Marathon Madness Survival Guide

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Staying awake for 24 hours is a daunting task.

If you’ve ever attended college, then it’s likely you have at least one experience puling an all-nighter. Whether it’s memorizing all the bones that make up the human skull, a term paper on the Federalist papers, or watching Houston Baptist play Hawaii at 4:00 a.m., the human brain does not operate at normal capacity when the midnight oil is burning.

But with some trusty survival tips from our College Basketball Talk staff, this will be the year that you make it through all 24 hours of ESPN’s third annual Marathon Madness.

(NOTE: let us know what Marathon Madness survival tips you think are necessary by leaving a message in the comment section below)

Food & Beverage Tips:

– Stay away from the caffeine early. Given the fact that many of us are employed that coffee or Red Bull can look mighty seductive early. But no, leave that for the Tuesday afternoon games just before the stretch run. Go with water instead. (RJ)

– Put off the energy drinks and the coffee until the last possible minute. It’s only possible to survive on those for a certain amount of time, so waiting until the 4am Houston Baptist-Hawaii tip is your best bet. (RD)

– Snack on fresh fruits and veggies. Eating chips and pizza and what not will only tire you out. And stay away from any leftover Halloween candy. (RD)

– Light snacks. Chex Mix, or that handy 2 lb. bag of Sour Patch Kids (this is my go-to) keeps you active as opposed to that pizza you may be favoring, which can weigh you down quickly. (RJ)

– Don’t drink. That’s great for evenings when you have nothing to do, but this is basketball, it’s serious business. (EA)

– When digesting food, make sure to move around like Kobayashi. It won’t make you eat more, but it will help keep up your heart rate. (TM)

Viewing Tips:

– Halftimes are key, especially early on and late in the marathon. Use these for 20-minute power naps, taking the dog outside, and showering. Using halftime effectively significantly improves your chances of staying up for the entirety of the marathon. (DM)

– Multi-platform viewing allows you to be on the go and still keep up with games. Tablet computers, laptops, and smartphones all come in handy here. (DM)

– If you must nap, pause the DVR as soon as halftime begins, and set a 30 minute alarm. You’ll miss the talking heads, and be able to skip a few commercials when you wake up. (EA)

– Mix in some non-basketball related content at halftimes. Video games and social media are a way to keep the mind from going all zombie. Watching a marathon of college basketball is all, mental, anyway. (DH)

– Watch for telling moments. It was during the marathon a couple of years ago that I saw Gene Keady reach out and hook an index finger under the back collar of Steve Lavin’s shirt during a ref-induced tirade, essentially yoking his boss. It was a fascinating look into a complex relationship, and it happened in the blink of an eye. (EA)

– Prop bets keep things interesting. If you’re watching with friends or family, place $1 bets on small, seemingly inconsequential things. Which player throws down the game’s first dunk? At what point in the game will the TV cameras show the first shot of the student section or cheerleaders? (DM)

Staying Sane:

– Slow and steady wins the race. Pace yourself. Don’t try to live-blog every minute of every game or you will be cooked well before the 4:00 a.m. Houston Baptist vs. Hawaii tip. (TM)

– Talk to yourself. Talk to the screen. I’ve found myself waving players into position, questioning a coach’s sanity and asking myself if I’d like more pretzels “yes, yes I would, thank you.” (EA)

– Music. Falling asleep at the halfway point? Plug in the headphones and blast some heavy metal (or whatever you prefer) for a bit. (RJ)

– DON’T LAY DOWN ON YOUR COUCH! Sit up. You’re already conceding defeat if you go horizontal. Naps are fine for halftimes, but there’s no way anyone can be totally “comfortable” while watching 24 hours of college basketball. Nothing that is truly a “marathon” is comfortable. Stay committed. (DH)

– Late night exercise. If you live in a big apartment building, do sprints down the corridor. Toe-touches and trunk lifts are also effective. (TM)

– Be interactive. Chat with us scribes in-game via twitter and post comment sections. A lively conversation makes it so much easier to stay awake. (EA)

– Animals make for a great late-night companion. After all, who cares if you’re talking to a cat during the Houston Baptist vs. Hawaii game. (TM)

– Head over to sporcle.com and work your way through the basketball quizzes during commercial breaks. It keeps the mind sharp. (EA)

– Appreciate the ride. Name me one other sport that does a live 24-hour marathon of games? There isn’t one. Take in the first tip-off, the student sections from the 6 and 8 a.m. games and the weird fascination with a 4 a.m. EST live game in Hawaii each year. It’s unique. And as hoopheads, it’s ours. (DH)

Dayton freshman Toppin ineligible for 2017-18 season

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Dayton announced Tuesday afternoon that one of the program’s incoming freshmen will not be eligible to compete this season. 6-foot-8 forward Obadiah Toppin has been ruled by the NCAA to have not met initial eligibility requirements, and he will have to sit out the 2017-18 season as a result.

