2018-19 RTC16: Week Fifteen

Posted by Walker Carey on March 4th, 2019

The final week of the regular season always presents a great deal of intrigue when it comes to crowning regular season conference champions. This year, races in the ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten and SEC are all still up in the air, and the action this week will determine which teams will finish atop each league. The ACC has #2 Virginia, #3 Duke, and #4 North Carolina fighting for the top spot. Marquette and Villanova are battling it out in the Big East. The Big 12 race consists of #7 Texas Tech and Kansas State trying to hold off #14 Kansas, as the Jayhawks look to take home a share of their 15th consecutive league title. The Big Ten will see #11 Purdue trying to survive road games at Minnesota and Northwestern to fend off #8 Michigan and #9 Michigan State. The fight for the SEC crown has #6 Kentucky looking to catch both #5 Tennessee and #9 LSU. It is going to be an incredibly intriguing week of college basketball because there is action each night that will play an important role in establishing which teams will become the top dog of their conference. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

2018-19 RTC16: Week Fourteen

Posted by Walker Carey on February 25th, 2019

It is never a good thing to have your season flash before your eyes because of a key injury, but it is especially troubling when the scare occurs during the stretch run. #3 Duke was presented with that possibility last Wednesday night when freshman phenom Zion Williamson exited the court less than a minute into its home rivalry showdown with #5 North Carolina. Suddenly, it did not matter all that much that the Tar Heels went on to dominate the Blue Devils throughout an 88-72 victory. What really mattered was Williamson’s prognosis — because while Duke has plenty of talent, it would be an incredibly tall task for it to reach Minneapolis without the services of the nation’s top player. Luckily for the Blue Devils, the high-flying freshman only suffered a sprained knee and he is expected back in action soon, even though he did not play in Saturday’s 75-65 win at Syracuse and has been ruled out of this Tuesday’s game at Virginia Tech. Duke showed over the weekend that, even without Williamson, it still has the necessary firepower available to beat a likely NCAA Tournament team on the road, so it would be unwise to write off the team’s chances in Blacksburg. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

2018-19 RTC16: Week Twelve

Posted by Walker Carey on February 11th, 2019

Throughout a majority of the conference season, it has felt like #12 Marquette and #13 Villanova were the only two Big East teams with a legitimate shot at the regular season title. As the league race hits its home stretch, that feeling has borne itself out. Even though the Golden Eagles had been tripped up by St. John’s earlier last week — their second loss to Chris Mullin’s squad this season — Marquette rode a 38-point performance from star guard Markus Howard to a thrilling 66-65 victory to cut Villanova’s lead to just one game in the Big East standings. The Wildcats will have an opportunity to avenge the defeat when they welcome Marquette to Philadelphia for the rematch on February 27. Wide-open conference races are always enjoyable, but this season’s Big East race has shown two-team races can be just as fine. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

2018-19 RTC 16: Week Eleven

Posted by Walker Carey on February 4th, 2019

The calendar has turned to February and several conference races have
heated up, the most intriguing of which might be the Big Ten, where a pair of surprising weekend results have changed the league standings. The action began Friday evening at Iowa when #5 Michigan was unable to overcome early foul trouble to big men Jon Teske and Isaiah Livers en route to a 74-59 defeat. While the Wolverines are still in very good shape at 20-2 overall and 9-2 in conference play, it should be noted that they have shown some vulnerability on the road with two straight losses. #9 Michigan State appeared likely to grab sole possession of first place in the league with a home win over spiraling Indiana on Saturday night, but the Hoosiers rode a strong three-point shooting night to an overtime upset victory. The result is even more befuddling when you consider that Archie Miller’s team was without star senior forward Juwan Morgan for the entire second half after leaving the game with a shoulder injury. Losses are bound to happen in conference play, but you have to think Michigan State is shaking its head about its brutal 8-of-22 performance from the free throw line. Those two upsets set the stage for #15 Purdue to join the Wolverines and Spartans atop the league standings if they were able to notch a home victory over Minnesota on Sunday afternoon. For a portion of the game, it appeared as if the Boilermakers were also going to fall victim to an upset. They trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half before putting together a 19-2 run to grab control to cruise to a 73-63 win and a share of the Big Ten lead. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

2018-19 RTC16: Week Ten

Posted by Walker Carey on January 28th, 2019

We have reached the point in the college basketball season where the legitimate Final Four contenders have started to separate from the pack. A team that somewhat unexpectedly fits that mold is #7 Kentucky. The Wildcats infamously started their season by getting blown out against Duke in the Champions Classic, but a December loss to an average Seton Hall team followed by an SEC-opening loss at Alabama was cause for concern. Luckily for Big Blue Nation, things have turned on a dime. Since that setback to the Crimson Tide, Kentucky has rifled off six straight victories — the most recent of which came in Saturday’s 71-63 comeback win over #11 Kansas. In the victory, Kentucky showcased the many elements that has led to its vast improvement. Senior forward Reid Travis and sophomore forward P.J. Washington took advantage of Kansas’ lack of interior size with a pair of double-doubles. Freshman guard Ashton Hagans continued his steady play on the offensive end too, contributing 12 points and eight assists while playing stifling defense. While it is certainly possible Kentucky could revert back to its inconsistent early season form, it has shown nothing during its current hot streak to suggest that will become a reality. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

2018-19 RTC16: Week Nine

Posted by Walker Carey on January 21st, 2019

Last week began with many observers wondering when college basketball’s last two undefeated teams — #2 Virginia and #6 Michigan — would fall from the ranks of the unbeaten. Wonder no more, as both the Cavaliers and Wolverines went into hostile road environments on Saturday and failed to leave with a victory. Michigan suffered through an uncharacteristically sloppy performance in a 64-54 loss at Wisconsin, as the Wolverines entered the game averaging just 9.5 turnovers per contest but suffered 16 miscues en route to defeat. Michigan’s offensive woes were fueled by star freshman Ignas Brazdeikis being held scoreless in 23 minutes of action, and senior swingman Charles Matthews producing only five points on a head-scratching five field goal attempts. Virginia’s trip to #3 Duke on Saturday evening appeared less daunting as the week wore on. The Blue Devils had been stunned at home by unranked Syracuse on Monday — and to make matters worse, freshman point guard Tre Jones was lost to a shoulder injury for an unspecified period of time. Duke, however, did just enough to eke out a 72-70 win over the Cavaliers, as Virginia had no answer for a pair of freshmen phenoms in R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson who combined to score 57 points. The sky is not falling for either Michigan or Virginia, of course, but Saturday showed that they have weaknesses too. It will be intriguing to see how each team responds as conference play continues in full force. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

2018-19 RTC16: Week Eight

Posted by Walker Carey on January 14th, 2019

The early portion of conference play often comes with observations about how new coaches are working out in their programs. Those quick-hit observations can often be misguided because of a small sample size, but there are times where such declarations can clearly be taken as a sign of positive things to come. For example, take a look at what Kermit Davis is doing in his first season at #13 Ole Miss. The Rebels went just 12-20 last season and were picked to finish dead last in the SEC preseason media poll, but a 13-2 start featuring a resounding 82-67 home win over #11 Auburn on Wednesday and a comeback victory over archrival Mississippi State on Saturday have gotten everyone’s attention. It will be interesting to see how Davis’ squad handles the role of the hunted now that it has earned a national ranking. That said, the Rebels have not experienced defeat since the week of Thanksgiving and figure to be home favorites this week in games against LSU and Arkansas. The regular season is far from over, but Davis has already shown in his first year that he is ready to make Ole Miss a contender in a very competitive SEC race. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

2018-19 RTC16: Week Seven

Posted by Walker Carey on January 7th, 2019

Winning conference road games is difficult — it always has been and always will be. #8 Kansas and #11 Nevada were reintroduced to that notion on Saturday, with both top-10 teams falling hard in hostile road environments. The Jayhawks’ loss at Hilton Coliseum to a strong #15 Iowa State squad was not necessarily surprising — the Cyclones closed as a two-point favorite — but it was the way in which Bill Self‘s group faltered that raised some eyebrows around the country. Kansas finished the 77-60 defeat with an astounding 24 turnovers while also hitting just six of their 20 three-point attempts, while usual standout performers Lagerald Vick and Dedric Lawson combined for just 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting. The weekend went from bad to worse for Kansas on Sunday when Self announced that big man Udoka Azubuike — who was sidelined in Saturday’s loss — will miss the remainder of the season with a hand injury. Nevada’s loss was more unexpected, as the Wolf Pack dropped an 85-58 laugher to a New Mexico team that entered the contest with a paltry 7-6 record. Eric Musselman‘s team suffered through an uncharacteristically poor offensive outing — shooting just 33 percent from the field — and it let a 12-point halftime deficit balloon to the final margin with a no-show second half. Standout forward Caleb Martin had a particularly brutal evening, finishing with just eight points on 2-of-14 shooting. It was a rough weekend for these two teams, but knowing college basketball, a majority of the other top squads will also stumble on the road at some point over the balance of the season. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

2018-19 RTC16: Week Five

Posted by Walker Carey on December 26th, 2018

Winning close game after close game is a trend that we know eventually catches up to a team. The most recent example of such a thing took place Saturday night in Tempe when previously unbeaten #5 Kansas blew an eight-point halftime lead in an 80-76 upset loss to Arizona State. The Jayhawks entered the game at an uncomfortable 10-0, with six of the 10 wins coming by single digits and two in overtime. Bill Self‘s group had been playing with fire all season, and the winning plays down the stretch that had previously bailed his team out never arrived. A single loss will certainly not derail any of Kansas’ hopes for the rest of the season, but it should serve as a bit of a wake-up call. Yes, Udoka Azubuike is still sidelined with a knee injury, but with Big 12 play rapidly approaching, it would be wise for the Jayhawks to put forth more consistent full game efforts if they do not want the losses to become more frequent. This week’s Quick N’Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Thoughts.

Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

2018-19 RTC16: Week Four

Posted by Walker Carey on December 17th, 2018

As full conference play nears, it is becoming increasingly clear what the strengths and weaknesses are among the top teams in college basketball. That was certainly the case Saturday night in Chapel Hill when #8 North Carolina used a first half offensive explosion to pace its way to a 103-90 victory over #6 Gonzaga. The game went a long way to show that the Tar Heels still possess one of the country’s most dynamic offenses and will be reckoned with this season. Senior guard Cameron Johnson and senior forward Luke Maye combined for 45 points in the winning effort, while the team’s duo at point guard – freshman Koby White and junior Seventh Woods – teamed up to contribute 29 points and seven assists. North Carolina still has its defensive flaws, but the Tar Heels have enough firepower to beat anyone. On the other side of the coin, Gonzaga’s defensive issues again presented significant problems, as the Zags allowed 50+ points in both halves and gave up 13 North Carolina three-pointers. Mark Few‘s club will not be exposed on the defensive end of the floor during WCC play this season, but its middling defensive efficiency (63rd nationally) shows the Bulldogs need to work some things out before the NCAA Tournament commences in three months. This week’s Quick n’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Thoughts.

Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story