Have you filled out your brackets for the Tournament Challenge yet? Here’s our last take on the regional matchups.
The South Region is chock full of talent and it could make an argument for being the toughest out of all four regions. It could also be anyone’s to win headed to the Final Four with a four seed taking the prize in that team we don’t like to call by name. This could be the year that everyone has dreaded and we actually see an All-B1G Final Four. Let’s get started.
Favorite-As much as I want to see an All-B1G Final Four and will pick that team as one of my two to leave the South, Kansas is the favorite here. Since the dismantling of the Buckeyes early in the season they have made a strong debate among who the other #1 seed was really going to be. Duke’s faltering down the stretch, yet again, really opened the door. I said early in the year that my two dark horses to win it all were Kansas and Arizona. We shall see what they have in the Sweet Sixteen when they square off against you know who.
Cinderella- Shaka’s team can no-longer be a cinderella, they are like Gonzaga and Butler when it comes to big-time respect and they are getting it. My cinderella here is an easy pick for me because a kid I have known all through his middle and high school years, who graduated with my two kids, and is a special player, is Chase Fieler from FGCU. This team has the makings of a very special team and the coach to get them there. They upset Miami early in the season and their reward for it and making the dance is Georgetown? They didn’t get a good enough look from the committee because they were a 12 seed easily. I look for these high flyers to make some noise. Read More
The revolving door that is known as the Top 25 continued to revolve this week. 4 of the 5 Top 5 teams all loss, including Kansas who has now lost three in a row. In addition to the top 5 teams laying an egg, 14 of the 25 teams lost at least one game this week, with 5 of them not even picking up a single win. All was not bad though in the Top 25 world. There were several great games and several overtime games, including a stunning 5 overtime in the Big East. The Miami Hurricanes continued to come on like gang-busters and very well could be in the Top 5 when all is said is done with the polls this week. This week doesn’t look like it will let us down as there are quite a few Top 25 matchups and tough games against un-ranked opponents. Only time will tell how this week will end up but in the meantime, I am just going to sit back and enjoy one of the most exciting college basketball seasons that I can remember.
Here’s a look at the Top 25 Week Ahead and Week in Review
1. Indiana (20-3, 8-2) Previous Rank: 3
Past Week: 2/7 @ Illinois, L 72-74
Upcoming: 2/10 @ (10) Ohio State & 2/13 Nebraska & 2/16 Purdue
The Hoosiers were the latest Number One team to fall. A beautifully ran inbounds play by Illinois sunk Indiana. It doesn’t get any easier this week as they travel to Columbus to face the Buckeyes.
2. Florida (19-3, 9-1) Previous Rank: 4
Past Week: 2/5 @ Arkansas, L 69-80 & 2/9 Mississippi State, W 83-58
Upcoming: 2/12 Kentucky & 2/16 @ Auburn
Florida lost its chance to be the top ranked team with a loss to Arkansas earlier this week. A trip to Lexington to face Kentucky could spell out another loss this week. Read More
The Sugar Bowl has always been the major post-season destination of the SEC, and only once did the bowl play two teams that didn’t include the SEC from 1950-1995. That tradition continues today, and the Sugar Bowl has established themselves as the SEC vs. Big 12 match-up starting in 2015, ostensibly to rival the Rose Bowl’s B1G vs. PAC-12.
Even though the week featured many blowouts and easy wins, this week’s Top 25 has many changes to it from the previous week. Two teams dropped out of the polls, including a Top 10 team disappearing from the nation’s top teams. This week’s action also only featured one loss to any of the current Top 25 teams (it would have been two if Colorado decided to get off the plane in Kansas). The upcoming week only features one Top 25 matchup when (6) Florida travels to (8) Arizona but does feature some possible upset alerts (We’re looking at you Purdue and West Virginia).
Here’s a look at the Top 25 Week Ahead and Week in Review.
1. Indiana (9-0) Previous Rank: 1
Past Week: 12/8 Central Connecticut State, W 100-69
Upcoming: 12/15 Butler
Indiana cruised to a victory over Central Connecticut State but this week’s Butler team will be a tougher challenge for the Hoosiers
2. Duke (9-0) Previous Rank: 2
Past Week: 12/8 Temple, W 90-67
Upcoming: No Games This Week
The Blue Devils didn’t have any let downs after an emotional win against Ohio State in walloping Temple. This week they look to rest a little bit with an off week
3. Michigan (9-0) Previous Rank: 3
Past Week: 12/4 Western Michigan, W 73-41 & 12/8 Arkansas, W 80-67
Upcoming: 12/11 Binghamton & 12/15 @West Virginia
The Wolverines were challenged from time by Arkansas but pulled away in the end to defeat the Razorbacks. They travel to Morgantown to meet upset-minded West Virginia.
4. Syracuse (8-0) Previous Rank: 6
Past Week: 12/3 Eastern Michigan, W 84-48 & 12/6 Long Beach State, W 84-53 & 12/8 Monmouth, W 108-56
Upcoming: 12/15 Canisius
Syracuse continues the cream puff part of their schedule as Jim Boeheim works toward becoming the third coach in history with 900 wins.
5. Louisville (8-1) Previous Rank: 6
Past Week: 12/4 @Charleston, W 80-38 & 12/8 Missouri-Kansas City, W 99-47
Upcoming: 12/15 @Memphis
Not much to speak of with Louisville either, as they breezed past their two opponents this past week and Memphis probably won’t be much different.
6. Florida (7-0) Previous Rank: 7 Read More
As you’re reading this, I’m somewhere above you making the phrase “flyover states” a reality, and heading back to the left coast. As such, this week’s review will be a bit shorter than previous ones, but know that I’ve only got one song on my mind as I write it
And now, we know the form of our destructor. Notre Dame has finished the season undefeated, and will play for the National Title, most likely against an SEC team of some semblance. Who knew that the Holy See was so closely connected with Tikal? We said early on that it would be an amazing accomplishment for the Irish to finish the year undefeated- and yet, here we are. Granted, they faced a down Southern Cal, a “choke-prone” Oklahoma, and struggled against Purdue and Pitt, but they stand atop the polls as our nation’s finest team. So, let the “Oh, I’ve totally been a Notre Dame fan forevah” crap begin- they’ve deserved it.
And, in an eerie way, they’re similar to a team that we just honored on Saturday in The ‘Shoe- unranked, under the radar, winning with great defense/limited mistakes/a lot of luck. The expectation is that they’ll get clown stomped in their bowl match up, but who’s to know? Any one, any where, any time… isn’t that what our flawed “single elimination Bowl Championship Series” has taught us?
One of the more controversial aspects of the Irish resurgence has been the Heisman candidacy of linebacker Manti Te’o, seen here getting really excited about seconds of sweet potato pie on Thursday. His statistics are pretty similar to Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, who may not win B1G first team honors, minus the fact that Notre Dame’s scheme has allowed Te’o to achieve seven interceptions this season.
From all that I’ve read, Te’o is an incredible human being and strong leader for his top ranked team; the Heisman trophy would not be dishonored by his name on it (unlike certain other Trojany folks we might mention). That being said, there’s still a lot of controversy on whether he should be a finalist for the award, and I can see arguments either way.
The fact of the matter is that, in addition to his play on the field, Te’o is benefiting from the National Broadcasting Corporation. By this, I’m not only referring to NBC’s deal to broadcast as many Notre Dame games are are possible, I’m also eluding to the Peacock’s impact on sports coverage as a whole. NBC, as you may know, has television rights to the Olympics, and has chosen to shape their telecasts of those events in a way that tries to reach the broadest audience possible. So, they’re less concerned with the actual results and scores and game achievements and more interested in establishing narratives and storylines for the “casual” fan to connect with and appreciate. As if being the world’s best was somehow not interesting enough.
This isn’t limited to NBC by any means, ESPN’s continual decision to push narrative over fact has significantly impacted their coverage of sports for the negative, as most Buckeye fans can relate to. However, NBC was, along with ABC’s “Wild World Of Sports”, one of the first to mainstream this philosophy- being great is not as intriguing as being great AND having a powerful “story”.
Which brings me back to Te’o: As you may know, he’s overcome some incredible tragedies in his life recently, including the loss of his grandmother and girlfriend just this season. These are horrible events, and it’s remarkable that he’s been able to perform at a championship level in the face of them; I’d probably be up to my ears in a bucket of Cracklin’ Oat Bran in a similar set of circumstances. But the question remains: Does “Solid numbers on a great team with a powerful personal narrative” override “Amazing numbers on a good team that totally relies on you“, particularly when the award has been acculturated to represent the “best” college football player in the nation (who’s most often an offensive skill player)?
