College hoops 105
Our weekly conversation on college hoops could go in several directions.
We could marvel at the incredible rally Duke pulled off at Louisville. The Devils were down 23 with less than 10 minutes to play and outscored the Cardinals 35-10 the rest of the way for a 71-69 win.
We could discuss the issue of reviewing basket interference, a non-reviewable call that allowed LSU to escape Rupp on a last-second tip-in in a thriller over Kentucky.
We could try to dissect the mentality of 18-to-22-year-olds and the emotional roller coaster of a regular season filled with monster games and midweek must-motivates. For example, Duke's early struggles after playing so could on the monster stage of at Virginia last Saturday or UK possibly looking ahead to UT on Saturday or Michigan looking right by Penn State.
We could even examine how the NCAA's NET — the replacement for the RPI — views the Southern Conference as a much better basketball league than the Pac-12. Seriously. There are three SoCon teams — Wofford (27), UNCG (46) and Furman (56) — in the top 60 of the NET. There is exactly one Pac-12 school in the top 60, and that's Washington at 31.
Nope, in honor of LSU and friend of the show and former UTC coach Will Wade, let's look at the nightmare 5s and lower that will make the March mayhem a little more than five weeks from now so head-scratchingly joyous.
Yes, we are a month from So, in viewing said NET, teams ranked lower than 16 would be on the 5 line or lower. Here are five that have shown a lot of ability and monster potential to make a march through March and create some racket on your bracket.
LSU: This is not a prisoner of the moment thing because the Tigers won at Rupp last night. LSU is nasty defensively and has a combination of size and athleticism in the front court that few teams can match. Naz Reid is a grown-bleepin' man friends.
Kansas State: We know that Virginia makes its living by playing lockdown defense. These Wildcats can say the same. They rank fourth in the country in points allowed at 59.5, which is 7.5 fewer than last year. That's a group that has accepted the challenge of being tougher and much better defensively.
Wofford: Around these parts, we know more about Wofford than most of the country. But the reason this bunch is a top-30 NET team and 21-4 overall is because it can really shoot the basketball. Wofford makes 41 percent of its 3s — which is fourth in the nation — and has an effective field goal percentage of 57.1 percent, which is better than Tennessee's.
Auburn: The Tigers are 20th in the NET, which means with a difficult month left, they are swinging between a 5 and a 6 currently. But, be prepared for the "guard play is important in the tournament" talk with Bruce Pearl's bunch because the strength of this team is point guard Jarrod Harper and two-guard Bryce Brown. Plus, Auburn forces a bushel and a peck of turnovers — 18.5 per game, which is second nationally.
Hofstra. Yes, the Fighting' Hoffs may need to win their tournament to get in — they are 51st in NET currently — but they are strong in a very telling stat. Hofstra is third nationally in offensive efficiency. How important is that, well, the top five is Gonzaga, Tennessee, Hofstra, Wofford and UVa. Those five teams are a combined 108-13.
High school football rule changes
OK, I thought this was interesting, and it comes with the caveat that these approvals were done on the national level. The state high school associations like the TSSAA and the GHSA have final say on matters such as these.
But, there are some sneaky huge changes that were approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations Football Rules committee last month. The first one is to change the play clock from 25 seconds to 40 between plays with the following exceptions: The play clock will continue to start at 25 seconds (a) prior to a try following a score, (b) to start a period or overtime series, (c) following administration of an inadvertent whistle, (d) following a charged time-out, (e) following an official's time-out, with a few exceptions, and (f) following the stoppage of the play clock by the referee for any other reason. In all other cases, 40 seconds will be placed on the play clock and start when the ball is declared dead by a game official.
I am for that rule change, if for no other reason than the understandable lack of visible play clocks. Fewer penalties is a good thing for high school football games.
The other one is an addition to Rule 1-3-7 to permit state associations to create instant-replay procedures for state postseason games only.
Yep, here we are. Replays in high school games. That sounds like it would be a nightmare. And have while we appreciate the folks who work diligently to broadcast high school football games on TV, the set-ups I have seen have limited camera angles and not exactly are running a NASA-like set-up in terms of on-field technology.
