Tag Archives: Wichita State Shockers

Departures, Arrivals and Uncertainty Shake Horizon League Fans

If you are a fan of a Horizon League member school and expected to have a rather boring off-season, you have probably been surprised.

Realistically, there wasn’t supposed to be much going on, aside from Cleveland State and Youngstown State, which each hired new basketball coaches.

But as it has been with mid-major conferences across the country, the Horizon League found itself in the riptide of change elsewhere.

That elsewhere turned out to be the Missouri Valley Conference, which itself was a part of a snowball that started rolling when the American Athletic Conference invited Wichita State to come aboard. The MVC, in turn, decided it was a school short and looked around for somebody to invite.

For Valparaiso, it became an opportunity to leave the Horizon League. For the remaining schools, it became a time to panic, at least as far as scrambling around to fill the scheduling holes were concerned.

Realistically, the conference didn’t need to really do anything, given how late in the school year it was when Valpo left. The Horizon League still has nine school, and even commissioner Jon LeCrone, when talking about conference expansion in a video conference, did not appear to have a sense of urgency to add another member by the start of July.

So it was curious to find rumblings of the addition of a new school started to grow louder, with fans speculating on a wide range of possibilities, from Robert Morris to Grand Canyon, the latter intimating a westward shift for the conference if it happened.

In the end, however, LeCrone, with the unanimous approval of the Horizon League’s presidents and chancellors, invited IUPUI, in what only can be described as the basketball equivalent of trading a cow for some magic beans.

You can cut through the entire PR spiel about the virtues of IUPUI, and you can certainly go ahead and avert your eyes from the presentation that IUPUI apparently broke out in support of its bid. The league absolutely could have waited a year to expand. And it didn’t.

The good news is that for teams that were slated to struggle at the bottom of the basketball standings next year, congratulations, you have competition. The Jaguars were a meager 14-18 overall and 7-9 in the Summit League, capping the season off by getting hammered at the conference tournament, 90-62, by Omaha.

And next year doesn’t look all that promising, either, losing their top three scorers, Darell Combs, Matt O’Leary and Kellon Thomas, to graduation. In fact, IUPUI hasn’t been a factor since Ron Hunter left for Georgia State.

The only real benefit to IUPUI’s arrival would be that once the agreement with Olympia Entertainment ends, the Horizon League can look into moving the men’s and women’s basketball tournament to Indianapolis, the conference’s home base. Then again, this could have already happened, but clearly Olympia’s pitch to have the tourney in Detroit was too great a pull.

Beyond hoops, the move throws an even bigger question mark on the Horizon League’s commitment to baseball. With Valparaiso out, the conference is now left with only six schools that sponsor the sport. And with no clear urgency on the Horizon League’s part to address that concern, fans of the remaining baseball teams are left to wonder if their school should be seeking an associate membership elsewhere.

After all of this, you have to wonder what’s in the cards for the Horizon League in the future. LeCrone’s idea of expansion still appears steadfast, but what schools would that include? Does he go west and invite Grand Canyon and New Mexico State? Or does he stick close and bring Robert Morris and Fort Wayne into the fold?

No matter what happens, fans are hoping than anything is better than the current situation.

E-mail Bob at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @bobmcdonald.

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2017 NCAA Tournament Notebook: The South – Where Everything is Fine

I’m back. I know it’s been a long time, but let’s get right into it. When Bob assigned me the South region of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, I thought it was a gift and you know what, it was. During the first two rounds (remember, play-in games aren’t part of the tournament), there were virtually no upsets in the South region. The closest call was either No. 12 Middle Tennessee (nee: MTSU) over No. 5 Minnesota or No. 10 Wichita State over No. 7 Dayton, but we all know that’s hogwash.

Any team beating a Big Ten team in this year’s tournament makes complete sense, but because anyone (me) who paid even a middling amount of interest knows the Big Ten was terrible in basketball this year. 1. So, if an undervalued Middle Tenn (we’ll just keep making their name shorter and shorter) beats an overvalued Richard Pitino (how long until he goes by Rick or Dick?) Golden Gopher team, then it isn’t much of an upset. I don’t think Vegas is necessarily the key to knowing exactly how every game will play out, but the sportsbooks said MT was 1.5-point favorite over Minnesota.

Seems about right.

The next “upset,” which, again, anyone with a brain knows is complete hogwash, was Wichita State over Dayton. Dayton is a good team, so let’s not knock them, but to even suggest that Wichita State was seeded properly might be as dumb as suggesting that Donald Trump has a chance to become…never mind. The Shockers entered that contest as 6.5 favorite and beat the Flyers by six, so maybe Vegas does know something about how this process should work?

Perhaps it would make more sense to have Vegas setup the brackets?

Round of 32


I mean my bracket doesn’t look anything like I think it should at this point, but the top four seeds all advanced to next weekend in Memphis which I guess is how it’s supposed to be. No. 8 Arkansas gave No. 1 North Carolina all it could handle until the pressure became too intense. The Razorbacks had a good season even if their performance versus Kentucky in the SEC Tournament was childish at best.

We will no longer ignore the elephant in the room, which was Wichita State and No. 2 Kentucky yesterday in Indianapolis. The game was great, in fact it was so good that it should have been played this weekend in Memphis, but again, because the people on the selection committee forgot how good the Shockers are, we watched that game yesterday.

I’m clearly in the corner that Wichita State was under-seeded and yes, they did lose yesterday and probably would have lost to Kentucky next week, but it seems to me that it makes the most sense to have the best teams playing each other later in the tournament so those games are watched by more people.

One very important side note about Wichita State: Lynn Marshall, the wife of Head Coach Gregg Marshall is apparently very animated during games. There’s a report she may have been extremely intoxicated. There is a picture of her (below) standing behind Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde yelling at screaming (not at him like all y’all do) but either in celebration or trying to help the refs get through a tough sequence. I don’t know if she was drunk or how animated she is or what exactly is going on, but that this made the national media should be worrisome to the higher-ups at Wichita State.

I understand fans will be fans and that’s perfectly alright, but the wife of the coach shouldn’t have facility security talking to her about her behavior or have media speculating about how sober she is or isn’t.

Can she have one or 10 beverages before the game? Absolutely. Should it be obvious and on display to everyone because she’s in the front row being louder than the cheerleaders? No, not at all.

How Bad Are the Tournament Officials?

