Posted on: January 17, 2012 1:07 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 3:36 pm

Tuesday polls: Let's hear who you're taking

By Matt Norlander

We want to know which teams you like this week, and by which sort of margin. Best of all? We're working in concert with Seth Davis and his TV show, so these results will get shared each Wednesday on "Courtside with Seth Davis" on the CBS Sports Network.

This is the third installment of the polls. You can swing by here each Tuesday just after lunchtime to make your clicks. So let's hear it.

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: January 16, 2012 11:41 am
Edited on: January 16, 2012 12:04 pm

Podcast: Why does UNC's 33-point loss matter?

By Matt Norlander

If a team gets beatdown like UNC did at Florida State Saturday, does it mean they won't win the title? Well, nobody's ever lost by 33 and gone on to cut down nets. In fact, no one's ever lost by more than 27 in a season and gone on to win it all.

CBSSports.com recruiting savant and bro supreme Jeff Borzello calls in from the Hoop Hall Classic to discuss Carolina's chances of bucking that trend, as well as Roy Williams taking his team off the floor before that game was over. Bro-zello and I also get into the Ryan Boatright situation at UConn -- he's sitting out of games again, pending NCAA review of his eligibility -- as well as a look ahead to tonight's huge game: Baylor at Kansas.

Here it is:
  • From the beginning: Borzello's watching the best high school tournament of the season, the Hoop Hall Classic, up in Springfield, Mass. For people that follow this stuff, or want more, he runs down the essentials.
  • 7:13: It's on to UNC. That huge loss. No team's ever loss by more than 27 points has gone on to win a title that season. Why should UNC be any different?
  • 13:40: Roy Williams complied with Leonard Hamilton's suggestion of getting UNC's coaches and guys sitting on the bench off the floor before the storm. But the walk-ons on the court? Left for dead. Williams deflects talk from the loss. Brilliant.
  • 16:24: Ryan Boatright is again ineligible. He sits and waits while his situation is reviewed. Why's this happening right now and what's the crux of the problem?
  • 20:21: The nation's most underrated great player? Arnett Moultrie.
  • 23:24: Advance of Baylor at Kansas, which amounts to a game that could have some more big-picture reaction if Baylor smothers the 'Hawks.
  • 26:42: Some gib-gab to finish up. Insanity workouts, Borzello trying to drop 20 pounds in two months, the NFL playoffs, 30-person birthday parties at german restaurants.

Continued thanks from me to you for keep coming back and listening. Please: spread the word. Hoops season is ramping up, and I'd love more hate mail. Spread this page and the iTunes subscription link to anyone you'd think would like this sort of think. We post three times per week, with the Wednesday show being a low-rent sitcom wannabe of a half hour, thanks to CBSSports.com national writers Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman Skyping in their opinions. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.

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Posted on: January 14, 2012 6:02 pm

Afternoon Delight: Big Ten home dogs hold serve

By Matt Norlander

On busier Saturdays and Sundays this season, we’re not going to make you wait until the end of the slate of games to catch up with all that’s happened. Afternoon Delight (3-pointers in flight!) recaps the first five-or-so hours’ worth of action, the perfecta appetizer right before dinnertime.

A very nice win for Iowa, and so the Tebow craze continues. I think benchwarmers are starting to revolt against all that time they spend not playing. Now they’re trying to get the attention on themselves. It’s working.

The best we’ve seen so far: Kentucky 65, Tennessee 62. Now, bear in mind, this post is going up as Kansas is fending off Iowa State and San Diego State is tied with UNLV with a few minutes remaining. I’d wait ‘til those games finish, but I’ve got dinner plans. I know—I’m sorry! We’ll have coverage from that game and all the dinnertime-and-after results as the night goes on.

So anyway, UK went into Knoxville and didn’t get done like Florida got did last Saturday in an early tip. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis continue to amaze; the two combined for 35 crucial points and 20 even more crucial rebounds. Jarnell Stokes played his first game for Tennessee. He made the Vols look real, real good.

