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Golden Nuggets for 3.10.09

Guard play. That's the reason why the men's basketball team has slid from a top-25 ranking to questionable bubble status. Over the last two games we've seen Tubby Smith bench his junior scoring leader and defensive oriented point guard.

Devoe Joseph and Blake Hoffarber were OK in their starting roles. Against Wisconsin they got the team off to a nice start, hit a couple early shots and played solid defense. But now Tubby Smith is switching things up again and putting Al Nolen and Lawrence Westbrook back into the starting lineup.

Given the magnitude of the game against Northwestern--in my opinion it's a win and you're in/lose and start packing for the NIT--Smith's decision doesn't surprise me. Despite Nolen's lackadasical play during the second half of the year, and Westbrook's roller-coaster like performances, the duo represent Minnesota's best chance to win.

  • This article which breaks down the entire Big Ten's tourney chances quotes analyst Jerry Palm as suggesting the Gophers, Penn State and MIchigan are competing against Miami, Oklahoma State, Miami, Maryland and Virginia Tech, among others.
  • This blogger puts out a few good ideas to improve college basketball--get rid of the posession arrow and reduce the # of TV timeouts--before taking a cheap shot at the Big Ten.
  • It's one thing for pundits who first cheer for other conferences to put down Big Ten basketball, but for some reason seeing this Illini fan use the talking points of the naysayers bothered me. Saying the Big Ten isn't up to snuff with the ACC or Big East is silly. The Big Ten/ACC Challenge was won by one contest this year (the closest ever) and while the Big East might be top heavy with Louisville, Pittsburgh and Connecticut, the Big Ten just might be deeper.
  • I found this ranking of SEC basketball coaches interesting. It shows by comparison just how great the coaches are in the Big Ten.
  • Ben Woodside and the North Dakota State Bison will play Oakland tonight on ESPN2 for a ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
  • If you're preparing for the men's hockey team's showdown this weekend against St. Cloud State, Roman Augstoviz has a bunch of need to know information here.