HoopsHD at the Big 10 Tourney: Photo essay (Day 4)

HoopsHD is always hovering around the edge of legitimacy (see Puppet, The), but thanks to the good folks at the Big 10 we are kicking it up a notch this week with a media credential to the Big 10 Tourney in DC. From his prime perch in the now-3rd row Jon Teitel will be bringing you daily updates of all the action from the Verizon Center via a series of photo essays. Day 4 brought us a pair of semifinals with Minnesota vs. Michigan and Wisconsin vs. Northwestern, but since we are already a couple of weeks behind let’s get right to the photos.

The Gophers brought their band and some determination:

 

Unfortunately, Michigan brought a team of destiny:

You know it’s a big game when Nantz/Hill/Raf are in the house:

Derrick Walton Jr. was simply unstoppable in the 84-77 win: 29 PTS/10-10 FT/9 AST/1 TO:

Coach Richard Pitino even called him 1 of the most underrated PGs in America:

Northwestern brought its mascot and you know I like a good Wildcat!

Usually I do not like it when parents are looking over their kid’s shoulder at a basketball game, but when Grant Hill’s mother Janet ends up sitting 1 row behind me, I give her the benefit of the doubt:

The Badgers are known for their 1-2 frontcourt punch of Nigel Hayes/Ethan Happ, but it is their backcourt of Zak Showalter/Bronson Koenig who make this a Final 4-caliber team:

Even though Northwestern lost 76-48 I still got to sneak a peek on the way out at Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whose son Charlie plays on the team: the Veep is in DC!

I asked Coach Chris Collins about the alums who had waited their entire lives for the Selection Show the following day, and he admitted that it would be exciting if they heard their name called:

The best part was the postgame locker room access with the Badgers:

 

 

Check back sometime soon for my Day 5 photo essay about the Michigan-Wisconsin title game!

Filed Under: CBB

Second Round Recap: Monday, March 20

Yesterday, the final 8 spots of the Sweet 16 were filled out in the East, South and Midwest Regions (the West was already accounted for on Saturday night). The Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC each have 3 teams remaining, the Big East has 2 teams remaining, and the ACC and West Coast Conference each have 1 team remaining.

Recap – Indianapolis

The magical postseason ride for Michigan continues thanks to their come-from-behind 73-69 victory over Louisville. For Louisville, it may not be as surprising when you consider that almost all of their wins of note came at home this season. Michigan also started slowly in terms of winning noteworthy games outside of Crisler Arena, but their winning streak is now at 7 games going back to the Big 10 Tournament and their regular season finale at Nebraska. They will play Oregon in the Midwest Regional in Kansas City on Thursday.

Kentucky and Wichita State went back and forth for most of their game yesterday, but a pair of blocked 3-point shots on back-to-back possessions by the Shockers allowed Kentucky to escape with a 65-62 victory. They will advance to play UCLA in the South Regional in Memphis in a regular season rematch where UCLA came out victorious in Lexington.

Recap – Tulsa

Kansas and Michigan State have had occasional matchups early in the season as part of the State Farm Champions Classic, and yesterday’s game was competitive for the first 25 minutes. Kansas blew it open midway through the 2nd half and coasted to a 90-70 victory. They will meet Purdue in a de facto home game in Kansas City in the Midwest Region on Thursday night.

In the nightcap, things were setting up for a typical USC comeback – Baylor jumped out to a 10-point lead and USC was able to take the lead in the 2nd half with about 5 minutes left to play. However, a back-breaking 4-point play by Manu Lecomte put the Bears up for good at the 4:30 mark and they would never trail again en route to an 82-78 victory. Thanks to chaos in the East Region, the Bears are the highest remaining seed and will play South Carolina in the East Region at Madison Square Garden Friday night.

Recap – Greenville

North Carolina looked like they might breeze in this game early on after jumping out to a 30-13 lead late in the 1st half, but Arkansas was able to gradually chip away at the lead and actually led 65-60 with 3:30 remaining in the game. The Tar Heels didn’t panic and closed out the game with a 12-0 run in the final 3:30. North Carolina will move on to the South Region in Memphis and will play Butler on Friday.

While North Carolina survived an upset bid in Greenville, Duke was not so lucky against South Carolina. They led 30-23 at the half, but the Gamecocks scored a whopping 65 points in the 2nd half and they advanced to their first-ever Sweet 16 with an 88-81 victory over the Blue Devils. Sindarius Thornwell showed why he was the SEC Player of the Year with a game-high 24 points last night. South Carolina will play Baylor Friday night in the East Regional in New York.

Recap – Sacramento

While Rhode Island was able to jump out to a 49-38 lead at the beginning of the 2nd half, Oregon also gradually chipped away at the Rams’s lead and Tyler Dorsey hit a pair of clutch 3s late in the game – one to tie the game at the 1:40 mark and another to take the lead for good with under a minute to play. With a 75-72 win in hand, the Ducks move on to Kansas City and will play a red-hot Michigan team in the Midwest Region in Kansas City.

The last ticket to the Sweet 16 was punched by UCLA – the first 26 minutes of the game were relatively even until the Bruins took the lead for good with back-to-back 3-point shots by Lonzo Ball at the 13-minute mark. The Bearcats never got closer than a 5-point deficit the rest of the way and UCLA won 79-67. They will play Kentucky in the South Region in Memphis on Friday night.

Teitel Tripleheader: HoopsHD does 3 games in 1 day

HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel does love his college basketball, but watching 3 different games from 3 different locations in a 10-hour span is utterly unprecedented.  On Saturday March 4 he pulled off this terrific tripleheader in DC: Villanova-Georgetown at the Verizon Center, Arizona-Arizona State at a bar, and Dayton-GW at the Smith Center. Here is his report, filed in triplicate:

It was Senior Day at Georgetown, which allowed grad transfer Rodney Pryor to take a well-deserved bow in the company of his family, complete with custom-made attire:

However, it was Villanova senior guards Josh Hart (Silver Spring, MD)/Kris Jenkins (Upper Marlboro, MD) who looked the most comfortable during the Wildcats’ 81-55 grinding of Georgetown on Saturday afternoon.  Then again, if my head coach dressed like this, I would like my chances as well (nice seats right under the basket, eh?):

Hart scored 21 PTS and looked as relaxed as a national POY candidate should while wrapping up his regular season:

Jenkins scored 19 PTS and seemed ready to make another championship-winning buzzer-beater if necessary:

I think Georgetown coach John Thompson III is a good coach who had to deal with 2 key players transferring out of the program during the past 12 months (Isaac Copeland to Nebraska/Paul White to Oregon), but there were some “Fire Thompson” chants so I would not be surprised if someone else is manning the sideline this fall.  It was a busy day at the Verizon Center so I even got a peek inside the visiting locker room before the Flyers filed in to face the Caps that evening:

I did not get a chance to ask any questions at the postgame press conference because there were so many other media folks in attendance to see the defending champs in the nation’s capital but pick against them this month at your own peril…and work that vest!:

Then it was off to a nearby bar to watch Arizona travel to Tempe for the big in-state battle with ASU.  No photos from this 1 (what happens at the bar stays at the bar!), but it does not get much better than beating your archrival on its homecourt to clinch a share of the conference title.  The most exciting aspect was the possible defensive late-blooming of freshman Lauri Markkanen, who had 3 BLK after only blocking 3 shots combined during the first 17 games of Pac-12 play: Bear Down!

I expected the final game of the night to be the 2nd of back-to-back wins by the Miller brothers (Sean/Archie) but it surprisingly turned into the Tyler Cavanaugh Show.  GW did not make the NCAA tourney but they ended the regular season in super style with an 87-81 win over Dayton, a performance that George himself felt deserving of 2 thumbs up:

I thought that Cavanaugh had peaked last March after being named NIT MVP, but apparently he had a little something extra saved up for his own Senior Night:

