Tag:Big 12
Posted on: February 23, 2012 2:59 pm
 

Royce rolls comfortably into new role

Royce White quit basketball in 2009. Now he has Iowa State on the verge of an NCAA tournament appearance. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Royce White was ready to give it all up.

It was the fall of 2009, and White had yet to play a game for Minnesota. The highly-touted freshman was battling multiple legal affairs, including misdemeanor shoplifting charges and fifth-degree assault. Moreover, he was being investigated regarding the theft of a laptop.

Things were spiraling out of control off the court, and White felt he no longer needed the pressure of basketball.

So he announced, via YouTube, that he was quitting the sport. And taking control of his life.

“That was more of an address to the fans and people who cared and wanted an explanation,” White said this week. “There was a lot of uncertainty about the situation, and a lot of people were questioning why I’m not on the court. It gave people something from my mouth that couldn’t be distorted by the media.” 

And White meant it too. He stopped playing basketball, instead focusing on things outside of sports. White became a writer, penning everything from music and songs to business plans and marketing schemes. Instead of seeing a future in basketball, he began to think about long-term goals in business.

But, as much as he tried, White couldn’t get away from basketball. He saw the other guys from the class of 2009 dominating in college: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Jordan Hamilton, Derrick Favors, etc. Watching them succeed at the next level ignited a fire in him. Not a jealous type of fire, but a competitive one.

White knew he could hang with those guys on the court.

“Competitiveness is instilled in you,” he said. “Seeing them being so successful pushed me to be successful. I had a burning to get back to the court. I almost wanted to prove something to myself.”

There were several schools in the running for White, but he wanted to stay close to home and go to a place that was an underdog on the national scene. After leaving the sport, many people wrote him off – and so he felt he was something of an underdog too.

White leads Iowa State in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks. (US Presswire)

Iowa State, with new head coach Fred Hoiberg arriving on campus, was the perfect match for White’s rejuvenation. Hoiberg was stockpiling talented transfers, with White as the headliner. Reports out of Ames in the offseason described White being a dominant performer – but questions still remained about the Cyclones.

Could all these attitudes and egos mesh together so quickly? Will all of the transfers remain focused? Has Royce White figured it out yet?

“Personally, I took offense to that,” he said. “People who were saying it were part of the industry, who I already had a vendetta against. I was looking for something to take offense to; it helped me stay hungry. I embraced the idea of team and family. I had the most publicized problems, the most noted issues. They got grouped together with that. They didn’t deserve the scrutiny.”

White’s motivation wasn’t the only thing that changed since he originally gave up basketball. His mentality was completely different, his skillset was completely different, everything was different.

He no longer felt the need to prove he was the best player on the court at all times, no longer felt the need to dominate or score the most points.

“I was a better player than when I left,” White said. “My mentality about the game; I was playing for fun. It was about achieving success on a team level. My success couldn’t come without the success of the team. My thoughts about the game changed. Continuity, flow, getting people involved; those were the things I tried to embrace.”

After figuring himself out, figuring out the Big 12 was easy.

White has had an enormous impact on the Cyclones, leading the team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks – the only player in Division-I to achieve that milestone. The 6-foot-8 sophomore has a unique skill set, even at 270 pounds. As the team’s best playmaker, he is basically a point-forward when it comes to facilitating offense and creating open looks for teammates.

White also has Iowa State on the precipice of the NCAA tournament, as the Cyclones sit tied for third in the Big 12 at 10-5. It would be the program’s first NCAA tournament since 2005.

One might think that getting revenge on the game and proving everyone wrong might excite White. But he’s not even thinking about that.

“It doesn’t feel as good as I thought it would, to be honest,” White said. “Basketball has become a piece of my life, but not all of my life. There’s so much more now, wanting to help people on a very high level. My team’s success, for this community, is the fulfilling part of it. It took the place of my own vendetta.”

What would be the perfect ending?

“This community being happy with what we achieved,” White said. “I know that winning an NCAA championship is my goal, winning a Big 12 tournament championship is my goal. But more important, this community being happy with this season and what we’ve done.”

