Thursday, January 20, 2005


Around the Country

5 observations on whats going on in different parts of the country.

1.Punching Zags. Gonzaga has beaten Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech on neutral courts (even though the Ok St game was in Oklahoma City) and has lost at Missouri, and tonight at San Francisco. No, Bill Rusell did not play for the Dons tonight. Gonzaga never loses at home, but they have played some tough road games. This leads to the question of whether the Zags are as good as advertised or maybe the West Coast Conference is catching up. It probably a little of both. No doubt Gonzaga has the talent with Turiaf and Batista in the middle and Morrison and Ravio on the outside, but this could be a 3 bid conference out west. StMary's is for real and dont forget Santa Clara beat UNC the first game. That being said Gonzaga has to win these games. They now have two conference losses. They have four in the last 4 years combined. If you can beat Ok St. on what was a home court for the Cowboys then you should beat USF on the road. If the Zags want to be considered true final four contenders they need to show more than what they have shown early in conference play.

2. The top ten this week? #1 Illinois wins in OT against Iowa,#2 Kansas wins by 2 against NEB at home, #3 Wake loses to FSU, #5 OK St. loses to Texas, #7 SU beats Georgetown in OT at home, #8 Kentucky beats Ole Miss by 3 after being down 16, #9 BC beats Nova by one at home. The point? On any given day anyone can lose in conference play in college Basketball. To say that some team is unworthy of their ranking is not knowing the game.

3. Class? I dont need no stinkin' class. Well if you're PJ Tucker of Texas or Sean Banks of Memphis maybe you should have attended at least some classes. Now both players are done for the year because of academic issues and have cost their teams chances at deep tournament runs or maybe even making the tournament. Banks was a terrific freshman last year and Tucker is the glue that helped hold Texas together. And to make matters worse in Tucker's case is that you only need to pass 6 credit hours in the first semester to be eligible for the next semester. Thats two classes. PJ Tucker couldnt pass two classes. As for Sean Banks, he was already thinking about declaring for the NBA draft last year and you could see he was disinterested in school and at some points disinterested in passing the basketball. Its a shame that these players cant see that they are getting a chance at something that many Americans would die for. A free college education.

4. SEC basketball its fannn-umm...ok its horrible. The SEC is looking at getting only 4 teams in the Tournament and thats being generous. The only teams right now that will get in are Kentucky and Alabama. Mississippi State was looking like they might be a shoe in for the tourney, but then they lost a heartbreaker to Alabama by THIRTY-NINE. It wasnt even that close. It is very concievable that the SEC might only get 3 teams. Florida may get in, but they are very bubblicious. I'm saying MSU or UF will get in but dont be shocked if the SEC only sends two teams to the Dance. What an embarrassment that would be for the SEC. They've gotten at least 5 teams in for the last 5 years. Two teams this year? Ouch babe.

5. Coming up soon is BracketBuster Weekend. A concotion made up by ESPN so Mid Majors play each other to get one more good non-conference game on their schedule and an opportunity for a quality win against a team with theoretically the same talent. I have things I would like to see changed. First of all, no offense to the fans of these teams, but I have no interest in Oral Roberts against Witchita St. I don't and unless you are a diehard ,and I mean diehard college hoops fan, most people dont have any interest either. I would much rather watch Oral Roberts have a chance to upset Kansas at home or play Arizona on the road than play another mid-major. I know this wont happen because the major conference schools are afraid to play mid majors on the road and dont want to play mid majors period because it brings down their RPI, but I would hope it would. And one more thing I would want to see is more regionalization of these games. I am intrigued by Vermont, but I dont need to see them play Hawaii. How about Vermont/Niagara or Vermont/George Mason?..that way by tourney time I will be somewhat familiar with the teams from my region that could make some noise. Not to say I dont like the idea but I think it could be tweaked.

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