Tag Archives: Oklahoma Sooners

Week 15 NCAA men’s basketball power rankings

During Week 15 of last year’s college basketball season, it was evident that the Kentucky Wildcats were the premier team in college basketball and UK’s freshman center Anthony Davis was the best player in the country. The Wildcats had  a 25-1 record, with their only slip up being a 73-72 loss at Indiana early in December that will forever be remembered for the “Wat Shot.” Kentucky lost only one more game, the SEC Championship, the rest of the season and lived up to expectations by winning last year’s NCAA Tournament.

There is no Kentucky this year. In the past six weeks, the No. 1 team has changed five teams. No one has separated from the pack and any team that enters the top five seems to play hot potato with the No. 1 spot by losing. Last week, four of the top five teams–Indiana, Florida, Michigan and Kansas–in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll lost at least once. Kansas dropped consecutive games for the first time since November 21-22, 2005. Every team in the latest AP Poll has at least two losses, the average number of losses per top 25 team is slightly over four and No. 20 Wisconsin has seven.

So what does it all mean?

A) The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee are going to have a difficult time determining the field of the 68 teams that make it to the Big Dance.

and

B) Once the teams and seeds are finalized, the national championship is truly up for grabs.

Without further adieu, here are my NCAA men’s basketball power rankings for Week 15:

1. Miami Hurricanes (19-3, 10-0)-Miami is the only team in one of the power six conferences to have a perfect conference record. The Hurricanes’ 10-0 record in ACC play has given Miami a two-game cushion over Duke. The Hurricanes have proven that they can run traditional college basketball powerhouses out of the gym as seen by their 27-point win against Duke and 26-point victory over North Carolina.

The Miami Hurricanes are the only team in a power six conference that is undefeated in conference play. (Image courtesy of http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/29/3118194/win-signals-progress-for-miami.html)
The Miami Hurricanes are the only team in a power six conference that is undefeated in conference play. (Image courtesy of http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/29/3118194/win-signals-progress-for-miami.html)

2. Indiana Hoosiers (21-3, 9-2)-Indiana let an 11-point lead with seven minutes remaining against Illinois slip away, which could been a major concern for the Hoosiers if it wasn’t for IU’s bounce back win at No. 10 Ohio State. The 81-68 victory was Indiana’s first road win over a ranked opponent since 2002 and kept the Hoosiers atop the AP Poll.

3. Michigan Wolverines (21-3, 8-3)-If Ben Brust’s half-court prayer didn’t force overtime in Madison, Wisc. and eventually lead to a Badgers victory, Michigan would likely be No. 1 team in the country. The Big Ten’s abundance of tournament-bound teams has taken its toll on the Wolverines, who are tied for third in the conference with Wisconsin.

4. Duke Blue Devils (21-2, 8-2)-The Blue Devils have finally gotten their feet under them after losing senior forward Ryan Kelly to a foot injury. Duke lost two of its first three games without Kelly but have rattled off five straight wins as the team sits in second place in the ACC.

5. Michigan State (20-4, 9-2)-Don’t look now but the Spartans are tied for first in the Big Ten with Indiana. The Spartans still have to play Michigan twice as well as Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin a second time; if Sparty can survive the gauntlet, they have a shot at a No. 1 seed in March.

6. Florida Gators (19-3, 9-1)-The Gators should not be judged too harshly for their 80-69 loss to Arkansas. Every team has off nights and Florida showed that their lone conference loss was a fluke. They returned to their prior form by beating Mississippi State by 25 on Saturday.

7. Gonzaga Bulldogs (23-2, 10-0)-Barring a horrible loss or two, Gonzaga seems destined for a No. 2 seed with an outside chance to be a No. 1 if the teams in front of them don’t finish the regular season on high notes. The Bulldogs are a major question mark because of their weak conference schedule. They aren’t tested on a nightly basis the way that ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12 teams are. Gonzaga played against three ranked opponents and lost two of those matchups, which could hint at an early exit in the tournament.

8. Syracuse Orange (20-3, 8-2)-If Syracuse can settle senior forward James Southerland’s eligibility issue, then the Orange may be the favorite to win the Big East and ‘Cuse could match last year’s Elite Eight appearance.

