Tag:Jeff Borzello
Posted on: February 22, 2012 3:23 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 3:38 pm
 

MVSU rebounds from 1-11 start to dominate SWAC

By Jeff Borzello

Sean Woods has led MVSU to a 15-0 start in the SWAC after going 1-11 in the non-conference. (US Presswire)

When the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, Mississippi Valley State was 1-11 and had lost seven games in a row. The Delta Devils had not played a home game all season, center Jason Holmes had missed the entire season with a knee injury, and things weren’t looking great as the non-conference campaign came to a close.

Head coach Sean Woods wasn’t overly concerned, though.

“We’re a mature team, we have an upload of seniors,” Woods said over the phone Tuesday. “It was just the mentality.”

It turns out his confidence was spot on. The Delta Devils have won their last 15 games, clinching the outright SWAC regular-season title by beating Texas Southern on a last-second 3 by Paul Crosby on Monday night.

Not many teams trust their 6-foot-8, 250-pound center to knock down a game-winning 3, but that was designed.

“It’s a play we have,” Woods said. “Terrence Joyner was so hot; they were chasing the ball-handler coming off ball screens, leaving Paul open. We gave him one more chance to take a 3, and the guys executed it.”

Trust has been a big part of the historic season so far for Woods and MVSU. All but three players on the roster are juniors or seniors, so they have experience and have therefore been able to overcome the loss of Holmes and Falando Jones, who has missed the last eight games with an ACL injury.

“Guys have had to step up,” Woods said.

Woods, who played at Kentucky and hit the shot before "The Shot" in the Duke/Kentucky Christian Laettner game, had been there before with MVSU. In 2011, the Delta Devils went 1-12 in non-conference play before jumping out to a 6-1 record in the league and finishing in second place. Moreover, Holmes was injured that season as well.

Doing the same thing last year made the coaching staff optimistic about their chances this season.

“We returned a lot of guys that ended up in second place,” Woods said. “Even that team turned around, after losing Holmes. If the status quo remained, we would be OK.”

Mississippi Valley State can’t rest on its laurels, of course. While the Delta Devils want to finish the regular-season undefeated, all that matters is what happens during the four days in Garland, Texas at the SWAC tournament.

If MVSU doesn’t win the automatic bid, the unbelievable turnaround and winning streak will all be for naught. Woods is clearly aware of that.

“We’re the hunted now, not the hunter,” he said. “You have to stay consistent in doing what got you there. We’ve had it thus far, but we’ve got to make shots. We haven’t shot the ball as well as we normally do.”

Woods isn’t even thinking about the accomplishments of the season so far. He’s determined to get to the NCAA tournament.

When asked what felt better – staying undefeated or winning the regular-season title – he looked to the future.

“That’s a good question,” Woods said. “We still want to win games. We’re not done.”

Posted on: February 22, 2012 1:40 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 1:50 pm
 

CBS 16: The case against modern-era teams

Players of Bill Walton's caliber wouldn't stay in school for more than one year in the modern era. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

In doing research for the top 16 college basketball teams of all time, a common thread developed for me – and it wasn’t surprising. The biggest difference in comparing teams from the 1950s, 60s and 70s to teams from the 2000s was obvious: early-entry.

The juggernaut UCLA teams of the John Wooden era got to have Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton for three years, and the Bruins clearly reaped the benefits of those careers. The same goes for Bill Russell and San Francisco, or the undefeated Indiana team that featured Scott May and Kent Benson.

What if the 2004 Connecticut team featuring Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor had returned its key pieces in 2005? That team lost six games during Gordon and Okafor’s junior season, but they would have been dominant the next year. And the 2009 North Carolina Tar Heels that steamrolled through the NCAA tournament? What if Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Ed Davis had all returned in 2010? 

Because players leave early more often during the last decade, we don’t get to see players reach their full potential in college. As a result, the talent gap diminishes between the haves and have-nots and we don’t see the dominance we saw from champions 40 and 50 years ago.

Imagine this year’s Kentucky team – with Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague, etc. – returned nearly all of its key parts next season. And added Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and either Shabazz Muhammad or Nerlens Noel. That team wouldn’t stand a good chance of going undefeated? But there’s zero chance we see anything like that; it just doesn’t happen.

The 1972 UCLA team won games by an average of 30.3 points. 1968 UCLA hammered teams by an average of 26.0 points. The 1996 Kentucky team had nine future NBA players on its team. 1991 UNLV failed to win a regular-season game by at least 10 points just one time.

We don’t see teams like that anymore, because the early-entry rule has essentially decreased the number of stars one team can have at a specific time. We’ll see the George Masons and the VCUs and the Butlers make Final Four runs, because parity is far more prevalent in college basketball than it was a half-century ago. You didn’t see Cinderella runs every season in the NCAA tournament, because the top teams in the country were head and shoulders above everyone else -- and there was no "great equalizer," like the 3-point shot. 

Upsets are a normal occurrence nowadays. That wasn’t the case with some of the other great teams. San Francisco won 55 games in a row; Indiana went undefeated; UCLA won 10 championships and made 12 Final Fours during a stretch. No one was picking against the 1969 Bruins, a season that was essentially a victory lap for Lew Alcindor’s career.

The most dominant teams of the past decade – 2004 Connecticut, 2009 North Carolina, 2007 Florida, 2005 North Carolina – were all vulnerable. Those four teams lost a combined 19 games.

Teams from “back in the day” just didn’t lose. From 1964 to 1976, the 13 national champions lost a combined 12 games. That’s it, 12 games in 13 seasons.

From a personal perspective, I’ve rarely said over the past decade: “Wow, I can’t see this team losing to anyone the rest of the season. And they’re going to dominate next year too.”

That’s just how it is these days: upsets happen, parity happens, early-entry happens.

In the 1960s and 1970s, that simply didn’t happen.

And that’s why there’s a clear difference between modern-era champions and the champions generally considered “the greatest of all time.” 

CBS Sports Network will be celebrating the 16 greatest college basketball teams of all time in the upcoming, four-part series, "16." Our CBS Sports panel of experts has voted, and on March 19 and 20, you'll be able to see which teams make up our list. You can help us celebrate your favorite team by sending us your tweets -- use the hashtag #CBS16 -- or leave your comments below. Then, look for your content as we'll work to incorporate the best submissions into the series.

You can also chime in on Facebook: Eye on College Basketball or CBSSports.com
 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 22, 2012 12:02 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 12:05 pm
 

Today's Specials: Bubblers look to avoid bad Ls

Notre Dame has won eight in a row, and could hurt West Virginia's at-large hopes tonight. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

If Tuesday night was the chance for bubble teams to get marquee wins and boost their resume, Wednesday is the night where they simply have to avoid bad losses. Several squads are off the bubble with a loss tonight.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: West Virginia at No. 20 Notre Dame (7 p.m., ESPN2). Interestingly, this is the only game of the night between two projected NCAA tournament teams. West Virginia has lost five of its last seven, but could really solidify its profile with a win at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have won eight in a row, including Saturday’s comeback win over Villanova. They are currently tied for second in the standings. The battle inside between Kevin Jones and Jack Cooley should be fun to watch. Both guys are unbelievable in the offensive glass.  

Second-best game: No. 6 Michigan State at Minnesota (8:30 p.m., Big Ten Network). Minnesota is pretty much off the bubble at this point, as the Golden Gophers have lost three in a row and five of their last seven. They sit at just 5-9 in the league. Meanwhile, Michigan State has planted itself in the No. 1 seed discussion, after five straight wins gave the Spartans the inside track to a Big Ten title. The only way Minnesota wins is if it avoids extended offensive droughts, and also forces Michigan State to turn it over or shoot long jumpers.

Another one to watch: South Florida at No. 2 Syracuse (7 p.m., ESPN3). Despite the lack of quality wins, South Florida finds itself firmly on the bubble with a 10-4 Big East record. The Bulls could really help their resume with a road win at Syracuse, which can clinch a share of the league title with a win tonight. In order to pull the upset, South Florida needs to take care of the ball – Anthony Collins has helped in this area – and keep Syracuse on the perimeter. The Orange will dominate down low.

