Winthrop 70, East Carolina 55(story) - With embarrassing losses to D2 teams and potential school-poaching by the Atlantic Sun, it hasn't been the Big South's day, their week, their month, or even their year. But Winthrop has been a big bright spot, running out to a 7-2 record that includes two wins over power-conference teams - last night's victims were the C-USA's East Carolina Pirates. The Eagles built an 18-point halftime lead on the strength of a 29-9 run, and they didn't have to expend much energy protecting that lead in the second half. Their generally-loquacious coach Gregg Marshall called the run "a blur." Pirate coach and old buddy Bill Herrion was a bit more detailed: "I am embarrassed right now that people had to watch what was on the floor tonight."
After a four-year study, the NCAA basketball committee has revised the Ratings Percentage Index. Gone is the old win-is-a-win version that rewarded victory in the same fashion regardless of venue, and that didn't take into account the crucial fact that teams lose two out of every three in hostile environments. Now, home wins will be given a relative weight of 0.6, neutral site wins will be valued at 1.0, and road wins will be weighted at 1.4. My amateur stabs at a rating system have been all about measuring a team's performance against expected results, so this sounds good to me.
The power conference fans certainly have a full plate of big power matchups on this Saturday, but out here in the land of radio-only we've got some doozies that will elevate heart rates just the same. Indiana State and Ball State should be a scorcher, and so could 7-2 Pepperdine against 5-1 Bradley. Stingy Evansville might have enough to take down a struggling Purdue team, and nobody would be "shocked" if 4-0 Wichita State gave Tulsa a whuppin'. Big West heavy Pacific plays San Francisco, the "forgotten" good WCC team in the recent league lovefest.
My Pennsylvanian neighbor Chris over at Hoop Time spent finals week expanding his enterprise - rolling out a great new look, new logo, new slogan, and a new HT megastore (which tastefully avoids the infamous CafePress thong). One of the first orders of business in the new digs was to uptick my horrible dimes-to-rubber-checks ratio, so I'm grateful for that. He also found ex-Holy Cross 7'6" British behemoth-slash-cult hero Neil Fingleton - who despite his size, just can't seem to stop from disappearing into thin air.