Never trust online polls. Ever. They mean nothing. At all. Or else how could UCLA's Pauley Pavilion be voted one of the 15 most difficult places to play college basketball for opposing teams?
According to an EA Sports poll in which 100,000 college basketball fans voted, UCLA is one of the 15 toughest places to play. This information is going to be used in the next edition of the EA Sports college basketball video game, "NCAA Basketball 09."
Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium, which is an obvious choice, is on the list and so is Syracuse's Carrier Dome, which makes sense because the arena is often filled with 30,000 noise-making fans. Kansas' Allen Fieldhouse is historic and energetic and included, as is Louisville's Freedom Hall, where basketball knowledge runs deep and everybody wears Cardinal red. Those places make sense.
Where the students are separated from the court by what might as well be a moat?
Where the preferred hair color is white (and there is nothing wrong with loyal fans who first bought their season tickets in the John Wooden coaching days, but they just aren't quite as raucous as they used to be).
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, February 11, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction
UCLA basketball: The Sports Media column in Friday's Sports section said that UCLA Coach Ben Howland's teams are 0-5 in Seattle. The Bruins under Howland are 1-5 in Seattle.
Tyler Vaught, product manager for "NCAA Basketball 09," had the same reaction.
"Honestly," Vaught said, "UCLA jumped out at us too. We've heard that the atmosphere isn't the craziest."
Vaught said he did have a theory as to why UCLA did so well.
"The fact that Kevin Love is on the cover of our 2009 edition, I think that has people paying attention to UCLA. And Pauley has some history too."
Unfortunately Love isn't around to help the Bruins gain any home-court advantage now.
Vaught said the other surprising top-15 finisher was Xavier. Missing from the top 15 was Vanderbilt, where the court is raised and turned so players and coaches are not only sitting below the floor but also where the baskets usually are.
"That was unexpected too," Vaught said. "From my understanding, Vanderbilt usually is considered one of the toughest places to play."
Also in the top 15 were Florida, Clemson, Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Texas.
One suspects that if UCLA Coach Ben Howland had a vote, Washington would be included. Howland is 0 for 5 in Seattle.
The Bruins can test out that home-court advantage Saturday at 10 a.m. when Notre Dame comes for a nationally televised game on Channel 2. The last two times big-name non-conference opponents have come to Pauley, UCLA lost -- to Texas last year and West Virginia three years ago.
Bob Costas moves, Joe Buck profits: Joe Buck, the Fox Sports baseball announcer, is joining HBO to host a four-times-a-year 90-minute show. This week Costas, who had hosted "Costas Now" on HBO, announced he was now working for the MLB Network. Buck will continue his Fox work. Costas wanted to keep doing his HBO show, but HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg said the premium cable network preferred to have exclusive cable shows.
Good to watch Saturday: If you get Showtime and are a boxing fan, veteran announcer Gus Johnson makes his debut on the Showtime Championship boxing series from the Honda Center. The featured bout is a world title fight between Vic Darchinyan and Jorge Arce. The show is live at 9 p.m. on the East Coast feed and tape-delayed at 9 p.m. on the West Coast feed. Johnson will work with Al Bernstein.
Good to watch Sunday: It has to be an NBA and NHL kind of day. And an early one. Channel 7 will have the doubleheader of San Antonio at Boston at 10 a.m., followed by the Lakers at Cleveland at 12:30 for basketball fans, and at 9:30 a.m. on Channel 4, 2008 Stanley Cup finalists the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins get together for those who prefer to set the alarm for hockey.
Good to watch Monday and Tuesday: Westminster Kennel Club Show, 8 p.m., USA for an hour, CNBC for the next two (all three hours on USA on Tuesday). Check out the Glen of Imaal terrier. Oh, and co-hosts David Frei and Mary Carillo are top-notch. Don't panic as someone did last year when USA went off after one hour on the first night. Just calmly change the channel to CNBC and wait for the terriers.