College Basketball Nation: Maryland

Behind the box scores: Wednesday's games

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
3:05
AM ET
A scan of the college basketball box scores each night guarantees all kinds of statistical oddities and standout performances. Here are some we found from Wednesday.

Portland 74, Santa Clara 70
Santa Clara committed just one turnover, the fewest by any team in a loss this season. The Broncos committed the lone turnover down two points with seven seconds left in the game. The previous team to commit no more than one turnover in a loss was Fairfield on Feb. 12, 2009 against Marist.

Cincinnati 72, Marquette 61
Cincinnati’s Justin Jackson blocked seven shots in 13 minutes off the Bearcats’ bench. That’s tied for the second-most blocks by a substitute this season, but Jackson did it in the fewest minutes played. The last player to block seven shots in 13 minutes played was Rutgers’ Hamady N’Diaye on Feb. 10, 2007 against Cincinnati.

UNC 88, Maryland 64
UNC’s Tyler Zeller made 20 of 23 free throw attempts in the victory, tying him with Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham and Oklahoma State’s Keiton Page for the most made free throws in a game this season. Zeller broke Tyler Hansbrough’s Smith Center record with the 20 makes, which was also one shy of both UNC’s and the ACC’s all-time record.

Seattle 111, Longwood 74
Seattle’s Sterling Carter scored 28 points in only 16 minutes of action. The last player to score that many points in that few minutes played was North Dakota State’s Ben Woodside on Nov. 18, 2008 (also 28 points in 16 minutes).

Mercer 61, Lipscomb 53
Lipscomb’s Deonte Alexander shot 4-for-22 from the field (18.2 percent) in the loss. That’s the worst shooting performance this season for a player with at least 20 attempts.

Lehigh 70, Colgate 57
Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum recorded seven steals in the win, tied for the third-most takeaways by a player this season.

Behind the box scores: Saturday's games

February, 19, 2012
2/19/12
8:27
AM ET
A scan of the college basketball box scores each night guarantees all kinds of statistical oddities and standout performances. Here are some we found from Saturday:

Note of the Day
Sixteen players had 10 or more assists Saturday, six more players than on any other day this season.

Oklahoma State 90, Texas 78
Oklahoma State’s Keiton Page made all 20 of his free-throw attempts as part of a career-high 40 points. The 20 free throws without a miss match the most by any player since the start of the 1996-97 season. As a team, Oklahoma State made 43 free throws, matching the most by any team this season (Colorado State on Nov. 22).

Northwestern State 100, Campbell 86
Like Page, Northwestern State’s William Mosley attempted 20 free throws on Saturday; unlike Page, Mosley made just five of his 20. No player since the start of the 1996-97 season had missed 15 free throws in a game before Mosley did it in Saturday’s win. There were 93 free throws attempted in this game by both teams combined, most in a game this season.

Montana 94, Hawaii 79
Montana sophomore Kareem Jamar had 21 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the win, the first triple-double of his career. The 21 points match the third-highest total of his career, the 11 rebounds are the second most he’s had in a game, and the 11 assists are four more than his previous career high.

Washington State 72, Arizona State 50
Arizona State finished with 50 points despite scoring only eight points in the first half. They are the second team this season to score fewer than 10 points in the first half and still score at least 50 for the game. Eastern Michigan scored nine in the first half of a 71-50 loss to Virginia Tech on Dec. 22.

Virginia 71, Maryland 44
UVA won by 27 points despite being tied at halftime, matching the largest margin of victory by a team trailing or tied at halftime against a Division I opponent this season. Hawaii trailed South Carolina State by one at the half in a 27-point win on Dec. 29.

Marshall 73, SMU 68
SMU scored 54 points in the second half after scoring 14 in the first half. In their previous game, the Mustangs scored just 28 points.

South Alabama 66, Western Kentucky 61
South Alabama’s Javier Carter had 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks off the bench in the Jaguars’ win. The eight blocks are the most by a bench player this season.

Behind the box scores: Saturday's games

February, 12, 2012
2/12/12
8:34
AM ET
A scan of the college basketball box scores each night guarantees all kinds of statistical oddities and standout performances. Here are some we found from Saturday.

Indiana State 78, Southern Illinois 68
Indiana State made all 12 of its 3-point attempts Saturday, the most 3-pointers without a miss in a single game in NCAA history. The previous record for most 3s without a miss was nine, done by Minnesota against Penn State on Jan. 11, 2009.

Lipscomb 99, Stetson 91 (OT)
Lipscomb scored 25 points in the extra session, one shy of the NCAA Division I record for points in an overtime period. The record of 26 was done by Vermont on Jan. 24, 1998, against Hartford.

