Previewing your College Hoops weekend

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UPSET SPECIAL

Sat. 8:00 pm: St. John’s @ No. 15 Notre Dame: The Johnnies are back, baby! Well, at least they will be if they can put together a win in a Saturday night foray into the Joyce Center. After beating West Virginia and Providence on the road and knocking off Georgetown at home, St. John’s heads into the first Big East weekend of the year in first place in the Big East at 3-0. Everyone that has an opinion is going to have a different one on this group. As good as this 3-0 start is, they also have losses to St. Bonaventure and Fordham on their resume.

For Notre Dame, the key to their terrific start — one that has them sitting at 13-2 (2-1) and 15th in the country — has been team play. The Irish move the ball around really well, they understand what a good shot is, they find the guy that is hot, and they usually have a versatile lineup that can give you multiple looks. The reason that I say usually is because Carleton Scott will be out of the lineup as he nurses a hamstring back to health.

The way I see it, there are two keys to this game. The first is that Notre Dame is going to have to execute offensively. St. John’s isn’t the greatest defensive team in terms of efficiency, but they are physical and did a good job of taking Georgetown out of what they wanted to do offensively. The other thing that Notre Dame is going to need to do is slow down St. John’s around the rim. The Johnnies big men have been really effective of late, while DJ Kennedy and Justin Brownlee have proven to be quite dynamic up front.

UPSET ALERT

Sat. 2:00 pm: Marquette @ No. 5 Pitt: Marquette is going to have their problems with this Pitt team. They are not exactly overflowing with powerful front court players, and Pitt is about as big as it gets this season, especially when it comes to crashing the offensive glass. But Marquette is not the kind of team that gets blown out. They scrap, they hustle, and they defend, and in the end they will be in striking distance. With the shooters and perimeter scorers that Buzz Williams has this year, if Marquette can get hot they have a chance.

Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 11 Kentucky @ Georgia: Trey Thompkins is finally starting to come around. He had 26 points and 7 boards his last time out, and if you factor out his first two games of the season — against Notre Dame and Temple as he was still coming back from his ankle injury — Thompkins is actually having a fairly solid season. I think Georgia is a team that is flying a bit under the radar this year, and while I’m higher on Kentucky than most people, playing your first conference game as a freshmen on the road is not easy. Josh Harrellson better not get into foul trouble.

Sat. 5:00 pm: No. 24 Vanderbilt @ South Carolina: Vanderbilt is a bit different than the typical Vandy teams. They have quite a bit of size and athleticism inside, which combined with guys like John Jenkins and Jeff Taylor makes this a tough team to beat. The bigger issue for Vanderbilt is that they don’t exactly have a point guard. Brad Tinsely is, but he’s more of a playmaking off-guard. Ironically, point guard Brice Ellington, a freshman that starts for Darrin Horn, would be a nice fit for Vandy.

Sat. 8:30 pm: Portland @ Gonzaga: I’m not even sure Portland knocking off the Zags would count as an upset this year as Portland actually has a higher RPI right now. The Pilots shoot a lot of threes, and they hit them at a tremendous clip — 44.4% to be exact. If they get hot, the Zags better watch out.

Sun. 8:00 pm: Maryland @ No. 1 Duke: Yup. I’m saying it. Maryland has a chance to knock off Duke. Its a minute one, I’ll admit, but I like the way that the Terp’s personnel matchup with the Blue Devils. Duke struggles with big, strong post players, and that is Jordan Williams to a T. Gary Williams has also decided to move Terrell Stoglin into the starting lineup. If guys like Sean Mosley, Cliff Tucker, Pe’Shon Howard, and Stoglin play well on the perimeter and Jordan Williams plays like he has all season long, this could be where Duke’s undefeated season ends.

BEST MATCHUPS

Sat. 12:00 pm: Austin Peay @ Murray State: Believe it or not, these may actually be the best two teams in the OVC. And this game is on ESPNU? Yes please.

