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The first college basketball stock report of 2013

Conference play is officially underway in most conferences, which means that it’s time to evaluate whether it’s time to buy, sell or hold stock in some of the country’s top college basketball teams.

BUY

Butler

Brad Stevens has the Butler Bulldogs looking up as they head into A-10 play. (Image courtesy of http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1446736-butlers-brad-stevens-the-most-job-secure-coach-in-college-basketball)
Brad Stevens has the Butler Bulldogs looking up as they head into A-10 play. (Image courtesy of http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1446736-butlers-brad-stevens-the-most-job-secure-coach-in-college-basketball)

The Bulldogs’ two losses came in the team’s first five games and since their loss to Illinois, who is currently ranked eleventh, Brad Stevens’ squad has rattled off nine straight victories, including a win over No. 1 Indiana. Butler is playing their trademark tough defense and the Bulldogs have wins over Marquette, North Carolina and Northwestern in addition to knocking off the Hoosiers. Butler is the favorite to win the A-10 and its stock can continue to rise with a good conference record.

VCU

The Rams suffered three early losses to Wichita State, who is likely the second best team in the Missouri Valley, Duke and Missouri. However, VCU rebounded and is 12-3 with favorable chances to win a wide open Atlantic 10.

Minnesota

The Golden Gophers started the season unranked but have won their way to the ninth spot in the rankings. Their lone loss was to Duke, which is certainly nothing to be ashamed of considering the Blue Devils’ success this season. Minnesota is on a nine game win streak and has won six consecutive games by double digits, with the latest being a 76-63 home win against No. 18 Michigan State.

Kansas State

In Bruce Weber’s first year as head coach of the Wildcats, Kansas State is off to an impressive 12-2 record. K-State lost to Michigan and Gonzaga early in the season but have put those behind them with wins over Florida and Oklahoma State. The Wildcats will be in the mix of teams competing for second place in the Big 12 behind Kansas.

Kentucky

UK was way overrated at No. 3 in the preseason but the Wildcats have had time to work out some of their kinks in their non-conference schedule. Ryan Harrow gives them a good option at point guard that they were missing early in the season. They lost to Duke and Louisville, two of the top four teams in the country, and Notre Dame in their first true road test. Many of the growing pains are out of the way and a top three finish in the SEC isn’t out of the question as the will compete with Florida and Missouri for the conference title.

SELL

Ohio State

Brandon Paul and the Fighting Illini handled their business against Ohio State and make basketball fans wonder how good the Buckeyes really are. (Image courtesy of http://www.toledoblade.com/Ohio-State/2013/01/05/No-11-Illinois-rebounds-with-home-win-over-No-8-Buckeyes-74-55.html)
Brandon Paul and the Fighting Illini handled their business against Ohio State and make basketball fans wonder how good the Buckeyes really are. (Image courtesy of http://www.toledoblade.com/Ohio-State/2013/01/05/No-11-Illinois-rebounds-with-home-win-over-No-8-Buckeyes-74-55.html)

The Buckeyes have faced three ranked teams-Duke, Kansas and Illinois-and lost all three games. With six ranked teams in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes will have to win big games, especially on the road, and they haven’t proven that they’re up to the challenge just yet.

Pittsburgh

The Panthers cracked the AP Top 25 with an appearance at No. 24 but it will be short-lived after losing to Cincinnati and Rutgers in their first two Big East games, which makes then tied for last place in the conference. Pittsburgh had two freshmen in the starting lineup, which could make for a slow start to conference play.

Cincinnati

Mick Cronin’s Bearcats reached as high as eighth in the rankings but Cincinnati lost to New Mexico and St. John’s in the team’s last three games. UC has a challenging next matchup when it hosts No. 21 Notre Dame on Monday.

Wisconsin

The Badgers entered the season in the AP Top 25 but fell quickly out of the polls after losses to Florida, Creighton, Virginia and Marquette. Wisconsin plays Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State in consecutive games in January, which bodes for a difficult month and a bad start to Big Ten play.

HOLD

Duke

The Blue Devils have passed every test that has been thrown at them this season but they can only move down in the rankings from the No. 1 spot. Duke will be expected to win the ACC but North Carolina State, North Carolina or Maryland all have the talent to upset the Blue Devils in conference play.

Arizona

Sean Miller’s Wildcats are the best team out West but San Diego State, Colorado and Utah’s close losses have shown that Arizona is vulnerable and it could suffer its first loss to a PAC-12 opponent this month.

