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
- Duke topped UNC in the rematch at the Dean Dome, while Oklahoma beat Kansas at the buzzer in Norman. Top teams in America’s best conferences merely sizing each other up for showdowns at conference tournaments, or (GASP) in the Big Dance.
- Russell Westbrook is a monster. Four consecutive triple doubles capped off a torrid stretch. He’ll drag the Thunder to the playoffs no matter who is hurt, healthy, alive, or dead.
- Louisville lost to Notre Dame before turning around and beating #2 Virginia, thus clinching the Cardinals spot as the most enigmatic team in the land.
- The NCAA brought the hammer down on Syracuse for a variety of violations. The Orange will lose a total of 12 scholarships and Jim Boeheim will be suspended for 9 games next season, in addition to a bunch of vacated victories. It seems like another example of the NCAA punishing the wrong person, but Boeheim deserved something. Ignoring the school’s drug policy and letting staffers access player emails to contact professors are both pretty serious offenses. I guess you can say Boeheim zoned out on some of his responsibilities. BOOM ZING.
- We’re giving out bids already! Belmont, Northern Iowa, North Florida, Coastal Carolina, and Eastern Idaho have all clinched spots in the NCAA Tournament. Well, except Eastern Idaho. That’s a made up school that I tried to sneak past you.
- The Blazers lost Wes Matthews for the rest of the season to an Achilles injury, which severely hampers their shot at the title. Newly acquired Aaron Afflalo might be able to pick up some of the slack, but their ceiling is definitely affected.
The Week Ahead
In the NBA
Wednesday, Clips @ Thunder
Wednesday, Rockets @ Blazers
Big games out West this week, especially for teams treading water during injuries (Matthews for Portland, Kevin Durant for OKC, Dwight Howard for Houston, Blake Griffin for the Clips). As they assess where they are before playoff time, games like these will be huge barometers.
In College Hoops
EVERYDAY! CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS!
Good games will be all over TV this week, but also dig a little deeper for some of the smaller conference games. You’ll get familiar with teams before the tourney and see some great ball.
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.
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