Tag:Duke
Posted on: January 27, 2011 4:51 pm
 

I've seen a lot of good basketball teams already

Just landed back home after a two-day trip for Kansas-Colorado and San Diego State-BYU.

I saw two nice games and three top 10 teams.

It got me thinking: Are there any relevant teams I haven't seen in person this season?

Answer: Yes.

(But not many.)

Turns out I've seen 15 of the top 20 teams in the latest AP Top 25 poll. The only exceptions are Connecticut , Texas, Villanova, Minnesota and Washington, which makes me wish I would've gone to last month's game between the Longhorns and Huskies in Austin. Live and learn, right? Anyway, what my eyeballs tell me is that you'd be wise to start any Final Four picks with Ohio State and Kansas, and probably Duke too (especially if Kyrie Irving returns before the NCAA tournament). After that, who knows? A fourth possibility could be Texas, Kentucky, Pittsburgh or either of the teams (SDSU and BYU) I watched late Monday. For now, though, I'd go with a Final Four like this:
  • Ohio State
  • Kansas
  • Duke
  • Kentucky
----- THE LATEST AP TOP 20 -----

(Bolded teams are teams I've seen in person this season.)

1.Ohio State
2. Pittsburgh

3. Duke
4. San Diego State
5. Connecticut
6. Kansas
7. Texas
8. Villanova
9. Brigham Young
10. Syracuse
11. Missouri
12. Purdue
13. Texas A&M
14. Kentucky
15. Notre Dame
16. Minnesota
17. Wisconsin
18. Washington
19. Vanderbilt
20. Illinois

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 24, 2011 3:29 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2011 3:31 pm
 

The Poll Attacks

There's always one voter who wants to be different for the sake of being different.

That voter usually ends up getting Poll Attacked.

 (I hope it was worth it, Ron.)

Let's do this!

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com.)

Associated Press poll: Duke might be America's best team, might win the national title, might finish the season ranked No. 1. Who the hell knows? But voting the Blue Devils No. 1 right now is just as silly as voting anybody but the Blue Devils No. 1 in the preseason, because there's nothing tangible to back up such a vote. For the millionth time, the games have to matter. And by any measuring stick the only team that can be voted No. 1 right now is Ohio State ... unless you just love San Diego State. Honestly, I would not ridicule anybody for ranking SDSU No. 1 because the Aztecs are obviously good and possibly great, and there's no stain on their resume to hold against them. Want to hold their schedule against them? Fine. I'm OK with that, too. That's why I have the Aztecs fourth, because they do lack quality wins. But any defense of SDSU can start with, "Yeah, but nobody has beaten them," and that's an obviously difficult thing to counter. So I guess what I'm saying is that you can do whatever you want with San Diego State, and you'll hear nothing from me. Rank them first or fourth or eighth. I'm cool with it.

But what I'm not cool with is Duke at No. 1.

How can that be justified?

The Blue Devils do have a stain on their resume, specifically that 66-61 loss at Florida State.

Beyond that, Ohio State has better wins than Duke.

Seriously, take a look:
  • Number of Duke wins vs. currently ranked teams: 1
  • Number of Ohio State wins vs. currently ranked teams: 4
Duke's only win over a currently ranked team is a home win over No. 25 Michigan State. Meantime, OSU has wins over No. 16 Minnesota (home), No. 20 Illinois (away), No. 22 Florida State (away) and No. 24 Florida (away). So by AP standards, OSU has four wins -- three of which came on the road -- better than any of Duke's wins, and one of those wins is a 58-44 win over the Florida State team that beat Duke. So to recap: OSU is 20-0 with four wins over currently ranked teams while Duke is 18-1 with one win over a currently ranked team. And OSU easily handled the team that beat Duke. And OSU (this is probably worth noting, too) didn't lose its best player to a toe injury last month.

Knowing all that, how could anybody rank Duke ahead of Ohio State?

Answer: I have no idea.

But I'd love for you to email Ron Morris from The State newspaper in South Carolina and ask him.

He's the lone AP voter ranking Duke ahead of Ohio State.

Perhaps he knows something the rest of us don't.

Or, more likely, he doesn't know any of the stuff I just referenced.

Coaches poll: I loved Baylor in the preseason.

