Florida v Arizona

College Hoops Week in Review: Five Thoughts

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Butler’s win will resonate: At face value alone, Butler’s win over Indiana on Saturday was huge. Ignoring the fact that the Bulldogs, you know, beat the No. 1 team in the country, that No. 1 team also happened to be an in-state rival that had begun promoting the idea that Butler was back in their role as the little brother. Those bragging rights won’t soon be forgotten.

But it’s also worth noting that the official announcement that the Big East’s Catholic 7 would be leaving the conference came during the first half of the game, and, as seemingly everyone is reporting, the Bulldogs are way up on the list of teams that group will be looking to bring into their new league. That’s quite a convincing argument for inclusion, isn’t it?

What does Saturday’s result say about Florida and Arizona?: Here’s the funny thing about sports: no one walked away from Arizona’s win on Saturday night against Florida thinking that the Wildcats were the better team. With the exception of collapses in the final minutes of both halves, Florida completely dominated Arizona. They controlled tempo, they kept Arizona from getting quality looks, and they executed their offense to perfection, routinely and calmly scoring at the end of a shot clock over and over again. I came away from that game thinking that Florida could win a national title, and that Arizona will be good enough to make it to the second weekend of the tournament if their big men continue to develop.

But Arizona won the game, which, for me, highlighted the one, potentially fatal flaw for this Florida team: the point guard spot. In critical moments, at the end of both halves, Florida completely lost the ability to handle the ball, the ability to run offense, the ability to break a press. They missed crucial free throws. They even looked nervous in those final seconds against Arizona’s pressure. That’s not a good sign, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still believe Florida is one of the five best teams in the country and Arizona isn’t.

What about the state of the Pac-12?: The fact that Arizona actually was able to come back and win this game is huge for the Pac-12. It simply cannot be understated how badly this team and this league needed a marquee win this season. The biggest reason that the Pac-12 managed just two NCAA tournament bids a season ago — and an NIT trip for regular season champion Washington — is that they did nothing or note in non-conference play. This year, the league has already strung together a couple handfuls of good wins, but nothing close to as noteworthy as beating a top five team. Arizona’s win brings credibility to their resume, which, in turn, will boost their opponent’s RPI every time they play a league game.

And the SEC?: The SEC had just an awful weekend. Georgia lost at home to Iona. Mississippi State lost to Loyola (IL). Texas A&M lost to Oklahoma. LSU got hammered by Boise State. Alabama was drubbed by VCU (at one point, the Crimson Tide went 17 possessions without scoring). Florida, who appears to be the only elite team in the conference this season, could have saved some face on Saturday night with the win, but they gave that away down the stretch. But hey, at least short-handed Tennessee picked up a win, right?

All of a sudden, the SEC, which once looked like it could have three Final Four contenders at the top of the conference, is looking incredibly ordinary.

Tough, old school coaches a thing of the past?: I’ve played for screamers before. It’s not really as bad as you might imagine, but it certainly isn’t enjoyable to be cursed at in incredibly high volumes in front of some of your best friends over and over and over. And with the advent of social media and the more-powerful-than-ever 24 hour news cycle, maybe we are nearing the end of the uber-intense basketball coach.

Bob Knight has been gone for nearly a decade. Billy Gillispie saw his career go up in flames over the way he treated his players. Mike Rice was suspended for three games and gave up a fifth of his salary over allegations that he has mistreated his players, including throwing basketballs at them. Frank Martin parted ways with Kansas State in part because the AD didn’t love his coaching style. And Bob Huggins’ West Virginia teams haven’t been nearly as good as you would expect over the last three seasons; the ‘Eers lost by 15 to Michigan on Saturday and did so without Aaric Murray. Maybe it’s time to learn a way to get through to kids without berating them?

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

No. 11 Oregon blows by Cal, but Dillon Brooks leaves with “lower left leg injury”

Oregon Ducks forward Dillon Brooks (24), collides in the first half against California in an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 20, 2016, in Eugene, Ore. Brooks later left the game with an injury on a different play. (AP Photo/Thomas Boyd)
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Oregon defeated Cal on Thursday. The score was 86-63. That hardly matters, though, considering what else occurred in Eugene.

Ducks star Dillon Brooks left the game with a “lower left leg injury,” which is particularly ominous considering it was a surgically repaired left foot that sidelined Brooks all summer and kept him from joining Oregon on the floor until mid-November.

As of Thursday evening, there was no specific clarification, leaving only questions not only about Brooks’ health but what Oregon will have to potentially do without him.

The Ducks can win without Brooks. They went 8-1 before Brooks ever logged 30 minutes in a game and blasted Washington State in Pullman when Brooks got ejected after just seven minutes. They didn’t need him to dismantle the Bears, shooting 58 percent from the floor for the game and 54.2 percent without him in the second half. Jordan Bell made 11 of 12 shots for a career-best 26 points, and three other Ducks scored in double figures.

It wouldn’t be ideal, but Oregon could tread water to a high seed with him missing a chunk of time as they’ve shown at different times throughout this season. The Ducks only have one matchup left with both UCLA and Arizona, coming back-to-back in the first week of February.

But if it’s a serious injury, it necessitates a recalibration of expectation for Oregon.

Brooks scored 23 and had the game-winner as the Ducks handled No. 3 UCLA its lone loss this season and had 28 points when they blew out then-No. 22 USC to end December. Brooks is too talented, too versatile and too important for a prolonged absence to be meaningfully weathered. The NCAA tournament just too often demands too much from teams to be without a player of Brooks’ caliber.

