Jelan Kendrick Out Of Memphis And On To. . .

Posted by nvr1983 on November 13th, 2010

We first heard about trouble in Memphis for star small forward Jelan Kendrick when he was temporarily suspended from the team less than a month ago. At the time Josh Pastner and the Tigers staff tried to say that it was not a unilateral decision at the time, but today Pastner and his staff have decided to kick Kendrick off the team for good. According to sources the decision was not the result of a single specific incident, but instead the culmination of months of poor decisions by Kendrick. Clearly for the Tigers this is a big loss as a combination of Kendrick and Will Barton could have been lethal in Conference USA particularly if they had both stuck around for a few years, but on the plus side the Tigers know who they will have relatively early in the season and can adapt instead of having this happen in February or March.

Is the potential reward worth the likely headache?

The more interesting this is what will happen to Kendrick. As we have seen with Tony Woods there will undoubtedly be no shortage of suitors for Kendrick especially since Kendrick is more talented than Woods and has a much less serious charge against him. The question is where he will end up. While any program would love to add a player of Kendrick’s caliber there are probably a select few programs that we would expect to stay above the fray such as Duke, UNC, Syracuse, and several other well-known programs that could probably land a player of Kendrick’s caliber in the next year or two. That leaves the rest of the nation potentially open to Kendrick. While other coaches come to mind such as Bob Huggins particularly during his Cincinnati days as suckers for a reclamation project we suspect that Kendrick will probably be taking a step down in terms of notoriety of the program that he goes to. Our pick? UTEP with Tony Barbee (now Tim Floyd as the former Iowa State/Chicago Bulls/New Orleans Hornets/USC coach) had a modicum of success with Derrick Caracter, a perpetual malcontent, last season and got him to the NBA where is currently on the LA Lakers roster. Caracter may not have had as many altercations with his teammates as Kendrick reportedly has, but he had a well-known reputation for driving his coaches crazy. Having said that there are plenty of other options for Kendrick (and we suspect that he will have no less than 20 offers by the time Monday morning rolls around) and we will be eager to see which coaches would be willing to take a chance on a player with Kendrick’s reputation for a change to work with a player of Kendrick’s ability.

Share this story

Myron Strong Dismissed By UTEP, Leaves Behind Flaming Bridges

Posted by jstevrtc on August 13th, 2010

As if things weren’t already hot enough in Texas this summer, something boiled over at UTEP yesterday as rising senior guard Myron Strong was dismissed from the basketball team by head coach Tim Floyd for, in Strong’s words, “violating dorm rules.”  When Strong communicated with the UTEP blog Miner Rush later on Thursday, though, he mentioned something else that might have had something to do with it:

The coaching in college isn’t fair to me. You know the coaches are gonna bring in who they want to bring in.  I only failed one drug test at UTEP. The first couple days Tim Floyd came to UTEP he tested our squad and the majority of the team failed.

The website pressed him on this issue, and Strong continued his harangue:

As far as the drug test, I’m not giving any names but if I got kicked out because of that, that’s just plain out wrong because I wasn’t the only person who failed. He wanted me out so he did anything in his power to do so. My senior year at that. I never wanted to leave UTEP and plus I failed a drug test months ago, so why am I now all of a sudden off the team? I don’t get Tim Floyd at all. He’s trying to basically ruin my image…

Floyd dismisses Strong, and has some holes to fill at the guard spot.

Strong, who averaged 2.9 PPG, 1.5 RPG and 2.0 APG in 13.3 minutes per game last season as a transfer from the University of San Francisco, continued to slam Floyd and the UTEP staff in that discussion, claiming that Arnett Moutrie and Derrick Caracter were pressured not to even consider testing the NBA waters or they “would not have a scholarship,” and that college coaches “preach to us to do the right thing but they’re the ones breaking all the rules.”  We don’t want to just repeat the whole story from Miner Rush, so go check out the link above after you’re done here.  The blog notes at the end that they’ve asked the UTEP athletic department for a comment but had received nothing.

Unfortunately, that’s not the end of this.  Taking a page out of J.R. Inman’s book, Strong brought up on his Facebook page the relationship between Floyd and former USC guard O.J. Mayo, writing (among other things), “I’m hearing [Floyd] had a fake charity event to pay OJ Mayo $100,000 to play for him. How did the ncaa [sic] let that slide?”

UTEP has been all but silent on the matter, offering little comment other than to say that Strong was dismissed.  But Memphis Commercial-Appeal writer Dan Wolken tweeted yesterday that he had spoken with Floyd, who confirmed that the dismissal was due to the failed drug test.

Strong will attempt to play next season at either Azusa Pacific University in suburban Los Angeles or Victory University in Memphis, according to his comments to Miner Rush.  A comparatively minor (no homophonic pun intended) contributor in the UTEP system, Strong’s ouster nevertheless leaves Tim Floyd with only two returning officially-listed guards who played more than three minutes a game last season, specifically scoring leader Culpepper (17.9 PPG in 33.3 minutes) and fellow senior Christian Polk (9.3 PPG in 24.6 minutes), though junior forward Julyan Stone (6.1 PPG in 30.8 minutes) spent some time at both guard and forward last year.  With Derrick Caracter now a Laker, Arnett Moultrie’s transfer, and now Strong’s removal, Tim Floyd has a team to rebuild, let alone an image that needed repair long before Strong took his complaints to various public forums.

[h/t: VBTN]

Share this story

Comings & Goings: Steve Lavin to St. Johns; Oregon Pursues Izzo

Posted by rtmsf on March 30th, 2010

Pete Thamel of the New York Times is reporting tonight that Steve Lavin is set to be hired at St. John’s soon, as an unnamed source familiar with the proceedings labeled today as a “productive and positive dialogue” between the two parties.  Lavin has spent the last seven seasons as a commentator for ESPN after being fired from UCLA after a disastrous 10-19 season in 2002-03.  He was reportedly close to accepting the NC State position in 2006, but ultimately decided against it to remain in television.  This is a solid hire in our view.  Lavin has name-brand recognition with high school kids who have grown up watching him on ESPN, and he’s always been a strong recruiter anyway.  So long as he can connect with NYC-area kids, he should be successful there.  St. John’s has been down for so long that merely getting to a Sweet Sixteen level of success with regularity would probably give Lavin lifelong job security in Jamaica, NY.  And we’ve always had a bit of feeling that Lavin feels he got a raw deal in Westwood, so he should be all the more motivated to prove his doubters wrong there.

The other big news today was a report out of Eugene that Oregon was prepared to offer Michigan State’s Tom Izzo the richest head coaching contract in college basketball history — greater than Kentucky coach John Calipari’s $32M/8-year deal he received last spring.  Phil Knight is backing the search financially and this squares with the rumors that UO was going to attempt to hire a big name this year.  Izzo said today that he was happy where he’s at, which is currently coaching yet another Spartan team into the Final Four.  It probably won’t be Izzo, but someone will bite on this.  The numbers are simply too large to pass up.

In other coaching carousel news, Marshall’s Donnie Jones has taken the head coaching position at Central Florida.  He replaces Kirk Speraw, who was fired two weeks ago after compiling the all-time wins record in eleven seasons at UCF.  So… does this mean that CUSA FrOY and DPOY Hassan Whiteside is going pro? His mother says that early reports of his going pro are premature and that no decision has yet been made.

We’ve already discussed Kansas center Cole Aldrich and Michigan guard Manny Harris’ decisions to go pro in other spaces, but two other prominent players announced their intentions to go pro today.  Seton Hall sophomore center Herb Pope will test the waters, but is likely to stay in the draft, and UTEP junior center Derrick Caracter will also leave school for professional opportunities.  Pope is projected as a late first rounder, but Caracter at this point is not seen as a legitimate prospect given some of his previous offcourt troubles.