Duke 73, Maryland 55
Duke’s Miles Plumlee had 22 rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench, the most rebounds by a bench player since Sean May had 24 against Duke on March 6, 2005 (May did not start that game because it was North Carolina’s Senior Day). Plumlee is the first player this season with at least 20 rebounds in fewer than 30 minutes of playing time.

Michigan State 58, Ohio State 48
Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger had 17 points, 16 rebounds and 10 turnovers in the Buckeyes’ loss Saturday. It’s the first "triple-double" using points, rebounds and turnovers in Division I this season. Jerrell Williams of La Salle had the last one on Jan. 19, 2011, against Duquesne.

Kansas 81, Oklahoma State 66
The Jayhawks’ Jeff Withey had 18 points, 20 rebounds and seven blocks in the win. He’s the first player to reach all three of those levels in the same game since VCU’s Larry Sanders put up the exact same line on March 9, 2009, in the CAA championship game against George Mason.

Texas 75, Kansas State 64
Texas attempted 48 free throws to Kansas State’s 12. That free throw differential of 36 is the largest in a game involving a Big Six team this season and the third-largest overall. Texas’ 48 free throw attempts are the second most by a Big Six team on the season (Washington attempted 59 on Jan. 10 against Seattle).

Texas Tech 65, Oklahoma 47
Oklahoma scored just six points in the paint, the fewest points in the paint in a game by a Big Six team this season.

St. Bonaventure 69, Duquesne 48
Florida Atlantic 86, North Texas 81 (2OT)
St. Bonaventure’s Andrew Nicholson scored 21 points and grabbed 23 rebounds in the Bonnies’ win, and North Texas’ Tony Mitchell scored 22 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in the Mean Green’s double-overtime loss. They became just the sixth and seventh players this season to record a 20-20 game. Nicholson’s 23 rebounds are the second most in a game this season, trailing only UAB's Cameron Moore, who had 24 on Dec. 28.

Seattle 100, Longwood 99 (OT)
Seattle’s Chad Rasmussen was 6-for-17 from the field in the Redhawks’ win, with all of his attempts coming from 3-point range. That is the most 3-pointers attempted in a game without attempting a 2-point field goal.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff 64, Southern 58
Trillion of the Night: Jamar Harris of Arkansas-Pine Bluff played 12 minutes without accumulating a single stat in his team’s 64-58 win over Southern.
In many ways, today is the real start of March Madness, though you could just as easily say that about last week, when the conference tournaments really began. But since we have, count 'em, eight conference championships on the line tonight, and since this week marks the beginning of all the power conference tournaments, today rather feels like the start of what will be four consecutive awesome weeks of win-or-go-home hoops. Let's go to the tape:

  • Ken Pomeroy breaks down this week's most voluminous, and usually most exciting, conference tournament (who's up for another six-overtime thriller, because I am): the Big East. Can Syracuse rebound from its loss to the Cardinals? It might not matter, as Louisville is safely in the opposite side of the bracket. Meanwhile, West Virginia will look to upset the established order, and Villanova will try to overcome its defensive issues -- which actually didn't show up in its overtime loss to the Mountaineers Saturday -- and re-boost its once lofty projected tournament seed in the process.
  • ESPN Insider's LaRue Cook breaks down the historic chances of mid-major at-large bids, finding that conference tournament wins can be both a blessing and a curse for mid-majors on the bubble: "A handful of mid-major teams will receive consideration for at-large bids after strong work during the regular season, particularly given the under-performance of some of their major-conference brethren down the stretch. For those mids -- Saint Mary's, Old Dominion, Wichita State and Siena among them -- a conference crown isn't a must. Instead, our data shows that a single conference tournament win may do the trick. One win doesn't seem substantial, but last season four mid-majors received at-large bids and all of them had one conference tournament win on their resume. In fact, 33 mid-majors have earned an at-large bid in the past five NCAA tournaments, and just seven have not had at least one win in their conference tournament."
  • The New York Times' Thayer Evans has a quick rundown of what's at stake in all of the major conference tournaments. In short, a lot.
  • As expected, The Mid Majority is all over the mid-major conference tourney beat.
  • CAA Hoops tries to summarize the insanity in Saturday's quarterfinals round of the CAA tournament and finds words insufficient to do the tournament justice.
  • Searching For Billy Edelin has a handy little Microsoft Paint-drawn visual bubble aid. Who doesn't love Microsoft Paint? Back before the Internet was awesome, Microsoft Paint, Candystand mini-golf and Solitaire were the best ways to waste time in your high school's computer classes.
  • With the regular season finished, John Gasaway drops his final Tuesday Truths of the season. Maryland is still under-seeded according to their efficiency margin despite last week's big win over Duke, Notre Dame has added defense to its conference-leading offensive efficiency, Wisconsin is first -- yes, first -- in the Big Ten, and the order of the top four teams in the Mountain West might surprise you.
  • Casual Hoya hands out a few post-Oscar awards for its win over Lance Stephenson and Cincinnati on Sunday, which was, according to Hoya, "just the kind of medicine" Georgetown needed before the start of postseason play.
  • The Michigan State fans at The Only Colors relish a season-ending win over Michigan. Taking one look at the Spartans' offensive rebounding against the Wolverines is all you need to know; if Michigan State keeps that sort of obsessive second-chancing (not at all a verb, but let's go with it) going in the Big Ten tournament, it could separate itself from Wisconsin, Ohio State and Purdue just in time for the NCAAs.
  • IU coach Tom Crean fired assistant Roshown McLeod, who will not coach in the Big Ten tournament. IU is 1-0 this season without McLeod on the bench; the Hoosiers won their first game post-firing, a nearly blown home win over Northwestern Saturday. So maybe that bodes well for the Big Ten tournament? OK, probably not.
  • Kentucky fans might not like this column from CBS' Gregg Doyel, which parrots John Calipari's own consistent criticisms of the Cats: "Calipari looks tired. He sounds drained. And he looks and sounds this way on a Sunday afternoon when his team has just beaten Florida 74-66 to win the SEC regular-season title by two full games. He looks and sounds this way because he knows the heavy lifting is still to come, and because he has a team that is talented enough to lift as much weight as any team in college basketball -- but a team that is young enough, and dumb enough, to drop the weight on its own foot."
  • Basketball fans of the semi-nerdy persuasion were no doubt aware of MIT's Sloan sports conference, a collection of some of the best basketball-related statistical and business minds in the world. The conference is of primary interest to NBA fans, sure, but there is plenty of interesting stuff that spans into college hoops, too. Kevin Pelton has a recap, and our blog brothers at True Hoop were all over the gathering from start to finish.
As always, follow me on Twitter to send me links and tips.

