Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dyson Suspended 30 Days, Wiggins Practices

According to the Hartford Courant, punishments have been handed out to Connecticut sophomore guards Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins after the results of their drug tests came back today. Dyson failed his test, meaning he will be out for at least 30 days because it is the second positive test in his UConn career. On the other hand, Wiggins passed his and was back at practice today. Sources told Jeff Goodman of FOX that Wiggins will likely play Saturday against Pittsburgh. Both players were asked by the athletic director to take drug tests after their recent citation for possession of alcohol. Dyson is the team's leading scorer, while Wiggins was the top bench player for the Huskies, who have gone 2-0 in the players' absence.

Stitt Out Two Weeks

Clemson freshman point guard Demontez Stitt will miss the next two weeks after undergoing surgery today to repair torn cartilage in his knee. "Obviously this is a big loss for us, but thankfully only for a short period of time," head coach Oliver Purnell said. Stitt has started every game for the Tigers, averaging 8.9 points and 3.1 assists per game.

Tigers Not Suspended for Fight

According to Andy Katz of, four of the five Missouri players suspended on Tuesday were punished for breaking curfew, not for their involvement in a fight that left point guard Stefhon Hannah with a broken jaw. Hannah, Jason Horton, Marshall Brown, Daryl Butterfield and Leo Lyons were all suspended indefinitely, although the latter four are expected to be cleared for Saturday's game against Kansas State. Hannah will miss four-to-six weeks with his injury.

Thursday, January 31 Predictions

Prediction Record: 360-151 (ATS: 252-236-5)

Providence at Notre Dame (-8.5): Prediction: Notre Dame 78, Providence 65
Boston College at North Carolina (-18): Prediction: North Carolina 87, Boston College 71
South Alabama at North Texas (+2.5): Prediction: South Alabama 77, North Texas 73
Arkansas-Little Rock at Western Kentucky (-13): Prediction: Western Kentucky 83, Arkansas-Little Rock 74
Murray State at Austin Peay (-3): Prediction: Austin Peay 74, Murray State 67
Indiana at Wisconsin (-4): Prediction: Wisconsin 69, Indiana 63
North Carolina State at Duke (-18.5): Prediction: Duke 80, North Carolina State 65
California at Washington State (-9.5): Prediction: Washington State 71, California 59
Stanford at Washington (+1.5): Prediction: Washington 70, Stanford 67
Arizona State at UCLA (-13.5): Prediction: UCLA 67, Arizona State 55
Arizona at USC (-3.5): Prediction: USC 75, Arizona 70

NCAA Tournament Stock Report

Welcome back to another installment of March Madness All Season’s new feature, “NCAA Tournament Stock Watch”. Essentially, it is a compilation of teams that are rising and falling with an eye on the NCAA Tournament. It will discuss teams whose potential seed is rising or falling, as well as clubs that are making moves either in or out of the at-large picture or could make noise in the coming weeks.

Once we get closer to March, this will be replaced with “Road to Selection Sunday”, which will be released every Sunday night from mid-February until March 16.


The Blue Devils came into the season looking like the second-best team in the ACC – but a clear notch below North Carolina. Well, Duke now has the inside track towards a No. 1 seed if it can stay at the top of the ACC.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies continue to find a way to win games, no matter the circumstances. They are now 4-3 in the ACC, with wins in five of their last seven games. Could they continue to creep back towards the bubble?

Connecticut: Despite the indefinite suspensions of Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins, the Huskies have won four in a row to move into third place in the Big East. More wins could be ahead, as three of the next four are at home.

Notre Dame: Everyone was waiting to see if the Fighting Irish could win on the road – and they did it, beating Villanova by 10 on Saturday. With three of the next four at home, Notre Dame could solidify itself in the conference race.

Seton Hall: The Pirates could be a team to watch in the second half of the Big East season. They have won five in a row, and still have four sub-100 opponents left on their conference schedule. Double-digit BE wins are a definite possibility.

Oklahoma: As soon as Blake Griffin came back early from his injury, the Sooners took off again. They went into Waco and knocked off a very hot Baylor team, then came home and won the “Bedlam” rivalry game against Oklahoma State.

Kansas State: The Wildcats are quickly rising in terms of their seeding, and should continue to shoot up the charts with a relatively easy upcoming schedule. The huge win over Kansas was their sixth victory in a row, and 10th in 11 games.

Purdue: Looking at the top of the Big Ten standings, it is clear that one team doesn’t seem to belong. The Boilermakers are 7-1 in the conference and have won nine of their last ten. They have a manageable schedule the rest of the way, as well.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes have bounced back nicely from their three-game losing streak two weeks ago. They have now won three in a row, and have two of their next three at home before going on the road four times in five games.

Stanford: The Cardinal might be the most underappreciated top-15 or top-20 team in the country. They are tied for second in the Pac-10 at 5-2 and look like a legitimate conference contender. The next two are on the road, though.

Arizona: The Wildcats are a completely different team with Jerryd Bayless healthy. Since dropping three of four with him out, ‘Zona has won four of its last five. The No. 7 RPI and No. 1 SOS make this team even more attractive.

USC: The Trojans are another extremely hot Pac-10 team looking to make a move in the standings. USC started 0-3 in conference play, but have picked up four consecutive wins, including three straight victories on the road.

Mississippi State: Despite the blowout loss to Arkansas last night, the Bulldogs are still the leaders in the SEC West and have a chance to make-up for the defeat with a victory at home Saturday against Tennessee. MSU had won nine in a row.

Florida: Look who’s back in the top-25. The two-time defending champs improved to 5-1 in the SEC on Sunday with a 22-point pasting of Vanderbilt. The young Gators are just a two-point loss at Mississippi from being undefeated in the SEC.

Arkansas: Are the preseason SEC West favorites ready to make a run in the conference? With a dominating performance against Mississippi State last night, the Razorbacks are 4-2 in the SEC and have won six of their last eight. The next two are at home.

Xavier: Although some cooled on Xavier after its loss to Temple by 19, the Musketeers are back to their winning ways. They have won three in a row, including a 26-point win over Dayton and a 13-point victory at Massachusetts.

Saint Joseph’s: Although some of the other Atlantic-10 contenders are fading, St. Joe’s seems to be hitting its stride. It has won nine of its last ten and sits in a tie for first place with Xavier. The Hawks own a sweep of bubble team Massachusetts.

UNLV: The Mountain West seems to be there for the taking, and the Rebels seem to be a good a bet as anyone to win it. An impressive road win at San Diego State pushed them to 4-1 (now 5-1) in the MWC. They get home-court for the conference tourney, too.


Miami (Fl.):
The Hurricanes are looking more and more like last year’s Clemson team. A hot 12-0 start has spiraled into four losses in their last five games and a 2-4 record in the ACC. It doesn’t get easier: three of the next four are on the road.

Clemson: The Tigers are doing their best to avoid another late-season collapse. However, they have lost four of their last seven, with only one win coming in regulation. With four of the next six on the road, this team is struggling at the wrong time.

Florida State: What looked so promising after winning at Georgia Tech to open ACC play has quickly developed into a 2-5 conference record. The ‘Noles have five losses in their last six games, and have a date with UNC on Sunday.

Pittsburgh: The Panthers are like the anti-Seton Hall right now. They have lost two of their last four games, including a 13-point defeat at home to Rutgers. Furthermore, Pitt has arguably the toughest remaining Big East schedule. The win over ‘Nova helped.

Villanova: The Wildcats have lost three in a row since getting off to a relatively promising 3-2 Big East start. Moreover, one of those losses was at Rutgers and one was at home to Notre Dame. Three of the next five are on the road for ‘Nova.

Providence: The Friars have completely fallen apart since beating Connecticut on the road by double-digits. They lost by 13 at home to Seton Hall, and then lost to a Syracuse team with just six scholarship players. In a word: ugh.

