Saturday, February 27, 2010

Monday Morning Dump

Holy smokes, did you all see what went down this weekend?

Every week I sit here and say "That might have been one of the craziest weekends of the year" and every week, it gets crazier and crazier. But I mean, this weekend was extra crazy, so I don't feel bad for repeating myself.

More than ten contests were settled in overtime, including a triple-overtime thriller that saw Marshall beat Central Florida, 121-115. Both Kansas and Kentucky lost. UNC finally won, Texas lost again, Greivis Vasquez dropped 41 on Va. Tech and the marquee match-up of the weekend was, what we in the biz like to call "A good ole-fashioned seal-clubbing".

But most importantly the weekend is over meaning we will never, ever, and I mean EVER, have to see these eyesores again. Thank the lord. Seriously, whoever was in charge of that project needs to be taken out into the streets and pelted with old vegetables (minimum).

- Watching this all unfold on twitter was actually kind of surreal. Great play, Nova fan, too bad your team didn't play that well.

- Are we overworking officials?

- Binghamton is still concerned that sports come first

- What I remember about this game is being constantly bombarded with my one friend that is a Kentucky fan. That's why you don't become friends with Kentucky fans...

- The worst seat in the house, the best fans in the building. Hoyasuxa's take on the weekend.

- Mike DeCourcy details the title chases in all the conferences

- Temple beats LaSalle, wins the Big 5

- DeCourcy also briefs us on the keys to success for a Hummel-less Purdue squad

- Eamonn Brennan explains why Arizona has a bright future

- Wrapping up the week with the Weekly Watch

- J'Covan Brown's status is still day-to-day

- A great-read on ways to properly prepare yourself for bracketology

- A great-read on Durrell Summer's inconsistent shooting

- A great read on the draft class of 2010

- The story on how Wes Johnson ended up at Syracuse

- Syracuse fans think two popular writers are predictable

- If I coached the Tar Heels I'd be having dizzy-spells too

- How to get out of an Olympic-funk and back into college hoops

- Gonzaga's Mark Few becomes most recent coach to speak out against tournament expansion

- Some final thoughts from Volunteers upset of Kentucky. My final thought: THE SCOTTY HOPSON DANCE! Take that John Wall and your silly dance. Scotty Hopson is my new favorite player.

- Fordham lands their third commitment from the class of 2010

- Did we really expect anything different from Pittsburgh?

- Ben Hansbrough is not his brother

- Finley Prep school to "shut down", but basketball team remains in-limbo

- Jayhawk fans are more classy than they ought to be after getting smacked around by OSU

- Providence's Sharaud Curry was not happy with his team's effort

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Who is No. 1?

Kansas lost at Oklahoma State.

Kentucky fell to Tennessee.

Purdue's Robbie Hummel is done for the year and the Boilermakers lost to Michigan State.

And to top it off, Syracuse just waxed the floor with Villanova.

If you can't figure it out, those were the top four teams in the country last week. The question being asked by hoops fans across the country today is "Who's #1?"

At this time last season, UNC was ranked fifth.
(photo credit:

Before I get into it, with Kansas and Kentucky losing on Saturday, there probably would have been a big push for Purdue to move into the No. 1 spot had they beaten Michigan State. That argument was squashed when the Boilermakers lost in an ugly game at home on Sunday. Without Robbie Hummel, Purdue cracking the top ten may be generous.

That leaves us with Kansas, Kentucky, and Syracuse.

So who's No. 1?

Kentucky: The Wildcats probably have the weakest resume of the three schools, but it isn't necessarily their fault. Its not often that you can beat UNC, UConn, Indiana, and Louisville in the same season and not get a top 25 win out of it. Kentucky did sweep Vanderbilt and they do have a win against Tennessee, and while they may be the most talented of the three teams, they have the third best resume. Don't be surprised if everyone outside of the Commonwealth will have UK at third Monday morning.

Kansas: The Jayhawks are 27-2 overall and 13-1 in the Big XII. They are 6-2 against the RPI top 25, and 8-2 against the top 50. Even with the loss Saturday, it is fair to say they are rolling through the best conference in college basketball. Wins over Memphis, Cal, UCLA, and Michigan are no where near as impressive as they were expected to be, but a 30 point beatdown of Temple on the road, a win at home over Cornell, and league wins against, well, everyone except Oklahoma State is a pretty nice resume.

Syracuse: The Orange are also 27-2, but Syracuse has a resume that is slightly less impressive than Kansas. They are also 8-2 against the RPI top 50, but just five of those wins are against the top 25 while one of their losses came from outside the top 25. Semantics, I know, but it is the type of thing people look at when you are dealing with two teams that are so close. Unlike Kansas and Kentucky, who both lost both games on the road, Syracuse is undefeated away from the Carrier Dome, but they have lost two games at home. Isn't it usually the other way around for the Orange?

There are two ways to look at this. For starters, Kansas has the better resume. They are ranked higher than Syracuse in both the RPI (1 vs. 3) and by Kenpom (2 vs. 3). They have more top 25 wins and fewer losses outside the top 25. They have a better record in a better conference.

The other way to look at this is that Syracuse was fourth in the country, and the three teams above them lost. You lose, you move down in the polls. You win, you move up. Isn't that the way it generally works?


Well, I had Kansas as my No. 1 in the Blogger's Poll I vote in for Yahoo.


I just think Kansas is a better team. With everything these two teams have done this season, there really is not all that much to separate them. Except personal opinion.

And in my personal opinion, Kansas is the better team.

One wacky Saturday doesn't change that.

One week's ranking shouldn't matter, either. This season, every writer in the country has uttered, at least once, the phrase "there are no dominant teams in college basketball this year." We can debate that point all day, but what is a fact is that last season's "dominant" team, North Carolina, was 5th in the country on this date.

Keep that in mind, residents of Lawrence, Lexington, and Syracuse, when the rankings come out tomorrow.
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Texas point guard J'Covan Brown listed as day-to-day after a nasty fall

J'Covan Brown took a nasty spill against Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon.

With just under two minutes left in the game, the freshman point guard drove down the middle of the lane and took off in traffic. He got knocked while in the air, spun around, and fell backwards. He landed on his back, whipping his head against the floor.

It was scary.

Brown was down for a good six or seven minutes. After he hit his head, he rolled onto his side and did not open his eyes or move as he was being examined and stabilized. He was eventually carried off on a stretcher and taken directly to the hospital.

J'Covan Brown hit the floor hard against A&M.
(photo credit: Austin American-Statesmen)

It was a scary moment for more than simply health reasons as well.

Texas has fallen off the map the last month, at they are now 22-7 overall and 8-6 in the Big XII just over a month after they were the ranked No. 1 in the country. In addition to that collapse, the Longhorns have also lost point guards Varez Ward and Dogus Balbay to season-ending injuries.

It would be a tough task for the Longhorns to overcome the loss of a third point guard -- and the kid that was expected to blossom with Balbay out -- for an extended period of time.

The good news for Texas?

Brown's listed as day-to-day. His injury was nothing more than a neck strain and a mother of a headache. He will be re-evaluated tomorrow by the Texas staff, but as of now Brown looks like he will be just fine.
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Is there a more inconsistent team in the country than Georgetown?

Has there been a more inconsistent team in the country that Georgetown?

The Hoyas haven't won three straight games since knocking off Harvard, St. John's, and DePaul as the year changed.

They lost to Old Dominion at home immediately after beating both Butler and Washington in neutral site games.

South Florida beat them at home just four days after the Hoyas whooped Duke.

They lost at Rutgers eight days after putting up 103 points on Villanova.

And now, after coming back from 11 down on the road against Louisville, Georgetown was smoked on their home floor by a Notre Dame team that was 1-6 in true road games, missing Luke Harangody, and with Tim Abromaitis shooting as poorly as he has all season long.

