- North Carolina
- Ohio State
Posted on: April 19, 2011 9:56 am
Only Terrence Jones and/or Brandon Knight returning to Kentucky will keep North Carolina from being No. 1 in the preseason polls, and even then it'll be debatable. For now, though, I'm operating under the assumption that both will enter and remain in the NBA Draft, which would make my preseason top five look like this:
Posted on: April 18, 2011 9:21 am
Harrison Barnes announced on Monday that he will return to North Carolina for his sophomore season.
"Opportunities, both beneficial and life changing, can seem to make the next phase of my journey an easy decision, but I am a student-athlete at the University of North Carolina," Barnes said. "I'm here to experience college life, grow as a person, receive a quality education, and be part of the greatest basketball family in college sports. ... I look forward to meeting the challenging journey in the NBA, but [right now] I'm focused on being a student-athlete, and my decision is to continue this part of my journey at the University of North Carolina."
Barnes would've been considered for the No. 1 overall pick had he entered the 2011 NBA Draft, but his decision isn't shocking considering he's always seemed different and more well-rounded than most other top-tier prospects. The 6-foot-8 wing averaged 15.7 points last season while leading the Tar Heels to an ACC regular-season title and the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. His return means North Carolina will be the consensus preseason No. 1 team.
"I'm very proud of my son and his decision," Barnes' mother, Shirley Barnes, told CBSSports.com on Monday morning. "Next season should be exciting."
Posted on: April 6, 2011 4:25 pm
Edited on: April 6, 2011 4:44 pm
Tyler Zeller and John Henson have decided to pass on early entry into the NBA Draft and return to North Carolina next season, coach Roy Williams announced Wednesday.
"John and Tyler certainly considered their options, but in the end it came down to how much they enjoyed not only college basketball, but being part of the collegiate experience both on and off the court," Williams said. "I spoke to about 10 NBA teams on their behalf and gave them that information, but their individual decisions are less about the NBA and more about what they wanted to do right now and the experiences they are enjoying."
Williams said Harrison Barnes is still weighing his options.
The freshman wing is a projected top five pick.
"Harrison is not as far along in his decision-making process as were Tyler and John," Williams said. "I am still gathering information on him from NBA teams and hope to provide him with all of that information by the end of next week."
Zeller averaged 15.7 points and 7.2 rebounds last season while Henson averaged 11.7 points and 10.1 rebounds.
They helped North Carolina win the ACC and make the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.
Posted on: March 11, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 12:16 am
NEW YORK -- Kemba Walker dominated at Madison Square Garden again.
Tom Izzo suddenly has a dangerous basketball team again.
And Jimmer went Jimmer in a bigtime way.
Here's Friday's Wrap-up to recap a busy day of college basketball.
Best game: Big East semifinals. Connecticut vs. Syracuse. Did you really think it would end in regulation? "I didn't want it to go six overtimes again," said UConn's Kemba Walker, whose brilliance ensured it would not. The Huskies instead closed this one out in the first OT and advanced to Saturday's title game with a 76-71 victory over the Orange two years after the two schools played that six-overtime classic in this same building. Walker finished with 33 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and six steals, then spent some time chatting outside the media room with President Bill Clinton. Meantime, UConn coach Jim Calhoun used part of his postgame press conference to praise his star and highlight, for the 87th time this week, that one Big East coach didn't vote Walker First Team All-Conference. "He's the Most Valuable Player on any team in the country," Calhoun said. "I'm going to keep saying it."
Other best game: North Carolina was down double-digits to Miami at the half, at which point I openly wondered whether Larry Drew was back to playing point guard for the Tar Heels. Turns out, he was not. And that was never more obvious than when Kendall Marshall, Drew's more-talented mid-season replacement, drove into the lane in the final seconds of a tie game and found Tyler Zeller all alone under the basket for an easy layup at the buzzer that gave North Carolina a 61-59 win in the ACC quarterfinals. It was a play that capped an incredible run that allowed the Tar Heels to overcome a 19-point deficit in the final 10 minutes. It also reminded me of what Zeller told me about Marshall last week. "He does a lot of things that make our jobs easy," Zeller said. "He can pass you the ball and you just have to lay it up." As Miami now knows, that's exactly right.
Yet another best game: Virginia Tech probably secured an NCAA tournament bid with a 52-51 win over Florida State in the ACC quarterfinals, but the Hokies couldn't celebrate until Derwin Kitchen's shot at the buzzer that initially seemed to give FSU the win was waved off. The officials huddled around a monitor and correctly concluded that the ball was still in Kitchen's hands when time expired, but just barely. It was a wild scene in Greensboro. Seth Greenberg cried and everything.
Team whose dream remained alive: Whether Alabama can get an at-large bid remains debatable because the Crimson Tide have seven losses outside of the top 50, but their 65-59 overtime win against Georgia in the SEC quarters definitely enhanced their case. The Crimson Tide now have four top-50 wins to help offset those troubling losses, and they're at no risk of taking another "bad" loss before Selection Sunday (provided they meet Kentucky in the semifinals). As for Georgia, man, who knows? The Bulldogs have a better body of work than Alabama despite two losses to Alabama. But a bubble team blowing a double-digit second-half lead to a fellow bubble team is never a good final impression to leave with the Selection Committee.
