For a preview of the inaugural 3x3U Tournament that will be taking place in San Antonio this weekend – CLICK HERE
Last night, the CBI Best-of-3 Finals tipped off at San Francisco between the Dons and the Mean Green of North Texas. USF won the opening game 72-62 with all 5 starters scoring in double figures. Chase Foster led the way with 17 points and 10 rebounds; Matt McCarthy also had 10 points and 11 rebounds. What was strange statistically was that while the Dons were 14-for-33 from behind the arc, they were 12-for-35 inside the arc. The series will now shift to North Texas where they will play on Wednesday and Friday (if necessary).
Elsewhere, Craig Smith will parlay his success at South Dakota from the past two seasons into the new head coaching position at Utah State. Smith (a former assistant to Tim Miles at Nebraska) spent 4 seasons with the Coyotes and led them to a regular-season title in the Summit League in 2016-17 along with a 2nd-place finish this season behind South Dakota State.
The more baffling news (on the surface) came at Texas-Arlington; they announced that Brian Cross will no longer be their head coach after 12 seasons at the helm. While they did fall short of preseason expectations as far as this season, they have been a perennial contender in the Southland and the Sun Belt under Cross. They had one NCAA Tournament appearance during his tenure and also included a trip to the NIT quarterfinals last season.
The West Coast Conference also announced that they will be playing a 16-game schedule in conference for next season; this presumes that there will be 10 schools in the conference for next season. They will also re-introduce a ladder format to their conference tournament beginning next year where the top two teams get byes into the semifinal round for next season.
(4) WESTERN KENTUCKY VS. (2) UTAH (7:00 PM, ESPN). Utah advanced to the semifinals with an overtime win at Saint Mary’s last week; Western Kentucky had the more difficult path with wins at USC (without Chimezie Metu who sat out the NIT) and at Oklahoma State last week. While there is a potential storyline of Rick Stansbury going up against his former team of Mississippi State in the championship on Thursday, it is also worth noting that Utah is the only Pac-12 team alive in what has been a very disappointing season for the conference as as whole this year.
(4) PENN STATE VS. (4) MISSISSIPPI STATE (approx. 9:30 PM, ESPN). Outside of beating Ohio State three times during the regular season, the Nittany Lions showed flashes of potential, but nothing beyond that. They have added some nice road wins at Notre Dame and at Marquette during their NIT run. The Bulldogs haven’t looked back since a buzzer-beater at Baylor in the second round; they won going away at Louisville to earn their spot in the semifinal round.