I've lived all over the country: the West Coast, the East Coast, the South, the Northeast, the Midwest a few times (including my stint in Ann Arbor), so I know about that of which I speak. I've been in Boston for the last 4 years, which has a climate similar to Ann Arbor.
I used to complain about the winters, but not any more. The cold is really not that bad. Get a good coat with a hood. Dress in layers. Get some boots. For lack of a better phrase, be a man about it.
The cold is at most a minor inconvenience when you consider all the upsides of living in the North. Though it's a clique, the change of seasons IS spectacular. There is a rhythm to the dying leaves and then barren trees and then splashes of green returning with spring. Maybe even better than that is the snow. The snow this year has had an other-worldly beauty to it. At night, it sparkles from the street lights as you walk by. I can think of no more peaceful setting than walking through snowflakes quietly drifting down.
I'm sure SEC coaches talk about how miserable the cold can be in the Big Ten. I'm sure Pete Carroll talks about the fun and sun in So Cal. And maybe cruising "the strip" in Gainesville in the middle February is what you seek. But I for one chose Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan. I chose the Law Quad in the fall and a jog through the Arb on a crisp winter morning. And I'm better for it.
Bored while waiting for an 18-year-old to decide your level of happiness for the next four years?
Here's a list I compiled of the best (in my opinion) player to wear each jersey number, 1-99, for Michigan, from 1929 to the present.
If you're wondering why guys like Germany Shultz, Al Benbrook or Willie Heston from the Yost years aren't on there, that's they didn't wear numbers back then. When they did start wearing numbers, however, they switched them around almost willy-nilly. I'd love to have Ernie Vick (19, 8, 2, 14, ...) or Harry Kipke (1, 4, 6, 14, 18, or no number at all) on my list, but they wore too many numbers to associate them with one or another. Therefore, I made my cut-off at 1929, when Kipke became the head coach, and made numbers (relatively) permanent.
Also, a player can only have one number they are associated with (even if Braylon Edwards was the best player to ever wear 80, he's up against the No. 1's)
All-time best Michigan man at each number.
