Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Last 11

I keep getting emails to my fanblog@gmail.com address about Seton Hall - and how good are the Pirates? Really?

So I figured I'd better do some investigating. For two reasons, because the Pirates are the Big East opener for the Orange. And well because they are still undefeated. So what I found is this. There are 11 teams still unbeaten (unless I missed someone). 4 of those teams come from the Big East, 3 more from the Big 12 and then one each from the SEC, Big 10, Missouri Valley and Mountain West.

Ultimately, of those 11 I'd rank Seton Hall 11th. Maybe 12th, err I mean 10th. The Pirates have exactly one win worth anything this season. That is the road win at preseason Ivy favorite Cornell. It's a solid win, but its not exactly the type of win that gets you in the tournament. Instead, I think the Pirates will have to go better than .500 in the Big East or finish the season unbeaten in non-conference play. They still have respectable games with Temple and Virginia Tech. If they win both of those and go 9-9 in conference play - that might be enough. But when you play the type of schedule the Hall has played, don't count on anything.

I'd put Missouri State just ahead of Seton Hall. They have a chance to get to the NCAA tournament without winning the Valley tournament. I think the fact that a conference like the PAC 10 may only provide 3 legit teams will help their case. But the only respectable win they have is Tulsa right now. They have played better teams than Seton Hall but still none that are real good. They could end up with a real good record 24-5 or the like and still be a true bubble team.

Texas Tech is probably next in line. I question how the Red Raiders will do in the Big 12 season. They don't seem like more than a .500 team there. But they have scheduled for success and beaten Washington at home (a nice win), and also have a respectable win over Texas A&M - Corpus Christi (a good team - who will give somebody fits in the tourney). In addition, they play three more games (at Wichita State and New Mexico - home to UTEP) in the upcoming days that could help their resume. At 9-0 now, I think 20 wins will be the key for them.

I rank Kentucky next. And many are going to disagree at least that they aren't one more up the ladder. I do think they are an NCAA tourney lock - but they've played a lot of close games against mediocre level competition. The two wins that are impressive are the one over UCONN at the Garden and the home victory over the defending national champ. They'll play Long Beach upcoming, but will likely goto the SEC still unbeaten.

The surprise team for many this year has been New Mexico. The Lobos have real solid wins over Cal and Texas A&M - and still face Dayton and Texas Tech - before getting into Mountain West play. In my opinion the MWC is the best conference top to bottom outside of the BCS - so if New Mexico makes it through at around 13-3 (which seems reasonable) I think they'll have locked things in.

Georgetown is 8-0 - and about a week ago, you might have questioned their legitimacy. But neutral site wins over Butler and Washington gave them a push - as did Temple's (who the Hoyas beat during the marathon) win over previously unbeaten Villanova. Old Dominion and Harvard await and won't grab headline wins but they will strengthen the resume.

Purdue - I place them fifth right now. The Boilers probably only have to hold off West Virginia to make it to the Big Ten portion of the schedule unbeaten. However, I just keep wondering if their inconsistency is going to catch up with them anytime soon. They just never seem to put a full forty together. Good wins though over Tennessee, Wake, and Alabama. Both the Wake and Bama wins came with big second half rallies.

Syracuse - The Orange might have the best three wins of anyone in this group. But the rest haven't been all that impressive. Syracuse did knock Cal, North Carolina and Florida (in its backyard) from the ranks of the unbeatens and has a Dome win over Cornell that doesn't hurt the resume. But there has been a lot of fluff elsewhere. There is still a Dome encounter with Memphis looming.

West Virginia - Three good wins at the 76 Classic over Texas A&M, Long Beach and Portland, but nothing that jumps out as a huge W. Still faces Ole Miss and travels to Purdue before the Big East. But they have proven that preseason expectations are worthy.

Kansas - I keep hearing that Kansas has seperated themselves. I don't see why. The only win that means anything to me, is the one over Memphis. Otherwise, its been pretty easy treading in Lawrence. If they make it through the next few games unscathed, I'll be more impressed. They play Cal, Belmont, Temple, Cornell and Tennessee over the next few weeks.

Texas - The Longhorns have been the most impressive team for me thus far. They don't have that marquee win, unless you count Pitt, but it has been the style of victory and the ease that has come with it that impresses me. Western Carolina (who won at Louisville), and Long Beach are both quality wins. Carolina, and Michigan State will further test Texas - as will the afforementioned Texas A&M Corpus Christi bunch.

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