Posted on: December 1, 2011 8:37 am
Edited on: December 1, 2011 8:48 am

Wakeup Call: Wow. December already.

By Matt Norlander

I'd vote for this kid as our next president. // I know it's early, but here's some shots of Christmas celebrations from around the world. // The art of science is so pretty to look at. // After reading this, I'll pretty much never be friending anyone I don't know on Facebook again. // This is incredibly heart-warming and inspiring ...

★ Lost amid all the Bernie Fine/Jim Boeheim talk -- Fab Melo may get to wipe the incident from Memorial Day off his record.

★ Did you catch the very scary moment for the Michigan State cheerleader last night?

★ If it's possible, I really liked Forde's column from Tuesday night -- and Sean Keeley's take even more.

★ An SB Nation column about how we shouldn't be making this all about Boeheim. But the rub is: Boeheim made it about Boeheim with his initial comments. And I don't think the media's gone full-on after Boeheim; Fine's been plenty targeted, too.

★ A compelling case from the editor of the Post-Standard on why the paper didn't hand over its recording of the Bobby Davis-Laurie Fine tape. But I remain staunchly against any act/inaction that potentially endangers children with child molesters for the sake of journalistic integrity and propriety.

★ So Alex Oriakhi's dad has challenged some bloggers to a fight after UConn's next home game.

★ Told you Monday night Scott Machado is one of the best point guards in the country. The latest data is backing that up big-time.

★ It's quite definite right now that the WCC is the best mid-major league. I want to wait another 10 days or so and see what the top of the league is doing/has done. There's potential for the league to flirt with fifth-best-in-basketball status.

★ Marshall Plumlee -- who you'll say, 'Seems like he's been at Duke for 10 years -- when he's still on the team in 2016, will redshirt this season.

This kind of thing will become more and more popular to tweet out, methinks.

Neat photo from last night's UNC-Wisconsin game.

★ More on how Creighton came back and beat San Diego State. That's just a terrific win, guys and girls.

★ Parrish says UNC needed that win heading into the Kentucky game. I suppose yes. Still think UNC loses decidedly at UK.

► Warning: a couple curses in this video, but this is just too awesome that I can't not post it. "It's done. That cake is DONE." And this is brand new -- it has an anti-Jerry Sandusky line and tributes Patrice O'Neal at the end.

♬ If you can't get down with Herbie Hancock, you can't get down with me. Beat comes in at the one-minute mark. Love the climbing bassline and how he makes a song sound like a rainforest.

Posted on: November 30, 2011 11:44 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 11:47 pm

UNC edges Wisconsin, sets stage for trip to UK

By Gary Parrish

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- It wasn't pretty or sharp or even fast.

But it was a win.

And North Carolina needed a win.

So who cares that the Tar Heels looked sloppy and turned the ball over five more times than they recorded an assist? And who cares that the Tar Heels didn't look like a team worthy of all those preseason No. 1 votes they received last month? All that matters is that they escaped the ACC-Big Ten Challenge with a 60-57 victory over ninth-ranked Wisconsin here at the Dean Smith Center late Wednesday, which means UNC won't be at risk of a three-game losing streak as it enters Saturday's showdown at top-ranked Kentucky.

That's what last weekend's loss to UNLV did.

It put UNC in a position where one surprising defeat could easily turn into a three-game losing streak.

But that's now off the table.

It took 20 points from Harrison Barnes to get it off the table, but it's off the table. So now Roy Williams and all his pros will fly to Lexington to play John Calipari and all his pros, and it really should be terrific. No, it won't be the No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle of undefeated teams we thought we'd get when the game was announced this past offseason. Again, UNLV messed that up last weekend. But it'll still be a game featuring two of college basketball's great programs and who knows how many future lottery picks. And nobody will enter on a three-game losing streak.

At times on Wednesday, it looked like UNC might.

But that's now off the table.

So now the table for Saturday is set.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 30, 2011 10:04 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 10:16 pm

FSU's reluctance to go inside is troubling

By Jeff Borzello

Florida State has the size and half-court defense to be a factor against any opponent in March.

