Posted on: December 31, 2011 3:31 pm
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Posted on: December 31, 2011 3:30 pm

Iowa upsets Wisconsin at the Kohl Center

By Jeff Borzello

Kentucky vs. Louisville occupied most of the college basketball world’s attention during the early part of Saturday afternoon, but it was another result that caught everyone’s eyes.

Wisconsin lost. At home. To Iowa.

You read that right. For the first time since Bo Ryan took over at Wisconsin, the Badgers lost a home conference opener. The Badgers are normally unbeatable at home, but they fell 72-65 to a 9-6 Iowa team that lost by 16 at home to Campbell earlier this season.

Wisconsin shot just 35 percent from the field, including 3-for-28 from 3-point range. Jordan Taylor was 7-for-19 shooting the ball. The most surprising part about the game was Wisconsin’s defense, or lack thereof. Iowa shot 49.2 percent from the field and outrebounded the Badgers.

Heading into Saturday, Wisconsin had the nation’s best defensive efficiency and ranked No. 13 in defensive rebounding percentage, only allowing second chances on 25.7 percent of possessions. Yet Iowa grabbed 37 percent of its misses and scored 1.09 points per possessions. The Badgers were allowing fewer than 0.79 PPP going into the game.

It’s not time to write Wisconsin off or anything like that. After all, it’s still 2011 and no one ever wants to see a Bo Ryan-coached team line up across the court from them. However, when the Badgers’ defense isn’t extremely effective, they really struggle to win. All three of Wisconsin’s losses came in its three worst defensive games of the season, and the Badgers simply don’t have the firepower offensively to make up for it.

Jordan Taylor has received more defensive attention this season, and he has struggled to adapt at times. He also isn’t getting consistent help. Tonight, Ben Brust and Jared Berggren combined to shoot 10-for-30 from the field, including 1-for-14 from 3-point range.

As for Iowa, it goes without saying that this is a huge win. The Hawkeyes came close to knocking off Purdue during the week, but they got over the hump on Saturday. Melsahn Basabe had 14 points and nine rebounds, while Bryce Cartwright and Aaron White combined for 35 points off the bench. Roy Devyn Marble came up big down the stretch, hitting a couple of important jumpers.

This game further muddles the Big Ten pecking order. Who is the second-best team in the league, after Ohio State?

After Saturday, it’s tough to say Wisconsin.

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 28, 2011 12:46 pm

Podcast: Doug McDermott vs. Barnes debate begins

By Matt Norlander

It's that soft spot between Christmas and New Year's, but lots of good basketball is about to get going thanks to conference play starting in earnest. Goodman, Parrish and I have our weekly Wednesday podcast here to discuss: Jordan Taylor's somehow underrated play this year; Creighton's Doug McDermott is about to explode on the national college hoops landscape; Rick Pitino can't be trusted; and this week is so huge for Louisville. The next three games, really: Wednesday vs. Georgetown; Saturday at Kentucky; Jan. 3 against St. John's.
We mix in some other things, too, particularly at the beginning, when I learn Parrish was once a pizza delivery boy.

  • From the beginning: Some weekend wrap-up/catchup chatter. Sometimes this is the best parts of the podcast. It wanders into talking about Seth Greenberg, because of course.
  • 9:00: As for the here and now, it starts with Jordan Taylor, who Goodman saw in person last night. He's not having a down year, you know.
  • 16:29: Now we get to Doug McDermott, who's having an insane year, a First Team All America-level year so far. We've been on McDermott since the summer, but it feels like the coming weeks will finally bring widespread pub and love to a player who's doing much better so far this season than a guy named Jimmer last season.
  • 20:50: This conversation/debate could gain traction if McDermott continues to play so well, but we touch on Harrison Barnes vs. McDermott as college players (the two were high school teammates).
  • 24:09: Why we do not believe Rick Pitino.
  • 27:56: Podcast comes to a close with a nine-minute discussion on the next three games for U of L: Georgetown, Kentucky, St. John's (yes, St. John's). I think it's the most critical non-postseason three-game stretch the Cards have this season.