The next time White talks about giving up the sport of basketball, don’t feel bad for him.

His future is in good hands. His own. 

Posted on: February 21, 2012 12:35 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 1:07 pm
 

Slip into the poll booth once again

By Matt Norlander

We're back again with our weekly Tuesday poll and we want you to click through and let us know who you're picking for this week's marquee games. All of these games will be discussed on CBS Sports Network programming this week, airing on Wednesday night's edition of "Courtside with Seth Davis" at 7 p.m. ET, then against on Inside College Basketball (Wednesday night/Thursday morning at midnight)

Want more of us? Or more interaction with hoops fans? We suggest you like the Eye On College Basketball Facebook page. And if that's not enough, CBSSports.com has your roundball fix tended to thanks to our daily newsletter.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:51 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 11:54 pm
 

Night Court: Napier saves UConn's season

By Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Monday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: Shabazz Napier saved Connecticut’s season. After it looked like the sophomore guard wouldn’t play at all, Napier contributed key minutes and then hit a pull-up 30-footer with 0.8 seconds left in overtime to give the Huskies a 73-70 win at Villanova. Connecticut got behind by 18 points in the first half, but fought back to tie it at halftime. Jeremy Lamb went for 32 points, constantly bailing out the Huskies down the stretch. If Connecticut makes the NCAA tournament, it might look at Napier’s shot as the one that put them there.

Win to brag about: Mississippi Valley State clinched the SWAC regular-season championship in the best way possible – on a 3-pointer with under a second left by 6-foot-8 big Paul Crosby. The shot gave the Delta Devils a 56-53 win over Texas Southern, and also improved them to 15-0 in conference play. Remember, this is a team that was 1-11 in the non-league. Quite the turnaround for Sean Woods’ club.

Loss to hide from: Texas needed this one. The Longhorns, coming off a loss to Oklahoma State over the weekend, had a chance to solidify their resume with a home win over a reeling Baylor club. After getting off to a double-digit lead, they let the Bears come back on the glass – and on the scoreboard. Baylor pulled it out late, 77-72, after J’Covan Brown turned it over in the final minute. Texas’ NCAA hopes are now in trouble, while Baylor is back on the right track. Quincy Acy had 22 points and 16 rebounds for the Bears.

Player who deserves improper benefits: North Florida’s Parker Smith is gunning lately. He’s knocked down at least five 3-pointers in four of his last six games – but nothing topped his performance on Monday. The Ospreys’ guard went 11-for-17 from behind the arc – and also knocked down 9-for-9 from the free-throw line – en route to 46 points in a 75-66 win over Mercer. The loss for the Bears is their second in a row, dropping them two games behind first-place Belmont.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: There weren't too many disappointing performances tonight, although a couple caught my eye. DePaul's Jamee Crocket had taken 82 3-pointers the entire season heading into Monday night; that's slightly over three attempts per game. For some reason, he took 11 shots from behind the arc against St. John's, only making one in the loss. Meanwhile, even though Baylor won, Perry Jones struggled once again. He shot 3-for-11 from the field -- he still needs to step up in big games.

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 0: The number of Atlantic Sun wins Kennesaw State has this season, after falling just short, 73-71.
  • 0: The number of MEAC wins South Carolina State has this season, after the Bulldogs lost by one to Florida A&M.
  • 5: Delaware State has now had five games in a row decided by either one possession or in overtime. The Hornets won Monday in double overtime over Hampton.

Three other notable results:

  1. St. John’s is now in 11th place in the Big East after beating DePaul by seven. Given what the Red Storm have been through, that’s an accomplishment.
  2. It looks like Belmont will win the Atlantic Sun, after defeating USC Upstate, 88-79. The Bruins are now up by two games on Mercer with just two games left.
  3. Savannah State took a full game lead in the MEAC standings by demolishing Bethune-Cookman, who entered Monday only one game back of first.

