Monday, December 19, 2011

The Emery Board: Chane Behanan Edition

Dear Louisville freshman Chane Behanan,

Thank You.


Locker room bulletin boards everywhere

For now, this weekly post will remain as "The Emery Board", but a new title could be coming soon, and it's all thanks to the first-year forward.

You see, Louisville just beat Memphis this weekend in a tough non-conference affair to remain undefeated at 10-0, good enough to land them at No.4 in the AP/Coaches Poll. But according to Behanan, the Cardinals are better than that. His team is the best team in the country:

"We're the No. 1 team in the country in my eyes," Behanan said. "We're going undefeated. Point blank, period."

Perhaps none of the upperclassmen had told him that making statements like this isn't exactly the best idea. I mean, the upcoming rivalry game against Kentucky on New Year's Eve is already slated to be a fiercely-contested game, and now Behanan has given the 'Cats just another reason to leave it all on the court.

I'm not exactly sure where former-BYU guard Jackson Emery is right now, but if he's reading this, I imagine he's doing one of the following two things:

a) slow-clap
b) face palm

The Emery Board: 4th Edition
Two unbeatens lost this past week, meaning we have just six teams still yet to record their first loss. Xavier was handed their first loss by Oral Roberts, in a game where the Muskie's three best players did not play, and the rest of the team shot just 32% from the field. Illinois played so poorly against UNLV that the fans in Chicago booed them off the floor. 2012 is just around the corner. Which of the seven remaining unbeatens will enter the New Year with a goose-egg in the loss column?

No.1 Syracuse (11-0)
Next game: 12/20 vs. Bucknell (7-4)
First realistic loss: 12/28 vs. Seton Hall (9-1)

It is rare that Jim Boeheim takes his team on the road during non-conference play to face a legitimate opponent. But on Saturday, the Orange went to Raleigh, NC and got North Carolina State's best effort. The 'Cuse prevailed 88-72 and continue to be the most impressive team in the country. While this team may lack one go-to, stand-out superstar, they do have 5-7 guys that can can lead the way on a nightly basis. If Syracuse can make it to 2012 unblemished, their date with No.10 Marquette on 1/7 will be the must-watch game of the weekend/year.

No.4 Louisville (10-0)
Next game: 12/20 vs. Charleston (9-1)
First realistic loss: 12/20 vs. Charleston (9-1)

Despite their laundry-list of injuries, the Cardinals remain one of the deepest teams in the country. With the addition of formerly-ineligible freshman Kevin Ware, the 'Ville just got deeper too. But it would be foolish for them to look past a pesky Charleston squad, especially considering what our friend Mr. Behanan had to say. You don't think his comments are going to resonate with the Cougars? If the Cardinals can get past CoC, which they probably should, they still have games against Georgetown and Kentucky to close out the year. Sorry Chane, but your team isn't going undefeated.

No.7 Baylor (9-0)
Next game: 12/22 vs. Saint Mary's (8-1)
First realistic loss: 12/28 vs. No.17 Mississippi State (11-1)

The Bears showed their toughness in a hard-fought road win at BYU over the weekend, and certainly look like a team that can contend for a National Championship. Perry Jones III has emerged as one of the top-5 best players in the country, and the addition of Gary Franklin provides added depth to the back-court. But the Bears are now in their toughest stretch of non-conference play, and are likely to falter once before 2011 is through. They should be able to handle Saint Mary's on a neutral court in Las Vegas, but they follow that up with games against West Virginia and a hot Mississippi State team. The Bears have struggled to assert themselves on the glass, and both WVU and MSU have front-courts that could give them issues.

No.8 Missouri (11-0)
Next game: 12/11 vs. No.24 Illinois (10-1)
First realistic loss: 12/22 vs. No.24 Illinois (10-1)

The Tigers have yet to score less than 81-points in a single game. This team is about as high-powered as any team in the country. They do continue to struggle on the glass, but they've already played teams with big front-courts, and that hasn't slowed them down. Illinois will provide the Tigers with their toughest test to-date, and might be able to slow them down, but I'm not sure the Illini can beat them. In fact, I'm not sure any of the teams still left on Missouri's 2011 schedule can beat them.

No.11 Marquette (9-0)
Next game: 12/19 at LSU (7-3)
First realistic loss: 12//19 at LSU (7-3)

Marquette has looked uber-impressive in the early-season, but I'm starting to wonder if a slip-up is on the horizon. Both Junior Cadougan and Darius Johnson-Odom have been suspended for a game this season for violating team rules, and while it hasn't effected the game results, I wonder if the team chemistry will stay consistent. Then you add in the fact that they will be without their seven-footer Chris Otule for a while thanks to a torn ACL. Listen, I really like this team. they are tough as nails, have a bunch of different weapons, and play at a very fast-pace. But I just think that somebody, maybe even LSU, will be able to catch them off guard. After Monday, their next five games are against UW-Milwaukee, Vanderbilt, Villanova, No.16 Georgetown, and No. 1 Syracuse. I see Marquette losing at least one of those games.

No.18 Indiana (10-0)
Next game: 12/19 vs. Howard (3-8)
First realistic loss: 12/28 at No.20 Michigan State (9-2)

Did you expect the Hoosiers to be undefeated this late in the season? Unless you are a die-hard Hooisers fan, you are lying. After shocking the world with their buzzer-beating win over Kentucky, the Hoosiers battled past in-state rivals Notre Dame to remain unbeaten. Freshman center Cody Zeller has won Big-10 Freshman of the Week honors four times this season, and Tom Crean has gotten solid contributions from everybody on the team. Although the season is still young, Indiana certainly looks like a tournament team. But unfortunately, their undefeated streak will come to a halt soon. They begin conference play with a road trip to No.20 Michigan State, followed by home games against No.2 Ohio State and No.18 Michigan. There is not a chance in hell they start Big-10 play 3-0.

No.22 Murray State (12-0)
Next game: 12/21 vs. UT-Martin (3-10)
First realistic loss: 12/30 at Eastern Illinois (6-4)

With their non-conference schedule out of the way, and a goose-egg still in the loss column, is it possible for the Racers to go undefeated? Sure why not? After all, the Ohio Valley Conference isn't exactly the Missouri Valley Conference, meaning, barring a slip-up, no real team poses a substantial threat. But regardless, it's tough to win every road game in conference play. From here on out, Murray State is going to be the biggest game on their opponents schedule. I can't exactly pin-point the Racers' first loss of the season, but I'm pretty sure it will happen before March Madness begins.

Bottom of the Barrel

Binghamton (0-8)
Next game: 12/19 vs. Morehead State (4-7)
First real chance to win: 1/2 vs. Maine (3-4)

Chicago State (0-11)
Next game: 12/21 vs. Oregon State (9-4)
First real chance to win: 1/15 vs. St. Francis (Ill) (Non-DI)

Grambling State (0-7)
Next game: 12/18 at Texas Tech (4-4)
First real chance to win: 1/3 vs. Alabama State (2-7)

Hartford (0-10)
Next game: 12/21 at Marist (4-6)
First real chance to win: 1/15 at Binghamton (0-8)

Northern Illinois (0-10)
Next game: 12/20 vs. Valparaiso (7-4)
First real chance to win: 1/2 vs. Roosevelt (Non-DI)

Towson (0-9)
Next game: 12/20 vs. Manhattan (7-4)
First real chance to win: 1/2 vs. Northeastern (3-5)

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