Sat. 3:00 pm: Florida State @ Virginia Tech: I came into the season thinking that these two teams would fight with UNC for sole possession of second place in the ACC. While that still may very well turn out to be true, they certainly won’t be doing it as ranked teams. Both teams have their star — Malcolm Delaney for Virginia Tech, Chris Singleton for Florida State. It will be interesting to see who can stop who.

Sat. 3:30 pm: No. 9 UConn @ No. 12 Texas: Kemba Walker and UConn have come back down to earth. After a story book start to the season, the Huskies are now sitting at 1-2 in the Big East, with that one being an overtime win over South Florida. The good news is that some of UConn’s freshmen are starting to show flashes of how good they can be. But that has come, apparently, at the cost of Alex Oriakhi, a guy that will be so important for the Huskies on Saturday. Why is he so important? Because Tristan Thompson is slowly by surely developing into a star. That will be a fun matchup to watch, as will Dogus Balbay guarding Kemba and Jordan Hamilton going up against UConn’s slew of lanky wings.

Sat. 6:00 pm: Charleston @ Wofford: The SoCon is a very good conference this season, and these two clubs could very well be the two best in the league. Charleston landed themselves a BCS school when they blew out Tennessee in Knoxville last weekend. Wofford didn’t beat any of their high major opponents this season, but they did come close on a number of occasions. Noah Dahlman will be the best big man on the floor, but I don’t think anyone wants to play against Andrew Goudelock right now.

Sun. 12:00 pm: No. 25 Cincinnati @ No. 7 Villanova: The time is finally here. We get to see whether or not unbeaten Cincinnati is for real. Their win over Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout was impressive, but Xavier looks like a team that is going to miss the NCAA Tournament this season. Villanova may win the Big East if they can get Corey Fisher playing on the same level as Corey Stokes. My advice to the Bearcats — get the ball to Yancy Gates. The big guy needs to eat.

Sun. 2:00 pm: No. 21 Minnesota @ No. 2 Ohio State: The Gophers have had a tough start to Big Ten play, and it doesn’t get any easier Sunday as they head to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes. You know about OSU by now — Jared Sullinger is a player of the year candidate while the four guys on the court around him all understand and buy into their roles. Minnesota, however, has enough size that they should be able to give Sully some issues on the block. They will need a much better offensive performance than the one they had against Indiana, but if Minnesota can slow down the big fella, they have a good shot at this win.

Sun. 8:30 pm: Missouri State @ Wichita State: This one will be a dandy and will be televised on ESPNU. The Bears and the Shockers are both undefeated in the Valley and look like they are the two best teams in the conference. They play at a slower pace than the Big Ten, but one of these two will likely be dancing come March. Make sure you know who they are.

BEST STORYLINES

Friday:

  • 7:00 pm: Cleveland State @ Butler: The best two teams in the Horizon League. And the favorite in the league may not be Butler.

Saturday:

  • 11:00 am: West Virginia @ No. 13 Georgetown: I will be at this game trying to determine what exactly is going on with the ‘Eers.
  • 12:00 pm: No. 4 Syracuse @ Seton Hall: The Orange play their first true road game of the season. In New Jersey.
  • 12:00 pm: UNC @ Virginia: The Tar Heels kick off their ACC season with a trip to Charlottesville. Can the Heels get it turned around this season?
  • 1:00 pm: No. 19 Michigan State @ Penn State: Kalin Lucas vs. Talor Battle will be fun to watch, as will practice on Monday if the Spartans lose.
  • 1:00 pm: No. 17 Kansas State @ Oklahoma State: The Cowboys are always tough in Gallagher-Iba, but with Pullen back and Judge playing like an all-american the last couple of games.
  • 1:30 pm: No. 8 Missouri @ Colorado: Colorado really needs a win, if for nothing else than to boost their confidence.
  • 1:30 pm: Tennessee @ Arkansas: Guess whose suspension is starting…?
  • 2:00 pm: George Mason @ Old Dominion: Before the season, I thought these two teams were the two best teams in the league.
  • 2:00 pm: Baylor @ Texas Tech: Can Baylor get a win on the road? The Bears are being flur
  • 3:00 pm: Air Force @ No. 14 BYU: Air Force has been much improved this season, but they are a long way from Jimmer territory.
  • 4:00 pm: No. 6 San Diego State @ Utah: SDSU’s second halves this season have been impressive. Their first halves? Not so much.
  • 4:00 pm: No. 16 Texas A&M @ Oklahoma: What’s the over-under on the number of Big XII games Oklahoma wins?
  • 4:00 pm: East Carolina @ No. 22 Memphis: Can the Tigers bounce back?
  • 4:00 pm: UTEP @ UAB: Randy Culpepper and Aaron Johnson are two of the most entertaining players in the country to watch.
  • 4:00 pm: Alabama @ Mississippi State: Who will Sidney fight on Saturday?
  • 4:00 pm: Richmond @ La Salle: Two of the best in the A-10 square off. Justin Harper going against Aaric Murray should draw the eyes of some NBA scouts.
  • 4:00 pm: Utah State @ Nevada: I had no idea Nevada, and the WAC in general, was going to be this bad this season.
  • 5:00 pm: No. 18 UCF @ Houston: Guess who is still undefeated.
  • 6:00 pm: LSU @ Auburn: The battle for the worst team in the SEC commences.
  • 6:30 pm: Stanford @ Arizona: Believe it or not, Stanford is in first place in the Pac-10. Stanford!
  • 6:30 pm: Oregon State @ Washington: And the Cardinal are tied with Washington. The Beavers fell back to earth against Wazzu on Thursday.
  • 8:00 pm: Ole Miss @ Florida: Chris Warren’s beared is worth watching this game on ESPN3 for.

Sunday:

  • 12:00 pm: Iowa @ No. 10 Purdue: Iowa may be better than we expected, but that doesn’t mean they can win at Mackey.
  • 12:00 pm: No. 23 Louisville @ South Florida: Gus Gilchrist quit the team and then came back. Did you even know?
  • 4:30 pm: No. 3 Kansas @ Michigan: At West Virginia, John Beilein won games like this all this time. He hasn’t been so fortunate at Michigan.
  • 7:00 pm: Indiana @ Northwestern: No one needs a win more than Northwestern right now.
  • 10:30 pm: UCLA @ USC: The two LA schools may actually be the second and third best teams in the Pac-10. This game has a lot more significance than it did at the start of the year.

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

AP Poll: Baylor remains No. 1 in week with few changes at the top

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Here is the latest college basketball AP Poll.

For those interested, here is the NBC Sports Top 25.

Baylor is No. 1 for a second straight week in a college basketball AP poll that had no major changes at the top, a rare bit of stability in a wildly unpredictable season.

The Bears stayed well ahead of No. 2 Gonzaga in Monday’s poll, part of an unchanged top seven for the first time this season. In fact, the only change in the top 10 came with Villanova moving up a spot to No. 8 to swap positions with No. 9 Duke. That comes in a season that has seen seven different teams reach No. 1 this season, matching a record set during the 1982-83 season.

Baylor (17-1) hopped over Gonzaga last week to reach No. 1 for the second time in program history, then earned 44 of 64 first-place votes to keep a firm hold on the top spot after beating Oklahoma and Florida last week.

The Zags earned 19 first-place votes to remain either No. 1 or No. 2 in the poll since the middle of December, followed by Kansas, San Diego State — the last unbeaten team in Division I — and Florida State.

Louisville, Dayton, Villanova, Duke and Seton Hall rounded out the top 10.

No. 22 LSU, No. 23 Wichita State and No. 24 Penn State were the week’s new additions, re-entering the poll after appearances earlier this season. Texas Tech, Memphis and Arizona fell out of the rankings.

