There are no word about the Gophers, or at least nothing more than a throwaway line here and there, in the below post. Mainly because they didn't play this weekend. I ripped off about 1,200 words after the loss to the dirty dirtball Sconnies, and I don't really feel the need to do it again when nothing has changed. Plus there was only one comment left after that post where I poured out my heart and thoughts and so you asshole don't deserve any more. You're lucky I post at all.
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Kentucky Wildcats. I'm now starting to think that worrying about Kentucky being a young team and/or having a less than elite in-game coach doesn't really matter because good god thee guys are just not fair. What did Kentucky do this week? Well, they demolished their top contender in the conference by 20 (Florida, more on them later) and then went into Vandy, a pretty tough place to play, and beat the Commodore, probably the third best team in the conference. They've got unstoppable inside scorers (Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones), three-point shooters (Doron Lamb, Darius Miller), slashers (Jones, Michael Gilchrist), shot blockers (Davis, Jones), and lock down perimeter defenders (Miller, Gilchrist). Their "weak link" is point guard Marquis Teague, and he'd be the best player on 90% of college teams. Just sick. I have no idea how they're going to lose in March.
2. Austin Rivers. He's still got too much of a tendency to go one man show, and when he has the ball on the break you know he's taking the shot 80% of the time, but holy crap was Rivers awesome against North Carolina. 29 points with 6 three-pointers and everyone was big, including the game winner right in Tyler Zeller's stupid face. Reading what some fans of both teams have written and this might be the "best" win by Duke in this rivalry, coming at Chapel Hill versus one of UNC's most talented squads, at least in recent memory. And they basically did it because Austin Rivers' decided to breakout. I think going pro after this season will be best for everyone involved because Rivers game is an NBA game and he's struggled trying to adjust playing within the constraints of a tight system rather than, "go get 40 Austin", but man, he is the real deal.
3. Wichita State Shockers. I don't usually like to talk about the Missouri Valley on account of it sucks so bad, but Wichita's win over Creighton this weekend was truly a thing of beauty. See, at the beginning of the year Wichita was supposed to be this year's MVC darling, a team with a shot to knock off some good squads, have a successful conference season, and roll to an easy at-large bid with a chance to make some noise. Then they lost to both Alabama and Temple in Puerto Rico and everybody was like, meh, while Creighton raced out to a 21-2 start and has everyone's darling Doug McDermott and was like Lindsay Lohan stealing everything Rachel McAdams had. But then Wichita went to Creighton and completely destroyed the Blue Jays and no Creighton has lost three straight while Wichita can put this win with their win over UNLV and good computer numbers and are probably more likely to make it at-large than Creighton. So suck on that, Lohan.
4. St. Louis Billikens. I'm guessing reading about St. Louis doesn't exactly rank in the top 5 of anybody's favorite things to do list, but it' rare you see a team take care of business like they have and have jumped from the lower-mid bubble to near the top of it. The Billikens won on the road this week at both St. Joe's and LaSalle, two teams in contention for the Atlantic 10 crown, and now sit at 8-3, just a half game behind Temple, and that followed up a week where they beat St. Bonaventure and Dayton, two other teams towards the top of the A-10. Their non-conference strength of schedule is awful (213 in the country) but they do have win over Washington, Oklahoma, Boston College, and Villanova - not exactly the 1927 Yankees but a better lineup than the Gophers' can show. And they're trending up. Fully expect Majerus to finally be back in the big dance.
5. Cal Bears. Ye, the Pac-10 is still horrible and yes, there's a good chance it's a one bid conference, but that's exactly what makes a team actually going out and doing something worthwhile notable because nobody ever does it in this league. The Bears went on their road trip through Southern California and won at both USC and UCLA (their RPIs are 228 and 121, but remember it's the Pac-10 so we're on a different curve here). This now brings them to 10-3 and 20-6 overall, and at least getting near the middle of the bubble. Oh, and in case you're wondering Justin Cobbs had 28 point and 10 assists in those two wins. (Also noteworthy: Oregon also was 2-0 this week. Devoe had 29 points and 7 assists.) It's so funny I'm going to stab myself in the ankle with the bayonet I have sitting next to the couch.
