Tag Archive: Duke


ACC/Big Ten Challenge


As a fan of the Big Ten the ACC/Big Ten Challenge is something I strongly look forward to each year! It gives me some perspective on how tough the Big Ten will be in their out of conference play and also gives me something to look forward to when conference play begins. 

 

It’s a well known fact that the ACC has dominated this challenge. Winning 10 out of the 12 challenges.  The Big Ten’s only two victories have been won by only a single game and have taken place the last two seasons (2009-10 and 2010-11).  This is the first season where this challenge could end in a tie (12 games will be played between the two conferences. Six on November 29th and six more on November 30th). 

I’m going to lay out my picks for the ACC/Big Ten matchups game by game and add some notes for games I think are bigger and that will be of more interest to viewers. 

Date/Time

Away

Home

Victor

Record(s)

11/29/11 7pm EST

Michigan

Virginia

Michigan

Big Ten 1-0

11/29/11 7:15pm

Northwestern

Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech

Tied 1-1

11/29/11 7:30pm

Illinois

Maryland

Maryland

ACC 2-1

11/29/11 9pm

Miami

Purdue

Purdue

Tied 2-2

11/29/11 9:15pm

Clemson

Iowa

Clemson

ACC 3-2

11/29/11 9:30pm

Duke

Ohio State

Ohio State

Tied 3-3

11/30/11 7:15pm

Indiana

NC State

Indiana

Big Ten 4-3

11/30/11 7:15pm

Penn State

Boston College

Boston College

Tied 4-4

11/30/11 7:30pm

Florida State

Michigan State

Michigan State

Big Ten 5-4

11/30/11 9:15pm

Virginia Tech

Minnesota

Virginia Tech

Tied 5-5

11/30/11 9:15pm

Wake Forest

Nebraska

Nebraska

Big Ten 6-5

11/30/11 9:30pm

Wisconsin

North Carolina

North Carolina

Tied 6-6

I strongly believe this season’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge will end in a draw.

Games of Note:

Michigan @ Virginia. I think this will be Michigan’s chance to show the nation what they’re made of this year.

Duke @ Ohio State. This will be a great game to watch no matter who the victor is.  I think Sullinger will be a handfull down low in the paint and will also have a dominating presence on the defensive end of the floor and lead the Buckeyes to victory.

Florida State @ Michigan State. The Spartans will win in a close matchup but will have the opportunity to prove all the doubters wrong about projected misfortunes this season.

Wisconsin @ North Carolina. Not many people see North Carolina losing a game this year. I project NC to win with the help of home court advantage but it’ll be a close game regardless. Don’t be surprised if the Badgers and Bo Ryan pull off the upset. 

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Being an Indiana boy and naturally hating Duke I fell in love with the Butler Bulldogs once my top two favorite teams were knocked out of the big dance (Kansas Jayhawks and Purdue Boilermakers).  I admit that it was just a love affair with the Bulldogs.  I never really invested much into Butler but found myself none the less rooting for them in the national championship game.  It’s no lie that Gordon Hayward was their team leader and helped them to their surprising runner up finish in the 2009-2010 season.  So, it is that much of a surprise to the Bulldog’s rocky start in the 2010-2011 season?

Not at all.  Last years team was same George Mason team that made it to the final four a few years back.  Coming out of the Horizon League I really didn’t know much about Butler and had them losing in the sweet sixteen.  I know my Indiana boys can play some ball but I’m not that confident in my small town schools, yet.  However, I don’t think the Bulldogs are suffering from the hangover from their title run just a season ago.  I think their early season struggles are due more in part to the departure of the sophomore stud Gordon Hayward.  He was the staple and glue of the team last season.

I’m not knocking Butler or giving up on them. I’m simply putting their season into perspective.  Their preseason ranking at #18 in the country I thought was a little ridiculous.  ESPN had to know they were wrong.  They probably just felt obligated to put the runner up in the top 25, the only problem I have with ESPN.  I’m not totally surprised by Butler’s rocky start but I still think the Bulldogs will start playing much better come conference play.

3 of Butler’s 4 losses come to solid teams; Louisville, #1 Duke, and Xavier.  After an impressive victory against Washington State I see a bright future for the Bulldogs.  Do I think they’re going back to replay Duke in the National Championship game? Not at all.  But I think the Bulldogs are making their way back into Horizon League champ form.  Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack need to step up and I think they showed their ability to do so this past weekend in Hawaii in the Diamond Head Classic tournament.  This, to me, is an important step before entering conference play coming up soon this coming week.  Some more good news for the Bulldogs is that Zach Hahn started hitting some big shots in their victory over Washington State Saturday night.

Personally, I don’t see Butler making another Cinderella run.  But, I can see them competing with Valparaiso for the Horizon League Championship.  And with Butler’s rocky start, winning the Horizon League is the only way I see them making the big dance come March.  Butler has a solid team and some very good athletes but, I don’t really consider them to be “back” with the big dogs and don’t really feel like they ever were “with” the big dogs.  I expect big things from the Bulldogs but think it would be completely unrealistic to expect to seem them back in the National Title game…..

Josh Selby a Hero?


Josh Selby came up big in his debut again USC scoring 21 points.  Selby is the second highest scoring freshman in Kansas history. Xavier Henry scored 27 against Hofstra last season in his debut.  To continue the history lesson, Wilt Chamberlain put up 52 big ones in his debut but was a sophomore.  It’s no lie that Kansas fans love Josh Selby but does he really deserve all the praise he’s receiving?

I’ll let it be known that I love Kansas basketball.  When I was little, probably six or seven years old, I saw them play on television and thought their mascot was cool and became an immediate fan.  Since then my two favorite teams have been Purdue and Kansas, respectively.  In all my posts I will do my best to not be biased in any way.  So far I’ve done a post on Duke, who I despise with all my heart, and feel like I did a good job at not being biased.  With that said I will now address whether or not Selby deserves all the hype and praise.

It’s hard to deny the fact that Selby had an outstanding performance in his debut.  He put up 21 points, pulled in 5 boards(all defensive), and had 1 assist.  What’s most impressive about Selby’s performance are his 5 triples including the go ahead 3 he hit with 26 seconds to go in the game.  He was also 6 of 7 from the free throw line.  For all the mathematically challenged that means all of Selby’s points came from the charity stripe and from behind the arc, no 2-pointers.  Only seeing him play once isn’t enough to make an educated guess as to whether or not this will be a problem or that it’s a flaw in his game.  However, at this stage I’m not concerned by him not hitting any 2-pointers.

I was very surprised with Selby’s poise throughout the game.  The first time he touched the ball he turned it over but was absolutely amazing from there on out.  He went on to hit 2 consecutive 3’s and had 10 points at halftime, which led the team.  Kansas fans were definitely pleased with their freshman phenom’s debut up to that point.  If they only knew how much more happy he would make them.  For those of you who do not know why this was Selby’s debut he was suspended by the NCAA 9 games for accepting impermissible benefits.  I said it in my Duke post that Kansas thus far has been the only consistent team that I think would give Duke a run for their money this point in the season and that was before Selby was in the lineup but, they needed Selby more than ever today.

I also want to point out USC’s effort today. I still think Kansas is a very solid team and I don’t see them losing anytime soon.  Hats off to the Trojans.  They played a terrific game and with a few bounces of the ball the other way they walk away with the victory.  Kansas is now 10-0 (1-0 with Selby playing) and ranked #3 in the nation.  If they continue playing the way they have I can see them moving up to the #2 spot once conference play starts (I’ll talk about #2 Ohio State in a post very soon to come).  It’s very apparent that Josh Selby is the player he was projected to be (most highschool recruiting sites had him ranked as the top recruit for this freshman class).  I wouldn’t say he “saved” the Jayhawks today but he definitely hit shots when they needed him to to help catapult the Jayhawks to another win.

