Weekend takeaways: SEC/Huge 12 Problem proves want for extra nonconference video games later in common season


Alabama, Florida State, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

These eight groups, all of whom at present sit within the AP Prime 25, misplaced this weekend. That is simply the beginning of what we have witnessed over the previous 36 hours. Listed below are my 10 takeaways from the final weekend of school basketball in January.

1. SEC/Huge 12 Problem is so refreshing

The SEC/Huge 12 Problem began in 2014, and it is created nice late-January video games through the years; my journey to Lawrence, Kansas, in 2016 to see Kentucky vs. KU stays a top-10 spotlight to this point in my CBS profession. Faculty basketball’s huge conferences ought to try to do extra of this — to schedule non-league matchups in late January or early February as a approach to boost the game. Till then, at the least we’ve got this.

On Saturday we noticed enormous wins, thrilling finishes and surprising scores. The SEC gained 5-4 this 12 months (no Texas-Kentucky recreation). I’ve saved a couple of particular takeaways for greater matchups, however I am going to shortly contact on two right here:

  • Baylor predictably ran away from Auburn 84-72. BU’s guards had an exquisite collective efficiency, whereas Auburn freshman star Sharife Cooper realized lots about what an awesome workforce seems to be like. He was held to fifteen factors on sub-50% capturing.
  • Missouri dodged catastrophe by successful 102-98 at house in OT vs. TCU. The Tigers trailed by 10 late, then obtained bizarre and hit 4 3s in a two-minute span to drive the bonus session. In early December this recreation is a nothing burger. However within the context of Mizzou’s season now, because it pushes for a top quality seed? That rather more pressing. 
  • Cade Cunningham hit the successful shot for Oklahoma State to get the Pokes previous Arkansas. The Hogs might have actually used this win. As an alternative, OSU offers an increasing number of credence to the Huge 12 being a seven-bid league.  

2. Cease underrating and overlooking Oklahoma 

No. 24 Oklahoma ended No. 9 Alabama’s 10-game successful streak by pulling off a 66-61 house victory regardless of not having starter Austin Reaves and reserve Alondes Williams, each of whom sat as a consequence of COVID-19 protocol. The Sooners locked down Bama, stopping the Tide from hitting a area aim within the ultimate four-plus minutes of the sport — a feat no different workforce could duplicate towards Nate Oats’ squad this season. Oklahoma’s win, in response to ESPN’s analysis, marks the primary time since 1974 {that a} workforce can declare 4 regular-season wins towards top-10 foes in the identical month. OU already beat Kansas, Texas and West Virginia in January, the previous two instantly previous Saturday’s Tide takedown. 

It is simple to miss this Sooners workforce, however inside the context of this season — and the angle of the previous decade — the Sooners are due way more recognition. Do you understand that Lon Kruger’s had an NCAA Match workforce all however two seasons since he arrived a decade in the past? It is no shock why OU does not obtain extra love. Until Buddy Hield is successful Participant of the 12 months or Trae Younger is successful Freshman of the 12 months, the Sooners get misplaced within the shuffle. Possibly that adjustments this season. I caught up with Oklahoma assistant Carlin Hartman (a rising star who needs to be working a program of his personal quickly sufficient) to get extra perception on what’s occurring. 

“Each couple of of years you are going to get a very good, program-changing sort of participant, however for probably the most half we have carried out it with guys which can be perhaps underneath the radar,” Hartman mentioned. “However anybody that involves our program goes to be somebody who suits the mould of the college. I believe that is the place the consistency is available in. Recruiting the correct guys and as soon as they get right here they know that it is simply not concerning the two hours that we’ve got inside the apply time we spend. We recruit guys that love the sport, love the method, that get within the further time on their very own. That is in all probability the most effective collective of men we have had for the reason that Closing 4 run.”

And it is largely transfers and lower-rated gamers relationship again to their highschool days. Oklahoma’s highest-rated former recruit is De’Vion Harmon, who was the Forty seventh-ranked participant within the 247 Composite for the category of 2019. This workforce is sweet sufficient to be a Closing 4 darkish horse. 

No workforce can declare a greater three-game streak this season than what OU simply did: vs. No. 15 Kansas, at No. 5 Texas, vs. No. 9 Alabama. The Sooners are within the midst of a gauntlet. A street tilt vs. Texas Tech awaits on Monday, then Baylor, West Virginia and a Tech rematch come between Feb. 10-16. 

“We don’t speak about it,” Hartman mentioned about this hellish stretch. “Coach Kruger does not even help you suppose past the second. He so good and so calm and all about our guys getting higher each single day.”

Kruger is so quiet that it makes it too handy to miss him and this program. Kansas is the Huge 12 blue blood. Baylor is likely to be the most effective workforce within the sport this season. West Virginia is coached by Bob Huggins. Texas Tech made the newest nationwide championship recreation with stock-riser Chris Beard. Texas and Shaka Good are a straightforward promote. And even Oklahoma State has the potential No. 1 decide within the 2021 draft. Oklahoma will get misplaced within the combine.

“I do not know if he’ll ever really get his simply due, however as a result of he is so un assuming and he does not need the fanfare and does not ask for it, we’ll be a program that flies underneath the radar,” Hartman mentioned. 

3. Michigan State‘s NCAA tourney streak in enormous hassle

Sunday’s largest draw was Michigan State-Ohio State. The Spartans, who got here off COVID pause lower than per week in the past, had been tending to gaping wounds brought on by their 67-37 loss at Rutgers on Thursday. The Thirteenth-ranked Buckeyes supplied an pressing matchup. MSU wasn’t anticipated to win, however it had the chance to do it; MSU had gained the earlier 5 between these two. 

Michigan State failed the take a look at, enjoying catch-up from concerning the 12-minute mark of the primary half and misplaced 79-62. The Spartans have now misplaced six of eight and are 2-6 within the Huge Ten. MSU sits at 8-6 and on Monday will fall out of the highest 100 within the NET. It is bizarro to contemplate the Huge Ten might have 10 NCAA Match bids, but a Tom Izzo-coached workforce is not included in that group. It certain looks as if that is the place we’re headed. 

Put the Spartans alongside Kentucky: these March regulars aren’t making the NCAA Match. Izzo’s streak of taking Sparty to each NCAA Match since 1998 (22 straight) goes to finish until one in every of two issues occur: 1) Michigan State finds magic in a bottle and wins the Huge Ten auto bid, or 2) this workforce pulls off the most effective in-season turnaround of Izzo’s profession. The primary appears extra probably than the second. An irritated Iowa group awaits on Tuesday, so good luck. 

4. Duke‘s event streak nonetheless up within the air

One week in the past on this takeaways house I instructed you that every one hope was not misplaced for then-.500 Duke. The Blue Devils gained their subsequent two video games — which they had been favored in — vs. Georgia Tech and Clemson. The Clemson victory on Saturday was a press release: 79-53, the workforce’s greatest win by means of 12 contests this season. Duke tied a season-high with 20 assists. It is nonetheless not projected to make the NCAA Match, however Mike Krzyzewski’s workforce has a shot. If it makes it to the Dance, maybe reverberations from this win will probably be an enormous purpose. Subsequent up is at Miami on Monday. Duke had 5 gamers in double figures, the play of the sport being this poster from freshman Jalen Johnson

5. Michigan would possibly’ve gained the Huge Ten this weekend

A top-three matchup of the weekend went down Friday night time. No. 19 Illinois held off No. 7 Iowa in a enjoyable, ragged affair that featured 22 lead adjustments and eight ties. Illinois gained 80-75 in the one scheduled recreation between these two this 12 months. Ayo Dosunmu had 25 factors, 19 of which got here within the first half. Dosunmu’s a top-10 participant, a actuality predicted within the preseason. He is additionally simply one in every of two gamers placing up at the least 20 factors, six boards and 4 assists on a nightly foundation. (Northern Arizona‘s Cameron Shelton the opposite.)

The Iowa loss dropped at mild the truth that a proficient Hawkeyes workforce is nonetheless looking for extra legitimacy in its résumé. Iowa is 3-3 vs. Quad 1 opponents and 6-4 vs. Quad 1 and a couple of foes. Illinois’ win knocked Iowa to 6-3 within the Huge Ten, which supplies Michigan a two-game lead within the loss column. The Wolverines are on COVID-19 precautionary pause (nobody has examined optimistic just lately, however the UK-strain variant has been detected inside the athletic division), that means their subsequent recreation is not till Feb. 11 on the earliest. 

With a lowered variety of video games for Michigan its cushion within the Huge Ten is that a lot softer. Wisconsin’s probabilities of vying for the league title went poof after the Badgers had been lackluster (81-71) at Penn State, dropping to the Nittany Lions for the primary time in virtually 10 years. Iowa and Illinois are the one groups at current inside reaching distance. The Wolverines are scheduled to play at house vs. the Illini of their first recreation again, on Feb. 11, and have their solely recreation vs. Iowa this season additionally scheduled at house (March 4). It might be a shock if Michigan does not end atop the convention ledger.   

Ayo Dosunmu and Illinois nabbed a much-needed win over Iowa on Friday.
USATSI

6. Florida will probably be within the NCAAs

The Gators grabbed as necessary a win as anybody after strolling into West Virginia’s home and pulling off an 85-80 upset. That is 4 straight for Mike White’s workforce; Florida hasn’t gained 5 video games in a row in virtually two years. Saturday’s W was huge, and now the Gators have roadies towards LSU and Tennessee within the subsequent 11 days. Florida ahead Colin Castleton is under no circumstances underrated within the SEC at this level, however he might be on the verge of a nationwide breakout in February. Castleton had 21 factors, seven rebounds and 5 blocks, and was the distinction through which workforce gained and which workforce didn’t.

Frankly, it was a bit shocking to see Florida face up to WVU’s physicality by persistently displaying loads of its personal. Noah Locke added 19 factors through 4 3-pointers that proved important. At this level I am trusting UF to do what must be carried out to finally get its identify referred to as on Choice Sunday, however the end result scope is huge. I would enterprise the ceiling is a No. 5 seed and the ground is a No. 11. 

7. Mac McClung has All-American potential

Texas Tech stole a win at LSU. 

Put Mac McClung on the WANTED poster. 

The Purple Raiders had been down seven with a minute remaining and proceeded to go on a 12-0 closing run to flip the sport, win 76-71 and provides McClung his newest spotlight reel to contemplate for All-American standing. The junior capturing guard is averaging 17.5 factors, capturing 51% from 2-point vary and 36% from 3. McClung drained a triple with 59 seconds to go, then obtained one other 28 seconds later. But it surely was his poke-free steal that landed in Terrence Shannon Jr.‘s fingers to get TTU excessive with 23 seconds left. Shannon had 23 and 10. McClung ended with 22 factors, 5 rebounds, two steals.

Texas Tech is 12-5, LSU 11-5.

The sport was McClung’s fourth straight with at the least 20 factors. If he wasn’t on the roster Texas Tech can be a bubble workforce. However his transformation from fledgling star at Georgetown to all-around stud at TTU has been a must-see story in school basketball this season. McClung is a top-20 participant at this stage and has a shot at Second or Third Workforce A-A standing in March. 

8. Kansas monitoring towards worst seed in many years

No. 15 Kansas was pasted 80-61 by 18th-ranked Tennessee, the loss so poor that the Jayhawks would possibly fall out of the polls Monday. At 11-6, let’s bump KU down one seed line from Jerry Palm’s most up-to-date projection. That places Invoice Self’s squad as a No. 5 seed.

If that seed holds — or will get worse — will probably be Kansas’ worst in many years; KU has by no means been worse than a No. 4 since Self arrived. What’s extra, this system has made the NCAAs each season since 1990, which is the longest streak in historical past. Below Self, since 2003-04, Kansas’ common seed within the Huge Dance is 2.0. For this system since ’90, it is 2.3. Solely twice previously three many years have the Jayhawks been worse than a No. 4: a No. 6 seed in 1999 and an 8 in 2000. 

However this 12 months will probably be completely different. Kansas’ spot within the event will look misplaced; we’re not used to seeing this program aligned subsequent to a 5, 6 or 7 on a bracket. The upside: Kansas seems destined to enter the NCAAs with much less strain and expectation than every other 12 months this century. Maybe the underdog position might swimsuit this college effectively. On this 30-plus 12 months run of constructing each NCAA tourney, KU has by no means had greater than 10 losses in a season. Will that streak be capable of proceed this 12 months? If it does, will probably be as a result of mercy of a lowered schedule in a pandemic-affected season. 

9. ACC topples its personal desk

The ACC had a type of wacky weekends. Let’s begin on the prime: No. 7 Virginia was outscored by 22 factors within the second half at No. 20 Virginia Techtying for the worst second-half exhibiting by margin in Tony Bennett’s UVA tenure. The Wahoos had their 15-game ACC successful streak finish and took their first league loss. What made it weird was UVA blowing a double-digit lead and surrendering a 19-0 run Hokies run. VT didn’t have its second-leading scorer, Tyrese Radford, however it was irrespective of as a result of Keve Aluma had 29 and 10.

Extra intrigue: Previous to the Virginia loss on Saturday, Florida State obtained carried out in by Georgia Tech 76-65. It was a season-sustaining win for the Yellow Jackets, who’ve gained six of eight. However UVA had a shot to take a stranglehold two-game lead on the convention as a result of Seminoles’ no-show in Atlanta. As an alternative, that is the highest of the ACC:

Virginia 7-1
Virginia Tech 7-2
Florida State 6-2

The ACC may be very a lot up for grabs. All instructed, as a result of Duke and Georgia Tech gained, it was weekend for the league. And but: Pitt was flattened at house by a nasty Notre Dame workforce 84-58. The 8-5 Panthers dropped a 3rd straight recreation and despatched their NCAA Match hopes into the center of the lake.

10. Jay Wright shares John Chaney recollections

John Chaney’s demise on Friday prompted sport-wide mourning in school hoops. However there is just one particular person actively teaching who is aware of what it is wish to be a decade-long face of school basketball in Philadelphia: Jay Wright, who spent Saturday morning studying myriad tributes and obituaries. For about 15 years, Chaney was the profitable embodiment of school hoops within the Metropolis of Brotherly Love. That honor went unclaimed for a couple of years after his retirement in 2006, however it did not take lengthy for Wright to have it bestowed upon him. 

So I requested Wright on Saturday, following Villanova‘s 80-72 win at Seton Corridor, how his impressions of Chaney modified from when he was a younger assistant at Drexel and Villanova within the mid-Eighties in comparison with when Chaney left the occupation 15 years in the past. Within the 1987-88 season, Temple made it to No. 1. Villanova was a top-20 workforce that season too, and Wright again then was reducing his enamel as an assistant the place he is now gained two nationwide titles.

“He was bigger than life after I was a participant and assistant coach,” Wright mentioned. “As an assistant coach, I used to be intimidated and in awe of him. And after I got here again as a head coach, and he was nonetheless the top coach at Temple, I used to be nonetheless intimidated and in awe of him. And we had some battles after I first obtained right here that weren’t fairly, however off the court docket we would have our Huge 5 dinners with the Huge 5 coaches and our wives. We would depart there, my spouse, Patti, would say, ‘Oh, he is so candy. I like John.’ I am considering, ‘I do not know, he was candy tonight …  however whenever you compete with him, man.’ However, actually, he would neglect the competitors within the offseason wherever he’d see you. He was very variety, and any time we made an NCAA run he at all times referred to as me and was at all times actually supportive. And you can inform he was happy with Villanova representing Philadelphia basketball. He took nice pleasure in Philadelphia basketball. I realized that from him.”

Wright mentioned Chaney is as extremely regarded in Philadelphia as any head coach who made it in that city, irrespective of the game. 

“I want I had a greater vocabulary to explain how huge he’s and revered,” Wright mentioned. “He’s in Philadelphia, and I suppose, having a four-hour TV present on Christmas Eve night time that everyone watched, I’ve by no means heard of every other sports activities determine that did that. And everybody liked it. I watched it. He is an unimaginable man.”

Chaney completed his profession with 741 wins throughout D-II and D-I, with 516 wins in Philly at Temple. Wright is 139 general wins behind him (602-268 report) and desires 35 extra wins with Villanova to get to 517 in his profession.





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