Loved LaceDarius Dunn. Loved Quincy Acy. Loved Perry Jones. Loved the potential. But then the season began and Baylor started taking bad losses, and the Bears haven't done anything to offset them to date, which is why I can't comprehend -- neither can ESPN's Eamonn Brennan, by the way -- how some coach is still voting the Bears on his Top 25 ballot. The Bears are 13-5 with four losses to teams currently unranked in the coaches poll (Gonzaga, Iowa State, Washington State and Florida State) and one loss to a currently ranked team (Kansas). And their best win is a home win over unranked Oklahoma State. So while there might come a day when Baylor again deserves to be on a Top 25 ballot (I still like the potential of the roster), that day is most certainly not to day. So shame on the coach who voted Baylor 25th ... unless, of course, the guilty party is Baylor coach Scott Drew.

In that case, hey, I understand.

I guess.
Posted on: January 13, 2011 12:06 am
Edited on: January 13, 2011 1:53 am
 

So I was at Vanderbilt one night and ...

NASHVILLE -- Someday my grandchildren will ask where I was the night the reigning national champion and top-ranked Duke Blue Devils lost to a Florida State team that had previously lost to an Auburn team that had previously lost to pretty much everybody -- my grandchildren will probably never ask that, I know, but just play along -- and I'll look those precious little things in the eyes and mumble four words: Talking to Festus Ezeli.

That's life in this job, huh?

You drive through snow and sit in a gym with weird bench placement because a game at Memorial between Georgia and Vanderbilt figures to be among the night's best, and by the end of the night you're sitting in a gym with weird bench placement watching a TV showing Florida State fans storming the court after an improbable 66-61 victory over Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils. I mean, Florida State lost to Auburn earlier this month, and Auburn might not win another game this season unless Cecil Newton has another son who can A) really hoop, and B) get eligible by February.

Short of that, I'm not optimistic.

Auburn stinks this season.

But Auburn somehow beat Florida State.

And now Florida State has somehow beaten Duke.

So let me tell you what it means and what it doesn't mean.

It means:
  • Duke is vulnerable without Kyrie Irving.
  • Ohio State will likely be the new No. 1 on Monday afternoon.
  • Kansas and Syracuse fans will spend Monday afternoon complaining.
It does not mean:
  • Duke is seriously flawed.
  • Duke was overrated.
  • Duke can't repeat.
Just as people were over-the-top with the Duke-might-go-undefeated talking point from November until about 45 minutes ago, folks will now spend a few days picking the Blue Devils apart. It's how we do things in 2011, and it's inevitable. So let me go ahead and address the question many will ask.

Question: Does Duke have problems?

Answer: Yes.

But Duke's problems are still probably smaller than everybody else's problems.

Don't ever forget that.

Duke took a bad loss on the road late Wednesday, sure. It happens in this sport. But the Blue Devils still have two All-Americans, a terrific supporting cast and the nation's most accomplished coach. So though I understand why you might be concerned that Duke couldn't do Wednesday what Auburn did last week, focusing too much on that fun little fact is good way to skew reality and lose sight of the larger picture.

Bottom line, the Blue Devils are still really good.

They're just not perfect.

But neither is anybody else.

So my guess is that they'll be just fine.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 8, 2010 3:47 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2010 7:35 am
 

Duke's Irving out indefinitely with toe injury

Mike Krzyzewski announced early Wednesday that Kyrie Irving will miss an indefinite amount of time because of a toe injury suffered last week during Duke's win over Butler. The Hall of Fame coach then expanded on the development after the Blue Devils beat Bradley late Wednesday and said his freshman point guard "could be out a long time."

Asked if Irving could be out for the rest of the season, Krzyzewski said: "He could be. He could be."

"It's a serious injury," he added. "I can't say anything more because we are learning information, but it is serious."

The top-ranked Blue Devils are 9-0, and games against Saint Louis (Saturday), Elon (Dec. 20) and UNC-Greensboro (Dec. 29) are all that's left before they open the ACC portion of their schedule against Miami on Jan 2. In other words, rushing Irving back isn't necessary. Duke will remain undefeated even without him for a while barring a massive letdown. The first formidable road game won't come until the Blue Devils visit Florida State on Jan. 12.

So the immediate future is simple.

But can Duke's longterm goal -- i.e., a national title -- be achieved without him?

