Home » The Morning Dish » Currently Reading:

The Morning Dish – Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March 1, 2017 The Morning Dish No Comments

One game is just one game, but sometimes in the course of the rather short college basketball season it makes all the difference.

As Selection Sunday 2017 nears, Vanderbilt down the stretch has become one of the most intriguing case studies of this season. The Commodores have heated up late, have a top-rated schedule and are highly recommended by pretty much every computer rating imaginable. They also have a record that screams mediocrity.

Vanderbilt had a golden opportunity on Tuesday, though, to pretty up that record in more ways than one. A win at Kentucky would’ve moved the Commodores to 17-13 overall and also been an undeniable name-brand quality win of the highest order, certain to make them an even hotter subject than they’ve been. Alas, Vandy couldn’t make an early 19-point lead hold up to the end, and the Wildcats emerged for a 73-67 win in the biggest rally in John Calipari’s time coaching there.

The Commodores led 25-6 in the first half, unleashing a barrage of three-pointers while Kentucky got off to a terrible start, again showing the lack of seasoning that makes it hard to count on the talented Wildcats in March. After UK closed within six by halftime, Vandy rebuilt the lead to double figures, but scoring machine Malik Monk heated up again and scored 20 of his 27 in the second half.

Instead of being 17-13, Vanderbilt is now 16-14, and if that doesn’t sound like a big difference, it could be all the difference in a team’s candidacy for an NCAA Tournament bid. Speaking more for the general public than the selection committee (who may well be mesmerized by the Commodores’ schedule strength so much that they nearly ignore the record, much like Georgia in 2001), the closer a team’s record is to .500, the harder it is to pitch them as an at-large team, especially one that had a 20-point loss to Missouri-yes, that Missouri-just over two weeks ago.

The other part of this is: no team in the 64-plus team era since 1985 has received an at-large bid with more than 14 losses, and Vanderbilt would have at least 15 on selection Sunday at its current pace. And there are plenty of good reasons why such teams don’t get at-large bids, because they rarely prove capable of going deep in the tournament (Syracuse last year was the first at-large team from a BCS conference seeded ninth or lower to get to the Final Four since 1986; in contrast, at-large teams seeded there from leagues outside that realm have done it four times since 2006).

The Commodores undoubtedly have played better as the season has gone on. That’s to be expected for a team with a first-year coach in Bryce Drew, and especially a team switching from a distinctly offense-oriented approach under former coach Kevin Stallings to a new coach still feeling his way with the roster but known for excellent defensive teams at Valparaiso. If you saw Vandy get pummeled by Middle Tennessee State back in December, you never would’ve guessed this team would just two months later have the toughness to win on the road at Florida and nearly win at Kentucky. It’s a team that 100% deserves credit for how it has improved to even get its way into the conversation.

At the same time, though, Vanderbilt to us still comes down to one number: 16-14. That’s a record over 30 games that is the definition of mediocrity, and the selection committee can certainly do better. The good news for the Commodores is they still have time to improve that record. The bad news is there isn’t much time left.

Side Dishes:

  • Purdue bulled past Indiana 86-75 (if you watched the game, there’s not many other ways to put it) and clinched the Big Ten regular season title. The Boilermakers pounded it inside time and time again, putting the Hoosiers front line in foul trouble. Caleb Swanigan posted a double-double and nearly doing so were both Dakota Mathias (19 points, seven boards) and Vince Edwards (15 points, seven rebounds, plus seven assists too).
  • Duke built a big lead early in the second half and then held on to top Florida State 75-70, splitting the teams’ two matchups this year. Frank Jackson was the difference, scoring 22 points for the Blue Devils.
  • Iowa State bombed away again and edged Oklahoma State 86-83 to remain in second place in the Big 12. The Cyclones hit 15 three-pointers and then held on after the Cowboys made a late charge in the final minute.
  • Maryland found the cure to what ails it: Rutgers. The Terrapins pulled away from the Scarlet Knights 79-59 to win on the road.
  • The Mountain West has had one wild season, but it sure is finishing on a fun note. Colorado State edged indomitable Wyoming 78-76 after Prentiss Nixon hit a three-pointer with five seconds left, answering after the Cowboys-who rallied from separate 16-point deficits in each half-had taken the lead on a three with 18 seconds left. The Rams now lead Nevada by one-half game in the standings, with those two set to square off for the title on Saturday. Also, Fresno State continues to play spoiler and won at Boise State 74-67, again insuring the Bulldogs are the team absolutely no one wants to play in the league tourney.
  • The Big South and Patriot League tourneys opened with first round games, with all four higher seeds winning at home. The closest game came in the Patriot, where No. 7 Loyola (Md.) had to rally to defeat 10 seed Lafayette 67-74.
  • Leagues continued to release their all-conference teams Tuesday. Among them: the Missouri Valley, where Illinois State guard Paris Lee is the Larry Bird Player of the Year; the Ohio Valley, where Belmont’s Evan Bradds repeated as player of the year, and the West Coast Conference, where Gonzaga All-American candidate Nigel Williams-Goss was named player of the year as well as the conference’s newcomer of the year.

