This is where college hoops lands after the calendar turns. Where the spotlight shines. Where hopes spring. Where dreams fade.
This is the big stage. Bright lights. Big city.
Welcome to Manhattan.
Manhattan, Kansas, that is. Okay, not such a big city.
And Fayetteville. And Bloomington. And points S, W, N and W.
Last night Wisconsin learned the lesson. Oklahoma was schooled. Not to mention, Kentucky. Plenty of others, but you get my point. Conference games are T O U G H. Conference games on the road especially.
But not necessarily.
Ask, say, the Oregon Ducks. Good team. Final Four capable. Quick. Long. Well coached. The latest stop for vagabond Mike Moser. Twelve and zed heading into league play. Wins over some legits. Opening W @ Utah in OT. Sweet. Then a trip to Boulder. L. Then a visit from Cal. L. Stanford came a calling. Another home L.
The Ducks are in a tailspin. 13-3 overall. 1-3 in the PAC 12.
Welcome to January, Phil Knight U.
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This year perhaps more than ever, conference play is where glossy records go to die.
Duke. 13-4 overall. 2-2 in the ACC.
Iowa State. 14-2 overall. 2-2 in the Big 12.
Ohio State 15-2 overall.. 2-2 in the Big 10.
The flip side is the Ivy League. Penn is 3-10 on the year, but 1-0 in league play.
I’m not saying anything new. It happens every year. But this year the trend seems to be honed with an exceptionally terrible swift sword.
All of which is to say, it’s my favorite time of the sporting year. Cliché time: Anything can happen. And does.
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Speaking of schools not faring so well in their leagues, how about Steve Lavin’s Johnnies?
The Red Storm were 9-3 heading into Big East play. Where they stand 0-4.1
The Red Storm have talent. The Red Storm have no coach.2
Lavin wasn’t very good at UCLA, and he’s proving it again at St. John’s.
A pity. Apparently he’s a really nice guy. And I loved him as an announcer. Funny. Lots of pop cultural reference sprinkled in his commentary. Great hair.
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Look who is sitting atop the ACC standings?
Gee, those names sound familiar.
Guess all that crowing the last few seasons to the effect that the Big East was clearly the best league in the land, perhaps the best ever, was, uh, well, uh, true.
There’s that other former Big East school that will be joining the Orange and Panthers next year. Tobacco Road is best advised to reinforce its defenses.
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Love the dialog about IU’s students storming the court last night after the big but not that big W over Wisconsin.
Obviously a school with the heralded tradition of Indiana shouldn’t be the scene of such hoohah.
On the other hand, those students not only don’t know who Don Schlundt and Jimmy Rayl are, they probably haven’t heard of Bobby Knight either. And they are college students looking for the slightest excuse to frolic.
— Seedy K