All posts by karicjones

The West: What to Look For in Day Two

The Round of 64 provided quite some excitement in the west region, let’s recap

Number 1 seed Gonzaga let the SDST Jackrabbits stay close before pulling away. The Zags looked just as good as they have all season, solid defense and a balanced attack. The win advances the Zags to the round of thirty-two where they will see Northwestern.

The Wildcats playing in their first ever NCAA tournament beat Bryce Drew’s Vandy team after a mistake foul by Matthew Fisher-Davis with Vandy up one with fourteen seconds left gave Northwestern two four shots and their first NCAA win.

If you are playing in a second chance bracket or a round by round bracket pool take Gonzaga as a lock. Northwestern snuck into the tournament with some upset wins and will be no match for the balanced Bulldog offense.

My Pick Gonzaga

Notre Dame defeated Princeton in the 5-12 match up in Buffalo. It was one of the better games of the day as it came down to a missed Princeton three-pointer with 3.7 seconds left in the game. The Irish will march on to face West Vergina.

Huggy Bear and his team had all they could handle with a resilient Bucknell team that kept it close until the very end. Prevailing 86-80 over the Bison

The Notre Dame -West Virginia game could be the best of the day Saturday and it’s an early 12.10 tip-off from Buffalo.   The former Big East rivals come in each 3-2 over their last five games. Notre Dame is the only team to reach the Elite Eight the last two NCAA tournaments and I expect them to get to the second weekend. Look for them to feed swingman Bonzie Colson. The only way I see the Mountaineers winning this one is if they play better defense than they did vs Bucknell and control how many touches Colson gets.

My Pick Notre Dame

I did not think Xavier could do it, knock out a Melo Trimble Maryland team; at least not the shell of what Xavier is without Edmond Summer. Xavier proved they can take on anyone. Maryland was kept to 40% shooting from the floor and a cold 25.9% from behind the arch. Xavier was powered by their ability to hit shots at right times and the thirty point they had coming off the bench.

Florida State were winners over FGCU in one of the fastest paced basketball games I have ever watched. FSU struggled in stretches to keep up with FGCU but held on for the win. FSU is one of the tallest teams in college basketball and they like to score inside they have to stick to that it has worked all season if they want to compete with Xavier.

For me, though the is something about this Xavier team that I really like they have a spark and that’s why I have to pick them to make it to the sweet 16.

My Pick Xavier

St.Mary’s took out VCU in a battle of Mid-Major Darlings, St.Mary’s was put in the same region as conference rival Gonzaga kind of odd for the committee to do with teams from a non-major confrence. That being said I highly doubt they meet up. St.Mary’s gets to deal with an Arizona team fresh off a 100-82 win over North Dakota. Arizona looks like a team that could win the whole thing. Sean Miller has a team that is built for a deep run. The Pac-12 Regular season and Tournament champions will look to overpower the Gales who to their credit have had a great season. I don’t think the wildcats will have much of a problem with St.Mary’s. Arizona will inch closer to their first final four trip since 2001.

My pick Arizona

E-mail Karic at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @karic_jones.

Grayson Allen is Trippin’ (Again)

If you were watching Duke beat Elon last night, or if you turned on Sports Center in the last day, you will see Grayson Allen decided it was a wise decision to trip Elon’s Steven Santa Ana. This is the third time Allen has tripped an opposing player in the last year and it has since been announced that Allen will be suspended indefinitely. This is a change of pace as he was not suspended the first two times he tripped an opposing player.

Grayson Allen is a damn good basketball player and he is the face of one of the best programs in the country. He also needs help. Allen showed last night that he clearly has a hard time dealing with the stress of competition. After he was assessed a technical foul for the trip and was consequently benched, Allen threw a temper tantrum on the bench as if he was a toddler and his favorite toy was taken away.  Then after the game he proceeded to break down and cry through his whole media session. This behavior is what is expected of a 12-year-old playing 6th grade basketball and dealing with having a bad game for the first time. It should not be the behavior of one of the top 20 college basketball players in the country.

