Away to the Fieldhouse Bern dashed in her sneakers,
Threw open the doors and ran to the bleachers.
The lights in the alcoves casting shadows below,
Made the wooden court seem almost like snow,
When, what did her wondering eyes then behold,
But an athletic, muscular 19-year-old,
In a strapping white uniform, fresh out of the wash,
She knew in a moment it must be St. Josh.
To be continued...
Holiday poetry aside, enough things happened yesterday that I probably should address them briefly:
Florida: The Gators are criminally underrated. Ranked 10th when Ohio State pummeled them, they should have received the same benefit of the doubt as we did when we lost to Duke. Instead, they plummeted, then fell further (including out of one poll) when they lost narrowly on the road to a still-undefeated UCF team. Clearly, the voters overreacted. This is a team with the talent to be in the top 10, and the common denominator in K-State's two losses is that they both came away from home to teams with single-digit RPIs. I expect both Duke and Florida to reach at least the Sweet 16 this year.
- Gonzaga: I knew the Bulldogs weren't as bad as their record showed. Furthermore, I knew Baylor was thoroughly untested and likely would not pass its first test away from home. Score two for BracketCat. Even more impressive is that Baylor barely had to contend with Steven Gray, the Zags' leading scorer. What's truly baffling right now is how we managed to beat Gonzaga the way we did.
James Madison: Proving once again that JMU was one of our most underrated wins, the Dukes went to South Florida and beat Ron Anderson Jr. and Co. That's a nice road win against a Big East team.
- Missouri and Nebraska: At least some teams in this conference know how to devour their cupcakes. The Tigers' halfcourt defense is still pretty suspect, however.
Oklahoma: I know, they lost, right? But the Sooners only lost by 10 to an undefeated Cincinnati team, which is about as much fight as they have shown all year. Maybe Jeff Capel finally is starting to get through to this group. Or maybe Cincinnati hasn't played anyone and is just overrated.
- Presbyterian: Granted, Auburn is the worst BCS basketball team not named Oregon State, but that's still a really nice road win for the Blue Hose, who never had beat a BCS team before.
- Texas: That was a nice little semi-road win for the Longhorns, and best of all, they probably prevented North Carolina from re-entering the polls. For that, we all owe them a debt of gratitude.
- Texas A&M: Wanna know who's playing the best defense in the Big 12? Look no further than the Aggies, who held Arkansas without a field goal for the final 6:43 minutes of regulation and all but 16 seconds in overtime. That's astounding. This is the same Arkansas team that erupted for a 21-7 run spanning halftime earlier in the game. If you're counting, that's two consecutive games in which aTm shut down pretty decent BCS teams with lights-out 3-point shooters when it had to. Impressive.
- Virginia Tech: The Hokies body-slammed a Mississippi State team that now has Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney available. And they did it on a neutral court. Maybe VPI's finally starting to figure things out...
- Loyola-Chicago: A loss to the worst team in the Big East sure doesn't do wonders for our RPI.
Oklahoma State: Yes, the Cowboys won, but there's no reason they should have sleepwalked through the second half against an atrocious Alabama team like that. OSU has a lot of things to clean up, and with a road game against suddenly resurgent Gonzaga on the near horizon, the Pokes don't have a lot of time to do so.
- Big 12 teams ranked in the top 10: Baylor laid a big, fat egg in its first real test of the season. Kansas, a 20-point favorite, needed a superb effort from a freshman playing in his first-ever collegiate game to avoid a shocking home upset and the end of a historic streak. And as for the third team...
- Kansas State: Worst scoring output since Wooly's lame-duck year? 'Nuff said.
- Texas Tech: The hands-down most underachieving team in the Big 12 continued its misery by falling to 1-3 against in-state opponents. Remind me again why Iowa State was picked last by the coaches? The Red Raiders have lost three straight and five of their last six. And it ain't getting any easier: They'll play three consecutive ranked teams in January and five consecutive ranked teams in February.
Associated Press Ranking = 6
ESPN/USA Today Ranking = 6
Overall Record = 9-2
RPI = 13
SOS = 14
Signature Wins (RPI 1-30) = none
Quality Wins (RPI 31-100) = James Madison, Virginia Tech, Gonzaga
Bad Losses (RPI 101 or greater) = none
James Madison (8-3, 0-1 CAA) | RPI = 99: Win at USF (66-61)
Virginia Tech (6-4, 0-1 ACC) | RPI = 49: Win over Mississippi State (88-57 in the Battle at Atlantis)
Presbyterian (5-6, 1-1 Big South) | RPI = 108: Win at Auburn (62-59)
Gonzaga (6-5) | RPI = 76: Win over No. 9 Baylor (68-64)
No. 1 Duke (10-0) | RPI = 4
- Texas Southern (2-7) | RPI = 198
Emporia State (7-4, 4-1 MIAA*): Win at Truman State* (74-71 in overtime)
- Washington State (7-1) | RPI = 110
- Alcorn State (0-8) | RPI = 234
Loyola-Chicago (8-4, 0-2 Horizon League) | RPI = 213: Loss at DePaul (74-81)
No. 24 Florida (8-2) | RPI = 3: Win over No. 6 Kansas State (57-44 in the Orange Bowl Classic)
- No. 22 UNLV (10-2) | RPI = 30: Win over Southern Utah (72-50)
UMKC (6-4, 0-2 Summit League) | RPI = 277: Win over North Dakota (69-61)
North Florida (4-7, 1-1 Atlantic Sun) | RPI = 141: Loss to Furman (49-60)
- Savannah State (1-12) | RPI = 325
Oklahoma State (10-1) | RPI = 53: Win over Alabama (68-60 in the All-College Classic)
- Colorado (6-3) | RPI = 197
Texas Tech (5-6) | RPI = 199: Loss at UTEP (71-82)
- No. 12 Missouri (10-1) | RPI = 42: Win over Central Arkansas (116-63)
- No. 25** Texas A&M (10-1) | RPI = 26: Win over Arkansas (71-62 in overtime)
- No. 9 Baylor (7-1) | RPI = 94: Loss to Gonzaga (64-68)
- No. 3 Kansas (10-0) | RPI = 2: Win over USC (70-68)
Nebraska (9-2) | RPI = 117: Win over Eastern Washington (72-42)
- Iowa State (9-2) | RPI = 124
Oklahoma (5-6) | RPI = 149: Loss to Cincinnati (56-66)
- No. 25 Texas (9-2) | RPI = 32: Win over North Carolina (78-76)
**Associated Press Ranking