PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Wow, what a weekend. So packed with hot mid-major action that I don't have time to tell any jokes here in the intro paragraph. Here we go! Siena's Super Saints.
Number 20's been an unlucky spot in the national popularity contest lately. That's where Kentucky sat when Gardner-Webb sent them into the dunk tank two Wednesdays ago, and now their Pac-10 replacements are all wet too. On Saturday afternoon, Siena took advantage of Stanford's travellin' kindness and ripped the Cardinal 79-67
, as the foursome that will be lumped into the same paragraph a lot during MAAC play (Josh Duell, Edwin Ubiles, Kenny Hasbrouck and Alex Franklin) combined for 53 points.
The Saints took control right around the 10 minute mark of the second half, while the Cardinal played foul-tac-toe with its starters. (I'm telling you, that's when to strike.) Still trying to figure out why Stanford would do this, it's not like you're going to The Citadel to play in front of 800 people and waltz out with your RPI road bonus. Anybody who's been to that place knows that it's an miniature NBA atmosphere in there, with circling spotlights during player intros and media time-out barkers and thousands of screaming fans.
If the miniature NBA were to put a team in Albany, that is. The (mid-major) South, rising again.
Driving around the American South, as I've been doing these past few days, it seems like there's a small college and a tiny gymnasium behind every exit. Some of those decided that this weekend was a good time to knock off some of the schools that make you pay for parking.
Despite shooting just 35 percent, the New Orleans Privateers and their new head coach, Joe Pasternack
, slipped by North Carolina State 65-63
... in the best possible way, too, with a T.J. Worley three-pointer as time expired.
An encouraging result for Davidson, who will play the Wolfpack on that same floor on Dec. 21. In neutral-court action, Winthrop beat Georgia Tech by six
in Puerto Rico. It was a "total team effort,"
and karaoke was involved. Great to see the Eagles aren't intending to lie down this season after a mass migration of seniors and coaches.
If you like to see Conference USA get its due, this was a great Saturday for you. Centenary had four in double-figures and shot 61 percent on Saturday in a 93-76
horse-whippin' of the SMU Mustangs. At 3-0, Robert Parish's alma mater is now nearly a third of the way to its 2006-07 win total of 10. At the Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona, Georgia Southern beat UAB
and high-salaried coach Mike Davis by a basket, 59-57
. Finally, in one of those upsets that's only an upset when you match athletic budgets, Liberty ($12 mil) beat East Carolina ($21 mil) 55-53
So, to recap, ACC and C-USA bad... Big South, Sun Belt and SoCon good. Mantra that. Cleveland State.
A third ACC team to go down this weekend was Florida State, which fell to the upstart Vikings out of the Horizon League in a 69-66
thriller-chiller. And, as coach Gary Waters would mention, they got paid too.
Cedric Jackson, who sat out last year after transferring from Saint John's, had 27 points on 9-for-14 shooting. Jackson's averaging 20.6 per ballgame (contributing nearly five assists and three steals a game as well) for a 3-2 team that's lost by a combined 11 to George Mason and UAB-killers Georgia Southern -- not bad considering this has been a program that's regularly been good for 20 losses for much of recent memory. This Horizon race, I'm telling you... who in there's going to be bad? Detroit and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The Boubacar allows me to speak to myself in public. What can't it do? Tough month for UDM and UWM, as both battled discipline issues with high-scoring guards. Brandon Cotton, the Horizon's third-leading scorer a year ago at 18.1 ppg, won't be playing for the team anymore after leaving the program
post-suspension, following the coach-boot
of Panthers leading scorer Avery Smith. Team rules: they're important, don't violate them. Both teams lost their most recent games, we'll see if these two programs can figure themselves out before January so they can keep up with the Butlers, Valpos and Green Bays in league play. Upsets in general.
Yessir, we keep track. If we define "college basketball upset" as a school from the lower leagues defeating a school from one of the eight "money conferences" (Big Six + C-USA and MWC), Gonzaga results removed, we are trending slightly upward but flat from last season. Through games of November 18, 2007-08 narrowly leads 2006-07 by a count of 24-23
A brief moment of silence for what could have been on Sunday. The NEC's Robert Morris was hanging in there with Seton Hall until falling 111-107 in overtime. Bucknell, your RPI No. 2 team and a distant second in the Patriot League hype index, lost by six to Villanova, by far the slimmest margin of defeat in their 2-for-1 series with the Big East's Wildcats. And while VCU opened their stay in Puerto Rico with a one-point mini-upset of the C-USA's Houston Cougars, the rest of the weekend didn't go so well. On Sunday, the Ram press couldn't publish a win over Arkansas, eventually falling 70-60. 25-point halftime advantages.
Since no lead is safe, what can we believe in anymore? Temple led the College of Charleston by a quarter-cent at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Friday. But Bobby Cremins' young and fast Cougars caught the Owls with just a few minutes to go, creating a GameFlo that looks like a DNA strand
. Ken Pomeroy is all over this one
at Basketball Prospectus.
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