WonderbabyTM seemingly brought home what I can only assume to be the black plague from her day care, infecting everyone who got within a mile of her with a horrible stomach bug that attacked at both ends. And yes, now it's my turn to have it - joy. Yet I struggle through to still bring you, constant reader, your daily entertainment. Some of these entries I wrote earlier in the week, and some I just typed up now while running to the bathroom every five minutes. See if you can guess which are which.
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Mountain West Football. Can someone tell me why the hell the MWC isn't included in this BCS garbage? The Mountain West, after Utah killed Cal and BYU thrashed Oregon State this week, is now 3-0 in bowl games, and has just been destroying anybody foolish enough to accept a bid to play against them. It started with the New Mexico Bowl, a game where Fresno was a 10-point favorite against Wyoming, but the Cowboys represented the conference well with an upset win in overtime. Then it got really fun, with the BYU destroying an almost-in-the-Rose-Bowl Oregon State 44-20 in the Las Vegas Bowl (and it wasn't nearly that close) and then Utah winning their ninth straight bowl game in impressive fashion, stomping on Cal 37-27 in the Poinsettia Bowl. Really folks, the Mountain West's continual success against other conferences, not to mention TCU's monster year, should be all the argument you need that these guys are every bit as good as any of the other conferences out there. Time to expand the BCS agreement.
2. Elliot Williams. You familiar with this kid at all? He's the former Dukie who transferred to Memphis last season to be closer to his ailing mother who is now single-handedly making sure the Tigers are still the tops in Conference USA. He was a top 20 recruit who didn't play much for Duke last season (although he did hit double-figures in four of their last 8 games), but his transferring to Memphis has made a world of difference. After a monster game against SE Missouri State on Tuesday (20 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists) he's now averaging 20-5-4 on the season and has the Tigers at 8-2, and although I sort of think Memphis is a paper tiger this year (their best win is over Montana State), there is no doubting Williams is the real banana (perhaps even the famous "Kirk Cameron Banana").
3. Old Dominion. As badly as I wanted to include ODU last week after they knocked off Georgetown, I just couldn't find room for them. Now, after they made a pretty good Charlotte team essentially clean their room and then give them a BJ, I can't possibly keep the Monarchs and their single-handed effort to make the Colonial relevant again out any longer. These guys might be just 8-4, but they have played a bitch of a schedule and all four losses area to good teams - Dayton, Missouri, Mississippi State, and Richmond - and they had a huge week with wins over both Georgetown and Charlotte. With VCU looking very good once again (wins over Oklahoma, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Richmond) and William & Mary looking relevant for the first time ever (wins over Wake Forest, Richmond, and VCU), the Colonial might be looking at another multi-bid year, and ODU will be right there all season long. Ken Pomeroy agrees, his numbers have them ranked 8th in the country right now. Obviously they aren't the 8th best team, but they are certainly looking like an NCAA caliber team, and would probably beat the Gophers by ten or so.
4. USC. Can one program redeem an entire conference in one week? Of course not, that's ridiculous, but it was a great week for the Trojans who won the Diamond Head Classic and brought a little ray of hope and competitiveness to a so far pretty lackluster Pac 10. USC beat Western Michigan (yawn), St. Mary's (pretty good), and UNLV (good win) to take the championship, and in a wide open (code for sucky) Pac 10 they've suddenly become the third best team in the conference.
5. Greg Monroe. Put up an impressive 16 point, 16 rebound, 4 steal, 5 block performance in the Hoyas one-game this week, a 86-70 win over Harvard. You know how people always draft guys like Roy Hibbert, Spencer Hawes, and Hasheem Thabeet early in the lottery and then act all shocked when they turn into either stiffs or nothing more than defensive players. Watch Monroe - this is the guy you should be salivating over. 6-11, super athletic, and a good ball-handler, whoever drafts him is getting a super star. He seriously reminds me a lot of David Robinson. I would love to see the Wolves get him, even with Love and Jefferson; he could end up being a franchise changer for somebody.
1. Oklahoma. Wow. Capel is letting things fall apart all over the place in Soonertown. They only had one game this week, one in which they got whooped by UTEP, and it did end a six-game win streak, but there are some unfortunate rumblings (and that loss to UTEP gives them four, three of which are to likely non-tournament teams which isn't good). First, Capel came out and said he was "tired of trying to figure out" star guard Willie Warren. Then, just two days later, he said he said, "It's amazing you have to tell him to be a good player" in reference to star freshman Tiny Gallon. Third, that same day, Warren came out and asked "Does he not trust me with the ball?", despite the fact that Warren ranks 21st in the country in terms of % of his team's possessions he is involved in. Like I said, the loss to UTEP isn't a killer, and even though the other three losses are not great none of them are killers, but there is some serious dissension in Oklahoma City. I have a feeling they either get their shit together and go on a run and make the tournament (the talent level here is good enough to finish as high as third in the Big 12), or this thing is going to implode in a huge, huge way. Stay tuned (note: my money is on the imploding.).
2. Tulsa. Coming into this season the Golden Hurricane was thought to be a challenger to Memphis's throne in C-USA, but has gone from contender to "has no shot at an at-large at all" in a hurry. They were in the Las Vegas Classic field this week, and essentially it should have been nothing more than an easy win over Nebraska to set up what would have been a very entertaining final against BYU.. Well, Tulsa clearly had no interest in that, instead choosing to drop that game to the Huskers and then by losing to Nevada by 30. Yes, 30. I mean it's not that the loss to Nebraska or Nevada is crippling (or their earlier loss to Missouri State), but they didn't exactly schedule themselves a whole lot of chances to get quality wins, so whiffing on these hurts. Colorado is the only decent opponent left before the C-USA season starts (and there is an unwinnable game against Duke in late February), but as it stands right now they have a nice win over Oklahoma State and that's pretty much it. Conference USA overall is better this year than it has been in the past, but Tulsa will have to have a very nice run to have a chance at an at-large.
3. New Mexico. Nothing quite like taking your school's highest ranking in ten years and just flushing it right down the toilet, eh? The Lobos had ascended all the way to #12 in the polls on the strength of a 12-0 start to the season that included wins over Cal and Texas A&M, and with a very balanced (4 double-figure scorers) and efficient (#16 offensive efficiency) team they were looking likely the favorite in the Mountain West and maybe even a sleeper to do some damange in March, but last week's game against Oral Roberts was officially a suck. The Lobos lost 75-66, thanks mainly to their two leading scorers (Roman Martinez and Darrington Hobson) combining to shoot 6-23. ORU is not a good team at just 7-6 with a couple of ugly losses mixed in their, but I'm not quite ready to dismiss the Lobos as frauds just yet. We should find out pretty quickly - UNM plays Texas Tech and Dayton next week. Stay tuned.
4. New York Giants. If you need to win out to make the playoffs, and all you have a home game against a crappy Carolina team, you probably should make more of an effort than getting steam rolled 41-9 - and once again, this was at home. The Giants turned it over 4 times and allowed Jonathan Stewart to rush for a club record 206 yards. They don't belong anywhere near the playoffs.
5. Indiana, DePaul, Florida, Illinois, and Utah. The Hoosiers lost at home to Loyola (Maryland), the Blue Demons lost to Florida-Gulf Coast, the Gators lost to South Alabama at home, the Illini got rolled by Missouri (following up a loss to Georgia), and Utah lost to Pepperdine (following up a loss to Illinois State) - take your pick for this last spot, too close to call (I'd go DePaul if I had to make a choice).
I hope to feel well enough to get a preview of the Penn State game up today or tomorrow, but just in case I don't, TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE TALOR BATTLE.