Albany survives frantic comeback attempt and T.J. Warren goes off for North Carolina State

The “First Four”, aka the ‘play-in’ games/substandard games took place in Dayton, Ohio (in which Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com equated the crowd to a “junior high school gym”) for the first of two nights.

In game one, Albany had this game in the bag pretty much when they led 21 to 2 (that is not a misprint).  That took about 8:28 off the first half clock.  But inexplicably, faster than you can say, “I wish every court surface during the Big Dance did not have all black baselines with blue lettering saying the name of the city and the name of the arena over 94 feet away like we reside in Great Britain”, the Mount made an incredible comeback–ala what BYU did in front of both President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron last year.  The game was tied at 23 and mostly went back-and-forth until three native Australians led the final push.

But it was the missed shot by one-time miracle man Rashad Whack that nearly blew the roof off of Dayton Arena.  His attempt at a potential game-leading three pointer curled four times off the rim before bouncing out on the left side.  TruTV replays above the rim further confirmed this point to show how close it really came.  In the end, Albany won the game at the free-throw line with the final count being 71-64.  All 5 starters scored for the Great Danes, nobody scored a point off the bench.  For Mount St. Mary’s, they were outrebounded 42 to 23, edge in spite of only shooting 22 of 60 for a meager 36.7 percent.

Next up for the Great Danes, the overall number 1 seed in Florida on Friday afternoon.

How will they survive in The Swamp?  I predict it will be over in the first seven to eight minutes.

As for the other game, T.J. Warren got it right.  In 2013, his Wolfpack came up short during their play-in game in losing to Temple 76-72.  16 of Warren’s 25 points came in the second half and Xavier simply looked dazed and confused as the Wolfpack won going away, 74-59.  The telling stat from this game was that North Carolina State did way better from the field, 29 of 53 for nearly 55 percent while Xavier mostly shot up bricks, going only 23 of 55 for 41.8 percent.

Their next game will be also in the same Orlando Pod, but they will be playing the 5th seed of St. Louis on Thursday night.

The final ‘play-in’ games for 2014 (thank goodness) will be on Wednesday:

The worst record in Cal Poly from the Big West Conference makes their NCAA Tournament debut in front of a few dozen fans when they take on the SWAC Champions of Texas Southern.

Then, Iowa–a true Jekyll and Hyde team most of the year in the rough Big Ten will tackle Bruce Pearl’s former team in Tennessee.

Speaking of which, the 54 year old former Vols Coach Pearl on Tuesday signed a deal to become the new coach at Auburn amidst his punishment as it begins to wind down (hopefully great news for the brother-in-law of Fox Business anchor Liz Claman):

As you might recall, Bruce Pearl was fired on March 21, 2011, because he committed recruiting violations, and more damaging, he lied to NCAA investigators about those violations and asked other assistants and key personnel that were being investigated in the case to do the same.

This led the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to slam Pearl with a show-cause penalty lasting three full calendar years.

According to the NCAA, the only statement that circulated online was the following:

“Since this hiring was announced before [Aug. 23, 2014], Auburn and Pearl will have to file a report with the COI within 30 days of his hiring agreeing to prohibit Pearl from recruiting until August 23 (or contest the restrictions).”

This means Pearl will not be able to recruit nor go on the road during the busy recruiting period during spring and summer.  Hopefully, there will be a resolution in this mess a few days after Americans file their annual income taxes.

Bottom line–Same tip times, same channel in TruTV on Wednesday.  Small recap will follow after both games have concluded.  Good night.

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