The Daily 1-3-1 (February 20th)

1  Thought from the Games Last Night

Syracuse lost to WHO!?

Syracuse had been playing with fire all season when it came to remaining undefeated – last night, it finally caught up with them. Seriously though, raise your hand if you had Boston College as the team that would go into the Carrier Dome and hand the Orange their first loss of the season. Looks like nobody raised their hand; if you did, you’re a rapscallion and a liar… or a Boston College alum. This loss leaves Gregg Marshall’s Wichita State squad as the only remaining undefeated team in Men’s D1 college hoops.

—————————————

3  Games to Watch Tonight

i. (5) Duke @ North Carolina, ESPN – 9 PM
Let’s try this again! With all do respect to Louisville/Kentucky, Michigan/Michigan State, Georgetown/Syracuse, and Cincinnati/Xavier, this is the best rivalry in college basketball. It is a mere 9 miles from Durham to Chapel Hill, and there is no love lost when the two Tobacco Road goliaths tango on the basketball court. This year’s edition promises to be filled with plenty of excitement and hoopla, as freshman phenom Jabari Parker has really settled into his role in the past few games. North Carolina also seems to have settled into their fast-paced style of play, having won 7 straight games. 

ii. (25) Gonzaga @ BYU, ESPN2 – 11 PM
For all the night owls and people who live on the West coast, this game is one to watch in terms of shuffling of seeding (and entry into) the NCAA tournament. BYU has been flirting with earning an at-large birth into the tournament field, but so far they’ve just been a tease. Gonzaga has an impressive 23-4 record, albeit a bit misleading – their three tough non-conference games (Dayton, Kansas State, and Memphis) all resulted in losses.

iii. Penn State @ Nebraska, ESPNU – 7 PM
Many people would say I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel when I list this game as one you might want to watch. Those people have a valid point, but have you seen my other options for tonight? Slim pickings. Nonetheless, Nebraska is at least in the conversation as a tournament bubble team after their win in East Lansing this weekend. If they can manage to finish above .500 in the topsy-turvy Big 10, it’s going to be hard to leave them out of the field.

—————————————

1  Bold Prediction for Tonight’s Slate

BYU plays their way back into the thick of the bubble discussion with a close home win over Mark Few and Co.

The Marriott Center has proven to be unfriendly confines for visiting West Coast Conference opponents, who are winless against the Cougars when playing in Provo. Something deep down in my gut tells me Tyler Haws is going to find a way to will this team to a narrow victory – he might even drop 30 on the Bulldogs along the way.

Advertisements

The Daily 1-3-1 (February 18th)

1  Thought from the Games Last Night

If I was the coach of a potential 2 or 3 seed, I would want to avoid drawing North Carolina as the 6 or 7 in my sub-regional.

Even with James Michael McAdoo dealing with foul trouble for the entirety of the game, the Heels were able to go on the road and beat a decent Florida State team. This team is fast, athletic, and is the only team to have knocked off a full-strength Michigan State squad – I don’t care if that game took place in early December; it’s still very impressive.

—————————————

3  Games to Watch Tonight

i. George Washington @ Richmond, NBC Sports Network – 7 PM
This game has Bubblicious written all over it; hopefully it doesn’t lose its intrigue and flavor as fast as the infamous chewing gum. The Colonials are looking to save their season and tournament hopes after back-to-back losses to VCU and Massachusetts. They control their own destiny, with two opportunities to get quality road wins this week – at Richmond and at Saint Louis. The Spiders are right on the cusp of the field – they must defend home court against the other top teams in the A10 to earn a tournament birth.

ii. (19) Texas @ (17) Iowa State, ESPN2 – 7 PM
It is a forgone conclusion that Kansas is the class of the Big 12. Who is the second best team in the conference? I think this game will do a lot to answer that question. The Cyclones have been less than impressive in their last two games, getting throttled by West Virginia and surviving at home against Texas Tech. Texas has yet to play the conference elite on the road, and this will be the start of a 4-game stretch that also features games in Lawrence and Norman; it’s time for the Longhorns to prove they belong in the conversation of contenders for a deep tournament run.

iii. (9) Villanova @ Providence, Fox Sports 1 – 7 PM
The Wildcats have been able to take care of business against everyone in the Big East not named Creighton, but on the road at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center isn’t going to be a cakewalk (stretch of a pun somewhat intended). Providence is in a similar situation to Richmond – another tournament-caliber conference foe is coming onto their floor, and they’re smack dab in the center of the bubble. If the Friars want to feel more comfortable about their tournament chances, they should probably win this game or their season finale at Creighton; winning this game seems like a much more feasible task.

