Thursday, January 31, 2008

Kansas beaten; Memphis rolls on

And then there was one.

The top-ranked Memphis Tigers stand alone as the only undefeated team in the nation, at 20-0, after the Tigers defeated Houston, 89-77 and #2 Kansas fell at Kansas State, 84-75.

It was the Jayhawks' first loss of the season. They are 20-1.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tigers, Jayhawks Remain Unbeaten

As the college hoops world turns...

The top two teams in every poll, Memphis and Kansas kept on winning on Saturday. The Jayhawks, ranked a strong #2, had the easier time of it, taking to their home court against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, a team they had already defeated, 79-58 on the road. Kansas got 18 from Darrell Arthur and 17 out of Brandon Rush in a 84-49 walkover win to get to 20-0. The result was hardly in doubt, as the Jayhawks built a 44-17 lead by halftime.

Memphis had a little more difficulty, but kept the Gonzaga hopefuls at bay, winning 81-73, for their 19th straight win. Chris Douglas-Roberts poured in 21 points for the Tigers, but Derrick Rose had a monster game, with 19 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals and a blocked shot. The Tigers should be able to coast along through their relatively easy Conference-USA schedule until they host SEC powerhouse Tennessee on Feb. 23.

Speaking of the Vols, Chris Lofton hit 7 3-pointers and tallied 27 points to lead Tennessee past Georgia, 85-69. Tennessee shot 57% from the field. The Volunteers are 17-2 overall and tied for first place in the SEC East with Florida at 4-1.

After knocking North Carolina out of the #1 spot last week, the Maryland Terrapins found the Duke Blue Devils a little tougher act to follow, dropping a 93-84 decision at College Park. DeMarcus Nelson scored 27, and Gerald Henderson had 23 for 16-1 Duke, the only team in the ACC without a loss in the conference. Mark down Feb. 6, when the Devils play at North Carolina.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tennessee Shuffled; A&M Un-Bear-Able

Kentucky 82 Tennessee 76

Upsets are a way of life in the upper echelons of college basketball. Kentucky is making them part of their routine in the SEC.

After handing Vanderbilt their first loss of the season ten days before, skeptics figured the Wildcats couldn't do the same against the deeper, more experienced Volunteers from Tennessee on Tuesday night. As it was, Kentucky had lost two straight after the upset of Vandy, both on the road, to Mississippi St. and Florida.

The skeptics were wrong.

Kentucky used their size advantage inside to upend the #5 Vols, 82-76 as Patrick Patterson scored 20 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Though star guard Chris Lofton led the way for the Vols with 22, including 5 3-pointers, his offense wasn't enough down the stretch. Kentucky had trailed by 10 in the second half, but Joe Crawford hit back-to-back treys to tie the game with 11 minutes remaining.

The teams traded leads as time wore on, but the Wildcats played solid defense and came away with another unlikely upset at Rupp Arena, where they are 2-0 in SEC play.

The Volunteers fell to 16-2 and 3-1 in the conference, a half game behind the Gators in the SEC East.

Baylor 116 Texas A&M 110, 5 OT

The Aggies probably wish they could start their conference schedule over again. They began play in the Big 12 with a 14-1 record and were fresh off a confidence-building 79-53 romp over LSU. They beat Colorado handily in their conference opener, 86-69, but then lost 2 straight, at Texas Tech and Kansas State.

Heading back to their home court against Baylor should have been just what the doctor ordered to snap them back to life. Instead, they ended in a battle to the death in five overtimes with the Baylor Bears, finally coming out on the wrong end of the score with their third straight loss, 116-110.

The Aggies continue to slide through the rankings, dropping to #16 last week and falling, now that they are now 15-4.

Baylor, on the other hand, should move up on Monday if they can get past 13-5 Oklahoma on Saturday. The bears are tied with #2 Kansas at 4-0 atop the Big 12 standings.

The Bears were led by junior guard Curtis Jerrells, who scored 36 points, including 20-24 from the foul line. Jerrells and his teammates actually won big time at the line, hitting 39-47 (.830) to the Aggies' 36-59 (.608).

80% free throw shooting will serve any team well, especially come March. Beware the Bears.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Syracuse takes Georgetown to OT

Georgetown 64 Syracuse 62 - Roy Hibbert scored 15 points and snatched 9 rebounds and Jonathan Wallace scored 15, including hitting 4-of-7 3-pointers as the Hoyas won their 10th straight home game Monday night.

It was not easy for the 15-2 Hoyas, who overcame a 7-point deficit in the final five minutes to force overtime. Syracuse's phenomenal frosh, Johnny Flynn, scored 24 points to lead all scorers. Georgetown was also outrebounded by the Orangemen, 38-29.

Flynn, averaging 15.4 points per outing and has been held to single digits just once in the last 16 games, was largely stymied down the stretch, ending the night at 9-23 from the field, though he was 4-10 from beyond the arc.

