Posted on: March 7, 2011 12:42 am

Just like 2010, Texas slipping at wrong time

Longhorns fans have seen this before.  Recently in fact.

In 2010, Texas was ranked as high as #1 in the country at one point before a free-falling tailspin led to a #8 seed in the NCAA tournament.  That Longhorn team was undefeated until jan. 18, 2010 before losing 10 of their final 17.  The season ended on an appropriate note – an overtime meltdown in a first round loss to Wake Forest.

This year’s version is a bit better, but ‘Horns fans still have to have deja vu.  Texas started slow but battled a tough schedule, then got white-hot at the turn of the year.  The Longhorns were ranked #2 just a few weeks ago but have lost three of four, all to unranked teams, and have blown their chance at wrapping up a Big 12 regular season title. 

While the offense has struggled, it has been the defense (or lackthereof) that has really hurt the ‘Horns the past few weeks. Texas gives up just 61 points per game and were suffocating teams during the win streak. But in their three recent losses, they’ve given up at least 70 points in each game, including 91 to Colorado.

For whatever reason, Rick Barnes can’t get his team to close out a season.  Texas is going to the NCAA tournament.  They’ll probably win their first game, but after that all bets are off.

Posted on: March 7, 2011 12:41 am

Dreams dashed beginning tonight

Gentlemen, start your engines.  Conference tournaments have begun.

With the tip-off of conference tournaments tonight, postseason play has begun.  Two conferences – the Horizon League and the Big South, open tournament play tonight.  Four more – the Patriot League, Ohio Valley, America East and Atlantic Sun all start later this week.  Dreams will be dashed beginning tonight.

In the Horizon League, all eyes are on Butler.  The defending national runner-up is as on the bubble as you could be, and losing this tournament won’t do them any favors.  With upsets inevitable in later tournaments, the Bulldogs’ only hope of repeating its magical run is to win the Horizon League title.  As a #2 seed, they have the double bye , so two wins gets them back to the dance.

In the Big South, Coastal Carolina has made a legit case for an at-large spot should it not win the tournament, but there will be no guarantees.  Traditionally only one team dances from this conference, so it will likely all be decided this week.

Do you know who came closest to beating Butler before Duke eventually did in 2010?

It was Murray State.

The Bulldogs escaped by two in a second-round matchup with the 13th seeded Racers in a game that had everybody’s heart racing.  Murray State is back as the favorite to repeat in the Ohio Valley and make another run at taking down the big boys in March.

Sit back and enjoy.  It’s going to be a great month.

Posted on: February 26, 2011 2:41 pm

Duke #1? That's a joke

Duke is #1 in the latest poll.

Knock knock..., sorry.  I thought I was being punked by the Associated Press and the Coaches.  But then I saw the rankings  and realized it was true.  Duke is #1.  I still can't figure out why.

The Blue Devils are exactly 1-1 against the RPI top 30.  That one win (North Carolina) is their only win against a ranked team. The loss was to St. John's.  Their other loss is to unranked Florida State (RPI 48).

So that's what the Blue Devils have to offer.  Now let's compare.

Second ranked Kansas (Coaches Poll) also has two losses. They are #1 in the RPI.  Duke is #6.  Check Kansas.

Kansas has two wins against the RPI 30 (Arizona, Missouri).  Duke has one.  Check Kansas.

Kansas' best loss is to a top 5 team (Texas). They also have a loss to Kansas State (RPI 33).  Duke's best loss is St. John's (ranked 23) and the bad one is Florida State (RPI 48).  Check Kansas.

So clearly, there is no logical way to rank Duke ahead of Kansas at this point.

It gets better.

Ohio State is ranked #3 (Coaches Poll).

They also have two wins against the RPI top 30 (Purdue, Florida).  So they are even with Kansas there.  But when you expand that to the top 50, Ohio State has eight wins, while Kansas has just six.  Check Ohio State.

Ohio State also has two losses, both of which came to ranked teams on the road.  Kansas lost once at home and once by 16 to an unranked team. Check Ohio State.

Don't even get me started on Pittsburgh. The Panthers have six wins against the top 30, and all three losses are against RPI top 30 teams.  Yet somehow the Panthers are ranked #4.

Usually voters are pretty good at nailing down at least the top 5, but they butchered it this week.  Here are my top 5:

1)  Ohio State
2)  Pittsburgh
3)  Kansas
4)  San Diego State
5)  Texas

That's right, no Duke.