Look, I officiate basketball and at one point in my life I thought I may have a chance to do it consistently at a higher level than high school. For several reasons, it didn’t work out and I have very few regrets about that, but I’ll say this: these tournament games and every game in the college ranks are hard games to officiate. Officials will miss calls and some will be very bad misses.

How those three men missed the goaltending in the Gonzaga/Northwestern game I’ll never understand, but I can say the conversation with NCAA Men’s Basketball National Coordinator JD Collins was not pleasant. I also cannot make an excuse for the amount of contact that have been “no-called” by officials this past weekend. It isn’t a good look. It isn’t what Collins wants to see happen in the tournament, because he has bosses too who are probably looking at all the news and reports and are saying how does this continue to happen?

Are there likely solutions that could make this easier or fix a lot of this? Yes. But consider this, and only this, you me and everyone at home has the luxury of HD televisions and we aren’t constantly in motion trying to get an angle on play or trying to officiate 10 men that are significantly faster and stronger than us.

As much as coaches complain about how they want younger officials, they then complain about how bad those younger officials are at communicating or how they don’t trust them. At the same time, the officials who have been around the longest aren’t nearly as good as they were 10, 15 or even 20 years earlier.

I don’t say any of that to make excuses for the number of bad calls we saw this weekend, but for every bad call we saw there were at least five or more that were correct or where people on Twitter had conflicting opinions. Block, charge, traveling…well, sure pick one…or pick nothing and play on. It’s a choice officials must make decisions in a split-second again without the luxury of replay or beer.

South Region Links:

How did he tip that in? Kennedy Meeks basket helps avert upset for UNC [Scott Fowler/Charlotte Observer]

Three-minute crash: Hogs black out with victory in sight [Bob Holt/Whole Hog Sports]

What’s next for Middle Tennessee’s 10 returning players? [Aldo Giovanni Amato/Daily News Journal]

Sweet 16 celebrated far and wide by former Butler coaches, players [David Woods/Indianapolis Star]

Bearcats can’t contain UCLA, out of tourney [Tom Groeschen/Cincinnati Enquirer]

UCLA to head to Sweet 16 after defeating Cincinnati 79-67 [Matt Cummings/Daily Bruin]

Kentucky ends Wichita State’s season with 65-62 second-round win [Paul Sullentrop/The Wichita Eagle]

Wichita State talked, Kentucky listened and the Wildcats advanced [Kyle Tucker/SEC Country]

I think that’s enough for now. Please check out the tournament notebooks from the other three regions as well as all our 2017 March Madness tournament coverage.

E-mail Damien at [email protected] or following him on Twitter @damiEnbowman.

  1. Yes, the Big Ten is STILL better in basketball than football. Fight me.

Jim Sterk’s Missouri Tiger Legacy will Ride on Kim Anderson’s Replacement

Kim Anderson is by all accounts a great guy. Unfortunately for both him and Missouri basketball, being a great guy doesn’t guarantee professional success. And a record of complete and total ineptitude is what Anderson and his coaching staff brought to Missouri.

I’m not going to pile additional negative criticism upon this all-around great guy. If you want to read my message of fire and brimstone in regards to Anderson, you can find those articles archived on Campus Pressbox.

[Merenbloom – Missouri Tiger Basketball: Kim Anderson Proves You Can’t Always Go Home]
[Merenbloom – An Athletic Director is a Gambler and Missouri AD Mack Rhoades is Rolling the Dice with Kim Anderson]

Jim Sterk hasn’t fired Anderson, yet. But most Missouri fans consider it only a matter of time. Sterk may consider it a matter of time as well considering the statement he made about the security of Anderson’s job status. Sterk isn’t upset with the state of the Missouri basketball. He’s disappointed.

The Missouri fan base and Sterk may see the glass of disappointment as half-empty, but not Anderson. No, Anderson sees it more as a glass of opportunity that is half-full. Anderson believes that his team “competed” in the non-conference.

“I know people probably don’t want to hear this, but, as you look back at the nonconference, certainly we didn’t accomplish what we would have liked to,” Anderson said. “But I think you could realistically say it wasn’t like we got blown out by 35 points every single game. I think we competed.”

Anderson is correct when saying his team never got blown out by 35 points. But Missouri also lost to North Carolina Central, Eastern Illinois and Lipsomb. All three of those so-called buy-games were home games for Missouri. Those are games that an SEC team wins. Those aren’t games that an SEC team merely competes in. Missouri has become the buy-game for other teams and that’s disappointing.

Writers at other websites won’t venture to guess who athletic director Jim Sterk will attempt to eventually replace Anderson with due to not knowing the budget for the job opening. I, on the other hand, won’t be scared away from suggesting four coaches who I believe would be worth considering.

In all honesty, I hesitate to throw this first name out there, but it has to be done. That’s right. I’m talking about Gregg Marshall. Yes, Missouri did (or didn’t) attempt to wine and dine the Wizard of Wichita State once before, but you know what they say – timing is everything. He’s still a coach worth calling. At least it’s worth calling his agent to gauge his interest. Wichita State pays him just over $3 million.

While that is a dump truck load of money, it shouldn’t scare Sterk away. Sure, when Frank Haith left Missouri, Mike Alden may have been reluctant to pay a basketball coach more than football coach Gary Pinkel. Pinkel achieved enough success at Missouri that some want a statue built for him. But now Barry Odom roams the Missouri sideline and it should be easy to pay a basketball coach more than a first-year head coach who just went 4-8.

This next coach could be a more realistic option and would offer a potential juicy side story. How about University of Washington coach Lorenzo Romar? I wouldn’t hate seeing Romar in black and gold. Romar established himself as an ace recruiter in Seattle. The coach has a track record of recruiting coast-to-coast and that includes securing a commitment from Columbia, Missouri native Michael Porter Jr.

Recruiting has never been Romar’s issue. Winning in the NCAA tournament is what’s been the thorn in Romar’s side. And that is what has him on the hot-seat. I believe Romar could make sense at Missouri because he would bring talent to Columbia. Talent is something that Missouri basketball has desperately lacked under Anderson. Once he enticed talented players to wear the Tiger uniform, there is no doubt in my mind that he would win in the SEC. Oh yeah. As for that potential juicy side story? If Romar is the coach to replace Anderson, the telling sign could be whether or not Porter Jr. signs his letter of intent at Washington.

