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2014-15 OVC Post-Mortem

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

Undeniably, the story of the Ohio Valley Conference in 2014-15 and for much of the past 30 years starts with the Murray State Racers. The story of OVC basketball at the moment, though, currently features equal parts of the Racers and the Belmont Bruins.

Murray State was one of the most-discussed teams in the country by the end of this season after a blazing run through the regular season. The Racers shook off a shaky start to win 25 straight games, gained a spot in the national rankings and were a hot topic for their at-large candidacy for the NCAA Tournament.

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How the conferences shape up as we hit 2015

by - Published January 1, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes

Non-conference play is basically done at this point. A handful of games remain for many teams, and we’ll see a non-conference game or two sprinkled in between conference games over the next couple of months, but conference play beckons. Several have already started, with the West Coast Conference getting jump on the rest of the country this past Saturday and Monday. For two months, we’ve had a look at teams to get an idea of who they are. They have shown us something thus far.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at how the conference races shape up based on what we’ve seen in non-conference play.

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The Morning Dish – Saturday, December 20, 2014

by - Published December 20, 2014 in The Morning Dish

Every year, there’s one or two game results that are beyond head-scratchers. They may be proof of a team being capable of an off night, or perhaps a harbinger of things to come. They can also be an example of what the winning team is capable of, even though that doesn’t tend to get as much attention.

In Miami’s case, their hope is that it’s not the first of those three.

An Eastern Kentucky team that has shown some promise during non-conference play broke through in a big way on Friday night, never trailing en route to a 72-44 thumping of Miami. The bottom line result is one thing; a 28-point margin? That raises questions.

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2013-14 OVC Post-Mortem

by - Published May 21, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes

Even though the conference is split by divisions, the Ohio Valley Conference was a distinct three-team race last year. And though just one of those three made the NCAA Tournament, it can be said that all three ended their seasons on a high note.

Eastern Kentucky won the OVC Tournament and the league’s automatic NCAA bid, as the Colonels’ veteran team knocked off the top two seeds. The season was a success for EKU, a perimeter-oriented team that was expected to be around the top of the OVC, maximized its talent and gave Kansas a serious run in the NCAAs.

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How the conferences shake out as 2014 approaches

by - Published December 31, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

Non-conference play is just about over at this point. Conference games are ready to take over the rest of the slate, with a few having an “opening day” of sorts, including the Big East with its well-publicized day of five games on Tuesday. A few have already had early conference games, with the West Coast Conference having its opening day on Saturday.

How are the conferences shaping up? Which ones look like we thought and which ones look nothing like what we thought before the season? Here is a look at all 32 conferences as conference play beckons.

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Quick hitters from the past weekend of tournaments

by - Published November 27, 2013 in Columns

The past weekend was quite a stretch with some early-season tournaments, and now we’re into another week full of them. It’s a fun time of the year as we form some early impressions of many teams and some pick up wins that can have shelf life later in the season.

Here are some quick hitters coming out of the weekend:

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How the conferences shake out as 2013 approaches

by - Published December 28, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

Non-conference play is almost over, and it has been quite a stretch. We’ve learned a good deal about a lot of teams, while some are still a mystery for various reasons – injuries, suspensions, ineligibility and a light schedule are all possible reasons. In addition, a few conferences have already seen a game or two mixed in with the non-conference schedule.

Conference play is right around the corner, and while a non-conference resume doesn’t tell the whole story, it does shed some light on teams and conferences. In conference play, there is more familiarity since teams play each other every year, although the changing landscape is starting to diminish that factor a bit. That’s one reason why we see some teams put forth a very good non-conference showing, including some good wins, then go on to have a mediocre showing in conference play.

With that in mind, here’s a look at how every conference in America shapes up.

