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Power rankings (cont.)

Posted: Friday February 15, 2008 12:54PM; Updated: Sunday February 17, 2008 10:47AM
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NCAA Basketball Power Rankings
Rank LW School
6 4
UCLA Bruins (21-3)
The "Tim Morris Incident" -- in which the Washington player appallingly rifled an inbounds pass directly into Alfred Aboya's face in order to avoid a five-second call -- remained a hot topic long after the Huskies' upset of UCLA. (If you're one of the few college hoops fans who has yet to see it, Bruins Nation has a couple of good YouTubes.) A Pac-10 review of the play deemed that it was completely within the rules, and its refs were correct in not assessing a technical, but legendary UCLA coach John Wooden directed some harsh comments toward Washington coach Lorenzo Romar for not disciplining Morris. "I would have jerked [Morris] out of the game immediately," Wooden told the L.A. Times. "And after the game he'd have heard about it." Romar continues to defend Morris in the press, but it's hard to feel any sympathy for the kid while the media, as he said, is "trashing" him. On the '07-08 scale of classnessness, the play ranked just below the Chester-Frazier-on-Eric-Gordon pre-game chest bump, and just above Deron Washington's antics against Duke.

Next three: 2/17 at USC, 2/21 vs. Oregon State, 2/23 vs. Oregon
7 7
Georgetown Hoyas (20-3)
After mentioning Barack Obama (yet again) in last week's Power Rankings, I put out a request for some Republican-candidate connections to college hoops -- and got some swift replies. Readers Mark Jarmie and John Thacker were the first two to direct me to a great Salon.com blog post detailing how the success of John McCain's campaign is directly related to the fortunes of Georgetown basketball. On Feb. 5, Salon's Mike Madden wrote that "McCain and his senior strategists are among the most superstitious people in politics, and over the course of this primary season, the Hoyas have become something of an omen to Mark Salter, McCain's longtime speechwriter/Senate chief of staff/intellectual alter ego." Here's what they based it on: McCain lost the Michigan primary on the day after Georgetown fell to Pitt. McCain won the South Carolina primary on the same day the Hoyas killed Notre Dame. A few days after Pat Ewing's crazy block sealed a win over West Virginia, McCain won Florida and jumped into the driver's seat in the GOP race. On Super Tuesday, both the Hoyas (with a 10-point win over South Florida) and McCain (sweeping victories across the country) cruised.

Next three: 2/16 at Syracuse, 2/18 at Providence, 2/23 vs. Cincinnati
8 9
Connecticut Huskies (19-5)
I was thinking my drive up from NYC to Storrs for Wednesday night's UConn-Notre Dame game was hellacious -- what should've been a 2 1/2-hour trip turned into 3 1/2 hours in freezing rain -- until I checked my e-mail and saw the arctic adventure these two bloggers went through to trek from Canada to the Palouse for Feb. 7's UCLA-Wazzu game. Since I already wrote about Huskies star A.J. Price in a separate column, I'll devote this space to the most amazing basketball performance I witnessed at Gampel Pavilion, and it wasn't by Price, or even Notre Dame's Luke Harangody. As part of a People's United Bank promotion during a first-half timeout, a UConn student was given 30 seconds to hit a free throw, a three-pointer and a half-courter for a variety of (to the best of my recollection) cash prizes. The kid whom they selected happened to be wearing a foam toilet costume, with the giant bowl protruding out from his waist, and an "ND" logo taped inside it. This getup severely hampered his shooting form; it took him far too many tries to make the free throw. After that, though, he hit his second trey attempt, and, just after time had expired, drilled his second half-court heave, to some major applause. He began celebrating -- and then was quickly informed by a UConn promotions person that the shot didn't count. Someone at People's United needs to find the toilet guy and give him the cash; with that costume, he deserved at least a 10-second handicap.

Next three: 2/16 at South Florida, 2/19 vs. DePaul, 2/23 at Villanova
9 10
Xavier Muskateers (21-4)
On Sunday, St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli dropped one of the season's best quotes -- it's more of a rant, actually -- after a 76-72 loss to Xavier. Martelli had been asked about the Musketeers' defensive stopper Stanley Burrell, who finished the game with 16 points. The coach said (via the Cincy Enquirer's hoops blog): "Is there anybody here from the Xavier administration? Do you know when graduation is? That goddamn Burrell, every year, every goddamn game makes a shot against us. He was averaging 7.5 points coming into the game in seven league games -- or eight games. Doesn't look like the same player, playing great defense. Dagger. I want to be here to make sure that sonofabitch gets out of here to be honest with you." This was said mostly in jest, but if Martelli needs the X's graduation dates, we looked them up: Burrell, who's a communication arts/electronic media major, could potentially don a cap and gown on May 17 in Cincinnati.

Next three: 2/18 at Rhode Island, 2/21 vs. Duquesne, 2/24 at Dayton
10 NR
Texas Longhorns (20-4)
I saw a stellar Big 12 game on Monday night in Austin, and also spotted three characters from Friday Night Lights in Erwin Center. The first was Brad Leland, who plays the Dillon Panthers' No. 1 booster, Buddy Garrity. Leland's IMDB bio says he's a Texas Tech alum and fan, though, so he couldn't have been entirely in the 'Horns' camp. The other two FNL cast members happened to also be Texas head coaches: football's Mack Brown, who appeared in the show's pilot as a Dillon booster; and basketball's Rick Barnes, who appeared in an episode this January as a "recruiter" from the fictional Texas Methodist University, or TMU. He's a rather persuasive dude in that role, coaxing a verbal commitment out of stud running back Brian "Smash" Williams in their first-face-to-face visit. Barnes no doubt wishes his real-life recruitment of Tyreke Evans were so easy.

Next three: 2/16 at Baylor, 2/18 vs. Texas A&M, 2/23 vs. Oklahoma

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