Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! So much to be thankful for. Doesn't take a holiday to realize it but worth spending the day reflecting on how fortunate we all are.
So the Big East is down? That was the general thought before the start of the season. Well as far as these preseason exempt tournaments go, it doesn't really look like it. UCONN won the Maui Invitational last night. The Huskies really came out of nowhere to do it. UCONN wasn't ranked entering the tournament but they topped a field that had 3 Top 15 teams. And they beat #2 Michigan State and #9 Kentucky along the way. The other win came against Wichita State, which won the loser's bracket and finished 2-1 in Maui.
Couple that with Pitt's win in the Coaches vs Cancer event, Georgetown's in Charleston and the fact that several other Big East schools are still alive for preseason tournament championships it is hard to think that maybe the Big East isn't once again the best conference around.
It will be interesting to see where the Huskies end up in the polls next week. It wouldn't be unreasonable to see them in the Top 10, but we'll have to wait and see.
Navy got a nice win on the road on Wednesday night. The Midshipmen finally found some offense in a road win at Towson. Navy starting to get on a roll before visiting the Knott Arena on Monday night. The Midshipmen have a very winnable game on Saturday with UMES, so they could enter with some confidence.
A winless night for the NEC last night. Three losses for the conference. Bryant fell to Harvard, St. Francis NY also lost to an Ivy League school - on the road at Brown and St. Francis PA lost 60-55 to Hartford. No NEC team plays on this Thanksgiving Day.
Cleveland State picked up its sixth win of the season last night. Not sure there is anybody in the country with that many. The Vikings won on the road by 13 at Akron. Could make for an interesting year in the Horizon. Butler will have challenges from Cleveland State and Loyola Chicago and maybe Wright State, Valparaiso and Detroit can make some noise.
Two future Mount opponents met in Burlington Vermont last night. Loyola took on Vermont and the Catamounts were able to hold on for a victory. Vermont improved to 3-1 with the 51-48 win. Loyola fell to 2-2.
Oregon State got a much needed win last night. Actually a win over a team many might have thought they'd struggle with. But Charlotte has been equally as bad. The Beavers now 2-2 after the 83-70 win, Charlotte falls to 2-4 and could be faced with a long year in the A-10.
Definitely think the marquee game of the game is the Noon Start in Orlando with Boston College and Texas A&M. But a couple other games to watch closely, particularly the Notre Dame-Georgia clash. Both of those teams have large upsides and advancing to the second round here could give them some confidence. The Temple/Cal winner awaits there.
And I know its football, but was Gordon Gee so wrong in what he said about TCU and Boise State. No one has argued that those teams aren't very good. But the question certainly becomes how would they fare if they played week in an week out in the major conferences. Talk to any football coach and they will consistently tell you how getting their teams up for games week in and week out is a huge obstacle. So it makes sense that if TCU has a bad day against San Diego State they still win. But if Ohio State has a bad day against Wisconsin or Iowa or Illinois or Penn State they get a loss. And that is why the field sort of levels. Everyone knows the BCS conferences have a more difficult path to the BCS championship, so they don't always have to be perfect. But the other schools have to be perfect so it sort of evens the playing field, since they will be ignored if they are anything but.
I know you want a playoff. We all do. But it isn't going to happen, so just forget about it.