Big 12 M5: 01.08.14 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 8th, 2014

morning5_big12

  1. Just how good is Iowa State? That’s the question Rob Dauster over at College Basketball Talk is asking after the Cyclones pulled away from Baylor in the second half to win the battle of top 10 teams, 87-72. DeAndre Kane had his best game on the biggest stage of the season to date: 30 points, eight rebounds, nine assists and five steals. Dauster believes the Cyclones are a very good team but not a top 10 team. His points are valid — the Michigan and BYU wins don’t have the same cachet now as they did in November, and their best wins (Iowa and Baylor) came at the impregnable Hilton Coliseum. Regardless of what anyone thinks about them, the Cyclones are now one of only five undefeated teams in college basketball along with Arizona, Syracuse, Wisconsin and Wichita State.
  2. When a team commits 18 turnovers in a conference game, it usually spells doom for the road team. Kansas State was that road team on Tuesday night and still somehow emerged with an 18-point win over TCU, 65-47. The difference for the Wildcats was winning the rebounding edge over the Horned Frogs by 16 boards. “They are not a good rebounding team,” forward Thomas Gipson said. “They play hard and everything, but we really wanted to emphasize our rebounding against them. I feel like we did a good job with that.” Now Kansas State’s winning streak is at 10 games, its longest since the Elite Eight season of 2009-10. Their buddies from Lawrence will be their next opponent on Saturday.
  3. Jerry Palm’s latest bracketology has seven Big 12 teams in the field of 68. Think about that: 70 percent of an entire conference is projected to make the NCAA Tournament. What a number, considering that the Big East’s 11 bids in 2011 accounted for 68.8 percent of that conference. According to Palm, Kansas State and Texas were selected as First Four teams headed to Dayton, Ohio. If they were picked as two of the final teams in, I wouldn’t be so sure if I’d take both. While Kansasa State has recorded its best wins (Ole Miss, Gonzaga, George Washington, and Oklahoma State) within the state of Kansas, those wins are collectively better than Texas’, which pretty much starts and ends with North Carolina in Chapel Hill. But that’s why the season doesn’t end on January 8. Who knows, maybe at season’s end the Big 12 will have seven resumes that are worthy of NCAA Tournament bids.
  4. On Monday, Kansas State’s Marcus Foster picked up Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors, but the accolades don’t stop there. In a collaboration between the Wayman Tisdale Award and CBSSports.com, Foster has won the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week for his play against George Washington and Oklahoma State. This is certainly a breath of fresh air when you consider that the award seemed like it’d be passed around between Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon, Tyler Ennis, Andrew Wiggins and the Kentucky freshmen. Hooray for three-star recruits!
  5. West Virginia has missed some opportunities to rack up important wins in non-league play but leading scorer Eron Harris is encouraged by the team’s 2-0 start in the Big 12. Yes, those two wins came against Texas Tech and TCU both of which have worse overall records than the Mountaineers. It doesn’t seem to make a difference to Harris. “I don’t care what team you’re playing in the Big 12, it’s a tough conference,” Harris told MetroNews. “It’s significant.” Their first non-Texas opponent will come Saturday when WVU takes on Oklahoma State in Morgantown. We’ll see if things really are different.
Share this story

The Best Of 2013 In College Basketball

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 31st, 2013

With 2013 winding to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was in college basketball. There were too many memorable moments to recount ‘em all, but here’s our honor roll for the last calendar year — a list laced with games, plays, and performances that will long struggle to escape our memory banks.

Best Game: Michigan vs. Kansas, NCAA Tournament, Sweet Sixteen

Trey Burke's Last-Gasp Sweet-16 Heroics Will Surely Be One Of 2013's Prevailing Memories

Trey Burke’s Last-Gasp Sweet-16 Heroics Will Surely Be One Of 2013’s Prevailing Memories

Gonzaga-Butler may have given us the best final seconds of regulation (see below), and Louisville-Notre Dame definitely donated the most riveting 25 minutes of action after regulation, but when talking games of the year, Michigan vs. Kansas was simply unmatched when it came to elevated stakes and elite talent. We won’t soon forget Trey Burke’s comeback-capping, game-tying three to force overtime, but it would be a shame if that’s all that lived on from this classic. Sweet Sixteen match-ups between national title contenders don’t come around every March; would you have bet against Kansas to get to Championship Monday if Burke’s three hadn’t found the bottom of the net on that Friday night?

