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2004-05 NCAA Basketball Preview

College Basketball: Monday Mailbag


By Joel Welser

December 6th


Joel’s Monday Mailbag


Each Monday, Joel Welser will be bringing you his Monday Mailbag.  If you have a question which you'd like Joel to answer, email  He’ll post and answer as many questions as possible.  Please include your first name and home state when contacting Joel. 


One question each week is chosen as the "Question of the Week", and is answered by a few CHN staffers.  At the end of each Monday Mailbag, Joel presents his "Team of the Week" and his "Thoughts of the Week."  Visit the Mailbag Archive for past installments.



Will Kentucky stay in the top four this season or will they run into upsets before tourney time?


From Aaron,

Ashland, Kentucky


Kentucky is too young not to have problems during the regular season.  The best of the Wildcats will be seen later in the season, hopefully March for the Big Blue fans.  We saw this against North Carolina.  It wasn’t a pretty game for Kentucky, but something has to be said about their stick-to-itiveness when trailing 24-6, and at least almost making a game out of it.  With a bunch of newcomers seeing plenty of minutes, the Wildcats could have folded and been absolutely blown out by the Tar Heels. 


There will be more losses for Kentucky, but Tubby Smith will make sure his young players learn something from the experience and improve every game.  Kentucky might not even stay in the top 25 if they can’t beat either Indiana or Louisville in the next couple weeks, but no matter how far they slip they’ll recover and be very dangerous down the stretch.  There is way too much talent in Lexington for Kentucky not to be considered a contender come March.



What are the top ten universities with the most well known basketball arenas (and the name of the basketball arenas)?


From John,



Well known means the teams that play there must be successful, otherwise people won’t know the arenas as well.  There are many great arenas that don’t get much notoriety due to lack of flourishing programs.  With that in mind, I went to the resident arena expert.  With a little help from Cigar Boy, here is the top ten.


10. Allen Fieldhouse - Kansas

9. Kohl Center - Wisconsin

8. Comcast Center - Maryland

7. McKale Center – Arizona

6. Breslin Center – Michigan State

5. Freedom Hall – Louisville

4. Carrier Dome – Syracuse

3. Cameron Indoor Stadium – Duke

2. Dean E. Smith Center – North Carolina

1. Rupp Arena – Kentucky


Some notables, but not necessarily just because they are well known, include: Memorial Gymnasium (Vanderbilt), Hinkle Fieldhouse (Butler), Pauley Pavilion (UCLA), Assembly Hall (Indiana), O’Connell Center (Florida), Petersen Events Center (Pittsburgh), Gallagher-Iba Arena (Oklahoma State), Bud Walton Arena (Arkansas), University Arena (New Mexico), The Palestra (Penn).  The Matadome, home of the Matadors of Cal State, Northridge and 1,600 seats, didn’t quite make the list.  Love the name though.


Question of the Week

 - The question of the week is answered by multiple CHN staffers -


Does the fact that the ACC is so good have a negative impact on teams come tourney time?


From A.J.,

Rhode Island


Kristi Chartrand - Kansas Editor


I’ve never thought about it as a negative. No one can argue about the results ACC teams produce. The teams are tourney-tested and prove it every year with impressive results. Every year we banter about “bubble teams” that don’t get the nod come Selection Sunday. Most of the time, ACC teams are noticeably absent from that conversation. Though many argued Florida State deserved a spot in last year’s tourney, the committee made the right choice and sent them to the NIT.  A 6-10 conference record was a stretch. Of course that didn’t stop the committee from taking the Seminoles in 1998 (I think that was the year – and oh by the way I also think they won their first round game). There’s always that ONE ACC team people argue for but this conference gets what it deserves.


On a yearly basis, the respect for this conference flows like a river throughout college basketball. Anyone in the nation would tell you the ACC is the best top to bottom, and that’s the key TOP TO BOTTOM. Other conferences may have better teams but the ACC is the best 1-11 (may have to change that now that Va Tech and Miami are in the ACC). No one would say that about the Big East but yet they’ve produced the last two National Champs. The Big East is commonly known as a top heavy conference.


Six ACC teams punched a ticket to the dance last year and all advanced past the first round. Wake went to the Sweet Sixteen, Duke went to the Final Four, and Georgia Tech went to the National Championship game. As long as the conference continues to prove they’re worthy of the selection committee’s respect, get used to seeing 5-7 ACC teams in the tourney every year. A mediocre conference record will not and has not turned the selection committee away. Last year Georgia Tech was 9-7, hardly a stellar conference record, but yet they were the team that reached the National Championship game as a 3 seed. Maryland had a losing conference record at 7-9 but erased any tourney doubts by winning the ACC tournament. Wake Forest was also 9-7 and a heart-breaking finish away from going to the Elite 8. Did the ACC deserve 6 teams in last year’s tourney? You won’t convince me otherwise. The proof is in the results. The ACC went 14-6 in 2004. It shows the depth and strength of the conference and affirms what the committee thinks of the ACC.


