It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XIIIPosted by jbaumgartner on March 19th, 2013
Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.
Five Things I Loved This Week
I LOVED… Wisconsin senior Ryan Evans. One of the best things about conference tournament week is that you suddenly get a much larger dose of all the guys who you’ve seen for a just few highlights, or maybe a couple of prime time games. And while I was ready to stamp Wisconsin with the “lucky to make it to second weekend” label, I couldn’t help but find myself impressed with the Badgers’ discipline and the savvy, fundamentals-based game that Evans displayed during UW’s impressive run in Chicago. Plus, you can’t help but love the flat top.
I LOVED… Jim Larranaga completing an incredible ACC turnaround. Winning both the regular season and conference tournament titles is a truly great accomplishment, and it seems like so often that we see teams have a great start to conference play and then flare out as we get into the tough March games that really make or break you. Though I still think the Hurricanes are vulnerable, with Shane Larkin leading the way, Miami is definitely capable of a big run, too.
I LOVED… Tournament Week. I’m embarrassed to guess how many hours I spent in front of the TV last week, but it was definitely justified. The Big Ten tourney alone was enough, but additional quality finals in the Big 12, ACC and Big East, among others, made this a vintage Couch Potato weekend.
I LOVED… how Greg Anthony has somehow gotten himself into every other college basketball TV commercial.
I LOVED… how much Ohio State has grown as a unit this season. The Buckeyes have played a brutal schedule and really seemed to come up short at the end of games consistently to start the season. But they’ve tightened things up during the most important stretch and are going to be a dang tough out in the Tournament because of their ability to play defense at an elite level every night. It’ll be hard to bet against them.
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED… that I still have to wait a whole two days to open my late Christmas present – Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith analyzing teams and conferences that they know little about, but with the utmost confidence and certainty and in a fashion that is nothing short of hilarious. What do we have to look forward to this season – Chuck and Jim Boeheim going head-to-head? Kenny and Charles reiterating for the 20th time that they can dribble through any zone defense? Ahhhh, the possibilities are endless.
I HATED… Ryan Evans’ yips at the free throw stripe, which have led the Wisconsin forward to resort to taking an actual jump shot from several feet behind the line. He might make a few more in the short term, but it’s not an actual fix and it could be a HUGE liability during March’s inevitable close finishes (see the end of the Ohio State game on Sunday).
I HATED… how annoying Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson was this weekend. Lots of trash talk and on-court gestures for a team with a pretty average resume until their SEC Tournament run. Just a thought here, Marshall – your 20 PPG come on substantially more shots than any of your teammates get, and of those hoists you make 35.7% of your threes and 38.5% of all field goal attempts. So thankfully for us all, that probably spells an early exit and limited TV time next week.
I HATED… Oregon getting a #12 seed. Is that a joke? Not only did they beat UNLV on the road in the non-conference season, knock off Arizona once and UCLA twice, go 26-8 and win the Pac-12 Tournament, but they did it while losing starting guard Dominic Artis for an extended period. A #12 seed? Arizona got a #6 seed! While we’re on the subject, how is UNLV a #5 seed with nine losses and UNC (who beat the Rebels) a #8, along with the Ducks (eight losses) as a #12? Mystifying. But as much as I hated that, I absolutely loved the vindication that came with John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats getting thumbed out of the Big Dance. Perhaps it’s an even tradeoff…
I HATED… that the kicker to an incredible Big Ten season was a grind-it-out, low-scoring, rather dull affair between Ohio State and Wisconsin that was much more reminiscent of yesteryear’s quality rather than the exciting action we’ve seen from the conference all season (Wisconsin didn’t even make a field goal in the last seven minutes.). Still, it was quite an impressive display from this group of teams for the past three months, and it’d be hard to find many “experts” who wouldn’t have several of those schools on their short list to make the Final Four.