Mark Blaudschun tells me November basketball doesn't count. I guess he has a point, but then, they are keeping score, right?
Some other observations as play begins . . .
Not again!: Kentucky suffered a 111-103 loss to VMI Friday night. Ouch. Last year the Wildcats lost at home to Gardner-Webb. This is just as bad, although the Keydets have a fun strategy of trying to outscore every opponent. This time they did. I guess that manipulation of early-season practice rules didn't help Kentucky coach Billy Gillespie, did it? Virginia was able to handle VMI Sunday afternoon, 107-97.
Other bad losses: Utah losing to Southwest Baptist, which is located in Bolivar, Missouri. Barack Obama's victory did not rub off on his brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, who lost his debut as Oregon State coach to Howard, 47-45. At least it was a road game.
Hoop university: North Carolina played its first basketball game at the same time its football team was playing a crucial game at Maryland. I wonder what other BCS schools would allow a home basketball game to played at the same time as a football game? The Dean Dome had some empty seats.
Will the real . . . Rhode Island already has me confused. The Rams struggled to beat Brown, then give Duke all it can handle before losing.
Sleepless night: Keno Davis had an nightmare debut as Providence coach, losing to Northeastern. His old team Drake, lost to Butler. That would have been a great matchup last season.
A coach to remember: Ralph Willard showed he's still got it as he cajoled his Holy Cross team to an overtime victory over Saint Joseph's Sunday afternoon. He's got a smart team that responds to him and two freshman guards, R.J. Evans and Devin Brown, who are going to be very good players. The Crusaders could win the Patriot League after finishing in last place a year ago, mostly because of injuries.
Small observation: I think this is a little bit of an upset: Quinnipiac 63, Hartford 62.
Not Ram tough: Fordham was a very disappointing team last season. Now the Rams are starting over as evidenced by their 65-62 loss to Columbia.
The jury is out: Seeing will be believing for me concerning UConn's Haseem Thabeet, who was the college basketball preview cover boy for both Sports Illustrated and ESPN. Not sure what he's done to deserve that. He did tear up Western Carolina Friday night for 23 points and 17 rebounds. I'll wait until the competition has someone taller than 6-feet-5-inches.
Some good news: Good win for downtrodden Saint Bonaventure when the Bonnies beat Robert Morris Friday night. Coach Mark Schmidt beat his former team.
Regular season: The San Diego-UNLV game has a February feel to it. UNLV hung tough a 65-60 victory but San Diego was playing without three suspended players, most notably center Gyno Pomare. Very entertaining game.
This week's George Mason (best mid-major): Niagara. Coach Joe Mihalich has completely made over this team with transfers Rob Garrison (UConn) and Bilal Benn (Villanova). The key returnee is the amazing Tyrone Lewis, who is listed at 5-11 but can dunk and was credited with eight blocked shots in the Eagles opening victory against Towson.
This week's Final Four: North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Purdue, UCLA
This week's national champion: North Carolina
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell