News, Notes, and Highlighted Games: Tuesday, Jan 16th

NEWS AND NOTES

-For the UTR Game of the Day featuring North Dakota and North Dakota State – CLICK HERE

-For Jon Teitel’s interview with Hall of Famer Ann Meyers-Drysdale – CLICK HERE

-For the bracket projection from Jon Teitel where he attempts to forecast what the NCAA Selection Committee would do – CLICK HERE

-For the bracket projection from David Griggs where he selects his own personal bracket – CLICK HERE

-We will be recording The Hoops HD Report tonight and there is MUCH to discuss, so be sure you tune in to that.

-My biggest criticism of Duke was that they had yet to beat an NIT caliber team in a true road game.  That is no longer the case.  They picked up a HUGE road win last night at Miami, where they were extremely impressive.  Duke came out ice cold to begin the second half, they fell behind, the crowd was going crazy, and the last thing I expected was for them to compose themselves, rebound, come back, and win the game.  I know they had some huge OOC wins, but in my opinion this was hands down Duke’s biggest win so far.

-Boston College pulled a mild stunner at home against Florida State. So far, Clemson is the only team that has beaten BC at Chestnut Hill, but by the same token this is not as bad a loss for FSU as it would be in recent years.

-They weren’t the only ones.  Kansas may have gotten the biggest singular road win of the season last night at West Virginia.  We had been critical of Kansas, particularly for dropping some home games that we almost never see them lose, but they picked up an enormous one last night.

-Michigan had to sweat out Maryland and be helped out by a foul called in the final seconds (which IMHO was the correct call) in order to escape with just a one point win at home.  This was surprising considering how impressive they looked on Saturday at Michigan State.

-Butler continues to look amazing at home and mediocre on the road.  Providence continues to pretty much look the same.  It’s no surprise that Providence beat Butler at home. While both Maryland and Butler are both stockpiling a large quantity of losses, Butler has a few quality wins (namely Ohio State, Villanova and Marquette) to offset that a bit.

-Penn State, who I once thought of as a potential tournament team, is NOT a potential tournament team. Minnesota and Nebraska both have a faint pulse, and the Huskers were fortunate to hold off last-place Illinois thanks to a buzzer-beating 3 to win their game in Lincoln.

 

HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-CLEMSON AT NORTH CAROLINA (ACC).  Fun fact: Clemson has never won at North Carolina.  Never.  Not ever.  Not even once.  They come into this game in the middle of their best season in recent memory, but this is still probably the toughest game they played all year.  UNC hasn’t always looked the part away from home, but they’ve looked the part enough of the time to indicate that they are really damn good.  They’re also not away from home tonight.  There at home.  Where Clemson has never won.  Never.  Not ever.  Not even once.

-WISCONSIN AT PURDUE (Big Ten).  Purdue is now ranked #3 in the nation and is flirting with the #1 line.  Wisconsin comes in at just 9-9 and having lost two in a row.  This just isn’t their year.

-CINCINNATI AT UCF (American).  Cincinnati won’t have all that many chances at improving their resume the rest of the way, but this is a road game that could actually help build it a little bit.  UCF is at least an NIT team, and it should be a decent road win for the Bearcats.

-LOUISVILLE AT NOTRE DAME (ACC).  The win at Florida State completely turned around Louisville’s resume and they can build it up even more if they can win this one on the road agains an Irish team that isn’t a protected seed, but should still be able to make the NCAA Tournament.

-GEORGIA AT LSU (SEC).  This game has a pivotal bubblicious feel for both teams.

-VANDERBILT AT MISSISSIPPI STATE (SEC).  I still have Mississippi State outside the bubble, but they are close enough to it to reach it, especially if they’re able to heat up in conference play.  Having said that, they’re just 1-3 in the league right now.

-NORTHERN ILLINOIS AT BUFFALO (MAC).  I think this Buffalo team is REALLY good.  They may be good enough to blow through the MAC, and if they are then they could end up flirting with the bubble given what their RPI will likely be.

