It's one of the stranger scheduling quirks you'll ever see. Starting Saturday, Mississippi State is going to cram five games into five days. Why on earth would MSU coach Rick Stansbury do this to his team? Jason King explains: "In September the NCAA suspended star point guard Dee Bost nine games for failing to withdraw his name properly before the NBA’s draft deadline in May. Bost, though, can’t begin serving that suspension until he’s academically eligible, which he wasn’t during the fall semester. The fall semester ends today, which means any game Mississippi State plays without Bost from this point forward will count toward Bost’s nine-game suspension. Because Stansbury desperately needs Bost for SEC play, the coach tried his best to schedule non-conference games after the fall semester. The hope is that the Bulldogs can beat their next four opponents – East Tennessee State, North Carolina A&T, Nicholls State and Alabama State – without Bost, who averaged 13 points and 5.2 assists last season."
Why the talent glut in the Pac-10? Basketball Prospectus contributor Sam Rayburn describes the "chicken-and-egg" scenario currently afflicting the much-maligned conference: "Pac-10 recruiting has suffered in part because of an unusually high number of coaching changes. Since the 2007-08 season no fewer than seven Pac-10 schools have changed coaches. Only Arizona State (Herb Sendek), Washington (Lorenzo Romar), and UCLA (Ben Howland) have held onto their head coach over that span -- and you may have noticed that's no guarantee of success either. [...] Of course there's a chicken-and-egg issue here. Maybe there'd be fewer coaching changes if the Pac-10's teams performed better. If the league wants to recruit top talent from across the country, they need to win games, particularly big non-conference games. Schools view non-conference games as recruiting opportunities in regions not covered in league play. Last season's poor performance against non-conference opponents hurt the Pac-10's credibility on the national recruiting front."
Ohio State's iffy home win over IUPUI last night (Jared Sullinger's brilliance notwithstanding) caused Columbus Dispatch columnist Bob Hunter to doubt Ohio State's No. 2 ranking: "For the first 28 minutes or so, there was nothing about this evening that even hinted at No. 2. Not the crowd, which was nonconference-cupcake small and quiet, and certainly not the team that is ranked there. Number two Ohio State, really? This is one of those early-season things that just seems to happen, where a faceless mass of sports writers and coaches take a look at last year, add, subtract, do some figuring and a little head-scratching and abracadabra- we have some official rankings. Seven games into the season, it's a little more legitimate, but it's still awfully early to say that wins at Florida and Florida State make the Buckeyes - who started the season No. 3 - No. 2, No. 4, No.10 or 20."