My preference for Missouri basketball would be to lure a current, successful Division-I head coach to Columbia. But sometimes our lives don’t turn out the way we hoped for and we don’t get what we want (see the Kim Anderson hire). There has to be a backup plan that would still leave Missouri fans feeling comfortable. My preferred backup plan includes a less heralded head coach and an assistant coach.

How would Missouri fans feel about Chris Collins leading the charge at Mizzou Arena? For starters, get over the fact that he played at Duke. Not every former Duke assistant is going to sleep with a player’s girlfriend (allegedly) or snort cocaine in the Capital Grille bathroom (allegedly). Collins has been the head coach at Northwestern since 2013 and he’s turned that program into a winner. His Wildcat team won 20 games during the 2015-16 season. That was good enough for 9th place in the Big Ten. But come on. It’s the Big Ten, and unlike the SEC, there is quality basketball being played there.

Do you know who Ron Sanchez is? Probably not. Truth be told, I didn’t know who Ron Sanchez was prior to working on this article. But I’m now a fan of Ron Sanchez. Sanchez is currently an assistant coach at the University of Virginia. Prior to his job with the Cavaliers, he was one of Tony Bennett’s assistants while at Washington State. Here’s what I like about Sanchez. He has been a successful contributor to programs that don’t rely on blue-chip recruits. Sanchez is schooled in implementing a system and recruiting players who will fit into that system. For a school like Missouri that doesn’t have a track record of attracting high-profile recruits, a coach like Sanchez could do well in Columbia.

This isn’t a complete list of coaches who I would be happy seeing at Missouri, but these are four coaches who would give me the hope that Anderson has stripped out of the program. Other coaches who I would like to see considered are Mark Montgomery, Steve Masiello, and Jeff Boals.

There is one coach who would be a big, bold hire for Missouri. As I stated with Marshall, timing is everything and this candidate being a viable candidate would require perfect timing. The coach I am talking about is Fred Hoiberg. He was a terrific coach during his tenure at his alma mater, Iowa State. Hoiberg is in his second season with the Chicago Bulls and his seat grows hotter by the day in the Windy City. When talking with my friends who are Missouri basketball fans, I’ve professed my love for Hoiberg. He would be my top choice if available. Hoiberg’s availability would hinge on when the Bulls decide to cut The Mayor loose. If he is fired mid-season, Sterk needs to put the full-court press on hiring him.

Sterk has a monumental task in front of him. Missouri fans love having a winning football team but I believe what most Tiger fans desire is a winning basketball team. While the legacies of most Power 5 athletic directors ride on their head football coaching hires, Sterk’s legacy may ride on this basketball hire. No pressure, Jim. Just don’t screw it up.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

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Hoops in the Great White North: Canada’s College Basketball Landscape

This summer, Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall made headlines for flipping out after getting ejected from an exhibition game against McGill University and confronting the referees. The Shockers went on to win that game, but it wasn’t so much the contest that meant much (given it being the off-season for Wichita State) as much as it was another in a growing trend of NCAA schools traveling to Canada for summer trips.

As has been a tradition for many NCAA schools, teams, on occasion, travel overseas to face foreign foes. For the Shockers, however, a simple trip north of the border would suffice. And it should come as no surprise, as schools in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, Canada’s version of the NCAA, have proven to be worthy adversaries for their American counterparts.

Then again, American college basketball programs have routinely traveled to Canada to seek out the best talent. And this talent has translated into success in the NBA, as evidenced by, among others, Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson and, most prominently, Steve Nash.

In spite of the emigration of talent to the United States, basketball teams competing in the CIS have always welcomed schools up to their arenas for the summer not only to see the sites, but also to see how the NCAA school match up.

This was certainly true this past summer, as Wichita State, Morgan State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Stetson made the trek, among others. And one of the stops on the tour, naturally, had to be against the best that Canada has to offer.

And in this case, it was the defending CIS champion, Carleton University in Ottawa. For the Ravens, their dynasty in Canadian college basketball closely resembles that of UCLA in the 1960s and 1970s. Except Carleton, under the tutelage of Dave Smart since 1999, has won 11 of the last 13 national championships.

That includes last season, when Smart’s son, Rob, took the helm and won crown No. 11 as his father served on the Canadian national team’s coaching staff.

With Dave Smart back in charge, the Ravens tuned up with another set of American challengers, much as they had in 2015. And like last year, Carleton took all comers, splitting a pair of games against Baylor, besting Valparaiso and losing a 67-60 decision at the hands of Texas Tech.

2016, however, was a different story. The Ravens vanquished all of their American foes, which also included Division II St. Thomas Aquinas. In the marquee match-up of what’s dubbed the Can-Am Shootout, Carleton decimated the Shockers, 100-75, on the strength of 54.7 percent shooting and four Ravens in double digits.

Ironically, one of the stars of last year’s national championship team, who is also expected to play a significant role in Carleton’s title defense, is a player with a significant NCAA background. That’s Kaza Kajami-Keane, who was named Second Team All-Canadian. The Ajax, Ontario native returned home after stints with Illinois State and Cleveland State.

Even Grantland had to make a stop in Ottawa in 2014 to write about the Ravens’ dominance. It also helped that Carleton had, in the previous summer, provided a scare to Syracuse, led by eventual NBA lottery pick Michael Carter Williams and Canadian Tyler Ennis.

As impressive as the Ravens run has been, they weren’t even the top seed in the 2016 CIS Men’s Basketball Final 8. That honor when to Ryerson University in Toronto. And like Carleton, the Rams were led by an interim coach. And like Keane, the coach, Patrick Tatham, has roots in the NCAA, particularly Cleveland State, where he played four years.

With a 17-2 record in the 2015-16 season, Tatham not only guided Ryerson to the top seed, he garnered honors of his own by being awarded the Stuart W. Aberdeen Memorial Trophy for coach of the year.

Unfortunately, the Rams were bested, 98-87 by the University of Calgary, led by yet another player with a decidedly American influence. In fact, Thomas Cooper, a first-team All-Canadian last season, hails from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and made stops at the City College of San Francisco and NCAA Division II Nebraska-Kearney before heading to Alberta to play for the Dinos.

The No. 3 seed in last season’s Final 8 also had the country’s top player and top defense player. The University of Ottawa, whose colors, gray and garnet, are the origins of its nickname (The Gee-Gees), were led by CIS Player of the Year Michael L’Africain. The 6-1 guard capped his collegiate career with averaging 20.4 points per game.