Honorable Mention: Gonzaga at Butler, Louisville at Notre Dame.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 Power Rankings: Kansas State’s Going Streaking

Posted by Nate Kotisso on December 24th, 2013

It feels like an eternity ago since Kansas State stumbled out of the gates. They’ve since dealt with injuries — most notably to Thomas Gipson — as the Wildcats got off to a 2-3 start. Soon, Gipson returned to form and with some help from freshman Marcus Foster, the Wildcats have now won six in a row including wins over Ole Miss and Gonzaga. K-State placed seventh in our power rankings last week.  Where does Bruce Weber’s team stand a week later?

Someone has just entered the conversation for Big 12 Coach of the Year again...and it's Bruce Weber. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

Someone has just entered the conversation for Big 12 Coach of the Year again: Bruce Weber. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

1. Oklahoma State (11-1, 5 points). Comment: “While I think Kansas will ultimately be the better team in the end, the Cowboys are still the better team right now. The combination of Marcus Smart and Markel Brown is as difficult of a backcourt as you’ll see in the nation. ” – Taylor Erickson (@tc_erickson)

2. Kansas (8-3, 9 points). Comment: “Huzzah to the mainstream media for steering clear of the ‘no place like home’ headline bait provided by the Jayhawks’ whipping of Georgetown in the first game played at Allen Fieldhouse in nearly a month.” – Brian Goodman (@BSGoodman)

3. Iowa State (10-0, 12 points). Comment: “Every time the Cyclones score 90 points in a game, an angel gets its wings. Probably.” – Nate Kotisso (@natekotisso)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 M5: 12.23.2013 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 23rd, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. The rapid maturation of Kansas center Joel Embiid was on display once again in the Jayhawks’ big win over Georgetown on Saturday. Embiid scored 17 points on just four shots, harassing the Hoyas into foul trouble throughout the game. Without injecting his draft stock into the conversation, it remains downright scary where Embiid could be come March if he continues to develop at the current rate.
  2. Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford acknowledges how good his team already is, but like any coach in the country right now, he knows that there’s plenty of room for improvement. The Cowboys have continued to roll along and still figure to contend for the Big 12 crown, but unlike Kansas, Iowa State and even Baylor, Oklahoma State hasn’t grabbed many national headlines away from their home court. That’s not always a bad thing, though, as pressure to perform can derail a lot of teams.
  3. West Virginia has had plenty of chances to make a positive statement this season, but while they were never expected to live in the upper echelon of the Big 12, their season so far has been a complete dud. Sunday’s home loss to Purdue just put the Mountaineers under more pressure to overachieve once conference play gears up, and Bob Huggins won’t argue that his team still has plenty of work to do.
  4. A concerted effort to be more aggressive on the glass has been big for Kansas State after a rough start to their season, and it paid dividends once again in the Wildcats’ big weekend win over Gonzaga. Bruce Weber’s team collected at least 71 percent of available defensive rebounds for the third straight time on Saturday, and with a limited scoring arsenal at their disposal, preventing second-chance buckets will be one of the keys if the Wildcats are to win an uphill battle towards an at-large bid.
  5. TCU point guard Kyan Anderson was crucial as he helped dig his team out of a double-figure deficit against Tulsa over the weekend. Oddly, of the Horned Frogs’ seven wins against D-I opponents this season, two of them have come over the Golden Hurricane, which plays in a different conference. TCU is unlikely to find many Tulsas lying around the Big 12 this season, however, so it’s a good thing they were able to get those two wins.
Share this story

Big 12 Power Rankings: A Lot More Than Kansas and Oklahoma State

Posted by Nate Kotisso on December 19th, 2013

Five weeks.

