Duke came into Tuesday night with a couple of incredible streaks on the line. The Blue Devils had won 106 straight non-conference home games, dating back to 2000. Duke had not lost back-to-back non-league games since 1999. Both streaks remained safe thanks to a great defensive effort against Michigan. They held Nik Stauskas, who was averaging over 20 ppg, without a field goal. It was a total team effort at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Matt Jones did a good job in the first half against Stauskas when given the opportunity. Andre Dawkins came off the bench and provided a big time boost with a couple of key three pointers. Quinn Cook was brilliant distributing the rock. Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker led the way in the first half. Michigan has to go inside to Mitch McGary more, plus Glenn Robinson III has to be more productive. Both teams will have very good seasons, though Duke got to the winnner’s circle on Tuesday night.
I love when teams don’t have cupcake city during the pre-conference schedule. Matchups like the ACC-Big Ten Challenge guarantee some great games.
I am excited to be calling the Michigan-Duke game on Tuesday. There should be excitement galore as the Blue Devils try to bounce back from a loss to Arizona.
This season, the ACC and the Big Ten are clearly the best two conferences in America, so there is pride at stake with this series. There should be great competition and I am looking forward to seeing which league comes out on top.
I did not expect North Carolina would score an impressive win over Louisville Sunday. The Tar Heels struggled for much of their win against Richmond. North Carolina lost to Belmont. The Cardinals came in 5-0 and winning by almost 30 points per game. Roy Williams got to the winner’s circle against Rick Pitino’s squad. Marcus Paige was the star of stars for the Tar Heels, posting career highs in back to back games at the Hall of Fame Tip-Off event. He had 32 points against Louisville and remained the key outside shooting threat for the Tar Heels. He hit three of five trifectas on Sunday and has made all but two of North Carolina’s three pointers this season (17 of the team’s 19). Louisville’s backcourt was outstanding, but it was not enough. Russ Smith loves to perform on the big stage and he plays for the moment. He had a career high 36 points while backcourt mate Chris Jones added 20. This will serve as a wake up call for the Cardinals. You know Pitino will have his team prepared for an upcoming stretch of home games. North Carolina will gain a lot of confidence from this victory. The Tar Heels will be a very good team when PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald come back. The question is, how long will they have to wait as the NCAA continues its investigation into eligibility issues.
I had a blast in my first trip to Ames, Iowa. Hilton Coliseum was a special place for me as it was everything that it was made out to be. The Iowa State fans were incredible and I loved the hospitality and the environment. Fred Hoiberg’s team got a great victory over a top 10 Michigan squad. It was a very well played game with few fouls in the first half, and a great flow to the contest. Melvin Ejim, back from a knee injury, scored 22 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Iowa State has made the NCAA tournament two straight seasons and they should make it three. Michigan got Mitch McGary back in the lineup and it will take a little time for him to get into shape and more minutes. John Beilein has a lot of talent and the Wolverines will be heard from in the Big Ten.
I am so excited as I am heading to Ames, Iowa this weekend. That’s right, time to experience some Hilton Magic, baby! Michigan is visiting Iowa State on Sunday and I am thrilled to be calling the game with Dave O’Brien. The Wolverines are a bit different from last year’s squad, which fell just short of the national title. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. are in the NBA now (though Burke is hurt). John Beilein has a nice club, including Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas and company. Right now, he has to be concerned about Mitch McGary’s back problems. Fred Hoiberg has done a great job at Iowa State, leading the Cyclones to the NCAA tournament each of the last two seasons. The Cyclones love to shoot the trifecta and that should be a big factor this weekend. I hope you will watch the game on Sunday!
It was a special night in Chicago, with four of the top five teams in America on the same court. There were eight of the top 10 diaper dandies based on ESPNU’s rankings. Talk about star of stars – Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle. The Kansas-Duke game was incredible considering how many new players were out there. Both teams executed so well. Pride was really at stake with all four schools. There were traditional powers going at it. Kentucky rallied from a double figure deficit but fell short against a veteran Michigan State team. My friends, all four of these teams will get better and better. We could see all four of them at Jerry Jones Stadium at the Final Four, they are that talented.
College basketball is here and I am really excited. This should be a very interesting season in 2013-14.
There are going to be a few trends that will be important to follow.
1. With the referees not allowing hand-checking, and more whistles being blown, you will see a lot of the physicality taken away. Recently, the physical play has lessened the ability to score. It has changed the game dramatically, and now officials are trying to get things back in order. It will lead to many fouls called, so teams have to work on a daily basis to improve their free throw shooting. It will be vital to make your free throws as it could be the difference in a number of contests. Teams are going to get a lot of opportunities on the charity stripe and they must take advantage.
2. With this change in philosophy, teams are going to have to protect their players. They must have depth, and if you are not deep, you will have major problems with starters in foul trouble. I have often said that I would like to change the scenario to six personal fouls in the college game. Fans to not go to see players perform as assistant coaches on that sideline.
3. Coaches have to make sure that players move their feet on defense. It becomes more important to be in good defensive position, to help draw fouls and to stop the opposition. You do not want to see players in foul trouble because they were not fundamentally sound on defense.
I believe in the long run, the emphasis of cleaning up the game will be a positive. In the beginning, it will be tiresome and boring to see the whistle blown so much, We need a more fluid flow in the basketball game, allowing players to show their athleticism and do what they are supposed to do. There have been some contests that have looked more like wrestling matches out there. There is no place for tackling and holding on the court.
Let’s get ready to tip-off a great season!
The regular season is here and I am excited for basketball fans everywhere! I was recently at the Broken Egg and a fan asked my opinion of the NBA season. There is a lot of competition in the race for the championship. The Miami Heat will be tested in the East by the Bulls, Pacers and Knicks. Out West, the Spurs, Thunder and Clippers stand out. At the end of the season, I believe the Heat will accomplish a three-peat. As for Player of the Year, I think it will be a thrilling showdown. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose are all in the hunt. I will go with Oklahoma City’s Durant to edge King James for the crown. My choice for Rookie of the Year is Orlando’s Victor Oladipo out of Indiana.
The Florida State Seminoles sent a message loud and clear. Jimbo Fisher’s team dominated a previously unbeaten Miami Hurricanes team. Jameis Winston showed why he is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate as a freshman, just like Johnny Manziel won as a diaper dandy last year. There are a number of legit contenders for the national championship game. Alabama, Florida State, Oregon and Ohio State are the frontrunners. It’s a shame that the four team playoff doesn’t start this season. Somebody may go undefeated and get left out in the cold.