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The Morning Dish – Thursday, March 30, 2017

March 30, 2017 The Morning Dish No Comments

The break in the NCAA Tournament from the regionals to the Final Four allows plenty of room for other NCAA Division I college basketball tournaments to get some time in the sun this week. Thankfully.

While the relevance of events like the College Basketball Invitational and CollegeInsider.com Tournament can be debated, this much cannot: the tourneys are a welcome respite from the sport’s increasingly ridiculous offseason, what with its seemingly constant news of coach firings, coaches looking for their next payday before they get fired, and an endless list of transfers, most sorely mistaken in thinking an NBA career is just a transfer (or two, or three) away.

The CBI and CIT both have one final game left after last night, the former after Wyoming pushed the CBI’s unique best-of-three championship series to a third game Friday. The Cowboys ran away from Coastal Carolina in the second half to win 81-57 at home, and now they’ll have the privilege of trying to win the title at home with the deciding game also being played in Laramie.

As it often has this year, Wyoming won with the three-pointer, draining 12 in 31 attempts, but the Cowboys also owned the inside with a 45-36 rebounding advantage. Justin James scored a game-high 21 and added eight boards and Alan Herndon added a single-double with eight points but 10 rebounds. The win was Wyoming’s 22nd this year, an unexpectedly high total in the program’s first year under Allen Edwards.

The CIT final, meanwhile, is also set after Texas A&M-Corpus Christi pulled away to defeat Maryland-Baltimore County 79-61 and St. Peter’s drilled Furman 77-51. Corpus Christi will host the championship game, which also will be held Friday night.

The Islanders trailed UMBC by 10 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half but then dominated the rest of the game, outscoring the Retrievers 56-28 over the final 22 minutes, including 50-27 after the break. Rashawn Thomas-one of the better unsung players in the country in his career-became the first Corpus Christi player to surpass 2,000 points, and it should be noted accomplishments and legacies like this are exactly some of the things players are surrendering when their heads are on a swivel looking to transfer at every opportunity.

It’s also good to see TAMU-CC’s success for coach Willis Wilson, who has been around a long time now and has built a nice program on the island. Wilson did a solid job for many years at Rice, and this is the Islanders’ third straight 20-win season. A postseason tourney title would be a nice accomplishment for him and the Southland Conference.

St. Peter’s also moved to the final by dominating from the start against bewildered Furman. The Paladins already were facing a challenge playing their first game since Niko Medved left as head coach for the job at Drake, and that hill must’ve looked like Mount Everest for interim coach Bob Richey’s team after falling into a 15-0 hole to start the game. The host Peacocks led 34-8 late in the first half and pushed the margin as far as 29 in the second half.

St. Peter’s is making its deepest postseason run since advancing to the semifinals of the 1968 NIT, where it defeated Duke to get to New York, lost to Kansas in the semis and then Notre Dame in the third-place game. Led by another highly respected coach in John Dunne and another of those modestly funded private schools that give Division I college hoops its flavor, St. Peter’s wasn’t even expected to play a single CIT home game but took on the cost to play the semifinal at home (and passed on hosting the title game). Seniors Chazz Patterson, Quadir Welton and Trevis Wyche all got one more opportunity to play at home and made the most of it, and now the Peacocks-like Texas A&M-Corpus Christi-have a chance for their first-ever national postseason tournament title.

Side Dishes:

  • Massachusetts hopes to have finally settled its coaching situation as Matt McCall has been hired from Tennessee-Chattanooga. McCall spent the last two years at Chattanooga and led the Mocs to the NCAA Tournament last year, though the team fell apart down the stretch this year and finished fourth in a tough Southern Conference. UTC is now searching for its fourth coach in the last six years, after Will Wade also spent two years there before moving to VCU. UMass, of course, thought it had a head coach last week when it hired Pat Kelsey, but Kelsey decided to return to Winthrop a few days later
  • Maryland guard Melo Trimble is the latest to declare for the NBA Draft and will hire an agent. Trimble was one of the more notable college players of the last three years, splashing on the scene with a big freshman year and then leading a young Terrapins team this year.

Tonight’s Menu:

  • The NIT championship game takes center stage with Georgia Tech meeting TCU (8 p.m. Eastern, ESPN). One would expect the Horned Frogs are better equipped to handle Tech’s 1-3-1 zone than Cal State Bakersfield was, but this should be a very nice game. Hoopville’s Ray Floriani has more on both teams and their semifinal wins.

Have a terrific Thursday.

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College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

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