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Conference Comparisons

November 28, 2003 Columns No Comments


Early Season Conference Comparisons

by Joaquin Mesa

It is only one game into the season for most teams, and some haven’t even played (i.e. UCLA, which might bode well for their disgruntled alumni). There are a few who have played up to four games, and a couple who have lost every single one of them. I’m looking in your general direction San Diego and Mount St. Mary’s…and to think, I actually visited the campus of the Mountaineers, filthy.

There are also the teams that have made their early season points, such as Marquette and South Carolina. That’s right, the mighty Gamecocks are a force to be reckoned with, atop the nationwide standings at 4-0 along with Marquette. Now, some of you might say that a Southwest Missouri State is not on par with a St. John’s or a Valparaiso, and you might have a point. However, South Carolina doesn’t give a rat’s behind about their strength of schedule, they are just happy to be considered amongst the best. Plus, there is no BCS system here, only wins and losses.

Now it may be a little too early to compare conferences, but I don’t care, let’s do it anyway.

The Best

ACC (15-0)
Big 12 (14-1)
Big East (20-3)
SEC (17-2)
Conference USA (16-3)

The good conferences are looking pretty good, with the ACC unbeaten in out of conference play. Though not many good games took place here, Duke did beat Detroit, which beat Western Michigan, which beat USC. Seven degrees of Kevin Bacon would suggest that the ACC owns the Pac-10, but I wouldn’t go that far, I think that they just are better then them in general.

The Big 12’s only loss was when Colorado didn’t respect Pepperdine in the second half of their game, and the Waves ran away with it. They should know that Paul Westphal is a good college coach, and much like Pete Carroll of USC football, will make good changes at halftime that will give his team the edge. It was Colorado 42, Pepperdine 41 at the half. What happened? Texas tech literally romped U Mass with a forty point margin of victory and not one player scoring over 18 points. This makes up a little for the fact that Colorado blew it, but the Big-12 has the most to prove of all the good conferences.

The Big East looks solid, with only a sloppy, slow St. John’s loss to Marquette tarnishing their record. I watched this game, and I really felt halfway through that I wished I hadn’t. It was boring and showcased a lack of mental preparation. However, it was a bad loss for St. John’s. Villanova made some ground back with a win over Atlantic 10’s Temple, and Pittsburg then handed Alabama (SEC) a loss. George Washington also got into the fray with a one point victory over Penn St.. Their 20-3 record is accomplished without Syracuse playing even a single game.

The SEC had few games played against quality opponents, unless you consider Winthrop a quality team. Only Vanderbilt’s win over Big 10 Indiana looks good, but then Alabama also lost to Pittsburg, so the conference hasn’t proved itself at all yet.

Conference USA, amidst all its troubles, fared pretty well in its opening week. It is true that they lost two of their big out of conference games, but Wake Forrest and George Washington were going to win anyway, right? Well, at least the conference protagonist is faring well, and Marquette has to be happy with a record of 4-0.

The Rest

Big-10 (9-6)
Pac-10 (7-3)
Atlantic-10 (13-8)

And of course, the rest…

Now, true the Pac-10 hasn’t played many games, but with USC losing to a sub-par Western Michigan team, and California losing to Cal Poly, there isn’t much to cheer about in the Pac-10. These two teams were supposed to be experience and substance respectively, and instead they end up as scatter-brained and shell-shocked. As for the Big-10, two losses to the Mountain West Conference and SEC and Big 12 losses have made them look human to other conferences. The highest profile of these losses being Minnesota’s loss to Utah in the Preseason NIT. Although Utah has always been a formidable opponent under head coach Rick Majerus, this year’s squad features 10 freshman and four sophomores. I didn’t think it was even going to be close.

Minnesota seems to have a problem winning on the road, so maybe they should start practicing in Ohio…just a suggestion. The Atlantic 10 features a St. Joseph’s (PA) team that has beaten Gonzaga in one of the first nationally televised game of the year at the Coaches Versus Cancer Classic. However, it also features a Temple team that lost to Villanova (Big East), a Fordham team that lost to Memphis (Conference USA), and a U Mass team that lost to Texas Tech (Big 12) not to mention Hartford (America East). Only a George Washington team avenges all these out of conference losses with a modest win over Charlotte of Conference USA. And who the heck is Charlotte anyway???? Though Jameer Nelson looks good, little else does for the Atlantic 10.

The biggest games are coming up this week, with Kansas v Michigan St., Arizona v Florida, Arizona v Texas, Duke v Michigan St., North Carolina v Illinois, Oklahoma v Michigan St., Kentucky v Michigan St., Gonzaga v Missouri, Louisville v Florida, Wake Forrest v North Carolina, Stanford v Kansas, and Norte Dame v Marquette, but it fun to think about who is best with only one game under their belt, no? I like to think of it as the first of many measuring sticks for the conferences, after all, we have to have something to complain about come seeding time.

     

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