Hoosiers, Gators Go Down as Does The Big East
The team that defeated #1 ranked Indiana over the weekend should not surprise anyone. The Butler Bulldogs have only been at this for a few years now while they marched to Final Four appearances. Butler knocked off the Hoosiers in Indianapolis 88-86 in overtime to hand IU their first defeat of the season.
Also suffering their first loss of the year was #5 Florida who went out to Tucson to play the 8th-ranked Arizona Wildcats. Point guard Mark Lyons put in a lay-up with about seven seconds remaining to beat the Gators 65-64. Give Florida and Head Coach Billy Donovan credit for scheduling a road game as tough as this one and also give credit to the Wildcats who showed they can hang with solid competition.
Perhaps the biggest news of the week had nothing to do with on-court action. The seven catholic-school members of the Big East met recently and have overwhelmingly voted to leave the Big East Conference. According to the conference itself, Marquette, DePaul, Providence, Villanova, St. John’s , Seton Hall and Georgetown would have to wait until 2015 until they could formally leave but my guess is money will talk and they’ll get out sooner rather than later.
Notre Dame of course would probably be part of the discussion but the Irish are headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014. So where would these seven teams go once they were no longer part of the Big East? More than likely, they’ll attempt to form their own conference and would probably look to add three more ‘basketball-focused’ schools. It’s possible that a new league would try to attract Xavier, Butler and perhaps Virginia Commonwealth to get the number to ten. That’s a god number for basketball conferences because it allows a perfect round-robin format.
At this point, all I can tell you is to stay-tuned.
News Around the Nation… Michigan knocked off John Beilein’s former team West Virginia to move to 11-0 on the season… #6 Louisville remains somewhat in the shadows while most focus on other big time programs in the top 10. The Cards were down by 16 to Memphis, but rallied to win behind Peyton Siva’s 19 points… Illinois moved to 12-0 on the season after giving Eastern Illinois their first loss of the year yesterday… Syracuse moved to 9-0 on the year but seven of the nine have come at home. Have to wonder if this team will be ready for Big East play on the road when it begins… In a 64-54 contest won by Oklahoma, the Sooners and Texas A&M may have scored about the same amount of points as their football teams will in the Cotton Bowl in January.
Games to Watch This Week
Richmond at #9 Kansas – The 9-2 Spiders take on 8-1 Kansas in Lawrence. While the Spiders don’t have what I’d call any huge wins, they will be a challenge either way for the Jayhawks. I still expect a KU victory in this one though.
#19 Michigan State at Bowling Green – I’ve got the Spartans winning this one against the 5-4 Falcons, but I find MSU interesting. At 9-2, they are remaining under the radar right now in the Big Ten which I have to think is OK with Head Coach Tom Izzo.
Xavier at #11 Cincinnati – The 7-2 Musketeers go across town to play the Bearcats who are unbeaten. Last year, this contest ended early due to a brawl in the closing minutes of the game. I look for both teams to be on their best behavior and the Bearcats to win a tight one.
#9 Kansas at #7 Ohio State – A rematch of two teams from the Final Four last year, both teams will have something to prove prior to conference play. I like the Buckeyes for two reasons; First this is Kansas’ first road game and secondly the Buckeyes are 6-0 at home.