Guaranteed win: In what might be the weirdest non-conference game of the season, North Carolina Central visits Indiana tonight (7 p.m.). Why? Apparently it was to avoid back-to-back bye weeks in the schedule. It’s February 22, and the Hoosiers could probably use the rest before a tough finishing stretch. If I were NC-Central, I certainly wouldn’t pass the game up. With that said, Indiana will roll. 

Potential upset: The Atlantic-10 is getting more interesting everyday. On Wednesday night, No. 22 Temple travels to La Salle (7 p.m.) in a game that means more than one might think. The Explorers, while not having a great resume right now, have a remaining schedule that makes third-place possible. If they win tonight, and run the table until the A-10 semis, is that enough for an at-large? Temple needs to get out on La Salle’s shooters if it wants to avoid an upset.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Before the season, UC Santa Barbara visiting Long Beach State (11 p.m., ESPN2) would have been must-see hoops. Now, it’s one of the last obstacles remaining for LBSU to go unbeaten through the Big West.
  2. Several bubble teams can kiss their chances goodbye with a loss tonight: Wyoming at No. 25 San Diego State (10:30 p.m., Mountain); Dayton at Duquesne (7 p.m.); Richmond at Saint Joseph’s (7 p.m.); Ole Miss at Tennessee (7 p.m., ESPN3); Houston at Marshall (7 p.m.); Georgia at LSU (8 p.m., ESPN3); UCF at Rice (9 p.m.); and any of the CAA teams. 
  3. Texas-Arlington leads the Southland with a 12-0 record, but it can clinch a share of the league title tonight on the road at second-place McNeese State. A loss, and the race picks up some intrigue. 
More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 21, 2012 9:05 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 12:07 am
 

Poppin' Bubbles: Big chances for marquee wins

Northwestern had a chance to solidify its resume against Michigan. Instead, the Wildcats fell in overtime. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

This week is void of bubble-bubble battles for the most part, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any important games for those teams on the fence. Tuesday’s slate features seven bubble teams facing ranked teams, while two other bubblers are on the road and another team or two need to solidify their resumes by avoiding a bad loss. Simply put, this is a monster night for bubble squads.

Note: This page will be updated throughout the night, with bubble discussion and analysis. 

WINNERS:

Seton Hall:
 The first of what could be several big bubble wins tonight. The Pirates came out with intensity and energy, and never let up en route to a 73-55 win over Georgetown. The win gives the Pirates a marquee win on which to hang their hat, a win that they desperately needed. Prior to tonight, the best wins for Seton Hall were over Connecticut and West Virginia. Moreover, the victory improves Seton Hall to .500 in the Big East, with a home game vs. Rutgers and a road trip to DePaul remaining. The Pirates are feeling confident right now.

Kansas State:
And it's time to lock the Wildcats up. After winning at Baylor to put themselves in good position, Kansas State went into Columbia and handed Missouri its first home loss of the season, 78-68. It also punches the Wildcats' ticket to the NCAA tournament. They now have two wins over Missouri and a win over Baylor, as well as victories over Long Beach State, Alabama and Texas. The two losses to Oklahoma look strange, but that will only matter for seeding now. Kansas State is in. 

Colorado State: The Rams are certainly alive on the NCAA bubble, after taking down a red-hot New Mexico team. Combined with their win over Wyoming on Saturday, Colorado State is back above .500 in the Mountain West, and the Rams' computer profile is only going to get better. Coming into the night, the RPI was 30 and the SOS was 13 -- that will improve after the win over the Lobos. This gives Colorado State two good wins on the resume, with the other coming against San Diego State. The biggest problems right now are the 2-8 road record and the three sub-100 losses. However, with games against UNLV and SDSU coming up, the Rams have chances. Win one, and they could be in good shape.

LOSERS:

Northwestern: Oh, so close. The Wildcats -- in perhaps the biggest game in program history -- had chances to beat Michigan in regulation, but fell short. The Wolverines dominated the overtime en route to a win over Northwestern. The loss is heartbreaking for the Wildcats, which was one of the last teams in the field this week and really could have helped their resume with another marquee win. Moreover, instead of moving to .500 in the Big Ten, Northwestern drops to 6-9. Bill Carmody's club still has to travel to Penn State and Iowa, as well as play host to Ohio State. The Wildcats might need a win over the Buckeyes to look attractive to the Committee. Wins over Michigan State and Seton Hall might not be enough.

