Rob Dauster

BLOOMINGTON, IN - DECEMBER 28:  Head coach Tim Miles of the Nebraska Cornhuskers calls out instructions in the first half against the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall on December 28, 2016 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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Nebraska snaps No. 16 Indiana’s 26-game home court winning streak

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Glynn Watson Jr. scored 26 points and added four assists and five steals as Nebraska went into Assembly Hall and stunned No. 16 Indiana, 87-83.

This is just a massive win for Nebraska and Tim Miles, as the Huskers had entered this game losing six of their last eight games – including falling at home to Gardner-Webb – which had created a negative enough atmosphere around the program that the always-affable Miles had to take a twitter-hiatus.

While this isn’t enough to get Nebraska anywhere near the NCAA tournament conversation, it should relieve some of the pressure on Miles and his program while giving them a nice boost of confidence heading into Big Ten play. Remember, the year that Miles took Nebraska to the NCAA tournament the Huskers were just 19-13 on the season and needed a flurry of impressive league wins to get the bid.

So good for Nebraska.

But the bigger story here is Indiana, who saw their 26-game home-court winning streak get snapped. No team in college basketball has as big of a gap between their ceiling and their floor as the Hoosiers do, and there are a number of reasons for that.

For starters, they are a team that relies heavily on the three-ball to win games. When they’re hot, they can beat anyone in the country; ask Kansas and North Carolina. The problem comes when the Hoosiers aren’t making those threes. There are just so many question marks on the offensive side of the ball. They don’t have a point guard and they don’t have a go-to guy, meaning that when they can’t score in transition and when they can’t get an open look from three, their offense can struggle to get good looks. As good as Thomas Bryant and O.G. Anunoby are, they are role players through and through.

And then there is Indiana’s defense, which hasn’t been a hallmark of the program since Crean arrived. The only year that he finished better than 38th in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric is the year he had Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, and even then they were 21st.

That all somewhat belies the point here, because the issue is Tom Crean.

It’s not his coaching, mind you. I’d argue that the reason Indiana holds the wins that they currently hold have as much to do with Crean’s coaching as anything Indiana has done this season. Lest we forget that just eight months ago, Indiana was in the Sweet 16 after winning the Big Ten title outright by two games despite a horrid start to the 2015-16 season.

To me, the issue Indiana is dealing with is expectations. Last season’s performance combined with the hype the Hoosiers received when they won those early season games had Indiana getting ranked among the teams that are truly national title contenders. ESPN had the Hoosiers No. 1 in their Power Rankings during the second week of the season.

Indiana fans saw that.

They expected this team to pick up where last season’s team left off, even though the flaws in this roster were as clear as day; there is a Yogi Ferrell-sized hole in Indiana’s back court this season.

And that normally wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact Crean’s Big Ten title team played him off of the hot seat. He was a conference champion eight months ago, but 20 months ago Indiana fans were chanting “Tom Crean sucks” at his son’s basketball games.

Getting off the hot seat is nearly impossible to do in college basketball. Once the fan base turns, it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re one bad season – or bad month, or bad game – away from being the worst thing to happen in the history of the program. And that seems to be the way this season is trending for Crean.

Because people see the two potential first round picks on the roster and the wins over Kansas and North Carolina and assume that a flawed roster should spend an entire season playing above their heads.

BLOOMINGTON, IN - DECEMBER 19:  Tom Crean the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers gives instructions to his team during the game against the Delaware State Hornets at Assembly Hall on December 19, 2016 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Tom Crean (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

2016 Year In Review: College Basketball’s Top Ten Dunks

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 29:  Miles Bridges #22 of the Michigan State Spartans dunks over Amile Jefferson #21 and Frank Jackson #15 of the Duke Blue Devils during the game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 29, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 78-69.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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With 2016 coming to a close, it’s time for us to take a look back and all the good things that happened to us. The best games, the most memorable moments and, today, the most vicious, posterizing, jump-out-of-your-seat-and-scream dunks from the last 365 days.

Yeah.

This will be fun to reminisce about.

