I would like to announce the retirement of Defend That, Digger. Digger Phelps has been generally complimentary about our program of late. He is even finding that elusive road to West Lafayette in a few weeks when College GameDay is in town. He, along with many others at the Worldwide Leader, have started to come around on our program. Sure, it will likely last until we lose a game, but for now they are starting to see that we were more than a one man team.
We don't ask for much as Purdue fans. I think all we're looking for is an accurate assessment based on what we have done on the court, recognition that we're more than Robbie Hummel, and that Robbie's injury was not the reason to completely write off the season. Andy Katz has come around, award both JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore Player of the week honors, but there are still dolts out there that call themselves college basketball writers when I doubt they could identify a basketball logo unless it had a Duke, Kansas, or Kentucky logo on it. They neglect to do actual research.
Thus, we have Seth Davis.
If you could do online betting on how wrong Seth Davis is going to be at the beginning of the season I would place a lot of money that he is going to pick random Big East teams as Final Four favorites even though they will likely crap out in the first round of the tournament. This is a man who rabidly defended the Big East last year despite their teams getting whacked in round one by the basketball powerhouses of Old Dominion and Ohio.
Therefore, Defend That, Digger rides off into the sunset for the more virulent Suck It, Seth Davis.
Exhibit A: "Selling" Purdue
This requires an exact quote from Mr. Davis:
PURDUE (13-1, No. 11): SELL
Matt Painter doesn't play the weakest nonconference schedule around, but for some reason he never puts his team through the full Izzo. If ever there was a year to do so, this would have been it. (Painter obviously didn't know Robbie Hummel was going to blow out his knee the first week of practice.) Purdue is a good team, and I wouldn't count them out for a deep tourney run even without Hummel, but the Boilermakers' ranking is a tad inflated because of their schedule. Their toughest nonconference opponents were Virginia Tech, which they beat in overtime on the road, and Richmond (an 11-point loss on a neutral court). Expect the Boilermakers to get knocked down a few pegs toward the end of January, when they hit the teeth of their Big Ten schedule.
This is an incredible load of crap where he takes 134 words to not say much of anything. We don't play a really weak non-conference schedule, but we really should have gone stronger (What?). We can make a run without Hummel, but we're overated (therefore, if we earn a high seed, making said run easier, we don't deserve it). Toughest non-conference opponents are Va Tech and Richmond, but they aren't really that tough (even though the facts show we have played a tougher non-conference schedule this year compared to last year). Expect us to get knocked down a beg (expect for the fact we're playing some of the best TEAM-ORIENTED basketball of anyone in the country.
This Iis just an example of someone who has probably watched only highlights that feature JJ and E'Twaun. It is something we're going to battle all year until the wins pile up so high they choke the whole stinking lot of them.
That's not all though. Let's look at some of his other ratings:
PITTSBURGH (13-1, No. 5): BUY
I was going to rate the Panthers a Hold until I looked at their schedule. I'm not sure how this happened, but Pitt only has to play UConn, Georgetown, Syracuse and Notre Dame once. (And the Panthers already beat UConn.) So while Pitt can hardly climb much higher in the polls, I also don't expect this team to fall too far. With no real dominant teams out there, this is a good year to be flush with intangibles like toughness and experience. For me, the difference-maker is 6-10 senior center Gary McGhee, not because he reminds anyone of Hakeem Olajuwon, but there are very few top teams that have a post player who is that big and reliable.
First off, if you did even a small amount of research you would see that the Big East has 16 teams and an 18 game conference schedule If you play everybody once, that is 15 games, leaving just three teams to play twice. Therefore, you play A LOT of teams only once. Their one loss is to an average (at best) Tennessee team, and they have a 6'10" center who is really, really good. They have a tough schedule down the stretch and a pretty good guard as well.
Doesn't this sound familiar? I can't think of another team that played a tougher non-conference schedule, has a dominant 6'10" big man, has an All-American caliber guard, plays tough every night and has a lot of experience, and has a tough conference season ahead (where they play good teams in a true home and home like real men). Who could this mystery team be?
NORTH CAROLINA (10-4, NR): BUY-PLUS
Last year, I gave this unusually bullish ranking to Baylor. Like these Tar Heels, those Bears were also unranked, but they ended their season in the Elite Eight. So you might want to take my advice on this one. For some reason -- and my guess is the embarrassment of last season -- people have not been properly applying the transitive property to North Carolina. The Heels beat Kentucky at home, and look at what Kentucky just did to Louisville on the road. They lost to Texas in Greensboro on a last-second bucket, and look what the Longhorns did to Michigan State. I realize nobody will ever call Larry Drew II the second coming of Phil Ford, but as a group North Carolina's perimeter guys are actually pretty good. Witness Leslie McDonald and Justin Watts, who provided a combined 24 points off the bench in last week's rout of Rutgers. Lots of people look at Harrison Barnes and see a disappointment, but I see a very talented young man who is learning a little bit more with every dribble. Finally, look around the ACC and find me a team besides Duke that's better than North Carolina. It's only a matter of time before the Heels are back in the rankings to stay, so you better buy 'em now while they're dirt cheap.
Yes, yes. Buy now before you realize they have crapped the bed against nearly every major conference opponent so far. You point out their Texas and Kentucky games, but neglect hat they've already been handled by two Big Ten teams and Louisville lost at home to mighty Drexel. Don't even get me started on Harrison Barnes. Let's save those pre-season All-America honors for players that earn them, rook.
MINNESOTA (11-3, NR): HOLD
I might have recommended a Sell here because I think the Gophers have been ranked a little too high given that their best win came on a neutral court against North Carolina. (Not to mention Devoe Joseph's indefinite suspension.) But their back-to-back road losses to Wisconsin and Michigan State served as a fitting market correction. Minnesota will never wow you offensively, but they can grind you out and beat you up as well as any team in the Big Ten. The Gophers have to play at Ohio State on Sunday, but after that they have relatively smooth sailing until early February.
So let me get this straight: You're downgrading Minnesota and possibly selling them because their best win is over the team that you're telling people to buy, buy, buy?
TEXAS (11-2, No. 12): BUY
You'll notice a pattern: I love buying young teams in early January. The Longhorns are even younger than they look on paper because their three most important players (Cory Joseph, Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton) are freshmen and sophomores. In some ways this is a risky buy because beginning Jan. 19, they have a brutal five-game stretch in the league that includes two games against Texas A&M and a road date at Kansas. Texas might lose a game or two there, but it will only toughen this team for the stretch run.
This is the same team that, in some eyes, was a guaranteed Final Four team at this point last year. I wouldn't trust Rick Barnes to coach a 6th grade intramural team.
So there you have it for today. Got any other mainstream writers you want to go after? Feel free in the comments.