Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Room Service: Devils Deny Butler, 61-59
Butler's Gordon Hayward let fly from half court with the clock running down to zero. The ball banged of the backboard and the front of the rim, his desperation heave just inches from being the most stunning buzzer beater of all time.
But it was not to be for the Butler Bulldogs, who growled and wrestled all the way to the final seconds of the final game. The Duke Blue Devils would be crowned the NCAA men's basketball champions - for the 4th time in school history - with a thrilling, 61-59, final game win.
All four of Duke's titles have come under the tutelage of coach Mike Krzyzewski, who joins Adolph Rupp and John Wooden as the only coaches ever to win four or more national championships. It was Krzyzewski's first championship since 2001. The others were in 1991 and 1992. Rupp guided the Kentucky Wildcats to four, in 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958. John Wooden, the legendary coach of the UCLA Bruins has 10, a record which may never be broken. He took the championship with UCLA 10 times from 1964 to 1975, including an amazing 7 straight seasons from 1967 to 1973.
The game is being hailed as an "instant classic," a title it well deserves. Neither team gave an inch in a contest that saw multiple lead-changes, death-defying drives into the lane, extreme defense and enough drama to make Broadway critics cry. The biggest lead of the game was 6 points, by Duke, and Butler actually had a chance to take the last shot when they recovered the ball when Brian Zoubek inadvertently kicked it out of bounds in one of the many on-the-floor scrambles under the Duke basket.
Butler had the ball in hand with 33 seconds left, down a point, but Hayward's ten-foot baseline floater banged off the rim into Zoubek's hands. He was fouled with 3.3 seconds left, hit the first free throw and purposely missed the second, allowing Hayward to streak to mid-court for the final shot.
Give credit to the Bulldogs, who were painted as the David in the David vs. Goliath presentation, but in reality are a high-quality program from a mid-major conference. The Bulldogs had been ranked in the top 15 all season and entered the final with a 25-game win streak. No opponent during their five tournament wins - including victories over some of the best teams in the country: Syracuse, Kansas State and Michigan St. - scored as many as 60 points. Duke broke the mold with the win.
Butler deserves the final ranking of #2, with their 33-5 record and 18-0 Horizon League total. Duke will finish the season #1, with a record of 35-5 (13-3 in the ACC) and a memorable final game victory, the closest since 1989, when Michigan beat Seton Hall, 80-79.
Duke will sport a whole new look next season, as three starters - Zoubek, Jon Scheyer and Lance Thomas - are all seniors. Juniors Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith could easily jump to the NBA, foregoing their senior seasons.
Butler, on the other hand, may come back ranked #1 preseason. They will lose only Willie Veasley to graduation. Star forward, Gordon Hayward, is only a sophomore, and Matt Howard, who was Horizon League Player of the Year in 2008-09, is a junior. Guards Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored are also sophomores, so the Bulldogs very likely will return four of their starting five, and an upgrade at one forward position - where Veasley departs - is likely.
Game highlights can be found in numerous places on the internet: here and here, and can be seen in its entirety when it is added to the NCAA Video Vault, along with a decade's worth of games from the Sweet 16 through tourney finals.
College Hoops Player of the Day for Monday, April 5, 2010
Duke's win would not have been possible with the Herculean effort from Kyle Singler, who played all of the 40 minutes and was the game's high-scorer with 19 points. Singler hit 7 of 13 shots from the field, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range, all of them seeming to come at crucial moments. He went to the foul line just twice, canning both of his free throws, and added 9 boards, 2 assists, a steal and 2 blocked shots.
While Singler's stats exemplify his extraordinary all-around effort, what may be the bast part of his game may be overlooked. He defended Butler's Gordon Hayward man-to-man almost all night, limiting the Bulldog star to a sub-par 12 points on 2-for-11 shooting (0-3 on treys). Hayward notched 8 of those 12 at the foul line, where he was perfect. Singler's defensive effort kept Hayward away from the lane for much of the night, contesting every pass to him and every shot he took.
Singler was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, an award he most decidedly earned.
A few final notes: Ohio state's Evan Turner was handed the Naismith Award as NCAA Player of the Year, at half time of Monday's game. Turner had already notched the AP Player of the Year and similar awards from the Sporting News and US Basketball Writers Association. Turner led Ohio State to a 29-8 record and a share of the Big Ten title. A junior, Turner is expected to forego his senior season and jump to the NBA.
Coach Jim Boeheim of Syracuse was named AP coach of the year.
The Big Ten and Big 12 tied for the best record in the tournament at 9-5, though one could make the case that the Horizon League (Butler being the sole entrant) topped all conferences with a 5-1 record.
NCAA Conference Scoreboard FINAL (through games of April 5)
Big East (8-8)
Big Ten (9-5)
Big 12 (9-5)
Mountain West (2-4)
West Coast (3-2)
Western Athletic (0-2)
*Conferences with only one tournament team listed as "Other."
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Devils and Dogs to Meet in NCAA Final
5 Butler 52
5 Michigan St. 50
The Butler Bulldogs continue to amaze, now having reached the final plateau of their impressive run through the NCAA tourney field, knocking off the Michigan State Spartans in the first of two semi-final games Saturday.
As has been the case in most of their wins - now at 25 straight - the gritty Bulldogs were led by their best player, Horizon League Player of the Year, Gordon Hayward, who led all scorers with 19 points, while pulling down 9 rebounds. The lanky forward also collected a couple of steals and blocked two shots. And, it was Hayward who grabbed the rebound to finally close out the Spartans on Korie Lucious' purposely-missed free throw at the end of the game.
What makes Hayward's accomplishment in this game so special is that he played almost the wole game without a rest - 39 minutes - and carried the team through the first half as fellow forward Matt Howard was saddled with 2 fouls. He also played most of the second half without the services of Shelvin Mack, who was on the bench, suffering from leg spasms. Somehow, Mack managed to score 14 points. Hayward was 6-for-14 from the field, including 3 of 8 3-point shots.
The Bulldogs face Duke in the final, Monday night.
1 Duke 74
2 W. Virginia 58
When Duke started hitting their 3-pointers midway through the first half, one could almost sense the inevitability of their presence. West Virginia kept allowing open looks, and the Duke bomb squad of Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith kept dropping them in from long range.
From 3-point land, Singler hit 3 of 5, Smith, 4 of 9 and Scheyer, 5 of 9. They were also the game's top three scorers, with 21, 19 and 23 points, respectively, but Jon Scheyer was singlularly outstanding, going 7-for-13 overall as the game's high-scorer, with 6 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals while not committing a turnover.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
NCAA Cranked Up: Four for the Final
Butler Bulldogs (32-4) vs.
Michigan State Spartans (28-8)
6:07 pm EDT
Butler enters the Final Four for the very first time in school history, but does so with a flourish, sporting not only the best record of all participants, but also the longest winning streak in the nation, a solid 24 straight.
The Bulldogs will have the advantage of playing just 7 miles from their campus, in what amounts to a short home tournament. They will benefit from having many of their fans n hand, though that could also work as a distraction leading up to the Saturday games and possibly a final game showdown for all the marbles.
Butler is led by Gordon Hayward, the Horizon League Player of the Year, who brings size and talent to the front court. In the big games, Hayward has stepped up. He scored 17 points with 5 rebounds against Syracuse and had 22 and 9 in the reginal final win over Kansas State. A lean, 6'9" forward, he's a nightmare to defend.
Shelvin Mack is the scoring guard for the Bulldogs. He too has been on his game in the tournament. Ouside of his 1-for-10 3-point effort against Syracuse, Mack has nailed 12 of 18 from beyond the arc. His scoring will be essential, but Butler wins with defense, mostly in the form of a 2-1-2 zone.
The Spartans have become accustomed to playing under big lights in big pressure games, so Tom Izzo will have his players ready for action. Michigan State has been hobbled by injury, most notably the loss of point guard Kalin Lucas, who is out for the duration of the tourney but has been admirably replaced by Korie Lucious, who staved off elimination with a last-second three-pointer to shock Maryland in the regional semi-final.
Forwards Raymar Morgan and Durrell Summers will be called upon again to carry the scoring load for the Spartans, while Delvon Roe and Draymond Green will do the dirty work under the rim. Summers has carried the team through the tournament, all of which have been close calls for the Spartans. He's scoring at a 20 points per game clip, nearly double his seasonal average. Michigan State comes with grit and determination, but the Bulldogs display much the same attitude. This game will be a war. Butler is a slim, 1 1/2 point favorite.
West Virginia Mountaineers (31-6) vs.
Duke Blue Devils (33-5)
8:47 pm EDT
After the Butler - Michigan St. melange, this game will look like the Varsity kids following the JV game onto the floor. While the previous two teams will be engaged in what may look, at times, like a cage fight, the two more polished squads out of the Big East and ACC bring more finesse and subtlety in their games, especially the Blue Devils.
It's not likely that West Virginia will hold Duke's regular season leading scorer, Kyle Singler, to the 5 points he had in his prior game. Expect Singler to take his shots from the perimeter (he's a 38% three-point shooter) and also bang away inside, though the Mountaineers inside presence should slow him down a little.
Duke's other two top scorers - Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith - both have been on the money during the past two games of the tourney. Smith had a career-high 29 points in the win over Baylor which got Duke on its way to Indianapolis. Scheyer scored 18 against Purdue and poured in 20 against Baylor, hitting 5 3-pointers in the process.
Of the many edges Duke has in this game, their front court size and free throw shooting should serve them well. Brian Zoubek goes 7'1", starter Lance Thomas stands 6'8" and the two Plumlees - Miles and Mason - each go 6'10" and should see plenty of floor time. At the foul line, Scheyer hits at an 88% clip; Singler, 79%, Smith, 78%, and all three get there with stunning regularity.
West Virginia appears to have destiny on their side. Coach Bob Huggins, who played for the Mountaineers from 1975-77, is in his third year with the school, and has developed a great rapport with his players, many of whom he personally recruited. The go-to guy is slick DaSean Butler, who has made a case for himself as tournament MOP. After seeing limited action - and just 9 points - in the opening round win over Morgan St., he put up 28, 14 and 18 points in wins over Missouri, Washington and Kentucky, nabbing 27 rebounds along the way. Butler, a senior, is the floor leader and, if the game comes down to one shot, he will be the one taking it.
Up front, the Mountaineers can keep fresh, tall bodies flowing into the game. Deniz Kilicli, Devin Ebanks and Kevin Jones can all rebound and defend, though they, like most of the West Virginia squad, are not particularly deadly on the perimeter. Point guard Joe Mazzula played a pivotal role in the win over Kentucky and he'll need to step it up again. The condition of Darryl "Truck" Bryant, who was the regular point guard until suffering a broken bone in his foot, is still up in the air. He hasn't practiced as of Tuesday, though it was announced that he would play against Duke. Having him back would be a boost.
In order to win this game, West Virginia will have to challenge Duke's outside shooters and maintain a solid presence inside, easier said than done. The match-ups favor Duke in many regards and the Mountainers are not a good free throw shooting team. Of the starters, Butler is the leader, at 78%. Not surprisingly, Duke is favored by 3 points.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Duke's Nolan Hits Career High 29 in Win over Baylor
The Duke Blue Devils advanced out of the South region to the NCAA tourney Final Four with a sharp, 78-71, win on Sunday. The win enabled Duke's first trip to college hoops Nirvana - the Final Four - since 2004, when the Blue Devils lost to UConn, 79-78 in the semi-final.
Propelling the Blue Devils past Baylor was the exceptional play of junior guard Nolan Smith, who posted a career-high 29 points on a night that Kyle Singler - Duke's scoring leader - was held to an uncharacteristic 5 points. Smith hit shots from everywhere, going 9-for-17, including 4 three-pointers. He was also near-perfect from the foul line, cashing 7 of 8 freebies.
Duke faces West Virginia in a semi-final game on Saturday, April 3 in Indianapolis.
NCAA Conference Scoreboard (through games of March 28)
Big East (8-7)
Big Ten (9-4)
Big 12 (9-5)
Mountain West (2-4)
West Coast (3-2)
Western Athletic (0-2)
*Conferences with only one tournament team listed as "Other."
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Final Four Finished: Duke - West Virginia; Butler - Michigan St.
5 Michigan St. 70
6 Tennessee 69
Michigan State advanced to the Final Four by the slimmest of margins over a very credible Tennessee squad. Neither team was ever able to establish any kind of working lead, and the game was tied on numerous occasions as the lead see-sawed back andd forth. Once again, Durrell Summers came up with a big effort, scoring a game-high 22 points on 8 of 10 shooting, including 4 of 6 3-pointers.
The Volunteers put forth a valiant effort, but the Spartans would not be denied their 6th trip to the Final Four in the past 12 years and second in a row. Michigan State lost last season to North Carolina in the final. The Tar Heels did not even make it into the tournament field this year.
Michigan State will face Butler in one of two semi-final games on Saturday, April 3rd in Indianapolis.
1 Duke 78
3 Baylor 71
Duke was put to the test by an aggressive Baylor defense which held the Blue Devils' top scorer, Kyle Singler, to just 5 points, all from the foul line. It was the first time in Singler's three-years at Duke that he was held without a field goal.
Singler's teammates picked up the slack, however, and used offensive rebounds and second-chance scores to pull away late in the second half after Baylor had forged a 35-32 lead at the half. Nolan Smith was sensational with a career and game-high 29 points. Smith canned 9 of 17 shots, including 4 of 6 threes, and 7 of 8 from the free throw line.
Jon Scheyer added 20 points for the Blue Devils, who advance out of the South region to the Final Four to face the champions of the Big East tourney and NCAA tourney East region, West Virginia, on Saturday, April 3.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Elite 8 In: Tennessee, Baylor, Duke, Michigan State
6 Tennessee 76
2 Ohio St. 73
The Tennessee Volunteers advanced past the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history off a spirited effort on both ends of the floor, knocking off the #2 seeded Buckeyes. Wayne Chism had one of the best all-around efforts of his exemplary collegiate career with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
The action in this game was frenetic from start to finish, as the lead changed hands repeatedly and neither team was able to establish a comfortable lead at any point. Ohio State's Evan Turner finished with 32 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
9 Northern Iowa 52
5 Michigan St. 59
The Spartans finally wrested away a lead late in the second half from the very capable Panthers and held on for the win. Michigan State's Durrell Summers paced the scoring with 19 points, including four 3-pointers. Summers' seven rebounds were also high for the game. Michigan State will play Tennessee in one of two Sunday contests.
3 Baylor 72
10 St. Mary's 49
St. Mary's was put away early by the quicker and more athletic Bears, who dominated the Gaels in every way. LaceDarius Dunn paced all scorers with 24 points, including a 4-for-6 effort from 3-point range. Baylor was so completely dominant, the score at half time was 46-17.
4 Purdue 57
1 Duke 70
With both teams contesting every pass, shot and rebound, the tight defensive postures produced a low-scoring first half that had Duke up by a 24-23 score. The game remained tight until just after midway through the second period, when Nolan Smith scored 7 straight points on a pair of runners in the lane and a 3-pointer, to expand Duke's advantage to 9, and Purdue never recovered.
Kyle Singer had 24 points for the Blue Devils, Jon Scheyer added 18 and Nolan smith finished with 15. The Blue Devils face Baylor in the regional final Sunday.
NCAA Conference Scoreboard (through games of March 26)
Big East (7-7)
Big Ten (8-4)
Big 12 (9-4)
Mountain West (2-4)
West Coast (3-2)
Western Athletic (0-2)
*Conferences with only one tournament team listed as "Other."
Thursday, March 25, 2010
NCAA Tourney: Friday Night Previews
A trio of guard -forward hybrids - Bobby Maze, J.P. Prince and Scotty Hopson - will be counted upon to do most of the scoring and rebounding, providing some balance, but no dominating inside presence. That's the Tennessee make-up, and they've done well with it thus far.
Ohio State features a similar squad of players between 6'3" and 6'8", led by budding superstar Evan Turner, who is a triple-double threat every time he steps onto a court. The NCAA Player of the Year, Turner average 20 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6 assists through the season and had a huge game (24, 9, 9) in the second round, 75-66, win over Georgia Tech after virtually walking through the opening win past UC Santa Barbara, 68-51, with 9 points.
The Buckeyes are dangerous on the perimeter with sharp-shooters Jon Diebler, David Lighty and William Buford, and led by upper-classmen. 12 of the 16 players on their roster are either seniors or juniors and there are no freshman. Rounding out the starting five - each of whom will play almost the entire game - is the potential game-changer, 260-pound Dallas Lauderdale, who provides heft inside. Tennessee does not have a player that can match up with him well, nor do they have anyone with Turner's all-around ability. The Vols tenacity and team play should keep this one interesting.
10 St. Mary's Gaels (28-5) vs. 3 Baylor Bears (27-7), 7:27 pm EDT - To many, it's no surprise that either of these teams have advanced this far as Baylor was near the top of the Big 12 standings and ranked all season long and the Gaels knocked off Gonzaga in the WCC tourney final to receive the automatic bid. One could make the case that, with the PAC-10 sending only two teams, St. Mary's was under-seeded and could have been as high as a 4 or 5. At least that the way they've been playing, with 6'11" Omar Samhan dominating the interior in both of St. Mary's blowout wins in the tourney.
Though the Gaels beat Richmond by 8 in the opening round and Villanova by 7, the games were really not that close. St. Mary's held the lead for most of both contests. Complementing Samhan's interior play are a couple of gunners in Matt Dellavedova and Mickey McConnell, both gritty guards with good range. Dellavedova will also drive the ball to the hoop and always seems to be on top of loose balls. Forward Ben Allen is a key on both ends of the floor and Clint Steindl operates well on the wings and is an excellent passer.
The Bears haven't impressed much with wins over Sam Houston St. and Old Dominion, but the guy who St. Mary's will find hardest to handle is guard LaceDarius Dunn, who can light it up from anywhere on the court and is one of the quickest players in the country. Additionally, the Bears bring plenty of inside heft with Ekpe Udoh (6'10"), Quincy Acy (6'7"), Josh Lomers (7'0") and Anthony Jones (6'10"). St. Mary's hasn't seen that kind of size thus far in the tournament, though they did handle Gonzaga just prior, who can put big bodies on the floor.
This one promises to be one of the most entertaining games of the entire tournament.
9 Northern Iowa Panthers (30-4) vs. 5 Michigan St. Spartans (26-8), 9:37 pm EDT - Besides Cornell, the Panthers are the real Cinderella story of the tournament. Prior to beating #1-ranked and top-seeded Kansas on Saturday, N. Iowa hadn't even played a Top 25 team, so beating the Jawhawks was a shock and busted many a hopeful bracket sheet in the process. The big star thus far has undoubtedly been Ali Farokhmanesh, who has hit timely 3-point bombs, enabling the Panthers to move forward through the field.
However, Ali is not even one of the team's top scorers. He's actually 4th, after center Jordan Eglseder, forward Adam Koch and point guard Kwadzo Ahelegbe. Johnny Moran fills oout the starting five, who each play about 33-35 minutes per game. Northern Iowa is the classic "five iron men" who will go toe to toe with anyone in the nation. They are well-organized, solid in fundamentals and good defenders. They also have that extra X-factor that comes with winning 30 games in a season - they know what they are.
Michigan State comes into this game battered and bruised. Starting point guard Kalin Lucas will miss the remainder of the season with a ruptured left Achilles. He was replaced in the Spartans' second round win over Maryland by Korie Lucious who hit the game-winner at the buzzer for the 85-83 victory. Coach Tom Izzo's kids are trained to be tough and resilient, so it's no surprise they're here even without their point guard. They absorb adversity like a sponge and move forward, much of the load now shifting to forwards Durrell Summers and Raymar Morgan, both of whom have stepped it up in the first two rounds.
Inside, Draymond Green will provide an interesting match-up with Eglseder, though he's giving up 6 inches and about 50 pounds to the Northern Iowa center. A couple of inside bangers, Delvon Roe and Derrick Nix will see plenty of action, as Izzo will try to wear down the Panthers with fresh bodies. On the wing, Chris Allen is a real unknown, though he's capable of big games as well as being somewhat invisible for long stretches.
This one will go to the team that displays the best survival skills, especially if the refs let them go at it physically.
1 Duke (31-5) vs. 4 Purdue (29-5), 9:57 pm - Here is a game in which a #1 seed could easily been seen waving good-bye to its tournament hopes at the final buzzer. Purdue has regrouped after injury sidelined their #2 scorer and rebounder, replacing Robbie Hummel with gutsy, tough-as-nails senior guard Chris Kramer, a defensive specialist who will likely have the assignment of taking Duke's sharp-shooting Jon Scheyer off his game.
Should Kramer be successful, the rest of the Boilermaker squad looks like a solid match for the Blue Devils. Purdue can get plenty of scoring from center JaJuan Johnson and guard E'Twaun Moore, who is plays with emotion and quickness. Duke will be going to their best player, Kyle Singler, along with guard Nolan Smith for their scoring punch, while using Brian Zoubek and twins Miles and Mason Plumlee to clog up Johnson inside.
There isn't much separating these two teams, especially considering that, with Hummel, the Boilermakers might have even been the favorite. Coach K gives Duke an edge, though Purdue is by no means an easy out.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Purdue in OT; Duke, Xavier Still Dancing
4 Purdue 63
5 Texas A&M 61 OT
Purdue was extended to overtime. Chris Kramer's layup with 4 seconds left proved to be the margin of victory.
1 Duke 68
8 California 53
Nolan Smith scored 20 for the Blue Devils, who advance to the 3rd round to face Purdue.
6 Xavier 71
3 Pittsburgh 68
Jordan Crawford's 27 points and 6 rebounds helped Xavier escape to the regional semi-final, downing Pitt, the sixth of eight Big East teams to depart in the first two rounds. The Musketeers advance to face Kansas State.
NCAA Conference Scoreboard (through games of March 21)
Big East (6-6)
Big Ten (7-2)
Big 12 (7-4)
Mountain West (2-4)
West Coast (3-1)
Western Athletic (0-2)
*Conferences with only one tournament team listed as "Other."
Friday, March 19, 2010
Blue Devils, Spartans, Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs All Advance
10 Georgia Tech 64
7 Oklahoma St. 59
The Yellow Jackets used swarming defense and balanced scoring to upend Oklahoma State and advance. Gani Lawal led the Jackets with 14 points. Georgia Tech hit 24 of 25 free throws.
12 New Mexico St. 67
5 Michigan St. 70
New Mexico State battled until the very end, but failed to upset favored Michigan State. Kalin Lucas scored 25 points to lead all scorers.
1 Duke 73
16 Arkansas Pine Bluff 44
Duke the South's #1 seed, dusted Pine Bluff without so much as breaking a sweat. Kyle Singler had 22 points and 10 boards, both game highs.
8 Gonzaga 67
9 Florida St. 60
After leading the Seminoles 35-19 at the half, Gonzaga held on for the win and the right to play top-seeded Syracuse in the second round on Sunday. The Bulldogs had four of their starters in double figures and no bench scoring.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Bracket Busters and Myth-Breakers
We've all heard just how rugged the Midwest region is supposed to be, wherein Kansas, the #1 overall seed in the tourney, will be hard-pressed by any number of teams, but that is a flawed idea, a myth, as Kansas will likely breeze through the first three rounds and only face serious competition in their regional final.
While the region boasts some quality teams, the best of them are in the lower half of the bracket, meaning Kansas will only have to play one of the better teams. Tennessee, San Diego State, Georgetown and Ohio Sate are all in the lower half, while the only quality teams in the Kansas draw at the top are Michigan State (5) and Maryland (4). The winner of the Northern Iowa-UNLV game may give Kansas some trouble for the first 15 minutes, but the Jayhawks simply have too much size and experience to imagine that they'd be ousted as early as the second round. Whether Maryland or Michigan State emerges from the other side of the draw, it won't matter. Kansas should handle either of them by ten points at least.
If either Georgetown or Ohio State match up in the regional final against Kansas, that game will provide a true test, though Ohio State has no depth, playing six men at most, and Georgetown, while very good, probably won't be able to keep up with Kansas for a full 40 minutes. That's the big myth this season. Kansas should cruise into the Final Four without breaking a sweat.
As far as bracket-busters are concerned, there are good prospects for upsets in each of the other regions.
#1 seed Syracuse will have its hands full, given they get past Vermont in the opening round. The Orange were upset by the Catamounts in the first round in 2005, though the Orange were a #4 seed that season and Vermont, 13. Figure Syracuse will not allow lightning to strike twice, but after that, it looks like Gonzaga next and then possibly Butler. The Zags haven't exactly knocked over the world this season, though early wins over Wisconsin and Cincinnati and a close loss to Michigan State gave them impetus to cruise through the West Coast conference with a 12-2 mark. A talented team, the Bulldogs are always dangerous, though Syracuse is probably much better.
The other Bulldogs in the draw, Butler, poses different dilemmas for the Orange. A disciplined, well-coached team with tourney experience and a solid bench. Forwards Matt Howard, Gordon Hayward and Willie Veasley are slightly undersized, but match up well with the orange front line. The guard play is solid and Butler won't be intimidated by Syracuse's 2-3 zone. It's easy to see how the Bulldogs could create the first #1 casualty of the tournament.
If Syracuse survives to that point, Kansas State will likely end their Final Four dreams. The Wildcats would be a #1 seed were it not for the potent Jayhawks. K-State can run and score in transition, playing against one of Syracuse's weaknesses. The early games in the lower portion of this region could go any way, with the exception of K-State. Pitt, Minnesota, Vanderbilt or BYU all have solid teams.
Kentucky probably has the easiest draw of any team in the tournament. They will dispose of East Tenn. St. in the opening round, then dust off the winner of the Texas-Wake Forest opener, probably the worst 8-9 match-up in the pool. After that, Temple, Cornell or Wisconsin all have equal opportunity to become the Wildcats' regional semi-final victim. Trouble looms in the regional final, where Marquette, West Virginia or New Mexico could emerge, though the Mountaineers seem to be the only realistic challenge to Kentucky. If West Virginia reached the regional final, their game with Kentucky could produce the national champion.
There's been some expression of a belief that Duke caught a break by getting into this regional draw, but there are minefields throughout what shapes up to be the most busted-up bracket of them all. Will the Blue Devils face Cal or Louisville in the second round? If the Golden Bears step up and beat the Cardinals, they could be the surprise of the tournament, as only two teams came out of the PAC-10. However, if Louisville plays to their potential, there aren't many teams they can't beat. Duke could be an early out.
Other sleepers in the top half of the draw include Sienna and Utah State, both of which are widely unknown, though Sienna has a history of knocking off higher-seeded opponents with regularity. They face Purdue in the opening round, and without Robbie Hummel, the Boilermakers are already vulnerable. Sienna could cause a quick exit.