1. Braylon Edwards, WR (over Carter, Terrell, Alexander)
2. Charles Woodson, CB
3. Tripp Welborne, CB (over Marlin)
4. EDIT: Jim Harbaugh, QB (over Marquise Walker)
5. Gordon Bell, HB
6. Tyrone Wheatley, HB (over Dave Brown)
7. Chad Henne, QB (over Leach & Henson)
8. Jason Avant, WR
9. EDIT: Dennis Franklin, QB
10. Tom Brady, QB
11. Alvin Wistert, OL/DT (over Albert and Francis Wistert)
12. Ricky Powers, HB
13. Garland Rivers, CB (over Larry Stevens)
14. Brian Griese, QB
15. Elvis Grbac, QB (over Breaston)
16. Adrian Arrington, WR
17. Ted Petoskey, End (over Larry Foote)
18. Bump Elliot, HB (over Amani Toomer)
19. Robert Brown, C/DT (this is a big number for kickers)
20. Mike Hart, HB
21. Desmond Howard, WR (over Biakabutuka)
22. Ty Law, CB
23. Jamie Morris, HB (you try picking btw JM and CP!!!)
24. Butch Woolfolk, HB (over Jack Clancy)
25. Tom Curtis, S (over Shazor)
26. EDIT: David Key, HB/DB
27. Bennie Friedman, QB (over Charles Bernard. Who remembers Stephen King?)
28. Robert Timberlake, QB
29. Leon Hall, CB
30. Andre Weathers, CB
31. Stuart Harris, S
32. Anthony Thomas, HB
33. Leroy Hoard, FB (over Mike Taylor)
34. Tony Leoni, HB (not Brabbs?)
35. B.J. Askew, FB
36. Aaron Shea, TE
37. Erick Anderson, LB (Can you pick btw him and Jarrett Irons?)
38. Robert Wiese, FB (met this guy on the plane once)
39. Adam Finley, P
40. Ron Johnson, LB (over Ron Simpkins)
41. Zoltan Mesko, P (over Rob Lytle)
42. Billy Taylor, RB/FB (over Tony Boles, Lawrence Reid)
43. Jim Pace, RB/FB (over Carl Diggs)
44. John Lott, DB
45. Dave Harris, LB (over Bill Daley)
46. Harry Newman, QB
47. Bennie Oosterbaan, End
48. Gerald Ford, C
49. Bob Chappuis, HB (over Ed Frutig)
50. Otto Pommerening, OL
51. Steve Everitt, C
52. Rod Payne, C
53. Mel Owens, LB
54. Mo Williams, OL
55. Brandon Graham, DE
56. LaMarr Woodley, DE
57. Maynard Morrison, FB/C (over Dave Pearson)
58. Rob Renes, DT
59. George Lilja, C
60. Mark Messner, DT (over Danahue)
61. Turner Booth, LS (Michael Sullivan, Willis Ward)
62. Quentin Sickels, OL
63. Les Miles, OL
64. Clare Jack Wheeler, QB
65. Reggie McKenzie, OL
66. Mike Hammerstein, DT
67. Mervin Pregulman, OL
68. Joe Cocozzo, OL
69. Jon Runyan, OL (over Forest Evashevski Sr.?)
70. Marty Huff, LB
71. Dave Gallagher, DT/OL
72. Dan Dierdorf, OL (over Jumbo Elliott, Robert Wahl)
73. Bill Dufek, OL
74. Mike Husar, OL
75. William Yearby, OL (over Bubba Paris, Skrepenak, Baas)
76. Steve Hutchinson, OL (over Stefan Humphries)
77. Jake Long, OL (over Jansen)
78. Dean Dingman, OL
79. Jeff Backus, OL
80. Alan Branch, DT
81. Glen Steele, DE
82. Norm Betts, TE
83. Bennie Joppru, TE
84. Shawn Thompson, TE
85. Lowell Perry, End (over Paul Seymour)
86. Tai Streets, WR (over Bob Westfall)
87. Ron Kramer, End
88. Jim Mandich, TE
89. Richard Rifenberg, End
90. Tim Jamison, DE
91. Matt Dyson, LB (over Josh Williams)
92. Steve Evans, LB (what, you prefer Dan Rumishek?)
93. Sam Sword, LB
94. Jason Horn, DT
95. Curtis Greer, DT
96. Calvin O'Neal, LB
97. Chris Hutchinson, DT
98. Tom Harmon, HB
99. Pierre Woods, LB
*Thanks to the Bentley Library for their searchable database.
Notice only two players are from last year's team. But I have high hopes that some of the younger guys can end up on this list eventually. For some of them, it wouldn't require so much improvement as a switch to a generally bad number.
Now make me a liar. I'm sure I'm wrong on several of these.
MichFan1997's recent Facebook conversation with Ricardo Miller has rekindled the shouldn't-be-but-is awkward topic of how much access to high school athletes is necessary, appropriate, and/or healthy.
For the record, I am a 21-year-old junior at the University of Michigan; I am Facebook friends with many members of the football team, including William Campbell and Tate Forcier, who only recently arrived on campus. However, I have never made any attempt to communicate with them except Andre Criswell, who often asks his "friends" to guess his current weight. I have never posted on anyone's wall or added an optional "personal message" when I friend request them. I simply hit the friend request button and wait for a confirmation.
But isn't that counterintuitive? Am I not requesting this man's friendship because I want to be his friend? Because I want him to acknowledge me?
At the present apex of online activity and access, I would actually contend that such is not the case. I don't particularly care what Bryant Nowicki is up to or what kind of music Dann O'Neill likes. Adding a football player as a Facebook friend is simply the current generation's trading card. There is nothing in the friend request transaction that belies sincerity; the athlete in question never has to look at my name again and most likely never will. He simply hits "accept" and I get the satisfaction of listing Johnny Sears, Jr. as one of my "friends." That's where it ends. Or at least should end.
But unfortunately, it doesn't end there, because high schoolers with no obligations or commitments to a university also have Facebook accounts, and it is in these situations that the creepiness escalates.
In the comments section of the Ricardo Miller diary entry, chitownblue said:
"Every time I hear about an (adult?) fan having facebook and myspace conversations with 17-year-old kids, I get completely and utterly skeeved out, and worried for these kids. Not because you're a rapist (you're probably not), but because these kids naively let hundreds of people gain access to their lives, and the second they decommit, or drop a pass, or get arrested with weed, or anything, they have hundreds of strangers whom they've 'disappointed' with access to give them a piece of their mind."
This is a legitimate concern; I looked through the "previous posts" on William Campbell's wall and found these comments, dated December 29th, 2008--the height of his decommitment.
"Wow, bro...All I gotta say is what ever happened to loyalty?? UR not a true Michigan man, get the hell out and stay out!!!!"
-Brandon Coot Kusz of Kalamazoo Valley Community College (a true Michigan man if there ever was one)
Obviously that kind of message is despicable and Mr. Coot Kusz is an irredeemable pile of shit, but, as rude as that post was, I found the resultant comments way "creepier."
"Dude, Brandon. STFU, Big Will hasn't even made his mind up yet. Dude, Coot get a life."
"Dude So What. He shouldn't be bitched at for changing his mind."
"hey brandon get a fucking life you fucking loser"
"it unreal that u guys make these comment on here. its reall uncalled for i mean im crushed too that he prolly wont be donning the maize and blue, which by the way u would look really good in big will, but i mean hes still just a kid. tone it down with all the criticizum. Hey Big Will if u change ur mind Michigans here. Youd start right away ya no" (spelling unchanged)
Keep in mind that all of these comments were posted on William Campbell's wall, not Mr. Coot Kusz's. Campbell's "defenders" didn't want Campbell to feel better, and they didn't really care if Mr. Coot Kusz regretted his asshole comment. They believed that Kusz's comment cost Michigan ten Recruit Points and they wanted the glory of restoring them. "Gosh," Campbell said in their minds, "that Kusz guy is a total dick who makes me want to eschew Michigan for LSU, but thanks to Jordan and Dylan's reaffirming pep talks, my faith in the Wolverines is restored to an amount identical to the moment immediately preceding Kusz's comment."
These are the creepers. Anyone who friends a high school football or basketball player is doing so with the warped and fictional assumption that he can actually recruit the kid simply with the power of the internet. These are the same people who start groups like "Bring Jelani Jenkins to Michigan" and actually accrue enormous memberships.
Facebook friendships with enrolled college football players is not inherently creepy because there is no recruiting fantasy involved. They're already there; there's nothing to sell.
Recently, David Oku had this to say about recruiting:
"Everyone is trying to get me to pick already, but I'm not ready," Oku said. "All these coaches are making it worse by calling and trying to talk when I don't want to. This is a lot of pressure to put on one kid, and it doesn't help that I've got some family stuff going on, too."
"I'm not taking any calls," he said. "I just want the coaches to give me some space. Too much is going on for me right now."
"I'm not committed to anyone anymore," he said.
"I don't have any plans to sign on Wednesday. I don't know when a decision will be made. I just need some space and some time to think and sort things out. Hopefully the coaches will respect that and understand how difficult this has become for me."
These kids have people clawing at them - calling, texting, e-mailing, facebooking, "chatting" before they've done a thing - I've never seen someone talk seriously about the toll it can take on a young kid who has lots of other things to worry about.
Maybe, before we start becoming facebook friends with people 5-15 years younger than us, we could step back and realize that these are not mature adults we're dealing with - and they're making the biggest decision of their lives to that point - one not based on our own entertainment.
Good afternoon. How are you feeling? I know that your weekend was exciting, what with McDonald's special 50 pack McNugget special running for three days you must have lived like a KING. I hope your tummy feels fine and, may I say, you do look a little slimmer. Are you wearing vertical stripes? You devil!
