O26 Weekly Awards: BYU, Derrick Marks, Bruiser Flint & Southern Miss…

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 3rd, 2015

Throughout the season, the Other 26 microsite will run down our weekly superlatives, including team, player, coach and whatever else strikes our fancy in that week’s edition.

O26 Team of the Week

BYU pulled off a stunner in Spokane. (Young Kwak / AP)

BYU pulled off a stunner in Spokane. (Young Kwak / AP)

BYU. Want to know how to get back in the NCAA Tournament discussion? Beat the third-ranked team in the country on its own floor. Snap its nation-leading 41-game home winning streak. Ruin its chance for a No. 1 seed. That might do it. Not only was BYU’s 73-70 victory over Gonzaga on Saturday one of the biggest victories in program history, it put the Cougars right back on the right side of the bubble – a residence they had not visited in weeks. Point guard Kyle Collinsworth led the way for Dave Rose’s club, scoring 20 points, securing eight rebounds (six offensive) and coming up with two huge steals, his aggressive play setting the tone from the outset. “We made a lot of mistakes but we were so energized with each play on both offense and defense,” Rose said of his team afterward. BYU held Bulldogs forward Kyle Wiltjer – likely the WCC Player of the Year – to just four points and never enabled Gonzaga to assemble a serious run. After picking up a solid road win at Portland earlier in the week, the Cougars are now projected to be in the field of 68 by numerous prognosticators. A run to the WCC Tournament title game would probably be enough to guarantee BYU a bid come Selection Sunday. As for Collinsworth’s thoughts on the NCAA Tournament committee and his team’s fate: “I’ll let them decide.”

Honorable Mentions: Boise State (2-0: vs. New Mexico, at San Diego State); Wichita State (2-0: at Indiana State, vs. Northern Iowa); Davidson (2-0: at Rhode Island, vs. George Washington); Northern Illinois (2-0: at Toledo, vs. Central Michigan); UC Santa Barbara (2-0: vs. UC Davis, vs. UC Irvine)

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O26 Weekly Awards: Pepperdine, Keifer Sykes, James Whitford & Miami (OH)…

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on January 13th, 2015

Throughout the season, the Other 26 microsite will run down our weekly superlatives, including team, player, coach and whatever else strikes our fancy in that week’s edition.

O26 Team of the Week

Pepperdine. Entering last week, you know how many WCC teams had beaten BYU in the Marriott Center since it joined the conference in 2012? Four, and Pepperdine wasn’t one of them. In fact, the Waves had lost their previous three contests there by an average of 25 points per game. So when Marty Wilson’s team went to Provo and beat the Cougars in wire-to-wire fashion on Thursday night, yeah, it was kind of a big deal. The six-point win turned heads and garnered Pepperdine some positive national attention for the first time in a long while (the game was on ESPNU). And as for the Waves’ encore victory at San Diego on Saturday? That win may have propelled Wilson’s club into the upper echelon of the conference.

Pepperdine stunned BYU in the Marriott Center on Thursday. (AP Photo/The Daily Herald, Ian Maule)

Pepperdine stunned BYU in the Marriott Center on Thursday. (AP Photo/The Daily Herald, Ian Maule)

Defense has been Pepperdine’s M.O. this season and it put that stinginess on full display against BYU. The Waves, which entered the contest tops in the country at taking away the three-point line, held the oft-scorching Cougars (15-of-28 threes in their previous game) to just 23 percent (6-of-26) from behind the arc. BYU’s high-scoring, hyper-efficient attack had trouble finding consistent offense all night long, ultimately winding up tied for its lowest point total of the season (61 points). “We talked about our discipline and our toughness and we showed that from the tip,” Wilson said afterwards. Yet, his best coaching move of the night had nothing to do with an instilled mindset or strong defensive principles. Instead, it was probably his decision to bring top scorer and rebounder Stacy Davis (15.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG) off the bench for the first time. The 6’6’’ junior responded with a 23-point, eight-rebound performance that included a couple big free throws to ice the game. “They got us a little bit out of rhythm and they got us to take tougher shots out of our sets,” BYU guard Anson Winder said after the game, summing it up perfectly. “They scored on the other end and it’s hard to beat a team when you can’t stop them from scoring.”

