Monday, December 10, 2007

Vinny Pezzimenti Moment -- Week 4

Vinny must have liked what he saw (in the Penn game), because he ranked Villanova #23 on his AP ballot last week according to pollstalker (I'm not stalking you Vinny, honest). The Pollstalker site is very useful as it lists the contingent of AP voters (lots of familiar names -- Seth Davis, Dustin Dow, Hoops Weiss, DPO, Todd Rosiak and Ed Graney among others) and their ballots. Which allowed me to answer a question I had asked elsewhere -- "Who voted for Virginia??". Virginia lost to Seton Hall by 14 on a neutral court on November 24, and actually received more Top 25 votes than Seton Hall. It turns out that even last week Roger Clarkson of the The Athens Banner-Herald (I'm guessing Georgia...) ranked the Cavs #14 on his ballot. In Roger's defense, there were 13 other voters who ranked UVa on their ballots. But even Dick Vitale did not include them guys. I wonder how they will rank Virginia this week. They lost 70-68 to Syracuse on their homecourt last week.

My Big East Blogger Poll for this week:

1 - Georgetown
2 - Pittsburgh
3 - Marquette
4 - Villanova
5 - West Virginia
6 - Louisville
7 - Providence
8 - Connecticut
9 - Notre Dame
10 - Seton Hall
11 - Syracuse
12 - St. John's
13 - South Florida
14 - DePaul
15 - Rutgers
16 - Cincinnati

Player of the Week: Luke Harangody, Notre Dame

Rookie of the Week: Malcolm Grant, Villanova

Who's Up...Who's Down...
Louisville lost their 2nd game of the season (third in a row to Dayton -- bet that series goes on hiatus for awhile...) on Saturday. The Cardinals have gone 3-2 since losing Padgett. Given their close win over Miami (OH) last weekend, it seems they have problems with teams with big centers who play lower paced offensive schemes...Not a good sign for matching up with Georgetown. I moved them down 3 positions this week. I had them ranked #2 going into the season, but the injuries to Palacios and Padgett take two experienced players off the court, while Holloway's surgery (and Goode's academics) keep possible replacements out as well. That is a rock and a hard place for any team. Coach Pitino benched Sosa and Smith through the end of the Dayton game too. Hopefully whatever circumstance that led to that decision has been resolved. Both Marquette and Villanova continued to win, so moving them up seemed appropriate. Providence on the other hand also too a loss last week (to the A10's Rhode Island), so dropped them behind West Virginia, and moved the 'Eers up. This is unexpected for me. Some had picked WVU to finish fairly high under Coach Huggins, but I confess I was not one of them. That 2 point loss to the #12 Tennessee may not have been a fluke. They continue to be ranked #1 in Pythagorean Winning Percentage on Ken Pomeroy's Stats Page. Their two wins last, a 29 point victory over Auburn (the Big East SEC Challenge) on a (sort of...) neutral court in Alabama followed by a 24 point win over a resurgent Duquesne, add to their resume. Syracuse dropped another game, this time to Rhode Island, who also beat Providence this week. If I were ranking the Rams in this week's poll they would be somewhere around 4 - 5. I dropped the Orange two more spots and moved Notre Dame, who has been munching on low-major pastries lately, but doing handily, and Seton Hall, who admitedly has had problems of their own (a close road loss to Penn State) lately, up. The bottom quartile remains pretty much where it was, though South Florida seems to be making some noise.

Some good performances in winning efforts this week. I decided to vote for Luke Harangody, on the strength of his K State and Northern Illinois games last week. He scored 33 points, and grabbed 26 rebounds in 2 very nice games. I also considered Dominic James, on his 20 point game against Wisconsin. The USF Bull's Dominique Jones dropped another bunch of points (55 to be exact) against Richmond and UAB last week. If Jones keeps this up, and South Florida can work their way into the second or third quartile of the Big East, Jones may find himself in the conversation about Rookie of the Year at the end of the season. How good is Jones really? Only time and more play will tell, but consider that he has put Solomon Bozeman, a promising backcourt player who logged about 75% of the minutes between the #1 and #2 last season, on the bench (Bozeman still gets minutes, but only about 10 per game...), and redshirt freshman Dante Curry, a very well regarded recruit who was slated to compete for a spot this season, has packed his bags and is looking for another school. On the expectation that there will be other weeks for Jones I am going with a fan choice this week in Malcolm Grant, the largely unheralded third member of Villanova's true freshman class. Malcolm scored 18 points in 16 minutes off the bench on Thursday to spark the Wildcat comeback against LSU. Villanova was down 21 points with 8:50 to play when Grant went off. He was 3-4 from beyond the arc and scored 9-10 from the free throw line on a night when the other Wildcats could do no better than 14-24 from the stripe. He also had 2 assists during those 8+ minutes. His 13 points in 3 minutes was a great individual effort. Dante Cunningham's put back with 2.2 (seconds) remaining was the only Nova lead of the night, and came on Grant's only missed shot in that stretch, a runner in the lane. Coach Wright put the ball in his hands on the last timeout in a huge show of confidence. Grant will come off the bench this year for the 'Cats, who have a very stacked backcourt.

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