College Basketball Nation: Greivis Vasquez

The numbers you need to know

November, 16, 2011
• Middle Tennessee shot 71.4 percent from the field including 10-of-11 from 3-point range in an 86-66 drubbing of UCLA. The Blue Raiders connected on their first nine from long distance. Both the 71.4 FG pct and 90.9 3-pt FG pct are the highest allowed by UCLA in at least the last 15 seasons. The Bruins are off to their first 0-2 start since 2002-03. With Division II Chaminade on deck, the Bruins should avoid their first 0-3 start since 1940-41.

• After blocking seven shots in Tuesday’s 75-65 win over Kansas, Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis now has 12 blocks through two games. For comparison, consider that Jamaal Magloire, the most prolific shot blocker in school history, had three blocks in his first two games. Davis’ seven blocks are the most against Kansas since Boston College’s Sean Williams had seven in a game in 2006. Shane Battier is the last to have more. It’s also tied for the fifth highest single-game total in school history. Only Sam Bowie, Andre Riddick (twice) and Patrick Patterson had more in a game.

• Last night, Stephen Bardo tweeted that “J'Covan Brown of Texas playing better than any guard in nation right now.” It’s hard to argue otherwise after he torched Rhode Island for a career-high 35 points in the Longhorns’ 100-90 win. It’s the most points by a Longhorn since Kevin Durant in 2007. He’s also the first since Durant to score at least 28 points in back-to-back games. Brown added six assists and six rebounds. He also became the first player from a power six conference school with a 35-5-5 game since Greivis Vasquez in February 2010. The last Big 12 player to do it? Blake Griffin.

• After losing to Division II Ohio Dominican on Saturday, it didn’t seem like things could get worse for Southern Illinois. Tuesday brought the worst shooting performance in school history. The Salukis shot just 20.5 percent from the field in a 61-42 loss to Saint Louis. At halftime, the Salukis were just 4-for-22 (18.2 percent) from the field and didn’t have an assist. Southern Illinois finished with just one assist compared to 14 turnovers.

• Josh Davis had one of the most efficient games of the season in Tulane’s 96-50 win over Nicholls State. The transfer from NC State put up a career-high 23 points to go with 11 rebounds. He was 10-for-11 from the field, the top shooting performance this season among players with at least 10 attempts.

Greivis Vasquez, Duke fan?

May, 19, 2010
I know, right? Hard to believe. But it's the truth according to Joshua Hairston, a Duke recruit and D.C.-area friend of famously bombastic Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez. Speaking to a North Carolina radio station this morning, Hairston spilled the goods on Vasquez's, um, conflicted feelings toward Duke. (You can listen to the interview here.)
"He talks about Duke all the time, how much he loves Coach K, the staff and the program itself. When I first met Greivis the first thing he kept talking about was how much he loved Duke and how much he loved Coach K. I thought he was being sarcastic at first but he's very serious about it," Hairston said. "When they [Maryland] were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament we were running a camp together at Montrose (Hairston's high school for his senior season). A kid asked him who he wanted to win the tournament and he said 'Duke all the way'. He's always been a big Duke fan and he hopes we can pull it off. He is a true Duke fan even though he plays for Maryland."

A "true Duke fan," eh? As any college hoops fan knows, Vasquez was a major Duke antagonist during his four years at Maryland, culminating in Vasquez's onions-y performance in a 79-72 March 3 win that gave Maryland its final signature NCAA tournament win and, as we know now, Duke's final loss of the 2009-10 season. Are we sure this is the same Greivis Vasquez? The one who once called Cameron Indoor Stadium "my house"?

Apparently we are, and apparently there's something to be said for a rivalry's ability to breed respect. Please turn your basketball textbooks to page "Magic and Bird" for further reference.
Phew. Yesterday and today feel a little bit like off days after the madness of the first two rounds of the tournament. In that vein, what better time to take a link-bound look around the college hoopsosphere? We'll be in the midst of too much good basketball in just a day's time; now is our only time to reflect.
Corey LuciousSteve Dykes/US PresswireMichigan State's Korie Lucious (34) lines up his dramatic buzzer beater against Maryland.