Georgetown retained their first place standing in the Big East at 5-1 while Syracuse fell to 3-4. West Virginia, DePaul and Cincinnati are all a game back at 4-2, with five more teams deadlocked at 3-2.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Shakeup in the Top 25

Some very big noise made via upsets over the past few days, not the least of which was Maryland's 82-80 overthrow of number one North Carolina.

(the current poll results are over in the left-hand column)

However, considering the level of overall talent in the ACC, it was to be expected that the Tar Heels were going to lose at least a couple of games in the conference. Now, losing to a very green and unranked Maryland team may surprise some, but the Terrapins always have a team capable of ruining any opponent's plans, and they always make the NCAA field of 65.

Glendale Golfs Manitoba
Glendale Manitoba Golf Winnipeg Golfs.
Coach Gary Williams consistently puts a solid product on the floor, has a NCAA championship to his credit and is in his 19th season at the University of Maryland, so, no surprise that the Terps beat the Heels, but doing it at Chapel Hill does raise some eyebrows.

What is interesting is to find another ACC team - Duke - jumping past their arch-rivals into the #3 spot behind Memphis and Kansas, both of which remained undefeated. Memphis made the top spot (in the AP Poll) for the first time since 1983, before any of the current players were even born. Duke knocked up Clemson pretty good on Sunday, 93-80, and were given the credit they deserve. The Blue Devils are just a one-point loss at Pitt from being undefeated themselves.

Other Top 25 teams that lost on Saturday:

Mississippi, 80-77, at Auburn
Pittsburgh, 62-59, at Cincinnati
Texas A&M was outscored 40-21 in the second half in its 75-54 thumping at Kansas St.
Miami, 79-77, at NC State
Arizona State, 67-52, at Stanford
UCLA, 72-63, at home to USC

Sunday's solitary Top 25 loser was Marquette, 89-73, at Connecticut. That's two straight losses for the Golden Eagles and their third in the Big East (3-3).

It's fascinating to note that the biggest upsets - North Carolina and UCLA - were on their home courts. Really great teams don't lose many on their own floors, so it bears watching if these two stumble as tourney time approaches.

Things are still pretty fluid and no team has demonstrated clear superiority, though, as stated in a previous post, Memphis appears on track to make it to the tourney unbeaten. For Kansas, accomplishing that feat would make them odds on to win it all. For now, the Jayhawks look to be gilt-edged, but the Big 12 is hazardous.

Looking ahead, #23 Drake is at Creighton and #5 Tennessee should cruise at Kentucky Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, #16 Texas A&M travels to Baylor, looking to avoid their second straight road loss. #4 North Carolina visits Miami. The Tar Heels don't want to lose their second straight, while the Hurricanes seek respect and a return to the Top 25.

On Thursday, the Dayton Flyers (19) travel to Xavier (22). The winner will take at least a share of the Atlantic 10 lead.

We'll be updating those games and others in the days ahead. Tonight, Syracuse visits Georgetown. While the 'Cuse is in somewhat of a downtrend, they'll give the Hoyas a game, but Roy Hibbert, who terrorized the Irish to the tune of 21 points in Saturday's 84-65 pounding of Notre Dame, looks to be putting his complete game together.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Butler Busted; Louisville Routs Marquette

Cleveland St. 56 Butler 52

The mighty may not have fallen, but some mites got bitten on Thursday night.

In the mid-majors, Butler met their match as the Cleveland State Vikings upended the #12 Bulldogs, 56-52, with a pressure defense that forced the visitors into their poorest shooting performance of the season.

Butler could only manage 18-53 field goals (.340) including a mere 6-23 from beyond the arc, as Cleveland State played tight defense and got inside scoring from J'Nathan Bullock (14 points) and timely sharpshooting from Joe Davis, who hit 5 of 7 from the field with 3 of 4 threes for 13 points. Cedric Jackson was also on his game, hitting 4-6, tallying 14 for the game.

Fish , Hunt Ducks and Waterfowl Lake Manitoba Narrows
Golf, Fish Walleye , Fall Duck Hunting at Resort Lake Manitoba Narrows Home Cottage Lot.
Butler star A.J. Graves was hounded all night, and finished with a dismal 2 of 11 from the floor and 5 points, matching his worst outing of the season, a 73-66 win over Valparaiso.

The loss was the second of the season for the Bulldogs (16-2), both to Horizon League opponents. Their first loss was at Wright State, 43-42 on December 8, and had won 8 straight since. Cleveland St. improved to 13-5, but won their 6th straight in the Horizon League without a loss, improving their lead over Butler to two games.

Louisville 71 Marquette 51

Everybody's healthy again for Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals and they're making some noise in the Big East.

David Padgett scored 17 points and hauled in 10 rebounds and Terrence Williams pitched in a game-high 20 points as the Cardinals won their 4th straight and 8th of their last 9, routing 15th ranked Marquette, 71-51.

Louisville improved to 3-1 in the conference and are in a 4-way tie for first place with Notre Dame, Pitt and Georgetown.

Marquette shot just 30 percent from the field and fell to 3-2 in the conference and 13-3 overall.

Tennessee 80 Vanderbilt 60

The Vols showed everybody who's the boss in the SEC with a consummate victory over #16 Vanderbilt.

