Posts Tagged ‘college basketball’

Duke beats Kentucky on a splendid night of Dome hoops

Seth Curry beats Julius Mays to the basket in Game 2. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

Duke's Seth Curry beats Julius Mays to the basket in Game 2. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

Nine days before Thanksgiving, there were four on the Georgia Dome floor. Come April 6 there will be four on this same floor, and if the past is a guide, some of these contestants will be included in that Final Four.

The Champions Classic, which alit here Tuesday night, is in Year 2 of its rotation. (Last year it was New York; next year it’s Chicago.) The teams that played in the final game of the 2011 Champions Classic in Madison Square Garden – Kentucky and Kansas – also graced the 2012 NCAA final in the Superdome. That’s known as a leading indicator.

The same foursome from last season’s Champions Classic was in place again, albeit in a different configuration. Kansas got Michigan State this time. Kentucky played Duke, and Kentucky and Duke, as you may have heard, have an NCAA tournament history.

From Rupp’s Runts outgunning Vic Bubas’ team in the 1966 Final Four to Jack …

Continue reading Duke beats Kentucky on a splendid night of Dome hoops »

Florida State puts up its Dukes and crashes the ACC final

Yeah, baby! Ian Miller exults. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

The deed done, Ian Miller exults. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Of preparing to play Duke, the Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said this week: “They draw a line in the sand on every possession. You have to understand that before you can even think about winning the game.”

There may be better teams in college basketball, but in terms of will there’s only one Duke. And yet …

The strangest thing happened in Saturday’s ACC semifinal. There were two Dukes on the floor.

Said Mike Krzyzewski, at worst the second-best coach in the history of the sport: “This was not an X-and-O game; this was an effort game. If you lose, you want the kind of effort I had from my team. This was a winning effort.”

Yet Duke lost, which hadn’t happened in the ACC tournament since March 15, 2007, and has happened in this event only five times since 1998. Duke lost because it ran across an opponent that was a tad more gifted and every bit as tough.

Florida State, ostensibly a football school, is changing …

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A Tar Heel scare: Henson hurt in a game that doesn’t matter

North Carolina's John Henson, picture here pre-collision. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

North Carolina's John Henson, picture here pre-collision. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Not six minutes into the tournament Roy Williams hates, Ol’ Roy nearly was given a reason to consider forfeiting all future ACC tournament games from here to eternity. Not six minutes into Friday’s quarterfinal, North Carolina saw its best defender go the hoop, get bumped to the floor and rise holding his left wrist.

“It’s his dominant hand,” Williams would say later, “even though he’s right-handed.”

While puzzling over that one, you might also consider the plight, if that’s the word, of college basketball’s Big Boys this particular week. North Carolina, Kentucky, Syracuse and Kansas have separated themselves from the rabble. One of those teams almost certainly will win the NCAA title, and there wouldn’t seem a dime’s worth of difference among the four. Take John Henson out of the Tar Heels’ equation and there’d be a half-dollar’s worth of difference.

Henson is Carolina’s leading rebounder …

Continue reading A Tar Heel scare: Henson hurt in a game that doesn’t matter »

And they said it wouldn’t last: The Bracket Fiasco turns 25!

BradleyTopper

The March of time: When the Fiasco began, I thought I was loco; decades later, we've got this snazzy logo.

Friday update: I’ve just been informed that we have a windfall prize for our local Fiasco winner this year — a $1,000 gift card courtesy of Kroger. So enter the contest and eat hearty!

Twenty-five years ago, Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco began not as a contest with an in-house marketing team and thousands of entrants, not even as the Fiasco at all. The name came not in the inaugural edition but the next year, when Chris Foley of Atlanta wrote on his stamped envelope — in those olden days the internet was just a gleam in Al Gore’s eye — “NCAA Fiasco ‘89.” Knowing a good word when I see one, I exercised eminent domain and borrowed it.

Twenty-five years after I first challenged readers to pick the Final Four, the Fiasco is with us still. The first run produced 295 entries, not one of whom tabbed the correct Final Four. The 2011 edition yielded 5,763 entries, not one of whom …

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A conference tournament run for Tech? No. For UGA? Maybe

Georgia wrong-footed Tennessee once already. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Georgia has wrong-footed Tennessee once already this season. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Hoops Hysterics

1. Does Georgia Tech have a chance to make a run in the ACC tournament? A run, no. Tech hasn’t won consecutive games since before Christmas. It might, however, upset Miami on Thursday night. The Jackets lost to the Hurricanes at Philips Arena by 15 points in January, but Tech has steadied a bit over the season’s final fortnight. (Heck, it actually won twice at Philips, where it had been 1-7.) That said, Miami needs to win a couple of games this week to play itself into the NCAA field, so the Hurricanes won’t take their Round 1 opponent lightly.

