Monday Morning Sips: Around College Basketball Nation

Happy Hoosiers

I promise we're going to start writing about (and mercilessly trolling) Texas A&M soon. In the meantime, college basketball stuff. Lots and lots of it.

The biggest story of the weekend in college hoops was the brawl between Cincinnati and Xavier. Recent SB Nation signee Bomani Jones (who is awesome, this was a free agent signing comparable to the Angels getting Albert Pujols) had the best insight in the immediate aftermath, in particular when discussing Mick Cronin's much-lauded post game press conference:

The media loved Cronin's post-game presser, but why? He said all the right things and seemed appropriately embarrassed, but he would lead you to believe he watched this fight on television instead of having the best seat in the house. When the whole team wants to fight, "I was going to call a timeout" rings hollow, especially when the coach floated around the periphery as things got started. If that wasn't enough, for Cronin – the man who gave Lance Stephenson a scholarship – to spin into mentor mode and remind us his players are "here to get an education" is to insult our collective intelligence. They, like Born Ready, are there to play basketball for their coach. When, to a man, their reaction is the same, no amount of clichéd grandstanding or promises of punishment and control could deflect attention from Cronin's gross negligence.

That was written last night, and today Cronin turned out to be all talk and suspended Yancy Gates (sucker punch) and Cheikh Mbodj (stomping on a fallen Xavier player) just six games, four of them guarantee home games against weak mid-majors. At least he's not as big a fraud as Xavier coach Chris Mack, who handed down even lighter suspensions to his violent offenders, including just one game for star Tu Holloway. Holloway should have gotten more than that for his idiotic post-game comments alone.

Indiana hits Buzzer Beater to upset Kentucky (via ESPN)

In any other weekend, this would have been the number one story. Christian Watford cemented himself as an Indiana legend, and has finally brought Hoosier basketball back to national relevance. It took a little longer than many fans hoped, but Tom Crean deserves a lot of credit for staying positive through all the losing and keeping his players confident. Before the season it looked like Northwestern was a bit unlucky only getting to play Indiana once; it's now clear that's a good thing.

Future Northwestern opponent Creighton suffered their first loss of the season at Saint Joseph's on Saturday, thanks in part to this posterization by Ronald Roberts:


Despite the loss, Creighton's Doug McDermott had another monster game with 26 points and 10 rebounds. McDermott is averaging 24 points and 9 rebounds per game and shooting 63% from the field and 60% on threes; he's basically been a better rebounding version of last year's pre-ankle sprain John Shurna. Terrifying.

Speaking of McDermott's, I'm linking to Down With Goldy's preview of the Minnesota-St. Peter's game solely for the Rounders reference.

Ken Pomeroy had an interesting article about Utah's quest to be the worst team in AQ conference history. For those without a KenPom subscription who can't access their team page: it's not pretty. Utah is 1-8 and the only win was by 3 at home over non-D1 San Diego Christian. They're ranked 311th in the country (out of 345), by far the worst for an AQ conference team in KenPom's database. Of note for those like us who love a great name: their best player is named Josh "Jiggy" Watkins. Making things worse for Utah, Jiggy was suspended for their recent loss to Cal State Fullerton for violating team rules: clearly he was mad because someone took his floor seats at the Lakers.

It's lucky for Utah they play in the atrocious Pac-12, a league so bad that Kevin O'Neill's 4-6 USC Trojans, who have averaged 48 points a game in their six losses, are projected to go 7-11 in league play. Former Northwestern assistant Craig Robinson appeared to finally have Oregon State turned around, but his Beavers lost at home on Friday by 14 to Idaho. Personally I'm rooting for the Pac-12 to be bad enough to get only one NCAA bid and for Utah to still go 0-18. I enjoy trainwrecks.

On the other end of the spectrum, Murray State is now a legitimate threat to go undefeated thanks to today's upset at 20th ranked Memphis. The Racers are now 10-0 and the toughest game left on the schedule according to KenPom is a road game against the #181 in the nation Austin Peay Governors, who are currently 2-9 on the season. It would be interesting to see what kind of a seed Murray State would get if they entered the NCAA tournament undefeated: my guess would be somewhere in the #5 to #8 range. Yes, the schedule is that soft.

And finally, in depressing news, Wisconsin got a strong non-conference win at home Saturday against UNLV, thanks to 25 points from Ben Brust. If you remember back a couple years, Brust, a sophomore from Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, nearly committed to Northwestern before deciding on Iowa, re-opened his recruitment after Todd Lickliter was fired, and finally ended up at Wisconsin. Brust is averaging 12 points a game and shooting 50% on threes, and would look extremely good in purple right now. Sigh.

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