The Buffet is Open…

On the first three days of conference tourneys, the Buffet gave to me…

Huge Buffet

Killer Top Seeds

And An extra day of tourneys..

Yes, that read 3 days.  The aforementioned 7 to 7 has been destructive to daily Buffets. So, while it means good things for the Buffet’s sense of responsibility, it isn’t complimentary of our prioritizing skills.  We shall do our best, and if nothing else, always strive to entertain…with that out of way..

(Oh, and as always, there two choices, a Buffet at some time or a full edited, typo/spelling error/grammatical error free Buffet. For now, we choose the latter, if there’s groundswell for the former… well… um, we can offer Buffetologies and nothing more perhaps?)

Well, well, well, boys and girls, here we are: 2013.  You had your first taste of the Buffet, with a harkening back to yesteryear, or yestermonth, or in some cases yesterday, and now we’ve found ourselves right in the middle of all the fun: Conference Tournament time.  And, the Buffet’s annual 12 Days of Conference tourneys.  Now, the more plugged in of you are thinking, wait, weren’t there conference tournament games yesterday, so isn’t it 13 Days? Why, yes, you are correct.  But, if there’s anything I’ve learned this year, is you never let some facts get in the way of a good narrative. ESPN first taught me that, when Dick Vitale, when Peyton Siva & Russ Smith where in the midst of a terrible stretch and weren’t playing anything near high level, still called them the “best backcourt in the country.” Why? Because the narrative dictated as such. And it wasn’t even a Louisville game!  CBS reinforced that, when during the entire Ohio State/Michigan State game on Feb 24, they kept referring to Ohio State not having ANY key road wins for their resume, apparently because The Ohio State has moved to Ann Arbor (56-53, Jan 13).  And the Buffet cleverly counted 12 days from the first tournament game and selection Sunday, sample the popular holiday ditty for their own purposes, and now making it 13 ruins THAT narrative.  But, fear not, we will not lose the Big South & Horizon League previews to pure stubbornness, we’ll just pick up them up when they roll into their next round of action.  For now… let’s go to Buffet.

As usual, we’ll take you through conference tournament previews, update you on action to date, and discuss the daily docket and which games have Buffet implications… Let’s hit up the:

For the each day’s slate of conference tournament games, please consult our HoopsHD colleague’s, tremendous resource: http://hoopshd.com/2013/03/05/conference-tournament-viewing-guide-march-8-2013/

Also quick note for those new to the Buffet. First of all, welcome, please helpful yourself to as many trips through as you’d like.  But two notes:

  1. 1.       The 2013 Jack Leasure Madbomber Award is of course named for former Coastal Carolina sharpshooter and madbomber extraordinare Jack Leasure, or as you may now know him, Jack Leasure of the Jack Leasure Shooting & Skills Camp (or JLSSC – jackleasurecamp.blogspot.com) – he would fire threes with reckless abandon, but would make a lot of them, the award is granted to the player (which each conference getting a nominee) who fires away at will, but makes a strong enough percentage so his penchant for shooting isn’t harmful to his team’s overall goal.  It’s a fine, very subjective line, which we take the power for choosing very seriously and with great honor.
  2. 2.       The Gregory Douglas Ott Award is given to (again, each conference gets a nominee) the player who demonstrates true PG leadership, his ability to maximize assists while minimizing turnovers, for Mr. Ott always felt simply throwing the ball a lot to teammates who would score only mattered if when you weren’t doing that, you weren’t giving the ball away to the other team, and the Buffet agreed, and the award was born.

2013 GENERAL SHALE ATLANTIC SUN MEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT, Hawkins Arena, Macon Georgia Mar 6-9

FREEEEEEEEEEEEDOM.   They are chanting it from Johnson City, Tennessee all the way down to Fort Myers, it’s “Belmont freedom… everyone in the Atlantic Sun pool, the great white shark moved to the OVC!”  The only complaint, and we could raise it often, but we will just officially complain here and maybe note it elsewhere, is the ASun does nothing to protect its #1 seed, having them play every round, begging for an upset, rendering the regular season at this level, virtually meaningless.  The one bright spot, is as luck would have it, the tournament is at Hawkins Arena in Mason, Georgia, which is nice when Mercer is the top seed, but wasn’t awesome last year for #1 seed Belmont.

Now, in the ASun pool without Belmont, are:

the regular season conference champs, Mercer, who showed some big game moxie in non-conference play, knocking off Florida State in Tallahassee and Alabama in Tuscaloosa.  But, before, we run off and call them prohibitive favorites based on their top seeded status and a definite body of work showing their strengths, let’s not forget they dropped a game to 3-27 Kennesaw State, so they are not without their flaws.  Mercer was the top defensive team in the A-Sun, and in fact, were #15 in the country (all defensive stats, unless noted will be noted simply by PPG and OPPG, understanding that KenPom’s efficiency rankings are more on point, but then also understanding that the Buffet works pro bono), and lock down defensive teams usually play well in their conferences tournaments. Why? Because by game 3, it’s possible to devise a game plan or defensive strategy aimed at shutting down what beat you in the past.  But, unless the defense is a gimmick, good defense is good defense.

The #2 seed, are last season’s conference tournament darlings, Florida Gulf Coast.  You may have heard of them, they’re the reason lots of people don’t want to believe in Miami.  What “lots of people” fail to remember is Miami was without Durand Scott for that game (and not Reggie Johnson, as you may have read reported in some other, LARGER, sports media outlets). Now, why would I be chipping away at FGCU’s big win? For accuracy-sake for one thing, but also, come to think of it, how much worse is Miami without Durant Scott v. Florida St or v. Alabama this year.  So, while I think it is instructive in a #1 seed discussion, it shouldn’t diminish the Eagles win as much as you’d think. From a statistical rankings standpoint, they are the big beneficiaries of Belmont’s exodus, as they finished the year #1 in A-Sun offensively, and defeated Mercer at home as recently as February 28th.  And come in as the hottest team in conference having  And, if nothing else, they boast the conference player of the year, who ousted the reigning POY, who came back as just a sophomore and played well enough to make the all-conference first team, which describes a bit the type of season, contender for the All-Buffet All-Name Team 2013, Sherwood Brown had.

Who Should Win: They have the better body of wins, won the conference, and get to play at home, and despite the presence of Sherwood Brown and ASun Def Player of the Year, I think the home crowd balances this thing towards Mercer.

And if not them? SC Upstate – it’s with reluctance that they’re mentioned here, given that we thought they, and not FGCU, would be the 2012 darlings.  Now, we’re not even sure this team is on last year’s level. They were stuck in the glut of teams ranked 3-8 and did nothing noteworthy in nonconference to make you get up and shout. But they did rank 3rd in conference in both offensive and defense, and feature the conference’s best all-around talent, Torrey Craig, who has upped his scoring every season, and averaged 25.5 in two games against top seed Mercer, who SCU would face in a hypothetical semifinal.  Just something to think about.

