Dean's List-Academic Probation is a weekly column that analyzes all of the highlights and lowlights from the previous week's games. The teams, players, conferences, etc. that deserve praise for what they accomplished over the past week make our Dean's List; those deserving ridicule are put on Academic Probation.
Here are this week's honorees:
Jim Calhoun isn’t usually the lovey-dovey type, but after the shorthanded Huskies shocked Indiana in Bloomington on Saturday, Calhoun made sure to give a giant bear hug to every single one of his players. Calhoun said he couldn’t have been prouder of how his team played without suspended guards Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins, and he went on to call UConn’s 68-63 win over the 7th-ranked Hoosiers his most enjoyable victory since the Huskies beat Georgia Tech to win the national title in 2004. Calhoun will also be happy to know that the win – along with UConn’s one-point victory at Cincinnati on Tuesday – helped the Huskies leap back into our Field of 65 this week as an eight seed.
Love’s homecoming tour certainly brought out the worst in Oregon fans – but it also brought out the best in UCLA’s all-world freshman. He scored 26 points and pulled down 18 rebounds to silence the Pit Crew and lead the Bruins to an 80-75 win on Thursday, and followed up that performance with a 16-point, 21-rebound explosion against Oregon State on Saturday. UCLA coach Ben Howland praised Love after the OSU game for how well he handled all of the distractions surrounding him over the weekend, calling his center “so poised” and his play “unbelievable.”
The Baylor-Texas A&M game might have gone five more overtimes had it not been for the play of Jerrells. The junior scored 11 of his career-high 36 points in the fifth and final overtime, and had 11 more points in the previous four OTs, to lead the Bears to a huge road win. Jerrells played 53 minutes in the game, made 20 of 24 free throws and added eight assists for Baylor, which picked up its first win over a ranked team since February 2003.
If the first few weeks of the Big East taught us anything, it was that anyone (except Rutgers) could beat anyone. This week, though, even the last-place Scarlet Knights got into the act. Fred Hill’s squad, which came into the week winless in conference play, upset Villanova at home on Wednesday, and then pulled off the biggest shocker in the Big East this season by crushing No. 17 Pitt at the Peterson Events Center on Saturday. Rutgers outscored the Panthers 45-25 in the second half of that game to erase a seven-point halftime deficit and to lift the Scarlet Knights, temporarily at least, out of the Big East basement.
IUPUI coach Ron Hunter
Hunter had hoped that by coaching barefoot in his team’s game against Oakland on Tuesday he could raise awareness – and 40,000 pairs of shoes – for Samaritan’s Feet, a charity that collects and distributes athletic shoes to needy children in Africa. In the end, Hunter’s efforts resulted a whole lot more than that. By tip-off, over 110,000 shoes had already been collected, and an emotional Hunter said after the game that he heard there are more on the way. For more on Hunter’s gesture, or to donate shoes yourself, check out the official website for Samaritan’s Feet here.
Also receiving votes: Kentucky (the Wildcats held the high-octane Tennessee offense to a season-low 66 points in a six-point upset win at Rupp Arena on Tuesday), Drake (the Bulldogs showed that they were worthy of their first Top 25 ranking in 33 years by winning twice last week, including an overtime victory at Creighton), Purdue (we showed faith in the Boilers by putting them in the bracket last week, and they rewarded us with a rush-worthy 60-56 win over No. 11 Wisconsin on Saturday), Mississippi State (led by Charles Rhodes’ 26 points and a stifling defense, the Bulldogs routed Mississippi at home on Saturday to stay unbeaten in the SEC and earn a spot on this week’s Field of 65), D.J. Augustin (the sophomore scored Texas’ last 10 points and finished with 26 for the game in a 63-61 win at Oklahoma State on Monday), Chris Lofton (the Vols’ sharp-shooting senior had five three pointers against Kentucky on Tuesday to set the SEC record for career threes with 367), Tyler Hansbrough (the All-American scored 27 of his season-high 35 points in the second half as North Carolina beat Miami 98-82 on Wednesday), Derrick Rose (the super-frosh had 19 points, nine assists and eight blocks in Memphis’ win over Gonzaga on Saturday), Blake Griffin (in his earlier-than-expected return to the lineup, Oklahoma’s star freshman had 17 points and 15 rebounds in 22 minutes as the Sooners won at Baylor 77-71 on Saturday), Patrick Ewing, Jr. and Jesse Sapp (Sapp’s step-back three with six seconds left and Ewing’s acrobatic block at the buzzer capped a furious Georgetown comeback and gave the Hoyas a crazy 58-57 win at West Virginia on Saturday), Jerryd Bayless and Chase Budinger (Arizona’s dynamic duo combined for 45 points in the Wildcats’ upset of Washington State on Thursday, and then combined for 51 points in a win over Washington on Saturday), Michael Beasley (the nation’s leading rebounder and fourth-leading scorer had 29 points and 13 rebounds in Kansas State’s win at Colorado on Wednesday and 33 points and 15 boards in the Wildcats’ blowout of Iowa State on Saturday), DeMarcus Nelson (the senior guard scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half as Duke rallied to beat Maryland on the road on Sunday night)