But Pepperdine wasn’t done. Despite having not won back-to-back WCC road games since 2007, the Waves promptly travelled to San Diego two days later, put forth another excellent defensive effort and beat the Toreros by 12. No San Diego player – not even Johnny Dee, the conference’s fourth-leading scorer – ended up with double figures, as Bill Grier’s crew mustered only 0.75 points per possession. In a matter of three days, the team that had been picked seventh in the preseason outdid the second and fifth-place picks in their own gymnasiums. Now at 4-1 in WCC play and cracking the top-100 in KenPom, Pepperdine appears to have staying power among the top half of the WCC.

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MAC Primer: Sifting Through a Crowded Pack of Contenders

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on January 2nd, 2015

According to KenPom’s average efficiency rankings, the MAC is currently the 12th-best conference in college basketball, behind the Mountain West and Missouri Valley and just ahead of the Ivy League and Big West. But unlike most other mid-major conferences in its class – Harvard in the Ivy; Wichita State in the MVC; Green Bay in the Horizon – there’s no clear-cut favorite, or even clear pecking order in the MAC; seven of its top eight teams are ranked within 57 spots of each other. As conference play tips off this weekend, let’s take our best shot at separating true East and West Division contenders from those squads likely to fade in the muddled MAC pack. Remember, the top two seeds in this league receive a triple-bye in the MAC Tournament.

Teams to Believe In: MAC East

Justin Moss and the Buffalo Bulls should compete for the MAC East crown. (Chad Cooper, The Spectrum)

Justin Moss and the Buffalo Bulls should compete for a MAC East crown. (Chad Cooper, The Spectrum)

  • Buffalo. Buffalo lost three seniors from last season’s 19-10 unit, including MAC Player of the Year Javon McCrea, yet – at 8-3 – looks to be legitimate. The Bulls are currently the conference’s highest-ranked unit in both KenPom and Sagarin (71st and 49th, respectively) with its three losses all coming on the road to respectable opponents – including Kentucky and Wisconsin, of which it led both at halftime. Bobby Hurley’s defense is much-improved from an efficiency standpoint (allowing well under a point per possession), and big man Justin Moss has almost immediately morphed into a poor man’s (or even a middle-class man’s) McCrea, averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds per contest. Likewise, guard Lamonte Bearden has emerged as one of the conference’s top freshmen (9.4 PPG, 4.0 APG). And while Jarryn Skeete’s scorching-hot three-point shooting (50% 3FG) may come back to earth a bit (the guard has missed the last two games with an injured ankle), the fact that preseason all-MAC East forward Will Regan has considerably underperformed to this point makes offensive improvement seem more likely than regression.

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We Salute You: Paying Homage to the Nation’s Winless Teams in League Play

Posted by Kenny Ocker (@kennyocker) on February 4th, 2014

Kenny Ocker (@kennyocker) is a national columnist for Rush The Court and spent way too much time on these articles.

With the calendar turned to February and the meat of conference play upon us, the most dominant and least effective teams are showing their colors against equal competition. And with the halfway point of conference season rapidly approaching for many – and already here for others – now is a good time to take stock of both teams that are undefeated in conference and those who have yet to win a game. Today’s installment takes a look at the less fortunate teams among us, ranked from least to most likely to not win a game in conference play.

Note: All statistics dutifully harvested from kenpom.com.

