Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Big Thank You's to Big Ten Wonk and Yoni Cohen for listing me in their blogrolls. It does a crank good to see his name on such illustrious blogs. Seriously, these two guys are the best I've seen in College Basketball blogging (at least of what I'm interested in: stats and scuttlebutt, respectively), including all of the ESPMSM.

Also, speaking of the fifth member of this band of brothers (which includes Ryan K. and Ken Pomeroy, on my blogroll as well) Kyle Whelliston's Mid-majority report has the best RPI listing I've yet seen. Very nice.

Mike Davis, Bob Knight, and the future

One thing that is important to remember is:

Go Hoosiers.

I am a Hoosier fan, and always will be, I imagine. I followed the team intensely after Knight got fired, because I was a fan of the program and not the coach. I also was tired of defending someone who wasn't winning, and didn't seem to care about anything except"loyalty management." As for the games, Bobby was over-controlling the players, destroying homegrown midwest talent (see Michael Lewis, Dane Fife) and unable to reach/motivate big recruits (Charlie Miller, Jason Collier, Andre Patterson). And Knight's supposed "big heart" when it came to former players was nowhere to be found when Luke Recker suffered a horrible car accident. Given that Luke ended up coming back to the midwest, that was an opportunity wasted to not only take the high road, but also to get a star to return. But Knight felt personally betrayed, his ego was out of control, and so I really thought that it was best that he was let go.

My major problem with Knight the coach was that he wouldn't let his players play. Dane Fife wasn't allowed to get his shooting touch back. Charlie Miller was on a one -foul/-missed shot/-turnover leash. It was horrible to watch. That's why Davis was such a welcome change. Guys like Fife and Tom Coverdale and Jared Jeffries were allowed to make mistakes and still play, put stuff behind them, and try to win the game.

Now, my problem with Mike Davis is that the same thing is happening. Davis is not as good as Knight at the X-and-O's and is, frankly, terrible at offensive in-game adjustments. Without a strong personality like Coverdale or Jeffries to take control on the floor, Davis can't call plays to out-smart other Big Ten coaches. So when Davis allows his guys to play, the players can often overcome Davis' shortcomings as a coach because of his trust in them. They have in the past figured out how to use their own talent along with Davis' spacing to get good shots and win games. Now, the Bracey Wright years were not good, and Davis couldn't reach Bracey, or for that matter, George Leach. But he gave them chances to succeed.

But somewhere over the last 2-3 years, Davis has changed. He doesn't seem to trust his players any more. Despite all the talk about turning his guys loose this year, I haven't seen it. When the chips are down, IU still gets tight, runs a painfully long halfcourt game that often relies on Marco's ability to stay out of foul trouble and score every time he touches the ball. Which just isn't possible, especially on the road and against Big Ten opponents. And Davis leaves Marco, Marshall, Lewis Monroe, and Robert Vaden on the floor long after games have been decided. Where's the trust in the hyped bench? Where's the running game to increase possessions, giving IU a better chance to outscore its foes? Why do Monroe, Strickland, and Calloway all stop on almost every possession to get the play from Davis, when they're all way better on the run? Did this all go out the window with DJ's injury?

Now, I hope the Hoosiers start winning, Davis gets his trust back and turns his point guards loose to move the tempo up. I honestly don't want to be calling for Davis' head. I just want to be rooting for IU. Maybe all of this is fixable if the Hoosiers hit the defensive boards and AJ Ratliff starts getting his shots to drop. Here's hoping.

Go Hoosiers.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Indiana loses to Minnesota

The seat suddenly got hot again for Mike Davis. Judging from this performance, 0-8 on the road in the Big Ten is a real possibility. Let me reiterate: An 0-8 conference road record looks likely. Even Northwestern won at Minnesota. The only shot IU had at getting to 4-4 on the road was winning this game, at Purdue, at Penn State, and then upsetting either Wisconsin or Iowa. Purdue and Penn State look real iffy now (especially after watching PSU take it to the Spartans at MSU on saturday), and that's best case scenario.

This team looks like it deserves a low NCAA seed (if one at all) and will probably be out by the second round. That probably means Davis will be fired. But I dunno. Davis could also turn it all around with a nice run in the Big 10 tourney or even in the NCAA's. He has survived before.

Now, I've seen a Hoosier Sweet Sixteen team get crushed (106-56) at Minnesota before and rebound nicely. But they were playing without their 3 best players. This club was only missing DJ White, who now is almost certainly out for the season.

Hmm. So what happens if Davis does get fired? We'll certainly lose any recruits for a year or two (well, Darrell Arthur at least). Do Vaden & White go pro (unwisely)? If they do, Hoosier fans are looking at a rough year or two, no matter who comes in.

I've defended Mike Davis in the past. But at some point in the last two years, I stopped making excuses for him. He doesn't win games that should be won, and it looks like he's not getting his players up for these games. I may reverse myself later, this may just be the low point of the season, but right now I'm feeling like the best thing for IU basketball is part ways with Davis.
I really do wish him the best, but for too long he's not been getting it done, and he should be.

This all said, I would get down on my knees and beg IU not to bring in Bob THuggins or Steve Alford. These guys are not the answer for Indiana basketball. But don't stick with Davis either, as this is the most talent he's ever going to have, and if he can only produce a mediocre squad, he's gotta go.

CBBA poll & What Happened Last Week

1. Connecticut
2. Memphis
3. Duke
4. Villanova
5. Texas
6. Gonzaga
7. West Virginia
8. Tennessee
9. Illinois
10. Florida
11. George Washington
12. Pittsburgh
13. UCLA
14. Michigan State
15. Oklahoma
16. Northern Iowa
17. Georgetown
18. Iowa
19. North Carolina State
20. Ohio State
21. Colorado
22. Wisconsin
23. Boston College
24. Indiana
25. Nevada

The horde of demons in my head is also keeping an eye on:
Kansas State, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, San Diego State, Southern Illinois, Syracuse, UAB, Washington, Xavier

1. Connecticut W v. St. John's, W at Providence
2. Memphis W v. UAB, W v. UCF
3. Duke W v. VT, W v. Va.

Top three win, altho' Memphis loses frosh Kareem Cooper for rest of season.

4. Texas W v. Okla. St., L at Okla
5. Villanova W at S. FLorida, W at Notre Dame

No blame for Texas in losing to Oklahoma, but Villanova's so good, it's too much to defend keeping the 'Horns above them.

6. West Virginia L v. Marshall, W at St. John's
7. Gonzaga W at San Francisco, W v. Portland

Which of these clubs last longer in March? Probably WVU, but the loss to Marshall had to drop at least a spot.

