Saint Mary's at Kent State
Memorial Athletics Center - Kent, OH
7:00 PM EST
It was the BracketBuster game
few stayed up to watch, but its effects had a resounding impact on the way the 2008 bracket was shaped. Al Fisher (28 points) helped propel the Golden Flashes over the nationally ranked Gaels on their own court by eight, and by the time Hoops Nation woke up Sunday morning, the mid-major landscape was fundamentally altered. Kent would later steal the national ranking, and both would go on to the NCAA Tournament with strong seeds -- Kent a nine, St. Mary's a 10. Both would be flushed from the event by wide margins.
And now, both are back with strong return credentials. Because of ESPN's rules, they have to replay the matchup again out East, allowing us a snapshot preview of the relative strength of their current standing. Nearly all of the key players from the Feb. 23 game are back for this one -- Fisher
, the reigning MAC player of the year who leads the team with 19 ppg and did this
against Saint Louis last month, and Saint Mary's star Patty Mills
, who played well for the Australian Olympic team over the summer and is keeping the momentum going. He's taking a lot of shots, but he's scoring 20.6 ppg.
But don't forget that the one who kept the Gaels in that particular ballgame was not Mills, but Diamon Simpson
. Lost in the BracketBusting hype was that the 6-7 non-Australian (he's from Hayward, CA) was the stat-stuffing star, registering a 24-point, 15-rebound performance. So far this season, he's notched a pair of dub-dubs and could likely have another one tonight if he can take advantage of Kent's very young front line. If that happens, it'll be up to Fisher and Chris Singletary
(14.8 ppg, 45.7 percent shooting) to fill it up from the outside.Basketball State Preview/Box