Bubble Banter: West Virginia sliding fast, while UConn, Purdue in danger zones

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West Virginia is moving in the wrong direction.  Marquette rallied Friday night in Morgantown and handed the Mountaineers their seventh loss in nine games.  Not that WVU is alone.  Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi have also created some potential bubble trouble for themselves.  Southern Miss has posted consecutive losses to Houston and UTEP – which follows an earlier loss this month to UAB.  Mississippi State has dropped four straight and faces two straight on the road – starting with a trip to Alabama.  These teams: Arkansas, Illinois, and Minnesota have left the bubble entirely.

Championship Week is shaping up to be quite interesting.  What are the odds that every favorite wins its conference tournament?  Certainly less than fifty percent – meaning we’ll have a few bid stealers before Selection Sunday.  March is less than a week away.  Who’s ready for a little Madness?

RPI data is for games played through Feb. 23.

UPDATED: Friday, February 24 | 11:30 p.m. ET

Total Spots (68): Number of teams in the Field.

  • Projected Locks (15): Teams who have secured a spot in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
  • Should Be In (17): Teams in solid position to receive an at-large bid.
  • Bubble: (31): Teams projected to be at or near the cutline for being selected as at-large candidates.
  • Spots available (13): Estimated number of openings after Automatic Bids, Locks, and Should Be Ins are considered.
  • RPI and SOS: RPI and SOS data are updated through games on Thursday, February 23
  • Teams Leaving the Bubble: Davidson, Cleveland State, Arkansas, Wyoming, Illinois, Minnesota
  • Teams Joining the Bubble: West Virginia, Mississippi State, Southern Mississippi, VCU
Atlantic 10
Locks: Temple | Should Be In: St. Louis | Bubble: Dayton, St. Joe’s, Xavier
  • Dayton (17-10 | 7-6) | RPI: 66 | SOS: 58 | – The Flyers have won three of four games to stay in the bubble picture. An 8-7 mark vs. the Top 100 is worth noting. It’s the losses to Miami-OH and Rhode Island that hurt Dayton’s case. Non-conference wins include Alabama, Ole Miss, and Minnesota. They’ve also beaten Temple, St. Louis, and Xavier inside the A-10. The Flyers’ last three (UMass, Richmond, Geo Washington) are all winnable games. A sweep would put UD in decent position heading into the A-10 tournament.
  • St. Joe’s (18-11 | 8-6) | RPI: 57 | SOS: 57 | – Wednesday’s home loss to Richmond puts a lot of pressure on the Hawks to win their last two A-10 regular season games (Temple, St. Bonaventure). St. Joe’s is just 1-5 vs. the Top 50, but is 6-7 vs. Top 100 teams. Wins include Creighton, Dayton, and Drexel at home. Beating Temple will be critical. And the Hawks may need a couple of A-10 tournament wins to stay in the hunt down the stretch.
  • Xavier (17-10 | 8-5) | RPI: 53 | SOS: 48 | – Non-conference wins over Vanderbilt, Purdue, and Cincinnati continue to help the Muskies despite some recent troubles. But XU is far from safe, especially after Tuesday’s loss at Massachusetts. The Musketeers are 6-9 vs. Top 100 teams, and 11-10 vs. the Top 200. A losing mark against the Top 200 has traditionally spelled bubble trouble. XU has home games left with Richmond and Charlotte. Those are critical. The Muskies also travel to St. Louis. XU’s only really bad loss was at Hawaii while several players were suspended.
ACC
Locks: Duke, North Carolina | Should Be In: Florida State, Virginia | Bubble: Miami-FL, NC State
  • Miami-FL (16-10 | 7-6) | RPI: 50 | SOS: 34 | – It’s hard to think that a single win at Duke will carry the Hurricanes into the NCAAs. Right now, that’s about all Miami has to offer. The ‘Canes are 1-7 vs. the Top 50 and just 3-10 vs. Top 100 teams. Several other bubble teams have a more balanced profile. Overall, Miami has lost 3 of 4 including Tuesday’s loss at Maryland. The closing stretch includes Florida State and NC State. Miami may need both.
  • NC State (18-10 | 7-6) | RPI: 62 | SOS: 30 | – The Wolfpack have a win at Miami (Fla) and a neutral courty victory over Texas. Those are the highlights: two wins over bubble teams. NC State is 1-8 vs. Top 50 teams and just 4-9 vs. the Top 100. Closing games include Clemson, Miami, and Virginia Tech. The Wolfpack may need all three to stay in the at-large picture heading into the ACC tournament.