8. Florida L at South Carolina, W v. Vandy

Loss at South Carolina no way to prove Final Four worthiness.

9. Indiana L at Iowa, L at Minnesota

Not so much blame in losing to these two, but only posting 42 points in loss will put blood in the water for the next few conference road games.

10. Tennessee W at Mississippi State, W v. South Carolina
11. Illinois W v. Minnesota, W v. Purdue
12. George Washington W at Duquesne, W v. Rhode Island
13. Pittsburgh W v. Syracuse, W v. Marquette

No eye-openers, but this crowd wins the games they were supposed to.

14. Syracuse L at Pittsburgh, L v. Seton Hall

The loss at Pitt was totally understandle, but at home to Seton Hall? They're out until proven otherwise.

15. Nevada L v. Utah State, W at Boise State

Nevada would be in the same boat as Syracuse, but they managed to win on the road. Still, the wolfpack gotta turn this season around in a hurry if they want to make the NCAA's.

16. Michigan State L at Michigan, W v. PSU

Loss at Michigan expected, but tough time with Penn State not at all expected, even sans Paul Davis.

17. UCLA W at Oregon, W at OSU

UCLA sweeps Oregon schools to untarnish reputation after laying an egg at home against West Virginia.

18. North Carolina St. L v. Seton Hall, W at Clemson

Speaking of laying an egg, if NCSU hadn't completely stunk against Seton Hall (who lost to Northwestern 44-42, I'll remind everyone) they'd be positioned for a top 10 slot.

19. Ohio State L at Iowa

Not a great week in losing at Iowa, but nothing to hit the panic button on.

20. Washington L at Cal., L at Stanford

Two road losses don't look good, but Washington's ability to play under pressure back in doubt.

21. Wisconsin W v. Penn St., L at Michigan

The loss at Michigan doesn't hurt nearly as much as loss of depth with freshmen Marcus Landry and Greg Stiesma being ruled academically inelegible.

22. Oklahoma W at Baylor, W v. Texas

Finally Oklahoma comes through with big win over Texas. Even more important may be the return of shooter Mike Neal, who creates the space to make the Sooners' offense go.

23. Northern Iowa W at Evansville, W at Drake

Two road wins in the MVC is becoming as rare as it is in the Big Ten.

24. Xavier L at Temple, W v. Dayton -OUT

Temple had a great week, but as much as the loss to the Owls, the narrow win at home over Dayton keeps Xavier just outisde the top 25.

25. Georgetown W at Notre Dame, W v. Cincinnati

Rocketing up the charts with solid road win in South Bend followed by spanking of weakening Cincy club.

New to the chart:

Boston College, Playing to potential finally with Wins at UNC and home v. Ga. Tech?
Colorado, Two home wins over Nebraska and KSU start to validate RPI standings.
Iowa, Nice bounceback with home wins against Indiana and Ohio State

Others making noise/losing steam:

Air Force W at UNLV
Akron L at Ohio, W v. Miami (OH)
Arizona, W at ASU, L at UNC
Bucknell W at Lehigh, W v. Navy
Cincinnati, L at Louisville, L at Georgetown
Creighton L at Southern Illinois, W v. Wichita State
Kansas St., L at Colorado
Louisville, W v. Cincy, L at Rutgers
Maryland, W at GT, L at Temple
Michigan W v. Mich. St., W v. Wisconsin
North Carolina, L v. BC, W v. Arizona
Ohio W at Akron, L at Buffalo
San Diego State W v. New Mexico, W at Wyoming
Southern Illinois, W v. Creighton, W at Illinois State
UAB L at Memphis, W v. S. Miss.
Vanderbilt L at Florida
Wichita St. W v. Drake, L at Creighton

Friday, January 27, 2006

Make or Break

That's what we're down to. The game at Minnesota tomorrow at 2ET (1PM Central) may be the key to whether IU is conference title contender or pretender. At Iowa & Michigan State were already penciled in as losses in the pre-season, and especially after each of them were coming off losses themselves. Minnesota is coming off six straight big ten losses, and IU doesn't want to be their first victim. This Golden Gopher squad is not good, and the Hoosiers better come prepared to grab a rare opportunity to win on the road.

The other game to watch is Wisconsin at Michigan. The Wolverines are coming off a huge win against their in-state rival, and Wisconsin plays very few road games. The Badgers are alone at the top of the conference standings (5-1) coming off a crushing of Penn State after their horrific upset loss to North Dakota State. However, Bo Ryan's 9-man rotation just became 7, as back-up center Greg Stiesma and 6th man Marcus Landry are both done for the season due to academics. This is real trouble if there's a foul disparity again in Ann Arbor, and 6-5 Alando Tucker may be seeing a lot more minutes in the post again.

Pat Forde writes another funny column, this time about the rules of rushing the court. He finds Indiana in violation for rushing the court during the Illinois game, and Iowa in violation for storming the floor after the IU game.

Peja-Artest trade goes through!
It is a deal that can really work for both teams. Artest can make the Kings a contender again if he *cough* keeps it together. And Peja can help the Pacers with a stretch run to get some momentum going again and maybe be the title contender they thought they would be. And even with the down year Peja's having, he's definitely better than having nobody. Of course, the Pacers are in a tailspin and will not have J-O for 8 weeks, so it really will have to be a stretch run.

Other big trade was Wally World and Ricky Davis, plus others, and we'll see if a change of environment is enough to get both of these scorers to shed the selfish label. I just won't be holding my breath.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Iowa beats IU

Yeah, well, not so good, eh? I've not watched the game yet (I have it taped).

If I had known Strickland would be out, I would have put our chances at almost nil.

Hansen & Brunner combine for 28 points, 11 rebounds & 6 blocked shots (before this they were averaging 21 pts, 14.6 rbs, 3.7 blks). Good numbers indeed. And a salute to Adam Haluska for his 20-10 effort.

Marco sees only 25 minutes, but due to effort, not foul trouble. But good for Mike Davis in sitting him, as I've been worried lately that Davis is too beholden to Marco's whims.

Davis does start Ratliff, who then fouls out in 9 minutes. I pat myself on the back with exaggerated sarcasm. Ah well.

Iowa students swarm the court? That makes even less sense than IU fans storming the court after the Illinois game. At least it had been a while since we had beaten Illinois at home.

The only silver lining is that Robert Vaden is one hell of a player. With him & DJ (barring any stupid NBA jumps) back next year, IU could be pretty decent again, especially if AJ, Ben Allen, and Calloway get their games evened out. IF.

Still, seriously. Erik Hansen blow-by dunk? I don't want to see that...

Hmm. Quick top 5 of NBA early entry losses the Big Ten might suffer:

1. Robert Vaden (Indiana) Confidence growing, but overall Rebs too low and TOs still too many.
2. Alando Tucker (Wisconsin) Should not go. A Tweener of the first order
3. Shannon Brown (Michigan State) Perhaps most likely, but also a 'tweener. 6'4" my butt.
4. Carl Landry (Purdue) Injury, being undersized a combo to make scouts wary.
5. Courtney Sims (Michigan) You can't teach height, so someone might take him being fooled by size and decent numbers, but they would be fools, indeed. Not ready for the Prime-Time in college, let alone the next level.
5A. DJ White (Indiana) Injury may keep him here, but not too undersized. Hasn't shown a NBA-type "4" game, 'tho.

Hopefully, all these guys will make the smart move, but if Brown or Tucker show more to their games in a run to the Final Four, then they are gone. The same is probably true for Vaden, but who knows?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Indiana beats Purdue

...which is always good. But this one, well, this one wasn't very fun. Because this is a Boilermaker club that I was happy to see scrapping it out and hanging with IU until late, because Matt Painter has been dealt such a terrible hand this season. Purdue will probably be a title contender next season with adding four starters that are out for this year, but it's hard to get too excited about a really ugly win.

Nobody had a really good game for IU. Robert Vaden took over when Killingsworth sat with foul trouble, and I love Vaden's newfound confidence in creating shots for himself. But you just kinda wince as he doesn't seem to elevate and you're just sure that he's going to get his shot blocked (notably on the three off the dribble over 6-10 Matt Keifer) , but no, it goes in. Marco posted some good numbers, but the lackluster defense inside is really worrying me.

On the upside, is there anything as good as seeing Wilmont getting the ball on the break, on the wing, for 3? You're just sure it's going in as soon as it leaves his hand. And Calloway is so fast. If he can spend the summer getting his frees and threes down, he'll be the no-questions-asked starter next year at point.

Why doesn't Ben Allen know how to play defense yet? I understand him maybe not grasping the offense, or making rookie mistakes, but it seems like the offense is what he gets. But big fella, keep your arms up straight, box out, and grab the rebound! Just doing that would be a help in filling the minutes alone, which is necessary with DJ out.

Game at Iowa tomorrow night, and they'll be hopping mad after MSU thumped them by 30. Look for the clamps to go on to Indiana's disadvantage, but if IU can pull it out, Iowa could go into the usual Stevie Big 10 tailspin.

Picks for CBBA top 25 & What happened last week

CBBA poll 1/16-1/23

1. Connecticut
2. Memphis
3. Duke
4. Texas
5. Villanova
6. West Virginia
7. Gonzaga
8. Florida
9. Indiana
10. Tennessee
11. Illinois
12. George Washington
13. Pittsburgh
14. Syracuse
15. Nevada
16. Michigan State
17. UCLA
18. North Carolina St.
19. Ohio State
20. Washington
21. Wisconsin
22. Oklahoma
23. Northern Iowa
24. Xavier
25. Georgetown

Also Receiving Votes: (from my other personalities, I guess)

Arizona, Boston College, Cincinnati, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas St.,
Louisville, Maryland, North Carolina, UAB

What Happened Last Week

1. Duke W v. NCSU, L at Georgetown

The unbeatens all fall, and Georgetown gets the lead with their Princeton offense, and keeps it by breaking the Devils' press. Not faulting the Devils, just a really great game by Georgetown.

2. Connecticut W at Syracuse, W at Louisville
3. Memphis W v. Tenn., W at S. Miss.
4. Texas W v. Texas Tech, W v. Baylor
5. Villanova W v. Seton Hall, W v. Syracuse

The rest of My top 5 fares well.

6. Florida W Savannah St., L at Tenn.

What is Florida doing playing Savannah State? I'm guessing Billy Donovan didn't think his club would be doing so well and placed a sure win at the beginning of the conference schedule to give his guys a confidence boost.

7. West Virginia W Providence, W at UCLA

Wow. The win at Pauley Pavilion shows I may have underrated them by quite a bit, but I'm betting the rest of country didn't even had them as high as #11.

8. Gonzaga W v. Loyola Marymount, W at San Diego

Hitting the winner to escape from San Diego should do a lot for Erroll Knight's confidence, and with him back, this is a legit Final Four contender.

9. Illinois L at IU, W at NU
10. Pittsburgh W at Rutgers, L at St. John's
11. Tennessee L at Memphis, W v. Florida

This group all registered good wins and tough losses. Bruce Pearl is looking like he's the real deal, and with a weak SEC could stockpile a really good record. But we'll reserve judgment on breaking the Tennesse curse (where good coaches reputations' are ruined) for now.

12. Syracuse L v. UConn, L at Villanova

On one hand, you can't fault the Orangemen, but on the other, this week rather answers the question of Syracuse being Final Four calibur.

13. Indiana W v. Ill., W v. Purdue

A great week for the Hoosiers, but on the other hand, they just won two home games.

14. Nevada L at Fresno St.

Nevada not piling up the wins they need to keep an at-large bid locked up. They better turn it around, quick.

15. UCLA W v. USC, L v. WVU

The Bruins' being the best team in the Pac-10 doesn't bode well for the conference. This would've been a great rpi win for them, but instead it may ensure the Pac-10 only gets 3 bids.

16. George Washington W v. Stony Brook, W at Charlote

Big win for GW at Charlotte. Pretty much ensures the 'Niners are NIT-bound, short of a conference-tourney win.

17. Wisconsin L at OSU, L v. NDSU

What a week for this club. Putting the bad in the Badgers. Loss at Buckeyes predictable, but at home versus North Dakota State? Wow. That's an RPI (& NCAA seeding) killer.

18. Michigan State W v. Iowa

Of course the Spartans won against Iowa at home, but a 30-point win against a ranked team is always impressive. MSU rounding into shape.

19. North Carolina St. L at Duke, W v. Wake F.

Hung tough at Duke before downing the Deacons. All in all, a pretty decent week.

20. Ohio State W v. Wisconsin, W at PSU

Nice recovery for OSU after home loss to Michigan State. Knocking off Big Ten leader Wisconsin before winning on the road (albeit against Penn State) makes for upward movement in the rankings.

21. Washington W at Ore. St., W v. Oregon

Good wins at Oregon schools, but real test is current 3-game road stretch with Cal and Stanford awaiting this week.

22. Xavier W v. Cincy, L v. St. Louis

Would have moved up if not for home loss to St. Louis. Must recover at Temple and then home against Dayton.