Even if Duke survives the first two rounds, a win over either Utah State or Sienna cannot be taken for granted.
The bottom of the bracket also features the weakest #2 in the tournament, Villanova, which proved in the latter part of the season to be somewhat overrated. They haven't got the size or the shooters to go deep this year and their draw is loaded. Notre Dame, Old Dominion, St. Mary's, Richmond or Baylor are all teams capable of high levels of play. Villanova is unlikely to last three rounds, maybe not even two.
Baylor or St. Mary's could emerge as a regional finalist and either could reach the Final Four, though Notre Dame and Old Dominion's chances are not bad either. In any case, Villanova is doomed and Duke will be thoroughly tested.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Singler Leads Blue Devils to ACC Final; All In on Selection Sunday
The Duke Blue Devils can wrap up the ACC tournament with a win over Georgia Tech on Sunday, after surviving a scare from upset-minded Miami in their semi-final, eventually coming out on top of a 77-74 score.
As is often the case, when his team needed him to step up, Kyle Singler did just that, hitting 5 of 9 3-pointers (8 of 15 overall), to go with 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Singler led all scorers and will have a shot at being named the tournament's MVP when he and his Duke teammates square off with Georgia Tech on Sunday in the tourney final.
Having already captured the outright regular season ACC crown, the Blue Devils have little to prove in their match-up with the Yellow Jackets, a team they lost to in January, but soundly trounced in early February, 86-67, though that win was on Duke's home court. A win by Duke would ensure a #1 seeding, most likely in the West Region. A loss could send that seed to Ohio State, if the Buckeyes handle Minnesota in their final.
Notable: There are just four games on Sunday to determine automatic bids. The ACC, A-10 and SEC tourney finals all begin at 1;00 EDT, while the Big Ten final is set for a 3:30 pm tip. In each case, the conference #1 seed is facing a team ostensibly on the bubble, though, in all likelihood, the four "bubble" teams - Richmond (A-10), Georgia Tech (ACC), Mississippi St. (SEC) and Minnesota (Big Ten) - have, by virtue of solid play to reach their conference final, already earned enough respect from the selection committee to make the field of 65 even if they lose.
It should be interesting to watch what happens especially to Minnesota and Mississippi State. Both have solid enough resumes to get them into the tourney, though some experts are calling them "first teams out."
We'll find out soon enough, as the selections are scheduled to be announced at 6:00 pm ET. Get your brackets ready!
Monday, February 22, 2010
Blue Devils Cruising Towards ACC Title
At the start of the season, not much was made about Duke's chances other than they'd likely be a high seed when March came around. Now, it appears that the Blue Devils may be able to nab a #1 seed in the NCCA tourney, as they've plowed through their ACC opponents with relative ease.
Sunday's ho-hum, 67-55 win over Virginia Tech offered a glimpse of what to expect when Duke comes calling. Their "big three" of Kyle Singler, Nick Smith and Jon Scheyer combined for all but four of Duke's points, with Singler leading the charge with 25 points on 7-for-15 shooting, which included 4 of 9 3-pointers and a perfect 7-for-7 from the foul line. Singler also added 10 boards for his 5th double-double of the season.
Scheyer scored 15 and Smith tallied 24. The other players to score were center Brian Zoubek, who had 3 points but held sway in the lane with 16 rebounds. Miles Plumlee had a single point from the foul line.
Duke, leading the ACC at 11-2, is being chased by 9-3 Maryland. The Terrapins may have their opportunity for at least a share of the conference title March 3rd, when Duke visits.Duke has already bombed Maryland once, 77-56, and their Sunday win sent the Hokies back to 8-4 in the ACC standings. In the meantime, the Blue Devils continue to make strides towards a top NCAA seeding and possibly a very deep run in the winner-take-all tournament.
Notable: The Pitt Panthers suffered through one of their worst shooting performances of the season, but bailed themselves out by hitting 26 of 34 free throws (76%) as they upset #3 Villanova, 70-65. Ranked #19 before their game, the Panthers will move up considerably in the national rankings due out Monday.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Duke's Scheyer, Singler Stomp Tar Heels
They weren't exactly sharpshooters from inside the 3-point line, but Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler shot well enough from outside the arc to bury North Carolina right in the Tar Heels' back yard at Chapel Hill, 64-54.
The guard-forward combo combined for 2/3rds of the Blue Devil scoring, 43 in all, sending North Carolina to their 4th straight conference loss, 4th straight home loss, and dropped them to a 2-7 record in the ACC, just 1/2 game ahead of last place NC State (2-8). 8-2 Duke expanded their ACC lead to a full game over idle Maryland (6-2) and Wake Forest (7-3). Maryland's scheduled home game with Virginia was cancelled due to the fierce storm which dumped nearly 4 feet of snow on College Park over the past 4 days.
Singler was the man in the first half for Duke, while Scheyer scored most of his game-high 24 points in the second half. Singler was 7-for-18 overall, but 4 of 5 from 3-point range as the Tar Heels allowed him open looks in the early going. He finished with 19 points and 9 boards. Scheyer was 7-for-20, but 5 of 9 from outside the arc, adding 4 assists and 5 rebounds. As a team, the Blue Devils had one of their worst shooting nights of the season, hitting just 31% from the field, though they managed 50% (9-18) from 3-point land. The dynamic duo had all of the treys.
North Carolina didn't fare much better, hitting 35% from the floor and a woeful 5 of 18 (28%) on threes. Carolina's overall record now stands at a mediocre 13-11, nearly assuring that they will not be invited to the Big Dance in March. It's a sorry state of affairs in Chapel Hill, less than a year removed from cutting down the nets as national champions. Of course, losing players like Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson and Danny Green did put a very large dent in Carolina's overall game.
Friday, February 05, 2010
Singler Guides Duke Past Georgia Tech; Devils Top ACC
With Georgia Tech's big men - Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors - both in foul trouble from just about the very start of the game (Lawal picked up 2 personals in the first 33 seconds and Favors had three before the game was even 7 minutes old), one would have thought the Blue Devils would take the ball in deep for scoring opportunities. Instead, just the opposite occurred as Kyle Singler roamed free on the perimeter, hitting 8 of 10 3-pointers for a career-high 30 points. As Singler was pouring them in from long range, and the Yellow jacket insiders on the bench, #10 Duke (18-4, 6-2) easily sped past #21 Georgia Tech (16-6, 4-4), 86-67, to remain 1/2 game ahead of 5-2 maryland and Virginia in the ACC.
Singler hit only one of seven shots that wasn't from three-point range, but he added 4-of-5 from the foul line and pulled down 5 rebounds. The game was decided within the first ten minutes of play, as Duke took a lead and went ahead to stay. Singler canned one of his threes just before intermission, giving the Blue Devils a 45-33 lead. After that they were never threatened.