-OKLAHOMA AT KANSAS STATE (Big 12).  K State is coming off a missed last second shot against Kansas that could have won them the game and changed the entire complexion of their resume and their season.  They’re at home against a top five Oklahoma team that is gunning for the #1 line.

-KENTUCKY AT SOUTH CAROLINA (SEC).  Kentucky still has work to do to end up as a protected seed, but I do think the team is continuing to get better and they’ll certainly get their chances in conference play to get the wins that they need. South Carolina is coming off of a win at Georgia and can certainly play spoiler at home again.

-PITTSBURGH AT SYRACUSE (ACC).  Syracuse cannot afford to lose this one.  It’s really that simple.  They are just 1-4 in ACC play, and this is the most winnable ACC game remaining on their schedule.

-OLE MISS AT TEXAS A&M (SEC).  Will Texas A&M FINALLY win an SEC game? It’s one thing to lose to 5 probable NCAA Tournament teams in your conference (Florida and LSU at home and Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee on the road), but losing to Ole Miss would be more crippling.

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Under The Radar Game of the Day: North Dakota at North Dakota State

North Dakota at North Dakota State – 8:00 PM EST – ESPN3/WatchESPN

Today’s feature UTR game takes us to the Flickertail State of North Dakota – this is the final year that this will be a non-conference matchup since North Dakota will be joining the Summit League next season. The Bison of North Dakota State won the first matchup 88-79 back on December 9; they will be going for the season sweep tonight. NDSU is also 2-2 in the Summit League (8-8 against Division I competition) and has respectable wins against South Dakota on the road and at home against Oral Roberts (along with a Tier I victory at Missouri State out-of-conference), but is offset with home losses against South Dakota State and Denver. Paul Miller leads the Bison with 18.3 PPG and 3.7 APG; Tyson Ward also averages 10.6 PPG and 6.3 RPG.

As for the defending Big Sky champions, North Dakota is off to a rough start with a 2-4 record in their league and 4-11 overall against Division I competition. Their best win so far is against a Troy team that has an RPI above 200. However, they did give Gonzaga a scare on the road back in December before losing by a final score of 89-83. Geno Crandall leads the Fighting Hawks with 15.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG and 3.4 APG; Dale Jones also averages 10.3 PPG and 6.8 RPG.

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Bracket Projections From the Puppet!! (Jan 15th)

For starters, this is what I think the bracket SHOULD look like if the season ended today.  It’s not what I think it WILL look like in March, nor is it what I think it would look like if the Selection Committee were putting it together today.  If you want to see something like that, then check out our Selection Committee Guessing Expert Jon Teitel’s latest seed list and bracket RIGHT HERE

This bracket reflects games played through Sunday, January 14th.

As always, I have some notes below and I will open it up to other staff members for comment as well.  If they say anything that is critical of this bracket, or if they disagree with it in any way, then it means that they are wrong and I am right.

-I’ll begin with something that only the bracket geeks will pick up on, and that’s that all four #1 seeds are playing at a Thursday/Saturday site.  By rule, at least one First Four game has to be on Friday.  I’m not entirely sure how the real committee would handle this, but I’m guessing they’d force one of the #1 seeds to play at a different location.  I really don’t like that idea, so I’ve just decided to screw over the #16 seeds by making one of the First Four winners play on back-to-back nights.

-It’s odd seeing three #1 seeds from the same conference, but there is no rule against it if those are three of the four best teams, and in this case I believe that they are.

-I’m not the expert that Teitel is, but I know the real committee won’t like New Mexico State and Western Kentucky as much as I do.  WKU has a big win over Purdue, and another semi-decent win against SMU.  What’s also impressive to me is their road wins at Old Dominion and Marshall.  Those wins probably won’t jump out at the committee, but they should.  Old Dominion and Marshall are a combined 15-2 at home.  The two losses were to WKU.  I kind of blew it off at the time as not being that big of a deal, but the game at Wisconsin where WKU was royally screwed is actually sinking their resume a little bit.

-Michigan has shot way up my seed list, and why not??  They’re playing great and they suddenly have a really good resume.  By all measurements I don’t see how you can not have them ahead of Michigan State at this point.

