Posted on: March 6, 2011 8:52 am

Sunday Preview: bids and seeds go flying

Posted by Eric Angevine

Plenty of games on today, but I'm going to focus on a handful. Starting with:

Kentucky @ Tennessee, 12:00 p.m. ET, CBS: Uh-oh, one last road game for the Wildcats before the SEC tournament begins. See above.

Indiana State @ Missouri State, 2:05 p.m., CBS: Another NCAA bid goes out today. Will it belong to Cuonzo Martin and the Missouri State Bears, who are celebrating their first-ever MVC regular-season championship? Or will Larry Bird's alma mater get back to the Dance for the first time since 2001? Either way, there will be one less bid up for grabs at the end of this one. Matt Jones will be live on site. | MVC title game preview

Wisconsin @ Ohio State, 4:00 p.m., CBS: Purdue's baffling loss to Iowa yesterday took some drama out of this one, as it handed the Big Ten title to the Buckeyes outright. Still, this should be a dynamite battle between two top-ten teams, with OSU looking to stay firmly on top, and Wisconsin trying to grab a season sweep that could dramatically improve their Big Dance seeding. | Video Preview

I'll be at the CAA semifinals, where multiple bids appear to be solidly in play. Should be another exciting day of college hoops!

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 7:10 am

The Morning Drive: Jordan Taylor turns heads

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Conference tournament action overshadowed the marquee match-ups on Thursday, but there were still games with NCAA Tournament implications. Furthermore, there were a number of extremely impressive performances across the board. Follow me on Twitter: @jeffborzello

Conference Tournaments Update: There were 13 conference tournament games last night. In the Northeast, all four favorites advanced, but it wasn’t easy. No. 3 Robert Morris beat Wagner by four, while No. 4 Central Connecticut State escaped St. Francis (N.Y.) by two. LIU and Quinnipiac cruised. Over in the America East play-in game, Binghamton destroyed UMBC by 26. The Missouri Valley had two games, with Southern Illinois and Bradley advancing. The Ohio Valley semifinals are also set, as No. 4 Tennessee Tech dominated upstart Tennessee-Martin and No. 3 Austin Peay handled Southeast Missouri State with ease. Tech plays Murray State and APU faces Morehead State. We have our first conference championship game finalized, as the Big South final will be between No. 1 Coastal Carolina and No. 3 UNC-Asheville. Coastal came back to beat VMI and Asheville crushed High Point in the second half. Wrapping up the tourney action was the Atlantic Sun. No. 6 North Florida upset No. 3 Jacksonville, while No. 5 Mercer defeated No. 4 Lipscomb. The top performers were numerous, including: Binghamton’s Greer Wright and Moussa Camara, who combined for 61 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists; Justin Rutty of Quinnipiac going for 22 points and 16 rebounds; Coastal Carolina’s Chad Gray and Anthony Raffa, who combined for 50 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists; Robert Morris’ Velton Jones’ 29 points and six assists; Caleb Brown of Austin Peay scoring 28 points; and Bradley’s Dyricus Simms-Edwards going for 26 points, nine boards and five assists.

Top Performer: Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor showed once again why his original exclusion from the Bob Cousy finalist list was preposterous, scoring a career-high 39 points to lead the Badgers to a 77-67 victory at Indiana. Taylor knocked down seven 3-pointers and went 10-for-10 from the free-throw line. Overall, he was 11-for-19 from the field. Perhaps most impressively, Taylor did it all on just 55 possessions. 

Steppin’ Up: Faced with a must-win game against UCLA last night, Washington turned to an unlikely source. Freshman guard C.J. Wilcox went 4-for-7 from 3-point range en route to a career-high 24 points, leading Washington to a nine-point win. Wilcox hit all six of his foul shots, and was 7-for-10 from the field. He also helped the Huskies pull away down the stretch with a 3-pointer while getting fouled with 2:38 left.

Stat-Sheet Stuffer: Because of Georgia Tech’s struggles, Iman Shumpert has been flying below the radar this season. Last night, though, he was tough to ignore. Shumpert finished with 24 points, eight rebounds, three assists and six steals to lead the Yellow Jackets to an 80-54 blowout at Wake Forest. Shumpert even went 2-for-3 from behind the arc, an area he has struggled in this year.

Dub-Dubbing: Washington State might be getting back in the at-large mix after last night’s home win over a surging USC team, led by DeAngelo Casto’s 24 points 10 rebounds. Casto was nearly perfect from the field, shooting 10-for-11 and 4-for-6 from the free-throw line. He also had two assists. Casto is on a roll lately, averaging 17.7 points in his last six games.

Filling it up: Seton Hall guard Jeremy Hazell returned to his scoring ways last night against St. John’s, dropping 31 to beat the Red Storm. Hazell hit his season-high by going 9-for-14 from the field and 4-for-6 from 3-point range. He also grabbed four rebounds, dished out three assists and picked up three steals. When Hazell gets it going, Seton Hall can be tough to beat.

