The fight against cancer has received quite the boost from college basketball over the years, from the Jimmy V Classic to Coaches vs. Cancer’s many fundraising projects including its “Suits and Sneakers” weekend during the regular season.
On Wednesday it was announced that there will be a doubleheader at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on December 21, with the National Association of Basketball Coaches and American Cancer Society collaborating on the event.
The two games on that Saturday will feature four teams expected by many to at the very least reach the NCAA tournament, with Marquette taking on New Mexico and former Big 12 foes Oklahoma State and Colorado meeting in the nightcap.
All four programs reached the NCAA tournament last season, with Buzz Williams’ Golden Eagles being the lone team to advance to the second weekend. Marquette lost to former Big East rival Syracuse (they’re now in the ACC) in the Elite 8.
The battle between the Golden Eagles and Lobos matches two programs that won at least a share of their respective regular season conference titles last season, with New Mexico winning both the regular season and tournament titles in the Mountain West.
As for the Cowboys and Buffaloes, both are expected to be contenders in the Big 12 and Pac-12 respectively, and the point guard matchup between Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) and Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado) has the potential to be one of the best on the college basketball schedule this coming season.
“Many thanks to MGM Grand for its commitment to helping us launch this annual event benefitting a cause that college basketball passionately supports,” said Brooks Downing, president of event promoter bd Global Sports said in the release. “With four of the nation’s top teams for next season, it will definitely have a March Madness atmosphere that day at MGM Grand.”
In addition to the newly formed MGM Grand Showcase, MGM Grand Garden Arena also hosts the Pac-12 tournament in March.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
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:
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.