Prelude to a Bubble Report: 11/27/06

WeAreDePaul.com's Mike Adam is back with this week's Bubble Blog...

That ball you saw go sailing over my blogt was another Rex Grossman chuck ‘n' duck. Talk about a punch in the gut at the end of the game, especially after the Bears' defense gets the miracle fumble recovery. I keep trying to talk myself into believing that the ultimate success of the Bears this season will not reside with the quarterback, and then the Patriots game happens. (sigh)

The former head coach of Michigan State football, John L. Smith, needs his own category for being a goof. For those who may not remember, Smith was the coach at Louisville before moving on to Michigan State. While he certainly was part of the driving force that helped reestablish Louisville football (a 41-21 record and five bowl appearances there), he couldn't have botched his move to East Lansing any worse. He accepted MSU's coaching job before Louisville's bowl game that year and then informed his players he would be leaving at halftime of that game (a game that Louisville ultimately ended up losing 38-15. You think he mailed that one in, hmm?)

After four years compiling a 22-26 record at Michigan State, Smith was relieved of his duties at the end of this year. Some of the lowlights from just this season included blowing a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead to Notre Dame, and losing to both Illinois and Indiana. Nice work.

So what does this all have to do with college basketball? Reports have surfaced this week that Tom Izzo, Michigan State's basketball coach, could be a candidate for the job.

Det. News

The potential for disasters exists in all aspects of this story, which is why it bears worth watching, to me.

1) Izzo couldn't possibly have the time and stamina to do both jobs, could he? Let's assume he left basketball to coach football for these next questions.

2) Could you imagine being a college coordinator or mid-major football coach trying to compete for a big job, only now your pool includes head basketball coaches, as well? You're basically discounting the experience needed in coaching football.

3) It seems to me that Michigan State would essentially be saying two things to the basketball program: a) the football team is more important and therefore, their needs come first, and b) it's not the coach who makes the basketball team successful, but the system. Otherwise, why else would you take a successful coach out of his position and assume the program would just keep rolling along? This sounds dangerously close to Jerry Krause: "Players don't win championships; organizations win championships."

4) And what if Izzo failed as football head coach? Do you just slide him back in as basketball head coach? How does that conversation go with the head coach you put in place to replace Izzo?

The whole story got me to thinking about what college basketball coaches I would like/have liked to see patrol the sidelines:

- Bobby Knight. How about the post-game handshake after a hard-fought game between a team coached by Knight and a team coached by Coach Ditka?

- Rick Majerus. Which way would the field tilt if Majerus were standing across from Kansas head coach Mark Mangino? For those of you not familiar:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Mangino

- Pete Carril. Every play would be a double reverse and take the maximum amount of time off the play clock.

- Mike Davis. Could you imagine the anguish on every single snap?

And with that, onto the games… After last week's omission of Marquette's games, I feel compelled to add this disclaimer: all summaries are assumed accurate unless I forgot something or got something wrong. Then they're inaccurate.

Non-Conference Opponents

Bradley: The Braves had a pretty decent week, all things considered. First, they handled Florida A&M 107-75 in Peoria. Then, as part of the Chicago Challenge Invitational, they bested Rutgers 101-72 before falling to Illinois in the final 75-71. At 4-1, Bradley's off to a solid start. This week holds two road games, at Tennessee Tech and then Michigan State.

Northwestern: Two home games, two wins for the Wildcats. First, they handled Brown 64-40, then eked by North Florida 40-39 to move to 3-2. In their five games this year, neither Northwestern nor their opponent has broken 65 points yet. Get your tickets now for this exciting brand of basketball up in Evanston! This week, Northwestern hosts Miami (FL).

Eastern Illinois: The Panthers got into the win column this week by defeating Wisconsin-Green Bay at home 63-61. And in a touching ceremony before the game, Brett Favre announced that he has made no decisions about his future. It's a new promotion UW-GB is having before all its games: "What Will Brett Do?" Guess the exact date Brett makes a decision, and you get to star in Brett's new Prilosec commercial. Look for the 2,000-word article from Peter King later this week. Anyway, the prosperity of one win was too much, as EIU then fell at Murray State 53-50. This week, the 1-5 Panthers host Arkansas State.

