Matt Roth

Matt Roth, a victim of Indiana’s scholarship numbers?

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Indiana’s scholarship situation has worked itself out, and there will be plenty of people who will have their stomachs turn over as a result of how it played out.

Heading into this summer, Indiana had 15 scholarship players. One of them — Ron Patterson — struggled enough in summer school that he saw his faculty sponsorship get taken away. He was not admitted into the University and will spend next season at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.

Unfortunately, however, that was the only scholarship that opened up. No one went pro. No one was kicked off the team. No one opted to become a walk-on.

Which, unfortunately, means that Matt Roth was left without a spot on the team. From The Hoosier Scoop:

Indiana started classes last week and without him in the picture, the Hoosiers have 13 players on scholarship, which is exactly the NCAA limit. Roth, who already has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, isn’t enrolled for the fall semester, and has accepted the fact that his college basketball career is over.

“School has started, and they’ve got their guys that are there on scholarship,” Roth said. “They’ve got the right number of guys. I’m not enrolled and I’m not on scholarship. I never told them I was ready to move on, but I gotta look out for my best interest now. There’s no sense in hoping. I don’t know if it’s even possible now.”

Roth said he and Crean spoke briefly at camp, but he didn’t want to pull Crean away from coaching the young players at the camp. Roth said even though Crean didn’t directly address his status, he did tell Roth to use him as a reference for any job applications. He said he appreciated that, but it also allowed him to read between the lines.

“You kind of put one and one together there,” Roth said.

That sucks, and I truly do feel bad for Roth here. He graduated school in four years, earning a master’s in the process, but found himself a victim of the numbers game when he still had eligibility remaining. It sucks when you find our you’re not good enough. I wouldn’t wish getting cut on anyone, especially a fifth-year senior.

But I think that, in this situation, the only thing that Tom Crean did wrong was that he strung Roth along. Look, Crean honored Roth’s commitment to Indiana. He gave him four years worth of scholarships, which was enough to get Roth two degrees without crippling student loans, a trip to the Sweet 16, and a chance to experience one of the most memorable moments in recent college basketball history. He participated in Senior Night last year.

But for as good of a shooter as Roth is, would a fifth-year for him really be beneficial for the program? Would it be worth pulling a scholarship from another kid on the roster that hasn’t had the opportunity to get his degree yet?

This is big-time college sports. This isn’t YMCA basketball. If you aren’t good enough, you’ll get cut. And unfortunately, Roth isn’t good enough.

(The painful irony here is that Roth enrolled at Indiana when no one wanted to go there. His career began when Indiana was an afterthought and ends with him being forced to waste his final year of eligibility while watching Indiana make a run at a national title from the stands.)

I just wish that Crean would have told him. I wish that Roth didn’t have to say, “You kind of put one and one together there”, or that he has to admit that he’s going to be scrambling to figure out something to do with himself this year. Because he would have had opportunities. He could have transferred elsewhere and been eligible immediately. I’m sure that there are plenty of schools that would love to add a kid that shot 54.5% from three in the Big Ten.

I know why Crean didn’t. If, say, Victor Oladipo decided he wanted to transfer closer to his home in the DC area, Crean wanted to have a body to take his place. And to be fair, I think that Roth may have heard “We got a real shot at getting you a scholarship this season” when Crean said something like “If anything happens, we’ll call on you to fill the spot.” Desiring an outcome breeds optimism, and I think it’s pretty easy to realize that Roth really wanted that fifth-year as a Hoosier.

I feel for Roth, and, to a point, for Crean as well. He put himself in a tough situation.

But in hindsight, I think the best option would have been for Crean to tell this kid to move on.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

No. 22 Cincinnati’s loss to No. 16 Butler shines light on AAC’s struggles

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Mick Cronin of the Cincinnati Bearcats reacts against the Butler Bulldogs in the first half of the game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on December 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Kelan Martin scored 20 points and Andrew Chrabascz added 12 points, four boards and five assists as No. 16 Butler bounced back from a tough loss at Indiana State to beat No. 22 Cincinnati, 75-65.

The Bulldogs had been undefeated on the season prior to the loss to the Sycamores, but their ranking was built on the fact that they had beaten Arizona, who was No. 8 at the time, as well as a trio of high-major programs that look destined for the NIT.

