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January 4, 2010, 12:34 PM ET
Weekend in Hoops: Chandler Parsons for National POY

by John Gasaway

Florida junior Chandler Parsons made a strong case for National Player of the 2010 Calendar Year honors yesterday with his spectacular game-winning swish from beyond half-court, a buzzer-beater that gave the Gators a 62-61 win in OT at North Carolina State. You can talk all you want about your “John Wall“s and “Luke Harangody“s. My guy is now shooting 100 percent from beyond half-court–not bad for a player shooting just 67 percent from 15 feet!

If you thought you were experiencing some serious deja vu when you first saw the video of Parsons’ miracle, you’re right. Check out this clip of Missouri’s Marcus Denmon making a shot from virtually the exact same spot on the floor to end the first half of what eventually became the Tigers’ upset win over Memphis in the Sweet 16 last March.

In addition to giving Parsons a durable YouTube presence for the rest of his life, his shot may actually have tournament implications come March. Keep in mind that for the third consecutive post-national-championship season, Florida is yet again on a bubble trajectory. Billy Donovan’s team appears unlikely to be bad enough this year to miss the tournament by a mile, nor do they appear good enough to be a shoo-in. NC State, conversely, looks in very early January to be the second-worst team in the ACC. (We see you, Boston Collegecongrats, Maine.) Considering the Gators already have a home loss to South Alabama on their resume, a road loss to the Wolfpack would not have burnished their tourney credentials nine weeks from now. Parsons’ heroics saved them from such a fate.

BONUS Parsonian general theory of action! I’m seeing some pretty absurd estimates of the length of this shot, up to and including “75 feet.” Someone at the RBC Center could do us all a favor today simply by walking out onto the court with a tape measure, but from my chair Parsons left his feet very close to the coaching box’s hash mark on the far sideline. (Look at the still image that appears at the beginning of this clip.) Happily we know exactly where that hash mark is on the floor: 66 feet from Florida’s baseline. Shave a few feet off that number because Parsons was shooting at the basket and not the baseline. Add a few feet because he wasn’t shooting straight-on. This shot was 60-something feet, remarkable by any measure.   

File under “never saw that coming”: Kentucky-Louisville fails to live up to Tiger-level hype
Every college basketball writer in the western hemisphere (244 of them, to be exact) was in Rupp Arena on Saturday to watch Kentucky beat Louisville 71-62. Why the horde? Partly because these are two highly venerable programs. Then again so are UK and Indiana and that game wasn’t given Gosselin-level coverage. No, I think the larger factor here was the fact that Rick Pitino had a highly eventful offseason off the floor, while John Calipari had another Final Four appearance vacated.

Like coaches, college basketball writers stick around year after year. Interests form. Storylines emerge. That being said, players change. This is no longer ”Louisville”-variety Louisville we’re looking at. The fact that the Wildcats struggled to put them away in Lexington suggests to me anew that this is indeed the least scary undefeated team in the country. (And on a weekend when Texas beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi by all of six points in Austin, that’s saying something. Kansas and Purdue, conversely, looked dang spiffy winning on the road at Temple and at home against West Virginia, respectively.)

I was going to be very interested to watch Kentucky battle Tennessee for SEC East supremacy this season, but on Friday the Volunteers’ season was thrown into disarray with the arrests of Tyler Smith, Cameron Tatum, Brian Williams, and Melvin Goins in Knoxville. The players were stopped for speeding, whereupon police discovered marijuana and two guns in the car. All four have been suspended until further notice.

Bringing this back to Kentucky: While I may suspect the Wildcats’ record is better than their actual performance, I’m not seeing a lot of UK opponents looming in the near-term who are going to confirm that suspicion. In fact I can picture Calipari’s team reaching mid-February without a loss. Go figure.

The Trojans should now read up on 2005-06 Ohio State
Yesterday USC announced that it has imposed sanctions on its men’s basketball team for violations related to the recruitment of O.J. Mayo prior to the 2007-08 season. The Trojans will not be eligible for the NCAA tournament this year, nor will they participate in the Pac-10 tournament. We know in advance that SC will play its final game, strangely, on March 6 on the road at Arizona

That’s tough news for the current players, of course, who are now trapped in the dreaded “playing for pride” lockbox. (Note to bored undergrads: Someone needs to build a bot that counts the references to “playing for pride” in SC writeups over the next 62 days.) But programs can recover from this sort of thing faster than you may think. For proof look no further than Ohio State.

The Buckeyes’ recent history is now somewhat mis-remembered. People know of course that former coach Jim O’Brien left abruptly in 2004 amidst a messy recruiting scandal involving cash (wow, talk about deja vu). Then Thad Matta arrived and promptly constructed a pipeline for players on their way to what is known as the next level. Nowadays even when Ohio State goes to the NIT they bring a flock of NBA scouts with them.

All true enough. Arguably the most remarkable aspect of the Buckeyes’ immediate resurgence, however, was that this team won the Big Ten outright in 2006 before the talent infusion, with players that had played “for pride” the previous year. Matta has won a lot of games in Columbus the past few years with players about to shake hands with David Stern, but that first season the erstwhile Cornjerker got it done with the likes of Terence Dials, Je’Kel Foster, and Jamar Butler. Trojans take note and set your sights high. 

What’s gotten into Oregon?
Of all the road trips in the Pac-10 the Washington-Washington State swing is probably the most feared, in large part because of simple geography. Pullman and Seattle are 287 miles apart, meaning this is the only Pac-10 road trip that requires either a two-airport hassle or a really long bus ride between road games. (With 112 miles of intervening cacti, Arizona and Arizona State come in a distant second in terms of travel demands placed on visiting conference teams.)

And yet look at Oregon, sitting at 2-0 in the conference after successfully completing said oh-so-scary road trip. Coming off a 90-79 win in Seattle against what at the time was the Pac-10’s only ranked team, we have to entertain the possibility that after a one-season hiccup Ernie Kent has the Ducks back in familiar territory: Great offense, no D. Certainly the numbers on the (very) young conference season would seem to bear that out: Oregon scored 1.18 points per trip on their swing north of the Columbia. Stay tuned.

BONUS look-ahead!
Conference-only tempo-free stats are coming! Sooner than you think! Hint: Hats off to the laudably front-loaded schedule-makers of the Missouri Valley Conference. Did you know the Valley’s season is already 17 percent complete? True story. Tomorrow in Unfiltered we’ll take a look at what we already know.

Unfiltered-back!
Don’t just mutter ineffectually; email me!

Many quality emails in the queue, a couple so good I’m going to try to get around to parlaying them into features. Keep ‘em coming! (Even if I don’t post them here!)     

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