News, Notes, and Highlighted Games: Saturday, Feb 16th

We’ve got another jam packed day of college hoops!!  With Hawaii’s game tipping off at 1am, est, that actually gives us 15 straight hours basketball!!  It is one of the longest days of the year, and we have all of the highlighted games listed below…

-TENNESSEE AT KENTUCKY (SEC) (***Spotlight Game***).  You gotta love it when we got top five match-ups!!  Tennessee is ranked #1, is on pace to get a #1 seed, and could even end up as the overall #1 seed, especially if they’re able to win a true road game like this one.  Kentucky is looking to bounce back from a tough and somewhat controversial ending, but with two games remaining against Tennessee, as well as the other opponents they’ll face I still think they have a path to a #1 seed.  They’ll need to win today, and they’ll pretty much need to win out, but the opportunity is there.

-MARYLAND AT MICHIGAN (Big Ten).  Michigan will be looking to bounce back from a crazy loss at Penn State earlier in the week.  They host a Maryland team that’s been playing well and has some good wins, but none as good as this one would be.

-NORTH CAROLINA AT WAKE FOREST (ACC).  This is a winnable road game for the Tarheels who are on pace to land on one of the top two lines.

-CLEMSON AT LOUISVILLE (ACC).  Interesting storyline for both these teams coming into this one.  Clemson is on the bubble and is looking for a big road win to boost up their tournament resume.  Louisville has lost two straight games where they appeared to be in command late and blew it.  They need a win simply to stabilize their mental health.

-OKLAHOMA AT TCU (Big 12).  Oklahoma is six games below .500, but still has a path to the NCAA Tournament if they can string together some wins.  TCU is on the bubble and will likely make it in, but they can’t put it on cruise control just yet.

-AUBURN AT VANDERBILT (SEC).  To Auburn’s credit, they’ve pretty much won all their games against non-tournament teams.  The problem is they haven’t won any against teams that are solidly in the field.  That means they need to continue to take care of business in games like this.

-OKLAHOMA STATE AT TEXAS (Big 12).  It’s been the same story with Texas for a while.  They’re in relatively good shape, but have had a schizophrenic season and could use some stability on their resume.

-NOTRE DAME AT VIRGINIA (ACC).  Virginia is on pace to get a #1 seed and just needs to hold serve in games like this.

-BAYLOR AT TEXAS TECH (Big 12).  This is a big game for both teams.  Baylor has been playing like an NCAA team since conference play started, but still has some work to do and could use a huge quality road win like this on their resume.  Texas Tech is trying to grow their profile as well and contend for a protected seed.

-FLORIDA STATE AT GEORGIA TECH (ACC).  Florida State is looking for their seventh straight win, as well as their fourth true road win.  I’d say they’re in good shape.

-INDIANA AT MINNESOTA (Big Ten).  Minney is inside the bubble and will likely end up in the field, but they can’t just start to skate just yet.  Indiana is in serious trouble, and although our committee took them last night I’m not so sure the real one would.  They need more wins.  This would certainly help.

-FLORIDA AT ALABAMA (SEC).  Alabama is on our bubble, and needs to win at home against teams that are outside of the bubble.

-MISSOURI AT OLE MISS (SEC).  Ole Miss is looking more and more like a first ballot team and just needs to continue to hold serve in games like this.  They’ve been a fun story all year long.

-PENN STATE AT PURDUE (Big Ten).  Purdue is inching closer and closer to locking up a protected seed.  They shouldn’t have too much trouble today.

-WEST VIRGINIA AT KANSAS (Big 12).  West Virginia actually won the first meeting.  Kansas is in relatively good shape, especially after a huge road win earlier in the week, and they just need to avoid a slip up against a WVU team where everything has fallen apart.

-IOWA STATE AT KANSAS STATE (Big 12).  I like both these teams, and I apparently like them more than the committee does.  I think both could end up as protected seeds, and that whoever wins this game will take a huge step toward getting there.

-VCU AT DAYTON (Atlantic Ten).  If any A10 team is able to finish inside the bubble, it’s VCU.  If they win out then they should be okay regardless of what happens in the conference tournament.  Dayton isn’t the easiest place to win.  They’re 11-2 at home this year.

