With the unveiling of the NCAA tournament bracket there were many surprises from a seeding standpoint, but that wasn’t the case in regards to three of the four one-seeds. Florida, Arizona and Wichita State were expected to land on the top line, and that proved to be the case.
That left one spot, with that final one-seed being one of the focuses of conference championship week. The recipient of that final one-seed was Virginia, winners of the ACC regular-season and tournament titles. Tony Bennett’s team features a tough pack-line man-to-man defense and a balanced offensive attack led by guards Malcolm Brogdon and Joe Harris.
The question: did the selection committee get this choice right?
The Cavaliers won four games against teams currently in the Top 50 of the RPI according to rpiforecast.com, with all four of those wins coming in conference play. Among Virginia’s non-conference games (non-conference SOS of 38) their best win came against SMU (RPI: 53), with VCU, Wisconsin, Green Bay and Tennessee all handing the Cavaliers defeats.
Was Virginia the beneficiary of their run through the ACC? That certainly looks to be the case upon inspection of their non-conference resume. But if it’s to be argued that Virginia’s designation as a one-seed is up for debate, there’s also the need to take a look at the other possible choices.
The committee handed two-seeds to Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan and Villanova, with the Jayhawks’ brutal non-conference slate and their winning of the Big 12 regular season title keeping them in the one-seed discussion up until their loss to No. 16 Iowa State in the Big 12 semis. Two things likely kept Kansas out of the equation: their nine losses, and more importantly the health of center Joel Embiid.
Villanova, which lost four games on the season (two to Creighton), won six games (two non-conference) against RPI Top 50 teams per rpiforecast.com with their best victory coming against Kansas in late November. But losing to Seton Hall in the Big East quarters, regardless of the fact that the Pirates needed a Sterling Gibbs shot at the buzzer to win, was not a good final impression for the Wildcats to leave on the selection committee.
Michigan, although the Wolverines won the Big Ten regular season title outright, was like done in by their non-conference accomplishments. Of Michigan’s ten wins against teams in the Top 50 of the RPI just one came in non-conference play, with the Wolverines beating Stanford. Michigan certainly challenged itself with games against Iowa State, Arizona and Duke, but they came up empty in those games.
As for Wisconsin, that 1-5 stretch early in Big Ten play and a Big Ten semifinal loss to Michigan State likely ended their hopes because they’ve got wins over Virginia, Florida and Saint Louis on their non-conference resume. Were there any other options? Louisville, which received a four-seed (terribly under seeded), has been playing like a one-seed of late but their non-conference resume (and a non-conference SOS of 149) lacks muscle with Southern Miss being their best result.
And there’s another possible wild card: Michigan State. The Spartans finished a spot below the Cardinals on the NCAA’s official seed list, but they’ve got the interesting argument of not being at full strength for most of their losses due to injury. Should that be enough for Tom Izzo’s team to land on the one line? That’s debatable, because although there’s no denying the impact of injuries that’s something most teams are forced to navigate in some fashion. And it should be noted that the Spartans won six games against Top 50 opponents, with three coming outside of Big Ten play.
Whether or not Virginia should have received a one-seed is something that can be debated, with detractors likely pointing to their non-conference resume as the reason why the Cavaliers shouldn’t be on the top line. But it’s clear that the committee placed more emphasis on their accomplishments against ACC opposition, and it isn’t as if another team can argue that they were legitimately jobbed either.
After losing to Penn on Tuesday night, snapping a streak of 25 consecutive wins against Big 5 opponents, Villanova — winners of two of the last three national titles — fell to 8-3 on the season with a trip to Phog Allen Fieldhouse coming up on Saturday.
Penn was the second mid-major opponent that Villanova has lost to this season. They fell at home against Furman in overtime. That came just days after they were absolutely humiliated by Michigan in a national title game rematch as they unveiled the newly-renovated Finneran Pavilion.
