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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

January 23, 2010 under Uncategorized


By Terrence Mayrose

College Basketball Powerhouses UConn and UNC Struggling

As smoothly as things went for North Carolina and Connecticut last year, they’ve been equally as bumpy this season.  UNC .jim-calhoun.apcoasted through its schedule  to a championship, and UConn battled through a tough Big East to reach the Final Four.  However, 2010 is giving every indication that a repeat of each performance is a long shot….a real long shot.

The Tar Heels have dropped three straight, and four of their last five in plummeting to #23 in the polls.  Things got worse for Roy Williams and company last week  when it was reported that seven foot sophomore Tyler Zeller will miss 4-6 weeks with a foot injury.  Yes, the same Zeller who missed most of last season.  That Zeller may be injury prone has raised huge concern about his future in Chapel Hill.

Things aren’t going too well in Storrs these days, either, although the Huskies did take care of lowly St.John’s on Wednesday night with to end a three game conference skid.  Adding  to their problems was the news that  Head Coach Jim Calhoun  is taking an immediate medical leave of absence. UConn officials reported that Calhoun’s absence is not heart or cancer related and is not associated to any conditions he has dealt with in the past (Calhoun is a three time cancer survivor). The Huskies will have an up-hill battle the rest of the season without Calhoun on the sidelines, but the immediate future doesn’t look too bad.  After taking on Texas this Saturday,  they’ll have winnable games against Providence, Marquette, Louisville, and  the conference’s whipping boy, DePaul.   A string of four conference wins under interim coach George Blaney could be the key to get back on track for this struggling squad.   Look at this stretch as  a precursor of UConn’s fate the rest of the way.

Kentucky Basketball Stands Alone

Texas dropped from the ranks of the  unbeaten,  leaving only Kentucky, John “make a mess then quickly flee the scene” Calipari, and John “I will commit to the draft in March so don’t look for me in class the final two months” Wall  as the only remaining team with an unblemished record.  Isn’t it sweet that the ENTIRE nation can now bond to root for that first loss now?

UTEP Basketball Showing Strong Caracter

Remember this guy ?  Once highly touted as a program-changing, college superstar, future-pro coming out of high school, he spent his time at Louisville struggling with his weight and grades.  Things got so bad, he actually flirted with the idea of entering the NBA Draft until UTEP Oklahoma Basketballhe realized he’d never get picked.  Despite his shortcomings, however, he’s become the best turnaround story of the college basketball season. If you guessed Derrick Caracter, give yourself a gold star.

The big man from Jersey has found himself at UTEP, after two awful years at Louisville finally ran their course.  Between weight issues, grades, and finding it nearly impossible to deal with Rick Pitino (the latter is becoming a common occurrence these days, isn’t it?), D.C.’s time at Lousiville was one to forget. Luckily for him, his career has rebounded. In better shape, minus his entourage, and obviously much happier, Caracter is averaging 13.6 ppg and 8.3 rpg for the 12-5 UTEP Miners. Most recently, Caracter was a catalyst in his team’s 72-67 win over Memphis with 14 points and 7 boards.

The Key to Winning Your NCAA Tournament Brackets

Here’s a stat to look at when filling out your March Madness sheets; Efficiency, specifically Offensive and Defensive Efficiency.  In a nutshell – Points scored and points allowed per 100 possessions. Why does it matter ?  Simply put… it has been one of ,(if not the), leading indicators of  NCAA champions.

Ken Pomeroy is a stat guru who spends hours determining these stats each season, and every year the eventual NCAA Champion can be determined by Pomeroy’s efficiency ratings.  Need Proof ?

’09 Champ – UNC– Off. Eff (1) Def.Eff (16)
’08 Champ-Kansas– Off. Eff (2) Def.Eff (1)
’07 Champ- Florida– Off. Eff (1) Def.Eff (12)
’06 Champ- Florida– Off.Eff (2) Def.Eff (5)

The fact is, that if you want to cut down the nets you must be as good defensively as you are offensively.  Here are 5 teams who rate high in both categories, and offer a big reason to believe in them come March : Kansas– OE (2) DE (3), Duke OE(1) DE(9), Wisconsin OE(16) DE(7), Syracuse OE(4) DE(16), Kansas State OE(14) DE(20).   However, be wary of : Villanova– OE(3) DE(80), Kentucky OE(12) DE(37), Gonzaga OE(25) DE(65).   The T&2 will revisit as March gets closer, but it’s never too early to start dissecting the brackets.

Groundhog Day for Duke Basketball

Well, just as it was hinted in the last  T&2, the Duke Blue Devils are in the historically “hell-ish” part of their schedule. Coach K and the singlerboys fit played to form in losing 88-74 to North Carolina State.  An inexcusable loss given their  high expectations coming into the season.  Here’s a challenge for the boys in Cameron: change yourselves from “good team” to “title contender” over the next weeks.

Tilts @ Clemson, @ Georgetown, Georgia Tech  and @UNC are games where Duke can turn their season around.  A sweep of these 4 quality teams, along with games against mediocre Florida State and Boston College would put Duke at 21-3 and give them a stranglehold on the ACC.  If Duke can do this, they’ll have my faith again…until then, I’m expecting a disastrous stretch over the next month; ultimately leading to a quiet exit in March. It’s unfortunate, but this has become Duke’s trademark over the last few seasons.


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