Friday, February 29, 2008
However, Cornell can secure the first tourney bid. The Big Red needs a win over Dartmouth (Cornell leads by 5 at halftime) and a loss by Brown to Princeton. Princeton leads with just over ten minutes left. Probably just a matter of time before Cornell gets in, but they could become the first tonight. Cornell can secure things with a win tonight and another tomorrow at Harvard even without any help. As soon as they get in, the Orange will officially be 1-0 against tournament teams.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
The Mount will now either be fourth or fifth in the conference tournament. Obviously, the Mounties are hoping to get to fourth so they can get that first round home game. Quinnipiac beat Central tonight in overtime on Demario Anderson's three pointer from halfcourt at the OT horn. If you didn't see the highlights on Sportscenter you missed out. So now the situation is clear. If the Mount beats Monmouth on Saturday night and Quinnipiac loses at Wagner, the Mount is the #4 seed. If Quinnipiac wins it is the #4 seed and the Mount is #5 regardless of the outcome of the Mount game.
Wagner has clinched the #2 seed, and Sacred Heart will be the third seed. Central has locked into sixth and Long Island is seventh.
The race for the eight and final playoff spot is a little more complicated. Monmouth with a win or a St. Francis PA loss, gets its. No questions asked. A St. Francis (PA) win over Fairleigh Dickinson and a Mountie win gives the bid to PA.
Teams that didn't help their case last night....Oklahoma (but probably still safe), Rhode Island (total implosion) and Ole Miss (speaking of implosion)
Teams that moved into better position....Davidson (nobody on the bubble wants them to lose the SoCon tourney), VCU, Western Kentucky (Hilltoppers may have case for inclusion), Florida (gonna be hard to keep them out), Kentucky (Vitale says they are in - but his field is pretty big), Mississippi State (just about locked), Illinois State (I think they are the Valley's 2), West Virginia (beat the Demons), UAB (key road win), Baylor (book em)
Tonight's games with impact....
Saint Louis versus St. Joe's - Hawks can't afford any more bad losses.
Maryland versus Wake Forest - Losses here hurt. Wake can't recover, and Maryland is getting close to that spot.
New Orleans versus South Alabama - This won't be easy for the Jags. But they need to win.
UCLA versus Arizona State - Everyone else has more faith in the Pitchforks ability to land a bid than I do. I think they definitely need a split this weekend. This one would carry more weight.
Also keep an eye on Quinnipiac and Central Connecticut tonight as it impacts the Mount and the first round of the NEC. I'll have analysis on what it does to the Mount's playoff scenarios either late tonight or tomorrow.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Virginia Tech beat Boston College - If the Hokies are going to have any chance they needed this one. They got it.
Indiana beat Ohio State - Buckeyes in as close to freefall as possible. At 17-11 they are down to 52 in the RPI. Numbers like that lead to RIP.
Southern Illinois beat Bradley - Even with this win, I can't imagine a 16-12 team out of the Valley garnering more support than a 17-11 team out of the Big Ten or Big East.
UNLV beat San Diego State - Rebels had to rally in the second half to win. Keeps them in good shape.
BYU beat New Mexico - Got to figure the Cougs are as close to a lock as possible now. The Lobos didn't help their chances last night, and the RPI at 53 needs some improvement.
Tonight's key games.
Appalachian State versus Davidson - Only matters if Davidson doesn't win the Southern Conference tournament. I think Davidson could survive one loss in the Southern Conference but not anymore.
NC-Wilmington versus Virginia Commonwealth - Rams almost need to be perfect the rest of the way to avoid heartbreak if they don't win in the tournament.
Western Kentucky versus Florida International - I don't think the Hilltoppers get in, regardless. But a loss tonight would cinch that.
Rhode Island versus George Washington - Reeling Rams can't afford to lose a fifth straight.
Florida versus Georgia - Gators haven't secured their bid yet. A loss does a lot more to hurt than a win does to help.
Mississippi versus Kentucky - If these teams have a chance a loss tonight probably eliminates that hope.
Auburn versus Mississippi State - Bulldogs can ill-afford to be losing games like this at home, this late in the season.
Oklahoma versus Nebraska - Sooners can probably afford to slip up. But you never know what's going to happen come conference tournament time, so taking care of business tonight would be advised.
Creighton versus Illinois State - We still believe if the Valley gets two, that Illinois State is the second.
West Virginia versus Depaul - Mountaineers can't afford losses against teams that were never ranked.
UAB versus UTEP - Blazers are making a charge. They need this one. Desperately.
Baylor versus Colorado - Bears are just about locked. But shut the door and be done with it.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Still I believe they have a chance. In addition, I think they will finish well. And if they win 2 of 3 games and a game in the Big East Tournament, they are going to be hard to ignore. But we all know that song and dance.
Anyhow here are games tha affected the Orange's chances last night.
Marquette beat Villanova - It's good that the 'Cats lost. 'Nova had appeared done a few weeks ago, but had all of a sudden gotten hot. So its good that that little roll was ended. Villanova is still a threat to challenge but much less of one now.
South Alabama beat Presbyterian - The win really does nothing for the Jags. But a loss would have killed their at-large hopes. I think USA gets in if they don't win the Sun Belt Tournament. But a loss last night would have been a downer.
I see five games tonight that have big Bubble implications
Virginia Tech versus Boston College - The Hokies have played their way back onto the fringe of the bubble. A win here would further their case.
Ohio State versus Indiana - Buckeyes have gone from just about in to the bubble. This is of course a losable game. OSU needs to avoid that.
Southern Illinois versus Bradley - Salukis have been gaining strength down the stretch and it would make sense for the Valley to have two potential teams. SIU needs this one though.
UNLV versus San Diego State - Mountain is looking more and more like it might get three teams. The main two BYU and UNLV can't falter or that will be revisited.
New Mexico versus BYU - Cougars aren't lock status yet, but they are close. A win tonight might just be enough. New Mexico has worked its way into a lot of brackets, and would probably get into everyone else's with a win tonight. A loss isn't a killer but it doesn't help.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Here are our locks at this point: Duke, North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas, UCLA, Texas, Georgetown, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Xavier, Marquette, Indiana, Stanford, Louisville, Connecticut, Drake, Michigan State, Butler, Washington State, Notre Dame, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Arizona, Purdue, Kansas State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, St. Mary's, Miami (FL)
Then I have four that have just about secured their slot in my book...Davidson, Virginia Commonwealth, Texas A&M and USC
So that leaves us with 13 slots for the following teams to fight over. By conference, here are the candidates in my estimation. I've got 19 teams that are worthy of consideration. But I'm going to go ahead and give automatic bids to UNLV (Mountain West), Kent (MAC) and South Alabama (Sun Belt). So that leaves 16 teams fighting for thirteen slots, and I truly believe its a pretty non-descript bunch.
Here they are -
Oklahoma - The Sooners at 18-9 are the best of this grouping and really aren't in danger of not getting in.
Baylor - The Bears have enough quality early and have held their own in the Big 12.
Syracuse - I thought the Orange's 0-2 week would put them on the outside looking in. But I still think they hold on at the moment. The RPI is better than 7 of the other teams, I'm looking at in this grouping, and the SOS is 2nd best.
Dayton - Flyers keep falling. But with a sub 40 RPI - I don't think you can throw them out yet.
Massachusetts - Minutemen went from real bubble concern to a pretty solid status this week.
Arkansas - With the group we are considering, I don't think there's anyway that the Hogs can miss out.
Oregon - Ducks are 15-12. 15-12 and yet I have them in. I think that says something about the quality of the teams we are looking at.
Mississippi State - Bulldogs have had a fairly strong second half, and they are close to securing things at this point.
Maryland - Terps have an RPI that is in the mid-60's. That is what happens when you lose to VCU, Ohio and American at home. They are in, but can't afford upsets in the conference tourneys.
BYU - I think the RPI makes them solid, but a schedule strength near 100 makes it possible that they don't get called.
Ohio State - Buckeyes were very solid a week ago. But how quickly that all changes. Needs to push it back the right way.
St. Joseph's - Hawks were all but done until key road win on Sunday. I think they have survived for now.
Rhode Island - Each week I think that this is the week we eliminate some of these A-10 teams. And I never do it. But Rams can't be too careful.
Arizona State - RPI is in the 70's. They need to play way back into it.
Florida - Two time defending champ doesn't have a defining win. But it does have 20 wins in a BCS conference. Not sure that is enough.
