BRACKETOLOGY: Saturday March 4, 2017

These will be coming daily.

Last Four In: Syracuse, Illinois, Wake Forest, Rhode Island

Last Four Out: Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Marquette

This bracket is good for games through 3/3

EAST

1.Villanova16.UC Davis/Mount St Mary’s Buffalo

8.South Carolina9.Wisconsin

5.Iowa St12.Wake Forest/Illinois Orlando

4.Florida13.Monmouth

6.St. Mary’s11.USC Buffalo

3.Duke14.Winthrop

7.Oklahoma St10.Providence Sacramento

2.UCLA15.CSU Bakersfield

SOUTH

1.North Carolina16.Tennessee-Martin Greenville

8.Maryland9.Middle Tennessee St

5.Florida St12.UNC-Wilmington Orlando

4.SMU13.Akron

6.Virginia Tech11.Iowa Salt Lake City

3.Arizona14.Bucknell

7.Creighton10.VCU Tulsa

2.Baylor15.Oakland

MIDWEST

1.Kansas16.North Carolina Central/New Orleans Tulsa

8.Northwestern9.Arkansas

5.Cincinnati12.Nevada Milwaukee

4.Notre Dame13.Princeton

6.Minnesota11.Texas-Arlington Milwaukee

3.Butler14.Florida Gulf Coast

7.Wichita St10.Michigan St Indianapolis

2.Kentucky15.South Dakota

WEST

1.Oregon16.North Dakota Sacramento

8.Dayton9.Michigan

5.Purdue12.Rhode Island/Syracuse Indianapolis

4.West Virginia13.Vermont

6.Virginia11.Illinois St Greenville

3.Louisville14.UNC-Greensboro

7.Miami(Fl)10.Seton Hall Salt Lake City

2.Gonzaga15.Texas Southern

Published in: on March 4, 2017 at 8:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Westwood Rising

 

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(Photo: Casey Sapio, USA TODAY)

 

 

All year long, Steve Alford has been brewing something in Los Angeles. The embattled coach has had a superb bounce back season for UCLA. That was no more evident then on Saturday night as the Bruins took down the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson.

UCLA’s resurgence can be attributed to freshman sensation Lonzo Ball. The sure-fire lottery pick has proven himself to be the best pure point guard in a draft class filled with talented point guards. He leads one of the most explosive teams in the country.

UCLA isn’t always dialed in defensively because they’re so adept on the other end. The Bruins will certainly need to defend better in March, but if they don’t it won’t stop them from being one of the toughest outs in the Big Dance.

Let’s do some conference tournament previews.

ATLANTIC SUN: Florida Gulf Coast, once again, proved to be the class of the Atlantic Sun as it won another regular season title. With many of its primary challengers defecting from the conference recently, the Eagles have enjoyed life at the top. Despite that, they’ll have a difficult time winning the automatic bid here. Lipscomb watched crosstown rival Belmont dominate this league before it left and is ready to step up to primetime. The Bisons have already beaten the Eagles on their home court and that’s why they’ll win the automatic bid.

BIG SOUTH: Winthrop and UNC-Asheville tied for the regular season title at 15-3 with Liberty right on their heels at 14-4. Those three have separated themselves from the pack and look primed to take the bid. UNC-Asheville has the most experience here and thus the Bulldogs are the team no one wants to see in this tournament. Too bad. The Bulldogs will be the team that wins it.

OHIO VALLEY: This one is simple. If Belmont doesn’t breeze through the conference tournament it will be one of the more shocking results in any conference tournament. The Bruins finished five games ahead of their next closest competition and look like a team that can pull off an upset in the Big Dance.

NORTHEAST: Mount St. Mary’s looked to be clear favorites in the NEC until last week when LIU beat the Mountaineers on their home court. It’s going to be a slugfest for the Mountaineers as 7 of the 8 teams that qualified for the conference tournament finished at .500 or above. This will be competitive, but the regency of the the loss to LIU will work in their favor and they’ll return to the dance for the first time since 2014.

