Before we start, congratulations are due to the Atlantic 10 for moving its men's basketball tournament championship game to CBS starting in 2010. Yes, that's the actual television network, not the cable channel that Comcast puts on some high-priced digital tier.
The TV deal accompanies a significant change in the tournament's format. There will still be 12 teams in the field and the top four seeds will get byes, but the first round of games will be played on campus at the higher seeds on Tuesday of Championship Week. The tournament will then move to a neutral site for the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship game.
The press release from the conference notes that the venue for the 2010 tournament will be announced later this winter. Here's hoping that it stays somewhere on the East Coast within close range of Philadelphia, even if it's not Atlantic City anymore. Despite the conference's recent expansion, a majority of the conference's teams and fans are on the East Coast. I hope the tournament continues to reflect that.
Second, St. Joe's just finished off an 80-54 blowout win over Indiana in Maui. It's a good win for the Hawks, but I have to admit that I didn't think the Hoosiers would be this awful.
We'll be able to talk more about that game and everything else going on around the region this evening, as I'll be doing a live blog of the Penn State-Penn game at the Palestra. Check back at around 7:15 p.m.
Now for the football season's final installment of Crunchy Numbers. I realize that Rutgers and Temple have not yet finished their regular seasons, but everyone else has, so I doubt the middle and lower ranges of the Sagarin Index will move all that much the rest of the year.
I'd like to use this week to attempt to measure how the teams have performed over the course of the whole season. So in adition to the week's results, you'll see where each team started the season as well as their highest and lowest points in the Sagarin rankings this season.
I'll offer my view of what it all means at the end.
7. Penn State (7)
Last week: Home win vs. No. 17/23 Michigan State, 49-18
High: 1 (11/6)
Low: 26 (9/2)
41. Rutgers (49)
Last week: Home win vs. No. 123/125 Army, 30-3
This week: 12/4 vs. No. 87 Louisville, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
High: 34 (8/26)
Low: 112 (9/28)
58. Villanova (64)
Last week: Road win vs. No. 127/129 Delaware, 21-7
This week: 11/29 vs. No. 136 Colgate, 1:00 p.m., NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs First Round
High: 58 (11/25)
Low: 115 (9/9)
(I still refuse to call the division by its proper name.)
98. Temple (97)
Last week: Home win vs. No. 139/144 Eastern Michigan, 55-52
This week: 11/28 vs. No. 89 Akron, 1:00 p.m.
High: 87 (10/28)
Low: 151 (8/26)
129. Delaware (127)
Last week: Home loss vs. No. 64/58 Villanova, 12-7
High: 86 (9/28)
Low: 151 (10/21)
134. Lafayette (131)
Last week: Home loss vs. No. 169/156 Lehigh, 31-15
High: 128 (10/11)
Low: 171 (10/7)
141. Penn (156)
Last week: Road win vs. No. /193 Cornell, 23-6
High: 141 (11/25)
Low: 178 (9/28)
(I forgot to include the Big Red's ranking last week. Argh.)
156. Lehigh (169)
Last week: Road win vs. No. 131/134 Lehigh, 31-15
High: 186 (10/7)
Low: 144 (9/2, 9/9)
216. Delaware State (212)
Last week: Road win vs. No. 238/238 Howard, 10-6
High: 187 (8/26)
Low: 216 (11/25)
What do we learn from this? Rutgers and Lehigh finished closest to their ranks at the beginning of the season with a net loss of seven spots. Temple made the biggest improvement with a net gain of 53 spots, followed by Villanova's 51. Delaware fell the most, finishing 30 spots below where it started, with Delaware State's 29-spot fall the second-biggest.
As I've said many times before, this exercise is meant to provide some kind of comparison between the regions I-A and I-AA teams. Because they don't usually play each other, the Sagarin index is the best tool we have to put some concrete analysis into the discussion.
Last year, I asked whether Temple would beat Villanova if the teams played head-to-head. This year, I'd like to expand it into a mini-league with the Owls, Wildcats and Rutgers. Would any of those three teams go 2-0 in such a series?
We close with the week's TV schedule and the Top 10 comparison chart, which will continue through the end of the regular season and conference championship games.
Oklahoma-Oklahoma State is the featured ABC prime time, games, as well it should be. But because of that, Notre Dame-USC will air on ESPN. Especially for those of you who've watched college football for a long time, did you ever think a Notre Dame-USC game would be relegated from network television to cable?
Even with the college football landscape the way it is, it's pretty amazing to me.