That’s the amount of time we as a microsite have had to regret our preseason projected Big 12 standings. Like most everyone else, we pegged the league as a two-headed horse race between Kansas and Oklahoma State but with the Jayhawks’ recent struggles and the Cowboys looking good but not great, two more teams have emerged as viable contenders. Baylor and Iowa State have compiled early resumes on par with the preseason leaders and our first batch of power rankings reflect, perhaps, the deepest league in college basketball. Plus, four-headed horses are prettier to look at anyway.

Texas scored a huge road win over North Carolina on Wednesday night. (photo via USA Today Sports)

Texas scored a huge road win over North Carolina on Wednesday night. (photo via USA Today Sports)

1. Oklahoma State (10-1, 5 points)

Comment: “The Cowboys are 10-1 and their only loss, which came against #21 Memphis, doesn’t look as bad after the Tigers nearly knocked off Florida earlier this week.” – Kory Carpenter (@Kory_Carpenter)

T-2. Iowa State (8-0, 7 points)

Comment: “This year’s Cyclones are more than just a bunch of three-point shooters. Their fast pace, efficient offense and the fact that any of about seven different guys can emerge on any given night makes Iowa State one of the most entertaining watches in college hoops — unless you’re an opposing coach.” – Brian Goodman (@BSGoodman)

T-2. Kansas (7-3, 7 points)

Comment: “Yes, the Jayhawks have three losses. But they have faced one of the toughest schedules in the country and have impressive wins over Duke and New Mexico.” – KC

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Making Big 12 Teams Better Before the Trade Deadline

Posted by Kory Carpenter (@Kory_Carpenter) on December 17th, 2013

When you consider high school recruiting and player transfers, college basketball already has its own form of free agency. But what if college hoops adopted another NBA mainstay and began trading its players back and forth, and what if the trade deadline was December 31, right before conference play begins? Here are a few such hypothetical trades that could help Big 12 teams improve heading into January. And no, Kansas State fans — you can’t trade Bruce Weber.

1. Texas forward Prince Ibeh for Oklahoma State guard Stevie Clark: The Longhorns are 160th in the country in three point shooting percentage at 34.0 percent. They have guards that can score off the dribble and have gotten good production out of big men Cameron Ridley and Jonathan Holmes, so sending Ibeh to Oklahoma State wouldn’t kill their frontcourt. Stevie Clark would immediately become their best perimeter three-point shooter and would help spread the floor with his 43 percent shooting from deep. Oklahoma State has enough scoring potential in its backcourt already with Marcus Smart, Phil Forte, Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash, and Ibeh would be the only player in the rotation over 6’8”, helping a small frontcourt match up against the bigger teams in the Big 12.

Stevie Clark

Stevie Clark Would Help the Longhorns’ Backcourt Significantly (NewsOK.com)

2. Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler and guard Jordan Woodard  for West Virginia guard Juwan Staten. West Virginia is in the bottom half of the Big 12 in rebounds per game, rebound margin, defensive rebounds, rebounding percentage, and blocked shots. Spangler would give them 9.0 RPG, 1.4 BPG, and a 65.6 percent shooting rate, making him the Mountaineers’ best post player. And while Woodard isn’t on the same level as Staten, he is still averaging 11.9 PPG and 4.9 APG and would complement fellow guard Eron Harris well. For Oklahoma, the Sooners would then have three of the top seven scorers in the Big 12 in Cameron Clark, Buddy Hield, and Staten, which would represent a go-for-broke type of deal for the Sooners. Losing Spangler would kill any interior presence they had, but it would make them one of the best perimeter teams in the league. They already play faster than all but seven teams in the country, so why not add another high-scoring guard, push the tempo even more, and see what happens?