You can listen to the CBSSports.com College Basketball Podcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The podcasts are posted here and simultaneously through iTunes (link below). Each Wednesday CBSSports.com national writers Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish hop on to banter and bicker. Mondays and Fridays are reserved for the most prominent voices in and around the game. Here's the iTunes subcription link. We also have an RSS feed for you to track. I don't believe they are making Zunes anymore, but nonetheless, I've been instructed to link you on how to listen via that device, too.

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Posted on: December 28, 2011 10:58 am
Edited on: December 28, 2011 12:18 pm

Jordan Taylor deferring for his Badgers teammates

By Jeff Goodman

LINCOLN, Neb. - It just wouldn't have been quite as believable coming from most players. But when Jordan Taylor uttered the words, there was no question that he meant it. 

"As long as we're winning, I could care less," Wisconsin's do-everything point guard said. "I'd much rather go to the Final Four and not have any accolades than get knocked out in the first-round and be an All-American." 

Just talk to Taylor a while and you'll realize how unique an individual he truly is. 

He doesn't make any excuses for his shooting woes this season, only to say that he has -- and needs to -- get in the gym with more frequency. 

"It's nothing mechanical," Taylor said. "No secret formula. Just repetition. That's all." 

But truth be told, Taylor has had to adjust to life without Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil, two guys who could both stretch the defense last season and two guys that combined to average 28 points per contest. 

Instead of going out there to prove that he's the First Team All-American that many projected Taylor to be this season, Taylor did the opposite. He sat back, let the game come to him and tried to make sure that his teammates got their shots and gained confidence in their new roles. 

Remember, the team's top five scorers this season not named Jordan Taylor combined to average just 16.4 points last season. 

"He's trying to be the guy who makes everyone else better," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said after the 64-40 win at Nebraska on Tuesday night. "He wants to show people we've got more than one player. He's exactly what a great point guard should be." 

Ryan admitted that, at times this season, he's told Taylor to be more aggressive in looking for his own shot. 

"He didn't worry about getting his own at all," Badgers junior wing Ryan Evans said after going for a career-high 22 in the rout over Nebraska. "He's such a great leader -- and that's why he's different. He knows we're young and inexperienced and wants to instill confidence in the other guys." 

"It's what separates him from other All-Americans," Evans added. 

It's not as though Taylor and the Badgers have gotten off to some miserable start, either. Other than his shooting and scoring, everything else is basically on par with last season - when he established himself as one of the nation's elite players. His assist-to-turnover ratio remains at more than 3-to-1; he distributes, rebounds well for a point guard and leads his team. 

It's a group that has suffered just two slip-ups: the close loss in Chapel Hill to North Carolina and the rare home setback against in-state rival Marquette. 

Taylor was impressive in the win against Nebraska, but his stat line once again wasn't eye-popping. He took just a dozen shots, make five and was 3-of-6 from beyond the arc -- with a couple critical makes that helped allow the Badgers to pull away in the second half. 

But Taylor was too busy feeding Evans, who had his shot going on Tuesday night. Too busy trying to get Ben Brust and Jared Berggren looks. 

"We have some really good players," Taylor said. 

Including a special one. 

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: December 9, 2011 9:05 am

Podcast: Let's break out the Pom Poms for Ken Pom

By Matt Norlander

Ken Pomeroy houses the stat sanctuary that is kenpom.com. It's become a go-to place for fans and writers and coaches alike, yet plenty of folk still want to resist getting smarter/well-informed about the game we love. 

Pomeroy makes his second podcast appearance to discuss how much information and interpretation from the data can and should be gleaned after one month of the season has passed us by. There are trends to take note of, but where should the line be drawn? Among other topics: unabashedly bashing Jeff Goodman, who is not yet a big believer in KenPom stats, and looking at just how historically bad Utah is this year. For a major-conference team, they are off to a start we've seldom seen before.

If you'd like to know why the Big Ten is the best conference so far, that's included as well. Get smarter, get to understand the game better and see why tempo-free isn't that daunting. No calculators required.

