There will be a ton of articles and posts about the performance Jimmer Fredette had last night. It was a spectacular showing by BYU in what could be their biggest game of the season...at least until they play at San Diego State in February. The atmosphere in that building was electric and it made me think about why it's so much easier to accept the cinderella in college basketball then in it's college counterpart football. All of the talking heads told people to watch this game tonight and have alerted the fans about the Butlers and Gonzagas of the world. We embraced George Mason during their run to the Final Four adopting them as our team of choice for that season. We all remember where we were when Bryce Drew hit that shot for Valpo. I was at school watching the game with a few others who were rooting for the other team.
Let's contrast that to college football who had their own version of cinderella in TCU and Boise State. Now the Horned Frogs got the royal treatment especially after they knocked off Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. The problem was that everyone tried to cut them down beforehand pointing out that they couldn't play with the big boys because of their weak schedule. Boise State got even worse treatment from the fans and many of the pundits who said that they couldn't handle the spotlight either. Putting these two against each other in the bowl games was an injustice. The BCS officials said that we should be happy that they were even in a BCS bowl game. They didn't want us to see Boise knock off another Oklahoma. Fast forward to this season and the HUGE sigh of relief that came up when Kyle Brotzman missed those kicks.
I don't think there are those sigh's of relief in college basketball. Sure there are those who say every conference shouldn't have a representative in the field of 68. Those people are quickly quieted down by the mere mention of the Butlers, George Masons and Hampton who knocked off Iowa State. I really wonder why college football can't embrace their cinderellas. You don't see Coach K complaining that they have to play Butler in the title game. This is another reason the NCAA Tournament is the most pure sporting event in America. One and done is the way to go. I don't need a five or seven game series to determine who is good enough to win the championship.
The gospel went 1-1 yesterday with the La Salle game being postponed to Thursday. La Salle is still a pick especially if they are at 3.5 again. For those who need their reasons, please see my column before this.
Furman -2 -- The Paladins hit the road to take on Western Carolina on Thursday. Furman is 15-5, 7-2 in the Southern Conference. They have won four straight and five of their last six games entering this one. They score 72.9 points per game while allowing a mere 64.5. The Paladins are led by Amu Saaka (17.2 ppg), Jordan Miller (12 ppg) and Noah States (11.9 ppg). Western Carolina is 8-12, 4-4 in the conference. They are scoring only 67.5 points per game while allowing just under 70 per game. The Catamounts are led by Mike Williams (14.7 ppg) and Trey Sumler (11.5 ppg). They got waxed by Charleston and Citadel last week losing by a combined 51 points to those two teams. Furman is 7-1 ATS as a favorite this season and 14-4 ATS the past three seasons. They are a covering machine this season and will do so once again.
Idaho -2 -- We're going back to the Vandals even though they let us down in the Boise State game. Idaho hits the road where they've won five straight games to take on woeful Louisiana Tech. The Vandals had a six game win streak snapped in a three point home loss to Boise State. Idaho has been mighty impressive though especially for a team that was picked to finish towards the bottom of the WAC standings in the preseason. They are led by Kyle Barone (11.2 ppg), Jeff Ledbetter (10.2 ppg), Deremy Geiger (10.1 ppg), Luiz Toledo (9.8 ppg) and Shawn Henderson (9.7 ppg). Louisiana Tech is still looking for their first conference win. The team struggles to score putting up only 66.6 points per contest. They are led by DeAndre Brown (16 ppg) and Olu Ashaolu (14.5 ppg). The first time these two teams played this season, the Vandals won 77-47. La Tech lost three straight home conference games to Fresno State, San Jose State and Hawaii from 1/6 to 1/15. The Bulldogs are shooting 38.2 percent in conference play. This has Idaho win written all over it.
Nevada -6.5 -- The Fresno State Bulldogs hope their last outing awakened a terrible offense. Fresno scored 39, 57 and 52 points in three straight conference losses before putting up 86 at home against Seattle. Fresno is at Nevada on Thursday. The two teams played a close in in Fresno on January 3rd with the Bulldogs winning 80-74. The Dogs have put up just 65.1 points per game this season which is 128th overall. Greg Smith (10.7 ppg) and Kevin Olekaibe (10.6 ppg) lead the way. Nevada is 7-13, 4-3 in the WAC. They put up almost 70 points per game, but allow 71.4. The team has multiple options on offense with Olek Czyz (13.8 ppg), Deonte Burton (13.4 ppg), Malik Story (13.4 ppg) and Dario Hunt (13.2 ppg) doing most of the grunt work. The Wolf Pack has won four of their last five at home winning the first two games of the homestand by 19 and eight points. They have won three straight overall and are playing better basketball then the last time these two met.