Tag:Conference USA
Posted on: March 13, 2010 11:35 am
Edited on: March 13, 2010 1:05 pm

C-USA Final: Is Houston a Magic Bullet?


As you read this, the Conference-USA Final is beginning, hosting a matchup of the seventh-seeded Houston Cougars and the one-seeded faves UTEP. On paper, this should be no contest, right?

Not so fast. Don't count Houston out just yet. 

The Situation:

UTEP Is, Quietly, One of the Hottest Teams in the Nation Right Now. Bet you didn't know that. The truth is that UTEP is on the second-longest winning streak in school history. On a sixteen-game winning trend, they haven't lost a game in two months. They're recognized as the only C-USA team guaranteed an NCAA tourney bid right now, nationally-ranked (25).

The Last Time UTEP Lost, It Was to Houston. That's right. Tom Penders' Cougars found UTEP's achilles heel just before the Miners took off on their streak. And that means, of course, that UTEP's not exactly the lock it might have been. So a bit of added intrigue steps into what looks like a cut-and-dry UTEP win.

UTEP hasn't been able to control Houston's Aubrey Coleman. The conference scoring leader averages 23.9 against the Miners over four matchups, so if he's feeling the flow and doing the bull dance today, he could be the spark the Cougars need to rob the trophy right out from under UTEP's nose. And they're going to need that if they want to be dancing tomorrow.

You never know where the UTEP threat is going to come from. It was Jeremy Williams against Central Florida. Randy Culpepper took the honors against Tulsa. And Derrick Caracter is third in that rotation, meaning today could be his day. A revolving cast of gunslingers could make things confusing for Houston.

Derrick Caracter's favorite television show is Nickelodeon's Doug. I remember that from the 2006 Louisville Media Guide. But who's his Skeeter? We'll see today.

The Conference USA Finals begin right now only on CBS -- Home of smash crime drama The Mentalist and runaway comedy hit Rules of Engagement!

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 13, 2010 11:35 am
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Posted on: March 12, 2010 6:31 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2010 1:00 pm

Dinner Bell Brings SEC, SWAC, C-USA Scores


Before you settle in on a Friday evening to watch basketball, go to a party, head over to catch a movie or perhaps kill a drifter (hey, I don't know you), some business from late this afternoon.

Ole Miss (probably) punched out for the season today. But there's no way of knowing for sure. What we do know is that Ole Miss really needed a strong showing in the SEC Tournament to keep a chance for an NCAA bid. As it was, Bruce Pearl and company strolled into Nashville today to handle Andy Kennedy's Rebels fairly handily, keeping a nice cushion between the two teams for most of the second half. The Vols' Wayne Chism played 36 minutes for 16 points and a whopping 15 rebounds, and the stage is set for a third Tennessee-Kentucky matchup tomorrow (their series is split) that should be nothing short of a good old-fashioned SEC street fight. Does Ole Miss still have a chance for the Dance? Chances are slimmer, but tournament season never fails to surprise.

UTEP-Tulsa went according to plan. The University of Texas-El Paso hasn't been nationally ranked since 1992, and they appear to be taking that quite seriously. The Miners faced Tulsa in Tulsa today to unseat the Golden Hurricane 75-61. In typical UTEP "who's turn is it today?" fashion, Randy Culpepper pulled down 21 points (you'll recall it was junior Jeremy Williams' moment the night before), and that means that -- according to the rotation -- it should be transfer Derrick Caracter's shift tomorrow as UTEP takes on either Houston or Southern Miss tomorrow at an 11:30 am tip-off.

One-half of the SWAC finals is set. Arkansas-Pine Bluff started the season 0-11 in nonconference play. And they're still a two seed in the SWAC tournament, headed to the finals tomorrow after a 69-66 edging out of Alabama State in Bossier City today. The Golden Lions -- despite horrific shooting early on -- hung on to send the Delta Demons packing and will play the winner of a Grambling-Texas Southern matchup later tonight. Make no mistake about it, if anyone in this conference wants to live past the SWAC tournament, they've gotta win it. And even then, they're a sixteen.

