Posted on: March 3, 2008 12:58 am

What You Need To Know

Kentucky couldn't handle Tennessee.

Arizona couldn't handle Kevin Love.

Here's Monday morning's edition of What You Need To Know.

Notable game from Sunday: Tennessee moved closer to its first outright SEC title in 41 years by edging Kentucky at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vols squandered a big early lead but held on to win 63-60. It was their 31st consecutive home victory, one that came thanks to a 15-point effort from Tyler Smith.

Notable performance from Sunday:  Kevin Love finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds while leading UCLA to a 68-66 victory at Arizona. The 6-foot-10 freshman made 7-of-12 field goal attempts and 10-of-11 free throws to record his 18th double-double of the season. He's now averaging 17.3 points and 11.1 rebounds per contest.

Notable game scheduled for Monday: Gonzaga will try to win its sixth consecutive outright West Coast Conference title when it hosts Santa Clara in a contest set to tip at 11:30 p.m. ET. The Zags are 23-6 overall, 12-1 in the WCC. They've won 14 of their past 16 games, including Saturday's showdown with Saint Mary's. Santa Clara is 14-14 overall, 6-7 in the WCC. And though the Broncos are a heavy underdog, it's worth noting they are the last team to beat Gonzaga at the McCarthey Athletic Center. That happened last season when Santa Clara handed the Zags their first home loss in 51 outings. Gonzaga is 51-3 all-time in the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 1, 2008 10:08 pm

I like you Texas (but you blew it)

Texas cost itself the top ranking.

I feel like I should tell you that now.

I spent part of Saturday morning crunching numbers, looking at every bit of information available. I came to the conclusion that if Texas won at Texas Tech I'd move the Longhorns to No. 1 in Sunday night's Top 25 (and one) based mostly around the facts that they had won eight consecutive games and comprised a list of victims (Tennessee, UCLA and Kansas) that no other elite team can match.

And then guess what happened?

Texas lost.

To a Texas Tech team that spent Wednesday losing to Texas A&M by 44 points. And that's a Texas A&M team that spent Saturday losing by 27 points to Oklahoma. And that's an Oklahoma team that spent Wednesday losing by 18 points to Nebraska. And that's a Nebraska team that spent Saturday losing by 14 points to Oklahoma State. And that's an Oklahoma State team that has endured a six-game losing streak this season.

So yeah, things are now a mess.

Should I put North Carolina No. 1 even though its top win is against Clemson?

Or should I put Memphis No. 1 even though it just lost at home to Tennessee?

Or should I put Tennessee No. 1 even though it just lost at Vanderbilt?

Or should I put UCLA No. 1 if it wins at Arizona on Sunday?

At this point, I'm not sure.

I'll figure it out in the next 20 hours, I guess.

But I would've had Texas No. 1 if it won at Texas Tech on Saturday.

I feel like I should tell you that now.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Texas
Posted on: February 29, 2008 5:28 pm

Friday was a terrible day for Kentucky basketball

Remember what I wrote about Kentucky being on the verge of making the NCAA Tournament?

I'd like to take it all back, if you don't mind.

Because it's a longshot at best (a hopeless proposition at worst) now that Patrick Patterson is out with a stress fracture in his left ankle. The injury means Kentucky will play the rest of the season -- including Sunday at Tennessee -- without its second-leading scorer and leading rebounder. And if you're wondering how that team might do you should probably look at the box score from the Wildcats' game at Houston two months ago, when they had to play without Patterson.

Final score: Houston 83, Kentucky 69.

And that's not a good Houston team, mind you.

That's a Houston team whose next best win is a victory over a UTEP team that is just 7-6 in Conference USA. So if that Houston team can beat Kentucky sans Patterson by 14 points it's scary to think what a Tennessee team that is ranked No. 1 in the country might do to the Wildcats.

But that's not the point I'm trying to make.

The point I'm trying to make is that this is just awful -- for Patterson as a player, Billy Gillispie as a coach, Kentucky as a program and UK fans as a group. It's usually difficult to find sympathy for powerhouses, and in college basketball there is no greater powerhouse than the folks that call Rupp Arena home. But this development is a kick to the stomach that comes just when UK fans' stomachs were starting to settle after that unsettling 7-9 start. The NCAA Tournament seemed within reach 24 hours ago, seemed like a realistic proposition. But Patterson's injury has ripped away any realistic hope that Kentucky can finish where it wants to finish, and that seems grossly unfair ... even for a powerhouse.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 29, 2008 10:37 am

What You Need To Know

Wisconsin is in good shape in the Big Ten.

Luke Harangody is in good shape in the Big East Player of the Year race.

Here's Friday morning's edition of What You Need To Know.

Notable game from Thursday: Wisconsin remained tied in the loss column atop the Big Ten standings (with Indiana and Purdue) thanks to a 57-42 victory over Michigan State. Looking ahead, this could be the win that gives the Badgers the league title because their final two regular season games are against Penn State (home) and Northwestern (away). Meantime, Indiana still has to go to Michigan State and Purdue still has to go to Ohio State. In other words, Wisconsin's remaining schedule is the most favorable -- which makes the Badgers the wise pick at this point.

Notable performance from Thursday: Luke Harangody did nothing to damage his charge towards a Big East Player of the Year honor in Notre Dame's 90-85 loss at Louisville. Sure, it would've been nice if he, you know, wouldn't have lost the game. But the sophomore forward finished with 40 points and 12 rebounds on a 16-of-28 shooting effort that included the first, second and third 3-pointers of his career. Harangody's point total was the higest by a Notre Dame player since Monty Williams scored 42 against Valpo in 1993.  It was Harangody's 17th double-double of the season.

Notable game scheduled for the weekend: West Virginia sure could use a solid road win to bolster its resume, and Saturday's contest at Connecticut provides an opportunity. The Mountaineers are 0-4 in road games against Top 100 opponents -- losing at Louisville, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Villanova. Their best road win came at Providence. So this is huge for West Virginia, and if it loses here and then at home to Pittsburgh next week its NCAA Tournament hopes could be in serious jeopardy.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 28, 2008 6:01 pm

Watch your throat, Doug Gottlieb

Thank you God.

Or Norby Williamson.

Or whoever it is that got this deal done. Because what you've created is an opportunity for television greatness. And by greatness, I mean the possibility that Bob Knight will take Digger Phelps' highlighter and stick it up his you-know-what live on the air. Can't wait to see Hubert Davis take issue with Knight's halftime breakdown. Or what happens when some production assistant tries to tell Knight he needs to sit up straight or look directly into the camera.

Seriously, the possibilities are limitless.

Which is why I'm thrilled ESPN has reached an agreement with Bob Knight.

He'll join the network for its NCAA Tournament coverage, and is there any chance this thing goes off without incident?

My guess: Absolutely not.

Knight has been so volatile in so many on-camera situations throughout the years-- just do a YouTube search, you'll see -- that it's difficult to imagine him not snapping at some point, and all any of us can hope is that when it happens the cameras are rolling. Barring a major letdown, he's either gonna call Jimmy Dykes an MFer, choke Doug Gottlieb or throw Jay Bilas' chair straight across the set. So again, thank you God ... and get ready for your name to be taken in vain live from Bristol.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Bob Knight
Posted on: February 28, 2008 12:25 am
Edited on: February 29, 2008 10:21 am

What You Need To Know

Arkansas lost on the road.

Larry Bird lost a record.

As did Steve Nisenson.

Here's Thursday morning's edition of What You Need To Know.

Notable game from Wednesday: Arkansas' road woes continued with a 59-56 loss at Alabama that has the Hogs at risk of missing the NCAA Tournament despite starting the season in the Top 20. Arkansas is now 18-9 overall, 7-6 in the SEC and 2-6 in true road games. The Hogs have five losses outside the Top 100. Their best road win is at Auburn. Their best overall win is against Baylor. And somewhere, I'm guessing, Stan Heath must be chuckling, at least a little.