Here is the full college basketball AP Poll:

1. Baylor (44 first-place votes)
2. Gonzaga (19)
3. Kansas (1)
4. San Diego State
5. Florida State
6. Louisville
7. Dayton
8. Villanova
9. Duke
10. Seton Hall
11. Oregon
12. West Virginia
13. Kentucky
14. Michigan State
15. Maryland
16. Butler
17. Auburn
18. Iowa
19. Illinois
20. Colorado
21. Houston
22. LSU
23. Wichita State
24. Penn State
25. Rutgers

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

___

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

ACC fines Brey for his officiating comments

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) The Atlantic Coast Conference has fined Notre Dame $20,000 and publicly reprimanded Fighting Irish basketball coach Mike Brey for his comments about officiating after Saturday’s loss at Florida State.

The league announced the penalties Monday, saying Brey’s comments “were in direct violation” of the league’s sportsmanship policy that states that public criticism of officiating “is not in the best interest of intercollegiate athletics.”

Brey referenced several issues after the 85-84 loss to the Seminoles, including a technical foul called on the Irish bench with 2:31 left. He also mentioned game official John Gaffney by name as he left the news conference in Tallahassee.

“We’re treated by the officials like we haven’t brought football as a full member (to the league), but yet we get a full share of the ACC Network TV, are you kidding me?” Brey said, a reference to Notre Dame’s independence in football even as it remains a member of all other league sports.

Moments later, a frustrated Brey waved both hands as he got up to leave and continued his comments as he left the room.

“You’ve got to be kidding me, man,” Brey said, raising his voice. “Come on, man. We’re in the league, too.”

The league said in a news release that the matter is closed and declined to make additional comment. The fine will go toward an ACC scholarship fund that assists athletes with pursuing graduate degrees after completing undergraduate requirements.

More AP college basketball: http://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

Monday Overreactions: Ayo Dosunmu, Maryland and Nick Richards’ takeoer

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois

Ayo Dosunmu did it again.

Illinois’ sophomore star and leading scorer finished with 27 points, none of which were bigger than the final shot of the game as Dosunmu hit a foul line jumper over Zavier Simpson with 0.5 seconds left on the clock to beat Michigan in Ann Arbor:

It’s the sixth straight win for the Illini, who have climbed all the way up to No. 21 in the AP poll, and no one has been more influential in that run than Dosunmu. He’s averaging 19.0 points and 5.4 assists over the last five games, and in a conference where winning road games is notoriously difficult, the Illini have won at Wisconsin, at Purdue and at Michigan during that stretch.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Maryland Terrapins

No team in the country has elicited a louder chorus of doubters throughout the course of the season than Maryland.

The Terps were a top ten team in the preseason, and spent the entire season ranked inside the top 20 of the AP poll and currently sit at No. 10 in KenPom’s rankings. But because of some uninspiring performances early in the season, combined with the fact that the Terps had entered the week with an 0-4 record on the road, it was easy to overlook this group as nothing more than another fraudulent Mark Turgeon roster.

This week, the narrative changed. The Terps erased a 14 point deficit on the road to knock off Northwester, 77-66, in Chicago and then followed that up by going on a 7-0 run in the final two minutes to land a 77-76 win at Indiana.

Suddenly, the Terps are on a three game winning streak with back-to-back home games coming up next.

MONDAY’S OVERREACTIONS

1. NICK RICHARDS IS THE SEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Richards has been one of the most improved players in the country this season, but Saturday was really the first time that we saw him completely take over a game.

He finished with 25 points, 14 boards and four blocks in the 76-74 overtime win at Texas Tech, scoring the game-winning points with 10 seconds left.