Deserving of a free dinner at the restaurant of their choice: Northwestern, hello! We can’t downplay the significant of this win, right now, for the Wildcats. They hosted Michigan State, who’d won 15 straight games, and got out with a decisive 81-74 win. There’s so much to go (I only hope NU is bubble-worthy when I see them at Indiana next month), but beating tournament teams at home gets you closer. More times than not in the past decade, I guess ever, Northwestern doesn’t beat the good teams at home.

No soup for youNorth Carolina — need I say more? Actually, I already did.

Afternoon all-stars

  1. Shabazz Napier had to play 40 minutes because Ryan Boatright is sitting again while the NCAA and UConn review his eligibility. No matter — Napier played 40 minutes, scored 16 points, only had one turnover and put up five assists. Bigtime game for the soph.
  2. I’ll have something up on Arnett Moultrie tomorrow. I talked with him a few days ago, and damn do his quotes to me sound prophetic. Moultrie and Mississippi State got a nice home W against ’Bama today, 56-62. Moultrie went for 25 points and 13 boards. He’s getting close to being a top-10 Player of the Year candidate. Monster showing.
  3. Maalik Wayns. Had THIRTY-NINE, 13 rebounds and six dimes in Villanova’s 82-78 loss at Cincy, which was a very entertaining game, might I add.
  4. Phil Pressey finished with 18 points, 10 assists, two steals and not a one giveaway in Missouri’s cruise-control home win against Texas.

Other daytime action worth your attention

  1. It was a great team effort from Iowa. The Hawkeyes nipped Michigan in Iowa City, 75-59. No chairs were damaged, and Fran McCaffery got his team to respond. Props to him and the ’Eyes.
  2. Baylor’s 106-65 killshot to Oklahoma State has to be mentioned, because it’s a look into how scary-good Baylor can be. This won’t be among the top-10 talked about results from today, but after that W over K-State on the road, and now this at home? Baylor a top-three team now, yes?
  3. Best game no one really noticed: Saint Louis finished off Charlotte 68-67, a win the Billikens absolutely had to have on the road. Top-five game of SLU’s season right there.
  4. What can I say, I have my doubts about Kansas State. Yes, this can tie into our road-woes theme, but I think the Wildcats aren’t that good. KSU never even had a lead in its 82-73 loss at Oklahoma.
  5. Oregon 59, Arizona 57 pretty much kills off the slimmest of at-large hopes Wildcats fans had. We’re talking ’Zona needing to reel off 10 straight wins to enter the bubble picture now.
  6. New Mexico and Wyoming is what we’ll close up with. The Other Big MWC Matchup finshed with New Mexico winning 72-62 on the road. Wyoming will have to steal its SDSU and UNLV home games if it wants to make a run at the tournament.

Delightful thoughts

  • Xavier rolling again after beating the Bonnies.
  • Kevin Jones took just one 3-pointer. West Virginia beat Rutgers by 24. I told ya!
  • It was 62 years ago when second-ranked Kentucky went into Knoxville and fell.
  • This is not delightful. Virginia Tech lost at Boston College. Seth Greenberg is now on the NIT bubble.
Image via Trent Condon
Posted on: January 14, 2012 4:46 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2012 4:53 pm

FSU delivers epic, dominating home upset of UNC

By Matt Norlander

This was about as grand of a that-came-out-of-nowhere blowout as you could expect in college basketball. Indeed, Florida State was at home, but home games cannot account for curb-stompings like this, not when FSU’s best prior win to this was against Virginia Tech earlier this week — and Tech isn’t a tournament team. You want the next-best in line on FSU’s resume? I’ll let you pick. UMass, Loyola Marymount, Auburn.

Deividas Dulkys had the game of his life in what could amount to one of the most surprising results of this season. (AP)

Yeah, that’s what Leonard Hamilton’s group had proven so far this season. Then the ’Noles came out and power-washed North Carolina to death, 90-57. As of this post's publishing, there are still co-eds cluttered about the floor at the Donald L. Tucker Center after the monsoon of a court-storm. Few had Florida State winning. Not even Tim Tebow had FSU by 33 points.

