February 5, 2014

Written by Dick Vitale. Posted in Blog, February 14

The Rowdy Reptiles had reason to celebrate at the O-Dome once again. Their beloved Florida Gators extended their home win streak to 28 games by beating Missouri Tuesday night.

Billy Donovan’s team is so scrappy on the defensive end, battling for every loose ball. Florida held a Missouri team, which came in averaging 75 ppg., to just 58 points.

Scottie Wilbekin had a career-high 19 points, many of them from the foul line. The Gators had a 24-8 edge in points from the charity stripe, one key to the victory. Patric Young was another factor inside for Florida.

I was impressed with the Missouri guard tandem of Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown. This was a tough stretch for the Tigers, facing Kentucky and Florida in back-to-back games.

I will be back in Gainesville this weekend to call the Florida-Alabama contest.

February 2, 2014

Written by Dick Vitale. Posted in Blog, February 14

The Duke-Syracuse game lived up to all of the hype. Saturday night’s contest was electric, with over 35,000 fans setting a Syracuse home record. You had two Hall of Fame coaches in Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski doing battle, and they have so much respect for each other. 

There were so many dramatic moments. Duke stayed in the game by hitting 15 trifectas. Syracuse had brilliant performances by CJ Fair (28 points) and Jerami Grant (24 points, 12 rebounds). 

Rasheed Sulaimon sent the game to overtime with a three-pointer. In the end, Syracuse had an edge on the foul line (26-32 to Duke’s 12-17) and remained unbeaten, 91-89. 

These two teams will meet again in Cameron Indoor Stadium in three weeks. I cannot wait to call that one.

January 30th, 2014

Written by Dick Vitale. Posted in Blog, February 14

Over 50,000 fans are expected at the Carrier Dome on Saturday night as Duke and Syracuse square off. I cannot wait to call the game. The atmosphere will be electric. There is a big-time buzz surrounding this match-up. You will have so much passion and emotion in this contest.

Syracuse remained unbeaten with a 67-57 win at Wake Forest Wednesday. That was huge because the Demon Deacons entered with a 13-game home win streak. Jim Boeheim was concerned going into the game at Lawrence Joel Coliseum, but his squad played tremendous defense and got another W. Tyler Ennis has developed into one of the premier diaper dandies in America and he showed why against Wake. His 18 points were vital since the tandem of CJ Fair and Trevor Cooney was cold, combining to shoot six-of-23 from the field.

Duke is coming off a big-time win at Pittsburgh Monday. The Blue Devils were especially impressive in the second half, getting to the winner’s circle against a quality Panthers team. Duke put up 80 points and one key was Andre Dawkins. He was on fire over the final eight minutes, finishing with six-of-seven trifectas. Dawkins totaled 20 points in just 15 minutes overall.

Do you think that Syracuse will try to find him in that zone?

This will be a chess match between two of the top coaches in college basketball. Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim have combined for over 1900 wins and they have the ultimate respect for each other. They are very close; Coach K hired Boeheim to be his assistant for USA Basketball in winning the Olympics twice.

You know that Duke will be prepared with the extra few days. If it shoots the three-pointer like it did against Pittsburgh (13-of-25, 52 percent), watch out. While diaper dandy Ennis is a key for the Orange, the Blue Devils will expect big things from its freshman star, Jabari Parker. He had 21 points and 11 rebounds against the Panthers, and he is ready for the big stage.

The bottom line is Duke’s offensive firepower goes against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. Something has to give.

January 26th, 2014

Written by Dick Vitale. Posted in Blog, January 14

The Wolverines are on fire, winning nine in a row. The latest W for John Beilein’s team came at East Lansing on Saturday. 

I had a blast calling the game with Dan Shulman and Shannon Spake. Nik Stauskas remained hot for Michigan. Derrick Walton Jr. showed why he was highly-recruited out of the state of Michigan.

Beilein has done a tremendous job. Mitch McGary is out for the season following back surgery, yet this team has made the necessary adjustments.

Michigan State was without Adriaen Payne (foot, fifth straight game missed) and Branden Dawson (broken hand). When they come back, watch out. Tom Izzo almost got a victory despite being shorthanded.

January 21, 2014

Written by Dick Vitale. Posted in Blog, January 14

Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks have looked great lately. 

With Monday’s win over Baylor, Kansas has won five in a row. It is an impressive list of victories — Oklahoma, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Baylor.

Joel Embiid has shown tremendous improvement. He should be the #1 pick in the draft. Diaper dandies Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Frank Mason have matured and played great team basketball.

Give Self credit for playing the toughest schedule in America. There have been some bumps in the road, but the Jayhawks are playing well now.

Watch out for the Jayhawks as they go for another Big 12 title. This could be a #1 seed in the big dance.

