The Tip-Off Marathon Awards

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So ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon happened yesterday, and like I’m sure many of you did, I stayed up for over 40 hours straight to watch the entire thing.

Yes, I’m tired today.

And yes, it was totally worth it.

Basketball at 4 am is, generally speaking, completely unnecessary. But the event is worth it for two reasons. For starters, ESPN completely dedicates their programming to college hoops at a time when the sport is not in the forefront of the national consciousness. Secondly, we got a look, in one night, at many of the teams that will be at or near the top of the national rankings.

Now, before I lose your attention (we all have fantasy football waiver wires to take a look at), we at Beyond the Arc present to you the Tip-Off Marathon Awards!

The Award for Best Game goes to: San Diego State and Gonzaga

It doesn’t get much better than two good teams going back and forth. Billy White (30 points, 9 boards) and Kawhi Leonard (18 points, 12 boards) led the Aztecs to a 79-76 win over the Zags. SDSU was in control for much of the first half, but Gonzaga used a 7-0 spurt to start the second half to take a 44-42 lead on an Elias Harris three-point play. SDSU threw a counter punch, however, as they took control of the offensive back boards. If the Aztecs missed, White and Leonard where there to clean up the mess as they built up a 66-59 lead. Steven Gray, who had 35 points, did his best to keep Gonzaga’s hopes alive, twice scoring to cut the Aztec lead to one point. The latter instance came with 23 seconds left, and after Leonard hit two free throws to make the lead 79-76, Gray lost the ball out of bounds with four seconds left. Chase Tapley missed the front end, but Gray’s half court heave was off the mark.

This was a huge win for San Diego State. The Aztecs have been a trendy pick by many to win the MWC, but picking up a win at The Kennel has thrust them into the conversation as the best team on the west coast.

The Award for Most Important Win goes to: Louisville

The Cardinals welcomed the reigning runners-up to the unveiling of their new arena, the KFC Yum! Center. They weren’t all that gracious as hosts, however, as they spent 40 minutes wiping the floor with the Bulldogs. Butler was simply not ready for the press that Louisville threw at them, turning the ball over 17 times and shooting a dismal 35% from the floor. The final score — 88-73 — doesn’t do justice to the whipping Butler took, as they were down by as much as 24 in the second and were able to maintain a level of respectability by fouling for the last 2:13.

Louisville looks like a team that was underrated coming into the season. They have a lineup that is deep and full of athletes and a back court that is chock full of lengthy defenders and knock-down shooters. Making the win all the more impressive is that Jared Swopshire missed the game as he is still recovering from a sports hernia and Peyton Siva played jut 15 minutes due to foul trouble. Raheem Buckles (17 points 11 boards) looks like a star waiting in the wings.

The Award for the Biggest Statement goes to: Ohio State

Florida was considered a potential title contender coming into the season, and Ohio State went into the O-Dome and universally changed that opinion. Down 41-38 at the half — thanks to the tremendous interior play of Vernon Macklin and the rest of the Gator front line — the Buckeyes dissected the Florida defense for the final 20 minutes, scoring 57 points and shooting 71% from the floor. Jared Sullinger had a coming out party, going for 26 points and 10 boards, while the combination of David Lighty, Jon Deibler, and William Buford completely outclassed Florida’s talented perimeter players. Perhaps the most important performance came from freshman point guard Aaron Craft, who had 7 points, 5 assists, and 3 turnovers in 29 minutes off the bench, proving capable of breaking a press and handling a raucous road arena.

The Award for the Biggest Loss goes to: Elias Harris

Losing to San Diego State is a loss Gonzaga can overcome. The Aztecs are criminally underrated (well, maybe not anymore) and got a career game out of one of their best players. The Zags still have plenty of opportunities to pick up enough quality wins to earn an at-large big. A loss they cannot overcome would be Elias Harris. Harris injured his shoulder a few weeks ago, so when he wasn’t on the floor at the end of the game, that was the reason that some suspected. It turns out that he suffered a potentially serious foot injury: “I think it’s my Achilles’ (tendon),” said Harris told The Spokesman Review. “I heard something pop. I couldn’t get up in the air and I couldn’t run any more.”

