Indiana State 62, Birmingham Southern 55(story) - The prohibitive favorites in the Big South - and champions of the recent Marist Classic - went to Indiana and got beat by the worst team in the Valley. The Sycamores (or the "Trees" if you're cool) did the Panthers in with stingy perimeter defense, limiting a team that relies heavily on the trey to "only" 17 three-point attempts. Birmingham cut into a 20-point lead by pressing late, but it was not enough.
Ohio 64, Butler 58 - I went to a school with a 10-week trimester system, and people thought I was pretty weird. Ohio is on quarters, and they pay for a Thanksgiving-to-New-Year's break with a tiny one-month summer vacation in July. Their late-arriving hoopsters, the consensus last-place pick in the MAC East, are done with Fall finals and feeling fresh. Their second victim: Horizon League middletons Butler, who were put away early with a first-half Bobcat burst.
While on the topic of Butler, College Hoops Netvisits historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, longtime and erstwhile home of the famous Indiana state high school basketball tournament.
I attended last year, and as expected, the atmosphere was positively electric. But for the 2004 installment, they've hiked the bleacher prices from $45 for all three games to a whopping $65, and yes - good seats are still available. All this despite the fact that the only team worth paying a Jackson to see last year was St. Joseph's - a team that's now down due to NBA departures - and a quick scan shows that the Big Five will likely be shut out of the NCAA's altogether come March. Is my drive for 100 games so brazen that I'd pay ridiculous sums to see ten-dollar basketball? No. (But I'll be your friend forever if you comp me in. Bruiser, Fran, John, Philly Phil, Dr. G... gimme a ring, babe.)
The C-USA's Southern Mississippi will be appearing in the Hawkeye Challenge this weekend, which means that Eagles coach Larry Eustachy will be returning to the state where he once was the highest-paid public employee. Ever since he was fired for getting drunk with scantily-clad coeds at Big XII frat parties, the disgraced Iowa State coach's story has offered inspiring proof that no matter how bad you screw things up for yourself, you should never give up hope. There's always the chance that you can rebuild your life somewhere else, and you might even have hack columnists publishing treacly love letters in your honor. Please play an MP3 of gentle piano music while you read this one.
Unlike Eustachy, Dave Magarity is certainly a sympathetic figure. So much so that many forgave him for slowly running the Marist program into the ground over the past decade. In fact, the Metro Atlantic repaid his years of service this fall by making him head of basketball operations for the whole conference. He's also a pioneer of sorts - he was one of the first coaches to have his own website. But there's one thing he is definitely not: a poet.