It was yet another wild Saturday in college basketball, complete with crazy comebacks, top ten upsets and a career-high from the best defender on Kansas.
Here is everything you need to know from a fun day of college hoops.
1. LOUISVILLE IS A TOTAL MESS RIGHT NOW
No. 5 Louisville eliminated any and all chance that they might end up being a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday this week. After suffering what we all thought was going to be their worst loss of the season on Wednesday, losing at Georgia Tech, the Cardinals came out on Saturday and … made five first half field goals at Clemson?
Louisville trailed 31-14 at the break. They shot 15.6 percent in the first half. They were down by as many as 21 points to a team that entered the afternoon 12-12 on the season. Both Josh Pastner and Brad Brownell entered this week on the hot seat, and if they do keep their jobs this season, one of the reasons why will be that they beat Louisville this year. Wouldn’t that be ironic.
The crux of the issue seems to be Jordan Nwora, who was benched at the start of Saturday’s game after being benched down the stretch on Wednesday. He did not score his first points until late in the second half, when the game was already out of reach, and is now 2-for-11 from the floor and 1-for-9 from three in the last two games. He’s scored a total of seven points during that stretch.
So much for that All-American season.
“I don’t have all the answers right now,” head coach Chris Mack. “I just don’t. It’s my job. We’ll watch film. I’m going to have a lot of one-on-one conversations, and we’ll figure out a way to be better against Syracuse on Wednesday.
“It looks like we’re not playing for anything. Really frustrating. But it’s my job to figure it out, and I’ve failed so far.”
The fact of the matter is that this is not a talent issue for Louisville. It’s not a coaching problem, it’s not a problem with their scheme, or their personnel, or anything of the sort. The Cardinals has all the pieces that they need to get this thing right. I’m not ready to sell on them just yet.
2. SETON HALL IS, TOO
The only team in the country that had a worse Saturday that Louisville was No. 10 Seton Hall. The Pirates lost their second straight game on Saturday, falling behind by 25 points in the first half at Providence before rallying to cut the lead to two in a 74-71 loss.
Seton Hall lost at home to Creighton on Wednesday — a game where they gave up 87 points — and pulled the same stunt at home against Xavier just two weeks ago, falling behind by 22 points in the first half before rallying and making the final score respectable.
The Pirates are still sitting in first place in the Big East standings, but they have to play at Marquette and Creighton and still host Butler and Villanova before the Big East tournament starts. A league title is certainly a possibility, but given how tough their remaining schedule is, I’m not sure they are even the odds on favorite.
That’s what makes this stretch so baffling.
Seton Hall is playing for a regular season title and three times in five games they aren’t even close to ready to play?
“We have some guys with bad attitudes right now to be perfectly honest with you,” Kevin Willard said in his postgame radio interview. “When you have a bad attitude and you’re pouting and complaining that you’re not playing enough time yet your team is 10-2, you have issues.
“It’s amazing to me that, when we lost to Xavier I saw a team that bounced back and was hungry to go to Georgetown and get it. When we lost to Creighton the other day and we played terrible (in practice), and I’m sitting in practice and I’m thinking, I’ve got a guy moody that doesn’t want to go through practice who hardly played. I have another guy who played 25 minutes that can’t make a shot and didn’ have a rebound. I have another guy that got embarrassed defensively.
“I will make sure of it, come in 20 minutes that there will be a very large correction . . . The bench is going to get shortened. Either you’re going to show up and play or you’re not. I’m really disappointed in a few guys who, either they regain their focus or I’ll just play six.”
Willard did not name the grumpy-gus, but it’s worth noting: Myles Cale was a starter last year and played just seven minutes against Providence. Ike Obiagu played just five. Anthony Nelson played just two. Draw your own conclusions.
3. BAYLOR IS THE BEST BECAUSE THEY CAN LOSE A KEY PIECE AND STILL ROLL
MaCio Teague is Baylor’s second-leading scorer at 14.4 points. He’s one of their better three-point shooters and the best guy on the roster not named Jared Butler at creating his own shot. He did not play on Saturday against the second-best defensive team in the country in West Virginia, and it did not matter.
