Tag Archives: Kansas Jayhawks

Je’Ney Jackson to leave Indiana for the University of Kansas

Indiana University men’s basketball strength coach Je’Ney Jackson will attend his final Indiana game as a member of the Hoosiers’ staff when the team travels to face Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb. on New Year’s Eve, per a press release from a team spokesman. After the game’s conclusion, he’ll leave the program and join the University of Kansas’ football program as its Director of Strength and Conditioning.

“When you have talented people there is never a good time to see a staff member go, but Je’Ney has a wonderful opportunity in front of him to become a head strength coach for a BCS football program,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said in a statement.  “He will work with two of his best friends in David Beaty and Clint Bowen and will continue his growth as one of the elite strength coaches on the collegiate level.”

By joining Kansas’ football program, Jackson is returning to his roots. He was an All-WAC cornerback at the University of Wyoming and later was a coach at Kansas, as a strength coach from 2005-06 and a cornerbacks coach from 2007-09.

Jackson has been on Indiana’s staff since July 2010. Chris Virtue, who has spent eight years on the strength and conditioning staff at Indiana, will oversee the team’s strength program on an interim basis.

Indiana to play in 2016 Armed Forces Classic in Honolulu

Indiana will play in non-conference events in the United States’ 50th state in each of the next two seasons. The Hoosiers will face Kansas as part of the Armed Forces Classic on Veteran’s Day on November 11, 2016 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu, Hawaii, per an event press release.

Kansas leads the all-time series 7-6. The two teams haven’t faced each other since 1995.

On November 23, 24 and 25, 2015, Indiana will play in the EA Sports Maui Invitational with Kansas, St. John’s, UCLA, UNLV, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.

Indiana Coach Tom Crean said in a statement released by the Armed Forces Classic that Indiana University is honored to take part in the 2016 Armed Forces Classic.

“This is one of the premiere events in college basketball and everyone in our program is thrilled and honored to be a part of this,” he said. “Knowing that we will play on Veterans Day just prior to the 75th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor adds even greater significance and offers us an experience of a lifetime.”

College Basketball: The Five Best Matchups of the ESPN Tip-off Marathon

The start of the college basketball is still a few months away, but schedules and matchup are slowly being released throughout the offseason. Beginning at 11 p.m. on August 11, ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan began releasing the matchups for the annual ESPN Tip-Off Marathon. The Tip-Off Marathon begins at 7 p.m. on November 11 and there will be games broadcasted consecutively on the network for more than 24 hours.

To make the marathon work, games will be played across the country and ESPN is using time zone differences to its full advantage.

The Tip-Off Marathon will feature title contenders (Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State), some of last season’s Cinderella teams (Florida Gulf Coast, La Salle and Wichita State) and every other type of team in between.

While most fans are unlikely to be up at a the crack of dawn to watch Hawaii host New Mexico State, there are a number of intriguing matchups to be played on November 11 and 12.

The headliners are obviously the two Champions Classic games: Kentucky-Michigan State and Duke-Kansas.

Each of the four teams in the Champions Classic will have played each other in the event after this season, which is the third year of the Classic. With four of the best programs in college basketball competing in the Champions Classic, there are destined to be compelling matchups every year.

The Champions Classic website acknowledges that the 2011 games included Mike Krzyzewski breaking Bob Knight’s NCAA Division I men’s basketball all-time wins record as well as a preview of that year’s championship game with the Kentucky-Kansas matchup.

This year’s Champions Classic games will be filled with compelling story lines, highly touted prospects and very good basketball.

Here are the five best games in the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon based on how the teams performed last season, the players returning and the strength of their 2013 recruiting classes.

5. Western Kentucky at Wichita State

The Shockers are coming off the heels of their run to the Final Four last spring, and it’s time for them to try to build off of last season. Wichita State’s best player, senior forward Cleanthony Early, returned to school in hope of another tournament run. However, Wichita State will have to move on without Carl Hall and Malcolm Armstead, who averaged a combined 23 points and 10 rebounds per game last season.

Creighton has moved to the Big East, which means that Wichita State has a chance to assert its dominance in the Missouri Valley. The Shockers’ game against Western Kentucky will be their first time in the national spotlight since April.

