Posted on: February 25, 2012 12:32 am
Edited on: February 25, 2012 1:19 am

Buzz wins at WVU, dances to Country Roads

By Gary Parrish

Marquette coach Buzz Williams suspended three players for the first half, fell behind by 15 points in the second half and yet he still, somehow, figured out a way to escape West Virginia with a 61-60 victory late Friday.

And then he danced.

Right there in the middle of the court.

To "Country Roads."

"I wasn't trying to be disrespectful," Williams told ESPN's Bill Raftery moments later. "I'm very happy and pleased."

As well he should've been because it's not often a coach can teach a lesson and still win a big game, but that's what Williams managed to do at West Virginia. He suspended Darius Johnson-Odom, Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan for the first half -- and Todd Mayo for the second half -- because of a violation of team rules, which left the 10th-ranked Golden Eagles with just six players available for the opening 20 minutes. Predictably, they fell behind by double-digits. But then Jae Crowder (26 points) got going and Johnson-Odom, Blue and Cadougan combined for 23 second-half points to help Marquette erase the deficit and record its school-record 13th Big East victory.

And then Buzz danced.

Right there in the middle of the court.

To "Country Roads."

And it was hilarious ... especially when some West Virginia fans had to be restrained. Things were close to getting wild, which is not something Williams anticipated. He explained his actions afterward by saying he was  just overly excited and dancing in the moment to a song he heard that reminded him of his childhood in Texas. It didn't register with Williams that "Country Roads" is West Virginia's song until the fans were already irate, and Williams told CBSSports.com late Friday that he regretted his celebration and how it came off.

"Emotional response and very unprofessional," Williams texted to CBSSports.com. "I apologized. I was just excited."

Posted on: February 20, 2012 3:12 pm

Marquette proves it has Final Four potential

Jae Crowder's ability to create matchup problems means Marquette will be a difficult opponent come March. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

No more life on the bubble for Marquette.

The Golden Eagles have lived on or around the bubble for each of the last few seasons, needing to either make a late run in the regular season or overcome a late-season collapse to make the Big Dance.

That won’t be the case this season, as Buzz Williams’ club has won 10 of its last 11 games and is likely to finish either second or third in the Big East standings.

Moreover, it’s looking like the Golden Eagles could be a legitimate threat to reach the Final Four. They don’t have as much size and inside production as some other teams; they don’t have a ton of depth; and they get off to slow starts far too often. With all that said, there are several teams with the chops to make a run to New Orleans this season, and Marquette is one of them.

It starts with the duo of guard Darius Johnson-Odom and forward Jae Crowder. Johnson-Odom is a strong guard who is capable of scoring in multiple ways, while Crowder is one of the most difficult individual matchups in the country. Crowder is the biggest player in the lineup and he’s often undersized, but he makes up for it with his inside-outside ability at the other end.

Marquette has plenty of playmakers on the perimeter. Junior Cadougan is capable of running the offense and getting his teammates open shots, and Todd Mayo creates his own looks and gets to the rim. Vander Blue has really come on strong lately. The key lately has been Jamil Wilson, who stepped up when Davante Gardner was injured. Wilson has averaged 11.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in his last eight games.

Without Gardner – and Chris Otule, who was injured earlier in the season – Marquette has had to play undersized during its recent stretch. The Golden Eagles’ defensive rebounding has been about the same, though, and that’s the team’s biggest weakness.

They more than make up for it at the other end of the floor. With at least four guys who can hit the 3-point shot on the court at once, Marquette creates an enormous number of matchup problems. The Golden Eagles love to force turnovers and push the ball, and there aren’t many teams that can keep up with them. In a halfcourt setting, they know how to get into the lane and either finish at the rim or draw fouls.

Only Kentucky and Syracuse have shown enough consistency to be considered favorites to reach the Final Four, and there are a dozen teams capable of making a run to New Orleans. With the way Marquette is playing lately, the Golden Eagles are now part of that group.

It’s certainly better than the bubble.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 6, 2012 11:23 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 11:57 pm

Night Court: Missouri survives another close game

Oklahoma's Steven Pledger reacts after his game-tying 3-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer against Missouri. (AP)

By Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Monday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: Oklahoma has had several close games recently, and Monday night against Missouri was no different, with the Sooners falling, 71-68. Both teams came out of the gate knocking down shots, especially Marcus Denmon, who finished with 25 points. Missouri had the lead for the entire second half, but Oklahoma kept it within one possession for the final minutes. The Sooners had a chance to tie the game, but Romero Osby missed two free throws and Steven Pledger’s 3-pointer at the buzzer rimmed out.

Win to brag about: Beating Texas A&M this season isn’t the same as it was the past couple of years, but Texas couldn’t afford another close loss (or a loss in general). The Longhorns were 0-7 in games decided by six points or fewer heading into Monday, but they held off Texas A&M down the stretch for a 70-68 win. J’Covan Brown had 20 points and seven assists to lead the Longhorns.

Loss to hide from: Remember when we thought Connecticut might turn things around after its win over Seton Hall on Saturday? Yeah, that didn’t happen. The Huskies were outhustled, outmuscled and outworked by Louisville en route to an 80-59 loss. And it didn’t even feel that close. Louisville shot 44 percent from 3-point range, and held Andre Drummond, Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb to 16 points on 6-for-26 shooting.

Player who deserves improper benefits: Marquette’s Jamil Wilson has only reached double-figures in scoring four times this season, and has not grabbed more than seven rebounds in a game. On Monday night, Wilson led Marquette to a 89-76 comeback win over DePaul, totaling 18 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks – on 8-for-12 shooting.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: Connecticut’s debacle of an offensive performance deserves more than just one mention. Andre Drummond was dominated by Gorgui Dieng all night, as the Louisville big man finished with 15 points, six rebounds and six steals. Even worse, Drummond went 0-for-6 from the field and didn’t score a single point. Drummond has all the talent in the world, but the desire is lacking.

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 4: Four of Missouri’s last five wins have been by three points or fewer.
  • 3:45: Vermont has trailed for just 3:45 in its last 133:02 played. The Catamounts have won seven in a row after beating Maine.
  • 0: Kennesaw State remains winless in the Atlantic Sun after losing at home to USC-Upstate. The Owls are 0-13 in the league, 2-22 vs. D-I competition.
  • 93: Southern beat Jackson State, 49-44. In overtime. That’s 93 combined points in 45 minutes of basketball.
  • 16: South Carolina State had lost 16 games in a row before beating beating Longwood on Monday.

Three other notable results:

  1. Mississippi Valley State is 11-0 in the SWAC after beating Alabama A&M. MVSU was just 1-11 in non-conference play.
  2. Davidson has now won three in a row since dropping its first league game last weekend, beating Wofford by 22.
  3. Stony Brook stayed atop the America East at 11-1 with a 57-48 victory over New Hampshire.


  • Belmont steamrolled Austin Peay, 94-55, in a non-conference tilt.
  • Mercer took a half-game lead in the Atlantic Sun, beating East Tennessee State, 54-46.
  • Idaho State played Montana close for a half, but the Grizzlies dominated the second half in a 76-40 victory to move to 10-1 in the Big Sky.
More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 6, 2012 3:01 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 11:21 pm

The Poll Attacks: Marquette over Duke is wrong

By Gary Parrish

This is a good time to pick on Duke if you like picking on Duke. The Blue Devils just lost at home to Miami. That's bad. But Coach K's team still has a pretty good body of work, and I'm about to show you just how good in this week's edition of the Poll Attacks.

Associated Press poll: I haven't played "Blind Résumé" in a while.

Let's do it now ...

----- Team A -----

Record: 19-4
Wins vs. currently ranked teams: 4 (No. 7 Kansas, No. 11 Michigan State, No. 19 Virginia, No. 22 Michigan)
Losses to currently unranked teams: 2 (Temple, Miami)
CollegeRPI ranking: 3
KenPom ranking: 16
Strength of schedule: 1

----- Team B -----

Record: 19-5
Wins vs. currently ranked teams: 2 (No. 21 Wisconsin, No. 24 Louisville)
Losses to currently unranked teams: 3 (LSU, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame)
CollegeRPI ranking: 12
KenPom ranking: 22
Strength of schedule: 18

You might have figured out using context clues taught in elementary school that Team A is Duke and Team B is Marquette, and you might've also concluded from the information provided that there's no way to rank Duke below Marquette. Unless you're Jon Wilner -- who has Marquette ninth and Duke 13th on his AP ballot. That's wrong for three reasons:
  1. Ninth is too high for Marquette.
  2. Thirteenth is too low for Duke.
  3. Those schools are in the wrong order.

Duke has just as many wins as Marquette against a tougher schedule, twice as many wins over currently ranked teams, fewer overall losses and fewer losses to currently unranked teams. The Blue Devils are also rated higher by every respected (and disrespected) computer formula. So I really don't know how anybody could put them on a ballot below Marquette. And I love Marquette! But come on, man. That doesn't make sense.

Coaches poll: California is pretty good and capable of advancing in March.

But should the Bears really be getting five votes in the coaches poll?

I don't think so.

They just haven't done much this season.

They're 18-6 overall, which looks OK on the surface. But the Bears are 0-3 against currently ranked teams (No. 4 Missouri, No. 14 San Diego State and No. 16 UNLV), and they've got three losses to unranked teams, including a home loss to Arizona last Thursday. They don't own a single win over a single team with a single point in either poll, and it's not like they're playing well lately, because they've dropped two of their past four games in a bad league. So why, exactly, would somebody put California on a ballot?