UAB - I still think the CUSA is a one-bid pony. Blazers late run has given it a shot though.
I also include five teams that I think may be close to garnering more support and might be able to chip away at some of the mediocrity we see above.
Illinois State, New Mexico, Ole Miss (if it can regain some of its early form), Southern Illinois and Villanova (which is all of a sudden winning the games you expected)
Saturday, February 23, 2008
ROUND ONE - Very little action in round one as the two champions tried to feel each other out. Klitschko kept pushing Ibragimov's guard aside, but never really did any damage. Ibragimov won the round in my view with one nice body shot.
ROUND TWO - Not a whole lot more as the boos start at the end of the round. But Klitschko did get a few good jabs in and won the round with those. Truly the blog maybe more exciting than the fight thus far.
ROUND THREE - The fight could get a little more exciting if Klitschko threw something after the jabs. And you almost think he could get Ibragimov in trouble if that happened. But for now he is content to win rounds with the jab.
ROUND FOUR - Ibragimov seems a bit tired and frustrated and senses there has to be change. So he is a bit busier to start the round. I don't think Klitschko has landed a punch other than a jab, but its working right now. He won that boring round as well.
ROUND FIVE - A big cheer from the crowd as Klitschko throws a right hand. Might have been the first one. Ibragimov is just overmatched in this. Mainly it seems because of the size. He is trying to find a way in, but can't. The natives are getting restless, but Klitschko won another round.
ROUND SIX - I sense this round might get a little better. Ibragimov has been trying. If you watch Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice, you heard Lennox Lewis called "sleepy" this week. It's hard to imagine he is staying awake at ringside tonight. Igbragimov moved Klitschko back a few times towards the end of the round. I'll give him the round just for that.
ROUND SEVEN - If Ibragimov won the sixth, it made Klitschko mad. Klitschko landed several more jabs and a few right hands, which he is extremely accurate with. But something is keeping the big guy from throwing it often. The round to Klitschko.
ROUND EIGHT - A slip as the fight has picked up some pace. Mainly because Klitschko is throwing some right hands. He has hurt Ibragimov a few times with the right hand. Ibragimov did land a few hooks towards the end of the round. But still Klitschko wins the round with the most power fighting thus far.
ROUND NINE - Somehow Igbragimov stayed on his feet. The ropes kept him up. A couple of right hands from Klitschko that were big and they hurt him. But Klitschko immediately goes back to the jab and not much more. The round goes to Klitschko thanks to the big flurry early and that jab.
ROUND TEN - Ibragimov just tackled Klitschko. He just can't get inside. Klitschko is keeping him away and making it ever so difficult. It seems that Ibragimov is getting more and more frustrated. Klitschko wins another round because he was hardly hit.
ROUND ELEVEN - Barring a miracle for Ibragimov this fight will go the distance. Because its obvious that Klitschko is happy to stand behind the left and win on points. His corner is imploring him to go for the knockout but he won't.
ROUND TWELVE - There going to add up the scorecards and find that Klitschko won easily. He did. But it was not a good fight. A dominating performance, yes, in a way. But not the flashy performance that Klitschko would have liked. We'll wait for the official word.
The final scores 119-110, 117-111, 118-110, to Wladimir Klitschko
Stay tuned to HBO for the Joe Louis piece. I know the good folks there have worked hard on it and I'm looking forward to it.
Like I said no excuses at RMU. The Colonials are just a little better. The Mount keeps getting better, but they are not to that level yet. So a good win for RMU (who went on to defeat Wagner for sole possession of first place on Saturday). The Mount struggled from the free throw line in defeat. MSM trailed by as many as 10 in the second half but rallied with a 10-0 run to knot the game with about six minutes left. However, the Colonials got some big shots from some unlikely sources down the stretch and held on for the win. Chris Vann's three at the buzzer couldn't find the mark and the Mount's mini win streak was over.
The Mounties sizzled in the first half at St. Francis of PA. The Mount shot 69.2 percent from the field in the first half as it buit a 14 point halftime advantage. The lead ballooned to 22 with just under ten minutes left and then the Mount held on for a 72-61 win.
Jean Cajou and Jeremy Goode again led the Mount in scoring. Both had 18 points, a career high for the freshman, as they combined to make 14-of-17 shots, including 6-of-8 three pointers. The play of Cajou, and in particular the shooting of Cajou recently, has been phenomenal. Cajou, who started the season 1-for 13 or 14 from behind the arc, is now 14-of-32 on the season, including 13-of-23 in conference games.
The Mount remains 1/2 game behind Quinnipiac for the fourth and final home playoff game slot. Central Connecticut is 1/2 game behind the Mount. Quinnipiac nearly lost twice this week, needing a three-pointer at the buzzer to upend Monmouth on Thursday night. The Bobcats play at Central Connecticut and Wagner this week.
If Central wins the Thursday night game with Quinnipiac, the three teams will enter Saturday's final day of play in a three-way tie for the final home game in the first round of the playoffs. The Mount hosts Monmouth, Central plays at Sacred Heart, while QU travels to Wagner.
In the event of a three-way tie, I believe the Mount will win the highest seed and get the home playoff game.
The Mount will win the tie with Central Connecticut if those two teams end up in a tie.
However, the tiebreaker with Quinnipiac is dependent upon the Bobcats final two games. In order for there to be a tie with the Mount and only the Mount, the Bobcats must win one of its two games, and Central must lose one of its final two - and the Mount must beat Monmouth.
If you are a Mountaineer fan and want to see Chris Vann and Jason Loughry play at least one more time other than Saturday, I think you need to root for this.
The Mount beats Monmouth. If Quinnipiac loses twice the Mount gets the #4 seed regardless of what Central does Saturday.
On Thursday if Central beats Quinnipiac. If Quinnipiac beats Wagner on Saturday, Central must beat Sacred Heart for the Mount to earn the #4 seed.
On Thursday if Quinnipiac beats Central, the Bobcats must then lose to Wagner and the Mount must beat Monmouth for the Mounties to earn the #4 seed.
If the Mount loses to Monmouth, it can still earn the #4 seed with a Quinnipiac loss to Central and Central loss to Sacred Heart, and a Quinnipiac loss to Wagner.
You got all that. Me neither. But I think I'm pretty close. Either way, there are a lot of ways the Mount can earn that final home game. But the best way is to take care of business Saturday night and hope for the best. I'll try to update things after the key Quinnipiac/Central Connecticut game on Thursday night.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Here's what I've been able to piece together
A30 - @ Northwestern
S6 - Akron
S13 - Penn State
S20 - Northeastern
S27 - Pittsburgh - According to my friends at Heinz this is the Orange Big East opener.
O11 - @ West Virginia
O18- @South Florida
N1 - Louisville
N8 - @ Rutgers
N15 - Connecticut
N22 - @ Notre Dame
N 29 - @Cincinnati
That is ten of the twelve games. Obviously, some holes in October. The two games I'm missing are at South Florida and Louisville.
Look for those two games to appear during the later part of October. I think that the week after the Pitt game will be an open date. But don't hold me to that.
edit - With the addition of the South Florida game on October 18th that means the Louisville game will be possible on one of the three dates....October 4, October 25th or November 1st. My initial source told me an open date on October 4. So I'm expecting the Louisville game to be October 25th or November 1st.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Of course, I thought the last one between the two would be a good one as well, and RMU dominated that. From my perspective the Colonials are the best team in the NEC. They are definitely the most complete (offensive and defensive) package.
Still, I like the Mount's chances for a few reasons tonight. One the Mount is playing well. As Rice said the best they've been playing all year. I concur. But also the fact that RMU has gotten a lot of praise and notoriety of late. Sometimes for someone who is not used to that its tough to handle. The Colonials try to match a school record 10 game win streak tonight, and they maybe looking forward to Saturday night's showdown with first place tie Wagner. Plus I just had a feeling when watching the teams the first time, that the Mount would fare well in a rematch. No guarantees, but I expect the Mounties to make it a good game.
Congrats to Shawn Atupem for nabbing NEC newcomer of the week awards. He had a great week of action and was very deserving of the honor. His play the last month has been surprising, but needed. His athleticism could be a difference tonight.
One other thing that Rice mentioned that was pretty interesting was that Lee was the first player in NEC history to get 1000 points, 300 rebounds and 300 assists. It seemed odd, but I'll take his word on it. Rice mentioned how Lee accomplished that in three years. So I did some checking on Jeremy Goode. The Mount point guard has 664 points, 304 assists and 196 rebounds with four games to play in his sophomore season. Think he makes it?
