Category Archives: College Basketball

The Bluegrass Will Run Red on Saturday!

For all of the sports viewing I do over the course of a year, in all honesty, my year revolves around one day.  In 2012, that day just happens to be this coming Saturday, December 29.  That’s the day my University of Louisville Cardinals will do battle with the University of Kentucky Wildcats on the hardwood.

For the uninitiated, all you need to know is that Battle for the Bluegrass is the nastiest rivalry in College Basketball; if not in any sport.  In a day and age where most rivalries now consist of some sarcastic jabbing back and forth between fan bases; and a lot of post game hugs amongst the players, UofL/UK is a bona fide bloodbath.  This rivalry ends relationships, and divides families..permanently.

This isn’t just a basketball rivalry.  This is a rivalry rooted in the belief by many Kentucky fans that not only are Louisville basketball fans inferior; but that the city, the university, and anything associated with the word Louisville is inferior.  If you want to experience a little taste, just search the hash tag #Louisvillehateweek on twitter.  You’ll quickly gain an understanding.

There’s no arguing that historically, Kentucky has dominated the series.  Although the fact that they refused to play Louisville from 1959-1983 certainly helped.  I’m quite certain that the Cardinals would’ve snagged their fair share of wins during that time; particularly during the first decade of Denny Crum’s era.  Be that as it may, the Cards and Cats are getting ready to exchange hay-makers this Saturday at in Louisville.

This season, the Wildcats find themselves in the rare position of being the underdog.  In no way do I think that will make this any easier.  In fact, it may add an extra bit of nastiness to the Cats.  John Calipari’s group of youngsters hasn’t displayed the kind of instant dominance that his previous teams have, so I wouldn’t be shocked if they come in a bit edgy.

This game is what College Basketball is all about.  Both teams are rich in tradition and success.  Both teams are talented.  Both teams are going to push the pace.  Both teams are going to try and tear each other’s throats out.  What could be better than that?

Kentucky is once again comprised of a group of highly rated frosh, hanging out, waiting for the NBA Draft.  Nerlens Noel hasn’t been Anthony Davis, but he has been solid.  Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress have displayed some electricity.  However, the Cats will need to answer a few questions to win on Saturday.  Will their sketchy guard play handle the constant pressure the Cardinals bring?  Will they get enough open looks to punish Louisville from the arc?  And, will they run out of gas due to their woefully thin bench?

Louisville is a talented mix of youth and experience.  In an era which identifies player “development” as recruiting NBA ready players, and getting them drafted; Coach Pitino has done an excellent job actually cultivating players.  Russ Smith and Gorgui Dieng are the poster children for true player development; and both will be key as usual for the Cards.

If you watch for no other reason, it should be to check out “Russdiculous” and Gorgui.  Neither kid was heavily recruited; and Rick has molded them both from raw basketball materials, into elite college ballers.  No player in the country makes you go from pulling your hair out, to making your jaw drop faster than Russ Smith.  Gorgui learns and applies something new every single time he steps on the floor.  These two kids are a joy to watch.

Despite the fact that U of L is highly ranked, and widely considered a Final Four contender, they’ll need to answer some questions of their own this weekend.  Will being the favorite be too big for them?  Will the other guys provide Russ and Peyton Siva enough offensive support?  And will Gorgui be healthy enough to offset the size advantage UK has in the paint with Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein?

All of those questions are completely basketball related.  I have other questions.  Who will throw the first inadvertent/intentional, message sending elbow?  And what’s the over/under on technical/flagrant fouls?

I’d be lying if I said this isn’t the most important game of the season for myself and 99% of U of L fans out there.  UK fans would be lying if they said that a loss to the Cards doesn’t ruin their year; or at very least, significantly deflate their over inflated egos.

The Bluegrass State is going to turn into a sea of red on Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center.  If you have a pulse, and consider yourself even a marginal sports fan, do yourself a favor.  Get in front of a TV at 4p Saturday afternoon, flip the channel to CBS, and take in this rivalry.  I can assure you, the Cards and Cats will not disappoint.

