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The Morning Dish – Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March 1, 2016 The Morning Dish No Comments
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Where has the 2015-16 season gone?

The presence of a leap year day yesterday did nothing to convince us that the past four months have absolutely flown by. If anything, it only enhanced that feeling, as conference postseason honors started trickling in at the same time that we started checking out the brackets for the first conference tournaments that kick in starting…today?

Super Tuesday, indeed.

Among the leagues releasing postseason awards on Tuesday, the America East named Stony Brook’s Jameel Warney its top player for the third straight year. Warney joins some lofty company in league history, joining Vermont’s Taylor Coppenrath and the late Reggie Lewis of Northeastern as the only players in league’s 37 years. To illustrate some of just how good and how dominant Warney has been: he also won the league’s defensive player of the year honor for the second straight season.

Dallas Moore of North Florida is the top player in the Atlantic Sun. The junior guard led the Ospreys to the league’s regular season title and, like UNF has made a gradual progression in his career. From a freshman-year starter and leading scorer on a team with a losing record, Moore became the conference leader in scoring (19.7) and assists (6.1) this year.

Another player who has become a mainstay at the top of his league is Lehigh’s Tim Kempton, who won the Patriot League’s top honor for the second straight season. The skilled big man became just the third player in league history to win the MVP honor twice before his senior year, and the others were pretty darn good-Colgate’s Adonal Foyle (1996 and 1997) and fellow Lehigh Mountain Hawk C.J. McCollum (2010 and 2012). Both went on to the NBA, Foyle making a solid career for himself and McCollum has emerged as a star this year in Portland.

Side Dishes

  • In case anyone needed a reminder, Kansas issued one that it is still the best team and the standard in the Big 12, by way of an 86-56 demolition of Texas on the road. Perry Ellis dominated (20 points, 9 of 11 from the field), but everyone from KU dominated in this one. A resounding performance, especially coming after the Longhorns had just beaten Oklahoma two days earlier and the Jayhawks just ascended back to the No. 1 ranking on Monday.
  • North Carolina held off Syracuse 75-70. Five players scored in double figures for UNC, which pounded the glass for 19 offensive rebounds on Senior Night.
  • Stephen F. Austin hammered Incarnate Word on the road by an 84-58 count. Thomas Walkup needed less than 30 minutes to put together a triple-double, finishing with 12 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists and five steals. The Lumberjacks are on a nation-best 16-game winning streak. Hard to imagine anyone stopping this team in the Southland tournament.
  • Another triple-double as Texas Southern’s Chris Thomas totaled 20, 11 and 10 in the Tigers’ 96-86 win over Alabama State. TSU clinches the SWAC title and the top seed in the conference tournament in Houston.
  • Hampton wrapped up the MEAC regular season title and the top seed in the league tourney with a 79-65 win over Delaware State. Which may or may not be good news: the top seed has won the conference tournament only three times in the last 10 years.

Tonight’s Menu:

  • Conference tournament play tips off with the Atlantic Sun and Patriot League. Top seed North Florida goes for its second straight A-Sun title with a rematch of last year’s championship game against South Carolina Upstate, which is the 8 seed this year. The Patriot tourney opens with play-in games including No. 10 Lafayette at seventh-seeded Navy and the 8/9 game with Loyola (Md.) hosting Holy Cross.
  • Florida has the golden opportunity of the night. No matter how much Kentucky is struggling-up to eight losses now and counting-a win over the Wildcats is seen perception-wise as one over a top-5 team. Right or wrong, that’s how it is, and the Gators get their chance to take down UK at home (7 p.m. EST, ESPN).
  • Dayton needs to get its struggles straightened out, but the Flyers have another tricky one at Richmond (7:30 p.m., CBSSN).
  • Oklahoma looks to bounce back from a loss at Texas and complete the season sweep against Baylor (8 p.m., ESPN2).
  • Indiana is now the heavy favorite to win the Big Ten and clinch the top seed in the league tourney, but now faces a tough finish starting with a trip to suddenly fading Iowa (9 p.m., ESPN).
  • Is Georgia Tech a serious contender for an NCAA bid? The Yellow Jackets might be if they can win at Louisville.
  • Division titles may be on the line in the MAC. First-place Akron leads Ohio by a game in the East and can clinch the division with a home win over the Bobcats. Ball State can wrap up the MAC West title when it hosts Central Michigan. A CMU win, though, keeps the Chippewas in play for the division.
  • If San Diego State has any hope of an at-large bid, the Aztecs can’t afford a slip-up at New Mexico (9:30 p.m., CBSSN).
  • Finally, a wise piece of scheduling by Saint Mary’s, which added a game with Grand Canyon midseason and now has a chance for a win that certainly won’t hurt its RPI or strength of schedule. SMC has done this in the past, and it’s a good chance to add at least a little more heft to the resume.

Enjoy your Tuesday.

Twitter: @HoopvilleAdam
E-mail: hoopvilleadam@yahoo.com

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