Rob Dauster

Buddy Hield (AP Photo)
Buddy Hield (AP Photo)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POWER RANKINGS: Buddy Hield headlines Iowa-centric list

1 Comment

As we do on every Tuesday, we’ll spend the afternoon counting down the NBC Sports Player of the Year Power Rankings.

If you’d like to be updated more quickly, be sure to go follow the CBT Facebook page, where the countdown will actually be happening.

There haven’t been too many changes, but there are a few names that you should start keeping more of an eye on.

Here’s the list:

VIDEO: Georgia Southern wins on four-point play with 0.8 seconds left

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 12.30.48 AM
Leave a comment

This may go down as the wildest ending in college basketball this season that doesn’t involve a blown call by two-thirds of the officials.

Georgia Southern is down 100-97 with 5.5 seconds left on the clock and the length of the court to go, but sophomore Mike Hughes is fouled by Appalachian State’s Chris Burgess on a 35-foot prayer that goes in.

The buzzer sounds, but the 0.8 seconds are put back on the block. Hughes would knock down the free throw to put GSU ahead and after ASU’s inbounds attempt went out of bounds, the Eagles escaped with the win.

Here’s another angle of the shot:

(h/t @GSAthletics_MBB)

No. 14 Iowa State knocks off No. 4 Kansas in Ames

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, right, drives past Kansas guard Devonte' Graham during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Leave a comment

Monté Morris finished with 21 points, nine assists and no turnovers and Georges Niang had 21 points of his own as No. 14 Iowa State picked up their third straight win on Monday night, knocking off No. 4 Kansas, 85-72.

It’s the fourth time in the last five games that Iowa State has picked off the Jayhawks.

Based on the box score, it may look like the Cyclones won this thing easily, but that certainly wasn’t the case. Kansas jumped out to a 24-14 lead in the first 10 minutes and more or less kept that margin intact through the first TV timeout of the second half. The Jayhawks were up 50-42 with 15 minutes left in the game before back-to-back threes from Matt Thomas and Morris sparked a 24-7 run that led to a game-winning 43-22 surge down the stretch.

And while Iowa State’s offense will likely get the credit, the turning point game on the defensive end of the floor.

Through the first 25 minutes on Monday, Kansas ran their offense to perfection. The ball was switching sides of the floor, the passing was crisp, the Jayhawks got the Iowa State defense moving and, as a result, they were able to attack close-outs and get open looks from the perimeter. It’s how basketball is supposed to be played.

In the second half, however, the Cyclones made the adjustment to try and keep the ball on one side of the floor. They played in passing lanes to deny ball reversals and they made an adjustment to their ball-screens coverages, and the end result was that Kansas’ offense became stagnant. The ball stuck in the hands of the point guards, the Jayhawks tried to go one-on-one on far too many possessions and hero-ball kicked in. A couple of turnovers turned into layups, the crowd got into the game and before Kansas could react, it was out of reach.

Iowa State had been lambasted for their defensive effort when they were 1-3 in Big 12 play, but they’ve really taken a step forward in the last week.

So credit Steve Prohm and Iowa State. They picked up another huge home win just a week after beating No. 1 Oklahoma in this same building, a winning streak that no only relieves the pressure that was mounting on Fred Hoiberg’s replacement but also keeps them just one game out of first place in what is bound to be a wild conference title race.

Speaking of which, I think it’s safe to say that Oklahoma is now the favorite to win the league, even if it’s not by much. The Sooners, the No. 1 team in the country, have played at Kansas, at Baylor and both games against Iowa State. They hold a one-game lead over the Jayhawks with a game left against Kansas in Norman.

Maybe I’m reading into it too much, maybe it’s just a hunch, but I have a feeling that when Oklahoma hosts Kansas on Feb. 13th, it will determine whether or not Bill Self’s streak of 11 straight regular season titles remains intact.

Duke’s skid continues in 80-69 loss at No. 15 Miami

FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2016, file photo, Duke head men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, second from right,  reacts to a play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils have lost three straight games entering Saturday’s game at North Carolina State followed by Monday’s game at No. 15 Miami. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown, File)
(AP Photo/Ben McKeown, File)

Shelden McClellan went for 21 points and ‘Good Angel’ Rodriguez showed up, finishing with 13 points, ten assists and five boards, as No. 15 Miami knocked off No. 24 Duke, 80-69, in Coral Gables on Monday night.

The Canes have now won three straight after losing those back-to-back roadies to Clemson and Virginia and remain just two games behind No. 2 North Carolina in the ACC standings.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When Rodriguez plays the way that he did tonight, he makes Miami a very, very dangerous team. They have a myriad of players that can create off the bounce — I haven’t even mentioned Davon Reed or Ja’Quan Newton yet — and they have enough size and athleticism in the paint to matchup with just about anyone they’ll run into.

So this win really shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Because once you get past the name on the jersey, you’ll realize that this Duke team is simply not all that good right now.