SPOKANE, Wash. -- It was one of the great comebacks in NCAA tournament history. And then it wasn't.

Maryland trailed Michigan State by nine points with two minutes left. Then it took the lead -- twice -- in the final 35 seconds.

It was stunning.

Yet the final toss of fairy dust turned out to be green.

Korie Lucious, the Spartans backup point guard, playing at the end only because Kalin Lucas was out with a torn Achilles tendon, ripped a fade-away 3-pointer at the buzzer and Michigan State escaped with an 85-83 victory in the second round of the Midwest Regional.

It was stunning, take 2. As breathless a final two minutes as you'll see.


"It seemed like we were going to win the game and then it was taken away from us," said a stricken Maryland coach Gary Williams.

And euphoria: The Michigan State players piled on Lucious after his game-winner. Even Sparty joined the fray.

"Time was running out," Lucious said. "I just tried to get it up and it went in."

Spartans coach Tom Izzo is now 15-3 in second-round games as his team tries to reach its sixth Final Four in 12 seasons.

The Spartans dominated 38 minutes of the game. They did so with Lucas out the entire second half -- he's likely done for the tournament -- with fellow starting guard Chris Allen only able to play four minutes with a sprained foot and with forward Delvon Roe nursing bum knees.

It was another plot twist in a season that has been all over the place. From high rankings to player suspensions, to critical injuries and inconsistent play to -- now -- a third consecutive Sweet 16.

"Three weeks ago, we wouldn't have won this game," said Draymond Green, who thought he might have shot the game winner when he hit a jumper for an 82-81 lead with 20 seconds left.

But after Green's shot, Maryland raced down the court and Greivis Vasquez, who struggled against the physical defense of Raymar Morgan much of the afternoon, nailed a short jumper with six seconds left that put the Terrapins up 83-82.

Vasquez scored seven of his 26 points over the final 1:27.

"We had the game won for a moment," said Maryland's Eric Hayes, who scored 18 points with seven assists.

Only for a moment. The Spartans controlled the vast majority of the contest because they dominated the boards -- outrebounding Maryland 42-24 -- and their lone remaining starting guard, Durrell Summers was lights out.

Summers, who's been in Izzo's doghouse at various times this year, scored 26 points, hitting 6-of-7 from 3-point range. It's the season scoring high for any Spartan player.

"Durrell, he grew up a lot in the last two weeks," Izzo said.

He and the Spartans appear to be maturing at exactly the right time.

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Michigan State leads Maryland 48-39 at the half, but it may be without floor leader Kalin Lucas, who scored his first basket with 4:27 before the break, but then re-injured his sprained ankle on the ensuing Maryland possession.

Lucas, who had a career-high 25 points in the first-round win, couldn't put any weight on the ankle.

The Spartans came out in a frenzy, and it took a while for Maryland to match the pace, but the Terrapins woke up and it's hard to believe this one won't be still in question in the waning moments, particularly if Lucas can't return.

Some thoughts:

  • Michigan State jumped ahead 22-10 with a dominating early run. The Spartans were 9-of-14 from the field -- Maryland was 3-of-13 -- and outrebounded the Terrapins 10-3. The Spartans had three blocked shots -- zero for the Terps.
  • Lucas wasn't the only star who started slowly. Maryland's Greivis Vasquez didn't score until the 12:42 mark. Freshman Jordan Williams, who posted twin career-highs with 21 points and 17 rebounds in the win over Houston, didn't get his first bucket until the 7:22 mark. Vasquez ended up with nine points at the break and Williams had seven and four rebounds.
  • Michigan State guard Chris Allen, typically a starter, didn't enter the game until the 10:16 mark. Allen injured his foot against New Mexico State. He played just three minutes and didn't score.
  • Maryland is losing the battle on the glass. The Spartans have a 25-11 rebounding advantage.
  • The Spartans have nine turnovers, Maryland has four.
  • Raymar Morgan leads the Spartans with 13 points. Durrell Summers has 12. Eric Hayes, who hit two of the Terps' four 3-pointers, has 10 points and three assists.
  • Midway through the half, a frustrated Vasquez sought out an official and said, "Both sides, both sides. Call it physical on both sides."
SPOKANE, Wash.-- Michigan State's season has been tumultuous, but coach Tom Izzo has spent the past three days telling reporters he likes where his team is at present.

