For last night’s Hoops HD Report podcast reviewing the first week of the NCAA Tournament – CLICK HERE
The story of last night’s NIT games were fourth quarter comebacks – in the case of Oklahoma State, it meant holding serve after a 5-point deficit at the end of the 3rd quarter last night. They outscored Stanford 29-18 to advance to the quarterfinal round on Wednesday. They will play host to Western Kentucky; the Hilltoppers took the lead for good at USC with under 3 minutes to play following a pair of free throws from Darius Thompson. The Trojans missed an opportunity to take the lead in the closing seconds with a missed 3-point attempt; a dunk by Dwight Coleby sealed the win for Western Kentucky.
Saint Mary’s had a 14-point lead at the end of the 3rd quarter against Washington, but the Huskies’ comeback bid fell short as the Gaels won 85-81 thanks to 26 points (and a game-sealing 3 in the final minute) from Jordan Ford. They will face Utah at home on Wednesday night; the Utes jumped out to a 30-11 against LSU and were never challenged en route to an easy 95-71 victory at home.
Jordan Howard’s stellar career at Central Arkansas ended on a sour note as the Bears lost at home to Jacksonville State 80-59 in the quarterfinals of the CBI. For the Gamecocks, both Marlon Hunter and Malcolm Drumwright led the way with 17 points apiece. They will go on the road to play North Texas in the first semifinal game on Wednesday night; the Mean Green earned their game at home following an easy 96-67 victory at home over Mercer. The best game of the night was Campbell and New Orleans – after Chris Clemons of Campbell (who led the game with 35 points) and the Privateers’ Ezekiel Charles both hit 3s to leave the score tied at 69-69, Cory Gensler hit the game-winning shot for the Camels with under a second remaining to send Campbell to the CBI semifinal round with a 71-69 victory. They will go on the road to play San Francisco – the Dons held off Utah Valley 78-73 in the nightcap. The Wolverines never got closer than 2 points after the 3-minute mark.
UPDATE (12:10 PM) – Thankfully, the Central Arkansas-Jacksonville State was played at CAU last night – a confirmed tornado did extensive damage to Jacksonville State’s campus, including their recently renovated on-campus arena that had extensive roof damage. If they do advance to the CBI Best-of-3, they would either have to find an alternate venue for a home game or play all games on the road.
The lone game in the CIT last night involved Sam Houston State hosting Eastern Michigan – Josh Delaney led the Bearkats with 19 points to a 69-62 victory at home against the Eagles. Sam Houston State’s next game will be against in-state foe Texas-San Antonio on Thursday.
Elsewhere, Trae Young also officially announced that he will declare for the NBA Draft after a stellar season at Oklahoma. He averaged 27.4 points and 8.7 assists per game as a freshman for the Sooners.
In the coaching ranks, there are now two suitors potentially looking to hire Dan Hurley away from Rhode Island. UConn is thought to be the leading contender, but Pittsburgh now appears to have him as their top candidate for their head coaching vacancy as well. Penny Hardaway will formally be introduced as the new head coach for Memphis today.
(4) WEST TEXAS A&M VS. (5) LE MOYNE (1:00 PM). West Texas A&M comes in on a high note after earning the top seed in the South Central region and winning all 3 games at home, the last of which was against UT-Permian Basin. Le Moyne (Syracuse) won the East regional at home as the top seed as well; they beat Bloomfield to advance to this point.
(1) FERRIS STATE VS. (8) BARRY (approx. 3:30 PM). This year’s Cinderella team comes in the form of the Barry Buccaneers; despite a #7 seed in the South region, they upset #2 West Florida, #3 Claflin and #4 Eckerd to advance to the Elite Eight. Ferris State is the overall #1 seed and is fresh off of 3 wins at home in the Midwest Region – most recent was their 15-point win against Findlay.
(2) QUEENS (CHARLOTTE) VS. (7) CAL BAPTIST (7:00 PM). This game features the Team of the People – they scored an upset at top-seeded Western Oregon (ranked #3 overall) to win their first and only West Regional crown. The Lancers will play Queens University; the Royals also come in with a ton of momentum after beating a Lincoln Memorial team that was ranked #1 in the country for much of the season to win the Southeast Region.
(3) NORTHERN STATE VS. (6) EAST STROUDSBURG (approx. 9:30 PM). The nightcap features a Northern State team that ended the 8th-seeded Minnesota State-Mankato’s Cinderella run in the Central Regional final. They will play East Stroudsburg who is coming off of a win in the Atlantic Regional final against in-state foe Shippensberg.
(4) PENN STATE AT (2) MARQUETTE (7:00 PM, ESPN). Marquette will have one last home game at the Al McGuire Center on campus after beating Harvard and Oregon in the first two rounds. Penn State upset top-seeded Notre Dame on Saturday to put themselves on the doorstep of Madison Square Garden as well.
(4) MISSISSIPPI STATE AT (2) LOUISVILLE (9:00 PM, ESPN). The Bulldogs are alive and well after a buzzer-beater by Quindary Weatherspoon gave Mississippi State a win on the road at Baylor back on Sunday. They will play at Louisville – the Cards earned their way to the quarters with home wins against Northern Kentucky and Middle Tennessee.