I am probably going to watch Pittburgh's second best team tonight. A friend of the blog, and a friend of mine, wants me to join him to watch an important game for the Panthers. I think I will. But I'll keep checking on the Mount.
All of a sudden the forgotten about Canes are back on the bubble. With the big win and the incredibly respectable RPI, (28), the Canes are just about a lock. Sure they have to finish up. They can't fold down the stretch, but with five ACC games left they are 5-6. I really think with the RPI what it is, and the fact the committee will reward the quote best conference, an 8-8 conference record, and the non-conference wins over VCU, Providence and at Mississippi State will be enough.
And if its not look for the committee to look Wake Forest's way. You know that other team that beat Duke in the last week. I told you'd they start popping up in people's brackets this week. All it would take was that one win. Well there they are in Storming the Floor's Bracket Racket today. We shouldn't be shocked, we knew it was coming.
They might be out tomorrow. But only because they will be replaced by Miami. Five teams from the ACC. Book it. Duke, Carolina and Clemson are golden. Everybody (except me) has conceded a bid to Maryland (but with the win over Tech tonight, it looks more and more likely) and then you've got Miami and Wake fighting for number five, or bumping somebody else out of number six.
We still have about three and half weeks to decide all this. But the reality is that the ACC is getting five teams, and maybe one more.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Gettysburg defeated Northeastern 70-68 at the Giant Center in the PIAA District III Semifinal on Wednesday evening. The Lady Warriors got a bucket from Braea Johnson with 4 strokes left on the clock to win it. Gettysburg will play Saturday morning for the title. Get this the opponent, will be either Lampeter Strasburg (now we know the nickname) or Lancaster Mennonite. The tip at 11:15 Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, Delone Catholic has a six-point lead on Milton Hershey in Chocolate Town in the Boys AA Semi.
Update: Gettysburg will face Lancaster Mennonite on Saturday morning for the crown. Meanwhile, Delone takes on Trinity for the boys AA crown on Friday, snow permitting. The Squires handled Milton Hershey last night. Delone can give Jim Dooley, who has won 100 games at four different Mid-State high schools, his first ever District crown. Its hard to root for the rival Delone, but not hard to root for Coach. Good Luck to the Gettysburg girls and to Coach Dooley and his Squires.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Reading some of the recaps of the Taylor/Pavlik fight today, I felt better about how I saw the fight. I had it even, and one of those rounds, I sort of just gave to Taylor. So I expected the decision to goto Pavlik. But I was a little surprised when it was as lopsided as it was. But there were a lot of close rounds. And really thinking back on it they were either Pavlik rounds or toss up rounds so the decision makes more sense.
University of New Hampshire is coming to Pittsburgh in 2010. Murph at Heinz Field. The Cats have won a few games against big time competition. Rutgers and Northwestern come to mind.
Speaking of college football, have you seen the Thursday Night lineup. Some very good games. South Carolina - NC State kick it off in August, The Gamecocks again the next week at Vanderbilt, Carolina of the North variety at Rutgers, West Virginia at Colorado, USC/Oregon State, Clemson at Steve Russ and Wake Forest, Florida State at NC State, Auburn at West Virginia, Virginia Tech's annual Thursday night game hosting Maryland, then the Hokies on the Road at Miami, Miami in Atlanta versus Georgia Tech, The Horns and Aggies on Thanksgiving Night. That is a good lineup.
Go ahead and give the points with the Hoosiers tommorrow night. Its a feeling.
Did you notice all the celebrity names in women's hoops this year? Not sure why I did either. But reading the NEC weekly release I saw Ashley Olson plays for Wagner. Meanwhile, Colorado has the tandem of Brittany Spears and Whitney Houston. Ironically, they are all freshman. Spears and Houston are teammates.
Syracuse just didn't rebound enough. Too many chances for the Cards. The Orange needs to rebound (pardon the pun) in South Bend on Sunday.
All the initial reviews are pretty good on Chris Tillman, who the Orioles acquired in the Bedard trade. He's one of those guys that people stop and watch pitch on the side in spring training.
There is some talk of Alex Cintron getting a contract with the Orioles to play shortstop this year. He was one of those guys that I thought might be a real good player when I first saw him a few years ago. But that never happened. Still he might be an upgrade, at least offensively, over the Luis Hernandez, Brandon Fahey, Freddie Bynum combo that the Orioles have.
Tennessee and Memphis will be one-two in the rankings when they play on Saturday night. Fifth time in NCAA history that one and two from the same state meet. Number two has won all four times.
Looks like Xavier is going to win on the Rhode (man I'm full of them). Still time for the Rams. But they trail by 7. And the bubble gets bigger.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
At 16-8 with the win, it won't matter that the Decons are somewhere around 70 in the RPI when they wake up tomorrow morning. It won't matter that the Schedule Strength is somewhere in the mid 130's, what will matter is that Wake could now be the next team that the ACC deserves. Because after all, the ACC is the top conference in the land, and only selecting four teams or heavens to Betsy three if you don't call Maryland's name just isn't acceptable. Not when other conferences are getting six or seven or maybe even eight teams, and the for crying out loud they are talking about five from the Atlantic 10. The Atlantic Coast Conference deserves better, and now maybe Wake can give it to them. Or at least the committee can give it to Wake.
So if you're an Orange fan, yes you like to see Duke lose, but it could have long standing implications on how many games your Orange plays this year. It might point SU straight in the direction of the NIT once again. So don't revel in that Dukie loss too long. Instead, start thinking about who you need to be rooting against.
Root against Baylor. Sure its been a great story in Texas. But the Bears are a bubble team and they could get your spot. There is no RPI implication for you either.
Root for Cornell. The Big Red are likely to get in the Big Dance with an Ivy title, that will help the vs. tournament teams record. Its kinda cheap, but we need it.
Root against Oregon. I think the Ducks, based on the high strength of schedule might be a bigger threat than Cal or Arizona State. But don't root for them either.
Root against Florida or Mississippi. It would probably be good if Ole Miss just fell off the face of the earth. And they are trying at 3-7 in the SEC. But if that doesn't happen root against the Gators. But none of that at the expense of getting Kentucky back into it.
Root for St. Mary's. The Gaels need to beat Kent on Saturday. The Golden Flashes are starting to have one of those resumes that could get them an at-large bid if they fail in the MAC Final, especially if they win in California this weekend.
Root for Western Kentucky. At least in the game against South Alabama. Remember them from the NIT last year. I think if South Alabama loses this game, then the Sun Belt is a one-bid conference. But if USA keeps rolling they could get an at-large bid if they don't win the automatic.
Root for St. Joseph's, Siena and Rhode Island. Those three teams can do some good to keep the Orange RPI headed in the right direction.
Root against New Mexico - The Lobos are 20-6. The Mountain West looks like it could be a two-bid league. But if the Lobos make a push for three it spells trouble in the great white north.
Root against Houston - Could the committee deny a Cougar team at 27-6 that has three losses to Memphis? That would be a big question in that room. I'd feel a lot better if they had another loss or two on the docket.
As we get closer and closer to the committee's announcement of the pairings, I think the field starts to seperate itself. Right now, I've got 35 teams that I think you have to include in the tournament field. That grouping comes from 13 different conferences, so if you assume they win the conference tournaments and the at-large bids for those conferences then you can assume we need another 12 teams.
Here are the teams that I don't think there could be any arguments over: Duke, Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina, UCLA, Georgetown, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Stanford, Xavier, Marquette, Drake, Indiana, Michigan State, Louisville, Butler, Washington State, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Clemson, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt, Purdue, St. Mary's
Those are the first 29 teams of my field. I don't think anyone could argue would any of those selections. They have all proven worthy. The next six, I fell have to be included, but I could see how someone could make an argument the other way. Still, I don't think that argument could be very persuasive.
Davidson - If the Cats stay unbeaten in regular season conference play, I'd give them a free pass in the conference tournament.
West Virginia - Mountaineers are sliding towards the bubble but remain in for now.
Virginia Commonwealth - I think a lot of teams on the bubble should root for the Rams.
Dayton - Some of the Flyers struggles are explained by some injury issues.
Ohio State - Buckeyes have been mediocre enough to stay away from real question.
