Arizona wins first Maui title since 2000 in hard fought affair

An early battle of unbeatens, as both Arizona and San Diego State put their 6-0 records on the line late Wednesday night/Wednesday afternoon in Hawaii.

Neither team gave into the other.  The Aztecs raced to an early 16-11 lead, thanks to a trey by Dwayne Polee II.  Arizona got back on track late in the first half with Trey York, Gabe York, and Winston Shepard making huge plays–especially in the rebounding department.  The Wildcats led by the slimmest of margins at 32-31 going into halftime.
The second half had the lead changing hands five times in the first 12 minutes and 12 seconds.  Arizona finally wrestled control late in the contest, sealing things up at the foul line in the final seconds.  However, San Diego State managed to make things very interesting in the final 17 seconds.  Sandwiched between a pair of free throws by JJ O’Brien, Trey Kell converted a rare four-point play and Shepard nailed a 3 with less than a second left, but it wasn’t enough to complete the comeback for the Aztecs.  The final score was 61-59, simply a great game worthy of being included in the history of this great tournament.

Other noteworthy news…

Rick Pitino won his 700th career game as Louisville struggled to get past Cleveland State 45-33.  The Cardinals ended up shooting 15 of 47 for only 32 percent and only converted 12 of 26 from the charity stripe.  The Vikings fared far worse, going at a paltry 13 of 52 clip for 25 percent even shooting.

Pitino becomes only the sixth coach in Division One history to win at least 700 games.  Coach K from Duke currently stands at 988 after another easy win for the Blue Devils against Furman, who definitely will take home the 2014 version of the Online Turkey Award from this blog reporter.

One guy was going in for a dunk, missed it from point blank range–then another guy scooped up the rebound and missed that shot completely too.

Oh well.  You win some, you lose some.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.
If any other key upsets happen over the long holiday weekend, I will try my best to blog about it sometime during the back end of the weekend.

If form mostly holds outside of Butler in the Bahamas, I will blog again next week as another edition of the Big Ten/ACC and SEC/Big 12 Challenges are upon us.

Take care, and please try your best not to eat too much turkey.  Save some room for that delicious pumpkin pie.




Butler shocks North Carolina in quarters of Atlantis Tournament

We all thought the alma mater of one Michael Jeffrey Jordan would be a nice, relaxing trip to a prominet resort town somewhere off the Bahamas.

Someone forgot to tell Butler that.

By grabbing 29 of 55 potential offensive rebounds, the Bulldogs parlayed that to a stunning 74-66 victory.  Butler outscored the Tar Heels 42-31 in the second half as UNC loses for the second straight year in November to a mid-major school (last year was Belmont at the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill).  Butler will next get Oklahoma Thanksgiving afternoon (1 p.m. on ESPN just in case if you are not interested in the tripleheader of NFL football), who outdistanced UCLA in the other half of that bracket.

Elsewhere, BYU and Purdue had a nice back-and-forth affair for 5th place.  Purdue ended up winning on a last second layup with 1.8 seconds to play in overtime, as BYU has lost two overtime games in three days at Maui.

And snooze, Chaminade lost three games in a row yet again.


More to come later, as San Diego State and Arizona tussle for the title.

Arizona and San Diego State to meet for Maui Invitational title

Kansas State slugged things out and stood toe-to-toe with Arizona on Tuesday night.

Kaleb Tarczewski scored 18 points and Gabe York added 15, while freshman forward Stanley Johnson rose to the occasion after spending most of the second half riding the bench in foul trouble.  He force a key steal and hit three free throws in the final seconds, finishing with a double-double of 14 points and seven rebounds.

As for the second semifinal, it was no contest as San Diego State completely demolished Pittsburgh 74-57.  That final score was not indicative in any way how the game really was, because it was no contest from about 10 minutes on.

In other pre-holiday tournament action…

Maryland made an early statement winning the CBE Classic, 72-63 over previously unbeaten Iowa State.  The Terps were led in scoring by Dez Wells, who compiled 14 points and 9 rebounds.  However, Bryce Dejean-Jones had 17 points for the Cyclones and was the game’s high scorer albeit in a losing effort.

In other non-tournament games of note:
Harvard, Creighton, Syracuse, and Kentucky all won.

Well, Wednesday is Turkey Eve.  I hope to get the chance to briefly blog about the Maui Championship game, which I did predict on Tuesday afternoon.

The run-and-gun style of San Diego State against the deliberate offense of Arizona.  It promises to be fun.

If you are one of the over 46 million Americans hitting the road, I hope everyone has a very pleasant and safe Thanksgiving.

I am planning to blog about the important games, and I will try my best to squeeze in some time to give you an update.

Good night.  Sure hope that cranberry sauce does not come out too tart, ok?

San Diego State barely survives, while Indiana and VCU are upset

After a very light weekend in college basketball, Monday had some spine-tingling games.

Eastern Washington stunned Indiana at Assembly Hall, 88-86.

Villanova put on a shooting and defensive clinic in Brooklyn easily upending the Havoc defense of VCU by a 77-53 count.  Villanova led by only two, 32-30 at halftime.

Even more impressive and lopsided was Louisville easily dispatching Savannah State.  The score was a mind boggling 29-0 lead 15:58 into the contest, and 41-7 at the half.  According to STATS, Inc., the last time a team was shutout in the first half was Duke leading North Carolina by a converted touchdown 7-0 on February 24, 1979.  Khaleen Pinkett’s jumper with 83 seconds left in the half ending a shooting drought that encompassed 23 straight misses from the opening tap onward.

The final score, if you were curious to know was 87-26 and only three players on the Cardinals reached double figures for the night.

Maui continues to impress, even one quarterfinal went to double overtime

Purdue did not provide much effort against Kansas State to begin the 32nd annual Maui Invitational Tournament at the famed Lahaina Civic Center on the island of Maui.

The final was 88-79, even though the Boilermakers scored 55 in the second half to make the score a bit more respectable.

The second quarterfinal had Arizona toying with Missouri, 72-53 and Pitt had very few difficulties with the host school Chaminade winning 81-65.

But for those fans who might have missed out on the fourth game, it was an instant classic.  It did not end until 2:15 Eastern time, a respectable 9:15 p.m. in Hawaii.

San Diego State needed two overtimes to edge out a pesky BYU squad 92-87.  Senior Aqeel Quinn made the big play, recovering his own block shot and stepping out behind the three-point line for the deciding basket.

Give the Cougars a lot of credit for hanging tough.  A jumper converted by senior Tyler Haws gave BYU a brief 76-71 in the first extra stanza.  Even though BYU hit 13 of 30 from downtown, the Aztecs reeled off a 12-7 run to put the game away.

Rebounding really was a telling story in this game:

San Diego State won by double digits, 48-38 although BYU held a slight edge cleaning things up on the offensive glass 17-15.

San Diego State also missed nearly half of their free throws, going only 19 of 31 on the night.

Milestone win for popular coach

Monday’s victory put Steve Fisher in some very select company.  He is the latest NCAA coach to post his 500th career victory.  It was also his 316th win at the school, this after a few rather interesting years in coaching the Fab Five at Michigan way back in the day.  That win ties him with George Ziegenfuss for the all-time school record for coaching wins.

What to Watch For Tonight

The second semifinal might be more interesting than the first in Hawaii.  Expect Arizona to pretty much manhandle Kansas State in the first semifinal (both games on ESPN right after the weekly CFP rankings announcement).

Could a possible Arizona-San Diego State final match loom for Turkey Eve?
Not if Jaime Dixon and Pitt have something to say about it.

Future Maui tournament teams announced

Final nugget on this Tuesday before another full night of heaping hoops action had Maui announce, as is their custom–the 7 teams joining host school Chaminade for future Turkey Week tournaments on the Big Island.

The list includes the following schools:

2015:  Indiana, Kansas, UCLA, St. John’s (NY), Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, and UNLV.

2016:  UConn, Georgetown, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

See you later tonight, pending on if there are more upsets–then, I will try to update a few of those games early on in the evening.

Why the NCAA should not mess with Selection Sunday

Yes, I get why ESPN is milking this College Football Playoff thing.
It is way more entertaining than the BCS ever was.

I compare it to when CNBC dominated the financial channels during the 1990’s and early 2000’s.  Everyone was either a Jim Kramer or Maria Bartiromo fan.  But the hardcore fans also got some periodic and great insight from Liz Claman and Melissa Francis.  Fast forward a few years later, and a new business channel actually speaks out Main Street issues and not talking down to viewers in the Fox Business Network.

And guess who has two of the most popular shows during the business hours?  You guessed it, Liz Claman and Melissa Francis.  Yes, Maria Bartiromo even has her own two-hour gabfest every morning.