So, is Josh Selby a hero? Does he deserve all the hype and praise? I definitely think he deserves all the hype, he showcased his talents and abilities today and put on a very convincing performance.  I look forward to watching this diaper dandy throughout the rest of the season. For his performance today I would say he does deserve the praise.  Here’s a kid who made an honest mistake, paid the price, and was able to hold his emotions in check and put up 21 points and hit the game winning shot.  Is he a hero? For the time being he’ll be whatever Kansas fans want him to be.  If they consider him a hero for his showing today then so be it.  I personally think it’s too soon to say and I said earlier that I don’t think he “saved” the Jayhawks today.  But, who am I to take away this Kid’s amazing day and whatever praise that may come with it…

Duke Blue Devils


Many of my friends have asked me what’s most surprising about this years college basketball season so far.  Two things that have really surprised me are the Duke Blue Devils(10-0) and The San Diego State Aztecs(10-0).  I’ll talk about the Aztecs in a later post after I’m able to watch them and read up on them a bit more.  Duke so far has really caught my attention.  Yes, they did win the National Championship last year and I expected them to be good once again this year.  But, I did not expect them to dominate as they have so far this season.  Thus far into the season they have only played two top 10 teams, #4 Kansas State University and #6 Michigan State University (rankings are at the time the game was played), and have blown out every other opponent in very convincing fashion.  They stomped #4 KSU by 14 points and beat #6 MSU only by 5 points.  I’ll admit KSU didn’t bring they’re “A” game that night and looked shell shocked, but I have to give Duke credit, Duke took care of business and came out of that game with a very convincing victory.  Some might look at the score of the MSU game and say, “5 points. That’s not that impressive”.  If you watched that game you know that Duke dominated every facet of the game.  They out-rebounded, out-hustled, and all around out-played the Spartans.  They forced MSU to play their game and in turn Michigan State looked uncomfortable to say the least.

That leads to more questions, what makes Duke so good? How are they able to crush the competition?   Ladies and gentleman, the answer is Kyrie Irving.  Irving, a freshman, leads the team in scoring with 17.4 ppg.  Kyrie Irving is shooting 45% from behind the arc and 90% from the free throw line.  He is also getting to the charity stripe more than any other Duke player.  Coach Mike Krzyzewski changed the offense to make sure Kyrie was the focus point of the offense.  That’s saying a lot considering he has Kyle Singler and the Plumlee brothers (Mason and Miles).  Irving’s talents and skills complement his knowledge of the game perfectly.  This combination allows Irving to make split second decisions and to follow through making very explosive and exciting plays. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils Kyrie suffered a big toe injury and is out indefinitely.  When asked if Kyrie Irving could be out for the season Coach Krzyzewski responded, “He could be, he could be”.

So what does Irving’s injury mean to Dukie nation?  Quite frankly I think Duke fans can rest easy.  With the amount of talent Duke has and a nonthreatening upcoming schedule Duke should be fine.  Nolan Smith, who will be Irving’s replacement, is second on the team in scoring (16.6 ppg).  He’s also shooting 30% from 3-point land and 75% from the free throw line.  Yes, Smith can at times play out of control and isn’t the player that Irving is but he’s a serviceable point guard on a squad that has more scoring threats than some conferences.  Kyle Singler has shown the ability to single handedly take over and win a ball game.  Throw in Nolan Smith, Mason and Miles Plumlee and you still have a solid 4.  Compliment those 4 with Andre Dawkins or Seth Curry and you have a good 6 man rotation.  The only immediate threats I see on Duke’s schedule are Maryland(Jan. 9th), Florida State(Jan. 12th), and Virginia(Jan. 15th).  However, I still think they’ll handle these squads with ease and will continue to prove that they are the #1 team in the nation.  They play Boston College on Jan. 27th and Maryland again on February 2nd.  If Kyrie Irving isn’t back by then the Blue Devils should have enough game experience to be comfortable playing together and should prevail holding on to the top spot in the nation.  If Irving is back by those games I see no chance for any team in the Atlantic Coast Conference(ACC).  Other important games to keep in mind for the Blue Devils are on Feb. 9th and the last game of the year on March 5th against the North Carolina Tar Heels.  Rivalry games always make for good contests and the outcomes are unpredictable.

Just because I think the Blue Devils are the best team in the nation so far doesn’t mean they won’t slip and open up the #1 spot for someone else to take over.  This early in the season the only team I’ve seen play consistent enough to give Duke a run for their money is the Kansas Jayhawks(9-0).