Okay, let's admit it: last night's game was pretty tough to watch. If you were hoping for strong displays of offense by both teams, you didn't get it; instead, the two halves were almost exact opposites of each other in terms of who played well when.
As of now, there's no reason to think Temple won't recover in conference play, and the door is also open for St. Joe's and Penn State to rack up some wins.
But will anything be enough to knock Villanova out of first place? Maybe if the Wildcats lose a few games in a row, and you can't rule anything out in the Big East. I don't see it happening, though. Do you?
Think about it as you read this week's poll, which features the first tie in Schuylkill 16 history:
1. Villanova, 13 points (13 first-place votes)
- "Despite a close game against St. Joe's, and a close half against Temple, Nova is #1 ... and the rest of the field is not even close. (Rob Falcone)
- "Big 5 champs are too consistent to get upset. They avoid cold streaks with a fluent offense and a great defense. Temple could barely even pass into the lane, let alone dribble-penetrate into it." (Josh Wheeling)
- "At halftime last night Jay Wright told his team that if they wanted to keep the top spot in the S-16 they'd have to shoot better in the second half." (Zach Klitzman)
2. Temple, 39 points
- "Compared to everyone else, they are #2. But 2-6 are all shaky in this 16." (Rob Falcone)
- "Hard to think Christmas will have another 4-for-19 performance this year. Part of that is the Wildcats' defense, but he just went cold in the biggest game yet this year." (Joshn Wheeling)
- "Those were the longest 11 1/2 minutes of Fran Dunphy's life." (Zach Klitzman)
Aside from the 1999 "Black Tuesday" game against Princeton, anyone want to counter that?
t3. Penn State, 43 points
- "With only one legit win (at Georgia Tech) it's hard to place the Nits ahead of the Owls." (Josh Wheeling)
- "Forget the Big 5, we may only get one team from the S 16 to make the Big Dance this season." (Marco Anskis)
t3. Saint Joseph's, 43 points
- "Only one player nationally has played a higher percentage of available minutes than Ahmad Nivins. At least someone at St. Joe's is working as hard as the Hawk." (Jeff Shafer)
- "The records are awful, but who do you replace St. Joe's and Temple with in the Top 3?" (Marco Anskis)
As a famous philosopher once said, sometimes 11 wins are just 11 wins...
- "Loss to Siena? Ouch." (Rob Falcone)
Despite being 7-4, a lot of people think Siena has really underperformed this year - especially because they lost all three games at the Old Spice Classic. This was the Saints' best win yet by Pomeroy, and while you don't want to be the team on the wrong side of such a result, it might not look so bad in March if the Saints get it together.
5. La Salle, 69 points
- "Could see them moving up the charts soon." (Josh Wheeling)
They'll have a chance to prove it against Temple next week. Speaking of which, if you want me to liveblog that game, root real hard against the Eagles this weekend. If they beat the Vikings, they'd play the Giants at 1 p.m. on the same day the Owls and Explorers are scheduled to tip off at 2 p.m.
6. Rutgers, 76 points
- "Of the teams in the field to play NJIT this year, only Rutgers allowed more than 50 points." (Jeff Shafer)
- "The Big East has eight of 16 teams ranked in the top 25. This week's Pomeroy ratings have five of the top ten from the Big East, including the top three spots. Sagarin ratings have four of the top 10, but none higher than third. Georgetown is first in one, tenth in another (though that should change with the win at UConn).
What does this all mean? It means that ratings mean nothing. It will all be decided on the court. And that's why College Basketball is the best. (Dan Levy)
Yes, that's two whole paragraphs of pith. Best to use a fork and knife with it.
7. Lehigh, 101 points
We offer some sympathy for the
Leopards Mountain Hawks (that was a pretty dumb mistake by me, wasn't it?), whose game at Washington on Dec. 23 was canceled due to a snowstorm in the Pacific Northwest. Jon Solomon sent along this press release from Lehigh's athletic department, which details the 21-hour stretch in which they beat Monmouth, got on a plane for Seattle, flew almost two hours west and had to turn around and return home.
8. Drexel, 107 points
9. Delaware, 118 points
10. Rider, 119 points
11. Bucknell, 148 points
12. Penn, 154 points
- "Penn hasn't won a game in the state of Florida since January 2001. Glen Miller should really consider vacationing in Hawaii next year." (Jeff Shafer)
- "Not sure I see the Quakers winning an away non-conference game this season. Oh, right, they play NJIT." (Josh Wheeling)
All that pith is irrelevant after Penn beat Campbell this evening, but the deadline for submitting ballots was before the game. And I can't help thinking that trip to Newark on Jan. 17 won't be so easy given the Quakers' offensive struggles so far.
13. Lafayette, 168 points
14. Princeton, 169 points
- "It pains me to do it, but with a 2-7 record, I've got to put Princeton ahead of 1-7 Penn. (Zach Klitzman)
15. Delaware State, 200 points
16. Monmouth, 201 points
- "Looking at the state of Lafayette, Princeton & Monmouth basketball, one would think that the British won the war." (Tim Auman)
Join me tomorrow for live blogging of Drexel-St. Joe's at the Palestra starting at around 5 p.m.