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2013-14 SEC Post-Mortem

by - Published June 12, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
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What does the SEC – the football juggernaut – have beyond Florida and Kentucky on the hardwood?

That’s the big question this off-season. It was already a discussion point during the season and postseason, and it’s not going to end now. The SEC had a 12-3 record in the NCAA Tournament, but Kentucky and Florida combined for 10 of those wins and thus carried them to that mark.

When it was all said and done, the SEC ended up with three teams in the NCAA Tournament. Tennessee was the only team besides Florida and Kentucky to make it. The conference had four teams in the NIT, with LSU and Arkansas each winning a game before getting bounced without a chance to go to New York.

… Continue Reading

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

by - Published January 7, 2013 in Columns
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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
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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
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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
hoopguy-orange

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
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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
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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

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Conference Coverage

2013-14 Big Ten Post-Mortem

July 8, 2014 by

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The Big Ten had some teams slip as the season went on, but plenty of others picked up the slack in another good year for the conference.

2013-14 Sun Belt Post-Mortem

July 7, 2014 by

sunbelt

Membership changes have been happening at quite a pace of late in the Sun Belt, and it was a new member that stole the show for much of this past season and seems poised to lead the way in the future.

2013-14 Big Sky Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

bigsky

The teams that have led the way in the Big Sky of late were right there again this season. One of them won both the regular season and conference tournament, and also had a nice time with the post-season awards as well.

2013-14 MEAC Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

meac

The 2013-14 season was N.C. Central’s year in the MEAC, as the Eagles completed their four-year ascent to the top of conference.

2013-14 Big 12 Post-Mortem

June 30, 2014 by

big12

When it comes to overall depth, the Big 12 this season may have been one of the strongest leagues in a long time. The conference sent seven of its 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament, the first time in 21 years and just the fifth time ever that a league sent 70% or more of its teams to the tourney.

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