The road is an interesting place in league play.
On Wednesday, SMU suffered the kind of loss that could kill of any NCAA tournament hops when they went to South Florida and got dropped by the American bottom-feeder.
The Mustangs returned home on Saturday, taking on No. 22 Memphis in a game that they needed to win. The result? An 87-72 win in which the final score doesn’t do the beatdown SMU gave the Tigers justice.
With the score tied at 29 coming out of halftime, SMU went on a 27-7 run over the first seven minutes of the second half, eventually stretching that lead to 25 points. It was an overwhelming performance for SMU, one that earned them a key win for their NCAA tournament resume. Entering Saturday, the best win that SMU had on their resume came at home over UConn.
In a vacuum, that’s not enough to get the Mustangs in, not when they’ve done nothing of note on the road. But with games left against Cincinnati, UConn, Louisville and the Tigers in Memphis, Larry Brown’s crew will have their chances.
As far as Memphis is concerned, this is a bit worrisome. For the second time this season, a team came out swinging on them in a road game, and Memphis just rolled over. It happened in the first half at Oklahoma State in November, and it happened in the second half on Saturday. The irony? The only impressive league win the Tigers have came on the road, as they lost at home to Cincinnati and UConn but won at Louisville.
Markus Kennedy dominated SMU in the paint, finishing with 21 points and 15 boards while shooting 10-for-10 from the floor.
The Big South is moving its 2016 men’s basketball tournament out of Coastal Carolina and a new site will be figured out by November. According to a release from the conference the Big South is using a league bylaw that stipulates that members leaving with less than two years of notice are not eligible to host championships. Coastal Carolina announced this summer that it would be leaving for the Sun Belt as of July 2016, so the Big South wants to find a new location that benefits teams staying in the league.
The Big South men’s and women’s conference tournaments are now also going to be split into two unique events, with the men’s championships being held Thursday-Sunday, March 3-6. The women’s event comes the next week from March 10-13. Bids for both events will come into the league and a new location will be selected in the next few months.
It will be interesting to see if the site of the conference tournament is moved to a campus site or placed at a neutral venue. That type of thing could alter how the NCAA tournament autobid gets played out. With Coastal Carolina coming off of back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, this obviously changes their approach to the postseason now that they have to leave their city.
Virginia Tech is trying to decide what to do with injury sophomore guard Ahmed Hill, who had surgery this summer to deal with a tear in his patella tendon in his left knee.
The 6-foot-5 Hill has still not been released to work out with the team, but he is about a week to 10 days ahead of schedule in his rehab. But the injury is still nagging enough that Hill might not be healthy enough to really contritbute this season. Head coach Buzz Williams is deciding soon whether he wants to redshirt Hill or not.
Hill started a team-high 30 games for the Hokies last season, averaging 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
“I don’t have a decision on (Hill),” Williams said to reporters on Monday. “I will make the final decision. I’ll let (him) and his mom be a part of it, but I want to make a decision using the wisdom of doing this for a long period of time. If you let a kid make the decision, they always want to play.
“Right now, I don’t feel comfortable that I would want to play him. It’s just too early to be able to have much more of an answer than that.”
It’s still a rebuilding year for Virginia Tech, but they do get Maryland transfer Seth Allen, who is a talented guard who can score. The Hokies were hoping to have Hill and Allen as complimentary perimeter scorers, but now the plans might have to be altered. Williams went on to say that he would like to make a decision on Hill’s status by Halloween.