Just before New Year’s Day, I posted a column questioning if the San Diego State Aztecs basketball team was ‘for real.’ Two months later, they’ve answered with an emphatic YES — even if few have noticed.
Part of the issue is that “The Mountain West Network” televises their games, so SDSU is never on ESPN or national TV, even when they played what was the game of the year last month in Provo against BYU. Kurt Allen covered that with a fantastic and thorough preview, the depth of which you won’t find in any mainstream publication.
Heck, many people back east didn’t even know who The Jimmer was until a few weeks ago, despite his averaging 22 per game last season (over 27 so far this campaign) and leading his team into the 2010 NCAA second round with a 37 point performance vs. Florida.
(“Hey, c’mon, BYU is from Utah and the game was in Oklahoma…you expect me and the sheltered Connecticuters of ESPN to stay up late, do our jobs, and care?” is what I imagine talk show host Colin Cowherd musing. Again, this raises the question of how we bloggers, who have our own full time jobs, are able to cover stories better and more accurately than the mainstream media—whose ONLY job is to do this! But I digress…)
Thankfully, Saturday at 2pm EST, BYU visits SDSU’s Viejas Arena on CBS in the Game of the Year in college basketball. Period. People back east might even learn about one of the best sophomores in the land, Kawhi Leonard. All he’s done is lead the Aztecs to a 52-10 record since arriving on campus.
Most pertinently though, here on Presidents Day the new polls came out, and sadly, to no one’s surprise, the #2 team in the RPI, with the fewest losses in the nation (ONE), was not number one, but rather number six in the AP poll! (People have noticed many other mishaps too)
That San Diego State loss, of course, was on the road to the #3 team in the RPI (ranked 7 today, but should also be higher), in a place that school hasn’t lost since roughly when Brigham Young himself arrived in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake.
SDSU is 27-1, and plays in a very good conference that’s better than the ACC, Pac 10 and SEC. The Aztecs also played a tough non conference schedule that, gasp, included numerous road games. (A foreign concept to many ‘major’ teams like Syracuse et al but normal to the likes of Butler, Xavier, Gonzaga and MWC squads.)
Duke, their two losses to bubble teams, and no truly impressive wins (#6 RPI, with the worst SOS (39) of any top 15 team), is naturally tops in the land again today. And by virtue of playing in a subpar conference again (that should only get two teams in), the Blue Devils should cruise to a number one seed in the NCAA tourney and easy draw ala 2010 when they won the title.
On that topic, a recent MSN/Fox Sports college hoops post named “ten teams that can win the title,” and did not mention the Aztecs, nor BYU’s Cougars. They did mention Villanova, Missouri and Washington, however!?
Ridiculous, though I’m sure author of the above piece, Jeff Goodman, — whose ballot today had SDSU 7th and BYU 9th! — didn’t mention Michigan State, West Virginia or Butler last year at this time, and all three made final 4 — while Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse did not.
Analyzing is one thing, but predictions, especially on college teams, are silly. That’s why I don’t gamble.
But haughty analysts like Goodman, Joe Lunardi, Clark Kellogg, Andy Katz, Stephen A. Smith, Duke alums Seth Davis and Jay Bilas, supercilious Syracuse beat writers, alongside the rest of the elites who condescendingly mocked mid-majors last March (picking the National Runner-Up Bulldogs to lose in the first round, for example), know very little; refuse to leave their coast; and therefore, I suppose the polls thankfully mean nothing other than “inconsequential noise” as someone put it today when rightly griping about Pitt.
But then again, the Committee likely has the same ignorance and biases, and what they believe does matter on March 13. The overused “Eyeball Test” cliché is a bad cop-out for journalistic irresponsibility.
I may live in the Midwest now, but it seems the sports media is and always will be biased against central and western teams. Any of the current top “BCS” teams would have two or more losses if they played in the 2010-2011 Mountain West Conference.