-UTAH STATE AT AIR FORCE (Mountain West).  Utah State has an unimpressive profile, but it’s also an unimpressive bubble and I kind of like their chances because they are at least winning their games, and winning on the road.  If they win out, which would mean winning at home against Nevada, I think they’re in regardless of the conference tourney.

-VIRGINIA TECH AT PITTSBURGH (ACC).  This is a winnable road game for Uncle Buzz and CO.  They should cruise into the top half of the bracket, and if they get hot between now and then end, who knows how good their seed could end up being.

-NC STATE AT DUKE (ACC).  Duke has a path to earning the overall #1 seed, and NC State just needs some wins to land safely inside the bubble.  This particular loss won’t hurt them much at all, but a win would certainly help.

-LSU AT GEORGIA (SEC).  LSU is coming off their biggest win of the year, and perhaps their biggest win in years period, and has a pathway to a protected seed.

-IOWA AT RUTGERS (Big Ten).  This is a winnable road game for an Iowa team that seems to be cruising toward the top half of the bracket and will be wearing white in the Round of 64.

-MEMPHIS AT UCF (American).  Every game that UCF plays for the rest of the year has a sense of urgency to it.  They are right on the bubble, and they have limited chances to beat really good teams, so they better beat all the teams that they are playing.

-TEMPLE AT SOUTH FLORIDA (American).  Temple, who is also a bubble team, needs to basically approach every remaining game like it’s a must win game.

-UNC GREENSBORO AT WOFFORD (SoCon).  I’m not putting this with the other UTR games because I think Wofford is an at-large caliber team with a current at-large caliber resume, and while UNCG is outside the bubble could get the committee to at least look at them if they’re able to pull off a win like this and finish strong the rest of the way.

-WASHINGTON AT WASHINGTON STATE (Pac Twelve).  Washington has been the best team in the Pac Twelve by a long shot so far, but it’s a dangerous stretch between now and the end simply because not all these games are easy to win, and in every single case a loss would cause more harm than a win would cause for good.  That’s certainly true tonight on the road against their rivals.

-MISSISSIPPI STATE AT ARKANSAS (SEC).  This is a winnable, but not necessarily easy, road game for Mississippi State who’s in good shape as far as making the Dance goes.

-GONZAGA AT SAN DIEGO (West Coast).  It’s a showcase game for San Diego, and I know LMU made it interesting the other night, but Gonzaga is so superior that they will likely be able to sleepwalk and still win.

-NEVADA AT WYOMING (Mountain West).  Nevada continues to plow through the conference and their season.  They should end up as a protected seed if they keep it up.

-ARIZONA STATE AT UTAH (Pac Twelve).  It is tough to ever know exactly what Arizona State is going to do, and because of that they’ve built a resume that is very tough to evaluate.  They need some stabilization if they want to feel safe on Selection Sunday.

UNDER THE RADAR

-BUCKNELL AT HOLY CROSS (Patriot League).  Bucknell has a two game lead with five games remaining.  They can inch closer to locking up home court for the conference tourney

-STONY BROOK AT NEW HAMPSHIRE (America East).  Stony Brook is a game behind Vermont and trying to keep pace.

-ARMY AT NAVY (Patriot League).  Highlighted primarily because it’s fun, and in this case it may play a role in whether or not these teams get to host a quarterfinal game.

-UAB AT WESTERN KENTUCKY (Conference USA).  As much as we crapped on WKU for being so disappointing, they’ve won eight out of nine and are just a game back of first place. They have the talent to make someone miserable in the Round of 64 if they were to get there.

-TEXAS STATE AT LITTLE ROCK (Sun Belt).  Texas State is atop the SBC standings and looks to be the best team in the league.

-LIBERTY AT NORTH ALABAMA (Atlantic Sun).  Liberty is now tied with Lipscomb for first place and should be favored in the rest of their games.

-VMI AT FURMAN (SoCon).  Furman is a long shot at best, but if they win out I think the committee will at least look at them for a bid.  And, I like how they’re playing now and think they can do some damage in the SoCon Tourney

-LIPSCOMB AT KENNESAW STATE (Atlantic Sun).  Lipscomb is coming off a loss that hurt them, but I still like their chances of getting a bid if they win out and at least tie for first place.

-AUSTIN PEAY AT MOREHEAD STATE (Ohio Valley).  Austin Peay is just a game out of first, and it’s basically a four team race for the top two spots and two byes into the semis of the conference tournament.

