Three-point play: February 23, 2010

 1.    UConn is the ACC and A-10’s worst enemy

It wasn’t long ago when Connecticut was in disarray. Head coach Jim Calhoun was in the middle of a medical leave of absence. The Huskies were 4-8 in the Big East and shared the unwelcome honor as struggling powerhouses with North Carolina.

Calhoun is back, and after beating seventh-ranked West Virginia Monday night, the Huskies (17-11, 7-8) are right back in the middle of the NCAA tournament picture. Their final three games are all winnable, and a 10-8 mark in the Big East should warrant an at-large bid.

Just as the horn was sounding on the Huskies’ upset of the Mountaineers, several teams on the bubble cringed. Teams like Clemson, Dayton, Florida State, Rhode Island, Charlotte and Saint Louis are all uncertain of their postseason fates at this juncture.

If the Huskies continue to surge, they will surely sneak up and grab an at-large bid from one of those middle-of-the-pack teams from the ACC or A-10.  You can bet every one of the aforementioned teams will be rooting hard against the Huskies from here on out.


2.    Ross Tudor is right – Duke is a master scheduler

I did a double take tonight when looking ahead to the week’s slate of games, and I saw Duke hosting Tulsa on Thursday night. Why on earth the Devils are hosting this game in late February is beyond me, but this much is not: Mike Krzyzewski is a damn good resume builder.

It wasn’t until my friend Ross brought this to my attention that I realized it to be true: Duke makes a living off scheduling teams with RPI rankings between 75-150 who are easily beatable, yet still boost their own RPI greatly.

Now, this strategy is only surefire when you have a perennial top-15 power like the Blue Devils, because if you are any worse, you could lose a game or two in that slate and have some ugly losses to your name.

Tulsa, for instance, is 19-8, 8-5 in Conference USA. Their RPI as of Monday night was 75. That’s perfect for Duke, which has not lost a home game all season and is in little danger of doing so in Thursday.

Some of the Blue Devils’ non-conference games include Charlotte, Arizona State, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Penn, Iowa State and Georgetown. In the two of those games that were on the road, Duke lost. The other ones were all Blue Devil victories.

There were no games against top 10 teams; no epic made-for-TV matchups to bring money to the school. By playing games that are all mostly winnable but still competitive is why Duke has one of the five strongest schedules in the country and has an outside shot at a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament.


3.    Evan Turner has my vote for player of the year

There is no player in the country doing so many different things at the level Evan Turner is this season. Despite missing six games due to a serious back injury, Turner has been unstoppable even after returning.

Here’s his stat line: 19.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists, two steals and one block per game; dude is the LeBron James of college basketball. Since returning from injury, the Buckeyes are 10-2.

When the postseason rolls around, teams with standout veteran superstars always seem to do big things. How far did Michael Beasley and O.J. Mayo make it in their only seasons in college? Exactly. Every championship team in the last five years has been led by a bona fide veteran star.

This doesn’t mean Ohio State is prime for a national championship run, but here’s betting Turner is a household name in a month or so.



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