· So far the Pac-10 has looked like the SEC did last season. I offer a mea culpa for Oregon State, who I ranked number 33 in my preseason top 40. All the Beavers have done to reward my faith is get blown out by Texas A&M – Corpus Christi (it’s all fun and games until you lose by 24 to a hyphen school) and lose at home to Sacramento State (it’s all fun and games until you drop one to a team that went 2-27 last season). Their in-state rival Ducks started strong and lost to a tough Portland team (no lie, they will challenge Gonzaga in the WCC) before losing by double digits to Montana at home. USC lost to Loyola Marymount (the WCC’s answer to Sacto State)as well as Nebraska, with both losses coming at home, and a depleted UCLA squad lost to Cal-State Fullerton and Long Beach State. Don’t be surprised if the West is far from best and only gets three or four teams in the Dance.
· Speaking of Loyola Marymount the Lions need one more win to equal their total from last season (three). Their three losses have been by a combined ten points. Don’t expect a Paul Westhead-like revival featuring regular triple-digit scores but of the schools in the greater L.A. area LMU has looked better than USC and UCLA.
· Even though Vandy struggled against Chaminade in the first half and received little from A.J. Ogilvy they had to be encouraged from the output of freshman guard John Jenkins. If they can add a fifth player that is a consistent threat to score in double figures every night the ‘Dores have a shot at upsetting the apple cart in the SEC.
· Interesting thing that may only interest me and the fine fans in Ithaca, N.Y. Cornell guard Chris Wroblewski has averaged 5.8 ppg in the Big Red’s five wins. In their two losses he has averaged 21 ppg.
· Two teams share the award for most disappointing teams not in the Big Six. Morehead State returned most of their personnel from their NCAA tournament squad and have yet to beat a Division I team. American did lose most of their team that scared the crap out of Villanova last season but sits at a robust 0-7 with home losses against the likes of Maryland-Eastern Shore and Manhattan College.
· People shouldn’t be surprised by Portland’s tough play. They had all five starters come back from a team that won twenty games last season and sport a nice inside-outside combo with T.J. Campbell running the show in the backcourt. They just needed a bigger stage to show their chops. Trust me, they’ll fight a surprisingly reloaded Gonzaga squad tooth and nail for WCC top gun (and both teams will get Dance tickets this year).
· Marquette’s lack of height will hurt them against Georgetown and UConn. They played proper help defense against Florida State but Solomon Alabi just needed to loft it over Lazar Hayward, who really showed senior leadership for the Golden Eagles.
· Clemson’s DeMontez Stitt missed both free throws and was a 60 percent shooter when he took the line with three seconds left against Butler. All he did was calmly get both charity points. In that situation I’ll take a guy who is experienced and may not have the numbers over a freshman who has gaudy stats.
And now, your Week 3 Top 40.
6. North Carolina
7. Michigan State
10. West Virginia
16. Georgia Tech
19. Oklahoma State
21. Brigham Young
22. Ohio State
23. Florida State
24. Texas A&M
26. Kansas State
35. New Mexico
37. Miami (Fla.)
39. Texas Tech