Remember when No. 21 Wisconsin lost five out of six games and fell out of the top 25?
Remember before that, when everyone thought that they were a legitimate Final Four contender?
Expect the latter to become a more prevalent opinion for the Badgers in the coming weeks. Wisconsin went into Ann Arbor on Sunday afternoon and extended their current winning streak to four games by knocking off No. 15 Michigan, 75-62.
The guy that is going to get most of the publicity for the win will be Frank Kaminsky, and deservedly so. The big fella went for 25 points and 11 boards, overwhelming Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford in the post as the Wolverines opted to allow him to operate one-on-one on the block the entire game. He was responsible for the most important run of the game as well. Michigan had cut what was a 16-point second half deficit to 52-49 with six minutes left when Kaminsky took over. He scored in the post to push the lead to five and, on the ensuing possession, blew by Morgan off the dribble for a layup to push the lead to seven. After the Wolverines scored at the other end, Kaminsky went to work on Horford in the post, finishing a three-point play that pushed the lead to 59-51.
After Gasser hit a three with three minutes left and Michigan answered with a free throw, Kaminsky put the game on ice by hitting a step-back three over Morgan with two minutes left.
As impressive as Kaminsky was, the biggest story of the game is going to be how well the Badgers were able to defend on the perimeter. All season long, that has been the question mark for Bo Ryan’s club. Can they keep slashers and penetrating guards out of the lane? Can they cut off the dribble-drive? On Sunday, they did, for the most part. Caris LeVert finished with 25 points and took the game over for a 10 minute stretch in the second half. He was the reason that Michigan even made it a game down the stretch.
But that was it.
Nik Stauskas finished with 11 points and two assists on 4-for-11 shooting. Derrick Walton was 0-for-6 and completely ineffective. Zak Irvin was 1-for-7 from the floor.
This comes after the Badgers were better defending the perimeter against both Michigan State and Minnesota.
That is what is going to be the difference-maker for the Badgers, and it’s something that has gotten better over the course of the last three weeks.
Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.
On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.
One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.
As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).
And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.
While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.
And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.
St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.
Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.
St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.
The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?