His teammate, Caleb Agada, took home defensive player of the year honors. As the first Ottawa player to win the award, the 6-4 Agada pulled down 8.6 rebounds per game, and snatched 2.7 steal per year, and he will be looked on to lead the Gee-Gees this year.

Canadian college basketball does have some differences to the American game, though not as significant as, say the Canadian Football League’s rules versus the NFL. Canada follows along the lines of international rules as set forth by FIBA, which includes four quarters, as opposed to two halves for NCAA games.

Also, since the CIS adopted FIBA rules in 2006, the shot clock in Canada is similar to that of the NBA’s at 24 seconds, as opposed to the NCAA’s most-recently adopted 30-second shot clock. Also, the 6.75-meter (22.15 feet) three-point line is slightly further than the 20.75 feet the American collegiate arc is.

One interesting discussion made in certain circles in Canadian college sports is the potential for CIS teams to potentially make a move to the NCAA. This has been spurred by the fact that Simon Fraser University in British Columbia has been competing in Division II since 2007 and became the first international member school in 2012.

While a school like Carleton would potentially relish the competition the NCAA would have to offer, it appears that there’s no real path to Division I, which would likely be the Ravens’ desired path, as the costs and other requirement are rather prohibitive.

So, for Carleton and the schools of the CIS, they will continue to look forward to the competition that they can provide each other. And, of course, there will be the summer, when their American brethren arrive and see if they can hang with the best that Canada has to offer.

E-mail Bob at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @bobmcdonald.

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NCAA Tournament: South Region Round Two Notebook

The Second Round in the South Region brought the close of an era, as Wichita State’s brilliant four-year run ended at the hands of Miami.  There also would be no more magical Cinderella ride for Connecticut, as Kansas quickly disposed of what many hoped would be a third title run in the last six years for the Huskies.  After what took place the rest of the evening around the bracket on Sunday, the South turned out to be pretty standard procedure.

Hurricanes Avoid a Natural Disaster

Miami looked like it was going to blow away the Shockers in the opening game of the Second Round on Saturday.  This year’s rendition of Wichita State isn’t as talented as the 2013/14 squads that Greg Marshall sported and Miami was making it clear early on.  Credit the Shockers for being patient and not attempting to get the entire 21-point deficit back at once.  They slowly but surely worked their way back into the game.

Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet once again showed the calm leadership they have for four years.  They should be applauded for what they’ve done to force mid-major basketball into the collective consciousness of America.  On the flip side, give Miami its due for taking punch after punch from Wichita State, and holding on.  The Hurricanes looked like they were going to buckle under the pressure, but Angel Rodriguez was magical, and Sheldon McClellan made big shot on top of big shot.  Miami is in a good spot to last in this tournament.

Jayhawks’ Execution Puts UConn to Death

Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks appear to have taken past tournament failures to heart in their first two games, handling their business with relative ease to proceed to the Sweet 16.  Execution was the key against the Huskies.  From the jump, Kansas harassed the UConn guards on and off the ball, hounding them into mistakes.  Offensively, the Jayhawks methodically built a 22-point lead by running crisp sets, leading to clean looks at the basket.  Perry Ellis was his usual self, calmly navigating around the paint, and Wayne Selden did damage both inside and out.

UConn’s offense being restricted to the perimeter was sorely exposed by the Jayhawks.  As Kansas built the lead, the Huskies were typically relegated to getting only one shot on offense as Landen Lucas dominated the defensive boards.  A brief lull by the Jayhawks in the second half allowed UConn to creep within single digits, but there was no real threat of a comeback.  Kansas looks fine tuned to contend for the National Title.

Threes Better Than Twos for Nova

The pace was at full throttle right off the tip when Villanova and Iowa met on Sunday afternoon.  Iowa ran some excellent offensive sets leading to easy buckets.  But Villanova’s outside shooting quickly made the Hawkeyes chase a double-digit deficit and they simply couldn’t keep up.  By the time halftime rolled around, the Wildcats had extended to a 25-point lead, and cruised to the finish.  They shot nearly 60 percent for the game from the field, and better than 50 percent from the three-point arc, going 10-19.

Villanova was extremely physical and aggressive on defense, terrorizing the Hawkeyes into turnovers which led to immediate transition buckets.  This was exactly the type of game that Villanova wants to play, and a style which could beat anyone in the field.  The question as always for them will be whether they can continue to hit perimeter shots at an alarming rate.  If not, how will they generate offense?  Fortunately for the Wildcats, their next opponent Miami plays a very similar style.  Nova vs. Miami will be played at a break-neck pace when they meet up in the Sweet 16.

A Tale of Two Terrapins, Part 2

Sunday’s game between Maryland and Hawaii was eerily similar to the Terrapins’ First Round game with South Dakota State, only this time their better half showed up later rather than sooner.  Hawaii brought the fight right to Maryland in the first half, with Michael Thomas doing the majority of the damage for the Rainbows early.  The Terps struggled to find any real rhythm offensively, but were able to hold a slim lead at halftime, mainly by getting back to the basics, and leveraging Diamond Stone in the paint for easy buckets.

For a large portion of the second half, it looked as if this game would come down to the wire.  However, some of the careless mistakes that Hawaii made against Cal began to creep into this game.  The difference is Maryland made them pay.  The Terrapins went on a 14-0 run, powered by Rasheed Sulaimon, which essentially put the game away without much fanfare.  Once again, Maryland will need all of what they displayed in the second half, and very little of what we saw in the first half, if they’re to knock off Kansas in the Sweet 16.

While the South lacked the insanity which took place in both the East and West regions on Sunday night, it’s set up well for some outstanding Sweet 16 games, with legitimate contenders emerging from the pack.  Thursday and Friday can’t come fast enough.

Email Damon at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @DamonKnowsSports.

Image via Flick/Phil Roeder

NCAA Tournament: South Region Notebook

Day two of the NCAA Tournament proved to be even more insane than Day one.  The South Region didn’t enjoy quite the same level of Madness as the Midwest did with Michigan State losing, but the region still rounded out with plenty of excitement, and competitive spirit from the lower seeds.  Here’s a brief review of what we witnessed, and what may lie ahead on Saturday and Sunday.

The Huskies Are At It Again

We’ve seen this act from UConn twice in the last five years, but are they up to old tricks again?  After an underwhelming regular season, Kevin Ollie was able to push the Huskies through the AAC, and snag the automatic bid to the Dance.  For most of the first half on Thursday, it appeared that Colorado would quickly send UConn packing.  Not so fast.  Ollie made one major adjustment at halftime to turn the game around.

