Posted on: March 1, 2010 10:27 am

Dear Gary (on Kansas-Syracuse)

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Did you forget that (Kansas and Syracuse) played last year in Kansas City? Who won that one? ... And Kansas hasn't played a top 10 team yet, so how impressive is that body of work you love so much? Or do you just cling to All-Americans and ride them to their death like in 2003. How'd those Kansas All-Americans fare against the unproven kids from Syracuse?

-- Adam

I guess the first thing I should do is point out that the Jayhawks have a road win over Kansas State, which will be ranked in the top five of the AP poll this afternoon. That makes one of Adam's points moot. And Adam, if you're reading, please write back and explain what a game played last year in Kansas City -- or a game played in 2003 -- has to do with anything related to this week's rankings. Because best I can tell, last season's Syracuse-Kansas game carries about as much weight as last season's North Carolina-Villanova game, i.e., no weight at all.

Anyway, let's be serious for a moment.

There is nothing wrong with voting Syracuse No. 1.

A reasonable case can be made for the Orange.

I know that.

But it's also reasonable to suggest that KU's body of work is slightly better than Syracuse's body of work, and that's what I've suggested. If you want to argue against me, there are some good places for you to start. But pretending Kansas hasn't beaten a top 10 team is silly, and referencing games from past seasons makes no sense it all. If I'm a Syracuse fan, I'm talking about a two-game lead in the Big East, about dominant wins over Georgetown and Villanova, about Wesley Johnson and an offense and defense that overwhelms opponents.

What I'm not talking about is last year.

Or 2003.

But Adam is a dummy.

So he doesn't know any better.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 27, 2010 6:56 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2010 1:42 pm

And the new No. 1 should be ... KU

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Can you lose and stay No. 1?


If you've built the kind of resume Kansas has built, yes, you absolutely can.

So despite Syracuse's win over Villanova -- or regardless of what happens between Michigan State-Purdue -- you can expect me to keep the Jayhawks atop the Top 25 (and one) despite Saturday's 85-77 loss at Oklahoma State. Why? Because their body of work will still be superior to everybody else's body of work, that's why.

Kansas is 27-2.

The Jayhawks have eight wins over projected NCAA tournament teams, and both losses came on the road to projected NCAA tournament teams. Meantime, Syracuse -- even with the win over Villanova -- doesn't have more wins or fewer losses than Kansas. And though the Orange's wins are similar to KU's in terms of quality, Syracuse's losses don't compare to KU's losses, and, to me, that's the difference.

Kansas has lost at Tennessee and at Oklahoma State.

Syracuse has lost at home to Pittsburgh and at home to Louisville.

Advantage: KU

So, absolutely, the Jayhawks should remain No. 1.

Even in defeat.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Kansas, Syracuse
Posted on: February 21, 2010 12:17 am

The top four seems simple to me

The top four of Sunday's Top 25 (and one) will be easy to figure out.
  1. Kansas
  2. Kentucky
  3. Syracuse
  4. Purdue
Those would also be the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA touranment if the NCAA tournament started today.

It doesn't start today, of course.

But can you believe we're just three weeks from Selection Sunday?
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 19, 2010 2:14 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2010 2:17 pm

Dear Gary (on the best games I've seen this year)

Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Now that the season is nearly over, what is the best game you've seen this year in person?

-- Dan

Nice question, Dan.

Now let me think.

I was at the Kentucky-Connecticut game at Madison Square Garden when John Wall made that ridiculous play in the final minutes. It wasn't a well-played game, exactly, but it was fun and memorable because of the atmosphere and intensity. The Kansas-Kansas State game in Manhattan was also terrific. The Jayhawks won in overtime, and I wrote about Sherron Collins' testicles. Seemed like a reasonable thing to do at the time. Now, I'm not so sure. Either way, fun night. But I think I'd have to go with Tennessee's improbable win over No. 1 Kansas as the best game I've attended this season, the one where walk-on Skylar McBee hit the clinching shot, just nine days after four Vols were arrested and suspended.