9. Kansas Jayhawks (20-4, 8-3)-Last week may have been the darkest period in the history of Kansas basketball with three losses. Texas Christian University’s first Big 12 win, an unexpected 62-55 upset of the Jayhawks, was sandwiched by Kansas losses to unranked Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. With four teams within one game of the conference lead, Kansas doesn’t have any more room for error in a wide open Big 12.

10. Arizona Wildcats (20-3, 8-3)-Arizona was one of the hottest teams in the country and arguably the best team out West early in the season with wins against No. 5 Florida, Miami (Fla.) and No. 17 San Diego State during its 14-0 start. However, the Wildcats have started to show their true colors and fade from the spotlight with losses to unranked Oregon, UCLA and California.

The first week of 2013 in review

College basketball conference wins are hard to come by, especially on the road

Conference play started kicked off in college basketball and it has already taken its toll on some of the top teams in the country. No. 18 Michigan State fell to No. 9 Minnesota 76-63, Purdue upset No. 11 Illinois 68-61, Marquette bested No. 15 Georgetown and No. 24 Pittsburgh is off to an 0-2 start in the Big East after losing to No. 14 Cincinnati and Rutgers.

Minnesota beat Michigan State thanks to a 25-8 run to end the game. (Image courtesy of http://www.sbnation.com/college-basketball/2012/12/31/3823022/michigan-st-minnesota-final-score)
Minnesota beat Michigan State thanks to a 25-8 run to end the game. (Image courtesy of http://www.sbnation.com/college-basketball/2012/12/31/3823022/michigan-st-minnesota-final-score)

Colorado was set to hand No. 3 Arizona its first loss of the season thanks to a career night from senior guard Sabatino Chen. Arizona came back from a double digit deficit in the second half and Mark Lyons tied the game with a pair of free throws in the final seconds. Chen hit a pull up three with 00.1 seconds left to win the game and the referees ruled the shot good. Upon further review, they waived off the shot (which was determined in HD replay to have left Chen’s hands before the clock hit zero) and the Wildcats won in overtime.

The NFL Playoffs are under way

For the second year in a row, the Houston Texans ended the Cincinnati Bengals’ playoff hopes, leaving Cincinnati winless in the postseason since 1990. In a game in which the majority of the points were scored by the kickers, Houston dominated time of possession by having the ball for 38 minutes and 49 seconds. Arian Foster moved the chains for the Texans with 140 yards  and one touchdown on 32 carries. Andy Dalton did not target A.J. Green in the first half and the Bengals had -6 passing yards at halftime. Houston settled for field goals instead of touchdowns, which allowed Cincinnati to stay within striking distance but the Bengals struggled to put together a scoring drive in the fourth quarter.

Andy Dalton did not target A.J. Green in the first half against Houston. (Image courtesy of http://www.boston.com/sports/football/2013/01/04/picking-the-nfl-wild-card-winners/IltouiU0yasLRvDydm2TNK/story.html?pg=2)
Andy Dalton did not target A.J. Green in the first half against Houston. (Image courtesy of http://www.boston.com/sports/football/2013/01/04/picking-the-nfl-wild-card-winners/IltouiU0yasLRvDydm2TNK/story.html?pg=2)

Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback Christian Ponder did not start against the Green Bay Packers due to an elbow injury, making Joe Webb the first quarterback in NFL history to start a playoff game without throwing a pass in the regular season. Webb only took three snaps all season–two rushes and a kneel–but looked to beat Green Bay for the second time in as many weeks. The Vikings had the second fewest first half passing yards in NFL Playoff history (6) to only the Cincinnati Bengals, who set the dubious record just hours earlier. The Ponder-less Vikings could not keep pace with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense. Minnesota scored first with a field goal in the first quarter but surrendered 24 unanswered points, which was enough for the Packers to win at Lambeau Field.

Two long streaks end in the NBA

The Charlotte Bobcats ended an 18-game losing streak by beating the Chicago Bulls, who then beat the defending champions, the Miami Heat, in their next game.

In the meantime, the Los Angeles Clippers put together a 17-game win streak before falling to the Nuggets in Denver.

