Let me start out admitting that I was way off on Monday night’s BCS National Title Game. I thought LSU would give us a repeat result of what happened in Tuscaloosa, but Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide completely outcoached and outplayed Les Miles and LSU.
But enough of college football, let’s move from a sport with the worst postseason system in the world to the sport with the best, college basketball.
The week that was
- Temple had an impressive win by beating Duke 78-73 at home last Wednesday, extending its home win streak to 25 games.
- That streak was then snapped Saturday by Dayton. First-year head coach Archie Miller (brother of Arizona’s head coach Sean Miller) and the Flyers had a great week, knocking off two of the projected top teams in the Atlantic 10 (Saint Louis and Temple).
- Kansas State came real close to knocking off two undefeated teams this week. The Wildcats beat Mizzou at home on Saturday and should have had an easy layup that would have put them in overtime against Baylor. Now you can look back at their week and say it was a disappointment (after getting thrashed 67-49 against Kansas), going 1-2 against the Big 12’s best.
- Marquette lost at Georgetown and at Syracuse this week. I’m surprised that Marquette has stayed in the top 25 (24th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and 25th in the AP). Since December 19, the Golden Eagles have gone just 2-4, with a bad loss to LSU (67-59).
- Indiana beat another ranked team at home, downing Tim Hardaway Jr. and Michigan in a close game, 73-71. Wouldn’t it be fun if the Hoosiers met North Carolina in the NCAA tournament to get a Cody Zeller vs. Tyler Zeller matchup? Make it happen selection committee!
- Syracuse is off to a 17-0 start just like last year. I’m still a little skeptical on the Orange. I believe they are good, but I want to see them play and beat quality opponents on the road.
- Murray State is 16-0 and ranked 14th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and 15th in the AP poll. If you are wondering, they play in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Up – Doug McDermott (F) Crieghton
McDermott scored 44 points in a victory against Bradley. Any comparisons to Adam Morrison or Jimmer Fredette you may hear are inaccurate. He primarily plays with his back to the basket, and if he reminds me of anybody, it’s Kevin McHale.
Down – Louisville
The Cardinals were ranked fourth with a few first-place votes just two weeks ago. Louisville has lost four of five games with a disturbing blow-out loss on Tuesday to Providence, 90-59.
Up – Brandon Paul (G) Illinois
No relation to Chris. Brandon Paul scored 43 points as Illinois took down Ohio State.
Down – PAC-12
Many pundits are calling the PAC-12 a one-bid league. No teams are ranked and only California has an RPI in the top 50.
Let My People Go
The strangest story so far in this college basketball season has involved the head coach of St. Joseph’s, Phil Martelli, and former player, Todd O’Brien. The Hawks have had a resurgent year and currently have an 11-5 record. They have a good chance of building a good enough resume to get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008. But this story has brought a lot of bad press to St. Joe’s.
Todd O’Brien finished his degree at St. Joe’s this summer. He still had one year of eligibility left and decided to enroll in graduate school at UAB. He planned to play his final season there. However, NCAA regulations require a player to get his former coach to sign a waiver in order to be eligible for his new team. Martelli has refused to sign it. O’Brien then submitted an appeal to the NCAA and it was denied.
No one is quite sure of Martelli’s reasoning behind the refusal to sign a waiver. Martelli won’t speak on the matter and O’Brien has said that he does not know why.
In college sports, coaches sign contracts for multiple years yet are still able to leave them early, jumping from program to program without any consequence. Why can’t a guy, who has finished all of his academic requirements for a scholarship, be allowed to finish his eligibility at any school he wants?
This whole situation has given a bad image to Martelli. It seems as if he is holding some sort of grudge against O’Brien, like O’Brien is not being loyal enough to the program or some other reasoning. But no one knows because Martelli won’t speak up. O’Brien has said that he will waive anything just to get the real explanation out.
Here’s the odd part: all of this is for a guy who averaged just one point per game last season.
St. Joe’s motto is, “The Hawk Will Never Die,” maybe it should be, “The Hawk Will Be Held in Captivity.”
Ohio State is having trouble winning on the road. Illinois took them out 79-74 Tuesday night and this comes a little over a week after the Buckeyes lost at Indiana. The Buckeyes guards are having trouble in the waning moments of a close game. They turn the ball over, they forget about their best player, Jared Sullinger, and they have taken bad shots. I keep expecting senior guard William Buford to step up and lead in these moments, but it doesn’t always happen. Ohio State needs to find a leader in these close games if they want to be an elite team.
I actually managed to get a few predictions right last week. I hinted at a Temple upset of Duke and an Arkansas upset of Mississippi State, and they both pulled it off! Considering I’ve been last in the Sports Spectrum Staff picks for the NFL for a while, I feel pretty good about myself this week.
The week that will be
Southern Miss at Memphis – These two teams figure to be the best that Conference USA has to offer. Southern Miss is 15-2 and still unranked. Beating Memphis will help people take notice.
Temple at Saint Louis – The Duke upset will be all for naught if it leads to a two-game losing streak for Temple. The Owls need this one, but it will be tough.
LSU at Alabama - LSU will have an opportunity for the third and final game in this best-of-three series between the two bitter rivals. Let’s see what Les Miles has under his hat for this one. Wait, what? This is a basketball game between the two…. Ohhhhh, never mind.
#17 Virginia at #6 Duke – I’m anxious to see how Tony Bennett’s squad will play against one of the ACC’s best.
#23 Gonzaga at Saint Mary’s – This game is always a late one, but it’s always a good one. Saint Mary’s is 15-2 and still struggles to get noticed in polls even after their 2010 Sweet 16 run. But a win against the Zags will help.
#12 UNLV at #22 San Diego State – Two teams that weren’t expected to be this good, are. The Mountain West is much better than the PAC-12 this season, it’s too bad they couldn’t switch TV contracts mid-season. This one will be on the newly renamed NBC Sports Network (Formerly Verses) and I’m not sure many people get this channel.
Alabama at #20 Mississippi State – The SEC West will most likely come down to these two teams.
#8 Indiana at #5 Ohio State – The Buckeyes get a chance at redemption after losing in Bloomington.
#4 Baylor at #10 Kansas – Can the Jayhawks be the first team to beat Baylor?
#15 Louisville at #24 Marquette – Neither team may be ranked by next Monday’s matchup, but both teams will really need the win.
#7 Michigan State at #13 Michigan – If Michigan State beats Northwestern this weekend, Sparty will have won 16 in a row by this matchup. Can their in-state rival be the ones to knock them off their pedestal? I’m sure Michigan fans would love the bragging rights.
Arkansas at #2 Kentucky – If this game was at Arkansas, I would give them a fighting chance. But it’s at Kentucky, where John Calipari has yet to lose since taking over for the Wildcats.