Posted on: March 8, 2008 8:22 am
Southern Illinois will miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001.
That's the result of Friday night's 54-49 loss to Northern Iowa in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley Conference, a game in which the Salukis missed three 3-point attempts in the final 35 seconds and 18 of the 24 they attempted overall. That's why they lost, in simple terms. But on some level it was a fitting ending given how SIU's main problem all season has been the ability to make shots -- 3-pointers or otherwise.
SIU ranks 216th nationally in 3-point field goal percentage.
SIU ranks 210th nationally in 2-point field goal percentage.
SIU ranks 107th nationally in free throw percentage.
So while it might be true that defensive wins championships, the reality is that a respectable offense certainly helps. And the Salukis have been offensively challenged all season, proof being how they've been held to less than 57 points in 10 of their 13 losses.
Posted on: March 7, 2008 11:27 am
Edited on: March 8, 2008 8:23 am
UCLA won the Pac-10 again.
Providence beat UConn again.
Here's Friday morning's edition of What You Need To Know.
Notable game from Thursday: Darren Collison sank two free throws to force overtime, then helped UCLA run away from Stanford in the extra period to claim a 77-67 victory. The win gave the Bruins their third consecutive Pac-10 title, making Ben Howland the first UCLA coach since John Wooden to win three straight league titles.
Notable performance from Thursday: Weyinmi Efejuku finished with 25 points on an 8-of-16 shooting effort to lead Providence to an 85-76 win against Connecticut. It was the Friars' second win over UConn this season, though Efejuku didn't have as much to do with the previous one. He got just two points in 12 minutes last time. But the junior guard has now scored 25 points in two of his past four outings.
Notable game scheduled for Friday: Southern Illinois has made six consecutive NCAA Tournaments, but if the Salukis want to continue that streak they'd better beat Northern Iowa in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Louis. Chris Lowery's team is 17-13 heading into the game, as is Northern Iowa. Tip-off is set for 9:35 p.m. ET.
Posted on: March 6, 2008 11:00 pm
The response to my column about Dennis Felton has been back and forth with some saying Georgia would be showing a lack of class to remove him given the circumstances while others claim that bigtime college basketball is a bottom line business where winners stay employed and losers get fired. Honestly, I understand both points. But one thing I felt compelled to address is the notion that Felton shouldn't be given a pass for dismissing Mike Mercer and Takais Brown because they were his recruits, meaning if Felton would have been a better judge of character in the recruiting stage he never would've had to dismiss anybody.
Technically, that's true.
But what people need to understand is that Mercer and Brown weren't out robbing banks, starting riots, driving drunk or hitting girls. You can say they were bad guys if you want. But it's important to remember they weren't any worse than many of the guys playing at most colleges right now, and they certainly had less problems. In other words, Felton didn't recruit bad guys any more than Tennessee and Pittsburgh and New Mexico State and Memphis recruited bad guys. The only difference is that when Felton got his guys to campus he -- and Georgia, in general -- tried to hold them to a higher standard, and Mercer and Brown couldn't meet that standard. So they were dismissed. But make no mistake, if Mercer and Brown played at Tennessee, Pitt, New Mexico State, Memphis or most other colleges they'd still be playing today the same way Duke Crews, Levance Fields, Herb Pope and Jeff Robinson are still playing today.
And Felton's job wouldn't be in jeopardy if Mercer and Brown were still playing today.
That's the reality of the situation.
As it is, his job is in serious jeopardy -- but not because he recruited bad kids. Rather, because he tried to hold typical kids to a standard most programs don't even strive to meet. And it'll be sad if that's what gets Felton fired because it'll send a clear message to the next coach that he better be willing to compromise his integrity if he wants to remain employed.
Posted on: March 6, 2008 12:04 am
Tennessee clinched its first outright league title in 41 years.
Shan Foster scored 42 points for the first time in his career.
Here's Thursday morning's edition of What You Need To Know.
Notable game from Wednesday: Tennessee set a school-record for victories by overcoming a 16-point deficit and holding on for an 89-86 victory at Florida. The win pushed the Vols to 27-3 overall, 13-2 in the SEC. More importantly, it clinched their first outright league title in 41 years and pretty much ensured they will earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament as long as they do not lose at home this weekend to South Carolina.
