Monday, January 15, 2007

Road Wins!

Indiana Hoosiers pick up a big one at Penn State, which won't be an easy place for other Big Ten clubs to sneak out with a win. Rod Wilmont's getting a lot of love for his 25 pt.-12 rebound performance, and he should, but 17 threes attempted? Yow. Rod and Bracey Wright were friends, and it looks like Rod has held on to Bracey's shooting metric ("yeah... I can miss from anywhere on the court") . But when you need someone with cojones who will come right back after the opponents have just hit a big three, and go into a cross-over pull-up for three and take all the air out of a hostile arena, Rod's your guy.

But I'll say this for Rod, he is undaunted, he's active defensively, and he cleans the glass so, so well. With him and DJ, I'm finally not cringing when an opponent misses a free throw. And AJ Ratliff and Armon Bassett are coming back nicely from their injuries, and Earl Calloway continues his relatively solid play at point.

IU has moved up to #8 in the Blue-Ribbon poll, really the only one I respect. Awesome. I wouldn't necessarily vote them that high, but these Hoosiers really ought to be getting at least some ARV love in the polls.
Speaking of polls, there's been some very silly talk about the Pac-10 getting 7 or 8 bids in the NCAA tourney. Ridiculous. I do respect Yoni Cohen & suspect that he's just being provocative, but still. The Pac-10 should rebound from recent trends of getting a max of 3-4 bids, but we are talking 5 bids. No way the Pac-10 gets more bids than the ACC or even the Big East. I don't know who thinks California (11-6) is a legit contender, or that Washington's 1-5 conference record (11-6 overall) deserves any sort of consideration. UCLA, Oregon, and Arizona appear to be the locks, with Washington State, Stanford, and Southern California fighting it out for the last couple of spots. Stanford looks pretty strong at the moment, but they've got a brutal 8-game stretch coming up where they could play pretty well indeed and still come out with a 2-6 record (dropping them to 4-8 in-conference). Their Rpi/sagarin rankings were already pretty shaky, so I doubt they make it. Washington State looks like a fairly safe bet for fourth for the time being, but they need to get some more road wins to cement an at-large berth. I think the USC probably gets the final spot, but they let a golden opportunity for a marquee win slip away with 1-point home loss to UCLA.

NFL Playoffs
Also, my dream of a Bears-Colts Superbowl is still alive, despite Rex Grossman & Peyton Manning's best efforts. What happened to these guys, anyway? Does anybody remember in November when these were two of the best in the league.

To credit Peyton, though, he's getting third down completions when his team needs it, and he also seems to have gotten the idea of ball-control killing the opponents defense and keeping the other team from scoring points. Still, let's hope his completion % and TD/INT ratio dramatically improve next week.

But the game ball again goes to Tony Dungy, who was both lucky and good in re-creating his defense right when the playoffs began. The late-season insertion of Rob Morris at strongside linebacker has surprised foes looking to exploit the formerly weak run defense, and has allowed Dwight Freeney and newly returned safety Bob Sanders (that's the lucky part) to make the big plays. Now, they've got to face a scrappy New England team, this time at home, and see if they can't finally get to the Superbowl. Everything has fallen out right for the Colts, they've just got to capitalize and execute.

Chicago toughed out an OT win. Who knows with these guys? They just aren't consistent enough to make any predictions. They had some bad luck (Devin Hester had a 63-yd punt return) and some good luck, and made good use of an 18-yard punt by Seattle to get position and kick the game-winner. They play the Saints at home. If I have to pick as to which team gets upset, I'm afraid I gotta say the Bears. They should beat the Saints, but New Orleans have that special post-Katrina underdog mojo still working for them, and the Bears are saying all the wrong things.

But I hope I'm wrong, and it's the Bears & Colts in the Superbowl!


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