As far as New Mexico State, they don’t have the resume that jumps out at you, but they are really damn good.  The win over Miami FL on a neutral floor combined with six true road wins is rather impressive.

OTHERS CONSIDERED: Georgia, Saint Mary’s, Alabama, San Diego State, Texas A&M, Syracuse, Maryland, Saint Bonaventure.

I just can’t get past TAMU being winless in conference play.  As far as Saint Mary’s being left out, winning a lot of games isn’t all that impressive if none of them are against good teams.

LAST FOUR IN:  I notice that almost all of the bracket gurus out there, including those at major networks, feel compelled to tell us who their last four teams in the field were.  JUST HOW STUPID DO THEY THINK PEOPLE ARE??!!  It’s the four teams in the First Four you chumptwats!!

 

COMMENTS FROM THE STAFF

COMMENTS FROM JOHN

– Let’s just suppose for a moment that the Puppet really is onto something where all 4 #1 seeds would be playing in potential Thu-Sat sites. It’s much more likely that Texas Tech (as the lowest of the #1 seeds) would probably be sent to either San Diego or Nashville to play in a Friday-Sunday subregional.

– However, David has been ingesting laundry pods and overlooked Virginia. It is true that Texas Tech has a much better SINGULAR win than what the Hoos have, but Virginia had a much tougher schedule out-of-conference as compared to Texas Tech. When your noncon schedule ranks 211 (as opposed to Virginia’s 100), I think the Raiders have to win outright the Big 12 regular season title to end up as a #1 seed.

– It is plausible that Michigan can now claim a protected seed over Michigan State (especially with a huge road win against Michigan Agricultural College), but I cannot justify Arizona as a #3 right now. Yes, their woes from Atlantis are behind them for the most part, but you cannot ignore losses to teams like NC State (who I also think has more work to do to merit being in the field) and SMU, either.

– Kentucky is another team that may end up as a #4 seed at the end of the day, but I would still wait and see how they do against a much-improved SEC before bumping them up. The win at LSU is looking better and better, although wins against Texas A&M and at Vandy won’t give them as much of a boost as they would get in years past.

– As an UTR guy myself, I can agree with the Nevada placement and even listen to the argument that New Mexico State as a 9 isn’t a far-fetched pick, but Boise State and Western Kentucky (who would be the auto bid winner since Middle Tennessee is a First Four team) are not comfortably above the bubble. It’s just too early to make that claim for them (although WKU got two of their toughest roadies out of the way – an at-large team should also be able to sweep Middle Tennessee and UAB as a 10).

– It’s not too late for Texas A&M to wake up from their funk – after all, Oklahoma State was 0-6 to start the Big 12 last year before catching fire in late January/February and climbing back to a 9 seed. The ice is getting thinner for them.

– NC State (noncon SOS 289) and Houston (noncon SOS 245) tells me that we again need to remind David to stop ingesting laundry pods. Alabama and Saint Mary’s are much more palatable if we want to go strictly by metrics (Alabama) or by the eye test (Saint Mary’s).

– I know that David also has North Carolina A&T and Texas Southern matched up since they’re the two worst teams in the field, but there is an unwritten rule that the Selection Committee doesn’t match up 2 HBCU teams in a First Four matchup because of a potential political backlash.

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Awards season: HoopsHD interviews Hall of Famer Ann Meyers Drysdale

In an effort to promote the game of basketball and recognize the best players in the nation, the Basketball Hall of Fame created awards for the men’s All-America Team in 2015. These awards covered 5 different positions and were named after 5 of the best players to ever step onto the court: the Bob Cousy Point Guard Of The Year, the Jerry West Shooting Guard Of The Year, the Julius Erving Small Forward Of The Year, the Karl Malone Power Forward Of The Year, and the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center Of The Year. In 2017 the Hall of Fame announced a partnership with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) to present awards celebrating 5 of the best women to ever play the game: the Nancy Lieberman Point Guard Of The Year, the Ann Meyers Drysdale Shooting Guard Of The Year, the Cheryl Miller Small Forward Of The Year, the Katrina McClain Power Forward Of The Year, and the Lisa Leslie Center Of The Year. As we approach the April announcement of this season’s women’s award winners, HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel will present interviews with all 5 Hall of Fame legends:

