Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:46 am

Today's Specials: Last chance for bubble teams?

Northwestern could really boost its at-large hopes with a home win over Ohio State on Wednesday. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

There are no top-25 matchups on Wednesday night, but there are plenty of opportunities to get marquee wins. Plus, conference tournaments. What more can you ask for?

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: Iowa State at No. 7 Missouri (8 p.m., ESPN3). If you’re looking for a couple of teams who do the most without having a lot of size, look no further. Both teams utilize four perimeter players most of the time, with Iowa State relying heavily on Royce White to make plays for himself and teammates and Missouri utilizing a lot of penetration and dishing. The key in this one will be Iowa State’s ability to keep Ricardo Ratliffe from getting a lot of easy baskets in the paint, and Missouri guarding Iowa State’s plethora of shooters.

Second-best game: No. 8 Marquette at Cincinnati (7 p.m., ESPN2). After Cincinnati’s late loss to South Florida on Sunday, the Bearcats still need to do some work in order to get an at-large bid. A home win over the top-10 Golden Eagles would certainly do the trick. Marquette is getting plenty of hype as a sleeper Final Four team, and the battle on the perimeter on Wednesday night should be fun. It will be interesting to see how Jae Crowder and Yancy Gates battle each other. Can Gates get out and guard Crowder on the perimeter? Can Crowder body up with Gates?

Another one to watch: No. 10 Ohio State at Northwestern (8:30 p.m., Big Ten Network). This is basically a must-win for Northwestern. The Wildcats missed out on its big chance last week against Michigan, and now need a marquee win for their ledger. Ohio State is reeling right now, having lost three of its last five games to drop to third place in the conference standings. Northwestern won’t be able to stop Jared Sullinger down low, but the Wildcats’ host of 3-point shooters – and John Shurna – could create problems at the other end.

Guaranteed win: New Mexico beat Air Force by 39 on the road the last time the two teams played. This time, the rematch is at The Pit (8 p.m., Mountain). The margin might not near 40 points again, but the Lobos should roll. Moreover, Texas-Arlington will look to stay undefeated in the Southland by hosting Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (8 p.m.). Corpus Christi is 5-23 on the season, and won’t pull the major upset.

Potential upset: Colorado State has ignited its at-large hopes on the strength of two big wins over San Diego State and New Mexico. Can the Rams complete the Mountain West trifecta with a win over No. 17 UNLV on Wednesday night (10 p.m.)? A victory would certainly put them in good shape heading into the conference tournament. To pull the upset, they need to slow down the game and defend the perimeter more effectively than they have recently. 

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Plenty of conference tournament action on Wednesday night. The Atlantic Sun, Patriot and Ohio Valley kick things off, while the Big South continues.
  2. Must-wins for bubblers: Saint Joseph’s at St. Bonaventure (7 p.m.); Dayton at Richmond (7 p.m.); Mississippi State at South Carolina (8 p.m., ESPN3); Miami (Fl.) at North Carolina State (9 p.m., ESPN3); Texas hosting Oklahoma (9 p.m., ESPN2). Alabama, Purdue and Southern Miss would also be smart not to lose.
  3. South Florida has a chance to get a big win for its resume on the road at No. 19 Louisville (7 p.m., ESPN3). 
More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 29, 2012 10:38 am
Edited on: February 29, 2012 10:44 am

Fall of the UCLA program detailed in new report

Under Ben Howland, the UCLA doctrines instilled under John Wooden have quickly deteriorated. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Players taking drugs, teammates fighting each other, an elite head coach losing control of his program.

The tales detailed by Sports Ilustrated’s George Dohrmann in his report on the fall of the UCLA program are eye-opening. With that said, we’re not looking at an NCAA investigation in the works, and, in fact, the reaction by most people is a simple raised eyebrow or two and a lack of surprise at the behavior. 

Dohrmann places most of the blame on the 2008 and 2009 recruiting classes, as well as the lack of control and discipline instilled by head coach Ben Howland. Once guys like Russell Westbrook, Jordan Farmer, Lorenzo Mata-Real, Josh Shipp and other players from the 2004 and 2005 recruiting classes left the program, the doctrines of “Wooden’s Pyramid of Success” – the UCLA way – quickly deteriorated with the younger players.

