Monday, February 20, 2017

Marcus Foster Pours In 35, Leading #20 Creighton Past Georgetown, 87-70

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, February 19, 2017

While the Creighton Blue Jays aren't likely to win the Big East conference - that seems to belong to Villanova - they are almost certainly going to the NCAA tournament, aided by Kansas State transfer, Marcus Foster, who scored a career-high 35 points in Sunday's 87-70 win over Georgetown.

A junior guard from Wichita Falls, Texas, Foster was 13-for-19 from the field, canning four of six from three-point range, adding five boards and five assists in his best game of the season. After two years at Kansas State, Foster sat out the 2015-16 season to ply his trade at Creighton and the results have been better than expected.

Foster's range and shooting percentage have improved markedly from his stint at KSU, and he leads the Bluejays in scoring, averaging 18.6 points per game.

Creighton took an 8-point lead (41-33) into halftime, then went on a 19-6 spurt early in the second to essentially put the game on ice.

Creighton (22-5, 9-5 Big East) shot 53%, avenging a 20-point road loss to the Hoyas on January 25. Georgetown (14-13, 5-9) shot just 38.5% and made only 3 of 22 three-point heaves.

The win leaves the Bluejays alone in third place, 3 1/2 games behind second-ranked Villanova (26-2, 13-2). Butler is second, three games back; Xavier, at 8-6 in conference play, is 4 1/2 behind the front-running Wildcats.

With four games remaining on the regular season schedule, Creighton has home games against Providence and St. John's, travels to Villanova on Feb. 25th, finishing up on the road at Marquette, March 4th.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Freshman Lauri Markkanen Scores 26 With 13 Rebounds in Arizona Win Over Washington

College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, February 18, 2017

College teams in the PAC-12 and down the road in the NCAA tourney had best acquaint themselves with #5 Arizona's Freshman Finn, seven-footer Lauri Markkanen, who tallied 26 points and 13 boards in the Wildcats' 76-68 victory at Washington Saturday.

Markkanen, who hails from Jyvaskyla, Finland, is a potent scorer, who is equally deadly near the rim or from three-point range, where he splashes at a .457 clip. Though he did not connect on two attempts from beyond the arc Saturday, he was 9-for-17 overall and canned eight of nine from the charity stripe. He leads Arizona in minutes, scoring (15.7) and rebounding (7.5), and has the Wildcats a game better than second place Oregon in the conference standings, at 14-1 (25-3 overall).

Arizona won their fourth straight, following an 85-58 drubbing at Oregon two weeks ago, and they won't play the Ducks again unless they meet up in the conference tourney. The Wildcats have just three games left in the regular season, with a home game against #6 UCLA looming as the potential conference title clincher. UCLA is 11-3 in the conference, 2 1/2 games back after blasting USC on Saturday, 102-70.

Arizona, Oregon and UCLA look like locks for the NCAA tournament, with either Colorado or Cal becoming the fourth team from the PAC-12 to get invited, hinging largely on their performance in the conference tournament.

Notable: Mike Daum of South Dakota State scored a career-high 51 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the Jackrabbits' 97-89 win over the Fort Wayne Mastadons (no really, that's their chosen name). Daum's point total was the highest in the NCAA this season.

Sunday Spotlight: #23 Maryland plays at #11 Wisconsin, Sunday at 1:00 pm ET in a Big Ten showdown. Both the Terps and Badgers trail Purdue by 1/2 game in the conference standings, making the game a must-see (CBS has the national broadcast) despite the NCAA tournament committee completely shunning the Big Ten in their early top 16 seedings last week.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Princeton Thumps Yale, 71-52, As Devin Cannady Leads 12th Straight Win

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, February 17, 2017

Devin Cannady matched a career high with 29 points and seven 3-pointers, helping the Princeton Tiger beat the Bulldogs of Yale, 71-52, on Friday night for its 12th straight win.

Cannady, a sophomore sharp-shooter, dominated the perimeter for Princeton, hitting nine of 11 shots from the field, including an impressive 7-for-8 from beyond the arc. He was 4-for-4 from the foul line, adding three rebounds and a pair of assists as the Tigers maintained their two-game lead in the Ivy League over Harvard. Yale's loss dropped them into third place, three games off the pace. Cannady scored 20 of Princeton's 38 first half points.

At 9-0 in the conference (16-6 overall), Princeton appears to be well on their way toward taking the Ivy League title and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. They have five games remaining, one of them hosting Harvard, on March 3. Three of the games are on the road, and, in succession. The Tigers play at Brown this Saturday, then at Columbia and Cornell next weekend. The regular season sends at home, against Brown, March 4th.

Looking ahead across the college hoops spectrum, the big game on Saturday is #3 Kansas at #4 Baylor, a huge Big 12 meeting between two teams that are obviously heading to the Big Dance. The game will be broadcast live on CBS beginning at 1:00 pm ET.

On Saturday night, #14 West Virginia plays at #10 North Carolina, at 8:15 pm ET. ESPN has the coverage.

Friday, February 17, 2017

#1 Gonzaga Solid in 96-61 Win Over SF; Nigel Williams-Goss Drops In 30

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, February 16, 2017

The hits just keep on coming for top-ranked Gonzaga, as Nigel Williams-Goss pumped in 30 points, leading the Bulldogs to their 27th win without a loss, bombing San Francisco, 96-61.

Not only are the Zags the #1 team in the country, they're also demolishing the West Coast conference with a 15-0 mark, their closest competitor being #20 St. Mary's, at 13-2, though Gonzaga has beaten the Gaels twice, first by 23 points and most recently in a 74-64 road win this past Saturday.