If that’s the case, then Harris will miss the rest of the season. He’s getting an MRI today. It would be a huge blow to the Zags, as he was the favorite to win the WCC Player of the Year award in the preseason. You can’t replace a talent like Harris — he’s going to be a lottery pick whenever he turns pro — but Gonzaga does have some pieces to make up for the loss. Kelly Olynyk and Sam Dower have been good early in the season, and Steven Gray is playing the best basketball of his career right now. This team is still good enough to win the WCC. But with the injury to Harris, their Final Four aspirations may be headed out the window.

UPDATE: Good thing we just did a post on this…

According the Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com, Elias Harris did NOT tear his achilles. He’ll miss about a week. Now, the question is whether or not he will be available for the CBE Classic. Gonzaga gets Kansas State on Monday, and could face Duke or Marquette on Tuesday depending Monday’s results.

The Award for the Biggest Disappointment goes to: Virginia Tech

Kansas State played essentially played the first half without Jacob Pullen due to foul trouble and played the entire game without Curtis Kelly, who was suspended by Frank Martin. The Hokies still trailed at the break, 30-29. In the second half, K-State’s supporting cast woke up, as the Wildcats slowly built their lead. Malcolm Delaney, Tech’s star guard, tried over and over again to answer, but with every ill-advised shot and turnover (he had 22 points on 6-18 shooting with 9 turnovers) he dug his team into a bigger hole.

Delaney seemed to lose confidence in his teammates, and he wasn’t necessarily wrong to do so. They weren’t finishing the sots he created for them, and second leading scorer Dorenzo Hudson was off throughout the game. This was a game called extremely tight by the referees, and it looked like the Hokies got frustrated. I’ll chalk the loss up to that, because there is no way this team is as bad as they played yesterday.

The Coming Out Party Award goes to: Quincy Acy

The Baylor forward has always been known as a dunker. Acy is just 6’6″, but his awesome athleticism and his wingspan that rivals taller teammates Perry and Anthony Jones has made him reknowned for his ability to rebound the ball and finish above the rim. But against La Salle, Acy had 25 points. He got those 25 points not on dunks and free throws, but with a variety of mid-range jumpers and even a post move or two. As Draft Express says:

Real story here is Quincy Acy. What a game for him. Seems to have improved significantly. Quincy Acy’s energy, toughness, athleticism is all where you want it to be, but now he’s scoring, making mid-range jumpers. Very interesting.

The Chris Webber Award for Boneheadedness goes to: Southern Illinois

Apparently they are too young to have learned a lesson from C-Webb, as they lost on a free throw from a technical foul that was assessed for using too many timeouts. Actually, I put this on head coach Chris Lowery. Its a a coach’s responsibility to make sure his players are aware of how many timeouts they have.

The Tip-Off Marathon MVP goes to: Scoop Jardine

Syracuse looked bad yesterday, like they have all season long. For a team that was predicted to be in the top ten and a potential Final Four contender, the Orange have been a conundrum thus far. They aren’t getting the perimeter shooting they need, Kris Joseph and Fab Melo have fallen well short of expectations, and they’ve come out of the gates sluggish in all three game. Last night was no exception, as they were down for the majority of the first half to Detroit, and if it wasn’t for Scoop Jardine’s performance, the Orange would have lost. Scoop had 27 points, 8 assists, and 5 steals. He was 11-18 from the floor. The rest of the team was 13-46. And he assisted on eight of those field goals.

The All-Tip-Off-Marathon Team:

* G: Steven Gray, Gonzaga: 35 points, 5 assists
* G: Clint Steindl, St. Mary’s: 22 points, 7-10 3’s
* F: Justin Greene, Kent State: 20 points, 12 boards
* F: Quincy Acy, Baylor: 25 points, 11 boards, 2 blocks
* F: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: 26 points, 10 boards
* Honorable Mention: David Lighty, Ohio State (26 points), Draymond Green, Michigan State (18 points, 12 boards, 6 steals, 4 blocks), Billy White, San Diego State (30 points, 9 boards)

South Carolina tops women’s AP Top 25; Ohio State tumbles

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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It was a rough week for Ohio State, which lost all three of its games and tumbled down the AP Top 25 as a result.

The previously unbeaten Buckeyes fell from second to 10th in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll released Monday after losing to Iowa and Indiana, two top 10 teams, as well as Purdue. Ohio State fell two games back in the Big Ten Conference standings.

South Carolina remained No. 1 for the 32nd consecutive week. The Gamecocks, who were again a unanimous choice from the 28-member national media panel, have the fourth-longest streak ever atop the poll. Only UConn (51 and 34 weeks) and Louisiana Tech (36) have had longer runs at No. 1.