BIG EAST
Locks: Syracuse, Georgetown, Marquette | Should Be In: Louisville, Notre Dame | Bubble: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Seton Hall, West Virginia
  • Cincinnati (20-8 | 10-5) | RPI: 74 | SOS: 114 | – Cincinnati rallied for a big win over Louisville at home on Thursday. It gives the Bearcats a little margin for error down the stretch. How much remains to be seen. We’ve noted several times that a No. 300-plus non-conference schedule has been a major no-no among committee voters in recent years. Every year is different, but it’s something to keep in mind. Next up is a game at fellow bubble dweller South Florida. Then it’s home to Marquette before closing at Villanova. Cincy has been a decent road team and needs to win at least one of its final two away from home. Winning two of three might be enough, but losing two of three will put a lot of pressure on UC to win a game or two in New York. Overall, the Bearcats are 5-3 vs the Top 50 and 6-5 vs. Top 100 opponents.
  • Connecticut (17-10 | 7-8) | RPI: 23 | SOS: 3 | – With a 6-6 mark vs. the Top 50 and 8-8 mark vs. the Top 100, the Huskies remain in decent bubble position – especially given the nation’s No. 3 ranked strength of schedule. That said, UConn can’t afford a late slide. Next up is a home game with Syracuse. After that, the Huskies close with winnable games against Providence and Pittsburgh. Key non-conference victories include Florida State and Harvard. Losses at Tennessee and Rutgers are the blemishes.
  • Seton Hall (19-9 | 8-8) | RPI: 32 | SOS: 27 | – The Pirates have won 4 of 5 games and have certainly boosted their at-large profile. The only loss during that span, however, was at fellow bubble-dweller Cincinnati. Overall, SHU is 3-7 vs. the Top 50 and 7-8 vs. the Top 100. Notable non-conference wins are Dayton, St. Joe’s, and VCU. How much will those help? The Pirates have winnable games with DePaul and Rutgers left. Win both of those and SHU will be in decent shape heading to New York. Lose either or both and it becomes more concerning.
  • West Virginia (17-12 | 7-9) | RPI: 44 | SOS: 7 | – The Mountaineers have lost 7 of 9 games and find themselves in some trouble after Friday’s home loss to Marquette. A lopsided loss at Notre Dame earlier in the week was particularly ugly. Overall, a victory over Georgetown and a neutral court win over Kansas State are the highlights – along with victories over Oral Roberts and Miami(Fla). Several close losses and a Top 10 schedule will help. The Mountaineers are 8-10 vs. Top 100 teams and nine losses have come to teams in the Top 35 of the RPI. WVU closes with a home game against DePaul before a trip to South Florida. Winning one of those is very important. Losing both would make the Big East tournament a pressure cooker.
BIG 10
Locks: Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan | Should Be In: Indiana, Wisconsin | Bubble: Northwestern, Purdue
  • Northwestern (16-11 | 6-9) | RPI: 47 | SOS: 7 | – If Northwestern misses the NCAAs in a close call, Tuesday’s overtime home loss to Michigan will loom large. The Wildcats have a home win over Michigan State and neutral court victory over Seton Hall. But NW is just 5-11 vs. Top 100 teams, with those other wins being against LSU, Illinois, and Minnesota – none are NCAA caliber right now. A 2-7 road record is also concerning. A Top 10 SOS is a huge plus and NW has no “bad” losses. In fact, all but two losses are to teams ranked in the RPI Top 50. Road trips to Penn State and Iowa remain, sandwiched by a home game with Ohio State. The Wildcats really need to beat PSU and Iowa to get to 8-10 in Big Ten play heading into the Big Ten tournament.
  • Purdue (18-10 | 8-7) | RPI: 49 | SOS: 24 | – The Boilermakers are now without Kelsey Barlow, so that has to be a consideration for the Selection Committee. In his absence, Purdue showed well in a home loss to Michigan State and then routed Nebraska. Overall, the Boilers are in decent shape with five Top 50 wins and an 8-8 mark vs. the Top 100. The real issue is the lack of a marquee win – especially within the Big Ten. Purdue beat Temple and Iona in Puerto Rico and Miami(Fla) in the ACC Challenge, but the Boilers best conference win(s) are a sweep of Northwestern. Purdue has road trips left at Michigan and Indiana, along with Penn State at home. Two of three might be enough. Losing both road games, however, could leave the Boilers without a conference victory over a team above them in the standings.