Saturday's winners and losers

March, 7, 2010
3/07/10
1:57
AM ET
Winners from Saturday

Notre Dame: The Irish gave the selection committee another reason to put them in the dance with yet another road win, this time with Luke Harangody and at Marquette -- a team in the tournament field. The Irish are earning their way into the field.

Duke: The Blue Devils likely earned the fourth No. 1 seed with a hammering of North Carolina on Saturday night. Duke also clinched a share of the ACC regular-season title. The Blue Devils passed the eye test of a team that could get to Indy.

Saint Louis: The Billikens won at Dayton, completing a season sweep of the Flyers and finishing in fourth place in the Atlantic 10. Rick Majerus has done an outstanding job with a club that is void of upperclassmen. The Billikens could be a sleeper to win the A-10 in Atlantic City next week.

Baylor: If you’re looking for a sleeper in the Big 12 tournament, it could be Baylor. The Bears ran away from Texas and looked like a team ready to get busy in the postseason.

Kansas: The Jayhawks may have locked up the No. 1 overall seed after winning at Missouri on Saturday. Kansas got inspired play from its key contributors and once again heads into the conference tournament on a high.

Louisville: The Cardinals had to win two of there games this week and did. Louisville beat Connecticut, then lost at Marquette before beating Syracuse on Saturday. That gave the Cardinals a sweep of Syracuse and a likely bid to the Dance in the final game at Freedom Hall.

Tennessee: The Vols did something Lane Kiffin couldn’t do, taking a 17-0 lead on the road in the SEC. Tennessee lit up Mississippi State and had the look of a team that could be a major factor in an SEC tournament that they'll play in their home state just a few hours away in Nashville.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies didn’t have their second-leading scorer in Dorenzo Hudson, survived a nasty moving screen by Gani Lawal on Malcolm Delaney and gutted out a win over Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The Hokies dismissed any doubt about their candidacy with a win.

Washington: The Huskies kept alive their chances of an at-large berth by winning at Oregon State. That win doesn’t get them in the dance, but a loss would have been crushing.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils are in Joe Lunardi’s bracket and they had to beat UCLA to stay in the field. They did, sweeping the L.A. schools this week. But here’s the deal: ASU and Washington are heading for a showdown in the semifinals of the Pac-10 tourney. Loser is out, winner has a pulse.

Memphis: The Tigers had a great week, winning at UAB and crushing Tulsa at home. The Tigers get the sweep of the Blazers. If you’re looking for a second C-USA team to go along with league champ UTEP, it could be the Tigers. They may get a third shot at UAB in the semifinals.

Maryland: The Terps won at Virginia. Yes, UVA was playing without Sylven Landesberg, who has been suspended for the season due to academics, but the Terps still won a road game. That means Maryland gets a share of the ACC title. That’s an outstanding accomplishment for this squad.

Pitt: The Panthers lost to Indiana early in the year without Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown. Pitt could have lost to Providence at home, but when it mattered most the Panthers have come up huge. They beat Rutgers as expected Saturday but that meant Pitt got the No. 2 seed after beating West Virginia and Villanova at home in February. Jamie Dixon has done a phenomenal job with the Panthers. There is no reason Pitt should be No. 2 in the Big East with what it lost.

Losers from Saturday

Rhode Island: Had a shot to convince the selection committee that it was worthy, but lost at UMass a week after losing at St. Bonaventure. The Rams didn’t beat the top three teams in the A-10 (Xavier, Temple or Richmond). URI must win the conference tournament.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs started a must-win game down 17-0. Mississippi State has blown two chances to win a key home game – to Kentucky and now Tennessee. The Bulldogs didn’t do anything Saturday to convince the selection committee.

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets may still get into the field. But they gave the selection committee a reason to pause after losing at home to Virginia Tech, sans Dorenzo Hudson, who was hurt. The Yellow Jackets finished seventh in the ACC and had only one conference road win.

Connecticut: The Huskies had an awful week, losing at Notre Dame and then losing at South Florida on Saturday. The Huskies now probably have to get to the Big East semifinals to crawl back into the conversation.

Dayton: The Flyers were teetering on the bubble before the Billikens bulldozed the Flyers late and stole a win. Dayton now probably has to win the A-10 tournament to get a bid.

Villanova: The ‘Cats may have played themselves out of a No. 2 seed by losing at home to West Virginia. Villanova also fell to the No. 4 seed in the Big East tournament. ‘Nova can still make a magnificent run, but it made the journey more difficult.

Kansas State: The Wildcats lost their third home game in the Big 12 by falling to lower-level Iowa State (also lost to Kansas and Oklahoma State). The Wildcats blew a No. 2 seed with the home loss Saturday.

LaSalle: The Explorers were supposed to be a sleeper in the A-10. They won’t even make the tournament in Atlantic City. The Explorers will join winless Fordham in sitting out the conference tourney.

Oklahoma: The disaster season came to a conclusion with a sad effort against Texas A&M. The atmosphere was awful and the Sooners sunk.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels were handed the second-worst loss under Roy Williams. The Tar Heels were embarrassed by Duke and limp into the ACC tournament. It was just awful.

UAB: The Blazers had a huge week with games against UTEP and Memphis. They lost them both and pushed themselves onto the wrong side of the bubble.

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane got hammered by Memphis and limp into hosting the conference tournament next week. Tulsa was the preseason favorite to win Conference USA.

A few nuggets:
  • Georgetown coach John Thompson III said late Saturday night that Austin Freeman felt fine after the game, his first since being diagnosed with diabetes. Freeman scored 24 points in the win over Cincinnati. Freeman missed the West Virginia game last Monday. Thompson told me that the Hoyas will continue to monitor Freeman’s blood-sugar level and don’t anticipate any problems going forward this season.
  • Notre Dame got Luke Harangody back for the win at Marquette. Harangody played 11 minutes off the bench. Irish coach Mike Brey told me late Saturday night that Harangody will continue to come off the bench this season. He said ‘Gody told him to use him however he wants to ensure the team wins. Brey said the Irish have become mentally tougher in the past few weeks. The Irish were 4-2 without Harangody, beating Pitt and Connecticut at home and winning at Georgetown.
  • KVAL-TV reported that Oregon coach Ernie Kent has been fired and that he was told on Feb. 22 by Oregon athletic director Mike Bellotti. No one will be surprised if this does occur, but Kent told me in a text late Saturday night that this is the same story he has heard the past four years. Meanwhile, Bellottti sent this statement out late Saturday night after Oregon’s win over Washington State: "Ernie and I have talked, and we will continue to talk through the Pac-10 Tournament."

Maryland proves its worth

March, 4, 2010
3/04/10
10:33
AM ET
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.

Video: Maryland upsets Duke

March, 4, 2010
3/04/10
12:09
AM ET

No. 23 Maryland ties No. 4 Duke for the best record in the ACC with a 79-72 victory.
Tags:

ACC, Duke, Maryland

Maryland 40, Duke 38 at the half

March, 3, 2010
3/03/10
10:18
PM ET
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.
Jacob Pullen & Sherron CollinsIcon SMIJacob Pullen and Sherron Collins figure to play prominent roles in Wednesday night's showdown.
Saddle Up is our daily preview of the hoops your TV wants you to watch. The big nights are coming faster and more furious than at any point during the season -- I've barely recovered from Saturday -- and Wednesday night is no exception. Here's the rundown.

No. 5 Kansas State at No. 2 Kansas, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN360: This one doesn't need much by way of explanation. The in-state rivalry. The Big 12 title implications. The seeding possibilities. The two-point Kansas win at Bramlage on Jan. 30. A freaky Frank Martin. Sherron Collins' senior night. The packed Allen Fieldhouse crowd.

Yeah, It's safe to say this is going to be a big game. A very, very big game.

Martin's team can secure a shot -- an outside shot, but a shot -- at a share of the Big 12 title if it wins tonight, but that's probably less of a concern for K-State than A) Beating its hated, abusive basketball big brother on the brother's own floor in Collins' last home game and B) Making a case for a No. 1 NCAA tournament seed. A win would without question put Martin's team on the selection committee's top line. First, though, the Wildcats have to figure out a way to do what they do best -- get to the free throw line -- while preventing the Jayhawks from doing the same. Kansas State is one of the best teams in the country at getting to the line. This is the sort of offensive attribute (alongside great outside shooting from Jacob Pullen) that gives the Wildcats hope against anyone, including a Kansas defense designed to keep opponents out of the lane. In the first meeting, Kansas won the battle of the freebies. The Wildcats can't let that happen again.

Oh, and as you've probably noticed, no, tonight's game isn't being televised. It stinks, I know. But look at the bright side: You get to test out ESPN360. It's actually pretty awesome, so don't knock it until you try it. And no, I'm not just saying that because I work here. Promise. Though I would totally say that anyway. I'm completely shameless. Which brings me to my next point: If you can't watch the game, come here for our live chat from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. I'll be here, as will a bunch of your favorite college hoops heads, answering questions and live-blogging throughout the evening. Don't miss it.

No. 4 Duke at No. 23 Maryland, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN: Speaking of big games, well, ahem. This qualifies. It would mean as much in College Park even if the Terrapins didn't have so much riding on the game, for there is little hatred in the country -- in college basketball or elsewhere -- quite like the purely distilled brand Maryland fans brew for all things Duke. And anytime Greivis Vasquez gets this sort of spotlight, you can expect sparks to fly. It's going to be rowdy.

There are more than taunts on the line here, though. With a win, Gary Williams' team could pull even with Duke at 12-3 in the ACC with one game each left to play. It won't be easy. After occasional stumbles, most of them on the road, Duke has quietly morphed into the most efficient offense in the country, and the Devils are finally starting to play the sort of defense that anchored them in last year's campaign. After a 1-4 start on the road, Duke has won its last four away from Cameron. Maryland's is no easy task. But the Terps have been underrated all year, though, and tonight is the perfect opportunity to showcase -- to the tournament committee, especially -- just how far perception lags behind reality.

Everywhere else: While you're futzing around with your laptop -- and totally chatting with us, remember! -- Connecticut and Notre Dame will be slugging it out on ESPN for a spot in the NCAA tournament. Neither team is guaranteed a berth, but both teams can nary afford a loss, and both teams would surely benefit from the win. ... Kentucky will face a test at Georgia, where the pesky Bulldogs have taken down Vanderbilt, Florida, Georgia Tech and Illinois this season. ... Indiana travels to No. 6 Purdue, which should be a nice break from the post-Robbie Hummel meat-grinder Purdue is facing these days. ... Memphis and UAB will duel for bubble considerations. ... Oklahoma State at Texas A&M is an interesting battle between two tourney-worthy Big 12 squads. ... A-10 leader Temple will visit a St. Louis team that has streaked into the tourney-sphere in the last half of the season. ... The fading Demon Deacons have another battle on their hands at Florida State tonight. ... and lowly Fordham, the last team in Division I without a conference win to its name, will try to get that first win over Xavier tonight.

Wayward beer truck delays tipoff

February, 27, 2010
2/27/10
5:26
PM ET
No, I'm not making that up.

Maryland-Virginia Tech was slated to begin over an hour ago, at 4 p.m. ET. It's now 5:25 p.m. on the east coast, and the Terps and Hokies are not yet playing basketball. Why not? This is the best part: A Bud Light truck ran into a fire hydrant outside Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va., breaking a water main and delaying the game's scheduled tip time by three hours.

D1scourse's Patrick Stevens has a photo of the, um, disaster. The hydrant clearly caught the worst of the encounter, no doubt thanks to the steel reinforced armor required for transporting beer, our nation's most valuable and cherished resource. OK, OK -- so it's just a minivan. But hey, no beer spilled, no harm, no foul.

In the meantime. Maryland and Virginia Tech will now tip off at 7 p.m. ET. That's a big game for both teams, but especially for Virginia Tech, whose 20-point loss to Boston College Wednesday threw the Hokies' at-large chances back into jeopardy. A win over Maryland would be a nice little tournament boost for a Tech team desperately trying to compensate for one of the worst non-conference schedules in all of Division I.