Notes:

  • Look out for Fairfield in the MAAC tournament. The Stags won their seventh straight league game by beating Marist on the road.
  • Kyle O’Quinn struggled offensively, but still grabbed 16 rebounds as Norfolk State picked up an easy win over Longwood.
  • Southern looks likely to finish second in the SWAC after improving to 11-4 on Monday, but the Jaguars are ineligible for the conference tournament and won’t thus be able to take down MVSU.
  • There was a false report claiming that Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun would return for Saturday’s game against Syracuse. It was denied by school officials. 
More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 18, 2012 5:41 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 12:39 am
 

Night Court: Bubbles, upsets & BracketBusters



By Jeff Borzello and Matt Norlander

We broke down every bubble game as the day went on, over at the Poppin' Bubbles page. For all the analysis and ramifications of the bubble's winners and losers, check it there. We'll recap all the non-bubble things here. 

Game of the Night: Everyone knew that Long Beach State vs. Creighton would be filled with plenty of offense and two teams that really wanted to prove themselves on national television. It certainly didn't disappoint -- what a game. LBSU was in control for most of the game, leading by as many as 10 points in the second half. However, Doug McDermott and Creighton kept coming and kept coming. A missed layup by Casper Ware and a turnover allowed Creighton to get the last shot. Antoine Young took advantage, and -- well, I'll let the video above tell the rest of the story. 

Game of the Night, Vol. 2:
Dayton. Xavier. City rivals. Both desperate for a bubble win. The game lived up to the drama, with the two teams going back and forth for 40 minutes -- and then an extra five after Dayton's Kevin Dillard made a layup with 1.2 seconds left to tie the game. Tu Holloway controlled the overtime, reverting to the clutch form he showed during Xavier's 8-0 start to the season. If he continues to play like that, might the Musketeers regain their magic? 

Game of the Day: 
Kansas State, perhaps you’ll no longer be underrated. That was the case at the mock selection meetings this week in Indianapolis. The Wildcats were placed into the 8/9 game, and now they’re certainly on the seven line at worst after beating Baylor 57-56 in Waco.

New Mexico, best of the West?: New Mexico, I’ve praised you in recent Power Pyramids, and now I’m fully in love with what the Lobos are capable of. They didn't mess around against UNLV, winning at home 65-45 and taking full control of the Mountain West chase. I've seen a lot of people mention the fact they liked New Mexico at the start of the season. I actually didn't. I came around on them soon, but didn't think they'd be this good. UNLV's a really nice team; the Lobos made them look like Air Force this afternoon at The Pit. 

Michigan, darkhorse Big Ten contender?: With Michigan beating Ohio State at home on Saturday night, the Wolverines could be a potential sleeper in the Big Ten title race. They are only a half-game back of Michigan State in the standings, and are now tied with Ohio State for second place. They also don't play any of the contenders the rest of the way. 

Murray State shows out: Saint Mary's has now lost three of its last four, but Murray State dominated the Gaels from the opening tip and showed that it's still a threat to win at least a game or two in the NCAA tournament. The Racers played tremendous defense all night, and got timely baskets from Isaiah Canaan and Donte Poole. 

Rough day for Conference-USAUTEP gets its first road win of the season. Where does it come? FedEx Forum. Memphis sticks a hot dagger right into its foot with a 60-58 loss to the .500 Miners. Conference USA can be a two-bid league, but only if Memphis takes the auto bid and Southern Miss keeps winning until the semis or finals of the conference championship game. No time for duds for Josh Pastner’s team, especially at home against middling foes. That wasn't the only problem for the league. Southern Miss went into Houston and dropped one to the Cougars. Now there's very little separation at the top of the standings -- and that could limit the number of bids from the league.

No soup for you, personally: Perry Jones III. Had four points, four rebounds and fouled out. I’ve recently talked to a few former players who think PJ3 is the real deal. He isn’t showing it, and I’ve never actually seen it. This isn’t just Scott Drew, either (plenty want to criticize his coaching of this talented team). Jones lacks semblance of urgency, anger and pride on the floor. He seems likely to be a big factor in costing Baylor a game in March.

