Previewing your college hoops weekend

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UPSET SPECIAL

Fri. 2:00 pm: Charleston @ Tennessee: To be honest, I’m not sure if this can even qualify as an Upset Special with the way that Tennessee has been playing of late. After knocking off then-No. 3 Pitt in Pittsburgh in early December, the Vols lost three straight games — to Oakland, Charlotte, and USC — before barely hanging on against Belmont and UT-Martin.

Believe it or not, Charleston may actually be the best team Tennessee has played since Pitt. Andrew Goudelock is a mid-major superstar, a scorer that is capable of going for 30 on any given night against any opponent. Jeremy Simmons is solid in the post. Antwaine Wiggins and Donavan Monroe are capable perimeter players. This is a group that has nearly knocked off Maryland, UNC, Clemson, and URI this season (all of those losses are by seven points or less) and also beat UNC last season. Outside of those four games, the Cougars are undefeated, with impressive wins over Coastal Carolina, East Tennessee State, and Davidson.

There are a number of issues plaguing the Vols right now, but one of the problems they have had of late is that they have been allowing perimeter players to get into a rhythm. That wasn’t true against Pitt or Villanova, when Melvin Goins and Scotty Hopson were terrific defensively. If Goudelock gets into a rhythm, anything can happen.

UPSET ALERT

Fri. 12:00 pm: Northwestern @ No. 11 Purdue: First things first — this is all contingent on John Shurna being in the lineup for Northwestern. The Big Ten’s leading scorer had to leave their last game against Mt. St. Mary’s with an ankle injury, and he only made it back to practice on Wednesday. That said, with Shurna in the lineup, I think this is a pretty good matchup. JaJuan Johnson is an all-american, but he’s not a bruiser like a Jared Sullinger is. That’s good for a Northwestern frontline that is far from overpowering. Offensively, they move the ball really well, which is what you need to do against a team that plays the kind of man-to-man defense Purdue does. We finally get a chance to get a sense just how good Northwestern is. If their threes are falling, they have a shot at getting this win.

Sat. 3:30 pm: No. 15 Notre Dame @ No. 5 Syracuse: Is Notre Dame for real? It sure looked that way when they manhandled Georgetown on Wednesday night. I like the way the Irish matchup against the Syracuse zone. They have shooters, especially up front, and they have a lineup that is versatile enough to play really big or really small. They have two legitimate playmakers in the back court and some excellent shooters on the perimeter. They will have trouble with Rick Jackson inside, but who won’t this season? A road game against a very good Syracuse team this early in Big East play will be a good guage for the Irish.

Sun. 3:00 pm: Tennessee State @ No. 22 Memphis: Tennessee State is pretty good this season. They are currently sitting in second in the OVC with a win over Morehead State. The team ahead of them, Austin Peay, took the Tigers to overtime. The win over Lipscomb aside, I’m not in a place where Ican trust this young Memphis team to come out ready to play on a nightly basis.

BEST MATCHUPS

12:00 pm: No. 12 Kentucky @ No. 20 Louisville: Its hard for me to discern the difference between a game that is a must-watch for college hoops die-hards and a game that is a must-watch for the casual fan. That said, I’m certain of the fact that when these two teams that the court, your eyes need to be on the TV screen. I could delve into the reasons why, but its much easier to point you in the direction of Matt Jones who does a great job dissecting this rivalry.As far as this particular game is concerned, Louisville might be in some trouble. Raheem Buckles needed surgery on his finger and will be out, Jared Swopshire looks to be done for the season, and Mike Marra and Elisha Justice are both out as well. What was once a deep, versatile Louisville team is now one that will be playing their run and gun style with a seven man rotation. If the Kentucky freshmen can handle the Cardinal press, they should be fine. One thing to keep an eye on — neither team is deep. With all the shenanigans of last season’s matchup, a tight whistle and foul trouble could end up playing a major role.

Fri. 4:00 pm: No. 13 Minnesota @ No. 19 Michigan State: Watching the Golden Gophers play this season, I’ve been struck by how much they resemble a typical Michigan State team. They have a number of big, strong front court players that can attack the back boards, they have a couple of talented playmakers in their back court, and their wings are either insanely athletic or dead-eye shooters. The Gophers may be a touch overrated at No. 13 in the country, but this is a very good basketball team, especially with Al Nolen back in the fold. Michigan State has been disappointing this season, but they always seem to turn things around in the new year. Can it start a day early this season?