Team whose dream was crushed: Jerry Palm projected Tulsa as the winner of C-USA's automatic bid after UAB lost Thursday, which means Tulsa entered Friday in the Field of 68 here at CBSSports.com. I'll be honest, it just looked weird. But that projection will change as soon as my colleague updates his projections because UTEP beat Tulsa 66-54 in the C-USA quarterfinals and eliminated the Golden Hurricane from NCAA tournament contention. Hey, it was fun while it lasted.
Performance I hope you witnessed: Walker's 33 at MSG was the biggest story of the night ... right up until Jimmer Fredette dropped 33 on New Mexico in the first half and finished with a career-high 52 in BYU's 87-76 win in the Mountain West semifinals. The CBSSports.com National Player of the Year was -- ready for this? -- 22-of-37 from the field, and only one of his points came on a free throw. If the members of the Selection Committee want to do the nation a favor, they'll put BYU and UConn in the same region and give us a possible Jimmer vs. Kemba matchup two weekends from now.
Performance I hope you missed: Wisconsin and Penn State did nothing to help the Big Ten's reputation as a slow and boring basketball league. In fact, they might've cemented the reputation by playing a game in which the winning team scored 36 points and the losing team scored 33. Penn State was the winning team, if you care.
Five things worth noting
1. Nolan Smith suffered a toe injury in the second half of Duke's 87-71 win over Maryland in the ACC quarterfinals and did not return. Mike Krzyzewski said afterward that he wasn't sure if Smith would be back before the end of the ACC tournament but stressed the most important thing is making sure the ACC Player of the Year is available for the NCAA tournament, which will begin for Duke, presumably, next Friday in Charlotte.
2. Memphis finally looked like a team with a roster built to overwhelm C-USA opponents during a 76-56 win over East Carolina in part because Joe Jackson finally looked like somebody worthy of the nickname "King of Memphis." The McDonald's All-American has gone from a local high school legend to a freshman starter for the Tigers to a part-time reserve in less than a year, and it's been tough on him. But Jackson was tremendous against ECU while scoring a career-high 24 points. He made 8-of-12 field goal attempts, 3-of-3 3-point attempts and 5-of-5 free throw attempts, and now the Tigers are just a win over UTEP away from earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
3. Southern California played its Pac-10 semifinal against Arizona without head coach Kevin O'Neill, who was suspended by his athletic director after a Thursday night incident with an Arizona booster. Assistant Bob Cantu coached the Trojans in O'Neill's absence. They lost 67-62 and are almost certainly headed to the NIT.
4. Ohio State entered this week in position to get a No. 1 seed regardless, but that doesn't mean the Buckeyes wanted or needed to lose their Big Ten tournament opener to Northwestern (if only because there's nothing cool about losing a Big Ten tournament opener to Northwestern). Thanks to Jared Sullinger they avoided the upset. The CBSSports.com National Freshman of the Year finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds in OSU's 67-61 overtime win. Worth noting is that Sullinger shot 18 free throws, i.e., just as many as Northwestern's entire team.
5. If you're surprised Tom Izzo has Michigan State operating at a high level then you haven't been paying attention for the past decade. Somehow, someway, this is what Izzo does. Regardless of whether the Spartans are great, good, average or terrible from November to March, by St. Patrick's Day each year Izzo gets them straight. So of course Michigan State will play in the Big Ten semifinals thanks to a 74-56 win over Purdue that took the Spartans off the bubble. They're now guaranteed to make the NCAA tournament. They'll probably make the Sweet 16, just because.
Final thought: Providence fired Keno Davis Friday and folks immediately started trying to explain why this didn't work. Among the common theories was because the Big East school hired him "with just one year of head coaching experience," which is both wrong and silly. Understand this: Davis didn't fail at Providence because he lacked significant prior experience. He failed at Providence because the school decided to hire the country's hottest young coach in April 2008 with little regard to how he fit with the Friars program. Davis was a bad fit -- and I hope Providence realizes that before it lures its next coach. Hire somebody with experience if you want; I'm not saying that's the wrong route. All I'm saying is that projected greatness and fit are way more important than past experience, and you can look elsewhere in the Big East to see it. Pittsburgh hired Jamie Dixon with zero years of head coaching experience while Marquette hired Buzz Williams with one. Things seems to be going well for those two programs, don't they?
Bottom line, what somebody has done at another school is important, sure.
But it's not nearly as important as what you think somebody can do at your school going forward.
Posted on: March 7, 2011 7:54 pm
Whitelaw Reid was the only voter who put Duke No. 1 last week. I ignored it because I'm kind. But now Whitelaw's done gone and went straight Whitelaw on us again, and I can't ignore him a second time. So welcome back to the Poll Attacks, Mr. Reid. It really has been too long.
(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com.)
Associated Press poll: Let's make this simple and just compare two resumes blindly.