This is notable, because if you look at Kentucky’s biggest wins of the season to date, they all happened to be a result of one of Hagans or Maxey going absolutely nuts. Maxey had 27 in the win over Michigan State. He had 26  against Louisville. Hagans went for 21 points, seven boards and seven assists against Georgia Tech. He had 13 points, six boards and six assists at Arkansas and 15 points, nine boards and nine assists against Alabama.

Point being, this is the first time that Richards has definitively been the best player on the floor while carrying Kentucky to a win like this on the road.

I also get it: He completely overwhelmed Texas Tech’s frontline — which, frankly, is not a new occurrence, if you have seen the Red Raiders play this season. But we’ve seen Richards play against frontlines he should dominate and, well, not dominate.

As it stands, he’s now the leading scorer and rebounder for the Wildcats. He’s probably the leader in the clubhouse for SEC Player of the Year, and very much in the mix for an all-american team.

2. TEXAS TECH HAS A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF WORK TO DO TO GET TO THE TOURNAMENT

I’m not sure people realize just how little there is on Texas Tech’s resume right now. They beat Louisville (11) on a neutral court. They beat Iowa State (70) at home. They beat Oklahoma State (83) at home. They won at Kansas State (89). Combined, that’s one Quad 1, two Quad 2 and a Quad 3 win. They have eight wins against sub-200 teams and have lost to seven Quad 1 opponents, including Kentucky (23) at home on Saturday. The Red Raiders will have plenty of chances to build on their profile — they get West Virginia (7) at home and play at Kansas (3) next week alone — but there is no doubt that this team has to start winning some games against teams that are not horrific.

As it stands, the Red Raiders are the very last team in the most recent NBC Sports bracket projection.

3. THE BIG TEN IS GOING TO DISAPPOINT IN MARCH

The biggest reason that I believe this is the lack of elite point guard play. I’ve made this point roughly 18,000 times by now, but in the last decade, the only team that won the national title without having two lead guards playing together was the 2012 Kentucky team that had the top two picks playing together.

And the thing about this year’s Big Ten is that the lead guard play is not great. Cassius Winston, when he’s right, is the best in the country. Ayo Dosunmu, the way he’s been playing for the last month, is right there with him. Anthony Cowan is, in theory, on that list. Zavier Simpson? Maybe. Marcus Carr? At times.

I think that’s it.

So that’s a concern.

As is the fact that every team in the Big Ten is built around their frontcourt play.

I was struck over the weekend as I watch Michigan and Illinois down the stretch play with four centers on the floor — Kofi Cockburn and Giorgi Bezhanishvili for the Illini and Jon Teske and Austin Davis for the Wolverines. Iowa is at their best when they play with Luka Garza and Ryan Kriener. Tom Izzo loves to play Xavier Tillman with another big man. I could keep going if I had the time.

That is the only league in the country where that happens, and I think it is fair to wonder how well that will hold up in March.

4. ARIZONA IS NOT FAR AWAY FROM BEING REALLY DANGEROUS

More than anyone else in college basketball, the Wildcats are the team that appear to be the darling of the predictive metrics this season.

(I would say Ohio State, but they spent the first half of the season absolutely bludgeoning really good teams and still don’t have a loss to a team outside the top 40.)

They have one win against a top 30 team and just two wins against top 55 opponents. Their best win away from home is against Wake Forest, yet the Wildcats, at 13-6 overall, find themselves sitting at 10th in KenPom and 12th in the NET. This is what happens when you find a way to lose games close. Five fo their six losses came by five points or less, and it hasn’t always been the same formula. Arizona erased leads to land backdoor covers against Baylor, Gonzaga and Saint John’s. They blew leads on the road in league play in losses to Oregon and Arizona State. They completely collapsed in the second half against Oregon State.

So I’m not sure there is a clear-cut answer to what ails the Wildcats right now.

But I do know that with the talent on their roster, they are not as far away from being an actual top ten team as the average Arizona fan on twitter will have you believe.

