Norfolk State became something of a household name last season after knocking off second-seeded Missouri as a 15 seed in last year’s NCAA tournament. It only helped the spirit of the upset when then-senior forward Kyle O’Quinn showed that he was one of the most likable players in the country in a wide-eyed, off-the-cuff postgame interview with Craig Sager.
Despite losing O’Quinn, Norfolk State carried the momentum of last season’s success into this year, running the table at a perfect 16-0 in the MEAC conference slate and looking for its second straight automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. That run came to an end Wednesday night, as the Spartans were upset in overtime by No. 8-seeded Bethune-Cookman, 70-68, in the MEAC quarterfinals.
Norfolk State led by 10 at halftime and pushed the lead to as many as 13 in the second half, but the Spartans were plagued by poor 32-percent shooting and were badly outrebounded in the loss.
The Spartans become another example of a dominant small-conference team during the regular season that stumbles in the conference tournament, forcing them to miss out on the NCAAs.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.
Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.
Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.
The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.
John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.
We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.
For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.
Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.