I don't think they've checked out on Tubby, but they've certainly checked out on this season. The body language says it all, and Ralph's 1-11 shooting performance on Sunday basically sums it up. This is a defeated team, and Tubby feels it as well. At this point these two games need to just end, then lose in the first round of the b10 tourney, and start planning for next year. It's clear the players just want this season to end, and I can't blame them because it's been miserable these last couple of weeks. But I'm not on the fire Tubby bandwagon, even if I've been critical of his game coaching abilities. I remain critical of those, but he deserves one more year, but it's a make or break year. If there's another season that goes similarly to this one, it's time to move on. The important thing is to build a program, and if he misses another NCAA Tournament, well, there's no building going on. One more year, Tubby. Show us why we were all excited when the hiring was initially announced. This is just sad.
I mean, look at Notre Dame this year. Both the Gophers and Notre Dame received exactly one 25th place vote in a poll to start the season (Gophers in the AP, Notre Dame in the coaches). Both teams lost their best player for the year, a senior power forward, early in the season (like Mbakwe for the Gophers, Tim Abromaitis led the team in both scoring and rebounding when he went down). Neither team had any kind of real impact freshman coming in, so post-injury both schools looked to be in trouble. But, where the Gophers have struggled and floundered and canceled out any flashes of brilliance with some terrible outings, Notre Dame has played together, executed well consistently, and completely bought in to Mike Brey's system and is 20-10 overall, 12-5 in the Big East, and a lock for the tournament. Look at these two teams. It's hard to say Notre Dame is significantly more talented, if at all, than the Gophers, and yet look at the results. Unsettling, at best.
We move on....
WHO WAS AWESOME
1. Iowa State Cyclones. Well, for those of you out there who were complete idiots and were saying Fred Hoiberg was some kind of moron for collected talented yet troubled transfers (and you know who you are) how about you pour some Bacardi 151 in your butthole and chase it with a match? Because Iowa State just won at Kansas State - the same K-State who just beat both Baylor and Missouri on the road - to move to 11-5 in Big 12 play and 21-8 overall. They're now tied for 4th with Baylor in the Conference and have now 100% locked up an NCAA bid. While the Gophers need a miracle. I'm moving to Ames. Plus they got craps there.
2. Purdue Boilermakers. While every other Big 10 team who was chasing a bid goes down faster than your mom on prom night, Purdue is taking a stand and doing what needs to be done like full grown men. I'm just kidding about that sentence by the way, it's intentionally douchey (except for the mom joke, that's all me). Anyway, while everyone else is pooping on their heads, Purdue went into Ann Arbor and beat Michigan, a team that was undefeated at home this year, was ranked #11 in the polls, #10 in the RPI, and #21 in kenpom's ratings. That, my friends, is the definition of a signature win and puts Purdue firmly into tournament lock status. And you know how they won? Because Terone Johnson shot 9-12 for 22 points and carried the offense. You know the last time an unsung-y Gopher like Johnson stepped up to carry the team to a victory? Caddyshack. Cue rimshot.
3. Kansas Jayhawks. I kind of feel like I've been underrating the Jayhawks all year, mainly because they're a two-man show and also because I hate them and have hated them since that little wiener Jeff Boschee was running around being wienery. But they're about to win the Big 12 for the 9th straight year* after beating Missouri, and that win was a freaking ballsy ass win because they were down 19 and came back against an incredibly good team. And Thomas Robinson? Holy hell is this guy good. He's nearly flawless in the low post, and because Missouri only has one low-post kind of defender in Ricardo Ratliffe (who, by the way, is completely awesome in his own way) they chose to single cover Robinson all game and he put on a clinic. Now, this is hyperbole of the biggest fashion so don't jump down my throat, but watching him I actually was reminded of Hakeem Olajuwon. I know, I know, but I was. I can't help it. Guy's legit.
4. Miami Hurricanes. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm always impressed with teams on the Bubble who go out and get that big home win that they need (mainly because I don't know if I've ever seen it from my favorite team), and Miami did just that this weekend, taking down the #16 Seminoles 78-62 to jump up and likely grab themselves and NCAA bid. Most impressive is that they did it without starting center and double-double guy Reggie Johnson, who was ruled ineligible by the NCAA due to some minor infractions that will hopefully be resolved quickly. Not to mention that even without him they managed to put up 78 points on the usually defensively studly Seminoles, the first time a team has scored that much on them since January 7th. Pretty sure Miami sucks and won't win a game in the tourney, but at least they're most likely going to make it.