And while there is plenty to discuss about how and why the Wildcats are now in the midst of what could end up being their worst season since missing the 2012 NCAA tournament, the major talking point for this team has become Jahvon Quinerly. Through the first month of the season, the No. 29 prospect in the Class of 2018 has been easily the most ineffective freshman ranked in the top 30 of the class that is healthy and in school. Ranked between potential lottery picks Kevin Porter Jr. and Luguentz Dort, according to 247 Sports, Quinerly has taken three DNP-CDs through 11 games. The only reason he’s in the box score as logging one minutes in the loss to Penn is because Collin Gillespie fouled out with six seconds left; Quinerly didn’t even play the entirety of the last six seconds. He played two minutes against La Salle. He played three minutes against Oklahoma State. He hasn’t played more than eight minutes in a game that didn’t come against totally overmatched competition.
As you can imagine, it’s been frustrating.
After the loss to Penn, Quinerly hopped on Instagram and posted on his story a black screen with white lettering that read “Was my 2nd choice for a reason;” if you recall, he was initially committed to Arizona before the FBI investigation into corruption in college hoops uncovered information that former Arizona assistant Book Richardson may have funneled as much as $20,000 to Quinerly’s family. Quinerly quickly deleted the post before attempting to make it seem as if his account had been hacked. A friend of his from New Jersey, LSU freshman Naz Reid, even tweeted that Quinerly had been hacked.
Turns out, to the surprise of absolutely no one, Quinerly was not hacked. He just was frustrated about the way the start of his Villanova career has gone and said something on social media that he shouldn’t have said. Villanova head coach Jay Wright said that this was just “the normal frustration of a young kid that’s used to playing a lot, and not playing” and that Quinerly had already apologized to the team. He issued a statement on Thursday on his twitter account apologizing as well.
The story of a frustrated freshman popping off on Instagram isn’t all that interesting to me. Neither is the speculation that this could lead to Quinerly transferring out of the program; I don’t see it happening during the season, and if it happens in the offseason we can talk about it then and there.
What’s more interesting to me is the why: Why has Quinerly been limited to 69 minutes on the season? Why hasn’t he earned Jay Wright’s trust? Why has Wright opted to go with Gillespie who, as one scout put it to me earlier this year, is “playing above his level”?
It starts with the defensive side of the ball.
What Villanova wants to do defensively is not easy for freshmen to pick up. They’re not strictly a man-to-man team, but when they play man, they rarely do it without a lot of switching. They’ll mix in some zone and some 1-2-2 pressure as well, and that often results in players being forced into guarding mismatches.
I cannot speak to what happens in practice. The word coming out of the program is that Quinerly “worked hard” and “continues to work” and is “a great teammate”, which is exactly what you would expect to hear a head coach say about his five-star freshman.
I can, however, see what happens when Quinerly is on the floor during games. I watched every minute that he has played this season, and this is what I am seeing.
The biggest reason that Quinerly has been forced to the bench is that he has had some real issues defensively.
He’s not identifying who he is supposed to be guarding in transition. He’s falling asleep when he is supposed to be boxing out. He simply isn’t strong or good enough as an individual defender to handle the assignments he’s been given — in the last clip you see him getting easily beaten off the dribble. To his credit, it doesn’t appear to be an effort issue as much as a ‘he’s not quite ready’ issue.
The biggest cause for alarm here is the third clip below.
This isn’t a complicated action that Michigan is running, as Zavier Simpson cuts between Jordan Poole and Isaiah Livers right before Livers sets a ball-screen for Poole:
When Livers sets the screen, Quinerly should switch onto the bigger defender as Saddiq Bey, another freshman, switches onto Poole. But Quinerly gets confused and goes to guard Simpson, leaving Livers a free run to the rim:
Joe Cremo is forced to rotate over to help, and actually forces a miss at the rim, but Quinerly falls asleep, doesn’t box out Charles Matthews and watches as the Michigan star throws down a monster dunk:
You can see the entire play below:
Quinerly was never going to come into the program and be the best on-ball defender on the roster. We knew that. The problem is simply that he has not been good enough offensively to justify putting him on the floor when he’s a defensive liability. Trae Young couldn’t guard a mailbox last season, but Oklahoma had to have him on the floor because of how good he made them offensively. Ashton Hagans has been a mess offensively through the first month of the season, but Kentucky has been giving him Quade Green’s minutes because he is just so good on the defensive side of the ball.
