At last check, the wind chill was still –12. That’s at about 1:30 pm on February 19. Stupid.
So the perfect time for some ultra hot sports takes.
Like any Midwesterner worth his salt, I despise the endless hype for the Duke-North Carolina rivalry.
But, holy crap, was last night’s game fantastic.
I switched by early and saw Duke was up big. When I checked again, deep into the second half, Carolina had just taken their first lead of the game. Over the next 3–4 minutes, Carolina just about ran Duke out of Cameron Indoor Stadium. They were getting stops and defensive rebounds and turning those into quick scores on the other end. Once, off a missed free throw, they threw an outlet pass to mid court then had two guys under the rim waiting for a pass. Roy’s teams have always been able to run.
Carolina was +7 with right around 2:00 to play. Then Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones took over. Okafor scored some big man points down low. Jones abused whoever was guarding him for crazy drives to the rim.
In OT, there was about a 90 minute sequence that was sublime. Up-and-down, 1980s-style basketball. Layups answered by layups. Long outlet passes. Just breathtaking basketball.
And then bad Roy caught with good Roy. Despite two horrendous possessions with the ball in the final minute, he refused to call timeouts to set something up. Thanks to his obstinance, the Tar Heels had the ball down three with nine seconds to play. He called two time outs in those final seconds and got one point out of it.
But here’s the thing: if Quinn Cook, a 90+ percent free throw shooter, hadn’t missed two free throws in the final 20 seconds, Roy never gets a chance to use those timeouts to try to get a tying/winning basket. When he really needed the time outs, he sat on them. When they were of marginal use, he called two.
He was lucky Cook’s misses gave the Tar Heels one last chance. It could have easily been a five-point game on Carolina’s final possession.
I checked the RPI results earlier and saw that, even with their fifth loss of the year Monday night, KU has moved back ahead of Kentucky in that ranking system. Which means there are people complaining about the RPI. Not just in Kentucky.
I will admit the current RPI ratings are silly. Kentucky is, of course, far and away the best team in the sport this year. And they settled the question of whether they are better than KU or not pretty emphatically back in November. If the teams played again tomorrow, on a neutral court, I hope KU could stay within 20 this time. But I have a feeling that Kentucky would get up big time for that game and win easily again.
But people need to stop getting worked up over the ratings. They are one tool that can be used to compare teams to each other. One tool of many. And not a tool that has any real meaning. Sure, it tells us who has played a tougher schedule, helps us compare the strength of conferences, and can expose teams with gaudy records who haven’t played anyone of consequence. But KU doesn’t get three extra points each night because they have the #1 RPI. They’re going to get a high seed in March because of their schedule, but they’re not getting seeded higher than Kentucky. Besides, as we have seen in the past, the NCAA weighs the RPI differently from year-to-year. It’s become a tool much more for the regular season than for the post season.
Kentucky is still going to get the #1 seed in the tournament, and the most geographically convenient path back to Indy. They will still be the overwhelming favorite. Even if KU’s non-conference schedule and the much deeper Big 12 keeps them in the #1 RPI spot when Selection Sunday rolls around.
Don’t sweat the numbers.
A story is developing here in Indy that could be awful. Trent Richardson was suspended for the AFC Championship after failing to show up for a pre-game walkthrough and flight to Boston because of a “personal matter.” There had been rumors ever since that game that the Colts would use that as an excuse to void his contract and save them the $3+ million owed in its final year.
Word emerged this week that Richardson may have missed practice and the flight because he was at the hospital with his girlfriend who had gone into premature labor just 28 weeks into her pregnancy.
At this point, there’s a lot of speculation and rumors with few definitive statements from either side. If the Colts want to cut Richardson, that’s fine. He’s been a huge disappointment since they acquired him. But if they think that’s the best move for the franchise, they need to eat the $3M and change due to Richardson. Don’t invent some bullshit excuse to void his contract if he was attending to a legitimate family emergency.