Look at the bright side: If Tech doesn't win, at least their fans will have some surplus beer in which to drown their sorrows. Think positive, people!

Saddle Up: Life on the bubble

February, 24, 2010
2/24/10
3:40
PM ET
Saddle Up is our daily preview of the hoops your TV wants you to watch. Here's Wednesday night's rundown.

Don't let anyone tell you the college basketball regular season doesn't matter. It does. Wednesday night doesn't boast a single match up between top 25 teams, but it does have at least four games featuring bubble (or barely bubble) teams with a chance to immediately boost their at-large chances. A quick gander:

No. 3 Purdue at Minnesota, 7:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network: Don't look now, but Minnesota has a chance to make the NCAA tournament. I know, I know -- it's a distant chance. But it's a chance. After a 16-point win over Wisconsin on Feb. 18 and a subsequent blowout at Indiana, Tubby Smith's team is at 16-10 and 7-7 in the Big Ten with four games to play. A win tonight would be the Gophers' third in a row, and would give them a much-needed quality win for the résumé. Then, with a win over the No. 3 team in the country in their pocket, the Gophers would have three winnable games -- at Illinois, at Michigan, and at Iowa -- to play. Win out, and that gets Minnesota to 20 wins, an 11-7 conference mark, and serious at-large consideration. Easy, right?

OK, not so much: Purdue is playing its best basketball of the season right now, and the Boilermakers are in the thick of a Big Ten title race with Ohio State and Michigan State. There will be no letdowns. If Minnesota wants to sneak into the tournament, it will be earned.

South Florida at Villanova, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN360: South Florida, much like Minnesota, is nowhere to be found in Joe Lunardi's latest bracket. At 16-10, the Bulls share much the same burden as the Gophers, which is not how the animal kingdom works at all, but that's OK, because we're actually talking about college basketball. Anyway, stay focused: South Florida very much needs a win at Villanova -- not an impossible feat, given Nova's prodigious fouling habit and overall defensive vulnerability -- to stay in the bubble picture. At the very least, fire up your laptop to watch Dominique Jones take on the porous Wildcats. Bubble talk or no, that ought to be a treat.

San Diego State at BYU, 9 p.m. ET, CBS College Sports: San Diego State has had two prior chances to prove itself worthy of an at-large bid. The first was Jan. 23's 71-69 loss to BYU at home. The second was an 88-86 loss at New Mexico. Swap either one of those incredibly close and no doubt disappointing results, and SDSU isn't sitting there wallowing among the first four out. So here you go, Aztecs. Last chance. You get BYU and Jimmer Fredette in Provo with a tournament at-large on the line. You've proven you can play with the best teams in your league. Now you must, thanks to the selection committee's totally unfair and not cool at all focus on "wins," win.

No. 21 Pittsburgh at Notre Dame, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2: You already know the story here: Right now, Notre Dame shares two things with the aforementioned South Florida Bulls: a 6-8 Big East record and a fringe chance of making the NCAA tournament. How to remedy that? The Bulls have the better of the opportunities tonight, but Notre Dame has the more winnable. The only problem? Luke Harangody is expected to sit out again for the Irish, a knee injury that's come at the worst possible time for the perennially bubble-bound team.

Everywhere else: Both of these teams are already in the tournament, so they get shoved all the way down here to the flotsam, but tonight's best game is no doubt Oklahoma State at Texas, where Texas will experience life without Dogus Balbay for the first time ... There's also Texas A&M at Baylor, a match up of two very capable and tourney-ready Big 12 teams ... Dayton didn't fit up top, but it too needs a bubble win over Temple to make a late case for tournament inclusion ... UTEP will try to continue its conference dominance at Southern Miss ... Virginia Tech can't afford to lose to Boston College ... Florida State at North Carolina will be on your television whether you like it or not ... Xavier will go to St. Louis in tonight's other big A-10 match up ... And Clemson will play at Maryland as the Terps try to keep edging toward that elusive bracketology respect.

In defense of the Maryland Terrapins

February, 23, 2010
2/23/10
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We're getting to the point in the college basketball season when statistics mean more and more each week. This has to do with sample size -- most if not all teams have played 25-plus games, many of them against familiar conference foes, and you can garner much more meaningful data from all those possessions than you could in, say, early January. Which is why it might be time for college hoops' sundry bracketologists -- or, failing that, the NCAA tournament selection committee itself -- to take a harder look at Ken Pomeroy and John Gasaway's Maryland-related data and come to grips with the fact that Maryland is much, much better than most people think.

Why the divide? It depends on what you value. If you're an RPI guy, you might see Maryland as still having work to do. The Terps have hovered in the 30s and 40s for most of the season, and their 3-6 record against the RPI top 50 isn't the most impressive. (A likewise RPI-minded fellow could counter that the Terps have had zero losses to sub-100 RPI teams, and only one to a team in that 50-100 range [Cincinnati], but let's not get too bogged down here.)