My point being regarding the NCAA talking about messing with success:

They have already messed it up, adding three additional “Opening Round” games.

If ESPN or CBS decided to take 30 minutes, let’s say on a Wednesday or Thursday night starting after the Super Bowl and revealing to the world your hypothetical 2, 3, and 4 seeds with the 5, 6, 7, and 8 as the cut-off line…

I bet not many people would watch.  I am usually too busy listening to great alternative/independent rock music at that hour.

Usually, there are games going on in most of the country at that hour.

The allure of Selection Sunday has always been the drama, “Who’s In?”  “Who’s Out”?  “Who will be the last 11 or 12 seed to sneak into Dayton?”

Having CBS set up live simultaneous remotes at nine different places makes this event must-see TV.  Seeing Greg Gumbel announce the seedings and the pairings hightens the dramas even more.

And then, we talk about it–who was snubbed, why was St. Louis last year a 5 seed instead of an 8, 9, or 10?  Why was Wichita State stuck in the “Region of Doom” with both Kentucky AND Louisville in the same side of the bracket?

Even in recent years, Sir Charles Barkley waxes poetic with Clark Kellogg.  My guess is when his time is up at Turner Sports, Sir Charles may be finally gearing up to either becoming the next great Senator from Alabama or possibly becoming a talk show host somewhere.  He would be good at it, no matter what topic he brings up.

Bottom line, the anticipation of the bubble teams is the central reason on why journalists and bloggers like me fantasize about the 68 teams that get in every March.  We love to talk about it just as much (if not more than) women discussing the latest trends in fashion…what shoes are the hottest in style entering the holiday season and what clothes would look great around the office and what could be the trendsetting outfits that could turn guy’s heads at a holiday party?

Besides, you wouldn’t want Joe Lunardi of ESPN or Jerry Palm of out of work, wouldn’t you?

Just saying.  Have a pleasant day and thanks for reading my blog.

Even without Doug McDermott, Creighton upends Oklahoma

Another mini-edition of Stock Up, Stock Down starting off this Thursday:

Creighton in front of their usual packed crowd of nearly 18,000 screaming fans stormed back from an 18 point deficit to stun Oklahoma 65-63.  The Sooners led by 12 at the half and appeared to have coasted to an easy win before the Bluejays made their big push in the final minutes to pull off the victory.

At the Puerto Rico Shootout:
Dayton used a last second tip with .9 seconds to go in upending Texas A&M 55-53 in a quarterfinal game.

This is why the early non-conference, intersectional games are so important to building an overall team’s resume.

And yes, many journalists and bloggers have been taking stabs at the NCAA if there is going to be a mini-selection (how about revealing teams 5 through 16?) show for ESPN or CBS (like they really need more sports programming, after seeing Jim Nantz nearly lose his voice a couple of times on a typical NFL Sunday–this after doing the Thursday night games since September 11 in their new combined prime-time package with the NFL Network).

My brief thoughts on why the NCAA should follow Popeye the Sailor’s logic from the 1930’s cartoon, “Leave Well Enough Alone” in my next blog.

In the meantime, please continue to pray for those millions of people affected around the Buffalo/Niagara region of Western New York as by the time this gargantuan blizzards ends over the weekend, upwards of 7 feet of snow would have fallen causing major headaches and travel nightmares.

I bet the Niagara women’s basketball team will be thinking long and hard about their next road trip after their recent 25 hour plus ordeal being stranded on I-90.  But that’s just me, and I have survived my share of blizzards dating back to 1979.

However, those were mostly tamer affairs in comparison to what just took place on Monday and Tuesday.

Niagara Women’s Basketball team gets rescued, everyone is safe

What a nice story to wake up to.

At around 4 a.m. Eastern time came a simple four word tweet.

Of course, everyone on the bus had to make a stop at the nearby police station to file the necessary paperwork.  One dramatic pic of the bus from WBKW, Eyewitness News Channel 7 shows clearly the unrelenting snow is simply jaw dropping:


Bottom line:

After nearly 25 hours being stranded, everyone is back on campus safe and sound!

You can add a different group to the list of heroes, as the Niagara University women’s basketball team and staff showed true perseverance and lots of courage in extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances.

Hopefully, the other people that were stranded on that 132 mile chunk of the New York Thruway eventually get rescued.

Back to my regular fun blogging the best of college basketball as the early in-season Thanksgiving holiday tournaments kick into high gear in the coming days.