Tag:Vanderbilt
Posted on: January 12, 2012 8:17 am
 

Vanderbilt, Ezeli getting close to full strength

By Jeff Goodman

They have become the Forgotten Team. More so than Xavier, than Memphis, more than their SEC counterparts from Gainesville. 

The Vanderbilt Commodores. 

Kevin Stallings' team slipped up early and often, losing to a pair of mid-majors in Cleveland State and Indiana State as well as Xavier and Louisville. 

Everyone wrote off the team that began the season ranked seventh overall. 

I figured the time to judge this Commodores team would be after the New Year, but that's when Festus Ezeli figured to be back at 100 percent. That wasn't the case. 

Ezeli's left knee injury, a sprained MCL and PCL, had healed. Ezeli appeared to on his way back when he made his season debut with 15 points and six boards in 21 minutes against Davidson on Dec. 7. Then his other knee, the one that underwent surgery back in the offseason due to tendinitis, began feeling sore. 

Ezeli sat out games against Longwood and Lafayette before returning in Vandy's smackdown of Marquette in Milwaukee. 

Ezeli has logged limited minutes in the past four games and has averaged just four points and six boards per game, but his impact is clearly noticeable on the defensive end. Teams are shooting just 37 percent overall and 31 percent from beyond the arc in the last four games -- all Vandy victories. 

This team, one that most refer to as soft, went on the road and kicked the you-know-what out of a Marquette team that has become synonymous with the word "tough." 

Vanderbilt still isn't worthy of judgment quite yet. Ezeli is still working his way back -- both physically and mentally. Defensively, he's fairly close. Offensively, it's going to take more time. 

But just having Ezeli on the court, clogging the middle and being a threat in the post, the trio of John Jenkins, Jeff Taylor and Brad Tinsley has made 35-of-64 3-pointers -- 55 percent. 

Stallings said he's optimistic that Ezeli should be back at 100 percent in the next couple of weeks. 

Then we can begin to truly evaluate Vandy. 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 10, 2012 1:04 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 4:58 pm
 

How four teams went from the top 10 to unranked



By Gary Parrish


There are four schools -- Connecticut, Vanderbilt, Memphis and Pittsburgh -- that were ranked in the top 10 of our preseason Top 25 (and one) that are unranked in the latest Top 25 (and one). What went wrong? Can things be fixed? I spent part of this morning addressing those questions and more.

CONNECTICUT

Where were the Huskies ranked in the preseason Top 25 (and one)? No. 3

And now? Unranked in the Top 25 (and one) with a 13-3 record.

What went wrong? The Huskies relied so heavily on Kemba Walker last season that it was foolish to think they wouldn't struggle on some level to adjust. They were baffled by UCF's zone in November, blew a big lead and lost. Then came last week's back-to-back losses at Seton Hall and Rutgers that dropped them out of the Top 25 (and one) while point guard Shabazz Napier expressed frustration with his teammates. "I try my best to be a leader even though guys don’t give me a chance to be that person," Napier told the New Haven Register. "It shows in the game, I can’t lie. When we have a tipped ball and big guys get the ball and I’m yelling for the ball back out, we’ve got a new shot clock and they go back up … that shows I’m not that much of a leader. When a play starts breaking down and I’m yelling, ‘Bring it out, bring it out,’ and Boat [Ryan Boatright] or Jeremy [Lamb] takes a shot, that just shows that I’m not a leader. It sucks, because we lose games like that."

Who's been the biggest disappointment? Alex Oriakhi is nothing more than a role player this season. He averaged 10 points and nine rebounds in 29 minutes per game last season. He's averaging seven points and five rebounds in 19 minutes per game this season.
 
Can things be fixed? Of course. The roster is still loaded and capable of anything considering there are two likely lottery picks (Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond) on it. Plus, the Huskies beat West Virginia on Monday while you were watching LSU not move the ball. Long as they win Saturday at Notre Dame, they'll be back in the Top 25 (and one) on Sunday night, 4-2 in the Big East and on their way to a better league record than they recorded last season when they subsequently won the NCAA tournament.

VANDERBILT

Where were the Commodores ranked in the preseason Top 25 (and one)? No. 7

And now? Unranked in the Top 25 (and one) with an 11-4 record.

What went wrong? Festus Ezeli suffered a knee injury in the preseason. He's only played five games to date and hasn't played more than 22 minutes in any of them, meaning the Commodores have basically played the season without the services of their best rebounder and shotblocker. Three of their four losses have come with Ezeli in street clothes.