As far as seedings go, I can’t say I remember too many ACC teams under-seeded. Maryland was a 4 seed last year, which I thought was a little generous, but the Terps were hot going into the dance. A 6 was the lowest seed any ACC team received last year. That’s a lot of respect for the conference. We can argue the minute details of seedings but all in all, the ACC has a reputation as one of the toughest conferences and they live up to it. If I were the committee I would continue to give the nation’s best conference the royal treatment. These teams have earned it and if the ultimate goal is to have the top 65 teams in the country compete for a title, get used to these three letters A-C-C.


Adam Stanco - NewsFlash


Not a chance.

The overall strength of the ACC takes a toll on the various members of the league during the regular season. By conference tourney time, teams from top to bottom look more bruised and beaten than J-Lo's character in "Enough." But, once the NCAA tournament starts, many of those teams look like winning boxers, toothlessly smiling with two black eyes.

For the middle of the pack squads, an NCAA tourney bid can ease the pain. Take this year's Maryland team for instance. They have already lost games to Wisconsin and George Washington. However, they will most certainly have quite a few chances to grab big wins over the Top 25 programs Duke, UNC, NC State, Virginia, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest. Thus, the losses won't kill the Terps and we will probably still see them dance in March.

The highly ranked teams may shove each other around during the regular season, but the experience is invaluable. For young players, like Tar Heel super frosh Marvin Williams or UVA freshman sensation Sean Singletary, tightly battling Duke with two minutes to play in Durham makes a sweet sixteen match-up at a neutral site a proverbial walk in the park.

Joel Welser - Monday Mailbag & NCAA Preview Editor


Did a 6-10 Florida State team deserve an at-large bid over a team like UTEP or Air Force last year?  Maybe.  Everybody wants to see the best teams in the big dance and FSU had a decent argument.  The Seminoles only non-conference losses were at Pittsburgh and at Florida, although they failed to collect any big time wins during their out of conference schedule.  FSU lost their final five games at UNC, at Wake Forest, against Duke, at Georgia Tech and to NC State in the conference tournament by an average of five points.  Close isn’t good enough, but Florida State proved that they can compete with these teams.  The selection committee will look at how a team ends the season and FSU ended the season with five consecutive losses.  It doesn’t matter that they were close games against five teams that were all picked to be in the National Championship game in my family pool.


But the point is Florida State failed to reach that coveted 7-9 conference record that seems to have become the barrier between NCAA and NIT teams in the ACC.  It is possible that a team that goes 6-10 in the ACC is still one of the 65 best teams in the nation and deserves an at-large bid.  To be fair, arguments could be made as to why UTEP and Air Force also deserved at-large bids.  Ironically, they both held their own against ACC teams in the first round, but, all things being equal, Florida State could have been looked over due to their 6-10 conference record.


It works the other way more often in the ACC.  Maryland went from a bubble team to a #4 seed after a nice run in the conference tournament.  The way they were playing at the time, they were very deserving of a #4 seed, but their body of work wasn’t that much better than Florida State’s until the ACC Conference Tournament.  In that tourney they beat Wake Forest by one, NC State by three and Duke in overtime.  The Terps got the W’s and earned a #4 seed, while Florida State lost those types of games and went to the NIT.  In the end, just like with any other conference, the ACC teams almost always get what they deserve.  Keep in mind that 7-9 record will probably no longer be the magic number now that everybody in the ACC doesn’t play each other twice.


Have a question?  Email Joel at  We’ll post and answer as many as possible.  Please include your first name and home state.


Joel’s Team of the Week

George Washington

The Colonials have never beaten two ranked teams in a row.  How about two top 15 teams in consecutive days?  GW made the short trip to the MCI Center to compete in the BB&T Classic.  First up was Michigan State.  Pops Mensah-Bonsu scored a game-high 23 points en route to a George Washington 96-83 victory.  While that was a huge win, there was still more work to do for Karl Hobbs’ team.  Maryland wasn’t going to let the big guys for GW dominate like they did against Michigan State.  And they didn’t, but the guards of GW picked up the slack.  T.J. Thompson scored 27 and J.R. Pinnock added 22 as the Colonials had yet another offensive explosion and won the BB&T Classic Championship by a scored 101-92.  Next up for George Washington is a likely trip to the top 25.


Joel’s Thoughts of the Week


Dick Bennett said it was good defense, but I’d have to believe that shooting 4 for 25 from the floor and putting up a whopping ten points in the first half has something to do with the offense as well.  Washington State nearly doubled their first half points in the second half, ending with a total of 29.  But this is a Dick Bennett team and they probably only gave up 30-some points, right?  Not quite.  Oklahoma State racked up 81 points on the Cougars.  Most of that 19 point offensive explosion for WSU was against bench players. 


Before everybody totally rips on Washington State, I must defend them.  Especially before somebody notices that they were my team likely to surprise in CHN College Basketball Preview ( in case you missed it.  Luckily, expectations are so low that WSU can still very easily surprise some people.  I’m going to say a berth in the Pac 10 tourney is very possible and very surprising to many.  Coach Bennett is still working his players into his system and he has proven before that his system is a good one.  The players aren’t there yet, and those that are in Pullman, are young and inexperienced.  This year won’t be good, next year might not be good, but the program is moving in the right direction under Dick Bennett.   


Have a question?  Email Joel at  We’ll post and answer as many as possible.  Please include your first name and home state.


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