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The Morning Dish – Tuesday, January 13, 2015

January 13, 2015 The Morning Dish No Comments
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We now live in a world with six full-fledged comprehensive national sports networks, most of them available on fairly basic cable systems. There are also numerous other national and regional sports networks and outlets, some of them even focused on college sports entirely.

With all of this, one would’ve thought at least one of those networks somewhere would’ve had the stones to provide some fair counter programming to the college football game last night. Some kind of college basketball event-even on a lark-would’ve been a welcome alternative to umpteen channels of coverage of the same game.

All of the aforementioned channels fancy themselves as challengers in the sports television landscape. Instead, given the chance to do something interesting or-gasp-different, it seems programmers were scared and thought it easier to punt, to concede the night as a throwaway. That’s unfortunate.

There were plenty of people who weren’t that interested in an overhyped college football game in a so-called playoff (call us when the selection committee for College Football Playoff has representatives from more than just five conferences) that booted out what was almost certainly one of the top four teams in its final ranking of the season.  It was a night begging for even a fair college basketball storyline, even if the football conferences had no interest in participating. Perhaps a Big East/Missouri Valley twinbill featuring the premier hoops-first leagues in the East and Midwest. A Big Five doubleheader at the Palestra. A big Mountain West game or two. UC Santa Barbara’s All-America candidate Alan Williams against UC Irvine’s 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye in an old-fashioned Big West Big Monday-type game.

Even if they wouldn’t have been ratings bonanzas, it was an opportunity to experiment. It was a chance for innovation with nothing to lose, on a night that typically belongs to college basketball on the sports calendar from January through March. For a sport that is always trying to figure out ways to make its regular season more relevant, an opportunity was missed Monday night.

Monday’s results: Monday night’s schedule didn’t feature many (any) marquee names, but it did feature several schools with a real chance at the NCAA Tournament.

  • Coastal Carolina rallied from a 14-point deficit to win at Campbell 70-67. The Chanticleers are now 14-3, 5-0 in the Big South, and have won six straight, a streak that would be 10 if not for blowing a 17-point deficit at Mississippi.
  • Sam Houston State looks positioned to lurk right behind Stephen F. Austin in the Southland all year again. The Bearkats won at SE Louisiana 72-59 to move to 12-4.
  • Tic Price is doing a fine job at Lamar. The Cardinals won at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 66-64, getting a win against one of the Southland’s better teams. Lamar went 4-26 last year but is already 9-7 this year.
  • Monmouth continues to be the surprise leader in the Metro Atlantic after a 55-54 win at Rider. The Hawks are one-half game up on Iona.
  • North Carolina Central whiffed on all of its chances against high-major competition in the non-conference season, but the Eagles are now 4-0 in the MEAC after a 58-40 win over Savannah State.

Side Dishes:

  • Syracuse suffered a big blow as freshman Chris McCullough is done for the year after having been diagnosed with a torn ACL, injured Sunday night against Florida State. McCullough was averaging 9.3 points and nearly seven rebounds per game, and his injury is a blow to a team that already was not deep to begin with.
  • Wisconsin will be without point guard Traevon Jackson for at least 2-3 weeks and perhaps as many as six weeks after fracturing his right foot on Sunday in the Badgers’ loss at Rutgers. Jackson is averaging 9.4 points and 2.9 assists per game. Already missing Frank Kaminsky (concussion), the Badgers did not react well after Jackson went out of Sunday’s game, but it’s not an insurmountable injury. Sophomore Bronson Koenig is the future in the Wisconsin backcourt, and he will now step in and play a bigger role.
  • Penn State senior guard John Johnson has been suspended for an undisclosed amount of time for “conduct inconsistent with team standards,” according to the Associated Press. Johnson is averaging 7.4 points off the bench.
  • The Mountain West has announced suspensions for Saturday’s Air Force/Colorado State brawl. CSU’s J.J. Avila and the Falcons’ Matt Mooney will both miss one game each. Avila has been the Rams’ best player this year, but he will miss his team’s next game against Nevada. Mooney, who averages 7.0 ppg, will be out for Air Force’s next game at New Mexico.

Today’s Menu: The 7 p.m. EST time slot is loaded with good games, perhaps payback for the non-existent schedule Monday night.

Oklahoma State at Kansas (7 p.m. EST, ESPN2)  The Big 12 is a grind again, but no team knows that and is prepared better for it than the Jayhawks.
Oklahoma at West Virginia (7 p.m. EST, ESPNews) Which way is this Oklahoma season going? We’re still trying to find out.
Butler at Seton Hall (7 p.m. EST, FS1) It’s still early in the conference season, but the Big East is looking like a six-bid league for the NCAA Tournament, and both of these teams should make it solidly.
VCU at Rhode Island (7 p.m. EST, CBSSN) 
Rams vs. Rams. URI has not lost in a month and already has two A-10 road wins, though the last one was a slim 1-point win at Duquesne.
Arkansas at Tennessee (7 p.m. EST, ESPNU) 
Razorbacks looking for second straight road win.
Georgetown at DePaul (9 p.m. EST, FS1) The Blue Demons aren’t going away in the Big East so far this year, so this is a tricky one for the Hoyas.
Iowa at Minnesota (9 p.m. EST, BTN) The Gophers are not as bad as that conference record shows right now, but they need to start winning immediately.
Connecticut at Tulsa (9:30 p.m. EST, CBSSN)  Suddenly, this has become a huge game, as the Golden Hurricane looks to have pulled itself out of an early season slump and is playing very well.

Have a super Tuesday.

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