So what's up with Georgetown?

The Hoyas have shown a tendency to start slow this season. When they get down, they start rushing. Quick shots, bad passes, over-penetration. Essentially, when Georgetown gets behind, they start getting away from running their system. Sometimes, that's almost a good thing, as Austin Freeman, Greg Monroe, and Chris Wright can all take over a game.

Other times, it results in sloppy, lackadaisical play. Today, it manifested as a lack of execution on defense and the defensive glass. Notre Dame got 10 offensive rebounds on 11 misses in the first half, and then proceeded to shoot 71% in the second half.

Georgetown has a big three that can match up with anyone in the country, quality role players, and a bench that is short but reliable.

I've theorized numerous times this season regarding Georgetown and what is right and/or wrong with this team.

Maybe its just the Big East.

Chew on this for a second. Georgetown, who was ranked in the top 10 in the country not two weeks ago, is currently sitting in 7th place in the Big East.

The team right behind them in 8th?

Notre Dame, who was left for dead not five days ago.

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Where does Notre Dame now sit on the bubble

Before Luke Haragody got hurt, Notre Dame was in a tough place in regards to the bubble.

A weak non-conference schedule combined with a couple of questionable losses (Loyola Marymount, Northwestern, Rutgers) is not the way to go about impressing the NCAA Tournament committee.

After Gody went down, Notre Dame proceeded to lose three straight games - at Seton Hall, St. John's at home, and at Louisville in double overtime. I don't think there was a single bubble "expert" on the internet that still gave Notre Dame a chance to play their way in.

Carleton Scott had 17 points on 7-10 shooting for the Irish.
(photo credit: WaPo)

Well, beating two top 25 teams in the span of four days can sway quite a few people.

The win over Georgetown put the Irish at 2-7 against the RPI top 25 and 4-9 against the top 50. They came into the game with an RPI of 72, which will no doubt improve once this win is factored in. By no means is Notre Dame a lock for the tournament, but they certainly are in a much better place today than they were on Tuesday.

Not many teams can say that they own wins over West Virginia, Pitt, and at Georgetown.

More than anything, however, the Irish passed the eye test this week. After thoroughly dominating Pitt at home, Notre Dame beat Georgetown in DC 78-64. Without Haragody, and with Abromaitis struggling. Ben Hansbrough and Carleton Scott both stepped up big time for the Irish, but the reason I say that the Irish passed the eye test is that they did two things very well today that they generally struggle with.

The Irish missed 21 shots against Georgetown, but grabbed 12 offensive rebounds (they got 10 of their 11 first half misses). They also played better defensively. True, Georgetown shot over 50% from the floor and had more assists than turnovers, but the Irish made a couple key steals leading directly to layups and they executed their game plan to perfection -- taking away three point shooters and making it tough for Monroe inside, going 1-on-1.

The Irish are guaranteed three more games - UConn at home, Marquette on the road, and the first round of the Big East Tournament. I'm of the thinking that the Irish need to beat both the huskies and the Golden Eagles and win their first game in the Big East Tournament if they want to get in.

If the Irish do make the tournament, they are going to be a tough out.

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Weekend Dump

Weekends that offer up a gigantic platter of college hoops desserve their own dump. This happens to be one of those weekends. Enjoy.

- A good read about that grey area between college and the pros

- There can never be enough Kenneth Faried in your life

- What would you do for a klondike bar 'Cuse/'Nova tickets?

- Your Bubble breakdown's for the Pac-10 and the Big-12

- This is what we call "a good coaching move"

- Illinois' at-large bid is with-in sight

- Two Bulls won't be in the South Florida lineup against Providence

- Should we be surprised that John Callipari won't settle for conference titles? Becuase I am certainly not.

- Only three more weekends til the big day

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Big East Bubble Breakdown

Ed. Note: The rest of this post can be found at RTC.

Barring an improbable collapse or an unforeseen run through Madison Square Garden, there are just six Big East teams that are still sitting somewhere on the bubble.

Syracuse, Villanova, Pitt, Georgetown, and West Virginia are all playing for seeding and a double-bye in the Big East Tournament. South Florida, Providence, Rutgers, DePaul, and St. John's are all playing for pride and, well, pride.

That leaves the six teams sitting in the middle of the league -- Marquette, Louisville, UConn, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, and Seton Hall -- with a shot at dancing. Commencing Big East Bubble Breakdown.

Marquette: 18-9, 9-6; RPI: 54, SOS: 65
- vs. RPI top 25/50/100: 2-6, 3-7, 6-7
- Best Wins: Xavier, Georgetown
- Worst Losses: DePaul

As has been the case all season long for Marquette, their inability to win close games early in the season has been killer. The Golden Eagles RPI does not properly represent how well this team has played this season. None of their nine losses have come by more than nine points, and seven have come by less than five points. It seems like Marquette's luck is starting to turn a corner, as they have now won their last four close games, including Wednesday's buzzer-beating W at St. John's. Marquette gets Seton Hall on the road and Louisville and Notre Dame at home before heading to the Big East tournament, where is looks as if they will get a first round bye. Win three more games, and Marquette will lock up a bid.

Louisville: 18-10, 9-6; RPI: 42, SOS: 9
- vs. RPI top 25/50/100: 1-5, 2-6, 6-9
- Best Wins: UConn, Syracuse
- Worst Losses: Western Carolina, St. John's

Louisville is in a tough spot. They have a solid RPI bolstered by very good strength of schedule, but they have not really beaten anyone this season. The win at Syracuse is as good as it gets, but after that, their best W is against a UConn team that could lose their last four games by 20 points and no one would be surprised. If the eye test matters to anyone, Louisville will pass with flying colors. They have a very good front line, anchored by Samardo Samuels and the suddenly-dangerous Jared Swopshire. Their back court, which has been inconsistent this season (although there have been some injuries), is as talented on paper as any in the conference save Villanova. Louisville has a tough schedule down the stretch, but that means that they will have three chances to really improve their resume - at UConn and Marquette (who are both fighting for a bubble spot as well), and at home for Syracuse (who will likely be playing for the Big East title and will be looking for revenge). Lose all three, and Louisville is in trouble. But if they win all three and make some noise in the Big East Tournament, and this is a team that could be a top six or seven seed.

UConn: 17-11, 7-8; RPI: 40, SOS: 2
- vs. RPI top 25/50/100: 3-5, 3-6, 9-9
- Best Wins: Texas, Villanova, West Virginia
- Worst Losses: Providence, Michigan

The Huskies are coming along at the right time. Since Jim Calhoun returned from his illness, UConn is 3-1 with wins over Villanova and West Virginia. Overall, UConn is in a similar boat to Louisville, as their lofty RPI is, in large part, a result of the tough schedule they have played. UConn brings up an interesting question - how will the committee handle the seven games Jim Calhoun missed? With him, the Huskies are 14-7. Without him, they are 3-4 with a loss to Providence. But UConn also beat Texas without him and lost to Cincinnati in terrible fashion without Calhoun. The Huskies get Louisville at home and South Florida and Notre Dame on the road. Win their last three and their first game in the Big East, and this team wins.

Cincinnati: 16-11, 7-8; RPI: 59, SOS: 29
- vs. RPI top 25/50/100: 1-3, 4-6, 6-11
- Best Wins: Maryland, Vanderbilt, UConn X 2
- Worst Losses: St. John's

Cincinnati is in a really tough spot. Before beating DePaul, the Bearcats had lost four of their last five games and seven of their last eleven. And now they are sitting at 59th in the RPI without a good conference win under their belts. They will get three chances at getting one in their last three games, as they go on the road to face Villanova, get Georgetown at home, and play West Virginia on the road as well. As I said, the Bearcats are in trouble.

Seton Hall: 16-10, 7-8; RPI: 52, SOS: 18
- vs. RPI top 25/50/100: 1-7, 3-9, 6-10
- Best Wins: Cornell, Pitt
- Worst Losses: South Florida

You know, Seton Hall's resume is not as bad as many people think it is. They have a couple nice wins, beating Cornell on the road and knocking off Pitt and Louisville at home. They do have 10 losses, but of those ten, the only one that can be considered a "bad" loss came in overtime at South Florida during that two week stretch when South Florida was pretending they were good. The Pirates play three more regular season games - Marquette at home and Rutgers and Providence on the road. If they can win all three of those, a task which is far from improbable, the Pirates will head into the Big East Tournament at 10-8 in the league with a very real chance of being able to play their way into the tournament.

Notre Dame: 18-10, 7-8; RPI: 72, SOS: 63
- vs. RPI top 25/50/100: 1-7, 3-9, 6-10
- Best Wins: West Virginia, Pitt
- Worst Losses: Loyola Marymount, Northwestern, Rutgers

Call me crazy, but is Notre Dame playing better basketball without Luke Harangody? Since to all-american went out with a knee injury against Seton Hall, ND has looked downright scary at times. They lost to Louisville on the road in double overtime most recently they just put a whooping on Pitt at home. Without 'Gody on the floor, ND seems to play better defense and move the ball better. The rest of the team also seems to be a bit more aggressive, knowing that they don't have to get the big fella touches. In the three games 'Gody has been out, Tim Abromaitis has up his average to 23.3 ppg in the last three. Ben Hansbrough is averaging 16.3 ppg. Tory Jackson is averaging 13.7 ppg, and scored 25 the night 'Gody was hurt. Clearly, Notre Dame is a better basketball team with Luke on the floor, and they are going to need him if the Irish are to navigate a difficult stretch run -- at Georgetown, UConn, at Marquette. With the losses ND has this season, they probably needed to sweep those three games and pick up at least one win in the Big East tournament for a shot at an at-large.
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Friday's Shootaround: Vandy survives, Jacksonville and Wofford take over first place

Vanderbilt 96, Georgia 94 OT: Georgia was up 77-72 with just 33 seconds left in this one, but after Jermaine Beal knocked down a three, Dustin Ware missed two free throws which allowed an AJ Ogilvy tip-in to tie the game at 77. Georgia missed a couple shots at the end of regulation that could have won the game. In the overtime, Vanderbilt took the lead and was up by four as the clock wound down. But Ogilvy fouled Chris Barnes on a layup with 0.9 seconds left, giving the Bulldogs a chance to tie. Barnes intentionally missed the free throw, and Ware got the rebound, but his prayer came up short. Jermaine Beal had 28 points in the win.

This shouldn't be taken as a knock on Vanderbilt. Georgia is at the bottom of the SEC East, but this is a team that is going to put a scare into someone in the SEC Tournament. Tre Thompkins is one of the most underrated big men in America, Travis Leslie is slowly developing from just a leaper into a very, very good basketball player, and guys like Ware, Ricky McPhee, and Jeremy Price all play a role well. I think Georgia made the right choice hiring Mark Fox.

Duke 70, Tulsa 52: The Golden Hurricane hung around for the first half, but Duke was just too much for Tulsa. The Blue Devils got 50 of their 70 points from Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer, and Kyle Singler while Brian Zoubek -- 10 points, 11 boards, 2 blocks -- outplayed Tulsa center Jerome Jordan for much of the game. Tulsa had a chance to thrust themselves back into bubble contention with a win.

Kentucky 82, South Carolina 61: After he played his worst game of the season against South Carolina the last time these two teams met, Patrick Patterson had one of his best games of the season last night. PPatt finished with 23 points on 10-12 shooting, with many of those coming as Kentucky pulled away late. DeMarcus Cousins added 19 points and 11 boards, his 17th double-double on the season. John Wall finished just 4-15 from the field, and is shooting 35% from the floor the last four games.

Other notable scores

  • Wisconsin 78, Indiana 46: The Badgers used a 23-8 run at the end of the first half to open up a 17 point lead. IU never made another threat. Tom Crean got ejected in the final minutes of this one, as the Hoosiers have now lost nine straight.
  • Gonzaga 88, Santa Clara 51: Steven Gray had 26 points as the Zags were in complete control from the tip.
  • Cal 95, Arizona 71: The Wildcats allowed Cal to go on a big run in the first half, and they were never able to get back into the game down the stretch. Jerome Randle had 24 points and 7 dimes.
  • St. Mary's 76, Pepperdine 49: The Gaels got 20 points, 10 boards, and 3 blocks from Omar Samhan as they stayed in bubble contention and within a game of Gonzaga in the WCC.
  • Utah State 61, Hawaii 50: The Aggies used a 10-0 to close the first half and take a 25-17 lead, and Jared Quayle added 13 points and 7 boards as USU won this one easily.
  • Wofford 74, Charleston 68: Noah Dahlman had 20 points as Wofford took over osle possession of first place in the Southern Conference.
  • Jacksonville 65, Campbell 52: Travis Cohn and Ben Smith both went for 15 points as the Dolphins moved into first place in the A-Sun.
  • Morehead State 70, Murray State 65: Morehead avenged a loss earlier this season as they ended the Racers 17 game winning streak and became the first team to beat Murray State in OVC play. Butler and Kansas are now the only two teams left undefeated in conference play.

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Friday Morning Dump

- Gotta love Craigslist

- Jeff Goodman goes after the McDonald's A.A. commitee

- What's the possibillity that Jim Boeheim wins Coach of the Year? Let's see what Gary Parrish has to say about this

- I'd say Scottie Reynolds needs to be a factor on Saturday as well

- John Gasaway breaks down college basketball analysts

- Someone at RTC went to Med School

- Get to know a Mid-Major: The Ohio Bobcats

- It's never too early for draft predictions

- Well I'll be damned: A feature article of Brian Zoubek

- I think Kenneth Faried has a shot at the league.

- Arizona's Kevin Parrom out with sprained foot

- Missouri's Justin Safford out with torn ACL. But he's not out for the season. Wait...what?

- Purdue fans want Damian Johnson to shut his mouth

- Isiah Thomas was ejected last night

- Giant heads at the Carrier Dome have a name

- Ooooh look, printable brackets are ready. Only things missing are the teams

- I love shot-blockers, which is probably why I'm a big fan of Jarvis Varnado's work. He gave interview to CHJ yesterday

- You know what? you are absolutely right: Mike Brey is a good guy, but he's easy to hate, if you are a Hoya fan

- The injuries that have changed seasons

John Calipari interviews Jeannine Edwards, and throws in a couple shots a Billy Gillispie

Magic Johnson did the John Wall dance

Varnado setting the blocks record

Hassan Whiteside mixtape

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Robbie Hummel done for the year. How does this effect Purdue?

By now, you've surely heard that Robbie Hummel's acl is, in fact, torn.

It goes without saying that this is a huge loss for the Boilermakers and another serious injury for Robbie Hummel, who is, by all accounts, a great kid, to overcome. If you remember, Hummel was dealing with a fractured back all last season.

The question of the day seems to be how this will effect Purdue's seeding come Selection Sunday. The seed Purdue gets will be a direct result of how well they play without Hummel in the line-up.

Regardless of your fan affiliation, you hate to see things like this.
(photo credit: WLFI)

To be completely honest, I'm torn about Purdue's ability to handle this injury. On the one hand, Purdue runs a motion offense that maximizes the sum of their parts as opposed relying on the ability of one or two players. Purdue has a talented, experienced group of kids that understand their roles in this system and should be able to function on the offensive end of the floor.

They've had experience without Hummel as well. He missed four Big Ten games with that back injury last year.