-VERMONT AT HARTFORD (Atlantic Sun).  Vermont has a one game lead in the standings and is trying to hold on to clinch home court in the conference tourney.

-SOUTH DAKOTA STATE AT NORTH DAKOTA STATE (Summit League).  South Dakota State is coming off a loss at the buzzer to Omaha, but is still in a tie for first place and still looks to be the best team in the league.

-NORTHERN COLORADO AT EASTERN WASHINGTON (Big Sky).  Northern Colorado is just a half game out of first place, and EWU has gotten hot fall of a sudden.

-RADFORD AT CHARLESTON SOUTHERN (Big South).  Radford has a two game lead with seven games to go.  They can inch closer to a first place finish and the right to host the conference tournament.

-HOFSTRA AT UNC WILMINGTON (Colonial).  Hofstra looked really strong the other night, and seems to be on pace to a first place finish in the CAA.

-YALE AT CORNELL (Ivy League).  Yale is the first place team in the Ivy and has the clearest path to winning the league.

-MURRAY STATE AT EASTERN KENTUCKY (Ohio Valley).  Murray State picked up a close win the other night to keep pace to finish in the top two and earn a double bye.

-TENNESSEE STATE AT JACKSONVILLE STATE (Ohio Valley).  Jax State is still just a game out of first and currently owns the head to head against Murray State and Belmont.

-FLORIDA A&M AT SAVANNAH STATE (MEAC).  Savannah State is going after their fifth straight win!!

-BELMONT AT TENNESSEE TECH (Ohio Valley).  If Belmont wins out through the regular season then they have a strong case to make the NCAAs regardless of what happens in the conference tournament.

-SEATTLE AT NEW MEXICO STATE (WAC).  I like this NMSU team now.  They’re on pace to run the table all the way through the conference tournament.

-MONTANA AT IDAHO STATE (Big Sky).  Montana is trying to hold on to first place in the conference standings.

-UC SANTA BARBARA AT UC IRVINE (Big West).  These are two of the better teams in the Big West.  If UCI wins this game I’m expecting them to win out.

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Student Athlete: HoopsHD interviews co-director Trish Dalton

Last October HBO debuted a sports documentary called “Student Athlete”, which examined the current state of American college athletics and the impact that its myriad rules have on players and their families. The presentation was a result of a collaborative effort from numerous notable names: SpringHill Entertainment (founded by LeBron James/Maverick Carter), United Masters (created by former Interscope Records president Steve Stoute), and a pair of powerhouse directors in Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (2-time Academy Award winner for Best Short Subject Documentary) and Trish Dalton (Big Apple Film Festival Award winner for Best Short Documentary). The film spotlights several different players and coaches including 2 names who should be familiar to college basketball fans: Nick Richards (2017 McDonald’s All-American who now plays at Kentucky) and Mike Shaw (a former top-100 recruit who played at both Illinois/Bradley). HoopsHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with Ms. Dalton about how the film came about, Nick’s journey to Lexington, and Mike’s difficult adjustment to life after college.

How did the project originate, and how did you choose Nick Richards/Mike Shaw as your basketball subjects?  Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and I typically cover human-rights stories, and when Steve Stoute of United Masters approached us about the inequality in college sports in the U.S., we thought that it was glaringly unfair and an important issue to shed light on. We felt what was missing from the conversation was the reality of the experience for the players on a personal level. We wanted to tell the stories of players at different stages of their collegiate athletic careers. We chose Nick because he was a top recruit who was just entering college, and we chose Mike because he was graduating.

The anonymous shoe company representative who shares all the dirt on the industry is arguably the star of the show: I knew that shoe companies recruited players as young as 12-13 in the biggest basketball hotbeds, but are they really in every single city trying to find the next Michael Jordan/LeBron James?  We were also surprised to learn how many scouts were out there: it seems pretty pervasive. Even at small schools, where we filmed in Illinois and Indiana coaches were connected to scouts.

The shoe company representative also stated that a high school player wearing a company’s gear on Instagram is more important than the 6th or 7th-best guy on an NBA team wearing it: how has social media changed the sports industry, and were 2 million viewers wrong to check out Zion Williamson’s video based on his outstanding freshman year as a Duke basketball player?  Social media definitely seems to play a big role in player popularity. I am unsure how viewers would be wrong to follow them. We were just trying to show that these guys have pretty big followings. Zion’s popularity kind of speaks for itself.

