I’m not sure what’s better, Buay Tuach’s name or this dunk, which nearly ended the life of Gonzaga’s Zach Collins:
Last night’s UCLA-Oregon game was a thriller, complete with a monster dunk, a crazy comeback and a dagger from one of college basketball’s best players.
But the second half of that game featured some … weird things happening.
Let’s start with the UCLA mascot, who decided that the best way to distract Oregon during a free throw was to drop trou and twerk on the basket stanchion:
I am still dying watching this.
But that wasn’t it.
During one of the timeouts, a UCLA cheerleader fell to the floor from atop a pyramid, which looks quite painful. That’s not funny at all, but the end of the video, with Bill Walton telling us, “safety first” …
I know I’m a terrible person, but I cannot help myself.
Maybe I’m juvenile or maybe I’ve just watched too many prank videos on youtube, but I actually found this kind of funny.
It’s all so staged it’s painful, but that adds to the humor.
1. The NCAA’s first Selection Show preview will happen this weekend: At 12:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, we will officially get the first early unveiling of the bracket in the history of the NCAA tournament.
It’s not going to be the entire bracket. The reveal is only going to be the top 16 teams in the bracket – seeds 1-4 in each of the four regions – but it will give us a glimpse of just what the committee is thinking when it comes to where the likes of Kansas, Baylor, Duke and Kentucky are currently slotted in the bracket.
This decision was somewhat controversial when it was made, but, as of now, it’s only a one-time deal; we are not going to get weekly reveals like we do in college football. It will also turn all eyes on college hoops for the day, and it’s never a bad thing to have the sport sit center stage in the American sports landscape. Overall, this is a net-positive, even if it is something that many people, including me, don’t like.
2. Is this the last chance to end Gonzaga’s undefeated regular season?: The Zags will head to Moraga on Saturday night to pay a visit to No. 20 Saint Mary’s for Gameday. The Gaels are 22-2 on the season and 12-1 in the WCC, but they took a 23-point loss earlier this year when they paid a visit to Spokane for a game. Gonzaga still will have four more games left on their schedule after Saturday, but considering that they’ve won every league game they’ve played this year by double-figures, it’s hard to see them falling to anyone, especially when three of their last four games are at home.
Which leaves Saint Mary’s to carry the burden of ending the streak.
The game comes at an interesting time as well. One of the major talking points with Gonzaga is whether or not this team is “legit”. Can a team from a league like the WCC really be considered a title contender? (Yes, they can.) And, to that point, do they deserve a No. 1 seed? (Yes, they do.) We’ll find out eight hours before their tip-off if they are a No. 1 seed as of today, and, if they lose, we’ll spend the next month wondering whether or not they can do enough to hold onto that seed.
3. Will Kentucky’s “three-hour practice” be enough to get them out of their funk?: Kentucky has been bad for the last three weeks. They’re 2-3 during that stretch, with both of their wins coming at home, one in overtime against Georgia and one by seven points over a bad LSU team. The issue? Well, as I wrote on Wednesday, there’s a lot going on there.
But the main problem is on the defensive side of the ball. They’re not getting stops they need to be able to get to make their transition game work, and, as a result, the issues that they have running half court offense are becoming glaringly obvious. Coach Cal was not happy about this after the game on Tuesday night. He ran the Wildcats through a three-hour practice on Wednesday that was “90 percent defense”. He threatened to shorten the rotation if there are guys that cannot or will not defend.
Will it work? Alabama is 7-4 in the SEC and coming off of a win at South Carolina on Tuesday. That’s a pretty good team. Kentucky needs to show up if they want to win.
4. Louisville will get Quentin Snider back: The Cardinals have played without a point guard for the last month as they’ve dealt with Quentin Snider’s hip injury and the broken hand that Tony Hicks suffered. In their stead, Donovan Mitchell has adopted the primary guard duties, and he’s been, for the most part, awesome. There are two things to watch for with Louisville this weekend: Can Mitchell keep playing this way with Snider back, and will that allow Louisville to solve some of the perimeter scoring issues they’ve had all season long?
5. The Pac-12 race will take an interesting turn on Saturday night: After UCLA landed a come-from-behind win over Oregon on Thursday, the top of the Pac-12 looks like this: Arizona sits all alone in first place, Oregon is a game behind them and UCLA, along with Cal, sits a game out of second play. On Saturday night, Cal, who desperately needs to add an elite win to their tournament résumé, plays at Arizona while Oregon is in LA to face USC, a tournament team in their own right.
With the Wildcats still getting a chance to host UCLA later on this season, losses from the league’s top two teams would make the final month of the regular season very interesting.
No. 1 Gonzaga at No. 20 Saint Mary’s, Sat. 8:15 p.m. (ESPN): This is the last game standing between Gonzaga and an undefeated regular season.
Technically, that’s not true. Gonzaga will still play four games in league play after Saturday – three of which are at home – but the Zags have won every league game by double-figures this season, and that includes a road trip to BYU and their home date with Saint Mary’s back in January.
So while this is college basketball and anything is possible, I feel pretty confident saying that the Zags are going to be able to get into the WCC tournament undefeated … if they can escape Moraga with a win.
And that isn’t going to be an easy task.
The Gaels are good. They control as well as anyone in college basketball. They don’t force a ton of turnovers, instead relying on their ability to make you take tough shots and clearing the defensive glass. They spread the floor with snipers around Jock Landale, the best big man you’ve never heard of, and have yet another in their pipeline of awesome Aussie guards that are straight killers in pick-and-roll action in Emmett Naar.
The question is whether or not they have the weapons you need to beat a Gonzaga team that has as few weaknesses as anyone in college basketball. The best way to beat Gonzaga is to attack their back court with big, athletic guards, as Nigel Williams-Goss and Josh Perkins just don’t have the physical tools that elite back courts do. They do, however, thrive in pick-and-rolls, so it will be interesting to see if Randy Bennett can find a way to scheme Przemek Karnowski into those ball-screens actions.
Bennett is one of the best coaches in the country. McKeon Pavilion will be rocking for Gameday. Will that be enough?
- PREDICTION: I think Saint Mary’s wins this game, which means that I’ll gladly take the Gaels (+2).
No. 2 Villanova at No. 24 Xavier, Sat. 2:30 p.m. (FOX): Xavier is playing without Edmond Sumner right now, who tore his ACL two weeks ago, but that hasn’t slowed the Musketeers down. They’re 3-0 since the injury and they’re the only team that is still within a game of first place Villanova in the Big East standings.
This is going to be their chance to make a run at winning at least a share of the Big East title. It’s not going to be easy to do – Villanova is really good at switching defensively and Xavier doesn’t have the horses inside to capitalize on the fact that Darryl Reynolds is Villanova’s starting center – but they will be playing in the Cintas Center and they will have Trevon Bluiett, who has been sensational of late. He’s hit for at least 20 points in five of his last six games, and he’ll need to do at least that to win on Saturday.
- PREDICTION: I think this is the game where the Musketeers come back to earth. Villanova is too good, so give me the Wildcats (-3).
FIVE MORE GAMES TO WATCH
- Cal at No. 9 Arizona, Sat. 10:00 p.m. (ESPN2): Cal has quietly climbed their way into the Pac-12 title discussion, as they sit just two games out of first place in the league standings. Arizona is in first place. Cal badly needs to add some quality wins to their profile, and this is one of the few they have left. PREDICTION: Arizona (-8)
- No. 5 Oregon at USC, Sat. 10:30 p.m. (Pac-12): Oregon is coming off of a loss at UCLA on Thursday night and will be asked to handle USC, a team with a very similar style of play, on Saturday. The Trojans are currently playing for NCAA tournament seeding. PREDICTION: Oregon (-3)
- No. 11 Cincinnati at No. 25 SMU, Sun. 4:00 p.m. (ESPN): It’s tough to figure out just how good these two teams are because the rest of the AAC stinks. Last month they played a barn-burner in Cincinnati, and you can bet that Semi Ojeleye and the Mustangs will be ready to get some revenge. PREDICTION: SMU (-5)
- No. 12 Virginia at Virginia Tech, Sat. 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU): Nothing like a little in-state rivalry game to kick your Saturday up a notch. The ‘Hoos are in the mix for the ACC regular season title while the Hokies are on the edge of the bubble. This is a critical game for both teams. PREDICTION: Virginia (-8)
- No. 14 Florida State at Notre Dame, Sat. 6:00 p.m. (ESPN): The Irish have a point to prove after they lost at Florida State earlier this season. Notre Dame hit 15 threes in that game but had no answer for Jonathan Isaac. PREDICTION: Notre Dame (-1)
Washington forward Malik Dime, who missed his ninth straight game with a broken finger on Thursday night, slapped a heckler in the student section during halftime of Washington’s loss at Colorado.
According to the student involved, Dime threatened the students as the team headed into the locker room for halftime before approaching them as the team returned to the floor.
“We were talking the usual game talk with the players like we usually do,” Dylan, a CU student, told BSN Denver. “Malik looked over at us at one point and said ‘I’m gonna come over there and slap the s*** out of you.’ We didn’t think that was real so we just laughed and then at the end of the half he came over to us and pretended like he was giving me a handshake and I reached out and he pulled back and slapped me in the face and the follow through hit the person sitting right next to me, which was Brian.”
The man that was slapped confirmed the incident to the Tacoma News Tribune, but added that “everything’s been made right.” Dime reportedly came over and apologized to the students after the game.
The Huskies announced on Friday evening that Dime has been suspended.
“Malik’s actions were inconsistent with his typical behavior,” Romar said in a statement Friday. “They were absolutely unacceptable, and did not represent the values of our team and the sportsmanship spirit of our conference.”
Dime apologized in the release, saying he was “caught up in the emotions of the game.”
“I made a very poor decision,” Dime said, “and did not represent my team, my University, and my family the way I wanted to. I am glad I had the chance to apologize in person to the students involved in the altercation, and I am prepared to accept the full consequences of my actions.”
Washington lost on Thursday, 81-66, falling to 9-15 on the season. Star point guard Markelle Fultz did not play in the game.