BOZICH | Monday Muse: Computer love grows for Cards against Wild - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Monday Muse: Computer love grows for Cards against Wildcats

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Louisville basketball is drawing more love in the computer rankings. Louisville basketball is drawing more love in the computer rankings.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – I did not plan to lead the Monday Muse with another riff on the Louisville-Kentucky basketball game. (But I’m never going to run from that topic.)

The game is a dozen days away. (You think I’m going to write about U of L vs. Kennesaw State?)

But in addition to my daily checks of the computer rankings posted by Ken Pomeroy, Jeff Sagarin and the Ratings Percentage Index, I found a site that collected nearly two dozen other rankings. (Great, I’ll never get any work done.)

Here I am with more U of L-UK chatter to headline the Monday Muse.

1. Computer Rankings Trending Toward Cards

Last week, Pomeroy’s numbers had UK winning by five in Rupp Arena Dec. 26. Now the numbers say four.

Last week, Sagarin’s number had Louisville winning by 3.28 in Rupp. Now the numbers say Cards by 5.88. Sagarin ranks Louisville first in his predictor formula. Kentucky is merely No. 24.

The RPI also favors Rick Pitino’s team. The Cards are ranked 12th, the Wildcats 16th.

I also visited MasseyRatings.com. That is a site that compiles rankings from 25 polls.

The final tally: Kentucky has a composite ranking of 11th nationally, while the Cards are 12th.

For the record, Louisville is ranked first in five of 25 polls. Kentucky is ranked first in two.

Overall, the Wildcats are ranked ahead of the Cardinals in 14 of 25 polls.

I told you we’d have fun with this – even if we don’t get much work done.

2. Ben Simmons is Wasting His Time at LSU

Pete Maravich is college basketball’s all-time leading scorer, but he never played a game in the NCAA Tournament.

He wasted his time playing for Louisiana State. He should have stayed in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Or gone to UCLA.

Shaquille O’Neal is one of the college game’s greatest big men, an NBA champion and Top 50 all-time player.

In three seasons at LSU, Shaq never made it past the round of 32. His NCAA Tournament record was 2-3.

There is a trend here and the next great thing at LSU, freshman forward Ben Simmons, is in line to follow it. Simmons plays for Johnny Jones at LSU., which is not like playing for John Wooden or Phil Jackson.

That is not a good thing because this is what Jones has done with Simmons, Antonio Blakeney and the rest of his talented roster:

Lost half of his first eight games, including one to College of Charleston and another to Houston. The Tigers have allowed 213 points in their last two games. Pomeroy ranks them 100th, 11th in the Southeastern Conference.

That won’t get Ben Simmons in the NCAA Tournament.

Ben Simmons is wasting his time in Baton Rouge. Imagine if he played for Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino or John Calipari.

3. The Best Doubleheader in College Hoops This Weekend

CBS Sports thought it cooked up a slam dunk last season when it created the CBS Sports Classic, a yearly doubleheader featuring Kentucky, North Carolina, UCLA and Ohio State.

Most seasons that is a sexy menu. This year it looks like the second best doubleheader on the schedule.

That’s because the best game on Saturday will be unbeaten Purdue against once-beaten Butler, the nightcap of a doubleheader in Indianapolis that will also include Notre Dame vs. Indiana as part of the Crossroads Classic.

Ohio State, Kentucky’s opponent in Brooklyn Saturday, is staring at its worst season since 2004. The Buckeyes (4-5) just lost to UConn by 20 – after they had already stumbled against Texas Arlington and Louisiana Tech. John Havlicek, Jimmy Jackson, Greg Oden, Aaron Craft and D’Angelo Russell aren’t walking through that door for Thad Matta.

The other game at the Barclays Center matches North Carolina and UCLA. North Carolina has stumbled against Northern Iowa and Texas. UCLA lost to Monmouth and finished fourth in the Maui Invitational.

Purdue vs. Butler is the main event Saturday.

4. Must Win for Indiana

There aren’t many Must Wins in December, but I’ll make an exception for Indiana (8-3) this Saturday.