There was widespread drinking and drug use among the players in Westwood, including one story of three players going to a rave on New Year’s Eve – after specifically being asked not to go out – and using Ecstasy and partying until 5 a.m. Some of the players, according to Dorhmann, bragged about still feeling the effects of the drugs at practice the next morning.

Then there’s Reeves Nelson, of course. The heavily-tattoed power forward from Modesto, Calif. was supposed to bring toughness and other Howland philosophies to the table. Instead, he brought nothing but chaos and instability to the program. 

Some of the “highlights” of Nelson’s tenure with the Bruins, as laid-out by Dohrmann:

  • Urinating on Tyler Honeycutt’s clothes and flipping his bed over
  • Purposely pulling down on James Keefe’s left arm, which had just been repaired by surgery, and injuring Alex Schrempf’s back for several months with a hard foul
  • Berating Matt Carlino and calling him “concussion boy” to the point Carlino felt the need to transfer to BYU
  • Constantly talking back and yelling at assistant coaches
  • Fighting Mike Moser and Drew Gordon on multiple occasions

Howland clearly lost of control of his program with lack of discipline and involvement in the development of players. Dohrmann wrote that Howland doesn’t have much contact with his team outside of games and practices, and constantly talks down to his assistants. Howland didn’t punish Nelson for several of his actions and let him run amok until finally kicking him off the team on December 9.

It was only a few years ago that Howland steered UCLA to three consecutive Final Fours from 2006-2008. The Bruins have steadily gone downhill since then, missing the NCAA tournament in 2010 and likely sitting on the sideline for the Big Dance this year too.

While Dohrmann’s piece does not magnify a NCAA scandal, it certainly shows the respect and luster for Howland – and UCLA – lessening with each passing year.

Posted on: February 29, 2012 9:49 am
Edited on: February 29, 2012 10:07 am

What-to-know tourney previews: MAAC

The MAAC is back — only this year the tournament is in a faraway place. Springfield, Mass., to be exact. Why the league has chosen to hold its postseason tournament in a state where none of its teams reside is an answer so convoluted perhaps the NCAA has the best and only shot to interpret the meaning behind it.

No matter, the league this year boasts a team that has a lot of talent and potential to win a couple of games in the Big Bracket. That’s right, a couple. Iona, who is the No. 1 seed, is one of the most potent offensive teams in the nation. It averages 1.16 points per possession and 83.4 per game, No. 1 in the nation. With 19.5 assists per game, the Gaels are also the best passing team in basketball. That’s because Scott Machado is one of the five best point guards in the game.

Machado was one of our 30 best point guards prior to the season, but nobody knew he had this sort of impact left in him. Now he’s an NBA prospect. Machado, forward Mike Glover and Arizona transfer MoMo Jones provide a three-headed monster that’s rarely assembled in these ranks. The Gaels are really good, and they’ll only lose this tournament if their weak interior defense completely craters.  

If not the Gaels, who? Loyola (MD) finished 13-5 in the league, two games behind Iona. It did split the season series with the Gaels, and the Greyhounds are having some kind of special year. For the first time in their Division I history, the team got to 20 wins. It’s been D-I for 30 years. Incredible, and if Loyola made the Big Dance, it’d be just as great of a story as any other team out there. Loyola’s a great team on the O boards (39.3 percentage rate) and can swipe the ball (12.4 steal rate), but everything else they’re pretty average at, overall.

Fairfield (12-6) was the team meant to challenge Iona. It’s had a disappointing year. Point/combo guard Derek Needham is now done for the season with a bad wheel, so that’s one less weapon. The Stags are coached by first-year honcho Sydney Johnson, who led Princeton to the NCAAs last year in a dramatic playoff victory against Harvard. Getting to The Dance with this team would shock him just as much, I’d assume. Last year it was fourth-seeded St. Peter's that wound up getting the auto-bid, so Fairfield's got that going for it, which is nice.

