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College World Series 2013: Most Dangerous Teams Heading to Omaha

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LSU won the College World Series in 2009 and the Tigers have won six titles since 1991.  (Elsa/Getty Images)
LSU won the College World Series in 2009 and the Tigers have won six titles since 1991.
(Elsa/Getty Images)

Five baseball teams punched their tickets to the 2013 College World Series over the weekend after winning two games in the super regional round.

Several familiar faces secured their spots in Omaha, Neb. with wins on Saturday, including LSU (16 appearances) and UCLA (19 appearances).

Sunday was a day for the history books for several college baseball programs that are new to the CWS.

After advancing to the super regional round for the first time in school history, Indiana made the College World Series after defeating the No. 7 national seed Florida State on the road in Tallahassee, Fla.

The Louisville Cardinals defeated the No. 2 national seed Vanderbilt to advance to theCWS for only the second time in school history.

North Carolina State will play in Omaha for the second time ever, with the Wolfpack’s last appearance coming in 1968.

The remaining three super regional victors will be crowned on Monday night with the opening games of the CWS beginning on Saturday.

As the eight-team championship field takes shape, college baseball fans should be aware of LSU, Indiana and North Carolina State–three teams that will be especially dangerous in Omaha.

Only the University of Southern California has won more College World Series titles than LSU’s six championships. The Tigers won their first CWS in 1991 with their most recent coming in 2009. No other school has won more than two during that stretch, which means LSU has built its own modern-day dynasty in college baseball.

On an annual basis, LSU expects to make it to Omaha and the Tigers expect nothing short of a championship once they’re there.

LSU is 17-6 against ranked opponents this season and the Tigers only lost one series all year.

By playing in the SEC, the Tigers have more experience against NCAA tournament teams than most of the other Omaha-bound teams. The SEC led the country with nine teams in the 64-team tournament.

LSU is one of the most dangerous teams in the College World Series because it has a strong pitching staff and defense to go along with its depth in its batting order.

The Tigers’ top three starting pitchers are 27-3 this season, which means that they can have an ace on the mound in each game of a three-game series.

Through 66 games this season, LSU has committed only 51 errors compared to its opponents’ 96. The Tigers field the ball cleanly and limit costly mistakes in the field that can come back to bite them.

On offense, five LSU starters are batting .315 or higher. Eight starters have 30 or more RBI and on average, the Tigers strike out fewer than six times per game, which means they put the ball in play and give themselves more opportunities to score.

LSU’s success in the 2013 MLB Draft sums up why the Tigers are a title contender in Omaha. Nine current LSU players were drafted, five of which were selected in the first 10 rounds.

While the SEC is considered a powerhouse conference in college baseball, the Big Ten’s glory days were in the 1960s. Ohio State was the last Big Ten team to win the College World Series when the Buckeyes won in 1966. The last Big Ten team to advance to Omaha was Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin’s Michigan squad in 1984.

The Indiana Hoosiers are breaking stereotypes this year. IU had an 18-game winning streak this season and is currently undefeated in the NCAA tournament.

The Hoosiers are even more dangerous because they won their season series against Louisville, who they play in the first round in Omaha. Overall, Indiana is 12-4 against teams who made the NCAA tournament.

Collegiate Baseball Newspaper recognized three IU players–sophomore catcher Kyle Schwarber, redshirt sophomore pitcher Aaron Slegers and junior infielder DustinDeMuth–as All-Americans.

The Hoosiers hit for both average and power, which makes them so dangerous. They have a team batting average of .305 and have hit 53 home runs, 18 of which have come off the bat of Schwarber.

IU has a team ERA of 2.67. Opposing batters are hitting only .249 against Indiana with 18 home runs.

In a season of firsts–the first year of Indiana’s multi-million dollar Bart Kaufman Field, the first time hosting a regional as well as the first time to advance to a super regional and the College World Series–the Hoosiers are a threat to win the NCAA title this season.

The North Carolina State Wolfpack is entering the CWS as one of the hottest teams in college baseball. In its last 117 innings, North Carolina State has lost only once when it lost 2-1 to No. 1 North Carolina in 18 innings.

The Wolfpack also rattled off a 15-game win streak in April so when they get on a roll, as they are now, they are hard to beat.