Toppin will be allowed to remain a member of the team and participate in practices, and he will have four seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2018-19 season. While the NCAA’s decision leaves the Flyers short a front court option in head coach Anthony Grant’s first season at the helm, it did not come as a surprise.

“We knew this was a possible scenario for Obi early on in the recruiting process,” Grant said in the release. “And if it came to pass, we saw this as a chance for him to utilize this year acclimate as a student and enhance his strength and skill as an academic redshirt. This is a great opportunity for Obi to develop as a player and student over the next 12 months, and prepare himself for a very successful college career.”

Toppin, who averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game at Mt. Zion Academy last season, is one of five freshmen who have joined the program. Matej Svoboda and Jordan Pierce will look to earn minutes alongside returnees Josh Cunningham and Xeyrius Williams, and the same can be said for redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Toppin being declared ineligible is the third hit Dayton has taken to its front court this offseason. Ryan Mikesell, who played in 32 games last season, will redshirt after undergoing two hip surgeries. And Sam Miller, who was also part of the team’s front court rotation last season, was suspended from school for the fall semester after he was arrested during the summer.

Four-star forward commits to Ohio State

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Ohio State is on the board with regards to the 2018 recruiting class, as Chris Holtmann’s program received a much-needed verbal commitment from four-star forward Jaedon LeDee. The 6-foot-9 Houston native announced his decision via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.

In receiving a verbal commitment from LeDee, Ohio State beat out California, Houston, Iowa State, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA. The Buckeyes hosted LeDee for his official visit the weekend of September 9, which coincided with the football team’s matchup with Oklahoma. Originally scheduled to visit Cal this past weekend, LeDee instead visited Texas A&M.

With LeDee’s commitment to Ohio State, visits to LSU (September 30) and UCLA (October 6) are likely off the board.

Currently attending the Kincaid School, LeDee played for the Texas PRO grassroots program on the adidas Uprising circuit this summer. The four-star prospect will likely be a combo forward for Ohio State, playing either the three or the four depending on the matchup.

With Jae’Sean Tate beginning his senior season and Keita Bates-Diop being a redshirt junior, Ohio State had a need to address in the front court. In landing a verbal pledge from Jaedon LeDee, the Buckeyes have done just that.

Among the front court players who will have eligibility remaining beyond the 2017-18 season are Bates-Diop, current sophomores Micah Potter and Andre Wesson, and freshmen Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young.

The Pac-12 is foolish for scheduling Arizona-UCLA once during the regular season

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Last month, I wrote about one of the more troubling trends in college basketball: Teams steering away from playing the games that fans are going to care about the most.

It was the result of Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing stating publicly that he was “not thinking about Maryland” after the rivalry between the DMV’s two most well-known programs went by the wayside.

Ewing isn’t the only coach that is culpable here. Kansas and Missouri don’t play. Kansas and Wichita State don’t play, either. Duke and Maryland don’t play. Ohio State doesn’t play Cincinnati, Xavier or Dayton. It goes on and on.

But the blame can no longer only be given to the coaches that schedule to protect themselves and/or their program.

The conferences deserve some criticism as well. Take, for instance, the Pac-12, who released their schedule recently after deciding that Arizona, a contender for the preseason No. 1 team in the country, should only play UCLA and USC, the only two teams that have a realistic chance of upending the Wildcats for the Pac-12 crown, once apiece.

Not only that, but the games will be played in Tucson, an incredible advantage for Sean Miller’s club as they pursue the league’s regular season title.

Look, I get it. There are 12 teams in the league and there is an 18-game schedule. Each team in the league is going to play four of their 11 league foes just once. It’s simple math. But the answer should never, ever be to schedule the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once.

