Thursday night basketball resumed in the bubble and the 36,000th visitor went to our free Value Add Basketball Game. In that light, we shifted for a night from our Statis-Pro basketball league. Using these player cards we already crowned the 2020 NCAA champ (Creighton defeated Duke in title game in tournament in which 37% of games were upsets - better seed went 40-23). The all-time Champ (Bill Walton's UCLA, which did crush Creighton in a match of the two champions).
With 20 teams left, the A10, ACC, Amer, B10, B12, BE, BSth, CUSA, MVC, SEC, SC and Sum Conferences (using www.kenpom.com abbreviations) Are All Alive
Game Results - NIT that might have been (most recent game on top, so far 31% upsets, better seed 11-5). The accounts of each game with a score sheet appear below the bracket.
We did set up an NIT tournament, but had only played one game (Oklahoma State defeated South Alabama). Obviously the marque teams all played in our NCAA, so looking back at our bracket we decided to play the most evenly matched game. We seeded the 32 teams from 1 to 32 rather than four regions of 8 seeds, and that left 17-seed St. John's visiting 16-seed UConn.
Unlike our NCAA tournaments played at neutral sites, we use the home advantage for NIT games until the Final Four. The home advantage in the game is that the home team can always flip a dice roll of 36 and 66 to their advantage. In this traditional Big East match-up (UConn will return to the Big East this year) the Huskies did get three calls - all missed four calls that hurt St. John's. Caraher misses shot with 3:07 to go in the first half, Heron drove to the hoop with 15:01 to play and missed with a no call, and finally in overtime Dunn tried to break a 76-76 tie and missed after a no call.
11-Minnesota 75, 22-Furman 66.
Point guards Jordan Lyons (Furman) and Marcus Carr (Minnesota) tied for the 4th best scoring games of the first round (23 each) to keep it close, until Minnesota www.valueaddbasketball.com All-American Daniel Oturu took over the final 12 minutes. Oturu's 5 blocked shots were the second best total of the opening round, and one of them with 11:22 to go kept Minnesota within 48-46, and then he dunked on consecutive trips to make it 50-48. Oturu also grabbed 14 rebounds, the second most of anyone in the opening round, and added 18 points for the most dominant overall performance of the 16 opening round games.
6-Northern Iowa 66, 27-Louisiana Tech 61
Northern Iowa never trailed, but when La Tech's DaQuan Bracket scored to tie it 61-61 with 1:30 to play it was up to Isaiah Brown to score his first points of the game. Brown drew a foul going up for a 3-pointer and was fouled, hitting 2 of 3 free throws for the 63-61 lead. AJ Green hit a 3-pointer on Northern Iowa's next trip to wrap up his game-high 17 point game and the 66-61 win. Northern Iowa did get a bit of a home job with four missed calls going their way - one more than the average three more calls in a game.
12-Mississippi St. 69, 21-Tulsa 54.
Reggie Perry, a www.valueaddbasketball.com SEC All-Star, led a 7-man rotation with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Tulsa's balanced attack with four players in the top 10 percent of all players actually won the turnover battle (14-17) and drew many more fouls (11-19) but simply could not hit their shots in this night - falling behind by 20 on a Reggie Perry dunk with 9:31 to play, 35-55, and never threatening.
5-Rhode Island 79, 23-Radford 69.
In a match-up of 2 of the best point guards in the country, Radford's Carlick Jones (21 points, 9 fouls drawn) gave Fatts Russell (17 points, 5 steals) and his Rhode Island teammates all they could handle. Radford led 50-49 with 10:48 to play, however Rhode Island's mismatch edge at the other 4 positions - as the shooting guard (Jeff Dowton 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals) and small forward (21 points, 9 rebounds) helped them pull away for the double digit win.
14-Tennessee 62, 19-South Carolina 58
During the real season included two defensive slugfests with the home teams winning - Tennessee 56-55, then South Carolina won 63-61. At the end of the season www.kenpom.com ranked Tennessee 68th and South Carolina 69th and overall we gave Tennessee the home court advantage based on an NIT 14-seed vs. a 19-seed for South Carolina in our Value Add NIT rematch. Once again, the home team won a defensive battle with Tennessee taking the game 62-58. Tournaments do not actually allow conference foes to meet in opening rounds but we simply seeded 1 to 32 and went straight by the match-ups. In the defensive battle, the Vols dominated inside for a 44-37 rebound edge that included Yves Pons (12 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks) and John Fulkerson (8 points, 13 rebounds).
29-South Dakota State 85, 4-St. Louis 83 (OT) - 68-68 to end of regulation.
The Summit League's South Dakota State overcame a 14-point deficit, 24 fouls including both forwards fouling out and a monster performance by Jordan Goodwin (29 points, 10 rebounds) to stun St. Louis in overtime. Center Matt Dentlinger scored only 4 points but blocked his 5th shot to prevent a game-winner at the buzzer to force overtime. Douglas Wilson then scored 8 of his 21 points in overtime before fouling out as they scored 17 in overtime for the win.
3-Arkansas 75, 30-Murray State 70
Murray State's Anthony Smith drew 9 fouls including fouling out 3-point specialist Isaiah Joe
To make it 53-46 Murray State. The Racers looked ready to follow-up on their real 1st round NCAA upset of Marquette. However last year Ja Morant was the best player in the court, and as good as Murray State's Tevin Brown (10 points, 7 rebounds), Arkansas' Jimmy Whitt (16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals) was top www.valueaddbasketball.com player on the court and he took over in the final 2 minutes to avoid the upset. Whitt had 2 steals and dunk to lead a 6-0 run to end the game with the 75-70 win.
23-Wright St. 72, 10-Memphis 62: Memphis started the season with potentially the top player in the country in Wiseman and national title hopes, but ended with a 42-point loss to Cincinnati that would have left then in the NIT. Switching to our simulated NIT, it continued downhill with a 1st round NIT loss as the offense could not click despite 13 steals leading to many fast break chances. The Horizon League's Wright State continued Butler's tradition of upsets, dominating underneath with power forward Bill Wampler (18 points, 7 resbounds) and center Loudon Love (15,7) holding their two counterparts to a total of 15 and 11. Love is one of the few players who gets the ball on 3 of 8 die rolls when on the court, a 5,7 or 8.
9-Texas 84, 24-Colgate 82: Texas coach Shaka Smart will only host his former team VCU in the 2nd round because his star Jericho Sims took over in the final minutes including the game-winner buzzer beater. The 44 possessions we play included 13 lead changes and 8 ties. Sims scored with 3:30 left to give Texas a 71-70 lead, then to tie it 73-73 on the next trip, then grabbed an offensive rebound and fed Courtney Ramsey to make it 75-73, then scored again for 77-75 lead for 6 points, and offensive rebound and assist in four trips. When Will Raymond capped his 27-point game with a game-tying 3-pointer to make it 82-82, before Sims beat the buzzer for the 84-82 win.
20-Alabama 77, 13-Notre Dame 68. Alabama overcame 18 turnovers and a bit of a home job at South Bend with a barrage of 3-pointers to advance. On roughly 100 rolls of the 4 dice per game (44 possessions per team plus some offensive rebounds and extra possessions for steals-fast breaks or fouls in the last 9 possessions) there is a one in 36 chance of a bad call favoring the home team that can slip a roll of 36 (foul) and 66 (non foul). The refs missed four Notre Dame fouls, one more bad call than average. However, Bama hit four 3-pointers in their first 6 possessions to take a 32-20 lead and they never trailed behind double digits from their trio of stars in PG Kira Lewis (16 points), SG Jaden Shacelford (18) and John Petty (12).
15-Syracuse 73, 18-Georgetown 66. John Thompson's stunning upset in the final game played Syracuse in Syracuse's Manley Field House is so famous that if you start to type Manley Field House in google it will add the rest of Thompson's quote "Manley Field House is Officially Closed." Every game Georgetown trip to the currrent Carrier Dome brings back that memory, but on this game the strength of Syracuse forwards - superstar Elijah Hughes (12 points, 8 rebounds) and Marek Dolezaj (15, 8) dominated their Hoya rivals 27-8 in points and 16-11 in rebounds. With the promising backcourt of James Akinjo and Mac McClung play limited minutes each game based on their injury plagued season the backcourt did not have enough as Syracuse point guard Joseph Girard scored 20 points. Though it was close the whole way, Syracuse never trailed.
25-VCU 76, 8-Stanford 61
The first big upset of the 2020 NIT started at Stanford with a 13-0 blitz from VCU that made it 33-20 out of the gate. In a match-up of star shooting guards, VCU's De'Riante Jenkins stole the ball on two of the first four trips, and on two others back-up Corey Douglas grabbed offensive rebounds and on one of the steals Douglas completed a 4-point play off the steal from Jenkins.
The other match-up of big stars featred the two centers with similar last names, as VCU's Marcus Santos-Silva (9 points, 15 rebounds) dominated the boards while Stanford's Oscar da Silva (10 points, 7 rebounds) was strong with four blocked shots. However, the surprise games by Douglas (9 points, 3 rebounds in limited time) and small forward Issac Vann (19 points, 7 rebounds).
The upset brought back memories of VCU's team that Jay Bilas said should never have been invited to the tournament, but made the miracle run to the Final Four. That team is in our great teams in the game, featuring Bradford Burgess. When Burgess played for my alma mater, Benedictine High School, I once watched him help win a battle of two of Virginia's Top 10 teams. Our Cadets beat TC Williams, the inspiration for the movie Remember the Titans, and Burgess teammate and future NBA player Ed Davis had my favorite stat line ever - 30 points, 20 rebounds, 10 blocked shots.
2-Purdue 74, 31-Merrimack 53
After 2 NIT games that came down to final shots, Purdue dominated as expected behind 7-foot-3 Matt Haarms (12 pts, 9 rebounds, 4 blocks) and the sharp-shooting of Sasha Stefanovic (22 points).
