Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Answering the Questions of the Day

How do you think West Virginia will fare the rest of the way?

I thought, maybe even still do that Marquette was/is the best team in the Big East. So the way, WVU dismantled them the other day was certainly impressive. Some say you either love or hate Bob Huggins, yet I'm in the middle with him. Not sure he's made them any better than John Beilein would have. Playing in Morgantown is never easy, and the Mountaineers could win every game there the rest of the way. I can't imagine them faring as well with road games at Louisville, Providence, Pitt and Villanova among their Big East travels. But they definitely could be a second weekend team come March.

How big a number is 10 for Penn State?

If you wrote off the Nittany Lions after that disgusting WDW performance at Thanksgiving, shame on you. The Nits have been pretty good since then, with 8 wins in 9 games. But minus an overtime win over Seton Hall there really wasn't anything of note. So I promised to give the Lions a chance if they could win at Northwestern last week. Because at the start of the season, I thought this PSU team might be a mid-level team in a watered down Big Ten. After a win at Illinois made the Blue and White 2-0 in conference play, I think they have a chance for that mid-level finish. If that includes 10 wins they may make a push for the Big Dance. But I doubt 18-12 would be enough. It would depend on the outcome in the Big Ten tournament. I think they would need 20 wins in some combination. 10 regular season wins only gets them to 19, so maybe they need 11. I don't really think they get there. But keep your eye on them.

Has UCLA regained its status as the best team around?

I guess it depends who you are around. Potentially, the Bruins can get there and they are making progress on that. Still, I have a few teams in the latest Index above them. I like Kansas a whole bunch, and Carolina hasn't done a lot to disappoint. Memphis deserves to be ranked ahead of the Bruins for now. Let's see how things go later this week against Washington State.

What's wrong with Gonzaga?

You know that I'm not always the biggest fan of the Zags. Although they are the poster child for mid-majors and what everybody should aspire to be if you are not in one of the BCS conferences. This year everybody is down on them and it could be because of the emergence of St. Mary's in the West Coast. But Gonzaga has played a schedule that has pitted them against seven BCS conference schools and they are 3-4 in those games. So if they were in a BCS conference, they likely would be a mid-to-upper level team. But they have still shown with wins over Utah, Western Kentucky, St. Joe's and Cal-St Northridge, that they are better than most of the mid-major teams. They'll likely lose twice the rest of the way, somewhere in the WCC and at Memphis and enter the tourney with a tough 26-7 record or so. And personally, I don't think they can't get in.

Isn't Memphis the clear #1?

No, No, and No. I just don't think the Tigers are the best team. They might very well go undefeated and I'll still feel that way. They've played a decent schedule, but have only played one road game. They won at an improving Cincinnati. They won't get overly tested in an improving Conference USA. Or if they do, too often, we'll know they aren't premier class. The toughest game they have left is with Tennessee. I think there are lots of teams who are better than Memphis or on the same level right now. But I do give them the best chance of going unbeaten. And think its a real possibility. And depending on the draw of the 8 or 9 seed, a chance they don't make it out of the first weekend.

Was Wayne Ellington's performance on Sunday night the best of the season?

Under the circumstance of the game, it might have been. To hit the big jumper to win it, really put a big exclamation point on the night for the sophomore who was on fire. The effort came in a big game, against another good team and not sure anyone has performed that well for a good team against another good team this year.

For my money, I'd take the performance that Junior Hairston put in for Towson in the Baltimore War with Loyola way back in November though. 26 points (10-15 from the field), 21 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 assists. It came in a matchup of two equal level teams.

Of course, Michael Beasley has thrown up some huge numbers as well. But those have mainly come against lesser competition.

Luke Harangody 29 points and 16 rebounds was pretty nice against West Virginia in a game of two teams worthy of Top 25 competition.

But, yeah, I'll take Ellington's night as the best for now.

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