We're about 4 weeks from the end of the regular season in college basketball, so we'll take a look at the competition for conference championships using the BCS Stud/Stalker/Sleeper/Poseur Rankings.
Stud: Pretty obvious. This is the leading team in the conference.
Stalker: The closest competitor to The Stud.
Sleeper: You wouldn't bet on them, but they're in the hunt.
Poseur: Not really a fraud, but probably overrated. A team that ought to be in the race, but really is too far in the hole. Most of these teams will probably make the NCAA tournament.
The Stud: Duke (21-1). Two weeks ago I said Stanford was the #1 in the nation. Now I'm ready to give that honor to Duke, and it's because of quality wins. Check out this list of teams they've beaten-Texas, Wake Forest, FSU, Maryland, NC St., UNC, Georgia Tech. With the exception of the dramatic win over UNC, they've beaten all of them handily. This is the best team in the nation right now.
The Stalker: NC. St. (14-5). This is the only team within sniffing distance of Duke (2 games back). They have some great wins in their conference (Wake, Maryland, GT), and all their losses are on the road (Duke, UNC). No one expects the Wolfpack to catch Duke, but this is a quality team that simply hasn't gotten the attention that Wake Forest, UNC, and GT have gotten.
The Sleeper: Georgia Tech (17-5). Again, I don't expect this team to catch Duke, but GT's the only other ACC team with a winning record in conference play. And they've won out of conference too (Texas Tech, UCONN). They're more of a threat for the NCAA tournament than for the ACC title.
The Poseur: Wake Forest (13-6). Remember, everyone was excited about this team because they started 11-0. And look at what the conference schedule did to them!
The Stud: Mississippi St. (20-1). Let's review -if not for a miracle shot by Kentucky, they'd be undefeated. They won at Florida, at SC, and at LSU. Why isn't anyone talking about MSU for a #1 seed?
The Stalker: Kentucky (16-3). They aren't as good as they were last year, but they are a legit threat for the Final Four. They still have great defense, and they still play great away from home.
The Sleeper: South Carolina (19-5). Until last week's narrow defeat at Kentucky, they were atop the SEC East. The schedule is about to get really tough, so we'll see just how good they are.
The Poseur: Florida (14-6). Early on they were #1 in the nation. A brutal schedule has seen them lose 4 of their last 7. Yeah, no one wants to play the Gators in the first round of the NCAAs, but this team has too much talent to be struggling to hold .500 in conference.
The Big XII
The Stud: Oklahoma St. (17-2). Like MSU, no one seems to notice how good they are. After losing the conference opener, they've reeled off 8 straight. That includes wins at Texas and Monday's 20 point thumping of Kansas. They've just cracked the AP Top 10. What took so long?
The Stalker: Texas (17-3). Their only losses are to Arizona, OSU, and Duke. With only one conference loss and another date with OSU, they can still win the Big XII regular season title. And did you see how they embarrassed Oklahoma last week?
The Sleeper: Kansas (15-5). The Jayhawks are just a game behind OSU and Texas in the standings. They aren't as good as those teams-remember Kansas lost to Richmond at home, lost to Iowa St., and just got the snot beaten out of them by OSU. But with so many games left, they are still in the thick of things.
The Poseur: Oklahoma (15-5) and Texas Tech (17-6) have split their season series, so they’ll share the Poseur classification. This is Oklahoma’s only quality win of the season, and Tech has now dropped 4 of 5. But, hey, both of these teams are headed to the Big Dance. I don’t think we can say the same about Missouri.
The Stud: Stanford (20-0). They haven't mathematically clinched the conference yet, but they have a 4 game lead over Cal. So, it's pretty much over.
The Stalker: None. Arizona was supposed to make this a two-way race. See below.
The Sleeper: Oregon (11-6). The Ducks are actually half a game behind Cal in the conference standings, but Cal is 11-9. So look at it this way...if the Ducks go better than .500 in conference, they'll be a lock for the Big Dance. Cal must go .500 in conference just to be sure they have a winning record and are NIT-eligible.
The Poseur: Arizona (14-6). Arizona has 5 losses in conference play, and if you haven't noticed, the PAC-10 ain't as good as the ACC. They are currently ranked #16 in the AP poll after losing to Cal and Stanford last week. In other words, they are the most overrated team in the nation. Arizona has lost to Washington and USC-two teams that don't have 20 wins combined.