Florida State, which is offensively challenged in a lot of ways, averages 70 points per game, or at least it did before today. It went against so many of the terrible, slow, frustrating offensive principles it's played badly for up until now. So many facets to this beatdown weren’t foreseeable. In fact, I think it will go down as one of the five most surprising results of the season — because I don’t think UNC loses another game by double digits the rest of the way and I'm still not sure, come mid-March, FSU is an NCAA tournament team.

Among the game's best/surprising storylines, consider the biggest performance, which came from FSU senior guard Deividas Dulkys, who (averaging six points per game) was playing some of the worst basketball of his career heading into this one. He was 5-for-29 from deep in his last nine games. He scored 32 points in that run. He had 32 today! He was 8-of-10 from 3-point range and paced Florida State to an offensive performance that, sorry, won’t be duplicated this season by the Seminoles.  

A great job overall by Hamilton’s club, who in one game immediately altered its reputation, earning yet another huge win on its home floor. In the past five years, FSU’s had five wins against highly ranked teams in Tallahassee. They certainly know how to get up for the biggest games.

But they’d never been so good against a team so “great” before. God, I still can’t believe the quit I saw in North Carolina. I tried to lead with FSU because when you beat the third-ranked team at home, I think so much credit should go to the team that whoops and doesn't let up. FSU has ways to go to solidify itself in the at-large discussion, but you can’t knock on the door any harder to get into that room than the way FSU did today.

But UNC's the bigger story nationally, naturally. Its lack of toughness and abundance of carelessness was the most glaring factor to this game. For all the surprise and trend-bucking that took place, North Carolina’s lack of will was, forget out of character, it was out of species. The Heels didn’t fight back. How many loose-ball battles did FSU win? At least 10 by my unofficial eye count. UNC merely trailed by eight at the half, then decided to slow their chase once Florida State had a few more shots fall and took a few more rebounds and turned them into points.

There will be some controversy due to Roy Williams getting all of his coaches and players who were on the bench into the locker room with about 15 seconds remaining, but that's not what we should be discussing. First of all, the idea was Hamilton's, so the incoming rush of warm, teenage bodies didn't pin down UNC's team for 10 minutes. Secondly, Williams is a smart, smart man. He really is. He's one of the best at distracting the discussion from a team loss to something more trivial. When UNC got pounced by UNLV in November, the conversation was as much about Williams' anger over UNC fans selling their seats behind the bench as it was about the Heels taking an early surprising loss.

Let's not make it about that. Let's make it about a team seen as a title-contender getting outscored by 33 points. Championship-winning teams do not get beat by 33 points. Right now, UNC isn't a championship team. It wants to be one, it can be one, but it looked unlike anything I'd seen before from a Williams-coached team this afternoon.

Posted on: January 13, 2012 1:32 pm

Podcast: Harrison Barnes and Austin Rivers' roles

By Matt Norlander

No one knows ACC basketball like Jim Young, the funny/snarky presence who runs ACCSports.com. Young joins me fresh off that three-point Duke win over Virginia Thursday night. Virginia did a lot of good there. But beyond Mike Scott, what do the Cavs have?

We're smothered in ACC chatter, which isn't necessarily a good thing. But from Maryland to N.C. State to UNC to Duke to Harrison Barnes to Austin Rivers, it's all covered today. Near the end we talk some music, too (I just can't help myself).

Our gabbing goes like this:
  • From the beginning: Some introductions and remembrances of podcasts past. Then it's on to talking Duke over Virginia, focusing primarily on Virginia.
  • 6:32: How do we assemble the ACC? UNC / Duke / Virginia / everyone else? Do we group Virginia with Duke?
  • 9:17: The problem with the ACC, the biggest one, is all the bizarre results that make it seem worse since so many teams played badly out of conference.
  • 12:54: A few moments on Maryland, which is the most interesting team outside of Duke and UNC.
  • 14:58: "I ... have no idea" is the appropriate slogan for the ACC in 2011-12.
  • 16:08: North Carolina, oddly under the radar right now? And let's get going with the Barnes talk.
  • 23:53: And now it's on to Austin Rivers, who a lot of people have a lot of opinions on what he should be doing for this team. This transitions into a general Duke discussion that I think is the most interesting part of the pod.
  • 32:18: Wrapping up the chat with some music talk. And if you've got any recs, feel free to tweet them at me.