He has all of these issues defensively, and on the season he is averaging just 2.4 points with eight assists to 11 turnovers while shooting 26.9 percent from the floor and 17.6 percent from three. Yes, some of that is a result of the fact that he’s been strapped to the bench and unable to develop any kind of rhythm or confidence. I get that. But he also hasn’t quite learned, or bought into, the principles and concepts that Jay Wright drills his players on.
I’ve written long and detailed stories on Villanova’s offense twice in the last year, but the tl;dr version is this: Villanova doesn’t run plays, they teach concepts and reads and develop the kids in their program as basketball players that can function in any environment more than turning them into robots that run set after set after set. It’s takes every freshman time to learn these things. There’s a reason that Villanova has so many redshirts.
Here’s an example: One of the core principles of Villanova’s offense is the jump-stop. It sounds simple, but it’s true. Wright wants his guys to get into the paint, come to a jump-stop and then see what opens up. Maybe they’ll have a layup. Maybe they’ll have room to get a floater off. Maybe they pivot a couple of times before finding an open shooter. Maybe those pivots will create enough space for a turnaround jumper. Half Court Hoops put together an entire video package on this last year.
Quinerly, far too often, has his drives to the paint end like this:
I think Quinerly is going to be fine.
The talent is there. He was never going to be a one-and-done point guard — I’m not sure he is an NBA player, period — but he is good enough to be a really good guard at the college level. He’s also not the only freshman struggling to acclimate on this Villanova roster. Cole Swider, a top 40 recruit, is averaging less than 12 minutes. Brandon Slater, a top 75 prospect, has played just 26 minutes in six games.
But Quinerly is the five-star with all the hype.
He’s Jelly-Fam. He’s the one that Book Richardson tried to buy, according to the FBI.
That brings with it expectation, and when you fail to live up to that expectations, people talk, especially if your failure is spotlighted by a fake Instagram hack.
Quinerly is in a tough spot. You can’t hide a point guard offensively. When you make a mistake with the ball in your hands, everyone knows it. If Swider makes a mistake off the ball, no one outside of the coaching staff notices. And unlike Swider, Quinerly doesn’t have physical tools that can help make up for the times the ends up out of position defensively.
He’ll get there soon enough, but until he’s good enough offensively to make himself a net-positive, or until he figures out what he’s doing defensively, it’s going to be a struggle to take minutes from Gillispie, a veteran that Wright trusts.
Miami freshman Deng Gak done for season with knee injury
Wednesday night in college basketball saw a slow one thanks to finals weeks and winter breaks. Only two ranked teams played and a lot of teams had buy games. But there were still some things to learn on the night — including perhaps the American’s best team early this season.
No. 24 Houston earns impressive comeback win over LSU
Houston stayed unbeaten while extending its home win streak to 22 games as they came back from double digits to knock off LSU for an 82-76 win.
The Cougars moved to 9-0 on the season thanks to a balanced effort as they won despite Corey Davis Jr. (eight points) battling foul trouble. Galen Robinson Jr. paced Houston with 18 points while Armoni Brooks and Cedrick Alley Jr. finished with 13 points each. Houston’s defense also did a great job of limiting LSU star guard Tremont Waters to 10 points on 3-for-13 shooting as he couldn’t get it going.
At this point in the season, you could argue that the Cougars are the best team in the American. Fresh off of last season’s NCAA tournament appearance, Houston is unbeaten with wins over Oregon, on the road at Oklahoma State, and now a comeback win over LSU. None of those three wins are against elite opponents, but they’re the type of wins Houston needed to give itself a more likely chance at an at-large bid.
Now, as long as Houston doesn’t bottom-out in the American, they should be in contention for another NCAA appearance after an impressive start.
Louisville holds off Lipscomb
Although Wednesday didn’t have a lot of ranked teams playing, Louisville received a serious test when they hosted Atlantic Sun favorite Lipscomb. The Cardinals didn’t play their best game, but still managed to pull together a 72-68 win.
Jordan Nwora paced the Cardinals with a game-high 22 points while Dwayne Sutton (14 points, nine rebounds) and Malik Williams (10 points, 12 rebounds) were also productive in the win. While Louisville still needs more quality wins to make the NCAA tournament, this is the type of victory that could come in handy. Lipscomb could be a potentially dangerous mid-major team with solid computer numbers, so this is a decent win for the Cardinals.
