The competition for title of the best program in the Southwestern Athletic Conference continues to be hot, and that was only enhanced in 2015-16.
In one corner you have Texas Southern, which once again owned the SWAC in the regular season, finishing three games ahead of its nearest competition. The Tigers won their second straight regular season championship, boasted the league’s breakout player in freakishly athletic freshman Derrick Griffin, and now have won three regular season titles and two conference tourneys over the last four years. Mike Davis has established a league power, one that reloads talent on a regular basis. … Continue Reading
After a good start in its first year of existence, the American Athletic Conference appears more and more to be a conference searching for an identity. On the hardwood, this became even more apparent as another year passed without a clear signature program, something that might surprise you at first.
You might look at the membership and think, The American has Cincinnati, Memphis and UConn, so they have their signature programs. They have SMU on the rise under Larry Brown, though we knew all along he wouldn’t be there for long given his age. But the bottom line tells a different story. Since UConn won the national championship in 2014, the Huskies have not been an elite program, missing the NCAA Tournament in 2015 and finishing in the middle of the pack in the conference this past season. Memphis has been trending downward, while Cincinnati has been a solid, consistent NCAA Tournament team but not one that has contended for a conference title. SMU has been on the rise, but they could not be a part of postseason play due to NCAA sanctions.
No longer just the stomping grounds for a few elite teams, the Ohio Valley Conference unveiled a deeper version of itself in the 2015-16 campaign.
Contrary to history, the OVC was more than just longtime flagbearer Murray State or recent challengers Belmont or Eastern Kentucky, as six teams finished within two games of the top record in the conference. Belmont led the pack, but just barely, with three teams just one game behind and two more two games back.
As if that wasn’t enough, it was the OVC’s No. 8 regular season team that won its conference tournament. Austin Peay won four games in the league tourney, knocking off Belmont and then West Division co-champion Tennessee-Martin on the way to snapping an eight-year NCAA Tournament drought. … Continue Reading
Almost every college basketball season, there is one program that comes completely out of nowhere to join the national scene with a program-defining banner year, taking its fans and even the country on one fun ride.
Naturally, part of the cool factor of such seasons is one can rarely peg where those teams are coming from. So it was with Arkansas-Little Rock of the Sun Belt Conference in 2015-16, as the Trojans rose from mediocrity or something less to a legitimate national player-and behind a new coach, no less. … Continue Reading
The Big Sky puts out a good basketball product, at least from a competitive standpoint. Of all the mid-majors, this one might be hidden the most in terms of having so much working against it. The footprint is in the two western-most time zones and largely overshadowed not only by the Pac-12, but also the Mountain West and West Coast Conference. It has produced a few splashes over the years and little more, but within its own little world is a good product.
As tends to happen, some familiar faces were among those at the top. Weber State and Montana continue to be mainstays, as they are the two programs with the all-time best records both overall and in conference play among current members. In fact, they are the only current members whose Big Sky records are over .500 all-time. Save for 2014-15, when Weber State finished a surprising sixth, both teams have finished in the top three in the conference every year since 2008-09. The two have also combined for 19 conference titles, with no one else having more than four.
After a couple years of North Carolina Central serving as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s meanest team on the block, the MEAC held considerably more suspense in 2015-16.
LaVelle Moton’s N.C. Central program won 46 of 48 regular season conference games over the past three years, including 31 of 32 while winning the last two titles. This time, though, three teams finished just one game apart at the top of the league, with Hampton (13-3) holding off Norfolk State and South Carolina State (12-4) by one game. … Continue Reading
The Northeast Conference has long made its mark as a highly competitive conference whose best teams fit the little-engine-that-could mold. While all of that held up this season, there is something else to add right now: the conference has a lot of good talent that will be returning to make it better.
While Wagner won the conference by two games, a three-way tie followed, and in all seven teams were separated by three games after the Seahawks. While Bryant and Central Connecticut didn’t make the conference tournament and were further back, the Bulldogs won road games at conference champion Fairleigh Dickinson as well as Mount St. Mary’s and LIU Brooklyn, and the Blue Devils won at Robert Morris – always a tough place to win even in a down year for the Colonials – and beat Mount St. Mary’s in New Britain.
It would be hard to find a league that had a more suspenseful and more meaningful final day of its regular season than the Atlantic Sun Conference did this year.
Entering the final day of A-Sun play, no less than four teams had a shot at a share of the regular season title, with North Florida in first but Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville and newcomer NJIT all just one game back. The top six teams were separated by just three games, and all eight seeds were still up for grabs. Layering even more meaning to it all was the fact that all Atlantic Sun tournament games are held on the campus sites of the higher-seeded teams. … Continue Reading
If you had any doubt that Kentucky is once more in control of the SEC, you needed to look no further than 2015-16.
This was supposed to be a season where the Wildcats would get clearly upended by some other teams. Sure, they had a shaky season a couple of years ago, and they haven’t always been the kings of the conference during the John Calipari era, but for the most part they have been there. This time, though, it wasn’t supposed to happen the way it did. There was a Vanderbilt team that was supposed to be good. There was Ben Simmons coming in to make LSU relevant and maybe more. There was Texas A&M, a team on the upswing and sure to be motivated after being left out of the NCAA Tournament a year earlier.
In our latest podcast, we touch on a number of issues affecting conferences like Conference USA, as well as a big loss for Creighton, less mystery in Arizona, and more on the ACC as we look forward to the weekend.
In our latest podcast, we talk about a short stint in the top spot of the polls, some developments in the Mountain West Conference, and more of the ACC before closing with the Big East and Atlantic 10.
In our latest podcast, we talk about the great games Kentucky has been a part of lately. We go on to other ACC matters involving arch rivals, as well as some quick hits and a conference race that should be as good as expected.
In our latest podcast, we talk about a coaching legend reaching a milestone, the defending champs looking very good and continuing their winning ways close to home, and some off-court news during a light week of game action.
Early season tournaments are the focus in this episode, with a look at how strong a few Big East teams are out of the gate and how strong the ACC could be. Plus one SEC team had a big week outside the scope of tournaments.
We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.
We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.
We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.
Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout
The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.