5. IS SYRACUSE THE FOURTH-BEST TEAM IN THE ACC?

Someone has to be the fourth-best team in the ACC, and as far as league standings go, the Orange currently qualify. They are 6-3 in the conference, having won their last five games, and they have fully embraced the idea that this roster needs to fire up as many threes as possible to have a chance to win.

That said, they still haven’t beaten anyone. Their best win came at Virginia in overtime, but Virginia may not be a tournament team this season. The trouble is that the Orange only get the other top teams in the conference — Duke, N.C. State, Florida State and Louisville — once each.

They probably need to win at least two of those games to have a real shot at a tournament bid.

Bracketology: Baylor strengthens its grip on the No. 1 overall seed

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Here is the latest NCAA tournament bracketology projection.

Baylor continues to strengthen its grip on the No. 1 overall seed.  The Bears won their fifth true road game (5-0 in opportunities) of the season at Florida on Saturday.  They are No. 1 in the NCAA’s NET ratings, 6-1 in Quadrant 1 games and 10-1 against Quadrant 1 and 2 opponents combined.  Baylor hasn’t lost since November 8, a nearly two-month stretch of perfection.

Elsewhere, the top line remains in tact.  There’s room for debate across lines two through four. It’ll be interesting to see how the Selection Committee views the profiles of teams like Florida State, Louisville and Duke in the weeks ahead.  Unless something changes, there will be fewer Quad 1 opportunities in this year’s Atlantic Coast Conference.

Tracking the Bubble is going to keep you busy.  It’s several lines deep into the bracket today.  The margins between a nine seed and an 11-seeded play-in team are minimal.  And that’s not factoring in the next 8-12 teams knocking on the door.

The latest look at where our NCAA tournament bracketology projection stands …

UPDATED: January 27, 2020

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
MIDWEST REGION NC State vs. Arizona State
SOUTH REGION VCU vs. Texas Tech
SOUTH REGION  ROBERT MORRIS vs. NORFOLK ST
MIDWEST REGION MONMOUTH vs. PR VIEW A&M

SOUTH Houston WEST – Los Angeles                         
Omaha Spokane
1) BAYLOR 1) GONZAGA
16) ROB MORRIS / NORFOLK ST 16) NORTHERN COLORADO
8) Wichita State 8) USC
9) Saint Mary’s 9) Oklahoma 
Sacramento Tampa
5) Penn State 5) LSU
12) YALE 12) AKRON
4) Kentucky 4) West Virginia
13) NEW MEXICO ST 13) S.F. AUSTIN
Cleveland Albany
6) Marquette 6) Colorado
11) VCU / Texas Tech 11) BYU
3) MICHIGAN STATE 3) Villanova
14) NORTH TEXAS 14) COLGATE
Tampa Spokane
7) Indiana 7) Wisconsin
10) Saint John’s 10) Memphis
2) Florida State 2) OREGON
15) AUSTIN PEAY 15) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
EAST – New York MIDWEST – Indianapolis
Sacramento Omaha
1) SAN DIEGO STATE 1) Kansas
16) UC-IRVINE 16) MONMOUTH / PV A&M
8) Ohio State 8) HOUSTON
9) Florida 9) Arkansas
Greensboro St. Louis
5) Butler 5) Creighton
12) EAST TENNESSEE ST 12) NORTHERN IOWA
4) Maryland 4) Iowa
13) VERMONT 13) LIBERTY
Greensboro Cleveland
6) Auburn 6) Illinois
11) DePaul 11) NC State / Arizona St
3) Duke 3) DAYTON
14) WRIGHT STATE 14) LITTLE ROCK
Albany St. Louis
7) Rutgers 7) Arizona
10) Stanford 10) Michigan
2) SETON HALL 2) LOUISVILLE
15) WILLIAM & MARY 15) WINTHROP

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Michigan Arizona State Rhode Island Purdue
BYU NC State Virginia Tech Tennessee
Saint John’s VCU Richmond Xavier
DePaul Texas Tech Minnesota Georgetown

Top Seed Line
Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas, San Diego State
Seed List

Breakdown by Conference …
Big Ten (10)
Big East (7)
Pac 12 (6)
SEC (5)
Big 12 (5)

ACC (4)
American (3)

West Coast (3)
Atlantic 10 (2)
Mountain West (1)

College Basketball Top 25 Power Rankings: Baylor, Gonzaga lead the way

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A new college basketball top 25 is now live.