Fri. 4:00 pm: Washington @ UCLA: This game will be very important when it comes to the Pac-10 race. The way the UCLA played in the second half against a better-than-expected Washington State team only reaffirmed my belief that the Bruins have a shot at making a run through the Pac-10 this season. If they are going to win the conference, however, protecting their home court is vital. You would be remiss to say anyone other than the Huskies are the favorite in the league, and they also happen to be very tough to beat at home. UCLA needs to win this game if they are going to win the league.

Fri. 4:00 pm: Florida @ Xavier: Three months from now when we are all holding our mock brackets with outlandish predictions of who made and who missed the cut for the NCAA Tournament, this is going to be a game we all talk about. Xavier’s has had some serious issues with injuries this season, as they are down to just three back court players. Florida, on the other hand, has had issues with their back court play. Maybe Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton really aren’t all that good as a back court tandem.

Sun. 6:00 pm: No. 24 Wisconsin @ No. 25 Illinois: There are a lot of really good early season matchups in the Big Ten this season. This is one of them. Its hard to imagine two teams with such similar roster makeups — excellent point guard and quality, finesse big men — playing such differing styles. Illinois is the more talented team, but Bo Ryan has seemingly gotten his players to buy into his system more than Bruce Weber has. You may not love Big Ten hoops, but this game will be a dandy.

BEST STORYLINES

Friday

  • 6:00 pm: No. 2 Ohio State @ Indiana: Tom Crean has been so disappointed with his front court that he’s threatened to start five guards. That could be a problem with Jared Sullinger coming to town.
  • 6:00 pm: South Florida @ No. 4 UConn: UConn will have a chance to get their first Big East win and rebound from a shellacking at the hands of the Pitt Panthers.
  • 6:00 pm: Washington State @ USC: You don’t want to start conference play 0-2. It will be interesting to see which of these two teams is the real deal.
  • 8:00 pm: Seton Hall @ Cincinnati: Believe it or not, but this is probably undefeated Cincinnati’s toughest test of the season.
  • 10:00 pm: Oklahoma State @ Gonzaga: The game itself is mediocre, but any reason I have to link this is a good one.

Saturday

  • 11:00 am: West Virginia @ Marquette: Marquette always seems to be involved in a dogfight, while West Virginia is a team that is currently reeling without the leadership of Da’Sean Butler.
  • 12:00 pm: San Diego @ NC State: One of these days, Tracy Smith has to return to the Wolfpack lineup, right?
  • 2:00 pm: Valpo @ Butler; UIC @ Cleveland State: Butler looks like they are back on track this season with a win in the Diamond Head Classic, but Norris Cole and Cleveland State appear to be legit this season. Can CSU unseat Butler atop the Horizon?
  • 2:00 pm: New Mexico @ Dayton: Both teams really, really need this win.
  • 5:30 pm: Boston College @ South Carolina: Bruce Ellington vs. Reggie Jackson is worth two hours of your New Year’s Da recovery.
  • 7:00 pm: St. John’s @ Providence: A couple of Big East sleepers square off.
  • 10:00 pm: Arizona State @ Oregon: If ASU gets swept by the Oregon schools (they just lost by 22 to Oregon State) we might as well write them off.

Sunday

  • 1:00 pm: Gonzaga @ Wake Forest: I bet the Zags didn’t expect Wake Forest to be so bad when they signed on for this game.
  • 3:00 pm: High Point @ Coastal Carolina: For Big South fans, this game could have a lot of meaning later in the season.
  • 4:00 pm: Penn State @ Michigan: The teams may not be all that good, but Talor Battle and Darius Morris are fantasy studs this season.
  • 4:30 pm: Charleston @ Morehead State: Andrew Goudelock and Kenny Faried. Yes, please.
  • 5:00 pm: Davidson @ Vanderbilt: I wanted to call this game an Upset Alert. Couldn’t bring myself to do it.
  • 5:30 pm: LSU @ Virginia: Yuck.
  • 6:00 pm: Charlotte @ Georgia Tech: Ditto.
  • 7:45 pm: Miami FL @ No. 1 Duke: Hangover from Coach K’s 880th win? Hangover from New Year’s Eve? Nah…
  • 10:00 pm: Arizona @ Oregon State: Most believe Arizona is the second best team in the Pac-10. Hopefully, they won’t pull an Arizona State.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Three Things To Know: Memphis embarrassed; Luka Garza shows out again

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The story of the night in hoops was Zion Williamson’s return to the basketball court.