NOTABLE: Keep an eye on the Butler Bulldogs, who are about to wrap up the Horizon league regular season title. They are 12-0 in the conference, on Thursday knocking off Detroit, 63-58, following four consecutive wins on the road. Gordon Hayward scored 18 points and had 10 rebounds, continuing to lead Butler in both departments. The Bulldogs are a perennial upset-maker in the NCAA tourney and appear poised for a deep run this year. 19-4 Butler is ranked #23 in the most-recent AP poll.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Mississippi St. Plays Its way In; Duke Takes ACC
Phil Turner hit a 3-pointer to put Mississippi State ahead late and then made two free throws with 8 seconds left to lift the Bulldogs over the Tennessee Volunteers in the SEC Championship game. Turner finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the biggest game of his career.
The Bulldogs are 23-12 and went 9-7 in the SEC regular season, and were considered by many to be a bubble team that would not make it into the NCAA tourney without winning the championship. Mississippi St. beat the best the conference could offer, knocking off Georgia, South Carolina, LSU and the Vols over the four-day span and should have been considered already in, whatever the outcome of today's game.
That said, the Bulldogs get the automatic bid and will likely become a 7 or 8 seed.
Duke 79, Florida State 69
Gerald Henderson's three pointer seven minutes into the game gave Duke the lead and the Blue Devils ran away and hid from the upset-minded Seminoles to capture the ACC tournament title. Duke took a 35-21 lead into the break and were never challenged after that.
Henderson finished with 27 points, second on the Duke scoring ladder behind Jon Scheyer's 29. Toney Douglas scored 28 for the Seminoles.
Both Florida State and Duke were already assured of making the NCAA field, though now Duke seems almost certain to be a #2 seed. Florida State is projected as a 3 or 4.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
ACC: Duke Advances; FSU Upsets Tar Heels
In the Florida state win, North Carolina had a 9-point lead in the first half, but could not sustain it, as the teams exchanged leads throughout the game. though FSU held the advantage through much of the second half, but led by no more than 5 points at any time. Carolina's Danny Green tied the game on a pair of free throws at 69-69 with 2:03 left and Bobby Frasor gave the Tar Heels a 1-point lead a minute later, but FSU's Toney Douglas and Derwin Kitchen each made a pair of free throws and North Carolina was unable to score again. The Seminoles advance to the finals against Duke on Sunday.
Duke's win over a desperate Maryland squad was close until about halfway through the second half, when Duke went on a 12-2 run, stretching their lead to 56-43 with just over 5 minutes left to play. The Terrapins cut the lead to 4 points, but by then there were only 18 seconds left and Duke secured the win.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Duke Downs Seminoles, Sets Up Sunday Showdown With Tar Heels
Gerald Henderson led the Blue Devils in scoring for the 4th straight game, with 21 points. Game high honors went to Florida State's Toney Douglas, who had 27, including 5 three-pointers.
11-3 North Carolina plays at Virginia Tech Wednesday night prior to the big event. Duke improved to 11-4 in the conference and 25-5 overall.
*** - *** - ***
Elsewhere around the college hoops universe, #18 Clemson powered past Virginia, 75-57, bolstering their credentials for an NCAA bid at 10-6 in the ACC and 24-6 overall.
#14 Gonzaga cruised past South Carolina Upstate, 90-40, getting scoring from 9 different players.
Having just been restored to the Top 25 on Monday, #25 Syracuse survived one of the worst halves of their season in the opening 20 minutes at home against Rutgers, hitting just 7 of 23 (30%) from the field and 1-8 from three-point range. Still, they trailed by just a point at the break, 20-19, as the Scarlet Knights shot just 26%.
The second half was another story, as the Orange hit 10 or their first 11 shots and went on a 14-0 run to open a 15-point lead at 43-28. From there it was all Orange in their last game of the season at the Carrier Dome, running away late for a convincing, 70-40 win.
Syracuse had lost 6 straight when trailing at the half but reversed that trend with their third straight Big East. They close out their season Saturday at #13 Marquette.
Oklahoma State moved into 5th place in the Big 12 standings, getting past Kansas State, 77-71, for their sixth straight win. The Cowboys are 9-6 in the conference and 20-9 overall. The NCAA selection committee always favors teams playing well down the stretch and Oklahoma State has been doing just that. They close out their regular season at #4 Oklahoma on Saturday.
Ohio State continued to cling to slim hopes of making the big dance, with a 60-58 win at Iowa. The Buckeyes are 19-9 and 9-8 in the Big Ten and close out their season hosting Northwestern on Sunday.
Late night in the ACC, #10 Wake Forest put the final nail in Maryland's post-season coffin and maybe ended the coaching reign of the Terrapins' Gary Williams with a 65-63 win at Maryland. The Terps have missed the NCAA tourney four of the past five years and with a record of 18-11 and 7-8 in the conference, Maryland faces a must-win situation Saturday at Virginia in their regular season finale.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Washington Clinches PAC-10 Tie: Duke, Sooners Win
Jon Brockman scored 19 points and pulled in 9 rebounds and Isaiah Thomas tallied 19 as well, putting the Washington Huskies in an excellent position to win their first PAC-10 title in 24 years. Their win over Arizona clinched at least a tie with one game left, against Washington St. on March 7. The Huskies knocked off the Cougars back in January, 68-48.
Trailing most of the game, the Huskies ran off 10 straight points, turning a 6-point deficit into a 66-62 lead with less than 6 minutes left in the second half. The two teams traded baskets and free throws down the stretch, but the best the Wildcats could do was tie the game at 68-all. From there, the Huskies hunkered down on defense and canned key buckets and free throws as time wore down.
Jordan Hill led Arizona with 27 points on 12-18 shooting. The Huskies improved to 13-4, 22-7, while Arizona kept slim post-season hopes alive despite the loss. They are 8-8 in the PAC-10 and 18-11 overall.
#7 Duke 72, Virginia Tech 65
The Blue Devils (24-5, 10-4) continued their relentless pursuit of North Carolina in the ACC, winning on the road in Blacksburg to remain within striking distance of the Tar Heels.
Gerald Henderson was Duke's leader again. He and Kyle Singler led all scorers with 21 points each. Henerdson grabbed 6 rebounds and dished 6 assists. He has led the team in scoring in three straight wins, with 19 against St. John's and 35 in the Blue Devils' win over Wake Forest.
After a home game against Florida State on March 3, Duke closes out the regular season at North Carolina, March 7.
#3 Oklahoma 78, Texas Tech 63
Blake Griffin returned to the lineup and the Oklahoma Sooners promptly ended their 2-game skid.
