What’s Trending: A Wild Weekend in the NCAA Tournament

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on April 1st, 2019

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

After a relatively chaos-free opening two rounds of the 2019 NCAA Tournament, the madness arrived in earnest over the weekend. Taking a look back at the memorable moments begins in the East Region where Virginia Tech and Duke found themselves in a battle to the very end.

While Zion Williamson marvels those that watch Duke play with his dunks, it is plays like this that truly show how unique he is. With Duke nursing a narrow three-point lead, Williamson gets crossed-up by Virginia Tech’s Justin Robinson. Despite the blow-by, Williamson recovers like few others playing high-level basketball can…

Just days after surviving at the buzzer against UCF, Duke found itself in a similar situation again. The Blue Devils were up two points with just over one second to go when Virginia Tech drew up this perfect play to send the game to overtime… minus the finish.

The East Region Sweet Sixteen also featured Michigan State’s 80-63 win over LSU. In that game, the Spartans’ Aaron Henry scored a season-high 20 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists. This performance by Henry came on the heels of Tom Izzo’s outrage at the talented freshman in Michigan State’s opening round win. After the win against LSU, Izzo was quick to credit young Henry and his teammates…

The Elite Eight match-up between Duke and Michigan State was a game that many were looking forward to the second the bracket came out. With the lead going back and forth throughout much of the second half, Michigan State’s Matt McQuaid pushed the Spartans back in front with this layup that will not be forgotten…

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What’s Trending: NCAA Tournament Edition

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on March 25th, 2019

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

Looking back at the first two rounds of the 2019 NCAA Tournament has to begin with the opening weekend’s most memorable game. In Sunday afternoon’s UCF vs. Duke game, there was much more to it than the average #1 vs. #9 match-up. How would the battle of Zion Williamson vs. Tacko Fall unfold? How would the pupil (Johnny Dawkins) fare against his teacher (Coach K)? Williamson definitely had to earn his 32 points — the superstar freshman shot just 9-of-17 on his two-point attempts, representing the first time he has been under 60 percent inside the arc since a 4-of-7 performance on January 12 against Florida State.

Despite falling behind by as many as eight points in the second half, UCF rallied to take a four-point lead with under two minutes to go. The Knights were racing upcourt with a chance to extend the lead, but a failed alley-oop followed by a Cam Reddish three-pointer cut the lead to a single point.

Push off? Verticality? Down three points in the dying seconds, Duke put the ball in Williamson’s hands and he made a play.

Zion went on to miss the game-tying free-throw, but the ball ultimately ended up in the hands of R.J. Barrett, who put in a bunny to give Duke a one-point lead. While many were arguing that Barrett pushed off to get the rebound, the bigger grievance with a missed call on this play came with this missed hook and hold. An emphasis was placed on this call all season long, yet it appears to have been blatantly missed here. This is a call that would have all but ensured the end of Duke’s season…

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What’s Trending: Conference Tournament Weekend

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on March 18th, 2019

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

The second week of conference tournaments began with many questions, the biggest of which focused on a certain 6’7″, 285-pound freshman in Durham, North Carolina. For the past few weeks, questions about Zion Williamson and whether he would — or should — return to play for Duke have been thrown around by nearly everyone. It took the superstar forward all of two minutes of game time to show everyone that he is indeed back…

https://twitter.com/si_ncaabb/status/1106368814206324736

The storylines involving Zion continued in Duke’s ACC Tournament quarterfinal match-up against Syracuse. In the past, it was Duke — paging Grayson Allen — as the centerpiece of any tripping story. This time, however, it was Syracuse’s Frank Howard taking his turn to extend his leg a little further than necessary…

“I love playing with Duke, I love my teammates.”

The Zion experience carried into the ACC Tournament semifinal match-up against North Carolina. The Tar Heels had dominated the first two Zion-less games, but after scoring 29 points and grabbing 10 rebounds through the first 39 minutes, it was Zion’s final two points and rebound that made the biggest difference…

Scoring, rebounds, steals… oh, Zion can pass the ball pretty well too…

In the non-Zion Williamson category of the ACC Tournament, the basketball world was gifted a dancing Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams

…a frantic possession and game-winning basket by Florida State’s Terance Mann…

…and everyone’s favorite, allegations of NCAA violations…

On the topic of NCAA violations, the SEC Tournament included LSU’s Will Wade releasing a statement where he made a plea to get back on the sideline. LSU General Counsel Tom Skinner fired back with, “as a university and employer, we need to hear our employee say, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong,’ or explain the circumstances or admit he did not do something wrong. We’ve been unable to get to that point. We have no choice, in terms of institutional control, to not suspend someone.”

On the court, Tennessee’s Admiral Schofield began the Volunteers’ SEC Tournament action with a poster over Mississippi State…

https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1106755627366391809

LSU’s Skylar Mays came up with a dunk that had LSU fans jumping for joy…

…but it was ultimately Florida’s Andrew Nembhard who allowed Florida to move on and send LSU home.