But there was plenty of action in the college ranks that is worthy of talking about.

Here are the three things that you need to know:

1. No. 20 MEMPHIS LOST BY 40 TO TULSA

That is not a typo.

The 20th-ranked team in the country went into Tulsa, Okla., and lost to the Golden Hurricane, 80-40. Tulsa was up 40-17 at halftime. This was a butt-whooping that was so bad that all Tulsa needed to do was score a single point in the second half and they would have been able to get the win.

Memphis shot 28 percent from the floor. They were 2-for-21 from three. They finished the night with more turnovers (20) and fouls (22) than field goals (16). This was the worst loss that a top 25 team has suffered against a ranked team in 27 years, since UConn beat then-No. 12 Virginia by 41 points.

For Tulsa, this is a massive, massive win. They are currently sitting all alone in first place in the American standings, a half-game up on Houston.

So good for Frank Haith.

But the story here is Memphis, because the Tigers, considered title contenders before the season began, look anything-but right now.

“We let our defense dictate our offense,” head coach Penny Hardaway told reporters after the game. “We didn’t play any defense today. I think today was the first day we’ve done that ll year. I don’t know if guys overlooked Tulsa because of the name. We did our due diligence as a coaching staff to let them know what was going to happen with the matchup zone and how hard they play.

“It’s pretty embarrassing.”

2. LUKA GARZA WENT NUTS AGAIN

If it seems like Garza is putting up monster numbers every games, it’s because he is.

On Wednesday night, the Hawkeyes welcomed newly-ranked Rutgers to campus and sent them home with an entertaining, hard-fought, 85-80 win. And Garza was the star of the show. He finished with 28 points, 13 boards, four blocks and two steals in the win, anchoring the paint as Iowa out-scored Rutgers 47-37 in the second half.

The big fella is now averaging 23 points and 10.5 boards.

Iowa has now won four straight games to move into a tie for third in the Big Ten standings — with Rutgers, among others — and they have won eight straight games in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. They are a third of the way through a three-game homestand as well.

3. VIRGINIA TECH TAKES DOWN NORTH CAROLINA

Virginia Tech kept up their push to finish as the fourth-best team in the ACC with a 79-77 double-overtime win over North Carolina.

The Hokies are now 14-5 overall and 5-3 in the ACC, but the more interesting story might actually be the Tar Heels.

They are 8-10 on the season and 1-6 in the ACC. They have been a disaster for the last month, but there may be some reinforcements on the way in the shape of Cole Anthony. If he returns and the Tar Heels, who are 2-7 in his absence but have wins over Alabama and Oregon with him, get things back on the right track, they are likely going to find themselves in an incredibly awkward situation on Selection Sunday.

Big 12 hands down Kansas-Kansas State fight suspensions

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The Big 12 handed down suspensions to four Kansas and Kansas State players for their role in the fight that occurred in Phog Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.

Silvio De Sousa, who tried to fight three different Kansas State players and picked up a stool during the melee, received a 12 game suspension from the conference. David McCormack, who went into the stands to confront James Love III, received a two game suspension. Love was given eight games for part in the fight, while Antonio Gordon, the freshman that turned a messy situation into a fight, was hit with a three game suspension.

“This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated and these suspensions reflect the severity of last evening’s events,” said Commissioner Bob Bowlsby.  “I am appreciative of the cooperation of both institutions in resolving this matter.”

In the final seconds on Tuesday night, after DaJuan Gordon stole the ball from him at halfcourt, De Sousa blocked Gordon’s shot and towered over him. That sparked an incident that turned into a full-fledged brawl, as De Sousa threw punches at three different players on Kansas State before picking up a stool as the fight spilled into the handicapped section of Kansas seating.