Anyways, I just want to commend you on your amazing job at Notre Dame. As a Michigan fan, I should probably not be writing you, what with our coach's ability to produce the same season as you did in 2006 but, you know what, I just drank a Red Bull in my room at the Holiday Inn Express so it's either Extreme Sports or write you. I digress.
You have Jimmy Clausen, a player that Rivals claims is the best pro-style quarterback in the past five recruiting classes, and somehow made him look not just like an Emu but an Emu who shit himself. You somehow didn't get Brady Quinn killed in your first year at Notre Dame so if I were Clausen, I would know that the countdown has to be getting close before the pocket collapses around me and I find myself shanked by a guy named Bubba. It's been incredibly amusing to watch Clausen come on the field as a freshman, young and full of pep and then see him now. He is so terrified of the predicament you place him into almost every down that if he could have the ball hiked to him next to the sideline, he would. He made Michigan's historically awful defense look decent last year. It took MICHIGAN to put a cocky swagger into his gait. I'm shocked he didn't go pro just to go undrafted and escape you. Btw congrats on that big Hawaii win. It's a shame you didn't get to play against Colt Brennan... you know, the kid who'd been in jail and that you could improve your team with if only you recruited hoodlums and thugs... oh well. Let's sum it up this way: you somehow are able to make Clausen look MORE like an idiot on the field than he does off.
I think that's the issue: you fail to acknowledge your own failure so the rest of the world feeds off of it. See, with your losses to military schools so rampant, players are beginning to play Battleship more. They're slimming down, eating salad and watching you go to the buffet more. You see, Charlie, you're self-destructing. You walk into schools and show off your rings and expect people to come to you. You expect your legend to be big and impressive enough that you don't have to get into the trenches and earn your way. And people are hearing more about it. How else can you explain the fact Notre Dame has the 23rd best recruiting class in the nation? Parents DREAM of sending their kids to Notre Dame. For God's sake (literally) you have JESUS in an ENDZONE. Your helmets are GOLD.
But, see, you don't really care about the land of Rockne and Rudy... The Four Horsemen and green jerseys. You must have looked at Lou Holtz and laughed an inch off of your waist thinking how easy it must be to do what he did. Your class was #2 in the nation in 2008. #2! Perhaps it helped your team went 3-9 the year before and recruits saw an opportunity to impact (a la Michigan). But to slip 20 spots Charlie? Something changed.
It wasn't just that you went 3-9 in 2007, when you had four players on pre-season watch lists for six national awards. It was that you refused to acknowledge it as a rebuilding year. You drove off your starting quarterback and buried Sharpley. You refused to even accept the horror that was. At least Rodriguez was frank about it. You just seemed to act like it wasn't happening. It almost came off as... arrogant.
And I think it's that people began to see that as long as you were at Notre Dame, the school would be in the background. You're a big figure and you're proud of it but it seems the organization and institution can't be seen around you. You got negative and got caught saying some ridiculous stuff about Michigan and thugs and tactical advantages. The Patriots got caught videotaping in a manner that was widely scrutinized but overlooked while you were at New England. You sued your doctors over a stomach staple surgery that, honestly, nobody can believe you even had and that got thrown out rather embarassingly. You barely scraped yourself to a bowl game that you, loudly, declared you deserved over anyone else. You ripped on other coaches in the country to recruit when, in fact, all people had to do to show maybe ND wasn't a good idea is point at the headlines. Tell us Charlie: how much did your schematic advantage come from video cameras? You search Google for 'charlie weis recruiting' - this is what you get:
Charlie Weis thinks recruiting is nasty
Charlie Weis alienates Irish supporters
Weis denies accusations of negative recruiting
Notre Dame's Charlie Weis, the worst football coach in the universe
Charlie Weis wrong face to represent Notre Dame
Google returns 10 results on the first page. Ignoring your YouTube video, an article about you barely keeping your job, a speculative article written in November about the ND class looking good (fyi, it's not), an article cautioning people from encouraging your firing and an article flat out saying the recruiting class could save your job is all there is. One encouraging article and another that says if you do well, which it looks like you didn't, you might keep your job.
