Tag: Illinois St

Zach Johnson and Brandon Goodwin Lead FGCU to 98-87 win

Florida Gulf Coast (FGCU) senior guards Brandon Goodwin and Zach Johnson proved why they are all-conference selections in game one as they combined for 48 points in a 98-87 win over Illinois St.

“Those two guards are so good and they just keep attacking,” Illinois St head coach Dan Muller said after the game. “I said it before the game; I don’t know if we’ll see a better backcourt than those two the entire year.”

Illinois St, which only allowed opponents to score 61 points per game on 38 percent shooting last season, gave on 98 points in an effort that Muller called embarrassing.

“I’m pretty shocked by what we looked liked defensively,” Muller said. “It’s a lot of things we need to fix.”

It was a back-and-forth first half with neither team leading by more than six points. That margin was held by the Redbirds at 25-19, with 10:19 remaining in the half, after they completed an 11-2 run. That was promptly followed by an 11-0 run by the Eagles put them up 30-25. The two teams would go back-and-forth with the Eagles taking a 45-42 lead into halftime

The second half started in a similar fashion with the two teams trading baskets for the first six minutes. After Illinois St took a 56-54 lead on sophomore guard Madison Williams’ three-pointer with 14:32 remaining, FGCU went on a 21-9 run to grab a 75-65 lead with 9:36 remaining. However, Illinois St refused to go away.

The Redbirds methodically clawed their way back into the game thanks to 57 percent shooting from behind the arc in the second half. They were even able to cut the lead until one at 83-82 with 4:33 remaining.

That was as close as they would get as FGCU senior guard Christian Terrell hit a three to put FGCU up 86-82 on the next possession to create a comfortable working margin.

Johnson’s 27 led the Eagles in scoring while Goodwin pitched in 21 and tied with Terrell and sophomore guard Christian Carlyle with 8 rebounds.

Junior guard Keyshawn Evans led the Redbirds with 28 points while junior forward Phil Fayne scored 24. Junior forward Milik Yarbrough had a team-high 8 rebounds.

FGCU returns to the court on Monday with a road game at Siena while Illinois St will play South Carolina in the first round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, which was moved to Conway, S.C. due to Hurricane Maria.

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Argument Against Expansion (Welcome Northern Iowa)

Underachieving Ed Davis and North Carolina would be an at-large candidate in a 96-team tournament

If there was ever a year where the talk of expansion was horrible, it would be this year. This is the weakest bubble I’ve ever seen and there’s talk about expanding to 96 teams.

The NCAA needs to take a step back and look at its priorities. You can’t get an eight-team playoff for football, but you can find a way to have a 96-team basketball tournament. That’s way too many. It devalues a regular season which many people already believe pales in comparison to its postseason.

Let’s be serious, in a 96-team tournament, we’re giving out at-large bids to Illinois St, St. John’s and possibly North Carolina. This is a tournament that’s supposed to crown a national champion. What business does any of those teams have playing in the tournament. Playing in the NCAA tournament is an earned privilege. North Carolina barely deserves to play in the NIT.

Expanding the field to 96 teams is a completely asinine idea and borderline irresponsible.

MID-AMERICAN: This is a conference that used to routinely get multiple bids, but that hasn’t happened in years. This season, there’s a small chance that could happen again. Kent St has six top-100 wins and really had its way with a solid mid-major conference this season. There is no reason to believe that any team will be to challenge the Golden Flashes this week in Cleveland. They’ve been impressive all season and look poised to get back to the NCAA tournament.

BIG WEST: UC-Santa Barbara would’ve strolled away with the regular season title, but some missteps on the road forced it into a tie for the league title with Pacific. UCSB swept the Pacific during the regular season including a double-digit win at Pacific early last month. You have to wonder about UCSB’s inconsistent play. This tournament is designed to protect the top two seeds and I think there will be a third meeting between Pacific and UCSB. Pacific coach Bob Thomason has been here before and he knows how to navigate through this tournament. The Pacific Tigers will go dancing.

SOUTHLAND: You may not find a more exciting team to watch than Sam Houston St, the Southland’s regular season champion. The Bearkats routinely score in the 90’s and have broken the 100-point mark twice this season already. They were tough for conference opponents to contend with as they only have two league-losses on their resume. It will not be easy as there are some experienced teams in the Southland like Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and UT-Arlington. However, having to go up-and-down with the Bearkats in a tournament setting will be a challenge this week and that’s why they’ll be going dancing.

SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC: Jackson St rolled through conference play at 17-1 and is the heavy favorite this week in the SWAC tournament. The Tigers played a tough non-conference schedule with nine of their first 11 games away from home. That schedule clearly prepared them for league play as no one was able to provide much resistance. For fans of the conference, you have to hope that the Tigers are able to cut the nets down and get some upsets in other conference tournaments because if not, they’ll be relegated to the play-in game.

Today’s bracket projections:

Last Four In: South Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Georgia Tech
Last Four Out: Washington, Seton Hall, Memphis, Arizona St

Click the link below
NCAA Projected Bracket

More Conference Tournament Previews

PATRIOT LEAGUE: Lehigh won the regular season crown but it does not give of the vibe that its a favorite. It only finished one game ahead Bucknell and two games ahead of Lafayette, both of whom have victories over Lehigh. I just worry about the Mountain Hawks ability to get through this tournament. Even their first round opponent, Army, finished with a .500 overall record in the regular season. I believe Navy has an ambush set up and will win this tournament-only to be sent to the play-in game.

MISSOURI VALLEY: This is a tournament where the No. 1 seed doesn’t win all that often. That’s because of how competitive the conference is. Northern Iowa is far and away the best team in the league, but they’re going to the Big Dance regardless of whether they win this tournament or not. Illinois St guard Osiris Eldridge came back for this very moment. He saw the dream of going to the Big Dance vanish in OT of last year’s MVC title game. This year, he’s going to cut the nets down.

NORTHEAST: Defending champion Robert Morris had a pretty good stranglehold on the NEC before two late season losses ended forced them into a first-place tie with Quinnipiac. They both finished three games better than Mount St. Mary’s, but no team in the conference has it going more than Mount St. Mary’s. After a rough start, the Mountaineers have won 10 in a row. At the end of the NEC tournament, it’ll be 13 in a row.

COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION: Routinely, the CAA is one of the best conferences outside of the top-10 and this year was no different. Old Dominion, Northeastern, William & Mary, George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth, the league’s top five teams, can compete with teams from any conference and all five are capable of winning this tournament. William & Mary’s style of play will be difficult to prepare for in such short time and I expect the Tribe to go dancing.