I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Read More
Oh, college football… How I love you!!
Well, that happened.
While a lot of people were saying that Alabama was ripe for a loss against a Texas A&M team that’s been playing really well over the past few weeks, most of this felt like lip service. You know, the kind of things that ESPN makes one person say on the Gameday set in order to appear unbiased.
And then- “Johnny Football”.
There are a lot of reasons why Alabama lost- coming off of an emotional win on the road in Death Valley, LSU’s offense showed a lot of people the issues that the Tide have in their secondary, Saban’s fear of the high speed offense is based on his knowledge of his team’s weaknesses; but the fact of the matter is that the Aggies outplayed Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, in several key areas of the game.
The Crimson Tide defensive front was stifled, for the most part, by the aTm offensive tackles. Combined with concerns about a quarterback’s mobility, the Tide were not able to mount the type of disruptive pressure that they are so used to.
Alabama’s offense made key mistakes and turnovers, and seemed out of rhythm all night long. The three turnovers didn’t help, particularly when the Tide defense couldn’t get any of their own… and the mental errors were even more egregious. On the final interception, it seems to me that the receiver on the end of the line of scrimmage did a poor job getting depth in the end zone, making it easy for defenders to cover both him and the primary target. In addition, with Bama’s defense stiffening and forcing a punt, to have a member of their punt return/block team create a neutral zone infraction for an automatic first down is an aggressive penalty, but one that is terrible to have happen in that circumstance. Again, the intensity was there for the student in question, but the lack of focus eventually cost them a final chance at victory.
But we can’t miss the point here- this game was won by Johnny Manziel’s continual ability to make plays and put the Tide defense on their heels.
After the third week in a row with this type of performance (Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State), the redshirt freshman has lifted himself into Heisman candidacy- and for good reason. Given the lack of a clear “star” this year, given Matt Barkley’s struggles, the game this weekend was his “Flutie to Phelan” moment; outstanding performance in high profile opportunity. I’ll leave the debate to others, but will certainly enjoy watching the electricity that all of these candidates provide.
Even if he doesn’t win this year, you’ve got to think that next year’s Heisman race is going to be something spectacular- Braxton Miller, Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater, Everett Gholston, Tahj Boyd, DeAnthony Thomas… and those are just the ones I’ve got off the top of my head.
(And since I’m on the topic, I think that Marquis Lee needs to be included in this year’s debate. But that’s just me).
Does this loss end the run of SEC titles in the final year of the BCS? Well, not exactly… more on this in a bit.
In spite of the huge win in Happy Valley on Saturday, I’m feeling a bit of the blues are in order for this week’s recap. So, enjoy some Collins, Cray, and Copeland.
It’d be easy to say that this week was “spook-tacular”, and “scary” for a lot of top teams, but that would be way to easy. So, let’s just admit that Saturday once again proved that we’re fans of the greatest sport in the world; because anything can happen once the ball is kicked.
As a promise to a “friend” that’s a Notre Dame fan who I’ve been justifiably ripping for the last ten years, we’re leading off this week with the Irish’s huge win in Norman over the Sooners. Like most of America who pays attention to the sport, I imagined that Oklahoma would stomp a mud hole into Brian Kelley’s team- Stoop’s defense, high powered offense… not exactly playing Air Force here. So, because the Irish emerged victorious, undefeated, and “relevant” enough to bump up to the third ranking spot in the BCS, I tip my journalistic cap to them- particularly their defense, which is playing lights out this season. Although they gave up their first* (non-official assisted) rushing touchdown to Oklahoma, they were able to keep Sooner QB Landry Jones guessing all night long. That’s not to say that we’re not without some controversy, as the “luck of the Irish” continued when Heisman Candidate Manti Te’o intercepted the Sooners late in the game to seal away the victory. Your perspective of the play will depend on your hopes prior to the game- Irish fans were elated, others thought that the initial play was a case of pass interference resulting in a ball that clearly touched the ground. At any rate, complaining about the officiating is better left to other fan bases; the Irish are undefeated, and have overcome all but one of the games that had people pointing to theirs as the toughest schedule in college football. Congrats indeed.