23. Iowa W at Minn., L at MSU

Did what they needed to in splitting road games, but losing by 30 to Michigan State could trigger one the famed Coach Alford conference-spirals. Must get redemption with home wins over Indiana and Ohio State.

24. Oklahoma W v. Texas Tech

Hold off Texas Tech at home, but that's not really impressive. What's better is the return of Mike Neal, who is essential to the offense.

25. Louisville L at St. John's, L v. UConn -OUT

Home loss to Connecticut and loss at St. John's doesn't provide any answers. Can no longer rest on reputation of last year's team.

Others on the watch:

Arizona, W v. Stanford, W v. Cal.
Boston College, W v. Holy Cross, W at Miami
Cincinnati, L at Xavier, W v. Rutgers
Colorado, W v. Baylor, W at Okla. St.
Maryland, W v. VT
Nebraska, L v. Iowa State, L t Kansas
North Carolina, L at Virginia, W at Florida State
Northern Iowa, W v. SIU, W v. Drake
Southern Illinois, L at N. Iowa, L at Mizz.St.
Vanderbilt L. v. South Carolina, W Miss. St.

Air Force L at New Mexico
Akron W v. EMU
Bucknell W v. Colgate
Creighton W v. Bradley
Kansas St. W v. Mizzou
UAB W at Rice, W v. Houston
Georgetown W v. S. Florida, W v. Duke
Michigan W at Minn.

Friday, January 20, 2006

News and Notes

Big game at home for IU against Purdue, besides the obvious rivalry, Indiana can return to the top ten in the polls with a win. Purdue's crippled team really shouldn't be a challenge, especially with the way they turn over the ball, but if the Hoosiers don't take them seriously, we could have another Indiana State on our hands.

Good on Ben Fulton for taking the Big Ten Wonk's stats and explaining them a little bit. Whatever you may think of Killingsworth's matador defense, IU's defense was way more effective with him in than out.

Steve S. rails against Coach Davis and the support from media guys like Gregg Doyel, and compares Davis to Matt Doherty & Steve Lavin , but I find why-does-anyone-even-listen-to-Seth Davis' support even more worthless.

But I did like Big Ten's Wonk's take of Davis' article:

In a special all-Davis write up at SI.com this morning, Seth Davis salutes Hoosier coach Mike Davis. "I love Mike Davis," says former California Governor Gray Davis. Geena Davis wants Mike Davis to do a cameo on "Commander in Chief." Meanwhile, Davis Love III offers the IU coach tips on his long irons. Rumors that Davis plans to unwind in the offseason by retreating to his vacation home in Davis, California, and watching Davis Cup matches while listening to Miles Davis could not be confirmed.

New site from Iowa's Ryan K., bringer of the Ryanalysis, with the Basketball Notebook

Good ol' Taco noted that IU was like LSU back in the Shaq days in the second half of Illinois game, just pounding it inside, but I'll point to Ken Pomeroy's IU scouting report to counter that the Hoosier team is a lot better than those Shaq teams as IU has scorers outside of the post. First of all, IU's been atop the 3pt FG% nationally for much of the season, and Secondly, IU's most effective two scorers are Marshall Strickland & Robert Vaden. Neither of whom had good games in the Illinois match, but Rod Wilmont & Ben Allen stepped up to hit 3's in their place. If AJ Ratliff ever gets back on track, he's got the tools to be as good as anyone scoring, but he may not shake off the rust until next year.

In other news, Dane Fife, who's IPFW club ought to be pretty decent next year, and will join the new
United Basketball Conference next season a long with D-I independents New Jersey Institute of Technology, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Texas-Pan American and Utah Valley State. They won't have an automatic bid, but it's the first step to getting one down the road, and may increase all of these teams' visibility and chances of gettting a NIT bid, to boot.

IPFW may well be the UBC's preseason favorite, having no seniors on the roster this year. Also, they will have juco 6-5 Patrick Lepper and new transfers Demetrius Johnson (Kent State) and Kevin Nelson (Central Michigan) who averaged 17ppg. Nelson should start at one guard spot, and the frontcourt looks set with 6-9 Tyler Best (formerly of Charlotte), 6-6 Justin Hawkins (Utah), and this season's leading scorer 6-6 DeWitt Scott. Point guard is a serious concern, as starting 6-4 guard Quinton Carrouthers will sit for Nelson, and 6-1 frosh Kyle Savely will better as another instant offense off the bench as well. The choice this year seems to 6-1 junior Brad Pompey backed up by 6-3 frosh DJ Posley. Pompey's Assist-to-Turnover ratio 1:1, and Posley's is 1:1.2. Perhaps next season the Mastodons will have a better grasp of the offense and the position won't be a detriment.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Most likely field of 65:

So here's what I think the field will be in March, predicting from 1/19/06. The Key is pretty easy, * being conference winners (example, in the Patriot League, Holy Cross hosts the tourney and will probably win the auto-bid, but Bucknell's good enough for an at-large bid, too!) and ~ meaning last teams out in case of upsets. I'm thinking Temple in the A-10, Wichita State in the MVCare the most likely candidates to win their conference tourney and bump Michigan & Cincinnati from the field (and not their conference compatriots).

America East:
ACC: Duke*, North Carolina State, Maryland, North Carolina, Boston College, Wake Forest
Atlantic-Sun: Kennesaw*
Atlantic-10: George Washington, Xavier
Big East: Connecticut*, Villanova, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virgina, Georgetown, Marquette, Cincinnati~
Big Sky: Montana*
Big South: Winthrop*
Big 10: Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan State*, Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan~
Big 12: Texas*, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Missouri
Big West: UC-Irvine*
CAA: George Mason*, Old Dominion
C-USA: Memphis*, UAB
Hor: Wisconsin-Milwaukee*
Ivy: Pennsylvania*
MAAC: Iona*
MAC: Ohio*
Mid-Continent: Valparaiso*
MEAC: Del. St.
MVC: Northern Iowa*, Creighton, Misouri State, Southern Illinois
MWC: Air Force*
NEC: Monmouth (NJ)*
OVC: Murray St.*
Pac 10: UCLA*, Washington, Arizona, California
Patriot: Bucknell, Holy Cross*
SEC: Florida*, Tennessee, Ark., Kentucky, Vandy
Southern: Davidson*
Southland: Northwestern St.*
SWAC: Southern*
Sun Belt: Southern Alabama*
WCC: Gonzaga*
WAC: Nevada*

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

IU Over UI

The win over Illinois is big for IU's rpi rating, and another nice W over a conference championship contender. Indiana played pretty good defense, but when Dee Brown's not hitting, the Illini are just incompetent on offense, relying on the missed shot and fast break for most of their offense. However, just when it looked like Indiana was demonstrating that it was a better team, they go and let the Illini take some moral victory from it and prove that the Hoosiers will almost certainly be hopeless on the road versus title contenders.

