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Syracuse and Baylor To Meet in 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament 0

Posted on March 21, 2019 by Chris Kent
Syracuse is the No. 8 seed in the west region.

The Syracuse University men’s basketball team is headed to the 2019 NCAA Tournament and will meet Baylor University in a first round game in the west region on Thursday March 21. Tip-off is set for approximately 9:57 pm EST from the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, UT. It is the second straight trip to the Big Dance for the Orange, marking the first time Syracuse has made back-to-back trips to the tournament since 2013 and 2014.

Baylor is the No. 9 seed in the west region.

The Orange drew the No. 8 seed while the Bears are the No. 9 seed. Baylor finished 19-13 and placed fourth in the Big 12 at 10-8 while Syracuse is 20-13 and finished sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference at 10-8. By the time this game tips off, it will have been three weeks and a day since the Bears’ last victory which came on Feb. 27, an 84-83 home win over Texas. Baylor was one and done in the Big 12 Tournament last week in Kansas City, MO where it lost 83-66 to Iowa State in the quarterfinals, its’ fourth straight loss.

The Bears went 7-7 against teams that qualified for this year’s NCAA Tournament with wins over the likes of Oregon and Texas Tech. Baylor also swept Big 12 foes Iowa State and Oklahoma in Big 12 regular season play. After losing their season opener to Texas Southern the Bears won three straight before losing to Mississippi in the Emerald Coast Classic on Nov. 23. Baylor went 3-2 over its’ next five games before beating Oregon at home 57-47 on Dec. 21. After opening Big 12 play 1-2, the Bears won six in a row before suffering back-to-back losses to Texas and Kansas State. Baylor rebounded with four wins in its’ next five games before dropping its’ last three regular season games.

Tyus Battle scored a season high 32 points in Syracuse’s win at Duke on Jan. 14.

Meanwhile, the Orange have dropped two of their last three games. Syracuse went 1-1 in the ACC Tournament last week in Charlotte, NC where it beat Pittsburgh in the second round before falling in the quarterfinals to Duke which went on to win the tournament title. The Orange had a solid regular season in which they were highly challenged down the stretch. Syracuse faced four teams that finished in the top seven of the final regular season conference standings in their last six games, going only 2-4. The losses were to Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, and Clemson while the victories came over Louisville and Wake Forest. Despite losing to three teams that went on to secure No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament (Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina), the Orange were still competitive in all those games. The major victory for Syracuse this season was a 95-91 win in overtime at No. 1 Duke on Jan. 14. That victory was sorely needed as the Orange had come off a 73-59 home loss to Georgia Tech just two days prior.

Syracuse opened the season 2-0 before suffering back-to-back losses to Connecticut and Oregon in the 2K Classic on Nov. 15 and 16. The Orange rebounded with a five-game winning streak which included a 72-62 win at Ohio State in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge on Nov. 28. Home losses to Old Dominion and Buffalo made the postseason projection for Syracuse more difficult at the time before the later wins over Duke and Louisville put them on safe ground for an NCAA at large bid. The team from upstate New York was 5-8 against teams that made this year’s NCAA field of 68.

The Orange and Bears have met only twice before with Syracuse holding a 2-0 edge. They last met in the championship game of the Maui Invitational in 2013 when the Orange won 74-67. Syracuse also won 94-71 during the 2006-07 season.

The Orange will get a boost against Baylor with the return of junior shooting guard Tyus Battle who sat out the ACC Tournament due to a back injury he sustained in the regular season finale at Clemson on March 9. Battle, an All-ACC Third Team selection this season, leads Syracuse in scoring and ranks sixth in the ACC with 17.2 points per-game. Battle has scored in double figures 27 times this season which includes 14 20-point outings and a pair of 30-point games. Battle, who was also named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-District II team on March 12, is second on the team with 77 assists and leads the team in minutes played per-game at 36.3. Senior point guard Frank Howard steadies the ship for the Orange with 8.9 ppg and dishes out a team best 2.9 assists per-game. However that production will not be available for Syracuse as it was reported late afternoon on March 20 via News Channel 9 in Syracuse, NY that Howard will not play against Baylor and has been ruled out of the NCAA Tournament for an indefinite period due to violation of an unspecified athletic department policy. Boeheim will likely replace Howard in the starting lineup.

Oshae Brissett maneuvers inside looking to get to the basket.

Sophomore forward Oshae Brissett and junior forward Elijah Hughes are productive players on the wings for the Orange. Brissett grabs a team best 7.5 rebounds per-game while Hughes has converted a team-high 81 3-pointers and shoots 36.0 percent from behind the arc. Hughes and Brissett both average double figures in scoring with 13.4 and 12.4 ppg respectively. Senior center Paschal Chukwu grabs 5.4 rpg, chips in 4.3 ppg, and leads the team with 1.8 blocks per-game.

Orange head coach Jim Boeheim, in his 43rd year at the helm of his alma mater, typically has played just seven to eight players meaning a mostly short bench during his career. This year he has a little more flexibility with four players he can bring off the bench. This includes his son, 6-5 freshman guard Jackson Thomas “Buddy” Boeheim who adds scoring punch as a 3-point threat. The younger Boeheim, who started the two ACC Tournament games in place of the injured Battle, has shot 47-for-129 on the season from the 3-point line, good for 36.4 percent. He averages 6.9 ppg. Freshman guard Jalen Carey, along with sophomore forwards Marek Dolezaj and Bourama Sidibe are the other reserves for coach Boeheim. Dolezaj is a smart and efficient player who contributes 4.1 ppg and 3.6 rpg.

Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone defense is again a major factor this season with the length of their guards and forwards to go with the 7-2 Chukwu who is the tallest player ever in Orange history. Howard and Battle go 6-5 and 6-6 on top of the zone at the guard positions while Brissett and Hughes add length at 6-8 and 6-6 respectively on the wings. This height and reach allow the zone to be effective with a better chance for deflecting passes and shots. This can lead to turnovers enabling Syracuse to get out in transition and covert easy buckets. The Orange shoot 42.4 percent on the season and holds its’ opponents to just under 40 percent at 39.7. Syracuse also has a +3.2 turnover margin and force 1.7 more steals per game than their opponents.

Makai Mason looks to get off a shot on a drive to the basket.

The Bears counter with redshirt senior guard Makai Mason, a transfer from Yale of the Ivy League, who leads Baylor with 14.6 ppg. Redshirt sophomore Mario Kegler, who goes 6-7 and 230, is listed at guard and forward and averages 10.7 ppg along with 6.0 rpg. Mark Vital, a 6-5 redshirt sophomore guard/forward adds 7.0 ppg and leads the team with 7.2 rpg. Baylor also gets 10.1 ppg from freshman guard Jared Butler. Senior guard King McClure scores 8.7 ppg.

Both teams are similar in profile with their statistical production spread over several players giving them balance. They each went 10-8 in two of the top conferences in the country. They each had a rough ending to the regular season with multiple losses before short stays in their postseason conference tournaments. The Orange are a 20-game winner while the Bears have won 19, a sign of Syracuse getting the higher seed in this 8 vs. 9 matchup. A competitive game should be in store with the winner advancing to the second round on Saturday March 23 where the Gonzaga Bulldogs – the region’s No. 1 seed – will likely be awaiting.

Mike Gminski: Four-Year Duke Star 0

Posted on March 10, 2018 by Dean Hybl

Mike Gminski

Mike Gminski

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a star big man who achieved great success at Camden Indoor Stadium in the era before Coach K and the One-and-Done big men became the norm at Duke University.

Much like recent Duke big men Marvin Bagley III, Jayson Tatum and Jahlil Okafor, Mike Gminski made an immediate impact for the Blue Devils. However, because he played 40 years earlier at a time when few players left college early, Gminski spent four years racking up stats and success in Durham. Read the rest of this entry →

The Palestra: College Basketball’s Most Beloved Arena 3

Posted on February 01, 2016 by Mike Raffone

The Palestra

As the NCAA basketball season inches towards tournament time, allow me to highlight my favorite place on the planet to watch college hoops.

As Philadelphia’s most revered sports venue, the Palestra is appropriately called the Cathedral of College Basketball.

Recognized as the birthplace of college basketball, this hallowed arena opened its doors on the University of Pennsylvania campus on January 1, 1927. On that seminal day, Ivy League rivals Penn and Yale tipped off in what would become the first of thousands of games held in this building.

Named after an ancient Greek rectangular enclosure, the sparkling new facility was designed to house 8,722 spectators.

However, more than 10,000 excited fans crammed into the Palestra to witness Penn beat Yale 26 – 15 on its opening day.

Since then, the Palestra has hosted more NCAA college basketball games than any other arena in the country.

Beginning 1955, the Palestra has also served as the home court for the round robin of Big 5 college basketball games. Though not an official league or athletic conference, the Big 5 boasts five successful college basketball programs located within a 17 mile radius of center city Philadelphia. Read the rest of this entry →

Best College Shot Blockers of the Past 30 Years 1

Posted on March 26, 2014 by Scott Huntington

By taking a look at March Madness and the way college basketball teams advance through the tournament, it’s easy to see how valuable an elite shot blocker can be. Protectors of the rim have always been an important part of the college game and have been some of the best players in the history of the sport. Unfortunately, the blocked shot didn’t become a statistic until the ‘80s, so greats like Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain couldn’t leave their mark completely. However, the last 30 years or so have given us plenty of great shot blockers. Here are the best of the best.

Hakeem Olajuwon

Olajuwon was easily one of the most dominating forces college basketball has ever seen. His defensive prowess led the Houston Cougars to the Final Four in each of his three seasons playing for the school. Had he stayed for a fourth year, Olajuwon would almost certainly be the all-time leader in blocks. He totaled 454 rejections with an average of 6.61 blocks per 40 minutes.

