cole dickerson

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

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two¬†appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?