This Week In Hoops: January 11

Hey, everyone! Welcome back to basketball season. If you were around these parts last year, you remember our weekly feature: This Week in Hoops. It’s changed a bit, but the essence is the same. If you’re new to Palestra Back, TWIH is a helpful guide to the recent goings on in the world of basketball. If something happens on the hardwood, you’ll hear about it here. 

The Biggest Story in Basketball

A few weeks ago, I ranked the best games of 2015. After doing so, I lamented the fact that I hadn’t ranked a single game from the 2015-2016 season of the NBA or NCAA. Essentially, that post could have ran in June without any noticeable difference.

Had this past Monday’s Oklahoma-Kansas game occurred mere weeks earlier, it would have made that list, and it’s the early leader for best game of 2016.

Triple OT, #1 vs #2, in one of the best atmospheres in basketball. That’s not easy to beat.

Now I had two important takeaways from the game, and both are incredibly hot takes. That game drifted late into the night and maybe my feelings about what happened were skewed, but here were my two lessons learned:

Buddy Hield scored 46 points…and didn’t play his best basketball.

Yes, that is an absurd sentence. Buddy Hield made some preposterous shots on Monday night, but when the game concluded, even he had trouble with some of this mistakes he made. My issues with Buddy’s play in the game were two-fold.

First, he turned the ball over in two crucial scenarios. On the second one, yes, the ref should have backed Frank Mason off of the sideline a bit and yes, it was very odd for Lon Kruger to have a guy who already scored 46 points to throw the ball inbounds, but Hield threw it away and cost his team a shot.

Second, I know he scored nearly half a hundred points, but he did so in 54 minutes of play. Still very impressive, but in many cases when the Sooners needed a bucket, Hield not only struggled to score or create for a teammate, he had trouble getting open. This would not be cause for too much concern, but he was being covered at many points by Frank Mason, who is 5’10. If you’re projecting Hield at the next level, that weighs heavily in my mind.

Now in that game and the three prior, Buddy Hield averaged 42.5 minutes per game. For those who have forgotten, college basketball games are only 40 minutes long. He played his heart out and was gassed when the final whistle blew, but at the end of the day, will finish his career having never won at Kansas in four tries.

Despite that, I still came away thinking Oklahoma was the better team.

I had been ranking Oklahoma #1 in my rankings here in TWIH for about a month prior to the game, despite the Coaches and AP polls not agreeing. From what I had seen, they proved themselves the best team in the land. I thought it odd that 1 loss Kansas was ranked ahead of the undefeated Sooners in the AP poll before the two played this week.

Then Oklahoma played the #1 team in the poll, in one of the toughest environments in college basketball, and lost in a nailbiting triple OT thriller. Kansas held serve in the race for the Big XII title but the Sooners pushed them to the absolute brink. For Oklahoma to do that after topping a very good Iowa State team only a few days prior to me was almost as impressive as Kansas holding on for the victory.

If the two played on a neutral court right now, after what we saw with Kansas having home court advantage, I don’t know how you wouldn’t favor Oklahoma. I still think they are the better team.

Like I said, hot take.

Basketball is Fun!

With all of the hot takes and super serious basketball related opinions out there, it’s important to remember that this is a game being played and watched for fun. Every week we’ll highlight something on the lighter side of the hoops world. 

CJ McCollum missed a game this week and the only reason was…clerical error?

I love Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis, but not enough to pick him up and trying to bring him home with me.

Every Wisconsin fan was sad when Melo Trimble hit a 3 to beat them, but none moreso than these youngsters:

wisco sad

Essential Reading

All the pieces and posts you need to read to be on the ball. 

Palestra Back this week: How important is age when evaluating NBA Draft prospects?

More from me, at Rush The Court: Is Miami a contender or pretender?

ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who appears in this space nearly every week because he is the best, wrote about NBA coaches new feelings about offensive rebounding.

Liberty Ballers’ Marc Whittington took an interesting look at this Sixers’ Process. Three years deep, it gets philosophical.

And this is an old one, but is now relevant again. You may have heard about Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens leaving his team to be with former Butler center Andrew Smith as he battles cancer. Here is his story, which is shocking, chilling, and worth reading. That particular story is 10 months old. Smith’s condition has worsened in recent weeks, and according to his wife, he is nearing the end of his battle. His story touches every emotion.

Rank Shots

May the Tuesday Top Tens rest in pieces. Long live Rank Shots! If you’re not familiar, this is where we rank the best teams in the NBA, college basketball, and rank another totally irrelevant something.

NBA:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder
  5. Los Angeles Clippers

College Basketball

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Michigan State (with a healthy Denzel Valentine)
  3. Kansas
  4. Maryland
  5. North Carolina
  6. Villanova
  7. Miami (FL)

NOT A TYPO. OKLAHOMA. YOU LIKE THAT?

Stupid Things Football Announcers Talk About

Inspired by this weekend and the game tonight, higher rankings are things I like hearing about and lower rankings I never want to hear again.

  1. “Man, it’s cold down on that field!”
  2. Anything about a player or team’s diet.
  3. “Back in high school, he  __________.”
  4. Whether or not a specific player is wearing a glove/sleeves/other piece of equipment.
  5. “Ever since ________ happened, he’s really been locked in.”
  6. “He used to play basketball.”
  7. “Omaha!”
  8. “These teams really don’t like each other!”

Something Vaguely Basketball Related You Should Have Seen By Now

At that moment, my team’s bench looked like some bizzare Last Supper painting.”

Games To Watch This Week

Monday

NBA: No national games, but Heat-Warriors is fun.

NCAA: The only televised game opposite the college football title game is Lehigh-Bucknell, but if you’re desperate for hoops, fire up Monmouth-Fairfield on ESPN3.

Tuesday

NBA: I try to only recommend nationally televised games but the networks keep showing Lakers games. 

NCAA: #12 Miami at #4 Virginia (7 PM, ESPNU), #1 Kansas at #17 West Virginia

Great games in the Virginias as good teams look for crucial road wins.

Wednesday

NBA: Heat at Clippers (10:30/ESPN)

NCAA: Marquette at #11 Villanova (8:30/FS1), #2 Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (9 PM/ESPNU), USC at UCLA (11 PM/ESPN2)

Thursday

NBA: Cavs at Spurs (8 PM/TNT)

NCAA: #19 Iowa at #5 Michigan State (7 PM/ESPN), #24 Pittsburgh at #16 Louisville (9 PM/ESPN), Oregon at Utah (10 PM/PAC12), 

Friday

NBA: Timberwolves at Thunder (7 PM/ESPN)

NCAA: GW at #25 Dayton (7 PM/ESPN2)

Haaaayuge game in the A-10.

Saturday

NCAA: #11 Villanova at Georgetown (1 PM/CBS), Notre Dame at #14 Duke (2 PM/ESPN2), #10 Xavier at Marquette (2 PM/FS1), #17 West Virginia at #2 Oklahoma

What a week for WVU. Sure, just play the two best teams in America. Ho hum.

Sunday

NCAA: #5 Michigan State at Wisconsin (1:30/CBS)

I mean, or you can watch football.

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.)

**

Header Image via Getty Images.

Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to SALTMoney.org, Rush The Court, and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. If you have any suggestions, tips, ideas, or questions, email them to palestraback@gmail.com.

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