AMERICA EAST: The Vermont Catamounts went 16-0 in conference play and are as heavy favorites as Belmont is in the OVC. This tournament will be played on the home court of the higher seeded team. That means teams will have to travel to Vermont to attempt to do something none of them have been able to do all season – beat the Catamounts. That won’t happen. Vermont goes dancing.

On to the bracket.

Last Four In: Syracuse, Illinois, Georgia Tech, Rhode Island

Last Four Out: Marquette, California, Wake Forest, Houston

This bracket is good for games through 2/26

EAST

1.Villanova16.UC Davis/Mount St Mary’s Buffalo

8.Michigan9.Dayton

5.Purdue12.Nevada Orlando

4.Florida St13.Monmouth

6.Oklahoma St11.USC Buffalo

3.West Virginia14.East Tennessee St

7.Virginia Tech10.Providence Sacramento

2.UCLA15.CSU Bakersfield

SOUTH

1.North Carolina16.South Dakota Greenville

8.South Carolina9.Michigan St

5.Florida12.Georgia Tech/Illinois Orlando

4.SMU13.Akron

6.St. Mary’s11.Vanderbilt Salt Lake City

3.Arizona14.Bucknell

7.Wisconsin10.Middle Tennessee St Indianapolis

2.Kentucky15.Oakland

MIDWEST

1.Kansas16.North Carolina Central/New Orleans Tulsa

8.VCU9.Arkansas

5.Cincinnati12.Texas-Arlington Milwaukee

4.Notre Dame13.Princeton

6.Minnesota11.Rhode Island/Syracuse Tulsa

3.Baylor14.Florida Gulf Coast

7.Wichita St10.Northwestern Indianapolis

2.Louisville15.Winthrop

WEST

1.Oregon16.North Dakota Sacramento

8.Creighton9.Maryland

5.Iowa St12.UNC-Wilmington Greenville

4.Duke13.Vermont

6.Miami(Fl)11.Illinois St Milwaukee

3.Butler14.Belmont

7.Virginia10.Seton Hall Salt Lake City

2.Gonzaga15.Texas Southern

Weekend Bracket for 2/25-26

Last Four In: Kansas St, Marquette, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech

Last Four Out: California, Illinois St, TCU, Alabama

This bracket is good for games through 2/24

EAST

1.Villanova16.UC Davis/Mount St Mary’s Buffalo

8.Virginia9.Michigan

5.Florida St12.Texas-Arlington Buffalo

4.West Virginia13.Monmouth

6.Minnesota11.Georgia Tech/Kansas St Orlando

3.Florida14.Winthrop

7.Saint Mary’s10.Northwestern Indianapolis

2.Louisville15.Florida Gulf Coast

MIDWEST

1.Kansas16.North Carolina Central/New Orleans Tulsa

8.South Carolina9.Michigan St

5.Notre Dame12.UNC-Wilmington Milwaukee

4.Purdue13.Akron

6.Miami(Fl)11.Xavier Orlando

3.Kentucky14.Princeton

7.Creighton10.Syracuse Salt Lake City

2.Arizona15.CSU Bakersfield

WEST

1.Gonzaga16.North Dakota St Sacramento

8.Wichita St9.Arkansas

5.SMU12.Vanderbilt/Marquette Greenville

4.Duke13.Bucknell

6.Wisconsin11.Middle Tennessee St Indianapolis

3.Butler14.Valparaiso

7.VCU10.Providence Sacramento

2.Oregon15.East Tennessee St

SOUTH

1.North Carolina16.North Dakota Greenville

8.Maryland9.Dayton

5.Iowa St12.Nevada Milwaukee

4.Cincinnati13.Vermont

6.Oklahoma St11.Seton Hall Salt Lake City

3.UCLA14.Belmont

7.Virginia Tech10.USC Tulsa

2.Baylor15.Texas Southern

Published in: on February 25, 2017 at 2:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fear the North

 

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North Dakota’s Quinton Hooker (Jesse Trelstad/Grand Forks Herald)

In the first time since both universities have been Division I participants, both North Dakota and North Dakota St have legitimate shots to  go dancing.

At the publishing of this post, North Dakota is  in first place by a half-game in the Big Sky while North Dakota St is tied for first in the Summit with South Dakota.

This would be quite the feat for the two universities and would give the state bragging rights over the Dakota to the South. Both schools will most likely be 15/16 seeds, but that doesn’t take away of how historic this will be for the state. Besides, the world needs to see North Dakota’s Quinton Hooker in the Big Dance.

Stock Up: Wichita St. As you will see below the Shockers are an No. 8 seed without an at-large resume. That’s because I believe what my eyes tell me when I watch them play. This is a tournament team. They are destroying the Missouri Valley. In 13 of their 15 conference wins, the margin has been double digits. In fact they beat Illinois St, the team they’re tied with for first place, by 41 points earlier this month. You don’t want to see this team in March.

Stock Down: Virginia. I’m starting to wonder if the rest of the ACC has figured Tony Bennett out. It happens from time-to-time, but the Cavaliers are currently on a four-game losing streak and haven’t looked good in the process. There is now a scenario where Virginia is playing in a 7/10 or 8/9 game in the Big Dance.

Stock Up: Bucknell. On Sunday, Bucknell traveled to Boston University to play a game for first place in the Patriot League. When the game was over; there was no doubt. Bucknell throttled Boston 86-66 to take a two-game lead and are now the odds-on favorite to win the automatic bid.

Stock Down: Mountain West. Last week we spoke about the downturn of Conference USA and this week it’s the Mountain West, which appears to be a one-bid league again. Long-term this appears to be more of a blip than a trend as it has major state universities. However, more is expected of this league.

 

Last Four In: TCU, Seton Hall, Syracuse, California

Last Four Out: Alabama, Marquette, Providence, Illinois St

This bracket is good for games through 2/19.

EAST

1.Villanova16.UC Irvine/Mount St Mary’s Buffalo

8.Virginia Tech9.Saint Mary’s

5.Florida St12.Texas-Arlington Orlando

4.Cincinnati13.Monmouth

6.Maryland11.Dayton Orlando

3.Florida14.UNC-Asheville

7.Northwestern10.Kansas St Indianapolis

2.Louisville15.Florida Gulf Coast

SOUTH

1.North Carolina16.North Dakota Greenville

8.Oklahoma St9.Michigan

5.Wisconsin12.Nevada Buffalo

4.West Virginia13.Vermont

6.Creighton11.Tennessee Salt Lake City

3.UCLA14.Belmont

7.South Carolina10.USC Tulsa

2.Baylor15.Texas Southern

WEST

1.Gonzaga16.North Dakota St Sacramento

8.Wichita St9.Georgia Tech

5.SMU12.Syracuse/Seton Hall Milwaukee

4.Purdue13.Bucknell

6.Iowa St11.California/TCU Greenville

3.Duke14.Valparaiso

7.VCU10.Michigan St Sacramento

2.Oregon15.Furman

MIDWEST

1.Kansas16.North Carolina Central/New Orleans Tulsa

8.Miami(Fl)9.Xavier

5.Notre Dame12.UNC-Wilmington Milwaukee

4.Butler13.Akron

6.Virginia11.Middle Tennessee St Indianapolis

3.Kentucky14.Princeton

7.Minnesota10.Arkansas Salt Lake City

2.Arizona15.CSU Bakersfield

 

 

