Late December is usually a weird part of the college hoops season. Most schools' students are on break, and a lot of times programs use that opportunity to schedule a few cupcake games before the conference season begins in January. And understandably so.
But not tonight. Tonight features No. 9 Michigan State at No. 2 Texas followed by California (who, after a slow start, could sneak back into the top 25 soon) at No. 1 Kansas. Tonight tops that delicious feast of hoops with a thick gravy dollop of watchable games like Bucknell at Notre Dame, Cleveland State at No. 15 Ohio State, and No. 16 Butler at UAB. Yes, tonight is decidedly awesome.
To the links, then, shall we?
Tom Izzo thinks Texas is the best team in the country. It's true. He said this:
"This team, I think in watching them on film, comparing them to even Kansas, they look to be the best team that I’ve seen as far as depth, experience, guard play, intangibles, shooters and rebounders. It’s hard to believe a college basketball team would get 29 offensive rebounds in a game against another good college basketball team. That’s a scary thought going into this game."
Kansas fans might disagree (and of course Izzo has a vested interest in keeping expectations for MSU low) but he's not far off. Texas is pretty freakin' scary.
Speaking of scary, here's a scary thought: Texas freshman Avery Bradley is just starting to figure this whole college basketball thing out.
Meanwhile, The Only Colors and Burnt Orange Nation discussed the game in a series of question and answer sessions, and The Only Colors has a full tempo-free-rich preview for your enjoyment. Newsflash: Texas is just as good at the four factors as their record and reputation would apply.
In our own corner of the Interwebs, Jay Bilas has a full preview of tonight's action (Insider), while Andy Katz has an excellent feature on the violence that hit Cal guard Jerome Randle's cousin last summer. It's must-read stuff.
As Dana O'Neil wrote here last night, Derrick Caracter is looking more and more like the Derrick Caracter who could rightfully be called the best high school player in the country years ago. Adam Zagoria has more on the subject.
New York City metro college hoops is not very good. It hasn't been very good for a while now. It would be nice if New York City hoops was good again, though it's not like the future of college basketball is riding on it. (College basketball seems to be doing just fine, thanks.) But if you're into local laments, here's one.
Connecticut's men's and women's teams are as successful as ever. So why is attendance fizzling? The Hartford Courant tells the tale, but one thing worth noting is that UConn's attendance, while down by its own standards, is still awfully good compared to most schools. The folks in Storrs don't have much to worry about yet.
Rick Pitino suspended Louisville forward Terrence Jennings for the Cardinals' game against Louisiana-Lafayette for an unspecified team violation. Somehow, I imagine the Cardinals will survive his absence.
When good blogs go bad (or get a bunch of really bad commenters): One of the best newspaper-run college hoops blogs anywhere, the Bloomington Herald-Times' Hoosier Scoop, has recently become overrun with trolls. The lesson here, as always: Don't be a troll! And if you're not a troll, please, don't feed the trolls. This is Internet 101, people.