Thursday, January 10, 2008

Who Likes to Rock the Party

With the conference season upon us, it is probably time to revisit how the league is performing. Unfortunately, things haven't gone quite as well since the last check-up. You know, unless you're a Kansas fan (and you could probably throw A&M in there as well). I'm not sure exactly how my predictions will pan out and I probably sold Nebraska (9) and Methzou (8) short, but one thing I did say has become increasingly evident – this conference is Star Jones middle heavy.

Just as an fyi, right now the collective conference record is 124-40, with all 12 teams above .500, good for 4th nationally in the RPI – behind the ACC, Big East and Pac10.

1. Kansas (15-0): No surprise here, one of five remaining unbeatens and currently # 1 on the Pomeroy ratings. The media types are impressed now that they cock-smoked a team on the beloved East coast. And you could certainly argue they have looked better than anyone, but there is work to do to finish this season appropriately. This week: @ Nebraska (sold-out) Next week: Mon. OU, Sat. @ Methzou (may exceed total attendance on the year)

2. Texas (13-2): Part of me is starting to think A&M could be better over the long haul, but Texas still has some great wins to hang its hat on and its worst loss is to Wisconsin, so things could be worse. The addition of Gary Johnson has to help as the starters were all logging over 30 minutes and Conner Atchley is not going to hold up as an inside presence. They still don't play any defense though. This week: @ Methzou Next week: Colorado

3. Texas A&M (14-1): They're starting to look pretty solid, but their best win was probably against Washington and they lost their only road game to Arizona. As expected, the biggest issue has come in the ball-handling department, as they have more turnovers than their opponents. When you look at what's happening to WSU since his departure and how solid this team has been since the get-go, it's looking like Jayhawk Marc Turgeon is as good as advertised. This week: Colorado Next week: Wed. @Tech, Sat. @KSU

From here through at least 9th, take the rankings with a grain of salt, because I absolutely don't know.

4. Oklahoma (12-3): WVU, Arkansas and Gonzaga aren't world beaters and probably aren’t even that good. But to reel off three straight wins against them with the last coming in Morgantown is impressive. I said from that start that I wanted to think this team was tourney worthy, but I couldn't quite get past the guards, Austin Johnson (9, 3, 3) and Tony Crocker (11, 5, 3). If that holds up, they've got plenty on the inside to compete nightly. This week: KSU Next week: Mon. @ KU, Sat. Tech

5. Kansas State (10-4): Well this spot had to go to a north team and since CU and ISU don't count, it was down to KSU, MU and NU. The media is jumping on Nebraska, which along with the Creighton loss makes me think they're out. The Purple has the best players, but they've also got Frank Martin. And Methzou seems a logical pick, but their "Forty Minutes of Purgatory" instills no confidence whatsoever. So, by default, because those from the armpit that is Manhattan actually attend games other than when Kansas is in town, I'll slot them here. And they have a guy named Michael Beasley. By far their biggest reason for not finishing this high will often be wearing suit and whose hair will not move the entire season. For some local perspective, here is some surprisingly rational thinking hidden amongst a dread of Purple. This week: @ OU Next week: TAMU

6. Methzouri (10-5): Again, I think this is too high, but logically there will be three teams from the north in the top 6 and I'm ever so slightly more convinced by them than I am Nebraska (which could change as soon as Saturday). Even given that over the last few weeks this team was unable to beat Illinois or Miss. St. and through halftime was tied with the lowly 'Roos and their best win is over Purdue (ISU did the same). Something I find funny about them is that Matt Lawrence, a guy they rely on for 24 minutes (4th on team) and 10 points is basically a notch below Kansas' Conner Teahan, who averages 4 minutes (12th), none of which have been significant. This week: Texas Next week: Wed. @ISU, Sat. KU

7. Baylor (12-2): For some reason I really want to believe this team can make the tournament. And then they lose a home game to Arkansas. Their guards are their strength, but for them to win conference games they will depend on Kevin Rogers (12,7), who for some reason they aren't getting many looks. If this doesn't change, even here may be too high. This week: ISU Next week: Tues. OSU, Sat. @ Neb.

8. Nebraska (11-2): Well it's a spot higher than I had them to start. And they can shoot up the list with a win or even a good showing this weekend. The Oregon and Arizona St. wins are starting to look good (though to a lesser degree than ESPN will have you believe), but they still haven't won outside of Nebraska. But go ahead and chalk me up as a surprised fan of Dagunduro – who has provided much needed help at guard. And since they prefer the pigskin in Lincoln, here's a look at an approved final rankings. This week: KU Next week: Tues. @ CU, Sat. BU

9. Oklahoma State (9-5): The loss to North Texas was bad. The blowout @ Illinois hurt. But what truly sold me was how Oral Roberts did not look to be upsetting them, but was decidedly the better team on the court. That, and Sean Sutton is the least qualified coach in the country. I'll be shocked if they win outside of Gallagher Iba. This week: Tech Next Week: Tues. @ BU, Sat. @ISU

10. Texas Tech (9-5): They'll win some games in Lubbock and should have beaten Stanford, but all in all, they just aren't any good. Zeno (17, 5, 3) is legit and would be a great role player, but he absolutely should not be leading them in rebounds. And as great a coach as Bob Knight is, he isn't a miracle worker. This week: @ OSU Next week: Wed. TAMU, Sat. @ OU

11. Iowa State (10-5): The Purdue win in Vegas is likeable, but I can not and will not forget that they lost to Drake by 35. Other than those 2 games, nothing has stood out for them. It's hard to imagine this team winning more than 3 or 4 more times. This week: @ BU Next week: Wed. MU, Sat. OSU

12. Colorado (8-6): Well at least they're over .500, short lived as it may be. Perhaps the better (and more likely) thing they will be concentrating on is their proximity to: skiing, cannabis, and ski bunnies. This week: @TAMU Next week: Tues. NU, Sat. @UT

Also, it seems Barry Alvarez wasn't the only one confused. Silly Mexicans.

As for Nebraska, well see for yourself, but their new head coach was in good form the other night. And I am in no way referring to how he restrained the potent Buckeye offense.

Courtesy of TBL, pretty good stuff here. When I first read Bilas' commentary a couple days ago I couldn't help but think exactly the same thing. Like most, I'm typically a fan, but it's tough to ignore that each year he's been in the business he's become a bit more smug and sarcastic. (Which I actually happen to enjoy)

And to end on a good note, sift through this little number from the KC Star.

As enjoyable as that was, it's still just K-State, so lets end with something truly glorious.

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