Finally, sometimes you don’t need to be the best team, but the hottest, and that would be Stetson. Coming in as the #3 seed, they started the ASun season red hot at 6-2, then were beat up something fierce by Florida Gulf Coast, which caused a slight tailspin, but more forgetting how to win.  Then the switch turned back on, and the team that looked like Mercer’s top competition was back, winning 5 of 7, and the loss was a 1 point loss on a three with 6 seconds left, after Stetson had led 54-34 with 12:10 left. So, they can go on an A-Sun run, and if they shake off their March 2 drubbing to Mercer, at home, you might see Adam Pegg lead the Hatters deep into the weekend.

Best Non-Conference Win: Florida Gulf Coast over Miami (Fl) 53-51

Atlantic Sun Player of the Year: Sherwood Brown, Florida Gulf Coast

Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year: Bob Hoffman, Mercer

Atlantic Sun Defensive Player of the Year: Bernard Thompson, Florida Gulf Coast

Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year: Stephen Hurt, Lipscomb

All-Atlantic Sun First Team: Brown

Torrey Craig, SC Upstate

Adam Pegg, Stetson

Eshaunte Jones, Northern Kentucky

Parker Smith, North Florida

Atlantic Sun 2013 Jack Leasure Madbomber Award Candidate: Parker Smith, North Florida 110/258, 31gm – 3.5/g and 42% 3p%

Atlantic Sun Gregory Douglas Ott Award Candidate: Will Wilson, North Florida 2.7 Assist-Turnover Ratio

 

Don’t I know you from somewhere?

Northern Kentucky gives us our only two familiar faces from other places from the Atlantic Sun:

All-Atlantic Sun first team member Eshaunte Jones, who was 12.4 minute reserve as a sophomore at Nebraska, who then transferred to NKU, where he became an all-conference performer for the Norse.  Hmm… wonder if Doc Sadler would be “Danny Manning’s replacement” if he was a little better at identifying developing talent.

 

And Northern Kentucky assistant coach, Darris Nichols, was a standout point guard under Bob Huggins and one of the senior leaders on the 2008 Sweet Sixteen team that was upended in overtime by Xavier

 

2013 NORTHEAST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT PRESENTED BY RUBY TUESDAY

All games played on home court of higher seeds, Mar 6, 9, 12

 

Familiar faces, old foes, and a returning face at the top of the ladder are the features of the 2013 NEC tournament.

The kids you know: LIU Brooklyn’s Julian Boyd, Jamal Olasewere, Kenny Onyechi, Jason Brickman, So Alabama transfer C.J. Garner, and their two consecutive NEC Conference championships are back, after a topsy-turvy year where you would have expected all of that returning talent to be a bit more consistent and perhaps somewhat dominant – was anything but that, a bit of a nightmare.  First, Boyd, Olasewere, Garner and Troy Joseph decided the proper way to celebrate a welcome back party for student was a campus brawl.  That netted them a two game suspension, served at the beginning of the calendar year. (oh, and they weren’t in just one fight, but two, first against members of the track team, then to be equal opportunity brawlers, went up against regular students as well).  Then Kenny Onyechi failed to take a real step forward, failing to really claim a lion share of minutes you would expect of a senior with significant tournament experience.  Then Boyd, even before he could serve his suspension, tore his ACL in December, leaving the team without the reigning NEC player of the year. Predictably, the season was not the 3rd year elevation you would expect.  LIU came out of the gate still reeling from the brawl, losing their first 4, including losses to Morehead & Lafayette and failing to even be competitive versus Maryland & Kentucky.  Then, post-Thanksgiving, they right the ship a bit, winning 5 straight, before another dry spell that included the Boyd injury and the brawl suspensions, saw them drop their next 6. But then the ascension of Jamal Olasewere took place, as he personally saw to the end of their roller coaster, lifting his game to 20pts/9rebs a night, and the Blackbirds to a 12-3 finish to their season.  They enter the tourney having won 7-9, one of those losses was a riveting 94-92 loss at burgeoning rival Wagner.

 

Speaking of our old friends the Seahawks, Wagner also had a campaign that wasn’t what the Buffet expected, although compared to LIU, at least it was drama free (well, somewhat, Latif Rivers was first sidelined from the nc schedule due to injury and then missed a game due to a fight he started end of game in last year’s NEC tourney loss to Robert Morris).  Wagner played to a 6-5 non-conference, accomplishing very little of note, except that they are better than Ivy League schools, and probably shouldn’t take cross country trips to Santa Clara again anytime soon.  But, they figured out the formula under 1st year coach, Bashir Mason, elevated from assistant when Danny Hurley went off to URI.  Starting in mid-January, Wagner rattled off a 9-3 finish to the season, including the aforementioned game versus LIU and is the last team to beat Mount Saint Mary’s (win streak to be discussed below). They are finally reassembled: Rivers is healthy, Jonathon Williams’ hip injury is a thing of the past, and Marcus Burton has become a dependable answer off the bench.  Despite the nondescript nonconference schedule, this is a team that will need to be reckoned with.

 

But wait, we haven’t even mentioned the #1 seed yet, have we? Disrespect. That would be Robert Morris.  The Colonials want back in the discussion after being the previous 2-time NEC conference champs, losing in the finals in 2011 and now they’re back as the top NEC seed.  Having shaken off an 0-2 start to the conference season, and finished 14-4 in conference.  A December 1, 84-76 win over 2012 sweet sixteen overtime loser Ohio Bobcats and DJ Cooper gave us a flavor of what RMC was capable of.  And their 14-2 finish to the season confirmed it.  Velvet Velton Jones is still there, but he’s only part of the story in 2012-13, now you also have to talk about Karvel Anderson and Lucky Jones.   Too bad Treadwell Lewis isn’t more of the discussion, as he would certainly be in the all-name team discussion.

 

Who Should win: Going off script here, and despite RMC’s dominance and LIU’s experience in this spot, Wagner’s hot finish and fully assembled stocked roster leads the Buffett to believe we’re going to have a Seahawk March Invasion.

 

If not them, who?

