Vin Parise is a former assistant college coach and the college basketball insider for NBC Sports. Look for his Top 10 Tidbits every week.
1. No. 3 Arizona improves to 11-0 — its best start in 25 years. Sean Miller’s team beat No. 17 San Diego State 68-67 to win the Diamond Head Classic. As beautiful as Honolulu is, I hope tournaments like this don’t start becoming the norm for the holidays. As it stands right now, most college basketball players and coaches miss Thanksgiving with their family because tournaments the last weekend of November are customary. Hopefully playing games on Christmas night does not move in that direction. Let’s leave that tradition for the National Basketball Association.
2. In typical Tom Izzo fashion, his Spartans are one of the best at keeping you to one shot. Michigan State being 3rd in the nation in defensive rebounding is a stat that should surprise no one.
3. Speaking of crashing the boards; offensive rebounding is a great way to manufacture points when the perimeter shooting gets cold. Nobody is doing that better than Cincinnati. The Bearcats lead the NCAA in offensive boards.
4. Still trying to figure out how 9-3 Virginia lost to Old Dominion right before the holidays. The win was literally ODU’s second highlight of the season. The Monarchs’ other win was against Morgan State on Nov. 10. Old Dominion is 2-10 overall and host Fairfield this Saturday.
5. Billy Baron playing in the MAAC has proved to be a nice fit. The Canisius guard, who followed father Jim to Buffalo, is averaging nearly 18 ppg. Baron averaged 13 ppg previously at Rhode Island. Jim Baron’s Canisius team is the surprise of the MAAC so far. The Golden Griffins are 8-3 and have beaten St. Bonaventure and Temple.
6. Speaking of the MAAC — teams need to stay away from fouling Iona this year. The Gaels are shooting 79.3 percent as a team from the free-throw line — good for 3rd in the country. When teams play Siena it’s the opposite. The Saints are shooting 57.9 percent from the line — 343rd nationally.
7. Rutgers (8-2) is 2-0 under associate head coach David Cox. Cox is filling in for Mike Rice, who was suspended without pay for 3 games due to violation of athletic department policy. Cox coaches this Friday against Rider — Rice is due back for the Big East opener next Wednesday vs Syracuse.
8. It’s not the passes that make Michael Carter-Williams from Syracuse the nation’s assist leader by far … it’s the timing of his passes. The delivery is often right on the time and his teammates are rarely taken out of rhythm.
9. How about those 49ers? Charlotte is 11-2 overall, with its two losses being Miami and Florida State. This is Charlotte’s last season in the A-10 before they head for Conference USA.
10. We lost a great one in 2012 with the passing of Rick Majerus. Here’s one of his quotes to make us smile….Happy New Year!
On being courted by the University of Texas …
“This (Texas) is a great job and I think DeLoss would be a great guy to work for. But I’m real happy. I like my AD. I like my players. I like Utah. It’s like being a married guy, but Cindy Crawford comes over and asks you if you want to dance. It’s kind of enticing to grab on for a dance. Then after the dance is over, you go back to your wife.” [Austin American-Statesman, 12/12/1998]
Vin Parise is the College Basketball Insider for NBC Sports. You can catch him on NBC Sports Network’s SportsTalk – Mon-Fri. 6 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter @VinParise.