The Hilltoppers are no slouches, even though WKU isn’t known for its basketball. In their opening matchup in last year’s NCAA tournament, they were beating Kansas with 18 minutes left in the game and only lost by seven to the Jayhawks.

Western Kentucky’s leading scorers, T.J. Price and George Fant, will be juniors this season. The duo averaged 28 points and 11 rebounds per game last season. WKU lost only two seniors to graduation from last year’s team that went 20-16, which means that the Hilltoppers could be chosen on selection Sunday next spring.

4. North Carolina State at Cincinnati

Both North Carolina State and Cincinnati had early NCAA tournament exits last season. The two schools each lost by four points in their first matchups.

The Wolfpack lost most of its star players to graduation, the NBA or another school via transfer. Sophomore forward T.J. Warren will lead the new-look North Carolina State team along with the nation’s 13th best recruiting class that Mark Gottfried assembled. Five freshmen will join the Wolfpack this season, and three of them (point guard Anthony Barber, center BeeJay Anya and power forward Kyle Washington) are in ESPN’s top 100 players of the 2013 class.

The Cincinnati Bearcats lost three key players–guard Cashmere Wright, center CheikhMbodj and guard JaQuon Parker–to graduation following last season. However, UCbrings back its leading scorer, Sean Kilpatrick, who averaged 17 points per game last season. Senior forwards Titus Rubles and Justin Jackson, as well as junior guard Jeremiah Davis III will have to step up this season for Cincinnati to make it back to the NCAA tournament. The Bearcats have the 24th best 2013 recruiting class, which is led by power forward Jermaine Lawrence.

Cincinnati and North Carolina State lost several starters from last year’s squads. They hope that their top 25 recruiting classes are enough to make it further in the NCAA tournament next year than they did last season.

3. Florida at Wisconsin

The Florida-Wisconsin matchup will be overshadowed because it falls in between the Kentucky-Michigan State and Duke-Kansas games, but it is certainly a treat for college basketball fans. Florida and Wisconsin are two programs that are consistently good.

Florida won the national championship in 2006 and 2007 and the Gators have made the Elite Eight for three consecutive seasons.

Wisconsin has made the NCAA tournament every year since 1999.

Florida will be led by senior center Patric Young, who averaged 10.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season. The Gators also have two of the top 12 2013 recruits, per ESPN. Point guard Kasey Hill and power forward Chris Walker are five-star recruits who made Billy Donovan’s two-player freshmen class the 10th best in the country.

Wisconsin returns its leading scorer, Ben Brust, who averaged more than 11 points and five rebounds per game last season. The Badgers also have sophomore Sam Dekker, who could be ready for a breakout season after averaging more than nine points and three rebounds per game in 2012-13.

The Badgers’ top incoming freshman is power forward Nigel Hayes, who was ranked 83rd overall in the country by ESPN. Wisconsin’s five-player freshman class is ranked 32nd in the country.

These schools played in November last season and Florida won at home by 18. Now it’s Wisconsin’s turn to have home-court advantage and try to pick up a key non-conference win.

2. Duke vs. Kansas

The two incoming freshmen with the most hype will get to square off at this year’s Champions Classic. Jabari Parker and the Duke Blue Devils will challenge Andrew Wiggins and the Kansas Jayhawks.

While Parker and Wiggins will get most of the attention, other highly ranked recruitswill get the chance to make a name for themselves on a national stage.

Kansas also has the top center prospect in Joel Embiid (ranked 6th overall by ESPN), small forward Wayne Selden (ranked 14th overall by ESPN), point guard Conner Frankamp (46th nationally) and shooting guard Brannen Greene (47th nationally).

Duke also signed Matt Jones (36th nationally) and Semi Ojeleye (40th nationally).

The Blue Devils also return starting guards Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon, who both averaged more than 11 points per game last season.

Kansas lost all five starters from last season, but the Jayhawks return Perry Ellis and Naadir Tharpe, who were the team’s best bench players.

Both teams reloaded on talent and they are poised to make deep tournament runs this season.

1. Kentucky vs. Michigan State

After Kentucky’s fourth-place finish in the SEC last season, John Calipari is bringing the best recruiting class in the country for 2013 to Lexington, and it includes six players in the top 25 spots of ESPN’s top 100 players.

The Wildcats also return Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein, who were both ranked in the top 40 players of the 2012 class by ESPN.

