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
- Gonzaga finally slipped up and dropped a crucial game to BYU. I summed up some of the ripple effects on the tourney bracket yesterday, but the game itself spoke volumes about the Zags. Kevin Pangos was bad. Gary Bell Jr. was worse. Kyle Wiltjer may have been better off not even showing up. Mere weeks after scoring 45 points in a game, Wiltjer couldn’t even stay on the court in the second half. For Zags fans like myself, trusting Kyle Wiltjer has become a terrifying proposition.
- The story of the NBA the rest of the way will be the rise of the Cavs and Thunder. Two of the preseason favorites to win the title are finally healthy and gelling, doing what they can to climb up the standing of their respective conferences. Midseason trades for both may provide the depth they need to advance deep into the playoffs.
- On the flip side, the Dallas Mavericks are in disarray. Rick Carlisle and Rajon Rondo are stirring up a power struggle that includes a shouting match and a brief suspension. As the playoffs draw nearer, the Mavs could be everyone’s preferred opponent. Lookout for selective tanking and strategic maneuvering as teams try to line-up for their match-up of choice, which very well could be Dallas for most of the Western Conference’s elite.
- I didn’t take that much away from Wichita State topping Northern Iowa. The teams have split the season series so far, so a neutral site meeting in the MVC Tournament will be a crucial rubber match. I thought Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle was the best player on the floor during the game. Remember the name. He’s poised for a big month.
- Poor Derrick Rose. What’s even to say anymore? Should we be optimistic that he’ll return from minor surgery in just over a month, or downtrodden that he just can never get healthy?
The Week Ahead
In the NBA
Tuesday, Rockets @ Hawks
Two of the league’s best size each other up. A potential Finals preview is always nice.
Wednesday, Blazers @ Clippers
Sunday, Clippers @ Warriors
A big week for the Clip Show. DeAndre Jordan has been playing out of his mind with Blake Griffin sidelined by injury. They get two cracks at some of the best in the West this week.
Wednesday, Cavs @ Raptors
Friday, Cavs @ Hawks
Also a big week for LeBron & Friends. The Friday game in Atlanta will be especially helpful in determining how far the Cavs have come.
In College Hoops
Monday, #16 Oklahoma @ #12 Iowa State
Tuesday, #20 West Virginia @ #8 Kansas
Tuesday, #1 Kentucky @ Georgia
Georgia is no pushover, but Kentucky is a runaway train.
Wednesday, #9 Notre Dame @ #9 Louisville
Saturday, #2 Virginia @ #17 Louisville
Following Chris Jones’ dismissal from the team, the Cardinals season on the court has become a roller-coaster. This is a brutal week to finish with. Both games are in Louisville, so we’ll see what they are made of before the tourney.
Wednesday, Miami @ Pitt (BUBBLE GAME!)
Saturday, St. Johns @ Villanova
Saturday, #8 Kansas @ #12 Oklahoma
Saturday, #4 Duke @ #16 UNC
Saturday, Stanford @ #7 Arizona
#1 seeds hang in the balance. Nothing better than letting the teams do the deciding on the court. Four of the teams in the conversation play big games on the same day.
Conference tournaments start as early as Tuesday. Tastes like Madness already. Enjoy it, friends.
(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.
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