Posted on: March 27, 2010 4:02 pm
Edited on: March 27, 2010 4:04 pm

Four places where the West final will be decided

1. On the Glass: While Frank Martin’s Kansas State Wildcats use a barrage of athletic bodies to hit the offensive boards and shut down their opponents on the defensive end, Butler carries more of the Tiger Woods marriage philosophy when it comes to rebounding. Yeah, whatever. The Bulldogs have been out-rebounded in every game this tournament and are facing their most physical opponent yet. If they want to make the Final Four, their streak of being out-rebounded will have to end today. That means the eyes of the whole world are on Matt Howard, YMCA superstar.

2. The back court: Kansas State sports one of the premier guard duos in the country in Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente. Butler, meanwhile, can boast of underrated star Shelvin Mack and, well, Shelvin Mack? Rarely does a team make it this deep in the tournament without an experienced, steady point guard. Though Ronald Nored has played well above his normal output the past two games (11 ppg and 2.25 assist to turnover ratio), he is nowhere near the top-level floor general that his counterpart, Jacob Pullen (who only has four turnovers the entire tournament), is and shot 18% from the three-point line during the regular season. The Bulldogs will need him to take his game to a whole new level today.

3. The free throw line: If you were trying to find a consistent theme in Kansas State’s seven losses this season, you’d find that the closest thing to a recurring weakness is free throw shooting. Outside of their loss late in the season to Iowa State where they shot 79% from the line (and 13% from three), the Wildcats struggled knocking down the freebies. Given their athletic advantage over the Bulldogs, you’d think that the foul situation would favor them and give them plenty of time to do damage at the line. If they so choose.

4. Salt Lake City:  That’s where the game is being played. Duh.


Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
Posted on: March 26, 2010 4:37 pm

Gus Johnson Gets His Freak On


To get you ready for tonight's action, how about some memories of last night's Xavier-Kansas State finish from the mouth of the great Gus Johnson:

Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
Posted on: March 26, 2010 2:34 pm
Edited on: March 26, 2010 2:40 pm

Looking back at 1964...

Thomas Beisner

Thanks to a third-consecutive game of sharp-shooting from Denis Clemente and powerful scoring pops from Curtis Kelly and Denis Clemente, Kansas State inched themselves closer to their first Final Four trip since 1964.  Back then, the Wildcats were led by Phil Jackson BFF Tex Winter and lost in the national semifinals to UCLA, who would eventually win their first (yes, first) NCAA title.  So, as you might suspect, things are quite different now than they were back then.  So, for all of you Kansas State fans who have been in a coma or trapped somewhere without the internet or television (I believe there are those places somwhere in Kansas) since 1964, here is what you need to know to makea smooth transition into this weekend's game with Butler:

What it was like then: United States Surgeon General Luther Leonidas Terry reports that smoking may be hazardous to one's health.
What it’s like now: DeMarcus Cousins is going to murder someone if they tackle him one more time.

 What it was like then: The United States was officially hit with “Beatlemania”.
What it’s like now: College basketball enjoyed the Jacob Pullen beard, the John Wall dance, Lucas O’Rear’s O’Reariness and the sensual appeal of The Samhan.

What it was like then: Muhammad Ali beat Sonny Liston for his first title.
What it’s like now: Ali Farokhmanesh beat the world.

What it was like then: Philadelphia was the site of a massive race riot.
What it’s like now: Syracuse hosted UK and Cornell.

What it was like then: Mary Poppins made its world premiere in Los Angeles.
What it’s like now: Kansas played like a bunch of British nannies in Oklahoma City.

What it was like then: Thieves stole the head of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen.
What it’s like now: Ali Farokhmanesh ripped out the hearts of UNLV and Kansas fans.

What it was like then: Martin Luther King became the youngest winner of the Nobel Prize.
What it’s like now: Brad Stevens became the only coach to beat a #1 seed before puberty.

What it was like then: Australia won two out of seven basketball games at the Olympics.
What it’s like now: Australia won two of two NCAA tournament games under their new alias, St. Mary’s.

