College hoops: Texas bites the dust, Kentucky next victim?

Jan 26, 2010 5:09 PM

College Notebook by Micah Roberts | 

What a tough week it was for previously ranked No. 1 Texas as they fell on the road twice, losing at Kansas State and at Connecticut.

And just when Kansas State was feeling good about themselves and reading all the accolades about them knocking off the Long Horns, they go and lose at home as a 9.5-point favorite to Oklahoma State.

Clemson and Pittsburgh were moving up entering last week, but each lost twice which caused them to slide down in the rankings.

Sliding completely out of the rankings is last year’s champions, North Carolina (12-7), who is now in danger of NIT-land.

West Coast basketball continues to prove all the East Coast cynics right. Gonzaga and BYU are the only ranked Western teams and we still don’t have a Pac-10 team willing to step up and show that the conference really isn’t as bad as not having a ranked team would indicate. Okay, maybe they really are that bad, but so far, it looks like Cal (13-6) is trying to become that leader of the Pac.

No. 14 Temple (17-3) is shining in Atlantic-10 play with a 5-0 conference record. Northern Iowa (17-2) got themselves into the rankings last week but lost to Wichita State (17-4), who is second in the Missouri Valley Conference to Northern Iowa.

Michigan State (17-3) will move up a spot this week and still remain unbeaten in Big-10 play at 7-0 while Purdue (16-3) finally got off their losing streak and won twice last week.

Player of the Year honors thus far have to go to freshman guard John Wall for what he’s done at Kentucky. He’s been given the reigns to the squad and has responded by averaging 17 points and 7 assists per game.

Kentucky Back on Top

Undefeated Kentucky is the new number one team in the nation, the first time they have been number one since 2003; but just how good are they? Have they really been tested yet and will they be tested before the tournament starts?

Their big wins on the season have been against North Carolina (11th in ACC) and Louisville (8th in Big East), who have been exposed for being less than normal selves.

The Wildcats haven’t played anyone this season who was leading their conference. Sam Houston St. and Morehead St. were the closest, sitting second in their respective conferences.

SEC conference play has started, but let’s make no mistake here, the SEC isn’t a power in hoops like they are football. So far they’ve played four SEC teams whose league record is 6-12.

The most likely upset of the Wildcats doesn’t come until Feb. 27 at Tennessee or possibly earlier, Feb. 16, at Mississippi State. Other than that, it looks like smooth sailing in SEC play.

There is no doubt this team is very good and might turn out to be the best when it’s all said and done, but they haven’t played a real good team yet, compared to what those Big East teams have to go through every night. This kind of talk is nothing new for Coach John Calipari who seems to get his teams to feed off of the questions.

Calipari instills a confidence in his team and has them strangle teams before they can even get into the flow of the game. The way his kids are playing right now is reminiscent of his Memphis squad two years ago that went undefeated much of the year, then lost in a thriller to Kansas in the title game.

More Calipari

Coach Calipari gets a well deserved rap for his shady dealings in the recruiting wars. Let’s face it, how many coaches can say they’ve had two final four banners taken off two different school rafters for severe NCAA violations.

But what he did in the wake of the Haiti tragedy deserves applause. Before everyone else began setting up relief fund raisers, Calipari set up his own and raised $1.2 million with the help of several Kentucky boosters.

One of the items auctioned off was a dinner for six at Calipari’s house for $98,000. A special guest at the dinner will be Kentucky super-fan Ashley Judd.

The way he reacted so quickly and jumped at the opportunity to help those in need raised him a notch in several critics eyes around the country.

Games of the Week
Saturday, Jan.30, 2010

No. 7 Duke (16-3) at No. 11 Georgetown (15-3) 10 am (PT) TV-CBS: The Hoyas have been mowing the Big East competition down thus far going 6-2 in conference play while Duke has lost three of their four road games this season. Look for Duke’s road woes to continue.

Harvard (13-3) at Cornell (16-3) 4 pm (PT) TV-None: This is the Ivy league game of the year. Both teams have been battle tested in non-conference play against top notch programs. Cornell lost two of their three games at Syracuse and a late tough loss at Kansas. Harvard lost two of their three games at Connecticut and Georgetown. Look for Cornell to win in a close one.

No. 2 Kansas (18-1) at No. 8 Kansas State (16-3)4 pm (PT) TV-ESPN: The Sunflower Showdown has been circled on the calendar for the folks in Manhattan since the schedule came out. Kansas holds an all-time edge 177-90 in the rivalry that dates back to 1907. K-State got a wake up call last week losing at home to Oklahoma State and should be primed for the upset this week.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Micah Roberts