The University of Connecticut basketball coach, 70 year old Jim Calhoun is expected to announce his retirement on Thursday. He will be replaced by Assistant Coach Kevin Ollie. UConn has been ruled ineligible for the tournament next season due to poor grades. Many players have either moved onto the NBA or switched schools. I have been a UConn fan for as long as I can remember and whenever I think of the Huskies, I think Jim Calhoun. Although he has missed many games over the past few years due to cancer and other injuries/illnesses, the guy could still coach. He won 3 national titles with the school during his tenure.
Calhoun retires with 875 wins and 381 losses in 39 years of coaching. That is enough to put him 10th on the all time winning list for college head coaches. He has won seven Big East Tournament Championships. He has been in the Basketball Hall of Fame since 2005. In 2011, he became the oldest coach to win a Division 1 March Madness Championship. He retires with a record of 50-19 in NCAA tournaments. He will go down as one of the greatest coaches of all time, and will surely be missed by all who loved watching him coach.
Since UConn has been my favorite team since I can remember, I figured it would be a good idea to write an article since everyone is talking about their back-to-back wins, just as they did last year en route to a national championship. They ran over Depaul, which they should every day of the week, and then barely snuck by West Virginia yesterday in overtime. This was due largely in part to Shabazz Napier’s 26 points and Jeremy Lamb’s 22 points. Luckily for the Huskies, WVU only shot 34.7% from the field. They did, however, out-rebound UConn 40-24.
Next up is their toughest test. They will be taking on #1 in the Big East Syracuse. Syracuse has been chosen by many, including me, to win the Final Four. As much as I do not think UConn can beat the Orange, I will not count them out completely because I began to do that last year and we all know how that turned out. At the beginning of February, UConn got blown out of the water by them 85-67. However, by the end of the month, they only lost to them 71-69. I think it is possible for them to stir up an upset but is going to be tough. I mean this is the same team who has lost against Providence and Rutgers, both awful teams. Maybe we will be lucky enough to see another 5 overtime game like last season. Unfortunately, the Huskies are missing one key component from last year’s team—Kemba Walker.
With the Big East Tournament beginning yesterday, there are still a few big east teams that are on the NCAA Tournament bubble. South Florida finished the season with a Big East record of 12-6 and an overall record of 19-12. The Bulls have many things working in their favor as they enter the Big East Tournament. Their strength of schedule is 29th in the NCAA and their current RPI is 44. Their home loss to West Virginia on Saturday may prove to be a big one being it was their 9th loss to an RPI top 50 school. With their 1-9 record against the RPI top 50 this season the Bulls will most likely need a somewhat deep run in the Big East Tournament to prove to the selection committee that they are worthy of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. After VCU’s potential bid steal Monday night in the CAA Championship, Joe Lunardi has the Bulls ranked as one of the thirteen teams fighting for 24 bubble spots on his S-Curve of potential tournament teams. This ranking could change barring an early exit from the Big East Tournament or other stolen bids from mid major schools.
The Pirates of Seton Hall are another Big East team that will most likely have their fate decided by the selection committee on Selection Sunday. Seton Hall finished the season with an 8-10 record in the Big East and a 19-11 record overall. Coming off of their big overtime win against Georgetown, with a record of 19-9 and two sub five hundred opponents in Rutgers and DePaul left on the schedule, the Pirates looked to be a lock for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. However, after losing to Rutgers 77-72 in overtime and getting manhandled by DePaul 86-58, they find themselves back in the bubble talk. With an RPI of 56 and strength of schedule of 58 the Pirates will most likely need to wins a couple games in the Big East Tournament. However, big conference wins against Connecticut, West Virginia, and Georgetown will certainly help their chances of making the tournament. Currently, Joe Lunardi has Seton Hall as one of his last four teams into the field who will play March 13 and 14 in the opening rounds in Dayton, Ohio. The Pirates took a step in the right direction with their convincing 79-47 win over Providence in the first round of the Big East Tournament last night.
The third major bubble team from the Big East Conference is the Connecticut Huskies. The Huskies started the year ranked number 4 in the nation and with the talent that they possess on both sides of the ball they have truly underperformed. The Huskies finished with a record of 8-10 in the Big East and 18-12 overall. The Huskies have some work to do in the Big East Tournament to strengthen their resume for the selection committee. They are on the right track with a big win against the Pittsburgh Panthers on Saturday and an easy victory over DePaul in the first round of the Big East Tournament. Other things that strengthen UConn’s tournament chances are their RPI rank of 33 and there Strength of Schedule rank of number 1 in the country. The Huskies will play West Virginia at noon today in the second round of the Big East Tournament, and a win in this game should pretty much lock up an at-large bid.
According to Joe Lunardi, there are currently six Big East teams that are locks to make the tournament. These teams include Syracuse, Marquette, Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Cincinnati. West Virginia is not a lock in Lunardi’s mind, but he also does not feel that they are a bubble team, being ranked 39th on the S-Curve of potential tournament teams
Just as I expected, #2 Syracuse toppled UConn by double digits, while Senior Guard Scoop Jardine managed to score 21 points against the Calhoun-less Huskies. #4 Mizzou also beat #6 Baylor, while #5 UNC ran right over #20 Virginia, and #16 UNLV upset #14 San Diego State. Unfortunately, I was wrong about one game, and that was when #3 Ohio State was upset by defensive-minded #12 Michigan State.
#7 Florida was also upset against unranked Tennessee by 5 points. #15 Creighton lost their third straight game Saturday against Wichata State. You can guarantee that they will not see the top 25 come Monday morning.
Games to watch for this week:
#2 Syracuse vs. #23 Louisville (Monday @ 7)
#5 UNC vs. Miami (Wednesday @ 8) Miami beat Duke last week #12 Michigan State vs. #22 Wisconsin (Thursday @ 7)
Another big weekend in college basketball begins Saturday (once again, omitting Harvard’s game on Friday). My favorite team, UConn, will face #2 Syracuse and almost definitely lose by double digits. #4 Missouri will host #6 Baylor in a Big 12 showdown at 1:30. #5 UNC will try to avenge their last loss when they welcome #20 Virginia to Chapel Hill. #3 Ohio State will play #12 Michigan State, while #14 San Diego State plays #16 UNLV.
Predictions Syracuse over Uconn (Still my favorite)
Mizzou over Baylor (Baylor got smoked against Kansas)
UNC over Virginia (hate them but they are home)
Ohio State over Michigan State (Still think Ohio St. has a chance of winning it all)
UNLV over SD State (Could go either way but I’ll go with the home team)
Kentucky, Missouri, Murray State, Syracuse, Duke, Baylor, & UNC all won with ease this weekend solidifying their spots in the top 10 for at least one more week. #5 Kansaslost by 8 against unranked Iowa State, which is their first loss in the Big 12 this season. Pittsburgh beat #10 Georgetown in which I predicted would be a tough game as always. #19 UConn continued to struggle against Notre Dame on Sunday. Lastly, #3 Ohio State beat #22 Michigan in a battle of the Big Ten.
We all know about the Oregon Ducks and their uniforms that change every week. Now Nike has released a new Platinum line for 9 powerhouse basketball teams (both men and womens? because everyone cares about that) . The teams that were chosen to wear the Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms are Arizona, UConn, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina and Syracuse men and the Baylor and UConn women. Being a big UConn fan, I like the idea of changing it up, maybe they can play better too! On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind seeing UNC and Duke lose in those colors, or any colors for that matter. These jerseys will debut on Sunday when UConn plays Notre Dame. Each teams jersey has a little bit different coloring, but for the most part look the same.
A little over a month ago, I took a poll to see who everyone thought the MVP of college basketball was. Jarred Sullinger received the most votes, with Perry Jones III came in second. I thought it would be fun to take it again to see how players have grown (or fell off). I used the same exact players that I did a month ago, with updated stats and ranks. I think that many things have changed since the last poll. UConn completely fell off and I don’t see Jeremy Lamb as being a top 5 player anymore. Even though Kansas has lost 3 games, they are still one of the top teams thanks to their superstar Thomas Robinson, who averages a double-double and is a beast on both ends of the floor.
Just about everyone’s stats have dropped off a bit, but that is to be expected with the heart of the season playing out. So who do you guys think is the MVP of the league so far, just over halfway through the season?
Tough weekend for top teams as #1 Syracuse was handed their first loss by unranked Notre Dame. This loss means that only #10 Murray State is undefeated in the top 25. #3 Baylor was handed their second loss in as many games in a one point battle against #5 Missouri (their other loss was last Monday against #7 Kansas), so chances are they will still be top ten or at the very least top thirteen.
Florida State is quickly becoming my favorite team with victories over my two least favorite teams (Buzzer beater 3 pointer over #4 Duke this weekend, and over #3 North Carolina last weekend)
#7 Kansas barely snuck by unranked texas with a 3 point win over the Long Horns. Unfortunately for any Husky fans (like myself) #11 UConn was handed their fifth loss by a sub-par and sub-.500 Tennessee team
Getting a little off topic, I hope everyone enjoyed their break and is ready to see Boston Sports Blog do big things and I hope you all keep up with us, as we will try to bring you the best of the sports world every day.
For those of you too focused on the NFL playoffs this weekend, you missed a pretty good weekend in college basketball. #5 Ohio State defeated #8 Indiana in a battle of the Big Ten powerhouses. #6 Duke came back against unranked Clemson to upset them late in the second half. More importantly, #3 UNC got smoked by 33 points against unranked Florida State (FSU). I only put that because we all know what FSU stands for and thats exactly what they did. #16 UConn handed Notre Dame their first home loss in 29 games, and #1 Syracuse and #2 Kentucky both held on to keep their top rankings in tact.
#1 Syracuse looks to stay perfect against unranked Pittsburgh tonight in a battle of the Big East. Another good game to watch for those of you who don’t wanna watch the Bruins win and the Celtics lose, is #4 Baylor vs. #10 Kansas, where Baylor looks to stay undefeated in a conference battle.