Tag Archives: Georgetown Hoyas

Josh Smith overwhelms Indiana in second half

There are few players in college basketball who have the size to match up with Georgetown’s 6-foot-10, 350-pound center Josh Smith.

Indiana has several stretches every game where a 6-foot-7 forward is forced to play center — a clear mismatch in favor of Smith when he’s on the floor — but the Hoosiers had a scouting report that identified the key to stopping the Hoyas’ big man.

Force him right.

Force him to the right block or to his right shoulder and you have a chance at stopping him, Crean said.

“You just can’t let him get to his strengths,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “He’s very left-shouldered centered with what he does to get to his right hand. If you let him get to his left shoulder and turn the left side of his body, because of his right hand, he’s pretty much a one-handed player, but getting to that left shoulder he’s unbelievably hard to guard.”

Indiana held Smith in check early in the game, but ultimately he was able to work the left block and take advantage of an undersized Hoosier lineup en route to a 91-87 victory in overtime.

Smith spent more time on the bench than on the court in the first half after the Hoosiers drew three fouls against him in the game’s opening 13 minutes.

“After the first half I knew that I could play better,” he said. “I knew that I could go out, help my team out and just try to show my hands as much as I could and just show the refs that I’m moving my feet, just playing defense.”

It was a different story in the second half, although not right away. Georgetown coach John Thompson III started the half with Smith on the bench.

“That decision was made knowing we were going to need him down the stretch,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said.

After a two-point, one-rebound performance before intermission, Smith scored 12 points and had five rebounds in 16 second-half minutes.

When Indiana played him straight up with one defender, Smith simply overpowered the Hoosiers in the paint. Thompson III said one player alone can’t guard Smith and Georgetown is at its best when it can capitalize on those matchups.

“I believe no matter who is guarding me one-on-one that I can score on them,” Smith said. “That’s not me being selfish, that’s me believing in my team and them putting me in the right position.”

Indiana had marginal success at stopping him when utilizing double and triple teams, but it wasn’t sustainable.

“I think when we doubled correctly we turned him over some,” Crean said.

However, for a player of his stature and mismatch potential, Smith is an unselfish passer. After scoring on back-to-back possessions early in the second half, Smith faced a triple team from Indiana along the baseline. He kicked the ball out to teammate Aaron Bowen, who made a catch-and-shoot three-pointer from the right wing.

“Plays like that get the crowd into it and that’s why I really love the offense,” Smith said. “I love passing as much as I love dunking and scoring.”

While D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera’s 24 points after halftime gave the Hoyas the offensive punch they needed to cut into Indiana’s double-digit lead, Smith allowed Georgetown to play inside-out. And the Hoosiers had no answer for him in the second half. Once he buckled down defensively and began defending with his feet instead of his hands, there wasn’t much Indiana could do against him.

“He has a huge impact,” Thompson III said. “People have to pay attention to Josh.”

“He can’t be stopped down there except when he stops himself.”

Smith-Rivera on Ferrell: ‘There’s always been a rivalry but I’m winning’

For D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, it was personal.

His game-high 29 points led Georgetown past Indiana 91-87 in overtime and allowed him to avenge a 2012 loss to the Hoosiers and Yogi Ferrell, a friend of his since kindergarten who has since become somewhat of a rival.

Like many of Indiana’s players, including Ferrell, Smith-Rivera grew up in the Hoosier state, where he spent three years playing for Indianapolis’ North Central High School before going to Oak Hill Academy (Va.) for his senior year.

“Of course this was personal,” he said, “you know, it’s back home.”

Indiana had recruited Smith-Rivera in high school but the 6-foot-3 combo guard ultimately ended up signing to play for coach John Thompson III and the Hoyas.

One of his first games at Georgetown was against then-No. 1 Indiana — at the Barclays Center, just over five miles away from Madison Square Garden’s home in Manhattan — in the Legends Classic. Just like Saturday’s bout, the game couldn’t be decided in the allotted 40 minutes, and the Hoosiers eventually won 82-72 in overtime.

