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Duke shuts down Krzyzewskiville due to flu concerns

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DURHAM, N.C. — Duke’s famed Krzyzewskiville will be a ghost town for a while because of flu concerns.

School officials said Thursday that students in the makeshift tent village outside Cameron Indoor Stadium have received an indefinite grace period to leave and return to their dorms.

Larry Moneta, Duke’s vice president for student affairs, said in a letter to parents that the school has “elected to take a cautious approach” but hopes to have Krzyzewskiville back to normal soon.

It’s a tradition at Duke for students to camp out in tents to claim the best seats for the North Carolina game, which is on March 3. Unless a grace period has been announced, students must be present in the tents both day and night.

Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh: ‘We weren’t mentally ready’

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One of the feel good stories of the 2016-17 college basketball season has turned into one of the most disappointing and head-scratching stories of this year.

Northwestern, after many, many, many close calls, finally ended their run as the only high-major basketball program to have never reached the NCAA tournament last year. And with a roster that was more or less unchanged from a season ago, the overarching consensus was simple: Northwestern would have a chance to be one of the best teams in the Big Ten this year.

That has not exactly gone to plan.

The Wildcats are 13-10 on the season. They are 4-6 in the Big Ten. They have totally and completely been forgotten from a national perspective. I can’t remember the last time I looked at a Northwestern box score, let alone watched a Northwestern game.

And the program is starting to talk about why.

“I kind of knew we weren’t ready,” star point guard Bryant McIntosh told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We weren’t really prepared to play a good team. We weren’t mentally ready. I don’t think we were in shape physically. I’m still not sure we’re even really in shape now.”

Yikes.

There’s more.

“Guys were working hard, but you can always notice when there’s an edge to a team,” head coach Chris Collins said. “There’s an edge to their workouts, when they’re lifting weights, when they’re shooting, when they’re practicing. Our guys were working, but we didn’t have that same edge. We didn’t have that same hunger that I had seen the previous couple years.”

“At the end of the day, I take responsibility for it. I told them, but I wasn’t as strong as I needed to be with it. I would love to go back and have a heavier hand with those guys and force them [to change].”

The running narrative of Northwestern’s season has been that it is easier to be the hunter than the hunted.

That appears to be true.

And, if these quotes are an accurate portrayal of what happened heading into the season, now we know why.

Michigan State Scandal: Tom Izzo refusing to talk is not going to quiet the questions

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The conversation surrounding the way Tom Izzo has answered questions regarding Michigan State’s handling of sexual assault allegations within the athletic department should start and end with this:

Do you think that Tom Izzo believes he did something wrong?

That he made a mistake?

That he erred in the way that he handled accusations against Travis Walton, Adreian Payne and Keith Appling?

Let’s think about this from Izzo’s perspective.

When Walton was accused in February of 2010 of punching a woman in the face at a bar, he had known Izzo — from recruitment through graduation — for upwards of seven years. Izzo thought enough of him as a player to name him captain three times and enough of him as a kid to, reportedly, allow Walton to move into his basement in January of 2010 so Walton can finish his degree.

Think about the people that you know best, that you really, really care about. If they were accused of assaulting a person in a bar and they told you that the accusations were not true, would you believe them? If a judge approved a ruling that would allow that person to travel across state lines, would that reinforce your belief in their innocence? If they eventually plead out to a charge of littering, would that confirm all of the assumptions you had made?

When Adreian Payne and Keith Appling were initially accused and investigated of sexually assaulting a woman in the fall of 2010, it was early in their first semester on campus, before practices were officially allowed to start. On October 1st of that year, before the season started, former Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III released a statement that included this sentence:

“Based on our review of all of the materials, including the police report, actual interviews, and the specific details that were elicited directly from the Complainant, our office reached the conclusion that no crime had been committed.” (My emphasis added.)

I’m not arguing whether or not Izzo messed up. I did that in this column, and spent 2,000 words parsing out all the nuances.

I think he did.

So go read that, then listen to the podcast below:

What I’m asking today is whether or not Izzo thinks he was wrong, and I truly don’t think that he does.