Akron Beats Kent State (Again) – Advances to Sixth Straight MAC Title Game

by Ryan Isley

Old habits are hard to break.

On Friday night, the Akron Zips repeated two habits of the positive variety – beating Kent State and advancing to the Mid-American Conference championship game.

With their 78-74 win over Kent State on Friday night in the Mid-American Conference tournament semifinals, the Zips defeated their rival for the fourth consecutive game – three times this season – and advanced to their sixth straight conference championship game.

“We played these guys three times – there’s no secrets between us,” Akron forward Nikola Cventinovic said. “We know what they do and they know what we do. It ultimately comes down to the grind – that’s the bottom line.”

Leading into this game, Kent State guard Michael Porrini promised that Akron would not beat Kent State three times this season. Those words did not fall on deaf ears when it came to the Akron players.

Continue reading Akron Beats Kent State (Again) – Advances to Sixth Straight MAC Title Game

Kent State Gets Another Shot at Akron After Beating Western Michigan

by Ryan Isley

We don’t always get what we want, but the Kent State Golden Flashes are about to get exactly what they wanted – a third shot at Akron. It is a game that Kent State guard Michael Porrini has been waiting for since the Zips beat Kent State last Friday in Kent to wrap up the Mid-American Conference.

“We have a game Thursday, but I’m ready for Friday,” Porrini said that night. “I’m ready for Friday right now. We’ll see them again on Friday. We are not going to lose three times in a row. I promise that.”

Kent State made Porrini out to be a prophet – at least on the first part of his comment – by beating Western Michigan 76-72 Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the MAC tournament to set up a third meeting between the Golden Flashes and the Zips Friday night in the semifinals.

While Porrini was the one who made the comments, it was one of his teammates who had a rough go of it against Akron who made sure the Golden Flashes would get that third shot at Akron. Justin Greene – who took full blame for the Kent State loss to Akron – bounced back from a 2-for-10 game in which he scored just eight points against the Zips to score 23 points on Thursday night.

Continue reading Kent State Gets Another Shot at Akron After Beating Western Michigan

The Big Ten’s Unpredictable Basketball Season

As the month of January is moving closer to an end, the Big Ten’s 18-game conference schedule is now one-third complete and totally up for grabs. For some teams, it comes as a relief while others will look to extend their great records.

Overall, it’s been a great season so far for many of the conference’s teams. This week, the Big Ten grabbed the No. 1 spot in the RPI conference ratings with nine Big Ten schools in the RPI’s top-50 team rankings.

Additional national recognition has five schools in this week’s AP poll: No. 6 Ohio State, No. 9 Michigan State, No. 11 Indiana, No. 20 Michigan and No. 22 Illinois.

Not too shabby. Continue reading The Big Ten’s Unpredictable Basketball Season

Indiana Upsets Kentucky: Are the Hoosiers for Real?

On Saturday, Dec. 10, the Indiana Hoosiers upset No. 1 Kentucky 73-72. It was quite an upset but for some reason, it didn’t come as a surprise to me.

With 5.6 seconds left and behind by two points, the Hoosiers huddled and put together a play that they hoped would get the team to a tie. It was better than that with a successful three-pointer by Indiana’s Christian Watford at the buzzer.

Unfortunately ESPN initially showed a 75-70 score at the buzzer for a Kentucky win. If you were watching the game without sound like we were, there was a moment of confusion. But we all knew Indiana won based on the fans’ reactions. Continue reading Indiana Upsets Kentucky: Are the Hoosiers for Real?

Big Ten Wins Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Again.

After two evenings of play, the Big Ten’s 8-4 record was good enough for them to defeat the ACC in the annual Big Ten/ACC Basketball Challenge. This was the third consecutive year that the Big Ten grabbed the Challenge Title.

Another record for the Big Ten conference was this year’s four road wins in the Challenge.

Congratulations!

Not all of the games were interesting but after seeing some wins and losses, here’s a few thoughts on this year’s Big Ten basketball teams.  Continue reading Big Ten Wins Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Again.