Keep your internet dial right here, folks. There's more to come.
Posted on: March 12, 2010 12:16 am
Edited on: March 12, 2010 1:17 am

Thursday Night Wrap-up

Thomas Beisner

12:00 pm

After what already seems to be four to five weeks of conference tournaments in our rear view mirror, Selection Sunday is now coming up on the horizon and things are starting to sort themselves out a bit.  On Thursday, some teams were relegated to the bubble and prayers (Memphis) while some teams continued their post-season hoops hopes (Notre Dame).  With 27 games on the docket for Friday, including the Patriot League Championship, answers are certain to be headed the way of all college basketball fans.  Before we get started, though, let's look back at what turned out to be a big-time Thursday in the world of college basktball.

Will the Onuaku injury affect seeding? - Perhaps the biggest story on Thursday (besides Syracuse's loss) was the injury suffered by Syracuse big man Arinze Onuaku which, depending on who you talk to, is either major or minor. Onuaku will have an MRI on Friday and the results will be available….probably after the seeding is announced. Especially if it’s serious. Regardless of what the injury turns out to be, you’d have to assume the Orange is fairly safe with their #1 seed. What they need to be more concerned about, however, is how a team that is now essentially only six-deep is going to respond in a two games in three days tournament setting.

The Big Names are Done - It was really only a matter of time until they all bid adieu to this year’s college basketball season, but a trio of big name programs finally had the final nail placed in their post-season coffin on Thursday. North Carolina jumped out to a double-digit lead against Georgia Tech and then came out in the second half looking all North Carolina-like and gave the game away. Tom Crean’s Indiana Revival, still sputtering along in year two, took a thumping at the hands of mighty Northwestern while Arizona’s run of 25 straight NCAA tourney appearances came to an end (after two years of undeserved bids) against another traditional power on life support, UCLA. They say things are going to get better. I say at least they didn’t give up like UConn. I am worried about Sean Miller, though. The losses seem to be taking their toll and he’s gone from looking like a sober Billy Gillispie to Texas A&M Billy Gillispie. That’s not a good trend.

If a tree falls in the Staples Center, does it make a sound? - The national media wrote the Pac-10 off a long, long time ago. Surprisingly, the Pac-10 fans apparently have done the same. Outside of the Salt Lake City's Megaplex 12 during the premiere of I Got the Hookup, it’s possible that no venue has ever been so empty for such a fan-friendly event.  I watched Oregon and Washington’s overtime affair Wednesday night (a great game) while feeding my son and the Staples Center appeared to have about only 7-8 people more than my couch. When UCLA plays in their home city and can’t get fans, you know it’s bad. However, the Pac-10 tournament did introduce me to Rebecca Haarlow, so it can’t be all bad, right?

Coaching redemption in C-USA - With John Calipari gone from Memphis, the national spotlight has dimmed significantly on the only official conference of the United States. UTEP seized the opportunity and grabbed the regular season title with a 15-1 record, but it’s a couple of underdog coaches that are making the most of their chances. Seventh-seeded Houston coach Tom Penders is being reported as a dead man walking whose employment only lasts as long as his team’s season. After an upset of second-seeded Memphis, it lasts another day. His semifinal opponent, Southern Miss, is coached by another recognizable name trying to make the most of his situation. Larry Eustachy, the disgraced former Iowa State coach, has made steady improvements in his sixth season in Hattiesberg and brought home his 20th win in an upset of UAB (and their former big name coach Mike Davis). By Friday evening, one of these two maligned coaches will be one win away from going dancing.

