Mar 4, 2013, 9:45 AM EST
Team of the Week: Minnesota
It’s crazy to think about, but Minnesota’s season may have been saved by six minutes of basketball from Trevor Mbakwe. He came out and set the tone against Indiana on Tuesday, knocking the Hoosiers — and, more importantly, Cody Zeller — back on their heels as Minnesota, for the first time in almost two months, looked like they were playing a confident brand of basketball.
And, in the end, that’s what the issue was for the Gophers. We knew that this team wasn’t going to win games based on talent alone. They don’t have a true point guard, they don’t have all that many shooters and they don’t have a great low-post scorer. What they do have, however, are a team full of players with size, athleticism and toughness. They’re at their best when they’re defending and crashing the offensive glass. Effort, hustle and determination are how the Gophers succeed, and they finally got back to those winning ways this week.
They have their senior center to thank for that.
Team deserving of a shoutout:
Creighton: Not only did the Bluejays go 2-0 this week and avoid the indignity of falling from the top 15 nationally to the bubble, but in the process they not only beat an in-conference rival in Wichita State, but they did so in the MVC regular season title game. Both the Shockers and the Bluejays were tied for the league lead entering the final game of the regular season, and Creighton won in dominating fashion. Think about this: They shot 33-47 from the field (70.2%), 11-21 from three (52.1%), 22-26 from inside the arc (84.6%) and 14-16 from the line (87.5%), which was why they were able to post 1.38 PPP.
VCU: What VCU did to Butler wasn’t exactly a surprise, as the Rams were playing at home against a team that was mildly overrated and at a complete disadvantage given how the two teams matched up. But that doesn’t change the fact that pasting the No. 20 Bulldogs 82-54 was about as impressive as wins get.
Louisville: The Cardinals picked up a big win on Saturday, as they went into the Carrier Dome and knocked off No. 12 Syracuse. The Cardinals have now won five straight games and eight of their last nine, but this was the first impressive win that Rick Pitino’s club has notched in a month. Hard to believe I’m typing this, but it feels like Louisville is a bit of a sleeper heading into the NCAA tournament.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles are still sitting there at the top of the Big East, tied with Louisville for second place in the conference, one game behind Georgetown, thanks to wins this week over Syracuse and Notre Dame. And, unlike a lot of other teams this week, their success wasn’t the result of a single virtuoso performance by one player; Marquette is as balanced as any team in the country this season.
Boise State: The Broncos have put themselves into great position to get into the NCAA tournament thanks to 38 points from Derrick Marks in a win over Colorado State on Saturday. with a trip to UNLV and a home game against San Diego State left before the MWC tournament, Boise State doesn’t have many chances left to make a major mistake before Selection Sunday.
UCLA: Believe it or not, UCLA is currently tied for the Pac-12 lead with a trip to the Washington schools standing between them and a share of the league title. Who saw that coming back in November, when the Bruins were hemorrhaging transfers, losing to Cal Poly and hearing on a daily basis about how Ben Howland was on the verge of being fired? This week, they beat Arizona State and Arizona in Pauley Pavilion.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Mar 7, 2014, 9:21 AM EST
Going to be a busy week for all the bubble teams, too.
Mar 7, 2014, 8:50 AM EST
Duke vs. North Carolina highlights a spate of ranked matchups, not to mention teams will start snagging tickets to the Big dance as well.
Mar 7, 2014, 2:54 AM EST
Wildcats stay in contention for a No. 1 seed in NCAA tournament, while a Southland shootout takes game of night honors.
Mar 7, 2014, 1:13 AM EST
Hawkeyes sure didn’t mind conceding open looks on Thursday.
Mar 7, 2014, 1:05 AM EST
There are 11 days left until Selection Sunday. Every morning from now until the bracket comes out, we’ll help you get caught up on the happenings with impact on the bubble from the night before.
