NEWS AND NOTES
-Its been a rather slow week due to most schools taking their final exams, but there was some action last week worth noting.
-Miami, FL remained unbeaten with a rather impressive win at Mississippi State last night 64-58. The game was close throughout, and Miami didnt really get full control until the end. Neither team shot the ball well at all, but Miami was 8-20 from beyond the arc as compared to Mississippi State being 6-24. Mississippi State has four losses, but two of those were to Miami and Clemson, both of whom are undefeated, so they are probably better than their current record indicates.
-Mississippi, got a battle from Winthrop, but pulled away in the end to remain undefeated on the season with a 76-71 win. The game was in Jackson, Mississippi rather than on campus, but it was still a pro (albeit smaller) Ole Miss crowd. Center Dwayne Curtis
had a huge game for the Rebels with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Ole Miss should be able to win their next two games without too much trouble, but will then face Clemson, who is also currently undefeated on December 22nd.
-Xavier got a scare from crosstown rival Cincinnati, and actually trailed deep in the second half, but ended up with a 64-59 win. It wasnt anywhere near the blowout the Xavier fans were wanting and expecting, and had Cincinnati not missed so many layups Xavier wouldnt have gotten the win at all. There was a scary moment in the game when Cincinnati guard Marvin Gentry needed to be taken off the floor on a stretcher after he collided with a teammates knee diving for a loose ball. Josh Duncan
of Xavier also had to leave the game with a knee injury. Both players are expected to return. Cincinnati shot an abysmal 34% from the floor, but Xavier wasnt that much better at 38%, which allowed the Bearcats to keep the game within reach for as long as they did. XU just couldnt seem to get much going against Cincinnatis zone.
-Massachusetts picked up their second big road win of the season with a victory over rival Boston College. UMass had been one of the teams I had on the bubble, but a road win like really puts them in a good position for now. Gary Forbes
scored ten points in the final five minute for UMass, but they still almost blew a 15 point second half lead. The Minutemen were able to hold on and win, though, which ended an eight game losing streak to Boston College. RANKINGS
-The actual Coaches Poll and AP Poll are not used by the selection committee, but they can be good indicators as to where teams will end up, especially considering that they are structured similarly to the NABC Rankings that are submitted to the committee. They are only helpful, however, when the voters arent being ridiculous.
-Dayton has just one loss on the season, and that was on the road against George Mason. They have won their last three road games against Miami OH, Holy Cross and Louisville. Louisville is still ranked 20th in the Coaches Poll. Not only is Dayton not ranked, but they only received one vote. That means that one coach (or perhaps it was an assistant who was voting on behalf of the head coach) ranked Dayton #25, and thats all the attention they got. Im not saying that one win by itself is enough reason to rank one team ahead of another, but Dayton has a lot more than just one win. They have seven wins, and three were on the road against good teams. Im still in shock that only one coach thought they were a top 25 team, and didnt vote them any higher than #25.
-Miami, FL and Mississippi are both undefeated on the season, and although their wins arent as impressive as Daytons, they arent all against cupcakes either. One would think theyd be getting more attention than what they are.
-Other than that, I cant say that I disagree with the current rankings all that much. Name recognition and a programs reputation impact the rankings early on, but were getting to a point to where what has happened on the court is catching up with how recognizable a team was coming into the season. Im not sure Id have Louisville in at all, but I also realize that the voters may be taking into account that they arent at full strength and will have some of their better players back by the end of the year. Its just that if I had a vote (and I dont) I wouldnt vote them into the top 25 until I thought that they looked like a top 25 team.
-I believe Memphis is really good. They are currently #2, but I would vote them #1 with the current #1, North Carolina, right behind them. Memphis will probably be ranked #1 before the season is over simply because it is more likely that UNC will stumble a few times in conference play. The more recent a loss is, the more the voters will punish a team, and since Memphis looks like theyll run all over Conference USA I think its only a matter of time before they become the near unanimous #1. They do have some tough games coming up against Georgetown, Arizona, Gonzaga (who should be at full strength by then) and Tennessee, but theyll face all of those teams at home. The committee does look at a teams last ten games, but their focus is much more on a teams entire body of work rather than when their most recent loss was, which is what the voters seem to concern themselves with.
-As far as North Carolina is concerned, if there ever is a point where they do drop from #1 it really wont reflect their chances at getting a #1 seed, or for that matter the top #1 seed. Playing in the ACC gives them more shots at quality wins, and its better to have several quality wins and a few losses than no losses and no quality wins. With first/second round games in Raleigh and a regional in Charlotte, there is a lot at stake for both Duke and North Carolina. Duke is also undefeated and both would love to be placed in Charlotte if they get a #1 seed. The thing is that there is only room for one of them, which should make ACC play all the more intense.
-A write-up of tomorrow's games will be posted late tonight/early tomorrow morning.