Pac-10, Syracuse Top College Basketball Christmas Naughty or Nice List

Jameson FlemingSenior Writer IDecember 10, 2009

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 20:  The Syracuse Orange celebrate after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels to win the championship game of the 2K Sports Classic on November 20, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Orange defeated the Tar Heels 87-71 to win the championship.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

We're closing in on the holiday season, so it's time to evaluate who's been naughty and nice this season in college basketball.

nice list

Syracuse: The Big East coaches picked the Orange to finish sixth in the league. At this rate, the team that Bob Knight called the most impressive in the country might not finish worse than sixth in the country. Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson is a legitimate Player of the Year candidate.

Florida: The Gators couldn't get better after losing Nick Calathes, could they? Early in 2009, Billy Donovan has turned around a team that's missed the tournament two consecutive seasons after winning the previous two championships. Florida has a nice win at Michigan State and still hasn't lost this season.

Texas Tech: Raise your hand if you had the Red Raiders undefeated at a point in this season when a Christmas Naughty or Nice list could exist? Put your hand down Pat Knight, I doubt you could have ever dreamed of sugarplum basketballs that your team could be playing this well.

Northwestern: No Kevin Coble. No problem. At least that's the case so far for the Wildcats. After losing to Butler early in the season, Northwestern has rolled off five consecutive wins with victories against major conference teams Notre Dame, Iowa State, and North Carolina State.

William & Mary: The Colonial Athletic Association picked William & Mary to finished 10th in the league. That looks impossible at this point. With wins over Wake Forest, Richmond, and conference foe Virginia Commonwealth, Bill & Mary look like a safe bet to be a CAA contender.

Harvard: Star guard Jeremy Lin looks like a Big East player and his Crimson look like Ivy League contenders. Tommy Amaker's club knocked off Boston College and aforementioned William & Mary, but also hung in with Connecticut.

Mountain West: With the Pac-10's failures this season, it's likely someone in the west would probably be at fault. That someone is the Mountain West. The league's top three, New Mexico, UNLV, and Brigham Young all have victories against Pac-10 squads.

John Wall: Kentucky's freshman point guard John Wall was responsible for beating North Carolina. Wall also led the Wildcats to a 12-0 lead against Connecticut, then led UK back against UConn, then sealed the game with a dominating last five minutes. Wall is a National Player of the Year candidate as a freshman averaging over 18 points and seven assists.

Klay Thompson: One of the few bright spots in an awful Pac-10 belongs to Washington State. Sophomore Klay Thompson has stepped up as one of the nation's best scorers. The sharpshooting guard is dropping almost 26 points per game.

Charles Garcia: Perhaps the nation's best kept secret, Charles Garcia is dominating for the new Division I program, Seattle. After Washington rejected the JUCO transfer, Garcia found a home playing for Cameron Dollar. The Redhawks forward has been an absolute force, averaging 26 and 10.


Pac-10: The Pac-10's struggles were alluded to above, but it's really hard to put into a few sentences how bad the league has been. With losses against almost every league west of the Mississippi River, the Pac-10 is off to a disastrous start.

Oklahoma: It's not too surprising that the Sooners might struggle early in season after losing Blake Griffin and relying heavily on freshman Keith "Tiny" Gallon and Tommy Mason-Griffin. Struggling to the tune of losing to VCU, San Diego, and Houston is surprising. With the Big 12 being so good, Oklahoma better figure things out soon.

Butler: The Bulldogs weren't in my preseason top 25, but they were in many pundits' top 10. Not matter what you thought of Butler in the preseason, the Bulldogs do have enough talent to win against a top 25 opponent. Brad Stevens' club has had three shots at that already and failed each time.

Michigan: The Wolverines were a trendy top 15 preseason pick, but Michigan has looked awful so far this season. After dropping two games in the Old Spice Classic, one against Boston College then another to Utah, it is clear Michigan isn't an elite team. Manny Harris can't seem to do enough for John Beilein.

Maryland: The Terrapins were projected to finish potentially as high as third in the ACC, but that doesn't look likely at this point. Gary Williams' club already dropped two games in Maui to ranked teams Wisconsin and Cincinnati, then blew a chance to knock off a Villanova team as thin as Maryland in the front court.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks lost by 50 points combined in two losses to Oklahoma and Louisville. They've also gone down three other times to Morgan State, East Tennessee State and South Alabama. Throw in a handful of suspensions which are mainly responsible for the defeats, and Arkansas deserves a lump of coal that could fill Bud Walton Arena.

Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers had a perfect chance to gain national exposure by playing in New York City in the Preseason NIT. A loss to a mediocre LSU team prevented WKU from heading to the Big Apple and started a trend in Bowling Green. Another bad loss to Indiana State as well as the inability to knock off former WKU coach Darrin Horn and his Gamecocks means the Hilltoppers might not be the team to beat in the Sun Belt.

Block/Charge Rule Change: The idea of getting rid of charges when a secondary defender establishes position under the hoop is brilliant. The execution of the rule change has been a failure. The consistency has been a major problem as some referees will call a block well out in front of the rim where in theory the call should be a charge. College basketball needs a cylinder like the NBA.

Keon Lawrence: Having a car accident early on a Monday morning is not good. Having said car accident because you're driving drunk is awful. Seton Hall is still undefeated despite Keon Lawrence's stupidity, but Lawrence still deserves enough coal to fill his car and kill his gas mileage.

Devin Ebanks: The sophomore star for Bob Huggins missed several games with "personal problems" then suffered a hand injury in his first game back. That injury is reportedly a broken hand, but Ebanks has played through it. That hand might be bother Ebanks as the Mountaineer is shooting just 34 percent in his first three games.

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