Tony Bennett

Virginia’s NCAA hopes in jeopardy as Michael Snaer hits another game-winner (VIDEO)

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Virginia has no desire whatsoever to make things easy on themselves.

What else can the explanation for Virginia’s resume be after they dropped another game with the potential to do more harm than good, falling 53-51 at Florida State?

Michael Snaer, who has now hit six game-winning shots in his career, drove to the basket and completed a three-point play to give the Seminoles the victory. And the result means that Virginia will have a lot of work to do at the ACC tournament next weekend regardless of what happens in their regular season finale against Maryland.

Despite struggling for much of the night (2-of-14 3PT) the table was set for Virginia to steal one, as a team that has been the worst in the ACC on the offensive glass grabbed 15 offensive rebounds and scored 20 second chance points. Akil Mitchell led the way with 15 points and 12 rebounds and Joe Harris added 12 on 5-of-15 shooting.

Virginia (20-9, 10-6) has lost two straight since their win over Duke last Thursday, with both defeats coming on the road against teams below .500 in ACC play. The Cavaliers’ half-court style may lend itself to closer games, but in the aftermath of their win over the Blue Devils is it possible that Tony Bennett’s team considered its work done in regards to making the NCAA tournament?

The letdown has come on the defensive end in losses at Boston College and Florida State, with the Seminoles hitting 47.7% of their shots from the field on Thursday night (entering the game FSU shot 42.6% from the field in ACC play). The Cavaliers rank third in the ACC in both field goal and three-point percentage defense but they haven’t defended at that level in either of their last two games.

Given their overall resume Virginia is a team that’s going to alternate between brilliant and head-scratching performances. With the NCAA tournament bubble being what it is all the Cavaliers had to do over their last three games is stay out of their own way.

Virginia’s failed to do so, and as a result Sunday’s regular season finale may not be their final home game this season.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.

LSU looking into starting lineup options

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - MARCH 7:  Head Coach Johnny Jones of the LSU Tigers watches his team play during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena on March 7, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 81-78.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.

While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.

Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?

Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.

Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.