That's the question Krzyzewski doesn't want to be forced to answer but one he acknowledged he might have to late Wednesday. The McDonald's All-American was averaging 17.4 points, 5.1 assists and 3.8 rebounds through eight games, and he had established himself as a serious National Player of the Year candidate while shooting 53.2 percent from the field, 45.2 percent from 3-point range and 89.6 percent from the free throw line. Irving got 31 points last week against Michigan State. Multiple NBA scouts have told CBSSports.com that they'd take him No. 1 in June's NBA Draft.

That said, Duke can still be good without Irving.

To deny that would be wrong.

All-Americans Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler are still on the roster, you know.

But there's little debate that Irving had already transformed into the Blue Devils' best player, and how many teams in modern history could lose their best player for the season and remain on track to win a national championship? Answer: Not many. So the next 10 days will be huge for Duke and the rest of the nation in general. If tests show that rest and rehabilitation could have Irving back in late December or early January -- or anytime, really -- then Duke should remain the consensus favorite to cut nets in Houston. But if the news is more grim then things will open up, and Ohio State, Michigan State, Kansas and several other schools will suddenly have more realistic dreams of winning the NCAA tournament then they would've had otherwise.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 8, 2010 2:12 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 2:19 pm
 

Finally, a good event to start the season on tap

I've been asking -- begging is probably more accurate -- for an interesting event to start the college basketball season for a while now. Something different than, you know, Pittsburgh vs. Rhode Island, which is what we got this year. Nothing against Pittsburgh (or Rhode Island, for that matter). It's just that casual sports fans won't turn their attention to the start of the college basketball season for Panthers-Rams.

But they'll turn their attention for this (via ESPN.com's Andy Katz):
Four of the sport's top programs -- Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky -- have committed to create the Champions Classic, an early season marquee event debuting in 2011 and televised by ESPN. The first Champions Classic is set for Madison Square Garden in New York, with Duke facing Michigan State and Kentucky meeting Kansas on Nov. 15, 2011. Year 2 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta will see Michigan State vs. Kansas and Duke vs. Kentucky on Nov. 13, 2012. The third event, Nov. 12, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago, will have Michigan State playing Kentucky and Kansas playing Duke.
Yes, yes, yes!

And finally!

For too long this sport's season has started with a whimper, and most people never knew when or where it began, or with whom. Now everybody will know. ESPN has secured commitments from four of America's top programs, and the four schools will tip the next three seasons under one roof. Two will play each other, then the other two will play in a double-header format not unlike what I witnessed Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. Each team will switch opponents each year for three years. So by the time this is over we will have experienced every possible combination of Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky, and that the games will happen in the context of a high-profile event should only make them more special.

So kudos to ESPN for making this happen. And hats off to Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo, Bill Self and John Calipari for letting it happen. I haven't been this excited since Delta started adding Wifi on domestic flights. The Champions Classic is going to be epic. It's an event that's decades overdue, obviously. But as I type these words, it's less than a year away.

Posted on: December 6, 2010 7:24 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2010 1:29 pm
 

The Poll Attacks

Somebody ranked Florida 16th after a loss to UCF. Same somebody didn't even rank undefeated UCF. And that voter from the Daily Progress isn't progressing well at all. That's too bad for him. But it's great for the Poll Attacks.

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com.)

Associated Press poll: Florida returned five starters from a roster that made the NCAA tournament, and the Gators added a McDonald's All-American to the bunch. So ranking them high in the preseason made some sense. I even did it myself. But now the season has started, and the Gators are 6-2. Their losses are a lopsided loss at home to Ohio State that didn't really bother me and a surprising loss on the road to UCF that bothered me quite a bit.

But you know who wasn't bothered by it?

Scott Mansch from the Great Falls Tribune in Montana.

It didn't bother him at all.

Dude had the Gators 16th last week and 16th again this week.

(Worth noting: Florida didn't make the Top 25 (and one) or actual AP poll.)

Needless to say, this was startling. So I decided to further examine Scott's AP ballots from last week and this week and compare the two. Here's what I found: He dropped Missouri five spots for losing in overtime to No. 9 Georgetown, dropped Michigan State two spots for losing by five points on the road to No. 1 Duke. (More on this below.) But Florida? Scott kept the Gators right where they were last week on his ballot after the loss at UCF. And what makes it even sillier is that Scott didn't rank undefeated UCF at all. So he apparently believes losses to teams he and everybody else has ranked are worse than losses to unranked teams. That's all I can figure.

(Moving on …)

Does anybody know Whitelaw Reid from the Daily Progress in Virginia?

We have to sit this guy down, ASAP.

I busted him up in last week's Poll Attacks, and I thought he might listen and adjust. Alas, he did not. My man still has Villanova ranked No. 8 and Tennessee unranked despite the fact that Tennessee is undefeated with a neutral court win over Villanova. He still has Connecticut behind Michigan State, Kentucky and Washington despite the fact that Connecticut is undefeated with wins over Michigan State and Kentucky, both of which beat Washington. And he still has Missouri ahead of Georgetown despite the fact that Georgetown is undefeated with a win over -- you'll never guess -- Missouri.

That last game, a thriller, happened last Tuesday.

Do you think Whitelaw heard about it?

Do you think Whitelaw even knows the season is underway?

Coaches poll: There are lots of things I hate about how people vote in polls -- that's sort of how I stumbled into doing this every Monday -- but there's nothing I hate more than when teams drop for losing competitive games to higher-ranked teams, especially on the road. By definition, a team ranked No. 1 is supposed to beat a team ranked No. 6, particularly when the game is on the top-ranked team's home court. So it should've surprised nobody when No. 1 Duke beat No. 6 Michigan State 84-79 last week at Cameron Indoor Stadium. What's surprising is that the Spartans dropped from No. 6 to No. 8 in the coaches poll because of the loss.

Seriously, why?

What did anybody see in that loss at Duke to make them think MSU wasn't worthy of its ranking?

How many teams would've or even could've won that game in that building on that night?

So stupid.

If you want to rank Michigan State eighth, that's fine. Or put the Spartans 12th. I don't care. My point is only that there isn't a single thing that happened over the past week that should've diminished anybody's opinion of Michigan State. So wherever a voter had the Spartans last week is, at worst, where that voter should've had them this week.

For instance, I had Michigan State No. 5 last week.

Same thing this week.

Because a five-point loss on the road to the No. 1 team is no reason to drop them.
Posted on: December 3, 2010 3:35 am
 

Cameron and Allen in consecutive nights is fun

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- You can tell by the timestamps on my last two posts that this road trip I'm currently enjoying has really disrupted my sleeping habits. And by disrupted my sleeping habits, I mean I'm not really sleeping anymore.

That's not fun.

But I'd still put my past two nights up against anybody's.

I was at Michigan State-Duke Wednesday night and UCLA-Kansas Thursday night.

So in a span of 24 hours I sat courtside in what I consider to be the two neatest college basketball arenas in the country (Cameron Indoor Stadium and Allen Fieldhouse) and watched four possible Hall of Fame coaches (Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzewski, Ben Howland and Bill Self) compete in two high-level games. Duke's Kyrie Irving was the story late Wednesday, a questionable call was the story late Thursday. And now I'm just anxious to see what the story will be early Saturday, because I'm getting ready to fly back to North Carolina for this weekend's showdown between Kentucky and North Carolina.

I'll be inside the Dean Smith Center for tipoff.

I won't mind seeing another freshman dominate and be a star.

What I would mind seeing is another referee ruin a good competition.
Posted on: December 2, 2010 4:14 am
Edited on: December 2, 2010 9:40 am
 

Dude, where's my (rental) car?

DURHAM, N.C. -- You know what's worse than walking out of Cameron Indoor at 2:30 a.m.?

Walking out of Cameron Indoor at 2:30 a.m. and not being able to find your rental car for 30 minutes when it's really cold outside. Seriously, that's the most depressed I've been in at least a month. If not for an assist from a campus police officer, I'd probably still be stumbling around looking for my car, hating myself and pretty much everything else in this world. So allow me to offer a big thanks to the Duke campus police. You guys are as important to me as Kyrie Irving is to your basketball team.

You saw Irving, didn't you?

He was tremendous in Duke's 84-79 win over Michigan State.

Next up for him is Saturday's game against Butler.

Next up for me is Thursday's game between UCLA and Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse.

I'm flying there in a few hours.

Gonna try to not lose my car on this portion of the trip.

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