Now if you want to go streaking with you NEC pick (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20g3QIUnOgY), then look no further than Mount Saint Mary’s. Talk about getting your act together – a 7-12 season filled with non-conference blow outs and a 2-6 conference season beginning, suddenly morphed into a 16-13 (9-1 finish), and wins over Bryant and LIU, two teams ahead of them in the NEC conference standings pecking order.  You win 9 of 10, you have the Buffet’s attention. The switch just seemed to turn on when the calendar said “February” – led by the foursome of George Mason transfer, Rashad Whack (insert your “that’s whack” joke here), Julian Norfleet, Marist refugee, Sam Prescott, and freshman Shivaughn Wiggans (who went from having 1 double digit game in his brief career, to averaging 14 a game from Jan 17 on) clearly games were raised, see: Whack’s “we’ve turned the corner” statement game on February 2 versus Sacred Heart when he poured 35 points on 7/10 three point shooting, or Prescott dropping 44 on Bryant (8/10 from downtown).  Heavily reliant on the 3, but deadly  accurate of late .. they could shoot themselves deep into the tournament.

 

Bryant. Now, we know as of publication the 2012-2013 season is over for Bryant, running into the Mountaineer buzzsaw will do that. But, something must be mentioned about the work Tim O’Shea has done. In two of the last three seasons, the Bulldogs won a grand total of 3 games combined. The won at BC, something that wasn’t considered by the Buffet to be a feat, until Miami didn’t and Duke almost didn’t, and they started the season 6-0 in conference, then 9-2, before they plateaued, going .500 the balance of the season and finding ball control and fouling to be too much of a burden to overcome, losing an 8 point second half lead, and finishing their 2012-13 in the first round on the NEC tournament.

 

Best Non-Conference Win: Central Connecticut State at La Salle (44 RPI) 81-74.

 

NEC Player of the Year: Jamal Olasewere, LIU Brooklyn

NEC Coach of the Year: Tim O’Shea, Bryant Bulldogs

NEC Defensive Player of the Year: Kenneth Ortiz, Wagner

NEC Freshman of the Year: Shivaughn Wiggans, Mount St. Mary’s

All-NEC First Team: Olasewere

Alex Francis, Bryant

Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart

Velton Jones, Robert Morris

Kyle Vinales, Central Connecticut State

NEC Jack Leasure Mad Bomber 2013 Candidate: Dyami Starks, Bryant, 91/226, 3.03/gm, 41%

NEC Gregory Douglas Ott Award Candidate: Malcolm McMillan 2.25 A/TO ratio

 

Don’t I know you from somewhere?

Melquan Bolding, Fairleigh Dickinson, transfer from Duquesne,  was a supreme talent who helped Duquesne to an A-10 final berth in 2009, but just never reached that elite potential.

 

MUSIC CITY MADNESS – 2013 OVC Basketball Championships,

March 6-9 Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, TN

 

We call this, Buffet preview: Bittersweet edition.  Ian Clark, Kerron Johnson, Isaiah Canaan.  Because of the way the regular season played out, all 3 of these guys won’t be in the NCAA tournament.  But, if seeds hold, they should provide for an awesome OVC Final.

Belmont. The tournament top seed picked up right where they left off in the Atlantic Sun, dominating conference play.  Wins over Stanford, Middle Tennessee State and South Dakota State showed that while not necessarily elite, you had to come to play to beat the Bruins.  But losses to Northeastern and Central Florida showed weakness in the armor.  They stormed through their OVC schedule, never losing at home, and holding an average margin of victory of 19 points.  Basically, their conference record 14-2 is their current streak, and they hold the daily double of most points per game and least points allowed per game in the OVC.  Essentially, this is an at-large caliber team, who doesn’t have the resume to get an at large bid, but certainly could make some noise if they win the weekend in Nashville, which harkens back to an earlier point, while the Municipal isn’t on campus, they frequently hold games there and all their home games are in Nashville, irrespective on floor.  By now, you know their leaders – Ian Clark & Kerron Johnson, but also keep an eye on senior Trevor Noack and junior JJ Mann, who really stepped forward as options 3 and 4, crucial this time of year, during OVC play.

 

Murray State. The 2012 darlings brought back Canaan, but left their magic in last season.  Part of that was due to the offseason turmoil caused by Zay Jackson losing his head and running down people in a Wal-Mart parking lot following a verbal dispute, part of that was perhaps the weight of never getting a true 4th option to step up, and depth perhaps got involved as well.  They started 9-1, wins over Auburn and St. John’s, while not saying a tremendous amount about a team’s strength, do suggest they had their 2011-12 moxie back.  But that was dashed with back to back losses to Dayton & Valpo, and then a 9-2 start to conference play (but questionable losses to Eastern Kentucky & Jacksonville St, but did include a great 79-74 win over Belmont), gave way to a 1-4 finish in conference, and left people wondering if last season was an aberration or if Jackson meant that much, as both Canaan & Ed Daniel lifted their games this year, and Stacy Wilson took a giant step forward as a sophomore, raising his scoring average by nearly 10 ppg.  But, if you’ll notice, despite having the 4th most losses in the league, the division split really did them favors, instead of being the 4 seed and having Belmont the semis, they won’t have to face the Bruins until the final.

 

Who Should Win: The final would be epic, if Murray finds their pre 1-4 finish levels of play, but recent results suggest if Belmont waits for Murray in the final, they’ll be waiting awhile, this seems like Belmont’s to run with. The bigger question may be just how high Belmont’s seeding could get…

 

If not them, who?

Eastern Kentucky. The path is almost as important as the team, and EKU is undefeated against their potential pre-championship opponents.  Had a nice 5 game win streak mid-season and would actually be the conference #2 seed if it were determined by wins/losses alone.  Watch for their duo of Mike DiNunno & Glenn Cosey, both 15 point scorers, DiNunno averaged 20 per game in 3 games versus Belmont/Murray this season.

 

Tennessee State. The perennial thorn in the side of the reg season champs, Tennessee State is back in their favorite role. Last season, they were the conference’s only loss for Murray State, and then took them to the limit in the OVC conference final.  This year, they were one of only 2 reg season conference losses for Belmont (Murray, the other) and the only team (as was astutely pointed out to the Buffet this evening) that beat Belmont in Nashville. (Tenn State is from there as well) So the Municipal Auditorium advantage won’t be there in the semifinal between these two. Robert Covington, after having in-season surgery for a torn meniscus, is back and looking in prime game shape, and the silver lining was the step up job done by Kellen Thornton and Jordan Cyphers.  That semifinal battle for Music City supremacy should be a good one.

 

Best Non-Conference Win:  Murray State v St. John’s (73) 72-67 and So Dakota State (74) 73-62

 

OVC Player(s) of the Year: Isaiah Canaan, Murray State & Ian Clark, Belmont

OVC Coach of the Year: Rick Byrd, Belmont

OVC Defensive Player of the Year: Ian Clark, Belmont

OVC Freshman of the Year: Chris Horton, Austin Peay

All- OVC First Team: Clark

Canaan

Mike DiNunno, Eastern Kentucky

Ed Daniel, Murray State

Patrick Miller, Tennessee State

OVC Jack Leasure Mad Bomber 2013 Candidate: Isaiah Canaan, Murray State, 81/208, 29 gm, 3.1/gm, 38%

OVC Gregory Douglas Ott Award Candidate: Malcolm McMillan 2.25 A/TO ratio

 

Don’t I know you from somewhere?

