Daily Headlines: Butler Lands Bo Hodges In Big Transfer Decision

East Tennessee State guard Bo Hodges announced on Wednesday he’s headed for Butler University to continue his basketball career, where he will look the lift the Bulldogs back to the top of the Big East and into the NCAA Tournament. Since the Brad Stevens glory days, Butler has made it to the Sweet 16 just once, and they didn’t make the 2019 tournament for the first time, breaking a four-year streak. Hodges won’t be eligible immediately, but the 6’5 guard will be ready to play in 2021 for his final year of eligibility. He was an all-conference guard in the Southern Conference, averaging 12.7 points and 5.8 rebounds. He led the Buccaneers to a 30-4 record and conference tournament title, although he was denied a chance to shine in March Madness due to coronavirus. Head Coach LaVall Jordan lauded Hodges’ versatility, particularly on offense, and he has a valuable asset for the future.

Arizona State punter Michael Turk regains NCAA Eligibility

In a very rare occurrence, the NCAA granted Arizona State punter Michael Turk his final two years of eligibility after the all-Pac 12 talent went undrafted and unsigned in the NFL Draft process. Turk has been an exceptional punter for the Sun Devils, leading the Pac-12 by averaging 46 yards per punt. In one game against Kent State, he set a record by averaging 63 yards on five punts, an NCAA record for a punter with a minimum of five attempts. Turk made headlines when he banged out an astounding 25 repetitions on the bench press at the NFL Combine, but he struggled in the punting drills. The pandemic denied him the chance at additional chances to impress scouts, which Turk used as his main argument in his appeal. In a slightly surprising move, the NCAA granted his appeal, although Turk will likely have to compete with Florida State graduate transfer Logan Tyler, the ACC leader in yards per punt (43.2).

OTHER HEADLINES

– Oklahoma State freshman football players told not to come to campus after players test positive for COVID-19
– Legendary Pitt and Tennessee football coach Johnny Majors passes away at age 85
– Missouri football players march in protests, register to vote
– Gonzaga basketball coach Mark Few announces he will not have any team activities on Election Day, to encourage his players to vote
– Louisville athletes back on campus after quarantine

Turk Eligibility

Big East Status Report: Seton Hall On Top, Butler Crashing Hard

Last week, I listed Butler and Seton Hall as co-title favorites, and this week, I believe the Pirates have separated themselves. I don’t think too much has changed within in the conference as a whole, but here’s a quick look at their biggest risers and fallers.

Biggest Risers: Seton Hall

  • The Pirates are essentially the conference’s biggest riser due to their 9-game winning streak and head-to-head win over Butler, last week’s co-favorite. While I don’t think their conference championship odds increased tremendously, they have separated themselves from the field with a 7-0 Big East record, and so they earn the honor of biggest riser this week.

Biggest Fallers: Butler, St. Johns

  • The Bulldogs are the new Ohio State of college basketball. After achieving a top-5 ranking, Butler has lost three straight games, one at home, and another one to an unranked opponent – quite possibly the worst Big East team in DePaul. It has been a horrific stretch for the Bulldogs. They’re still getting in the tournament, but I regard them as a clear second to Seton Hall in the conference with Villanova closing in behind them.
  • St. Johns prospects in the Big East were already pretty glum, and they dropped again this week. The Red Storm have lost another three straight Big East games after finally taking down DePaul for their first conference victory; they have kept some big games close, but ultimately, the lack of results is going to doom this team. Sitting at 11-2 entering conference play, St. Johns has crashed to 12-8 and is now looking like an afterthought in both the conference and national picture.

Quick Hits

  • Right now, my prediction is for 5 teams from the Big East to make the tournament, with Seton Hall, Villanova, Butler, Marquette, and Creighton representing the conference.
  • 3 teams are on the wrong side of the bubble, but still have a path to the tournament: Xavier, Providence, Georgetown.
  • I am declaring 2 teams officially dead in the NCAA tournament race: St. Johns and DePaul.

Biggest Games

  • Marquette @ #13 Butler
  • #9 Villanova @ Providence
  • Xavier @ Creighton

College Basketball Headlines: Duke Upset Headlines Crazy Day

Wow. What a weekend of college basketball. Three Top-5 Teams lost on Saturday as #3 Duke lost a tough one at home to #11 Louisville, while #4 Auburn and #5 Butler both lost decisively on the road to unranked opponents, with Florida and DePaul doing the job respectively. Along with those upsets, here’s the rest of the headlines from a  crazy Saturday of college basketball. 

Unexpected Heroes Highlight Unexpected Results

To pull a big road upset, a team often needs some unexpected contributions, and the Louisville Cardinals took that to a new level. Cardinals’ guard David Johnson was averaging 3.7 points per game, but he balled out for Louisville on Saturday, posting 19 points to go with seven assists, and four rebounds. Johnson’s stunning day outweighed a big performance from Duke’s Cassius Stanley and lifted Louisville to the 79-73 victory over Duke, who will be sure to drop in the polls after two losses this week. 

Auburn came to Florida and, after starting the year 15-0, the Tigers looked nothing like a top-5 team. The Gators got their own unexpected contributions, as Omar Payne, averaging 4.7 points per game, dominated Auburn to the tune of 19 points and 11 rebounds. After gleaning a 28-23 halftime edge, Florida ran away in the second half for a 69-47 victory. The Tigers are starting to slip badly after two blowout road losses, while the Gators look to be climbing back towards the team many thought they would be in the preseason. 

Depaul hosted a vulnerable Butler squad on Saturday. The Bulldogs were coming off a demoralizing home loss to Seton Hall, and they failed to come out of the gate fast, falling behind by ten at halftime. From there, DePaul closed it out, leading by as much 17 in the second half, eventually knocking off Butler 79-66. 

Not only did three top-5 teams lose in one day, they all suffered losses previously in the week, so expect some major shakeup in the AP Poll (and our Power Rankings) tomorrow. 

Three top-5 upsets stole headlines, but Kansas State topping West Virginia in dominant fashion was an absolute stunner. AP photo

The Other Upsets

While the upsets of Duke, Auburn, and Butler stole the headlines, there were some other notable upsets that occurred on Saturday. Kansas State dominated West Virginia, converting a  42-25 halftime lead into a 16-point victory. Cartier Diarra scored 25 for the Wildcats in a significant upset, as Kansas State improved to 8-9 and earned their first Big 12 win, dropping West Virginia to 14-3 in the process. 

Houston went on the road and earned a statement win over Wichita State, as no Shockers’ player had more than seven points, and Houston used a strong defensive performance and a steady offensive outing to put away the 16th-ranked team in the nation, 65-54. 

Arizona held serve on their home court, as the Wildcats played host to the #20 Colorado Buffalo, but Arizona didn’t let their visitors stick around in the game too long. ‘Zona outscored Colorado by eleven in the first half and ten in the second, earning a statement victory, 75-54. Most impressively, Arizona spread their offense around, with no scorers notching more than 13 points. Zeke Nnaji had 12 points and 12 rebounds to spur the offensive attack. 

And last but not least, in Big 10 play, it was Penn State dominating the skidding Ohio State Buckeyes. The Nittany Lions scored at will, putting up 42 points in the first 20 minutes, before heating up further and lighting up the scoreboard for 48 more in the second half. The Buckeyes drop to 2-5 in Big 10 play, and they could very well slip out of the rankings – barely two weeks after being a #1 seed in Joe Lunardi’s bracketology. 

Strong Road Performances Separating Elite Teams

Homecourt is a huge advantage, and its impact has become a noticeable trend throughout college sports. The home team is always expected to win more games, on any given day, but there are teams who look competent and capable of playing on the road – like Louisville on Saturday. But there are also teams who look like world-beaters at home but turn into limp noodles on the road. The Big 10 offers several examples of this, with Ohio State –  the #20 team in the nation – playing putrid basketball on the road, to the tune of a 1-4 road record. Michigan is 11-6, but they are 0-5 in true road games, and Penn State, a formerly ranked team, is 1-3 on the road. In an age where homecourt advantage is becoming ever more prevalent, the ability to win on the road will define which teams are capable of a deep run in March.