by Kieran Darcy

Also Receiving Votes

  • Ohio St.: 10 consecutive wins, but barely beat Penn St. on Wed. night
  • S. Illinois: 8 consecutive wins, the class of the Missouri Valley
  • Iona: Well, they're 1-24, but they've won 1 of their last 3!

Oddities

  • Odds for NBA All-Star Weekend in Vegas:
  • 1,000 to 1 Steve Nash plays basketball
  • 1 to 1 Trishelle Cannatella plays tonsil hockey
  • Off the board Charles Barkley plays blackjack

Not In This Issue

  • Tim Hardaway a guest Thursday on "Ellen"
  • Brian Cashman says Ron Villone's ready to assume closer role
  • Tiki Barber retires from NBC due to Matt Lauer's verbal spankings
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  • Hottest Teams In College Hoops Exactly One Month Before The Big Dance Begins
  • 1 Florida (17 consecutive wins)

    We know all about the Gators. We know they won it all last year. We know they all came back to school. We even know how their dorm rooms are decorated. Florida has been the best team in college hoops this season, with only a two-point loss to Kansas and a four-point loss at Florida St. on its résumé. The only question that remains is, can the Gators conquer the gauntlet that is the NCAA Tournament two years in a row?

  • 2 Memphis (14 consecutive wins)

    The Tigers are talented but not battle-tested. They've dominated a mediocre-at-best Conference USA, and their best nonconference win was against Kentucky before Thanksgiving. They've played only three ranked teams, and none since losing at Arizona on Dec. 20. Not exactly a recipe for March success. Yes, Memphis played a similar schedule last season and got to the Elite Eight. But it was a more talented team a year ago, with Shawne Williams and Darius Washington Jr. -- and it had a pretty easy road to that regional final against UCLA, beating 16-seed Oral Roberts, 9-seed Bucknell and 13-seed Bradley along the way.

  • 3 South Alabama (13 consecutive wins)

    The Jaguars were Florida's first-round opponent in last year's Big Dance, losing by 26. They lost four of their top five scorers from that team but retooled quickly with the help of a couple transfers and currently stand atop the Sun Belt Conference. But they don't have a signature nonconference win to hang their hats on, and if they do make the field of 65 they'll be a very low seed once again.

  • 4 Winthrop (11 consecutive wins)

    Winthrop almost pulled off a huge upset in last year's NCAA Tournament as a 15-seed, losing to No. 2-seeded Tennessee 63-61. Then they almost lost their coach, Gregg Marshall, who actually accepted the head coaching job at Charleston before changing his mind and coming back. Now Marshall has his team poised for their seventh Big Dance bid in nine seasons. The Eagles scared Wisconsin (lost by 3 in OT) and North Carolina (lost by 7) earlier this season -- look for them to at least scare their first-round opponent if they make the field of 65 again next month.

  • 5 Central Connecticut St. (11 consecutive wins)

    The other Blue Devils, the pride of New Britain, Conn., are dominating the Northeast Conference this season -- but that won't help them much come bracket time. CCSU has the No. 282-ranked schedule in America, and they've gone 3-9 in their nonconference games, with wins against New Hampshire (9-17), UMBC (9-16) and Delaware (5-22) -- meaning these Blue Devils would have to win the play-in game just to have the honor of being spanked by a team like Florida.

Thursday February 15

  • 1 Rockets at Mavericks: 8 pm, TNT

    First game of a fabulous NBA doubleheader to cap off things before the All-Star break. Mavs have won eight in a row, Rockets have won eight of 10.

  • 2 "The OC": 9 pm, FOX

    Sadly, the second-to-last episode. Latest spin-off rumor: Ryan and Summer both attend Berkeley and both join the cheerleading squad.

  • 3 Cavaliers at Lakers: 10:30 pm, TNT

    Kobe vs. LeBron for the second time in five days. Kobe outscored LeBron 36-18 last Sunday, but the Cavs won the game. (The "OC" spin-off rumor was a joke, by the way.)

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