Friday, November 21, 2008

LET'S TALK CONFERENCE BRAGGING RIGHTS

Is it too early to start the debate over which basketball conference is the best?

Don’t be ridiculous. Of course, it is. It’s not even Thanksgiving.

That said, all ahead full.

Such conference superiority debates are endemic to fans, alums and loyalists who seem to enjoy a spirited dialog from first jump ball in November until One Shining Moment early one morning in April. Last night, losses by PAC-10 stalwarts #4 UCLA and #20 USC will, no doubt, rekindle the debate.

The Bruins, who are considered a Final Four team yet again in many circles, were the first major casualty of the new season losing a close game to unranked Michigan. We aren’t sure how good Michigan is, but the win was their first over a top-five team in 11 years, and they were rated a distant 8th in the Big 10 media’s preseason poll. The box score doesn’t reveal too many glaring differences save turnovers where the Wolverines enjoyed a 9-17 margin. Eight turnovers is enough to impact a close game, and last night at Madison Square Garden it did just that.

For their effort, Michigan gets another crack at a top-5 team tonight v. #5 Duke in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer finale.

In addition, Tim Floyd’s #20 USC got knocked off 55-52 by the Big East’s Seton Hall. Seton Hall was ranked 13th in the Big East’s media preseason poll, and all we will say about that is the ACC only has 12 teams. None the less, the Pirates win, and mind you they haven’t been very good in a very long time. This could well be the first of many reminders about how deep the Big East (with what seems like 35 teams) really is.

As of this writing, the post ACC expansion bloated Big East has six teams in the top 25: UConn (2), Louisville (3), Pittsburgh (6), Notre Dame (9), Marquette (17), Georgetown (18) and Villanova (23), but only the Cardinals are post-expansion newbies.

The ACC is top heavy as it was last season with with UNC and Duke in the top 5 while Miami and Wake weigh-in at 16 and 25 respectively. Of course the Big 10, Big 12 and the SEC have ranked teams, but will any of them end up in the hoops promise land like the title teams from Florida and Kansas and the big run squad of the Greg Oden Buckeyes?

Two things we do know for sure: 1) it’s too soon to tell, and 2) like NCAA football, basketball teams ranked 15 through 25 move in and out of the polls on a weekly basis.

Just ask Miami who was ranked on Thursday morning, but most likely unranked by supper time on Sunday.

(Photos by Nick Laham/Getty Images and AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

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