Articles By David Fox

Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-game-preview-and-prediction-arkansas-razorbacks-kentucky
Body:

No question, SEC basketball is better than it has been in a number of years.

 

The league should send its most teams to the NCAA Tournament since 2011, including the presumptive No. 1 overall seed in Kentucky.

 

The question, though, is if any of these teams can touch the Wildcats. Granted, few teams in any league can approach the Wildcats this season. There's no shame if Arkansas, Georgia, Texas A&M and Ole Miss can't finish off the Wildcats; Kentucky isn’t 28-0 because the SEC is a mediocre league.

 

At the same time, though, Kentucky hasn’t played a ranked team since a 58-50 win over Louisville on the road on Dec. 27. That changes Saturday when unanimous No. 1 Kentucky faces No. 18 Arkansas.

 

Does that mean that win streak will come to an end at Rupp Arena? Even though Arkansas is having its best season since at least 2008, upsetting Kentucky, at least so far this season, has been impossible.

 

Arkansas at Kentucky

 

Site: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.

Time: Saturday, 4 p.m. Eastern

TV: CBS

 

What’s up for grabs?

Kentucky’s undefeated season. If Kentucky is going to go to the SEC Tournament undefeated, this week may be the toughest stretch of the year. The Wildcats will face arguably the No. 2 team in the league in Arkansas and then face a solid Georgia team in Athens — the Bulldogs lost in Lexington on Feb. 3 without top player Marcus Thornton.

 

You’ll tune in to watch: Bobby Portis vs. Willie Cauley-Stein

The top contender for SEC Player of the Year may play for Arkansas rather than the nation’s No. 1 team. That’s as much of a reflection of Kentucky’s overall talent and balance as Portis’ season itself at 17.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-11 sophomore takes on the toughest assignment for any forward in the country against Cauley-Stein and Kentucky’s bigs. 

 

Pivotal player: Andrew Harrison

Kentucky’s sophomore point guard has been all over the place in recent weeks, 23 points and seven assists against Georgia one game, one point and two assists against Florida the next. Coming off of five points, three assists and no turnovers against Mississippi State, Harrison now faces the toughest pressing and trapping team in the SEC. Arkansas is 15th nationally in defensive turnover rate (23.3 percent).

 

Pivotal player II: Michael Qualls

Arkansas swept its regular season meetings against Kentucky last season largely due to the 6-foot-6 guard Qualls. The junior scored 18 points against Kentucky in Fayetteville and 14 points in Lexington, shooting a combined 11-of-17 from the field. Will Qualls and Anthlon Bell be able to knock down shots from the perimeter to keep Kentucky’s defense honest?

 

Biggest question: By how much will Kentucky rule the offensive glass?

This is the biggest advantage Kentucky will have against Arkansas, or most teams. The Wildcats lead the SEC in offensive rebound rate in league games (36.9 percent) while the Razorbacks are last in the league in defensive rebound rate. In Arkansas’ last game, an 81-75 win over Texas A&M, the Aggies destroyed the Hogs on the glass for 22 offensive boards.

 

Predictions

David Fox: Kentucky 70-60

Mitch Light: Kentucky 73-64

Jake Rose: Kentucky 81-65

Teaser:
College Basketball Game Preview and Prediction: Arkansas Razorbacks at Kentucky Wildcats
Post date: Friday, February 27, 2015 - 16:20
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/why-nc-state-will-be-ncaa-tournament-spoiler
Body:

Selection Sunday may yet be a dramatic day for NC State. Yet if and when the Wolfpack get into the field, NC State may be one of the most dangerous teams in the bottom half of the bracket.

 

A team that lacked back-to-back wins for more than two months is suddenly riding a three-game win streak. The latest was NC State’s biggest statement of the season as the Wolfpack defeated North Carolina 58-46 for the Pack’s first win in Chapel Hill since 2003.

 

The uneven resume — including losses to Wofford, Clemson and Wake Forest — means NC State will be in the bottom half of the bracket. But wins over teams like Duke, Louisville and now North Carolina signal a team solid enough on a good day to beat some of the nation’s best.

 

If you’re a fan of a top-five or -six seed, here’s why you don’t want your team to have any part of NC State.

 

Cat Barber is the Cat Daddy

 

No one has been more instrumental to NC State’s turnaround than Anthony “Cat” Barber, Mark Gottfried’s top recruit from the 2013 class.

 

During the last six games, he’s averaged 18 points per game. He’s taking more shots. He’s getting to the free throw line (10-of-13 against Louisville alone) and he’s become a more efficient distributor.

 

Compare his last six games to his first 21 this season:

 

Cat BarberPPGFGMFGAFG%A/TO
Last six games186.513.847.03.1
First 21 games103.27.444.21.72

And about that nickname? Does Gottfried call him Anthony or his childhood nickname Cat?

 

“I call him the Cat Daddy, and I want him to play like the Cat Daddy,” Gottfried said during the ACC conference call last week. “I think there's been times where he's tried so hard to run a team and get our team into the offense that he hasn't utilized that great speed and quickness that he has. Lately my message to him has been to turn it loose, cut it loose, let's go.”

 

BeeJay Anya is a rim protector

 

Barber’s 2013 classmate has been a fan favorite through his two seasons, but like Barber, he’s just now heating up. The 6-9 forward has 17 blocked shots in his last four games.

 

His six blocked shots contributed to an overwhelming defensive effort against North Carolina, which averaged just 0.77 points per possession against the Wolfpack. The Tar Heels make their living in the lane, but scored just 22 points in the paint — six in the first half — against NC State.

 

Trevor Lacey is a rock

 

The Alabama transfer has scored precisely 14 points in each of his last four games and 19 points in each of the two before that. That’s pretty remarkable when you think about it.

 

The larger point, though, is that Gottfried has a veteran forward on whom he can rely to score about 15 points in every game. Only two teams since December have held Lacey to fewer than 10 points, and they’re both low-possession, defensive-minded teams — Virginia and Cincinnati.

 

History may be on Gottfried’s side

 

While NC State and Gottfried have been part of some epic flameouts — a team ranked sixth in the preseason in 2012-13 lost as a No. 8 seed, for starters — the Wolfpack are four years removed from a surprise Sweet 16 run.

 

NC State went to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 11 seed in 2012 and upset No. 6 San Diego State and No. 3 Georgetown before giving No. 2 Kansas all it could handle in a 60-58 Sweet 16 loss.

 

At Alabama, Gottfried was just as erratic in the tournament. In 2003, he led a team that was ranked No. 1 in December but ended up losing as a No. 10 seed to Indiana in the first round. A year later, he presided over a team that went 8-8 in the SEC yet upset No. 1 seed Stanford and No. 5 Syracuse on the way to the Elite Eight.

Teaser:
Why NC State Will be an NCAA Tournament Spoiler
Post date: Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 14:26
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/maryland-students-execute-another-perfect-flash-mob
Body:

Flash mobs are still a thing, especially at Maryland.

 

For the third consecutive year, the Terrapins student section executed a flash mob during a big game, this time near halftime of last night’s upset against Wisconsin.

 

Pull off one of these when it’s the hot trend? That’s one thing. Pull off this kind of choreography three years in a row? We commend you, Maryland students.

 

Things start getting good around the 1:10 mark.

 

 

Here’s another angle from Tuesday night:

 

 

Here’s Flash Mob Part II during a game against Syracuse on Feb. 24, 2014

 

 

And the inaugural flash mob and Harlem Shake in 2013 (bonus points: see if you can spot ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt).

 

Teaser:
Maryland Students Execute Another Perfect Flash Mob
Post date: Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 12:32
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/see-if-you-can-spot-difference-new-cleveland-browns-logo
Body:

If you have a sharp eye, you may notice a new look for the Cleveland Browns in 2015.

 

Granted, the record might not be totally different, but the Browns will be playing in a bolder, brighter shade of orange for the 30th anniversary of the Dawg Pound.

 

The Browns revealed Tuesday what they’re calling a “logo evolution.” The changes are subtle compared to other recent redesigns. The updated design gives the helmet a brown, rather than gray, facemask. The shade of orange is “brighter and richer,” say the Browns. 

 

The Dawg Pound logo features the most dramatic new change, replacing the old dog face with a more cartoonish look.

 

 

 

 

Here are the main changes from the Browns' web site:

 

Teaser:
See if You Can Spot the Difference in the New Cleveland Browns Logo
Post date: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 11:20
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/every-nights-best-college-basketball-now-until-end-season
Body:

The first conference tournament game begins a week from Tuesday.

 

Crazy, right?

 

The college basketball season is entering its final stretch with teams trying to seal NCAA bids, clinch top seeds or find something resembling momentum entering the postseason.

 

If you’re just getting started as a viewer in college hoops or if you’ve been watching every game on the edge of your seat, there’s something for you every day from here until the end of the year.

 

Here are the best games you need to watch every night from now until the end of the regular season.

 

All times Eastern

 

DayDate  TimeTV
Tue.Feb. 247 p.m.ESPN

The Badgers play three of their final four regular season games on the road with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament on the line.

Wed.Feb. 259 p.m.ESPNU

After that team in Lawrence, Baylor and Iowa State may be the Big 12’s best hope to advance deep into the NCAA Tournament.

Thu.Feb. 2611 p.m.Pac-12 Networks

Stanford has slipped to 8-6 in the Pac-12. The Cardinal could play its way into the NIT with a loss to overachieving Oregon State.

Fri.Feb. 2710 p.m.ESPNU

This game could be for the top seed in the Horizon tournament, provided Valpo doesn’t clinch Wednesday against Detroit.

Sat.Feb. 284 p.m.CBS

True story: Kentucky hasn’t played a ranked team since Dec. 27 against Louisville. That changes against No. 18 Arkansas.

Sun.March 17:30 p.m.Big Ten Network

What will Purdue need to do in the Big Ten tournament to clinch an NCAA bid? Perhaps not much if the Boilers can pick up this key road win.

Mon.March 29 p.m.ESPN

Two red-hot teams in the Big 12 will try to make a last-ditch effort to deprive Kansas of its 11th consecutive conference title.

Tue.March 39 p.m.ESPN

Georgia gave Kentucky trouble in Lexington without Marcus Thornton. Could the win streak end against the full-strength Bulldogs in Athens?

Wed.March 47 p.m.ESPN2

Louisville wraps up the regular season against the Irish and Virginia at home ... and without point guard Chris Jones.

Thu.March 59 p.m.ESPNU

Davidson pulled itself out of a slump, and VCU can still win without Briante Weber. The Atlantic 10 is crowded at the top.

Fri.March 68 p.m.American Sports Network

These are the only two teams in contention for the Ivy’s NCAA bid. Harvard could clinch outright or Yale, which lost to the Crimson on Feb. 7, could force a playoff.

Sat.March 79 p.m.ESPN

North Carolina missed a golden opportunity to redefine its season in the first meeting against Duke. What does the matchup have in store?

Sun.March 84:30 p.m.CBS

One of the last games of the regular season features Frank Kaminsky and D’Angelo Russell on the same court.

 

Teaser:
Every Night's Best College Basketball from Now until the End of the Season
Post date: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/these-redesigned-college-football-helmets-are-awesome
Body:

A couple of weeks ago, Deeyung Entertainment, a graphic design firm based in Oklahoma, presented its take on alternate helmet designs for all 32 NFL teams.

 

In recent weeks, Dylan Young has presented his ideas on alternate college football helmets, in many cases using the secondary logos as primary logos.

 

We think they’re pretty cool and maybe some of these athletic departments should take him under advisement. All of them can be found on Twitter at @FFHelmets and on Instagram at FreshFootballHelmets.

 

What do you think?

 

 

Teaser:
These Redesigned College Football Helmets Are Awesome
Post date: Monday, February 23, 2015 - 17:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-nations-top-football-basketball-coaching-tandems
Body:

Building a consistent winner in one college sport is tough enough. Building two in the most high-profile sports? That’s something special.

 

Only so many programs can contend for both college football and college basketball championships in the same calendar year. Only a handful can keep their fans cheering in bowl games and the NCAA Tournament every year.

 

This list celebrates the rare schools that have found the coaching pairs who can deliver such feats.

 

The goal of our coach tandem rankings is to look at each football and basketball duo as a pair. In general, we’re looking at the duos most likely to keep each school’s fans happy and entertained from the start of football season through the end of basketball season.

 

 

1. Ohio State

Football: Urban Meyer | Basketball: Thad Matta

Meyer and Alabama’s Nick Saban are the Nos. 1A and 1B of college football coaching with good reason. After Ohio State’s improbable run to the 2014 national championship, Meyer and Saban are the only coaches to win national titles at two different schools. Meyer is 38-3 with the Buckeyes and has six AP top five finishes at Utah, Florida and Ohio State. Matta has one of the most underrated careers in college basketball, partly because he’s never won a national title and partly because of his low-key personality. Remember, when Matta took over at Ohio State, the Buckeyes were emerging from NCAA sanctions. Since then, Ohio State has won 30 games three times and reached the Final Four twice. In 15 seasons as a head coach, he’s won at least a share of eight regular season conference titles.

 

2. Duke

Football: David Cutcliffe | Basketball: Mike Krzyzewski

Krzyzewski’s resume is self-explanatory: More than 1,000 career wins, 11 Final Fours and four national titles. Early NCAA Tournament exits (Mercer in 2014, Lehigh in '12) have vexed the Blue Devils, but that appears to be unlikely with the group Coach K has assembled this season. Cutcliffe has done the unthinkable with the football program by turning the perennial ACC bottom-feeder into a factor in the league race. Duke has won 19 games the last two seasons, reached three consecutive bowl games and won the ACC Coastal Division in 2013.

 

3. Arizona

Football: Rich Rodriguez | Basketball: Sean Miller

Less than a decade ago, Arizona’s basketball and football programs were searching for an identity. The end of the Lute Olson era was a protracted experience with two interim coaches, and football found only limited success with Mike Stoops. Miller and Rodriguez have transformed all that. Miller has led Arizona to two Elite Eights and two regular season conference titles. The football program isn’t going to be USC, but Rodriguez is the right fit for an underdog program. His 10 wins last season was the most for Arizona since the Desert Swarm days, and 26 wins in three seasons in the most for the Wildcats in a three-year period since the 1970s.

 

4. Auburn

Football: Gus Malzahn | Basketball: Bruce Pearl

During the course of two seasons, Auburn made two hires that changed the trajectory of its football and basketball program. Football had been relatively consistent back to the Pat Dye era, but it was clear Malzahn and his up-tempo, run-oriented offense brought something special to the Tigers. He was the offensive coordinator of the 2010 championship team and took Auburn back to the title game in the first season after his return in 2013. The ascent won’t be as rapid for the basketball program under Pearl, who has reached the Sweet 16 or better in four of his last seven seasons as head coach. Still, he’s brought in elite recruits and already has Auburn basketball fans following his cult of personality.

 

5. Michigan State

Football: Mark Dantonio | Basketball: Tom Izzo

This duo rarely makes a big splash with major recruits, but Dantonio and Izzo both excel at developing upperclassmen capable of winning in the Big Ten and the postseason. Dantonio has elevated Michigan State football to one of the powers in the Big Ten. He’s led Michigan State to four seasons of 11 wins or more in the last five and back-to-back top-five finishes, something that hasn’t happened in East Lansing since 1965-66. Izzo is in interesting territory. He is enduring his longest Final Four drought (five seasons, boo hoo) and his team is in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997. The track record, though, is elite: Izzo has six career Final Fours and a national title.

 

6. Michigan

Football: Jim Harbaugh | Basketball: John Beilein

Give credit to both of these coaches for not taking the easy route: Harbaugh’s first head coaching job was at San Diego of the non-scholarship Pioneer League; Beilein’s was at Erie Community College. All Michigan is asking of its new hire Harbaugh is to do what Beilein has done — return a program to national contention. In basketball, the Wolverines reached the Final Four in 2013 and the Elite Eight in 2014. Harbaugh would seem to be up to the task at his alma mater. He built Stanford into a Pac-12 contender and took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl.

 

7. Louisville

Football: Bobby Petrino | Basketball: Rick Pitino

The Petrino/Pitino duo is back at Louisville for the first time since 2006. Having both coaches is still a boon for the Cardinals. Petrino went 9-4 and finished in the top 25 in his first season back with the Cardinals, a notable feat considering the revolving door at quarterback and that it was the football program’s indoctrination into the ACC. Petrino has finished in the top 25 in six of 10 seasons as a head coach, including four times in five total seasons at Louisville. Pitino has seven Final Fours and two national championships, including the 2013 title. 

 

8. Oklahoma

Football: Bob Stoops | Basketball: Lon Kruger

Even though Stoops is coming off an 8-5 campaign, the most disappointing since he’s been a head coach, Oklahoma has the most solid coaching duo in the league. Stoops has won at least 10 games in four of the last five seasons and made more BCS games than any other coach under the old system. Kruger, whose forte is rebuilding programs, has completed his reclamation of OU basketball with his best team this season. No program is more likely to be in a major bowl game and the NCAA Tournament in the same season as Oklahoma.

 

9. Notre Dame

Football: Brian Kelly | Basketball: Mike Brey

Is Notre Dame a year-in and year-out powerhouse in either sport? Not yet. Still, both coaches deserve credit for putting the Irish back into the mix. The Irish are two years removed from an undefeated regular season in football, and Kelly is the first Notre Dame coach to post five consecutive winning seasons since Lou Holtz. Mike Brey’s consistency — six NCAA appearances in eight years — gets overlooked because his team hasn’t made it to the Sweet 16 since 2003. Now if only both of them could go a season without losing a player to an academic-related suspension...

 

10. Baylor

Football: Art Briles | Basketball: Scott Drew

The year before Briles was hired, Baylor football was riding 12 consecutive losing seasons. When Drew was hired, Baylor was emerging from one of the biggest scandals in college basketball history. It’s tough to find a duo who improved their school’s situation more from the day they were hired until 2015. Briles had Baylor on the verge of the College Football Playoff and won the last two Big 12 titles. And Drew has twice taken Baylor basketball to the Elite Eight and once to the Sweet 16.

 

11. Florida State

Football: Jimbo Fisher | Basketball: Leonard Hamilton

Florida State’s football program is the healthiest it has been since Bobby Bowden was in his prime. In the last three seasons, Fisher has led the Seminoles to a national title, 29 consecutive wins, a College Football Playoff appearance and three ACC titles. The basketball program was on a nice hot streak from 2009-12 under Hamilton with four consecutive NCAA appearances, an ACC tournament title and a trip to the Sweet 16. In three seasons since, FSU has yet to post a winning ACC record.

 

12. Oregon State

Football: Gary Andersen | Basketball: Wayne Tinkle

Oregon State pulled off one of the biggest coups of the college football coaching carousel this season when it pulled Andersen from Wisconsin. The former Badgers coach was 19-7 overall and 13-3 in the Big Ten after winning 11 games and a WAC title at Utah State. Just as important, though, was the arrival of Tinkle with the basketball program. He took Montana to the NCAA Tournament and won two Big Sky regular season titles in his final three seasons. His first team at Oregon State is already competitive in the Pac-12. Both of the Oregon State coaching jobs are among the toughest in the Pac-12, but both coaches can win here. 

 

13. North Carolina

Football: Larry Fedora | Basketball: Roy Williams

North Carolina fans don’t like to hear this, but both coaches leave us wanting more these days. Williams is a Hall of Fame coach with seven career Final Fours and two national championships. Yet his team will have five or more ACC losses for the third consecutive season. If Carolina doesn’t reach the Sweet 16 this season, Williams will face his longest Sweet 16 drought since 1998-2000 at Kansas. Fedora’s win total has decreased every season at Carolina, and he’s never finished better than 5-3 in the league.

 

14. Virginia Tech

Football: Frank Beamer | Basketball: Buzz Williams

On career achievements, this duo should rank higher. Virginia Tech is a factor in football because of Beamer, who has been the coach since 1987. And despite 22 consecutive winning seasons, the Hokies are having a bit of identity crisis. The 10- and 11-win seasons have become seven- and eight-win seasons during the last three years. Williams’ credentials at Marquette were impeccable — two Sweet 16s, an Elite Eight and five consecutive NCAAs through 2013 — but he’s working through a major rebuilding project in his first season in Blacksburg.

 

15. Stanford

Football: David Shaw | Basketball: Johnny Dawkins

Stanford has a pair of coaches that — at least for now — appear to be trending in opposite directions. Shaw picked up where Jim Harbaugh left off and led Stanford to 34 wins, three major bowl games and two Pac-12 titles in his first three seasons. The 2014 season, though, ended with five losses and a trip to the Foster Farms Bowl. Dawkins seemed to be in trouble entering last season before taking Stanford to the Sweet 16. The Cardinal should head to a second consecutive NCAA Tournament this season.

 

16. Utah

Football: Kyle Whittingham | Basketball: Larry Krystkowiak

Times were better for Whittingham and Utah football in the Mountain West, when the Utes went 33-6, including an undefeated season in 2008, in their last three seasons in the league. Wittingham delivered Utah’s best season in the Pac-12 last year — 9-4 overall and 5-4 in the league — but coaching staff tumult has put the future in question. Basketball, on the other hand, is surging forward. Krystkowiak went 6-25 with a broken program in his first year, reached 21 wins in his third and has a top-10 team in his fourth. The Utes have arguably their best team since Rick Majerus was the coach.

 

17. Oregon

Football: Mark Helfrich | Basketball: Dana Altman

Helfrich picked up where Chip Kelly left off, reaching the national title game in his second season as head coach and winning 11 games and finishing in the top 10 in his first season. He’s laid-back demeanor is a change for the program, but the most pressing issue is winning without Marcus Mariota. Altman has survived an offseason of controversy to have Oregon in contention for its third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid. In his last 17 seasons at Creighton and Oregon, Altman has 16 20-win seasons.

 

18. UCLA

Football: Jim L. Mora | Basketball: Steve Alford

Mora has pulled UCLA out of its funk, leading the Bruins to back-to-back 10 win seasons and top-25 finishes for the first time since 1997-98. With the way he has recruited, more should be on the way. Alford got over his NCAA Tournament bugaboo by reaching the Sweet 16 in his first season at UCLA. If the Bruins even get into the field this season, it will be something of a victory. Alford has been around longer than you might think — he’s taken four teams to the Tournament and should get to 450 career wins next season. 

 

19. Wisconsin

Football: Paul Chryst | Basketball: Bo Ryan

Ryan was already one of the best coaches in the country when he led Wisconsin to top-four finishes in the Big Ten every year since 2002. Now, he’s looking to take the Badgers to back-to-back Final Fours. And he’s done all of that without a ton of major recruits on his roster. Wisconsin football has had an unbroken record of success under Barry Alvarez, Bret Bielema and Gary Andersen. Chryst, a former Badgers player and offensive coordinator, knows the territory. His record at Pittsburgh — 19-19 overall, 10-13 in the ACC — was nothing special, but he took over program with a tumultuous coaching situation.

 

20. Cincinnati

Football: Tommy Tuberville | Basketball: Mick Cronin

The well-traveled Tuberville has kept the momentum going at Cincinnati, going 9-4 in each of his first two seasons and winning a share of the American title last year. Cronin has missed most of this season while he deals with a health issue, but he’s returned the Bearcats to contender status after a difficult rebuild. Cincinnati has reached the NCAA Tournament in the last four seasons and reached the 2012 Sweet 16.

 

21. SMU

Football: Chad Morris | Basketball: Larry Brown

The Mustangs have spent recent years clawing for renewed relevance in both sports. The Hall of Famer Brown, despite NCAA troubles this season, has delivered. His team is on the way to its first NCAA bid since 1993 a year after winning 27 games and going to the NIT. Morris was one of the hottest names in the coaching carousel after taking his high-flying offense to Clemson. His Texas high school connections should serve him well as he tries to rebuild in Dallas.

 

22. Miami

Football: Al Golden | Basketball: Jim Larranaga

Golden left Temple with the reputation of a miracle worker and walked into the Nevin Shapiro mess at Miami. After a self-imposed bowl ban in his first two seasons, Miami went 9-4 in his third year before falling to 6-7 last season. With quarterback Brad Kaaya starting his second season, Golden is entering a critical fifth year. Larranaga has taken George Mason to a Final Four and won the ACC at Miami. That’s a pretty darn good career right there, never mind that he has 547 career wins otherwise.

 

23. San Diego State

Football: Rocky Long | Basketball: Steve Fisher

What Fisher has done at San Diego State was once unthinkable. A program that hadn’t won an NCAA Tournament game before Fisher arrived is a perennial postseason team. The Aztecs have twice won 30 games and twice reached the Sweet 16 during the last five years. Football isn’t the same contender as the basketball program, but the longtime underachiever has reached a bowl game all four seasons under Long.

 

24. BYU

Football: Bronco Mendenhall | Basketball: Dave Rose

Five or six years ago, the stock for the BYU duo would have been higher than it is now. Back then, Jimmer Fredette was on the court for BYU, and the Cougars had won at least 10 games in four of five seasons. BYU is still trying to find its way as an independent and West Coast Conference member, but both are still regulars in the postseason.

 

25. Kansas State

Football: Bill Snyder | Basketball: Bruce Weber

Kansas State failed to sign a top 50 recruiting class in 2015, but that doesn’t matter. We’ll end up talking about the Wildcats as a top 10 team at some point anyway. That’s the deal for Snyder, whose teams have been the biggest overachievers in college football. Weber’s team has fallen below expectations this season, but he’s still two years removed from a 27-win season and a share of the Big 12 title.

Teaser:
Ranking the Nation's Top Football-Basketball Coaching Tandems
Post date: Monday, February 23, 2015 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/nebraska-basketball-wear-1950s-throwbacks-sunday-vs-iowa
Body:

Nebraska basketball will wear throwbacks to the 1954-55 team for Sunday’s game against Iowa.

 

The replicas are designed to commemorate the 60th anniversary of coach Jerry Bush’s first Cornhuskers team during Legends Weekend. Stan Matzke, a captain in 1954-55, will speak to more than 50 former Nebraska players spanning eight decades.

 

The uniforms will look great, but the memories? Not so much. The 1954-55 team went 9-12 in the original unis.

 

 

 

Teaser:
Nebraska Basketball to Wear 1950s Throwbacks Sunday vs. Iowa
Post date: Sunday, February 22, 2015 - 11:09
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/north-carolina-runs-four-corners-honor-dean-smith
Body:

In North Carolina’s first home game since the passing of legendary coach Dean Smith, the Tar Heels ran a fitting tribute to the man whose name graces the arena.

 

The Tar Heels ran Smith’s famous Four Corners offense on their first offensive possession. Roy Williams, a Smith protege, signaled in the play, and Marcus Paige passed to a cutting Brice Johnson for North Carolina’s first points in an 89-60 win over Georgia Tech.

 

Here’s the play:

 

 

"That was one of the most nerve-racking moments of my life just because I feel like if I would've turned it over, if I would've messed it up or something that I was letting down the way we were going to pay homage to Coach Smith," Paige told reporters after the game. "I'm just glad Brice caught it and laid it up. He made me look good."

 

Here's what it looked like from above:

 

Teaser:
North Carolina Runs Four Corners to Honor Dean Smith
Post date: Saturday, February 21, 2015 - 18:36
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-pac-12s-football-basketball-coaching-tandems
Body:

Recent years have brought an influx of impact football coaches into the Pac-12 — Rich Rodriguez, Todd Graham and Jim L. Mora have all taken their schools to new heights. Mark Helfrich and David Shaw picked up where their predecessors left off.

 

Now, the league hopes basketball will hold up its end of the bargain. Sean Miller, for example, has returned Arizona to national powerhouse status, giving the Wildcats the best duo in the league. Utah's Larry Krystkowiak and Colorado's Tad Boyle have remade their respective programs, and Wayne Tinkle may be on the way to doing the same at Oregon State.

 

The moves have given the Pac-12 an impressive lineup of coaching duos at the top while the rest of the league is starting to catch up.

 

The goal of our coach tandem rankings is to look at each football and basketball duo as a pair. In general, we’re looking at the duos most likely to keep each school’s fans happy and entertained from the start of football season through the end of basketball season.

 

1. Arizona

Football: Rich Rodriguez | Basketball: Sean Miller

Less than a decade ago, Arizona’s basketball and football programs were searching for an identity. The end of the Lute Olson era was a protracted experience with two interim coaches, and football found only limited success with Mike Stoops. Miller and Rodriguez have transformed all that. Miller has led Arizona to two Elite Eights and two regular season conference titles. The football program isn’t going to be USC, but Rodriguez is the right fit for an underdog program. His 10 wins last season was the most for Arizona since the Desert Swarm days, and 26 wins in three seasons in the most for the Wildcats in a three-year period since the 1970s.

 

2. Oregon State

Football: Gary Andersen | Basketball: Wayne Tinkle

Oregon State pulled off one of the biggest coups of the college football coaching carousel this season when it pulled Andersen from Wisconsin. The former Badgers coach was 19-7 overall and 13-3 in the Big Ten after winning 11 games and a WAC title at Utah State. Just as important, though, was the arrival of Tinkle with the basketball program. He took Montana to the NCAA Tournament and won two Big Sky regular season titles in his final three seasons. His first team at Oregon State is already competitive in the Pac-12. Both of the Oregon State coaching jobs are among the toughest in the Pac-12, but both coaches can win here. 

 

3. Stanford

Football: David Shaw | Basketball: Johnny Dawkins

Stanford has a pair of coaches that — at least for now — appear to be trending in opposite directions. Shaw picked up where Jim Harbaugh left off and led Stanford to 34 wins, three major bowl games and two Pac-12 titles in his first three seasons. The 2014 season, though, ended with five losses and a trip to the Foster Farms Bowl. Dawkins seemed to be in trouble entering last season before taking Stanford to the Sweet 16. The Cardinal should head to a second consecutive NCAA Tournament this season.

 

4. Utah

Football: Kyle Whittingham | Basketball: Larry Krystkowiak

Times were better for Whittingham and Utah football in the Mountain West, when the Utes went 33-6, including an undefeated season in 2008, in their last three seasons in the league. Wittingham delivered Utah’s best season in the Pac-12 last year — 9-4 overall and 5-4 in the league — but coaching staff tumult has put the future in question. Basketball, on the other hand, is surging forward. Krystkowiak went 6-25 with a broken program in his first year, reached 21 wins in his third and has a top-10 team in his fourth. The Utes have arguably their best team since Rick Majerus was the coach.

 

5. Oregon

Football: Mark Helfrich | Basketball: Dana Altman

Helfrich picked up where Chip Kelly left off, reaching the national title game in his second season as head coach and winning 11 games and finishing in the top 10 in his first season. He’s laid-back demeanor is a change for the program, but the most pressing issue is winning without Marcus Mariota. Altman has survived an offseason of controversy to have Oregon in contention for its third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid. In his last 17 seasons at Creighton and Oregon, Altman has 16 20-win seasons.

 

6. UCLA

Football: Jim L. Mora | Basketball: Steve Alford

Mora has pulled UCLA out of its funk, leading the Bruins to back-to-back 10 win seasons and top-25 finishes for the first time since 1997-98. With the way he has recruited, more should be on the way. Alford got over his NCAA Tournament bugaboo by reaching the Sweet 16 in his first season at UCLA. If the Bruins even get into the field this season, it will be something of a victory. Alford has been around longer than you might think — he’s taken four teams to the Tournament and should get to 450 career wins next season. 

 

7. Arizona State

Football: Todd Graham | Basketball: Herb Sendek

Will Graham be the coach to fully tap into Arizona State’s potential? Graham is already the first Sun Devils coach to finish in the top-25 in back-to-back years since 1996-97 and the first to win 10 games in back-to-back years since Frank Kush. Next up is a Pac-12 title. Sendek has two NCAA appearances in nine seasons and he’s fresh out of James Hardens.

 

8. Colorado

Football: Mike MacIntyre | Basketball: Tad Boyle

Colorado stepped back from 4-8 to 2-10 in MacIntyre’s second season, but the Buffaloes lost four Pac-12 games by a touchdown or less. Despite a lackluster season this year, Boyle has turned Colorado into a relevant basketball program. He’s the only coach in school history to lead the Buffaloes to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments and four consecutive postseasons.

 

9. Washington

Football: Chris Petersen | Basketball: Lorenzo Romar

Petersen’s first season in a power conference was forgettable as the Huskies went 8-6 and lost to Oklahoma State in the Cactus Bowl. Petersen is 16-11 in his last two seasons, an unthinkable mark after his first seven years. Romar’s Washington tenure has seen its share of peaks and valleys, and right now is a valley. The Huskies are about to miss the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season and fail to win 20 games for the third year in a row.

 

10. USC

Football: Steven Sarkisian | Basketball: Andy Enfield

Sarkisian went 9-4 in his first season at USC, but with NCAA sanctions finally gone and an elite recruiting class arriving, expectations are about to be sky high. The rebuild of USC hoops is going to take time, but Enfield is still two years removed from taking Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet 16.

 

11. Washington State

Football: Mike Leach | Basketball: Ernie Kent

Reaching the postseason is tough for the coach in either sport. Leach has sandwiched a 6-7 season with two 3-9 years. Kent, the former Oregon coach, has already eclipsed last year’s win total but there’s a long way to go.

 

12. Cal

Football: Sonny Dykes | Basketball: Cuonzo Martin

Dykes oversaw one of the most improved teams in the Pac-12, going from 1-11 to 5-7 in his second season. He led a similar turnaround at Louisiana Tech. Martin will hope to approach 20 wins in his first season at Cal, a place where it’s not easy to win big immediately.

Teaser:
Ranking the Pac-12's Football-Basketball Coaching Tandems
Post date: Friday, February 20, 2015 - 08:30
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-big-tens-football-basketball-coaching-tandems
Body:

For several years, the Big Ten has had a roster of basketball coaches that could rival only the ACC.

 

Now, the league is working to make sure its roster of football coaches rivals only the SEC.

 

Names like Tom Izzo, Bo Ryan, John Beilein and Thad Matta are on the top of anyone’s list of college basketball coaches. Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh would be the same among college football coaches.

 

Those additions on the football side — plus Penn State’s James Franklin — give the Big Ten one of the most interesting rosters of coaching tandems in the country.

 

The goal of our coach tandem rankings is to look at each football and basketball duo as a pair. In general, we’re looking at the duos most likely to keep each school’s fans happy and entertained from the start of football season through the end of basketball season.

 

1. Ohio State

Football: Urban Meyer | Basketball: Thad Matta

Meyer and Alabama’s Nick Saban are the Nos. 1A and 1B of college football coaching with good reason. After Ohio State’s improbable run to the 2014 national championship, Meyer and Saban are the only coaches to win national titles at two different schools. Meyer is 38-3 with the Buckeyes and has six AP top five finishes at Utah, Florida and Ohio State. Matta has one of the most underrated careers in college basketball, partly because he’s never won a national title and partly because of his low-key personality. Remember, when Matta took over at Ohio State, the Buckeyes were emerging from NCAA sanctions. Since then, Ohio State has won 30 games three times and reached the Final Four twice. In 15 seasons as a head coach, he’s won at least a share of eight regular season conference titles.

 

2. Michigan State

Football: Mark Dantonio | Basketball: Tom Izzo

This duo rarely makes a big splash with major recruits, but Dantonio and Izzo both excel at developing upperclassmen capable of winning in the Big Ten and the postseason. Dantonio has elevated Michigan State football to one of the powers in the Big Ten. He’s led Michigan State to four seasons of 11 wins or more in the last five and back-to-back top-five finishes, something that hasn’t happened in East Lansing since 1965-66. Izzo is in interesting territory. He is enduring his longest Final Four drought (five seasons, boo hoo) and his team is in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997. The track record, though, is elite: Izzo has six career Final Fours and a national title.

 

3. Michigan

Football: Jim Harbaugh | Basketball: John Beilein

Give credit to both of these coaches for not taking the easy route: Harbaugh’s first head coaching job was at San Diego of the non-scholarship Pioneer League; Beilein’s was at Erie Community College. All Michigan is asking of its new hire Harbaugh is to do what Beilein has done — return a program to national contention. In basketball, the Wolverines reached the Final Four in 2013 and the Elite Eight in 2014. Harbaugh would seem to be up to the task at his alma mater. He built Stanford into a Pac-12 contender and took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl.

 

4. Wisconsin

Football: Paul Chryst | Basketball: Bo Ryan

Ryan was already one of the best coaches in the country when he led Wisconsin to top-four finishes in the Big Ten every year since 2002. Now, he’s looking to take the Badgers to back-to-back Final Fours. And he’s done all of that without a ton of major recruits on his roster. Wisconsin football has had an unbroken record of success under Barry Alvarez, Bret Bielema and Gary Andersen. Chryst, a former Badgers player and offensive coordinator, knows the territory. His record at Pittsburgh — 19-19 overall, 10-13 in the ACC — was nothing special, but he took over program with a tumultuous coaching situation.

 

5. Penn State

Football: James Franklin | Basketball: Patrick Chambers

Penn State is nearing full strength after severe NCAA sanctions, and it has the right coach to lead the program back to national prominence. Franklin is the only coach in Vanderbilt history with back-to-back nine-win seasons and three bowl appearances. In his first season at Penn State, he capitalized on the Nittany Lions’ first post-Paterno bowl bid with a win over Boston College. There’s only so much Chambers can do with Penn State basketball, so flirting with a winning record in consecutive seasons has to be taken in context.

 

6. Nebraska

Football: Mike Riley | Basketball: Tim Miles

Riley’s move to Nebraska was one of the most puzzling of the offseason on two fronts — first that Riley would leave Oregon State after 12 years of resisting overtures to go elsewhere and second because Nebraska would hire a coach who averaged fewer than six wins in his last five seasons. But he can unearth and develop recruits, which is what Nebraska might need. In basketball, the momentum has stalled in Miles’ third season in Lincoln, but two NCAA appearances in four years at places like Colorado State and Nebraska is no small feat.

 

7. Minnesota

Football: Jerry Kill | Basketball: Richard Pitino

Opposing coaches will tell you how good a coach Kill is — his teams are routinely one of the toughest to play in the Big Ten. Top 25 finishes and major bowl games aren’t plentiful at Minnesota no matter the coach, but Kill has led the Gophers to back-to-back eight-win seasons for the first time since 2002-03. The 32-year-old Pitino is one of the names to watch in the sport, and not just because of his bloodlines. He his first season at Minnesota, he led the Gophers to an NIT championship, and in his only season at FIU, he led the Golden Panthers to their best season in 17 years.

 

8. Maryland

Football: Randy Edsall | Basketball: Mark Turgeon

Maybe Big Ten affiliation will be good for Maryland in ways beyond finances. Turgeon should get to double-digit conference wins for the first time during his tenure at Maryland, and Edsall presided over wins over (weakened) Iowa, Penn State and Michigan squads in his Big Ten debut. Progress is good, but there’s still a lot of work for both coaches. Football hasn’t won eight games or won a bowl game since 2010 and basketball hasn’t reached the Sweet 16 since 2003. Edsall and Turgeon are on the clock.

 

9. Northwestern

Football: Pat Fitzgerald | Basketball: Chris Collins

Two years ago, it would be tough to find a hotter name in coaching that Fitzgerald. In 2012, he had led the Wildcats to a 10-win season and five consecutive bowl appearances. He’s 5-7 in each of his two seasons since. Some hard-luck injuries have been a factor, but either way, the momentum in Evanston has stalled. Hopes are high that Collins, a former Duke assistant, will be the one who turns things around for Northwestern hoops, but it’s a long climb.

 

10. Iowa

Football: Kirk Ferentz | Basketball: Fran McCaffery

Neither coach will win a popularity contest. Ferentz is 34-30 in his last five seasons and struggling to live up to the standard he set with three top-10 finishes from 2002-04. McCaffery is prickly with the media and combustable on the bench, but his team ended an eight-year NCAA Tournament drought last season.

 

11. Purdue

Football: Darrell Hazell | Basketball: Matt Painter

After two losing seasons, Painter is leading Purdue to its best season since Robbie Hummel left. During one stretch, Painter led the Boilermakers to six consecutive NCAA appearances, including two Sweet 16s. Hazell is 4-20 in two seasons with the football program.

 

12. Indiana

Football: Kevin Wilson | Basketball: Tom Crean

Give Indiana credit for featuring two coaches who put up a ton of points but can’t seem to stop anyone from scoring. Crean pulled Indiana out of the depths of NCAA sanctions stemming from the Kelvin Sampson era, but what has it done for the Hoosiers in terms of sustainability? Indiana won 29 games and spent much of the season ranked No. 1 in 2012-13 — yet it yielded a Sweet 16 at the end of that season and a 17-win campaign the next. Indiana football is as good as any Big Ten team on offense — yet hasn’t reached a bowl game in four seasons under Wilson.

 

13. Illinois 

Football: Tim Beckman | Basketball: John Groce

Give Groce credit for making the most of this season despite some bad luck. He missed on some key recruits and had players miss stretches due to injury. But Illinois could reach the NCAA Tournament this year or should at least win 20 games for the third time under Groce. Beckman has led a two-game improvement at Illinois every season as head coach.

 

14. Rutgers

Football: Kyle Flood | Basketball: Eddie Jordan

Three consecutive bowl games at Rutgers is still a notable feat, and Flood has done it in his first three seasons. Rutgers basketball is destined for 10 or more conference losses, no matter the conference or the coach.

Teaser:
Ranking the Big Ten's Football-Basketball Coaching Tandems
Post date: Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-accs-football-basketball-coaching-tandems
Body:

Step back five years and the list of football-basketball coaching tandems in the ACC looks pretty crazy.

 

That Mike Krzyzewski is the basketball representative at Duke probably makes sense, but what about the Blue Devils having a successful football coach?

 

Now, that’s weird.

 

And what about the No. 2 and No. 3 teams on our list: Louisville and Notre Dame were hardly a glimmer in the eye of the ACC several years ago. Notre Dame, of course, isn’t a full member, but we’ve included the Irish here since men’s basketball is an ACC team and the football team by contract plays its fair share of ACC schools.

 

Semantics aside, with Duke football plus Louisville and Notre Dame in the fold, the ACC has assembled a solid group of football-basketball coaching duos.

 

The goal of our coach tandem rankings is to look at each football and basketball duo as a pair. In general, we’re looking at the duos most likely to keep each school’s fans happy and entertained from the start of football season through the end of basketball season.

 

1. Duke

Football: David Cutcliffe | Basketball: Mike Krzyzewski

Krzyzewski’s resume is self-explanatory: More than 1,000 career wins, 11 Final Fours and four national titles. Early NCAA Tournament exits (Mercer in 2014, Lehigh in '12) have vexed the Blue Devils, but that appears to be unlikely with the group Coach K has assembled this season. Cutcliffe has done the unthinkable with the football program by turning the perennial ACC bottom-feeder into a factor in the league race. Duke has won 19 games the last two seasons, reached three consecutive bowl games and won the ACC Coastal Division in 2013.

 

2. Louisville

Football: Bobby Petrino | Basketball: Rick Pitino

The Petrino/Pitino duo is back at Louisville for the first time since 2006. Having both coaches is still a boon for the Cardinals. Petrino went 9-4 and finished in the top 25 in his first season back with the Cardinals, a notable feat considering the revolving door at quarterback and that it was the football program’s indoctrination into the ACC. Petrino has finished in the top 25 in six of 10 seasons as a head coach, including four times in five total seasons at Louisville. Pitino has seven Final Fours and two national championships, including the 2013 title. 

 

3. Notre Dame

Football: Brian Kelly | Basketball: Mike Brey

Is Notre Dame a year-in and year-out powerhouse in either sport? Not yet. Still, both coaches deserve credit for putting the Irish back into the mix. The Irish are two years removed from an undefeated regular season in football, and Kelly is the first Notre Dame coach to post five consecutive winning seasons since Lou Holtz. Mike Brey’s consistency — six NCAA appearances in eight years — gets overlooked because his team hasn’t made it to the Sweet 16 since 2003. Now if only both of them could go a season without losing a player to an academic-related suspension...

 

4. Florida State

Football: Jimbo Fisher | Basketball: Leonard Hamilton

Florida State’s football program is the healthiest it has been since Bobby Bowden was in his prime. In the last three seasons, Fisher has led the Seminoles to a national title, 29 consecutive wins, a College Football Playoff appearance and three ACC titles. The basketball program was on a nice hot streak from 2009-12 under Hamilton with four consecutive NCAA appearances, an ACC tournament title and a trip to the Sweet 16. In three seasons since, FSU has yet to post a winning ACC record.

 

5. North Carolina

Football: Larry Fedora | Basketball: Roy Williams

North Carolina fans don’t like to hear this, but both coaches leave us wanting more these days. Williams is a Hall of Fame coach with seven career Final Fours and two national championships. Yet his team will have five or more ACC losses for the third consecutive season. If Carolina doesn’t reach the Sweet 16 this season, Williams will face his longest Sweet 16 drought since 1998-2000 at Kansas. Fedora’s win total has decreased every season at Carolina, and he’s never finished better than 5-3 in the league.

 

6. Virginia Tech

Football: Frank Beamer | Basketball: Buzz Williams

On career achievements, this duo should rank higher. Virginia Tech is a factor in football because of Beamer, who has been the coach since 1987. And despite 22 consecutive winning seasons, the Hokies are having a bit of identity crisis. The 10- and 11-win seasons have become seven- and eight-win seasons during the last three years. Williams’ credentials at Marquette were impeccable — two Sweet 16s, an Elite Eight and five consecutive NCAAs through 2013 — but he’s working through a major rebuilding project in his first season in Blacksburg.

 

7. Miami

Football: Al Golden | Basketball: Jim Larranaga

Golden left Temple with the reputation of a miracle worker and walked into the Nevin Shapiro mess at Miami. After a self-imposed bowl ban in his first two seasons, Miami went 9-4 in his third year before falling to 6-7 last season. With quarterback Brad Kaaya starting his second season, Golden is entering a critical fifth year. Larranaga has taken George Mason to a Final Four and won the ACC at Miami. That’s a pretty darn good career right there, never mind that he has 547 career wins otherwise.

 

8. Syracuse

Football: Scott Shafer | Basketball: Jim Boeheim

Boeheim probably would like us to spend more time thinking about the four Final Fours, the 2003 championship and the 964 career wins rather than the last 12 months. The Orange were the last undefeated team in the country last season and ended on a 3-6 skid. And now, due to NCAA issues, Syracuse forfeited its chance to go to the postseason this year (in a season that likely would have ended in the NIT anyway). Shafer has had a rough two seasons since taking over for Doug Marrone. Syracuse football is 10-15 overall and 5-11 in the ACC under Shafer.

 

9. Virginia

Football: Mike London | Basketball: Tony Bennett

Bennett is quickly becoming college basketball’s best miracle worker. Despite no McDonald’s All-Americans on his roster, Bennett has the Cavaliers en route to a second consecutive ACC regular-season title. He also has a pair of Sweet 16 appearances under his belt at Virginia and Washington State. London may have saved his job with a three-game improvement in 2014, but the Cavs’ football coach still has three losing season in five years.

 

10. Pittsburgh

Football: Pat Narduzzi | Basketball: Jamie Dixon

Few coaching tandems seem so perfect for their particular school. Dixon has already established a rugged, blue collar program with Pitt basketball, and Narduzzi did the same with his defenses at Michigan State. Dixon’s overall resume at Pitt is great (10 NCAA appearances in 12 seasons), but Pitt is flirting with its second NCAA miss in four years. The Panthers also haven’t reached the Sweet 16 since 2009. Narduzzi is a first-time head coach, but he was in demand as one of the best DCs in the country at Michigan State.

 

11. Clemson

Football: Dabo Swinney | Basketball: Brad Brownell

Swinney has returned Clemson to national prominence. The Tigers have won 10 or more games in four consecutive seasons and finished four seasons in a row in the AP top 25, the first time either has happened since the late '80s/early '90s. The lingering question for 2015 is if he can do it without offensive coordinator Chad Morris. Clemson is no basketball power, but Brownell hasn’t exactly elevated the Tigers, either. He has one NCAA appearance in five seasons. His win in the 2011 First Four is Clemson’s only NCAA win since 1997.

 

12. Georgia Tech

Football: Paul Johnson | Basketball: Brian Gregory

Just when it appeared Georgia Tech hand slid into mediocrity, Johnson led the Yellow Jackets to an 11-win season, a top-10 finish and an Orange Bowl victory. Johnson is unconventional beyond the option offense, but he led Georgia Tech to an ACC title in 2009 and has never had a losing conference season. Gregory is headed to his fourth consecutive season with at least 12 conference losses in four seasons in Atlanta.

 

13. NC State

Football: Dave Doeren | Basketball: Mark Gottfried

Doeren improved from 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the ACC in his first season to 8-5 and 3-5 in his second. Now, the question is if he can take that momentum into his third season. Gottfried has upped the talent level for the basketball program but has delivered sporadic results. Consistency, though, eludes the Wolfpack in basketball right now.

 

14. Boston College

Football: Steve Addazio | Basketball: Jim Christian

Addazio has two identical seasons of 7-6 overall and 4-4 in the ACC, two seasons which actually exceeded preseason expectations. Boston College will have its fourth consecutive losing season overall in Christian’s first season with the program. He has a long climb ahead.

 

15. Wake Forest

Football: Dave Clawson | Basketball: Danny Manning

Clawson and Manning had successful runs at Bowling Green and Tulsa, respectively, but Wake Forest hasn’t given them much to work with in their first seasons in Winston-Salem.

Teaser:
Ranking the ACC's Football-Basketball Coaching Tandems
Post date: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-game-preview-north-carolina-duke-preview-and-predictions
Body:

It’s not just you: The Duke-North Carolina rivalry is played a little later these days.

 

The two Tobacco Road foes meet for the first time on Feb. 18 this season. Last year, they didn’t meet for the first time until Feb. 20. Compare that to years past when the first game generally will be played in early February.

 

The late start doesn’t make the meeting any less interesting. Perhaps even it raises the stakes as both teams have more of their regular season resumes behind them. A win for Duke would be another item on a ledger for a potential No. 1 seed. A win for North Carolina would be a key building block for the Tar Heels’ postseason run.

 

North Carolina at Duke

 

Site: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, N.C.

Time: Wednesday, 9 p.m. Eastern

TV: ESPN

 

What’s up for grabs?

Duke will look to continue its recent dominance of the rivalry. The Blue Devils are 8-3 against North Carolina since 2009 with only one of those losses coming at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Beyond that, postseason considerations are at play. Both teams will have trouble catching Virginia for the ACC regular season title, so both will try to hang onto a top-four finish in the standings and a bye to the quarterfinals in the ACC tournament. Duke is No. 3 in the league at 9-3 while North Carolina is tied for fourth with Louisville at 8-4.

 

You’ll tune in to watch:

Another strong Duke performance or a bounceback effort from North Carolina. The second-half comeback against Virginia on Jan. 31 seemed to re-energize Duke. At that point, the Blue Devils had gone 3-3 in their last six games. Starting with the Virginia win, Duke has won five in a row, including a 30-point rout of Notre Dame. North Carolina will need to be better than what it has shown if it’s going to stop Duke’s momentum. The Tar Heels are starting to look like a team with a clear ceiling. They’ve lost three of their last four to Louisville, Virginia and Pittsburgh and have not defeated a sure-fire NCAA Tournament team since Jan. 10.

 

Pivotal player: Justise Winslow

Duke’s Big Two freshmen of Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones is back to being a Big Three. Winslow is averaging 14 points per game since going scoreless against St. John’s on Jan. 25. Duke is averaging 120 points per 100 possessions during Winslow’s hot streak.

 

Biggest question: Can North Carolina stop anyone?

North Carolina is coming off a miserable defensive performance against Pittsburgh. The Panthers couldn’t miss against the Tar Heels, averaging 1.44 points per possession, shooting 65 percent from the field and assisting on 30 of 37 made field goals. Roy Williams says North Carolina guarded capably in that game, and Pitt just made shots. That may be true, but UNC is 10th in the ACC in defensive efficiency and hasn’t held an opponent to under one point per possession since facing Wake Forest on Jan. 24.

 

Predictions:

David Fox: Duke 80-67

Mitch Light: Duke 76-70

Jake Rose: Duke 78-66

Teaser:
College Basketball Game Preview: North Carolina at Duke Preview and Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, February 18, 2015 - 08:20
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/seton-halls-sterling-gibbs-suspended-after-punching-villanovas-ryan-arcidiacono
Body:

Seton Hall suspended guard Sterling Gibbs for two games for throwing a punch at Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono while fighting for a loose ball during the Wildcats’ 80-54 win Monday.

 

Gibbs was ejected for a flagrant foul for the incident in the second half.

 

Gibbs was clearly remorseful after the incident, apologizing publicly to Arcidiacono on Twitter. To the Villanova guard’s credit, he accepted the apology and moved on.

 

 

In a statement after the game, Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said:

 

“I am extremely disappointed in Sterling’s actions tonight. Our student-athletes are entrusted to uphold the morals and values of good sportsmanship and personal conduct that we preach to them on a daily basis. Tonight’s incident involved a young man of high character showing poor judgement in the heat of competition. It was regrettable, and we will address the issue.”

 

In the immediate aftermath, ESPN analyst Jay Williams tweeted that Gibbs should be suspended for the remainder of the season.

 

 

 

 

The Gibbs incident is the latest setback in a season that started with promise for Seton Hall. The Pirates, who have not reached the NCAA Tournament since 2006, started 12-2. However, Seton Hall has lost five in a row and eight of its last 10 in conference play.

 

Gibbs and star freshman Isaiah Whitehead nearly came to blows after a loss to Georgetown last week, reported The Setonian, the school’s campus newspaper. Starting guard Jaren Sina abruptly left the team last week.

 

Willard attempted to downplay the issues surrounding his team.

 

“There is no chaos outside the program,” Willard told NJ.com. “The only chaos is you guys (the media).”

Teaser:
Seton Hall's Sterling Gibbs Suspended After Punching Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono
Post date: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 13:52
All taxonomy terms: MLB, Overtime, News
Path: /mlb/jim-cantore-shares-incredible-images-fenway-covered-snow
Body:

Opening Day is less than two months away.

 

Just keep repeating that, Boston Red Sox fans. Maybe it will help warm the soul. After one look at Fenway Park, though, maybe not.

 

Boston is enduring its snowiest month on record, and not even Fenway can escape.

 

The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore and his producer Steve Petyerak tweeted several images of Fenway buried in snow during the last few weeks. The white stuff is piled up to the right field wall but not quite to the Green Monster. Yet.

 

The images are pretty remarkable.

 

The Red Sox home opener is April 13 against the Nationals, assuming the snow can be cleared by then.

 

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
Jim Cantore Shares Incredible Images of Fenway Covered in Snow
Post date: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 11:16
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, SEC, News
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-secs-football-basketball-coaching-tandems
Body:

The SEC in general is regarded as the nation’s most football-mad conference. That much is true, but no longer is that coming at the expense of basketball.

 

Football coaches in the league generally will have among the highest salaries in the country and the most tools at their disposal to contend for national championships.

 

Outside of Kentucky, basketball hasn’t been as much of a consistent priority.

 

All it takes to see that this is changing is a quick peek at Auburn. The Tigers have one of the top football coaches in the league in Gus Malzahn, arguably the best offensive mind in the SEC. Now, they have one of the top basketball coaches.

 

After rolling the dice on Jeff Lebo and Tony Barbee, Auburn went with a proven winner in the SEC and a big-time personality in Bruce Pearl. That move gives Auburn the best one-two coaching punch in the SEC.

 

The goal of our coach tandem rankings is to look at each football and basketball duo as a pair. In general, we’re looking at the duos most likely to keep each school’s fans happy and entertained from the start of football season through the end of basketball season.

 

So even though Alabama has a great football coach and Kentucky has a great basketball coach, their counterparts on the other side of the athletic department are working to pick up the slack — with varying degrees of success.

 

1. Auburn

Football: Gus Malzahn | Basketball: Bruce Pearl

During the course of two seasons, Auburn made two hires that changed the trajectory of its football and basketball program. Football had been relatively consistent back to the Pat Dye era, but it was clear Malzahn and his up-tempo, run-oriented offense brought something special to the Tigers. He was the offensive coordinator of the 2010 championship team and took Auburn back to the title game in the first season after his return in 2013. The ascent won’t be as rapid for the basketball program under Pearl, who has reached the Sweet 16 or better in four of his last seven seasons as head coach. Still, he’s brought in elite recruits and already has Auburn basketball fans following his cult of personality.

 

2. Kentucky

Football: Mark Stoops | Basketball: John Calipari

Calipari has simply led the Kentucky basketball program to an undefeated start this season — and that’s on the heels of an appearance in the national championship game. Simply put, no one in the game is better at recruiting top talent, and he may never get the credit he deserves in managing the egos of players who are one step away from the NBA Draft lottery. The football program is a tougher sell, but Stoops is doing good work. Stoops signed a top-25 class in 2014 and kept the 2015 class respectable. Kentucky improved from 2-10 to 5-7 in Stoops’ second season and could have been bowl eligible if not for close calls with Florida and Louisville.

 

3. Arkansas

Football: Bret Bielema | Basketball: Mike Anderson

Say this about Arkansas’ coaching duo: They create a clear identity. Bielema knows exactly what he wants to do with his program — build a punishing run game behind an imposing offensive line. That led to a surprising turnaround in his second season with the Hogs, going from 3-9 to 7-6 in 2014. Anderson has a similar identity with the 40 Minutes of Hell inspired by his mentor Nolan Richardson. The turnaround has been a little slower for Anderson, though this will be his best season — and first NCAA appearance — in four years at Arkansas.

 

4. South Carolina

Football: Steve Spurrier | Basketball: Frank Martin

We liked this duo a little more a year ago. At that point, Spurrier had South Carolina on a streak of three consecutive 11-win seasons and top-10 finishes. On the basketball side, Martin deserved the benefit of the doubt as he tried to revive South Carolina’s moribund basketball program. History still says these guys will figure it out, but this has not been a great year for South Carolina’s football and men’s basketball programs. Six combined conference wins makes this a year to forget.

 

5. Alabama

Football: Nick Saban | Basketball: Anthony Grant

Saban has few peers in college football coaching. In a ranking of football coaches alone, Saban would be at or near the top, depending on where Ohio State’s Urban Meyer fits. Basketball is another story. Grant arrived at Alabama as one of the hot young coaches in the sport after his tenure at VCU. The Crimson Tide, though, have been inconsistent on the court despite talented rosters. One NCAA Tournament appearance in six seasons might not be enough for Grant to stay in Tuscaloosa.

 

6. Florida

Football: Jim McElwain | Basketball: Billy Donovan

The Spurrier-Donovan and Meyer-Donovan duos were among the best tandems in the country. The constant has been Donovan, who is having an uncharacteristically subpar season after three Elite Eights and a Final Four. That said, he should win 500 career games by the time he’s 50. McElwain’s track record as a head coach is only three years long, but he took Colorado State from four wins to eight to 10.

 

7. Ole Miss

Football: Hugh Freeze | Basketball: Andy Kennedy

Freeze has led Ole Miss on a steady rise on the football field from seven wins to eight to nine. The latest season was not a hollow nine wins by any means as the Rebels were ranked as high as No. 3 and reached one of the coveted Playoff contract bowl slots in the Peach Bowl. Meanwhile, Kennedy has been Ole Miss for nine years, hard to believe as it is. He finally got over the NIT hump in 2013 with a trip to the NCAA round of 32. He should lead Ole Miss to the second NCAA berth of his tenure this season.

 

8. Texas A&M

Football: Kevin Sumlin | Basketball: Billy Kennedy

Sumlin has proven that Texas A&M will be a factor in the SEC and in recruiting. He’s delivered upsets of No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Auburn, a Heisman trophy and a top-10 finish — yet overall his teams are 13-11 in the SEC. Kennedy has yet to deliver a 20-win season to the Aggies in four seasons in basketball. If that doesn’t change this year, it probably will next season when the Aggies add a highly touted signing class.

 

9. LSU

Football: Les Miles | Basketball: Johnny Jones

Perhaps no coaching duo in the country causes more high blood pressure among its fans. Miles’ teams have won 10 more games in four of the last five seasons, but end-of-game situations have been — shall we say — dramatic. Jones’ teams have had the talent to go toe-to-toe with teams like Kentucky, but they’ve been susceptible to puzzling losses during the last two seasons. LSU’s conference record in football has declined every year since 2011, and the basketball program has yet to reach the NCAA Tournament under Jones.

 

10. Georgia

Football: Mark Richt | Basketball: Mark Fox

The Marks make up the longest-tenured football/basketball tandem in the SEC with 19 seasons combined. They’ve also been the victim of a little bad luck in recent years. Richt has watched key injuries claim some of his top players on offense (though his team won 18 games the last two seasons anyway), and Fox watched players unexpectedly leave early for the NBA Draft (though his team should reach the NCAA Tournament this season). Georgia football hasn’t won an SEC title since 2005, and Georgia basketball hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2002.

 

11. Mississippi State

Football: Dan Mullen | Basketball: Rick Ray

Mullen enjoyed a breakout last season, taking a consistent bowl team to College Football Playoff contention. Mullen was already the first Mississippi State coach to go to four consecutive bowl games before going 10-3 and reaching the Orange Bowl last season. Ray has a major rebuild on his hands with the basketball program, but the Bulldogs have already eclipsed last year’s SEC win total (from three to five) and could pass their overall win total (14) from his first season.

 

12. Missouri

Football: Gary Pinkel | Basketball: Kim Anderson

Since 2007, Pinkel has led Missouri to two Big 12 championship games and two SEC championship games. The Tigers are 0-4 in title games, but Mizzou’s status as an overachiever in both conferences under Pinkel is ironclad. Missouri isn’t a recruiting powerhouse by any means, but the Tigers have been competitive with the powers in two conferences at the top of their games. In basketball, Anderson gets an incomplete grade at best. Coming from Division II, Anderson was a questionable hire to begin with, and his first roster at Mizzou is hardly SEC-ready.

 

13. Tennessee

Football: Butch Jones | Basketball: Donnie Tyndall

For the first time since Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee may have a football coach who will stick. Jones delivered the Volunteers’ first winning season since 2009 and picked up major momentum in recruiting during the last two cycles. Optimism is at a high point, but the Volunteers are still seeking their first winning conference season since 2007. Tyndall, a standout coach at the mid-major level, has done fine work with a rebuilding basketball team in his first season, but NCAA issues from Southern Miss are following him in Knoxville.

 

14. Vanderbilt

Football: Derek Mason | Basketball: Kevin Stallings

Mason has the unfortunate task of following up James Franklin at a place that just started to get used to competing in the SEC. Mason went 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the SEC in his debut season and immediately shuffled his coaching staff. Stallings is the second-longest tenured basketball coach in the league after Donovan and is generally regarded as one of the league’s best minds. Yet since the Jeffery Taylor/John Jenkins/Festus Ezeli class left, Vanderbilt is 19-29 in the SEC in three seasons.

Teaser:
Ranking the SEC's Football-Basketball Coaching Tandems
Post date: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/michigans-austin-hatch-receives-usbwa-most-courageous-award
Body:

Michigan freshman basketball player Austin Hatch will receive the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Most Courageous Award for 2015 for his perseverance in the face of unthinkable adversity.

 

If you haven’t heard about Hatch’s background, you should. It’s been one of the most inspiring stories of the basketball season.

 

Hatch survived two separate plane crashes over the course of eight years, but lost members of his immediate family in both. Four years ago, after the second plane crash, Hatch spent two months in a coma with a traumatic brain injury.

 

After intensive rehab, Hatch eventually enrolled at Michigan where John Beilein honored his scholarship. He’s played in four games this season.

 

When Hatch was 8, he and his father survived a plane crash that claimed the life of his mother, older sister and younger brother. In 2011, after Hatch’s commitment to Michigan, Hatch was involved in another plane crash that claimed the life of his father and stepmother.

 

Hatch has shared his story several times this season. It’s worth your time to check it out:

 

 

 

Here’s a clip from Hatch’s first appearance in an exhibition game against Wayne State:

 

 

Teaser:
Michigan's Austin Hatch Receives USBWA Most Courageous Award
Post date: Monday, February 16, 2015 - 18:26
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/too-soon-rivals-will-actively-monitor-two-sixth-grade-prospects
Body:

Projecting how high school athletes might perform on the college and pro level is difficult enough.

 

Now, Rivals.com will monitor at least two sixth graders for the first time in the history of the site.

 

In a post last week about a camp in Boston for middle school athletes, Rivals mentioned Tyson Thornton of Springfield, Mass., and Daron Bryden of Enfield, Conn., will be the first sixth grade prospects the site will “actively monitor.”

 

Monitoring eighth graders isn’t new for Rivals. The site is tracking as many as 15 eighth graders, but no seventh graders, according to SI.com. Even colleges have been known to take commitments from prospects as young as 13 or 14, even though they can’t by rule hand out written scholarship offers until the start of their senior years.

 

Sixth graders — that’s the class of 2021, by the way — is new and questionable ground.

 

Just as a point of clarity, let’s point out that the two sixth graders were moved up at the camp to compete with the eighth graders, so at least in the eyes of the NextGen Boston organizers, these kids are ahead of the curve. And Thornton is a 5-foot-11, 167-pound sixth grader.

 

But Bryden is a 5-foot-2 quarterback. By “actively monitor,” does Rivals intend on charting the kids’ growth spurts in real time? How often will Rivals recruiting analysts be in touch with middle school kids (or parents)?

 

Bryden actually has a pretty interesting story. Both his mother and father are deaf, though he and his siblings are not. Bryden also appeared on “Kids Do the Darndest Things” when he beat NFL quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in an accuracy competition.

 

 

But this is all pretty weird, right? Covering 11-year-olds as recruiting athletes or college or pro prospects is a little overboard isn’t helpful to anybody, is it?

 

Teaser:
Rivals Will Start to Actively Monitor At Least Two Sixth-Grade Prospects
Post date: Monday, February 16, 2015 - 17:25
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/ranking-big-12s-football-basketball-coaching-tandems
Body:

The Big 12 academic year has been an experiment in contrasts in recent years.

 

In football, new powers have taken over with Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State claiming championships since 2011.

 

Yet in basketball, the old guard — the only true blue blood in the league — continues to rule as Kansas appears headed to its 11th consecutive Big 12 title.

