Pac-10 offers fascinating conference race and more notes (cont.)
It has to gall Michigan fans to see how much success 6-10 junior center Ekpe Udoh is having at Baylor after transferring from Michigan two years ago. I realize Udoh is a shot-blocker/rebounder type who does not have the Pittsnogle-esque skills to thrive in John Beilein's system, but still, the kid is playing his way into the lottery while the Wolverines are struggling just to get to the bubble.
I just love watching games I've recorded when I don't know who won.
As a public service, I will now update Erving Walker's shot-o-meter. Through last weekend, Florida's sophomore point guard has attempted 87 three-pointers to 46 free throws. Keep in mind he is shooting 32.2 percent from three-point range this season and 78.3 percent from the foul line. Gotta reverse those numbers, young fella.
I'm amazed at the way Butler junior center Matt Howard has regressed this season. A year after being named the Horizon League's Player of the Year, Howard's numbers have fallen drastically across the board: points (14.8 to 10.8), rebounds (6.8 to 4.9), field goal percentage (55.0 to 42.2). Worst of all, he has already fouled out seven times, compared to three times all of last season.
Zen Hoop Thought: A good player knows how to play well when he's not playing well. Think about it.
It's pretty striking the way Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett has virtually cornered the market on players from Australia. The Gaels have five Aussies on their roster, two of whom are starters. I'm only surprised Randy hasn't tried yet to recruit the Wiggles.
This week's AP ballot
(Last week's rankings on my ballot in parentheses)
1. Texas (2)
Dropped off my ballot: New Mexico (16), Cincinnati (20), USC (22).
Skinny: Heading into the weekend, I assumed the most perplexing question would be how far to drop Tennessee in the wake of Tyler Smith's dismissal and the suspensions of three other players. Instead, my voters and I had to decide how high to rank the Vols after their upset of top-ranked Kansas -- and by extension, how far to drop Kansas. Such is the emotional-roller-coaster life of a college basketball pollster.
My general rule is to try not to overreact to one game, so I couldn't quite push the Vols into the top 10, and I didn't see fit to drop the Jayhawks past No. 3, especially since Purdue, Duke and West Virginia also lost last week. It was a close call deciding how to order Purdue and Villanova. They both have one loss coming on the road, Purdue at Wisconsin and 'Nova at Temple. I went with Villanova because they have more quality wins, though none with the singular quality of the Boilermakers' throttling of West Virginia. These things will work themselves out in due time.
Elsewhere, not surprisingly Georgetown made the biggest jump this week due to its impressive comeback win over UConn. (I'm not counting Wisconsin because I only left them off last week by mistake.) New Mexico suffered the biggest fall, dropping off my ballot completely following losses to San Diego State and UNLV. Given that the Lobos have also lost to Oral Roberts, I have a feeling they are playing more at their true level now after overachieving (to their credit) the first two months.
As you can see, I'm back on the Siena bandwagon. The Saints are off to a 5-0 start in the MAAC, and all of their losses are respectable (at Temple, at St. John's, at Georgia Tech, at Northern Iowa). And they didn't have their best player, Edwin Ubiles, during that St. John's game because he was hurt.
As for the teams that didn't make my ballot, the hardest cut was Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets knocked off a very good Duke team at home, but they also lost at Georgia the previous game and have lost to Florida State at home. And much as I would like to rank Northwestern, I still think they have not put together a top 25-worthy resume. Yes, they won at Michigan on Sunday, but we all know Michigan is not very good, and the Wildcats struggled to beat Texas Pan-American the game before. They have Wisconsin and Purdue at home this week, followed by a road game at Ohio State next week, so they have plenty of opportunities to make their mark.
Finally, I thought about ranking Mississippi State after its win at Ole Miss, but the Bulldogs lost at Western Kentucky in their previous game. I need another quality win from them before I can put a number next to their name.
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