Five Takeaways from Championship Week Friday

Posted by Henry Bushnell on March 14th, 2015

As we reach the pinnacle of Championship Week over the next few days, we’ll take a breath each morning to run down the top five storylines from the previous day’s action. There were 44 games spread across 18 conference tournaments on Friday — here’s the TL;DR version of what happened.

1. Which ACC Loss Was More Troubling: Duke or Virginia?

The story of Championship Week Friday is a complex one, but it has to open with what transpired in Greensboro last night. Top-seeded Virginia and second-seeded Duke were toppled in the ACC semifinals by North Carolina and Notre Dame, respectively; and both upsets, in their own ways, were startling. First, there’s Virginia, which in a 71-67 loss gave up more points than it had in any other contest in conference play. Despite a late Cavaliers’ charge, the Tar Heels led the game from wire to wire and made Tony Bennett’s team look frighteningly ordinary for about 35 minutes of action. In the nightcap, Notre Dame, a little over a month after being waxed by Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium, got its revenge. The Fighting Irish held the high-powered Blue Devils to 0.97 points per possession in a 74-64 win.

Notre Dame All Smiles After Last Night's Big Win (USA Today Images)

Notre Dame All Smiles and Hugs After Last Night’s Big Win (USA Today Images)

So which loss is more worrying? I’d have to say Virginia’s. Duke was outplayed by the Irish but the primary reason the Blue Devils lost was a 3-of-17 shooting mark from beyond the arc. On the other hand, Virginia doesn’t look like the same team it was earlier this year. The Cavaliers have continued to dominate lesser teams on the defensive end, but when they are coming face to face with teams that can match up with them physically, they don’t look nearly as special. Furthermore, Justin Anderson’s return — zero points in 26 minutes over two games — is troubling. Virginia fans should be somewhat worried.

2. Can Iowa State and Oklahoma Play Every Week?

The Cyclones and Sooners played another barnburner in the second Big 12 semifinals Friday night. Both regular season clashes had been instant classics, and while Friday’s meeting was maybe a tad more sensible — as in there were no 20-point comebacks or 59-point halves — it was back and forth all game long. In the end, Iowa State who pulled out a 67-65 victory when Ryan Spangler missed a bunny at the rim that would have tied the game. The Cyclones get a rubber match with Kansas Saturday, which will be another episode of Big 12 must-watch television.

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On The Bubble: Reggie Johnson’s Suspension And Miami’s Gamble

Posted by mpatton on February 27th, 2012

Reggie Johnson was suspended by the NCAA indefinitely for his family allegedly receiving improper travel benefits from a member of Frank Haith’s staff. It should sound like a broken record at this point: family receives impermissible benefits; school and player argue the player didn’t know about them. It’s the same defense that kept Cam Newton from missing any games at Auburn en route to the national championship; it’s the same defense that restored Ryan Boatright’s eligibility earlier this season; it’s the same defense that will make a mockery of NCAA rules if not addressed soon.

Reggie Johnson Is Suspended Indefinitely. But How Long Is That?

First, a disclaimer: I think that the NCAA rulebook is not fair to student-athletes. In this case, we’re probably talking about a coach paying for a plane ticket. Why shouldn’t coaches be allowed to subsidize transportation for families? Don’t give me the “it’s not fair” argument. Nothing is fair in college athletics. Is it fair that some schools sit next to huge reserves of local talent or that some schools can afford top-tier practice facilities, top-tier coaches, and prime time TV exposure? No. But that’s the way it is.

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