by Terrence Mayrose
Coaches Get On Board With the T & 2
Finally ! Finally ! Finally ! Yes, I screamed that three times in the past week while watching Rutgers upset Georgetown, the Celtics beat the Kings, and, most recently, Syracuse knock off Georgetown. Why was I so excited about an awful NJ school, an elderly team whose fans have awful accents, and a whiny coach who won’t play man to man ? Simple. In the final seconds, THEY ALL FOULED; UP THREE….and of course… THEY ALL WON .
I couldn’t believe it. I was elated. As the texts from T and 2 readers like James Alberino, John Strange, Jon Snediker and Bill Hassett rolled in throughout the week, I just kept smiling. By the time Syracuse hacked up three, I had perfected the Judd Nelson-Breakfast Club fist pump.
Clearly, coaches are coming around on what I find to be the simplest decision in sports. Based on the easy logic that it’s harder for your opponent to : hit the first free throw, miss the second, get the rebound, and then score; than it is to simply hit a three pointer. Hats off to Fred Hill, Doc Rivers, and Jim “whine about expansion even though he’s headed for a #1 seed this year” Boeheim for showing some logic. Now we’re waiting for John Thompson III, who just watched the theory burn him, not once but twice, to start hacking late.
Texas Basketball a Season Long Roller Coaster Ride
Rick Barnes must be pretty confused trying to figure out what exactly is going on with his team. After a 17-0 start, the Longhorns are 3-6 in there last nine; dropping to 6-5 in Big 12 play. While Barnes is probably trying to convince himself it’s just a rough patch for a talented team, he may want to look a little closer at exactly what his squad has done this year…which, by my account, isn’t much.
Texas is very talented and has a clear superstar in Damion James so, there’s no question
as to whether they have the talent to play with the best, its just a matter of actually beating the best. However, the Longhorns have struggled to do that this year. Barnes’ squad has impressive wins over #11 Michigan State, #21 Pittsburgh and #23 Texas A&M but losses to #7 Kansas State, UCONN, #22 Baylor, #1 Kansas, and Missouri; proving that the Longhorns are not an elite team, which is what everyone in the country wants to be heading into March.
Trips to A&M and Baylor, with a fine showing in the Big 12 Tourney may be what James and company need to change their elite status, but don’t expect it. The T and 2 is expecting to cross Texas off with a second round upset in the Big Dance.
Who Are The Elite Teams In NCAA Basketball?
In order of most expected to win a title by the T and 2 : Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, West Virginia, Duke, Villanova, Kansas State, and Gonzaga. It’s an eight team race, and if you’re
wondering why Purdue is not on the list, look no further than the fact that they play in the snail’s pace Big Ten. Ohio State and future pro Evan Turner may be the only team who can change that belief but, until now, we’re sticking with those eight, with Kansas and Kentucky as clear favorites to meet in the final.
Bracket Busters Take Center Stage
This weekend is a time for hoopsters to educate themselves. ESPN is promoting its Bracket Buster weekend, which gives fans a chance to get an early look at teams you’ll be thankful you watched once March rolls around. Some of the games and teams you need to see :
Friday- Old Dominion (21-7) at Northern Iowa (23-3), Cornell (21-4) at Harvard (17-5)
Saturday: Siena (22-5) at Butler (24-4), Morgan State(20-8) at Murray State (25-3) 4 PM,
UTEP (19-5) at Tulsa (19-7) (CBS-CS) 11:59 PM, Wichita State (22-6) at Utah State (21-6 )(ESPN2).
The T and 2 is most intrigued by Northern Iowa (currently a 7 seed in Bracketology) Butler (6 seed in Bracketology) and Murray State (12 seed in Bracketology). Questions to ask yourself while watching : Is Northern Iowa good enough to be knock off an overrated two seed in the second round ? Is Butler as good as it current winning streak indicates ? Can Murray State pull off the virtually annual “12/5” upset ?
Time for These ACC Basketball Fans to Cross Their Fingers
Duke : Good news Blue Devils faithful , just five more games and Duke has officially survived February, a month that’s haunted them in recent years.
Maryland : At 18-7 (8-3) and one of Joe Lunardi’s last four teams in the tourney things look solid for the Terps. The final 5 vs Georgia Tech, Clemson, @ Virginia Tech, Duke, and @ Virginia will be the deciding factor. T and 2 estimates that a 3-2 or 4-1 stretch will cement them as tourney worthy, anything less and it’s time for James Lopez and fans to begin worrying…or moping… whichever you prefer.
Virginia Tech : Currently 21-4 (8-3) the Hokies are currently seeded as a #11. Eleven?! Why ? Very simply, a non-conference, strength of schedule rated a dismal 332nd by kenpom.com . VT will need to grab an impressive win(or wins) over Duke,Georgia Tech or Maryland down the stretch or it will watch it’s seed fall even further. Don’t feel too sorry for them though, as this is the team that scheduled such “powerhouses” as Charleston Southern, Maryland- Baltimore County, and Longwood in a three game stretch around the holidays. Clearly “gift” wins.
Just three weeks until Selection Sunday….a national holiday here at the T and 2.