Malik Golden Commits to Penn State
August 24, 2011 – | No Comment

Before a crowd of his teammates, coaches and parents, Cheshire Academy athlete Malik Golden announced he was choosing Penn State over Iowa, Boston College and hometown favorite, UConn finally ending the recruitment of one of …

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Wild weekend sets up an exciting week of basketball

Submitted by on January 17, 2011No Comment

Before I get into the article, let me introduce myself to everyone. My name is Jeff Lowe, I am a sophomore at Penn State and majoring in broadcast journalism. One of my biggest hobbies for years has been NCAA Basketball and Bracketology. Not until recently however, have I blogged and posted my brackets online. Back in November I entered to blogging world with the creation of my NCAA Basketball blog – After getting off to a good start, and even having my bracket featured in the Bracket Matrix, I have decided to expand my blog. As a Cleveland sports fan, this is the best way I can put it, “I am taking my talents to Nittany White Out.” Whether they are real talents or not is up to you, but I hope everyone enjoys the NCAA Basketball analysis and weekly Bracketology updates I will be posting on this website. For full Bracketology, past posts and breakdowns just head over to my blog. Thank you for reading, and I hope everyone enjoys my posts.

Ohio State’s win guarantees them a #1 ranking, while Penn State proves to be relevant

Jared Sullinger has been as good as advertised this season for Ohio State
  • With a Duke loss to Florida State, all Ohio State had to do to secure the title of #1 team in the land was beat Penn State. Sounds easy right? Despite dominating Penn State over the years, Ohio State struggled to put away Penn State on Saturday. All throughout the first half the Nittany Lions stuck with the Buckeyes, and even held the lead for most of the first 20 minutes. The Buckeyes appeared to have put Penn State away early in the second half as they broke out to a quick 10 point lead. However, the Nittany Lions refused to go away as they regained the lead with just under 3 minutes remaining. It was a team effort that got Penn State back in the game against Ohio State. Usually Penn State hangs on one or two players (usually Talor Battle) to carry them to a victory. In Columbus, Penn State used a balanced attack from all five of their starters. David Jackson, Talor Battle, Andrew Jones and Jeff Brooks had 19, 15, 11 and 11 points respectively. Even sophomore guard Tim Frazier contributed with 8 points, 5 assists and a perfect 4 for 4 shooting performance. Unfortunately for Penn State, with under just a minute left in the game, Ohio State’s super freshman Jared Sullinger took over and single handily won the game for the Buckeyes. First, Sullinger backed down Andrew Jones, drew a foul, made the shot and forced Jones out of the game with 5 fouls. Penn State picked up an and-one of their own to tie the game at 66-66, but Sullinger struck once again. With Andrew Jones off the floor, the less athletic Billy Oliver came on for Penn State and for the second straight possession Penn State allows Sullinger to back down in the lane and get an and-one. Sullinger made the free throw and gave Ohio State the 3 point lead with 15 seconds remaining. The Nittany Lions had an unorganized and sloppy final play that resulted in no points and an Ohio State victory. With the win, Ohio State is off to their best start under coach Thad Matta at 18-0, and now owns the #1 ranking in the country. Penn State on the other hand may have lost, but did gain a lot of respect from people across the country with a very impressive win. After a loss to Maine at home in December, Penn State has managed to get their season back on track. Two wins over ranked opponents, Michigan State and Illinois, has given Penn State hope in their chase for an NCAA Tournament berth.