A second crack at Indiana had been on Smith-Rivera’s radar for a while and he wasn’t going to fall to the Hoosiers for a second time in the greater New York City area, despite Ferrell’s best efforts.

“It’s big,” Smith-Rivera said. “My freshman year we lost to them. Me and coach talked about that all week coming into the game so it’s personal for me.”

Ferrell and teammate James Blackmon Jr. out-shined Smith-Rivera in the first half, scoring 12 points each on a combined 6-of-9 shooting from three-point range, as Indiana built up a 10-point lead at halftime.

But Smith-Rivera had the final word. He scored 17 second-half points thanks to a 4-of-5 effort from behind the arc. Despite entering the game as a 25.7 percent three-point shooter, he rose to the occasion and made 5-of-7 shots from deep against the Hoosiers.

After Ferrell miraculously scored eight points in the final minute and a half, including two unlikely three-pointers, to force overtime, Smith-Rivera scored seven points in the extra period as Ferrell struggled with fouls, turnovers and missed three-point attempts.

“There were moments we both flourished,” Smith-Rivera said of his matchup against Ferrell. “I’ve grown up with Yogi since kindergarten, I’ve know him forever and we’ve always been great friends.”

“There’s always been a rivalry but I’m winning right now.”

Indiana ends non-conference schedule with overtime loss to Georgetown

NEW YORK — “The World’s Most Famous Arena” continues to haunt Indiana, as the Hoosiers extended their losing streak at Madison Square Garden to three games after losing 91-87 to Georgetown in overtime.

On Dec. 9, No. 4 Louisville overwhelmed Indiana with its size in the post and uncharacteristically strong three-point shooting to overcome the Hoosiers’ second-half lead. On Saturday afternoon, Georgetown used a similar recipe to defeat Indiana.

A 10-point halftime lead for Indiana was quickly squandered thanks to D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera’s hot shooting, followed by Josh Smith’s imposing size in the post.

After watching fellow Indiana natives Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon Jr. go 6-of-9 from three-point range in the first half, Smith-Rivera decided to join the party. He was 4-of-5 from distance in the second half, pacing the Hoyas with a game-high 29 points.

His offensive barrage resonated beyond the confines of Madison Square Garden. He had grown up with Ferrell since kindergarten and he said the two have always been great friends. When the two point guards were freshmen, Indiana handed Georgetown an 82-72 loss in overtime in Brooklyn. On Saturday, Smith-Rivera got his revenge.

“Me and coach talked about that all week coming into the game,” Smith-Rivera said. “It’s personal for me.”

“There’s always been a rivalry but I’m winning right now.”

Smith-Rivera’s second half scoring outburst was coupled with the emergence of Georgetown’s 6-foot-10, 350-pound center Josh Smith, who played limited minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. Junior forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea, 6-foot-9, was the only Hoosier who could remotely come close to bodying up Smith, but he had a quiet afternoon with two points, six rebounds and three fouls.

“He rushed a little bit,” Crean said of Mosquera-Perea. “He’s got to have more of a presence for us and he had a hard job, hard task obviously with what he’s trying to do defensively but the back line of our defense got quiet and it got quiet in the guts of the game.”

When Mosquera-Perea wasn’t in the game, Indiana threw different combinations of defensive looks at Smith, but none seemed to consistently work. Freshman Emmitt Holt was completely overmatched. And double and triple teams were too often ineffective or left the Hoosiers exposed to open shooters on the perimeter.

“He’s very much a one-handed player, but getting to that left shoulder, he’s unbelievably hard to guard,” Crean said of Smith. “It’s very hard to root him out and we didn’t do a great job of staying into his body, to his lower body, especially when we were trying to front him.”

As the Hoyas whittled down Indiana’s lead and built up their own five-point lead, sophomore forward Troy Williams responded with a run of his own. For three minutes, he was nothing short of brilliant. Williams scored or assisted on seven consecutive scoring plays late in the second half, which fueled his 23-point, eight-rebound, four-assist stat line.

But the good times were fleeting for the Hoosiers. When momentum was up for grabs in the second half and in overtime, more times than not Georgetown reached out and grabbed it.

While Georgetown outplayed Indiana in the second half, many of the Hoosiers’ wounds were self-inflicted. They turned the ball over 17 times, which led to 20 points for the Hoyas.

Just as Troy Williams giveth, Troy Williams taketh.

He fouled Jabril Trwick on a three-point attempt and Trawick made two of his three free throw attempts. Then, in the span of three offensive possessions, Williams had back-to-back turnovers, which led to four Georgetown points in the midst of a 7-0 Hoya run.

With the game slipping out of Indiana’s reach, Yogi Ferrell grabbed the reigns and erased a five-point deficit in the final minute and a half. He made both free throws after getting fouled by Smith-Rivera. In the Hoosiers’ final two offensive possessions of the game, he banked in a three-pointer, then made a step-back, fadeaway three-pointer to tie the game with less than 12 seconds on the clock.

Indiana’s defense stood stout in the closing seconds of regulation to force overtime. Georgetown jumped out to a seven-point lead in overtime, forcing Indiana to play from behind.

After willing the Hoosiers into overtime, Ferrell’s late-game magic had run out. He had two turnovers, two missed three-point attempts and three fouls in the extra period.

The loss put a bitter taste in the mouth of Indiana heading into Big Ten play. A win could have potentially propelled the Hoosiers into the Top 25 and among the favorites to finish behind Wisconsin in the conference.

When asked after the game how Indiana will bounce back from the overtime loss before facing Nebraska on the road on New Year’s Eve, Ferrell said the team doesn’t need to bounce back.

Indiana’s Big Ten opener in Lincoln, Neb. on Wednesday is the start of a new chapter. What’s done is done, and all in all, a 10-3 record with wins against two ranked teams isn’t a bad position for the Hoosiers to be in heading into conference play.

“Myself and Hanner, we know the tendencies of the Big Ten so it’s going to be upon us to try and get these young guys and these new guys to get into to the flow of the game,” Ferrell said. “It’s not really a bounce back, it’s just a new start for us.”

Hoosiers to close non-conference slate against Georgetown

After Indiana’s last game in Madison Square Garden against No. 4 Louisville, the Hoosiers left with a 20-point loss and a lesson.

To win games, especially those against good teams, they have to play tough at every position no matter the score or the situation.

That lesson applies most directly to junior forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea and it has led to three straight wins, including one against No. 23 Butler last weekend.

Indiana (10-2) will face Georgetown (7-3) on Saturday in the Hoosiers’ second game at The Garden this season. The game marks their final non-conference matchup of the season, meaning they’re in the portion of their schedule that demands bringing home an actual victory, not a moral one.

The road to success starts with Mosquera-Perea, who will be assigned the unenviable task of matching up with Georgetown’s 6-foot-10, 350-pound center Josh Smith.

Indiana coach Tom Crean has preached throughout the season how the biggest key for Mosquera-Perea is daily improvement, which may appear to be coach speak, but it’s the truth for a player who’s in his first season as a starter.

In the Hoosiers’ first eight games of the season, Mosquera-Perea averaged 7.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 21.1 minutes. He has averaged 10.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 24.3 minutes in Indiana’s past four games — a stretch that started with his play against Louisville.

When reflecting on the team’s Dec. 9 loss to the Cardinals, Crean found a silver lining in Mosquera-Perea. The loss lit a match under the junior and became a turning point for him early on in the season.

“There were not a lot of positives in the Louisville game,” Crean said. “But Hanner walking out of that game knowing he could score, and knowing that he could score on a one-on-one situation against length, against good people, really helped him.”

Mosquera-Perea wasn’t as consistently aggressive defensively and on the glass as he could have been against Louisville, Crean said. That has since changed — a mentality that has materialized on the court.

“Well, at this point, I have to bring a lot to the table for us to win or us to be able to have a good game,” Mosquera-Perea said. “So blocking shots and rebounding, I know that had to be a few of the top things that I have to do every game, so just trying to keep that going.”

The center position was a question mark earlier in the season for Indiana as Mosquera-Perea’s play fluctuated from game to game, but he has recently stabilized the team’s front line as the Hoosiers’ non-conference schedule comes to a close.

Indiana faced overwhelming height the last time it played in Madison Square Garden, but the Hoosiers’ next opponent has an average height that’s 1.6 inches taller than that of Louisville. As of Thursday night, the Hoyas rank ninth in the country in offensive rebounding percentage (40.7 percent) but 242nd in defensive rebounding percentage (66.7 percent).

The big-bodied Smith, a transfer from UCLA, is playing the best basketball of his career, averaging 12.7 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game. While Mosquera-Perea has generally avoided foul trouble this season, defending without fouling will be of vital importance against Smith, who draws nearly seven fouls per 40 minutes.

“This team provides so many different issues for defenses because they can score inside with Joshua Smith and Mikael Hopkins,” Crean said. “And then at the same time, they do a really good job of playing their offense and moving without the ball.”

Indiana will be challenged defensively against Georgetown’s tall frontcourt when Troy Williams, Emmitt Holt or Collin Hartman plays the “five,” but the Hoosiers’ greatest concern on defense lies in their opponent’s backcourt. The Hoyas’ junior point guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera was the preseason Big East Player of the Year and is a triple-double threat.

The Indianapolis native is not only Georgetown’s most efficient offensive player, but he excels at maximizing the good while minimizing the bad while initiating the team’s offense. Smith-Rivera is responsible for nearly a quarter of the Hoyas’ assists while he’s on the floor and he only turns the ball over 13.1 percent of the time; he draws nearly five fouls per game, while committing less than half that many.

What the Hoosiers lack in size and experience to Georgetown, they make up for in outside shooting supremacy. The Hoyas make slightly better than one-third of their three-point attempts (compared to Indiana’s 41.7 percent) and only Smith-Rivera, who is 12-of-44 (.273) on the season, averages more than one made three-pointer per game. Both teams play roughly two seconds faster on offense than on defense and Indiana could benefit from a fast-paced game in which the Hoosiers force Georgetown to keep up with their three-point shooting pace and for Smith to move back-and-forth quickly down the floor.

“We are going to have to be very, very good at keeping the game moving and playing inside-out, not settling and making sure that our weakside rebounding is up to par against a team like this,” Crean said.

If Indiana can win on Saturday, the Hoosiers will enter Big Ten play with four quality wins and minimal damage to their non-conference resume. But Crean said he doesn’t have a big-picture view of the team’s non-conference slate just yet. Similarly to the progression of Mosquera-Perea, he’s focused on simply guiding Indiana to daily improvement.

“If I had to pick one thing that I would say has been a plus, I would say they have improved every week,” Crean said. “They have really improved every week. You can see it.”

The Hoosiers enter Madison Square Garden with a 10-2 record and wins against the three opponents — SMU, Pittsburgh and Butler — that are in their peer group, but Crean isn’t getting caught up in his team’s early success.

“Especially with a young team,” he said, “the moment you think that you’ve got something worked out is the moment it goes away.”

Indiana will determine on Saturday if that moment is here to stay, allowing the Hoosiers to ride a winning streak into Big Ten play or if they’ll have their own long list of questions to answer, similarly to the rest of the conference.

Xavier Basketball: 5 Storylines for the Musketeers in 2013-14

Click here to read this article on BleacherReport.com.

Despite not making the NCAA tournament last season for the first time since 2005, the future looks bright for the Xavier Musketeers. The 2013-14 season will usher in Xavier’s transition to the Big East, the addition of Western Michigan transfer Matt Stainbrook to the starting lineup and the development of reigning Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year Semaj Christon.

With head coach Chris Mack at the helm, the Muskies will look to improve upon their 17-14 record and seventh-place finish in the A-10 last season. Xavier is in its second year of rebuilding the program.

The Musketeers will rely on a lot of youth next season with five freshmen and two sophomores on scholarship. Xavier can expect a lot of competition for playing time as well as depth on the bench—something the Musketeers lacked last season—as it enters a new era in the Big East.

