Tag:Utah State
Posted on: March 13, 2011 1:35 am
 

Welcome to the Dance, Utah State Aggies

Utah State wins the WAC againThe No. 1 Utah State Aggies had little trouble securing their NCAA tournament bid in Las Vegas, beating the No. 2 seed Boise State Broncos 77-69 in Orleans Arena. Tai Wesley and Brockeith Pane each scored 19 to lead the Aggies to the WAC title over the MWC-bound Broncs. Senior forward Nate Bendall, who averages just over six points per game, had a fine evening with 16 points, and sharpshooter Brian Green threw in another 12.

The Aggies have been the team to beat in the WAC all season long, and the final game of the league in its current state empatically confirmed that early prediction.


The Vitals

Player to watch: Wild Bill, the portly gentleman who directs the fan response to action on the court. He is by far the most recognizable face in the gym when the Aggies play.

Record: 30-3 (15-1)

Colors: Blue and white

We're thinking: 10 seed

Kenpom ranking: 17

RPI: 39 

Best win: at St. Mary's

Worst Loss: at Idaho

Interesting stat: Utah State is a reasonably effective offensive team, but it's a great defensive team. The Aggies rank in the top 15 in defending opponents both inside and outside, and kenpom.com tags them as the 2nd best defensive rebounding squad in the nation. All of that combines to make them the sixth-best team by defensive efficiency rating, which should make them a very dangerous team to face in the Big Dance.

Most recent tourney appearance: 2010, lost to Texas A&M in the first round.
Posted on: March 12, 2011 1:07 pm
 

WAC championship game preview

It's a classic No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup for the WAC final, which will be played at 10:00 p.m. on ESPN2

No. 1 Utah State (29-3, 15-1) vs. No. 2 Boise State (20-11, 10-6)

There's a pretty huge gulf between the Aggies and everyone else in the WAC this season. Stew Morrill's Utah State team has just two non-conference losses, to Georgetown and BYU, and just one aberration of a conference loss, a 64-56 loss at Idaho. The team has enough seniors to start a roaring game of shuffleboard at Del Boca Vista retirement home, and a veteran coach in Stew Morrill. So, even though this is a one-two matchup, the Aggies -- No. 17 in the national polls -- have to be the heavy favorites. Boise State is on its way to the MWC after this final shot at a WAC title, and they've had a really strong year under rookie head coach Leon Rice, so it's a certainty that they'll be gunning for the positive vibes a title shot will carry as they prepare to move up a notch.

For the Aggies, the primary player of note is Tai Wesley. At 6-foot-7, 240 lbs, Wesley is the primary inside threat. While he's not an elite shot blocker, he can do the job when necessary, helping seal off the interior and force opponents into difficult jump shots. To that end, he has the help of 6-7 junior Brady Jardine, who is a bit inconsistent as a scorer, but has thrilled the rowdy students at the spectrum with the occasional putback dunk off of an offensive rebound. As a team, the Aggies play great defense, and currently rank No. 8 in the nation in defensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com.

Former Houston signee Brockeith Pane is the distributor who keeps the pistons turning for this club, dishing out 3.4 assists per game to go with his 11.4 points. Senior Brian Green is the designated jump shooter, and he excels behind the line. His knack for hitting the open jumper has helped keep defenders off of Wesley and Jardine all season long. Senior guards Pooh Williams and Tyler Newbold help round out a dangerous rotation.

For Boise State, the core unit is led by La'Shard Anderson. The senior captain is the Broncos' leading scorer and passer, and he's coming off of a 9-dish performance in the semifinal against No. 3 New Mexico State. He scores so much because he can, not because he has to. His passes find the able hands of fellow seniors Robert Arnold (12.6 ppg), Paul Noonan (10.5) and Daequon Montreal (10.3). For these guys, the move to the Mountain West is meaningless, and they'll want to go out with a bang. An NCAA tournament bang.

As mentioned above, Stew Morrill is a veteran coach with several NCAA appearances on his resume, so this will be really interesting in terms of figuring out how good Leon Rice is. The BSU head man moved over from his top assistant's gig at Gonzaga this summer, and has shown really well in his initial campaign. If he pulls off the upset here, he may be one to watch in the future.

WAC bracket page

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Eric Angevine

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: March 8, 2011 1:27 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2011 6:56 pm
 

Conference tourney preview: the WAC

It’s sad to see the WAC in this condition. A league that once garnered four bids in 1998 has been lucky to get two on a consistent basis in the new millennium. Even the teams that will soldier through this year’s tourney will be greatly diminished by Tai Wesley gets it done for Utah Statenext season, as Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada prepare to go to the MWC, and Hawaii decamps for the much smaller Big West. This year, that leaves Utah State (28-3, 15-1) as the far and away best team in the conference, yet still a bubble team or worse if they fail to take the league auto bid.

The challengers are Boise State (19-11, 10-6), which forged a respectable season under new head coach and former Gonzaga assistant Leon Rice, and possibly Idaho (18-12, 9-7) or New Mexico State (15-16, 9-7), though neither of those last two seems particularly likely.

As the top seeds, Utah State and Boise State get double byes, skipping the first two rounds of play. Idaho and NMSU get a one-day reprieve and the four lower seeds battle in Las Vegas on March 9 for the right to face their more rested counterparts later down the road. The league's ninth member, Louisiana Tech, did not receive a berth in the postseason tournament.

As the WAC attempts to stave off complete collapse by inviting new low-RPI members, this tournament will look very different next season. Enjoy the current configuration while you can, if you can.

WAC bracket page


****

Title game: 7:00 p.m. ET, Saturday, March 12 (ESPN2)

 

BEST PLAYERS  

  1. Tai Wesley (pictured), Utah State
  2. La’Shard Anderson, Boise State
  3. Troy Gillenwater, New Mexico State
  4. Adrian Oliver, San Jose State

 

Conference RPI: 13

KenPom.com rating: 10

Sagarin rating: 13

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: Utah State

 

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

Utah State: 2010 (lost to Texas A&M)

Boise State: 2008 (lost to Louisville)

Idaho: 1990* (lost to Louisville)

New Mexico State: 2010 (lost to Michigan State)

Hawaii: 2002 (lost to Xavier)

Nevada: 2007 (beat Creighton, lost to Memphis)

Fresno State: 2001 (beat Cal, lost to Michigan State)

San Jose State: 1996** (lost to Kentucky)

*member of Big Sky

**member of Big West


Posted by Eric Angevine

Photo: US Presswire

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: March 5, 2011 2:28 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2011 12:58 am
 

Bubbles boiling over on Saturday


Posted by Jeff Borzello

FINAL UPDATE: 12:50 A.M.

With so many teams still teetering on the edge of the bubble, this weekend is the last opportunity for dozens of teams to send a message to the committee before the conference tournaments. Fortunately, there are a ton of bubble battles and must-win situations throughout the day. The games might be overshadowed by conference tournaments and top-25 match-ups, but keep it locked here for all your bubble action.

Note: This page will be updated all day, with bubble discussion and analysis.

USC 62, Washington 60: This game threw as much of a wrench into the bubble picture as any game all day. If Washington won, the Huskies would have likely locked up a bid and USC would have been out of the at-large discussion. Now, who knows? The Huskies lost three of their final five games to end the season, going 11-7 in the Pac-10. They have two wins over UCLA and a victory over Arizona, but the non-conference resume is porous. Three sub-100 losses also don't look good. They need to beat Washington State in the quarterfinals on Thursday. USC is squarely in the mix right now. The Trojans still have to make up ground on the teams in front of them, but at least they are in the picture. They won five of six to end the season, own wins over Washington, UCLA and Arizona and have a couple of nice non-conference victories over Texas and Tennessee. This could be an interesting case on Selection Sunday if USC wins two in the Pac-10 tourney.

Texas 60, Baylor 54: Baylor had a shot to play itself in the field at home against a team that seemingly every bubble team has beaten the past few weeks – and the Bears couldn’t get the job done. 7-9 in the Big 12, an RPI in the 70s, three sub-100 losses – should I keep going? A win Saturday night would have given Baylor a legitimate shot, adding to its two wins over Texas A&M. Without the victory, the Bears have an awfully barren profile. Depending on how things play out, Baylor might be auto-bid or bust.