Reggie Smith, Eastern Illinois, from a couple of places, after starting sporadically in his first 10 games at Marquette, Smith found his way to UNLV for his sophomore year, then back closer to home for his Junior year.

 

Jon Cremins, assistant coach with SE Missouri State, is the nephew of Bobby Cremins and his awesome white hair.

 

ARCH MADNESS – MISSOURI VALLEY TOURNAMENT

March 7-10 Scottrade Center – St. Louis, Missouri

 

The conference champ had 5 losses.  But the teams also stepped out of conference and tallied wins versus Miami, Wisconsin, Akron, California, VCU, Southern Miss, Iowa, St. Mary’s, Ole Miss. Creighton, the presumptive favorite and regular season champ, has looked great a times, but also fell to Drake and Illinois State (at home), and lost 3 of 5 coming in.  Wichita State, the #2 seed, has won at VCU and defeated Creighton, but was also SWEPT by Evansville and fell to Southern Illinois (MVC’s last place team).   Northern Iowa has felt the high of defeating St. Mary’s, but the low of the same 3 losses highlighted with Wichita.  Then there are the underachievers:  Indiana State, with a win over Miami and 8 days span of taking out Wichita St & Creighton, flirted with the field of 68 for much of January and early February, after overcoming a bad early loss to Morehead St, but then fizzled out, sandwiching a loss at Drake in between their Creighton/Wichita wins, and then losing 5 of 6 down the stretch, including the daily double at home versus Drake; and Illinois State, pick second by many preseason, just could never seem to get it going, offered glimpse here and there (a win at Creighton, win at Dayton, beating Indiana State in the midst of the Sycamores’ January run).  But ultimately never got traction and finished 8-10 in conference.  But both teams feature MVC stars and the proven ability to get some games… after all, it is the Madness (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek0SgwWmF9w)

 

Creighton: There’s actually quite a bit to prove this weekend. Not if they’ll get a bid, they will. But just who are they? They 17-1 team who beat Wisconsin, won at Cal, and started the MVC 6-0, or the team that went 7-5 to finish the conference year, and lost to St. Mary’s at home, pretty decisively.  They began to reestablish themselves after that Bracket Buster game, with a pair of dominating wins, and a regular season conference clinching win over Wichita St when Doug McDermott basically said enough’s enough and popped in 41 points in what may have been his home finale. The problem with Creighton is they can be too one-dimensional, after McDermott’s 23.4, no other player averages double digits. The names you may remember Echenique, Gibbs, Wragge, Manigat – are good enough but just haven’t done enough, consistently, to make the Buffet feel safe in this tournament.  You concentrate on McDermott, which will be easier for teams that have seen him twice (if not 3 with the Arch) a year for 3 years than in the actual tournament.  Creighton is a prime upset candidate, but if they play with the look of a team in the Waiting Line… (even if there’s almost no way they are), they are complete enough with a small step forward from one of the four mentioned, it should be their weekend.

 

Wichita St: The Shockers graduated 5 from their 2012 MVC title team, and came within a Doug McDermott dominating performance from winning the 2013 title as well. And impressive reload when it seemed like this season would be a rebuild.  They come in a bit cold, having lost 2 straight, when the MVC title could have been sewn up.  This is an important Waiting Line… weekend, as the Shockers were a 12 seed in the latest Buffetology, just 1 spot on the curve ahead of the first of the last four in (Iowa St) – that’s of course being looked at in a vacuum as this was a bloodletting of a week in the waiting (more on that later) – but they should get themselves to the tournament final if they don’t want the next week to feel like years.  Be prepared to be introduced to Cleanthony Early, junior college transfer, who helped keep Wichita at the top of the standings, with 14.5 points per game and 5 rebounds, including a 39 point game against SIU, he was especially crucial during the 7 game stretch midseason when senior Carl Hall went down with a thumb injury, but the wheels stayed on as the Shockers went 6-1 in that stretch, which was five games in conference (could have been devastating). Demetric Williams is also still around, and it will be surprising if this team goes quietly.

 

Who Should Win: We know we drew up a good prescription for stopping Creighton, but there’s just a sense, coming off that Wichita St game, that they know what’s at stake, this is probably McDermott’s last run, this is as talented of a team as Creighton has had, and if they get tripped up this weekend, that will really put speed bumps in leading to the NCAA tournament.  It should be a spirited final – wouldn’t be surprised if Jackie Carmichael and Illinois State are the ones opposite the Bluejays in it. But McDermott shines over the weekend.

 

If not them, who?

 

Illinois State/Indiana St: Grouping them together, the Redbirds were picked #2, Indiana State has shown you something (beating Miami), but neither played consistent.  Both have top MVC stars: Jackie Carmichael (17.4 pts, 9.4 rebounds) and Jake Odum (14.4 pts. 5 assists), and this year Carmichael has even stronger reinforcement, in Tyler Brown, averaging 18 points.  All have shown great comfort in St. Louis, but their season long inconsistency keeps them down in the “If not them, who?” rather than the above line contenders.

 

Northern Iowa: Buffet won’t sleep on Northern Iowa, despite losing 2 of 3 coming in, this team also won 6 straight, pushing them to a 3rd place MVC finish.  And took out both Creighton & Wichita in that stretch. They also have a holiday time win over St. Mary’s, so this is a team that can get out win against tournament caliber competition.  One last run for Anthony James,  Jake Koch & Marc Sonnen?

 

Evansville: As evidenced, we like streakers over here.  So, that brings in Evansville, winners of 4 straight, including on the road at Wright St in BB, at Wichita St, and over fellow MVC sleepers, the States: Indiana & Illinois.  Plus Colt Ryan (Buffet All-Name team nominee) is plain fun to watch, averaging 27 points per game in that stretch, up from 20 per game for the season.

 

In the Waiting Line..

Creighton should feel pretty safe, although the 9 seed was there lowest spot of the season, they could drop to double-digit seeding with an early loss, but not much lower than that.

