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College Basketball Rankings - MRI 2011-12, Week 3

December 12, 2011  |  By Benjamin Miraski

Every few years the world of college sports finds itself here, reeling in the aftermath of a brawl on the field or court.

The biggest one that sticks in memory came between Miami and Florida International on the football field. In that circumstance, the administrators at the school failed to do what would have made history.

They failed to impose proper punishment for denigrating the university by behaving in a manner that has no place in sports, pro or college.

A few suspensions were handed out, but a couple of games is nothing to players anymore.

Look at the list of players who begin each season sitting on the bench in college basketball for rules violations or eligibility issues. Several big name freshman sat on the pine while their teams played through five or six games.

No big deal. That is just the way things roll in college basketball. Everyone knows it is dirty. The kids take the slap on the wrist that comes along with that, and move on.

So when Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin talked a tough game following his team's loss to Xavier, it was a breath of fresh air.

It sounded like Cronin was going to do something unprecedented. He was going to make sure that players understood that playing college sports is not something that should be guaranteed to them, no matter how good they are. He was going to show that talent should never trump character on the court.

He was willing to risk his own season -- and possibly his job -- to make a point.

And then he and Cincinnati fell right on their faces.

Not only did Yancy Gates and Cheikh Mbodj get off with a smaller punishment than television analysts thought (6 games vs. 10 games), they seem to get off with a slap on the wrist.

Sure Cronin says that he will have to make sure they are serious about being sorry before they will actually be allowed back. But he also said he had to decide who was going to be on the team.

Gates has had trouble with Cronin before. Last season, he moped his way into a suspension.

But moping and sucker punching an opponent are two different things. And for Mbodj to kick at a player when he is down on the ground? That is unforgivable.

This was a street brawl pure and simple.

If you want to set an example, to show that this sort of thing isn't tolerated in your program, or your sport, you kick those players off the team.

Let recruits see that you value character along with skill on your team, not just collecting a bunch of "thugs" as the kids called themselves. That is what they are after all, kids.

They don't get it. They don't understand exactly what Cronin was saying. Not everyone gets to go to a good college, let alone go to college at all. These kids were given a gift to play a sport at a high level. Gates might have been good enough to have a career as a reserve in the NBA.

But that isn't a license to behave like a common criminal by throwing your fist into someone who looked as if they were just trying to get some separation between the two teams.

Both of these players should be packing their bags today. Their parents should be coming to take them home.

Only when some coach has the guts to make such a move will this type of behavior begin to leave the game. Only then will all coaches start to make the right choice.

And then we can get back to basketball.

Check out all the rankings in Week 3 of the MRI.

MRI Top 25 Rankings

2Ohio State8-1118.611
12Seton Hall8-186.7625
14North Carolina8-286.11NR(34)
15Wichita State7-286.0914
17Michigan State7-284.5719
19Mississippi State9-182.1222
21Saint Louis8-181.1321
23Florida State7-380.70NR(28)
24Northern Iowa9-180.54NR(38)

Teams Dropped From The Top 25: Alabama (LW #10, TW #28), Creighton (LW #13, TW #37), Illinois (LW #17, TW #30), Kansas State (LW #23, TW #32), Wyoming (LW #24, TW #27).
On the Bubble: Duke, Wyoming, Alabama, Illinois, Connecticut, Kansas, Kansas State, Georgetown, Boise State, Southern Mississippi.
Wofford Watch: Wofford (4-4) is currently 186th in the MRI, with a score of 25.61.
Last Place this week: Grambling (0-6) at -52.72. 3rd week in a row.
Biggest Gain this week: Wisconsin gained 20.61 points. (Beat Wisconsin-Green Bay 70-42, and UNLV 62-51)
Biggest Loss this week: Southern Illinois lost 22.11 points. (Lost to Western Kentucky 62-55, and Western Michigan 54-43)
Conference rankings this week: Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, SEC, Mountain West, ACC, Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley, Conference USA, PAC-12.

Posted December 12, 2011 12:56 PM

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