COLLEGE BASKETBALL WORDPLAY: From A to Z
(2/16 to 2/22)
Pittsburgh climbed back to the top of the polls this week, becoming the first team this year to regain the number one spot. (See Below)
Beast of the East
DeJuan Blair keyed Pitt’s win over Connecticut last Monday. The big man scored 22 points and grabbed 23 rebounds, and kept Thabeet in check all night.
Thabeet struggled against a more physical Blair inside, finishing with just five points and just four rebounds.
While the loss of Dyson could loom large for Huskies, the emergence of Levance Fields could be equally as big for the Panthers.
Fields hit key shots down the stretch of the game, and is quietly leading the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Coagulation (Team that failed to stop the bleeding this week)
After beating Texas A&M last Saturday, it looked as if Baylor had bounced back from six straight conference losses.
That all changed after a trip to surging Oklahoma State, sent the Bears back to Waco licking their wounds.
Upsets of North Carolina and UCLA (see “P”) headlined an exciting Saturday of college hoops action.
Greivis Vasquez’ became the latest point guard to give North Carolina fits, notching a triple-double in Maryland’s 88-85 overtime win over the Tar Heels.
It seems every year, Gary William’s Terrapins find away to knock-off one of the tobacco road big boy’s.
The Texas Longhorns scored a huge victory Saturday night, thanks in large part to knocking Blake Griffin out of the game with a concussion.
A.J. Abrams scored 18 of the Longhorns last 20 points of the game, to most likely lead Rick Barnes’ team back into the NCAA tournament.
It was a case of a senior leader willing his team to victory, something we’re going to see many more times in the weeks to come. (See below.)
As the final two weeks of February come to a close, it becomes increasingly tougher for team to win conference games on the road.
Of the six BCS conferences, road teams went a combined 23-43 in game played Monday thru Sunday.
The only team to win two conference road games this week was Marquette (at Seton Hall, at Georgetown)
With a season of up-and-down play from many ball clubs, the Golden Eagles and Panthers have been two of the most consistent teams in the country.
Please keep to your Excel spreadsheets.
P.S. “Can I have my dime back?”
Oregon won their first conference game in 14 tries, hanging on late to beat Stanford 68-60.
Entering Saturday the “Mighty” Ducks were one of only four teams (Air Force, DePaul and SE Missouri St.) without a conference victory.
“Quack, quack baby!”
Tyreke Evans scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Memphis’ 70-63 come from behind victory over UTEP on Saturday afternoon.
Evans has filled the void left by fellow freshman Derrick Rose, and has been an instrumental part of the Tiger’s current 54-game C-USA win streak.
Jumping to conclusions: (Predictions for next week.)
Upset Special: Notre Dame 72 Connecticut 69
Could be in trouble: Missouri 76 Kansas State 72
Close than you think: Wake Forest 69 Virginia 64
No way Jose: Illinois 58 Minnesota 47
St. Mary’s will only get better when Patrick Mills returns to the line-up again for the WCC tournament in a couple weeks.
SMC’s 75-64 win over Utah State on Bracketbuster Saturday might have given the Gael’s a little breathing room with the tournament committee (See who else did below), however I believe getting to the tournament title game is probably still a must.
Letting the committee know…
With Texas’ big win over Oklahoma, and Kansas State, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State all making a push toward .500 plus conference records, the Big XII isn’t going to make the selection committee’s job any easier come Selection Sunday.
Watch out for Siena (22-6, 15-1) this coming March. The Saints have three players who average more than 13.6 ppg, and six who average more than eight ppg.
This might be the best mid-major team in country; just ask Vanderbilt.
No you're not…
Xavier: A top four seed and legitimate Final Four threat.
Pat Knight: Different from your daddy.
Arizona State, Duke, Michigan State, and Xavier.
Player of the week (not named Vasquez)
Taylor Rochestie finished with a career high 33 points in Washington State’s 82-81 upset victory over UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.
The senior scored 14 of the Cougars last 15 points to beat UCLA for the first time in ten tries.
Question of the week
How many teams from the Mountain West Conference will end up making the NCAA tournament?
(See result is the poll question.)
Purdue became the latest Big Ten team to enter lock status after Tuesday night’s 72-54 win over Michigan State,
Surprisingly it was the defense for Purdue that set the stage, not the Spartans.
You can’t help but wonder how good this Boilermaker team would be without all the injuries.
Shout-outs (Teams/players who are deserving of a little love)
Oregon State: The Beavers have ripped off three straight conference wins to get back to .500 and are 7-8 in conference play, a year after going winless in PAC-10 play.
1. North Carolina
Upcoming (Five games to watch for next week)
Florida State vs. Boston College (Tuesday)
Connecticut vs. Marquette (Wednesday)
Arizona State vs. Washington (Thursday)
LSU vs. Kentucky (Saturday)
Texas vs. Oklahoma State (Saturday)
Wait and see (Bubble team)
Davidson has now dropped two conference games, and after Saturday’s Bracketbuster loss to Butler at home, the Wildcats will most like not receive an at-large bid.
Realistically all hopes rely on the ankle of Curry, and a run toward another Southern Conference tournament title.
With North Carolina’s loss to Maryland on Saturday and the strength of teams at the top of the Big East, the Tar Heels will probably miss out on the top seed out east.
Also, with the recent struggles of UCLA and the parity at the top of the PAC-10, the conference will most likely fail to have a team receive a top four seed. (See below)
Your projected seed line as of today:
East- Pittsburgh, Kansas, Duke, LSU
West- Oklahoma, Louisville, Clemson, Villanova
Midwest- North Carolina, Michigan State, Marquette, Missouri
South- Memphis, Connecticut, Wake Forest, Purdue
Zzzzz: (Teams the country shouldn’t sleep on)
Memphis, St. Mary’s, Villanova, Florida State, LSU.