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How will the NCAA reforms being discussed affect the NCAA tournament?

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Every time there is talk about fundamental change in the NCAA’s structure, college basketball fans get nervous.

When we were in throes of realignment, all the changes that were being made had football and only football in mind, with the hoops side of things an afterthought of their afterthoughts.

Think about it: we lost Syracuse-Georgetown, Kansas-Missouri, Maryland-Duke, and Pitt-West Virginia. The CAA lost both VCU and George Mason. The Big East we grew up with is gone. Things could have been much worse, I’ll admit that, but you’d be hard-pressed to find me arguing that realignment was a good thing for our sport.

Which is why seeing Pete Thamel write about “seismic change” and talk about a “subset of Division I” is so scary.

If the Big 5 schools make a change, will it ruin the single greatest event in sports — the NCAA tournament?

It doesn’t look like it. From Thamel:

At this point, it’s easier to predict what won’t happen. There is zero momentum to break from the NCAA and start a whole new organization. Whatever changes will be made will likely be under the NCAA’s umbrella.

There’s also little chance for significant change to the NCAA tournament. The one thing the NCAA does well is run championships, and unwinding the $10.8 billion CBS-Turner deal would be thorny.

The most likely change will be in the NCAA governance structure, and while that isn’t particularly sexy, it’s still significant.

Ok. I like what I am reading so far. Plus, there’s more:

This doesn’t mean that the America Easts, Big Souths and Big Wests of the world will be all that different. They’ll still have access to the NCAA tournament. Most would agree the NCAA tournament is a better event with Valparaiso, Long Beach State and Florida Gulf Coast.

So if a league is “out,” it is really just subjected to a different rules structure. The championship structure will be the same and they’ll play the same teams. This means that the average fan watching Big Monday or filling out a bracket won’t see much difference.

 

In layman’s terms?

The schools that generate millions and millions and millions of dollars through sports don’t want to be lumped in with the schools that need $100,000 paydays on road games just to run their athletic departments. Texas doesn’t want to be subjected to the same rules as Texas-San Antonio, and that’s probably fair.

The changes are, more or less, going to be based on who has to follow what rules, not what Division they’ll play in.

College hoops, as of now, sounds like it should survive.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Some conference matchups play out before football

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, left, reacts after scoring a basket against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Oregon defeated Utah 77-59. (AP Photo/George Frey)
(AP Photo/George Frey)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Utah at No. 16 Oregon, 4:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:

Utah suffered one of the worst losses I’ve seen in a while on Thursday night, when Brandon Taylor, for some unknown reason, decided to foul an Oregon State player firing up a half court prayer at the buzzer. The Utes, who are arguably the second-best team in the Pac-12, will look to bounce-back on Sunday against the best team in the Pac-12, No. 16 Oregon at 4:00 p.m.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. No. 12 SMU will attempt to stay atop the American standings as they travel to South Florida. While the Mustangs won the first matchup between these two teams at home by 14, they’ve dropped their last two games on the road.

2. A few more American contests are going down as East Carolina travels to UConn and Houston heads to Tulsa. The game between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane is especially interesting because both teams are sitting two games back of SMU and trying to make a move on the postseason.

3. No. 5 Iowa continues the soft part of the schedule as they face Illinois on the road. The Hawkeyes posted recent easy victories over Northwestern and Penn State and will be heavily favored again on Sunday.

4. Could be an intriguing game as No. 17 Miami travels to Georgia Tech. Although the Yellow Jackets aren’t a major contender in the ACC, they’ve been tough this season, especially at home. The Hurricanes fell victim to Georgia Tech last season while they were ranked by Marcus Georges-Hunt has to get back on track after a recent slump for that to happen.

5. There is an Atlantic 10 game that will be featured on NBCSN on Sunday: Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure (2:00 p.m.).

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.