Kentucky: After dispatching DePaul in the first round at Maui, Kentucky went on to lose its other two games against UCLA and Memphis, dropping the Wildcats to 3-2. Did you realize that Kentucky is one of three teams with the mascot "Wildcats" that DePaul plays this year, with Northwestern and Villanova the others? You never hear about the wildcat out in public, and wildcats are never prominently featured in zoos. So why did so many schools choose them as a mascot? Sounds like a research project. I think I'll give it to "Little Brother Extraordinaire" Shondell. I'm sure he'll get around to it, oh…never. Anyway, this week shapes up to be a tough one, as Kentucky hosts College of Charleston, then invades the Dean Dome to play North Carolina.

Purdue: The Boilermakers make their first appearance on the "Prelude", as they were the unknown opponent until the tournament in Maui played itself out (and no, I'm not going to follow the trails and travails of Chaminade through the season). The games in Hawaii were their only action this week, as Purdue lost to Georgia Tech but beat Oklahoma. They are now 4-1, with home games against Virginia and Delaware State this week.

Kansas: Seems as if they righted the ship after the shocking loss to Oral Roberts, huh? "Rock, Chalk" won three games in ascending impressiveness over Tennessee State, Ball State, and then #1-ranked Florida to move to 5-1. I am a pretty optimistic fan, but thinking about the Kansas game from DePaul's perspective, I sort of feel like one of the Texans who were defending the Alamo if they had tape to scout Santa Anna's army on ESPN a few days before the battle. Before Kansas arrives, though, they host Dartmouth earlier in the week.

Chicago State: It was a relatively quiet week for CSU. They only played one game and won, an 86-70 victory over Wright State. The 2-3 Cougars have a busy week, playing in New Mexico against UTEP, New Mexico State and Southeastern Louisiana. The last two games are part of the Lou Henson Classic, about which I had to find out on the New Mexico State site. The Chicago State site was a ton of help:

http://www.csu.edu/athletics/mensport/basketball/index.htm

UAB: After losing in Laramie to the Cowboys the prior week, UAB (3-2) avenged the loss by knocking off Wyoming 92-71 in Birmingham in their only game this past week. In the upcoming week, UAB plays Wyoming four more times... Actually, the Blazers have two road games at Western Kentucky and Cincinnati.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons are now 5-0 to start the season with wins over Vanderbilt and Appalachian State at home. This week, they travel to Colorado Springs to play Air Force, then come home and host Georgia. It's quite possible they come to Chicago undefeated.

Rhode Island: Blecch. I hate having these guys on the schedule because they usually end up being one of the anchors. This week, URI played one game and lost at Boston College 86-68. The 1-3 Rams have two games this week, hosting Iona and traveling to Providence.

UC-Irvine: While the DePaul schedule has three "Wildcats", I guarantee you these are the only "Anteaters". For the second consecutive week, UC-Irvine posted a split – losing at Nevada but winning at home against Pepperdine. The 3-4 Anteaters now don't have a game until December 9, which means this blurb will be filler next week. Feel free to send in something to fill this space: college basketball discussion, haikus, family photos, whatever, and I'll post it.

California: Quite the week for the Bears, who posted four victories to run their record to 5-1. First, they dusted Santa Clara, then went to Anchorage and beat Marshall, Hawaii (who had to be wondering what bet they lost to have to go from Hawaii to Alaska in November) and Loyola Marymount. This week, Cal has games at home against Kansas State (holding tongue) and at San Jose against Nevada.

Northwestern State: The Demons evened their record at 2-2 with a home victory over New Orleans 71-67. This week, they have a home game against Centenary, then travel to Marquette.