"I'm feeling good about my team right now," he said during a Saturday news conference before his fifth-seeded squad squares off with No. 4 Maryland on Sunday in the second round of the Midwest Regional.

[+] EnlargeKalin Lucas
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesKalin Lucas "tweaked" his ankle while scoring 25 points against New Mexico State in the first round.
So it's all good. Except for the bad stuff, which now includes injuries to two of his starting guards.

Point Kalin Lucas "tweaked" -- Izzo's word -- his ankle during the Spartans first-round win over New Mexico State, a game in which Lucas scored a career-high 25 points. Lucas initially sprained his ankle in early February.

Lucas re-entered the game against New Mexico State and he practiced Saturday. He downplayed the injury, telling reporters he was 100 percent.

Said Izzo, "I wouldn't say he's a 100 percent."

That's certainly not the case with Chris Allen, who was writhing in pain in front of the Spartans' bench when he got hurt against the Aggies.

Allen didn't practice. Izzo said the injury isn't an ankle but a "sprained arch."

"It's what makes you run and jump," he said. "And it's a real difficult injury to tape, unlike a badly sprained ankle."

It's never good to have your two-time All-Big Ten point guard and best 3-point shooter hurt, but the Terrapins love to run and press and feature multi-talented guard Greivis Vasquez, the ACC Player of the Year, whom both Lucas and Allen likely would have guarded at various times.

"If [Allen] doesn't play, that's going to definitely hamper [the game plan] some," Izzo said.

Allen told reporters he's going to play. "It's not hurting as bad as it was and I feel pretty good about it," he said.

At least one person seems to believe Allen: Maryland coach Gary Williams, who said the Terrapins game plan won't be altered by reports. At least not yet.

"One thing I've learned is you don't even think about that until you get out there and start playing," he said. "There's been too many times where guys supposedly have been hurt and all of a sudden they get 20 against you."

Even if Allen and Lucas do play, they'll likely see plenty of pressure from the Terrapins, who like to press. New Mexico State switched to a man-to-man defense and pressed the Spartans in the second half Friday and had some success slowing down a Spartans offense that had been humming along.

"I think that wore us down a little bit," Izzo said.

A caveat Maryland fans: It is possible that Izzo is playing a little opossum. He seemed fairly eager to embrace the underdog role, even though his Spartans played in the Final Four last year.

And there's this: He's 14-3 in second-round games, with all three losses coming vs. No. 1 seeds.

As a skeptical Williams said, "We'll see how it goes."

Halftime: Maryland 39, Houston 37

March, 19, 2010
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Maryland only leads Houston 39-37 at the half after the Cougars Adam Brown hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer right before the break.

Some thoughts.

  • Houston's Aubrey Coleman, the nation's leading score, is doing his thing. He's got 16 points and five rebounds at the half, while ACC Player of the Year Greivis Vasquez is playing more of an all-around game, scoring just four points but adding three rebounds and four assists.
  • Maryland is dominating the boards. It's outrebounded Houston 26-16.
  • Houston is certainly not playing sloppy. It has zero turnovers, compared to five for the Terrapins (which really isn't that many). The Cougars assist-to-turnover ratio, while mathematically impressive, isn't that great in reality in that they have just two assists.
  • Maryland's Jordan Williams already has a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Previewing Friday in Spokane

March, 19, 2010
SPOKANE -- Does Michigan State have another run in it? Can Purdue go far without Robbie Hummel? Does the nation's leading scorer, Houston's Aubrey Coleman, have enough points in him to shock Maryland and ACC Player of the Year Greivis Vasquez? Will Texas A&M slip because of poor free-throw shooting? Does Siena have another Cinderella win in it? Or is Utah State going to break through?