Semaj Christon earned Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year honors last season.  (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Semaj Christon earned Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year honors last season.
(Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

1. Playing in the Big East

In the midst of conference re-alignment, the Big East became a revolving door as the “Catholic 7” of Georgetown, Villanova, DePaul, Marquette, St. John’s, Providence and Seton Hall separated from the rest of their conference; the Catholic 7 then added Xavier and Butler from the Atlantic 10 in addition to Creighton from the Missouri Valley Conference to form a 10-team conference.

Despite sending five teams to the tournament last year, the A-10 has historically been regarded as a second-tier conference full of mid-majors. Xavier has achieved sustained success in the postseason that has exceeded the expectations for most mid-majors.

Xavier has 11 NCAA tournament berths in the past 13 seasons; the Musketeers have had three Sweet 16 and two Elite Eight appearances in that stretch. The Muskies will get the opportunity to take their program to the next level in the Big East.

The Big East is still one of the better basketball conferences, regardless if many fans add the qualifier “new” in front of it.

Butler has proven that it’s a program capable of making deep runs in the tournament.

Georgetown returns the majority of its roster from a Hoya team that had a 25-7 record and tied for a Big East Championship last year.

Creighton’s senior forward Doug McDermott will be one of the preseason National Player of the Year favorites after averaging more than 23 points and nearly eight rebounds per game last season.

Plus, ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi projects for five Big East teams to make next season’s tournament in his first 2013-14 bracket.

The Big East Tournament will be held in Madison Square Garden, and ESPN New York reporter Kieran Darcy reported that the Big East agreed to a 12-year deal with Fox Sports.

The combination of star players, tournament-bound teams, major venues and multi-year television deals means that Xavier will have more national exposure than ever before.

2. Playing in the Battle 4 Atlantis

On Thanksgiving weekend, the Musketeers will play in the Bahamas in the Battle 4 Atlantis along with Kansas, Iowa, Tennessee, USC, Vilanova, UTEP and Wake Forest.

While the matchups have not been announced for the tournament, Xavier has the opportunity to play a potential Top Five team in Kansas, who recently added the class of 2013’s No. 1 recruit, Andrew Wiggins, and a fringe Top 25 team in Iowa, who returns its top five scorers from last year’s Hawkeye squad that lost in the NIT Championship and finished the season with a 25-13 record.

It could also face USC and the Trojans’ new head coach Andy Enfield, who led No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet 16 last year, and Tennessee, who CBS College Basketball Insider Gary Parrish said should be considered a Top 25 team after the announcement of Antonio Barton’s transfer from Memphis.

The Musketeers could potentially face challenging competition in the Bahamas, which would help the strength of their nonconference schedule, and the tournament can only help Xavier’s case to make the NCAA tournament in March.

Xavier has not faced a Top 10 team in its nonconference schedule since 2008, and playing multiple ranked teams in consecutive days would prepare the Muskies for the challenges that lie ahead in the Big East.

3. The Development of Semaj Christon

Xavier’s point guard won A-10 Freshman of the Year honors last season after averaging 15.2 points and more than four assists per game.

Christon suffered his share of growing pains; he turned the ball over 10 times against VCU, made just one of his nine shots before fouling out in a four-point loss to Tennessee and he was 3-of-11 from the field against Wake Forest, to name a few of his less-than-stellar performances.

However, the Cincinnati native was one of the bright spots on an inexperienced team that lost its top five scorers from the 2011-12 season. Christon led Xavier in points, assists, steals and free throws attempted last year.

His best statistical game of the season was a 20-point, seven-assist and seven-rebound effort in an overtime win against No. 16 Saint Louis as Xavier made one final push for an at-large bid to the tournament.

Xavier coach Chris Mack tweeted this spring that Christon will be one of the team’s captains as a sophomore, so he will have a larger leadership role next season.

Just as the point guard will have an opportunity to improve in the locker room, he has room to get better on the court as well. Christon made just 25 percent of his 28 three-point shots and connected on only 67 percent of his free throws. While he averaged nearly five assists per game, he turned the ball over almost four times per game.

