Power Rankings (cont.)
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|NCAA Basketball Power Rankings|
UCLA Bruins (18-2)It was generally assumed Indiana's Eric Gordon would be subjected to the harshest treatment by any road crowd this season when he visits Illinois on Feb. 7. We underestimated the vile minds of Oregon's Pit Crew, who went after the Bruins' Kevin Love -- an Oregon product who spurned the Ducks and whose father, Stan, criticized the UO program despite being an alum -- with a ferocity I doubt will be matched by the Illini's Orange Krush. (Nor do I suspect the Krush wants to replicate this behavior.) An e-mail went out to Pit Crew members on the week of the game containing Love's cell phone number and the suggestion to "give Kevin a call, text, or send him a picture." Love got more than 400 messages at that number, which was also displayed on a sign at the game; other signs, according to the L.A. Times, concerned Love and his father's sexuality. Love got his revenge, first by scoring 26 points and grabbing 18 rebounds in a win -- and later (according to a letter on Bruins Nation) by having UCLA's student section, The Den, phone- and text-message-bomb many of those who pranked him.
Interestingly enough, it seems that one of the most elaborate Pit Crew signs didn't survive until game-time. This, from a Saturday post on the Crew's message board complaining about rights to free speech: "I had my sign taken away by the toothless crowd-management lady... I was to be reimbursed the $2.50 I spent on the tri-fold cardboard back. My sign had nothing derogatory, I just Photoshopped Kevin posting up his dad and it looked sort of sexual. The UCLA players were laughing when they saw it."
Next three: 1/31 vs. Arizona State, 2/2 vs. Arizona, 2/7 at Washington State
Georgetown Hoyas (17-2)I feel a lot more comfortable about ranking the Hoyas in the top 10 now. Two weeks ago, the best win on their resume was at UConn ... and UConn wasn't regarded as a particularly good team. The Huskies have since taken off, and Georgetown has since beaten Notre Dame and Syracuse at home, as well as West Virginia on the road. I didn't expect the Hoyas -- who typically peak late in the season -- to already be so separated from the rest of the Big East. The most exciting development out of that camp, however, comes off the court, in the form of a future Style Archive exhibit: The estimable D.C. Sports Bog reported Roy Hibbert isn't planning on cutting his hair for the rest of the season, in hopes of sprouting a 'fro "like Josh Childress." (Childress, it must be noted, copied the guy from the cover of the original NBA Street.)
Next three: 2/2 vs. Seton Hall, 2/5 vs. South Florida, 2/9 at Louisville
Michigan State Spartans (19-2)The Naismith Award (for which I am a voter) also came out with its midseason top 30 list this week. While there were 22 players the Naismith and Wooden lists agreed upon, they differed on these eight, including the Spartans' two stars:
Wooden Award Outliers Naismith Award Outliers Mario Chalmers, Kansas A.J. Abrams, Texas Jamont Gordon, Miss. State Darrell Arthur, Kansas Malik Hairston, Oregon Mike Green, Butler Chris Lofton, Tennessee Tywon Lawson, UNC Derrick Low, Wash. St. Drew Neitzel, Mich. State Raymar Morgan, Mich. State Scottie Reynolds, 'Nova Brandon Rush, Kansas Josh Shipp, UCLA Jason Thompson, Rider Kyle Weaver, WazzuThe Wooden's biggest miss was Butler's Green, who's having a breakout season; its most questionable inclusion was Chris Lofton, who is no longer Tennessee's star. If they wanted a Vol, Tyler Smith probably would have been the better choice. Meanwhile, the Naismith's biggest oversight was leaving off Rider's Thompson, an NBA prospect who's averaging 19.8 points and 11.1 boards (I had to write him in on my ballot, which wasn't a good sign). The most questionable Naismith inclusion was UCLA's Shipp; he's a quality scorer, but it's questionable whether he's actually the second-best Bruin after Love.
Next three: 2/2 at Penn State, 2/9 vs. Northwestern, 2/12 at Purdue
Washington State Cougars (17-2)A Tacoma News Tribune story from Tuesday noted that PGA pro Steve Stricker was sitting behind the WSU bench, wearing a Cougars shirt, for their win at Arizona State. Like WSU coach Tony Bennett, Stricker is a Wisconsinite, but he's hardly the only pro golfer with current ties to a college team:
• The lovable John Daly, who lives in Memphis and was allegedly attacked by his wife (with a steak knife) in the city, was spotted at a Tigers game in November.
• Long drive champ Sean "The Beast" Fister is Tyler Hansbrough's uncle, and was spotted at a UNC game this season.
• Former pro-turned-commentator Andy North is such a staple around Bo Ryan's Badgers that he's sometimes called "Coach North."
• Tiger Woods was courtside at Maples for Stanford's classic win over Arizona in 2004 ... but has he been back lately?
Next three: 1/31 vs. Cal, 2/2 vs. Stanford, 2/7 vs. UCLA
Xavier Musketeers (17-4)The X remains somewhat of a mystery to me. It has an elite offense (No. 4 in efficiency) and a lock-down defender (Stanley Burrell), which is a good formula for making noise in the NCAA tournament. The Musketeers also have a 15-point win over Indiana, a 26-point win over Kansas State, a 38-point win over Virginia and a 25-point win over Dayton on their resume. But what does one make of them losing by 22 at Arizona State, and by 19 at Temple? Kenpom.com keeps a consistency stat as part of its rankings -- it's described as "the standard deviation of scoring difference by game for a team" -- and not surprisingly, Xavier is the 321st least-consistent team in the country ... and the most inconsistent team in the Power Rankings. You wonder if that unsteadiness with become a problem in the big dance.
Next three: 2/2 vs. La Salle, 2/7 at St. Louis, 2/10 vs. St. Joe's
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