The representative said that the McDonald’s All-American Game (in which Nick participated) is not only about the player getting a ton of exposure but also about shoe companies getting to scout a player’s friends/family: if Nick can score 20 PPG then will people really care if he has a helicopter mom or a friend who has been in trouble with the law?  The NCAA rules can seriously affect college athletes’, because the rules are quite serious.

March Madness bring is $1 billion in TV advertising and in 2016 UCLA signed a$280 million deal with Under Armour: how high can the dollars go, and where should they be distributed? That is a complicated question. Personally, I think that if your coach makes more than $10 million/year then there is plenty of money to go around.

1 of the images that stuck with me the most was the shot of Nick practicing alone on the court while a group of 20-30 African-American kids are just sitting on a stage in the background and watching him: what message do you want the audience to take from that clip? We wanted to show where Nick practiced and what that looked like. Those students were there to watch the practice and I think their enthusiasm speaks for itself. The film explores how we can make the system more fair to allow players to pursue their dream. I think that the business of college sports is where the NCAA/schools bring in so much money via TV/brands. If you look at any other corporation in America it is hard to find a situation where you make money, while your employees work 40-50 hours/week, in exchange for an education, and barely have time to attend class.

Nick moved from Jamaica to the U.S. at age 14 with his entire family because they all wanted him to make it to the NBA: is such a situation the exception to the rule or the start of a global trend?  There seem to be a handful of basketball players that come to the U.S. every year to play, but I am unsure how many of their families are able to join them. We found that many of the players (whether they lived here or abroad) families were living below the poverty line, so there was pressure on them to make it to the NBA to eventually get paid. Players are scouted all over the world and if they are at a good high school, they are already on the NBA‘s radar. Nick is lucky because he had some family here already.

Nick is concerned about wearing Nike sneakers at an event because he is used to wearing Under Armour: why do high school kids care so much about what sneakers they are wearing? They sure seem to care about their brands! When I was in high school I cared a lot more about brands, too: peer pressure is strong at that age.

Nick says that Kentucky is his dream school because blue is his favorite color and the Wildcats send 2-3 guys to the NBA each year, while his mom likes Kentucky more than Arizona because it is closer to their home in New York: what are the biggest factors that high school athletes consider when choosing a college?  I am sure that it is a range of answers depending on who you ask, but like Nick, many of the players we asked chose schools they had heard of and their parents often encouraged them to stay close to home. I think they look for a school that sends its players to the NBA. It depends on who is scouting the player: I assume that Kentucky was scouting Nick more than other schools were. All of the guys we talked to had shoeboxes full of offers, but weren’t familiar with all the schools. Most young basketball players have not traveled outside their community so they do not know what different college campuses are like and some do not want to be away from their friends/family at such a young age.

After Mike injures his back 1 doctor tells him that he might not walk again if he keeps playing while another doctor is shocked by the physical degeneration of a 23-year old who might end up in a wheelchair/walker: how do athletes balance their love of the game with their love of a scholarship with their love of walking?  In Mike’s case the injury came as a shock. I think that many players hope they will avoid injury: when you are younger you are a bit in denial because you feel invincible. There are stats on getting a serious injury if you end up playing a pro sport: I think it’s is near 100%. The players are afraid to complain because that is not part of the culture: it is not encouraged to speak out against that.

Mike decided to go to college at Illinois (since Coach Bruce Weber had been recruiting him since the 8th grade), but after Weber was fired he decided to transfer to Bradley and sit out 1 year per NCAA rules: should coaches should be allowed to recruit middle schoolers, and are the transfer rules fair?  The transfer rules are very limiting to players, especially in a case like Mike’s, because of the restrictions on changing schools, while coaches are allowed to go from school to school. That seems unfair to me: many players choose a school due to the coach/opportunity and Mike gave up all of his other opportunities and then lost the coach who had been recruiting him since he was 12 years old. Most new coaches bring in the players who they have been scouting for the past several years.