Princeton (12-5, 0-3 Ivy League)

T.J. Bray and Princeton winless? Probably not. (AP)

Although things have been a struggle lately for T.J. Bray and Princeton, the chances of the Tigers going winless is zero. (AP)

  • Odds: 0.0 percent chance to go winless
  • Most likely wins: February 8 at home vs. Cornell, 97 percent; March 7 at Cornell, 91 percent
  • Biggest strengths: Top 15 in field-goal shooting, top 10 in defensive rebounding nationally
  • Achilles’ heel: Field-goal defense in bottom 100 nationally
  • Key player: Senior guard T.J. Bray (17.8 points per game, 5.7 assists per game, 55 percent field goal shooting; the nation’s most efficient player to use more than 20 percent of available possessions.)
  • Outlook: Perhaps it’s not fair to start off with an Ivy League team, given that the Tigers are only three games into their conference slate. But few teams have had more surprising collapses than Princeton, which squandered a 9-2 non-conference slate and talk of a possible two-bid Ivy League by losing games against Penn, Harvard and Dartmouth. Here’s the thing: Each game was on the road; Penn is an ancient rival; Harvard has athletes unlike the conference has seen in a generation; and Dartmouth, well, there’s probably not a ready-made excuse for that one, although it did happen in overtime. To get an NCAA Tournament bid now, though, the Tigers have to sweep their next 11 games and hope the Crimson lose twice aside from the teams’ head-to-head February 22 matchup, and then beat them in a one-game neutral-site playoff. That’s a tall order, even for one of the nation’s best offenses, and the one that shoots more three-pointers than any other. But failing to win a game in the Ivy League is not in question here. Read the rest of this entry »
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O26 Buzz: This Week’s Top Storylines

Posted by Nicholas Patrick on December 13th, 2013

Every Friday throughout the rest of the season, the Other 26 Microsite will dig into some of the top storylines featuring those leagues from the previous week. 

1. O26 Teams Make Statements Against Power Conference Teams

George Washington's Joe McDonald and Maurice Creek turned heads with a buzzer-beating win at Maryland (washingtontimes.com)

George Washington’s Joe McDonald and Maurice Creek turned heads with a buzzer-beating win at Maryland (washingtontimes.com)

  • Saturday: New Mexico cruises at home, handing Cincinnati its first loss, 63-54; Green Bay’s Greg Mays and Keifer Sykes each contribute 20+ points to defeat Virginia, 75-72
  • Sunday: Maurice Creek’s buzzer-beater lifts George Washington to a big win at Maryland, 77-75

  • Tuesday: After trailing nearly the entire game, Gonzaga surged ahead late to win at West Virginia, 80-76
  • Wednesday: North Dakota State’s Marshall Bjorklund scored 26 points to lead the Bison over Notre Dame, 73-69

Near misses: Arizona 63, UNLV 58; Xavier 85, Bowling Green 73 (OT); Washington State 67, Idaho 66; Kansas State 64, South Dakota 62; Xavier 63, Evansville 60.

2. Chances For More Statements to Come

With only a few weeks remaining before conference play gets into full swing, opportunities are winding down for Other 26 teams to trip up power conference opponents. Some of this week’s most intriguing match-ups:

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Big East M5: 12.05.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on December 5th, 2012

  1. St. John’s 81-65 loss on the road at San Francisco may have seemed like just another non-conference game in preparation for the Big East gauntlet which kicks off in early January. To Steve Lavin, though, this game meant a whole lot more. Steve’s father Cap Lavin played guard at San Francisco in the early 1950s, and was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in 1997. With his son’s trip out west, the school honored Lavin at halftime. San Francisco Chronicle writer Steve Kroner’s piece on this father-son relationship is an excellent read. Where many sporting parents may push their children towards athletics, Cap never put any pressure on Steve, but instead made sure that his career goal of becoming a basketball coach wasn’t him taking “the path of least resistance.” Steve’s relationship with Cap was also instrumental in helping him triumph in his recent bout with prostate cancer.
  2. The Big East Tournament has always been a big event for Connecticut faithful, and this spring’s tournament, with the impending departure of rivals Syracuse and Pittsburgh, promised to be even more meaningful… until, of course, UConn was banned from all postseason play for poor APR scores. School president Susan Herbst is still fighting the ruling, citing the school’s stronger, more recent APR scores as evidence that the program has learned and improved upon past academic failures. Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs theorizes that if UConn wants to overcome the “chaos” that has befallen the program and be readmitted to the Big East Tournament — and on a larger scale, be seen as having a strong athletic department again — they need to quiet Jim Calhoun. As we discussed in yesterday’s Big East M5, Calhoun recently stated that he would “never say never” in ruling out a return to coaching. Jacobs believes that Calhoun’s thirst for attention, which doesn’t seem to have dissipated even after his very public and odd retirement, is undermining the program.
  3. While the Syracuse low-post trio of Rakeem Christmas, Dajuan Coleman, and Baye Moussa Keita have combined for a solid 18.2 points, 15.6 rebounds, and nearly four blocks per game this season, Jim Boeheim still believes that this group is the one that must progress the most if the team wants to make a championship run this season. The Orange’s 2-3 zone has been especially active and long this season to the tune of 81 steals through six games, but their corresponding interior defense has been a bit weak at times. Boeheim is worried that a good mid-range jump shooter or a strong offensive big man could do some damage against his defense. Syracuse could also use a strong presence inside on offense when the shooting stroke from outside runs cold, as it did for stretches against Eastern Michigan on Monday.
  4. USF (the Big East one this time) seems to be gaining its sea legs after a rough few games to start the year, and are prepared to take on #23 Oklahoma State in Stillwater tonight. One can point to the improved health of Anthony Collins as one reason for the Bulls’ improved play. After missing a game against Stetson due to a lingering calf injury, Collins had one of his best games of the year against Georgia, scoring 17 points and adding 10 assists. A win in Stillwater would give USF a solid non-conference road win, and re-energize the thoughts of a second straight NCAA Tournament berth. After the Oklahoma State game, USF has a 13-day break to focus on practice and schoolwork, so look for the Bulls to come out with a very strong effort knowing that rest is on the way.
  5. Pittsburgh could get back junior swingman Trey Zeigler as early as tonight for the Panthers’ City Game against Duquesne. Zeigler, who transferred from Central Michigan after his father Ernie was fired as head coach, was charged with a DUI on November 26 and was suspended indefinitely from the team. The scoring guard was a highly recruited player coming out of high school and had averaged 6.2 points per game for Pitt before his suspension — during his two years with the Chippewas, he averaged around 16 points per game so he could provide a great offensive spark for the Panthers if he gets back into a rhythm.
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Big East M5: 11.20.12 Edition

Posted by Will Tucker on November 20th, 2012

  1. The shockwaves from yesterday’s shift in conference plate tectonics continue to reverberate across the college landscape today, as Rutgers will accept an invitation to the Big Ten during a 3 PM press conference. The announcement marks an abrupt end to a conference affiliation that began in 1991. Piscataway brass hopes to circumvent the 27-month notice stipulated in Big East bylaws by negotiating a higher exit fee in order to join the Big Ten in 2014. While there’s been a lot of speculation floating around about the myriad ways this move will fill Rutgers’ athletic coffers and bolster its football profile, little attention has been paid to the changes awaiting Mike Rice’s basketball program. But one New Jersey journalist claims that both sides are in talks to preserve the Seton Hall-Rutgers rivalry, so there’s that.
  2. Although his team is currently struggling with a staggering lack of depth from injuries, Ed Cooley received some measure of relief yesterday when four-star Philadelphia forward Brandon Austin committed to the Friars. Cooley beat out finalists UConn and Texas, though the former Penn State commitment also held offers from Georgetown and UCLA, among others. With the talented 6’6″ wing entering the fold alongside Kris Dunn, LaDontae Hinton, Bryce Cotton, Kadeem Batts and Ricky Ledo (should he decide not to enter the NBA Draft), the stars might finally align for Cooley’s Friars to break out in 2013-14.
  3. While Big East teams have turned in several notable early duds, no other team has been as disappointing as South Florida through the first two weeks. After being blown out by UCF in their home opener and suffering an ugly 58-53 defeat at home against Central Michigan on Sunday, USF has matched last season’s total number of losses in the Sun Dome in the first nine days of their schedule. Weeding through the discouraging statistics, several things stand out. Despite their coach’s emphasis on rebounding, USF was outworked on the boards by a wide margin (39-26) by a MAC team. The team ranks 14th in the Big East in field goal percentage, after shooting 23% in the second half against Central Michigan. And if a career-best 12 assists from Anthony Collins isn’t enough to lift USF above a 10-point underdog at home, Bulls fans might be in for a long season. Stan Heath’s squad, which was predicted to place in the middle of the Big East pack this year coming off a historic top-four finish last season, could accrue quite a few losses before it even enters conference play.
  4. In the face of fervent hype surrounding the collegiate debut of UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad, an unfazed Georgetown squad jaunted up I-95 to Brooklyn and handled its business last night against the 13th-ranked Bruins, 78-70. The Washington Post’s Liz Clark makes a case that Otto Porter proved himself “the more valuable and versatile man” as he returned from the head injury he suffered in Georgetown’s opener to spoil the inaugural game of the Shabazz era. RTC’s own Brian Otskey suggests that the culture of consistent success John Thompson III has cultivated at Georgetown is “one of the underappreciated stories in college basketball”. While Thompson’s groups haven’t finished in the Big East’s top four since 2008, he has quietly groomed even his least talented rosters into dangerous, fundamentally-sound tournament teams. The Hoyas will try to sustain that discipline as they take on #1 Indiana in the championship game of the Legends Classic tonight.
  5. Lastly, reports confirmed last night that Louisville and North Carolina have agreed to join the field of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament next season. They will join Richmond, Holy Cross, and Belmont, among others. It will be the first time the Heels and Cardinals have met on the hardwood since the 2008 Elite Eight. Rick Pitino’s team, which will likely return almost all of this year’s underclassman-laden roster, will have the unique opportunity to play Duke and North Carolina on a neutral floor in back-to-back seasons.
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2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: Mid-American Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 16th, 2012

Ethan Back is the MAC correspondent for RTC.

Top Storylines

  • Will Ohio Be Able to Reach the Sweet Sixteen Again? After an extremely successful season that ended in an overtime loss in the Sweet Sixteen against ACC power North Carolina, Ohio will look to make another deep NCAA Tournament run. The Bobcats have a lot of hype to live up to, as they return all of their significant contributors from a season ago, including standouts D.J. Cooper and Walter Offutt. Not all of the personnel returns from a season ago, however, with former head coach John Groce now at Illinois, but new head coach Jim Christian will look to keep momentum going.

Ohio’s D.J. Cooper Hopes To Follow One Head-Turning Season With Another. (AP Photo/T. Dejak)

  • Toledo’s Postseason Ban: Toledo has a very solid core intact from the 2011-12 season, so it’s a real shame that the Rockets won’t be able to qualify for postseason play due to its academic problems. Luckily for the Rockets, two of its best players (Rian Pearson and Julius Brown) are underclassmen, so they’ll still get a chance to win the MAC Tournament in future years, assuming they stay in school beyond the 2012-13 season.
  • East vs. West: Last season, the East had five teams finish with a winning record, whereas the West had a measly one. This clear imbalance within the MAC doesn’t have serious ramifications, as the conference tournament seeds are not based on division, but for the sake of self-respect, the West will hope to have a better season than it did last year.
  • No More Zeiglers: Winning games hasn’t been an easy task for Central Michigan these past two seasons, as its 12-20 conference record during that span indicates. It won’t be any easier this year after the firing of head coach Ernie Zeigler led to the transfer of his son and the Chippewas’ leading scorer Trey Zeigler to Pittsburgh. New head coach Keno Davis brings great experience to the program, but his first season on the job will likely be a rough one.

Reader’s Take I

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Big East Summer Capsules: Pittsburgh Panthers

Posted by mlemaire on July 20th, 2012

While most relish the onset of Summer, college basketball junkies do not. Most of the news surrounding the sport is recruiting rumors and commitments or injuries and transfer news. In order to help keep folks up-to-date on what their teams are doing during the summer, we put together these summer capsules for each team in the conference. Next up is Pittsburgh.

1. Not to be outdone, this season will be Pittsburgh’s last hurrah in the Big East too.

After Syracuse announced it had come to terms with the Big East on a departure date, you knew it wouldn’t take long for Pittsburgh to follow suit and the Panthers surprised no one when they announced they would be leaving at the same time as Syracuse. The school will have to pay the Big East $7.5 million, but that is chump change compared to what the school stands to make after the switch to the ACC. The real losers here are once again Big East basketball fans. Physical, gritty, and well-coached, the Panthers epitomized Big East basketball and also just so happened to be one of its best programs under Ben Howland and now Jamie Dixon. They don’t have the same storied history and star power that Syracuse has, but fantastic players such as Brandin Knight, Levance Fields, Carl Krauser, and DeJuan Blair all left indelible marks of the basketball memories of fans, and the league will be hard-pressed to find a team to replace Pitt.

2. Get ready for the emergence of Lamar Patterson.

Lamar Patterson is poised for a huge junior season. Photo: Associated Press

Ashton Gibbs has graduated after what feels like eight years in a Panthers’ uniform and he has taken an awful lot of points with him. The Panthers are in the market for some scoring. Transfer Trey Zeigler – more on him in a minute – should help, but based on summer league reviews, the player who will be the most help in the scoring department is junior Lamar Patterson. Everyone seems to agree that Patterson’s solid but unspectacular statistics have been because he wasn’t selfish enough. Well apparently he got the message, and so he has used his improved shooting touch and aggression to basically dominate summer league competition and put himself atop the list of potential breakout candidates for next season. He has always had physicality and athleticism to become a standout performer, but now it appears he has added the necessary polish to be one of the conference’s most improved and well-rounded players.

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Morning Five: 05.28.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 28th, 2012

  1. On Friday the NCAA ruled that Central Michigan transfer Trey Zeigler would be able to play for Pittsburgh next season without having to sit out the usual one year. Citing historical precedent, Zeigler was granted a waiver because his father, Ernie, had been fired by Central Michigan. The addition of Zeigler to the Panther roster gives them one of the best backcourts in the country and makes them a potential top 25 team even if they have to work out a few things after last season’s disaster. We should note the curious decision by the NCAA to give athletes a waiver in this situation. Even though we are all for giving student-athletes the best opportunity to improve themselves it seems like the NCAA is creating some of these rules arbitrarily as your father losing a job is very different from someone in your family battling a terminal illness. In any event, it will be interesting to see how the Panthers utilize Zeigler over the next two seasons.
  2. As expected Connecticut transfer Roscoe Smith announced that he will be transferring to UNLV after leaving the Huskies program that will be forced to sit out next year’s NCAA Tournament. It is expected that Smith will be able to play for UNLV next season as his former team is ineligible for the postseason. If it is true, it could create a potential glut in the frontcourt for the Rebels. In fact, it will probably seem strange to many observers to say that a Mountain West team might be better to have a player who got regular minutes in the Big East sit out a year, but having Smith for two more years post-Mike Moser years might be of more benefit to the program. We doubt that Smith would want to do that so we might be seeing ridiculously early “buzzer-beater” shots coming to Las Vegas very soon.
  3. Another one of the 10 defendants charged in an illegal gambling ring that tried to influence the outcome of San Diego basketball games pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court. Richard Thweni became the third individual to enter a guilty plea in the case investigating the gambling operation that reportedly ran from January 2009 until April 2011. There are still seven more individuals who are waiting to be tried in court (or enter pleas), but we are unsure if all of the information surrounding reported attempts to influence those basketball games will ever come out.
  4. After a rumor was started that three teams from the ACC–Florida State, Clemson, and Miami–were looking at the possibility of moving to the Big 12. Of course that rumor was quickly refuted as a miscommunication, but it still got plenty of people talking. We did not really read too much into this as we assume that every school is constantly on the lookout for options that are better for themselves. Shawn Eichorst, Miami’s athletic director,  felt it was necessary to reiterate the Miami’s commitment to the ACC. It seems like a curious statement to make at least publicly, but to us there is only one translation–none of the better conferences want the Hurricanes right now..
  5. Remember all that talk about Kendall Marshall coming back from a scaphoid fracture to play within a week? It turns out that there was more wrong with Marshall than just that fracture as he also had a fractured elbow. In reality the injury is academic since no reputable medical staff would have cleared Marshall to play with the scaphoid fracture he sustained, but it makes all the talk about him playing again so soon in the NCAA Tournament seem even more ridiculous.
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Trey Zeigler Is Heading To Pittsburgh