The counting begins:
  • From the beginning: We needlessly explain the process to Goodman, who I know will take the time to listen to this.
  • 2:42: So, we're more than a month into the season. How much can we take from the stats we have right now? And there's a key component to remember when look at this year's stats, too -- previous years' trends.
  • 8:31: Do tempo-free stats and trends lend themselves well to predicting outcomes?
  • 12:16: What are the most "important" stats to be tracking in this new era? Some are more indicative than others.
  • 15:07: We move on to talking actual teams, actual action and on-court stuff. First to be address: Utah, which is having a miserable start to its season.
  • 20:33: Vanderbilt must be discussed again, this time because Pomeroy and I differ on how good this team ultimately is.
  • 24:56: Why the Big Ten is definitively the best league in college basketball.
  • 28:42: Why Henry Sims is playing amongst the best hoop in the nation right now. ALERT: GOODMAN LIKELY BREAKING HIS COMPUTER BY THIS POINT.
  • 30:23: Podcast ends with some answers from listeners' questions.

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: December 7, 2011 4:36 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 4:37 pm

Podcast: This one is lacking in holiday cheer

By Matt Norlander

It's Wednesday, so that means Goodman and Parrish are back on the podcast. Parrish saw Jay-Z and Kanye Saturday night, so we have to lead our show with how the show everyone's talking about. Playing the same song eight times in a row? That apparently happened.

After the music gabbing, its on to the hoops, of course. Ben Howland refusing to kick Reeves Nelson off the team, Marquette's ability, Missouri as an elite team, Goodman and I yelling at each other about Marcus Denmon. Oh, this is a good one, indeed. Then there's the Big Ten/Big East debate, which is increasing (we're totally responsible for this).

Sorry this one was late -- had to get our ducks in a row in order to get the three of us on at the same time. We think it's worth it, though.

While we watch the throne:
  • From the beginning: A full review of the Watch the Throne show Parrish was at.
  • 5:20: So, about that whole Reeves-Nelson-still-on-UCLA thing ...
  • 8:54: Goodman was at MSG for the Jimmy V Classic. He's got a hotel story first before we get to the hoops.
  • 11:37: Phil Pressey and Missouri. And Goodman gets angry at me! CONFLICT!
  • 16:10: Goodman writes about Marquette's lack of talent. I disagree. And so we fight a little more. We're both on about a combined seven hours of sleep, so it got a little ornery.
  • 20:50: It's December, in case you hadn't heard. This is the slowest time, the next three weeks, of college basketball. Storylines come in smaller supply, the meaningful matchups aren't as much there due to finals, the holidays and the lead up to conference play.
  • 24:29: The most under-the-radar team in a major conference right now: Kansas State? Goodman talked with Frank Martin this week.
  • 26:25: Big Ten/Big East/Big 12 talk. Oh, and Goodman chirps at Parrish about Thomas Robinson. This was just an awesome podcast for bickering.
  • 31:47: Wrap-up chat and miscellaneous talk. Goodman and I make nice again, which is good, because I'm kind of terrified of the guy when he gets angry.

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: December 5, 2011 4:34 pm

Wisconsin needs help for Jordan Taylor

Jeff Borzello

Tu Holloway has Mark Lyons. Jared Sullinger has William Buford. Harrison Barnes and Terrence Jones have a slew of players.

Jordan Taylor has . . . Jared Berggren? Ben Brust?

Taylor can’t do it all by himself. This was completely evident against Marquette on Saturday, when Taylor struggled with fouls and turnovers. Marquette kept him under wraps when he was in the game, and he was unable to will the Badgers to a victory.

Taylor’s usage rate is lower than last season, but his efficiency and offensive rating are also down. He’s not drawing as many fouls as he did last season, and he’s shooting below 40 percent from the field and 3-point range. On the other side, there is little doubt that Taylor is one of the best point guards in the country. He takes care of the ball, distributes it effectively and also has the ability to score in different ways.