If you value tempo-free statistics, though -- and plenty of enlightened basketball folk would tell you that tempo-free is a much better way of looking at what a team actually does when they're on the floor than the oft-maligned RPI -- Maryland looks less like a bubble team and more like, oh, I don't know, a four seed? The Terps are No. 12 in Pomeroy's adjusted efficiency rankings. They have the No. 15 offense in the country. They hold opponents to a 42 percent effective field goal percentage, good for fifth in the country. And they outscore ACC opponents by a tenth of a point per trip, an impressive mark even if you want to call the ACC "down." As John Gasaway wrote today:
Pity the two-seed that gets "seven-seed" Maryland: Anyway that's where I'm seeing the Terrapins slotted in the mock brackets right now. Let's see, how do I put this? That's way too low. (Especially in view of the fact that I'm also seeing Wake Forest as a six.) The Terps have outscored the ACC by as much as Purdue has outscored the Big Ten or Syracuse has outscored the Big East. If he's smart the head coach of a two-seed that gets put in Maryland's bracket will utter some R-rated treasures when he sees this pairing.

If you're a big believer in the eye test, you could look at Maryland and see a pair of experienced guards in seniors Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes -- one of whom, Vasquez, can carry his team for long stretches. Don't we love experienced guards in the NCAA tournament? You'd also see an acclaimed coach in Gary Williams, a tough second-fiddle in Landon Milbourne, and a pair of active complements in sophomore guard Sean Mosley and freshman forward Jordan Williams.

You could also, I guess, see the team that was blown out at Duke and lost at home to William & Mary. But you'd be missing something. Namely, that Maryland has been pretty darn good this year. Not great, of course, but better than you think, even in losses. Assuming common sentiment doesn't change before the end of the ACC tournament -- hey, every blog post helps -- it'll be up to the Terps to prove it in March.
  • Bob Huggins was not pleased with the officiating in Monday night's loss to Connecticut, so much so that he earned himself an ejection in the final minute -- one of those "I'm sick of this, I'm getting kicked out, which ref do I insult first" coach's decisions you see from time to time. After the game, though, Huggins was less direct: "You saw it. You're allowed to report on it. I'm not," Huggins said when asked about the effect of 46 fouls and 65 free throws -- 42 of them by UConn -- on the way the game played out. "That's a tremendous advantage."
  • Northern State coach Don Meyer announced Monday that he will retire after the current season is over. Meyer is the NCAA's all-time wins leader in college basketball for all divisions, followed by former Indiana and Texas Tech coach Bob Knight and current Philadelphia University coach Herb Magee. Magee plans to stick around a little while longer; Jameson Fleming at the Bleacher Report picked Magee's brain and found out why.
  • Did BracketBusters work? And just what does "work" mean? The Dagger's Jeff Eisenberg writes: "If the purpose of the Bracket Buster event is to help more mid-major teams play their way into the NCAA tournament, then there's no denying that this year's event was a colossal failure. In addition to Old Dominion and William & Mary, Siena's at large hopes vanished after a blowout loss at Butler and Wichita State's did so as well after falling at Utah State. [...] The solution to this, of course, would be to pit mid-majors against big-name opponents in the BracketBuster event, except few if any teams from the power six conferences would have anything to gain by such a format." Ballin' Is A Habit responds: "The bottom line? No matter who you play, you must win games to make the tournament. Old Dominion, Siena, and Wichita State lost games that would have helped their tournament resume. William & Mary lost a game it should have won. If ODU and Siena had both won, and that win helped the two teams to earn an at-large bid, people would be singing a much different tune about BracketBusters. So until a situation arises in which a team winning their BracketBusters game has a negative effect on their tournament résumé, I think BracketBusters is working just fine."
  • Hokies fans are predictably giddy about their team's late-season rise into the NCAA tournament bracket; here's a roundup of Virginia Tech's newfound bracketology love.
  • Gasaway's Tuesday Truths. More on this later, but Maryland is much, much better than the RPI folks seem to think. Oh, and here's more Gasaway, this time taking on the Purdue homers who insist on claiming this team is "old-fashioned" and "hard-nosed" (which they are, sort of) while completely ignoring what's made the Boilermakers of 2010 so much better than last season's counterparts: the offense!
  • Nebraska is 1-11 in the Big 12 and 13-14 overall, but Nebraska's athletic director isn't putting coach Doc Sadler's head on the chopping block. Rather, he's extending the always-welcome-when-it-seems-sincere vote of confidence, saying Sadler is the "right guy to get this thing done."
  • Michigan State's Kalin Lucas was frustrated Saturday. After losing to Ohio State in East Lansing -- and scoring a mere nine points on 3 of 13 shooting -- Lucas decided to pull a LeBron and blow off the postgame media question-and-answer session. On Sunday, Lucas called head coach Tom Izzo to apologize and tell him he felt bad about "leaving his teammates to explain" the loss. On Monday, Lucas joined Izzo at the coach's weekly news conference, where Lucas apologized to the media for ditching out. All things considered, a pretty classy move.
  • Doug Gottlieb (Insider) says he's heard Jim Calhoun has five-year contract extension from UConn "on his desk" and that Calhoun should sign it, thereby ignoring folks like me who think now's as good a time as any to experience the joys of retirement.
  • SB Nation's Andrew Sharp has some lighthearted fun with Vanderbilt's A.J. Ogilvy, and the many faces of A.J. (Of special note is Ogilvy's hair, which reminds of the kids I used to play club soccer with -- they loved to frost their tips. Like aging 90s country chicks and their relationship to mullets, I have an irrational soft spot for this hairstyle.)
  • Speaking of lighthearted fun, let's hope this budding Kent State sideline reporter -- and heir to the "Boom Goes The Dynamite" guy's legacy of student reporter hilarity -- can laugh at himself in the morning.
  • Barry Alvarez confirms: The Big Ten is indeed looking for another school, and has hired a research firm to look into 15 potential expansion additions. Not on this list? Texas and Notre Dame.

