Tsuj’s Ten: College basketball, 2/20
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • February 20, 2012 @ 1:19pm
With the ESPN BracketBuster games held this past weekend, three of the Big 4 college basketball teams had a chance to test their mettle against similarly ranked non-conference opponents. The University at Buffalo Bulls got spanked by South Dakota State and Niagara was creamed by Vermont, while the Canisius Griffins earned the only local BracketBuster victory with a win over University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). St. Bonaventure, a member of the Atlantic-10, is not deemed a mid-major school.
George Washington: I’ve already detailed the UB vs. South Dakota State game, and it’s time to turn the page and move on for Bulls fans. The exhausting BracketBuster trip was not worth it for Buffalo, especially considering the delays the teams faced on Sunday. Initially scheduled to depart Brookings at 6 a.m., here’s Zach Filzen’s series of ensuing tweets.
John Adams: Fifteen hours in airports or on flights is draining—there’s no question. The debacle of a basketball game and traveling troubles come at the most inopportune time—the Bulls’ road-weary legs will be tested at home against the Ohio Bobcats Wednesday (7 p.m.). Ohio and Buffalo are two of three teams—Kent State being the other—in the scrum for second place in the MAC, a position that earns a first and second round bye in the conference tournament.
Thomas Jefferson: Akron (11-1) holds a two-game advantage over the rest of the division; Kent State and Buffalo sit at 9-3 with the Bobcats clawing closely behind at 8-4. Eastern Michigan holds the West’s best conference record at 6-6, which isn’t a threat to any of the top three tournament seeds at this point. Unlike past years, the West winner is not guaranteed one of the two top seeds.
James Madison: Here are the current top four teams’ remaining opponents (with the previous result against this team in 2012 in brackets):
—Akron (11-1): Bowling Green (W), @Ohio (W), Buffalo (L), @Kent State (W). (3-1)
—Buffalo (9-3): Ohio (L), Miami (OH) (L), @Akron (W), Bowling Green (W). (2-2)
—Kent State (9-3): @Miami (OH) (W), @Bowling Green (W), Ohio (L), Akron (L). (2-2)
—Ohio (8-4): @Buffalo (W), Akron (L), @Kent State (W), @Miami (OH) (W). (2-2)
James Monroe: Considering how well the Bulls play at Alumni Arena, where they’re 10-1 this year, it’s encouraging to see that Buffalo is the only school in the race that has three of four remaining games at home. Hypothetically, let’s say all four of these teams hold their home court advantage through the rest of the regular season. Akron finishes 13-3, Buffalo closes 12-4, Kent State ends up 11-5 and Ohio sputters to 9-7—the Bulls would earn a bye to the semis, meaning they’d have to win two games in Cleveland rather than three. How crucial is it for Buffalo to beat Ohio at Alumni on Wednesday? You get the point.
John Quincy Adams: With Kent State losing to College of Charleston, Akron pummeled by Oral Roberts and UB slaughtered by South Dakota State, John Groce’s Bobcats are the only top MAC East team with a smile on its face after BracketBuster weekend. Ohio (RPI 91) crushed UNC-Asheville (RPI 123) in a rather lopsided match-up 81-62. Junior guard Walter Offutt broke out of a 4-24 funk with an efficient 8-10 shooting, 19-point performance, while D.J. Cooper added eight assists. The Bobcats frustrate opponents into turnovers—Groce’s team leads the MAC in both steals and turnover margin—and are willing to defend (3rd scoring defense in conference). UB lost 60-52 in the season’s first meeting when Ohio bounded out to a 12-0 lead and never trailed.
Andrew Jackson: Canisius shot 50% from the floor and never trailed in a 73-66 win over UMBC Saturday at the Koessler Athletic Center. Two Chase Plummer free throws brought UMBC, once down 21 points, back within three at 64-61 with 2:16 to play. Canisius guard Reggie Groves, back from academic suspension and knee trouble, tallied three points and assisted on a Josiah Heath lay-up in the final two minutes to preserve the win. Marial Dhal, the Griffins’ lone senior, started the game on Senior Day but failed to score in two minutes. Alshwan Hymes paced the Griffs with 23 points and five three-pointers.
Martin Van Buren: Niagara’s three-game winning streak came to a screeching halt against Vermont, as the Purple Eagles trailed by 23 at halftime and lost 92-70. Joe Mihalich’s club was victim of an NBA Jam-style three-point barrage by Catamounts’ freshman guard Four McGlynn, who hit six from beyond the arc to score 20 points in 21 minutes of play. Antoine Mason (20 points) and Malcolm Lemmons (17 points) had solid outings for Niagara, but Juan’ya Green, Ameen Tanksley and Marvin Jordan failed to have their usual impact. Vermont has won 10 straight.
William Henry Harrison: Having lost three of four A-10 games before hosting last-place Rhode Island Saturday, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies rode the torrid streak of senior forward Andrew Nicholson (32 points, 13 rebounds) to a comfortable 81-61 win. Read through The Buffalo News’ Bob DiCesare’s game-story. The Bonnies play three of their last four on the road, with a Feb. 29 date against St. Joe’s the final regular season game at the Reilly Center.
John Tyler: Even though ESPN’s Jay Bilas firmly believes that Wichita State is the country’s best mid-major team, Murray State put forth quite the argument in a convincing 65-51 win over undermanned St. Mary’s in the marquee BracketBuster clash. Racers’ point guard Isaiah Canaan (23 points) is a refreshingly good ball-handler—you don’t see many players around the country who can break down opponents off-the-dribble while remaining under control—and a sound finisher around the hoop. Edward Daniel sports an impressive afro, and Donte Poole hit several big shots in the first half. Depth will be the major concern for Murray State.
BONUS: One neat fact about the BracketBuster that bears some relevance:
Each team that participates in the Bracket Buster Saturday series any given year agrees to enter into a home-and-home series with its to-be-named opponent. The return game of each series is made in November or December in the season following the Bracket Buster Saturday game; this return game allows for the completion of the two-game series contract and is not part of the Bracket Buster Saturday event in that second year.
(Edit: UB will play against South Dakota State in the 2013-14 season at home. Buffalo will travel to Milwaukee in November or December 2012 in the return match-up for its 2010-11 BracketBuster. Sorry for the mix-up, and thanks to the Buffalo News’ Bob DiCesare for setting the record straight.)