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The Morning Dish – Tuesday, February 6, 2018

February 6, 2018 The Morning Dish No Comments

Syracuse may be young, may have a paper-thin rotation and may have been coming into Monday night’s game at Louisville off consecutive unflattering losses to Georgia Tech and by 15 at home to Virginia, but one should know by now not to write off Jim Boeheim’s team just yet.

Syracuse is still Syracuse, the Orange still has talented players many teams would gladly trade for, and Boeheim is still employing his 2-3 zone. Even with the coach barely employing more than six players, Syracuse is still capable of biting teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, something it proved yet again when it won at Louisville 78-73 for easily the team’s best road win this season and one that throws the ACC pecking order into even more chaos.

A notoriously poor offensive team this year, the ‘Cuse shot 47.2%, one of its top shooting performances of the season, and got 25 points from Tyus Battle, 22 more from Frank Howard and a combined 80 minutes from both as they played start-to-finish for the shorthanded Orange. Syracuse was in charge of this one from the middle of the first half on, building a 12-point lead at one point and holding on when the Cardinals whittled the lead down to two points late.

As usual, the Syracuse zone also was a pest, holding Louisville to just 5-for-21 three-point shooting. And while the Cardinals committed a manageable 11 turnovers, the Orange turned them into a whopping 20 points, many coming in the first half.

Syracuse still has NCAA Tournament hopes, and this was a sorely needed victory. While the Orange have talent, the eye test of its results so far is not kind-three of its ACC wins are over old Big East rivals Boston College and Pittsburgh, and if there’s a head-to-head at the end of the season, there’s really no reason at this point why the Orange should get in over a team like St. Bonaventure that won a head-to-head matchup at the Carrier Dome. There are plenty of opportunities to change that, though, with games coming up at home against North Carolina State, North Carolina and Clemson and on the road at Miami (Fla.) and Duke. And we saw just what can happen two years ago when Syracuse can get into the tourney even when it’s had an up-and-down regular season.

After Monday night, though, it’s almost certain Louisville’s NCAA Tournament reservations might be in peril of cancellation. Though the Cardinals wore superb 1983 throwback uniforms with the dunking Cardinal logo on the shorts that desperately needs a comeback, they did little to dispel thoughts that their resume is thin, and that this is a team that has an NIT look to it, regardless of how many bracket projections had them solidly in the field as of Monday.

Under the NCAA selection committee’s new team sheets, Louisville came into the night with a 1-6 record in Quadrant 1 games (approximately the old ‘top 50’ grouping) and 3-7 overall vs. quadrants 1 & 2, or roughly the old top 100, and you can add a loss in at least one of those two categories now. The only saving grace for the Cards is their high pure ranking in multiple ratings (including 26th in the RPI coming in) and a healthy strength of schedule helped by their wisely playing few sub-300+ teams.

For as hyped as it was in last summer, Louisville is hardly a star-studded team, either, and had few performers Monday to recommend the team with the exception of Ray Spalding’s 18 points and nine rebounds (plus some nice assists as well) off the bench. If the Cardinals are counting on an eye test to save them from the meat of their resume, they may well be relying on the test that associates ‘ACC’ with them, because otherwise there’s little to suggest that they’re an NCAA tourney squad at this point.

Side Dishes:

