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Sully's Court: Road games may produce losses but also earn respect

Posted by Joe Sullivan, Globe Staff  December 9, 2013 10:04 AM

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On Friday, I talked about the unusual road games some bigger teams were playing and how much I liked it. It didn’t turn out well for the visitors. UCLA lost at Missouri, Clemson lost at Arkansas, Marquette lost at Wisconsin, Kansas lost at Colorado, Cincinnati lost at New Mexico, and Virginia lost at Green Bay. Heck, Dayton even lost at Illinois State.

Hopefully, the results won’t change the strategy. We need good teams playing road games against good opponents. As far as we know, the NCAA tournament selection committee respects that and that’s a good thing.

Five rising:

Boise State: The Broncos are 8-0, the best start in school history. It’s not exactly a storied tradition and they haven’t played anyone, but they did get an NCAA bid last season and obviously will be a factor again. The level of competition changes Tuesday when they travel to Lexington, Ky., to play Bingo Long and the Traveling All-Stars.

Colorado: The Buffs are going to be contenders in the Pac 12, as evidenced by their big home win over Kansas even if it did end on a heave at the buzzer where the shooter probably walked. They also beat Harvard at home, so it doesn’t look like many teams will be winning in Boulder. Their only loss was to Baylor in Dallas.

George Washington: The Colonials had a huge 77-75 victory over Maryland Sunday that counts a lot extra in the minds of Washington, D.C. basketball fans. That result was practically unthinkable before the season started. GW is 7-1 with the only loss coming against Marquette in the Wooden Legacy. Suddenly, they’re a factor in the Atlantic 10 and the NCAA at-large competition. Next up is BU at the Smith Center in Washington.

Missouri: Most MIzzou fans were paying attention to the SEC football championship, which ended badly for Tigers fans. Earlier Saturday the Missouri basketball team beat UCLA 80-71 and is now 9-0. It was an impressive comeback and victory. I believe the Tigers are rising, but they won’t play their first true road game until they travel to NC State on Dec. 28. Good scheduling. The team also played without head coach Frank Haith for five games because he was suspended for his actions with a booster at Miami.

Oklahoma: The Sooners are 8-1, with the only loss to Michigan State. Lon Kruger is a great coach and has won everywhere – Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV. Heck, he even won 20 games at Texas Pan American. This is his third season at Oklahoma and it looks like he’s going to make them a regular in the NCAA Tournament.

Five falling:

Bradley: What would Hersey Hawkins think? This once-proud program is not doing well. The Braves lost to IUPUI 72-66 in Peoria last week and followed that up with another loss at Milwaukee. At 5-4 against a weak out-of-conference schedule, things can only get worse in the Missouri Valley.

Cornell: Steve Donahue probably thinks he has it bad at BC but his former team is 0-10 this season after losing at home to St. Francis of Pennsylvania Saturday.

Houston: I wrote about the sad tale of Houston basketball last week and things have only gotten worse with losses to Texas A&M and San Jose State (at the dreary Hofheinz Pavilion). The Cougars have lost four of their last five.

Marquette: The Fighin’ McGuires have been winning the easy ones and losing the challenging ones, including the last two to San Diego State and Wisconsin and are now 5-4.

Saint Joseph’s: The Hawks had as bad a week as a Philly team could have, losing to Temple in a close one and then getting vaporized by Villanova 98-68 on their home court.

This week’s George Mason (best mid-major): Wichita State. The Shockers remain undefeated. I’ve got to figure they’ll lose one or two in conference play, but before that there’s not a major threat. The most difficult is a road game at Alabama.

This week’s Final Four: Michigan State, Louisville, Arizona, Oklahoma State

This week’s national champion: Michigan State

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