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Tag:Jeff Borzello
Posted on: February 29, 2012 10:38 am
Edited on: February 29, 2012 10:44 am
 

Fall of the UCLA program detailed in new report

Under Ben Howland, the UCLA doctrines instilled under John Wooden have quickly deteriorated. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Players taking drugs, teammates fighting each other, an elite head coach losing control of his program.

The tales detailed by Sports Ilustrated’s George Dohrmann in his report on the fall of the UCLA program are eye-opening. With that said, we’re not looking at an NCAA investigation in the works, and, in fact, the reaction by most people is a simple raised eyebrow or two and a lack of surprise at the behavior. 

Dohrmann places most of the blame on the 2008 and 2009 recruiting classes, as well as the lack of control and discipline instilled by head coach Ben Howland. Once guys like Russell Westbrook, Jordan Farmer, Lorenzo Mata-Real, Josh Shipp and other players from the 2004 and 2005 recruiting classes left the program, the doctrines of “Wooden’s Pyramid of Success” – the UCLA way – quickly deteriorated with the younger players.

There was widespread drinking and drug use among the players in Westwood, including one story of three players going to a rave on New Year’s Eve – after specifically being asked not to go out – and using Ecstasy and partying until 5 a.m. Some of the players, according to Dorhmann, bragged about still feeling the effects of the drugs at practice the next morning.

Then there’s Reeves Nelson, of course. The heavily-tattoed power forward from Modesto, Calif. was supposed to bring toughness and other Howland philosophies to the table. Instead, he brought nothing but chaos and instability to the program. 

Some of the “highlights” of Nelson’s tenure with the Bruins, as laid-out by Dohrmann:

  • Urinating on Tyler Honeycutt’s clothes and flipping his bed over
  • Purposely pulling down on James Keefe’s left arm, which had just been repaired by surgery, and injuring Alex Schrempf’s back for several months with a hard foul
  • Berating Matt Carlino and calling him “concussion boy” to the point Carlino felt the need to transfer to BYU
  • Constantly talking back and yelling at assistant coaches
  • Fighting Mike Moser and Drew Gordon on multiple occasions

Howland clearly lost of control of his program with lack of discipline and involvement in the development of players. Dohrmann wrote that Howland doesn’t have much contact with his team outside of games and practices, and constantly talks down to his assistants. Howland didn’t punish Nelson for several of his actions and let him run amok until finally kicking him off the team on December 9.

It was only a few years ago that Howland steered UCLA to three consecutive Final Fours from 2006-2008. The Bruins have steadily gone downhill since then, missing the NCAA tournament in 2010 and likely sitting on the sideline for the Big Dance this year too.

While Dohrmann’s piece does not magnify a NCAA scandal, it certainly shows the respect and luster for Howland – and UCLA – lessening with each passing year.

Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:19 am
 

Today's Specials: NCAA implications galore

Michigan State can clinch the outright Big Ten regular-season title with a road win at Indiana. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

After a very weak slate on Monday, we have a far better schedule on Tuesday. There are bubble games, top-25 showdowns and more.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: No. 5 Michigan State at No. 18 Indiana (7 p.m., ESPN). If Michigan State gets a win here, the Spartans will clinch the outright regular-season championship in the Big Ten. Tremendous job by Tom Izzo. On the other side, Indiana is still looking for a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament and a win here would certainly help. The battle between Indiana’s offense and Michigan State’s defense should be fun to watch. The Hoosiers are great from the perimeter, but the Spartans guard the arc very well. Who defends Draymond Green for Indiana?

Second-best game: No. 16 Florida at Vanderbilt (9 p.m., ESPN). Second-place is on the line in the SEC, in a rematch of Florida’s 73-65 win back in early February. The Gators will clinch second if they win, while Vanderbilt will force a tie heading into the season finale. Both teams love to shoot the 3-pointer, and we’ll certainly see a gunning match between Vandy’s John Jenkins and Florida’s Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker. Moreover, the inside players – Festuz Ezeli and Patric Young – could hold the key to each team’s March success.

Another one to watch: Xavier at Saint Louis (9 p.m., CBS Sports Network). A monster bubble game in the Atlantic 10. Saint Louis had a very good profile – until it lost at Rhode Island over the weekend. The Billikens are still in the field, but things could get a little dicey if they lose on Tuesday. On the other side, Xavier really needs to win in order to get a bid. The Musketeers could conceivably finish second in the conference with a win here, which would look good on the Selection Sunday profile. Saint Louis won the first meeting between the two teams, at Xavier in late January.

