Another week of basketball that did not fail to please. It was not very fun if you root for any of the local powerhouses, but it’s college hoops nonetheless. You won’t here very much complaining on this end. Just when you think you have it all figured out, who’s #1 or who sucks, something happens to keep you on your toes. Like a boxer that’s dominating a fight, teams need to watch for the knockout punch that could turn the season’s tides. One loss could expose weaknesses for other teams to exploit from here on out. Duke is a perfect example and it remains to be seen on Wake and Louisville. Here are a few thoughts from the week that was….
– Duke lost by nearly 40 against a team in Clemson that I’m still not sold on. The Tigers are a physical team and completely broke Duke inside. Brian Zoubek and Miles Plumlee are just not getting the job done inside and fellow big-man Lance Thomas isn’t a true post player. The Dukies rely on the 3 more than any other team in the country and I have a feeling they will get burnt by that later on. They are 3-3 on the road and still have two games with Carolina and a rematch with Wake left to go. All a team need to do is step out on the shooters and pound the ball inside to beat Coach K’s squad. Clemson proved that to us Wednesday night and teams that watch the video will continue that trend.
– With the Duke blow-out and Wake dropping two-in-a-row to Georgia Tech and Miami, the question needs to be asked: Are Duke and Wake overrated teams or is the ACC an underrated conference? Top heavy is the phrase used by most (including myself) when describing the conference. Looking deeper than the top 3 of UNC, Duke and Wake, you’ll find teams like Clemson who showed a lot against Duke. Miami has enough talent to make a Sweet 16 run, Seth Greenberg always has Virginia Tech ready to play and even the likes of last place Georgia Tech can scare teams despite only one conference victory. That is what separates the ACC from the Big East. The Big East has a greater number of tournament caliber teams and the ACC has a lesser number of push-overs. It’s like chocolate or vanilla, Marissa Miller or Giselle, Crockett or Tubbs when deciding between the two best conferences in the country. Both have their advantages, both have their faults, but both will leave you satisfied at the end of the day.
– A Big East team that is being overlooked (if that’s possible) is Marquette. I’m guilty myself of blaming their success on a soft non-conference and back-loaded conference schedule. However, first year coach Buzz Williams’ team keeps winning and it’s getting too late in the season to continue the ignorance. The Eagles might have the best group of wings in the country. Basically, their whole team is composed of wing-players and guards. The tallest player that sees action is 6-7. Jerel McNeal is making a claim for a second or third team All-American averaging an even 20 a game and Lazar Hayward is averaging close to 10 boards a game. Against a big team like UCONN, the Eagles may struggle. You can not discount what they have done so far going undefeated in such a good conference. At Georgetown, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Villanova sandwiched around a home game against UCONN is what the Eagles have to look forward to between today and March 4th.
-Is Bobby Knight really going to coach in the SEC? As I’m sure you’ve already seen this week, the General told a friend who told another friend that he would be interested in the Georgia job left vacant after the brutal mid-season firing of Dennis Felton. I’m getting used to Knight as a great college basketball analyst, but one of the greatest coaches in any sport of all-time should be on the sidelines until the day he kills over from a bad call. First, the SEC is a lot easier to recruit to than Texas Tech. Second, Knight left fans with a bad taste in their mouths after leaving Lubbock so abruptly last year. It would be awesome to see him get one more good tourney run in before it’s all said and done. Whether it happens at Georgia, Alabama, or anywhere else remains to be seen.
The week that will be…
Friday – Watch the Freak Show on Louisville’s CW or streaming at louisvillesportsbuzz.com at 11:30 PM. Shameless plug, I know, but as with every Friday so far this season, there is nothing but a bunch of second rate games on to watch. The Ivy League has a few titanic match-ups including the rivalry game between Yale and Harvard. The only Top 25 team in action is Marquette as they travel to Tampa to play Gus Gilchrist and South Florida.
