December 2014 | Page 15 of 21 | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Friday / April 12.
  • Cal-RickNEW YORK — After Louisville blew out Indiana 94-74 in the Jimmy V Classic Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, Rick Pitino was asked where his team stood on the national college basketball landscape.

    “I think Kentucky and Duke are at the highest level right now,” Pitino said of the No. 1 and 2-ranked teams in the nation. “We hope to get to that level….I think we have a very high ceiling, so I think we can get there…I think we have shot-blocking, we have a great backcourt so we hope to get there, I don’t think we’re in their class now.”

    No. 5 Louisville hosts Kentucky Dec. 27. Both teams are currently unbeaten.

    “I think we’re going to find out [how good we are] very soon,” Pitino said. “We’re going to play Kentucky pretty soon so we’ll find out, but I like the way we’re rebounding, I like the way we’re blocking shots, I like the passing tonight so I think we’ll get there.”

    NJITBy JOSH NEWMAN

    NEW YORK – Three days after NJIT registered a massive upset of then-No. 17 Michigan at Crisler Arena, not much has changed. The Highlanders are still winning, while the Wolverines are still losing at home to teams they shouldn’t lose to.

    In Ann Arbor Tuesday night, the Wolverines followed up their unthinkable loss to NJIT by falling again at home, 45-42, to Eastern Michigan. The loss marked Michigan’s first back-to-back non-conference losses since November 2010 (Syracuse, UTEP) and first back-to-back losses since February 2013 (Wisconsin, Michigan State).

    “Anytime you beat Michigan, especially on its home floor, it’s a huge deal,” EMU head coach Rob Murphy told MLive Media Group beat writer Brendan Quinn. “We did a great job from start to finish not letting Michigan get comfortable.”

    The kicker?

    Michigan paid out $172,000 to NJIT and Eastern Michigan to pay the game, according to beat writer Brendan Quinn.

    Meanwhile, 700 miles east in Newark, Damon Lynn scored a game-high 22 points, including two tie-breaking free throws with 1:13 to play to help NJIT outlast St. Francis Brooklyn, 68-66. At the conclusion, fans stormed the floor at the Fleisher Athletic Center, which seats all of 1,100 people and only has seats behind one sideline.

    Dylan EnnisBy JOSH NEWMAN

    NEW YORK – Seventh-ranked Villanova may be 9-0 following a 73-59 win over Illinois at the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday evening, but that mark has not come easily.

    The Wildcats had a tough time against Bucknell on Nov. 20 in a 72-65 win, trailed Michigan by eight in the second half on Nov. 25 before charging back for a five-point win and were tied at 50 on Tuesday with the FIghting Illini with 8:32 to play before veteran-savvy took over down the stretch.

    Facing a daunting six-game stretch beginning Sunday with Temple, Villanova head coach Jay Wright will argue his team has not only been punched, but absorbed the best shot from multiple quality opponents already this season.

    “They’re good enough shots for me,” Wright said laughingly of the threats Michigan and Illinois provided. “We don’t have to lose. They’re good enough, they hurt enough. We can learn a lot from those. If you blew everybody, you would want to, but we’ve been down in games. We’ve had enough shots.”

    Harry Giles, one of the top prospects in the Class of 2016, reiterated in his USA Today blog that he wants to package to a college with fellow 2016 studs Jayson Tatum and Dennis Smith Jr.

    “I haven’t really told y’all about the package deal that I mentioned before with myself, Dennis Smith and Jayson Tatum, but it’s definitely something that’s still on the table,” he wrote. “We’re talking about it from time to time and we’re gonna start talking about it more and more from this point on to see where everybody’s at with it. I know we all want to play together so we’ll see how onboard everybody is soon.”

    The 6-8 Tatum recently told SNY.tv that six schools were working the hardest for him — Arizona, Saint Louis, Illinois, Duke, Kentucky and Missouri. And Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski watched him on Tuesday night, one night after meeting with 2016 New Jersey guard Tyus Battle.

    IzzoMichigan State head coach Tom Izzo is not a fan of the Big Ten Conference moving its postseason tournament to Madison Square Garden in 2018, when it will be played a week before the Big East Tournament and leave a gap of 11 days before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

    “That’s probably my biggest concern,” Izzo told The Detroit Free Press. “Not where it is, but [the timing]. Nobody wants that much time off. It could be two weeks, because you could play [in the league tournament] and get beat on a Thursday.”

    The Big Ten held a press conference Tuesday at the Garden to formally announce the move, which was first reported by SI.com

    NJITPete Maranzano runs the bookstore at NJIT and on Monday morning he received a phonecall from someone in Michigan who wanted to place an order.

    When Maranzano asked the guy why a Michigan fan wanted to buy NJIT products, the man told him he was a Michigan State supporter.

    “He ordered two hats and he said he was wearing them to razz on Michigan fans,” Maranzano told SNY.tv by phone Tuesday morning after the New York Times first reported the  story.

    NJIT, the lone independent Division 1 program in the nation, upset No. 17 Michigan, 72-70, on Saturday in Ann Arbor.

    ColumbiaColumbia head coach Kyle Smith and his players saw what NJIT did at Michigan on Saturday afternoon.

    And now they’re hoping to pull a similar upset on Wednesday night when they face No. 1 Kentucky at Rupp Arena (7 p.m., ESPN2).

    “Absolutely, we preach it all the time, that the differences aren’t as great as you may believe if you read the papers or watch ESPN,” Smith told SNY.tv. “You may think it’s insurmountable but in the right circumstances, we’ve got a veteran group and a good coach like [NJIT’s] Jim Engles, good things can happen. But obviously we’ve got a formidable task on Wednesday and it’s going to be tough.”

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