Maybe, in hindsight, he wishes he would have done things differently — especially after Walton was accused of a separate sexual assault just a couple of months after the incident at the bar — but if you caught Izzo in a moment of honesty, with no cameras and no recorders and no witnesses, I would be willing to bet my left thumb that he believes that he made the right decision with the information that he had at the time.

Izzo, more than anything else, is known for his honesty and his accessibility, more so than just about any coach in the country and certainly more than any that are at his level. Part of that is by design. It’s easier to stay in front of a story when a reporter can reach out directly to you, or vice versa; it’s easier to cultivate a blue-collar, one-of-the-guys persona by being willing to talk, on just about any topic that comes up.

That’s what makes the last five days and three press conferences so odd.

Seeing Izzo uncomfortable in front of a microphone is not what we are used to. Seeing him duck a question by sticking to his talking points — call the victims ‘survivors’, say you have and will participate in every investigation, repeat “I have given my comments, I have no additional ones” ad nauseum — is a stark contrast from the Izzo we’ve come to expect.

The thought has been that Izzo’s silence has been a direct result of some high-priced lawyers or PR professionals telling him to be quiet, giving him prepared statements, keeping him from going off-script in the ways that have made him so likable in the past. On Wednesday night, after Michigan State beat Penn State, he hinted that maybe that’s not quite the case.

“I don’t know if I can’t,” Izzo said. “I can do whatever I want to do, I just don’t think that it’s the right time right now.”

“Those of you that know me know that I’m going to do what I think is right,” he added. “I’m sorry. I really am. I watch a lot of TV and I see on shows, everybody thinks everybody has the right to ask a question. I’ve always believed that, I’ve always been a fan of the media. But I gotta have my rights too. I’m just going to, when time comes, I’ll be able to speak out. It might be frustrating, but it’s just what I gotta do.”

So if he doesn’t have to follow the advice of the people Michigan State pays to help them in situations like this, what is keeping him from answering the questions he needs to answer?

Is it what he’s gotta do because he doesn’t want to talk, because the last time he tried to broach a subject similar to this — when he misspoke in regards to Larry Nassar by saying he “hoped the right person was convicted” — he was run through the ringer for it?

Or is it what he’s gotta do because he knows the current climate is not one where it would behoove him to defend himself and his players for what he could very well believe is a witch hunt?

We cannot know.

And we will not know until he lets us know.

Until then, don’t expect these questions to die down, not when he is coaching a team that could win a national title in the one month of the year where college basketball is the single biggest story in sports.

Bubble Banter: Butler, Missouri land critical wins

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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 Tuesday night.

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

BUTLER (RPI: 31, KenPom: 30, NBC seed: 10): Butler absolutely pounded Marquette on the road on Wednesday, giving them yet another Quadrant 1 win. The Bulldogs have wins over Villanova (2) at home, Ohio State (22) on a neutral and now Marquette (46) on the road. They’ve also beaten Marquette and Utah at home and don’t have a bad loss to their name. Perhaps the most important part of this win? They now have a road win better than Georgetown (153).

VIRGINIA TECH (RPI: 71, KenPom: 41, NBC seed: First four out): Virginia Tech added another Quadrant 1 win on Wednesday night when they picked off Boston College on the road in overtime. That’s their fourth Quadrant 1 win, although three of them could drop down a level if BC, Notre Dame and Ole Miss go cold. The biggest issue for the Hokies is probably their non-conference SOS, which is 323rd. That means they’ll have some ground to make up.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (RPI: 65, KenPom: 70, NBC seed: Out): The Bulldogs added a second-straight win on Wednesday, going into South Carolina (54) and leaving with a Quadrant 1 win. It’s their second Quadrant 1 win but just the third Quadrant 1 or 2 win. MSU has no bad losses, but they do have a non-conference SOS of 279. They have a lot of work to do, and the next two home games — Georgia, Alabama — will help.

MISSOURI (RPI: 43, KenPom: 46, NBC seed: Next four out): The Tigers snapped a three-game losing streak by going into Alabama and knocking off the Crimson Tide. That’s a top 25 road win, one that will likely have some staying power. It’s also the fourth Quadrant 1 for the Tigers. Four of their six best wins are away from home.

LOSERS

SYRACUSE (RPI: 32, KenPom: 49, NBC seed: First four out): The best thing you can say about Syracuse at this point in the season is that they still have chances left. They are going to need to capitalize on those chances, however, as the Orange don’t have a single Quadrant 1 win on their résumé. Their best win on the season? Buffalo, who lost to Kent State last night, at home. The Orange do have six more top 20 games left. So there’s still a chance.

MARYLAND (RPI: 57, KenPom: 42, NBC seed: Out): Maryland might have just relegated themselves to the NIT. They went into Purdue on Wednesday night and lost to Purdue (8), 75-67. Their profile isn’t awful. They’ll have a Quadrant 1 win once Butler’s win over Marquette works through the formula, but that’s their Quadrant 1 or 2 win. The killer? They only play one Quadrant 1 game the rest of the way. It’s auto-bid or bust.

MARQUETTE (RPI: 46, KenPom: 40, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Golden Eagles are in the midst of their most important stretch of the season, and thus far, it’s not going well. They’ve now lost three in a row, four out of five and five out of seven as they got worked over at home by Butler. They get Providence at home on Saturday then play five of their next six games on the road. The details of what is on Marquette’s profile right now are irrelevant if they don’t find a way to fix this slump and fast.

HOUSTON (RPI: 50, KenPom: , NBC seed: 11): Houston has some good wins — Arkansas, Wichita State, Temple, Providence on a neutral — but their biggest issue right now is that they did not play a good non-conference schedule and that they lost to Drexel on a neutral. They need some big wins to make up for it, and blew a GREAT chance at one on Wednesday, wasting an 18-point lead at Cincinnati. If they miss the tournament, that one will sting.

PROVIDENCE (RPI: 34, KenPom: 63, NBC seed: 9): The best thing about Providence getting their tails kicked at Seton Hall on Tuesday is that the RPI doesn’t factor in score. All it looks like is a road loss to a top 20 team. Forget it happened and get one back at Marquette on Saturday.

SOUTH CAROLINA (RPI: 54, KenPom: 68, NBC seed: Play-in game): Losing at home to Mississippi State did not help things for the Gamecocks, who are one of the teams right there on the cut-line. The rest of their schedule is brutal. All but two opponents are in the top 55, none are outside the top 80 and six of the nine are Quadrant 1 games.

ALABAMA (RPI: 24, KenPom: 56, NBC seed: 9): Alabama dropped a home game on Wednesday, falling to a Missouri team that had just lost three in a row. The Tigers are good enough this year that it is hardly a bad loss, and a loaded non-conference SOS plus four Quadrant 1 wins has Alabama in a good spot.

 

Report: At least four women filed complaints against Missouri’s Phillips

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Missouri announced late last week that they were suspending point guard Terrence Phillips indefinitely, and now it appears that we know why.

According to a report from the Kansas City Star, Phillips has been accused by at least four women of misconduct, ranging from physical abuse to harassing text messages “of a sexual nature” to the unauthorized recording of a sexual encounter.

“There are two sides to every story,” Phillips was quoted as saying in the story. “Some people really want to say ‘Me too’ because apparently it’s the cool thing to do. I have a side.”

Phillips was suspended indefinitely from the team on Friday for a violation of team policy.

Colorado St examines climate of hoops program under Eustachy

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — Colorado State athletic director Joe Parker says the school is performing a “climate assessment” on the basketball program under coach Larry Eustachy.

In a statement released Wednesday, Parker says the school is having conversations with students and staff members associated with men’s basketball. He offered no further information.

The statement came in the wake of a report published online by former Rocky Mountain Collegian sports editor Justin Michael who said Parker was interviewing players about Eustachy’s conduct.

The university looked into Eustachy in 2013-14 for creating an atmosphere of “fear and intimidation” among his players. In documents obtained by the Coloradoan nearly a year ago, Eustachy acknowledged he “crossed the line” when asked about the atmosphere within the program by former athletic director Jack Graham.

Eustachy is in his sixth year with Colorado State. The Rams were 10-13 heading into a home game Wednesday against Wyoming.