North Carolina State is led by sophomore pitcher Carlos Rodon, who leads the country in strikeouts with 170. Rodon is 9-2 this season and opposing hitters have a .201 batting average against him.

The Wolfpack also has a pair of shutdown closers in its bullpen. Chris Overman and Grant Sasser, who have a 0.34 and 1.10 ERA, respectively, have combined for 14 saves this season.

Trea Turner is a five-tool player for North Carolina State and he is their most productive offensive player. He is hitting .378 this season with seven home runs, 41 RBI, a .460 OBP and 27 stolen bases. Turner is a terror on the base paths, stealing 57 bases in 61 attempts last season, and he has scored a team-high 65 runs this year.

When the eight teams begin College World Series play in Omaha, will the experience of a college baseball juggernaut, such as LSU, North Carolina, South Carolina or Oregon State, prevail? Or, will there be a changing of the guard as one of the new teams to Omaha makes a title run?

Unfortunately, LSU and UCLA are matched up in the first round as well as Indiana and Louisville, which means there will be limited opportunities for a Midwest vs. South/West Coast match up.

Wichita State advanced to the finals in the 1993 College World Series but since then, every team to do so was from a warm weather climate.

The programs with the appropriate weather to play baseball year round and the history of success in Omaha are more likely to be successful, which is why I think either LSU, the winner of North Carolina vs. South Carolina or Oregon State (if the Beavers beat Kansas State) will win the College World Series.

However, Indiana has proven that it is a different breed of a Big Ten team compared to the conference’s reputation over the past forty years, which is why I expect the Hoosiers to be among the final four teams in Omaha.

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.

College basketball stock report: 5 teams to buy, sell or hold

Illinois

SELL

The Fighting Illini started the season 12-0 and defeated No. 10 Gonzaga on the road by double digits. However, since Illinois’ victory over Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 16, John Groce’s squad is 3-5 and 2-4 in the Big Ten. The Illini lost to unranked Purdue, Wisconsin and Northwestern, which does not bode well since their schedule will only get tougher as the season progresses. They still have to play Michigan twice, Indiana and Michigan State for the first time, in addition to rematches against Minnesota and Ohio State.

Michigan State

BUY

It's a good time to be in East Lansing, Mich. as Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans sit atop the Big Ten standings with a 6-1 record. (Image courtesy of http://wkzo.com/news/articles/2012/sep/24/msu-basketball-coach-tom-izzo-guest-speaker-at-kalamazoo-benefit/)
It’s a good time to be in East Lansing, Mich. since Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans sit atop the Big Ten standings with a 6-1 record. (Image courtesy of http://wkzo.com/news/articles/2012/sep/24/msu-basketball-coach-tom-izzo-guest-speaker-at-kalamazoo-benefit/)

The Spartans were on the verge of dropping out of the AP Top 25 after three losses in the 2012 calendar year. Michigan State’s challenging non-conference schedule paid off; Tom Izzo’s squad is leading the Big Ten with a two game lead over Michigan and Indiana. Three of Michigan State’s Big Ten wins are by three points or fewer, which separates great teams from the good ones in March.

 Oregon

BUY

The Ducks sit alone at the top of the Pac-12 standings after defeating No. 24 UCLA last Saturday. Arizona and UCLA only appear once on Oregon’s schedule, which means there are no ranked opponents remaining on the Ducks’ schedule. Oregon is in the driver’s seat to win the Pac-12 now that the team’s biggest challenges are in the Ducks’ rearview mirror.

Wisconsin

HOLD

Bo Ryan’s Badgers are a very perplexing team. Wisconsin lost four of its first 10 games then rattled off seven consecutive wins, including victories over No. 12 Illinois and No. 2 Indiana. After defeating the Hoosiers in Assembly Hall, the Badgers dropped two games to Iowa and Michigan State by a total of six points. Wisconsin has the coach and the talent to finish in the top three in the Big Ten or the Badgers could end up sixth or seventh. They have been too inconsistent to determine how good they can be in college basketball’s toughest conference.

Xavier

BUY

The 2012-13 Musketeers are possibly one of the weakest Xavier teams in the past decade and most Atlantic 10 projections have Xavier as a middle-of-the-road team in the conference yet Semaj Christon & Co. have started to turn their season around in conference play. Don’t look now but Xavier is tied with Virginia Commonwealth for first place. The Muskies have pulled out close wins against Temple, St. Bonaventure and La Salle after losing four straight games in non-conference play. They don’t play VCU and Butler until late in the season, which means that Xavier has over a month to improve before it faces two of the A-10’s best teams.