Allen was suspended indefinitely by Duke and most would assume this will be a few games until they play a good team.( See #21 Florida State Jan 10) I think Allen needs to be out for a way longer period. This tripping incident is a symptom of a bigger issue and Allen needs to get his head on straight before he seriously injures someone or has an episode like this off the basketball court.

Allen is not the only one that is to blame. Coach K and the Duke basketball staff are also at fault. Forget for a second he has done this twice before in a game. He has to have acted out like this in practice before. There is a behavior pattern with Allen and it looks like whatever, if anything, was done to prevent the behavior is not working. For whatever reason, winning was put ahead of discipline and respect for the game. Allen was not reprimanded enough the first two times he behaved this way and the person who is hurt the most is Allen.

Don’t worry about Duke. They have a roster loaded with talent and could probably win a national title without Allen. That doesn’t change the fact that Allen needs to get himself under control. If he doesn’t, there will be a headline with his name in it, but it will be for something far worse than tripping.

 

Photo Via Wikipedia

Not All Hope is Lost for Detroit Mercy

Okay, Let’s be real. So far the 2016-17 season has not gone well for Detroit Mercy. The Titans are 0-2 vs Division II teams and 1-6 in the regular season, this being said it’s not hard to see growth and some silver linings through seven games.

Corey Allen is the real deal. It’s no wonder he was a Michigan Mr. Basketball finalist. The kid can shoot the three ball he’s at 38 percent on the year and although he has had some freshman growing pains, he shows flashes of brilliance,that brilliance was on display versus Eastern Michigan. Allen dropped 20 on the Hurons (uh, I mean Eagles) and was the only bright spot in a game that started good and went to hell in a handbasket really quick. Allen went 4-for-6 from downtown as his team went just 4-22 from behind the arc.

Josh McFolley looks just as good as he did last year. He leads Detroit Mercy with 14.5 points per game and is shooting 47 percent from behind the arc. The only issue with McFolley’s game thus far is he has been turnover prone on the young season averaging 2.2 turnovers per contest.

However, he will need to get playtime if he’s going to improve. In the game against EMU, McFolley was held to just two points in 20 minutes it seemed as if every time he made a mistake coach Bacari Alexander was quick to yank him from the game.

McFolley also does not seem to be Alexander’s first pick to run the point for the Titans, given that he started Dre Black on Saturday (and again versus the Eagles) and it seemed to work well. Black, the juco transfer from Schoolcraft, is emerging is a third guard option; he has shown the ability to drive to the rim and finish contested layups and a keen ability to shoot from long range. I feel that Black can push McFolley to be a better player. There is real potential for this team to be really good next season and it starts with the backcourt.

It’s not just the backcourt that has shown improvements over six games for Detroit Mercy. Junior Forward Jaleel Hogan has looked impressive and stronger than ever, if he was just two inches taller he would be a legit NBA caliber forward/center. So far Hogan has been good for 13 points a game and three rebounds a game, Foul trouble has limited Hogan’s minutes and Hogan and the staff are no doubt working to get him fouling less. His midrange game has really developed over the last year and going forward in this season and into 2017-18, Hogan could be an impact player in the horizon league if he can stay out of foul trouble.

It seems as if Alexander has found his rotation through six games, as only six Titans played over 20 minutes in Saturday’s 84-81 double overtime loss to Manhattan. The rotation using McFolley as a sixth man looks like one that could work and I hope it says. It was clear on Saturday that Detroit Mercy had its vision and game plan down, the missing ingredient for the team’s first Division I win was a handful of made free throws something that I am sure will be a work in progress throughout the season.

E-mail Karic at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Karic_Jones.

Image via Detroit Mercy Athletics

Detroit Mercy Rebrands, Angers Everybody

Detroit Mercy (Yes, that’s how they want to be referred to now) updated and released its new brand and motto a few weeks back at Celebrate Spirit, the annual school year kick-off. The new logo and branding can be views on the Detroit Mercy site. The logo has been described by some to me as “a pregnant old English D,” “something from the movie ‘Predator'” and the most eloquent description, “like shit.”