Saturday all-stars

  1. Wichita State is the truth and Joe Ragland is among the best “mid-major” players in the country. The guard who’s shorter than half the guys in your social circle is one of the most efficient shooters in the nation. He put up 30 and seven rebounds in a 91-74 road win against a more-than-decent Davidson team. Shockers were a four seed in the mock selection process. They can easily get that if they win the Valley tournament.
  2. Drew Gordon had 27 points and 20 rebounds, officially. (One UNLV beat writer is shooting down that 20-boards stat). For as much as I’ve been pushing UNM this season, I’ve said they won’t go next level until Gordon plays to his talent. He did that today. UNLV was playing in mud and Gordon did what he wanted. Can be a difference-maker in the tournament, certainly.
  3. Nate Wolters led South Dakota State to a BracketBusters beatdown on Buffalo, taking out the Bulls 86-65. Wolters had 22 points, eight assists and six rebounds. #NatersGonnaNate
  4. Jae Crowder with 29 points and 12 rebounds for Marquette in its 79-64 road win at UConn. It’s always been Crowder, not Darius Johnson-Odom, who’s been the most critical piece for the Golden Eagles the past two years.
  5. Keiton Page dropped 40 points in Oklahoma State's win over Texas.
  6. St. Bonaventure's Andrew Nicholson went for 32 points and 13 boards, continuing his dominance outside the nation's watchful eye.
  7. South Dakota's Louie Krogman lost, but 37 points and six assists? Not too bad.

Other action worth your attention

  1. San Diego State lost its second in a row, stumbling on the road at Air Force. Xavier Thames' 3-pointer hit the front rim at the buzzer, and now the Aztecs are out of the Mountain West title hunt.
  2. It was almost pretty bad, and certainly a seed line sacrifice for Louisville in Chicago this afternoon. The Cardinals needed overtime — and were sort of luck to get there — to take out DePaul, 90-82. my attention, which isn’t the case with 90 percent of tilts involving ACC teams this year.  
  3. I think one of the two most important wins of the day came in Seattle. Washington earned a season sweep of Arizona, definitively putting UW over U of A when it comes to whether or not either deserves an at-large. (And as of now, I’d say neither.) However, the 79-70 win for the Puppies was one of the best for Lorenzo Romar, as he had 25 come from Terrence Ross and 22 come from Tony Wroten, Jr. Washington can be fun to watch—but they’ve been like this for years, now. Fun, inconsistent. Loves to run, stumbles over itself.
  4. Tennessee’s not that good, but boy was that a big win for Alabama to just stop the bleeding and beat the Vols in Tuscaloosa.
  5. Mercer lost its share of the Atlantic Sun title, Bucknell lost its second straight game in the Patriot, and Harvard grabbed control of the Ivy League. Mississippi Valley State also improved to 14-0 in the SWAC, while Middle Tennessee continued to cruise.
  6. Texas-Arlington ended its 16-game winning streak with a loss at Damian Lillard and Weber State.
  7. What a comeback by Notre Dame. Down by 20 points, the Fighting Irish stormed back against Villanova and won in overtime. Pat Connaughton had 21 points, and Jack Cooley continued his surprising dominance with 18 points and 13 boards.
  8. Iona simply outran Nevada in the second half. The Gaels forced the Wolf Pack to play too fast and made them turn the ball over left and right.
  9. Gonzaga lost to San Francisco for the third consecutive season, as Rashad Green hit a runner with less than three seconds left. Saint Mary's still has control of the WCC standings.
  10. Georgetown beat Providence. Goodman has his reaction to the game.
Delightful (and not-so delightful) thoughts
  • If you think we missed any of the bubble talk, just go to Poppin' Bubbles. Everything is over there.
  • If you want UConn thoughts, we touched on that earlier today.
  • Iowa State is going to coast through the backdoor into the tournament, FYI. The Cylcones won 80-69 over Oklahoma today. The resume keeps getting more cushion. Mildly concerning was Royce White only scoring four points. A lot of variance in his game.
  • Drexel starting to feel like a CAA team on a huge come, but the 69-49 win at Cleveland State was also about the Vikings having the floor fall through their season yet again.
  • Tiny thought. One seeds don’t lose in conference on the road against bad teams. Missouri 71, Texas A&M 62. Kansas kept pace, by steamrolling Texas Tech on the road.
Oh, and the video below is maybe the best buzzer-beater of the day: Pacific's Trevin Harris knocking down a 3 to beat Idaho State. (h/t @bigskybball