The Huskies packed into the lane on defense, surrounding the Buffaloes only weapon, John Scott.  The perimeter players for Colorado seemed unwilling to even consider shooting jump shots, and the Huskies seized control, forcing turnovers, and scoring in transition in order to seal the victory.  Kansas looked the part of the top overall seed, so they will likely end the Huskies march (pun intended); but we’ll see if UConn can recapture the magic of 2011 and 2014, for another improbable Final Four run.

Baker and Van Vleet Won’t Be Denied

I admit, I grossly underestimated the sheer will of Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet.  Despite the fact that I’ve been a huge fan of what Wichita State has done over the last four years, I didn’t think the supporting cast was good enough to allow the Shockers to enjoy another successful NCAA Tournament.  Baker and Van Vleet ensured that I was wrong.

The win of Vanderbilt was impressive, but not unexpected.  However, I truly thought that the material on the court that Arizona has, would simply be too much for this version of Wichita State.  The Shockers just flat-out wanted it more than the Wildcats on Thursday night, diving for every loose ball, launching themselves for balls going out-of-bounds, and playing every minute with intensity.

Although I had Zona making an Elite Eight run, there’s no arguing that Wichita State is a joy to watch, particularly Baker and Van Vleet; so I’ll be rooting for them to make this last hurrah a great one.

Just Short for the Second Straight Year

Last year, Buffalo was able to push West Virginia to the brink in the opening round, before falling 68-62.  The Bulls put forth another valiant effort this year, hanging with the No. 3 seed Miami Hurricanes the entire way, before ultimately succumbing to the pressure, 79-72.  It was a fairly business-like performance by the Hurricanes, who will need to come with their A-game when they take on Wichita State next, who have everything clicking right now.

Bathed in Rainbow Light

Hawaii pulled off the big upset of the South Region, leading pretty much from start to finish, in a 77-66 victory over No. 4 seed California.  This wasn’t a big surprise to me, as I picked Cal as my early exit in my bracket breakdown on Thursday.  Give the Golden Bears credit; they did battle despite several levels of adversity.  They lost Tyrone Wallace earlier in the week, Jabari Bird was banged up shortly before the game, and they’re dealing with some off the court issues.

Freshman Jaylen Brown was shaky from the start, quickly turning the ball over, and picking up an early offensive foul.  Brown was in foul trouble the entire way, and simply was awful in what may be his only NCAA Tournament game.  Fellow frosh Ivan Rabb was better, but struggled early to handle Hawaii’s star Stefan Jankovic; who showed off a variety of skills.

Hawaii was able to weather the storm despite Jankovic picking up his fourth foul with about 16 minutes to play in the game; and played well despite him sitting for about 12 minutes.  It’ll be interesting if Hawaii can clean up some of the silly mistakes they made.  If so, there’s no reason they can’t take out Maryland as well.

A Broken Play, a Bad Shot, and Nobody Boxed Out

Like almost every team in the country over the course of this season, Iowa looked great for parts of their game against Temple; and lost their minds in others.  After jumping out to a double-digit lead early in the first half, Iowa handed it back, and allowed the Owls to get within one point by halftime.  The Hawkeyes grabbed leads by a couple of possessions several times in the second half, but never seized it.  The near meltdown culminated with Anthony Clemmons foul on Quenton DeCosey, while he was shooting a three pointer with just 13 seconds to play, which forced OT.

With the game tied at 70, the Hawkeyes didn’t really run any semblance of an offensive set, and when Mike Gesell tossed a horrid shot at the rim, the Temple players were unable to box out Adam Woodbury, who dropped in the game winning bunny from point-blank range.  There was a lot of contention that there may have been a push-off by Woodbury on the final play, but hey, in that situation you’ve just got to be tougher.

The Hawkeyes will be hard pressed to dispatch another Big 5 team in Villanova next.  The Wildcats allowed UNC-Asheville to hang around for a bit, but got their three-point shooting going to end the first half, and never looked back.

A Tale of Two Terrapins

Maryland and South Dakota State wrapped up the South Region by early evening, but it wasn’t uneventful.  This game was a mirror image of what the Terrapins displayed throughout the season.  They had moments of brilliance, followed by some questionable decision-making, which almost led to their downfall.  For the vast majority of the game, we saw the good Terrapins.  They worked the ball inside-out with Diamond Stone, and Robert Carter.  Melo Trimble was taking distributing with aplomb, and Jake Layman was knocking down shots, creating the mismatches we all know he can.

Then with about six minutes to play, it all began to unravel.  The Jackrabbits started to find their range, and Maryland forgot what got them a huge lead.  Trimble picked up two really poor fouls within 45 seconds of each other, including a three point foul, which allowed George Marshall to bring the game within two points with a minute to play.

Fortunately for the Terps, Keaton Moffitt made the ill-advised decision to pick up his dribble in no-man’s land, and Rasheed Sulaimon sealed the victory with a steal and dunk.  Maryland better hope they show up with the squad which played for the first 34 minutes of the game; otherwise the Rainbows may get their second NCAA Tournament win in history.

We’re in store for a hell of a close to opening weekend, with Kansas and UConn going head-to-head; along with what should be an electric Wichita State/Miami tilt.  Maryland and Hawaii; and Iowa vs. Villanova will wrap up round two on Sunday.  The South Region is about to get wild.

Email damon at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @DamoKnowsSports.

Image via Wikipedia

NCAA Tournament: The Tuesday First Four Games

Tuesday night the Big Dance officially got underway with the first two play-in games. Fairleigh Dickinson played Florida Gulf Coast University in one game and Vanderbilt played Wichita State in the other. These four teams were looking to move forward in the tournament to have a date to play North Carolina and Arizona. Who survived and moved on?

Florida Gulf Coast/Fairleigh Dickinson

Fairleigh Dickinson took to the floor to play Florida Gulf Coast in a game played by teams deemed 16 seeds. From the beginning of the game, it was apparent that Florida Gulf Coast came to play. If Florida Gulf Coast sounds familiar, think back to 2013 when they had a group of players who were dunking all over the place. The phrase “Dunk City” was attributed to them back then, but this was not Dunk City.