5. South Florida Bulls. Speaking of college teams from the state of Florida who picked up huge wins with bubble ramifications over the weekend, USF knocked off fellow bubble team Cincinnati on Sunday and can pretty officially no longer be ignored. The game wasn't pretty with the Bulls winning 46-45, both teams having just one player score in double figures, and the two teams combined to shoot 6-30 from 3-point land, but USF did what they needed to do and got a big victory. South Florida is now 11-5 in the Big East, has bumped their RPI up to 45 (right behind K-State), and now has a 4-1 record against teams between 40-100 in the RPI. Of course, they are also 0-7 vs. the RPI top 40 and have three losses against sub-100 teams, but closing out the season at 11-4 is pretty solid. You'd have to think if they can finish out 1-1 (@Louisville, vs. WVU) and then win their Big East Tourny opener they'd be in - a far cry from the team that started the year 7-7 and lost to Penn State (among other craptastic squads).
1. Seton Hall Pirates. Are you shitting me Seton Hall? So they beat Georgetown for one of the most meaningful bubble wins this year and it's all like oh hell yes sweet what a great win awesome to see a team actually step up when they have to. And how do they follow it up? By losing at home to freaking Rutgers. Rutgers of the four conference wins and #149 RPI. Seriously, I mean if this doesn't completely wipe out all the good they did by beating the Hoyas it's damn close. I swear to god this is exactly what I expect from the Gophers or Northwestern, not a real team from the Big East. Shaheen Holloway is probably rolling over in his sports grave.
2. West Virginia Mountaineers. Even though there are plenty of teams doing everything they can to avoid getting invited to the NCAA Tournament, I don't know if anybody is doing a better job of tanking than West Virginia. On January 21 they were 15-5 and 5-2 in the Big East after beating Cincinnati. Since then they've gone 2-7 (with one of the wins taking overtime to beat Providence). This week may have been the worst, first going to Notre Dame and getting beat by 30, then taking on a Marquette squad that suspended three starters for the first half, building an 11-point half-time lead, and then blowing it and losing by one. A team that looked like an easy lock for the NCAA Tournament a month ago is now completely floundering, and with just games vs. DePaul and @ South Florida left a 2-0 finish is now an absolute must, and they might need a win or two in the Big East Tournament to get in. Seriously, if Huggins is going to find a way to cheat he might as well get started pretty quick.
3. Florida Gators. Jeez this seems like a very Florida-y week in review, which I guess is kind of appropriate since I'm going to Florida for a family vacation starting next Tuesday and that's kind of on my mind, but it's been a very Florda-centric week for being awesome and sucking so here we are. Anyway, the Gators continue to show how vulnerable they are because of their reliance on the perimeter jumper, and Georgia took advantage taking them down 76-62 with the Gators shooting just 5-23 from three. 39% of Florida's points come from three-pointers, the 3rd most in the country, and 44.6% of their shot attempts come from behind the arc (6th in the nation). Even though they do shoot them well (39.4%, 16th in the country) relying on something that can disappear in any given game, combined with a pretty bad defense (94th in Defensive efficiency) is a recipe for any early March exit.
4. Ohio State Buckeyes. Obviously there are varying degrees of sucking because I would kill your mother if it meant the Gophers would even approach Ohio State's success, but for a team that was/is supposed to be a national title contender there are some major concerns right now, with Ohio State 2-3 in their last five games including two home losses (to Michigan State and Wisconsin, but still). The Buckeyes were supposed to cruise to a Big 10 title and even with Michigan State having a tremendous year they should still be the class of the conference, but all of a sudden they're showing a whole bunch of chinks in their armor (wait, are we allowed to say that?) Buford has just been plain off most of the year, Craft hasn't turned into anything on the offensive end, and suddenly Sullinger is disappearing in games (17 total points in the last two, plus 1-7 from the free throw line when he's a 74% shooter this season). Still plenty of talent here and they're probably still one of the 10 best teams in the country, but suddenly an early round loss in the tournament doesn't seem like the impossibility it once did.
5. Cal Golden Bears. I don't know why I obsess about the Pac-10's mediocrity so much, but it's just mind boggling that a conference with schools like UCLA, USC, Washington, Cal, etc. can be so bad at basketball for so long. Every year there's a point where it looks like the Pac-12 might only get one bid, and although I don't think it's actually happened yet it's amazing how close it gets every year. And once again this season just when it looks like both Cal and Washington are safe, Cal goes out and gets destroyed by Colorado 70-57. Both Washington and Cal will probably still get in and everything, but jeez man, it's just amazing how much they suck. Also, in a semi-related note, with all the conference realignment going on I think what makes the most sense is for the Gophers to move into the Pac-12. It's common sense, really.
With conference tournaments starting up this week I need to get to work on the small conference tournament previews, so you'll have to do without your pithy outro this week. You know, the outro nobody reads because they've usually bailed on my post halfway through or so because it's too long and/or boring? Yeah, that.
* = I made this up because I was too