College Basketball Oscars: Who would bring home the biggest awards?

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Argo took home Best Picture at Sunday night’s Academy Awards, but who is deserving of similar awards in college basketball? CollegeBasketballTalk compiled a list and voted for winners in 12 key categories. Take a look at the list below. Have a differing opinion? Feel free to vote for your own winners in the comments.

Best Picture: No. 13 Butler 64, No. 8 Gonzaga 63

This one had all the elements of a true masterpiece. There are good college basketball games, then there are those like Butler-Gonzaga on Jan. 19. It had all the elements: the “underdog” implications, the national rankings, the late-game drama, the surprise ending. You thought the game was over when Alex Barlow was called for traveling with 3.5 seconds to play? Wrong. Roosevelt Jones’ steal, weave, and floater as time expired gave Butler the win and cemented a place in highlight history for years to come.

Best Player in a Leading Role: Trey Burke, Michigan (18.6 points, 6.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds per game)

When Burke made the decision to return to Michigan for his sophomore season and put off his NBA dreams for another season, he knew that he was walking into a leading role. He knew he would inherit and team with talent and national title aspirations in the nation’s toughest conference and, like Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln, he has shouldered the weight of those expectations.

Best Player in a Supporting Role: Victor Oladipo, Indiana (14 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.4 steals per game, 63.9% FG)

Oladipo has emerged throughout the season and shown that he has the single most important characteristic of a supporting player: versatility. One night, he could carry the Hoosiers offensively. Another night, it is his defense that makes Indiana go. He may even bring everything together into one performance that is truly masterful, like when he had 21 points, seven rebounds, six steals, and three blocks in a win over Michigan State on Jan. 27.

Best Original Dramatic Sequence: Frantz Massenat, Drexel vs. Hofstra

There’s always room for a low-budget film in the College Basketball Oscars. None is more deserving than the moment Frantz Massenat gave us against Hofstra. With seconds remaining in regulation, Massenat heaved a shot from beyond half court between two defenders and nailed it, giving Drexel the 55-52 win. Perfection. We’ve seen similar shots, like Ben Brust’s prayer against Michigan on Feb. 9 that sent that game into overtime, but sheer distance and the fact that it was for the win gives Massenat the nod.

Best Costume Design: UCLA’s blue alternates, adidas

In a year that has seen its share of new uniforms, including the logo-prominent Nike look to adidas’ monochromatic experiment, UCLA’s blue alternate jerseys stand above the rest. The designer takes care to contrast the lighter blue with a sharp navy color for the number, but also makes one key addition. Where the monochromatic jerseys failed, these succeed. A thin bit of gold outlines the numbers and makes them pop. Important.

Best Short Film: Jamaal Franklin’s Off-the-Backboard Dunk vs. Fresno State

Considering the undertaking, for Franklin to even attempt a moment like this is almost unthinkable. To have captured it so perfectly is something else entirely. But that is a mark of a great innovator. He is not afraid to take chances. As a wise man once said, “You miss 100% of the off-the-backboard alley-oops to yourself that you don’t take.” Perhaps I’m paraphrasing, but the message still rings true.

Best Kiss: Jack Cooley, Notre Dame

Very little can be said, other than to let the image speak for itself. The Casablanca kiss pales in comparison.

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Best Director: Jim Larranaga, Miami

With the cloud of an impending NCAA investigation hanging over the program’s head, Larranaga has worked with a group of veterans that he largely inherited to become a force in the ACC and a contender for a top seed in the NCAA tournament. College basketball lacks a dominant team this season, which makes Larranaga a clearer choice, considering the expectations going into the season, a non-conference loss to Florida-Gulf Coast, and the injuries that the Hurricanes have endured.

He has mastered a range of styles, key for any director, helping Miami to win at a slow, grinding pace, or more up-tempo and in transition. He caps it all off with his personal masterpiece, a 27-point drubbing of then-No. 1 Duke. Bravo.

Best Player in a Foreign Film: Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary’s (Australia)

Dellavedova comes from a program that has a history of producing and developing quality Australian-born players. He is simply the next in line. In the off-season, he developed his game by adding muscle to his frame, making him a player with more physical tools with which to work. He knows how to work the whole “persona” thing, too. His oversized mouthguard is unique and helps him stick out more than just his 16.1 points and 6.3 assists per game already do.

Best Single-Game Performance in a Leading Role: Kendall Williams, New Mexico vs. Colorado State

There are nights when one player simply cannot be stopped. On Feb. 23 against Colorado State, Kendall Williams had one of those nights. The junior shot 12-of-16 from the floor, including 10-of-13 from three-point range on his way to 46 points and a nine-point New Mexico victory. Consider the stakes of the game, with both teams ranked and fighting for position in the highly contested Mountain West, and Williams’ performance shines even brighter.

