TAKING A STEP BACK...
Yeah, yeah, I know...it's football season. But do you realize that college basketball is less than one month away? In fact, the season gets underway just four weeks from today with the opening rounds of the Coaches vs Cancer Classic set to begin on Thursday, November 11.
Speaking of that Coaches vs Cancer Classic, which sort of ushers in the 2004 - 2005 season, there is potential for a great round of games in New York City if the projected teams win their opening round games. In case you are not familiar, the CVC has sixteen teams from as many different conferences divided into four separate regions. This year, those regions will be hosted by the favorites to make it to the semifinals and finals in NYC: California, Memphis, Mississippi State, and Syracuse.
If those four teams do indeed win their way to the Big Apple, Memphis would take on Cal in one semifinal matchup, while the other would pit Mississippi State and hometown favorite Syracuse (which is a rematch of a Final Four matchup from eight years ago). The two winners will meet in the championship game, while the losers will still get another quality RPI-boosting game in the tournament's consolation game.
Among the other preseason tournaments taking place in November and their notable participants are the following:
THREE THINGS TO WATCH IN WEEK SEVEN
(1) Who will step up in the Big Ten? Saturday afternoon's showdown between Wisconsin and Purdue in West Lafayette will show which of the Big Ten's two unbeaten teams is for real. The Badgers certainly proved they are a contender after winning at Ohio State last week, but one could argue that the Buckeyes are overrated after losing to Northwestern the week before. Purdue has taken care of everyone they've played with relative ease, save last week's game at Penn State (though it's likely Joe Tiller's team was looking towards UW just a little). Don't forget about Michigan - the Wolves' only loss was out-of-conference - but the winner here steps in front of the pack in the Big Ten.
(2) Louisville looks to take out another school from the state of Florida and join Utah at the top of the list as one of the possible BCS busters of 2004. Just a few seasons ago on a memorable Thursday night, Coach John L. Smith's club shocked Florida State in overtime thanks to a TD run by (the now legendary) Henry Miller. Though that victory was called by ESPN's Mike Tirico as UL's "biggest win ever," a win down at South Beach might top that. The 'Canes have already knocked off Florida State this season, but the Cardinals may be better (much better?) that FSU. It doesn't get much bigger than this for a non-BCS school like the University of Louisville.
(3) Two big offensive powers head on the road in conference this week to take on annual powers in their respective leagues. Arizona State gets a shot at Southern Cal just seven days after the Trojans survived a hyped showdown with in-state rival California. After getting the job done against the Bears, will USC overlook Andrew Walter and the Sun Devils? And speaking of getting overlooked, how about Wali Lundy and the Virginia Cavaliers? Last week's Thursday night victory over Clemson was a start towards respect, but a win at Florida State would really make some national noise. And don't overlook those extra two days of preparation for UVA. With FSU still unclear and uncomfortable with their QB situation, the Cavs and Coach Al Groh could cerainly take advantage of the extra time. Will either or both ASU/UVA step up this weekend on the road?
WHAT WE WATCHED LAST WEEK
(1) Make it five straight years that the Longhorns have gone into the Red River Shootout with high hopes only to have them shot down by Oklahoma. The Horns hung with OU all the way and were down just 3-0 at the half. OU, however, showed that defense is what gets the job done as the Sooner D held Texas scoreless. A 12-0 win isn't as impressive as some in years past for Stoops' team, but it's that 0 in the loss column that matters most.
(2) Two other games involving unbeaten teams were played last weekend, and none of the four teams deserved to get a loss. However, two did, and it just so happens that the two road teams were the ones to come up just a few points short. Minnesota had control of the game at Michigan late but allowed the Wolverines to mount a late fourth quarter rally and win the game. Out in L.A., Southern Cal stopped a late rally by California to keep the Trojans unbeaten heading into mid-October.
(3) We said a theme of Week Six would be "Can they keep it going?" and that was in reference to five particular teams: Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, Louisiana Tech, Purdue, and NC State. SCS.com projected three of those teams (VT, Purdue, and NC State) to "keep it going," and we were right on with two of those. The Hokies survived at Wake Forest, while Purdue continued to dominate as they got past Penn State in Happy Valley. Surprisingly, NC State was unable to knock off in-state rival North Carolina in Chapel Hill, while Oklahoma State was able to get the job done (and in a big way) at Colorado. As expected, LA Tech didn't fare too well at Auburn.
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