Stanford moved back up to No. 2 in the poll and the Cardinal were followed by LSU, Indiana and UConn in the top five. LSU is the only other undefeated team in women’s basketball besides South Carolina, which visits UConn for a top-five showdown on Sunday.

Iowa jumped out four spots to sixth with Utah, Maryland and Notre Dame coming in ahead of Ohio State. The Hawkeyes started the season No. 4 in the poll.

The Fighting Irish split a pair of games last week against ranked opponents, routing Florida State before falling to N.C. State.

“There’s a lot of parity right now, which is great, great for the game,” Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey said. “The game is growing, which is what you want. But yeah, I mean, every night, especially the ACC, the ACC is the strongest league and, you know, we have just a tough stretch every night.”

One week after falling out of the rankings, Texas re-entered the poll at No. 24. The Longhorns routed then-No. 14 Oklahoma and Oklahoma State last week. South Florida also came in at No. 25. Colorado and Illinois fell out of the poll.

RISING BULLS

No. 25 South Florida continued its streak of being ranked for at least one week every season since the Bulls entered the poll for the first time in 2015.

“For us not being in a so-called football five conference, that’s a huge accomplishment,” South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said. His team has won 10 consecutive games and has 20 victories this season. The team’s four losses have all come against ranked opponents (Michigan, Villanova, Ohio State and N.C. State).

“This group has been fun to coach. We always play a great non(equals)conference schedule,” Fernandez said. “We won on the road at Texas, beat Alabama, beat Arkansas. We challenged ourselves in November and December.”

RECORD PERFORMANCES

Cameron Brink carried Stanford to a win over Oregon with a triple-double that included 10 blocks. It was the first triple-double in NCAA Division I women’s basketball featuring double-digit blocks since Tamari Key did it for Tennessee in an overtime win against Texas on Nov. 21, 2021.

No. 20 Oklahoma’s Taylor Robertson set the all-time NCAA women’s career record for 3-pointers when she hit her 498th in a loss to Iowa State on Saturday. Robertson has 503 entering this week. The all-time NCAA record, men or women, is held by Antoine Davis of Detroit Mercy, who has 534 and counting.

Purdue a unanimous No. 1 in AP Top 25; Vols up to No. 2

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Purdue became this season’s first unanimous No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 men’s college basketball poll Monday after wins over Michigan and Michigan State last week as chaos ensued behind the Boilermakers among other ranked teams.

More than half of Top 25 teams lost, including second-ranked Alabama, which was routed by Oklahoma in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. That allowed Purdue to grab the remaining No. 1 votes and tighten its grip atop the poll, while Tennessee jumped two spots to second and Houston held onto third in voting by 62 national media members.

The Boilermakers (21-1) have won eight straight since a one-point loss to Rutgers on Jan. 2.

“We’re the No. 1 team in the country because of how unselfish we are as a team,” Purdue guard David Jenkins Jr. said. “We had a lot of people doubting us in the beginning because, you know, we may not be the most talented team or whatever, but we’re close on the court and off the court and it’s really translating to how we’re winning.”

The Volunteers climbed to their highest perch since reaching No. 1 for four weeks during the 2018-19 season. They routed Georgia before becoming one of three SEC teams to beat Big 12 opponents on Saturday, knocking off No. 10 Texas 82-71 for their fifth consecutive win over a top-10 team.

Perhaps this is the year Rick Barnes finally gets the Vols through the Sweet 16 for the first time as their coach.

“We have a chance to be as good as we want to be,” he said. “It’s up to one thing: Are we tough enough to embrace the daily grind? And not worry about going to the Final Four or worry about going to the NCAA Tournament, but can we build a team that can be successful that time of year? It starts with truly embracing the grind.”

The Crimson Tide dropped to fourth after the blowout loss to the Sooners, when Alabama fell behind by 17 at halftime in an eventual 93-69 defeat. The Tide edged fifth-ranked Arizona by just two points in this week’s poll.

“It doesn’t have any effect on SEC standings, which is the only good thing to come out of this,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said of the lopsided loss. “Hopefully we’ll recover from a loss out of conference, but you know, it’s not good.”

Virginia was sixth and Kansas State, which rebounded from a narrow loss at No. 13 Iowa State by pummeling Florida on Saturday, fell two spots to seventh; the Wildcats face eighth-ranked Kansas in a top-10 showdown Tuesday night.

