Jim Valvano

Jimmy V Classic Preview: Four teams with different 2012-13 seasons meet in NYC

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Four teams travel to New York City Tuesday night, having taken different paths to get there and holding different outlooks for their respective 2012-13 seasons:

– No. 25 NC State was dubbed a Final Four contender in the preseason, but two early losses have the Wolfpack as a fringe Top-25 team one month into the season.

– No. 15 Georgetown has been one of the most quickly rising stocks in the country after a strong performance at the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, but the Hoyas hope an unimpressive 37-36 win over Tennessee last week is just a fluke.

– Connecticut, under the direction of new head coach Kevin Ollie, is playing with house money after being disqualified from postseason play this season, but is off to a strong start. An early win over Michigan State helped the cause.

– And Texas, without point guard Myck Kabongo as he continues to sort out NCAA eligibility issues, had a disappointing trip to Maui, but enters the Jimmy V Classic on a three-game winning streak.

Check out NBCSports.com’s preview of the Jimmy V Classic below:

Player to Watch: Otto Porter, Georgetown

Georgetown coach John Thompson III has had nothing but praise for Porter since he fully returned from injury in the Legends Classic in mid-November. Porter has been the type of versatile player that the Hoyas need to fill in the gaps in the stat sheet. He is averaging 11.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. He was just 4-of-11 from the field against Tennessee, but look for Texas to key in on him Tuesday night.

Match-up to Watch: Lorenzo Brown vs. Shabazz Napier, NC State vs. Connecticut

Napier weathered the storm of transfers and NCAA issues that plagued the Huskies in the offseason and has responded by having the best season of his career so far in 2012-13. Averaging 18.6 points per game, he’ll have met his match Tuesday night against NC State’s Brown.

Many would argue that Brown is a Top 10 point guard in the country, and for good reason. His scoring and field goal percentage is down from last season, but he continues to distribute the basketball with six assists per game.

Predictions: No. 15 Georgetown over Texas, No. 25 NC State over Connecticut

With Texas still missing Kabongo, it’s difficult to take the Longhorns over a team like Georgetown that is so steadily on the upswing. Yes, Georgetown had an ugly, ugly 37-36 win over Tennessee last week, but Porter, along with Greg Whittington and Markel Starks, should be able to get back to Legends Classic form Tuesday night.

NC State’s two losses this season have come to teams that are currently ranked nationally—Oklahoma State and Michigan. I really like what freshman T.J. Warren has been able to bring to the table (15.3 points per game), especially considering the fact that he was overshadowed in the offseason by talks about fellow freshman Rodney Purvis.

Connecticut is solid, but their lack of rebounding could come to bite them against NC State and inside presences like Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie. Napier and Boatright will have to continue to be the engine behind the Huskies’ attack if they want to get the win.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Rick Pitino: Louisville ‘just ignored’ in top 25 due of scandal

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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Louisville beatdown Saint Louis at the Barclays Center on Sunday night, a 77-57 win that was much closer at halftime than the final score might indicate.

The win moved the Cardinals to 5-0 on the season, and that, in turn, got Louisville into the back end of both top 25 polls.

They’re 24th in the AP Poll and 22nd in the Coaches Poll, but that happened on Monday morning. On Sunday night, Pitino made sure to get a rant in about how this team is viewed and why pundits and voters should overlook the scandal currently plaguing his program.

“I think people are looking at that and they’re not really studying the team,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, adding that he thinks the team is “just ignored” because of the accusations leveled by self-described madam Katina Powell in the book she published back in October.

And here’s the thing: he is 100 percent correct. Louisville was overlooked in the preseason because the scandal, when combined with the fact that the Cardinals are integrating so many new pieces into their rotation, made it tough to see how they would be able to compete at a level that we’ve come to expect out of Louisville teams.

I know that because it’s why my colleagues at NBCSports.com, against my wishes, refused to allow me to rank Louisville in the preseason top 25. In other words, I’ve had first-hand interactions with the haters. But if we’re going to be honest here, scandal or no scandal, Louisville probably wasn’t going to find their way into the preseason top 25, not when they had to replace Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell.

And scandal or no scandal, no team from outside the top 25 is going to play their way into the top 25 by beating the likes of North Florida and St. Francis (NY) without some shenanigans — like Fred VanVleet getting hurt, like Indiana collapsing, like Arizona and Cal and Notre Dame playing their way out of the top 20 — happening around the country.

So Pitino is right: the scandal probably did have an impact on how his team was viewed in the preseason.

But Pitino the scandal isn’t what kept them out of the top 25 until Monday.

That weak non-conference schedule and roster turnover was why.

And if we’re going to be honest here, it probably should have kept them out for another week.

Brooks’ big game leads No. 15 Oregon over Fresno State 78-73

Dillon Brooks, Torren Jones
AP Photo/Chris Pietsch
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Dillon Brooks had 21 points and 10 rebounds and No. 15 Oregon staved off a late rally by Fresno State for a 78-73 victory Monday night.

Chris Boucher and Elgin Cook added 14 points each for the Ducks (6-0), who led 70-52 with 6:35 to play before Marvelle Harris scored 13 points in a 16-2 run by the Bulldogs (5-1) that cut the deficit to four.

A driving layup by Brooks put Oregon up 74-68 with 1:20 left, and the Ducks held on by making four of six free throws in the final 45 seconds.

Harris, who didn’t score until the 12:04 mark of the second half, led Fresno State with 18 points, while Paul Watson added 11 and Torren Jones had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 41-32 behind Jones and Karachi Edo, who had nine rebounds and 10 points.

Freshman Tyler Dorsey, Oregon’s leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, finished with 12.

The Ducks scored the game’s first 11 points, went up by as many as 14 and took a 37-25 halftime lead. The Ducks did most of the damage from inside the 3-point arc (9 of 10) and at the free throw line, outscoring the Bulldogs 13-5.

Fresno State, meanwhile, missed its first six shots from the field, shot 29.0 percent (9 of 31) and saw its top two scorers, Harris and Cezar Guerrero, held scoreless for the first 20 minutes.

The senior guards came in averaging 20.2 and 13.2 points per game, respectively.


Fresno State: Harris, the preseason choice for Mountain West Conference player of the year, needed one point to crack the Bulldog’s all-time top 10 in scoring. After going scoreless in the first half, he finished with 18 to rank 10th with 1,425, one behind Tod Bernard in ninth place, in 107 career games. . The Bulldogs fell to 2-10 all-time against Oregon. They last time they beat the Ducks, who have won the last five meetings, was in 1995. . Fresno State hasn’t beaten a Top 25 team on the road since 2000.

Oregon: The double-double was the second of the season Brooks and fourth of his career. . The Ducks are 40-2 against nonconference opponents since moving into Matthew Knight Arena five years ago. . The 6-0 start is Oregon’s second in the last nine years. The Ducks started 13-0 two seasons ago.