Posted by nvr1983 on April 7th, 2012

One of the problems with package deals is that sometimes when you let go of the bait you also lose the fish you lured in. Central Michigan found this out when they fired Ernie Zeigler last month and soon after his son Trey Zeigler sought a release from his scholarship that was granted. Trey, who you may remember was much like Ray McCallum in that he chose to play at a lower-tier school to be coached by his father rather than go to one of a dozen or so big-name programs that were recruiting him (in Ray’s case his eventual destination was Detroit). As those of you who follow recruiting are aware, Trey was a highly rated recruit who had plenty of suitors in the so-called power conferences. Although he did not dominate the MAC like some might expect such a highly rated prospect to do, Trey did put up very solid numbers in his two seasons at Central Michigan.

Trey Zeigler Should Play A Major Role At Pittsburgh (Credit: Andrew Kuhn/CM-Life.com)

His announcement that he would be transferring set off a heated recruiting battle and earlier this afternoon he announced that he would be transferring to Pittsburgh. The move should be a big boost for the Panthers who are coming off the worst season in Jamie Dixon‘s nine years at the school and the first that the team failed to make the NCAA Tournament. The question of when Trey will be eligible to play is still up in the air as he has requested a waiver from the NCAA allowing him to play next year. We are not sure what the basis of his waiver is, but we hope it is not “My father got fired” because we cannot imagine the NCAA signing off on that waiver. If he is able to play next season, he and Travon Woodall would immediately become one of the best starting backcourts in the Big East if not America. If he has to sit out he would join a talented, but largely unproven set of guards and form the nucleus of the next stage of Dixon’s tenure at Pittsburgh.

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Big Ten Morning Five: 04.04.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on April 4th, 2012

  1. The Hoosiers are getting some love for next season from ESPN. Several media outlets have ranked Indiana as one of the top teams in the country based on the talent returning to Bloomington. Now, we all know this is way too early. But for what it is worth, Andy Katz of ESPN ranked Indiana as his top team for the 2012-2013 season. If Cody Zeller comes back next season, Tom Crean’s squad should compete for a Big Ten title and beyond.
  2. The Jared Sullinger watch officially started, which started Sunday, ended today as the Ohio State junior announced that he would be entering the NBA Draft. Last season, after the loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16, Sullinger did not take much time letting the media know that he would return for his sophomore season. This season, however, he was almost as quick with his decision. It does not seem surprising that Sullinger is leaving Columbus even if his last performance in a Buckeye uniform raised plenty of questions about his ceiling as a pro.
  3. Tom Izzo‘s team has some issues off the court after an excellent season on the court. Derrick Nix was with marijuana and Izzo suspended him immediately after his arrest. Nix will be out indefinitely and Izzo has made it clear that such behavior will not be tolerated. Nix is a crucial part of the rotation for the 2012-2013 season and his suspension could be troubling news for Spartan fans.
  4. Tubby Smith‘s contract is still in works, but all reports indicate that he will be sticking around Minneapolis for a few more years. He has two years left on his current contract, but the administration is leaning towards giving Smith a multiple year extension by the end of April. The Gophers’ late season charge towards the NIT final has boosted his resume especially after losing his best player, Trevor Mbakwe to an injury for the whole season.
  5. Big Ten teams are not the only ones losing their cast upon graduation or to the NBA Draft. The Big Ten Network will be without one of their analysts next season as Keno Davis has been hired at Central Michigan. Davis coached at Providence before moving on to a job at the Big Ten Network for one season. Davis has midwestern roots because he coached at Drake in the Missouri Valley before heading to the Big East job at Providence. Davis won’t be a huge loss for BTN, but they need to make sure to hold on to Gus Johnson!
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