More analysis after the jump

Duke shakes off sluggish first half to knock off Virginia

  • Duke had their first bad shooting night when they fell to Florida State in Tallahassee on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the 31% shooting performance carried over into their contest with Virginia in Cameron Indoor on Saturday afternoon. Duke shot 34% in the first half and was down 31-25 to a mediocre Virginia team at the half. After three consecutive miserable halves, Duke finally woke up in the second half as they scored 51 points and shot around 65% from the floor. Duke pulled away in the end and won convincingly 76-60. Most people expected Duke to romp through Virginia and bounce back well against Virginia, that being said it is no surprise Duke had a bit of a hangover after a tough loss to Florida State. Nolan Smith led the charge for Duke with 29 points, 6 assists and 7 rebounds. Smith’s improvement as an all-around point guard is going relatively unmentioned throughout the season. Smith had struggled in the past by being too one dimensional at the point guard position. However, since Kyrie Irving went down with his toe injury, Smith has been outstanding for the Blue Devils. That being said, Duke has shown some issues with creating their own opportunities on offense. When the Blue Devils defense exposes teams and forces turnovers they will score loads of points. If a team limits turnovers and plays an efficient game on offense, like Florida State did, then Duke will struggle with some of the more talented teams throughout the year. Duke threw up over 30 three pointers against Florida State and failed to establish an offensive presence in the paint. Florida State is better than their record indicates and bolsters an outstanding defense, but it shows that top teams in the country will be able to have advantages against Duke if they play an efficient game.

Big East powers Connecticut, Syracuse, Georgetown and Pittsburgh roll

Kemba's supporting cast is slowly becoming more effective
  • All four teams had fairly easy days on the court as they rolled to victories by an average margin of 16 points. Connecticut did not get tested throughout the game after they jumped to an early 13-4 lead and never looked by. A 15 to 1 run in the second half that launched Connecticut’s lead to 65-41 sealed the deal for the Huskies 14th overall win and 3rd Big East win as they won 82-62. Kemba Walker had 31 points and didn’t play in the last 7 minutes of the game. The good news for the Huskies was that the recent help from Walker’s supporting cast continued against DePaul. Jeremy Lamb, Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith were all big for Connecticut as they used an up-tempo attack to breakdown DePaul’s full-court press and hammer the Blue Demons. Syracuse got tested early by a surprisingly good Cincinnati team, however used a combined effort from Brandon Triche, Rick Jackson and Scoop Jardine who together scored 37 to run away from the Bearcats in the second half to win 67-52. Undefeated Syracuse’s next opponent, Pittsburgh, didn’t have any issues whatsoever from Seton Hall. Despite shooting below their season average in shooting percentage, the Panthers used a big 15 point advantage at the half to bury the Pirates early. Pittsburgh went on to win big 74-53, and improve their record to 17-1 and 5-0 in the Big East. After dropping three straight games in Big East play, Georgetown got back on track with their 74-65 victory over a scrappy Rutgers squad. Austin Freeman’s 25 points helped the Hoyas recover from a poor shooting night against Pittsburgh on Wednesday (38% from the floor) to shoot nearly 50% on the day.

Villanova and Louisville need second half comebacks to grabs impressive wins

  • Unlike their Big East foes, Villanova and Louisville struggled with their opponents to end their weeks with strong victories. Villanova found themselves down by 12 to un-ranked Maryland with 10:40 to go in the second half when they finally were able to end their shooting slump. The Wildcats ended the game on a 22 to 9 run to close out a 74-66 victory in Philadelphia. Villanova, who does not have a very strong out of conference resume, picked up a good win over a bubble team in Maryland as they now finish the year with only Big East games remaining. Maryland on the other hand drops to 11-6 on the season and has now lost to Pittsburgh, Illinois, Temple, Duke and Villanova by an average of 6 points. It appears that the Terps might be sitting on the bubble the rest of the season. Marquette is another team who appears to be stuck on the bubble, and a win over Louisville would’ve gone a long ways towards their NCAA Tournament hopes. The Golden Eagles found themselves up 65-49 with just over five minutes remaining, however Preston Knowle’s four three pointers helped trigger a 22-9 by Louisville that helped complete the comeback. Kyle Kuric’s layup with 4 seconds left was the eventual game winning basket that sealed a 71-70 victory for the Cardinals.

