—Spread check: Virginia by 9.5.
—Our friends over at Streaking the Lawn preview the game in Charlottesville.
—Will the actual team score more tonight than the managers did last night?
—The Washington Post’s new Bracketology has Louisville as a five seed in the Midwest.
—Someone brought up zone defense to Jim Boeheim on the ACC coaches call, and it didn’t go over well.
“Is that a function of the way you play,” he asked Boeheim. “Is it easier to play more minutes when you’re playing zone all the time?”
Boeheim preceded the question describing Bourama Sidibe’s season of knee tendinitis and Brissett’s role on offense, so a switch to defending his core philosophy immediately fired him up.
“Well,” he started. “People who think that, Al, are full of shit ... we don’t work on defense?”
Boeheim then chuckled at the suggestion.
“You don’t watch our defense I guess,” he said. “We work just as hard, or harder in fact, than some teams playing man-to-man. So that doesn’t have anything to do with it. I think players can play big minutes. I just think some teams don’t play... big minutes, they play nine guys and they spread the minutes out and it’s good. We traditionally have played two or three guys heavy minutes anyway, this year we don’t really have an option.”
Never go after a man’s religion.
—In 21 of the last 25 years, college basketball’s eventual national champion has been ranked in the top 10 of the final AP poll of January. Good news for Nova and company.
—A look at the top 10 in CBB’s coach of the year race as we head into February. Louisville will face No. 1 tonight.
—Three Kentucky schools in the top four here, which is probably first for anything related to football.
—The ACC injury bug reared its ugly head again on Monday with the news that Miami’s leading scorer Bruce Brown is out for six weeks.
—North Carolina is also going to be without Jalek Felton for an indefinite period of time, but no one knows exactly why.
—We can fix college football statistics. We have the technology.
—Pretty awesome shot.
—Papa John has some critical words about the expansion of the stadium that bears his name. I’m not saying his point isn’t without some merit, but wouldn’t the time for these words have been, you know, two years ago? The expansion’s going to be finished in a few months. This is a done deal. It’s like trying to call a final possession timeout three hours after the game’s been over.
—Virginia thrives in late-shot-clock situations on both ends of the floor.
Word of the week: Efficient
That might be the best way to describe Tony Bennett’s team, although sometimes “efficient” can be viewed as a negative term that discredits a team’s athleticism. Virginia (20-1, 9-0 ACC) is both disciplined and athletic. And as Padgett pointed out Tuesday, UVA’s offense is an underrated element of how good the team is.
For example, the Cavaliers have attempted 1,051 shots this season. Of those attempts, 96.7 percent of them came in “non-transition” offensive situations, according to Hoop-Math.com. What’s more, Virginia’s top four scorers (Kyle Guy, Devon Hall, De’Andre Hunter and Ty Jerome) all have effective field-goal percentages better than 50 in non-transition offense. Jerome’s mid-range shooting percentage is 38.2, which is pretty solid, and it’s the worst of the quartet.
”A lot of teams have tried to speed them up,” Padgett said. “I just don’t think it’s very easy to do. They’re very efficient at what they do on both ends of the court. Obviously everybody talks about how good their defense is, rightfully so, but I think their offense is overlooked sometimes. They’re extremely efficient. ... They don’t take good shots; they take great shots. That’s why they’re so good.”
—The latest Shutdown Fullcast discussed the Brian VanGorder hire near the end.
—Joe Jacoby discusses what enshrinement in the Hall of Fame would mean to him.
—This is art that demands appreciation.
Guys. Brad Stevens was upset with his arms crossed in front of a fan who was upset with his arms crossed in front of another fan who was wearing a shirt with a picture of Brad Stevens upset with his arms crossed. pic.twitter.com/PCtYyn68Qj— Adam Davis (@daadvaims) January 30, 2018
—Virginia is the No. 1 overall seed in the first bracket projection from The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel. Louisville is an eight seed taking on Nevada.
—U of L’s financial situation at the moment is, well, it’s not great.
With state funding and private donations dwindling, the University of Louisville faces an “ominous” financial future, for which the only solution might be a long-term plan to grow the student body by 36 percent, its top leaders said Tuesday.
The stark and unusually candid discussion unfolded at a meeting of the board of directors of the nonprofit U of L Foundation, whose members include university board of trustees chairman David Grissom, vice chairman John Schnatter and interim President Greg Postel.
“If this were a private enterprise, it would be very concerning; you wonder about the efficacy of the business model,” Grissom told his colleagues on the board. “I hate to use the word ‘ominous,’ but it is.”
Postel added that another proposed state budget cut – which would reduce the university’s state funding to 1990s levels, not counting inflation – sets the university on a course toward “privatization.”
The discussion was prompted by figures showing that the total amount of new money pledged by donors to the university, including its athletics department, dropped to $43 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, from $75 million in the year that ended June 30, 2016.
—I’ve done a few radio spots in Phoenix this season and you wouldn’t believe the panic level of people out there that Bobby Hurley might leave Arizona State. That would explain this.
Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley has agreed to a 5-year extension, source told ESPN.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) January 31, 2018
—It’s time for Tom Izzo to stop deflecting and start talking.
—Like I’ve said before, pre-draft Lamar criticisms are going to be the death of me.
—The Big 12 has put together a transfer proposal that would allow players to transfer without penalty if their coach leaves or is fired or if the program they play for is hit with a postseason ban. Everyone seems to be in favor of the change, which means the NCAA will probably never go for it.
—A lot has happened with U of L’s president search since James Ramsey’s resignation. The Louisville Cardinal provides a recap.
—Congrats to Drew.
—Can Teddy Bridgewater be “the guy” in Minnesota again? Yeah.
Of the three veteran quarterbacks who are set to become free agents, former first-rounder Teddy Bridgewaterbrings the most intriguing set of circumstances, given a high degree of promise and potential that was derailed by a freak knee injury in August 2016. The question as to Bridegwater becomes his health, and Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks addressed that subject during a visit to PFT Live.
After explaining that Bridgewater had been “throwing dimes on us in practice” during the 2017 season, Kendricks provided a more specific assessment of where Bridgewater currently is.
“When I know when a route’s coming and I’m practicing against him and I feel like I’m in a perfect position to guard it and Teddy puts a ball in the outside corner,” Kendricks said, “and he completes it on me in practice where I get frustrated and I’m talking about it the rest of the practice, I can say that man can definitely still play, absolutely.”
—Here’s the U of L preview of tonight’s game.
—Louisville is pushing tempo more this year than it has in all but one of the last 15 seasons, but tonight it faces the slowest-paced team in the country.
Mahmoud and interim head coach David Padgett said Saturday that fast tempo was part of the game plan. They pressed full-court relentlessly and took advantage of an opponent playing without injured point guard Mitchell Wilbekin. They scored 19 points on the fast break and turned the game into a blowout.
Mahmoud said his team played with the same strategy against Boston College.
“We’re a lot better playing at this pace,” he said. “Everyone is more involved. I think we’re going to try to control the pace in Virginia, but at the end of the day, they force you to play at their pace and you just have to beat them at what they do.”
The stats show the difficulty of trying to speed up coach Tony Bennett’s pack-line defense. While Louisville is averaging 15.3 seconds per possession on offense (18th in the country), Virginia drags its opponents’ possessions on for 18.1 seconds (315th in the country).
The Cavaliers have not played a game with more than 68 possessions all season. Even Duke, which ranks 33rd in tempo, could only speed up Virginia to 65 possessions on Saturday in a 65-63 loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
—And finally, beat Virginia.