The problem is Hummel is such an important part of what Purdue tries to do, and it goes way beyond the 15 points and 7 boards he averages. Hummel is as good as anyone on the Boilermakers at moving the ball offensively. At 6'8", he plays the four and is their best rebounder, but his ability to play on the perimeter offensively creates mismatches night in and night out.

If you really want to get a feel of what Purdue is losing with Hummel done for the season, just think back to the week of Jan. 9th-16th. Purdue lost three straight games and got ripped by Matt Painter for their lack of leadership. Chris Kramer and Keaton Grant got benched over it.

The only player that Painter did not criticize was Hummel.

Purdue has the pieces to survive this injury. Grant is a good player, and with Hummel out of the line-up he is going to get more opportunities. Chris Kramer is scrappy enough that he can play in the post.

But surviving is a far cry from thriving, and Purdue's NCAA Tournament seed is going to be directly dependent upon how well they perform down the stretch. The Boilermakers will play at least four games, including Michigan State, who they host on Sunday. If Purdue wins out -- earning conference regular season and tournament titles -- the Boilermakers probably have to get a No. 1 seed even without Hummel. But if they don't play well, who knows how far this team could drop.

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In other news, Corey Stokes is no different than your typical college kid

Let's just cut to the chase.

From ZagsBlog:

Villanova junior guard Corey Stokes was issued a citation for public urination early Thursday morning. Stokes was urinating between two parked cars at about 3 a.m. while surrounded by several teammates when a police car pulled up. The incident occurred outside a bar down the street from the Villanova campus after the Wildcats beat South Florida, 74-49.
He wasn't arrested, and will not be missing any game time as a result.

"This was a simple mistake by a college student," Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement. "Corey regrets it and has apologized for it. We will now deal with it within our basketball family."

I think it is safe to say that we have all been there, and that this is, in no way, a big deal.

My only advice?

Corey, you're 6'4". You're teammates are much taller. You're a starter for a top 10 basketball team. People, and cops, tend to notice these things. Maybe next time you go around a corner when you need to take a leak.

If anything, all Stokes did was create some fodder for Syracuse fans leading up to Saturday night.
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

DeMarcus Cousins is on meds?

At this point in the season, we all know about DeMarcus Cousins. We all know he has the talent to be selected in the top five of this June's NBA Draft.

We also all know that he has, at times, displayed the maturity of an eight year old.

You've heard the stories. Whether it is throwing elbows, interacting with fans on the road, showing up Cal on the bench, or throwing alleged (and unproven) punches at fans, it seems like every game Kentucky plays, Cousins makes the blogs for something other than his 15 points and 10 boards.

I'd probably be focusing on Erin Andrews too.
(photo credit: The Big Lead)

Maybe we now know why.

Aran Smith is a writer for, and this morning he commented on the big fella during his Stock Watch. According to Smith, he received the following text from an NBA Scout regarding Cousins:
No way. mental issues. he is on bigtime meds i hear. not athletic enough for me talent wise also.but he has been great last month...
My first reaction?

Well, it definitely wasn't surprise.

And that isn't just a result of how over-diagnosed behavioral disorders (ADHD and the sort) are in kids.*

I'm just as guilty as anyone, but at times we forget that the people playing college athletics are still kids. Cousins is a behemoth of a human being, with 270 lb adorning his tattooed, 6'11" frame. But being built like a offensive tackle, covered in ink, and having a knack for rebounding the ball and a nasty baseline spin move doesn't mean that Cousins, or any other player in the country, is more emotionally developed than your average 19 year old college freshman.

Do you know how many college freshman are on "big-time meds"? Do you know how many of those college freshman end up productive members of society?

That's the problem with professional teams drafting and signing players at such a young age. They may have all the talent in the world, but it doesn't mean they are fully developed emotionally and psychologically. See Michael Beasley.

As long as Cousins isn't being treated for paranoid schizophrenia, I think Cousins is worth the risk, so long as whoever drafts him is aware that they may have to wait for him to do some growing up.

And if they don't like it, well, you reap what you sow.

*I actually have no idea if that's true. I'm a college basketball blogger, not a psychiatrist. But I did see that headline on CNN once a month or so back, so it has to be true. Right? Right.
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Thursday's Pregame Beat

7:00 pm: Tulsa @ Duke: Tulsa has lost three in a row and four of their last five, essentially eliminating them from bubble contention. But unlike any of the other mid-majors, the Golden Hurricane have a bailout as they get a shot at knocking off Duke. A win over a top five team (No. 2 in the RPI), especially on the road and out of conference, would go a long way towards putting Tulsa back onto the bubble map. Its probably not enough to get them into the tournament alone, but its a good start.

Its also going to be a good tune-up for Duke. This time of year, when you are playing late season conference games, teams know each other so well that it is sometimes difficult to run your sets. With Tulsa coming to town, it will afford the Blue Devils the opportunity to see what works and what doesn't works against a team that doesn't know them and their tendencies as well. For NBA fans, this is a chance to see Tulsa's big man Jerome Jordan go against some kids with NBA size.

9:00 pm: South Carolina @ Kentucky: Kentucky is 26-1 on the season. Their one loss? To the Gamecocks about a month ago as Devan Downey went crazy down the stretch. This one will be played in Rupp, however, so expect Kentucky to come out ready to play.

8:00 pm: Murray State @ Morehead State: I doubt that this game will get much coverage outside of Murray State's and Morehead State's respective areas, but this is a game that will no doubt be quite entertaining. Murray State is undefeated in the OVC and handed Morehead State a 30 point loss back in December. Morehead State has a potential NBA draft pick in Kenneth Faried and gave Louisville all it could handle in the first round of the tournament last season. Should be a fun one.

Bubble Watch: Apparently, all the teams on the bubble played last night.

  • 9:00 pm: Arizona @ Cal: Even if the Bears win out, they are a long shot to earn an at-large bid. But if Cal does win, they will be playing Arizona State on Saturday for the league lead.
  • 10:05 pm: Pepperdine @ St. Mary's: The Gaels still have a shot at a bid if they lose in the WCC Tournament. I like this team, and will likely put a scare into anyone they play in the first round.
  • 12:05 am: Utah State @ Hawaii: The Aggies have asserted themselves as the best of the WAC. If they can win out, they might be able to sneak into the tournament with a trip to the WAC finals.
Other notable games
  • 7:00 pm: Georgia @ Vanderbilt
  • 9:00 pm: Wisconsin @ Indiana
  • 10:00 pm: Arizona State @ Stanford
  • 11:00 pm: Santa Clara @ Gonzaga

Continue reading...

Thursday's Shootaround: Were there any bubble teams that didn't play last night?

Purdue 59, Minnesota 58: The Boilermakers kept their hopes of a Big Ten regular season title alive last night as they came back from nine down to beat Minnesota on the road last night. The win was costly, however, as Robbie Hummel looks to have suffered a serious knee injury.

Hummel went down with 7:11 left in the first half and a 26-14 lead. Minnesota blitzed a shocked Boilermaker team, going on a 30-9 run before Purdue figured out what hit them, taking a 44-35 lead with nine minutes left. The Boilermakers still had some fight left. Purdue started to get hot from the perimeter, as JaJuan Johnson and Keaton Grant knocked down jumper after jumper. With 40 seconds left, Lewis Jackson scored on a break to give Purdue the lead. After a tough runner at the other end by Lawrence Westbrook, Keaton Grant hit a pull-up 18 footer with eight seconds left to win it. Devoe Joseph missed a good look at the buzzer.

The loss is crippling to Minnesota's tournament chances. The Gophers now need to win out and make a serious run through the Big Ten tournament if they have any hopes of going dancing.

