January 9, 2012

01/09/2012 - 3:08pm

Michael Kidd-GilchristMichael Kidd-GilchristIt is just around the mid-way point of the college basketball season, so many have started to make lists of the best players in certain categories at the half way mark. Came across this list of the best freshmen in the nation thus far and I have to say it is not too shabby. Kentucky had what many considered the nations best incoming freshman class and they have the two players atop the list. Interestingly enough, while Anthony Davis gets more press due to his tremendous upside, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist claimed the top spot.

Having watched the Wildcats quite a bit, it is incredibly difficult to disagree. Anthony Davis has provided a huge impact for the Wildcats as a double-double machine and the nations leader in blocked shots. It is hard to ask for more from a first year player, but I think Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been the teams most important player. It seems that the bigger the game, the bigger the performance for Kidd-Gilchrist. In the Wildcats four games against teams currently in the AP Top 25, the man affectionately known as MKG has averaged 17.8 ppg and 12 rpg.

He plays with incredible energy and is displaying leadership qualities far beyond his years. While Davis' shot blocking gets him a great deal of notoriety, Kidd-Gilchrist is a different type of defender but every bit as crucial to his teams success. I have to agree that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been the best freshman in college basketball this season. Anthony Davis may still be a higher draft pick, but Kidd-Gilchrist looks like a special player in his own right.

01/09/2012 - 3:06pm

One might think the return of Jim Calhoun would spark a resurgence in a #8 Connecticut Huskies squad filled with talent. Well, on Saturday, Rutgers made sure that did not happen with a 67-60 win at the Louis Brown Center in Piscataway, New Jersey. With this loss and a previous game loss to Seton Hall, it is the first time since 1969 that the Huskies have lost to both Jersey schools in the same season. Jim Calhoun, making his return to the sidelines after a NCAA mandated three game suspension, was clearly underwhelmed with his teams performance.

"We weren't very well-prepared to play basketball the last two games," Calhoun said. "I came back for two, three days and it hasn't made any difference. I am incredibly disappointed in how we're playing right now. We're not in sync right now."

The Huskies are now 2-2 in conference, marred by too many mistakes and a lot of inconsistency. Andre Drummond had a double-double in the Rutgers contest with 10 points and 12 rebounds, but also had 7 turnovers. Drummond had a monstrous dunk that highlighted his enormous potential and athleticism. At the same time, he saw two of his passes from the post fly into the stands, showing that he has not necessarily harnessed it.

This was not Rutgers first upset of a Top 25 squad at home, as the Scarlet Knights beat Florida as well. Talented freshman guards Eli Carter and Myles Mack lead the way for the Jersey school, while coach Mike Rice Jr. is trying to turn the program around. Rutgers claimed their first Big East win this season and will get a nice road contest against a Pitt squad yet to get a conference win on Wednesday.

01/09/2012 - 3:04pm

Frank Martin is certainly looking like a NCAA Coach of the Year candidate to me, as his K-State Wildcats handed the Missouri Tigers a convincing 75-59 loss. It was the Tigers first loss of the year, to a Kansas State team with fairly low expectations going into this season. The Wildcats dominated the contest defensively, with a 36-22 rebounding advantage while holding the Tigers to 32.7% FG.

Rodney McGruder and Will Spradling showed they could compete with the guards of Missouri, getting 20 and 14 points respectively. Missouri had a big issue with foul trouble, limiting Ricardo Ratliffe to only 14 minutes with only a single basket and rebound. This was a game in Manhattan, Kansas, but a big time home win for Kansas State who is looking like a sure fire tourney team with a chance to make some noise in the Big 12.

01/09/2012 - 3:02pm

Lately, I have been noticing a few people on the Message Boards saying, "When will West Virginia get some love?". Well, I have tried to give them some for some solid early season play, but they earned a whole lot by ending Georgetown's 11 game win streak with a 74-62 victory. WVU senior guard Truck Bryant had a game high 25 points, upping his impressive average on the year to 18.4 ppg.