Wayne Chism showed his versatility with a game high 20 points, hitting 8 of 13 shots from the floor, including 2 of 4 from 3-point range. JaJuan Smith and Tyler Smith each chipped in with 14 as the #6 Volunteers improved to 15-1. Vandy won 16 straight to open the season, but have dropped two straight, the first a 79-73, double overtime loss at Kentucky this past Saturday.

Monday, January 14, 2008

KU Goes to 18-0; Top 25 Upsets Update

There are some very good teams in the heartland, and then there's Kansas.

The Jayhawks sent a message to the rest of the conference with a pair of dominating performances in their first two Big 12 games, whipping Nebraska, 79-58 on Saturday, and then thumping Oklahoma, 85-55, Monday night.

Brandon Rush scored a team-high 19 in the win over Nebraska and followed that performance with 16 points against the Sooners. Darnell Jackson led the team in the Oklahoma game with 17 points on 8-10 shooting. The two wins put the Jayhawks at 18-0.

Over the weekend, a handful of notable upsets shook up college hoops and the Top 25.

It all began Saturday afternoon when Kentucky took undefeated Vanderbilt in double overtime, 79-73, followed by UCLA's dismissal of Washington State from the unbeaten club, 81-74.

But the biggest upset of the day took place in Iowa City, where the Hawkeyes unceremoniously dumped Michigan St., 43-36. Iowa actually shot just 28% and won, as the Spartans weren't much better at 31%, hitting just 16 of 52 shots. Michigan St. turned the ball over 18 times for their second loss of the season.

Glendale Golfs Manitoba
Glendale Manitoba Golf Winnipeg Golfs.
Also on Saturday, the Missouri Tigers shot the lights out (56% and 12-26 on 3's) and walloped Texas, 97-84. Six Tigers scored in double figures. The Longhorns subsequently fell from #13 to #19 in the USA Today/ESPN poll.

In the Big East, Cincinnati knocked #16 Villanova down one notch after beating them 69-66.

On Sunday, Oregon kicked Stanford right out of the Top 25 with a 71-66 win and on Monday, #15 Pitt struck with an upset of #5 Georgetown, setting the stage for more Top 25 changes to come.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Vandy, Washington State Eliminated from Unbeaten Ranks

And then there were three.

UCLA knocked Washington State off their lofty perch, handing the Cougars their first loss of the season, and it was mayhem in Lexington as Billy Gillispie had his team focused on a win. With the undefeated Commodores in town, Kentucky entered the game losers of 6 of their last 8, with an overall record of 6-7. This was their first SEC game.

Rupp Arena has seen it's share of upsets, but on Saturday, the Kentucky Wildcats exposed Vanderbilt's weakness and smothered the previously-unbeaten Commodores, 79-73.

The Wildcats consistently fed their big man, Patrick Patterson, in the first half, and he not only ate the Commodore's lunch, but polished off dinner and enjoyed a nice dessert and a cup of coffee. The 6'8" freshman, pounded the ball inside to the tune of a game-high 22 points on 7 for 12 shooting with 8 of 11 free throws and 12 rebounds.

In the second stanza and overtime, it was all Ramel Bradley, who scored 18 points - including the game-clincher with 32 seconds left in the second OT - after being held scoreless for the first 20 minutes.

It was ugly for Vandy from the start, as Kentucky led by as many as 16 points in the first half. Patterson led the way with 14 points in the opening period, which ended with Kentucky holding a 10-point lead, 32-22.

The Commodores closed the gap in the second half as Shan Foster and Alex Gordon turned up the shooting. Vanderbilt's freshman sensation, A. J. Ogilvy delivered a key basket with under thee minutes to play cutting the lead to 3, but was limited to 16 points on 6-11 shooting. Foster cut the lead to 2 points (63-61) at the 1:45 mark on a deep three-pointer.

After Kentucky's Ramel Bradley hit a short jumper and a free throw by Vandy's Jermaine Beal made it 65-62, Kentucky turned the ball over on consecutive possessions with under 40 seconds to play, giving the Commodores life. Foster banged home his 4th three pointer of the game to tie it at 65-all with 17 seconds to play.

In the first overtime, Ogilvy scored a key put-back with 4 seconds remaining to force another extra 5 minute period.

Foster finished with 20; Gordon tallied 12.

Patterson improved on his averages of 16.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, leading the Wildcats in both departments.

The losses leave just three undefeated teams in the NCAA. North Carolina pounded in-state rival NC State, 93-62. Memphis and Kansas played late games.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Five Undefeated... for How Long?

As the rigors of conference play get underway, there are only five undefeated teams in the college basketball ranks and the obvious question is whether any of them have what it takes to become the first team to win the NCAA National Championship since the Bobby Knight's 1976 Indiana Hoosiers, who went 32-0, beating Michigan 86-68 in the finals in Philadelphia.