2. Does Georgia have a chance to make a run in the SEC tournament? Oddly enough, yes. The Bulldogs open with a desperate opponent in Mississippi State, but Georgia beat the maroon Bulldogs in Starkville last month. Then UGA would play Vanderbilt, which traditionally bombs in this event, and the winner of that game could face …

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Hoops insider: On Georgia State’s chances and UGA’s big win

The sight of Georgia outfighting his Gators galled Billy Donovan greatly. (AP photo)

The sight of Georgia outfighting his Gators galled Billy Donovan greatly. (AP photo)

Hoops Hysterics

1. Does Georgia State have a chance to win the Colonial Athletic Association tournament? A chance, yes. The Panthers should handle Hofstra, seeded 11th, in the opener on Friday. Then would come No. 3 George Mason, as coached by Paul Hewitt, on Saturday. Then, assuming the seeds hold, would come No. 2 VCU on Sunday, and VCU is based in Richmond, which is the site of the event. And then No. 1 seed Drexel could await in Monday’s title tilt. I’d say that potential 3-2-1 parlay is a bit much to ask. I’d say it’s more likely Georgia State will lose in the semifinals. But I’ve been known to be wrong.

2. Georgia beat Florida on Saturday. A major shock? Yes and no. Georgia hasn’t been very good this season, but Florida is good in the way — it doesn’t defend much — that leaves it vulnerable to such upsets. You’ll recall that Tennessee, which doesn’t do anything but defend, swept the …

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For all their success, mid-majors still face an uphill NCAA climb

If you're from the Colonial, you'd better win the Colonial tournament. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

If you're based in the CAA, you'd better win the CAA tournament. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Many of the conference tournaments that matter will have ended before the ACC tips off its annual convocation next week at Philips Arena, and here’s how we distinguish between league tournaments that do and don’t matter: Almost nobody cries real tears after losing a final in one of the big leagues. That’s because teams in the BCS Six already know their in-or-out NCAA fate.

Yes, there are exceptions, Georgia winning the 2008 SEC tournament and heading to the Big Dance being the most glaring. But conference tournaments in the big leagues are, as a rule, window dressing. For proof, we turn again to Georgia. It was believed that the Bulldogs’ Round 2 game against Alabama at the Dome last March was an in-or-out game. Nope. Georgia lost and made the NCAA field as a No. 9 seed. Alabama won and went to the NIT.

Turning to this year: Festivities in the Colonial Athletic Association — that’s …

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Could Savannah State save the Big Dance for Georgia teams?

Could last year's darling be shut out of the 2012 NCAA tournament? (AP photo)

Could last year's darling really be shut out of the 2012 NCAA tournament? Er, yes. (AP photo)

Hoops Hysterics

1. Which upper-tier ACC and SEC teams are in the greatest danger of missing the Big Dance? North Carolina State is tied for fourth in the ACC with Virginia and Miami but has slipped to 60th in ESPN Insider’s Daily RPI and is listed in Joe Lunardi’s latest ESPN Bracketology as the first team out of the NCAA tournament grid. Lunardi has Mississippi State in as a No. 9 seed, but the Bulldogs are 56th in RPI and have lost three in a row. Not helping either case: N.C. State carries a home loss against Georgia Tech, which is 173rd in RPI, and Mississippi State has a home loss against Georgia, which is 115th.

2. Is it possible the highly regarded Colonial Athletic Association — that’s Georgia State’s conference — could wangle only one NCAA bid? Yes. Both Lunardi and Jerry Palm of CBS Sports place only one CAA team in the field, and that constitutes a surprise. Three Colonial …

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Hoops insider: Can Fox and Georgia fashion a fast finish?

For the record, Georgia is unbeaten since Mark Fox got ejected at Tennessee. (AP photo)

For the record, Georgia is unbeaten since Mark Fox got ejected at Tennessee. (AP photo)

Hoops Hysterics

1. Does Georgia have a chance to finish strong? Winning at Mississippi State on Saturday gave the Bulldogs their first victory of substance since they beat Notre Dame in November, and this week offers an opportunity to consolidate gains. They face South Carolina, which is awful, on the road, and then get Vanderbilt at Stegeman Coliseum on Sunday. Win both and it’s possible Mark Fox’s team could finish 7-9 or even 8-8 in SEC play.

2. Which is the nation’s most disappointing team? Aforementioned Vandy has shooters on the perimeter and size underneath and experience everywhere — its contributors are either seniors or juniors, which rarely happens in contemporary college hoops — and still it has lost eight games, five of them at Memorial Gym. Ranked seventh in the preseason ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, Vandy didn’t receive a single vote this week.

3. Which is the nation’s …

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Hoops insider: So which is the bigger dud – Tech or UGA?

"Why aren't we better? You're asking ME?" (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

"So why aren't we better than this? You're asking ME? " (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Hoops Hysterics

1. Georgia is tied for last in the SEC. Georgia Tech is dead last in the ACC. Which team is more disappointing? Georgia, and not just because the Bulldogs managed to lose to Tech in Athens. (The Jackets are 3-9 since.) A team in Year 3 under its coach, as Georgia is, should be much further along than a team in Year 1, as is the case with Tech. If the Bulldogs don’t win a big game or two the second half of the league season, the advances of last season will be canceled out.

2. How many NCAA tournament bids will the ACC command? How many for the SEC? The ACC could get stuck on four — North Carolina, Duke, Florida State and Virginia — if North Carolina State continues to slide and Miami doesn’t make a big push. The SEC has four almost-certains — Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State — but Alabama lost four in a row and, its RPI of 33 notwithstanding, could be overtaken …

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