Previewing your college hoops weekend

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UPSET ALERT

Sat. 12:00 pm: No. 21 Missouri @ Kansas State: This is it. This is the game where Kansas State, the preseason top five team that was, at one point, 4-6 in the Big 12, can officially punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

On paper, this doesn’t look like the best matchup for the Wildcats. They don’t have a ton of ball handlers, and Missouri thrives on forcing turnovers and scoring quickly. The place where K-State would, presumably, have the biggest advantage — on the glass — does not appear to be that great of an advantage anymore. The Wildcat front court has been disappointing, as Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels continue to underachieve and Wally Judge and Freddy Asprilla have left the program, while Missouri’s bigs, namely Laurence Bowers and Ricardo Ratliffe, are coming off of an impressive performance against Baylor’s big front line.

But, as Luke Winn showed us in his Power Rankings on Thursday, both Missouri and Kansas State are much better teams at home. Throw in Jacob Pullen’s return to his all-american form the past three games (he’s averaging 30.5 ppg in K-State’s recent three game winning streak) and the desperation of a team playing for the NCAA Tournament lives, and I think the Wildcats pull this one out.

UPSET SPECIAL

Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 10 Arizona @ UCLA: There’s a large faction of those in the know that believe Arizona, based on the national polls, is one of the most overrated teams in the country. I can buy that, especially after seeing the Wildcats get beaten on Thursday by a very ho-hum USC team. The loss drops the Wildcats to just one game in front of the Bruins atop the Pac-10 standings. this will definitely be one of the most intriguing games on Saturday’s slate.

Sat. 9:00 pm: No. 1 Duke @ Virginia Tech: The Hokies are playing for their NCAA Tournament lives on Saturday. Without a marquee win to their name or another chance to get one before the ACC Tournament begins, this may be Seth Greenberg’s final chance at avoiding the wrong side of the bubble for the fourth straight season. It would be a shame if Malcolm Delaney never got to play in the NCAA Tournament. What will be interesting is to see how he plays knowing that may be on the line.

Sat. 9:00 pm: No. 17 Texas A&M @ Baylor: I’ve never been high on Texas A&M this season, and while Baylor looked like they were throwing in the towel against Missouri on Wednesday, the Bears are still one of the most talented teams — on paper — in the country. When LaceDarius Dunn and Perry Jones are both playing well, they are a team that can overcome subpar point guard play. The question is whether or not those two show up on a nightly bases.

Sun. 12:00 pm: No. 15 UConn @ Cincinnati: These are two teams headed in opposite directions. UConn started out the year as hot as anyone in the country, but as Kemba Walker dominates possession of the ball, the Huskies continue to lose in Big East play. Cincy had their season turned around by the benching of Yancy Gates. The past three games, he’s been a different player, and the Bearcats have been a different team.

Sun. 12:00 pm: West Virginia @ Rutgers: Rutgers is a scrappy, physical team that has found themselves down the stretch of the season under new head coach Mike Rice. They just knocked off Villanova at home and took Syracuse to overtime in the Carrier Dome. West Virginia is not as talented as those two teams, but they can be as physical as Rutgers. With UConn and Louisville to close out the season next week, the ‘Eers better not look past this game.

Sun. 12:00 pm: Xavier @ Dayton: Dayton has been the biggest disappoint in the Atlantic 10 this year. They are clearly missing the leadership they lost in the back court last season while Chris Wright still has not developed into the player everyone wants him to be. That said, the Flyers are talented and they are physical and they will be playing in front of their terrific home crowd. If the Flyers are to pull off this upset, they’ll need to stop Tu Holloway, who was one rebound away from back-to-back triple doubles.

Sun. 1:00 pm: No. 8 Purdue @ Michigan State: The Spartans picked up a big road win against Minnesota on Wednesday, getting them yet another step closer to overcoming their horrific start the the season. This game, however, may be the most important game Sparty has played all season. With their other two remaining games, the Spartans should have no problem getting to 10 wins in the Big Ten, but 11-7 with an extra win over Purdue can help make the committee forget about losses to Iowa and Michigan.

BEST MATCHUPS

Sat. 12:00 pm: No. 20 Syracuse @ No. 11 Georgetown: This game changed on Wednesday night. Chris Wright, the Georgetown point guard, fell awkwardly and broke a bone in his left hand. Wright is the Hoya’s best penetrator and their best passer. They are a different team against a zone when he isn’t on the court. Regardless, this is Syracuse-Georgetown. Its the rivalry that the Big East was built on, and always a must-watch game.

Sat. 2:00 pm: No. 7 BYU @ No. 4 SDSU: The rematch doesn’t have the same amount of hype as the first meeting in Provo back in January, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of this game. With both teams sitting with one loss in Mountain West play, this could easily turn into the conference’s regular season title game. Jimmer has been struggling lately, but his reputation is that of a big game player. He also has posted better numbers on the road than at home, meaning you can expect a big game out of him. But the Aztecs have been getting rowdy home crowds thanks to their success this season, and with BYU coming to town you should expect no different. As it was the first time, the key to this game is going to be how BYU’s front line handles SDSU’s big men.

Sat. 2:00 pm: No. 25 St. John’s @ No. 14 Villanova: St. John’s is the new darling of the Big East, but they’ve done the majority of their heavy lifting at home. The Johnnies only have two road wins on the season, but both of those wins have come in recent weeks, at Marquette and at Cincy. Villanova, on the other hand, has been struggling of late, losing five of their last nine games to fall off of the pace for one of the Big East’s top four seeds. If St. John’s wins, they put themselves into the driver’s seat for one of the double-byes, as their last two games come against Seton Hall and South Florida.

Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 13 Florida @ No. 22 Kentucky: Florida has continued to win games, earning an 11-2 mark in the SEC and a three game lead in the SEC East. One win in their last three games, and the Gators will clinch the top seed in the East. That said, Florida has a tough schedule down the stretch, as they also host Alabama and travel to Vanderbilt. Kentucky is one of the most talented teams in the country, but they only play like it when they are at home, where John Calipari’s team is undefeated this season. If the Gators pull out this win, its time to start discussing them as a potential No. 2 seed.

Sun. 2:00 pm: No. 6 Pitt @ No. 16 Louisville: I like this matchup for Louisville. Pitt is susceptible to being pressed. As good as Brad Wanamaker, Ashton Gibbs, and Travon Woodall are, none of them are really known as terrific ball handlers. Forcing tempo and forcing turnovers are Louisville’s bread and butter. It will be key for the Cardinal’s big men Gorgui Dieng and Terrence Jennings to box out on the defensive end of the floor, but if Louisville’s press is working and they are hitting their threes, they are a tough team to beat.

BEST STORYLINES

Saturday

  • 12:00 pm: Boston College @ Virginia: The Eagles absolutely cannot afford another loss if they want to make a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
  • 12:00 pm: James Madison @ VCU: The Rams lost on Wednesday, meaning they no longer have any wiggle room if they want to get themselves an at-large bid.
  • Sat. 1:00 pm: Wichita State @ Missouri State: Saturday is the last day of the Missouri Valley’s regular season, and the Shockers and the Bears are tied for first place. We’ll get an outright conference champ out of this game.
  • 1:05 pm: Milwaukee @ Youngstown State; 2:00 pm: Green Bay @ Cleveland State; 2:00 pm: Loyola @ Butler: Milwaukee, Cleveland State, and Butler are all tied for the Horizon League lead heading into the regular season’s final weekend.
  • 1:45 pm: No. 18 Vanderbilt @ LSU: LSU scored 84 points against Mississippi State. That’s 22 points more than their previous high in SEC play.
  • 2:00 pm: Miami FL @ Florida State: After losing to Maryland by 18 on Wednesday night, the Seminoles have a lot to prove to the committee if they aren’t getting Chris Singleton back before the tournament.
  • 2:00 pm: Delaware @ Hofstra: Charles Jenkins will play his final home game and get his jersey retired while he is still active.
  • 2:00 pm: South Florida @ DePaul: The battle for the cellar of the Big East.
  • 3:00 pm: Memphis @ UTEP: The Conference USA regular season title is up for grabs. Both the Tigers and the Miners are in contention for it.
  • 4:00 pm: No. 2 Kansas @ Oklahoma: Will Tyshawn Taylor be back in uniform for the Jayhawks?
  • 4:00 pm: No. 5 Texas @ Colorado: The Longhorns lost their last game on the road and may be playing this game without their first big man off the bench. Colorado has been a tough team at home, as well.
  • 4:00 pm: Alabama @ Ole Miss: The Crimson Tide, after nearly losing to Auburn at home, are looking to hold on to their lead in the SEC and play their way into the NCAA Tournament.
  • 4:00 pm: William & Mary @ Old Dominion: The Monarchs still have a shot at earning an at-large bid to the tournament.
  • 4:30 pm: Michigan @ Minnesota: This would have been a huge bubble game early this week, but after losing to Wisconsin and Michigan State, respectively, both the Gophers and the Wolverines look like they are just about done.
  • 4:30 pm: Coastal Carolina @ CSU: Can the Chanticleers win with this hanging over their head?
  • 6:00 pm: Mississippi State @ Tennessee: Can we just call this game the scandal bowl? This is a win that Tennessee has to have.
  • 7:00 pm: Seton Hall @ No. 9 Notre Dame: Ben Hansbrough has a real shot at playing his way into the Big East player of the year award.
  • 7:00 pm: South Carolina @ Georgia: The Bulldogs cannot afford to lose this game if they want to earn an NCAA Tournament bid.
  • 7:00 pm: Iowa @ Illinois: Like Georgia, the Illini cannot afford to lose this game.
  • 8:05 pm: Montana @ Eastern Washington: A win for the Grizzlies would clinch a share of the Big Sky title and force Northern Colorado to win three straight down the stretch to tie.
  • 8:05 pm: Illinois-Chicago @ Valpo: Thanks to an unfortunate loss on Thursday night, Valpo is now on the outside looking in of the top of the Horizon.
  • 8:45 pm: Eastern Kentucky @ Murray State: The Racers will win the Ohio Valle if they can knock off EKU on Saturday.
  • 9:00 pm: Idaho @ No. 23 Utah State: New Mexico State’s loss on Wednesday night gave Utah State the WAC regular season title. So the Aggies are playing to keep their names on the right side of the bubble.
  • 9:00 pm: Gonzaga @ San Diego; 11:00 pm: Portland @ St. Mary’s: Thanks to Gonzaga’s overtime win against St. Mary’s on Thursday night, the Zags and the Gaels are now tied for first in the WCC. Will they share the title?
  • 10:00 pm: Wyoming @ UNLV: The Runnin’ Rebels all-but punched their ticket with Wednesday’s win over New Mexico. That ticket could get voided if they lose to Wyoming.

Sunday

  • 4:00 pm: Fairfield @ Iona: There may not be anything on the line, but this should be quite an entertaining game.
  • 4:00 pm: Providence @ Marquette: The Marshon and Marquette? There is guaranteed to be some excitement in this one.
  • 10:00 pm: Washington State @ Washington: The Huskies will be looking to get some revenge for a loss they took at Wazzu last month.

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: