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Trip to Yale leads to just the non-conference finish Florida needed

by - Published January 7, 2013 in Columns

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Florida had just the ending to their non-conference slate they needed on Sunday. They took care of business with a 79-58 blowout of Yale on Sunday in a rare visit to a mid-major school. The score tells the story for the game but doesn’t tell why it looks good for Florida going forward.

No one expected this game to turn into an upset. This isn’t one of James Jones’ best teams at Yale, and the last few minutes of the first half and the opening minutes of the second half, where the Gators scored the first 12 points and gave Yale fits with their press, ensured that the outcome of this one would not be in doubt. Yale didn’t mount much of a rally after that, although they were able to score a little more.

… Continue Reading

Plenty of teams prepare to jockey for seeding, selection tonight

by - Published February 21, 2012 in Columns

In the immortal words of the Black Eyed peas, tonight’s gonna be a good night.

There are 40 teams in action tonight, and more than half of them are likely to appear in the NCAA Tournament or seriously challenge for their conference’s automatic bid. We’ve got elite powers like Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio State in addition to upstarts that could make life miserable for those powerhouses, such as Vermont, Valparaiso and Cleveland State.

Here’s some of the top games to track tonight. … Continue Reading

The countdown to Selection Sunday starts — less than a month to go

by - Published February 14, 2012 in Columns

It’s hard to believe, but Selection Sunday is officially less than a month away — 26 days to be precise.

That means it’s separation time. The best teams throughout the nation need to raise the bar to claim a regular-season conference championship and jockey for NCAA Tournament seeding.

For the vast majority of the 31 conferences that receive automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament, winning a regular-season conference title is about more than bragging rights. In many conference tournament formats, the regular-season winner gets a bye or home court advantage — sometimes both — at some point in the upcoming conference tourneys. Teams like the America East’s Stony Brook, Big Sky’s Weber State, and SWAC’s Mississippi Valley State won’t be getting at-large bids to the Big Dance if they don’t capture a conference championship in the tournaments. So they’ll take any advantage they can get. … Continue Reading

Baylor is clearly third in the Big 12

by - Published February 12, 2012 in Columns

At this time of the year, we find out who teams are. The importance of each game in the standings is clearer, teams have injuries, seniors are playing their final games and freshmen have about 20 games under their belt.

Every season, there are some teams that look very good for a while, even good enough in our minds to be Final Four and/or national championship contenders. They have the talent, experience and early on a few good wins. They might not lose a game for a while, even beating some good teams. Then sooner or later, they get tested, and we find that they’re not quite at that level.

Enter this year’s Baylor Bears, 72-57 losers at Missouri on Saturday. … Continue Reading

Round 233: UNC vs. Duke tips off with more than pride at stake

by - Published February 8, 2012 in Full Court Sprints

The first of two regular-season meetings between two of the most hate-filled rivals in American sports goes down tonight when Duke makes the short trip to the Dean Dome to visit North Carolina.

As is usually the case in recent years, this game has significant importance in the standings, with both teams jockeying with Florida State for the top spot in the ACC. North Carolina enters the game at 7-1 in conference action, while Duke slipped to 6-2 after losing to Miami. Duke can ill-afford another loss, especially because the Seminoles and Tar Heels will not meet again this regular season.

Besides the usual hostility generated by one of the most intense rivalries in the game, the 233rd match up between these teams — UNC leads the all-time series 131-101 — is critical for both teams. Duke is facing more than its fair share of critics after a lackluster performance against the Hurricanes. Meanwhile, North Carolina needs to prove it can beat an elite team, sometime the Heels haven’t done in a few months.

For the Blue Devils, coach Mike Krzyzewski will be looking for renewed passion from his team after calling them out for lacking the energy to compete with the Hurricanes in the overtime loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Expect his team to rally around his battle cry, especially on the road surrounded by the Enemy in Powder Blue. To win, Duke will need to play smart defense, something the Blue Devils haven’t done consistently this season.

On the other hand, North Carolina seems to be on the rise, especially after a gutsy win in College Park last weekend in which Maryland tried to beat up the Tar Heels. Unlike the game in Tallahassee in which Florida State annihilated UNC, the Tar Heels responded after getting hit in the mouth and clamped down in the second half to erase a nine-point deficit to win by nine. However, the Tar Heels haven’t beaten a team guaranteed to be in the NCAA Tournament since they knocked off Wisconsin in Chapel Hill Nov. 30. North Carolina needs a win at home against the team’s arch rival to validate the argument that this team should be in the conversation for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

That adds a lot of pressure to both teams, and that might favor North Carolina. The Tar Heels have a roster full of players who have been through this rivalry at least three times after last season. Duke has struggled with leadership on the court, and the Blue Devils must get someone to step up or else things could ugly for Duke pretty quickly.