Colorado 67, Nebraska 57: A head-to-head battle between two Big 12 bubble teams just clarified the at-large pecking order within the conference. The Buffaloes were my last team in the field heading into the weekend, and this win should keep them up there. They have five top-50 wins, including two over Kansas State and one over Texas. The three bad losses are an eyesore, but at least they’re .500 in the Big 12 after winning three of four. As for Nebraska, losses in three of its final four games and an awful non-conference profile will do them in.

Utah State 72, Louisiana Tech 30: Well, that wasn’t very nice. The Aggies absolutely destroyed Louisiana Tech, sending a message with the margin of victory. They finished the conference campaign with a 15-1 record, and the RPI has now moved into the top 20. Given the soft bubble, it is going to be very tough turning down a team with those numbers. On the flip side, though, Utah State has just two top-100 wins, with a borderline top-50 victory over Saint Mary’s. I think the Aggies are in good shape, although any loss in the WAC tourney is a bad loss.

San Diego State 66, Colorado State 48: About two weeks ago, Colorado State was 8-4 in the Mountain West and looking good for a bid heading into a difficult stretch. Well, the Rams went 1-4 down the stretch and are now going into the conference tournament needing to win it. They have two top-50 wins, although one is over Southern Miss. Colorado State has a very weak non-conference resume and three sub-100 losses. The Rams went only 1-5 against the top three of the MWC.

UAB 66, East Carolina 48: The Blazers won the outright Conference-USA title with the victory. While the Blazers are not really in great position for a bid (in my opinion), a regular-season title combined with their excellent computer numbers, and they are in the mix. UAB came into the day with an RPI of 28, and has now won seven of eight to the end the season. Now, for the negatives. The best non-conference wins are over Kent State and VCU, and the three top-50 wins – Southern Miss and a sweep of UCF – turn into zero top-50 wins by the morning. The Blazers should play it safe and win the auto bid. 

Butler 76, Cleveland State 68: The Bulldogs knocked off Cleveland State for the third time this season, earning a spot in the Horizon League title game on Monday. They have now won seven in a row, moving to 21-9 overall. Outside of those three wins over the Vikings, though, Butler has just one other top-50 win – on a neutral court against Florida State. When you throw in all the bad losses the Bulldogs have, it might be best for them to just win the automatic bid.

Seton Hall 85, Marquette 72: Big East getting 11 bids? Hold off on that for just a few minutes. The Golden Eagles seemed like a lock after winning at Connecticut last week, but back-to-back losses to Cincinnati and Seton Hall put them squarely on the bubble. Marquette drops to 9-9 in the Big East and 18-13 overall, meaning another loss would be the 14th of the season. The Golden Eagles don’t have any bad losses and own four top-25 wins. They need to win at least on in the Big East tourney.

Oklahoma 64, Oklahoma State 61: Oklahoma State had very slim at-large hopes heading into the weekend, but now the Cowboys are heading into the Big 12 tournament with only the automatic bid as an option. The Cowboys have some good wins, including over Kansas State and Missouri, but 6-10 in the Big 12 simply won’t get it done.

Memphis 66, Tulane 61: The Tigers are still hanging in there, despite a long list of bad losses and negatives on the resume. They technically have six top-50 wins, although that number can quickly drop to two if UCF and Southern Miss fall out of the top 50 at some point. A run to the Conference-USA final is necessary for Memphis to think about getting a bid.

UCLA 58, Washington State 54: Washington State had an outside shot at a bid if it could pull off the upset over UCLA and then make a run in the Pac-10 tourney. With Klay Thompson suspended and Reggie Moore injured, though, the Cougars couldn’t get it done, falling in overtime. They have wins over bubble teams Baylor and Gonzaga, as well as two over Washington, but 9-9 in the Pac-10 and three sub-100 losses don’t look good.

Indiana State 61, Wichita State 54: Without a single top-50 win on the resume, the Shockers had little-to-no shot at hearing their name called on Selection Sunday without the automatic bid. Getting to the title game and being competitive was a necessity; they did neither.