—————————————

1  Bold Prediction for Tonight’s Slate

Marshall Henderson will attempt at least 7 three-point field goals, and will make less than half of those attempts.

He’s a dog without a leash, and Andy Kennedy has enabled him and allowed that to happen – for better or for worse. Henderson’s antics are polarizing, his confidence is incessant, and he’s never afraid to risk taking the blame in order to earn the glory. I’m fairly confident that John Calipari will have the Wildcats ready to shut him down and shut his mouth.

The Daily 1-3-1 (February 13th)

1  Thought from the Games Last Night

Tyler Ennis is cold-blooded.

The Panthers had their opportunity to finally get a quality win, up 2 with under five seconds remaining – then Tyler Ennis happened.  In case you missed it:

Ennis has been the most clutch freshman, and perhaps the most clutch player, in all of college basketball this year. He’s made all the big free throws, all the big plays, and all the big shots. Jim Boeheim has one of the greatest luxuries a basketball coach can have – a point guard who thrives with the ball in his hands when the game is on the line.

—————————————

3  Games to Watch Tonight

i. Minnesota @ (21) Wisconsin, ESPN – 9 PM
The Golden Gophers aren’t necessarily “on the bubble” at this point, but a loss in this game, especially if it isn’t close, will put Richard Pitino’s squad squarely on the bubble. I still think that the Gophers will get in the tournament if they finish 8-10 in the insanely deep Big Ten, but they should try to get to 9-9 if they don’t want to be sweating out Selection Sunday. Wisconsin needs to stop the home-court bleeding if they want to stay in the upper echelon of the Big 10. Opposing teams used to have nightmares about playing at the Kohl Center, but the Badgers are 1-3 in their last four home games.

ii. Arkansas @ Missouri, ESPN2 – 7 PM
Mike Anderson’s squad is still holding on to a small glimmer of hope that they may be dancing in March, but they’ll have to finish 5-2 or better to get to 20 wins and have a realistic shot for an at-large bid out of the SEC. Missouri is currently (barely) on the right side of the bubble, but a home loss to a fellow bubble team in conference would change that in a hurry. Both these teams are so hot-and-cold that any result is possible in this game.

iii. Colorado @ UCLA, ESPN2 – 9 PM
It looks like the Buffs are finally starting to learn how to win without their star Spencer Dinwiddie, who tore is ACL almost a month ago. After initially struggling to find an identity sans their leading scorer and assist man, Colorado has reeled off three straight wins, albeit all at home.  Tonight’s game at Pauley Pavilion against a very solid UCLA squad will be a whole ‘nother ball of wax, and a good gauge for the committee to see how the new-identity Buffs handle quality competition on the road.

—————————————

1  Bold Prediction for Tonight’s Slate

I will only be able to survive watching the Colorado/UCLA game until the first TV timeout because of Bill Walton’s announcing.

I’m usually rather lenient when it comes to judging the quality of a sportscaster – so it says a lot that it takes almost all my willpower not to immediately change the channel when Bill Walton is announcing a game. I can’t listen to him talk for more than 10 seconds without thinking about how much of a pretentious prig he is every time he opens his mouth.

The Daily 1-3-1 (February 11th)

1  Thought from the Games Last Night

Can a 3-point overtime loss (on the road) to an in-state rival (that’s also a tournament team) really drop you a seed line?

I don’t know if I have a definitive answer to that question just yet, because I have to see how the rest of the week’s games play out. However, the Jayhawk faithful may not like the conclusion I am leaning towards at this very moment. Last night’s loss in Manhattan was the sixth loss of the year for Kansas, and it’s hard for me to see an 18-6 team deserving a 2-seed, even with the brutally tough schedule they’ve played to this point.

