Wow is the Pac 10 a mess. UCLA is supposed to be the boss in the west, and they drop an out of conference game to West Virginia, who at best is a middle of the pack Big East team. Granted, it's no easy task traveling across the country in the middle of conference play, especially without your starting point guard, but for a team expected to contend for a National title I expected a little more. Simply put, they obviously have no back court depth, meaning they are one foul trouble game away from calling it a season early in March. Then you have the mess that is the rest of the conference outside of the Washington State Cougars. Oregon continues their free fall, having lost 4 of their last 6, and the on again off again Arizona Wildcats are apparently on again, sweeping their 3 game trip to the Pacific northwest. A lot of experts still contend this conference is due for 6 bids to the Big Dance (UCLA, USC, Zona, Oregon, Washington St., Stanford), but I've seen harder 6-packs at the bar in the bowling alley. Even more scratching than the Pac 10 though, was the Wright St./Butler matchup earlier this week. Despite waxing Wright St. (proud Alma mater of none Vitaly Potapenko I might add) by 41 in their first meeting, the Bulldogs were only 4.5 point favorites. Add to that, Butler was on a 9 game, in conference winning streak, a stretch in which they averaged winning by 20 points a game. Well, chalk this one up in the category of "hey when the spread looks flat out sketchy, Vegas knows something that the rest of us don't". And boy did they ever. Not only did Wright St. cover, they flat out won the game by 12. As if it was even necessary, there's yet another reason why I don't bet on games. Other big games this week saw that (surprise to everyone that's not me) Kentucky still can't beat a ranked squad (0-4 this year) falling to Florida at Rupp Arena, and the A&M Aggies proved their worth by droppin a bottle of "leen " on Durant and the Longhorns. Still plenty of big ones to come this week though. Now let's welcome the Georgetown Hoyas to the Top 10 party for the first time this season. After smackin' Marquette in the grill by 18, they take the lone Big East spot available in my poll (hey what can I say, the Big East ain't what it used to be) away from the Pitt Panthers. Which means they will promptly drop the next two against West Virginia and Nova. Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to share my limerick about the Duke Blue Devils, who have lost 4 in a row for the first time since '95-'96, and dropped out of the top 25 polls for the first time I can remember (probably because it hasn't happened in the 10 year history of the ESPN poll)...
There once was a a guy named Coach K,
Mad white kids he always would play,
But now they can't win,
No matter which state their in,
And I think Josh McRoberts is GAY.
College Hoops Top 10
1. North Carolina (22-3) 1
2. Florida (23-2) 2
3. Kansas (21-4) 4
4. Wisconsin (24-2) 5
5. Ohio St. (22-3) 3
6. Texas A&M (21-3) 8
7. Memphis (21-3) 9
8. Georgetown (19-5) NR
9. Nevada (22-2) 10
10. UCLA (21-3) 7
just missed: Pittsburgh, Southern Illinois, Washington St., Indiana, Texas, Butler
dropped: (6) Pittsburgh
To watch the rapid assent of Southern Illinois and Georgetown, and the likewise descents of Duke and Oregon as the "experts" wake up and smell ME...go here http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/rankingsindex
Texas Tech @ Texas A&M
Southern Illinois @ Missouri St.
Michigan @ Michigan St.
Alabama @ Florida
Duke @ Boston College
USC @ Arizona
And make sure you check back on Friday for my break down of one of my favorite weekends of the year....the Bracket Busters! (definition: games played by smaller conference schools in order to help bolster their "at-large" chances come tournament time)
News and Notes *When this story broke last night, I was so stunned all I could manage was a combination laugh/gasp/smile. And believe me, that's no easy expression to have. But after that initial reaction, the one I had was more "what took you so long". Owner Dean Spanos claims that the only reason Marty wasn't fired immediately after the Chargers home playoff loss to the Patriots was because the organization was encouraged by the impressive staff that would be returning with him. Well, with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips now the head coach in Dallas, and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron the head man in Miami, apparently Marty became expendable. And you know San Diego general manager AJ Smith is doing back flips. It was no secret that Smith and Schottsy never got along and hat Smith has wanted Marty out for a few years now. I can't blame him either. Marty may have led the bolts to a 14-2 regular season record this season, but the guy sucks in the post season. The Patriots loss aside (because we all know how tough it is to beat the Pats), Schottenheimer has been as good at winning playoff games as George Bush is at reading books not written by Dr. Seuss. So, now the question becomes, who gets this job? Front runners at this point have to be USC head coach Pete Caroll, Cal coach Jeff "Huge" Tedford, Bears DC Ron Rivera, 49ers assistants Norv Turner and Mike Singletary and former Atlanta head man and current Seattle assistant Jim Mora. Carroll is facing sanctions at USC and could be looking for a way out if given total control, and Norv Tuner is the one who set up that offense that Cam Cameron was running, so I'd consider them the front runners for now. Some dark horses would have to be Bill Parcells, Dennis "I am who you thought I was" Green, and maybe even Detroit offensive coordinator Mike "Mad Genius" Martz. All have had success as head coaches, and none of them have any real commitment keeping them from jumping at the job. To say this search is going to get interesting would be a drastic understatement, so stay tuned. I mean geez, even when they finally land a head coach they are still going to need two coordinators. Good for the NFL though, giving baseball a taste of it's own medicine by stretching out it's season through various media stories. Take that Bud Selig!
*I didn't watch the Pro Bowl myself, but when I saw this highlight of the fake punt attempted by Brian Moorman, part of me wishes I had. Special ups to my man Billy the Hood for calling the play by the way... (make sure to watch this bad boy all the way through)
Dare I say there is another "Mormon" I wish that had happened to instead? You know who I'm talkin' about....and if you don't it's Danny Ainge....but please try to pay attention more in the future.
*If you thought you were already sick of Tiki Barber, you ain't see nothin' yet. During the season, Tiki made no bones about the fact that he was going into broadcasting after his final year with the Giants, and this week he settled on working for NBC. Not only will he be working the massive desk for the patriotically titled "Football Night in America", but apparently he will also be a football correspondent for the Today show. Great, just great. Football fans need Tiki Barber 8 times a week about as much as Barroid Bonds needs help preparing a needle. I can only hope he gets tired of covering the game faster than he did of playing. Free tip for CBS and FOX. Get your TORCH TIKI shirts ready, because we are gonna need 'em come week 3....of the pre-season.
*Drum roll please! (this is where you rap your hands in a drum-like fashion on your lap, desk or the head of the nearest bald person) Pitchers and catchers are now reporting to Spring training! While I won't really start talking Sox until the actual Spring training games are being played, feel free to start following every move by Daisuke Matsuzaka and the rest of the boys at http://www.bostondirtdogs.com/.
*And of course, let's also get a mock drum roll together for Bean Town's finest, the Boston Celtics! With the team franchise record of 14 straight losses well in their rear view mirror, it's time for the NBA record baby! For that, the C's will need only 6 more losses to bring this embarrassing streak to an all-time mark of 24 straight. Unfortunately, I just don't see it happening now that Paul Pierce has returned to the lineup. Don't get me wrong, I want Glen Rivers and Danny Ainge to lose every game they're involved in, but the teams in this league just aren't good enough to keep the Green down much longer. Let's not totally rule it out though. The C's last game before the All-Star break is a home game against the Milwaukee Bucks (19-32) on Wednesday. And if they don't win that one look the hell out. After the break, Boston heads to the West coast for a 5 game trip against Sacramento, Phoenix, LA Lakers, Utah and Houston. Of that list, only the Kings are below .500 and out of the playoffs. Could get dicey. And one more note. I'm a big fan of statistical analysis when it comes to sports, but sometimes the numbers just don't add up. Example: Despite being blatantly the worst team in the league, the Boston Celtics are ranked 2nd to last in front of the Bucks in ESPN.com's John Hollinger's rankings. Hollinger uses various stats and formulas to rank all the teams in the league from top to bottom, yet somehow the Celts have managed to stay out of the basement. Hey Hollinger, try actually watching a game once in a while and you'll see that it's no coincidence Boston has lost 18 straight. They aren't better than you think, you just need to tweak your formula. I think it's actually missing the crucial "Mormon Factor", in which you automatically finish last if your general manager is an absolute idiot.