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Cincinnati: Head coach Bob Huggins is NOT happy about the schedule his team has had to play the last two weeks. While he admits his team was outplayed by very good opponents the last two Saturdays (losses @ Charlotte and @ DePaul) he said his team was at a competitive disadvantage because of the scheduling. Each of the last two Saturday’s the Bearcats have had to play two very good opponents on the road and BOTH of them had a week off to prepare for their game with Cincy. The Bearcats, on the other hand, had huge weekday games leading up to those contests. Before playing @ Charlotte, the Bearcats played @ Louisville on Wednesday. Before playing @ DePaul, Cincy played host to city rival Xavier on Thursday night. The time between their win over Xavier and their game @ DePaul was just 41 hours. Huggins said for his team to have less than 48 hours to prepare for a game while his opponent has a full week to get ready is “totally ridiculous”. It can be a problem, however there is a fine line to be drawn here. Huggins’ program is also getting big time exposure with those weekday games due to the ESPN TV contract. Thus for now he’ll have to live with some Thursday – Saturday game situations. Most of the other teams in Conference USA have also had to deal with it, just not on back to back weeks.
Kent State: The Flashes travel to Buffalo on Tuesday night in a key MAC match up. These two teams met back on January 19th and KSU came away with a hard fought 85-80 win in overtime. There was a “side note” to that game that many people are unaware of. Because of a huge snowstorm in the area on that day, the assigned officials for the game were not able to get to the arena. Thus, Kent State had to call two locally based officials to call the game. Problem is, both of those officials were FORMER KENT STATE PLAYERS! The Buffalo coaches and players were infuriated with the situation. The final foul count was Buffalo 29, Kent 15. Total free throws attempted were Buffalo 20, Kent 37. Hard to believe the Bulls were able to hang close and take the game to overtime with that situation. That adds a nice twist to Tuesday night’s game when Kent travels to Buffalo.
Kansas: Well the Jayhawks lost their first Big 12 Conference game on Monday Night. They lost 80-79 in double overtime @ Texas Tech on Monday night. The crazy part about that game is, KU pretty much shut down Tech in both overtimes yet still won. In fact, the Red Raiders had just ONE field goal in each five minute overtime period, yet still found a way to win the game. That’s right, Tech scored just two baskets in 10 minutes. Problem for KU is, the Jayhawks scored just four hoops during the same span. In the two overtimes, the Raiders scored six points from the free throw line and KU scored just one. That win for TT really solidifies their position as an NCAA tourney team. Kansas, who is looking for a #1 seed, now hosts a red hot Iowa State team on Saturday. Tech has two more very tough games on deck @ Oklahoma State on Saturday before hosting Texas next Tuesday.
Drake: The Bulldogs were without (kind of) one of their key performers last Saturday when they traveled to Southwest Missouri State. Starting guard Klayton Korver (9 PPG) didn’t play because of a sprained left ankle he suffered last Thursday. However, he did score 2 points. That’s right, he didn’t play a second in the game, but scored two points. Head coach Tom Davis put Korver in to shoot two free throws resulting from a technical foul on SMS. He made both and was then taken out. Korver’s status for Wednesday big time rivalry game @ Northern Iowa is questionable.
Iowa State: The Cyclones are one of the hottest teams on college basketball right now. Since losing @ KSU three weeks ago (63-51), ISU has rolled to five consecutive wins including three against ranked teams. After their KSU loss, they were 0-5 in the Big 12 and left for dead. They are now 5-5 and hosting that same Wildcat team on Tuesday night. One of the reasons for ISU resurgence is freshman guard Tasheed Carr. He comes off the bench and gives the Cyclones a big offensive boost. That wasn’t happening until recently. In his first 17 games as a Cyclone, Carr scored in double figures just once. He has now hit double digits in three of his last four games. After hosting Kansas State on Tuesday, ISU travels to Kansas on Saturday.
Southwest Missouri State: The Bears could be a bit shorthanded on Tuesday night when they travel to Indiana State. Starting guard Tyler Chaney (9 PPG), injured his knee in Saturday’s win over Drake and he will not play on Tuesday. Also, starting guard Anthony Shavies (9 PPG) has been battling the flu. Shavies is expected to play however it is not known how effective he will be. He leads SMS in assists at four per game.