Kobe Bryant may be 34 years old but the Black Mamba still has some gas left in the tank for the Lakers. He posterized Chris Paul on a fast break in Friday nights matchup between the two Los Angeles teams. Kobe also joined Twitter this week, giving social media users insight into his life, including his acupuncture therapy and his love to challenge himself. You can follow him @kobebryant.

Kobe Bryant showed that he still has youth left despite being 34 years old. (Image courtesy of http://elitedaily.com/elite/2013/kobe-bryant-throws-nasty-dunk-chris-paul-video/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kobe-bryant-throws-nasty-dunk-chris-paul-video)
Kobe Bryant showed that he still has youth left despite being 34 years old. (Image courtesy of http://elitedaily.com/elite/2013/kobe-bryant-throws-nasty-dunk-chris-paul-video/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kobe-bryant-throws-nasty-dunk-chris-paul-video)

Oregon and Johnny Football shine in bowl wins

In a matchup that had national championship hopes late in the college football season, Oregon routed Kansas State and the Ducks didn’t take long to get on the board–De’Anthony Thomas returned the opening kickoff and Dion Jordan took a shovel pass into the end zone to give Oregon an 8-0 lead 12 seconds into the game. While the Wildcats had possession of the ball for six minutes more than the Ducks, Oregon outgained Kansas State by 102 yards. The strangest play of the game was when Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota rushed for a touchdown but Alejandro Maldonado’s extra point attempt was blocked, a Kansas State played grabbed the ball and pitched it to a teammate in the end zone and the Wildcat player was tackled for a one-point safety in favor of Oregon. Oregon won the Fiesta Bowl 35-17.

Johnny Manziel backed up his Heisman Trophy winning regular season with an impressive bowl game performance. Manziel had over 500 yards of total offense along with 2 rushing and 2 passing touchdowns as No. 9 Texas A&M defeated No. 11 Oklahoma 41-13 in the Cotton Bowl.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sports.Eat.Sleep.Repeat.!

Tommy Tuberville Did What?

On December 6, University of Cincinnati head football coach Butch Jones rejected an offer from the University of Colorado and reportedly signed a five-year deal with the University of Tennessee that is worth roughly $13.5 million. It is a classic example of the coaching carousel that exists in college athletics. Coaches have success at smaller schools and as assistant coaches until they can work their way up to head coaching positions at bigger programs. Both Butch Jones and Brian Kelly, Jones’ predecessor who is now at Notre Dame, came to UC from Central Michigan University.

However, Cincinnati’s new coach, Tommy Tuberville, who previously coached for three seasons at Texas Tech University, downgraded to join the Bearcats. The Big East is a dying conference. Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Louisville are on their way out of the conference to join the ACC. Rutgers is leaving for the Big Ten. Four of the top five teams in conference will be gone within the next few years.

Tommy Tuberville was in a good situation at Texas Tech and inexplicably left for the University of Cincinnati. (Image courtesy of http://blog.newsok.com/ou/2012/10/02/tommy-tuberville-and-his-players-preview-the-ou-tech-game/)
Tommy Tuberville was in a good situation at Texas Tech and inexplicably left for the University of Cincinnati. (Image courtesy of http://blog.newsok.com/ou/2012/10/02/tommy-tuberville-and-his-players-preview-the-ou-tech-game/)

 

Boise State, San Diego State, Central Florida, Memphis, Houston, SMU, and Navy are set to join the conference in the near future, which will turn the Big East into the second Conference USA. The conference is becoming a hodgepodge of teams that are unable to join the likes of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, or SEC. The foundation of the Big East is becoming unstable as the pillars (Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and West Virginia) are leaving or have already left. When the dust from conference realignment has settled, the Big East may no longer exist and it is not the conference of which the University of Cincinnati wants to be a member as it makes its plans for the future.

Tuberville’s decision to take over a 9-3 Cincinnati team does not make sense. Texas Tech is in a good position for the future. The Big 12 is thriving with talented and powerful athletic programs such as Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas, and Baylor. Even though the Red Raiders finished seventh in the conference this season, they finished the regular season with a 7-5 record and will face Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on December 28. Being mediocre in one of the best conferences carries much more weight than having eight, nine, and 10 win seasons when UC’s toughest competition in the conference will be Boise State and Navy. Plus, Tuberville is moving halfway across the country to a region with which he is not nearly as familiar. In his coaching career, Tommy Tuberville has always lived in the South. While at Arkansas State, Miami (FL), Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Auburn, and Texas Tech, his recruiting was focused in a completely different region of the country.