January 20, 2013

Written by Dick Vitale. Posted in Blog, January 14

We had our first Saturday night Gameday contest, with Connecticut hosting Louisville.
The atmosphere was electric in Gampel Pavilion, which is one of the best on-campus places to see a college game. It was a big one for both teams, seeking a quality win.
Louisville got the victory as Russ Smith came through big-time in the second half. The play that will be remembered most was a shot attempt by Niels Giffey of the Huskies. A replay showed he was clearly fouled, no call was made, and Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie went nuts. He was given two technicals and ejected.
I understand why Ollie was upset. The officials blew the call and compounded it by tossing him. Ollie was simply defending his players.
The bottom line is, Hall of Famer Rick Pitino got collegiate win number 680.

January 11, 2014

Written by Dick Vitale. Posted in Blog, January 14

It is award season, baby! The VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index) mid-season college hoop awards, that is.

Let’s give kudos to the crème de la crème, the best of the best so far in this college hoop campaign.

COACH-JIM BOEHEIM

There are so many great candidates, like Sean Miller of Arizona, Bo Ryan of Wisconsin, Fred Hoiberg of Iowa State. I am picking Boeheim because he had to replace his starting backcourt of Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche. They were good enough to get to the Final Four last season. The Orange remained unbeaten with an impressive win over North Carolina Saturday.

PLAYER-DOUG MC DERMOTT

I considered a number of players, like CJ Fair, Jabari Parker, Nick Johnson. McDermott does everything well and is a difference-maker at Creighton.

I know a lot of people have given publicity to freshmen, but McDermott is my pick.

DIAPER DANDY-JABARI PARKER

Names like Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle, Andrew Wiggins and Tyler Ennis have popped up all season. Even though Parker has struggled a bit lately, he rates the nod.

MARCO POLO- DE’ANDRE KANE

There are so many important players who transferred. TJ McConnell, Rodney Hood, Joseph Young, and the list goes on and on. Kane has been superb, putting up 30 on Baylor recently. Unfortunately he hurt his ankle at Oklahoma Saturday.

SURPRISE TEAM-WISCONSIN

The Badgers were supposed to have a decent season, but Bo Ryan’s club has been among the elite. Iowa State, despite Saturday’s loss, is a close second in this category.

DISAPPOINTING TEAM-MARQUETTE

The Golden Eagles were in the preseason Top 25. Marquette was also favored in the Big East, but currently sits at 10-7 overall, 2-2 in conference play after edging Seton Hall.

TOP CONFERENCE-BIG TEN

I thought the ACC was going to be the best this season, but the Big Ten has dominated. Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State have been up in the rankings all season long. Illinois has been better than advertised despite the loss at Wisconsin.

BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER-AARON CRAFT

The Buckeyes’ guard in always in the face of the opposition. His tenacity was displayed late against Michigan State.

BEST FRONTCOURT-ARIZONA

Aaron Gordon, Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and company have been super this season.

BEST BACKCOURT-MICHIGAN STATE

Gary Harris and Keith Appling provide a great 1-2 punch when healthy.

 

January 10, 2014

Written by Dick Vitale. Posted in Blog, January 14

Louisville and Memphis have been rivals for a long time. They were together in the Metro, in Conference USA, and now in the American Athletic.

The Tigers got a big victory at the Yum Center Thursday. Josh Pastner’s team closed on a 7-0 run to get the W. I love watching the passion and intensity of Joe Jackson, and he came through down the stretch.

This was a big game for the Cardinals. They were seeking a quality win to enhance their resume. Russ Smith and Luke Hancock tried, but they fell just short.

Jan 7, 2014

Written by blueadmin. Posted in Blog, January 14

Congratulations to Florida State for going undefeated and winning the national championship.

The Seminoles had to come back from a 21-3 deficit to beat a game Auburn team. There were two key plays by special teams that made a big difference. Coach Jimbo Fisher gambled and went for a fake punt on fourth down that worked, leading to a late first-half touchdown. A 100-yard kickoff return gave the Seminoles the lead in the fourth quarter.

Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston came through in the final seconds in a great drive. He completed six-of-seven passes to get the Seminoles to the winner’s circle.

Dec. 28, 2013

Written by Dick Vitale. Posted in Blog, December 13

Saturday was a great day for college hoop fans.

Syracuse-Villanova and Kentucky-Louisville headlined the action. The Orange fell behind 25-7 but turned things around to get a convincing win over Jay Wright’s Wildcats. There was a question about the Syracuse backcourt before the season, but not now. The tandem of Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis totaled 41 points in the win.

Big Blue Nation was celebrating New Year’s a few days early. A big key was the play of the Harrison Twins, especially in the second half. Kentucky grew up in a hurry against the Cardinals, even with Julius Randle sidelined for much of the second half.

Rick Pitino has to wonder about guys like Chane Behanan, who failed to score on Saturday.

League play starts to heat up this week.