tip-off marathon

Wofford’s grueling start to the season began well before their 7:00 a.m. game

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Karl Cochran (AP Photo)

Wofford took care of business on Tuesday morning, picking up a win over one of the best mid-major programs in the country before the majority of the country had made it in to work.

The Terriers knocked off Iona 86-73 in the 7:00 a.m. game of the Tip-Off Marathon, coming from behind in the second half to beat the Gaels despite the fact that they were ending one of the most grueling six-day stretches any team will have to deal with this season.

The ordeal actually started in late September.

That’s when the Wofford staff got an email saying that the flight they had booked out of the Greensville-Spartanburg, the one that was supposed to leave at 8:45 a.m. ET, had been cancelled. The first leg of Wofford’s trip out to Palo Alto, California, where the Terriers squared off with Stanford at 9:00 p.m. PT on Friday night, would be departing at 6:20 a.m. ET on Thursday morning.

To catch the flight, Wofford had a 3:45 a.m. wake-up, departing from campus at 4:30 a.m. They touched in Chicago for their layover a few hours later, but the second leg of their flight hadn’t been changed. “An hour-and-a-half layover turned into a four-and-a-half hour layover,” assistant coach Dustin Kerns told NBCSports.com.

By the time the team landed in California, it was 2:30 p.m. PT, 11 hours after the team had departed on their first flight and 14 hours after they woke up on Thursday morning. From there, the Terriers got on a bus and went straight to Maples Pavilion, finally being allowed into the building at 4:15 p.m. for a 4:30 p.m. practice.

After a full practice, a trip to the hotel to check-in and shower up, and a team dinner, it was 10:00 p.m. PT, or 1:00 a.m. ET. That’s 22 hours after they had woken up, or what one might call a long freakin’ day.

Shootaround was at 10:15 a.m. PT on Friday morning, meaning that the Terriers were up at 8:45 a.m. despite the fact that they wouldn’t be playing until 9:00 p.m. PT, or what would feel like midnight for a group of college kids from South Carolina. Playing the waiting game, sitting around and doing nothing while you kill time, is just as bad, if not worse, than playing at 7:00 a.m.

“You get tired doing nothing,” Kerns said.

On Saturday, the Terriers had another cross country travel day, finally arriving back on campus at 12:45 a.m. ET on Sunday morning. After initially planning on practicing early on Sunday and Monday mornings, trying to acclimate their players to an early tip, the staff decided their players had been through enough. They would practice that afternoon at 4:30 p.m. and on Monday afternoon at 2:30 p.m., and on Tuesday, “just get up and play the game,” Kerns said.

After a big team meal at Olive Garden, Wofford held their shootaround — a walkthrough and film session going over the scout on Iona — on Monday night before taking the team to a hotel just off of campus. (Ironically enough, it was the same hotel Iona was staying in.) It was lights out at 9:45 p.m. with a 4:45 a.m. wake-up call, and since the hotel was less than a mile from campus, the Terriers were at their arena by 5:00 a.m.

There would be no team meal before the game, but the staff forced the players to scarf down granola bars, bananas, bagels, gatorade and plenty of water while they did their usual pregame routine — getting changed, getting taped, getting stim, hitting the whirlpool. By the time the game started, it was as if the game was being played at a normal time, although an external factor, Kerns said, helped play a role.

The Wofford arena has windows near the ceiling that allow in light during the day. The athletics staff hung up black curtains over those windows, eliminating the natural light in the gym and giving the arena the feel of a night game.

“Once the game ended, the guys said it felt like a night game,” Kerns said.

But it wasn’t. It was a 7:00 a.m. tip on a Tuesday, meaning that the game ended just after 9:00 a.m.; the team’s obligations weren’t over yet.

“We made them go to class,” Kerns said. “We had guys make it to their 9:30 a.m. classes.”

Saint Mary’s takes care of New Mexico State despite committing 22 turnovers

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New Mexico State and Saint Mary’s met early Tuesday morning, and something that wasn’t an issue for either team was energy as both teams played hard from the start. What was an issue, however, was the teams’ ability to execute offensively as the Aggies and Gaels combined to commit 38 turnovers. Saint Mary’s was the better of the two teams in regards to how they executed when they didn’t turn the ball over, shooting 54.2% from the field in the 83-71 victory.

