Ohio v Bowling Green

Is Ohio dumping long-time rival Marshall?

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Realignment has broken up so many successful rivalries over the past several years, as big-time programs choose money over tradition. In the region where West Virginia meets Ohio, however, a long-running non-conference rivalry is also coming to a halt. Definitely temporarily, and possibly forever.

Marshall and Ohio University have been playing each other in football and basketball since 1954, setting aside non-conference dates to renew the rivalry on a yearly basis. Now Ohio wants out of this season’s return trip, and that doesn’t sit well with columnist Chuck Landon, who lambasted the Bobcats in the Huntington Herald-Dispatch.

According to sources, the Bobcats offered the lame excuse that they ran out of room for another road game.

I call hogwash on that.

The crux of the matter is Ohio owed Marshall a game in Huntington after beating the Herd, 94-57, in Athens, Ohio, last season. But, now, the Bobcats are bailing on that obligation.

It sounds suspiciously like Ohio is blaming its non-conference schedule for not getting an at-large bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament. And, of course, the Bobcats see Marshall and its 13-19 record as one of the culprits.

I suppose that makes a certain amount of curmudgeonly sense, though it’s hard to imagine what Ohio could have done to improve their tourney-worthiness short of scheduling some serious heavy hitters from the mega-conferences, and winning at least one. It’s not as if Marshall hasn’t propped up Ohio’s RPI slightly in years when it was the stronger program. In general, however, the only reliable pathway to the Big Dance out of the MAC is an auto-bid, which means non-conference scheduling can help with seeding, but the real work is done in early March.

I’ll be honest. I wasn’t aware this even was a rivalry, but I still hate to hear of regional dustups getting shut down. Regardless of the limelight, the RPI or the NCAA tournament, they’re some of the games that make college basketball so meaningful in every corner of this country every season.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.