Stacy Revere/Getty Images

2017-18 Mid-Major Preseason All-Americans

Leave a comment

As is the case with your standard All-America teams, putting together squads of the best players at mid-major schools is a tough thing to do.

Narrowing down the lists of available high-scoring guards and productive front court players who post double-doubles more often than not tends to result in some players being either relegated to an “honorable mention” list or left out altogether.

Get to know these names. 

These are the players that, come March, are going to help you identify the best upsets and Cinderella runs. 

Below are the NBC Sports Preseason Mid-Major All America teams, following by a list of players who merited mention but did not make the cut.

For the sake of this post, members of the following conferences will be excluded: ACC, American, Atlantic 10, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Mountain West, Pac-12, SEC. We’ll also be leaving out BYU and Gonzaga of the WCC.

Tyler Hall (Montana State Athletics)

MID-MAJOR PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN FIRST TEAM

G Tyler Hall, Montana State

The 6-foot-4 junior guard has been a mainstay in head coach Brian Fish’s starting lineup for the past two seasons, starting all 63 games that he’s played in. Last season Hall averaged 23.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game, shooting 47.6 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from three and 83.7 percent from the foul line. Despite being the focus of opposing defenses, Hall manages to score points in an efficient manner.

G Giddy Potts, Middle Tennessee

As cool as his name is, Giddy Potts is well-known for his game as well. Potts helped lead the Blue Raiders to a second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance by averaging 15.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game last season. And with the Blue Raiders having some holes to fill in their rotation, with Jacorey Williams and Reggie Upshaw Jr. out of eligibility, Potts could put even more points on the board as a senior.

F Kevin Hervey, UT-Arlington

The 6-foot-7 senior is a big reason why Scott Cross’ Mavericks are viewed as the preseason favorites in the Sun Belt. Last season Hervey averaged 17.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game as he won Sun Belt Player of the Year honors. Through his first three seasons Hervey has improved his field goal and three-point percentages each year, shooting 45.9 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three as a junior.

F Mike Daum, South Dakota State

“The Dauminator” is coming off of an outstanding sophomore season in which he averaged 25.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, earning Summit League Player of the Year honors as a result. The 6-foot-9 Daum factored into 33.1 percent of the Jackrabbits’ possessions last season, producing an offensive rating of 121.0 per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers. Capable of scoring from just about anywhere on the court, Daum shot 51.4 percent from the field, 41.8 percent from three and 86.9 percent from the foul line last season.

F Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s

Randy Bennett has a team capable of playing deep into March, and Jock Landale is one of the reasons why. As a junior Landale averaged 16.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, taking full advantage in the increase in playing time (28.3 minutes per game after playing 14.5 mpg as a sophomore). Landale shot 61.1 percent from the field last season, and he posted an offensive rating of 121.1 while ranking in the Top 25 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.

Carlos Morales/BigSouthPhotos.com
Carlos Morales/BigSouthPhotos.com

MID-MAJOR PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN SECOND TEAM

G Thomas Wilder, Western Michigan

The 6-foot-3 senior guard is one reason why the Broncos are viewed by many as the favorites to win the Mid-American Conference. Last season Wilder averaged 19.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, shooting 45.8 percent from the field, 44.4 percent from three and 83.2 percent from the foul line. Along with Montana State’s Tyler Hall, Wilder is a player who could threaten 50/40/90 status while either approaching or passing the 20 points per game mark as well.

G Kendrick Nunn, Oakland

Truth be told the Golden Grizzlies have three players who could make a case to be on one of these teams, with Martez Walker and Jalen Hayes (who’s been declared ineligible by the NCAA until December) being the others. But the pick here is Nunn, who makes his return to the court after off-court issues resulted in his being dismissed from the Illinois program in May of 2016. In his final season at Illinois, Nunn averaged 15.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, shooting 42.8 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from three.

G Chris Clemons, Campbell

Clemons, who submitted his name for the NBA Draft before deciding to return to school, is the nation’s top returning scorer (tied with the aforementioned Daum) as he averaged 25.1 points per game last season. In addition to the scoring Clemons contributed 4.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, and he attempted nearly as many three-pointers (333) as two-pointers (341) last season. Expect another big year from the 5-foot-9 junior guard.