Cincinnati probably isn’t destined for the NIT. Their top 25 ranking is justified, which is what makes this win valuable. Quality non-conference wins matter, and this is just one of a handful of good wins for what has proven to be one of the most top-heavy conferences in the country. Villanova, Creighton, Xavier and Butler all look capable of reaching the Sweet 16 this season.

The opposite is true for Cincinnati, who look like the flag-bearer in a conference that isn’t really all that good. They’re the best team in the AAC this season, but that’s a conference that has consistently disappointed this year. SMU, Temple and UConn have all struggled more than we expected them to. Tulsa and Memphis are in rebuilding mode. Houston was supposed to be good this season but they’ve yet to live up to the preseason hype.

Think about it like this: The only team in the AAC without multiple losses on the season is now UCF. That’s … not ideal, and it’s going to be interesting to see just how many bids the league is able to generate.

Think about it. Temple has beaten West Virginia and Florida State while losing to New Hampshire and UMass. SMU’s best win is either Pitt or TCU, both of whom are borderline tournament teams. UConn beat Syracuse but has some atrocious losses on their resume. Houston beat Rhode Island but lost to Arkansas and LSU. Memphis beat Iowa, but Iowa’s not all that good. UCF’s best win is … Mississippi State?

Cincinnati’s lone quality win is at Iowa State, who is about to drop out of the top 25.

POSTERIZED: Wichita State’s Daishon Smith dunks on Oklahoma big man

WICHITA, KS - NOVEMBER 13:  Guard Daishon Smith of the Wichita State Shockers drives up court past forward Roschon Prince #23 of the Long Beach State 49ers during the first half on November 13, 2016 at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
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Daishon Smith is 6-foot-1.

Kristian Doolittle is 6-foot-7.

The lil guy won this battle:

Here’s another angle of the dunk, which sent Wichita State’s bench into hysterics:

POSTERIZED: Duke’s Grayson Allen with a Dunk of the Year candidate (VIDEO)

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It looks like Grayson Allen’s toe is healthy. I’d say his explosivness is back:

Whoa.

Yeah.

POSTERIZED: Five-star Class of 2017 guard Trevon Duval dunks on 6’8″ defender

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Class of 2017 point guard Trevon Duval put down a huge poster dunk on a 6’8″ defender on Saturday as the five-star prospect showed why many consider him the top lead guard in high school basketball.

The 6-foot-2 Duval is considered the No. 3 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.

Nigel Hayes shines against as No. 17 Wisconsin beats Marquette

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 10:  Nigel Hayes #10 of the Wisconsin Badgers is fouled by Luke Fischer #40 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half of a game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on December 10, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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What a difference a year makes.

Last season at this time, Wisconsin dropped a home game to a Marquette team that was headed to the NIT.

This year?

The Badgers put six players in double-figures as they went into Milwaukee and knocked off Marquette, 93-84.

Bronson Koenig continued his hot shooting, finishing with 18 points and six assists while shooting 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Vitto Brown chipped in with 15 points, Khalil Iverson had 16 and Ethan Happ chipped in with 11 despite battling foul trouble all afternoon.

But the really story here – hell, the story of Wisconsin’s season to date – has been the change in the way that Nigel Hayes plays.

Hayes was terrific again on Saturday. He had 17 points, nine boards, four assists and three steals. He shot 6-for-10 from the floor and attempted just a pair of threes, making one of them. He had the ball in his hands when Wisconsin was trying to kill off the game, and, more importantly, head coach Greg Gard has seem to start to take advantage of just how good Hayes can be as a facilitator.

There are a couple of points that need to be made here:

  1. When Hayes plays like this, he deserves to be in the all-american discussion. He’s averaging 18.0 points, 7.3 boards and 6.7 assists in the three games Wisconsin has played against high-major competition since the change, and the Badgers have won five straight games while playing easily their best basketball of the season.
  2. And it’s not just because of the numbers he puts up. When Hayes operates as Wisconsin’s de-facto point guard, it makes everyone else on the roster better. For starters, it allows Koenig to play off the ball, where he seems to be more effective. He’s at his best when he’s hunting shots and trying to create off the bounce, but his aggressiveness can be detrimental when he’s the only one touching the ball. It also means offense runs through Happ more often since Koenig isn’t dominating possession, and it lets guys like Brown space the floor because they’re actually able to get rhythm threes.

As of today, Wisconsin is the favorite to win the Big Ten, even if Indiana is far more likely to end up being a No. 1 seed in March.