BIG 12
Locks: Baylor, Kansas, Missouri | Should Be In: Kansas State | Bubble: Iowa State, Texas
  • Iowa State (20-9 | 10-5) | RPI: 42 | SOS: 64 | – The real issue for Iowa State is a low number of quality wins. Beating Kansas and Kansas State at home are solid victories, but those are the best highlights. Overall, ISU is just 3-6 vs. Top 100 teams. The Cyclones split with Texas (on the bubble list below). Three potential “big wins” remain: at Kansas State, at Missouri, and Baylor. Winning one might be enough to slip the Cyclones into the NCAAs but it would be close. Losing all three could prove disasterous. That would leave ISU at 3-9 vs. Top 100 teams. Right now, 17 of ISU’s 20 wins are to teams outside the Top 100.
  • Texas (17-11 | 7-8) | RPI: 54 | SOS: 17 | – The Longhorns have wins over Temple, Kansas State, and Iowa State at home. But they are 3-8 vs. Top 50 teams and 4-9 vs. the Top 100. Equally concerning is an 11-11 mark vs. Top 200 teams. That would suggest UT has no margin for error down the stretch. Texas has to beat Texas Tech and Oklahoma. Period. The Longhorns close with a game at Kansas. Winning all three would help. Winning the first two will keep Texas in the conversation heading into the Big 12 tournament. An strong overall SOS is helping. Losses at Oklahoma State and Oregon State are blemishes.
CONFERENCE USA
Locks: None | Should Be In: Memphis | Bubble: Southern Mississippi, Central Florida
  • Central Florida (17-8 | 8-5) | RPI: 64 | SOS: 105 | – Time might be running out on the Knights after a bad loss at Rice, UCF’s third sub-100 loss this season. That’s because the Knights are just 3-5 vs. Top 100 teams and 8-8 against the Top 200. UCF is just 3-6 on the road and has a very unimpressive non-conference SOS (185). Other than a neutral court win over Connecticut in November, UCF has beaten Memphis and Marshall at home. It may very well take a closing sweep (UTEP, at Memphis, UAB) to stay in the at-large picture.
  • Southern Mississippi (20-6 | 9-4) | RPI: 16 | SOS: 50 | – The Golden Eagles have suffered two bad losses in a row (UTEP and Houston). Combine those with an earlier loss to UAB, and USM’s profile is reeling a bit. The Golden Eagles are 3-2 vs. the Top 50 and 9-3 vs. the Top 100, but only one of those wins is against a projected NCAA team outside the conference (Colorado St). Four are against New Mexico State (2) and UCF (2). USM does have a win over South Florida. While there are plenty of good points on the Eagles’ resume, USM is certainly closer to the bubble than Should Be In at this point. Rice, SMU, and Memphis close out USM’s regular-season slate. A loss to anyone but the Tigers would be damaging, especially because it would a bad loss at home.
MISSOURI VALLEY
Locks: Wichita State | Should Be In: Creighton | Bubble: None
  • Right now the Missouri Valley looks to be a two-bid league with Creighton and Wichita State firmly in the Field of 68. Arch Madness is always unpredictable, so a third bid is certainly possible.
MOUNTAIN WEST
Locks: UNLV | Should Be In: San Diego State, New Mexico | Bubble: Colorado State
  • Colorado State (16-9 | 6-5) | RPI: 24 | SOS: 9 | – Back-to-back wins over Wyoming and New Mexico have re-energized the Rams’ hopes. CSU is 7-8 vs. Top 100 teams although just 2-4 vs. the Top 50. The Rams have wins over San Diego State and New Mexico within the league. Outside the MTW, CSU’s best wins are Colorado and Denver – neither of which will move the Rams into the NCAAs. While the Rams’ RPI power numbers are solid, they are somewhat deceiving. The closing stretch will prove decisive. Up next, CSU travels to San Diego State and then hosts UNLV. A split would be okay, but two losses could leave the Rams light on quality wins. A 2-8 mark in road games won’t help CSU if it’s a close call.
PAC-12
Locks: None | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington
  • Arizona (20-9 | 11-5) | RPI: 70 | SOS: 101 | – Arizona has won 6 of 7 games and remains in the hunt despite some very questionable power numbers (RPI and SOS). Other than a win at California, the Wildcats have no wins over projected at-large teams right now. UA was swept by Washington. If there’s a plus, it’s a 6-8 mark vs. Top 100 teams, but again most of those are not NCAA teams right now. The Wildcats are 7-4 on the road, which is a bonus. Arizona closes with UCLA and Arizona State. The Wildcats need to win both heading into the Pac-12 tournament.
  • California (23-6 | 13-3) | RPI: 36 | SOS: 96 | – If Cal can manage to win an outright Pac-12 title, it could be hard to deny the Bears an NCAA bid. While Cal is 7-4 vs. Top 100 teams, they are 0-3 in the Top 50, largely because the Bears are the only Pac-12 team in that category. Overall, Cal has won 6 of 8 games. Blemishes are losses at Oregon State and Washington State. Two road trips remain (Colorado, Stanford). Winning both might be enough to slide Cal into the Should Be In category. But nothing is a sure thing.
  • Oregon (19-8 | 10-5) | RPI: 51 | SOS: 76 | – A victory at Nebraska is all the Ducks have outside of conference play, and it’s hard to think that wins over Washington and Arizona will be enough for the Ducks, even though the win was at Arizona. Overall, the Ducks are just 4-7 against the Top 100. At the same time, the bubble overall remains weak. What Oregon can’t afford is a bad loss, and that’s why the closing stretch is potentially dangerous. The Ducks close with Oregon State, Colorado, and Utah. None of those will help Oregon much, but a loss would certainly hurt.
  • Washington (19-8 | 12-3) | RPI: 55 | SOS: 74 | – The Huskies have won 8 of 9 games and 10 of 12; that’s the good news. The troubling news is that none of those wins were over a Top 50 RPI opponent. Washington is just 4-8 against the Top 100, meaning all but four wins are against teams ranked 101 or below in the RPI. The Huskies have been just an average road team (4-4) so it’s interesting that UW closes with three straight away from home. It could be make or break time for the Huskies – especially since all three road tilts (Wash St., USC, UCLA) could be bad losses. Washington’s best bet is to remain tied with Cal at the top of the Pac-12.
SEC
Locks: Kentucky | Should Be In: Florida, Vanderbilt | Bubble: Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State
  • Alabama (18-9 | 7-6) | RPI: 29 | SOS: 15 | – Alabama is redefining itself following some team turmoil and suspensions. Back-to-back wins over Tennessee and Arkansas will help, but won’t necessarily prove the Tide are an NCAA team. Although just 2-5 vs. the Top 50, Alabama is 9-8 vs. the Top 100. Non-conference wins include Wichita State and Purdue. How much the committee will values those wins given that they came with a different team make-up remains to be seen. Up next is a key home game with Mississippi State. It could be ‘Bama’s final chance to beat an NCAA-level team before the SEC tournament. They close with Auburn and Ole Miss.
  • LSU (17-10 | 7-6) | RPI: 63 | SOS: 59 | – The Tigers have won four straight to move back into the at-large picture. Quality wins include Marquette, Alabama, and Mississippi State at home. A 4-6 road mark is somewhat concerning, as is a No. 202 non-conference schedule. Overall, LSU is 2-5 vs. Top 50 teams and just 5-8 vs. the Top 100. With games left against Ole Miss, Tennessee and Auburn, its conceivable that LSU could close the regular season on a seven-game winning streak. It might take that kind of effort to be in the hunt heading into the SEC tournament.
  • Mississippi State (19-9 | 6-7) | RPI: 60 | SOS: 67 | – A four-game slide has certainly put the Bulldogs in a slippery situation. MSU is now sub-500 in SEC play and 2-5 on the road. On the plus side, MSU is 3-3 vs. Top 50 teams and 7-7 against the Top 100. A win at Vanderbilt is particularly noteworthy. The Bulldogs also have non-conference wins over West Virginia and Arizona. Up next is a big trip to Alabama, followed by games with South Carolina and Arkansas. There’s no reason why MSU shouldnt’ be an NCAA team. But a late slip has put some added pressure on the Bulldogs. Losing two of its final three would be concerning.
WEST COAST
Locks: None | Should Be In: St. Mary’s, Gonzaga | Bubble: BYU