These details were released by the National Federation of State High School Associations earlier this week. In that release was also this paragraph: "According to the 2017-18 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, 11-player football is the most popular high school sport for boys with 1,036,842 participants in 14,079 schools nationwide. In addition, there were almost 30,000 boys who participated in 6-, 8- and 9-player football, along with approximately 2,500 girls who played the sport for a grand total of 1,068,870."
For comparison, there were 1.11 million playing 11-man football in 2009. That's 75,000 fewer players a decade later.
Show me state of confusion
Missouri coach Barry Odum is miffed that other programs are coming to town to recruit his players.
Missouri, you may remember, was put on probation earlier this year for some issues with a rogue tutor. (And the whole 'rogue' defense is nonsense. Have you ever met a college coach — football or basketball — before? Think of the most controlling mom or boyfriend/girlfriend you have ever seen. Now multiple it by 7. And add 3 more dashes of dominating. That's the starting point for big-time college coaches not named Steve Spurrier or Mark Richt. Everything that happens in those programs, some one knows about and more times than not, the Big Cheese knows too.)
Well, when you are in NCAA timeout, your seniors can leave and go elsewhere.
One of the Tigers best seniors is Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant, who has said that he is not going anywhere.
Among the teams that have chaffed Odum's whistle is Jeremy Pruitt's bunch from Knoxville. Last night at a Missouri function in Kansas City, according to multiple reports, here's what Odum allowed: "Everybody is going to have a bad day. You combine that with somebody that -- who'd we beat 51-17 this year? Tennessee? Yeah, those guys. They are non-stop reaching out daily [saying], 'Hey, come here.' The grass is not always greener somewhere else."
Chill Barry. And no this:
No one can recruit your seniors if you are not on probation my man.
Should make for some lively conversations at today's SEC coaches meeting in Birmingham, huh?
This and that
— OK, our college hoops picks went 2-1 against the number Tuesday with the under 148 in LSU-UK and BC minus-2 hitting and Arlansas minus-1 falling just short. That means we are 16-9-1 against the number this season. That's 64 percent. Entertainment for everyone. We will ride with Minnesota plus-4 at Nebraska. Deal? Deal.
— Yes, we know you UT hoop fans are looking for a taste. We get it. Not exactly a huge game tonight with South Carolina visiting. It's the same South Carolina team that UT blistered less than three weeks ago in Columbia. We think UT wins — the Vols are better — but the 16 feels like too many with a monster date with the Wildcats looming Saturday.
— Man, the Lakers are broken because there simply is no excuse to lose to that Hawks bunch. Quick name a Hawk other than Trae Young. We'll wait. In truth, I can't name more than three — and I watched some of the Lakers-Hawks last night.
— The Westminster Dog Show was lit last night. One, there was official controversy because, well, there can not be any organized competition without someone complaining about the officials or judges. Maybe they will explore expanded replay at the dog show. Wish I was kidding. Then there was this. And watching Gabby fly — and I mean FLY — through the obstacle course at breakneck speed makes the three-cone drills and the shuttle at the NFL Combine look like a Sunday nap. Well-played Gabby. Well-played indeed.
— Speaking of the combine, how much has the draft exploded? (I love the draft. You know this.) Well, the draft is so big now, that the QB-WR portion of the Underwear Olympics that is the combine will be shown on ABC proper. Yes, ABC. Wow.
— Sergio Garcia apologized — saying he's "and emotional player" — for the display that got him DQed. C'mon Sergio, there are a lot of emotional players. You were a childish punk, and if my 11-year-old (or my 8-year-old) pulled those stunts, well, let's just say it would have been tough for them to sit on the car ride home.
Which way Wednesday will start this way:
Which locale will Antonio Brown call home next fall?
Which would you rather watch, NFL combine or a dog show?
Which specific basketball stat equates most directly to wins and loses? (And Spy, if you say scoring margin, then you may get the Sergio Garcia treatment the next time I see you.)
As for today, Feb. 13, Eddie Robinson, the legendary former Grambing coach would have been 100 today.
Randy moss is 42 today. Here's betting he could still compete for a deep ball.
Coach K is 72 today.
Rushmore of 'K' and be creative. Go and remember the mailbag.