Let the battle begin.

We take you coast to coast with news from around the college basketball nation.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino got his wish with Memphis, as the Tigers will be joining the Big East starting in 2013-14, according an ESPN.com news services report. Pitino had lobbied for the Conference USA’s Tigers to join the Big East to help replace the power that will be departing with West Virginia, Syracuse and Pittsburgh in coming years.

Florida coach Billy Donovan tried to preach that Kentucky faced all the pressure entering the Gators/Wildcats clash Tuesday night, with the home team trying to extend a 15-game winning streak and 48-game undefeated streak at Rupp Arena, according to the Associated Press. That psyche-out didn’t seem to work as the Wildcats clobbered Florida 78-58.

If Connecticut can rally around the toughness of coach Jim Calhoun, the Huskies won’t be out of the picture despite a bleak couple of weeks, including a horrid loss Monday night at Louisville. Calhoun told ESPN’s Andy Katz that he doesn’t plan to let spinal stenosis to force him into retirement, and the coach could return to the sidelines sometime this season if the pain in his legs and back subsides.

There’s also health concerns for another coach: College of Charleston’s Bobby Cremins. The 64-year-old Cougar coach took a leave of absence Jan. 27, and he told people that he’s just taking a break to recuperate from a lack of energy, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report.

Alabama’s tournament chances could be in some jeopardy after the team indefinitely suspended junior Tony Mitchell for misconduct, writes TideNation’s Alex Scarborough. The junior forward averages 13.1 ppg and 7.0 rpg in more than 30 minutes per game for the Crimson Tide.

Head-to-head comparisons: TIQ studs vs. prime time stars

by - Published January 4, 2012 in Columns

If you’re looking at nothing but overall productivity on the court per 40 minutes, a few big names don’t have the same impressive stats when compared to guys who aren’t receiving as much attention but are legit stat stuffers.

As mentioned in the latest TIQ stats for the ACC, Pac-12 and SEC, I’m taking a look at head-to-head comparisons from each conference. Here’s who’s on tap:

  • ACC: North Carolina State’s Lorenzo Brown vs. North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes
  • Pac-12: Washington’s Tony Wroten vs. Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham
  • SEC: Florida’s Patric Young vs. Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins … Continue Reading

Big East dominates SEC-Big East Challenge

by - Published December 8, 2011 in Columns

We’re still a few weeks shy of the beginning of conference play in the Big East, but this past week gave us some of the best tests these teams will see in the nonconference season with the SEC-Big East Challenge.

These interconference events are great hooks for college basketball fans trying to get out of the malaise of colder weather and bad local football teams. ESPN dreams up match ups that force some teams (cough, cough, Cincinnati) to play at least one decent team before they get into the rough and tumble life of conference play.

This year, the Challenge expanded from its normal eight-team, two-night format to include 24 teams in 12 games over the span of three nights. … Continue Reading

Big Ten rises to the Challenge

by - Published November 30, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

The Big Ten has the look and feel of the best conference in the country.

From top to bottom, the Big Ten has the most quality, and those teams were on display Tuesday as the conference grabbed a 4-2 lead in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Among the premier teams, Ohio State thumped Duke 85-63 as the Buckeyes tore through the Blue Devils’ Swiss cheese defense. Four of Ohio State’s five starters scored at least 17 points, led by Jared Sullinger’s 21. As a team, Ohio State shot nearly 60 percent from the field and from 3-point range. When they did miss, they collected the rebounds nearly 30 percent of the time, which is actually off their season average of about 34 percent, according to Ken Pomeroy’s stats. But when you’re already shooting 60 percent, any second chances at all could be devastating for your opponent.

Although the convincing victory is excellent, it’s not altogether shocking. Duke entered a hostile environment in Columbus coming off a tough trip to Maui last week in which the Blue Devils battled tooth and nail three straight days to claim the EA Sports Maui Invitational title. Yes, they had nearly a week off, but Duke looked tired, as several players launched air balls from deep throughout the game. With eight days off until their next game, look for the Blue Devils to rest up and rebound well.