Let's ignore the article about you decrying the recruiting process that you're supposed to act like you like a la "OHMYGOD MRS. JOHNSON THESE ARE THE BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES EVER, YOUR SON SHOULD BRING THEM WITH HIM TO NOTRE DAME" and dive into the negative recruiting article. You're infamous for walking into high schools and plunking your rings down without a word, even going so far as to ask people if they want to see them. But when you have Clemson of all schools pointing out that their recruit had you ripping on their education, noting your school's television exposure and being the only school who ignored his commitment, it looks bad. Almost like you look down on anyone that's not you or your school. Which is true.
In the end, Charlie, your time is wrapping up at Notre Dame. Hell you might beat Michigan again this year but odds are it won't save your job. Because people in South Bend do care about their institution. They do care about its legend and place in the lore of college football and elsewhere. And the fact is, Charles, your shadow is too big for such a place. As a Michigan fan even I can say it: Notre Dame deserves better.
Notre Dame Recruiting Class By Year (per Rivals)
2009: #23 (subject to change)
Who exactly is Shawn Siegel? And, more importantly, why do I have a man crush on him today? No, recruiting junkies, he’s not some OMG Shirtless Recruit with a reputation of busting skulls from the linebacker position who’s about the commit to Michigan (I wish).
Rather, Siegel is the proprietor and editor of the comprehensive website collegehoopsnet.com. It’s a quirky site devoted to college basketball. I say quirky because often I can’t find the exact information I’m looking for when I check into the site, but I never fail to find other nuggets and links that keeps me occupied during my college hoops research.
My adoration from him today stems from the fact that in his latest stab at a mock bracket he still has the Michigan Wolverines in his field, albeit hanging by a string as a 12 seed and one of the last teams to make his final cut. Shawn Siegel, the Michigan community salutes you.
Remarkably, Siegel is not alone in including the Wolverines, losers of five of six games and seemingly hanging on to a bid by a razor thin margin the whole second half of January. Rainmaker (who runs this blog, Pac Man Jones or Reid Baker? Discuss) joins Siegel in placing Michigan along the 12 line. Another mock bracket site still has Michigan as high as an 11 seed, actually moving the Wolverines up in the field despite their 0-2 week. He also has eight Big 10 teams in the field. Clearly, he’s Jim Delaney’s nephew.
Alas, these folks are in the minority. Michigan has fallen out of most everybody’s brackets, including luminaries in the bracketology field such as ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and the Bracket Junkie. A quick perusal of the obsessive bracket matrix reveals that Michigan is on the outside looking in right now, but remains in striking range as one the final teams cut from most fields.
Here’s the math that I see Michigan up against. There are 19 at large bids out there that I feel are secure right now. Barring a collapse of epic proportions these teams will find themselves seeded come Selection Sunday. That leaves 15 at large bids left to be doled out. Depending on how inclusive you want to be, anywhere from 35 to 40 teams are among the group battling it out for those bids. The good news is Michigan has an excellent out of conference resume to fall back on and has plenty of conference showdowns—mostly at home—that will allow them nail some high end scalps to the wall and impress the Selection Committee. That bad news is, well, have you seen the team play recently? That’s the bad news and there’s doubt the team will have the chops to rebound and close strong.
Here’s a quick thumbnail sketch of events away from Ann Arbor that are impacting the current form of the brackets and the tournament bubble:
INVITE PENN SCHTAAAATE
After snaring perhaps its biggest win of the decade, Penn State fans are wondering if their proverbial black shoes are shined up and ready to dance. Their upset of Michigan State in East Lansing as 12.5-point underdogs is arguably the most impressive league win in the entire conference. What’s not arguable is the immediate impact of that victory: the Nittany Lions appearance, in almost across-the-board fashion, in the mock brackets. In many cases, the mocks just subbed one Big 10 team for another as PSU became one of the final four teams into the field, while, sigh, Michigan fell into the final four to eight out category.