The Top 15 College Basketball Programs Based on Current NBA Players

A discussion with my friends Braxton and Max last night about which college basketball program has the best current professional players inspired me to go through the current players in the NBA and find the top fifteen programs. I ranked the teams based on the number of players currently in the league and their level of production over an extended period of time. Duke took the number one spot because there are 17 former Blue Devils in the NBA and many of them are major contributors on their teams (or at least they were when they were in their primes).

Duke has nearly twenty former players in the NBA and many of them put up big numbers at the highest level. (Image courtesy of http://www.forbes.com/pictures/emdm45efll/4-duke-blue-devils/)
Duke has nearly twenty former players in the NBA and many of them put up All-Star level numbers. (Image courtesy of http://www.forbes.com/pictures/emdm45efll/4-duke-blue-devils/)

1Duke University

Luol Deng-17.7 ppg 7.0 rpg 2.8 apg/43 career playoff appearances/1-time NBA All-Star

Carlos Boozer-14.4 ppg 9.8 rpg 2.0 apg/66 career playoff appearances/2-time NBA All-Star

Shane Battier-6.8 ppg 2.3 rpg 44.2 3P%/74 career playoff appearances/NBA Champion/All-Rookie First Team

J.J. Redick-14.2 ppg 2.3 rpg 4.9 apg/44 career playoff appearances

Kyrie Irving-23.6 ppg 3.7 rpg 5.5 apg/2012 NBA Rookie of the Year

Elton Brand-Career averages of 18.0 ppg 9.3 rpg 50 FG%/30 career playoff appearances

Kyle Singler

Austin Rivers

Dahntay Jones

Chris Duhon

Mike Dunleavy Jr.