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Experienced Murray State shows they can overcome adversity

by - Published November 17, 2012 in Columns

CHARLESTON, S.C. – You can choose to look at Murray State’s 72-67 semifinal win over St. John’s as an instance of youth being served, experience winning out, or some other cliché. While those things apply to a degree, the big story should probably be something Murray State head coach Steve Prohm talked about after the game: resilience.

Murray State has been nothing if not resilient thus far this season. Before the games even started, they had to suspend projected starting guard Zay Jackson for the season after he was arrested and charged with striking two people with his car in a store parking lot following an altercation. That was sure to leave even more on the shoulders of Isaiah Canaan, the All-American guard who bypassed the NBA Draft for another season of college. But it also meant that other players needed to improve to take advantage of the attention opponents will give to Canaan, and thus far that seems to be happening.

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Monson’s 49ers reap the rewards of a tough schedule

by - Published January 24, 2012 in Full Court Sprints

If any team could claim to be battle-tested heading into conference play, it had to be Long Beach State.

The 49ers loaded up their nonconference slate with the likes of Kansas, North Carolina, San Diego State, Louisville and Xavier. The team struggled through many of those games, ending up with a 7-6 record heading into Big West play.

But don’t be fooled. The 49ers were more than competitive against the big boys, with single-digit losses on the road at San Diego State, Kansas and North Carolina. Plus, the 49ers beat Pittsburgh, Xavier and Auburn. None of those are particularly outstanding — the Xavier win came during the Musketeers’ tailspin following the brawl against Cincinnati. But in short, Dan Monson’s team learned how to win and how to believe in itself.

This team has taken that lesson and applied it well through the first seven games of Big West play. Long Beach State sits atop the conference standings with a 7-0 record, and only Cal Poly stayed within 10 points of the 49ers.

If Long Beach State can continue to plow through the Big West and claim an automatic to the NCAA Tournament, the 49ers should be a popular first-round upset pick. Their lack of hefty wins will prevent the team from earning a seed much higher than a No. 12 or 13 spot. But that just makes this team a sound pick to upset any No. 4 or 5 seed from a major conference on a neutral court.

The benefits of such a tough schedule might not show up in the win-loss columns immediately. But if Long Beach State goes 1-1 or 2-0 during the first weekend of March, that tournament success will be partially due to the team’s preparation early in the season.

We take you coast to coast with news from around the college basketball nation.

Murray State will get back leading rebounder Ivan Aska, who grabs 6.0 rpg and scores 12.6 ppg, for the team’s game against Eastern Illinois Saturday, according to the Associated Press.

Michigan could have big Jon Horford back for the Wolverines’ game against Purdue Tuesday, coach John Beilein told Wolverine Nation’s Chantel Jennings for ESPN.com. Horford has been out with a stress fracture since early December.

Arguably the most intense and spite-filled rivalry in the ACC, Maryland and Duke will clash for the first time this season Wednesday night in College Park. And the Terrapins will likely have freshman 7-footer Alex Len, even though he twisted his ankle during the Terps’ loss at Temple last weekend, according to the Washington Post’s Liz Clarke.

Of course, that’s no disrespect to the North Carolina vs. Duke rivalry. And this year, coach Roy Williams won’t have his best defender, Dexter Strickland, who tore his ACL in the team’s win against Virginia Tech Thursday, according ESPN.com’s Robbi Pickeral.

Arkansas coach Mike Anderson is considering adding a hometown hero to the Razorbacks squad, according to the Associated Press. Former Oklahoma State guard Fred Gulley has enrolled at Arkansas and plans to play for Anderson as a walk-on or scholarship player. He was a star high school basketball player in Arkansas before leaving the state to play for the Cowboys.

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan railed against the rule that allows graduated players to transfer and play immediately during a news conference Monday, writes Benjamin Worgull for Badger Nation.com.

Undefeated teams remain focused on the task at hand

by - Published January 20, 2012 in Full Court Sprints

As we approach the end of January, we still have two undefeated teams out there: Syracuse and Murray State.

