Checking In On… the Mountain West

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) on February 11th, 2014

We’re in the back stretch of conference play and, as we have expected for the past couple months, we now have clear separation between the top two teams in the conference – San Diego State and New Mexico, which have combined for only one conference loss – and the rest of the pack. Nevada dropped a pair of road games; UNLV lost on the road; and Wyoming dropped a pair as well, giving the second place Lobos a three-game lead in the loss column over the third-place team. Even more clearly, this looks like a two-bid league come March, barring a big surprise in the conference tournament. The third highest-rated team in the RPI is Boise State, checking in at #68 following a heartbreaker against the Aztecs.

A Dagger Of A Three From Dwayne Polee Leaves Boise State In Dire Straits (Darin Oswald, Idaho Statesman)

A Dagger Of A Three From Dwayne Polee Leaves Boise State In Dire Straits. (Darin Oswald, Idaho Statesman)

Let’s play a fun game of “let’s pretend” and say that the Broncos catch fire, win out in conference play and get to the championship game in Vegas before bowing out to either San Diego State or New Mexico. Never mind that this team hasn’t shown any indication that its capable of that type of streak, but that would put them at 24-10 with a win over New Mexico in the regular season and a win over the Lobos again (although possibly San Diego State) in the MW Tournament semifinal. That would give them two wins over New Mexico as by far their best wins of the season, with Utah – currently ranked #103 in RPI – ranks as their next best win. Not exactly the resume of an NCAA Tournament team.

Team of the Week

San Diego State – In a week where three conference schools scored a road win as part of a 2-0 week, the Aztecs had the most impressive road win by going to Boise State, roaring back from a 13-point deficit in the middle of the second half, then getting a big go-ahead three-pointer from Dwayne Polee with five seconds left to break the Broncos’ spirit. The Aztecs followed that up by coming home and handing it to Nevada in workmanlike fashion while in the process tying a school-record 20-game winning streak.

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Checking in On… the Mountain West

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on January 8th, 2014

After the slowdown around the holidays, the Mountain West is back in full swing. Conference play is underway; everybody has played at least one game against a conference opponent; and San Diego State ended non-conference play on a big high, scoring a thoroughly impressive win at Kansas over the weekend. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s jump right in, after recognizing that right now we have Air Force and Nevada – two teams we have been making fun of all season – tied atop the conference standings with 2-0 records.

Team of the Week

Behind Player Of The Week Xavier Thames, The Aztecs Are Outperforming Their Expectations (Kent Horner, Getty Images)

Behind Player Of The Week Xavier Thames, The Aztecs Are Outperforming Their Expectations (Kent Horner, Getty Images)

San Diego State – The Aztecs got conference play underway well by going on the road to Colorado State, getting a good early start, and then maintaining a solid lead the rest of the way. Then on Sunday, they capped off a dream day for San Diego sports fans, backing up the Chargers’ playoff win with a win of their own at Allen Fieldhouse. They’re not a perfect team, but this squad likes each other, works exceedingly well together, and Steve Fisher is getting every last drop out of it in what is turning out to be yet another masterful coaching job. While we maybe have been a step behind on fully believing in this team, those days are over; the Aztecs are the clear favorite in the Mountain West.

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Morning Five: 01.06.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 6th, 2014