 

It makes sense, then, that of the top football-basketball coaching tandems on our list, one comes from a traditional power and the other comes from a new-age contender.

 

Oklahoma tops our list even after a lackluster football season by Bob Stoops’ standards. The Sooners, in general, are contenders in both football and men’s basketball under Stoops and Lon Kruger, respectively.

 

That said, Baylor is quickly gaining. Art Briles has claimed the last two Big 12 football titles, and basketball coach Scott Drew looks to have one of the better teams of his tenure, only a year after reaching the Sweet 16.

 

Indeed, these are strange times in the Big 12 when Baylor — a non-factor in both sports a decade ago — is pressing to have the most competitive program in an academic year.

 

The goal of our coach tandem rankings is to look at each football and basketball duo as a pair. In general, we’re looking at the duos most likely to keep each school’s fans happy and entertained from the start of football season through the end of basketball season.

 

That means it may look at little strange to see a top football coach or top basketball coach near the bottom of the rankings. That’s nothing against, say, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self. Rather, the football side is the one that has to kick it up a notch to at least give Jayhawks fans something to cheer in September and October before basketball season rolls around.

 

1. Oklahoma

Football: Bob Stoops | Basketball: Lon Kruger

Even though Stoops is coming off an 8-5 campaign, the most disappointing since he’s been a head coach, Oklahoma has the most solid coaching duo in the league. Stoops has won at least 10 games in four of the last five seasons and made more BCS games than any other coach under the old system. Kruger, whose forte is rebuilding programs, has completed his reclamation of OU basketball with his best team this season. No program is more likely to be in a major bowl game and the NCAA Tournament in the same season as Oklahoma.

 

2. Baylor

Football: Art Briles | Basketball: Scott Drew

The year before Briles was hired, Baylor football was riding 12 consecutive losing seasons. When Drew was hired, Baylor was emerging from one of the biggest scandals in college basketball history. It’s tough to find a duo who improved their school’s situation more from the day they were hired until 2015. Briles had Baylor on the verge of the College Football Playoff and won the last two Big 12 titles. And Drew has twice taken Baylor basketball to the Elite Eight and once to the Sweet 16.

 

3. Kansas State

Football: Bill Snyder | Basketball: Bruce Weber

Kansas State failed to sign a top 50 recruiting class in 2015, but that doesn’t matter. We’ll end up talking about the Wildcats as a top 10 team at some point anyway. That’s the deal for Snyder, whose teams have been the biggest overachievers in college football. Weber’s team has fallen below expectations this season, but he’s still two years removed from a 27-win season and a share of the Big 12 title.

 

4. TCU

Football: Gary Patterson | Basketball: Trent Johnson

In only TCU’s third season in the Big 12, the Horned Frogs won a share of the league and were in playoff contention until the final week of the season. Most of all, Patterson deserves credit for altering his offensive philosophy for a 12-1 season in 2014, not an easy ask for any coach who had already been wildly successful earlier in his career with two BCS bowls out of the Mountain West. Johnson, who took both Nevada and Stanford to the Sweet 16, has an uphill battle with TCU’s neglected basketball program, but the Frogs’ 14 wins this season is the most of his tenure.

 

5. Texas

Football: Charlie Strong | Basketball: Rick Barnes

Is there any reason why Texas shouldn’t have the best coaching tandem in the league? Not long ago, Texas indeed had one of the top duos. From 2003-05, the Longhorns reached a Final Four and won a football title under Mack Brown and Barnes. Now, both programs are in a state of flux. Strong is entering Year Two of his project to return the Longhorns to national contention. Barnes has reached the NCAA Tournament in 15 of 16 seasons at Texas, but this season is shaping up to be another disappointing campaign. Barnes’ preseason top 10 team is flirting with a losing record in the Big 12.

 

6. Oklahoma State

Football: Mike Gundy | Basketball: Travis Ford

Are either Gundy or Ford the most accomplished coaches at their individual sports in the Big 12? No. But remember, this is a ranking of tandems, and it’s tough to argue Oklahoma State keeps things interesting from the start of football season until the end of basketball season. Gundy has led Oklahoma State to four of Oklahoma State’s 10 top 20 finishes all time, including No. 3 and a Big 12 title in 2011. Ford has made up for last season’s disappointing 21-13 campaign with a surprising top-25 team this year.

 

7. Kansas

Football: David Beaty | Basketball: Bill Self

Remember: This is a ranking of coaching tandems as a duo. Self is is on his way to his 11th consecutive Big 12 title, but football is on its third football coach since its last bowl game. The football side made a bold move in hiring the 44-year-old ace recruiter Beaty. The former Texas A&M position coach is an unknown commodity, but being an unknown is a step up from his predecessor, who was known to not be very good.

 

8. Iowa State

Football: Paul Rhoads | Basketball: Fred Hoiberg

Iowa State needs to be creative to be competitive. The Cyclones have creativity at both spots. Hoiberg as turned Iowa State into Transfer U and one of the few places that plays an up-tempo — and successful — offensive system. Rhoads has been notable for his impassioned speeches, but he has one winning season and a career 14-48 Big 12 record in six years.

 

9. West Virginia

Football: Dana Holgorsen | Basketball: Bob Huggins

No doubt, this is one of the more interesting college pairings in terms of personality. And as a Big East tandem, it was one of the best. Holgorsen won the Big East in his first season, but he’s 18-20 in three seasons in the Big 12. Huggins has 758 career wins and reached the Final Four with WVU in 2010, but he’s yet to reach the NCAA Tournament as a Big 12 member.

 

10. Texas Tech

Football: Kliff Kingsbury | Basketball: Tubby Smith

This would make an interesting buddy cop show. The two are separated in age by 28 years. Kingsbury is Coach Cool. Tubby Smith is ... not as cool. What would make both coaches more cool, though, would be more wins. Since starting his career with seven consecutive wins, Kingsbury is 5-13. Meanwhile, Smith led Kentucky to the 1998 national title but hasn’t had a winning conference record in the Big Ten or Big 12 since leaving Kentucky. 

Teaser:
Ranking the Big 12's Football-Basketball Coaching Tandems
Post date: Monday, February 16, 2015 - 08:20
Path: /college-football/minnesota-mascot-annoying-other-big-ten-teams-cheesy-valentines
Body:

Watch out, @TheOregonDuck, you’re about to have company as the best college  mascot on Twitter.

 

@GoldyTheGopher is finding a fond place in our hearts — appropriately — this Valentine’s Day weekend with Valentines for the other Big Ten mascots.

 

Just like in elementary school, everyone in the class gets a Valentine.

 

If you like the Big Ten, Valentines and bad puns, this should be a delight:

 

Teaser:
Minnesota Mascot is Annoying Other Big Ten Teams With Cheesy Valentines
Post date: Friday, February 13, 2015 - 12:04
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/who-will-be-college-basketballs-national-player-year
Body:

At this time last year, the folks with the Wooden Award and Naismith Award could have started engraving Doug McDermott’s name on the national player of the year trophy.

 

The Creighton forward started the season as one of the favorites and turned it into a one-man race early into conference play.

 

This season could have more drama. The player of the year race may be as heated as any 2010-11 when BYU’s Jimmer Fredette and UConn’s Kemba Walker battled for end-of-year hardware and the scoring title until late into the season.

 

This year might be the year two centers — unless a freshman guard in the Big Ten starts to make a late push — go for the top award at the end of the season.

 

The Wooden Award released its late season top 20 list Wednesday, so this is as good a time as any to survey the field.

 

We’ve ranked the top 20 players on that list by their likelihood of taking home the Wooden Award other national postseason honors.

 

1. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin

Frank the Tank is even better than he was a year ago when he scored 43 points in a game and carried Wisconsin to the Final Four. His numbers are up across the board for a team that’s 21-1 when he’s in the lineup. He’s averaging 17.3 points per game (up from 13.9 last season) and 8.3 rebounds (up from 6.3). Perhaps what’s most striking for a seven-footer who hits 40 percent of his free throws is that he’s improved as a passer, averaging 2.5 assists per game. Kaminsky is the only player in the country averaging 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists and 1.5 blocks per game.

 

2. Jahlil Okafor, Duke

Okafor lived up to the hype and more. He’s the best true center in the college game in decades and arguably the best freshman since Anthony Davis or Kevin Durant. Okafor averages 1.6 points per field goal attempt, an outlandish number for a player averaging 18 points per game in a major conference. Okafor also ranks fourth nationally in offensive rating on KenPom.

 

3. D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State

Russell is making a late push for Big Ten player of the year and national freshman of the year, remarkable considering he’s in competition for those awards with Frank Kaminsky and Jahlil Okafor, respectively. Russell has become the most exciting player in the Big Ten, if not the country. His versatility at Ohio State is akin to 2010 player of the year Evan Turner. In Big Ten play, Russell is averaging 21.3 points per game, 7.2 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.6 steals. His offensive rating of 121.0 ranks third in the country, two spots ahead of Okafor.

 

4. Delon Wright, Utah

Utah’s multi-dimensional guard has put the Utes into Pac-12 contention. Wright is averaging 14.2 points and 3.1 assists per turnover while leading Utah’s standout defense. The 6-5 guard was one of the nation’s most underrated players a year ago, and now he could be an All-American.

 

5. Montrezl Harrell, Louisville

Harrell, the most important player to opt for school instead of the NBA Draft, picked up where he left off last season as one of the most imposing players in the country. He’s averaging 15.8 points and 9.2 rebounds — both career bests — for a top-10 Louisville team. It’s easy to see why. The big man has developed an all-around offensive game all the way out to the 3-point line.

 

6. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame

Grant has come back from his extended absence last season to average 17 points per game and plenty of clutch performances. Grant played his best game of the season against Duke (23 points, 12 assists, six rebounds in South Bend) and one of his worst games against Duke (3-of-10, seven points in Durham).

 

7. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky

Someone needs to be on the list to represent undefeated Kentucky, and it may as well be Cauley-Stein, the Wildcats’ most experienced player and anchor of the defense. Because of Kentucky’s platoon, it’s more useful to look at Cauley-Stein’s per-40 minute numbers. Cauley-Stein averages 14.3 points per 40 minutes to go with 9.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.

 

8. Justin Anderson, Virginia

Anderson would have been a compelling case for postseason awards. His 13.4 points per game don’t jump off the page — he ranks 19th in the ACC in scoring. With Virginia’s tempo and balance, that has to be taken in context. Anderson is arguably 21-1 Virginia’s most valuable player. That said, his stock for award season will drop due to the hand injury that will keep him out 4-6 weeks.

 

9. Bobby Portis, Arkansas

Even as Kentucky overwhelms the conversation in the SEC, it’s impossible to overlook the season Portis is having in Fayetteville. He’s one of the most improved players in the country, going from 12.3 points per game on an NIT team to 17.9 for a team that’s close to sealing an at-large bid. Portis has turned it up in conference play, averaging 19.3 points and 11 rebounds in the SEC.

 

10. Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

The Big 12 may be the best conference in the country, or at least the most balanced from top to bottom. Yet, the league doesn’t have a ton of guys in All-America contention. Oklahoma has been streaky this season, but not Hield. He’s averaging 19.5 points per game in Big 12 play, though OU might be better when the Sooners are more balanced. He averages 18 points per game in eight Big 12 wins and 22.5 points in four conference losses.

 

11. Ron Baker, Wichita State

Few 21-3 teams receive less pub. Part of that is the shadow of the Shockers’ 35-0 start a year ago. Baker, though, is as steady as ever. He’s averaging 15.5 points per game, up from 13.1 a year ago. He’s also up for 41.3 shooting from 3-point range despite shooting at a greater volume (six 3s per game) than a year ago.

 

12. Stanley Johnson, Arizona

Johnson turned the ball over seven times in his final non-conference game, a loss to UNLV. Johnson is averaging only two turnovers per game since to go with 14.7 points per game in conference play.

 

13. Tyus Jones, Duke

That’s two Duke freshmen in the national player of the year race, and that doesn’t count Justise Winslow playing at an elite level during stretches this season. All Jones has done is displace a senior at point guard for a top-five team and average 5.3 assists per game for a 3.8 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s also proven to be a clutch 3-point shooter (39.5 percent).

 

14. Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga

Pangos’ scoring is down from the last two seasons at 12.1 points per game, but there’s no doubt who Gonzaga’s top player is. Pangos is the floor general of a balanced offensive team that is 24-1 and nearing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He averages 3.6 assists per turnover.

 

15. Georges Niang, Iowa State

Even as Iowa State has six guys averaging double figures, Niang is the focal point. The 6-foot-8 forward leads the Cyclones at 14.9 points and is second in rebounds (5.3) and assists (3.5). He’s the Big 12’s best mismatch.

 

16. Terry Rozier, Louisville

Rozier has slid into the void left by Russ Smith, averaging 18.7 points per game as a sophomore and leading one of the most aggressive backcourts in the country. Rozier is also averaging 5.7 rebounds after Wednesday's double double against Pittsburgh.

 

17. Chasson Randle, Stanford

At 20.3 points per game, Randle accounts for 27.1 percent of Stanford’s scoring, the highest rate for anyone on this list.

 

18. Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga

A forgotten man at Kentucky, Wiltjer has flourished at Gonzaga. The Bulldogs’ leading scorer, Wiltjer is 10th in the country in points per 40 minutes (24.9).

 

19. Juwan Staten, West Virginia

West Virginia is enjoying a turnaround season, and Staten deserves his due for two outstanding seasons in Morgantown after his transfer from Dayton. Still, West Virginia has been sliding in recent weeks due to struggles in the halfcourt.

