Guess who has two thumbs and kicked ass in their Golden Globes pool?
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Minnesota Gopher Basketball. Not for the Iowa game, because that was very meh and actually shameful in parts, but for the win over Purdue earlier this week. I said before that game that it wasn't necessarily a must-win but was a must-compete, but really it was pretty close to a must win and they won. Jesus that sentence sucks, I'm too distracted by this Washington game and the Golden Globes. Replace that with something that makes more sense. Go read www.thedailygopher.com. And, um, go gophers.
2. Florida State Seminoles. What is it about FSU? Why do they just completely own Duke? This was the third time since 2002 they've beaten Duke when the Blue Devils were ranked #1, and this time was certainly impressive. This wasn't a win because they caught Duke on a bad night, this was a win where they just outplayed them and controlled the game from the beginning. In mid-second half, Duke was down 40-29 before going on a 13-2 run to tie the game up. Rather than folding, the Seminoles responded with a 10-3 run of their own (with 8 of those points coming from Derwin Kitchen). Every time Duke would pull close, Florida State would score (again, usually Kitchen). Their trademark stingy defense (#6 in the country) held Duke to 31% shooting, and on this night was joined by an efficient offense to pick up a huge, and badly needed win. This completely wipes out that loss to Auburn last week, and puts FSU back on course for an NCAA bid.
3. Penn State Nittany Lions. It looks to me like the Big Ten just got deeper. You got your good teams (Wisconsin, Purdue, Ohio State), your pretty good teams (Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan State), and your might be good teams (Northwestern, and now Penn State). Penn State now has to be considered a threat for an NCAA bid. Earlier this week they beat Illinois to grab to two consecutive wins over ranked teams (they beat Michigan State last week). They were starting to look like a dangerous home team, and that's it, but on Saturday they went to Columbus and gave Ohio State everything they could handle before falling 69-66. Make no mistake, if PSU plays that exact same game on the road they will beat nearly every other Big Ten team, and that includes your precious Gophers. We are now at the point where a road win in State College will be a minor miracle.
4. Texas Longhorns. Texas has had bigger wins this year (Illinois, Michigan State) but this week's victory over Texas Tech in impressive fashion (30 point win on the road) is the one that finally won me over and is forcing me to admit that this year Texas might have it all put together. Tech is actually pretty bad this year, but the disappointing Texas teams the last few years always had a tendency to struggle or lose these kinds of games on the road. To come out and completely destroy the Red Raiders on their home floor is a very good sign. They also killed Oklahoma, but I'm pretty sure five random guys who read this blog could do that.
5. Mississippi State Bulldogs. Miss State had enough talent to be picked by many to be a top SEC team thsi year, but started off crappy enough to be featured as "WHO SUCKED" multiple times and generally looked like crap, including a fist fight in the stands between two of their players. Renardo Sidney is back from suspension from that fight, however, and now Dee Bost has returned after the NCAA's bizarre decisions to reinstate someone who entered the NBA draft and withdrew well after the deadline and things might be starting to come together, Pepper. Not that beating Ole Miss and Auburn at home is necessarily some sort of meaningful run, but when you've lost to Hawaii, East Tennessee State, and Florida Atlantic this year, you'll take anything.
1. Oregon Ducks. Not because they lost to Auburn in the title game, but because of that goofy foo-foo offense they trot out there. Seriously, it's not even football. It's like watching a flag football game up at UMD. Nobody lines up normally, there are like six guys in motion, and it's more ballet than anything else. I kept expecting them to bust out the weave. And really, if that's your offense, fine. But when you have the ball inside the five-yard line, just line up like a normal team. Bring in two tight ends and a full back and give the ball to LaMichael James and have him run up the middle. There's a reason why everybody does that on the goal line - because it works. Serves 'em right getting goal line standed. Cut the cute crap. And Auburn wasn't much better, they subscribe to the same theory of offensive retardetry. God damn circus football. AND STAY OFF MY LAWN!!!
2. Baylor Bears. This isn't easy for me, since I've pimped Baylor as a National Title Contender from here to White Castle, but it's looking more and more like Baylor is more pretender than contender. You just don't get rolled by Iowa State if you're a good team - no offense to the Cyclones. Really, look at their results. Who is their best win over? Texas Tech? Oklahoma? Arizona State? Oof. They've lost basically every single game against anybody decent all year. You want to know their problem? Point guard play. Last year they were one of the most efficient offenses in the country, ranking 3rd. This year turnovers are killing them, and they're turning it over on 22.7% of their possessions, 273rd in the country. Who could have known Tweety freaking Carter was so important? Probably not even Tweety Carter's mom.
3. Central Florida Knights. Ok, can we please all settle down about UCF and Mike Jordan's son? There was never any serious doubt that UCF was overrated, and thank god they finally went and proved it this week losing to both Houston and Southern Miss, the former a loss to a non-tournament team and the latter a blow-out by 17. They're still a good team with pretty decent shot at an NCAA bid, but that's all they are and now that they aren't undefeated anymore maybe ESPN can cool their jets a bit. Although with Marcus Jordan, yes Michael's stupid son, leading the team in scoring you can fully expect a disproportionate amount of attention to be paid to UCF. And he's only a sophomore, which means we can expect two more years of this.
4. E'Twaun Moore. Holy geez, guy is trainwrecking all over the place. Purdue went 0-2 this week with losses to the Gophers and West Virginia and since the Boilers are basically a two man team, and JaJuan Johnson is blowing up and could have been in the WHO WAS AWESOME category (averaged 27.5 and 9 in the two games), guess who is killing them right now? In their two games this week he shot 2-14 and 6-18, which takes his shooting in their last four games to a robust 15-57 (26%). Now, he definitely does a ton for them outside of scoring (23 rebounds and 20 assists in those four games) but Purdue can't win without him scoring. They don't have enough pop beyond their two studs to do any damage whatsoever if either of them fail to show, and now Moore has done exactly that four games in a row. To sum up: that's bad.
5. The ACC. God this is sad. The best conference, by far, when I was growing up has now become a conference where you can't even point at a second team and say "that's an NCAA team." Other than Duke, what do you have? North Carolina, who has struggled most of the year but seemed to be finally putting it together lost to lowly Georgia Tech yesterday. Maryland blew a twelve-point second half lead at Villanova and threw away a chance for a non-Duke ACC team to grab a meaningful non-conference win. NC State and Virginia Tech were supposed to be in the mix but have been big disappointments, and Boston College, who was suddenly looking like they were making a run at a bid, just lost to Miami. You know they're going to get 2-3 at large teams in, but at this point it's impossible to pick who the teams will be, outside of Duke. They're looking more like the Pac-10 than the ACC I know and love, and I don't like it.
Happy MLK day, everybody. I hope you all have the day off, as I do. If you don't you kind of suck.
Lastly, I want to call your attention to a new Minnesota themed basketball blog, Rise and Fire, which has already changed names once. They're new, and who knows if they'll stick around or flame out like so many others, but so far I'm picking up where they're putting down. And also they list me as a "great hoops link", so they have great taste. And are probably deranged or not all that bright. Maybe both.