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Thursday Random Thoughts and Picks

- Iowa State apparently pulled a Michigan in last night's loss to Baylor and quit in the second half. Seemingly every week, some sort of the off-court problem pops up involving the Cyclones and embattled head coach Greg McDermott, so I think we can completely rule out Iowa State becoming an NCAA contender. Too bad for Northwestern since the talent is definitely there.

- NC State continues to struggle, falling to 2-6 in the ACC after last night's loss to Virginia. After the Wolfpack beat Duke, I was somewhat optimistic they might become a competitive ACC team, but it doesn't look like that win will boost Northwestern's resume at all. I saw some of the game and was impressed by the team effort of UVA under new coach Tony Bennett, it was like watching a Wisconsin game. Bennett has to be a national coach of the year candidate as out of nowhere he has Virginia on top of the ACC. I was also quite impressed by this dunk from UVA's Mustapha Farrakhan:








- So Notre Dame now appears to be the only at-large hope left of NU's 4 big name non-conference wins. The Irish are in a similar position to Northwestern right now, on the wrong side of the bubble but with some games coming up against the bottom of the conference. Of course, they lost to last place Rutgers in their most recent outing for their second indefensibly bad loss of the season (other was to Loyola Marymount). So Notre Dame needs to turn it around in a hurry to avoid a second straight trip to the NIT.

- I've been checking in occasionally with the always entertaining, and due to the aforementioned struggles of Northwestern's non-conference opponents, their RPI projects out even worse than it did when I broke this down in late December. Then, a 10-8 league record projected to an RPI of about 68, but now that same record figures to leave NU with an RPI of around 77. Someone in the comments recently mentioned that I put too much emphasis on RPI. I am aware that a lot more than just RPI goes into the selection committee's decision, however I do know that no team with an RPI of 77 or worse has ever gotten an at-large bid, and only two teams with an RPI of 70 or higher ever have (#74 New Mexico in 1999, #70 Air Force in 2004). So if the 'Cats finish up at 22-9, (10-8), they better hope their non-conference opponents start winning some games.

- Last night in the Big Ten, we saw two pretty ugly games, as Ohio State let Penn State hang around for a while before pulling away in the final minutes, and Illinois hung on against Iowa in what may have been the worst game of the year in conference play. It probably wasn't as bad as Iowa at Indiana last weekend, but it was terrible nonetheless. As for picks, I continue to stink it up, going 0-2.

Season records

Big Ten games: 29-22-2 (Note: in the past I've used this category as my record picking all Big Ten games minus Northwestern games, but that was confusing, so I'm changing it to all games including NU. This has nothing to do with being under .500 in non-NU games, and by nothing, I mean almost everything, but who's counting.)

Northwestern games: 12-2

Purdue at Indiana (+12.5), 6 PM, ESPN

This is one of the more bizarre lines of the season, as Indiana has been competitive at home all year. Purdue is a better team, but I refuse to give 12.5 points to anyone on the road in Big Ten play unless Kevin O'Neill is involved (how's that probation at USC working out for you O'Neill? You weasel, when the current crop of USC talent that you didn't recruit leaves, are you gonna take them to a winless season in league play and bolt for the NBA? I will never ever forgive O'Neill for that 0-16 in Big Ten play season, never.)

Pick: Indiana