Sitting in the 2nd-level corner gave me a great view of each of his career-high-tying 6 threes, and after scoring his 30th and final point of the night he was subbed out to a thunderous ovation from the entire Colonial crowd.  It had appeared to be over early as GW built up a 16-1 lead before you could even blink, but the Flyers refused to give up and whittled the lead down to only 5 PTS in the final 30 seconds thanks to 24 PTS/8-10 FG from Kendall Pollard.  I got to ask Cavanaugh after the game if this was the best week of his life between making a trio of FTs with 0.9 seconds left to beat Fordham on Wednesday and then upsetting Dayton on Saturday.  He replied that it was great to play so well with about 30 of his family/friends in attendance that evening:

I also was unsure if this was going to be interim coach Maurice Joseph’s final game on the sideline, but GW offered him the full-time job on March 14 and it appears that he may accept it any day now:

To recap: 3 games, 3 locations, 3 NCAA tourney teams (Villanova/Arizona/Dayton), 3’s Company, 3’s a Crowd…sorry, have not gotten much sleep during the past week, enjoy the postseason everyone!

Filed Under: CBB

Under The Radar Postseason News, Notes and Highlighted Games – Thursday, March 16

There were a couple of noteworthy items in the annual 2017 Coaching Carousel yesterday. Cuonzo Martin was announced as the new head coach at Missouri less than 24 hours after California’s season ended with a loss to Cal State-Bakersfield. Lorenzo Romar was dismissed as the head coach at Washington after an up-and-down career in Seattle. At the peak of his career, the Huskies won the Pac-12 in 2005 and were the #1 seed in the West. While recruiting resulted in some blue-chip recruits, the Huskies have trended downwards on the court in the last 6 seasons.

– In the NIT last night, 1 was a lucky number but 2 and 3 were not. Both Syracuse and Illinois State held serve at home and won their openers, but Georgia and Houston ended up losing to Belmont and Akron, respectively. The Akron-Houston game was actually played at Texas Southern’s on-campus arena since Hofheinz Pavilion was not available. BYU also ended up losing at home to Texas-Arlington thanks to a 28-point performance from Drew Charles. TCU and UCF also won their openers at home against Fresno State and Colorado, respectively.

– In the CBI, 5 out of the 7 home teams won their openers. The biggest margin of victory actually came with Utah Valley blasting Georgia Southern 74-49 on the road. The Loyola Greyhounds also made the short trip down I-95 to George Mason and also got a 15-point win on the road. Coastal Carolina, GW, Rice, Wyoming and UMKC all won at home.

– In the CIT, Fort Wayne defeated Ball State in the Lou Henson Classic last night. Rashawn Thomas led the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders over Georgia State 80-64 with a 31-point performance. Chad Sherwood had 17 points in Idaho’s 73-50 win over SFA at home (at Memorial Gym). UMBC also got in on the fun with an 88-83 win against Fairfield at home.

CBI

ILLINOIS-CHICAGO at STONY BROOK (8:00 PM). This is the last of the opening round CBI matchups involving an improving UIC team and a Stony Brook team that managed to get a postseason bid a year after making their first NCAA Tournament appearance.

CIT

SAINT PETER’S at ALBANY (7:00 PM, Facebook Live). Saint Peter’s is coming off of a 2nd place finish in the MAAC regular season behind the Monmouth Hawks. Albany came within a minute of spoiling Vermont’s NCAA Tournament hopes in the America East championship, but will get to host at least postseason game at home against the Peacocks tonight.

FURMAN at USC-UPSTATE (7:00 PM, Facebook Live). Furman was an unexpected contender in the SoCon this year, but they lost early in their conference tournament. USC-Upstate is also coming off of a quarterfinal loss in the Atlantic Sun tournament at home against Kennesaw State. Will both teams be rusty after a 2-week layoff, or will they be well rested?

UNC-ASHEVILLE at TENNESSEE-MARTIN (8:00 PM, Facebook Live). While UT-Martin has been much improved in the last 5 seasons, they have been unable to get over the hump in the Ohio Valley conference championship game. Their reward is a home game against a UNC-Asheville team that was upset in their Big South tournament opener against Campbell.

LAMAR at TEXAS STATE (8:30 PM, Facebook Live). While Lamar is more rested after an early exit in the Southland tournament, Texas State is coming off a loss in the Sun Belt championship game to Troy.