Although… How much of this gets pinned on Bob Stoops? “Big Game Bob”, as we’ve discussed before, has built a reputation on an early BCS championship and his ability to beat his rival. However, given the state of his rival over the past few years, is it really fair to continue to give him a pass for his team’s coming up short in these types of games? The loss to Notre Dame is the second at home this year… although, to be fair, both teams are undefeated currently. So, Sooner fans- enjoy that BCS win over Connecticut a few years back, and hope that things can get turned around in the B12 for your squadron in the near future.
Since we alluded to them, let’s talk Texas, shall we? It took some late game heroics by a McCoy (no, not that one) to keep from being beaten by Kansas. You read that correctly… the Jayhawks and their “Coach by weight” strategy were within seconds of beating the Longhorns and turning the heat even higher up on coach Mack Brown. I’m not one to jump on a dead bandwagon- check out the great “post a picture of our defense” thread on Shaggy Bevo- but I still can’t figure out how the flagship school in one of the most talent rich states in the nation continues to struggle on the field. Granted, it may be the competition in the conference and adjacent conferences, but you’ve got to think they’d be able to be successful whether or not there’s a prodigy at quarterback.
Also in the B12, Kansas State, the new #3 in the BCS continues to roll, playing even with Texas Tech for a half and then making the adjustment necessary to blow out the Raiders in Lubbock. Read More
Ah, fall… the wind turns brisk and in Los Angeles the birds turn colors and fall from the trees (ht: David Letterman). We talked last week about “pumpkinitis” that’s sweeping the country… some people are taking it seriously. Instead of subjecting yourself to such a task, take time to kick back with some new tunes and enjoy a great weekend in college sports.
In case you haven’t noticed (and if you haven’t, please PLEASE let me know how you’re managing to pull that off), it’s election season. And you thought the BCS was complicated and overwrought… three more weeks, people. You can do it.
“But Mali- there’s never been politics on tBBC… what gives?”
That’s a fine point, but it’s the only way I could think of to lead into this week’s “marquee” matchup. Given how much they like football, I’m sure that there was some tension on the Romney/Ryan campaign bus when Notre Dame and BYU squared off in South Bend. (See, ’cause one candidate is a Mormon and the other is a Catholic… oh, nevermind.) Yup, The Golden Domers met the People of the Golden Plates, with the former looking to continue their undefeated season. The Cougars managed to do something that was pretty rare this season, and scored an offensive touchdown against a resurgent Irish defense, led by Heisman (?) candidate linebacker Manti Te’o. It wasn’t enough, though, as they fell to .500 in a 17-14 loss to Brian Kelly’s team, who was led by backup quarterback Tommy Rees’ and his one completed pass after halftime. So, yeah- that Notre Dame fan in your office has yet another week to be a bit boisterous regarding his fifth ranked favorite squadron.
In order to make sure I cover both sides of the 2012 election, here. Ok, I’m done talking religion and politics… you can come back now.
On the topic of mistakes that I’ve made recently, I’m more than willing to acknowledge that my purchasing the hype regarding West Virginia was misguided. They still seem to be a Big lEast team of sorts, where defense is even more optional than it has been in the B12 lately. This isn’t to take anything away from the October Heisman frontrunner; Colin Klein has rightfully taken the crown from Mr. September, particularly in their “head to head” contest on Saturday. The Wildcats now sit at 7-0 , and even managed to jump Oregon in the BCS rankings this week, all the way up to #3. While I won’t argue with the BCS… At least Oregon beat a team this week that had a defensive pulse. We’ve not seen that from West Virginia, so it’s hard to assess Kansas State’s victory fully. Hooray subjectivity!
Although this is traditionally a “Saturday” wrap up, the truth of the matter is that Thursday’s game between the Ducks and Arizona State was pretty freaking impressive. After an initial ASU score, Oregon cranked up it’s offensive game and scored 43 points before there was even ten minutes left in the second quarter. Mercifully, they pulled back the horses at that point- although, they certainly could have kept rolling if they chose to… when a team scores on a two point conversion this easily, you’ve got to know that they are only stopping themselves for the rest of the game. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that Chip Kelly was pissed that his team was only ranked third in last week’s BCS- since they actually fell one slot this week, I’m afraid to see what happens to this week’s
victim opponent. Read More