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Monday, February 18, 2013
Roundball Chatter for Feb. 18

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

" I love the way Florida plays as a team, passing the ball and playing unselfishly. Billy Donovan's team has the potential to make a deep run come tournament time.

" I told people to watch out for Michigan State. Tom Izzo always has his kids playing well as the season progresses. The Spartans really sent a message by blowing out Michigan. I believe the Wolverines were worn out by the most rugged four-game stretch of the season -- at Indiana, Ohio State, at Wisconsin and at Michigan State. I do not want to take anything away from Michigan State.

" Congratulations to Louisville coach Rick Pitino, as well as former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian and ex-Houston coach Guy Lewis on making it as finalists for Hall of Fame consideration. Among others to advance to the final stages of the process include Tim Hardaway, Gary Payton, Mitch Richmond, Bernard King, Spencer Haywood and North Carolina women's hoops coach Sylvia Hatchell.

" With Miami's nailbiter win over Clemson, there are only a few schools that remain unbeaten in league play as of this writing: Miami in the ACC, Memphis in Conference USA, Akron in the MAC, Norfolk State in the MEAC, Gonzaga in the WCC and Louisiana Tech in the WAC.

" Jim Crews has done a super job at Saint Louis. The Billikens started the season 3-3 and have gone 16-2 since. Now comes a tough stretch for the A-10 contender: VCU, at Butler, St. Joe's.

" How tough is the Mountain West? UNLV and San Diego State, both expected to contend for the league title, are both 6-5 in conference play. New Mexico and Colorado State have emerged atop the conference standings so far.

" Oklahoma suffered a major blow when starting guard Buddy Hield suffered a fracture in his foot during the Sooners win over TCU. Hield fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot; he was averaging 8.6 points and 4.5 rebounds for the Sooners.

" Another team hurt by the injury bug was Memphis. Junior guard Antonio Barton has a hairline fracture in his right foot, which will keep him out for four to six weeks. He was averaging over six points per game, and his absence will hurt the team's chemistry and rotation.

" A pair of Big East teams lost players for the rest of the campaign. Rutgers lost top scorer Eli Carter to a fractured fibula. Seton Hall's Brandon Mobley is done with a shoulder injury.

" I was thrilled to see that Maryland will be honoring the lefthander, Lefty Driesell, in April. It is well deserved a overdue. Driesell meant so much to the Terp program, calling it the UCLA of the East.