Terrific atmosphere.

Terrific ending.

Plus, I got a chance to talk to Skylar's mother, and she was delightful.

So put me down for Kansas-Tennessee.

But the season isn't over yet, Dan.

I've got Kentucky-Vandy this weekend.

Hopefully, that'll join the list of great games.
Posted on: February 17, 2010 11:42 am
Edited on: February 17, 2010 11:43 am

Dear Gary (on who won't make it to Indy)

Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Which of our current top four teams (Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, Villanova) will we NOT see in the Final Four come April? Or will this be a year that all four one-seeds make it? Curious to hear your opinion and rationale.

-- Magee

As you can probably tell from the blog I filed last night, I'm going to have Kansas and Kentucky in Indianapolis unless an injury changes things in the next few weeks. So what you're really asking me to do is pick between Syracuse and Villanova, and I'm not sure I can intelligently do that without seeing the bracket.

Which one will have the easier path?

Does one of them end up in a region with Duke and Ohio State?

That's what will determine the answer to your question, the path from the first round to the Final Four each team must take. Either way, my guess is we'll end up with Kansas, Kentucky, one of of the Big East teams and one of the Big Ten teams battling at Lucas Oil Stadium. That seems like a fun Final Four, and I'd be pleased if it unfolded that way.
Posted on: February 17, 2010 1:42 am
Edited on: February 17, 2010 1:52 am

One night after KU gets nice road win, UK matches

John Calipari changed clothes, threw on some glasses and addressed the media.

He said what everybody was thinking.

"[Mississippi State] should've won the game," Calipari said. "We kind of reached out and grabbed one."

Yes, they did, and so the Kentucky Wildcats improved to 25-1 despite trailing by seven points with less than three minutes left in regulation. UK forced overtime thanks to Patrick Patterson's baseline jumper, then took advantage of the shorthanded Bulldogs -- not to mention a terrible non-call on what should've been a goaltending call -- and escaped Mississippi State with an 81-75 victory that pushed the Wildcats' league record to 10-1.

It was the type of game most teams lose but special teams win.

That's the simplest way to describe it.

And after watching Kansas and Kentucky similarly overcome late deficits on the road in consecutive nights, is there any denying the NCAA tournament title game should be KU vs. UK? As I've said since October, the Jayhawks and Wildcats are the two teams with the best players and highest ceilings, and now they're operating in that manner.

Kansas and Kentucky have a combined record of 50-2. Each has an All-American guard (Sherron Collins and John Wall) and center (Cole Aldrich and DeMarcus Cousins), plus complimentary players who would be stars anywhere else (Marcus Morris and Xavier Henry at Kansas; Patrick Patterson and Eric Bledsoe at Kentucky). Both are winning big at home, beating good teams on the road, and developing a swagger that has them on a collision course.

Predicted date of impact: April 5

Predicted site of impact: Lucas Oil Stadium.

Admittedly, Syracuse and Villanova will have something to say about this -- as will Purdue, Duke, Kansas State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Michigan State, Georgetown and a handful of other teams. But if things go the way they should go, we're headed for Bill Self vs. John Calipari, for Sherron Collins vs. John Wall, for Cole Aldrich vs. DeMarcus Cousins, for a title game that would be more hyped than any in recent memory given the star power on the sidelines, on the court, and the tradition of the two schools.

So go ahead pencil KU deep into your bracket.

UK, too.

The past two nights have been convincing in that way.

And if you're still not convinced, you're just being stubborn.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Kansas, Kentucky
Posted on: January 31, 2010 3:17 am
Edited on: January 31, 2010 3:26 am

Kansas will be (and should be) No. 1

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 Kentucky.

Then ... who knows?
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 27, 2010 11:21 am
Edited on: January 27, 2010 11:39 am

Dear Gary (on the next No. 1)

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.

-- Cody

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.
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