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:
Kansas still may be the best – and highest seeded – team in the Big XII, but Texas showed this week that they are no worse than 1A. The Longhorns knocked off the Jayhawks in Austin on Monday and then won at Baylor on Saturday to improve to 8-2 in conference. The difference in both games was super sophomore Damion James. James had 12 of his 14 points and all 13 of his rebounds after halftime against Kansas, and then had 19 points and 10 boards against the Bears. James, who is averaging 13 points and 10.6 rebounds this season, now has 11 double-doubles on the year.
Make it 11 a row for the biggest surprise not named Drake this college basketball season. The young and ridiculously balanced Boilermakers beat Michigan State and Northwestern at home last week to improve to 12-1 in conference – a game better than Wisconsin and a game and a half better than Indiana. Against the Spartans, freshman Robbie Hummel (the team’s leading scorer at just under 12 points per game) had a career-high 24 points in a 60-54 win, and against the Wildcats, freshman E’Twaun Moore had a season-high 28 points as Purdue rolled 71-56.
Just when we were as down as we could get on the ACC bubble, Wake Forest (and Miami) stepped up and played their way into this week’s Field of 65. The Demon Deacons’ upset of Duke on Sunday was as convincing as it was surprising – they were the better team all night, especially over the last six or seven minutes as Duke tried to mount a comeback. Jeff Teague (26 points) and James Johnson (24 points, 16 rebounds) made some huge plays in that stretch as Wake pulled away for the 86-73 victory.
Memphis is still perfect this morning, and the Tigers have their sharp-shooting junior guard to thank. He scored 22 points (including an un-Memphis-like 8-of-10 from the line) as Memphis overcame a hot-shooting Houston team on Wednesday night to win 68-59. He was even more brilliant against on Saturday night, as he converted the game-winning three-point play with 6.5 seconds left as the Tigers escaped from UAB (and from the spelling-challenged Blazer fans) with a thrilling 79-78 victory. Douglas-Roberts finished with 32 points in that game to go along with seven rebounds.
See…we don’t HATE the Orange. We don’t think that they will make the tournament when all is said and done, but we also have to give credit where credit is due. Syracuse deserves a spot on this week’s Dean’s List for their impressive win over Georgetown on Saturday. The Orange exploded out of the gate in that game and never looked back, winning 77-70 and then celebrating in style with a very fast-developing court rush. Now if they can just take that kind of play on the road…
Also receiving votes: Drake (the Bulldogs won at Northern Iowa on Saturday to clinch their first MVC title since 1971), Michael Beasley (Beasley is now one double-double shy of tying Carmelo Anthony’s freshman record; he notched his 22nd double-double of the year Saturday by dropping 40 points and 17 rebounds on Missouri in Kansas State’s 37-point win), Charron Fisher (the nation’s leading scorer posted his second straight 40-point game by pouring in 41 in Niagara’s win over Iona on Saturday), J.J. Hickson (his team had a horrible week, but Hickson wasn’t to blame; he grabbed an ACC freshman record 23 rebounds in the Wolfpack’s loss to Clemson on Saturday), Brian Butch (the senior center banked in a three-pointer with 4.5 seconds left to give Wisconsin a stunning 68-66 win over Indiana in Bloomington on Wednesday), Craig Austrie (Austrie’s pull-up jumper from the elbow with 0.2 seconds left in overtime helped UConn escape South Florida with a thrilling one-point win on Saturday), Eric Gordon (Gordon led Indiana to a much-needed and extremely emotional win on Saturday, scoring 28 points in an 80-61 blowout of Michigan State), Alan Voskuil (the junior guard scored a season-high 30 points and added seven rebounds in Texas Tech’s upset of Kansas State on Wednesday), JaJuan Smith (the senior guard had 32 points in Tennessee’s convincing win over Arkansas on Wednesday), James Harden (Arizona State’s underrated freshman guard had 23 points, five rebounds, five assists, and five steals in the Sun Devils’ upset of Stanford on Thursday), Jerryd Bayless (Bayless had two more 30-point performances this week, scoring 33 in a win over Cal on Thursday and 31 in a loss to Stanford on Saturday), Mike Green (Green shook off a bum ankle and scored 10 of his team-high 24 points in overtime to lead Butler to an 83-75 win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Tuesday; he also added 13 rebounds and eight assists), Robert Morris’ Tony Lee and Tennessee-Martin’s Lester Hudson (Lee and Hudson each had triple-doubles last week; Lee had 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in a win over Central Connecticut State on Thursday, and Hudson put up 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in a win over Southeast Missouri on Saturday)
The SEC bubble
The SEC is looking more and more like it will end up a four-bid league. Mississippi and Florida went a combined 0-4 in conference games this past week, highlighted (or low-lighted) by the Rebels’ home loss to Auburn and the Gators’ home loss to LSU. Those losses knocked Mississippi out of our bracket, and left Florida on the Last Four In list – for now. The Gators only have one good win (Vandy), have lost four of five, and still have to play Mississippi State and Tennessee. They'll probably survive one more week (their lone game this week is at home against South Carolina), but after that, they may very well see their bubble popped.
The bloom is officially coming off the A-10’s rose. The league – which was looking worthy of five bids a few weeks back – is now hoping and praying that four teams make it. Rhode Island has slipped to a nine seed after losing at Temple this past week, and Dayton, which is 4-6 in its last 10 games, is down to a 10 seed after losing at home to Duquense last week. St. Joseph’s’ conference record is nice, but their only two “good” wins are over UMass – who has completely fallen on their face and out of the bubble picture for the moment.
North Carolina State
No team with anything to play for had a worse week than N.C. State did. The Wolfpack lost at woeful Boston College (by 17) and at home to Clemson to fall to 15-10 overall and 4-7 in the ACC. With their remaining schedule (UNC, at Virginia, Florida State, Duke, at Wake Forest), getting to 8-8 is going to be next to impossible. It’s probably safe to say we’ve seen the last of N.C. State in our bracket.
The Buckeyes were on thin ice even before last week started – and then they went out and lost at Michigan. The only thing keeping them in the bracket at this point is their remaining schedule. They still have Wisconsin, Purdue, and Michigan State coming in (on top of a trip to Indiana). A split in those four games (which we think is doable) will keep them safe. Anything less and they’ll be NIT-bound.
We don’t have much to add to this story that hasn’t already been said…we just wanted to show you this and this.
Also receiving votes: Michigan State (the Spartans slipped to 8-4 in the Big Ten after losing at Purdue and at Indiana last week), Pittsburgh (the Panthers were noncompetitive in a blowout loss at Marquette on Friday night), Texas A&M (the Aggies lost at home to Oklahoma State on Saturday to fall from a five seed down to a seven in our latest Field of 65), Kentucky (the Wildcats – who had been on a nice roll of late – were thoroughly embarrassed by Vanderbilt on Tuesday, losing 93-52; it was the worst SEC loss in Kentucky history), N.J.I.T. (the winless Highlanders are now two losses away from a “perfect” season; they travel to Longwood and Utah Valley State this week to close out their schedule), Stefhon Hannah (Missouri’s embattled leading scorer was kicked off the team this week for his role in a Jan. 27 nightclub brawl that left him with a broken jaw), Bob Donato (Donato’s “foul” call at the end of the Georgetown-Villanova game may have been within the rules, but it was still atrocious; 0.1 seconds were left in the game when Donato whistled Nova’s Corey Stokes for a foul after Stokes bumped Georgetown’s Jonathan Wallace some 70 feet from the basket; Wallace hit both free throws to give the Hoyas a 55-53 victory)