Last year, though, he had forward Jon Leuer to take some of the pressure off him offensively. Leuer averaged 18.3 points and could also be a go-to-guy when Wisconsin needed a basket in end-game or end-clock situations. Taylor doesn’t have Leuer this year, and no one has really replaced him as a reliable option when Taylor is having an off night.

This is not to belittle Berggren or Brust, but one of them has to step up on the offensive end on a consistent basis in order for Wisconsin to be a top 10 team or a Final Four contender. Berggren has good numbers, but the inside-outside big man has a tendency to go cold at times. He was just 3-for-11 in the loss to Marquette, finishing with eight points. Brust is shooting nearly 43 percent from 3-point range on the season, but he’s only made two of his last 10 outside shots. He didn’t reach double figures in either of the loss to Marquette or North Carolina.

Wisconsin ranks dead last in the country in the number of points it gets from the foul line. Only 10.2 percent of the Badgers’ points are the result of free throws. A low number is typical for a team that relies heavily on the 3-point shot, but Wisconsin had players last year that could get their own shot by attacking the rim.

There isn’t really anyone to do that this season, which leads to defenses focusing on Taylor and him struggling with his efficiency and effectiveness. Naturally, this has been a problem, despite the unorthodox swing offense Bo Ryan’s troops run. The Badgers’ system will allow them to be one of the more efficient offenses in the country, and they’ll get plenty of points out of their sets. When the Badgers need a basket, though, Taylor will need help.

The trend stretches back to last season. Leuer scored at least 20 points on 14 separate occasions – but only one of those games came in a loss. His four lowest-scoring outputs of the year came in defeat.

Essentially, when Taylor wasn’t getting consistent help, Wisconsin struggled. The story is going to be the same this season – unless Berggren or Brust (or someone else) can be a consistent contributor against fellow contenders.

Photo: US Presswire

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Posted on: December 5, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 9:40 am

Podcast: This one's all over the place

By Matt Norlander

Jason McIntyre has built up the most successful independent sports blog in Internet history. He runs TheBigLead.com. He also happens to be a fanatical college hoops fan.  (Fun fact: I did a couple of hoops posts for TBL back in '08, and almost became a freelance writer on the site until he greedily and rightfully wanted to take on that endeavor himself prior to the '09-10 season. Now look who's coming on whose podcast.)

In what's one of the more fun podcasts we've had so far, Jason and I go back and forth on a number of topics. Some hoops, some not -- the whole thing really flies by. The man's got his opinions; his polarity is what's made his blog a must-read on a daily basis for so many. And why he's well over 31,000 Twitter followers.

It was a pleasure to finally get Jason back on after a glitch in the recording of a previous podcast prevented it from publishing. It's good to step outside the realm of talking strictly hoops and go after some other subjects, and we do that here.

The roundup:
  • From the beginning: Introducing Jason to the podcast.
  • 2:50: Coach K and Pat Summitt earned the Sportsman/Sportswoman of the Year. Right choice? And did you ever notice how SI, in retrospect, almost always picks the right person for this?
  • 4:45: All thoughts on UNC-UK, and why the argument being propped up against a title game rematch in hoops (like LSU-Alabama in football) is beyond foolish.
  • 9:40: Lots of draft talk/potential here. Barnes, Sullinger, Thomas Robinson, Perry Jones, Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, Brad Beal, plenty more. Looking big picture can be fun, even if it's early.
  • 15:55: NBA draft and the age limit.
  • 18:45: Tables get turned on me, and J-Mac tosses some questions my way. We talk about media-type stuff, and he fluffs CBSSports.com up and mentions the big hires we've made. I was completely awkward talking about this, but it's that kind of awkward energy that I know you're looking for when you tune in. There's also talk of how we do what we do here at the blog, the method behind it, etc. 
  • 28:04: The college basketball season is one month old, and here's the big debate. Big Ten the best conference? I think so. McIntyre says the Big East. And he hates tempo-free stats. And Wisconsin. Oh, yes. It's about to get ugly up in this piece.
  • 35:09: How can someone be a fan of Syracuse and Georgetown? Listen as McIntyre tries to persuade you.
  • 38:50: Our favorite announcers in the game wraps up the chat.

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.

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