In a Losing Effort: South Carolina did its best to come back from a 20-point deficit against Tennessee, but fell short, losing 73-69. Senior Sam Muldrow finished in a major way in his last home game, going for 24 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. He shot just 9 for-21 from the field, going 0-for-5 from 3-point range, but played well around the rim, grabbing seven offensive rebounds.

Set the DVR: Four conference tournaments start up today, with the CAA, MAAC, Southern and West Coast all getting underway. Moreover, the Missouri Valley, Horizon, Ohio Valley and Atlantic Sun continue.

Numbers Don’t Lie:

  • Jordan Taylor outscored the rest of the Badgers, 39-38.
  • Taylor scored the most points by a visitor at Assembly Hall since Shawn Respert scored 40 in 1995.
  • South Carolina hasn’t beaten Tennessee since 2007.
  • St. John’s hasn’t won at Seton Hall since 1997.

Notes and Notables:

  • Arizona earned at least a share of the Pac-10 title with a 70-59 win over Oregon State. Derrick Williams led the way with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Photo: US Presswire

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 7:04 am
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Posted on: February 21, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 3:39 pm

Tom Crean sees paradise by the dashboard lights

Tom Crean starts the sarcastic slow clap for Big Ten schedule changes

Posted by Eric Angevine

Tom Crean is annoyed. His rebuilding Indiana team has to play two games in rapid succession.

Jeff Rabjohns reported on tweets from the IU coach's Twitter account this afternoon:

“I just heard the craziest thing. It must be Ashton Kutcher and his PUNKED show or a April Fools joke a few weeks early,” Crean wrote on his Twitter account.

“I heard the Big Ten network is moving us to play at Illinois after we play Wisconsin at 9 o clock Thursday at 11 on Saturday. IN THE MORNING.

“There is no way that could be true is it? What was the 8 a.m. slot taken?

“I feel like we should jump in some vans, put the 8 track tapes in, get some cheese sandwiches and have a old school road trip.”

“I am okay with 1 day in between games on occasion but 36 hours? In a rivalry game? That defies rationalization.”

Of course, this is the type of schedule one must follow in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, though we'll spot him the complaint about travel time in-between.

What I'm most intrigued by is the notion of which 8-tracks Crean would spool on his old-school road trip. My parents had a nice collection of Eddie Rabbit, Neil Diamond and Dan Fogelberg cartage back when I was a kid (oh, and you'd better believe we had an AMC Pacer, my friends), but something about Crean just screams out Rush, or an endless loop of Stairway to Heaven.
Posted on: February 15, 2011 3:25 pm

Buckeyes/Badgers Spitgate still not going away

Posted by Matt Norlander

You haven't seen too much of it here at the blog, primarily because we don't see it as a major crisis, but the alleged spitting incident that took place in Madison, Wisc., Saturday afternoon still isn't going away. So long as Badgers coach Bo Ryan is doing interviews, he's fielding questions about Spitgate.

Ryan went on Jim Rome's radio show this afternoon, and the host of course asked Ryan his thoughts on Sullinger's claims that he was spat on both before and after the game.  

Ryan stopped just short of calling Sullinger a liar, but he did toe the line pretty close. He also echoed sentiments about the crowd, the enthusiasm, etc. that he's said to media for the better part of the past three days.

“In America you can say anything, so I just I don’t — event management handles all that,” Ryan said. “But the amazing thing is, students, so many videotaped that post-game (celebration) because they wanted to save the moment forever , so I would think that, if anything — plus our whole Kohl Center is under surveillance cameras … so do you find it surprising that something hasn’t been, you know?  So you go with it, let people talk about it, and we get ready for Purdue. But our fans are the best. You’ve seen this place, you know what it’s like. I know one thing: this head coach has our students’ back.”

Ryan's doing what you'd expect: backing the Bucky fans 100 percent, as there is no evidence to force him to turn his heel. No faulting him there. For the record, Ohio State head coach Thad Matta backed up Sullinger's claims in Monday's Big Ten conference call with media.

Rome then flatly asked Ryan if he believed Sullinger was making his story up. The Wisconsin coached largely dodged that question and continued to rah-rah.

“For me to have a hypothetical for a hypothetical, I don’t know,” Ryan said. “I just know we beat them for that 40 minutes, the place was electric, the university’s been just nothing but good things talked about and that’s the way we feel. We just feel really good about the atmosphere and our guys’ performance.”

Still waiting for the back-and-to-the-left film to surface from this, which seems more and more unlikely. Perhaps we do have a new rivalry budding here, though, considering these allegations and the fact Wisconsin gave Ohio State its first loss in football and basketball this season. The next page-turn comes in the regular-season finale, when the Buckeyes host the Badgers.

Yes, the Nut House should be pretty prepared for that one. And it's same to assume the fans will keep their mouths clean — but certainly not closed.