That's not a joke.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 19, 2011 2:27 pm

Basketball is back in Colorado

After living in Colorado for seven months, I’ve learned there is only one basketball team in this state – the Nuggets.

This college basketball season, that has changed.

Three division one programs have brought basketball excitement back to the state, and if all the chips fall into place, all three could see the NCAA tournament in March.

Let’s start with Northern Colorado, which may be the most remarkable story. The Bears haven’t made the NCAA tournament in their seven-year history as a division one team.  Though they dub themselves ‘the real UNC,’ the Bears have been the laughing-stock of the Big Sky conference.

But not this year.

The Bears are 10-3 in the conference, one half game behind Montana, and looked poised for a championship showdown in the conference tournament.  Win the tournament and the Bears will be dancing in March for the first time ever.

Then there is the Colorado State Rams.  The Rams have established themselves as a solid number three in a much-improved Mountain West conference – a conference that will likely have two teams get one or two seeds in March.

The Rams had some bad losses early (Sam Houston State, Hampton) but have been extremely good in conference play at 8-3 and 18-7 overall.  Their three losses were to New Mexico, BYU and San Diego State.  ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Colorado State as his first team out right now, but the Rams still have rematches with BYU and San Diego State, which could enhance their resume.

And finally, there’s Colorado.  The Buffs are the longshot among the three at 5-6 in the Big 12, but being in the middle of the pack is an improvement for a team accustomed to being at the bottom of the league.  The Buffs would likely have to win out to get an at-large bid, but winning the Big 12 tournament would be the more likely way to get in.  Either way, it’s a much-improved team.

Posted on: February 16, 2011 12:20 am

Marquette NIT-bound in my bracket

St. John’s just got finished running Marquette off its own floor.

So what does that say about the NCAA bracket?

St. John’s deserves to be in, and Marquette does not.

That’s what I’ve been saying for weeks, but ESPN’s Joe Lunardi , CBSSports bracket expert Jerry Palm and CBSSports NCAA basketball columnist Gary Parrish all disagree.

Maybe this will help ease their minds.

The Golden Eagles are a mere 15-11, and just 3-10 against RPI top 25 teams .  Sure, the schedule is tough, but in my opinion, if you can’t beat a good team in the regular season, you won’t do it in the tournament.

Marquette has shown anything but consistency, and they are falling fast.  Currently sitting in 11th place in the Big East, the Golden Eagles have a sub-.500 conference record (6-7) and an RPI ranked 58.  That won’t get it done.

The one glimmer of hope left for Marquette is the remaining schedule, which features only one game against a team in the top half of the conference (UConn).  In my opinion, Marquette needs to win four of the final five to be considered.  Two more conference losses gives them 13 total.

They’d be history.

Posted on: February 14, 2011 12:14 am

With OSU loss, the #1 team is...OSU

Ohio State lost at Wisconsin Saturday after blowing a 15 point second half lead.  So what does this mean for the rankings tomorrow?  Nothing.  At least it shouldn’t.  At least not for Ohio State.

Wisconsin should get a decent bump, maybe even into the top 10.  But Ohio State?  They should (but won’t) be #1 when the polls come out tomorrow.

The Buckeyes are the last division 1 team to lose this season, and they lost in a place where just about everybody else has lost at some point this decade.  The Kohl Center, along with Allen Fieldhouse, are the toughest places to win a college basketball game.

I can’t say I was surprised Ohio State lost Saturday.  If anything, it will be good for them.  But if the NCAA tournament were to start this week, they better be on the committee’s top line as the #1 overall seed.  They, along with Kansas and San Diego State, are the only one-loss teams in the country.  I don’t think I need to convince you that the Buckeyes are more deserving than San Diego State.  I’ll make quick work of the Jayhawks too.

Ohio State’s lone loss was a four point loss on the road against a Badger team that was undefeated at home and ranked #13.  Kansas’ only setback was a double-digit home loss to Texas.  Ohio State also has four wins over teams currently ranked, while Kansas has just two.  And consider this – the Jayhawks have only two conference wins against teams in the RPI top 60 (Missouri, Kansas State).  Ohio State has six such wins (Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota twice, Michigan twice).

The Big 12 is the most disappointing conference this season in terms of playing to expectations.  Only four teams are going to make the tournament.  Ohio State plays in a better conference against better teams and has beaten better teams.  Simple enough.

You may be able to make an argument for Pittsburgh, but that Tennessee loss is looking worse by the day.

Might as well give Ohio State the top line now.  They are done losing. Kansas still has a Big 12 Championship date with Texas.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or