I’ve been kind of distracted by work on the HD box score. Here’s Wednesday’s Ole Miss/LSU game, a 71-70 Rebel win in 60 (counted!) possessions. A decidedly bizarre game where Ole Miss (now leading the SEC West, kudos to Andy Kennedy) turned it over just four times but saw that advantage offset by LSU’s slightly better shooting and much better rebounding. I really preferred to run through Radford’s 114-107 win over VMI, but the Radford scorer’s table apparently gave up on tracking substitutions at some point in the second half. I don’t blame them.
I hardly pay attention to the opinion polls, but one poll I do think has merit is the very first one of the season. It’s when the games start being played that the polls go to crap. LSU is headed to the rare fate of being a preseason top 10 team, only to not make the tournament.
In “achievement/performance dichotomy” news, I’m not one for conspiracies, but I think there is one being orchestrated by Coach K. I mean, people just keep ragging on the Blue Devils. But consider that this team:
(a) arguably plays in the toughest conference in America,
(b) inarguably plays the toughest conference schedule in that conference, and then
(c) throw in a large dose of bad luck.
What you will get with any non-elite team in that scenario is a bunch of losses. Duke is not a great team, but they’re probably very good, and they will play 13 of their 16 conference games against teams that are currently deemed at large worthy by Joe Lunardi.
It won’t take much of a favorable draw for them to make the Sweet 16, and with a few breaks here and there they’ll make the Elite Eight. At which point you’ll have to hear what a wonderful job K has done with this ragtag group of six McDonald’s All-Americans. Oops, I mean castoffs that nobody else believed in.
If that scenario unfolds, I’d say the more logical explanation for the big surprise is found in (a), (b), and (c) above. Now, Duke could easily suffer the same fate as Kansas and Iowa last season – defensive minded teams that were knocked out in the first round. But they could also be like LSU or UCLA. And if the latter happens, I’m just warning you: The foundation has been laid for the biggest Coach K love-fest ever.
And finally, thanks to Dan Steinberg for his heart-rending story, er, blog post, on my life and times. I got more nice e-mail in a couple days than ever before. It goes to show that all you have to do is beg.