Mountain West Basketball Tournament - Texas Christian v Colorado State

Colorado State loses, but should be safely in NCAA tourney

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Colorado State entered the Mountain West tournament in good shape with regards to reaching the NCAA tournament. And after the Rams’ 79-69 loss to No. 18 San Diego State in tonight’s semifinals that thought shouldn’t change for Tim Miles’ team, as their resume is good enough to keep them in the field.

Through Thursday’s action, which included their 81-60 win over TCU, the Rams (20-11) had an RPI of 21 and an overall strength of schedule of 5 (non-conference SOS: 27). All three of Colorado State’s three RPI Top 50 wins came at the expense of the top three teams in the Mountain West, and their worst loss this season came at Boise State.

This season has been a surprising one for those who looked at CSU’s roster and wondered what they would do to account for the loss of starting forwards Travis Franklin and Andy Ogide. Simply put, interior players who would be considered to be small in any conference have stepped up.

Pierce Hornung, a tough as nails forward who provides all the intangibles for this team, and Will Bell have worked hard night in and night out. Of course not having Greg Smith tonight due to an ankle injury didn’t help as SDSU out-rebounded the Rams 38-25, and his status going forward will be something to keep an eye on.

But they hung with the top seed for much of the night, and their refusal to lie down has served them well all season long. Add in a talented backcourt led by Wes Eikmeier and Dorian Green with Jesse Carr coming off the bench and you’ve got a team that’s not only earned their way into the Big Dance but won’t go gently into the night once they get there.

Don’t make the mistake of mixing Colorado State in with the bubble teams hoping for help heading into Selection Sunday. They’ve done what they had to do.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?