Things get heated in Chicago
The end of a DePaul blowout win over Chicago State got interesting on Wednesday night. With the Blue Demons ahead by 40ish points, head coach Dave Leitao exchanged words with Delshon Strickland.
Benches somewhat cleared, both coaches were ejected, and the game ended in somewhat surreal fashion with both teams refusing a postgame handshake.
Things got a little heated after DePaul coach Dave Leitao & Chicago State guard Delshon Strickland exchange words.
LUBBOCK, Texas — Jarrett Culver scored 15 points, Tariq Owens had 14 points and eight rebounds and No. 11 Texas Tech ran out to a 43-point halftime lead in a 79-44 victory over Northwestern State on Wednesday night.
The Red Raiders (9-0) matched their best start since 2008-09. All of the wins have been by double digits, and they had a 10-point lead less than five minutes into this rout.
Coming off a six-day break for final exams, Texas Tech relied on a defense that ranks among the best in the country against the offensively challenged Demons (2-8).
C.J. Jones scored 11 points for Northwestern State, which shot 15 percent (4 of 27) in the first half and trailed 53-10 at halftime. The Demons warmed up a bit after halftime, outscoring the Red Raiders 34-26 while shooting 35 percent.
Matt Mooney made all three of his 3-pointers within the first six minutes and scored 11 points along with Deshawn Corprew. Mooney was 3 of 4 from long range as the Red Raiders matched a season high with 10 3s on 23 attempts.
Culver had six rebounds and five assists, and Davide Moretti led the Red Raiders with seven assists while scoring seven points.
Northwestern State had 14 of its 19 turnovers before halftime, and Texas Tech scored 17 points off turnovers in the first half.
Northwestern State: The Demons had two scoring droughts of six-plus minutes in the first half. One of the bright spots in the second half was freshman Dalin Williams, who grew up not too far north of Lubbock in the Texas Panhandle. He scored nine points.
Texas Tech: The first half was as well as the Red Raiders have played. But they sputtered some in the second half, a trend they will have to stop with a schedule that includes Duke in New York City as a tuneup for the rugged Big 12 season.
Northwestern State: After seven road games in their first 10, the Demons play Southern-Shreveport on Saturday in the first of three home games before the start of Southland Conference play.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders play a final game in their old home arena of Lubbock Municipal Coliseum on Saturday against Abilene Christian. It’s the second straight year of a “throwback” game. Texas Tech’s home from 1956-99 will shut down for good next summer.
San Diego State’s Jalen McDaniels sued for allegedly filming, sharing sex videos
San Diego State sophomore forward Jalen McDaniels has been sued in Washington civil court for allegedly filming a sexual act with a female high school classmate and sharing the video with friends.
The act allegedly occurred in 2016 while the two were seniors at Federal Way High School outside of Tacoma. A different women will also allegedly be filing a similar lawsuit against McDaniels next week using the same attorney.
According to a report from Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Federal Way police investigated the cases twice, once in 2016 and again in fall 2018, but only last month recommended two counts of voyeurism against McDaniels. The King County prosecutor declined to press charges, so the civil lawsuits appear to be the next step.
Filing attorney Joan Mell had her clients hold a news conference on Wednesday afternoon to announce the civil suit — naming McDaniels directly for the first time. Previous allegations in October and November only identified a star basketball player from Federal Way’s 2016 team, but not McDaniels directly.
The suit is asking for damages for severe emotional distress past and future.” According to Zeigler, it does not list specific monetary amounts.
“Jalen needs to figure out that women matter,” said Mell, the attorney for the two women. “It’s not about the money. If his paycheck to these women is 5 cents and he has to own the fact that it was wrong, good for him. Because that’s what needs to be heard. He needs to acknowledge that you cannot do that, and no other woman should be vulnerable or victimized by Jalen McDaniels.
“If he says he recognizes that’s wrong, he’s going to get the benefit of not dragging everybody through a long, extended process and the damages are going to be a whole lot less.”
San Diego State has released a statement saying that McDaniels will play on Wednesday night, even as McDaniels goes through an ugly case in public. The sophomore is an NBA Draft prospect as he’s putting up 14.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for the Aztecs.