Perhaps the best win of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge last night was Northwestern’s 16-point victory at Georgia Tech. For a team searching for its first NCAA Tournament bid in school history, the Wildcats had to win this one. Georgia Tech does not figure to be competitive for the ACC title this year, but the Thrillerdome remains a tough place to play. Northwestern was on its game, shooting 55 percent from the field, with John Shurna leading the way with 25 points. The Wildcats’ win is impressive because it’s not like the team is totally unfamiliar to the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory was an assistant to MIchigan State’s Tom Izzo for several years, including in 2003, Bill Carmody’s first season in Evanston. And it’s not like his style of play has changed much in eight years, according to Pomeroy’s stats.

The Big Ten will look to continue its strong play tonight, highlighted by a huge match up in Chapel Hill between North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Here are some other news and notes from across the college basketball nation.

North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes is expected to play in that clash with the Badgers tonight after spraining his ankle in the Tar Heels’ loss to UNLV last weekend, ESPN reports.

Bernie Fine is out at Syracuse after new and more troublesome allegations of sexual abuse emerged during the past week. However, the Associated Press’ John Kekis writes, Orange coach Jim Boeheim isn’t worried about his own job security, despite vehemently defending Fine when the allegations first appeared, going as far as to call the accusers liars. The investigation continues in this case, so Fine is innocent until proven guilty. But there apparently was enough smoke for Syracuse to find cause to ditch the veteran assistant before a raging fire broke out.

USC forward Dewayne Dedmon, averaging 7.7 ppg and 6.0 rig, will miss about a month because of a stress injury in his right foot, the Associated Press reports. The Trojans have been struggling already this season with one of their big men in the lineup. This certainly won’t help the cause.

Eamonn Brennan notes for ESPN’s College Basketball Nation blog that Florida coach Billy Donovan picked up win No. 400 in his career when the Gators dismantled Stetson 96-70. At age 45, Donovan is one of the few coaches in the game who have the early success that could put him in position to challenge Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s record for Division I wins — whenever Coach K calls it a career.

Bracket Breakdown: Critical Questions for the Elite Eight

by - Published March 26, 2011 in Columns

Let’s dive right into today’s Elite Eight match ups between Florida and Butler, followed by Connecticut and Arizona.

(8) Butler 74 (2) Florida 71 OT

In each of the past two NCAA Tournaments that Florida played Butler, the Gators reached the national title game, winning it in 2007 and losing to Michigan State in 2000. These two teams are different from their recent counterparts, and the winner will be one step away from the championship game. … Continue Reading

Bracket Breakdown: How the SEC Will Fare

by - Published March 17, 2010 in Columns

The biggest difference between this season and last season in the SEC is the arrival of coach John Calipari at Kentucky. Coach Cal has the Wildcats positioned among the elite teams in the country thanks to one of the best recruiting classes in the past decade. Kentucky will now roll the dice with a bunch of freshmen who have no postseason experience but all the talent needed to make a run.

Besides the Wildcats, the three other tournament teams look vulnerable to first-round knockouts. Here is a preview of the SEC’s NCAA Tournament representatives.

Kentucky Wildcats (Overall: 32-2, SEC: 14-2)

No. 1 seed, East Region

When John Calipari bolted from Memphis to Lexington after last season, Kentucky faithful knew they had a proven winner who could lead the Wildcats back to the basketball’s elite. But even the most optimistic fans must be surprised by the immediate success Calipari has enjoyed with one of the youngest but most talented teams in the country. Super-frosh John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins delivered the Wildcats a No. 1 seed in the East Region and have the team poised to make its deepest tournament run since 2005.

However, the Wildcats will need its freshmen to play like veterans, even though no one on this team has played in an NCAA Tournament game. Their lack of big-game experience would seem to bode poorly for the Wildcats’ Final Four chances. However, the team’s balanced offense and defense should easily carry Kentucky to the Sweet 16. Getting any further will be a major challenge, though.

Kentucky’s weaknesses are three-point shooting, occasional sloppiness on offense and downright bad free throw shooting. Either No. 4-seed Wisconsin or No. 5-seed Temple has the defensive fortitude necessary to slow down the Wildcat’s uber-athletic lineup. They also play a painfully slow pace, which will encourage Wall to try to force plays. Wisconsin and Temple are great at getting back on defense, so the Wildcats won’t have many opportunities in transition. And the Owls and Badgers are among the top teams in defensive field goal percentage. That spells trouble for Kentucky.