Who's been the biggest disappointment? Brad Tinsley's points and assists are slightly down, and his turnovers are slightly up. It's not that he's regressed, exactly, because he hasn't it. But there's not a lot of improvement from last year to this year, either.

Can things be fixed? Yes, I think so, because I believe a core of John Jenkins, Jeff Taylor and (a healthy) Festus Ezeli is good enough to finish in the top four of the SEC and make a run in the NCAA tournament. Obviously, the Commodores will have their critics until they can quiet them in March. But they've won five straight games and seem to be playing better.

MEMPHIS

Where were the Tigers ranked in the preseason Top 25 (and one)? No. 9

And now? Unranked in the Top 25 (and one) with a 10-5 record.

What went wrong? Josh Pastner scheduled aggressively and it backfired. The Tigers have had five opportunities to record a significant victory and fallen short each time. That -- along with inconsistent play at point guard and in the paint -- is why Memphis is no longer in the Top 25 (and one) or even getting votes in the AP or Coaches poll.

Who's been the biggest disappointment? Tarik Black was CBSSports.com's preseason Conference USA Player of the Year, but he wouldn't even make third-team all-conference if teams were selected today. The 6-foot-8 sophomore is merely averaging the same 9.1 points per game he averaged last season, and his rebounding numbers are actually down. He's only got 62 rebounds all season. He has 53 personal fouls.

Can things be fixed? Because of Conference USA, yes. The Tigers would be at risk of missing the NCAA tournament if they were starting a Big Ten or Big East schedule, but C-USA offers so few challenges. They're just going to physically overwhelm most of their opponents from here on out and probably get to 25 or 26 wins by Selection Sunday. Then it'll be up to Will Barton to carry them in the NCAA tournament. He's good enough to do it.

PITTSBURGH

Where were the Panthers ranked in the preseason Top 25 (and one)? No. 8

And now? Unranked in the Top 25 (and one) with an 11-5 record.

What went wrong? First came the loss to Long Beach State and most of us just kinda thought it was "one of those nights." But it wasn't. It was, rather, a sign of things to come because the Panthers now have five losses to unranked teams. They're surprisingly terrible defensively, and they don't get to the line enough offensively. It has been, simply put, a mess of a season made worse because the best recruit (Khem Birch) transferred out of the program at the semester.

Who's been the biggest disappointment? Ashton Gibbs is averaging the same 17 points per game he averaged last season, but he's shooting the ball way worse. The senior guard shot 47 percent from the field and 49 percent from 3-point range last season. This season he's shooting 39 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.

Can things be fixed? Honestly, I doubt it. Upcoming road games at Marquette and Syracuse mean the Panthers will probably be 1-5 in the Big East heading into a Jan. 21 game against Louisville, and you just can't recover from that in this league. Barring a huge surprise, Jamie Dixon is headed for his first NIT.

Photos: US Presswire
Posted on: January 3, 2012 1:22 am
 

Night Court: UVA reps for hoops on Bowl Monday



By
Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Monday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: Alright, so we didn’t have anything that matched Oregon vs. Wisconsin or Oklahoma State vs. Stanford, but Virginia holding off LSU down the stretch wasn’t too bad. The Cavaliers needed two late free throws from Mike Scott to get the 57-52 win over a Tigers team that had defeated Marquette and was on a seven-game winning streak. Virginia improved to 13-1 on the season; Monday night’s win was its 11th in a row.

Win to brag about: Despite turning the ball over 31 times, Robert Morris went into Ohio and knocked off the Bobcats, 70-67. Ohio had won nine in a row heading into the game, including wins at Marshall and Northern Iowa. The Bobcats’ only previous loss had been to Louisville. The Northeast Conference should be very competitive at the top this season, but Andy Toole’s Colonials might be the favorite.

Loss to hide from: Wake Forest was without leading scorer C.J. Harris, but that’s no excuse for losing 56-52 at home to Wofford. The Terriers had lost four starters from last season and already had losses to High Points and UMKC this season. Travis McKie had 25 points and six rebounds for Wake Forest, but Wofford’s Brad Loesing countered with 17 points – and a win.

Player who deserves improper benefits: Auburn’s Kenny Gabriel went for the first triple-double in school history in a 67-41 win over Bethune-Cookman. The senior forward had 24 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks. Gabriel shot 11-for-13 from the field and also pitched in with three assists and four steals for good measure.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: In order to beat No. 5 Baylor on the road on Monday night, Texas A&M needed all the offense it could get. Instead, leading scorer Khris Middleton shot just 4-for-17 from the field and also turned it over four times en route to a 61-52 loss. The team as a whole shot below 29 percent from the field and scored just 17 points in the first half, but Middleton’s struggles set the tone. Perry Jones’ 14 points and 12 rebounds paced Baylor.