Kansas and Texas A&M survive Big XII thrillers to stay unbeaten in the conference

  • Kansas has had its nation leading home court winning streak (now at 69 games) tested throughout the past few years, especially this year. That being said, many people did not expect perennial Big XII basement dweller Nebraska to take the Jayhawks down to the wire on Saturday. Throughout the day both Kansas and Nebraska had a tight battle, however the Cornhuskers at one point built up a 9 point lead. Kansas battled back to regain the lead late in the second half and matched all of Nebraska’s scoring possessions with scoring possessions of their own. Caleb Walker had a chance to tie the game with 13 seconds left, however that hit off the iron and with it fell the Cornhusker’s upset dream. Texas A&M was in a different spot than Kansas was as they were the underdogs in their game at home against Missouri. The Aggies might be the quietest power-conference team in college basketball this season. With a 16-1 record and quality wins over Temple, Washington and Oklahoma State, the Aggies grabbed another resume booster with a gutsy overtime win. An even game throughout the entire second half, Khris Middleton sent the game for overtime for Texas A&M with two clutch free throws. Middelton did the same thing in overtime as he made 3 free throws that helped seal Texas A&M’s 91-89 victory. Kansas and Texas A&M both have to face the Texas Longhorns this week. Kansas gets Texas on Saturday, while the Lonestar Showdown between the Aggies and the Longhorns will take place on Wednesday.

Quick thoughts from the weekend

San Diego State continues to be one of the most impressive teams in the country
  • San Diego State continues to impress as they moved to 19-0 with a win over New Mexico. The Lobos aren’t quite the team they were last year, however they were a good test for the Aztecs and they were also able to manage the game inside a treacherous and loud Pit Arena. Senior guard D.J. Gay was huge for San Diego State as he had 30 points on 7 three pointers and managed to get to the free throw line 14 times. The Top 10 showdown between San Diego State and Jimmer Fredette’s (the nation’s leading scorer) BYU squad is only nine days away.
  • Wisconsin continued their up and down Big Ten schedule with a 76-66 win over Illinois. The Badgers, now 3-2 in the Big Ten, have alternated a win and a loss in all five of their conference games. Illinois meanwhile dropped their second straight game after getting upset by Penn State on Tuesday. The road gets tougher for the Illini as they host Michigan State and Ohio State between now and Saturday.
  • Northwestern looked at the 2010-2011 season as their best chance to make their first NCAA Tournament in their program’s history. After opening the season 9-1, the Wildcats have dropped four of their last six to open to Big Ten play with a 2-4 conference record. That record includes an overtime loss to Michigan State this past weekend in East Lansing. Northwestern has now lost both games to Michigan State by a combined seven points. The Spartans shut down John Shurna, as he was held to only 6 points in Northwestern’s 71-87 loss.

The Dukes are off to a 3-0 start in the A10 after shocking Temple
  • Two mid-major teams, Central Florida and Temple, were stunned this past weekend as they got run out of the gyms they were playing in. The Golden Knights dropped their second straight game as they got upended by conference foe Southern Miss 86-69. Central Florida is still 14-2 and is led by Michael Jordan’s son Marcus (20 points in the game), but the room for error for the surprising squad from Orlando is slowly becoming smaller. Temple on the other hand was expected to be a Top 25 team this season. What people didn’t expect was for Temple to get blown out by Duquessne. The 78-66 loss for Temple was their first loss in Atlantic-10 play since February 6th of last year.
  • Tennessee continued their wild season as they won their first game without head coach Bruce Pearl. The Volunteers knocked off cross-state rivals Vanderbilt 67-64 and was led by Scotty Hopson’s impressive flat-top haircut and his 16 points. Tennessee did something they’d struggled to do all year: beat an un-ranked opponent. They are now 7-6 against un-ranked teams, but hold an impressive 3-0 record against Top 25 teams.

Georgia and Colorado have surprised everyone this year
  • Colorado and Georgia continue to surprise and impress the college basketball world as they improved their NCAA Tournament resume yet again this weekend. Georgia improved to 13-3 and 2-1 in the SEC as they dominated Ole Miss. Colorado meanwhile had wins over Missouri and Kansas State, before beating Oklahoma State in Boulder 75-71. The Buffaloes are now tied atop the Big XII with Texas A&M.
  • Both Washington and Minnesota picked up easy double-digit victories on Sunday as they took down California and Iowa respectively. The Huskies had a dominating 92-71 win where they saw Isaiah Thomas, Justin Holiday and Matthew Bryan-Amaning score over 20 points each. Minnesota used a big boost from Trevor Mbakwe, as he scored 16 points off the bench for Gophers in their 69-59 victory.
  • The two biggest games on Saturday, St. John’s vs. Notre and West Virginia vs. Purdue, both ended with huge upsets. St. John’s absolutely pounded Notre Dame in Madison Square Garden. The Red Storm knocked off the Irish 72-54 as Justin Brownlee, D.J. Kennedy, Dwight Hardy and Malik Boothe all helped out with double-digit scoring days. Steve Lavin’s first year at St. John’s continues to be a huge success as they improve to 11-5 and 4-2 in the Big East. It appears that the Red Storm are on the right track to go back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002. West Virginia got off to a very slow start in Big East play with two early losses, but since then the Mountaineers have been on fire. That continued with their huge out of conference victory over Purdue on Sunday. Four West Virginia players had double digits in scoring including Kevin Jones who scored 17 points and had the go-ahead three pointer with just over 6 minutes remaining in the game. West Virginia iced the game with big free throws down the stretch to knock off the Boilermakers for the first time in the schools history with a 68-64 finals score.

Key Games This Week -

  • Monday
    • #8 – Connecticut defeats #7 – Villanova – 61-59
    • #14 – Missouri defeats #24 – Kansas State – 75-59
    • #4 – Pittsburgh defeats #3 – Syracuse – 74-66
    • #2 – Kansas vs. Baylor – 9:30PM
  • Tuesday
    • #18 – Michigan State vs. #22 – Illinois - 7:00PM
    • Tennessee vs. Georgia – 7:00PM
  • Wednesday
    • #5 – Duke vs. North Carolina State – 7:00PM
    • St. John’s vs. #15 – Louisville – 7:00PM
    • Cincinnati vs. #16 – Notre Dame – 7:00PM
    • Penn State vs. #13 – Purdue – 8:30PM
    • #10 – Texas A&M vs. #11 – Texas - 9:00PM
  • Thursday
    • #25 – Arizona vs. #20 – Washington – 10:30PM
  • Saturday
    • George Mason vs. James Madison – 11:00AM
    • #1 – Ohio State vs. #22 – Illinois – 12:00PM
    • #7 – Villanova vs. #3 – Syracuse - 12:00PM
    • Wright State vs. Cleveland State – 2:00PM
    • Tennessee vs. #8 – Connecticut – 2:00PM
    • #24 – Kansas State vs. #10 – Texas A&M – 2:00PM
    • #21 – Saint Mary’s vs. Vanderbilt – 2:00PM
    • Temple vs. Xavier – 3:00PM
    • #11 – Texas vs. #2 – Kansas – 4:00PM
    • Oklahoma State vs. Baylor – 4:00PM
    • Cincinnati vs. St. John’s – 4:00PM
    • #12 – Kentucky vs. South Carolina – 6:00PM
    • Boston College vs. Florida State – 7:00PM
    • Marquette vs. #16 – Notre Dame – 7:00PM
    • Arkansas vs. Florida – 8:00PM
    • #9 – Brigham Young vs. Colorado State – 9:00PM
    • #18 – Michigan State vs. #13 – Purdue – 9:00PM
    • Iowa State vs. #14 – Missouri – 9:00PM
    • #25 – Arizona vs. Washington State – 10:30PM

Note: Bracketology will be released this evening (1/17/2011)

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