Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Say it Ain't 'Sota: The Conference Schedule is Here (Updated w/ Video!)

Just last Monday, Minnesota was ranked 14th (AP poll) in the country, with an 11-1 record. Then the Big Ten Conference schedule started. Loss at Wisconsin, loss at Michigan State. In this week's poll, the 11-3 Gophers aren't ranked. Ahh, welcome to conference play everyone. Granted, losing on the road to the Badgers and Spartans isn't anything to get too worked up about, but it is a reminder that this is the time questionable out of conference schedules get sniffed out. Luckily, Minnesota has a shot to get back on the winning track tonight against a rebuilding Indiana Hoosier team.

We don't have to leave the Big Ten to look at another team suffering from early Conference-itis. Northwestern, a team that has never made the NCAA tournament....ever, started this season 9-1. Two games into conference play, two losses (at #12 Purdue, #18 Michigan State). Again, nothing to be ashamed of, but at some point, you need to beat some good teams for your tournament resume.

Lavin's LA Looks in NYC (NY Daily News)
And with that, we head to the Big East. Don't look now (seriously, don't...because their upcoming schedule is brutal and I'm worried the curse of Daily Onions will take over), but St. John's is 3-0 in the Big East. Steve Lavin and his gel have the Johnnies playing good basketball with road victories at West Virginia and Providence, as well as an exciting 3-point win at the Garden last night against 13th ranked Georgetown (who is now 1-2 in the Big East, by the way). How exciting was it? Well, on one of the final plays of the game, Bill Raftery got so excited about a crossover he couldn't even complete his patented "lingerie on the deck" call. Instead it came out like this, "Oh my goodness.....Lingerie...!" As we mentioned on our Christmas List, we want St. John's to be important again, and they are definitely on their way (even if their next 7 games are against teams currently ranked in the Top 25...Lavin's gonna need some more hair gel to survive that stretch).

With conference play upon us, some teams will look for the quality wins to get them into the field of 68, while others will look to just survive, aka The Big East.  Currently with 7 teams in the top 25, the Big East tends to beat up each other during the regular season and the conference post-season tournament only to fizzle in the Big Dance. Last year, 8 teams from the Big East made the tourney and only 2 (Syracuse and WVU) made it to the Sweet 16. So for everyone that is giving 4th-ranked Syracuse a hard time for not playing a "true road game" yet this season, maybe Jimmy B knows what he is doing. After all, its much more fun to travel in March and early April then it is in November and December.

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