Rhode Island - Rams won't be given free pass in the room, but they have to get in.
So that leaves us with 12 slots. Some of which probably won't be available because of a surprise in the conference tournaments. But here are the teams that are fighting for the spots that remain as of now.
BYU, Mississippi, Maryland, Syracuse, Oklahoma, NC State, UNLV, South Alabama, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Florida, Baylor, St. Joseph's, Massachusetts, Oregon, Arizona State - are the 16 teams that I would consider for the last slot. I'm going to quickly say that both UNLV and BYU deserve to be in the field and with one of them getting the Mountain West bid, we're left with 14 teams and 11 bids. Let's also give the Sun Belt automatic to South Alabama - who probably gets in either way, and we're left with 13 teams for 11 slots.
Mississippi - The Rebels are in the field courtesy of their early season success and their performance in the SEC.
Maryland - The Terps will be one of those teams sweating out the performances in the Mid-Major tournaments.
Syracuse - A win at South Florida and the Orange would have been just about lock status, now they are one of the last few in. Road games at Notre Dame and Louisville this week, and they might need a win to secure status.
Oklahoma - Not a lot of great wins to the Sooner resume. A couple of mid-level wins over Arkansas, Gonzaga, West Virginia and Baylor is enough to earn inclusion.
NC State - Wolfpack loss at Boston College was the final straw, and didn't respond with the bounce back needed yesterday versus Clemson.
Mississippi State - The Bulldogs are getting things done in the SEC at 8-2. Sort of a cheaper version of Purdue.
Arkansas - Hogs have enough strength in the resume to survive a pair of SEC losses this week.
Florida - If we're picking between the two-time defending champ and someone else for the final slot, the Gators are going to get it.
Baylor - Three game losing streaks have a way of killing hopes but the Bears did enough building early to sustain that.
St. Joseph's - Probably can get away with two more losses down the stretch in the A-10, but I wouldn't want to push it past there.
I think the last three teams are really fighting for the last two spots in my bracket.
Massachusetts - The Minutemen keep on sliding and at below .500 in the Atlantic 10 they are hard to recommend. Playing as we speak against St. Louis.
Oregon - The Ducks have played a very tough schedule. My problem with Oregon is they haven't won many of those tough games.
Arizona State - As soon as you are ready to punch the Devils ticket after another win over Arizona and one over Stanford, they fall at home to California.
I'll take the Pac-10 in both cases to complete the field. Arizona State has the best total resume of the three and UMASS and Oregon are very similar. Therefore, I'll take Oregon's Strength of Schedule.
I omitted USC earlier, so that means it comes down to Oregon and Arizona State fighting for one last spot. I'd take the Sun Devils at this juncture.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Round One: A fairly cautious start. Pavlik landed a big right hand with about 1 minute left in the round. Taylor caught Pavlik shortly thereafter. More work and and more damage from Pavlik for the round. I'll give the round to him.
Round Two: Definitely a better round for Taylor. He was more aggressive and hit Pavlik cleanly a few times. Not sure it hurt the champ, but they were clean and hard punches in a round that was won by Taylor.
Round Three: There wasn't a lot to seperate the two early in the round. But Taylor clearly landed the bigger and cleaner punches late. That had to make it his round.
Round Four: Pavlik did a better job of defending against Taylor's counterpounching until the last minute of the round. Taylor landed with a nice right late in the round. Pavlik is landing some jabs but not really taking control of things. That round was pretty much even. But I think Taylor may have stolen it late.
Round Five: Some mutual respect at the end of the round. Pavlik won the early part of the round with some straight rights and the more aggressive fighting. Taylor had some solid punches later in the round. But this one goes to the champ.
Round Six: A lot of close rounds thus far. This one no exception. Loser will probably be disappointed with decision. Pavlik seems more aggressive and throws more punches. But Taylor lands more power punches. I gave that round to Bad Intentions.
Round Seven: Taylor is making an effort to work the body a bit more now. He is fighting a smarter fight than the last time around. This is starting to work in his favor I believe. But that round was another close one.
Round Eight: That seemed better for Pavlik. He avoided most of Taylor's counters. Plus he seemed to catch Taylor flush right before the bell. I think that round with Pavlik being the aggressor clearly went to the champ.
Round Nine: Pavlik let his hands go more freely there, and scored more often as a result. A stiff left hand from Taylor near the completion was the only thing that got in Pavlik's way. This fight is getting very close on my card.
Round Ten: Taylor was much more into the action that round. He landed a few solid punches on Pavlik. Many of Pavlik's blows were deflected or landed on Taylor's arms. Again I'll go with the quality of Taylor's attacks.
Round Eleven: Pavlik got after Taylor late and may have hurt him a little bit. But it was nothing major. Still Pavlik avoided most of Taylor's punching activity and the round had to go to Kelly.
Round Twelve: Both fighters react with admiration for the other after the conclusion of the final round, which I think Pavlik won. I've got it a draw. But I think Kelly Pavlik will win based on all the close rounds.
Scorecards: Pavlik is the winner by unanimous decision. I'm not totally surprised despite the way I saw things during the fight. Pavlik was never hurt and even though Taylor was clean with some punches, Pavlik was the aggressor. It was a decent fight, between two very professional fighters. Time for them both to move onto something else.
The Mount downed Quinnipiac and Syracuse topped Georgetown.
Good wins for both and with extreme importance in both cases.
The win for the Mount gives is a lifeline to a home game in the first round of the NEC tournament. For the Orange, its a lifeline to the NCAA tournament.
The Mount is now 1/2 game behind the Bobcats for that final first round home game. The Mount has three games left in the NEC. The Mount travels to Western PA next weekend to take on Robert Morris and St. Francis (PA). The following weekend the Mount completes the three-game set at home versus Monmouth. QU still has four games to play and does have a tough foursome to play. QU plays Monmouth and Sacred Heart in Hamden before traveling to both Central Connecticut and Wagner.
Now for this game. The Mount controlled things almost from the outset. Jeremy Goode was quick out of the gates, scoring nine of the first 14 Mountaineer points. But his defenseive effort on QU standout Demario Anderson set the tone for the entire night. The much smaller good denied Anderson the basketball, and when the Bobcats tried to post him up, the Mount interior defense provided all the help it needed. Great team effort. Anderson ended up getting his points. But he wasn't really a factor. He scored 23 on 8-fo-20 from the floor, but again, the defensive effort really seemed to bother him and his teammates.
Goode led the Mount with 21 points, while Chris Vann had 20, including some key three-pointers. Goode also had six assists, while Vann grabbed a career high 8 rebounds. Markus Mitchell was also in double figures for the Mount and had a key offensive rebound basket late in the game to help preserve the win.
The Mount also got some solid performances off the bench as Kelly Beidler (7 points, 5 rebounds), Jean Cajou (7 points), and Shawn Atupem (6 points) continued to contribute solid minutes.
For much of the game it seemed as if the Mount should have been increasing its lead, and had it been better from the foul line (16-24 in the end) early, it might have stretched the lead earlier. Yet they couldn't shake Quinnipiac. Yet in the end, the Mount made the plays it needed to and came away with the good win.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Sacred Heart currently leads the league with an 11-2 record, while Robert Morris and Wagner are each 1/2 game behind at 10-2. The Pioneers do have a Thursday night matchup at Wagner and then play later in the month versus Robert Morris. Robert Morris does host Wagner on the 23rd. If one of the teams is to sweep its two games, it is likely to win the regular season crown and secure the top seed in the conference tournament. If the team that wins the regular season crown fails to win the conference tournament, they do earn an NIT bid.
All of these teams could have a chance to win an opening round NIT game. Robert Morris already owns a win over Boston College, and lost in overtime at Seton Hall, two potential NIT teams. Sacred Heart struggled mightily in the preseason, but did lose at BC and Providence by 5, and beat perennial postseason participant Holy Cross. Meanwhile, Wagner is under the tutelage of Mike Deane who has taken four teams to the NIT.
With all teams possessing RPI's above 100, it doesn't seem likely they'd get a very good seed if advancing to the NCAA tournament. Therefore, getting the NEC its first win outside of a play-in game is unlikely, but the teams could be a difficult out in the NIT.
