The Buckeyes' season is already turning into a modified Beckett play: Waitng For Godotden. And there's probably only so much speculation about the big man you can take. So we asked coach Thad Matta this week about something else: How he's going to balance a roster with a star junior point guard, Jamar Butler, and a hotshot freshman floor general, Mike Conley Jr. Play them at the same time, perhaps? "Absolutely," Matta said. "If you look at two of the best teams I've ever coached -- the Butler team in 2001, and Xavier, when we went to the Elite Eight [in 2004] -- they had two point guards on the floor together. That formula has been good for me."
I was Googling stuff from Wildcat freshman Chase Budinger's high school days and found a game in which he scored 30 points -- on 25 kills, four blocks and one service ace. Budinger was the U.S. No. 1 junior volleyball player as a San Diego-area high-schooler, but opted to play only hoops in college. The kid is freakishly athletic -- enough to jump to the NBA now -- but he also had a chance to become the next Karch Kiraly. And if you don't know who Kiraly -- or Kurt Stevenson, from Baywatch -- is ... that's probably why Budinger is playing basketball.
The VIP in the FedEx Forum for Friday's Memphis Madness isn't the skipper, John Calipari, or any of his current players -- it's a high-school recruit, Chicago point guard Derrick Rose. Rivals.com actually has Rose rated ahead of O.J. Mayo, at No. 3, in its Class of 2007 rankings, and while Rose is also considering Indiana, DePaul, Kansas and UCLA, he's rumored to be favoring the Tigers. As for the message Rose is sending by choosing to attend Memphis' first practice, his high school coach, Robert Smith, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he thinks Rose "wanted to go someplace close, somewhere he could drive to." Bloomington is drivable -- in five hours. Memphis, not so much. It's more like eight.
I gave you 1,581 words of unadulterated Nate Funk a week ago, and I'm ranking the Bluejays first in the MoValley, which I think is more than enough love. This space will be wasted on the Rankings' first music list of the year: the top four albums/sets we've acquired since the Final Four, in reverse order: 4. DeVotchka's Curse Your Little Heart (the guys from the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack). 3. Mark Moulin's Placebo Sessions 1971-74 (funk and fusion tracks from the Belgian keyboardist). 2. Vetiver's To Find Me Gone (led by freak folk's best songwriter, Andy Cabic). 1. Lee "Scratch" Perry's Arkology box set (the definitive, three-disc set from the Black Ark years, including the original Police and Thieves -- before The Clash covered it.)
Southern Illinois cracked the top 10 of the rankings the magazine printed (by this delusional power-ranker) the day after the title game, but I've wised up on the Valley now that I'm confident Nate Funk is healthy and convinced the Shockers are still going to be dangerous without Paul Miller. I would say the current WSU team has more to look forward to right now than Miller does: They're cracking all the top 25s, and Miller, although he's collecting a pro check after being signed by the Knicks as a free-agent ... is going to have to train with the Knicks.
Coach K spent part of his summer in Vegas, so we'll talk Vegas here to close out the rankings. Behold the power of Duke: Even with a highly inexperienced team -- the first year K's ever had two sophomores (Josh McRoberts and Greg Paulus) as captains -- the Blue Devils have been given 15/1 odds to win it all by one sportsbook. That's better than eight teams that appear above Duke in these rankings: Creighton and Wichita State are 200/1, Wisconsin is 40/1, Pittsburgh and Memphis are 25/1, Arizona is 20/1, and Georgetown and LSU are 18/1. I'm not sure how legit those odds are, though: Somehow they gave my alma mater, Northwestern -- which has never even been to the NCAA tournament -- a 60/1 shot. Maybe the oddsmakers meant upset darling Northwestern State?