 

20. Tyler Haws, BYU

Haws is second in the nation at 22.5 points per game and is second in KenPom’s offensive rating, but he plays for a fringe NCAA Tournament team. A tough sell.

Teaser:
Who Will Be College Basketball's National Player of the Year?
Post date: Thursday, February 12, 2015 - 09:47
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/bubble-watch-michigan-state-lsu-texas-am-and-ole-miss-face-critical-week
Body:

The bubble watch is on.

 

Selection Sunday is less than five weeks away and the bracket is starting to take shape.

 

We’re pretty sure we know the teams in contention for the No. 1 seeds and teams that are safely in, which of course leaves the bubble — all the teams that have done some good things and some bad things through the first three months of the season.

 

For better or worse, most of those teams can get off the bubble, either solidifying their Tournament credentials or playing their way out.

 

Here’s a look at the 10 teams under the most pressure this week.

 

All RPI and schedule strength figures are from CBSSports and Jerry Palm.

 

LSU (17-6, 6-4 SEC)

This week: Kentucky (Tuesday), at Tennessee (Saturday)

The good: LSU is 4-2 against the RPI top 50, including true road wins over West Virginia and Ole Miss.

The bad: The Tigers have lost to sub-150 RPI teams in Auburn, Missouri and Mississippi State.

The bubble: Handing Kentucky its first loss of the season would solidify LSU’s status in the field, but that road trip to Tennessee may be the more important game given LSU’s lapses in games it should win.

 

Seton Hall (15-8, 5-6 Big East)

This week: Georgetown (Tuesday), at Providence (Saturday) 

The good: Seton Hall is one of two teams to beat Villanova this season.

The bad: The Pirates have been swept by DePaul and Butler.

The bubble: Seton Hall is 3-6 since its overtime upset of Villanova on Jan. 3. The next four games are brutal with Georgetown at home and Providence, Villanova and St. John’s on the road next week. Not a good situation for a team already trending the wrong way.

 

Michigan State (15-8, 6-4 Big Ten)

This week: at Northwestern (Tuesday), Ohio State (Saturday)

The good: KenPom likes Michigan State better than the RPI, ranking the Spartans at No. 28 (compared to No. 52 in the RPI).

The bad: Michigan State is 0-4 against the RPI top 30.

The bubble: Saturday’s home loss to Illinois puts Michigan State onto the bubble. The Spartans can’t (and probably won’t) lose to Northwestern. Facing RPI No. 35 Ohio State in East Lansing will be critical.

 

Texas A&M (16-6, 7-3 SEC)

This week: Georgia (Wednesday), Florida (Saturday)

The good: Texas A&M is 7-3 in the SEC. 

The bad: The Aggies don’t have a top 50 RPI win.

The bubble: Second place in the SEC won’t be enough to guarantee an NCAA Tournament berth. The next three games against RPI No. 24 Georgia, No. 67 Florida and No. 51 LSU — all at home — are huge for the Aggies’ hopes.

 

NC State (14-10, 5-6 ACC)

This week: Virginia (Wednesday), at Louisville (Saturday)

The good: The Wolfpack rank 11th in strength of schedule and defeated RPI No. 4 Duke on Jan. 11.

The bad: After a loss to Wake Forest a week ago, NC State is already up to double-digit losses. The Wolfpack haven't won back-to-back games since early December.

The bubble: For NC State to stay in the discussion, the Wolfpack may need to split the week against top 15 opponents. NC State will face Virginia in its first game without guard Justin Anderson.

 

St. John’s (15-8, 4-6 Big East)

This week: DePaul (Wednesday), at Xavier (Saturday)

The good: The Red Storm are ranked No. 50 in the RPI and No. 27 in strength of schedule. St. John’s swept Providence for its two top-50 wins.

The bad: Providence may be the only NCAA at-large team St. John’s has defeated this season.

The bubble: A home loss to DePaul would be devastating. Road wins over Xavier on Saturday and/or Georgetown on Tuesday would put St. John’s back on the right track.

 

The Mountain West

This week: Wyoming at San Diego State (Wednesday), Colorado State at San Diego State (Saturday)

The good: Colorado State (20-4, 7-4 MW) has the best RPI in the Mountain West plus a home win already over San Diego State. Wyoming (19-5, 8-3 MW) completed a season sweep of Colorado State last week.

The bad: Neither team has a top-75 non-conference win.

The bubble: If Mountain West at-large bids go through San Diego State, this will be the key week.

 

Ole Miss (16-7, 7-3 SEC)

This week: at Florida (Thursday), Arkansas (Saturday)

The good: The Rebels are No. 39 in RPI and 3-3 against the top 50.

The bad: Ole Miss has home losses to Western Kentucky, TCU and Charleston Southern.

The bubble: Splitting the week would maintain the status quo. Two wins would further solidify the Rebels’ chances. Ole Miss already has wins against each of these teams this season.

 

Purdue (15-9, 7-4 Big Ten)

This week: at Rutgers (Thursday), Nebraska (Sunday) 

The good: The Boilermakers have three top 40 wins (Indiana, Ohio State and Iowa).

The bad: All of those wins were at home. So were bad losses to Gardner-Webb and North Florida.

The bubble: The Boilers are hanging on, but they’ll lose their grip if they don’t go 2-0 this week.

 

Illinois (16-8, 6-5 Big Ten)

This week: Michigan (Thursday), at Wisconsin (Sunday)

The good: Defeating Michigan State on the road was a signature moment, but Illinois had already picked up two top 20 wins before Jan. 7 (Baylor on a neutral court, Maryland).

The bad: Illinois has lost five games to teams ranked between Nos. 50-100.

The bubble: Asking Illinois to beat Wisconsin in Madison may be too much to ask, but the Illini need to beat Michigan to avoid a season sweep to the Wolverines.

Teaser:
Bubble Watch: Michigan State, LSU, Texas A&M and Ole Miss Face Critical Weeks
Post date: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - 15:25
All taxonomy terms: Kentucky Wildcats, SEC, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/when-will-kentucky-basketball-lose-its-first-game
Body:

Kentucky isn’t the only team chasing history in the SEC.

 

The Wildcats took another team’s best shot Saturday in a 67-61 win over Florida, but as has been the case in close calls all season, Kentucky continued its march to an undefeated regular season and more.

 

That Florida gave Kentucky a game is little surprise to John Calipari, who has come to expect that every team is looking for its signature moment of the season when it faces the Wildcats. 

 

A game against Kentucky is a game to end the streak, a chance to be the ultimate spoiler.

 

“There will be games where players play out of their minds,” Calipari said. “After the game, Billy (Donovan) said it was the best game by far they’ve played all year. ... That’s every game we play.”

 

Ironically, Kentucky was in this spot less than a year ago, knocking off a 35-0 Wichita State team in the NCAA Tournament. The end of the Shockers’ bid at 40-0 was only the start of the run for Kentucky. The only interruption between the NCAA Tournament a year ago and today was a loss in the title game to UConn.

 

On paper, Kentucky will be favored in every game — SEC or otherwise — until a potential Final Four, but a pristine record is far more fragile in reality than it is on paper.

 

KenPom.com gives Kentucky at least an 84 percent chance to beat each individual opponent during the final eight games. The same projection, however, predicts a 30-1 record at the end of the regular season and a 56.7 percent chance to go undefeated.

 

In other words, Kentucky will be a heavy favorite in each game to finish the season, but the chances of the Wildcats going 8-0 in totality is not quite as certain.

 

So when might that mystery loss occur? Here’s a look at Kentucky’s final eight opponents and if they might have what it takes to make history against the Wildcats.

 

Feb. 10: at LSU

LSU may have the most pro potential of SEC teams not named Kentucky, and the Tigers get UK in Baton Rouge only three days after a close call in Gainesville. That’s roughly 10 hours on a plane between Saturday and tipoff at LSU on Tuesday, plus two raucous atmospheres. LSU is one of the few SEC teams that may be able to match up against Kentucky’s size with 6-foot-10 Jarell Martin and 6-8 Jordan Mickey. Beyond the forwards, LSU also has a 6-6 emerging guard in Tim Quarterman (though he doesn’t have the bulk of the Harrisons). If point guard Josh Gray can play under control and Keith Hornsby is knocking down shots, LSU could give Kentucky fits.

Will Kentucky lose this game? Maybe

 

Feb. 14: South Carolina

One of Kentucky’s closest calls this season came in double overtime against Texas A&M. The Aggies — who are second in SEC play in 2-point defense — held Kentucky to 9-of-36 from inside the 3-point line. South Carolina doesn’t have the size and length Texas A&M does, but the Gamecocks nonetheless have a strong interior defense, holding opponents to 41.9 percent shooting from 2. There's also some history here. South Carolina defeated Kentucky in Columbia last season and took out a John Wall-led team in 2010.

Will Kentucky lose this game? Nope

 

Feb. 17: at Tennessee

Tennessee will be an interesting matchup, particularly for Kentucky point guard Andrew Harrison. The Volunteers lead the SEC in defensive turnover rate and steal rate in conference games, and Harrison, while improved this season, is as streaky as they come. Just in the last week, he played his best game of the year against Georgia (23 points, seven assists, one turnover) and then one of his worst against Florida (one point, two assists, three turnovers). Playing against Tennessee will require patience against the zone and patience against a team that’s averaging the fewest possessions per game in the SEC (62.9). Kentucky already had some difficulty with the next two slowest-tempo teams in the league, Vanderbilt and Florida.

Will Kentucky lose this game? It’s plausible

 

Feb. 21: Auburn

No team shoots more 3-pointers than Auburn at 20.7 per game. The problem is the Tigers make only 33.4 percent of them, ranking eighth in the SEC. Maybe Auburn will have a ridiculous day from the 3-point line as Ole Miss did on Jan. 6 when the Rebels went 9-of-17 in an 89-86 overtime loss. That is the only chance Auburn has to end a streak of its own: Auburn hasn’t defeated Kentucky since 2000 and hasn’t defeated Kentucky in Lexington since 1988.

Will Kentucky lose this game? Only in football

 

Feb. 25: at Mississippi State

This is as good a time as any to mention that Kentucky hasn’t been immune to the injury bug. The Wildcats haven’t had Alex Poythress, who went down with a torn ACL, since December. Forward Trey Lyles (7.5 points, 5.3 rebounds) has missed the last three games with an illness, leaving Kentucky’s guards to pick up some of the rebounding slack. Lyles probably will be healthy in time for this particular game, but the point is that no team makes it to March completely healthy

Will Kentucky lose this game? Nope

 

Feb. 28: Arkansas

Other than Florida, Arkansas is the only SEC team to consistently give Kentucky trouble during the last few years. The Razorbacks have won four of the last five meetings, including the last three. This season, Arkansas has one elite big man, Bobby Portis, who could go toe-to-toe with Kentucky’s front. He’ll be outnumbered, but he alone is still a better matchup than most. The question is what kind of game the streaky Michael Qualls will have. Arkansas is the highest-scoring team in the SEC, at least according to raw numbers, but the Hogs rank third in offensive efficiency.

Will Kentucky lose this game? In Fayetteville, maybe, but probably not in Lexington

 

March 3: at Georgia

The final scoresheet shows an 11-point Kentucky win Feb. 3, but Georgia had this to within five points with two minutes to go. In Lexington. Without Marcus Thornton. All of that is notable. In the return trip, Kentucky will visit Athens to face a veteran Georgia team that, presumably, will have its leading scorer and rebounder. 

Will Kentucky lose this game? We’re still picking Kentucky, but this is the one we like

 

March 7: Florida

Kentucky caught Florida right after the Gators played their worst game of the season in a loss to Vanderbilt. Maybe the Wildcats underestimated Florida. Maybe Billy Donovan finally woke up his team in time for Kentucky. The Wildcats still managed to escape an off game due to near-perfect free throw shooting and the continued emergence of Karl-Anthony Towns. Florida played long stretches without Michael Frazier, but the Gators also had plenty go their way, too.

Will Kentucky lose this game? No

Teaser:
When Will Kentucky Basketball Lose Its First Game?
Post date: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - 07:45
Path: /college-basketball/remembering-legendary-north-carolina-coach-dean-smith
Body:

Dean Smith is one of the rare figures and perhaps the only figure who directly connects the birth of basketball to its modern era.

 

Smith played at Kansas for Phog Allen, the “Father of Basketball Coaching” who played for the inventor of the game, James Naismith. Smith then coached Michael Jordan. From Naismith to Allen to Smith to Jordan, it would be hard to find a better connection from the infancy of basketball to the modern game. 

 

Beyond the games, records and innovations, Smith was an integral part of bringing athletics into the future by integrating the ACC and taking the lead on social and race issues.

 

Smith died Saturday, leaving a legacy that was celebrated throughout the sports world. Smith was 83.

 

Smith was legendary not only for his basketball record or his role in championing civil rights, but also his way of remembering the names of every player he coached, from the Hall of Famers to the walk-ons.

 

“He made sure that we knew our teachers by their first names, not just the last names,” Tar Heels All-American Vince Carter told Athlon Sports in 2005. He’d come and ask you, ‘so, what’s your teacher’s first name?’ He’d have a coach who was assigned to be at the front door of every one of our classes, every player.”

 

The mantras started in practice.

