Hoop News

Page

#1 Seeds Go Riverwalking

Villanova took care of business yesterday in a workmanlike effort, but there was nothing in it to make you think the Wildcats can’t cut down the nets next Monday.  The real test will be against the Jayhawks on Saturday.  What a game to look forward to!

Kansas and Duke did not disappoint yesterday, a thriller that reminded us of why we watch.  It was the game of the tournament.  Bill Self’s group played with a joy and confidence that has been missing in other recent tourney appearances.  Out rebounding the vaunted Duke front court by 15 was key.  And while some of Malik Newman’s shot choices had us yelling “no”, plenty of them went in in a 32 point performance.  Great stuff.

March 26

Is Texas Ready For Sister Jean?

On to San Antonio for Loyola-Chicago and it is well deserved.  They’ve arguably been the better team in each game they’ve played – and there can be no argument about last night’s methodical work against a very good K State squad.  The Ramblers will have to be less careless with the ball against Michigan, but how can anyone count them out at this point?

And speaking of Michigan, after putting up 99 points on Thursday, last night they survived a rock fight at the Staples Center.  FSU is relentless, long, tall, and with a deep bench, but you occasionally need to score.  Michigan did just enough, showing toughness and some defense of their own, and extending their winning streak to 13 games.  They’ll match up vs. Loyola’s own 14 game streak in a national semi-final no one could have seen coming.

March 25

Elite Ideas

You can argue that the Syracuse D was as effective as ever as Duke shot poorly last night, but the Blue Devils played enough defense themselves to prevail and set up a battle of the titans with Kansas tomorrow.  Having Marvin Bagley III didn’t hurt either.

And how about Chris Beard sending a higher seeded Purdue team home for the second time in three years, this time leading the dangerous Raiders of Texas Tech into elite territory for the first time ever.  This under publicized team, talented, well coached, and battle tested in the Big 12, will be ready for the big stage Sunday vs. Villanova.  Can’t wait to watch.

March 24

Thursday Night Ramblings

There may be no denying Loyola-Chicago.  This is a cohesive, tough group, with experienced guards who put on a layup clinic this evening.  What a story.  In the second game in Atlanta, a virtual home game for Big Blue Nation, the Kentucky kids proved they just didn’t have the consistency for a tourney run.

In LA John Beilein’s March reputation grows by the game.  Someone on the left side of the brackets will play for the championship.  Why not the Wolverines?  In the later action Gonzaga sorely missed injured Killian Tillie in the post, and Leonard Hamilton has his Florida State Seminoles headed into uncharted territory.

Duke, ‘Nova, Kansas take the floor Friday.  Are there even bigger upsets ahead?

March 23

How Sweet It Is

Well, so much for resolve from Sunday’s high seeds.  Syracuse’s zone was again the difference maker vs. the potent Spartans, and Cincy’s high achieving senior class went out in the most heartbreaking manner.

Is Texas A&M going to prove itself the tournament’s biggest surprise?  That isn’t the team we saw this winter, and their defense has been at championship level.  Things get much tougher against Michigan tonight.

March 22

Tale of Two Tourneys

The first weekend is as much about the stories as the games, and when has there been a better story than Loyola-Chicago and their divine 98 year old chaplain?  They’ll continue dancing in Atlanta next weekend.  Will UMBC join them in what would be the all time busted bracket?

Meanwhile the big boys were flexing their muscles yesterday as Duke and Villanova showed they’ve got their eyes fixed on the ultimate prize.  NC, Xavier, Cincinnati, and Michigan State will try to show the same resolve today.

March 18

Is the Carnage Over?

Competitive games, exciting finishes, and the requisite number of upsets was turned upside down late Friday with the Virginia stunner.  Does the chalk take over now as the potential national championship contenders get focused?

Buffalo and Loyola-Chicago in action today as strong Sweet 16 bracket busting candidates.  And don’t sleep on an athletic Nevada squad tomorrow if Cincy doesn’t bring their A game.

March 17

Wish I’d Been in Boise

Never thought I’d type that!  The first day of games, from an OT opener to a late night shocker brought us plenty of the thrills and stories that only March Madness can provide.  If you happened to be in Idaho you saw three terrific, competitive games with the higher seeds finally prevailing, and a finale with the Buffalo Bears demonstrating the kind of tough and experienced guard play that makes some mid-majors so dangerous.  And it helped that they shot the lights out.

