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yoco :: College Basketball
(a sports weblog) news and commentary on men's college basketball and the ncaa tournament

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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

the mighty midgets

-- Cameron Indoor Stadium turns 65 tomorrow. To commemorate the arena's first game, a Princeton-Duke duel in 1940 which the Blue Devils won 36-27, this year's Dukies will tonight host Princeton. Decked out in throwback jerseys with round collars instead of V-necks and solid white shorts, Coach K's club will likely start freshman David McClure (who?) in the front-court. His averages to date? 1.7 points and 1.8 rebounds per game.

-- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Stu Durando pens an interesting thought piece on the future of Conference USA. His read -- and Tom Penders'? That following the departures of Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette, Charlotte and DePaul at the end of this season, the conference's have-nots will be free to make substantial progress towards NCAA bids. For my part, I wonder if John Calipari will be any more successful at Memphis when Conference USA resembles the Atlantic 10 of the late 1980's and early 1990's.

-- Don't look now, but Billy Gillispie has directed Texas A&M to an 11-0 record. As it stands, his Aggies are one of only six undefeated teams in Division One. Then again, they travel to Kansas tonight, a likely loss, and have an RPI of 101, the result of a non-conference schedule of Reed Arena patsies.

-- Andrew Jones of the Wilmington Star-News acknowledges what few in the national punditry class have been willing to concede; The ACC's "big four" started the season with mixed success. Duke, in particular, looks especially vulnerable heading into conference play. Where have you gone, Luol Deng?

-- Indiana's Mike Davis has begun playing the numbers game, suggesting the Hoosiers must go 10-6 in conference and win at least one Big Ten tournament game to receive an at-large bid to the dance. Given IU's brutal non-conference schedule, fair enough. But as Davis has learned, easier said than done.

-- Jim Calhoun would like nothing more than for his Connecticut Huskies to soundly crush Al Skinner's Boston College Eagles tonight in Storrs. (If tickets remain available, your intrepid blogger may make the trip for what is sure to be an entertaining game). Smarting from BC's move to the ACC, Connecticut's coach has promised to never again schedule a game against his old rival.

"I haven't changed my feelings. I have no desire to play them," Calhoun said. The disdain Calhoun feels for Boston College, which clearly does not extend to coach Al Skinner or the basketball program itself, is not only based on his status in the Big East but his roots in Braintree, Mass.

"I think they're an integral part of New England basketball, which I treasure. I think they're integral to the Big East, one of the founding fathers," Calhoun said. "So it's really sad that they're leaving."

More here.

--Playing the expectations game, Dee Brown and his Illinois teammates argue they are unlikely to go undefeated in the Big Ten.

-- After Xavier's win against Iowa State, the Musketeers climbed 45 spots in the RPI rankings. Too bad, however, that Sean Miller's club is still ranked only the 143rd best team in the country.

-- The San Francisco Chronicle's Jake Curtis authors a story on Bucknell's win against Pittsburgh. Uniquely upsetting for the Panthers, the loss came to a Patriot League team that did not offer athletic scholarships until two years ago. The result? Yesterday, Bucknell coach Pat Flannery's weekly alumni luncheon drew 150 guests rather than the 30 or 40 regulars.

-- Following St. John's defeat of North Carolina State, Norm Roberts is feeling the love. The Post-Standard's Mike Waters checks-in with a piece appropriately titled "Gray skies are clearing up for St. John's."

-- Better than ladies night?

Today will be "1940s Night" as part of the celebration of the Illini's centennial season. The first 8,000 people entering the Assembly Hall will be given an "Illini Times," courtesy of the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, with stories from the 1940s. There will be two more theme games -- Jan. 29 against Minnesota will be "1980s Day" and Feb. 23 against Northwestern will be "1960s Night."

-- Auburn coach Jeff Lebo wins my midseason award for the best self-inflicted nickname. He calls his Tigers, which start four guards and a forward, the "mighty midgets." The Sun-Herald's Don Hammack previews Auburn's game against Mississippi State here.