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Welcome back to the Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog. Yes, we're still alive, and with the 2015-16 season rapidly approaching, it's time to fire up the old blog for another season. Check back here throughout the year for updates on all things Rider and Princeton, including coverage of both the MAAC and Ivy League. Feel free to drop me a line on twitter @kj_franko ( or email

Monday, January 28, 2008

Big Monday 30 pack

This week, I struggled more with the rankings than I have during any previous week. The teams at the very top were mostly impressive, but plenty of teams in the middle suffered bad losses. There are also more teams that jumped from unranked to fairly high spots this week. The most notable team in that category is Xavier, which beat Dayton and won at UMass, re-establishing itself as the premier team in the Atlantic 10.

There were some other teams that I wanted to penalize for poor performances, but didn't drop that much becasue the teams behind them in the rankings also faltered.
Another thing I struggled with is a point our pal Scott from Connecticut touched on in a comment last week: it's difficult to assess how good St. Mary's and Drake are.

I've taken this philosophy: if those teams get clipped in their conference tournaments, they're still both locks to make the NCAAs, and the records they've assembled in strong conferences warant a lot of respect in the rankings. That's why for the last two weeks, I've had both teams in higher spots than they've been in either the AP poll or the coaches' poll. The problem is this: unless these teams take their domination in their respective conferences a step further -- convincingly beating everyone on their schedule -- I don't think they deserve to continue to move up in the rankings.

For example, Drake's win last week at Creighton was nice, but if the Bulldogs were a top 10 team, they would have taken care of the Blue Jays more easily. With that in mind, I'm going to keep them in more or less the same place until they either lose or start distinguishing themselves more than they already have.

Quickly, we'll do a miniature one-question Q&A with Scott from Connecticut, who had an interesting question. The TCHB has gotten some comments and questions that are pretty far out there, but as always, we're happy to answer any legit questions.
Scott asked the following:

1) What has gotten into players like Hasheem Thabeet and Craig Austrie? Who do they think they are, Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon? Pretty good week for UConn beating Marquette at home and winning two tough games on the road at Cincy and Indiana. Here's a question for Mr. Doody. You had previously mentioned a win at Georgetown would guarantee UConn gets into the NCAA tournament barring not losing every other conference game. Does a win at Indiana guarantee that same thing, because both teams were ranked pretty close to each other? Big home games for UConn this week against Louisville and Pitt. What else does this team have to do to get into the top 25, beat Memphis? Nah, they probably would have to beat Kansas also.

2) Good job by Fairfield this past week, but a win vs. Niagara would have been huge. They beat St. Peters and Canisius, teams they should have beat and lost to a tough Niagara team, where the final score didn't indicate how close the game actually was. The league is really competitive this year with 5 teams above 7 wins, while any given night one team could beat anyone else(as we saw Canisius beat Niagara). Fairfield will be in this thing til the end. Is Tyrone Lewis really only a sophomore? It is going to be scary to see how good he is by the time he is a senior. He specializes in being ridiculous when playing at the Arena at Harbor Yard, where he was the 07 MAAC Tournament MVP.

Both good questions about hoops in Connecticut, although I certainly never said that UConn would be in the NCAAs if the Huskies beat Georgetown and didn't lose "every other conference game."

I did say, however, that a road win over the Hoyas would stand out to the NCAA selection committee, and I certainly think the same is true about the Huskies' win at Indiana. When the tournament committee lines up potential teams, one of the things they always look at is quality wins. UConn now has two wins that can be put in that category: at Indiana and at home against Marquette. Especially given the wide-open nature of the Big East, I don't think any team in the conference other than Georgetown is a lock to be playing meaningful March basketball. But if the season ended now, UConn would definitely be in. Tonight's game is critical, though.

Good teams can occasionally pull off upsets, but very good teams have to be able to win at home on a consistent basis. If they lose tonight, they'll have lost two out of three at home -- not exactly the mark of a team that's destined for the Sweet 16. I've got a desk shift tonight, but I DVRd the game and am looking forward to watching it when I get home.

As for Fairfield, I disagree with Scott's assessment that the Stags did a "good job." If they're going to assert themselves that has a chance to be a factor in the MAAC, they need to win games like the one they let slip away against Niagara at home. I still can't figure out exaclty what has gone wrong with that team. I thought after watching them win 10 of their last 14 games last year that with all the additional factors -- an extra year for Ed Cooley to adapt to MAAC basketball; an extra year for the players to adapt to Cooley's system; the maturation that young players should have shown -- they would have a serious chance to win a MAAC title. Right now, it doesn't look like their chances are very good.

Our pal "All-time Yankee great Ruben Siera" had an interesting question about the possibility of Fairfield eventually changing its conference affiliation, and we'll get into that some time soon.
First though, this week's TCHB rankings.

1. Memphis (1)
2. Kansas (2)
3. Duke (4)
4. UCLA (5)
5. North Carolina (6)
6. Tennessee (3)
7. Michigan State (8)
8. Washington State (7)
9. Texas (20)
10. Georgetown (10)
11. Indiana (9)
12. Drake (13)
13. Butler (17)
14. St. Mary’s (12)
15. Xavier (30)
16. Wisconsin (11)
17. Florida (NR)
18. Arizona (NR)
19. Vanderbilt (14)
20. UConn (26)
21. West Virginia (23)
22. Kansas State (NR)
23. Baylor (NR)
24. Stanford (NR)
25. Mississippi State (NR)
26. Pitt (17)
27. Gonzaga (24)
28. Louisville (21)
29. Marquette (27)
30.Dayton (18)


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