Florida’s run through the SEC Tournament came to an end on Saturday, literally at the hands of Auburn….

https://twitter.com/br_CBB/status/1106998122658582533

In the other semifinal, the SEC Tournament delivered a gem between Tennessee and Kentucky…

During Wednesday’s opening round of the Big Ten Tournament, Nebraska’s Tim Miles had the spotlight on him after his Huskers toppled Rutgers…

…after beating Maryland on Thursday, Miles got his shot at redemption…

After the second win in as many days, Big Ten Twitter was quick to point out this fact that fans in Bloomington, Indiana, were not happy to read…

The Big East Tournament will be remembered for this sequence in Seton Hall’s semifinal win over Marquette

https://twitter.com/CBBonFOX/status/1106760477718138881

Meanwhile, at the end of the tournament it was once again Villanova that walked away as the champion… AGAIN.

Tournament week in Las Vegas began with the West Coast Conference Tournament where St. Mary’s earned an automatic bid by getting the best of Gonzaga.

…and it continued with the Pac-12 Tournament where all eyes were on Bill Walton doing Bill Walton things…

…and it ended with Oregon winning the Pac-12 Tournament to steal a bid from a team on the bubble.

As players play for an opportunity to keep their season going, these tournaments bring up stories that need to be shared. The emotion in the face of Old Dominion headcoach Jeff Jones makes the Monarchs an easy team to root for…

While there is so much to love and appreciate with college basketball, there was one thing that continues to outshine the product on the floor. Officiating throughout tournaments leaves fans wondering…

And as painful as questionable calls can be, the monitor review process will almost assuredly come up time and time again next week. Getting the correct call is important, but too often these reviews kill any flow to a game. Add in the fact that they act as de facto timeouts for teams that often do not have any to call and you have a situation that creates more problems than it solves.

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2018-19 RTC16: Week Sixteen

Posted by Walker Carey on March 11th, 2019

The final week of the regular season rarely disappoints, and last week was no exception as a number of conference champions were determined and several teams distinguished themselves as serious contenders for an NCAA Tournament title. #1 Virginia and #3 North Carolina each clinched a share of the regular season ACC crown with home victories on Saturday. The Cavaliers continued their dominance over Louisville with a 73-68 win, while the Tar Heels completed their season sweep of rival #5 Duke with a comfortable 79-70 victory. For the first time since 2004, a team other than Kansas was crowned as the Big 12 champion, so it only makes sense that two teams conspired to snatch the title from the Jayhawks. #6 Texas Tech grabbed its share of the league crown with an 80-73 road win at Iowa State, while #14 Kansas State joined the Red Raiders in the champion’s circle with a resounding 68-53 besting of Oklahoma. The Big Ten also crowned co-regular season champions, as #6 Michigan State clinched its share by earning a season sweep of intrastate rival #10 Michigan, following #12 Purdue winning its claim on the crown at Northwestern. Those regular season champions should be seen as the main contenders to take home conference tournament titles this week, but Championship Week is known for its surprising results, so it would be premature to already declare which teams will be cutting down the nets. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

  • Gonzaga and Virginia finish the regular season at #1. The Bulldogs and Cavaliers both finished sterling regular seasons, with each club finishing with just two losses. Gonzaga enters WCC Tournament play tonight as the clear favorite. The Bulldogs did not lose a conference game all season and it would take a sizable upset in Las Vegas to knock them down. Furthermore, Mark Few‘s club may be poised to get stronger as injured forward Killian Tillie recently joined his teammates for extended practice time and appear likely to return for the postseason. Virginia will begin its defense of its 2018 ACC Tournament title on Thursday, using a 16-0 league record against non-Duke opponents to seal the top seed. With the title game being the only chance of a third meeting with the Blue Devils, it would not be a stretch to expect Virginia to advance to the main event in Charlotte on Saturday night.
  • #9 LSU won the outright SEC title despite a tumultuous week. The Tigers clinched the outright SEC regular season title on Saturday night with a 21-point victory over Vanderbilt. The mood around the program should have been celebratory, but with a story breaking on Thursday that head coach Will Wade had been caught in an FBI wiretap discussing an offer to then-recruit Javonte Smart, and LSU’s subsequent suspension of Wade on Friday, the Tigers have a lot of uncertainty hanging over their heads. If it is determined that Wade participated in nefarious conduct, LSU will almost certainly have to vacate the SEC title and any other accomplishments from this season. Even with all these distractions, the Tigers looked like a focused team on Saturday. Interim coach Tony Benford possesses the tall task of making sure that focus carries over into the postseason.
  • #11 Houston deserves more credit for its 29-2 regular season. It makes sense that a team from the American has not received the same level of national attention as teams from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, etc., but the season turned in by Kelvin Sampson‘s Cougars must be acknowledged. Houston just finished a regular season featuring 29 regular season victories with its only two losses coming by a combined nine points. The Cougars rank among the top 20 in the country in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and senior guard Corey Davis, Jr. has emerged as one the country’s most dynamic scorers. Houston has not advanced to the Sweet Sixteen since 1984, but this season looks like the program’s best chance to end that drought.

