St John's v Louisville

10 tidbits to know: Louisville bounces back, bad three-point shooting and more

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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. Louisville wins at home yet again, this time vs St. John’s 72-58. The Cardinals final 3 home games are Seton Hall, Cincinnati and Notre Dame — so Rick Pitino’s team winning out the rest of the way at the KFC Yum! Center is more than possible.  So if Michael Carter-Williams misses that dunk on January 19th & Syracuse doesn’t pull off that miraculous win, Louisville had a chance at running the table at home this season.

2. Creighton is 20-6 and 9-5 in the MVC.  Not a Top 25 team anymore, the three-game losing streak has the Bluejays ice-cold as they play at Evansville this weekend.  Is this just a losing streak that will pass or has this team been overrated this season because of how great a player Doug McDermott is?

3. One stat that doesn’t mean much to me this year is three-point defensive field-goal percentage.  I can’t remember a season when I’ve seen so many wide open three-point attempts not go in.  Halftime scores are constantly in the 20’s nightly across the country.  I’m noticing a lot of bad shooting rather than a lot of great perimeter defense.

4. In the MAAC, three games in the win column separate 1st place from 7th place.  Other than St. Peter’s, Siena and Marist, everyone else is in the mix come conference tourney time with 7 or more league wins.  Then again, the 7-18 Marist Red Foxes just beat 1st place Loyola and 2nd place Iona last week.

5. Wright State has been solid but the Horizon League clearly looks like it’s between Valparaiso and Detroit for the conference title. Huge game this weekend as Valpo hosts Detroit.

6. The Bounce Back win of the week goes to Tubby Smith and Minnesota. Heading into the Wisconsin game, the Gophers were 2-6 in their previous eight games and the early season buzz officially disappeared. But the five-point overtime win Thursday night vs No. 20 Wisconsin has Big Ten fans keeping an eye on this team yet again.

7.  Speaking of the Big Ten, I’m curious to see how Iowa looks this weekend vs Minnesota.  5-7 in league is only good for 7th in the Big Ten but the Hawkeyes have lost several close games.  Iowa and Minnesota may be better than we think.

8. For all the debate about who the #1 seeds are right now, have you tried looking at who the #2 seeds may be, compared to the #3 seeds? Miami, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Florida, Michigan State, Arizona, Butler and Louisville.  Good luck sorting out those teams.

9. Washington State is 2-10 in the Pac 12. That’s not a Happy Valentine’s Day no matter how you look at it.

10. Game of the weekend:  Ohio State at Wisconsin — 1pm — Sunday.

Follow Vin on Twitter @VinParise and check him out in studio for NBC Sports Network and SNY.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.