Defend That, Digger!: Week 5 (Plus a non-conference schedule update)

I already have the perfect first example, so why even wait? It is too good not to mention again.

Exhibit A: Purdue 77, West Virginia 62

Come on, you knew this one going to lead things off. Digger's beloved Big East leader comes into Big Ten country and wilts under the pressure of a slow, unathletic team that can't score. It isn't even so much that it happened, but the method in which it happened. Purdue left no doubt it was the better team. West Virginia looked soft and underprepared for most of the game. You already saw some on ESPN slyly trying to explain it away. West Virginia is a young team. They were banged up. They had to play on the road. Well, here's a news flash: TEAMS HAVE TO DO THAT ALL THE TIME! Were we supposed to pity them and not play as hard because of it? No one pitied us last year when Robbie Hummel and Chris Kramer were both injured at the start of Big Ten play. At least West Virginia's players were able to play, unlike the infamous 6-man game at Penn State last year. Defend That, Digger!

Digger_medium

Digger, the floor is yours. You are always welcome to create an account, join, and refute in the comments.

Exhibit B: Pittsburgh 82, Syracuse 72

This was within Big East play, but it shows why we should not take Syracuse seriously. Some fools were even voting them number 1 a week ago. They conveniently forgot that the Orange lost to Division II LeMoyne in an exhibition. Now they lose by 10 at home to a team that lost to Indiana. I hate to say it, but the Hoosiers can crow about this one a bit. Syracuse, however, should be ashamed. Pittsburgh has had injuries, but they didn't cry about having to play Syracuse on the road like West Virginia did at Purdue. Defend That, Digger!

Exhibit C: USC banning itself from the postseason

If this is what having elite, NBA-level talent gets you I say no thanks. USC's program takes a major hit and for what? A first round exit to Kansas State. That was certainly worth it. Defend That, Digger!

Exhibit D: The Tennessee scandal

Again, all that high flying talent is really worth it, isn't it? Defend That, Digger! I don't think Robbie carries a gun in his car. Just dead hookers (kidding!).

Exhibit E: Maine 52, Boston College 51

Stepping over to the other "superior" conference: maybe it is a good thing we didn't play Boston College again this year. They now have consecutive losses to Harvard and Maine. At least Harvard is a very good Ivy League team this year. Maine has never been to the NCAA Tournament. Defend That, Digger!

Non-conference opponents update:

Now that our non-conference season is officially over we can sit back and let all 12 victories mature over time. It is very nice to have that luxury. Very few teams ever get the luxury of having every single non-conference opponent earning them respect. Right now, we have quite a few good wins and a couple of more that may grow as the season progresses. Joe Lunardi's latest Bracketology has us as a #1 seed, but that will only last until we lose a game because he is dying to move Duke up. We're also a #1 seed in the latest Blogging the Bracket projection.(All RPI ratings are CBS Sports RPI)

Cal State Northridge (4-8, 0-1 Big West RPI: 181) - It looks as if the Matadors' streak of conference championships will end at two. They are now on a five game losing streak and dropped their Big West opener at Pacific 52-43 in their last outing. One of the five losses was to a ranked Washington team, so we missed out on a small boost there.

South Dakota State (7-8, 3-1 Summit RPI: 217) - You can file this win under "surprising small boost" as the Jackrabbits are behind only undefeated Oakland in Summit League play. SDSU has won three of its last four with the only loss coming by 30 at Minnesota. There is no clear favorite in the Summit League, so they may have a shot. The only league loss came at IUPUI, who is 10-6 overall and 3-1 in conference play, likely making them the favorite.

St. Joseph's (4-8, 0-0 Atlantic 10 RPI: 121) - The Hawks continue to plummet and have just one win in their last nine games. We started that unfortunate trend. The lone win has come over Lehigh, while Minnesota beat them by 17. Barring a miracle run in the A-10, this is not an NCAA team, but there are some good teams like Temple, Rhode Island, Dayton, and Richmond they could beat.

Tennessee (10-2, 0-0 SEC RPI: 36) - On the court the Volunteers have been fine. They shook off a beating at USC and won at Memphis this weekend. Unfortunately, they and USC made the biggest off the court news. The last time I checked it is not a wise idea to alter the serial number on a handgun, let alone drive around with pot and open alcohol. Is this what they mean by SEC speed? The Vols have a big game at #1 Kansas this week, and I have a suspicion their suspensions might get a moratorium for that game.

Central Michigan (5-7, 0-0 MAC RPI: 201) - The Chippewas have done nothing of note, including losing at South Dakota State. They do not open MAC play until Saturday at 3-10 Toledo.

Wake Forest (11-2, 1-0 ACC RPI: 29) - This is quickly becoming a candidate for our second best win other than West Virginia. The Demon Deacons have won seven straight since losing in Mackey Arena and there are a couple of good wins in there. Gonzaga, NC State, Richmond, and Xavier are among their victims. They also had the balls to go to UNC Wilmington and UNC Greensboro. The only other loss, to William & Mary (With an amazing RPI of #2!), is to one of the hottest mid-majors in the country. This looks like a solid NCAA tournament team. They have a tough game this weekend at Miami where the Hurricanes (14-1) desperately need a legitimate win after feasting on an easy schedule.

Buffalo (7-4, 0-0 MAC RPI: 95) - The Bulls could once again be a player in the MAC with a decent non-conference schedule. They also have a fairly strong RPI in the top 100, but that will go down in MAC play. As a sidebar, I do not understand why the MAC cannot be as successful of a basketball conference as it is in football (that is, regularly a threat to beat a Big Ten team). They did what Wisconsin could not in winning at Green Bay. They start MAC play this week with Miami (OH).

Valparaiso (6-9, 1-2 Horizon RPI: 223) - The Crusaders look to be a bit better in Horizon League play this year, but they are still a middle of the pack team at best. They have recently lost to IPFW, Akron, and Green bay, but they did win at home over Milwaukee. Brandon Wood continues to be one of the nation's best scorers at better than 20 points per game.

Alabama (9-4, 0-0 SEC RPI: 74) - There will be chances to get some marquee wins, but Alabama looks like a bubble team at best because they can't seem to get a good win. The four losses have come against Cornell (possibly the Ivy's best with an RPI of 37 and will battle Harvard for that bid), Kansas State (solid NCAA team), Purdue, and Florida State (NCAA team). Three of those four came at home too, so they have had their chances. The Michigan win doesn't look as good now, meaning the only real good team they beat was 11-1 Baylor. I think 11 SEC wins has them dancing (especially if Baylor does well in the Big 12).

Ball State (6-5, 0-0 MAC RPI: 215) - This is another team that has not lost since Purdue beat them, but their wins have come over North Carolina Central, Maryland-Eastern Shore, and Manchester College (non-Division I). They have a chance for a pretty good win at Dayton tomorrow night.

Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (2-12 RPI: 305) - The Cougars have likely cemented themselves at the bottom of teams we have played with an 82-51 loss to Murray State. We can expect absolutely no help from them, as they won't even join their conference (the Ohio Valley) for another two years and won't be eligible for the postseason tournament for three years.

West Virginia (11-1, 2-0 Big East RPI: 1) - The good news is that our victory over the Mountaineers does not effect their Big East record. They have fairly easy games left against Rutgers, South Florida, and Notre Dame before hosting Syracuse on January 16th. We also get a boost because they play fellow top 10 team Villanova at least twice before the Big East tourney. They will be the gift that keeps on giving.

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