Posted on: February 16, 2012 11:46 am
Edited on: February 16, 2012 1:05 pm
 

Weber is the latest coach to stay too long

In his post-game press conference after Wednesday's loss, Illinois head coach Bruce Weber sounded defeated. (US Presswire)

By Gary Parrish


Bruce Weber should've taken the Oklahoma job last year.

I believed it then.

I believe it more than ever now because the Illinois coach lost for the seventh time in eight games Wednesday night when his Illini fell 67-62 at home to Purdue, and afterward Weber sounded like a man who knows the end is near. He publicly questioned his players. He publicly questioned himself. Privately, he must be second-guessing his decision to pass on various job opportunities the past few years -- most recently Oklahoma last March -- because barring a massive turnaround he'll either be fired or forced to resign within a few days of Illinois' final game this season.

Weber stayed at Illinois too long.

It's a mistake too many coaches make in an era when -- unless you're a surebet Hall of Famer like a Boeheim, a Calhoun, a Pitino, a Self, a Donovan, etc., -- you'd be wise to move every six or seven years. Changing jobs revitalizes you and keeps you from growing content. It also keeps you fresh among your fanbase and ensures you're always one step ahead of the so-called posse.

Leave them before they get tired of you.

Leave them before you start to level out or dip.

Rather than do that, Weber gambled that he'd compete for a Big Ten title in his ninth season and advance deep into the NCAA tournament, and that looks like a bad gamble as he sits tied for seventh in the league with a 5-8 record. But here's the truth: It was always a bad gamble because the Illini fans had already turned on Weber, and once that happens it's nearly impossible to turn them back around. Sure, you can hold them off with temporary success. But once fans stop believing you're the future you're always just one bad season away from a pink slip, and Weber is learning that now.

And it's a tough break for a good man.

Weber is genuinely respected by his peers, and my favorite story to prove this comes from last July when I spent three days on the recruiting trail with Michigan State's Tom Izzo. After a long first day of watching games in Indianapolis, Izzo and I had a private plane set to take us to Akron late on that Wednesday night so that we'd be fresh and ready to go first thing Thursday morning at the LeBron James Skills Academy. Weber did not have a private plane. He instead had a 3:45 a.m. wakeup call that would allow him to grab a commercial flight and take a more inconvenient route to the exact same place we were going, and when Izzo heard this he invited Weber to travel with us. Later, I asked Izzo why he offered a lift to Weber considering the plane was in essence an advantage in a recruiting battle for multiple prospects between Michigan State and Illinois. "I wouldn't do it for anybody," Izzo answered. "But if you lose a kid to Bruce you know it wasn't underhanded. You know he's going to do things the right way."

That's the best compliment a coach could ever give a fellow coach.

But that won't be enough to save Weber's job.

He's had recruiting problems at times and coaching issues at others, but right now, more than anything, he seems to have a problem of disconnect. His players have stopped responding to him. His fans have turned on him. The result is that his Illinois tenure is close to ending, and I can't help but think Weber would've been better off ending it a year ago on his own terms by accepting a seven-year contract worth roughly $17 million from a Big 12 school willing to give him a fresh start and clean slate.
Posted on: February 15, 2012 12:25 am
Edited on: February 15, 2012 12:29 am
 

Night Court: Sherrod Wright's 3 highlights V-Day

Sherrod Wright hits a 25-footer at the buzzer to give George Mason a two-point win over VCU. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Tuesday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: VCU and George Mason have battled for CAA supremacy several times over the past decade, but they might have had their most exciting game on Tuesday night. The two teams were back and forth throughout, but the final 82 seconds were electric. They combined for 21 points in that span, with George Mason knocking down three 3-pointers and VCU hitting seven free throws. It all ended when Mason’s Sherrod Wright hit a 25-footer at the buzzer to give George Mason a one-point win, 62-61. Mason is now tied with Drexel atop the standings.