Baylor 71, Texas A&M 66: Baylor built up a 13 point lead in the middle of the second half last night, but you better believe the Aggies had a comeback left in them. Three times in the final four minutes, A&M was able to cut the lead to one point, and all three times LaceDarius Dunn had an answer. After Donald Sloan hit a three with four minutes left, Dunn rattled home his own triple to push the lead back to four. On the very next possession, BJ Holmes knocked down a three of his own before Dunn once again had an answer, burying a three from the corner. After Sloan once again cut the lead to one in the final minute, in was Dunn's two free throws that pushed the lead back to three with 17 seconds left. All told, Dunn finished with 23 points. Donald Sloan had 22 in the loss. Baylor moves into a tie with A&M in the Big XII standings at 8-5 owning a sweep of tying the season series with Aggies.

Maryland 88, Clemson 79: The Terps got themselves down 15 points early on to a hot shooting Clemson team, but they were able to fight their way back into the game despite a cold-shooting night from Greivis Vasquez. That said, Vasquez does much more than just score, and it was on display last night as he finished with 15 points and 13 assists. Perhaps more important for Maryland was the 20 points they got from Sean Mosley. Mosley is an important player for the Terps, and he has been struggling of late.

Bubble Watch: Who helped themselves last night?

  • Notre Dame 68, Pitt 53: Many people had written off the Irish after they fell to 6-8 in the Big East and as Luke Harangody continues to sit out with a knee injury. Those same people might be back on the bandwagon after ND smoked Pitt at home. The Irish at one point in the second half had opened up a 52-29 lead and were shooting an absurd 10-14 from three. Its not often you see someone lighting up Pitt's D or being shutdown by Notre Dame's D. Take this result with a grain of salt, however. Notre Dame is tough to beat at home. Louisville lost by 30 there last season. Look how that ended up. Tim Abromaitis had 17 to lead ND.

  • UTEP 59, USM 56: The Miners got 17 points a piece from Randy Culpepper and Derrick Caracter as they were able to squeak out a win against a scrappy Golden Eagle team. It wasn't a pretty win for UTEP, but at this point they don't need pretty wins; they just need wins.

  • Marquette 63, St. John's 61 OT: Marquette has been on the wrong side of close games all season long, and it looked like the same might happen last night as Malik Boothe, a 22% three point shooter that had hit just six threes on the season, forced OT with a three ball from the corner. But in OT, Jimmy Butler, who hit a game-winner against UConn three weeks ago, knocked down a tough jumper from the corner at the buzzer for the win. Marquette, who is 5-7 in games decided by five points or less, has won the last four of those games and two in a row on the road in overtime. Overall, they have won seven of eight, and may be the hottest team in the Big East.
  • Florida State 77, UNC 67: For those that weren't blinded by the silver UNC jerseys last night, you got a chance to see Florida State pick up a much needed win against UNC. The ten point final margin doesn't really do justice to how well the Seminoles played. Chris Singleton, who left at least one scout very impressed, led the way with 19 points and 8 boards.

  • Mississippi State 74, Alabama 66: The Bulldogs were just about left for dead a few weeks ago, but they have now won four of five games to get back into serious bubble consideration. MSU's biggest issue is a lack of quality wins. The only team's they have beaten with any shot at the tournament is Old Dominion and Ole Miss. Jarvis Varnado had 17 points, 10 boards, and 8 blocks in the win, setting the all-time blocks record.

  • Cinci 74, DePaul 69: Yancy Gates scored a career high 23 points as the Bearcats were able to hold on against a scrappy Blue Demon's squad. Cincinnati had lost four out of five and, like Notre Dame, was beginning to look like a lost cause. Perhaps more important for Cinci was the 18 points and 10 boards that Lance Stephenson had.

  • UNLV 78, TCU 62: UNLV got 16 points, 7 boards, and 6 assists from Chace Stanback to win a game they had to have. Tre'Von Willis also added 16 points.

  • Ole Miss 85, Auburn 75: The Rebels scored 63 second half points to avoid a crushing loss at home. Chris Warren had 23 of his 26 in the second half. Murphy Holloway had 15 points and 20 boards.

  • Charotte 95, St. Joe's 58: Apparently, Charlotte was upset about losing three in a row. They jumped all over the Hawks early, going up 22-6 and 50-23 at the half.

  • UAB 53, UCF 49: The Blazers avoided a crushing loss on the road to UCF as they got 10 points and 10 boards from Elijan Millsap and 13 points from Dexter Fields.

Bubble Watch: Who hurt themselves last night?
  • Temple 49, Dayton 41: The Flyers suffered a devastating loss last night to Temple. Not only does it drop them to 7-6 and ensure that with a win over Richmond, the Flyers will finished without double digit league wins. But Dayton looked awful doing it. They shot 26% from the floor, settled for jumpers all night, scored just 13 points in the first half, and guaranteed that anyone watching the game came away thinking "Dayton is not a tourney team".
  • Texas 69, Oklahoma State 59: The Longhorns got Dexter Pittman's best performance in weeks as he and Damion James combined for 35 points and 15 boards against a Cowboy team that was playing without their biggest inside player in Matt Pilgrim. The loss isn't exactly terrible for the Pokes -- Texas is not a bad team, and this was a road game -- but tey are now 7-6 in the conference with games against Kansas and Texas A&M. This might have been their easiest resume win (beating Nebraska to close out this season counts for nothing). Will 8-8 get them in? Of note, the Longhorns, playing their first game without their best defender in Dogus Balbay, held James Anderson to just 14 points on 5-13 shooting.
  • Clemson: We talked about the Tigers loss to Maryland already, but we didn't mention our dire the straits are for the Tigers. They are 7-6 in the league and very much on the bubble, and they still have to travel to Florida State and Wake Forest and host Georgia Tech, three teams also fighting for their bubble lives. Clemson may actually miss out of the tournament.
  • BYU 82, San Diego State 68: The Aztecs lost to BYU on the road, which is far from a bad loss. No one has won there in almost 14 months. But it was the Aztecs last chance at a resume building win, and thye desperately needed it. SDSU now may have to reach the finals of the MWC tournament to get a bid. Jimmer Fredette had 26 for BYU.
  • Boston College 80, Virginia Tech 60: So the Hokies didn't show up in Boston last night. The Eagles jumped out to a 15-2 lead, and the game was never in doubt after that. Joe Trapani had all 17 of his points in the first half. Malcolm Delaney had 21 points on just 5-16 shooting, and Tech has now lost two in a row in the league.
  • Villanova 74, South Florida 49: The Bulls may not have even been on the bubble anymore, but after getting smoked by the Wildcats, you can rest assured that they are now. Scottie Reynolds had 21 points to lead Nova.
  • Houston 92, Memphis 75: The Tigers were playing well coming into this one, but they got blitzed by the Cougars from the tip. Aubrey Coleman had 34 points in the win, which all but seals UTEP's regular season C-USA title.
  • Towson 83, William & Mary 77: So the Tribe is now off the bubble. For real this time.
Other notable scores
  • Xavier 73, St. Louis 71: Xavier was able to hold on against a scrappy St. Louis team and move into a three-way tie for first place in the A-10.
  • Ohio State 75, Penn State 67: Evan Turner had 25 points, 7 boards, and 7 assists, but the Buckeyes nearly blew a 17 point second half lead to the Nittany Lions.
  • Stony Brook 82, Vermont 78: A big congratulations has to go out to Stony Brook, who clinched the America East last night after finishing in last place last season.
  • Marshall 77, Rice 54: Another big congrats must go out to Hassan Whiteside, who went for 19 points, 17 boards, and 4 blocks last night, setting the C-USA record for blocks in a season.

Continue reading...

POSTERIZED: Three for your money

Umm, people are not supposed to be able to do that...