  • BYU (21-7 | 11-4) | RPI: 46 | SOS: 91 | – After a loss at Gonzaga Thursday, the Cougars are 1-5 vs. Top 50 teams. An earlier home win over the ‘Zags is BYU’s only NCAA-level win right now, although Nevada, Oregon, and Weber State could reach the Field of 68. Overall, BYU is 5-5 vs. the Top 100. The only really bad loss is at Utah State. With the Cougars being swept by St. Mary’s, it could be important for BYU to reach the WCC title game. That means they will have beaten Gonzaga (again) or St. Mary’s to earn a second Top 50 win. Up next is Portland.
BEST OF THE REST
Locks: None | Should Be In: Murray State | Bubble: Harvard, Iona, Long Beach State, Middle Tennessee State, Nevada, Oral Roberts, VCU
  • Harvard (22-3 | 9-1) | RPI: 38 | SOS: 193 | – Will early wins over Florida State, St. Joseph’s and Central Florida be enough if Harvard loses the regular-season Ivy League crown? That’s a question the Crimson hope doesn’t need answering.
  • Iona (23-6 | 14-3) | RPI: 41 | SOS: 138 | – Beating Nevada in the BracketBusters event helps the Gaels’ profile, along with a win over St. Joseph’s. That said, Iona is 0-1 vs. against the Top 50, a loss to Purdue in Puerto Rico. A 6-3 mark vs. the Top 100 in decent but none are against guaranteed NCAA teams. Losses to Siena and Hofstra – both sub 200 teams – is somewhat costly given the lack of high-level wins.
  • Long Beach State (18-7 | 13-0) | RPI: 34 | SOS: 97 | – When the Selection Committee asks teams to challenge themselves in non-conference play, it speaks volumes that Long Beach has the No. 1 non-conference SOS. During that stretch, the 49ers won at Pittsburgh and Xavier. LBSU’s only so-so loss is a two-point defeat at Montana. LBSU’s remaining losses are to Top 50 RPI teams. If there’s a concern, it’s a two-point BracketBusters’ loss at Creighton. On the surface, that’s another “good loss.” But how many such losses are okay? With Xavier and Pitt struggling, LBSU is left with an 0-6 mark vs. Top 50 teams and a 2-7 mark vs. the Top 100. An at-large bid is by no means guaranteed.
  • Middle Tennesse State (24-4 | 14-1) | RPI: 43 | SOS: 173 | – The Blue Raiders are in complete control of the Sun Belt and have wins over Ole Miss, Belmont, and Akron outside the league. They also beat UCLA in November. Will that be enough if MTSU fails to win an automatic bid? MTSU’s only losses are at Vanderbilt, Belmont (2 OT), at UAB, and at Denver. If the Blue Raiders can make it through the Sun Belt with only one loss, a defeat in the championship game would certainly keep them in the mix for an at-large bid.
  • Nevada (20-5 | 10-1) | RPI: 56 | SOS: 150 | – Nevada will keep rooting for Washington to win the Pac-12 as the Wolfpack’s win over the Huskies is their only potential NCAA-level win at this point. Nevada lost a competitive BracketBusters game at Iona, but that could be a missed chance that costs the Wolfpack. Overall, Nevada is 0-3 vs. Top 50 teams and just 3-3 vs. the Top 100. With 12 wins over teams ranked 200-plus in the RPI, an at-large case is somewhat suspect. If Nevada wins out and loses in the WAC title game, the Wolfpack will be discussed. It’s hard to know if that discussion would generate an at-large bid.
  • Oral Roberts (25-5 | 16-1) | RPI: 45 | SOS: 172 | – ORU has a win at Xavier along with a victory over Missouri State outside the Summit League. Considering the XU victory came against a post-brawl Xavier squad without its best players, there is some question as to how much weight that victory will hold. Only the loss to UT-Arlington is questionnable (No. 184). Other losses are to Gonzaga, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and South Dakota State on the road. When you consider that 15 of ORU’s 25 wins are against teams ranked 200 or higher in the RPI, the margin for error is pretty small. ORU beat Akron in the BracketBusters game, but it’s unclear how much that victory will help (Akron did beat Mississippi State).
  • VCU (24-6 | 14-3) | RPI: 68 | SOS: 199 | – The Rams have moved into the at-large picture but still have work to do. In some ways, VCU has been helped by South Florida’s surge. It’s the Rams’ lone Top 50 win. Because the Colonial is down a bit, the league hasn’t provided the same chances for quality wins. VCU is just 3-4 vs. Top 100 teams and has 13 wins over teams ranked 200 or higher in the RPI. Other notable wins are at Akron (OT) and over Northern Iowa. A closing win over George Mason would keep VCU in the hunt, but it will still take a run to the CAA title game for serious consideration. VCU lost games to Alabama and Seton Hall and it’s only matchup with Drexel.