UK will likely begin the season as the No. 1 team in the country and the Wildcats are ready to turn the page after their season-ending loss to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT.

Michigan State doesn’t have a single 2013 recruit ranked in the top 100 players by ESPN, but the Spartans are returning four starters from last year’s team that advanced to the Sweet 16. Michigan State will be led by senior point guard Keith Appling, star shooting guard Gary Harris and senior forward Adreian Payne. Tom Izzo has the roster to make his seventh final four at Michigan State.

This may be the best test of the regular season for both teams, and it comes in November rather than in conference play.

Click here to read this article on BleacherReport.com. 

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.

Takeaways and observations from the opening weekend of March Madness

The madness is under way and it is as awesome as ever. Nine lower seeded teams won in the first (technically the second) round. Four more upsets occurred en route to the Sweet Sixteen. Here are some takeaways, observations, facts, and figures about the first three rounds of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament:

  • A No. 12 seed has defeated a No. 5 seed in 11 of the past 12 seasons and in 22 of the past 24 years. 2013 was no exception; in fact, it was even more extreme than normal. Three No. 12 seeds (Oregon, California, and Ole Miss) pulled off an upset against a No. 5 seed (Oklahoma State, UNLV, and Wisconsin).
  • For the first time ever, a No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 seed in the same region lost in the round of 64. New Mexico, Kansas State, and Wisconsin were defeated in the West Region.
  • The Mountain West, which was the toughest conference in the country in the regular season according to RPI, has been completely eliminated from the tournament after a 2-5 showing for its five teams that made the tourney.
  • The Pac-12 may have been under-seeded and is getting hot at the right time. Two Pac-12 teams with No. 12 seeds (California and Oregon) defeated No. 5 seeds and the conference put two teams (Arizona and Oregon) in the Sweet Sixteen. Arizona defeated No. 11 seed Belmont by 17 points and No. 14 seed Harvard by 23. Oregon topped No. 5 seed Oklahoma State by 13 points and No. 4 seed Saint Louis by 17.
  • Teams from the state of Florida are 6-0 and all three (No. 2 seed Miami, No. 3 seed Florida, and No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast) are in the Sweet Sixteen. Florida and Florida Gulf Coast will face each other on Friday.
  • Big Ten Tournament Champion Wisconsin is the only Big Ten team that did not win a game in the tournament. The conference is 10-3 and has a team in the Sweet Sixteen in each region.
  • For the third year in a row, there was a matchup between a No. 12 seed and No. 13 seed in the round of 32. No. 12 seed Ole Miss and No. 13 seed La Salle faced off in the West Region. Last year it was No. 12 South Florida and No. 13 Ohio that matched up in the Midwest Region and two years ago No. 12 seed Richmond and No. 13 seed Morehead State played in the Southwest Region.
  • No. 13 seed La Salle is doing its best to model itself after 2011 Virginia Commonwealth, who was a No. 11 seed. The Rams played in the First Four before making a Final Four run, where they lost to No. 8 seed Butler. The La Salle Explorers finished tied for third in the A-10, then defeated No. 13 seed Boise State, No. 4 seed Kansas State, and No. 12 seed Ole Miss to reach the Sweet Sixteen. They will face No. 9 seed Wichita State on Thursday.
No. 13 seed La Salle will attempt to follow Virginia Commonwealth's footsteps as a First Four team to make the Final Four. (Image courtesy of www.usatoday.com)
No. 13 seed La Salle will attempt to follow Virginia Commonwealth’s footsteps as a First Four team to make the Final Four. (Image courtesy of http://www.usatoday.com)
  • Only two of the four Naismith Award finalists remain in the tournament–Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Michigan’s Trey Burke. Georgetown’s Otto Porter Jr. and Creighton’s Doug McDermott did not make it out of the first weekend.
  • The main color of the past nine NCAA Champions was blue. Eight (Duke, La Salle, Arizona, Marquette, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida, Michigan, and Kansas) of the remaining schools have blue as their main color.

The guidelines to storming the court in college basketball

Fans rushing the court after a victory in college basketball can be the ultimate sports experience for a 20-something college student but also a slap in the face to programs that wish to be taken seriously. In the midst of conference play, there seems to be a few court stormings every week, which leads to the question: How many of those games will go down in the history as one of the biggest wins in program history? Rushing the court should occur after games that kids will ask their grandparents about years later and ones that are significant enough that ESPN plays highlights of the wins over and over again.