This Week in the Big East

Cincinnati: In possibly the biggest upset in the nation during the week, the Bearcats lost at home to Wofford 91-90. So what do we know about Wofford? Well, it's located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Their nickname is the Terriers. And they're in the Top Five among the country's baccalaureate institutions in the percentage of students receiving credit for studying abroad. What does all of this have to do with Wofford's victory? Nothing, really – I'm just filling space. Getting back to the Bearcats, despite this loss, they are still 4-1 as they rebounded later in the week to defeat Central Michigan 60-50. This week holds two more home games for Cincinnati, against Oakland and UAB.

Connecticut: (yawn) One home game this week for the Huskies, a home victory over Albany to run UConn's record to 5-0. Connecticut doesn't have a road game until December 30 at West Virginia, and really doesn't have a challenging game until they travel to LSU on January 6. Maybe this is the section I should posting reader submissions.

Georgetown: After their stunning loss to Old Dominion, the Hoyas (3-1) rebound with a victory over Fairfield 73-60. Georgetown has a very busy week ahead: home games against Ball State and Oregon, then a trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium to play Duke.

Louisville: This loss seems to have really slid under the radar, but Louisville lost its only game of the week, a neutral-site game against Dayton. The 1-1 Cardinals await the arrival of Sacramento State at the end of the week.

Marquette: The Golden Gold remain undefeated at 5-0 with two wins in the CBE Classic over Texas Tech and Duke. Monday night, they travel to Valparaiso in a battle of bratwurst versus popcorn, then host Northwestern State later in the week.

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish (3-1) had the week off, winning as many games as the football team this week. They make up for it this week, though, with home games against Lehigh and Winston Salem State, then travel to Maryland.

Pittsburgh: The Wannstedts are 6-0 after their fifth consecutive home victory, a win over Florida State 88-66. Another home cupcake awaits in Robert Morris, then they play their first true road game at Auburn.

Providence: Go figure – after coming off a home loss to Brown, the Friars (3-1) beat Boston College 73-64 and George Washington 86-67. This week, they have home games against Columbia and Rhode Island.

Rutgers: No one is off to a worse start than the 0-4 Rutgers squad. Gary Waters probably doesn't seem all that bad to the Scarlet Knights faithful right now. A home loss to Jackson State, then losses in the Chicago Challenge to Bradley and Miami (OH) punctuated their week. This week, they travel to Temple, then host Nebraska.

St. John's: So how did the Red Storm follow up their narrow loss to Texas? They lost at home by 13 to Illinois State, 78-65. St. John's is now 2-3 with home games against Long Island and Maryland-Baltimore County this week.

Seton Hall: This makes three consecutive weeks where Seton Hall has been the hardest of the 15 blurbs to write among the Big East schools. They don't have a notable schedule, and they've only played two Division I schools to this point. This week, they beat Morgan State 83-63 to square their record at 1-1, and if anyone can provide me a way to make that sound more interesting, post it and I'll replace my words with yours. This upcoming week, they play St. Peter's and St. Mary's. They also play St. John's later this year, and I'll start to get suspicious if they start scheduling games against other Biblical personalities.

South Florida: The apocalypse is upon us – South Florida is still undefeated at 3-0. Then again, you can add Florida International to the "victim" list that also has Buffalo and South Carolina State (all at home), which is not exactly a gauntlet. The Bulls have another home game this week, hosting Stetson.

Syracuse: The past week for the Orange wasn't particularly interesting. They put together a home win against Charlotte and a road win at Canisius, and now they're 6-0. The upcoming week should be much more interesting, with home games against Holy Cross and (ranked) Wichita State.

Villanova: After an Elite Eight appearance last year, Villanova (3-1) has started this season really unnoticed. They won their finale in the Paradise Jam Tournament over Iowa 89-60, then struggled to a win at home against Navy 70-61. This week, they have road games against Stony Brook and Penn.

West Virginia: The Pittsnogles had a pretty decent time in Orlando, wrapping up second place in the Old Spice Classic. After defeating Montana and Western Michigan, West Virginia fell to Arkansas in the final. At 4-1, they return home to play Maryland-Eastern Shore.

Let's go, Demons.

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