Well I guess the top story from last night was the lack of any surprises whatsoever. What looked interesting on paper with a grudge-type matchup with Holy Cross facing their “ghosts-of-1-seeds-past” Kansas was interesting until just about the 17-minute mark in the first half. After that, it was pretty much all 2nd-ranked Jayhawks, winning easily 81-57. There were grumblings on how poorly Nick Collison played, and truth be told, he was a little cold in the first half. But if a 20-point 8-rebound performance is the focal point of the game, you know it was a yawn.
Kansas, winners of 30 straight season openers, and winners of 3 other Preseason NIT’s (’89, ’93, and ’97) will face off against UNC-Greensboro in Lawrence on Friday. That game will be on the Deuce, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary as a network. My parents still don’t get that channel, which is why I don’t visit as often.
UNC-Greensboro, competing in the non-televised portion of the Preseason NIT, downed Wagner last night 84-65. Here’s how it happened: Field-goal percentage. UNCB had 63%, Wagner shot 37%. Wagner helped dig their own hole by shooting only 12% from the arc. Yikes.
And, because there always must be a angle, No. 6 Florida freshman Matt Walsh is being hailed as the new incarnation of Larry Bird. Sure, you bet. He grabbed 26 points and was on the board in other offensive categories. But a goatee and sweatband do not a legend make. Walsh and the rest of the Gators toppled Louisiana Tech 76-55 with a group of talented freshmen, similar to UNC’s youth movement last night. The question is which one of the UNC freshmen is the next Magic Johnson. I’m betting on Rashad McCants. Pretty soon McCants and Walsh will be doing Converse commercials together. Florida faces Eastern Illinois Thursday in the Preseason NIT Quarterfinals. Kudos to Louisiana Tech’s Antonio Meeking for serving up a double-double in the loss.
Ram Air: Colorado State rallied to overcome a 10-point deficit to topple Cleveland State in the finale of the BCA Invitational, held, coincidentally, at Colorado State. Both sponsors and alumni love it when you win your own tournament, especially when the field is comprised of much smaller schools that are rebuilding, and all of whom play at 500-feet elevation or lower. The final was 77-63, and props to Ram MVP Brian Greene with 28 points on the night, and 63 for the tournament. Florida Atlantic and IP-Ft. Wayne had to take it to overtime in the consolation game, with the Owls pulling it out, 93-86.
The NCAA decrees: Memphis guard Antonio Burks gets a 3-game suspension from benefiting from getting rental car perks. Burks, who is age 22, apparently wasn’t of age (25) to rent, and didn’t have a credit card. Hey, NCAA, relax! Same thing happened to us when we were in the dorm, I rented a Sable at age 19 for a road-trip to Chicago. Curiously, the only penalty was that the rental staff was removed several weeks later – no suspensions for us.
No Word from the Man: 14th-ranked Mississippi State continues to hold their breath while the NCAA decides if all-SEC center Mario Austin should be declared eligible. Apparently the NCAA is investigating Austin’s high school transcripts, even though he’s a junior in college. Austin, the star of stage, screen, and last season’s SEC tournament, almost went pro last season. The Bulldogs’ administration should take a cue from The Waterboy, where Bobby Boucher got to take the GED on the eve of the Bourbon Bowl. And they were nearby in Louisiana.
No Brotherly Love: San Diego State announced that junior forward Chris Walton, youngest son of UCLA and NBA legend Bill Walton, will redshirt the season. It’s never a good sign to redshirt your junior year when it’s not medically related. Chris thus avoids the showdown with his brother Luke when top-ranked Arizona visits the Aztecs in a few weeks..
• The Preseason NIT continues with Second-Round coverage coming from campus sites. 11th-ranked Xavier visits Stanford on ESPN2, and the upstart UNC Tar Heels host Rutgers on ESPN. There have been a ton of articles published in the last 36 hours as to how North Carolina is definitely back (inlcuding this fine publication). I wonder if everyone would be crushed if New Jersey’s team knocks off the Fab-3 of the ACC?
That’s it for Wednesday. Enjoy!