Archive for February, 2011

Weekly Hoops Ballot
February 22, 2011

In my long and illustrious career as an A.P. pollster (1.5 years) I have never seen the 5th ranked team leap to number one in one week. But what else could you do as Kansas, Ohio State, Pitt, and Texas all lost last week? Heck, the Buckeyes were the only ones to lose to a ranked team!

So the fallout from the top leaves us back where we started. Duke at number one.

It wasn’t a clear cut decision for me. The ACC just doesn’t reach anywhere near the lofty standards of the past. I had N.C. State in my preseason top 25. After watching the Wolfpack fall to 4-8 in conference play that feels horribly regrettable.

But Duke has rolled through ACC play, its only hiccup coming at the hands of Florida State. Another possible hiccup was avoided against its ultimate rival in Durham. And by hiccup I mean the Tar Heels at one point held a double digit lead.

Strange season though as we find not only a lack of separation from the top, but a regression to the mediocre. Not sure if it’s just a high level of parity or a poor effort at parody. ESPN’s Andy Katz made a great point today in looking ahead to March Madness. There can be no complaining about getting left out of the tournament in 2011. The expanded field will already seem bloated, and if it had gone to 96 the rest of the regular season would be completely drama free.

Here’s my ballot this week, feel free to guess at next week’s number one early. I expect San Diego State..

1. Duke
2. Ohio State
3. Pittsburgh
4. Kansas
5. Texas
6. Purdue
7. San Diego St.
8. BYU
9. Arizona
10. Georgetown
11. Notre Dame
12. Wisconsin
13. Florida
14. Louisville
15. St. Johns
16. Texas A&M
17. Syracuse
18. Vanderbilt
19. Connecticut
20. Villanova
21. Temple
22. Missouri
23. North Carolina
24. George Mason
25. Xavier

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Bedridden but Ballin’ with Zombies
February 16, 2011

A four day fever struck me last week leaving me in bed for the duration (except for that one morning when I thought, yeah, let’s give work  a try, only to start feeling so underwhelmed the trip ended at a doctors office which had no time to see me.  Do run on sentences count in parenthesis?)

This is the 3rd straight year in which a viral fever has left me shut off from the world, save a TV (so really just shut off from work and family.)  I finally did see a doctor and inquired as to whether I have a truly deficient immune system.  She said no, you have little kids. So there’s that.

But time tucked away in semi consciousness lets me enjoy two things.  College basketball and horror movies.

I took in the Crazies and Zombieland.  At least I couldn’t find the remote (stuck under the 100 lb dog) to do anything about it.   My sampling  leaves me aware of two things.  Creativity has completely left the realm of the industry.  Hey, the government screwed up, doesn’t care, so now you all have to die grows tired.  And despite the ability to read every plot turn minutes ahead they warmly entertain.  Sick in the heart apparently to go with the head.

As for the games, I passed out during  most of Wisconsin’s comeback against Ohio State but remember hearing distant cheers throughout.  What great depth for the Badgers.  Their plodding style works very well with a fan base that embraces it. Let’s just say that in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the 90’s, that kind of walk it up pace would have led to a revolt at Bud Walton Arena. And defending big guys who make three pointers, like escaping arrest while be followed on live TV by a helicopter, is very hard to do.

Ohio State though was good enough to create a second half 15 point cushion at arguably the best home court advantage in the land. The Buckeyes responded well Tuesday night, holding off a desperate group of Spartans.

But with the loss in Madison, OSU falls to number two. I went with Texas at the top spot. The Longhorns haven’t lost since an overtime affair with Connecticut and also went to Phog Allen where they ended Kansas’ billion game home win streak. For the comparison with the Jayhawks, that was check and mate. Kansas then did me the favor of losing to unranked rival Kansas State Monday night.

Here’s the rest of my ballot this week where we welcome first timers this season Coastal Carolina (which proceeded to lose), and UCLA.

1. Texas
2. Ohio State
3. Kansas
4. Pittsburgh
5. Duke
6. Notre Dame
7. San Diego State
8. BYU
9. Wisconsin
10. Georgetown
11. Purdue
12. Louisville
13. Florida
14. Connecticut
15. Arizona
16. Texas A&M
17. Syracuse
18. Villanova
19. Vanderbilt
20. St. Mary’s
21. Coastal Carolina
22. Temple
23. Missouri
24. North Carolina
25. UCLA

Terps Tumble and Top 25 Ballot
February 3, 2011

A tremendous atmosphere at Comcast Center last night as Maryland played host to 5th ranked Duke (I had them 6th).  Not a seat to be found, nor a disparaging remark spared as the Terps looked for that first signature win of the season.

But a funny thing happened on the way to a riotous night on Route 1.  The Terps failed to show up.

Pathetic perimeter defense allowed for open look after open look.  Kyle Singler is good, but he looked like ChristianLaettner circa 1992.

The reality of the 2010-2011 Terps is they’re a year away from making some noise in March.  Nick Faust comes on board next season and is that real shooter they need.  Combined with the growth of this large freshman class and all will be well.

In the meantime, enjoy the journey and hope that somehow they can find four  days of magic in Charlotte for the ACC Tourney.

Here’s my ballot this week, and yes, Harvard is still there.  Although, I believe North Carolina though will re-join the class next week.

 

1. Ohio State
2. Texas
3. Kansas
4. Pittsburgh
5. Connecticut
6. Duke
7. San Diego State
8. BYU
9. Purdue
10. Notre Dame
11. Kentucky
12. Texas A&M
13. Missouri
14. Louisville
15. Syracuse
16. Villanova
17. Minnesota
18. Florida State
19. Arizona
20. Washington
21. Georgetown
22. Wisconsin
23. Florida
24. Vanderbilt
25. Harvard

Edsall on stage
February 3, 2011

I have covered several signing days for FBS schools. Most are treated like a party with drinks and hors ‘dourves with boosters smiling, coaches selling the new crop, and AD’s looking on with a watchful eye. Football Signing day is an event.

But today at Maryland, the event was toned down to say the least. New head coach Randy Edsall gave a speech followed by questions from a decent sized gathering of media, but this was not a celebration.

A few assistant coaches were in attendance, along with some supporters of the program. But the dignitaries stayed away. No AD Kevin Anderson. No current stars of the team. No live TV cameras (only those recording).

That flows with amount of hype, or lack thereof for the 20 kids counted in the class of 2011. Randy Edsall took the reigns a month ago making the transition incredibly challenging.

Randy Edsall talking up his class of 2011

But as Edsall stood at the podium he did what all coaches do with a class missing the proper amount of stars. He said the rankings don’t matter. And quite often he’s right. Still, it rang a little hollow given the setting. Not a ton of support in attendance, and a class ranked near the bottom of the ACC.

Then I had the chance to talk with Edsall afterwards. Don’t get me wrong, this may still prove a lousy class on talent. But Edsall is crazy fired up regardless.

He is so happy to be in College Park. Viewing the academics, the surrounding attractions, and all the guys getting paid to play on Sundays from Maryland as incredible advantages. Compared to what he had to sell in Storrs, College Park gives him the world.

So I look forward to signing day, in say 2014 as the Terps haul in a top 20 class. The untapped beast that should be Maryland Football will once again be ready for a party.