With the NFL winding down, it is right about this time of the year when I start to really pay attention to college hoops so I can go 0-32 in the first round of my NCAA pool in March. But seriously, I usually go 1-31 or 2-30. Again I jest.
As I look into the machinations in each of the conferences, I have come up with the following thoughts.
Illinois in the Big 10 continues to do well after getting the #1 ranking. When Bill Self left to go to his dream job of Kansas, some in Champagne thought that the program would fall off, but one thing Self did before he left was to stock up on talent. We’re now seeing that come to fruition. Bruce Weber has done a tremdendous job in taking over the program. The Illini’s victory over Iowa this week was a quality win. The Big 10 Conference is always tough and the win over Iowa will go far in the Selection Committee’s eyes, provided that Illinois remains in the top 5 this season.
I have to say that Al Skinner at Boston College has done wonders at Chestnut Hill. The team is undefeated and eeked out a win over Villanova this week. I saw Skinner do wonders at the University of Rhode Island, a school where he desperately wanted to stay, but for some reason, was not offered a contract in his last season, so he went to Boston College where he’s establishing something special. The problem is, the sports fans of Boston don’t seem to care. They’re busy in the afterglow of the Red Sox and spending more time on the Patriots than focusing on college hoops. Then again, Boston has never been a good college sports town. Despite having a great tradition in college basketball and also college hockey, the Boston fans don’t care. The more Al Skinner wins, the more attractive he’ll become to a school in the ACC. Oh wait, he’s going to the ACC next year when Boston College leaves the Big East. But some school will come after Skinner if his success continues.
Why does the PAC 10 continues to show games on FSN? I know that FSN needs programming, but the conference would be better served on ESPN. I know ESPN should put ACC after its name during the season, but the PAC 10 has a pretty good conference. The games are hardly promoted on FSN and with the various channels committed to their local programming, it is hard to find the games. I know the PAC 10 wants to be a big fish on a little pond, but it’s hardly doing justice to itself. By going on ESPN, the PAC 10 would get a bigger audience and better promotion. And ESPN’s Throwdown Thursday would be so nice with a PAC 10 doubleheader.
Lastly, Commissioner Linda Bruno has got to do something about the Atlantic 10 Conference. After George Washington, there isn’t much to brag about. When the A-10 got 5 teams into the NCAA Tournament over the Big East’s 4 last decade, it appeared that the balance of power in Eastern Basketball shifted, but that now seems to be a one year aberration. Xavier is down. Dayton doesn’t look like the team that upset Kansas in Lawrence last season and Temple seems to be in transition. If the A-10 is not careful, it will be surpassed by the Mid America Conference for seats to the tournament.
And I hope we don’t hear from Mike Jarvis on ESPN anytime soon. His work in the studio has been next to horrible. But Sean McDonough should be on more major games than he is currently assigned. ESPN finally gives college basketball a pre-game show it deserves. It’s only been 25 years, Bristol.
For more great college basketball info, go to the Colege Basketball Blog, run by my new best friend, Yoni Cohen. The link is to your right.