North Carolina (16-0)
Memphis (14-0)
Kansas (15-0)
Washington St. (14-0)
Vanderbilt (16-0)

There they are, five teams with a cumulative record of 75-0. By this time next month, odds are that there will be three or less, maybe none, though the team which stands out as having the best chance of making it through not only January, but February and into March - the Memphis Tigers.

Fish , Hunt Ducks and Waterfowl Lake Manitoba Narrows
Golf, Fish Walleye , Fall Duck Hunting at Resort Lake Manitoba Narrows Home Cottage Lot.
Having already knocked off three ranked opponents (USC, Georgetown and Arizona), the next test for John Calipari's Tigers might not be until February 23, when they host the Tennessee Volunteers. The Vols are currently ranked #8 and just knocked Mississippi from the ranks of the undefeated, 85-83, this past Wednesday.

Before they get to that game with the Vols, Memphis faces a schedule made up nearly exclusively of Conference-USA opposition. In a league that was severely watered-down when Louisville, Cincinnati, DePaul and Marquette jumped to the Big East a few seasons back, the Tigers face an undistinguished group of teams including the likes of Marshall (9-4), Rice (3-11), Tulsa (8-4) and Southern Miss (8-7). On January 26, Gonzaga comes calling, but the Zags aren't the Western powerhouse they used to be, having already dropped decisions to Texas Tech, Washington St. Oklahoma and Tennessee.

The Tigers swept their conference games last season and they're likely to do it again. There simply isn't any measurable competition in the league that can stand up to the formidable inside game of Joey Dorsey and Robert Dozier who combine for 19 points and 17 rebounds per outing. Nor can anyone match up with leading scorer Chris Douglas-Roberts (16.9 ppg) or the quickness of point guard Derrick Rose (4.5 apg).

Should the Tigers get past the Zags and the Vols, they should make a serious run at least to the Final Four.

If any other team has the skills and schedule to run the table, it's probably not going to be Vanderbilt. The Commodores have Tennessee on tap for Jan. 17 and the arduous itinerary of the SEC is simply too tough for anyone to get through unscathed. Besides, Vandy hasn't even played a ranked opponent yet. They're good, but finishing conference play with less than four losses would be accomplishment enough.

Out West, Washington State has defied skeptics and the odds, compiling a 14-0 record. Their big test comes tomorrow, Jan. 12, when they travel down coast to #5 UCLA. If they win that, the Cougars still have to wend their way through the tough PAC-10, including trips to Arizona, Arizona St., Stanford and Oregon. Good luck.

That leaves Kansas and North Carolina. While the Tar Heels are heads and shoulders better than almost every team in the ACC, the rivalries run deep and the games are hard-fought. If Roy Williams can guide his troops to an undefeated run through one of the toughest conferences in the country, hand them the trophy. The same applies to the Jayhawks, who face serious challenges in the Big 12 from Texas, Texas A&M and sneaky-good teams like Oklahoma, Kansas State and Missouri.

We're down to five now, but don't be surprised if there aren't any unbeatens come tourney time, though Memphis just may have the horses to get it done.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Few Facts about the Dayton Flyers

As the chilly months of January and February prepare us for the Madness that is March, a number of teams will seemingly pop out of the proverbial woodwork and into the national consciousness. One of those teams will likely be the Dayton Flyers of the University of Dayton in Ohio, so here's a little background with which you can amaze your friends come tourney time.

The Flyers are 13-1 on the season and 1-0 in the conference, with wins over three ranked teams: Louisville (70-65), Pittsburgh (80-55) and Rhode Island (92-83). The only loss suffered by the Flyers was in their second game of the season, on November 17, at George Mason, 67-56. They've since won 12 straight.

The University of Dayton was founded in 1850 by the Society of Mary (the Marianists). It is a Catholic school which evolved from a boarding school for boys (St. Mary's School for Boys) built on 125 acres of farmland and became the University of Dayton in 1920. It is the largest private college in the state of Ohio.

Over the last nine years, UD has had 23 conference championships and 17 teams reach the post-season. The basketball program rates as one of the best in the nation, in an elite group graduating basketball athletes at a rate of better than 85%.

The basketball program has incredible fan acceptance. For seven straight years Dayton basketball has finished in the top 25 in the nation in attendance.

Conference: Atlantic-10

Head coach: Brian Gregory

Top Players:
Brian Roberts, 6'2" senior guard, leads the team with 4.6 assists and 19.4 points per game.

Chris Wright, 6'8" freshman forward, 6 rebounds (leads team), 10.4 points per game.

Marcus Johnson, 6'3" sophomore guard, 9.6 ppg.

Forwards Charles Little (6'6" junior) and Kurt Huelsman (6'10" sophomore) each average 4.9 rebounds per game and are the 4th and 5th leading scorers on the team.

Only six of the players on the team are from Ohio, but four of them - Roberts, Johnson, Wright and Huelsman - are starters. Oddly enough, Little, the other starter, hails from Cleveland... Tennessee.

Team colors: Red and Blue

Official website:

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The SEC is the Place to Be

Tennessee asserted themselves at home and ended upstart Mississippi's 13-game win streak with the Rebels' first loss of the season while surprising Vanderbilt improved to 16-0 with an 80-73 win over South Carolina.

