Weekend takeaways: Rutgers snaps skid, why there may be hope for Duke and the way the virus shut Michigan down


Which crew had essentially the most essential win this weekend? What about these headed within the fallacious route? 9 ranked groups had been toppled, which continued a development previously week-plus that has seen many atop the game incapable of placing collectively important successful streaks. (Gonzaga and Baylor excluded.)

Listed here are my 10 takeaways from the weekend, the primary of which is a major off-the-court headline. 

1. Michigan state of affairs rings alarm bells

“There was concern, there may be concern and can be concern going ahead,” one league commissioner advised me only some days in the past. We had been discussing the slight likelihood of a pre-NCAA Event pause to the season on account of circumstances surrounding COVID-19.

The information out of Michigan late Saturday evening solely bolstered that unease. The state mandated that the College of Michigan “instantly pause athletic actions in all sports activities, together with video games, crew and particular person coaching classes, till additional discover and as much as 14 days.” The reason is that the B.1.1.7 variant of the coronavirus (generally known as the UK variant) was present in “a number of people linked to the U-M Athletic Division via its diligent testing regiment.” 

As a result of this variant is estimated to be 50% extra contagious than the extra dominant pressure, it rightfully has directors spooked — particularly since lots of of campuses throughout the nation now have college students again. Just a few of my sources posited this within the hours because the information broke: If it is at Michigan, it is already on different campuses or on its method to different campuses very quickly. 

“There is not any manner it is not going to finish up elsewhere,” one Huge Ten supply stated. “To assume that different faculties are going to finish up in an identical spot in some unspecified time in the future, I really feel it’ll be inevitable. I feel that is the larger story on this.” 

If that occurs, we would doubtless see different faculties implement near-identical shutdowns, which may have domino results on faculty basketball’s schedule. However we’re not there but. The excellent news is nationwide vaccination charges are trending up, north of 1 million every day, which can be essential to curb the unfold of a pressure that is confirmed to be extra transmissible. 

The timing of Saturday’s information is one other factor athletic administrators and directors are noting. Michigan felt assured at 4 p.m. Saturday to announce just a few rescheduled ladies’s basketball video games. Lower than six hours later the athletic division’s subsequent two weeks had been worn out. For Michigan’s 13-1, seventh-ranked males’s basketball crew that gained at Purdue on Friday, its subsequent 4 video games are postponed with no promise they’re going to be made up: at Penn State (Jan. 27), vs. Indiana (Jan. 30), at Northwestern (Feb. 3), vs. Michigan State (Feb. 6). 

2. All hope not misplaced for Duke

Mike Krzyzewski’s crew has dropped three straight after a 70-65 loss at Louisville. Duke lacks a Quad 1 win however there’s nonetheless time. In case you’re now utterly writing off the Blue Devils making the NCAAs, you are extra doubtless than to not finally be right. However let’s take a look at why it is not but dire. If — if — Duke can play its subsequent 5 video games as scheduled, the slate is variety. 4 of its subsequent 5 are at house. Right here is the lineup. Duke is the projected favourite in each recreation. Numbers are parentheses are every crew’s NET rating as of Sunday.

Georgia Tech is simply OK. Clemson is tailspinning. Miami cannot get absolutely wholesome. UNC will not be but a surefire NCAA Event crew, and Notre Dame is bottom-tier in a weak ACC. However as a result of each a type of video games is winnable for a down Duke crew, they will not present Quad 1 boosts. Nonetheless, if it will probably get to, say, 9-6 general with a 4-1 run in its subsequent 5 video games? Duke’s tourney possibilities is not going to appear practically as grave on Feb. 9 as they do now.

3. About that controversial Coach Ok quote

My colleague, Kyle Boone, was the one who first shared this postgame presser quote from Krzyzewski on Saturday evening. It went viral quickly thereafter. Jake Piazza, a scholar reporter for the Duke newspaper who opted to make the 16-hour roundtrip drive from Durham to Louisville, asks an anodyne query about the place this 5-5 crew goes from right here. As a result of “Duke is Duke” this video was ripe for widespread on-line dragging.

Krzyzewski goes on the defensive and tries to check dropping a aggressive basketball recreation as a crew to a scholar taking an enormous economics check. (The analogy is weak.) However Krzyzewski does have a degree: the coaches will want extra time than the 20 minutes following the top of this loss earlier than subsequent steps can absolutely be recognized. 

Nonetheless, the 73-year-old — who’s paid extra money to educate faculty basketball on an annual foundation than some other coach within the historical past of the game — had just a few totally different paths to take when answering that query and selected the fallacious one. Was it essentially the most offensive response? Positively not. There was some predictable performative outrage on Twitter over this, however Krzyzewski’s stated worse. Thirty years in the past Sports activities Illustrated detailed an embarrassing dress-down he gave to scholar reporters, in shock vogue, in entrance of the basketball crew. Krzyzewski way back developed a neighborhood fame for often being harsher than essential on scholar reporters (I’ve seen this firsthand as nicely). 

The Chronicle has produced many high-quality journalists over the many years, so in a bizarre manner being talked right down to by Ok is to earn a badge of honor. (This motif has been true at different faculties with sometimes-ornery coaches who’ve been God-ed up.) Was it an awesome query? No, but it surely’s additionally the actual query that skilled journalists ask coaches and gamers throughout all sports activities on a regular basis. It is a query Krzyzewski’s acquired earlier than. It is a faculty scholar. Learn the room (or on this case, learn the Zoom). Coach Ok is understood for his affinity to ship handwritten notes. He ought to take a while to make good and ship one to Piazza.

4. Invoice Self is never on this place

Like Duke, Kansas is nursing a three-game skid. No. 9 KU could not catch as much as Oklahoma on Saturday, happening 75-68. The win for OU was one that can finally guarantee it is safely within the NCAAs. However for Kansas, three straight video games within the L column is a rarity. That is simply the fifth three-game dropping streak in Invoice Self’s previous 26 seasons of teaching. And none of these led to a fourth consecutive defeat. Listed here are the others:

The 1994-95 season was Self’s final time experiencing 4 in a row on the fallacious finish. He was a 32-year-old second-year coach at Oral Roberts then. Barring a postponement or cancellation, a four-game dropping streak is not occurring. KU’s subsequent recreation is scheduled at house on Thursday towards so-so TCU

5. Ohio State undefeated vs. high finish of its schedule

One of many three most spectacular wins of Saturday was No. 15 Ohio State’s 74-62 win at Tenth-ranked Wisconsin. I spoke with Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann just a few days in the past and he was hopeful C.J. Walker can be again. That wound up being true, however the Buckeyes’ greatest level guard got here off the bench and wound up not even being wanted. Ohio State’s win marked the fourth time this season that it is beat a crew ranked within the high 15 on the time of the matchup. All these video games have ended with an Ohio State victory, all these video games with Ohio State being the underdog at tip. Maintain it in thoughts after we get to the NCAAs. Holtmann’s crew (a top-five offense within the sport) is exhibiting causes to belief it to make the second weekend of the Huge Dance.

The Buckeyes have confirmed to this point to play nice towards the most effective groups.

6. Rutgers‘ win greater than Indiana’s loss

Probably the most notable recreation from Sunday was the pressing Rutgers-Indiana matchup in Bloomington. Rutgers gained 74-70, snapping its longest dropping streak (5 video games) in virtually three years. Now the Scarlet Knights are 8-6 and at the very least have a path to establishing a case for Choice Sunday. If its subsequent three video games may be performed as scheduled, Rutgers has house vs. Michigan State, at Northwestern and residential towards Minnesota. Win two of these three and it will nonetheless be a good spot. This was a essential win for the Scarlet Knights. For Indiana, yeah the loss is a stinger. That crew’s nonetheless received a lot hill to climb to really feel protected about its March destiny, however coming off the win at Iowa, it is not as damaging because it in any other case would have been.

7. Maryland‘s bizarre resume

Each season I am at all times looking out for the 2 or three groups that invariably blossom by early February with a slate of outcomes that itch the thoughts. Maryland’s going to be a type of groups. The 9-7 Terps went into Seventeenth-ranked Minnesota and held the Gophers to a season-low 49 factors. Minnesota is an efficient offensive crew — it was averaging 76.5 factors in its earlier eight video games — and till Saturday was unbeatable at house.

Then Maryland walked in as if it had Juan Dixon and Lonnie Baxter on the roster. 

Mark Turgeon’s crew has zero high quality wins outdoors of league play. It is 3-6 within the Huge Ten. It is also 3-6 vs. Quad 1 competitors (and 0-1 in Quad 2) with the hardest energy of schedule, per NET calculations, within the sport. It should not be anyplace close to the NCAA tourney convo. And it largely is not, however that would change. Maryland has street wins over Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota, three top-30 KenPom groups. The Terps get their subsequent two at house vs. Wisconsin and Purdue. This crew is bizarre, and bizarre is nice. 

8. Stanford‘s win simply as large as Rutgers’

There have been 53 groups that gained on Saturday. I am undecided any of them had been extra relieved and elated on a collective molecular degree than Stanford. Oscar da Silva‘s heads-up minimize to the ring with 0.8 seconds to go — when the Cardinal (9-5) didn’t have a timeout after the earlier play was swatted out of bounds — gave Jerod Haase’s guys a 73-72 win in OT over UCLA (12-3). It was UCLA’s first loss in league play. 

It was Stanford’s ninth win of the season and improved the Cardinal to 5-3 within the convention. That is the crew’s most vital win via 14 video games. Have a look at it this manner: If Stanford takes just a few extra powerful losses however stays the course and it will get into the sector of 68, Saturday’s win may show to be the clincher. 

This is the most effective half: Stanford did this with out three of its high six gamers. Ziaire Williams opted to not play, in line with a supply, and Daejon Davis can be out on account of non-coronavirus causes. A 3rd starter, Bryce Wills, is simply too banged as much as play as nicely. To get this win with out three starters, nicely you may see how a lot it meant to the crew after da Silva (26 factors) was Johnny on the spot. 

Credit score to freshman Michael O’Connell for exhibiting endurance and making an ideal move. Stanford led for a lot of the sport, so it was a well-earned W for a crew that’s dwelling out of a resort, hasn’t been house in months and is scraping collectively a season as a result of Santa Clara County is not going to let any organized sports activities occur inside its borders. 

9. Clemson … good day?

Eight days in the past Clemson wakened as a top-15 crew with a 9-1 document and visions of successful the ACC for the second time in program historical past. 

Then Virginia apparently vanquished this crew’s spirit.

By way of margin of defeat, the No. 20 Tigers have worst three-game dropping streak for a ranked crew I can keep in mind. (Clemson is not going to be ranked when the polls refresh on Monday.) Kansas and Duke are within the midst of irritating three-game slides, however these look rosy in comparison with the horrors Clemson is enduring. The Tigers’ previous three video games have left them outscored by 72 factors, the latest being an 80-61 loss at FSU that at one level was a 69-31 affair. (Newsflash: FSU is basically good for the fifth yr in a row.) 

However the Tigers had been ranked No. 1 in defensive effectivity as of eight days in the past. Now they’re right down to No. 24. It is gorgeous. What a plunge. And it is all occurred because the crew got here off a 10-day COVID pause. The Tigers can and should get off the schneid Wednesday at house vs. Boston Faculty

10. Mizzou and Tennessee flip roles

On Dec. 30, Tennessee went into Missouri and beat the Tigers by 20 factors. Each groups entered that recreation undefeated. It was validation for the Vols and a back-to-earth second for Mizzou. On Saturday, the alternative. Cuonzo Martin’s No. 19 Tigers performed like somebody insulted their mom and took it to No. 6 Tennessee with a 73-64 upset to enhance to 10-2. Tennessee dropped a second straight recreation, and now at 4-3 within the SEC, might be not going to win the league title after being prematurely labeled because the overwhelming favourite when the calendar flipped to 2021. 

With Alabama‘s as-expected house win over Mississippi State on Saturday retaining the Tide undefeated within the SEC, Missouri is now the closest on the ledger. The Tigers have two league losses, placing them one recreation forward of Florida, LSU, Tennessee and Kentucky. That is with out debate Martin’s greatest Missouri crew but. 



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