Game of the Night: Tulsa at No. 5 Duke (7:00 PM, ESPN2)
Does Thursday represent Conference USA's "last stand" in regards to possibly avoiding the fate of being a one-bid league? Probably not but an upset by Tulsa at Duke would go a long way in giving the conference at least two bids. The Golden Hurricane can give the Blue Devils some trouble inside due to the presence of an NBA-caliber big man in senior Jerome Jordan.
Maryland went into their game at Duke on Saturday with the ability to move ahead of the Blue Devils in the loss column with two games in hand. Well, the Blue Devils made sure to beat those thoughts out of the Terrapins on Mike Krzyzewski's 1,000th game as Duke head coach, jumping out to a 22-8 lead on their way to the 77-56 victory. Jon Scheyer led all scorers with 22 points but he's essentially a known quantity for Duke at this point. The surprising (and somewhat dominant) performance came from the tallest man on the roster.
Evan Turner wasn't necessarily a highlight reel Sunday, but his overall play was instrumental yet again in Ohio State's most recent triumph.
The visiting Buckeyes blasted a pretty good Illinois team riding a five-game winning streak, including a pair of victories over Big Ten heavies Michigan State and Wisconsin.
You can normally tell the magnitude of a game at Duke by how fired up head coach Mike Krzyzewski is, especially when it comes to pumping up the Cameron Crazies. Coming off of a sound defeat at the hands of Georgetown, the Blue Devils needed to respond against a team that had knocked them off earlier in the season and they did just that. In the 83-65 win Kyle Singler hit eight three pointers in scoring 30 points while also grabbing five rebounds, and as a team Duke shot 66.7% (12-18) from behind the arc.
To this point in the season it looks as if the ACC's hoops teams have taken a similar approach to determining who controls the title race that the football teams have in recent years. In other words, there's order in disorder as eight teams are within two games of each other atop the standings. Three games for the conference involve five of those eight teams with the other (North Carolina) desperately needing a win on the road in order to right the ship. The best matchup of those three: Duke hosting Georgia Tech, who won the first meeting in Atlanta 71-67 back on January 9th.
Most of the talk surrounding Connecticut's game against top-ranked Texas focused on the fact that it was a good thing the Huskies ended their three-game losing streak on Wednesday night against St. John's. Few people expected the team, currently being run by George Blaney due to Jim Calhoun's leave of absence, to beat the Longhorns despite playing on campus in front of a frenzied crowd. And about 30 seconds into the second half, when one basket was followed by yet another turnover and Texas hoop to make it 44-34, it looked like the game was definitely headed in that direction.
It's the biggest Saturday of the season thus far in regards to games played with 135 games on the schedule. The afternoon delivers two of the many important contests, with Connecticut visiting Georgetown and Duke taking on Georgia Tech. The Huskies are ranked thirteenth in the polls right now but they lack a headline victory, something that can be attained at the Verizon Center. UConn's "big three" of Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson and Kemba Walker rank among the nation's best when they're on; they key for them is consistency.
Top 10 Players of the Decade
It was a decade of change in college basketball, as the one-and-done stud became the norm and the four-year player became increasingly rare. Both categories though, the vets & the one-and-dones, made a large impact on the game, as players like Hansbrough & Williams piled up awards at the same clip as Anthony & Durant. Here's my take on the Top 10, post your list in the comments section.