 

Wrote Eric Montross, an All-American who played for Smith from 1990-94, in “Game Day: North Carolina Basketball:”

 

“The emphasis was on transforming young athletes into mature educated adults of good character, both on and off the court. In my experience, this perspective was emphasized by the unique way that Coach Smith began practices. Instead of beginning in a typical fashion with layup lines or fast-break drills, every Dean Smith practice started with a thought for the day, an impressive mix of life lessons and messages pertinent to the game of basketball.

 

“One such quote, which I have kept with me now for 15 years, reads: ‘When trying to move a mountain, you must first begin by removing small stones.’ Often the freshmen would be called upon to recite these lines, and if the player did not know the quote, the entire team would be sent to the end of the line to run sprints — that is, the entire team minus the player who made the mistake.”

 

Related: How Newspapers Remembered Dean Smith on Monday

 

By the Numbers

 

• Dean Smith won 879 career games, breaking Adolph Rupp’s career wins record of 876 in 1997. Smith now ranks sixth on the NCAA’s all-time wins list behind Mike Krzyzewski (1,003), Herb Magee (1,000), Jim Boeheim (963), Don Meyer (923) and Bob Knight (902).

 

• Only eight coaches have spent more games on the bench than Smith’s 1,133. On that list are Jim Phelan, Krzyzewski, Knight, Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, Lou Henson, Rollie Massimino and Lefty Driesell.

 

• Only three coaches in Division I history have more 20-win seasons: Boeheim (36), Krzyzewski (31) and Smith (30). Smith’s streak of 27 consecutive 20-win seasons is a Division I record by a long shot. The next longest streak belongs to Arizona’s Lute Olson at 20.

 

• Smith also set the record for ACC wins with 422, a mark that wasn’t broken until this season when Krzyzewski did it on Feb. 4. 

 

 

 

 

• This is a startling number, but perhaps understandable considering the standard Smith set at North Carolina. The legendary Tar Heels coach was only named national coach of the year three times in 1977, 1979 and 1993. The latter may be the most interesting. Smith won the Basketball Times and Naismith coach of the year awards. The other awards were swept by one of his proteges, Vanderbilt’s Eddie Fogler.

 

• By now, it’s too easy to forget the college part of college athletics, the University of North Carolina included. Even more important than Smith’s on-court records — and there are many — is that 97 percent of his players graduated. Even those that went to the pros returned to UNC to get their degrees. 

 

Trailblazing Legacy

 

Smith’s legacy cannot be removed from his stance on social issues. Smith was among the key figures in integrating the ACC and college sports. Willie Cooper was the first black player for the Tar Heels’ freshman team in 1964. Charles Scott was North Carolina's first black scholarship player in 1966 and one of the early African-Americans to play on scholarship a major Southern school. Scott helped the Tar Heels to the Final Four in 1968 and 1969.

 

What stuck with Scott was that Smith always called him “Charles” rather than Charlie. Scott’s son, Shannon, is a starting guard for Ohio State this season.

 

Beyond Scott, Smith was outspoken on a variety of issues, including opposition to the death penalty, criticism for the Vietnam War and abolition to nuclear weapons. Such vocal and controversial stances are all but gone from college athletics today.

 

In 2013, though he wasn’t able to receive the award in person, Smith received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest national honor for a civilian. The list of other sports figures honored in such a way is staggering: Hank Arron, Muhammad Ali, Bear Bryant, Roberto Clemente, Joe DiMaggio, Billie Jean King, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Pat Summitt and John Wooden, for starters.

 

In many ways, the Presidential Medal of Freedom was the perfect culmination for his career. When he started at North Carolina, John F. Kennedy was the president. Nine presidencies later, Barack Obama awarded him the Medal of Freedom. Smith reached his first Final Four when Lyndon Johnson was in office, won his first national championship with Ronald Reagan in office and reached his last Final Four with Bill Clinton in the White House. 

 

Smith retired in 1997 after reaching his 11th Final Four. Only John Wooden (12) reached more. Smith’s 23 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances from 1975-97 remains a record for coaches. His successors, Bill Guthridge and Matt Doherty, added four more to extend UNC’s streak to 27. Guthridge reached the Final Four twice in three seasons.

 

Smith completed his career one of only four coaches to win an NCAA championship, an NIT championship and an Olympic gold medal, joining Adolph Rubb, Pete Newell and Bob Knight. The 1976 gold is notable in particular after the United States lost to the Soviet Union in 1972.

 

Beyond a coaching tree that includes Hall of Famers Roy Williams and Larry Brown, Smith coached six players who went to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame themselves: Billy Cunningham (1962-65), Bob McAdoo (1971-72, James Worthy (1970-82) and Michael Jordan (1981-84).

 

 

Teaser:
Remembering Legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith
Post date: Monday, February 9, 2015 - 11:36
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/kentucky-finds-ways-win-duke-villanova-get-revenge-college-basketball-weekly-10
Body:

Revenge was the name of the game this week in college basketball.

 

Not too long ago, the cracks appeared to be showing for teams like Duke, Villanova and Iowa State as they took key losses. A few weeks later, those losses now look like wake-up calls as all three answered in rematches.

 

Duke would find no drama in its second game against Notre Dame this season as the Blue Devils embarrassed a top 10 team by 30 points. Villanova took its only loss in regulation in a lopsided defeat to Georgetown, but the Wildcats returned the favor with an impressive defensive performance against its classic Big East rival. And Iowa State, which lost a head-scratcher to Texas Tech two weeks ago, turned around for a 37-point rout.

 

Yet the story of the week may be the continued win streak by Kentucky. The Wildcats lost all three meetings to Florida a year ago, but needed all 60 minutes to put away the Gators in their first matchup this season.

 

1. Kentucky keeps finding ways to stay undefeated

Winning conference road games is tough, and we’re sure Kentucky’s not going to get enough credit for answering the call each game in an otherwise mediocre SEC. The Wildcats’ 68-61 win at Florida is a perfect example of why Kentucky remains undefeated. The Gators played arguably their best game of the season (only days after their worst game of the season in a loss at Vanderbilt), Kentucky had some key lapses, and still the Wildcats walked away with a win. Andrew Harrison was a non-factor (no field goals, three turnovers), and the Wildcats shot 3-of-14 from 3-point range. Still, Kentucky won because it was 21-of-22 from the free throw line while Florida went 7-of-14. And Karl-Anthony Towns played his best game of the season with 19 points and eight rebounds. Towns is averaging 15.3 points per game in his last three, and Aaron Harrison rebounded from a one-point game against Georgia for 23 against the Gators. We’ve known this for a while, but taking out Kentucky is going to take an outstanding effort from a darn good team.

 

2. Duke looks like the scariest team in the country

Time to stop worrying about what’s wrong with Duke and try to figure out how anyone is going to slow down the Blue Devils. On Jan. 28, Notre Dame beat Duke 77-73 in South Bend for the Blue Devils’ third loss of the season. Duke hasn’t lost since. The rematch against the top-10 Irish was a thorough 90-60 beatdown. Notre Dame took a 6-0 lead, and from there, Duke went on a 43-7 run during the first half. This came with Jahlil Okafor playing only eight minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. Meanwhile, Justise Winslow continued his hot streak, flourishing in transition for 19 points. Guard Matt Jones obliterated his career high with 17 points (3-of-5 from 3) off the bench. And when Okafor was in the game he simply went 9-of-11 form the field for 20 points with 10 rebounds in 23 minutes. Quite the statement for Duke.

 

3. Virginia needs to adjust without Justin Anderson

On the court Saturday, Virginia played yet another stifling game against a quality opponent. The Cavaliers defeated Louisville 52-47, holding the Cardinals to 13 points in the first half and 0.85 points per possession overall. The rub, though, is pending hand surgery for Justin Anderson, arguably the team’s most important player. Surgery to repair a broken finger may put him out for 4-6 weeks, through the first week of March or into the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers face only three KenPom top 100 teams (North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Syracuse) before the finale against Louisville, but Anderson’s absence will be a key speed bump for a team that’s had trouble closing out games in recent weeks.

 

4. Oklahoma State makes a major statement

Oklahoma State found one way to separate itself from the depth of the Big 12, arguably the deepest league in the country. The Cowboys defeated Kansas 67-62 to give the Pokes a win over Kansas in each of the last three seasons, including the last two games in Stillwater. Kansas did not have a great game, turning the ball over 18 times, but the key for Oklahoma State is the emergency of secondary scorers. For most of the season, the Pokes could count on only Le’Bryan Nash and Phil Forte to light up the scoresheet. That’s changed. Four Cowboys scored in double figures against KU. Point guard Anthony Hickey has become the key No. 3 with 12 points per game in the last four.

 

5. Another red flag for Arizona?

On first glance, Arizona’s 81-78 loss to Arizona State shouldn’t be a major warning sign. The season is long, and this was a road game against a capable rival. The Sun Devils got a little hot from 3 (7-of-15) and were able to pull off the upset. But this is also the third loss of the season for Arizona against a team that won’t be in the NCAA Tournament. The other two were to UNLV and Oregon State, both on the road. Arizona may still be a title contender at 20-3 but these losses may cost the Wildcats a No. 1 seed.

 

6. Villanova avenges its worst loss of the season

OK, Villanova, we’re believers again. The Wildcats lost by 20 to Georgetown back on Jan. 19 for one of its two losses of the season, and from there they faced the dregs of the Big East. On Saturday, Villanova made a statement in its rematch with the Hoyas, defeating Georgetown 69-53 in a defensive turnaround. Georgetown averaged 1.18 points per possession and shot 51.1 percent from the field in the first meeting. In the second game in Philadelphia, Villanova held Georgetown to 0.79 points per possession and 30 percent shooting from the field, including 1-of-17 from 3-point range. Villanova was especially effective off takeaways, outscoring Georgetown 24-8 on turnovers despite being in the red in turnover margin (20-15).

 

7. Time to start buying into Baylor

There are plenty of Baylor and Scott Drew skeptics out there. Some of that is earned, for sure. Dare we say this is a year to start buying into the Bears? Baylor demolished West Virginia 87-69 on the road for their fourth win in their last five Big 12 games. Wins in bunches don’t come often in this league, so Baylor’s hot streak must be noted. Baylor went on a 21-0 run in the first half and took advantage of West Virginia’s struggles in the halfcourt. Against the Baylor zone, West Virginia shot a mere 6-of-23 from 3. Meanwhile, Rico Gathers was a beast as always on the glass with 16 rebounds, five on the offensive glass. Gathers’ 17 points against West Virginia was his second-highest total in a Big 12 game in his career.

 

8. Time to start selling West Virginia?

The other side of Baylor’s rout in Morgantown: Maybe West Virginia is a team to start looking at a little more critically. The Mountaineers’ elite pressure defense helped turn around the team this season, but West Virginia doesn’t do much of anything else very well. Now, the Mountaineers’ other deficiencies are starting to catch up to them. Their last three Big 12 losses — to Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor — have been routs. The loss also highlights that West Virginia has only two top-50 RPI wins and one of those is over Wofford.

 

9. Shorthanded Illinois is making a move

On Jan. 24, Illinois was 13-8 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten, thanks in part to an injury to guard Rayvonte Rice. Now, Rice and fellow guard Aaron Cosby are still out with suspension. That hasn’t been a problem for Illinois, which won its third consecutive game with a 59-54 road win over Michigan State. Malcolm Hill, who scored 19 points against the Spartans, has become Illinois’ best player as the Illini have quietly become an NCAA bubble team. Even before the win over Michigan State, Illinois had a 2-3 record against the RPI top 20 with wins over Baylor and Maryland.

 

10. Temple is the turnaround team no one’s talking about

The consistently underrated Fran Dunphy has led a remarkable turnaround in Philadelphia, leading the Owls to a 17-7 start and 8-3 in the American Athletic Conference. The Owls went 9-22 (4-14 AAC) a year ago, and after a 61-60 comeback on the road against Memphis, the Owls are in the NCAA Tournament discussion. The final shot, a Josh Brown jumper off a bounce pass from Will Cummings, deserves attention, especially since Dunphy elected not to take a timeout. But the real story is that Temple is back to defending at a high level after a three-year slump. The Owls rank eighth in the nation in defensive efficiency on KenPom and 13th in defensive effective field gal rate, both the best for Temple since 2009-10.

 

Short Stuff

 

• Providence coach Ed Cooley was hospitalized Saturday after leaving the Friars’ game against Xavier early in the second half. After overnight observation for high blood pressure, Cooley is expected to return Wednesday against Villanova.

 

• UCLA built momentum for its at-large credentials and then promptly ended its hot streak with a 64-62 loss at Cal. The Bruins defeated Utah, Colorado and Stanford just before sustaining their worst loss of the season, at least considering the opponent.

 

• Seton Hall’s at-large credentials are crumbling, too. The Pirates fell to 5-6 in the Big East after back-to-back losses to DePaul and Marquette. Not a great omen with Georgetown, Providence and Villanova in the next two weeks.

 

• Georgia welcomed back Marcus Thornton after a two-game absence due to a concussion — the Bulldogs lost both games. Thornton scored only eight points in 26 minutes, but the Bulldogs still found a way to beat Tennessee 56-53.

 

• Texas Tech gets the award for worst box score of the week. The Red Raiders scored only 38 points in a loss to Iowa State, in part by going 0-of-8 from the free throw line.

 

• No team had a more exciting week than St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies had buzzer-beaters to defeated two of the best teams in the Atlantic 10 in Davidson and VCU.

Teaser:
Kentucky Finds Ways to Win; Duke, Villanova Get Revenge: The College Basketball Weekly 10
Post date: Monday, February 9, 2015 - 07:45

Pages