Welcome to the latest edition of Talking Hoops with Ted Sarandis, where we talk about college basketball all around the country.
It’s been a light week, but there is still plenty to talk about both on and off the court. In fact, there was some news off the court that came in right as it was time to do the podcast.
The 2016-17 season is underway, and with it comes the first edition of Talking Hoops with Ted Sarandis here on Hoopville. Here, we talk about first impressions and what to look forward to on the season.
We start with a look at Tuesday night’s Champions Classic, which ended with the best game on the young season as Kansas beat Duke on a late jumper in a terrific back-and-forth game. From there, we talk about four clear top teams at the moment, and how those teams rely on freshmen or veterans to varying degrees, then some early games of note like North Carolina looking impressive and UConn losing two straight. We also touch on how veterans will be key players for teams stacked with young talent, and that has already proven true.
Program! Get your program!
In college basketball, that becomes a more important phrase every year, at some schools more so than others. While there is always turnover even in pro sports, and college sports have seniors who graduate along with incoming freshmen, the amount of turnover seems to only be going up. The biggest part of this is, as has often been discussed, transfers.
Sometimes, the basketball gods get one right. In 2016, they got one right with Yale.
In 2015-16, the Ivy League didn’t quite continue to steady climb it had been on in recent years. It was in a nice up cycle, but this time around, it didn’t have the same feeling not only among the contenders, but also in the middle of the pack. Part of that is because Harvard, who has ruled the league in recent years, dropped off significantly first from graduation losses and then further a key injury. The Crimson still competed, but this was a very different team.
Two NCAA Tournament bids went out on Saturday night, one expected and one not necessarily expected at the beginning of the day. And for different reasons, you can’t blame either coach if they got a little emotional.
We start with the Ohio Valley Championship game, the one certainty when the day began. UT-Martin, who has never been to the NCAA Tournament, took on Austin Peay, the school that’s been there six times and has been among the signature programs in the conference for a long time. Head coach Dave Loos, who for a long time was also the athletic directory, turned 69 on Saturday and has been doing this for a long time. He is the winningest coach in Ohio Valley Conference history, having been at Austin Peay for 26 years; the conference’s other coaches have combined to be at their schools for 33 years. He’s seen a lot, and won a lot, but this one was clearly different for him.
It hasn’t taken long to be reminded of why March is the best month of basketball (or to me, the best month of the year). In another sense, we’ve been reminded why, as wonderful as the NCAA Tournament is, conference tournaments are college basketball at its finest.
And we’re still only just beginning. Not only that, but there was big news in games outside of conference tournaments as well, making it the biggest Friday night in a while.
For the final time this season, Friday night had a light slate with the Ivy League taking center stage along with the MAC, MAAC and Horizon League. At this time next week, we’ll be talking about conference tournaments as the best month of basketball beckons. For now, though, we can focus on a thinning race and one that was finally locked up on Friday night.
The featured matchup on the evening was a showdown between Columbia and host Princeton at Jadwin Gym. Just one game separated Yale and these two teams entering the night, with Columbia being a game back in the loss column and Princeton a game back in the win column. In a game with plenty of offense, Princeton had more of it, as Columbia shot over 53 percent from the field but allowed Princeton to shoot over 63 percent, including 13-24 from long range, as the Tigers beat the Lions 88-83.
Another Saturday full of consequential games is in the books. The bubble is very large this year, with so many teams seemingly in the discussion, and unlike other years where that has been the case, this time around it doesn’t represent a large drop-off from teams that are locks at this point for the NCAA Tournament – and to be honest, there aren’t many that you can solidly put in that category just yet, either, although that’s going to change by the time the conference tournaments roll around.
On Saturday, it seemed like for every bubble team that got a big win, there was at least one that lost a game they couldn’t afford to. In the one that doesn’t have a tournament, the top three teams in the Ivy League held serve, so they exit the weekend with one game separating the top three teams.
Friday night in college basketball tends to be seen as ho-hum at this time of the year, especially since Saturday is such a busy day. But this one was far from that, as there were three matchups of the top two teams in their respective conferences and all of them were important.
The first one of the evening was an Ivy League showdown that saw Yale visit Princeton. On the strength of a solid first half and 46 percent shooting for the game, Princeton made it tie in the loss column with a 75-63 win over the Bulldogs. Yale never quite got going offensively, shooting 38 percent from the field, and they couldn’t take advantage of a 38-25 edge on the glass. Justin Sears had a double-double with 15 points and ten rebounds, and Makai Mason had 18 points, but the perimeter players struggled to shoot on the evening.
In our latest podcast, we touch on a number of issues affecting conferences like Conference USA, as well as a big loss for Creighton, less mystery in Arizona, and more on the ACC as we look forward to the weekend.
In our latest podcast, we talk about a short stint in the top spot of the polls, some developments in the Mountain West Conference, and more of the ACC before closing with the Big East and Atlantic 10.
In our latest podcast, we talk about the great games Kentucky has been a part of lately. We go on to other ACC matters involving arch rivals, as well as some quick hits and a conference race that should be as good as expected.
In our latest podcast, we talk about a coaching legend reaching a milestone, the defending champs looking very good and continuing their winning ways close to home, and some off-court news during a light week of game action.
Early season tournaments are the focus in this episode, with a look at how strong a few Big East teams are out of the gate and how strong the ACC could be. Plus one SEC team had a big week outside the scope of tournaments.
We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.
We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.
We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.
Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout
The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.