Friday, February 20, 2009

Before and after, 2/20



VCU at Nevada: Illinois St. heading to Niagara in the first half of the BracketBusters-arranged two-gamne Valley-MAAC Challenge got the plum ESPN2 slot, but I'm more intrigued by VCU's trip to Reno for a few reasons:

1. Eric Maynor. The Duke-slayer's still one of the handful of mid-major players that's worth the price of your television's admission all by himself. (I know that didn't make any sense. Just roll with it.)

2. VCU's got beef. Sorry, but I don't think any team got a rawer deal, schedule-wise, from the BracketBuster powers-that-be than the Rams. Wednesday they played Delaware at home. Two days later they're out in Reno, taking on a team who'll boost their resume up to ... well, maybe it'll help them land an NIT bid? More likely, that Fake NIT CBI thing, honestly. Here's to hoping they play angry.

3. Future of the WAC. Nevada's top six scorers will be back next year, including 6-9 frosh forward Luke Babbitt and steady sophomore point Armon Johnson. In case you've forgotten: Mark Fox is still at Nevada, and he can still recruit like nobody's business.

4. USU's watching. Despite the hiccup at Boise, I still think Utah St. has an excellent at-large argument if they can wrap up the regular season without another drop. The biggest remaining hurdle? At Nevada. VCU's trip might give us some idea what the Aggies will be able to expect in their visit.

There's not really that much at stake--neither side has a prayer of an at-large NCAA bid--but hey, it's the Busters, and guys like Maynor and Babbitt are always worth watching. I'll be, at least.


Penn 62, Princeton 55 (OT): Man, has any victory ever gone from "statement game" status to "outright fluke" as quickly as Princeton's 20-point win over Cornell two weeks ago? At the time, the Tigers were 4-0 and looked like sudden, legitimate challengers to Cornell's expected dominance. Fast-forward 14 days and Princeton's on a three-game losing streak and have as much chance of catching Cornell (now 7-1 in the Ivy and 2 full games ahead of their closest chaser) as I do of catching a jackrabbit in a footrace.

As for Penn, the Quakers can hold fast to some kind of league title hope, what with their current three-game winning streak having come entirely on the road. But honestly, the best part of downing Princeton is simply being able to say they've downed Princeton.

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