Michael Glover and the Gaels should absolute win. (US PRESSWIRE)

And then there’s Manhattan, technically the three seed who also finished 12-6, who also has a first-year coach in Rick Pitino protégé Steve Masiello. The Jaspers were 6-25 last season; they went 20-11 this year. Incredible turnaround, but it feels like Masiello will need one more year to push through.

John Templon, who runs Big Apple Buckets, simulated the MAAC tournament 10,000 times with his bulky, not-available-in-stores Simulation System 6,000. Almost half the time, Iona won. Ironically, second-place Loyola came up the fourth-most likely team to win it all, with Manhattan, then Fairfield falling far behind the Gaels.

Return of the MAAC. (It is!)
Return of the MAAC (Come on!)
Return of the MAAC (Oh my God!)
Return of the MAAC (Here I am)



Schedule: March 2-5
Title game:
Monday, March 5, ESPN2.


  1. Scott Machado, Iona
  2. Michael Glover, Iona
  3. Rakim Sanders, Fairfield
  4. George Beamon, Manhattan
  5. OD Ansoike, Siena

Conference RPI: 22 rating: 20

Sagarin rating: 20

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: Iona (and barely at that)

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

  • Canisius Golden Griffins: 1996, 13 seed, lost first-round game to Utah, 72-43.
  • Fairfield Stags: 1997, 16 seed, lost first-round game to North Carolina, 82-74.
  • Iona Gaels: 2006, 13 seed, lost first-round game to LSU, 80-64.
  • Loyola (MD) Greyhounds: 1994, 15 seed, lost first-round game to Arizona, 81-55.
  • Manhattan Jaspers: 2004, 12 seed, won first-round game over Florida, 75-60. Lost second-round game to Wake Forest, 84-80.
  • Marist Red Foxes: 1987, 14 seed, lost first-round game to Pittsburgh, 93-68.
  • Niagara Purple Eagles: 2007, 16 seed, won opening-round game over Florida A&M, 77-69. Lost first-round game to Kansas, 107-67.
  • Rider Broncs: 1994, 15 seed, lost first-round game to Connecticut, 64-46.
  • Siena Saints: 2010, 13 seed, lost first-round game to Purdue, 72-64.
  • St. Peter's Peacocks: 2011, 14 seed, lost first-round game to Purdue, 65-43.

-- Matt Norlander

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 29, 2012 9:03 am

Wakeup Call: Carrier Classic leaves San Diego

Yes, those are bracket shorts. Yes, you need to buy me a pair. (Via)
By Matt Norlander

Our home base apparently doesn't know how to properly handle the dead. // This is painstakingly bittersweet. // Massive bracket of the greatest video games ever. // Ancient giant penguins discovered. // This was my favorite read from Tuesday ...

★ Brackets. Everywhere. As you can see, with the shorts there.

★ It's not yet known where the 2012 Carrier Classic will take place, but we do know San Diego is out, with a possible return there in 2013.

This Grantland post on the Big 5 is OK, but the real reason you need to check it out is due to Brandon Lilly's utter dismissal of Drexel. Then you read the comments.

★ Corey Schmidt does dedicated work toward understanding and analyzing college basketball better. If you're at all interested in the Summit League, give it a click and consider taking him up on his offer.

★ Jim Larranaga is no longer coaching at a small school, so now he is down-talking how good they are this season.

★ Read what it's like to be a Northwestern fan this week.

★ Any ideal guesses as to where Jared Swopshire is going to transfer to?

★ I very much enjoy the fact we still have one more year to enjoy Matthew Dellevedova playing college basketball.

★ Delly, by the way, is your WCC Player of the Year.

★ A different look at the remaining bubble battles left on the calendar.

★ Should Drexel make it into the tournament, here's more perspective on the team as it heads into the CAAs.

★ The best plays in Creighton basketball this year.

★ Good on Wyoming to put together its first 20-win season in nine years.

♬ I've been teased for primarily showing rock and indie-rock videos here, but that's definitely not the case. It's more that than most others, but there's been a bountiful selection of songs from outside those genres. I'm not a huge rap guy, but always get a kick out of talking to people who say they love Jay-Z ... then can't name a track off "Reasonable Doubt."

