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Sully's Court: Rising with the Wildcats, falling with the Sun Devils

Posted by Joe Sullivan, Globe Staff  January 31, 2011 10:00 AM

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Five rising:
Arizona:
The Wildcats swept UCLA and Southern Cal at home and are 7-2 in the Pac-10, their best start since 2004-05.

Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers, coached by the man who can win anywhere, Cliff Ellis, have won 18 straight and are the first team in the country to win 20 games. .
Duquesne: The Dukes have won 10 straight after beating Dayton, 82-64, Sunday afternoon. Ron Everhart has a undersized, scrappy bunch that leads the nation with an average of 19.2 assists per game.

Virginia Commonwealth: Old reliable in the CAA, the Rams have won nine straight and are alone in first place.

Utah State:
The Aggies have won 15 straight and had to go to double overtime to win in Honolulu Saturday night. They're in at-large big territory now.

Five falling:
Arizona State:
Going the opposite way of its arch rival, the Sun Devils were swept at home by the LA schools, have lost six straight, and nine of 11.

Hofstra:
The Flying Dutchmen were tied for first in the CAA, but then lost at VCU and then returned home to lose to Drexel.

Illinois:
The Illini have lost four of five, including being upset at Indiana.

Miami:
The Hurricanes are sinking fast after losing at Virginia Tech Sunday. They've lost four in a row and six of seven.

Villanova:
The Wildcats lost at Providence and then couldn't beat Georgetown in Philly.

The week's Butler (best mid-major): Saint Mary's. The Gaels stick here despite losing two of their last three, both loses game on the road, Vanderbilt (always a tough place to play) and Portland (the Pilots are undefeated at home this season).

This week's Final Four: Pitt, Ohio State, Texas, Kansas. The Duke team I saw Sunday afternoon would not be Final Four caliber.

The week's national champion:
Pitt

My weekend viewing habits:

Lots of surfing so I saw parts of many, many games. Saw two half-court buzzer beaters, Weber State's Scott Bamford hitting one just past half-court to beat Northern Colorado 72-71; and Manhattan's Michael Alvarado heaving one up from beyond half-court to beat Marist, 60-59. Amazing. ... Northern Colorado's Devon Beitzel is the poor man's Jimmer Fredette, they wear the same number (32), both hit over 90 percent of their free throws, and they have some similar body language. Beitzel scored 29 Saturday including two free throws that looked like game winners until the buzzer- beater heave. ... Our man Jimmer had another great game, scoring 32 plus hitting some ridiculously long 3-pointers. But he did go cold briefly, a spell which helped New Mexico overcome BYU, 86-77, in the Pit. Great viewing. .. St. John's made Duke look ssssslllowww as the Red Storm constantly beat the Blue Devils' man-to-man defense off the dribble for easy baskets in a incredibly simple 93-78 victory. Maybe it was just one game or maybe the Devils aren't Final Four material. ... Georgetown's Austin Freeman was borderline awesome, scoring 32 points and willing his team to victory over Villanova. ... Louisville hanging tougher than UConn to finally win one away from the Pitino Palace. UConn might be sliding a bit. ... Saw LIU for the first time and liked what I saw. Blackbirds should win the NEC. ... Penn State beat Wisconsin for another big upset at home (they've already beaten Illinois and Michigan State), there's no doubt the Nits are a changed team. They're playing confidently. ... Checked in briefly on James Madison-Delaware because I'm fascinated by JamMad. The Duke were down 19. Never mind. Shocked to see they ended up winning, 77-71. They're an intriguing bunch. ... Norfolk State, led by rapidly improving big-man Kyle O'Quinn, upset Morgan State 76-74 in Baltimore. The MEAC is still up for grabs.... Florida looked so good in winning at Georgia earlier last week but just couldn't get it done at Mississippi State, losing 71-64. I know what you're thinking, I only saw the last 10 minutes but Renardo Sidney had nothing to do with it. Dee Bost, on the other hand, can play. ... Marquette had a chance to be UConn at home recently and came up empty. Given the same opportunity Saturday against Syracuse, the Fightin' McGuires made every play to win 76-70. I really like Marquette forward Jae Crowder. ... Valpo, with a packed house going crazy, hit a bunch of 3-pointers in OT to upset Butler 85-79. I'm not sure what's wrong with Butler but they're barely an NIT team now. Despite the Bulldogs' rep, they don't shoot well. ... Baylor looked like it was finished, trailing Colorado by 14 at the half but the Bears rallied to win 70-66 and their big guys, who I've maligned, played well. Tough one for Colorado to let get away, the game was played in Waco. ... Portland scorched the nets from behind the arc (13 of 20) to rout Saint Mary's 85-70. They haven't lost at home this season. ... Indiana was an unlucky loser at Michigan State. The Hoosiers played so hard and if they had just made their free throws they would have won in regulation. That being said, Sparty's Draymond Green is a great player. He bulled his way to the rim for the winning basket; then made a great defensive play, setting up a brick wall to stop Indiana's Jordan Halls from getting any room to hit a winning basket. All-Sully, for sure. Maybe All-American ... Great game between Missouri State and Northern Iowa which NIU won 60-59 when Kyle Weems missed the final shot. He hit the final shot when MoState won at NIU. Missouri State fans were having a lot of fun.

My soap opera: Has something clicked? Seton Hall handled Providence 81-71 Sunday afternoon in beautiful downtown Newark as Herb Pope scored 23 points and had 10 rebounds.

My Colonels: Nicholls State beat Lamar 78-71 as Anatoly Bose, the Kazahk gunner, scored 22. The Colonels are just 4-3 in the Southland and are going to need to do some business on the road.

Surprising scores, amazing margins:
UNH 60, BU 48:
BU ... hmm... what's the old line. An enigma wrapped in a riddle?

Pitt 65, Rutgers 62: Honestly, Rutgers has improved.

Arkansas 89, Vanderbilt 78: Just when I was feeling good about Vandy they lose a home-game to an inferior opponent.

Auburn 79, South Carolina 64: This is a good one, a road win for Tony Barbee and his usually underachieving team. South Carolina fans have to be depressed.

Clemson 62, Florida State 44: I guess we chalk this up to home court advantage but another disappointing performance by the inconsistent Seminoles.

Marshall 85, Memphis 70: Huntington, W.Va. is a tough place to play but this was only Marshall's second win in CUSA.

UAB 74, Central Florida 69: How far is down? The losing streak is now six.

Xavier 85, Richmond 62: Spidey falls apart at home. X and Duquesne head-and-head in the A10.

Wake Forest 76, Virginia 71: I thought Wake was going to go winless in the ACC.

Nebraska 57, Texas A&M 48: Not hard to guess this one was played in Lincoln. No place is safe in the Big 12.

Texas 71, Missouri 58: The Horns held Missouri to a season-low point total. I once said the sky's the limit for Mizzou; maybe I should have said that about Texas.

Oklahoma 82, Iowa State 76: The Sooners broke a 19-game road losing streak by winning in overtime in Ames.

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