morning5

  1. After pleading guilty to third-degree felony marijuana possession charges on Friday, Utah State star Jarred Shaw was reinstated to the team. Shaw, who was arrested on December had missed five games before his reinstatement. Prior to his arrest and suspension, Shaw was leading the team in points (16.1), rebounds (7.8), and blocks (1.4) per game so this is clearly huge news for the Aggies. The Aggies actually did fairly well during their time without Shaw as they went 4-1 with their only loss coming by one point on the road at Air Force. With Shaw back, they should be competitive with anybody in the Mountain West.
  2. Few college basketball players have been as injury-prone as LIU-Brooklyn star Julian Boyd, who tore his ACL again in non-contact drill the day after Christmas. This injury, which is Boyd’s third, is expected to end Boyd’s college career. Boyd, who was the 2012 NEC Player of the Year, first injured his knee on December 12, 2012 and then re-injured it in July. According to the school, Boyd was close to coming back before his latest setback. While his college career appears to be over, perhaps Boyd, who was averaging 18.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season before injuring his knee, might have a career overseas if he can ever get healthy
  3. Over the weekend our SEC microsite talked about South Carolina’s resurgence. Now they will have try to maintain that without the services of Bruce Ellington, who has opted to forgo his final season of college basketball eligibility to focus on the NFL Draft. Ellington, a two-sport star at South Carolina, averaged 12.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists as a freshman in the 2010-11 season, but has seen his production drop each season as he has spent more time focusing on football. This season, he only played three games (between the end of the regular season and the football team’s bowl game) averaging 5.7 points, 1.7 assists, and 1.3 rebounds per game. Ellington is reportedly a top-20 wide receiver prospect so it certainly makes sense for him to focus on football at this point and not risk an injury playing basketball.
  4. Mitch McGary will undergo back surgery tomorrow, which is expected to keep him out for the rest of the season. As we stated last week the school’s official position is that McGary is “out indefinitely,” but it seems like everybody expects him to be out for the season. In fact, given McGary’s potential NBA future bringing him back this season might even be negligent. For the Wolverines, McGary’s surgery means the end of their hopes of making a run deep into the NCAA Tournament, but they still have enough talent to make the NCAA Tournament.
  5. It didn’t take very long for Indiana transfer Luke Fischer to find a new home as the former Hoosier has decided to transfer to Marquette. Fischer, who grew up about 30 minutes away from the Marquette campus, only averaged 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds in 13 games this season after coming back from a preseason injury. Unlike nearly every other transfer that we have heard of in the past few years it appears that Fischer will not be applying for a hardship waiver of some sort so he will not be eligible to play until next December after sitting out a year.
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Morning Five: 12.30.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 30th, 2013

morning5

  1. Michigan’s dreams of making another March run were dealt a major blow on Friday when the school announced that sophomore Mitch McGary would be out for the rest of the season after electing to have surgery on his lower back. McGary, who was one of the top recruits in the country coming out of high school even after a late slide down the rankings, started slowly as a freshman before turning around things late in the season to become perhaps Michigan’s second most effective player in the run to last season’s title game. Had he elected to enter the NBA Draft there is a good chance he might have been a lottery pick, but slowed by a back injury that had been bothering him since late August he was less effective (9.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game) than the Wolverines would have hoped. Although we have seen college players make some strange decisions we assume that this will probably mean that McGary will return to Michigan next season to prove he is healthy unless some agent convinces him to leave with a guaranteed first round spot.
  2. In a somewhat similar way, but for a completely different reason, we may have seen the last of suspended Utah State forward Jarred Shaw this season after he was charged with felony drug distribution. Shaw, the team’s leading scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker, had already been suspended after police found marijuana after responding to a call at his residence. According to police, the amount of marijuana that they found was “more than personal use.” Given the latest information, we would be surprised if we saw Shaw, a senior, back in an Aggie uniform. Our best guess is that Shaw is headed overseas for a pro career assuming he is not playing in a prison league first.
  3. Seton Hall has already suffered several significant setbacks including both injuries and an Israeli military call-up, but those pale in comparison to what happened to Gene Teague on Friday night. Early in the second half of the team’s win over Lafayette, Teague went up for a lay-up and was undercut by a Lafayette player leading to an ugly fall (video here). Teague was immobilized, put on a stretcher, and taken to a local hospital when he was diagnosed as having suffered a concussion. The overall outcome is somewhat fortunate because based on the way he fell it could have been a lot worse. For now, Teague will be undergoing a series of tests as part of the standard concussion protocol to determine when he is fit to play again.
  4. Many of our younger readers might not be familiar with King Rice, the former North Carolina point guard from 1988-91. If they are familiar with him, it would either be through replays of old games or his history of arrests that continued up through his coaching days. So it was good to read a New York Times profile on Rice that appears to indicate that he may have turned a corner. Now the head coach at Monmouth, Rice has been arrested on several occasions including once as a junior at UNC on charges of assaulting his then-girlfriend, resisting arrest, and destroying public property. Many of Rice’s issues, including that arrest, appear to have revolved around alcohol. According to Rice, he has been sober for 17 years, but as anybody who has ever interacted with an alcoholic knows that can change very quickly so we hope Rice can continue on the new track that he appears to be on.
  5. This season has been a challenging one for Marquette and head coach Buzz Williams so it would not have been entirely shocking to see them try to get heralded freshman Duane Wilson healthy in order to try to salvage the season. Wilson, a top-100 recruit coming out of high school, has been sidelined with a stress fracture in his left leg since the preseason. On Friday, the school announced that Wilson would be taking a medical redshirt. Regardless of the status of Wilson’s recovery, which we have to rely on Marquette’s reports for, it seems like a redshirt is the best option for both parties as we doubt Wilson would have been unable to turn this team around and it seems reckless to throw away a year of eligibility on this Marquette season.
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Checking In On… the Mountain West

