Friday, January 18, 2008


Week of the Unexpected

You remember St. Louis...the team that set a shot-clock era record for futility by managing only 20 points in a loss to George Washington? What a difference a week makes, as number 21 Rhode Island fell victim to Rick Majerus's charges in a rather empty Kiel (or whatever it's called now) Center, 68-61.

This result is just an example of both of this week's key themes so far. 1) It's not going to be easy for the favorites in the Atlantic 10 and 2) you just don't know what's going to happen night in and night out anymore. This second theme is simply a continuation of something that happened every week during football season. Well, up until the National Championship game, that is.

To me, the biggest shock of the week wasn't St. Louis more than tripling their scoring output of the previous Thursday. No. My jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw this result pop up on ESPN's bottom line Wednesday night.


Um...did I see that correctly? Army, who typically is (but at pushing .500 this year isn't) to put it nicely (and please picture Scott Van Pelt impersonating Stephen A. Smith here) TERRIBLE!, won at the Hart Center.

Yes, you're eyes aren't deceiving you for once, Chris...

OK, I just wanted to be sure.

Anyway, the Crusaders are now 0-2 in the Patriot League. (They lost at Lafayette Saturday.) So they won't be popping up in the bracket on Sunday.

Cleveland State will be sticking around this week after beating Butler 56-52 last night. After the second win over a ranked opponent in their history, the Vikings now have a game and a half lead at the top of the Horizon League. Butler will have to settle for an at-large this week.

Two teams that will make it in this week: Louisville, after a 20-point win over Marquette, and Massachusetts. The Minutemen defeated Dayton on Wednesday night, and they'll likely replace the St. Joseph's Hawks who fell to Charlotte that night.

Weekend Preview

I'll be paying attention to two games in particular on Saturday out of selfish interests. Syracuse has a big home bubble tilt with Villanova. A visit from Rutgers ended the Orange's two-game conference losing streak. The Wildcats 12-3 record while impressive on the surface, includes 7 wins over teams ranked 150 or below in the RPI and a 1-2 mark in true road games.

Florida hosts Kentucky at night. Both teams suffered close losses to the SEC's Mississippi contingent earlier in the week. The Wildcats tournament hopes are slim at this point, and a road win in Gainesville would build on the momentum of last Saturday's Vanderbilt win. The Gators simply need to make their free throws and stop shooting so many threes. The result of the game in Oxford could have been a bit different had UF done either.

Sunday night Oregon goes to Pullman to play Washington State. The Ducks dropped one in Seattle Thursday night and, with a loss to the Cougars, would fall to .500 in the Pac-10 heading into a home weekend with the LA schools next week.

The LA schools meet at Pauley Saturday with USC staring straight at a 1-4 Pac-1o start. You can bet OJ Mayo and the boys are looking forward to a date in Corvallis with the helpless Beavers next Thursday.

Drake and Illinois State are both unbeaten in the Missouri Valley heading into their meeting in Des Moines tomorrow. One team will suffer their first league loss, but expect to see both of them in the bracket Sunday.

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