Wichita is a different story, despite the ugly week in the Waiting Line… a loss to Missouri State today, or even Illinois St (should they upset Northern Iowa) could be at large damaging

 

Best Non-Conference Win: Indiana State over Miami (Fl) – 57-55 OT

 

2013 Larry Bird MVC Player of the Year: Doug McDermott, Creighton

MVC Newcomer of the Year: Cleanthony Early, Wichita State

MVC Freshman of the Year: Marcus Marshall, Missouri State

MVC Defensive Player of the Year: Dyricus Simms-Edwards, Bradley

MVC Coach of the Year: Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

 

2013 All-Missouri Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Team
Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State
Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
Doug McDermott, Creighton
Jake Odum, Indiana State
Colt Ryan, Evansville

 

MVC 2013 Jack Leasure Madbomber Award Candidate: Marc Sonnen, No Iowa, 82/183, 31 gm, 2.6 gm, 45%

MVC Gregory Douglas Ott Award Candidate: Grant Gibbs, Creighton 2.7 A/TO

 

 

MYRTLE BEACH MADNESS: 2013 BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT

Myrtle Beach, Florida March 5-10, 2013, HTC Center

(note: this is the home court of Coastal Carolina, it was with extreme disappointment to learn it is not called the Jack Leasure Court @ the HTC Center)

 

It looked an opportunity for High Point to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history, finishing the regular season tied for first (although seeds in the tournament are split out by division) with Charleston Southern for best record.  Then their sensational freshman John Brown went down, and that caught up with them in the quarterfinals as Liberty continued a magical run from the 9th best record in conference to the semifinals of the conference tournament.

 

The favorite remains: Charleston Southern, top record (tied) in the regular season,  the face VMI in the semis, and just recently took them to the shed 92-69. Saah Nimley & Arlon Harper pace the Buccaneers, with Nimley especially serving as their stat filler, with 16 pts, 5 assists and 5 rebounds per game.  There wasn’t a lot non-conference to point to here, but a 13-4 conference season makes you stand up and take notice.

 

Who didn’t take notice? Gardner-Webb. You want hot? The Runnin’ Bulldogs come in winners of 8 straight, swept Charleston Southern this season, and if they can extinguish tournament upstart Liberty, are poised to take this tournament.  Yes, their only loss in their last 11 is a 3 point loss to Presbyterian of all teams, but when you are at this level, the Buffet views that as the same as if Indiana were to lose to Iowa or Northwestern.  No one is psyched about it, but we’re also not ready to send them to the CIT because of it.  In Big South terms, let’s not consider that evidence that they are a fraud. Tashan Newsome (14 pts & 5  rebs) and Donta Harper (13 ppg) lead a tempo-controlling team (65.5 poss/40min), have made this squad the substitute for High Point as a first time Tournament participant candidate out of the Big South.

 

VMI: Don’t see them getting beyond Charleston So, but it’s always fun to watch Stan Okoye, Big South POY – 21.5 pts and 9 rebounds per game, and in the last two regular season wins he put up 33 and 15, and added another 31 and 9 in the second round win over Longwood.

 

Liberty: Has used dominant rebounding, strong FT shooting (86%) and 22 points per game from Davon Marshall to pull a pair of upsets, and still be standing heading into the weekend.

 

Who Should Win: WE LOVE STREAKERS. And streakers who swept the regular season series? For the first time ever, Gardner-Webb should be eating in the Buffet.

 

Best Non-Conference Win: Coastal Carolina vs. Akron, 74-70

 

Big South Player of the Year: Stan Okoye, VMI

Big South Freshman of the Year: John Brown, High Point

Big South Defensive Player of the Year: DJ Covington, VMI

Big South Coach of the Year: Chris Holtmann, Gardner-Webb

 

2013 All-Big South Conference Men’s Basketball Team
Stan Okoye, F, Sr., VMI
Saah Nimley, G, Soph., Charleston Southern
Anthony Raffa, G, R-Sr., Coastal Carolina
John Brown, F, R-Fr., High Point
Jeremy Atkinson, F., Sr., UNC Asheville

Big South 2013 Jack Leasure Madbomber Award Candidate: Davon Marshall, Liberty, 93/233, 2.8/gm 42%

Big South Gregory Douglas Ott Award Candidate: Rodney Glasgow, VMI 2.6 A/TO

 

2013 HORIZON LEAGUE MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP

March 5, 8-9, 12 – on the floor of the higher remaining seed.

 

Much like the Atlantic Sun, a Butler-free calm flowed through the Horizon League this year.  As the Butler exodus, opened up a strong regular season title chase. In the end, despite the best efforts of Ray McCallum, Valparaiso won the first HL regular season A.B.

 

Valparaiso missed their chance at the Pit to really fill Butler’s shoes, an early second-half basket pulled them within two of the Lobos, but a 12-3 run quickly extinguished those upset hopes.   After a 1st game let down, following what then seemed like a huge win at Murray St, Valpo won 13 of the next 15, losing only a home game to Detroit (who owed them that favor after their thrilling 89-88 win in Detroit in January), on top of the 13 of 15, Valpo is the conference’s hottest team, having won 4 straight coming in.  They’re lead by old Buffet friends Ryan Broekhoff (15 pts & 7.5 rebs per game) and Kevin Van Wijk (12.6) instrumental in the bon voyage Horizon League tournament pasting of Butler last season.

 

Detroit: Ray Ray Ray Ray.  The 2012 conference champs have the very reason for that championship back: Ray McCallum, team leader in points, assists, blocks, and moxie. Seconded, yet again by Nick Minnerath (back after missing much of last year with injury), and bringing Juwan Howard’s son with them this time, they take a late season win in Valpo with them into their tournament title defense. They were largely inconsistent down the stretch, perhaps resting too much after their win at Valpo, as they were torched by Wichita St and missed a great opportunity to get a win at Liacouras versus Temple, they did show something in a close lose at the Carrierdome, losing by just 4 earlier this season.

 

Who Should win: Detroit is the most talented, but they often refuse to play defense (177th nationally in defensive efficiency), and Wright State looms as their semifinal opponent, which might spell doom. Even so, Valpo is more complete if less athletic.

 

If not them, who? The aforementioned Wright State, top team in the conference defensively and at controlling the pace.  They kept threatening to break through as a top Horizon team, but each time they did a head scratching loss or 3-game losing streak got in the way, so they’ll have to be sleeper rather than contender.  For a team whose top scorer averages 11.3 that is just fine with them.

 

Best Non-Conference Win: Wisconsin-Green Bay vs. Marquette, 49-47

 

Horizon League Player of the Year: Ray McCallum, Detroit

Horizon League Newcomer of the Year: Bryn Forbes, Cleveland St

Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year: Damian Eagle, Youngstown St

Horizon League Coach of the Year: Billy Donlon, Wright St

 

2013 All-Horizon Leaue Men’s First Team Team

Ray McCallum, Jr., G……………………….. Detroit

Ryan Broekhoff, Sr., F……………….. Valparaiso

Nick Minnerath, Sr., F………………………. Detroit

Kendrick Perry, Jr., G…….. Youngstown State

Keifer Sykes, So., G…………………… Green Bay

 

Horizon 2013 Jack Leasure Madbomber Award Candidate: Ryan Broekhoff, Valparaiso, 76/175, 2.5/gm, 43%

Horizon League Gregory Douglas Ott Award Candidate: (tie) Blake Allen, Youngstown St & Ray McCallum, Detroit, 2.4 A/TO

 

2013 MAAC CHAMPIONSHIP – “LET’S GO”

March 7-11, Springfield, MA, MassMutual Center

 

5 teams, 2 game separation from 1st to 5th, and truthfully, all 10 squads involved could see themselves with scissors and pieces of the net on Monday night.  Now, before launching deeper a Buffet apology must go out to loyal reader Leif Beaver, who championed, in his own way, the Iona Gaels, and the Buffet dismissed them as a contender.  Then, be ever diligent, did some digging and discovered that despite their 4th place finish, this is a squad that is best in conference per KenPom’s efficiency ranking, with a top 25 national offensive ranking.  The hottest team is Rider, 5 game winning streak, seven of their last 8, which includes a pair of wins over top seed Niagara.

 

And lest we forget Niagara. A fine regular season marred only by a 3 game win streak that imperiled their top seed status, but otherwise really established themselves as a front-runner.  2nd in scoring behind Iona (given Iona’s style of play, almost unfair to compare them to anyone offensively), and a trio of leaders that really keep them paced, Anthony Mason’s second college basketball playing son, Antoine Mason, a redshirt sophomore averaging 18.3 pts and 4 rebounds, All-Buffet Name Team Candidate Juan’ya Green, averaging 17, 4, and 5 assists, and Ameen Tanksley, with 11.1 pts and 6 rebounds of his own.

Iona. MOMO MOMO MOMO.  The UofA transfer has assumed control of this squad following last season’s graduation of Scotty Machado.   He has failed to score under 20 just one in the last 12 games, and, you might think they are struggling, having lost 6 of 9, but those six losses: By: 1, 2, 1, 1, 3 and 3.  This is a team on the cusp, and the cusp just might be reached this weekend.

 

Loyola (MD)  Before talking about Rider, how about the neglected #2 seed, last year’s tournament champs have won 6 of 8, won at Tennessee St in BB, and are playing really solid basketball.   Led by Dylon Cormier (16 pts, 4.4 rebs) and Erik Etherly (16.2pts, 6.3 rebs) they’ve shown real road gravitas (8-7 overall) that makes you think they won’t get lost in the Big Dig or retracing the ride of Paul Revere.

 

Rider is the flag carrier of the Buffet new streak fetish. Having won 5 straight coming in, including wins at Niagara and at Big South #1 seed Charleston Southern.  They’ve split or swept with the other 3 in the top 4 in seeding, and feature a trio of double-digit per game scorers in Jonathon Thompson, Anthony Myles and Daniel Stewart.

 

Who Should Win: The nod goes to Momo and Leify – KenPom projects CHAMPIONSHIP for Iona.  Maybe they won’t blow an 80 pt lead in the tournament this year…

 

If not them, who? Canisius seems the most likely the rise up from the 5-10 slot, with wins at Niagara and Rider, a sneaky win in Temple (by 10) in mid-December, and nice performance in Detroit 11 days later, this team may not have been overwhelming impressive in MAAC play, but they did show that they can do a thing or two on the court.  Plus, Billy Baron (apparent new head coach Jim Baron just keep having children, so he’d have a leader for his future basketball squads) is a lot of fun to watch play basketball, and Issac Sosa loves to bomb 3pointers to his heart’s content (and a 40% rate, to his team’s content as well).

 

Best Non-Conference Win: Canisius at Temple 72-62

 

MAAC Player of the Year: Lamont Momo Jones, Iona

MAAC Freshman of the Year: (tie) Amadou Sidibe, Fairfield & Shane Richards, Manhattan

MAAC Defensive Player of the Year: Rhamel Brown, Manhattan

MAAC Coach of the Year: Joe Mihalich, Niagara

 

2013 All-MAAC Men’s Basketball First Team
Billy Baron, Canisius

Lamont Jones, Iona

Dylon Cormier, Loyola

Erik Etherly, Loyola

Juan’ya Green, Niagara

Antoine Mason, Niagara

 

MAAC 2013 Jack Leasure Madbomber Award Candidate: Sean Armand, Iona, 101/244, 30 gm, 3.4/g, 41%

MAAC Gregory Douglas Ott Award Candidate: Tavon Sledge, Iona, 1.9 A/TO (yes, that’s best in conference)

 

2013 WEST COAST CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP

March 6-11, Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada

 

The 2013 West Coast Conference, where a 1-15 conference season = berth in the quarterfinals.  But it also might mean the regular season undefeated conference champ might have their way back to the final, and straight to a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament paved in LMU Lion gold.  There’s really only one squad to talk about here, although St. Mary’s does have some In the Waiting Line…™ considerations at hand.  But, giving much time to anyone other than Gonzaga (and putting anyone else above the “Who Should Win” line is a disservice to the season they had.  By now, if you don’t know who Kelly Olynyk is, you haven’t been watching any college hoops games, studio shows, highlight shows, or sports in general, he’s the 7’0” junior center, who looks a bit like Sasquatch, who was asked to redshirt in order to really shape his game.  So when Robert Sacre when to hang out with the dysfunctional Lakers, they’d have a new force in the middle since Sleepy Sam Dower still can only seem to stay focused for 23% of the time.  In that year, Olynyk got stronger, got more skilled and became a 17.7 point, 7 rebound, 1.2 blocks per game force (by contrast in 10-11, he was at 5.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and .1 blocks) – and Gonzaga isn’t some barely mentioned WCC-team, the Zags were a tournament participant, so the fact that non-die hards don’t remember a game who played over 10 minutes per game is saying something.  The complimentary pieces are there – floor leader Kevin Pangos, who many people think may have taken a step back, but don’t realize that his numbers are right there – his scorer is down a bit, hello Olynyk! But his turnover rate is down, his assist/to rate is up by nearly ¾ of an assist, his FG% is steady, his 3pt% is up, and his FT% is down, but only slightly. He’s just as good as the freshman PANGOS! sensation, he’s just a bit overshadowed which for Gonzaga, and their tournament (NCAA, not WCC – those are pretty much in stone) chances is really good. We still haven’t discussed Elias Harris, Gary Bell Jr., David Stockton, Guy Landry Edi, or Michael Hart, to go with Sleepy Sam Dower.  This is the most complete team, in the Buffet’s opinion, Few has taken into March.  Now here’s the question – have they been tested enough? They are the de facto #2 team in the Big12, after defeated Kansas St, Oklahoma St and Oklahoma on either neutral courts or away plus Baylor and West Virginia at home.  They swept through their conference, which includes 2 meetings each with St. Mary’s & BYU, took out Southern Conference champion Davidson. BUUUUUUUUUT they were soundly beaten at home early December by Illinois (we did think that Brandon Paul was the best player in the universe back then, until he suffered Geno Smith Syndrome), and in mid-January feel at Butler, yes on a questionable call+buzzer beater, but Butler was without their best player, so questions do exists.  The question of whether they will be a #1 seed, however, won’t likely exist, so long as they clean up shop in Vegas.