Team of the Week (or since we last wrote): Robert Morris has won four games in a row in the last two weeks, three by double figures including a 95-45 pasting of Fairleigh Dickinson last week. AJ Jackson and Jeremy Chappell have been key components to the Colonials late season charge. Jackson has been in double figures 8 straight times and has only scored in single digits twice. Chappell, who seems to make all the big shots, has an average efficiency of 18 a game and is a factor on both ends of the floor. His 2.5 steals per game is tied for third in the league with Mt. St. Mary's Jeremy Goode.
No longer a threat: We could have easily talked about Quinnipiac among the top teams in the conference, if the Bobcats hadn't lost their last two games to fall to 8-4. Now the Bobcats must hold off Central Connecticut and Mt. St. Mary's for the fourth slot in the conference standings just to secure a first round home game, and the Bobcats play four of their last six on the road, after losing twice by double figures at home last week.
Hot at the right time: Wagner's Mark Porter is playing as well as everyone in the league right now. He helped the Seahawks win three times in four games over the last two weeks by averaging 21.3 points during the stretch, including a 25-point overtime performance in Emmitsburg last week. He followed that up with an 18-point 8-assist night in the overtime win over Quinnipiac last night. He played 89 of the 90 minutes in those games as he is the true leader for the Seahawks.
Monday, February 11, 2008
It is speculation on my part, but I'll go with C. Seems more and more likely that Robinson will put himself back in charge of the defense and let Mitch Browning control the offense.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
The Tigers had opportunities at the last shot at the end of regulation and the first overtime to win the game. However, they could not convert. Eventually the depth and momentum for North Carolina was too much in the second overtime and came away with the 103-93 win.
This was North Carolina's second win in overtime versus Clemson this season.
But seriously, Clemson has never won in Chapel Hill and if they didn't win tonight, how are they ever going to win. The Tigers didn't trail the whole regulation. Carolina actually took its first lead in the first overtime. The Tigers had double digit leads most of the night and just let it get away.
Reality is now that they never win in Chapel Hill.
5 Weeks until I am no longer important and the committee let's us know exactly who will be in tournament. Not the teams that I think should be included.
But since it's five weeks away, let's look at who I think should be included. These are the teams that I think would get in if we picked the teams today. One thing I am noticing is that there seems to be more seperation of teams, so I'll focus more on the final teams fighting for the last spots today than I have in past weeks. Right now, I have 40 teams that I feel can't be ignored on Selection Day. They represent 13 conferences, so assuming they win the automatic bids from their conferences, then those 40 teams take up only 27 of the 34 at-large bids.
The first group of teams are those that I don't think need any explanation for inclusion....
Duke, Kansas, Memphis, UCLA, North Carolina, Georgetown, Tennessee, Stanford, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Drake, Texas, Xavier, Connecticut, Indiana, Marquette, Washington State, Arizona, Butler, Texas A&M, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Louisville, Gonzaga, Pitt and St. Mary's
Then I've got this group of teams that might be debated but ultimately have to be included
Vanderbilt - RPI is too high to ignore; good thing they won at South Carolina though
Clemson - A win at Duke tonight wouldn't hurt things
Davidson - A perfect regular season in the Southern conference should be a guarantee
Dayton - Another one of those high RPI's that is struggling
West Virginia - Seem to be playing their way onto the bubble.
Virginia Commonwealth - Commodores might not have to win CAA tournament
Massachusetts - Big win over URI this week secured status
Mississippi - Rebels aren't headed in the right direction, but they are in
Oklahoma - Sooners doing just enough
Arkansas - Hogs are fairly dangerous in the SEC
USC - Split in Washington keeps them included
Rhode Island - Had they not rallied in second half versus Fordham, they might not be here
St. Joseph's - The Hawk will never die, but they better beat Temple this week
Ohio State - Buckeyes are highly mediocre, but highly rated enough
So that leaves us with seven slots. I've found a pretty big pool for those slots, teams that are deserving of the consideration.
Here is my bubble today: Oregon, Syracuse, Baylor, Maryland, BYU, UNLV, Purdue, Florida, Creighton, California, Kent State, Charlotte, UNC Asheville, South Alabama, Seton Hall, NC State, Mississippi State.
Let's shrink the bubble a little bit, let's give automatic bids to either BYU or UNLV, Kent State, UNC Asheville and South Alabama. Then let's go ahead and include BYU or UNLV as one of the final teams in.
So we are left with six slots and 12 bubble teams.
Oregon - The Ducks are 14-9. That's 14-9. It is a pretty difficult schedule they've played, but it's 14-9. A lot of questionable losses to mediocre teams. I can't include them.
Syracuse - The Orange doesn't have a real good record versus tournament teams. But they don't have the bad losses they suffered last year. At least they don't have home losses to non-tournament teams. I think that is the difference. They are one of the last teams in.
Baylor - At 17-5 the Bears seem to be a lock record wise. But they don't have that major signature win. They do own a good win over Notre Dame early, and the 5 OT thriller with A&M. Among this group we're picking from they are easy to put in.
Maryland - I'm not sure to do with the Terps. They are hot. They've won 10 of 12, including the upset of North Carolina. However, the total picture shows 5 losses to non-NCAA teams, and only two wins among them. They are on the bubble, but certainly rising, and my final team in or out.
Purdue - The Boilermakers are the Big Ten leader. So the Boilers can't possibly be on the bubble can they? Well???? The problem is there is only one win against a Top 100 conference foe, and there are two losses to teams outside of the top 100. From this group, they were my first team off of the bubble and in.
Florida - The two-time defending champ doesn't have a lot of marquee stuff on the resume. Not a lot of substance that the committee is looking for. But at 19-5, we'll give them a chance for a third straight title.
Creighton - Blue Jays are worthy of consderation at this point. But five conference losses in the MVC is too much to overcome right now.
California - For me the Bears are a cheaper version of Oregon. So I've got them out.
Charlotte - The 49ers have some good wins within the A-10. But they are going to need a few more in the conference tournament for me to include them.
Seton Hall - Pirates poor display against Notre Dame cost them a bid. They had some momentum up until then. Let's see if they can regain it.
NC State - Despite the loss to Maryland yesterday, the Wolfpack still has the numbers to get in. The RPI is getting dangerous at 45, but the SOS helps at 31
Mississippi State - My dilemmna is this Bulldog team or the aforementioned Terrapins. The teams have similar paths to this point. Struggled early and have gotten hot lately, during conference play. I'm not sure I agree with it, but the ACC conference RPI is much higher than the SEC, so the bid has to goto Maryland.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
The remainder of this post is clearly speculation on my part....
How it fits for Wake Forest:
Russ played for Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe at Air Force. He's been a fairly succesful position coach at Ohio University and Syracuse. He also has one year of experience as the defensive coordinator at Syracuse. That was not a very succesful year for the Orange defense. I think he will be a very good position coach for the Deacons and fit in with one of the better coaching staffs in college football.
How it fits for Syracuse:
It certainly doesn't make sense. Why would a coordinator leave for a position coaching job at a lateral school? A couple of possibilities exist. But the one that I think is most likely is this. Greg Robinson has a lot of respect for Steve Russ. But Greg Robinson wanted control of the defense at Syracuse again. So instead of firing the coordinator, as he did with offensive coordinator Brian White. He told Russ, take your time, find yourself another job. Or if you'd like you can stay on as the linebackers coach. But I'm controlling the defense next year. So when Russ had this opportunity he took it. I don't think the Orange hires another defensive coordinator. Since Robinson has his guy, Mitch Browning to run the offense, I think he feels he can resume his duties as defensive coordinator. Therefore, he just needs a linebackers coach. Expect that hire to be announced within the next few weeks.
Kelly Beidler passed up looks on the first two threes finding Will Holland and then Chris Vann for the open looks. Vann buried the third one as the shot clock was expiring off a feed from Jeremy Goode from about 25 feet to secure the victory.
The win pushes the Mount back over 500 in NEC play at 7-6 and in sixth place, one game behind Central Connecticut State, who has been very good of late.
It wasn't the best of wins for the Mount, but it was a much needed one. Monmouth is now 2-10 in the league and played without its leading scorer in Jhamar Youngblood.
The Mounties were very balanced offensively as Goode finished with 15 and despite shooting poorly early Chris Vann made three crucial treys late to finish with 15 as well. Vann's first three broke a 52-all tie. Holland also got into double figures and finished with 11 with some key foul shots.
Shawn Atupem played very well in extended minutes off the bench, and makes you wish he wouldn't have fouled out with 16 minutes to go in Thursday night's overtime loss to Wagner. Atupem has been getting better all season long, and had a huge dunk in traffic among his 10 points tonight.