The Commodores, ranked #13 nationally, needed a huge game from freshman A.J. Ogilvy, who scored 25 points, more than picking up the slack from SEC scoring leader Shan Foster, who hit only 4-11 from the field and tallied 13 points. The Gamecocks kept the game close until Vandy pulled away in the final four minutes. Devan Downey led South Carolina with 22 points.

Glendale Golfs Manitoba
Glendale Manitoba Golf Winnipeg Golfs.
In Tennessee's 85-83 win, it was tighter down the stretch. The visiting Rebels led 83-79 with under two minutes remaining, but the Vols scored the final six points of the game, the last four on buckets by Tyler Smith, who finished with a team-high 21 points, the same number scored by JaJuan Smith, who had a hot first half with 16 points, including 4-6 shooting from 3-point range.

Mississippi's Chris Warren scored 24 to pace all scorers. With the win, the Vols and Rebels share identical 13-1 records as conference play in the SEC got underway. The two teams will not meet again during the regular season.

Both divisions look to be hotly contested. In the East, the main challenge for the Vols will come from Vanderbilt and Georgia. Florida, which won the division, conference and national championship last year, already has a conference win over Alabama, though they are nowhere near the same team that took the floor last season, having lost all five starters to the NBA.

In the West, Mississippi will have to contend with Mississippi St., Arkansas and Auburn, all of which were close to the division lead last season.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hibbert's Double-Double Leads Hoyas; Big East on Fire

Georgetown 76 DePaul 60 - Roy Hibbert scored 17 points and wiped the boards for 11 rebounds to lead the #7 Georgetown Hoyas to a decisive victory at DePaul. The victory was the second straight Big East road win for Georgetown, which pounded Rutgers, 58-46 on Saturday.

Georgetown joins Notre Dame and Syracuse atop the Big East standings at 2-0, followed by Connecticut and Marquette at 2-1 and a gaggle of six teams at 1-1. Pre-season favorite Pittsburgh is 0-1, after losing at Villanova, 64-63, on Sunday. The Panthers can begin to make amends with games against 1-1 South Florida and 0-2 Seton Hall this week, prior to hosting the Hoyas on the 14th.

For Hibbert, it was business as usual in the post, hitting on 7 of 9 shots from the field as Georgetown improved to 12-1 overall. It was Hibbert's 2nd double-double of the season.

Four other Top 25 teams in action on Tuesday all won.

#3 Kansas 90 Loyola (MD) 60 - 12 different Jayhawks tallied as Kansas improved to 15-0.

#15 Marquette 61 Seton Hall 56 - Marquette survived a poor shooting night, hitting less than 33% from the field and committing 15 turnovers, to hold on for a home win over Seton Hall, 0-2 in the Big East.

#10 Indiana 78 Michigan 64 - Freshman sensation Eric Gordon led all scorers with 23 points, but D.J. White's performance was one for the record books, as the 6'9" senior forward scored 21 points and hauled down 23 rebounds, 8 of them on the offensive boards. White was the first Hoosier to record a 20-20 performance in over a decade (Alan Henderson, 1995). The Hoosiers are 13-1 and are tied with Wisconsin, Penn St., Michigan St. and Ohio St. at 2-0 in the conference.

#6 Michigan St. 78 Purdue 76 - The Boilermakers nearly pulled off a huge upset, rallying from a 16-point first half deficit to take a lead late in the game, but the Spartans held court at home to improve to 14-1, their 11th straight win.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Izzo's Spartans the Team to Beat in Big 10

There's little doubt that Michigan State coach Tommy Izzo is one of the best coaches in the NCAA, as a recruiter, game coach and getting players ready through rigorous practices.

This season, Izzo seems to have put together an elite, Top 10 team, making Michigan State the one to beat in the rugged Big 10 conference.

Glendale Golfs Manitoba
Glendale Manitoba Golf Winnipeg Golfs.
Entering Saturday night's conference opener against a solid Minnesota team, the Spartans were 12-1 and ranked 6th nationally. By the time the game was over, Michigan had added another win, buttressing their spot near the top of the national heap with an All-American performance from sophomore forward Raymar Morgan.

The 6'8" Morgan wore out the visiting Golden Gophers on both ends of the floor, scoring 31 points on 11-17 shooting while snatching 10 rebounds in Michigan State's 65-59 win. The points were a career high for Morgan, who ranks third in Big 10 scoring behind Indiana's Eric Gordon (23.5) and Penn State's Geary Claxton (18.6) at 18.4 per game. He's also tied for 7th in the conference 7.3 rebounds per outing and has registered three double-doubles this season.

Teamed with the playmaking, scoring and leadership abilities of senior Drew Neitzel and the inside presence of 6'10" junior Goran Suton, Izzo is looking forward to a Big 10 title and possible Final Four appearance later this year.

Michigan State's only setback this season was a tough 68-63 loss, November 20 at UCLA. Since then, the Spartans have knocked off three ranked opponents - BYU, Texas and NC State.

