Welcome to our weekly 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.
What We Learned Last Week
- We saw two matchups of top 10 teams and saw two oddly different results. Duke strolled into the Kohl Center and beat Wisconsin. Jahlil Okafor outplayed Frank Kaminsky, Coach K reminded everyone that he’s Coach K, and Tyus Jones played about as well as a freshman point guard can play in a heated road game. Duke showed that they and Kentucky may be in a class of their own. Meanwhile in Tucson, Gonzaga and Arizona played a slugfest that spilled into overtime. For Arizona, it was a big win over a tough opponent. For Gonzaga, it was a road loss to a top 3 team in overtime. Sure, the Zags let the game slip away, but to even be in that game with how poorly Kevin Pangos played (he had 5 turnovers in his first 7 games and 4 on Saturday) is fairly reassuring for Mark Few’s squad. If Pangos had played well and the Bulldogs could have sealed the win, they might have elevated themselves into the nation’s top tier of teams.
- The Sixers won! The Sixers won! I’m not just repeating myself for effect, they actually won twice! It has to feel good for Brett Brown and those young players to get a few wins under their belt. It certainly helps that they may have found another actual professional basketball player in Robert Covington, who averaged 21 points in this week’s three games. Sixers fans who have screamed for a shooter for the last several years may finally have their man in 3ob Covington.
- Huge week for upsets by schools with academic reputations. Yale beat defending national champs UConn. The New Jersey Institute of Technology (who from 2007-2009 went 1-59) came out as “the victors” at Michigan.
Division II University of the Sciences beat Drexel, the first road win for a Division II team over a Division I team this season. It was a huge win for the Devils, but even an even bigger win for science. So without further ado, here is my all-time scientist starting 5:
- PG: Isaac Netwon. His work set up everyone else’s. Can’t think of a better person to run the offense.
- SG: Albert Einstein. Really feel good trying to get Einstein some open looks. He can score and he knows it.
- SF: Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Do you follow NDT on Twitter? Nobody plays better defense. He’s all over the anti-science community. Just a lockdown, grit and grind kind of scientist.
- PF: Galileo. The Charles Oakley of science. Refused to go down without a fight.
- C: Bill Nye the Science Guy. Seems tall. This whole science basketball thing doesn’t make much sense anyway.
The Week Ahead
In the NBA
Tuesday, Kings @ Lakers
Kobe Bryant needs 77 points to pass Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list and could do so as soon as Tuesday night against the Kings. There have been rumors that Kobe’s early season shooting spree has been in an effort to catch Jordan before any possible injuries might slow him down. Anyone who believes that Kobe will start shooting less after passing Jordan is crazy, because Kobe Bryant will continue to be a psycho and his teammates will continue to be terrible. Exhibit A:
Thursday, Cleveland @ Oklahoma City
The Cavs are starting to figure things out. Durant and Westbrook are back. Two teams that need to right the ship meet at the perfect time. Everyone watching will be excited to see a LeBron-Durant showdown, which just means Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving will probably both take 28 shots.
In College Basketball
Tuesday, #24 Illinois vs #10 Villanova (at Madison Square Garden)
Early on, it looked like Villanova had collected some quality wins. Then Michigan lost to NJIT and VCU lost to Old Dominion and got spanked by UVA. The Wildcats have looked good, but come March they’ll need some quality wins on their resume if they can justify a #1 or #2 seed out of the shaky Big East.
Saturday, #12 UNC @ #1 Kentucky
Can we talk about Kentucky’s schedule? In a span of 22 days, they will have played #6 Texas, #12 UNC, UCLA, and #5 Louisville. And this is after eating Kansas’ lunch early in the season. People have already started to whisper about Big Blue going undefeated. If they haven’t lost by New Year’s Day, we can stop whispering.
Saturday, #25 Utah @ #10 Kansas
ATTENTION NBA DRAFT NERDS! Watch this game!
Kansas freshman Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander have been as consistent as the College Football Playoff Committee (which is to say, erratic and perplexing). Alexander seems to be figuring out the college game, while Oubre is averaging just 2 points, yet is still a projected lottery pick according to ESPN’s Chad Ford. On the other side, Austrian born Jakob Poeltl is flying up draft boards. He’ll get a chance to show what he can do against elite athletes in this game.
Enjoy the games, everyone.
(Starting this week, This Week In Hoops will end with a song/video every week. Hope that’s OK with you.)
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and lone contributor at PalestraBack.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.