Local College Hoops: A Rundown on The Rundown
So what if March is still two months away? It certainly hasn't stopped ESPN's Joe Lunardi from updating his highly addictive Bracketology feature and projecting the entire 65 team NCAA tournament field despite the fact that most teams have only played one or two conference games and perhaps a pushover like "Lugnut Tech State A&M."
Working off a combination of Lunardi's projection, the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls, and pure speculation, here comes the first ever Rundown ranking of the top ten local college hoops teams.
1. Illinois- Fresh off a refreshing beat down of Indiana, they're unranked but received votes in both polls. So what if the economy is keeping them from building a new basketball arena, Lunardi has them as a six seed with first round match-up against none other than their bitter rivals, the Illinois State Redbirds.
2. Bradley-- The Braves, located in Peoria, IL are fighting for the top spot in the MVC, which figures to get two teams into the dance. Are they local? Not really, but what are you going to do when it's a down year in the Show-Me state. They just beat Illinois State last week.
3. Illinois State- Near the top of the Missouri Valley Conference, Lunardi has them as one of the last four teams in. They're currently 55th in the RPI projections. They're led by a transfer from The University of Oregon who has one of the coolest names in college basketball.
4. Missouri-- They got a couple votes in both polls but the Tigers just lost to (sarcasm alert) traditional basketball power Nebraska. They also had forward Leo Lyons suspended from the team after he was arrested in a traffic stop. He forgot to pay a ticket he got in 2006. Seriously.
5. SLU-- After being trounced by a tough-looking Xavier team, SLU starts the season anew Wednesday with a match-up against UMass, their A-10 home opener. (Check back on the Rundown Thursday for a game recap). With only the top two teams from the conference likely to dance, SLU needs to win every home game if they even hope to have a prayer. Most likely waiting until 2011 when their freshman will be good and be able to talk to the media.
6. Southern Illinois- Carbondale- No glass slippers this year for the Cinderella Salukis, who are off to a 7-9 start and lost their starting center early in the season with a broken wrist.
7. Missouri State. The bad news Bears already 0-5 in the MVC.
8. Western Illinois. Third place in the Summitt League is like 13th place in the Big 10. At least they're the Leathernecks.
9. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville-- One of 15 D-I independents but at 5-13 they're not exactly the Notre Dame of college hoops. At least they dropped 106 points on some school called Blackburn.
10. Washington University-- The defending D-III champs are currently ranked third. Here's hoping they can handle Case Western Reserve on Friday.