I'm convinced the most uttered phrase by American professional athletes is some version of, "it's us against the world"; "no one gave us a chance"; "we've been disrespected all season". While these statements in and of themselves are absurd, I think we officially reached the peak when Tom Brady claimed that the Patriots were being disrespected before this year's NFL playoffs. Good grief. I wonder if John Wooden ever felt compelled to scream to a locker room before a championship game, "No one EVER thought you could win six championships in a row!"
Conversely, I believe the most uttered phrase by sports fans is, "[insert team] sucks", or if you internalize that you actually play for or coach the team, the variation, "we suck". I'm tempted to go George Carlin and analyze the phrase, because the object of the sentence is never given in this context. We just know it's bad, but we never clarify: "we suck"…what? But that's for another day.
I started thinking about all this when reading about the debacle down in Bloomington. People are wearing black shirts to the game in protest, and Head Coach Mike Davis has essentially thrown in the towel as Indiana's coach. According to him, for the Indiana faithful to truly be happy, they need someone from the Indiana "family" to coach the team. (His actual words were that Indiana fans needed "one of their own", not "family".) I'm not sure I'd want to stick around, either, when you see websites like this one: www.firemikedavis.com
Anyway, his stance is an interesting one to me, since part of the criticism of DePaul is that they don't extend outside the "family" enough when it comes to their Athletic Department. So if I understand, DePaul needs less "family" to be successful, but Indiana needs more "family"? Maybe someone could do a regression for me on this to understand the optimal use of "family" in an Athletic Department.
I'm guessing many of those black-shirted fans on Saturday uttered the phrase "we suck" numerous times. (No analysis was conducted – I'm operating on a hunch here.) But do they really? This is a program that has won the national championship three times in the past 30 years. They were just in the national championship game five years ago. So how legitimate is this claim to "sucking"? Doesn't seem quite so valid to me. So you haven't made the NCAA Tournament since way back in 2003? Here, let me introduce you to Northwestern. It's mathematically impossible for everyone to be good every year. Deal with it – sheesh. Fans understand that…unless it pertains to their team. Then sucking, unless it has the expressed written consent of the alumni and donors, is strictly prohibited.
So which basketball teams don't suck? I've come up with some criteria to determine the suck factor across the country. Feel free to add your own at home with the family later tonight…
- If you didn't make the NCAA Tournament last year, obviously your team must suck. So that leaves 65 programs who don't suck.
- If you're a 2005 NCAA Tournament team from a one-bid conference, you must suck because your conference isn't good enough to have an at-large bid. So that leaves 46 schools.
- If your RPI rank this year is not in a position right now to follow up last year's Tournament appearance, you must suck, too. That leaves 32 teams.
- If you've lost to Quin Snyder this year, you definitely suck. We're down to 30.
- If you lost to a worse seed than you were in last year's NCAA Tournament, that's another sucking criteria. We're down to 22.
- Losing to a team with an RPI worse than 100 is a cardinal sin, so your team must suck if that's happened this year. That trims our list to four.
So I'd like to congratulate the following schools for not sucking:
And I was tired when I did this, so I may have omitted a school or eight from this list. I don't know about you, but I feel much better now knowing that only four schools in the country don't suck.
(removing tongue from cheek)
BIG EAST Scores
Villanova 69, Connecticut 64. Damn it, I hate Demon Dave's pick'em pool. No offense to Dave, who does a great job running it, but I spend hours and hours writing about college basketball every week only to finish in the middle or bottom of the pack in the standings. And it's games like this that do it to me every week. It's clear both these teams are part of the cream of the crop across the country. Could these teams tangle twice more? (check out the alliteration) The possibility certainly exists in New York, then again in Indianapolis.
Seton Hall 71, West Virginia 64. Seton Hall (16-7, 6-5, RPI: 26) loses by 42 at home to Connecticut. West Virginia (17-6, 9-2, RPI: 20) wins by 13 at Georgetown. So when these two teams play, the logical result is that…Seton Hall wins? This is like one of those "figure out the pattern" questions from standardized tests which I always got wrong. And thousands of bettors across the nation just swore off ever betting on a Seton Hall game again.
ACC Scores of Bubble Relevance
Clemson 89, Maryland 77. Someone cue Tom Petty for Maryland's (14-9, 5-6, RPI: 43) NCAA chances. This joke's an oldie but a goodie: "And I'm freeeeeee….I'm free fallin'!".
SEC Scores of Bubble Relevance
South Carolina 67, Alabama 56. Coming into this one, I thought there would be one bubble angle: Alabama's (14-9, 7-4, RPI: 45) continued ascent up the SEC standings. But they lost, and all of a sudden, that RPI rank isn't looking so hot. Now a second storyline is emerging: could South Carolina (13-10, 5-6, RPI: 48 ) actually play their way into the Tournament? I think Jimmy Dykes is one of the sharpest college basketball analysts out there, and at the end of the telecast of this game, I thought he summed up South Carolina's situation beautifully (paraphrasing): "South Carolina isn't in the NCAA field yet, but they've given themselves the chance to play their way in, which many teams don't have right now." That comment was spot-on. And as I proofread this blurb, I realize that I've just set a personal record for "Most Colons Used in a Blurb" with five.
Big XII Scores of Bubble Relevance
Kansas 64, Oklahoma State 49. It took Kansas (17-6, 9-2, RPI: 39) 15 wins out of their last 17 games to finally get their RPI rank in an arguable position for NCAA inclusion. They should keep on breezing, as their next two games are home ones against Missouri and Baylor. I would have thought the Missouri game would be tougher now that the Not-So-Mighty Quin is out of the picture, then I found out that Melvin Watkins is the interim coach – the same Melvin Watkins who ran Texas A&M's program into the ground before Billy Gillespie got there. Boy, they sure can pick ‘em in Columbia, can't they?
Missouri Valley Scores of Bubble Relevance
Indiana State 61, Northern Iowa 60. All hell broke loose AGAIN in the Valley last night, and it started with this score. Northern Iowa (19-6, 11-5, RPI: 23) didn't get pushed to the bubble with this loss, but they lost at least one seed line with it in the NCAA Tournament. And how do you figure Indiana State's last two weeks, where they've managed to beat Northern Iowa at home AND end Southern Illinois' home court winning streak shortly after completing an 11-game losing streak?
Bradley 72, Southern Illinois 60. Seriously, what is going on here? SIU (18-7, 11-5, RPI: 28 ) was able to take a game at Creighton over the weekend, but then can't follow it up in a loss to Bradley (15-9, 9-7, RPI: 53)? Do the Braves still actually have a pulse in this race? They're going to have to win at Northern Iowa in a week to fully rejoin the race.
Wichita State 62, Creighton 61 (OT). Wichita State (20-6, 12-4, RPI: 17) refuses to be denied an NCAA Tournament berth this year, as they pay Creighton (17-7, 11-5, RPI: 30) back for a buzzer-beating loss at the end of January by winning a game at the buzzer in Kansas. And now it's the Shockers who own a one-game lead in the conference as we hit the final stretch sprinting.
Missouri State 71, Evansville 50. And here come the Bears (17-7, 10-6, RPI: 29) roaring down the stretch on the outside (pun intended). It's doubtful they received word of the other scores in the conference while they played, but they certainly capitalized on the stumbles of some of the teams ahead of them in the standings. Creighton plays at Missouri State on the final day of the season, and they might clash again a few days later in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. The plot, which was as thick as pea soup already, just got heavier.
Other Scores of Bubble Relevance
Nevada 50, Louisiana Tech 49. Everyone knew the Wolf Pack (18-5, 9-3, RPI: 32) was the class of the WAC. It just took some time for them to assert themselves. They did dodge a major bullet here, though, as Nick Fazekas followed up an air-ball with a little over a second remaining to keep Nevada on the right side of the bubble.
Let's go, Demons.
WeAreDePaul.com Bubble Report - 2/15/06
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