The 2015-2016 version of FGCU controlled the boards and then simply blew past Fairleigh Dickinson. Florida Gulf Coast started off the game with a dunk, but then used a 23-6 run in the first 10 minutes of the game to open a huge 40-19 lead at halftime. This halftime lead could have been worse, but Florida Gulf Coast only shot 6-17 from the free throw line. Florida Gulf Coast shot 60% from the field and Fairleigh Dickinson couldn’t hit water if they were in a boat on Tuesday night.

Fairleigh Dickinson shot 33% from the field and their 19 points at halftime were the lowest output of the season. However, when you are not shooting well you at least want to play tough defense, so the game doesn’t get out of control for you. Fairleigh Dickinson couldn’t do that either as their team defense was very porous and made for a long night for them.

Marc-Eddy Norelia led Florida Gulf Coast with 20 points, Julian Debose and Christian Terrell both scored 14 points to help Norelia out for the Eagles. Demetris Morant also added 10 points for Florida Gulf Coast.

“Coach made the game plan and said we’re going to do what we’ve been doing, and it worked for us.” Said leading scorer Marc-Eddy Norelia.

The one thing that also was a positive for FGC was their inside game and the way they outmuscled Fairleigh Dickinson on the boards and that might be one thing they can hang their hat on for their upcoming game with North Carolina. The Eagles survive and move on, but do they get past the Tar Heels? Probably not, but it is the NCAA Tournament, so who really knows.

Wichita State/Vanderbilt

This was game between 11 seeds and the prize was a date with the Arizona Wildcats on Thursday night.

This game was ugly at the beginning, the officiating was being second guessed, and there was no game flow happening at all. Neither team was taking open shots that were in front of them. The flow of the game was rather choppy because of the missed shots and even the whistles the referees were blowing.

Due to these things happening, it was 30-30 at half time and the game was up in the air. What did the Shockers do? They relied on their experience.

Wichita State is a team that people recognize from past tournaments because of their runs deep into the tourney and that many of their players are not the “one and done” players. Players have experience that help in these situations when it comes down to crunch time and that proved to be the case on Tuesday night for the Wichita State Shockers.

The Shockers used a 16-0 run at the end of the first half that continued into the beginning of the second half to put some distance between themselves and Vanderbilt. However, Vanderbilt did make a run on the Shockers that brought them within two points at 50-48. As quickly as the Commodores got their wheels going, those same wheels came off just as quickly as Wichita State finished the game on a 20-2 run and held Vanderbilt scoreless in the final minutes of the game.

Senior point guard Fred VanVleet led the way for the Shockers with 14 points, seven assists, and only had one turnover. He was not going to let Vanderbilt end his college career on Tuesday night. He fought through an elbow to the side of the head that caused some bleeding and that pretty much sums up the type of player he is. He spoke on the experience that his team has and how that helped them in this game.

“We’ve been here before, we know how to act in these situations. Experience is very underrated in these scenarios.” VanVleet mentioned after the game.

In the end, the game came down to a team that had been there before and a team that had not. The Shockers moved on with 70-50 win and get to play Arizona on Thursday night. Don’t write off Wichita State in their game with Arizona because experience does count for something in the NCAA Tournament. Let’s see if it works for the Shockers on Thursday night.

Photo: google

The Road to Houston Starts in Dayton

Ah, can you smell it? March Madness is in the air! And what better way to start out the madness than in the best basketball town in America, Dayton, Ohio. Many can eye-roll at that statement all they want, but there’s a reason the NCAA picks University of Dayton Arena to open the tournament every year since 2011. UD Arena is a family-like, friendly atmosphere, exactly what the NCAA wants their image to be. Big enough to house 13,455, have a good seat no matter where you are, and have fairly priced food and a beer or two. Even if you can’t get a ticket, there are plenty of bars or restaurants down the road from the arena that are showing the games that you can go to. UD Arena will be packed Tuesday and Wednesday night, with both townees and out-of-townees alike. Daytonians love their basketball, so don’t be surprised to see many red sweater vests around UD Arena that night displaying their beloved Dayton Flyers logo. Dayton truly is the best place to open the tournament.

The first four always has a diverse group of teams from all around the country, so let’s take a deeper look at the match-ups, shall we?

11 Vanderbilt vs. 11 Wichita State

Two shockers (really just one, pun intended) to get into the tournament by most people, Vanderbilt and Wichita State is the first match-up of the two 11-seeds. The winner of this game will get Arizona on Thursday. Vanderbilt finished the season at 19-13, good for 3rd in the SEC. I had the Commodores in the tournament to begin with. They had sort of a disappointing season after being a preseason top 20 team. They score 73 points a game, but their defense can be stingy at times, allowing only 67 a game. Wichita State had a season full of injuries to start, but then won 12 in a row and then ended the season winning their last 6 before losing to Northern Iowa in the MVC tournament. The Shockers score around 73 a game, but to me it should be more with studs like Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet. WSU’s defense is 1st in the country allowing only 59 points a game. Usually that would be enough for this team to be a lock to win, but being in the Missouri Valley might not count for much.

Prediction:  This is a tricky game. Both teams are very similar on offense and defense. It’s going to be close. I got Wichita State winning a defensive battle by two, 68-66, moving on to play a very beatable Arizona team. Here’s your game to look at for one of these teams to make a long tourney run.

11 Michigan vs. 11 Tulsa

Woah. TULSA?! The universe was lightheaded after seeing Tulsa getting into the tournament. Most bracketologists did not even have them in the first four out. Michigan played themselves into the tournament by beating Indiana in the Big Ten tournament, but Tulsa? Craziness already in March. Let’s start with the clear favorite in Michigan. The Wolverines come into Dayton with a big win over IU, but then a crushing defeat from Purdue. It seems like this team either wins close or gets blown out. They score close to 74 points a game and give up 67 points a game, pretty average for any college basketball team. One stat that sticks out is that they average 32 rebounds a game, good for 326th in the country. Now…to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Tulsa is similar to its opponent, averaging 74 points a game, gives up about 69 a game, and is also terrible at rebounding, averaging 35 boards a game. Tulsa finished 3rd in the AAC and got blown out by a weak Memphis team in their conference tournament. The winner here plays a very good Notre Dame team that just beat Duke.

Prediction:  Both teams’ averages on offense and defense are similar, so to me, it comes down to who is the toughest down the stretch. Michigan just showed that against IU in the Big 10 tournament with the buzzer beating three. Tulsa got a beat-down by a bad Memphis team. Michigan wins this thing 72-64, and Monmouth trolls Tulsa on Twitter every day until next March.