St. Louis: The Billikens have actually been playing better as of late. After losing to DePaul on February 6th by just 3 points, the Billikens went to South Florida and won by 8. They then came home to take on a very good Charlotte team last Saturday and lost by 6 points in overtime. If you remember in last week’s Midwest Report, head coach Brad Soderberg “benched” his two senior starters (Reggie Bryant and Izik Ohanon) in favor of a younger lineup. The two seniors are St. Louis’ leading scorers this season. They are now coming off the bench. Bryant, the team’s leading scorer (14 PPG), however, is now on an indefinite leave of absence. Apparently his brother is in the hospital in Baltimore and Bryant flew there to be with him. He missed last Saturday’s game vs. Charlotte. As of now, it is not known when he will return. St. Louis hosts Indiana – Purdue Fort Wayne (IPFW) on Wednesday before traveling to Louisville on Sunday.
Indiana: The Hoosiers have NOT won a game outside the state of Indiana in more than a year. Their last win outside state lines was @ Penn State on February 11th, 2003. On Tuesday night they get another chance as they travel to Ohio State. Some good news for IU, their leading scorer, Bracey Wright, who has been out with a sprained ankle could return on Tuesday. Wright practiced on Monday for the first time since February 2nd. He will be a game time decision. If he doesn’t play on Tuesday, he almost surely will play this Sunday @ Michigan. Since his absence the Hoosiers are 1-1 SU (2-0 ATS) losing at Illinois by 13 and then whipping Minnesota 71-56 in Bloomington last Saturday.
Michigan: Starting PG Daniel Horton continues to be suspended indefinitely on charges of domestic violence. He has his initial court hearing today (Tuesday) and there is an outside chance he could be re-instated for Wednesday night’s game at Wisconsin. Horton has not been allowed to practice with the team or sit on the bench during games. He has been working out on his own.
Wisconsin: Reserve forward/center Brian Butch is out with mononucleosis. Butch was diagnosed with mono last Wednesday and has subsequently missed the Iowa game (last Wed) and the Illinois game on Saturday. He will not play on Wednesday against Michigan. His status is really up in the air. We doubt he will be back anytime soon. Starting/reserve forward Zach Morley returned to the court last Saturday in the Badgers 11 point loss @ Illinois after missing Wednesday’s home game vs. Iowa due to a lower leg injury. He should play again Wednesday vs. Michigan.
Ball State: The Cardinals are simply having problems finishing games as of late. While they have played well for much of the game, they seem to “fizzle” on offense late in the game costing them wins. They have now lost three consecutive games. On February 6th in a 90-81 home loss to Marshall, BSU scored only 2 points in the final 2:42 and that was a meaningless layup at the buzzer. Last Wednesday, the Cardinals led Miami (Oh) 52-48 with just under three minutes to play. They didn’t score another point losing at the buzzer 54-52. Last Saturday, Ball State trailed @ Buffalo 59-58 with three minutes remaining but missed their final six shots and didn’t score a point in a 67-58 loss. That means in the last three games “down the stretch” (approx. the final three minutes of each game) BSU has scored just one TOTAL basket. That will get you some losses in a hurry.
Iowa: Head coach Steve Alford made a change in his starting line up last Saturday. Starting center, Erek Hansen, was replaced by freshman Alex Thompson. He played 27 minutes, scored 5 points and picked up 3 rebounds in an 11-point win over Northwestern on Saturday. Hansen has really struggled during conference play scoring just 18 points in 10 games. He has also picked up 39 fouls in those 10 games. Alford will stick with Thompson in the starting line up when the Hawkeyes travel to Purdue on Wednesday. Alford also kept key reserve forward Doug Thomas on the bench for the entire game vs. the Wildcats. Alford was sending a message that now is the time to start performing. Thomas apparently got the message as he was seen shooting by himself in Carver Hawkeye Arena for two hours before Monday’s practice. He will play on Wednesday.