The first month of the college basketball season has gone remarkably well for some teams. Wake Forest, Xavier, and Syracuse have all jumped straight up the rankings to reach the Top 10, or have flirted with that mark in the early going.
But some haven't been so lucky.
There are a number of teams, individual players, and coaches that will be waking up on Christmas morning with coal in their stockings (the coal signifying that things aren't going to be getting any better).
University of Alabama-Birmingham
Some teams deserve the proverbial coal while others deserve the real thing. UAB deserves to get a truck load of coal for its body of bad work that is the 2008 season.
The Blazers hoped to knock Memphis off as Conference USA champions or even just make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team, but those hopes have been dashed rather quickly with a sub-par start and off-the-court issues.
UAB has already lost to Boston College and Cincinnati, two teams that likely will not be a factor come March. The Blazers also blew a chance to beat a top five team in Oklahoma.
Mike Davis' squad is going to have trouble in conference play, picking up quality wins with only six scholarship players.
UAB was left handicapped after Terrence Roderick and Armon Bassett left school and Jeremy Mayfield and Ed Berrios were ruled academically ineligible.
Davis deserves some serious Coach of the Year consideration if he can turn this team into an NCAA Tournament team.
John Calipari, Memphis
How does a coach that can recruit so well not sign any point guards or shooters? When he recruited Derrick Rose, Calipari had to have known that Rose was probably going to be one-and-done, thus leaving the Tigers without a capable point guard.
Unless he can get John Wall to sign with the Tigers for next year, Calipari might have to go two years without a true point guard.
Memphis also doesn't have anybody who can shoot the rock, which was prominently on display Saturday against Syracuse. The Tigers hit their first three-pointer of the game but then didn't hit another 'til, oh, say, about the 2014 season.
The Tigers have a few players that can hit the occasional three-pointer, like Doneal Mack and Robert Sallie. But after that Memphis is a group of athletic freaks who slash to the basket and pound the offensive glass to put points on the board.
Eric Devendorf, Syracuse
No matter what Eric Devendorf actually did that fateful Halloween night, the junior deserves some kind of significant punishment since he was already on probation. The two-game suspension doesn't really cut it in most people's books.
Devendorf gets the coal because if he slips up one more time the slightest bit, he's probably gone from Syracuse for good.
If he sneezes in an old lady's face and doesn't say, "God bless you," he could be gone. If he comes to an intersection and doesn't help a first grader through the crosswalk, he could be gone.
Devendorf isn't going to get another chance.
The Big East
Remember when everyone was in agreement that the Big East had the greatest collection of teams in college basketball history? Well, the Big East still has more than enough time to make some noise in March, but for now the conference has come out of the gate as a dud. A big, fat dud.
The Big East sits third in conference RPI behind the Big Ten and the ACC, largely because of the league's inability to pick up quality wins. Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, and West Virginia have been the biggest culprits.
The league does have some quality wins. UConn has already knocked off Miami, Wisconsin, and Gonzaga, while Syracuse has won away from the Carrier Dome against Kansas, Florida, and Memphis. Georgetown has grabbed a key win at home against Memphis, but the Hoyas blew a chance to make a real statement against Tennessee.
It's not going to get better for most of the Big East as conference play is about to begin, which means the league's 16 teams are about to beat the living daylights out of each other.
University of Southern California
The Trojans have one last chance to pick up something that could be remotely considered a quality win, and that is when Tim Floyd's team hosts Georgia Tech.
USC already has losses to Big East bottom-dweller Seton Hall and Big 12 foes Missouri and Oklahoma. Right now, you can take your pick for the best win on USC's resume.
Which looks better, a five-point win against San Francisco or a four-point win against North Dakota State? Those are the two best teams the Trojans have defeated.
The only thing USC has going for itself is a chance to stockpile wins in an 18-game schedule against the putrid Pac-10.
The SEC West
The entire SEC has been pretty darn awful, but at least the East Division has several teams that should be NCAA Tournament-worthy.
The SEC West, on the other hand, may not have a single team dancing in March.
Mississippi has had enough season-ending injuries to last them into the next decade, while Auburn and Alabama have fallen victim to awful coaching jobs in 2008.
Mississippi State is trying to rebuild after losing several key players from last year's team.
Finally, there's LSU and Arkansas, who combined have just two losses. But if you add the ranks of the strength-of-schedule for both teams, you get a number north of 600.
The Tigers have beaten only one team with a winning record, 5-4 Northwestern State. Arkansas' resume is just as bad, with its key win being a victory over Stephen F. Austin, which is one of two teams leading the chase for the Southland Conference title.