Morning Five: 02.13.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 13th, 2014

morning5

  1. After legal haggling between the school, state, and the new AAC, Rutgers has agreed to pay $11.5 million as an exit fee to leave the AAC and join the Big Ten. The sum might seem fairly small compared to the numbers thrown around for other schools attempting to leave a conference, but it is worth noting that Rutgers had already announced its intention to join the Big Ten even before the AAC played its first game. We hope that other schools and conferences can reach relatively quick compromises as well, but realize that might be hoping for a little too much. At the very least these legal battles should not interfere with the school’s ability to compete.
  2. Speaking of conference realignment there is still one team that remains independent: New Jersey Institute of Technology. Unlike Notre Dame in football, which benefits from its ridiculous NBC contract and even more ridiculous BCS (or whatever they are calling it today) exemption, NJIT wants to join a conference. The school, which was once the laughing stock of Division I for its long losing streak has gained some measure of respectability in recent years so we would not be surprised to see a mid- to lower-tier conference in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic region add the school fairly soon.
  3. Normally Ken Pomeroy focuses his work on topics that might seem a little esoteric to the casual fan, but his latest post on how important home-court advantage is should be accessible to most fans even if the degree might strike them as a bit far. Pomeroy frames the post around Syracuse and Wichita State (the last two undefeated teams). Most observers would probably say that Syracuse is the better team and has played a tougher schedule. Pomeroy is not going to try to argue with that point, but thinks it is important to point out just how important home/road games are in determining how difficult games are. Of course, one can argue with Pomeroy’s win probabilities (we are not even going to try to get into the mathematics involved in coming up with those numbers), but it is an important point to consider as Selection Sunday draws near.
  4. Duke‘s more well-known men’s basketball team might not have been able to make the arduous trek to play North Carolina yesterday leading to the game being postponed until next week. The student managers for the two schools were able to meet for their game and the administrators at the two schools probably wish that they had not. Over the years there have been several (relatively) memorable moments in the game, but this year’s moment–a fight between the managers of the two schools–is one that the administration at both schools would prefer we all forget. The fight (all we have is a grainy video clip) might draw headlines, but should not be that much of a surprise for anybody who played intramural sports, which are often more violent than actual NCAA games.
  5. We might be ambivalent about the neutral sites for many of the early-season match-ups, but we love seeing teams play who might otherwise not agree to play at an opposing arena. Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis has been the driving force behind many of these events and his latest idea–creating a barnstorming tour in 2018–is one of the more unique ones that he has come up with. The four schools–Florida, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Texas–would play in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles then get a home game against an opponent that has not been determined yet. While the idea sounds a little crazy the schools have apparently signed off and we do not see any of the huge issues that we saw with his plan to have multiple games going on at the same time so we do not see why this event would not happen.
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Rush The Weekend: West Virginia Enters a Crucial Stretch

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 7th, 2014

There’s been no shortage of intrigue in the Big 12 this season. Whether you want to discuss Kansas’ future lottery picks and national title hopes, Texas’ resurrection, Baylor’s free-fall, Oklahoma State’s dive, or the resilience of Iowa State, you don’t have to look very far to find any of the nation’s biggest stories in college hoops; you could just look at this conference. But if all of those plot lines aren’t enough for you, yet another Big 12 team could muscle itself into the fray this weekend: the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Can Juwan Staten lead the Mountaineers back into tournament discussion? (AP Photo/Andrew Ferguson)

Will Juwan Staten lead the Mountaineers back into tournament discussion? (Andrew Ferguson/AP)

When Bob Huggins’ team wrapped up non-conference play back on December 29, it had very little to write home about. A handful of wins over bad teams kept them afloat, but there was no NCAA Tournament resume to speak of because of losses to the only relevant teams on their slate (Wisconsin, Missouri, Gonzaga, Purdue and Virginia Tech). Those defeats put them on the ropes earlier than many expected, and to boot, they dropped four of those games by seven points or less. When the calendar turned, they had a resume that was considerably worse than their statistical profile, which is something that you don’t see very often.

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RTC Top 25: Week Twelve

Posted by Walker Carey on February 3rd, 2014

This past week of college basketball was highlighted by a plethora of upsets – especially over the weekend when we saw six top 10 teams fall victim to the upset bug. Starting at the top, previously unbeaten and top-ranked Arizona suffered its first setback of the season Saturday evening when it was bested on the road by California. Previously 4th-ranked Kansas was also a road victim earlier in the day, as the Jayhawks were thoroughly outmanned in a defeat at the hands of Texas. Previously 6th-ranked Michigan State, a team that is suffering through well-documented injury issues, started its week off with a bang by winning in overtime at Iowa. But that victory proved to be the Spartans’ only positive tally of the week, as they fell to unranked Georgetown on Saturday in a non-conference game played at Madison Square Garden. Previously 7th-ranked Michigan entered Sunday’s game at Indiana as one of the hottest teams in America — the Wolverines had won 10 consecutive games and sat atop the Big Ten standings with an 8-0 record. None of that mattered in Bloomington though, as John Beilein’s team struggled offensively throughout a 63-52 defeat. Previously 9th-ranked Oklahoma State suffered what was probably the most puzzling loss of the week, as the Cowboys were bested at home on Saturday by a Baylor team that had lost six of its last seven games prior to Saturday. With February now in full swing, there is really not much that can be considered unexpected – especially with how this season has played out thus far – so you should expect even more shocking upsets moving forward as teams jockey for March position. The quick n’ dirty analysis of this week’s poll is after the jump.

rtc25 02.03.14

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Saturday Preview: Entering February, Stakes Are Raised

Posted by Bennet Hayes on February 1st, 2014

Hello February! College hoops welcomes you into 2014’s second month with a mouth-watering slate of action. You may be sold at “Duke-Syracuse,” but there will be plenty of games that don’t set Carrier Dome attendance records worth watching. That’s not to say that your college basketball fan credentials will be confiscated if you aren’t settling in to your couch for some ACC on ESPN action at 6:30 PM ET today – because they will be – but here are some other storylines to watch on the first day of February.

Perfection Will Be Tested

All Three Unbeatens Are In Action Saturday. With Visitors From Durham In Town, C.J. Fair And Syracuse Look To Be The Most Vulnerable Of The Trio.

All Three Unbeatens Are In Action Saturday. With Visitors From Durham In Town, C.J. Fair And Syracuse Look To Be The Most Vulnerable Of The Trio.

For the first time since 1976, there are three teams 20-0 or better in college basketball, and all three are in action on Saturday. Wichita State shouldn’t have any issues with Evansville (3-6 in the MVC) at The Roundhouse (3:00 PM ET, ESPNU), but both Arizona and Syracuse face serious threats to their dreams of perfection. The Wildcats visit Berkeley to take on a Cal team (10:30 PM ET, P12 Nets) which had been undefeated at home up until Wednesday, when Arizona State squeezed out an overtime win over the Bears. If Mike Montgomery’s team is to add the signature victory of all signature victories to its resume, they will need senior Richard Solomon to have a big game against that impressive Arizona frontcourt. All the way across the country, Duke would be well-served to find a way to match up with the impressive frontcourt of their undefeated opponent. The Blue Devils are not a great rebounding team, but in their game with Syracuse (6:30 PM ET, ESPN), keeping the Orange (ninth nationally in OR%) off the offensive glass will be imperative for Coach K’s squad. On the other end, look for Jabari Parker to get plenty of touches out of the high post. A record crowd is expected at the Carrier Dome for this one, which obviously sounds like good news for Syracuse. Maybe not, though. The last time there was an attendance record set at the dome (last February, versus Georgetown), a do-it-all 6’8” forward named Otto Porter torched the Orange for 33 points and eight rebounds in a lopsided victory for the visitors. Can Parker induce a little déjà vu on Saturday, and end Syracuse’s perfect season while he’s at it?

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Big 12 Saturday Preview

Posted by Kory Carpenter on February 1st, 2014

All 10 Big 12 teams are in action today, but we’re going to look at the three games with conference championship and NCAA Tournament implications. We’ll start with the nine-time defending conference champs, who travel to Austin.

Kansas (16-4, 7-0) at Texas (16-4, 5-2), 3:00 P.M. CST, ESPN

Oklahoma State Used a Strong Second Half to Beat Texas

Texas Hopes to Avoid a Foul Situation on Saturday

Try finding anyone who thought today’s game between Kansas and Texas would mean so much in the Big 12 regular season race. The Longhorns are the most surprising team in the conference this season and, barring a late-season meltdown, will make the NCAA Tournament after missing out last season. Kansas is looking to lock up their 10th Big 12 regular season title in a row with a win. It won’t be official, but a win would give the Jayhawks at least a three-game lead on everyone else with 10 games left. Not to mention 5 games remaining against TCU, West Virginia, and Texas Tech. It will be a story of offense vs defense as Kansas comes into the game with the #4 offense on kenpom.com while Texas is #20 in defense. The Longhorns are only three-point underdogs in this one and have been playing great lately, winning five straight. They’ve also been off since last Saturday, so expect them to be fresh and make this one close. Don’t be surprised if they hand Kansas its first conference loss today.

Oklahoma (17-4, 6-2) at Iowa State (15-4, 3-4) 3:00 P.M. CST, ESPN3

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What Does Rick Barnes’ Season Say About Coach of the Year Awards?

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 29th, 2014

One of the biggest stories around the Big 12 this season has been the revitalization of Texas basketball. The Longhorns came into this season with their coach on the hot seat, but now they’re 16-4 with wins over North Carolina, Iowa State, Kansas State and Baylor, and are currently on a five-game winning streak. That stretch includes consecutive victories over three ranked teams, but even if you discount that qualification with a more realistic evaluation of the then-overrated Bears, there’s still no doubt that Texas has played better than pretty much everyone predicted coming into the season. They were picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 back in October, so naturally, their performance has led some to consider throwing Rick Barnes’ name into the hat when it comes to Big 12 Coach Of The Year honors. But the more interesting debate here is what Barnes’ case says about what we believe the award should be about.

The intrigue over Rick Barnes' COY prospects is just as philosophical as it is practical. (Getty Images)

The intrigue over Rick Barnes’ COY prospects is just as philosophical as it is practical. (Getty Images)

The discussion has raised two camps. One contends that Barnes has done a fantastic job so far, given his limitations, and as such he should definitely be given consideration for the end-of-year honor. The Longhorns, along with Oklahoma, lead the pack trailing Kansas despite losing their top four scorers from last season. Barnes has rebuilt Texas in a style that emphasizes chemistry and is having success without the services of one-and-done talents like Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson. After a disappointing freshman season, Cameron Ridley is on the short list of the most improved players in the conference; Jonathan Holmes has turned the corner when Texas desperately needed him to do so; and Isaiah Taylor is third in scoring among Big 12 freshmen despite some ups and downs.

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Who Won The Week? A Nebraska Sharpshooter, the Wolverines, & Rick Barnes…

Posted by Kenny Ocker on January 24th, 2014

Who Won the Week? is a regular column that will outline and discuss three winners and losers from the previous week. The author of this column is Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker), a Spokane-based sportswriter best known for his willingness to drive (or bike!) anywhere to watch a basketball game. But he’s not biking anywhere with a sub-zero wind chill.

WINNER: Ethan Wragge

Creighton’s starting center/three-point assassin/reason why there’s no trees left in Nebraska had a performance for the ages Monday night at Villanova. The Wildcats thought it would be wise to double-team fellow Bluejay Doug McDermott – you know, the best player in college basketball – and left Wragge open. BAD. IDEA. Wragge came out and made his first seven three-pointers as the Jays shot the Wildcats to smithereens in a 96-68 game that was 90-50 before Greg McDermott’s team took its foot off the gas. Wragge wrapped up the game with 27 points on 9-of-14 three-point shooting, and also had the time to dish out three assists without a turnover. Creighton’s team stats from that game are almost as ridiculous as their bearded center’s: 33-of-58 shooting from the field, 21-of-31 from three-point range, 25 assists on the 33 made shots.

Ethan Wragge had a game to remember against Villanova. (AP)

Ethan Wragge had a game to remember against Villanova. (AP)

The Bluejays came into Monday night’s game ranked 13th  in Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency rankings and the Wildcats came in second. Because of Creighton’s ludicrous 1.4 points per possession against a team that had only given up more than a point per possession once in 17 games, the two teams flipped spots in the rankings, despite the college basketball season only half over. The difference between Creighton’s top-ranked offensive efficiency and Duke in second is equal to the difference between Duke and 16th-place Oregon. (Back to Wragge for a bit: Let’s just overlook Saturday’s eight-point performance in Creighton’s 81-68 loss versus Providence. He obviously had to save his three-pointers for a bigger game.)

(Related winners: Creighton; Providence, who also beat Butler on Tuesday; Doug McDermott, who still had 23 points despite the double-teams and the performance of Wragge. Related losers: Any voter who thought Creighton wasn’t worth ranking because of neutral-court losses to George Washington and San Diego State, and a road loss to a 14-5 Providence team; Villanova, for which there’s not enough ice left on the north pole to soothe its burns.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Big 12 M5: 01.24.14 Edition

Posted by Kory Carpenter on January 24th, 2014

morning5_big12

  1. As Bill Self points out and Jesse Newell of the Topeka Capital-Journal expands upon hereKansas has one of the best offenses in the country but there is still room for improvement. “Although[the offense] has been good, it hasn’t been like what it can be, and so I’m not too excited,” Self told Newell recently. Self is right. The Jayhawks were going to have a really good offense this season because Self is one of the best coaches in the country and the roster is stacked with future pros, but turnovers could be their downfall in March.
  2. Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Johnson has a good piece about Texas head coach Rick Barnes and the defense his team has been playing this season. It has kept them in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid and cooled the seat Barnes was sitting on. As Johnson points out, the Longhorns are allowing just 0.81 points per possession in their halfcourt defense this season. They don’t have enough offensive firepower to consistently outscore teams, but they can hang with anybody in the league with a defense like that.
  3. We may be getting closer to a resolution in the twisting, turning saga of Bubu Palo and the school’s efforts to keep him off the team. The Iowa Supreme Court has denied the Board of Regents’ request for an immediate stay on a ruling that reinstated Palo to the Cyclones while an appeal with the district court is settled. The details are somewhat complicated, but this latest development means that for now, Palo is formally a member of the team. It’s worth pointing out that head coach Fred Hoiberg is under no obligation to work him back into Iowa State’s plans, even as the team has suffered a funk of late. Still, while Palo isn’t considered a dynamic player on the court, the evolution of his case could mean big things in determining whether membership on a college sports team is a privilege or a right, and which entities have the authority to make such a determination.
  4. Videos of seldom-used players messing around in their gyms and hitting trick shots aren’t anything new, but Oklahoma walk-on James Fraschilla brings something different to the table. Fraschilla brings in a few special guests for his latest clip, including teammate Ryan Spangler and Sooner quarterback Trevor Knight. Most importantly, Fraschilla wraps up the video with a suggestion that viewers contribute to Hayden’s Hope, a charity started by ESPN personality Dari Nowkah which raises awareness for pediatric organ donation. It’s always nice to see students doing good, and we definitely encourage our readers to check out the video for yourself and give whatever you can to the cause.
  5. As the adage goes, shooters are gonna shoot. That was the key for Terry Henderson, who helped West Virginia snap a three-game losing skid on Wednesday by scoring 28 points to escape against Texas Tech. The Mountaineers will look for Henderson to bring the hot hand with him to Stillwater when West Virginia takes on Oklahoma State tomorrow afternoon. WVU needs a marquee win in the worst way, and Henderson will need his teammates just as much as they need him.
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Big 12 Bubble Watch: Texas is Here to Stay

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 23rd, 2014

Want a good laugh? Take a look at our Big 12 Bubble Watch from six weeks ago. Look at how gaudy those early season records were! Sigh, we were only kids then. But now is a lot different. Kansas appears headed for another Big 12 championship while early favorites Baylor and Iowa State are struggling to find themselves in conference play. Kansas State has turned around what could have been a disaster of a season following a co-Big 12 title last year. Oklahoma State is very much in the conversation for dethroning the Jayhawks and Rick Barnes’ Texas Longhorns continue to surprise us game after game.

(Ed. Note: While it was unclear in December who would win the Big 12, at least now we have a good enough sample size to project a team to take the conference’s automatic bid. For this particular scenario, that Big 12 champion is Kansas. Not considered in this Bubble Watch were TCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia.) 

Rick Barnes has coached himself back into the Texas job this season. I'm sure I could have phrased that better. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Rick Barnes has coached himself back into the Texas job this season. I’m sure I could have phrased that better. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

In Very Good Shape

Oklahoma State: 15-3 (3-2); RPI: 12, SOS: 38

Analysis: It seemed like the world would come crashing down when Michael Cobbins went down with a season-ending Achilles injury and the Stevie Clark situation(s) flared up, but it wasn’t so. Marcus Smart is still doing Marcus Smart things and did you know Phil Forte is connecting on half of his three-pointers this season (53-for-106)? Seriously. Oklahoma State managed to be a few possessions from winning at both Kansas State and Kansas (and for that matter, a few possessions from losing at West Virginia). While having Memphis and Colorado as good non-conference wins, nice RPI and SOS numbers, no bad losses, and the rough part of their schedule still to come, Travis Ford’s team has plenty of chances to add to its portfolio.

Iowa State: 14-3 (2-3); RPI: 10, SOS: 11

Analysis: Surprised to see these guys here? The Cyclones’ struggles have been well-documented and their chances at a Big 12 regular season title are dwindling, but there is still a lot going right for this team. Remember that win over Michigan in mid-November? Its luster started to fade but the Mitch McGary-less Wolverines have re-entered the Big Ten title race with consecutive wins at Wisconsin and against Iowa. Speaking of the Hawkeyes, Iowa State beat them last month as well. At this point in the season, the difference between the Cyclones and Baylor is their head-to-head match-up in Ames where Fred Hoiberg’s team took them out with ease. What will be interesting to see from the Cyclones now will be how they deal with DeAndre Kane’s minutes. He’s played 35 minutes or more in every Big 12 game while battling an ankle injury. Will Hoiberg try to work Bubu Palo, who was placed back on the team by a county judge, into the rotation to supplant Kane? We shall see.

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Big 12 M5: 01.23.14 Edition

Posted by Kory Carpenter on January 23rd, 2014

morning5_big12

  1. It seems like every year now Baylor has the look of a team that can challenge for the Big 12 regular season title. And every year the Bears fall off somewhere around this time. They were ranked No. 7 in the country not too long ago but are now losers of three straight. “It’s the No. 1-ranked conference in the country, so it’s a grind,” head coach Scott Drew told John Werner of the Waco Tribune. “We’re five games into it and we’re on the upward swing, so hopefully we can keep that going.” The Bears’ next chance to get out of its current rut comes Saturday at home against Texas.
  2. John Helsley of The Oklahoman asks a good question about Oklahoma State here: Is a six-day layoff after Saturday’s loss at Kansas a good or bad thing? He makes compelling cases for both answers, but we won’t know what the correct one is until the Cowboys play West Virginia at home on Saturday. The Pokes are in a Saturday-Monday rotation for their next five games, so perhaps a routine will do Oklahoma State some good.
  3. As Kyle Ringo of Yahoo! Sports points out, not many people expected Texas to be playing as well as the Longhorns are this season. Rick Barnes lost just about all the talent he had from last year’s team, and that group of Longhorns wasn’t a great team anyway. But here they are a year later, sitting at 15-4, 4-2 in Big 12 play, and in a good position to make the NCAA Tournament this season. But will they keep it up?
  4. Kansas State was in sole possession of second place in the Big 12 not very long ago. But then Tuesday’s game at Texas happened, and the Wildcats are suddenly tied with three other schools in that spot. Texas forward Jonathan Holmes nailed a last-second three-pointer to give the Longhorns a 67-64 win and a tie for second place. Like Sean Keeler of FoxSportsKansasCity.com said, “Gotta let it go.” There’s no shame in losing a close game on the road, but come Selection Sunday, Tuesday’s loss could be one that the Wildcats point to as one that cost them on the seed line.
  5. Bill Self likes toughness. He has noted that his favorite picture is from the 2008 Final Four against North Carolina, a snapshot where two Jayhawks (Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson) dive on the floor for a loose ball with both hands while the Tar Heels’ players brace themselves for the fall. So it’s no surprise that he loved Wayne Selden‘s dive into the stands to save a loose ball  — and eventually getting an assist — on Monday night against Baylor. “He gives us an air of toughness,” Self told Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. “Certainly when he’s going after the ball like that, we become a much better team because it’s contagious.”
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Big 12 Power Rankings: The Schedule Gauntlet Continues

Posted by Taylor Erickson on January 21st, 2014

Another week goes by in the gauntlet that is the Big 12, as the league strives to establish its claim as the top conference in all of college basketball with six spots in the latest AP poll. Kansas continues to play very well, having navigated its incredibly difficult stretch to begin conference play unscathed, and managing to build a two-game lead on every team other than Kansas State. Speaking of the Wildcats, with road games at Texas and Iowa State this week, we’ll soon have a much better idea of how legitimate Bruce Weber’s squad really is. Iowa State has stumbled after a strong start, and unfortunately its schedule won’t be any easier with its next four games coming against ranked teams. The middle of the league continues to look like a logjam, with four schools – Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor, and Texas – all ranked between 39th and 44th by Ken Pomeroy.

After dropping three in a row, Naz Long and Iowa State are left searching for answers.

After dropping three in a row, Naz Long and Iowa State are left searching for answers.

Here’s a look at how our Big 12 contributors – Kory CarpenterBrian Goodman, and Taylor Erickson – rank each school heading into the third full week of conference play.

1. Kansas — 3 points (previous: 1st; Brian-1st, Kory-1st, Taylor-1st)

Comment: “Bill Self’s team hasn’t taken very good care of the ball in its last three games, but you always prefer to learn those lessons while winning, as the Jayhawks have. If Kansas puts it all together — and chances are they will — look out.” – Brian Goodman

2. Oklahoma State — 6 points (previous: 3rd; Brian-2nd, Kory-2nd, Taylor-2nd)

Comment: “Yes, they lost to Kansas State, but the Cowboys are a better team and have a higher ceiling than the Wildcats. Their second half against Kansas Saturday showed us they can play with anyone in spurts.” – Kory Carpenter

3. (Tie) Iowa State — 11 points (previous: 2nd; Brian-3rd, Kory-5th, Taylor-3rd)

Comment: “The Cyclones are reeling after dropping three in a row, learning life on the road in the Big 12 is brutal. They have a full week off before taking on Kansas State at home next weekend. A dose of Hilton Coliseum might be exactly what is needed to get DeAndre Kane and company back on track.” – Taylor Erickson

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Big 12 M5: 01.16.14 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 16th, 2014

morning5_big12

  1. The Big 12 is one of the two best conferences in the country, so it comes as no surprise that a handful of players from the league made The Sporting News’ midseason All-American teams, which were released on Wednesday. Marcus Smart cracked TSN‘s first team, while Andrew Wiggins and DeAndre Kane made the second and third teams, respectively. The absence of Joel Embiid is a testament to the quality of the top-shelf individual talents around college basketball, but with half a season left, there’s plenty of time for the heralded phenom to make himself a bigger part of the discussion.
  2. With this June’s NBA Draft being hyped as perhaps the best since 2003, NBA scouts are constantly on the move from venue to venue to get a close look at the next wave of pros. DraftExpress gave us a peek behind the curtain of how scouts take in college games, surveying personnel and executives on their experiences and how they develop relationships with prospect-laden programs. It’s a fascinating look at which schools are most accommodating to scouts and which ones leave more to be desired, as well as the prolonged effects of something as seemingly small as being given a sub-optimal seat at a college game. As far as the Big 12 is concerned, Kansas, Baylor and Iowa State were cited as having the most welcoming support staffs for pro personnel, while the setups and Oklahoma State and Texas drew ire for a relative lack of hospitality.
  3. In by far the biggest upset of conference play so far, Texas Tech topped Baylor in Lubbock last night, 82-72. What was most surprising about the Red Raiders’ effort was that the team wasn’t the least bit fazed by the Bears’ zone, attacking the paint with alacrity and getting offensive rebounds when their initial shots didn’t fall. Baylor made a few small runs in the second half, but never got it close. Dejan Kravic led the way with a great all-around game, posting 14 rebounds, nine boards and six assists off the bench. Baylor was never as good as its 12th-ranked spot in the ESPN poll suggested, but this is a bad loss for the Bears, even on the road. The conference as a whole benefits, since the victory catapulted Texas Tech from 103rd to 90th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. The Big 12 now has nine of its ten teams in KenPom’s top 100.
  4. In recent years, alternate uniforms have played a key role in generating buzz for schools, whether it’s among the fan bases or on the recruiting trail. Kansas has sported two distinct throwback threads this season, and during Bill Self‘s weekly radio show, the head coach announced that Kansas’ alternate uniforms will be kept in the rotation for next season. The announcement is somewhat surprising, given the Jayhawks’ reputation as a blue-blooded program with a very distinct yet classic look that doesn’t change very often, but in the currently competitive landscape, teams have to keep up with one another. As long as the Jayhawks continue to win in the new unis, it’s tough to foresee much resentment from the fans.
  5. Jeff Haley of Burnt Orange Nation breaks down advanced metrics about as well as anyone, and he has some interesting insights about Texas‘ last two games and about the Big 12 in general. One nugget that seems to be flying under the radar is about the Longhorns’ strength on the glass, which has allowed them to pull out some games they otherwise wouldn’t have won. Rick Barnes‘ team is one to keep an eye on as we advance into the heart of conference play, and they’ll likely need a scalp or two from the top tier of the conference to crack the NCAA Tournament field this year.
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