A few quick notes about the 16-seed matchups

No one really does their research about the 16 seeds since none of them have ever beaten a 1-seed, so I’ll just add a few quick notes about the two games:

Holy Cross vs. Southern:  Holy Cross is the only team under .500 to make the tournament, which is a nice little story. Southern was a 16-seed a couple of years ago and almost upset 1-seeded Gonzaga. So if you are feeling really confident this year to pick a 16-seed to beat a 1-seed, Southern might be the way to go. The winner plays Oregon, which was a surprising 1-seed to most people. Hmmmm…

Florida Gulf Coast vs. Farleigh Dickinson:  Dunk City is back. Florida Gulf Coast shocked the world in beating Georgetown as a 15-seed back in 2013. Farleigh Dickinson won their conference tourney as a 2-seed and finished their season at 18-14. FGCU is fun and exciting, so I would go with them I guess. The winner gets North Carolina. Have fun with that one.

Why should we care about the First Four?

So this is fun and all, but why should anyone watch or even care about the First Four? Do any of these teams actually matter in the big scheme of things? Well, I will tell you what, since the First Four was started in 2011, no team has won a national championship, but there have been some great runs. In fact, every year since the event started in Dayton, a First Four team has advanced to at least the third round of the tournament. That’s pretty good for a bubble team that barely squeaked into the tournament. Let’s recall those successful First Four teams:

Last year, my hometown Dayton Flyers cause a controversy playing in the First Four on their home court as the away team, not that it helped Boise State or anything. Dayton won as an 11-seed and marched right into Columbus to upset 6-seeded Providence. They eventually lost in the third round to Oklahoma, but they put up a pretty good fight. In 2014, Tennessee made it to the Sweet 16 as an 11-seed by beating Iowa, 6-seeded UMass, and 14-seeded Mercer (remember when that team ate your bracket by shocking Duke?). In 2013, another A-10 team in La Salle played in as a 13-seed and eventually made it to the Sweet 16 as well by beating the likes of Boise State (rough time for the Broncos in this event), Kansas State, and Ole Miss (and they say that the A-10 is a weak conference). 2012 saw 12-seed South Florida beat Cal and Temple to reach the third round. And finally, 2011 was the best Cinderella from the First Four yet, with 11-seeded VCU riding its victory over USC to wins over Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State, and 1-seeded Kansas all the way to the Final Four. The Rams are in the A-10 now, so the conference inherits that Final Four appearance right?

So why should we care about these games? Well, the four 16-seeds are nothing to make noise about, but the other 11 seeds are something to be curious about. Out of the four spoiler teams, one of them is going to ruin your bracket. And what’s nice about the ESPN Tournament Challenge (assuming that’s what most people use), you can change your tournament choice depending on who wins their First Four game. If I were you, I would be watching those marquee match-ups to see which team is going to upset their second round game.

It’s going to happen, people. Prepare for it while you still can.

Photo taken by Chris Pyle

Stats from ESPN.com

NCAA Tournament: South Region Preview

The South Region certainly has a number of the household names when it comes to College Basketball programs.  However, scanning the group from top to bottom, it doesn’t appear that anything is going to come easy in this part of the bracket.

Path of Much Resistance

Outside of top seeded Kansas, who should be able to navigate fairly easily through the first couple of rounds into the Sweet 16, there could be some serious bumps for the rest of the region.  Maryland, Villanova, and even Iowa spent a portion of the season ranked among the elite.  While Villanova was very close to plucking a top seed, they’re not typically built for tournament play.  UConn is at its old tricks again, underwhelming us during the regular season, only to become a thorn in everyone’s side in March.  I doubt they can make a deep run, but we’ve seen it too recently to completely dismiss them.  Arizona is another blue blood that had an up and down year, but has the talent on hand to cause problems.  And then there’s Miami.  The Hurricanes are a difficult team to trust, but Jim Larranaga has the ability to coach these guys up, and has made a run before.  The South could become a mosh pit with these squads tripping over each other on the way to the Regional Final.

Can Maryland recapture their Mojo?

As I mentioned, for a portion of the season, the Terrapins were considered to be right up there among the elite teams.  Mark Turgeon is a strong coach, and for much of the season, looked ready to ride this talented bunch straight to the Final Four.  However the stretch run was less than stellar, going 5-5 over their last 10 games.  Can they get back to early season form?  The talent is there, but can they put it together?  The Terps are one of the more balanced teams in College Basketball.  Melo Trimble is one of the best point guards in the country, and his running mate Rasheed Sulaimon is experienced and provides additional scoring.  They also have a ton of size up front with Robert Carter, Diamond Stone, and Damonte Dodd.  Carter and Stone are capable post scorers, and hit the glass.  Then there’s the X-factor in Jake Layman, who at 6-9 can stretch the defense on the perimeter, or contribute on the interior as well.  Maryland better show up with their best to avoid an early upset.  If they do, watch out.

Ghosts of Tournaments past Haunt Villanova

Despite the fact that Jay Wright has brought an awful lot of success to Villanova since he arrived in 2001, the Wildcats never seem to live up to their full expectations.  Part of the reason is that Wright’s style of play lends itself to winning a ton of regular season games; but not necessarily for the grind of the three-week tournament.  Nova is always perimeter heavy, so if they get cold from the field, they can be gone in the blink of an eye.  Last year they got out muscled by the big frontcourt of North Carolina State.  That tends to be the other major issue for Villanova.  The perimeter players are wrapped around one big – Daniel Ochefu this year – and when they run into a team with a powerful, skilled frontcourt, they struggle.  Fortunately their road doesn’t appear as fraught with danger early on, so they may be able to win a couple of games, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they don’t.

Will the Shockers make one more run from the Play-in Game?

It’s been a really fun couple of years for Wichita State.  As a big fan of the Missouri Valley Conference, and of Mid-majors getting their shot at glory, I’ve really appreciated what the Shockers have been doing since 2013.  This year they have to start in Dayton against Vanderbilt, a team who woefully underachieved.  Does Wichita State have one last gasp in them?  It’s hard to pick against them winning a couple of games with Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker in control.  Will this group pull it all together after an inconsistent year, with the possibility that this is also Greg Marshall’s last season on the bench at Wichita State?  If other schools are smart, it’s only a matter of time before one of the power conference schools gives Marshall the right offer.  This version of the Shockers definitely doesn’t have the talent around Baker and Van Vleet that they’ve had in the past.  But with so much parity in College Basketball this year, they may just have enough gas left in the tank for a valiant run.