UCLA dropped to ninth after losing to Southern California and Texas rounded out the top 10.

Baylor continued its climb from unranked to No. 11 following wins over the Jayhawks and Arkansas. The Bears were followed by Gonzaga, Iowa State, Marquette and league rival TCU – the sixth Big 12 team in the top 15.

Xavier, Providence, Saint Mary’s, Florida Atlantic and Clemson completed the top 20, while poll returners Indiana and San Diego State joined Miami, UConn and Auburn in rounding out the Top 25.

RISING AND FALLING

The No. 11 Bears and No. 17 Providence made the biggest leaps, each climbing six spots from last week.

“I think our defense is better. Our turnovers are better. When you don’t give people easy transition baskets, now its five-on-five in the half court,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team had a date with the Longhorns on Monday night.

“We execute at a pretty high rate,” Drew said. “It really comes down to taking care of the ball, making sure we get shots up and when you don’t make them, you’ve got to get rebounds. And our guys are buying into that.”

Auburn took the biggest hit of those still in the poll, dropping 10 places after losses to unranked Texas A&M and West Virginia.

IN AND OUT

The Hoosiers returned to the poll at No. 21 and the Aztecs rejoined it right behind them. They took the place of Charleston, which fell out from No. 18 after losing to Hofstra, and New Mexico, which lost to Nevada in double overtime last week.

CONFERENCE CALL

The Big 12’s dominance of the SEC in the final year of their head-to-head challenge was rewarded in the poll, where the league led the way with six ranked teams and all of them in the top 15. The Big East has four teams in the poll but none higher than No. 14 Marquette, while the SEC and ACC have three teams apiece.

College basketball broadcaster Billy Packer dies at 82

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Billy Packer, an Emmy award-winning college basketball broadcaster who covered 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS, died Thursday. He was 82.

Packer’s son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.

Packer’s broadcasting career coincided with the growth of college basketball. He worked as analyst or color commentator on every Final Four from 1975 to 2008. He received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst in 1993.

“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark Packer said. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”

Packer played three seasons at Wake Forest, and helped lead the Demon Deacons to the Final Four in 1962, but it was his work as an analyst that brought him the most acclaim.

He joined NBC in 1974 and called his first Final Four in 1975. UCLA beat Kentucky in the title game that year in what was John Wooden’s final game as coach.

Packer was also part of the broadcast in 1979 with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire when Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad in the title game. That remains highest-rated game in basketball history with a 24.1 Nielsen rating, which is an estimated 35.1 million viewers.

Packer went to CBS in the fall of 1981, when the network acquired the rights to the NCAA Tournament. He remained the network’s main analyst until the 2008 Final Four.

In 1996 at CBS, Packer was involved in controversy when he used the term “tough monkey? to describe then-Georgetown star Allen Iverson during a game. Packer later said he “was not apologizing for what I said, because what I said has no implications in my mind whatsoever to do with Allen Iverson’s race.?

Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, said Packer was “synonymous with college basketball for more than three decades and set the standard of excellence as the voice of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.”

“He had a tremendous impact on the growth and popularity of the sport.” McManus said. “In true Billy fashion, he analyzed the game with his own unique style, perspective and opinions, yet always kept the focus on the game. As passionate as he was about basketball, at his heart Billy was a family man. He leaves part of his legacy at CBS Sports, across college basketball and, most importantly, as a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He will be deeply missed by all.”

Packer was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale took to Twitter as word of Packer’s death spread. “So sad to learn of the passing of Billy Packer who had such a passion for college basketball,” Vitale tweeted. “My (prayers) go out to Billy’s son Mark & the entire Packer family. Always had great RESPECT for Billy & his partners Dick Enberg & Al McGuire-they were super. May Billy RIP.”

College basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted: “We fell in love (with) college basketball because of you. Your voice will remain in my head forever.”

Packer was viewed as a controversial figure during his broadcasting days, often drawing the ire of college basketball fans, particularly on North Carolina’s “Tobacco Road.”

“As a kid, I was a big NC State fan growing up, and I would watch a game and the next day I’d be like, `Boy you sure have it out for NC State, don’t you?’ And he would just laugh,” Mark Packer said.

The younger Packer, who is the host of ACC PM on the ACC Network, said it didn’t matter what school – most fans felt the same way about his father.

“He would cover North Carolina game and Tar Heels fans would be like, `you hate North Carolina,”‘ Mark Packer said. “Wake (Forest) fans would be like, `you hate us.’ And Billy just sort of got a kick out of that.”

Mark Packer said that while most fans will remember his father as a broadcaster, he’ll remember him even more for his business acumen. He said his father was a big real estate investor, and also owned a vape company, among other ventures.

“Billy was always a bit of a hustler – he was always looking for that next business deal,” Packer said.

Clemson starter Galloway will miss time after surgery

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson starter Brevin Galloway is expected to miss games for the 24th-ranked Tigers after having surgery on his groin area Thursday.

The 6-foot-3 Galloway has started 20 of 21 games after transferring from Boston College this past offseason.

Galloway posted on social media that he’d had the surgery. Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that Galloway had the operation.

Galloway said in his post he will be in uniform soon. He is not expected to play at Florida State on Saturday.

A fifth-year player, Galloway has averaged 10.6 points a game this season. He’s second on the Tigers with 55 assists and 18 steals.

The Tigers (17-4) lead the Atlantic Coast Conference at 9-1 in league play.

Clemson is already down two experienced players due to injury.

Point guard Chase Hunter, who started the team’s first 18 games, has missed the past three with a foot injury.

Guard Alex Hemenway, in his fourth season, has missed the past nine games with a foot injury. Hemenway was the team’s leading 3-point shooter (27 of 54) before getting hurt.

Zach Edey has 19 points, No. 1 Purdue beats Michigan 75-70

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Zach Edey had 15 of his 19 points in the first half and Fletcher Loyer finished with 17 points to help No. 1 Purdue hold off Michigan 75-70 on Thursday night.

The Boilermakers (20-1, 9-1 Big Ten) had a 15-0 run to go ahead 41-28 lead in the first half after there were 10 lead changes and four ties, but they couldn’t pull away.

The Wolverines (11-9, 5-4) were without standout freshman Jett Howard, who missed the game with an ankle injury, and still hung around until the final seconds.

Joey Baker made a 3-pointer – off the glass – with 5.9 seconds left to pull Michigan within three points, but Purdue’s Brandon Newman sealed the victory with two free throws.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said Michigan slowed down Edey in the second half by pushing him away from the basket.

“They got him out a little more, and got him bottled up,” Painter said.

The 7-foot-4 Edey, though, was too tough to stop early in the game.

“He’s one of the best in the country for a reason,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “He’s very effective, especially if he’s 8 feet and in.”

With size and skills such as a hook shot, the junior center from Toronto scored Purdue’s first seven points and finished the first half 7 of 12 from the field and 1 of 2 at the line.

“He did a great job in the first half, going to his right shoulder and using his left hand,” Painter said. “He made four baskets with his left hand which is huge.”

Freshman Braden Smith had 10 points for the Boilermakers.

Purdue’s defense ultimately denied Michigan’s comeback hopes, holding a 22nd straight opponent to 70 or fewer points.

Hunter Dickinson scored 21, Kobe Bufkin had 16 points and Baker added 11 points for the Wolverines, who have lost four of their last six games.

Dickinson, a 7-1 center, matched up with Edey defensively and pulled him out of the lane offensively by making 3 of 7 3-pointers.

“Half his shots were from the 3, and that’s a little different,” Painter said. “His meat and potatoes are on that block. He’s the real deal.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Boilermakers got the top spot in the AP Top 25 this week after winning six games, a stretch that followed a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3 that dropped them from No. 1 in the poll. Purdue improved to 7-2 as the top-ranked team.

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: Edey can’t beat teams by himself and he’s surrounded by a lot of role players and a potential standout in Loyer. The 6-4 guard was the Big Ten player of the week earlier this month, become the first Boilermaker freshman to win the award since Robbie Hummel in 2008.

“Fletcher is somebody who has played better in the second half, and on the road,” Painter said.

Michigan: Jett Howard’s health is a critical factor for the Wolverines, who will have some work to do over the second half of the Big Ten season to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. Howard averages 14.6 points and is the most dynamic player on his father’s team.

ROAD WARRIORS

The Boilermakers were away from home for 12 of 23 days, winning all five of their road games. They won at Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan for the first time since the 1997-98 season and beat the Spartans and Wolverines on their home court in the same season for the first time in 12 years.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Hosts Michigan State on Sunday, nearly two weeks after the Boilermakers beat the Spartans by a point on Edey’s shot with 2.2 seconds left.

Michigan: Plays at Penn State on Sunday.