Seriously, whoever gets CJ Leslie may as well have won the lottery. Two more after the jump.

As good as that Leslie dunk is, Jake Hottenstine's is better.

Former George Mason PG Tony Skinn dunks on a defender AND kicks him in the nuts.

No video online for this one yet, but has anyone else seen this Lance Stephenson dunk on Sportscenter?
Continue reading...

Thursday Morning Dump

- Dana O'Neil on the Land of Second Chances a.k.a Conference-USA

- None of these houses sound appealing, not even the safehouse

- Good read on Kansas City high schooler Daylen Robinson. Apparently, the kids been shot five different times.

- Your daily dose of bubble talk. Need more? Here you go

- Seth Davis covers just about every team on the east coast. Not enough Seth Davis for you? Here, he gets all ticket-punchy and mail-baggy.

- Marc Larson of Bowling Green is a true "student-athlete"

- The key to Purdue' future success: Robbie Hummels MRI.

- John Calipari making a run at Cory Joseph

- If you are a UNC fan, it's ok to cry

- How you know UNC has hit rock-bottom: new uniforms

- Ole Miss is looking for a new mascot, students want Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars. He would be a lock to win the CapitolOne Mascot Challenge

- Stony Brook won the America East last night, going from worst to first. Impressive turnaround to say the least.

- Golden Bears can try to finish season on a high-note

- Tom Crean wishes he could use his bench more often

- Is a 10-8 Big East record good enough? Andy Katz has your answer

- Joe Lunardi breaks down Wacky Wednesday

- Fran Fraschilla describes the final stretch of the season

- Christian Laettner finally gets Hall of Fame recognition he deserves, says Mike DeCourcy

- Doug Gottlieb praises Jim Calhoun, scolds Willie Warren

- Willie Warren, the Pac-10, and UNC top the list of most disappointing

- UCLA injury updates

- Northern Iowa/Evansville post-mortem

- Halftime score: Temple 19, Dayton 13, and no I am not talking women's basketball

- Tennessee's Renaldo Woolridge aka Swiperboy does more than just basketball and hip-hop. He's alo trying to start a new catch-phrase - "That's League". This might be the only thing he does that's not good or "League". That's definitely "Not League". See? Even that doesn't sound good.
Continue reading...

Should the SEC have divisions?

Having two divisions in a major conference makes sense for college football.

There are only a limited number of league games to play, it ensures that the best in-conference rivalries are played every year, and it provides an easy way to determine two teams to play in a ratings-grabbing, dollar-producing conference championship game.

The sole reason you hear rumors about the Big Ten and the Pac-10 expanding their membership is so that both conferences can split into two divisions.

But the divisional setup doesn't work as well for basketball. That's why both the ACC and the Big XII operate as a single conference for hoops.

That leaves the SEC.

And it just so happens that the SEC this season is a perfect example of why the league needs to do away with their basketball divisions.

As of today, there are likely just four -- and possibly as many as six, depending on how the Mississippi schools finish up -- SEC teams headed to the dance. All four -- Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Florida -- play in the SEC East.

The top of the SEC West?

Mississippi State's in first (and would be tied for fourth in the East), followed by Arkansas and Ole Miss. Arkansas is not going to the NCAA Tournament unless they win the conference tourney. Ole Miss, who came back from 12 down to beat Auburn and snap a skid where they lost five of six games, will probably be NIT bound as well unless they can make an impressive run to end the season. Even Mississippi State, who moved to 8-5 in the SEC with a win over Alabama tonight, will need a strong finish to ensure a spot in the big dance. The Bulldogs have just one win over a team currently considered likely to make the tournament, and that's against a borderline bubble team in Old Dominion.

If the SEC were set up like any other BCS league, the top four teams in the SEC East would receive a bye in the SEC Tournament.

But it isn't.

The top two teams in each division get a bye, which means that whoever finishes third and fourth in the East will have to win four games in four days if they want to be the SEC champ. The first and second place teams in the West -- as of today, that would be Mississippi State and Arkansas -- would be the other two teams that receive byes.

Explain to me how that is fair? Please enlighten me as to why it makes sense to run the SEC like this?

I know that it makes scheduling the conference season easier, and I also know that such a noticeable difference in talent between the two divisions is a bit of a fluke.

But shouldn't the fact that a situation like this, where two clearly inferior teams get first round byes, is possible be enough to get the SEC to change things for hoops?

Continue reading...

With Robbie Hummel out, Purdue is going to need Keaton Grant to step up

With one ill-fated jumpstop, Purdue's season may have come to a crashing halt.

Robbie Hummel had seemingly snapped out of a three-game shooting slump last night against Minnesota, scoring 11 points as Purdue jumped out to a 26-14 lead on Minnesota on the road. But with 7:11 left in the first half, Hummel's knee gave out as he sliced through the lane. The junior forward immediately went to the ground, grabbing his knee. He did not put any pressure on it as he was helped off the court.

Anyone that saw the play thought the same thing: something's torn.

Hummel will be getting an MRI on Thursday to determine the full extent of the injury, and while Purdue and their fans are holding out hope, most people are expecting the worst.

Robbie Hummel was helped off the court last night after injuring his knee.
(photo credit: Chicago Tribune)

It goes without saying that this injury is devastating to Purdue's Final Four chances.

Hummel isn't an all-american candidate. He's not going to be winning any player of the year awards. He isn't even Purdue's leading scorer. But he is an extremely valuable piece to the Purdue puzzle. Purdue is not a deep team by any stretch of the imagination. With Hummel in the lineup they, at times, have had trouble scoring and rebounding the ball. What happens if they lose his 15.8 ppg and 7.2 rpg?

Its more than just the stats. Hummel is an unselfish leader and a steadying influence for Purdue. There aren't many 6'8" players in the country that can defend and rebound like a four, but are blessed with the offensive skill set of a two-guard. Hummel's versatility and ability to shoot at the four spot helps to open up the paint, allowing JaJuan Johnson, E'Twuan Moore, and company to execute inside.

There's no denying he is a crucial component for Matt Painter's club.

Assuming Hummel is out for the year, this puts the Boilermakers in a very tough spot.

A No. 1 seed in the tournament was their's to lose. A lot of folks are going to bring up the Kenyon Martin injury back in 2000, an injury that dropped Cincinnati to a No. 2 seed that season. That was different. Martin was injured during the C-USA Tournament, a game Cincinnati lost. The Bearcats never had a chance to prove what kind of team they were without him.

Purdue gets that chance.

And if they are going to retain that No. 1 seed, the guy that is going to have to step up is Keaton Grant. Grant, who is a year older than Purdue's big three, averaged 11.2 ppg as a sophomore, when Hummel and co. were freshmen.

But this season he's having his least-productive year since he was a freshman as he deals with inconsistent minutes. That doesn't mean the talent is gone, however. He's reached double figures the last three games. Against Minnesota, he made three huge jumpers down the stretch, including an 18 footer with eight seconds left that turned out to be the game-winner.

Regardless of how well Grant plays, the one thing we can be certain of is that Purdue's road to the Final Four just got a whole heck of a lot bumpier.

Continue reading...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday's Pregame Beat

Every important game tonight involves at least one bubble teams, meaning that there may be a few bids earned, and lost, tonight. We are just going to just right into the Bubble Watch.

Bubble Watch

9:00 pm: Oklahoma State @ Texas: Despite all of their struggles, Texas is a lock for the dance. OK State, on the other hand, still has some work to do. The Big XII looks like it is going to get seven teams into the dance, but OK State is the seventh. They are 19-7 and 7-5 in the league, but with Kansas and Texas A&M still on the schedule, the Cowboys could very well end up the year at 8-8 in the conference. Is that going to be enough to get in? It may not be, which is what makes this game so important. Kansas in the best team in the country, and Texas A&M (a game played on the road) has been playing well of late. Texas hasn't, and now they are going to be playing their first game without the services of Dogus Balbay. The Pokes would be doing themselves a great service by stealing this one on the road.