Jimmer! - Obviously wanting to prove that Montana's Anthony Johnson isn't the only guy out west who can fill it up, BYU junior Jimmer Fredette poured in a Mountain West tournament record 45 points in a win over TCU.  Fredette, who had been battling strep throat, mono, a stomach virus, typhoid fever, the mumps, pink eye, an ingrown toenail and Osgood Schlatter's disease, returned to the lineup with a bang, though I feel his 45 points are cheapened a bit by 23 made free throws.  Anthony Johnson wouldn't do that.  But, I do respect The Jimmer for his honesty displayed in this interview, perhaps the most honest in college basketball history (fast forward to 3:45).

Frankengody has returned - If you’ve watched Luke Harangody’s basketball career the past 27 years, you knew he was going to come back and play at least one more game. He just wouldn’t go out like that. But, give Harangody credit for not only coming back, but for being an impact player despite his injury and sparking his team to three wins now and, dare I say, the NCAA tournament. The Irish will get a shot at West Virginia Friday and Harangody will look to come off the bench and lead his team in scoring for the third straight game. Plus, he’s the only person besides my wife who can get only two haircuts in 12 months and be perfectly fine with hit. That deserves some respect.

The Almosts - Oh, how close they came. Air Force and LSU, winners of a combined three conference games, pushed a pair of highly ranked teams to the brink. LSU gave Bruce Pearl and Tennessee all they could handle before fading down the stretch and Air Force lost a heartbreaker to New Mexico, 75-69. I wish we could say some inspiring things to both teams but there’s nothing left to say. Except maybe to just clean out their lockers. You don’t want this season lingering any longer than it has to.

The other #1 seeds take the floor Friday - On Thursday, Syracuse fell to Georgetown and Kansas got a good little push from Texas Tech. On Friday, the presumed other two top seeds, Kentucky and Duke, take the floor and try to get used to their dancing shoes. Duke will square off with Virginia, a team that once lead the conference and snapped a nine-game losing streak Thursday, in a game where they’ll be heavily favored. With West Virginia still in contention for a Big East title, the Dukies might have to win the ACC tournament to keep their top seed. Meanwhile, John Calipari will lead his troops against Alabama in his first ever SEC tournament game. The Cats beat the Tide on February 9 and shouldn’t encounter much trouble. However, they then will likely face Tennessee and Vanderbilt in loseable games. Their #1 footing is more solid than Duke’s, but it's important that the young Cats get comfortable in the post-season tournament setting before embarking on the what is shaping up to be a journey full of very high expectations.

Friday’s Games to Watch

Illinois vs. Wisconsin 2:00 pm
*Lehigh vs. Lafayette 4:45 pm
Texas A&M vs. Kansas 7:00 pm
Georgetown vs. Marquette 7:00 pm
Notre Dame vs. West Virginia 9:00 pm
San Diego State vs. New Mexico 9:00 pm
Baylor vs. Kansas State 9:30 pm

* denotes championship game

Posted on: March 11, 2010 11:46 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2010 12:19 am

Late night updates

John Wilkinson

And the Big East does it again. What a finish as West Virginia and De'Sean Butler escape at the buzzer, restoring a semblance of normalcy in an otherwise parallel bracket. 

We breezed through the first part of Conference Championship week and found it to be a bit chalky quite frankly, then the Big East goes out today and completely turns our blogging world on its head. The most feared conference in all the land with it's self-important "double-byes" and permanent NYC home, has been dwindled to four: an 8-seed, 7-seed, 5-seed and a 3-seed. 

And yes, De'sean Butler is nails. Stay tuned for more Big East updates.

--For the game of the night we go to the MAC, where the Akron Zips survived Eastern Michigan 97-89 in double OT. Eagles guard Carlos Medlock poured in 42 points in the upset bid, the second most in MAC tournament history. Even more amazing, the seven technicals called between the teams with three ejections. That's just how they do things in the MAC. Dog v. dog. Ohio University provided the other big news, as they throttled top-seeded Kent St. 81-64 to earn a spot in the semis. 

