Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Final Four Prediction: Kentucky Wildcats vs. Louisville Cardinals (Trifone)

The premiere matchup this weekend is clearly Kentucky facing Louisville. Pitino vs. Calipari, vying for bragging rights and in-state basketball dominance. It is Michigan/Ohio St., Yankees/Red Sox, and Duke/UNC all rolled into one. And Pitino has done a masterful job putting all of the pressure on Kentucky. Of course, he's right, all of the pressure is on Kentucky. They are far and away the best team in college basketball, with what will likely be the top 2 picks in the draft next year.

Kentucky has steamrolled everyone.

There may have been a few moments during the tournament where a game appeared close, but that was short-lived. The Wildcats scored 102 points against Indiana in the Sweet 16, one of only two teams to knock them off this year.

102 points!

This wasn't the first round against the Savannah State Tigers or a team that went on a nice run to win their conference tournament even though they had a 12-28 record for the season. This was a top-15 Indiana basketball team in the Sweet 16. Credit Indiana, they actually played a great game. But Kentucky is just too good. For anyone that saw the first half of the Baylor game, there really isn't a lot of room for debate as to who the best team, and heavy favorite to win it all, is.

Louisville has also been fairly impressive. New Mexico posed a pretty tough challenge, but Louisville outlasted them in the Round of 32. Michigan State was the favorite to come out of the bracket, but the Cardinals smothered them defensively. The Spartans struggled against the press, but ultimately, it was their inability to score that kept them from making it a game. They scored a measly 44 points in a game that the Spartans just couldn't make any kind of run at winning. As great of a defensive game as Louisville played against the one seed, perhaps their most impressive win was over a hot Florida team. Louisville was able to stifle the Gator offense enough, and even though they were largely outplayed and trailing for most of the game, they were able to control the game down the stretch and come out with the victory. Pretty impressive that Pitino moved to 10-0 in Sweet 16 games and 7-0 against his former protege, Billy Donovan.

I'd love to go out on a limb and take Louisville to win this game. I am certainly hoping for an entertaining game, and I do believe that Louisville's defense will be able to slow Kentucky a bit. It will also be interesting to see what Pitino comes up with, knowing he is clearly overmatched from a talent perspective. The problem with taking Louisville is that even if Louisville can contain the Wildcat offense, Kentucky's defense is even better than their offense is. In a one-game situation, anything can happen although Louisville needs to be pretty close to perfect to come out on top. But I believe Kentucky is ready for the pressure, and on a mission to win the title.

Prediction: Kentucky 74, Louisville 58

[Editor's note: John Trifone (@JohnnyT0122) is the author of this post. For his prediction for the other Final Four matchup, click here.]

Final Four Prediction: Kansas Jayhawks vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (Trifone)

It seems that my predictive powers have waned as the tournament has gone on, and I'm left with just one Final Four team in my bracket; and realistically, how many people don't have Kentucky? Still, I'm undeterred and moving forward, confident as ever in my ability to pick the winners in the Final Four, as well as the eventual Champion.

Ohio State versus Kansas seems to be the forgotten matchup due to the enormous in-state rivalry between Kentucky and Louisville, but this promises to be an excellent matchup. Thomas Robinson squaring off against Jared Sullinger should be a great battle and offers a lot of star power to the game. Both players will be lottery picks should they decide to enter the draft, so both are likely looking at their final opportunity to win the National Championship.

Ohio State has looked good so far this tournament. Gonzaga in the Round of 32 has actually been their closest matchup, as the game was tied with under 3 minutes to go. The next two games against Cincinnati and Syracuse respectively, were decent games, but Ohio St. was playing with the lead for the majority of both games. Cincinnati didn't prove to be much of a challenge as Ohio St. pretty much cruised to the Elite Eight. Syracuse was a bit tougher, but Sullinger only played for six minutes in the first half, and 'Cuse could only manage a tie game after 20 minutes of play. The Buckeyes then stormed out of the gates and took a double-digit lead early on in the second half. Syracuse kept fighting back, but Ohio St. did not relinquish the lead.

