Welcome to our new feature: This Week In Hoops. Every Monday morning we’ll take a quick look back at what we learned from the last week of games and a look forward at this week’s slate of games.
What We Learned Last Week
- Villanova, Gonzaga, and Wisconsin were able to confirm that they are top tier teams by winning their respective tournaments. All three beat a solid slate and took home seemingly meaningless trophies, but it’s nice to know they’ll all be as good as we thought.
- Russell Westbrook is good at basketball. We already knew that but it’s great to see him back on the floor. He had 32-8-7 in his return, taking an efficient 17 shots. He’ll be expected to carry the load and keep the Thunder afloat until Kevin Durant returns and that’s much more likely if he plays under control and doesn’t try to do too much.
- Michigan State and Kansas are still figuring things out. Kansas starts so many young players that we knew it would take time. Bill Self should be used to that after his last couple years with Ben McLemore, Andrew Wiggins, and Joel Embiid. We’ve seen flashes from Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre, but it remains to be seen how they’ll assimilate with the upperclassmen Jayhawks. Michigan State lost Adriean Payne, Gary Harris and Keith Appling, so it’s going to be a while before they totally figure themselves out as well. Tom Izzo questioned his team’s toughness and called them “yellow collar” (which he explained as somewhere between blue and white; not quite sure where he buys his crayons…). These two teams played each other while you were watching football and Kansas was able to pull out a close one. They showed they can beat anyone with their athleticism, but still plenty to see from these two.
The Week Ahead
In The NBA
Monday: San Antonio @ Philadelphia
The Spurs travel to Philly to play the second night of a back to back. If there’s any coach who doesn’t care about who he rests against the meager Sixers, it’s Pop. Maybe the Sixers catch a break and the Spurs will decide to trot out a group of scrubs to play against the group of scrubs the Sixers trot out on a nightly basis.
Thursday: New Orleans @ Golden State
Two of the most exciting teams in the NBA square off. Seems like we’ve just about reached “Golden State Warriors, actual contenders”.
In College Basketball
(hacky 90’s comedian voice) “Why don’t we just make the whole thing out of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge?”
For the first 3 days of this week, we have the best conferences going head-to-head in the most exciting event of this young season.
And now in the holiday spirit, I present “The Games of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge as The Parker’s Christmas Presents from A Christmas Story.”
Boston College (not participating): The tie that no one bought The Old Man
Oh, Boston College. Poor, poor BC. I could take this as an opportunity to rant about the state of my alma mater’s basketball program…but it’s COWLEDGE HOWKEY SEASON! YOU CAN HAVE YOUR MAHCH MADNESS AND YA BRAHCKETS. WE’LL SEE YOU AT THE FROZEN FOO-WAH.
Monday, Nebrasketball[i] @ Florida State: “A can of Simoniz!”
Not a great gift, but The Old Man is certainly jazzed up to receive it. He’ll put it to good use. We’ll do the same with this game.
Monday, Rutgers @ Clemson: Whatever this thing is
I can’t imagine this being fun in anyway. The game or the toy.
Tuesday, Pitt @ Indiana, The Bunny Suit
The person who scheduled this game is just like Ralphie’s Aunt Clara. She wants what’s best for him, really she does, but she thinks he’s a six year old girl. Pitt-Indiana sounds great. It does. But it is not. It is not.
Tuesday, Minnesota @ Wake Forest, Whatever Mrs. Parker got for Christmas (not pictured)
In the movie, we never see any of Mrs. Parker’s presents. They must not be important.
Tuesday, Syracuse @ Michigan, Monopoly
Monopoly can be fun, but also tells you a lot about your friends and family when you play. This game should be a good gauge for both of these squads. I bet John Beilein is the battleship when he plays Monopoly. Jim Boeheim definitely buys Baltic and Mediterranean.
Tuesday, Illinois @ Miami, Dump Truck
Lot of orange. Not all of these analogies are perfect.
Tuesday, NC State @ Purdue, Bowling Ball
Who asked you to place this on our collective groin? Unpleasant.
Tuesday, Ohio State @ Louisville, Randy’s Zeppelin
Whoopee indeed, Randy. I’m excited to see our first good look at both of these squads this year. Also, Montrezl Harrell dunks often resemble the Hindenburg crash.
Wednesday, Michigan State @ Notre Dame, Baseball Bat
Useful. And like Randy swinging that lumber around, someone may leave South Bend bruised and battered.
Wednesday, Virginia Tech @ Penn State, Frankenstein Mask
A very weird present and a potentially weird game. Can Penn State blowout this bad Hokie team? Can Penn State blowout anyone? Will Buzz Williams jump from Marquette to Virginia Tech ever payoff? Why am I asking you so many questions?
Wednesday, Iowa at UNC, Fire Truck
Good toy. Good game. Two really different styles clashing. Should be a fun one.
Wednesday, UVA @ Maryland, Ragedy Andy
Oh cool, they let two ACC teams play each other….wait a second. Of all the conference realignment, Maryland to the Big Ten has been the hardest to get used to. UVA should dispose of the Terps pretty easily, so we can all watch Duke play Wisconsin instead, just as Ralphie and Randy will never play with this toy.
Wednesday, Georgia Tech @ Northwestern, Socks
Wednesday, Duke @ Wisconsin, An official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!
Thank you, Santa.
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and lone contributor at PalestraBack.com. He is unhappy that he can’t find his DVD copy of A Christmas Story but was willing to rent it from Amazon for $2.99 for this post. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.
[i] It will be the policy of this blog to only refer to the Cornhuskers as “Nebrasketball”. It’s like websites who refuse to use “Redskins” except much, much, much stupider.