It has been 23 years since a team reached 30-0, something No. 2 Wichita State did when it became the first Division I basketball team to reach 30 wins in the regular season when it defeated Bradley, 69-49, earlier this week.
The Shockers, at this point — despite a weak schedule that features just one good win against St. Louis — have nothing to prove to their detractors who think they should not be a top seed in the NCAA tournament.
The Shockers have one more regular-season game against Missouri State this weekend, and nobody in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament likely represents more than a speed bump on the way to entering March Madness undefeated.
What is odd is the surprise over their success. Wasn’t it just last season that the Shockers were knocking off Ohio State in the Elite Eight before ultimately falling to eventual champion Louisville, 72-68, in the Final Four?
Here’s to a deserving top tourney seed.
After spending most of the season in the starting lineup for No. 4 Arizona, the Wildcats have looked comfortable in recent games bringing Chester’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson off the bench.
It’s not punishment. The Arizona coaching staff likes his versatility to defend multiple positions coming off the bench. The coaches were particularly impressed with the way Hollis-Jefferson finished in an overtime victory over Utah. Hollis-Jefferson scored 13 points in that game, coming up big following a 69-66 loss to Arizona State that dropped the Wildcats two notches in the rankings.
“If we didn’t have him playing the way he did, we wouldn’t have won that game,” teammate Nick Johnson said following the Utah game. He brings a lot of versatility.”
“If we didn’t have him, we wouldn’t have won.”
Given a few days to cool off, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim finally fell in line with everyone else who criticized him for his tantrum in the Orangemen’s loss to Duke last week.
Boeheim was ejected with 10.4 seconds to play picking up two technical fouls and charging the court following a charging call against Syracuse’s C.J. Fair. At the time, Syracuse trailed by just two points.
“There’s no question, I went too far,” Boeheim told “The Herd on ESPN Radio. “In my mind, the game was over. That was really the call that got to me.
“Would you rather not do that? Probably. But when you’re in the middle of that moment and you’re involved in a game like that and you feel that the game is gone because of this play, you lose control of your emotions.”
Last year the Atlantic Ten had a strong representation in the NCAA tournament, sending five teams (St. Louis, VCU, Butler, Temple, and La Salle) to the Big Dance. Expectations were not so high this season. However, it’s looking very much as if the A-10 could possibly send as many as five teams to the tourney again.
St. Louis, which just saw its 20-game winning streak end on Thursday, is an obvious lock. Four teams, Massachusetts (22-5), VCU (21-7), George Washington (20-7) and St. Joseph’s (20-7), winner of 16 of 19 after picking up a quality win over Dayton on Tuesday, had at least 20 wins going into the weekend.
Dayton and Richmond are really sitting on the outside looking in, Dayton especially after seeing its five-game winning streak end Tuesday in a blowout loss to St. Joe’s.
While top-ranked Florida and Kentucky are set for the postseason, the rest of the SEC looks like it will be locked out of the NCAA tournament. Georgia is the third team in the conference standings, but the Bulldogs don’t have many quality wins.
Tar Heels rising
While his name might get lost among the pantheon of freshman stars lighting up the ACC, North Carolina freshman guard Marcus Paige is making a name for himself as a finisher.
Paige capped a career high 35-point performance with a game-winning layup with nine seconds left in the Tar Heels’ 85-84 overtime victory over North Carolina State. Paige scored 31 points after intermission. During the Tar Heels’ 10-game winning streak, Paige has been lethal after halftime. He scored 20 in the second half in a win over Florida State. And in the Tar Heels’ big win over Duke, he scored all 13 of his points in the second half.
Expatriate of the week
Sophomore forward Amile Jefferson, a graduate of Friends’ Central High School, is playing a much-expanded role with No. 6 Duke this season. After making seven starts as a freshman, Jefferson had started 21 games through Wednesday. The 6-9 forward is averaging 6.7 points and 6.7 rebounds. He is shooting 66.7 percent from the field, and he’s second on the team in blocked shots. Jefferson will be required to take some of the rebounding load off of teammate Jabari Parker when the postseason arrives. He finished his high school career with 1,569 points and 839 rebounds.