Daily Dribble: 1/14
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.. have the top 6 teams in the country ever lost on the same day? With the exception of #2 Florida who rocked South Carolina.. the other top teams were in serious danger of losing on Saturday. #1 UNC obviously ended up losing by 6, #3 UCLA won by a point, #4 Wisconsin won by 6 in a poorly played game at Northwestern, #5 OSU won by 2, and #6 Kansas won in overtime. UCLA, Wisconsin, and Kansas all were down at half before pulling out close victories.
But what separates a team like UCLA from a Washington is the ability to win close games on the road. The #24 Huskies by the way are in a tailspin, having lost 5 of 6 games.. the last two which have come down to the wire. Even UCONN can now claim to have accomplished something Washington hasn't.. winning a game away from home. The #22 version of the Huskies beat St John's in the Garden, while the #24 version lost in overtime at California.
The only thing saving Washington from being in last place is a bad Arizona State team that is already 0-6 in conference play. While UW keeps losing, Stanford is suddenly on fire. The Cardinal maintained the momentum from last weekend's road victory at Virginia.. by beating two ranked teams at Maple Pavilion. (Washington and then Washington State). Anthony Goods (who ended up with 30) hit a deep three with 3 seconds left to give Stanford the win over the #23 Cougars yesterday. The win puts Stanford at 3-2 in conference play, tied with upstarts USC and Cal. At 13-5, USC probably wont end up in the Top 25, but the Trojans are playing at that level. While last year's upstart freshman in LA, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, slowly fades from the national scene.. USC's Taj Gibson is picking up the slack this year. Gibson only ended up with 9 and 8 against UCLA, but his post presence makes all the difference. Gibson is part of a great rookie class along with Daniel Hackett and Dwight Lewis gives. Hackett and Lewis might not dominate the ball or the game, but these are solid 6-5 wings that play with maturity beyond their years.
Enough about the Pac-10.. the point is simply that its the most fun and exciting league out there right now. With UNC's loss, Florida will move back into the #1 spot in the AP (though UCLA only has 1 loss so I'm not entirely sure why..). The Gators next four games are against Ole Miss, Miss St, Auburn, and Vandy. So lets just mark down their record as 20-2 and reconvene in a couple of weeks when they face Tennessee. UNC's loss came in just their 2nd true road game of the season, and 1st in ACC play. Perhaps I should have seen this one coming.. but I really didn't. Sure, VT has beaten Duke.. but the Hokies also have losses against Marshall and Western Michigan. They have won 9 of 10 though, and at 13-4 with wins against UNC and Duke.. I'm sure they'll suddenly get lots of love in the polls. It wasn't an awful effort for UNC.. who dominated the boards and got off 16 more shots than VT. The shots just weren't falling and VT's high-pressure defense led to a lot of steals for the Hokies. The question though is whether UNC's 2-2 record away from home so far will be a sign of things to come. The Heels now head to Clemson in what will be a game with huge ACC implications. With VT knocking off UNC, the team quietly atop the ACC is Boston College at 4-0. Don't jump back on the Eagles bandwagon yet.. the 4 teams they've beaten are 4-10 in league play.
#15 Nevada picked up a huge road win last night at Hawaii. Besides the fact that Hawaii is one of the hardest places to win a game (you can imagine why), they did it without Nick Fazekas. The win was the 2nd on the road in a row without their top star, who should return from an ankle injury shortly.
Its kind of crazy how Creighton is suddenly back in the lead in the MVC. The Bluejays were preseason Top 25 before struggling early on. In hindsight though, the Jays 4 non-league losses don't look that bad though. All 4 were on the road: at Nebraska, Dayton, Fresno, and Hawaii. Nebraska, now 11-4, turned out to be better than expected, Dayton is 12-4, Fresno 13-4, and as noted above, Hawaii is one of the hardest places to win. Still, before Friday's road win at UNI, I didn't think much of Creighton's league record since they hadn't played the best teams.
All the love for Appalachian State got in the Mountaineers heads. Coming in at 12-3 (and a brief member of CHN's Top 50), App St lost to a bad Elon team at home. App St was up big at half before collapsing in the 2nd. The loss drops them to 4-1 in conference play and allows Davidson to take a commanding lead at 6-0 (though the SoCo is divided into 2 divisions). Davidson is now 15-3 overall after beating Wofford yesterday. Junior F Boris Meno had the best game of his left with 25 points and 14 boards. Davidson faces App St next Saturday in a huge conference game.
Its kind of odd to think that Kentucky, one of the most storied programs in NCAA history, is going under the radar.. but has anybody noticed the Cats have won ten straight? Its still hard to tell how good this team is though because none of the ten wins are over very good teams. For whatever reason, UK's first 3 league games were against the 3 worse SEC West teams (Ole Miss, Miss St, and Auburn). UK's schedule doesn't really get challenging until February. They have a brutal stretch at one point against #2 Florida, at #20 Tennessee, at #8 Alabama, and then back home against #18 LSU..
- Dribble Out -