I was thinking this the other day, and then Marco goes out and throws a cheap shot and confirms it. Mike Davis is the new Don Chaney. Both can get their guys to play pretty decent defense, can get some really good talent, and both have had a nice NCAA tourney run (Chaney to the Elite Eight 3 times, Davis to the Final in '02), and both are just slightly below the top-level of Championship coaching. Sure, Chaney is a hall-of-famer, but that's largely for his crazy 2-3 match-up zone that has proven ton be remarkably less effective once teams figured out how to maximize the 3-point shot. It's a gimmick that's easily figured out, like the Pitino full-court press. Davis also relies on a gimmick, the NBA offense.

These gimmicks will take them far with the right personnel, but probably not ever to a championship (although eventually Jimmy Boeheim got the right frosh and won a title, so who knows?). Anyway, enough speculation. I still think Davis is a decent coach, but still not what Indiana deserves. But you know, I wish him the best. And I hope that this team continues to win, but maybe they can just go ahead and hit their free-throws down the stretch.

late edit:

It was unfair of me not to mention that I really appreciated Marco & Rod & Monroe battling through injuries to play a lot of minutes and at crucial times. Whatever else may be wrong with these guys' heads at times, they do want to be on the floor to help their team win. And that's worth praising.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Colts wrap-up, Indiana-Illinois preview

Well, the Colts and the Bears lost. If I were as big of a football fan as I am of college basketball, I would be inconsolable. But, I'm a casual fan of these two teams who constantly waits for the other shoe to drop.

Ryan G prays for the Hoosier ballers not go the way of the Colts. Steve at the Speedway spreads the blame around
here after his
initial reaction in which he threatens to become a Yankee fan.
My good friend Dr. Surly has a really positive post about it at Burning Behind the Eightball.

Tonight's game vs. Illinois should be a tough match for the Hoosiers, especially if IU is still without Lewis Monroe. They bring much the same problems that Michigan did: Good rebounding, dangerous backcourt, athletic wings. But Illinois executes on the offensive end better, and is possibly the best defensive squad in the conference. IU needs to go at center Kevin Augustine, because despite his turnovers, he's the best scoring and passing option the Illini have. If they don't double on Marco, Augustine may not see much time at all. If they do double on Marco, IU needs to be crisp with its passing or guys like Dee Brown and Brian Randle will make those turnovers points in a hurry.

But, this isn't last year's explosive squad. If IU executes its plays, passes well, and shoots decently, Illinois will have a very hard scoring points. IU shouldn't be afraid of a making this a "Big Ten" game and slowing it down, because a quicker pace will only benefit Dee Brown, the one guy who Indiana can't let get started.

Illinois' defense will keep the game close, and their rebounding should give them a shot to win, but if IU plays smart and shoots okay, look for a big win for Indiana tonight.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Picks for CBBA top 25 & What happened last week

The New Poll (1/16):

1. Duke
2. Connecticut
3. Memphis
4. Texas
5. Villanova
6. Florida
7. West Virginia
8. Gonzaga
9. Illinois
10. Pittsburgh
11. Tennessee
12. Syracuse
13. Indiana
14. Nevada
15. UCLA
16. George Washington
17. Wisconsin
18. Michigan State
19. North Carolina State
20. Ohio State
21. Washington
22. Xavier
23. Iowa
24. Oklahoma
25. Louisville

Arizona, Boston College, Cincinnati, Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, Vanderbilt

What happened (last week's rankings)

1. Duke (16-0) W v. Maryland, W at Clemson
2. Connecticut (14-1) W v Cincy, W v. Georgetown
3. Memphis (15-2) W at ECU, W v. SMU

Top three clubs win as expected.

4. Villanova (11-2) W at Rutgers, L at Texas
5. Texas (14-2) W at Iowa St., W v. Villanova

Texas squeaks past 'Nova at home and in the rankings, but if these two met in March in the Elite 8, my money would be on the Wildcats.

6. Florida (16-0) W v. Miss. St., W v. Auburn

The Gators still haven't convinced me. They stay put.

7. Indiana (10-3) L at MSU

Understandable loss at Michigan State doesn't really hurt, but DJ White injury creates real doubt.

8. West Virginia (12-3) W v. Georgetown, W v. Marquette

Excepting one week in November, they haven't lost. 10-game winning streak on line at UCLA Saturday.

9. Gonzaga (13-3) W at Santa Clara, W v. Pepperdine

Nothing really proved, but winning is always good.

10. Illinois (16-1) W v. Michigan

Surprisingly narrow win against Michigan at home. Giving up 74 points in win also unusual.

11. Pittsburgh (14-0) W v. ND, W at Louisville

Nice win at Louisville, but until the Cards beat somebody, it's not as big of a scalp as it seems.

12. UCLA (14-3) W v. WSU, L v. Washington

Even despite the loss at home to the Huskies, probably still the Pac-10's best squad, but loss of Josh Shipp puts that in question.

13. Tennessee (11-2) W v. Ga., W at LSU

I don't really believe the Volunteers are this good, but weak SEC could keep them in top 25 all year.

14. Syracuse (15-2) W at ND, W at Cincy

Two good road wins that would've been understandable losses.

15. Ohio State (12-2) W at Purdue, L v. MSU

Loss at home in 2 OT to suddenly-hot Michigan State not a huge cause for concern, but may prove costly in the Big Ten race.

16. Nevada (13-3) W v. Idaho, W v. Boise St.

Chasing Louisiana Tech in WAC standings, but it's early yet.

17. Arizona (10-6) L v. Oregon, L at OSU

The good news is Jawan McClellan is back, but the bad news is much worse. Losing at home to Oregon and at Oregon State may be pointing to a NIT, rather than a NCAA, bid.

18. Oklahoma (10-4) L v.Mizz, W at TA&M

They stay in the top 25, but only on Terrell Everett's fadeaway 3 at Texas A&M. Coach Sampson needs Mike Neal back now.

19. George Washington (12-1) W v. SLU, W v. St. Joe's

This team should be called George Jefferson 'cause it keeps "movin' on up."

20. Wisconsin (14-2) W at Minn., W v. Northwestern

In first place. Great schedule may give Bo Ryan another Big 10 regular-season title with his
weakest squad in a few years. Doubtful to actually reach Sweet 16 in NCAA tourney.