Continued thanks from me to you for keep coming back and listening. Please: spread the word. Hoops season is ramping up, and I'd love more hate mail. Spread this page and the iTunes subscription link to anyone you'd think would like this sort of think. We post three times per week, with the Wednesday show being a low-rent sitcom wannabe of a half hour, thanks to CBSSports.com national writers Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman Skyping in their opinions. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.

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Posted on: January 13, 2012 12:05 am
Edited on: January 13, 2012 1:06 am

Night Court: Home losses are the common theme

By Jeff Borzello

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

Game of the day: Looks like the MAAC is not going to be a cakewalk for Iona this season. The Gaels welcomed Manhattan into town and dominated for the first 32 minutes or so, leading by 17 with 7:58 remaining. Then the Jaspers turned on a switch and outscored Iona by 20 in the final eight minutes – capped by Emmy Andjuar’s banked-in 3 at the buzzer to give Manhattan a 75-72 victory. Go check out the video above.

Win to brag about: Wisconsin needed a win badly against Purdue – and the Badgers held off the Boilermakers for a 67-62 win. It was Purdue’s first home loss since Feb. 28, 2010. Wisconsin jumped out to a 22-4 lead on the strength of five 3-pointers, but Purdue slowly came back in the game, spurred by a nice offensive game from guard Terone Johnson. For a team that has struggled to provide secondary options to Jordan Taylor, getting five guys in double-figures was key for Wisconsin.

Win to brag about, Vol. 2: Saint Mary's continues to send a message to the rest of the WCC. After dominating BYU two weeks ago, the Gaels handled Gonzaga on Thursday night, 83-62. Potential league player of the year Rob Jones didn't score until there was 1:39 left in the game, although he grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out eight assists. Matthew Dellavedova was an absolute stud, hit several clutch 3-pointers and finishing with 26 points. The hero might have been freshman Brad Waldow, who came out of nowhere to rack up 17 points and nine rebounds. Will Gonzaga and BYU protect their respective homecourts the way Saint Mary's has done in Moraga? 

Loss to hide from: Minnesota isn’t a bad team by any stretch, but the Golden Gophers were 0-4 in the Big Ten going into Thursday night. On the other hand, Indiana had already beaten Kentucky and Ohio State at home so far this season. So what happened? Minnesota grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and forced 15 turnovers en route to a 77-74 victory. Indiana couldn’t get its shooting going, knocking down just 4-of-22 from 3-point range.

Player who deserves improper benefits: In a battle for first place in the Big South, UNC-Asheville overcame a 17-point deficit to beat Campbell. The Bulldogs improved to 6-0 in the conference behind a tremendous all-around performance from guard Matt Dickey. The senior had 19 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and two steals for UNCA.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: George Mason’s Ryan Pearson came into Thursday averaging 18.2 points per game. Against Drexel, Pearson shot just 1-for-9 from the field and finished with two points as George Mason suffered its first conference loss of the season. Pearson did grab 11 rebounds, but the Patriots needed his offense – and didn’t get it. 

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 6: Since Wes Miller took over as interim head coach for UNC-Greensboro, he had suffered six straight losses. He picked up his first win on Thursday at Charleston.
  • 47: That’s the combined number of free throws Robert Morris and Quinnipaic made on Thursday. Quinnipiac won, 78-76.
  • 6-for-26: That’s what Stanford and Utah shot from the free-throw line -- the worst combined percentage in a decade.
  • 16: That’s the number of assists Scott Machado dished out for Iona in its last-second loss to Manhattan.