Most Animated Player: Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss

Henderson has been as polarizing as he has been productive, which makes him such an intriguing personality and the kind of “What will he do next?” character that we don’t often see at the college level. He once posited that Ole Miss could beat Tennessee 10 out of 10 times (100% of the time, for those of you keeping track at home), and on another occasion kindly told the media that he didn’t have much time for questions because it was a Saturday night and he had a place to be. Oh, and this happened:

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Breakthrough Performance: Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga (17.0 points, 7.0 rebounds per game)

A breakout performer turns a quality project into an elite one. This is what Kelly Olynyk has done for Gonzaga. Olynyk redshirted the 2011-12 season and came out of it now averaging 17.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He has shown the ability to attack defenses in a number of ways, whether it is around the rim, off the dribble, or on the perimeter. Gonzaga has ridden the classic underdog narrative to a 27-2 record and a No. 3 national ranking. The Bulldogs are hoping that this one ends with triumph and possibly even a national championship.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Jeff Withey, Kansas (13.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.0 blocks per game)

The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to the nation’s best fifth-year senior. Its recipients are part of a select group, one that only has players who have continued to produce long after others around them are past their time. Coach Bill Self and Kansas has had continued success because elite players leave and more fill in seamlessly behind them. This season, Withey is that elite player filling in the gap left by the depature of Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson and is one of the main reasons that the Jayhawks are eyeing another Final Four run. For that, Mr. Withey, we honor you.

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

Bubble Banter: Can Maryland or Notre Dame actually get a bid to the tournament?

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Saturday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

WINNERS

MIAMI (RPI: 33, KenPom: 43, NBC seed: 8): Miami added a fourth Quadrant 1 win on Monday night by going into South Bend and picking off Notre Dame. The Hurricanes are in the conversation as a bubble team for a two reasons — they have a Quadrant 3 loss to Georgia Tech, and they had lost three in a row entering Monday night. What’s interesting with Miami’s profile is that they don’t really have any elite wins. They beat Middle Tennessee State on a neutral. They won at Virginia Tech, N.C. State and Notre Dame. That’s it. Those are their four Quadrant 1 wins. Their profile is probably strong enough to get them in, but I do think there is a world where they get a lower seed than you might be expecting.

MARYLAND (RPI: 54, KenPom: 41, NBC seed: Out): The Terps, who won at Northwestern tonight, seem to be in the mix on most of the places that I go to read about the bubble, and frankly, I just don’t get it. They do not have a Quadrant 1 win. They are 0-9 against Quadrant 1 opponents. In a year where the NCAA Selection Committee showed us just how much they value quality wins already, I’m not sure that they can build a profile that is strong enough to get a bid unless they beat Michigan on Saturday and win a couple of games against the top of the Big Ten in the Big Ten tournament. They’re at least three wins away in my mind. Like I said, I just don’t see it, but I figured it was worth mentioning here on a slow night.

LOSERS

NOTRE DAME (RPI: 68, KenPom: 33, NBC seed: Next four out): The Fighting Irish are in an interesting spot. Their profile is not exactly worthy of an at-large bid. But they’ve also been decimated by injury. Bonzie Colson is still out with a foot injury. So is D.J. Harvey. Matt Farrell and Rex Pflueger have both missed tie with injuries. If Colson can get healthy before the season ends and the Irish can win a couple games at or near full strength, they will have an interesting case to make. I do, however, think that would require winning two of their last three games. One of those three games is at Virginia, so they have their work cut out for them.

Calipari defends Diallo and gives insight into his own philosophy

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John Calipari was asked a question about struggling freshman Hamidou Diallo. He ended up giving an answer about his general coaching philosophy.

“Making them be responsible for who they are. In his case, I’m with Hami. He’s trying. He’s working,” Calipari said. “If he’s willing to do that and put in extra work, I’m for him. If you’re playing awful, I may not play you as much, but I’m going to play you and if you’re doing what we’re asking you to do, I’m going to encourage you.

“It would probably be easier when a guy plays poorly to say you’re out and i’m going with these seven I’m just not going to do that.”

Calipari likened the approach to what a well-intentioned parent might say to him about their son who is struggling.

“I would say (a parent) would say, ‘Coach, he’s responsible for himself, but please keep coaching him and let him know you love him and keep being there for him but hold him accountable,’” Calipari said. “‘If he’s not going to listen to you you should not play him. That’s what I think a parent that’s not trying to enable their son (should say).”

On the other hand, Calipari discussed what the opposite of that situation would look like.

