North Dakota State was the preseason favorite in the league and they won the Summit League regular season crown by two full games over IPFW and South Dakota State. But the Bison are still motivated coming into the 2014 Summit League Conference Tournament after falling in the title game last season to South Dakota State. Can Taylor Braun, Marshall Bjorkland and North Dakota State win the tournament and make the field of 68?
Where: Sioux Falls Arena; Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Final: Tuesday, March 11th, 8 p.m., ESPN2
Favorite: North Dakota State
The Bison won the league by two full games and shot 50.9 percent from the field as a team this season, which is best in the nation. After losing in the title game to South Dakota State last season, senior Taylor Braun and his teammates are prepared for a run at the conference tournament title.
And if they lose?: IPFW
One of two teams in the league to beat North Dakota State during the season, IPFW also has close road losses at Dayton (by one) and at Illinois (by two). The Mastodons, like North Dakota State, take good shots and shoot a great field goal percentage as a team.
Denver: Also topped North Dakota State during the season and Brett Olson and Chris Udofia are a dynamic duo.
South Dakota State: Jackrabbits have won eight of nine games down the stretch.
Taylor Braun, North Dakota State: Well-rounded senior forward averaged 18 points, 5.5 rebounds, four assists and 1.7 steals while also shooting great percentages from all over the floor.
Luis Jacobo, IPFW: Senior forward upped his shooting percentages while averaging 14.9 points.
Jordan Dykstra, South Dakota State: Put up 16.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game during a strong senior season.
CBT Prediction: North Dakota State over South Dakota State
Providence will play its first game at Alumni Hall, the on-campus facility, for the first time in 35 years this fall.
The Friars unveiled their 2017-18 non-conference schedule on Thursday afternoon. The team’s home opener will play either Houston Baptist or Belmont in Mullaney Gym inside Alumni Hall.
According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, the reason for that is a schedule conflict at Providence’s home arena, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, in downtown Providence. A Comic-Con convention is scheduled Nov. 10-12. As McNamara notes, it’s a busy part of the season for The Dunk. The arena also is home to the Providence Bruins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins, and by mid-November, their season is in full swing.
The Friars haven’t played at Alumni Hall since 1972, the same year the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was opened. In the three decades since Providence last played a regular season game there, the facility has gone under necessary renovations, as you could imagine. Even with added seats, Mullaney Gym can host a maximum of 1,549. That’s a fraction of what The Dunk’s capacity of 12,400.
Providence will return to its downtown home on Nov. 13, hosting Minnesota as part of the Gavitt Games. The Golden Gophers will likely be a top-20 team to open the season. The Friars, who bring back every notable player from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, is a fringe top-25 team.
The already-thin Illinois roster got thinner on Thursday afternoon.
Evan Daniels of Scout.com reported that sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands has requested and received his release from the program. He will have to sit out next season but will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Coleman-Lands was a top-40 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. He becomes the second player from that recruiting class this month to exit the school. Reserve guard D.J. Williams elected to transfer on May 8. With Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett, two incoming recruits, both previously reopened their recruitments following John Groce’s firing.
Even with the addition of Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork, who officially joined the Fighting Illini on Wednesday, Illinois is left with only nine scholarship players as of right now.
Coleman-Lands’ production dipped from his freshman campaign, ending the 2016-17 season averaging 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, shooting 38 percent from three.
One destination that will likely be rumored will be nearby DePaul. Coleman-Lands played for new DePaul assistant coach Shane Heirman at prep school powerhouse La Lumiere School. Heriman quickly tapped into that prep pipeline, helping secure a commitment from La Lumiere from five-star 2019 point guard Tyger Campbell earlier this month.
Coleman-Lands had taken official visits to Notre Dame and UNLV before committing to the Illini in September 2014.
North Carolina releases response to latest NCAA Notice of Allegations
North Carolina is still trying to convince the NCAA that their investigation into the paper classes given by the university’s African-American Studies Department is not, in fact, an NCAA matter.
On Thursday afternoon, the University released their response to the NCAA’s third iteration of the Notice of Allegations, and the core argument in that response is that the school’s “inadequate academic oversight” does not fall under the jurisdiction of the NCAA’s bylaws. In other words, North Carolina is arguing that a rogue professor creating fake classes is not an NCAA issue. It’s a school issue.
What’s more, North Carolina is also arguing that athletes taking these classes should not be classified as an extra benefit because they were available to the entire student body.
“No special arrangements were made for student-athletes in violation of NCAA extra-benefit legislation,” the response reads. “Student-athletes were not treated differently than other students who took the Courses.”
“The public narrative for the last six years, popularized by media accounts, is that Department of Athletics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took advantage of ‘fake classes’ in the Department of African and African-American Studies to keep student-athletes eligible. That narrative is wrong and contradicted by the facts in the record.”
The NCAA’s allegations center around the idea that UNC’s athletes, most notably members of the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams, were guided to the fake classes within that department in order to keep their GPAs high enough to remain eligible. The classes in question had a disproportionate percentage of athletes.
A hearing in front of the Committee on Infractions is expected to take place at some point this summer.
No indictment for escort, staffer in Louisville sex scandal