Chris Casey’s first season at Niagara was a difficult one, with the Purple Eagles’ lack of depth resulting in the team winning just seven games and finishing last in the MAAC. One bright spot was the presence of redshirt junior guard Antoine Mason, who averaged 25.6 points per game and was a second-team All-MAAC selection.
Unfortunately for Casey and his staff they won’t get a second year to work with Mason, as it was reported by Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports that the guard will be transferring. The school later made its own announcement regarding Mason’s departure. With the guard having his bachelor’s degree, he’ll be eligible to play immediately at the school he chooses to attend next season. And given his ability to score, Mason will receive his fair share of attention on the transfer market.
But his departure is a tough one for Niagara, which loses its most consistent source of offense from a season ago.
“I know Antoine enjoyed playing here, and I’m sure this was a difficult decision for him and his family,” Casey said in the statement. “Antoine played a big role in our basketball program for the past four years and we are proud that he earned his bachelor’s degree from Niagara University.
“Now it is time for us to move forward with the players who are committed to continuing the tremendous legacy of the Niagara University Purple Eagles.”
The question for Niagara: how will they go about accounting for the loss of the nation’s second-leading scorer? Mason’s a big loss obviously, and his decision means that the Purple Eagles will lose three of their top four scorers with the lone returnee being forward Ramone Snowden (8.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg). Another returnee of note is point guard Wesley Myers, who was already needed to step forward with Tahjere McCall transferring at the end of the season.
Niagara’s added two freshmen thus far in guard Matt Scott and forward DayJar Dickson.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.
No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.
Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.
But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.
It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:
After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”: