Friday, February 23, 2007

The Final Countdown....

As noted by the illustrious blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, we here in snowy upstate NY are having some spare time. In the greatest rendition of Europe's classic (?) song, our 'Cuse faithful seem to know how to rock out in time for the stretch run.

Coming into this game against Providence, the boys are 19-8 (8-5) and looking to hit the 20 win plateau. Whether the number is quite as magic now as it used to be will remain to be seen come Selection Sunday. Ironically enough this match up seems to showcase two of the most prolific scoring teams and also the most horrific defensive teams in the conference. Providence comes in at #2 in scoring offense at 72.7ppg, while #14 on "D" giving up 70.2ppg. The Cuse contrarily is #3 on "O" at 71.7ppg, and gives up 69.2(#12). Rationally it should be a high flying affair.

We need some huge play from our big men this week, as Herbert Hill has shown himself as a force to be reckoned with in the post, and is 0.1ppg ahead of Nichols for the season scoring lead during BE play. The Friars are 2nd in the BE in rebounding margin (+5.4) and have shown that they can both shoot (Curry 1.9 3's/game) and work the ball in the post.

On top of this PC only has 2 home losses this season, the only conference home loss being to Nova. So the Dunkin' Donuts Center is a tough place to play. At the same time it is both "Black Out the Dunk" day (trying to get the crowd to wear black friars shirts) and Herbert Hill's Senior Day... It will be some strong opposition we are up against. At the same time, seems as though Mookie performs better against stronger big men (Gray, Mattis, Padgett), so if history stands, this will be a solid day from him. We seem to be synching a bit more on the perimeter and will need to to beat the 2-3 they're likely to throw at us. It isn't a bad match up on paper, so hopefully the intangibles will play out in our favor.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ah... Beer...

In a shameless plug for Northern NY, I have discovered a new favorite Pale Ale: Lake Placid Brewery's 46'er. Its a hearty pale, and it has enough of a hop bite to be quite tasty. Not quite as good as a Dogfish 90 minute IPA, but for solely a pale, I'd say its my top choice at the moment.

Big Weekend

Of course the one weekend of the year I'm not around the area is the Cuse vs. UConn extravaganza Rd. 2. While I was up freezing away and having a blast on Lake McRorie, the trusty Orange have again outdone themselves. With the dismantling of UConn, we are in a position to make a first round bye in the BET. Now I know as much as the next person that there is a good deal of if's and but's that need to occur in order for this to happen, but lets look at the possibilities:

Tied for 4th: #23 Notre Dame and #16 Marquette (9-5 in conference)

The irony being that come Saturday one of these teams will be knocked out as the two squads play each other. My personal feelings are that Marquette takes this one, though they have been slipping as of late, losing 3 of their last 4. If McNiel and James play a solid game, they can take this one. McNiel's defense is absolutely lock-down, and can handle Carter or Falls easily. At the same time, if Harangody has a game, I don't see any counter on the Golden Eagles to handle him.
Both teams have 2 remaining, with ND finishing at Rutgers and Marquette home vs. #8 Pitt. Therefore, ND will finish at 11-5, or 10-6 (assuming a W at Rutgers), and Marquette is looking at the same. For standings sake, we'll use my earlier prediction of Marquette winning and beating Pitt at home, putting MU at 11-5 and ND at 10-6.

3rd : Louisville (9-4)

I'm not gonna harp on the Cuse-LU debacle, due to the fact that I don't need an aneurysm, but the Cardinals are sitting quietly in 3rd with solid wins @ MU and @ Pitt. To top it off, they finish the season vs. St. Johns, @ UConn, and vs. Seton Hall. All three games should be winnable for the team, as that is the bottom of the Big East in a nutshell, without Rutgers and USF. The Cards have been hot as of late, and will win at least 2 out of their remaining. SJU or @UConn, which is always dangerous, being their one loss, with a final record of 11-4 in conference.

2nd : #12 Georgetown (10-2)

4 remaining games, @ Cincy, vs. Pitt, @ the Dome, and vs. UConn. I say the Hoyas split it. They've been hot as of late, and maybe I'm a Homer, but the Cuse has a chance if Mookie can neutralize Hibbert. So losses at Pitt and Cuse put them at 12-4.

1st : #8 Pittsburgh (11-2)

WIth 3 games left, 2 on the road, and all against ranked teams, @Gtown, vs. WVU, and @Marquette, I think the Panthers will still be able to take 2 and finish at 13-3, with the loss coming @ MU. In Gray they have a dominant big man, and play true team ball. Also if Fields gets hot from outside like he did against us, they could win out.

Potential Standings:
1. Pittsburgh (13-3)
2. Georgetown (12-4)
3. Louisville (11-4)
4. Marquette (11-5)
5. Notre Dame (10-6)

Where does that leave the Orange?
Syracuse (8-5)
Games Remaining: @ Providence (7-6), vs. GTown, @ Nova (6-7)

Winning all three would put us at 11-5, tied for 4th with Marquette, who we own the tiebreaker over. This is best case scenario, as we have a tough road ahead. Providence isn't a bad team by any stretch, GTown is a damn good team, and playing at Nova is never an easy thing to do. All in all I'm not at liberty to make a prediction, as there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to how the team plays on a given night, but I'd like to think that being on the bubble, we are starting to get a little fire under us and hopefully making a run... In order for a bye, we need to win out, or have alot of bricks fall into place.