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Breakfast with Berndon: Late Lunch Edition

March 1, 2010


In this weeks edition, Berndon takes a look at all the action around the college basketball landscape and breaks down the polls.




Around the "Power" 6
ACC

The league title could very well be determined on Wednesday night, as Maryland gets a second crack at Duke in College Park. After that, four teams are sitting at 8-6, including Clemson, Florida St. Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest, with the last two fading quickly.

Ascending: Duke won twice, but there’s no way in hell I’m giving them the nod two weeks in a row, especially when they struggled with Tulsa at home. Maryland gets credited here, as they beat Clemson at home, then took care of the Hokies in double O.T. They’ve been playing really well for a while now, and I’m little surprised they’ve stayed out of the top 25 this long. It just shows how the ACC outside of Duke does not have any real heavyweights, but could probably put 6-7 teams in the top 40 if such a poll existed.

Descending: Virginia Tech still has a lot of work to do to get into the tourney. They blew a golden opportunity against the Terps, and earlier in the week they were blown out by BC on the road. Now they sit at 21-7, with no quality non-conference wins. Not to go all Joe Lunardi on everybody, but Tech is firmly planted squarely on the bubble at this moment.

Player of the Week: Grevis Vazquez had to be player of the week when he puts up a 41-7-6 on VT. For the week, he averaged 28 points, 5 rebounds, and 8.5 assists. Somewhere a little boy reading this blog in Venezuela is clapping (maybe not).

Games of the Week: In any other year, UNC at Duke would be the headliner, and it still could carry some weight, as the Heels could essentially play the role of spoiler and ruin Duke’s chances of winning the league, that is, if Maryland beats them on Wednesday. I just got 100 times more hyped to watch it just thinking about that possibility. Duke-Maryland will of course be important, with Georgia Tech-Clemson, and Wake-FSU also worth noting.

Big East

Syracuse basically sewed up the league by rolling over Villanova on Saturday night in the Carrier Dome. I still don’t fully comprehend how they’ve done it without Johnny Flynn, but the Orange are beyond legitimate this year. They could very well be cutting down the nets in about a month or so. This is another league that has much left to be decided in the final week, with teams 3-7 all with records ranging between 11-5 and 9-7.

Ascending: If anybody reads Bill Simmons, they know all about the Ewing Theory. If not, it basically says that when a team that hasn’t ever won anything loses their best player that is a little bit over hyped to begin with, then that team will pull together and do better without said superstar. This is happening in South Bend, as the Irish, led by Tyler’s little brother Ben Hansborough, ran through Pitt and Georgetown, winning by 15 and 14 points respectively. This shows that it’s not just luck, and if the Irish can win out, they may do some damage later on, with or without Harangody.

Descending: It’s hard to pick on the league’s retarded kid, but Depaul is a joke. I’ve never been a fan per se, but I do mildly pull for them since I’m a Chicago kid. They now sit at 1-15 and 8-20 overall. They would seemingly be able to recruit from the fertile talent base here in the Windy City, but they haven’t been able to, even losing players to Northwestern in the process. To top it all off, their coach Tracy Webster, is the captain of the “I used to play college basketball in the 90’s, but now I look like I ate 1768 cheeseburgers since those days,” team. (Yes I just compared Depaul to a retarded child, and called their coach fat. I apologize to my relatives that went to school there).

Player of the Week: Wesley Johnson gets the honor for the second week in a row. He’s not scoring as much, but much like Evan Turner and Darington Hobson, he’s an athletic small forward who does pretty much anything Syracuse needs. The Cuse needs him to score a little more once March gets going however. For the week, Johnson averaged 12 pts, 8.5 rbs, 4 assts, and 3.5 stls.

Games of the Week: There are a lot of games to choose from here, as there are a ton of games that will go far toward deciding seeding in the Big East tourney. Georgetown-West Virginia, Louisville-Marquette, UCONN-Notre Dame, Syracuse-Louisville, West Virginia-Villanova, and Notre Dame-Marquette all will go a long way toward determining both seeding and who gets the 7-8 bids the league will probably receive.


Big 12

I was elated to see Kansas go down to Oklahoma St. on the road. I don’t have any particular reason not to like Kansas, but they’re the college equivalent of the Spurs. They’ve sustained excellence, yet it’s always kind of boring to watch them. So when James Anderson and the boys punched them in the mouth on Saturday, I was grinning.

Ascending: Baylor has managed to stay in the top 25 despite being one loss from falling out the last couple of weeks. They beat Texas A&M and Oklahoma, and with LaceDarius Dunn, and Ekpe Udoh, they have two underrated studs that if the Bears get hot, everyone will know come March.

Descending: I think I could pick Texas, Oklahoma, or Texas Tech every week. They’ve all been a disappointment, but Iowa St. has two potential NBA players in Craig Brackins and Marcus Gillstrap, yet sit at 3-11 in league play.

Player of the Week: I talked about him earlier, but LaceDarius Dunn is one of the best shooting guards in the country that no one has heard of. They have now, since everyone in the country reads this. Ok maybe not, but at least maybe 10 people know about him now. For the week, Dunn averaged 22 and 7 rebounds, leading Baylor to two vital conference wins.

Games of the Week: Kansas St. gets their second crack at the Jayhawks, this time in Lawrence. I would not be shocked if they won, as they are playing for the slim chance that they would be able to pull off a number one seed. Oklahoma St.-Texas A&M, Kansas-Missouri, and Texas-Baylor are other games to take a gander at.

