A weekly look at the mid-major scene
Originally Published: January 3, 2011By Mark Adams | Special to ESPN.com
Here's a look around the mid-major scene at the teams and players you might not know much about (but should):
What you might've missedColonial Athletic Association: CAA teams put up some pretty impressive numbers during the nonconference slate. In nonconference games, the CAA went 3-4 against the ACC and 9-7 versus the A-10. The Colonial collectively earned six victories against the power-six schools. It has 23 nonconference road victories, which is the most for any Division I conference in America. Drexel leads the charge with five road wins, and the conference is on track to post one of its best nonconference records in 20 years.
College of Charleston and Andrew Goudelock bury Tennessee: Goudelock scored 31 points on New Year's Eve, leading the Cougars to a convincing 91-78 win at Tennessee. Charleston ran its record to 9-4, while Goudelock had a pretty good-looking line: 10-of-15 on field goals, 6-of-7 on 3-pointers, six assists, four rebounds and two steals. I volunteer Goudelock as a legitimate All-American candidate. He was so good that Vols coach Bruce Pearl couldn't stand to watch him anymore and got tossed with 5:25 to go. Does that count toward his suspension? The RPI and selection process are simply unfair: The RPI is based on wins, but it does not factor in the lopsided scheduling of the power-six teams. Eighty-four percent of all power-six nonconference games are played either at home or at a neutral site. They visit the non-power-six schools only 9 percent of the time based on a review of all power-six conference schedules. The other 7 percent is played versus other power-six opponents. How can the mid-majors possibly earn better rankings and NCAA tourney seeding with an unfair scheduling environment? The NCAA should mandate that power-six schools play a minimum of two games at mid-major sites each season.
AP Photo/Wade PayneCharleston's Andrew Goudelock scored 31 points in a win at Tennessee on New Year's Eve.
What you shouldn't missMonday -- Iona at Siena: I want a ticket for this one. Iona's Michael Glover (21.2 ppg, 10.5 rpg) versus Siena's Ryan Rossiter (18.0 ppg, 13.2 rpg) is certainly worth the price of admission. Tuesday -- Missouri State at Creighton: The Bears gutted out a great road win at Northern Iowa on Kyle Weems' buzzer-beating 3-pointer to open their Valley schedule. Creighton has one of the best front lines in mid-major basketball led by Kenny Lawson Jr., Greg Echenique and Doug McDermott. Wednesday -- Drexel at Virginia Commonwealth: Drexel is a great road team because it is stingy and devours rebounds, led by double-double man Samme Givens. VCU's Joey Rodriguez is one tough little point guard who makes the offense roll. The winner takes a big step in the CAA title chase. Wednesday -- UAB at Duke: C-USA has a great opportunity to send a message, and UAB could be that messenger. Duke is the undisputed No. 1 team in the land, but don't look past these Blazers. Aaron Johnson is a premier passer and press breaker and Jamarr Sanders and Cameron Moore give Johnson two great targets to feed. Wednesday -- Harvard at Boston College: BC lost last week at Rhode Island but it returns home to face the Crimson. The Ivy could use one more eye-popping win to solidify its lofty No. 12 RPI conference ranking. By the way, Harvard beat MIT last week by the score of 84-58. That's 26 points for the lesser academicians who read my column each week. Thursday -- College of Charleston at Furman: We all know how good Goudelock and the Cougars are, but what about Furman? The Paladins are 9-3 overall and 2-0 in the conference. They're a serious SoCon contender.
Friday -- Cleveland State at Butler: The Vikings' Norris Cole will match up with Butler's Shelvin Mack. Also, check out Matt Howard mixing it up inside against 6-foot-9 Aaron Pogue. This is a premier early Horizon League contest. Saturday -- Jacksonville at Lipscomb: The Atlantic Sun features two of its best in this one. Ayron Hardy leads the Dolphins in points, rebounds and assists, while Adnan Hodzic gives the Bison a deluxe scorer. Saturday -- Lehigh at American: Coach Jeff Jones has a great 1-2 punch with Vlad Moldoveanu and Stephen Lumpkins for American. Lehigh counters with super sophomore C.J. McCollum. I like American in the Patriot League. Saturday -- Portland at Gonzaga: Luke Sikma is one of the top rebounders in the country for Portland. Robert Sacre will need to be physical and smart for Gonzaga. This is a good WCC matchup as the Pilots have won five in a row, and the Zags have won six straight, including victories over then-No. 9 Baylor, Xavier and Oklahoma State. Saturday -- Kent State at Akron:The MAC battle for northeast Ohio is one of those rivalries worth seeing every year. And lately it's determined the league's regular-season champion.