Share this story

Tony Barbee Heading to the Plains of Auburn

Posted by rtmsf on March 24th, 2010

And thus ends those ridiculous rumors of Tubby Smith bolting Minnesota for the basketball backwater of the Plains of Alabama.

Tony Barbee Instructing His Star at UTEP

UTEP’s Tony Barbee will be the next contestant attempting to navigate the football-obsessed geography of the SEC West.  He brings a solid resume to the job, having rebuilt the UTEP program in his four years emphasizing pressure defense with a host of athletic guards and forwards.  Barbee’s record of 82-51 and 39-25 in Conference USA included one conference regular season championship this year in addition to an NCAA appearance last week (the Miners lost to Butler).  What you like if you’re Auburn brass is that his program improved in every one of his four seasons from a losing record in 2006-07 to the point of reaching the Big Dance this year.  He brings a Calipari commitment to defense (as both player from 1987-91 and assistant coach from 1999-2006) and a knack for recruiting to the job — his acceptance of and ability to get former Louisville headache Derrick Caracter to play hard was amazing.

Still, even with Barbee’s pedigree and a new arena to sell on recruits, getting Auburn to the level of a serious player in the SEC West is no easy task.  If you created a list of BCS basketball mediocrity, the War Eagles would undoubtedly rise to the top that list very quickly.  Only four times in the last seventeen years has Auburn won more than 20 games, and yet they’ve never won fewer than 12 in that period.  A typical Tiger season is around 16 total wins, a 6-10 SEC record and a borderline NIT/CBI type of team.  Good enough to pull one upset against the likes of Tennessee?Vandy and the SEC West team du jour in a given season, but never consistent enough to do much more than that.  Part of the reason for this is an almost universal apathy for the basketball program in eastern Alabama — you’d be hard pressed to find a BCS program that cares less about the ‘other’ sport that pays the bills.  We’ve heard anecdotes that many Auburn alumni were angry that the school planned on building a new basketball arena in the first place, instead preferring that the money be spent on upgrading the football program’s facilities.  Furthermore, the level of coaching talent in the SEC West has improved significantly in just the past two years.  Instead of mediocre coaches such as John Brady or Mark Gottfried running the show at LSU and Alabama, respectively, you have up-and-comers Trent Johnson and Anthony Grant at those places.  Rick Stansbury is solid at Mississippi State and Andy Kennedy is steadily improving the Ole Miss program.  The only truly weak link at this point appears to be John Pelphrey at Arkansas.  We’re sure that Barbee will be paid handsomely in his new position at Auburn, but we’re just not sure how successful he can be there.

Share this story

San Jose Pod Daily Diary: 03.18.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2010

Greetings, everyone, from beautiful San Jose, California.  It’s a 75-degree outside the building, but nobody cares about that because it’s time for March Madness, and already across the country today, the games have been insane.  Is there any other sporting event in the world that is so consistently awesome on a year-to-year basis?   I’m going to be updating this diary by the half so as to accord with NCAA policies.  Let me know if you have anything you’d like to know in the comments.

Game 1: #4 Vanderbilt vs. #13 Murray State

1st Half

  • What a crazy early afternoon of games so far – are you kidding me?  Two games in OT and a third down to a last-second shot that missed?  The one thing that I can’t believe the NCAA doesn’t mandate is at least a running scoreboard to keep the fans here abreast of other games.  Because that’s all anyone wants to know about right now is what’s going on in the Villanova – Robert Morris game.
  • Vandy is more athletic than you might think, but Murray is right there with them, jump for jump.  The only real advantage I see Vandy having is a little more size and length inside with 6’11 pair of AJ Ogilvy and Festus Ezeli.
  • This Murray team has the look of a team that won 30 games this year.  They have a swagger and confidence that they belong here and have shown no sense of intimidation against their SEC foes.  There’s a regional rivalry at play here too, as Murray is located squarely in SEC country and surely gets their fill of talk about Kentucky, Vandy and so forth.

