Inside College Hoops

Teams of the Week: Jan. 7-13

Devontae Shuler and the Ole Miss Rebels had a statement week.

Devontae Shuler and the Ole Miss Rebels had a statement week.

Teams of the Week

Ole Miss -
Many of us thought that this week would really show us how good the Kermit Davis led Rebels really are. Well, the Rebels sure showed us! On Tuesday night, Senior Terence Davis put on a dazzling performance - 27 Points, 12 Reb’s, and led the Rebels to a big win over Auburn 82-67 in front of a sellout crowd. That set the stage for Saturday’s rivalry game in Starkville against Mississippi State. The stage felt even bigger nationally, with Basketball’s version of the Egg Bowl being broadcast on CBS. I live in California, and I can tell you it is very rare to see either school on network TV on a Saturday afternoon. The Rebels seized the moment. This time it was Freshman Blake Hinson’s time to shine. He stepped up with five three pointers and finished with 26. The leadership of Breein Tyree also stood out, as he knocked down key free throws and led the Rebels emotionally. Rebels won 81-77 and are now 3-0 in the SEC with two road conference wins.

Wofford - The Terriers had to have felt somewhat disrespected prior to their visit to Greensboro on Thursday night. A lot of the talk was about how tough the Spartans were and how they were defending champions, and a lot of people picking the Spartans this year to repeat as SoCon champs. This years’ SoCon is even more loaded, and Wofford is leading the charge. They made a huge statement by punishing UNC Greensboro in their backyard and later completing the road sweep at VMI. Wofford outrebounded UNCG 41-24 and held the Spartans to 21% 3 point shooting (4-19).. The game was over early on for all intents and purposes. The Terriers have clearly established themselves as the team to beat for now in the SoCon. But teams like ETSU and Furman will also have a say, what a league!

Maryland - I hope you bought stock in the Terps after their home loss to Seton Hall back on December 22nd. Since then Maryland has really come together. This past week, I believe the Terps turned a corner. Winning at Minnesota was a big win. To date, Maryland is the only team to win there. This greatly helped Maryland’s resume and position in the Big 10 of course. Beating the Gophers by 15 (82-67) was a big statement. In the second game of the week against Indiana, Bruno Fernando had a heck of a night. Shooting 11-12 from the Field and finishing with 25 points. Fernando has been sensational all season long, plus the Terps are getting consistent contributions from Anthony Cowan, Eric Ayala, and Jalen Smith. Ayala and Smith are both Frosh who start. Dangerous club right now.

Eastern Michigan - It’s been a wild ride this season in Ypsilanti. The Eagles were picked to win the West Division of the MAC and be the biggest threat to Buffalo in the league. So what happened? Well, the Eagles took a bunch of lumps in the non-conference season including losses to Detroit, Rutgers, UC Irvine and others. EMU couldn’t seem to get anything going. So when the Eagles travelled to Muncie, Indiana on Tuesday night to face a strong contender in Ball State, most overlooked them. Well the Eagles showed life and put a heck of a game together, defeating the Cardinals 84-82 in a Double OT thriller. On Saturday, the Eagles hosted another MAC contender, Kent State. EMU got off to a huge start thanks ot hot shooting from deep (12-19 for the game) and it was never even close. Eagles win 95-61. EMU has now put themselves back into the discussion for teams that can steal the MAC bid, great week Eagles.

South Carolina - It’s incredibly rare to see two teams from the same conference selected to the Teams of the Week Top 5. But in this case, Frank Martin’s club has earned the recognition. The momentum started rolling after they escaped Gainesville two Saturday’s ago with a wild win. That led us to Tuesday night, when heavily favored Mississippi State arrived in Columbia. The Gamecocks came out ready to fight, and this was a great game to watch. The Gamecock offense ran through 6-11 big man Malik Kostar, they repeatedly fed him. Kostar finished with 25 points on 18 shots and the Cocks survived in OT with a big win. Then over the weekend, a winter storm postponed the Missouri game from Saturday to Sunday. When the teams finally got on the court, Coach Martin’s club picked up right where they left off. Fighting, scratching, clawing for every loose ball plus playing tough defense and taking smart shots. The Gamecocks would prevail 85-75. Offensively, it was a much more balanced attack than the Mississippi St. game. Five players finished in double figures. Hats off to Coach Martin for keeping this team together and for mixing his game strategies from game to game so effectively.

Strongly Considered

Temple - First team to beat Houston and survived a scare in OT against USF, heck of a week.
UT Arlington - Road sweep over Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State during a major rebuild season under first year Head Coach Chris Ogden.
Marquette - Miraculous win at Creighton (YouTube it) and solid home win over Seton Hall.
Davidson - Won on the road against a hot George Mason club, and made a big second half comeback to knock off VCU in a key game.
Washington - Big time road sweep at Utah and at Colorado. First Road sweep for this UW program in six years. Also the difficulty of playing two games in three days at high altitude. Well done Dawgs.

Honorable Mention
Oklahoma State
(Beat West Virginia on the road and Texas at home), Iowa (Nice road win at Northwestern and home win over Ohio State), Texas Tech (big wins over Oklahoma and at Texas), Prairie View A&M (Big upset win over Texas Southern and road win at Alcorn St.), Villanova (Tough win at Creigton and home win over St. John’s) Valparaiso (won at Southern Illinois and took care of Bradley at home), Oregon State (Rare Home sweep of L.A. schools, Beavers are getting hot) Rider (Took full control of MAAC with road wins at Canisius and Niagara), Dartmouth (wins conference opener over Harvard in a big way), Missouri State (wins at Indiana St and At Bradley), North Alabama (Swept FGCU and NJIT, big wins for 1st year in D1 squad), UTSA (won key game over North Texas and took care of Rice), DePaul (Won at St. John’s without Ponds in only game), LSU (nice win at Arkansas and vs. Bama), UNLV (Tough win at the Pit over UNM), Central Connecticut State (two road wins in league over FDU and MSM), Arizona (Bay Area Road Sweep over Stanford and Cal), Eastern Washington (knocked off Big Sky favorites Montana in only game), Princeton (another win over Penn, this one on the road), Hampton (won first two games as Big South member over Charleston So. and UNCA)


  • Markus Howard of Marquette scored 79 points in two victories during the week. Many will remember his 53 point game to rally over Creighton in an epic collapse by the Blue Jays. Howard will be in line for a lot of postseason notoriety this coming April.

  • Matt Morgan of Cornell had a performance to remember in the Big Red’s 86-74 win at Towson. Morgan connected on nine three pointers and finished with 38 points. Morgan has a reputation for shooting the rock, but this shattered his previous career high of six three pointers in a game.

  • The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns have had their ups and downs this year. This week was no different. They fell short at Georgia State, but bounced back with a nice win at Georgia Southern. Do not blame the ups and downs on 6-8, 215 star senior Jakeenan Grant. He has been sensational. Grant had 36 points, 11 rebounds on Thursday, and followed that up with 22 points, 12 rebounds in Saturday’s victory.

Teams of the Week and More - Happy New Year!


For those of you who have followed for a long time, you are probably familiar with my Teams of the Week tweets coming on Sunday Nights or Monday Mornings. This year for Conference play, I’d like to shed a little bit of light into how the teams are chosen and write a quick snip it for the teams awarded and add a few nuggets where I see fit.

Teams of the Week

New Mexico -
The Lobos must’ve been relieved to end a rugged non-conference slate. A Non-conference schedule that included two losses to arch rival New Mexico State, three more losses at the Pit against CU, North Texas, and Penn, plus a blowout loss against Saint Mary’s. But the turn of the calendar and a clean 0-0 MWC record, gave the Lobos a fresh start. On Wednesday, they went to Colorado Springs and took care of business against Air Force, 65-58. Setting the stage for the matchup with 14-0 Nevada in the Pit. I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted what happened next. The Lobos demolished Nevada from the opening tip, and cruised to a 85-58 victory. Anthony Mathis continues to put up a lot of points, scoring 27 in the win. And KU transfer Carlaton Bragg, who is slowly increasing his MPG’s, picked up 12 rebounds. This Lobo team mainly plays seven players, and only one (Mathis) is shorter than 6-7. Could give a lot of teams fits in the MWC this year.

Jacksonville State - The Gamecocks came into the season looking like a contender in the OVC. Many had them in the Top 3 in preseason polls plus they routed Alabama in an Exhibition Game. Then the games started counting and the 0-3 start was disappointing. The Gamecocks finished non-league play at 8-5 but without a significant win. That all changed on Thursday night in Nashville. The Gamecocks went into Belmont and stunned the favored Bruins 83-73. The key was only committing 8 turnovers and controlling the rebounding edge 47-32. Jacksonville State then continued their road trip with a 69-62 win at Tennessee State. Quite an impressive road sweep and early control in the OVC conference race belongs to tthe Gamecocks.

Iowa State - January 5th was circled on the Cyclone calendar since last summer. Every season when KU visits it is the biggest game of the year at Hilton Coliseum. But before that, the Cyclones were dealt with an always difficult road test in Stillwater. The finally healthy Cyclones were able to grab an important road win while Coach Prohm ironed out some different lineup combinations. Then it was time for the big matchup, KU. Cyclones would soon find out that the Jayhawks would not have key big Udoka Azubuike for this game, not sure it would have mattered. After a seesaw first half, the Cyclones dominated KU thuroughly in the second half and cruised to a 77-60 win. This establishes ISU as an early contender in the Big XII race.

St. John’s - The Red Storm, led by Shamorie Ponds and Mustapha Heron have had a fun start to the season. The biggest issue has been the schedule, leaving most of us wondering - how good are they really? Well, Big East play is here now and the Johnnies just had a marvelous week. An 89-69 win over a very good Marquette team and an OT thrilling win at Georgetown on Saturday were big for this team. Johnnies now head to Villanova tonight. Looking more and more like a tournament team.

Michigan State - I typically like to reserve this space for underdogs or lesser known teams, but this week the Spartans earned the honors. A gutsy win at Ohio State where the Spartans had to rally and a blowout win over Northwestern earlier in the week were enough to elevate the Spartans in seed projections and get to a perfect 4-0 in a loaded Big Ten. Well done Sparty.

Strongly Considered

Purdue Fort Wayne - Huge win over South Dakota State by 16 in only game of the week. Now 3-0 in Summit League play.
Minnesota - Road win at Wisconsin in only game this week, but it was so big for the resume that they almost made the cut.
South Carolina - Stunning upset win at Florida with one second to go on a homerun pass with 1 second left in only game of the week.
Texas - Longhorrns had a fantastic week. Winning at Kansas State and vs. West Virginia. Good to beat up on those teams while they are down.
Georgia State - Big time road sweep over Texas State and UT Arlington. Texas State was looking to establish themselves as the team to beat in the Sun Belt. Ron Hunter’s club wouldn’t let it happen.

Honorable Mention
Oregon State
(Beat Oregon on the road), Rice (Surprisingly beat LA Tech and Southern Miss at home), Alabama (Big Home win over Kentucky), Texas Tech (Beat WV on road, KSU at home), George Mason (blowout wins at Saint Joe’s and vs. Bonnies), Navy (Surprising wins over Holy Cross and Colgate), Ball State (Big Road win at Toledo), Virginia (won showdown over FSU, and beat Marshall), La Salle (wins conference opener at UMass).


  • Oral Roberts Frosh, Kevin Obanor, is starting to play a more significant role. He has helped the Eagles to a surprising 3-0 start in Summit League play. Obanor is coming off the bench still, but averaging 20.3 PPG in the three contests despite averaging just 24 MPG. A player to keep your eye on.

  • A bizarre week for both UTSA and UTEP, who were tasked with facing each other twice in a three day window. Round 1 was in San Antonio on Thursday, then Round 2 in El Paso on Saturday. The Roadrunners pulled off a sweep of both contests (75-60, 67-63 respectively) and are now 2-0 in CUSA play.

Game Coverage - Rider at Drake


Pregame Notes:
Game Notes (Rider): The Broncs are logging tons of airline miles: Rider beat Robert Morris on Sat. Traveled 2.626 miles for a Monday night loss to Wazzu. Then traveled 1,548 miles here to Des Moines for today's game. Next? 1,415 miles to Las Vegas for 2 games this wknd. Rough.

Game Notes (Drake): The Bulldogs only returned two letterwinners from last season, tied for fewest in the nation with Chattanooga. New Head Coach Darian Devries did an amazing job building a roster in no time, Nick Norton (UAB transfer) and true frosh D.J. Wilkins have been key.

Game Action:
Quick steal to start the game by Nick Norton and pull up three is a brick. Tyere Marshall (Rider) takes the ball the length of the court and scores. After another miss by Drake, Marshall scores again for the Broncs. Kimar Williams for the Bulldogs answers with a three. Then Marshall answers again with a juimper this time. Nick Norton hits a pretty three right in front of me. Rider’s Anthony Durham hits consecutive buckets.
1st Media Timeout: Rider 10, Drake 5

Stevie Jordan keeps things rolling for Rider with a jumper. Nice drive and dish by Drake Frosh Garrett Sturtz to fellow Frosh D.J. Wilkins for three. Drake gets the ball back and tries an alley oop to Tremell Murphy and he is fouled hard by Rider’s Jordan Allen. On the in-bounds, Sturtz makes the Broncs pay with a three ball. Drake right back in it.
2nd Media Timeout: Rider 13, Drake 11

Great ball movement by Drake to get the ball to Nick McGlynn who gets a two hand slam and is fouled. McGlynn completes the three point play. Marshall makes another basket for Rider, he is playing great early and has 10 already. Rider’s Ajeri Ogemuno-Joohnson makes a splash off the bench with a physical put back lay in after getting his own rebound.
3rd Media Timeout: Rider 22, Drake 18

Marshall again makes a jumper, and Williams adds two more for Rider. Wilkins answers with a three ball, nice stroke. After a few misses on each side and a few fouls were back to a media timeout.
4th Media Timeout: Rider 26, Drake 24

When Drake scores I am noticing a common denominator: they move they ball very well. Just happened again as the Bulldogs worked the ball around to Anthony Murphy who was open for three and he buries it. Another solid Drake possession unfortunately leads to a McGlynn miss. Rider’s Marshall pushes the ball down court and finishes again, he has 14 now. After a Rider miss, Nick Norton pushes it and finishes with a layup. Rider doesnt get a good look and we head to Halftime.
Halftime: Drake 29, Rider 28.

McGlynn draws a foul inside to start the second half and connects on one of two. Marshall answers for Rider (been saying that all night already). Norton with a nice driving layup for Drake. Later, in transition, Norton hits an open Wilkins for three. Drake has their largest lead of the night at five. Rider turns it over. After a long possession, Wilkins hits another three to beat the shot clock. A miss by Rider, and a dunk by McGlynn. Timeout Rider, the lead is 10. Rider finally has a good trip down, Jordan Allen connects for two.
1st Media Timeout: Drake 40, Rider 32

Anthony Durham scores right after a bucket by Wilkins. Rider’s Jordan draws a foul and hits both, Drake’s lead is down to six. Dimencio Vaughn draws a foul and makes one free throw. Garrett Sturtz takes his man off the dribble and finshes for a pretty deuce. Marshall answers with another bucket for Rider, he now has 18. Wilkins draws a foul, he is an impressive player for a Freshman. Wilkins makes both free throws. Offensive foul called on Rider’s Frederick Scott. Rider leaves Drake’s Anthony Murphy open for three and he drills it. Wilkins misses a 10 footer, ends up getting the ball again after an offensive rebound and hits a three, he now has 17 points. Allen for Rider then connects on back to back three pointers and is feeling it.
2nd Media Timeout: Drake 52, Rider 48

McGlynn with a nifty hook shoot that rattles around and home for two. Vaughn draws a foul and makes both FT’s. Nick Norton with a nice move to fake his defender and finishes with a layup. Ogemuno-Johnson earns a trip to the line and makes both. Drake lead is at four. Sturtz knifes his way into the lane and finishes. Rider’s Williams called for a crucial travelling, crowd getting somewhat on him. Drake turns it right back over.
3rd Media Timeout: Drake 58, Rider 52

D.J. Wilkins with a big rejection from behind on Marshall. Then Nick Norton connects from deep for Drake. After a Rider turnover, McGlynn hits a three. Rider now trails by 14 and calls timeout. After the break Rider misses twice, and Murphy draws a foul on the other end. He hots one of two. Rider gets a rebound and find Vaughn open for a quick two underneath.
4th Media Timeout: Drake 67, Rider 54

The final sequence was full of some stall tactics by Drake and too many misses by Rider. And that’s gonna do it! here from Des Moines.
Final: Drake 76, Rider 58.

Drake goes to 8-2, great start for them. Rider will need to get their act together prior to MAAC play.

Game Coverage - St. Joe's at Princeton


The Saint Joseph’s Hawks come into tonight looking for their first true road win. They had a chance earlier this year when they fell short 87-85 against William & Mary. Today presents another winnable road opportunity, However the Hawks come in reeling, losing four out of five. For all intense of purposes, the Hawks At Large bid aspirations have diminished.

The Princeton Tigers come in with three straight wins including two road wins and 21-point win over George Washington last time out. Myles Stephens and Devin Cannady lead this Tiger club who has high hopes to make the Ivy League semifinals and reach the NCAA’s. Should be a fun one tonight.

1st Half Recap - Saint Joes came out firing and built up a seven point lead at one point. Princeton continued to fight back with solid play from Devin Cannady (13 Points) Richmond Aririguzoh contributed with 10 points, including 6-6 FT’s. Saint Joe’s got a nice half from Charlie Brown (10 Points, 5 Rebs) and Jared Bynum (9 Points) set the tone for the Hawks. The difference was the Hawks were getting better looks and the stats prove that. They shot 15-29 as a team.
Halftime: St. Joe’s 39, Princeton 36.

Hawks capitalize on a few Princeton miscues and have grown the lead to eight now. A beautiful stroke for three by Taylor Funk and a couple of clutch drives and finishes from Lamarr Kimble created some separation.
1st Media Timeout - St. Joe’s 53, Princeton 45

Taylor Funk connects on a pretty trey in the corner. He later adds a nce jumper from 15. Princeton picks up a big three pointer from Sebastian Much. Followed by a couple free throw makes by Jose Morales.
2nd Media Timeout - St. Joes 63, Princeton 50

Lamarr Kimble stretches the Hawks lead to 15 after a driving layup. Princeton’s Jerome Desrosiers comes back with a trey. After a Aririguzoh layup on one end for Princeton, St. Joe’s answers with a thunderous dunk from Chris Clover. Cannasy draws a foul and connects on one of two foul shots. Morales hits a driving layup.
3rd Media Timeout - St. Joes 67, Princeton 60

After a couple of misses, Jared Bynum connects from deep. Cannady answers with a three of his own. Funk responds for the Hawks with a jumper. Another triple from Desrosiers.
4th Media Timeout - St. Joes 80, Princeton 71

Desrosiers hits two more triples for the Tigers and the lead is down to six. After a couple fouls and coverted free throws for the Hawks the lead is back to ten. Then a big moment happens when Cannady picks up his 5th foul. He exits with 26 points and the Tigers now trailing by 12. Chris Clover delivers an exclamation point dunk.
Final Score - St. Joes 92, Princeton 82

2018 Battle 4 Atlantis Predictions

Another quality field is heading to the Bahamas tomorrow for the annual Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. A few of the favorites in this field still have a lot of mysteries about them. So how will it all play out?

8. Middle Tennessee – The Blue Raiders are in unfamiliar territory after Kermit Davis finally landed a Power five job that he long deserved at Ole Miss. Nick McDevitt takes over this year as a new up and coming Head Coach by way of UNC Asheville. Blue Raiders were picked in the bottom half of Conference USA coming into the season. But thus far, signs have been positive. They battled Belmont tough down the road at Belmont in their first significant test. It would not surprise me if the Blue Raiders could pull off a win while in this highly coveted event. However, percentage wise they are more than likely leaving with three losses. I’m really interested to see what type of progress this bunch makes together in the Bahamas.

7.  Oklahoma – The Sooners are also going through a significant change. This one is more personnel related, as Trae Young has moved to the NBA. Lon Kruger has been tasked with putting impressive veteran newcomers like Aaron Calixte and Miles Reynolds with veteran returnees Christian James and Rashard Odomes. Jamal Bieniemy is also in the mix, a Freshman who impressed Kruger in the summer. The early results have been promising. Sooners picked up road wins at UTRGV and at UTSA (no Jhivvan Jackson for the Roadrunners), and just beat Wofford on Sunday by 11. Only two days off between the Wofford win and facing the Gators with Bahamas travel plus events in between hurts their chances in the opener. Then I believe they will have a real even matchup against Stanford. Almost a true coin flip game there, I see them falling short. And finally Sooner fans will be able to rejoice after a win over MTSU for 7th place.

6. Dayton – The Flyers had a real shaky and uncharacteristic year last year in HC Anthony Grant’s first year with the Flyers, finishing 14-17. This is a team I was able to see in person last year and they return some pieces that I personally like. Josh Cunningham is a load down low, and many teams have a hard time matching up with him. Trey Landers, Jalen Crutcher, and Jordan Davis were three others that stood out last year. Having all four back together should equal a wins improvement this year. However, we have already seen some warning signs. In the final tune-up prior to Atlantis, the Flyers allowed Fort Wayne to hang around virtually the entire game and trialed at various junctures. Seems like there is still some experimenting going on. I liked what I saw out of Butler against Ole Miss and believe Dayton wont be able to keep up with the Bulldogs. On Day two, a matchup with Middle Tennessee will be a nice opportunity to restore order and build confidence. On the final day, I think they will again have a great shot at picking up a victory but ultimately believe they will lose close against…

5. Stanford – The Cardinal have three super sophomores in Daejon Davis, KJ Okpala, and Oscar DaSilva. But the hole left by Reid Travis transferring has them left with more question marks in the paint. This will be the second trip to the Eastern seaboard for Stanford as they have already picked up a win in Wilmington, NC against UNCW and took some lumps in a loss to UNC on the road. They made it all the way back to campus where unfortunately the air quality coming from the California fires made it unsuitable to play a basketball game against Wofford. So now they travel back east to the Bahamas, having not played since November 12th and over 6,000 miles traveled. They draw Wisconsin in the opener, which will be an obvious difficult matchup problem against 6-10 All American candidate Ethan Happ. After seeing Wisconsin dominate Xavier on the road, I don’t see Stanford challenging much in this one. The following two days do look better for the Cardinal. The game against Oklahoma will be intriguing. I slightly like Stanford’s continuity more than the Sooners at this early in the season. And that puts Stanford in perfect position to take 5th place with a third day victory over Dayton.

4. Butler – The always tough Bulldogs come to the Bahamas with a 3-0 record after escaping a scare at home against Ole Miss. Butler is led by Kamar Baldwin and the Bulldogs brought back a lot of experience with Paul Jorgensen, Sean McDermott, and Henry Baddley. I think they are capable of winning this tournament and also capable of being beat by nearly anyone in the field. So 4th place seems reasonable. I really think the opening matchup against Dayton serves the Bulldogs well to pencil them into the semifinals. And then they would play mighty Virginia, who looks amazing on paper, but is completely untested early on. So you never know. I’ll take Virginia for the simple reason that I haven’t seen enough to warrant an upset prediction. In the Bahamas finally I have the Bulldogs falling just short to…

3. Wisconsin – These Badgers, who are led by potential All-American big man Ethan Happ, have been impressive early on. Badgers were able to go into the Cintas Center last week and dominate Xavier. Something that is rarely seen in that building. With the limited action that we have to go off, you have to figure the sky is the limit for this club. Khalil Iversn, Brevin Pritzl, Aleem Ford, Nate Reuvers are the type of supporting cast weve grown accustomed to seeing out of Wisconsin over the past two decades. All besides Reuvers can shoot from downtown and helps keep defenses honest. I think Wisconsin has a distinct advantage over Stanford. Then will really be in a battle against Florida. That game could easily go either way. I am riding my lofty preseason Gator expectations and predicting a slim Badger loss. Badgers will head back to Wisconsin on a happy note after a quality win against Butler in the 3rd Place game.

2. Florida – I am being a little bit stubborn on Florida. I really thought they were underrated during the preseason. However, they were smacked by rivals Florida State on opening night. Will it just be the wakeup call they needed or is Florida not that good? The Battle 4 Atlantis should help clarify some of this. Last season the Gators beat Kentucky twice, but also lost at home to South Carolina, lost at Ole Miss, and had around five head scratching losses. And if this schizophrenic personality continues this season, then I give up trying to predict Gator games. This roster has some new blood however. Heralded frosh Andrew Nembhard is in to take over the point. He brings international experience after leading Team Canada over the summer. Nembhard is surrounded by veterans in the starting lineup. Gators drew Oklahoma in the opener, not a guaranteed win, but one that the Gators need to win. Beyond that, they will have a showdown with Wisconsin on Thanksgiving. Should be a great one. I feel like the Gators will come in a bit tired and got worn down in the Championship Game. But overall a successful trip resulting in a second-place finish.

1. Virginia – I will remain bullish on the Cavs being a great team this year until they prove me otherwise. With DeAndre Hunter back and the focal point in this offense, I really like the roster dynamics that coach Tony Bennett has orchestrated. Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome are clutch players as well. I really do not see Middle Tennessee being much of a challenge for the Hoo’s on Wednesday. That sets up an interesting matchup with Butler that I believe Virginia should win, but also think we will find out more about each team in that semifinal. That brings us to the final on Friday against Florida. Could be a real interesting one. I believe Virginia’s style of play will really help them navigate a three games in three days structure. And Florida could really fall to the Cavalier defensive pressure in the Championship game. Virginia wins three straight.


2018 Maui Invitational Predictions

The best tournament of the season is set to kickoff later today in Maui. Three of the top nine teams in KenPom (Duke, Gonzaga, Auburn) lead the field and we have no Chaminade for the first time ever. Here are my predictions from 8th Place through 1st…

8. Xavier – Tough to pick anyone in this field to finish in Eighth place, but I am going with Xavier. Travis Steele has seen his Musketeers struggle in each of their first three games and trending in the wrong direction heading into Maui. The Musketeers lost at home against Wisconsin handily back on 11/13 and Evansville (picked last in the MVC) gave them a scare. Xavier still has some solid players and were in my preseason bracket but have a lot to work on. Win or lose, hopefully we get to see Quentin Goodin put on a show this week.

7. Iowa State – Coming off a very unusual last place Big XII season, the Cyclones are poised to turn things around in 2018-19. They arrive in Maui with multiple big opportunities in front of them. Starting with a very winnable game against Arizona. Unfortunately for the Cyclones, they will likely be without Cameron Lard (6-9, 225. 12.2 PPG and 8.1 RPG avg. last year) and possibly Solomon Young (6-8, 245). Editor’s note: I am typing this oversees with no access to wi-fi to confirm injury status). Iowa State should only get stronger as the season goes on. In Maui, I see a happy ending with the Cyclones getting by Xavier in the 7th place game. However, I foresee a couple of tight losses precluding that games against both Arizona and…

6. Illinois – Brad Underwood has been building since day one in Champaign. In comes Ayo Dosunmu. A five-star in-state recruit that has the type of talent to help lead a complete turnaround this season. Dosunmu came in with back to back State Championships, playing for the Team USA U18 team this summer and winning gold, and has a reputation for being unselfish and a lockdown defender. Not exactly your typical blue chip. I mention this because this can serve as Dosunmu’s spotlight tournament with all the ESPN coverage this upcoming week. Illinois as a team however was exposed a bit at home against Georgetown and the high hopes have crashed down some. Georgetown has since gone to Jamaica and lost to LMU and barely survived against South Florida. So the Illini might not be ready for this. I don’t give them much of a chance against a loaded Gonzaga team in round 1. But I think the Illini come to play on day 2. The losers bracket games require a refreshed mentality, and I sense the Cyclones will be a little mentally fatigued after what figures to be a war against Arizona, giving Illinois an edge psychologically. On the final day, I see the Illini being slightly outclassed by…

5. San Diego State – The Aztecs come to Maui representing the Mountain West Conference. I say that not to state the obvious, but because how the Aztecs perform here will go a long way toward impacting the perception of the conference, specifically in Nevada’s case, who figures to have a successful year. With a couple of wins, the Aztecs show that they are likely worthy of early At Large consideration and can help the leagues aspirations for multiple bids. They open with Duke, which only helps strengthen their Non-Conference schedule, however I do not think the Aztecs have the weapons to hang with Duke. This should help them regroup and get ready for Xavier on the second day, and I like the Aztecs there. Finishing up with a 5th place win over Illinois should keep Aztec and MWC fans encouraged heading into December.

4. Arizona – How will Arizona hold up mentally with the ESPN cameras on them for three days? Only time will tell. Luckily there is a lot of basketball to squeeze in and that should allow Sean Miller’s club to focus on winning. I like what Brandon Williams and Brandon Randolph have shown in the early going. Arizona has yet face any kind of serious test, so that all changes now. Based on what I said about Iowa State and their injury issues, I think that leaves the door open for Arizona to pick up a big win on the first day. From there, the Cats run into Gonzaga and I see a lot of mismatches in that one on paper. That leaves Arizona to face another Final Four contender in Auburn, and I don’t picture that one going well for Arizona either. All in all, if this plays out, it’s a success. Beating Iowa State and taking losses to Gonzaga and Auburn – no shame in that. Plus, the team learns a lot about themselves in the process.

3. Auburn – Tigers looked very sharp in their three tune-up contests prior to heading to Maui. That included a win over nationally ranked Washington. A game in which Auburn thoroughly dominated from the opening tip.  Auburn opens against Xavier and it could get interesting should the Tigers get into foul trouble or not take care of the ball. Based on what we have seen thus far, I do not anticipate Auburn struggling in that game and should comfortably get into the Semifinals for a showdown with Duke. Auburn has the athleticism to hang with Duke I believe. They will not out-athlete them, but certainly can hold their own. Ultimately, they fall short, I think Duke is equipped for the spotlight this season. Auburn will be happy to see Arizona in the 3rd Place game. Auburn finishes strong and lands in 3rd.

2. Gonzaga – Talk about Final Four contenders, these next two teams were picked by several of my peers to compete in the Final Four. Which would setup for an epic Maui Invitational Championship Game. Seems to happen annually right? This is the first Maui Invitational without Chaminade in the main bracket, and while that bothers me, it allows for a field even more loaded than before. I think the Zags come out and play very well in wins over Illinois and Arizona. Should allow them to be very fresh for Duke in the Title game. At some point, missing Killian Tillie is going to impact the Zags and I think that moment happens against Duke. Filip Petrusev has looked good in his absence to support the frontcourt, but this will be a different type of test and the Zags will fall just short.

1. Duke – The Blue Devils have already created quite a buzz with their blowout victory over Kentucky on opening night in Indianapolis. Since then they slept walked to a 20+ point win over Army and destroyed a MAC contender in Eastern Michigan. Now with the super quartet of Freshmen: RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, Ty Jones, and Cam Reddish – Coach K’s crew invades Maui on a mission. The talent on Duke’s team is the richest in the nation. The personalities of the players seem to fit the spotlight. Although we are still early on, I am starting to get the feeling that the way they will get beat is by beating themselves, or lack of focus. I do not see that happening this week. I think Duke beats SDSU comfortably, then beats Auburn and Gonzaga in closer matchups with Duke controlling both games.


2018 Myrtle Beach Invitational Predictions

This season’s other opening eight team bracketed event is the innagural Myrtle Beach Invitational. Based on what we know about each team thus far, this is how I see the tournament playing out.

8. Monmouth – Unfortunately, this years’ Hawks team has fallen off a ways from the competitive teams under King Rice in past years. They come to the Beach with an 0-3 record, all losses by double digits against Lehigh, Colgate, and St. Joe’s. This appears to be a rebuild and learning year for the Hawks. It would be great to see them pull off an upset here but there is no way I am predicting that. More learning experiences this week for Monmouth and hopefully they squeeze in some beach time, it’s a long season.

7. Wake Forest – The Deacs have only played once this year, so this one was pretty tough to gage. But they play three Frosh and two Soph’s fairly heavily. Junior Bandon Childress had a nice opener with 18, 6 Assists, 4 Rebounds. The bench appears to be pretty thin, which can really hurt you in this quick turnaround type of format. Wake has St. Joe’s in the opener and that should be a real tight game, I slightly favor the Hawks in that one, then I have the Deacs getting caught off guard on Day 2 against a veteran team from California (will discuss soon). Finally Wake fans can have a reason to celebrate when they take care of Monmouth in the 7th place game.

6. Cal State Fullerton – Senior Kyle Allman is probably the best player in the Big West, in fact he is the best player in the Big West. Don’t believe me? Call one of your friends at Arizona State and ask them about Mr. Allman. All he did was carry the Titans with 35 points and 7 rebounds, in a crushing double overtime loss on opening night. Fellow senior Khalil Ahmad poured in 31 points. Fullerton does a nice job of mixing small lineups and big lineups. Could be a factor keeping them fresh this week. The Titans drew UCF in round one, which will be pretty interesting. I’m going with UCF in that one because they have to be upset after giving a game away to FAU. More on them later. Then I see CSUF coming out more focused than Wake Forest and hanging on to beat them. On Day three I see them falling short against…

5. Valparaiso – The more and more I dissected this Crusader roster, the more I like what I see. We don’t know much about on the court yet as Valpo has not faced a D1 team. But they brought in veteran Ryan Fazekas from Providence, solid Frosh Javon Freeman-Liberty, another vet Deion Lavender from UAB and SIU, and Bakari Evelyn is now a fourth year junior. I think this should be a much improved season for Valpo. Really interesting draw against WKU who has solid vets as well plus a young phenom. I’ll go with WKU in the opener, but I see Valpo easily taking care of Monmouth and finishing on a two game win streak with a nice win over Fullerton in the 5th place game.

4. Western Kentucky – Here is a team I had in my First Four as part of the preseason bracket exercise I went through. Tons of talent, solid leadership from Jared Savage and DeSean Murray give the Hilltoppers a shot at a special season. They will be a dangerous matchup for anyone in Myrtle Beach. After getting past Valpo, I do not believe they will have enough firepower to beat a hungry West Virginia squad. In the 3rd place game, it should be another battle but I again have them falling short due to seasonality of this roster. But fully expect WKU to pick up a big win or two in December, the opportunities are there.

3. Saint Joseph’s – The Hawks arrive in Myrtle Beach feeling fantastic. They already have a couple of 15 point wins over ODU and Monmouth. Lamarr Kimble and Charlie Brown have looked real good early. Pierfrancesco Oliva is a stat sheet stuffing 6th man. This Hawks team has some nice pieces and I am anxious to see how they fare this week. They drew Wake Forest and I like the Hawks in that one. The game against UCF could really go either way, I like the UCF roster a tad bit better, but I am higher on Phil Martelli coaching vs. Johnny Dawkins. In any event, I have to make a pick, so I have the Hawks here and ending with a really nice high note by beating WKU. The A10 really needs it.

2. UCF – The Golden Knights have the roster to win this tournament. However they have always struggles to realize potential it seems like, and that showed up again last week when they gave away a large lead before losing to Florida Atlantic. Back to the drawing board for the Knights and not an easy draw at all against CS Fullerton. I think the Knights will have just enough to squeeze two tight wins over CSF and St. Joe’s before running into…

1. West Virginia – Sagaba Konate, Esa Ahmad, Lamont West, James Bolden and more. The Mountaineers are again armed with firepower. They will need to take care of the basketball. Blowing the big lead and losing to Buffalo only happened because they got overwhelmed by traps and presses. Something that you would think they have a lot of practice with. Mountaineers get to open with Monmouth and I suspect that will restore their confidence prior to the WKU game, which is dangerous. Ultimately I believe they get that win and jump on a tired UCF team in the Championship game.


2018 Charleston Classic Predictions

It’s prediction time again! This season’s first eight team bracketed event is the Charleston Classic. Based on what we know about each team thus far, this is how I see the tournament playing out.

8. Appalachian State - The Mountaineers have to be coming into Charleston feeling somewhat confident after hanging tough with Alabama last Sunday. Isaac Johnson, Justin Forrest, and Ronshad Shabazz took every shot attempt except for six in that game. So not exactly deep scoring for Appalachian State. I see them being competitive at the Classic, but unfortunately returning back to Boone with no wins to show for it.

7. Ball State - This pick kills me a little bit inside. I really enjoy watching this Cardinals team. You don't find more entertaining players in the MAC than Tayler Persons. Trey Moses has a smooth touch and great high post game. Kyle Mallers, KJ Walton, and Tahjai Teague are solid contributors, and the Cards go nine deep, which is usually a plus in this type of format. A tough draw though leaves them just falling short against V-Tech and Alabama.

6. Alabama - The Tide were one of my at large picks in my preseason bracket. A lot to like on paper for Avery Johnson's roster. However things have not clicked in the early going. The Tide were rolled by Jacksonville State in a charity exhibition game, they struggled most of the game on Sunday vs. App State. By the end of the year, I think they will be much stronger. Now though is a different story, they face an experienced Northeastern team that matches up well against Alabama. After that I see the Tide beating Ball State on day two. And taking a tough loss on the final day against…

5. Davidson - Many people picked the Wildcats to win the A10 this season, and with the rocky start the A10 is off to they could definitely be in line for that opportunity. But the Wildcats have a few kinks to work out. They really had a hard time against Dartmouth, barely winning by three in their last game. They draw Wichita State in the opener, which should be a very tight game.  I am leaning toward Wichita to be able to defend the three point attack well enough to win that game. From there I believe Davidson should win comfortably against Appalachian State, and end on a very nice high note by defeating Alabama.

4. Wichita State - Coach Marshall has a much different roster this year. Markus McDuffie plus a lot of newcomers. The Shockers had a rough home loss in the season opener against Louisiana Tech, but bounced back nicely by beating Providence on a neutral court. Samajae Haynes-Jones (a reserve PG last season) really stepped up with 15 points and 8 dimes against Providence, the need him to continue to play at a high level and provide a secondary threat behind McDuffie. I think Wichita will ride the momentum and win a tight one over Davidson. I then believe Purdue will be too much for them to overcome, and ultimately they finish fourth after losing a war against…

3. Northeastern - The Huskies were red hot last Friday at Harvard, hitting 13 of 23 from three point land which included 7 out of 10 from Jordan Roland off the bench. Northeastern came into the season as the favorites to win the CAA. They will be making three separate visits to Charleston this season. The Charleston Classic, the road game against Charleston, and the CAA Conference Tourney. Head Coach Bill Coen must love it down there, I don't blame him. I believe Northeastern finds a way to get two victories this week. Beating Bama in the opener, and ending with a tight win over Wichita St.

2. Virginia Tech - I was very high on this team until the Chris Clarke news came out. Even still this is a very talented squad especially compared to the competition in Charleston. Nickeil Alexander-Walker is an All-ACC level talent as a Sophomore. Isaiah Wilkins played fantastic in his debut as a true Frosh, scoring 21. And you add the three seniors (Ahmed Hill, Justin Robinson, Ty Outlaw) and you still have a pretty loaded team. I think the Hokies will get a stiff test from Ball State, but find a way to get past the Cardinals. They will be somewhat surprised to see Northeastern in Round 2 and take care of business, before losing in the Championship Game to…

1. Purdue - The Boilermakers have the best player in this field in Carsen Edwards. Players of his caliber can really shine in a three day event. Purdue got a nice test from Ball State last week and I believe that got them mentally prepared to take on this test. The bracket sets up nicely for them as well. Facing Appalachian State in the opener and then the Wichita-Davidson winner. If they can win those two comfortably they should have an advantage of fresher legs in the Final. I believe that will give them just enough of an edge to outlast Virginia Tech and become 2018 Charleston Classic Champions.


Game Coverage - Toledo at Wright State

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Arrived here in the Greater Dayton area just in time for tip-off between the Toledo Rockets and hosts, Wright State’s Raiders. Toledo comes into the game with a 2-0 record (1-0 vs. D1) and Wright State is looking to recover after being beat by 19 at Murray State. With this game being played at the Nutter Center, I am expecting a tight ballgame.

Hot shooting on both ends to kickoff the game. Luke Knapke of Toledo has started with three treys already! Mark Hughes has 6 and Loudon Love has 4 in the early going.
1st Media Timeout - Wright St. 12, Toledo 12

Only two points during that sequence, naturally scored by Love. He is so impressive to watch in person and a load to handle down low. Really gives the Raiders an interesting dynamic should they advance back to the NCAA Tournament next season
2nd Media Timeout - Wright St. 14, Toledo 12

Yet another three ball drilled by Knapke. Raiders turn it over, and Jaelan Sanford finishes on the other end. Wright St.'s Billy Wampler draws a foul, makes one of two from the line. Pretty jumper is good from Marreon Jackson of Toledo. Wampler quickly answers with a three.
3rd Media Timeout - Wright St. 24, Toledo 23

TJ Smith gives the Rockets the lead back with a three pointer. Wampler of WSU nails another three on the other end.  After a series of missed shots, Chris Darrington of Toledo steps up and drills a three. I am sensing a theme here (both teams love shooting from deep!). The Raiders' Cole Gentry nails a three to put WSU up 4.
4th Media Timeout: Wright St. 30, Toledo 26

After Knapke made one of two from the line, Gentry came down and nailed another three. Sanford drew a foul, made both FT's. Gentry takes his defender off the dribble and finishes with a beautiful layup. WSU's Skylelar Potter sinks two free throws. Knapke answers with his fifth three of the half! Gentry answers with another three of his own.
Halftime - Wright St. 40, Toledo 32.

Transition layup by Willie Jackson after a Wright State turnover Wampler hits a jumper. Jackson responds with a triple this time. Wampler tries an offbalance heat check, but it rims off. Next time down, Wampler hits a two. Wampler now with 13. Jackson gets to the charity stripe and hits two. Parker Ernsthausen of WSU, draws a foul and makes both FT's. Offensive foul called on Sanford and that creates some pushing and both teams get a double technical foul (WSU - Mark Hughes, Toledo - Marreon Jackson). Potter hits a three that got the Raider bench off of their feet. Rockets turnover. Love with a nifty up and under. Raiders lead by 12, their largest.
1st Media Timeout - Wright St. 51, Toledo 39

Missed shots by Wampler and Sanford to open things in this segment. Gentry with a great driving floater. Sanford misses again, starting to get cold. Wright State wants a timeout after Ernsthausen has blood on his jersey. Darrington draws a foul, only hits one. Next possession for Toledo, Darrington drops in a layup. Gentry answers with a jumper. Teams trade a few missed shots.
2nd Media Timeout - Wright St. 55, Toledo 45

Knapke gets fouled, makes one of two. Gentry knifes through the lane for two more, he has 19 now. Darrington gets fouled shooting a three, and knocks down each free throw. Gentry fouled, makes both. Willie Jackson gets back to the line, hits both. Ten point lead for WSU. Wampler misses a wide open three. Toledo turns it over. Wampler finds an open Potter in the corner for three, and he buries it. Love with a rejection on Willie Jackson.
3rd Media Timeout - Wright St. 63, Toledo 50

Sanford hits a jumper and is fouled in the process, and he completes the three point play. Love backed down on Knapke, sweet turnaround hook is good. Missed threes by Nate Navigato and Spencer Littleton of Toledo.  Sanford with a strong drive, gets fouled, and makes both foul shots. Knapke hits his sixth three, and is 6-6 from downtown. Nice dish from Hughes to Potter. Potter at the line now, makes both. Ernsthausen has fouled out. Navigato cuts the lead to 8. WSU calls timeout. Out of the timeout, the Raiders work it around to Gentry, who hits a big three.
4th Media Timeout - Wright St. 72, Toledo 61

Missed three by Wampler. Toledo's Darrington misses as well. Both teams in the double bonus as Sandler picks up his second foul. Potter makes both. Under two minutes to go. Navigato shooting two, makes em both. Toledo within nine now. Hughes is fouled, makes one. If you like threes and free throws - tonight is your night. Gentry forced to call timeout, 1:27 to go. Wampler was left alone and Hughes found him for an easy layup. Sanford gets a quick layup and fouled. Toledo timeout. Hughes turns it over and Toledo uses another timeout with 1:01 to go and down by 9. Turnover by the Rockets and the foul fest is coming. Up first is Cole Gentry, makes both. Toledo misses, another foul sends Gentry to the line for two more. Gentry fouled again with a chance to hit 30 points, and he does. Naturally Gentry dribbles out the clock and the Raiders faithful are going home happy.

FINAL Wright St. 84, Toledo 74

Game Coverage - #25 Buffalo at SIU


We are set for tip-off here at SIU Arena. It is the first of two meetings between the #25 Buffalo Bulls and the Southern Illinois Salukis. Both teams have high postseason aspirations. Should be an outstanding game tonight!

Note: Armon Fletcher who was injured against Kentucky on Frday, did not dress tonight. Big loss for the Salukis.

Montrell McRae opens up the scoring with a wide open dunk. The teams traded baskets. Kavion Pippin had a sweet stroke, ruled a two. Buffalo’s Davonta Jordan answered with a trey. SIU came right back at the Bulls with a triple from Marcus Bartley. Thik Bol came in off the bench and contributed right away with a beautiful jumper himself. 1st Media Timeout - SIU 13, Buffalo 8

Sean Lloyd keeps things rolling with another Salukis three pointer. Eventually Buffalo would manage to get a couple of stops. CJ Massinburg calmed the storm with a layup and later in the sequence, Nick Perkins had a beautiful post up and layed it in. 2nd Media Timeout - SIU 16, Buffalo 12

Unfortunately notes not saved. 3rd Media Timeout - SIU 20, Buffalo 16.

Caruthers catches SIU sleeping and gets a quick layup. SIU’s McGill continues to play with two early fouls and connects from downtown, giving the Salukis a five point advantage. Perklins continues to be a matchup problem, drew a foul down low. Connected on both free throws. Aaron Cook is impressive. Cook slashed into the lane and dropped a floater in the basket over the outstretched arms of Perkins. Later in the sequence Cook manages to knife into the lane again and connects again. CJ Massinburg hits a corner three to silence the fans. SIU 27, Buffalo 23 - 4th Media Timeout.

Shot clock violation by SIU following an airball by Bartley. Bartley then commits a foul on McRae. McRae makes the first, misses the second - but Bulls get their own rebound and eventually Massinburg hits a pretty floater. Bulls only down by 1. Another stop for Buffalo, Jeenathan Williams takes it strong and is fouled. Williams hits both and Buffalo has its first lead tonight. Aaron Cook picks up his 2nd and Buffalo is in the double bonus for the final 28.6 seconds. Jeremy Harris hits a huge three with 4 seconds left in the half and the Bulls go on an 11-0 run to end the first half. Halftime Buffalo 31, SIU 27.

Pippin opens the 2nd Half scoring with a nice driving layup. Buffalo's Jeremy Harris with a smooth open dunk for the Bulls. Lloyd draws a foul, and makes one of two from the line. UB's Graves hits a silencing three ball. Cook and McGill are both playing with three fouls now. Crowd is vocally upset with the officials. 1st Media Timeout - Buffalo 38, SIU 32.

SIU's Darius Beane finds some open space along the baseline and hits a pretty 15-footer. UB reserve guard Ronaldo Segu answers with a nice driving shot. Bulls back up six. Pippin comes back and drills a nice jumper. But UB's Graves immediately hits a triple. Bulls get a stop, Massinburg jacks a one on one three which was way off, then the Salukis turn it back over. A bit sloppy now. 2nd Media TO Buffalo 43, SIU 36

Perkins commits a foul on Pippin, and Pippin connects on both - cuts the lead to five. Harris answers for the Bulls. Pippin responds with a baby hook in the paint. Jordan hits another big three in the corner. Buffalo has their largest lead at eight. Lloyd draws a foul on Massinburg, Lloyd hits one of two. Salukis left McRae open in the corner for three, and McRae makes them pay. 3rd Media TO Buffalo 51, SIU 41

Bartley fouls Williams and Williams makes both FTs. Pippin responds with a dunk. Incredible vision by Caruthers to hit Williams underneath for an easy deuce on a one handed almost no look pass. Bulls lead by 12. Starting to work the clock on each possession. Thik Bol misses a jumper and on the other end Massinburg serves up an alley-oop to McRae. Bulls by 14.   4th Media TO Buffalo 60, SIU 43

Buffalo finishes the job in the final four minutes. Mostly spending the time running the clock out and forcing more Saluki mistakes. The Bulls defense suffocated SIU for most of the final 30 minutes an impressive showing and anouther huge road win for Buffalo. FINAL Buffalo 62, SIU 53

Pac-12 Tournament Predictions

Early Round Exits:
- Colorado - 
The Buffs haven't won a game away from Boulder since January 13th. The matchup against the Sun Devils isnt bad at all and it should be a much less than electric atmosphere in Vegas on a Wednesday afternoon. Overall - Arizona State is just the better team despite recent struggles.
- Cal - It's been a long tough year for the Bears. They get a chance to knock off their arch nemesis in Round One, the Stanford Cardinal. Throw the records out the window! But in the end I think Stanford pulls away and allows Cal to go home and focus on building up for next season.
- Washington - As a Husky, this is painful and actually I am somewhat hedging my happiness too. The Huskies have been going 1-1 in most weeks lately and it's hard to know which team will show up. Meanwhile the Beavers have started to play better in the final two weeks. This should be a close one and since I have to make a pick here - I'll go with OSU.
- Washington State - This Cougar team actually beat Oregon last week, so you have to give them some chance to do it again. I think they will compete for a while. But the talent and coaching at Oregon outclasses WSU in this one. 

Gone in the Quarters:
- Arizona State - 
The Sun Devils have been a hot topic in Bracketology for the past month due to their drop off in play. Their resume still holds up barely against the bubble, and they have a shot to knock off U of A. But I know better than to pick against the Wildcats in this tournament.
- Stanford - I really want to pick Stanford, but I do not like their matchup against UCLA.  I was impressed with how UCLA wrapped up the year and I think Stanford will actually get a little test from Cal on Wednesday before this one.
- Oregon State - The Beavers didn't fare very well at all this year against USC. I think they are done in this round.
- Oregon - The Ducks/Utes matchup will be a really tight one I'm guessing. Two firey coaches getting their teams to play hard and fighting to get to win this whole tourney. In the end I'll go with David Collette to put this one away late.

Semifinal Send Offs: 
- Arizona - Surprise! If you read my comments about ASU, then I am clearly contradicting myself by sending the Wildcats home in this round. I think when you look at the UCLA/Zona matchup that the Bruins match up very well as evidenced by their eight point win in Tucson a couple of weeks ago. I think Aaron Holliday is coming to Vegas on a mission and going to carry the Briuins to the title game.
- Utah - It's a matchup thing here with the Trojans and Utes as well. When they met in Salt Lake City two weeks ago, the Utes had no answer for Chimezie Metu or Jordan Usher. The Trojans shot the ball very well but they were mostly two pointers. I think Utah will need a brand new gameplan this time around but now the Trojans are in their heads.

Championship Game:
- UCLA over USC - 
Yes, I am going with an unconventional all Los Angeles Final. It's just the way the bracket played out. Anyway I am on the Holliday bandwagon one more time as the Bruins secure their place into the NCAA Tournament. 


Atlantic 10 Tournament Predictions

Early Round Exits:
- UMass - 
The Minutemen have unbelievablly only won one game away from home all season, that was at Dayton over two months ago. They did knock off some good teams in Amherst, but I don't see them suddenly figuring it out and beating a La Salle team who they lost to by 15 a few weeks ago.
- Fordham - In the Rams last six games they did not come within single digits in any of them. Needless to say they finished in last for many reasons. Add in the fact that they have to play against GW in the Nation's Capital and you have a recipe for a quick trip.

Day 2 Exits:
- Dayton - The Flyers are a fantastic team in Dayton. If you've followed this blog all year, you'll know that we covered the Davidson-Dayton game back in January. Dayton also has one of my favorite players I've seen in person this year in Josh Cunningham, he is bulldozer down low. So what is the problem? The Flyers haven't won outside of Dayton since January 9th. VCU has a much shorter trip to Washington DC and I think the Dayton season ends here.
- La Salle - The Explorers make a great case for the 12/5 upset over GMU. In fact they just beat the Patriots two weeks ago. However, since then - GMU won a couple of nice road games against VCU and St. Joe's. Also, GMU is playing nearby in DC, giving them the extra boost. Should be a real close game.
- Saint Louis -  SLU finished the year with a tough road trip to Duquesne and the Bonnies. Ended up losing a chance at earning a bye and landed as the number six seed. That leaves the Billikens a little tired and now in Washington DC to face the local GW Colonials. I think its a formula that results in an early exit for Travis Ford's crew.
- Duquesne - Keith Dambrot's Dukes have been really fun to follow this season. They started 5-2 in league including a couple of OT thrilling wins along the way. But the Dukes hit a serious wall and from that point on, they only won twice to finish at 7-11 in the A10. Now they face a Richmond team that finished pretty strong. Don't be surprised if Dambrot has the Dukes ready for a run, but I'll still pick them to lose here.

Gone in the Quarters:
- VCU - These Rams will come in pretty inspired after eliminating Dayton. But I don't think they can hang with what I believe will be a refocused Rhode Island team. 
- George Mason - The Patriots swept the season series against Saint Joe's. The Pats are playing close to home as well, but I really like the trajectory of Saint Joe's. The Hawks have won six of seven including the blowout of URI and I think they bring too much momentum for GMU to handle.
- George Washington - Davidson and GW met twice earlier in the year and the Wildcats won by 27 and 29 points in those two games. That alone gives me no reason to try to pick an upset here. Nice little run for GW to play three times in front of the home folks.
- Richmond - Spiders come in on mini win streak, but prior to that they had lost five straight. I don't think they have the horses to take down the red hot Bonnies. 

Semifinal Send Offs:
- Rhode Island - 
I am going with an upset pick here. I think after the beatdown Saint Joseph's gave Rhode Island last week, they will have the mental edge in this one. Just more of a gut feel after the way the Rams played last week. Rams end up being an 8/9 seed in the NCAA's.
- St. Bonaventure - Davidson was a really tough matchup for the Bonnies in both games this season. After the 3OT thriller last week, I think the Wildcats are ready to exact some revenge on the Bonnies. I think St. Bonaventure is still looking at an At Large bid however.

Championship Game:
Davidson over Saint Joseph's - 
I expect Davidson to ride the momentum of the Semifinal win over the Bonnies to cut down the nets in DC. I think they will wind up a 12th seeded team should this happen, ruining the dreams of another bubble team. Excellent run for Saint Joseph's, but I can't see them beating the Wildcats here. In the only previous matchup, Davidson won in blowout fashion, 91-62. Should be a fun Semifinal and Title Game in this league!


Mountain West Tournament Predictions

Opening Round Exits:
Air Force - 
I am giving the Falcons a decent shot at winning a game in this tournament for the following reasons: The game is at 11am in Vegas! Only a Military Academy could be ready for that kind of wake up call in Sin City, and UNLV could easily come out flat in that scenario. Also, UNLV has been all over the place since January. The Falcons lost to the Rebels twice, but both were by single digits. Expect an ugly win for UNLV.
Colorado State - With Larry Eustachy out at CSU, this Rams team has looked really uninspired lately. I do not expect a Pepperdine-like performance in this tournament. I think CSU is ready for the offseason.
San Jose State - SJSU finally brioke through with a Conference win over Utah State on Senior night to save themselves from a bagel in conference. They get Wyoming in Round one and that will prove to be too tall of an order to extend the season to Thursday.

Gone in the Quarters:
UNLV - In what should be a heated contest at the Thomas & Mack Center, UNLV will fall just short against their in-state rivals Nevada. That of course is only if they avoid the first day scare from Air Force. This should be a real fun game to watch on Thursday afternoon. 
San Diego State - Aztecs are a trendy pick to go far in this tournament.and for good reason, they've won six in a row. They finished the season with wins over Boise State and Nevada. However, the Aztecs were not able to beat tougher competition away from Viejas Arena this season, especially in Mountain West play. They run into a fiesty Fresno State club in the Quarters and I think SDSU goes home early.
Boise State - This is my real upset pick. Boise State will face a warm Aggies team who should cruise to victory the day before. Utah State played BSU tough both times this year and split the season series. Boise State has the pressure of needing to win this tournament, and I'm predicting they come out a bit tense and the Aggies capitalize. 
Wyoming - The Cowboys have had a wild ride in the MWC all year and it would not surprise me to see them make a run this weekend. However, they run into a hot New Mexico team that swept them during the regular season. I think New Mexico keeps their win streak going and abruptly ends Wyoming's season.

Semifinal Send Offs:
Fresno State - 
Should be an exciting Semifinal between the Bulldogs and Nevada. Both teams come into the tournament with a thin bench and I think that will have an impact on this semifinal. I believe both teams will have to sweat in the Quarterfinal round as well. In the end, the playmaking and talent of Nevada proves to be too much for Fresno State.
Utah State - This is where the Aggies run out of gas. The Lobos are coming to play in Vegas and USU is a victim of the Lobos along the way. USU can be very proud of a semifinal appearance.

Championship Game:
New Mexico over Nevada - 
Yes, I am predicting a bid thief here. The only meeting between these two teams came way back on December 30th, a 77-74 win in Reno for Nevada. New Mexico has improved quite a bit since then. Nevada's bench is not nearly as deep as UNM's. I expect Nevada to be a bit tired after grinding out wins against UNLV and Fresno. I do not think the Lobos will be nearly as tired coming off wins against Wyoming and Utah State. I am going with the Lobos and this will break the hearts of a bubble team somewhere.


ACC Tournament Predictions

Early Round Exits:
- Georgia Tech - 
The Yellow Jackets come to Brooklyn on a Two-Game Win Streak and it's interesting that their matchup with Boston College is a battle between two teams that did not win a road ACC game besides at Pitt. I like BC just barely in this one to end the Yellow Jackets season.
Wake Forest - The Deacons split the season series this year against the Orange. I expect Wake to come and compete and I give them an outside shot at spoiling Syracuse's NCAA hopes. In the end I see the Deacs falling just short.
- Pittsburgh - Not going to spend a lot of time on this one, the Panthers have been done all season. Nice scrimmage game for Notre Dame.

Day 2 Exits:
- Florida State - 
The Noles and Louisville played two tight games this season with the road team winning each time by four points (subsequently boosting each of their Tournament resume). I think Louisville actually accomplished more overall away from home this year than FSU and they have much more on the line than FSU in this game. I will take the Noles to have a brief stay in Brooklyn.
- Boston College - The Eagles actually matchup decently well against NC State. If Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson have play well, they have a real shot at making the Quarters. However, this NC State team finished the year winning their last five of six and are simply too hot to pick against at this stage.
- North Carolina - Remember that this tournament is in Brooklyn. Remember that this is March and Jim Boeheim teams are executing the 2-3 zone at a much more effective level than any other time of year. And remember that this Tar Heel team has been known to be streaky and right now they come in on a two game losing streak. I could be dead wrong here, and the Heels are capable of winning four games in four days, but this matchup to me has upset written on it. 
- Virginia Tech - I really like the way the Hokies are playing right now. They are safely in the projected field and maybe looking ahead to the NCAA's. Also, this Notre Dame team is finally healthy and will have a lot to prove after their day one tune up against Pitt. Look for the Irish to open some eyes with a win over Virginia Tech.

Gone in the Quarters:
- Louisviille - 
In a rematch of the insane game last week where Louisville miraculously lost, I believe Virginia will be fresh and prepared for the Cardinals. Louisville will still be playing for potentially their tournament lives and could make this a real good game. But in the end, Cavs get to the Semi's.
- Clemson - It's been a heck of a ride all year for the Tigers and congratulations to Coach Brad Brownell on finally getting Clemson into the Big Dance. As for the ACC's though, I think they are in trouble against NC State. Clemson didn't win an ACC game away from home against a tournament caliber team and I don't see that changing here. 
- Syracuse - The Orange have to comeback after upsetting UNC and face a fresh Miami Hurricane team. Cuse beat them in Miami earlier this year, but I expect this Orange team to fall just short. It wouldn't shock me to see them in the Semifinals, but that is just too much to ask. 
- Notre Dame - Dangerous squad with everything to gain in Brooklyn. I expect them to come in confidentally and give Duke a real test. In the end, the not so great depth of the Irish will catch up to them against the talented fresh legs from Duke. Watch out for the Irish in your NIT Brackets.

Semifinal Send Offs:
- NC State - 
I badly want to pick the Wolfpack to win this game over Virginia. The Pack are playing really solid hoops lately and I'm not sold on the Cavs winning this tournament. But in the end, I'm going to play it safe and predict NC State fall just short. Don't be surprised if NC State makes the Title Game.
- Miami - The Hurricanes come in to this tournament red hot after the buzzer beater at UNC and win over Virginia Tech last week. I think they're ready to battle Duke throughout a great Semifinal. However, Duke will be too strong in the end and Miami will feel good about their NCAA Tournament bid on Sunday.

Championship Game:
Duke over Virginia - 
Obviously two excellent teams meeting up here for a trophy. But so much more to gain for Duke than the Cavs, with potentially a #1 Seed at stake. Beyond that, I think Virginia looked very beatable coming into the tournament and Duke will be looking for revenge. I'll go with the Blue Devils to win their 21st ACC Tournament. 


Big Ten Tournament Predictions

Early Round Exits:
Illinois: The Illini have had the brutal task of finishing with four games in eight days to close out the regular season. They are now going to play again now on just two days rest. Brad Underwood's crew only goes 8 deep. I think they can certainly beat Iowa and maybe hang with Michigan, but my thought is they will be gone on day one.
Minnesota: This is somewhat of a gut feeling I have, but I think the Gophers are ready to put this nightmarish season to bed. Also, Rutgers is the only local team in this tournament and should be motivated to play close to home at MSG. 

Day 2 Exits:
- Maryalnd: 
The Terps have a young but talented roster that just wasn't ready to step up and have a tournament caliber season. I think they have a decent shot to get past the Badgers, but recent play tells me Wisconsin is in great position to end Maryland's season. Good chance at an NIT bid for the Terps.
- Iowa: Hawkeyes won't go home empty handed from NYC, they will have a nice two day trip. However, running into Michigan is not a good draw for the Iowa/Illinois winner. 
- Northwestern: Chris Collins' Wildcats have been through a lot this year. Untimely injuries, some blown leads (see Michigan State last week), and overall simply didn't meet expectations. The opening matchup against Penn State looks fairly even on paper and both teams come in cold. I will go with the metrics on this pick and take Penn State to end Northwestern's season in a close one.
- Rutgers: The cinderella story ends before it really begins. I can't pick Rutgers to beat the Hoosiers after just losing to them by 22 earlier this month. Steve Pikiell's program is slowly improving and help is on the way, unfortunately the Scarlet Knights aren't equipped to capitalize on the localized Big Ten Tournament this year.

Gone in the Quarters:
 - Wisconsin: They come in playing much better basketball, and a Day 1 win should get the blood flowing for the Badgers. I expect them to come at Michigan State hard in an early Noon tipoff setting. This realy gives them a shot at the upset. But much like the Spartans have done down the stretch, I predict Michigan State gets another come from behind win and ends Wisconsin's season (not Postseason eligible).
- Nebraska: The bracketologist in me would appreciate a Quarterfinal loss by the Huskers. However, the Basketball fan in me would love to see this team make a run. James Palmer, Jr. is one of the best players in the league. I got witness his 34 point performance at Ohio State in person, excellent player. But, I like that Michigan comes into this game warm and doesn't have the pressure that the Huskers have, so I'll take the Huskers to lose early.
- Penn State: Fun opportunity here for the Nittany Lions to beat Ohio State for the 3rd time in the same season. Unfortunately I think they won't pull it off. The old tale is a it is hard to beat a team three times int the same season and it holds true here.
- Indiana: I think the Hoosiers are a sleeper team in this tournament and if they hadn't drawn Purdue, there is a good chance I would pick them further. Archie Miller's bunch should be poised for a great NIT run (if they want to). 

Semifinal Send Offs:
- Michigan State: I am tempted to have them losing to Wisconsin, but this is a bit more realistic losing to a Michigan team that exposed them in East Lansing earlier this season. The Spartans were my preseason pick to win the NCAA's, so this is definitely not a hater pick. I just have been unimpressed with their quality of play lately and do not see them winning this tournament. 
- Ohio State: Buckeyes have been an excellent story, and losing in the Semifinals to a real tough Purdue team doesn't diminish that at all. I expect this to be a great semifinal game, if you remember the Buckeyes beat the Boilers 64-63 in West Lafayette a few weeks back. Bates-Diop is POY in the Big Ten and will hit big shots but the Buckeyes fall just shy of making it to Sunday.

Championship Game:
- Purdue defeats Michigan: 
Here we have another scenario where Purdue will be trying to beat Michigan for the 3rd time this season. The first two games were outstanding, with the Boilermakers winning both in the final minute. I think by Sunday, Michigan will be pretty tired and they only go eight deep. This will be their fourth game in four days and they will be feeling great about the upset over Sparty. But, I think Purdue will be too strong, deep, and fresh for Michigan to keep up.

Enjoy the games!


Media Coverage: Davidson @ Dayton

Pregame Notes:

  • Davidson comes in pretty hot tonight. Winners of five in a row, including a 83-73 win over St. Bonaventure on Friday last week.
  • Davidson made some major changes on defense, going to a zone defense, which is highly unusual for legendary Head Coach Bob McKillop. This has led to a much more effective defense primarly inside the arch.
  • Davidson has off the charts numbers in a few catergories. They lead the nation in Assist to Turnover ratio (1.94) and Fewest Turnovers Per Game (9.2)
  • Dayton leads the Atlantic 10 in FG Percentage (48.1%) and Rebounds Allowed per Game (32.2)
  • Dayton easily leads the Atlantic 10 in average attendance (8,935 per game). The next highest team is VCU at 6,121/game.
  • Josh Cunningham is coming off of a fantastic performance against URI. Cunningham had 32 Points (13-18 FG) and 12 Rebounds. It is no surprise he is leading the A10 in FG%.

1st Half Notes:

-Dayton opens the scoring with a pretty three ball in the corner from Darrell Davis
-Next time down court the Flyers work the ball down low to Josh Cunningham for an easy bucket.
-Davidson has worked the ball around in the first few possessions but cannot get anything to fall.
-Jordan Davis connects on a three for the Flyers and its a surprising 8-0 lead for Dayton.

First Media Timeout: Dayton 8, Davidson 0

-Trey Landers (Dayton) hits both free throws.
-Cunningham connects again down low.
-Davidson is ice cold, but finally hits a three pointer by Jon Axel Gudmundsson
-Gudmundsson with another triple!
-Kostas Antetokounpo has checked in for Dayton and yes his wingspan is massive!

Second Media Timeout: Dayton 12, Davidson 6

-Oskar Michelson (Davidson) from Helsinki, Finland - drills an open three
-Peyton Aldridge (Davidson) hits a runner in the lane and the Wildcats are on an 11-0 run.
-Finally an answer as Landers knifes thru the Davidson D for a driving layup.
-Will Magarity (Davidson) gets into the scoring with a nice turnaround jumper in the paint.
-Xeyrius Williams (Dayton) is in the game with an impact. Grabs a rebound and the ball ends up in his hands on the offensive end for a three ball. 
-Peyton Aldridge with a beautiful pump fake to make the defender go airborne and connects on an NBA range three.
-Cunningham with another two down low, followed by a driving two by D. Davis.

Third Media Timeout: Dayton 21, Davidson 18.

-Williams with a tip in after a miss from John Crosby.
-Ugly airball miss from the top of the key by Jalen Crutcher (Dayton)
-Cunningham picks up the slack with another deuce.

Fourth Media Timeout: Dayton 25, Davidson 18

-Aldridge draws a shooting foul and connects on one of two.
-Athletic move to drive to the basket by Darrell Davis, drawing a foul. Makes both FTs.
-Cunningham makes a one handed offbalance bank shot, impressive.
-Aldridge answers with a three. 
-Magarity connects on a two pointer.
-Sloppy finish to the half as neither team could get a final shot off. 

Halftime: Dayton 31, Davidson 26.

2nd Half Notes

-Aldridge knocks down a 12 footer to start the second half scoring.
-Open three in the corner drained by Crutcher.
-Cunningham bulldogs' his way in for two.
-Crutcher connects on a driving layup and davidson calls timeout.
-Jordan Davis (Dayton) with a sneaky steal and breakway, but is fouled from behind. Cunningham draws another Davidson foul and heads to the line. Makes both.
-Aldridge answers with a baby hook in the lane.
-Magarity gets a tough offensive rebound and puts the ball in and draws a foul. Will have a FT coming after the break.

First Media Timeout: Dayton 39, Davidson 32

-Magarity completes the three point play.
-Gudmundsson is back at it with another three.
-Magarity with another bucket down low. Timeout Flyers. 
-Landers drills a jumper from inside the arch.
-Crutcher draws a foul and makes both FTs.

Second Media Timeout: Dayton 43, Davidson 40.

-Steal and dunk by Landers, assisted by Darrell Davis.
-Open three drilled by Landers and he leaves his wrist hanging high in the air.
-Gudmundsson again for three. Wildcats love to shoot from deep, that is now 7-16 from three as a team.
-Crutcher hits a jumper and the crowd is really getting loud.
-Magarity quiets the crowd with a three.

Third Media Timeout: Dayton 52, Davidson 46.

-Landers launched a 40 foot three to beat the shot clock and hit it!! But it is now under review. The basket counts, wow what a shot!
-Aldridge wont go down without a fight. Connects on another jumper, he now has 17.
-Michelson picks up a foul and Josh Cunningham picks up a technical foul, not sure on the explanation. Davidson makes both FTs.
-Big-time three by Darrell Davis with a hand in his face.
-Rusty Reigel (Davidson) answers with a layup.
-Kellan Grady (Davidson) gets into the act and hits a jumper.
-Aldridge gets two great looks in the corner for three and makes the second one, wow. Flyers only lead by one.-Grady hits a stepback 17 footer, nothing but net and the Wildcats lead for the first time in a while.
-Darrell Davis makes the Davidson run stop with a nifty basket down low, but right back on the other end Aldridge answers. Timeout Dayton.

Fourth Media Timeout: Davidson 61, Dayton 60. 1:15 Left.

-Crutcher hits a huge three and the entire arena is on their feet. Under a minute left.
-Foul on Darrell Davis, but that is only 4 team fouls for Dayton. Multiple chances at the basket for Davidson, but nothing falls. Ball ends up out of bounds and the refs review and decide possession belongs to the Flyers. Crowd is loving it.
-Grady eventually fouls Landers and that puts Landers on the line for a big one and one: Makes them both. Clutch. Dayton leads by 4. 
-Davidson misses twice from deep and this one looks about done. Dayton leading by 4 with 5.6 seconds left.
-Grady nails a three and its suddenly a one point game. 3.3 seconds remain. Grady then fouls Darrell Davis without anytime coming off the clock.
-Dayton discussing strategy on whether to miss on purpose or not.  He does miss but not on purpose. 
-Halfcourt heave by Grady hits all backboard and Dayton hangs on to win.

FINAL: Dayton 65, Davidson 64.

Media Coverage: Ball State @ Ohio


Pregame Notes:

Ball State
-Ball State is trying to recover from Saturday's 20 point home loss against Buffalo.
-Jontrell Walker was suspended indefinitely just hours before the Buffalo game. Has Ball State moved on mentally?
-If Ball State has the lead late, Ohio is in trouble. Ball State is shooting 75% from the line as a team. Ranked 54th nationally.
-This is Ball State's first Road Game in more than a month. The Cardinals now have six of their next eight on the road in MAC play.
-Ball State has now won nine out of ten following the loss to Buffalo on Saturday.

-Ohio comes in feeling good after a win on Saturday over Northern Illinois 78-68.
-Ohio has picked up significant home wins this year, including a surprise win over At Large contender Western Kentucky on Dec. 10th
-Ohio is still hurting. Preseason All-MAC East Jason Carter remains out with a lower leg injury and has already missed 11 games. Also hurt is frontcourt Frosh Ben Vander Plas who figures to redshirt.
-Mike Laster is coming off of an outstanding performance against NIU where he had 31 Points on 10-12 FG shooting, including 5-6 from 3 Pt. range!

The main reason I am covering this game is to see how legitimate Ball State's NCAA hopes are. Tyler Persons was the hero in the upset over Notre Dame, but hasn't played as well lately. Let's see if the Cardinals get back in the win column tonight.

1st Half Notes:

-Sweet dish from Teyvion Kirk (Ohio) to Jordan Darvis for three to open the scoring.
-Trey Moses (Ball St) answers with a nifty layup down low.
-Another three for the Bobcats, this time from recently red hot Mike Laster.
-Nice steal and drive to draw a foul by Teyvion Kirk (Ohio).

First Media Timeout: Ohio 8, Ball State 4

-Nice offensive rebound and put-back by Kevin Mickle (Ohio)
-Trey Moses answers down low for the Cards.
-Sweet 16-footer is a swish for Laster, shot it in rhythm with his feet set before he caught the pass from Kirk.
-Moses quickly answers again. He is a matchup problem early on for Ohio. Don't be surprised if Ohio coach Saul Phillips switches to some zone soon.
-Zach Butler (Ohio) is in off the bench, comes in with a strong drive and layup  
Second Media Timeout: Ohio 16, Ball State 10.

-Deep three is good for Canadian veteran guard Francis Kiapway (Ball State).
-Strong drive to the hoop and finish by Jeremie Tyler. Tyler missed a lot of action this year and is still getting back in the swing of things.
-Good take by Doug Taylor (Ohio), used a quick slide step to the left to get by the defender and finish. 
-Laster with a nice bank shot from 12.-Persons has now scored on two consecutive possessions. Bobcats cant afford to let him get rolling.
Third Media Timeout: Ball State 22, Ohio 20.

-Sluggish play happening as both teams have been fouling each other, missing shots and turning the ball over.
-Tahjai Teague breaks the ice with a nice jumper.
-Laster answers for the Bobcats on the other end.
-Laster is enfuego! Hits a fade-away three ball from the corner and leaves his hand hanging.
-Persons drains another shot. He now has 11.
-Three point play opportunity coming for Teague. Too strong in the paint.
Fourth Media Timeout: Ball State 28, Ohio 26.

-Teague finishes the three point play for the Cards.
-Good ball movement on a long Ohio possession, but it ends in a missed three by Gavin Block.
-James Gollon hits a three as time expires to give the Bobcats a Halftime lead.
Halftime: Ohio 31, Ball State 29.

Halftime Notes

  • Laster is leading Ohio again with 11 points, but is 4-9 from the field. Still decent, but not like Saturday's performance. Played 18 minutes.
  • Persons had a three reduced to a two, he still has 10 and is a major weapon.
  • Moses has 6 Points, 6 Rebounds.
  • Very even first half: Each team has six assists, six turnovers, and Ball State has a slim 18-17 Rebounding edge.
  • There has only been five total Free Throw Attempts. I imagine that will increase quite a bit in the second half.

2nd Half Notes:

-Doug Taylor rocks the rim with a powerful two hand slam to start the 2nd Half.
-Sweet dish from Kirk to Taylor for a lay in.
-Kirk again penetrates and this time finishes himself. Ohio now on a 9-0 run. Timeout Cards.
-Kyle Mallers (Ball State) makes a much needed three for Ball State.
-Dartis with a layup to answer for Ohio.

First Media Timeout: Ohio 39, Ball State 34.
-Moses draws a foul and makes one of two from the line.
-Mickle hits a nice little baby hook in the lane.
-Mallers with a solid baseline take, connects and draws the foul. Completes the three point play.
-Kirk with another layup in traffic after Laster got his shot blocked.
-Tyler comes in and drains a needed three for the Cards.
-Teague with a tough rebound down low and gets the putback to fall plus earns a trip to the line but misses the three point opportunity.
-Nice pass by Mickle to Butler, but Butler misses the open layup.
-Mallers with a big three and suddenly the Cardinals are on a roll. 10-0 Run.
-Saul Phillips (Ohio HC) is screaming at the officials about no calls.
Second Media Timeout: Ball State 48, Ohio 43.

-Moses gets great position down low and earns a trip to the line. Makes both FT's.
-Teyvion Kirk (Joliet,Ill.) is a fantastic frosh for Ohio. Great moves off the dribble and capable handles.
-Blocked shot by Doug Taylor, swats it Out of Bounds. Tyler responds by hitting a long two.
-Double Technical on Persons/Taylor. That's probably a fight that Persons doesn't want to pick.
-Persons is fired up. He muscles his way into the paint and finishes with a baby floater, then flexes to the Cardinal bench.
-Two quick three balls by Dartis and Ohio is right back in this!
-Gollon passes it away, stolen by Kiapway, but Ball State turns it back over. Crowd is getting into it.
Third Media Timeout: Ball State 55, Ohio 53.

-Persons draws a controversial foul call. Connects on both free throws.
-Laster is back in the mix with a Slam.
-Persons responds with a runner in the lane.
-Tyler drains another three ball - may get reviewed.
-Chippy foul on Persons, his fourth foul, the crows loves it. Persons is not liked in Athens.
-James Whitford (Ball State HC) is having a long discussion with the refs, its unclear why. Crowd is hating this.
-Taylor to the line for One and One. Makes both, Ohio is down by 5.
-Mallers picks up a Player control foul. Ball goes back to the Bobcats.
-Easy pass from Tyler to Teague for a Cardinals layin.
-Dartis answers with a layup.
-Moses draws a shooting foul. Hits both free throws. Moses has a very high arc on his foul shots.
-Kirk with a drive and draws a foul, heading to the line now. Ends up hitting one of two.
-Persons is back in and draws a foul, both teams in the Double Bonus. Ends up missing both.
Last Media Timeout: Ball State 66, Ohio 59.

-Mallers drains a jumper from the corner.
-Kirk is at the line again, makes both. He now has 12.
-Moses makes his way to the hoop and finishes with a one hand finger roll. 
-Mallers, Moses, and Persons all have four fouls for Ball State. They lead by 7.
-Mallers fouls out. Mickle to the line. He connects on both, lead is 5 for Ball State.
-Tyler drills another big three. But Kirk comes down and answers with a three of his own. Lead is still five.
-Ball State uses the entire shot clock and gets a violation after an airball by Sean Sellers.
-Laster misses a three. Kiapway makes both FT's on the other end. Ball State dribbles out the clock. Game Over.

Final Score: Ball State 75, Ohio 68.

Media Coverage: USD at Saint Mary's

2nd Half Notes:
-Great no look dish from Tyler Williams (USD) to Wright for a Layup.
-Three point play opportunity for Piniero, after nice agressive move to the hoop. He completes the 3 Pt. play.
-Nice give and go for Saint Mary's finished by Naar for a layup.
-Carter answers with a nice jumper.
-Londale gets back to the line again, what else is new? Floresca now with two fouls. They are piling up for USD.
-Wright again with a 3 point play opportunity, this guy can really play. Transfer from Utah. Wright finishes the three point play.
-Naar answers with a two from ten feet.

First Media Timeout: USD 43, SMC 37.

-Piniero gets back to the line and knocks down both free throws.
-Nice mini drive and jumper made by Gray.
-Neal back in for SMC, and gets back to the line. Makes one of two.
-SMC is now 0 for 7 on threes tonight, which is incredible. Nearly had one there after an in-n-out shot from Hermanson.
-There it is! The first three pointer with 12:20 to go. Made by Krebs. Great ball movement by the Gaels.

Second Media Timeout: USD 49, SMC 45.

-Naar with a sweet driving layup for the Gaels.
-Nice Blocked shot by Fitzner. Wright had to force a no good three. Good stop for SMC.
-Naar another sweet layup after a left handed drive. Game tied at 49. Timeout USD.
-Wright once again makes a move at the end of the shot clock and draws a foul. This time misses both free throws.
-Fitzner cleans up a Londale miss and SMC leads for the first time in a long while.
-Naar with another gritty layup and one. Goes to the line and connects to make the lead for the Gaels suddenly five.
-Piniero gets called for travelling. Tough call, one of those road team calls.
-Surprising offensive foul called against Londale, however it's just his first foul.
-USD playing a bit more timid offensively, crowd is very loud. When SMC makes baskets, its tough for USD to create.
-Flagrant foul on Wright after grabbing Neal's shorts from behind.

Third Media Timeout: SMC 54, USD 49.

-Neal makes both Flagrant Free Throws. Naar gets another crafty basket. Suddenly the lead is 9.
-Piniero gets back to the line and makes both shots.
-Neal has been a pest on defense, draws a charge here.
-Big three pointer by Gray. Cuts the Gaels lead to four. But Londale gets a quick answer to bring the lead up to six.
-Cameron Neubauer (USD) picks up his fourth foul. Floresca is back in. Neal ends up making both.
-Wright back to the line again, but only makes one of two. Gaels lead is five.
-Piniero with a nice 16 foot jumper, cuts the lead to three.
-Fourth foul now on Floresca as Londale continues to back down on any USD player. 

Fourth Media Timeout: SMC 62, USD 59.

-Piniero another big make, this time in the lane after a nice spin move.
-Londale answers with a baby hook down low.
-Neal with a griity drive and finish. Gaels now lead by 6.
-Wright misses a tough layup and SMC is beginning to milk some clock. Londale gets called for a moving screen.
-Naar eventually gets fouled, makes both. SMC lead is 8 with under a minute left.
-Piniero dribbles the ball off of his foot and things are looking dim for the Torreros.
-A few fouls back and forth here. USD trailing by 7 now. Under 30 seconds remain.
-SMC runs out the clock.

Final Score: Saint Mary's 70, San Diego 63.

1st Half Notes:
-Steal and Dunk for Isaiah Piniero (USD) to open the game, heck of a kickoff for the Torreros. 
-Calvin Hermanson (SMC) has a soft left handed touch, beautiful runner in the lane to get SMC on the board.
-SMC has 6 Australians on the roster and 3 of them start (Londale, Naar, Krebs). 
-Pretty sloppy beginning. Great block from behind by Hermanson on Piniero. Londale also with a nice block during that sequence.

SMC leads USD 6-5 at first Media Timeout.

-USD really playing strong defense and creating shots in transition.
-USD Halfcourt offense really relying on Isaiah Wright (USD)to create.
-Tanner Krebs (SMC) Airballed from straight away three land. Ouch.
-Londale is a force down low, USD doing all the can to keep him out of the paint. He got to the line once in this sequence.

USD leads 15-11 at the second Media Timeout.

-Tough offensive foul called aginst Evan Fitzner (SMC). Crowd boos.
-Piniero had a nice take to the hoop and finished.
-Piniero trying to lay into Londale defensively, one quick spin to from Jock and a dunk for SMC.
-Wright draws a foul while shooting a three, makes two of three.
-Nice looking jump hook shot for reserve forward Alex Floresca, good for two (USD)
-Wright gets to the line again and this time it's a 3 point play opportunity.

USD leads SMC 24-17 at the third Media Timeout.

-Great move by Piniero to get by his defender and draw a foul, then he made both free throws
-After a steal by Olin Carter (USD), he missed an open layup, and on the other end Hermanson finishes with a layup of his own.
-Next possession for SMC, Naar takes it to the hole and completes a three point play.
-USD had a nice stop, but Piniero got called with a ticky tack 2nd foul.

USD leads SMC 26-22 at the fourth Media Timeout.

-Piniero picks up another tough foul and he now has three. Londale giving USD issues inside as expected.
-Wright has a very strong left hand dribble, gets into the lane and dishes to Juwan Gray for two.
-Lamont Smith, USD Head Coach throws his jacket off after another call goes the Gaels way. Londale has made 4 Free throws in the last 30 seconds.
-Huge answer by Gray with a Three pointer.
-Cullen Neal (SMC) gets a three point play opportunity and connects. Great back and forth happening right now.
-Neal again uses some fancy footwork to get into the lane and finishes.
-McKeon Pavilion gets incredibly noisy!
-Wright calms the crowd down with a nice driving layup.

Halftime: USD 33, Saint Mary's 31.

Pregame Notes:

This should be a great clash between Saint Mary's highly effective offense, and USD's nationally recognized defense.

- USD's Third Straight Road Game.
- USD is #1 Nationally in 3 pt. Defense (23.6%)
- USD is #2 Nationally in effective FG% Defense (41%)

- St. Mary's has the #3 Nationally ranked Effective offense according to KenPom
- St. Mary's shoots 41% from 3 pt. range - 11th in the Nation.
- St. Mary's is 7th nationally in effective FG% Offense. (59.2%)

Should be quite the clash tonight!

Diamond Head Classic Predictions

Our final Preseason Tournament of the College Hoops season is full of intrigue. Will USC finally live up to expectations? How good is Middle Tennessee? Can Miami continue to dominate? Was the Princeton upset at USC a fluke? Will New Mexico State make some noise? It's all broken down in the predictions. 

8. Akron - The Zips bring a 6-2 record to Honolulu, but have not won a game away from home yet. Their most notable wins are against Fort Wayne and Chattanooga. I expect Akron to be pretty competitive here and can see them getting a win in the losers bracket. Daniel Utomi is off to a huge start, averaging over 20 points and 7 rebounds per game. He will be fun to watch.

7. Davidson - Live by the 3, die by the 3. That's how Bob McKillop's bunch rolls. They also really take care of the basketball. At last check, Davidson is the NCAA leader in Assist to Turnover ratio. If the Wildcats get hot, they can upset anyone in this field. They are a bit small though, and I see them having matchup problems in the opener against NMSU. I think they salvage a victory over Akron to leave Hawaii on a high note.

6. Princeton - The Tigers enter this tournament feeling amazing after the upset overtime win at USC on Tuesday. Tigers have to turn around and face a tough Middle Tennessee team in the tournament opener. Princeton loves to run back cuts and use the shot clock effectively (sounds familiar right?).  Expect all of their games to be tight ones, but I ultimately have them finishing 6th.

5. Hawaii - Hawaii is always tough to beat at home, and they love to knock off Power teams in this tournament. They have their chance right off the bat against Miami. It would be a huge win for Hawaii to win that, I think it stays close but they fall short. Hawaii will bounce back in a strong way by knocking off Davidson and Princeton. 

4. New Mexico State - Texas Southern transfer Zach Lofton has been a blessing this season for the Aggies. He is doing it all, averaging 19.5 ppg and 4.5 rpg. Lofton will look to lead the Aggies on a great run in this tournament, but ultimately they will fall short after winning the opening game over Davidson. 

3. USC - I've had the opportunity to see a lot of USC already this season and I am at the point where I don't feel comfortable picking them to reach the Championship Game. We all know they have the talent, but something is off with this bunch right now. This is a big opportunity for the Trojans to come together and get the season back on track. But I think running into Middle Tennessee is the type of team that will really frustrate USC. I expect them to finish here and take care of NMSU in the finale.

2. Middle Tennessee - The Blue Raiders come into this tournament with two wins over the SEC, four road wins, and a sweep of FGCU. Both of their losses were close ones to Auburn and Belmont. Middle Tennessee in recent years has really risen to the occasion in tournaments or games against "bigger" programs. I expect no different here. Be sure to watch the Semifinal game against USC (baring upsets).

1. Miami - Jim Larranaga's group has been laser focused this season despite potential FBI distractions. The Canes bring a perfect 9-0 record to the Diamond Head Classic. Five players (Dewan Huell, Dejan Vasiljevic, Bryce Brown, Jr., Lonnie Walker IV, and Ja'Quon Newton) all average in double figure scoring.  Miami as a team is fourth in the nation defensive efficiency. The Canes will be really challenging to beat and they are my pick to take home the trophy.


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Great Alaska Shootout Predictions

This is sadly the final year of the Great Alaska Shootout. So many great teams have played here and now it's the forgotten tournament. I have many great memories of watching these games around Thanksgiving. Let's hope it's a great Title Game!

8. Alaska-Anchorage - This just feels mean to put the Seawolves in last place in the final Great Alaska Shootout. But unfortunately this isn't a very strong UAA squad. I expect them to fight hard, but still likely lose every game between by between 8-20 points.

7. Sam Houston State - Bobkat fans are not going to like this projection. The tough part is they have only faced one Division 1 program thus far, a 9 point loss at Idaho. SHSU opens with Central Michigan in what should be a close game. I then have them turning around and losing another close game before beating UAA for 7th place.

6. Santa Clara - This Broncos team comes to Alaska pretty thin. They really only go 7 deep right now and that is not good for this format. KJ Feagin can really light it up, if he gets hot then SCU can make a run. I see them losing a tough one to Idaho in the opener and then bouncing back against UAA before settling for 6th place.

5. Cal Poly - Donovan Fields leads this Mustang club into Alaska on a two game winning streak including an impressive road win at Santa Clara. And funny enough, I am predicting a rematch this Saturday in the 5th/6th Place game between the two. I think Cal Poly may make Charleston sweat a bit in the opener. Charleston has looked sluggish and they had to travel a very long ways to get to Alaska. That's one to keep your eye on. Otherwise I see Cal Poly bouncing back with two wins after a close lose to the Cougars.

4. Central Michigan - I was impressed by the effort CMU gave at Michigan last week. But maybe Michigan isn't as good as we thought either. I still think this CMU team, led by Shawn Roundtree and Luke Meyer can compete with anyone in this field. Roundtree needs to cut down on his turnovers though. I see the Chips escaping the Sam Houston opening game, before losing twice and finishing 4th.

3. Cal St. Bakersfield - This team is a pretty veteran club who starts three Seniors. They have a young Freshman in Jarkel Joiner that is having a lot of success early on in the season. Senior Shon Briggs is the leader of this team though, and they are capable of winning this tournament. I see them falling just short in the Semi's, before taking out CMU for 3rd.

2. Idaho - I'm taking the Vandals to make a run in Anchorage and not being shy about it. This is the most promising team Idaho has had in some time. It will be crucial to get the opening win over Santa Clara, so Idaho can have the off day on Thursday. Vandals rotation is only 7-8 guys deep. I think they then have what it takes to knock off Bakersfield in the Semifinals, before losing the Title Game.

1. Charleston - On paper this is the best team in the field, no question. The preseason pick to win the CAA Regular Season and CAA Tournament titles. But on the court, they have struggled thus far. This trip to Alaska will either help them get on track or could derail them further. I am going to stick with my preseason analysis and take Charleston to win the Great Alaska Shootout. Watch out for Joe Chealey, he can flat out score, he had 29 points on 19 shots in their last game against Charlotte.

Enjoy the final Great Alaska Shootout everyone!