Looking ahead, key games include a Feb. 16 contest at Indiana, then two consecutive tough outings, Feb. 28 at Wisconsin and March 2, at home with the Hoosiers.

As Morgan continues to impress and improve and Izzo keeps pushing the fundamentals to his troops, the Spartans look to be the kind of team nobody will want to play come tourney time.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Kansas Forwards Dismantle Boston College

Darnell Jackson had 25 points and Darrell Arthur scored 22, as the Kansas Jayhawks' starting forwards completely overwhelmed Boston College, 85-60, in one of Saturday's premier college hoops events. The scoring totals were season-highs for both players.

Jackson was 9-16 from the field and popped in 7 of 8 free throws, while Arthur was devastatingly accurate, hitting on 10 of 13 shots with a pair of free throws. Kansas shot 52% for the game and outrebounded the Eagles 32-20.

The two power forwards are primarily responsible for Kansas' perfect 14-0 record this season.

Fish , Hunt Ducks and Waterfowl Lake Manitoba Narrows
Golf, Fish Walleye , Fall Duck Hunting at Resort Lake Manitoba Narrows Home Cottage Lot.
Sophomore Arthur leads the team in scoring at 13.1 points per outing, with Jackson, a senior, a close third, hitting for an average of 11.5 per game. Guard Mario Chalmers is second with 12.3. All five Kansas starters are averaging in double digits.

The two also do an exceptional job wiping the glass, combining for 13 rebounds per game. On Saturday, the pair was a force on both ends, as Jackson hauled down 9 boards and Arthur pulled in 7.

While Jackson will surely test the NBA draft following his final season at Kansas, Arthur may forego the remainder of his college career to go pro as well. In addition to leading the Jayhawks in scoring, he's second on the team in both rebounds and blocks and has scored in double digits in 13 of 14 games this season.

The inside presence of these two is going to make the Big 12 schedule - which begins next week - a nightmare for conference opponents.

The Jayhawks open on the road at Nebraska on January 12. Other key dates for Kansas are a pair of away games: at Texas, February 11 and Texas A&M, March 8, the final game of the regular season.

Watch out for Kansas come tourney time. Barring major injuries, they look like a lock for a #1 seed.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Spartans Travel Well, Knock Off BYU

Michigan State 68 BYU 61

In one of the most widely-anticipated matchups of the early college hoops season, the #9 Michigan State Spartans traveled out to Provo, Utah, to take on the 20th-ranked Brigham Young Cougars.

BYU stormed out to a 35-25 edge at the half, but Michigan State rallied on a 14-3 run to open the second half for a brief 39-38 lead. The teams exchanged baskets and leads thereafter, while BYU's Junior swingman Lee Cummard, who averages 14.8 points per game, was saddled with 4 fouls and sat out most of the second half.

Michigan State's Drew Neitzel scored seven straight points late, including a 3-pointer with 2:27 remaining to give the Spartans a 82-56 lead which proved to be insurmountable for the Cougars.

Fouls and foul-shooting played a critical role down the stretch, as the Spartans piled up personals, putting BYU in the bonus with 7 minutes left and into the double bonus at the 3:42 mark, while the Cougars committed only 4 fouls through the first 19 minutes of the second half but were forced to foul the Spartans repeatedly down the stretch as their shots would not fall and Michigan kept their lead at the foul line, as Travis Walton hit all six of his attempts from the stripe in the final minute.

Neitzel finished with 15 points as did teammate Raymar Morgan. BYU's Trent Plaisted led all scorers with 17.

The Spartans are 8-1, their only loss a thin 68-63 defeat at UCLA. BYU dropped to 7-2.

Indiana 70 Kentucky 51

Indiana positively pounded the Kentucky Wildcats in the annual border war in Bloomington, as D. J. White dropped in 16 points and hauled down 13 rebounds for his 5th straight double-double. The Hoosiers completely dominated the scoring and the boards, even without starting guard Eric Gordon, who was averaging 24.2 points per outing this season. Freshman Jordan Crawford led the Hoosiers and all scorers with 20 points.

Indiana improved to 8-1 and looks like one of the favorites in the Big 10. Kentucky dropped to 4-3, and is has not shot the ball well in most of their outings this season. They hit only 19 of 49 (39%) against Indiana, and have only cracked the 50% plateau twice, in blowout wins over pushovers Liberty and Texas Southern.

Coach Billy Gillispie will find the going tough once Kentucky enters SEC play in mid-January.

No Fluke: Duke Routs Wolverines

Duke 95 Michigan 67

I may have to take back some of what I said about Duke after watching them roll over Michigan on Saturday. While they are not big up front, they do have some depth and their wingmen, notably Gerald Henderson, Taylor King and DeMarcus Nelson, are extremely versatile and play within themselves. Most impressive, however, was freshman Nolan Smith, who scored a career-high 17 points on 7-9 shooting.