9:00 pm: Texas A&M @ Baylor: I'm not sure you can really call this one a bubble match-up, as both teams are firmly in the tournament right now. But as both teams also have fairly difficult schedules down the stretch, every win becomes that much more important. Regardless of the bubble implications, this should be an exciting game to watch. Baylor has a talented back court and a big, athletic front line while the Aggies have their own star guard and have won five of their last six, with the only loss coming to Kansas.

9:00 pm: SDSU @ BYU: There is a lot to play for in this game. BYU is working their way towards the MWC regular season title and a top three or four seed in the NCAA Tournament. SDSU is simply trying to get into the tournament. The Aztecs probably need this win if they are going to get an at-large bid, but that is much easier said than done - BYU hasn't lost at home since Jan 3rd last season, when Wake Forest beat them. A loss would drop the Cougars a game behind UNM in the MWC standings.

9:00 pm: Clemson @ Maryland: The Tigers have made a bit of a resurgence, winning their last three games and four of their last five. The problem is that all four of those wins came at home. Clemson has just one road win in the league, and plays three of their last four games on the road. With four games against potential tournament teams, I think its very likely that Clemson will be headed to the NIT. Maryland, on the other hand, has established themselves as the second best team (for now, at least) as the second best team in the ACC. They aren't exactly on the bubble right now, but they also are not a lock at this point as they don't have much in the way of quality wins. The Terps are going to have their hands full dealing with Trevor Booker inside.

  • 6:30 pm: Dayton @ Temple: This is a huge game for the Flyers. Right now, Dayton is out of the tournament. They have too many head scratching losses (St. Joe's, St. Louis, Duquesne) and not enough quality wins to offset them. Dayton is currently in seventh place in the A-10, and with two tough roadies left (tonight and at Richmond), the Flyers could very well find themselves with seven league losses. Beating Temple, the No. 12 team in the RPI, on the road would go a long way towards strengthening that resume.

  • 7:00 pm: Virginia Tech @ BC: The Hokies loss to Duke drops them to third in the ACC, but it doesn't do anything to change the fact that Va Tech has its sights set on a trip to the dance. The Hokies do not have a very strong resume of wins, but they have a gaudy record and a spot near the top of the ACC. I get the feeling that with a thin resume lacking quality wins (and bad losses), the Hokies have a slimmer margin for error than some other bubble teams. BS has beaten Clemson at home already this season.

  • 7:00 pm: Florida State @ UNC: The Seminoles are another one of the ACC's multitude of bubble teams. They don't have as good of a record or as good of a win as Virginia Tech, but they have played a much tougher schedule than the Hokies. Like Tech, FSU can simply not afford to lose to a team near the bottom of the ACC.

  • 7:00 pm: UAB @ UCF: The Blazers are all but out of the running for a C-USA title, but they still have a pretty good shot at earning an at-large berth. They are in the exact same boat at Va Tech. The Balzers have the pretty record, but they have played just one game against the RPI top 50, a win over Butler. UAB cannot lose to a team like UCF if they want to get to the dance.

  • 7:00 pm: DePaul @ Cincinnati: The Bearcats are close to crisis mode right now. They have lost two in a row and four of five and are on their way out of bubble contention. What a perfect time to get DePaul at home? Lose, and Cinci may as well start booking rooms for the NIT.

  • 7:30 pm: St. Joe's @ Charlotte: The 49ers are in trouble as they have lost three straight to drop into fifth in the A-10. With Richmond and URI to close out the season, Charlotte cannot afford a let down against St. Joe's or GW.

  • 8:00 pm: Auburn @ Ole Miss: Ole Miss has effectively played themselves into terrible a position. Losers of five out of six, the Rebels are now at a point where a loss clinches a .500 or worse finish in the SEC West. The SEC West is not a place where you want to finish .500.

  • 8:00 pm: Memphis @ Houston: So is Memphis actually still a bubble team? If they win out and make the finals of the C-USA tourney, do they get in? More losses to teams outside the top 100 (two) than wins against the top 50 (one) may make that difficult.
  • 8:30 pm: Purdue @ Minnesota: For the Gophers to get back onto the bubble, they need to win this game. Purdue is 22-0 when playing on dates outside of Jan. 9th-16th.

  • 9:00 pm: UTEP @ Southern Miss: UTEP is one of those eye test teams. They have the size, the skill, and the look of a tourney team. They don't exactly have the resume. There may not be a hotter team in the country (10 straight wins), however, and Miners fans better hope that hot play continues tonight.

  • 11:00 pm: TCU @ UNLV: UNLV finishes the season against the bottom three teams in the MWC. After losing three in a row in February, they cannot afford another slip-up.
Other notable games
  • 6:30 pm: Ohio State @ Penn State
  • 7:00 pm: Pitt @ Notre Dame
  • 7:00 pm: George Mason @ Delaware
  • 7:00 pm: Towson @ William & Mary
  • 7:30 pm: Colorado @ Missouri
  • 8:00 pm: Xavier @ St. Louis
  • 9:00 pm: South Florida @ Villanova

Continue reading...

Austin Freeman is underrated

Austin Freeman won't show up on many all-american ballots. He hasn't really been mentioned as a first-team all-Big East performer, let alone conference player of the year.

If you haven't watched Georgetown play this season, you may not even know the name Austin Freeman. One prominent ESPN writer went as far as to call him "Justin Freeman" in a tweet during last night's game. Its not a difficult argument to make that Freeman is the most underrated player in the Big East, and possibly even in the country.

Its easy to see why.

Freeman plays in a Georgetown system that preaches team play, ball movement, and working to find the team's best shot. In Greg Monroe, he has a teammate that is the next great Georgetown big man, an eventual lottery pick, and a virtual certainty to finish on the all-Big East first team. Hell, his back court mate Chris Wright has gotten more press this season, mainly because Georgetown's ability to win coincides with Wright's ability to score in double figures (when he does, the Hoyas have only lost once).

So would it surprise you that Freeman is Georgetown's leading scorer at just over 17 ppg? That he shoots 54% from the floor, 48% from three, and 84% from the line? That he is Georgetown's most dangerous offensive weapon?

But what makes Freeman so dangerous is how unselfish he is and how well he understands the Georgetown offense. It is rare to see Freeman take a forced shot outside of the Hoya's system.

"He's a smart basketball player," Georgetown coach John Thompson told reporters after the game. "He sees, he understands. He's an unselfish player."

"He's one of those guys who can go into an aggressive mode, yet he's not going to make too many mistakes, he's not going to make too many bad decisions."

That's what makes him so dangerous.

And Rick Pitino found out the hard way. Last night, with the Hoyas struggling through a first half that saw them get down by double figures and head into the break down 35-29 at Louisville. In the second half, Freeman took over. He scored the first eight points of the half, and had 18 of the 24 in a 24-3 run by the Hoyas as they opened up a 53-38 lead. All told, Freeman scored 24 of his 29 points in the second half.

And if you go back and watch it, you will see that none of his shots are forced. Nothing he puts up comes outside of Georgetown's offense. He caught fire, but it wasn't the way most scorers take over a game. He doesn't dominate possession of the ball, he doesn't ruin the flow offensively.

He just knocks down shots.

"He got going coming out of halftime - I told him I need you to be aggressive," Thompson said. "He can be aggressive and not force it. He can be aggressive and yet still make the correct pass to his teammate."

Its not the first time Freeman has taken over a game. He had 28 of his 33 points in the second half as Georgetown overcame a 19 point deficit to beat UConn in January.

