Joshua S. Kelly-US PRESSWIRE
The hoop season continues to gain speed and momentum, as a bit more clarity is apparent with each passing week. Still, there are many unknowns. And that will remain so, as this is a slow week of action with many schools in finals week. Here’s a look at the week ahead, with the best games coming on Saturday.
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Time to mix some hoops and basketball in my daily links. But this item on expansion caught my eye. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said that recent Big Ten expansion that added Rutgers and Maryland was done to keep Penn State happy.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Up until Saturday night, Illinois’ season has been described in strange terms. At that point, it was “surprising” that Illinois was undefeated. The Illini won the Maui Invitational, which was a very “prestigious” early-season tournament. This isn’t normally how one talks about an undefeated team that’s ranked in the top-15.
Minnesota’s Tubby Smith notched his 500th career coaching victory in Saturday night’s 71-57 win at Southern Cal. A 22-year coaching veteran, Smith’s also been the head man at Tulsa (79 wins), Georgia (45) and Kentucky (263), where he won the 1998 national title in his first season in Lexington. Smith is 113-65 in five-plus season in Minneapolis, and he owns a career 500-210 clip.
Minnesota made the long trip West worthwhile, extending its winning streak to six games and giving coach Tubby Smith his 500th career victory. Andre Hollins led four players in double figures with 14 points in the 14th-ranked Gophers’ 71-57 win over Southern California on Saturday night.
On the first Saturday sans Big Ten football, BTN aired five consecutive men’s basketball games. It all started at noon ET and came to an end just before 10:30 p.m. There were too many highlights to count during the 10-plus hours of action, but it’s safe to say none were bigger than Victor Oladipo and Sam Thompson’s ridiculous dunks.
Brandon Paul scored 35 points to lead No. 13 Illinois over No. 10 Gonzaga 85-74 on Saturday in a matchup of unbeaten teams. Tracy Abrams added 14 points for Illinois (10-0) and new coach John Groce is off to the best debut for an Illinois coach in the team’s modern history.