Three other notable results:

  1. Virginia went 0-for-11 from 3-point range in the second half against Duke, but still had a chance to send the game into overtime. But Mike Scott and Jontel Evans both missed, giving Duke a 61-58 win. Despite the loss, Virginia is for real.
  2. Dee Bost stole the ball from Trae Golden in the final seconds and went the other way for a dunk to clinch Mississippi State’s 62-58 win over Tennessee.
  3. Murray State stayed undefeated by beating Jacksonville State, 66-55. 


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Posted on: January 12, 2012 11:41 pm

UVA loses close at Duke but proves its worth

Tony Bennett's team must be tournament-bound after seeing the way it played at Cameron Thursday night. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Matt Norlander

In a typically enlightening post from RealGM’s Dan Hanner earlier Thursday afternoon, he noted how well Virginia had played against college basketball’s better teams so far this year. In short, the Hoos have been among the best teams against the best competition.

You might not think that, though. You might think, Since Virginia’s new to the national scene, on a rebuilding plan that’s perhaps ahead of schedule, they’ve beaten pin cushions on the way to a 14-1 season. You’d be wrong in thinking that. If I’m wrong in thinking you how you were thinking, forgive me for a similar sin. Nevertheless, Check Hanner’s work. It’s great and opens up some of myster surrounding one of the nation's most surprising teams.

Thursday night, Virginia had its toughest test yet, subsequently falling at Duke, 61-58. Most will come away impressed that Tony Bennett’s team could put itself in a position to have two 3s in the final seconds with overtime in the balance. Both fell short. Eleven 3s in total clanked off the rim in the second half. None got through the hoop. That hurts. Oh for 11 from deep in a three-point losing effort isn’t morally reassuring; it’s maddening as hell.

Still, Virginia firmly established itself as a worthy No. 3 ACC team, a group that’s most likely going to navigate itself to its first NCAA tournament berth in five years — and the second in the past 11. The ACC, which saw Clemson fail to win at morbidly offending Boston College Thursday night, is on pace to indecipherably slice itself into, max, a four-bid league. Who that fourth team is — we'll be waiting a while to find out.

We know Virginia’s the third, though. Mike Scott is so much the reason for that. The player who should be on our top 10 Player of the Year chase feature is as valuable to his team as anyone in the country outside of maybe Damian Lillard at Weber State. Scott finished with a game-high 23 points and nine rebounds. In most games he’s played this season, Scott’s walked off the floor with more points than anyone else.

When Duke’s involved in a game, and particularly when Duke wins, the story’s usually about the Devils. Not Thursday night. Thursday night was about how Virginia could handle itself in the toughest gym in the country and whether it proved to be in the room with UNC and Duke. For now, it does. 61-58 is seldom sexy but almost always speaks to the team keeping the score that low. Virginia's a much superior defensive team; it also dictated pace and made Duke play its game.

If you had looked at Ken Pomeroy’s pregame head-to-head comparison of these teams (and for those who love our game but are still holding out, the kingdom of information behind Pomeroy’s paywall is college basketball’s best bargain at $20/year), you would’ve seen a disparity in reds and dark greens that seemed to heavily favor Duke.

We’ll never be able to predict what’s truly coming after the tip, though, and I’m thankful Virginia kept it closer than anticipated. (Pomeroy’s model had a 67-59 Duke win. Pretty close.) The Cavs did themselves some good tonight, even if losses in conference are always a hard thing to get down. More than halfway through a season with a decent schedule, UVA is 14-2 and looking ahead to the two ACC Tech teams in the next 10 days.

They'll win close and ugly and will most likely drop one or two bad ones. I can feel that coming. But Virginia's now the Wisconsin of the East. It's better than Wisconsin, too. More reliable now, anyway. There are holes and many areas Virginia can get better (in short: rebound the ball on the offensive end better and get a guy or two to stretch defenses), but with what they've got they're the ACC's third best. No doubt.
Posted on: January 12, 2012 2:08 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 2:16 pm

Video: Parrish gabs Syracuse and Kentucky

Gary Parrish isn't ready to declare Syracuse the best team in the country. As for Kentucky, he takes UK over UNC -- something that wasn't the case in the preseason. Parrish went on Tim Brando's radio show this morning to discuss three of the country's top teams.

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