the only other real preconference test is at Gonzaga on Dec. 10th. The returnees are shouldering most of the burden right now, but expect the freshmen to do more as the season rolls on. Byron Eaton's already looking special, in a good way.

The Ducks are 4-0, but the two wins over Savannah State shouldn’t even count. We’ll see how different this club is from last year’s version when they visit Vanderbilt tomorrow night. Juco Ivan Johnson may be the answer inside, ‘though, and Malik Hairston has really yet to show off the reasons for his preseason hype.

Oregon State
When you get spanked at Tennessee Tech and your only win is over Prairie View A&M, you can’t be optimistic if you are a Beavers fan. The only bright spot is the play of center Sasha Cuic. Nick DeWitz has got to wake up, and soon.

Rhode Island
The Rams are looking tepid without Dawan Robinson, and Jim Baron has got to be counting the days until he gets Robinson back at the level he was at in 2003-2004. On the other hand, his son Jim Baron Jr. is leading the team in scoring and assists, so there’s still plenty of future here.

St. John’s
Red Storm haven’t played anybody, despite being 3-1, and haven’t proven anything. Loss to Hofstra would suggest the NIT. Trips to Virginia Tech and Duke in December should be more illuminating. Anthony Mason Jr. has earned some plying time already, so keep an eye on him as the season progresses.

Nice win over Miami, even if they were without their point guard. That one will look even better in March. A loss at UCLA is nothing to worry about, but only scoring 47 points is. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this team at the NIT Final Four.

Texas A&M
The Aggies have one of the easiest preconference schedules that I've ever seen, but spanking Tulane on the road does look pretty good. May well be a club that gets only 5 or 6 in conference play but goes to the NIT due to their undefeated non-conference record.

Wins over Wright State, at SMU, loss at South Carolina. Pretty much as expected. The Rockets could really use Allen Pinson and Haris Charalambous contributing in the future, 'tho'.

Getting spanked by Texas A&M at home looks bad, and last year’s star, Quincy Davis, averaging 5.5 points and 4 boards looks worse. The Green Wave need to “turn the tide” real quick if they’re going to get to any postseason.

Utah State
The Aggies followed a good road win over Oral Roberts with a tough loss at Middle Tennessee State. They’ve got a chance to redeem themselves when they host MTSU on Dec. 5th. Jaycee Carroll is lighting it up, and Nate Harris & Cass Mattheus are also playing well in the paint, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all to USU make a run for the WAC title.

Special Mention:

I think I picked them 5th in the CAA, behind Northeastern, Old Dominion, George Mason, and Hofstra. It’s still hard to see them jump-frogging anyone, but a tie for 3rd, or perhaps with the right breaks, 2nd, doesn’t seem unreasonable at this point.


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