WEBER STATE at CAL STATE FULLERTON (10:00 PM, Facebook Live). The final trophy game of the CIT first round is the Riley Wallace Classic. While Weber State tailed off in February, Fullerton was improved in the Big West and ended up finishing 3rd in the standing behind UC-Davis and UC-Irvine.

Bracket Tactics: HoopsHD’s tips to surviving and advancing

The best week of the year is finally here! This is the reason why we ponder the impact of high-school All-Americans, the importance of having a smart/veteran coach, and exactly how many different “Wildcats” can make the Final 4. For those of you who need some last-minute bracket advice grounded in historical facts/trends, see below. For the rest of you, enjoy the madness!!

TIP #1: No team that lost its opening game in its conference tournament has ever gone on to win the NCAA title that same year.
STRATEGY: The extra few days of rest have not proven helpful in the past so take a long hard look at Baylor/South Carolina before penciling them in as your champ.

TIP #2: Since 1979 only 2 national champions did not have a McDonald’s All-American on their roster (2002 Maryland and 2014 UConn).
STRATEGY: A coach who cannot recruit the best high school players usually fails to win it all so beware of picking Creighton/Oregon to go all the way.

TIP #3: The last coach to win a title in his 1st year as coach at a school was Tubby Smith at Kentucky in 1998.
STRATEGY: History is not on the side of Oklahoma State (Brad Underwood)/SMU (Tim Jankovich).

TIP #4: Since UNLV won it all in 1990, 25 of the past 26 champs have come from a power-conference (except for UConn in 2014): ACC (9), SEC (6), Big East (6), Pac-12 (2), Big 12 (1), Big 10 (1).
STRATEGY: You might want to think twice before picking anyone from the A-10/WCC to win it all.

TIP #5: Only 3 coaches with 4 or fewer prior tournament appearances have won the title since 1985 (Steve Fisher/Tom Izzo/Kevin Ollie).
STRATEGY: Teams like Florida (Mike White has 0 prior tourney appearances)/Wisconsin (Greg Gard has 1 prior tourney appearance) might need a little more seasoning before they can win it all.

TIP #6: Each champ since 2002 had a strength of schedule that was among the top-75 in the nation.
STRATEGY: You have to play the best to learn how to beat the best you might want to stay away from Gonzaga (#78)/UCLA (#79).

TIP #7: Only 3 teams have won an NCAA title after not being in the tournament the previous year (1986 Louisville/2003 Syracuse/2014 UConn).
STRATEGY: Florida State (2016 NIT)/Louisville (2016 self-imposed postseason ban) are finally ready for primetime but not quite ready to win a title.

TIP #8: There are 6 active coaches who have won at least 70% of their NCAA tournament games (minimum 5 appearances).
STRATEGY: Do not expect Mike Krzyzewski (76.9%)/John Calipari (75%) to be catching an early flight home.

TIP #9: There are 3 teams who have won at least 90% of their games in the round of 64 (minimum 5 games).
STRATEGY: Kansas (31-2)/Maryland (19-2)/North Carolina (28-1) are near-automatic.

TIP #10: There are 8 teams who have won at least 75% of their games in the round of 32 (minimum 5 games).
STRATEGY: Arizona (17-4) is looking good vs. the St. Mary’s-VCU winner if they can get by North Dakota, but the Michigan-Oklahoma State winner better pray for a miracle if they have to face Louisville (23-7).

TIP #11: There are 6 teams who have won at least 75% of their Sweet 16 games (minimum 5 games).
STRATEGY: Michigan (12-1)/Providence (4-1) have played great in their Sweet 16 games so Oregon/Baylor should not rest on their higher-seeded laurels.

TIP #12: There are 9 teams who have won at least 70% of their Elite 8 games (minimum 5 games).
STRATEGY: UCLA has won 18 of its 22 Elite 8 games (81.8%) so keep an eye on them if they can make it to the 2nd Sunday.

TIP #13: There are 5 teams who have won at least 70% of their Final 4 games (minimum 5 games).
STRATEGY: Kentucky is 12-5 in the Final 4 so if you pick them to survive the South Region then you might want to pick them to get all the way to the title game.

TIP #14: There are 10 teams who have won at least 80% of their NCAA tournament games in their home state (minimum 5 games).
STRATEGY: How pissed is North Carolina (31-1 in the state of NC) that they are playing in Greenville (SC) rather than Greensboro (NC)?!

TIP #15: There are 10 teams who are undefeated in their NCAA tournament games in a specific state (minimum 5 games).
STRATEGY: Florida must be happy in Orlando but would love to make it 2 more rounds to NYC (6-0 in the state of NY), and as much as they like playing at MSG I wonder if Duke (6-0 in the state of PA) can convince Villanova to play an Elite 8 game back in Philly.

TIP #16: There are 11 teams who have won at least 67% of their NCAA tournament games as an at-large team (minimum 5 games).
STRATEGY: Do not sleep on Kansas because even though they did not win the Big 12 tourney they have a terrific track record even when they do not get an automatic bid (52-20).

Filed Under: CBB

News, Notes and Highlighted Games – Tuesday, March 14

Jon Teitel’s Interviews:

Vanderbilt’s SF Luke Kornet – CLICK HERE
North Dakota Asst. Coach Jeff Horner – CLICK HERE
New Orleans Head Coach Mark Slessinger – CLICK HERE
New Orleans PG Christavious Gill – CLICK HERE
Florida State SG Terence Mann – CLICK HERE
Oklahoma State SF Leyton Hammonds – CLICK HERE
Northern Kentucky Head Coach John Brannen – CLICK HERE
Iona SG E.J. Crawford – CLICK HERE
UNC-Wilmington SG Chris Flemmings – CLICK HERE
South Dakota PG Michael Orris – CLICK HERE
Florida Gulf Coast PG Brandon Goodwin – CLICK HERE

Jon Teitel’s Big 10 Photo Essays:
Day 3 – CLICK HERE
Day 2 – CLICK HERE
Day 1 – CLICK HERE

For the Hoops HD NCAA Tournament Preview Podcast – CLICK HERE

Tonight, the 2017 NCAA Tournament will kick off in Dayton with a pair of opening-round matchups. Mount St. Mary’s and New Orleans will tip off prior to 7 PM and Kansas State-Wake Forest will be the nightcap. Tonight will also be the opening night for the NIT and CBI tournaments as well.

– There was one vacancy in the coaching carousel filled yesterday – Grant McCasland will become the new head coach at North Texas after a 1-season turnaround at Arkansas State. There will also be vacancies at Duquesne and Seattle since Jim Ferry and Cameron Dollar were both relieved of their duties.

– We also expect Brian Gregory to be named head coach at South Florida as well. We’ll let you know once that becomes official.

– The CIT also kicked off last night with the 2nd annual John McLendon Classic between Liberty and Norfolk State. Liberty won 73-64 to advance to the 2nd round thanks to Ryan Kemrite’s game-high 30 points.

NCAA TOURNAMENT

MOUNT ST. MARY’S vs. NEW ORLEANS (6:50 PM, TruTV). Both the Mountaineers and the Privateers won their respective regular season and conference tournaments in the Northeast and Southland Conferences, respectively. The winner travels to Buffalo to play Villanova on Thursday.

PROVIDENCE vs. USC (app. 9:20 PM, TruTV). The Trojans seemed to be the most tenuous selection of the last 4 teams in the field, although they will have a chance to justify their selection tonight. The Friars had won 6 straight games prior to losing their Big East tournament opener, but they appear to be more battle-tested than USC at this stage.

NIT

(8) UNC-GREENSBORO at (1) SYRACUSE (7:00 PM, ESPN). The Spartans got an auto bid to the NIT by virtue of a share of the SoCon regular season title and the top seed in their conference tournament. Syracuse ended up in the NIT thanks to their lack of significant wins away from home despite some sterling victories in the Carrier Dome. Fortunately for Syracuse, they will not have to leave the Carrier Dome for the first 3 rounds of the NIT, nor would they have to leave the state of New York should they advance to the NIT Final 4.

