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The Morning Dish – Thursday, February 8, 2018

February 8, 2018 The Morning Dish No Comments

St. John’s and St. Bonaventure. What a night it was Wednesday for a pair of Catholic schools in New York on the college basketball scene.

Also, if anyone has been lulled into thinking there are three teams this season far and away above everyone else? Wednesday night provided the reality check.

It became easy to forget throughout January as St. John’s racked up one loss or another in the rugged Big East that the Johnnies were a more-than competent team in November and December, one that looked like it would be in contention for an NCAA Tournament bid.

If one ever needed a reminder, though, they’ve received one in the most resounding of ways, as the Red Storm suddenly has as high-profile of a pair of consecutive wins as can almost be imagined. First, there was a win at Madison Square Garden over Duke on Saturday, and that’s been followed up with an incredible 79-75 win over top-ranked Villanova on the road on Wednesday.

Shamorie Ponds has been a fairly underappreciated star of this season, and he scored 26 and played all 40 minutes for SJU, which went with an iron six lineup. Just six players took the court and all five starters playing at least 31 minutes.

The win was the Johnnies’ first in the Big East this year, and their first over a No. 1-ranked team since its Final Four season in 1985. Meanwhile, Villanova finally may have reached a breaking point with injuries; the Wildcats played without Eric Paschall, out with a concussion, and went with a limited seven-man rotation themselves. More of a problem, though: ‘Nova made just 8 of 33 from three-point range.

Eight three-pointers for Villanova was two less than the triple total for St. Bonaventure’s Jaylen Adams alone on Wednesday. The Bonnies senior is suddenly the hottest player in the country over the past five days-even more than you-know-who at Oklahoma-and he hit 10 three-pointers in a 44-point eruption in his team’s 79-56 win over Saint Louis.

Adams had just set a career-high with 40 points on Saturday with eight three-pointers, including the game-winner in the final seconds of St. Bonaventure’s win at Duquesne. He improved on even that by making 14 of 18 shots, including 10 of 13 from long range against a SLU team that actually has been pretty solid defensively this year.

Adams is a senior who was expected to have a massive final season but missed six games early with an injury and has had ups and downs since. In fact, he had scored a season-low five points just a week from last night in a win over George Mason. He’s rolling of late, though, and so are the Bonnies again as they’ve won five straight and continue to climb out of an early Atlantic 10 hole and make a run at an NCAA Tournament bid that’s there for the taking for a team that has wins away from home against Buffalo, Maryland, Syracuse and Vermont.

Side Dishes:

  • The top three teams were all in action Wednesday. Two of them lost, and the third one almost did. In addition to Villanova, Purdue also was knocked off in stunning fashion with Ohio State coming back for a 64-63 win on the road at Mackey Arena to snap the Boilermakers’ 19-game win streak. Keita Bates-Diop scored on a putback with just over two seconds left and the Buckeyes rallied from 14 down midway through the second half.
  • Virginia also was in real danger of falling, trailing Florida State by 10 on the road at halftime before playing a near flawless second half to defeat the Seminoles 59-55. UVA committed just one second half turnover and held FSU without a field goal for the final 9:01, and now is the new heir to the No. 1 ranking if it beats Virginia Tech on Saturday. Speaking of the Hokies, they got a career-best 32 from Justin Robinson in an 85-75 win over North Carolina State for their fourth win in five games.
  • Another top-10 team at home and another loss on Wednesday as Texas A&M won at Auburn 81-80. Duane Wilson split two free throws with 3.5 seconds left after foul call influenced by the silly semi-circle under the basket, a call that officials could’ve made just fine without a random line on the court. Make no mistake, though-the Aggies outplayed the Tigers, shooting 54.1% and punishing Auburn in side in leading much of the way. Freshman T.J. Starks had easily his biggest game as a collegian, hitting 8 of 12 shots in scoring 23 points.
  • Seton Hall continues to put up some very puzzling and disappointing performances. The Pirates were simply outworked at home by Marquette in an 88-85 loss, the much-smaller Golden Eagles drilling SHU on the glass for the second time this year. If being outrebounded 42-32 wasn’t bad enough, there was the Pirates’ 20-for-33 free throw shooting performance, including 5 of 12 in an uninspired the first half. This is obviously a good win for Marquette, but the way the Hall played here, one has to question just how good of a win it will actually be by the end of the year?
  • Creighton also was in danger of a shocking loss in the Big East, but Marcus Foster saved the Bluejays with a three-pointer in the final seconds for a 76-75 win at DePaul.
  • The battle for Richmond this year was all Richmond. The Spiders completed a season sweep of city rival VCU, winning 77-76 as Khwan Fore hit a free throw with just under four seconds left. The Spiders tied the game just before that on a steal and layup right under the Rams’ basket by Jacob Gilyard with 31 seconds left. Richmond has now won six of its last seven.
  • Nevada has had a very nice season, but a top-25 ranking has become an absolute albatross for the Wolf Pack, who are now 0-4 in games with a ranking, 20-1 in all others after an 86-78 loss at home to rival UNLV. What an atmosphere as this series is heating up in a hurry now with the Runnin’ Rebels on the rise. Jovan Mooring scored 31 for Vegas, while Nevada played without leading scoring Caleb Martin, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury. The issues were more than that for the Wolf Pack, though, who allowed 50.8% shooting and were badly outrebounded.
  • A much-needed win for Florida, which defeated LSU 73-64. Also, Kansas State posted a big road win in the Big 12, coming back to win at Texas 67-64. Big-time bounceback for the Wildcats after getting humiliated at West Virginia on Saturday.
  • Loyola (Ill.) strengthened its grip in the Missouri Valley with a 72-57 win over Drake. The Ramblers hit the 20-win mark with another performance marked by efficient offense (50% from the field) and stingy defense (just 34.4% shooting allowed) that makes this team play well above its limited amount of size.
  • UNC Greensboro keeps trying to keep pace with East Tennessee State in the Southern Conference. The Spartans earned a nice road win at Furman, defeating the Paladins 80-67 with five players scoring in double figures and complete domination on the glass to the tune of a 38-17 rebounding margin.
  • The NCAA announced on Wednesday that TBS will air this year’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show, the first time the show has been on a network other than CBS since the show’s inception in 1982. The option to carry the selection show has been available to whichever network shows the Final Four under the NCAA, CBS and Turner’s current TV contract. The show also will now be two hours long this year, which will be entirely too long if TBS doesn’t go through the brackets quickly within the first 20 minutes.
    The biggest takeaway from this is once again just how shortsighted the NCAA was when it went strictly for maximum money with its latest NCAA tourney contract. Anything that is reducing exposure of the Final Four or Selection Show-the two most visible events around the NCAA Tournament-is a bad move, and it’s just a fact that, of the large amount of population that still gets most of its viewing content from TV, a fair amount of that does not have cable TV in one form or another. Why the NCAA would approve of less visibility for its crown jewel events, while at the same time talking out of the side of its mouth about wanting to make them ‘more visible’…it makes absolutely no sense.
  • A Hoopville note, Phil Kasiecki and Ted Sarandis teamed up for their latest podcast on Wednesday, which you can listen to here.