Self called the fight “an embarrassment” after the game, adding on Wednesday that “we are disappointed in [De Sousa’s] actions and there is no place in the game for that behavior.”

McCormack will be eligible to return for Kansas on Feb. 1st when they play Texas Tech at home. De Sousa will be available to play in the final game of the regular season at Texas Tech. Gordon can return on Feb. 3rd, when the Wildcats host Baylor, while Love will be out until late February. But he has played just one game and two minutes on the season, so there is no clear indication of when he will actually put on a Kansas State jersey again.

The four most important questions after Kansas-Kansas State fight

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Very other sport can treat brawls like comedy, and I think it’s about time that we did the same for basketball.

So let’s take a look at the four funniest moments from last night’s Kansas-Kansas State fight. Shouts to Jomboy:

1. IS THE KANSAS MASCOT OK?

Throughout the entire fight, the mascot is just in utter disbelief. He cannot believe what he just saw, and he certainly cannot be consoled:

2. CAN JEREMY CASE START AT LINEBACKER FOR KU’S FOOTBALL TEAM?

Case is the video coordinator for Kansas. He’s also a former Kansas point guard. He knows what this rivalry is all about, and he also is not going to be afraid to get in the middle of it.

Case starts out on the wrong side of the melee:

But when he sees De Sousa and Love squaring up and throwing punches, he intervenes by throwing himself into a player six inches taller than him:

3. WHAT HAPPENED TO JAMES LOVE III’S SHOE?

James Love the third has played in exactly one game this season. He has spent more time on the court fighting that he has actually playing, but he still found a way to get into the middle of this fight and, in the process, lost his shoe:

He’s not dressed for the game.

Did he bring an extra pair of shoes? Did he have to head back onto the bus without a shoe on this right foot? So many questions, so few answers.

4. WHO IS THE MAN IN THE ORANGE HAT?

He’s some kind of photographer.

He got his shot, that’s for sure:

Kansas-Kansas State fight: Nuance, context the key in Silvio De Sousa discussion

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So I wanted to elaborate on a point that I made on twitter this morning because 280 characters just is not enough to be able to parse through the nuance of this situation.

If you missed it, the thread is here.

First and foremost, everyone involved in this needs to be punished. Silvio De Sousa needs to be suspended. Antonio Gordon needs to be suspended. James Love III needs to be suspended. David McCormack, and potentially Marcus Garrett, probably need to be suspended, although I’m not sure either of them actually through a punch. Point being, anyone else that threw a punch needs to be suspended.

Full stop.

I am not saying otherwise.

But I think that it is important to add some context to the conversation, and I also think that it is important to say this: This doesn’t make any of the young men involved in this fight bad people. Silvio De Sousa is not inherently a bad person because he picked up a stool, and the faux-trage of people calling for him to get booted out of school, arrested or even deported are, at best, completely over-reacting and, at worst, showing off a bit of their racial bias.

Before I get into this, one more thing: I am not condoning any of it. Fights like this should not happen.

But the reality of hyper-competitive athletics is that in emotionally charged situations, fights are going to happen. And if you’ve ever been in a fight like this, you know that things happen incredibly quickly. You’re not thinking, you’re reacting. You can’t call a 20 second time out to come up with a way to defend yourself when someone is throwing haymakers, you just do what you can in the moment.

So let’s talk about the moment, shall we?

De Sousa is the guy that set this entire thing in motion with the way that he reacted to DaJuan Gordon’s steal and layup attempt. The reason the Kansas State bench rushes over to the scene is because De Sousa is towering over one of their freshman teammates, and the reason the Kansas sideline runs over is because the Kansas State sideline does. What turned this incident into a full-fledged brawl was Antonio Gordon flying in and shoving De Sousa over the back of the basket stanchion. De Sousa reacts by throwing punches at two different Kansas State players when a third player — James Love III, in the black polo — comes flying in and squares up with him. They both throw a few punches at each other, knocking De Sousa back over the stanchion again as Kansas staffer Jeremy Case comes flying in to break them up.