West Virginia: After its heart-breaking loss to Georgetown on Saturday, most expected the Mountaineers come out and dominate Bob Huggins’ former team at home. However, they were the ones getting dominated, losing by 23 to Cincinnati. Next two are on the road.

DePaul: That hot start in the Big East has quickly deteriorated, as the Blue Demons went from 4-2 to 4-4 and now look more like the non-Big East Tournament team they were expected to be. None of their four Big East victims are above .500 in conference play.

Indiana: Were the Hoosiers exposed on Saturday in their home loss to Connecticut? They haven’t really beaten any teams of note this season, and three of their next four are on the road. This upcoming stretch will tell us a lot about Indy.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils were the talk of the nation just a week and a half ago. Since then, though, they have lost three in a row, including back-to-back home games. Three straight road games won’t help ASU’s woes, either.

California: Despite the Golden Bears’ recent struggles, one might think that playing three straight home games could cure what ailed them. Wrong. Cal lost all three contests, dropping them to 2-5 in the Pac-10. Five of next seven on the road.

Oregon: The Ducks seemed to be turning their season around with three straight wins, but they have plummeted back to the bottom half of the Pac-10 with four straight single-digit losses, two at home. They need to make up ground on the road.

Vanderbilt: Another blowout loss on the road – this time to Mississippi – drops Vandy to 2-4 in the SEC. The ‘Dores have lost four of their last five games, and two of the next three are on the road. They need to turn this around very quickly, or that hot start will mean nothing.

Dayton: Hopefully, the committee takes into account the injuries to Chris Wright and Charles Little when assessing the Flyers. They had lost three straight games before beating Saint Louis last night, including an inexplicable 17-point defeat at the hands of Richmond on Saturday.

Cleveland State: Remember all that talk of the Vikings being this year’s Wright State? After back-to-back road losses, CSU has dropped a half-game back of Butler and still has two more stops on its road trip before returning home.

Illinois State: Similarly, the Redbirds are proving not to be much of a threat to Drake after all. Since their hard-fought loss at the Bulldogs, ISU also lost at Bradley and Northern Iowa and barely knocked off Indiana State at home.

Saint Mary’s: In order for the Gaels to keep up their quest for a top-five or six seed, they couldn’t afford many losses the rest of the way. An eight-point loss at San Diego would be acceptable most years, but this season is not one of them.

Full-Court Press, Jan. 31

Wednesday night was a major barometer for the two remaining undefeated teams in the country, Memphis and Kansas, as both of them were heading on the road to face conference contenders. Only one came out alive. The top-ranked Tigers went into Houston and knocked off the Cougars, 89-77. The No. 2 Jayhawks were not as lucky. Kansas traveled to Manhattan to face-off against a hot Kansas State that was undefeated in Big 12 play. For the first time in 25 years, the Wildcats were able to beat KU in Manhattan, defeating the Jayhawks 84-75 in a game they were in control of throughout. The loss left Memphis as the only undefeated team in the country, while KSU's win solidified its spot among the Big 12 favorites and could be the win the Wildcats need to make a push towards March. On the flip side, Kansas faithful were left stunned by the loss in the Sunflower Showdown.
Other news and notes from around the country:
- Kansas State knocked off Kansas despite the fact starting forward Andre Gilbert was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. (Associated Press)
- Indiana freshman guard Eric Gordon will play Thursday despite injuring his wrist during practice on Monday. (Indianapolis Star)
- St. John's suffered its worst Big East loss ever in the Red Storm's 74-42 defeat at home against Georgetown. (Newsday)
- Clark Kellogg breaks the national title contenders into two groups, with four in the first group and five in the second -- no sign of Tennessee. (CBS Sports)
- With just six scholarship players left on the roster, Syracuse is going to need to fight through fatigue and persevere in order to win in the Big East. (Syracuse Post-Standard)
- UCLA junior point guard Darren Collison is beginning to return to the form that made him an All-American last year. (Los Angeles Times)
- With coach Bob Huggins facing his former team, West Virginia shot 20 percent from the field and lost by 23 at home to Cincinnati. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
- One of the keys to Kentucky's resurgence is forward Perry Stevenson's turnaround from soft freshman to tough sophomore. (Lexington Herald-Leader)
- Other Kentucky news: Joe Crawford hasn't practiced all week and will likely miss Saturday's game against Grgia. (Louisville Courier-Journal)

- Arizona sophomore forward Chase Budinger has continued to put up great offensive numbers, but his defense and ability to play in the half-court are much improved. (
- Although they don't get as much publicity as Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, and others, Jerryd Bayless and James Harden are among five frosh you should get to know. (Sporting News)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wednesday, January 30 Predictions

Prediction Record: 351-145 (ATS: 245-229-5)

Massachusetts at Duquesne (-5.5): Prediction: Duquesne 82, Massachusetts 75
UAB at UCF (-3): Prediction: UCF 71, UAB 66
Virginia at Maryland (-6.5): Prediction: Maryland 74, Virginia 64
Cincinnati at West Virginia (-14): Prediction: West Virginia 73, Cincinnati 62
Villanova at Pittsburgh (-7.5): Prediction: Pittsburgh 68, Villanova 61
UNLV at TCU (+3): Prediction: UNLV 75, TCU 71
Rider at Marist (-4): Prediction: Marist 81, Rider 74
Texas-Arlington at Sam Houston State (OFF): Prediction: Sam Houston State 67, UT-Arlington 62
Memphis at Houston (+9.5): Prediction: Memphis 84, Houston 78
Kansas at Kansas State (+7): Prediction: Kansas 77, Kansas State 74
Vanderbilt at Mississippi (-7): Prediction: Mississippi 88, Vanderbilt 80
Creighton at Drake (-5): Prediction: Drake 70, Creighton 63
Mississippi State at Arkansas (-2.5): Prediction: Arkansas 69, Mississippi State 65
Syracuse at DePaul (PICK): Prediction: DePaul 67, Syracuse 64
Texas at Texas A&M (-3.5): Prediction: Texas A&M 74, Texas 70

Mid-Major Madness: VCU

This is the first in a new series here at March Madness All Season. “Mid-Major Madness” is simply a weekly column chronicling the small-conference sleepers that I feel have the best shot at pulling an upset or two during the NCAA Tournament. The only real criterion is that a team has to be a projected 11 seed or lower in the Big Dance and from outside the major conferences. First up: Virginia Commonwealth.

VCU was everyone’s postseason darling last year after knocking off Duke and taking Pittsburgh to overtime in the NCAA Tournament. Furthermore, point guard Eric Maynor became a national sensation overnight with his late-game heroics against George Mason in the Colonial final and Duke in the first-round. The Rams lost two starters from that team, but they are still the best squad in the CAA (despite last night’s loss) and have the talent to pull another upset in March.

The success of VCU hinges on its pressure defense and high-scoring backcourt tandem. The Rams will guard the opponent all 94-feet, whether it be token man-to-man pressure early in the game or dangerous double-teams and traps in the second half. They love to force turnovers and score fast-break baskets in transition. 6-7 forward Michael Anderson guards the inbounds pass and ignites the pressure with his length and athleticism. As compared to last year, VCU doesn’t trap as much, but it still creates havoc. In the halfcourt, VCU is still a nightmare to play against. They trap more in a halfcourt setting than they do in the full-court, with constant double-team rotations to the ball, harassing the guards. The Rams defend the three-point shot better than anyone in the country and don’t allow easy shots. Anderson and 6-9 Larry Sanders alter a number of shots in the paint.

VCU was carried by its perimeter group last year, and it is much of the same this season. Maynor is back, but he has a new running mate on the wing in Jamal Shuler. The two combine to average almost 35 points per game. Maynor can get into the lane on any defender and can finish in a variety of ways, whether it is a pull-up jumper, a leaner in the lane or a lay-up around the basket. He is always under control and rarely tries to force anything, either in the halfcourt or in transition. He is playing more off the ball this season, with freshman Joey Rodriguez running the point. Shuler is a tremendous shooter who has made a great transition from sixth man to second-leading scorer. He is very strong and can also score inside the arc on leaners and mid-range jumpers. Rodriguez takes care of the ball and doesn’t try to do too much.

Up front, the big men don’t jump-out at you with their scoring numbers, but there are a variety of serviceable players who can score and rebound. In addition to Anderson and Sanders, Wil Fameni is a solid inside scorer who has struggled with injuries this season. VCU is an outstanding offensive rebounding team, and its second-chance points have made the difference in several games this season. The Rams’ depth is another major factor. In the frontcourt, Lance Kearse’s minutes fluctuate, but he has shown great inside-outside scoring potential. Kirill Pishchalnikov is very physical and doesn’t provide much in terms of stats, but he is a banger who sets picks and plays defense. Ed Nixon and Brandon Rozzell, who I think will be a very good PG one day due to his quickness and defensive ability, are solid freshmen in the backcourt, while forwards T.J. Gwynn and Franck Ndongo both saw key minutes last season.

VCU loses when it can’t force turnovers defensively and get transition baskets, and when it is not knocking down its three-point shots. While the Rams aren’t totally reliant on its fast-break offense, they are very solid in transition, knocking down perimeter shots and getting to the basket. An opponent needs to take care of the ball but also take advantage of mismatches once it breaks the press. Furthermore, VCU needs to get consistent inside production and offensive rebounds, or it becomes too perimeter-oriented. Teams with quality big men and rebounders can shut down their second opportunities.

Coach Anthony Grant has made an enormous impact in his first two seasons in Richmond. His team is disciplined at both ends of the floor, and they never seem to look pressured or nervous. That reflects Grant, who is usually calm on the sideline, but shows intensity when necessary. The Rams have been in the Tournament before, so they won’t be nervous on the big stage. If they get the right match-up and can come up with clutch plays late, don’t be surprised to watch another giant fall as a result of Grant, Maynor and VCU.

Full-Court Press, Jan. 30

News and notes from various media outlets across the country:

- Missouri doesn't just lose games as a team; they also lose fights: five Tigers were suspended indefinitely as a result of their actions in the wake of a nightclub brawl that left leading scorer Stefhon Hannah out four-to-six with a broken jaw. (Columbia Daily Tribune)

- Arkansas senior forward Charles Thomas will miss at least one game due to a suspension for violating team rules. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

- Of the two Connecticut players suspended, Doug Wiggins could be in more trouble. He has already failed two drug tests -- one more, and he's gone. (Hartford Courant)

- The suspension of Syracuse freshman guard Scoop Jardine came as a result of his involvement in the theft and use of a stolen ID card. (Syracuse Post-Standard)

- The Sunflower Showdown is tonight as Kansas visits Kansas State in a match-up of undefeated teams in the Big 12. (Kansas City Star)

- Which will be more of a factor? Kansas' terrific perimeter trio or Kansas State's dynamite duo up front? (Lawrence Journal-World)

- If Houston wants to make a run at an at-large bid, a win over Memphis tonight would do wonders for its resume. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

- Texas A&M forward Josh Carter went from being the best three-point shooter in the country to one that has struggled to find open shots. (Dallas Morning News)

- If Connecticut continues to improve, expect the Huskies to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. (Sporting News)

- First-year Wake Forest head coach Dino Gaudio has done a tremendous job replacing the late Skip Prosser, proving he was the right man for the job. (

- Don't overlook Stanford in the Pac-10, and Seton Hall could be primed for a big second-half run in the Big East. (Basketball Prospectus)

- Can anyone figure out the jumbled mess that is the Big East? Pat Forde tries. (ESPN)

- Louisville has a better chance than Memphis of winning the national championship? Really? (Super, Scintillating and Sarcastic)

- Arizona State's non-conference SOS could come back to haunt them, while Syracuse could be in better shape than one might think. (

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tuesday, January 29 Predictions

Prediction Record: 347-145 (ATS: 242-228-5)

Miami (Fl.) at Wake Forest (-1.5): Prediction: Wake Forest 71, Miami (Fl.) 62
VCU at George Mason (-4.5): Prediction: George Mason 74, VCU 70
Tennessee at Alabama (-4.5): Prediction: Tennessee 76, Alabama 69
Florida State at Virginia Tech (-4): Prediction: Virginia Tech 67, Florida State 62

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Week Ahead

With February right around the corner, the stretch drive is officially here in college basketball. Some conferences are at the mid-point in league play, meaning it’s time for teams to start making moves with an eye towards the NCAA Tournament. This week is filled with important conference clashes that could make the difference between whether a team is “in” or “on the bubble” come March, as well as important contests that will have a huge impact at the top of the league standings. That “Last Ten Games” category on teams’ NCAA Tournament profiles? It starts now.


Louisville at Connecticut:
Two of the hottest teams in the Big East go at it. Louisville has won 10 of its last 12, while Connecticut has won three in a row, including a win at Indiana on Saturday. The Huskies will be without suspended guards Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins.

Morgan State at Hampton: Fight for first place in the MEAC. Hampton, the preseason favorite, is 6-0, although the last two wins have come by just two points each. Morgan State has won four of its last five after losing three in a row.

Oklahoma State at Oklahoma: It will be “Bedlam” in Oklahoma on Monday night. OSU has lost four in a row in Big 12 play, all by single-digits. Oklahoma has won two in a row, and is coming off a big win at Baylor in Blake Griffin’s return to the lineup.


Miami (Fl.) at Wake Forest:
Two of the seemingly endless teams stuck in the middle of the ACC. Miami pulled out a must-win against Clemson over the weekend to snap a three-game losing streak, while Wake has lost three of its last four.

VCU at George Mason: The two best teams in the CAA, although VCU has a two-game lead over the rest of the conference. The Rams have won 12 of their last 13 games, while George Mason had won four in a row before falling at UNCW over the weekend.

Tennessee at Alabama: How will Tennessee fare on the road after losing at Kentucky last week? The Volunteers rebounded to beat Georgia by 16 this past weekend. Alabama won its first SEC game of the year, beating Auburn by 20 on Saturday.

Florida State at Virginia Tech: Can either of these teams make a push in the ACC standings? Like nearly every team in the conference, both clubs are inconsistent. Florida State has lost four of its last five, while Tech won at Boston College over the weekend.


Massachusetts at Duquesne:
The Atlantic-10 will still receive multiple bids, but it is up in the air as to who will get them. UMass has lost two in a row and four of its last six to drop to 2-3 in the conference, while Duquesne has lost two league games by a total of three points.

UAB at UCF: The winner has a chance to keep up with Memphis in the standings – not like it matters, though. UAB is 3-1 in the league, with its lone loss coming at Marshall. UCF is coming off a two-point overtime loss at SMU – its first league loss of the season.

Virginia at Maryland: Two teams expected to fight for an at-large berth out of the ACC but are struggling. UVA has lost five of its last six after starting 10-2. Maryland couldn’t finish the improbable sweep of UNC and Duke with its loss to the Blue Devils on Sunday.

Cincinnati at West Virginia: Bob Huggins finally faces the program where he made a name for himself. Cincy has fallen back in the Big East pack after starting 4-2. WVU lost a heartbreaker to Georgetown at home on Saturday on a controversial no-call at the buzzer.

Villanova at Pittsburgh: Two teams coming off surprising home losses this past weekend. ‘Nova fell to Notre Dame by 10 on Saturday – its second loss in a row. On the other side, Pitt’s 13-point loss to Rutgers at home was one of the biggest upsets of the season.

UNLV at TCU: In a wide-open Mountain West Conference, five teams are within one game of first place. UNLV is atop the league after its three-point road win at SDSU on Saturday, while TCU snapped a three-game winning streak with a loss at Utah.

Rider at Marist: Two of the three teams tied for first in the wide-open MAAC. Rider, with Wooden Award candidate Jason Thompson, has won seven in a row since starting 1-2. Marist has won eight of its last nine, with five of the wins coming at home.

Texas-Arlington at Sam Houston State: The underrated Southland has several quality teams this year, and here are two of them. UT-Arlington has won four in a row in the league to improve to 4-2, while SHS has just three losses by a combined seven points this season.

Memphis at Houston: One of the few legitimate remaining chances for Memphis to lose this season. Both of these teams are undefeated in Conference-USA, with Memphis looking like one of the top teams in the country and Houston trying to make an at-large run.

Kansas at Kansas State: Could this be the year KSU finally knocks off Kansas in Manhattan? The Jayhawks are playing arguably the best basketball of anyone in the country, but the Wildcats have won five in a row and nine of their last 10.

Vanderbilt at Mississippi: Two of the more surprising teams earlier this month, both teams are a combined 4-6 in SEC play after going 28-0 in non-conference action. Vandy has lost three of four, while Ole Miss is coming off a 20-point defeat at Mississippi State.

Creighton at Drake: Yet another big test for Drake atop the MVC. The Bulldogs are rolling along, sitting at 16-1 overall and 9-0 in the conference. Creighton has lost two straight games, including an overtime defeat against Drake last week.

Mississippi State at Arkansas: Two of the best in the SEC West battle for position. MSU is one of the hottest teams in the country, having won nine in a row. Arkansas has been up-and-down all season, but a win here would put them squarely in the at-large mix.

Syracuse at DePaul: In the hotly-contested Big East, neither of these teams is guaranteed a spot in the conference tournament. Syracuse has lost four of its last six and can’t afford a sub-100 loss on its profile. DePaul has won seven of its last ten games.

Texas at Texas A&M: Two of the best in the Big 12 go at it. Texas wants to stay within striking distance of Kansas in the conference, and is coming off a 27-point win over Texas Tech. A&M snapped a three-game losing streak with a road win at Oklahoma State.


Providence at Notre Dame:
Can anyone figure out the Big East? If so, please tell me what is going on. Providence has dropped two in a row since winning at Connecticut, while Notre Dame finally won on the road against Villanova after struggling away from home lately.

Boston College at North Carolina:
Interestingly enough, these teams are only separated by one game in the standings. BC has lost two in a row since starting 3-0 in the ACC, while North Carolina bounced back from its home loss to Maryland by beating Miami on the road.

South Alabama at North Texas/Arkansas-Little Rock at Western Kentucky: Two key games in the underrated Sun Belt. USA might be a sleeper come March, while North Texas reached the NCAA Tournament last season and is tough to beat at home. UALR is atop the West division, while WKU is one game back of USA at 8-1 in the East division.

Murray State at Austin Peay: Battle for first in the Ohio Valley. Murray State has won seven in a row since starting 2-3 in the conference, while Austin Peay is 9-2 in the OVC but is coming off a loss to Samford over the weekend. MSU won the first meeting between the two.

Indiana at Wisconsin: Two of the three legit (Purdue can’t be one, can they?) contenders in the Big Ten. Both teams lost over the weekend, with Indiana falling at home to UConn and Wisconsin dropping one at the Boilermakers. The winner gets the inside track for first place.

North Carolina State at Duke: Going into the year, this looked like a top-three battle in the ACC. Now, it just looks like another Duke blowout win at home. The Blue Devils are playing some of the best ball in the country, while NC State is just 2-3 in the conference.

California at Washington State: The first of a quartet of key Pac-10 games on Thursday. California needs to right the ship immediately after losing five of its last six. Washington State is coming off a split on its Arizona road trip, and now it gets four straight home games.

Stanford at Washington: Two teams looking for a win to stay in the conference race (Stanford) or simply get back in the mix (Washington). The Cardinal are pushing towards a top-four seed with three straight wins, while UW had won three in a row before falling at Arizona.

Arizona State at UCLA: The preseason favorite in the Pac-10 against one of the more surprising teams in the conference. ASU looked like a legit contender but has dropped three in a row, including two at home. UCLA needs to keep pace atop the standings.

Arizona at USC: Two of the hotter teams on the West Coast. Arizona has won three in a row to get back to 4-3 in the Pac-10, and the Wildcats remain a threat as long as Jerryd Bayless is healthy. USC has won four in a row – including three consecutive road games – since starting league play 0-3.


Cornell at Brown: Although league play in the Ivy is just starting, these two teams look like the potential early favorites. Cornell is 2-0 in the conference, with both wins strangely coming over Columbia. Brown lost to Yale on the road in overtime, before beating them at home.

Loyola (Md.) at Niagara: Another showdown in the MAAC. Both teams are 7-3, which is one game back of the three frontrunners. Loyola has won four in a row to get back in the mix, while Niagara had lost three of four before winning its last two games.

At Least UConn Only Pops Bottles

The indefinite suspension for Connecticut sophomore guards Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins that was announced Friday comes as a result of an incident Thursday night in which they were both cited for alcohol violations. Both were cited for possession of alcohol by a minor, while Wiggins was also given a summons for operating a car with a suspended license. Police discovered bottles of Vodka and Cognac in the car (what kind of college kids drink cognac?). Neither were charged with crimes, but they will have to appear in court. The two players were suspended for the Huskies' win at Indiana on Saturday. "I don't know if they're going to be part of the team or not part of the team," head coach Jim Calhoun told the Connecticut Post. "I'm still gathering information."

Although Connecticut proved it could win without Dyson, the team's leading scorer, and Wiggins, the team's best bench player, when it beat Indiana in Bloomington on Saturday, it remains to be seen whether the Huskies can do it on a regular basis. Without the two, seldom-used Donnell Beverly is the only guard off the bench. A.J. Price and Craig Austrie might have to get accustomed to playing 33-36 minutes every night.

Missouri Opponents: Stefhon Hannah Can Clearly be Baited

Missouri senior guard Stefhon Hannah will miss four-to-six weeks after undergoing surgery for a broken jaw he suffered in an altercation outside a nightclub Sunday morning. He was listed in serious condition at the University Hospital yesterday. According to police, Hannah told them he was caught up in the middle of the disturbance and then got hit in the head with an unknown object while he was trying to back out of the crowd. Head coach Mike Anderson instituted a "no-tolerance" policy in July after forward DeMarre Carroll was shot outside a club.

Not only is Hannah out for more than a month, there's also a good chance he will face a suspension once he returns. Two Tigers have already been disciplined for incidents like this, including last year's starting center Kalen Grimes getting kicked off the team over the summer. According to the Columbia Missourian, guard Matt Lawrence said earlier this month that the players are on “lockdown” and not allowed to go out. Missouri was likely not going to reach the NCAA Tournament, but the loss of Hannah puts them in danger of missing the postseason altogether. He was the team's leading scorer and assist man, averaging 14.7 points and 5.3 assists per game.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Power Sweet Sixteen Rankings

Yet another jam-packed week of conference clashes featured plenty of top-notch college basketball, which made a huge impact on potential seedings. Top seeds losing to sub-100 teams, top-10 teams losing at home, fanastic finishes involving top-four seeds -- this week had it all. Of course, it will all lead to a major shake-up in this week's rankings, but who will move where? Who will drop out and who will get their first taste of the Rankings? I will post the rankings every Sunday until I begin to release complete brackets in February.

- Standard bracketing rules apply (no two teams from the same conference in the same half-bracket, etc.)

- Numbers in parenthesis next to the team indicate what 1-16 ranking they are

Charlotte Region:
1. North Carolina (3)
2. UCLA (6)
3. Xavier (11)
4. Butler (14)

Detroit Region:
1. Memphis (1)
2. Texas (8)
3. Georgetown (9)
4. Indiana (16)

Houston Region:
1. Kansas (2)
2. Michigan State (7)
3. Washington State (10)
4. Wisconsin (15)

Phoenix Region:
1. Duke (4)
2. Tennessee (5)
3. St. Mary's (12)
4. Drake (13)

17th Team: Stanford

Others Considered: Arizona, Pittsburgh, Marquette

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Saturday Updates: UConn Suspensions and More

Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun announced on Friday that Husky sophomore guards Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins were suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. Neither played traveled with the team for its trip to Indiana today. "It obviously isn't something that is making me particularly happy," Calhoun said. "This particular suspension is mine, no one else's. I took the action based upon what I felt was in the best interest of our basketball team and the university." He made the decision to suspend them right before the team boarded a bus to go to the airport. Although no official word on why they were suspended has been released, various rumors are swirling around that it had to do with Dyson and Wiggins getting caught smoking marijuana. Dyson is averaging 14.3 points per game, while Wiggins is putting up 6.6 per game.

Crawford Out for Today's Game

Kentucky senior guard Joe Crawford will not play against South Carolina today due to a foot injury he aggravated in the Wildcats' last game against Tennessee. He has plantar fasciitis and has practiced on a very limited basis the past couple of days. Head coach Billy Gillispie was optimistic on Friday. “He hasn’t been able to practice hardly at all since we played,” Gillispie said. “I don’t know if he’ll be able to play, but hopefully he will.” Crawford is dressed in street clothes and has a boot on his left foot. Jodie Meeks started in Crawford's place.

Two Starters Injured for Wake Forest

Wake Forest sophomores L.D. Williams and Chas McFarland both suffered injuries in the Demon Deacons' loss to Clemson this week. Williams, a 6-foot-4 swingman, broke a bone in his right hand and will miss three weeks, while McFarland, a 7-foot center, sprained a knee. He is day-to-day after an MRI revealed no structural damage.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Weekend Preview

With February soon upon us, it’s almost time for the stretch run in college basketball. We all know what that means – bubble talk, conference title races, key intra-conference match-ups, and NCAA Tournament discussion. It also means important games every night between either top teams in the conference, or between two teams trying to keep pace in the at-large hunt. There is no shortage of games like that this weekend, but two of the best games might be a couple of non-conference shootouts. With no football to get in the way of quality college basketball, just sit back all weekend and bask in the hoops.

Top Games

Notre Dame (+2.5) at Villanova (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Two of the better teams in the Big East, but also two of the most inconsistent. Notre Dame has looked unbeatable at home, but extremely ordinary – and worse than that – on the road. The Irish have lost two of three by a combined 45 points after winning 10 in a row. They are led by the inside combo of Luke Harangody and Rob Kurz, while Kyle McAlarney is the go-to-guy in the backcourt. Villanova looked like it was gathering momentum – and then it went and lost to Rutgers by 12 on Wednesday. No matter which way you slice it, that is an embarrassing loss. ‘Nova is now just 3-3 in the Big East, with all three losses coming to sub-100 RPI teams. Scottie Reynolds is a very good scorer in the backcourt, while Dante Cunningham has been solid up front. Corey Fisher and Malcolm Grant form a nice freshmen guard duo. Prediction: Villanova 74, Notre Dame 64

Gonzaga (+12.5) at Memphis (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN): One of the more-anticipated non-conference match-ups every January or February. Gonzaga seems to have righted the ship after struggling in late December, winning six in a row, including four West Coast Conference games. Matt Bouldin and Jeremy Pargo form a dynamite backcourt, while Josh Heytvelt seems to be regaining some of his production from last season. Austin Daye is a supremely talented freshman. Memphis is one of the two undefeated teams left in the country, and the Tigers clearly have the best shot to end the regular season with zero losses. They didn’t play well in their win over Tulsa this week, but they still have had only one game in which they won by less than 10 points. Derrick Rose is one of the best point guards in the country, while Chris Douglas-Roberts has developed into a go-to-guy on the wing. Robert Dozier is a double-figure scorer up front, and Joey Dorsey is one of the best rebounders and shot-blockers in the country. Prediction: Memphis 79, Gonzaga 68

Connecticut (+8.5) at Indiana (Saturday, 1:00 PM, CBS): Another very intriguing non-conference battle right in the middle of the league season. Connecticut is an interesting team. The Huskies have the look of an NCAA Tournament, albeit an inconsistent one. However, their resume doesn’t really reflect that. A win here would be huge for their profile. They have won two in a row after losing three of four. A.J. Price has developed into one of the better guards in the Big East, while Jerome Dyson and Jeff Adrien still form a solid inside-outside tandem. Indiana has emerged as the favorite in the Big Ten, given the Hoosiers’ play lately and Michigan State’s “struggles.” Indiana has won 13 in a row since losing to Xavier and seems to be getting better and better. Eric Gordon is arguably the best guard in the country, and D.J. White has provided tremendous inside balance for Kelvin Sampson and co. Armon Bassett, Jamarcus Ellis and Jordan Crawford also contribute to a deep perimeter group. Prediction: Indiana 71, Connecticut 65

Washington (+8.5) at Arizona (Saturday, 3:00 PM, FSN): A battle in the Pac-10 of teams hoping to make a move upwards before February. Washington has won three in a row since starting 0-3, while Arizona has won three of four since going just 1-3 without star freshman Jerryd Bayless, who is now back in the lineup. UW’s Jon Brockman vs. UA’s Jordan Hill should be a solid match-up on the inside. The Huskies have really become a team to watch in the conference, due to Brockman on the inside and Justin Dentmon and Ryan Appleby on the perimeter. This team has talent, it just took until recently for it to be fully released. Arizona is a very solid team that has gotten better with each game. Bayless is nearly unstoppable at the point, while Chase Budinger is a versatile forward who can do a variety of things. Hill has developed into a go-to-guy down low for the Wildcats. Prediction: Arizona 80, Washington 71

Wisconsin (-1.5) at Purdue (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN): The best game in the Big Ten all weekend – and a possible upset selection. Wisconsin has been a relative surprise this season due to the fact many people doubted the Badgers in the preseason. They have won 10 in a row and sit at 6-0 in the conference. Trevon Hughes has provided quickness at the point, while Michael Flowers does a little of everything in the backcourt. Brian Butch has shown ability to score inside and out. Purdue is one of the least-publicized “good” teams in the country. The Boilermakers are 5-1 in the Big Ten, with the lone loss by three at Michigan State. They have seven of their last eight, but they need to pick up more marquee wins for their at-large profile. Keaton Grant has emerged in the backcourt lately, along with freshman E’Twaun Moore. Two more freshmen, Scott Martin and Robbie Hummel are solid players up front. They’re very young, so they will be even tougher come March. Prediction: Purdue 63, Wisconsin 61

Mississippi (+6) at Mississippi State (Saturday, 5:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
An intrastate rivalry for supremacy in the SEC West. Mississippi State is the only undefeated team in league play at 4-0, and the Bulldogs have won eight in a row overall. Jamont Gordon is one of the best all-around guards in the country, while Barry Stewart has provided scoring from the wing. Jarvis Varnado has developed into the best shot-blocker in America and an athletic rebounder. MSU plays outstanding defense, leading the country in field-goal percentage defense. Mississippi started the season with a bang, going 13-0 before dropping two of its past four. Both losses were on the road by a combined five points. Freshman point guard Chris Warren doesn’t get as much pub as some of the other rookie guards across the country, but he’s been tremendous. Dwayne Curtis gives them inside production, and Eniel Polynice leads a deep group of talented wings. Prediction: Mississippi State 70, Mississippi 63