Xavier’s success in the inaugural season of the “new” Big East starts and ends with Christon.

If he can make strides upon the promising foundation he laid in his freshman year, he could become one of the premier point guards in the country and even be in the discussion for Big East Player of the Year.

4. The Fab 5

Xavier coach Chris Mack put together an impressive five-man freshman class for next season that has flown under the radar.

Myles Davis and Jalen Reynolds were both given a grade of 92 by ESPN.

Davis and Reynolds were supposed to play last season for the Musketeers, but the NCAA denied the eligibility of both players, according to former CBS Sports college basketball writer Jeff Goodman. Goodman wrote that both players paid for their first year of school at Xavier University and could not practice with the team.

Reynolds is a 6’9″ forward who was originally a 2011 commit before he attended prep school at Brewster Academy in New Jersey for one year. He will be two years older than most freshmen.

Davis is a 6’2″ guard from Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass.

In addition, Xavier will have Brandon Randolph, a point guard out of Inglewood, Calif. who is ranked No. 86 on ESPN’s 2013 Top 100 players list.

Kamall Richards is the fourth member of Xavier’s freshman class. The 6’6″ small forward is a 3-star recruit, according to Rivals.com.

The Musketeers’ most recent commitment was from Aleksandar Vezenkov, a 6’8″ Bulgarian forward who has experience playing on the Bulgarian junior national team and the Greek professional team Aris, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer‘s Shannon Russell.

With half of Xavier’s 2012 recruiting class, which was ranked 14th in the country by ESPN, beginning their college careers next season, in addition to the three 2013 commits, the Musketeers’ freshman class has a bright future.

5. The Impact of Transfer Players

After sitting out last season per NCAA transfer rules, Western Michigan transfer Matt Stainbrook, a junior center, will provide the Musketeers a big body in the middle. At 6’9″ and 275 pounds, Stainbrook averaged more than 11 points and nearly seven rebounds per game as a sophomore for the Broncos.

In two seasons at Western Michigan, Stainbrook registered 10 double-doubles and scored a career-high 32 points against South Dakota State as a sophomore.

The native of Bay Village, Ohio also had the chance to prove himself against some of the country’s top teams. He made seven of his eight shots against No. 19 Illinois in his freshman season in a 16-point effort. In his sophomore year, Stainbrook scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds against No. 5 Duke.

With the loss of Travis Taylor (11.9 points and 9.0 rebounds per game) and Jeff Robinson (6.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game) due to graduation, Stainbrook will have the opportunity to start immediately in Xavier’s frontcourt.

Similarly to Christon, Stainbrook was selected as a team captain by his teammates for the upcoming season, so he has earned his teammates’ respect despite not playing in a Xavier uniform yet in his college career.

On May 17, Xavier added a second transfer, former Indiana guard Remy Abell, to its roster. While the sophomore will have to sit out the 2013-14 season, he will be able to practice with the Musketeers and make his teammates even better.

Abell will bring the experience of practicing with two All-Americans, Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, to Xavier, so he has seen firsthand what it takes to play at the highest level in college basketball.

Pre-selection show bracketology tips

The biggest moment of the college basketball season—Selection Sunday—is almost here. While basketball analysts argue over the No. 1 seeds and bubble teams in the final hour before the bracket is announced, here are a few tips to help you have success in your March Madness predictions.