Racers Mascot Hyped Up
  • Murray State forward #43 Tony Easley acts as cheerleader/coach when he’s not on the floor, encouraging his teammates, getting in their ears, and greeting them as the first one off the bench during timeouts.  I love seeing that.  Every team needs at least one of those players to keep his teammates honest.
  • Gotta love March Madness when an upset is brewing… the buzz in the room just turns on like a switch, and suddenly 90% of the arena starts looking to buy Murray State t-shirts and caps.
  • In keeping with the style of play of both Murray and Vanderbilt, a lot of players saw action and put up points in the first half.  Murray was led by the electric little guard BJ Jenkins with 9 pts and Vandy by Jeffery Taylor also with 9 pts.  AJ Ogilvy has been largely unheard from in the game (2 pts, 1 reb).

2d Half

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Region by Region Tidbits: 03.17.10

Posted by rtmsf on March 18th, 2010

Each day this week during the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

East Region Notes (Ryan Restivo of SienaSaintsBlog)

  • President Barack Obama picked Kentucky to lose in his bracket’s final game but Coach John Calipari is worried about just getting momentum. “Land the plane. Survive and advance,” Calipari told Chris Low of ESPN. “That’s all we’re thinking about. We’re not worried about the score and who scores and what. Just land the plane and move on.” To that end, East Tennessee State lost by ten to Pitt last year as a #16 seed in the first round. Can they be the first to pull off the historic upset?
  • Perhaps both Texas and Wake Forest should just throw out their recent struggles.
  • Temple is only favored by 4 points over Cornell. Meanwhile Lafayette head coach Fran O’Hanlon has worked with both coaches and is rooting for both.
  • Would professors at Wofford dare to not pick the Terriers over Wisconsin in their office pool? And apparently message boards hounded Badger junior Tim Jarmusz earlier this season as he moved from starting forward to coming off the bench.
  • Washington’s Isaiah Thomas has a broken bone in his shooting hand, which is why he wears a glove.
  • Last year Marquette’s players shaved their heads in solidarity, but this time they got a different haircut.
  • New Mexico’s Darington Hobson is predicting a run to the regional finals. Meanwhile the New York Times has a great profile on Montana’s Anthony Johnson.
  • Is this Mike Anderson’s best coaching job at Missouri?
  • West Virginia is looking to beat Morgan State after losing to Dayton as a #6 seed last year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Region by Region Tidbits: 03.16.10

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2010

Each day this week during the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

South Region Notes (Patrick Sellars)

  • The first “upset” of the tournament occurred in the South Region when SWAC champion Arkansas Pine-Bluff took down the Big South tournament champion Winthrop, 61-44. The Golden Lions earned the right to play top seeded Duke on Friday night.
  • When #9 Louisville takes on #8 California on Friday night, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino says he’ll be ready for the Bears’ “organized chaos.”  There is also an interesting quote in the article from Cardinals’ guard Edgar Sosa that says he has heard Cal referred to as “poor man’s Marquette”.
  • Utah State’s leading scorer, junior guard Tai Wesley, broke his nose in the WAC tournament final on Saturday when the Aggies got pounded by New Mexico State.  He will play in the Aggies’ upcoming game versus Texas A&M, but you have to wonder what kind of effect it will have on USU’s star. On TAMU’s side, they will have Dash Harris back in the lineup after he missed the Big 12 Tournament with a bone bruise in his right wrist. Head coach Mark Turgeon said that if his team wants any chance to win this weekend, they will need Harris healthy.
  • Fran McCaffery is not letting his Siena team think they can beat Purdue by just showing up in Spokane on Friday. He says Purdue is by far the best team Siena will face all season even without Robbie Hummel. You’d have to think a Butler Bulldogs fan would think otherwise.
  • Here is an interesting article from The Times-Picayune which highlights the #3 Baylor vs. #14 Sam Houston State game. Not only are the two teams from Texas, but they have two New Orleans natives returning to their home town for the first round. Star senior guards Tweety Carter (Baylor) and Ashton Mitchell (Sam Houston State) both played their high school ball in The Big Easy.
  • Villanova head coach Jay Wright told the Philadelphia Inquirer about his team’s lackluster play in first round games the past two seasons. Wright said “we’ve survived first-round games, but we really haven’t played well in first-round games.”

