Posted on: March 25, 2010 2:59 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2010 3:49 pm
Before they tipoff tonight at approximately 7:07 pm, I'd like to share with you my five random thoughts on the Syracuse-Butler game:
Watch the tempo of the game. Butler will try to slow it down, Syracuse will want to run a fast paced game. Butler gives up just under 60 points per game while Syracuse likes to score in the 80s. Whoever controls the tempo will likely win the game.
Wesley Johnson vs. Gordon Hayward. In order for their teams to win, these guys will need to have a big game. If Wesley Johnson puts on a show, Syracuse will most likely win no matter how Hayward plays. But if Johnson can't get it going, and Hayward has a strong performance, look out for an upset.
Arinze Onuaku is out again. The status of Onuaku's injury is no longer a question of how long he will be out, but if he'll ever return. Coming into the tournament, the report was that we might see him in the first weekend. Now, Onuaku is out for the Sweet 16 game and no real timetable has been set for his return. The reserves have played well filling in for the senior center, but if Syracuse is going to win it all, I don't see them doing it without the big man.
Leo Rautins will be on TV. Nothing has changed. He will get more camera time than Juli Boeheim.
Eric Devendorf isn't walking through that door. It may just be me, but every time I watch a Syracuse game, I expect to see Eric Devendorf hitting a three and taunting an opponent. I still haven't accepted the fact that he's gone. Watching a Syracuse game without Devendorf is like watching E.R. after George Clooney left. The show is still the same, but the face is gone.
That's all. Enjoy the game.
Posted on: March 21, 2010 3:37 pm
Syracuse 87, Gonzaga 65
Gonzaga was trying to become the second West Coast Conference team to upset a Big East opponent in two days. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that didn't happen. And it wasn't even close. Syracuse completely dominated the entire game at both ends of the floor. Like fellow one seed Kentucky, the Orange are peeking at the right time as they work their way towards the championship game.
All of the talk coming into this game was how Syracuse would fare without its big man Arinze Onuaku. Without the senior center, 'Cuse uses a six man rotation with a big hole down low. Syracuse's lack of depth and a post presence without Onuaku was exposed in the second half of their loss to Georgetown, but not today. No Onuaku? No problem.
Wes Johnson is a stud
Johnson is back to playing like the superstar he was in the beginning of the season. He scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against the Bulldogs. When he plays like he did today, Syracuse is nearly impossible to defeat.
Orange Firing On All Cylinders
Wes Johnson's 31 points was a game high but he wasn't the only one lighting it up on Gonzaga's defense. Andy Rautins went 5-9 from deep and scored 24 points, while freshman Brandon Triche scored 13 to spark the Orange. On the opposite end, Syracuse's treacherous zone defense held Matt Bouldin to 8 points and forced Gonzaga into shooting three pointers. The 'Zags never really found a rhythm and shot a dismal 3-21 from the behind the arc.
Leo Rautins is always on TV
I really thought we could see an upset in this one. Boy, was I wrong. The Bulldogs return home to the west coast where they'll be unheard of until next March when we all question how far they are capable of going in the 2011 NCAA tournament. See you then, Zags.
Posted on: March 12, 2010 10:58 am
Edited on: March 12, 2010 11:09 am
A tremendous day of basketball capped by the first major buzzer-beater of Championship Week. Three of the four double-bye top seeds go down, including No. 1 Syracuse and No. 2 Pitt, and 11th-seeded Cincinnati nearly causes bubble teams across the country to lose control of their bowels.
If you picked this final four then you can have my envy...and a roll of smarties...send me your address.
8) Georgetown 91, 1) Syracuse 84
GAME OF THE DAY
Since this is going to be posted on the website of CBS Sports, home of the Jim Nantz, I'm contractually obligated to start this blurb with "The Butler did it." I'd rather not do it, but I seriously have no choice. This is just a precursor to the blurb, not the actual blurb itself. The blurb starts now.
The Butler did it.
Da'Sean Butler banked home a deep and heavily contested three-pointer at the buzzer to lift third-seeded West Virginia into the Big East Tournament semifinals and end the improbable run of No. 11 Cincinnati.
"When I got the ball, (UC freshman Lance Stephenson) kind of pressed up on me. So I kind of lost my balance, and by the time I squared up, I only had time to take one dribble instead of two or three. And when I took the one dribble, I put it up," said Butler.
Cincinnati, which trailed for the vast majority of the night, had a shot to win it with 6.4 seconds to play and the length of the court to go, but Dion Dixon, who had just been brought into the game by UC head coach Mick Cronin, mishandled the ball and lost it out-of-bounds. That set the stage for Butler, who finished the night with 15 points.
The Mountaineers, the only one of the Big East's top four seeds still alive in the tournament, will face No. 7 Notre Dame in tonight's second semifinal.
TEAM OF THE DAY
Since the team of the day is Georgetown, I'm contractually obligated by CBS to start this blurb with a mention of the old saying about beating the same team three times in one season. I actually don't believe in the validity of the adage at all, but what can you do? I also prefer other car rental services to Enterprise. Blurb starts now.
You know what they say about beating a team three times in one season.
Georgetown avenged a pair of regular season losses to arch-rival Syracuse by stunning the top-seeded Orange, 91-84 in Thursday's first Big East Tournament quarterfinal.
Adding injury to insult for 'Cuse was senior center Arizne Onuaku hitting the floor and clutching his knee late in the game. His status for the NCAA Tournament is still unknown.
Chris Wright led the Hoyas with 27 points, while sophomore center Greg Monroe added 15 more to go with ten rebounds and seven assists.
"It's definitely a confidence boost," Wright said. "I don't think this team lacks confidence. I just think we're ready to play."
The loss was the second straight for regular season champion Syracuse, which entered the postseason coming off a loss at Louisville. The Orange still appear to be in good shape to capture a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, if only because they didn't have much competition for the spot heading into this week.
DUD OF THE DAY
Pitt could only muster a season-low 45 points against the 1986 Chicago Bears Notre Dame in a 50-45 loss. The Panthers, who could have made a move to rename this thing the P.I.T. (Pittsburgh Invitational Tournament) after advancing to the title game in four straight seasons, lost in their tourney opener for the second straight year.
"Right now we don't feel good," said Panthers head coach Jamie Dixon. "I think this will be a good learning lesson for us."
Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson each scored 12 point for Notre Dame, which has come out-of-nowhere to win six straight.
STARS OF THE DAY
--Chris Wright (Goergetown) - 27 points
--Da'Sean Butler (West Virginia) - 15 points, game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer
--Greg Monroe (Georgetown) - 15 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists
--Wesley Johnson (Syracuse) - 24 points, seven rebounds
--Darius Johnson-Odom (Marquette) - 24 points, five assists
--Corey Stokes (Villanova) - 22 points
--Lance Stephenson (Cincinnati) - 19 points, seven rebounds
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I think that’s what is great about tournaments. You don’t have to worry when they say you have to prepare one day after, it’s not a big deal. We’ve all played each other.We know each other. I think that’s what makes these games great. It’s been great games throughout the tournament. Our familiarity with each other is, it makes it tough beating any team." --Jay Wright
THE DAY AHEAD
#5 Marquette vs. #8 Georgetown (7 p.m.)
Posted on: March 12, 2010 12:16 am
Edited on: March 12, 2010 1:17 am
After what already seems to be four to five weeks of conference tournaments in our rear view mirror, Selection Sunday is now coming up on the horizon and things are starting to sort themselves out a bit. On Thursday, some teams were relegated to the bubble and prayers (Memphis) while some teams continued their post-season hoops hopes (Notre Dame). With 27 games on the docket for Friday, including the Patriot League Championship, answers are certain to be headed the way of all college basketball fans. Before we get started, though, let's look back at what turned out to be a big-time Thursday in the world of college basktball.
Will the Onuaku injury affect seeding? - Perhaps the biggest story on Thursday (besides Syracuse's loss) was the injury suffered by Syracuse big man Arinze Onuaku which, depending on who you talk to, is either major or minor. Onuaku will have an MRI on Friday and the results will be available….probably after the seeding is announced. Especially if it’s serious. Regardless of what the injury turns out to be, you’d have to assume the Orange is fairly safe with their #1 seed. What they need to be more concerned about, however, is how a team that is now essentially only six-deep is going to respond in a two games in three days tournament setting.
The Big Names are Done - It was really only a matter of time until they all bid adieu to this year’s college basketball season, but a trio of big name programs finally had the final nail placed in their post-season coffin on Thursday. North Carolina jumped out to a double-digit lead against Georgia Tech and then came out in the second half looking all North Carolina-like and gave the game away. Tom Crean’s Indiana Revival, still sputtering along in year two, took a thumping at the hands of mighty Northwestern while Arizona’s run of 25 straight NCAA tourney appearances came to an end (after two years of undeserved bids) against another traditional power on life support, UCLA. They say things are going to get better. I say at least they didn’t give up like UConn. I am worried about Sean Miller, though. The losses seem to be taking their toll and he’s gone from looking like a sober Billy Gillispie to Texas A&M Billy Gillispie. That’s not a good trend.
If a tree falls in the Staples Center, does it make a sound? - The national media wrote the Pac-10 off a long, long time ago. Surprisingly, the Pac-10 fans apparently have done the same. Outside of the Salt Lake City's Megaplex 12 during the premiere of I Got the Hookup, it’s possible that no venue has ever been so empty for such a fan-friendly event. I watched Oregon and Washington’s overtime affair Wednesday night (a great game) while feeding my son and the Staples Center appeared to have about only 7-8 people more than my couch. When UCLA plays in their home city and can’t get fans, you know it’s bad. However, the Pac-10 tournament did introduce me to Rebecca Haarlow, so it can’t be all bad, right?
Coaching redemption in C-USA - With John Calipari gone from Memphis, the national spotlight has dimmed significantly on the only official conference of the United States. UTEP seized the opportunity and grabbed the regular season title with a 15-1 record, but it’s a couple of underdog coaches that are making the most of their chances. Seventh-seeded Houston coach Tom Penders is being reported as a dead man walking whose employment only lasts as long as his team’s season. After an upset of second-seeded Memphis, it lasts another day. His semifinal opponent, Southern Miss, is coached by another recognizable name trying to make the most of his situation. Larry Eustachy, the disgraced former Iowa State coach, has made steady improvements in his sixth season in Hattiesberg and brought home his 20th win in an upset of UAB (and their former big name coach Mike Davis). By Friday evening, one of these two maligned coaches will be one win away from going dancing.
Jimmer! - Obviously wanting to prove that Montana's Anthony Johnson isn't the only guy out west who can fill it up, BYU junior Jimmer Fredette poured in a Mountain West tournament record 45 points in a win over TCU. Fredette, who had been battling strep throat, mono, a stomach virus, typhoid fever, the mumps, pink eye, an ingrown toenail and Osgood Schlatter's disease, returned to the lineup with a bang, though I feel his 45 points are cheapened a bit by 23 made free throws. Anthony Johnson wouldn't do that. But, I do respect The Jimmer for his honesty displayed in this interview, perhaps the most honest in college basketball history (fast forward to 3:45).
The Almosts - Oh, how close they came. Air Force and LSU, winners of a combined three conference games, pushed a pair of highly ranked teams to the brink. LSU gave Bruce Pearl and Tennessee all they could handle before fading down the stretch and Air Force lost a heartbreaker to New Mexico, 75-69. I wish we could say some inspiring things to both teams but there’s nothing left to say. Except maybe to just clean out their lockers. You don’t want this season lingering any longer than it has to.
The other #1 seeds take the floor Friday - On Thursday, Syracuse fell to Georgetown and Kansas got a good little push from Texas Tech. On Friday, the presumed other two top seeds, Kentucky and Duke, take the floor and try to get used to their dancing shoes. Duke will square off with Virginia, a team that once lead the conference and snapped a nine-game losing streak Thursday, in a game where they’ll be heavily favored. With West Virginia still in contention for a Big East title, the Dukies might have to win the ACC tournament to keep their top seed. Meanwhile, John Calipari will lead his troops against Alabama in his first ever SEC tournament game. The Cats beat the Tide on February 9 and shouldn’t encounter much trouble. However, they then will likely face Tennessee and Vanderbilt in loseable games. Their #1 footing is more solid than Duke’s, but it's important that the young Cats get comfortable in the post-season tournament setting before embarking on the what is shaping up to be a journey full of very high expectations.
Illinois vs. Wisconsin 2:00 pm
* denotes championship game
Posted on: March 11, 2010 2:51 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2010 3:03 pm
A number-one seed in the NCAA Tournament is no longer a sure thing for Syracuse after losing to Georgetown today in The Garden. The Hoyas took down Syracuse 91-84 in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals. G-Town's Chris Wright stole the show with 27 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists, while Freeman, Monroe, and Clark combined for 50 points.
For Syracuse, unforced errors - including 5 critical turnovers by Andy Rautins - were the difference maker in the game. Georgetown pestered Syracuse into 17 turnovers and the Orange just never seemed to find a rhythm in the second half. They were out-hustled and out-played by the Hoyas late in the game as Georgetown found a way to break the Syracuse zone. All-American Wes Johnson scored 24 and grabbed 7 boards in the losing effort.
While the loss - Syracuse's second in a row - was devastating for the Orange faithful, it might not be the biggest loss of the day. Senior Arinze Onuaku went down late in the game with what appeared to be a serious right-knee injury. Onuaku fell to the ground clutching his right knee after battling for a rebound with Georgetown's Greg Monroe midway through the second half. From that point forward, Monroe was able to dominate the glass and we got a preview of how beatable Syracuse will be in the NCAA Tournament if Onuaku can't go.
Now, the big question is whether or not Syracuse will keep that #1 seed in the Big Dance. If Onuaku's injury turns out to be severe, and Duke and/or West Virginia run the table in their conference tournaments, Syracuse will likely drop to a #2 seed.
ONUAKU INJURY UPDATE:
Arinze Onuaku's mother said after the game that XRays on her son's knee were negative. "He's fine. He will be back for the NCAA Tournament."
Let's hope Mama Onuaku knows what she's talking about, for Syracuse's sake.
Posted on: March 11, 2010 12:54 pm
Today is one of the best days of the year for college basketball...all the major conferences have begun and action will come fast and furious from every direction. I am here live in Nashville for the SEC Tournament, but we have people following all the leagues to give you the action as it happens. Sort of like a Netflix for basketball, but you dont have to fight with your wife when she wants to put that awful Ryan Reynolds/Sandra Bullock movie at the top of your list. Here is what to watch for in the early games:
Will Kansas stay on track for the #1 Overall Seed?
The Jayhawks open up Big 12 Tournament play with a battle against Texas Tech, who barely broke a sweat yesterday in dispatching Colorado back to Boulder for what should be an offseason of irrelevance. Cole Aldrich and company told me on my visit to Lawrence that the conference tournament was important to them and Sherron Collins said, "we want to cut down every net that we can." That process starts today as they try to avoid a loss that could have a major seeding regional location effect.
Georgetown and Syracuse Renew a Rivalry
If you watched basketball in the mid 1980s, you know that (a) your hair is going grey and (b) Georgetown and Syracuse hated each other. With the elder John Thompson and Jim Boeheim roaming the sidelines, there was no more exciting game than the battle of the DC and Upstate New York powers. The Thompson quit, a guy with a moustache took over and things quit being fun. But Mr. Moustache has left and the youngest Thompson is back to make it heated again. Madison Square Garden will be rocking today as the Orange and Hoyas renew acquaintances once again. Watch this game if you do nothing else.
Also you have the ACC UVA vs Boston College "battle" (more like tickle fight) and the SEC kicks off with South Carolina and Alabama played before my very eyes. I will try not to sneak into the back to watch the 'Cuse and the Hoyas, but I cant promise anything. Darrin Horn's hair can only entertain me for so long.
Posted on: March 6, 2010 4:46 pm
As I sit and enjoy the Big South Championship game that looks like it is being played in a local YMCA, some thoughts:
--- West Virginia took a big one at Villanova in a game that gave Gus Johnson the practice he needed to go crazy in two weeks during his NCAA coverage. For Villanova, the seeding keeps getting worse and any dream they had of a #1 seed is now over.
--- South Carolina won at Vanderbilt, proving that (a) Devan Downey isnt human and (b) the SEC is really down outside of Kentucky. Vandy is the consensus second best team in the league, and if that is your role, you cant lose to a non-NCAA Tournament team at home on Senior Day. That is just the rule.
--- Idaho suspended their second leading scorer for comments he made about the coach on Twitter. The kid later went back on Twitter and wondered what all the fuss was about but when you claim that no team can win with your current coach at the helm...well you gotta think some kind of punishment is on your way.
--- ESPN has a redheaded announcer who looks like the guy from "The Incredibles." If he werent calling the Big South Championship, this would be a major national story.
Back to the games...if you arent watching whatever is on CBS (which I am sure is wonderful), turn it over to ESPN2 for the three Championship games going on today and tonight. And no matter what is going on in your life, take solace in one thing. Ben Roethlisberger is not in your town.