F Alize Johnson, Missouri State

The Frank Phillips (Texas) JC product was the Missouri Valley’s top newcomer last season, averaging 14.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. Johnson put up solid shooting percentages from the field (48.8 percent) and from three (38.8) in his first season at Missouri State, and he posted 17 double-doubles (the same number as Jock Landale). This year’s Johnson is expected to lead the way for the preseason favorites in the Valley, and he’s more than capable of doing so.

C Nana Foulland, Bucknell

The 6-foot-9 senior center won Patriot League Player of the Year honors last season after averaging 15.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game on the team that won the league’s regular season and tournament titles. And after shooting 53.6 percent from the field as a sophomore, Foulland made 63.0 percent of his field goal attempts as a junior. If he can improve the foul shooting (56.1 percent last year, which is a career-high), Foulland could add a couple points on his scoring average.

Makai Mason (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

MID-MAJOR PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN THIRD TEAM

G David Nichols, Albany

Albany boasts a backcourt in Nichols and Joe Cremo that deserves more national discussion that it received for much of last season. Nichols averaged 17.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game as a sophomore, taking a substantial leap forward after appearing in only 15 games as a freshman. With Cremo and other experienced options by his side, Nichols leads a team that could unseat Vermont as the best team in America East.

G Devin Sibley, Furman

New Furman head coach Bob Richey won’t lack for options in his first season at the helm, with Devin Sibley being one of those key players on a team that returns all five starters. Sibley, the reigning Player of the Year in the SoCon, averaged 17.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game as a junior in helping to lead the Paladins to 22 wins. Sibley’s shooting percentages were impressive, as he made 52.2 percent of his shots from the field and 44.9 percent of his three-point attempts.

G Makai Mason, Yale

He’s back! After missing all of last season with a broken foot, Makai Mason is back to run the show for the Bulldogs as they look to make a return to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. In 2015-16 Mason averaged 16.0 points, 3.8 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game, and in Yale’s NCAA tournament win over Baylor he went off for 31 points, six rebounds and four assists. After he completes this season at Yale and gets his degree, Mason will play a year as a grad student at…Baylor.

F William Lee, UAB

With the exception of his sophomore season, when he came off the bench in 14 of the 33 games he appeared in, William Lee has pretty much been a fixture in the UAB starting lineup. Last season Lee averaged 13.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from three. With the Blazers expected to be a factor in a tight race at the top of Conference USA, Lee is a player talented enough to push them over the top.

F James Thompson IV, Eastern Michigan

There are only two returning players in college basketball this season who had more double-doubles than James Thompson IV last season: Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado (27) and Louisiana’s Bryce Washington (22). Thompson racked up 20 double-doubles in 2016-17, averaging 14.8 points and 11.2 rebounds per game for the Eagles. Thompson, who ranked fifth in the country in offensive rebounding rate, also shot 57.4 percent from the field and 71.3 percent from the foul line.

Honorable Mention: Bryce Aiken (Harvard), G Joshua Braun (Grand Canyon), F Devontae Cacok (UNCW), G Joe Cremo (Albany), G KJ Feagin (Santa Clara), G Brandon Goodwin (FGCU), C/F Rokas Gustys (Hofstra), F Anthony Lamb (Vermont), G Garrison Mathews (Lipscomb), G Cameron Morse (Youngstown State), G Erick Neal (UT-Arlington), G Tyler Nelson (Fairfield), Micah Seaborn (Monmouth), G Jonathan Stark (Murray State), G Martez Walker (Oakland), F Bryce Washington (Louisiana).

No. 19 Wichita State upends No. 5 Cincinnati 76-72

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (AP) — Dave Stallworth was running the show the last time Wichita State beat a Top 5 team on the road. Landry Shamet took the lead as the Shockers did it again 54 years later.

This one, too, will be a reference point, given all that was at stake.

Shamet scored 19 points, and No. 19 Wichita State ended the nation’s longest home-court winning streak, beating No. 5 Cincinnati 76-72 on Sunday to leave the American Athletic Conference race wide open.

The Shockers (21-5, 11-3) beat a Top 5 team on the road for the first time since 1964. They led most of the way, building an 11-point lead midway through the second half and holding on. Shaquille Morris’ dunk with 5 seconds left finished it off.

The Shockers ran onto the floor for congratulatory chest bumps. Coach Gregg Marshall got a celebratory dunking in the locker room, leaving his light-colored shirt clinging to him.

“It’s tremendous,” Marshall said. “Look at my shirt. College basketball has such tremendous parity. The games are decided by great players making great plays. Landry is a tremendous player.”

The Bearcats (23-4, 12-2) had won their last 39 home games. In their first real home challenge of the season, they wound up playing catch-up and coming up short. Cincinnati hasn’t beaten a ranked team all season, falling to 0-3 with losses to Xavier and Florida.

Cincinnati and Wichita State were expected to contend for the title in the Shockers’ first season in the AAC. Wichita State gave itself a chance with a solid all-around game led by its point guard. Shamet had 16 points in the first half, when the Shockers shredded the nation’s second-ranked defense to take control.

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin was bothered by his team’s “gross, mind-boggling defensive breakdowns,” including allowing the Shockers to get open for those two late layups. Wichita State shot 53 percent from the field, getting open 3-pointers in the first half and layups in the second half.

“We’re just not in a good place right now,” Cronin said. “I hadn’t slept much. We’re not in a good place for a lot of reasons.”

Wichita State closes the regular season by hosting Cincinnati on March 4. Houston (21-5, 11-3) also is in the running for the league title after beating Temple on Sunday.

The Shockers hit seven of eight shots during a 17-3 run that gave them a 34-23 lead. Cincinnati responded by turning up its full-court defense, forcing three quick turnovers, and going on a run that cut the deficit to 42-40 at halftime.

The Shockers showed a little defense of their own, forcing five turnovers while rebuilding their lead to 59-48 with 11 minutes left, matching its biggest of the game. Cincinnati closed to 72-70 on Trevon Scott’s dunk with 13 seconds left, but the Shockers scored on a pair of inbound passes by Landry, the last a full-court heave to Morris for a dunk that provided the final margin.

“This is what we do,” said Austin Reaves, who made the first of the two decisive layups. “We stick together on the road.”

BIG PICTURE

Wichita State: The Shockers needed a win to maintain their chances of a regular season title, and they got it with another good showing on the road. The Shockers are the most successful road team in the nation over the past five years at 47-8, including 7-2 this season.

“This is like our 50th red-out or white-out or black-out,” Marshall said. “We feel comfortable when that happens.”

Cincinnati: The Bearcats moved into the Top 5 even though they hadn’t beaten a ranked team all season. Losses at Houston and at home to Wichita State left them prepared for a plummet.

“As it gets later in the season, every team is better,” said Jacob Evans III, who had 16 points. “It’s not the beginning of conference or the season. Every team knows us well. We’ve got to be able to go to second options when they take away the first ones.”

NO LONGER A SWEET HOME

The Bearcats hadn’t lost at home since a 77-70 defeat against Temple on Dec. 29, 2015. They went 18-0 at Fifth Third Arena last season and were 13-0 at Northern Kentucky’s BB&T Arena, where they’re playing this season while their on-campus arena is renovated.

LONG TIME NO SEE

The Shockers and Bearcats played regularly as members of the Missouri Valley Conference from 1958-70, but it was their first game since 1981.

TOP 5 HISTORY

It was only the fourth time the Shockers have beaten a Top 5 team on the road. They beat No. 5 Oklahoma A&M in 1954 and topped No. 3 Loyola in 1963 and again in 1964 behind Stallworth.

TOUGH WEEKEND IN CINCY

Cincinnati had two teams in the Top 5, and both of them lost at home over the weekend. No. 4 Xavier lost to No. 3 Villanova 95-79 on Saturday at Cintas Center.cincinnati

Andy Kennedy resigns from Ole Miss effective immediately

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Andy Kennedy announced that, effective immediately, he will be stepping down as the head coach at Ole Miss. Tony Madlock will serve as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

The reason is simple: Kennedy wanted to “relieve any external pressure being felt by our current players” and he did not believe that last week’s announcement that this would be his final season in Oxford accomplished that.

“It has become readily apparent to me that my continued presence as the head coach is proving detrimental to these players finishing the season in a fashion that is representative of The Standard for this program that has been clearly established and maintained for over a decade,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Yherefore, I believe that it is in everyone’s best interest that I exit my role as head coach effective immediately. We all know that “clean breaks” are always best, and I should have realized this last Monday. My apologies.”