Saturday – 12 ESPN: Both Syracuse and Villanova are jockeying for position in the Big East and this is one of those games that could determine whether they get a 6 seed or a 9 seed. 1PM CBS: Notre Dame is about 4 and a half feet deep in their season’s grave right now and a loss to UCLA would give them a 12-10 overall record to go with their losing conference record. A win could breathe some life into the former top 10 team. UCLA could use a statement win to show the rest of the country they are legit. 1:30 ESPN360: Jack McClinton brings his Hurricanes to Cameron Indoor to play Duke. The ‘canes are out to prove they are still a top 20 team and the Devils just don’t want to lose by 40 again. 6:00 ESPN: Michigan goes to #1 UCONN. The Wolverines are slipping after a pretty good start and I don’t think the two headed monster of DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris can handle the talent Jim Calhoun has. 9:00 ESPN: The Master of Sleaze himself takes his Memphis Tigers to the Great Northwest to face red-hot Gonzaga. The Zags and Tigers have 10 and 13 game winning streaks riding on this awesome non-conference game. Matt Bouldin, who fits perfectly into the Zags mode, had a career high 31 against Portland last nights victory.
Sunday – 1pm CBS – As you who read this post every week know, I think Big Ten basketball would be playing on a loop in my sports hell. With that being said, Purdue at Illinois could be an exception to the rule. A downside is that Purdue star Robbie Hummel is day-to-day with back spasms and may not play. Both teams have young talent that play hard making it possible for an enjoyable game. 7:30 FoxSports: Gary Williams is on the hot-seat and Maryland needs to start winning now. Failure to make the tourney this year would make the Terps 4th since winning the title. That is uncalled for after something that is supposed to catapult the program happens. The Terps take on Gani Lawal and Georgia Tech.
Monday – 7:00 ESPN – The basketball version of the rivalry known as the “Backyard Brawl” goes down in Pittsburgh as the Panthers host West Virginia. Bob Huggins has talented players that get very inconsistent at times and PITT should exploit them for that. Both teams don’t have very deep benches, so I see this game being very methodical and low scoring. 9:00 ESPN – Kansas heads to Missouri in another rivalry type of game. Sherron Collins has really stepped it up as of late and is leading a very young Jayhawk team to a possible Big 12 title.
Tuesday – 7:30 ESPN2 – It’s small ball at it’s best as Marquette battles with Villanova. Either team has multiple guards and slashers that could take over the game. the real test will be which team’s pseudo-big-man will get the hustle stats and putbacks that might make the difference. 9:00 ESPN – There will be enough here where I don’t need to say anything other than Billy Clyde and his Cats better beat Florida.
Wednesday –7:00 ESPN2 – In what is almost always an entertaining match-up between mid-majors, Xavier takes on in-state rival Dayton. Chris Wright might be the nastiest dunker since James White – absolutely ridiculous hops. Xavier is gearing up for the road to Detroit and can’t afford to drop this one for seeding purposes. 7:00 ESPN – UCONN hosts Syracuse. Jim Boehiem doesn’t press very much, plays a middle-clogging zone, and forces the other team to hit from outside. I think that is how you beat the Huskies – jam the middle, slow the ball down and force them to take three’s. 9:00 ESPN – I’m sure you know already because your boys at ESPN just shove it down your throat hourly, but UNC travels to Cameron Indoor for the alleged “best rivalry in college hoops”. Of course, it should be a good game. However, I think Hansbrough and Deon Thompson should have a field day aganst the soft Duke bigs. I say whoever hits the higher 3pt& wins the game.
Thursday – 9 ESPN – UCLA tries to avenge an earlier OT loss to the James Harden Show aka Arizona St. If Harden played for any team East of the Mississippi river, he would be considered the first/second best player around. UCLA sits atop the Pac-10 with a two game lead over the Sun Devils. Harden and co. look to narrow the gap between the two with a big win.