Look for Wall and company to make some noise with spectacular plays throughout three games before falling to a more veteran and controlled Wisconsin squad.

Vanderbilt Commodores (Overall: 24-8, SEC: 12-4)

No. 4 seed, West Region

Vanderbilt has had another strong season, entering the NCAA Tournament with 24 wins. After seemingly being on the hot seat each year, coach Kevin Stallings has established the Commodores, the No. 4 seed in the West Region, as a perennial SEC contender. That’s impressive in a conference that contains the likes of Kentucky, Florida and LSU.

This season, the Commodores have a squad that can beat great teams or lose to mediocre ones. Vanderbilt needs to be ready to play in San Jose against No. 13-seed Murray State, which has a balanced, experienced lineup. Unlike past seasons, Vanderbilt does not get a high percentage of its points from three-point territory, preferring to work the offense through Aussie big man A.J. Ogilvy. However, the Racers are No. 4 in the nation in field goal percentage inside the arc. If Vanderbilt cannot get good looks inside the three-point line, the Commodores will struggle.

Six of Vanderbilt’s wins this seasons were decided by five points or less. Although it’s good that the Commodores know how to win close games, they might have benefited from a statistical anomaly. Vanderbilt’s opponents shoot an absolutely putrid 63.5 percent from the free throw line. How many points did those opponents leave at the line? Would Vanderbilt even be in the tournament if they had lost four of those six games and had 12 losses? The deciding factor in a major first-round upset will be the Racers’ 70.3 percent shooting from the line, including the performances of three players who log at least 50 percent of the team’s minutes and shoot at least 77 percent from the line.

Tennessee Volunteers (Overall: 25-8, SEC: 11-5)

No. 6 seed, Midwest Region

When we last saw Tennessee, the Volunteers were getting stomped by Kentucky, 74-45, in the SEC Tournament. Will that loss portend a short NCAA Tournament trip, or will coach Bruce Pearl rally the troops, starting against No. 11-seed San Diego State? Tennessee has the defense necessary to bounce back but the offensive inconsistency to lose ugly again.

Tennessee’s defense ranks No. 8 in defense efficiency, mostly on the strength of great three-point defense. Opponents shoot only 29.3 percent from long range. However, that might not matter against San Diego State, which focuses more on the inside game than perimeter. Neither team looks strong, and the Volunteers should find a way to win before losing to No. 3-seed Georgetown in the second round.

Florida Gators (Overall: 21-12, SEC: 9-7)

No. 10 seed, West Region

Several spurned teams, now in the NIT, probably take issues with Florida’s inclusion in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators will try to justify their bid against No. 7-seed BYU, but they won’t have much success. The Cougars have offensive and defensive advantages, while the Gators don’t excel at anything. They are an all-around solid club, as evidenced by wins against Tennessee and Michigan State. But Florida lacks consistency and generally loses to better teams. Look for that trend to continue as the weakest SEC team in the tournament bows out without much fanfare.

College Basketball Tonight

COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, who will be joined by former Manhattan and Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez and many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show will air on AM 970 The Answer in New York City from 7-9 p.m. on every Sunday from Selection Sunday to the Final Four. You can listen to the show here.

Your Phil of Hoops

Watson’s transfer will sting BU the most

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Boston University recently saw three players transfer. The impact of the departure of one of them will be felt more than the other two.

Mihalich’s first year at Hofstra is over but will have plenty of value

March 9, 2014 by


The first year for Hofstra under Joe Mihalich is in the books. Many expected that wins would be hard to come by, and they were, but this season was about more than that and is hardly a throwaway year.

Cornell’s future can only be better

March 2, 2014 by


Cornell has had a rough season, as could be expected given some personnel losses. It’s almost in the books, and the future at least looks brighter.

2013 Prep School Tour

Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: St. Andrew's
Sept 10: Tilton
Sept. 11: South Kent School and Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 12: Putnam Science Academy
Sept. 16: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 17: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 23: New Hampton School
Sept. 24: Brimmer and May
Sept. 25: Proctor Academy
Sept. 26: Notre Dame Prep and Cushing Academy
Sept. 29: Worcester Academy and Vermont Academy
Oct. 6: Charlestown High School and Milton Academy
Oct. 13: Tabor Academy
Oct. 15: Brooks School

Hoopville Archives

City Hoops Recruiting

Make sure you check out City Hoops Recruiting for more coverage of recruiting in the Boston area and all over Massachusetts, including our travel team profiles for the 2014 spring and summer.

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

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

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

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