Normally watching a conference brethren pass you by is bad news, but Penn St’s surge could not have been timed better for Michigan. Conveniently, guess who’s coming to Ann Arbor on Thursday night? That’s right; the Penn St-Michigan game this week looms as perhaps the biggest bubble matchup of the week.
The Wolverines are trending downward, but they can regain a does of credibility by beating this week’s mock bracket darling. A win will re-establish Michigan as the sixth Big 10 team ahead of PSU and Northwestern. They’ll have earned a split with the Lions. While PSU will still have a better league mark, Michigan’s out of conference resume, with wins over UCLA, Duke and Northeastern of the CAA dwarfs Penn St’s, which is devoid of any legit scalp, but marred by a pair of shaky home losses to Rhode Island and Temple. If Michigan wins Thursday and puts together a decent showing on the road against top ranked Uconn on Saturday, I’d like to hear the arguments for keeping PSU in the field over Michigan.
Elsewhere in the Big 10, Northwestern is also on the uptick. They are appearing in more than a handful of lists as a final team cut from the field.. This too is good news for Michigan. Who would have thought wins over Northwestern and Penn St would be resume builders. For that matter, who would have thought that wins over Michigan would be as well?
On the other end of the spectrum are the reeling Wisconsin Badgers. Already plummeting on a six game losing streak, the Badgers have a pair of tough ones this week with Illinois on Thursday and PSU on Sunday. The Badgers appear no better than 9th right now in the Big 10 pecking order. Despite some strong computer numbers, the Badgers may needto win four of their next five games just to get in range of a bid. If they keep losing this week, they may have passed the point of no return. That could lead to an outcome where the final league bid comes down to UM, PSU and NW. As long as Michigan beats PSU this week and begins to collect more league wins, I’d take my chances with the Wolverine's resume in that scenario.
ACC Déjà Vu
How many bids did the esteemed ACC receive into the field last season? Believe or not, the answer is just four bids. That seems impossibly low for a league that, much like SEC football, is always considered—correctly or not—as the standard bearer of the sport. The league’s problem is that it’s so top heavy. It puts the league in a bind and may lead to the same fate this year on selection day as last year.
The league’s Big Four of UNC, Duke, Wake and Clemson are Final Four threats. After that, however, nothing is certain and anywhere from between 5 teams and none may be making a claim for a bid come March. There’s a quintet of teams—BC, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Miami and FSU—that are all jockeying for position behind the league heavyweights. Some combination of those five are in the mock brackets, with the ones in the field among the last included and those on the outside among the last excluded. These five clubs still play a combined 15 games against the league’s Big 4, not to mention several more head to head games against fellow bubble dwellers.
Some slates look too daunting to even consider a bid. Maryland, for example, has five games remaining with the Big 4, and their resume is currently plagued with a 1-3 record against fellow league bubble teams and a bad loss to Morgan State. Miami, a team already struggling and falling out of favor with the mocks, lines up against Wake, Duke and UNC in their next three games. The Canes are feeling the heat already, but their three-game losing streak could double. Virginia Tech, a team that always finds itself in close games, will have to find some wins in a closing stretch that includes two games against FSU and games with UNC, Duke and Clemson. The Seminoles, meanwhile, might have the hardest final month of them all with four games against the Big 4 and four more against their fellow bubble mates.
It’s hard to see more than two more bids coming out of that group. It’s easier to see at least a couple of them embark on protracted losing spells like the one Michigan is going through right now. If you set the number of bids coming from this group at 2.5, I would take the Under. Heck, make it 1.5, I still might throw down on the Under. I like to live dangerously. It’s what I am pulling for as less bids for the ACC could mean more for the Big 10.
In a week where most of the news centered on football recruiting and the in-season firing of two hoop coaches, the SEC actually made positive strides on the court and suddenly finds itself in contention for more bids.
For weeks, the SEC had been labeled the worst of the BCS leagues in terms of hoops and was in danger of getting as few as three bids into the dance. In a week that saw a breath of fresh air from Tennessee, saving the Vols season and South Carolina get a signature win in Lexington, causing a white wine binge, the SEC has raised its profile and suddenly looks like a good bet to nab five bids. Just about every mock has UK, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina and LSU all in their fields, with the Gamecocks and Tigers new entrants this week.
The teams are surging now and it might stay that way. The drop off after these five teams in so severe that it’s hard to conjure up a losing spell for any of those teams that would knock them out of people’s brackets. Programs like Alabama, Georgia, Auburn and Arkansas are such a mess, games against them look like automatic W’s right now. The SEC might be locked into those five bids. They could end up with the same amount of bids as the ACC when it’s all said and done. If so, who’s going to perform CPR on Vitale?
The big game this week is South Carolina at Florida. Its been fun watching South Carolina this winter, but fans of bubble teams need somebody to throw a bucket of cold water on the Gamecocks and at least begin to cast some doubt on their candidacy for a bid.
Big 12’s New Player
A new candidate emerged last week from the Big 12—the Kansas State Wildcats. Thanks to wins over seemingly certain tournament teams Missouri and Texas last week, folks in the Little Apple are thinking Big Dance. With the departures of Michael Beasley and Bill Walker to the NBA, KSU was supposed to regress this season. They’ve caught fire of late, riding the hot hand of JUCO transfer Dennis Clemente, who dropped 40 points on the Horns over the weekend.
The wins pulled them into a four way tie for fifth place in the league and the Wildcats are neck and neck with fellow Big 12 bubble mates, Baylor, Oklahoma St and Texas A/M. All four of those clubs, though, remain below .500 in league play with 3-4 records. KSU merits mention because with the wins last week, they’re the only club of the bunch on the upswing.
Baylor, who lost at home last night to KU, and Oklahoma St are slumping with the Bears losing four in a row, while the Cowboys have dropped four of five. The Aggies had lost four of five before nabbing a pair of wins last week, but they’re still on the wrong end of .500 in league play and play four of their next six away from College Station.
The dynamic between these teams is similar to the bubble outlook in the ACC. Depending on which bracket referenced, Baylor, OSU and TAMU are either hanging just in the bracket or hanging just outside of it. With none of these teams playing all that well, nor having a very impressive overall resume to hang its hat on, I’m beginning to buy into KSU as the league’s fifth best team as the latest Big 12 projections seem to suggest.
What I can’t buy into right now is more than one of Baylor, OSU and TAMU finishing up with winning league records. And, I am not nearly as optimistic as this Aggie booster, predicting an 8-2 close to the season and an easy tournament bid. I’ll take the Over on losses as the Aggies will be doing well to break even over the course of the rest of the season. I see five Big 12 teams qualifying for the tournament, and unless some programs turn it around in February, that may be the limit. Just don’t be shocked if the Purple from Manhattan are one of those squads.
Bracket Buster Letdown
The Northeastern Huskies continue to win just about every time out and sit alone atop the Colonial Athletic Conference standings. Michigan’s 20-point win over NE—a team that beat bubble team Providence—continues to get better and better with each passing week. Northeastern is edging ever so close to the top 50 RPI and could get there if they keep up their winning ways in the CAA and bag a nice mid major scalp come Bracket Buster Day later this month.
Alas, the ESPN movers and shakers did not help this cause out at all, bypassing NE when selecting the day’s marquee games. Instead of tipping against one of the high RPI mid majors like Siena, Utah St or Northern Iowa, the Huskies drew Wright St, a team sitting at 102 in the RPI. The teams behind NE in the CAA standings, VCU and George Mason, arguably received better looking games. Michigan’s hopes of finding another top-50 win on their resume took a hit as nothing short of running the table will push NE into that range.
There was plenty of other news from the bubble to report, but I’ll save that for the weekend report and let some of the games play out this week. And, don’t worry even if Michigan falls out of NCAA contention, we can always begin to track these mock NIT brackets, where a possible second round game with San Diego St looms. Pay back is a bitch, Fish, a bitch, I tell you!