Bulls, Jackrabbits and Rainbow Warriors

Who’s capable of pulling the big upset?  That’s a question everyone asks while filling out their bracket.  For all of the talk about College Basketball lacking an elite team, I have a feeling that we may have a chalk-laden bracket this season.  However, in the South Region, keep an eye on Buffalo, South Dakota State, and Hawaii.  Buffalo was in the Tourney last year, and pushed West Virginia to the brink before getting eliminated.  Much of that team returns, so the Bulls could certainly do the same to Miami this year.  South Dakota State has the right mix to be a dangerous tournament team.  The Jackrabbits love to shoot the three, have senior guards, and they have a presence on the interior in 6-9 Mike Daum.  A slow start from Maryland coupled with hot shooting, and the Jackrabbits could be a Cinderella.  Hawaii gets the benefit of being hidden away out west, where most of us never see them play all season.  Even their conference title game didn’t start until 11:30pm in the East.  Similar to the Jackrabbits, the Rainbow Warriors have that necessary mix of a veteran backcourt, coupled with a strong big man in Stefan Jankovic who puts up 15 ppg, along with 6 boards.  If you’re looking to take a shot in the dark on a double-digit seed, one of these may be your play.

The South Region will get started on Tuesday night with what should be the best of the First Four games between Wichita State and Vanderbilt.  In classic March Madness fashion, I suspect we’ll be in for a bumpy ride.  It’s going to be fun seeing how this Region starts to take shape after Thursday and Friday.  Let the games begin.

E-mail Damon at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @DamoKnowsSports.

Photo: laserbub/Flickr.

Six is the Magic Number

As a lifelong College hoops fanatic, I’m typically resistant to any significant changes to the rules. However, when the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel released the rule updates which were being put in place for 2015-16, it was the first time I can recall agreeing with the changes.

I had my concerns about reducing the shot clock, but 30 seconds is a sweet spot I can live with; and for years, I’ve been shouting to the rooftops to change the 10 second rule. The NCAA did the right thing, and no longer resets the 10 second count if the team in possession calls a time out while still in the back court. Those were the two most significant adjustments to the actual game play; and two months into the season, college basketball is largely unchanged, with some nice enhancements via the rule modifications.

Despite the improvements brought about due to this year’s updates, the one rule change which should have been pushed to the front of the line was to increase personal fouls from five to six. Now, that was proposed, and is in experiment mode to some extent this coming post season; however, it won’t be in play come NCAA Tournament time. Giving players a little bit longer leash would have been a major upgrade to college hoops, and I’ll tell you why.

Across the sports landscape these days, officiating is under heavy fire. Whether it’s college or pro, football, basketball, baseball, you name it; officials in every sport are, let’s just say, not very well liked. Of course it’s not always warranted, but college basketball has its fair share of really poor referees. And more than any other sport, college hoops seems to have more officials, who inject themselves into the game, and think they’re part of the show.

What does any of this have to do with adding a sixth personal foul? It has everything to do with it. Allowing each player an additional personal foul will reduce the impact the officials have on the outcome of the game. I’m not suggesting that by adding that sixth foul, poor officiating shouldn’t be addressed. However, you can’t very well discipline a bad official during the game. So let’s clip their claws a bit.

Scaling back the damage caused by quick whistles will do wonders for the game and the viewers. Even on nights when the refs want to impose their will on both teams, guys who normally would need to sit on the bench for the last 10-15 minutes of the first half, will now have new life. While the constant stoppages will still be annoying, at least the fan favorites will still be on the floor.
That brings me to my next point.

College basketball has a popularity problem, particularly during the regular season. So let’s keep the stars on the floor. There isn’t nearly the amount of true “stars” in college hoops, as there were in decades past. Many teams are carried by one or two strong players, with a bunch of role players around them.

Take the Providence Friars as an example. Last week, Kris Dunn got two first half fouls against Butler. The inability to keep him on the floor, led to a 12 point deficit. While they were able to climb out of it, and ultimately win the game, his absence put them in peril. Dunn needs to be on the floor producing highlight reels, not walking on egg shells trying to avoid picking up number three.

More and more college freshmen are hanging around for one year, until they bolt for the NBA. With such limited opportunity to watch these rising stars play, we need to reduce the possibility of having them saddled with early fouls, planted to the pine.

Ben Simmons is one of the most hyped freshmen in recent history. Given that his LSU Tigers squad has been underwhelming thus far, there’s a distinct possibility America won’t see him in the Big Dance. In the meantime, we run the risk of flipping over to the rare, nationally televised LSU game, and having Simmons nowhere to be found if he gets slapped with a couple early fouls. College ball needs the stars and future stars out there showing off their talents.

A while back, my esteemed colleague Hollis Mclain III wrote a piece explaining how the new rules would narrow the gap between the haves and have-nots. You can check that out here after you finish this post. I personally disagree, and feel that by and large we won’t see much difference than we have in recent years. However, I do believe that adding a sixth personal foul will actually widen the gap; and that’s a good thing. Allow me to explain.

As I stated earlier, by adding another personal foul to each player’s arsenal, we’re drawing power away from the referees; and keeping the best players on the floor for longer periods of time. Over time, the cream will rise. More skill and physical talent will eventually wear down lesser opponents. It will also provide the viewing audience with a better basketball experience.
This won’t be as evident during the regular season, though it will certainly have an impact. Come March, when the games are being played on the biggest stage, that’s when it will really show. Rather than having a top seed sweating it out against some double-digit nightmare because their best player picked up two quick ones, coaches will be able to keep their stars in the game, thus avoiding the scare.

Look, I’m all for the VCUs, Wichita States, and Butlers of the world making a deep tournament run. I enjoy watching a 14 or 15 seed pull off a stunner. However, when we get down to the Elite Eight, and the Final Four; it’s time for the little guys to go, and let the big boys play. This rule change would increase the likelihood that as the NCAA Tournament progresses; the top teams have their best players at their disposal, allowing the tournament to take proper shape.

I love college basketball above any other sport, and I certainly don’t want to see it mirror the NBA game. But adopting the six personal foul rule permanently, like the NBA, is the right move. Ultimately I believe it will be put in play. Since it wasn’t done this year, it needs to be done sooner rather than later, for the good of the game.

Photo: ATrumbly/Flickr