Georgetown (+3) at West Virginia (Saturday, 7:00 PM, ESPN): Could the Big East become even more muddled this weekend, as Georgetown is the lone 5-1 team in the conference, but four teams are waiting in line at 4-2? West Virginia is one of them. Georgetown has struggled somewhat lately, winning two of their last three games by a total of five points and losing to Pittsburgh last week. Roy Hibbert is one of the nation’s premier big men, while DaJuan Summers and Jessie Sapp are the main producers from the perimeter. West Virginia has won four in a row since dropping three of four to fall from the nation’s conscience. The Mountaineers haven’t really played very good competition during the winning streak, but it will give them confidence. Joe Alexander can score in a variety of ways, while Alex Ruoff can shoot the ball well from deep. Da’Sean Butler is athletic and can score and Darris Nichols is a vastly underrated point guard. Prediction: West Virginia 73, Georgetown 69

Washington State (-2.5) at Arizona State (Saturday, 7:00 PM, Regional TV): If you like scoring, this game isn’t for you. As mentioned before, both teams love to slow the game down and play in the half-court. Therefore, expect both teams to take care of the ball and limit mistakes, and the final result will likely be in the 50s or low 60s. Arizona State has allowed more than 65 points just five times this season, while Washington State has given up more than 65 points on only three occasions all season. Both teams have plenty of solid perimeter players and a go-to-guy down low, and rely on terrific balance and offensive execution to get their points. One of the best individual match-ups in the Pac-10 will also be on display in Tempe on Saturday night as ASU’s James Harden, an outstanding scorer who can get points against anyone, will be defended by Washington State’s Kyle Weaver, one of the best defensive players in the country. Keep an eye on the last few minutes – that’s when the game will be decided. Prediction: Arizona State 66, Washington State 63 Click
here for the rest of this week’s Game of the Week preview

USC (+4) at Oregon (Saturday, 9:00 PM, FSN): One of several quality Pac-10 games this weekend. USC has won three in a row, including two games on the road, since beginning conference play at 0-3. Three of the next five are on the road, before the Trojans end the year with five of their last seven at home. O.J. Mayo and Davon Jefferson are one of the best inside-outside freshmen duos in the country, while Daniel Hackett and Dwight Lewis are good, all-around wing players. Taj Gibson needs to recover the sort of production he put up a year ago. Oregon needs a win here to get some momentum after losing three in a row to drop to 3-4 in the Pac-10. All three losses were by single-digits, but the Ducks need to figure out how to win late in games. Malik Hairston is a match-up nightmare for most teams, while big man Maarty Leunen is an inside-outside threat. Tajuan Porter can shoot and Bryce Taylor is very solid. Prediction: Oregon 74, USC 68

Xavier at Massachusetts (Sunday, 12:00 PM, Regional TV): Don’t overlook this game when looking at this weekend’s top games. The Atlantic-10 is playing outstanding basketball this season, and could be in line for four or five bids to the NCAA Tournament. Xavier has won eight of its last nine, including a 26-point victory over Dayton on Thursday. Six players average in double-figures for the balanced Musketeers. Drew Lavender is one of the better point guards in the country; he leads the way for X. UMass has lost three of its last five to drop to 2-2 in the conference. However, the wins were at home against a good Charlotte team and on the road at Dayton. All three losses were by single-digits. Ricky Harris and Gary Forbes both average more than 20 points per game on the wings, while Chris Lowe is a very good distributor. Etienne Brower is the main inside producer. Prediction: Massachusetts 78, Xavier 71

Vanderbilt at Florida (Sunday, 1:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): A few weeks ago, most would have figured these roles would have been reversed; at the time, Vandy was 16-0 and rolling, while Florida was an overrated 15-2 team that would falter once conference play. Instead, Vandy has struggled in league play. The Commodores are just 2-2 in the SEC, with back-to-back losses to Kentucky and Florida before beating LSU. Shan Foster and freshman big man A.J. Ogilvy form one of the best inside-outside combos in the league. On the other side, Florida has solidified itself as legit contender for the SEC title and a club that could potentially win a game in the NCAA Tournament. The 4-1 Gators have five guys averaging at least nine points per game, including three freshmen. UF is very young but very talented. Nick Calathes is one of the better rookie point guards in the country, while Chandler Parsons and Jai Lucas also start. Marreese Speights has the talent and potential to be one of the most dominant big men in the nation. Prediction: Florida 71, Vanderbilt 66

Others Games to Watch

North Carolina State (+8) at Florida State (Saturday, 1:30 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): A couple of ACC teams vying to get back in the league race. NC State has not lived up to preseason expectations, playing much the same as it did last year and is 1-3. Florida State had a chance to beat both Clemson and Duke, both faltered down the stretch. The Seminoles have lost three of four. Prediction: Florida State 72, North Carolina State 62

Oklahoma (+5) at Baylor (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
An interesting meeting in the Big 12 between a team that had some momentum about a month ago and one that is one of the hottest around. Oklahoma has struggled since the injury to freshman Blake Griffin, while Baylor is coming off a five-overtime victory at Texas A&M. I wonder if fatigue could be a potential factor in this one. With the way the Bears are playing, I doubt it. Prediction: Baylor 68, Oklahoma 59

UNLV (+3) at San Diego State (Saturday, 4:00 PM, Versus): The top two teams in the Mountain West go head-to-head. UNLV, which made a Sweet Sixteen run a year ago, has won 10 of its last 12, including a 29-point pasting of BYU last week. San Diego State leads the conference at 4-1, but the Aztecs dropped close three-point game at BYU on Wednesday. SDSU has lost just one game by more than eight points.
Prediction: San Diego State 76, UNLV 70

Utah State (+5) at New Mexico State (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN2):
In what is a down year in the WAC, these two teams look like the best bets for the automatic bid. Utah State is 5-0 in the conference and has won 10 straight games overall. The Aggies have really bounced back from a disappointing start. NMSU has lost two of its last three since starting the league season 3-0. It needs a bounce-back win here. Prediction: New Mexico State 74, Utah State 66

Stanford (-1.5) at California (Saturday, 7:00 PM, Regional TV): A battle in northern California. Stanford is tied for second in the Pac-10 with a 4-2 conference record. The Cardinal’s only losses in the league are to UCLA and at Oregon. California has struggled since conference play began, losing four of its last five after winning its first Pac-10 game of the year. Cal’s Ryan Anderson and DeVon Hardin vs. Stanford’s Lopez twins should be a tremendous battle down low. Prediction: California 69, Stanford 65

Cincinnati at Seton Hall (Sunday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Two teams heading in opposite directions in the Big East. Cincinnati lost a tight one at home to Connecticut this week to drop to 4-3 in the conference, while Seton Hall has won three in a row by double-figures, including Thursday nigh at Providence, to improve to 4-3. The winner will remain a contender in the conference title race. Prediction: Seton Hall 73, Cincinnati 64

Clemson at Miami (Fl.) (Sunday, 1:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): With Miami’s great 12-0 start but 2-4 record since then, many people are calling the Hurricanes’ this year’s Clemson – a reference to the Tigers’ famous collapse in ACC play last season. Miami is 1-3 in league play. On the other side, Clemson is 3-3 in its last six games, but two of those wins came in overtime at home. It remains to be seen how good they really are. Prediction: Miami (Fl.) 75, Clemson 69

Providence at Syracuse (Sunday, 2:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Are there two more inconsistent teams in the Big East? Providence beats UConn on the road then gets blown out at home by Seton Hall; Syracuse loses by double-digits to Villanova at home then takes Georgetown to overtime on the road. Which version will show up this weekend? Both teams need a win to boost their at-large resumes.
Prediction: Syracuse 81, Providence 73