Tournament of the Week. ACC Tournament – March 12-16 in Charlotte. The most anticipated conference tournament has to be the one that features three top-five teams in #1 Virginia, #3 North Carolina, and #5 Duke. While the Cavaliers and Tar Heels are the top two seeds, the story of the tournament will be the expected return of freshman phenom Zion Williamson for third-seeded Duke. If Williamson returns healthy from his knee injury, the Blue Devils project to have a semifinal date with North Carolina on Friday before a potential title game match-up with Virginia. If you are looking for a sleeper here, look no further than #4 seed Florida State. The Seminoles have played excellent basketball for the last six weeks, losing only once since January 20.

Keep Tabs On. It is a good idea to keep tabs on any and all action that takes place this week. Championship Week is the best appetizer for the smorgasbord that is the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Conference Call: ACC (4), Big 12 (3), Big Ten (3), SEC (2), WCC (1), Mountain West (1), AAC (1), MAC (1).

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What’s Trending: Conference Week Madness is Underway!

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on March 11th, 2019

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

Let the NCAA Tournament ticket punching begin!

https://twitter.com/br_CBB/status/1104579515672678401

Jon Rothstein eloquently describes the month of March perfectly. It’s time to sit back and enjoy all that college basketball will bring us…

After 14 consecutive years at the top of the Big 12, Kansas‘ reign as the conference’s top team finally came to an end. In an era of college basketball where anything is possible, the longevity of the Jayhawks’ streak was beyond remarkable…

I
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What’s Trending: This is March!

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on March 4th, 2019

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

The first four months of the college basketball season are now in the books, and this week gave us the annual Jon Rothstein countdown to March. Like clockwork, the CBS analyst delivered as all hoops fans knew he would. Welcome to March!

With March now here, conference races are in the home stretch. As such, Saturday night’s game between the best teams in the Mountain West ended with Utah State beating Nevada. After the game, Utah State fans rushed the court. Shortly after that, bedlam took place in the hallway under the arena as Nevada‘s Jordan Caroline erupted in anger. While to this point the incident is full of rumors and hearsay, it sets up what could be a wild match-up if the two teams see each other again in the Mountain West Tournament…

This week also featured some history. First there was Purdue’s Matt Haarms’ night of perfection against Illinois…

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What’s Trending: An Impactful Week at the Top

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on February 25th, 2019

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

LSU and Tennessee went back and forth on Saturday afternoon giving each other everything they could handle. After a frantic tip-in tied things up for LSU, the Volunteers had a chance to win the game. The Vols’ Lamonte Turner, who had made only four of his last 22 three-point attempts, took this quick look after dribbling upcourt. What happened next was a bit of misfortune on Grant Williams’ part to give LSU the break it needed.

https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1099393801846693890

Rivalry Week began with the primary focus, as usual, on Tobacco Road. A mere 30 seconds into the game in Cameron Indoor Stadium, though, the focus swung onto Zion Williamson and his shoes…

https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1098404362148208640

For as much grief as Charles Barkley deservedly gets when it comes to analyzing the NCAA Tournament, the Round Mound of Rebound delivered a spot-on take with respect to the Zion Williamson situation….

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What’s Trending: The Wild Week That Was

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on February 18th, 2019

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

It was quite a week for Kentucky at Rupp Arena. It began with a controversial ending as SEC rival LSU got the benefit of the doubt when it came to a tip-in at the buzzer.

https://twitter.com/SECNetwork/status/1095506119525650438

The loss pushed Kentucky two games behind SEC-leading Tennessee. Not to worry, though, as the Wildcats took a bite out of the #1 team in the country in a prime time showcase between top-five teams.

The win against the Volunteers pushed Kentucky’s John Calipari into some new territory of his own…

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What’s Trending: The NCAA Tournament is Closer Than You Think

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on February 11th, 2019

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

Saturday marked the initial release of the Selection Committee’s top 16 seeds for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. While the choices lacked much in the way of surprise, the release was followed by five of those teams losing later that day.

Earlier in the week, the college basketball world was reminded of the drama that comes along with NCAA violations, as Arizona decided to place assistant coach Mark Phelps on administrative leave. The Wildcats have struggled both on and off the court this season.

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What’s Trending: A Week Where Anything Was Possible

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on January 28th, 2019

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

Tennessee began the week as the top-ranked team in the national polls. It was the first time that the Volunteers had been ranked #1 since the 2007-2008 season under Bruce Pearl. On Wednesday night, Rick Barnes‘ club was completely tested in a game against intrastate rival Vanderbilt. Down by five points late in the second half, Tennessee’s Jordan Bowden delivered this incredible Dunk of the Year candidate that set things in motion for the Vols to win the game…

https://twitter.com/SECNetwork/status/1088254811441643521

Last week also featured a pair of games with outcomes that no one could possibly see coming. Down by 14 points with just over two minutes to go, LSU‘s win probability was less than one percent against Missouri. Then all of this happened…

https://twitter.com/br_CBB/status/1089558507119104000

Texas-San Antonio joined LSU last week with a comeback for the ages. KenPom’s win probability gave UTSA just a 0.2% of winning the game against Old Dominion, trailing by 14 points with 2:13 to go. The outcomes of these two games only further prove that anything is possible in college basketball…

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