Duke opened the game shooting 0-7, but Taylor King hit a sweeping hook shot, then Paulus hit a long trey, followed by a three from King on the wing. Suddenly, the Blue Devils were up 8-5. Duke could not maintain much of a lead early in the first half, as the 3-5 Wolverines continued to push the ball and force Duke into mostly outside shooting. But the Wolverines shot only 26% for the half and Duke nearly ran them out of the gym, going on a 23-9 run to expand an 18-14 lead to 41-23 at intermission. Duke shot only 37% and hit on only 6 of 17 three-point tries in the opening stanza.

The second half saw a lot of substitution by both coaches, and Duke's lead was never challenged. Michigan seemed content to just hang in and work on their offense, while the Blue Devils hammered the ball inside.

Michigan ended up shooting 38% for the game, to the Blue Devils' 49%. Duke hit 11 of 26 3-pointers, better than their average of 22 threes per game and a 41% clip.

One to watch for Michigan is freshman Manny Harris, who was held to just 8 points, well below his 16.6 per game average. He's a slick guard with good ball-handling skills. Despite the loss, the Wolverines will win more than a fair share of their Big 10 games once they develop a little more offensively.

In other early Saturday action, the Fighting Illini took the visiting Arizona Wildcats into overtime, dropping a 78-72 decision to the 6-2 Wildcats. Arizona misses head coach Lute Olson, who is on an extended leave through the end of the season as he has filed for divorce, seeking to end his second marriage. Freshman sensation Jerryd Bayless dropped in 20 for Arizona, right on his average for the season.

Louisville, playing without Juan Palacios, had their hands full with the Dayton Flyers, dropping a 70-65 decision, as the Cardinals had absolutely no answer for senior guard Brian Roberts, who poured in 28 points on 10-17 shooting. The win makes Dayton 7-1, while Louisville falls to 5-2. Both Louisville losses have come at home, the first a 78-76 defeat to BYU. The Cardinals, currently #14, may fall out of the Top 25 next week, while Dayton probably won't get any consideration, but looks like a contender in the rugged Atlantic 10, along with Xavier, Duquesne and Rhode Island.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Duke is a Fluke

Every year about this time, we see the Duke Blue Devils ranked high in the polls. It's just one of those NCAA customs we're so used to. As long as Coach K is at the front of the bench, the Blue Devils are supposed to put on the floor one of the best teams in college basketball.

Currently, the 8-0 Blue Devils are ranked #6 in the AP Poll and #7 in the USA Today/ESPN poll. Chances are good that this is as high as they'll get because this 2007-08 version is not a powerhouse, nor will they challenge for supremacy in the ACC. They're just not that good.

OK, I hear the Cameron Crazies now. "We just beat Wisconsin by 24 points and we beat Marquette in the Maui Invitational."

Right. And you slipped by Davidson by 6 this past Saturday.

Glendale Golfs Manitoba
Glendale Manitoba Golf Winnipeg Golfs.
The remainder of the month is pretty cushy, with only three games total and two that will have much meaning. Michigan comes to Cameron this Saturday and a December 20 game at Pittsburgh are the big ones. The Devils could win both of those, or lose both. It won't matter. They'll still be ranked in the Top 10. Everybody likes Duke, or, they're being kind to them, at least.

The real action begins on January 13, when the ACC schedule begins. Last year, Duke didn't do well, and while the conference doesn't look that strong, there are some teams that are loaded. Virginia, Maryland, Boston College and North Carolina will each pose a problem to Duke.

Why Duke is not that good? First they're thin, having just lost Junior guard Marty Pocious to season-ending surgery. A swingman, Pocius could play either guard or forward, but won't be missed too badly, as he was averaging only 8 minutes per game. The bench is going to be needed, however, and two starters, Greg Paulus and Lance Thomas, have taken early exits in a number of games. Paulus, the playmaker, is averaging just 3.8 assists per game, while Thomas is only hitting the boards for 2.8 rebounds per contest.

Up front, the Blue Devils are not very big nor experienced. Kyle Singler, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding, is, like Thomas, 6-8. They can bring in sophomore 7-1 Brian Zoubek for added height, but he's not very mobile and has seen limited action.

The Blue Devils also rely on the three-pointer quite heavily. Jon Scheyer, Taylor King and Paulus are all shooting over 47% from beyond the arc, but they're heaving up more than 20 per game. Also, the free-throws aren't falling as easily as they could be. Against Marquette the Blue Devils shot 70%. In the win over Davidson, it was 60%.

Duke is a good team, but not one to hang one's March destiny upon. Enjoy the Top Ten ranking for now, because in about 6 weeks, it will be nothing but a fond memory.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Creampuff Upsets

This is a difficult time of year for hard-core college hoops fans. Many of the games being played are lopsided affairs between ranked teams and small colleges, so there really isn't much in the way of compelling basketball.

However, there have been a number of notable upsets over the past week that need to be highlighted.

Last Saturday, USC, ranked #9 by and #7 by me, got walloped by little Mercer College, 96-81, marking the first serious casualty in the top 25. USC needs to play a little defense apparently. Mercer shot 59% from the field and also hit 13-16 free throws. By contrast, the Trojans shot only 40% from the floor and 56% from the charity line. Obviously, more time in the gym working on fundamentals is ahead for these guys.

