Jeff Eisenberg

  • A side-by-side look at the leading contenders to rise to No. 1

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 hrs ago

    With top-ranked Oklahoma and second-ranked North Carolina both losing on Saturday night, it's likely that college basketball will have a new No. 1 team on Monday.

    The question is who should it be?

    In a jumbled mess of a season with plenty of good teams but no elite ones, there is no clear-cut answer to that question. The margin between the top teams is so paper-thin that at least six teams can make a legitimate case to be No. 1 on Monday including Oklahoma in spite of its 11-point road loss at Kansas State.

    Here's a side-by-side look at the six leading contenders to be No. 1 in order of how I'd rank them. Unless the Sooners retain the No. 1 ranking, their heir apparent will be the sixth different team to claim the top spot this season, joining North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan State and Kansas.

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    Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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  • Saturday's upsets reinforce the lack of a true No. 1 this season

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 21 hrs ago

    The next AP Top 25 poll should probably just start at No. 2. 

    In a chaotic, upset-riddled season with lots of good teams but no great ones, it's abundantly clear nobody is worthy of the No. 1 spot.

    Oklahoma became the latest top-ranked team to fall on Saturday night when the Sooners lost 80-69 on the road against a Kansas State that had previously won only two conference games. Second-ranked North Carolina also lost about an hour later, suffering an 80-76 upset at Notre Dame five days after it also lost to Louisville. 

    The back-to-back losses from the Sooners and Tar Heels marked only the seventh time in NCAA history that No. 1 and No. 2 fell against unranked opponents on the same day. The last time it happened was Jan. 21, 2006 when Duke lost at Georgetown and Florida lost at Tennessee.

    It's highly likely a new team will replace Oklahoma atop the polls next week, but good luck predicting who that will be.

    Whichever one of that quartet inherits the top spot from Oklahoma will become the sixth team to be ranked No. 1 already this season. North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan State and Kansas have also each been No. 1 at some point since mid-November. 

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  • Bubble breakdown: San Diego State escapes with crucial victory

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 22 hrs ago

    Sometimes it seems like San Diego State's win streak when ahead with five minutes to go is sheer sorcery.

    How else can you explain how the Aztecs won their Mountain West showdown with New Mexico in overtime on Saturday extended the streak to 161 in a game they trailed by five with less than 20 seconds to go?

    San Diego State still trailed by three when Winston Shepard scored a driving layup with 14 seconds to go, but New Mexico controversially turned the ball over on the ensuing inbound play. Referees ruled that Xavier Adams had not established himself as out of bounds in order to inbound the ball, a call the Mountain West office acknowledged was incorrect late Saturday night because Adams had one foot down out of play.

    A cold-shooting San Diego State team still needed a 3-pointer on its final possession to tie and the Aztecs got that from an unlikely source. Malik Pope scored his only basket of the night and the biggest basket of his career, a deep 3-pointer with  6.6 seconds left that sent the game into overtime and enabled the Aztecs to escape with a 78-71 victory.

    SATURDAY'S BUBBLE WINNERS

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  • Unlikely hero helps Villanova avenge its lone Big East loss

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    In 22 previous games this season, Villanova forward Darryl Reynolds had never scored more than six points.

    He more than tripled his season high Saturday in the Wildcats' impressive 72-60 road victory at 11th-ranked Providence.

    With Villanova's starting center Daniel Ochefu sidelined for a third straight game as a result of a concussion, Reynolds started in his place and scored 19 points on 9-for-10 shooting. Most of Reynolds' baskets came around the the rim on layups, tip-ins and deft back-to-the-basket post moves. 

     

    Nine of Reynolds' points came in the opening five minutes of the second half, enabling Villanova to extend its lead to 15 and give itself enough of a cushion to survive Providence's attempt to rally.  Reynolds also had 10 rebounds and two blocks, helping the Wildcats remain alone in first place in the Big East and avenge their lone league loss of the season.

    What was also encouraging for Villanova was the way it defended Providence's two stars.

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  • Stunning last-second mistake dooms Utah to a painful loss

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    The most relieved man at Gill Coliseum on Thursday night had to be Oregon State's Jarmal Reid.

    The ill-advised foul Reid committed in the final seconds didn't cost the Beavers a win because an opposing player subsequently made an even dumber mistake.  

    When Utah's Jordan Loveridge drew a foul on Reid and sank three consecutive free throws, the Utes moved in front by a single point with 2.2 seconds left. It seemed Utah was going to escape Corvallis with a victory until Utes' guard Brandon Taylor fouled Oregon State's Stephen Thompson as he went up for a half-court heave at the buzzer.

    Referees reviewed the play for several minutes before ruling that Taylor's foul occurred with one tenth of a second left in the game. Thompson then calmly hit all three free throws, giving Oregon State a memorable 71-69 victory.

    This play ➡️ Thompson Jr. fouled ➡️ scores all three from the line ➡️ BEAVS WIN.#Pac12Hoops #Pac12AfterDarkhttps://t.co/XT5wWAE5bT

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  • Bubble breakdown: Vanderbilt's win could launch late-season surge

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    The SEC's biggest underachiever showed how good it can be when playing up to its potential.