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 16.4: That’s how many points per game Jamal Wilson was averaging before Rhode Island kicked him off the team. The Rams are 2-0 since dismissing him, including a double-overtime win at Boston College on Monday.
  • 10: Georgia State has now won a school-record 10 straight games after beating Drexel by 14 on Monday. The Panthers are one of the biggest surprises in the CAA.
  • 12: That’s how many consecutive points Miami’s Shane Larkin scored against UNC-Greensboro. And he did it in 1:27. The Hurricanes won, 99-89, behind 30 points and 12 boards from Kenny Kadji. Trevis Simpson had 36 for UNCG. 

Three other notable results:

  1. VCU further showed why it is the CAA favorite heading into the final two months, beating Hofstra on the road, 80-63.
  2. Long Beach State kicked off Big West play with a 74-60 win over UC-Irvine. The 49ers can’t afford more than one or two losses if they harbor even remote at-large hopes.
  3. Vanderbilt made just two of its first 14 shots, but the Commodores bounced back to beat Miami (Ohio), 69-62. 

Notes:

  • UC Santa Barbara’s Orlando Johnson hit a 3-pointer with five seconds left to give the Gauchos a 58-57 win over Cal Poly. UCSB head coach Bob Williams is now the winningest coach in school history.
  • Vermont and Stony Brook could be the two best teams in the America East. On Monday, Stony Brook landed the first punch, knocking off the Catamounts.
  • In other America East action, Gerardo Suero had 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Albany in its win over Hartford.
  • VMI’s Stan Okoye had one of the best all-around lines of the night: 25 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, three blocks, four steals.
  • Campbell stayed undefeated in the Big South, beating previously-unbeaten Coastal Carolina in overtime, 70-65. The Chanticleers didn’t hit a field goal in the extra session.
  • Keith Rendleman racked up 24 points and 18 rebounds to lead UNC-Wilmington to a win over Delaware. The two teams combined for just two turnovers in the second half.

On tap: The competition picks up a little bit on Tuesday. The game of the night features Michigan State putting its 13-game winning streak on the line at Wisconsin. Two of the best big men in the Big East will battle when Seton Hall’s Herb Pope takes on Connecticut’s Andre Drummond. I will be in attendance for that one. Missouri also puts its undefeated record to the rest against Oklahoma in the Big 12 opener.

Photo: AP

Posted on: December 29, 2011 4:19 pm
 

It's a big night for some disappointing teams

By Gary Parrish

There are exactly 10 schools that were ranked in the preseason AP poll that are no longer ranked.

The schools are:
  • No. 7 Vanderbilt
  • No. 11 Memphis
  • No. 14 Xavier
  • No. 16 Arizona
  • No. 17 UCLA
  • No. 19 Alabama
  • No. 20 Texas A&M
  • No. 21 Cincinnati
  • No. 23 Gonzaga
  • No. 24California

Those schools have gone from ranked to unranked for a variety of reasons -- injuries, suspensions, dismissals, fights, overscheduling, etc., -- but the fact remains that on Nov. 7 those 10 teams were ranked and on Dec. 29th they are not. And I just realized that six of those 10 play tonight.

So let's call Thursday Night of the Underachievers.

Here's the list of games:

  • Vanderbilt at Marquette
  • Robert Morris at Memphis
  • Arkansas Tech at Texas A&M
  • USC at California
  • Jacksonville at Alabama
  • Oklahoma at Cincinnati

Can Vandy avoid its fifth loss by getting a marquee win?

Can Memphis stay undefeated against unranked opponents?

Can Cincinnati keep winning with four guards and without Yancy Gates?

Will any of these schools prove good enough to enter the Top 25 again this season?

The answers to those questions (in my opinion) are probably not, probably so, probably so and almost certainly yes. But either way, this is a big night for six schools that've gone from ranked to unranked in a span of seven weeks. So wish them luck. Because, to date, they haven't had much.

Posted on: December 9, 2011 9:05 am
 

Podcast: Let's break out the Pom Poms for Ken Pom

By Matt Norlander

Ken Pomeroy houses the stat sanctuary that is kenpom.com. It's become a go-to place for fans and writers and coaches alike, yet plenty of folk still want to resist getting smarter/well-informed about the game we love. 

