jamal olasewere

The Little Dances: Championship Week Day 2 Preview

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The NCAA Tournament doesn’t get going until March 19, but for the real college hoops fans, the days leading up to Selection Sunday is when the madness really begins. Over the next two weeks teams will fight for the postseason lives. Bubbles will burst and tickets will be punched, and Cinderellas will be born. This is the real March Madness.

(CLICK HERE to browse through all of our conference tournament previews)

Here’s what to watch for on Tuesday.

Game of the Night: Quinnipiac at LIU-Brooklyn
One of these two teams has made in to the NEC Tournament Finals in each out of the last three seasons. The two teams finished their regular seasons off against one another on Saturday, with Brooklyn winning 96-90. 2013 NEC Player of the Year Jamal Olasewere will be the difference maker for the Blackbirds.

Player to Watch: Kyle Vinales, Central Connecticut State
The sophomore guard from Detroit has scored 30 or more points on five occasions this season, twice coming against the Seahawks. Kyle scored a career-high 42 points the last time the Blue Devils visited Staten Island. If Central Connecticut State is to pull off the upset victory, Vinales must lead the way.

Miscellaneous Madness: For the first time since 2010, the Atlantic Sun will crown a champion not named Belmont. In fact, East Tennessee State and Mercer are the only remaining members of the Atlantic Sun with Conference tournament championships.

Tuesday Schedule:

Atlantic Sun Conference Quarterfinals
2:30 p.m. – North Florida (7) vs. Florida Gulf Coast (2)
8:30 p.m. – Lipscomb (8) vs. Mercer (1)

Northeast Conference Quaterfinals
7 p.m. – Mount Saint Mary’s (5) at Bryant (4)
7 p.m. – Quinnipiac (6) at LIU-Brooklyn (3)
7 p.m. – Central Connecticut State (7) at Wagner (2)
7 p.m. – St. Fancis NY (8) at Robert Morris (1)

Ohio Valley Conference First Round
7 p.m. – Tennessee-Martin (8) vs. Morehead State (5)
9 p.m. – Eastern Illinois (7) vs. Southeast Missouri (6)

Patriot League Quarterfinals
7 p.m. – American (5) at Army (4)
7 p.m. – Colgate (6) at Lehigh (3)
7 p.m. – Holy Cross (7) at Lafayette (2)
7 p.m. – Navy (8) at Bucknell (1)

West Coast Conference First Round
9 p.m. – Loyola Marymount (9) vs. Portland (8)

You can find Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.