East Region Notes (Ryan Restivo of SienaSaintsBlog)

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

First Round Game Analysis: Thursday Afternoon

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2010

Over the next two days in a series of separate posts, RTC will break down all 32 of the first round games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds.  Here are the Thursday afternoon games.

Thursday, March 18 (all times ET)

12:20 pm – #7 BYU vs. #10 Florida  (Oklahoma City pod)

The NCAA Tournament kicks off in style this year with a good first round game from Oklahoma City.  BYU enters the postseason riding the wave of one of its most successful regular seasons in decades, but it won’t matter much if the Cougars can’t slay their old bugaboo of winning a first round game on Thursday afternoon.  The last time BYU won an NCAA opener in 1993, Grant Hill’s high fade was in style and the internet was something employees wore in their hair at fast food joints.  Eight trips later, BYU has by far its best team and chance to end that losing streak.  Jimmer Fredette is the best player casual fans haven’t yet heard of, but his 21/3/5 assts per game and 45% three-point shooting allow for the occasional explosion, as in the cases where he dropped 49 points at Arizona or 45 against TCU just last week in the Mountain West Tournament.  The Cougs’ opponent, Florida, limped into the postseason, having lost four of five games and is a questionable entrant (especially as a #10 seed).  But the Gators are still dangerous, boasting five players who average double figures with an ability to go off at any time.  The most difficult problem Florida will face, though, is how to stop the highly efficient offense that BYU brings to the dusty plains.  Dave Rose’s team shoots well from everywhere on the floor, and the Gator defense has been appropriately described as soft throughout the season, so UF will have to get into a high-scoring shootout to have a chance to outscore the Cougars in this one.

The Skinny: it’ll be difficult for Florida’s defense to slow the offensive talents of Fredette and his Cougars so we’re going with BYU by ten in a shootout.

12:25 pm – #6 Notre Dame vs. #11 Old Dominion  (New Orleans pod)

Everybody knows about the Irish and their response to what was believed to be a potential season-ending injury to their superstar Luke Harangody. After the injury (and during Harangody’s return), the Irish have rebuilt themselves into a better team. We’re not saying they are a better team without Harangody because that would be ridiculous, but the brand of basketball they play when they don’t dump it down to him and watch him go to work is producing better results. They will have their hands full with the CAA champion (both regular season and tournament) Old Dominion. While the Monarchs ended up losing many of the “resume-building” games they played this year, they were competitive in most of them (5-point loss versus Missouri and 9-point loss at Northern Iowa) they also managed to win the biggest game on their schedule at #3-seeded Georgetown. So we know they can hang with a Big East team. Now the question is whether senior Gerald Lee can put it together to lead Blaine Taylor’s squad to an upset in the first game of the NCAA Tournament.  It says here that they can, but the Irish are playing so well that they won’t.

The Skinny: Notre Dame gets enough production from each of its key scorers and is able to clamp down late on Lee and company to eke out a six-point victory.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Bracket Prep: West Region

Posted by rtmsf on March 15th, 2010

This is the third of our four quick-and-dirty region breakdowns. This will serve to help the quick triggers who like to fill out their brackets first thing on Monday morning. For the rest of you, we’ll be providing more detailed game-by-game analysis throughout the rest of the week.

