Does Joel know everything? Anything? Or does Joel simply know nothing? Find out every Sunday in Joel Welser’s new weekly column: Joel Knows.
Joel knows Michigan State’s unbalanced conference schedule will come back to haunt them. In the Big Ten, each team plays four opponents just one time. The Spartans randomly drew Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue and Minnesota. With all due respect to the Boilermakers, it’s hard to argue that those aren’t the four worst teams in the Big Ten. To make matters worse, of the four, the Spartans get Northwestern and Minnesota at home. Not having a game at Northwestern is like not having a home game. It could be worse though, we could be talking about the Big East scheduling.
Joel knows that all of Corvallis should be embarrassed. The Bruins of UCLA absolutely annihilated Oregon State 82-35 on Saturday. The good news is OSU already beat Arizona State on the road. The Beavers and the Sun Devils square off again next weekend and Oregon State could end up 2-16 in conference…a full two games ahead of the winless ASU squad. Yet, some props need to be given to ASU for nearly beating a ranked Washington State squad on Saturday.
Joel knows the SEC West is messed up. The West leader heading into the weekend was Auburn at just 4-4. The Tigers got beat bad by Ole Miss 59-82, leaving the top spot even more wide open than it was before. A struggling Alabama team has taken the lead after a nail biting win over South Carolina. Even many prognosticators favorite LSU has lost five in a row and is a surprising 2-6 in conference.
Joel knows Colorado really needed a big win. With Ricardo Patton a lame duck coach and the Buffaloes heading into the weekend with a dismal 5-13 record, nobody would have had a second thought if the Buffs finished out the season without winning another game. Yet, when #12 Oklahoma State came to town, CU held onto their 15 point halftime lead to win 89-77. Dominique Coleman tied a career high with 21 points and achieved a career high with 15 rebounds. This could be a spark for Colorado to turn around the program…or it could be more of an indication that Oklahoma State will never win a conference game on the road.
Joel knows Indianapolis won the precursor to the Super Bowl over Chicago. IUPUI, that’s Indiana University, Purdue University at Indianapolis, narrowly escaped with a victory over Chicago State 79-77 on Thursday. If it is any indication, the Colts will beat the Bears, but at least it will be close.
Joel knows Texas A&M Corpus Christi will dominate the Southland conference in five years. This time last year the Islanders were without a conference, and we were still talking about a potential NIT berth. Now TAMU CC is 7-1 in the Southland with their only losses on the season coming at the hands of Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, UNLV, Purdue and conference favorite Sam Houston State.
Joel knows the Big West Conference Tournament is going to be fun. For the first time in a while, there is not a dominant team in the conference. Utah State is gone and Pacific is very far from a conference power this year. I wrote up a blurb about everybody but UC Riverside having a chance to take home the conference tournament championship, but then the previously 0-7 Highlanders went and did something crazy like beat top team Cal State Fullerton 82-76. Now it will be even crazier in Anaheim come March and with a free trip to the semifinals for the top two seeds and a bye to the quarterfinals for the next two seeds, jockeying for position down the stretch is of the utmost importance.
Joel knows that Loyola (MD) can make the NCAA Tournament since their first and only trip in 1994. Despite Saturday’s loss at Marist, the Greyhounds remain atop the Metro Atlantic standings at 9-3. A couple of Big East transfers in Gerald Brown (Providence) and Omari Israel (Notre Dame) are leading the way. Brown averages 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists, while Israel adds on 9.2 points and 5.7 boards per contest. Throw in the long range shooting of Marquis Sullivan and the point guard play of Brett Harvey, and you have yourself a dangerous team come MAAC tourney time.
Joel knows just a few years ago Western Illinois looked like a team that could be competitive in the Mid-Continent Conference. Now the Leathernecks, which boast one of the coolest nicknames in all of division I hoops, are in a downward spiral. Coach Derek Thomas brought in a renewed sense of hope, mostly thanks to sharpshooter T.J. Gray, but that disappeared very quickly. After going 3-25 in 2003-2004, Gray, despite a decrease in playing time his sophomore season, led the Leathernecks to an 11-17 record the following year. Gray then transferred and is now starting at Illinois-Chicago, leaving WIU back in the basement of the Mid-Con. This year, the Leathernecks have three wins over division I teams and five overall in an amazingly weak schedule. It would be a surprise if they win another game, but we’ll give them a legitimate shot on senior night against Southern Utah.
Joel knows that he will eat too much chip dip while watching the Super Bowl.