What it was like then: President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, abolishing racial segregation.
What it’s like now: Coach K still recruits like it’s July 1, 1964.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
Posted on: March 26, 2010 1:08 am
Edited on: March 26, 2010 10:06 am

The only losers from KSU - Xavier game: IU fans

Thomas Beisner

It took two overtimes, just under 750 lead changes and more shots than 50 Cent, but, when the final buzzer sounded, Kansas State held the lead and earned the right to play Horizon League power Butler on Saturday for a trip to the Final Four.  What took place in the late game in Salt Lake City turned out to be one of the most exciting games in tournament history and had people from coast-to-coast rooting for it to keep going.

Except Indiana basketball fans.

Assuming they can remember what the post-season is, Hoosier fans were already suffering enough after watching in-staters Butler advance with an upset victory over top-seeded Syracuse when former Hoosier Jordan Crawford and former Hoosier commit Terrell Holloway put on a clutch scoring display not seen in Bloomington since Jared Fogle was running an on-campus business.  The duo combined for 58 points for the Musketeers,  coming up when their team needed them most by putting up 26 of their team's final 27 points.

Holloway, who signed a letter of intent with IU before getting released after Kelvin Sampson was forcefully removed, made the most highlight-worthy play of the night when he pulled for a three with six seconds remaining in regulation, knowing Kansas State was going to foul while up three points.  Holloway drew the foul and then stepped to the line, knocking down all three and sending the game to overtime.  Then, in the extra period, Holloway got all cold-blooded again, hitting a three to cut the lead to 78-77, a layup to put his team within one again at 80-79 and then hitting another triple to tie the game at 84 with 50 seconds left.  And that's when Crawford stepped in.

The sophomore from Detroit, who averaged just under 10 ppg for the Hoosiers in Sampson's final year, nailed a three from about eight feet behind the line with seven seconds left, forcing the second overtime.  In the second extra period, Crawford scored six points right out of the gate to put the Musketeers ahead before Jacob Pullen hit a pair of back-to-back threes and putting the Wildcats ahead for good.

Pullen's outburst was a part of a vicious three-headed attack along with Denis Clemente and Curtis Kelly, who combined for 74 of their team's 101 points.  The effort of the Wildcat trio was just as powerful, but not quite as sensationally clutch as their counterparts from Cincinnati.  And that's all we care about here.  Sexiness.

In the end, the two teams combined for one of the most exciting, competitive games in recent tournament history.  If you tuned in, you were treated to an incredible game.

Unless, of course, you're a Hoosier.  This time of the year is never kind.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
Posted on: March 25, 2010 9:33 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2010 9:39 pm

Butler upsets Syracuse: Cliffs Notes

Thomas Beisner

You idiot. It’s bad enough that you didn’t get your wife to sign off on finally getting that DVR before the tournament started, but it’s completely inexcusable that you decided that tonight was the night you went to see The Last Song with her. But, despite your poor judgment, your friends at “One Blogging Moment” are here to give you a couple of talking points for the office tomorrow. You’re still in the doghouse with us, though.

Here you go:

90% Heart, 10% Skill: There’s no denying that Syracuse probably isn’t sporting their most talented roster ever. But, they still had an advantage over a Butler team comprised of overlooked recruits (Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward) and guys whose athleticism makes Luke Harangody look like Dominique Wilkins (Matt Howard). What the Bulldogs didn’t have in height and strength, they made up for in heart and hustle. And YMCA moves in the post. Seriously, if you’re reading this Matt Howard, I want you on my church league team after you finish your eligibility next year.  We can't offer you much in terms of glory, but we'll play your pace and respect your post game.  Plus, we all wear t-shirts under our jersey's too (mostly to avoid showing side boob though).  You're a perfect fit for us.

Willie Veasley is headed to arbitration:
With Butler clinging to a one-point lead with just under two minutes remaining, the senior guard came in and shut it down like Mariano Rivera, knocking down a deep three and rising up for a tip sure to be shown all over TV the next three days. The five point burst from Veasley gave Butler a six-point lead with less than a minute to go and basically finished the Orange. We’ll pretend like he didn’t miss those two free throws, though. That’s how we treat all the great closers.

Lady Luck is a Bulldog: If you’re a Butler fan, you knew the Bulldogs had this locked up when the three from Ronald Nored rimmed out and then kissed high off the glass and fell through. If you’re a Syracuse fan, you started kicking your dog.

Win one for the Brad Stevens: Though this is not confirmed, I heard from a very reliable source that Butler star Gordon Hayward pulled his team together before the game and asked them to put their personal desires aside and win this one for coach Brad Stevens, who is trying to become the first coach to reach the Final Four before puberty. Hayward said this might be his final shot before nature comes calling and inspired his team to compete on another level.

Stop pinching yourself, Butler fans. You’ve got a very good team (who we won’t even call mid-major or Cinderella) and they’re just one-win away from coming back home for the Final Four. Celebrate lightly tonight. You’ve got a date with destiny on Saturday.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
Posted on: March 25, 2010 2:59 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2010 3:49 pm

Syracuse vs. Butler - Five Random Thoughts

Before they tipoff tonight at approximately 7:07 pm, I'd like to share with you my five random thoughts on the Syracuse-Butler game:

Watch the tempo of the game.  Butler will try to slow it down, Syracuse will want to run a fast paced game.  Butler gives up just under 60 points per game while Syracuse likes to score in the 80s.  Whoever controls the tempo will likely win the game.

Wesley Johnson vs. Gordon Hayward.  In order for their teams to win, these guys will need to have a big game.  If Wesley Johnson puts on a show, Syracuse will most likely win no matter how Hayward plays.  But if Johnson can't get it going, and Hayward has a strong performance, look out for an upset.

Arinze Onuaku is out again.  The status of Onuaku's injury is no longer a question of how long he will be out, but if he'll ever return.  Coming into the tournament, the report was that we might see him in the first weekend.  Now, Onuaku is out for the Sweet 16 game and no real timetable has been set for his return.  The reserves have played well filling in for the senior center, but if Syracuse is going to win it all, I don't see them doing it without the big man.

Leo Rautins will be on TV.  Nothing has changed.  He will get more camera time than Juli Boeheim.

Eric Devendorf isn't walking through that door.  It may just be me, but every time I watch a Syracuse game, I expect to see Eric Devendorf hitting a three and taunting an opponent.  I still haven't accepted the fact that he's gone.  Watching a Syracuse game without Devendorf is like watching E.R. after George Clooney left.  The show is still the same, but the face is gone.

That's all.  Enjoy the game.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Butler, Syracuse, West
Posted on: March 24, 2010 4:21 pm

How the West Can be Won (and Lost)


A rundown of what each team in the West Region needs to do to make the Final Four and what could send them packing in the first game:



Final Four:  Play like the team we saw in the first two rounds.  Syracuse has the ability to dominate teams when they hit their outside shot and their zone causes teams to go on early cold streaks.  What is important for the Orange is that they find a way to jump on teams early, causing them to rush and their defense to become more frustrating.  Plus when Wesley Johnson plays within himself, there are only two or three players in the Tournament that are in his class.  Use the superior talent to beat Butler and then get ready for a contrast of styles versus Kansas State, in which Johnson wins it for the Orange as the best player on the floor.

Lose Next Game:  Play like the opponent is Louisville.  Syracuse gets itself in trouble when the opponent comes out and hits threes early and controls the pace.  Butler has the ability to do just that and if their guards are able to force the tempo, Syracuse can find itself playing out of rhythm.  Plus if the Butler defense focuses in on Wesley Johnson (which would seem to be obvious), and Johnson finds himself cold, the West coast crowd senses the upset and pulls Butler to a shocking victory.


Final Four:  George Mason making the Final Four was a Cinderella fluke story which may never be repeated.  But Butler has the first chance to be a legitimate mid-major to make the Final Four since Jacksonville and Penn did it in 1979.  This is the best Butler team in years and their guard play and outside shooting makes them a formidable opponent for anyone.  With Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack knocking down outside shots, they can beat anyone on a given day.  33 year old Coach Brad Stephens has his team playing as well as anyone in the tournament and if they get hot, perplex the Syracuse zone and find openings against Kansas State, they could be headed for a HOME game at the Final Four.

Lose Next Game:  Butler has not seen any team all year with the length and athleticism of Syracuse.  If the Bulldogs don’t come out early and make shots, they could easily get frustrated and find themselves with difficulty to score against the tremendous defense of the Orange.  This is a game in which the first ten minutes will tell you all you need to know.


Final Four:  The success of Xavier, like Butler, is not a surprise to anyone who follows college basketball.  But the oddity of this year gives the X-men a chance to make a legitimate Final Four run for the second time in the last three years.  Jordan Crawford does everything on the offensive end and if he is able to reproduce his first two NCAA Tournament game performances, Xavier can hang with Kansas State.  Down the stretch, Crawford could be the best scorer on the floor and the Musketeers can move on.  If Butler squeaks past the ‘Cuse, you have the battle of the two best mid-majors of the last decade, with a  spot in the Final Four on the line.  Xavier has more overall talent and athleticism, and they win, sending the city of Cincinnati in a mad rush to Indy.

Lose Next Game:  Its probable.  While Xavier has played well and overcame its demon from last year in beating Pittsburgh, Kansas State is better at 4 of the 5 positions on the floor and can simply dominate with its guard play.  Xavier hangs around early and gives a scare, but Kansas State is too much in the end, sending Xavier home with a solid Sweet 16 run.


Final Four:  In my mind, no team has had more surprising success this year than Kansas State.  Coach Frank Martin is clearly crazy, but almost everyone assumed that when Michael Beasley departed, so would our need to follow the basketball happenings in Manhattan, Kansas.  But Martin has his team fired up and his intensity is contagious.  No team is playing better and Kansas State keeps rolling past a game, but ultimately lesser, Xavier team.  Jacob Pullen continues his uber-hot play in the next game against Syracuse and Martin’s gang win a flat-out war to make it to the Final Four and produce bragging rights for a long time over the Jayhawks.

Lose Next Game:  Martin’s group isn’t ready for the big stage and come out flat against Xavier. Crawford goes off for 30 points, leaving Martin’s head to spontaneously combust on the sideline.  With no direction or leadership, Kansas State loses by 8 and the Jayhawk fans taunt all the way from Lawrence.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
Posted on: March 23, 2010 10:31 pm
Edited on: March 23, 2010 10:33 pm

The most important stat in the West

Thomas Beisner

Frank Martin’s Kansas State Wildcat team is a lot of things. Math majors is not one of those things (they’re all social sciences majors). But, if they want to be the last team standing when the West regional ends and advance to the school’s first Final Four since 1964, it might be as simple as a mathematical statistic.

As a sophomore last season, Wildcat guard Jacob Pullen struggled with his jumper throughout the entire year and finished with a shooting percentage (38% from the field) uglier than Jesse James’ mistress. As the Wildcats suffered through an inconsistent NIT season, 1-13 and 2-14 nights become more frequent than anyone in Manhattan would have liked. It seemed almost as if the Wildcats came and went with Jacob Pullen’s jump shot.

And that is what brings us to this - the single most important stat in the West. Kansas State is only going to go as far as Jacob Pullen’s three-point shot takes them.

Though Pullen’s accuracy hasn’t improved to a Steve Nash-like level yet (it’s 42% now), he’s shown better shot selection and an improved touch from downtown. With the improvement of Pullen’s jumper and the Wildcats’ record, the correlation between the two becomes even more pronounced.

In Kansas State’s 28 wins this season, Jacob Pullen has knocked down 52% from downtown. In their seven losses? Try 24%. But, it’s not even as simple as just the percentages. In those losses, Pullen is attempting nearly 10 threes per game compared to only 6 per game in the wins. And, if you dig deeper, Pullen is not only attempting five more field goal attempts per game in the losses, he’s also doing so purely from the three-point line. This, of course, does a number of things - all of them negative - the Wildcats. It makes Pullen easier to guard and takes away from his ability to create quality looks for his teammates.

In Salt Lake City this week against Xavier and, most likely, Syracuse, the Wildcats are going to need Pullen to continue the efficient and intelligent point guard play he’s shown so far this tournament. He hasn’t been forcing his deep ball and, especially against BYU when he knocked down seven treys, he is making most of the open opportunities he’s getting. Frank Martin can only hope this continues because, as Jacob Pullen’s shot goes, so do the Kansas State Wildcats.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: West
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com