Mike says that having a degree plays a role in his success yet the majority of his belongings he owns when moving out of his apartment is a huge plastic bag full of sneakers: which do you truly believe he values more?  Mike certainly loved basketball and always assumed that he would play professionally: that seemed to be his primary goal. I think it speaks for itself: he was told he would be 1 of the best (which he was), and it is hard to let go of that. He did stay in school and make it a priority to finish getting his degree, but after that he still had to sort things out. It takes other efforts/connections to make your degree work for you. Taking a job at Enterprise is not why he went to college and worked really hard for 4 years: a lot of the players feel really disillusioned by their post-graduate options.

His grandfather states that college athletics is akin to slavery (since you have to do what the coach says, you cannot go home for the holidays, etc.): do you agree, and what role does race play in the equation?  I think there are similarities, for example, the rules prevent the players from receiving any kind of income off their name/image/likeness, or share in any of the revenues from broadcasters, brands, and ticket sales. I hope that the film speaks to that: players are told it is their ticket out of poverty, but then they often end up back in poverty, and suffering from injuries.

His brother tries to convince him to come work with him at Enterprise due to the company car/benefits, but he remains unemployed 1 year after graduating/spent some time in a psychiatric hospital/is walking around picking up trash: he says that he never expected he would be here, but where should most former college athletes expect to be 1 year after graduating?  I think that they expect to achieve the glory that playing sports had promised them. In Mike’s case, he thought that he would achieve great things from basketball, and when he had to face a different reality he also faced a lot of disappointment. The difference is that athletes go from having a celebrity status on campus to facing the reality that it was not his ticket to the NBA and that he has to create a new life that does not touch upon sports. I have heard that athletes suffer 2 deaths: the end of their life but also the end of their playing career. Mike is still struggling to navigate his new identity after being an athlete for so long. A lot of players suffer depression: I think that it is a bit criminal. There are NCAA ads in their neighborhoods suggesting that getting into college will be great, but it is not the reality is very different.

Any final message to the viewers?  I hope that viewers can connect with the players and that as a society we can provide them with help. Any organization that treats their workers unfairly should be forced to make a more equitable system. It is time for a change and we should support players who stand up for themselves. Right now there is a popular opinion that college athletes get a free education and will be just fine, but the player are paying a high price.

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Under The Radar Game of the Day: Northern Kentucky at Wright State

For last night’s Bracket Rundown podcast – CLICK HERE

Northern Kentucky (20-6, 10-3 Horizon) at Wright State (15-11, 9-4 Horizon) – 9:00 PM EST (ESPNU)

Tonight’s UTR Game of the Day takes us to Dayton, Ohio – the Wright State Raiders play host to the Northern Kentucky Norse in a 1-2 matchup in the Horizon League. Last season, it was NKU that won the regular season crown, but after a wild conference tournament that saw the Norse get upset early, Wright State ended up winning the league’s auto bid to the NCAA Tournament. This season, NKU won the first matchup 68-64 in their home arena. NKU’s Drew McDonald is only 74 points away from being the second player in program history to reach the 2,000-point career mark and 81 points away from being the all-time leading scorer in NKU history.

Wright State has won seven of their last eight games; they are a game behind NKU for first place and one game ahead of Illinois-Chicago in the standings. However, UIC has swept their season series from the Raiders and has denied them a shot at a share of the conference lead (and therefore gives the Norse a tiebreaker edge should UIC finish 3rd in the standings). Loudon Love leads the Raiders with 15 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game.

NEWS AND NOTES

– Gonzaga had their first real test in the WCC last night during their game at Loyola Marymount; the Lions were able to keep their game close for the first 36 minutes of the game before the Zags finally pulled away in the final four minutes.

– Illinois continues to take a wrecking ball to the rest of the Big 10; they won at Ohio State last night for their first win in Columbus in a decade. It’s not a fatal loss for the Buckeyes, but they are still far from feeling safely in the field.

– For other UTR programs, it was a big night for Furman and Omaha. Furman was able to beat UNC-Greensboro at home and ended up getting a season split with the Spartans in the SoCon. Omaha hit a shot from the baseline as the clock expired in regulation to give them a win against South Dakota State and are now a half-game behind the Jackrabbits in the Summit League.

– While Omaha did beat the clock, Austin Peay did not. They had a shot to send their game against Murray State to send their game to overtime, but the ball was in the shooter’s hand as the clock expired. This now leaves Belmont and Murray State alone on top of the OVC standings.

– Shout out to Chad Sherwood for highlighting Youngstown State’s fifth win in a row – this is the first time they’ve ever done so in the Horizon League. The Penguins are suddenly 7-7 in conference play.

