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Sully's Court

Posted by Joe Sullivan, Globe Staff  January 5, 2009 12:52 PM

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Random college basketball thoughts:

To dream the impossible dream: BC's collection of mismatched but fascinating players came together in amazing fashion Sunday night. As a group, they can be quite good or how else do they upset seemingly unbeatable North Carolina? There's no question the Eagles raised their level of play on this one day, and it was a tremendous effort, but the question is how long can they sustain it? We'll have to wait and see.

Maybe it's real: Clemson always seems to win in December and then lose in February but the Tigers looked tremendous in blowing out South Carolina in Columbia last Tuesday night. Big, strong, rugged up front; quick and deep with good outside shooting in the backcourt; and exuding self-confidence, the Tigers (14-0) look like they might give North Carolina, Duke, and Wake Forest something to think about in the ACC.

Maybe it's real 2: Michigan has won 11 games, one more than it did all of last season. I was surprised they didn't put up a better fight against Wisconsin on New Year's Eve, however.

Staying seated: Loyola of Maryland lost at Duke, 92-51, and, as far as we know, wandering Jimmy Patsos, Loyola's coach, did not join the Cameron Crazies in the stands.

Up to the rafters:
Santa Clara retired Kurt Rambis's jersey (No. 34) last Monday night. Hard to believe based on his NBA career but Rambis is the school's all-time leading scorer. If you're wondering, Steve Nash's jersey is already retired.

Barbee feels violated:

Meanwhile, the next night Santa Clara beat UTEP in overtime to win the championship of the Cable Car Classic but Tony Barbee, UTEP coach and former UMass star, felt one was stolen from him and his team.

Dominant: Villanova won Philadelphia's Big Five championship again by beating Temple last week. The Wildcats (12-1 overall) have won 18 of their last 19 Big Five games.

More dominant: Davidson has won 33 straight games in the Southern Conference. The Wildcats' last loss was to Appalachian State in January 2007.

Not worth the trip: Poor Dartmouth didn't have to travel this far to get crushed but the Big Green actually played at the University of California Davis and lost, 72-41.

Volunteering to play: Last week we admired Texas' schedule. Tennessee gets a lot of respect too. The Vols lost at Kansas Saturday and have now played Georgetown, Gonzaga, and Marquette on neutral floors and Temple in Philly.

Under the radar: Providence is quietly 10-3 after beating DePaul Saturday. The Friars have recovered from their opening-night shock when the lost to Northeastern. Their other losses are to Saint Mary's and Boston College.

Sometimes I wish I had four eyes: The Chargers-Colts was a great football game Saturday night but during timeouts I kept flipping to another great game, Wake Forest at Brigham Young. Finally, I watched the final four minutes of the basketball game as Wake broke BYU's 53-game home-court winning streak, the longest in the nation. The Deacons are tough and Jeff Teague had 30 points. Obviously, these are two quality NCAA teams. After the game, Teague said this was the toughest atmosphere he had ever played in. BYU's Marriott Center is a huge arena, and a crowd of 23,096, the second-largest in the building's history, showed up. Notre Dame now has the longest home-court winning streak at 43 with Georgetown visiting tonight. Wake is 13-0, BYU 11-2. If you're wondering why I wasn't recording the game it's because I was already recording the Missouri Valley showdown between Creighton and Illinois State.

Without Wink: Sully's Court loves UNLV's Wink Adams, but he didn't play because of an injury when the Rebels met Louisville at Freedom Hall on New Year's Eve. The Rebels still won, 56-55. After beating New Mexico Saturday night (Wink returned but didn't play well, going 0 for 6 from the field) the Rebels are a sneaky 13-2 with eight straight wins.

Changing Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee beat South Alabama in Mobile and is 3-0 in the league. The Blue Raiders have won five straight. Western Kentucky is also 3-0.

Unchanged: Michigan State put Northwestern in its place Saturday night although the Wildcats made it close for a half.
Michigan State has won seven in a row and is 11-2.

Surprising results, amazing margins:
Washington 68, Washington State 48:
This rivalry game is supposed to be close. Washington had lost seven straight in the series. Washington has won eight in a row, is 10-3, and its leading scorer was Isaiah Thomas. I thought he was out of eligibility.
FDU 72, Quinnipiac 68: FDU, traditionally a Northeast Conference contender, has been horrible this season. This is a bad loss for Quinnipiac.
Illinois State 80, Evansville 50: Evansville is one of the surprise teams of the year. This loss, in Normal, Ill., was a worse defeat than the Purple Aces suffered in Chapel Hill where they lost to North Carolina, 91-73.
Illinois State 86, Creighton 64: Something abnormal may be going on in Normal as the undefeated Red Birds vaporized their main competition
in the Missouri Valley.

Five rising:
Led by ultra-quick Courtney Fortson (with his reggae-style dreadlocks), the Razorbacks are 11-1 and beat Oklahoma.
Buffalo: The Bison won the Rainbow Classic. The tournament has fallen in stature and it might have been the worse field ever but it's a great accomplishment for Buffalo to win an eight-team tournament.
Cal: The Bears are 13-2 after beating Arizona State Sunday.
Marquette: The Fightin' McGuires are 2-0 in the Big East for the first time with nice home victories over Villanova and Cincinnati. You can't forget that the McGuires have three excellent guards in Dominic James, Wesley Matthews, and Jerel McNeal.
Loyola Marymount: Finally, after 15 losses to open the season, the Lions beat Cal State Bakersfield Sunday.

Five falling:
George Washington:
The Colonials went to Hawaii for the Rainbow Classic with a 6-2 record, lost three straight to finish last, then come back home and lose to Longwood (it was a road game).
Gonzaga: The Zags continue to be humbled, losing at Utah by 1.
Saint Joseph's: The Hawks were supposed to be contenders in the Atlantic 10 but last week blew an 18-point lead in the second half and lost to Siena by 1 and then got manhandled by Drexel on the boards and lost, 64-52. Both games were at the Palestra.
Santa Clara: The Broncos came all the way across the county to lose to Harvard and New Hampshire. Bad trip, man. I'm sure Santa Clara fans were counting on two Ws.
Yale: The Elis are 2-9 after losing to Bryant, playing its first year in Division 1. A win over MIT Saturday doesn't change things.

This week's George Mason (best mid-major): Butler, which rallied to be Valpo on the road.

This week's Final Four: North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, Clemson. Pittsburgh looked tremendous beating Georgetown on Saturday with unselfish offense and smothering defense. The Panthers' bulky center, DeJuan Blair, is a definite first-team All-Sully.

This week's national champion: North Carolina. The BC loss can be forgiven but the Tar Heels need to play better. Pittsburgh is playing like a team on a mission.

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