COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEATING UP TOWARD CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT TIME

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The most amazing thing about Tuesday night’s college basketball action, even more incredible than Duke’s comeback from a 23-point deficit, was that everyone watching on television got the identical picture of doom for “the Commonwealth’s” two top-25 teams.

A television camera affixed to the top of the goal at Kentucky’s Rupp Arena showed everyone how LSU center Kavell Bigby-Williams scored the game-winning tip-in to beat the No. 5 Wildcats by knocking the ball into the goal as it rested on the rim from teammate Skylar Mays’ original attempt at the decisive basket. Bigby-Williams’ goal was not a legal play, but neither was it reviewable under NCAA basketball’s instant-replay rules. Continue Reading By Mike DeCourcy

Welcome to Volume II of The Bilas Index, the most dependable and trusted metric of hoop quality and capability in the known universe. Every conceivable bit of basketball information has been input into the gray matter inside The Bilastrator’s skull, and the output is simply magnificent and not subject to question or reasonable debate. The Bilas Index is the final word on all things basketball, and anyone with a functioning brain knows it. To be clear, The Bilas Index is not some weekly poll voted on by media, coaches or fans. It is not subject to current whim or which way the wind might be blowing. It is a clear-eyed evaluation of the 68 best teams in the country, irrespective of home wins, road wins, quads, calves or pecs. This gift from on high is not parsed by a group of well-fed and well-compensated college administrators pretending to be basketball-literate. It is culled from the most savvy and informed mind the game has ever known, and therefore, it is the most powerful basketball evaluation tool ever invented. Continue Reading By Jay Bilas

It’s easy to labor in obscurity in Buies Creek, North Carolina — until your game starts being connected to college hoops icons. Folks, meet Chris Clemons.

Campbell’s star scorer, the 5-9 guard from Raleigh had a season-high 48 points Wednesday to give him 2,978 for his career, moving him past Kansas star Danny Manning (2,951) and Cincinnati Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson (2,973) into ninth place in men’s Division I career scoring. The Camels defeated visiting Hampton, 87-84, in Buies Creek.
Rick Barnes will take you to his favorite lunch spot, but not until this tour ends. Continue Reading By Bob Hille

He’s the head coach of the No. 1-ranked Tennessee Volunteers, but he also might as well be a Knoxville Chamber of Commerce rep as he weaves past a statue of Pat Summitt, steers down Phillip Fulmer Way and rolls toward Tee Martin Drive in a super-sized SUV that hogs the streets of Tennessee’s campus during the school’s winter break.

“You gotta see this,” he says as he ignores the GPS directions to the restaurant, and charts his own course.

Barnes speaks of Knoxville as if he’s a proud, longtime resident of this growing city. Continue Reading By Myron Medcalf

Wednesday was not a great night for many bubble teams, although NC State picked up a decent win.

Auburn and Lipscomb are among a handful of bubble teams that lost a chance to help themselves.

Seton Hall defeated Georgetown 90-75 in a game featuring two teams on the bubble and has done a better job of defending its home floor lately. This is the third straight win at home for the Pirates. Things are about to get tougher because three of their next four are on the road. Georgetown’s slim chances just got a lot slimmer. Here’s how the rest of bubble teams in action Wednesday fared:Continue Reading By 

Photo: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cal basketball team may have blown its best opportunity to produce a conference win in 2018-19 with a 75-67 overtime loss to UCLA Wednesday night. The defeat was the 13th straight for the Golden Bears, one which dropped them to 5-19 on the season and 0-12 in the much-maligned Pac-12.

It’s also a defeat which allows us to ask the question: Is Cal the worst power conference team in the history of college basketball?

On the surface this seems like a hyperbolic overreaction to something happening in the present. Do a little digging, however, and Wyking Jones’ team is putting together a pretty compelling case. Continue Reading By Mike Rutherford

By the end of this week, there will be just one month until Selection Sunday—the day that will determine the postseason fate for so many March hopefuls. With three-quarters of the regular season already in the books, we have a good idea of who this year’s top contenders are and who the favorites are in each conference race and tournament. But even if we think we know how things will play out in this final month, there’s bound to be at least one or two major surprises in store. Between now and March 17, will happen that few will see coming? We asked our staff to each make one bold prediction for the days leading up to (and including) Selection Sunday. Continue Reading By THE SI STAFF

Duke forward Zion Williamson dunks in a game against St. John's.

Duke forward Zion Williamson dunks in a game against St. John’s. PHOTO: ROB KINNAN/REUTERS

If you follow college basketball only casually until the NCAA tournament begins, there’s a good chance that the only thing you know about the 2018-19 season is the existence of a very large Duke freshman named Zion. But with the regular season winding down, fans are starting to wonder whether their teams will attract an invitation to March Madness.

Figuring out how your team rates will be different this year. RPI, the metric the NCAA has used since 1981 to gauge the strength of teams, has been replaced by a new, more sophisticated measure called NET. Continue Reading By Laine Higgins

 

 

DUKE NOT VOLS TOP SEED IN FIRST 16 SEED RANKINGS

Duke, not Vols, top overall seed in initial NCAA rankings

FILE – In this Jan. 23, 2019, file photo, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes watches the action in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. The Volunteers don’t have a single top-100 recruit on their roster, yet they’re ranked No. 1 and have a school-record 17 straight victories for the longest active winning streak of any Division I team. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

 

Tennessee has been ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll the past three weeks, has one loss this season and owns Division I’s longest winning streak.

