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
- Yup, the Big XII is officially insane. America’s deepest conference is so wildly competitive, it makes no sense. Try to follow this one: Oklahoma stomps Texas by 21. Texas beat West Virginia by 27, but after WVU waxed Oklahoma by 21. It’s cannibalism at its most savage. Kansas State was left for dead after the non-conference, and now they sit atop the standings. It’s a race to the finish, but it might be a one-legged race by the time they are done beating the snot out of each other. Eerily, just like the Baylor-TCU debacle in this year’s football playoff, the Big XII might beat up on one another too much and leave a few deserving teams sitting home in March.
- Before we leave the Big XII, how about a special shoutout to Buddy Hield? His Saturday night against rival Oklahoma State? Oh just made all 10 shots he took, including 4 threes and this monster putback dunk.
- Speaking of impressive stat lines, Russell Westbrook had all the stats in Friday’s win over Golden State. All of them. All the stats. Specifically, 17 points, 15 rebounds, and 17 assists.
Arizona had an impressive statement win over Utah. Holding Delon Wright and Jakob Poetl to 16 combined points is no easy feat and Stanley Johnson’s 18 second half points had NBA scouts salivating. Arizona can match anyone’s best with wins over Gonzaga and Utah.
Doc Rivers traded for his son Austin, who is not a good basketball player. It was a puzzling move and an interesting strategy that hasn’t been seen since the days of Hey Arnold!
- We had two nominees for pass of the year in the same damn day. First, D’Angelo Russell spun the ball with one hand…the opposite direction. He basically threw a screwball. His teammate did him the favor of missing the layup.
Mere hours later, Steph Curry did what words cannot describe.
- I really need to stop getting excited big Louisville games. After the dud against Kentucky, they struggled against Duke. They can defend anyone, but the Cardinals simply can’t shoot the ball. And yet they threw up 25 threes, making only 4 of them. Duke rarely ever plays zone, but Louisville gave them no choice. I don’t think the Cardinals see man-to-man again for a long time. And now, a look at man-to-man evangelist Coach K coming to grips with the fact that he had to play zone for an entire important game:
- Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp were balling in the state of Washington. No, not that Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp! Oregon State’s Gary Payton II (who again, has a brother named Gary Payton Jr.) and Washington’s Shawn Kemp Jr. squared off this week. Their fathers were courtside, eliciting “Save Our Sonics” chants from the U-Dub student section. This feels like a good as reason as any other to watch a bunch of dunks:
- Houston Baptist dropped the hottest uniforms of the season so far.
Anyone not in love with those beauties, I only got one thing to say to you:
The Week Ahead
In The NBA
Wednesday, Knicks @ Sixers
The Sixers have been playing really nicely lately, beating several teams who hadn’t exactly brought their A-squad. This prompted Nerlens Noel to say, “You better come to Philly with full forces.” Sadly, the Knicks full forces are a sorry and raggedy bunch.
Friday, Bulls @ Mavericks
One of the league’s smoothest offenses takes on one it’s fiercest defenses. Yeah, I’d say that’s worth watching.
In College Hoops
Monday, #18 Oklahoma @ #9 Kansas
Monday, #5 Villanova @ Georgetown
Tuesday, Iowa @ #5 Wisconsin
Iowa is one of the most intriguing teams in the nation. They have guards and bigs who can compete with anyone, but over the last several years, they’ve fallen flat in big games. If they come out hot against the Badgers like the did against Thad Matta and Ohio State, they could pull the upset.
Thursday, St. Mary’s @ #3 Gonzaga
Two reasons to watch this one:
1. If you haven’t seen the Zags yet and you don’t get why they are #3, watch.
2. Kevin Pangos changed his hair and the reviews from female Gonzaga fans are divided right down the middle, just like his hair.
Saturday, #9 Kansas @ #20 Texas
Saturday, #18 Oklahoma @ #22 Baylor
Big XII double-header. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. Two blowouts. A pile of overtimes. Anything.
Saturday, #1 Kentucky @ South Carolina
This is one of the games we’ve had circled on UK’s calendar. On the road against one of the top teams in the SEC. If they are up for it, they can probably squash the Gamecocks. If they play like they did against Ole Miss and Texas A&M, we’ll have a ballgame.
Sunday, Duke vs. St. John’s (at MSG)
Hey, Sunday hoops! The NFL takes the week off, so we finally get some games each day of the weekend. Duke always plays well in New York, but St. John’s is no joke. Chris Obekpa will do his best to slow down Jahlil Okafor.
Enjoy the games, everyone.
(Note: Every edition of This Week in Hoops will end with a song. I’ve compiled all of these songs into a playlist that you can find here.)
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and lone contributor at PalestraBack.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.