Tuberville brings a 130-77 record, 7-3 record in bowl games, an SEC Championship, and lots of questions to Cincinnati. Unless he knows something about the future of the Cincinnati Bearcats or the Big East that has not yet been announced, his choice to leave Lubbock, Tex. is highly questionable.

2012 Heisman Trophy Breakdown

Entering the 2012 college football season, USC quarterback Matt Barkley, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, and South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore were the early frontrunners to take home the Heisman Trophy.

Humbling losses, season-ending injuries, and underproduction took the preseason favorites out of the running. Then, Geno Smith took the reigns after leading West Virginia to a 5-0 start, with 24 touchdowns and no interceptions during that span. Smith seemed to be destined to earn a spot as a Heisman finalist after a 70-63 win over Baylor when he completed 45 of his 51 passes for 656 yards and eight touchdowns. The senior from Miami, Fl. fell out of the lead for the Heisman Trophy after West Virginia lost five consecutive games.

That’s when the three Heisman Trophy finalists, Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o, and Kansas State senior quarterback Collin Klein, took over. With the Heisman Trophy presentation on Saturday, December 8 at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square in New York City, here is a look at the three finalists:

Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel beat opponents with his arm and his legs all season long. (Image courtesy of http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/college-sports/texas-aggies/20120917-writer-texas-am-s-johnny-manziel-looks-like-a-potential-heisman-candidate-down-the-road.ece.)
Johnny Manziel beat opponents with his arm and his legs all season long. (Image courtesy of http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/college-sports/texas-aggies/20120917-writer-texas-am-s-johnny-manziel-looks-like-a-potential-heisman-candidate-down-the-road.ece.)

The Good

3,419 passing yards, 1,181 rushing yards, 41 touchdowns, and a 29-24 victory on the road against No. 1 Alabama is quite an impressive resumé for a redshirt freshman. Johnny Football’s stats compare to the likes of Tim Tebow and Cam Newton, both of whom are former SEC quarterbacks who won the Heisman. When Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy his sophomore season at Florida, he threw for 3,286 yards, rushed for 895, and had 55 combined passing and rushing touchdowns. Cam Newton threw for 2,854 yards, ran for 1,473, and scored a combined 51 touchdowns in his Heisman Trophy winning season.

The Aggies finished the regular season ninth in the BCS standings after a 10-2 season and tied for the second best conference record in the SEC at 6-2.

The Bad

Manziel had two weak performances in Texas A&M’s two losses, both of which were at home to SEC opponents. He completed 23 of his 30 passes for 173 yards and ran for sixty yards and a touchdown against Florida in the Aggies’ season opener. However, for being his first career college football game and losing to an 11-1 Florida Gators team, his performance shouldn’t affect his Heisman chances. His game against LSU, however, carries a bit more weight. Manziel completed just over half of his 56 passes, threw three interceptions, and was limited to 27 yards on 17 carries.

No freshman has ever won the Heisman Trophy, which puts a damper on Manziel’s odds to take home the most glorified award in college football.

Manti Te’o 

Manti Te'o has been Notre Dame's leader on defense, which has held opponents to an average of 10.3 points per game. (Image courtesy of http://www.ibtimes.com/sportsnet/notre-dame-football-news-manti-teo-propaganda-kicking-high-gear-903392)
Manti Te’o has been Notre Dame’s leader on defense, which has held opponents to an average of 10.3 points per game. (Image courtesy of http://www.ibtimes.com/sportsnet/notre-dame-football-news-manti-teo-propaganda-kicking-high-gear-903392)

The Good

Manti Te’o is the feel-good story of the college football season, which can only improve his chances of winning the Heisman Trophy. Te’o was one of most highly sought after high school football recruits in the country for the 2009 class. He could have chosen to go to college reasonably close to his home state of Hawaii by choosing the University of Southern California or Brigham Young University but he ended up signing at the University of Notre Dame.