March 16

Today Should Be a Holiday!

Tourney time – who will shock us today?

Syracuse can defend and rebound, you have to give them credit for that after the toughness they showed last night.  And Oshae Brissett deserves all the accolades he gets.

March 15

How ‘Bout Those Bonnies!

Teamwork, experience, and defense for a team with one loss in 8 weeks.  Watch out Gators, these guys aren’t done.

March 13

Bursting Bubbles

Does Davidson steal one last bid today in the A-10 final?  And who loses if the Wildcats win?  Creighton or Marquette from the Big East?  Texas?  Here’s hoping it’s not the A-10’s own  Bonnies, who had a 13 game winning streak snapped in yesterday’s semi final.

March 11

Holding Their Breath

My favorite dark horse, Middle Tennessee State, stumbled in overtime last night against Southern Miss.  Now they’ll wait until Sunday, uncertain of what should be a much deserved bid.  If they do receive an invite the room on the bubble gets a bit smaller.

And did Notre Dame and Marquette, both defeated yesterday, do enough?  The Friars of Providence might be one team that can relax, at least a little, after their thrilling victory over Creighton.

March 9, 2018

Amway Center Magic?

The University of Connecticut Huskies have done it here before.  Can they dare to dream again this week?  Probably not, but today’s SMU match up could be a confidence builder.

March 8, 2018

Survive and Advance

That was the theme for Syracuse and Notre Dame yesterday, neither of whom can afford a stumble in Brooklyn.  The Irish needed Bonzie Colson’s 19 points to escape a tussle with a Pitt squad that went winless in ACC play this year.

6th ranked Gonzaga made short work of BYU in the WCC final.  Will that bump them to the 4 line, or above?  Big East, Big 12, Pac 12, C-USA, A-10, and others all tip off today as the calendar is jammed.  UNLV opens the Mountain West tourney in the friendly confines of the Thomas & Mack Center, where the very dangerous Wolf Pack of Nevada will be favorites to cut down the nets.

And finally, it’s championship night in the Patriot, where the Bucknell Bison will try to take care of business vs. Colgate.

March 7, 2018

Victorious Vikings?

Can Cleveland State turn a 22 loss season into an automatic Horizon League bid?  They put up 89 in a win over #1 seed Northern Kentucky, then won a game where a total of 87 points were scored.  They could be a tough out for the Raiders from Wright State tonight.

March 6, 2018

Championship Week, Let the Fun Begin

Congratulations to Lipscomb, riding a 60 point first half to their first dance appearance ever.  Marquette, Texas, Syracuse, and UCLA all posted key wins on Saturday and look poised to squeak in to the First Four matchups, but some of those bids always seem to vanish with surprises in the conference tourneys.

And speaking of surprises, carnage in the always competitive MAAC has produced an Iona (4 seed) and Fairfield (6) final tonight that no one could have predicted.

March 5, 2018

Conference Tournaments!

This is such an exciting couple of weeks, and I love the one bid league tourneys where everything is on the line in each game.  The Atlantic Sun began last night and if favorites prevail we’ll have a Florida Gulf Coast vs. Lipscomb match up in the finals.  The Big South and Patriot debut today.  If heavy favorite Bucknell gets through in the Patriot League they could mean trouble for a higher seed come March – they’ve done it before.

Feb 27, 2018

This and That

Is this a sad day for college sports, or is the spotlight that is finally shining on the corrupt system going to mean some long awaited meaningful reform?  I’m going to be optimistic, for now, in the hope that a way is found to compensate these remarkable athletes within the rules.  The hypocrisy of it all is at last becoming too much to sustain.

Happier, and more local news – How about those Drexel Dragons!  Hannah would be smiling as her alma mater shocked the basketball world last night (not to mention the poor Blue Hens of Delaware), overcoming a 34 point deficit on the way to a thrilling 85-83 W, the largest comeback in D1 hoop history.

And very close to home, let’s recognize the Hartford Hawks, winners of 3 in a row and 6 of 7.  At 17-11, and tied for 2nd place at 10-4 in America East, the Hawks are poised to equal or break the school D1 record of 18 wins.

Feb 23, 2018

Who Wants a #1 Seed?

Three L’s in a row for Purdue is shaking up that top line of the brackets.  Cincinnati’s loss in Houston didn’t help clarify things either, although the Cougars are tough at home, remaining undefeated.  Michigan State?  Auburn?  Anyone?