“If they’re listening to an enabler, whoever that enabler is, I can’t help you,” he said. “I told you when I walked in the door, this is going to be about the players first and I’m trying to stay that course but they are responsible for themselves.

“If they can’t perform, I’m going to play you but when they’re not performing, you can’t be in there.”

Calipari can oftentimes be full of bluster – it’s an essential part of his Always Be Selling philosophy that’s won the hearts of countless five-star recruits and a national championship. But this looks to be an honest look into the way he views his job and role with his players. Give ultra-talented guys opportunity, but keep them accountable. It’s a simple thought, but one that few execute as well and as consistently as he does.

Texas Tech’s Keenan Evans “day-to-day” with toe injury

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It would appear that sixth-ranked Texas Tech may have avoided its worst-case scenario with star guard Keenan Evans.

The senior is considered day-to-day with a toe injury suffered Saturday in a loss at Baylor, and could play as soon as Wednesday against Oklahoma State, Red Raiders coach Chris Beard said Monday.

“It’s going to come down to just pain tolerance and can he move,” Beard said, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “We all know Keenan is a warrior. He’s going to do everything he possibly can to play. … At the end of the day, just kind of how he reacts to his body.”

Evans is averaging 18.2 points per game for the Red Raiders, and his health is paramount for their attempt to unseat Kansas atop the Big 12. Texas Tech and the Jayhawks are locked in a first-place tie with matching 10-4 league records with four games to play. After the Red Raiders’ trip to Stillwater on Wednesday, they host Kansas on Saturday in a game that very well could decide the fate of the Jayhawks’ 13-year run of conference championships.

While the Big 12 race is certainly front of mind, the fact that Evans is potentially going to be able to play this week is a great sign for Texas Tech. Even if Evans does need to miss a game or two to get his toe fully healthy, the timeline and conditions Beard laid out Monday suggest that he’ll be good to go before the NCAA tournament for a Red Raiders team that certainly is a contender to finish its season in its home state – at the Final Four in San Antonio.

NCAA tourney chair addresses non-conference strength of schedule and quadrant system

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The way the NCAA tournament selection committee picks teams for inclusion into the sport’s crowning event is always under intense scrutiny. It’s a national past time, really.

One of the easiest targets is the RPI, an obviously flawed metric. It was the topic of discussion recently in the Omaha World-Herald, most notably the non-conference strength of schedule component.

That post spurred a lengthy response from Creighton athletic director and selection committee chairman Bruce Rasmussen, who defended the committee’s work with a metric that it acknowledges to be imperfect.

Here’s Rasmussen:

“Non-conference SOS is not a predominant tool in selections.

In fact, each year that I have been on the committee, we have discussed why you have to look beyond the number to evaluate a team’s non-conference strength of schedule, and even with this qualifier, non-conference schedule ranks well behind other factors such as how you did against other tournament caliber teams, did you win the games you were supposed to win, and how did you do away from home since winning away from home is difficult and the tournament games are all games away from home.

“I have argued each year that I have been on the committee that non-conference SOS should be taken off the team sheet, but until we develop a new metric it is staying. However, understand that the committee understands its fallacies (as we also recognize other weaknesses in the current RPI formula) and it is not a prominent factor in decisions.”

Rasmussen also examined the quadrant system being used:

“Many think that the first and second quadrants are silos and that every win in the first quadrant or every win in the second quadrant is treated equally.  I think it is important that while we refer to first and second quadrant wins, we also better communicate that this is only a sorting mechanism and each game in these quadrants is looked at differently. They don’t have the same value.”

So while it’s fair to question NCAA selection committee’s decisions and the way in which they make them, it’s clear there is an extensive amount of well-intentioned thought put into the process.

College Basketball Coaches Poll: Michigan State moves atop the Top 25

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Michigan State is your new No. 1 team in the country, according to the USA Today Coaches Poll.

The Spartans received 20 of a possible 32 first-place votes after their comeback from 27 points down to beat Northwestern on the road on Saturday.

Virginia is still sitting at No. 2 while Villanova and Xavier round out the top four. Duke climbed a few spots to No. 5.

Here is the full coaches poll:

1. Michigan State (20 first-place votes)
2. Virginia (8)
3. Villanova (4)
4. Xavier
5. Duke
6. Gonzaga
7. Texas Tech
8. Kansas
9. Purdue
10. North Carolina
11. Cincinnati
12. Wichita State
13. Auburn
14. Arizona
15. Ohio State
16. Michigan
17. Clemson
18. Rhode Island
19. Tennessee
20. Saint Mary’s
21. West Virginia
22. Nevada
23. Houston
24. Middle Tennessee State
25. Arizona State