The Dagger

  • Siena beat Rider 78-68 in what should have been a run-of-the-mill Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game Tuesday night. But as we can tell from what transpired immediately following the final horn, it turned out to be anything but ordinary.

    After two ejections and two additional technical fouls late in the second half, Rider’s coaches and players walked off the court without shaking hands. Siena coach Jimmy Patsos, thinking on his feet, made the controversy into a wonderfully comedic moment:

    Here’s an up-close view of Patsos, who is completely in the zone! He doesn’t even crack a smile!

    Here’s more on the incident that led to Rider’s

    Read More »from Siena coach shakes imaginary hands after Rider skips handshake line (Video)
  • Maurice Watson Jr. was as valuable to Creighton as almost any other player is to his team in the country. (Getty)
    Maurice Watson Jr. was as valuable to Creighton as almost any other player is to his team in the country. (Getty)

    First came the collision. Then the second fall. And the agony. Then came the hope. And the MRI. And, finally, the devastation.

    Creighton’s worst fears were realized Tuesday when senior point guard Maurice Watson received the results of an MRI that confirmed he had torn the ACL in his left knee Monday against Xavier. Watson is out for the season. His college career is over in heartbreaking fashion.

    And Creighton, which is 18-1 and ranked seventh in the nation, suddenly is in trouble.

    Tuesday’s MRI results didn’t just confirm the ACL tear. They didn’t just rudely and devastatingly interrupt Creighton’s best season ever. They sent the Bluejays’ burgeoning Final Four candidacy skidding into reverse.

    Creighton’s season isn’t over. Even without Watson for the majority of Monday’s game, the Bluejays held off a ranked Xavier team. But their grandest postseason aspirations, ones that

    Read More »from Maurice Watson's injury is even more damaging to Creighton than you might think
  • Watson injured his knee in Monday's win over Xavier. (AP)
    Watson injured his knee in Monday’s win over Xavier. (AP)

    Maurice Watson Jr. “heard it pop.” And although postgame testing suggested otherwise, Watson’s initial instinct was, unfortunately, correct.

    An MRI showed Tuesday that Creighton’s senior point guard, the nation’s leader in assists, tore the ACL in his left knee during the first half of Monday’s win over Xavier. Watson announced the news on social media, and Creighton later confirmed it in a press release.

    “Sucks that I have to go out this way, but I have terrible news,” Watson wrote on Instagram. “My MRI discovered I suffered a torn ACL. I’m devastated in the fact that I cannot finish out the season with my boys & that my college career is cut short during the best basketball I’ve ever played in my life.

    “I’ve gotten

    Read More »from Creighton's Maurice Watson out for season with torn ACL
  • Only ten other coaches have accomplished what University of North Carolina’s Roy Williams did on Monday night. With the Tar Heels’ 85-68 win over Syracuse, Williams became the 11th coach in college basketball history to notch his 800th career win.

    “Two hundred is more impressive than 100, so when you get to 800 not a lot of guys have done that,” Williams told local media after the game. “So I’m human. I’ve got some feelings about those kind of things, and that was nice, but I hope that I get a few more.”

    Williams achieved his 800 wins in just 29 seasons and 1,012 games. The only coach to reach this mark faster was Adolph Rupp.

    To commemorate the moment, Williams was gifted a custom pair of Jordans signed by Michael Jordan himself. The shiny silver kicks left players bug-eyed and drop-jawed. The shoes were delivered in a wooden box with “800” etched on the outside and “congratulations Roy Williams” etched on the inside.

    This is just the latest achievement in Williams’ impressive

    Read More »from Roy Williams' players went crazy over the gift he got for his 800th win
  • Xavier has lost three straight games for the first time in nearly three years. (AP)
    Xavier has lost three straight games for the first time in nearly three years. (AP)

    Eighteen games into a season that began with sky-high expectations, Xavier hasn’t accomplished as much as it would have hoped.

    The Musketeers have yet to defeat a single team that’s even receiving votes in the latest AP Top 25 poll.

    The best team they’ve beaten is likely Clemson, which is off to a 1-4 start to ACC play. The next best might be Utah, which was without two of its four leading scorers at the time. They also boast wins over rebuilding Wake Forest, hapless Missouri and mid-tier Big East foes Providence, Georgetown and St. John’s for whatever that’s worth.

    Xavier had a trio of chances in the last seven days to validate its Top 25 ranking, but the Musketeers whiffed on all three. They lost by 25 at Villanova last Tuesday. They blew a nine-point first-half lead at Butler on Saturday. And finally they suffered a 72-67 home loss earlier Monday against a Creighton team that lost its best player to a

    Read More »from Three straight losses leave Xavier still in search of first marquee win
  • Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr. (10) winces in pain after injuring his knee in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Creighton, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
    Creighton’s Maurice Watson Jr. winces in pain after injuring his knee. (AP)

    On a day when Creighton picked up its most impressive road win of the season, the Bluejays’ postgame celebration was more muted than usual.

