Today’s Games[7 p.m.] Morehead State at UAB (American Sports Network)
This is an interesting game: more on UAB’s side than Morehead State’s side. It’s the first major sporting event on campus since the school decided to cut the football program, and it’s been a pretty emotional week on campus as a response. While that’s what Birmingham media will be covering, there’s also a game to be had against a Blazers team probably pretty happy to be back from the Bahamas. (Don’t hear that often) The Blazers played three straight top-25 teams, and lost all three, so hosting Morehead State is like a vacation…from their vacation.
UAB is led in scoring by senior forward and preseason All-Conference USA team member C.J. Washington, who averages 10.4 points per game. Blazer redshirt junior guard Robert Brown averages 10 points per game and has scored in double figures in four of the last five contests. They also feature a solid point guard in freshman Nick Norton, who currently leads the C-USA in assist/turnover ratio.
Morehead State continues to be a bit banged up, but the window for them to escape being a 15-seed should they make the NCAA tournament is growing slim. While they’ve played good teams tight — they’re not winning, which ultimately matters when the selection committee comes calling in March.
Also, you may notice tonight that each UAB player will wear different colored shoes — a green shoe and a white shoe. The shoe combination is part of the Blazers Committed To A Cure initiative, which was created by coach Jerod Haase and his staff to raise awareness for pediatric cancer.
The NCAA’s official RPI was updated this morning, and you might not guess who is No. 2 in the league right now.
(I mean, if you read us regularly you probably should. But you still might not.)
(Hint: they’re winning on the road)
(Seriously, if you don’t know it yet, just read):
- Belmont (91st)
- UT Martin (111th)
- EKU (156th)
- Murray St. (177th) — it’s the schedule, folks
- Morehead St. (183rd)
- Jacksonville State (220th)
- Tennessee Tech (280th) — again, it’s the schedule. (In a less good way)
- Eastern Illinois (286th)
- Austin Peay (304th)
- Southeast Missouri (309th) — it’s the schedule again. (Read below)
- SIUE (322nd)
- Tennessee State (342nd) — out of 349
The RPI was adjusted awhile back to boost teams that win on the road. The Skyhawks are winning on the road. (3-2 this year) Think UT Martin is a threat to the West now?
The only one that really surprised me was how far Southeast Missouri was down the list, at 309th, but when I looked back at their schedule, I understood a bit. Here’s where their Division I opponents sit in the RPI right now:
- Loyola Marymount (277th) – a loss
- San Diego (188th) – a loss
- Central Arkansas (338th) – a road win
- Bowling Green (93rd) – loss
So, their lone Division I win (which is all that the RPI factors) is against the 12th worst team in the nation right now, and they lost to a team with a 250+ RPI. That’s why the Redhawks are so low on the list. Remember – the RPI doesn’t take into account score (i.e close losses) or injuries. Just the end result: Wins or losses.
As far as NCAA tournament seeding goes, only Belmont and UT Martin would be likely to be ranked above a 15-seed if the tournament started today.
Here’s a stat a Cougars fan brought to my attention this morning: SIUE missed four shots in the second half last night at home against SIU…and lost by a dozen. In his post game comments, head coach Lennox Forrester said he though his team had some “jitters.”
Jitters? Really? That’s what we’re going to say about a first half where your team was nearly outscored by a single player?
I think SIUE has talent, but I wonder a bit about toughness, mental and otherwise. They don’t play physical basketball, don’t get to the free-throw line, don’t pull down rebounds — these are things you have to do to win in basketball. Forrester agreed:
“I challenged our guys to bring toughness to it, Forrester said, “and I didn’t think we brought enough toughness.”
I’m hoping, in the locker room, Forrester is talking much more about toughness, and much less about “jitters.”