For Oregon to reach the heights that many predicted for it since last spring, Brooks has to be on the floor.

The wait for the diagnosis and prognosis, not just for Brooks but for Oregon’s season, is on.

After win at Iowa, what’s to be made of No. 25 Maryland?

Maryland guard Anthony Cowan is fouled by Iowa forward Ryan Kriener, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, in Iowa City, Iowa. Maryland won 84-76. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Maryland, after an 84-76 win at Iowa, now stands at 5-1 in the Big Ten. The Terps are the only team in the league with five conference wins and are tied with Wisconsin in the loss column atop the Big Ten.

Is it time to start taking them seriously as Big Ten title contenders?

It just might be, less so for who Maryland is proving to be but, in part, for how the schedule lays out for the Terps.

The resume right now isn’t overly impressive, other than sheer volume of wins at 16. There’s the loss at home to Nebraska for one thing, but they haven’t been overly convincing in a win since their opener against Illinois.

Many of their issues were on display against the Hawkeyes, a team that has lodged a number of good wins but still shows loads of inconsistency with a roster heavily dependent upon freshmen. Maryland led by 15 in the first half and held a double-digit lead well into the second half. Then, as carelessness set in, it was gone with just over 6 minutes to play and the Terps trailed with as little as 3 minutes left.

Turnovers were nearly the Terps’ undoing. They committed 21 of them that led to 30 points for the Hawkeyes, who are hardly known for turning opponents over. Maryland, though, has consistently failed to take care of the ball with a turnover rate hovering around 20 percent.

What saved them against Iowa was, what (or who) else, than Melo Trimble. One of the game’s most clutch players, Trimble hit back-to-back 3s after Maryland fell behind to turn a three-point disadvantage into a three-point lead that the Terps wouldn’t hand back to a feisty Iowa squad. Trimble finished with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.

So, 21 turnovers and a blown lead salvaged only by Trimble’s heroics doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in a team with as many question marks as Maryland, even if it came on the road.

The Terps, though, do keep winning and while close games do invite luck and chance into the equation, Trimble’s presence and Maryland’s track record suggests it may be able to survive the variance.

Then you’ve got to look at that schedule. They’ve got Rutgers at home before a tricky Minnesota-Ohio State road trip. Then of the Big Ten teams currently with two losses or less, Maryland gets Purdue and Michigan State at home and has just one game apiece against Wisconsin and Northwestern, though both are away from College Park.

So while it may be hard to fully buy in to Maryland given its so-so offense and unremarkable defense, the Terps have made it nearly to the end of January with just two losses and have a manageable road ahead.

That’s something that has to be taken into account, just like Maryland in the Big Ten.

Ohio’s Antonio Campbell to miss season with foot injury

SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 22:  Head coach Saul Phillips of the North Dakota State Bison reacts in the first half against the San Diego State Aztecs during the Third Round of the 2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 22, 2014 in Spokane, Washington.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The MAC race just took a turn, as Ohio’s star forward Antonio Campbell will miss the rest of the season with a broken bone in his foot.

Campbell, who was the best player in the conference, was averaging 16.4 points and 8.9 boards.

“We feel awful for Tony,” said head coach Saul Phillips. “Sick to our stomach. We wish him nothing but a speedy and full recovery. We are proud of all that he’s accomplished while wearing a Bobcat uniform and thank him for his many contributions to our program.”

Ohio is 11-5 on the season and 3-2 in the MAC.

Indiana’s OG Anunoby out indefinitely with knee injury

Indiana's OG Anunoby (3) dunks in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Michigan in the quarterfinals at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Indianapolis. Michigan won 72-69. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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The exact extent and specific diagnosis of the injury suffered by Indiana sophomore OG Anunoby isn’t yet public, but the Hoosiers offered a brief update Thursday.

“OG sustained a knee injury this past Wednesday night’s game against Penn State and is in the midst of ongoing medical evaluations,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said in a statement released by the school. “He will be out indefinitely.”

Anunoby went down clutching his knee late in the first half against the Nittany Lions and did not return, with many fearing the severity of the injury after Crean delivered an emotional post-game interview following Indiana’s three-point win.

The 6-foot-8 forward has largely been considered a potential lottery pick in this June’s NBA draft. He’s averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game this season.

Indiana’s first game back is Saturday at home against Michigan State followed by road games against Michigan and Northwestern the following week. The Hoosiers are 13-6 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten.

Report: Villanova and UConn set to renew series

Villanova's Kyle Lowry (1) goes up for a shot over Connecticut's Josh Boone (21) Monday, February 13, 2006 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, PA. Villanova University (4) upset University of Connecticut (1) 69-64. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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Another former Big East Rivalry will be renewed soon.

Villanova and Connecticut are set to resume a home-and-home series next year, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Rothstein.

The Huskies will host the first game of the series with the return game coming in 2018, though exact dates and venues have not yet been set.

Since the Big East split in recent years, the two teams have met once, in the 2014 NCAA tournament when the Huskies went on to win a national championship.

UConn played Syracuse earlier this year while the Orange also took on St. John’s and Georgetown in a rematch of former Big East rivals now spread across the realignment landscape.

While the new iteration of the Big East is as strong as its best since the basketball schools bolted – with the Wildcats the defending champions and Creighton and Xavier both having big years – it’s encouraging to see that the classic matchups  of the old Big East aren’t being completely abandoned in this new era of hoops, not only for nostalgia purposes but because they remain some of the best brands and programs in the sport.