Michigan 70, Michigan State 63: The intrastate battle had big-time bubble implications. With the win, Michigan now owns a season sweep of Michigan State – a significant trump card if the two teams are on the fence come Selection Sunday. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, their only other top-50 win was over Harvard. They still have work to do in the conference tournament. Michigan State dropped to 9-9 in the Big Ten, joining a logjam of potentially four teams. The Spartans have better wins than Michigan, with victories over Wisconsin, Washington and Illinois. A loss in the league tournament would be their 14th of the season, tough.

Alabama 65, Georgia 57: Alabama kept its at-large hopes alive with an impressive home win, bringing its SEC record to 12-4. If Florida loses at Vanderbilt this weekend, the Crimson Tide will earn a split of the SEC title. The Tide already had solid wins over Kentucky and Tennessee, but their non-conference resume is horrendous and they have a slew of bad losses. They might need to win their first SEC tourney game. Georgia would have clinched a bid with the road win, but the Bulldogs are still in decent shape. They have a solid computer profile and zero bad losses. They need to avoid bad losses in the SEC Tournament.

Missouri State 60, Creighton 50: The Bears needed to come back again in the Missouri Valley tournament, overcoming a halftime deficit. It remains to be seen whether they even have an at-large shot, but the best way to end the questions would be to win the title game on Sunday.

VCU 62, Drexel 60: It might be time to dust off the VCU profile after Jamie Skeen’s buzzer shot sent the Rams to the semifinals. Quality wins over UCLA and Old Dominion are more than some bubble teams can claim. A litany of bad losses and a 12-6 CAA record brings the profile down.

Clemson 69, Virginia Tech 60: A huge bubble match-up in the ACC could result in neither team making the NCAA Tournament. Virginia Tech went down 24-9 in the first half and was never able to recover. With this and the blowout home loss to Boston College during the week, all the good will the Hokies picked up with their win over Duke has disappeared. As for Clemson, the Tigers join Tech at 9-7 in the ACC. However, Clemson’s two best wins are over Boston College and Florida State – not exactly marquee victories. Both teams might need two wins in the league tournament. 

Richmond 68, Duquesne 56: Richmond continues to do what it has to do in order to get a bid on Selection Sunday. The Spiders ended the first half on a run and then coasted for most of the second half. They finished 13-3 in the Atlantic-10, winning their last four games, and 11 of their last 13. Richmond doesn’t have many marquee wins, but it does own a neutral-court victory over Purdue. Avoiding a bad loss in the conference tournament is a necessity.

Illinois 72, Indiana 48: The Fighting Illini certainly took care of business on Saturday, jumping out to a big lead early to avenge an earlier loss to the Hoosiers. Of course, the victory doesn’t do much to enhance the profile, other than the fact it gets them to 9-9 in the Big Ten. With wins over North Carolina and Wisconsin, as well as victories over fellow bubble teams Gonzaga, Michigan State and Michigan, Illinois should be in good shape.

Others: Maryland ended its season on a sour note, losing at home to Virginia by 14; Dayton finished 7-9 in the Atlantic-10, completing a disappointing regular season. 

Photo: US Presswire

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 20, 2011 12:13 am
Edited on: February 20, 2011 12:15 am
 

Utah State punches its ticket

Posted by MATT JONES

Saturday was an unbelievable day of college basketball. Watching Texas lose its chance to go to No. 1, St. John's knock off its fifth top 20 team at home and Arizona establish supremacy in the Pac 10 were all great moments for a college basketball fan. But in actuality when it comes to March Madness, only one game on Saturday truly will matter on Selection Sunday.

As close as you will ever see in the regular season of college basketball, Utah State's 75-65 victory over St. Mary's was a play-in game for the NCAA Tournament. Both teams came into the game with resumes that were decidedly mediocre to the selection committee, and both needed one more quality victory to ensure at least an at-large bid to the Big Dance. Both teams came into the game with recent crippling losses, for Utah State at Idaho and St. Mary's at San Diego, but a win would likely have put either over the hump, regardless of conference tournament finishes.

Utah State can now book its March travel arrangements. After falling down 39-29 early in the second half on the road, the Aggies stormed back on a 19-2 run to take control of the game and quiet the Moraga, California crowd. Tai Wesley, who was playing with a broken nose that he re-aggravated twice during the game, became downright beastly inside, scoring at will on the vanishing St. Mary's defense. While the Gaels struggled to find any offense, Utah State did what it has done all season, spreading production around the trio of Wesley, Brockeith Pane and Brady Jardine during its early second half run and sustaining it until the end for the victory.

The Aggies came into the game ranked and certainly one of the best 68 teams in America. But its non-conference resume was particularly weak and past years' failures by Utah State make even its biggest supporters weary about its standing for March. But the win on the road against the WCC power all but assures that Stew Morril's team will not only be in the Tournament, but likely with a seed from which it can do some damage.

As for St. Mary's, the at-large bid is likely now out the window. The loss on Wednesday to San Diego was obviously embarrassing. To blow an 11 point lead to a team that had only won three games the entire season over Division I competition was detrimental. But it likely was not devastating to the Gaels' case due to relative weakness of the bubble across America. But to then follow that performance up by watching another double-digit lead disappear at home against a potential quality resume-building win likely extinguishes the team's at-large hopes. In order for the school to make consecutive NCAA Tournaments for the first time in its history, it will need to win a conference tournament that will feature, among others, very talented Gonzaga and Portland teams. Only one will get a bid, making the WCC Tournament potentially the most competitive in college basketball.

But that type of competition will not be a worry for Utah State. It can now finish its season by winning the WAC and going to the conference tournament without the pressure of it being a must-win event. The Aggies had two chances to punch their ticket to March, and rather than wait for the crapshoot in Reno, they took care of business in the most important game in college basketball on Bracket Buster Saturday. Someone wake Wild Bill...he is headed for a "One Shining Moment" montage once again.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 15, 2011 12:15 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2011 12:20 pm
 

Line 'Em Up: Coastal Carolina, come on down!



Posted by Matt Norlander


Welcome back to our Tuesday-at-noon post that's not quite bubble-watching, not quite bracketeering, but falls somewhere in between. Rather than debate every team's chances and stake in the bracket (after all, Palm has that on lockdown here at CBSSports.com), I like to cherry-pick a couple of teams, a couple of scenarios, and compare which is superior. It's all in good fun. Consider this exercise a magnifying glass for the kind of debates that could take place within the conference rooms in Indianapolis next month, when the selection committee chooses the field of 68.

Let's get right to it. I've been waiting about a month for this, and the program hasn't let me down, so let's talk some Coastal Carolina hoop!

Paper-tiger teaser

Or are they paper Chanticleers? And in case you need to know what a Chanticleer is: a fabled rooster. Yes, that's for real (yet isn't). I want the Chanticleers to play the Billikens at some point. Would that game even exist? I digress, of course.

Let's pit 24-2 Coastal Carolina against a perennial high-win, low-loss March guest: Utah State. The Aggies are 23-3 and in a familiar spot, having wracked up more wins than almost anyone in the country, yet see their slate void of one quality W. But the selection committee's been as fair as it has been unfair to USU in the past. In 2004, Utah State went 25-4 and was snubbed because of a miserable non-con skedge. When it was 30-4 two years ago, the Aggies were give a bid. Last year's 27-7 record was good enough. It depends on the landscape around Stew Morrill's team. This year's bubble is of course the weakest in the history of ever, so perhaps both these teams are in OK shape.

But let's pretend they're not. Let's say the final at-large comes down to these two.

Coastal Carolina has just two tournament appearance in its history ('91 and '93). It's never had a season this good; two more wins, and it eclipses the '91 team's record for victories in a season. But where's the beef? It's the question we pose to so many low-level conference teams. The Chants hail from the Big South conference, where they are 15-0 amid riding the nation's longest winning streak, 22 games. A good sign, and if it keeps on keeping on and loses in the Big South title game, I think CCU gets a bid.