 

Who Should Win: See: last paragraph.

 

If not them, who? When not breaking the rules to get Patty Mills to come over from Australia, Randy Bennett has made a career out of being the thorn in Gonzaga’s side.  And this is a team with but 2 non-conference top 100 wins, and only 1 versus an at-large caliber team (granted it came at a wonderful time, vs. Creighton on Feb 23), and a couple of resume uglifying losses (Pacific/Georgia Tech), so therefore they have a lot more on the line than usual.  Matthew Dellavedova has made dramatic WCC moments his signature as much as his aversion to grooming, and he raised his game from the line and from 3 this year to prove it.  Even more important is a healthy Stephen Holt come tournament time, as well as returning cast of characters: Beau Levesque, Brad Waldow and Mitchell Young.  This team needs nothing short of a tournament final, as even as loss to BYU, while not “bad” from a resume perspective, would be “bad” for a team with a short resume, and a week to let a loss marinate while other Waiting Liners… pull off big wins.

 

Best Non-Conference Win: Gonzaga over Kansas St on a neutral court, 68-52

Most surprising non-conference when looking for the best: Santa Clara at Saint Louis, 74-62 on Nov, 14

 

2013 WCC Player of the Year: Kelly Olynyk, Jr., F, Gonzaga

2013 WCC Defensive Player of the Year: Mike Hart, Sr., G, Gonzaga

2013 WCC Freshman of the Year: Stacy Davis, Fr., F, Pepperdine

2013 WCC Coach of the Year: Mark Few, Gonzaga

 

2012-13 ALL-WEST COAST CONFERENCE TEAM (apparently everyone is invited):

Brandon Davies, BYU (sorry Jimmer! Man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do)

Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary’s

Cole Dickerson, San Francisco

Kevin Foster, Santa Clara

Elias Harris. Gonzaga

Tyler Haws, BYU

Anthony Ireland, Loyola Marymount

Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga

Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga

Marc Trasolini, Santa Clara

 

WCC 2013 Jack Leasure Madbomber Award Candidate: (tie)

Matthew Dellavedova, St Mary’s, 79/203, 31 games, 2.5 games, 39%

Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga, 68/160, 31 games, 2.2 games, 42%

WCC Gregory Douglas Ott Award Candidate: (tie)

Kevin  Pangos, Gonzaga, 2.6 A/TO

David Stockton, Gonzaga, 2/6 A/TO

 

2013 PATRIOT LEAGUE MEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONS

March 6, 9 and 13th –  at site of higher seed

 

And then there were four.  Now, this is another conference that some think do the right way.  If the goal is to crown the best team in conference, and certainly winning the regular season title is a strong indicator of that, then your conference tournament should be designed to protect that regular season titlist.  Otherwise, you’ll have a very exciting run by a #8 seed, who then loses by 35 in the 1st round of tournament and, more importantly, will have rendered January through March meaningless.  The Patriot League doesn’t do that, and Bucknell thanks them for it.

 

Bucknell.  The conference champ (some say by default, see: Lehigh, below) by two games, had some nice moments – winning over at-large contending La Salle, on a neutral floor versus New Mexico St, finishing the season on a five game win streak, and with only 2 total conference losses (to the then fully stocked Mountainhawks and at Lafayette).  They also took Missouri to the limit in Columbia, where Missouri suddenly remembers what basketball is (unlike their road adventures) and a win, before we knew how little it meant, in West Lafayette to open the season.  Mike Muscala is a treat to watch play basketball, and with his double-digit scoring running buddies – Cameron Ayers, Bryson Johnson, Joe and Whillman), and a suffocating defense in conference, it’ll not only be a big upset if Bucknell isn’t the Patriot League tournament representative, but given the unfortunate injury to CJ McCollum (who is still sidelined through at least the tournament semifinal round) – who is having to balance coming back with his NBA draft stock, and I bet a lot of people who have already cashed his NBA checks for him, have some very anti-Patriot League tournament participation advice – it would be very disappointing for basketball fans everywhere

 

Who Should It Be: look up, you’ll see

 

If not them, who? If McCollum gets back for a potential final against Bucknell, and is in some version of game shape, all bets are off. More likely, without him, Lehigh turns into a sleeper, because they still were able to 11-4 without McCollum, including a win at Bucknell, before the Bison repaid the favor on February 18, and come in on a 3 game win streak (this is following a slight losing streak, that many thought was the loss of McCollum finally and truly catching up to them), but they didn’t fall apart, so it remains to be seen what this upstart crew can do, in trying to bail water and stay afloat until their star can (if he can) get back.  Gabe Knutson, Mackey McKnight and Holden Greiner are the guys who don’t want you to overlook them simply because CJ ain’t there.  They all played pretty strong roles in the 2012 NCAA tournament run, are good players in their own right, and Greiner especially has made himself into a 15 ppg scorer since McCollum went down.

 

Lafayette: Lafayette has a Feb 16 win over Bucknell, a 6 game win streak and a sweet mascot.  Those equal sleeper here – Seth Hinrichs, Tony Johnson and Dan Trist will try to get this 3rd place team into their first NCAA tournament in 13 years.

 

Best Non-Conference Win: Bucknell over LaSalle 74-55

 

2013 Patriot League Player of the Year: Mike Muscala, Bucknell

2013 Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year: Mike Muscala, Bucknell

2013 Patriot League Rookie of the Year: Kyle Wilson, Army

2013 Patriot League Coach of the Year: Zach Spiker, Army

 

2012-13 Patriot League  First Team:

Cameron Ayers, Bucknell (Jr., G)

Ella Ellis, Army* (Sr., F)

Holden Greiner, Lehigh (Sr., F)

Tony Johnson, Lafayette* (Sr., G)

Mike Muscala, Bucknell* (Sr., C)

 

Patriot League 2013 Jack Leasure Madbomber Award Candidate:

John Schoof, American, 70/138, 30 games, 2.3 gm, 51%

 

Patriot League Gregory Douglas Ott Award Candidate:  Tony Johnson, Lafayette, 2.1 A/TO

 

2013 SUN BELT MEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

March 8-11, Summit Arena, Hot Springs, Arkansas

 

Ok, ok, there are two things at play here:

  1. It’s 8pm Eastern time on the third day of conference tourneys and not one 12day of conference tourneys has come out yet.
  2. Middle Tennessee state won a true round robin regular season conference title by FIVE games.

