Tag:Iowa State
Posted on: March 3, 2012 3:04 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 11:02 pm
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Poppin' Bubbles: Statement time for bubblers

Iowa State answered all remaining questions about its at-large candidacy with a win over Baylor. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Saturday is not just for Duke vs. North Carolina and a trio of conference championship games. The final weekend of the regular season has bubble implications galore. There are intriguing bubble battles, chances for bubble teams to get big wins and other spots where bubble teams just simply can’t lose if they want an at-large bid. For some teams, losing might mean their hopes are dashed even before the conference tournament.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

Locking things up

Memphis: The Tigers are all set after clinching the outright Conference-USA regular-season title with a win at Tulsa on Saturday. They finished the conference season with a 13-3 record, have a top-20 RPI and SOS, and own nine top-100 victories. They could wear home jerseys for the first round of the NCAA tournament at this point.

Saint Louis: The Billikens essentially clinched things with their win over Xavier earlier in the week, but avoiding a loss at Duquesne – without head coach Rick Majerus – on Saturday cements things even more. There aren’t any truly marquee wins, but an 8-4 record against the top 100 and a top-30 RPI will get the job done.

Iowa State: If there was any debate about whether the Cyclones would get an at-large bid, it ended on Saturday, when Iowa State knocked off Baylor to clinch the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament. They now have four top-50 wins, including victories over Kansas and a sweep of Kansas State. The soft non-conference schedule was a question mark for a bit, but there's no keeping out Iowa State anymore.

Helped itself

West Virginia picked up a big bubble win by defeating South Florida. (AP)

West Virginia: The Mountaineers had the biggest bubble win in the first few hours of Saturday, going into South Florida and knocking off the Bulls in the final minutes. The win gets West Virginia to .500 in the Big East, and is their fourth top-50 win of the season. The bubble pecking order in the conference is completely up in the air, but two wins in the Big East tournament would likely get a bid for West Virginia.

Connecticut: The Huskies simply couldn’t lose to Pittsburgh on Saturday, unless they had plans to make a run to the Big East title game. It wasn’t pretty, but Connecticut pulled out a win in the final two minutes. 8-10 in the Big East doesn’t look great, but the Huskies have five top-50 wins, including victories over fellow bubblers South Florida, Seton Hall and West Virginia. The No. 2-ranked SOS is also a huge plus. They will need a couple of wins in the Big East tourney as well.

Dayton: Beating George Washington isn’t going to get the Flyers in the dance, but it keeps their hopes alive heading into the conference tournament. They have three top-30 RPI wins over Temple, Alabama and Saint Louis, as well as a win over bubbler Xavier. Nine top-100 wins are more than most bubble teams can say. On the negative side, the computer profile is mediocre and they have three sub-100 losses. They might need a marquee win in the A-10 tournament; could that mean a trip to the title game?

Cincinnati: For the first time in nearly a decade, the Bearcats went into Villanova and came out with a win. They improve to 12-6 in the Big East, including six top-50 wins. The Bearcats should feel pretty comfortable right now, but the three sub-100 losses and the horrendous non-conference SOS still make things shaky. The RPI is slowly getting better, and one win in the Big East tournament could be enough to get the job done for Mick Cronin's crew.

Xavier:
For a while on Saturday, it looked like the Musketeers were ready to see their bubble popped. They were down at home to Charlotte, before going on a huge run in the second half and pulling out the win. Xavier is currently third in the Atlantic-10 standings, which could be helpful for the profile. It looks like they will need a semifinal win to really improve the profile, though. There are good wins over Vanderbilt and Purdue, as well as victories against bubblers Cincinnati, Dayton and Saint Joseph's. They will be an interesting case.

Northwestern:
The Wildcats escaped at Iowa, finishing at 8-10 in the Big Ten. A loss on Saturday would have ended their chances, but now they still have life heading into the Big Ten tournament. They are only 2-10 against the top 50, but suffered zero sub-100 losses and have a top-10 strength of schedule. The win over Michigan State back in January carries some weight, but there's not a ton of heft besides that victory. There is damage to be done in the tourney.

Miami (Fl.):
The Hurricanes were one of the last teams out of the field heading into the weekend, but they stayed alive with a dominant victory over Boston College. With Maryland sneaking into the top 100, Miami has four top-100 wins, including victories against Duke and Florida State. However, the 4-11 record against the top 100 is a huge eye sore and the computer profile isn't overly impressive. They need another big win for the ledger, meaning they have to win a couple games in the ACC tourney. 

Colorado State: The Rams took care of business at Air Force, avoiding a letdown after the huge win over UNLV earlier this week. Had Colorado State lost to the Falcons, most of the good vibes earned by the UNLV win would have been erased. That's irrelevant now, though. The Rams have a very solid resume, with wins over UNLV, New Mexico and San Diego State, as well as a great computer profile. Moreover, Saturday's win gives them another road victory (they only have three). One in the MWC tourney should get it done. 

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs did what they needed to do to finish the season, winning their final two regular-season games and getting back to .500 in the SEC. They still have to do work in the SEC tournament, as the computer profile is mediocre. However, they do have eight top-100 wins, including victories over Vanderbilt, Alabama and fellow bubbler West Virginia. Mississippi State will need to get at least one win in the SEC tournament, and two wins would be more comforting. 

Oregon:
The Ducks continue to make a run toward at-large consideration, hammering Utah to finish 13-5 in the Pac-12. However, they are only 3-7 against the top 100 and 19 of their 22 wins are against teams ranked below 100. They are playing well at the right time, and the availability of Devoe Joseph is certainly something the committee will consider. They need to make a deep run in the Pac-12 tournament, though, as the profile is rather barren at this point.

Drexel: As the outright CAA champion, Drexel has a nice chip compared to some of the other bubble teams, but the Dragons need to get to the tournament title game to have a legitimate chance. They took the first step there by handling UNC-Wilmington in the quarterfinals. We’ll look again if they win in the semifinals.

VCU: Like Drexel, VCU needs to get to the title game to have a legitimate shot at an at-large bid. The Rams handled Northeastern on Saturday, meaning one more win would get them there. The Rams have a terrible SOS and two sub-100 losses, but they are very good away from home and did beat South Florida. The lack of meat on the resume could be a problem.

Tennessee: It seems there is another movement afoot to get the Volunteers some at-large consideration. I would still hold off on that talk, though. The computer profile is poor and they have four sub-100 losses. Even factoring in the arrival of Jarnell Stokes, the overall resume is still mediocre. With all that said, if the Vols get the No. 2 seed in the SEC tourney and make a run to the title game, things could get interesting.

Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles nearly lost to IPFW in their first game of the Summit tournament, but they pulled out a win late to keep things somewhat interesting. I still think they need to win the automatic bid to get to the NCAA tournament, but a close loss in the title game could raise some questions. Zero top-50 wins is a major problem. 

Harvard:
Could the Crimson have survived a loss to Cornell and a second-place finish in the Ivy? We came close to finding out on Saturday night, as Harvard barely pulled out a win in the season finale. Now, the Crimson will wait and see what Penn does at Princeton this week. If the Quakers win, Harvard has a one-game playoff with Penn for the automatic bid. As far as at-large consideration, the win over Florida State looks good, but the schedule is terrible. 

Hurt itself

Kevin Willard knows his Seton Hall Pirates are in trouble. (US Presswire)

Seton Hall: The biggest bubble loser of the day has to be the Pirates. Going into the week, Seton Hall was in good shape. It just had to beat Rutgers and DePaul and things would be pretty comfortable heading into the Big East tournament. Well, the Pirates lost both games, including an absolutely embarrassing performance on Saturday against the Blue Demons. Things are now very shaky for Seton Hall. The Pirates finished just 8-10 in the Big East and have three sub-100 losses. They now have to win at least two games in the conference tournament; falling short of the quarterfinals won't get it done. 

South Florida: The Bulls had a chance to get a double-bye in the Big East tournament with a home win over West Virginia, which would have looked fantastic on the resume. However, they couldn’t make plays late in the game and dropped an important one to the Mountaineers. South Florida is only 2-7 against teams ranked in the top 50, but they have a solid computer profile and 12-6 in the Big East is nothing to scoff at. They need at least one win in the conference tourney, and most likely two.

Washington: If the Huskies had won the outright Pac-12 title, it would be a heck of a chip heading into Selection Sunday. However, after their loss at UCLA on Saturday, it's likely they will need to share the championship with California. The resume on its own is far from impressive. The Huskies have yet to beat an NCAA tournament team and 18 of their 21 wins are from the sub-100 region. The computer profile isn't awful, but Saturday's loss gives them a sub-100 loss. They need to reach the title game, at the very least.

Southern Miss:
 The Golden Eagles continue to make things difficult for themselves, after losing at Marshall to drop to 11-5 in Conference-USA. The RPI is still in the top 20 and they have a 9-4 record against the top 100, but there are also three sub-100 losses. Moreover, by finishing at 11-5, there is little separation betwen Southern Miss and the rest of the league. They have work to do in the conference tournament if they want to feel comfortable come Selection Sunday.

Alabama: The Crimson Tide are still very likely to get a bid to the NCAA tournament, but they missed out on a chance to truly lock themselves in by losing at Ole Miss on Saturday. Alabama has a very solid computer profile and a 9-7 SEC record, with 10 wins against the top 100. The lack of truly good wins against the top 50 is something of a wart on the resume, but it would be tough to leave Alabama out at this point. Winning one game in the SEC tournament would solidify things, though.  

Texas: I'm not sure anyone actually thought the Longhorns were going to go into Lawrence on Senior Night and knock off Kansas, but the loss hurts nonetheless. Texas drops to 3-9 against the top 50 and 4-10 against the top 100, which doesn't compare favorably with most other bubblers. They also have two sub-100 losses. Getting the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament, Texas will have a quarterfinal matchup with Iowa State. The Longhorns need to win that one to have an at-large chance. Two wins would seal the deal. 

Long Beach State: A loss in the Big West championship game is one thing, but a loss in the season finale is quite another. The 49ers dropped Saturday night's game late to Cal State Fullerton, and now enter the conference tournament in some trouble. If they lose in the championship game, I'm not sure they can survive as an at-large team. They did beat Xavier and Pittsburgh in the non-conference, but neither win is all that impressive right now. They are 0-6 vs. the top 50 and now have a bad loss on the resume.

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Posted on: February 25, 2012 4:26 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 11:44 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

Iowa State beating Kansas State on the road highlighted a big day of bubble winners and losers. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Another February Saturday means another monster day for bubble implications. With the overall bubble so weak this season, there are still plenty of bids up for grabs in the NCAA tournament. Moreover, several teams are trying to play themselves into consideration after being an afterthought for much of the season. In the past week, we actually saw some teams play their way into the tournament, as opposed to losing and just hanging on. Which will we see on Saturday?

Note: This page will be updated throughout the day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

WINNERS:

Iowa State: The Cyclones needed one win in their last three games against Kansas State, Missouri and Baylor to feel comfortable about their NCAA hopes. They broke through on the road on Saturday, holding off Kansas State down the stretch for the victory. Iowa State is now 11-5 in the Big 12, with two wins over Kansas State and another win over Kansas. Moreover, the lack of any sort of good win away from home is no longer a glaring weakness.

Purdue: The only thing holding the Boilermakers back in the at-large hunt was the lack of good wins over the Big Ten's best teams. That is no longer the case after Saturday, as Purdue went into Ann Arbor and knocked off Michigan. It gives the Boilermakers a marquee victory, to add to Temple. Purdue improves to 9-7 in the Big Ten, with a home game against Penn State coming up this week. With this win, the Boilermakers are in very good shape heading forward. 

Alabama: 
The Crimson Tide regained the services of the suspended JaMychal Green, and they cruised to a win over fellow bubbler Mississippi State. It was their third victory in a row, and sixth in their last eight games, to solidify their fourth-place spot in the conference pecking order. A home game against Auburn, and a road trip to Ole Miss, still await, but Alabama is in good shape for now. The win over Wichita State looks better and better, and the victory over Purdue is also solid. 

Arizona:
The Wildcats just need to keep winning in order to stay in consideration for an at-large bid. They just survived on Saturday, needing a missed jumper from UCLA's Jerime Anderson to come out with a 65-63 victory. Arizona has now won seven of its last eight games, and sit at 12-5 in the conference standings. The profile is still not impressive in general, with only a win over California standing out. However, if the Wildcats win at Arizona State to finish the season and then get some wins in the conference tournament, it could be tough to leave them out.

Saint Joseph's: The Hawks picked up a huge win Saturday night over Temple, their fourth win in their last five games. The win also gives them a second top-25 victory, with a previous victory over Creighton also on the docket. Saint Joe's has also defeated Dayton and Drexel, which could help in bubble comparisons. A win at St. Bonaventure on Wednesday would get them to 10-6 in the Atlantic-10, and a trip to the conference tournament semifinals could get it done. 

Memphis: The Tigers were in pretty good shape, but they really solidified things by beating Marshall on Saturday. It kept them on pace to stay atop the league, and it also gives them another decent win for the resume. The next two games will still have a say in their Selection Sunday fate, though -- vs. UCF and at Tulsa. Win both, and Memphis won't even be sweating its inclusion to the NCAA tournament. 

Washington: The Huskies didn't make it easy on themselves, but they did come out with a win at Washington State. They are still tied atop the Pac-12 standings with California, which is a nice trump card come Selection Sunday. The lack of marquee wins is still a problem, but a sweep this week over UCLA and USC would guarantee at least a share of the title. Washington will be a very interesting case for inclusion.

Drexel:
The Dragons had already clinched the No. 1 seed in the CAA tournament, but their win at Old Dominion on Saturday gave them the outright regular-season title. That is a big-time addition to the at-large resume, especially since Drexel has won 17 in a row and has lost just once in 2012. There aren't any great wins on the docket, but a run to the CAA title game would give them 27 wins -- would the Committee leave them out?

Texas: For much of Saturday, it looked like the Longhorns might kiss their NCAA hopes goodbye. However, they came back down the stretch against Texas Tech and pulled out a late victory. The win snapped a two-game losing streak, and puts them back at .500 in the Big 12. A win next Saturday at Kansas would likely clinch a bid, but without a victory there, Rick Barnes' club will need to make some noise in the conference tournament.  

Xavier: Jumping out to a 14-0 lead and holding Richmond scoreless for about 10 minutes was enough for the Musketeers to get the win and improve to 9-5 in the conference. The big game for Xavier will be this week at Saint Louis. If the Musketeers can get the key road win, they could feel a lot better about their chances heading into the A10 tournament. 

Dayton: The Flyers has now won four of its last five after handling Massachusetts on Saturday. Their record in the Atlantic 10 improved to 8-6, which puts them in position to potentially make a run to third-place. The wins over Temple, Saint Louis and Alabama are pretty solid, and they also defeated Xavier. Upcoming, the Flyers have winnable games against Richmond and George Washington -- a 10-6 finish in the league and a couple of wins in the conference tournament could get it done. 

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles don't like making anything easy, barely escaping with a two-point home win over Rice to move to 10-4 in the league. They remain one game behind Memphis in the conference standings, but should take care of business against SMU this week. Next week's game at Marshall could be a key win. 

Northwestern: John Shurna's two free throws with 2.6 seconds left might have saved the Wildcats' season. A loss to Penn State would have really hurt their at-large hopes, but now they still have a chance to finish .500 in the Big Ten. It won't be easy, though. The Wildcats host Ohio State this week, which would be a huge chance at a marquee victory, and a road trip to Iowa next weekend looks tough. A win over Michigan State looks very good, but 2-8 vs. the top 50 isn't pretty. They might need to beat Ohio State. 

VCU: The Rams fell short of the CAA title, but beating George Mason gave them 14 wins in their last 15 games and another top-100 win for the resume. They still need to make a run to the championship game of the conference tournament, but a loss here would have dropped them to third in the league standings and would have made it difficult to get a bid. 

BYU: The Cougars only had to avoid a bad loss to Portland, and they obliged, getting the win and finishing in third in the WCC standings. With only a win over Gonzaga standing out on the resume, it's likely that BYU needs to make a run to the conference title game -- which would mean another win over Gonzaga in the semifinals. 

Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles improved to 26-5 overall with a two-point win at Southern Utah, finishing 17-1 in the Summit League. Should they lose in the conference tournament, they will be an interesting look. The best win is over Xavier, but the computer profile is better than several bubble teams and they've played consistently well all season.

UCF: The loss earlier in the week at Rice really hurt the Knight's chances, but their win over UTEP keeps them in the conversation for now. They need to win at Memphis on Tuesday to have a shot.  

Nevada: It took three overtimes, but the Wolf Pack finally dispatched of Fresno State to improve to 11-1 in the WAC. Will a gaudy record be enough for an-large bid? Probably not, but they have defeated Washington. Nevada just needs to keep winning. 

LOSERS:

Saint Louis: The Billikens should have felt pretty confident about their NCAA hopes heading into the weekend. The lack of great wins was masked by a good Atlantic 10 record and wins in nine of their last 10 games. On Saturday, Saint Louis lost to 5-23 Rhode Island -- and now Saint Louis gets a second look and is no longer a lock. The Billikens don't have a single top-50 win and the URI defeat is in the sub-250 region. Tuesday's hoem contest with Xavier is now a must-win for both teams. SLU is still OK, but things could get dicey.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are falling apart. After making a valiant effort at Kentucky, they looked terrible in the second half against Alabama and fell for their fifth loss in a row. They are now just 6-8 in the conference, and could be on the outside looking in at this point. The resume isn't overly impressive, with the win over Vanderbilt the only truly standout victory. Wins against Alabama and West Virginia are OK. The Bulldogs still face South Carolina and Arkansas down the stretch -- they need to win both. And then win at least one or two in the SEC tourney.

Seton Hall: 
After beating Georgetown this week, the Pirates were in good shape -- as long as they could avoid a bad loss to either Rutgers or DePaul down the stretch. Well, they lost to Rutgers on Saturday in overtime, and now head back to the bubble. If they can beat DePaul in the season finale and then get a win in the Big East tournament, things will look OK. They have a good computer profile (although the loss to Rutgers didn't help) and a really good win over Georgetown plus some other bubble victories. Today's loss does leave less room for error, though.

North Carolina State: The Wolfpack were not in good shape heading into the weekend, and they got their bubble completely popped by losing in overtime to Clemson on Saturday. They are now just 7-7 in the ACC, and the rest of the resume is still paltry. NC State is 0-8 vs. the top-50, has two sub-100 losses and its computer profile is getting worse. The best wins are over Miami (Fl.) and Texas. That's not going to get it done. They need to make a run to the conference tournament title game.

Connecticut: The Huskies came so close to feeling very comfortable about a bid, but they couldn't make the plays down the stretch against Syracuse and fell short. Right now, they would still get a bid due to their tremendous SOS and six top-50 wins. With that said, they need to win at Providence and home vs. Pittsburgh to get to 9-9 in the Big East and get some momentum heading into the Big East tournament. Things can still go either way.

Colorado State: After the Rams' victory over New Mexico earlier in the week, a win at San Diego State could have really solidified their profile. However, they fell short -- but get another chance at a marquee win on Wednesday against UNLV. The computer profile is pretty solid, with an RPI around 30. They do need another key victory, though. They're only 6-6 in the Mountain West, and have two sub-100 losses. 

LSU: Well, that was fun. The Tigers had made their way to the bubble after winning four in a row to get to 7-6 in the SEC. However, after getting destroyed on the road at Ole Miss on Saturday, they're likely no longer under consideration. There are a couple of good wins on the docket, but the overall resume isn't impressive. LSU would need to win out and then do serious damage in the SEC tournament.

Marshall: The Thundering Herd were attempting to play themselves back into the NCAA discussion by taking advantage of their big shots down the stretch: vs. Memphis and vs. Southern Miss. If they could win both, they might have had a chance. Instead, they got destroyed down the stretch by Memphis, losing by 20 on their homecourt. Marshall is now amongst a large group of teams in the middle of Conference USA. Their NCAA hopes are extremely dim at this point.

Harvard: The Crimson now deserve a closer look after losing to Penn on Saturday night and moving back into a tie for first place with the Quakers. Should they stay tied, a one-game playoff will be necessary; if Harvard loses that one, will they get an at-large bid? Their best wins are over Florida State and Saint Joseph's, and they have an RPI in the high 30s. The loss at Fordham in early January looks horrible, but they're 13-3 away from home, and are 7-3 against the top-100. For their sake, they should just take care of business in the potential playoff.

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 23, 2012 2:59 pm
 

Royce rolls comfortably into new role

Royce White quit basketball in 2009. Now he has Iowa State on the verge of an NCAA tournament appearance. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Royce White was ready to give it all up.

It was the fall of 2009, and White had yet to play a game for Minnesota. The highly-touted freshman was battling multiple legal affairs, including misdemeanor shoplifting charges and fifth-degree assault. Moreover, he was being investigated regarding the theft of a laptop.

Things were spiraling out of control off the court, and White felt he no longer needed the pressure of basketball.

So he announced, via YouTube, that he was quitting the sport. And taking control of his life.

“That was more of an address to the fans and people who cared and wanted an explanation,” White said this week. “There was a lot of uncertainty about the situation, and a lot of people were questioning why I’m not on the court. It gave people something from my mouth that couldn’t be distorted by the media.” 

And White meant it too. He stopped playing basketball, instead focusing on things outside of sports. White became a writer, penning everything from music and songs to business plans and marketing schemes. Instead of seeing a future in basketball, he began to think about long-term goals in business.

But, as much as he tried, White couldn’t get away from basketball. He saw the other guys from the class of 2009 dominating in college: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Jordan Hamilton, Derrick Favors, etc. Watching them succeed at the next level ignited a fire in him. Not a jealous type of fire, but a competitive one.

White knew he could hang with those guys on the court.

“Competitiveness is instilled in you,” he said. “Seeing them being so successful pushed me to be successful. I had a burning to get back to the court. I almost wanted to prove something to myself.”

There were several schools in the running for White, but he wanted to stay close to home and go to a place that was an underdog on the national scene. After leaving the sport, many people wrote him off – and so he felt he was something of an underdog too.

White leads Iowa State in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks. (US Presswire)

Iowa State, with new head coach Fred Hoiberg arriving on campus, was the perfect match for White’s rejuvenation. Hoiberg was stockpiling talented transfers, with White as the headliner. Reports out of Ames in the offseason described White being a dominant performer – but questions still remained about the Cyclones.

Could all these attitudes and egos mesh together so quickly? Will all of the transfers remain focused? Has Royce White figured it out yet?

“Personally, I took offense to that,” he said. “People who were saying it were part of the industry, who I already had a vendetta against. I was looking for something to take offense to; it helped me stay hungry. I embraced the idea of team and family. I had the most publicized problems, the most noted issues. They got grouped together with that. They didn’t deserve the scrutiny.”

White’s motivation wasn’t the only thing that changed since he originally gave up basketball. His mentality was completely different, his skillset was completely different, everything was different.

He no longer felt the need to prove he was the best player on the court at all times, no longer felt the need to dominate or score the most points.

“I was a better player than when I left,” White said. “My mentality about the game; I was playing for fun. It was about achieving success on a team level. My success couldn’t come without the success of the team. My thoughts about the game changed. Continuity, flow, getting people involved; those were the things I tried to embrace.”

After figuring himself out, figuring out the Big 12 was easy.

White has had an enormous impact on the Cyclones, leading the team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks – the only player in Division-I to achieve that milestone. The 6-foot-8 sophomore has a unique skill set, even at 270 pounds. As the team’s best playmaker, he is basically a point-forward when it comes to facilitating offense and creating open looks for teammates.

White also has Iowa State on the precipice of the NCAA tournament, as the Cyclones sit tied for third in the Big 12 at 10-5. It would be the program’s first NCAA tournament since 2005.

One might think that getting revenge on the game and proving everyone wrong might excite White. But he’s not even thinking about that.

“It doesn’t feel as good as I thought it would, to be honest,” White said. “Basketball has become a piece of my life, but not all of my life. There’s so much more now, wanting to help people on a very high level. My team’s success, for this community, is the fulfilling part of it. It took the place of my own vendetta.”

What would be the perfect ending?

“This community being happy with what we achieved,” White said. “I know that winning an NCAA championship is my goal, winning a Big 12 tournament championship is my goal. But more important, this community being happy with this season and what we’ve done.”

The next time White talks about giving up the sport of basketball, don’t feel bad for him.

His future is in good hands. His own. 

Posted on: February 22, 2012 8:30 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 12:40 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Avoiding bad losses is key

Wyoming saw its bubble burst with an overtime loss at San Diego State. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Tuesday was a prove-it day for bubble teams, as seven of them played ranked teams and another two had to pass road tests. Only three teams out of that group came out victorious. Wednesday is another huge night for bubblers, but in a different ways. Only a few have a chance to get statement wins, but nearly a dozen teams have to avoid bad losses. With so many different things at stake, we’ve expanded our categories too. 

Note: This page will be updated throughout the night, with bubble discussion and analysis. 

Status quo

Purdue: The Boilermakers didn’t suffer the same fate as Illinois over the weekend, throttling Nebraska out of the gate en route to an 83-65 win. The win moves the Boilermakers to 8-7 in the Big Ten heading into their final stretch against Michigan, Penn State and Indiana. If Purdue can get one of the two road games (Michigan, Indiana), it will feel awfully comfortable heading into the conference tournament.

Memphis: The Tigers suffered a really bad loss at home over the weekend to UTEP, so they could not afford to lose another questionable game. That wasn't a problem, as Memphis handled East Carolina with ease in the second half. The Tigers also took over first place in the league standings after Southern Miss' loss, but their Selection Sunday fate will be decided down the stretch. They have road trips to Marshall and Tulsa sandwiched around a home against UCF. The Tigers need to prove themselves in those three games.

Iowa State: Heading into a very difficult three-game stretch to finish the season, the Cyclones needed to beat Texas Tech on Wednesday to get to 10 wins in the Big 12. It wasn't as easy as expected, but they still dominated the final 10 minutes en route to an 18-point win. With road games at Kansas State and Missouri and a home date with Baylor still on the docket, Iowa State will have chances to seal its bid. One win would make the Cyclones feel pretty good.

Hurt itself

West Virginia
: The Mountaineers hung with Notre Dame for a half, but the Fighting Irish came out of the break with a bang and simply ran away with the game. The loss is West Virginia's sixth defeat in eight games, and drops them to 7-8 in the conference. On Friday, Marquette comes to Morgantown in a game that would really solidify the Mountaineers' at-large hopes. If they drop that one, they need to win the final two games of the regular season and then do some damage in the league tourney.

Southern Miss: Things are getting dicey for the Golden Eagles. They survived a loss to Houston over the weekend and remained in pretty good shape, but Wednesday's double-overtime loss to UTEP (by the way, when did the Miners become such a giant-killer?) moves them into suspect territory. They are now tied for second-place with Tulsa in the standings and have three sub-100 losses. Southern Miss has to survive its next two games -- Rice and SMU -- before the season finale against Marshall. The Golden Eagles are still in, but nowhere near as safe. 

South Florida: Despite a gaudy Big East record, the biggest knock on the Bulls is their lack of good wins and their soft conference schedule. They jumped out to a double-digit lead at Syracuse, but couldn't make plays late in the game and fell short. They are now 10-5 in the league with three games left. They have Cincinnati, Louisville and West Virginia remaining -- two of them coming at home -- so there are still chances. Right now, though, one good win over Seton Hall isn't getting it done.

Saint Joseph's: The Hawks were one of the final teams out of the bracket this week, but that will change next week after their loss at home to Richmond, which came into Wednesday with an RPI nearing 150. Unless the Hawks beat Temple and St. Bonaventure to finish the season and then get a couple quality wins in the Atlantic 10 tournament, Phil Martelli's club won't have a happy Selection Sunday.

Minnesota: Farewell, at-large hopes. The Golden Gophers have now lost four in a row and six of their last eight, and suffering a heartbreaking loss to Michigan State. Tubby Smith's troops had the game in their grasp, but completely malfunctioned in the last three and a half minutes and will now be relegated to the NIT. Barring a crazy run the rest of the season, Minnesota is done. 

UCF: The talk of the Knights as an at-large team seemed to be jumping the gun a little bit in the past couple weeks, and Wednesday's horrible second-half loss to Rice pushes them further out of the field. They now drop to a fourth-place tie in the league standings, and still have to go to Memphis in next-to-last game of the season. 14 of their 17 wins are sub-100. 

Still alive

Dayton:
The Flyers made it into several brackets this week on the basis of their seven top-100 wins and victories over Temple and Saint Louis. However, they are only one questionable loss from falling from the picture. They survived on Wednesday, going on the road and beating Duquesne. They still probably need to win their final three regular-season games.

Marshall:
The Thundering Herd shook off a double-digit first half deficit to dominate Houston in the second half. It is their third straight win, and with chances sitll remaining against Memphis and Southern Miss, Marshall has the opportunity to play itself into the league title -- and at-large -- race.

Drexel: The Dragons still have plenty of work to do to move into consideration for an at-large berth, but the Dragons stayed alive with a win over James Madison. An outright regular-season title could really help their profile, so they need to win at Old Dominion on Saturday and also hope George Mason drops one to VCU.

VCU: Like Drexel, VCU just needs to keep winning and hope quantity of wins is enough for the Selection Committee. The Rams survived a trip to UNC-Wilmington on Wednesday night, and now get a shot at co-league leader George Mason this weekend. A win there and a Drexel loss to Old Dominion would give the Rams a share of the regular-season title.

LSU: The Tigers popped on the radar in the past week, and they kept their winning ways going with a victory over Georgia on Wednesday. That's now four straight victories for the Tigers, leaving them 7-6 in the SEC -- good enough for fourth in the conference standings. If they can win out in the regular season, LSU will have an interesting at-large case. It owns wins over Marquette, Alabama and Mississippi State.

Bubble Popped

Wyoming:
The Cowboys looked like they were about to revive their at-large hopes by leading at San Diego State for most of the game. However, the Aztecs tied it late and then dominated the overtime period. Wyoming is now 4-7 in the Mountain West and in sixth place. Their at-large hopes are likely gone. 

Ole Miss:
The Rebels have completely fallen off since getting some serious consideration a couple weeks back. Their 13-point loss at Tennessee on Wednesday night was their third in a row, and fifth in their last six games. Barring an amazing run to -- at least -- the SEC title game, no NCAA for them. 

La Salle: If the Explorers could have won out and then done damage in the conference tournament, they had a chance. Their overtime loss to Temple on Wednesday ends their at-large hopes.  

George Mason: The Patriots can still win a share of the CAA title with a win over VCU this weekend and a Drexel loss, but their loss at Northeastern on Wednesday night ruins their at-large hopes. Despite their 14 CAA wins, they have just two top-100 wins and four sub-100 losses. 

Posted on: February 18, 2012 2:12 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 1:11 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Winners and Losers

Kansas State might have been the biggest winner of the day, getting a marquee road win at Baylor. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

While BracketBusters is getting most of the attention this weekend, it’s also a BubbleBurster type of weekend. According to most projected brackets, there are still 10-12 spots that could go to any number of teams. Of course, most of those teams are in action today. There are bubble battles and chances for marquee wins across the board, so keep it locked here for all your bubble action.

Note: This page will be updated all day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

WINNERS:

New Mexico:
The win at San Diego State might have vaulted the Lobos into a more comfortable position -- but Saturday's victory over UNLV locks it up. Moreover, New Mexico has the inside track to a regular-season title in the Mountain West after knocking off the SDSU and UNLV in a matter of days. This is a team that can do some damage in March. The Lobos have Drew Gordon on the inside, plenty of shooters on the perimeter, a 10-deep rotation and they play really good defense. 

Kansas State: I wrote last week that Kansas State needed to get one its "big three" games: Kansas, Baylor and Missouri. On Saturday, the Wildcats went into Waco and came out with a huge resume-boosting win over Baylor. They now own wins over Missouri and Baylor, along with decent scalps against Alabama, Texas and Long Beach State. Moreover, today's win will likely vault Kansas State into the top 50 of the RPI, where it's a lot more comfortable. At 7-7 in the Big 12, the Wildcats are in much better shape than they were this morning. Really, really good win.

Miami: The Hurricanes were one of the last teams in the bracket this week, and they couldn't afford to lose to Wake Forest at home. They obliged, pulling away in the second half for a 74-56 win. At 7-5 in the ACC, they continue to inch ahead of North Carolina State in the ACC argument, despite losing to the Wolfpack. The win over Duke remains the only top 50 win for the Hurricanes, but it's not a bad trump card come Selection Sunday. They need to beat Maryland on the road next week, then comes two tough ones vs. Florida State and at NC State. 

Alabama ended its two-game losing streak and stayed in the field by beating Tennessee. (US Presswire)

Alabama: The Crimson Tide will remain an interesting case as long as they're not at full strength. With that said, though, they stayed in relatively comfortable position even without their studs. On Saturday, they welcomed in a hot Tennessee team and dominated the second half to win, 62-50. Alabama only has one marquee win -- over Wichita State -- but its victory over Purdue helps in bubble comparisons. If the Crimson Tide can go 3-1 down the stretch, they will finish above .500 in the SEC and be in pretty good shape. 

Iowa State: It wasn't of the same caliber as Kansas State, but the Cyclones handled their business on Saturday in a 80-69 win over Oklahoma at home. Interestingly, with the win and Baylor's loss, the two teams are now tied for third-place in the Big 12 at 9-5. The win over Kansas a few weeks ago really helps matters, although only three top-100 wins and the lack of road victories remain trouble spots. The three-game stretch to finish the season -- at Kansas State, at Missouri, vs. Baylor -- will decide their fate. 

Washington: What the Pac-12 has been looking for all season is some separation at the top of the league standings. Washington's win over Arizona on Saturday provides some. If California wins this weekend, both teams will have a two-game lead on the rest of the conference -- exactly what the conference needs. In terms of the Huskies' at-large hopes, the victory now gives them a season sweep of Arizona, which is basically the only thing boosting up Washington's resume at this point. Washington now has three road games to finish the season, but the Huskies needed this one. 

Cincinnati: Despite the Bearcats' horrendous computer profile, they're still in at-large consideration thanks to their quality wins. They picked up a monster bubble victory on Saturday, getting off to a hot start against Seton Hall and holding off the Pirates down the stretch. Cincinnati had already beaten Georgetown, Notre Dame and Connecticut, and Saturday's win puts them at 5-5 against teams ranked in the top 100. The bad losses are certainly bringing the profile down, but 9-5 in the Big East keeps the Bearcats in the mix for now. Big chance at home against Louisville next week.

Saint Louis: Isn't it about time we consider the Billikens a step ahead of the bubble? The win over Fordham wasn't profile-boosting by any stretch, but Saint Louis is now 10-3 in the Atlantic-10, with a top-25 RPI. They only have one top-50 win, over Saint Joseph's, but they've also beaten fellow bubblers Washington, Xavier and Dayton. They're 6-5 against the top 100 and have zero bad losses. Barring a collapse, the Billikens will make the Dance.

Saint Joseph's: The Hawks kept their at-large hopes alive by going into Washington D.C. and beating George Washington, 73-66. They don't have an eye-popping at-large profile, but they do own a win over Creighton and also defeated Dayton (and a rapidly-improving Drexel team). For now, the Hawks are on the outside looking in, but 8-5 in the A-10 looks solid. Next Saturday's home game against Temple will be huge for their Selection Sunday chances.

Northwestern: The Wildcats had a couple of road losses heading into the weekend, but they bounced back nicely with a double-digit victory over Minnesota. The win separates them somewhat from Illinois and Minnesota, putting them at 6-8 in the Big Ten. There is still plenty of work to be done, though, as Northwestern sits at 2-8 vs. the top 50. The Wildcats get both Michigan and Ohio State at home down the stretch, so there are chances to add to their marquee win category, which currently includes Michigan State. 

BYU:
With Saturday's win over Santa Clara, the Cougars have now won five in a row and improved to 11-3 in the West Coast Conference. As other bubble teams around BYU start to lose, the Cougars' profile looks better and better. They are 10-3 away from home, and they have a top-20 RPI win over Gonzaga. On Thursday, BYU heads to Spokane in a huge game against Gonzaga -- the Bulldogs could be playing for a chance to share the league title, while BYU would lock up a bid with a win. If the Cougars lose that one, we will reassess. 

UCF: Despite their loss to Southern Miss during the week, the Knights have quietly played themselves back into the at-large picture. They kept those hopes alive with a 64-55 win over East Carolina on Saturday. UCF still sits at just fourth in Conference-USA, so it needs to break into the top three to have a better chance, but wins over fellow bubblers Memphis and Connecticut are decent. Two sub-100 losses do hurt, though. A road game at Memphis on Feb. 28 could be a make-or-break contest.

Xavier: This was a must-win for Xavier, which could have dropped to fifth in the A-10 pecking order with a loss at home to Dayton. However, Tu Holloway came through in the clutch and the Musketeers got an overtime win over the Flyers. The Musketeers are third in the Atlantic-10, and it gives them another nice bubble win, to add to Saint Joseph's, Cincinnati and Purdue. Throw in a victory over Vanderbilt, and Xavier could be in decent shape right now. Road games at Massachusetts and Saint Louis in the final four games make things interesting.

Colorado State: In what boiled down to a Mountain West elimination game, the Rams knocked off Wyoming, avenging a 16-point loss earlier this season. They get back to .500 in the conference and win for only the third time in their last eight games. However, the upcoming three-game stretch will decide their fate: vs. New Mexico, at San Diego State, vs. UNLV. If they can get wins in two of those three, the Rams could be an interesting case heading into the conference tournament. 

California: The Golden Bears kept pace with Washington in the Pac-12 standings, rolling in the second half over Oregon State. Cal still has the best overall profile in the conference, with good computer numbers and a 7-4 record against the top-100. They do face three road games to finish the season, though, and getting separation at the top of the league is important to getting an at-large bid. 

Connecticut is in serious bubble trouble after losing nine of its last 13 contests. (US Presswire)


LOSERS:

Connecticut: The Huskies dominated DePaul during the week, but missed out on a chance to solidify their at-large standing against Marquette. The Huskies got down early and never got closer than four in the second half en route to a 79-64 loss. They now drop to 6-8 in the Big East and 5-6 against teams ranked in the top 50. However, there’s no one marquee win that puts the Huskies over the top. Florida State, Notre Dame and Harvard are good – but Marquette would have been a huge profile-booster. UConn is in serious trouble heading into the final four games – they might need to beat Syracuse next weekend.

Illinois: The Fighting Illini have officially packed it in. After not pulling a win out earlier in the week against Purdue, Illinois went into Nebraska and just got destroyed. The Cornhuskers went on a 31-4 run that ended up being a 52-12 stretch. The final was 80-57, and that wasn't even indicative of how bad Illinois played in the final 20 minutes. Bruce Weber sounded defeated after the loss to Purdue; one can only imagine how he feels now. The Fighting Illini still have really good wins over Michigan State, Ohio State and Gonzaga, but they are now 5-9 in the Big Ten and have lost eight of their last nine games. Barring a 3-1 finish with games against Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan, Illinois is finished.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have officially entered a danger zone. A week and a half ago, it looked like Mississippi State was primed to rattle off some victories and cement itself into the dance -- now, it has lost three in a row after the latest setback to Auburn on Saturday. After being considered in good shape for much of the season, a closer look reveals that the Bulldogs are in serious trouble. There's the win at Vanderbilt, a couple of nice wins against West Virginia and Alabama, but not much else. They're now 6-6 in the SEC, 4-6 away from home and have two sub-100 losses. This week is enormous: home vs. Kentucky, and at Alabama. 

North Carolina State: After blowing a 20-point lead to Duke on Thursday, the Wolfpack were one of the last teams considered for projected brackets on Friday. They needed to bounce back and get a quality win against Florida State on Saturday. That didn't happen. Florida State took command early in the first half and never looked back, hammering NC State, 76-62. The Wolfpack's resume doesn't have too many good wins, with Texas and Miami (Fl.) leading the way. A win today (or Thursday) would have boosted the profile. Now, this week's game at home against North Carolina amounts to a must-win.

Memphis: Despite not having an overwhelming resume, the Tigers avoided the "real" bubble by beating the teams they were supposed to beat and not suffering bad losses. Well, they suffered a bad loss on Saturday, falling 60-58 to UTEP at home. It was the Miners' first road victory of the season. Taking a closer look at Memphis' resume, and the loss could be trouble. UTEP was ranked No. 183 in the RPI heading into Saturday, and gives Memphis its first true bad loss of the season. Combine it with a 2-6 record vs. the top 50, and Memphis is far from a lock at this point.  

Arizona: The Wildcats had plenty of at-large momentum in recent weeks, moving past Washington in the bubble pecking order. However, they needed to knock off the Huskies on the road on Saturday -- but they fell short, 79-70. Arizona drops to fourth-place in the Pac-12 at this point, and its resume is still based off one win: at California. The Wildcats need more beef to the profile, meaning a trip to the Pac-12 championship game might be necessary. 

Seton Hall: Even though the Pirates' had a six-game losing streak earlier in the Big East season, their resume was still better than many bubblers. In a huge bubble battle against Cincinnati on Saturday, though, they fell short. Seton Hall drops to 7-8 in the Big East, heading into next week's game against Georgetown. If the Pirates beat the Hoyas, they're back in good shape. However, the four good wins -- Connecticut, West Virginia, Saint Joseph's, Dayton -- aren't exactly "marquee." 

Minnesota couldn't get past Northwestern, and now faces a difficult path to an NCAA bid. (AP)

Minnesota: The Golden Gophers had a golden opportunity to boost their at-large profile on Saturday, but they couldn't stop Northwestern's outside shooting and lost, 64-53. It was Minnesota's third straight loss and dropped the Gophers to 5-9 in Big Ten play. What makes it worse is the next three games: vs. Michigan State, vs. Indiana, at Wisconsin. Minnesota might need to sweep those three -- or at least nab two of three -- to have a chance again. They're 2-6 vs. the top-50, with a road win at Indiana highlighting the resume. 

Texas:
With Kansas State and Iowa State winning today, the last thing Texas needed was a loss to Oklahoma State. So the Longhorns went to Stillwater and lost to Oklahoma State, 90-78, as Keiton Page dropped 40 points for the Cowboys. The loss drops Texas to 7-7 in the Big 12, with some separation between itself and the two teams tied for third place. Texas is only 3-8 against the top-100, but wins over Temple, Kansas State and Iowa State are pretty good. The Longhorns face Baylor at home next week; that has become a must-win for Rick Barnes' troops.

Ole Miss: The Rebels needed to bounce back from getting destroyed by Vanderbilt earlier in the week. Playing Kentucky wasn't the answer. They hung with the top-ranked Wildcats for a half, but Kentucky just steamrolled in the second half en route to a 77-62 win. Ole Miss is now just 1-7 against top-50 teams, with the best wins coming over Miami (Fl.) and Mississippi State. The Rebels are ninth place in the SEC and 3-10 vs. the top 100. That doesn't get it done. 

Arkansas: The Razorbacks' homecourt dominance was enough to keep them in the at-large conversation, but that's no longer the case. Florida absolutely annihilated Arkansas today in a 98-68 victory, despite freshman B.J. Young going for 31 points in the loss. The Razorbacks drop to 5-7 in the SEC and are still 0-8 away from home. With losses in five of their last seven games, and four sub-100 losses, Arkansas has a long way to go to get back in the at-large hunt. It was fun while it lasted. 

Wyoming: If the Cowboys could have swept Colorado State, they would still be in the mix for a fourth at-large coming out of the Mountain West. However, they lost by eight, and now sit at 4-6 in the conference. Moreover, they still have road games at San Diego and UNLV remaining. Anything short of an unbeaten run to the league title game won't be enough. 

Dayton:
The Flyers' plethora of decent wins had kept them hanging around the last few spots in the bracket for a couple of weeks now. A win at Xavier would have certainly boosted their profile heading down the stretch. Kevin Dillard and co. couldn't pull it out in overtime, though, and now are in big trouble. Saint Joseph's might have passed them in the pecking order, and they certainly did in the standings. Dayton is now eighth in the league table, and the bad computer numbers don't help. Wins over Temple, Saint Louis and Alabama only get you so far.

Southern Miss:
 This was a bad day for Conference-USA. Southern Miss could have taken control of the conference, as Memphis lost at home to UTEP earlier in the day. So the Golden Eagles went out and lost to Houston. Going into the weekend, Southern Miss should have felt pretty confident about its at-large hopes. It has a great RPI and wins over Memphis and Colorado State. Looking closer, though, the wins aren't great and losses to Houston and UAB are bringing the resume down. They need a regular-season title. 

Long Beach State: If the 49ers lose in the Big West conference tournament, their loss late to Creighton could be the game that keeps them out. To be clear, they do deserve a bid. But what will the Selection Committee see? The team that dominated the Big West? Or the one that missed out on several chances in the non-conference season? There's really only one good win on the resume, Xavier, as the victory over Pittsburgh doesn't look as good as it used to. With the way the 49ers are handling their league, though, this will be a moot point. 

Posted on: February 13, 2012 11:16 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 11:45 pm
 

Night Court: Jeff Withey: CBB's most improved

Adorable. (Mocksession.com)

By Matt Norlander

Here’s everything you need to know about Monday night’s miserably slim pickings worth games. Being the good/smart fiancé that I am, I chose Night Courty tonight so tomorrow I’m totally, absolutely, undeniably free. Veteran move. Borzello will be tracking Tuesday's games, so there you go.

Game of the Night: Anyone not in high school right now remembers when Kansas State had a bad basketball program. The Kansas-Kansas State rivalry had approximately no national appeal. Thank God for Bob Huggins and Frank Martin getting the program back to relevance, because the games have been pretty great for the past half-decade. The two went at it again in Manhattan, Kan., tonight, and for the 22nd time in the last 24 meetings there, Kansas emerged victorious, 59-53.

It's certainly a big brother over little brother ordeal with these two programs, but at least K-State puts up a good fight. I always want to see how K-State brings it, even if it's normally the same result. What concerns me with the Wildcats now is, I'm not sure this team has the makeup to make a tourney run. It falls tonight, and now it gets Baylor and Missouri on the road. It's a 6-9 Big 12 team by next Tuesday night most likely, and so then it'll have to win out, finish 9-9 and get at least a Big 12 tourney win to have hope. Tall task.

Win to brag talk about: You think Syracuse wants to brag? It was its first win over Louisville in eight tries. The first home loss to Syracuse since it joined the Big East in 2005. Boy was it ugly, though. Just brutal basketball. Lots of bad shots. Scoop Jardine was 0 for 8. Gorgui Dieng was 2 for 9. Chris Smith was 3 for 11. Dion Waiters was 3 for 10. Kyle Kuric was 1 for 8.

This game felt like it was played on a court with pot holes and in the rain and with half-pumped tether ball. No flow and neither team deserved to win, but someone had to. Winning ugly adds another character trait to Syracuse, though it’s one few teams every really want to embrace. Win’s a win, though, and this cements — barring a three-game losing streak at some point — Syracuse as a one seed in the East regional next month.

Player who deserves improper benefits: It’s Jeff Withey. Eighteen points, 11 boards, NINE BLOCKS. First guy with that kind of stat line in three years. This junior is transforming into prototypical Reliable and Forceful White Kansas Center. I didn't see it coming. He's genuinely awesome and fun and unpredictable to watch. His play makes me believe Kansas can make a Final Four run and not have it be a fluky thing. Love Withey. Gotta get Withey on the phone. Gotta get Withey to tell me how to live my life. Incredible turnaround. He's the most improved player in hoops this season.

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Royce White is the player with pro potential for Iowa State. He’s a matchup problem for a lot of teams, but Baylor isn’t one of them. The Bears won at home tonight, remaining undefeated against teams who don’t have “MIZZOU” or “KANSAS” sewed onto their jersey. White had seven turnovers and hurt the team in some needed spots. He did manage 14 points of 7-of-12 shooting. It wasn’t awful, but we’re dealing with a light slate here.

A quick note on Baylor. I heard ESPN.com’s Andy Katz mention he thinks this team will do better once it’s out of the Big 12 and playing in the NCAA tournament. Maybe. But who says it can’t continue to pick on all the other teams? I’d be very intrigued to see what happens to a five-loss Baylor team that only fell to Kansas and Missouri. Where would they get seeded? The argument for the 3 is legitimate.

Another player who does not deserve improper benefits: K-State's Angel Rodriguez was a killer, also getting way too Bill Gates with the ball. Seven turnovers, 0-of-8 from the field, zero points.

Numbers don’t lie

  • 48. Belmont defeated Stetson 107-93 Monday night. It was the 48th time this season a game between two D-I teams had one squad score more than 100.
  • 6. Louisville fans want a reason to be positive tonight? Under Pitino in the Big East, Louisville doesn’t always pull off six-game winning streaks in the Big East. They did this year, and in the prior two times, Louisville made the Elite Eight (2009, 2008).

Notes

  • Due to school rules, Kevin Foster of Santa Clara has been suspended for the remainder of the season.
  • Hats off to Stetson's Aaron Pegg, who went out and had himself a night, scoring 31 in the Belmont game.
  • Mississippi Valley State's now 13-0 in the abysmal SWAC. Delta Devils have a good chance of returning to the dance.
  • I'm going sunflowers over roses tomorrow. I suggest you do the same. Roses are more stale than last Wednesday's bread.

Posted on: February 2, 2012 9:31 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 11:33 am
 

I like Larry Eustachy (and you should, too)

Larry Eustachy is on his way back, finally. (Getty Images)
By Gary Parrish

The first time I met Larry Eustachy he was sober but talking about being drunk. It was May 2004. He was the new coach at Southern Miss. I was the Memphis beat writer at The Commercial Appeal. We were at the Conference USA spring meetings in Florida. And just I remember Eustachy walking out of one of the meetings mid-morning to take a bathroom break. He went in the bathroom and exited the bathroom, but rather than immediately return to the meeting he sat down on a couch in the lobby beside me, rubbed his tired eyes and started a conversation.

I didn't know Eustachy at all at the time.

I mean, I knew who he was but he didn't know me.

But I guess he could tell I was a reporter, and I was the only reporter covering the meeting. So he plopped down beside me, and we started talking, and this was roughly a year after he was fired at Iowa State after being photographed drinking and partying with college students. In hindsight, the scandal doesn't seem like a big deal given what we've dealt with over the past year. But at the time it was a scandal worthy of national headlines, and I was trying to figure out a way to eventually (and respectfully) bring it up because I knew I'd want to write about Eustachy at some point from the spring meetings.

Before I could settle on a strategy, Eustachy broached the subject.

"I used to drink till the sun came up, then go to these meetings," he said. "It's harder going to them sober."

I laughed and agreed.

I then introduced myself.

And we sat there for the next 30 minutes talking about his very public fall from grace. Eustachy was remarkably open. His candor was unique and refreshing (as was the case again when I spoke to him in 2009 right after Billy Gillispie was charged with DUI). Eustachy just seemed so comfortable talking about the lowest point of his life, and ever since that conversation I've pulled for him. I have no problem admitting I like the guy. Eustachy's fall was quick and hard and embarrassing, but he handled it as well as anybody could. He went from being the Associated Press National Coach of the Year at a Big 12 school to a fired and admitted alcoholic who lost his marriage and found himself alone in Hattiesburg with a seemingly impossible job. That's exactly the kind of stuff that drives a man to drinking. How Eustachy stayed sober I'll never know. But he did. He stayed sober and continued building a program as best he could, and he woke this morning in first place in Conference USA after Wednesday's dramatic victory over Memphis.

His Golden Eagles are 20-3 overall, 7-1 in the league and possibly headed for the Top 25 on Monday.

It's a terrific story of redemption.

It's a story I like.

It's now been nearly eight years since I sat with Eustachy in the lobby of that hotel in Florida, and it's been a long climb back to relevancy for him. But he's back. Against all odds, he's got Southern Miss on track to play in the NCAA Tournament. So I'm happy for him. And you should be, too.
Posted on: February 1, 2012 12:11 am
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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com