Pomeroy makes his second podcast appearance to discuss how much information and interpretation from the data can and should be gleaned after one month of the season has passed us by. There are trends to take note of, but where should the line be drawn? Among other topics: unabashedly bashing Jeff Goodman, who is not yet a big believer in KenPom stats, and looking at just how historically bad Utah is this year. For a major-conference team, they are off to a start we've seldom seen before.

If you'd like to know why the Big Ten is the best conference so far, that's included as well. Get smarter, get to understand the game better and see why tempo-free isn't that daunting. No calculators required.

The counting begins:
  • From the beginning: We needlessly explain the process to Goodman, who I know will take the time to listen to this.
  • 2:42: So, we're more than a month into the season. How much can we take from the stats we have right now? And there's a key component to remember when look at this year's stats, too -- previous years' trends.
  • 8:31: Do tempo-free stats and trends lend themselves well to predicting outcomes?
  • 12:16: What are the most "important" stats to be tracking in this new era? Some are more indicative than others.
  • 15:07: We move on to talking actual teams, actual action and on-court stuff. First to be address: Utah, which is having a miserable start to its season.
  • 20:33: Vanderbilt must be discussed again, this time because Pomeroy and I differ on how good this team ultimately is.
  • 24:56: Why the Big Ten is definitively the best league in college basketball.
  • 28:42: Why Henry Sims is playing amongst the best hoop in the nation right now. ALERT: GOODMAN LIKELY BREAKING HIS COMPUTER BY THIS POINT.
  • 30:23: Podcast ends with some answers from listeners' questions.

You can listen to the CBSSports.com College Basketball Podcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The podcasts go up here and on iTunes. The Wednesday show is dedicated to keeping the egos of CBSSports.com national writers Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish inflated. Mondays and Fridays are for the real people to come on. Here's the iTunes link. We also have an RSS feed for you to track. If you're still going strong and hanging on to a Zune, then, yes, you can listen on that as well.

Posted on: December 1, 2011 12:00 pm
 

Your SEC/Big East Challenge guide



By Matt Norlander


What do you want in a preview? I've been self-assigned (is that even possible?) to give you the rundown on all of the SEC and Big East games coming up over the next 72 hours, and I wasn't quite sure where to go with this. After all, these are early-December games, half of them are afterthoughts, and preview material is usually come-and-go outside of preseason and NCAA tournament talk.

So I looked at the games and decided I'll just give you whatever random thought comes off the top of my head. A conversational tone works best here, since there are no real true tilts of consequence involved outside of the fantastic ones going on Friday night Louisville and Syracuse. (I'll be at the latter.) If there's a stat sited, I do not have it memorized. Those I looked up. I'm not huge on predictions, so you won't find those here.

All this said, I do expect these 12 games to be better than what the ACC and Big Ten gave us Tuesday and Wednesday night, by the way. If you have any other curiosities that go beyond this post, check our SEC/Big East Challenge page, which has the history of this event and stats that go along with it.

Thursday

Providence at South Carolina (7 ET): Oh this is just bad. Providence is a few years away from true relevancy, and Darrin Horn is already coaching for his job at South Carolina. NEXT.

St. John's at Kentucky (7:30 ET): Wildcats get the Johnnies tonight, less than 48 hours before Carolina comes in. I'd say St. John's would have a chance, except they're playing Kentucky. Kind of a problem. SJU doesn't have one senior on its roster and head coach Steve Lavin will not be making the trip. Kentucky will be looking ahead to UNC, but the 'Cats should win by a minimum of 23.4 points.

Ole Miss at DePaul (9 ET): Have a sick interest in this game if for no other reason than I want to know how many people show up to watch it. Have to say, the fact these teams are a combined 9-2 is a welcomed surprise.

Georgetown at Alabama (9:30 ET): Best game of the night, period. Are you sure what Georgetown is yet? We do know the Hoyas take care of the ball very well. That early trend could be bucked in Tuscaloosa, though, because Alabama is on its way to being a top-five defensive team in the country. Teams are shooting a 35.7 effective field goal percentage against the Tide. Second-worst in the country.