Notable performance from Wednesday: Shan Foster -- he of the column-worthy first name -- sank a game-winning 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds remaining in overtime to lead Vanderbilt to an 86-85 victory against Mississippi State. The Commodores' all-time leading scorer finished with a career-high 42 points, thanks mostly to the fact that he made his final nine 3-point attempts. The effort helped Vandy finish 19-0 at Memorial Gym, a place where it has won 32 of its past 33 contests.
Notable game scheduled for Thursday: The two best teams in the Pac-10 featuring the the best big men in the Pac-10 will get together for the second time this season when No. 3 UCLA and No. 7 Stanford meet at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins are 26-3 overall, 14-2 in the league and led by freshman Kevin Love, who is averaging 17.3 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. The Cardinal is 24-4 overall, 13-3 in the league and led by sophomore Brook Lopez, who is averaging 19.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. UCLA has won 10 of its past 11 games. Stanford has won 11 of its past 12 games. If the Bruins win they will earn their third consecutive outright Pac-10 title. Tip-off is set for 11 p.m. ET.
Posted on: March 5, 2008 12:39 am
Edited on: March 5, 2008 12:40 am
Ohio State got a rare Top 50 win.
Michael Beasley had a less-than-rare 30-point effort.
Here's Wednesday morning's edition of What You Need To Know.
Notable game from Tuesday: Jamar Butler got 23 of his 25 points after halftime to lead Ohio State to an 80-77 overtime victory against 15th-ranked Purdue, one that gave the Buckeyes their first win in 10 tries against a Top 50 opponent at CollegeRPI.com. The victory pushed OSU to 18-12 overall, 9-8 in the Big Ten and into fifth place in the league. Purdue dropped to 23-7 overall, 14-3 in the Big Ten and into second place in the league, one game back in the loss column from Wisconsin.
Notable performance from Tuesday: Michael Beasley was stellar in what was -- barring something really stupid -- his final game at Bramlage Coliseum, finishing with 33 points and 14 rebounds in Kansas State's 78-72 victory over Colorado. The 6-foot-10 freshman and likely top pick in June's NBA Draft sank 12-of-22 shots and 8-of-10 free throw attempts while recording his 26th double-double. It was Beasley's fourth consecutive 30-point game, one that snapped the Wildcats' four-game losing streak and pushed them into third place in the Big 12 standings.
Notable game scheduled for Wednesday: Florida remains very much on the bubble thanks to a 1-5 record against the Top 50 at CollegeRPI.com and a body of work that features just one victory over a probable NCAA Tournament team (Vanderbilt). But the Gators (21-8, 8-6 in the SEC) have an opportunity to enhance their postseason credentials with this game against fourth-ranked Tennessee (26-3, 12-2 in the SEC). Problem is, these teams have already met once. It was last month in Knoxville, where the Vols exploded late to record a 104-82 victory. If UT wins again it will clinch at least a share of the SEC title and then Florida will almost certainly need a win at Kentucky this weekend to remain in decent shape as it pertains to earning an at-large bid. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. ET.
Posted on: March 4, 2008 7:19 pm
Cliff Hammonds practiced Tuesday with what was described by the Clemson staff as "basically a cast" on his broken wrist and is expected to play Thursday at Georgia Tech.
The news is a nice development for the Tigers -- who have won four of their past five games, including showdowns with likely NCAA Tournament teams Miami and Maryland -- because having to go without Hammonds would mark the third time this season Clemson has played without at least one starter. James Mays missed five games in November and December and Demontez Stitt missed two games last month with injuries. Those two plus Hammonds account for 31.3 points, 12.7 rebounds and 9.0 assists per contest.
Coincidentally, Hammonds is from Georgia, about 230 miles from the Georgia Tech campus.
He had 22 points in an 82-67 victory against the Yellow Jackets last month.
Posted on: March 4, 2008 9:22 am
Pat Knight set another record.
Joe Alexander matched his career high.
Here's Tuesday morning's edition of What You Need To Know.
Notable game from Monday: Texas Tech kept its win-one-in-an-impressive-manner/los
e-one-by-a-huge-margin streak intact by getting hammered at Kansas. The Red Raiders lost 109-51. So Pat Knight has already set the record for the worst loss in school history. Twice. Even though he has only coached nine games. Knight lost by 44 points to Texas A&M last week. That was the record until he -- after somehow beating Texas -- lost to Kansas by 58. "I feel like someone put a meat necklace around my neck and threw me into a lion's den," Knight said, and while providing that quote the rookie coach became the first coach to ever use the term meat necklace. Nice term.
Notable performance from Monday: Joe Alexander got 32 points on a 10-of-16 shooting effort to lead West Virginia to a 76-62 victory over Pittsburgh that pushed the Mountaineers into sixth place in the Big East standings. The 32 points were 27 more than Alexander scored in last month's loss at Pitt. They also matched his career high.
Notable game scheduled for Tuesday: Ohio State is on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble following Saturday's loss at Minnesota, which makes this contest with 15th-ranked Purdue all the more important. The Buckeyes (17-12, 8-8 in the Big Ten) are a dismal 0-9 against the Top 50 at CollegeRPI.com, losing to Tennessee, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Indiana (twice), Butler, Purdue and Texas A&M. Their best wins to date are against Syracuse and Florida, meaning anything less than a strong finish will likely send Thad Matta to the NIT for the first time in his eight seasons as a head coach. Meantime, Matt Painter has no such problems. His Boilermakers (23-6, 14-2 in the Big Ten) are in position to win their first league title since 1996. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET.
Posted on: March 3, 2008 6:37 pm
I'm gonna blow your mind this week.
Usually, I ridicule the ballot of some AP voter, make him look stupid for voting like a stupid person. But this week I'm mixing it up and instead choosing to highlight a voter in a positive way. So yeah, it's like Opposite Day here at the Poll Attacks.
But don't get used to it.
This is a one-time deal, I'm certain.
AP poll: Dear Brett Jensen.
I come to compliment you because you are the only AP voter who kept Tennessee No. 1 despite the Vols losing last Tuesday at Vanderbilt, and I must tell you I admire the you-know-what it takes to make that statement. Not that I totally agree. If I did I would've kept UT No. 1 myself. But what I like is that you took the time to invoke common sense and presumably ask yourself why you should drop a team from the top spot for losing a game that any of the other elite programs in the conversation for No. 1 -- North Carolina, Memphis and UCLA -- would've probably lost themselves.
I mean, Vanderbilt is good.
The Commodores have won 18 straight at home.
They have topped the last four No. 1 teams to enter their gym.
So I like that you decided not to penalize the Vols for losing such a stiff test when the other elite teams -- particularly Memphis -- had no similar test this week (UCLA at Arizona being the only possible exception). And speaking of Memphis, I love that you, like me, can't understand why anybody would have Memphis ahead of Tennessee at this point given that UT just beat Memphis in Memphis. The only thing that has happened since that game is that Tennessee lost a ridiculous road test and Memphis got back to playing in Conference USA. Great teams lose in the SEC. Great teams do not lose in C-USA. And so it makes no sense for Tennessee to fall below Memphis only because the Vols happen to play in a legitimate league where even elite teams run the risk of losing every once in a while, and I just wanted you to know that I like the way you think.
PS -- One last thing, Brett. I just noticed you work for CUTigers.com, a site dedicated to Clemson athletics. I like Clemson. You'll see that if you read my attack on the Coaches poll. But you have Clemson ranked four spots higher than any other AP voter, and you can't do that given that you write for CUTigers.com. Between you and me, it just looks a little homerish to have Clemson 15th when no other voter has the Tigers higher than 19th. So work on that, if you can. I'm just trying to help. And again, good job on the Tennessee thing.
Coaches poll: How is Clemson not in this Top 25?
The Tigers are the third-place team in what the RPI considers to be the nation's toughest league. They are 21-7 overall with wins over four schools -- Miami, Purdue, Mississippi State and Maryland -- listed as at-large bids in the latest Projecting the Field, and three of their losses came to top five teams (twice to No. 1 North Carolina and once to No. 5 Duke). Still, Clemson remained unranked this week. And the only explanation is that the voting coaches must've finished their ballots before the Tigers came back from a 20-point deficit and beat Maryland at the buzzer.
Short of that or a similar gaffe, omitting Clemson is just wrong.
The Tigers have more Top 40 wins (three) than Butler, Gonzaga, BYU and Mississippi State.
They have fewer losses outside the Top 100 (zero) than UCLA, Connecticut, Purdue, Michigan State and Drake.
Regardless, those nine schools are all ranked.
But Clemson is not.
And this is the kind of stuff that makes the Poll Attacks work.