21. Louisville (13-3) W v. UC Davis, L v. Pitt

What is with this team? Losing every big game is no way to prepare for success.

22. Washington (14-2) L v. Wash St., W at UCLA

Hangs in top 25 with nice win at UCLA. If the Bruins falter without Shipp, the Huskies should be right there to snap up the conference championship.

23. Cincinnati (13-4)*L at UConn, L v. Syracuse

Losing Armien Kirkland hurts worse than a loss at Connecticut, especially when you only had a 6-man rotation to start with.

24. Michigan State (14-4) *W v. IU, W at OSU

What a difference a week makes. Porous IU defense just thing to jump-start Mo Ager's confidence, evidently.

25. North Carolina St. (14-2)*W at BC, W v. GT

I was totally wrong about these guys. I had them figured for the NIT, but they are looking like the only other consistent team in the ACC besides Duke.

Just outside:

Alabama-Birmingham UAB (12-3) W v. Tulsa, W at Marshall

Losing Demario Eddins doesn't seem to have affected them yet, but fielding a weaker team in the second half of the season is no way to convince the Selection Committee to give you a NCAA bid. Dropped from the Also-rans for now.

Boston College (12-4) v. NCSU, W v. FSU

Maybe when Sean Williams is worked into the rotation, the Eagles I expected to see will surface. But I don't expect the road in the ACC to be kind to BC.

Colorado (11-3) L v. Kansas, W at Missouri

Good RPI, but home loss to Kansas a set-back. Recovers nicely with victory at Mizzou to stay in top 25 hunt.

(13-4) W at PSU

Just beating Penn State wouldn't normally get you in, but top 25 fared so poorly this week.

Kansas (10-5) W at Col., L v. KSU

Home loss to Kansas State drops Bill Self's team from top 25 contention.

Maryland (12-4) L v. Duke, W v. Wake Forest

Nobody's been able to upset Duke, but good recovery with home win over Wake Forest. Still just outside top 25.

(12-3) W at KSU

The Cornhuskers have a good record, and a decent road win, but the next 5 games (Iowa St., at Kansas, at Colorado, Missouri, at Oklahoma St.) will really show if they're for real in the Big 12.

North Carolina
(10-3) W at Virginia Tech, L v. Maimi

I'm probably the only one not on the Tarheel fan wagon, but really, their preconference schedule proved nothing to me. I would've put them in the top 25 this week if they could've beaten Miami at the Deandome.

Northern Iowa (15-3) L v. Creighton, W at Ill St.

Home loss to Funk-less Creighton no bueno, but not yet having Crawford (1-6 FG, 4 TOs) back on track may be the explanation.

Southern Illinois (13-3) W v. Evansville, W at Drake

Where did these guys come from? Win at Drake a necessary step towards the MVC crown.

Texas A&M (11-3) L at OSU, L v. OU

Losses at Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma's miracle win leave the Aggies without proof of top 25 contender potential. Dropped from also-ran status for now.

Vanderbilt (11-3) W at Kentucky, L at Ark

Would've been in Top 25 if could've pulled win at Arkansas. Still hanging around #26, 'tho.

Xavier 11-2 (W v. EKU, W at Charlotte)

Good RPI, good win at Charlotte. Grabs deserved top 25 spot.

Friday, January 13, 2006

No panic here

While I am not happy with the loss to Michigan State, and the weaknesses it exposed (where's the defense? Yelling Ole does not count) it was a game that I had circled in the preseason as an assured loss. Then if you were to tell that IU would lose both DJ White and Lewis Monroe right before the game, and MSU would be 0-2 in the conference coming in, I would have been shocked that the margin was only 2 points at halftime, and 14 points at the end.

The good news is that I think MSU is totally beatable, not only at Assembly Hall, but also in the Big Ten tourney by an IU squad that has Lewis Monroe. Monroe should be able to take Ager or Brown defensively, allowing Strickland to stay in front of Neitzel, who just carved up the Hoosiers for big buckets or assists when Calloway couldn't keep track of him.
The bad news is that while a B10 home record of 7-1 or even 8-0 should be expected, a road record of 4-4 may be a best case scenario. Unless IU adds UConn to the win column, they be looking at an uphill seeding path to the Sweet Sixteen.

This all said, I know in the first half Mike Davis went away from Vaden to try to get Paul Davis in foul trouble, but he's got to recognize that probably won't happen on the road. If you got a hot hand on the road, milk it, especially when it belongs to a player that you very recently claimed was the best on the team.

Next for IU, Illinois at home. IU has to bounce back in this one, and really stick it to the kids in orange, or face a rivalry game with Purdue while in a slump. If Lewis Monroe is playing, I think IU should be fine for both of these home games. IU has an advantage over Illinois as the Illini host Michigan (hoist Michigan? probably) tomorrow and the Hoosiers have the weekend off. On the 24th, the Hoosiers travel to Iowa City, and that's a road game that is possible to win, and that would be a huge boost. Of course, if IU loses to Illinois at home, you'll a wee bit more concern in this space.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Top 25 for CBBA

Heard about this earier from Ben, but CBBA seems like a good idea. Check it out:

Here's mine:

1. Duke
2. Connecticut
3. Memphis
4. Villanova
5. Texas
6. Florida
7. Indiana
8. West Virginia
9. Gonzaga
10. Illinois
11. Pittsburgh
12. UCLA
13. Tennessee
14. Syracuse
15. Ohio State
16. Nevada
17. Arizona
18. Oklahoma
19. George Washington
20. Wisconsin
21. Louisville
22. Washington
23. Cincinnati
24. Michigan State
25. North Carolina State

