Coaches poll: Should TO rules change? 

February, 25, 2015
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Gregg MarshallAP Photo/Stephen Lance DenneeTimeouts are an important part of college hoops strategy -- but are there too many?
Nobody understands how painfully long the final minutes of college basketball games have become better than my 11-year-old daughter. There's a minute left on the game clock when I tell her I'll be right up to say goodnight.

By the time the horn finally sounds, 20 minutes and multiple timeouts later, she has already fallen asleep.

College basketball has eight automatic timeouts built into the game, and that's before any coach makes the unmistakable "T" sign with his hands. There are four media timeouts (at the under-16, -12, -8 and -4 minute marks) in each half. The first time a coach calls a timeout in the second half -- whether it comes at the 19:50 mark or the 2:00 mark -- it becomes a full media timeout. That's nine 60-second timeouts that are basically automatic in every game. Each team gets one 60-second timeout and four 30-second timeouts per game, and can carry over a maximum of three 30-second timeouts into the second half, which creates a "use it or lose it" timeout in the first half (many coaches use it). Do the math and that's 18 possible timeouts in a 40-minute game that (theoretically) unfolds in two hours of real time. Does that seem like a lot to you?

Many pundits and fans have lamented the timeout situation, but what can be done? Are there alterations that make sense, can improve the watchability of those final moments while also preserving the on-floor strategy that coaches hold dear?

We polled more than 260 college coaches -- the people who are going to have to set the wheels in motion if there are fixes to be made -- to get their take on the situation. Their thoughts about reform to timeout rules were all over the map:

Keep the timeout rules status quo -- 117 votes (45 percent)

Self will go down as Kansas' best coach 

February, 23, 2015
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Bill SelfJamie Squire/Getty ImagesBill Self boasts a .824 winning percentage as head coach at Kansas.
As Kansas nears yet another Big 12 regular-season title with Bill Self at the helm, it’s an ideal time to debate whether the 52-year-old head coach can lay claim to the title of best Kansas coach of all time.

At first I scoffed at the notion. How could Self -- who has won only one national title and boasts a pair of Final Four appearances -- be considered the best coach in Kansas' history? However, a closer look shows one can make a valid case that Self already has passed his predecessor, Roy Williams, and stacks up against legendary Phog Allen.



Let's start with The Streak.

Since Self's first season in Lawrence, when Kansas finished second in the Big 12 to Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks have won at least a share of the regular-season crown each and every year. That’s 10 years running -- with an 11th likely unless KU blows a one-game advantage over Iowa State with four games remaining.

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Will Carolina ever be Carolina again? 

February, 19, 2015
Feb 19
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Roy WilliamsAP Photo/Gerry BroomeDoes North Carolina have another title run in it under Roy Williams?
DURHAM, N.C. -- North Carolina fans are a lot like Kentucky and Kansas fans. UNC's supporter base isn't content with just getting into the NCAA tournament, or even with reaching the second weekend.

They want national championships. They expect Final Four appearances.

But even in the shadow of Wednesday night's loss to Duke -- in which the Tar Heels looked like the better team for much of the game -- the chances are beginning to look more and more remote that UNC will hang banners in the Roy Williams Era. For the third straight season, the Heels are not going to finish first or second in the ACC. For the third straight season, barring an unlikely run of consistency over the next month, North Carolina (18-8) will finish with double-digit losses. Not since Frank McGuire struggled at the beginning of his tenure in the mid-1950's has a single UNC coach presided over three consecutive seasons of 10 or more losses.

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20 predictions for season's final stretch 

February, 16, 2015
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Kentucky WildcatsMichael Hickey/Getty ImagesDakari Johnson, Devin Booker, Marcus Lee and Kentucky are likely to run the table in the SEC.
It’s time to predict what will happen between now and the NCAA tournament. Will Gonzaga get a No. 1 seed? Will Kentucky run the table? Which mid-major will go undefeated in its league and be primed for an upset in the NCAA tournament?

Here are 20 things that will occur between now and Selection Sunday.

1. Kentucky will run the table and enter the NCAA tournament without a blemish. I didn’t see this happening prior to the start of the season, but I also didn’t see the SEC, and Florida in particular, being this lackluster. The Wildcats have been terrific, but in in their quest to remain unbeaten, they have benefited from playing in a mediocre league.

2. Virginia will falter a bit down the stretch, get Justin Anderson back for the ACC tournament, and still earn a No. 1 seed.

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Coaches support a shorter shot clock 

February, 12, 2015
Feb 12
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SelfDenny Medley/USA TODAY SportsKansas' Bill Self is among the coaches who would prefer a 30-second shot clock.
The NBA has had a 24-second shot clock since the 1950s. Women’s college basketball currently has a 30-second shot clock. Yet the men’s college game still has a 35-second shot clock, as it has since 1993, when it went from 45 seconds to 35.

However, with scoring dropping again (the national average is 67.78 points per game, down nearly four points from a season ago), the shot clock continues to be a hot-button topic. The NCAA has decided to experiment with a 30-second shot clock, along with a 4-foot restricted arc, in the NIT this season.

“It will add to the number of possessions per game, but we don’t know exactly how many,” NCAA vice president of men’s basketball championships Dan Gavitt told me. “And we think it may help the pace of play and the flow of the game.”

We polled more than 450 college basketball coaches on whether they want the shot clock to remain the same or be changed. Division I coaches of all varieties -- high-major, mid-major and low-major head coaches, as well as assistants -- weighed in.

Here are the results:

30-second clock

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 Virginia CavaliersPatrick McDermott/Getty ImagesJustin Anderson, UVa's leading scorer at 13.4 points per game, is out with a fractured finger.
When Virginia’s Justin Anderson suffered a broken pinkie on his shooting hand during the Cavaliers’ win against Louisville on Saturday, there was a school of thought that said "Don't overreact."

That line of thinking: Virginia will be fine. The Cavs don’t do it with one player -- they do it with depth, with balance. Their brilliant coach, Tony Bennett, will find a way to win enough games down the stretch to maintain a grasp on a No. 1 overall seed. Virginia is already through the majority of this brutal four-game stretch with wins at North Carolina and at home against the Cardinals, and a close loss in Charlottesville to Duke.

But then there’s the camp that believed that this could, in fact, not only hinder Virginia’s chances to land a top seed but also might alter the fortune of the Cavs in the NCAA tournament. Anderson went into the Louisville game as the team’s leading scorer, shooting 48 percent from the field, 48 percent from 3-point range and 81 percent from the charity stripe. Then toss in the fact that he’s the most athletic player on the team and also its best perimeter defender.

With Anderson out of the lineup for about the next four to six weeks and the timing of his return still unclear (it could be the end of the regular season, the ACC tournament or the NCAA tourney), guys like Evan Nolte, Marial Shayok and Devon Hall will likely see increased roles.

We reached out to a number of coaches who have played Virginia this year for their thoughts on how Anderson’s injury could alter the Cavs.

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Duke/Notre DameAP Photo/Joe RaymondWill Tyus Jones and Duke get revenge on Demetrius Jackson and Notre Dame on Feb. 7?
The 2014-15 college hoops season has already featured a number of marquee matchups. Kentucky crushed Kansas and took care of Louisville on the road. Duke beat Wisconsin in Madison. Arizona knocked off Gonzaga in Tucson, and Kansas and Iowa State split their season series.

However, there are still plenty of “can’t-miss” matchups before we hit March Madness, whether it’s a pair of rivals meeting, a game that could determine a regular-season title or a matchup that could stand in the way of history.

Here are the 20 games you need to circle on the calendar over the next month or so (listed in chronological order).

*All times Eastern

Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Duke Blue Devils
Feb. 7 at 1 p.m. (CBS)

The first matchup was exciting, as Jerian Grant helped give the Irish the win in South Bend. These are two entertaining, offensive-minded teams and both are capable of making a Final Four run.

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Kevin OllieRobert Deutsch-USA TODAY SportsKevin Ollie will need more production from Ryan Boatright and the Huskies backcourt.
As of today, the NIT could have quite a field of storied programs and Hall of Fame coaches. Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators, Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange and the defending national champion Connecticut Huskies are all on the wrong side of the bubble at this point.

Below we take a look at 13 teams that have either taken a dip this season or failed to live up to expectations and talk to coaches regarding the reasons why they are struggling. We're not saying all these are NIT teams, but the potential is there if they can't get things fixed.



Connecticut Huskies (11-9, 4-4 American)


• Missing a stretch 4 (a la Niels Giffey or DeAndre Daniels)
• Need another ball handler to help Ryan Boatright
• Don’t shoot well enough from the perimeter
• No inside play
• Don’t make the extra pass (selfish)
• Leadership lacking

Can they make the tournament? Coaches' quotes:

“Don’t count them out. They believe in Kevin Ollie.”

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Colleagues pick Coach of the Year 

January, 29, 2015
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Calipari/Bennett/FewGetty ImagesJohn Calipari, Tony Bennett and Mark Few were popular picks as the nation's top coach.
The national coach of the year race is always a tough one to figure. Some, like myself, commonly opt to go with a guy who has done more with less. Others tend to go with the coach of the top team in the country.

At this point in time, it’s a fairly easy call.

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10 coaches on the hot seat 

January, 26, 2015
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Donnie TyndallTommy Gilligan/Getty ImagesDue to NCAA issues, Donnie Tyndall's status at Tennessee could already be in peril.
Once you are on the dreaded hot seat, there are usually only a few ways off. Below we give you 10 coaches who need to finish strong to make certain they don't end up on the chopping block, and three who have managed to quiet the hot seat talk via different methods.


Coaches on the hot seat, Part I (NCAA and off-court issues)


1. Donnie Tyndall, Tennessee Volunteers

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Best and worst transfer decisions 

January, 19, 2015
Jan 19
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Kyle WiltjerCasey Sapio/USA TODAY SportsGonzaga forward -- and Kentucky transfer -- Kyle Wiltjer has been exceptional in 2014-15.
There were approximately 550 players who decided to transfer in 2013, 700 or so who decided to leave their Division I schools a year ago.

Some sat out a year based on transfer rules, others gained waivers from the NCAA to play immediately and other players took advantage of the fifth-year grad transfer rule and also didn’t have to sit and wait.

We take a look at a dozen guys who made the right call -- and 10 more who didn’t.

(To be clear: We are not including guys like Washington’s Robert Upshaw and Memphis’ Kedren Johnson, who didn’t have an option to leave their previous schools).


Transfers who made the right decision

1. Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga Bulldogs (from Kentucky)

He just didn’t fit as well at Kentucky. Part of the reason was

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College hoops' 10 most hostile venues 

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
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Allen FieldhouseJamie Squire/Getty ImagesAllen Fieldhouse (where KU is 8-0 this season) has been a house of horrors for Kansas opponents.
There are a variety of factors that make an arena hostile. First, you need passionate fans. You also need a quality product. Sure, the size of the building can help, though bigger does not always mean better. One arena on this list holds only 6,000 people. Another seats nearly 20,000. I talked to players and coaches and also drew from my own experience of going to venues to come up with the Top 10 most hostile college basketball environments:

1. Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse -- It’s a no-brainer for the list, and a no-brainer for the top spot. It holds more than 16,000 people, and about 25 percent of the seats are reserved for students. It gets loud, the fans are rabid, and the Jayhawks are almost always good.

“Their fans are so loud and there’s just so many of them. It’s like you are trapped, everywhere you look.” -- Iowa State’s Georges Niang


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John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski, Tony BennettGetty ImagesJohn Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski and Tony Bennett are among the nation's elite coaches.
Kentucky needed three overtimes to get past Ole Miss at home and Texas A&M on the road. Duke just went down for the first time on the road against rival NC State. Virginia remains undefeated -- along with John Calipari’s Wildcats.

We reached out to 20 coaches and NBA guys to get their takes on who they would take out of Kentucky, Duke and Virginia if the game were played today on a neutral court.

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10 most overrated, underrated so far 

January, 5, 2015
Jan 5
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Tony BennettRandy Sartin/USA TODAY SportsVirginia coach Tony Bennett, who has his team ranked No. 3 in the nation, deserves more credit.
OK, it’s time to play the overrated-underrated game with the current season, and we didn’t just limit it to teams or players. We’ve also included a couple of coaches in the underrated category as well as one player’s ego. Overrated? We’ve got leagues, teams, coaches, players and even a recruiting class.

Underrated

1. Tony Bennett, Virginia Cavaliers

The 45-year-old is as low-key as it gets, the furthest thing from a self-promoter. Remember, this is a guy who took Washington State to a pair of NCAA tournament berths -- including a Sweet 16 appearance -- in his three seasons in Pullman. It took him a little while to get acclimated in Charlottesville, but he swept the ACC regular-season and tournament titles last season and has the unbeaten Cavs as the No. 3 team in the land right now.

2. Melo Trimble, Maryland Terrapins

Somehow, Maryland’s freshman point guard gets lost among the other elite frosh. Yet he’s probably just as important -- if not more so -- to his team’s success as any of them.

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Tyler Ulis AP Photo/Timothy D. EasleyKentucky guard Tyler Ulis has been praised by NBA personnel for his late-game playmaking skills.
I recall thinking (and tweeting) it about a year or so ago when Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison was struggling as a freshman point guard for John Calipari, and it was apparent that at least one of the highly touted set of twins might not be able to bolt college for the NBA after just one campaign.

I told the UK fans over and over: Just wait until Tyler Ulis arrives in Lexington. Big Blue Nation was going to love this kid. I’d seen him plenty the previous summer and he’d be exactly what they needed: A guy who controlled the tempo, set up his teammates, played with poise, got after people on the defensive end and didn’t appear concerned about the next level.

A year later, Andrew Harrison has improved, but he remains inconsistent in his decision-making and his shot selection on the offensive end. Last week in Chicago, Harrison was a key cog in the dismantling of UCLA. He found his teammates, made shots and looked the part of a high-level point guard. So, too, did Ulis. But then Harrison came back with a sub-par performance at Louisville, with Ulis clearly looking the part of the guy who should receive extensive playing time.

Harrison is a big, strong guard who gives UK some flexibility, but Ulis is small, quick and can get into the lane and kick it out for uncontested perimeter shots. He’s also a tenacious on-ball defender with his ability to apply pressure on the perimeter, especially knowing that rim protectors sit along the backline.

Calipari’s dilemma is simple.

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