The real story for the Mountaineers this season has been the play of another senior, Kevin Jones. The burly PF put up yet another impressive performance with 22 points and 16 rebounds to punish the Hoyas. He is averaging 19.8 ppg and 11.9 rpg, which certainly has him at the top of the running for Big East Player of the Year at the moment. Jones development from freshman to senior year has been impressive and he has definitely made NBA scouts take notice with his improved rebounding and low post game that has come with a big time addition of strength.

01/09/2012 - 3:00pm

This was yet another case of a top 25 team getting upset in a road contest, but I also wanted to give some love to an Arkansas team that seems to be playing some solid basketball. Mike Anderson left Missouri to take the head coaching job for the Razorbacks and is developing a similar stable of rapid fire guards. This became omnipresent in Arkansas' 98-88 SEC opening win over Mississippi State.

Junior Julysses Nobles and freshman BJ Young each scored 24 points. Nobles chipped in 7 assists, while Young shot 10-13 FG in only 23 minutes off of the bench. The Razorbacks are also missing a big piece of the team in Marshawn Powell, a forward who was averaging 19.5 ppg before succumbing to a season ending knee injury. The Razorbacks are 12-3 and getting a win over a Top 25 team in conference definitely will help their NCAA Tournament resume.

01/09/2012 - 2:59pm

So what is RPI?

Well, it is the "Ratings Percentage Index", used by the NCAA to aide in selecting teams and seedings for the NCAA Tournament. RPI is made up of a team's winning percentage (25%), its opponents' winning percentage (50%), and the winning percentage of those opponents' opponents (25%). In 2004 the RPI was modified to account for differences in home and away games. A home win counts as 0.6 win, while a road win counts as 1.4 wins. Conversely, a home loss equals 1.4 losses, while a road loss counts as 0.6 loss. Thank you!

RPI is not the only thing that decides seeding in the NCAA tournament, but it definitely helps teams on the fringe or bubble. Syracuse, the nations #1 team, also currently has the highest RPI as they have rolled through even solid competition. Seton Hall, another Big East team, ranks second. Does this mean RPI runner-up Seton Hall will also be a #1 seed if the tournament started today? Probably not, but it would certainly give them a chance at a top 6 seed in any of the four regions, even with them not being ranked in either top 25 poll.

Still, these are not the final RPI rankings, but they give you an idea of how teams have done up to this point. Also, they give a projected strength of schedule to show how the rest of the season might effect where they stand in later RPI rankings.

01/09/2012 - 2:57pm

The Arizona State Sun Devils have had a tough year and are off to a 5-10 start this season. To make matters worse, Herb Sendek decided to dismiss sophomore Keala King from the team following an earlier suspension for "unacceptable conduct". The 6'4 former Mater Dei product was leading the team in scoring with 13.7 ppg.

He also was delegated to running the point due to freshman Jahii Carson being declared academically ineligible. King had butted heads with Sendek previously and seemed set to transfer, but decided to stick it out. One has to wonder whether Herb might be the next dismissal if the Sun Devils can't turn things around.

01/09/2012 - 2:55pm

Dundrecous Nelson was dismissed from the Ole Miss basketball program on Thursday after being arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia less than 48 hours earlier. The 5'11 sophomore was leading the team in scoring at 11.6 ppg and was a big part of running the Rebels offense. Coach Andy Kennedy was searching for leadership even with Nelson on the team for the 10-5 Rebs. Looks like SEC play just got a lot tougher for this Ole Miss team.

01/09/2012 - 1:51pm

Michael Jordan's eldest son, Jeff, has decided to leave the University of Central Florida basketball team, citing personal reasons. Jeff Jordan had previously played on Illinois and transferred to UCF, playing with his younger brother Marcus. The younger Jordan leads UCF in scoring, averaging 17.2 ppg this year as a junior. Jeff had seen his role diminish slightly since the reinstatement of PG AJ Rompza into the Knights line-up. Nonetheless, the elder Jordan had been a key bench player for UCF and averaged 2.7 ppg in 21.2 mpg through 13 games. Has to be tough to be Michael Jordan's son, wish Jeff the best in whatever he decides is the next step.