Illinois

The Fighting Illini are a very difficult team to examine. They won by double digits against Butler and on the road against Gonzaga. Then Illinois lost to Missouri and Purdue in a three-game stretch, followed by a dominating win over Ohio State. Illinois is certainly a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten but their up and down play gives the impression that they will have their share of impressive wins and tough losses this season.

Oklahoma State

The Cowboys blew out North Carolina State early in the season but have lost consecutive games to No. 10 Gonzaga and No. 25 Kansas State, which means that Oklahoma State still has room for improvement in the remainder of the season.

Michigan

The country’s No. 2 team is off to a 15-0 start but it is only a matter of time until the Wolverines lose their first game. The Big Ten schedule for every team is a mine field–one bad step or slip up and Michigan can receive the first blemish on its 2012-13 campaign. However, the Wolverines are one of the best teams in the country and will give Indiana a run for its money to win the Big Ten.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sports.Eat.Sleep.Repeat.!

The first week of 2013 in review

College basketball conference wins are hard to come by, especially on the road

Conference play started kicked off in college basketball and it has already taken its toll on some of the top teams in the country. No. 18 Michigan State fell to No. 9 Minnesota 76-63, Purdue upset No. 11 Illinois 68-61, Marquette bested No. 15 Georgetown and No. 24 Pittsburgh is off to an 0-2 start in the Big East after losing to No. 14 Cincinnati and Rutgers.

Minnesota beat Michigan State thanks to a 25-8 run to end the game. (Image courtesy of http://www.sbnation.com/college-basketball/2012/12/31/3823022/michigan-st-minnesota-final-score)
Minnesota beat Michigan State thanks to a 25-8 run to end the game. (Image courtesy of http://www.sbnation.com/college-basketball/2012/12/31/3823022/michigan-st-minnesota-final-score)

Colorado was set to hand No. 3 Arizona its first loss of the season thanks to a career night from senior guard Sabatino Chen. Arizona came back from a double digit deficit in the second half and Mark Lyons tied the game with a pair of free throws in the final seconds. Chen hit a pull up three with 00.1 seconds left to win the game and the referees ruled the shot good. Upon further review, they waived off the shot (which was determined in HD replay to have left Chen’s hands before the clock hit zero) and the Wildcats won in overtime.

The NFL Playoffs are under way

For the second year in a row, the Houston Texans ended the Cincinnati Bengals’ playoff hopes, leaving Cincinnati winless in the postseason since 1990. In a game in which the majority of the points were scored by the kickers, Houston dominated time of possession by having the ball for 38 minutes and 49 seconds. Arian Foster moved the chains for the Texans with 140 yards  and one touchdown on 32 carries. Andy Dalton did not target A.J. Green in the first half and the Bengals had -6 passing yards at halftime. Houston settled for field goals instead of touchdowns, which allowed Cincinnati to stay within striking distance but the Bengals struggled to put together a scoring drive in the fourth quarter.

Andy Dalton did not target A.J. Green in the first half against Houston. (Image courtesy of http://www.boston.com/sports/football/2013/01/04/picking-the-nfl-wild-card-winners/IltouiU0yasLRvDydm2TNK/story.html?pg=2)
Andy Dalton did not target A.J. Green in the first half against Houston. (Image courtesy of http://www.boston.com/sports/football/2013/01/04/picking-the-nfl-wild-card-winners/IltouiU0yasLRvDydm2TNK/story.html?pg=2)

Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback Christian Ponder did not start against the Green Bay Packers due to an elbow injury, making Joe Webb the first quarterback in NFL history to start a playoff game without throwing a pass in the regular season. Webb only took three snaps all season–two rushes and a kneel–but looked to beat Green Bay for the second time in as many weeks. The Vikings had the second fewest first half passing yards in NFL Playoff history (6) to only the Cincinnati Bengals, who set the dubious record just hours earlier. The Ponder-less Vikings could not keep pace with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense. Minnesota scored first with a field goal in the first quarter but surrendered 24 unanswered points, which was enough for the Packers to win at Lambeau Field.

Two long streaks end in the NBA

The Charlotte Bobcats ended an 18-game losing streak by beating the Chicago Bulls, who then beat the defending champions, the Miami Heat, in their next game.

In the meantime, the Los Angeles Clippers put together a 17-game win streak before falling to the Nuggets in Denver.

Kobe Bryant may be 34 years old but the Black Mamba still has some gas left in the tank for the Lakers. He posterized Chris Paul on a fast break in Friday nights matchup between the two Los Angeles teams. Kobe also joined Twitter this week, giving social media users insight into his life, including his acupuncture therapy and his love to challenge himself. You can follow him @kobebryant.

Kobe Bryant showed that he still has youth left despite being 34 years old. (Image courtesy of http://elitedaily.com/elite/2013/kobe-bryant-throws-nasty-dunk-chris-paul-video/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kobe-bryant-throws-nasty-dunk-chris-paul-video)
Kobe Bryant showed that he still has youth left despite being 34 years old. (Image courtesy of http://elitedaily.com/elite/2013/kobe-bryant-throws-nasty-dunk-chris-paul-video/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kobe-bryant-throws-nasty-dunk-chris-paul-video)

Oregon and Johnny Football shine in bowl wins

In a matchup that had national championship hopes late in the college football season, Oregon routed Kansas State and the Ducks didn’t take long to get on the board–De’Anthony Thomas returned the opening kickoff and Dion Jordan took a shovel pass into the end zone to give Oregon an 8-0 lead 12 seconds into the game. While the Wildcats had possession of the ball for six minutes more than the Ducks, Oregon outgained Kansas State by 102 yards. The strangest play of the game was when Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota rushed for a touchdown but Alejandro Maldonado’s extra point attempt was blocked, a Kansas State played grabbed the ball and pitched it to a teammate in the end zone and the Wildcat player was tackled for a one-point safety in favor of Oregon. Oregon won the Fiesta Bowl 35-17.

Johnny Manziel backed up his Heisman Trophy winning regular season with an impressive bowl game performance. Manziel had over 500 yards of total offense along with 2 rushing and 2 passing touchdowns as No. 9 Texas A&M defeated No. 11 Oklahoma 41-13 in the Cotton Bowl.

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sports.Eat.Sleep.Repeat.!

2012 Adidas Hoosier Classic Recap

The Indiana University women’s tennis team wasted no time to get off to a strong start in the 2012 season. Last weekend, the Hoosiers hosted the 2012 Adidas Hoosier Classic, which brought Purdue University, the University of Notre Dame, University of Colorado and Kansas State University to the IU Tennis Center’s outdoor courts.

The three-day tournament was broken down into four singles flights and one doubles flight. The top singles flight was set up in a round robin format, where every player played one match against another player each day. The top tier featured two nationally ranked players—Indiana’s own Leslie Hureau (50th) and Notre Dame’s Britney Sanders (98th). Sanders and IU sophomore Alecia Kauss were both undefeated in singles play over the course of the weekend by winning all three of their matches in the Adidas Hoosier Classic.

Indiana’s matches on Friday produced a collective singles record of 4-4 and a doubles record of 5-2. In the top flight, Alecia Kauss defeated Quinn Gleason of Notre Dame 4-6, 7-5, 1-0 (7) and Leslie Hureau won handily over Colorado’s Winde Janssens 6-2, 6-0. In the second singles flight, Jithmie Jayawickrema earned her first win as a Hoosier when she defeated Mazy Watrous of Colorado 6-4, 6-3. Sophomore Carolyn Chupa rounded out Indiana’s opening day victories by besting Colorado’s Carla Manzi Tenorio 6-2, 6-1. IU sent two doubles teams, Hureau/Sophie Garre and Kauss/Shannon Murdy, into the round of four in the sixteen-team bracket. Hureau and Garre won both of their matches 8-4, first over Winde Janssens/Julyette Steur of Colorado and Purdue’s Imogen Golder/Gisella Pere. It took the Kauss/Murdy duo sixteen sets to pull out the win over Kansas State Wildcats Carli Wischhoff and Ivana Kubickova 9-7 before defeating Chrissie McGaffigan/Katherine White 8-4 of Notre Dame. The team of Carolyn Chupa and Katie Klyczek lost their opening match but responded strongly to beat Kansas State’s Ana Gomez Aleman/Miranda Erisman 8-1.

On Saturday, the Hoosiers improved upon Friday’s win totals by earning six victories in both singles and doubles.  All three of the Hoosiers in the top flight defeated their opponents. Leslie Hureau came from behind to beat Notre Dame’s Quinn Gleason 4-6, 6-2, 1-0 (7), Katie Klyczek topped Molly O’Koniewski of Notre Dame 6-4, 7-6 (7) and Alecia Kauss overcame Colorado’s Winde Janssens in a tiebreaker 1-6, 6-3, 1-0 (8). Sophie Garre bested Kansas State’s Ana Gomez Aleman 6-1, 6-3, Shannon Murdy defeated Gisella Pere of Purdue 2-6, 6-1, 1-0 (11) and Gabrielle Rubenstein won her match 7-6 (2), 6-1 against Miranda Erisman from Kansas State. The doubles teams of Chupa/Klyczek and Gabrielle Rubenstein/Jithmie Jayawickrema were both 2-0 on the day. Hureau/Garre and Kauss/Murdy both defeated their Kansas State opponents as well on Saturday.

