ATB: Weekend Edition — A. Davis, Boeheim, Tu, Big East/SEC & Dunkdafied…Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2011
This Weekend’s Lede. Every Week a Playoff… Until It Isn’t. No matter your opinion on whether Oklahoma State or Alabama should have the right to play LSU for the BCS national championship next month, can we at least come to an agreement that college football’s tired meme of “every week a playoff” has once again been blown out of the water as farcical? Look, we all know that the NCAA Tournament system is far from perfect in terms of anointing the best team as the champion, but like every other major American sport, at least every team that has a reasonable claim to the crown gets a chance to prove its worth on the hardwood. The old saying goes, “in order to be the best, you have to beat the best,” but as this comical CFB playoff scenario shows, at least one deserving school will get no such chance to do that. On to basketball…
Your Watercooler Moment. Anthony Davis’ Game-Saving Block.
Kentucky vs. North Carolina. North Carolina vs. Kentucky. What else could it be? Saturday afternoon’s tilt in Lexington was one of those rare fulfilling games where the action on the floor not only lived up to the hype, but exceeded it. And the hype for this game was extraordinary, especially considering that it took place on the first Saturday in December rather than sometime deep in March. Our post-game takes on what we’d seen in the one-point Kentucky win are located here, but the long and short of it is this: Carolina should feel as if they were only a play away from winning a difficult road game that didn’t cater to its strengths (61% on threes, but only 33% on twos), while Kentucky should feel that its extremely young but talented team stood toe-to-toe with the other most talented team in America and didn’t blink. Both UNC and UK should be playing in New Orleans next Spring, and if we’re lucky they’ll tip off for the fourth time in just over 16 months with nothing less than the national championship on the line.
Five More Weekend Storylines.
- Big East Dominates SEC in Challenge. Coming into Friday, the SEC was tied with the Big East at 2-2 in this year’s Challenge. The Big East then won the next six games before dropping the final two Saturday evening to finish at 8-4. The most impressive wins over the weekend were Pittsburgh and Cincinnati’s road wins at Tennessee and Georgia, respectively(the Big East had four roadies), and as we noted in our commentary on Saturday, the Big East appears to be an eight- or nine-team NCAA Tournament conference, whereas the SEC seems to deserve roughly half that. Nothing too surprising here, just further confirmation that the Big East, along with the Big Ten, are the top two conferences in college basketball this season.
- Jim Boeheim’s Contrition. After Friday night’s Syracuse victory over Florida in the SEC/Big East Challenge, Jim Boeheim finally expressed what appeared to be actual contrition for his previous statements in support of former assistant Bernie Fine. As he read from his notes, he took an apologetic tone stark in contrast with his prior combativeness when questioned about the subject in recent weeks. Although we’ve said from the beginning that Boeheim is likely to be safe so long as he had no actual or potential knowledge of Fine’s alleged crimes, Friday night’s post-game had the scent of powers higher than he forcing this mea culpa.
- Marquette Makes a Statement in Madison. Buzz Williams’ team didn’t shoot the ball well on Saturday against Wisconsin, but it didn’t need to. His Golden Eagles earned a rare win at the Kohl Center by defending just as maniacally as the Badgers and out-toughing Wisconsin on the boards (+13, including eight more offensive rebounds) in running out to a big lead and holding off Bo Ryan’s team down the stretch. With the no-quit personas of Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder leading the way, Marquette appears once again ready to prove a craw in the saddle of every Big East team that plays them.
- Tu Holloway to the Rescue. Tu Holloway took over the last two minutes of the Purdue-Xavier game on Saturday, hitting three consecutive difficult threes to bring his team back from five points down to secure a good win. It was the stuff that you should expect from 1st team All-America caliber guards, and Holloway didn’t disappoint with the game on the line. Already twice this season, Holloway has taken over a key game in the clutch (vs. Vanderbilt was the other), and he’s doing his best to make everyone take notice even though he doesn’t play in the limelight of a power conference.
- Up/Down. Big ups this weekend to the following people, places, and things: Baylor (held Northwestern to 24% shooting), the MVC (good wins over Nebraska and UNLV), Illinois (now 8-0), and Louisville (hard-fought win over Vanderbilt). No ups for the Pac-12 (only one solid win all weekend), Notre Dame (can’t beat Maryland?), UNC‘s paralysis (should have fouled at the end of the UK game), and Butler (lost to Valparaiso at home – ugh).
Dunkdafied. This thing from Minnesota’s Rodney Williams is ridiculous.
Second place from the weekend goes to Memphis’ DJ Stephens, catching the off-the-board pass and throwing it down with authority.
While this dunk from Purdue’s Lewis Jackson is equally ridiculous, in an ‘ouch, we lost by three points?‘ sort of way.
- NPOY – Tu Holloway, Xavier. His line of 21/4/4 assts wasn’t amazing, but his three consecutive treys in the final two minutes to carry his team past the finish line against Purdue were.
- Joe Ragland, Wichita State. The Shockers’ guard bombed eight threes (on nine attempts) to go for 31/5/3 assts to take down UNLV a mere week after its huge upset over #1 UNC.
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky. MKG’s 17/11 led Kentucky’s second half push and he often appeared to be the best all-around player on the floor Saturday.
- Terrell Stoglin, Maryland. The sophomore guard went for 31/5/2 assts in giving Maryland its best win of the season over Notre Dame.
- Damian Lillard, Weber State. Not only did he hit the three to send the game to overtime, he also hit the game-winner in double-OT as part of his 41/8/4 assts/2 stls night.
- Peyton Siva, Louisville. The Cardinal point guard had 14/7/5 assts in addition to the game-winning layup to beat Vanderbilt in overtime Friday night.
- Royce White, Iowa State. White was a glimmer for the Cyclones with 22/13/3 assts/4 stls in an otherwise tough game against Michigan Saturday.
- Ryan Boatright, Connecticut. The freshman guard went for 23/5/6 assts/2 stls in UConn’s win over Arkansas as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge.
- Marcus Denmon, Missouri. A career-high 31 points as the Tigers moved to 7-0 on the season against Northwestern State.
- Herb Pope, Seton Hall. Pope blew up the Auburn front line for 23/12/3 blks/3 stls/2 assts in a dominant win over the Tigers.
- Meyers Leonard, Illinois. Illini big man faced up Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre for 21/6 in impressive win by his team over the Zags.
- Deonte Burton, Nevada. An under-the-radar win in overtime against Washington was led by 31/6/6 assts from the electric sophomore.
- Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State. Moultrie put up his fourth dub-dub of the season with 21/13 in a win against West Virginia’s bruising front line.
- Jamar Samuels, Kansas State. A big road win at Virginia Tech for the Wildcats Sunday was led by Samuels’ 17/14.
- Doug McDermott, Creighton. McDermott’s 24/12 helped the Bluejays get a key win over a power conference team, Nebraska, on Sunday.
- Chase Tapley, San Diego State. Tapley’s 25/5/3 stls allowed SDSU to get its second win over a ranked Pac-12 team this season (Cal and Arizona).