– Arizona has now lost six straight after blowing a late lead against Utah. The Wildcats have not had this long of a losing streak since the 1983-84 season. That was also the first season of Lute Olson’s distinguished tenure at Arizona.

HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-BUFFALO AT TOLEDO (MAC). This normally would have been the UTR Game of the Day, but Buffalo remains on the radar and in the Top 25. For the Bulls, this is probably their last shot at a Quadrant 1 victory for the season. For the Rockets, this is their opportunity to join the leaders atop the MAC.

-HARVARD AT PRINCETON (Ivy League). Both teams are tied for second place, and Harvard will be looking for at least one road win in the vaunted Princeton-Penn roadie this weekend.

-SOUTH ALABAMA AT GEORGIA STATE (Sun Belt). Georgia State is a game behind Texas State in the standings, but cannot overlook a challenge from the Jags tonight.

-DARTMOUTH AT PENN (Ivy League). The Quakers finally return to the Palestra – they (like Princeton) will play six of their final eight league games at home. Consequently, they have no margin for error tonight.

-SAINT JOSEPH’S AT DAVIDSON (A-10). Davidson exhausted whatever margin of error they had with their loss at UMass last weekend. We’ll see if they’re able to rebound against a Saint Joe’s team that is battling through injuries this season that have probably hurt their team more than anyone else in the league.

-YALE AT COLUMBIA (Ivy League). The Bulldogs lead the Ivy and shouldn’t have too much trouble at Columbia tonight.

-MONMOUTH AT RIDER (MAAC). The Broncs have melted down with a 5-game losing streak, but a win tonight vaults them back into the picture for the #1 seed in the MAAC and would bring Monmouth back to the pack as well.

-BROWN AT CORNELL (Ivy League). This is a winnable game for Cornell, but they best not be looking ahead to an even bigger game with Yale tomorrow night.

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Hoops HD Bracket Rundown: February 15th

This was recorded on Thursday, February 15th at 10pm, est.  None of the games that went final after that time are reflected in the show, the seedlist, or the bracket

This is a CHECKPOINT of what we think the NCAA Tournament SHOULD look like if the season ended TODAY.  This is not an attempt to guess what the actual committee will do on Selection Sunday

Chad arbitrates as the Hoops HD Staff builds a seedlist line by line and discusses, debates, assesses, and sometimes argues about each team as they go down the list.

 

Below is the bracket of the seedlist, but do not look at it until you’ve watched the show!!

 

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

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News, Notes, and Highlighted Games: Thursday, Feb 14th

NEWS AND NOTES

-For our most recent Under the Radar Video Podcast – CLICK HERE

-For tonight’s UTR Game of the Day between South Dakota State and Omaha – CLICK HERE

-For Jon Teitel’s interview with Tre Mann – CLICK HERE

-Tennessee, Villanova, Texas Tech, Florida State, and Virginia Tech all won against sub-tournament caliber teams yesterday.

-Clemson, who was on the bubble, went on the road to Miami really needing to add another road win to their resume, and came up short.  This loss will be another that haunts them if they land in the NIT instead of the NCAAs.

-UCF sprinted out to an early lead against South Florida and never looked back.  It was one bubble team knocking off another, who happened to be their rivals.

-Perhaps the biggest result of the night was Liberty’s win at Lipscomb.  Liberty basically led tip to buzzer, and although Lipscomb did try to mount a comeback, they didn’t shoot nearly as well as they normally do, and they forced up a lot of contested shots, which is something else we normally don’t see from them.  The two are now tied atop the ASun standings, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they both won out and things stayed tied.  Lipscomb isn’t dead by any means, but they aren’t nearly as alive as they were prior to the loss.  The harsh reality is that for teams that play in leagues like this, virtually any conference loss is is a loss to a non-tournament team, which means it’s more damaging.

-NC State picked up a nice home win against Syracuse that they kind of needed.  Syracuse is still in relatively good shape, but nowhere near being able to just put it on cruise control yet.

-Ole Miss picked up a really nice road win at Auburn, which helps them out.  When you look at Auburn both on paper and on the court, nothing about them indicates that they are good enough to go past the Round of 64.  I’m still expecting that the actual committee would take them, but I’m not at all convinced that they should.  I mean, what has this team done?