Of course for #1 I have to go with Duke, who made their statement with a spanking over Texas. They're not deep, definitely vulnerable, but the Dukeis keep winning. Next up is Connecticut, who have done well and after a period of adjustment in getting their point guard back, should be in high gear by tourney time. Memphis follows, with loads of talent and showing big game toughness, but can we believe that they'll go to the Final Four? I just don't know yet, but they are as good of a bet as anyone. Despite the recent loss, Villanova is just a nightmare match-up for anyone, but please keep Curtis Sumpter from coming back. With an ACL injury, he may not even be in top form for most of next year, let alone coming back this season. Texas is way down in the rankings, but really isn't all that bad. Florida is now a trendy pick for the final four, and will be all the way to their surprising first-round upset. Indiana looks now like the favorite in the Big Ten, but we'll see if that lasts past Wednesday's game at Michigan State. West Virginia is severely underrated in my opinion, even though after the tough loss to Texas, they lost two more, but they've bounced back nicely in the last month, winning at Oklahoma and at Villanova. I love Gonzaga, but they've got to show some defense to go along with that amazing offense. But they've had a fairly tough schedule and done well, so they deserve some top-10 love. Illinois' triumvirate of Dee Brown, Bruce Weber, and Defense will be hard for any but the most elite squads to match in Assembly Hall, but on the road (or in March) the mediocre-at-best offense will be the reason for more than one upset. I don't believe in Pittsburgh, but they're undefeated so it's hard to leave them too far down. Further on in conference play we'll see what this team is really made of. UCLA is definitely a program that is on the rise, but this is maybe not their year just yet. I'm not a huge believer in Tennessee yet either, they'll have to get some quality wins in the SEC before I'm sold on them even making the NCAA's, but they've done all the right things so far. Syracuse is one of the few teams in the Big East I always enjoy watching, and much lately has been due to the gutty play of Gerry McNamara. Ohio State convinced me on Sunday that they're the real deal, but they are so thin, I have hard time seeing them getting all that far in the NCAA's. I'm still thinking this is a second-round team, but they are playing well now. Nevada's big line-up is not something I expected, but Nick Fazekas's ability to play small forward and still get 8.9 rebounds makes it work. Do expect Arizona to be better at the end of the season then they've been so far, but making the Sweet 16 in March seems like it'll be tough for these Wildcats. Oklahoma is so frustrating, as the games that they have lost are mostly understable losses, but I thought this would be a really tough out for anyone, but I'm not sure they've improved from last year.
George Washington hasn't really proven anything either way, with a bad loss at NCSU cancelled out by a nice win over Maryland. But there's so much talent there now that LSU transfer Regis Koundija is available, you gotta think they'll rule the A-10. Wisconsin shows again why Bo Ryan may be the best coach in college basketball, all he needs is a Final Four appearance to cement his status. But he won't get it this year, as this is a team running on smoke and mirrors and hot outside shooting. Louisville is perhaps an ever bigger disappointment that Oklahoma, with the only win of any consequence coming against Miami, who they only scored 58 points against. Washington's all-home schedule appears to have not prepared the Huskies for the rigors of conference play, as they are 1-2 going to games at USC and UCLA. UW could drop right off of here in a hurry. Cincinnati is a team that I respect, and while I wish interim coach Andy Kennedy well, I'm thinking that three of the four seniors, two of which tested the draft process last spring, are going to create havoc down the stretch with selfish play. This still could be a NIT team come March. Michigan State is not doing well at the moment, and I'm not sure why. The depth is better than last season, and defense is all that bad, and Paul Davis is having a monster year. They gotta turn it around soon, or they're looking at a very low seed in the NCAA tournament. North Carolina State is making a believer out of me, I thought the loss of Julius Hodge would be too much to overcome, but their offense is working, thanks to Ilian Evtimov and Cedric Simmons abilities to both score and pass.

An Actual Fun-to-watch game

The perfectionist in me admits that shouldn't have been so close, but the fan in me loved watching the IU-OSU game. It wasn’t impressive in margin of victory, and at times the team looked downright awful as they missed shots and OSU beat them down the floor to get up by 17. But make no mistake, this was a BIG win.

Ohio State, give ‘em props, came in unconcerned, ran a good offense, and shot amazingly for about 30 minutes. They look as good as anyone in the Big Ten. And mark it up to Thad Matta, who’s been a great coach everywhere he’s gone, and continues today having OSU on the rise after only two years. The Buckeyes can be mad on losing the game on a call away from the ball, but that call actually gave OSU a chance to win, as they'd already hit a number of fade-away threes with a defender in their face that afternoon, and would have a chance to do it again for the win. And even if the call isn't made, IU either takes more time off the clock and scores for the same result, or the game goes to OT, where Dials probably picks up his fifth and IU still wins. So I think an early whistle was one of the best things that could've happened to OSU. But for the sole reason even having Dials in the game at the end, I don't think Buckeye fans have any reason to bitch.

Illinois, Michigan State, Indiana, and OSU ought to be at the top of the standings come the end of the year and this was IU’s only game against the Buckeyes. If IU is tied in the standings, this win could be a tiebreaker for seeding in the Big 10 tourney.

Important lesson learned; when called for your fifth foul on the road, bitch extremely loud like you’re about lose your mind and pop a cap in someone’s ass, like Terrance Dials did, with about 5 1/2 minutes left in the game. He went on to almost singlehandly to match IU shot for shot down the stretch. If he doesn't foul out there, I have a hard time seeing OSU staying with the Hoosiers.

Game ball to Marshall Strickland, who’s solid defense of Jekel Foster, sharpshooting from 3 and from the free-throw line, was instrumental in getting IU the win. But it was the big plays down the stretch that turned this from a probable loss or overtime game into a win for the Hoosiers. First, the tie-up on the rebound got IU possession for the last shot. His screen and subsequent charge drawn that fouled out Dials assured IU a win in OT if it went that far. And then the pick and smart dish of the ball with time expiring sealed the win. In addition to 15 points, he also made little plays, like the diving out of bounds pass to Vaden who then assisted on the fast-break Wilmont 3 to cut into the OSU lead in the first half. I think Marshall also got a tie-up earlier in the second-half that switched the possession arrow back to IU's favor.

Tip o’ the hat to Killingsworth, for getting the Ohio State frontline in foul trouble and making sure that the two principal game-ending weapons for the Buckeyes weren’t on the floor at the end of the game. 4 blocks is pretty nice to go along with 26 points. Steve Straiger explains why Killer is also a problem for IU here.

Tip o’ the hat to Rod Wilmont, who’s energy and fearless shooting helped get the lead down from insurmountable in the first half to a mere 8 point defecit at halftime.

Tip o’ the hat to the Lewis Monroe, who showed everyone what he is capable of offensively, after ducking opportunities in the Duke game, here drained a three at the end of the shot clock, attacked the lane for a lay-up, had a scintillating behind-the-back dish to Killer, and then drilled a three in the defender’s eye, off the bounce. I’d been waiting all year to see some offense from the point guard, and there it was finally.

No game ball, but a tip to Robert Vaden, who didn’t have a MVP performance he had been having for the last 3 games, but his ability to body guys down low and also keep guards from penetrating, played havoc with OSU’s pick-and-roll.

Davis seems to be going with a "seven plus two" rotation, the 1-4 set Killingsworth with Vaden, Strickland, Monroe, with Ratliff and Wilmont splitting time, and DJ White playing bench minutes. The plus two is Ben Allen and Allen Calloway seeing spot time for the center and point, respectively. It seems to be working, but I would really like to see Big Ben get a little more leeway in playing, in big games he gets yanked after his first mistake.

