Eric Atkins

Pregame Shootaround 1.7.2013: Notre Dame plays … Cincinnati?

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Game of the Day: 6:30 p.m.: No. 21 Notre Dame at No. 14 Cincinnati (ESPN2)

We know how good Louisville is and we think we know how good Syracuse is, but what we don’t quite have a firm handle on yet is where Notre Dame and Cincinnati fall in the Big East’s pecking order. We should get a chance to gauge that on Monday evening, as the Irish visit the Queen City to take on the Bearcats. (Note the 6:30 tip!)

I think Notre Dame is a better team than the Bearcats this season. I love their back court almost as much as I love Jack Cooley. The problem, however, is that Cincinnati matches up particularly well with Notre Dame. The Bearcats can really pressure the ball defensively — watching Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins go up against Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick may be the best back court battle we get in the league this year — and they play four perimeter players, just like the Irish. They also have enough size inside to potentially negate Cooley.

How does Cincinnati respond to losing their last two games at home?

Who’s Getting Upset?: 7:00 p.m.: No. 5 Indiana at Penn State (Big Ten)

Ranked Big Ten team on the road in league play. That’s usually my standard for picking an “upset”. The problem here? Penn State isn’t all that good and Indiana is really, really good. We’ll call this the exception that proves the rule.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Illinois-Chicago at Cleveland State

UIC has been one of the nation’s most pleasant surprises after putting together wins against the likes of Mercer, Iona, Northwestern and Colorado State. A recent three-game losing streak aside, the Flames look to be a serious contender in the Horizon. Cleveland State was a favorite to win the league in the preseason, but after a series of injuries — including one to stud sophomore Anton Grady — the Vikings have fallen back to the pack.

Five Things

1. Parker Smith of North Florida went for 33 points and hit nine threes on Saturday. The last two times he’s suited up against Florida-Gulf Coast, he went for 23 points, combined for 11 threes in those two games. How many can he hit tonight?

2. Southern Utah is currently sitting at 3-0 in the Big Sky, two games ahead of the teams behind them but a half-game behind Weber State and Montana at the top of the league. SUU travels to Sacramento State tonight. Can they keep pace with the Big Sky favorites?

3. Afternoon hoops! Florida International and Bethune-Cookman tip-off at 1 p.m.

4. The Southland title will likely go through Oral Roberts or Stephen F. Austin, but neither Northwestern State not Sam Houston State have a league loss yet. They play tonight at 8:45 p.m.

5. Lipscomb’s Stephen Hurt and USC-Upstate’s Torrey Craig are two of the better forwards in the Atlantic Sun. They go toe-to-toe at 8:15 p.m.

No Other Top 25 games scheduled

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Nigel Hayes’ comment on basketball brands hits on greater point

Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes (10) drives on Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Madison, Wis. Hayes had a team-high 21 points in Wisconsin's 79-68 win. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
AP Photo/Andy Manis
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Much is made about the ball when it comes to how the sport of basketball is played and rightfully so, as the ball is the most important piece of equipment. Different brands have different characteristics, and with college basketball programs being able to pick the ball they use for home games there are adjustments to be made during the season.

Wisconsin will play at No. 2 Maryland Saturday, meaning that in the days leading up to the game the Badgers needed to get used to the Under Armour basketball. The brand became a conversation point in the aftermath of Maryland’s win over No. 4 Iowa last month, with the Hawkeyes (while not blaming the ball for their loss) made note of the differences between the Under Armour ball and the Nike ball they use for their home games.

Thursday Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes offered up his observations on the basketball while also pointing out (albeit sarcastically) the goal of intercollegiate athletics.

“It’s definitely different,” Hayes said. “Personally, we don’t like it too much. I don’t like the Under Armour ball whatsoever. But that’s the way this amateur sports league is set up. We’re supposed to be having fun, but all the money is in these basketballs that colleges play with. But it’s an amateur sport, we’re just here for fun. It’s not really that serious. So I guess any ball should be OK.

“Maybe we should have a universal ball like the NBA. You don’t go to the Clippers’ stadium and play with a Nike and then go to Golden State and play with a Rawlings. But in this amateur sport of college, where money isn’t the goal — it’s the student education and experience that you get — we play with a million different basketballs.”

Hayes makes a good point here, and in regards to the NBA all hell would break loose under similar circumstances (remember the leather vs. microfiber composite controversy in 2006?). If these games are solely about fun and the college experience, wouldn’t having one ball used by all schools better fit that mission? This isn’t the biggest of deals when it comes to “amateur” athletics, as different basketball brands have been used for years.

But Hayes was able to take this situation and work it into the discussion of the goals of intercollegiate athletics. Is it about the experience? Or does the ability to profit, be it through a minor move such as using a particular ball or the more impactful step of moving from one conference to another, take precedence? Given the shifts that have occurred in college sports in recent years, it’s quite apparent that the search for additional revenue streams has won out.

Hayes did note that neither he nor his teammates would make excuses, saying that the team would simple “have to get used to” the unfamiliar basketball according to the Wisconsin State Journal. In the end, this was a good use of sarcasm by Hayes to make a greater point about the collegiate athletics machine he and his teammates are but minor parts of.

Marquette fan sends Providence money for missed free throw

Providence's Kris Dunn reacts to his shot during the first half of an NCAA basketball game against Villanova, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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It goes without saying that sports can inspire some interesting promises, from players and coaches guaranteeing victory to fans making statements that hinge on the outcome of a particular game or play (see: tattoos celebrating a team’s triumphs before they’ve even won the game in question). For one Marquette fan, the need for Providence’s Kris Dunn to miss a free throw during Wednesday night’s game (which Marquette won in overtime) inspired him to make a promise that he intended to keep.

Jamey Schilling took the approach of yelling that he’d pay Dunn $10 if he missed the free throw. Sure enough Dunn missed the shot, and Schilling made good on his promise. But with players themselves unable to receive such funds due to NCAA rules, Schilling sent the check to the Providence athletic department.

Schilling’s gesture did not go unnoticed by Marquette either, as the school sent him a gift card to use in the Marquette Spirit Shop.

H/T For The Win