February 13, 2006
Poll Position: AP &
Coaches Poll Discussion
The latest conference RPI
standings has the depleted Conference USA rated 14th, the West
Coast Conference 13th and the Atlantic 10 ranked as the 9th
best conference. Yet Memphis (#3 AP, Coaches) has an RPI of 4, Gonzaga
(#5 AP, Coaches) is rated 10th and George Washington (#7 AP, #8
Coaches) sports an RPI of … 38. The difference? The Zags have played
against the likes of UConn, Michigan State, Maryland and Memphis before
starting conference play. The Tigers for their part played Duke, the Zags,
UCLA, Texas and Tennessee. The Colonials, however, only featured two
somewhat difficult games on their early season schedule - beating Maryland
and suffering their only loss of the season to NC State (#21 AP, #18
Keep this in mind when
someone tells you strength of schedule doesn’t matter. The Zags learned
their lesson the hard way in 2002, when – despite being ranked #6 in both
polls – where handed a 6 seed on Selection Sunday. Watch where the
Colonials get seeded in the NCAA Tournament, and get ready to hear some
howls of protest emanating from Washington, DC.
Just like when it seemed
we would have a reprieve from the never-ending soap opera that is Indiana
Hoosiers basketball, Indiana goes and loses five of six, and now three
straight, to drop out of the Top 25 – drumming up the “Davis on the hot seat
stories” all over again. Coach Davis did himself no favors in an interview
with ESPN’s Andy Katz this week, where he all but blamed overzealous Hoosier
fans for the team’s recent woes. "I watched [Saturday's] second half and
you could see we were playing with no energy. It's really a shame,” he said.
“They have no idea what they've done to the players."
In fairness to the coach,
the loss of D.J White early in the season in all probability has more to do
with Indiana’s struggles than anything Mike Davis has done. But blaming the
fans? C’mon. He should be grateful he’s not coaching in Lexington right
Rock chalk Jayhawk.
Given up for dead a month ago after dropping games to Kansas State and rival
Missouri, Kansas (#22 AP, Coaches) re-entered the Top 25 this week after
reeling off seven in a row in conference play to take second place in the
Big 12 standings behind Texas. This is an incredibly young team – now
starting three freshmen and two sophomores. The difference has been the
development of Julian Wright and Darnell Jackson, gaining minutes at the
expense of everyone’s favorite walk-on, Christian Moody. This is a team
that’s just going to get better. Add in another stellar freshman class next
season by Bill Self, led by Sherron Collins, and the future in Lawrence is
very, very bright.
Speaking of teams on the
rise, how about those Ohio State Buckeyes (#12 AP, Coaches)? They’ve just
won their fourth in a row, the latest a statement win over Illinois (#14 AP,
#13 Coaches). They are now only a half game behind Iowa (#18 AP, #20
Coaches) in the Big Ten standings. They start four seniors, who’s shot
selection and deadly outside shooting has them leading the Big Ten in field
goal percentage. For Buckeye fans worried about next season when those
players are gone, they have one of the best, if not the best, recruiting
classes coming in for next season – led by superstar-in-waiting Greg Oden.
Suffice it to say, Thad Matta has done an incredible job in just his second
season with the Buckeyes.
to the Bucknell Bison (#24 AP, Coaches), who entered the Top 25 for the
first time in their history. After the upset of the year last season in the
first round of the NCAA Tournament against Kansas, they have followed up
this season with impressive road wins against Syracuse and DePaul, and an
undefeated season so far in the Patriot League. Anyone who is a fan of the
Patriot League, or who has read John Feinstein’s excellent book The Last
Amateurs, has to be cheering on Bucknell – the very definition of a
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