Bill Frieder on Texas, Michigan, the SEC, VCU and more


Bevo can’t dance:

All good things must come to an end, and one of those things this year is probably going to be Rick Barnes and Texas making the NCAA Tournament. Coach Barnes, incredibly, has taken the Longhorns to March Madness for 14 straight seasons, starting in 1999. But nothing seems to be going right for them at the moment. The ‘Horns have lost two straight, first to Georgetown and then they blew a late lead to fall to UCLA. It isn’t gong to get a whole lot easier before conference play tips off in the Big 12 either, as Texas still plays North Carolina and Michigan State. Right now the Longhorns are 5-4. I just don’t see them getting it straightened out this year in a league that takes no prisoners.

“Hail to the Victors” of their first nine games:

Congrats to Michigan, off to a 9-0 start, its best record since the 1987-88 team went 11-0 under Coach… hey, that’s me! Freshman Mitch McGary is slowly coming around, though he only played 16 minutes in a Saturday win over Arkansas. The Wolverines’ five starters all scored in double figures, which meant there wasn’t a lot of the ball to go around. I think McGary will figure it out as he needs to do better than 14.4 minutes and 5.7 points per game. The bench is a great motivator. One freshman that is not off to a slow start is Anthony Bennett at UNLV. Wow, is he good. Bennett had career-highs of 25 points and 13 rebounds and led the Runnin’ Rebels to a victory over Cal on Sunday – the sixth straight win for UNLV.

Not much to SEC here:

I’m just not sure the SEC is very good this year. Georgia, Auburn and Mississippi State are very bad and probably won’t have winning overall records. Vanderbilt had a great year last year, but seems to be taking a step back. Arkansas is going to be average, and they were picked fifth in the pre-season. Tennessee can’t score and Alabama hasn’t done anything special yet. Yes, Florida is big time and Missouri is great, but the bottom of this league will be something to keep an eye on. It could hold back teams in the middle when the tournament selection committee meets in March.

The Rams are better than 6-3:

Sometimes records don’t tell the whole story. VCU is just 6-3 on the year, but its losses are to teams that are a combined 26-1. The Rams’ losses to Duke (9-0), Missouri (8-1) and Wichita State (9-0) are hardly anything to be ashamed of. Here is an unreal statistic from the VCU sports information office: in 360 minutes of action, the Rams have either led or been within one possession of the lead for 323:53, or almost 90 percent of the time. Everyone remembers when Shaka Smart’s squad went to the Final Four in 2011, but many forget they followed that up by going 29-7 last year and then went toe-to-toe with Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen. VCU returned 84 percent of last year’s minutes and 82 percent of the scoring. Keep an eye on them and don’t let that 6-3 record fool you.

– Bill Frieder

Former Michigan and Arizona State head coach Bill Frieder is an analyst for Westwood One’s coverage of NCAA Basketball. In his weekly blog Boxed Out, Bill scours the box scores to bring you interesting stories from the world of college basketball.

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