Connect with us


Full Court Press: Tobacco Road Trip

I had the opportunity to take in last Monday’s ACC clash at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va, between host Virginia (21-5, 10-4 ACC) and the NC State Wolfpack (13-13, 3-10 ACC).

It’s a great road trip and a wonderful opportunity to see big time basketball at its finest – The JPJ is an incredible arena with all the trimmings – large and vocal student section, amazing band and cheerleaders, awesome half time entertainment, loyal and knowledgeable fan base, and the best video board graphics in the country.

As you might expect, the place had nearly 15,000 fans in attendance, which was amazing considering the fact that the Charlottesville area was in the midst of a major snow and ice storm.

But that just is one more example of the passion for college hoops along Tobacco Road.

The environment inside the JPJ was simply electric.

And the basketball, well, I was anxious to see NC State’s “Cat” Barber (leads ACC in scoring and fourth in nation 24.1 ppg) in action against Virginia’s pack line defense.

Barber was coming off a superlative 38-point game in leading NC State to a 99-88 win over Wake Forest.

The 6-foot 2-inch Barber is one of the more dynamic players in the country who has surpassed the 30 point mark in five of his last seven games.

Virginia’s main objective was to stop, more like limit, the red-hot Barber, and that assignment belonged to one of the finest all-around players in the country, UVA’s Malcolm Brogdon.

Brogdon was up to the challenge, as Barber was rendered a non-factor in the game, scoring 14 points (10 off Brogdon), as the Cavs soundly whipped the Wolfpack, 73-53.

Brogdon furthered his credentials for ACC and National Player of the Year consideration by pouring in 22 points (9 of 13 from field). It was the 13th time this season that the senior has scored 20 or more points in a game for the Hoos.

Coach Tony Bennett has his squad playing at a high level and surging as they close in on March Madness.

The Road to Houston is wide open, in the year of anybody-can-beat anybody, and the Cavs, with a veteran team and that suffocating defense, are as good a bet as anyone to punch a ticket to Houston.


‘Nova states case for No. 1

Coach Jay Wright’s Wildcats (23-3, 13-1) made it to the No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history and defended their ranking with wins over DePaul, St. John’s, and most recently, an 83-67 thumping over Big Five rival Temple (16-9, 10-3 AAC).

Temple posed a potential trap game for the Wildcats. Coach Fran Dunphy’s Owls has had the habit of rising to the occasion in big games this year, with signature wins over UConn (twice) and SMU to their credit, as well as having the support of a raucous crowd at the Liacouras Center.

Interesting, the Owl’s lead the AAC (10-3) just ahead of SMU (9-4) and UConn (9-4). Houston, Cincinnati and Tulsa remain in the title hunt at 10-5.

There are three major differences between this year’s version of the Wildcats and last year’s squad, which went one-and-done in the tournament.

They are veteran team with Daniel Ochefu dominating the paint like a potential NBA lottery pick. AND they are playing much better team defense.

A Final Four team…..


It’s all over in the America East or is it?

Coach Steve Pikiel and the Stony Brook Seawolves (22-5, 13-1 America East) saw their bid for an unbeaten conference season come to an end when they lost to long-time rival Albany (22-7, 11-3 America East), 82-70, on February 17 in Albany.

Stony Brook is a lock to win the regular season title but the loss sets up a potential rubber match in the America East Conference tournament finals. At stake is the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Albany has spoiled the Seawolves dance party before. Will history repeat itself?


More drama in the CAA

Coach Joe Mihalik’s Hofstra Pride (19-8,11-4 CAA) kept their CAA title hopes alive last night with a thrilling 84-82 win over Towson on Rokas Gustys last second lay-up.

The Pride’s win in combination with league-leading UNC Wilmington’s (20-6, 12-3 CAA) loss to William & Mary (18-8, 10-5 CAA) left Hofstra just one game back in the regular season title chase.

The Pride gets another crack at the league-leaders when they travel to UNCW on February 25.

But Mihalik’s squad can’t overlook Sunday’s nationally-televised game (NBC Sports Network) against upset-minded Northeastern.

The game is scheduled to tip at 2 p.m.


Quote of the Week

“You can’t lose on Valentine’s Day, that’s a disgrace to my name,” said Michigan State’s Player of the Year Candidate, Denzel Valentine, when asked by CBS Sports in a postgame interview. The 6-foot 5-inch senior, who is rounding into form after missing four games due to knee surgery, poured in 30 points in an 88-69 Valentine’s Day romp over No.22 Indiana.


Little of this and a little of that …..

How about St. Joe’s who have found themselves tied for the lead in the A-10 with Dayton and VCU, all with 11-2 records.

Phil Martelli’s squad looked impressive in beating Dayton 79-70.

St. Joe’s (22-4 overall) with an RPI at 24 will be one of those teams to watch in the NCAA tournament.

The Wichita State Shockers (18-7, 12-2 MVC) saw their nation leading 43-game home winning streak come to a sudden halt last Saturday at the hands of the Northern Iowa Panthers (16-11 8-6 MVC), 53-50, in a Missouri Valley Conference showdown.

It’s a bit of a wakeup call for the Shockers who need to take care of business in the MVC tournament if they expect a bid to the NCAA.

The Purdue Boilermakers were the sole-surviving Division 1 men’s team to have outrebounded every opponent until last Saturday. Michigan whipped Purdue on the boards, 39-35, on their way to a 61-56 Big Ten win.

Last Saturday, Coach Mark Turgeon’s Maryland Terrapins saw their 27-game home winning streak come to end at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers, 70-57. Prior to this game, the Terps had never suffered a Big Ten loss on their home court.

A shout out to three boys high school hoop teams for their current ranking in the USA Today Sports Super 25 rankings.

St. Anthony’s (Jersey City, NJ) is No. 3, Neumann-Goretti HS (Philadelphia, PA) is No. 15 and St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, NJ) is No. 27.

And finally, congratulations to the Carmel (Indiana) HS swim team that picked up its 30th consecutive state swim title, which set a new national record for the longest winning streak in ANY SPORT!!!!


A Final word

If Duke makes it all the way to Houston Coach K will go down as having accomplished the greatest coaching job in NCAA history!

Selection Sunday is March 16 …. Keep shooting!


(Various wire reports used in the compiling the column)

Follow Bob on Twitter for all the latest in college hoop happenings, game highlights, features and more: @WhitneyBob

The following two tabs change content below.

Bob Whitney

Bob is a college basketball columnist here at He also covers Yale football and the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA.
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in College