I can’t lie. I don’t care for the logo, even though I feel like as boxy and bland as it was, it did its job. My issue with Detroit Mercy is not there with a unaesthetic pleasing logo and C-grade slogan. It’s the cost.

It’s no secret Detroit Mercy is not in the best financial shape. It’s no secret everyone has taken cuts in the past few years. As SGA president, I saw first-hand how it affected different departments.

The old Detroit Mercy logo, used, prior to this year (via Wikipedia)
The old Detroit Mercy logo, used, prior to this year (via Wikipedia)

(No, I am not going to disclose any privileged info I have from being SGA president. I still have yet to graduate and would like to do so in may of 2017 with little to no hassle.)

My issue with this new logo and branding is the cost. They say they spent one million dollars. Yes, I know; one million for that ugly logo and someone to tell them to rebrand to sound like a hospital and not an institution higher education. But one million dollars, that’s a lot of money. I know it’s not for a university, but when you’re cutting back, and everyone feels it, you go and spend one million it’s a big slap in the face.

I feel like it’s a slap in the face to everyone who works there ass off in student life to make something out of nothing. It’s a slap in the face to the alumni who blindly donate to the university, to everyone in athletics who scrapes things together to make game days go smoothly and look like a Division I program should. All these people work their asses off with little to no budget. Students are not engaged in a thing outside of classes because we as a school don’t spend the money to do things students like, instead of rebranding why don’t they throw half of that money to student life and half to athletics; not cut everything and then spend money on rebranding, I am no business student, but that seems like poor planning.

With this new branding, the university gave the middle finger to all the people who want to drop “Mercy” from the name, something I am all for but I understand wont ever happen. See outsiders would never know there’s hundreds, if not thousands, of people who would give money if “mercy “was not in the name. However the current job market is filled with healthcare jobs and the Sisters of Mercy brought those programs to the university in the merger. So the “Mercy” is going to stay it sucks in some peoples opinion, but it’s a necessity.

I liked great things as a slogan, but it was getting old. The new tag line, “A Boundless Future” is OK, but this is going to be the point of all this. If Detroit Mercy does not focus on the people in the trenches and the current students, not the prospective students, the future for Detroit Mercy is not “Boundless.” If I were a betting man, I would say it’s on a time clock of between 20-40 years before it shutters its doors; something I sure as hell don’t want to see.

As much as I hate the new branding, I am going to get a few shirts for basketball season, I can bitch all I want, but it’s my school and I am going to support it no matter how poorly I think some decisions they make are. Is it time to watch College Hoops yet?

Email Karic at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Karic_Jones.

Image via Wikipedia

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Oakland adds Nunn and Clark; Each comes with baggage.

Greg Kampe is not one to refuse to give guys second chances, in fact, he’s done it a few times over his tenure at Oakland. But his two newest additions to his basketball program raise red flags. Enter Stevie Clark and Kendrick Nunn. If those names sound familiar  to you, it is because they were each 4 star national top 100 recruits.

Clark will join OU from Oakloma State the former cowboy spent his last season at Arkansas Baptist JC. Last year Clark averaged 14.1 Points per contest and shot 39% from downtown. Clark however, has had issues with pot in the past; in 2013 he was sent home from the OSU Thanksgiving tournament for violating team rules and in January of 2014, he was arrested for possession of the herb and then for public urination the following month. Clark also sued OSU and Coach Travis Ford alleging that he was forced to take ” psychotropic drugs” and that OSU star Marcus Smart hazed him and that Ford promised Clark a Chevy Camaro. Clark sounds to me like he needs to lay off the pot, outside of that he seems like an ok kid, and I hope he does well at OU, For me, Clark is not the reason I am writing this Nunn is.