Tonight’s Menu:

  • More conference tournament opens with quarterfinal games in the America East and Northeast at home sites and the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament in Nashville. Most notably, top-seeded Vermont hosts 8 seed Maine in the America East, where the most interesting game is undoubtedly No. 4 New Hampshire hosting fifth-seeded Maryland-Baltimore County. Also in the NEC, No. 1 Mount St. Mary’s hosts Sacred Heart, 2 seed LIU has a tricky one with No. 7 Robert Morris, and defending champion Fairleigh Dickinson slid to the sixth seed and is at No. 3 Wagner in a rematch of last year’s title game.
  • An important SEC game between two notoriously up-tempo teams (or at least coaches) as Arkansas goes to Florida (7 p.m. Eastern, ESPN2).
  • Maybe the most important game of the year for Northwestern is this one as it hosts Michigan (7 p.m., Big Ten Network). The Wolverines have just one win away from home all year; if the Wildcats can’t win it’s not a good sign. Another very intriguing game is Michigan State at Illinois (9 p.m., Big Ten Network), as the suddenly warm Fighting Illini are making a late push and have a prime opportunity here.
  • Rhode Island has a very winnable road game at Saint Joseph’s; in fact, it’s a game the Rams can’t afford to lose.
  • An even bigger game in the Atlantic 10-and frankly the game of the night-is a showdown for first with VCU at Dayton (8 p.m., CBSSN).
  • If Wake Forest still holds NCAA Tournament hopes, it must find a way to beat Louisville at home on this night.
  • Kansas State is at TCU (9 p.m., ESPNU), with the Horned Frogs looking to sweep the Wildcats and the loser slipping further out of the NCAA tourney picture. At least, one would think…
  • Another important game for two teams on the NCAA fringe: Marquette goes to struggling Xavier (9 p.m., FS1), which still sports glitzy rating numbers but has been plundered by injuries.
  • Sliding USC is in can’t-afford-to-lose mode this weekend with the Washington schools coming to L.A., starting with Washington State tonight.
  • Finally, a tricky test in the Mountain West for Nevada which is at improved San Jose State and needs a win to stay tied with Colorado State.

Have an outstanding Wednesday.

Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 22, 2018

February 22, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with floor issues in the Big East and an important NCAA ruling that was upheld. Then we go on to the Big 12, where Wednesday night had a new twist, as well as the ACC and how it shapes up along with no team going undefeated in conference play this year.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 7, 2018

February 7, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a big sweep in the SEC, look back on the wild Saturday, then talk about a Big Ten showdown and some undefeated teams in conference play.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 31, 2018

January 31, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a lot of what has happened in the ACC and SEC, including the Big 12/SEC Challenge, whether or not Kentucky is turning a corner, as well as the story at Michigan State.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 26, 2018

January 26, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a wild night in the Big Ten, adversity and a quiet leader in the ACC, what to make of Kentucky and look ahead to the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about big road wins for a few teams, including a couple of bluebloods that looked destined for losses, as well as an unsettled Big Ten beyond one team, an SEC where you shouldn’t pay attention to bracketologists, and the problems with a proposed earlier start to the college basketball season.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.