The closest any team has come to defeating Gonzaga this season was back in December, when the Bulldogs hosted Florida and Iowa State back-to-back. The Zags dropped the Gators, 77-72, then slipped by the Cyclones, 73-71. Since then, blowouts - mostly of conference rivals - of 20, 30 points or more have been the norm.

In Thursday's game, Williams-Goss was at his usual best, making 10 of 14 from the field, including 4-for-6 from three-point range. He was a perfect 6-for-6 from the line, adding six boards and dishing seven assists.

One of the leading candidates for national player of the year, Williams-Goss averages 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game.

The Bulldogs have just three games left in their regular season, all against teams they've already mastered, Pacific, San Diego, and BYU. The season finale, February 25 at home against the BYU Cougars, should be the most competitive of the three. Gonzaga won at BYU, 85-75, on February 2nd.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Khadeen Carrington Carries Seton Hall Past #20 Creighton With 41 Points

College Hoops Player of the Day for DAY, Month, 2012

If there's any team out there right now that's a textbook case of being on "the bubble" for the NCAA tournament, it has to be the Seton Hall Pirates.

At 16-9, the Pirates are 6-7 in the Big East conference, landing them in fifth place with the season winding down.

In terms of quality wins, count an early season win at Iowa, a December 12, 67-64, win over South Carolina, and last night's 87-81 upset over #20 Creighton as plus signs, but there are more than a few losses to teams like Xavier, Marquette, and Big East leader Villanova putting the Pirates in jeopardy of missing out on the big dance.

Seton Hall hosts #2 Villanova on Saturday, hoping to solidify their chances by avenging a 76-46 thumping by the Wildcats earlier in the season.

Getting back to what could be their most important win of the season, last night's win was a coming out party for the player known locally as "Deeno", junior forward Khadeen Carrington, who tallied a career-high 41 points and scored the final 10 points of the game for Seton Hall, securing the victory.

Carrington made six free throws and a couple of buckets in the final minute, including a steal and breakaway dunk that brought the fans out of their seats.

Carrington's totals were impressive: 10-for-15 from the field, including 3 of 5 on three-pointers, 18-for-22 from the foul line, four steals, five rebounds and seven assists.

The 6'4" junior from Brooklyn, NY, leads the Pirates in scoring at 17.6 points per game. He'll need to keep playing at a high level for the rest of the regular season and into the Big East tournament for the NCAA selection committee to consider them for the March tourney.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

VCU Wins 7th Straight, 91-81, Over St. Joe's Behind JeQuan Lewis' Career-High 34 Points

College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) appears ready for another wild ride through March as the Rams won their seventh straight, topping St. Joe's, 91-81, behind JeQuan Lewis' career-high 34 points.

Unranked despite a 21-5 record and an 11-2 mark atop the Atlantic 10 conference (tied with Dayton), VCU has been a mainstay of March Madness since the 2010-11 season in which second year head coach Shake Smart took them to the Final Four. After another year dmeolishing the Colonial Athletic conference in 2011-12, the Rams moved to the Atlantic 10 and continued their excellence.

Smart moved on to the University of Texas following the 2014-15 season, replaced by Will Wade, who guided the team to a 25-11 season, a tie for first in the conference and another NCAA appearance. The Rams were knocked out in the second round, but notice had been served that VCU was still on track, becoming one of the small conference powerhouses in the NCAA.

In Tuesday's home win, Lewis took just one shot that was not from beyond the 3-point line and missed it. He did, however, can 9 of 15 from downtown and made seven of nine from the foul line, adding five assists in 36 minutes on the court.

The 6'1" senior out of Dickson, Tennessee, leads the Rams in both scoring and assists, averaging 15.6 points and 4.5 assists per game.

The Rams have five games left in their regular season, including a key rematch at Dayton, tied with VCU in the A-10 standings. VCU kncked off the Flyers, 73-68, back on January 27.

A first or second place finish in the conference and a good showing in the conference tourney should be enough to land the Rams their seventh straight NCAA invite.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Defense, Bryant McIntosh's 25 Points Lead Northwestern Upset of #7 Wisconsin

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, February 12, 2017

Since North Carolina topped Wisconsin back on November 23, the Badgers had won 11 straight home games.

That was until Northwestern, and junior guard Bryant McIntosh, showed up on Sunday and dismantled the Wisconsin game plan, forcing 12 turnovers and limiting the #7 Badgers to just 7-for-19 (37%) shooting from three-point range.

Overall, it was Northwester's sprawling, clogging defense that took the initiative, while a game-high and season-high 25 points from McIntosh drove the offense. The 6'3" guard from Greensburg, Indiana, was 10-for-23, hit all four of his free throw attempts and had seven assists and seven rebounds. Doing his best imitation of a one-man wrecking crew, McIntosh played all 40 minutes in the 66-59 Wildcat victory that wasn't really as close as the score suggests.

Northwestern was down 17-10 midway through the first half but went on a 21-5 run to finish up 31-22 at the break. The streak included five three-pointers by Northwestern, including one by McIntosh that completed the first half scoring.

Wisconsin held Northwestern scoreless for the first four minutes of the second half, forging a 32-31 advantage, but the Wildcats quickly regained the lead and maintained it for the remainder of the game. The Badgers cut the lead to four points on a couple of occasions, but when Northwestern took a 60-50 lead with 1:16 remaining, the Badgers' first conference home loss was all but confirmed.

The win upped Northwestern's record to 19-6 and 8-4 in the Big Ten. They're two games behind Wisconsin in the conference standings, behind Maryland and Purdue, both 9-3.

Wisconsin remains in first place with a 10-2 conference mark. They are 21-5 overall and a no doubter to be headed to the NCAA tourney in March. Northwestern may have punched its own ticket with an impressive road win.

The wildcats face another big test when Maryland comes calling on Wednesday in the only meeting of the regular season between the two Big Ten foes.