Monday, January 25, 2010
TAILS NEVER FAILS! What the hell, who calls heads? I thought everybody knew this.
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. UCONN. Last week UCONN lost to Michigan, their third straight, and everybody was like lol wut? This week the Huskies have finally started turning it around starting with a convincing win over St. Johns and culminating in a huge win on Saturday, and upset of #1 Texas in Storrs - all with their head coach gone for medical reasons. The St. Johns game was billed as a possible upset due to Calhoun's leaving and the uppitiness of St. J's, but UCONN had no trouble, winning 75-59 behind big days from Kemba Walker (17 pts on 7-12 shooting), Stan Robinson (18 on 7-9), and Jerome Dyson (21 on 8-14). That same trio did it again against Texas, combining for 68 of the team's 88 points in the upset. I think this is a pretty dangerous team that's flying under the radar right now. That three game losing streak wasn't pretty, but this is the same team that hung right with Kentucky on a neutral court and at Duke and Georgetown this year. Pay attention.
2. NC State. The results of Saturday's game at Maryland are irrelevant, the Wednesday win over Duke is huge for this program and the fans, who I can only assume were starting to question Sid Lowe in a very large way. With Duke and UNC reaching dynasty statuses and Wake kind of coming and going but always being relevant, NC State was suddenly the black sheep of the Raleigh-Durham triangle. The Wolfpack haven't been to the NCAA tournament since 2006, have only reached the sweet 16 once in the last twenty years, were 2-9 in the last two years against fellow Raleigh-Durham teams, and haven't had a player you have heard of since Julius Hodge.
Luckily for the once proud program, it appears that this win wasn't just a fluke, and they are finally heading back in the right direction with talented freshmen PF Richard Howell (double/double vs. Clemson) and SF Scott Wood (31pts vs. Florida State) and one of the best players you've never heard of in PF Tracy Smith who is averaging 17 pts and 9 rebounds per game this year and should be back next year since he's just a junior. Add in a great recruiting class Lowe has secured for next season, I predict the Wolfpack to be back in the NCAA Tournament next season.
3. Purdue. A three-game losing streak and a .500 conference record made this a very big week for the Boilers, and they responded. The 69-59 weekend win over Michigan in West Lafayette wasn't that big a deal, especially since Beilein had suspended Manny Harris for the game due to "an act of unsportsmanlike conduct" at practice this week (which I can only assume involved bitch slapping Zack Novak). The real big win came on Tuesday, with Purdue going into Illinois and coming out with a 84-78 key road win over the Illini. Lose that game, and they're suddenly 3-4, lost 4 in a row, and everything is shaky. Instead, everything is back on the right track for JaJuan and friends. That was a must win against Illinois, and they went out and took care of business.
4. Syracuse. They keep winning, this week over Marquette at home and at Notre Dame, and I was quite wrong about Wesley Johnson who is actually an absolute beast (22 and 8, 22 and 15 this week). Must be nice to root for a team that wins.
5. UAB. Another team that just keeps winning, and they're doing it in dramatic fashion. Earlier this year they beat Middle Tennessee State on a layup with 12 seconds left, Arkansas on a dunk with one second left, and SMU by one after coming back from being down 24 in the second half, but this week may have been the most dramatic yet. The Blazers beat Southern Miss and Marshall both by one point, and both on Aaron Johnson buckets with 7 seconds or less remaining. The Marshall win was huge, coming on the road against a fellow C-USA title contender and unbeaten Herd, leaving UAB tied atop the standings with just Tulsa. Non-conference wins over Cincy and Butler will hold up, and the team's only two losses were road games, so they are set up in decent shape for an at-large. Their next three games are against fellow contenders Tulsa, UTEP, and at Memphis and if they can win 2 of the 3 things look very good.
1. Vikings. Forget about the 4th and 1 call (probably correct), the pass interference call (brutal), or the Meachem catch call (beyond brutal), the Vikings pissed this game away in about 20 different ways. Take your pick between the fumble, the fumble, the fumble, the 20 men in the huddle call, or the beyond stupid Favre interception at the end of the game. Seriously, if he just tucks the ball and runs he probably has 8-10 yards of room (and this is probably intentional and the way the play was designed) and Longwell gets a chance to win it from 48 or so (although he'd probably just miss). That gunslinger mentality that Favre kept the lid on all season finally came back to bit the team in the ass, and that's an awfully big bite. Like a dusky shark.
2. Gopher basketball. Thoughts located here. I don't have the energy to write about this again after watching that Vikings game.
3. Marquette. The Golden Eagles were pretty much everyone's poster child for the potential NCAA tournament team who had bad luck and whose record didn't reflect how good they really were this year. They were 11-6, but their losses were mostly close and mostly to good teams. A loss by four to NC State after leading by 11 at the half. A loss by 1 to Florida State on a Soloman Alabi jumper with twelve seconds left. An insane loss by one at West Virginia on a ridiculous buzzer beater by Da'Sean Butler and two losses to Villanova, both by just two points. Well, forget all that. Marquette lost to DePaul Wednesday night in what was DePaul's first Big East victory in their last 25 tries. That's not a misprint. It was the Blue Demons first conference win since January 3rd, 2008 - Johan Santana was still Minnesota Twins' property. Safe to say that Marquette isn't a good team that had some bad luck anymore. They may play some good teams tough, but not being able to close against a good team and losing to a crap team isn't exactly a positive sign.
4. Washington. Another week, another Pac 10 team spiraling out of control, bringing the conference down with it. This time it was the Huskies, at one time the favorite to win the league, who had an absolutely disastrous road trip to Los Angeles. On Thursday they dropped a game to UCLA on a last second half-court heave, and then got absolutely destroyed on Saturday by USC - losing 87-61. Seriously, the Pac-10 is going to get one bid this year outside of the conference tournament winner, and if Cal ends up winning that then there is a very real chance they only get a single bid. Barring any prolonged winning streaks, at this point the only teams with a chance are Cal, Washington, USC, Washington State, and Arizona State. Cal is pretty much already in, but there are major flaws with everybody else - especially USC, since they have a self-imposed postseason ban right now. Washington has dropped to 3-5 in the conference and lacks any kind of signature non-conference win. Washington State is just 4-4 in the Pac, but again, has nothing resembling big win, and Arizona State - second in the conference at 4-3 - just got destroyed by Arizona at home. So, yeah, this conference is garbage.
5. Wichita State. I wrote about the Shockers last week and how they were angling for an at-large but needed to avoid losing the games they should win and needed to net a big one somewhere. They got their big one, knocking off Conference Stud Northern Iowa, and were looking very good and I was all ready to write them up as being awesome this week. Instead they farted it all away. I happen to know our very own Rockies Guy is a big Drake guy as well, so he should be proud of his boys for beating the piss out of the Shockers (78-64) and single-handedly putting an end to their at-large aspirations (as they did to Illinois State the weekend prior). Alls well, though, because it's fairly clear to me at this point that Wichita State has a destiny - a destiny to come to Williams Arena this year. Mark it down - March 16, 8:00pm, Williams Arena - Gophers vs. Shockers. CATCH THE FEVER!