It wasn’t enough for the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee to give the Volunteers the top overall seed in its initial rankings. The committee revealed its preliminary rankings on Saturday and it was Duke, not the Vols, earning the No. 1 overall seed. Continue Reading By JOHN MARSHALL

Duke v Virginia

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In Duke’s last game against Virginia, coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad shot 2-of-14 on three-pointers and relied on its talent to beat the Cavaliers’ stifling defense. Instead of repeating that performance Saturday, the Blue Devils took a page out of UMBC’s “make every shot” playbook, shooting 57.8% and 13-for-21 on threes in an 81-71 win. Continue Reading By JOE WILKINSON

Villanova Wildcats forward Saddiq Bey (15) and Marquette Golden Eagles guard Markus Howard (0) reach for a loose ball during the second half at Fiserv Forum.

Villanova Wildcats forward Saddiq Bey (15) and Marquette Golden Eagles guard Markus Howard (0) reach for a loose ball during the second half at Fiserv Forum. (Photo: Jeff Hanisch, USA TODAY Sports)

Saturday’s unveiling of the top 16 seeds by the NCAA tournament selection committee provided a glimpse into the future. But the day’s game slate also served as a reminder that there’s still plenty of basketball to be played in the next five weeks up until Selection Sunday.

In a battle between two forecasted No. 1 seeds, Duke once again out-dueled Virginia. The Blue Devils started the day as the top overall seed, per the committee’s assessment, and ended the day with an even stronger profile. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, only suffered their second loss of the season, but this one was a much more convincing loss and on their home court. Continue Reading By 

Louisville Cardinals forward Dwayne Sutton (24) fights for a ball against Florida State Seminoles guard MJ Walker (23) during the first half at Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Florida, on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019.

Louisville Cardinals forward Dwayne Sutton (24) fights for a ball against Florida State Seminoles guard MJ Walker (23) during the first half at Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Florida, on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (Photo: Melina Myers, USA TODAY Sports)

It’s always tough to win on the road in the ACC.

No. 24 Florida State (18-5, 6-4 ACC) outlasted No. 17 Louisville (17-7, 8-3 ACC) 80-75 in an overtime battle of ranked teams in front of a Tucker Civic Center crowd of 11,675 Saturday afternoon.

“That one was tough to swallow,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said. “Felt like for the better part of the game we did what we needed to do to put ourselves in position to win.”

Louisville had won seven of its last eight games entering Saturday. The Cardinals fall to 4-2 on the road in ACC play.

The Cardinals let a 10-point second-half lead slip away and the Seminoles tied the game at 65 at the end of regulation.

FSU didn’t waste time in overtime.

The Seminoles scored the first eight points of the period to surge in front, 73-65. It was their first advantage since 23-22 in the first half. Continue Reading By , Louisville Courier Journal

A slow first half from Quinndary Weatherspoon and the Bulldogs gave Kentucky enough momentum and margin for a 71-67 victory (Photo: Steve Robertson, 247Sports)

The best second half of Mississippi State’s season wasn’t good enough to complete a comeback as Kentucky escaped Humphrey Coliseum with a 71-67 victory. The #5-ranked Wildcats left 20-3, a game out of the SEC lead at 9-1, and with a tenth-straight victory.

Ben Howland’s Bulldogs dropped to 16-7, 4-6 with the week’s second close call. If not in overtime as Wednesday’s setback to LSU, this was by another four-point margin. And maybe, more frustrating given the game’s contrasting periods. Down 40-25 at halftime and seemingly out the Bulldogs slashed that deficit to a point with plenty remaining time to complete the comeback.

They couldn’t. “If we come out the first half like we did the second half I feel we win the game,” guard Nick Weatherspoon said. His coach didn’t disagree about the key to winning…or avoiding defeat.

“It’s not digging a hole in the first half,” said Howland. “Go down 15 points to maybe the hottest team in the country, that put a very low probability. And I thought we gave ourselves a great chance.” Continue Reading By DAVID H. MURRAY 

NCAA FINAL FOUR SET MICHIGAN-VILLANOVA-KANSAS AND WHO? LOYOLA CHICAGO

Joedy McCreary writes Duke started another season at No. 1 but ended it before the Final Four. Now the Blue Devils await the NBA draft decisions from several potential one-and-done freshmen with next year’s top recruiting class arriving over the summer. Stephen Hawkins writes Texas Tech coach Chris Beard gathered his seniors in a tight circle … Read moreNCAA FINAL FOUR SET MICHIGAN-VILLANOVA-KANSAS AND WHO? LOYOLA CHICAGO

VILLANOVA-KANSAS ON THE MOVE TO THE FINAL FOUR

Mitch Sherman ESPN writes minutes later, after the Kansas Jayhawks’ 85-81 victory in overtime, Grayson Allen sat wrought with emotion at his locker, staring ahead as he pondered the “abrupt” finish to his four years at the school that began with a national championship in 2015 and closed without another trip past the Elite Eight. … Read moreVILLANOVA-KANSAS ON THE MOVE TO THE FINAL FOUR