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The Little Dances: Championship Week Day 3 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 Thursday.

Game of the Night: East Tennessee State vs. Stetson
The two teams split regular season games, with just three total points deciding the difference. Stetson is one of the top-30 teams in terms of efficient field goal percentage. On the flip side, the Buccaneers are one of the least efficient defensive teams in the country, having given up 80 or more points seven times this season. Plus, it’s a mid-afternoon start. There aren’t many things better than mid-afternoon single elimination basketball.

Player to Watch: Cole Dickerson, San Francisco
The 6-foot-7 junior has been a matchup nightmare for all WCC players not named Kelly Olynyk or Elias Harris. Dickerson has logged 11 double-doubles this season and is a threat to score from anywhere on the court. He’s one of the most talented and athletic mid-major players you’ve probably never heard of.

Miscellaneous Madness:
It’s day one of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, otherwise known as “Arch Madness”. While often considered one of the most entertaining tournaments on a yearly basis, three of the top four seeds have advanced to the semifinals every year for the past decade. In fact, a team seeded outside the top four has not made the finals since before 2006. So even while we can expect the unexpected, it’s almost guaranteed that one of the top fours seeds will win the automatic bid.

Tuesday Schedule:

Atlantic Sun Conference Quarterfinals
2:30 p.m. – East Tennessee State (6) vs. Stetson (3)
8:30 p.m. – USC Upstate (5)vs. Jacksonville (4)

Big South Conference Quarterfinals
Noon – Winthrop (5S) vs. Charleston Southern (1S)
2 p.m. – Longwood (6N) vs. VMI (2N)
6 p.m. – Campbell (3N) vs. Gardner-Webb (2S)
8 p.m. – Liberty (5N) vs. High Point (1N)

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
7 p.m. – Drake (9) vs. Bradley (8)
9:30 p.m. – Southern Illinois (10) vs. Missouri State (7)

Ohio Valley Conference First Round
7 p.m. – Morehead State (5) vs. Tennessee State (4)
9 p.m. – Southeast Missouri State (6) vs. Eastern Kentucky (3)

West Coast Conference First Round
9 p.m. – Loyola Marymount (9) vs. San Francisco (5)
11:30 p.m. – Pepperdine (7) vs. San Diego (6)

You can find Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir

Pressure is on new coach Steve Prohm at Iowa State

Steve Prohm
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AMES, Iowa (AP) Five months ago, Iowa State’s Steve Prohm was the coach at mid-major Murray State. Now he’s in charge of one of the big favorites in the Big 12.

Prohm officially began his first season in charge of the Cyclones on Tuesday with the team’s annual media day.

Iowa State has all the pieces to make a run at the league title and more – provided that Prohm can handle coaching college basketball at the highest level, of course.

In the minds of Prohm’s players, the Cyclones have nothing to worry about.

“Coach (Prohm) is in here earning our trust and our respect every day,” said senior forward Georges Niang. “Even though he’s not trying to cross any of our toes, he puts his foot down when he needs to and lets us know that stuff needs to get done. I think he has a great combination of how to keep us motivated…and still be stern and be able to get the most out of us.”

Fred Hoiberg’s departure for the Chicago Bulls after five mostly successful seasons gave Prohm a shot at a national title. The roster Hoiberg left behind for Prohm is loaded.

Niang, a likely preseason first-team All-American, second-team All-Big 12 point guard Monte Morris and league defensive player of the year Jameel McKay headline one of the nation’s most talented starting units. Throw in veterans like Naz Long, Matt Thomas, Abdel Nader and transfer Deonte Burton, and Prohm might just have the best roster a new Power Five coach has inherited since Bill Guthridge took over for Dean Smith at North Carolina in 1997.

Guthridge reached the Final Four with his first team.

Prohm isn’t shying away from the notion that Iowa State is among the handful of teams with serious national title aspirations.

“Yeah, they’re realistic,” Prohm said when asked about the sky-high expectations for this year’s team. “I think we have the opportunity to have a very special season.”

The similarities between what type of styles Prohm and Hoiberg use was cited as a big reason why Iowa State hired him. Hoiberg even lobbied for Prohm to athletic director Jamie Pollard during the hiring process.

To that end, Prohm is going to let his players have a ton of input on how they play. Prohm doesn’t plan many changes, just tweaks that mostly involve techniques to improve Iowa State’s somewhat inconsistent rebounding and defense.

“I don’t need to say, `This is the way we’re doing things guys because this is the way I did it.’ That’s stupid,” Prohm said. “I need to meet these guys halfway.”

Prohm also acknowledged that he’ll be doing quite a bit of learning himself this season. But Prohm said he intends to embrace the unique opportunity he’s been afforded.

“This is a great situation to walk into. No question,” Prohm said. “Is there pressure? Yeah. But who wants a job with no pressure?”

Lawyer: Pierre suspended due to ‘unfair and defective process’

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Dayton forward Dyshawn Pierre, who is suspended from school for the fall semester stemming from a sexual assault allegation, has sued the university over what his lawyer calls an “unfair and defective internal process”.

Peter R. Ginsberg, Pierre’s lawyer, released a statement to on Wednesday stating that his client intends to file suit over the ruling, saying that the school arrived at a suspension through “fundamentally unfair and defective internal process that deprived him of vital rights and protections and has resulted in a disruption in his education, a drastic blow to his reputation, and a potentially fatal interference” with basketball.

Pierre was suspended due to an incident that allegedly took place in mid-April and was reported in May, according to the Dayton Daily News. The prosecutor declined to press charges in the case due to a lack of evidence, the paper reported.

Pierre, a 6-foot-6 wing that averaged 12.7 points last season, is not currently enrolled at the school.

“What has been done to me has been grossly unfair. The allegations against me are false,” he said. “And now I find myself with my reputation tarnished, my schooling interrupted and my dream of helping the basketball team win a national championship being threatened. I want justice, and I want a return to my normal life.”

Ginsberg represented Dez Wells in a similar case. Wells, then at Xavier, was expelled by the university in 2012 following a sexual assault allegation, but he won a settlement from the school in 2014. The crux of Ginsberg’s claims regarding Pierre’s case is that the process by which Dayton reached this conclusion is fundamentally flawed.