In other Big Ten action thus far, Illinois thumped Michigan State before rolling over to Iowa, Michigan State then starts 0-2 by getting blown out at Wisconsin.

My observations on the Big Ten race:

If Illinois wins, it will be because Indiana and Michigan State can’t win on the road. Dee Brown is a good guard and Bruce Weber a good coach, and the defense is really good, but if you can’t get shots, you aren’t a frontrunner for anything.

Michigan State needs to pick it up. It’s not so much because that they got two losses on the road, but that they got hammered at Wisconsin. They’ll be hosting IU on Wednesday, and they'll be mad, which is not what Davis wanted to see.

Indiana may have what has been in unfortunately typical hard time with consistency. Even if they win all of their home games, which may well not happen, they haven’t played like a team that’s going to win big games on the road.

Ohio State’s for real. I didn’t believe their 11-0 start, but they looked good against IU. I don’t like some of the shot selection, but when Dials is in the game, they’re really tough.

Wisconsin’s going to have some big wins, and some surprising losses, I think. Bo Ryan can coach, but I think they'll have problems away from home.

Iowa goes as Horner goes. When he's healthy and shooting well, the Hawkeyes are tough. But Horner's shooting is vital to this squad's success.

Michigan picks up a win over Purdue, but other than rebounding, this is not a tough team. And if they nose-dive as usual late in the season, it might be ugly.

Northwestern nice start, but beating Minnesota on the road speaks more to the weakness of Minnesota rather than the strength of NU as a frontrunner.

Minnesota is not last year’s squad, despite retaining Vince Grier. They won't be the worst team in the Big Ten, but I am guessing the conference is too tough for the Gophers to compete for a NCAA spot.

Penn State is getting better, but there's just not B10 quality talent here.

Purdue lost starter Nate Minnoy, and will have trouble winning more than 2 conference games, I’m guessing. I mean, I am no fan of Purdue, but what Matt Painter is going through this season is ridiculous!

I'll be posting a c-ball top 25 as Ben suggests soon.

Friday, January 06, 2006

New NBA rankings

Props to the Taco from Indiana for putting his own version down here, so I thought I'd put down my own rankings with actual revisions in order! Wow!

NBA notes:

1. Detroit:
The best right now, but will have to on a 16-game winning streak from here to keep Bulls pace. I don't see it happening.
2. San Antonio:
I think they're still the team to beat in the playoffs.
3. Dallas:
Looking good, but I still think they only make the Finals if the Spurs get injured or choke.
4. Miami:
A contender still. Record looks better when you consider how much they played without Shaq.
5. Phoenix:
Valid point about Amare, ACL injury usually takes ballers 18 months to get back to their old selves. But still, looking pretty decent with 20 wins and no Amare.
6. Cleveland:
I'm not yet a believer, too thin, and nothing proven yet in the playoffs.
7. Memphis:
Very surprising at 20-10, but maybe this is a testament to having good guards. Eddie Jones has been on winning teams nearly everywhere he's gone, and Damon Stoudamire is having a good year.
8. New Jersey:
Actually not doing that bad, but still paper-thin in the paint.
9. Milwaukee:
Playing some entertaining ball, and it's good to see TJ Ford actually recovered and playing well.
10.LA Clippers:
Hanging around the top ten, but you just gotta think the Clipper curse will kick in before too long.
11. Indiana:
Artest is sooo frickin' stupid. Just keep playing well, and let the GM's deal for you without tipping that you're still a headcase.
12. Minnesota:
The Warriors have more wins, but T-pups get the nod for being division winners.
13. Golden State:
Winning, which says the turnaround is for real, but definitely not the new Suns.
14. Utah:
AK-47 is oh so versatile. And just imagine if Detroit had kept Okur!
15. Philadelphia:
I'm starting to warm up to this club. Having C-Webb does translate to wins, wherever he goes.
16. Boston:
Paul Pierce can play. But four of the top five scorers are 2-guards, essentially.


17. Denver:
I think they'll rally to make playoffs, but probably won't last long once there.
18. LA Lakers:
Phil Jax only has so much magic in his hat. Kobe needs someone, anyone in the paint.
19. Seattle:
Ray Allen is amazing offensively, but this is where I expected this team to be last year.
20. Washington:
Dropped a bit after a decent start. Plenty of time to rally in weak East.
21. Orlando:
Glass Hill is supposedly coming back. I guess that's good.
22. Chicago:
I expect that although Chicago will neither make the playoffs nor break .500, they're not as bad as their current losing streak.
23. New Orleans:
Starting to play in New Orleans again. Maybe we can finally drop the "NO/Oklahoma City?"
24. Sacramento:
Yeah, they suck. I didn't expect this at all, but there it is.
25. Houston:
No Yao, no recovery. It's fun to look back and remember that some experts thought the Rockets would be Western Champs. Makes me feel better about my own picks.
26. Portland:
Rebuilding. Not a good team, but there's hope for the future.
27. Toronto:
Same as Portland. At least, until Chris Bosh bolts via free agency.
28. Charlotte:
5-5 "rally" after 8-game losing streak. But right now they've lost 3 in a row. (Taco: that double-double machine is Emeka Okafor, 2004 college POY and 2005 NBA ROY).
29. New York:
Even Larry Brown couldn't turn this club around. I suspect he won't until "black hole" Marbury gets traded.
30. Atlanta:
Classic example of a team that gets good Sportscenter play because of the nice highlights, but just doesn't win.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Falling behind

Busy with holidays, a wedding, and work. Probably won't catch up until next week sometime.

Indiana hoopsters have passed the in-state road tests against Butler and Ball State, and just got by Michigan at home. The good news is that Indiana State looks more like a fluke. The bad news is that Michigan on the road in the last game of the season now looks pretty iffy. But as long as we can count on Amaker's ability to have his team implode down the stretch, Indiana still has a decent shot of picking that one up.

Next up is Ohio State at home on Saturday, who are very similar to Indiana thus far. I'm thinking being at home and Indiana's defense should make the difference in another close victory. Being the only time these two clubs meet, it becomes incumbent on IU to pick up this W.

looking down the schedule:

Road games at Michigan State and at Illinois will probably be losses.

at Iowa and at Wisconsin are possible wins, but seems unlikely.

at Minnesota, at Purdue, and at Penn State have got to be wins.

There isn't a home game this team should lose, but take any day off in the big ten, and you'll get smacked. The Connecticut game on Feb. 4th should be very interesting, 'though.