Win to brag about: LSU is finally starting to put some things together lately. The Tigers have won three of their last four games, the latest coming against Mississippi State on Tuesday night. Freshman guard Anthony Hickey hit a runner in the final seconds of overtime to give the Tigers a 69-67 win. With wins over Arkansas, Alabama, Marquette and now Mississippi State, the Tigers are no longer an easy out heading down the stretch.

Loss to hide from: Clemson fell just short against Virginia the first time the two teams played, but the Tigers broke through this time. Clemson outscored the Cavaliers by 12 in the second half, en route to a 60-48 victory. Virginia’s Joe Harris was held to two points as he struggled with a broke left hand. Tony Bennett’s troops have now lost three in a row, dropping down to sixth in the ACC standings.

Player who deserves improper benefits: TCU guard Hank Thorns knocked down 8-of-12 from 3-point range en route to 32 points, leading the Horned Frogs to a 102-97 overtime victory over UNLV. They were down by 18 points with 15 minutes remaining, and 15 with 10 minutes left. Eight of Thorns’ points came in overtime, and the senior also dished out four assists and grabbed five rebounds in the upset win.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: Coming off a 28-point outing against LSU, Alabama’s Rodney Cooper was feeling his oats heading into Tuesday’s game against Florida. It didn’t really work out well, as he shot 2-for-9 from the field and turned it over four times in a 61-52 loss. Without Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green, someone needed to step up for the Crimson Tide – on Tuesday, it wasn’t Cooper. 

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 24-for-26: In the last two games, Southern Illinois has allowed teams to shoot 24-for-26 from behind the 3-point line.
  • 3: George Mason knocked down three 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds in its comeback victory.
  • 77.5, 85.7: Creighton shot 77.5 percent from the field and 85.7 percent from 3-point range in its 88-69 win over Southern Illinois.
  • November 27: Tennessee-Martin hadn’t defeated a Division-I team since late November, but the Skyhawks defeated Kennesaw State on Tuesday night. 

Three other notable results:

  1. Ohio State bounced back from its loss to Michigan State on Saturday with a 78-68 victory at Minnesota. William Buford had 24 points and Jared Sullinger went for 23.
  2. Texas won its fourth game in a row, outscoring Oklahoma by 16 in the second half en route to a 69-58 win. Myck Kabongo had 13 points and seven assists.
  3. Seton Hall won its third in a row after dropping six straight games, destroying St. John’s by 30. 

Notes:

  • Cleveland State lost its third game in a row since looking comfortable at the top of the Horizon standings, falling to Milwaukee, 86-84.
  • Butler won its third in a row, beating Loyola Chicago. With the Horizon getting more unpredictable everyday, could the Bulldogs be the conference tournament favorite – again?
  • Kent State knocked off Buffalo, 76-71, putting both teams at 9-3 in the Mid-American. Each team is now 1.5 games back of Akron.
  • Manhattan took another hit in its quest to for a regular-season MAAC title, dropping one on the road to Siena, 70-64.
More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 14, 2012 11:45 am
Edited on: February 14, 2012 12:01 pm
 

Tuesday polls: Five conferences to select

By Matt Norlander

Take 12 seconds to make your picks on five upcoming games  and be sure to see the results on CBS Sports Network programming this week. All picks will air on Wednesday night's edition of "Courtside with Seth Davis" at 6 p.m. ET.

Want more of us? Or more interaction with hoops fans? We suggest you like the Eye On College Basketball Facebook page. And if that's not enough, CBSSports.com has your roundball fix tended to thanks to our daily newsletter.


Posted on: February 13, 2012 11:16 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 11:45 pm
 

Night Court: Jeff Withey: CBB's most improved

Adorable. (Mocksession.com)

By Matt Norlander

Here’s everything you need to know about Monday night’s miserably slim pickings worth games. Being the good/smart fiancé that I am, I chose Night Courty tonight so tomorrow I’m totally, absolutely, undeniably free. Veteran move. Borzello will be tracking Tuesday's games, so there you go.

