Friday, February 15, 2013

Welcome to Bracketville--Rivalry Weekend edition


Just four weeks until Selection Sunday.
A month out, my Coach of the Year pick is Miami’s Jim Larranaga…UConn’s Kevin Ollie is my pick for COY in the Big East.
Seven Top-10 teams are on the road this weekend. Just one of the ten faces a team more than a game above .500…none faces a team with a positive conference record.
Six Big Ten teams have been ranked in the Top-10 at some point this season…but not Wisconsin. The Badgers have victories over four of the six.
Road wins are precious this season, especially in conference…no matter the conference.
Stony Brook and Bucknell are the leaders with 10…Miami’s nine lead the major conference category. Only seven major-conference programs have six or more road wins. VCU has seven. Arizona, Florida, UMass, La Salle and Wyoming clock in with six.
Memphis has the longest road-winning streak in the country at 10 games…also 10-0 in conference play.
With all the chaos at the top of the polls and throughout the Top Ten…is this the year that a 16 seed knocks off a one seed? I doubt it…but, you never know.
Any of about a dozen teams could win the national title.
With the win over Austin Peay Saturday, Belmont has won 20 games eight times in a 10-year span. That's incredibly impressive. Bravo!
Monday night, Marquette finished with 19 turnovers and just 20 made field goals at Georgetown. You don’t need to be good at math to know that won’t add up to many victories.
Five Kentucky recruits or signees in the 2013 class made the McDonald’s All-American team, a record for a single school…not a big surprise.
Gonzaga looked strong on last night’s late show with a 17-point victory at St. Mary’s…the Zags shot 50% from the field. St. Mary’s Matthew Dellavedova (22 points) continues to impress me.
Duquesne (previously winless in conference play) pulled an upset at Temple with two Derrick Colter free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining.
The #5 Duke women crushed #7 Maryland… Yippee kai yay!
Duke point guard Chelsea Grey had a career-high 28 points.
Duke’s Haley Peters defended Maryland and the ACC’s leading scorer, Tianna Hawkins (19.6 ppg)…holding Hawkins to six points.
Maryland outrebounded Duke by two…well off their season average of +17.
For me, the Duke women beating Maryland is more satisfying than seeing them beat UNC.
It was a true delight to see UM Coach Brenda Frese get a double technical and an ejection. What I didn’t understand was why it took so long for the refs to Tee her up…they showed great patience.
On the men’s side, Duke and UNC have met 43 times when they were both ranked in the Top Ten. Remarkable!
Duke’s win {sixth in a row in non-Kelly era} over UNC was far from a thing of beauty as Duke piled up 22 fouls…15 in the second half. Four Duke starters finished with four fouls apiece.
Duke had 11 turnovers and just three assists in the first half.
Both teams made 25 baskets…UNC took ten more shots.
UNC is more athletic and rangy than Duke…Carolina did not get rolled as they did by Miami.
It didn’t look like it, but Duke grabbed one more rebound than Carolina…and was far more efficient from the foul line, where they won it by going 12-for-12 in the final 3:16.
Carolina had more offensive than defensive rebounds. Had UNC not missed so many point-blank-looks in the block and wide-open threes in the first half, the outcome would have been reversed---and not even close.
Carolina outscored Duke in the paint 36-32 and had the edge in second-chance points 20-12.
This is UNC’s worst foul shooting team since 1954---59 seasons ago. No ACC team this year has scored a smaller portion of their points at the stripe as Carolina.
I would not bet against UNC at the March 6th rematch.
Mason Plumlee is shooting 61% from the field.
Duke has been ranked in the Top Ten for 108 weeks in a row.
Missouri finally won a road game…over the hapless Mississippi State team.
Last night Georgia Tech hosted Clemson and the teams combined – combined – for 25 points in the first half.
The Atlantic-10 and Mountain West each have four teams in KenPom’s Top-50…same number as the Pac-12 and SEC.