Mississippi State: It was a heck of an effort from Mississippi State on Tuesday night against Kentucky, but the Bulldogs simply couldn't make enough plays at either end of the floor in the second half. While they played well, it's now four losses in a row for Rick Stansbury and co. A couple of weeks ago, Mississippi State was looking like a potential Sweet 16 team and a No. 6 seed or so. Now, their at-large hopes could hinge on a road trip to fellow bubbler Alabama this weekend. They're now 6-7 against the top 100 and 6-7 in the SEC. Rodney Hood's injury could be something to watch as well. 

Xavier:
So much for taking advantage of the momentum the Musketeers built after the overtime win over Dayton. Xavier went into Amherst on Tuesday night and never seemed overly competitive against Massachusetts, losing 80-73. A win would have helped the Musketeers feel more confident; instead, they're back in trouble. The best win remains over Vanderbilt, although the victories against fellow bubble teams Purdue, Cincinnati, Dayton and Saint Joseph's could potentially help on Selection Sunday. A win at Saint Louis next week would be nice.

North Carolina State: Last week, North Carolina State was on the verge of really solidifying its at-large profile, leading by 20 at Duke. After a loss to North Carolina on Tuesday, the Wolfpack have lost three in a row and are really struggling. They needed a marquee win for their profile -- the best wins right now are over Miami (Fl.) and Texas -- and they struck out all three times in the past week. NC State now needs to win its final three games of the regular season and then pick up a big win over someone in the ACC tournament.

Miami (Fl.): The Hurricanes had stayed in the field by simply avoiding losses to non-NCAA teams. That ended on Tuesday, as the Hurricanes blew a second-half lead and lost to Maryland in the final minutes, 75-70. Turnovers by Durand Scott and Shane Larkin could come back to haunt them come Selection Sunday. Miami is only 1-6 against the top 50 of the RPI, and it only has one truly "good" win -- at Duke on Super Bowl Sunday. The Hurricanes host Florida State and then travel to North Carolina State next week in a huge bubble battle. Miami likely needs to win both.

Illinois: If you didn't think the Fighting Illini threw in the towel during their miserable blowout loss at Nebraska over the weekend, Tuesday night's loss to Ohio State should have done the trick. The Buckeyes got out to a 28-8 lead and never looked back, getting revenge for an earlier loss with a blowout win. Illinois is now essentially lifeless in terms of the NCAA tournament. The Illini have lost nine of its last 10 games and are five games below .500 in the Big Ten.
Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:32 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 3:21 pm
 

Kyle O'Quinn sees pro future after Norfolk State

Kyle O'Quinn played just one year of high school ball. Now, he has a pro career in his future. (Mark W. Sutton/Norfolk State)

By Jeff Borzello

If you had asked Kyle O’Quinn back in high school if he thought he would have a future in professional basketball, he would have laughed at you.

After all, O’Quinn was just 5-foot-11 as a high school freshman in New York, and only played one year of high school basketball. He had just one scholarship offer coming out of high school, from the MEAC’s Norfolk State. Others were sniffing around, but no one else was willing to take a chance on the raw big man. His family didn’t want him to go to prep school, so he jumped on the opportunity to head to Virginia and play for Norfolk State.

Now, as a 6-foot-10 senior, O’Quinn is dominating on the inside. Over the last two seasons, the big man is averaging 16.2 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. Because of his potential, he could have a future in the sport.

“I’m getting a lot of good feedback,” O’Quinn said. “I didn’t think I would play college basketball, of course not. You couldn’t have told me that.”

O’Quinn has been one of the most improved big men in the country over the course of four years, going from someone who didn’t even know the fundamentals of basketball to a player who can carry the Spartans to the NCAA tournament. He didn’t see it coming; no one saw it coming.

When O’Quinn got to Norfolk State, he had no dreams of dominating the league. He just didn’t want to be a benchwarmer.

