First-year Buffalo head coach Bobby Hurley has the fortune of taking over a program that features arguably the best player in the Mid-American Conference in senior forward Javon McCrea. McCrea led the Bulls with averages of 18.0 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, and he’s the early favorite in some circles to grab league Player of the Year honors.
But as evidenced by the Bulls’ 14-20 record, it can’t be McCrea doing all of the heavy lifting by himself if Buffalo is to improve its standing within the tough East Division of the MAC. Buffalo landed some help on Friday, as it was announced that former Alabama State guard Josh Freelove has joined the program and is eligible to play immediately.
Freelove’s name may be familiar to diehard MAC basketball fans, as he spent his freshman campaign at Toledo before transferring to Lewis and Clark CC (Ill.). As a junior at Alabama State, Freelove averaged 13.6 points per game on 46.1% shooting from the field.
Of Buffalo’s top four scorers from a season ago just one (guard Tony Watson II) doesn’t return, and in theory Freelove should be able to account for Watson’s graduation. With McCrea leading the way the pieces are in place for coach Hurley to make a splash in his debut season. But given how well programs like Akron and Ohio have performed in recent years, making that move up the MAC pecking order is easier said than done.
No. 15 Cincinnati pounced on Memphis from the start, taking a 51-32 lead into halftime.
Then, Gary Clark decided to add insult to injury to start the second half. Seriously, how did he catch that?
Mick Cronin’s team is much better offensively than in previous seasons. I’m sure fans in the Fifth Third Arena can get used to seeing more plays like this.
Michigan State freshman guard Cassius Winston had just one field goal in the first half. And it was a half-court buzzer-beater as the Spartans capped a sizable run to take a 49-31 lead over Nebraska going into the break.
The Spartans ended the half on a 21-5 run.
Winston provided a serious boost off the bench during that stanza. Moments earlier, he helped the Breslin Center erupt when he lobbed a pass off the backboard to teammate Miles Bridges.
Michigan State opened the day projected as one of the final at-large bids in the NCAA Tournament. The margin for error is thing and it appears the Spartans are playing with a sense of urgency.
Wednesday’s slate of games had several wild results.
Former Ohio State walk-on turned blogger turned author Mark Titus, who is currently writing for The Ringer, joined Rob Dauster on the latest episode of the CBT Podcast to go over last night’s games. The two also discussed who is the best team in the nation at the moment, as well Frank Mason III’s rap single from several years ago #BIFM
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom
North Carolina’s Roy Williams called fellow Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino to apologize for a fan’s behavior during Wednesday night’s game in Chapel Hill.
While leaving the floor at halftime, Pitino had to be restrained by members of the Louisville coaching staff and he and a UNC fan exchanged words as he made his way to the locker rom. There’s video of Pitino pointing and shouting at a fan, who reportedly said, “Pitino, you suck!”
“I don’t like that,” Williams said, according to the Charlotte Observer. “I mean we’re in North Carolina. We don’t have to be like everybody else. We can raise Cain. You can boo, but you don’t have to say the stuff that we as coaches have to put up with.”
“I hope that never happens at North Carolina ever again.”
No. 8 North Carolina defeated No. 7 Louisville, 74-63.
STILL TO PLAY
Georgia at Alabama (RPI: 68, KenPom: 61, next four teams), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Michigan State (RPI: 43, KenPom: 55, No. 10 seed), 7:00 p.m.
Towson at UNC Wilmington (RPI: 41, KenPom: 57, No. 12 seed), 7:00 p.m.