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2014-15 Horizon League Post-Mortem

by - Published July 31, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes

Given his status as an all-time NCAA Tournament hero at Valparaiso, one would think Bryce Drew could not do much of anything quietly at his alma mater.

So cozy are the surroundings at a small school like Valpo, though, that a former NBA first round draft pick who hit one of the great shots in NCAA history and followed his father as the program’s head coach can build a formidable program and few would know about it.

Almost silently, Valparaiso had a terrific 2014-15 season, posting a 28-6 record and winning the Horizon League regular season and tournament championships. The Crusaders also just missed posting a huge upset in the NCAAs, losing to Maryland by three points.

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2014-15 Southern Conference Post-Mortem

by - Published July 31, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes

Tiny Wofford College was one of the hidden gems of the 2014-15 college basketball season. Just as significantly, the Terriers were exactly what the doctor ordered for the venerable Southern Conference.

Stuck firmly in the middle of the pecking order among NCAA Division I conferences, the SoCon has been hit hard by conference realignment over the past couple years. Known more for its Division I-AA (or FCS) football, the league lost Appalachian State, Elon and Georgia Southern, but the biggest blow by far for basketball was the loss of a non-football member when signature hoops program Davidson jumped ship to the Atlantic 10.

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2014-15 Conference USA Post-Mortem

by - Published July 24, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes

UAB coach Jerod Haase didn’t receive votes for any national coach of the year awards this year. He should have.

In fact, Haase wasn’t even named the coach of the year in Conference USA-that honor went to Louisiana Tech’s Michael White after leading his team to a second straight league title. It is hard to find a team in the country that improved more from the start of the season to the end, though, than UAB did. Given that plus the chaotic circumstances swirling around his school, there was not a coach in the country who did a better job than Haase did in making the Blazers one of the terrific (if unsung) stories of the season.

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2014-15 Patriot League Post-Mortem

by - Published July 24, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes

The Patriot League lived up to its billing as one of the most competitive conferences in the country this season. That was expected given that many teams returned a lot from last season. It was also a deep league, evidenced by the numbers and the eye test, all a sign that the league is in a good place right now.

For a lot of the season, the league race saw the ten teams separated by about three or four games. The seven games separating first from tenth at the end of the season is a bit deceiving. As the season went on, you got the feeling that Bucknell was separating themselves a bit from the rest of the pack, although Colgate took them down to the wire for the top spot. The rest of the league was up for grabs all over.

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2014-15 Missouri Valley Post-Mortem

by - Published July 24, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes

Once again, the Missouri Valley Conference is on the comeback. Not that it ever really leaves.

For more than 100 years, few conferences have rolled with the punches better than the MVC. The Valley continues to claw out a spot just outside the top tier conferences in college basketball, and it did so again in 2014-15 with a noticeably improved product that again proved the league has a niche in the sport.

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2014-15 Atlantic 10 Post-Mortem

by - Published July 17, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes

The Atlantic 10 was bound to have a hard time duplicating the success of the 2013-14 season, and that is exactly what happened. That reality is much less an indictment of the conference in 2014-15 than it is a reminder of how historically good the preceding season was. In the end, the results show a mixed bag of promise and concern for the conference heading into next season.

Davidson joined the conference and showed they have much more going for them than being the school that produced NBA MVP Stephen Curry. The Wildcats came seemingly out of nowhere to win the regular season title outright. Besides the fact that they were coming from the Southern Conference, they played a very soft non-conference schedule, so they weren’t exactly projected to make a grand entrance into the conference. But they kept on winning, having gained confidence with their non-conference wins. They were one of three teams to reach the NCAA Tournament, but the conference’s streak of seven straight years with at least one team in the Sweet 16 was snapped.

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2014-15 Big Ten Post-Mortem

by - Published July 17, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes

Seldom does a team enter a season with high expectations and then fulfill predictions of greatness in almost every way possible the way Wisconsin did this year.

The Badgers came into 2014-15 with four starters returning from a team that made it to the Final Four, and Bo Ryan’s team was on the short list of favorites to get there again. Wisconsin also was an overwhelming favorite to win the rugged Big Ten and had a pair of players receiving preseason All-America recognition (Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker). While the expectations will never be at a Kentucky or UCLA level in Madison, a run at the national title was a realistic goal.

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2014-15 Summit League Post-Mortem

by - Published July 16, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes

You may not hear much about it from TV networks increasingly narrowing their coverage scope, but few NCAA Division I conferences have struck gold with conference realignment like the Summit League.

North Dakota State and South Dakota State were in the league’s footprint when both were considering moves to Division I in the early 2000’s. At the same time, the then-Mid-Continent Conference was regularly toting 15 or 16 seeds in the NCAA Tournament and was widely regarded as low in stability because of a footprint that spread from Indiana to Utah ad down to Louisiana. With little to lose, the conference wisely snapped them up, and the results have been superb.

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2014-15 Ivy League Post-Mortem

by - Published July 16, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes

The old phrase “What a difference a year makes” normally has positive connotations. For the Ivy League following the 2014-15 season, however, the opposite would be true. At a time when the league appeared to be in a big up cycle, the rise didn’t quite continue this season.

There was very good basketball in the Ivy League, to be sure. Harvard and Yale set the pace with good non-league showings, with the Bulldogs pulling out the league’s signature victory at UConn in December. The middle of the pack was pretty good – perhaps better than one might have expected given the adversity some teams faced. But there’s no two ways about it: the league went from five postseason teams in 2013-14 to just two this time around. And while postseason bids is a very imperfect way to measure a league, it’s certainly one way to do it.

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2014-15 Southland Post-Mortem

by - Published June 19, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes

Those buying into the overhyped storyline about college basketball being unwatchable this past season could’ve found their antidote if only they watched a little bit more of Stephen F. Austin and the Southland Conference.

SFA ran through the Southland as Coach Brad Underwood led his team to a second consecutive memorable year. The Lumberjacks lost just once in SLC play and ran off 28 wins in 29 games before a cold-shooting performance in the NCAA Tournament kept them from duplicating their feat from a year earlier of scoring a first round victory as a 12 seed in the Big Dance.

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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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Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

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