Another team with free throw problems is Texas Tech, my #25 preseason pick. The Red Raiders fell on Wednesday night at Sam Houston State, 56-54, missing four key foul shots down the stretch and hitting just 15-28 freebies for the game. They also were outrebounded, 44-32. Coach Bobby Knight will likely be running block out drills and extra free throw sessions for weeks.

On Friday, Memphis knocked off UConn, 81-70 in the Coaches Vs. Cancer Classic. I didn't rank UConn, but had them at #21 preseason. I still think the Huskies are toast this season and this result is just the beginning of what will be a 12-15 loss season for them.

Also on Friday, one of my sleepers, Providence, topped Arkansas. 67-51 (I had Arkansas ranked #14 and the Friars, #22. didn't rank either of them). Providence had beaten Temple 66-64 in Thursday's opening round of the ESPNU Puerto Rico Tip-Off, before topping the Razorbacks. Arkansas committed 32 turnovers in the game, while the Friars accounted for 15 steals. What really stands out is that neither team shot the ball very well. Arkansas actually hit 43% from the field to Providence's 38%. Sonny Weems, one of the Razorback stars, had only 3 points in 36 minutes. I don't know why the Friars weren't ranked preseason, but they've served notice that they should challenge some of the powerhouses in the Big East. I still think Arkansas is a pretty good team and they'll recover from this.

The Friars (2-0) will face Miami (3-0) in the championship game, Sunday night.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pre-season College Basketball Rankings

I should have put these up a few days ago before Kentucky, Michigan State and Ohio State got whacked by lesser teams. I've composed my own Pre-season Top 25 and present them here, followed by those of widely-circulated and multi-million doall baby of Yahoo,

My Rank Team
1 North Carolina
2 Tennessee
3 Memphis
4 Kansas
6 Georgetown
8 Louisville
9 Virginia
10 Indiana
11 Marquette
12 Kansas St.
13 Michigan St.
14 Arkansas
15 Clemson
16 Washington St.
17 Georgia
18 Texas A&M
19 Mississippi
20 Florida St.
21 Duke
22 Providence
23 Auburn
24 Southern Illinois
25 Texas Tech Rank Team
1 North Carolina
2 Memphis
4 Kansas
5 Louisville
6 Tennessee
7 Indiana
8 Michigan St.
10 Georgetown
11 Kansas St.
12 Arizona
13 Stanford
14 Washington St.
15 Marquette
16 Duke
17 Mississippi St.
18 NC State
19 Syracuse
20 Texas
21 Connecticut
22 Oregon
23 Pitttsburgh
24 Alabama
25 Southern Illinois

We'll make comparisons as the season progresses. Note that neither I nor had Ohio St. or Kentucky in the Top 25. So far, we both look pretty smart.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Durant First Freshman to Claim Wooden Award

As the Florida Gator Nation continued the celebration of their 2nd consecutive national championship, the L.A. Athletic Club hosted the selection of the winner of the annual John R. Wooden award on Saturday, April 7.

The award is given annually - after the conclusion of the NCAA men's basketball season - to the top player in college basketball.

For the first time in the history of the award, the honor went to a freshman: Kevin Durant of the Texas Longhorns. Durant finished #5 in the nation in scoring at 25.1 points, leading Texas to a 25-10 season. He also averaged 11.4 rebounds per game, led the Longhorns in both steals and blocks (1.9/game each) and recorded an astounding 20 double-doubles. At one point, Durant ran off a string of 6 straight double-doubles, averaging 29.7 points and 14.3 rebounds during the stretch.

Durant was a prolific scorer, hitting 83 3-pointers and scoring 30 or more points on 11 occasions, including his career-high of 37, 4 different times.

The Longhorns were bounced from the NCAA tournament in the second round by USC, but Durant's presence was felt in both tourney games. In the opener against New Mexico St., Durant scored 27 points and hauled down 8 rebounds. He had 30 points and 8 boards in Texas' 87-68 loss to Southern Cal.

After receiving the award, Durant declined to comment on whether he would turn pro or return for another season at Texas, saying he was just going to enjoy the moment. The 6'9", 225 lb. phenom is widely assumed to be heading to the NBA after an incredible season, likely to be the #1 or #2 pick in a draft loaded with talented under-and-upperclassmen.

The selection committee had previously named 10 players as finalists for the award on two teams. The 1st Team:

  • Arron Afflalo (UCLA)

  • Aaron Brooks (Oregon)

  • Kevin Durant (Texas)

  • Nick Fazekas (Nevada)

  • Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina)

2nd Team:

  • Acie Law (Texas A&M)

  • Joakim Noah (Florida)

  • Greg Oden (Ohio State)

  • Brandon Rush (Kansas)

  • Alando Tucker (Wisconsin)

Purdue's Gene Keady was the recipient of the Legends of Coaching award for the 2006-2007 season.

Candace Parker, a 6'4" forward from the Tennessee Lady Vols, won the award for the 2006-2007 top women's player.

The event was aired live on CBS.