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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Junfu Han/USA TODAY NETWORK
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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.

Miller scores 23, No. 10 Maryland tops No. 13 Michigan 72-64

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Diamond Miller scored 23 points, and No. 10 Maryland closed the first quarter with a 13-2 run and led the rest of the way in a 72-64 victory over No. 13 Michigan on Thursday night.

Abby Meyers contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (17-4, 8-2), who won for the 10th time in 11 games. Lavender Briggs scored 14 points and Shyanne Sellers added 13.

Maryland gained a measure of revenge after losing twice to Michigan last season – including a 20-point rout in College Park.

Leigha Brown led the Wolverines with 16 points.

Michigan (16-5, 6-4) led 13-9 in the first quarter before a three-point play by Miller started Maryland’s big run. Briggs and Faith Masonius made 3-pointers during that stretch.

The Terps pushed the lead to 16 in the third quarter before the Wolverines were able to chip away. Miller sat for a bit with four fouls, and Michigan cut the lead to seven in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines still wasted too many possessions with turnovers to mount much of a comeback.

Michigan ended up with 24 turnovers, and Maryland had a 25-5 advantage in points off turnovers.

Miller fouled out with 2:19 remaining, but even after those two free throws, the Terps led 65-57 and had little trouble holding on.

Michigan lost for the second time in four days against a top-10 opponent. No. 6 Indiana beat the Wolverines 92-83 on Monday.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: Whether it was against Maryland’s press or in their half-court offense, the Wolverines turned the ball over too much to score consistently. This was a lower-scoring game than the loss to Indiana, but the margin ended up being similar.

Maryland: While Miller clearly led the way, the Terps had plenty of offensive contributors. They also held Michigan to 13 points below its season average entering the game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Wolverines have appeared in 48 straight AP polls, and although a two-loss week could certainly drop them, the quality of their opponents could save them from a substantial plunge.

Maryland is tied for 10th with an Iowa team that beat No. 2 Ohio State on Monday night. Now the Terps can boast an impressive victory of their own.

UP NEXT

Michigan: The Wolverines play their third game of the week when they visit Minnesota on Sunday.

Maryland: The Terps host Penn State on Monday night.

 

Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.

UP NEXT

Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.