But there's plenty of rub. KenPom number is 81; Sagarin 68. The only losses came in back-to-back tilts against the two toughest opponents on the CCU's schedule, College of Charleston and Georgetown. That's worrisome. The best win could be at 13-11 UNC-Asheville! Plus, four of the Chants' 22 wins are against non-D-I opponents, so in the mind of the committee, this is an 20-2 team. That many gimme games scheduled is frowned upon.

Utah State is in better shape for a few reasons. Primarily, it gets a chance Coastal won't. In BracketBusters this weekend, the Aggies play against Saint Mary's, a top-40 team. There is no BracketBusters for the Chanticleers. Utah State also has a loss to Georgetown, as well as Idaho and Brigham Young. The WAC is rated 12th, while the Big South is 24th in KenPom rankings. In Sagarin, the WAC is 14th, the Big South 20th. A tougher conference gives Utah State the nod.

Turtles in trouble

Now let's talk the BCS-conference teams. Maryland is funny. There's been recent literature about how Wisconsin, in many ways, is a team computers love and people can't embrace quite as much (that's changed some, obviously, with Wisky's win over Ohio State). How about the Terps, though? Currently, they lack one impressive win, yet are ranked No. 19 by KenPom. Sagarin? A little more accurate at No. 41. Let's stick with the Pomeroy numbers, though. Who's a team that's ranked fairly low, yet stands a better chance to earn an at-large. My pick: Washington State. More on them a few grafs down.

Here comes a huge one for Gary Williams' team tonight, a road game at equally bubbly Virginia Tech. All too appropriate that these teams have put themselves in this situation. Until now, Maryland's been considered a bubble team, even if fringe, with casual inclusion. There's not a whole lot to support that. Maryland has a miserable RPI of 89, and a SOS of 81.

I know the Pac-10's not even as good as the ACC, but Washington State has a slate that rises above the conference's stained reputation. The 17-8 Cougars (RPI of 76) have wins over Baylor, Gonzaga, Portland (that's decent, folks) and Washington. Maryland has Penn State on the road and Clemson and College of Charleston at home.

The selection committee says it doesn't take conference into account when picking teams (and I do believe that). If that's the case, Wazzu deserves a place above Maryland, pretty clearly.
 
Photo: AP
Posted on: January 31, 2011 9:03 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2011 10:48 pm
 

The best of Bracket Buster Weekend

Posted by Matt Jones

One of my favorite events of the college basketball season is Bracket Buster Saturday, when fans of major conference teams get a chance to watch all of the best mid-majors in a series of created matchups designed to teams a chance to improve their March resumes. On Monday, ESPN announced the pairings that would get a national television showcase:

Friday, Feb. 18
7 p.m. - VCU at Wichita State
9 p.m. - Kent State at Drexel

Saturday, Feb. 19
11 a.m. - Hofstra at Wright State
1 p.m. - Austin Peay at Fairfield
3 p.m. – Iona at Liberty
5 p.m. – Missouri State at Valparaiso  
5 p.m. – Vermont at Charleston
7 p.m. – George Mason at Northern Iowa
9 p.m. – Utah State at Saint Mary’s
11 p.m. – Montana at Long Beach State

Sunday, Feb. 20
1 p.m. - Cleveland State at Old Dominion

With the possible exception of Kenneth Faried and Morehead State, the nationally televised portion of Bracket Buster Saturday generally includes all the right teams and virtually all the mid-majors with a chance to make March noise will be on our television sets that weekend. For those of you who prefer to have a weekend not dominated by mid-level college basketball or feel that you will have to “spend some time with my family,” here are the four can’t-miss games in order of importance:

Utah State at Saint Mary’s

Without question, the marquee pairing of the Bracket Buster weekend takes place in the Bay area suburb of Moraga, California, where the Gaels will host Utah State for a Saturday primetime affair. For both teams, this game represents the best chance remaining to get a resume-building win for March and a victory is extremely important. Utah State is currently 20-2 and ranked No. 21 in America, but it suffers from a serious lack of impressive wins. The Aggies only two games against solid opponents resulted in its two losses (BYU and Georgetown) and the most notable victory may be over a sub .500 Utah team. As for St. Mary’s, what looked like a solid at-large resume has taken a big hit with double-digit losses to Vanderbilt and Portland in the last ten days. If the Tournament was selected today, both Utah State and St. Mary’s would likely barely find themselves in the field, even if they slipped and were upset in the conference tournament. But success in a few weeks is not assured and for the winner of this feature game of Bracket Buster weekend, the margin of error for the rest of the regular season will be a bit greater.