  • Don’t go all “chalk”—Only once, in 2008, did all four No. 1 seeds make the Final Four. With all of the attention focused on the top teams and their respective regions, it is very tempting to lean towards going chalk—choosing the better seed—but stay strong and resist the temptation. Only 14 No. 1 seeds have made the Final Four in the past decade and there were no top seeds in both 2006 and 2011.
  • Don’t pick Gonzaga to advance past the Sweet Sixteen—The Bulldogs are a staple for the NCAA Tournament after making it every season since 1999 but they only one Elite Eight appearance in that span. While Gonzaga has never been a No. 1 seed, the Zags lost in the Round of 32 as a No. 2 and No. 3 seed in 2004 and 2005. The Bulldogs have proven that they can make the Sweet Sixteen, with five appearances since ’99, they have struggled to make a deep run in March.
  • Expect Georgetown to be upset—In the past three seasons, the Hoyas are 1-3 in the NCAA Tournament and were eliminated by No. 11 North Carolina State, No. 11 VCU and No. 14 Ohio. While Georgetown will likely by a No. 2 seed, they don’t have a good recent track record in March.
  • Pick at least one No. 12 seed to upset a No. 5 seed—No. 12 seeds upset No. 5 seeds in 34 percent of the matchups and at 12 seed has defeated a 5 seed in 11 of the past 12 years. Keep in mind that No. 12 seeds have a winning record in Round of 32.
  • Don’t overthink the 8/9 and 7/10 matchups—The differences between these middle seeds are small. Flip a coin, choose the team with the longer name or simply go with your gut because anything can happen in these first round matchups.

College basketball stock report for week 16

After five consecutive weeks of teams moving up to the No. 1 spot one week and then back down the next as if there was a revolving door for the top spot, Indiana has held on to the No. 1 rank for the past three weeks. Miami (FL) has continued its ascent up in the polls from No. 25, No. 14, No. 8, and No. 3 to No. 2 and 23 first place votes behind the Hoosiers.

The Big East leads all conferences with six ranked teams, followed by the Big Ten with five and Big 12 with three.

With three weeks left of regular season conference play, here is my college basketball stock report:

BUY

Michigan State Spartans-(22-4, 11-2)-Ever since losing by five on the road to No. 7 Indiana, the Spartans have rattled off five wins in a row, including a 23-point drubbing of No. 4 Michigan. Michigan State is tied for first in the Big Ten with the opportunity to have sole possession of first place with a game against No. 1 Indiana tonight in East Lansing, Mich.

Adreian Payne and Michigan State are heating up as March approaches. The Spartans are tied with No. 1 Indiana for first place in the Big Ten entering their game on Tuesday.(Image courtesy of buckey extra.dispatch.com)
Adreian Payne and Michigan State are heating up as March approaches. The Spartans are tied with No. 1 Indiana for first place in the Big Ten entering their game on Tuesday.
(Image courtesy of buckey extra.dispatch.com)

Georgetown Hoyas-(19-4, 9-3)-The Hoyas have taken advantage of Syracuse’s three losses in the Orange’s last six games; Georgetown has won seven straight games, including three against ranked Big East opponents, and is in a three-way tie for first place.

Gonzaga Bulldogs-(25-2, 12-0)-Gonzaga has won 16 of its last 17 games and the Bulldogs’ only loss in the new year was a one-point defeat at the hands of Roosevelt Jones and the Butler Bulldogs on the road. Gonzaga played and defeated the four teams remaining on its schedule by an average of nearly 13 points this season. It would be no surprise if the Bulldogs do not lose until the NCAA Tournament.

SELL

Butler Bulldogs-(21-5, 8-3)-Butler has proven that its best is very good after the Bulldogs defeated No. 1 Indiana in December. However, Butler has lost three of its past eight games. Even though the Bulldogs play in an improved A-10, they have gradually fallen from their top 10 ranking.

Michigan Wolverines-(22-4, 9-4)-There is no doubt that the Wolverines have a roster that has the ability to play in Atlanta for the Final Four but Michigan has slipped up several times lately. The Wolverines lost three of their past five games. All four of Michigan’s losses this season have come on the road and the No. 7 team in the country will have to be able to play away from Ann Arbor, Mich. in order to go deep in the tournament.

Cincinnati Bearcats-(19-7, 7-6)-Cincinnati has been ranked for most of the season but fell out of the top 25 this week after losing three of their past four games and four of seven. All of the Bearcats’ losses have been by ten points or fewer, with four of them being by less than five points, UC has struggled to emerge as one of the best teams in the Big East. Cincinnati is tied for ninth in the conference with games against Connecticut, Notre Dame and Louisville remaining on its schedule. The Bearcats were projected to be a No. 3 seed in ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s projected NCAA Tournament but they are falling quickly.

HOLD

Notre Dame Fighting Irish-(21-6, 9-5)-In the past two weeks, Notre Dame defeated No. 11 Louisville in five overtimes and No. 20 Pittsburgh on the road. However, the Fighting Irish also lost to No. 9 Syracuse by 16 and unranked Providence by 17. Notre Dame has a lot of potential but the team has been too inconsistent.

Marquette Golden Eagles-(18-6, 9-3)-With the exception of a loss at Green Bay in December, Marquette does not have any horrible losses this season. The Golden Eagles were routed by Florida and Louisville, two teams that have been at the top of the polls for most of the season, but they have faired well in their conference schedule. Marquette hasn’t proven that it’s a great team but has exceeded expectations in one of college basketball’s toughest conferences. With four road games and two matchups against ranked opponents remaining on their schedule, the Golden Eagles have a challenging home stretch before the Big East Tournament.

Making cases for Kansas, Michigan and Florida to be ranked No. 1

Last week was a bloodbath for the AP Top 25. No. 1 Duke lost at Miami (FL) by 27. Louisville lost three consecutive games in the Big East to No. 6 Syracuse, Villanova and Georgetown. Minnesota lost four straight games in the Big Ten. With all of the losses by ranked teams, the No. 1 position is up for grabs and three teams have cases to claim the top spot in this week’s updated polls.

Kansas’ case to be ranked No. 1

The Kansas Jayhawks have won 33 straight games at Allen Fieldhouse and are one of the hottest teams in college basketball. (Image courtesy of http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1501647-kansas-basketball-jayhawks-lack-of-offense-isnt-a-big-concern)
The Kansas Jayhawks have won 33 straight games at Allen Fieldhouse and are one of the hottest teams in college basketball. (Image courtesy of http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1501647-kansas-basketball-jayhawks-lack-of-offense-isnt-a-big-concern)

The Jayhawks are 18-1 and their only loss was by three points to then-No. 21 Michigan State in the second game of the season. Since its only blemish on its 18-1 record, Kansas beat No. 7 Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio and topped No. 11 Kansas State on the road. Bill Self’s squad is off to a 6-0 start in the Big 12 and the team has won 33 consecutive games at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas is nearly unbeatable at home and its two victories against ranked opponents were on the road, which proves that the Jayhawks can win anywhere they play. They also beat Ohio State, who gave Michigan its only loss of the season, by eight points.

Michigan’s case to be ranked No. 1

Similarly to Kansas, Michigan only has one loss this season and it was also by three points when the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Wolverines on Jan. 13. Michigan has two wins against ranked opponents. The Wolverines defeated then-No. 18 North Carolina State at home and then-No. 9 Minnesota on the road. The co-leaders of the Big Ten are 19-1 (6-1) and have 15 double-digit wins this season. Michigan’s resume also includes wins over Pittsburgh, Kansas State and Illinois, who are all teams that have been ranked at some point during the season but weren’t when they lost to the Wolverines.

Florida’s case to be ranked No. 1

The Florida Gators are 16-2 (6-0) and tied with Ole Miss for the SEC lead. Their only two losses are a 65-64 loss at Arizona, a competitive game in which Wildcats guard Mark Lyons hit the game-winning jumper with seven seconds left, and a six-point loss to Kansas State. The Gators have rattled off eight straight wins and have dominated their SEC opponents in conference play. The most points that Florida has allowed in an SEC game is 52 and four of the Gators’ opponents have scored in the forties. Florida’s average margin of victory in conference play is over 26 points and earlier this month they defeated then-No. 17 Missouri 83-52. Granted, the SEC lacks proven teams and depth outside of Florida, Ole Miss and Missouri but the Gators are the team to beat down South.

Kansas has the strongest case because they beat the Ohio State Buckeyes, who later handed Michigan its only loss, on the road by eight. Of the three teams, Florida’s case is the weakest because the Gators have two losses and play in arguably the weakest of the power 6 conferences.