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:57 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 12:01 am

Day-Day can't do it all-all for MSU

Day-Day was the only one doing work-work Tuesday-Tuesday Night-Night. (Getty Images)
By Matt Norlander

Michigan State had this great play from Draymond Green, and other great plays from Draymond Green Tuesday night, but not much else in losing to Indiana, 70-55.

The Hoosiers and their crowd were ready. Everyone in hunter green who didn't have the name "GREEN" stitched to the back of their jersey was most definitely not. The Spartans' supporting case was basically a bunch of water boys, but we'll get to them in a second. The question in the aftermath of this game: Did MSU lose its chance at a one seed tonight? No. Beat Ohio State and win the Big Ten title and MSU is getting a one, I think, especially if UNC beats Duke Saturday, equaling out that season series between two top-seed seekers. Plenty of muck to clean up between the six teams flopping in the bowl fighting over those final two No. 1 spots. Still, MSU was done from the get-go against Indiana.

Take out Green and put in an average college basketball player and it's unlikely the Spartans put up 35 against IU -- that's how much Green meant tonight, and in a way acted as a microcosm for the Spartan's season so far. (Tomorrow on the blog we'll have a three-way comparison between Green, Anthony Davis and Thomas Robinson, to see who's the best Player of the Year candidate). Spartans not nicknamed Day-Day were 10-of-34 from the field and 2-of-7 on 3s. To balance it out, though, Green had six turnovers, which hurt, but he had the ball so much he became a focal point for MSU's offense and the obvious, magnetic target for Indiana's defense.

Everyone knew where the ball was going when MSU had it, and eventually the Spartans wore down because of it.

It wasn't just offensive problems. Indiana's Victor Oladipo was unguarded at times and made Indiana look Final Four-worthy (which I don't think IU is). The Hoosiers got a couple of huge 3s from Will Sheehey and Christian Watford late to pull away, but I was stunned by how the rest of MSU's team didn't show up, leading to the late lead by Indiana. A credit to Tom Crean's team for limiting the love-to-run Spartans, who had just four fast-break points from MSU.

Big picture: a lot of things broke down tonight, and we saw that Green can't make up for so many faulty parts.

And one final note on Indiana. I was at Assembly Hall almost two weeks ago. I wrote it then, and it gets emphasized on a night like this: No matter what happens in the NCAAs, this will be one of the most memorable seasons of Tom Crean's life. His team has beaten then-No. 1 Kentucky, then-No. 2 Ohio State and now-No. 5 Michigan State at home. Assembly Hall has always had an aura, but this year it's established a haunt that could have long-term effects of intimidation like you see Wisconsin, Michigan State, Duke and Kansas benefit from.
Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:27 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 12:07 am

Night Court: Jeffery Taylor crying wins the night

Taylor can't control himself as he walks off the flor. (AP)
By Matt Norlander

Here’s everything you need to know about Tuesday night’s slate of games …

Game of the Night: Vanderbilt had its Senior Night, and because of that we got one of those great moments. Commodores senior Jeffery Taylor was a leaky faucet when his time came for an ovation and a hesitated saunter off the Memorial Coliseum floor. He buried his head in his jersey to hide his outpouring of emotion -- but what a great scene. All the Vandy seniors got a nice moment of recognition before and after the game.

Vanderbilt defeated Florida, 77-67, earning themselves a nice win,and you know, it wouldn't shock me one bit if the 'Dores end up with a better seed than UF. The Gators are an erratic team that's missing a cog now that Will Yeguete is unavailable due to a fractured foot.

Win to brag about: Saint Louis trailed early but came back like a bull determined to gore the life out of a matador. The Billikens are now a lock as far as I'm concerned, winning over Xavier 70-59 and getting to 11 A10 wins.

Loss to hide from: How many times can we fit UConn into this box? On Saturday night, I wrote UConn needed three straight wins to feel good about its at-large chances. After falling 72-70 at Providence, that notion is only embellished. You know what the Huskies look like? A team that shows up and thinks it can talent its way to victories. That doesn't work, not on the road, and for Jiminy's sake, every team should realize that by January, let alone Feb. 28.

