I'll be honest.. I thought Butler had no shot against Gonzaga. I thought Gonzaga was a step up from Tennessee, and the interior presence of Heytvelt would be too much.. and I of course was wrong. Butler surprised again and is now 6-0 with wins over Notre Dame, Indiana, Tennessee, and Gonzaga. Still the question remains: Is this team for real? Or to put it another way, is this team good enough to make the Tournament as an at-large bid? It should be interesting.. the fact is a team that so heavily relies on the long ball can go sour at any point. You know there's a cold streak waiting at some point.. and the question is how will the committee deal with Butler's inevitable conference losses to teams like Loyola Chicago or Detroit. As good as their start has been, my guess is that wont look nearly as good two months from now. Notre Dame is a mediocre team that will probably end up in the 125-175 RPI range. Indiana would be lucky to end up in the RPI top 50 and will most likely end up with more than 10 losses. Tennesse, though ranked when Butler beat them may simply end up in the 40-50 range as well. Its conceivable that when all is said and done, the only Top 50 RPI wins that Butler has are against Gonzaga, and perhaps Purdue if they beat the Boilermakers in a couple of weeks. My guess is that Butler will lose 5-7 games the rest of the season. It will be interesting to see what happens if they dont win the Horizon League tournament.
Miami OH is only 2-3 right now, but Charlie Coles team has given Illinois and Kentucky fits on the defensive end, and the Redhawks seem likely to be a major player in the MAC.
If you read CHN, you probably know about Rodney Stuckey on Eastern Washington. Last year's super freshman is not experiencing any sophomore slump and is now averaging 27 points and almost 5 rebounds per game. The Eagles played Gonzaga closely to start the season, and were in last night's game against Washington till the end. EWU, Northern Arizona, and Montana were supposed to battle it out for the Big Sky title.. but Montana has struggled to a 1-4 start. The Grizzlies have a new coach and perhaps their struggles will continue into conference play.
Louisville fell to Dayton 68-64 in Cincinnati last night. The Cardinals are one of the hardest teams to figure out this season. David Padgett, like usual, is struggling with an injury, but he did score 14 points in 24 minutes. Sophomore guard Andre McGee will now be out 3-6 weeks and talented freshman Derrick Caracter is sitting out the season's first few games. You can never count out a Rick Pitino squad, but their might just be too many questions and issues for this team to overcome.
Big win for Missouri State obviously over #7 Wisconsin on Friday. The Bears came back today to face Oklahoma State, but fell in overtime 73-70. Still, Barry Hinson knows that the win over a ranked Big Ten team may be the difference between an NIT invite and an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. Oklahoma State by the way is quietly 7-0 behind Mario Boggan's 21 points per game. The Cowboys have two more easy wins coming up before an interesting game at #14 Syracuse next weekend.
Its unfortunate Florida vs Kansas, arguably one of the most exciting games of the entire season is relgated to 11 o'clock eastern on ESPN2. This is the type of highlight laden game that would be perfect for the general public. Not only is the game late enough that no one will watch it, but it will be too late for East Coast newspapers to even get the score or a story in.