(5) OLE MISS at (4) MONMOUTH (7:00 PM, ESPN3/WatchESPN). For the second year in a row, the Monmouth Hawks will be playing at least one game at home in the NIT following a disappointing exit in the MAAC Tournament. The Rebels quietly put together a decent showing in SEC play and have shown they can hang with the big boys earlier in the year with a close loss at home to a then-Top 5 team in Baylor.

(7) VALPARAISO at (2) ILLINOIS (7:15 PM, ESPN2). Valparaiso is, in a manner of speaking, the defending NIT champions. However, they will be without the services of star player Alec Peters for the remainder of the season. Illinois stumbled badly enough late in the year to the point that they fired John Groce 24 hours before the NCAA Selection show (when they were thought to at least be a candidate Under Consideration).

(7) OAKLAND at (2) CLEMSON (8:00 PM, ESPNU). Oakland is another team that got an auto-bid to the NIT after a stunning loss to Youngstown State in the Horizon League tournament. They have actually been a better team away from home than in their home state of Michigan. Clemson ended up in the NIT after a dearth of close losses, home away and neutral courts this season.

(3) INDIANA at (6) GEORGIA TECH (9:00 PM, ESPN). Despite being a higher seed, Indiana will actually be hitting the road for their NIT opener at Georgia Tech. While they badly stumbled in the middle of Big 10 play, they did manage a few decent wins against Northwestern at home and at Ohio State before losing in the Big 10 Tournament. The Yellow Jackets have been a very tough team to beat at the Thrillerdome – ask North Carolina and Notre Dame.

(5) CHARLESTON at (4) COLORADO STATE (9:00 PM, ESPN3/WatchESPN). Both the Cougars and Rams came up 1 game short of making it to the NCAA Tournament after losing in their respective conference championship games. Charleston hits the road after playing the CAA Tournament in their home city and Colorado State returns home after an epic court storm following their last regular season home game against Front Range rival Wyoming.

(6) RICHMOND at (3) ALABAMA (9:15 PM, ESPN2). Alabama actually comes into this game with a little momentum after scoring a win against South Carolina in the SEC Tournament (and actually swept the Gamecocks in both games this season). Richmond also had a win in the A-10 Tournament before falling to VCU in the A-10 semifinals.

(6) BOISE STATE at (3) UTAH (10:00 PM, ESPNU). This was thought to be a reloading year for the Utes, and while they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament, they were still a tough out at home in Pac-12 play this year. They did beat USC at home. Boise was also a contender for the Mountain West regular season title and also scored a nice win at home against SMU, but they fell off the map after being swept by Nevada in the regular season.

(8) CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD at (1) CALIFORNIA (11:15 PM, ESPN2). We can only hope that Bill Walton [Sorry, it is Roxy Bernstein and Miles Simons] will be on the call for this one in Berkeley tonight. Despite winning against a USC team on the road earlier this season, the Bears ended up in the NIT instead with other crushing losses in the Pac-12. Bakersfield got an auto-bid to the NIT thanks to their regular season championship in the WAC.

CIT

ST. FRANCIS UNIVERSITY-PA at JACKSONVILLE (7:00 PM, Facebook Live). The Red Flash were invited to the CIT after advancing to the championship game of the NEC where they lost at Mount St. Mary’s. They did get a very thrilling victory at Wagner along the way. The Dolphins finished 6th in the Atlantic Sun, so I can only guess they were willing to pay the entry fee to host at least one CIT game this year.

HOUSTON BAPTIST at CAMPBELL (7:00 PM, Facebook Live). Buoyed by a surprise run to the Big South championship thanks to wins over UNC-Asheville and Radford, the Camels bring the Chris Clemons show back to Buies Creek for at least one more night in March. The Huskies were also a pleasant surprise in the Southland this season and were actually seeded 4th in the Southland conference tournament.

CANISIUS at SAMFORD (7:30 PM, Facebook Live). Reggie Witherspoon did a decent job in his first season at Canisius after taking over for the retired Jim Baron. They will be playing at a Samford team that was an early season contender in the SoCon before falling prey to the likes of UNC-Greensboro, Furman and East Tennessee State.