Put yourself in De Sousa’s shoes here. In the span of 10 seconds, he’s fought three different Kansas State players, sees nothing but purple in front of him and just got knocked to the ground. Is he getting jumped? Does he have to fight them 1-on-3? That’s when he grabs the stool, to defend himself, and when he sees that no one is coming after him anymore, he drops it:

Context.

He should be suspended for 8-10 games.

He set this entire thing in motion.

But maybe, just maybe, tone down the rhetoric.

Women’s Wednesday: A new column dedicated to the women of college basketball

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Welcome to CBT’s first ever weekly women’s basketball column. I’m here to help provide you with some insight into the world of women’s college hoops.

Women’s sports are reaching new heights, especially in basketball. The WNBA announced a new collective bargaining agreement starting in the 2020 season that includes a 53 percent raise, maternity benefits, a base salary and performance-based bonuses. This year’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament will be broadcasted in its entirety on ESPN, with the semifinals and championship game premiering in primetime.

Female athletes are beginning to garner the attention they deserve. Sabrina Ionescu is drawing national attention for a historic senior season, as she has 22 career triple-doubles and became Oregon’s all-time leading basketball scorer in her career-high 37-point performance against Stanford last week. In the WNBA, women such as Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, and more are shattering gender stereotypes and proving that women can play basketball at a high level, just as men can.

While women’s sports have made a push into the public eye, there is still quite a way to go. It’s important to place an emphasis on the women who excel in their sport and give them the spotlight they deserve. Too many times women are only given credit through a masculine lens, whether that’s only getting attention after receiving praise from men, being compared to a male counterpart, or being a footnote in a male athlete’s story. Female athletes deserve to be their own story.

That’s what I’m hoping to do with this column over the rest of the season — give women a place to shine. I’d like to use this space to highlight some of the amazing women that play in the NCAA and hear from them about their experiences, the records they’re setting and their basketball journey. While I won’t even begin to make a dent in the breadth of talent available in women’s college basketball, I hope to use this column each week to take a deeper dive into some incredible women, as well as give you an idea of what’s happening around the country that week.

WEDNESDAY’S NEWS AND NOTES

South Carolina sits atop the world of college hoops, earning 22 first-place votes from the AP panel to nab the No. 1 spot. The Gamecocks have an 18-1 record with wins over ranked opponents such as Maryland, Baylor, Kentucky and most recently Mississippi State.

Baylor — the reigning national champs —- sits in the No. 2 spot in the rankings after dethroning UConn and ending its dominant 98-game winning streak at home. The Lady Bears received six of the first-place votes from the AP committee.

The rest of the top five is filled out by UConn at No. 3, Oregon at No. 4 after beating then-No. 3 Stanford, and Louisville rounds it out at fifth, receiving the last two first-place votes.

In a monster performance against Stanford, Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu had a career-high 37 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. She has four triple-doubles on the season and has a chance to become the NCAA’s first player to eclipse 2,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds and 1,000 career assists. As of Jan. 18, she has 2,265 points, 904 rebounds and 928 assists.

DePaul remains unbeaten in the Big East, with Chante Stonewall leading the team with 17.9 ppg while Kelly Campbell has 102 assists on the season, ranking No. 8 in the country.

Baylor’s 40-point victory over then-No. 17 West Virginia is their 45th consecutive Big 12 win.

Mississippi State’s JaMya Mingo-Young and Aliyah Matharu combined for 24 points and four steals off the bench in a close 79-81 loss to South Carolina on Monday.

Star freshman and No. 1 recruit Haley Jones suffered an apparent right knee injury and left Stanford’s Sunday win over Oregon State. She is scheduled to have an MRI but the team has given no further updates.

North Carolina State’s Elissa Cunane has 20+ points in four of her last six games and 10 double-doubles on the season, helping the Wolfpack to a dominant win over Florida State last week.

UCLA became the last undefeated team to fall with a double overtime loss to USC — who hadn’t yet won a Pac-12 matchup —  on Friday.

Northwestern made its debut this season in the Top-25, coming in at No. 22 — its first ranking since the 2015-2016 season.

No. 3 Oregon faces rival No. 7 Oregon State on Friday in a crucial Pac-12 matchup.

Stanford freshman Fran Belini threw down a one-handed dunk in pregame warmup before facing Oregon that you HAVE to see: