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Old 11-30-2006, 02:42 PM   #31
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Duke is not that good of a team this year. I can't believe a bad Indiana team that was playing badly was able to have a last second shot to tie at Cameron.
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Old 11-30-2006, 02:45 PM   #32
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the rest of the article

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For now, Butler's 7-0 start would be enough to earn a (1) next to the Bulldogs' name in the AP Top 25 if I still had a vote. Yes, I'm serious. I agree with Jay Bilas: The Top 25 should serve as nothing more than a snapshot of the current state of college basketball, and who has done more to date than Butler? (UCLA, maybe. But where's the fun in that?)

Gonzaga reached the final opposite Butler by snatching the heart out of then-No. 2 North Carolina. The Zags were down 10-0, but from that point on basically dominated the game. That set the stage for a Horizon League-West Coast Conference final -- pretty much what everyone had in their NIT office pool, right?

(OK, maybe next year somebody organizes an NIT office pool. A small one.)

The Missouri Valley is doing what it does best: upsetting higher-profile teams with tempo, toughness, defense and poise. Wichita State beat then-No. 6 LSU in Baton Rouge; Missouri State beat then-No. 7 Wisconsin on a neutral floor; Illinois State beat St. John's; Southern Illinois beat two teams from prime-time leagues, Minnesota and Virginia Tech; and Bradley walloped two Big East teams, DePaul and Rutgers.

(In fairness it should be noted that the preseason glam team in the Valley, Creighton, was upset by Nebraska, but I'd imagine the Bluejays would still trade athletic budgets with the Cornhuskers anytime.)

In fact, the Big East has taken all manner of lumps from supposedly lesser programs: Georgetown lost to Old Dominion; Cincinnati lost to Wofford; Providence lost to Brown; Louisville lost to Dayton; Villanova lost to Xavier; and St. John's and Rutgers have lost to just about everybody. Kind of the opposite of the football zen in the league right now.

There have been many other uprisings against teams from the Big Six conferences that tend to get most of the NCAA bids: Oral Roberts memorably took down then-No. 2 Kansas in Lawrence; Winthrop won at Mississippi State; Western Kentucky won at Georgia. And the Mountain West has been kneecapping Big Six teams left and right: Air Force by 34 over Stanford, by 38 over Colorado and by 14 over Texas Tech; New Mexico by 41 over Colorado and 24 over Kansas State; and San Diego State over California.

The obvious question is why. A few theories:

Neutral courts. Early-season tournaments often afford underdogs a chance to play the big boys on fairly even footing. Ask most mid-major coaches and that's all they ask for: an even shot outside the other team's gym.

The NIT did a wise and wonderful thing by moving its early-round games to at least pseudo-neutral sites. Butler got a chance to play Notre Dame and Indiana at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis as opposed to South Bend and Bloomington. I'd imagine coach Todd Lickliter was grateful for the opportunity.

Now, if we could get the Maui Invitational to open its field to another team from outside the power conferences besides Chaminade, we might see parity make it all the way to paradise.

Experience. In a time when big-time programs so often seem to be permanently young due to early entry to the NBA draft, George Mason was dominated by upperclassmen who knew how to play the game and knew how to play together. Same with many of the giant slayers this year.

Oral Roberts is led by four-year starters Caleb Green and Ken Tutt. Kansas, for all its talent, is led in scoring by a freshman and followed by three sophomores. That disparity had to factor in to the shocker in Lawrence.

Butler's top seven scorers all are juniors and seniors. Air Force's starting five consists of four seniors and a junior. Wichita State's six leading scorers are all juniors and seniors. Winthrop's top five in minutes played are all juniors and seniors.

The difference in experience levels should, theoretically, be an even bigger factor in November than in March. Many teams are trying to work hotshot recruits into their rotations right now, figuring out which combinations work best. Coaches dealing with upperclassmen don't have as many mix-and-match issues at this time of year.

Motivation. This is an age-old issue when overdogs play underdogs, but it's probably more pronounced in the early season than in the NCAAs, when every game is do-or-die. The so-called lesser teams and players have something to prove -- and some of the mid-major schools certainly have a stronger grasp of the stakes in these early games. You think Missouri State, after its NCAA Tournament snub last year, wasn't fully aware what a neutral-court win over Wisconsin would do for its postseason résumé?

The youth basketball star system is bad for college ball, especially the high end. This is not breaking news, and certainly not a new refrain from me. AAU basketball and shoe wars have retarded the progress and warped the perspectives of some players who are wearing the most glamorous jerseys, making them harder to coach. (Which is why the movement to deflate the summer shoe-camp scene is a promising development.)

I'm guessing Lickliter, Wichita State's Mark Turgeon, Winthrop's Gregg Marshall, Western Kentucky's Darrin Horn and Air Force's Jeff Bzdelik don't have to spend an inordinate time attending to inflated and easily bruised egos. Their rosters tend to be populated with solid players who are more familiar with basketball fundamentals than the phone numbers of agent runners.

So you have a few theories to agree or disagree with, but you cannot dispute the results of this first jarring month. Now we'll see whether the Mason Revolution has legs.
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Old 11-30-2006, 02:47 PM   #33
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Damn the midmajors. My bracket sucked last year cause of them. This year I am using the mascot method.

Which mascot would win in a fight. That is the team that will win.
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Old 11-30-2006, 02:51 PM   #34
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Originally posted by Dalton



I don't believe it. The big 10 is a basket ball powerhouse. House of Power I tell you. Built with bricks and mortar.
uh huh... the acc has never lost the acc/big10 challange... duke, in fact, is undefeated over the history of the tourney.

only purdue, wisconsin and northwestern won this year. big10 ain't lookin' so big.
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Old 11-30-2006, 02:54 PM   #35
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Originally posted by Dalton

Built with bricks.
This part is accurate.
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Old 11-30-2006, 02:57 PM   #36
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I'm pretty sure Dalton was being facetious
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Old 11-30-2006, 02:58 PM   #37
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Facetious is the only word in the English language that has all 5 vowels each appearing only once, and in order.
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Old 11-30-2006, 02:58 PM   #38
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No, I wasn't. I was saying something that wasn't true as if it was true.
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Old 12-01-2006, 09:18 AM   #39
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i've been fooled with sarcasm.

i'm so ashamed.
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Old 12-01-2006, 09:48 AM   #40
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Originally posted by Headache in a Suitcase
i've been fooled with sarcasm.

i'm so ashamed.

Don't worry - I was told that my humor is not that funny, so maybe it was just beneath you?

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Old 12-01-2006, 10:19 AM   #41
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I didn't think anything was beneath our beloved Headache.
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Old 12-01-2006, 10:26 AM   #42
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I didn't think anything was beneath our beloved Headache.

And a "your mom" joke for the win!!!!
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Old 12-01-2006, 10:53 AM   #43
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caaaaash money
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Old 01-09-2007, 11:20 PM   #44
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Ohio State-Wisconsin was pretty intense. Greg Oden has to learn to move around and stop letting other big men push him out of the lane.
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Old 01-10-2007, 06:56 AM   #45
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He can perfect that skill next year in Boston with some tutelege from Robert Parish and occasional guest teacher Bill Russell.
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