-Seton Hall had a convincing win against Georgetown last night.  After being on the ropes, the Hall has now won three of their last four and appears to be back on track.  Although having said that, none of those wins came against anyone that is solidly in the field.

-Minnesota fell at Nebraska, which is a little rough because it was a winnable road game and it knocks them to just 6-8 in Big Ten play.  I still think they’ll make it in, but they may be cutting it a little closer than they’d like to.

-One never knows what Arizona State is going to do.  Last night, they lost at Colorado, adding yet another loss to a team that’s nowhere near the NCAA Tournament to their resume.  I know they’ve got good wins, but if I’m arguing yay or nay on their inclusion, I’d personally rather argue nay.  They can beat good teams, but they cannot beat bad teams consistently enough to suit me.

 

HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-HOUSTON AT UCONN (American).  Houston has played their way into the top ten and has a clear path to a protected seed if they continue to blow through the conference.  This is another winnable road game for them.

-ILLINOIS AT OHIO STATE (Big Ten).  Ohio State is a probable tournament team, but they still need to hold serve in games like this where they are at home against someone with a losing record.

-GONZAGA AT LMU (West Coast).  Gonzaga has blown through this league and that isn’t likely to change tonight.

UNDER THE RADAR

-NORTH TEXAS AT FLORIDA ATLANTIC (Conference USA) The top of CUSA is logjammed, and North Texas is right in that logjam.

-VMI AT WOFFORD (SoCon).  Wofford is unbeaten in SoCon play, and we believe they are inside the bubble.  They should stay there so long as they continue to hold serve.

-HOFSTRA AT CHARLESTON (Colonial).  This game is interesting because Hofstra looks to be the best team in the Colonial, and Charleston is a good team that has underachieved in the Colonial, but gets the conference tournament in their own backyard.  Well, the next door neighbor’s backyard, at least.

-UNC GREENSBORO AT FURMAN (SoCon).  This game may be bigger than most realize.  UNCG is right on a lot of bubbles, and this would arguably be their biggest win of the year on paper if they’re able to pull it off.  Furman has just one home loss and as a young team are playing with more and more consistency down the stretch.

-BELMONT AT TENNESSEE STATE (Ohio Valley).  It’s always the same story with Belmont.  If they can win out I think the committee may take them even if they don’t win the OVC Tourney.

-MURRAY STATE AT AUSTIN PEAY (Ohio Valley).  There is a three way tie for first place, and these are two of the three teams.

-MONTANA AT WEBER STATE (Big Sky).  Montana is in first place by a game, but this is one of their tougher remaining games.  If they win then Weber State won’t catch them, if they lose then chances are just one game will separate the top three teams going into the weekend.

-UC SANTA BARBARA AT UC RIVERSIDE (Big West).  UCSB is just a game behind UC Irvine in the standings.  It’s an uphill run, but it is still doable.

-NORTHERN COLORADO AT IDAHO (Big Sky).  Northern Colorado is just a game behind Montana and is trying to keep pace.

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Under The Radar Game of the Day: South Dakota State at Omaha

For last night’s weekly Under The Radar podcast – CLICK HERE

For Jon Teitel’s interview with McDonald’s All-American Tre Mann (Florida commit) – CLICK HERE

South Dakota State (20-6, 10-1 Summit) at Omaha (14-9, 8-2 Summit) – 8:00 PM EST (ESPN+)

Tonight’s UTR Game of the Day takes us to Omaha where the Mavericks will play host to the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State. SDSU has won nine games in a row, including the first matchup against Omaha with an 83-73 win in Brookings back in January. The Jackrabbits will be tested not only tonight, but games at North Dakota State and at home against Purdue-Fort Wayne will also be pivotal for whether or not they get the top seed in the Summit League Tournament next month. Mike Daum had a 20-20 game (29 points, 20 rebounds) in the Jackrabbits’ last game – a win against North Dakota.

The Mavericks have won 11 out of their last 13 games to get within a game of SDSU in the loss column in the league standings. The one surprise was a loss at home against Oral Roberts back in January – but unlike the Jackrabbits, they do have a win against Purdue-Fort Wayne so far (and that was on the road) – this would give an edge to Omaha at the moment should a tiebreaker be needed if both teams split their season series. Zach Johnson leads the Mavs with 18.3 points per game.

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