There's a preview of Appalachian State, the Gophers next opponent, at the very bottom of this post. Huzzah!
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Rodney Williams. I've been waiting forever for some positive feelings about Williams, and now I am finally feeling them. He seems like a completely different player at the 4. It's like before he was Mikey in the beginning of Swingers and now he's like Mikey at the end doing the twirly-whirly dance with Heather Graham and hanging up on that manipulative bitch Michelle. Really though, he's always had the tools like the bear - the big fangs and those fucking claws or whatever - and he just didn't know how to kill the bunny. Now he knows how to kill the bunny and dunk right on it's stupid head. Good god, that's the perfect analogy. Sometimes you people who read this should really be sending me money for that kind of insight.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes. Nobody cares that the beat UT-Pan American by 30 even without Sullinger because I mean, come on, it's UT-PA, but that win over Duke earlier this week was like woah. I mean, I did expect the Buckeyes to win and a double-digit win wouldn't shock me, but this was a thoroughly kick their ass from tip to final whistle pick your score kind of game. I was impressed by OSU after they beat Florida in kind of a grind it out game, but they didn't quite have the look of a National Champion in that one. Not so against Duke, where they looked like the most complete team in the country. Really, there's just so much talent here. Take away their two best players (Sully and Buford) and they're still probably a top 10 team. Ridiculous. With Duke and Florida out of the way, only the game at Kansas on Saturday stands in the way of an undefeated non-conference slate. And hell, they win that one they might very well finish the year unbeaten, because they're far and away better than anybody else in the Big 10. Which probably means they'll lose to Northwestern or some such nonsense.
3. Xavier Musketeers. I feel like I talk about Xavier too much but I just really like that program and what they do year after year, and I really really like Tu Holloway (although I liked him better when he went by Terrell). Their win over Purdue at home on Saturday was more of a ho-hum kind of win, not because it's not a quality victory but because it's what they were supposed to do (although falling behind by 19 in the second half and coming back to win probably says some positive things), but add that in with a very nice win at Vanderbilt that included scoring the final 4 points of the game to send it to OT and then scoring the first 12 points of overtime. Xavier is a perennial sweet 16 team, and I've kind of been waiting for that big breakthrough squad to get them into the Final Four. Is this the year? No.
4. Missouri Valley. For some reason I've always disliked the MVC. I don't know why since I like all the other smaller conferences. It's just like a rainbow - nobody can explain why it happens, it just does. With that being said, however, the MVC is looking tough and annoying again like the old days. This past week alone Creighton went to San Diego State and got a tough road win (and they stomped Nebraska) and Wichita State beat UNLV by 20 - yes, the same Rebels who beat North Carolina. Additionally, Northern Iowa has just one loss and Indiana State finished third in the Old Spice Classic. Things fall off in a hurry after those four teams (sorry Drake guy), but at the very least both Creighton and Wichita should be in the hunt for an NCAA bid, while UNI and Ind State can get in the conversation with a strong run through the league. All of which means we'll probably have to hear a bunch of annoying crap about how good the MVC always is. Like this post, which I guess means I'm part of the problem. Talk about self-loathing.
5. Oklahoma State Cowboys. Although part of me feels like I should give Indiana some propers to the Hoosiers for their 8-0 start and tough road win at NC State, I'm going to go with a more wait and see (as in let's see if they can keep it within 20 against Kentucky this weekend) and instead give some props to screwed over Oklahoma State footballers, who stomped the rival Oklahoma Sooners 44-10 in the Big 12 Championship to finish the year at 11-1 and will now have a shot at the National Title against LSU - except not really because the BCS is instead giving everyone a rematch of a game played earlier this year between LSU and Alabama and the Cowboys have to play Stanford in the who cares Bowl instead. So stupid. LSU already beat Alabama, so let's say Bama beats LSU - can they really claim to be the best team? They split. If LSU plays Okla State it's still not as good as a tournament, but still better than a damn rematch. Honestly, the end of the year crap is probably reason #1 that I don't get into college football as much as I do college hoops or baseball. Actually reason #1 is my wife would kill me, but the end of the year stuff is a strong #2.