Answer: I don't know.

The Bears might be the Pac-12's best team.

And they might advance to the Sweet 16, just because.

But their body of work just isn't Top 25-worthy at this moment.
Posted on: February 1, 2012 12:11 am
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Posted on: February 1, 2012 12:06 am

Night Court: Royce White gives ISU another win

Royce White's shot with 1.8 seconds left capped a 14-point comeback, giving Iowa St. a win over Kansas St. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Tuesday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: Iowa State looked like it was headed for a letdown game against Kansas State, getting down by as many as 14 in the second half after its big win over Kansas over the weekend. However, the Cyclones stormed back late in the game and tied it up on a Chris Babb free throw with under a minute left. On the last possession, Royce White isolated himself and hit a short jumper with 1.8 seconds left to give Iowa State a 72-70 win.

Win to brag about: Arkansas was the last team in my projected bracket on Monday afternoon, and the Razorbacks solidified their at-large profile with an 82-74 victory over No. 25 Vanderbilt. Arkansas simply didn’t miss midway through the second half, knocking down 3-pointers on five of six possessions, including three in a row, to gain an 11-point lead that it wouldn’t relinquish. The Razorbacks now have wins over Michigan, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.

Loss to hide from: It’s not a bad loss, but Seton Hall has now dropped four in a row after its 66-59 defeat at No. 15 Marquette. The Pirates were up by 11 in the first half and led for most of the first 30 minutes of the game, but they struggled immensely on the offensive end and couldn’t stop Marquette during the Golden Eagles’ 20-5 run in the second half. Jordan Theodore went just 3-for-14 from the field, getting held to seven points.

Player who deserves improper benefits: Oklahoma State sophomore Markel Brown went for 30 points and seven rebounds to lead the Cowboys to an 80-63 win over Texas Tech. Brown is averaging fewer than 10 points per game on the season, but has totaled 71 points in his last four games (17.8 per game).

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: The entire Michigan State vs. Illinois game was horrendous. Michigan State shot just 24 percent, with Illinois lighting it up at 33 percent. The Fighting Illini held on for a 42-41 victory, as Brandon Paul knocked down two free throws with 45 seconds left and Keith Appling missed a layup with two seconds left for Michigan State. 

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 3-for-22: Michigan State’s top three scorers – Draymond Green, Keith Appling, Brandon Wood – were horrendous offensively against Illinois.
  • 11: Kentucky made its first 11 shots from the field against Tennessee.
  • 9: Wisconsin scored just nine points in the first 16 minutes of its game against Penn State, but had 43 in the next 24 minutes. The Badgers won, 52-46.
  • 0: Texas Tech is still winless in conference play – the only BCS-conference team without a league win.

Three other notable results:

  1. North Carolina struggled offensively, but still topped Wake Forest behind 18 points and 18 rebounds from Tyler Zeller.
  2. Virginia held off a late rally from Clemson to improve to 5-2 in the ACC with a 65-51 victory. Mike Scott went for 23 points and 10 rebounds.
  3. Anthony Davis went for 18 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks to lead Kentucky to an easy 69-44 win over Tennessee.


  • New Mexico certainly didn’t overlook Air Force, hammering the Falcons on the road, 81-42.
  • Northern Iowa had lost five of seven heading into Tuesday, but beat Southern Illinois. They have Creighton and Wichita State up next.
  • Michigan State’s Draymond Green left the arena on crutches after leaving the game with a knee injury. He will be evaluated in the morning.
More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: January 30, 2012 10:45 am

Podcast: We've come to the end of the road trip

After talking road trip, the fellas from Ballin' is a Habit discuss the Ryan Boatright saga. (AP)

By Matt Norlander

The epic, groundbreaking Ballin' is a Habit road trip is over. With one day of sleep between them since coming home, I had to bring back Rob Dauster and Troy Machir to gab about the past 23 days and 13 games of their lives.

From Kentucky to Wisconsin to Ohio to Tennessee to Missouri to Kansas to freaking Utah and back, there are many things to share. After the road stories finish, the guys and I address the Ryan Boatwright situation at UConn, why he's so little of what's ailing the Huskies, and where the rest of the Big East is going this season. Plus -- other things that stood out from what turned out to be surprising weekend in college hoops.
  • From the beginning: The road trip is over. What was the roughest part?
  • 6:06: The best and worst arenas.
  • 8:46: Best and worst experiences in general of all the games attended.
  • 14:40: The #BIAHRoadTrip sign got held by someone at every game. How Rob got Gus Johnson to hold it, among other notable snapshots.
  • 19:25: The best/most memorable moments from the trip that had nothing to do with basketball.
  • 22:25: What it was like for these guys to go to tornado-destroyed Joplin, Mo., and help build a house.
  • 25:50: #BIAHRoadTripPart2?
  • 26:58: UConn and Ryan Boatright and all the Huskies' issues. Plus, bashing the NCAA, because they make it so damn easy.
  • 33:32: The highlights and what stood out from the weekend, which initially amounted to not all that much but turned into one with some surprises.
  • 39:18: Some bantering about Rob's new freelance gig with SI.com (hey, SI.com, don't be dumb: keep the guy around for a good while), receiving texts from the road after 2 a.m., and why I'm refusing to talk to Goodman until Wednesday.