Gerald Henderson

Corey Maggette

Josh McRoberts

Miles Plumlee

Nolan Smith

Lance Thomas

2. University of North Carolina

Vince Carter

Raymond Felton

Ty Lawson

Danny Green

Marvin Williams

Harrison Barnes

Ed Davis

Antawn Jamison

Rasheed Wallace

Jerry Stackhouse

Tyler Hansbrough

Wayne Ellington

Brendan Haywood

John Henson

Kendall Marshall

Tyler Zeller

Brandan Wright

3. University of Connecticut

Ray Allen

Kemba Walker

Rudy Gay

Ben Gordon

Caron Butler

Emeka Okafor

Andre Drummond

Hasheem Thabeet

Jeff Adrien

Richard Hamilton

Jeremy Lamb

A.J. Price

Charlie Villanueva

4. University of California at Los Angeles

Russell Westbrook

Kevin Love

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

Arron Afflalo

Darren Collison

Matt Barnes

Trevor Ariza

Jrue Holiday

Ryan Hollins

Malcolm Lee

Earl Watson

5. University of Kentucky

Rajon Rondo

DeMarcus Cousins

Brandon Knight

Tayshaun Prince

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Eric Bledsoe

Jodie Meeks

Enes Kanter

Chuck Hayes

Keith Bogans

Darius Miller

Anthony Davis

Josh Harrellson

Terrence Jones

Doron Lamb

DeAndre Liggins

Nazr Mohammed

Daniel Orton

Patrick Patterson

John Wall

6. Wake Forest University

Tim Duncan

Chris Paul

Jeff Teague

Al-Farouq Aminu

James Johnson

Josh Howard

Ishmael Smith

7. University of Florida

Joakim Noah

David Lee

Al Horford

Corey Brewer

Udonis Haslem

Chandler Parsons

Bradley Beal

Marreese Speights

Mike Miller

Matt Bonner

8. University of Texas

Kevin Durant

LaMarcus Aldridge

Tristan Thompson

P.J. Tucker

Daniel Gibson

Jordan Hamilton

Royal Ivey

Corey Joseph

Dexter Pittman

9. Marquette University

Dwyane Wade

Wesley Matthews

Steve Novak

Jae Crowder

Jimmy Butler

Darius Johnson-Odom

10. Kansas University

Paul Pierce

Mario Chalmers

Kirk Hinrich

Nick Collison

Markieff Morris

Marcus Morris

Thomas Robinson

Cole Aldrich

Darrell Arthur

Drew Gooden

Xavier Henry

Brandon Rush

Josh Selby

Tyshawn Taylor

11. Syracuse University

Carmelo Anthony

Wesley Johnson

Kris Joseph

Dion Waiters

Hakim Warrick

12. University of Arizona

Andre Iguodala

Jason Terry

Jerryd Bayless

Chase Budinger

Jordan Hill

Richard Jefferson

Luke Walton

Derrick Williams

13. Georgia Institute of Technology

Chris Bosh

Thaddeus Young

Jarrett Jack

Will Bynum

Derrick Favors

Anthony Morrow

Iman Shumpert

14. University of Washington

Isaiah Thomas

Nate Robinson

Spencer Hawes

Quincy Pondexter

Terrence Ross

Will Conroy

Brandon Roy

Tony Wroten

15. Georgetown University

Greg Monroe

Roy Hibbert

Jeff Green

The Second Edition of American Student Radio’s “Sportsmanlike Conduct”

In November, I assisted with the second production of American Student Radio show “Sportsmanlike Conduct” with hosts Brian Walsh and John Steele, as well as Indiana Daily Student men’s basketball columnist Mike Norman. We discussed the NCAA rulings on UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad and Indiana University freshmen Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea, the Los Angeles Lakers firing Mike Brown, and a variety of other sports topics.

Instant Reactions to Indiana’s 82-72 Overtime Win against Georgetown

3 Ways in which Indiana Will Have to Improve in Order to Beat Georgetown

Indiana may have been caught looking ahead to its second game in the Progressive Legends Classic Monday night when the Hoosiers faced the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia won its season opener against Jacksonville but dropped two straight games to Youngstown State and Southern Mississippi before traveling to New York City. The Hoosiers were trailing Georgia for most of the first half and it wasn’t until Cody Zeller made a jumper with 12:21 to play in the second half that Indiana had more than a three point lead. From that point on, Indiana pulled away thanks to senior guard Jordan Hulls’ 11 points in the final nine minutes of the game. The Hoosiers’ largest lead was 17 points and they won 66-53 in what was a very ugly game, especially in the first half.

Victor Oladipo’s eleven second half points provided the Indiana Hoosiers a spark in their 66-53 victory over Georgia. Courtesy of http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/gametracker/recap/NCAAB_20121119_IND@UGA/no-1-indiana-holds-off-georgia.

Indiana and Georgia committed 17 and 19 fouls, respectively. Both teams turned the ball over 12 times but neither team could execute its transition offense to turn steals into easy buckets. In the first half, there were six stretches of at least one minute where Indiana and Georgia traded missed shots, fouls, and turnovers. The Hoosiers came out of halftime with new life and never gave Georgia a glimpse of hope in the second half. Indiana will take on the Georgetown Hoyas, who defeated No. 11 UCLA in their first round matchup, at 10 PM tonight and the Hoosiers will have to improve their quality of play if they want to return to Bloomington, Ind. with a perfect record and a Legends Classic title.

1. Get Cody Zeller the ball in the paint. 

The preseason Player of the Year was nowhere to be found against Georgia. He played 27 minutes but only took four shots and finished the game with six points and four rebounds. Cody Zeller will have a size advantage in almost every game this season and Indiana needs to use those mismatches to its advantage. He attempts and makes very high percentage shots. The Hoosiers’ center has made 72% of his field goal attempts through four games. Zeller was on the bench for a significant amount of time in the first half against Georgia because he committed two early fouls but he needs to be a greater presence against Georgetown. The Hoyas have a talented frontcourt between Greg Whittington, Mikael Hopkins, Nate Lubick, and Otto Porter, all of whom are 6’8″ or 6’9″. The foursome accounts for an average of 43 points and 26 rebounds per game, which means that Zeller will need to stay out of foul trouble so that he can match up against a long Georgetown team.

2. Improve its shot selection and make the extra pass.

In the first half, Indiana was guilty on several occasions of coming down the court and not even attempting to run an offense. Georgia was shooting, and missing, lots of three point attempts and the Hoosiers followed suit to a lesser extent. Jordan Hulls is a reliable and high percentage three point shooter but he’s at his best when his shots from behind the arc are within the flow of the offense. The Hoosiers have great passing ability but their offense is not effective when they settle for the first open shot. A forced three from Will Sheehey or a fourteen-foot turn around fadeaway from Zeller are not the ideal shot attempts for Indiana.