The Wildcats are a prime example of why polls and brackets are two totally different things. Until this week, Villanova was ranked somewhere in the teens in both the AP and ESPN polls. But after bad losses at Rutgers and at home against Notre Dame this week, ‘Nova is now barely clinging to a bid, and an argument could be made that they don’t belong in the field at all. They have no OOC wins, they are the lowest ranked Big East team in our field this week, and with games at Pittsburgh and at home against Syracuse coming up, their days in the bracket could be numbered.
The Pac-10 has been a seven-bid league for most of the year, but if Oregon doesn’t right itself in a hurry, the conference may end up not doing any better than six. The Ducks’ mini-freefall continued last week with home losses to UCLA and USC, extending their losing streak to four games, and dropping them out of the bracket for the first time all season (they had been as high as a four seed in early December). Their loss to the Trojans on Saturday was especially painful – the Ducks forced overtime on a buzzer beater by Bryce Taylor, but then proceeded to give up 21 points in the extra session in a 95-86 loss.
Dayton might have the best OOC resume of anyone in the A-10, but so far, their performance in league play has left a lot to be desired. The slumping Flyers extended their A-10 losing streak to three last week by falling at Xavier and at Richmond. Neither of the games were close: Xavier’s defense held Brian Roberts to a season-low five points in a 26-point win on Thursday, and Richmond led by as many as 25 points early in the second half in an 80-63 win on Saturday.
It sure didn’t take long for Cleveland State to give back the two game lead it had built over Butler in the Horizon standings. The Vikings lost games at Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wisconsin-Milwaukee last week (the first two games of a four-game road trip) to fall to 12-7 overall and 7-2 in the league. Butler, meanwhile, won both of its games to move back into first place – and back in the driver’s seat for home court advantage in the Horizon conference tournament.
Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins
Dyson and Wiggins certainly aren’t the first underage college basketball players to enjoy a little cognac and vodka, but they might be the first to get caught doing so by campus police – in a random parking lot – on the eve of their team’s biggest game of the year. The sophomore guards, who were immediately suspended by UConn coach Jim Calhoun, have already missed two games, and they remain on indefinite suspension until the results of drug tests taken at the scene are determined. If you’re Wiggins, you’re probably pretty nervous right now…
Also receiving votes: Boston College (the Eagles probably would have snuck into the bracket this week if they could have just beaten Virginia Tech at home on Saturday; instead, they shot just 37 percent from the floor in an 81-73 overtime loss), Virginia (the Cavaliers dropped out of the bracket – and into the ACC’s basement – by losing at Florida State and at home to Georgia Tech last week), Providence (the up-and-down Friars reappeared in our bracket last week, and then went out and lost to Seton Hall at home and Syracuse on the road this week to fall back to the Next Four Out list), Arizona State (the Sun Devils – with a three-game road trip looming – got swept by Washington and Washington State at home last week and fell to a 10 seed in this week’s bracket), the Mayo family bank account (USC’s star freshman – or more than likely his family – had to donate $460 to charity last week after Mayo received and used two Nuggets-Lakers tickets that were given to him by Nuggets’ star Carmelo Anthony; by repaying the money, Mayo avoided any potential punishment or suspension by the NCAA), C.J. Giles’ college career (two years after Kansas coach Bill Self gave Giles the boot, Oregon State interim coach Kevin Mouton did the same; while no official for the dismissal was given, Giles had previously been benched for a Jan. 3 game against Arizona because he was late more than once for practice)