On Saturday, Ole Miss lost by 17 points at Mississippi State. That came two days after Kennedy went viral for a brutally honest criticism of what his team was going through.

“I can’t get to them,” he said. “I can’t reach them.”

It’s sad that this is the way that it had to end for the best basketball coach that Ole Miss has ever had. But it had to be done.

No. 12 Duke beats No. 11 Clemson as defensive resurgence continues

Mike Comer/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Grayson Allen finished with 19 points, four assists and four steals, scoring 17 of his points in the first half, and Wendell Carter added 15 points, 10 boards and three blocks as No. 12 Duke won their fourth straight game without Marvin Bagley III, 66-57.

No. 11 Clemson was short-handed as well, and that’s something that needs to be noted. Not only are they playing without Donte Grantham, who tore his ACL earlier this year, but Shelton Mitchell was not in the lineup after suffering a nasty concussion at Florida State on Wednesday.

The Tigers were a No. 3 seed when the bracket reveal occurred last Sunday, but like Ohio State and Oklahoma, they have now lost back-to-back games; 11 of the top 16 teams have lost a game in the last week.

But the story here more than anything is Duke.

Yes, Allen finished with 19 points and continues to play well without Bagley on the floor. Getting him into a rhythm is critically important for this team. He was averaging 14.7 points in 24 games with Bagley. He is averaging 22.3 points in the last three games that Bagley has missed, and that does not include the 37-point outburst he had when Bagley went down with an injury against Michigan State.

Coach K also has had a chance to develop some confidence in his bench. Javin DeLaurier had 10 boards on Sunday. Marques Bolden didn’t play a done of minutes, but he still finished with five points, three boards and a pair of blocks. He was, generally speaking, a positive influence on the game.

But here is the most important and perplexing nugget: Duke, for the third straight game, was excellent defensively. They’ve now allowed fewer than 1.0 points-per-possession in each of the last three games. They are clearly not the same time offensively without Bagley’s presence on the floor, but it is impossible to ignore what they have been defensively in the last 10 days without him.

To put it into context: For all the talk about how much of a problem Duke’s defense has been, the Blue Devils are now ranked 43rd in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. They were 79th after they lost to North Carolina, the last game that Bagley played. Villanova, who many believe is the best team in the country when healthy, is 42nd.

The question we need to ask is whether or not that will continue once Bagley makes his return.

Because the only thing standing between Duke and a Final Four is their inability to defend.

No. 8 Ohio State falls at No. 22 Michigan, Michigan State moves into first in Big Ten

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

After all of the drama and the speculation about whether or not Ohio State or Purdue was the best team in the Big Ten, water has seemingly found its level.

On Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor, No. 8 Ohio State lost their second straight game, falling 74-62 at No. 22 Michigan and allowing No. 2 Michigan State — who had one of college basketball’s greatest comebacks on Saturday at Northwestern — to slide into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with just one week left of the regular season.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led the way with 17 points while Jordan Poole added 15 off the bench in the win.

The Wolverines did a good job of slowing down Ohio State’s all-american forward, Keita Bates-Diop. KBD finished with 17 points and seven boards, but he shot just 5-for-17 from the floor. Jae-Sean Tate led the way with 20 points and 15 boards for the Buckeyes.

There was a special moment before this game even started as Austin Hatch, a two-time survivor of plane crashes that killed his entire immediate family, took part in the team’s Senior Day.

VIDEO: Michigan celebrates plane crash survivor Austin Hatch’s Senior Day

Duane Burleson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

If you don’t know the story of Michigan senior Austin Hatch, you should.

He’s survived two plane crashes in his life. The first, in 2003, robbed him of his mother, 11-year old sister and five-year old brother. In 2011, to celebrate his commitment to the Wolverines, Hatch’s father flew them up to the family’s vacation home, but the plane crashed into a garage killing Hatch’s dad and his stepmom and leaving Austin critically injured.

He had a severe brain trauma, a punctured lung, broken ribs and a broken collarbone, and in order to manage the swelling in his brain, he was put into a medically-induced coma for eight months.

He managed to return and even played for the Wolverines during the 2014-15 season, but he eventually made the decision to retire from basketball at the end of the year. He did, however, remain a part of the program and on Sunday, during Michigan’s Senior Day, he warmed up with the team and was introduced to the crowd as a starter and no, I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying: