ASun Florida Gulf Coast Belmont Basketball

I’m not buying the Belmont-over-Georgetown hype

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I understand why people are picking against third-seeded Georgetown in their opening round matchup with Belmont, the 14 seed in Midwest Region.

Vanderbilt gets all the negative publicity when it comes to early exits from the tournament, but Georgetown has been just as guilty of late. In 2011, the sixth-seeded Hoyas were VCU’s second victim. The year before that, Georgetown lost in the first round to No. 14 seed Ohio. In 2009, Georgetown pulled a Nas and “fell from top ten to not mentioned at all“, missing the NCAA Tournament and finding themselves relegated to the NIT. (Their bodyguard’s ‘Oochie Wally’ verse wasn’t better, however.)

Georgetown actually won a game in 2008, making it to the second round before falling victim to the Davidson Fighting Steph Curry’s, but the fact remains that in three of the last four years, Georgetown has been knocked out of the tournament early via the mid-major upset. The other year they didn’t even make the tournament.

Sounds a lot like Vanderbilt, doesn’t it?

Put all that together — there’s not a single player on the Georgetown roster that has ever won an NCAA Tournament game — and throw in the fact that Belmont is a very good basketball team, and its it seems like an easy upset to pick.

But it’s not.

I have the utmost respect for this Belmont basketball team. I’ve seen them in person. I know what this team is capable of and what they want to do on the court. The Bruins are a very good three-point shooting team, and they shoot a lot of them. They also like to push tempo, using full-court pressure to force turnovers and speed up the game. They do it well; it’s why they won the Atlantic Sun.

But Georgetown is the best team in the country when it comes to defending the three-point line. Their perimeter defenders are long and athletic. They can play man-to-man or a 2-3 zone. When they have Jason Clark, Greg Whittington, Otto Porter and Hollis Thompson on the floor together, they become so difficult to score against because of how versatile those four on that end of the floor.

Belmont is not turning teams over as much as they have in the past, either, which means that the Bruins are not going to be able to take advantage of the fact that Georgetown lacks a pure point guard.

I want to pick Belmont to win a game in the tournament. I do. There is a reason this team is currently 23rd in Kenpom’s rankings.

But in the NCAA Tournament, matchups make the battle. And this just isn’t a good matchup for Belmont.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.