Friday

Florida at Syracuse (7 ET): I'll keep this strictly to basketball, because I'm not sure how much I'll be able to do that one I get there to cover the game. Basically, I'm intrigued as hell. I love Bradley Beal's (right, with Billy Donovan) game. I'm still not sold on Florida's four-guard look, even if Patric Young gets his chances to play janitor when that happens. No Erik Murphy for the Gators means they're less dynamic. I like Syracuse is a really fun one. With the Orange, you're just never sure who's going to be the player that has the big game. Looks like someone's going to need to decidedly have a huge night to beat a team a lot of people like to make the Final Four.

Cincinnati at Georgia (7 ET): Car-wreck factor has be interested. When will Cinci start playing at a level that's indicative of the talent it has on this team? Georgia's in a third-gear year, I think.

Vanderbilt at Louisville (9 ET): What do you think about this one? Vanderbilt certainly not expected to win it (I haven't checked, but I'd put the Cards at about -4.5 here). Louisville's still not at full strength, nor is Vandy. Goodman's going to be at this game. I think this one adds up to little, even if it's nice in the moment. Because come late February, both these teams will have personnel on the floor that didn't play in this game. If Vandy/'Ville are vying for the 3-seed line and you want to give the winner of this the bid, by all means, but beyond that there won't be much long-term effect from this game. I think John Jenkins struggles in this one, too.

Auburn at Seton Hall (9 ET): Oh, get it out of my face, please.

Saturday

Arkansas at UConn (3:15 ET): The Hogs are without Marshon Powell and so I don't see how Mike Anderson's new team keeps this within 20. UConn's due for a really impressive, really big win. I want to see how Alex Oriakhi plays in front of the home crowd in Hartford. Oriakhi's been public with this playing-time situation. UConn will grow and stumble a little more in December, but I'm betting we're putting this team in the highest echelon by New Year's Day.

Pittsburgh at Tennessee (5:15 ET): I'd call this game the biggest true toss-up of any listed here. I'm down on Pitt this year in regard to most others. A win here would be very uplifting for Jamie Dixon's team. Same can be said for Cuonzo Martin at Tennessee, who's probably still punching the pillow after his Vols couldn't steal that game against Memphis in Maui.

LSU at Rutgers (7 ET): Just a couple of truly nondescript, non-enthralling 4-3 BCS conference teams. I think I'd rather put away my summer clothes into storage.

West Virginia at Mississippi State (9 ET): The final game of the Challenge, it's the kind of game MSU should win without controversy if it wants to be top-20 caliber. WVU is down, considerably down, this season. The Bulldogs have twice as much talent on this team -- and a lot more size, even if Denis Kilicli will bruise it up down low with Renardo Sidney and/or Arnett Moultrie. The flip side: Huggins has been known to get his team to steal wins in these kind of spots.

Photos: AP
Posted on: November 19, 2011 10:23 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 10:32 pm
 

Stallings feisty when it comes to talking Festus



By Matt Norlander

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If you don’t think Vanderbilt is a top-15 team right now, then you’ve got company: ‘Dores head coach Kevin Stallings.

“Of course we’re not,” Stallings said. “Take a first-round draft choice off of any top of the top 10 teams in the country and see if they’re a top team then. And it’s not like we profess to be.”

Kentucky and North Carolina aside, the man seems to have a point. Still, plenty of talented teams without a premier player can — and are usually inspired to — play better defense.

Vandy got an 86-79 win Saturday night the Legends Classic over N.C. State, but it came primarily because John Jenkins did what he does: shoot the dimples out of the ball (28 points — on a bad ankle) and bail out his team after some bad defense kept the game closer than it should have.

And that’s the issue: Vandy’s defense. It’s not good, not even bad right now — it’s alarmingly deficient. The team is allowing opponents to clear 50 percent shooting from 2-point range with ease through four games. What's more, the interior, as you might expect, lacks intimidation. Without Festus Ezeli — the NBA-talent big man who’s about a month away from returning — the Commodores don't have the inside presence and semblance of self on the defensive end that Stallings, frankly, is mad as hell over.

He was just as perturbed by the Ezeli issue, because the team can’t do anything about that right now. It’s playing without its big man, and it’s got to do more than tread water without him.

“[Festus] ain’t going to be here Monday, he’s not going to play next Friday or the following Monday or the following Friday,” Stallings said. “If they’re sitting around waiting for Festus, we’ve got problems.”

The Festus talk didn’t stop there. His name got dropped about 30 times in a five-minute span.

“We’re foolish if we sit around and wait for him to show,” Stallings said. “We don’t have Festus. We’re not going to bitch and complain, and we don’t have this, we don’t have that. We have what we have. And we have to play better defensively. We’re a pretty good offensive team, but we suck on defense.