ACC all but vanishes from top 25

February, 23, 2010
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The Atlantic Coast Conference had a pretty special streak going for, oh, three decades or so. That streak? Since 1977, when No. 5 North Carolina was by itself in the poll, the ACC has had at least two teams in the AP top 25 every time the poll was collected.

No more: As of yesterday, Duke is the only 2009-10 ACC team left in the top 25, breaking the conference's 30-year multiple-team streak.

The good news for the ACC is that things aren't quite so bad -- seven different ACC teams have held a poll spot at some point this season, and Virginia Tech and Maryland are just outside the poll in that ever-so-close "others receiving votes" pile. (Va. Tech tallied 76 votes this week while Maryland nabbed 57 votes this week, putting both teams just behind UTEP.) And there is still Duke, sitting pretty at No. 5. It's not as though the ACC is quite in dire Pac-10 poll drought levels yet.

The bad news, however, is that the ACC is demonstrably sliding a bit in recent weeks. Georgia Tech and Wake Forest and Clemson and Florida State and (most obviously) North Carolina aren't sniffing much of the poll anymore. That isn't the worst thing in the world, NCAA tournament-wise, but it's also not the most encouraging sign for conference partisans or, for that matter, for Duke, which would rather appreciate its conference mates putting up a fight as it seeks another signature win and a spot on the tournament's No. 1 line. If that win doesn't come from Maryland or Virginia Tech, it might not come at all.
Scheduling is hard. There's all those dates to work out, and all those travel plans to arrange, and all those stadiums and athletics programs that have to be available. It's a tough gig, and I wouldn't want it. That said, the ACC's schedule-makers deserve the heat they're receiving right now, heat emanating primarily from a very stern-looking fellow in Durham.

See, the ACC has a bit of a scheduling mess on its hands. Several of the conference's teams have already met twice, or not at all, meaning they'll play two games in close proximity late in the year if they haven't already. This is unfair not to any particular team, but it is unfair in general. Hypothetically, let's say you have to play Clemson twice, and you get both of those games out of the way early in the year. Maybe the Tigers hit their stride late. Maybe you luck out. But that means some time will have to play the late-blooming Tigers twice in February, when, remember, the Tigers are really hitting their stride. (This is hypotehtical, but you get the idea.) Spreading these games out would be fairer to everyone, yes?

Mike Krzyzewski certainly thinks so:

The imbalance in teams' schedules puzzles Krzyzewski. Duke played Clemson twice in its first six ACC games and will play Maryland twice in 18 days later on.

Georgia Tech and Florida State had met twice by Jan. 24.

"There are a number of teams in our league that we haven't played yet, but this is our 10th game," Krzyzewski said. "There should be more balance, because teams change positively from January to February. So everybody in the league - and I'm not saying it benefits us or doesn't benefit us - but overall you have more equity involved if you play a team in January and you play a team in February."

Teams can also change negatively from the end of December to the beginning of March -- anyone obligated to play Texas twice would love to play both of those games right this very moment -- but the point still stands. This can't be the only way to do things. Scheduling is tough, but it's not impossible, and our major conferences have been at this for, like, half a century. We can do better.

Well, not we -- the ACC. I have no practical means of solving this problem. My involvement ends after this paragraph. But, um, good luck, conference scheduling dudes! I'm sure you guys will figure something out.

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