Tonight’s Menu:

  • Thursday night starts early again with the Northeast Conference batting leadoff, and league-leading Wagner hosting last-place Bryant (5 p.m. Eastern, CBSSN). There are two more especially good ones as Robert Morris goes to St. Francis (N.Y.) and St. Francis (Pa.) is at LIU. Those four-yes, four-teams are tied for third in the conference with 7-5 marks.
  • There’s a mega-matchup in the America East as Vermont is at Albany, thankfully on national television (7 p.m., ESPNU). After a poor start in conference, the Great Danes have won four of five, the only loss coming at UVM. Hopefully there will be a third meeting of these two in March.
  • A biggie in the CAA, too, as William & Mary is at College of Charleston. The Tribe is now a game behind the Cougars, who have won six straight. First of two between these teams, who also meet in the regular season finale.
  • Hot old rivals Austin Peay and Murray State meet up (7 p.m., CBSSN). The Racers have quietly had an excellent season, and the Governors have shown life under first-year coach Matt Figger and are just a game behind second-place Murray.
  • There’s also a tricky test for OVC-leading Belmont, which stays in Nashville but is at Tennessee State. Dana Ford’s team is known for playing well in its biggest games, and the Tigers have also won four straight.
  • It’s perhaps the last chance for the field in the Sun Belt and their chance to reel in Louisiana-Lafayette, as second-place Georgia State hosts the Ragin’ Cajuns. Someone’s long winning streak will end: ULL has reeled off 10 straight wins, but the Panthers have won nine straight.
  • Of course, the night’s main event has Duke at North Carolina (8 p.m., ESPN). The Tar Heels have been a little quiet of late but can change that in a hurry here. Then ESPN goes to the West Coast for arguably the top rivalry on that coast, with UCLA at Arizona (10 p.m.).
  • Stanford bounced back from a brief three-game losing streak to sweep the Oregon schools at home last week; now the Cardinal go to the Rockies, starting with the trip to Utah (8 p.m., FS1).
  • A key game in the American has old Southwest Conference rivals meeting again with SMU at Houston (9 p.m., ESPN2). The Cougars are trending up; the Mustangs down. A road win could revive the Ponies’ NCAA tourney hopes.
  • Southern Illinois is the latest team to move into second in the MVC, but now the Salukis are on the road at up-and-down Illinois State, which also is on the upswing with three straight wins and is just one game behind SIU (9 p.m., CBSSN).
  • Another huge conference showdown is in the Big West, where UC Santa Barbara plays at UC Davis. This should be a dandy.
  • A couple important Pac-12 games to close out the night: Washington is at Oregon (10 p.m., FS1) and USC goes to Arizona State (11 p.m., ESPN2). ASU can change the narrative of its slump with a win in this one.

Have a great Thursday.

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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!

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