Michigan State losing at unranked Iowa sends Big Ten race into a tailspin

SONG SELECTION:

“Linger”, by The Cranberries

Found on the 1993 album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?

Led by Mike Gesell pouring in a game high 25 points on Tuesday, unranked Iowa sent Michigan State back to East Lansing with their first loss of the season.

Expect either Kansas or Oklahoma to take over as the new number 1 when the first poll of 2016 is released on Monday (and yes, both #1 and #2 will meet on ESPN at 9 p.m. Eastern time at Allen Fieldhouse to settle the score, at least for the time being).

Northwestern off to best start in school history

Northwestern rallied from a halftime deficit to move their overall record to 13-1 by winning their Big Ten opener at Lincoln, Nebraska by a final score of 81-72.  Adopting the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks mantra of ‘taking care of business’, freshman Dererk Pardon (yes, that is the correct spelling of his name) scored 23 of his 28 points in the second half.

Playing in only his second game due to a leg injury suffered by senior Alex Olah, he also had a game high 12 rebounds as the Wildcats shot a blistering 50 percent from the field.  Northwestern also won the rebounding battle decisively 40-25.  The last time an NU squad had this many wins at this point in the season, you have to go back to the early days of the Great Depression in the 1930-1931 school year.

They get a titantic test on Saturday at Welsh-Ryan Arena as Maryland pays a visit to Evanston.  Will the ‘Cats keep the Terps guards close all night?  Stay tuned and find out.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten…

Indiana outlasted Rutgers in New Jersey 79-72 and Michigan got a nice win at the State Farm Center in Champaign, outgunning Illinois 78-68.  Maryland overcame a halftime deficit and toppled Penn State at the Xfinity Center in College Park by a 70-64 count.

In the ACC, Grayson Allen scored a career high 33 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 6 assists as Duke hit the century mark for the second straight game outlasting a gutsy effort from the 49’ers in Long Beach State 103-81 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The only major games of note on New Year’s Eve are on Fox Sports 1 at noon Eastern when Xavier heads east to take on Villanova in Philadelphia.

The Missouri Valley has a cool game fans should check out at 2 p.m. Eastern on ESPNU as Wichita State hosts Drake.  About 35 minutes later on the CBS Sports Network, a key Big East encounter has Providence trying their luck at the venerable Hinkle Fieldhouse and suddenly hot shooting Butler.

The best of the rest include an online showdown on the WatchESPN app (or ESPN3 for those of you who have laptops or desktops) is Gonzaga at Santa Clara at 5 p.m. Eastern, but you can flip back to ESPNU during Ryan Seacrest’s annual countdown to the ball drop on Times Square at 11 p.m. as BYU heads on the road to take on St. Mary’s in California.

Hope everyone has a safe and nice New Year’s Eve on Thursday night.

I will hope to return sometime over the coming weekend with the latest hoops news fit for blogging and discussing.  See you then.

 

 

Kentucky holds off furious Louisville rally

SONG SELECTION:

“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones

Found on many Greatest Hits compilations too numerous to mention

John Calipari becomes second fastest coach to 200 wins with one school

Tyler Ulis scored 21 points to lead UK to a close-shave 75-73 win over Louisville in the only game on the day after Christmas.  While Coach Calipari needed 240 games to reach 200 victories, only Clair Bee from Long Island University from 1931-1941 got to 200 wins faster doing it at 231.  Both teams get another week off before the start of conference play being in earnest after New Year’s.

More hot water over that video

Louisville Coach Rick Pitino continues to struggle against the school he once coached to a title the last time the Final Four was not played in a dome (1996).  He is 1-8 against John Calipari.

Even with a fan posting some fuzzy video after the game showing off some hand gesture not appropriate for blogging, let alone discussing properly at the dinner table–my only take it on his supposed “We’re Number 1” comment is this:

I am not in the business of speculating.  There are other media writers and fellow bloggers here on WordPress that have only one key aim–to accurately check our sources, dig by reporting the truth, and nothing more.

Personally, I do think that Louisville is doing a lot of damage control and only time will tell pending the verdict in the current sex scandal involving several recruits.  If it comes to a point where Rick Pitino may have to either be suspended or accept early retirement, that is where the real damage could wreak major havoc on the program.

Bottom line is that Kentucky got a major bounce back victory and Louisville appears to be heading anywhere potentially from a 4 seed down to maybe a 8 or 9 seed come March 13.

 

Oklahoma claims Diamond Head Classic title

SONG SELECTION:

“Run Rudolph Run” by The Smithereens

Found on Christmas with The Smithereens album, released 2007

In a very light schedule on Christmas Day, Oklahoma stormed out of the gate to start the second half scoring the first 17 points and 23 of the first 25 to win the Diamond Head Classic title in Hawaii 83-71.  Hawaii claimed third place beating the school headed up currently by Fox Business anchor Liz Claman’s brother-in-law, Bruce Pearl of Auburn by a 79-67 count.

After trailing Harvard 37-35 at halftime, Buddy Hield led the charge for the Sooners scoring a career high 34 and Jordan Woodward chipped in with 28 more.  OU finished shooting 50 percent from the field (27 of 54 attempts), while draining nine three-pointers in the process.

Most of their key buckets came in transition, as Harvard simply could not catch up.  The Crimson’s winning streak was halted at three with the loss, even though Zena Edosomwan tabulated a career-high 25 points on 10 of 20 shooting to go along with 16 rebounds.  Harvard did not fare well in the final stats, shooting at a meager 27 for 69 clip (39.1 percent).  But the final score was not indicative of how the game was played.  Harvard did make things interesting with 4:27 left on the clock, trailing 70-65 after Edosomwan scored 12 straight points which included a nifty spin move in the lane and converting on an old-fashioned three point play.  However, that was as close as they could get.

Just in case if you were wondering, these were the All-Tournament Team selections on Christmas Night:

Hield set a tournament record with 86 points in OU’s three games, was named the MVP of the tournament.  In the process, he broke the previous mark of 79 points set by Washington State’s Klay Thompson back in 2010.  Kareem Canty of Auburn, Chase Fischer of BYU, and Hawaii’s Roderick Bobbitt joined Harvard’s Edosomwan on the all-tournament team.

Hawaii hit with postseason ban for 2017 tournaments

Due to several key violations against former Rainbow Wahine coach Gib Arnold, the NCAA came down very hard this past Tuesday hitting Hawaii with a postseason ban for the 2016-2017 school year.

The key violations are explained here:

http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/eye-on-college-basketball/25423297/hawaii-receives-postseason-ban-in-2017-other-sanctions-from-ncaa

Clearly, the familiar line of “lack of institutional control” in not following the rules clearly cost them big time.

Midas well go stew away drinking their local non-alcoholic drink of choice before scheduling future regular season games on the Mainland.

Louisville at Kentucky is huge game on Saturday

It airs on CBS beginning at noon Eastern time, and might affect some possible seed positions with only 78 days remaining until Selection Sunday.

 

Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine out 2 to 3 weeks

According to a CBSSports.com on Monday, the injury occurred to one of his knees while attempting to do a layup during practice on Sunday night.

Valentine, who is considered as both the spiritual and vocal leader for Gang Green is averaging 18.5 points per game to go along with 8.3 rebounds per game and 7.1 assists per game.

The injury according to 2016 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame nominee in longtime MSU Head Coach Tom Izzo is, “very minor.”  He will be replaced by Eron Harris, a recent transfer from West Virginia.

The next game of real consequence for the Spartans will take place on Saturday, January 23 when they lock horns against Maryland.  The games before then are mostly teams with under .500 records:  Oakland (Michigan), Nebraska, and Illinois.  The Wisconsin game could be a trap game, but it depends on which team Greg Gard brings onto the floor that night.

Very light schedule among the ranked teams on Monday

North Carolina easily got past Appalachian State 94-70, while West Virginia cruised to an 84-59 win in Morgantown over Eastern Kentucky.  Also of note on Monday night, Providence got the better of UMass on the road winning 90-66 in a battle of former ACC foes.

CBS Sports Network to air quadrupleheader on Tuesday

That’s right, four games back to back on the cable home of CBS Sports.  All times listed are Eastern time:

5 p.m.  Miami (Florida) vs. LaSalle

7 p.m. Georgetown vs. UNC Charlotte

9 p.m. Hall of Fame Shootout–South Carolina vs. St. John’s

11 p.m. Kansas vs. San Diego State

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unranked Ohio State upsets Kentucky

SONG SELECTION:

Beach House, “All Your Yeahs”

from the album titled Thank Your Lucky Stars, released in October 2015

It certainly was raining threes inside the Barclays Center

Ohio State used the long ball early and often during the second game of the second annual CBS Sports Classic in Brooklyn.  Meanwhile, John Calipari is still clueless on which direction his Kentucky team is going to do next.

Kentucky did get as close as three by nailing six consecutive shots from long distance before the under 4 minute media time out.  But in the end, the Buckeyes made the key plays and Kentucky did not.  Final score was OSU 75, UK 67.  Kentucky has lost more games (2) than they have during the last two plus calendar years combined.

No doubt about it, this is a major jolt to the brackets come March 13.

Northwestern gets to double digit victories

Purple power reigned supreme in Rosemont, Illinois as Northwestern edged DePaul 78-70 in overtime.  The Wildcats are 10-1 and (hopefully, as many past NU teams have teased us around the holiday season) will attempt to maybe crack the top seven in Big Ten conference play.

In other key games of note…

Kansas cruised past Montana at home, while Indiana used Yogi Ferrell to propel the Hoosiers to a nice neutral site win in Indianapolis over a determined group of Fighting Irish from Notre Dame.

If more upsets occur during the evening, I will try to blog about it later tonight or at the latest sometime on Sunday afternoon.  Enjoy the rest of your evening.

 

Utah gets revenge by toppling Duke

SONG SELECTION:

Grover with Kevin Salem, “Fairytale of New York”
Found on A Christmas Present for You by Zero Hour, released in 1995

Utah used defense and rebounding in the waning minutes of overtime to upend Duke 77-75, although the Blue Devils did make things interesting in the final seconds.

A four-point play followed by a turnover gave Duke a chance to tie, but a close-in jumper from 5 feet out did not go down.

Across the river, Seton Hall topples Wichita State 80-76 in overtime.  I guess you can safely kiss good bye to a top 8 seed for the Shockers.