Duke at Maryland (Sunday, 6:30 PM, FSN): Can Maryland pull off the improbable sweep of North Carolina and Duke in back-to-back games? The Terrapins have won six of seven, including their huge upset of the Tar Heels on the road last weekend. Duke is emerging as a legit contender to North Carolina’s league title hopes. The Blue Devils are undefeated in the ACC, and have just one loss the entire season – in overtime to Pittsburgh. Prediction: Duke 83, Maryland 79

Keep an Eye On

South Carolina (+7.5) at Kentucky (Saturday, 1:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV):
Interesting battle in the SEC East. Can Kentucky keep its hot streak alive at home, or will South Carolina hop into the division race with a big road win?
Prediction: Kentucky 64, South Carolina 58

Texas A&M (+1.5) at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN): It will certainly be a much more competitive game than it looked a few weeks ago. A&M has lost three in a row, while OSU showed some life with a near-upset of Texas. Prediction: Oklahoma State 67, Texas A&M 63

Appalachian State (+2.5) at Chattanooga (Saturday, 3:00 PM, Regional TV):
Will either of these teams challenge Davidson in the SoCon? ASU has won seven in a row and nine of its last ten, while Chattanooga has lost two straight road games. Prediction: Chattanooga 71, Appalachian State 61

Virginia Tech (+6) at Boston College (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Two teams in need of a win. Tech has dropped two in a row to fall to 2-3, while BC lost by 18 to Virginia in its last outing.
Prediction: Boston College 79, Virginia Tech 64

Iowa State (+12) at Kansas State (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): So much for ISU making noise in the Big 12 – the Cyclones lost by 24 to Kansas. Kansas State has won eight of its last nine. Prediction: Kansas State 76, Iowa State 63

New Mexico (+7) at BYU (Saturday, 6:00 PM, Regional TV): The Mountain West is fairly wide-open this season, with these two among the six teams within one game of first-place. BYU is outstanding on its homecourt. Prediction: BYU 73, New Mexico 65

Georgia (+13.5) at Tennessee (Saturday, 7:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Two one-loss teams battle in the SEC East. UGA has played well lately, winning five of seven, while UT fell at Kentucky in its last game. Prediction: Tennessee 84, Georgia 70

Minnesota (+7) at Ohio State (Saturday, 8:00 PM, Big Ten Network):
Two teams headed in the wrong direction. Minnesota has lost two in a row and four of six, while OSU dropped three in a row before beating Illinois. Prediction: Ohio State 69, Minnesota 61

Texas Tech (+11.5) at Texas (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Two teams playing solid ball lately. Tech has won two of three, while Texas righted its ship with a road win at Oklahoma State. Prediction: Texas 79, Texas Tech 66

DePaul (+13) at Marquette (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPNU): A surprise Big East contender against a preseason contender choice. DePaul is 4-2 in the conference, and has won seven of eight. Marquette has lost two in a row by 36 points. Prediction: Marquette 71, DePaul 59

Full-Court Press, Jan. 25

I'm still changing names for this on a regular basis -- until I find one that I really like. Anyway, here's some news and notes from around the country.

- Despite James Harden being healthy enough to play, Arizona State still fell at home to Washington 72-61. (East Valley Tribune)

- Arizona freshman guard Jerryd Bayless scored 23 points last night, but the most impressive part of his performance was his defense. (Tucson Citizen)

- UCLA freshman center Kevin Love finished with 26 points and 18 rebounds in his return home to Oregon last night: "One thing you don't want to do is wake me up." (The Oregonian)

- Louisville junior forward Terrence Williams has become more of a point-forward lately, passing for 21 assists in the past two games. (Louisville Courier-Journal)

- Despite recent victories over Vanderbilt and Tennessee, Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie won't discuss the Wildcats' potential postseason chances -- for which they have no margin for error. (Lexington Herald-Leader)

- Road victories have been extremely difficult to come by in the Big East this season -- seven schools are still looking for their first win away from home. (Chicago Tribune)

- Although Memphis big man Joey Dorsey will finish as the school's No. 2 all-time rebounder, he remains inconsistent and lazy at times. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

- Mississippi State sophomore forward Jarvis Varnado is the best shot-blocker in the country despite his unorthodox style and relatively skinny frame. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

- Xavier is still upset about the "mid-major" label the Atlantic-10 and Musketeers have been receiving -- "What's the point in trying to label people? We're tired of it, and we're not going to play along anymore." (Dallas Morning News)

- The Big East might have the most injuries to key players of any conference in the country -- and it's forcing coaches to adjust everything. (Syracuse Post-Standard)

- In his first year as Billy Gillispie's replacement, Texas A&M head coach Mark Turgeon could be a no-win situation with the Aggies. (Houston Chronicle)

- Villanova freshman forward Antonio Pena has stepped into the Wildcats' starting lineup after sitting out all of last season with an injury. (Philadelphia Daily News)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Articles at NBE Report, CHN, PFS

Although March Madness All Season gets the majority of his original material, Jeff Borzello, the founder, editor and lone writer of MMAS, also contributes frequently to other websites. Therefore, I've decided to do a weekly links post showing you what other articles and stories I have written besides the ones here at MMAS. So, feel free to click over and check out more of my "expertise."

Big East Basketball Report: "Future is There for St. John's": Although the Red Storm have struggled in recent years, they brought in a deep and talented recruiting class this season. The newcomers have shown their potential but also their inexperience throughout the year. What does the future hold for the rookies -- and, as a result, the St. John's program? I spoke to Red Storm freshmen D.J. Kennedy and Rob Thomas, St. John's head coach Norm Roberts and assistant coach Fred Quartlebaum, as well as an NBA and college scout for the story.

Big East Basketball Report: "Schenley's Kane has Big East Interest": Despite the loss of Big East freshmen D.J. Kennedy and DeJuan Blair, Schenley High School in Pittsburgh has not missed a beat. The Spartans are still ranked in the top-10 in Pennsylvania and have a sought-after senior in guard DeAndre Kane. He originally verbally committed to Duquesne but never signed, and is now getting attention from Pittsburgh and West Virginia, among others. How is the rest of the program progressing after the aforementioned personnel losses? I spoke to former Schenley coach Fred Skrocki for the story. Player of the Week: Davon Jefferson, USC: Jefferson snapped out of a recent stretch of subpar games with a huge 25-point, nine-rebound performance in helping lead the Trojans to an upset win on the road at UCLA. His dunk over Kevin Love in the final seconds helped clinch the win for USC. James Gist of Maryland was among the top runner-ups. Game of the Week: Washington State at Arizona State: In a loaded weekend featuring several interesting interconference games and plenty of marquee conference tilts, this game stands out. Both teams play at a slow tempo, but are going to be tough to beat in March. Can a young ASU team make a statement against a top-ten team? I breakdown each team's key players and tendencies, and also analyze the match-up and discuss three keys for each team in order to win.

Pro Fantasy Sports: Real Deal or Fluke? (Power Conference Report): I've posted this column here frequently in the past, but from now on I'm going to hold off and include it in my weekly round-up of columns. As usual, I discuss and analyze ten players who have had an interesting increase in production recently, and predict whether it will continue or if the player will revert back to his old form.