The aftereffects of a concussion suffered against this same Red Raider team apparently long gone, Griffin had 14 points and 9 rebounds in the opening half and finished with 20 and 17. Griffin's older brother, Taylor, a 6'7" senior, pitched in his own double-double leading all scorers with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
The Sooners (26-3, 12-2) still have a shot at the Big 12 regular season title, though they trail Kansas by 1/2 game. The #15 Jayhawks have an important date with #11 Missouri tomorrow.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Top 25 Roundup (late games): Clemson Dumped; Duke Tops Terps
Malcolm Delaney scored 26 points for the Hokies as Virginia Tech (17-10, 7-6) made its case for inclusion in the NCAA field. It was just the second win for the Hokies over a ranked opponent, though both wins came on the road. Back on Jan. 21, the Hokies stunned then-#1 Wake Forest, 78-71.
Virginia Tech's road to the tournament gets tougher, however, as their remaining ACC games are against Duke, North Carolina and Florida State.
Villanova 74 DePaul 72
The Wildcats won for the 9th time in 10 games, holding on for a Big East win over the DePaul Blue Demons. Villanova improved to 11-4 in the conference and 23-5 overall.
Michigan St. 62, Iowa 54
Tom Izzo used his entire bench, getting scoring from 9 different players, as the Spartans maintained their lead in the Big 10 at 12-3. a hame and a half better than 10-4 Purdue.
Delvin Roe scored 16 points on 6-7 shooting for Michigan State.
#7 Duke 78, Maryland 67
Duke's defenders held Greivis Vasquez to just 10 points, as the Blue Devils dampened Maryland's NCAA invitation hopes, beating the Terps,
Maryland dropped to 6-7 in the ACC (17-10 overall), while Duke moved to within a game of league leading North Carolina (10-3), at 9-4. Gerald Henderson had another solid game, leading the Blue Cevils with 19 points.
In Big 12 action, #11 Missouri cruised past Kansas State, 94-74, getting 22 points from DeMarre Carroll, who led 5 players in double figures for the Tigers. Carroll also corralled 13 boards.
#25 Texas topped Texas Tech, 87-81. A.J. Abrams scored 24 and Damion James had 20 and 12 boards.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Duke Tops Wake Forest, 101-91
Despite shooting 61% (36-59) for the game, the Demon Deacons found themselves trailing the Blue Devils by 11 at the break, 51-40, but stage a second half comeback.
Jeff Teague and James Johnson, who finished with 28 and 26, respectively, led the rally, cutting the advantage to 3 points on a couple of occasions and down to two with 9 1/2 minutes left, but by 5:21 left, despite their gaudy shooting percentage, they found themselves down 8 points, 88-80.
Duke was being led throughout by Henderson and Scheyer, plus 20 points from their productive bench. Duke also held a massive free throw advantage, hitting on 27 of 36 attempts, to Wake's 14 of 16.
The Deacons only began to wilt in the late stages. Gerald Henderson put a deep nail in the coffin with a three-pointer with 3:07 to go, which made the score 93-82.
Duke joined Florida State and Clemson at 8-4, in pursuit of 10-3 North Carolina, with Wake dropping to 7-5 in the conference.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Xavier Humbled Again; Duke Wins in NY
With an overall record of 21-5, there's no panic for Xavier securing an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, but their path to an automatic berth looked much better just 12 days ago, before road losses to Duquesne, Dayton and Charlotte.
C.J. Anderson was the only Xavier player to tally double figures, scoring 13. The Musketeers still have opportunities to get back on track with games against St. Joseph's and Dayton still remaining.
Duke Cruises Past St. John's
The Duke Blue Devils opened up an 11-point lead by halftime and coasted to a 76-69 win at St. John's.
Gerald Henerson was the game's high scorer with 19, tallying 11 from the charity stripe. Jon Scheyer had 18, Kyle Singler, 15.
Duke is 21-5 overall and 7-4 in the ACC, but trails 10-2 North Carolina for the conference lead.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
ACC Wrap: Duke Bounced by BC; Tar Heels win 9th Straight
Sunday's setback wasn't exactly a thing of beauty, but it was a huge win for BC, as Tyrese Rice made big plays down the stretch in a 21-point effort, aided by Vermont transfer Joe Trapani's 20.
Kyle Singler topped the scoring ladder with 25, but the absence of production from Duke's back court - Jon Scheyer and Greg Paulus - was notable. Paulus had just 2 points and 2 assists in 25 minutes, while Scheyer was completely off his game, scoring 8 points on horrific 3-of-12 shooting, including 0-for-6 on three-pointers.
Duke dropped to 7-4 in ACC play and 20-5 overall. The Eagles, meanwhile, improved to 7-5 and 19-8, and now hold wins over duke and North Carolina, despite a pair of losses to Wake Forest and another to Clemson.
Tar Heels Slip Past Hurricanes
Ty Lawson made a 25-foot three-pointer with 11.2 seconds remaining and hit a pair of free throws with 2.5 left to seal a 69-65 North Carolina win at Miami.
Lawson's 21 pointed paced the Tar Heels, as they held off a determined Hurricane squad led by Jack McClinton's 35-point effort. Virtually unstoppable, McClinton hit 13 of 24 field goals, including 7-of-12 from 3-point range. McClinton's tally was a season high, eclipsing the 34 points he scored in his last game, a 78-75 loss at Duke on February 7. He scored 32 in the game just prior to that, a 79-52 thrashing of Wake Forest on February 4.
After playing three straight top-ranked teams in a row, life gets a bit easier for the Hurricanes, though not by much. They play at Florida State on Wednesday before returning home to face Boston College on Saturday. Miami is 15-9 overall, but just 4-7 in the ACC.
#3 North Carolina improved to 23-2 and 9-2 in league play. They lead the ACC by 2 games over Duke.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tar Heels Gallop Past Duke, 101-87
Duke, ranked #6 in the latest AP Poll, took a 52-45 lead into halftime, but the #3 Tar Heels stormed back in the second half, outscoring the Blue Devils 25-13 to start the 2nd stanza. North Carolina finally assumed the lead on a Wayne Ellington 3-pointer midway through the second half and extended their edge to 4 points on Ed Davis' short jumper.
Ellington's make was timely, being the only three made from seven he threw up. Carolina maintained their edge from there and expanded it to 78-71, when Ty Lawson hit a pair of jumpers 15 seconds apart with just over 7 minutes left. After Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough hit his only attempt at a 3-pointer at 13:58, making it 83-71, the Cameron Crazies were silenced and North Carolina had cemented their credentials as the class of the ACC.
Lawson led all scorers with 25 points on sharp 8-11 shooting and 9-9 from the free throw line. Kyle Singler led the Blue Devils with 22. Jon Scheyer had 20.
The Tar Heels had five in double figures plus Bobby Frasor with 9. Carolina improved to 22-2 overall, and first place in the ACC at 8-2. Duke dropped to 20-4 and 7-3.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Bye, Bye 'Bama
Florida extended its nation's-longest winning streak to 17 straight and seem destined to win the SEC East with ease and enter the NCAA tournament as a #1 seed.
