Posted 02/07/2008 at 04:30 PM
The incredible long range shooting for Duke last night certainly helped the cause but you can’t underestimate how big of a loss a point guard can be to a college basketball team. The long-awaited Duke/North Carolina match-up provided an entertaining game but Duke took over the game in the second half and never surrendered the lead. Duke scored 39 points on 13 three-point baskets, accounting for almost half of the total points. Injured North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson averages over 13 points per game but as the point guard and a good defensive player his absence meant a great deal more than the loss of scoring. Take nothing away from Duke however as the Devils played extremely well in a tough venue and looking at the schedule ahead it will be difficult for North Carolina to catch Duke in the ACC standings. For more on the ACC and a look at the tournament chances for the remaining team’s check out my recent article posted on this website.
Another prominent game last night saw Wisconsin win at Iowa to move to 9-1 in the Big Ten. The finish led to some nail-biting for players backing either side as the final margin of six was just one-point off the closing spread of seven. Iowa was covering the entire game however as that was the largest margin of the night. Being in the Midwest and getting to see a lot of Big Ten games it has been hard to believe how much criticism Wisconsin senior Brian Butch continues to receive among Wisconsin fans. A few years ago Butch was regarded as one of the best recruits ever to come to Wisconsin, a McDonald’s All-American with great potential. He has endured some growing pains along the way to be sure but now in his senior year he is a key player and likely the most important player on a team that is leading the Big Ten and ranked in the top ten nationally. When Butch was injured last year the Badgers struggled and saw an early exit in the NCAA tournament despite being a #2 seed. It is true that Butch will not be an All-American or a lottery pick but he is definitely among the top players in the Big Ten and has been a key part of very successful teams. He leads the Badgers in rebounding and is just a fraction of a point from being the leading scorer on the team. Sometimes his play is not highlight reel worthy and he occasionally is greatly out-muscled inside but it is hard to say he has had a disappointing career. A lot of people get very excited about the football signing day this week and seeing the rankings of their teams. The rankings and success of teams on the court and field are the ones that are meaningful and Butch has his team ranked #8 in the nation, after being a top ten team last year. What’s not to like?