“The basics weren’t basics to me,” O’Quinn said. “You could say pick and roll, and I would look at you like I never heard of that before.”

Because of his height, his lack of experience didn’t matter much when he first got to Norfolk. O’Quinn was thrown into the fire immediately.

“I was very raw. I never played under a coach,” he said. “In high school, we had two coaches and three parent volunteer. I had a lot of help from the seniors. I was the only freshman my freshman year here.”

O'Quinn has averaged 16.2 points, 11.0 boards & 3.1 blocks over the last two seasons. (Mark W. Sutton/Norfolk State)

As O’Quinn saw more minutes and got more experience on the basketball court, he continued to improve. From his freshman year to his sophomore year, his numbers more than doubled, going from 5.3 points and 3.4 rebounds to 11.5 points and 8.7 rebounds.

“It was just fundamentals and game situations,” O’Quinn said on what made the biggest difference in his rapid improvement. “What move to go on, what to do now, what shouldn’t I do, when to put the foot on the gas.”

Despite being one of the most productive players in the nation, O’Quinn doesn’t get a ton of attention for being the dominant big man that he is. True to his humble – and hilarious, might I add –self, though, O’Quinn doesn’t feel like he’s underrated.

“I’m in the MEAC,” he said. “It’s not one of the most televised leagues. People just need to see my name as a stat leader or a stat stuffer. It wasn’t like people were saying, ‘I can’t wait to see what Kyle O’Quinn will put up.’”

What would help O’Quinn get some national attention would be a trip to the NCAA tournament. Norfolk State rolled out to an 8-0 record in the league after beating Drexel, TCU and LIU-Brooklyn in the non-conference season. However, the Spartans have stumbled recently, losing three of their last six games. They now sit behind Savannah State in the league standings heading down the stretch.

Of course, the rest of the teams don’t have a dominant big man like O’Quinn.

“That would be great. I think a million 6-foot-10 seniors would say that,” he said. “It would be a nice mark on my career here at Norfolk State.”

What a difference five years makes. 

Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:10 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 12:45 pm
 

Our ballots for the top 16 teams of all time

John Wooden's 1973 UCLA team, above, and his '68 squad were in the top three of every ballot. (AP)

By Gary Parrish


In March, the CBS Sports Network will air one big show in four parts, on two nights, on the best 16 college basketball teams in history.

They asked me to submit a ballot.

They asked Jeff Borzello, Jeff Goodman and Matt Norlander to do the same.

After a whole lot research and subsequent debate on Twitter, we finally filed our lists. Lots of you asked to see them. We decided to let you. So take a look and tell us what you think. And don't forget the the best team in this sport doesn't always win the national championship because that fact of life is reflected in our ballots. Teams in italics did not win national titles.

Kentucky in 1995-96 was absolutely ridiculous. (AP)
----- Gary Parrish's Ballot -----
  1. 1968 UCLA
  2. 1996 Kentucky
  3. 1973 UCLA
  4. 1982 North Carolina
  5. 1976 Indiana
  6. 2008 Kansas
  7. 2009 North Carolina
  8. 1991 UNLV
  9. 1999 Duke
  10. 1992 Duke
  11. 2005 North Carolina
  12. 2007 Florida
  13. 1956 San Francisco
  14. 1957 North Carolina
  15. 1974 North Carolina State
  16. 2000 Cincinnati

----- Jeff Goodman's Ballot -----

  1. 1968 UCLA
  2. 1973 UCLA
  3. 1976 Indiana
  4. 1956 San Francisco
  5. 1982 North Carolina
  6. 1996 Kentucky
  7. 1992 Duke
  8. 1990 UNLV
  9. 1974 North Carolina State
  10. 1984 Georgetown
  11. 1979 Michigan State
  12. 1960 Ohio State
  13. 1967 UCLA
  14. 2007 Florida
  15. 2005 North Carolina
  16. 2009 North Carolina
The longer we go without a team going buzzer to buzzer without a loss, the better 1975-76 Indiana looks for being the last team to accomplish the feat. (AP)
----- Jeff Borzello's Ballot -----
  1. 1968 UCLA
  2. 1973 UCLA
  3. 1976 Indiana
  4. 1956 San Francisco
  5. 1996 Kentucky
  6. 1972 UCLA
  7. 1991 UNLV
  8. 1982 North Carolina
  9. 1992 Duke
  10. 1974 North Carolina State
  11. 1990 UNLV
  12. 1967 UCLA
  13. 1954 Kentucky
  14. 1957 North Carolina
  15. 1984 Georgetown
  16. 1960 Ohio State