If the Seminoles don’t improve their point guard play and decision-making offensively, though, those two strengths might not matter. Their glaring weaknesses were highlighted throughout Wednesday’s 65-49 loss to Michigan State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Florida State opened the game by going inside on a consistent basis. Not surprisingly, it worked. Bernard James was getting points inside; Xavier Gibson made plays; Okaro White and Michael Snaer were attacking the basket; and Jeff Peterson was getting into the lane.

Simply put, the Seminoles were having a field day in the lane. Michigan State couldn’t keep them off the glass and were having a ton of trouble guarding drives to the rim and post offense. If not for outstanding play from Spartans guard Brandon Wood, Florida State would have opened up an early lead.

For some reason, the Seminoles just stopped going to the rim – and subsequently went into a six-minute drought. They had six turnovers and three missed jumpers. No one was attacking the rim, and no one was getting the ball on the low block.

The same thing happened during a five-minute drought in the second half. After the Seminoles closed Michigan State’s lead to two, the inside game disappeared again. Florida State took three consecutive 3-pointers and only went to the rim on two occasions.

Everyone knows Florida State isn’t a very good outside shooting team – the Seminoles need to realize their strength is on the inside and then take advantage of it. They had a size and toughness edge on Michigan State, but only used it sporadically.

Moreover, while some of the credit has to go to the Spartans, it’s not like they were forcing Florida State to shoot jumpers. The Seminoles were just settling for perimeter shots instead of working their offense and looking to get attempts inside the paint.

Jeff Peterson and Luke Loucks played well in spurts, but they need to run sets and get the ball to James, Gibson and White around the rim. They need to attack the rim and create open attempts off dump-off passes.

The poor offensive efficiency was not specific to Wednesday's game, either. Against Connecticut, Florida State had 31 points in the paint but also took 19 3-pointers. In the loss to Harvard, the Seminoles had five assists and 16 turnovers.

Part of the problem is not having Ian Miller. The sophomore has the type of talent and quickness to force defenses to collapse on him in the lane and then dish it for easy baskets. He is expected to return in December after the first semester ends. Of course, he turned the ball over far too often last season and didn’t have the type of impact everyone expected. He’ll need to step it up once he becomes eligible.

Look, Florida State is going to make the NCAA tournament because of its defense. The Seminoles are just too tough at the end of the floor.

But if they want to reach the Sweet 16 like they did last year, they need to find a way to replicate what Derwin Kitchen did for them.

Based on tonight, it looks like Leonard Hamilton might actually miss Kitchen more than first-round pick Chris Singleton.

Photo: US Presswire 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 30, 2011 2:38 pm

Podcast: Does/should Boeheim keep his job?

By Matt Norlander

The Syracuse/Bernie Fine/Jim Boeheim story is the biggest story in college basketball right now; just how it is. There are a lot of nuanced elements to it -- then there is what people are naturally gravitating toward: Should Jim Boeheim keep his job?

A fair question. It deserves a conversation on our podcast, so Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman discuss it with me today. We do talk plenty of basketball as well, though, so if the Syracuse topic is starting to become white noise to you, feel free to just skip ahead to the Duke bashing! (Kidding -- but we do talk Duke, Ohio State and more.)

The rundown:
  • From the beginning: Syracuse, Boeheim, Fine, job security, ESPN's responsibility.
  • 13:20: Parrish was at Duke-Ohio State. Takeaways from him on the game, from Goodman on what Duke is lacking.
  • 19:08: Looking ahead to Wisconsin-North Carolina. "They are not going to win tonight," Goodman says. Parrish wholeheartedly agrees.
  • 21:23: How good is the Big Ten, because that 2-7 race is probably going to be riveting. (Hey, I mean it!)
  • 23:12: Xavier is just plain nice.
  • 26:21: How brilliant was Roy Williams to change the conversation after his team lost to UNLV? He made it about the fans.
  • 29:35: Our typical babbling BS to wrap it up. Always the the fun part.

You can listen to the CBSSports.com College Basketball Podcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The podcasts go up here and on iTunes. The Wednesday show is dedicated to keeping the egos of CBSSports.com national writers Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish inflated. Mondays and Fridays are for the real people to come on. Here's the iTunes link. We also have an RSS feed for you to track. If you're still going strong and hanging on to a Zune, then, yes, you can listen on that as well.

Posted on: November 30, 2011 11:51 am
Edited on: November 30, 2011 11:57 am

Duke has deficiencies, but don't write K off yet

By Jeff Goodman

Let's not bury Duke just yet.

Obviously, the Blue Devils looked rather ordinary last night in the 22-point shellacking against Ohio State in Columbus -- and "ordinary" is being awfully kind to Coach K and his team.

This is a Duke outfit that certainly has its deficiencies.

Austin Rivers is truly the only guy on the team that can create for himself and his teammates. There's not a front-line true point guard -- or a big wing - on the roster. Defensively, the perimeter group of Rivers, Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins leaves plenty to be desired. There's not much depth. Coach Mike Krzyzewski basically goes seven deep - Rivers, Curry, Dawkins and Tyler Thornton on the perimeter with Ryan Kelly and the Plumlee's -- Mason and Miles - up front.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

While Kansas and Michigan State aren't exactly what they have been in the past, the Blue Devils still took care of both - on neutral courts. Duke dispatched Kansas in Maui and beat Michigan State in Madison Square Garden.

Is Duke an elite team?


But they can still make a Final Four run, depending on health and matchups.

Rivers showed he is the most talented - and fearless player - on the team. He's capable of getting to the basket virtually whenever he wants. You won't find two more lethal perimeter shooters in the country than the duo of Dawkins and Curry. Mason Plumlee has made significant progress and is nearly averaging a double-double (12 ppg, 9.8 rpg) thus far.

Last I checked Duke has a decent coach as well. 

The missing piece that would solve many of Duke's issues? A long, talented scoring wing who can put it on the floor some and also defend. Coach K almost got that guy a couple years ago. Now he resides down the road in Chapel Hill and goes by the name of Harrison Barnes.

Duke is still 7-1 following the pasting in Columbus in which all their weaknesses were exposed and everything went right for Thad Matta's team.

The Blue Devils defense was brutal, Jared Sullinger had his way with the Plumlee Boys and Aaron Craft made mince-meat out of the Blue Devils in every manner possible. Deshaun Thomas, a streaky shooter, was making his shots and Duke had no answer for underrated senior William Buford.

It was an embarrassing display for the Dukies. But it was just one game.

Posted on: November 29, 2011 11:35 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 12:36 am

Ohio State dominates Duke from start to finish

By Gary Parrish

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- One school entered ranked second in the Associated Press poll, the other was ranked third. So on paper not much separated Ohio State from Duke. But on the court -- at least on this Tuesday night -- the two storied programs couldn't have been farther apart.

Final score: No. 2 Ohio State 85, No. 3 Duke 63.

Yep, it was a beatdown from start to finish here at Value City Arena.

Ohio State opened on an 11-0 run, led 47-28 at the half, by as many as 25 in the second half and cruised to a lopsided victory that legitimized it as a true national contender before a star-studded crowd featuring former Buckeyes (Michael Redd, Evan Turner, Greg Oden, Mike Conley, etc.), a current NBA coach (Doc Rivers) and two NBA stars (LeBron James and Dwyane Wade). The Buckeyes are now 7-0 with five 30-point wins -- plus victories over No. 3 Duke and No. 10 Florida. They haven't done anything on the road yet, obviously; they'll get that opportunity on Dec. 10 at No. 15 Kansas. But what Ohio State showed against the winningest men's coach in Division I history -- and his team that just won the Maui Invitational -- is that it has rock-solid point guard who understands and appreciates both ends of the court, a pro wing and college basketball's best big man, and those things combined to overwhelm Duke.

The point guard (Aaron Craft) finished with 17 points and eight assists.

The wing (William Buford) finished with 20 points and four assists.

The big man (Jared Sullinger) got 21 points and eight rebounds.

The Blue Devils?

They got 22 points from freshman star Austin Rivers.

That was a bright spot.

But mostly, Duke just got slaughtered -- from the opening tip to the final horn.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 29, 2011 11:58 am
Edited on: November 29, 2011 12:00 pm

Finally, 12 vs. 12: ACC/Big Ten Challenge Preview

Jeff Borzello

Prior to two years ago, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge had lost much of its luster.

After all, the Atlantic Coast Conference had won the competition the first 10 years it was held, rolling through the Big Ten every season. However, the Big Ten turned the tables the past two years, winning the Challenge. With each conference finally getting 12 teams, every team will be involved in the Challenge. Now, there can’t be any complaints about which teams aren’t playing and how it gives the other league an advantage.

This season, there is plenty of attention focused on the challenge. There are two matchups between top-10 teams, along with several other interesting tilts. Can the Big Ten keep its streak rolling, or will the ACC get back on top? Let’s go game-by-game and make a pick.


No. 14 Michigan at Virginia: Don’t expect an up-and-down contest here. Both teams prefer to slow the game down and play in the half-court. Michigan will be a Big Ten contender this season, while Virginia has the ability to be a sleeper in the ACC. PICK: MICHIGAN

Northwestern at Georgia Tech: Northwestern is currently undefeated, with only one of the wins coming by more than seven points. The battle to watch on the perimeter could be Drew Crawford vs. Glen Rice Jr. I think Northwestern’s John Shurna will be the difference. PICK: NORTHWESTERN

Illinois at Maryland: Both teams still seem to be looking for the right combination, athough Illinois has rolled to a 6-0 record behind an 11-man rotation. Maryland has struggled, with two 20-plus-point losses to Iona and Alabama. High-scoring guard Terrell Stoglin has been a highlight, though. PICK: ILLINOIS

Miami (Fl.) at Purdue: I have a feeling these two will look drastically different come March. Purdue is still feeling itself out, while Miami is just trying to survive with only seven guys in the rotation. In the end, Robbie Hummel will make the big shots and Purdue’s defense will be too much for the ‘Canes. PICK: PURDUE

Clemson at Iowa: Probably not the most attractive matchup of the day, but each team has had some bright spots. Guard Matt Gatens has been good for Iowa, but he will need help against Clemson. The Hawkeyes have already lost to Campbell by 16. Clemson dropped games to Charleston and Coastal Carolina, but things figure to get better. PICK: CLEMSON

No. 3 Duke at No. 2 Ohio State: The marquee matchup of the Challenge. Duke is coming off a Maui championship, while Ohio State has already defeated top 10 Florida. It’s going to be fun to watch Aaron Craft defend Austin Rivers, but does Duke have anyone to match-up with Jared Sullinger down low? PICK: OHIO STATE


Indiana at North Carolina State: A couple of programs looking to get back on the right track – and each team is doing a decent job of it this year. Indiana is 6-0, behind the stellar play of freshman Cody Zeller. When NC State has all its pieces working together, it’s a solid opponent. PICK: NORTH CAROLINA STATE

Penn State at Boston College: Um, not the best game of the Challenge? Penn State has a good record at 5-2, but they’ve been blown out by Saint Joseph’s and embarrassed by Kentucky. On the other side, Boston College looks like one of the worst BCS-conference teams in the country. Could be a long year for both. PICK: PENN STATE

Florida State at Michigan State: Should be a battle between two physical, defensive-minded outfits. Florida State is looking to bounce back from two losses in the Bahamas, while Michigan State is still figuring itself out. Draymond Green going against FSU’s deep frontline should be fun. PICK: FLORIDA STATE

Virginia Tech at Minnesota: This game lost a little bit of its excitement when Minnesota forward Trevor Mbakwe, one of the best forwards in the country, tore his ACL on Sunday. He will miss the season. It remains to be seen who will pick up the slack. Va. Tech counters with the backcourt of Erick Green and Dorenzo Hudson. PICK: VIRGINIA TECH

Wake Forest at Nebraska: This could be an interesting test for Nebraska. Wake Forest is not very good, but the Cornhuskers have been up-and-down defensively so far. A few underrated scorers will look to make their mark in Nebraska’s Bo Spencer and Wake Forest’s Travis McKie and C.J. Harris. PICK: NEBRASKA

Wisconsin at North Carolina: Another marquee matchup. One of the best head-to-head battles all season will take place, as UNC’s Kendall Marshall takes on Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor at the point guard position. They are two of the three or four best point guards in the country. The question will revolve around Wisconsin’s frontcourt; can it contain UNC’s great frontline? PICK: NORTH CAROLINA


Photos: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 27, 2011 1:21 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 1:47 am

UNLV beats No. 1 UNC; upset of the year to date

By Matt Norlander

With his former coach, Jerry Tarkanian, and the kid he wants to coach, undecided No. 1 2012 prospect Shabazz Muhammad, sitting courtside, first-year UNLV coach Dave Rice led his team to one of the biggest upsets he’ll ever have in his coaching career.

Even if it’s only November, any time you knock off North Carolina and they’ve got a 1 next to their name, it’s a big deal. You know what, the latter need not apply. And Rice may never nip a top-seeded team off again — or he could wind up collecting another half-dozen by the time he retires, decades down the road. The point is, it’s the best possible start to his time in Vegas he could’ve asked for.

And it’s quite a storyline for us, the college basketball-fanatic public, to take in. The Runnin’ Rebels gave the sport its biggest upset of the season so far, decisively taking out the Tar Heels 90-80 Saturday night at the Orleans Arena in the finals of the Las Vegas Invitational. This wasn’t a skin-of-the-teeth W. This was a bombs-away affair that Vegas had in the bag with five minutes to go.

(So much for this prediction, huh?)

“We were definitely confident that we could win the game,” UNLV sophomore forward Mike Moser said by phone late Saturday night as he boarded the team bus on the way back to campus. “We were surprised we controlled the game like we did. Other than that, our mentality is to attack, attack — on defense and offense.”

It’s not like North Carolina to play the way it did Saturday night, with a lack of attack. Was it what UNLV did, or what did UNC not do that surprised him most?

“Nothing, really,” Rice said by phone after the game. “I was just proud of the resolve our players showed. We have become a very good second-half team. One of the strength of our team is our depth. We have unbelievable confidence with the five guys who start and four guys who come off our bench.”

UNC’s probably just as good as we expect them to be. This was a bad night for them. But UNLV? Could be a lot better than we expected — and plenty expected this team to be NCAA tournament-worthy. The victory Chace Stanback, Moser, Oscar Bellfield and others got for their team, their program, their city tonight — it’s season-making. It doesn’t get much more motivating or valuable than to beat the top-ranked team in the country on your soil. (It wasn’t a true home game, but it might as well have been.)

Stanback led the team with 28 points, Moser hit some huge 3s throughout the game, but Rice said Bellfield was the guy in those critical spots who came up large tonight. And his confidence and presence in the timeout huddles was the continual shot of adrenaline that kept the team on a whir.

“Oscar Bellfield is a tremendous leader,” Rice said. “He’s the guy, along with Anthony Marshall that makes us go. To start the game, the 3-point shots Oscar hit made us a confident team.”

Vegas shot 13-of-32 from 3 and 15-of-18 from the foul line to help keep distance from Roy Williams’ team in the second half. Thirteen offensive boards and 22 assists also helped; amazingly, UNC only committed nine turnovers, yet wasn’t even sniffing a comeback in the second half. The 14-0 run that UNLV started the second half with was clearly the key — UNC couldn’t return the shots, both metaphorically and realistically.

“We try to coach, try to play based on what the defense gives us,” Rice said. “North Carolina is such a good defensive team, they really took away our inside game.”

UNC became the second elite team to lose to an unranked opponent in the past 30 hours. UConn fell to Central Florida Saturday.

Moser said he was 100 percent confident his team was winning with a minute to go, when Chace Stanback was on the line. Not a second before that, though.

“The ultimate confidence in that guy at the end of the game,” Moser said of his teammate.

As for those 3 balls that kept getting tossed into the Vegas air, Moser said that wasn’t in the team’s game plan to start.

“Honestly, the 3s really just came naturally,” he said. “They (UNC) were in the paint so much.”

Ben Howland’s month just got worse, too. The UCLA coach, who doesn’t have a win over a D-I team yet, watched as Moser and Stanback, two guys deemed not good enough for the Bruins, just plotted their team to the front page of every major sports website tonight and into Sunday morning.

“I am really, really happy for our staff,” Rice said. “We’ve got really good assistant who left other opportunities to come to this program. We had 11 scholarship players returning, and they all stayed. When so many guys transfer, I’m so happy for them to get this kind of win after committing themselves to this staff and our program.”

Carolina will get its chances (starting Wednesday against an incredibly tough Wisconsin team, then at Kentucky Saturday) to prove itself over and over. UNLV doesn't have to. It has to keep winning, but it doesn't have to do better than it did tonight. Its season was made thanks to an aggressive game plan and a fearless group that took advantage of a top-ranked team that looked uninspired and irresolute throughout the second half.

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