NEWS, NOTES, AND RANTS
-For Chad Sherwood’s Under the Radar Game of the Day between Stony Brook and Albany, who are likely the two best teams in the America East – CLICK HERE
-It’s “Rivalry Week!!” What does that mean?? It means that Duke is playing North Carolina the first of their two games!! It also means that any game that’s being played this week between any two teams is deemed a rivalry by ESPN whether it actually is or not. It also means that we will constantly be reminded that Duke and North Carolina are eight miles apart, and that they have never met in the NCAA Tournament. I have uncles, parents, and grandparents that tell the same stories over and over and over again when we’re together over the holidays. The thing is that I actually enjoy hearing most of them even though I’ve heard them before. I really don’t when it comes to Duke v North Carolina. I know they’re eight miles apart. I know they’ve never met in the Tournament. And…SO DOES EVERYONE ELSE THAT CARES!! We don’t need to be reminded of it over and over and over again.
Although we still have some good rivalries, more than half of the great ones we had ten years ago are gone. There is no Border War. There is no Backyard Brawl. Texas v Texas A&M no longer play. Syracuse v Georgetown is no longer a conference game. BYU v Utah is no longer a conference game, and as we learned earlier this year it’s no longer a game period. Creighton v Wichita State, which I know was somewhat under the radar but still very heated, no longer play. So, it’s hard for me to get excited about “Rivalry Week” anymore. If anything, it’s kind of depressing. Most great rivalries are gone. We have Duke v North Carolina, and a bunch of regular conference games with a few actual rivalries smattered in there. Anyway…
-Ohio State v Michigan are rivals and they did play last night. But, because ESPN had the great idea to have the camera man sit on the floor and broadcast the entire game that way, it wasn’t really enjoyable to watch. Michigan ended up losing, and since Ohio State isn’t a tournament team, Michigan may take a slight step back, but it shouldn’t hurt them too badly because they were the road team.
-Pitt needed two overtimes to beat Wake Forest. A loss would have been somewhat disastrous for a Pitt team that appears to be going backwards.
-South Carolina lost their second straight game when they fell to Missouri yesterday. Losing to Kentucky isn’t too bad. Losing to Missouri is very bad. Their profile is once again looking very much like a team in the 7-10 seed range despite having a very bloated record.
-Baylor and Iowa State played another thriller. I’ll be shocked if this game is ever not a thriller. Baylor got a big win in overtime, which pulls them out of a small tailspin that they were in.
-Butler needed a win against Creighton, or to put it more accurately they needed to avoid a loss to Creighton, and got it in rather impressive fashion to even out their conference record and keep them on the right side of the bubble (for now).
-Texas A&M picked up a win against Ole Miss, which in and of itself isn’t noteworthy, but since they had lost five of their last six they needed some sort of a win to pull themselves out of that.
-DAYTON AT SAINT JOSEPH’S (Atlantic Ten). This is a really interesting game between a Saint Joe’s team that’s trying to land inside the bubble, and a Dayton team that’s trying to land a protected seed. A win in this game would really help both teams’ causes.
-IOWA AT PENN STATE (Big Ten). There aren’t many road games in the Big Ten that are easy to win, but this is perhaps one of them. Then again, Indiana failed to do it, but Indiana wasn’t gunning for the #1 line either.
-VILLANOVA AT TEMPLE (Big Five). I love this rivalry. These two schools have a history of stepping on each other’s toes, which makes it even more fun. On paper, Nova is gunning for the #1 line, and Temple is trying to play their way inside the bubble. Winning this game helps both team’s causes out. Add that on top of the winner earning Big Five bragging rights, and we’ve got a fun game on our hands!
-SYRACUSE AT LOUISVILLE (ACC). Syracuse’s profile is healthy enough, but they could really improve upon it with a strong finish this year.
-BOSTON COLLEGE AT CLEMSON (ACC). Clemson is outside the bubble right now. In order to land on the right side of it, they need more quality wins, more road wins, and they need to avoid bad losses. This game falls into the latter category.
-PROVIDENCE AT XAVIER (Big East). Xavier still has a shot at a #1 seed, but they’ll have to finish strong against what really is a tough schedule. The Muskies won the first meeting between these two, but Providence has been schizophrenic all season, and it wouldn’t shock me to see them…well…shock me. Based on the kind of year they’ve had, it’s not too outrageous to think they can pull off the road win here. They won at Nova. They lost to DePaul. Their range of play is quite large.
-GEORGE WASHINGTON AT DUQUESNE (Atlantic Ten). GW’s margin for error is razor thin. I believe they are already outside the bubble and a loss in a game like this could kill them.
-SAINT BONAVENTURE AT LA SALLE (Atlantic Ten). Not too many people are that big on the Bonnies, but they are kind of laying in the weeds here and if they finish strong they can end up playing their way inside the bubble and into the field.
-NEBRASKA AT INDIANA (Big Ten). I still don’t think of the Hoosiers as the top fifteen team I thought they were going to be prior to the start of the season, but I am starting to like them more and more and more. They can improve to an impressive 11-3 in Big Ten play with a win tonight.
-ALABAMA AT LSU (SEC). Bubblicious!!!! This is an extremely pivotal game between two teams that are right on the bubble and could really use some notable wins. The atmosphere surrounding the football game is generally huge because of the national title implications that come with it. Well, this game isn’t quite like that, but there are pretty big bubble implications that come with tonight’s game.
-OKLAHOMA AT TEXAS TECH (Big Twelve). Oklahoma is coming off a home loss to Kansas, but they can still end up on the #1 line, and perhaps even as the overall #1 seed, if they’re able to finish strong. I guess that pretty much means winning out. Texas Tech is inside a lot of people’s bubbles, and although I don’t agree with it, I can at least understand why after last week. Still, they are currently 5-7 in Big Twelve play, and it is extremely rare for a team to make the field when they are more than two games below 500, so they still have a ton of work to do. Winning tonight would certainly help their cause, but that’s much easier said than done.
-VIRGINIA TECH AT MIAMI FL (ACC). Miami can wrap up a protected seed if they hold serve the rest of the way, and pick up a few more quality wins.
-DUKE AT NORTH CAROLINA (ACC). North Carolina looks to be a protected seed who could end up as a #1 seed if they finish strong, but they still have work to do. Duke is safely in the field, and has played better these past few weeks after hitting a bit of a skid. If they can pick up a win in a game like this, then their profile would start to look like a protected seed’s profile again. And, there’s the whole rivalry thing to this game, so there’s that too. By the way…these schools are just eight miles apart, and they’ve never met in the NCAA Tournament!!
-GEORGIA TECH AT FLORIDA STATE (ACC). Florida State’s margin for error is shrinking. The last thing they need is a home loss to a non-tournament team.
-ARIZONA STATE AT ARIZONA (Pac Twelve). Arizona won the first meeting, and has been playing well since then. This is a rivalry game, but it’s a bit of a mismatched rivalry at the moment.
-SETON HALL AT GEORGETOWN (Big East). Seton Hall is one of the many teams that’s on the bubble right now, so every game has a pivotal feel to it, including this one against a Georgetown team that isn’t going anywhere without the automatic bid.
-COLORADO AT USC (Pac Twelve). Both are solid tournament teams who are looking to improve their profiles with another quality win.
-In closing, I just thought I’d share this fun piece of trivia with everyone. Most of you probably know that North Carolina and Duke are big rivals. But, did you realize that the two schools are just eight miles apart!!?? Not only that, they have NEVER met in the NCAA Tournament!!