I’m writing this on the tail end of the Press Virginia-Kansas game. Bob Huggins is not going to be happy after this. Turns out Press Virginia can’t handle a press! Ironic! Front to back, though, this has been one of the best games of the year. Two very dangerous teams in March. They’ll benefit from good seeds, as the selection committee let us know how much they like both squads. There were lots of questions about the early selection seed list, but one thing can be certain: IT DOESN’T MATTER. So much will change by then. And that’s why this last month is going to be so much fun. So hold on to your hats, and let’s check some mail!
“Will a Big Ten team end up being one of the top 16 teams in the Big Dance?” – Zach Beeler
Yes, and I would bet a hefty sum of money that it’s Purdue. Of course, there are arguments to be made for Wisconsin, but Purdue has a much easier schedule down the road. The Boilermakers are also in a much better position based on the committee’s beloved RPI rankings. Purdue is currently 18th and in a good position to move up with struggling teams like Xavier, Butler, and Creighton ahead of them (all Big East is a coincidence). They have a favorable schedule down the stretch, with a couple of tough games on the road against Michigan and Northwestern, but I really think they’re a far better team than either of those. They’re also a safe bet to go deep into the B1G tournament, so provided they don’t lose any bad games (I say that often, but it’s easier said than done), I think they’re a good candidate for a 4-seed. Odds are, if Purdue isn’t winning the B1G tournament, Wisconsin most likely will, and granted they don’t have a lot of quality wins, rattling off enough wins to hoist the tourney trophy should be enough for them to snag a lower 4-seed.
“Can OU win any of the rest of their games without Jordan Woodard?” – Ben Auten
Well, they certainly can. Will they? That remains to be seen. I would say their best chance is tonight at home against Texas, but without Woodard, that’s a tall task. They’ve only won two Big 12 games with Woodard, so winning one of their remaining games will be tough. He was averaging 14.6 points, 4.6 boards, and 3.1 assists, which is about what was expected of him this season, but there’s a big drop off in talent. Khadeem Lattin was expected to play a much bigger role, but his numbers didn’t make the jump from last season. If I had to bet on it, I would say that the Sooners won’t win a game the remainder of the season. But there’s hope for the future! They have solid pieces in place for the next few years. Kameron McGusty has been really fun to watch as a freshman, averaging 10.5 ppg, and fellow first year Kristian Doolittle’s been solid down low (8.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg). Sophomores Rashard Odomes (9.8 ppg) and Christian James (8.1 ppg) are also a nice dose of “veteran leadership.”
“Better chance of making the Tourney: Michigan State or Indiana?” – Sean Bock
Gun to my head, I have to pick the Spartans. Maybe that’s recency bias because Indiana has been so dreadful recently, but I also trust Izzo more to win some tough games down the stretch. Are they more talented than Indiana? No, probably not. Do they have an easier schedule than the Hoosiers? Also no. But when a coach comes out in his press conference and says he’s never coached a team with this kind of a lack of maturity, it’s pretty tough to trust that team. Maybe it’ll light a fire under the Hoosiers’ butts, but until see it, I’m going with the Spartans. Sparty has a much tougher schedule down the stretch, but they haven’t played as poorly as IU recently, so I have to go with them. Plus, does March even happen without Izzo? In all seriousness, if you had told me at the beginning of the year that I would have to decide between IU and MSU who would be playing in March based off who had been less terrible, I would’ve looked at you like Tom Crean looks at a lot of things: confused.
“Thoughts on the experimental rule changes?” – Nate Brown
For those of you that haven’t seen the new proposed rule, the question-asker (is there a word for that?) also provided a link with a pretty good description of the new rules, so thanks Nate! Anyways, I think it’s a small push in the direction of using quarters instead of halves, which, personally, I’m not a fan. A few things stick out to me. This feels like a way to get rid of constant fouling at the end of games, but that’s a big rule change for a small aspect of the overall game. The seemingly-inevitable push to four quarters also feels like a push for a faster tempo. The very recent change in NCAA women’s hoops from halves to quarters has made little to no difference in the tempo as well as the foul situation. So, yeah, I think this is all fairly unnecessary and should cause a slight level of confusion in the next year or so if they do decide to apply it for the whole regular season. The smaller part of the rule, the 20-second shot clock when the ball is inbounded in the front court, is a decent change. I’d be more satisfied with that being added than the foul part. We’ve seen the shot clock be decreased from 35-30 and I think it’s been really effective in a positive manner in terms of offensive pace. 20 seems like a big cut from 30, but it should speed up half-court offenses, which should at least be more fun. There’s a reason I’m not a part of the NCAA rules committee though, so take my opinions with a grain of salt. That being said, this might make the NIT worth watching this year!
“How did Yale out rebound Baylor?” – Brennan McGinn
Please, allow my friend Taurean Prince to explain.
Fun Fact of the Week: In its 100-game winning streak, the UConn women’s team has had nine 60-point wins, and only two single-digit wins. That’s ridiculous. A big congratulations to everyone involved in that program for reaching such a great milestone.
Happy Valentine’s Day from everyone here at College Pride Press! College basketball will always be the love of our lives.