Game of the Night: Anyone not in high school right now remembers when Kansas State had a bad basketball program. The Kansas-Kansas State rivalry had approximately no national appeal. Thank God for Bob Huggins and Frank Martin getting the program back to relevance, because the games have been pretty great for the past half-decade. The two went at it again in Manhattan, Kan., tonight, and for the 22nd time in the last 24 meetings there, Kansas emerged victorious, 59-53.

It's certainly a big brother over little brother ordeal with these two programs, but at least K-State puts up a good fight. I always want to see how K-State brings it, even if it's normally the same result. What concerns me with the Wildcats now is, I'm not sure this team has the makeup to make a tourney run. It falls tonight, and now it gets Baylor and Missouri on the road. It's a 6-9 Big 12 team by next Tuesday night most likely, and so then it'll have to win out, finish 9-9 and get at least a Big 12 tourney win to have hope. Tall task.

Win to brag talk about: You think Syracuse wants to brag? It was its first win over Louisville in eight tries. The first home loss to Syracuse since it joined the Big East in 2005. Boy was it ugly, though. Just brutal basketball. Lots of bad shots. Scoop Jardine was 0 for 8. Gorgui Dieng was 2 for 9. Chris Smith was 3 for 11. Dion Waiters was 3 for 10. Kyle Kuric was 1 for 8.

This game felt like it was played on a court with pot holes and in the rain and with half-pumped tether ball. No flow and neither team deserved to win, but someone had to. Winning ugly adds another character trait to Syracuse, though it’s one few teams every really want to embrace. Win’s a win, though, and this cements — barring a three-game losing streak at some point — Syracuse as a one seed in the East regional next month.

Player who deserves improper benefits: It’s Jeff Withey. Eighteen points, 11 boards, NINE BLOCKS. First guy with that kind of stat line in three years. This junior is transforming into prototypical Reliable and Forceful White Kansas Center. I didn't see it coming. He's genuinely awesome and fun and unpredictable to watch. His play makes me believe Kansas can make a Final Four run and not have it be a fluky thing. Love Withey. Gotta get Withey on the phone. Gotta get Withey to tell me how to live my life. Incredible turnaround. He's the most improved player in hoops this season.

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Royce White is the player with pro potential for Iowa State. He’s a matchup problem for a lot of teams, but Baylor isn’t one of them. The Bears won at home tonight, remaining undefeated against teams who don’t have “MIZZOU” or “KANSAS” sewed onto their jersey. White had seven turnovers and hurt the team in some needed spots. He did manage 14 points of 7-of-12 shooting. It wasn’t awful, but we’re dealing with a light slate here.

A quick note on Baylor. I heard ESPN.com’s Andy Katz mention he thinks this team will do better once it’s out of the Big 12 and playing in the NCAA tournament. Maybe. But who says it can’t continue to pick on all the other teams? I’d be very intrigued to see what happens to a five-loss Baylor team that only fell to Kansas and Missouri. Where would they get seeded? The argument for the 3 is legitimate.

Another player who does not deserve improper benefits: K-State's Angel Rodriguez was a killer, also getting way too Bill Gates with the ball. Seven turnovers, 0-of-8 from the field, zero points.

Numbers don’t lie

  • 48. Belmont defeated Stetson 107-93 Monday night. It was the 48th time this season a game between two D-I teams had one squad score more than 100.
  • 6. Louisville fans want a reason to be positive tonight? Under Pitino in the Big East, Louisville doesn’t always pull off six-game winning streaks in the Big East. They did this year, and in the prior two times, Louisville made the Elite Eight (2009, 2008).

Notes

  • Due to school rules, Kevin Foster of Santa Clara has been suspended for the remainder of the season.
  • Hats off to Stetson's Aaron Pegg, who went out and had himself a night, scoring 31 in the Belmont game.
  • Mississippi Valley State's now 13-0 in the abysmal SWAC. Delta Devils have a good chance of returning to the dance.
  • I'm going sunflowers over roses tomorrow. I suggest you do the same. Roses are more stale than last Wednesday's bread.

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