SportsProf

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Saturday, December 25, 2004

What Illinois and OK State Have In Common

Outside of the fact that both have orange in their color schemes, that is.

Both schedule teams that are beyond being creampuffs, they're the equivalent to free spaces on the Division I college hoops bingo card. Click here to read all about Longwood and see what I mean. (I posted a few days ago about a game that OK State played against NW Oklahoma State or someone like that).

There is no reason why this game was scheduled, and this game will not serve much, if any purpose, in Division I college hoops. Longwood is 1-13, and right now their season deserves the Little League baseball equivalent of the mercy rule. It certainly doesn't warrant or merit a game against the #1 team in the country.

The last time I check, the most famous use of the name Longwood was for a beautiful series of gardens right outside Philadelphia, the renowned Longwood Gardens. The only thing that Longwood the school and Longwood the gardens have in common besides the name is flowers.

How so, you ask?

Longwood Gardens has some of the most amazing floral displays in the world.

Longwood University right now should be a wallflower.

Perhaps they'll rise up after their first year of DI play, get a few players that UVA, VCU and Richmond miss, knock off a William and Mary or a George Mason, and get comfortable in a low-DI to mid-major conference. That may prove true in the future, but right now the present is all they have. And, on this great day for presents, the best present that the powers that be in DI hoops could give us is not to let the high majors schedule too many games like this any more.

Despite the fact that the (heavy) favorite will rack up tons of points and perhas a highlight worthy of SportsCenter, games like these are pointless.

Of course, I don't want such difficult schedule police that they create a rift between the Top 50 schools, on the one hand, and then everyone else. That wouldn't be right, you'd create a self-fulfilling prophecy of the Top 50 schools always being Top 50 schools, and you could end up with divisions like English football.

That said, there should be some scheduling limitations. Within reason, of course. I would love to see the Virginia-based DI schools play one another, the same way I would NJ-based schools or Florida-based schools, as those types of tourneys could be neat. I also would love to see a pre-season tourney ever several years of the Top 16 winningest programs of all time, as that would be great too. I just don't like 96-36 games, 25-0 runs, and games that will prove nothing come tournament time. I don't know how Illini coach Bruce Weber found himself in this predicament, but I admire the style of Temple coach John Chaney -- schedule everyone, anywhere, even in a hostile arena, but get yourselves on television.

Tough games build character and big-game tested toughness come tournament time. They're analogous to the right type of diet for a world-class athlete.

Pushover games build nothing other than a false sense of how good your team reallly is. They're analogous to eating too many creampuffs from your local donut shop and then trying to compete against the world-class athletes.

And that doesn't work for most people.

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