Monday, November 30, 2015

My AP Top 25 ballot this week

Another crazy week in college basketball -- which makes filling out a Top 25 ballot fun, from where I'm sitting.

While the top nine teams in last week's AP poll all held serve, there was turmoil among the next 16 (actually 17) teams. The No.'s 10, 11, 13 (twice), 14 (twice), 15, 17, 18 (twice), 19, 20 (twice), 22 (twice) and 25 teams all lost.

With that in mind, we've got no less than six new teams in this week's rankings -- and it probably could have been more. There are about a dozen other teams that could easily be ranked, and really there's not much if anything separating a batch of about 20-25 teams overall.

So, hello Syracuse, Purdue (yeah, I was late to the party, but I'm here), Providence, Xavier, Oregon and George Washington. Goodbye California, Wichita State, Indiana, LSU, Miami and Notre Dame.

UConn? Yes, it was one of those two-loss teams this past week. But the losses to Syracuse and Gonzaga, by a combined six points, on a neutral court isn't quite enough to jettison the Huskies from my Top 25. Especially since I had them ranked 13th last week. No doubt, UConn left the Bahamas with plenty of questions. But there is a lot of talent on this team, and I believe the Huskies will figure it all out.

1. Maryland
2. Kentucky
3. Michigan State
4. Kansas
5. North Carolina
6. Virginia
7. Iowa State
8. Oklahoma
9. Duke
10. Villanova
11. Purdue
12. Syracuse
13. Gonzaga
14. Xavier
15. Providence
16. Arizona
17. Cincinnati
18. SMU
19. Utah
20. Vanderbilt
21. Texas A&M
22. UConn
23. Oregon
24. Butler
25. George Washington

Thursday, November 26, 2015

UConn-Syracuse. What more needs to be said?

UConn and Syracuse both held their ends of the bargain, and we end up with the best Thanksgiving Day rivalry game of all when the Huskies and Orange meet at 3:30 p.m. in a Battle 4 Atlantis semifinal game.


Only three current UConn players (Omar Calhoun, Amida Brimah and Phil Nolan) have experienced the Husky-Orange rivalry first-hand. But the ones who haven't are looking forward to it.

Rodney Purvis had the best quote:

"It's definitely a huge game. I remember being in high school when the went into, like, five or six overtimes. My mom let me stay up and watch that game. I'm happy to be a part of this game tomorrow. It should be a really good game."

As for Jim Boeheim? Well, I understand a coach might not want to talk about an opponent he doesn't even know he's facing yet, so he wouldn't discuss UConn after his Wednesday afternoon win over Charlotte. Still, I thought he might at least comment on how special it might be to meet up with the Huskies again. Instead, I got a "you guys" from him:

So, apparently, "us guys" -- the media -- are the only ones who wanted to see this game. Not the fans. Not ESPN. Not anyone here at the tournament. Just "us guys."

Oh, and as for Wednesday's win over Michigan? Impressive. Very impressive.

Here's Sam Cassell, Jr. talking about his breakout game.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

UConn ready to begin action in Battle 4 Atlantis

Some articles and video from the Bahamas, where UConn is set to begin play in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament Wednesday night against Michigan. Gotta say I'm impressed by the amount of UConn fans here at Atlantis. Husky fans haven't always traveled well to early-season tournaments or even the NCAA tourney, but I think they're only outnumbered by Syracuse fans here. Of course, Syracuse fans tend to stick out a little more (because they wear orange ... that wasn't meant to be a joke!).

And it's always good to see R.J. Evans, who's here as a grad assistant for Shaka Smart at Texas.

Shaka Smart had some good things to say about Terry Larrier (who is here with the team. Transfers sitting out a year are traveling these days. Apparently, Duke started the trend):

Kevin Ollie on Michigan:

And John Beilein on UConn:

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

After all that, UConn-Michigan game WILL be available to Comcast subscribers

Here's the release sent out by AXS TV on Tuesday afternoon:

AXS TV’s exclusive primetime coverage of the 2015 Battle 4 Atlantis Men’s College Basketball
Tournament, which features University of Michigan vs. University of Connecticut Nov. 25 at
9:30 p.m. ET, will now be available to Comcast subscribers in Connecticut on channel 90, 190 or

AXS TV’s channel feed will be available temporarily on Comcast starting Wednesday, Nov. 25 to
Friday, Nov. 27 encompassing the entire tournament. AXS TV’s Battle 4 Atlantis coverage
includes two games each night at 7 p.m. ET and 9:30 p.m. ET with commentary by Kenny Rice,
Seth Davis and Tom Walsh.

The full tournament schedule and channel listings in the Hartford-New Haven area are as

Wednesday, Nov. 25

Game 3: Texas A&M vs. University of Texas live at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT
Game 4: University of Michigan vs. University of Connecticut live at 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT

Thursday, Nov. 26

Game 7 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT
Game 8 at 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m.PT

Friday, Nov. 27

Game 11 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT
Game 12 at 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT

More information about the 2015 Battle 4 Atlantis Men’s College Basketball Tournament can be
found here:

AXS TV channel listings in Connecticut are as follows, for zip code-specific listings please go to

 Comcast Ch. 90, 190, or 192
 DirecTV Ch. 340
 DISH Ch. 167
 Thames Valley Communications Ch. 702
 Frontier FiOS Ch. 1106

Sunday, November 22, 2015

My AP Top 25 ballot this week

Lots of turmoil among the top 25 this week, which is how we like. Makes picking a new ballot each Sunday night/Monday morning all the more challenging ... and enjoyable.

We stick with Maryland at No. 1, even though the Terps had to rally to beat Rider, at home, and also nearly lost to 1-3 Georgetown (though the Hoyas are still pretty good). We welcome Miami and bid farewell to Michigan. Really wanted to get Tulsa and George Washington in there, after their respective wins over Wichita State and Virginia. But both came on their respective home floors, which makes so much of a difference. It's why I'm not even punishing North Carolina all that much for losing to Northern Iowa. There really aren't too many easy "true" road games in college basketball.

Plus, I wasn't quite comfortable having four American Conference teams in my Top 25. Yet. But that could happen. The league looks pretty strong at the top, with UConn, SMU, Cincinnati and Tulsa all fielding very good teams. Memphis, Temple and Houston remain to be seen. After that? BIG drop-off.

1. Maryland
2. Kentucky
3. Michigan State
4. Kansas
5. North Carolina
6. Virginia
7. Iowa State
8. Oklahoma
9. Duke
10. Gonzaga
11. Arizona
12. California
13. UConn
14. Villanova
15. Wichita State
16. Indiana
17. LSU
18. SMU
19. Cincinnati
20. Miami
21. Utah
22. Notre Dame
23. Vanderbilt
24. Texas A&M
25. Butler

So about that Jalen Adams slow start ...

With so much depth and talent, UConn will have different players stepping up each night. Likewise, it's inevitable some good players will have stretches where they don't put up big numbers. Like Jalen Adams. Until Saturday.

Adams broke out with easily his best game as a collegian, with 14 points, six assists, two steals and just one turnover, in the Huskies' easy win over Furman. He wasn't the only star, but it was a good sign to see the freshman break out just as UConn embarks on its trip to the Bahamas.

Also, here's a little update on New Haven's Tremont Waters, who is courting suitors like Virginia, Stanford and Villanova while still being recruited by UConn, Providence, North Carolina and Duke.

And, finally ...

Hail Atlantis!!!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Play zone against UConn at your own peril

Rodney Purvis worked very hard on his jump shot over the off-season, and it showed on Tuesday night in UConn's 85-66 dismantling of New Hampshire.