Miller: http://hoopshd.com/2017/09/03/season-preview-hoopshd-interviews-hall-of-famer-cheryl-miller
Lieberman: http://hoopshd.com/2017/12/23/awards-season-hoopshd-interviews-hall-of-famer-nancy-lieberman
Meyers Drysdale: see below
McClain: February
Leslie: March

Your father Bob played basketball at Marquette and 1 of your 10 siblings (Dave) was an All-American at UCLA: who is the best athlete in the family? My sister Patty is the oldest of 11 and played a bunch of different sports. She was tougher than all of us (starting center on Cal State Fullerton’s 1970 national championship team) so we just followed her lead.

In 1974 you became the 1st high school girls’ basketball player to join the US national team and the 1st female athlete to receive a 4-year athletic scholarship: how big a deal were those pioneering achievements at the time? I never really looked at it that way: I was just blessed to be in the right place at the right time. There were a lot of amazing female athletes who broke barriers before me and I just came along after Title IX when more doors were open to women. It was a human interest story so it just took off in the media. I went to the right school at UCLA: when you have a guy like John Wooden validating women’s basketball, having a brother-sister All-American tandem (her brother David was also a Bruin All-American) takes on a life of its own.

On February 18, 1978, you recorded the 1st quadruple-double in D-1 basketball history with 20 PTS/14 REB/10 AST/10 STL in a win over Stephen F. Austin: where does that rank among the best all-around performances of your career? I did not focus on my stats. I had a good game in the 1978 semifinal against Montclair State even though Carol Blazejowski scored 41 PTS against us. I loved playing the game on both ends and had a lot of intensity/passion for the game. I was only the 3rd-leading scorer as a senior but led the team is most other categories. If you get a quadruple-double including AST then you need your team to give you a lot of help.

You won a silver medal with team USA at the 1976 Olympics: what was the feeling like in your locker room afterward, and how unstoppable was 7’2′ Soviet center Juliana Semenova? We were never dejected because we knew how hard we had all worked. We did not even have any money back then and were not supposed to be there. It was a huge accomplishment just to be a part of the 1st Olympics involving women’s basketball: after finishing 8th in the 1975 World Championships we did not even know if we would make it to Montreal. We had played the Soviets in several previous international competitions. We won gold at the 1975 Pan Am Games but had 3 new players at the Olympics and had to win the pre-Olympic tourney just to qualify. Most of the Russians had been together for 15-20 years but Semenova was just in her early 2os at the time. Now you can be a professional women’s basketball player but back then we were just a bunch of amateur college kids who only spent a couple of months together on the court. Winning the silver was a huge success: other people think of it as being 2nd-best but it established women’s basketball in the US. It was the US-Soviet Union coming out of the Cold War and only 4 years after the men’s gold medal game in 1972.

In the 1978 AIAW title game you had 20 PTS/10 REB/9 AST/8 STL in a win over Maryland: how much of a home-court advantage did you have while playing at Pauley Pavilion in front of more than 9000 fans (which at the time was the largest crowd ever to see a women’s championship game) and what did it mean to you to win a title? I am sure that we had a home-court advantage but we actually played our freshman games on the side court rather than the main court. Not having to travel helped but when you are in college you are just excited to get that far. It was the 1st time that they ever had a Final 4 and the 1st time that it was ever on TV. The crowd was huge and we had a lot of fan support for UCLA basketball. It was on my birthday and I had a lot of family/friends in attendance so it was very special. My brother David won 2 titles at UCLA so I knew the history: being a part of the 1st women’s title there was pretty special.

Your 403 career STL remain the most in school history: what is the secret to playing defense, and do you think that anyone will ever break your record? My former husband Don always said that records were made to be broken. Most of my siblings played the same way: we got out on the court and had an intensity to be the best that we could be. I loved playing defense and being really physical: I tried to play like my brother David did. I played all 5 positions on the court but learned to play PG during pickup games with my brothers. Defense creates offense: I think I was the mini-me of David!

You are the only woman to sign a contract with an NBA team (Indiana in 1979) but were cut during training camp: why was trying out for the NBA “the best decision of your life” even though it was met with some hostile reaction? I am glad I did not do it today because the media outlets are so different. I was hoping to play in the 1980 Olympics and was the #1 pick in the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL), but if I had turned pro then I could not be in the Olympics. Dave was already in the NBA and basketball is a small community so I knew a lot of people in the sport. I got a call out of the blue from the new owner of the Pacers (Sam Nassi) and had no idea who he was. I am sure that publicity was involved but I looked at it as the opportunity of a lifetime and felt that I could not turn it down. UCLA was a safe haven for me and people liked the way I played so the LA media was very positive toward me. I was 24 years old and it was all new to me: many people in the organization did not think it was a good idea and some people actually tried to talk me out of it. 5 years earlier I was going to play with the boys’ varsity team at my high school but people talked me out of it and I did not want to go through with it, although that led to me joining the US national team. It was the best decision I ever made because it prepared me to play at the highest level and opened up many other doors (broadcasting, PR, etc.). I joined the WBL instead and was named MVP before the league folded the following year. I later got to do some national advertising and met Don through the made-for-TV Superstars competition, which was the best part. There were hardly any women back then broadcasting men’s basketball.

In 1993 you were inducted into the Hall of Fame: where does that rank among the highlights of your career? It was certainly an honor.  What I remember the most is that Don and my 2 sons were there in Springfield with the rest of my family. You cannot get there without teammates/coaches/family to support you so it is nice to be recognized for those accomplishments.

You have worked with the Special Olympics for several decades and served as a Sports Ambassador for Special Olympics Southern California: how did you 1st get involved and how fulfilling is it? It was wonderful. I got involved in 1975 as a freshman at UCLA after Rafer Johnson became the face of the Special Olympics. UCLA used to host the Southern California Special Olympics right on campus.

You are currently a VP for the Phoenix Mercury and a TV analyst for the Phoenix Suns: which job do you enjoy more, and what do you hope to do in the future? When I 1st joined the organization I was GM of the Mercury and am very proud that we have been able to win so many WNBA championships. You never know what the future holds in this business but I like speaking to school/business groups and being involved in different charities like Hoops for Youth. I have worked the past 5 Olympics for NBC and am grateful to be working for the Phoenix Suns/Mercury. I enjoy being a part of all that they ask me to do, including broadcasting for both teams and speaking out in the community. My biggest accomplishments are my 3 children!

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News, Notes, and Highlighted Games (Monday, Jan 15)

NEWS AND NOTES

-For Jon Teitel’s latest Bracket Projections – CLICK HERE

-For our UTR Game of the Day, which is a double feature that features THE TEAM OF THE PEOPLE!!! – CLICK HERE

-We will be recording our weekly Hoops HD Report tomorrow night instead of tonight.  Be on the lookout for that.  I’m also hoping to post my personal bracket a little later on today, which is better than any one else’s bracket anywhere on the planet!  Other staff members will comment and criticize, but they will be wrong!

-There were only a handful of games from the major conferences yesterday, but they were almost all laughers. Houston blew out East Carolina on the road, Ohio State continued their hot play with an easy win at Rutgers, and Virginia and USC held serve at home against NC State and Utah, respectively.

-Indiana also had an easy win at home against Northwestern. They are sitting pretty at 4-2 in the Big Ten, but the road becomes more difficult with a road game against an angry Michigan State team and a home game against a Maryland team that is also getting more desperate by the day. Wins in both of these games will vault Indiana into NCAA Tournament discussion.

-UPDATE (12:20 PM EST) – The Big 12 has announced that it issued a public reprimand to West Virginia player Wesley Harris for throwing a punch at a fan following the WVU-Texas Tech game on Saturday. Texas Tech was also fined $25,000 by the conference for the post-game court storming.

HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-BUTLER AT PROVIDENCE (Big East).  Both teams have decent resumes by NCAA Tourney standards (moreso for Butler), but both also have a lot of room to improve which makes today’s game big for both of them.  Butler has just one true road win so this would look really nice on their resume if they’re able to pull it off.

-MARYLAND AT MICHIGAN (Big Ten).  Michigan is on fire all of a sudden after their big road win against Michigan State.  Maryland is bubblish and a win today would really help them, but it’s much easier said than done.

-DUKE AT MIAMI FL (ACC).  Miami has lost two of their last three and are rebounding from a tough but not damaging loss to Clemson.  Still, they’re in the rankings and they’re hosting a Duke team that’s yet to beat a solid NCAA Tourney team in a true road game.  Both teams have quite a bit to gain tonight.

-FLORIDA STATE AT BOSTON COLLEGE (ACC).  BC isn’t the easiest place to win on the road, but it’s less difficult than a lot of other ACC teams and getting a third true road win would help out the Noles.

-MINNESOTA AT PENN STATE (Big Ten).  Both teams desperately need to string together several wins just to get on the right side of the bubble.

-KANSAS AT WEST VIRGINIA (Big 12).  Kansas is looking to solidify themselves as a protected seed and a win today would definitely do that.  West Virginia is trying to make a run at the #1 line, and a win today would definitely underline that. We will also monitor any potential suspensions for West Virginia as a result of what happened after the loss at Texas Tech on Saturday – it appeared that at least one WVU player threw a punch at a fan after Tech fans stormed the floor.

-ILLINOIS AT NEBRASKA (Big Ten).  Nebraska remains outside the bubble, but if they can string together several wins they should be able to at least reach it. Illinois is now in the Big Ten cellar after losing against previously winless Iowa.

-DEPAUL AT MARQUETTE (Big East).  Marquette is looking to bounce back from a road loss to Butler and as well as they’ve been playing they shouldn’t have too much trouble taking care of DePaul at home.

-OKLAHOMA STATE AT BAYLOR (Big 12).  Both of these teams are pretty good, but both will also have a very hard time keeping pace with the rest of the Big 12, which is what makes this game so important.

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Under The Radar Games of the Day: Prairie View A&M at Jackson State/Hawaii Pacific at Cal Baptist

Prairie View at Jackson State – 8:30 PM EST

Today we have a doubleheader of UTR Games – our first stop takes us to Jackson, Mississippi as the Tigers of Jackson State play host to the Panthers of Prairie View. Prairie View is a respectable 2-2 in the SWAC, although they are coming off of a recent 80-71 loss at Grambling. Earlier in the year, Prairie View did win some hardware in the MGM Resorts Main Event/Middleweight Bracket with a pair of wins against Eastern Kentucky and Georgia State. Zachary Hamilton averages 17.8 PPG and 4.2 RPG and Gary Blackston averages 17.6 PPG and 5.3 RPG to lead the Panthers.

Jackson State leads the SWAC with a 5-0 record and took the outright lead after beating Texas Southern 85-80 in overtime on Saturday night. Outside the SWAC, Jackson State’s only other win in D-I play came against Omaha. Maurice Rivers leads the Tigers with 12.9 points per game and also scored 26 points in their victory against Texas Southern.

Hawaii Pacific at Cal Baptist – 10:00 PM EST (Live Video Streaming Feed)

Later on tonight, we also feature the Team of the People as they take on the Sharks of Hawaii Pacific. The Lancers of Cal Baptist beat Azusa Pacific 75-69 to climb within a half game of first place in the Pac West Conference. Kalidou Diouf had 23 points and 12 rebounds in the Lancers’ win on Saturday night. Diouf for the season averages 16.7 PPG and 8.7 RPG. As of today, Cal Baptist is #24 in the Division II national poll.

Hawaii Pacific comes into tonight’s game with a 9-6 record overall and 4-3 in Pac West competition. They lost their last game 87-65 at Point Loma on Saturday (a place where Cal Baptist won by 27 a few weeks earlier). Niksha Federico leads the Sharks with a whopping 23.4 PPG and 10.7 RPG; Jonathan Janssen also averages 15.3 PPG and 7.0 RPG.

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