Beating Creighton was nice. Beating St. John’s looked better after the Red Storm took down Syracuse Sunday.

But after finishing sixth in Maui and getting overpowered by 20 legitimate points at Duke, the Hoosiers have a hole in their NCAA Tournament resume: No non-conference victories against another likely tournament team.

Notre Dame is IU’s last chance to fix that. And the Hoosiers lost to the Irish in Indianapolis two years ago.

5. My Heisman Ballot

Last week I could not share my Heisman vote. I provided several hints – and two of you guessed that I voted for Stanford all-purpose back Christian McCaffrey.

I favored McCaffrey over the Heisman winner, Derrick Henry of Alabama, because Trent Richardson proved you don’t have to be Heisman great to succeed behind the monstrous Alabama offensive line. And because McCaffrey posted ridiculous numbers as a halfback as well as a return specialist on The Farm.

He lost the award the same way Andrew Luck lost the award to Robert Griffin. Voters don’t watch enough Pac-12 football. Blame it on the late starts. Blame it on lazy voters.

So I went with McCaffrey first and Henry second.

On line three, I voted for Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty. All the guy did for the last two seasons was throw touchdown after touchdown after touchdown.

No, he didn’t do it in the SEC or Big Ten. But WKU and Doughty dominated at their level in only their second season in Conference USA.

6. Karl-Anthony Towns – As Good as Advertised.

The battle for NBA rookie of the year already looks like a three-man tussle. Kristaps Porzingis has stirred the most publicity by making Phil Jackson look wise with the Knicks.

Jahlil Okafor, the former Duke center, is scoring more points than any rookie but it has not translated into many victories for Philadelphia.

Don’t dismiss former Kentucky star Karl-Anthony Towns, who earned solid praise from the New York Times Monday in this story.

Towns is averaging more points (15.2) and rebounds (9.3) for the Minnesota Timberwolves than he did at Kentucky last season, which makes me wonder why Towns didn’t get more minutes.

But the best stat from the story is this one: 10 pushups.

That is what Towns owes his father whenever he has a bad night at the foul line.

7. Farewell Spike Albrecht

Michigan fans are still processing the jarring news that Spike Albrecht, the most celebrated walk-on basketball player in Wolverines’ history, has been forced to give up the game because of injury issues with his hips.

Louisville fans should join Michigan fans in saluting Albrecht. They remember his remarkable shooting performance in the 2013 NCAA title game. Albrecht kept Michigan in the game during the first half by pounding three-pointer after three-pointer. He finished with 17 points in the game that Louisville won, 82-76.

With Albrecht gone, there is only one player remaining in college basketball who played that night in Atlanta – Michigan guard Caris LeVert, who failed to score in a dozen minutes at the Georgia Dome.

8. Charlie Cuts the Cord

Charlie Strong has never been afraid to toss an assistant coach overboard to fix a problem. He did it at Louisville. Ask Mike Sanford, who lost his job as the Cardinals’ offensive coordinator when Strong was not convinced he was integrating all of Teddy Bridgewater’s skills into the U of L offense.

Shawn Watson benefited from that decision.

Now Watson is on the Mike Sanford side of Strong’s impatience.

In September, Strong stripped Watson of his play-calling responsibilities at sagging Texas after the Longhorns’ season-opening loss at Notre Dame. Last week Strong made a more forceful move, cutting Watson and offensive line coach Joe Wickline from the Longhorns’ staff.

Strong needs to win games – and fan approval. He knows it. So do Strong’s bosses. In fact, UT president Greg Fenves and athletic director Mike Perrin were recruited to help Strong recruit two new offensive coaches from Tulsa.

Strong was happy to win games 12-10 or 17-13 at Louisville. At Texas, fans want big wins and big offensive numbers.

9. Stat of the Weekend

Credit for this one goes to John Gasaway, who posted this college basketball statistic on his Twitter account Sunday:

Over the last 10 days, Top 25 are 1-7 in true road games against unranked opponents.

10. Poll Results

Who will win the college football playoff?

Clemson 48 percent

Alabama 29 percent

Oklahoma 13 percent

Michigan State 10 percent

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