No. 1 Baylor rolled to their 22nd consecutive win, knocking off the No. 14 Mountaineers, 70-59, in a game that they led by 28 points in the first half.
And that, more or less, sums up everything that you need to know about this Baylor team. They are good enough, and balanced enough, that they can lose their second-leading scorer, a critical piece to their offense, and not even miss a beat against one of the nation’s very best teams.
4. THERE’S NO REASON TO DOUBT MARYLAND ANYMORE
If you are still among the doubters that does not believe that Maryland is capable of getting to a Final Four and winning a national title, what else do the Terrapins need to prove?
On Saturday, Maryland went into the Breslin Center and knocked off Michigan State, 67-60. They led by as many as 15 points in the first half and used a 14-0 run over the course of the final three minutes of the game to escape with a win. They are now 11-3 in the Big Ten, a game in front of Penn State and three games in front of the rest of the field in first place in the conference, and sitting on an eight-game winning streak. During that streak, they have won at Illinois, at Indiana and, on Saturday, at Michigan State.
Jalen Smith has played like an All-American over the course of the last six weeks. Aaron Wiggins is starting to re-discover his shooting stroke. Darryl Morsell has done all of the little things. Most importantly, Anthony Cowan has continued to play the role of the closer. He scored the final 11 points for Maryland on Saturday, including banging home three threes in the final two minutes.
So tell me.
If you are still one of the people that doubts Maryland, why?
And short of actually getting to Atlanta, what can they do to prove it to you?
5. YOU’RE GONNA HAVE TO GUARD MARCUS GARRETT
Entering Saturday, Marcus Garrett hadn’t made a three since January 14th. He had shot just a single three in the month of February. In his last 14 games, he was 3-for-17 from three, combined.
On Saturday, Oklahoma decided to defend No. 3 Kansas by using whoever was “guarding” Garrett to double-team Udoka Azubuike.
Garrett responded by scoring a career-high 24 points, making six threes and handing out seven assists. The Jayhawks rolled, 87-70.
6. PATRICK EWING SHOULD BE THE BIG EAST COACH OF THE YEAR
I don’t think that there is any way that Ewing will win the National Coach of the Year award because one of Scott Drew, Brian Dutcher or Anthony Grant has that covered.
He should, however, win the award for Big East Coach of the Year. Think about everything that this Georgetown program has gone through this season. They had two players transfer out of the program in December, a decision that led to NBC Sports breaking the news that one of those two players had accusations of assault and harassment hanging over his head, and that two more members of the team — both of whom would later leave the program — were involved as well.
That’s when the injuries started. Mac McClung has missed five games — including Saturday’s visit to DePaul — with a lingering foot issue. Omer Yurtseven did not play on Saturday, either, meaning that the Hoyas were down to just five scholarship players.
And they went into Indianapolis and knocked off No. 19 Butler, giving them an elite win and putting them in a position where they have a bit of room to spare when it comes to getting to the NCAA tournament.
It makes no sense.
And yet, here we are.
7. TEXAS HAS QUIT ON SHAKA SMART.
The Longhorns took on Iowa State in Ames on Saturday and got absolutely humiliated, 81-52, in a game that more or less locked Texas out of the NCAA tournament.
As one longtime Big 12 beat writer put it, “that was the worst Big 12 performance I’ve seen since a winless TCU team.”
8. AUBURN LOST WITHOUT ISAAC OKORO
The Tigers went into Missouri and got dropped, 85-73, playing without Isaac Okoro, who is their best player.
He was out with a hamstring injury that shouldn’t keep him out of the lineup for too long.
9. ILLINOIS LOST WITHOUT AYO DOSUNMU
The Illini lost at Rutgers, which is, apparently, the most difficult place in the country to play. Dosunmu did not play after hurting his knee against Michigan State.
10. FLORIDA STATE WON WITHOUT DEVIN VASSELL
The Seminoles needed a late rally to do it, but they held off Syracuse, 80-77. Devin Vassell didn’t play, and we don’t really know why.