--PAC 10 regular season champs by default, the Cal Bears, disposed of the wounded Ducks of Oregon, 90-74 in quarterfinal action. The loss wrecks coach Ernie Kent's pre-tournament prognostication, and soon, his job. Cal guard Tajuan Porter set the PAC 10's career 3-point record with his 343rd to break the mark held by former Zona guard Salim Stoudemire. The win moves Cal to the semis and a date with UCLA, which surely makes Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz quite happy, which will ultimately lead to the termination of the band. 

--The Mountain West held true today, with top seeds New Mexico, BYU, and San Diego St. all advancing despite each getting pushed to the end. UNLV tips off against Utah sometime before sunrise, I hope. On a day where conference MVP Darington Hobson racked up 28 points for New Mexico, runner-up Jimmer Fredette went off for 45 in a 95-85 BYU win over TCU. Fredette made 23-24 free-throws and topped 40 points for the second time this season. 

--The C-USA appears to be a one bid league now with a pair of bubbles bursting in Memphis and UAB. Memphis may still have a shot a a bid but they'll need some help or just a 96-team tournament. Also, Marshall fell to Tulsa tonight 80-64, meaning the most intriguing player most of us have never watched will not be in the dance. Seven-foot freshman Hassan Whiteside is being projected as a lottery pick and recorded a set of triple-doubles this season.

--In the Southland, my NCAA Tourney sleeper Sam Houston State survives 89-85 against SE Louisiana to set up clash of top seeded gents, Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin, for tickets to the deb ball. 


Posted on: March 11, 2010 7:57 pm

Some Thoughts on the Day So Far


8:00 PM

We are a little over halfway through the busiest day of the college basketball season.  The action has been crazy all over the place and the March field has been shaken up a bit.  Here is where we are:

1.  Big East Wackiness

Two games in New York and two very surprising results.  The Syracuse loss to Georgetown may or may not be important longterm but the statistic that no team has won a national championship after losing in the first round of their conference tournament has to be at least a bit troubling.  Luckily for the 'Cuse, the news on Onauku early is positive and it looks as if the injury might not have been as bad as early feared.  What is bad is the Orange's ability to guard anyone...after Louisville shredded the zone defense in the last regular season game, Georgetown did the same in the first in the postseason.  They look to potentially have the mantle of weakest of the #1 seeds as of this moment.

2.  Bubble Teams Dont Come Through

Three teams came into winnable games on Thursday afternoon with a chance to come close to securing an NCAA berth.  All three choked.  Two of the worst offenders were in Conference USA where Memphis and UAB both went down.  For the Tigers, there is proof that Calipari is not walking through that door, as they fell to a weak Houston team in Tulsa.  Memphis would have potentially locked up a berth wiith just one win, now they will sweat all the way through Selection Sunday.  UAB then could have taken advantage of the Tigers' fall with a victory over Southern Miss, but instead got blown out, scoring only 44 points along the way.  Mike Davis will be seeking NIT validation for yet another season.  And Paul "I cant coach my way out of a paper bag, even if Jamie Dixon were in it with me" Hewitt, saw his Rambling Wreck of a team fall to the weakest group in the ACC, the Sylvan Landesburg-less UVA Cavaliers.  I would leave all three of these teams out just on prinicple.

3.  Kansas Continues to Survive

If the mark of a great team is winning close games at the end, Kansas is trying to reach that plateau one sweaty palmed victory at a time.  This time the victim was Texas Tech, but in recent weeks nearly every team in the Big 12 could have been inserted in their place.  The Jayhawks are experienced and it shows at the end of games, but they are prone to playing way below their level and one cant help but wonder if it will catch up on a Sweet 16 Thursday or Friday night in the Big Dance.

All six major conferences are in action tonight....stay tuned.

Posted on: March 11, 2010 5:45 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2010 10:45 pm

Again, Memphis falls just short

Thomas Beisner

6:00 PM

It was a tough season for the Memphis Tigers and first-time head coach Josh Pastner in their first year after J.C. Not quite the super-talented squads that Calipari led to a historic level of winning the past few years, this edition was a little more scrappy and endured the end of the C-USA winning streak, the cloud of NCAA sanctions and player dismissals. When Willie Kemp was called for a double-dribble with the Tigers down one and trying for a final shot, it seemed a fitting end to a courageous but unspectacular year.

Kemp’s performance was heroic, though his 15 points only told part of the story. With his team’s tournament fate on the line, he did his best Anthony Johnson impression (I love that guy!) and poured in five straight baskets for the Tigers. Unfortunately, though, Houston’s Aubrey Coleman scored the last of his 21 points with five seconds left, sending the Tigers into bracket bubble hell.

The commonly shared opinion entering the Conference USA Tournament was that Josh Pastner’s team needed to make the final in order to feel comfortable about their NCAA chances. A loss to the 17-15 (7-9) Cougars adds a late-season smear mark to a 23-9 (13-3) record that seemed to be better than the team it put on the floor sometimes. As of now, Memphis’ hopes would appear to be gloomy with upsets popping up across the major conference landscape.

There’s no doubt that Josh Pastner’s team is on the rise and a loaded recruiting class will have the Tigers back firmly in the tournament conversation this year. But, after a disappointing loss to the Cougars on Thursday, their fate now appears to be in someone else’s hands – a feeling that has been unfortunately all too familiar this year.

Posted on: March 11, 2010 3:44 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2010 4:00 pm

Kansas Wins, 'Cuse Falls, and the SEC is underway

Drew Franklin
More and more sick days are being used and the tournament action is picking up as we near the weekend of conference tournament week.  Today marked the first afternoon with a solid schedule of the nationally televised, major conference games.

If you are a fan of the NCAA contenders, I assume you're saving your sick days for the Big Dance.  So, let me recap what you missed this afternoon while you were at work flipping through paperwork and flirting with that secretary that's half your age.

Big XII: Kansas 80, Texas Tech 68... Cole Aldrich scored 12 points and grabbed 18 rebounds as Kansas became the third team to reach 2000 wins.  The Jayhawks struggled in the first half and had to fight off a second half Texas Tech run to pull of the win over the Red Raiders.  Sherron Collins scored 19 and dished out six assists and Xavier Henry added 13 points in the win for the number one team in the land.  Kansas will go on to face the Texas A&M-Nebraska winner in Friday's Big 12 Semifinals.

Big East: Georgetown 91, Syracuse 84... Just in case you're too lazy to scroll down, the top-seeded Georgetown might've cost Syracuse their #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  The Hoyas upset the Orange in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament today.  Syracuse's Arinze Onuaku went down with what appeared to be a serious right-knee injury but early reports are that he'll be good to go for the NCAA Tournament.  Georgetown will play the winner of Villanova-Marquette.

SEC: Alabama 68, South Carolina 63... South Carolina lost a heartbreaker to Alabama in the first game of the 2010 SEC Tournament.  With the Gamecocks down two with under a minute to play, Devan Downey missed the first of two critical free throws.  S.C. would get another shot at tying the game after an Alabama layup but Sam Muldrow threw the ball away while trying to get it to Downey on the inbounds.  Alabama advances to lose to Kentucky.

ACC: Virginia 68, Boston College 62... Virginia's Sammy Zeglinski scored 16 of his season high 21 points in the first half in the win over Boston College.  The Cavaliers move on to face Duke in a rematch of a game we caught on our Road Trip.

Conference USA: Houston 66, Memphis 65... Houston's Aubrey Coleman made a bucket with 4 seconds to go to give Houston the win over Memphis.  Coleman scored 21 in the victory.  Hey, remember when Mario Chalmers hit that 3-pointer at the buzzer in the NCAA Championship?  That was awesome. 

MAC: Western Michigan 69, Central Michigan 60... David Kool "As The Other Side of the Pillow" scored 24 points in the second half to rally Western Michigan to a 69-60 win over Central Michigan in the MAC Quarterfinals.
Category: NCAAB
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