Day one of the post-Majerus era at ESPN did not go so well. Doug Gottlieb, whom I have praised in the past, botched a rule interpretation at the end of the DePaul/Northwestern game. He stated that the privilege of running the baseline on the throw-in after a made basket is lost after a second timeout. It sounds stupid and it was – Gottlieb was dead wrong. We all know Rick Majerus wouldn’t have screwed that up. Anyway, I guess I must move on. Sigh. It’s just so hard. To Gottlieb’s credit, he stuck to his guns, even though the official who would have made the call on a violation was Tim Higgins. The same Tim Higgins who has worked like 20 Final Fours.
Following up on yesterday’s post, where I singled out three conferences for their unusual performance so far, the Missouri Valley is finally getting attention from local scribes. The most substantive, fact-laden piece yesterday was written by Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star (link). I’m still waiting for the fluffy piece on the Sun Belt, or the one exposing the Mountain West as a true mid-major.
While the RPI is still not all that useful for individual teams at this point in the season, it is useful when evaluating conferences. Over the previous three seasons, it was rare for a conference to take a major jump or fall in the rankings between December 15th and the end of the season. Only three conferences ranked between 5th and 15th on 12/15 have made a move of four or more spots by the end of the season. That’s three out of 33 possibilities. So there’s little hope for the MWC, currently 15th, to crack the top ten, where they have resided in every year of their existence. And the MVC, currently seventh, is looking good for their first top ten finish since 1999.