Home game against Pittsburgh to close out the season Saturday. Then an opening-round Big East tournament game against a DePaul or Providence on Tuesday. Then a Seton Hall or Cincinnati next Wednesday. Gotta win all three, UConn.

Player who deserves improper benefits: West Virginia faced a must-win against DePaul on Tuesday night if it wanted any chance at an at-large bid. Not surprisingly, the Mountaineers' Big East Player of the Year candidate came through in a major way. Kevin Jones totaled 22 points and 16 rebounds to lead West Virginia to a 92-75 win over the Blue Demons. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention teammate Truck Bryant and his 28 points, though.

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Tu Holloway. Four points on 1-of-6 shooting in a real disappearing act for Xavier. Holloway also contributed a team-high three turnovers. Xavier's going to the NIT unless it wins the A10 tournament, most likely. But this has always felt like a team with an on/off switch. I wouldn't be shocked if it won the league tourney title relatively easily.

Numbers don't lie

  • UConn is 23-30 in its last 53 Big East games. Shockingly bad for a team with two Final Fours in its last three tournament appearances.

Three other games of note:

  1. In what amounted to the game of the most impact Tuesday night, Montana knocked off Weber State 66-51, meaning Montana won the Big Sky. Weber State will be the No. 2 seed in the league tournament, and there's a good chance the nation's most potent scorer, Damian Lillard, won't make the NCAAs. Montana's a very fun team, though. Either one would rep the Big Sky well, Lillard just has more appeal.
  2. Don't lose the ones you shouldn't lose on the road and your seed doesn't take a hit. Kansas State 76, Texas A&M 70.
  3. You always have to seek out the Wisconsin score this season, just to make sure Bucky doesn't blow one it shouldn't. That didn't happen Tuesday night. Wisconsin 52, Minnesota 45.

Teams whose season ended tonight:

-- Wright State (70-52 loss to Butler).
-- Illnois-Chicago
(68-55 loss to UW-Milwaukee).
-- Green Bay
(77-60 loss to Youngstown State).
-- Loyola (IL)
(80-71 loss to Detroit).


  • Reggie Johnson has been reinstated at Miami. He and his family will have to repay the illegal benefits for travel, but he's good to go for the 'Canes game against N.C. State Wednesday night.
  • Antonio Barton broke his foot in Memphis' win over Central Florida.
  • Since it is a leap year, March does not start tomorrow. I'm just as eager as you for it to get here, but we'll have to soldier through for one more day before the best month of the year arrives.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 28, 2012 5:15 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 10:37 am

What-to-know tourney previews: The NEC

The Northeast squads can push it. Averaging 67.9 possessions per game (that stat according to, the NEC was the third-fastest league in the nation. Collectively, what does it not do well? Block shots and hit 3s. So lot of run-and-gun, layups and mid-range jumpers should come about in the three-tiered, eight-team bracket play that begins Thursday night.

Long Island-Brooklyn is your head honcho. It finished 16-2 in the league, 22-8 overall and is the defending champ. It made its first NCAA tournament appearance in 14 years last season, and with most everyone back, the team looks even better. It boasts league POY Julian Boyd, a multi-faceted big who’s an adept ball-handler that averaged 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He had 13 double-doubles this season and became the first Blackbird in 23 years to grab 20 boards in a game.

Beyond Boyd, Jamale Olasewere — fellow First-Teamer in the NEC — is a tough matchup problem. Toss in compact, fearless point guard Jason Brickman, who averages 7.1 assists per game (No. 5 in the country), and it’s tough to see why LIU-Brooklyn won’t win this thing two years straight.

The biggest competition comes from media darling Wagner. The Seahawks finished one game behind the Blackbirds in the standings. They are coached by Danny Hurley, brother of famous Duke guard Bobby Hurley, who’s also on staff. Many things have been written about this team’s resurgence. Danny is in just his second season there and already the team gets to a 24-5 regular-season record. In 2010, this was a 5-26 team. The Seahawks are a very aggressive team; they force a turnover one out of every four possessions. If Wagner makes it to the NCAAs, I promise you it will be one of the two biggest non-major conference storylines leading up to the opening weekend.