    That’s because their concern lay with starting point guard Maurice Watson, who hurt his left knee late in the first half of his team’s 72-67 victory at Xavier.

    The injury occurred when Watson landed awkwardly after driving for an acrobatic layup. Watson writhed on the floor in pain clutching his knee for several minutes before two teammates carried him to the locker room.

    It’s unclear the severity of the injury at this time, but Creighton coach Greg McDermott told reporters in Cincinnati that the team’s trainers are optimistic Watson didn’t sustain any ligament damage. Watson will undergo further testing this week to evaluate if he might have torn his meniscus.

    Read More »from Creighton loses nation's assists leader to a left knee injury
  • Indiana, as most teams do these days, scored an easy win over Rutgers Sunday. For Tom Crean, whose Hoosiers had lost four of their previous five and started Big Ten play 1-3, it should have been a welcome reprieve from the frustration of the first two weeks of conference play.

    It was not.

    Because with Indiana up 76-57 and six seconds left in the game, rather than run out the clock, freshman guard Devonte Green took an outlet pass, pushed the ball up the court, and threw a lob to a streaking Freddie McSwain:

    Even before the clock hit triple zeros, while Green and McSwain were oblivious to their coach’s ire and foolishly fighting for the loose ball, Crean was storming out towards the middle of the court to scream at Green.

    Crean then hurried over to Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell and, still heated,

    Read More »from Indiana tried to run up the score on Rutgers, failed, and Tom Crean was furious
  • Gonzaga's Johnathan Williams celebrates a first-half dunk (AP).
    Gonzaga’s Johnathan Williams celebrates a first-half dunk (AP).

    For most of Saturday night’s showdown, Gonzaga couldn’t shake Saint Mary’s in its rearview mirror.

    Only in the final eight minutes did the Zags mash the gas pedal one final time and leave the rival Gaels in the dust.

    It started innocently enough with a Nigel Williams-Goss driving layup to extend the lead to eight. Only a couple minutes later, Williams-Goss found Johnathan Williams for a transition dunk that increased the advantage to 15. Gonzaga eventually reeled off 16 straight points to turn a single-digit game into a 79-56 rout.

    Handily winning the first meeting between the WCC’s two best teams does more than just give Gonzaga an early leg up in the league title chase. It also extends the fifth-ranked Zags’ run as college basketball’s last unbeaten team and makes the possibility of finishing the regular season without a loss a bit more realistic.

    Whereas most power-conference teams face their toughest opponents during

    Read More »from Unbeaten season feels more realistic after Gonzaga pounds Saint Mary's
  • The animosity that flared up throughout New Mexico’s 84-71 victory over Colorado State was nothing compared to what happened after the game was over.

    A Rams player and a Lobos assistant coach engaged in a verbal altercation that was on the verge of turning physical before Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy intervened.

    The incident began when Colorado State forward Emmanuel Omogbo exited Moby Arena and encountered several New Mexico coaches standing alongside their team bus. Albuquerque Tribune reporter Geoff Grammer began shooting video soon after Omogbo and New Mexico assistant Terrence Rencher began exchanging words.

    “You’re lucky my coach is holding me back. I’d whoop your ass,” Omogbo shouted at Rencher with Eustachy standing between them.

    “You ain’t whipping

    Read More »from Tense game sparks heated argument between Colorado State player, New Mexico coach
  • Through 34 minutes of North Carolina’s clash with Florida State at the Dean Smith Center Saturday in Chapel Hill, there wasn’t much separating the Tar Heels and Seminoles. The home team had held multiple double-digit leads, but every time, Florida State had charged back. And that’s exactly what the visitors were doing again with six minutes remaining.

    Xavier Rathan-Mayes sunk a free throw, and the lead dwindled to four, 80-76. North Carolina needed a lift. It needed something to separate it from a team that had proven to be every bit its equal. So it turned to one of the best secret weapons in college basketball, one whom the Tar Heels had been without for the season’s first 16 games, and one who may very well make them the best team in the ACC.

    They turned to Theo Pinson. And Pinson went coast to coast, then soared to the rim as the Dean Dome rose with him:

    “It felt like I was floating,” Pinson said after the game. “I was gliding to the basket. And then when I dunked it, I was like,

    Read More »from Theo Pinson sparks North Carolina to statement win over Florida State
  • College basketball has a new win streak queen. It’s the same program as its predecessor, but this time one win more impressive.