Certain victories are signature wins for a program’s history that are deserving of hundreds of screaming fans to rush the court as the final buzzer sounds. However, too many fans are too eager to try to use a run-of-the-mill victory as an excuse to flood the court with students.

Examples of acceptable court stormings are unranked Indiana defeating No. 1 Kentucky 73-72 on Christian Watford’s last second three pointer last season and unranked TCU getting its first Big 12 victory against No. 5 Kansas 62-55 earlier this month. Indiana had won 28 games in the previous three seasons. TCU was 0-8 in the Big 12 and the Horned Frogs have only had two winning seasons since 2001.

Indiana fans stormed the court at Assembly Hall after Christian Watford's game-winning three-pointer gave IU a 73-72 victory over No. 1 Kentucky. (Image courtesy of http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/tag/_/name/tom-crean)
Indiana fans stormed the court at Assembly Hall after Christian Watford’s game-winning three-pointer gave IU a 73-72 victory over No. 1 Kentucky. (Image courtesy of http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/tag/_/name/tom-crean)

Good teams should not have fans that rush the court because winning should be expected. Fans shouldn’t be surprised when their team wins if their team is any good, which might be the biggest mistake fans make when they rush the court.

Here are my guidelines for storming the court in college basketball:

  • The game must be at home for the fans that storm the court
  • If both teams are ranked, the winning team must be ranked at least 15 spots higher
  • An unranked team defeats a team ranked in the top 15
  • A top 5 team loses for the first time of the season
  • There is a game-winning shot against a team who is ranked at least 10 spots lower
  • Ignore all of the rules above after 3 overtimes. The fans have made an emotional and time investment so they are free to do as they wish. However, the winning team cannot be ranked lower than the losing team

Week 15 NCAA men’s basketball power rankings

During Week 15 of last year’s college basketball season, it was evident that the Kentucky Wildcats were the premier team in college basketball and UK’s freshman center Anthony Davis was the best player in the country. The Wildcats had  a 25-1 record, with their only slip up being a 73-72 loss at Indiana early in December that will forever be remembered for the “Wat Shot.” Kentucky lost only one more game, the SEC Championship, the rest of the season and lived up to expectations by winning last year’s NCAA Tournament.

There is no Kentucky this year. In the past six weeks, the No. 1 team has changed five teams. No one has separated from the pack and any team that enters the top five seems to play hot potato with the No. 1 spot by losing. Last week, four of the top five teams–Indiana, Florida, Michigan and Kansas–in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll lost at least once. Kansas dropped consecutive games for the first time since November 21-22, 2005. Every team in the latest AP Poll has at least two losses, the average number of losses per top 25 team is slightly over four and No. 20 Wisconsin has seven.

So what does it all mean?

A) The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee are going to have a difficult time determining the field of the 68 teams that make it to the Big Dance.


B) Once the teams and seeds are finalized, the national championship is truly up for grabs.

Without further adieu, here are my NCAA men’s basketball power rankings for Week 15:

1. Miami Hurricanes (19-3, 10-0)-Miami is the only team in one of the power six conferences to have a perfect conference record. The Hurricanes’ 10-0 record in ACC play has given Miami a two-game cushion over Duke. The Hurricanes have proven that they can run traditional college basketball powerhouses out of the gym as seen by their 27-point win against Duke and 26-point victory over North Carolina.

The Miami Hurricanes are the only team in a power six conference that is undefeated in conference play. (Image courtesy of http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/29/3118194/win-signals-progress-for-miami.html)
The Miami Hurricanes are the only team in a power six conference that is undefeated in conference play. (Image courtesy of http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/29/3118194/win-signals-progress-for-miami.html)

2. Indiana Hoosiers (21-3, 9-2)-Indiana let an 11-point lead with seven minutes remaining against Illinois slip away, which could been a major concern for the Hoosiers if it wasn’t for IU’s bounce back win at No. 10 Ohio State. The 81-68 victory was Indiana’s first road win over a ranked opponent since 2002 and kept the Hoosiers atop the AP Poll.

3. Michigan Wolverines (21-3, 8-3)-If Ben Brust’s half-court prayer didn’t force overtime in Madison, Wisc. and eventually lead to a Badgers victory, Michigan would likely be No. 1 team in the country. The Big Ten’s abundance of tournament-bound teams has taken its toll on the Wolverines, who are tied for third in the conference with Wisconsin.

4. Duke Blue Devils (21-2, 8-2)-The Blue Devils have finally gotten their feet under them after losing senior forward Ryan Kelly to a foot injury. Duke lost two of its first three games without Kelly but have rattled off five straight wins as the team sits in second place in the ACC.

5. Michigan State (20-4, 9-2)-Don’t look now but the Spartans are tied for first in the Big Ten with Indiana. The Spartans still have to play Michigan twice as well as Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin a second time; if Sparty can survive the gauntlet, they have a shot at a No. 1 seed in March.

6. Florida Gators (19-3, 9-1)-The Gators should not be judged too harshly for their 80-69 loss to Arkansas. Every team has off nights and Florida showed that their lone conference loss was a fluke. They returned to their prior form by beating Mississippi State by 25 on Saturday.

7. Gonzaga Bulldogs (23-2, 10-0)-Barring a horrible loss or two, Gonzaga seems destined for a No. 2 seed with an outside chance to be a No. 1 if the teams in front of them don’t finish the regular season on high notes. The Bulldogs are a major question mark because of their weak conference schedule. They aren’t tested on a nightly basis the way that ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12 teams are. Gonzaga played against three ranked opponents and lost two of those matchups, which could hint at an early exit in the tournament.

8. Syracuse Orange (20-3, 8-2)-If Syracuse can settle senior forward James Southerland’s eligibility issue, then the Orange may be the favorite to win the Big East and ‘Cuse could match last year’s Elite Eight appearance.

9. Kansas Jayhawks (20-4, 8-3)-Last week may have been the darkest period in the history of Kansas basketball with three losses. Texas Christian University’s first Big 12 win, an unexpected 62-55 upset of the Jayhawks, was sandwiched by Kansas losses to unranked Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. With four teams within one game of the conference lead, Kansas doesn’t have any more room for error in a wide open Big 12.

10. Arizona Wildcats (20-3, 8-3)-Arizona was one of the hottest teams in the country and arguably the best team out West early in the season with wins against No. 5 Florida, Miami (Fla.) and No. 17 San Diego State during its 14-0 start. However, the Wildcats have started to show their true colors and fade from the spotlight with losses to unranked Oregon, UCLA and California.

Press conference previewing No. 3 Indiana at Purdue

No. 3 Indiana (18-2, 4-1) will travel to Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. to face the Purdue Boilermakers (11-9, 4-3) on Wednesday, January 30 at 8:30 pm ET.

On Tuesday afternoon, IU Associate Head Coach Steve McClain, junior forward Will Sheehey and graduate student guard Jordan Hulls met with members of the media in Assembly Hall’s media room to preview the in-state rivalry.

The two schools have a long history and tradition of being competitive in basketball. Indiana and Purdue first met in 1901. The Boilermakers lead the all-time series 112-87. They have combined for 61 NCAA Tournament appearances, 88 All-Americans and 9 Big Ten Players of the Year.

“There aren’t many rivalries in the country that compare to Indiana-Purdue,” IU Associate Head Coach McClain said. “Maybe Kansas-Kansas State, I don’t know how many of them you can find where it’s truly the biggest game.”

Jordan Hulls, a native of Bloomington, Ind. and a Bloomington South High School graduate, said that everyone is going to be excited to play in the game because of the rivalry between the two Big Ten teams.

“Being from Indiana, once you put on the Indiana jersey that’s all that matters,” he said. “You’re a Hoosier for life when that happens.”

Will Sheehey, who hails from Stuart, Fla., said that he recognizes the significance of the Indiana-Purdue rivalry and he said that the matchup hasn’t changed over the course of his three years in Bloomington, Ind.

“We all know that it’s our biggest rivalry, it’s not a secret,” Sheehey said. “The game is going to be tough and hard fought. It has not changed for me since I’ve gotten here, it’s the same level of intensity every year and every game.”

He said that Purdue likes to be physical similarly to every other Big Ten team so he said that Indiana is viewing the game in West Lafayette, Ind. simply as the next game on its schedule.

Although, the matchup against Purdue will be different from every other game that the Hoosiers play this season because of the familiarity between the two teams.