1. Dayton Flyers. Jesus Christ, Dayton, could you guys fuck things up any further? You're a terrible team and a terrible program with terrible fans and no matter you'll never be more than 2nd class in your own conference, but hey, winning the Old Spice Classic, although not against top tier talent, is still some nice momentum. Then you turn around and lose to Buffalo AT HOME by 30!! And then lose by 20 at Murray State?!?!?!! Instead of fighting for an NCAA bid, this team will be lucky to get an invite to the CIT, and they're who beat the Gophers? This is the shitty shit box team who destroyed Trevor Mbakwe's career and the hopes and dreams of all the children of the world? Is there any doubt that Dayton = satan? It even rhymes! If I go to Chicago again for the NCAA Tournament I'm burning that Dayton bar to the ground. After I have their tasty wings of course.
2. Washington Huskies. Pretty sad considering how much I love the brand of circus ball the Huskies play, but it's becoming clear this just isn't a very good team this year. Well I suppose I could be overreacting because they are 4-2, but they've only had two opponents who even resemble good teams and they lost to them both - St. Louis a week or so ago and Nevada this weekend. I suppose it's awfully difficult to replace Captain Circus Ball (Isaiah Thomas) and then keep playing the same kind of circus ball, especially when one of your new main ball handlers is a freshman (Tony Wroten, currently averaging 4.5 turnovers per game) and the other is still trying to work his way all the way back from an ACL tear (Abdul Gaddy). But the good news is they still play stupid fast and the Pac-10 is awful so they'll probably be back in the NCAA Tournament to thrill us with a couple games that go 190+ combined. Don't expect too much though, there's little chance they survive the first weekend. No matter how much I want them to.
4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Why, oh why, does Georgia Tech always suck so bad? I have such fond memories of Lethal Weapon 3 (the original - Anderson, Oliver, Scott - not the stupid imitation shitty South Carolina group who tried to steal the nickname) that I still have some leftover fandom for the Jackets, but they're just terrible this year - again. They're 4-4 and we aren't even at conference play yet, and the losses are against St. Joe's (bad), LSU (terrible), Northwestern (ok), and Tulane (bad). If it wasn't for that win over VCU in the Charleston Classic, they'd be in the running for worst BCS Conference team in the country. I mean not only did they lose to Tulane, but they were actually the underdogs. Embarrassing. Freshmen Julian Royal, sophomore Jason Morris, and juniors Mfon Udofia, Glen Rice, and Kammeon Holsey are all top 100 types of recruits. Talent - yes. Experience - yes. Results - emphatically no. This would be why what's his face got fired.
5. Houston Cougars. It's like something out of a book or a movie, isn't it? Lightly recruited QB out of high school goes to to his hometown school, the only D-I program to even offer him a scholarship. After redshirting his first year, he's in a big QB competition his second year which he finally wins towards the end of the year, and then dominates his sophomore year, winning the Conference Player of the Year. After another great season, he goes into his senior year with a chance to break all kinds of NCAA records, but ends up tearing his ACL. After being granted a sixth year by the NCAA, he breaks those records and goes on to lead his undermanned team to a an undefeated season by directing the top scoring offense in the nation, and puts his team in a position to make a BCS Bowl for the first time I assume. All that stands in their way is the Conference USA Championship Game at Southern Miss, so the QB takes his heavily favored squad up against the Golden Eagles and THEY GET FUCKING LIT UP like the Vikings in an NFC Championship Game. Seriously, Houston got destroyed and scored the fewest points they have all year. Nice job, Keenum. Enjoy the CFL.
So anyway the Gophers play Appalachian State Tuesday night and yawn. App State is actually supposed to be one of the best teams in the Southern Conference, but unfortunately this isn't the same SoCon from back when Davidson was Tournament Killer and Charleston was upsetting people all over the place, and the rest of the conference has become cupcake city. In fact, the SoCon ranks as one of the handful of worst conference in America according to kenpom.com (23rd out of 32), and its best win outside of those two schools is Elon's upset of a terrible South Carolina team.
So yeah, a mid-tier team from a low tier conference. Great. The Mountaineers are 4-3 this year, but two of those wins are over non-D1 schools and the other two were versus Tennessee Tech and Greensboro. Also the best team they've played this year is East Carolina who is awful and they beat Appalachian State by 20. The only exciting part about the game, other than watching the Gophers of course, is that the Mountaineers do have preseason SoCon Player of the Year candidate Omar Carter, a senior guard whose scoring average so far this year would be his career low since he suddenly can't shoot anymore. Although he has gone 15-26 shooting the past two games, so maybe he's on his way back. I could go on and describe several other decent players, but who cares? Cupcake city, baby.
Gophers 80, Mountaineers 53
Also I had a whole conversation with Bear about the Gophers and how good "Rodney White" has looked recently and he didn't realize until he sent me an email this morning that he had the name wrong lololololol.