And at the other end of the invites, can Penn State overcome a dreadful out of conference slate with a strong finish?  Crushing the 1st place Buckeyes certainly helped.

Feb 16, 2018

Big East Thoughts

Can Villanova right the ship and keep that #1 seed?  There is still time to get healthy, and this weekend’s match up with Xavier looms large – and they are still 23 – 3.  But 3’s don’t always fall, and last night 17 of 20 didn’t.  It is hard to shoot your way into April exclusively from long distance.

And how about the most improbable winning streak in many seasons?  The Johnnies are above .500 with 4 wins in a row, and apparently Chris Mullin can coach, at least with Shamorie Ponds on the floor.  An NIT invite and a run through the tourney back to Madison Square would put quite a bow on a fascinating season.

Feb 15, 2018

Previewing the Regions

East Preview
The East holds both the defending National Champion and arguably the hottest team in the country in Duke. The big questions are whether or not UNC-Wilmington and speed up Virginia enough to make them uncomfortable, and if Eastern Tennessee actually deserved to be closer to the 11 line than where they reside as a 13 seed. SMU provides matchup problems for nearly anybody in the country and probably should be a little higher than a 6 seed, but can they compete with Baylor’s size on if they both get to Sunday? It looks like Villanova should certainly end up at The Garden for the second weekend, and my guess is that they will face wither Duke or SMU to reach the Final Four.
West Preview
A big question in the West is whether or not the best team out there is the top seed. Gonzaga certainly impressed throughout the year, but Arizona going through the tough Pac 12 and winning the conference tournament shows how good they are (in case people we still wondering?). The biggest questions from the first weekend out there for me are whether the young Florida State team will show up against FGCU and their athleticism, and whether or not Princeton can slow Notre Dame down enough to keep a game in the 40s/low 50s (take the under) to score the upset.
Midwest Preview
I’m no geographer, but from a travel perspective Kansas appears to have the easiest road to Glendale of any top seed as they are setup to play in Tulsa this weekend, and their Regional site is in KC. That said, don’t sleep on Purdue and potential National POY Caleb Swanigan (Glen Robinson?) If Michigan can avoid more travel issues, remember their real uniforms, and get by high scoring Oklahoma State, that should put them in line to face a Louisville in a matchup of two teams with incredibly different conference tournaments last week. Oregon needs Dylan Brooks to heat up quickly with the loss of Chris Boucher, but he certainly is good enough to put the into the Elite Eight at least. Freshman Josh Jackson and old man Frank Mason III provide Kansas with a real chance to win the National Championship, so coupling that with two weeks of home games makes them the favorite (along with that whole 1 seed thing…)
South Preview
The South appears to be the most wide open bracket, as I can easily see any team 1-6 making it through to the Final Four (and don’t forget about Wichita State like the committee did by putting them on the 10 line). UNC is a top seed and won a tough regular season ACC, but had to leave the tournament with a sour taste in their mouth giving up a big comeback to Duke to get knocked out in the Semis. Kentucky is Kentucky, which means they are always dangerous. UCLA has to be worried about how injured Lonzo Ball’s thumb is, and maybe the possibility that his dad completely goes off the deep end and holds him out of an Elite Eight game or something. The country would be lucky to see a Sweet 16 re-match from the December game against Kentucky that was probably the game of the regular season. Blue III and Butler have had a strong year in the Big East, and Cincinnati comes out of the AAC probably one line lower than they should be.

 

 

IMG_0658 (2)

UConn/Cincy tip off in the AAC semis.  Great effort by the Huskies came up just short.

Brackets Tomorrow!

Whooo baby. What a week. Starting with Kansas and Baylor going down in the Big XII, and all the way through North Carolina blowing a lead last night there has been upsets and entertainment. Arizona beating UCLA last night probably helps them lock up a spot on the two-line, and it seems we’ve known our top four seeds for a week. The main question for today is can UConn and their backcourt keep this up on home court and possibly steal a bid? We all know that would thrill Hannah.

Lastly, what a weird week for Michigan. Starts with a near plane crash, them playing in practice uniforms, but John Beilein’s bunch just continues to win (also, neither here nor there but why is the Big 10 tournament in DC???).

Less than 36 hours until the bracket is revealed, check back after for previews of each region.