The Mount led by nine in the first half but saw that lead get away and had to rally for the win in the second half. As I mentioned earlier it wasn't the prettiest of wins. But its a win, and the Mount needed it and will take it.
You may want to check some of the final numbers, as I couldn't find a box score, but I think they are pretty accurate.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Russ who served on the Syracuse staff since Greg Robinson arrived three years was expected to be named to Jim Grobe's defensive staff at Wake Forest. Russ apparently is ticketed to replace outgoing Wake Forest defensive coordinator Dean Hood who left to become the coach at Eastern Kentucky.
I think it really talks about the state of the Orange program, and the job security that the coaching staff feels, when a coach will leave the Syracuse football program for the Wake Forest program at a lateral position.
Russ seemed to be one of the positive recruiters on the Syracuse staff and had helped secure several players from Ohio including Delone Carter, Ryan Gillum and Trey Fairchild.
Still after serving as linebackers coach for two years, his transition to the defensive coordinator spot wasn't a smooth one. You also have to wonder how much total control he had of the unit, and how much that influenced his decision.
The obvious question now becomes, who replaces Russ? I wouldn't expect Syracuse to replace Russ from within. Nor would I expect Greg Robinson to retake the defensive coordinator duties.
I'm sure in the coming days there will be some names that surface. We'll try to keep you informed.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
It was how the 83-75 overtime defeat occured.
The Mount led by as many as 19 in the first half, 11 at intermission, 14 early in the second half, and seven at 60-53 with less than 5 minutes to play, yet couldn't finish off the Seahawks.
The Mounties started incredibly hot from the floor and led 26-11, 10 minutes in. Chris Vann and Will Holland both made a couple of early long range jumpers as the Mount pushed the pace.
Jeremy Goode led the Mount with 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. Yet he really struggled from the floor and finished just 4-of-17. Vann also knocked in 15, while Holland finished with 14 including a three with 17 seconds left to force overtime. But his jumper at the buzzer was blocked.
Wagner with Dorell Vinson and James Ulrich controlled the boards and got countless second chance points. Mark Porter took over the game in the second half and finished with a game-high 25.
The two Gettysburg athletes, Storm Woerner and Zac Michael, who both signed Letters of Intent, to continue their football careers at Wagner yesterday were in attendance.
The Mount is at Monmouth on Saturday night.
Logan Shultz saw his offer to Boston College disappear when he didn't make a decision early. He ended up at Delaware. He's a good player, and this might end up being the best fit for him.
Storm Woerner and Zach Michael have both signed on at Wagner to play. Maybe they'll be at the Mount tonight to root for the Seahawks. Seems like a perfect for them.
Tony Spangler has decided to continue his career at Clarion according to my sources. Seems like another good fit for the lineman, who will need to add some weight to play at that level.
If you got the chance to see the Warriors play this fall you know this group is highly talented and can compete at the next level. Good luck to all of them.
Adam Michael has the story in the Gettysburg Times today.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Steal and a big dunk from Paul Harris. He comes to play in games like this. Jim Calhoun calls a timeout immediately. A four point Orange lead.
Amazing that both coaches enter with the same amount of wins at 766. Of course, Calhoun has coached four more seasons.
How bout Terrelle Pryor? To me the whole thing bodes well for Penn State. They seemed to be out of it recently, but now are back in it apparently. And the same with Oregon. The Ducks were out of it last night according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but now both the Ducks and the Nittany Lions are in the running. Maybe.
I like Dave O'Brien quite a bit. Not a huge fan of Doris Burke. But I think she does better as the color commentator than as a sideline reporter.
If you're an Orange fan you've got to like the way this thing is shaping up. Syracuse is functioning offensively getting everyone involved. I'm a bit concerned about the defensive rebounding. The Huskies are getting on the glass, and that has been a problem in SU losses all season.
Offense has made a few mistakes and had a few shots rattle out and all of a sudden the Orange is down three.
Thabeet is having a huge impact on this game. Not only is he blocking shots, but he is affecting some other ones as well. I'd rather see them blocked then changed. Because when they are altered, players are thinking about it. Just shoot it.
Big steal and layup to end the first half by Jonny Flynn, who played very well in the first half. Syracuse leads by three at intermission. The player of the first half for the Orange was Paul Harris. He was the best player on the floor. I think Donte Greene will be very important in the second half.
The UCONN defense has made a big difference at the start of the second half. They lead by three as Thabeet and now Adrien seem to blocking everything. But I am sick of that kid behind the UCONN bench.
Offensive rebounds for the Huskies right now a killer. Can't give them multiple chances.
This has been a real exciting game. UCONN leads by two with 7:26 left. The Orange again bothered by Thabeet inside. They just have to shoot the ball and if he blocks it, he blocks it.
Okay that one he blocked.
Syracuse is down 7, they need a bucket desperately. Donte Greene is fouled. Onuaku was very tentative on the low block there. Afraid of getting a shot blocked obviously. That is the impact that Thabeet is having. Very Frustrating.
For all the good that Donte Greene does, he really takes some dumb shots. UCONN is making plays and Syracuse isn't. This is where the youth really hurts. A 9-0 run for UCONN and they lead by that margin. It's all but over as Greene misses again.
How good is Notre Dame? They are absolutely laying the wood to Seton Hall at the Rock.
Real cool, I'm knocking the kid behind the UCONN bench and now they are telling his courageous story to live. Makes me feel like a real chump.
Great execution (Doris agreed) by UCONN to push it back to nine. Flynn hits for three at the other end. I think I've seen enough basketball for tonight. So much for watching Carolina-Duke. I'm going to watch USA-Mexico from Houston I think.
I do remember a time Duke-Carolina were 1/2 during my days at the 'Cuse and it wasn't on TV. Or it was on ESPN2 and we didn't get that on the cable. So we did the only reasonable thing, we went to Tully's. It ended up a 20 point game. I could see that happening tonight.
No quit in the Orange. Harris with a three. Let me repeat. Harris with a three. The Orange within four.
Not sure why we just fouled here. Run the clock down 15 seconds or so and then foul.
I remember other trips to Tully's, when the Clippers were on that monumental 20 game losing streak or whatever it was. A roommate and I made a pact to watch every Clippers game til they won. So we went to Tully's a lot. Finally they won, with one camera in the building, and somehow the guy at Tully's found it on the satellite. But literally it was one camera, and the only way we got the score was when he shot the scoreboard. True Story.
I miss Tully's. All the way Around.
We keep fighting. Thank goodness for the kids from Buffalo. Flynn knocks down another three and all of a sudden we are down two. 42 ticks left. I think we have to foul. But I'd prefer we not foul Austrie.
Jump Ball and that is ours.
Are you kidding me? I still don't agree with not fouling. There wasn't enough time, even if we got the rebound. But lets see if we can score in 2.3 seconds. Do we have a timeout?
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Italicized players have confirmed their commitment with a Letter of Intent. - Also good that we no longer need to worry about Vaughan and Nassib. No surprises yet. Let's keep it that way unless someone unexpected wants to show up.
Syracuse's Greg Robinson is hoping that he gets a few of the great ones, and enough of the good ones to make a difference in the Big East. Oh, and keep his job as well.
By all accounts the Orange has convinced enough kids to sign with them tommorrow, most of the top recruits have already pledged their commitments to a school. But there is still a lot of recruiting going on tonight. As a coach you are hoping you can land that last undecided player, and keep the neighboring rival from stealing the commitments you've already gathered.
Syracuse has 25 commitments lined up (some are already on campus - so they may or may not count to that 25 signing limit) but they might sneak one or two more in, depending on how the next 24 hours falls.
Here are the 25 committments that Orange will be sitting by the fax machine waiting for a signature from tommorrow.
I list them by order of committment:
Romale Tucker - Tucker was one of those guys who jumped to Syracuse last year, from Virginia, on or around signing day. He's spent time at Milford Prep since then, and many expected the LB/DE to arrive on campus after Christmas. He hasn't made it yet. There is still hope for him to arrive in the fall. If he does, he could see the field quickly.
Ryan Nassib - This year's quarterback recruit. Was lightly sought after after his junior season, but had a fine senior campaign at Malvern Prep. That brought some interest, and some wavering. But he seems committed to the Orange, and could win a few games for the Orange. Everybody will feel better when the letter arrives.
Michael Kay - Syracuse needs to improve on the offensive line. This guard from the Washington DC metro area could fit the bill. Good size at 6-3, 285 he projects as a guard and was another early commit for the Orange.
Trey Fairchild - Somewhat smallish wide receiver from Ohio, but quite a talent when you watch his film. Has good hands, good speed and the ability to make plays. Might do his best work in the slot at this level.
Carl Cutler - Interesting recruit out of New Hampshire. You expect the staff will use him as an H-back, fullback type, in the role of Tony Fiammeta. Has good hands and is a tough kid who played tight end in high school. Don't think he has the size to do that here, but you never know. He's got the heart to be better than you'd expect.
Grant Mayes - A tough corner with good speed out of New Jersey. He seems to have great coverage ability and good football sense. Yet sometimes his speed (10.8 track 100) doesn't seem to translate to the football field. Chose Syracuse over Big East mate Cincinnati, Illinois, Michigan State and Temple.
Matt Jones - The first of the impressive New York state haul to commit to wear Orange. He led the way. Smallish defensive end from Rochester with the body to grow into. Good athlete, good speed.
Nick Lepak - Big, very big, kid from nearby Auburn. 6-4, 336 pounds will play on the interior lineman. May be that big strong defensive tackle to plug against the run, or he may become an offensive lineman. Have to wait and see what the staff has in mind.
Chandler Jones - He joins big brother Arthur with the Orange. If he's half as good as the big brother, he'll be just fine. Great size at 6-6 and a little more speed than Arthur. He'll likely line up outside his brother defensively. But there is also talk about making a TE out of him.
Antwon Bailey - The lack of size doesn't bother me as much with the runner from St. John's College in DC as much as the lack of breakaway speed. Still everytime I watch him, I'm reminded of another small back who nobody wanted that did pretty well for the Orange. The Mack Truck Malcolm Thomas has a pretty nice career. Just give Bailey #17 and let him do his thing.
Dorian Graham - Speaking of Malcolm Thomas, recruits out of Florida can never be a bad thing. Graham chose the Orange over Minnesota, Duke, and Air Force. Great kid, great student, who can't wait to get his Orange on. Will likely play safety for the Orange.
DeAndre Preaster - His athletic skills are phenomenal from Proctor High in nearby Utica. He'll likely be a wide receiver, and a good one, if he makes it to campus. There is some concern about his ability to get eligible and he's likely to need a year of prep school.
David Stevens - Orange needs a pass catching threat at tight end. Stevens could be that. The 6-4 receiver from New Jersey had an offer from Purdue before picking Syracuse.
Ian Allport - Another big body for the staff to work with on the offensive line. He's not polished but that is what the coaching is for. SU hopes they can make a solid tackle out of him. Another NY kid from nearby Pulaski.
Corey Boatman - Another DC metro kid who looks good getting to the Quarterback from his defensive tackle slot. Picked the Orange over Cincy and Rutgers.
Shane Kimmel - Orange liked what they saw in this linebacker from Council Rock North outside of Philly. Lightly recruited, we'll see.
Nick Speller - He's an interesting case since he didn't play his senior year. That likely kept from people away. When you are 2-10 you take these type of chances with good bodies and potential. Speller has both.
Tyrell Harris - The cornerback from central PA comes along with his teammate Mike Jones. He had a lot of interest but not a lot of offers.
Mike Jones - Running back/defensive back potential who made a ton of big plays in the mid-states best conference. I'm not sold on his ability to get the tough yards at this level. But in the open field, he's phenomenal.
Marcus Sales - Wide receiver from CBA in Syracuse stayed home to help the rebuilding project. He's a big-time prospect who could see the field soon.
Averin Collier - Probably could have gone anywhere if he wanted to play defense. He wants to run the ball. Syracuse may give him the chance and soon. Another prime prospect from upstate New York, who chose to stay home.
Mikhail Marinovich - Yes, that Marinovich. The younger brother of Todd, is big 6-6 and fast. He spent a year at Milford. He could play defensive end or tight end at this level. With a year at prep school under his belt, he's a year ahead of some.
Jeremiah Harden - Graham's teammate, is a solid runner who might have a bit more speed then Bailey but isn't quite built the same. Still another recruit from Florida who could help the Orange somewhere if he doesn't end up carrying the pigskin.
Dan Vaughan - I'm anxiously waiting his LOI to arrive. For two reasons, one I think he could really contribute at the linebacking position over the next five years. But more importantly, he wasn't real firm when he first committed. Then I'm hearing that Michigan State might be involved late. Waiting anxiously by the fax.
Jarel Lowery - A big body from New Jersey who has great potential. Late signee and he may have some academic issues. But he might be well served from a development standpoint to go the prep route anyhow.
I'm hearing there is still room for one. And if Terrelle Pryor goes to Michigan and not Ohio State. But I think he's a Buckeye, then that scholarship could goto Justin Feagin from Delray Beach in Florida. Feagin has committed to Michigan but the word we're hearing is he doesn't have an offer if Pryor signs.
If it isn't Feagin it seems like it maybe Dawan Nolton, who seems to be waiting for something. That something might be the Syracuse offer that could come at the last minute if the Orange doesn't get whoever else it is they might want.
By tommorrow night at this time we should know exactly who has signed. Now whether or not they turn into good or great players, well that we'll have to wait quite a little longer for.
Monday, February 04, 2008
Syracuse is currently squarely on the bubble, but yet seems to sitting on the right side of the bubble in most online bracket renditions. A loss on Saturday certainly could have changed that.
Obviously, there is a lot of basketball to played in the next six weeks, and Syracuse's fate will likely swing back and forth plenty of times between now and then. It certainly has already this season.
Still, I think that Saturday's win is one that will go a long way towards helping the Orange get a berth. Here's my justification for that logic. As it currently sits, Villanova isn't a tournament team. The 'Cats aren't even as much as a true bubble team right now in my estimation. So if that continues, two losses to a non-contender would have been a huge strike against the Orange if the committee was choosing between the Orange and someone else on that Sunday.
If 'Nova plays its way back into contention, and a win against St. Joseph's tonight would be a start, then all of a sudden the Cats and the Orange will be compared side-by-side. Syracuse has a lot in its favor when these resumes are looked at. A higher RPI, a tougher schedule, etc. But if they had to compare the two and 'Nova owned two wins in two tries versus the Orange, you'd have to like 'Nova's chance to get the bid. Now with the split and the other factors in SU's favor (at the moment) you'd have to like the Orange.
Syracuse already has some losses to other bubble teams, UMASS & Rhode Island, so they could ill-afford another situation where head-to-head competition would go in favor of the opposition. That is why, beyond the stroke in the win column, Saturday's win was so important come tourney decision time.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
The Super Bowl edition of the Selection Sunday special. I've got 41 teams that I would think have to be included in the tournament if it ended today. Of those 41 teams there are 14 different conferences represented. So that would mean that I've accounted for the first 27 at-large bids. Then I'd have 7 more at-large bids to determine.
Here are the teams that I don't believe could be argued at this point.
Duke, Memphis, Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Michigan State, Drake, Stanford, Marquette, Texas, Xavier
, Indiana, Washington State, Arizona, Connecticut, Kansas State, Butler, Gonzaga, Texas A&M, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, St. Mary's, USC, Mississippi
Now the teams that I think are just about guaranteed yet could be open for some discussion.
Vanderbilt - Commodores way too high in the RPI to be ignored.
Dayton - Injury bug has hit the Flyers hard. Therefore, some of the struggles are explained and excused.
Louisville - Cardinals are playing better than in December and are inching their way towards lock status.
Virginia Commonwealth University - The Rams would be well served to win the CAA conference tournament to avoid any discussion. But if the discussion occured they deserve to get in.
Davidson - More and more convinced every day that this tournament can't happen without them.
Clemson - Tigers are the third team from the ACC to get in. Not a lot of depth there is there?
Illinois State - Each week it is the same. Let's change the theme this week. Redbirds deserve to get in on their own merits, not the fact that the Valley deserves multiple bids.
UNLV - Rebels can get a bubble team in by winning the Mountain postseason gathering. Either way they dance.
Rhode Island - Rams haven't kicked bid away yet.
Oklahoma - Sooners split a pair of games this week, but its bid remains in tact.
St. Joseph's - Hawks get a chance to prove it this week. Tomorrow night versus a freefalling Villanova, then road contests at Duquesne and Xavier. 2-1 should suffice.
Massachusetts - Minutemen can't afford any more bad losses. Saint Louis certainly qualifies. Because the reality of five teams from the Atlantic 10 is tough to imagine. But right now they deserve to be in.
Arkansas - Hogs had a big week with big wins over Mississippi State and Florida. That and 16-5 record is enough to include them.
So that leaves us with seven spots left. Here are the teams we feel deserve consideration for thos seven slots.
A whole host of teams, 13 in all that I think folks would consider for those final 7 spots in the tournament. Right now, I think Purdue, Ohio State, Baylor and Syracuse have to be in the field. So that leaves 9 teams fighting for 3 spots. Nobody can believe the ACC can only be worth three teams so everybody throws forth everyone's name as a contender. Maryland, NC State, Virginia Tech, and Miami continue to show up in bracket projections round the country. So that is five of the nine. Florida and Mississippi State are both worthy candidates out of the SEC, but certainly don't have momentum on their side. The other two teams are both headed in the right direction, BYU and Seton Hall are playing good basketball right now. I'll take both of them and pair NC State up with them to complete my field.
Robert Morris was clearly the better team last night. Anytime you outrebound someone 42-24 you are going to win the game. You just can't get that many more chances and not be succesful.
Hindsight always gives you the clearest perspective. But we should have seen this coming. Yes the Mount played well for the three games prior, but they were so good against St. Francis NY, that you had to expect a bounce of some sort. Couple that with the fact that RMU was not very good on the road on Thursday at Monmouth and it all makes sense.
We told you the Colonials were vastly improved defensively. We expected to see that. But we didn't expect the rebounding margin. For the record, the Mount went better than 11 minutes without a bucket - spanning the two halves. Some of it was missing open shots that normally go in. Some of it wss having guys who don't usually have to take shots, being the guy having to take the open shots. Credit the Colonials with that.
If you're a Mount fan and you've ever had a conversation with me about the Mount, we've probably discussed the substitution patterns of head coach Milan Brown. There were two times on Saturday night, where I just didn't get the need for a substitute, let alone the wholesale substitution that came. There was one swap midway through the first half, that was closely followed by the scoring drought. There was another in the second half, after the Mount had heated up again with a mini-run and it appeared as if they might be finding their way back into the game. All of a sudden four starters were on the bench, Chappell hit a dagger three for the Colonials, and the game was for all intents and purposes over.
Here is something I probably couldn't have said last night. The Mount never quit. Despite the fact that they were down by close to 20 in the second half, they relentlessy battled. And even had a chance to cut it to 7 with just over two minutes to play, but Jeremy Goode missed a layup. There was a time in the second half, where I thought the team looked beaten and I considered leaving. But there was also a time where I thought, they didn't lose tonight, they just ran out of time in the comeback.
Syracuse plays Connecticut followed by Duke and North Carolina on Wednesday night. Those two matchups won't be anymore intense than what we saw on the floor Saturday night. These are two teams that don't like each other. Mike Rice is a Patsos junior. Both teams scrap and claw at the defensive end. This had developed into a pretty good rivalry because of some NEC tournament upsets on the opposistion's floors.
Good crowd at the Knott Arena. Not sure where they'd fit the extra thousand or so that capacity says could get in the gym. Student section effort was better than Thursday night. But needs some work. Too many people left with a voice intact.
Tony Lee is the type of player that as an opposing fan or player you hate. He plays like a thug and never shuts up. With that said, he's also the type of player that you love to have on your team. Because he plays like a thug, never shuts up, and backs it up. Reminds me a lot of Carl Krauser and how I felt about him the last few years.
The performances from Jean Cajou and Kelly Beidler off of the bench were pretty good. Cajou seems to have found a jump shot and knocked down a couple of long range bombs. Without looking, I think its his third straight game with a troika, after starting the season 1-for-a-bunch from behind the arc. Beidler is as athletic as they come, but he has seemed more polished and smooth the last few appearances.
Wagner, and I'm sure a pissed off Wagner (CCSU thumped them on Saturday) comes to the ARCC on Thursday night. This has the makings of being a very good game. The Mount needs a win to stay in fifth place and keep the pressure on for a potential first round playoff home game. But more importantly they need to win to regain some confidence. Saturday night had to take something out of them.
Saturday, February 02, 2008
Mount Saint Mary's was really no match for Robert Morris on Saturday night in its own gym. The Colonial held the Mount without a field goal for what seemed like an eternity -- probably about 11 or 12 minutes in reality -- spanning the end of the first half and the start of the second half and came away with a key 75-63 win in Northeast Conference play. Check out the recap at Colonials Corner.
I don't really have too much nice to say right now. I'll see if I can't muster up some thoughts tomorrow.
The University is not stating whether or not Jardine will play versus the Wildcats. The freshman guard from Philadelphia has missed the last two games due to his involvment in the use of a found student ID to order food from Campus Delivery. Jardine's 40-year old cousin has been charged with the crime.
Confirmation from the main stream media comes here
As I stated yesterday all indications are that the case has been resolved and Jardine will return to the floor soon. I expect that to be in 5 hours in Philadelphia.
Friday, February 01, 2008
From that point forward the Mount was nothing short of spectacular as it drilled St. Francis of NY 97-60 at the Knott Arena in Northeast Conference play on Thursday evening.
The Mount scored 1.3 points a possesion and forced the offensive action as it got tremendous performances from just about everyone in the whitewash.
Sophomore guard Jeremy Goode led the way with 18 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds.
The Mount shot the Terriers out of an early 2-3 zone, by hitting four three pointers in the first five possessions. Holland buried two in the run, while Chris Vann and Kelly Beidler each had a trifecta of their own.
Vann finished with 17, while Holland knocked in 16. Beidler added 14 in a tremendously effective performance. The sophomore made 6-of-8 shots from the floor, including two three-pointers, grabbed four rebounds and added a block and a steal in 29 minutes.
Also impressive was the play of freshman Shawn Atupem who notched career highs in both points and rebounds. He tallied 12 and 6 on the night. Atupem has had moments in his freshman season, but this was clearly his best all-around consistent effort of the season.
The Mount shot a sensational 58% and made 11-of-20 from long distance, while holding the Terriers to 34%.
The difference between this Mountaineer team and the team we saw in their last Knott Arena performance was the pace of the offense. Pushing the ball up the floor allows Goode to be at his best. He needs to be careful with his turnovers, and he did commit four, but the pace of the game makes this offense so much better. Playing like this it is hard to imagine them not being succesful against every Northeast Conference team.
The test will come tomorrow night against Robert Morris. The Colonials are a team that has apparently improved its defense and has a lot of offensive talent. It will be interesting to see RMC at Knott Arena for the first time under head coach Mike Rice.
There is a lot at stake in the Northeast Conference standings. Robert Morris is just a game out of the lead set by Wagner. The Mount is fighting to get a home playoff game. The Colonials are one of two teams the Mounties are closest to catching.
I expect an exciting game on Saturday evening. The Mount is playing well at the moment. They played well on the road trip last weekend, minus a poor first half shooting at Wagner, and they followed it up with the biggest win since the beatdown of Widener back in the first year at the D-1 level. Scary thing is, I remember taht Widener game. Robert Morris has been getting better all season.
It is homecoming night at the Mount, and there will be the bicentennial celebration. This has all the makings of a huge game. I can't wait for the tip.
Suspended guard Scoop Jardine returned to practice yesterday and there is now a very good chance that the guard will travel with the Orange to its weekend encounter in Philadelphia. Numerous sources have told me that Jardine's return to the team is now likely to occur much sooner than originally thought. One source told me "the return seems imminent and the return to practice is an obvious sign of what is to come."
The official word from the University is that Jardine's status of suspended indefinitely has not changed.
The University usually does not travel suspended players. Therefore, if Jardine travels, I'd expect the suspension to be complete. If he doesn't travel obviously the suspension continues, but from all I'm hearing, I wouldn't expect it to last more than the weekend.
Earlier this week, sources were telling me that the University Disciplinary Hearing would likely occur this week and then we would know the fate before the Villanova. I'm guessing that based on the return to practice and the now upbeat sounds of some folks that the closed hearing has occured and Jardine knows his fate. Based on the optimism I'm hearing, I think he'll be back very soon. If I were to guess, he still misses this weekend's game and plays after that.
Syracuse plays at Villanova (in Jardine's hometown of Philadelphia) on Saturday afternoon.