Big 10

It’s looking more and more like it is Ohio St’s league to lose. They still need Michigan St. or Purdue to lose this week, but at the very worst, all they have to do is beat Illinois at home to at least gain a share of the title.

Ascending: Ohio St. is slowly moving up to that elite top 6-7 teams in the country level. Since Evan Turner’s return, they’ve been extremely difficult to handle. They aren’t very deep, but they still get it done with Turner, and a talented supporting cast.

Descending: With one ACL tear, Purdue’s final four chances have plummeted. In watching them play Michigan St. on Sunday, I don’t even know if they’ll survive the first weekend of the tournament. In losing Robbie Hummel, they not only lost their second best three-point shooter, but also their second leading rebounder. Now, they’re limited to having one good rebounder, and really one outside scoring threat. They have to play with two point guards who can’t shoot, allowing teams to gang up on E’twaun Moore. It doesn’t look promising for the Boilermakers.

Player of the Week: Evan Turner is the best player in college basketball. Pure and simple, he’s simply a dominating presence that can do it all. His two game averages for the week were 21.5 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, and 3 blocks. He’s not the physical presence that Lebron is, but I’d say he’s not a bad second banana in the state of Ohio.

Games of the Week: The spotlight shines upon Champaign, Illinois, as they travel to Ohio St. and then play Wisconsin at home to close out the season, as the committee will be paying close attention to see whether or not to invite the Illini to the party.


SEC

Tennessee might be the most erratic team in college basketball. They started the week losing to Florida by 13, then beat Kentucky at home. It still looks like Kentucky will still win the East, while Mississippi St. has a two game lead in the West. Vanderbilt still has an outside shot at overtaking the Wildcats, as they are 1 game back with 2 to play.

Ascending: Mississippi St. is trying their hardest to get off of the bubble, winning two games they needed against Alabama and South Carolina. With a 21-8 record, and a marquee player in Jarvis Varnado, I like their chances.

Descending: Arkansas was leading the West for a good chunk of the season, despite a bad overall record. They’ve fallen off as of late, and now sit at 7-7 and will more than likely be playing in the NIT. Somewhere Nolan Richardson is laughing.

Player of the Week: Jarvis Varnado is the best shot blocker in college basketball. He does a little bit more than that however, putting up averages of 18 points, and 11 boards, to go along with 4.5 blocks, including 8 against Alabama.

Games of the Week: Florida gets Vandy at home, then travels to Kentucky on Sunday. If they split, they’ll probably get into the tourney. Tennessee-Mississippi St. is also intriguing.

Pac 10

Cal seemingly wrapped up the regular season championship with its win against Arizona St. They are now 12-5, and might get an at large bid even if they go down in the conference tourney.

Ascending: How can I pick anyone but Cal here. The only other team that won both of its games was Oregon, and they’re going nowhere.

Descending: I mean, the whole conference has descended and then some, as they’re maybe the 10th best in the country, losing ground to the A10, Mountain West, and maybe even the Missouri Valley.

Player of the Week: Tajuan Porter is the only holdover from the Oregon teams from a couple of years ago, that were actually good. Apparently, he’s still there, and putting up decent stats. Porter averaged 22.5 points on the week.


Inside the Top 25

Since I got a late start writing this due to my Directv being installed this morning, I’m unleashing a new segment. With the Polls already being released, here’s some blanket analysis. My breakdown is of the consensus poll, meaning I took both polls and combined the votes to make one poll.

1-5: Syracuse takes over the top spot after not even being ranked in the preseason. Kansas and Kentucky didn’t fall too hard, while Duke and Kansas St. made small leaps.

6-10: Ohio St. should continue to rise, Purdue should continue to fall, while New Mexico cracks the top 10 for the first time with their win over BYU on the road. Villanova could go either way, while West Virginia still battles inconsistency.

11-15: Michigan St. still has issues, but if they hit the boards like they did on Sunday, they could be back in the Final Four. Butler and BYU should be seeded anywhere between 4-6 and could make the sweet 16. Vanderbilt and Tennessee are 13 and 15 respectively, although Vandy has a better squad and a better chance to move up.

16-20: Gonzaga, Pitt, and Wisconsin have been in this neighborhood of the top 25 for about a month now. All are solid, but aren’t anything special. Temple is probably the class of the A10, while Georgetown continues its late-season free-for-all for the second straight year.

21-25: Baylor, Texas A&M, and Texas are all in the middle of the quagmire sitting below Kansas and Kansas St. in the Big 12. Maryland jumps back into the fray at #22, with a great chance to win the ACC title still. UTEP is in the top 25 for the first time all season, with Louisville transfer Derrick Caracter leading the way.

Fun Fact: In honor of UNC-Duke week, I bring you this little tidbit that I received from my little brother this morning via text message. “ Wikipedia just told me that PNC is suing Bobby Hurley for defaulting on a $1,000,000.00 loan.” I bet this never happened to Derrick Phelps or Ed Cota.

Photo sources: 1, 2, 3

1 comments:

Langston said...

When looking at the results, UT may seem erratic. But they aren't, they're just a different team when playing at Thompson-Boling Arena. Since Bruce Pearl's arrival in 2005, the team is 70-7 (14-1 this season) at home and ranked 4th nationally in attendance each of the last 3 years, averaging over 20,000 fans per game. With teams feeding off of the energy of the crowd and vice versa, it's easy to see why they are so much better at home than on the road.

March 2, 2010 at 3:33 PM

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