Thursday night was another light, finals week-inspired schedule of games. Among the headlines of the night: reserves making their mark.
In the middle of December, the college basketball season briefly grinds to a slow crawl, like one of those heavy coal trains plodding along and leaving you stuck at an intersection for an interminable amount of time.
We also have now passed the one-month mark for the season, so it’s a good time to take an early look at some RPI numbers. It’s still early in the season, and there is still too much upcoming volatility with individual team RPI numbers to worry about those too much yet, but we’re starting to get a drift of the pecking order for conferences.
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We know what Penn State went through a couple of years ago with their football program. It’s been through a lot, and they are now back in a bowl game this year. While the basketball program never had to go through a criminal and then NCAA investigation, it has had its own demons. Life inside the program is not easy.
Penn State is a classic example of a “football school.” Football is sport 1, 1-A, 1-B and more there, especially for the fan base. The basketball team plays a distant second fiddle, if that. I won’t go much into detail – a respected colleague who attended the school did a great job of that right here.
This introduction was going to be about one of the most anticipated games of the year so far, as Duke and Wisconsin squared off in a battle between top 5 teams, Final Four contenders and legendary coaches. That changed after midnight here in the Central time zone after watching Wichita State face Utah in what was maybe the second-most anticipated game-of at least the night, anyway.
The Utes picked up a signature non-conference win, edging the Shockers 69-68 in overtime. It’s a huge win for Utah, but if someone happened to turn this off late in the second half, they should know the win came far tougher for Utah than it may have looked late in regulation.
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BROOKLYN, N.Y. – When Tyus Jones committed to Duke, the analysis included much more than just how good adding the stud point guard made the Blue Devils’ recruiting haul or how good he would be. It even went further than just how good Duke would be this year, although that seemed easy: most figure this would make Duke more like a national title contender than they were last year.
Some understandably wondered what it meant for Quinn Cook, the senior guard who had spent a good deal of time at the point in his career. The past week has given an early answer to that, as well as something more important about this Duke team: they are very different than last year, in a good way.
The weekend has featured several instances of something we don’t see often: BCS conference (or Group of Five, or whatever term you want to use) teams taking to the road against good non-BCS teams.
In the past two days, four teams that went to the NCAA Tournament last year went on the road to face non-BCS teams. For those who have paid attention to this sort of thing over the years, the results of these games were not surprising.
Early season tournaments continue to lead the way, and will for much of the next week. Friday featured plenty of such action leading into the weekend, setting the stage for what’s to come. In one of them, a champion was crowned.
At Madison Square Garden, Texas won the 2K Classic 71-55 over California, frustrating the Golden Bears with their defense all night long, especially the 10 shots they blocked. In the consolation game, Syracuse held off Iowa 66-63 behind a career-high 20 points and nine rebounds from freshman Chris McCullough, who also got the game-sealing steal in the final seconds. More coverage on this is coming soon, so stay tuned.
College basketball’s first big day of the season was really almost all we could’ve asked for.
From early morning to into the night, the day offered a number of outstanding games that might already get some people thinking March. Exciting finishes, back-and-forth games, offense, defense, big schools, little schools, fantastic inbound plays-you name it, you could find it on Tuesday.
The second day of the college basketball season was generally a quiet one. Before getting to Saturday’s games, though, a quick look back at a one that went very late and under the radar from Friday that may well end up being the longest game all season:
Deep into the night in the Rainbow Classic hosted by Hawaii, High Point defeated Cal State-Bakersfield 100-99 in FOUR overtimes. Two nearly anonymous teams playing far, far from home, but what a game.
The teams were tied for five straight periods-including halftime-and neither led by more than six points all night. High Point played without star forward John Brown, who did not play because of a “coach’s decision,” according to HPU. Devante Wallace picked up the slack with a career-high 32 points including seven three-pointers, while Aly Ahmed (26 points, 10 rebounds) and Kevin Mays (13 pts, 17 reb.) both had emphatic double-doubles for Bakersfield.
With Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse entering, much was expected of the ACC this year. The end result? Well, the ACC was still pretty good, but it wasn’t exactly the super conference some expected it to be. In fact, even before the NCAA Tournament came and went with just one team making the Sweet 16 and going no further, it seemed clear that the conference underachieved relative to expectations this season.
The truth, as is often the case, is a bit more complicated than that. That’s especially true when you realize that ACC teams won five in-season tournaments in non-conference play. It was also a nice year for the conference in terms of individual talents.
A busy Saturday is in the books, and we saw the matchups get better, the results continue to be noteworthy and tell us more, and a couple of the games needed a lot of extra time to decide.
Stony Brook was able to hang with Providence until the roof caved in several minutes into the second half. It’s part of a growing process this team in transition needs, and it continues despite dropping a few games along the way.
Maine has a long road ahead as they rebuild under new head coach Bob Walsh. Amidst the early struggles, the Black Bears have shown some reason for hope going forward.
We look at some notes and evaluations from Sunday’s action at the Scholar Roundball Classic, where the blowouts included some noteworthy performances.
We look back at Sunday’s action in the Hoop Mountain Prep Classic, which included an overtime thriller and a couple of lopsided contests, and some prospects who helped themselves out with their play.
The busy weekend that just passed also included a few games at the National Prep Showcase. Here are a few notes from some of the action early on Friday and Saturday.
With a series of prep school open gym visits in the book and the season not far away, here’s a look back at open gyms and a look forward to the season in the New England prep school ranks.
Marianapolis Prep is far from loaded with talent, but they have enough perimeter talent to be dangerous. As is usually the case, they will battle and be a tough out in Class AA.