We’re all biding our time until the Final Four games on Saturday, but all news is not just coaching changes and players coming and going (mostly going) as college basketball’s other tournaments are also wrapping up this week.
The 77th annual NIT semifinals were played at Madison Square Garden last night and saw Miami (Fla.) and Stanford emerge with hard-fought victories to move to the championship game on Thursday. Neither game was pretty, but it goes without saying that style points are meaningless at this time of year.
Miami trailed by 11 in the first half but took advantage of Temple’s ice cold second half (9 of 40, 22.5%) for a 60-57 win. The Hurricanes played without Angel Rodriguez as well as Tonye Jekiri for all but six minutes, but Jim Larranaga’s team has fought through a lot of obstacles in its run to the NIT final.
In the second game, Stanford jumped all over Old Dominion early, running out to a 25-4 lead before the Monarchs settled down. ODU came all the way back and actually took the lead midway through the second half. The Cardinal kept plugging away, though, and got big buckets down the stretch from Chasson Randle for a 67-60 win. Randle scored 24 points and in the game became Stanford’s all-time leading, a pretty impressive feat with guys as he’ll finish his career ahead of guys like Adam Keefe and Todd Lichti, the previous record holder.
The championship game in the CIT is also set after a pair of Cinderella-like runs came to an end. Evansville took care of Tennessee-Martin 79-66, as D.J. Balentine scored 28 points. The Purple Aces will face Northern Arizona in the title game after the Lumberjacks ended a storybook season for New Jersey Tech 69-61.
Coming up tonight, the CBI continues with the second game of its championship series, this time with Loyola (Ill.) traveling to Louisiana-Monroe (8 p.m. EST, CBSSN). The Ramblers can wrap up the championship with one more win, while ULM tries to force a decisive final game. Interestingly, the Missouri Valley Conference has a chance to sweep the CBI and CIT titles, with its fifth- and sixth-place teams from the regular season.
- San Diego has its new coach. He is Lamont Smith, most recently an assistant at New Mexico the last two years. Smith played at USD from 1994-99
- It was an interesting day at Oklahoma State, where the morning saw reports that OSU was considering a buyout of Travis Ford (a “go-away” payday that would’ve been for $9.6 million). By the evening, though, Cowboys athletic director Mike Holder had made a public statement that Ford would continue as coach at the school.
- Players turning pro on Tuesday included: Georgetown junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, UNLV freshman guard Rashad Vaughn and LSU sophomore forward Jordan Mickey. Vaughn announced that he had already signed with an agent. All three are significant losses for their respective teams, though cushioned by a stellar recruiting class coming in (LSU), a solid tradition of winning yearly regardless of new faces (Georgetown), or by the fact that the team wasn’t that good already last year (UNLV).
- Yesterday we mentioned Chris Mullin heading to St. John’s, and the inevitable comparisons to Iowa State hiring Fred Hoiberg, an extremely popular native son with little coaching experience but an NBA front office background. On Tuesday it was reported that one of Mullin’s first acts as the Johnnies’ coach will be adding Iowa State assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih to staff. Abdelmassih also is a St. John’s alum and was the recruiting coordinator at ISU for Hoiberg. Transfers are undoubtedly already planning their visits.
- In addition to the CBI series continuing, the McDonald’s All-American Game is tonight in Chicago (9 p.m. EST, ESPN). The list of participants includes players heading to 14 different schools next year, as well as a number of players still uncommitted.
Have a great Wednesday.