I sat down at my laptop to write out a column about why I ranked certain teams in certain spots and, to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t find a way to give a damn.

As I’m sure you all know, Kobe Bryant died today. He was in a helicopter along with eight other people, including his daughter, Gianna, and her teammate, Alyssa Altobelli along with her mom, Keri, and dad, John. They were on the way to play in a travel team game. At least two, and certainly more, families were gutted, and while we are going to be talking about Kobe for the most part, I do think that should be emphasized.

Nine people died on that helicopter. Nine.

I’ve been thinking a lot today about why so many folks — like myself — spent Sunday completely torn up about the death of a person that we never met, a person that may or may not be deserving of the outpouring of love and adoration coming his way. What I came up with is this: The true heartbreak in this story is that Kobe was on the plane with one of his four daughters, the one he has spent the last couple of years proudly and publicly developing into a full-blown middle-aged sports dad with. It was awesome to see. This was not how their story was supposed to end.

Kobe and his wife also have three other daughters: a 17-year old along with a three year old and a newborn that is just seven months old. The Altobellis left a family behind, too, and what that family is going through is crushing as well, but I can’t stop thinking about what Vanessa, his wife, is going to be forced to deal with. She’s post-partum, with one daughter that will never know her father, and now has to cope with the loss of her husband and the loss of a child while trying to keep that 17-year old sane and explain to a three-year old why daddy and her big sister are never coming home.

That’s unfathomable to me.

But the reason I think this hit me so hard is that I keep putting myself in that helicopter. As a parent, the only goal in your life is keep your kids safe and happy. At any cost. It’s that simple. How do you deal with being on a helicopter with your child — and, for the Altobellis, with your spouse — knowing that something has gone wrong? Knowing what’s going to happen? Knowing the inevitability of your situation? Knowing that there’s nothing you can do to stop it, to keep your baby safe?

I don’t think that I’m alone there.

So I spent as much time as I could today playing with my kids, because arguing about ranking college basketball top 25 teams has never seemed dumber.

We can yell at each other next week.

Anyway, here is the rest of the NBC Sports college basketball top 25.



1. BAYLOR (17-1, Last Week: 1)
2. GONZAGA (21-1, 2)
3. KANSAS (16-3, 3)
4. FLORIDA STATE (17-2, 4)
5. LOUISVILLE (17-3, 5)
6. SETON HALL (15-4, 6)
7. DUKE (17-3, 7)
8. SAN DIEGO STATE (21-0, 8)
9. DAYTON (18-2, 9)
10. OREGON (17-4, 13)
11. KENTUCKY (16-5, 14)
12. WEST VIRGINIA (16-3, 15)
13. VILLANOVA (16-3, 17)
14. ILLINOIS (15-5, 24)
15. AUBURN (17-2, 12)
16. MICHIGAN STATE (16-3, 10)
17. IOWA (14-5, 18)
18. MARYLAND (16-4, 23)
19. HOUSTON (16-4, 20)
20. BUTLER (16-4, 11)
21. CREIGHTON (16-5, 25)
22. COLORADO (16-4, NR)
23. PENN STATE (14-5, NR)
24. RUTGERS (15-5, NR)
25. ARIZONA (13-6, 19)

NEW ADDITIONS: No. 22 Colorado, No. 23 Penn State, No. 24 Rutgers
DROPPED OUT: No. 16 Texas Tech, No. 21 Memphis, No. 22 Michigan