Posted on: February 7, 2010 12:03 am
Edited on: February 7, 2010 12:09 am

MSU's loss means Big Ten is 'up for grabs'

Ohio State's Evan Turner Tweeted moments after the game went final.

Big Ten title is up for grabs!

Yes it is, Evan.

And how did we get here?

Michigan State was 9-0 in the Big Ten and in possession of a three-game lead in the league standings just five days ago. But the Spartans lost at Wisconsin on Tuesday and at Illinois late Saturday, and now the Big Ten is, like Turner said, up for grabs. There's essentially a four-way tie for second considering Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois and Ohio State all have three league losses, and that three-game lead Michign State owned is now just a one-game lead heading into Tuesday's showdown with Purdue.

And Kalin Lucas still has a bad ankle.

Which is obviously at the root of what's happening.

I won't go so far as to say Michigan State would've won at Wisconsin if not for Lucas' injury because, well, I don't believe that. But I do think it's fair to suggest the Spartans would be at little risk to lose the Big Ten title if not for Lucas' sprained ankle. As it is, there's a real risk, and these next few weeks are going to be wild.

Michigan State is 9-2.

Wisconsin and Illinois are 8-3.

Purdue and Ohio State are 7-3.

"Big Ten title is up for grabs," Tweeted Turner.

Yes it is, Evan.

Now let's see who grabs it.
Posted on: January 11, 2010 8:01 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2010 8:12 pm

The Poll Attacks

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?

Absolutely not.

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: January 9, 2010 6:51 pm

And then there were three

There's no shame in losing at Wisconsin.

Almost everybody does it.

And the loss doesn't mean Purdue stinks.

Purdue is very good.

But the nice thing about the Boilermakers' 73-66 loss at Wisconsin is that it will, at least momentarily, end the debate about whether Purdue belongs in the top tier with Kansas, Texas and Kentucky, i.e., the other schools that entered this weekend with undefeated records. Now that Purdue is no longer among the undefeated teams, folks won't try to group Purdue with the other undefeated teams, and then I won't have to argue that Purdue doesn't belong with the other undefeated teams, and everybody's life gets simpler.

As I type, three undefeated teams remain.

Kansas, Texas and Kentucky.

That's perfect because I've insisted for a while that those are college basketball's top three teams, and that they belong on a tier above all others, Purdue included. Purdue fans took offense to that opinion, explained how their team was undefeated, too, and then asked why I thought Purdue was terrible. Obviously, I never thought Purdue was terrible, and I still don't. In fact, I think Purdue is good enough to win the Big Ten and make the Final Four. It's just that I'm a big believer in the theory that it takes three NBA players to win the NCAA tournament, and I don't think Purdue has three.

Kansas does.

(Cole Aldrich, Sherron Collins, Xavier Henry)

Texas does.

(Dexter Pittman, Damion James, Jordan Hamilton, Avery Bradley)

Kentucky does.

(John Wall, Patrick Patterson, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe)

But Purdue doesn't.

And that's the only reason I've never grouped Purdue with Kansas, Texas and Kentucky. I simply don't believe Matt Painter has the roster to compete with those rosters for the national title. Could I be wrong? Sure, I guess. But understand that 40 of the past 41 NCAA tournament champions have had at least three players who were either A) selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, B) selected in the second round of the NBA Draft or, C) not selected in the first or second round but still went on to play in the NBA.

The only exception is the Syracuse team in 2003.

So though history suggests you can get to the Sweet 16 with anything and make a Final Four with close to anything, it also tells us that you'd better have three NBA players or Carmelo Anthony and Hakim Warrick if you want to win it all. Short of that, you're falling short. And I think Purdue is slightly short of that, which makes the Boilermakers a very good team that just isn't equipped to be elite.

Now that Purdue has one loss, that's how Purdue will be perceived by the common fan.

That'll leave Kansas, Texas and Kentucky alone at the top, which is the way it should've been all along.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 14, 2009 2:49 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2009 2:50 pm

Dear Gary (on Purdue-Alabama)

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: After reading your Monday Look back , I am left wondering why Purdue seems to avoid all national press despite being a top five team? They have a top-10 win, and two other quality wins against Wake Forest and Alabama. The Bama win might be the best top 10 road victory out there. Why is Purdue not given the love?

-- Justin

Let me tell you what happened, Justin.

I started working on the Monday Look Back early Sunday, and I had Purdue's win over Alabama as the "best game of the weekend." In fact, here's what I wrote ...

Best game of the weekend: Just hours after Mark Ingram won the school's first Heisman Trophy, Alabama had an opportunity to notch the biggest upset of the weekend, and the Crimson Tide seemed set to do it. They were up 16 and cruising in the second half against No. 5 Purdue. But then the Boilermakers committed to playing a physical/in-your-face defense and secured a 73-68 win at Coleman Coliseum. "It was amazing," said Purdue coach Matt Painter, whose team held Alabama without a field goal for the final 8:45. It really was a stunning display of defense, the kind Nick Saban could probably appreciate.

So I was done.

And then guess what happened?

Xavier and Cincinnati went to double-overtime Sunday night, and I made that the "best game of the weekend." So I cut the Purdue-Alabama stuff, added the Xavier-Cincinnati stuff that you read, and forget to write something about Purdue in another spot, meaning Purdue went from filling the top category in the Monday Look Back to not appearing in the Monday Look Back because Xavier beat Cincinnati in overtime, and because I forget to make Purdue-Alabama a different category.

In other words, there is no conspiracy.

Just an honest mistake.

If you must blame somebody, blame Xavier's Terrell Holloway.
Posted on: December 14, 2009 2:48 pm
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Posted on: December 7, 2009 2:58 pm

Dear Gary (on Lewis Jackson's possible comeback)

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: There have been conflicting reports as to how long Lewis Jackson's foot injury will keep him out. Let's say, hypothetically, Jackson is able to return to Purdue around the time of the Big Ten Tournament. If you're Matt Painter, and you think you have a legitimate shot to reach the Final Four, do you burn a whole season of Jackson's eligibility for a March run? This may be the best team in Purdue's history, so I think, if Jackson can help the team, you've got to play him. What do you think?
-- Kyle

Painter first has to decide if he wants to use Jackson. If not, it's a moot point because any coach should be able to redshirt whomever he wants whenever he wants just like any coach should be able to start whomever he wants whenever he wants. So if Painter wanted to continue to sit Jackson to preserve the year of eligibility, he would have a right to do that. On the other hand, if Painter wanted to spend a year of Jackson's eligibility on three or four weeks of games, I think he would need to consult Jackson before doing it because I don't think it's fair to push that on somebody.

So to recap, if Jackson isn't cleared until around the Big Ten tournament and Painter wants to continue to sit Jackson and just request a medical redshirt, I'm fine with it, and Jackson should have no say in the matter. But if Painter wants to spend a year of Jackson's eligibility on a handful of games, I think he'd need to make sure Jackson was on board with the decision.

And this has nothing to do with Purdue, Painter or Jackson, really.

It's how I'd feel about this situation regardless of the parties involved.
If you're going to spend a year of eligibility on four weeks, the player needs to be OK with it.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 2, 2009 10:57 am
Edited on: October 2, 2009 11:00 am

Notre Dame's Martin out for season with torn ACL

Notre Dame wing Scott Martin tore his ACL in a workout Thursday and will miss all of this season.

"It was [on a] jumpstop," Brey said in a text message sent to CBSSports.com. "No one around him and he goes down."

Martin transferred from Purdue after one season in which he averaged 8.5 points and 3.8 rebounds.

He sat out last season because of NCAA transfer rules.

He was expected to be a starter at Notre Dame.
Category: BBD
Posted on: October 23, 2008 7:54 am
Edited on: October 23, 2008 8:00 am

Dear Gary (on the points and combos list)

Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: I can't argue with the your ranking of point and combo guards. However, after looking at them and noticing some names that, in my opinion, could have been included (not should have), I think you should make another list to include those players who might make you regret leaving them out of the ranking.

-- Ryan

Good idea, Ryan.

Because, yes, I already have some regrets.

The two players I left off the points and combos list that, in hindsight, might've belonged are UNLV's Wink Adams and Purdue's E'Twaun Moore. I had them on a list of players to consider but opted to go another way in the end, and I think any criticism levied against me for that decision is reasonable. I mean, Moore could end up being the best player on a Big Ten title team and Adams averaged 16.7 points per game last season. Given a couple of mulligans, I might use them to include Adams and Moore. But in fairness, when you consider the last three players ranked were Matt Bouldin, Armon Johnson and Trevon Hughes you must admit it's not like I left Adams and Moore off the list in favor of bums.

And I guess that's my bottom-line point, that this stuff is all subjective.

Understand, anytime people rank players or teams or anything, really, everybody will basically agree on 80 percent of the things listed. It's the bottom 20 percent that causes the debate because there usually isn't much difference between the bottom 20 percent of the list and many of the things omitted from the list. In other words, there probably isn't much difference between the last eight players I ranked in the points and combos list and the eight best players I omitted -- which is my way of telling you that most any debate is a reasonable debate and that even I don't always feel comfortable with my lists when I complete them.

For instance, I just finished the list of wings.

It'll be up later today.

And though I like the list, I will admit there are some pretty damn good players who didn't make the cut. I had about 20 players competing for the final five spots. That means I had to drop 15, and I'm confident fans of the schools of all 15 will email at some point in the next 24 hours to tell me about the unbelievable ignorance I have shown.

I'm ready for it.

But till then, I'll try to relax.

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