Tuesday, February 25, 2003

The estimated start of any war in the Persian Gulf will be sometime in the second or third week of March, which, of course, is when the focus of every basketball fan is on the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament. CBS issued word today that if the war starts at or before the tournament, they will preempt the action to provide more news coverage. In that case, the tournament would shift to either TNN, VH-1, or MTV, which, like CBS, are owned by Viacom.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Damn the Bears.

Monday, February 17, 2003

The week ahead could be altered by the major-league snowstorm pummelling the northeast as I write, but with the understanding that tonight's Pitt-Georgetown and 'Nova-Seton Hall matchups will be made up sometime later, let's otherwise assume this week's schedule stands.

Tonight then, unsurprisingly, the action's out west. Texas hosts Texas Tech in a HUGE game for the Red Raiders (after a 10-1 start, their Dancin' shoes aren't fitting the way they used to). Don't bet on the General to pull it off - but never bet against him. There's also a trio of dandy Mountain West matchups which could have a lot of impact on Selection Sunday: Wyoming's at Air Force (Cowboys still bubble?), UNLV visits Utah (UNLV still bubble? Utes are in, barring a collapse), and San Diego State is at BYU (Cougs trying to keep up with Utah at the top of the standings).

Three tasty selections are on tap Tuesday. In the Big Ten, Michigan State travels to Champaign with the Illini looking for payback (subplots abound: can the Illini stay in the thick of the conference title chase? Or will the Spartans push themselves further into it?). Georgia's at 'Bama: oh say can you see two SEC bubblers (who shouldn't have fallen this far)? Meanwhile, in the Big East, Notre Dame's got a tough road game at West Virginia, better than you think (remember, it was they who gave the Gators their first loss nearly two months ago).

Wednesday... mmm, Wednesday. Start with an appetizer of Memphis at Louisville (Calipari. Pitino. 'nuff said.). Continue with the salad course, Maryland at Duke (the ACC is far from over, folks). The leaders of the SEC West then face off as Mississippi State pays a call to Auburn to cleanse the palate. Your main course? How does Oklahoma State at Oklahoma sound, garnished with a little Dayton at Richmond (try to catch this one - the Spiders might yet be bubble, and could definitely play A-10 spoilers)? For dessert, half a sixpack of Big Ten matchups: Michigan at Purdue (for all the marbles? It just might be), Minnesota at Northwestern (think NU can't spoil your week? Just ask Purdue and Indiana), and Indiana at Iowa (Andy Katz: "The Hoosiers are in desperation mode and absolutely have to win this game.").

Wake is at GA Tech on Thursday.

I swear I'll preview the weekend before the weekend, this week. Scout's honor.

Days until Selection Sunday: 27

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

The death penalty has become one of the flash points in our society, and was used effectively as a "wedge" issue by the GOP in the 70's and '80's (ie., Bush v. Dukakis, 1988). In the 1990's, the conventional wisdom held that any Democrat who wished to hold high office had to support the death penalty. Bill Clinton famously returned to Arkansas during the 1992 campaign to preside over the execution of one convict, and Grey Davis took a more hawkish position on the death penalty than his Republican opponent in the last election.

Recently, the mood has shifted slightly on the issue. Republican Governor George Ryan of Illinois imposed a morotorium several years ago on its implimentation, and commuted the sentences of everyone on death row before he left office. In the last presidential election, both Gore and Bush supported the death penalty, but it was then-Governor Bush who was forced to justify the often slip-shod procedures by which the ultimate punishment was meted out in Texas. In addition, the Roman Catholic church has lobbied aggressively to abolish the penalty, and some, like conservative TV and radio commentator Bill O'Reilly, have been outspoken opponents.

So what's does this have to do with college sports. Well, according to the New York Times, three former coaches, including the only ex-college coach sitting in Congress, have publicly come out in support of either the abolition or the suspension of the death penalty. Those coaches include Dean Smith, whose liberalism and advocacy on civil rights go back four decades, but also Dale Brown, who is often discussed as a possible GOP Senate candidate in his home state of North Dakota, and Tom Osborne, who is now a two-term Republican Congressman from Nebraska. Rep. Osborne acknowledges that his position is not one his constituents share, but was shaped by the many years spent coaching, recruiting, and mentoring African-Americans during his career with the Nebraska Cornhuskers [link via TalkLeft]

Monday, February 10, 2003

The week ahead has actually already started, with 'Cuse at UConn happening now (a so-must-win for the Huskies), to be followed by what could be a classic matchup of top ten teams (or could be Florida at Kentucky II): Oklahoma at Texas. And don'[t forget Utah-Wyoming at midnight (EST); Wyoming has to win this game to stay in the thick of the Mountain West 3-way battle (with the Utes and BYU).

