Under the Radar Game of the Day: Maryland-E Shore at Liberty (and other notable games)

Maryland-Eastern Shore at Liberty, 7:00 PM Eastern, MASN/espn3

With only 15 games on the Division I schedule tonight, the choices for our Under the Radar Game of the Day are once again fairly slim.  That being said, we do have a game tonight that features a pair of very intriguing teams who, although not having done much so far in non-conference play, could both be in the thick of things to win their conference titles.  We also have an intriguing matchup of coaches tonight as well.  The Fighting Hawks of Maryland-Eastern Shore, led by Bobby Collins who has done an amazing job bringing this team up from virtual irrelevance to become a factor in the MEAC, are travelling to Lynchburg (Virginia, not Tennessee) to take on Ritchie McKay’s Liberty Flames.

UMES enters tonight’s game at 3-6 on the season, with only two D1 wins, at home against American and in their exempt tournament against Jackson State.  Freshman Miryne Thomas had a breakout game in the win over American, registering the first of what may be many career double-doubles with 17 points and 10 boards.  With a current starting lineup that features three freshmen and two sophomores, the Hawks should just get better and better as the season goes on, and could be poised be make a serious impact in the MEAC for years to come.

Liberty is currently 6-3 overall with a notable early season win at Wake Forest.  They also gave Houston a real tough game in the Paradise Jam (which they hosted), falling by only 2 points.  The Flames have played four overtimes their last two games, falling in triple OT at home to UNC-Greensboro before defeating Georgia State Monday night in just a single overtime.  Scottie James had an impressive 19 points and 15 rebounds in the loss to UNCG, marking the fourth time he has had 10 or more rebounds in a game, including 14 against Wake Forest.  With James for Liberty matching up against Thomas for UMES, we have a rare game between a pair of UTR schools where the centers, and not the perimeter players, should be the key to determine who wins or loses this one.

 

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

-SAINT JOHN’S VS ARIZONA STATE (Staples Center, Los Angeles).  This is a tail of two teams that are off to much better starts than any of us expected.  The Johnnies have just one loss and if they’re able to win this one you have to start thinking of them as a tournament caliber team.

-COLORADO STATE AT OREGON.  If Oregon is going to land on the right side of the bubble then they need to turn it around and start winning.  A home loss to a team that looks to be nowhere near the tournament would be very damaging.

-OKLAHOMA VS USC (Staples Center, Los Angeles).  I think both of these teams will continue to improve as the year goes along, but as of now they haven’t done all that much to get excited about.  A win tonight would certainly give one of them a boost both on and off paper.

-NEVADA VS TCU (Staples Center, Los Angeles).  Those of us on the east coast will be up to 3am watching this one, but it’s worth it.  It’s the game of the night between a Nevada team that’s coming off a tough loss at Texas Tech and is looking to rebound, and a TCU team that’s unbeaten, but doesn’t have a win of this caliber on their resume yet.

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Basketball, blogging, and Teitel: HoopsHD at the BB&T Classic (Part 2 of 2)

It is December in DC so that can only mean 3 things: holiday parties, stories about the Redskins that include the phrase “mathematically eliminated”, and the BB&T Classic in Chinatown. This year we got 1 competitive match-up (Temple-GW) and…1 battle of an undefeated team vs. a winless team (Coppin State-Georgetown). Sadly, no Hill Country BBQ on this year’s pregame menu (just lukewarm pizza) but a nice long 2-hour break between the 2 games that allowed everyone to catch their breath. HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel spent all day at the Capital One Arenalast Sunday…and lived to tell about it. Earlier this week we covered Temple-GW in Part 1, and now we conclude with Coppin State-Georgetown in Part 2.

Mascot preference: real or costume?

  

Right before tip-off there was a nice big hug between the 2 new head coaches. After being named 2002 NCAA tourney MOP at Maryland, Coppin State coach Juan Dixon was drafted by the Washington Wizards that summer, where 1 of his assistant coaches was 1984 NCAA tourney MOP Patrick Ewing.  Everyone knows that Ewing is 7′ tall, but to see a human being that huge in person (vs. on TV) is just astonishing:

  

2 unexpected pregame sights: Patrick Ewing Jr. and a young boy (I assume his son) sitting together on the baseline but having very different thoughts on where the action was, and the San Jose Sharks hockey equipment being brought into the building in preparation for their game against the Capitals the following evening:

  

The Eagles hung around for most of the 1st half thanks to 5 makes from behind the arc and not having any of their shots blocked, but the Hoyas were still able to open up a 37-27 halftime lead due to C Jessie Govan. The breakout star from New York only averaged 10 PPG/5 RPG as a sophomore but had been damn-near dominant through his team’s 5-0 start: 18.6 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 63.3 FG%, and an impossible 6-10 3PM. He continued his peerless play with 16 PTS in the 1st half via a variety of moves: a 3, a baseline jumper, and a pair of old-fashioned 3-PT plays.

Coppin State G Karonn Davis tied a career-high with 20 PTS and set a career-high with 8 REB but almost ran out of teammates as Cedric Council/Blake Simpson/Adam Traore each fouled out in the 2nd half. Georgetown forwards Jamorko Pickett/Marcus Derrickson each finished with 13 PTS/4 REB but Govan was the star of the show with 26 PTS (including a pair of dunks) and a career-high 16 REB to place him among the best rebounders in the nation and make him a strong contender for the Big East All-Conference team.

In the postgame press conference I asked Coach Dixon about facing Ewing: he smiled and said that Patrick was his guy and was 1 of many people associated with the Wizards who helped teach him about the game of basketball (along with Michael Jordan/Charles Oakley/Jerry Stackhouse/Christian Laettner).

I asked Ewing about Govan’s rebounding and he said that his budding star played well…but should have had 20-30 REB!

I asked Govan about how he has become such a great rebounder and he credited his coach for telling him to work hard from day 1. He also credited his teammates…because they know to let their center grab all the available rebounds so that he will not bark at them!

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News, Notes, and Highlighted Games: Thursday, Dec 7th

NEWS AND NOTES

-For our latest Under the Radar Podcast – CLICK HERE

-For Chad Sherwood’s UTR Game of the Day, which I think is the overall game of the day between Northern Iowa and Texas Arlington – CLICK HERE

-Last night was another greater than expected night of action full of some great finishes and surprises.  Yesterday I commented about how we had top ten teams lose to unranked teams on back to back nights.  This is strange in the sense that if you look at the top ten at the end of the season, they normally have ten or less home losses combined, and almost none of those are to unranked teams.  Well, we’ve now seen it happen on back-to-back-to-back nights!!  But, there is one huge asterisk to that.  It happened to Florida twice, which raises the question….are they really a top ten team?

I’m starting to think that the best thing for Florida to do is schedule highly ranked teams away from home.  In the PK-80 they were absolutely fantastic.  This week at home, they were boat-raced by rival Florida State, and then beaten by Loyola of Chicago last night.  Loyola it was a huge win that could play a huge role in them getting a bid.  These are the kinds of wins UTR teams need in order to make it.

-Kansas didn’t lose at home, but they lost mostly at home, and rather decisively to Washington in another hugely shocking result.  Washington, a team that none of us believed would be able to punch their way out of a paper bag, is suddenly 7-2 with one huge win on their resume.  The Huskies really looked good in this game and if they play at that level they could make quite a bit of noise in a rather weak Pac Twelve.

-There were two other Pac Twelve teams that were blown out by UTR teams.  Washington State, who a week ago we were all praising, was blown to bits at Idaho.  Cal faired even worse getting blown out at home by Central Arkansas.  Cal has now been blown out by a div2 team and a Southland team that we’re not expecting much out of.

-Temple played their first home game last night and beat a Wisconsin team that is looking better, but still isn’t quite there yet.

-Rhode Island at Alabama was another exciting game with the Tide winning another close one at home.

 

HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-VALPARAISO AT PURDUE.  Valpo comes into this game unbeaten, but this is their first real test.  It’s also the kind of game they’ll need to win if they want to impress the selection committee.  Purdue is suddenly looking a lot better.  Their neutral floor win against Arizona is gaining value, and they also have wins against Louisville, Maryland, and Northwestern to go along with it.

-IOWA AT IOWA STATE.  This has been a great series in recent years, but with Iowa State looking more like an NIT team than an NCAA Team, and Iowa looking just flat out awful, it’s a little harder to get excited about this year’s edition.

 

BUY GAMES

-Ohio @ Maryland
-NJIT @ Rutgers
-Howard @ Georgetown

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Under the Radar Game of the Day: Texas-Arlington at Northern Iowa

Texas-Arlington at Northern Iowa, 8:00 PM Eastern, NBC Sports Channel-Chicago/espn3

Although the overall college basketball schedule is very light this evening, the Under the Radar Game of the Day is a fascinating one as the Missouri Valley Conference’s Northern Iowa Panthers host the Sun Belt’s top team, the Texas-Arlington Mavericks.  UNI enters tonight’s game at 6-2 overall, but it is hard to have a more respectable pair of losses — at North Carolina and in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game to Villanova.  They also have a trifecta of solid wins — over SMU and NC State in the Bahamas and a home win over UNLV in last week’s Mountain West-Missouri Valley challenge series.  Bennett Koch led the team with 30 points in the win over Vegas after having picked up a double-double in the Villanova loss.  Tywhon Pickford has been dominant as well, registering double-digits on the boards in all but one game so far, including his double 18 (18 points and 18 rebounds) output against NC State.

Texas-Arlington enters tonight’s game at 7-1 overall, with the lone loss having come by 1 point at Alabama.  Although none of their wins have been against the types of names that Northern Iowa has defeated, the Mavs do have a pair of solid road victories at Niagara and at BYU.  Kevin Hervey has been over 20 points in all but one game that he has played so far this season, and has had at least 8 rebounds five times already.  Also keep an eye on Erick Neal who is coming off a 20 point output against North Texas after scoring a triple-double (10 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists) against non-D1 Texas-Dallas.  In fact, Neal has been in double-digits in the assists column all but twice so far this year, giving him the third best Assist-Rate in the nation according to kenpom.com.  Efforts like that may be necessary again tonight in this matchup of two of the best UTR teams in the nation.

 

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Under the Radar: December 6th

Tonight’s highlighted conference is the Missouri Valley.  Northern Iowa is off to a great start with some big wins, Loyola Chicago picked up a huge win at Florida and only has one loss on the year, and Valpo is still unbeaten as well.  We think this league could send multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament if they keep winning at the rate that they are now.  From there we run through all 22 UTR conferences and talk about Vermont’s struggles, Bucknell’s slow start, NKU’s disappointing loss at East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee’s and Western Kentucky’s big starts out of Conference USA, and much more.  As always, we close with this week’s UTR Top Ten.

 

And for all you radio lovers, below is an mp3 version of the show…

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News, Notes, and Highlighted Games: Wednesday, Dec 6th

NEWS AND NOTES

-For Chad Sherwood’s UTR Game of the Day – CLICK HERE

-Last night was a much more exciting night than expected.  We start off with Notre Dame, which became the second top ten team to lose at home to an unranked team in a 24 hour period when Ball State, who led for most of the game and all throughout the second half, pulled of a shocking upset.  A huge congrats to the Cardinals in what could be a defining moment for a program that has done a lot to get itself turned around in recent years.  As for the Irish, it’s a bruise to the resume (and to the ego) but it’s hardly a crippling injury.  They are a good team that has already won some big games and they’ll surely win some more throughout the year.

-South Dakota State controlled much of the game at Wichita State and was up by double digits about midway through the second half, and it looked like we may have a THIRD top ten team go down at home to an unranked team, but Wichita remembered they were Wichita in the final ten minutes and won after dominating the latter part of the game.

-Villanova looked as good as a team can look when they put away Gonzaga at MSG.  This is a very good, #1 seed caliber, Villanova team.

-Michigan State had to sweat a little bit at Rutgers, but pulled it off to pick up another true road win and get off to a 2-0 start in the Big Ten.

-Arizona and Texas A&M was hugely entertaining.  Not only was it close for the entire game, but Bill Walton was talking about things completely unrelated to basketball all throughout, and was confused about basic rules of the game.  It was fantastic!!  I want to go back and watch it again!  As far as what it meant on the court, Arizona picked up a neutral floor (at least semi-neutral) win against a legitimate top ten team.  After a train wreck of a showing down in the Bahamas, the Wildcats have answered with a true road win at UNLV and a neutral floor win over Texas A&M.  I think it’s safe to say they have righted the ship.

-Minnesota slipped up again at Nebraska.  Does Nebraska have a pulse??  Is it possible they may be able to play their way onto the bubble?

-Virginia at West Virginia was another exciting game that was close all throughout.  West Virginia ended up picking up the win, but no real shame or damage to Virginia.  West Virginia is capable of beating Final Four caliber teams at home, so the fact that Virginia hung in like the did is more of a good sign for the future than anything else.

-Texas Tech trailed Nevada for almost the entire game, but rallied to force overtime and then got it done in overtime.  It’s a win that Nevada really could have used in regards to contending for a protected seed, but they’re still looking like a solid tournament team and this loss won’t hurt them in that regard, especially when you consider they have another chance against TCU coming up.

-Vermont fell at Marquette 91-81.  I think this pretty much puts Vermont into the category of needing an automatic bid to make The Dance.  Fortunately, the America East is played at campus sites, so if they finish first they’ll have home court advantage throughout the tournament.

-Texas was blowing out VCU, then VCU came roaring back, but the Longhorns held on to pick up their first true road win of the year against their coach’s old team.

-Syracuse picked up a feel good win against their old conference rivals UConn.  It’s a nice win away from home for the Orange.  Their resume doesn’t look all that bad right now.

-Saint John’s is 8-1 after picking up a mostly road win against Grand Canyon.  The game wasn’t on campus, but it was a pro GCU crowd.  The Johnnies are off to what is by far their best start since Mullin took over.

 

HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-WISCONSIN AT TEMPLE.  Wisconsin is coming off a hugely needed win at Penn State, and you get the sense they need to keep that momentum going.  Temple has great power numbers, but chances are it reflects their circumstance more than how good they actually are.  Having said that, they can continue their early season momentum with a win in this one.  I get the sense that both teams still have something to prove and could really use this win.

-WYOMING AT SOUTH CAROLINA.  I like this Wyoming team, but I’m starting to get the feeling that if they don’t win this one then they’re not a tournament caliber team.  It’s not that it’s their only chance.  It’s a question of whether they have the capability to win a game like this when they get chances like this.

-NORTHERN KENTUCKY AT EAST TENNESSEE STATE.  NKU has a very small margin for error, but I don’t think it’s entirely outside the realm of possibility for them to land inside the bubble.  It’s near the realm of possibility, but not entirely outside of it.

-SAINT BONAVENTURE AT CANISIUS (Big 4).  The Bonnies have won five out of six since dropping their opener.  They seem to be back on track and can win their third true road game tonight.

-RICHMOND AT OLD DOMINION (Old Colonial).  Richmond has been an utter disappointment and while ODU has looked good at times, they haven’t quite looked like an NCAA Tournament caliber team.  Nevertheless, they’ll have their chances if they can roar through the rest of the season.

-RHODE ISLAND AT ALABAMA.  Both teams are off to a solid start.  Both teams are looking like tournament teams, and this is a resume building opportunity for both of them.

-MIDDLE TENNESSEE AT VANDERBILT.  Middle is going after their 4th true road win of the season, which is rather remarkable.  If they get this one then you have to start thinking of them as a fringe bubble team, especially with the supposed emphasis of road wins this year.  Vandy, on the other hand, seems to need a win just to keep themselves above water.

-WASHINGTON VS KANSAS (Kansas City, MO).  It’s great that Kansas plays a game in Kansas City every year.  They never play the team that I’d like to see them play, but that’s beside the point.  Washington comes in at 6-2 against a rather unremarkable schedule and is probably overmatched, but this is the kind of statement win that can change the complexion of their whole season if they’re somehow able to pull it off.

-ILLINOIS STATE AT BYU.  The Cougars are off to a solid start and can keep that going with a win tonight.

-SAN DIEGO AT NEW MEXICO STATE.  The Aggies are off to a 5-1 start with their only loss coming at Saint Mary’s.  If they’re able to continue to blow through their schedule they should get the attention of the committee.

-NEW MEXICO AT COLORADO.  We’ve taken a pretty big dump on the Pac Twelve, and Colorado is coming off a loss to Front Range rival Colorado State, but they’re still 6-1 and should get to 7-1 after tonight.

-WASHINGTON STATE AT IDAHO.  This is a fun series.  What it almost always lacks in importance, it makes up for in fun.  But, this year we have a Wazzu team that’s off to an amazing 6-1 start with wins over San Diego State and Saint Mary’s, and an Idaho team that we expect to be a Big Sky frontrunner.  The schools, despite being on different sides of the state line, are just eight miles apart.  I’m being sincere when I say this.  I’m looking forward to this one tonight!

-MONTANA AT UCLA.  It’s a buy game, but Montana has somewhat of a pulse so we’ll go ahead and highlight it.  Despite the side show of all side shows, UCLA can improve to 8-1 on the year with a win tonight.

 

BUY GAMES

-Fairfield @ Houston – they have a bloated record and a blowout win against Arkansas.  I’m starting to like this Houston team a little bit.
-Southern @ Tulane
-Radford @ Virginia Tech
-Western Carolina @ North Carolina
-Kent State @ Xavier – interesting regional match-up between a historically strong MAC team and a natoinal program in Xavier, but still a huge mismatch
-Siena @ Louisville
-Loyola MD @ Florida State
-Brown @ Providence
-Loyola Chicago @ Florida
-Austin Peay @ Illinois
-Gardner Webb @ Auburn – Auburn can improve to 7-1
-Abilene Christian @ Air Force

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