----- Matt Norlander's Ballot -----

  1. 1973 UCLA
  2. 1996 Kentucky
  3. 1968 UCLA
  4. 1976 Indiana
  5. 1982 North Carolina
  6. 1956 San Francisco
  7. 1992 Duke
  8. 2005 North Carolina
  9. 1974 N.C. State
  10. 1957 North Carolina
  11. 1991 UNLV
  12. 2001 Duke
  13. 2007 Florida
  14. 1984 Georgetown
  15. 1999 Duke
  16. 2008 Kansas

CBS Sports Network will be celebrating the 16 greatest college basketball teams of all time in the upcoming, four-part series, "16." Our CBS Sports panel of experts has voted, and on March 19 and 20, you'll be able to see which teams make up our list. You can help us celebrate your favorite team by sending us your tweets -- use the hashtag #CBS16 -- or leave your comments below. Then, look for your content as we'll work to incorporate the best submissions into the series.

You can also chime in on Facebook: Eye on College Basketball or CBSSports.com


Posted on: February 21, 2012 10:55 am
Edited on: February 21, 2012 11:00 am
 

Today's Specials: Big chances for bubble teams

By Jeff Borzello

We’ve got a big bubble Tuesday, with seven bubble teams facing ranked teams, and another two heading on the road. We’ll either see several teams solidify their resumes or miss an opportunity. 

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: No. 11 Michigan at Northwestern (8 p.m., Big Ten Network). As Jeff Goodman wrote on Monday, this could be the biggest game in Wildcats’ history. A win here and Northwestern would feel pretty comfortable about its NCAA tournament hopes. They have won four of their last six games, but they need another marquee win. Michigan is coming off a win over Ohio State. Both teams rely heavily on the 3-pointer; which team will hit more?

Second-best game: Kansas State at No. 3 Missouri (7 p.m., ESPN2). Despite Missouri being at home for this one, don’t count Kansas State out. The Wildcats are coming off a road win over Baylor that really helped their NCAA chances, and they also dominated Missouri by 16 in the teams’ first meeting back in early January. To hang with the Tigers in Columbia, Kansas State needs to dominate the offensive glass and also take care of the ball. The Wildcats also have to try to match-up on the defensive end.

Another one to watch: No. 1 Kentucky at Mississippi State (9 p.m., ESPN). This would have been a lot more exciting had Mississippi State not lost three consecutive games to teams that won’t make the NCAA tournament. With Renardo Sidney’s status also questionable, this one could get out of hand quickly. However, if Sidney does play, the Bulldogs have the size to bang with Kentucky down low. The key will be Dee Bost. Can he take good shots and take care of the ball? If so, Mississippi State could have a chance.

Guaranteed win: Binghamton is running out of chances to get a win this season, and Tuesday’s game against America East co-leader Vermont (7 p.m.) probably won’t help very much. The first time the two teams played, the Catamounts rolled to a 20-point victory – and they might be better now. Vermont has won 13 of its last 14 games, and shouldn’t have trouble dispatching of Binghamton.

Potential upset: Lots of options tonight, but we’ll go with No. 9 Georgetown heading to Seton Hall (7 p.m., ESPN3). The Pirates are desperate at this point, after losing to Cincinnati over the weekend. A win here would do wonders for their profile, while Georgetown could still sneak into the No. 2 seed line with a strong finish. Seton Hall has to play smart defense while still being aggressive enough to force turnovers. Herb Pope needs to dominate the paint.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. There are several other bubble teams with a chance to get a noteworthy win. NC State hosts No. 7 North Carolina (8 p.m., ESPN3), while Colorado State faces No. 18 New Mexico (10 p.m., Mountain). Illinois can also get back on the right track with a road win at No. 8 Ohio State (7 p.m., ESPN).
  2. Xavier and Miami (Fl.) go on the road in games they can’t afford to lose. The Musketeers travel to Massachusetts (7 p.m., Comcast Network/Regional TV), and the ‘Canes go to Maryland (8 p.m., ESPN3).
  3. No. 25 Virginia has lost three of its last four road games, and tonight the Cavaliers head to Virginia Tech (9 p.m., ESPNU).
More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:51 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 11:54 pm
 