Indiana freshman point guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell and Purdue freshman point guard Ronnie Johnson competed against one another throughout high school. Ferrell played for Park Tudor and Johnson played for North Central. The opposing starting point guards also faced off in AAU basketball.

Hulls and Purdue forward D.J. Byrd first played basketball together for the Indiana Elite when they were in seventh grade.

“We’re pretty good buddies, we played AAU together for a long time and we talk pretty often,” Hulls said. “It’s fun playing against guys that you know and guys that you’re good friends with. We’re competitors so we’re going to compete and try to beat each other. It’s a pretty cool dynamic out there.”

IU Associate Head Coach McClain said that the childhood rivalries will bring some extra emotion for the players but once the game starts, he said that he’s not sure whether or not relationships formed in high school with opposing players will be much of a factor once the game starts. He said that all of the players from both teams have improved from high school.

“Just like Yogi [Ferrell] has gotten better, Ronnie [Johnson] has gotten better,” McClain said. “Yogi’s got to understand what he’s [Ronnie] gotten better at as I’m sure the Purdue coaches will make sure Ronnie knows what Yogi has gotten better at since his senior year in high school.”

Hulls said that his AAU teammate Byrd has developed as a basketball player since high school.

“He’s being very aggressive,” Hulls said. “He’s always been able to shoot the ball, come off screens and quick release but I think he’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s always played hard, he’s going to make the hustle plays.”

The graduate student and starting guard said that the Hoosiers have to stick together in the crazy environment at Purdue. He said that the upperclassmen need to let the freshmen know that it is going to be a physical game and that they need to come ready to play.

“It’s a rivalry game so you can throw everything out the window,” Hulls said. “You got to bring it no matter who you’re bringing. You have to bring your best game and your defense because it’s going to be pretty hostile up there.”

February 2nd Blog: Chicago, General Admission ticket to No. 3 Indiana v. No. 1 Michigan

For the third time in five weeks, I went to Chicago, Ill. and this time it was with the Indiana University Ernie Pyle Scholars. On Thursday night, we networked with alumni and perspective students at Maggiano’s. We visited the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune on Friday. We ended the trip by seeing “Other Desert Cities” at the Goodman Theatre, which was a play that combined three of the things that I hate the most: people arguing politics, comedians who drop f-bombs in every other sentence because they think it makes them funnier, and people who jelly bean their clothing (a.k.a. wearing a monochromatic color scheme; in this case, all of the actors wore all white clothing for the opening scene). The end of the play marked the start of one of the most exciting days of my college experience: No. 3 Indiana hosting No. 1 Michigan on ESPN at Assembly Hall.

11:04 pm CT We leave the Hampton Inn & Suites hotel and board the charter bus. I pull the classic “put my backpack in the seat next to me and pretend to sleep” move in order to get two seats. It works to perfection and I get  the luxury of spreading out for my two hour nap.

11:35 pm CT We passed a McDonald’s in the middle of the freeway outside of Chicago near a toll booth and the United States’ struggles with obesity suddenly make much more sense.

12:00 am CT The bus sings happy birthday for a girl’s 21st birthday, which only livens the older students in the back of the bus and pushes everyone’s sleep schedules back another half an hour due to the noise.

4:23 am ET I wake up as the bus pulls into Bloomington. The volume level of the bus is only a low murmur and it is safe to say that I am clueless as to where we are. As I see the parking lot in front of Assembly Hall, I realize how insane, but commendable, it is for anyone to wait outside in the snow in the wee hours of the morning for ESPN’s College GameDay.

5:15 am ET After unpacking, it’s time for a quick nap before GameDay as the snow continues to fall.

I arrived in B-town with snow accumulating on the ground, which would make waiting in line for a General Admission seat even more challenging.
I arrived in B-town with snow accumulating on the ground, which would make waiting in line for a General Admission seat even more challenging.

6:00/6:05/6:30/6:41/6:59 am ET I wake up five times to my alarm and go back to bed after each time only to extremely regret it later.

11:03 am ET I wake up, this time for good, to realize that I slept through the start of College GameDay and my heart  shatters into a million pieces. I hop on to my laptop and get on Twitter to catch up on all of the clever signs and the cream and crimson-filled student section that I missed.

11:23 am ET My Twitter session is over and I am still trying to figure out what to do with my life. I decide that to redeem myself, I must get in the general admission line by 3 pm.

2:00 pm ET I order a burrito and a bag of Lays for lunch at the Wright Food Court before stopping in the Wright C-Store for a bag of sour gummy bears and a box of junior mints. Nice to meet you Freshman Fifteen!

2:41 pm ET One of my friends and I make the trek across campus to Assembly Hall to wait in the General Admission, where the daunting “pre-line” has formed. The GA line does not start until 3 pm and IU event security personnel defend the parking lot outside of Assembly Hall from the masses of IU students.

Indiana University students with General Admission tickets line up across the street from Assembly Hall in the "pre-line" before the GA line officially starts at 3 pm.
Indiana University students with General Admission tickets line up across the street from Assembly Hall in the “pre-line” before the GA line officially starts at 3 pm.

2:51 pm ET A group of fifteen to twenty kids manage to sneak past security and they make a mad dash to Assembly Hall behind Cook Hall, which is where the IU men and women’s basketball teams train. The students lining East 17th Street follow suit and it’s literally every man/woman for him/herself. With only three security personnel at the GA line, there are close to no rules. Cutting in line is rampant. Students hop fences and pack together in line like sardines even though the doors won’t open until 7:30 pm. We make it reasonably close to the door yet seem so far away, with nearly five hours to kill and a few hundred students in front of us. When the dust settles, no one has any room to move and one IU fan spends five minutes painting the white snow with his regurgitated breakfast of ramen noodles.

Our spot in line earned us 17th row seats after six and a half hours of waiting. I sat in the same row for the Indiana-Wisconsin game after arriving at Assembly Hall only 45 minutes early.
Our spot in line earned us 17th row seats after six and a half hours of waiting. I sat in the same row for the Indiana-Wisconsin game after arriving at Assembly Hall only 45 minutes early.

3:30 pm ET A sneaky Hoosier fan thinks that he can get away with cutting most of the GA line but with the help of two new, whiskey-loving friends we made in line, Leo and Oliver, we call attention to the cutter and the event staff kick him out of the line.

4:45 pm ET IU event security is severely outnumbered but manages to get the students in the GA line to spread out  after nearly an hour of arguing with students who cling to their spots in line as if it is their most prized possession.

Their is no shelter for fans in the GA line. Event staff tell students that they risk their spot in line by going to the bathroom.
Their is no shelter for fans in the GA line. Event staff tell students that they risk their spot in line by leaving to go to the bathroom.

6:32 pm ET ESPN college basketball analyst and former University of Michigan star basketball player Jalen Rose stops by the GA line to greet Indiana fans. He is met with mixed reactions; some ask for pictures with him and his autograph while others heckle him for his Michigan ties.

7:47 pm ET After hours of not feeling my toes and dealing with fans trying to cut the GA line, I make it inside Assembly Hall with my friends. We have 17th row seats that are close enough to see the expressions on the faces of players in their shoot-around and the hosts of ESPN’s College GameDay as they film their pre-game show.

ESPN's College Gameday is filmed with Indiana and Michigan players warming up in the background.
ESPN’s College GameDay pre-game show is filmed with Indiana and Michigan players warming up in the background.

11:08 pm ET Yogi Ferrell’s late free throws seal the deal for the Hoosiers as they knock off a No. 1 team at home for the second year in a row. Indiana wins 81-73 and will likely be No. 1 in next week’s polls after No. 2 Kansas lost earlier in the day to Oklahoma State. (If you watch the video closely, you can see Victor Oladipo doing a windmill dunk as time expires, which he later apologized for in Indiana’s post-game press conference.)

11:10 pm ET Indiana Coach Tom Crean celebrates with IU fans as photographers surround him in Assembly Hall.

Indiana Coach Tom Crean was not taken by surprise with this year's win over the No. 1 team as he was with last year's last second three-point shot by Christian Watford to defeat No. 1 Kentucky. After the post-game handshakes, he acknowledged the crowd and celebrated the victory with Indiana fans.
Indiana Coach Tom Crean was not taken by surprise with this year’s win over the No. 1 team as he was with last year’s last second three-point shot by Christian Watford to defeat No. 1 Kentucky. After the post-game handshakes, he acknowledged the crowd and celebrated the victory with Indiana fans.

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.