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Monday, January 21, 2008

The End Is Near: Everyone Loses


Well this certainly was an interesting weekend. Between a friend's purchase of RockBand, the ensuing four hours of bliss that accompanied said purchase and the Giants euphoric, soul-torturing victory yesterday, I didn't watch too much basketball. I saw my Syracuse squad indulge Villanova in a 40-minute practice against zone defenses (GUARD THE DAMN BASELINE), the end of Maryland's insanely improbable, tears-inducing victory over UNC (boo-hoo Heels fan, you're 18-1) and I seem to remember a bit of that Florida-Kentucky game. But otherwise that's it, and as I look back at the scores, I realize I missed on what turned out to be college hoops Armageddon, with upsets galore, a complete lack of consistency, a horrific display of parity and most importantly, a hell of a lot of excitement. Let's recap, shall we?

- Of the Top 25 teams in the AP poll, the following went undefeated last week: Memphis, Kansas, Duke, Tennessee, Washington State, Indiana, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Texas and Villanova. That's 10 out of 25 teams, the supposed "best" in the country. And the Longhorns only game last week was a two-point home win over lowly Colorado.

- North Carolina and UCLA both lost at home to unranked opponents. UNC lost to Maryland, which has lost to Ohio and American this season. UCLA lost to USC, which, despite its talent, has still lost to Mercer.

- The Big East is in complete shambles. Only Nova, Georgetown and Seton Hall went 2-0 last week. Cincinnati and DePaul, both of which have nine losses, are tied for second place in the league at 4-2. The Bearcats have lost to Belmont, Bowling Green and St. John's this season. The Blue Demons started 2-7 with losses to North Carolina A & T (7-9, MEAC, !) and Illinois-Chicago. They are ahead of NINE teams that have six losses or less.

- Looking at the RPI over at Kenpom.com, here are some completely flabbergasting sights. St. Mary's is No. 7. Six-loss Arizona is No. 9. The Drake is No. 14, one behind UCLA. South Alabama is No. 28

- All three ranked A-10 teams lost last week. Xavier got destroyed by Temple. Dayton lost big at home to UMass and Rhode Island lost to St. Louis, a team that scored 20 points in a game and has an oft-naked coach.

- Joe Lunardi's bracketology is a mess. He has NINE Big East teams, yes the same Big East which just had its mediocrity exposed two paragraphs ago, in the tournament. The SEC and A-10 both have four. The SEC, one of the greatest athletic conferences in sports history has the same amount of bids as the A-10, which just had a team score 20 freaking points in a game. Besides the A-10 he has only three non-BCS leagues with two bids and he's assuming Butler doesn't win the Horizon. And Illinois State, the non-Drake team in the Valley, is his 64th team.

Everyone's been talking about parity in college basketball for awhile now, but it's been completely insane this season, with Saturday's pandemonium capping it off. The result is lots of fun for us and not too much for the Selection Committee, which will have its toughest job ever this season. After the top 10 teams, there are about 40 with extremely similar resumes and judging by the early conference play carnage, the league tournaments will probably cloud the situation even further (Cincinnati or DePaul are going to win the Big East, I'm sure of it). Plus, with many of the usual mid-major mainstays (the Valley, CAA, Mountain West and WAC, specifically) having down seasons with their multi-bid chances looking increasingly weaker, the committee is probably going to have about 15 middle-of-the-pack, uninspiring BCS teams to fit into about five tournament spots.

And to think, all of this is going on without the most irrational force in college basketball, Dick Vitale, nowhere to be found, completely unable to audibly express his gibberish-laced surprise. But in a season that makes no sense it makes perfect sense for Vitale to be absent; Satan has had his minions carry out the apocalypse for him.

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