Big West: Pacific 73, Utah State 66 (2OT) (story|box) - If only this game was televised, so I could pass out burned DVD copies to all the people who blather on at me about how boring mid-major basketball is. This battle between last year's co-regular season champions had it all: lead changes, scoring spurts, screaming fans, and serious tourney seeding implications. Pacific (11-2, 6-0 BWC) held the nation's field goal percentage leaders to 33%, but the Aggies (11-4, 2-2 BWC) had the rebounding edge and hung in with timely runs. The Tigers took control at the beginning of the second overtime, sparked by a thundering Christian Maraker drive-and-dunk, and he pulled down all of nine rebounds after regulation time had ended. Pacific, a program that finally can afford air conditioning, has won 19 straight Big West basketball contests.Metro Atlantic: Manhattan 78, Niagara 72 (story) - Spectator sports require storylines and patterns, otherwise it would be a lot harder for us to stay interested (remember that time you tried to get into indoor lacrosse?). Anyway, here's one: Manhattan always beats Niagara. Even though the loaded Purple Eagles (9-5, 4-2 MAAC) are making a strong run at their first Tournament appearance in 25 years after the graduation of the Jaspers' All-Everything Luis Flores, Manhattan still has a little spice left. Senior small forward Peter Mulligan was the hero, scoring 32 points and keeping big Juan Mendez contained. Manhattan has won seven straight against Niagara, including last year's down-to-the-wire MAAC title game.
Kangaroos are supposed to bounce, but this is ridiculous. Since going oh-for-2004 against steep competition, Missouri-Kansas City
has won five in a row and is 4-0 in conference. They averaged 62 points during their seven-game losing streak, but have been scoring at an 80 ppg clip since "Auld Lang Syne." And they aren't just making home-cooking out of Mid-Con bottom-feeders or anything. Two of their wins have been roadies against last year's finalists: IUPUI
, and last night's 84-78 victims, Valparaiso
.Ohio Valley: Samford
is off to an unlikely 3-0 start, and they're the boss
at the moment. They knocked off last year's OVC champs Murray State
- a team that has suddenly found itself quite ordinary - at home by eight, thanks to 58% second-half shooting. And this marks my first mention of Tennessee Tech
(7-6, 3-0 OVC) for the year; they're the other surprise undefeated team, crushing Morehead State
at home 63-40. Elsewhere, Eastern Kentucky
(10-4, 2-1 OVC) took the last train to Clarksville and beat Austin Peay
, 67-63. It was Peay's first regular-season conference loss since 2003.Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee State
is stretching its legs a bit, winning on the road last night at Arkansas State
70-68. The victory was their fifth in a row, and they now take the lead in the East division. Over in the West, Denver
and New Orleans
are both 2-0 to start the Sun Belt season. Both won at home: the Pioneers slammed North Texas
79-52, and the Privateers topped New Mexico State
In Niagara's loss last night, Juan Mendez scored 20 to become the highest-scoring Canadian ever
in college basketball. He topped the mark set by one Michael Meeks, who had tallied 1,827 in the mid-Ninetues for Canisius
. Where is he now? Tris Reggio Calabria
. It just so happens that he was shelved for the rest of the Italian League A season last week for a herniated disc. Meeks' basketball journey
has taken him to Turkey, Finland, Russia, France and Croatia.
Joe Gergen of New York's Newsday
specializes in feel-good stories, having done pieces on Longwood
recently. This week, he profiles Vermont
, and pours the warm maple syrup on thick and gooey
. Lots of other Division I teams play in gyms with pull-down bleachers, but they don't have Taylor Coppenrath.
The bell tolled for IUPU-Fort Wayne
coach Doug Noll. He was fired after running a 40-119 record in five years roaming the sidelines for the homeless Mastodons, including a 3-13 record this year that features a current seven-game skid. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
's Ben Smith cries foul
- he says the independent D1 school's administration simply sold out a good man who had worked hard in a thankless job, just so the school might get to work on appearing sexier to a conference. Typifying IPFW's new-found Urge
is this quote from AD Mark Pope:
...I'm not gonna forget reality, and the reality is men's basketball is overpoweringly the dominant force when it comes to conferences and conference affiliation. MenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s basketball drives it and it drives it solely because of the NCAA/CBS contract.
We poke fun at bad teams quite often here at The Mid-Majority, and I will always reserve the right to criticize any athletic department that maintains a basketball squad solely to balance the budget with December guarantee-game checks. But I draw the line at programs that humbly go about their business with an academics-first approach, take their lumps on the court, and exult in the small successes they achieve. I agree with Ben, this sucks.
Matt Doherty goes all boilerplate
on St. Mary's
. Anyone who leads with "You'd have to look hard to find a more compelling story in college basketball..." should really stick to what they know best (in this case, lights-out recruiting. Yo Matt, there's this new job opening out in Indiana...).
Off the court and off-topic, Doug Noll wasn't the only one out of a job yesterday. The universally beloved recurring character and general unifying force for this site, The Official Wife Of The Mid-Majority™, was cut down in the crossfire of office politics at her upscale accounting firm, and received a paid taxi ride home. (She quickly received another offer, so it's all good.) What does this mean for you? A slight increase in saucy language, perhaps, as I don't have to worry anymore about her company's NetNanny blocking this site. But for now, she's still a little shaken up and has regressed into a world of Chinese food, red wine, and Alias
DVD's. Please consider sending along any sincere best wishes to firstname.lastname@example.org
, it would really cheer her up.