  • West Virginia survived a late Oklahoma rally to defeat the Sooners on the road 75-73, earning a sweep of OU this season. The Mountaineers stayed a step ahead almost the whole way in this one and got 17 points from Lamont West off the bench, as well as 14 points, 11 boards and one huge poke-check in the final seconds from Sagaba Konate, who disrupted Trae Young’s finally full-court dash just enough for WVU to preserve the win. Young finished with 32 points, a season-low one assist, six turnovers, and an endless amount of mentions on ESPN’s broadcast, as the network showed once again it sees no more important role for college basketball to ESPN than to serve as hype man for its massive NBA contract.
  • Bucknell has recovered nicely in Patriot League play from a rough start to the season induced by injuries and a formidable road schedule, but the league-leading Bison saw its 10-game winning streak end Monday with a 92-89 overtime loss at rival Lehigh. This was some kind of back-and-forth tussle with 23 lead changes plus nine ties. Bucknell’s Zach Thomas had a monster game-36 points, 13 rebounds-but Lehigh countered with five in double figures and some poised play down the stretch. The young Mountain Hawks are starting to grow up: three straight wins, two on the road, and back-to-back victories now over Boston University and Bucknell teams that have been atop the league most of the year. It would be no surprise whatsoever to see these two meet again in the Patriot League tourney.
  • Indiana won at Rutgers 65-43. Little paint left on the rims this morning with the Scarlet Knights shooting an awful 24.1%-at home. Juwan Morgan’s 24 points and eight rebounds were a redeeming quality in this slog that won’t be forgotten soon enough. Oh, and these teams combined to shoot 21-for-42 from the free-throw line. Aiyeeeee.
  • The SWAC race became more interesting as Alabama State went on the road and knocked off leader Arkansas-Pine Bluff 65-59, the Golden Lions not able to escape this time after trailing a good share of the way. Closing in now is Grambling-remember the Tigers, the team that beat Georgia Tech? They’re just a game out of first after an 81-72 win over Alcorn State. Not closing in was Jackson State, which hosted Southern on ESPNU but lost 67-62 to stay two games back of the leaders.
  • North Carolina A&T moved into a tie for first in the MEAC with idle Savannah State after a narrow 54-51 win over 2-23 Delaware State. Its already been a special year for an Aggies team that was picked 13th of 13 teams in the MEAC preseason poll, and they withstood three Hornets attempts in the final seconds to take the lead.
  • Auburn’s appeal to the NCAA to restore the eligibility of Austin Wiley was denied on Monday, meaning he will not play this year. While the school had every reason to attempt to get him back for the young student-athlete’s sake, there’s honestly little reason to think the Tigers need him this year, not with a 21-2 record and a current top-10 ranking without him.

Tonight’s Menu:

  • The night starts in the Ivy League, where Pennsylvania and Princeton face off for a heavyweight battle (6 p.m. Eastern, ESPNU). Steve Donahue’s rebuild is on schedule-maybe even ahead of it-for the Quakers, who lead the league at 5-0. The Tigers are two games back in third; if the defending champions are to challenge for the regular season title this year, it has to start here.
  • Xavier is at Butler (6:30 p.m., FS1), a rematch of the Musketeers’ 86-79 win in their first matchup. X won the first one with balance, five scoring in double figures to offset Kamar Baldwin and Kelan Martin combining for 53 points. Xavier has won six straight, the Bulldogs four in a row.
  • Central Florida is at Cincinnati for what promises to be another defense-dominated AAC game (7 p.m., CBSSN).
  • The game of the night has Tennessee at Kentucky (7 p.m., ESPN), with all kinds of storylines. Two top-25 teams (UK is there again), the hard-working Volunteers against the flashy young Wildcats, and Tennessee already won the first meeting.
  • Up-and-down Alabama is at Mississippi State (7 p.m., SEC Network), and the Bulldogs have been just hanging around and are just waiting to pile up some attention-grabbing wins. MSU has two chances this week, with this one and then on the road at the Missouri team coming off a big week. The Tigers, by the way, are at Mississippi, and in the SEC this year where very little makes sense, this is exactly the type of game that Mizzou will probably lose after beating Alabama and Kentucky (9 p.m., SEC Network).
  • MAC Tuesday has a full conference schedule, including Miami (Ohio) on the road at Western Michigan. The RedHawks have been one of the pleasant and quiet surprises of the season and have climbed to 13-10 overall and are now tied for the third-best record in the league at 6-4.
  • TCU is at Kansas (9 p.m., ESPN2), another major gut check for both teams. The Horned Frogs somehow have to at least maintain their current two-games-below-.500 league mark but are already 4-6 coming into this, while the Jayhawks are home again after getting it handed to them at Phog Allen Fieldhouse last time against Oklahoma State.
  • Wichita State hasn’t played at Memphis in 35 years, since the school was known as Memphis State University. Good to see these two playing again, and the Shockers will be challenged on the road again as they try to get right against a pesky Tigers team (9 p.m., CBSSN).
  • Nebraska continues to try to make its darkhorse run at the NCAA Tournament as it is at Minnesota (9 p.m., Big Ten Network).
  • Boise State tries to keep pace with Nevada in the Mountain West when it goes to New Mexico, which is a surprising third in the conference (10 p.m., ESPNU).

Have a super Tuesday.

Twitter: @HoopvilleAdam
Email: hoopvilleadam@yahoo.com

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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

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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!

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