Kendrick Nunn played at Illinois for the last three years. Nunn is a 2013 graduate of Chicago Simeon High school, and he played next to Jabari Parker. Nunn won four state titles in high school and is one of five players in Simion history to have his number retired. Nunn did well for the Illini raising his PPG every year. However, he was dismissed from Illinois this past year. On March 17th Nunn was arrested and charged with one count of domestic battery, See Here, Nunn has since pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and transferred to OU, he will sit out this year per NCAA transfer rules.

Nunn will be a teammate of one Martez Walker, who was kicked out of Texas after he acquired a misdemeanor assault charge, more on his crimes can be read Right Here. So far Walker seems to have done well on and off the court at OU, but haveing these two on the same team sends a message to Students and fans alike that OU has no problem with violence against women.
In this day in age where schools across the country have looked away when women were treated poorly by athletes, OU joined the club with Baylor and Florida State. I am not an anti second chance person; I just feel that right now is not the time to hand out a “get out of jail free card” when it comes to domestic violence. This stance has zero to do with where I attended college and more to do with wanting to change the culture of college athletics. Illinois did the right thing when it kicked Nunn out; it showered they care. If you want another perspective on Nunn being thrown out of Illinois, see this Chicago Tribune Column. This move to accept Nunn when you already have Walker on the roster shows Greg Kampe and OU care about one thing; winning, they had the chance to stand up and be a leader in college athletics, they chose to get better on the court when they could have chosen to be leaders off the court.

Photo: Oakland University

Brundidge, Bass, Gibson Depart. Questions Asked. Flags Raised.

I am not going to lie. I was very excited when I was told  there was a “strong chance” Bacari Alexander would be the next coach at Detroit. I was tipped off weeks before he was hired; a perk of being an “insider.” When Alexander was announced it felt like Christmas morning as a small child, like a new era for UDM basketball wrapped with a bow.

After today, however, I most likely won’t be an “insider” anymore. Don’t expect to see me in my section next to my friends from the Detroit Titans Hoops message board, Moose, Sam, and UP. And don’t expect me on press row. Stats are all online now, and the games are on ESPN3. I have been to every home game dating back to the 2011-12 season. I won’t be there for the first game of 2016 unless someone has a great explanation of the tomfoolery going on at the corner of Livernois and 6 Mile.

Gone are Paris Bass and Jalen Gibson. This is most likely due to grades, as it has been no secret that each has had academic issues in the past. Bass also had a string of off the court issues, including an eight-game suspension, rumored to be from failing a drug test. Bass was also benched for violating team rules twice during the season. Anyone who follows Detroit saw these departures coming like a freight train in the night. But I don’t think anyone saw the next departure coming in the form it did.

Tuesday morning, Alexander made an interesting decision and one that has puzzled anyone who heard the news. Alexander called Carlton Brundidge and informed him he would not be welcome back next year, if he is granted a sixth year of eligibility.  Brundidge was told the initial round of paperwork for a petition to be granted a sixth year went in back before the Horizon League tournament.

However, no one in athletic compliance has been frank with Brundidge on how that process has gone. In fact, it’s not clear if it has ever been sent in at all and if the NCAA is even aware he is going to attempt to gain a 6th year of eligibility.

Over the last 12 weeks, Brundidge has checked in with over five different officials, including athletic director Robert Vowels and assistant coach Jermaine Jackson on his petition. Brundidge was told the final paperwork and a decision would be submitted, and a decision would come pending his final grades and graduation.

As of 6:00 pm Tuesday evening, no one had told Brundidge if he was denied eligibility yet, just that he would not be spending it at UDM. However, it was reported in the Detroit Free Press earlier in the day that would not be happening. The reasoning, according to Brundidge for why he was not asked back, was his GPA, despite it being above a 2.5.

At his meet and greet, Coach Alexander commented on Brundidge coming back, but it did not seem as if he was hot or cold on the idea. Alexander did reach out to Brundidge and his father to talk about how he would fit into the plan for next year. If Alexander does not want Brundidge on the roster, it makes little sense, as he finished his career on a high note.

It’s understandable for Brundidge not to get a sixth year based on how much he played at Michigan. But he did spend some time in the hospital due to anxiety issue during his time with the Wolverines, which included a stay in the hospital for heart palpitations.