 

How much previewing is required? We could talk about MTSU’s resume, which is a bit lacking, considering they have 1 top 100 win (almost top 50, but Ole Miss stopped playing after Henderson taunted the crowd), but still has only one bad loss, a road conference game, which we imagine the tournament committee would overlook (especially since Arkansas St is the defector #2 seed in the tournament (although their 8 losses is 3rd best not 2nd), if the committee could just point to more work done by MTSU.  There wasn’t.   They missed their chance against Akron, they were blown out by both Belmont & Florida, and while a tournament final berth and loss would be nice, it would still have them take on another top 100 loss, and while they sat as a 13 and in at-large range, another loss coupled by some conference tournament work by the other Waiting Liners… could spell doom. Then again, all those teams could play like they did Wednesday night, and MTSU could probably lose tomorrow night and be ok. But we advise against. Instead, we hope they give us the opportunity to get to know Marcos Knight, Raymond Cintron, Shawn Jones, Bruce Massey and Neiko Hunter a bit better, and learn the ins and outs of the top offensive and defensive team in the Sun Belt over the next few days.

 

If not them, who?: well Arkansas State DID beat them once.  And hard to talk about the Sun Belt, without at least mentioning Tony Mitchell’s name, although North Texas is just the most disappointing team you’ll find in college hoops and Tony Mitchell is why. An extreme talent and almost surefire first round pick, hasn’t shown that he cares much, evidenced by the fact that he had the size/tools to dominate, especially in the Sun Belt, and isn’t his own team’s leading scorer.  If he decides the showcase is now. WATCH OUT.  But, nothing suggests Tony Mitchell has ever cared about showcasing himself.  We always notice conference players of the year, he’s on South Alabama, and they go by USA, so maybe it’s patriotic, plus his name is Augustine Rubit (all-name candidate). So there you go Auggie, your Jags made the sleeper list.

 

Best Non-Conference Win: Middle Tennessee State over Ole Miss 65-62

 

2013 Sun Belt Player of the Year: Augustine Rubit, South Alabama

2013 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year: Bruce Massey, Middle Tennessee

2013 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year: Shawn Long, Louisiana-Lafayette

2013 Sun Belt Coach of the Year: Kermit Davis, Middle Tennessee

 

2012-13 Sun Belt Conference First Team:

Greg Gantt (Florida Atlantic, Sr., Guard)

Tymell Murphy (FIU, Jr., Forward)

Elfrid Payton (Louisiana-Lafayette, So., Guard)

Marcos Knight (Middle Tennessee, Sr., Guard)

Augustine Rubit (South Alabama, Jr., Forward)

 

Sun Belt 2013 Jack Leasure Madbomber Award Candidate:

Malik Smith, Florida International, 81/236, 29 games, 2.8 gm, 34%. Makes sense, we’ve seen what Russ Smith & Peyton Siva are sometimes up to, maybe Pitino’s just coach their guards to take all liberties with the ball, that shooting percentage for those launching numbers are something else.

 

Sun Belt Gregory Douglas Ott Award Candidate:  Bruce Massey, 1.9 A/TO

 

 

SOUTHERN CONFERENCE BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

March 8-11, U.S. Cellular Center, Asheville, NC

 

There was method to the Buffet madness once we hit day 3 of conference tourneys and no Buffet, we left the WCC, SunBelt and SoCon for last for a reason.  They featured DOMINANT regular season champs that made a full who may/may not win disrespect them more than making them play multi rounds on neutral or road courts does.  Taking us to Davidson, back again in the conversation,  after taking Louisville to the limit last year in the first appearance since their Seth Curry-infused 2008 run to the elite 8.  This years’ band of Wildcats misfits, beat West Virginia, won their BracketBuster matchup versus Montana, and wilted at halftime twice in big spots, blowing a 14-point halftime lead at the Pit, losing by 5 to New Mexico, and turning a halftime tie to Duke into a 17 point loss.  But even if those are only 80 minutes of basketball over 3 games, it still shows Davidson has some muscle. Led again by last year’s tournament almost heroes, Jake Cohen (15ppg) and De’Mon Brooks (13.4ppg) they suffered but 1 conference loss, an inexplicable 13 point loss to Georgia Southern, that let Elon briefly think they might compete for the conference title, thoughts that were dashed quickly and a loss that was avenged in style, with an 83-48 Senior night finale over Georgia Southern, just so they’d know where things stood now (and going into that teams return meeting tomorrow to open the SoCon tourney for both teams) The best part is we get to cap this article of previews with 3 great streaks – including Davidson 14-straight.

 

If not them, who? Outside of the aberration that was that Ga Southern game,  Elon did probably give Davidson its toughest conference run, leading them at halftime, and having the game down to 2 with 19-seconds left, before free throws ended it, and Lucas Troutman,  Jack Isenbarger (who hit two 3s in that Davidson matchup to refuse to let the Wildcats run away with it), and Ryley Beaumont are a fun crew to watch play.

 

Best Non-Conference Win: College of Charleston at Baylor, 63-59

 

2013 SoCon Player of the Year: Jake Cohen, Davidson

2013 SoCon Defensive Player of the Year: Nathan Healy, Appalachian State

2013 SoCon Freshman of the Year: Tim Williams, Samford

2013 SoCon Coach of the Year: Bob McKillop, Davidson

 

2012-13 SoCon First Team: (WCC style – EVERYBODY in voting)

Nathan Healy, Appalachian State

Andrew Lawrence, College of Charleston

Mike Groselle, The Citadel

De’Mon Brooks, Davidson

Jake Cohen, Davidson

Jack Isenbarger, Elon

Lucas Troutman, Elon

Trevis Simpson, UNCG

Raijon Kelly, Samford

Trey Sumler, Western Carolina

 

SoCon 2013 Jack Leasure Madbomber Award Candidate:

Sebastian Koch, Elon 65/147, 30 games, 2.2/gm, 44%

 

SoCon Gregory Douglas Ott Award Candidate:  JP Kuhlman, Davidson, 2.4 A/TO

 

In the Waiting Line… (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj6yXxVc21Y)

This was a very very interesting Waiting Line… week, we are officially calling Wednesday night – Pack of Wolves Wednesday, because the scoreboard reads like someone left the backdoor to the Buffet wide-open, and a wolves, who otherwise would never be invited in, came in and decimated our selection… But with the only Waiting Line… teams in play that were discussed above, tomorrow’s edition will have a discussion of the week, preview the weekends Waiting Line… action and perhaps another Buffetology, you never EVER know…  That’s all for now, hope your appetites have been satisfied, until tomorrow, of course… (Also, who here still has either the Muse or Zero 7 still playing…)

 

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