The reasoning is simple: Arizona and UCLA are the two biggest brands in the league. When they play it will draw more interest than when any other two teams in the conference play, and that’s something the conference should be trying to capitalize on. It takes a lot to convince anyone on the east coast to stay up to watch a Pac-12 basketball game. I cover this sport for a living and I have a hard time making it all the way through a 10 p.m. ET tip. When a two-year old is going to be screaming at me to make breakfast at 6:30 a.m., do I really want to stay up to watch Arizona blow out Washington or UCLA to beat up on Cal?

The Pac-12 should do everything they can to ensure that Arizona and UCLA play twice every season.

That is even more true this year. Arizona might be the best team in the country and they might have the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on their roster in Deandre Ayton. UCLA is a top 15 team that just so happens to have Liangelo Ball, the worst of the three Ball brothers and potentially the last one to matriculate through the college ranks. The seemingly inevitable LaVar Ball blow-up is something we all will be watching patiently to see.

Should I mention the simmering hatred between Sean Miller and Steve Alford as they continually compete for the best prospects on the west coast?

And that’s before you factor in that USC is the second-best team in the league, and anyone that UCLA plays twice, USC will also play twice.

I’ll be sure to watch a number of Oregon games this season, and I think that Stanford, Oregon State and Colorado all have the pieces to sneak up on some people this year. I’ll be sure to check in on them a couple times as well.

But the games that I’ll have circled on my calendar, the games I’ll be excited about watching, are between Arizona, UCLA and USC.

By scheduling the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once during the regular season, the Pac-12 cost themselves a third of that inventory.

That doesn’t seems like the smartest way to run a business conference.

But hey, if conference realignment and the development of conference-only networks taught us anything, it’s that major college athletics are all about competitive balance over those advertising dollars.

Vanderbilt lands commitment from Aaron Nesmith

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Vanderbilt landed their first commitment in the Class of 2018 with four-star wing Aaron Nesmith.

Nesmith is a native of South Carolina, and the Commodores beat out South Carolina for his services. At 6-foot-6, Nesmith is the kind of defensive presence and athlete that Vandy will need to replace Jeff Roberson, who will be graduating this season.

This is a critical class for Bryce Drew, who is squarely in the mix for five-star guards Darius Garland and Romeo Langford. Nesmith isn’t on that level, but he will be a nice piece for Vandy for four years.

Svi Mykhailiuk drops 20 pounds, makes weird Kansas roster even weirder

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Kansas is a weird team this season.

They’re talented, they’re probably going to win the Big 12 again and I fully expect them to be in the national title picture come March, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re … weird.

25 percent of their scholarship players are transfers sitting out the year. That doesn’t include Sam Cunliffe, who won’t be eligible until December. So that’s unusual, as is the fact that Bill Self, a coach that had steadfastly remained dedicated to playing two big men together despite the gradual shift to small-ball, has three big men on his roster in total.

One of those three is Mitch Lightfoot, which means that there are just two big men on the roster that a potential Final Four team should feel comfortable having as a major part of their rotation. That would be sophomore Udoka Azubuike and freshman Billy Preston.

That makes it seem pretty clear that the Jayhawks will be going with another small-ball look, just as they did last season, right? But they don’t really have a piece to replace Josh Jackson, who was a perfect fit as a college four in a small-ball lineup. He was a natural wing that was athletic enough to block shots and tough enough to battle bigs on the glass.

So who plays that role this season?

Some thought it could be Svi Mykhailiuk, the 20-year old Ukranian senior, but he’s never really been that guy. Oh, and he just so happened to lose 20 pounds this offseason.

“I’m trying to stay light-weight this year, so it’s going to help me a lot,” Mykhailiuk told the Kansas City Star. “I feel like I’m faster with the light weight. I’m more athletic. It just helps me overall in the game.”

Which means … what, exactly?

Losing 20 pounds isn’t exactly going to help a player that has some question marks about his toughness and physicality battle with college fours in the paint. Does it mean he’ll be playing more on the wing? If so, who plays at the four? Will LaGerald Vick — all six feet, five inches and 175 pounds — be playing in the Josh Jackson role?

Or is Self going to use Preston as his new Perry Ellis, hoping that this five-star freshman becomes what his last five-star four-man — Carlton Bragg — never could?

My guess is that it will likely end up being all of the above, depending on matchups.

But it doesn’t make the Jayhawks’ weird roster any clearer.