Happy March, my fellow Hoop Thinkers. It's awards season in college basketball, so to tip things off, I figured I would give out my awards for player of the year, coach of the year and rookie of the year in the Big Six conferences. I realize I'm no Seth MacFarlane. (I'm not even Seth Greenberg, for that matter.) But I do have a laptop and some time to kill. The envelopes please ...
Other Hoop Thoughts
? I realize everyone is eager to pounce on Miami, but Georgia Tech has to be encouraged by the performance of 6-3 freshman guard Chris Bolden during the big win in Coral Gables on Wednesday night. Bolden scored a season-high 21 points of 4-of-8 three-point shooting. Could be a sign of things to come for the Yellow Jackets next year.
? I love that Trey Burke took 14 free throws and only three three-pointers in Michigan's win at Purdue. As I've often said, at home you can shoot threes, but on the road you've gotta shoot frees.
? Although I can't help but suspect Michigan would be a lot better off heading into the tournament if John Beilein had done more to develop his team's offensive game in the frontcourt. Of course, Jordan Morgan's ankle injury didn't help.
? Every time ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes calls a Florida game, he goes out of his way to remark on the maturation of Gators' guard Mike Rosario. Rosario transferred in from Rutgers, and in the past he forced a lot of shots and showed a bad attitude. Now he has grown up, and the Gators are a much better team for it.
? I feel bad for all the east coast fans with early bedtimes who haven't had much chance to watch New Mexico. This is a team full of guys who make good decisions, share the ball, and never take bad shots. And it doesn't have a single senior in the starting lineup.
? Speaking of which, you guys do know that the Mountain West Conference is ranked No. 1 in the RPI right now, right? FWIW.
? Lord help the rest of the basketball universe if Marcus Smart ever develops a long-range jump shot.
? VCU has a ton of athletes who are well-suited to run that havoc defense, but I'm not sure how skilled they are.
? How about Syracuse's James Southerland shooting 1-for-10 from behind the three-point line in Wednesday's win over DePaul. Even when the 'Cuse is winning by 21, this team can make you scratch your head.
? You think North Carolina sophomore guard P.J. Hairston likes being a starter? He has averaged 17.6 points since Roy Williams made the move.
? Anthony Marshall is often cited as UNLV's weak link, but let me tell you, there are a lot of teams that would love to have him as their point guard. He's tough, he's a leader, and for the most part he makes good decisions. Marshall was at his best on Tuesday night in helping the Rebels overcome a 10-point second-half deficit to beat Boise State. He had 16 points (on 5-for-6 shooting), seven assists and five rebounds. Some weak link.
? Here's something that doesn't get talked about enough: Gorgui Dieng's basketball IQ.
? The best part about Kelly Olynyk's All-America caliber season at Gonzaga is that it was the result of something we rarely see these days -- delayed gratification. Two years ago, he thought about transferring, but instead of quitting on his school, he decided to redshirt and use that year to get stronger and develop his game. I wish that more young men would show such patience.
? I don't understand why anyone would give Tom Crean flak for celebrating Indiana's Big Ten title on Tuesday night. They had planned on doing that along, and the loss to Ohio State did not prevent the Hoosiers from winning the title. What was he supposed to do, call it off because they lost? And people say I'm the captain of the No Fun Police squad.
? All right, coaches, I'll make you a deal. You get one time out per game. That's right, one. In return, I will remove all -- and I do mean all -- restrictions on how much you can work with your own players. Spend as many hours with them in the off-season, and you can start holding practices as early as you want and for as long as you want. Will you sign?
? I still miss the Marquette bat.
? Anyone else noticing the quality job Chris Mack is doing at Xavier? He only lost virtually his entire team from last year, but the Musketeers beat Saint Louis Wednesday night to put themselves squarely on the bubble. I don't know that they'll get into the tournament, but just to be in this position is pretty amazing.
? Arizona and Michigan State have the same problem: a scoring point guard who's not really a point guard, and who will inevitably make the crucial decisions on game-deciding possessions. Sink or swim, baby.
? Is it just me, or is Colorado's Andre Roberson the most underrated player in the country? He's only 6-7, but he's leading the nation in rebounds (11.5 per game) and he's second in the Pac-12 in steals (2.3).
? That sure was an ugly fight at the end of the St. John's-Notre Dame game. It takes two to tango, but it seems to me there's been a lot of turmoil at St. John's the last few years.
? When I asked Duke center Mason Plumlee during a CBS Sports Network interview on Wednesday what he expected from Ryan Kelly against Miami, Plumlee told me he thought Kelly would play about 10 minutes, tops. Just shows you how incredible that performance was.
? Love this quote from Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings during the SEC teleconference this week: "We can only try to control how we play. Heck, we don't even do that very well."
? The Ivy League should just go ahead and hold a conference tournament already.
? Say what you want about Conference USA, but it is really, really, really hard to go undefeated in your league. Tip o' the cap, Memphis.
The Hoyas need to bounce back after that loss at Villanova, and I don't trust Syracuse's guards.
Florida has been mediocre away from the O Dome, and it's going up against a desperate home team. I like the combination.
Kansas State has a size advantage inside, and its big men aren't great scorers. I'll take the Smarts at home.
The Bruins were godawful in losing at Washington State on Wednesday night. They usually play well when they feel like they have something to prove.
Louisville won't need overtime, but it will need some better play from Peyton Siva. Where have we heard that before?
The Vols are playing as well as anyone in the SEC right now. They're at home, playing a team that can't win away from home, with a potential NCAA bid on the line. Layup.
The Musketeers have played themselves into the bubble conversation, and they beat Butler by 15 points waaaaayyy back in November. The Bulldogs have lost two straight, and that streak might extend to three Thursday night at UMass. Either way, they'll be playing at home looking for a bounceback game.
Normally, I would go with the home team because most teams are running on fumes at this time of year, but I think the Blue Devils are benefiting from renewed energy thanks to Ryan Kelly's return. Plus, they need a big road win to fortify their argument for a No. 1 seed.
The Owls have very quietly been playing some good basketball lately, having won eight of their last nine. VCU had a nice comeback win over Richmond on Wednesday night, which means the Rams' pendulum is ready to swing the other way.
I'm tired of trying to figure out the Big Ten, and these guys are tired of playing each other. The Wolverines are at home. That's good enough for me.