Those are a few of the many questions that will be settled in Spokane on Friday and Sunday.


No. 4 Purdue (27-5) vs. No. 13 Siena (27-6), 2:30 p.m.

Storyline: Purdue looked like a title contender at one point, but the loss of star Robbie Hummel to a torn ACL has most thinking the Boilermakers won't go far. Siena is dangerous because it's done this before: It's posted first-round upsets the past two tournaments.

What to watch Boilermakers: Will E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, who combine for 31 points per game, give Purdue enough scoring, or will someone else step up? The other three starters combine for just over 14 points per game. Watch out of senior Keaton Grant, who scored in double figures in four of the past eight games.

What to watch Saints: Four players average between 13.6 and 16.3 points per game, topped by Alex Franklin. Ryan Rossiter is the force inside (11.1 rebounds per game), while Ronald Moore is the distributor (7.8 assists per game, which leads the nation). On the downside: They don't consistently hit from 3-point range.

They said it: "The only thing we can do to prove anybody wrong is to win basketball games," Purdue guard Chris Kramer said. "There's a quote that says losers make excuses and winners make it happen. So we just got to go out there and make it happen."

No. 5 Texas A&M (23-9) vs. No. 12 Utah State (27-7), 5 p.m.

Storyline: Texas A&M can't shoot the 3 and struggles at the line, which are both Utah State strengths. Both teams play deliberately, which could mean a low-scoring game. Texas A&M might have noticed that a lot of folks are pegging it for an upset. One thing we know: The Aggies are going to win.

What to watch Texas A&M Aggies: Donald Sloan, a first-team All-Big 12 pick, averages 18.2 points per game. No other player averages in double figures, though though three average nine-plus points. The defense led the Big 12 in scoring (65.8 ppg). The Aggies have shot .475 from the field in their past four games. They are 30-0 under coach Mark Turgeon when they shoot at least 50 percent from the field.

What to watch Utah State Aggies: Point guard Jared Quayle is where Utah State's precise offense starts. He averages 12.5 points, 4.2 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game. Nate Bendall and Tai Wesley are smart, capable post presences. Brian Green is the best 3-point shooter on a very good 3-point shooting team (42 percent).

The said it: "They run a ton of sets, obviously, and run them very well," Turgeon said of Utah State's offense."They have counters to counters to counters. And you've got to pick and choose what you show and how much you show. I have a couple of my seniors and I say, 'Is this a lot?' and they say, 'Yeah, this is a lot, coach'."


No. 5 Michigan State (24-8) vs. No. 12 New Mexico State (22-11), 7:20 p.m.

Storyline: Did New Mexico State's leading scorer Jahmar Young tweak Michigan State's two-time first-team All-Big Ten point guard Kalin Lucas this week by replying, "Who?" when asked about Lucas. Absolutely. But Young clearly was making a statement that he -- and, by extension, his teammates -- aren't afraid of the Spartans.

What to watch for the Spartans: Lucas leads four players who average in double figures. Chris Allen, suspended for the Big Ten tournament, is the Spartans best threat from 3-point range. The Spartans aren't big but Raymar Morgan, Delvon Roe sixth man Draymond Green are particularly good at grabbing offensive rebounds.

What to watch for the Aggies: Young and fellow guard Jonathan Gibson combine for 38 points a game, but Wendell McKines, Hamidu Rahman and Troy Gillenwater are physical players who each averages in double-figures. The Aggies like to run-and-gun and try to force turnovers. They are 19-0 this season when they outshoot their opponents.

They said it: "I watched him. He can play. Everyone can play. What am I supposed to do, bow down because of what they say? That's not going to happen, but it's no disrespect to him at all," said Young when told that Lucas has been offended by his comments.

No. 4 Maryland (23-8) vs. No. 13 Houston (19-15), 9:50 p.m.