Julian Boyd and the Blackbirds want back-to-back appearances in the NCAAs for No. 1 LIU-Brooklyn. (AP)

Ironically, Danny Hurley didn’t win the league’s Coach of the Year award despite winning 15 games. St. Franics (NY) Glenn Braica earned the Jim Phelan Coach of the Year trophy. His team finished fourth after getting picked 11th in the preseason.

In the 3 spot is Robert Morris, a group that’s played extremely well all season and really cannot be ignored at all. Bob Morris represented the league in recent years and is the best offensive-rebounding team in the NEC. It also plays defense as well as Wagner. What it lacks: reliable shooting.

One last thing: this was how LIU-Brooklyn won the NEC title last year. What an atmosphere. If seeding holds, I’ll be back there again to witness it.



Schedule: March 1, 4, 7
Title game:
Wednesday, March 7, ESPN2.


  1. Julian Boyd, Long Island-Brooklyn
  2. Jamal Olasewere, Long Island-Brooklyn
  3. Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart
  4. Ken Horton, Central Connecticut
  5. Velton Jones, Robert Morris

Conference RPI: 24 rating: 26

Sagarin rating: 27

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

  • Bryant: N/A
  • Central Connecticut State: 2007, 16 seed, a 78-57 loss to Ohio State
  • Fairliegh Dickinson: 2005, 16 seed, a 67-55 loss to Illinois
  • Long Island Blackbirds: 2011, 15 seed, lost 102-87 to North Carolina
  • Monmouth Hawks: 2006, 16 seed, won opening-round game over Hampton, 71-49, lost in first round to Villanova, 58-45
  • Mt. Saint Mary's Mountaineers: 2008, 16 seed, won opening-round game over Coppin State, 69-60, lost in first round to North Carolina, 113-74
  • Quinnipiac Bobcats: N/A
  • Robert Morris Colonials: 2010, 15 seed, lost 73-70 to Villanova
  • Sacred Heart Pioneers: N/A
  • St. Francis (NY) Terriers: N/A
  • St. Francis (PA) Red Flash: 1991, 15 seed, a 93-80 loss to Arizona
  • Wagner Seahawks: 2003, 15 seed, an 87-61 loss to Pittsburgh

-- Matt Norlander

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 28, 2012 4:40 pm

Tyshawn Taylor raves about McLemore, Traylor

By Jeff Goodman

Just imagine if this Kansas team had Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor.

Both players were declared ineligible by the NCAA prior to the start of the season, but Jayhawks senior guard Tyshawn Taylor had strong praise for the duo. 

"He's for sure a pro," Taylor said this afternoon on SiriusXM's Inside College Basketball regarding the 6-foot-5 McLemore. "He's got the most upside of any good on the team right now. He's young, is long and is the best athlete in terms of getting off the floor." 

Kansas coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks staff all agree about McLemore, a St. Louis native, and his potential. 

Traylor is a junkyard dog type who would help give the Jayhawks another productive and much-needed body up front. 

"He's like a 6-foot-7 T-Rob," Taylor said while comparing him to KU star Thomas Robinson. "He's strong, real athletic and is a beast from Chicago. He plays hard every possession." 

While both players aren't eligible this season -- and Bill Self is instead forced to use former walk-ons Conner Teahan and Justin Wesley off the bench -- this bodes well for next season once Taylor and Thomas Robinson (in all likelihood) depart. 

The Jayhawks will have more quality depth and more overall pieces with returning starters Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Jeff Withey, McLemore and Traylor and a freshman class that includes forward Perry Ellis, wing Andrew White and solid (likely four-year) bigs Landen Lucas and Zach Peters. 

That doesn't sound all that intimidating, but neither did this year's team -- and last I checked the Jayhawks were 25-5, wrapped up the Big 12 regular-season title and are battling for a No. 1 overall seed. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or