Posted on: January 31, 2010 3:17 am
Edited on: January 31, 2010 3:26 am
No need to wait till Sunday night.
I can tell you now that I'll have Kansas No. 1.
The reason is because the Jayhawks are 20-1 with two huge road wins (at No. 11 Kansas State and at No. 15 Temple), and the lone loss came in the final minute at No. 14 Tennessee. Syracuse (21-1) has also registered good wins (over No. 7 Georgetown at home, at No. 9 West Virginia, at Seton Hall, over Florida on a neutral court), but the loss is a double-digit home loss to No. 17 Pittsburgh. Like Kansas and Syracuse, Villanova (19-1) has two wins against ranked opponents (over No. 7 Georgetown at home and over No. 18 Ole Miss on a neutral court), too. But the lone loss is a double-digit loss to a Temple team Kansas beat by 32, and so I think KU deserves the nod.
Thus, I'm ranking Kansas first.
I'll put Syracuse and Villanova second and third in some order.
Then ... who knows?
Posted on: January 27, 2010 11:21 am
Edited on: January 27, 2010 11:39 am
Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: You know that no matter who you have at the No. 1 spot next week, you will hear it from the fan bases of the other one-loss teams.
The best thing that could happen (in the spirit of simplicity) is for Kansas to win Saturday at Kansas State. That would push the Jayhawks to 20-1 with road wins over No. 11 Kansas State and No. 15 Temple, and the lone loss would be a close loss at No. 14 Tennessee. That's strong -- slightly stronger, I think, than Syracuse and Villanova. Syracuse, barring a slip-up at DePaul, will be 21-1 with a home win over No. 7 Georgetown, a road win over No. 9 West Virginia, and a lone loss by double-digits at home to No. 17 Pitt. Meantime, Villanova, barring a loss to Notre Dame, will be 19-1 with a home win over No. 7 Georgetown, a neutral-site win over No. 18 Ole Miss, and a lone loss by double-digits at No. 15 Temple.
(NOTE: Even if Kentucky beats Vanderbilt this weekend to improve to 20-1, I don't think the Wildcats can match the bodies of work of Kansas, Syracuse and Villanova. They would have wins over No. 19 UConn and No. 21 Vandy, but the lone loss would be at unranked South Carolina. So Kansas, Syracuse and Villanova would have better wins and a better first loss, which is why I'll be picking between Kansas, Syracuse and Villanova as long as none of those schools lose between now and Sunday night. And, no, this does not mean I'm giving up on Kentucky. I'll pick the Wildcats to win the national title when the time comes. But at this point of the season, I try to rank by putting a lot of emphasis on bodies of work, and I don't think UK's body of work is going to measure up Sunday night. Anyway ...)
So if Kansas wins, Kansas should be No. 1.
If not, we'll see.
But here's a more important question: Does anybody want this stupid No. 1 ranking?
The AP's top-ranked team has, after all, lost its past three games. First No. 1 Texas lost to Kansas State, then No. 1 Texas lost to UConn, then No. 1 Kentucky lost to South Carolina. If the Wildcats lose to Vanderbilt, that'll be four straight losses for the nation's top-ranked team. That could be some sort of record, but I can't say for sure. Either way, the good news is that if KU moves to No. 1, its first game as the top-ranked team will be against Colorado, and I'm not even sure a phone call from President Obama could jinx Kansas into losing to Colorado.
Posted on: January 21, 2010 1:39 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2010 1:40 pm
Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: Where would Scottie Reynolds fit into the Player of the Year race right now?
He's eighth in the media poll conducted this week by Michael Rothstein at AnnArbor.com, and I think that's too low. As I wrote yesterday , my top three (in order) would be John Wall, Evan Turner and Damion James, but I think third could be debated. To me, you're wrong if you don't have Wall and Turner in the top two, but third could reasonably be James, Wesley Johnson, Jon Scheyer, Sherron Collins or Scottie Reynolds, and I'd probably have Reynolds fourth or fifth.
He's averaging 18.7 points and 3.4 assists for a team ranked fourth.
He's made several huge plays to win games or secure wins.
He's been terrific.
Posted on: January 11, 2010 8:01 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2010 8:12 pm
Purdue slipped from fourth to sixth in the latest rankings.
But don't worry, Boilermaker fans, I've got your back.
(Seriously, I've got your back on this.)
Let's Poll Attack!
AP poll: I learned my lesson about constantly picking on one voter when I focused three weeks of Poll Attacks on Roger Clarkson's decision to rank Pitt. As you know, Pitt has since proved to be awesome. Which made me look stupid (even though I was right at the time I was filing the Poll Attacks , but I digress). Anyway, I subsequently decided to spread the Poll Attacks around, be an equal opportunity basher of AP voters. And I'm telling you that because I know this is going to look like I'm targeting Gary Horowitz from Oregon again, but that really wasn't my intent.
Honest to God, all I did was look at the AP poll.
I saw somebody ranked Florida.
And I said, "Who the %$&# ranked Florida?"
Naturally, I looked.
And when I saw it was Gary Horowitz, I just shook my head.
Yes, the same guy who ranked Oregon last week ranked Florida this week, and this one might actually make less sense. Florida is 11-4 with two good wins (Michigan State on a neutral and Florida State at home), one reasonable loss (Syracuse on a neutral), one somewhat reasonable loss (at Vanderbilt), and two terrible losses (Richmond on a neutral and South Alabama at home). Beyond that, the Gators needed a 75-foot shot to beat N.C. State, and the loss to Vanderbilt just happened. So I'm not sure how that body of work is worthy of a Top 25 vote.
Is Florida terrible?
But there are plenty of teams not on Horowitz's ballot that should be considered before Florida.
Like Vanderbilt, for starters.
That said, I won't be surprised if Florida beats Kentucky Tuesday night.
Please, make note of that.
But that's Tuesday night, and this is Monday.
And it's difficult to justify ranking Florida on this Monday with that body of work.
(UPDATE: The worst part of this, I just noticed, is that Horowitz didn't rank Florida last week. So when the Gators were 11-3, he had them unranked. But when they dropped to 11-4 with a loss at Vanderbilt, he decided to rank them 24th. Again, Florida entered his ballot after a loss at Vanderbilt, and nothing else. Yes, that really happened. Yes, this is why I do the Poll Attacks .)
Coaches poll: I might never know how I got so crossed with Purdue fans, and I'm not sure they're ever going to understand me any more than I understand them on the subject of whether Purdue has the roster necessary to win a national title. At this point, I'm fine with agreeing to disagree because, honestly, I'm just tired.
But before I take a nap please allow me to -- ready for this? -- defend Purdue.
(Come back to me, Boilermaker fans!)
No way should Purdue have dropped from fourth to sixth in the Coaches poll for losing at Wisconsin.
Almost everybody loses at Wisconsin.
So why should the Boilermakers be punished for not winning at a place nearly everybody loses, particularly when you look at their entire body of work? To date, Purdue has wins over No. 9 West Virginia, No. 10 Tennessee, Wake Forest (receiving votes) and Minnesota (receiving votes). You know how many wins over Top 10 teams Villanova has? Zero. You know how many wins over Top 10 teams Syracuse has? Zero. And Villanova's one loss (at Temple) is clearly worse than Purdue's one loss (at Wisconsin), just like Syracuse's one lloss (at home to Pittsburgh) is clearly worse than Purdue's one loss (at Wisconsin).
And yet Villanova and Syracuse are ranked ahead of Purdue.
Makes no sense.
In all seriousness, you could make the case that, based on body of work, Purdue should actually be ranked ahead of Kansas, too. But I'm not about to start that debate. Like I said, I'm tired.
Posted on: December 3, 2009 11:04 am
Class of 2010 standout Jayvaughn Pinkston committed Thursday to Villanova.
"I think at the end of the day Jay wants to play at the highest level, with and against the best players in the country," Pinkston's high school coach, Kimani Young, told Scout..com. "It’s one of the Top 10 programs in the country. They’re visible and they’re going to be in those bright spots very often."
MaxPreps.com ranks Pinkston No. 53 in the Class of 2010.
He's a 6-foot-6 forward who also considered St. John's, Connecticut, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Posted on: November 20, 2009 6:12 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2009 6:18 pm
Villanova's win over Dayton pushed the Big East to 37-0 as a league.
But now it's about to get tough.
I'm assuming the conference will take its first loss Friday night.
But in what game?
Will it be Syracuse-North Carolina (7 p.m. ET)?
Or Seton Hall-Cornell (7 p.m. ET)?
Or South Carolina-USF (9:30 p.m. ET)?
Or some other matchup?
Six Big East teams still have games Friday, meaning the best-case scenario has the league entering Saturday at 43-0. My guess is 41-2 or 40-3 is more likely. But either way, it's been a nice start.
Posted on: November 9, 2009 5:17 pm
Bodog.com likes Kansas and Kentucky just as much as I like Kansas and Kentucky .
I visited the gambling site not because I'm a gambler, but because I wanted see the championship odds for certain schools. What I found is that Kansas (4-to-1) is the favorite followed by Kentucky (5-to-1). North Carolina (15-to-2) is third. Then it's Duke (10-to-1), Michigan State (12-to-1), Louisville (12-to-1), Texas (12-to-1), and Villanova (12-to-1).
Click this link (and scroll down) to check it out.
Posted on: January 10, 2009 8:45 pm
Terrence Williams got into the lane, put the ball on the rim, watched it fall through and gave the Louisville Cardinals a huge road win, you know, the kind that are hard to come by in the Big East. So then Rick Pitino held a press conference and talked about it all, and my favorite quote was the following quote:
"I've looked forward to this year more than any other," Pitino told reporters after the 61-60 victory at Villanova. "You'll never see 12, 13 teams as tough as this. It's special, I'll tell you that. I'm getting the hell out of here after this year, I'm telling you that."
I'm sure Conference USA would welcome him back.
(Start the Pitino-to-Houston rumors now!)
But in all seriousness, what we learned Saturday -- in addition to that the Cards might be getting on track after a dismal start to the season -- is that the Big East is going to continue to be just as tough as everybody has long believed, if not tougher, and can you imagine how Villanova's Jay Wright must feel? He was that close to moving to 2-1 in the league; all he needed was a couple of free throws or a tip-in at the buzzer. But he got neither. So now he's 1-2 in the league with two of his next four against Connecticut and Pittsburgh, which is why you can't give away home victories in this conference, because before you blink you'll be chasing .500 with no good places to catch-up.
As proof, consider: Villanova (13-3 overall, 1-2 in the Big East) must beat either No. 5 Connecticut on Jan. 21 or No. 1 Pitt on Jan. 28, or else it is guaranteed to be below .500 in the league heading into February. There's no away around that fact. The Wildcats can't get back to .500 in the Big East before February without beating a top five team. So you can understand why Wright said "this game kills you" when he was asked to reflect on the defeat, because now he's chasing .500, and it's going to be hard as hell to get there.