In his senior season, he made 81 tackles and was tied for second in college football with seven interceptions. Te’o has been the leader of a Notre Dame defense that holds opponents to an average of 10.3 points per game, which is the best in the country.

Te’o had to endure the loss of his grandmother and his girlfriend in the span of twenty-four hours in the week before the Fighting Irish faced Michigan. He promised his girlfriend that he would not miss a game despite anything that happened to her while she had leukemia and finished the game with eight tackles and two interceptions.

Te’o has been the face of Notre Dame’s return to glory and they have done so because of their stingy defense.

The Bad

Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson is the only defensive player to win the Heisman since its creation in 1935. However, Woodson was a punt returner and occasionally played snaps on offense for the Wolverines. When he won the Heisman Trophy in 1997, he scored on a punt return, had 14 plays from scrimmage for 246 yards and three touchdowns on offense, had 44 tackles, and intercepted eight passes on defense. Michigan, similarly to Notre Dame in 2012, went 12-0 during the regular season. The Wolverines were the Associated Press national champions that year.

Collin Klein 

Kansas State's lone loss to Baylor caused Collin Klein's Heisman chances to take a serious hit. (Image courtesy of http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/gabriel_baumgaertner/11/04/kansas-state-oregon-alabama-week-10/index.html)
Kansas State’s lone loss to Baylor caused Collin Klein’s Heisman chances to take a serious hit. (Image courtesy of http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/gabriel_baumgaertner/11/04/kansas-state-oregon-alabama-week-10/index.html)

The Good

The Kansas State quarterback led the No. 5 Wildcats to an 11-1 record, with the team’s only loss coming against Baylor on the road. Klein is a dual-threat quarterback who excelled in passing and rushing the ball this season. He completed two-thirds of his 272 passes for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns while also running for 890 yards and 22 scores. K-State had five victories over ranked opponents, including a 24-19 victory on the road against No. 6 Oklahoma.

The Bad

If Klein had led the Wildcats to an undefeated season and an appearance in the BCS National Championship, then he more than likely would have been the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. However, Kansas State’s lone slip up took them out of position to compete for a national championship and it also killed Collin Klein’s chances to win the Heisman. His stats are greatly diminished because of Johnny Manziel’s astronomic passing and rushing numbers. Plus, Manziel’s signature win against Alabama carries much greater weight than Kansas State’s defeat of an Oklahoma team that has done nothing but fallen lower in the polls this entire season.

The Verdict

History will be made on Saturday. The Heisman Trophy will be awarded to a freshman or a player who takes snaps solely on defense for the first time in its history; Collin Klein deserves to make the trip to New York City as a finalist but his chances of winning are slim to none.

Manti Te’o has a Heisman Trophy worthy story: leaving Hawaii for the continental U.S. to play great football for four years, overcoming two major deaths in the span of a day, leading the revival of Notre Dame football, and captaining the toughest defense to score against in the country. I won’t be surprised if a filmmaker in Hollywood makes a movie about Te’o’s life someday. It’s hard not to like Manti Te’o with his fiery passion for the game of football as well as his love of his family and the Notre Dame community. If voters feel the tugs at their heartstrings by his life story, then he could take home some hardware on Saturday.

According to Heisman.com, “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.”

Without a doubt, Manti Te’o fits that description. Johnny Manziel’s arrest and misdemeanor charges last June of disorderly conduct, failure to identify, and possession of a fictitious driver’s license does not live up to the integrity portion of the Heisman Trophy’s mission. However, this should not make or break his ability to win the award, which is supposed to be awarded on the merits of one’s play on the football field.

In the end, this is Johnny Manziel’s Heisman Trophy to lose. He has put up numbers comparable to Tim Tebow and Cam Newton in their Heisman-winning seasons as well as he gave Alabama its only blemish on its 2012 campaign up to this point in the season.

Food for Thought

If Manti Te’o does not win the Heisman this year, then a defensive player may never win the trophy again. He is the best player on the only undefeated team in the country, which is a perfect storm that is unlikely to happen frequently and his inability (assuming he doesn’t win) to win the trophy with the season he had in 2012 would set a precedent for the future