I just got back from New England. The trip included a visit to the nineteenth-century whaling town New Bedford, a historic visit to Boston, and a visit to Maine that included a successful whale watching expedition. As a youngster growing up in Mobile, AL, I never got to see all the historic whale stuff that understandably fascinates kids (although I did spend many great times on the Gulf), so the whale-related trips brought out the inner child in me. Overall, it was a great, refreshing vacation for someone that's been putting in lots of hours of work over the past few months.
Onto the news. USC landed at the second seed in the Greenville, NC (East Carolina) regional and will open against George Mason. East Carolina gets fourth seed Binghamton. Here's the basics of what you need to know about the seeds:
- 1. East Carolina: 42-17 Conference USA champ
- 2. South Carolina: 38-21 at-large pick from SEC
- 3. George Mason: 42-12 at-large pick from Colonial Athletic Association
- 4. Binghamton: 29-20 America East champ
Binghamton isn't a particularly good team and won't last very long barring a Cindarella run. George Mason totally dominated their conference but hasn't faced much competition from elite teams. Their best non-con win came against a mediocre NC State team, and they lost a handful of games against other non-elite teams from major conferences. Based on a taste test, they appear to be a good but not great team. East Carolina more or less dominated the the relatively stiff C-USA slate and has a decent record against a moderately tough non-con slate. They beat a handful of decent teams and came up just short against powerhouse UNC. My guess is that we should be able to take George Mason but that beating ECU will prove pretty tough. A likely matchup against UNC or Coastal Carolina would likely await us if we advance.
A few more tidbits. Phil Steele has begun counting down his Top 40. Although he's been a little off in recent years, Steele is still one of the better prognosticators out there, so he's worth paying attention to. So far, he has three of our opponents listed, with Tennessee at 39, Arkansas at 33, and NC Stateat 32. With several more of our opponents sure to be listed, it looks like Steele thinks we'll have another brutal schedule. I'm also wondering if he'll list us. Steele has generally liked us in the past and in 2007 infamously picked us to win most of the games we lost during the slide, so maybe we should hope he doesn't list us for luck's sake.
ESPN is listing their top players in the SEC. Eric Norwood is number eleven. Too high or two low?
UPDATE: C. C. Whitlock arrested and suspended again. I would expect that Spurrier and staff will give Whitlock a chance to defend himself but, if things don't go his way, they'll boot him off the team. He just blew his last chance.
Nick Calathes has decided to sign with a European team, which means that the star Gator will certainly miss next year. That's probably good news for the rest of the SEC, although the fact that Billy Donvan signed star PG prospect Kenny Boynton may negate the effect of the Gators' loss of Calathes.
Finally, Kentucky defensive star Jeremy Jarmon has been barred from participating in the upcoming season after failing a test for a performance enhancing drug he was taking to help him rehabiltate from an injury. Jarmon claims he was unaware that the supplement he was taking contained a banned substance, but apparently that possibility didn't sway the NCAA. Losing Jarmon will be a significant blow to the 'Cats attempt to make a fourth straight bowl game this year.