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Evaluating the Best Coaching Jobs in the Big 12

Posted by KoryCarpenter on December 16th, 2013

Will Leitch over at SportsOnEarth.com gave us his top 25 jobs in college basketball last week. And while there are a few things we would change (Wichita State and Temple seem too high, whereas Michigan seems too low), the list was close to perfect. His criteria was spot on too, as you can see here. Building upon his idea, we thought we would try our hand at a Big 12 list of college basketball jobs. As Leitch explains, the list isn’t necessarily a rundown of the best programs, although that often comes with having a top job. It instead comes down to a simple question: Where would we want to coach if we had our pick of the litter in the Big 12?

Bill Self has the best job in the Big 12, and it isn't close. (AP)

Bill Self has the best job in the Big 12, and it isn’t close. (AP)

  1. Kansas: Kansas was #2 overall on Leitch’s list and is undoubtedly the best job in the Big 12. It has one of the best fan bases in the country and the athletic department will pay a successful coach as much as anyone.
  2. Texas: Texas hasn’t been great in a while, but it is still a top 10 job nationally with seemingly unlimited resources at its disposal and the benefit of in-state recruiting. Fans can be apathetic with respect to hoops, which could be a plus or a minus depending on the success of the coach. Stress about basketball is rarely an issue in Austin, as Texas hoops fans don’t seem to mind a coach who puts together an occasional winner without ever really challenging for a national title. If you can take advantage of everything Texas has to offer as a head coach, you could set yourself up for your career. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Big 12 M5: 12.10.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 10th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Stefan Stevenson of the Star-Telegram states a case for the Big 12 being the best conference in the country. It’s still too early to make a definitive judgment of such nature, but there’s no denying that the league is off to a great start. Five teams are in the KenPom’s top 50, the conference has already clinched the Big 12-SEC Challenge with two games still to play, and its membership has a resume that includes wins over the likes of Duke, Kentucky, Memphis, Michigan, BYU, and Dayton, with close losses to Michigan State and Villanova.
  2. In Division I college hoops, a short memory can be pivotal for both players and head coaches. Bruce Weber and Kansas State had a November to forget and are trying to make up for some early-season mishaps. There aren’t quite enough opportunities in the short term for the Wildcats to wash out the stench of the season’s first four weeks, but they can definitely make some headway when they square off against Gonzaga and George Washington later this month.
  3. When the media and blogosphere talk about the game’s injection of international talent over the last few years, more often than not, they’re referring to Canadian players. That isn’t the case in Morgantown, though, as Remi Dibo, a native of France, and Gary Browne, who calls Puerto Rico home, have played important roles for the Mountaineers early on. West Virginia is looking to make a return to the NCAA Tournament, and if they do, their foreign players will be a big reason why.
  4. TCU head coach Trent Johnson made it a point to take his team on the road early and often this season (they’ve played just two home games so far), but with a six-game homestand taking place over the next few weeks, he is hoping the toughness the Horned Frogs showed on the road lead to some wins. A tournament bid isn’t anywhere close to their radar, but it would be nice to see TCU have a more competitive go-round in its second season as members of the Big 12.
  5. When it comes to Big 12 accolades, Iowa State is sharing the love. Yesterday, forward Dustin Hogue became the third Cyclone to win conference Player Of The Week honors. Hogue averaged 19.5 points and 15.0 rebounds in Iowa State’s two wins last week. While he isn’t as pivotal to his team’s long-term success as Melvin Ejim, Georges Niang, or DeAndre Kane, his productivity just makes it that much harder for opposing coaches to game plan against the Cyclones.
Share this story

Big 12 Observations a Month Into the Season

Posted by Taylor Erickson on December 6th, 2013

With a month of action in the 2013-14 college basketball season now under our belts, the natural question becomes what exactly have we learned so far? We’ve been treated to some impressive performances, by both Big 12 teams and individuals, and a good number of less-than-impressive efforts. And while the buzz of Christmas season is firmly upon us, we’re also in the meat of a non-conference slate with several high-profile games involving the Big 12’s elite, allowing us further opportunity to draw more concrete conclusions. For the time being, though, four weeks into the season, here are a few observations worth keeping an eye on.

Smart showed he is human after a sub-par performance against Memphis in the Old Spice Classic (Credit: Orlando Sentinel).