Weekend Bracket for 2/18-19

Last Four In: Kansas St, Providence, California, Syracuse

Last Four Out: Alabama, Houston, Georgetown, Wake Forest

This bracket is good for games through 2/17

EAST

1.Villanova16.UC Davis/Mount St Mary’s Buffalo

8.Virginia Tech9.Michigan

5.SMU12.Texas-Arlington Buffalo

4.West Virginia13.Monmouth

6.Maryland11.California/Providence Indianapolis

3.Kentucky14.UNC-Asheville

7.Northwestern10.Arkansas Indianapolis

2.Louisville15.Florida Gulf Coast

SOUTH

1.Baylor16.North Carolina Central Tulsa

8.VCU9.Saint Mary’s

5.Notre Dame12.Wichita St Milwaukee

4.Purdue13.Vermont

6.Creighton11.Middle Tennessee St Salt Lake City

3.UCLA14.Belmont

7.USC10.TCU Greenville

2.North Carolina15.Texas Southern

WEST

1.Gonzaga16.North Dakota St Sacramento

8.Minnesota9.Oklahoma St

5.Virginia12.Nevada Milwaukee

4.Butler13.Bucknell

6.South Carolina11.Seton Hall Greenville

3.Duke14.Valparaiso

7.Iowa St10.Georgia Tech Sacramento

2.Oregon15.Furman

MIDWEST

1.Kansas16.Weber St/New Orleans Tulsa

8.Michigan St9.Miami(Fl)

5.Cincinnati12.UNC-Wilmington Orlando

4.Florida St13.Akron

6.Wisconsin11.Syracuse/Kansas St Orlando

3.Florida14.Princeton

7.Xavier10.Dayton Salt Lake City

2.Arizona15.CSU Bakersfield

Published in: on February 18, 2017 at 8:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Super-Nova


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(Yong Kim – Philadelphia Inquirer) Villanova Guard Josh Hart

It’s extremely hard to repeat in any sport and odds are that Villanova will not win the 2017 national championship. The Wildcats, however, have as good a chance as team.

 

With national player-of-the-year candidate, Josh Hart and the hero of the title game, Kris Jenkins returning; the Wildcats are running away with the Big East regular season title. Their stellar play has them poised for another deep run. They play outstanding defense, understand what head coach Jay Wright wants on offense, and have plenty of experience.

Villanova was named as the No. 1 overall seed by the selection committee on Saturday. If they keep playing like this then there’s a high probability that’ll repeat on Selection Sunday.

Stock Up: Gonzaga. The Bulldogs have been nearly as impressive as the Wildcats. As usual, Gonzaga challenged itself in the nonconference and passed with flying colors. Saturday night was supposed to be a challenge at St. Mary’s, but the Gaels proved to be in the same class as the Bulldogs. The aspect of an undefeated regular season is looking better and better.

Stock Down: The Big Ten. Not one team from the Big Ten was named as a top 16 seed by the committee and that is unheard of. Part of the problem is the down years by both Indiana and Michigan St. Those two teams, along with Wisconsin, were expected to be top-15 teams. Not even a likely berth to the tournament for Northwestern can save the league.

Stock Up: New Orleans. This story is remarkable. Due to Hurricane Katrina and the Louisiana government cutting higher education funding, the school decided to demote itself to Division III status. Three years later, it decided to return to Division I and joined the Southland Conference. Now the Privateers are in first place in a league that has won tournament games in 2 out of the past 3 seasons. If there as any team to root for as March approaches, it’s them.

Stock Down: Conference USA. When the Great Midwest and Metro Conferences joined forces in the late 90’s this is not what they had in mind. UAB and Southern Mississippi are the only original members remaining and the effects of all the defections can be seen in the on-court results. The league, which was consistently top-8-10 in college basketball, is now ranked No. 25 out of 32 Division I conferences. The league has to do a lot of work to rebuild its reputation.

Now on to the bracket:

This bracket is good for games thru 2/12

Last Four In: Tennessee, Wake Forest, Seton Hall, Syracuse

Last Four Out: Arkansas, Rhode Island, Alabama, Houston

EAST

1.Villanova16.UC Davis/Mount St Mary’s Buffalo

8.Virginia Tech9.Kansas St

5.Creighton12.Texas-Arlington Salt Lake City

4.UCLA13.Monmouth

6.Maryland11.Boise St Indianapolis

3.Kentucky14.UNC-Asheville

7.Northwestern10.California Indianapolis

2.Louisville15.Florida Gulf Coast

WEST

1.Gonzaga16.North Dakota St Sacramento

8.Minnesota9.TCU

5.Cincinnati12.Seton Hall/Wake Forest Greenville

4.Virginia13.Bucknell

6.South Carolina11Middle Tennessee St Buffalo

3.West Virginia14.Valparaiso

7.Iowa St10.Dayton Sacramento

2.Oregon15.Furman

SOUTH

1.Baylor16.North Carolina Central Tulsa

8.VCU9.Saint Mary’s

5.Notre Dame12.Illinois St Milwaukee

4.Purdue13.Vermont

6.SMU11.Michigan Orlando

3.Florida14.Belmont

7.USC10.Oklahoma St Greenville

2.North Carolina15.Texas Southern

MIDWEST

1.Kansas16.Weber St/New Orleans Tulsa

8.Michigan St9.Georgia Tech

5.Butler12.UNC-Wilmington Milwaukee

4.Duke13.Akron

6.Wisconsin11.Syracuse/Tennessee Orlando

3.Florida St14.Princeton

7.Xavier10.Miami(Fl) Salt Lake City

2.Arizona15.CSU Bakersfield

Published in: on February 14, 2017 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Stetson Looks to Go Streaking after 88-74 win over UNF

Step one of Stetson’s plan to go on a winning streak was accomplished on Saturday as the Hatters (9-14, 2-5) upset the North Florida (UNF) Ospreys (9-15, 4-3) 88-74.

“This morning, someone in the locker room put ‘the streak starts now,’” said Stetson junior guard Luke Doyle. “We listed the first five games we have today moving forward and we just crossed off the first one.”

The Hatters, who trailed by nine at halftime, won in large part to shooting 74.2% in the second half. It was an impressive performance, which led to a 23-point differential in second half scoring.

“We knew that we were going to be fine,” said senior guard Divine Myles. “We’re really great in the second half. So we just kept chipping away, playing with each other and got the win.”

Stetson’s sluggish start to the game was due to UNF’s zone defense. UNF extended it behind the three-point line – causing Stetson some major issues.

“The first half it was kind of hard to figure out,” said Doyle. “They pressured up high so we really couldn’t break the first layer of it.”

It led to the Hatters shooting less than 30 percent in the first half. On the other end of the court, they struggled to keep the Ospreys out of the paint as they shot over 51 percent. As a result, the Ospreys took a 41-32 lead into halftime.

It was a deficit that Stetson only needed 8:25 of second-half game time to overcome as it took a 60-59 lead over UNF with 11:35 remaining in the game.

The two teams would trade hoops over the next few minutes with the Ospreys taking their last lead at 63-62 with 9:14 remaining.

The Hatters then closed the game in impressive fashion – outscoring the Ospreys 26-11 down the stretch to win the game.

It was a much-needed win according to head coach Corey Williams. He says his team is getting healthy at the right time for the team to make a run, but says he wants them to stay focused on the task at hand.

“We feel like we have a chance to position ourselves, perhaps, for a home game,” he said. “But what we can’t do is start looking down the road. “We’ve got to take it one game at a time.”

The zone-busting sophomore forward Derrick Newton led the Hatters with 26 points. Doyle had 19 and Myles chipped in 16 with 11 rebounds and 7 assists.

Senior forward Chris Davenport led UNF with 26 of his own while senior guard Dallas Moore chipped in 11.

Stetson next takes the floor on Jan. 30 as it hosts Jacksonville. UNF stays on the road the same evening as it travels to Florida Gulf Coast.

Published in: on January 29, 2017 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Stetson Blows Late Lead in Loss to Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Gulf Coast 89 Stetson 88. WILD 2nd half. Stetson pulled a Georgetown by losing a game it led by 8 with 1:20 left.

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The Stetson Hatters (7-10) had the Florida Gulf Coast (FGCU) Eagles right where they wanted them after 39 minutes. However, a wacky last minute cost Stetson a chance to start off conference play with a bang as FGCU (12-5) pulled out a 89-88 victory.

