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The Triangle and Two: A Weekly Look at the Ups and Downs of College Basketball

January 30, 2010 under College Basketball, The Triangle and Two

by Terrence Mayrose

Kentucky Basketball Falls From Its perch.  Who’s Next? wildcats_logo

The 75-76’ Indiana Hoosiers can breathe a little easier now that Kentucky, the last remaining unbeaten team this season, has suffered it’s first loss to South Carolina.  Led by an array of tough, clutch, and “how the hell did he hit that” shots from Devan Downey, the Gamecocks made Kentucky’s stay atop the polls very short.

The recent upset of John (“ never actually been to a Final Four”) Calipari, John (“one and done”) Wall and Kentucky as well as the memories of Mario Chalmers trey to beat an undefeated Memphis in 08’ show that even the best of the best can take a loss.  Which makes hoopsters wonder: Will there ever be another undefeated champion ?

Devan Downey dropped thirty in the 68-62 upset, and put himself on the map as one of the nation’s best scorers; although Gamecockdevan_downey faithful will be quick to tell you that he’s no fluke.  The Chester, S.C. native spurned his home state by electing to attend Cincinnati as a freshman. After posting 11.9 ppg in his freshman year,  Downey decided to come home, and it’s been all good since.  After sitting out the ’06-’07 season, Downey’s scored 18.4 ppg (07-08),and 19.8(08-09).  He’s even better this season as Downey’s 22.4 ppg leads the SEC.  With a scorer like this, and a decent record, 12-8 (3-3), The Gamecocks have a shot to be a dark horse in the SEC tournament. After all, they have shown they can play with (and beat) the best.

Now that no unbeatens remain,  who is the  frontrunner for a national title?  With such a crop of great teams atop the polls there may not be just one, but Kansas stands out. Bill Self’s crew is currently 19-1 with their only setback to #14 Tennessee. A January 30th trip to #13 Kansas State, and Feb 8th trip to #6 Texas could yield two wins that would give the Jayhawks the most impressive resume in the country. It should also be noted that Kansas currently ranks 2nd in both Offensive and Defensive Efficiency and you know how much we like that.

Speaking of frontrunners… CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish points out that the end of January is a great time to find out who will make the Final Four. Parrish stated that in the past five seasons, at least three of the Final Four teams (all four in ’08) have been in the Top Ten during the last week of January. Remember to refer back to this in March when filling out your sheets. Kentucky, Kansas, Villanova, Syracuse, Michigan State, Texas, Georgetown, Duke, West Virginia and Purdue are your current candidates.

The Triangle and Two: A Quick Look at the Ups and Downs of College Basketball

by Terrence Mayrose

Pitt Basketball In Good Hands

It seemed pretty clear entering this season that Pitt would be “rebuilding” after losing a veteranJamieDixon core of Levance Fields, Dejuan Blair, Sam Young, & Tyrell Biggs that was seconds away from the Final Four. It would be hard to blame the Panthers for a mediocre season after losing so many talented players; although it seems as if Jamie Dixon, 2009 Naismith Coach of the Year, had other ideas. Off to a 13-2 (3-0) start behind 17.2 PPG from sophomore Ashton Gibbs  and another 12.2 from junior Brad Wanamaker’s , the #20 Panthers are quietly becoming a force in the Big East, and the nation.

Recently seeded as high as four in ESPN’s Bracketology, the Panthers certainly have the resume to back it.  Aside from an inexplicable loss to 7-8 Indiana, Pitt’s only other misstep is to #1 Texas.

Tonight’s game at #15 UCONN could be the most important of the season thus far. A win over the Huskies would solidify them as an elite team in the nation’s toughest conference. Dixon’s crew has made a case to put them in that discussion with a road win over then #5 Syracuse, but taking down another Top 25 conference foe would end any doubts that they are for real. Don’t think the experienced Pitt leader doesn’t know how much this win would mean for his team in the long run. Look for a tough battle between Ashton Gibbs and Kemba Walker in Storrs tonight.

Something to think about if Pitt does win tonight, though, is whether it’s out of the question to name Jamie Dixon Coach of The Year so far .  How many coaches could lose so much talent from an Elite Eight team, and be 14-2 and 4-0 in the Big East ? So far, just one.  Jamie Dixon.

Time for Purdue Basketball To Sink Or Swim

While Pitt was expected to struggle this season, Purdue was touted as a team on the rise. Seems as if the Boilmakers are reading their own press clippings, as they’ve stumbled to a 2-2 start in Big Ten Conference play. Back to back losses toWisconsin, and Ohio State put Matt Painter’s team in an interesting situation as they travel to overachieving 13-2 Northwestern and an Illinois squad currently sitting atop the conference .   We’ll know soon enough if Purdue is a contender or pretender based on the next two contests.

T&Two NCAA Bracket Busters to Watch

Northern Iowa 15-1 (Missouri Valley) – The veteran team already has a win over pre season top 25 Siena.

Louisiana Tech (16-1) (Western Athletic) – 4-0 in conference play, and wins over Houston and Nevada as resume boosters.

Cornell (14-3) (Ivy)- A recent five point loss at Kansas put them on the national radar. Wins over St. John’s, Davidson, Alabama, LaSalle, and UMass show they’re capable of excelling against the  big conferences.

Crucial Stretch For Duke Basketball

Duke enters a critical section of its schedule that could go a long way to deciding if  the Blue CoachK2Devils can end their five year stretch without a  Final Four appearances . The annual mid-January/early February trek through the ACC has literally been Hell for the Devils. Taking a look at recent years : In 2009-, they were 18-1 on  Jan 28th.  A loss to Wake Forest started a skid that saw  four  losses in a six game span  through Feb. 15th.  The 2007 season found Coach K’s boys at 18-3 before a Feb 1st home loss to Virginia started a four game skein.  Duke went 4-8 from that point to finish the season, including first round losses in both the  ACC and NCAA tourneys.

Coach K has been quick to remind Blue Devil faithful that this year’s team is much older, and bigger than teams of the past. It will be seen very shortly if the 13-2 Dukies will use their age and experience during a stretch of games including Wake Forest, Clemson, and Georgetown in the next few week

Big Fish in a Small Pond

Hats off to Appalachian State’s Donald Sims, who torched Davidson for 44 points last week.

Games to Watch This Week

Wednesday – Pitt @ UCONN- Typical Big East dogfight. Don’t rule out anything amazing…not even  six overtimes.
Thursday– Cal @ Washington State-Preseason top ten Cal is quickly slipping, and needs a win to resurrect its tourney hopes.

Saturday – Syracuse @ West Virginia.  Georgia Tech vs North Carolina.

Head Scratcher of the Week

Got an email from Chris Beermann that informed me that he recently attended a COLLEGE game, where a coach :

  • -Asked for a timeout while the other team was dribbling  the ball
  • -Asked the ref “if he could have the foul on #11”, instead of  his leading scorer who had just picked up his third personal foul.

It’s not surprising that Chris also informed me that the coach’s team lost.

The Triangle and Two: A Quick Look At The Ups and Downs of College Basketball.

January 6, 2010 under College Basketball, The Triangle and Two

By Terrence Mayrose

Tar Heel Basketball Lacking Math Skills?

College of Charleston shocked #9 North Carolina Monday night in an 82-79 overtime thriller. Hats off to roy williamsthe Charleston basketball program for a miraculous win but we here at the T&Two can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Roy Williams (right) chose to follow our “foul up 3” motto.

In case you didn’t watch the game, here’s the setup. C of C’s Andrew Goudelock came off a screen and got the ball with less than ten seconds on the clock. He dribbled to the right wing against Carolina’s Ed Davis and fired up the game-tying three from twenty eight feet with just two seconds left on the clock. The Charleston crowd went bonkers and the game headed to OT, where UNC would eventually lose.

While everyone loves the story of “the underdog”, it’s hard not to think about the “what if ?”.  What if Roy Williams had decided to foul up 3 ? Would the game have even gone into overtime?  Probably not.

It boggles my mind to watch coaches allow teams to shoot a three to tie, when a foul would limit the opposition to just two free throws.  A foul requires the shooting team to: a)hit the first shot, b)miss the second, c)get the rebound and, most dificultly, d)score than it is to just hit a three. Without a foul, the offense needs to accomplish but one thing; hit the three.  Isn’t it a simple matter of mathematics that it’s harder to accomplish four tasks, (two of which are being contested), than one?

Monday’s decision by Roy Williams is even more of a head-scratcher when you consider the following.  Charleston shot 13-32 (40.6 %) from behind the arc on the night, led by Andrew Goudelock, who had already hit four of eight threes and would end up scoring the last eight points in regulation for Charleston. UNC had every right to believe they’d grab the carom of any missed foul shot; having outrebounded Charleston 52-32 in the game and, finally, Charleston was only 3-6 from the charity stripe with Goudelock missing his only attempt.  Can’t see any reason why Carolina would have opted to allow a trey instead of a free throw.

Hey, Roy, didn’t you expect Goudelock to shoot it, given how hot he was?  Wouldn’t your team have a huge advantage when it came to rebounding a missed foul shot? I guess we’ll never know what may have happened if UNC chose to foul, but we do know that the theory of fouling up three continues to be eschewed by coaches despite both its logic and record of success.

Big East Basketball Continues to Dominate

Any doubt the Big East is still the most dangerous conference in America ? Even after losing a number of stars from the most competitive league in NCAA history in 2008-2009, the Big East finds itself well represented in this week’s AP Top 25. Villanova (12-1) is 6th,  Syracuse(13-1) 7th,  West Virginia (11-1) holds down the 8th spot while Georgetown (11-1) checks in at #12.

Kansas Jayhawks Flying High; But For How Long?

Espn.com’s Dana O’Neil wrote a nice piece about how well Kansas’s team has meshed and how being ranked #1 wasn’t much pressure for the squad. Hats off to Kansas basketball coach Bill Self for showing why he’s one of the best around, especially given all the off-court trouble his team dealt with this summer.  One question, though.  Will Jayhawks be able to stay level-headed once they suffer a loss or two?  Stay tuned.


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