Even Tom Izzo had to admit the top of the Big Ten isn’t all that strong. “This year, there’s no question that it’s been Wisconsin and the rest,” he told me yesterday. “Maryland is now proving to be in that class. But the strength at the top isn’t as good as last year or some of the other conferences.” For that reason, the conference as a whole has dipped considerably this season.
When do 60 seconds last 10 minutes? Unfortunately, this isn’t a riddle. The answer is “the end of a close college basketball game.” A parade of replay reviews, timeouts, and free throws can turn what should be an exciting finish into a mind-numbing crawl. The game needs fixing, but coaches don’t recognize that it’s broken.
I spoke with more than 10 coaches this past week about the final minute of close games and found a near-unanimous approval of the status quo as it relates to replay reviews and timeouts. Only one voiced dissent about replays (perhaps not coincidentally, the lone assistant interviewed) and just one other would be in favor of fewer timeouts.
Steve and I talk about the final “meaningless” rankings: How in the heck is Florida State No. 4? Which teams are still alive for a playoff spot? How will championship week play out? The podcast is packed with everything you’ll want to know before this weekend’s games. If you mention the show on Twitter or Facebook, or send me a question or comment via email, you’ll get a special shoutout on the next podcast.
I also want to share a couple of college basketball stories I’ve written. One is a feature on Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, which was published in the latest issue of Basketball Times. You probably remember his name from the résumé scandal last spring. I spoke to Masiello, his current and former players, several of the school’s administrators, and others outside of the program who are familiar with the situation to get an idea of how Manhattan went about taking him back and what it means for the school. The other story is much shorter, though it deals with tall players: Kentucky’s basketball team, which may be the tallest in college hoops history and can match up with any NBA team. It appeared in TheWall Street Journal last week.
Brian Kahn, Lee Joffe, and I preview the season with a discussion of what makes college hoops great, how it could be improved, and which teams to watch in 2014-15. As we’ve done for many years, we share our Final Four predictions.
Steve and I recap Saturday’s big games, including Mississippi State’s first loss, Melvin Gordon’s huge day (and pro potential), and the effectiveness of icing the kicker. Smokey, Tennessee’s mascot, is also discussed.
Tomorrow, be on the lookout for a college basketball podcast in which my guests and I discuss last night’s Champions Classic and make our predictions for the season. It should be a fun and informative listen. Speaking of college hoops, I wrote a story yesterday for CBS Local on Kentucky’s chances of an undefeated season and whether they could beat an NBA team. My sources include coaches who have worked at both the college and pro levels.
Creighton is struggling in its first season without superstar Doug McDermott. Can the program bounce back? To find out, I talked to coaches and ADs at various schools that once had a transcendent player, like Davidson (Steph Curry) and St. Joe’s (Jameer Nelson).