The Big Ten
The Stud: None. How many Big Ten teams are in the Top 25? Only Wisconsin, and they lost to Northwestern last week. Might the Big Ten fail to get a team into the Sweet 16 this year? Stud/Stalker/Sleeper/Poseur analysis breaks down for the Big Ten since the whole conference is really having a joke of a season.
So here's a breakdown of the conference race. Wisconsin leads the Big Ten with an 8-2 conference mark. Illinois and MSU are both 7-3, though the Illini just beat the snot out of the Spartans. Purdue, Iowa, and Indiana are all treading water at 5-4. Illinois actually has an advantage. Their next game is home against Wisconsin, and though most of their remaining games are on the road, they don't have as tough a schedule as Wisconsin, so we could see Illinois take the conference. Still, this race is a long way from over. Mediocre, but a tight race nevertheless.
The Big East
The Stud: Pitt (21-2). You'd figure that with 21 wins, you might have a higher quality win than Syracuse. Pitt’s next game is against UCONN, so a win there puts them in the driver’s seat for winning the conference. Even so, the hype about Pitt getting a #1 seed is undeserved. Oklahoma St., Louisville, and Mississippi St. are all better teams.
The Stalker: UCONN (19-4). Shame on the Huskies for not having a better record with all that talent. They ought to be in position for a #1 seed, but a home loss to Providence and a loss at Notre Dame are holding them back. Beating Pitt would give them a huge boost.
The Sleeper: Providence (16-5) and Seton Hall (15-5) are separated by half a game in conference, and they each won on the other’s home court. Both have relatively light schedules remaining, but both have dropped games against teams in the bottom half of the conference. They’re both good teams with an outside shot at stealing the regular season conference championship.
The Poseur: Syracuse (15-5). Granted, they’ve had to play tough conference teams on the road. So what. When you lose 4 of your last 6 games (barely beating Rutgers on their own home court!), the ship is sinking.
The Stud: St. Joseph’s (21-0). For a couple weeks people have been saying the Dayton game would be the biggest challenge to their undefeated season. SJU 81 Dayton 67. Even if they do drop a game, they’re still headed for a #1 seed.
The Stalker. Dayton (19-4). The loss to St. Joe’s is their first loss in conference play.
The Sleeper: George Washington (14-8). They suffered a 4 game skid earlier in the season, but aside from Dayton and St. Joe’s, they’re the only team above .500 in conference play. They still have a game against Dayton, and hence a shot at winning the Western half of the A-10.
The Poseur: Rhode Island (14-9). This is a stretch here, because no one expects RI to be a juggernaut. The thing is that they are only 3-6 in conference, and that means they’ve got little chance of making the Big Dance.
The Stud: Louisville (17-3). They’ve dropped two of three, but they still lead the conference and have the big win over Cincy in their pocket. Wins against Florida and Kentucky have sent their RPI through the roof. Beware the remaining games at Cincy, at Marquette, and against Memphis.
The Stalker: Cincinnati (17-3). Tied for the league lead and awaiting the rematch against Louisville.
The Sleeper: Memphis (17-4). Guess who else is 7-2 in CUSA. The Tigers aren’t getting any press, but they are right in the thick of things after an 8 (and counting) game win streak.
The Poseur: Marquette (13-7). With a 4-5 conference record and a weak RPI, last year’s Final Four team may be headed to the NIT this year.
posted by uberschuck 2/11/2004 11:31:00 PM
Cuban wants no dream team
"Patriotism?" Cuban said. "The Olympics are about money first, second and last. They charge billions for broadcast rights, billions for sponsorship rights, and there are bribery charges in multiple countries to get access to Olympic money."
It's unfair to call out an owner whose foundation has raised more than $300,000 for 20 families though the Fallen Patriot Fund on this subject, anyway.
Besides, for those like Brown who still believe in some sort of idealistic Olympic landscape, would it be so bad if the U.S.A. sent its amateurs to play the best amateurs from Brazil and Yugoslavia and Germany?
