Sunday night musings

A few random thoughts while watching Georgetown blow Maryland's doors off...

- Villanova made a serious statement in its 78-65 win over Rhode Island at the Palestra last night. I thought that Joe Juliano hit the point right out of the gate in his game recap:

This was the kind of game Villanova needed after two weeks of playing against opposition that didn't come close in caliber to the teams the Wildcats will face in the Big East Conference.

Dick Jerardi also summed it up well tonight on Philly Hoops Insider:

... if you take the time to watch the play away from the ball, see how nobody is ever left on a defensive island and concentrate on a player like Dante Cunningham who makes every little basketball play purists and coaches love, then you get the essence of the 2008-09 Wildcats.

In last night's game blog, a commenter noted that with Penn and Temple's bad losses, it seemed like no one in the Schuylkill 16 particularly wanted to win a game. Well, it seemed to me Villanova wanted to win the game, and it went out and did so.

The key stat for me was rebounds at Villanova's end of the floor. The Wildcats pulled down 18 offensive rebounds and the Rams got 21 defensive boards. Even teams that emphasize offensive rebounding don't normally get the differential that low.

It was a scrappy game to be sure, but 'Nova imposed its will at the offensive end and that's why they pulled away for the win.

- I also thought Penn State came to the Palestra wanting to win a game, and the Nittany Lions did so last night. Yes, the Nittany Lions lost to Rhode Island in between wins over Penn and Towson. But Stanley Pringle and Talor Battle can clearly shoot from the perimeter and handle the ball, and Jamelle Cornley looks like he can do some work in the post. That combination could get Penn State some wins that it hasn't had in recent years.

In addition, it really is of quite some consequence that the Nittany Lions just played three straight games in Philadelphia. Ed DeChellis seems to have a real desire to recruit in this region, and if the school is willing to commit the resources, there's no reason why he won't be able to get some players to come to State College.

There is more than enough basketball talent in the Philadelphia area for all the region's programs to have their fill of good players, and I suspect that at least a few of them have heard of that football team that plays down the road from the Bryce Jordan Center.

- The Big 5 will hold a media day tomorrow at 8:15 a.m. at the Palestra. I will be there to record the proceedings and I'll post the audio on the blog in the afternoon. I wish they'd do this before the season starts and I really wish it wasn't that early in the morning, but it's better to have a media day than not have one at all.

- Think the weather was bad in Philadelphia today? It rained so hard in Orlando during the Michigan State-Wichita State game this afternoon that water came through the Milk House roof and the game had to be suspended for a while.

- A quick football note. The all-important BCS rankings are out, and Oklahoma has jumped over Texas in the computer rankings even though the Longhorns are ranked higher in the human polls. The differential in the computers is such that the Sooners are higher in the BCS standings, so they win the Big 12 South and will play Missouri for the conference title on Saturday.

Yes, Oklahoma's routs of Texas Tech and Oklahoma were impressive. But Texas beat the Sooners and lost to Tech on the road on the game's last play. If it was up to me, the Longhorns would get the edge. But at least there's the consolation of finally having some real BCS chaos.

What do you think of it all?

- Back to basketball, and I've been really impressed watching Georgetown center Greg Monroe play over the last few days. He has a great touch for a big man but he also seems plenty willing to do the dirty work in the low post at both ends of the floor.

And if he's this good now, I doubt Villanova fans want to imagine what he'll be like when the Hoyas come to the Wachovia Center on February 28.

With the season's first official Big 5 game coming Tuesday night, it's a nice coincidence that Georgetown and Maryland are playing each other for the first time in seven years as I write this post.

Growing up in the Washington area, I watched the Hoyas and Terrapins on TV all the time. Both teams play in big conferences and big arenas, have big fan bases and are capable of attracting interest on a national level.

But when it comes to interacting with each other, they're like oil and water. Their last matchup before tonight was in the Sweet 16 of the 2001 NCAA Tournament, and to make things even more pronounced, the game took place all the way across the country in Anaheim. Prior to that, the teams had not met since 1980.

The main reason for the teams not playing has been disagreement on where to play the game. Maryland's 17,950-seat Comcast Center would be a sea of Terrapin red every time, while Georgetown's fans likely would not be able to fill the 20,173-seat Verizon Center on their own. I'm sure there are financial considerations in play as well, regardless of whether you think they should matter.

More important than just the fact that they don't play, though, is that there have not been any significant public comments from either school expressing a desire for the teams to play each other.

I found two quotes in this Washington Post story to be particularly interesting.

Hoyas forward Chris Wright, a native of Bowie, Md., said that "in terms of it being important because it's a Maryland-Georgetown game, I'm really not into that."

Terrapins coach Gary Williams - who I suspect knows full well why these two teams don't play - said that "for the fans, I know they like the local rivalries and things like that, but you know, we just happen to be located close to each other."

Yes, Maryland plays George Washington and American just about every year, and Georgtown has regularly played American and Howard.

But none of those matchups are what college basketball fans in the nation's capital really want to see. They want a Maryland-Georgetown series, and we here in Philadelphia know exactly why.