Randy Bennett’s Gaels managed to score 1.1 points per possession despite turning the ball over on 29 percent of their possessions, with the team assisting on just over 69 percent of its made baskets. Emmett Naar (seven assists) and Kerry Carter (six) were responsible for 13 of Saint Mary’s 18 assists, with Carter also accounting for 12 points, nine rebounds and three steals as he just missed out on his second double-double in as many games.

By comparison New Mexico State shot just 36 percent from the field, with reigning WAC Player of the Year Daniel Mullings scoring a team-best 18 points to lead Marvin Menzies’ Aggies.

Mullings was one of three headliners to be hampered by early foul trouble, with teammate Tshilidzi Nephawe and Saint Mary’s forward Brad Waldow also picking up two first-half fouls. And while Nephawe was unable to get going in the second half the same couldn’t be said for Waldow, with the All-WCC player tallying 14 points and ten rebounds in the final 20 minutes.

Waldow finished the game with 16 points and 12 rebounds, and that performance combined with those of guards Carter and Aaron Bright (21 points, four assists) and forward Garrett Jackson (16 points, six rebounds) proved to be too much for the visitors from Las Cruces to overcome.

Saint Mary’s will undoubtedly look to clean things up offensively moving forward, as they committed 22 turnovers on the night. But even with that being the case, the Gaels’ work when they were able to take care of the basketball proved to be the difference.

Gonzaga student wins $500 after hitting the craziest half-court shot (VIDEO)

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During the under 16 minute TV timeout in Monday night’s game between No. 22 SMU and No. 13 Gonzaga, a Gonzaga student named Brad hit a half-court shot to win $500.

Doesn’t seem too newsworthy, right? I mean, this happens quite often at midnight madnesses and other games throughout the year. Only thing is Brad’s wild shot bounced off the top of the backboard and headed toward the rafters before gravity brought it through the bottom of the net.

His shot had a little Don Nelson in Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals to it.

What makes this all the more amazing is that this isn’t even the most ridiculous half-court shot someone has made inside the McCarthey Athletic Center this season. Kyle Wiltjer still holds that title (and a world record).

Viewer’s Guide for the 2014 Tip-Off Marathon: Loaded slate, marquee nightcap and great mid-major matchups

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On Monday evening, the college basketball season will truly begin, as the annual Tip-Off Marathon and it’s loaded slate of games will take place. There are 19 games in total on the schedule, and by the time it is all said and done, we could very well be looking at 29 straight hours of basketball.

Who doesn’t love that?

Since most of you are normal and don’t do things like watch 29 straight hours of basketball, I’ll go ahead and help you prioritize which games you need to watch, a pressing concern for all of you, I know (all times EST, games on Tuesday unless noted):

RELATED: The full schedule can be found here


The Champions Classic (Indianapolis):

  • 1. No. 5 Kansas vs. No. 1 Kentucky, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN): The final game of the event will, as always, end up being the best, as preseason No. 1 Kentucky takes on a Kansas team that will likely be better despite losing Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. The Jayhawks are going to have the bodies up front to match up with the size of John Calipari’s front line, but it will be interesting to see how the young and inexperienced point guards (Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham) Bill Self has at his disposal will handle the pressure of a nationally televised game. They didn’t play particularly well in KU’s opener. This game will also feature a ton of future NBA talent, from Kelly Oubre, Wayne Selden and Cliff Alexander to Karl Towns, Trey Lyles and, well, the rest of Kentucky’s roster.
  • 2. No. 18 Michigan State vs. No. 4 Duke, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN): This game won’t have as much intrigue as the nightcap will, as the Spartans are in a bit of a rebuilding mode. But that doesn’t change the fact that it will be Tom Izzo vs. Mike Krzyzewski, or that this will be our first look at Duke’s hyped trio of Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones against real competition. One thing to note: Travis Trice looked like a star in Michigan State’s opener against Navy.


3. No. 22 SMU at No. 13 Gonzaga, Mon. 11:00 p.m. (ESPN2): One of the most intriguing matchups of the day. Gonzaga is a top ten team (according to us) this season as they get a healthy Kevin Pangos, transfer Kyle Wiltjer and freshman Domantas Sabonis. SMU would have been in that same conversation had they been able to get Emmanuel Mudiay onto campus for a season. Even without him, they return enough to be a tough defensive team, although losing Markus Kennedy for the semester hurt.They are led by point guard Nic Moor,e and Moore vs. Pangos will be a highlight of this event.

4. No. 25 Utah at No. 16 San Diego State, 4:00 p.m. (ESPN): Utah, led by Delon Wright, has the pieces to make a push for second place in the Pac-12 this season. The Aztecs lost Xavier Thames to graduation, but if Dwayne Polee can continue to make strides and their young guards — Trey Kell, Kevin Zabo, Dakarai Allen — can have an impact, the Aztecs should win the MWC.

5. No. 12 Wichita State vs. Memphis, 2:00 p.m. in Sioux Falls, SD (ESPN): Wichita State hasn’t lost a regular season game in 17 months, returning the majority of their key pieces not named Cleanthony Early from a team that went 35-0. Memphis as much talent stockpiled as anyone, especially up front, but they also just lost to Division II Christian Brothers in an exhibition.


6. Marquette at No. 20 Ohio State, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2): This will be our first chance to witness a pair of new eras beginning. Buzz Williams moved of from Marquette during the offseason, ushering in an opportunity for Steve Wojciechowski to step in and take over the program. He’ll be going up against Ohio State in their first meaningful game in four years without Aaron Craft.

7. Miami at No. 7 Florida, Mon. 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU): Florida should once again be a top 15 team and the kind of program that will push Kentucky in the SEC, especially with Kasey Hill and Chris Walker back. Miami was bad last season, but they add Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan to the program and could end up making the NCAA tournament.

8. Toledo at No. 13 VCU, 6:00 p.m. (ESPNU): VCU is VCU, a now-perennial top 25 program that is always entertaining to watch. Toledo, however, won 27 games last season, returns essentially the entire teams and will enter this season as the favorite to win the MAC.

9. Northern Iowa at Stephen F. Austin, 9:00 a.m. (ESPN2): UNI and SFA are two of the best mid-major programs in the country, well-coached teams that execute offensively and play tough defensive. We could also be looking at two NCAA tournament teams, as the Lumberjacks are coming off of a win over VCU in the 2014 NCAA tournament while the Panthers are the favorite to give Wichita State a run in the Missouri Valley.

10. Auburn at Colorado, 1:00 a.m. (ESPN2): The Bruce Pearl era in Auburn will get its first national television exposure with a trip to Boulder to take on the Buffaloes, who will be without Spencer Dinwiddie.

11. Iona at Wofford, 7:00 a.m. (ESPN2): Another great mid-major matchup early in the day. Iona loves to press, they love to get out and run, they score a lot of points and they win a lot of games. Wofford plays a much slower, more deliberate brand of basketball, but they made the tournament last season and return everyone from that team.

12. Manhattan at UMass, 11:00 a.m. (ESPN2): If you like watching teams play uptempo, back-and-forth basketball, this is the game for you. Both teams love to press and both teams love to run the floor in transition. It may not be pretty, but it will be fun.


13. Baylor at South Carolina, 12:00 p.m. (ESPN): Scott Drew vs. Frank Martin might be the biggest difference in coaching styles you’ll come across. The Bears will be in a bit of a rebuilding reason as they try to replace Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson, while South Carolina is perpetually rebuilding.

14. Texas Tech at LSU, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU): Texas Tech is Texas Tech, but LSU should actually be good enough to compete for a top four spot in the SEC this season, especially if Texas Tech transfer Josh Gray turns out to be able to play.

15. New Mexico State at Saint Mary’s, 3:00 a.m. (ESPN2): NMSU lost Sim Bhullar but will replace him with … Tanveer Bhullar. Saint Mary’s will be looking to build a tournament-caliber resume against this season behind Stanford-transfer Aaron Bright, Washington-transfer Desmond Simmons and Brad Waldow.

16. High Point at Hawaii, 5:00 a.m. (ESPN2): John Brown of High Point is one of the best dunkers in the country.

17. Detroit at Oregon, 11:00 p.m. (ESPNU): Our first national glimpse at Oregon this season, who had one of the most disastrous offseasons in recent memory.

The entire list of games for the 2014 college basketball Tip-Off Marathon

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On Monday afternoon, ESPN released its schedule for its Tip-Off Marathon, more than 24 consecutive hours of college basketball to kick off the 2014-2015 season.

This field of games is headlined by the State Farm Champions Classic in Indianapolis. The doubleheader begins with Michigan State taking on Duke followed by a top-5 matchup between Kansas and Kentucky.

MORE: Viewer’s Guide breaking down the games

The marathon begins with Miami and Florida meeting for their first regular season matchup since 2005. It’s part of a home-and-home series between the two schools. Later that night is a big non-conference battle between SMU and Gonzaga. This would have been a game between two top-15 teams if Emmanuel Mudiay had enrolled at SMU.

Wichita State, which hasn’t lost a regular season game since March 2013, takes on Memphis in a game played in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. That is followed by a very good early evening game between Utah and San Diego State at 4 p.m.

Baylor vs. Kentucky and Stanford vs. the two-time reigning national champion UConn headline the pair of women’s basketball games.

Here is the entire list of games:

Monday, Nov. 17

  • Baylor vs. Kentucky (women), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • Miami at Florida, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • UConn vs. Stanford (women), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • SMU vs. Gonzaga, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • Detroit vs. Oregon (ESPNU) — Part of Legends Classic

Tuesday, Nov. 18

  • Auburn vs. Colorado, 1 a.m. (ESPN2)
  • New Mexico State vs. St. Mary’s, 3 a.m. (ESPN2)
  • High Point vs. Hawaii, 5 a.m. (ESPN2)
  • Iona vs. Wofford, 7 a.m. (ESPN2)
  • Northern Iowa vs. Stephen F. Austin (ESPN2)
  • Manhattan vs. UMass, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
  • Baylor vs. South Carolina, noon (ESPN)
  • Wichita State vs. Memphis, 2 p.m. (ESPN) — Game played in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Utah vs. San Diego State, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
  • Toledo vs. VCU, 6 p.m. (ESPNU) — Part of Legends Classic
  • Michigan State vs. Duke, 7 p.m. (ESPN) — Champions Classic played in Indianapolis
  • Marquette vs. Ohio State, 7:30 (ESPN2)
  • Kansas vs. Kentucky, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN) — Champions Classic played in Indianapolis
  • Texas Tech vs. LSU, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Wichita State will play Memphis in South Dakota next season


Wichita State went to the Final Four last season, and is currently 34-0 entering the NCAA tournament. This year, the Shockers have been continually criticized for its schedule.

The Missouri Valley Conference was down this season, added to that lack of competition was Creighton joining the new Big East. Out of conference, the Shockers defeated BYU, Tulsa, Tennessee, North Carolina Central and Saint Louis — all tournament teams.

Gregg Marshall is willing to schedule high-major programs, though some power conference teams have been reluctant to do so. That will change in 2014-2015. According to a report from Gary Parrish of CBS Sports, Wichita State has reached an agreement with Memphis to play a neutral site game in South Dakota.

The Shockers and Tigers will play on Nov. 18 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. According to Parrish, it will be a late afternoon tip, part of ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon.

“We’ve been crucified for our schedule … even though we played five non-conference games against teams that are in the NCAA tournament, which is more than anybody else in our region,” Marshall told Parrish. “The problem with our schedule was our conference schedule, and we can’t do anything about that. But we have set out to schedule even better.”

Wichita State can silence doubters with a deep tournament run, or even better: a return trip to the Final Four. The Shockers are the top seed in the Midwest, easily the most difficult region. In the Round of 32, Wichita State could get Kentucky or in-state opponent Kansas State, followed by potential matchups with Louisville in the Sweet 16 and Duke or Michigan in the Elite 8.

“And we have to win that game; I know that,” Marshall told CBS Sports. “If we lose that game, the detractors will win. So we have to win. And I’m excited about it.”

Wichita State plays the winner of the second No. 16 seed play-in game between Cal Poly and Texas Southern. The Shockers’ Round of 64 game tips at 7:10 p.m. on Friday.