Good win: Colorado State is now a 20-win team. They handled San Diego State on Wednesday in a game that came down to the final 60 seconds. All of Colorado State’s starters are seniors and score in double digits.
Bad Loss: Arizona State going down at Utah (11-13).
Another good win for Air Force by 15 over UNLV.
Big win in OT for Minnesota over Wisconsin. On the road, the Badgers shot 7-of-28 from three and 30.5% overall. Yikes!
Very big win for Colorado over Arizona---making up for the bad call in the first matchup. Arizona has lost their past two…twice as many losses as they had one week ago.
Montana’s 24-game Big Sky regular season win streak came to an end at Weber State. State, with just two conference wins, pulled off a major league 24-point victory. My-oh-my.
Good win for Oregon at Washington…by 13. Road wins are difficult to find. Oregon is 3-3 without Dominic Artis in the lineup.
Creighton has now lost three in a row…latest at sneaky good Northern Iowa by seven. Point guard, Austin Chatman, has dished out just six assists in those games.
Belmont and Murray State both lost in OVC conference play last night…neither team could make threes (8-for-39 combined). Ooops!
Cal has won four out of their last five, including a 13-point win over UCLA.
Keep an eye on LaSalle and Charlotte.
Miami was impressive at Florida State…winning their 12th in a row by six and going to 11-0 in the ACC.
The Cane’s experience showed immediately, as they fell behind 13-2 shortly after tipoff. No panic, no forced shots…tightened up on defense and Shane Larkin orchestrated the offense to perfection with 25-5 run.
Larkin went on to score 13 of his 22 points in the final 7 1-2 minutes…preventing a comeback by FSU.
Should both Miami and Duke win all their games between now and March 2nd, we’ll see a Top-3 matchup at Cameron. Maybe even #1 vs. #2 if Indiana loses.
Georgetown has won six straight games and eight of their last nine to climb to 8-3 in the Big East.
My eyeball test tells me that Kansas plays much better when Kevin Young is on the floor. He seems to make a contribution far beyond his 7.5 ppg and 6.7 rpg.
In their game Monday against Kansas State, the Jayhawks were passing like the KU of old. Could the Jayhawks have found their point guard in Naadir Tharpe?
Illinois State has won four straight…seven out the last eight.
Boise State is 11-3 when at full strength…5-4 when not. They are now at full strength.
Virginia continues to cruise along, taking care of Virginia Tech by 18 points on Tuesday night. UVA is now 8-3 in the ACC and winners of seven of their last eight. The Virginia defense held the nation’s leading scorer, Erick Green [25.2 ppg], to one first half point. Green found his touch after half time, putting up 21 in half number two.
Michigan State thumped Michigan by 23 points…I guess we can set our watches by Tom Izzo’s teams hitting their stride at the right time.
The Tuesday matchup was the first time in the rivalry history that both teams were in the Top Ten.
Florida and Kansas bounced back pretty nicely from last week’s losses.
Five Gators scored in double-figures and Kenny Boynton scored nine points in their victory over Kentucky.
Florida scored 20 points off 17 UK turnovers.
Kentucky ‘s first half 25 points tied for the fewest the Wildcats have scored in a first half this season.
Florida improved to 12-0 at home this season.
Sure hope Nerlens Noel recovers and gets back to full strength. Not only is he talented…he’s a gamer, and by all accounts, a solid citizen.
Should he opt out of the NBA draft to devote full time to rehab…just think how potent next season’s UK team would be.
They might not be unscored upon…but the could go undefeated.
Longest winning streak: 16 by Akron (11-0, MAC)…Eastern Michigan the latest victim.
Conference unbeatens: Miami, Gonzaga, Memphis, Akron, Norfolk State, NC Central and Louisiana Tech.
Not so fast: Grambling is still winless, with just five games left. They could run the table.
One more thing: The two undefeated in conference play MEAC teams (Norfolk State and North Carolina Central) will not face each other in the regular season.

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