Michigan should have turned over the proper medical paperwork to prove that this anxiety was not a fabricated when Brundidge transferred, but it is unclear if this paperwork is in the hands of either school or if the NCAA has gotten a hold of it. A representative from the Brundidge family is working with Michigan to get things on that end straightened out.

Brundidge will not be mad if he is not granted a sixth year. He would just like a solid answer from someone about what is going on.  It’s clear everyone in the Brundidge camp that something is not right. Why would Detroit lead him on like that to tell him in the end that they don’t want him?  If  Brundidge felt there was a strong possibility he would not be back he would have planned for it.  Brundidge would have declared for the draft and went through the process. Now  Brundidge is left in limbo wondering if a petition for a 6th year was submitted and if it was what the status is.

I have a few ideas into why all of a sudden  Brundidge was put in a holding pattern

  1. The necessary paperwork never went in. This type of mistake would not be a first for UDM. But if that is the case, just admit the error. Don’t lie to cover it up.
  2. Alexander is setting a standard GPA of 3.0 players must keep, and Brundage’s 2.75 was not on par. This is OK, but why leave CB in limbo? Right now Detroit has just seven scholarship players for next season. By not having him back, what use is his scholarship for one season? There is zero impact on the 2017 recruiting class. If this is the case (and I hope it is not), Alexander is setting a standard that might make it hard for him to win. It is going to be very hard to find top talent that can hold an above 3.0 GPA in a school like UDM. If you go down the list of top players in Michigan, you will cross out half of them if a projected 3.0 College GPA is a requirement.
  3. Brundidge has been denied a 6th year, and Detroit is trying to coddle him. I seriously doubt the school would do this, but stranger things have happened.
  4. Brundidge is lying. I know him really well, and he is a man of his word. I find it highly unlikely that CB has lied to myself or anyone else during this process and would try to paint the university in any negative light, that’s not who he is.  In fact, when I talked to him, he was not mad with UDM at all. He just was upset he was not given a solid answer as to if his career was over or not and what the next step is.
  5. Brundidge was lied to so he graduated, and he did not hurt the school’s APR. I don’t think it was ever his plan to tank and not graduate, but using a sixth year of eligibility to entice someone to do well sounds like a good idea. In the past few years, Detroit has had a problem with players graduating and keeping their grades up in the final semesters.

The one truth I know is that Brundidge was in some way wronged by UDM, whether intentional or unintentional. I don’t know who is to blame. I do know that Brundidge gave Detroit all he had when he was there, he tried is best in the classroom and even in dark times represented the university well.

It is said Jesuit universities are supposed to produce “men and women for others.” The idea behind this is that Jesuit-educated people serve others as Jesus did. Clearly, someone forgot this idea when they decided to leave Brundidge hanging.

A representative of Brundidge was not available to provide any more insight into the situation as of  Wednesday evening.

Email Karic at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Karic_Jones.

Photo via Dale Brundidge

Welcome to Detroit – Previewing the Horizon League Tournament

All eyes are on the Motor City as the Horizon League comes to town for the first edition of #MotorCityMadness.

The favorites are the Valparaiso Crusaders.

Valpo is coming off a 16-2 conference season that made it only the fifth team to finish with two losses or less in the Horizon League regular season. Four of those five teams have gone on to the NCAA tournament. Unlike in the past when Valpo would have earned the right to host the tournament, this year the tournament moves to a “neutral floor” at Joe Louis Arena. Not hosting won’t hinder Valpo, they are far and away the best team in this tournament.

Valpo is anchored by junior forward Alec Peters, who averaged 17.9 points per game during the conference season along with 8.3 rebounds a game. Peters is an inside and outside threat. Standing 6’9″, he has no issues scoring inside and moving the ball in transition. That being said, he has been the most effective from behind the three-point arc, shooting 45 percent.

Peters has had help in senior point guard Keith Carter, who dished out 132 assists on the year while scoring 10.1 points per game during the conference season. No other Crusaders averaged more than ten points per game this season. Valpo is built on defense and is sixth in the nation as a team, allowing their opponents only 61 points per game. Valpo has two-time Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year Vashil Fernandez holding down the paint. Fernandez had 94 blocks and 15 steals this season along with 139 defensive rebounds, in order to stop Valpo teams will need to get Fernandez into foul trouble.

The Contenders

The number two seed is the Oakland Golden Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies are one of the two de facto home teams in this tournament, having their campus just 30 miles up the road from Joe Louis Arena.

OU is led by Horizon League Player of the Year Kay Felder. This season, Felder has averaged 24.4 points per game and has led the nation in assists with 9.4 per contest. Felder can do it all and has been impossible for anyone to slow down all season. Felder, despite being only 5’9″, has climbed NBA draft boards and could end up foregoing his senior year for the NBA.

Oakland is not just the Kay Felder show. OU has four other players who average more than 10 points per game. One of those players in redshirt sophomore Jalen Hayes, who is an electric finisher with tons of athletic ability. He does most of his scoring inside and is capable of throwing down monstrous dunks.

The Golden Grizzlies also have Martez Walker, a redshirt sophomore who transferred in from Texas after he was released due to some off-the-court issues. Walker has done alright for himself, averaging 11 points per game and freeing up space for Felder and Hayes by forcing defenders to cover him. Walker is not a player that you can let get free outside the arc as he shoots 45 percent from downtown. Most of his three-point attempts have come when he is left open in the corner of the court, and he’s able to drift to the outside.

OU also features senior center Percy Gibson and senior guard Max Hooper, who each score more than 10 points per game. Hooper is a three-point specialist who has yet to shoot a two-point field goal all year. Beyond those five players, the only guys that get substantial time are Sherron Dorcy-Walker and Nick Daniels.  Outside of Hooper, all of the Oakland players named above are Michigan natives. Felder, SDW, Gibson and Walker all attended Pershing High School together and were on varsity at the same time. With OU having so many Detroit kids, you have to think they have a bit of home court advantage. It is also worth noting that OU is the country’s  highest scoring team with 87 points per game.

Wright State

Although Wright State finished third in the conference, it doesn’t seem like much of a contender. It’s a well-coached squad that plays good fundamental basketball and likes to slow down the tempo. Their leading scorers are Mark Alstork and JT Yoho, each with 12 points per game. Head coach Billy Donlon is hands down the best X’s and O’s coach in the Horizon, that being said his squad lacks talent.

Don’t expect much from WSU, I don’t expect them to be playing Monday night.

Milwaukee

Milwaukee might be the biggest underachiever in the Horizon League this season. The Panthers have a starting five that can go head-to-head with anyone in the country. The Panthers finished fifth in the Horizon League but they earned wins over Big Ten schools Wisconsin and Minnesota during the regular season. The Panthers are led by senior forward Matt Tiby, a Horizon League first-team selection who averaged 15.6 points and eight rebounds per game during the regular season.

The Panthers are a big team. Four of the seven rotation players for Milwaukee are 6’5″ or taller, and all of them can step out and shoot the threes. JJ Panoske, a 6’10” senior forward, shoots 41 percent from downtown and 6’5″ junior guard Cody Wichmann shoots 51 percent from three-point land. This being said, the Panthers live and die with the three-point shot. If the Panthers get hot from downtown, they could find themselves cutting down the nets in Detroit. If they make a run, watch for point guard Jordan Johnson to have a good tournament. The junior was selected to the Horizon League Second Team with 12 points and 8.2 assists per game, good for second in the country.

Green Bay

The Phoenix, like WSU, finished high in the standings but don’t have a great shot to win in Detroit. Green Bay scores a lot, in fact, they are fourth in the country in scoring with 85 points per game. The flaw with Green Bay is defense. They don’t play it. The goal for green pay is to push the tempo and hope to outscore the opposition. Green Bay has two key players from the back-to-back NIT runs left on the roster. Senior Jordan Fouse was selected to the Horizon League Second Team and the All-Defensive Team. This season, Fouse has 12 points per game to go along with 44 blocks and 69 steals.

If Green Bay makes a run, Fouse needs to do more on the offensive side of the ball. The second piece remaining from the back-to-back NIT teams for Green Bay is Carrington Love. Love spent the last few years as the backup to star Kiefer Sykes. Love has proved thus far that he is just as talented. Love averaged 18 points per game and was named to the Horizon League First Team and the All-Defensive Team, haveing 78 steals and nine blocks on the year.

The Sleeper: Detroit

The home team located just nine miles from Joe Louis Arena might have the most talent of any team in the Horizon League. The Titans score a lot, 83.8 points per game, good for 8th in the nation. What they don’t do is play any defense. Detroit ranks 339th in the country in scoring defense. Down the stretch, Detroit has improved slightly on the defensive side of the ball. If they want to make a run they need to put together four straight strong defensive games in a row.

Detroit’s star player is Paris Bass. Bass, a 6’8″ forward with NBA aspirations, has 18.7 points per game to go with 7.7 rebounds. Bass is an adamant scorer that can slash his way to the rim or step outside and shoot the three. Bass, however, has the tendency to play one-on-five with the opposing team. When Bass gets this selfish streak, the Titans tend to lose.

The Titans also have 6’7″  forward Chris Jenkins, who like Bass can slash inside and shoot the three well. Jenkins had 12.6 points per game during the regular season including a big game vs. Oakland last Friday where he put up 12 points in under four minutes. In between Bass and Jenkins is 6’6″ forward Jaleel Hogan. The sophmore is stronger than an ox and has a big body that allows him to push anyone around in the paint. Look for Hogan, who had 10 points per game during the regular season, to score over players much bigger than him.

At shooting guard, Detroit will start 6’6″ senior Anton Wilson, who is currently averaging 14.3 points per game and is one of the best three-point shooters in the country. If Anton can score one three-pointer in the tournament he will become the third best three-point shooter in Detroit Titan history. Wilson is deadly from the corners and the bend in the arc. If he is left open and can get going he can fill up a stat sheet. The Titans will most likely start senior point guard Carlton Brundage. Brundage, a former national top 100 recruit, has gotten hot as of late. He has been a spark plug and a rebounding machine for the Titans in the second half of the season.

Outside of the starting five, Detroit will use a short bench consisting of Josh McFolly, a freshman point guard, who was selected to the All-Freshman Team. McFolly is undersized but can shoot long threes and score inside. McFolly will be brought into games to try and speed up the tempo. Detroit will also sub in 6’7 “redshirt freshman forward Aaron Foster-Smith, who can step outside and shoot the three but is prone to bad fouls. The final sub is 6’8” forward Gerald Blackshear, a strong rebounder who is young and still developing but has shown he can rebound and defend in the paint. Detroit may also use junior guard Jarod Williams, but as of late, he has not been a major factor.

Others to Watch

Rob Edwards, freshman, Cleveland State

Edwards, a Detroit native who played his high school basketball at Cass Tech, had 12 points a game during the regular season. Edwards is back home, look for him to go out fighting.

Cameron Morse, sophomore, Youngstown State

Morse, a sophomore from Flint, Michigan, put together a great season. Morse averaged 20 points per game and shot 41 percent from three-point range. Morse, who was selected to the Horizon League Second Team, will face off with high school teammate Anton Willson Saturday.

Dikembe Dixson, freshman, UIC

Dixson, the Horizon League Freshman of the Year, is his team’s only hope of upsetting WSU. Dixion currently averages 19.9 points per game and 7 rebounds per game.

My Picks

Round 1

Green Bay over CSU

MKE over NKU

UIC over WSU

DET over YSU

Round 2

MKE over GB

DET over UIC

Semis

OU over DET

Valpo over MKE

Final

OU over Valpo

Email Karic at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Karic_Jones

Images courtesy of DetroitTitans.com

The Final Week of Basketball MACtion!

Get ready for the last week of #MACtion.

As the regular season starts to enter its final week in the Mid-American Conference the top seeds are starting to fall into place.

The standings are flipped from the 2014-2015 season. Last year’s bottom-feeders, Ball State, are sitting at number three in the standings (first in the West). Ohio, which last year was the 11 seed last year in front of only Ball State, finds itself in second place going into the final week of play. Akron, which last year finished .500 in the MAC at 9-9 and got the seventh seed in the 2015 conference tournament, sit atop the standings. But as you know, anything can happen in college basketball. Each of the 12 teams have two games left. That’s plenty of time for someone to gain ground on the Zips.

On deck on Tuesday are some key games.

The first game starts at 7:00 p.m. in Muncie, Indiana as Ball State takes on Central Michigan. In the 2014-15 season Central was on fire, finishing 12-6 in the conference and securing the top seed in the 2015 MAC Tournament. However, in spite of bringing back all five starters and shooting well from beyond the arc as last year (hence being dubbed 3MU), the Chippewas have not had the same success they did a year ago. In fact, in their losses poor three-point shooting proved to be their undoing.

Another key factor for Central’s subpar performance may be the loss of senior Blake Hibbitts for the season in November due to a knee injury. Even though he only averaged 3.6 points and 2.5 rebounds a game in an average of 15 minutes of action last year, the loss of a senior leader, as well as his presence on the floor, have had their effects.

CMU has been led so far by former Detroit Country Day star Chris Fowler. Fowler is averaging 16.1 points per game. junior guard Braylon Rayson also averages 16 points per contest. The final scoring Chippewa is 6’4″ senior guard Rayshawn Simmons. Simmons has 12.9 points per contest.

Ball State comes off its 115-79 curb-stomping of Eastern Michigan. The Cardinals had six players in double figures on Saturday. The leading scorer was Sean Sellers who had 26, far above his normal average of 5.8. Ball State uses a balanced attack that so far this year has done well. They enter Tuesday with a 19-10 record and only three players averaging double figures, no one above 11 points per game.

Although Central is a veteran group, I have to take Ball State in this one. Central is just 2-8 away from home and Ball State is 12-3 on its home floor. Look for the Cardinals to jack a ton of threes and hit the open man in a win over Central.

The second big game on Tuesday features the number one and number two teams in the MAC East. Ohio and Akron will get together at 8 p.m. in Akron. Ohio will come into Akron hot off a 103-96 win over Buffalo. Ohio has four of its starting five averaging 10 or more points per game. Sophomore Jaaron Simmons had 31 in the win Saturday. The Bobcats will also look to shoot from outside as they have three starters that shoot over 40% from behind the three-point arc.

If Akron can pull this out, it guarantees itself the top spot in the East division. Like Ball State, the Zips will send out a balanced attack, led in scoring by junior Isaiah Johnson who has 13.3 points per game. It is worth noting however that three other Zips average 10 or more points per contest. Akron also goes deep into its rotation with 10 players who play nine or more minutes per game. The Zips also gang-rebound with eight players having two or more rebounds per game. This prolific team offense and effort has Akron sitting 22-7 on the year and 13-0 at home. Because they play so well at Rhodes, I expect Akron to speed past the Bobcats. Watch Zips guard Josh Williams versus Ohio, he had 20 last time they played and was 4-5 from downtown.

On Friday, the big game will be in Akron once again as Kent State comes into town. This game, if Akron stumbles on Tuesday, could be for the number one seed in the MAC Tournament. Kent State is led by redshirt junior Jimmy Hall, who averages 16.4 a game. Of late, Hall has been hot and will need to stay that way this week to keep the Golden Flashes in the MAC race. Akron, however, lost on the road to KSU earlier in the year and will have something to prove on its home court. Look for Akron to get points from the reserves who contributed 31 points in the last contest versus the Golden Flashes.

MAC tournament prediction: Akron is the number one seed, followed by Ball State and Ohio.

E-mail Karic at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Kirky313.

Photo: Wikipedia