Smart showed he is human after a sub-par performance against Memphis in the Old Spice Classic (Credit: Orlando Sentinel).

  • Marcus Smart is actually human after all.  Seriously, after exploding for 39 points against Memphis, Smart followed that up with 25- and 30-point performances against South Florida and Purdue, and left many in college basketball wondering if he had transformed into some sort of Space Jam Monstar in the offseason. The Oklahoma State point guard struggled in the Cowboys’ second match-up with Memphis, finishing with 12 points and two costly turnovers in a close game down the stretch. I’m not sure there’s another player in college basketball who seems to be better at harnessing his emotions in a positive way than Smart, so if there’s one thing worth betting on this season, it’s that the sophomore from Flower Mound, Texas, will find a way to bounce back quickly from a disappointing performance.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 M5: Cyber Monday Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on December 2nd, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. It’s no secret that a good portion of the country (myself included) has marveled at the eye-popping numbers Marcus Smart has put up this season for Oklahoma State. But Run The Floor’s Michael Rogner offers the other side of Smart’s play and gives a compelling argument as to why he might not be the leading candidate for National Player of the Year honors. Going into Sunday morning and the Cowboys’ rematch with Memphis, Smart had two games where he turned the ball over five times. His line last night: 12 points, 4-of-13 from the field (0-of-5 from three), four assists and five turnovers. Rogner might be on to something here.
  2. TCU is having a tough time in its first year-plus in the Big 12, but some of those troubles are out of their control. Stefan Stevenson of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports more injuries for the Horned Frogs in 2013-14. The most recent setback has to do with junior Amric Fields (12.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG), who suffered a broken hand in their loss to Harvard on Saturday and will be out for the next two to six weeks. This was only Fields’ fourth game of the year after missing all but three games last season due to knee surgery. Freshmen Brandon Parrish also suffered a sprained thumb in the Harvard loss and Hudson Price is recovering from a concussion. Both are listed as day-to-day. If Parrish and Price were both available for Thursday’s game vs. Mississippi State, Stevenson says TCU would have just seven scholarship players in uniform. If you’re a believer in a TCU turnaround, you’ll have to come to this realization: It’s hard to get a program off the ground if you don’t have the bodies to do it.
  3. Tonight’s Oklahoma-Mercer game is a homecoming of sorts for Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman. Hoffman, an Oklahoma City native, coached at Oklahoma Baptist in Shawnee, Oklahoma, where he accumulated 243 wins over a long tenure there. Then Hoffman headed to Southern Nazarene in Bethany to be the women’s basketball coach, where he won 88 more games. He was also an assistant at Oklahoma for Kelvin Sampson from 2004-06. If you rewind to last season’s conference tournaments, his Mercer team lost in the Atlantic Sun title game and as a result introduced Florida Gulf Coast to the college basketball world. In five-plus seasons, Hoffman has won 104 games at Mercer but might have trouble getting No. 105 against a Sooners team averaging nearly 88 points per game.
  4. In the last two seasons, Iowa State has been seen as a solid team that usually got hot late in conference play to surge into NCAA Tournament at-large bids. This season has gone a little differently: they’re hot early. The Cyclones have already scored a home win over then top-10 Michigan and persevered in a tough road environment against BYU. Heading into their Big 12/SEC Challenge match-up vs Auburn, Iowa State has had a week since its last game and Fred Hoiberg has decided to add plays to an already bulky playbook. It must be a nightmare as a Big 12 coach to game plan for a brand new Iowa State team every year, but to also be thrown off balance with the new wrinkles they use. It’s probably a good thing the other nine Big 12 coaches have quite a bit of patience on the sidelines.
  5. Former Kansas State and Maryland assistant Dalonte Hill has decided last week to resign from his post on Mark Turgeon’s staff. In October, Hill was charged with his third DUI in five years, dating back to his tenure working under Frank Martin. He took a leave of absence from the Terrapins to “focus on his personal life,” according to Turgeon, and this is probably the best move for Hill. He feels that he must help himself before he can help others again, and who’s to say he can’t? Hill’s only 34 years old and he’ll have plenty of time to jump back  into the coaching ranks whenever he feels like he’s ready to. All the best to him going forward.
Share this story

Feast Week Mission Briefing: Washington State in the Old Spice Classic

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 28th, 2013

With Feast Week tipping off over the weekend, we’re outlining the roads ahead for prominent Pac-12 teams involved in neutral site events this week. 

What They’ve Done So Far: Washington State has looked awful in the first three weeks of the season. After sneaking by Cal State Bakersfield on opening night, the Cougars handled Lamar with ease nine days later. They then made the short trip over to Spokane to face Gonzaga, where they were easily dispatched by the Bulldogs, 90-74. That wasn’t the low point, however. That came three days later in front of a sleepy home crowd at Beasley Coliseum, where lowly TCU came in and pulled off a stunning 64-62 upset.

Things Have Gone Poorly In This Pivotal Season For Head Coach Ken Bone

Things Have Gone Poorly In This Pivotal Season For Head Coach Ken Bone

First Round Preview: Washington State meets Butler in Lake Buena Vista on Thursday morning. The Bulldogs have started the season at 4-0 and their best win came in overtime against Vanderbilt last week. They feature as balanced an attack on the offensive end of the floor as you’ll see in this field, with both forward Khyle Marshall and guard Kellen Dunham averaging 15.8 PPG a piece. Where the Cougars have been struggling is on offense, and junior Alex Barlow will prove to be a pesky pain in the side for their guards. He’s averaging 2.0 SPG and recorded three of them in Butler’s game at Ball State last Saturday.

Potential Later Round Match-up: If the bracket holds, it looks like the Cougs will face Purdue on Friday and Siena on Sunday. These aren’t exactly opponents that will provide a huge boost to the RPI, making a possible upset of Butler even more important. The Boilermakers have opened the season at 5-1, but that record doesn’t look as good when you consider the fact that the best win came against Eastern Illinois. Everything goes through sophomore guard Ronnie Johnson for head coach Matt Painter, who is scoring at a 13.8 PPG clip and averaging 4.4 APG. Siena has opened the year at 2-4 with wins over St. Bonaventure and Cornell. It faces Memphis in its opener at the Old Spice Classic.

Outlook: While two wins may be possible, in all honesty the Cougars should be expecting one. Until Ken Bone’s guys show some resemblance of an offense, it’s going to be best to keep the expectations low in Pullman.

Share this story

Pac-12 Roundup: Week Two

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) and Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on November 26th, 2013

Out of the country? Living under a rock? Here’s what you missed in the second week of Pac-12 basketball.

Power Rankings (As voted upon by Connor Pelton, Andrew Murawa, and Adam Butler):  

  1. Arizona
  2. Oregon
  3. UCLA
  4. Arizona State
  5. Colorado
  6. California
  7. Stanford
  8. Oregon State
  9. Utah
  10. USC
  11. Washington
  12. Washington State
Jahii Carson Went Off On Tuesday In Las Vegas (Joe Nicholson)

Jahii Carson Went Off On Tuesday In Las Vegas. (Joe Nicholson)

Best Game – Arizona State @ UNLV: In a week where Harvard-Colorado was probably the second best Pac-12 game, Arizona State and UNLV provided greater drama. Intensity was high from the outset as both teams battled back and forth in the first 20 minutes. Neither team led by more than four points in the first half, and that was the margin when junior Deville Smith hit a jumper as time expired to put UNLV up by a score of 38-34. The crowd of over 12,000 was quieted with about five minutes remaining when the Sun Devils went on a critical 8-2 run to lead by seven, and Jahii Carson made sure the Devils stayed in front with a clutch jumper and two key free throws. When all was said and done, Carson had finished with 40 points and seven assists, a performance you may not see topped this year in conference play, and Arizona State left the Thomas & Mack Center with an 86-80 win to remain undefeated. The 5’10” sophomore also made 14 of his 16 buckets from the field at the rim, a ridiculous stat for someone of his stature.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story