The Orange and Racers will take their undefeated records on the road this weekend as Syracuse visits Notre Dame and Murray State faces SIU-Edwardsville. In both games, the undefeated squads should win. But that word “should” is a funny thing.

In conference play, you just never know when a rival will step up and pull off a major upset. Look at Florida State, which got amped for the team’s home game against North Carolina last weekend. Given the Seminoles’ defensive prowess, it wouldn’t have been a shock if they kept the game close or even eked out a slim victory. But a 30-point trouncing of a top five team? That’s ridiculous.

So as Syracuse and Murray State continue to plow through their schedules, plenty of onlookers will speculate about whether these teams can finish the regular season with a perfect record. Murray State will get a bunch of speculation because the Racers are head and shoulders above the rest of their Ohio Valley Conference competition. In the Big East, the general consensus is at least one team will knock off the Orange. But in a rebuilding year for many teams in the conference, it’s not unreasonable to think that Syracuse will be a favorite in every game the team plays.

But there we go again with the speculation. I can almost guarantee you that coaches Jim Boeheim and Steve Prohm aren’t looking further than Saturday’s game. And nor should they lest the Fighting Irish or Cougars come up with a big game to protect their home court like the Seminoles did against North Carolina last weekend.

Here are some of the big games on tap for this weekend.


  • Missouri at Baylor
  • Purdue at Michigan State
  • Florida State at Duke
  • Syracuse at Notre Dame
  • Cincinnati at West Virginia
  • Alabama at Kentucky
  • Mississippi State at Vanderbilt
  • Xavier at Dayton
  • Marshall at Southern Miss
  • Kansas at Texas
  • New Mexico at UNLV
  • Murray State at SIU-Edwardsville
  • Rutgers at Georgetown
  • Maryland at Temple
  • Kansas State at Oklahoma State
  • Stanford at Washington
  • Arizona at Colorado
  • Old Dominion at VCU
  • Long Beach State at UC Santa Barbara


  • Virginia Tech at Virginia
  • NC State at Miami
  • Wisconsin at Illinois
  • Milwaukee at Cleveland State
  • Boston U. at Hartford

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Big East looks the same in some ways and quite different in other ways

November 13, 2015 by


As year three of the new-look Big East tips off, the conference looks the same in a few ways. In other ways, though, it’s not the same, and much is to be determined.

Though a contender, Purdue will need to earn more relevance

October 15, 2015 by


Purdue has the makings of a contender in Big Ten play, but you wouldn’t know it from the conversations about the conference teams. The Boilermakers will have to earn their way to relevance despite their potential to contend.

New challenge ahead for Harvard

October 6, 2015 by


If Harvard’s great run through the Ivy League is to continue in 2015-16, the Crimson will have to get through quite a challenge this time around with a team that looks a little different.

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Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed listening to COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT, a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, joined by former St. John's and George Washington head coach Mike Jarvis, former Fairfield head coach Terry O'Connor and many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

Here are links to the shows:

March 15, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

March 22, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

March 29, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

April 5, 2015 - First hour | Second hour | Third hour

Recruiting Coverage

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by


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.

2015 Hoopville Spring Finale Notes

June 30, 2015 by


We look back at more from the 2015 Hoopville Spring Finale, where some of the championship games were worth the price of admission.

A big championship day for a local program at the Hoopville Spring Finale

June 23, 2015 by


The 2015 Hoopville Spring Finale saw a number of good championship games on Sunday to close it out, and we start our look back with a look at those games.

Player highlights from Mass Elite and Boston Warriors college showcase

June 4, 2015 by


Two big programs, Mass Elite and the Boston Warriors, got together once again on a college showcase for many of their high school players. We look at some who stood out on the evening.

2015 Massachusetts AAU Tournament notes

June 3, 2015 by


Massachusetts held its AAU championship rounds in a few age groups and its entire tournament for the oldest age group this weekend. We take a look at some of Sunday’s action in Foxboro.