Some random thoughts while nervously thinking seven points is a little too many to give Arizona:
n This is clearly the most progress Penn State has made in six years under Ed DeChellis as the Nittany Lions are stamping themselves as an NCAA Tournament contender. At 15-5 overall and 4-3 in the Big Ten heading into tonight's game with visiting Iowa, PSU's map to the Big Dance shouldn't be hard to read: The Lions need to win their remaining five games at home and steal at least one on the road (Ohio State would be the best bet). That would put them at 21-10 and 10-8 in the league, which still may not be enough. To get off the bubble, they'd need to win at least one game in the Big Ten Tournament.
n Anything less - read: a trip to the NIT - would and should be a disappointment traced to the non-conference schedule.
n The Lions will need another junior-college guard, ala Stanley Pringle, to play alongside Talor Battle next year.
n DeChellis and Tim Curley ought to beg the Big Ten to stop playing 9 p.m. home games for a Big Ten Network that still isn't available locally. (Memo to Atlantic Broadband: You're killing us!)
n If DeJuan Blair stays out of foul trouble, Pitt can beat anybody.
n If DeJuan Blair can't stay out of foul trouble, a lot of teams not in the Top 25 can beat Pitt.
n The Panthers' rise as a Top-10 fixture, under Ben Howland and Jamie Dixon, is even more impressive when considering it's been accomplished largely without much NBA talent.
n At a salary of $7.5 million, we have every right to expect Adam LaRoche to hit more than .150 in April and May.
n Larry Johnson's decision to remain with the Nittany Lions, thus spurning a defensive coordinator offer at Illinois, already makes Penn State 1-0 in 2009.
n Unless, of course, you count the USC game.
n It would surprise me if there's not some sort of promotion announced for Johnson once signing day passes.
n I don't know if Aaron Maybin or LeSean McCoy are making the right decision in leaving early. I don't think Maurice Evans is. Surely, his stock is down after an average year on the field and a worse year off it. But I'm reluctant to criticize kids whose dreams have been to play in the NFL and are a lot closer to it now than they've ever been. Especially given some of these kids come from families who could not afford to go to the Rose Bowl. Even if Maybin falls to the bottom of the first round - a far drop from Todd McShay's original projection of a Top-10 pick - it still is accompanied by a multi-million dollar signing bonus.
n I will say this for Peter Gardella and every Pitt fan and then hopefully feel better: I should have voted for Larry Fitzgerald to win the 2003 Heisman Trophy.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.