Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bog Poll Boils and Bubbles

We are coming down to the end of the Bog Poll, so I will have to find something else to write about, but more importantly, soon we will have final rankings. Over at Big Stein's place, the Terp lovers have Maryland ahead of VIrginia Tech, even though they have nearly the same record and the Hokies have beaten the Terps twice. For me, it's more interesting that Norfolk State lost to South Carolina State over the weekend, and fell out of the poll. I actually watched the end of this game on TV, and SCSU needs to work on its endgame, i.e. making free throws, inbounds plays, boxing out on defense. Speaking of endgame, the 7-10 teams below are really on a tear right now. Almost no way Georgetown won't finish the season #1, VCU is solid at #2, and UMBC has won its way to #3. The Hokies shoved Maryland out of the way and George Mason made it easy to keep the Terps at #5 with the bracketbuster loss to Ohio. Another week of 1-1 for the Patriots and we could see them passed by any or all of American, Morgan, Loyola, or Old Dominion. Lots of postseason action for the Top 10 will keep the rankings bubbling for a few more weeks at least.

1. Georgetown
Over the weekend, Rich Chvotkin filled in for Georgetown’s wrestling announcer: “Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin!”
2. VCU
Rams thought they were going to Akon, not Akron, took out their anger on the Zips.
Retrievers are Baltimore’s first 20-game winner since Jim Palmer.
4. Virginia Tech
Vomit jokes will be harder for Dorenzo Hudson to get rid of than … than …well, than the smell of puke.
5. Maryland
Greivis Vasquez still struggling with English idiom, said he meant to challenge Hudson to “throw down right now.”
6. George Mason
With at-large prospects fading, Patriots counting on endorsements from NCAA Selection Committee super delegates.
7. American
Eagles hold Army to 40 points; Black Knights’ coach blames inferior body armor.
8. Morgan State
Bears’ successful season spurs growth of the school’s fundraising committee, the Morgan Donors.
9. Loyola
Davis Love > UC-Davis > Mac Davis
10. Old Dominion
Great week for Blaine Taylor. His team won its fifth straight, and he won the CAA Academy Awards pool, ending Pat Kennedy’s dominant four-year reign.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Remember the Spartans?

Hottest team in the Bog Poll has to be the UMBC Retrievers with six straight wins, and American University gets special mention for five in a row, but the award for the out-of-nowhere, given-up-for-dead-on-the-side-of-the-road, stick-a-fork-in-them (they're-done), comeback story has to go to the Norfolk State Spartans, who have won eight of their last nine and are tied for first place in the MEAC with Morgan State. Yes, they lost to Longwood and Prairie View, and Richmond is their only nonconference win over a .500 team, but the Spartans have had their act together in conference play and have made the MEAC into a three-team race. Welcome to the Bog Poll, Norfolk State!

In other news, Georgetown steals another win and loses on the road again (to Syracuse), but splits or worse by everyone else in the Top Five keeps the Hoyas at the top spot. Greivis Vasquez' three-point shooting brings the Terps back against Florida State, but I don't think Maryland can count on that from him every game. VCU stumbles at home against ODU, and the CAA finds itself dining at the one-bid table. UMBC is in the driver's seat in the America East but has three of its last four on the road including trips to the second and third place teams. George Mason is strong enough for second in the CAA but got swept by UNC Wilmington and ill likely see them in the league semis. Virginia Tech's only win in the top two-thirds of the ACC is against Maryland more than a month ago. American has been hot, but the Eagles' most recent loss was to second-place Navy and they head to Annapolis for the grudge match next week. Morgan doesn't get the same chance for redemption against Norfolk State, so Bog Poll bragging rights (and an NCAA bid) will have to wait until the conference tournament. And Loyola finally jumps back in the Top 10 for the first time since Week One. Still some decent teams hanging in the wings: Richmond, Hampton, William and Mary. And some pitiful ones: Virginia.

1. Georgetown
Rich Chvotkin’s play-by-play call from the Villanova game now a part of NPR’s “This I Believe” series.
2. Maryland
Terps lose at Duke, Dick Vitale blames Kelvin Sampson.
3. VCU
Rams maintain ranking in Bog Poll, but Anthony Grant slips from #1 spot on South Carolina AD’s speed dial.
Enraged by the choice of Uno the beagle as Best in Show at Westminster, Retrievers vow to track and kill every opponent in the America East.
5. George Mason
Being named Homecoming King is little comfort to Will Thomas after losing to UNC Wilmington.
6. Virginia Tech
Hokies beat Virginia on February 2, which makes their record ½-3 in their last four contests.
7. American
Eagles’ dominance of the Patriot League reportedly began shortly after Jeff Jones and his wife attended a party at the home of Jose Canseco.
8. Morgan State
Todd Bozeman promotes a Morganic basketball lifestyle as the cornerstone of his team’s success and the future health of the planet.
9. Loyola
After Greyhounds struggle at Niagara again, Jimmy Patsos decides to play next year’s game on the Canadian side.
10. Norfolk State

Spartans follow 2-8 start with 11-2 run. Let’s just hope they can stay on their meds for the rest of the season.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Bog Poll Comes in on Little Cat Feet

These Terps look familiar, don't they? Not the individual players - I think it's safe to say we haven't seen anyone quite like Greivis Vasquez or Bambale Osby before. And not just the style of play - that is pretty typical of a Gary Williams team. No, I am referring to the arc of the season, the plot line, as it were. I have no stats to back this up, but I am willing to bet that over time, Williams' teams have had great second half records that almost always come on the heels of disappointing second quarters (or Decembers or whatever you want to call it). One of the voter's in Big Stein's poll described Maryland's bad stretch as nauseatingly familiar and not made better by the probability that they would come through and hit their stride, which is exactly what has happened. Watching them win against NC State the other night impressed me almost as much as the win at UNC and more than the "gallant" home loss to Duke. If Vasquez can eliminate the poor second-half decisions (launching a three with a lead and 10 seconds on the shot clock, taking a steal downcourt for a missed layup instead of pulling back and running some clock), then the Terps could be a Final Four team. Seriously. They have corrected the defensive lapses that led to career performances by opposing guards and Osby and James Gist are more than most teams can handle inside. But keep your eyes on Vasquez to see where this team is truly headed.

