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The Morning Dish – Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February 25, 2015 The Morning Dish No Comments
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In the wake of Monday night’s Kansas-Kansas State game, fans rushing the court after games continued to be a big topic of discussion on Tuesday.

Nicole Auerbach of the USA Today took a thoughtful look at the topic and questioned if this was the one that crossed the line. CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish was adamant in declaring the practice needs to be stopped. Kansas State released a statement apologizing to Kansas and admitting the school’s fault in not securing the scene properly. Naturally, schools such as Richmond met on Tuesday to discuss security measures before their big rivalry game Wednesday against VCU, while the security presence was notable at the end of Maryland’s 59-53 win over Wisconsin.

Frankly, there are fewer and fewer arguments in favor of court-storming. Clearly, it is becoming a dangerous practice, and there is a tipping point coming, a line that hasn’t been prominently crossed yet, but will be soon. It actually was crossed last year, in a game between New Mexico State and Utah Valley in which players and fans were fighting, but that game wasn’t on TV; as soon as something like that happens in a national telecast, this topic will blow up like it never has yet and make the Kansas-Kansas State incident look benign.

It might be easier to sympathize with supporters of the practice if it was still practiced in the purity it once was. From here, it seems the court storm used to be a way of celebrating the players who pulled off a big win. It was done respectfully, with an innocence where fans just wanted to celebrate with the players. Watch any court storm now, and it’s quite clear for many it is more about self-celebration than the players or even the game. Not all, but many.

On top of all that, court storming indeed does lose the special factor when it happens so frequently. Kansas State has beaten Kansas three of the last five years. Shouldn’t Wildcat fans “expect” their team to beat Kansas by now? When it is happening so often, it’s hard to argue that it’s about enjoying a rare moment that deserves such a celebration. By celebrating too much, those storming the court may indeed be blowing their chances for future such acts.

Tuesday’s Action:

  • Maryland sent Wisconsin to just its third loss this season, defeating the Badgers 59-53. Dez Wells was terrific with 26 of the Terrapins’ 59 points, and his team withstood a challenge in the second half as well as its own bouts with offensive stagnation. Frank Kaminsky had 18 for the Badgers, who leaned on their big guy heavily in the second half and didn’t get much from guys like Nigel Hayes (10 points, just six field goal attempts) and Bronson Koenig, who had a tough shooting night (2 of 12, 6 points).
  • Villanova pounded Providence 89-61. The Wildcats took it to the Friars in both regular season meetings this year. Darrun Hilliard scored 24, and Nova also got 30 points from its bench and shut down Kris Dunn (4 points, 7 assists, 6 turnovers) and LeDontae Hinton (a quiet 12 points).
  • West Virginia held off Texas 71-64, pinning yet another loss on the Longhorns, who perhaps deserved to lose after wearing those awful black uniforms with burnt orange trim.
  • Some teams get the description that playing them is like getting a root canal. North Carolina State is a team that feels like a root canal to evaluate. North Carolina is what it is-a talented but inconsistent team. Other than Trevor Lacey, though, the Wolfpack at times doesn’t wow anyone with their talent, and sometimes looks extremely ordinary. And then it rips off back-to-back road wins at Louisville and, now, Carolina by a 58-46 win Tuesday night.
  • Another upset in the ACC: Syracuse won at Notre Dame, 65-60. This is why the cynicism over the Cuse’s postseason ban needs some checking: the Orange have beaten Louisville and Notre Dame in the last week, and even in their thin state are a team that would’ve been capable of at least a dark horse Sweet 16 run.
  • Arkansas jumped all over Texas A&M at the start and led by 23 at halftime, but then had to hold on at the end for an 81-75 win. Forgive the Aggies if they feel like this was a win, as their rally to within two points late erased a bad showing early on.
  • Boise State shot the lights out from deep, hitting 15 three-pointers in a 76-65 win over New Mexico. Nick Duncan hit eight triples and Derrick Marks added five, with Marks scoring 30 and Duncan adding a career-high 26. The Broncos aren’t an NCAA tourney team yet because of their lack of name wins, but they look really, really good. Meanwhile, the Lobos have lost seven straight.
  • LSU stayed the course with an easy 84-61 win at Auburn in the battle of Tigers.
  • Pittsburgh is a team starting to get a lot of “bubble” buzz, and so far just not seeing it yet. The Panthers did avoid a bad loss by beating Boston College 71-65 despite BC’s Olivier Hanlan scoring 39 points.
  • Stew Morrill continues to have Utah State playing well in his final season. The Aggies are now 17-10 and have won five straight after an 83-65 win over UNLV.
  • Another busy night in the MAC saw Central Michigan drill 16 three-pointers in a 72-56 win over Eastern Michigan. Miami (Ohio) also continues to be a pain in the backside of better teams in the league, as the Redhawks roared back from 19 points down with just over eight minutes left to tie the game and eventually beat East Division leader Kent State 86-81 in overtime.
  • Finally, Niagara won at Canisius 82-71 in the latest installment of those two teams’ longtime rivalry. The Purple Eagles are just 7-21 this year, but five of their wins are over teams with winning records.

Side Dishes:

  • Toledo‘s home game against Northern Illinois on Tuesday was postponed due to a water main break near the Rockets’ Savage Arena. The game has been rescheduled for Wednesday.
  • Iowa sophomore reserve guard Trey Dickerson is leaving the program and will transfer at the end of this semester. Dickerson got caught up in a logjam at the position with the Hawkeyes, where he played in 15 games this season and averaged 2.7 points and 1.2 assists.

Tonight’s Menu: Among the biggies on tap…

Baylor at Iowa State (9 p.m. EST, ESPNU)  Suddenly, the Cyclones are back in play for the Big 12 title. What a treat it is to watch this league’s conference race. College sports as it should be.
VCU at Richmond (7 p.m. EST, ESPN2), Davidson at Rhode Island 
The Rams get a chance to avenge their previous loss to the Spiders in this increasingly heated rivalry. Davidson and URI have eerily similar NCAA tourney resumes right now, so this is a huge opportunity for one to gain a sliver of separation over the other.
Illinois at Iowa (9 p.m. EST, BTN)  A big resume-boosting win is available here.
Georgia at Mississippi 
See above.
James Madison at UNC-Wilmington 
Two of the four teams tied for the CAA lead with two games to play. UNCW has received some attention for what it has done this year, but Matt Brady has done a pretty fine job with JMU as well.
North Florida at Florida Gulf Coast  Believe it or not, first place is on the line in the Atlantic Sun with this one. The Ospreys trailed FGCU by a game but won the first meeting, so with just one conference game left after this for each team, this is critical.
Evansville at Northern Iowa 
UNI is probably too good to be looking ahead to its huge game at Wichita State on  Saturday, but caution is advised nonetheless against the Purple Aces, who are one victory shy of a 20-win season.
New Hampshire at Vermont  Albany should lock up the America East title soon, but a fierce battle is going on for second involving these two plus Stony Brook.
Bucknell at Lehigh  The Bison also should clinch the Patriot League soon, but Lehigh is one of the teams that is very capable of winning the league tourney.

Have a good Wednesday.

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