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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

Percolating hoops intrigue makes February a fantastic month for sports

by - Published February 1, 2012 in Full Court Sprints

It’s February — one of the most underrated sports months of the year.

With the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, the biggest event in U.S. sports will command the attention of tens of millions of viewers, generating tens of millions of dollars for everyone associated with the event.

A few weeks later, the NBA All-Star game will show the NFL how exhibition weekends should be run. In my opinion, the NBA All-Star weekend festivities are the best of any pro sport, with baseball coming in a close second. Did anyone actually watch the Pro Bowl last weekend?

We don’t have any winter Olympics this year, but that’s a February event, too.

And then we have college hoops. To casual fans, March is the month of joy. But February is the month that sets the table for March. Dozens of teams are jockeying for position right now, fighting for a better seed and location or merely a bid to the Big Dance.

The schedule-makers know what they’re doing, too. Next Wednesday — just days after the Super Bowl — the top rivalry in college hoops will go down for the first of two meetings in a month when Duke visits North Carolina. That’s a nice way for the NCAA to tell America: “Guess what? Football is over. It’s time to set your sights on the hardwood.”

And of course, as we work through the thick of conference play, we’ll have the rush of bracket projections to feed the hoops addiction. Hoopville will join the fray as usual, starting this Friday. We choose to wait until February because it just feels right. By now, we have a large enough sample size to judge teams’ résumés and make projections that have a good shot of standing up during the final few weeks before Selection Sunday.

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

Get ready for more technical fouls and a shorter leash on players or coaches who act out. Eamonn Brennan of ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog reports that John Adams, the NCAA’s national officiating coordinator, sent a notice to all officials that implored them to clamp down on bad behavior.

Clemson has indefinitely suspended junior Milton Jennings, a former McDonald’s All-American, because of academic reasons, according to the Associated Press. Jennings averages 8.9 ppg and 5.4 rpg.

Arizona will finish the season without junior Kevin Parrom, who broke his foot in a loss to Washington last weekend, according to a CBS Sports.com report. He averaged 4.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg and 1.7 apg this season.

Iona is looking to remain one of the premier programs in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and the university extended the contract of coach Tim Cluess to help make that happen, according to a CBS Sports.com report.

Don’t mess with a player’s routine. North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes shared some of the details of his routine with Andrew Jones of Fox Sports to explain why he changed his shoes at halftime of the Tar Heels’ win against Georgia Tech. Like the rest of the team, Barnes started the game with pink shoes to help promote breast cancer awareness. But he went with his usual Kobes in the second half.

VCU coach Shaka Smart stirred some commotion in the commonwealth during a teleconference Monday, writes Myron Medcalf for ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog. Smart asserted that Virginia’s best schools reside in the CAA. He didn’t call out the ACC teams in Blacksburg or Charlottesville by name, but Smart felt compelled to give UVA coach Tony Bennett a call to clarify his comments.

The NCAA won’t be seeking any further action against Connecticut freshman guard Ryan Boatright regarding an investigation into his eligibility because of money and benefits that he and his mother received, according to the Associated Press. But the AP reports that the Boatrights’ lawyer isn’t finished with his actions against the NCAA, lambasting the organization for releasing private information.

The only coach to ever lead Canisius to an NCAA Tournament win died Saturday, according to the Associated Press. Joseph Curran, 89, passed away in Mystic, Conn. He led the Golden Griffins to a 76-66 record in six seasons, which included a shocking four overtime victory against No. 2 North Carolina State in the 1956 NCAA Tournament.

In a time of tribulation, college hoops shows the good in sports

by - Published December 6, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

The Jimmy V Classic couldn’t have come at a more necessary time this year.

College sports have had a rough run in recent months. Throughout the summer, fans had to try to figure out which conference their favorite team would be playing in when all the moving and shaking subsides. The motivation for conference realignment is all about the dollar bills, often at the expense of any sport not named football — and with little consideration for rivalries that make sports thrilling to watch and play.

But conference realignment was utterly benign compared to the chaos that erupted in State College, Pa., when one of the NCAA’s premier football programs crumbled under the weight of allegation after allegation of sexual misconduct by Jerry Sandusky, a former coordinator. Exacerbating the situation, coach Joe Paterno and Penn State officials appear to have covered up the activities, and it cost one of college football’s legends his job.

Then scandal crept into college hoops, at another sacred program. Coach Jim Boeheim has built Syracuse into a top program, and he relied on his top assistant, Bernie Fine, to help get the Orange there. But allegations of sexual abuse have surrounded Fine, and university officials fired him. Syracuse has received plenty of criticism for possibly failing to do enough to report the rumors of the abuse to police nearly 10 years ago, and Boeheim passionately defended his friend and assistant when ESPN first reported the allegations. He has had to backtrack from those statements, and some experts are calling for his ouster.


With such greed and alleged corruption percolating in college sports, it’d be easy to become disillusioned.

But resist the urge. Or to put it another way: “Don’t ever give up.”

Former NC State coach Jim Valvano made that phrase the motto of the foundation named for him after he died of cancer in 1993. Since his death, ESPN has partnered with the Jimmy V Foundation to raise funds for cancer research. The money goes directly to research, and it goes to a broad range of medical experts toiling to find a cure, not just for popular causes such as breast or prostate cancer but also rarer cancers that have a far worse death rate.

The annual Jimmy V Classic serves as a forum for ESPN to reach a national audience to urge donations, in addition to showcasing a few of the country’s best teams. If that’s not a great role for sports in U.S. society, I don’t know what is.

We go coast to coast with other news from the college basketball nation

Utah doesn’t have a Division I win yet on the season, and the Utes could struggle some more to pick that up after indefinitely suspending Josh Watkins, according to the Associated Press. Watkins has been Utah’s best player by far, averaging 17.7 ppg and 4.9 apg.

Things aren’t much better for one of the Utes’ biggest rivals, the Utah State Aggies. Diamond Leung, of ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog, writes that Brady Jardine could be out all season after injuring his foot Nov. 19 in the team’s win against Southern Utah. Jardine is one of the team’s top rebounders, averaging 7.7 rpg.

West Virginia v. the Big East continues to froth in the legal system, with the Big East’s lawyers moving for a dismissal of West Virginia’s lawsuit attempting to get the Mountaineers out of the conference and into the Big 12 ahead of the Big East’s mandatory 27-month waiting period, according to the Associated Press’ Vicki Smith.

We don’t place a ton of stock in the polls in general, but Harvard’s arrival this week is newsworthy. As CBS Sports.com reports, it’s the first time that the Crimson have ever appeared in the top 25, and they are the first Ivy League team to reach the polls since Princeton in 1998.

Games to watch Tuesday

  • Missouri vs. Villanova, 7 pm EST (Jimmy V Classic)
  • George Mason at Virginia, 7 pm EST
  • Kent State at James Madison, 7 pm EST
  • Robert Morris at Duquesne, 7 pm EST
  • Iowa at Northern Iowa, 8 pm EST
  • Washington vs. Marquette, 9 pm EST (Jimmy V Classic)
  • Long Beach State at Kansas, 9 pm EST
  • Memphis at Miami, 9 pm EST

Coach K closes in on D-I record, passing his mentor en route

by - Published November 15, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

From the hallowed hardwood in Madison Square Garden, a pupil could surpass the master tonight.

When Duke takes on Michigan State in the Champions Classic in New York City, coach Mike Krzyzewski will have an opportunity to pass his mentor, Bob Knight, for the most Division I wins in NCAA history. The Blue Devils beat Presbyterian Saturday to give Coach K win No. 902. A third consecutive victory to open the season would be the record-setter.

In a press conference Monday, Coach K said that “somebody asked me this morning about where would this be in a list of things that you feel really good about, and I said, ‘It’s behind every championship. And not just national championships but league championships.'”

That doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal. Krzyzewski, who turns 65 in February, has been one of the top coaches in the game for several decades after a slow start to his career in Durham. His perseverance and determination are a model of leadership that extends far beyond a basketball arena. In a sport filled with unsavory characters and frequent recruiting violations, Coach K keeps Duke on the up and up. He takes pride in his players’ high graduation rate, and he cares more about the accomplishments of specific Blue Devil teams than his own accolades.

“You want to win a championship with the team that you coach that year, and those are the things that you remember are championship moments — whether they be league championship moments, regular season, ACC,” Krzyzewski said. “Obviously the biggest thing that you can remember easily is national championships. But championships are things that I look back on because that’s a real accomplishment.”

Another coaching legend, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, won’t make it easy for Coach K to celebrate his record-breaking victory. But whenever Krzyzewski gets No. 903, it will be one of the major highlights of the entire 2011-12 season.

We go coast to coast with other news from the college basketball nation.

