After a Quiet Week On College Hardwood, Weekend Action Set to Heat Things Up

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 14th, 2013

The end of the winter exam period could not come soon enough for college basketball fans. Yes, we know that it’s important for the kids to take care of their academics, but even the most fervent of followers would have to admit they could only take so many more nights of Bryant being featured in the headline contest of the evening. Nothing against the Bulldogs and their tidy 6-5 start, but this weekend’s spate of entertaining match-ups should help us all regain a little sanity Last night’s Hawkeye State battle served as a worthy appetizer for Saturday’s feast of action, but before you grab the remote and plop down in the front row seat in your living room, check out these four storylines to monitor on Saturday.

Arizona Takes Its #1 Ranking to Ann Arbor Today

Arizona Takes Its #1 Ranking to Ann Arbor Today

Chances For Validation, Redemption In Ann Arbor

It may be hard to believe now, but public perception of Arizona and Michigan was pretty comparable at the start of the year. Needless to say, that is no longer the case. The Wildcats, now also known as the #1 team in the land, get a shot at validating that ranking when they visit Ann Arbor today (12:00 EST, CBS), while the floundering Wolverines will seek to redirect the trajectory of their season. Wins over the #1 team in the country have a way of curing a lot of ills, but it will take a yet-to-be-seen vigor for Michigan to earn that antidote, even on their home floor. Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan will clash with Aaron Gordon and the rest of that vaunted Arizona front line down low, but keep an eye on the battle of the Ni(c)ks. We saw against Duke how crippling a subpar night from Nik Stauskas can be for the Wolverines; if Nick Johnson’s rep as one of the best stoppers out West carries weight in Ann Arbor, Michigan may again find themselves searching for other scoring outlets. For Michigan, Saturday is an opportunity to prove that the Wolverines still might be who we thought they were; for the Cats, it’s another chance to show us that they are exactly who we think they are.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ATB: The Holy War Doesn’t Disappoint, West Virginia’s Struggles, and Trey Burke’s Extended Playing Time…

Posted by Chris Johnson on December 12th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Tonight’s Lede. You Probably Didn’t Watch Any Games Tonight. As much as I love college basketball, both as a fan and writer, I have no qualms conceding the obvious: There were few games on tonight’s schedule deserving of your (or my) precious Tuesday night TV viewing allotment. From top to bottom, and with the possible exception of a couple somewhat surprising results, the schedule was one of the worst we’ve seen all season. If you needed a night to get a leg up in the holiday shopping arms race, tonight couldn’t have presented a better opportunity. We saw this coming: finals week has never been kind to the college hoops schedule, and this year is no different. Even so, there were games that no doubt piqued the interest of select areas of the country, regionally-appealing tests deserving of at least a some national attention. Herein, I present you what could go down as the most boring ATB to date. Enjoy… if possible.

Your Watercooler Moment. The Holy War Rages On.

The Wildcats needed a signature win to reverse their recent slide (Photo credit: Getty Images).

In its last season before joining the (gulp) Big East, St. Joseph’s fumbled a prime opportunity to claim Big 5 bragging rights in the Holy War for the second year in a row. You can look at this result one of two ways. On the one hand, Villanova showed toughness and mettle against a hated city rival and grabbed its first respectable non-conference win since beating Purdue in overtime (if that qualifies) nearly four weeks ago at the 2K Sports Classic. Jay Wright’s team needed to prove its ability to rebound after a mostly tumultuous month. On the other hand, St. Joe’s was picked to finish first in the preseason media poll in an incredibly deep A-10, and another loss to pile on top of missed opportunities against Florida State and Creighton isn’t exactly validating that perception. The first school of thought seems to hold more weight, but I’d wager it’s a little bit of both. Phil Martelli’s team has certainly underwhelmed of late, and there’s no excuse for squandering a five-point lead with just over two minutes remaining (particularly against an offensively-challenged bunch like Villanova), but when you consider the stakes at hand – for one, Villanova’s Philadelphia-grounded pride; for another, the growing sense the Wildcats were falling behind in the race to become the city’s best team, and their need to rectify that mantra – it’s not a horrible loss by any stretch. What’s interesting about this particular game is that the next rendition could very well count as a conference game, only we’re yet to find out whether said conference will be the Atlantic 10 or the Big East. And no, I couldn’t avoid talking about conference realignment. Sorry!

Tonight’s Quick Hits…

  • Trey Burke Should Be Resting More.It probably won’t surprise you to learn Michigan point guard Trey Burke had 19 points in a comfortable win over Binghamton at the Crisler Center. What may strike you as something of an oddity is that Burke’s 30 minutes of playing time were the fewest minutes he’s logged in a game all season. The Wolverines haven’t just won all of their games so far; they’ve made easy work of their opponents, resulting in a multitude of lopsided scores. It only seems logical that coach John Beilein would give his most important player ample rest time in these early blowouts as a preemptive stay-fresh device, because once the Wolverines hit Big Ten play and teams resort to physicality in their attempts to flummox the No. 3-ranked team in the nation, all those hits will add up, the fatigue will mount, and Burke just might feel the urge to retroactively curse his coach’s judgment. Or maybe Burke will continue to look like one of the best point guards in the country right on through conference play and into the NCAA Tournament without feeling the slightest bit of lethargy or sluggishness. Probably the latter. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story