Monday, January 26, 2015

Morning News: Coach K 1K, Ohio State/Indiana, Dez Wells Game Winner, And More

So I don't know if you heard about this game yesterday...

Coach K 1K Hey, did you guys hear that Coach K won his 1,000th game? I didn't either! It's too bad the media didn't cover it, huh?
In all seriousness, there's no reason we have to let the media's annoying coverage and hype of K distract from what an unbelievable accomplishment 1,000 wins is. Jim Boeheim will likely get there, but then it might be a while, even with the increase in the number of games per season. Bill Self is the only other active coach who seems to have a realistic shot of getting there, if he's willing to keep coaching Kansas into his 70s.

St. John's almost spoiled the party here. They led by 10 points midway through the second half, but a 21-4 run blew this game open. Duke was simply more aggressive, attacking the rim and the glass while St. John's settled for long jumpers.

If St. John's ends up in the NIT, we'll look back at this game as their huge missed opportunity. They're just 2-4 in Big East play with an RPI that is 50th. If they can get to 9-9 in Big East play that should be enough for an at-large bid, but that's no guarantee.

Ohio State Takes Care Of Indiana The Buckeyes were an 8 point favorite in Vegas, so it would have been a fairly large upset if they lost, but Indiana's hot outside shooting and serious cramps for D'Angelo Russell were cause for concern. Russell was limited to 32 minutes, part of which he was limping for, otherwise he might have gone for a triple double (22 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds). Indiana, meanwhile, shot 12-for-25 (48%) behind the arc, led by 6-for-11 from Yogi Ferrell.

The issue for Indiana is just how reliant they are on three-point shooting. It's why this game seemed to have so many 6-0 or 10-3 type spurts. When the Hoosiers get hot for a couple minutes they pile up points in bunches, but when they get cold they lack a consistent inside scoring option and they are awful defensively. Ohio State cruised to 1.32 PPP here without even shooting that well.

Indiana drops to 5-2 in Big Ten play, knowing that they probably have to get to 11-7 to make the NCAA Tournament. They have a very tricky road game up next, on Wednesday at Purdue. Ohio State has a crucial game coming up on Thursday against Maryland. In my opinion, the winner of that game has the inside track for second place in the Big Ten, and to have the best shot at challenging Wisconsin for the Big Ten title.

Dez Wells Game Winner Maryland overcame a 14 point deficit to avoid what would have been a terrible home loss to Northwestern. It finished in a wild sequence brought to us by the lack of timeouts for the Terps, which you can watch below:
The Terps were perhaps looking ahead a little bit to their massive road game at Ohio State on Thursday. The winner of that game will have the inside track to be Wisconsin's top challenger in the Big Ten.

Notre Dame Escapes NC State This was a massive missed opportunity for NC State. They led by 18 points at one stage, and looked primed for the type of win that could put them firmly into the Field of 68 and off the Tournament bubble. But their offense fell apart in the second half and the Irish slowly clawed their way back into the game. Still, the Wolfpack had the ball and the lead with under 20 seconds to go, but an ill-advised inbounds pass (when they still had a timeout left to call) set up Notre Dame to tie up the game and send it to overtime. In overtime, Jerian Grant actually blocked the attempted game-tying three-pointer with a few seconds to go.

This might have been NC State's last good chance for a big scalp. They still get Virginia, but that will be awfully tough, as will a road game at Louisville. They beat Duke, but they're 4-4 in ACC play and if they go 9-9 they'll only be 18-13 overall. That seems very bubblish.

The Irish are still just a half game back from first place in the ACC, though they already lost at home to Virginia and don't get a rematch. But they have a home-and-home with Duke coming up, starting with the game at Notre Dame on Wednesday.

Butler Runs Away From Seton Hall Seton Hall fought back from a 13 point deficit to actually take a 3 point lead in the second half of this game, but that's when the floodgates opened. A 33-7 Butler run turned this one into a laugher. And it was a team-wide impressive effort from the Bulldogs, who had five players in double-figures.

Seton Hall being ranked the past few weeks has been somewhat comical, and it will surely end today. Now just 3-4 in Big East play, the bigger concern is staying in the Field of 68. They'll be in decent shape if they can get to 9-9, though they'll need more RPI Top 50 wins (only one so far), but even 9-9 will be difficult. First up, they need to survive a tough road game at Marquette on Wednesday.

Butler, meanwhile, has begun to separate themselves from the pack in the Big East. They're 15-6 overall and 5-3 in conference play, with wins over North Carolina, Georgetown, Xavier, St. John's and Seton Hall (twice), with a loss to Tennessee being their worst loss of the season. They're looking very safe for an NCAA Tournament bid, and more like a 5-7 seed than something closer to the bubble. They have a reasonable shot at finishing in second place in the Big East.

Kuran Iverson To Rhode Island Iverson hadn't done much over a season and a half at Memphis, and he was averaging just 4.5 points and 1.6 rebounds per game this season before transferring out, but he was a highly touted recruit who will get a chance for a basketball career reboot at Rhode Island. It looks like he should be eligible at the start of the next spring semester, where he could be joining a Rams team fighting for an at-large bid.

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