Wouldn't it be more entertaining to see Connecticut's Texas-born shot-blocker, Emeka Okafor, and Duke's ridiculous zone-buster, J.J. Redick, in the Olympic Games than to see Ray Allen win a second Olympic gold?
Cuban hits this one on the head. The Olympics are not about goodwill and brotherhood, it's about making some really rich people even more money. why should Cuban, another really rich guy, risk his investment so other people can make money off of it?
Olympic basketball and World Cup soccer. no one really cares. Entire countries don't shut down for this. Everybody wants to win, obviously, but it's not the lifelong dream of every little kid shooting hoops. Their dream is to play in the NBA. I'm a sucker for the Olympics. I really like it, and I'm glad they pulled the plug on bogus amateurism, letting the very best go. but you know what, if the very best don't want to go, that's their choice.
Because, really, the summer games are about track and swimming. Everything else is a sidelight.
posted by Poseur 2/11/2004 02:03:00 PM
Hockey reads BartCop
Well not really, but after we bitched about what's wrong with hockey, they did move quickly. Let's review the changes...
-Goaltenders will no longer be permitted to play the puck behind the goal line and the goal line will be moved back to its former location, three feet closer to the end boards.
I'm not sure I like this at all. Let's punish goalies who are good stick-handlers? Let's only have one-dimensional guys in there. If they can't play the puck, who cares!
-Goaltender pads will be reduced to a maximum of 10 inches in width from 12 inches. As well, all goalie equipment will now have to be approved by league officials before it can be worn in a game, and the league is working with manufacturers to develop a new fabric that will make goalie jerseys cling more tightly.
Huge rule change. Enforce the pads rules and don't let goalies clog the net just by standing there.
-The "tag-up" rule for offside will be reinstated. Players won't have to exit the zone completely before the puck is fired back inside the attacking area, but will only have to clear the blue line before returning to the enemy zone.
Good rule change, but not radical at all.
-The league will test the concepts of a three-point system and shootouts next season in the American Hockey League.
Yeah, because the concept of the OT tie has really opened up scoring. This encourages not playing for the tie, but does nothing for scoring.
-The AHL will also test out expanded blue lines and red lines that will be 24 inches, larger than the 12-inch lines now used but thinner than the 36-inch models tested in eight AHL games earlier this season.
Whoop dee doo. It'll effect play, but not by a huge amount.
-For a penalty shot to be called, a skater no longer has to be in control of the puck. He can also be leading a race for a loose puck that would then create a breakaway.
Huge change, but since when can skaters score penalty shots? Have we picked up on that trend?
-As well, goals that are now disallowed because the net has been jiggled slightly off its moorings will count.
All in all, nothing too radical. And it avoids the most simple solution: eliminate the two-line pass rule. Oh, and widen the rinks.
posted by Poseur 2/11/2004 01:54:00 PM
Mexico doesn't like US soccer
Mexico defeated the United States 4-0 in Olympic soccer qualifying Tuesday night before a deafeningly anti-American crowd that nearly drowned out the U.S. anthem with boos.
After the game, a few dozen fans - some of them clutching beers and apparently drunk - chanted "Osama! Osama!" as U.S. players left the stadium for their bus.
Police in riot gear held back the crowd and urged people to calm down.
U.S. Coach Glenn Myernick said the disturbances had no effect on the game.
We're talking about a region so rough that some fans (Honduras) have been known to throw bags of urine at opposing teams. And the author of this column is bitching about verbal taunts? Come on, get a thicker skin. This is what international soccer is about, nationalistic and often vicious crowds. As long as they don't kill people, Turkey I'm looking at you, it's fair game.
If the US protests this loss, our soccer team is run by the biggest group of whiners on earth. To the team's credit, it seems the only one whining is FOX Sports.
posted by Poseur 2/11/2004 01:44:00 PM
Brunell to the Skins?
Of course the Washington Redskins should try to get Mark Brunell. Only a handful of teams are lucky enough to find one young quarterback, put him on the field to take every snap, and have it work out.
Since 1995, only two NFL quarterbacks have won more games than Brunell, who barely played last season, and that would be Favre and Steve McNair. Yes, Brunell is past his prime; he'll turn 34 in September and he missed 14 starts in his eight-year run with Jacksonville from '95 to 2002. In fact, you don't even get Brunell with the idea that he's going to start all 16 games because he's done that only twice in his career.
Past his prime is right. The guy's been on a decline for the past four seasons. Forget about his health, even when he's in the game, Brunell has been no better than a league average quarterback in the past four seasons. And that's being nice.
This isn't a bad idea because bringing in Brunell is stupid in and of itself. It's not. But it will be stupid once they give him anything more than the league minimum. Why bother? Pick up a QB off the waiver wire who is mildly competent and you should be okay. But there may be a bidding war on Brunnel and his numbers just don't merit the attention. Let him go the Cowboys, who will certainly overpay for a QB with a pulse. The Skins should stick with Ramsey, get a nice backup who can throw a little bit, and use their money on something they need. Like a defense. Or a running back.
posted by Poseur 2/10/2004 11:09:00 AM
The goalies are too good
All six netminders played superbly, particularly the Wild's Dwayne Roloson, who thrilled the hometown fans with a circus-like stick save late in the third period.
"The goaltending was unbelievable," said the East's Mark Messier, an All-Star for the 15th time. "You can take out every red line and blue line in the game and we'll never have the scoring we had back in the 1980s."
Consider that the final word in the debate that overshadowed All-Star weekend. The NHL's midseason gathering was less a celebration of the game than a massive brainstorming session on how to fix a broken, bogged-down sport. All of the usual suggestions -- move the nets, remove the lines, shrink the pads, widen the rink -- were bandied about. Those ideas and more will be discussed when the general managers gather in Las Vegas this week to discuss the state of the game.
Rules and rink changes may ease the constipation of the game, but unless the net is widened by 10 feet or so, the wild and woolly days of the 1980s are behind us forever. For starters, goalies are, as Messier said, better than ever.
They ain't kidding. SEVEN goalies have a GAA below 2. TWO! Fourty-one have a GAA under three. Ten years ago, A GAA under three would make you an All-Star, now it won't even get you a starting job. It's not just the goalies, it's the neutral zone trap, the fact onstruction hasn't been called properly in three decades, and the extrem micromanagement of the games. Where's the open ice?
The All-Star game was just a reminder how much hockey sucks right now. Which is a shame, because hockey is a great game, just not how it is played in the current NHL.
posted by Poseur 2/10/2004 11:02:00 AM
The Cardinal still unbeaten
I was going to write on Stnaford and St. Joe's odds of going undefeated, but I'll let that slide a day or two. Because, did you see that shot?! The Arizona-Stanford game really was, to quote Dick Vitale, unbelievable. It felt like March.
posted by Poseur 2/09/2004 01:22:00 PM
Colorado rape trial continues
No, not that one.
Joyce Lawrence, a former state lawmaker, said she will not resign as some have asked, and instead is working to get victims' advocates on the commission.
Lawrence is co-chair of a special panel created to look into accusations the football program used alcohol and sex to entice promising high school players.
Two women have sued the school, the state's flagship university, saying they were raped at a December 2001 off-campus party in Boulder attended by football players and recruits. A third woman also filed a lawsuit, saying she was raped after the party.
Hours after her appointment on Friday, Lawrence told a reporter, "The question I have for the ladies in this is why they are going to parties like this and drinking or taking drugs and putting themselves in a very threatening or serious position."
Blaming the victim in rape is always a bad idea. No one ever, ever, ever desrves to get raped. It doesn't matter if she's drunk, high, or not wearing clothes. And women's groups are right to keep a close eye on the decision coming out of Boulder.
That doesn't mean these women weren't engaged in high-risk activities. They don't deserve to be assaulted, but going to an off campus party with a bunch of football players and recruits? They weren't going there to sell Girl Scout cookies. These women are guilty of some incredibly poor judgement, so I don't have a problem with the committee chair pointing this out. If I walk down a city street in a bad neighborhood with 100 dollar bills coomingout my pockets, I will get mugged. I don't sesrve to get mugged, and it doesn't excuse the mugger, but I still engaged in a high-risk behavior. I bear some responsibility.
This doesn't excuse the players. they should be prosecuted. These women may be victims, but they are not innocent victims.
posted by Poseur 2/09/2004 01:18:00 PM