Energy Solutions Arena Hosts the West Regional

Region: West

Favorite: Syracuse, #1 seed, 29-4.  Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse Orange is the favorite in this region by a good margin.  His team has lost their last two games and there are whispers that center Arinze Onuaku may not be available for the first two rounds, but SU is talented enough to survive the first weekend without him (as a comparison, UNC didn’t have Ty Lawson at full strength for the first weekend last year).  K-State is realistically the only team in this region capable of standing toe-to-toe with Syracuse in terms of relative talent, but they play too loosey-goosey to actually beat the Orange.

Should They Falter: Kansas State, #2 seed, 26-7.  Should Syracuse get upset, K-State is in position to take advantage.  With a dynamite backcourt of Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen capable of going off in bunches, the Wildcats could make a run to their first Final Four since the mid-60s.  The quality of talent in this region just isn’t very deep, so outside of Syracuse or K-State, who else could realistically win the requisite four games?

Grossly Overseeded: Vanderbilt, #4 seed, 24-8.  A team that lost to Western Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi State, none of whom are Tourney teams, should not have gotten a protected seed with only a couple of marquee wins this year.

Grossly Underseeded:UTEP, #12 seed, 26-6.  The Miners really didn’t start rolling until they integrated Derrick Caracter into the lineup, but they’ve been fantastic since then.  At worst, this team should have been in the #8-#10 range.  Instead, they’ll get an opportunity to prove themselves against the annual public darling #5 Butler, where Vegas has UTEP as only a 2.5-point underdog.

Sweet Sixteen Sleeper (#12 seed or lower): UTEP.  For the same reasons as above, once UTEP beats Butler, they will also be able to get past #4 Vanderbilt who is probably overseeded, or #13 Murray State, a team they’re simply better than.

Final Four Sleeper (#4 seed or lower): BYU, #7 seed, 29-5.  This is an easy one.  Everyone knows that BYU is murder to play at home, and if the Cougars can get past their first two opponents (Florida and K-State), then they will have as partisan a home crowd as possible in Salt Lake City to play two eastern teams,  either Pitt or Xavier and Syracuse.  The problem for BYU will be getting there.  They’ve had NCAA first round problems for the better part of two decades, and even though they’re much better than their initial opponent Florida, they’ll need to play really well to beat Kansas State.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Live: CUSA Semis – UTEP vs. Tulsa

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2010

The Tulsa Golden Hurricanes are riding a wave of momentum into this semifinal matchup with the UTEP Miners, a wave they hope can carry them all the way to their first CUSA title. UTEP is by far the best team, and they proved that by sweeping the regular season series with Tulsa. However, the Golden Hurricanes have the huge advantage of playing at home in front of their own fans. But if Tulsa wants to defeat the Miners they will need more than just a house full of blue, they will also need a spectacular performance from their star center Jerome Jordan, similar to the game he had last night against Marshall (21 pts, 12 rebs, 4 assists, 3 blocks). His college legacy, along with everyone else on this Tulsa team, will be determined in large part by the outcome of this game. Derrick Caracter is the catalyst for UTEP’s success. If he plays the way he is capable, this team is virtually unstoppable. Will Tulsa overcome the odds and revive this season? Or will they be just another notch in UTEP’s belt? Join us on RTC Live to find out!

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Conference USA Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 9th, 2010

 

Eli Linton is the RTC correspondent for the Summit League and an occasional contributor.  He will be live-blogging some of the key games this weekend from Tulsa at the C-USA Tournament.

Final Standings

  1. UTEP         15-1   (24-5)
  2. Memphis         13-3   (23-8)
  3. UAB           11-5   (23-7)
  4. Marshall          11-5   (23-8)
  5. Tulsa        10-6   (21-10)
  6. Southern Miss       8-8   (18-12)
  7. Houston           7-9   (15-15)
  8. SMU       7-9   (14-16)
  9. UCF         6-10   (14-16)
  10. East Carolina      4-12   (10-20)
  11. Tulane       3-13   (8-21)
  12. Rice         1-15   (7-22)

Conference USA Tournament

This year’s Conference USA tournament is going to be slightly different from the previous years when Memphis was the only horse in this show. Believe it or not, the Tigers are NOT the favorite (that honor would belong to UTEP), and they will be fighting this weekend as a bubble team. Only UTEP has locked down an at-large berth for March Madness. UAB is also considered a bubble team, but at 11-5 in conference, anything short of a championship game showing will likely keep them out.  It is likely that only two teams are coming out alive from C-USA — Memphis and UTEP — but a team like Tulsa (which is essentially playing a home tournament) could pull it together and win (I also have a little faith left for UAB).

Wednesday, March 10- First Round

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ATB: Not Michigan State, Villanova or Tulsa? What?

Posted by rtmsf on March 3rd, 2010

Feeling Title-y.  There were three conference championships won tonight around the nation, and you can count the number of people on one hand who had these three picks back in November.

  • #7 Ohio State 73, Illinois 57.  Evan Turner put in his usual work (16/12/5 assts) for the Buckeyes and Jon Diebler rained seven threes as OSU pulled away in the second half to win at least a share of the Big 10 regular season title.  Both Purdue and Michigan State will need to win both of their remaining games this week to tie the Buckeyes at the top of the standings, but regardless, OSU will be the top seed in next week’s Big 10 Tournament.  If you’re looking for a darkhorse Final Four candidate, look no further than this Buckeye team with NPOY Turner leading the charge.  We heard that they RTC’d tonight in Columbus to celebrate the championship, but we’ve yet to have visual confirmation of this.

Who Had OSU as Big Ten Champs in November? (AP/T. Gilliam)

  • #1 Syracuse 85, St. John’s 66.  Newly-minted #1 Syracuse put five players into double figures in an easy win that captured the Big East regular season title outright tonight.  The Orange were led by Arinze Onuaku’s 21/8 as the senior played in front of his mother for the first time in his career.  SU will now travel to Louisville for a Saturday matchup against one of the two teams that has beaten them this year, while the presumably-motivated Cards will be playing for their postseason lives as they simultaneously close down Freedom Hall.  Will Jim Boeheim’s kids have the focus needed to overcome the expected Cardinal surge with their top seed in the Big East Tournament already sewn up?
  • #21 UTEP 80, Marshall 76.  The Miners clinched the CUSA regular season title with a strong second half showing led by star Randy Culpepper, who poured in 22 of his 31 points after the break.  UTEP has now won thirteen in a row and they’re doing it with great defense and balanced scoring from the aforementioned Culpepper and big men Derrick Caracter (14/9 on the year) and Arnett Moultrie (10/7 on the year).  Marshall’s Hassan Whiteside threw up another ridiculous line (20/14/6 blks), but it wasn’t enough for the Herd, who now drop to 10-5 in the conference.  UTEP is ranked #50 in the RPI, but you’d have to believe a strong showing in next week’s CUSA Tourney will get them in.

Teams That Helped Themselves.  There were a lot more teams that seemed more interested in hurting themselves than helping themselves this evening.

  • Clemson.  The Tigers guaranteed themselves a winning ACC record with tonight’s win over Georgia Tech, in so doing also likely cemented a spot in the NCAA Tournament.  With a win on Saturday at Wake Forest, Clemson will also earn a first-round bye into the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament next week.
  • Marquette.  The Golden Eagles were already in the NCAA Tournament, but their win tonight solidifies things and also gives MU a shot at the prestigious double-bye in the Big East Tourney next week.  Now at 11-6 in conference, they need Pitt to lose twice this week, but at worst with this win Marquette will end up with the #5 seed.
  • Missouri.  Mizzou played with fire in allowing its game with Iowa State to go into overtime, but Zaire Taylor’s driving two at the buzzer gave them the escape they needed to make a claim on third place in the Big 12 standings.  Taylor essentially won the game for the Tigers, with three clutch shots in key situations.  They’ll have an opportunity to make some noise on Saturday when they host Kansas in Columbia.

Teams That Hurt Themselves.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story