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 This Week
- College basketball’s top 4 teams all won on Saturday in a variety of different ways. Kentucky survived a road scare from Florida in a game that can only be described as weird. The Gators strong first half was led by Michael Frazier, who was sidelined the entire second half with an ankle injury. Willie Cauley-Stein did whatever the 2015 version of “posterizing” is to Devin Robinson (GIF-erated? Twitter Bombed? Vine-ified?).
Devin Booker spent most of the second half having a cramp massaged. Aaron Harrison played excellently. Andrew Harrison played terribly. Trey Lyles missed another game with a mystery illness (Has he been to Disneyland??). And then the refs got involved. I didn’t think the offensive foul on Kentucky was as egregious as ESPN’s Jay Bilas did (Jay almost threw up in his mouth a bit), but the travel called on Jon Horford was inexcusable. Where in the video below do you see anything that would indicate a walk? And better yet, how ridiculous is it for the ref at half-court to overrule another official to make that call?
Jon Horford didn’t do himself any favors missing two free throws on another key Gators possession, which was especially damning because Horford had been shooting 90% from the stripe on the season.
Elsewhere, Duke beat the snot out of Notre Dame, Gonzaga needed a strong second half to win at San Francisco, and Virginia put the clamps on Louisville (more on this in a moment). Outside the top 4, Arizona was upset, VCU lost a wild one at the buzzer, Oklahoma State beat Kansas, Baylor boatraced West Virginia, Temple stayed on the bubble with a bank shot in the final 5 seconds, and BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth set the NCAA record for triple-doubles in a season. This all happened in the same day.
- Virginia’s victory was bittersweet as Justin Anderson will miss 4-6 weeks after surgery on a broken finger. That range of 4-6 weeks is going to be crucial as we now sit 5 weeks away from Selection Sunday. Anderson’s shooting ability helps the Hoos space the floor offensively and his athleticism makes him a factor on both ends. I’m eager to see how UVA handles the second half of the ACC schedule without him and if they hit a few bumps in the road, if they can fall to a 2-seed come tournament time. With Anderson less than 100% during the first weekend of tourney play, seeding could have a huge effect on their chances to advance to the next weekend.
- Speaking of injuries that could have a huge effect, two of the NBA’s most exciting bigs both may miss some time. Anthony Davis took a nasty spill Saturday night and hurt his shoulder. X-rays were negative and all indications point to a limited amount of missed time for the Brow, which is huge for the Pelicans. They need Davis healthy to keep their playoff hopes alive. Elsewhere, Blake Griffin will be having surgery to remove a staph infection from his elbow. The Clippers are hitting the most difficult part of their schedule and will need wins to hold their playoff spot. The Thunder and Suns are salivating seeing Davis and Griffin sidelined.
- The Hawks had their winning streak ended early in the week before bouncing back and winning the big showdown with the Warriors. Seven Atlanta players scored in double-figures and the Atlanta Hawks will head into the All-Star break as the unquestioned favorites to win the Eastern Conference.
The Week Ahead
In The NBA
Wednesday, Wizards @ Raptors
Wednesday, Grizzlies @ Thunder
A couple mid-week games that could be playoff series previews highlight a short and light week of pro games.
Saturday, All-Star Saturday Night
Sunday, NBA All-Star Game
The 3-point shootout should be the headlining event this year with a great crop of shooters and the dunk contest is fun-ish, but the best reason to watch any of this is for Chuck and the TNT gang. Something about All-Start weekend makes Charles Barkley toss his nearly non-existent filter out the window.
In College Hoops
Monday, #11 Iowa State @ #21 Oklahoma
Tuesday, #1 Kentucky @ LSU
Kentucky flew home from Gainesville late Saturday night and has to turn around and head to Baton Rouge to take on the Tigers Tuesday. If the Florida game turned Big Blue into Big Black & Blue, Jordan Mickey and a strong LSU team might be able to pull the upset.
Saturday, #19 Baylor @ #9 Kansas
Baylor has been successful against their peers in the second level of Big XII teams. Let’s see what they can do during a Valentine’s date at Phog Allen.
Baylor forward Rico Gathers has done just that, gathering nearly than 13 rebounds per game. This is a terrible, awful pun, but now let’s see you try to watch a Baylor game and not mutter “Rico gathers another rebound.” He has the most apt sports name since Pitt kicker Chris Blewitt.
Saturday, #15 West Virginia @ #11 Iowa State
Saturday, #7 Villanova @ #22 Butler
I love this Villanova team, but for them to stay in the conversation for a number one seed and among the favorites to win it all, they’ve got to win games like this one. Also, can they wear the uniforms they sported in the Georgetown game (pictured above) every time they take the court? I don’t mind their regular duds, but those were clearly an upgrade.
Enjoy the games, folks.
(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 writer at PalestraBack.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.