  • Louisville junior guard Mike Marra will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL against Lamar Sunday, according to an Associated Press report. Marra’s loss is significant as he was an important member of coach Rick Pitino’s backcourt rotation, averaging 6.4 points per game last season.
  • The good news for Louisville is that freshman guard Kevin Ware has his academics in order now and will be eligible to play for the Cardinals starting in mid-December, after the university’s fall semesters concludes, according to a Lexington Herald-Leader report.
  • Arizona had to dig deep to rally past Ball State, which held a nine-point halftime lead against the Wildcats Sunday. With junior swingman Kevin Parrom back in the lineup just seven weeks after being shot in the leg and hand while visiting family in New York City and four weeks after his mother died, according to the Associated Press, the Wildcats found the will to lock down the Cardinals in the second half for a 73-63 win. Parrom contributed six points and four rebounds in 18 minutes to help get the Wildcats the victory.
  • Instant replay might slow down the game in the NFL, but at least the officials get the calls right more often than not. Vermont probably wishes more stadiums had replay capabilities after falling victim to a lack of technology in a 61-59 loss to South Florida played at Division II University of Tampa. After calling a timeout, the clock ran for an extra second or two, but the referees couldn’t review the time on the clock because there were no available video feeds, writes ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan. The Catamounts hit a would-be game-tying tip-in on their final possession — just after the buzzer.
  • Texas A&M will be without one of the best players in the Big 12, Khris Middleton, while the junior forward recovers from a knee injury suffered during the Aggies’ 81-59 win against Liberty, according to an Associated Press report.
  • According to a CBS Sports.com wire report, Marquette will play its first three games without freshman Juan Anderson for a rules violation. The oftense? Accepting a free ticket to see the Milwaukee Brewers in the Major League Baseball playoffs.

Purdue: Without Hummel, Boilermakers Seek Validation

by - Published February 25, 2010 in Conference Notes

With a 24-3 record that includes four wins against the RPI top 25, Purdue appeared on pace to receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament before losing junior forward Robbie Hummel to a torn ACL for the remainder of the season.

But with Hummel out, Purdue should consider the team’s record 0-0, at least until this weekend. The NCAA Tournament selection committee will be watching the Boilermakers closely to see whether the team that ends the regular season without Hummel resembles the team that played its first 27 games with the team’s second-leading scorer. Hummel was a critical piece to Purdue’s attack, averaging 15.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while shooting 36.4 percent from three-point range and 90.2 percent from the free throw line.

Purdue’s new season starts Sunday when Michigan State comes to West Lafayette seeking revenge for a 76-64 loss in East Lansing a few weeks ago. If the Boilermakers can rack up its seventh win against the RPI top 50, they will take a major step forward in validating a fantastic season, even with Hummel watching from the sidelines. And the Spartans might be the right team for Purdue to face in its first game without Hummel. Although the national runner-up from a year ago has a potentially potent roster, Michigan State has lost four of its past six games, and five of the team’s seven losses have been away from the Izzone.

After Michigan State, Purdue ends the regular season against Indiana and Penn State. If Purdue falls to the Spartans, the Boilermakers must bounce back against the Big Ten’s bottom-feeders to avoid dropping significantly in seeding. Penn State and Indiana have an RPI of 200 or worse. Considering that the Boilermakers have no losses to teams outside the RPI top 100, a loss to the Nittany Lions or Hoosiers would signify that Purdue is not as potent without Hummel.

The bottom line is that experts and fans won’t know what to expect until the Boilermakers return to action. However, if Tuesday’s come-from-behind win at Minnesota is any indication, coach Matt Painter will have his team ready to play stifling defense. And the team will likely continue to play efficient offense. The Boilermakers finished the Minnesota game with 45.3 percent shooting from the field, including 35 percent from three-point territory, while committing only seven turnovers. Purdue is one of the best teams in Division I at avoiding mistakes, and Painter will emphasize that the team has a slimmer margin for error without Hummel.

Texas: Longhorns Look for Lead Dog at Point Guard

by - Published February 24, 2010 in Conference Notes

Already having defied logic through a colossal midseason meltdown that saw the Longhorns lose six of nine games after starting the season 17-0 and obtaining the holy No. 1 ranking, now-No. 21Texas (21-6) was at it again Saturday in a Big 12 Conference dogfight at United Spirit Arena against unassuming Texas Tech (16-10).

A little more than a month ago, Texas vs. Texas Tech would have been a pit bull vs. chihuahua kind of dogfight. But Saturday, the Longhorns continued to be shih-tzus, barely hanging on to beat the Red Raiders, 71-67, after the Red Raiders’ Nick Okorie missed a would-be game-tying jumper with 12 seconds to go.