Night Court: Napier saves UConn's season

By Jeff Borzello

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

Game of the day: Shabazz Napier saved Connecticut’s season. After it looked like the sophomore guard wouldn’t play at all, Napier contributed key minutes and then hit a pull-up 30-footer with 0.8 seconds left in overtime to give the Huskies a 73-70 win at Villanova. Connecticut got behind by 18 points in the first half, but fought back to tie it at halftime. Jeremy Lamb went for 32 points, constantly bailing out the Huskies down the stretch. If Connecticut makes the NCAA tournament, it might look at Napier’s shot as the one that put them there.

Win to brag about: Mississippi Valley State clinched the SWAC regular-season championship in the best way possible – on a 3-pointer with under a second left by 6-foot-8 big Paul Crosby. The shot gave the Delta Devils a 56-53 win over Texas Southern, and also improved them to 15-0 in conference play. Remember, this is a team that was 1-11 in the non-league. Quite the turnaround for Sean Woods’ club.

Loss to hide from: Texas needed this one. The Longhorns, coming off a loss to Oklahoma State over the weekend, had a chance to solidify their resume with a home win over a reeling Baylor club. After getting off to a double-digit lead, they let the Bears come back on the glass – and on the scoreboard. Baylor pulled it out late, 77-72, after J’Covan Brown turned it over in the final minute. Texas’ NCAA hopes are now in trouble, while Baylor is back on the right track. Quincy Acy had 22 points and 16 rebounds for the Bears.

Player who deserves improper benefits: North Florida’s Parker Smith is gunning lately. He’s knocked down at least five 3-pointers in four of his last six games – but nothing topped his performance on Monday. The Ospreys’ guard went 11-for-17 from behind the arc – and also knocked down 9-for-9 from the free-throw line – en route to 46 points in a 75-66 win over Mercer. The loss for the Bears is their second in a row, dropping them two games behind first-place Belmont.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: There weren't too many disappointing performances tonight, although a couple caught my eye. DePaul's Jamee Crocket had taken 82 3-pointers the entire season heading into Monday night; that's slightly over three attempts per game. For some reason, he took 11 shots from behind the arc against St. John's, only making one in the loss. Meanwhile, even though Baylor won, Perry Jones struggled once again. He shot 3-for-11 from the field -- he still needs to step up in big games.

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 0: The number of Atlantic Sun wins Kennesaw State has this season, after falling just short, 73-71.
  • 0: The number of MEAC wins South Carolina State has this season, after the Bulldogs lost by one to Florida A&M.
  • 5: Delaware State has now had five games in a row decided by either one possession or in overtime. The Hornets won Monday in double overtime over Hampton.

Three other notable results:

  1. St. John’s is now in 11th place in the Big East after beating DePaul by seven. Given what the Red Storm have been through, that’s an accomplishment.
  2. It looks like Belmont will win the Atlantic Sun, after defeating USC Upstate, 88-79. The Bruins are now up by two games on Mercer with just two games left.
  3. Savannah State took a full game lead in the MEAC standings by demolishing Bethune-Cookman, who entered Monday only one game back of first.

Notes:

  • Look out for Fairfield in the MAAC tournament. The Stags won their seventh straight league game by beating Marist on the road.
  • Kyle O’Quinn struggled offensively, but still grabbed 16 rebounds as Norfolk State picked up an easy win over Longwood.
  • Southern looks likely to finish second in the SWAC after improving to 11-4 on Monday, but the Jaguars are ineligible for the conference tournament and won’t thus be able to take down MVSU.
  • There was a false report claiming that Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun would return for Saturday’s game against Syracuse. It was denied by school officials. 
More College Basketball coverage
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com