3. Score in transition and find ways to get Victor Oladipo involved.

One of Indiana’s greatest strengths is scoring in transition. The Hoosiers have a roster than forces a lot of turnovers and can run the court. Victor Oladipo might be a phenomenal athlete who happens to play basketball rather than a basketball player who is a good athlete. He is at his best when he turns a steal or a blocked shot into a fast break that ends with him bringing the house down on a thunderous dunk. When Oladipo is harassing the other team on defense and making highlight reel worthy dunks, the Hoosiers become more energized and Indiana’s fans step up their enthusiasm from the stands. The turning point in the Georgia game was when he scored seven straight points for Indiana, which included two big dunks on offense.

And Then There was One

Entering Week 12 of the college football season, there were three undefeated teams sitting atop the rankings: Kansas State, Oregon, and Notre Dame. By the end of Saturday, only the Fighting Irish were left.

Kansas State was pummeled on the road by Baylor 52-24. It was the difference in the two rushing attacks that determined the outcome of the game. The Wildcats collected only seventy-six yards on the ground and averaged 2.5 yards per carry. Baylor amassed 342 yards on the ground and the Bears’ running backs scored five touchdowns. Heisman hopeful Collin Klein was just mediocre when his team needed him to be great. He completed 27 of his 50 pass attempts for 286 yards. He threw two touchdowns and ran for another but threw three interceptions.

Baylor emerged victorious against the No. 1 Kansas State Wildcats. Courtesy of http://collegefootball.ap.org/columbian/content/baylor-beats-kansas-41-14-1st-big-12-victory-0.

After Kansas State had fallen, the Oregon Ducks had their chance to claim the No. 1 spot in the polls. However, the Stanford Cardinal were too much for the mighty Oregon offense to overcome. Stanford’s defense held Oregon to an uncharacteristically low 405 total yards. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota led the team in rushing with 89 yards on twelve carries, but 77 of those yards came from one long run. Kenjon Barner was held to three yards per rush and gathered only 66 rushing yards on the night. De’Anthony Thomas had the Ducks’ only rushing touchdown and the team’s best average yards per carry but only had seven carries against Stanford. Both teams had opportunities to take control of the game. Stanford had four turnovers and a missed field goal. The Ducks turned the ball over three times and missed one field goal in regulation. With the game tied at fourteen apiece, Oregon and Stanford went into overtime. Oregon was on offense first but could only advance one yard in three plays before Alejandro Maldonado missed a 41 yard field goal. Oregon had a glimpse of hope when Kiko Alonso forced a fumble when Stanford had the ball at Oregon’s 23 yard line but the Cardinal recovered the football. On 4th and 5, Jordan Williamson kicked the game-winning 37 yard field goal, knocking off the No. 2 Oregon Ducks.

De’Anthony Thomas and the Oregon offense were held in check by Stanford. Courtesy of http://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2012/11/17/3657188/college-football-tv-schedule-oregon-stanford-usc-ucla.

Notre Dame had no trouble defeating Wake Forest 38-0 and will move up two spots to the No. 1 position. The Fighting Irish will be in control of their own destiny from here on out. They travel to Los Angeles, Calif. to take on the struggling USC Trojans, who lost to UCLA 38-28 in Week 12. If Notre Dame finishes the season undefeated, it will have the opportunity to win its first national championship in football since 1988, when it defeated West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl.

Who Notre Dame would play in the BCS National Championship remains a mystery. Kansas State, Oregon, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida are one-loss teams that will come after Notre Dame in the rankings and it may depend on who the computers select to be the No. 2 team when the regular season is over.

Adding Insult to Injury

Shortly after the NCAA ruled Indiana University freshmen basketball players Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea inieligible for the first nine games of the season for illegal payments by an athletic booster, UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad was ruled ineligible for the entire season for receiving impermissible gifts. Both schools appealed the rulings and the NCAA has only processed UCLA’s appeal. On Friday night, Shabazz Muhammad was reinstated for the remainder of the season, just in time for the Legends Classic in New York. The Bruins will face the Georgetown Hoyas on Monday and either Indiana or Georgia on Tuesday.

Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea are suspended for the first nine games of the season and the NCAA has not heard IU’s appeal.

The NCAA stated that Muhammad had received “travel expenses and lodging during unofficial visits during his recruitment” to Duke and North Carolina, according to ESPN Los Angeles’ Peter Yoon. A friend of the Muhammad family, financial advisor Benjamin Lincoln, was the individual who paid for the expenses.

The freshman’s punishment is that he must pay back roughly $1,600 and the three games that he has already missed this season will serve as his suspension.

Compare Shabazz Muhammad’s case to those of Jurkin and Mosquera-Perea. They are suspended for nine games because their AAU coach and legal guardian Mark Adams’ ex-wife paid for $185 worth of Indiana University alumni car bumper stickers before the players were even born, which makes Adams an athletic booster.

The NCAA has dug itself into a hole. Both cases were similar in that the NCAA determined freshmen players received illegal payments. Going by the letter of the law, Indiana’s players deserve to be suspended since Adams is technically an athletic booster. However, when considering the intent or the spirit of the law, it is absurd that Jurkin and Mosquera-Perea are ineligible for bumper stickers that were purchased before they were born. The NCAA could give the same ruling to IU and UCLA—either the players are all suspended or all eligible—or Indiana’s freshmen forwards are eligible while Muhammad is still ineligible. Instead, they made the one wrong decision when comparing these two cases, which lets Muhammad walk free with minimal punishment while Indiana University tries to make sense of the ruling.

How can twenty-year-old bumper stickers be worse in the NCAA’s eyes than monetary assistance from a close family friend who happens to be a financial adviser?

If Indiana and UCLA play each other on Tuesday in the championship game of the Legends Classic and IU’s suspensions have not been lifted, then this is a disgrace. The NCAA lacks standard procedures to determine the eligibility of college basketball players and the inconsistent decisions that it has made in recent years make no sense in relation to each other.

An Extremely Early 2013 Bracketology Report from ESPN’s Joe Lunardi

It is November 12. Some college basketball teams haven’t even had their season opener yet but it’s never too early for the man with the greatest job in the world, ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi, to hypothesize about what next spring’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will look like. Last Tuesday, he made his second bracket prediction of the year.

Joe Lunardi’s second bracket prediction of the 2012-13 season. Courtesy of http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/bracketology/_/year/2013.

Immediately, the strength of the Midwest Region stood out to me. The number one overall seeded Indiana Hoosiers are the best ranked team in the region. Florida is a No. 2 seed, North Carolina State is the No. 3 seed, followed by No. 4 Arizona, No. 5 Creighton, No. 6 Baylor, No. 7 Cincinnati, No. 8 Marquette, and No. 9 Saint Louis. Indiana and North Carolina State are national championship contenders, which is why it’s surprising that Lunardi has the Wolfpack as a No. 3 seed when they are currently No. 6 in the country. From top to bottom, the region is filled with dangerous teams that could knock off a lower seeded opponent. Florida will compete with Kentucky to be the best team in the SEC this year. Arizona will be at worst a Sweet Sixteen team but has Final Four potential if it the Wildcats get the right matchups. Creighton has preseason All-American forward Doug McDermott. Even the Cincinnati Bearcats can shock the nation thanks to its pair of high-scoring guards, Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright. Five of the teams in the Midwest Region are currently ranked in the top sixteen teams in the AP Top 25.

Joe Lunardi’s Midwest Region Prediction. Courtesy of http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/bracketology/_/year/2013.

The weakest region projection is by far the West Region. Ohio State is the No. 1 seed but the quality of the teams goes down in a hurry. Duke is the region’s No. 2 seed and has two future NBA Draft picks in Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry. UCLA is not nearly as intimidating now that freshman Shabazz Muhammad has been ruled ineligible for the entire season by the NCAA. UNLV and Gonzaga are not in one of the power six conferences, which means they won’t be tested nearly as much  and they may not deserve their rankings.

Joe Lunardi’s projected West Region as of November 6, 2012. Courtesy of http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/bracketology/_/year/2013.

College basketball is going to pick up this week, with Kentucky and Duke playing Tuesday night. Until the next bracketology update, enjoy the start of college basketball season and stay tuned for the next edition of Sports.Eat.Sleep.Repeat.