Storyline: It's ACC Player of the Year Greivis Vasquez (19.5 ppg) vs. the nation's leading scorer, Aubrey Coleman (26.0 ppg). Both teams are hot. The Cougars won four games in four days to win the Conference USA Title. Maryland won nine of 10 to finish the regular season.

What to watch for the Terrapins: The Terrapins averaged 79 points per game, so it's obviously not just Vasquez, but the senior will have the ball in his hands if things are tight late. It's likely Maryland is eager to face a defense that allows foes to hit 46 percent of their shots.

What to watch for the Cougars: The 6-4 Coleman will get his points, but the Cougars upset chances probably require more than a one-man show. Guard Kelvin Lewis, the conference tournament MVP, averages 15.3 points per game and he likely will spend plenty of time guarding Vasquez. He also shoots nearly 40 percent from 3-point range.

They said it: "I'm not going to get caught up in trying to go back and forth with him. He's a great player in the ACC. And we know everybody is going against us because we are Conference USA," Coleman said of his matchup with Vasquez. "We don't have nothing to lose."
There have been plenty of gripes about this year's bracket, and with good reason. I'll get to those in a little bit. For now, here's a quick list of things to love about this NCAA tournament field -- besides, of course, the fact that it's an NCAA tournament field. Man, the tournament is awesome. Anyway, let's do this:

1. Midwest Madness. In so far as one can feel bad for a perennial power with the talent, size and depth of the Kansas Jayhawks, I feel bad for the Kansas Jayhawks. Bill Self's team was the best in the country from the beginning of the season to its end, and though the Jayhawks had the occasional stumble, they always had the feel of last year's North Carolina team -- a team smart enough, experienced enough, and deep enough to win the NCAA tournament with nary a realistic challenger.

On Sunday night, that prediction got a little hazier. To get to the Final Four, the Jayhawks will have to beat some combination of the country's best player (No. 2 seed Ohio State), one of its hottest, most balanced teams (No. 3 seed Georgetown), the co-ACC champions, featuring one the country's toughest guards (No. 4 Maryland), Tom Izzo (No. 5 Michigan State), Bruce Pearl (No. 6 Tennessee), and the lone Big 12 team to beat them, a team with arguably the best shooting guard in the country in James Anderson (No. 7 Oklahoma State). This is an absolutely loaded field, rife with experienced players and tourney-proven coaches, and if I were a Kansas fan I would totally put this in the "hate" category, especially given the comfortable region afforded the third No. 1 seed, Duke. But as a fan of college basketball in general? I can't deny how excited I am to watch this region play out. I still like Kansas to make the Final Four and win it all, but with this region, anything is on the table. Anything. Who wouldn't love that?

2. Sometimes, underseeding works out. Continuing with the "things I could also hate" theme, I give to you No. 5 Temple vs. No. 12 Cornell. Both teams are badly underseeded here, especially Cornell, which nearly beat Kansas at the Phog, which dominated its season from start to finish. It's becoming common to say the Big Red aren't your typical Ivy League team, but it's true; few Ivy League teams have the luxury of a seven-foot center who wouldn't look out of place in any of the country's biggest, most talent-rich conferences. Meanwhile, Temple deserved more from the committee after winning the regular season and tourney titles in a very good Atlantic 10. Temple is a complete, balanced team, one of the best defensive squads in the country. Cornell is as scary a No. 12 seed as there is. It hurts to lose one of these teams in the first round ... but the process of losing either ought to be the best first-round game in the entire field. I'll take it, I guess. (Wait, is that not positive enough? OK, sorry -- I love it! Yay for good first-round games!)

3. Beware the Bears. Expect Baylor to be a trendy Final Four pick. This is with good reason: The Bears enter the tournament with the fifth-highest points per possession efficiency mark in the country. Quite simply, the Bears make their shots, rebound their misses, and don't give enough away on the defensive end to offset that potent attack. LaceDarius Dunn and Ekpe Udoh form one of the best inside-outside tandems in all of college basketball. Coach Scott Drew is a name on the rise. And so on. But the best thing about the Bears in this tournament is their draw: Making it to the Elite Eight theoretically means beating No. 2 seed Villanova, easily the weakest of the No. 2 seeds, a porous defensive team that faded down the stretch in conference play. Nothing about Baylor's half of the South region looks particularly frightening. Drawing Duke as their region's No. 1 is likewise friendly. Duke is a very good team, but it's also a team that's banished its young reserves to the bench and played its starters an incredibly high percentage of minutes the last two months. Before this draw, Baylor was merely a sexy Elite Eight pick. After this draw, the Bears should be thinking Final Four. I am.

4. James Anderson vs. Evan Turner? Yes, please. Q.V. note No. 1.: "Midwest Madness." I've already gone through why the Midwest region is so very awesome, but this might be the best matchup in the entire bracket. (When you have to hedge that statement with something about Greivis Vasquez and Sherron Collins meeting on the other side, you know you have a loaded region.) Turner is without question the country's best player, a versatile point guard who does the majority of scoring -- heck, he does the majority of everything -- for his likewise efficient teammates. Turner is capable of taking over a game anytime he pleases. Same goes for James Anderson, a far less-heralded but nearly as effective scorer of the basketball. Anderson's offensive game used to be a tailored version of Turner's -- lots of drives, lots of curl-screens, lots of kicks to shooters. In 2010, Anderson added the 3-point shot to his repertoire, making him nearly impossible to stop. If both teams win their first round games -- Oklahoma State might have problems with Georgia Tech, mind you -- Anderson and Turner would meet in the second round Saturday in Milwaukee. One will be guarding the other for long stretches of that game, I'd expect. Don't miss it.

5. Fast-paced basketball in Oklahoma City. And no, I'm not talking about the Oklahoma City Thunder. Rather, if seeds hold and No. 7 seed BYU takes down its rather fluffy No. 10 first-round matchup with Florida, the Cougars will not only have won their first NCAA tournament game in ages -- they will have set up a dream matchup with No. 2 seed Kansas State. At 72.9 possessions per game, BYU is the No. 12 team in the country in adjusted pace; Kansas State is No. 31 with 71.1. Both teams feature great guards in Jimmer Fredette and K-State's Denis Clemente/Jacob Pullen duo, and both teams thrive on beating their opponents down the floor and hitting shots in transition. There's no chance this matchup was intentional, but three cheers to the committee here. For sheer entertainment, this second-round game will be hard to top.

Halftime: Georgia Tech 41, Maryland 25

March, 12, 2010
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Halftime thoughts from Georgia Tech 41, Maryland 25.

  • This is a total beatdown. And a stunning beatdown at that. Maryland is going to have to do something remarkable to get back into this game.
  • This has been the upside-down tournament, at least at halftime. Lower seeds have led or tied at intermission in six of the first seven games. The lone exception turned out to be an upset, when Miami went from down two to winning by five earlier today against Virginia Tech.
  • Tech coach Paul Hewitt wasted no time jumping all over his team. Down 4-2, he called a timeout and killed everyone in a gold jersey, screaming in their faces -- particularly big man Gani Lawal. By the 7-minute mark of the first half, when Maryland was calling a timeout down 11, Hewitt was meeting his players on the court with high-fives and congratulations. Give Hewitt an A-plus in motivational work.
  • This was the story of Maryland's half: ACC Player of the Year Greivis Vasquez got a breakaway layup that spun around and halfway down the rim, then curled out. Jordan Williams' tip of Vasquez's miss hung on the front of the rim, then fell off. It was that kind of start for the Terrapins. Vasquez has just four points on 2-for-8 shooting, and one of those was goaltended. Credit Tech's Maurice Miller for dogging Vasquez much of the half.
  • Tech's guards are on fire, shooting much better tonight than they did against North Carolina, hitting 6 of 8 3-pointers. Maryland, meanwhile, is 0-for-6 from 3-point range.
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Cousy Award discovers Evan Turner

March, 5, 2010
When the people who run the Cousy Award named their 11 finalists last month, a press release was issued saying that they would eventually narrow the field to five.

Today, they announced six candidates since, um, Ohio State's Evan Turner, wasn't on the list of 11.

The nation's top point guard will now be selected a group that includes Turner, Sherron Collins, Scottie Reynolds, Jon Scheyer, Greivis Vasquez and John Wall.

Maryland proves its worth

March, 4, 2010
This always had the makings of a fantastic basketball game, and it was, one of those back-and-forth classics you're likely to see on paid subscription sports channels for years to come. Click here for Dana O'Neil's wonderful on-site recap. Only two more things to add:

[+] EnlargeGreivis Vasquez
AP Photo/Nick WassGreivis Vasquez is averaging 25.0 points per game during Maryland's six-game winning streak.
1. The Greivis Vasquez quote in O'Neil's piece -- "I just said, 'Please, God, let that go in,"' Vasquez said, "and I gave a little shimmy" -- might be the best of his career, and that's saying something. (No pun intended.)

2. Maryland might officially be respected. O'Neil calls the Terps the Rodney Dangerfield of college basketball, and for good reason: Gary Williams' team has been doing this since January. Vasquez and company are one of the best offensive teams in the country, and though they're not a perfect team -- you saw how bad they can be on the defensive boards Wednesday night -- their strengths have long outweighed their weaknesses. Now everybody else is seeing it, too. Good for Maryland.

The win, of course, put Maryland in a tie for first in the ACC. If the Terps handle business at Virginia on Saturday, they can guarantee themselves a share of the ACC title, a title that most thought Duke would run away with far before the first week of March. Behold the power of the shimmy!

Another question -- and yes, I'm just as sick of all the No. 1 seed and bubble talk as you are, but it's pretty much par for the course until the tournament is seeded in 10 days -- is how this will affect Duke's bid at a No. 1 seed. Fortunately, Joe Lunardi already has our answer: He moved Kansas State onto the No. 1 line last night, sliding Duke off. I'm not sure Duke's task wasn't almost as difficult as K-State's last night, but the Devils' loss, and the loss of Robbie Hummel for the season, managed to push K-State up a notch in Lunardi's s-curve. So there you have it.

Maryland 40, Duke 38 at the half

March, 3, 2010
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- At the end of a loud and frenetic first half here at the Comcast Center where a celebratory crowd has gone quiet after Duke rallies.

Here are a few observations as we get ready for round two:

  • Duke went zone in the final three minutes after Maryland skewered the Blue Devils with 59 percent shooting early. It worked. The Terps led 40-29 before the zone and failed to score after it. I'd be stunned if Mike Krzyzewski didn't go back to it to start the second.

Getting ready for Duke-Maryland

March, 3, 2010
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Greetings from the empty-for-another-10-minutes Comcast Center. Doors open for this hoop-a-palooza at 7:30 and I've been told to be ready for a student stampede.

Not much on the line here. It's just senior night for Greivis Vasquez. A win gives the Terps at least a share of the ACC regular-season crown and the mano-a-mano battle between Vasquez and Jon Scheyer tonight could determine ACC Player of the year honors. Oh and one veteran Maryland scribe just told me this is easily the most anticipated game on campus in seven years. Yep, just an ordinary evening.

There are a few things worth watching, besides the general mayhem:

  • Brian Zoubek on the boards. A month ago, the Blue Devils smoked the Terps, 77-56 and the 7-1 senior was a big part of the reason. He scored 16 points and even more important, pulled in a yeoman's 17 boards, the difference in the game. Maryland is going to have win the rebounding war, or at least score a tie, to have a chance tonight.
  • Vasquez's emotions. The Venezuelan is fiery on a Sunday in July. Tonight he could actually self combust on the court, what with the senior night festivities. Vasquez needs to play with the emotion he always employs but somehow make sure it doesn't overwhelm him.
  • The pace. Duke allows just 61 points per game and has limited 15 opponents to fewer than 60. Maryland, meantime, is averaging 84 points during its recent five-game win streak (dating back to that pasting by Duke). If Maryland can push the ball, the edge goes to the Terps. If the Devils can slow it down, advantage Duke.