A JERSEY GUY: College BB Season Thus Far: No Monsters In Sight
Since it is now January and there is only ONE college football game remaining to be played, we can start to focus on what has happened and what might happen in the college basketball season which concludes with the Madness of March.
Here's what A Jersey Guy has noticed thus far:
NO ONE is really super scary and a must avoid in March--or April.
Auburn and San Diego State are the only two remaining UNBEATEN teams.
Neither team was picked to win their conferences in the pre-season. Auburn was No. 4 in the Southeastern Conference, San Diego State was the No. 3 pick in the Mountain West Conference.
Now both are projected as No. 2 or No. 3 seeds in the NCAA tournament (and Yes, it is way to early to project very deep into bracketology stuff).
San Diego State is currently ranked No. 7 in the country, the highest rankings for the Aztecs since 2014. They are coming off a solid 77-68 road win at Utah State, a pre-season pick to win the MWC.
But their best other win this season is a 10-point win over Iowa last month.
Brian Dutcher has none a nice job running the show the past two seasons and has re-tooled last year's team which won 21 games with a group of transfers led by former Washington State guard Malachi Flynn.
Nor does there look like there are major problems ahead, with the Aztecs probably favored in each of their remaining in regular season games, which could mean a 29-0 or 28-1 (a game at Nevada).
Early projection: Good, but not a team A Jersey Guy would expect to see in the Elite 8 or even Sweet 16. I think the road will get much bumpier in March.
Auburn is a different matter.
Whether you like Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl or not, and whether you question just how the Tigers do their business, does not matter.
The Tigers came within a whisker of winning their first national championship last season and have a combination of five seniors and five freshman ready for an encore appearance.
The Southeastern Conference is filled with predators, but Auburn can play with them all. Showing up in Atlanta for the Final Four would not be a reach.
If there is a surprise team it might be Butler, which was picked to finish 8th in the Big East and has a compiled an impressive 14-1 record going into Friday night's game at Providence.
The Big East is full of surprises, which includes Providence, which stumbled out of the gate and posted some embarrassing efforts--an 83-51 loss to Florida, but has turned things around with a four game winning streak which includes wins over Texas, Georgetown, DePaul and Marquette-the final two each by a point.
Suddenly, the Friars are 3-0 in the Big East.
Matching that were your Boston College Eagles, who were embarrassed by Duke 81-49 on New Year's Eve, but responded with a short-handed 60-53 win over defending national champion Virginia on Tuesday night.
Coach Tony Bennet's Cavaliers can be given a "free pass' for taking a night off in a mid-week ACC game against a Duke beat by 32 points.
But that takes nothing away from the Eagles who are 3-1 in the ACC, their best conference start in 9 years.
Speaking of the ACC, North Carolina was a Top 10 pick in the country in pre-season and loaded with talent as usual.
But the sky is anything but Carolina Blue in Chapel Hill. Coach Roy Williams' team is coming off a loss to Georgia Tech is 1-2 in the ACC, 8-6 overall and projected as an NCAA "bubble'' team if that.
How can you not like the brutal honesty of West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins, who was frustrated after watching Kansas shoot 8 more free throws than the Mountaineers in what became a 60-53 Jayhawk victory?
"I can't control what those three blind mice running around out there do,'' said Huggins on his post game radio show.
Please pay the $10,000 fine to the Big 12 office, Coach Huggins.
And then we have this.
Rutgers, which has not been invited to the NCAA tournament since 1991 is on a six game winning streak and has posted a 12-3 record.