    Vanderbilt throttled first-place Texas A&M 77-60 on Thursday night, securing its first win over a Top 25 team in four years and sending a message that it's still capable of a late-season NCAA tournament push despite its previous struggles.

    At 13-9 overall and 5-4 in the SEC, Vanderbilt is a quintessential bubble team, one whose NCAA tournament fate will be determined by how it plays the next five weeks. The Commodores have played a tough schedule but they don't have much to show for it, having only beaten Texas A&M and Florida among the nine RPI top 50 opponents they've faced.

    What could help Vanderbilt is its upcoming schedule is favorable enough that the Commodores could build some February momentum. They face Ole Miss, Missouri, Auburn, Mississippi State and Georgia during the next 16 days before the SEC schedule stiffens once again the final two weeks of the regular season.

    Vanderbilt will win all those games if it plays at the level it did Thursday.

    THURSDAY'S BUBBLE WINNERS

    Other bubble winners: Gonzaga (defeated LMU);

    THURSDAY'S BUBBLE LOSERS

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  • Shrewdly designed last-second play helps UC Irvine edge Cal Poly

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    It took one of the college basketball season's most cleverly designed plays for UC Irvine to avoid an upset on Wednesday night at Cal Poly.

    With his team trailing by three and needing to traverse the length of the floor in 4.1 seconds, UC Irvine coach Russell Turner instructed guard Dominique Dunning to throw a baseball pass to 7-foot-6 center Mamadou N'Diaye standing on the left wing. It was Turner's hope that N'Diaye's height would allow him to catch a pinpoint pass cleanly and draw the attention of multiple defenders. 

    Two defenders rushed at N'Diaye as he caught the ball. N'Diaye threw a skip pass to a wide-open Jaron Martin spotted up on the other wing. The 38 percent 3-point shooter sank the game-tying jumper, enabling UC Irvine to force overtime and escape with a 78-72 victory.

    If this ain't #SCTop10 for @UCImbb, I don't know what is... Game-tying 3! #BWCMBB pic.twitter.com/upFjPdUoZI

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  • Bill Self: Brannen Greene's game-ending dunk 'totally classless'

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    Brannen Greene scored the final points of both halves in Kansas' 77-59 rout of Kansas State on Wednesday night, but the two baskets inspired entirely different reactions from his head coach.

    His four-point play to put Kansas ahead by 10 at halftime had Bill Self smiling and clapping. His ill-advised dunk to extend the Jayhawks advantage to 18 at the final buzzer had Self seething that Greene didn't just hold the ball until the game ended.

    "That was probably the biggest [expletive] move I've ever had a player do during a game," Self said on his postgame radio show. "To dunk the ball like that when the other team – even their players are going, 'How disrespectful to the game,' it certainly showed unbelievably poor sportsmanship.

    "I apologize to K-State and their players. I guarantee that will never happen again or he will never be in the game at the end of the game."

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  • Slain Mercer player had heartbreaking bond with 7-year-old girl

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    When Mercer athletic trainer Brad Crowe entered his office after a basketball game last Thursday night, he walked into an ambush.

    The 7-year-old daughter of one of his closest friends was waiting for him with a pressing question about her favorite player.

    Molly Hamlin climbed onto a treatment table, looked Crowe in the eyes and asked why he had cleared guard Jibri Bryan to return from a knee injury that night without consulting her first. Molly had grown very close to Bryan the previous few years because the injury-plagued sixth-year senior spent so much time rehabbing his surgically repaired knees at the nearby sports medicine clinic where her mom worked.

    "She didn't think Jibri should play because she worried he would hurt his knee again," Molly's mother Christina Hamlin told Yahoo Sports. "I remember her telling Brad, 'You didn't ask me if Jibri could play.' Jibri laughed when he heard that. He said, 'Aw, Molly. Thanks for looking out for me.'"

    Endearing moments like that one help explain why Christina Hamlin's heart is broken Wednesday.

    Christina Hamlin doesn't know how to tell her youngest daughter that Jibri Bryan is dead.

  • Indiana sinks Michigan with jaw-dropping 28-0 surge

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    It started innocently enough with a deft spin move and reverse layup from center Thomas Bryant. Then came a rather unremarkable driving layup from forward Collin Hartman two possessions later.

    Really, there weren't any signs Indiana was poised to bury Michigan before halftime Tuesday night until the avalanche had already begun to pick up momentum.

    The Hoosiers scored a remarkable 25 straight points over the final nine minutes of the first half, transforming a narrow four-point deficit into decisive 21-point lead. They extended the streak to 28 straight points just after halftime, enabling them to coast to an 80-67 road victory over the Wolverines.

    The gory details of Indiana's surge are probably enough to make Michigan fans bury their faces in their foam fingers. 

    Seven Indiana players scored at least one basket led by seven points from forward Troy Williams and six from point guard Yogi Ferrell. The Hoosiers combined for 11-for-14 shooting, none more memorable than this alley-oop.

    Part of the 25-0 run.https://t.co/1wMkRZ3idm

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