Game Plan is our Monday morning primer, designed to give you everything you need to know about games that were and the games that will be in college hoops this week. Send us feedback and submissions via email and Twitter.
ICYMI: TOP STORIES
Duke's win hinges on late block call; Boeheim goes ballistic, and then viral. Jim Boeheim is not a man who upsets easily. Save an exhibition game in 2005, Boeheim has never, in 38 years as the head coach at Syracuse, been ejected from a basketball game. He broke that streak Saturday night, and it was epic.
The call that earned Boeheim's rage was undeniably questionable, and suitably pivotal: Down 60-58 with 10 seconds remaining, Syracuse forward C.J. Fair drove baseline and caught a whistle that seemed subject to the new block-charge rule (wherein defenders have to be set before the offensive player makes his move at the basket). When the official signaled a charge instead, Boeheim pointed toward the new rule, and he was probably right. The problem is that he did so after ripping his jacket off and running on the floor and providing his opinion so vociferously he earned two quick technicals and was ejected from the game. At which point, the block-charge no longer mattered. The game was over.
In the long term, Saturday's game will be rememembered as a second chapter in what is immediately becoming a marquee post-realignment ACC rivalry. For now, though, the legacy of this game is the explosion of hilarity Boeheim inspired on the Internet. There was Baywatch Boeheim, Breaking Boeheim, WWE Boeheim, Kool-Aid Boeheim, "This Is It" Boeheim and, my favorite, Operation Boeheim. And surely many more.
Jim Boeheim went 38 years without an ejection. If you didn't know better, you'd think he was waiting for the Internet to catch up.
Michigan sweeps Spartans in regular season, move into Big Ten lead, with a 79-70 win Sunday. Remember January? Back when Michigan was playing insanely effective offensive basketball, and Nik Stauskas was positioning himself as an All-American candidate? Remember the Wolverines going to East Lansing, Mich., on Jan. 25 and sealing the whole impressive run with a win over their in-state rivals? That team was back again Sunday afternoon. The Wolverines scored 79 points in 62 possessions, good for 1.27 points per trip, the same average as on Jan. 25. Stauskas scored 21 of his game-high 25 points in the second half, Caris LeVert was brilliant, Tom Izzo left shaking his head about his team's inability to stop Michigan -- “We didn’t guard. We ran for 300 yards, passed for 400 yards, but you’ve gotta check someone," he said -- and the Wolverines swept their rivals and put their Big Ten title hopes firmly in their own hands. Not bad for one afternoon's work.
SMU likely seals tourney bid with 64-55 win at UConn. The one thing holding back the fighting Larry Browns from a surefire NCAA tournament bid was their lack of work away from home. All of SMU's notable successes this season had come in their own building -- including Jan. 4's statement win over Connecticut. On Sunday, the Mustangs repeated the feat against the Huskies on the road with a brilliant defensive performance, and a win that filled that last real hole on their résumé.
STAT OF THE WEEK: UNC's win over Duke made the Tar Heels the first team in history -- dating back to the very first Associated Press poll in 1961-62 -- to beat the AP preseason Nos. 1 (Kentucky), 2 (Michigan State), 3 (Louisville) and 4 (Duke) in the same campaign.
THE GAMES YOU NEED TO SEE
(For two more in-depth previews of two games earlier in the upcoming week -- and this one is especially back-loaded -- check back for Monday morning’s “Planning for Success” series.)
Cincinnati at UConn, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN: There are some decent games throughout the week, but nothing comes close to what we've got on deck Saturday -- it's an absolutely loaded slate, and Cincinnati-UConn kicks it off. The American features maybe the three best point guards in the country, and two of them (Cincy's Sean Kilpatrick and UConn's Shabazz Napier) will check each other on both ends of the floor in one that should get the blood pumping early this weekend.
Louisville at Memphis, 2 p.m. ET, CBS: Cincy-UConn will be followed immediately by Russ Smith's trip to the FedEx Forum in Memphis to play a Tigers backcourt that is rather talented in its own right. Louisville locked up its NCAA tournament prospects with Saturday's win at Cincinnati, and Memphis should be pretty safe, too, but this one is about more than tournanment seeds or even short-term conference tables.
Syracuse at Virginia, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN: And then, of course, there's this. For weeks now, our own Andy Katz has been touting Virginia as a possible, even probable, ACC regular-season champion, and the scheduling of this game is part of the reason why. On Monday, Syracuse has to turn around from Saturday's loss at Duke with a road trip to Maryland (which should be a relatively easy win, but you never know). On Saturday, it completes its three-game road swing with an absolutely brutal game against one of the nation's most difficult defensive setups. Big, big game.
Saint Louis at VCU, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN2: Last week, VCU nearly went to Chaifetz Arena in Saint Louis and did the unthinkable. Instead, the Billikens held on and extended their winning streak. Assuming it handles dreadful Duquesne Thursday, SLU will arrive in Richmond on Saturday having won its past 20 games. The last time the Billikens lost was Dec. 1 to Wichita State. Their only other defeat came by six to Wisconsin. They're having an insane year.
Kansas at Oklahoma State, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN: Marcus Smart's first action since the infamous Jeff Orr shove was more than impressive: It was the kind of all-court command we hadn't seen Smart deliver since December. He finished with 16 points, 10 assists, 6 steals and 3 rebounds. He shot 5-of-7 from 2 and his team beat Texas Tech (oh, the revenge) by 22; the only negative was his 0-for-3 mark from 3-point range. Which raises the question: Is Oklahoma State ready to get back to the serious, elite form it displayed early in the season? Might a visit from Kansas -- remember, Oklahoma State nearly left Lawrence with a come-from-behind win on Jan. 18 -- redeem the past month of futility? Is Smart ready to be a star once more?
PHOTO VIDEO OF THE WEEK
This space is usually reserved for our favorite single image, but this week, there is no way to confer that honor without relying on the miracle of motion video. I'm talking, of course, about the Kansas bench's reaction to Tarik Black's huge dunk against Texas in the second half. There is the usual assortment of hold-me-back hugs and jumping, but the Jayhawks so thoroughly lost it that the ensuing celebration included a) Wayne Selden leaping over chairs and into a teammate's arms and, best of all, b) Naadir Tharpe doing a spinning robot through the fracas à la that recurring character on "Chappelle's Show." Black's dunk was good. That bench celebration was an all-timer.