----- Team A -----
Overall record: 24-6
Record against the Top 50: 6-4
Record against the Top 100: 14-5
Wins over teams ranked in the latest AP poll: 2
----- Team B -----
Overall record: 25-6
Record against the Top 50: 2-4
Record against the Top 100: 8-5
Wins over teams ranked in the latest AP poll: 0
Team A is clearly more accomplished, right? Team A has a better RPI, a better record against the top 50, a better record against the top 100 and two wins over schools ranked in the latest AP poll compared to Team B's zero wins over schools ranked in the latest AP poll. Team A is North Carolina. Team B is Arizona. And their resumes aren't even close, which is why the Tar Heels are ranked sixth and the Wildcats are ranked 16th this week.
Guess who has that damn-near backwards?
Yep, Poll Attacks veteran Whitelaw Reid from The Daily Progress.
He's got Arizona ranked No. 9 and North Carolina ranked No. 15 on his ballot.
I can't make sense of it.
I bet he can't either.
Coaches poll: I doubted and discounted Cincinnati much of this season and applauded those who were with me. But at some point it's impossible to ignore the Bearcats' resume, and we reached that point over the past week when Cincinnati won at Marquette and then beat Georgetown. Yes, the win over Georgetown is a win over the Hoyas sans Chris Wright. But it's still a win that pushed the Bearcats to 24-7 and allowed them to finish sixth in a Big East conference that has seven members ranked in the latest coaches poll.
Cincinnati isn't one of the seven.
Which is crazy considering the Bearcats have five top-25 RPI wins and zero losses outside of the top 35 of the RPI. Not to pick on Utah State, but the Aggies have zero top-25 RPI wins and a loss to Idaho (129th in the RPI), and they're ranked 17th in the coaches poll that doesn't rank UC at all. Again, that's crazy. And you'll see just how crazy next Sunday when the Bearcats get a better seed than Utah State in the NCAA tournament despite being ranked much lower in the coaches poll.
Posted on: March 5, 2011 11:10 am
Edited on: March 5, 2011 11:19 am
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina is a 1-point favorite over Duke tonight, according to Sportsbook.com. That means the Tar Heels are favored to be outright ACC champions, and who could've predicted this in early December?
When we woke up 13 Saturdays ago, Kyrie Irving was healthy, Duke was undefeated and North Carolina had played seven games and lost three of them -- to Minnesota, Vanderbilt and Illinois. So the two rivals were headed in different directions, it seemed. But on the same day (Dec. 4) the Tar Heels recorded their first notable victory (a 75-73 win over Kentucky), Irving suffered a toe injury that's sidelined him ever since.
The Blue Devils have been good subsequently.
But they've never been the same.
Meantime, UNC eventually benched Larry Drew II and inserted Kendall Marshall into the starting lineup, and the Tar Heels got better when Drew quit, which will forever serve as his Carolina legacy. Either way, the result is this: the team (Duke) ranked No. 1 on Dec. 4 is currently tied atop the ACC standings with a team (North Carolina) unranked on Dec. 4, and that unranked team is now a home favorite in tonight's regular-season finale here at the Dean Smith Center.
It's quite the turn of events, clearly.
Tipoff is at 8 ET.
Posted on: March 2, 2011 10:30 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 10:39 pm
It was more than four months ago when I named Harrison Barnes the preseason National Player of the Year.
I was wrong.
And no matter how this season ends, I'll still be wrong because the National Player of the Year will be Jimmer Fredette. Or Jared Sullinger. Or Nolan Smith. Could be any of those three ... or even JaJuan Johnson, I guess. But it won't be Harrison Barnes, and I came to terms with that a while ago.
But I hope you now at least see why I did it.
Surely, you now see why I did it.
Barnes buried a 3-pointer in the final seconds Wednesday to give No. 13 North Carolina a 72-70 win over Florida State. It was the latest nice moment for a freshman who's had a bunch recently, another big shot for a kid who is finishing as strong as he started slow. Barnes is averaging 17.9 points and 6.4 rebounds during UNC's past 10 games. Wednesday's clutch shot ensured the Tar Heels will have an opportunity to play for an outright ACC championship against Duke on Saturday. But what I found more impressive than the shot was the idea that led to the shot.
It was a straight isolation play at the top of the key.
You know how a coach will give the ball to Kobe Bryant or LeBron James late and just tell him to go make a play and win the game? That's basically what Roy Williams did with Barnes. Williams got Barnes the ball at the top and asked him to win the game, and he did. It was the latest bit of evidence that suggests Williams trusts Barnes immensely, and an undeniable sign that Barnes is blossoming into everything he was supposed to be.
Granted, he still won't be National Player of the Year.
But Most Outstanding Player of next week's ACC tournament suddenly seems like a reasonable goal.
Posted on: February 27, 2011 4:55 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2011 5:50 pm
... here's how my top four lines would look:
No. 1 seeds: Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh, BYU
No. 2 seeds: Notre Dame, Duke, Purdue, Texas
No. 3 seeds: San Diego State, Wisconsin, Louisville, Syracuse
No. 4 seeds: St. John's, Connecticut, North Carolina, Florida