  George Mason at Northern Iowa

The battle of the last two mid-major teams to get the nation’s collective blood racing in March (Butler has joined Gonzaga in permanent non-mid major status in my book), represents the best chance for a team to win its way into at-large status of any game in the weekend. George Mason is locked in a three-way battle in the ultra competitive Colonial League with VCU and Old Dominon and the three teams are trading losses that will hurt on Selection Sunday. Thus, Mason likely needs a road victory in Cedar Falls in order to make its best case for a trip to Dayton as part of the “First Four” in March, not only for its team, but as a sign of the overall strength of the Colonial as well. As for Northern Iowa, the Panthers played their way back into the Missouri Valley race with a road win at Missouri State last week. While they likely need to end the season with an undefeated streak to get in the at-large discussion, the schedule does set up favorably to potentially pull off a surprising second straight MVC title run.

VCU at Wichita State

Virginia Commonwealth is on pace to get a rare at-large bid out of the Colonial, thanks to an impressive start in conference and a non-conference slate that includes a victory over UCLA. The Rams sit 10-1 in the Colonial and if they keep on the same pace, a win in heart of the Missouri Valley could be enough to ensure a trip to March Madness, regardless of what happens in the conference tournament. As for Wichita State, early season victories over Virginia and LSU, combined with competitive losses to UCONN and San Diego State, mean that the Shockers would be dancing if Selection Sunday were this weekend. They still have the heart of their Missouri Valley schedule ahead, including tough road games at Northern Iowa and Missouri State, meaning it is important to hold serve at home. Both teams in this game will likely be a part of the field of 68, but assuming they stay on their same path, the winner can go ahead and set up the camera shot for the CBS special with confidence.

Cleveland State at Old Dominion

Cleveland State is currently leading the Horizon League and is situated at 20-3, right on the bubble of contention for an at-large bid. The Vikings are led by the best player that no one ever mentions, Norris Cole, who is averaging 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists from the guard spot. The problem Cleveland State faces is its lack of top-quality victories over a non-Horizon opponent. A win at Old Dominion takes care of that weakness on its resume. As for the Monarchs, they sit third in the Colonial, but probably have the best set of wins of any participant in the Bracket Buster Weekend. Old Dominion has defeated Clemson, Xavier, Richmond and Dayton, while two of their five losses were to Georgetown and Missouri. If ODU gets anywhere close to the bubble, the Selection Committee will likely give them the nod, solely because of this out of conference work, and a victory over Cleveland State would only firm up their prospects even further.

Photo: AP
Posted on: December 22, 2010 3:51 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2010 4:20 pm
 

Foul shot nearly defies the laws of physics

Posted by Matt Norlander

Get a load of THIS.

Utah State's waxing Idaho State at home Tuesday night. The game is nearly getting to the point where Aggies fans will break into the winning-team-losing-team chant, which is one of the best traditions in college basketball. But before they get to that, some necessary garbage time and occasional foul shots as the game comes to a close. Then, with 4:11 remaining, the Bengals' (really? Idaho State ... Bengals?) Kamil Gawrzydek goes to the line to shoot two.

From there, things get spooky. You've probably never seen anything like this.



High bounce of the back part of the iron, one quick, stubborn bounce on the front part of the tin, and then the ball it gets all Zack Morris on us in a real-life freeze frame. I love how a Utah State player nearly goes up to knock the orange from its perch, then the ball responds, as if to say, "Gotcha." Thanks to Jay Drew with the assist on the linkage to the video.

And by the by, the shot of the man in the Superman costume, who unsuccessfully attempts to will the ball away from the net, is Aggies superfan Wild Bill. I'm glad to see he's in good spirits and healthy enough to be back at games.

Utah State won, 71-48, to improve to 9-2. ISU is now 3-7 and remains winless on the road.


 
 
 
 
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