This loss drops Duke to 4-4 in the ACC, their worst start in league play since the 1995-96 season. The Blue Devils finished 18-13 overall that year and just 8-8 in the ACC. It was the year after Mike Krzyzewski took a leave of absence with a back injury and Duke finished 13-18 and just 2-14 in the conference. That’s where we are with this group right now (although that stat should also shine a line on just how good Coach K has been in the last 30 years at Duke).

I’m not ready to jump off the Duke bandwagon just yet, not until we see what this group looks like with Amile Jefferson back on the floor.

But as of this very moment, I’m not convinced that Duke is a tournament team. Their best wins are over Indiana, VCU and Georgetown, none of which are great but all of which look much better now than they did a month ago. That would be enough to get them into the at-large field as of today — our latest bracketology had Duke slotted as a No. 7 seed — but what if Amile Jefferson doesn’t return as the player that he was when he got hurt?

Where is Duke going to get good wins from?

They’ll have the chances, as they get Louisville twice, North Carolina twice, Virginia at home and the ACC tournament to stock up on good wins. But this team is a total and complete trainwreck on the defensive side of the ball. We saw against Syracuse the issues they have on the defensive glass, when they gave up 26 offensive rebounds. Miami “only” grabbed 34.5 percent of the available offensive boards, a number that is simultaneously mediocre at best and very good for this iteration of the Blue Devils.

But that’s not their only problem. Duke played zone on just about every possession for the first 30 minutes of this game, and the result was a 55-41 deficit (it would have been at least 20 points if Miami didn’t mess up four alley-oops) before they finally switched back to man. That zone, particularly in the second half, was terrible, just like it was in the final minutes against Clemson.

The issue is that it’s a defense that Duke has to play.

It conserves energy and fouls for a team with one usable perimeter sub and, with all due respect to Chase Jeter, no one in the front court capable of providing minutes off the bench. It’s also necessary against a team like Miami, who has a myriad of penetrating guards that love to operate in high ball-screens. If you remember, it was Miami’s evisceration of Duke’s man-to-man defense in their win at Cameron last season that forced the Blue Devils into using a zone in the first place.

Prior to Monday, the Blue Devils were ranked 133rd in defensive efficiency on KenPom. Just just gave up 80 points on roughly 63 possessions to Miami.

We’re getting to a point where Jefferson alone may not actually be an answer.

AP POLL: Oklahoma remains in the top spot

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Leave a comment

Oklahoma remained No. 1 in the newly-released AP Poll on Monday morning, with the North Carolina Tar Heels slotting in at No. 2 behind them.

I wrote about why there’s a choice to be made as the lead to the NBC Sports Top 25 earlier this morning, and we also discussed it on today’s podcast. No need to rehash all that here.

[RELATED: New Bracketology | Team of the Week | Player of the Week]

Anyway, here is the rest of the AP Poll:

1. Oklahoma (16-2, 36 first-place votes)
2. North Carolina (18-2, 29)
3. Iowa (17-3)
4. Kansas (16-3)
5. Texas A&M (17-2)
6. Villanova (17-3)
7. Xavier (17-2)
8. Maryland (17-3)
9. West Virginia (16-3)
10. Providence (17-3)
11. Virginia (15-4)
12. Michigan State (17-4)
13. SMU (18-1)
14. Iowa State (15-4)
15. Miami (15-3)
16. Louisville (16-3)
17. Baylor (15-4
18. Arizona (16-4)
19. Indiana (17-3)
20. Kentucky (15-4)
21. Purdue (17-4)
22. Wichita State (14-5)
23. Oregon (16-4)
24. Duke (15-5)
25. Notre Dame (14-5)

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Kansas-Iowa State and Duke-Miami

Frank Mason III
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Leave a comment

GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 3 Kansas at No. 19 Iowa State, 9:00 p.m.

Let’s put aside Hilton Magic and this budding rivalry and the pressure that’s on Steve Prohm to win with a team that was expected to be a title contender in the preseason: This is a massive game for the Big 12 title race, the race that Kansas has won at least a share of each of the last 11 years. Oklahoma has already played five games against the other top five teams in the conference, including on the road against Kansas, Iowa State and Baylor. They have the most favorable schedule down the stretch. Kansas, if they lose this game, will already be a game behind the Sooners in the standing with a trip to Norman still left on their schedule. And that ignores the fact that Oklahoma might actually be the better team. So while this is a huge game for Iowa State, it’s also a critical game for a Jayhawk team that is still trying to sort themselves out right now.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 20 Duke at No. 15 Miami, 7:00 p.m.

The early game tonight will feature the Blue Devils, fresh off of snapping their three-game losing streak, heading down to Miami to take on Jim Larrañaga’s good Miami team. The Hurricanes have the pieces to be a real contender in the ACC this season, but they’ve yet to put together the kind of consistency we want to see out of them. Last year, they went into Cameron Indoor Stadium and knocked off Duke on the strength of their ability in ball-screen actions. Duke isn’t great defending ball-screens again this season, but the area where they can really be beaten is on the offensive glass and with dribble penetration. Miami is not a great offensive rebounding team, but they can certainly make plays off the bounce with their back court. It certainly should be an entertaining game.