It was an emotional loss – one that Stetson head coach Corey Williams says he won’t let his team dwell on.

“That’s supposed to be the best team in our league and [we] had them down,” Williams said. “The same work you put in for Florida Gulf Coast, now you have to put in for every opponent that you play.”

The Hatters shot 65.5 percent in the second half on their way to scoring 52 points – 30 of which came in the last 9:33 of the game.

However, the story of the game came with less than a minute and half remaining where eight-point lead vanished into thin air in large part due to Stetson junior guard Angel Rivera fouling out.

“That’s one of our primary ball-handlers and when he got out of the game it made it a little tough,” Williams said. “Now guys have to step up and handle that ball and make the right decision. We didn’t do a good job of that.”

With 1:21 remaining, junior guard Luke Doyle hit a three-pointer to put the Hatters up 85-77. That’s when things started to get hairy.

On FGCU’s next possession, junior guard Christian Terrell knocked down a three-pointer to cut the lead to five. After a Stetson free-throw extended the lead to six, senior forward Demetris Morant hit two free throws to make it a four-point game.

The Hatters turned the ball over before they could get it pass halfcourt. Eagles’ guard Brandon Goodwin was fouled on the ensuing possession and hit two free throws to bring the score to 86-84.

Stetson turned the ball over again on its next possession and Goodwin drove down the lane unencumbered to hit a layup to tie the game with nine seconds remaining in the game.

This is where the game turned really crazy. Hatters junior guard B.J. Glasford was able to sneak behind the Eagles’ defense to score an uncontested layup with 4 seconds left. On the ensuing inbounds Goodwin was able to get the ball just past half court where he drew a foul on a three-point attempt with .6 seconds remaining.

Goodwin sank all three. On the last possession, Doyle’s desperation heave actually hit the rim.

Then there was the post-game handshake line. Words turned into an altercation that almost spilled into the locker rooms as the two teams had to be separated.

“I told my guys the thing that you have to do is you can’t let your emotions rev up to high,” Williams said.

Junior guard Divine Myles led the Hatters with 21 points while Doyle and sophomore forward Derick Newton both chipped in 18. Goodwin led the Eagles with 20 while sophomore guard Rayjon Tucker helped with 19.

Stetson returns to action on the 12th when it travels to Nashville to play its first road conference game at Lipscomb. FGCU returns to action the same evening at Kennesaw St.

 

BRACKETOLOGY: Welcome to 2016-17

It’s a new year and over 300 Division I college basketball teams are dreaming of an opportunity to play in the big dance. As the college hoops team gets started here are a few notes.

Given who’s returning and who’s stepping on campus, Duke may be significantly better than everyone else. Health is a concern, but the Blue Devils may still be the best team in the country even if Harry Giles isn’t ready right away.

The Pac-12 will be really interesting. There a lots of story lines beginning with the health of Dillon Brooks at Oregon. He had surgery this summer and may not be ready for the beginning of the season (hence the reason for the 3-seed). Arizona is dealing with Ray Smith’s third ACL tear while the eligibility of Allonzo Trier is up in the air. Washington welcomes Markelle Fultz, who may be the best player in the country.

Monmouth returns 15 players from last year’s team that probably should’ve had made the NCAA tournament. The Hawks have games at South Carolina, Syracuse, Memphis and North Carolina. They’re gonna have to win two of those games.

UAB returns all five starters the reigning Conference-USA Sixth Man of the Year from a team that won 26 games last season. The Blazers fell short of the NCAA tournament after losing in the Conference-USA tournament quarterfinals to Western Kentucky. I don’t think a loss in the C-USA tournament this season will produce the same result.

Wichita St has garnered a lot of respect nationally. Much of that is due to Gregg Marshall. Its going to be quite the feat if the Shockers make it back to the NCAA tournament this season. Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker are gone and the Shockers barely went dancing with them last season.

Last Four In: Texas, NC State, Butler, Davidson

Last Four Out: BYU, Notre Dame, Colorado, SMU

EAST

1.Duke16.Lehigh Greenville, SC

8.West Virginia9.Ohio St

5.UConn12.Pittsburgh Salt Lake City

4.Creighton13.UNC-Wilmington

6.Arizona11.Chattanooga Sacramento

3.Gonzaga14.Weber St

7.Louisville10.Georgia Milwaukee

2.Wisconsin15.Belmont

WEST

1.North Carolina16.North Florida Greenville, SC

8.Georgetown9.Iowa St

5.Clemson12.Monmouth Salt Lake City

4.Purdue13.Long Beach St

6.Saint Marys11.New Mexico Sacramento

3.Oregon14.Little Rock

7.Virginia Tech10.Dayton Indianapolis

2.Xavier15.Texas A&M-CC

SOUTH

1.Kentucky16.Fairleigh Dickinson/Jackson St Orlando

8.UCLA9.Michigan

5.San Diego St12.Davidson/Butler Tulsa

4.Syracuse13.Princeton

6.California11.Illinois St Indianapolis

3.Indiana14.Valparaiso

7.Rhode Island10.Florida Buffalo

2.Villanova15.Winthrop

MIDWEST

1.Kansas16.South Carolina St/New Hampshire Tulsa

8.Maryland9.UAB

5.Washington12.NC State/Texas Orlando

4.Florida St13.Akron

6.Seton Hall11.Cincinnati Milwaukee

3.Michigan St14.Fort Wayne

7.Houston10.Oklahoma Buffalo

2.Virginia15.New Mexico St

 

Published in: on November 10, 2016 at 9:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

UConn’s March Magic Continues

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Sophomore G/F Daniel Hamilton accepts his American Athletic Conference Championship MVP trophy

 

The UConn Huskies (24-10) completed a great run through the American Athletic Conference tournament with a decisive 72-58 win over the Memphis Tigers (19-15).

The Huskies dominated the action from the start. They jumped out to a 20-7 lead with 9:26 to go in the first half and never looked back. It was an impressive performance that capped off an amazing weekend for head coach Kevin Ollie.

“It was just a great game,” Ollie said. “Guys really played hard. They deserved this championship. We did a lot of things in the off-season to create this momentum and just continue to pull each other together.”

Memphis could never get it’s footing in the first half and foul trouble by senior wing Trahson Burrell held them at bay going into the break.

The beginning second half was a different story for the Tigers, though. After the Huskies lead ballooned to 16 early in the half, the Tigers turned up the pressure and cut the lead to 40-36 by 11:43.

From there, timely three-point shooting by the Huskies helped grow the lead to as many as 17.

“They hit some tough threes. You’ve got to give them credit,” said Memphis head coach Josh Pastner. “[Senior guard Sterling] Gibbs hit that big three coming out of that timeout. That was a big shot.”

Senior transfers Sterling Gibbs and Shonn Miller led the Huskies with 13 points a piece. Freshman forward Dedric Lawson led the Tigers with 21.

Now UConn turns its attention to the NCAA tournament where it will be a No. 9 seed in the region and face No. 8 Colorado on Thursday in Des Moines.

“I told y’all this. I got the best coaching staff in America,” Ollie said. “They’re going to break down the tape. I’m going to be right in the war room with them.

“We’re going to probably pull a couch in there and probably pull a couple all-nighters and get ready for Colorado,” he continued. “Hopefully we can get through that one.”

Other American teams joining UConn in the tournament are Tulsa, Temple and Cincinnati.

Tulsa is headed to Dayton to play in the play in game vs. Michigan where the winner will the No. 11 seed in the East vs. Notre Dame.

Temple will join UConn in the South as the No. 10 seed where it will face off against Iowa.

Cincinnati will head west as it will be that region’s No. 9 seed against Saint Joseph’s.

Published in: on March 13, 2016 at 6:40 pm  Leave a Comment