Notable performance from Wednesday: Move over, Larry Bird, because the 44 points you scored in 1977 at Hofheinz Pavilion are no longer the most in the building's history -- not after Robert McKiver dropped 52 on Southern Miss in a 95-67 victory. McKiver sank 17-of-34 shots -- including 7-of-17 3-point attempts -- while also hitting 11-of-12 free throws. Add it up and it equals 52, the most for a Houston player since Elvin Hayes got 55 against Southwestern in 1955.

(Another) Notable performance from Wednesday: Antoine Agudio finished with 24 points in Hofstra's 74-69 loss to Delaware. That's no big deal on the surface, I know. But it's worth noting that the effort pushed Agudio past Steve Nisenson (2,222 career points) and into the top spot on the school's all-time scoring list. Agudio broke the 43-year-old record with an 18-foot jumper early in the second half. He'll take 2,236 career points into Saturday's game against Drexel.

Notable game scheduled for Thursday: There are three teams -- Georgetown, Louisville and Notre Dame -- tied in the loss column atop the Big East standings, but that'll change when the final buzzer sounds on this Notre Dame-Louisvlle showdown set for Freedom Hall. The Irish (21-5 overall, 11-3 in the Big East) enter having won eight of their past nine games while Rick Pitino's Cards (22-6 overall, 12-3 in the Big East) have won seven straight. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 27, 2008 2:53 am

What You Need To Know

Vandy beat a good team.

New Mexico still hasn't.

Here's Wednesday morning's edition of What You Need To Know.

Notable game from Tuesday: Vanderbilt did what it always does to top-ranked teams that dare enter Memorial Gym, which is to say the Commodores sent them home humbled. Tennessee was the victim this time. The Commodores beat the Vols 72-69. They've now won their past four meetings against top-ranked opponents in Nashville, a stretch that includes last year's win over eventual national champion Florida. Shan Foster had 32 points for Vanderbilt. Jermaine Beal added 17.

Notable performance from Tuesday: Trent Plaisted hit two free throws with 5.7 seconds remaining to finish with 23 points in BYU's 70-69 overtime victory at New Mexico. Plaisted made 9-of-15 field goal attempts to reach double-figures for the 22nd time this season, and it was an effort that ripped the momentum out of New Mexico's NCAA Tournament hopes because a win for the Lobos would've given them the signature victory they so desperately need. As it stands, Steve Alford's team is still winless against the Top 50 at, and now New Mexico must beat UNLV next week or run the risk of being omitted from the NCAA Tournament despite a current record of 22-6.

Notable game scheduled for Wednesday: Kentucky's attempt to get back into serious NCAA Tournament consideration will continue when the Wildcats host Ole Miss at Rupp Arena at 8 p.m. ET. UK got off to a horrendous start, and for a number of reasons. But Billy Gillispie now has a team that's won eight of its past 10 games -- including home victories over Tennessee and Arkansas -- and it's no longer absurd to think the Wildcats can earn an at-large bid, if only because the 'bubble teams' also under consideration for the NCAA Tournament are similarly underwhelming. At any rate, the experts who counted out UK long ago -- and yes, I'm including myself in that bunch -- might end up looking stupid if the Wildcats handle Ole Miss because they'll then be 16-10 overall and 10-3 in the SEC. Is that great? No. But it just might be good enough for this particular season.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 26, 2008 6:56 pm

Did Pearl promise to kick Vandy's ass too?

NASHVILLE -- I don't believe Bruce Pearl is delivering a pep talk at a bar today.

And that's unfortunate.

Because his pregame speech to Tennessee fans at Jillian's in downtown Memphis over the weekend was fabulous, if only because he explained how the plan was to "kick Memphis' ass." Honestly, can you think of any other high-profile coach who would yell and sing with fans before coaching the biggest regular season game of his career?

I can't.

But Pearl did.

And you can click this link to see it all go down.

Meantime,  we're about two hours from UT's first game ever as a No. 1 team, and it's not going to be an easy task. It's cold and windy here in Nashville, but Memorial Gym should still be wild enough to create a scene similar to the one at FedExForum three days ago. Of course, the Vols handled that OK, escaped with a 66-62 win over then-top-ranked Memphis. But they've dropped three of their past four games in this building, which is at least partly why Vegas has made Tennessee just a 2-point favorite.
Category: NCAAB
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