David Robinson

david-robinson-navy

Known as the Admiral, Robinson is one of the best shot blockers of all time, which is all the more impressive considering he didn’t start playing basketball until his final year of high school. Robinson recorded a total of 516 blocks in his four-year college career at Navy, averaging 5.55 blocks per 40 minutes. Robinson is one of only six players to block at least 14 shots in a single game and he holds the record for blocked shots in a season with 207. His knack for rejecting shots earned Robinson both the Naismith and Wooden Player of the Year awards.

Read the rest of this entry →

The History of Wichita St. Basketball 1

Posted on March 11, 2014 by Scott Huntington

As one of the stories of the year, the Wichita State Shockers have gone undefeated in the regular season of their college basketball season. After making it to the Final Four the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament last year and earning a record of 34-0 this season, the Wichita St. basketball team is now where they have rarely been—in the limelight of sports prominence. For the casual sports fan, the Shockers have not often come to mind when it comes to choosing a winner for their March Madness brackets. However, Wichita St. basketball has come a long way since its beginning, starting under the name Fairmount College.

ws

The Beginning of Shockers Basketball

Under the original name of the “Wheatshockers”, the Fairmount College basketball team competed in its first season in 1906. Head coach Willis Bates and his six players finished the season 2-4. You don’t need medical translation to know that going 2-4 isn’t the best start to a program, but Fairmount College would eventually make strides forward, including the development of the full-court zone press under Coach Gene Johnson.

How Far Will Wichita State Go in the NCAA Tournament?

  • Lose the first weekend (27%, 3 Votes)
  • Winning the NCAA Title (27%, 3 Votes)
  • Lose in the Elite 8 (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Lose in the Round of 16 (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Lose in the Final Four (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Lose the NCAA Championship Game (9%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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Start of Success

The Shockers would begin to see success after joining the Missouri Valley Conference, when the school hired Ralph Miller from East High in 1951. Miller convinced his star player in high school, Cleo Littleton, to come with him to the college. Littleton became one of the first African-American players in the Missouri Valley Conference. He was also the first to score 19 points per game as a freshman—a school record that stands today. Under Miller in the 1964, Dave Stallworth would become the Shockers’ first consensus all-American, scoring a career average 24.2 points per game. Miller would later be inducted into Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame after building the Shockers’ basketball program.

Wichita State’s First Great Season

In the season following the school’s induction into the state university system as Wichita State University, the Shockers would go 19-7 and win the Missouri Valley Conference in the 1964-65 season under Gary Thompson. In the NCAA tournament of that season, Wichita St. would defeat SMU and Oklahoma St. in order to earn a berth into the Final Four—an accomplishment tied for the school’s deepest-ever run in the tournament. In their Final Four matchup, Wichita St. would lose to defending national champs UCLA Bruins by a score of 108-89.

One More Run Before Insignificance

11 years after Wichita St.’s greatest season at that point, the Shockers would win their next Missouri Valley Conference title. With one of the school’s best-assembled teams, including freshman-phenom Cheese Johnson, the 1975-76 Shockers returned to the NCAA tournament. A heart-breaking loss by one point to Michigan—the eventual runners-up—in the first game of the tournament would then be followed by the Shockers’ Elite 8 season in 1981 in which Wichita St. defeated Kansas. The Shockers would subsequently go through a period of mediocrity through the 1990s.

Return of the Shockers

Under new Athletic Director Jim Schaus, Wichita St. would begin to see success again in the 2000s. The hiring of coach Mark Turgeon would prove advantageous as he brought the team to three consecutive 20-win seasons and the school’s first conference championship in 23 years. The program has continued to gain momentum as the Shockers won the NIT tournament in 2011 and reached the Final Four of the NCAA tournament last season. Now, Wichita St. is poised to make a deep run in the tournament with the likelihood of a one seed and the confidence that only an undefeated season can give you.

3 Best NBA Prospects On The Saint Louis Billikens 3

Posted on January 20, 2014 by Michael Sanduso

St. Louis Billikens

1 –Dwayne Evans

When checking out Lowvig.ag, you will be bombarded with information. Saint Louis bombards its opponents with intelligent and rugged play, epitomized by Evans. Here’s the most likely NBA prospect for Saint Louis. Evans is by far the best player on the Saint Louis roster, not just the team’s primary scoring threat. Evans powered the Billikens to the Atlantic 10 championship last season with his constant energy and his ability to get into the paint on offense. Strong and intelligent, Evans displays a level of poise as a ball-handler which makes up for a deficit in terms of quickness. Evans knows how to maneuver his body through a defense with the ball, and he knows how to get to the rim. When you look at him in game action, you are inclined to think that he’s not fast enough to get to the rim or within five feet of the basket for a floater, but he regularly does precisely that, and defenses just don’t wind up stopping him – it’s strange but undeniable. What might be his best attribute as a player is that Evans is an outstanding defender, averaging over one steal per game and almost one blocked shot per game – this at 6-6 on the wing. Being the leading scoring option on a team would make many players unwilling to make a big investment on defense, but that’s not how Evans rolls. Read the rest of this entry →

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      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

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