Ohio State  v Michigan

If Ohio State-Michigan taught us anything, it’s that college hoops is still great

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There are plenty of topics to focus a post on coming out of that thrilling, 76-74 overtime victory that No. 3 Michigan earned over No. 10 Ohio State on Tuesday night.

Tim Hardaway Jr., who has spent his career at Michigan trying to prove himself a consistent perimeter shooter, draining five of his six threes in the second half to keep Ohio State from pulling away.

LaQuinton Ross (16 points after never scoring more than eight in a Big Ten game in his career) and Amir Williams both playing the game of their lives, helping Ohio State build a seven-point second half lead despite a mediocre (by his standards) performance from Deshaun Thomas.

John Beilein’s decision to use Burke as a facilitator and, for a long stretch in the second half, as a decoy on the offensive end of the floor thanks to Aaron Craft’s ability to suffocate a ball-handler.

Thad Matta’s questionable play-calling down the stretch. Thomas didn’t get a touch on the offensive end of the floor in overtime while Ross didn’t get off the bench.

The emergence of Mitch McGary for John Beilein.

Should Aaron Craft have drawn a foul on his final, coast-to-coast layup attempt? (Probably.)

But all that? It’s besides the point here.

This was, simply put, a fantastic basketball game between two very good teams playing their best basketball in a jam-packed, raucous arena on national television on a Tuesday night. As good as it gets. And it came immediately after a mediocre Arkansas team knocked off the No. 2 team in the country — No. 1 if you listened to me — in dominating Florida. It came just three days after Indiana and Michigan capped another terrific Saturday of hoops with what we thought was the best game of the year. Think about that. It only took 72 hours for the season’s best game to date to become the second best game involving Michigan this season.

And this is a sport that’s in shambles? This is the sport that everyone is trying to fix?

We’re going to get a game like this on what will seem like a nightly basis in the Big Ten. That’s what happens when half of a 12 team league is in the top 25 and four of those teams are in the top ten. (To prove a point, tomorrow, No. 18 Minnesota visits No. 12 Michigan State.)

And that’s just the start of it.

The Mountain West is the nation’s toughest conference, with five of the nine league members battling for a tournament spot. The Atlantic 10 may be the most difficult to figure out, as everyone seems to be within a game or two of first place. The Big East has seven teams in the top 25 and half the league within a game of first. Miami’s surge to relevance is one of college basketball’s best storylines, while the Big 12 has suddenly turned into a race with the way Kansas has struggled offensively in league play.

I could go on, but I won’t.

If you’ve made it this far, and you’re still agreeing with me while nodding along and saying, “preaching to the choir, Rob”, than my job here is done. If you’re not, than you haven’t made it this far.

Which is perfectly fine.

Because if you truly believe college basketball is in shambles, than you’re simply not watching enough games.

You’re not trying hard enough.

So go ahead and kill the time over the next six weeks watching the NBA, because they’re putting in just as much effort as you are.

If you can’t find a way to enjoy what we witnessed tonight — and what we witnessed on Saturday and, seemingly, countless times this season — than we don’t want you here.

See yourself out.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Indiana roster dealing with handful of injuries as practice begins

BLOOMINGTON, IN - NOVEMBER 20:  A general view of  the SMU Mustangs game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall on November 20, 2014 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Indiana has been hit with the injury buy a bit during the start of practice and it doesn’t only involved the recent announcement of knee surgery for senior Collin Hartman.

According to a report from the Indiana Daily Student the Hoosiers are also dealing with a knee injury for junior college transfer forward Freddie McSwain and sophomore Juwan Morgan hasn’t been cleared for practice yet after offseason shoulder surgery.

The 6-foot-6 McSwain had a knee injury flare up when he came to Indiana and had surgery to clean it up. Crean told the Indiana Daily Student that McSwain was still a few weeks from returning.

That means Indiana has to find early practice minutes to replace Hartman, Morgan and McSwain up front which gives more reps to players like O.G. Anunoby and freshman big man De’Ron Davis.