The game was not within 10 points after Stefanovic hit a 3-pointer to make it 44-34 with 16:51 to play. Jurvaris (16 points, 5 steals) led Merrimack, the biggest surprise team of their first season moving up from Division II to Division I and winning the NEC after being picked to finish 11th of 11 teams.
Here are the top players in the NEC.
1-Xavier 79, 32-North Florida 77
North Florida's Ivan Gandia-Rosa, who just missed Atlantic Sun Value Add Player of the year, came within seconds of upsetting 1-seed Xavier. Having already drawn 5 fouls on Paul Scrugg's, he hit 2 free throws finish with 28 points and lead 77-76 with 16 seconds to play.
Quintin Gooden missed a potential game-winner for Xavier, but Tyrique Jones grabbed the offensive rebound (game-high 9), fed the ball to Naji Marshall who scored the game-winner despite being fouled and hit the free throw to finish with a team-high 15 and deliver the 79-77 win.
Here are the top rated ASun players in the past season.
17-St. John's 86, 16-UConn 83 (74-74 end of regulation)
Here is a picture of the score sheet and five starters for each team, except we accidentally put Mustapha Heron of St. John's on the second line of players even though he is a starter. You can click on and blow up the photo to see the running score and the stats marked for each players points, rebounds, steals, turnovers, blocks and fouls:
The team's players all now come on one sheet so you can cut them into 10 cards or just keep the sheet together.
The fact that St. John's even forced overtime was amazing, since UConn's Christian Vital (19 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals) dominated for a stretch - on three straight trips hitting a 3-pointer, getting an offensive rebound and kicking out to Gilbert for a 3-pointer and then coming up with a steal and fast break dunk to complete an 8-0 run to go from down 32-33 to up 40-32.
With 6-foot-11 Carlton dominating (12 points and 12 rebounds) dominating the offensive boards against the smaller St. John's, UConn maintained the lead and led 60-50 with just 5 minutes to play.
However, St. John's then did one they do best, turning UConn over down the stretch. While the lack of height hurt until that point, center Champagnie had 6 steals en route to a team 16-8 edge in steals with several in the last 5 minutes. Figueroa hit two 3-pointers en route to his game high 23 points and Willams scored with 16 seconds left to close the amazing 24-14 run in the final 5 minutes to send the game into overtime 74-74.
With 1:30 left, St. John's had a 4-point trip when Dunn stole the ball and scored on the fast break while being fouled, then missed the free throw by Champagnie who put it in to cut the score to 71-65.
Dunn and Figueroa took over in OT to advance St. John's 86-83 to face the winner of 1-seed Xavier vs. 32-seed North Florida.
Here is the complete bracket, followed by the breakdown of the one NIT game we played before the break.
NIT Games with Home Court Advantage
7-Oklahoma State 70, 26-South Alabama 58
South Alabama (USA) dominated the boards to lead 47-42 with 10:45 (18 possessions) to play.
However, USA big men Trhae Mitchell and later Josh Ajayi (8 points, 9 rebounds) fouled out to let Cameron McGriff (18 points, 8 rebounds) take over inside down the stretch to lead Oklahoma State's 70-68 NIT 1st round win.
Since our NCAA tournament was played using neutral court rules, this was the first time a game was played as a home game, and two calls hurt USA. The refs missed a call (36 roll) that prevented Mitchell from hitting a 3-pointer and instead caused a turnover. Later Mitchell's 5th foul was on a good call but one that would have been overlooked (also 36 roll) if South Alabama were at home.
From the time Mitchell fouled out USA was outscored 28-11 in part because of several OSU baskets on shots Mitchell would have blocked if still in the game.
With the other two front line players fouled out, USA's Chad Lott (16 points) kept it close for a while, but OSU's point guard Isaac Likelele (9 points, 5 steals) helped OSU win the turnover battle 16 to 8.
The following photo is of the first game played with the team sheets rather than the bigger playing cards. All 10 players on each team are on their sheet, though in the photo we just show the 5.starters across the top and the scoresheet at the top.
Top points; Goodwin (St. Louis) 29, Gamdia-Rosa (N.Florida) 28, Rayman (Colgate) 27, Figueroa (St. John's) 23, Stefanovic (Purdue) 22.
Top Rebounds; Santos-Silva (VCU) 15, Mooney (ND) 13, Fulkerson (Tennessee) 13, French (St. Louis) 12, Holland (Radford) 12.
Top Steals; Champagnie (St. John's ) 6, Likekel (OK St.) 5, Hayes (Merrimack) 5, Jenkins (VCU) 5, Lomax (Memphis ) 5, Russell (Rhode Island) 5.
Top Blocks; Sidibe (Syracuse) 6, Dentlinger (South Dakota State) 5, Langevine (Rhode Island) 5, Haarms (Purdue ) 4, da Silva (Stanford ) 4, Pons (Tennessee) 4.
Biggest Margin - Purdue +21 vs Merrimack 74-53, runner-up VCU and Mississippi State +15 each
Best offense - Texas 84-82 in regulation past Colgate, runner-up Colgate in same game.
Best Defense - Purdue 74-53 vs Merrimack, runner-up Mississippi State vs Tulsa 69-54