Mar 7, 2014, 12:32 AM EST
The biggest storyline at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament this weekend is clearly No. 2 Wichita State, with the Shockers currently 31-0 on the season. But it should be noted that this is traditionally an entertaining event, and the second first-round game on Thursday night provided the drama. Loyola-Illinois guard Milton Doyle hit a three-pointer…
Mar 7, 2014, 12:30 AM EST
Marko Gujanicic scored 15 points, including a game-winning layup, as George Mason knocked off La Salle in Philly on Thursday night. The Patriots have now won four of their last seven league games after starting off conference play 0-10. La Salle is now ensured to finish below .500 in the A-10, a disappointing finish for a…
Mar 7, 2014, 12:12 AM EST
Keith Appling scored all 12 of his points in the second half, including eight points in a 12-4 surge that sparked a massive second half run as the No. 22 Spartans knocked off No. 24 Iowa, 86-76. Those eight points from Appling came in a flurry, and the hope is that they will change the…
Mar 6, 2014, 11:48 PM EST
Lacey Holsworth is an eight-year old battling cancer that just so happened to form a beautiful, heart-warming friendship with Adreian Payne, Michigan State’s star center that she calls ‘Superman’. Thursday night marked the Payne’s final home game as a member of the Michigan State basketball team, and as you might have expected, Lacey was Payne’s…
Mar 6, 2014, 10:33 PM EST
Entering Tuesday night’s date with No. 20 Memphis, offensively-challenged No. 15 Cincinnati had scored more than 80 points in a game just five times. Their victims? Campbell, Kennesaw State, USC Upstate and Chicago State all lost to the Bearcats before Christmas. Temple, one of the bottom-feeders in the American, managed to score exactly 80 points…
Mar 6, 2014, 9:49 PM EST
When the American Athletic Conference coaches made their preseason picks back in October, the Cincinnati Bearcats received nary a sniff in regards to which team would win the league. No. 11 Louisville was the unanimous choice and rightfully so, with the Cardinals returning most of their key contributors from last season’s national champion squad. But…
Mar 6, 2014, 9:46 PM EST
There was a weird sequence just now in the UCSB-Hawaii game. Gib Arnold had just gotten a technical foul when a UCSB fan sprinted onto the court from the student section and got into his face on the sideline before backpedaling and challenging a Hawaii player to a fight. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen…
Mar 6, 2014, 8:12 PM EST
On the heels of their 73-64 loss to No. 10 San Diego State on Wednesday, UNLV announced Thursday that guard Bryce Dejean-Jones has been suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. Dejean-Jones will miss the Runnin’ Rebels game at Nevada on Saturday as a result of the suspension. Dejean-Jones had a frustrating night against the…
Mar 6, 2014, 6:50 PM EST
Maryland’s 64-47 win over Virginia Tech on Tuesday night was full of positives, with one notable exception: sophomore forward Charles Mitchell did not play in the second half after getting into a heated exchange with assistant coach Scott Spinelli. Head coach Mark Turgeon asked Mitchell to return to the locker room, with the forward returning…
Mar 6, 2014, 4:59 PM EST
In what has been a tough season for South Carolina (11-19, 4-13 SEC), the Gamecocks will conclude regular season play on Saturday without their head coach. On Thursday South Carolina announced that Frank Martin has been suspended for one game due to “inappropriate verbal communication” with a player. “The one-game suspension is a result of…
Mar 6, 2014, 4:28 PM EST
One day prior to his team beginning a run towards a third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament, Iona head coach Tim Cluess has been rewarded with a contract extension through the 2018-19 season. Currently in his fourth season in New Rochelle, Cluess has won 90 games and led Iona to two MAAC regular season…
Mar 6, 2014, 3:00 PM EST
During the preseason the expectation of many was that the Southern Conference race would provide suspense throughout the season, with at least five teams having realistic hopes of winning the regular season title. Ultimately this would not be the case, with perennial juggernaut Davidson winning the league title by three games. However the Wildcats, who…
Mar 6, 2014, 1:51 PM EST
WASHINGTON, D.C. – For three weeks every spring, as the country thaws out from another long, cold winter, the nation’s eyes turn towards the NCAA tournament. The attention it generates is unlike any event in sports, thanks in large part to the over-saturation of games, the one-and-done nature of the event and the fact that every…
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