Thursday, January 24 Predictions

Prediction Record: 326-128 (ATS: 223-210-5)

Seton Hall at Providence (-8.5): Prediction: Providence 82, Seton Hall 74
Duke at Virginia Tech (+9): Prediction: Duke 76, Virginia Tech 66
Stephen F. Austin at Sam Houston State (OFF): Prediction: Sam Houston State 64, Stephen F. Austin 59
Dayton at Xavier (-11): Prediction: Xavier 76, Dayton 63
Washington State at Arizona (-1.5/OFF)): Prediction: Washington State 69, Arizona 67
Washington at Arizona State (-5.5): Prediction: Arizona State 66, Washington 55
Pacific at UCSB (-7): Prediction: UCSB 75, Pacific 65
UCLA at Oregon (OFF): Prediction: Oregon 71, UCLA 69

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wednesday, January 23 Predictions

Prediction Record: 316-136 (ATS: 214-108-5)

Massachusetts at Saint Joseph’s (-6.5): Prediction: St. Joseph's 78, Massachusets 72
Akron at Kent State (-3): Prediction: Kent State 72, Akron 64
Virginia at Florida State (-6): Prediction: Florida State 77, Virginia 65
Pittsburgh at Saint John’s (+5.5): Prediction: Pittsburgh 67, St. John's 61
Iowa State at Kansas (-23.5): Prediction: Kansas 83, Iowa State 64
VMI at Winthrop (OFF): Prediction: Winthrop 88, VMI 80
Connecticut at Cincinnati (+3): Prediction: Cincinnati 63, Connecticut 58
Florida at South Carolina (+1): Prediction: Florida 73, South Carolina 71
Missouri at Texas Tech (-1): Prediction: Texas Tech 75, Missouri 65
San Diego State at BYU (-8.5): Prediction: BYU 69, San Diego State 63
Baylor at Texas A&M (-9): Prediction: Texas A&M 70, Baylor 62
North Carolina at Miami (Fl.) (+7.5): North Carolina 84, Miami (Fl.) 76

NCAA Tournament Stock Report

Welcome to the first installment of March Madness All Season’s new feature, “NCAA Tournament Stock Watch”. Essentially, it is a compilation of teams that are rising and falling with an eye on the NCAA Tournament. It will discuss teams whose potential seed is rising or falling, as well as clubs that are making moves either in or out of the at-large picture or could make noise in the coming weeks.

Once we get closer to March, this will be replaced with “Road to Selection Sunday”, which will be released every Sunday night from mid-February until March 16.


Stanford: The Cardinal have thrown themselves right back in the thick of the Pac-10 race by knocking off Arizona and Arizona State last week. They might be third in the conference pecking order right now.

Drake: The Bulldogs are now by themselves atop the Missouri Valley after defeating previously unbeaten Illinois State over the weekend. Drake sits at 7-0 and are pushing towards a top-six seed.

Massachusetts: The Minutemen are really making a case for an at-large bid, with an impressive win at Dayton, followed by a solid victory over a hot Charlotte team. Top-20 RPI and 6-2 against the top-100.

Tennessee: The Volunteers are one of the hottest teams in the country, having won 11 in a row. They are comfortably in as a No. 1 seed right now, but three of their next four are on the road. Will they be able to stay there?

Mississippi State: Finally, the SEC West is getting some separation. After a big win at Alabama over the weekend, the Bulldogs improved to 4-0 in the SEC and have now won eight in a row. Tough stretch coming up.

Providence: One of the Big East’s forgotten, the Friars are coming off of an impressive 12-point win on the road over Connecticut last week. Two of their next three are on the road, so they need to keep it up.

Florida: The young Gators are coming together and looking like a tough team at just the right time. They still have terrible power numbers, but are just a two-point loss at Mississippi from being 4-0 in the SEC.

Cincinnati/DePaul: Talk about surprises. Both teams were just 5-7 in non-conference play, but are 4-2 in Big East competition. Cincy has beaten Louisville, Syracuse, Villanova and Pittsburgh, while DePaul has wins over ‘Nova and Providence.

Villanova: Speaking of Villanova, the Wildcats are playing much better lately. They overcame a huge deficit to defeat DePaul last week and then went into Syracuse and knocked off the Orange.

Purdue: The Boilermakers, despite their poor RPI numbers, are making a push towards a bid. They are now 4-1 in the Big Ten, with the lone loss a three-point defeat on the road at Michigan State. Keep an eye on them.

Kansas State: This is what people have been waiting all season for when it comes to the Wildcats. They have seven of their last eight, including back-to-back wins at Oklahoma and against Texas A&M.

Georgia: Another team with a awful power numbers but a very solid start to the conference season. The Bulldogs knocked off Alabama and Arkansas in back-to-back games, and have won five of seven.

Iowa State: Although the Cyclones, like some of the other teams on this list, remain a longshot to make the field, they are playing much better lately. They are 2-1 in the Big 12, and have won nine of their last 11.

Baylor: The Bears might be the most underrated two-loss team in the country. They are undefeated in the Big 12, and have won 10 of their last 11. The only losses all year were to Washington State and Arkansas.

USC: Did the Trojans’ win over UCLA on Saturday mark the start of a turnaround? It might have, considering they are now 2-3 in the Pac-10 after starting with three straight losses. Back-to-back road games will tell us more.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils were blown out in the second half against Stanford, but had won 10 games in a row prior to the loss. Next Saturday at home against Washington State could give them national recognition.

Cleveland State: Welcome to this year’s Wright State. The Vikings look like the frontrunner to win the auto-bid from the Horizon after beating Butler and Valparaiso to improve to 7-0 in the conference.


After the Orange’s hot 2-0 start in Big East play, they have come back down to Earth with losses in four of their last five games. With an 0-6 record against the RPI top-50, they have a lot of work to do.

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers missed a golden opportunity to make some moves in the at-large picture by losing to Indiana and Michigan State in back-to-back games at home. They have no wins against the top-100.

Miami (Fl.): Are the Hurricanes this season’s version of Clemson? After starting 11-0, they have lost three of five and are now just 1-2 in the ACC. Two straight home games against UNC and Clemson loom large.

Texas A&M: The Aggies were looking like a sleeper top-10 team – and then they went on the road. A&M went 0-2 last week, losing to Texas Tech and Kansas State by a combined 36 points. Three of next four at home.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes need to start winning close games. They have lost three straight games by seven points or less, including ones at Tennessee and Michigan State, which could have given OSU the marquee win they need.

Clemson: The Tigers might not have the collapse of the past couple years, but losses in three of their last five – including two home games – are not helping to get that image out of the players’ minds.

Nebraska: The Cornhuskers entered Big 12 play as a potential at-large team with wins over Oregon and Arizona State, but they are 0-3 since league play began. Three of next four are on the road, which won’t help.

Oregon: The Ducks looked like they were beginning to right the ship after winning three in a row, but back-to-back losses drop them back to 3-3 in the Pac-10. However, they now have three straight home contests.

Missouri: The Tigers missed out on a chance to jump back into the postseason picture by losing at home to Kansas on Saturday. They now have four losses in their last seven games, despite beating Texas by 13 in that span.

California: Looks like Pac-10 play is starting to claim victims already. The Golden Bears have lost four of their last five, including three home games. It doesn’t get any easier, as two of next three and five of next eight are on the road.

Alabama: Despite having one of the best big men in the country and talent at several positions, the Crimson Tide have disappeared once again without Ronald Steele. They are 0-4 in the SEC, and just 11-8 overall.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks were expected to compete for the SEC West title, but they’ve put themselves at a disadvantage already. They are just 2-2 in the conference after dropping back-to-back games, including a home one to South Carolina.

Dayton: One of the early-season surprises could potentially collapse in the second half. The Flyers barely beat Saint Louis, then lost to Massachusetts at home. Chris Wright and Charles Little are both out for a month.

Rhode Island: Another Atlantic-10 team heading in the wrong direction. The Rams have lost two of three, and nearly lost a third to Duquesne. Three of their next four are at home before starting a three-game road trip.

Penn State: Whatever postseason hopes the Nittany Lions harbored after starting 2-0 in the Big Ten are now all but over. They have lost three in a row, but they also lost star Geary Claxton for the season with an ACL injury.

Florida State: The Seminoles looked like they could be a potential at-large team in the ACC picture, but they have faltered of late. FSU has lost three in a row by double-figures to drop to 1-3 in conference play.

Sam Houston State: The Bearkats received a decent amount of recognition in the non-conference because of their great defense and 12-1 start. However, they started just 2-2 in Southland, with both losses by three points each.