Photo: Getty Images
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 7, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2011 12:58 pm

Jordan Taylor still not getting his due respect

Posted by Matt Norlander

If it's going to take another big win or two or six before Wisconsin gets the pub and love it deserves, how long is it going to be until Jordan Taylor is seen as one of the best in the country at his position?

Voters for the Bob Cousy Award need more evidence, apparently. A day after Taylor went for 30 points and six assists in a beauty of a game against Michigan State, the 10 finalists for the best-point-guard-in-the-country award were announced Monday, Taylor getting snubbed. Xavier's Tu Holloway was also somewhat-egregiously kept off the dwindled list.

Your finalists, in alphabetical order:
  1. Cleveland State's Norris Cole
  2. Villanova's Corey Fisher
  3. BYU's Jimmer Fredette
  4. San Diego State's D.J. Gay
  5. Kentucky's Brandon Knight
  6. Illinois' Demetri McCamey
  7. Saint Mary's Mickey McConnell
  8. Duke's Nolan Smith
  9. Washington's Isaiah Thomas
  10. UConn's Kemba Walker
Taylor cannot win his way back on to the ballot. No doubt this year is a good one for point guards in college basketball (yet the sport is rightfully perceived to being in a down cycle), but Taylor and Holloway should replace McCamey and Fredette. Jimmer is not a true point guard, folks.

Back to Taylor, who is averaging 17.8 points, 4.6 assists, 4.4 boards per game. You could build an argument around him being overshadowed by a better player on his team in Jon Leuer, but even Leuer continues to be criminally under-appreciated at his own position (power forward).

No wonder Bo Ryan so frequently looks like this.

Taylor's in the top 10 nationally in 11 categories, most notably turnover percentage and offensive rating. Only seven other guys give the ball away at a rarer rate than Taylor — none of those players are the ones listed above. Taylor is eighth; Kemba Walker is 36th. More than half the finalists don't even crack the top 100 in ball security, arguably the most important facet of point guard play.

As for the offensive rating, Taylor's the 10th-most effective offensive player in the nation as of Monday afternoon. Awesome numbers. In fact, Wisconsin has three in the top 10, which has got to be bending hoops laws in some way, perhaps hurting Taylor by proxy. McConnell of Saint Mary's is seventh in offensive rating, for the record.

Award-snubbage isn't the most desirable of topics — college basketball already has about 25 too many statues handed out each year — but the stiff-arm delivered to Taylor here is eyebrow-raising. Few players (read: much less than 10) contribute with incredible effectiveness in nearly every offensive category like Taylor does. Is it possible he's being overlooked because Wisconsin's still fighting off an unfair stench that lingers from the Big Ten's past play. Yep.

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: February 6, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2011 3:56 pm

Goodness gracious, Wisconsin; that was impressive

Posted by Matt Norlander

Teach me how to Bucky, teach me, teach me how to Bucky.

Nobody can Bucky quite like the Badgers. This blog post is coming to you fresh off one of the smoothest, most efficient beatdowns you'll see in major-conference basketball this season, an 82-59 Wisconsin win over Michigan State.

Yes, this was against Michigan State, which is suddenly a detriment to opponents' credibility. But pay no mind to that, please! The game was the hardcourt equivalent of what Anderson Silva did to Vitor Belfort Saturday night; just a swift, concentrated kick to the face of the Spartans. I suppose that's the primary reason I was inspired to write this post — I was that in awe of what Bucky was doing to Sparty. This wasn't your typical laugher, though it is funny it took me until now to write a love letter to Wisky.

Jordan Taylor, who's still not a household name for the precise reason he plays in Madison, Wisc., went for a delicious 30 points against Michigan State at the Kohl Center. Jon Leuer (above, guarded by Michigan State's Draymond Green) put in 20 more.
People: Wisconsin scored 82 points Sunday afternoon. It averaged 69 heading into today's game. UW was 11-of-17 from behind the 3-point line and went 25-for-26 at the free-throw line! When was the last time a team shot better than 95 percent at the line in a game wherein it took more than 25 free throws?

These are incredible numbers, in a vacuum, but they're not too, too far off from what Wisconsin's been doing for the majority of this season.

The Badgers scored 1.52 points per possession against Michigan State. If you need the perspective, the nation's leader in points per possession is currently Pittsburgh, at 1.22 PPP. But that will change once the computers crunch the numbers at night's end; Wisconsin is/was .1 PPP behind the Panthers. That's hardly bad news, considering other things coming out of the Pitt program this afternoon.

The Badgers, winners of 16 straight at home, could be on their way to becoming The Next Hot Thing. (Your current Next Hot Thing: Texas.) Considering Wisconsin is currently the best free-throw shooting team in at least a decade (way to bolster that percentage even further today, boys), as well as being the most proficient club at turning you over, it looks as if Bo Ryan's team is on a crash course to crushing a couple of cruddy-by-comparison teams in the first weekend of The Tournament.

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