Posted by Tony Caridi on Monday, January 11, 2010
Ahhh, the beauty of college basketball. When conference play begins it’s as predictable as NBC’s late-night program schedule.
Last weekend saw five of the nation’s Top 10 teams walk off an opposing team’s floor with a loss. Kansas falls at Tennessee, despite the fact that the Vols were playing without four regulars that averaged a combined 45 points and 20 rebounds per game.
Previously unbeaten Purdue loses on the road at Wisconsin. Duke gets tripped up at Georgia Tech while Kansas State got bit by the Tigers at Missouri.
And then there was West Virginia’s date in South Bend against the Irish. This game has become college basketball’s version of the movie classic Groundhog Day. The Irish race to an early lead by hitting 3s in transition and then hold off the hard charging Mountaineers. It happens over and over and over again. In fact, it’s happened 10 times in a row. After Saturday night I was ready to ring up Bill Murray to commiserate.
However, when I removed my “Gold and Blue” shades I saw West Virginia’s loss for what it was - one of five Top 10 weekend road losses. The truth is that it appears to be an above-average year when it comes to parity in college basketball. It’s one of those years when a Cinderella might not only reach the Final Four—it could win the whole thing.
The good news/bad news for West Virginia is that the Mountaineers are 12-2, ranked ninth in the nation, and still haven’t come close to reaching their peak in the consistency or efficiency department. Those that view the glass half empty might see the team’s current status as the finished product. Those of us in the glass half full camp still think this team will synch up and look forward to the arrival of the “Istan-Bull” Deniz Kilicli next month.
By Saturday afternoon at 3 o’clock the Mountaineers will have played a third of their conference schedule. Wins at South Florida and at home to Syracuse could give the Mountaineers a 5-1 mark in league play. If you maintain that winning percentage it would equal 15-3, which a year ago was good for second place in the final league standings. Louisville won the conference last season with a 16-2 record, but I think this year’s champ will have more than two loses.
Just like all of you, I was bummed Saturday night, but there’s no time for bumming. It’s College Basketball 2010: You get ready for the next one or you’ll have more than one loss to think about.