Sunday was the last day of the Adidas Hoosier Classic and wrapped up the tournament with the final singles matches. Alecia Kauss defeated Molly O’Koniewski 6-4, 6-3 to cap off her perfect singles record to start the season. Kauss, who had a 21-15 record as a freshman, said that the biggest differences from freshman to sophomore year are “the experience that I gained from last season and knowing everyone on the team makes me feel a lot more comfortable.” She attributed her success on the court at the Adidas Hoosier Classic to “being consistent, keeping a game plan, using the shots I knew were working and making adjustments every day.”

The other Hoosier victories on Sunday include Sophie Garre defeating Carlie Wischhoff of Kansas State 6-3, 6-3 in the second flight consolation final. Shannon Murdy beat Kansas State’s Amina St. Hill 6-3, 6-3 and Gabrielle Rubenstein defeated Notre Dame’s JoHanna Manningham 6-3, 6-2 in the flight four consolation final.

Coach Lin Loring was excited about his team’s season-opening tournament. “Overall, I thought we played really well. All of the teams were BCS schools so we had some really good wins over quality players,” he said. “We still have a ways to go to get where we want to be but we’re definitely further along than we were last year at this time.”

The women’s tennis team is next in action on October 12 when they go to Athens, Ga. for the three-day Georgia Invitational.

Indiana University Women’s Tennis Preview

After being just one match win shy of making the NCAA Tournament last spring, the Indiana University women’s tennis team is poised to improve upon the foundation that it laid in the 2011-12 season. Considering that half of the women—Ariel Beckerman, Carolyn Chupa, Alecia Kauss, Katie Klyczek, and Shannon Murdy—were in their first year of college last season, the Hoosiers’ 16-11 record was quite impressive. In addition to being Division I athletes in a conference that boasted four teams in the top twenty-one of the final 2011 rankings, they had to adjust to a new school, college courses, living arrangements and friends. The five freshmen make up what was the sixth best recruiting class in the nation for the Class of 2015 and they played well beyond their years last season. They were a combined 77-54 on the year for IU and made significant contributions at various spots in the singles lineup. Head Coach Lin Loring said that the five sophomores will be “even better this season now that they have one year of college under their belts.”

While Indiana’s sophomores are vital to the success of the team, the Hoosiers would not be coming off of a season in which they finished 48th in the country in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings without their upperclassmen. IU returns senior Leslie Hureau, who is ranked 50th in the ITA’s preseason singles rankings for the upcoming season and is also someone who Coach Loring will count on to be a leader on this year’s squad. Hureau was named All-Big Ten each of the three years that she has been in Bloomington and accomplished the impressive feat of earning All-American honors in her sophomore season. At the first singles position last year, the native of Annecy-le-Vieux, France, was 15-8 and took down three nationally ranked opponents, including Emina Bektas, who was ranked tenth in the country for Michigan at the time of her defeat. Hureau isn’t the only Hoosier from overseas, or even France. Fellow senior Jithmie Jayawickrema, a transfer from Stephen F. Austin who is in her first season as a Hoosier, is from Colombo, Sri Lanka and junior Sophie Garre hails from Ploeren, France. Gabrielle Rubenstein, a transfer from Butler University, and Kayla Fujimoto round out the junior class. Sadly, Fujimoto is recovering from a shoulder injury but Coach Loring commented that she “will still be around the team and will be one of the team’s leaders along with Leslie [Hureau].”

When reflecting upon the 2011-12 season, Loring remarked how the women’s tennis team was very competitive with top twenty teams but struggled to win the close matches. Indiana faced #15 Michigan and #19 Illinois but failed to leave the matches victorious. “Had we won one of those matches, we would have been in the tournament. If we won both, we would have been ranked in the top twenty-five teams,” Coach Loring said.

The Hoosiers are in their first week of practice for the new season and are looking forward to their first tournament of the year—the Adidas Hoosier Classic. Sophomore Katie Klyczek showed the team’s excitement for getting back out on the courts and competing. “We’re excited to go back out and see how much we have improved from last year and hopefully get a feel for the new team,” she said in an interview with the women’s tennis media relations. The three-day event starts this Friday in Bloomington, with the first round of singles at 11 a.m. It will bring some of the top women’s tennis talent in the state of Indiana to IU. The University of Notre Dame and Purdue University finished 19th and 26th in the country, respectively, in the final rankings of the 2011-12 season and will give Indiana a “good idea of how good the new doubles teams are.” Kansas State and Colorado round out the field. Coach Loring went on to say, “Everyone in the Big Ten is better this year and it’s a very tough conference. We need to win more of the close matches this year.” With all of the talent and experience returning for the Hoosiers, they have the potential to do just that, which means that Indiana could be a top 25 and NCAA Tournament team this season.

The Year of the Upset

At the start of the NCAA Tournament Thursday afternoon, it seemed that there would be very few upsets. The first nine games went the way of “chalk,” meaning that the lower, favorited seed won. March became a little madder when VCU followed up its Final Four appearance in 2011 by upsetting the #5 seed Wichita State by three points. In the final matchup of the opening day of the tourney, Colorado set the tone for Friday’s games by shocking the UNLV Running Rebels, #6 seed and #25 overall in the AP poll. As a whole, the number of upsets was surprisingly small. On average, there are eight upsets in the round of 64 based on the seed, putting this year’s tournament to fill only half of the “quota.”

After all the games are finished for the second round, there were eight upsets on Friday, including two #15  seeds beating #2 seeds. North Carolina State, who finished 22-12 and fifth place in the ACC, trumped #6 San Diego State 79-65. The game was close at halftime, with the Wolfpack leading by four points, but NC State took over in the second half, led by Richard Howell’s twenty-two points.

Courtesy of http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketballnation/tag/_/name/2012-columbus-region

Entering the 2012 edition of the NCAA Tournament, #15 seeds were 4-104 all-time against #2 seeds. That’s an average of one every 27 years. In historic fashion, two #2 seeds fell on Friday to their higher-ranked opponents. The Missouri Tigers were a trendy favorite to represent the West region in the Final Four. Mizzou was 30-4 in the regular season and won the Big 12 Tournament by defeating Baylor handily in the championship game. Three of their four losses were to ranked opponents and tournament teams, proving to be a tough out all season. In its first NCAA Tournament appearance, the Norfolk State Spartans shocked the basketball world by upsetting Mizzou 86-84 thanks to a great shooting performance. Three Spartans had at least twenty points and the team shot 54% from the floor. Missouri fought back at the end of the game and had a three-point attempt at the buzzer but it clanked off the rim and Norfolk State completed to unexpected upset. What made the night even more unpredictable was when Lehigh came back from being down by two at halftime to stun Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils. Led by junior guard C.J. McCollum, who scored thirty points, grabbed six rebounds, and had six assists, the Mountain Hawks go on to play Xavier.

Courtesy of http://www.silive.com/sports/index.ssf/2012/03/a_pair_of_no_2s_out_of_ncaa_to.html

While a #9 seed beating a #8 is not usually considered an upset, Saint Louis beat Memphis behind Kwamain Mitchell’s 22 points. Robbie Hummell and the Purdue Boilermakers narrowly beat St. Mary’s 72-69. Two years ago, the Ohio Bobcats as a #14 seed stunned the Georgetown Hoyas in the first round. Some of those same players are on the current squad that upset #4 Michigan 65-60. In the final games of the night, South Florida handed Temple a fourteen-point loss to be the second twelve seed this year to upset a five seed. Lastly, Xavier rallied to overcome a ten point deficit to beat Notre Dame after a bad lane violation call nullified a Fighting Irish one-and-one.

At this rate, this will be the craziest March Madness in the history of the tournament. Almost every game is down to the wire and anyone can beat anyone else. While Kentucky is playing at a higher level than every other team in the field, it is a toss-up for the matchups in the round of 32. If you ignore that seeds of the teams and compare them without a bias, there is very little separating the teams who remain in the tournament.

Courtesy of http://msn.foxsports.com/collegebasketball/story/Xavier-Musketeers-beat-Vanderbilt-Commodores-in-overtime-112811

Out of the remaining teams who upset a lower-ranked seed, I predict Xavier, VCU, and South Florida to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Out of the 32 teams left in the field, Xavier, South Florida, and Murray State have the best chances to make it to the Elite Eight. Although, no matter who wins, I think everyone can agree that this has been the greatest opening weekend of the tournament we have ever seen and it can only get better from here.