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
College basketball generally has its fun on Saturdays, leaving only a few match-ups on Sundays for us junkies to wet our beaks with.
This week, we were treated to Boston College, my alma mater, and Wake Forest. Wake had lost nine in a row and BC was looking to snap a thirteen game losing skid, having not won since 2015.
If we were lucky, the game would be better than when these two schools most recently took the football field:
Somehow, it wasn’t. BC didn’t start playing basketball until about 13 minutes after the game started and things got ugly.
It got as bad as 37-4 before BC had a “flurry” of scoring to finish the half with 14 points. The Eagles turned things around in the second half enough to save face to an extent, but the damage was done.
Boston College lost three or four projected starters pre-season to transfers and the NBA Draft. Injuries have left them even more shorthanded, to the point that they are unable to compete in a power conference. They currently sit at 0-14 in the ACC, with a dismal KenPom ranking of 252.
The list of teams ahead of them in those rankings is a real “Who’s Who” of basketball powerhouses: Houston Baptist, Incarnate Word, Mount St. Mary’s, UC Riverside, Canisius, Hampton, Samford.
One team ahead of BC would be the St. John’s Red Storm, who have won once since December 14. The Johnnies dropped consecutive games this season at home to Incarnate Word (by 22) and NJIT (by 9).
Luckily for BC and St. John’s, they are merely the second and third worst major conference teams this season, thanks to Rutgers. Oh, Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights currently sit at #294 in the KenPom rankings. They have five wins over Division I opponents this season (rankings in parentheses, out of 351 total teams): Howard (330), Central Arkansas (297), Central Connecticut (351), Fairleigh Dickinson (287), UMass Lowell (307). They have not won a game in conference play, and probably won’t. Rutgers is a Big Ten team who’s best win is over Fairlegh Dickinson.
The trio of Rutgers, BC, and St. John’s may well be the three worst major conference teams in recent memory. To prove that fact, I scoured the KenPom archives to unearth the three worst teams from the six best conferences (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big XII, Big East, and Pac-12) from the last ten seasons.
A couple things there:
- Rutgers appears there twice as many times as any other school. It’s not like the Jersey Boys have been killing it on the football field either. At a certain point, the Big Ten could consider giving the Knights the “Big East-Temple football” treatment, and kicking them to the curb. Sorry, Midwesterners. You could have had UConn.
- How sad are Indiana’s two appearances on that list? Few, if any, schools and fanbases care more about hoops than the Hoosiers. Thank God they are competitive again.
- Have fun with your East Coast bias, America! The Pac-12 drops just one team on that list of 30, the ugly 2008 Oregon State squad.
- This year’s mess is, statistically, the worst of the decade. So much of that is thanks to Rutgers’ troubles. On March 2nd, they’ll host Michigan State in Jersey, and I want so badly for them to win and inspire a court storming.
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.
Ole Miss’ Sebastian Saiz is looking good. Deal with it.
This guy brought a great sign to the NC State-UVA game:
Last week, we watched video of Bernie Sanders raining bank shots. Now The Guardian brings us a full rundown of his hoops past. Apparently he was sinking jumpers and tossing elbows back in the ’70’s.
All the pieces and posts you need to read to be on the ball.
Palestra Back this week: You can read a lot of trade deadline recaps, but only one that discusses Pat Riley and his secret, greasy devil magic. And that’s right here at Palestra Back.
More from me, at Rush The Court: Have your eye on an under-the-radar Final Four team? Here’s my take on the Dayton Flyers.
Chris Ballard’s profile of Dirk Nowitzki over at SI is really great, because Dirk is really great.
Kevin O’Connor from SBNation investigated whether Ben Simmons is shooting jumpers with the wrong hand…and found some pretty compelling evidence to back that theory up.
Ian Levy of Nylon Calculus, a person smarter than all of us, ran the numbers and developed a cool way to chart an NBA player’s “3-and-D-ness”. If nothing else, it proves that Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard are aliens from the future.
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.
- Golden State Warriors
- San Antonio Spurs
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Toronto Raptors
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Michigan State
- North Carolina
Current Saturday Night Live cast members
Anyone not on board with the current cast isn’t watching the show. Ranking these from 3 to around 12 was really difficult.
- Kate McKinnon
- Bobby Moynihan
- Kyle Mooney
- Taran Killam
- Michael Che
- Aidy Bryant
- Vanessa Bayer
- Kenan Thompson
- Beck Bennett
- Colin Jost
- Pete Davison
- Cecily Strong
- Jay Pharoah
- Shasheer Zamata
- Jon Rudnitsky
- Leslie Jones
Something Vaguely Basketball Related You Should Have Seen By Now
I love him going strong to the rim.
Games To Watch This Week
NBA: Warriors at Hawks (8PM/NBATV)
Warriors playing in the East Coast time zone alert!
NCAA: #3 Virginia at #12 Miami (7 PM/ESPN), #13 Iowa State at #14 West Virginia (9 PM/ESPN)
ESPN’s Big Monday gives us two teams coming off of big losses (Miami got smoked by UNC and WVU blew their shot to beat Oklahoma at home) with a chance to right the ship…against tough competition.
NBA: Pelicans at Wizards (7 PM/NBATV)
NCAA: #2 Kansas at #19 Baylor (9 PM/ESPN2)
NCAA: #1 Villanova at #5 Xavier (7 PM/FS1)
Gus and Raf on the call? Two top five teams?
NBA: Thunder at Pelicans (8 PM/TNT))
NCAA: Have you seen Cal or Utah play yet? They both play at 9 PM and are totally worth seeing before you fill out a bracket (vs UCLA on ESPN2 and vs Arizona State on PAC12 Network, respectively).
NBA: Wizards at Sixers (7 PM/Locally televised)
I’ll be among the 300+ wackos in attendance for “Rights to Ricky Sanchez Night” at The (Wells Fargo) Center. The world’s most pro-Process podcast and the cult members who follow will be filling the upper deck and chanting the praises of Sam Hinkie.
NBA: Warriors at Thunder (8:30/ABC)
NCAA: #3 Oklahoma at #25 Texas (2 PM/CBS)
#11 Louisville at #12 Miami (2 PM/ESPN3?? what?)
#1 Villanova at Marquette (2 PM/FOX)
#9 Arizona at #22 Utah (2 PM/ESPN)
#10 Maryland at #20 Purdue (4 PM/ESPN)
#7 UNC at #3 Virginia (6:30/ESPN)
Gonzaga at BYU (8 PM/ESPN2)
Florida at LSU (8:30/ESPN, HUGE BUBBLE GAME)
NCAA: #15 Duke at Pitt (2 PM/CBS), Michiagn at Wisconsin (6 PM/BTN)
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 Jeff Gross / Getty Images
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to SALTMoney.org, Rush The Court, ESPN.com, and USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. If you have any suggestions, tips, ideas, or questions, email them to email@example.com.