Kansas, on the other hand, has been challenged in every game thus far. Detroit gave them more of a game than the 15-point margin would indicate, but for a 2-vs.-15 matchup, was not as big of a blowout as might have been expected. But I suppose with only 50 percent of the 2 seeds getting out of the first round this year, Kansas did pretty well. The next three games were different stories. Purdue led Kansas just about wire-to-wire. Robbie Hummel was brilliant, and Kansas was really fortunate to come away with the win. Purdue was the better team for 38 minutes, but the Jayhawks found a way to squeak by. North Carolina St. was another great game, though it was a bit more back and forth. Kansas had a bit less of a challenge than the Purdue game, but still only won by three, holding off a pretty furious push by the Wolfpack. Finally, the North Carolina game was another tight one. The lead changed hands several times. Bill Self made a nice defensive switch in the second half that Carolina struggled with, and in the final few minutes, Kansas was able to pull away. It may have been a different story if Kendall Marshall had played, but the Jayhawks once again did just enough to get the W.

The obvious pick here is Ohio St. They appear to be playing very well, with more convincing victories thus far, and the Buckeyes have a more talented squad. Call it a feeling, but I'm going to take Kansas to win though. Maybe it's partly rooting for Thomas Robinson and his heartfelt story, but I believe Kansas will rise to the occasion. I've felt that Ohio St. has been a bit overrated all year, although I must admit they've been playing great basketball of late. Still, Kansas has battled, and have come through when they needed to, and I believe they have one more game in them.

Prediction: Kansas 74, Ohio St. 72

[Editor's note: John Trifone (@JohnnyT0122) is the author of this post. For his prediction for the other Final Four matchup, click here.]

Monday, March 26, 2012

NBA Consensus Power Rankings, Week 13

When the Bulls host the Nuggets on Monday night, it is likely that point guard Derrick Rose (groin) will miss another game and perhaps a few more.

Through the first 50 games of this lockout-shortened season, Rose has missed a total of 16 games. Not surprisingly, the Bulls have a better winning percentage with Rose than they do without him.

That said, the Bulls have won 75 percent (12-4) in the 16 games they have played without the league's reigning MVP.

After Sunday night's win over the Heat, the only other team that has won at least 75 percent of their games is Oklahoma City. The Thunder are 37-12 (.755) while the Heat, who have the league's third-best record, are 35-12 (.745).

Here are some stats about this week's NBA Consensus Power Rankings:

- Biggest jump from last week: Utah Jazz (+3.17)
- Biggest drop from last week: Portland Trail Blazers (-1.67)
- Team with widest difference between high and low ranker: Houston Rockets (5)

[See our full NBA Consensus Power Rankings.]

Each week, we respond to one roundtable question and here's this week's question: At this point, who is your NBA Coach of the Year?

John (follow on Twitter): Gregg Popovich

For coach of the year, I'm going to go with Gregg Popovich. The Spurs had something of a dynasty years ago, but have declined in recent years. Coming into the season, the Spurs were largely written off due to their aging group and the shortened season. The Spurs have been anything but what they were projected to be, though, currently three games out of first in the Western Conference. With their experience and talent, San Antonio is a legitimate threat to make the NBA Finals. Given the circumstances of the season, Pop has done a great job this year. Other coaches also deserve recognition and consideration, but ultimately, I feel the Spurs have over-acheived the most.

Kevin (follow on Twitter): Tom Thibodeau

For me, it's a two-man race between Chicago's Kevin Thibodeau and Philadelphia's Doug Collins. The 76ers have surprised almost everyone as they have led the Atlantic Division from start to finish (or this point in the season). With a young, athletic team, the Sixers play great defense, are unselfish and don't turn the ball over, all of which is attributrable to Collins in some way.

That said, the Bulls have been without Rose for 16 games (as noted above), but Luol Deng, Richard Hamilton and others have also missed a considerable amount of action due to injury. Considered the best (or one of the best) defensive coaches in the league, Thibodeau has led the Bulls to a league-high 40 wins and has become the fastest coach in NBA history to reach 100 career wins.

Dan (follow on Twitter): Tom Thibodeau

For me, I am going with Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls as he has done a masterful job this year. To me, it was close between Gregg Popovich and Thibodeau as I think Erik Spolestra has one of the easiest jobs out there. At the end of the day, the Bulls have already clinched a playoff spot, and have posted the league's best record 'while having to play without Derrick Rose for a significant amount of time.

To see where all 30 teams fall in our power rankings going through Week 13, click here.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Trifone: First-Week Recap of NCAA Tournament

Although there haven't really been a lot of true buzzer-beaters that we are accustomed to seeing this time of year, this has been one of the most exciting first weekends of the tournament in recent memory. There have been a lot of double-digit seeds advancing, or at least contending for a full 40 minutes. Often times, a 15-seed comes out of the gates on an 8-2 run, only to get trounced by 25 points, and be out of the game by halftime. Not this year.

Thursday was chalk city, with the only real upset being VCU in the 12/5 matchup with Wichita St. Tough to call that too big of an upset, though, as Shaka Smart led the Rams to the Final Four last year. I was disappointed to see them get knocked out in the second round by Indiana, after leading the majority of the game.

Friday brought some history to the March Madness tournament, as for the first time ever, two number 15 seeds advanced to the round of 32. Up until this year, only four 15 seeds have ever knocked off a number two, and two more happened on Friday. First it was Norfolk St., upsetting the mighty Missouri. I have to say, this one shocked me. After following Mizzou for a lot of the year, they had all the talent in the world to make a deep run, and contend for the title. It was reminiscent of 2001 when a Marcus Fizer-led Iowa St. team that had similar aspirations got bounced in the first round by Hampton. As I had Missouri in my Final Four, I was not pleased with the outcome, although I couldn't help but feel torn, rooting against such a massive underdog.

The second major upset was less of a surprise to me. I felt Duke was largely overrated all year, and in fact picked Xavier to knock them off in the second round in my bracket. Still, the way in which it happened was quite surprising. Lehigh pretty much led from start to finish, and Duke never really got back into it. Every time Duke started to make a run, Lehigh had an answer, and down the stretch, losing the lead was never really in jeopardy for the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh came out strong against Xavier, but eventually blew the lead and were unable to become the first ever 15 seed to advance to the sweet 16.

Florida St. gave me a good scare, but were able to fend off the Bonnies and advance. Other notable first round upsets were Ohio over Michigan and South Florida over Temple, as 13 and 12 seeds respectively. Ohio moved on to the Sweet 16, after a strong second-half effort against the Bulls.

Saturday was mostly chalk again, but had some highly entertaining games with some tight finishes. Louisville won by three over New Mexico, Marquette used a late surge to defeat Murray St., who led most of the game, and Ohio St. had it's hands full with Gonzaga. After a close first half, the Buckeyes pulled ahead by double digits, but with under four minutes to go, the Zags managed to tie the game. Still, the higher seeds ended up coming out on top, returning to the normalcy we witnessed on Thursday.

Sunday saw a one seed taken to the the brink, as Saint Louis gave Michigan St. all it could handle. This one didn't really have the feel of an upset because Michigan St. led the whole way. But they just couldn't seem to pull away, and it was a two-point game with about three minutes to go. Michigan St. held on, though, for a four-point win. They play a tough Louisville team next.

Billy Donovan has thus far, been coach of the tournament in my mind. In what should have been a tough matchup against Virginia in the 10/7 game on Friday, the Gators destroyed the Cavaliers by 26 points. In the second round, they played in what can only be accurately described as a shoot around session against the same Norfolk team that knocked out one of the best teams in the country two days before. Donovan must have watched that game and come up with a game plan that Florida executed perfectly. They absolutely crushed Norfolk St. 84-50, in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicates.

North Carolina St. was another double-digit seed to make the final 16, upsetting Georgetown in a game that was pretty close throughout.

Purdue ALMOST pulled off another big upset, leading the game just about wire to wire. Kansas took a one-point lead with under three minutes to go, and Purdue hit two consecutive buckets to go back up three. With under a minute, Kansas made some great defensive plays and took the lead for good, winning a thriller by three. Purdue had a decent look to tie it when they inbounded it cross court with 2.5 seconds to go, but it bricked out as the buzzer sounded.

The final game of the night was a war of attrition between Cincinnati and Florida St. This was a true bracket buster for me since I had Florida St. going to the Final Four, whereas most others have Ohio St. No team led by more than five points until the final minute, but Cincinnati came out on top, making the state of Ohio an incredible 8-0 in the tournament this year.

Overall, some great action so far. Hopefully we'll see some true buzzer-beaters and some more good games next week as well.

[Editor's note: John Trifone (@JohnnyT0122), the author of this post, is currently tied for first place in our 98-entry March Madness group. In other words, feel free to follow him on Twitter and mock and heckle him.]

NBA Consensus Power Rankings, Week 12

Not necessarily in the same order every week, the top three teams in our NBA Consensus Power Rankings have stayed in the top three every week of the season so far.

Based on odds to win the NBA Championship (via, the Miami Heat (6/5 odds) are the prohibitive favorites to win it all. The other two teams in the top three -- the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls -- have 7/2 odds.

In addition to those three division leaders, the other three divisions leaders have the following odds to win the NBA Championship: Lakers (7/1), Spurs (15/1) and 76ers (25/1).

The two teams with odds of 25/1 or better to win it all that don't currently lead their division are the Clippers (13/1) and the Mavs (20/1).

Here are some more stats about this week's NBA Consensus Power Rankings:

- Biggest jump from last week: Phoenix Suns (+2.25)
- Biggest drop from last week: Portland Trail Blazers (-2.25)
- Team with widest difference between high and low ranker: Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics (5)

[See our full NBA Consensus Power Rankings.]

Each week, we respond to one roundtable question and here's this week's question: Which current division leader is LEAST likely to win their division?

John (follow on Twitter): Philadelphia 76ers

The current division leader that is least likely to win their division would have to be the Philadelphia 76ers. They have cooled off since a hot start to the season, and have the Boston Celtics breathing down their necks. Behind Rajon Rondo, the Celtics have pulled within 1.5 games of the division lead, and seem poised to move up to the four spot in the playoffs, rather than the seven seed as things stand now. The Knicks also seem to be playing well again under interim coach Mike Woodson, with three very convincing wins in a row since Mike D'Antoni's surprising resignation this past week. The Knicks are currently four games back. Philadelphia will have to pick it up down the stretch if they want to fend off either or both of the Celtics and Knicks and claim the division championship.

Sean (follow on Twitter): San Antonio Spurs

Philly is the obvious choice with Boston only 1-1/2 back, and New York 4 back, but I really like this 76ers team. I am going to go with San Antonio even though they are up four games right now. I think Dallas or Memphis can make a run and take the Southwest.

Kevin (follow on Twitter): San Antonio Spurs

Ruling out the top three teams, the easy answer, I suppose, would be to list the Sixers here. And the easy response, I suppose, would be to say that I'm a "homer" for not listing the Sixers here. While the Sixers may have lost five of their past eight games, two of their wins during that span have come against the Celtics and Knicks, two teams that I believe don't have the ability to overtake the 76ers down the stretch. While the Pacific division is tight, Kobe and the Lakers now how to close so I don't expect them to give up their lead.

The Spurs have strong veteran presence, great coaching and they know how to win. That said, the two teams behind them in the Southwest have legitimate shots of surpassing them. After all, the Mavs are the defending NBA champions and the Grizzlies made it to the Western Conference Finals last year. Either one of these teams is certainly capable of making a final-month run to win the division.

Dan (follow on Twitter): Philadelphia 76ers

This year we still have a few different divisions that are hotly contested in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southwest, but the team that will not end up winning will be the 76ers. The Celtics have too much veteran savvy, are only 1.5 games back and the difference between having the No. 3 seed and the No. 7 seed will be enormous. Down the stretch, the 76ers will fold as they have not been in this position at all, and the Celtics are the team that will need the No. 3 seed.

To see where all 30 teams fall in our power rankings going through Week 12, click here.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fab Melo out for the NCAA Tournanment

Syracuse just announced some potentially bracket-altering news.

The team will be without center Fab Melo for the entire tournament due to an eligibility issue, per Nicole Auerbach of USA Today.

Melo, who averaged 7.8 points per game, is the team's leading rebounder (5.8 per game) and is tied for 10th in the nation in blocked shots (3.1 per game).

As Auerbach points out, the team's biggest weakness just got weaker. Syracuse ranks 129th in Division I in rebounding and now will be without their leading rebounder.

The No. 1 seed in the East, Syracuse opens up the tournament against N.C. Asheville on Thursday.

Monday, March 12, 2012

NBA Consensus Power Rankings, Week 11

This is one of the best sports weeks of the year!

With March Madness set to start on Thursday (play-in games on Tuesday), the NFL free-agency period begins Tuesday and the NBA's trade deadline is Thursday.

This week's roundtable question will focus on the NBA trade deadline.

Before we get to that, this week's NBA Consensus Power Rankings have the same top four teams in the same order as last week: Miami, Oklahoma City, Chicago and San Antonio. However, the Lakers have replaced the Clippers as the top team in L.A. and as a top-five team in our power rankings.

At the bottom, there is no change to the bottom four teams: Charlotte, Washington, New Orleans and Toronto (although the Wizards and Hornets were tied at 28 last week).

For a second week in a row, the Knicks were big droppers. From Week 9 to 10, they were tied with the Blazers for the largest week-to-week drop. From last week to this week, the Knicks had the second-biggest drop. Just two weeks ago, the Knicks were the 12th-ranked team in our rankings and are now 18th.

That's Linsane.

Here are some more stats about this week's NBA Consensus Power Rankings:

- Biggest jump from last week: Boston Celtics (+3.25)
- Biggest drop from last week: Dallas Mavericks (-3.25)
- Team with widest difference between high and low ranker: Boston Celtics (6)

[See our full NBA Consensus Power Rankings.]

Each week, we respond to one roundtable question and here's this week's question: Will the Magic trade Dwight Howard before the trade deadline on March 15th?

John (follow on Twitter): All year I have believed Dwight Howard was going to be traded, and that it was only a matter of time. Of course, as we get closer to the trade deadline, I'm now changing my tune on the matter. It appears that Orlando feels that they have enough talent to make a legitimate run in the East, and that they still have hopes to re-sign Howard after the season. Howard's own mother voiced her opinion, that Orlando was the best place for him. I'm fairly certain that the Lakers and a few other teams may make a run at him, but they may also feel that they can get him after the season without giving up the high price tag that would obviously come along with trading for him. So overall, I believe Howard will stay put in Orlando, at least for the rest of the season.

Kevin (follow on Twitter): With the trade deadline fast approaching but coming a few weeks later than last year due to the shortened season, that also means that teams will have the services of any player(s) acquired for less time than they typically would. Of course, any team that trades for Howard will only pull the trigger provided they can agree to a long-term deal with him since his contract is up at the end of the season. I think the favorite to pull off a deal would be the New Jersey (soon-to-be Brooklyn) Nets, but I think they wait until the season ends to try to woo Howard and pair him up with Deron Williams.

Dan (follow on Twitter): The Magic will not trade Howard this year, as most teams have been trying to steal him for bargain basement prices. The Magic have a few contracts coming out their books this year, and they can pay the most for Howard next year as well. I believe the Magic will make a serious run at resigning Howard this year, as they cannot get fair market value for him right now.

To see where all 30 teams fall in our power rankings going through Week 11, click here.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Report: Ricky Rubio out for year with torn ACL

Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio left last night's game with a knee injury. The results from today's MRI are not good.

Per Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Rubio will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.

Even after last night's loss to the Lakers, the 'Wolves are above .500 (21-20) and there was plenty of reason for optimism with the young duo of Rubio and Kevin Love.

The Timberwolves haven't finished with a .500 record since 2004-05 and haven't won more than 30 percent of their games in any of the past four seasons. In fact, they have already won more games this year than they did in all of last season (17) or the previous season (15).

Rubio ranks fifth in the NBA in assists (8.2 per game) and third in steals (2.2 per game).

With Rubio out, the fantasy value of Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea increases. Ridnour is owned in only 47 percent of Yahoo! leagues and Barea is owned in 11 percent of leagues.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Luol Deng (wrist) may miss a few games

Bulls small forward Luol Deng may miss a few games due to his wrist, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

"I hate talking about my wrist, but I'm going to talk with the medical staff and [coach Kevin Thibodeaux]," Deng said. "The past few games, it has escalated a little bit. We have to kind of bring it down again. I've been trying to avoid it and everything but it's a tough one."

But he's not considering surgery.

"I said it from the start: I'm not taking that route," he said. "Mostly it's going to be rest. It's definitely better than when I first did it and when I first came back. But there was a period of time when it felt great. The last few games, the pain is kind of high again. I have to control it and monitor it.

"I just have to find ways to adjust my game. I've proved I can play with it. Some days it's going to feel great. Some days it's going to feel terrible. We just have to bring it down."

Deng was only one-for-nine from the field in 39 minutes last night and 14-for-41 in his last four games.

Monday, March 5, 2012

NBA Consensus Power Rankings, Week 10

As it currently stands, the Minnesota Timberwolves are 19-19 and in third place in the Northwest Division behind the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets.

If the season were to end now, the T'Wolves would just miss the playoffs as they are currently the 9th seed in the Western Conference.

Point guard Ricky Rubio is having a great "rookie" season with 8.3 assists per game, tied for fifth in the NBA, and 2.3 steals per game, which ranks second in the league.

Yet interestingly enough, if you look at Rubio's game log, he has shot exactly 1-for-8 in three of his past four games. Over his past five games, he is only 8-for-38 (20.6 percent) from the field.

Plus he had double-digit assists on March 3rd for the first time since February 7th although he had three games with nine assists and three games with eight assists in between double-digit performances.

In that 12-assist game on Saturday, Rubio set the franchise record with 10 assists in the first quarter.

Minnesota is still in the bottom half of our NBA Consensus Power Rankings (No. 18), but with Kevin Love (23 years old) and Ricky Rubio (21 years old), the future is only going to get brighter for the T'Wolves.

Here are some more stats about this week's NBA Consensus Power Rankings:

- Biggest jump from last week: Memphis Grizzlies (+5.25)
- Biggest drop from last week: Portland Trail Blazers and New York Knicks (-2.50)
- Team with widest difference between high and low ranker: Indiana Pacers (8)

[See our full NBA Consensus Power Rankings.]

Each week, we respond to one roundtable question and here's this week's question: Will the Timberwolves finish above .500 for the first time since the 2004-2005 season?

John (follow on Twitter): Below .500

After a big win on the road at Portland on Saturday, the Timberwolves reached a .500 record at 19-19. Looking ahead, it's going to be awfully close for them. They have their share of winnable games, but are definitely going to need to play well on the road, as they did last night. If this question was asking if Minnesota will finish at or above .500, I would say that they will. But in order to finish above .500, they would need to finish the season going 15-13 or better. As I said, I think it will be close, and I'll be rooting for them, but if I had to guess I'll say they come up a bit short. Maybe next year!

Sean (follow on Twitter): Below .500

I think Minnesota finishes under .500 this year. If they were in the Eastern Conference I would give them a better chance, but the Western Conference is too tough. The great news for Timberwolves fans is that Kevin Love is staying put, and he is one of the league's ten best players. I think we will see another Garnett/Nash combo with Love/Rubio, and the Timberwolves will be dangerous in years to come. They just don't have the pieces on this team now surrounding them unfortunately.

Kevin (follow on Twitter): Above .500

Not only have the T'Wolves not finished above .500 since the 2004-05 season, but they have won less than 30 percent of their games for the past four seasons in a row. Even though the T'Wolves have played only 38 games so far this season, they have already exceeded their win totals from last year (17) and the year before (15). Whether or not they finish above .500, they have finally given their fans a product worth supporting. Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio are a talented young combination and they are a deep team -- only three players are averaging more than 25 minutes per game. While I think they will be close to .500 either way, I'm going to say they go slightly over.

Dan (follow on Twitter): Above .500

The Timberwolves have finally found at least a medium of respectability this year. After many head-shaking moves by GM Khan, such as giving Darko too much money, and drafting two point guards back-to-back a few years ago, the Wolves are on the right track. Ricky Rubio has been as good as advertised, and Kevin Love is drawing Moses Malone-like comparisons for his ability to rip double-doubles. With their youth, Minnesota is poised to finish above .500.

To see where all 30 teams fall in our power rankings going through Week 10, click here.

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Deron Williams scores career-high 57 vs. Bobcats

The Nets are bad (although they aren't Bobcats' bad).

Today New Jersey's Deron Williams lit the Bobcats up, dropping a career-high 57 points including 40 of them in the second half. His previous career high was 42 points.

In addition, Williams broke the Nets' franchise record of 52 points.

Williams, who made all 21 of his free throws, was 16 of 29 from the field and 4 of 11 from three-point range. It was the first time in eight games that Williams shot over 50 percent from the field and he had scored only 12 points in each of his past two games.

It was only the second 50-point performance this season. Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant scored 51 against the Nuggets on February 19th.

Rajon Rondo gets 4th triple-double of season

It's becoming something of a habit for him.

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who has been the subject of trade rumors, had a triple-double in today's win over the Knicks.

Although the game went to overtime, Rondo had a triple-double in regulation and he finished the game with 18 points, 17 rebounds and 20 assists. Rondo did not have a great shooting game (seven-of-20 shooting), but he set season highs in both rebounds and assists.

There have been a total of 10 triple-doubles this season and Rondo has four of them. (No other player has more than one.)

Rondo now has two triple-doubles in his his past three games and three of them in his past eight games.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Russell Westbrook (ankle) is a game-time decision tonight

Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks said that point guard Russell Westbrook will be a game-time decision tonight against the Hawks, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman.

Westbrook, who is dealing with a sprained ankle, had 29 points, 10 assists and only two turnovers in the Thunder's win over the Magic on March 1st.

Although he has now had back-to-back double-doubles, Westbrook has only four of them all season. He has two double-doubles with points and assists and two of them with points and rebounds.

On the season, Westbrook is averaging a career-high 23.6 points along with 5.0 rebounds, 5.6 assists and a career-worst 4.2 turnovers per game. In each of the previous two seasons, Westbrook averaged at least eight assists per game and less than four turnovers per game.