Posted on: February 17, 2010 2:01 pm
Ohio State's Evan Turner now tops the AnnAbor.com College Basketball Player of the Year poll.
The votes of 49 panelists moved Turner past Kentucky's John Wall for the first time this season with Villanova's Scottie Reynolds, Syracuse's Wesley Johnson and Kansas' Sherron Collins rounding out the top five. Each voter was asked to list a top three and turn it in Tuesday afternoon, i.e., before Wall nearly put a triple-double on Mississippi State. Turner got 30 first-place votes, Wall got 13, Collins got four and Reynolds got two. Amazingly, eight voters didn't list Turner in their top three. Wall wasn't listed on four ballots.
My ballot looked like this:
1. John Wall
2. Evan Turner
3. Wesley Johnson
Click this link to see all the details.
Posted on: February 17, 2010 11:42 am
Edited on: February 17, 2010 11:43 am
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.
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
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.
The past two nights have been convincing in that way.
And if you're still not convinced, you're just being stubborn.
Posted on: February 16, 2010 2:01 pm
The biggest game tonight is Kentucky at Mississippi State.
And it won't be a huge upset if the Bulldogs win.
Yes, UK is ranked second nationally. And, yes, Mississippi State is unranked with seven losses, including losses to Rider, Western Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas and Florida. But the Bulldogs are still a formidable opponent at home, which is why they're only a three-point underdog. Meantime, KenPom.com projects a 71-70 UK win, but gives the Bulldogs a 44-percent chance at the upset.
So by any measuring stick, this should be tight.
Click this link to watch a video preview of the game I did with CBSSports.com's Jason Horowitz.
Also: Click this link for some thoughts on the possible No. 1 seeds, the Top 25 (and one), Richmond, etc.
Posted on: February 4, 2010 1:13 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2010 1:14 pm
Michael Rothstein of AnnArbor.com has posted the results of his second Player of the Year poll.
Click this link to check it out.
Forty-eight college basketball writers -- myself included -- listed our top three in order.
My top three were:
Wall got 25 first-place votes while Turner got 18.
Scottie Reynolds (Villanova) and Damion James (Texas) rounded out the top five.
Sherron Collins (Kansas) -- with one first-place vote -- was sixth.
Posted on: February 3, 2010 2:32 pm
I just turned in my updated Player of the Year rankings to Michael Rothstein of AnnArbor.com.
He's conducting a media survey every few weeks.
The latest results will be out tomorrow.
My ballot looked like this:
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.