March 11, 2017

Monday Wrapup

Monday night saw some great small conference games with UNC-Wilmington, East Tennessee, and Iona clinching their spots with conference championships. Gonzaga is set up with a big game against St. Mary’s in the WCC final tonight. The other auto bids tonight are coming out of the NEC, Summit, and Horizon which has last place Milwaukee bringing their first multi-game winning streak of the year. Larger conference tournaments are getting going too, with the lower half of the ACC getting going in Brooklyn.

March 7, 2017

Weekly Roundup – Small Conference Tourney Edition

We’re off and running with multiple teams knowing they are dancing by the time you read this. Wichita State and FGCU are both alive with a chance to make noise, and Winthrop has already clinched their shot as well. Oakland was shocked in the Horizon on Saturday, so we will have somebody unexpected from that area, and Jacksonville State has also already punched their ticket.

On the major conference side, UNC looks to clinch the top overall see with a strong performance in the ACC tournament, while UCLA hopes to have a strong performance out west to cement a place on the top two lines after a lackluster performance last night.

Best two weeks of the year are upcoming folks, make sure to stay informed and involved, and hopefully you’ve saved up those sick days from work.

March 5, 2017

Weekly Roundup

Standard

Last week saw a couple upsets and a shakeup at the top of the polls. Gonzaga was shocked at home by BYU and Villanova was knocked off again by Butler. Kansas clinched yet another Big 12 Regular Season Title to keep a Braves-esque streak going, and the ACC continued to show us that we have no clue who in that league is actually any good. UCLA knocked off top 5 Arizona to throw their hat in the ring for a 1 seed, but they are competing with Pac 12 rivals Oregon and Arizona for that, so it will most likely be decided next week in Vegas.

The smaller conference tournaments are underway this week, and the regular season in larger conferences wraps up on Sunday. Most importantly, only 10 more days until Selection Sunday.

Weekly Update

Last week saw some great games, with the most notable involving Bill Self and Kansas. They scored the final 14 points to come back against West Virginia, then the final 8 on the road against Baylor for two huge conference wins on their quest for a 13th (!) straight regular season conference title.
Moving on to this week, Villanova faces two ranked teams hosting Butler on Tuesday and Creighton on Saturday. Kentucky and Florida will most likely be playing for the top seed in the SEC tournament on Saturday afternoon, and that will be followed by number 4 Arizona hosting number 5 UCLA on Saturday night. Guess this all means that everybody should be taking care of their normal weekend responsibilities on Sunday!
Three weeks until Selection Sunday.

The Committee Speaks

For the first time ever, the committee decided to give us a peek behind the curtain. One month away from Selection Sunday, they gave us what the top 16 seeds would look like were the season to end today. A couple of the big surprises were no Big 10 teams on the top four seed lines, and Gonzaga not getting much respect as the 4th one seed. No complaints from this guy about Villanova being the top seed, but I would have to disagree on Kansas and certainly Baylor being above the ‘Zags. Lots of ACC love with five teams in the top 16, which is never a surprise, but I won’t believe in Florida State or Duke until they actually win something…

Weekly Roundup

Another week down, another week closer to Selection Sunday. Gonzaga stayed impressive with a big road win over St. Mary’s, and it looks like they should finish out the regular season and head into the WCC tournament undefeated. Can they stay that way and be the first undefeated team since the ’76 Indiana team? If so I imagine we will finally stop hearing people question who they played. Big wins for Duke and UCLA last Thursday in the middle of a blizzard in the Northeast. Kansas hosts West Virginia then has to travel to Baylor on Saturday in what is certain to be a tough week for them. Which Syracuse team will we see take the floor at home tonight against Louisville? Virginia has some work to do to come back from a bad loss against Virginia Tech, but has the opportunity as they face both Duke and North Carolina this week.

Only four Sundays left until we hear from the committee with their final decisions….

A NEW SEASON

A new college basketball season is upon us and that means that we will soon reach the in season milestones such as the beginning of conference play, conference tournaments, and eventually The Big Dance. Arizona and Sean Miller had a huge win on Friday night despite multiple injuries, Indiana beat fellow blue blood Kansas, Villanova started their title defense and hopeful march towards being the first repeat champ since Florida in ’07, and Wagner started their season with an unexpected upset of UConn in Storrs. The Jimmy V classic will have us all focused on The Garden and Duke (undefeated?) in just over three weeks, and we’re just 118 days away from Selection Sunday.

Image result for kris jenkins