AP Photo/David RichardNorris Cole and Cleveland State take on Butler in a premier Horizon League matchup on Friday.
Who's hotBest passing teams:
Saint Mary's, 18.4 assists per game versus 12.1 turnovers per game: Matthew Dellavedova and Mickey McConnell both see the floor as well as any 1-2 perimeter combo in the country. The Aussie and American combo join forces for more than 11 assists per game.
Iona, 18.5 assists per game and 13.8 turnovers per game: The Gaels' Scott Machado (8.3 apg) is a magician with the ball. He and UAB's Aaron Johnson (8.3 assists per game) continue to battle for the nation's assists lead. Most efficient teams:
Saint Mary's, 50.3 field goal percentage: Six of the Gaels' top nine players shoot over 49 percent from the floor, and they knock down nearly 75 percent of their free throw attempts as a team, while shooting 39 percent from long range.
UCF (13-0), 50.0 percent: Keith Clanton (54.7 percent) and Marcus Jordan (50.4 percent) are both efficient as the Knights' leading scorers. Best long-range threats:
Portland, 44.4 percent: The Pilots are coached by a former Stanford post man, but somewhere along the line Eric Reveno learned the value of skilled shooters. Jared Stohl (45.6 percent) and Nemanja Mitrovic (54.8 percent) are both locked and loaded as two of the best long-range shooters in the nation.
Northern Arizona, 44.1 percent: The Lumberjacks have three top scorers with amazing range. Cameron Jones, Gabe Rogers and Eric Platt all shoot between 44 percent and 51 percent on 3-pointers. The Big Sky has to stretch even bigger to guard these guys. Best band of thieves:
Northwestern State, 12.9 steals per game: The Demons are more than willing to steal, and they do it better than anyone else in the country. Will Pratt and Devon Baker will pick your pocket and then dish and score. This is a fun team to watch.
Virginia Military, 11.1 steals per game: The Keydets not only lead the country in scoring at 93.3 points per game, but they are fourth in steals. If you have never seen VMI play, you are missing one of the best offensive shows in the country. Ron Burks and Keith Gabriel combine for more than five steals per game.
AP Photo/Jeff GentnerTeams better know how to protect the ball around VMI's Ron Burks.
Charleston Southern, 10.8 steals per game: The Buccaneers have six different players who average between one and two steals a game. Stingiest defensive teams: Welcome to Conference USA, where UCF (36.2 opponents' field goal percentage) and Southern Miss (36.3 percent) know how to clamp down on opponents. Best rebounding teams:
Morehead State, led by rebounding machine Kenneth Faried, averages 37.0 boards per game, and Utah State (37.6), with Tai Wesley and Brady Jardine, knows how to rebound as well. Most intimidating defensive teams::
Northwestern State's William Mosley is the nation's leading shot-blocker (4.0 blocks per game), and that doesn't count the number of shots he changes with his wingspan and defensive anticipation.
UCF's Keith Clanton (2.8 bpg) and Tom Herzog (2.1 bpg) give coach Donnie Jones an intimidating twosome in the paint. Two guys worth watching some more:
Charles Jenkins, Hofstra: He is the nation's No. 7 scorer and will probably end his career as one of the top three scorers in CAA history. He combines strength with finesse and a feathery touch. His is also a rare combination of a scorer and distributor.
Justin Hurtt, Tulsa: This kid has been putting a major Hurtt on opponents lately, including dropping 36 points in a win over Weber State on Dec. 16. He then followed that up with 30 points in a loss at Wichita State and 33 in a win over UTSA. Tulsa beat TCU at home last weekend as Hurtt had a pedestrian 23 points. Two teams worth watching some more:
Montana and Montana State are both 2-0 in the Big Sky. Both held serve at home against preseason favorite Weber State and preseason contender Northern Arizona. Montana now looks like the favorite in the league, while its cross-state rival is a legitimate dark horse.
Who's notCentenary is 0-15: The once-proud home of Robert Parrish has fallen on hard times. The Gentlemen have played 11 true road games with a roster of 12 players, including no seniors, two juniors and six freshmen. Their best chance for a win comes on Jan. 13 and 15 as UMKC and Southern Utah travel to Shreveport, La., for rare back-to-back home dates.