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How the conferences shape up as 2016 approaches

by - Published December 29, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
author_kasiecki

Not only are we in the midst of the holidays, but conference play beckons if it hasn’t already started. Non-conference play is almost complete, and teams form impressions during this time of how they will be in conference play. Even so, as is always the case this is imperfect. Conference play is a different animal, as teams are more familiar with each other from having played each other every year. That’s why we see some teams even in mid-majors get nice wins in non-conference play, but then lose games in conference play that strike the untrained eye as head-scratchers.

It is with that in mind that we take a look at how all 31 conferences shape up based on non-conference play thus far.

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The Morning Dish – Monday, December 28, 2015

by - Published December 28, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-orange

The middle of the Big Ten is going to be well worth watching. There might not be a middle of a conference that appears to be as wide open as this one does, and Sunday gave us a look at two teams that could be there. One was expected before the season, the other, not so much.

The top of the Big Ten appears to be what we expected. Michigan State and Maryland have done nothing in the first month and a half to dispel any notion that they should lead the pack, with Purdue joining them in the projected top three. Michigan State and Maryland both look like national title contenders, while Purdue was a team with potential and is harnessing a lot of it now. The Boilermakers may be a bit of a surprise to some, but not much; they were expected to be pretty good this season. It’s after those three that things appear to get very interesting.

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The Morning Dish – Saturday, December 26, 2015

by - Published December 26, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-yellow

Amidst all the heft in the Big 12, including perennial champion Kansas, it can be easy to lose track of Oklahoma. The Sooners don’t have a big name or personality for a coach, they’re thought of as a football school, and there are lots of other programs chasing Kansas in the Big 12 that are pretty good. If you haven’t been watching the Sooners to this point, though, you would do well to start paying attention.

Oklahoma has made two trips to Hawaii this season, and both times made the most of it. First, they convincingly beat Villanova in the Pearl Harbor Invitational, then they swept to the Diamond Head Classic title, completing the latter by riding a big second half to an 83-71 win over Harvard on Friday.

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The Morning Dish – Monday, December 21, 2015

by - Published December 21, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-cyan

There are lots of schools that in either the short term (this season) or long term (overall program direction), you might want to buy stock in if they were stocks. One that fits the latter is NJIT, a program that once upon a time was famous only for a long losing streak as a Division I newcomer. It’s not just that the streak is a very distant memory that is the reason for it, though, and it’s not just their 83-74 win over St. John’s on Sunday, either.

Simply put, the program now has a couple of big positives.

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Saturday Notes – December 19, 2015

by - Published December 20, 2015 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
author_kasiecki

With final exams in the books, Saturday represented a return to the busy Saturdays that we will see for most of the remainder of the season. It was also a day with a number of great matchups and some very significant outcomes. We saw the Crossroads Classic produce a couple of good ones as usual, as well as a few big ones in New York, and a few more teams appear to be gaining confidence with the wins continuing to pile up.

With that, here are notes from many of the day’s games.

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The Morning Dish – Saturday, December 19, 2015

by - Published December 19, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-orange

Frank Martin has done some very good things as a college basketball coach. The latest of those is making South Carolina relevant once again and on the verge of NCAA Tournament contention, something that continues as non-conference play is winding down.

The Gamecocks completed another 2-0 week with a 65-69 win over Clemson in Greenville on Friday night, improving to 10-0, their best start since 1933-34. They are the only undefeated team in the SEC at this point, and although all non-conference schedules are not created equal, this is the latest sign of progress under Martin. That’s also not to cast their record in the wrong light, because it’s not like they have only beat up on teams with RPIs north of 300.

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The Morning Dish – Monday, December 14, 2015

by - Published December 14, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-yellow

The Big East just keeps on rolling. And while it’s a very different Big East than the one Chris Mullin knew as a player – not to mention a very different Big East than the one Syracuse was a part of just a few short years ago – one thing remains the case: the conference’s teams win a lot.

That’s not to say it’s come easily, because winning never does. It’s been far from a birthright. But like last year, Big East teams are winning at a clip few probably imagined, and Sunday continued that as they went 3-0 on the day, with another signature win among them.

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Saturday Notes – December 12, 2015

by - Published December 13, 2015 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
author_kasiecki

College basketball is starting to take center stage on Saturdays, as this one was full of TV games, and many of them good ones. A few teams scored important wins, but most of all, the games generally lived up to their billing. This is something college basketball needs at a time when college football is otherwise fading from the spotlight for a bit with the time in between the end of the regular season and bowl games.

Here are notes from a number of those games on the day, including some rivalry games.

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The Morning Dish – Friday, December 11, 2015

by - Published December 11, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-yellow

As rivalries go, Iowa-Iowa State doesn’t get a great deal of pub compared to many others. We all know Duke-North Carolina, Kentucky-Louisville, Georgetown-Syracuse, Oklahoma-Oklahoma State (Bedlam), and more. But Iowa-Iowa State has become quite a rivalry all its own; two years ago in the same building, they played a thriller that the Cyclones won. Thursday night provided the latest chapter in Hilton Coliseum.

It not only provided quite a story line with the game’s result, but also with what happened to someone who is not a part of either program.

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The Morning Dish – Monday, December 7, 2015

by - Published December 7, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-orange

It was quite a week for North Carolina. The Tar Heels really appear to be locked in right now, and after two big wins, why not? First, the Tar Heels took out Maryland in impressive fashion on Tuesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, taking control early on and holding them off later. Then on Sunday, they handed Davidson their first loss of the season with a 98-65 thumping of the Wildcats.

So much of it has to do with someone who has only played in the past two games, one whose prior level of play has been easy to forget. North Carolina is undoubtedly ecstatic to have Marcus Paige back.

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