Might as well call it "Big Tuesday" as well, with Michigan State at Wisconsin (can the Spartans pull off another road win? If so, it's alright to say they're back, or at least on their way) and Georgia at Kentucky (I've been wrong before - I picked OK State to beat Cincy - but I just don't see Kentucky losing to a downtrodden Bulldog team at home).

Wednesday's packed. The ACC and Big Ten each have some serious matchups. In the ACC, it's mid-table battles royale, as Virginia visits UNC (can the Cavs win another on the road? How low can the Tar Heels sink?) and NC State hosts GA Tech (should be great and gutty). Meanwhile, Maryland needs to bounce back, fast, and can do so at Florida State, but FSU's no pushover - just ask Duke.
Michigan is at Indiana in what could (should?) be a very interesting Big Ten contest. The Hoosiers won't lose again, at home, will they? That'd be 6 in a row. Iowa travels to Minnesota for a we-are-too-capable-of-dancing-in-March! cage match.

Thursday, it's all about Duke at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons could definitely win this one, and they're certain to remember that they were undefeated when they visited Cameron Indoor Stadium. Revenge is a dish best served with hot shooting.

Weekend preview near week's end. Now, where's my remote?!

Yo. I'm Thomas Inskeep, host of the mostly-music (and blog-related) oh, manchester, so much to answer for (a/k/a "submeat"), and am thankful to Steve for allowing me to join him here at CA. College basketball is one of my greatest passions, and it's the start of a new week, so let's get to it, people!

As I expected, and deservedly so, Louisville and Kentucky each jumped 4 spots in the new ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, to numbers 2 and 3, respectively. I think they should be 1-2, with Arizona third - c'mon, can you honestly tell me that the 'Cats are playing the best ball in the country right now, or are the best team? Ridiculous. 'Zona's proven they're vulnerable, and likely won't make it through the back-to-back Cal and Stanford games unscathed at months end.

Kentucky, on the other hand, could really run the table in the SEC - the biggest bumps in their path are a pair of games with Georgia (at home tomorrow, in Athens 3/02) and their regular-season finale at Florida 3/8 (think the Gators'll be thinking revenge for their nationally-televised humiliation last Tuesday?). Not to mention that if the 'Cats lose one game, and Florida goes unbeaten the next 3 weeks, the SEC East title will come down to that one game. Mmmm...

Louisville looks even better, and could also go undefeated in conference play. They've reeled off 16 straight wins - no small feat - their lone loss coming in their second game of the season, to Purdue in the Wooden Tradition (yeah, I'm partisan - and more on the Big Ten later). The big date to circle on your Cardinals calendar is this Saturday, when they're at Marquette. The Golden Eagles have their toughest games behind them, save a trip to Louisville 2/27, and are only half a game behind Pitino's boys in the C-USA American standings. [Even after their impressive win over Oklahoma State yesterday, I don't see Cincinnati knocking off L'ville, even at home. The C-USA regular season trophy will finally get a new home this year.]

A look at the week ahead, and the always-bruising Big Ten, later this evening. In the meantime, enjoy the new edition of Joe Lunardi's Bracketology.

And now, without further adieu, is this week's completely irrelevant Top-25 poll from ESPN.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Returning, ever so briefly, to college football, it seems Nick Saban is well on his way to building a little juggernaut down in Louisiana. According to the various recruiting gurus (btw, can there be a more pathetic hobby than analyzing high school recruits), LSU has the top class this year, followed by USC (nabbing Steve Smith [obviously no relation], the top receiver in California) and Florida. Try to remember, when reading such articles, that Gerry Faust was an awesome recruiter, and that USC was consistently ranked in the top-10 during John Robinson's mid-90's tenure. After having seen CAL get consistently low marks for its JC-influenced classes, it's nice to finally see the Bears ranked nineteenth, in Jeff Tedford's first year.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

For the first time ever, Florida is ranked number one in the polls. Every season, there is at least one team that gets ranked at the top that has absolutely no chance of winning the title. In the late-80's, it seemed that Missouri would always spend a few weeks heading the polls, before it inevitably got bounced in the first round of the tournament. The past few years, Stanford always managed to enjoy the number one ranking without being a serious national title contender. Now, its Florida's turn.

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