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Sully's Court: A Bob Ryan road trip

Posted by Joe Sullivan, Globe Staff  January 20, 2014 10:58 AM

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This Monday we’re turning over the beginning portion of Sully’s Court to one of our correspondents, Bob Ryan. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? Bob just went on a great road trip to Kentucky and took in two games.

His report:
Interesting Kentucky W over Tennessee. Vols absolutely annihilated Cats on offensive glass, 20 off rebs in all and an amazing 13 off rebs in first 19 missed shots. UK still won. Made some threes for a change and got best game yet from Andrew Harrison (25). Cal subbed at a vintage Dean Smith rate. Seemed as if he subbed in anger after every Tenn first-half basket. They do have lots of talent and I could see an Elite 8 team by March, but not a champ. Would that be enough to justify this class's recruiting hype and satisfy Big Blue Nation? Doubt it. As for Louisville, I saw them on an aberrationally great shooting night, making 6 of their first 7 and 11 of their first 15 threes. Nobody loses doing that. Win at UConn does serve a warning to everyone, though. They miss Behanan but they're still pretty damn good.

Bob has nothing to do with the following.

Five rising:

American: I thought BU was the team to beat in the Patriot League but the Eagles have been a big surprise winning their first six league games, the best league start in school history. Next up? BU on Tuesday night in DC.

Chattanooga: The Mocs used to be a yearly threat in the Southern Conference but that hasn’t been the case recently. Well, they are once again. No one would have expected that when they started 4-8 but they’ve won seven in a row and are 6-0 in the SoCon.

Kansas: A big week for the young Jayhawks, who are improving rapidly, winning at Iowa State and then holding off Oklahoma State at home. Plus they’ve beaten Oklahoma and Kansas State to once again establish themselves as the top team in the Big 12. Slumping Baylor comes to Allen Fieldhouse Monday night.

LaSalle: The Explorers had been a major disappointment. With most of the team returning from a Sweet 16 team, they were just a mediocre bunch for most of the season. Something has changed with conference play as the Explorers have won five in a row, three A10 games and two Big 5 games.

Southern: It may not be like the days of Bobby Phills and coach Ben Jobe, but the Jaguars are 4-0 in the SWAC, including a victory at preseason favorite Texas Southern. They’re 9-9 overall, which is outstanding for a SWAC team that played four money games and lost all of them.

Five falling:

Baylor: The Bears are talented but right now they’re underachieving. They lost three of their last four, including an unexpected road loss at Texas Tech and a tough one at home to Oklahoma 66-64 when they failed to get a shot off in their final possession.

Iowa State: After opening with 14 straight wins, the Cyclones have been hit with a Big 12 reality check, losing consecutive games to Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas.

Marshall: The Thundering Herd could have had a tremendous senior point guard in DeAndre Kane, but he transferred to Iowa State, where he’s the trigger man for an outstanding team. Marshall? The Herd are 6-13 and have lost 11 of their last 13. Those two wins were over Presbyterian and Alice Lloyd, a small school in Kentucky.

New Mexico State: With what’s left in the basically dismantled Western Athletic Conference, the Aggies should be a dominant force. Instead they had a disastrous Midwestern road trip, losing to Chicago State 86-81 and Missouri Kansas City 68-66.

Wisconsin: The Badgers were like a machine in winning their first 16 games, then came a surprising slip at Indiana. Those things happen, but then they turned around and lost at home to Michigan. That’s even more surprising.

The week’s George Mason (best mid-major): Wichita State. The Wheat Shockers are now 19-0 and took care of business at home against Indiana State. An undefeated regular season is real possibility.

This week’s Final Four: Michigan State, Arizona, Oklahoma State, San Diego State.

This week’s national champion: Michigan State

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