As usual, the 2012 college basketball off-season features a never-ending parade of coaching changes. Some moves make sense, others are questionable, while others are simply head-scratchers. Thanks to collegesportsinfo.com, where a lot of this info was gleaned from. Also, apologies if all the colors give you a headache!
With first place on the line in Columbus the expectation was that #11 Michigan State and #3 Ohio State would play a tight, physical affair. And that's exactly what it was, with the visitors from East Lansing seeming to be the more comfortable of the two teams in the first half. Michigan State shot 46.9% from the field but the reason for their 35-25 lead at the half was their defense, as they limited Ohio State to 33.3% and forced eight turnovers.
With the SEC making the move away from two divisions, games such as the one between Vanderbilt (13-4, 3-0) and Alabama (13-4, 2-1) take on added importance in the race for one of those four first-round byes in the SEC Tournament. And while both teams presently have the look of NCAA Tournament clubs, there's nothing wrong with picking up another resume-building result.
The "Braggin' Rights" game between Illinois and Missouri is alway an intense affair, with the fans in the stands split by the halfcourt line and both teams understanding what's at stake before they even hit the floor. This season's game was no different, although for a good portion of the first half it seemed as if the undefeated Tigers were on their way to a romp. Bruce Weber's team refused to fold, and once Missouri got out of control Illinois was able to mount their rally.
For a while on Tuesday night it looked as if a Southern Conference team would hand another undefeated team its first defeat of the season. But an important suggestion by Louisville assistant coach Richard Pitino set things in motion for the fourth-ranked Cardinals, sparking a rally that resulted in a 69-62 victory. The idea: instead of relying on the frontcourt tandem of Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan to occupy the foul line area against the Charleston zone, use the versatile Kyle Kuric at the four.
With suspensions ruling out two of their key interior players for the next six games, many wondered what Mick Cronin's Cincinnati Bearcats would do to make up for the absence of Yancy Gates and Cheikh Mbodj. Without a consistent scoring option in the paint the strategy was to let the guards go to work, and that they did in the Bearcats' 78-58 win at Wright State. Sean Kilpatrick, who was a non-factor in their loss at Xavier on Saturday, scored a game-high 20 points (6-12 3PT) while JaQuon Parker added 14 points and all five starters finished in double figures.
Thanks to the events of Saturday afternoon and their aftermath a dangerous road trip is now even tougher for Cincinnati (5-3), who will be shorthanded on their trip to Wright State (4-6). Yancy Gates, Cheikh Mbodj and Octavius Ellis are all suspended six games for their roles in Saturday's brawl at Xavier while Ge'Lawn Guyn sits one game, meaning that even with the Raiders having lost five of their last seven they've got every chance to defend their home floor successfully. So who steps up for the Bearcats?
One of the most anticipated regular season college basketball games in recent memory came down to wingspan. That was the difference between Kentucky and North Carolina as freshman Anthony Davis got a hand on John Henson's jumper in the final seconds to preserve a 73-72 win at Rupp Arena. UNC would enjoy the largest lead for either team with just under seven minutes left in the first half as they led 34-25, and the two titans would play close throughout.