—————————————

3  Games to Watch Tonight

i. (15) Michigan @ (22) Ohio State, ESPN – 9 PM
The stakes aren’t quite as high when these two bitter rivals meet on the hardwood as opposed to the gridiron, but I’m sure the game is bound to get quite chippy. These two teams are also trending in opposite directions. After a demoralizing home loss to Penn State, Ohio State has righted the ship with 3 wins in a row, including road wins against Wisconsin and Iowa. Michigan, on the other hand, has loss two of three, after starting 8-0 in conference.

ii. Oklahoma State @ (19) Texas, ESPN2 – 7 PM
The Marcus Smart shoving incident was blown way out of proportion, but that’s a tangent I may address on another day. Nonetheless, Smart’s three-game suspension is going to have a major impact on the Cowboys, who have to prevent the wheels from completely falling off in his absence. In their first game sans their star, OK State faces a stern road test against the surprising Longhorns. It’s not an NCAA tournament game, so I’m sure Rick Barnes will actually have the squad ready to roll this evening.

iii. (3) Florida @ Tennessee, ESPN – 7 PM
Tennessee is that relative that you’re pretty sure has bipolar disorder – you just keep your mouth shut and enjoy the entertaining portion of their performances. Florida is that affluent, well-spoken relative that has had a great deal of consistent success in their life. The family is having a cozy little get-together in Knoxville tonight; we’ll see if the bi-polar relative smashes out the windows on the affluent relative’s Mercedes, or if the affluent relative will overwhelm all their cousins with their general aura and power.

—————————————

1  Bold Prediction for Tonight’s Slate

The Gators go on the road and hang a 15+ point beatdown on the Volunteers, further muddling Tennessee’s perplexing bubble résumé.

Billy Donovan’s squad is far better than every other team in the SEC, save Kentucky. Whether that speaks more about the lack of depth in the SEC, or the strength of Florida, I’m not sure… I guess we’ll find out in March!

Billins and Motte Advance to the Frozen Four

It’s always nice to see local kids making big impacts. In this case, we have two great hockey players from this area in the Frozen Four of college hockey. Both Chad Billins and CJ Motte play for Ferris State University and will be playing in the Frozen Four against Union College next Thursday. Ferris State at one point was ranked #1 in the country and have been playing very good hockey.

The (25-11-5) Ferris State Bulldogs have been led this year by their captain and Marysville, Michigan native Chad Billins. He has had an incredible year, and as a defenseman ended up 3rd on the team in points with 29 points. I was fortunate enough to play two and a half years with Chad, and even though we were only 14 years old, you could see how good Chad was. He was a great teammate on and off the ice. To this day I tell people that he is the smartest hockey player I have had the pleasure of playing with. Chad has played with a lot of great teams in the state of Michigan. He quickly went from a state champion Blue Water Wild team to Detroit Little Caesars AAA hockey club.  The very next year moved to Alpena in the NAHL and another year later to Waterloo in the USHL. It happened so fast for Chad and within a few years saw himself in a Ferris State  uniform where he has thrived. He still has at least 1 and at the most 2 games left with Ferris depending on if they win their semifinal matchup with Union College, but Chad’s hockey days will not end there. Right after the season is over NHL teams can sign seniors playing college hockey. Without a doubt the future is looking bright for Chad and should be signed and end up in either the NHL or the AHL after the season is over.

CJ Motte has to be happy with his decision to go to Ferris State University. His first year with the team and he is already on the verge of playing for a national championship. He has played outstanding in the 12 games he has started and posted a 1.98 Goals Against Average and .925 save percentage during the regular season. CJ is also a local hockey player, and grew up in the city of St.Clair, Michigan. CJ also played AAA hockey for Honeybaked. Although it was just after Chad had left Waterloo for Ferris, CJ Motte also played for Waterloo last year. CJ is not the only one in the family with hockey skill either. He has a younger brother who currently plays for the US Under 17 NTDP. He played for Honeybaked AAA last year and has already verbally committed to the University of Michigan. This means we could potentially see a matchup of brothers in a few years if their 2 teams meet. The futures of all 3 local hockey players are very promising and it’s exciting to see these great people on and off the ice succeed as they are.

If you’re interested in watching CJ and Chad play, tune in to ESPNU at 4:30 PM on Thursday April 5th. They will be taking on Union College in the semifinal. The final will be played on Saturday April 7th at 7:00 PM and can be found on ESPN2. So tune in, and support these local athletes as they strive to achieve greatness in the form of a national championship.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Author: Anthony Walker