Tag: Nevada

Devils Love the Fire

 

Bagley Florida
(Jaime Valdez – USA TODAY Sports)

 

This weekend, the Duke Blue Devils won the Motion bracket of the PK80 invitational. What’s interesting is how they won.

Duke was down by at least seven in each of the wins, including being down 17 with 10 minutes remaining in their 87-84 championship win over Florida. It was an impressive show of resilience from a pretty young team.

That young team (more on that below) may now firmly be the favorites for the national title after beating Florida and Michigan St in the first month of the season.

National Player of the Week: Marvin Bagley, III, Duke.

Bagley was dominant in Portland last week as he averaged 27.3 points and 15 rebounds per game to spur Duke to the title. He has shown early on that the hype around him is legit and that he is a legitimate National Player of the Year Candidate.

Stock Up: Washington St. How about the Cougars? Washington State won the Wooden Legacy tournament in Southern California – beating 3 teams that many believe are bubble teams at the very least. This is a huge development for the Pac-12 and that program that hasn’t been the same since Tony Bennett left for Virginia.

Stock Down: Arizona. Wow. If there was any team that the FBI investigation appears its taken its toll on its the Arizona Wildcats. They lost all three game in the Battle of Atlantis and weren’t competitive in the their 89-64 lost to Purdue. It’s an embarrassing performance for a program under the microscope.

Stock Up: Division I basketball in the state of Nevada. Both Nevada and UNLV are undefeated and have looked impressive doing so. The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels  destroyed Utah by 25 on Thanksgiving in a clear sign that head coach Marvin Menzies has it turned it around. Meanwhile Nevada has already beaten Rhode Island and Davidson. It looks like those two could be making the Mountain West at least a two-bid league.

Stock Down: Trying to win a game with three players. It’s almost impossible, but Alabama came close. After a scuffle when it’s reserves left the bench, a foul out and an injury, the Crimson Tide was forced to finish its game against Minnesota with just three players. The crazy thing is that after all that happened, Alabama actually cut into the lead. Still not recommended.

This Week’s Top 25:

1.       Duke

2.       Kansas

3.       Michigan St

4.       Villanova

5.       Miami

6.       Texas A&M

7.       Florida

8.       Minnesota

9.       Notre Dame

10.   Virginia

11.   Wichita St

12.   USC

13.   Gonzaga

14.   Kentucky

15.   Cincinnati

16.   North Carolina

17.   Rhode Island

18.   Seton Hall

19.   Xavier

20.   West Virginia

21.   Louisville

22.   Alabama

23.   Baylor

24.   TCU

25.   Arizona St

 

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Carolina BBQ (Welcome Creighton)

rwillett@newsobserver.com UNC's Tyler Zeller (44) applauds the reserve players after taking a place on the bench with teammate John Henson late in the Tar Heels' game against Clemson. Zeller scored 14 points and Henson had 13 in the Tar Heels' 74-52 victory.

On Saturday night the North Carolina Tarheels showed the world why they were ranked preseason No. 1.  North Carolina went to Duke and thoroughly defeated a team that will be a No. 2 seed at the least.  It was one of the more impressive performances I’ve seen this season and served notice to Syracuse and Kentucky that there’s one more legit contender for the national championship.

The Tarheels have possibly the best frontcourt in the nation with John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes to go along with perhaps the best pure point guard in Kendall Marshall.  This is a scary team to face because they can beat you with so many guys.

Defense and point guard depth is a concern, but good luck to any team that plans on outscoring the Heels.  They have their mojo back and are serious threats to cut down the nets.

MID-AMERICAN: This will be a competitive tournament as usual.  The MAC is one of the best mid-major conferences in the country and the action in Cleveland should be entertaining.  Akron won the regular season championship, but that was only by one game over Buffalo, who swept the season series.  Neither Akron or Buffalo will have to play until the semifinals, but it won’t matter as Ohio will get the automatic bid.

MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC: I’ve never liked how the MEAC stretches its tournament out.  A league that’s constantly fighting to stay out of Dayton should be doing everything it can to make sure it’s best teams have the best chance of winning.  For that reason I don’t trust regular season champion Savannah St to win.  I’m going with the experience of Fang Mitchell’s Coppin St club to go dancing.

SOUTHLAND: Texas-Arlington cruised through league play and lost it’s only conference game in its last game.  It has been consistent all year and appear to be the favorite.  I’m not choosing the Mavericks though.  Ever since Pat Knight ripped his Lamar Cardinals they’ve been playing like a different team.  I expect that to carry over to an automatic bid.

SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC: Mississippi Valley State’s 17-1 conference record is an impressive feat.  The Delta Devils lone loss came on the last game of the regular season and I think it’ll serve as a wake-up call.  The fact that second-place finisher Southern is ineligble for postseason play on solidifies my belief that the Delta Devils will dance.

WESTERN ATHLETIC: I’ve seen the Nevada Wolfpack play multiple times and I’ve come away impressed every time.  They have a gaudy 25 wins and should have the support of plenty of Wolfpack fans in Las Vegas.  New Mexico St and Idaho will be threats, but won’t be good enough.

BIG WEST: The last thing the rest of the Big West needed to happen was to have Long Beach St lose it’s final regular season game.  The 49ers now have the extra motivation of avenging their only regular season conference loss.  I’m convinced that Long Beach St is among the best 35-50 best teams in the country and none of their Big West mates are even close.  Long Beach St will dance.

Today’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Tennessee, Virginia Commonwealth, Northwestern, Colorado St

Last Four Out: South Florida, California, Oregon, NC State

SOUTH

1.Kentucky16.Stony Brook/Savannah St Louisville

8.Saint Louis9.Cincinnati

5.UNLV12.Northwestern/Virginia Commonwealth Portland

4.Gonzaga13.Long Beach St

6.Wichita St11.Southern Mississippi Albuquerque

3.Baylor14.Belmont(ASun)

7.Florida St10.West Virginia Columbus

2.Michigan15.Montana

WEST

1.North Carolina16.Bucknell Greensboro

8.Memphis9.Mississippi St

5.Creighton(MVC)12.BYU Albuquerque

4.Georgetown13.Oral Roberts

6.Notre Dame11.Xavier Columbus

3.Wisconsin14.Denver

7.New Mexico 10.Alabama Omaha

2.Missouri15.UT-Arlington

MIDWEST

1.Kansas16.UNC-Asheville(BSouth)/Mississippi Valley St               Omaha

8.Louisville9.Virginia

5.Temple12.Drexel Nashville

4.Indiana13.Colorado St/Tennessee

6.Florida11.Miami(FL) Louisville

3.Marquette14.Akron

7.Kansas St10.Harvard Pittsburgh

2.Ohio St15.Loyola(MD)

EAST

1.Syracuse16.Long Island Pittsburgh

8.St. Mary’s9.Purdue

5.Murray St(OVC)12.Texas Portland

4.San Diego St13.Nevada

6.Vanderbilt11.Washington Nashville

3.Michigan St14.Davidson

7.Iowa St10.Connecticut Greensboro

2.Duke15.Valparaiso

In Graphical Form