“So, until we get better defense, it doesn’t matter who we put other there. But we better get help before that, or we’re going to have a bunch of numbers in that right hand column (the loss column, obviously) we’re not very excited about. We’ve got a long way to go before we’re going to be a good team.”

N.C. State got C.J. Leslie back for the first game this season — he sat out per an NCAA suspension — and looked great. The Wolfpack moved about the floor and passed over Vandy’s D at will.  

“We had way too many turnovers that led to unguardable baskets,” Stallings said.

It got the point where Stallings joked he was “looking for any reason to give my defense credit.”

Vandy, in a way, got away with this one due to Jenkins’ awesome shooting and some helpful play by Brad Tinsley, who put up 14 points that came in spots when the ‘Dores needed it. It should be added: Steve Tchiengang got 11 boards, which was the second-most critical aspect to Stallings’ team avoiding the consolation game Monday night.

“We didn’t rob the bank, because we got to the foul line 33 times,” Stallings said. “We did some good things, and we’ve got good players, but we, like we do a lot, we just let people get their head up, get in a comfort zone and as soon as somebody becomes confident, it becomes a lot harder to guard them. When Jenkins got going tonight, he became a lot harder for them to defend.”

What I came away believing: Without Ezeli, Vanderbilt’s not elite. This won’t mean much in January if the team’s healthy, but unless all the pieces are on the floor, Vanderbilt may not even be the third-best team in the SEC. Plenty of people think we and others have overrated Vandy, that this team isn't high-caliber and most likely won't ever become a group it's never proven itself to be. Fair critique. Tonight, that shined true, but without Ezeli, the critique remains out to lunch.

Photo: AP
Posted on: November 14, 2011 3:22 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 3:30 pm
 

The Poll Attacks

By Gary Parrish

NEW YORK -- I'm in Manhattan for Tuesday night's Champions Classic.

But I've still got time for the Poll Attacks.

Here we go ...

Associated Press poll: The first thing I did when the AP poll was released was go straight to Scott Wolf's ballot because the Los Angeles Daily News writer was the focus of the preseason Poll Attacks, and I wanted to see if he learned anything over the past few weeks.

He did not.

Scott still has Kansas ranked third and ahead of North Carolina even though Bill Self called him "nuts" for doing it, and he still has Arizona ranked sixth even though the Wildcats have lost an exhibition and looked average in their first three games, and even though Josiah Turner has been wildly immature and ineffective. Sean Miller actually benched the freshman point guard for Sunday's game against Ball State. And yet Scott still has this team ranked sixth -- one spot ahead of Ohio State and six spots ahead of Syracuse.

It's senseless.

I tried to help him.

But I just can't get through.

Maybe next week.

Another wild ballot belongs to The State's Ron Morris.

He has Michigan State ranked sixth and Vanderbilt ranked eighth and, my God, that's inexplicable. I mean, nobody loves Tom Izzo more than me -- he's my traveling buddy, remember -- and I still believe in Vanderbilt despite Sunday's loss. But Izzo's team is young and probably not even one of the nation's top 20 teams right now, and Vanderbilt's loss to Cleveland State has to be considered. Neither school should be anywhere close to the top 10 right now. That's why Jeff Goodman and I have Vanderbilt ranked 19th and Michigan State unranked.

Another school we have unranked: UCLA.

But Ron has the Bruins ranked 18th.

I'll explain why that's silly in the coaches poll section of the Poll Attacks.

Coaches poll: Last week was the first week of the regular season, and I realize the 31 men who vote in the coaches poll were busy. Hell, I was busy. But I wasn't too busy to realize UCLA lost a home game to unranked Loyola-Marymount.

That's why the Bruins are no longer in the CBSSports.com Top 25 (and one).

Makes sense, right?

What makes no sense is that UCLA still got 10 points in the coaches poll.

Maybe, just maybe, putting the Bruins on a ballot could be justified if they lost at the buzzer to a quality and underrated team. But that's not what happened Friday night in Los Angeles. UCLA never led in the second half and fans started leaving with five minutes remaining. The final score was 69-58. And hurting UCLA's cause even more is the fact that Loyola-Marymount backed its big win with a 58-51 loss to Middle Tennessee State, meaning the team that beat UCLA by 11 on Friday lost to MTSU by seven on Sunday.

And yet the Bruins still got 10 points.

That speaks to the brand of UCLA.

Or, more likely, how silly some coach (or two) -- plus Ron Morris -- is somewhere.

Photo: US PRESSWIRE
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com