Jeff Goodman dubbed Freeman the "silent assassin", while Raphielle Johnson said Freeman had "quiet game."

This is a kid that averages 17.5 ppg in the Big East for a top 15 team.

Maybe its time we show him some love.

Continue reading...

Not buying Stephenson's return ... yet

Lance Stephenson told more than one Cincinnati reporter yesterday that he would be returning for his sophomore season.

"I don't think I have had an NBA season this year so the best choice is for me to stay," Stephenson said. "I don't think I've struggled. It hasn't been hard. I just think I just have to keep going to the gym and working on my stuff."

"I expected when I came to Cincinnati that is was going to be tough each game. I'd have to come focused. Sometimes you are going to have a bad game. Every game, you're not going to play good. Some of the games I had, I wasn't expecting it. But I think it is going to come to me."

It is probably the right decision for Stephenson.

Only time will tell if Born Ready returns to Cincinnati.
(photo credit:

He isn't exactly being projected as a lottery pick right now. Draft Express has him as the 39th pick; has him at 41st. He's also correct when he says he hasn't had an NBA season. Stephenson is averaging just 11.2 ppg and 4.8 rpg on the season, numbers that drop to 10.7 and 4.6 in Big East play. He's shooting just 19.6% from three. He has more turnovers than assists on the season.

Perhaps the most telling stat is from his last two games. Stephenson has played just 31 minutes, going 2-9 from the field for six points, in the Bearcat's last two games, both losses to fellow bubble teams.

Seeing a potential draft pick struggle and ride the bench during the most critical games of the season are not exactly confidence-inducing performances for GM's.

Stephenson has the talent. He has a knack for being able to score, with a dash of the NYC moxie that allows him to believe he can score every time down the floor. But Stephenson still needs to learn how to best utilize that talent. He needs to figure out when to simply find his shots within the system and when he needs to takeover. He is still learning what is a good shot and what isn't; what is a smart pass and what isn't.

Its a difficult transition to go from schoolboy legend and New York state's all-time leading scorer to just a piece of the puzzle.

And hopefully he realizes that he needs to go back to school and avoid to succumbing to the NBA's temptation like Lenny Cooke, Felipe Lopez, or Sebastian Telfair.

The only problem?

I'm not buying it yet.

Just like I didn't buy it when Manny Harris said he was coming back for his senior season earlier this year.

And its nothing that has to do with Stephenson being "Born Ready". Remember, when talking about college basketball players, we are still dealing with kids. While they may be athletically gifted, talented, and much larger than the normal person, these are still 18 and 19 and 20 year olds going through the same thing that you went through at that age.

Stephenson is coming off of two bad performances where he didn't get a lot of minutes and Cinci lost, putting their bubble hopes in serious jeopardy. Its only human for him to be upset or to lose a little confidence in himself and his ability.

But what happens if "Born Ready" shows up at MSG two weeks from now, averages 25 ppg, and leads the Bearcats to the Big East Tournament semi's? What happens if he actually leads this team into the tournament, where he goes for 30 against Evan Turner?

I'm not saying that's going to happen.

I don't know the future.

All I'm saying is lets wait until the end of the season before we start talking the NBA Draft and who's in/who's out.
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Wednesday's Shootaround: Louisville and Northern Iowa hurt themselves, is Florida dancing now?

Georgetown 70, Louisville 60: Louisville was in control for much of the first half. Opening up an early double digit lead, the Cardinals were able to hold on to a six point lead despite the Hoyas getting hot towards the end of the half. But with the score 35-29 coming out of the break, Georgetown -- more specifically Austin Freeman -- took control. Freeman scored the first eight points of the second half, and before Louisville knew what had hit them, Freeman had dropped 18 points in a 24-3 run by the Hoyas.

Louisville got the lead down into the single digits after hitting a couple of three, but they really never threatened Georgetown in the second half. Freeman finished with 24 of his 29 points in the second half, and Greg Monroe added 16 points, 14 boards, and 5 assists.

Syracuse 99, Providence 85: Syracuse was up 27-16 with 12 minutes to go in the first half when the Friars went on a tear. Over the next eight minutes of basketball, PC would go on a 31-13 run before eventually taking a 52-47 lead into the half.

It was the second straight half that the Orange could not get a stop. Over a 30 minutes stretch against Georgetown and Providence -- the last 13 minutes against the Hoyas and the first 17 minutes against the Friars -- Georgetown gave up 81 points. There's no doubt that Jim Boeheim ripped into his team at the half, because the Orange were a different group after the break. After Providence hit a three to open the half, they would go ice cold as the Orange went on a 26-2 run to take a 73-57 lead.

Andy Rautins had 28 points, hitting 8-12 threes, to reaffirm our suspicions. Rick Jackson added 28 and nine boards in the win.

Florida 75, Tennessee 62: The Vols mixed up their starting lineup against the Gators, bringing Scotty Hopson off the bench. It worked for a while, as Tennessee had a lead for much of the first half despite Wayne Chism's foul trouble. But the Gators rallied back to tie the game at the break, and pulled away in the second half.

The decisive run came after the Vols had taken a 44-43 lead. Florida would outscore Tennessee 27-6, getting three threes from Erving Walker along the way, as the opened up a 70-50 lead with about three minutes to go.

Bubble Watch

  • Illinois 51, Michigan 44: The Illini picked up a much needed win in a low scoring affair. After taking a 26-18 lead at the break, Illinois allowed Michigan to score the first nine points of the second half before using a 15-6 run to regain control of the game. Demetri McCamey had 14 points and Mike Davis added 13 and 12 boards.
  • Old Dominon 75, Georgia State 62: The Monarchs got 14 points fro Keyon Carter and Kent Bazemore as they picked up a nice win against GSU. Combined with the loss by Northeastern, ODU is now in sole possession of first place in the CAA.
  • Evansville 55, Northern Iowa 54: The Panthers did not show up at Evansville last night as the dropped a key game to the Purple Aces. UNI, who still should be in contention for an at-large bid, may now want to win the MVC tournament just to be safe.
Other notable scores
  • Kansas State 83, Texas Tech 64: Jacob Pullen scored 21 of his 28 points in the first half as the Wildcats knocked off the Red Raiders on the road.
  • New Mexico 72, Colorado State 66: The Lobos got 15 points and 10 boards from Darington and Roman Martinez buried a number of huge shots in the second half as UNM held on to beat a scrappy Colorado State on the road last night.
  • Miami 74, Virginia 62: Dwayne Collins scored 18 points to lead four Canes in double figures as Miami knocked off UVa despite 27 points from Sylvan Landesberg.
  • Seton Hall 76, Rutgers 70: Jeremy Hazell had 25 points to lead the Pirates.

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Wednesday Morning Dump

- Jeff Goodman makes a mean list

- Great read on Derrick Favors

- Isaiah Thomas and Quincy Pondexter guaranteeing wins? UW should be doing no such thing this season

- Gary Parrish - "Keep Calhoun, keep winning"

- Purdue fans should be the last people to comment on Michigan State

- Because everybody's Wednesday needs more Huggy Bear

- Andy Katz asks a good question: why do refs talk to coaches so much?

- John Gasaway makes the WSJ

- I had no idea that folding chairs had their 5 minutes of fame 25 years ago yesterday

- Sherron Collins is a winner

- Cornell plays truth and dare on their road trips?

- You have questions and Andy Glockner has answers

- Anonymous caller dials up Mike Davis

- This will only take Forde minutes

- Jerry West talked Coach Cal out of drafting Kobe

- Isn't this the exact reason why the internet was created

- Get to know East Tennessee State

- Don't count the Pirates out just yet

- New Mexico has won 12 in a row

- Nebraska suspends two players

Another Hitler video: Nova vs. Syracuse

NC State's biggest fan is 10

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Basketball Brawl

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