HONORABLE MENTION

10. Arizona State’s Obinna Oleka catches an alley-oop that leaves a Purdue defender lying prone on the court. True story: I was sitting next to Matt Norlander of CBS Sports at Madison Square Garden during this game … and missed the dunk live because I was busy staring at my laptop. Good job, Rob.

9. This dunk from Wichita State’s 6-foot-1 Daishon Smith actually came just a few minutes after the No. 1 dunk on our list on a Saturday afternoon earlier this month, and the fact that it came in a game that the Shockers were playing against Oklahoma meant it got somewhat buried:

8. Notre Dame’s V.J. Beachem had a couple of nominees for this list, but it was his work against Colorado in November that beat out this dunk in the Elite 8 for me. Was I wrong?:

7. UCLA’s Prince Ali threw down a couple of nasty dunks last season, but this one, the nastier of the two, actually fell during 2016.

6. Oregon’s Dwayne Benjamin graduated during the offseason, which is why you haven’t seen highlights like this come out of Eugene this season.

5. We tried to tell you guys about the explosiveness of Kansas’ Josh Jackson. Not everyone wanted to listen, apparently.

4. Kansas’ Wayne Selden actually had my favorite dunk from 2016, and it wasn’t because of the dunk itself. It was because his uncle nearly had a heart attack afterwards.

3. Cal’s Jaylen Brown had a number of awesome dunks, the best of which came last November, or not during 2016. But this one, against Oregon State, was pretty terrific as well.

2. It really is a shame that USC’s Julian Jacobs left school early, because he was an exhilarating talent to watch that wasn’t seen by enough people. Here he is committing felonious assault on Marquese Chriss.

1. This, from Grayson Allen, is just flat out filthy.

Gay ex Drake assistant sues, says she was forced to quit

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Former Drake assistant Courtney Graham has sued Bulldogs coach Jennie Baranczyk and the university, claiming she was forced to resign after her homosexuality became public.

In her recently filed federal lawsuit, Graham alleged that Baranczyk slowly stripped her of her duties as assistant head coach after she brought her girlfriend and now wife to a home game in November 2014.

According to Graham, Baranczyk told her she “was not acting like herself” and forced her to take time off shortly after Baranczyk learned of Graham’s sexual orientation. Graham also alleged that she was subsequently left out of team meetings and scouting trips and subjected to hostile interactions at work.

Baranczyk and athletic director Sandy Hatfield-Clubb, through spokesman Ty Patton, declined to comment. Patton said that the university’s policy is not to comment on personnel matters or pending lawsuits.

Graham said she was asked to resign in May 2015 without reason, and that she ultimately resigned under duress roughly three weeks later. Graham’s lawsuit alleges sexual orientation discrimination, two counts of retaliation, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and harassment.

Baranczyk was a standout player at nearby Dowling Catholic High who then played at Iowa. Baranczyk is now in her fifth year at Drake and recorded back-to-back 20-win seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16.

VIDEO: Tom Izzo’s mom joins postgame celebration

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Michigan State landed a much-needed, come-from-behind win to knock off Minnesota on the road to kick off Big Ten play.

The Spartans were 8-5 entering the game and were playing without Miles Bridges. Minnesota? They were 12-1 and had the look of a team getting ready to mount a run at the NCAA tournament.

How big was the win?

Tom Izzo brought his 90-year old mother into the locker room after the game for a group-hug:

Great post game scene in the victorious MSU locker room as the Spartans received a visit from Coach Izzo's 90-year old mother Dorothy.

A post shared by Michigan State Basketball (@michiganstatebasketball) on

It’s pretty awesome that every player seems to know Dorothy Izzo already, but my absolute favorite part of this video is Tum Tum Nairn exploding out of his seat to celebrate with her.

THE UNDEFEATEDS: When will each of the six remaining lose?

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 03: Lonzo Ball #2 of the UCLA Bruins reacts after making a three-point basket against the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half of the game at Rupp Arena on December 3, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. UCLA defeated Kentucky 97-92. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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No. 22 USC Trojans (3-0): For a team that entered the season with just four players that had played a second of basketball for USC prior to the season, it’s impressive that head coach Andy Enfield has managed to steer them to a 13-0 with wins at Texas A&M, at home against SMU and over BYU on a neutral court. It’s worth noting they’ve done all this more-or-less without Bennie Boatwright, their starting four-man who has dealt with knee and back injuries.

  • First loss: 12/30 at Oregon, 14-0. The Trojans will playing their second road game in three days when they play in Eugene, and by then, it’s probably fair to assume that this Oregon team, who was in the top five in the preseason will get things figured out. The key? When does Boatwright get back.
  • Next game: 12/28 at Oregon State

No. 1 Villanova (12-0): Villanova is the reigning national champion, and they look to be even better this season than last. That’s, in large part, due to Player of the Year favorite, Josh Hart; like Buddy Hield and Denzel Valentine last season, Hart has really improved as a senior. Villanova is also playing without Phil Booth, who has a knee injury. This group has more than earned the right to be in the same conversation – To lead the conversation? – as the likes of Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and UCLA, the biggest brands with the most talent in the sport. Jay Wright may not have NBA scouts beating down the doors of practice to get a look at the guys on his roster, but this veteran group is greater as a whole than the sum of their parts.

  • First loss: 12/31 at Creighton, 13-0: Creighton has always been a tough matchup for Villanova because Creighton plays the same kind of small-ball, four-around-one style. What’s traditionally made Villanova so difficult for opponents to deal with is that they create mismatches offensively. Wright’s players are versatile defenders. Creighton, however, can do the same thing. Cole Huff, the Bluejays four-man, can play as a small forward and is most comfortable on the perimeter. He will have no issues defending the lines of Eric Paschall or Kris Jenkins. Throw in the fact that Creighton packs 17,000 fans into their home games, and I think they can hand the Wildcats their first loss.
  • Next game: 12/28 vs. DePaul

RESETS: ACC | Big Ten | Big East | Pac-12 | SEC | Big 12

No. 4 Baylor (12-0): Baylor has been the most surprising team in college basketball this season. The Bears have piled up wins over Oregon, VCU, Michigan State, Louisville and Xavier, which would put them squarely in the conversation for a No. 1 seed in the season ended today. They’ll need to beat Kansas at least once and win either a share of the Big 12 regular season title or the tournament title to have a shot at a No. 1 seed, but it’s not out of the question. I’m not yet ready to say that Baylor is in the same class as the likes of KU, Kentucky, Duke, Villanova, North Carolina or UCLA, but I am ready to say that every single one of us missed wildly on how good Baylor would be this season.

  • First loss: 1/10 at West Virginia, 15-0. The Mountaineers are another team we missed on in the preseason, and I think they provide a nightmare matchup for Baylor. The Bears strength is their front court, but that can get taken away by the pressure WVU provides. I think pressure can beat the Bears, and no one has a tougher press than Press Virginia.
  • Next game: 12/30 vs. Oklahoma
LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Greg McDermott of the Creighton Bluejays talks with Maurice Watson Jr. #10 during the team's game against the Massachusetts Minutemen during the championship game of the Men Who Speak Up Main Event basketball tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 25, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Creighton won 97-76.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

No. 10 Creighton (12-0): The Bluejays are such a fun team to watch. They push the ball as fast as anyone and they are the best three-point shooting team in college basketball at 45.5 percent. Their six best shooters all check-in at better than 41.0 percent, while five of those six shoot better than the team average. The Bluejays are UCLA with a fifth-year senior at the point, the nation’s leader in assists in Maurice Watson Jr., instead of a superstar freshman. This team is more talented than the team Creighton had during Doug McDermott’s senior season.

This week is huge for the Bluejays. They host both Seton Hall and Villanova, two teams that play with the kind of toughness than can expose Creighton’s interior. If they’re going to be a Big East title contender, they have to get these two wins.

  • First loss: 1/16 at Xavier, 18-0: There are two things you can count on with a program run by Chris Mack: toughness and defense will never, ever be an issue. They’re hard to beat in the Cintas Center and there’s a chance that Myles Davis will be back by then. I don’t want to bet against Xavier in a situation like that were they really need a win.
  • Next game: 12/28 vs. Seton Hall

No. 7 Gonzaga (12-0): Of the six teams left without a loss, I think Gonzaga probably has the best chance to get to the NCAA tournament unblemished. Part of that is because they play in the West Coast Conference, a league where every road game is their opponent’s Super Bowl, although those opponents are decidedly mid-major competition. Gonzaga? They’re as high-major as high-major gets and have a roster that is stocked with talent. Nigel Williams-Goss and Josh Perkins have played really well together in the back court, while Jordan Mathews works as a floor-spacer and Silas Melson has seemed to embrace his role within the team. But the front court is where this team is so exciting. Przemek Karnowski and Johnathan Williams III are veterans that fit well together, but there’s an argument to be made that their freshmen backups – Killian Tillie and Zach Collins – are the second-best front court pairing in the league. I think this is the best team that Mark Few has had in Spokane, and that includes the Adam Morrison and Kelly Olynyk years.

The biggest concern with the Zags: Who is their go-to guy? Who gets their name called when Mark Few needs to stop a run or when Gonzaga needs a bucket in the final minute to win a game? There isn’t really a star on this roster.

  • First loss: 2/11 at Saint Mary’s, 25-0: This year is the first time that the Zags have reached 12-0 since joining Division I. They’ll have two more real tests before their road trip to Moraga – they host the Gaels in mid-January and visit BYU in early February – but if they can get to this game unscathed, they’ll have a shot to be undefeated when the postseason comes around.
  • Next game: 12/29 vs. Pepperdine

No. 2 UCLA (13-0): We mentioned earlier how Creighton’s offense is a powerhouse. Well, UCLA is the only team in the country that has a higher effective field goal percentage, and not only do they play at a faster pace than Creighton, they are one of just eight teams that has a higher offensive efficiency score, according to KenPom. In fact, in the 15 years that KenPom has been in existence, UCLA is on pace to become the first team since Kansas in 2001-02 to finish the season top five in offensive efficiency and in tempo, meaning there’s an argument to be made that we may be watching the best offensive in college hoops since Nick Collison, Kirk Hinrich and Roy Williams were lighting fools up in Lawrence.

  • First loss will be 2/25 at Arizona, 28-0: I think UCLA can get past this road trip to Oregon because I think that the Bruins will have a bit of an advantage over USC; they play the Ducks on the first day of the road trip. The trip to play the Mountain teams (Colorado and Utah) is always tricky given the altitude, and that starts a stretch where they play five of seven on the road, including at USC and capped with a visit to Markelle Fultz and Washington. But I think this group gets through all that mostly because I think the Pac-12 is down this year. (That visit to Utah looks a bit tougher now with Sedrick Barefield and David Collette becoming eligible.) Where I think UCLA gets tripped up is at Arizona, who should have Parker Jackson-Cartwright (and maybe/hopefully Allonzo Trier) back and who should be getting the best out of Kobi Simmons and Rawle Alkins. That’s a fierce rivalry that only has fuel added to the fire by T.J. Leaf, a UCLA player that was originally an Arizona commit.
  • Next game: 12/28 at Oregon
SPOKANE, WA - DECEMBER 07:  Nigel Williams-Goss #5 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs drives against the Washington Huskies in the first half at McCarthey Athletic Center on December 7, 2016 in Spokane, Washington.  Gonzaga defeated Washington 98-71.  (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
Nigel Williams-Goss (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)

UCLA-Oregon, Louisville-Virginia headline busy night

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 17:  Lonzo Ball #2 of the UCLA Bruins brings the ball up the court against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the CBS Sports Classic at T-Mobile Arena on December 17, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. UCLA won 86-73.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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No. 2 UCLA at No. 21 Oregon, 9:00 p.m., ESPN 2

Two months can make a world of difference in sports. Just ask the Oregon Ducks. When this season’s preseason polls were released in October and November, Oregon was a consensus top five team, the overwhelming favorite to win the Pac-12 and one of a handful of teams that us “experts” thought had a chance to poach the national title from Duke.

Fast forward to today and the Ducks have posted a 3-2 record against power conference foes, losing by 17 at Baylor and to a mediocre Georgetown team before struggling to put away NIT hopefuls Tennessee, Alabama and UConn. It hasn’t been pretty, but Oregon also hasn’t been truly healthy all season long. Dillon Brooks, a first-team NBC Sports preseason all-american, missed the first three games of the season coming back from foot surgery. He didn’t actually start a game until Oregon played UNLV two weeks ago, which just so happened to be the first game that Chris Boucher missed with an ankle injury.

Dana Altman has been coy publicly about his status, but Boucher is expected to play tonight, meaning that tonight should be the first time all season long that we’ve seen the Oregon team that we expected to see this season.

And what better time for that team to show up than their Pac-12 opener, a home game against the league’s resident powerhouse, UCLA. The Bruins have been steam-rolling everyone this season, including a trip to Rupp Arena where they beat then-No. 1 Kentucky in their only true road game to date.

Here’s another morsel to chew on: Assuming that the now-100 percent Oregon team plays at close to the level that we thought Oregon would play at in October, this is probably the toughest test that the Bruins will face in the conference this season. If UCLA wins this game, just how long will their undefeated run last?

  • Prediction: I hate betting on road favorites, but given the uncertain nature of Oregon’s health, I think UCLA (-2.5) is probably the safer bet. That said, the bet I like more is taking the over, which is set at 160 points.

RESETS: ACC | Big Ten | Big East | Pac-12 | SEC | Big 12

No. 12 Virginia at No. 6 Louisville, 7:00 p.m., ESPN 2

This is not going to be a pretty basketball game to watch.

At all.

Let’s start with the obvious: these are the two best defensive teams in the country, according to KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric, and when you toss in the fact that Virginia plays at the slowest tempo in all of college basketball, there is not going to be much running-and-gunning on in the Yum! Center tonight.

And that’s before you get into the x’s-and-o’s of those defenses. Let’s start with Virginia, whose Pack-Line defense is designed to bait opponents into shooting contested jumpers while clearing the defensive glass. Louisville is 222nd nationally in three-point shooting, but they are 11th in offensive rebounding percentage. In other words, the things that Louisville does well are precisely the things that Tony Bennett has his team takeaway, and where the Cardinals struggle is what UVA goads opponents into trying to do.

But let’s look at this from the other side of things. The Cardinals run the most confusing defense in the country, an amalgam of different pressure, man-to-man and zone looks that they execute equally well and use to confuse opposing offenses. And while Virginia brought back London Perrantes, they really don’t have anyone else on the roster that has been in a primary role playing against a defense like this in an environment like this. If Louisville can shut down Malik Monk, what are they going to do to Kyle Guy?

That’s a long-winded way of saying that I fully expect this game to be a grind-it-out affair, one where every bucket is earned.

  • Prediction: I like Louisville (-3.5) in this game, mainly because I’m of the mindset that Virginia is somewhat overrated because of what they lack on the offensive end of the floor. I also like the under, which has climbed to 121.5 points at the time of this posting.

THE REST OF WEDNESDAY’S INTERESTING GAMES

Seton Hall at No. 10 Creighton, 8:00 p.m., FS2: This will be a good test for Creighton, a team that lights it up offensively but can have some issues when it comes to toughness, particularly in the paint. Seton Hall? They might be the toughest team in the country. Prediction: I like Seton Hall (+6.5), but the line opened at (+9), so get those bets in soon.

Providence at No. 17 Xavier, 7:00 p.m.: The Friars have a guady, 11-2 record on the season, but they have done much to justify that record to date beyond a win over a Rhode Island team that has not lived up to expectation. Xavier, on the other hand, has struggled a bit themselves this season, as their offense has looked limited without Myles Davis on the floor. Prediction: This is the game where Providence gets exposed. Xavier (-10).