1. Florida Gators. Bit of a rough one for the Gators and those who at one point listed the Gators as a sleeper Final Four team. First, on Tuesday, the had a big chance to make a statement going into Lexington to play the #1 Kentucky Wildcats and walked out 20-point losers, and then on Saturday they took a home gimme win vs. Tennessee and somehow ended up losing by five. Actually I shouldn't say somehow, because it's pretty obvious than when a team is as dependent on the three-pointer the way Florida is (6th in the country in % of points coming from behind the line) when the shots aren't falling they're screwed. The Gators 17-56 from behind the arc in those two games, significantly worse than their season mark of nearly 40%. And a special shout-out to Erving Walker and Bradley Beal, who, along with Kenny Boynton, are basically the entire team and were 1-11 from 3 against Kentucky and 2-11 against Tennessee. That reliance on the three makes them both a threat to make a run in March and an early upset candidate. Guess I'm going to have to guess right.
2. William Buford. Buford actually had a pretty good game earlier in the week against Purdue (29 points on 10-17 shooting) which hurt the narrative a bit but he's been absolutely awful lately other than that game, and saved one of his worst for their big loss against Sparty, shooting 2-12 with 3 turnover (to 1 assist) for a grand total of 4 points. Looking back, outside of that game against Purdue the last time Buford shot 50% or better in a game was the first game of 2012, and he's shot 29-104 in those games, and has had 29 turnover versus 21 assists. Ohio State is really good and are absolutely a title contender, but if Buford doesn't get it figured out there's no way they're getting past the sweet 16.
3. Baylor Bears. I still like these guys a lot, but after they lost to both Kansas (at home) and Missouri (on the road) this week it might be time to take a harder look. Because they've now been swept by both those teams, and considering there are only three really good teams in the Big 12 (with apologies to Iowa State) that means that Baylor hasn't had a good win in quite some time. There's no doubt they're still a very good team with the resume to prove it (wins over Kansas State, Miss State, West Virginia, St. Mary's, BYU, and San Diego State), but there are alarm bells ringing all over the place after those two sweeps. Worth noting that Perry Jones scored 5 points against Kansas on 1-8 shooting and 4 points on 2-12 shooting against Missouri, which means he's only broken double digit scoring once in four game against these two teams. I'm going to go ahead and not do anymore research and just assume he's a choker in big games. Join me, won't you?
4. The Grammys. I'm thrilled they chose to award the Foo Fighters with basically every award they were up for, but I can't forgive them for slighting Wiz Khalifa for best rap performance and song. You're seriously going to give the Grammy to Jay-Z and "Mail it in" Kanye for Otis over the masterpiece Black & Yellow from Wiz and give the other one to some collaboration with like six singer/rappers? Joke. I suppose I should just be happy it was nominated, but it should have won, but the politics of not giving a grammy to such a power collaboration probably made this inevitable. The grammys used to mean something and be about the music but, much like when they stopped eating the groundhog in Punxatawney, we live in a sissified society. Shame. Check it:
5. Murray State and Harvard. I'm going to lump these two schools together because they both have an outside chance at an at-large berth, both stumbled this weekend (Murray lost to Tennessee State or Tech I'm not sure but I'm not looking it up and Harvard lost to Princeton), and both should probably do everything they can to win their league. Harvard still looks pretty good with only one Ivy loss, and now that I look apparently Murray State is a lock to get an at-large according to ESPN so maybe I'm stupid. I'm sorry, but how exactly are they a lock? Even at 21-1 their RPI is 57 (Gophers are 54, FYI), Strength of schedule is 292, and non-conference strength of schedule is 132. They only have four wins over the RPI top 150, and the two best are over Memphis and Southern Miss whose RPIs are top 25 but everyone know they suck. One more conference loss and I say ship 'em to the NIT. Plus maybe then I'll get to see them live at Williams' Arena, score!
Oh, and in case you're wondering if you missed him, no, I didn't write about Jeremy Lin because oh my god will you people shut up.