Posted by Andrew Murawa on December 24th, 2013

Last year, the Mountain West Conference earned, and received, five bids to the NCAA Tournament. Once there, things did not go as planned, but regardless, it was a good regular season for the conference, with non-conference neutral-site wins over UCLA and Connecticut along with road wins against California, Washington, Creighton, and Cincinnati, plenty of home wins and bad losses being kept to an absolute minimum except for the very bottom of the conference. This year, with some talented players leaving the conference, there was little doubt that a step back was due. But with just four teams currently in the top 100 of the RPI, a couple of teams sitting below 270, and the overall conference RPI ninth in the nation, any prayer of getting five teams dancing again can be forgotten. Now the question is, can they get three?

Team of the Week

Utah State – Slim pickings this week, as it seems like every team that played a halfway decent opponent came away with at least one loss. But the Aggies took care of business at the Basketball Travelers Classic on its own campus. While the bookend wins over Western Illinois and Troy don’t do much for anyone, the middle game, a six-point overtime win over a good UC Santa Barbara team, is a nice accomplishment. Especially considering the fact that the Aggies fought back from an eight-point deficit at the under-four timeout, and did so without center Jarred Shaw, who is suspended indefinitely. More on Shaw below.

Spencer Butterfield Had A Career-High In Helping Utah State Knock Off UC Santa Barbara In Overtime (John Zsiray, AP Photo)

Spencer Butterfield Had A Career-High In Helping Utah State Knock Off UC Santa Barbara In Overtime (John Zsiray, AP Photo)

Player of the Week

Larry Nance, Jr, Junior, Wyoming – The Cowboys have taken two losses in a span of three games since we last did this, but that isn’t Nance’s fault. Against Denver last weekend, Nance broke out for a career-high 38 points on 15/21 shooting, adding 12 boards for good measure. Then on Friday, against Southern Methodist, he backed that up with 16 points, 13 boards and three blocks. And last night he had 29 points on 14 field goal attempts, while grabbing 13 boards and blocking three shots against Northern Colorado. All told, that’s 27.7 PPG, 12.7 RPG, 2 BPG, and a 72.8 eFG% in those three games.

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Morning Five: 12.17.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 17th, 2013

morning5

  1. It turns out that we might never see this Florida team at full strength. After appearing to turn the corner both on the court and off of it with players returning from injury and enrolling in school, it appears that the Gators will be without South Carolina transfer Damontre Harris, who has been suspended since the start of the season for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. According to Billy Donovan, Harris has not demonstrated the necessary changes to lead him back to the team and Donovan said, “I don’t ever anticipate him playing here at Florida.” Although the Gators could certainly use some interior depth (Harris averaged 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game during the 2011-12 season at South Carolina) they are probably more focused on getting Chris Walker eligible as he represents a bigger potential impact than what could be expected of Harris.
  2. We formally jumped on the Iowa bandwagon almost a month ago and now Dan Hanner is offering some advanced metrics to explain why you should believe in both Iowa and Iowa State. As Hanner notes, the Hawkeyes’ improvement in efficiency margin during Fran McCaffery’s has been remarkable and both teams are among the best in the nation in Sagarin’s margin-of-victory based predictor. Perhaps the most interesting part of Hanner’s column is about coaches whose teams peak early. Many of the names on the list consist of coaches who are often criticized, which is not too surprising, but one name on the list–Mike Krzyzewski–jumps out. Those who pay attention during the season and are able to analyze without being influenced by the Duke mystique will not be shocked by the result, but it is still interesting to see it put into numbers.
  3. North Carolina State transfer and former top-20 recruit Rodney Purvis will undergo arthroscopic surgery later today for a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Purvis, who averaged 8.3 points per game last season, is sitting out this year at Connecticut after his transfer. According to reports, Purvis has been bothered by the injury since he was in high school so the timing of his surgery works out well since he is expected to take four to five months to recover from the surgery. Our only question is why he waited until the end of the semester to have the surgery if he had dealing with the issue that long since this will basically mean he is ready in time for off-season workouts rather than having a chance to be in shape several months earlier.
  4. Normally there is never a good time to get suspended indefinitely (ok, maybe the offseason when your team starts against a tough early schedule), but Utah State might actually catch a bit of break with the timing of its indefinite suspension of Jarred Shaw, its leading scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker. Shaw, who is averaging 16.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game, was suspended for the popular undisclosed violation of team rules. The Aggies have a very manageable schedule until January 15 when they start a difficult two-week stretch so if they can find a way to get Shaw back by then they still could be in position to contend for an at-large bid even with a month-long absence from their best player.
  5. Yesterday, former UNLV forward Savon Goodman was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and must pay $1,370 in restitution after entering into a plea deal on larceny and trespassing charges. Goodman was accused of entering a “friend’s” apartment and stealing a pair of LeBron X sneakers, $500, and 26 video games. Goodman was able to get the charges down from grand larceny, burglary, and conspiracy to commit burglary to misdemeanor petty larceny and trespassing. Goodman left the UNLV program in October and given his skill level we would not be surprised to see him pop up somewhere else soon.
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Checking In On… the Mountain West

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) on November 19th, 2013

Last year about this time, the Mountain West’s record as a collective was 27-3. Sure, there wasn’t a large number of top shelf wins among those 27, but they were wins. This year the teams are a combined 19-12. UNLV lost by 21 at home to UC Santa Barbara. Colorado State got drilled by 32 at Gonzaga. Nevada lost at home to Pacific. Fresno State lost by 21 at Pitt. Air Force has lost to Jackson State and VMI. And newcomer San Jose State has lost to everybody it has faced, and that certainly hasn’t been a murderer’s row. Last year, the conference as a whole rode its strong RPI numbers, built up by a collection of a mostly good teams, to a best-ever five NCAA Tournament bids. This year, it remains to be seen just how good teams the teams at the top are, while the middle of the conference seems significantly weaker than it was last year, and the bottom of the conference even worse. Too long, didn’t read? The takeaway is there isn’t a chance in a million that the Mountain West sends five teams dancing this year.

Team of the Week

Utah State – The Aggies are one of the newcomers in the conference, but they’re off to a fine start, having won all three of their games including one over USC and another over that UCSB team that beat up on MW heavyweight UNLV. Behind veteran trio Spencer Butterfield, Preston Medlin and Jarred Shaw, Utah State looks like it will have an easy transition to its new conference.

Cameron Bairstow Has Been On Fire Out Of The Gate For the Lobos (Eric Draper, AP Photo)

Bairstow Has Been On Fire Out Of The Gate For the Lobos (Eric Draper, AP Photo)

Player of the Week

Cameron Bairstow, Sr, New Mexico – There may not be a player in the country who has improved as much as Bairstow in his four years in Albuquerque. As a freshman, he was notable only for his below-the-rim, scrappy style, as he averaged fewer than 10 minutes per game and fewer than three points per outing. But thus far this season, the 6’9” Aussie has been almost unstoppable, averaging 25.5 points, eight rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game, all while shooting 78.3 percent from the field. Oh, and not to be outdone, his frontcourt mate Alex Kirk has double-doubled in both his games on the way to 20 points and 12 rebounds per game averages.

Newcomer of the Week

Paul Watson, Fr, Fresno State – The 6’6” freshman out of Phoenix doesn’t have the type of body yet to lead you to believe he would succeed playing up front in major college basketball. But out of necessity, Watson has been forced to play the role of a big man for the Bulldogs. And, so far so good, as he’s averaged five rebounds a night, has scored both around the basket and from deep, and has eaten up minutes. There’s a big future for this Dog.

Power Rankings

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Not-So-Rushed Reaction: Utah State 71, UC Santa Barbara 64

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) on November 1st, 2013

Andrew Murawa is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after the Utah State vs. UC Santa Barbara game Saturday night.

Here are four quick thoughts on Utah State’s seven-point win at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday night:

  1. It was a big disappointment that UCSB big man Alan Williams was a late scratch for Saturday night’s game following a bout of back spasms suffered in pregame warm-ups. Having averaged 24 points and 13 boards in his first two games this year, including a 21-point win over UNLV, Williams had six NBA scouts in attendance to see him go up against Utah State’s own big-time center in the long and athletic Jarred Shaw. Minus Williams the Gauchos got hammered on the boards, but still played well enough to keep it a game throughout. And, the good news is that UCSB will get another crack at the Aggies, next time hopefully with Williams, as the two schools will play again on December 20 in Logan as part of the Basketball Travelers Classic.

    Alan Williams Sat Out Saturday Night's Game Following An Ill-Timed Bout With Back Spasms (Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

    Alan Williams Sat Out Saturday Night’s Game Following An Ill-Timed Bout With Back Spasms (Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

  2. The Aggies got eight threes and a combined 34 points from senior wings Preston Medlin and Spencer Butterfield, and they certainly impressed with their versatility. Both are able to handle the ball well, defend on the perimeter, help out on the glass, and, of course, score. But despite a roster deep with passable ballhandlers, the UCSB press gave the Aggies trouble down the stretch. While there are a lot of skilled perimeter guys on this team, there remain questions about the point guard duo of TeNale Roland and Marcel Davis. Read the rest of this entry »
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Utah State and Idaho: A WAC Rivalry Shuts Its Doors

Posted by CNguon on February 1st, 2013

Kenny Ocker is a Northwest-based journalist who filed this report after Utah State played Idaho at the Cowan Spectrum in Moscow.

No conference has been more drastically affected by the conference-realignment carousel than the WAC. It has been gutted over the years, first losing Arizona and Arizona State in the late 1970s, then the entire Mountain West in the mid-1990s. Each time, the WAC managed to find new members and persevere, but each time that took a little more of the conference’s luster. But this most recent time may be what takes the WAC down to the also-ran level of the Big West or Big Sky, instead of the mid-sized conference it once was.

And each time, it was tied to football.

Idaho looks to be the biggest victim of this maneuvering, and their current conference rival, Utah State, is partially to blame by taking the void in the Mountain West left by Beehive State brethren BYU and Utah. That move, among others, has left the WAC canceling football and Idaho as an independent. In basketball, it works out much better for the Aggies as well; coach Stew Morrill has long been hesitant to schedule games against teams that won’t play return games in Logan, but that won’t crush his team’s at-large chances anymore now that he will play in a league where top-50 RPI wins can be had regularly. And for the Vandals, it again works out terribly, as they lose the one team they’ve had a consistent geographic rivalry against for more than a decade, especially given the states’ cultural similarities and the school’s similar agriculture roots. (Sure, Seattle may be physically closer to Moscow than Logan, Utah, but the only similarity between the schools is a time zone.)

Utah State big man Jarred Shaw was just a little too much to handle for the Vandals' defense (hjnews.com)

Utah State big man Jarred Shaw was just a little too much to handle for the Vandals’ defense (hjnews.com)

But for one night, anyway, when Utah State ran away, Idaho did something about it. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Other 26: You Will Be Entertained

Posted by IRenko on January 19th, 2013

I. Renko is an RTC columnist. He will kick off each weekend during the season with his analysis of the 26 other non-power conferences. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

After a one-week hiatus, we are back and just in time for a veritable orgy of great college hoops matchups today.  Yes, there is Louisville v. Syracuse, Florida v. Missouri, Oregon v. UCLA, and Ohio State v. Michigan State.  But things get no less interesting as you move down to the mid-major level, where several compelling matchups featuring conference contenders will unfold.  Before we get to the Top 10, let’s take a look at what’s on tap today:

  • Gonzaga at Butler — The nation’s two Cinderella darlings will square off at the storied Hinkle Fieldhouse in a made-for-TV (yes, ESPN College Gameday will be in the house) contest.  It will be the final game of Gonzaga’s non-conference schedule and, arguably, its toughest.  The loss of Rotnei Clarke to a frightening neck injury will take some of the luster off of this matchup, as Butler will be playing without their leading scorer.  The task will be no easier on the other end of the Court, as the Bulldogs will have to contend with a potent Gonzaga frontcourt, led by 7-footer Kelly Olynyk, who has emerged into a bona fide All-American candidate.  But as we all know, being the underdog suits Brad Stevens just fine.
  • Creighton at Wichita StateDoug McDermott has wowed the nation over the past week with a pair of 30-point games, and between his dominance and Creighton’s three-point shooting, the Bluejays’ offense has become quite difficult to stop.  But if there’s a team in the MVC who can do it, it’s Wichita State.  The Shockers have the best defense in the league, which will have the added boost of a raucous home crowd for this premier matchup.  The Shockers’ strong, quick guards will challenge Creighton at the other end, and Cleanthony Early might prove a tough matchup for McDermott.  Carl Hall is also back in the lineup for the Shockers, so both teams will be at full strength.
Siyani Chambers Is Having An Outstanding Freshman Year (Anthony Nesmith/CSM/Cal Sport Media/AP Images)

Siyani Chambers Is Having An Outstanding Freshman Year (Anthony Nesmith/CSM/Cal Sport Media/AP Images)

  • Harvard at Memphis — With Conference USA muddling through a down year, this could be be Memphis’ toughest opponent of the 2013 calendar year.  The Crimson have turned in a quality season despite the unexpected one-year withdrawals of senior leaders Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey due to an academic cheating scandal.  Much of the credit for that goes to freshman point guard Siyani Chambers, who is fifth in the country in minutes per game.  Tommy Amaker has put a great deal of faith in the young man, but he has rewarded him with a 31% assist rate, 50% three-point shooting average, and 88% FT shooting average.  Chambers will lock horns with Joe Jackson, who has steadied himself this season to become a reliable scorer and team leader.  The senior point guard has hit double-digits in points in 12 straight games, the longest mark of his college career.
  • Western Illinois at North Dakota State — North Dakota State has been one of the great underreported stories of the season, rolling up a 16-3 record and supplanting South Dakota State as the Summit League’s favorite.  But Western Illinois has also creeped to the top of the league standings, just a game behind NDSU at 6-1.  The Leathernecks are led by an inside-out combo of big man Terrell Parks (13.9 ppg, 9.4 rbg) and do-everything senior guard Ceola Clark.  Clark is an excellent defender, and he’ll need to be at his best to help stop a North Dakota State that is a well-oiled, methodical, efficient machine.  Marshall Bjorkland, the Bison’s 6-8 junior, is arguably the most efficient scorer in the country.  He leads the nation in effective FG percentage (72.4%) and is fourth in true shooting percentage (71.2%).
  • Utah State at Denver — Louisiana Tech remains at the top of the WAC standings after holding off Idaho on Thursday night, but these two squads are just one loss behind them.  So tonight’s game has a lot riding on it.  Expect a low-scoring contest between two of the lowest tempo teams in the country.  Royce O’Neale and Chris Udofia lead Denver’s Princeton offense, which wears down opponents with movement and relies heavily on the three-point shot.  Utah State will look to Preston Medlin, who leads the team with 16.3 points per game, and center Jarred Shaw who gets lots of touches in Stew Morrill’s offense. 
  • College of Charleston at Davidson — Charleston will have a chance to move into a tie atop the Southern Conference South standings with a win at Davidson.  They’ll be led by their backcourt combo of Andrew Lawrence and Anthony Stitt, while their hosts will rely more heavily on their frontcourt tandem of De’Mon Brooks and Jake Cohen.  Davidson can fall in love with the three-point shot to their detriment.  They’re better when they get the ball to the versatile Brooks and Cohen.  Getting the ball in the basket won’t be easy against Charleston, which has a pretty good defense anchored in the middle by Adjehi Baru.
  • Belmont v. Tennessee State – You would think that this game between the OVC’s two undefeated teams would lose its luster with the absence of Tennessee State’s star big man, Robert Covington, except for one thing — they’ve won every one of their six OVC games without him.  Covington went down with a torn meniscus in a December 18 trip to Middle Tennessee State that the Tigers went on to lose by 38 points.  At that point, they were 5-7 on the season but they’ve reeled off seven straight since and now sit atop the OVC East standings.   But they may need more than the Ewing Effect when they travel across town to face off with Belmont.  The switch from the A-Sun to the OVC hasn’t dimmed the Bruins’ ability to dominate their conference competition.

So there it is, a day-long feast for the glutton who craves mid-major hoops.  We move on, now, to the updated Top 10 rankings, our weekly (starting this week) Honor Roll, and a few more games to keep an eye on as the week unfolds.

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