Alabama, on the contrary, will be lucky to get an invitation to the Big Dance unless they step up their play considerably. The loss was the second straight for "Bama, dropping them to 2nd place in the wobbly SEC West at 5-6. They trail 6-5 Mississippi, which is unranked.
Alabama's next two games are critical. They play at Kentucky on Saturday and then host red-hot Tennessee on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Both teams have better conference records and a pair of defeats would preclude a winning conference record for the Tide and probably have them watching the tourney on TV.
Top 25 Quick Update
Due to heavy snows yesterday - and digging out today - time is a little short so, I'll just recap briefly the Top 25 events from Wednesday night.
There were two upsets of note:
Duke 78 #21 Boston College 70 - Duke ended a four-game losing streak by beating the ACC-leading Eagles in Boston and putting the conference title up for grabs. 9-3 BC has a 1/2-game lead over North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech, all at 8-3. Duke evened their conference record at 6-6.
DePaul 72 #14 Marquette 67 - Lowly DePaul (6-6, 15-11) won at home, sending Marquette to their second straight loss. With just four games left on their schedule, the Big East crown seems out of reach for the Golden Eagles, though their 21-6 record should provide enough of a cushion for a decent seeding in the national tourney.
#17 Air Force 69 Utah 43 - The Falcons continue to trail unranked BYU by a game in the Mountain West.
#11 Nevada 68 San Jose St. 60 - Another double-double for Nick Fazekas (20 points, 10 rebounds). Is the Wolf Pack as good as their ranking? We'll find out in late February. Their final 3 games are against the teams closest to them in the WAC - New Mexico St., Utah St. and Boise St. Currently, Nevada leads them by 2, 3, and 4 games respectively.
#2 Ohio State 64 Penn St. 62 - Greg Oden, 15 points, 10 rebounds
#3 Wisconsin 75 Minnesota 62 - Alando Tucker, 29 points, 9 rebounds
#8 Memphis 69 Tulsa 52 - Tigers lead Conference USA at 12-0 and have won 14 straight.
#9 Kansas 75 Colorado 46 - Colorado: 27% shooting, 17 turnovers. Jayhawks are tied with Texas A&M for first place in the Big 12 at 9-2.
#10 Washington St. 65 Washington 61 - 11-3 Cougars tied with 10-2 UCLA for top honors in Pac-10. Cougars final four games: at Oregon, at Oregon St., UCLA, USC.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Duke Dumps 4th Straight; #25 Stanford Also Loses
The loss dropped Duke to an unfamiliar place in the ACC standings - tied for 6th with Florida State, which lost last night at home, 68-67 to conference leader Boston College, now 9-2. Duke and Florida St. are both 5-6, Maryland still trails both of them at 4-6.
At 18-7, both Duke and Maryland are sitting on the proverbial tournament bubble. While both may reach 20 wins, 10 losses is also within range, and that's a number the committee always considers.
Could Duke miss being invited? It's a good possibility. Their remaining games are at Boston College, Georgia Tech, at Clemson, at St. John's, Maryland, at North Carolina. There's probably little chance of them sweeping these games. The best they can hope for is probably a split on the four road games and winning both home tilts.
That would put the Blue Devils at 22-9 with the ACC tournament ahead. Unless they win that, there's the 10th loss. Additionally, if they lose early in the ACC tourney, they're probably NIT material.
There are a bevy of quality teams which will finish with fewer than 10 losses, even though that's not necessarily a magic number. 11 or 12 losses almost certainly knocks a team out, so Duke and Maryland and a bunch of other ACC teams - Virginia, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Georgia Tech - currently have 7 or 8 losses. It's beginning to get very interesting.
Washington 64 #25 Stanford 52 - Stanford's twin 7-foot freshmen forwards, Brook and Robin Lopez, got a little lesson in positioning from Washington's forwards, Spencer Hawes and Jon Brockman. While the twins had 13 points and 7 rebounds between them, the Huskies' duo piled up 32 and 17. Hawes' 18 and Brockman's 14 propelled Washington to their 4th win in their last five games.
However, the Huskies are getting a little bit of a late start to challenge for any Pac-10 honors. They are 7th, at 6-7 and 16-8 overall. With 4 of their remaining 5 games against ranked opponents, the Huskies would do well to get an invitation to the Big Dance.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Creampuffs and cupcakes, anyone?
Drexel 84 (23) Syracuse 79 - Somebody needs to remind the kids at Syracuse that they're supposed to be good. Apparently, the memo didn't get to the troops at Drexel, as the Dragons dumped the Orange in the Carrier Dome with a 48-point 2nd half. For the 'Cuse, Demetrius Nichols dropped in 31, but highly-touted frosh Paul Harris was nearly invisible with 7 points on 2-5 shooting. 7-2 Drexel has won 5 straight; 9-3 Syracuse will probably drop from the Top 25 having lost their third game at home.
(6) Duke 79 Kent St 72 - the Blue Devils are young, but defense is not their strong suit. Kent St. shot 50% from the floor, but were outscored on the free throw line by 17 points. Coach K has them doing what he knows best - drawing fouls. Duke's 10-1, with the only loss to Marquette, and they've been hanging some pretty hefty scores on good teams. Obviously, more to come from Tobacco Road, but this game shouldn't have been this close.
(2) UNC 105 Florida Atlantic 52 - This is a little more like it. Tyler Hansbrough led 5 players in double figures with 20 as the Tar Heels improve to 9-1.
(20) Notre Dame 86 Portland 69 - Russell Carter had 28 and Rob Kurz 21 as the Irish won their 8th straight. With wins already over Maryland and Alabama, Notre Dame may have its most balanced team in years. Last season, the Irish lost a slew of close games. This year, they're avoiding that circumstance by blowing people away.
(3) Ohio State 75 Iowa St. 56 - Don't punch that NBA ticket for Greg Oden just yet. The Buckeyes are not yet a complete team, needing better perimeter defense and more production from the outside. In the middle they're predominant, but good transition and outside shooting can beat them. Still, they're not too bad, even though this was a 2-point game with 6 minutes left. Daequan Cook (21 points) bailed them out this time. Oden finished with 18.
(11) Kansas 94 Winston Salem 43 - a pair of sophomores, Brandon Rush and Julian Wright scored 15 each as the Jayhawks cruised to win #9 against 2 losses. This team should continue to improve as the season progresses. They already look well-prepared for conference play.
(8) Wichita St 74 Kennesaw St 65 - the Shockers shot 63% from the floor, 0-4 from 3-point range and 20-28 free throws to earn their 9th straight win without a loss. Those wins over LSU and Syracuse still look good.
(19) Marquette 80 Oakland 62 - The Golden Eagles held Oakland to 32% shooting and improved to 11-2. No flaws on this team. The Big East should again be the top conference in the nation.
Later tonight, Sam Houston at UCLA. Yawn...