Oregon Ducks are the RPI team of the week

Congratulations to the teams who moved up in RPI this week. Oregon is the team of the week with two PAC-12 wins, including a 69-58 edge against No. 9 Utah. The wins have to secure a NCAA Tournament spot for the Ducks as they improved them to 20-8 on the year.

Tulsa is also building quite a case for a decent seed with a win over Temple to rise up 11 spots in the RPI. Non-conference play was a mixed bag for Tulsa but it made up for it with a 12-2 mark in the American Athletic Conference.

Here are notable risers in both men’s and women’s RPI.

RPI 2-23 RPI 2-23 WBB

CSUN and Madonna

Tying your school to a celebrity is neat, making fun of a celebrity through your school mascot is awesome. Shoutout to the Big West Conference and California State University, Northridge (CSUN) with what might be the meme of the year so far in college sports. Congratulations Matty the Matador, you defeated Madonna.

A CSUN wins the internet.

And CSUN wins the internet.

5 Mid-Major Games to Watch

There are quite a few intriguing games going on Saturday that are outside the Top 25. Here are some mid-major contests with plenty at stake.

2 p.m. – Western Michigan at Central Michigan
Toledo may be in first place in the MAC West at 6-3 but these two directional Michigan schools are right behind at 5-4. Both the Broncos and Chippewas are hovering near the RPI top 100 and did I forget to mention they hate each other. Buckle up for a pure rivalry in the MAC.

4 p.m. – UNLV at Colorado StateObscurity Report new
UNLV is 13-9 and still has a chance at the tournament thanks to a quality win at Arizona, but the Rebels need this one. A win at Colorado State, No. 29 RPI, will rocket UNLV up. A loss means UNLV is running out of chances to make its move.

7 p.m. – Vermont at Stony Brook
Vermont is currently second in the American East and Stony Brook is third. First place Albany appears unreachable at a perfect 10-0 but this battle for second place is important. Stony Brook is a game and a half back of Vermont and needs this one to catch up.

7:30 p.m. – Louisiana Monroe at Georgia Southern
The No. 2 team in the Sun Belt at the No. 1 team in the Sun Belt. Yeah it’s a kind of a big game here. Especially for ULM who lost the first meeting at home 57-53.

8 p.m. – Louisiana Tech at Middle Tennessee State
Among mid-major conferences, Conference USA is extremely competitive. Louisiana Tech is 17-6 but with a No. 92 RPI is a bit of a stretch for the NCAA Tournament. A win a Middle Tennessee State should be a boost though as the Blue Raiders are 13-10. A loss will put any at-large dreams to bed and damage NIT hopes too for the Bulldogs.

RPI jumps for February 2, 2015

Not many changes occurred in the top 100 of the men’s rating percentage index this week so the biggest jumper with the best ranking was actually California.
men's RPI 2-2
The Golden Bears came into the week 1-6 in PAC-12 play and was expected to end the week 1-8 with two road games. Yet California came away with wins at Washington State and Washington. The latter was far more unexpected. We’ll see if this was the week Cal needed to turn its season around who have a salvageable 13-9 record. The Bears have a ways to go to get back into NCAA tournament conversation but at least they are still alive for it.
women's RPI 2-2
On the women’s side Seton Hall moved up to No. 32 thanks to a home win against St. John’s, another team who moved up. The Pirates scored their 20th victory of the season tying the program record for fastest to ever reach that mark in a season. Look for Seton Hall to crack the top 25 in the coming weeks.

More Summit League Basketball Photos

IUPUI during player intros.

IUPUI during player intros.

I have more pictures from my first ever Summit League game as a photographer now on my Facebook page.

Here is a taste of what you’ll see there.
D.J. McCall does not let people get in his way.

D.J. McCall does not let people get in his way.

People are literally afraid to guard Carlin Dupree.

People are literally afraid to guard Carlin Dupree.

Climbing to the Summit League

The only place where a Bison could ever meet a Jaguar.

The only place where a Bison could ever meet a Jaguar.

Life in the Summit League is not luxurious nor is it respected by the national media. Teams are scattered across the middle of the country from Indiana to Colorado, making it tough to form a regional identity. None of the nine teams are in the RPI top 100 and only one is in the top 150 (South Dakota State). That doesn’t mean there are not quality teams here. North Dakota State knocked off Oklahoma in the first round of the tournament last year and that NDSU team is looking good this season.

IUPUI homecourt

Nice looking court.

I knew  that traveling to IUPUI, here in Indianapolis, was going to be a battle for them. And this past Thursday ended up being an overtime affair. Thank you to IUPUI SID Edgar Holdaway for the photographer credential to the game this past Thursday.

Jags DJ

Meet a DJ with eyes on the back of his shirt.

IUPUI in its first season of playing in Pepsi Coliseum at the state fairgrounds and it appears to be a good fit. The first thing I noticed is that IUPUI students are the ones who sit courtside here. How many other schools can say that about their student body? This is partly because the Pepsi Coliseum is built more for hockey, leaving space for the band and student body behind the baskets. The cheerleaders also stand by the sidelines like a football game while most schools have them positioned along the baseline. Little things like this make an IUPUI game unique and it gives the Jags support having the young spirited fans close to the court. They also have this type of DJ yelling “Lets go JAAAAGs,” every 10 minutes to keep people awake.

North Dakota State was the favorite and I got the impression they were the better team. The Jaguars were pressing a full-court defense most of the night trying to force turnovers. IUPUI got some but also let NDSU score easy baskets once their guards broke through the initial pressure. The Bison had more blocks and rebounds as the Jaguars had to settle  for jumpers in its half-court offense.

At the same time though the Bison seemed to struggle to finish their drives to basket. Quite a few misses came at point-blank range from offensive rebounds. NDSU also only made 10 out of their 18 free throws.

IUPUI had a chance to win the game in regulation as guard Mason Archie had an open 3 with .8 seconds left but the shot went long. North Dakota State would outscore IUPUI 16-8 in overtime to put the game to bed.

No. 2 for three and the win is guarded by No. 2. This ended up being IUPUI's best chance for victory.

No. 2 for three and the win is guarded by No. 2. This ended up being IUPUI’s best chance for victory.

NDSU would lose two days later to IPFW, who came in 1-5 in Summit League play. That’s how hard it is to win back-to-back road games in any conference within a 48 hour span. IUPUI would win against South Dakota Saturday to move to 4-3 in conference; just a game back from NDSU and 1.5 back from South Dakota State.

The Summit League bid is up in the air but don’t be surprised if these meet again in the conference tournament. Here are more pictures from Thursday.

DSC_1726DSC_1683 DSC_2222

First Saturday of Spotlight for College Basketball

This is the first Saturday of the season where basketball is in full control of the sports calendar. Sunday will be taken up by the NFL playoffs but will still have some fun games.

Saturday is expected to be a great day in the middle of the country as three Big 12 games between top 25 teams will take place. There will be bedlam in Oklahoma and West Virginia will make the journey to Texas. The nightcap will be Kansas at Iowa State to face some Hilton Magic.

Duke at Louisville is losing luster quickly after the Blue Devils took some losses in ACC play. Kentucky traveling to Alabama will be the game with the most upset potential as the Wildcats have been shaky on the road in SEC play so far.

Here is my navigation solution for wall-to-wall basketball this weekend.
Jan 16 Navi Sol