Since Anunoby and Davis both dealt with some offseason injuries and guard Robert Johnson was recently cleared to return, Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean is remaining cautious during the early part of practice this season. Crean also has to monitor the return of starting guard James Blackmon Jr. after he missed most of last season with a torn ACL.

“We would have already practiced this morning and they would be ready to go tonight, if this were a year ago,” Crean said in the report. “We have to tailor make this thing. We can’t be in too much of a rush with these guys.”

Obviously, the frontcourt injuries are something to keep an eye on for Indiana during the early part of the season. None of the three injuries seem severe, but Hartman’s timetable to return hasn’t been listed and McSwain and Morgan are missing valuable early time in practice.

It’ll be interesting to see if this helps younger players like Anunoby and Davis get more acquainted with the first team early on since both could have an impact this season.

Texas lands four-star Class of 2017 guard Jase Febres

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Texas and head coach Shaka Smart continue to recruit at a high level, especially in the state of Texas, as the Longhorns landed a commitment from Class of 2017 four-star guard Jase Febres on Friday night.

The 6-foot-5 Febres is considered the No. 63 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings as he burst on the national radar this summer with some strong shooting performances. Febres shot over 40 percent from three-point range during the month of July after battling through injury during the spring. Besides owning good size for a wing shooter, Febres also takes pride in defending and he can rebound a bit from the wing as well.

Febres is going to have to improve his overall offensive package if a defense plays him off the three-point line, but he has upside as a three-and-D guy with the Longhorns.

The Class of 2017 is starting to round into shape for Texas as Febres joins four-star power forward Jericho Sims and four-star forward Royce Hamm. Since taking over the Texas job, Smart has done a great job of keeping local talent home as he now has five four- and five-star prospects from the state in the last two classes.

 

VIDEO: Kentucky fans get married in the ticket line for Big Blue Madness

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Kentucky fans have unique ways of making their annual Big Blue Madness event the most chaotic tip-off event of the season. While Big Blue Nation is waiting in line for tickets to this year’s festivities in Tent City, one couple decided to go the extra mile.

After securing the first spot in line for tickets, Ray Branham and Vicki Harvey opted to get married. According to a post from Drew Franklin of Kentucky Sports Radio, the couple had already been talking about tying the knot, but decided to make the move once they had the top spot in line. As you can see by the wedding video, it was a very Kentucky-themed ceremony as the duo got married in front of friends and other Kentucky fans.

I can’t say I’m surprised two Kentucky fans decided to get married in line for something like Big Blue Madness and this (unplanned) wedding gives this year’s event something unique that we will always remember.

Penn State loses freshman on day practice starts

Patrick Chambers
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On the day that college basketball practice is to start, Penn State head coach Pat Chambers announced that his roster would be changing.

Joe Hampton, a 6-foot-8, 290 pound power forward from Maryland, will be leaving the program.

“Joe has made the decision to leave the program based on personal reasons,” Chambers said. “We wish him the best of luck with his future endeavors.”

Hampton was a three-star prospect that missed his senior season at Oak Hill Academy with torn ACL, but he reportedly enrolled at Penn State in May, before the rest of the Nittany Lion recruit class.

Michigan State lands second Class of 2017 commitment

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Tom Izzo landed his second commitment in the Class of 2017 as big man Xavier Tillman announced that he will be attending Michigan State.

A 6-foot-7, 235 pound power forward, Tillman is a physical-if-undersized player that is rated as a three-star prospect. He’s not a one-and-done player, but he’s should be a good program guy for the Spartans.

“Tillman is another big and strong interior presence for Michigan State,” said NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips. “What separates Tillman from a lot of big men his size is his passing ability. Tillman is an intelligent player on the offensive end and he rebounds his area well.”

Tillman joins Jaren Jackson, his AAU teammate for Speice Indy Heat, in Michigan State’s recruiting class.

He picked Michigan State over Purdue and Marquette.