“We really survived here against a team that showed a lot of heart,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said afterward.

Surviving is all Texas has been doing lately. The Longhorns are trying hard not to fall out of the top 25 altogether. But after finding out that starting point guard Dogus Balbay will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee, which he suffered early during the Saturday win, that might just prove impossible — especially in the talent-packed Big 12, which features the No. 1 team in the nation: Kansas.

Although Balbay’s numbers didn’t exactly lead the league — 3.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game — the junior gave Barnes something he feels he’ll have difficulty finding in Balbay’s comrades, J’Covan Brown and Justin Mason: backcourt leadership.

Following two previous calls into  the starting lineup, Brown, a freshman who averages 10 points per game, was sent to the bench Saturday and played only five minutes despite the unavailability of Balbay. Mason, a senior, ran the team for 38 minutes. His numbers weren’t impressive: Eight points on 3-of-11 shooting, five assists and four turnovers.

It’s tough to make much of a one-game audition, but it surely looks like Texas will have to rely on its big men more than it already does to prevent further plunging of its NCAA Tournament-seeding stock. Good thing Texas has plenty of beef in the paint, highlighted by forward Damion Jones, who averages 17.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.

“We’re an inside-out team,” said Gary Johnson, voicing the likely strategy his team will have to follow with four regular-season games remaining. “That’s what got us to the point in the season when we were undefeated.”

Not that anything can really get Texas back to its undefeated-times level, but it has no other choice, and the testing starts right away. The Longhorns have a date against Oklahoma State (19-7) today, a daunting task considering Texas’ recent struggles. Following that, they’ll have a road nightmare at No. 23 Texas A&M, a must-win — along with a decent Big 12 Tournament run — if Texas aspires to get at least a No. 4 seed in the tournament as our latest Mock Tournament predicts.

Texas won’t go far in the Dance, but perhaps it can go out barking louder than it has been lately.

Seton Hall: Injuries Blast Holes in Pirates’ Tourney Hopes

by - Published February 21, 2010 in Conference Notes

Jeremy Hazell’s deep cut suffered during Seton Hall’s win against St. John’s Wednesday might mean the same to his team’s chances to appear in the NCAA Tournament: a cut out of the competition, a burst off the bubble of teams hopeful to be in the Big Dance.

Hazell, who needed eight stitches to close the cut on his shooting hand, was a miserable 2-for-10 from the field and scored only nine points in 33 minutes as the Pirates (15-10) lost a game they had to have on Saturday, 75-63 at West Virginia (21-5).

Numbers like that are almost unheard of from the Big East Conference’s second-leading scorer. Coming into Saturday, Hazell, who averages 21.9 points per game, had been held to less than 10 points in only three occasions.

“It’s a lot different,” center Herb Pope, Hazell’s teammate, said following the loss. “Guys have to come in and play unfamiliar roles. Different players have to step up and take Jeremy’s shots and try to win the game.”

Hazell’s injury couldn’t have been more untimely for a team hoping to get recognition in what’s arguably the toughest conference in college basketball. The Big East features five top 25 teams — tied with the Big 12 for the most in a single conference — and a second win against one of those squads was indispensable for fading Seton Hall.

The Pirates, whose best win of the season was a 64-61 downing of No. 21 Pittsburgh (20-6) Jan. 24, will now have to win their four remaining Big East games and hope inconsistent Louisville (18-9) and the rest of the monster-conference bubble teams, including the Cardinals, Cincinnati, Marquette and Connecticut, don’t strengthen their own cases too emphatically.

But with Hazell ‘s play clearly affected by the hand injury and Seton Hall still missing starting point guard Eugene Harvey with a bruised wrist, it’s questionable that the Pirates can even finish the regular season without anymore setbacks. And even with that, Seton Hall will need a deep run in the Big East Tournament to be offered an at-large bid. It’s either that or the NIT.

Seton Hall better hope it has some fast healers in Hazell and Harvey. They’re essential to make the cut.

Colorado: Buffs Dodge a Bullet

by - Published February 1, 2010 in Newswire

Colorado freshman Alec Burks could return to the court as early as this week after missing most of the team’s 64-63 loss to Iowa State Saturday following an injury, according to the Associated Press.

Burks sprained his left knee, and an MRI did not reveal significant damage. Colorado will host Kansas Wednesday night and could use the services of Burks, who averaged 17.2 points per game and is one of the Big 12’s best freshmen.

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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

Coaching Changes

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

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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