    UConn women’s basketball won its 91st game in a row Saturday at SMU, blitzing the Mustangs 26-2 in the first quarter and easing to a 88-48 victory. In doing so, it surpassed its own record of 90 consecutive wins set in 2010.

    The current streak began in November 2014. It includes the last two national championships, two conference championships, and dominant wins of all kinds.

    Auriemma has admitted that he set up this year’s non-conference schedule to end the streak; he filled it with seven top-15 teams despite losing the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 picks in last April’s WNBA draft. But his team had other ideas. It passed its 12 November and December tests by more than 22 points per game, and has now won its four American Athletic Conference games by an average margin of 46.5.

    Geno Auriemma and UConn star Katie Lou Samuelson celebrated win No. 90 on Tuesday against USF. They broke their own record with No. 91 Saturday at SMU. (Getty)
    Geno Auriemma and UConn celebrated win No. 90 on Tuesday against USF. They broke their own record
    Read More »from UConn women break win streak record with 91st consecutive victory
  • At the start of the season, Duke was a near-unanimous choice to win the ACC.

    Now the Blue Devils are teetering on the verge of falling out of the league title race just five games into conference play

    A 78-69 loss at Louisville on Saturday afternoon dropped Duke to 2-3 in the ACC, three games back of first-place Notre Dame. The Blue Devils are still in search of their first win this season on an opponent’s home floor, having been smacked around earlier this month at Virginia Tech and Florida State.

    A Duke team loaded with proven veterans and McDonald’s All-American freshmen has plenty of talent to make a charge over the next six weeks, but the strength and depth of the ACC will not make it easy. The seventh-ranked Blue Devils still have two games against North Carolina remaining, as well as a rematch with Florida State in Durham and road trips to Notre Dame, Virginia and Miami.

    Grayson Allen and Duke entered Saturday in search of their first road win (Getty Images).
    Grayson Allen and Duke entered Saturday in search of their first road win (Getty Images).

    It’s hard to see

    Read More »from Third straight road loss in ACC play further exposes Duke's flaws
  • The creators of some of college basketball's best advanced metrics are meeting with committee members Friday (Getty Images)
    The creators of college basketball’s best advanced metrics are meeting with the committee Friday. (Getty Images)

    No longer does the NCAA tournament selection committee rely exclusively on the flawed, primitive RPI as a way of comparing teams and schedules.

    The committee wisely has begun to embrace the use of other more advanced metrics when selecting and seeding the field of 68.

    The latest step in that process arrived Friday when the NCAA announced it has invited the minds behind some of college basketball’s best metrics to meet with committee members next Friday in Indianapolis. Ken Pomeroy (KenPom), Kevin Pauga (KPI), Jeff Sagarin (Sagarin Index) and Ben Alamar (BPI) are all scheduled to attend a gathering designed to speed the inclusion of more metrics in the selection process.

    The meeting of the math gurus comes in response to the National Association of Basketball Coaches requesting the use of a more varied group of metrics during the selection process. One of the goals for the

    Read More »from At last, the NCAA selection committee is embracing advanced metrics
  • Louisiana Tech’s Jacobi Boykins laid down one of the filthiest dunks of the college basketball season on Thursday night.

    With just under 16 minutes left in Bulldogs’ 79-73 victory over Charlotte, Boykins stole a pass intended for a 49ers player and brought it down court for a nasty 360 dunk to put LA Tech up 23.

    Watch the dunk here:

  • At the end of his team’s one-point victory over Colorado last Thursday night, Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley delivered a fiery locker room speech urging his team to take pride in defending its home court.

    “If anyone wants a win here [in the state of Arizona],” he bellowed, “they better go to [bleeping] Tucson.”

    It made no difference that Hurley undoubtedly intended to motivate his players rather than take a dig at Arizona. The second the video hit social media, it provided instant motivation for the Wildcats and juicy fodder for their fans.

    Hatred for Hurley reached a crescendo Thursday night at McKale Center as the Arizona crowd welcomed the Arizona State coach with a torrent of boos and then chanted “Bobby, Bobby” over and over again the rest of the night. The Wildcats fed off the frenzied atmosphere, cruising to a 91-75 victory that served as a reminder that winning in bleeping Tucson isn’t very bleeping easy.

    Read More »from Arizona reminds Bobby Hurley that winning in 'bleeping Tucson' isn't easy
  • Ohio State has been mired in a four-year downward slide interrupted only by D'Angelo Russell. (Getty)
    Ohio State has been mired in a four-year downward slide interrupted only by D’Angelo Russell. (Getty)

    The last time Thad Matta and Ohio State had an offense that wasn’t led by a future NBA lottery pick and wasn’t floundering on the fringes of the top 100 in Division I college basketball, DeShaun Thomas put together an All-American year out of nowhere, bolted for the NBA after his junior season, and set the Buckeye program off down a hill toward mediocrity.

    It’s been four years since that Elite Eight run led by Thomas and Aaron Craft. Four years of decline in Columbus interrupted only D’Angelo Russell. And it’s led to this, an 0-4 Big Ten start and a second-straight disappointing season.

    The Buckeyes were dismantled by Wisconsin Thursday night in Madison, 89-66. Ohio State’s first-half performance gave the game away by halftime. Only four Buckeyes scored before the break. As a team, they put up just .844 points per possession. Their defense throughout the game was similarly lackluster.

    Read More »from Wisconsin thumps Ohio State, and Thad Matta and the Buckeyes have problems
  • Tevin Mack was suspended entering the Longhorns' toughest stretch of the season (AP).
    Tevin Mack was suspended entering the Longhorns’ toughest stretch of the season (AP).

    A nightmarish season for Texas basketball somehow got worse Thursday when the Longhorns learned they’ll enter their toughest three-game stretch without their leading scorer.

    Sophomore forward Tevin Mack has been suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed violation of team rules, Texas coach Shaka Smart announced.

    “We have a set of standards that we expect people in our program to adhere to,” Smart said in a terse statement. “Tevin has failed to reach them.”

    Mack’s suspension is his second of the season. When Mack was suspended for Texas’ season opener in November, Smart described it as a punishment for an off-court issue that occurred during the offseason but was already resolved.

     

     

    A role player as a freshman, Mack has evolved into an inconsistent yet dangerous scorer on a Texas team that has floundered on offense so far this season. One night he’ll knock down a handful of threes and exceed his

    Read More »from Already reeling Texas indefinitely suspends its leading scorer
  • Two Big 12 teams are moving in the right direction but a third slid after a 21-point loss. (Getty)
    West Virginia’s 21-point beatdown of Baylor caused a significant shakeup in the top 10 of The Dagger’s weekly power rankings. (Getty)

    Some pretty big news hit the sports world Tuesday morning. It had nothing, but also maybe something, to do with college basketball.

    FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, decided to expand the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams in 2026, and introduced a flawed, watered-down format that has been lambasted by the majority of the international soccer community, including yours truly.

    How is this in any way related to college basketball and the second edition of The Dagger’s weekly power rankings? Well it’s not related to the latter at all. But as I warned last week, this is the part where I ramble, and the part past which you scroll to get to the rankings.

    It’s related to the former, however, because the World Cup, which will feature 48 of 211 FIFA-certified soccer nations, now admits a similar percentage of teams to its premier championship event as

    Read More »from College basketball Power Rankings, Jan. 12: Kansas, West Virginia rising
  • Fresno State received the Mountain West's lone NCAA bid last year after winning the conference tournament. (AP)
    Fresno State received the Mountain West’s lone NCAA bid last March after winning the league tournament. (AP)

    When San Diego State became the Mountain West’s first outright regular-season champion to miss the NCAA tournament last March, the snub was difficult for the Aztecs to stomach.

    They went 16-2 in league play and finished three games ahead of any other team, yet a five-point loss in the Mountain West title game doomed their hopes. The selection committee felt dominating an unusually weak Mountain West wasn’t enough of an accomplishment to atone for a couple of head-scratching non-league losses.

    “We were very disappointed,” San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. “We felt that with our huge separation, three games ahead of everyone else, that should have been enough. We shot ourselves in the foot a little bit in non-league play, but I do still believe that we had a résumé worthy of being in.”

    Another Mountain West champion experiencing the same disappointment this March is no

    Read More »from How the Mountain West is trying to fix its basketball problem
  • Creighton led double figures over Butler the entire second half (Getty Images)
    Creighton led double figures over Butler the entire second half (Getty Images)

    In the final seconds of his team’s 75-64 victory over Butler on Wednesday night, Creighton point guard Maurice Watson gave the home crowd a scare.

    Watson clutched his left knee and writhed on the floor after a collision with Butler forward Kelan Martin. Only after he theatrically popped back to his feet with a grin on his face could the crowd at the CenturyLink Center collectively exhale.

    “I was guessing he just wanted a little more attention,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott told FS1’s studio crew after the game. “I was hoping like heck he wasn’t hurt.”

    Those were about the only scary moments for Creighton on a night when the eighth-ranked Bluejays dominated a fellow upper-echelon Big East team from start to finish. Creighton led by double digits after 10 minutes, by 20 at halftime and by as many as 25 early in the second half en route to one of its most impressive victories of the season.

    Pounding No. 12

    Read More »from Strong defense — yes, defense — helps Creighton dismantle Butler