Again, I thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast--whenever you can. I ask that you, if you like what we're doing here, encourage like-minded hoopheads to subscribe in Tunes as well. Guests like Jay Bilas, Seth Davis, they're the guys who make me sound better and make the podcast worthwhile. The other guys? Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman, they really make it entertaining, and of course you can count on our trio show each Wednesday. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.

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Posted on: January 23, 2012 4:07 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 4:10 pm

The Poll Attacks

By Gary Parrish

The Missouri beat writer is voting Missouri fourth.

I don't like it because it's wrong.

But I kinda like it because it's ballsy.

Either way, I wrote about it (and other things) in the Poll Attacks.

(Don't believe me, keep reading.)

Associated Press poll: Jeff Goodman and I ranked Missouri second in the Top 25 (and one). I believe that's right where the Tigers belong based on their body of work, but I can understand somebody putting Kentucky, Ohio State and/or Syracuse ahead of them. It would be wrong, in my opinion. But a reasonable argument could be made. So I'm not gonna freak out about the five AP voters who have Missouri ranked fourth this week. I just think it's funny that one of them is Steve Walentik from the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Yes, Steve covers Missouri in Columbia.

And he's one of the few ranking the Tigers too low.

But I kinda dig it because I know Steve must be catching hell -- especially since he has Big 12 rival Kansas ranked one spot ahead of Missouri despite the fact that KU has three losses (including a loss to unranked Davidson) while Missouri has just one loss (at Kansas State) and is coming off a road win (at Baylor) that's better than any road win the Jayhawks possess. I mean, how strong-willed do you have to be to (incorrectly) rank the team you cover lower than 60 of the other 65 AP voters? That takes some balls.

So I hereby declare Steve Walentik an anti-homer.

He could make the CBSSports.com All Anti-Homer Beat Writer Team that'll be unveiled in March.

Anyway ...

Norm Wood screwed up pretty good this week.

He writes for a newspaper in Virginia.

He has Wisconsin ranked 10th and Marquette unranked, which is stupid for three reasons.
  1. Wisconsin shouldn't be ranked 10th anywhere.
  2. Marquette shouldn't unranked anywhere.
  3. Wisconsin shouldn't be ranked ahead of Marquette
Marquette is ahead of Wisconsin in the AP poll, the Coaches poll and the Top 25 (and one) because though Marquette and Wisconsin have similar bodies of work -- both have one win over a currently ranked team -- Marquette actually has a win at Wisconsin. That's got to count for something. But Norm has Wisconsin ranked 10th and Marquette unranked, and I bet that doesn't make sense to the folks in Milwaukee.

Or the folks in Moraga.

My guess is they're just as confused about Norm's decision to put Wisconsin so far ahead of Marquette as they are about his decision to put Gonzaga seven spots ahead of their Saint Mary's Gaels. In case you haven't been following the WCC, here's what you need to know: SMC and Gonzaga -- like Wisconsin and Marquette -- have similar bodies of work, but SMC owns an 83-62 win over Gonzaga.

Again, that's got to count for something.

I'm not saying Saint Mary's is clearly better than Gonzaga.

I'm just saying you can't have Gonzaga ranked seven spots ahead of Saint Mary's right now.

I mean, you can.

I guess.

But look at what happens when you do it.

Coaches poll: Last week was a prove-it week for New Mexico.

Some folks were already ranking the Lobos.

Others -- like us -- were not.

But what we all agreed on last Monday was that New Mexico would have a chance to prove or disprove it belongs because the Lobos had upcoming games against nationally ranked San Diego State (at home) and UNLV (on the road), and I had basically decided that a split would be enough to launch Steve Alford's team into the Top 25 (and one).

But the Lobos lost both games.

They lost 75-70 at home to San Diego State and 80-63 on the road at UNLV.

So why is New Mexico still getting votes in the coaches poll?

Answer: I don't kow.

New Mexico is 15-4 with zero wins over schools receiving votes in either major poll and two losses to teams (New Mexico State and Santa Clara) that aren't receiving votes. In other words, the Lobos are good ... but they're good with an extremely thin resume. They had two chances to record a notable win last week, but they couldn't do it. And that's why they shouldn't be on anybody's ballot until they show that they can.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com