In the poll, Maryland is closing fast on Georgetown, leaving the various Virginia teams behind. VCU has to finish strong to have a shot at an at-large bid if they lose in the CAA Tournament, Virginia Tech drops two spots with two straight ACC losses, but Mason can't pass them with a CAA split last week. UMBC is catching up with a win over Mr. Tony's Binghamton Bearcats, but they'd better keep the wisdom of Satchel Paige in mind because the Morgan State Bears are hotter than Amy Winehouse's hair dryer right now. William and Mary looks like a decent spoiler bet in the CAA and American is looking more phoenix than eagle, with a sudden resurgence. As for Virginia, well it doesn't look very good for the Wahoos right now, does it?

1. Georgetown
Rick Pitino changes from a white suit to a black suit at halftime, and his team goes from losing by eight to winning by eight. After the game, Al Sharpton calls a press conference and demands an apology.
2. Maryland
When the Terps’ dramatic turnaround season is made into a feature film, I’ve got Dennis Hopper playing Gary Williams, John Leguizamo as Greivis Vasquez, but for Bambale Osby, I keep getting stuck on ‘70s TV stars. Lawrence Hilton Jacobs? The guy who played Coolidge on the White Shadow? How about a little help here?
3. VCU
Rams win at Georgia State and Delaware, which is about the same as winning at Delaware State and Georgia, I think.
4. Virginia Tech
I keep reading that Seth Greenberg got an extension, but you have to get more than one if you are trying to get rid of the bald look, Coach.
5. George Mason
Following GMU’s loss at Old Dominion, Jim Larranaga announces that his team has suspended its campaign for an at-large bid.
In his pregame pep talk, Binghamton alumnus Tony Kornheiser asked the team to win one for his ailing comrade, Michael Wilbon, but, apparently, the Bearcats prefer Around the Horn to PTI.
7. William & Mary
William and Mary’s leading scorer against Northeastern made three field goals, but the Tribe’s failure to recognize the Huskies’ zone-blitz packages doomed their three-game win streak.
8. Morgan State
Seven-game win streak has the Bears’ swag approaching Kanye West level, the Defcon One of arrogance.
9. American
First place in the Patriot League! Tenleytown hasn’t been this excited since the Red Line was extended to Shady Grove.
10. Virginia

Cavaliers are staring into the abyss, a pit of hopelessness more bitter than the heart of Jim Fassel.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hot Bog Poll

Things are getting a little testy, which is better than little testes, over at Big Stein's, where this week's voting results + jet lag = an irritable poll host. He also anointed Jamie Paquette and me as some kind of Supervoters, so you have to like that. Anyway, I've still got Georgetown #1 of course, Tech and Maryland push ahead of VCU because of the Rams' loss at George Mason, so tough for them going from #2 to #5. Mason can't go ahead of the other two because they lost at UNCW, though. Still a slight edge for the Hokies over the Terps until Maryland shows a couple more wins in the current "hot streak." After the Top Five, UMBC by default over Virginia, which has replaced James Madison as the worst team in the poll. William and Mary won two so they move up and Morgan State reenters just ahead of Hampton. If I could give an 11th, it would be tough to choose between Loyola and Richmond.

1. Georgetown
Hoyas’ five-game winning streak meets South Florida’s eight-game losing streak Tuesday night. Who made this match, Dr. Neil Clark Warren?

2. Virginia Tech
Hokies are 3-1 in overtime games this season, but a woeful 0-7 in games in which they trailed at the end of regulation

3. Maryland
Terps had five players in double figures against Georgia Tech, the kind of balanced effort that has made the Flying Wallendas an international success, except for the rare occasions when one or more of them has fallen and died or suffered crippling injuries.

4. George Mason
In the four games since he shot 10-10 from three-point range at James Madison, Dre Smith has shot 3-23. Might be a good time to switch to southpaw.

5. VCU
Rams’ forward Larry Sanders blocked seven shots against Towson, then celebrated the team’s win with dinner at Hank’s Lookaround CafĂ©.

Retrievers carry injured opponents to their bench where coach Randy Monroe humanely puts them out of their misery by quickly wringing their necks.

7. Virginia
“Hey, JR, it’s Sean … How you been …. Good, good, the team’s doing real good … No, no, nothing’s wrong, I was just calling to say hey, you know, see what’s up … ”

8. William & Mary
In churches, the sexton is responsible for maintaining the grounds and digging graves. For William and Mary, freshman guard John Sexton has assumed the responsibility for burying the opposition.

9. Morgan State
Bears beat Delaware State after becoming enraged when they discover that Hornets don’t make honey.

10. Hampton
Jerry West > Rashad West > Adam West