Guaranteed win: There are a couple of games that should be confident picks. West Virginia hosts DePaul in an absolute desperate setting (7 p.m., ESPN3). The Mountaineers cannot afford another loss if they want to get an at-large bid, and we think they will come out and crush the Blue Demons. Also, even though No. 4 Duke hasn’t been overwhelming lately, the Blue Devils need to win at Wake Forest (9 p.m., ESPNU) in order to keep a hold on a No. 1 seed.

Potential upset: Both Texas A&M and Providence have had some close calls lately, and Tuesday night could be the day they break through. The Aggies host Kansas State (7 p.m., ESPN2) in the final home game of what has been a tumultuous season filled with injuries, disappointments and Billy Kennedy being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It will be an emotional game. Also, Connecticut needs to beat Providence to continue to feel good about an at-large bid, but the Friars have been plucky at home in Big East play. They have the firepower to keep up with the Huskies (7 p.m., ESPN3). 

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. The Big Sky regular-season championship is on the line as Weber State and Montana square off. Both teams are tied at 14-1 in the season heading into the finale (9 p.m., Altitude). The winner gets homecourt throughout the conference tournament.
  2. The Horizon League tournament gets started on Tuesday night, with four first round games to tickle your fancy. The most intriguing? Let’s go with Green Bay vs. Youngstown State (7:05 p.m.).
  3. There are several former bubble teams in action tonight: Minnesota at No. 14 Wisconsin (8 p.m., Big Ten Network); Ole Miss at Arkansas (7 p.m., ESPNU); UCF at Memphis (9 p.m.); TCU at Wyoming (9:30 p.m., Mountain). 
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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 28, 2012 12:11 am
 

Night Court: Kansas clinches eighth straight

In a "rebuilding" year, Bill Self led Kansas to its eighth straight Big 12 title. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Monday’s slate of college basketball games … in a different format than usual to accommodate the less-than-stellar slate.

Eight in a row: Heading into the season, not many people had Kansas winning the Big 12. In what may have been Bill Self’s best coaching job, though, the Jayhawks got better as the season went on and clinched the Big 12 regular-season title with a win at Oklahoma State on Monday night. It’s not a vintage Kansas team, it doesn’t have a lot of depth or a ton of offensive options – but Self has the Jayhawks in contention for a No. 1 seed. Unbelievable stuff.

Georgetown under the radar?: It’s tough for a top-12 team to fly under the radar this late in the season, but if anyone fits that description right now, it could be Georgetown. The Hoyas just throttled Notre Dame on Monday night, locking the Irish down defensively and making plays at both ends of the floor. Because Georgetown has had some hiccups this season – double-digit losses to Seton Hall and Pittsburgh – the Hoyas might not get the attention they deserve.

Notre Dame needs to find its shot: The Fighting Irish are not the 3-point heavy team they’ve been in the past, but still, they’re not playing well right now. They shot just 4-of-31 from deep against St. John’s over the weekend and they didn’t do much better on Monday, knocking down just 3-of-17 from behind the arc. Throw in the fact that Jack Cooley only had two points, and Notre Dame simply did not look dangerous.

Everything Baylor: I know it was only Texas Tech, but when Baylor plays like it did on Monday night, the Bears are still a pretty tough team to beat. Perry Jones and 15 points and 10 rebounds in only 27 minutes, while Anthony Jones, Quincy Acy and A.J. Walton also scored in double-figures in the 77-48 win. Turnovers were still a problem, but it was a reminder that Baylor – despite its weaknesses – still has a ton of talent.

17-0: Mississippi Valley State improved to 17-0 in the SWAC with its win over Jackson State on Monday night, led by Kevin Burwell’s 30 points. The Delta Devils can finish the regular-season unbeaten if they beat Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Thursday.

MEAC race heats up: Savannah State stayed atop the standings with its win over North Carolina A&T, but Norfolk State remained only one game up after beating Florida A&M on the road. Delaware State dropped a one-point game at home to Morgan State, putting the Hornets out of the hunt.

March Madness comes early: The month of March technically doesn’t start until Thursday, but conference tournaments kicked off tonight in the Big South. VMI and High Point both advanced, meaning Radford and Gardner-Webb are both headed home.

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: February 27, 2012 4:55 pm
 

Miss. St. falling apart on court, in locker room

When asked if Mississippi State had what it takes to get a bid, Arnett Moultrie responded: "Probably not." (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Mississippi State has lost five games in a row, seeing its NCAA tournament hopes go from “pretty comfortable” to “on the outside looking in” in the matter of three weeks.

When the Bulldogs were supposed to pad their record against the bottom half of the conference, they dropped games to Georgia and Auburn and now sit tied for seventh place in the SEC. Even if they win the final two regular-season games, they need to do damage in the conference tournament to feel good about an at-large bid.  

Instead of coming together for the stretch run, though, it seems Mississippi State has completely fallen apart as a team. Via beat writer Brad Locke from the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, it just seems the team is not optimistic going forward.

“It shouldn’t have went this far,” forward Arnett Moultrie said. “A five-game losing streak is unheard of in basketball at any level, especially when you have this talent.”

What’s the main reason for the struggles? According to Moultrie and senior guard Dee Bost, there’s a lack of cohesion, chemistry and sense of team within the Bulldogs.

“I say what I say,” said Bost, who is looked at as the team leader. “It might go in one ear and out the other. We’re grown men.”

From Locke:

Moultrie said everybody has their agenda. Says people aren’t working hard enough to back up talk.

Despite the players recognizing the main problems facing the team, head coach Rick Stansbury insisted that the locker room has been fine during the losing streak. However, he did comment to Locke about the blame going around from one player to another.

“Now’s not a time to point any fingers at each other,” Stansbury said. “Now’s the time you’ve got to stay together and you’ve got to fight together. You win together and you lose together.”

Mississippi State has winnable games this week at South Carolina and at home against Arkansas. If the Bulldogs win those two, they would get back to .500 in the SEC and have some momentum heading into the conference tournament. With wins over Vanderbilt and Alabama, all hope is not lost for Mississippi State.

Moultrie doesn’t share the same outlook. When asked if the team had what it took to get it together and make a run at an at-large bid, he wasn’t optimistic.

“Maybe not. Probably not.”

And that might be the most damning quote of them all.

Even Mississippi State’s own players are writing them off.

Posted on: February 27, 2012 1:01 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 5:06 pm
 

What-to-know conference previews: Ohio Valley

Murray State has dominated the Ohio Valley discussion all season, rolling into February as the lone undefeated team in the country before dropping one to Tennessee State. How heavy of favorites are the Racers in the conference tournament?

Murray State is clearly the No. 1 team in the league heading into the tournament. The Racers lost just one game all season, to Tennessee State back on February 9. They bounced back to win their final five games, including three games and a home contest vs. Saint Mary’s. Guard Isaiah Canaan is one of the best players in the country, while Donte Poole and a healthy Ivan Aska are quality secondary options. The way to beat Murray State is to get offensive rebounds and force turnovers.

Tennessee State carried that Murray State win to a second-place finish, winning nine in a row before the season finale defeat at home to Murray State. Robert Covington is a dominant inside player, and the Tigers love getting easy opportunities from the free-throw line. They get a bye to the semifinals, along with Murray. 

Outside of Murray, Tennessee Tech might have the most talent in the conference. The Golden Eagles have two of the league’s best players in Kevin Murphy and Jud Dillard, who combined to average 38.6 points and 14.2 rebounds during the regular season. Throw in Zac Swansey and a couple of close losses to Murray, and they could be a sleeper. Don’t overlook Jacksonville State, either. The Gamecocks have won eight of 11 and play tough defense.

TOURNAMENT BRACKET

Title game:
Saturday, March 3 on ESPN2 (2 p.m., ET)

BEST PLAYERS

  1. Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
  2. Kevin Murphy, Tennessee Tech
  3. Robert Covington, Tennessee State
  4. Jud Dillard, Tennessee Tech
  5. Donte Poole, Murray State

Conference RPI: 21

KenPom.com rating: 24

Sagarin rating: 22

NCAA Tournament Locks: Murray State

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None 

Last NCAA Tournament Appearances

  • Austin Peay Governors: 2008, No. 15 seed, lost to Texas 74-54 in the first round.
  • Eastern Kentucky Colonels: 2007, No. 16 seed, lost to North Carolina 86-65 in the first round.
  • Jacksonville State Gamecocks: N/A.
  • Morehead State Eagles: 2011, No. 13 seed, beat Louisville 62-61 in the first round, followed by a 65-48 loss to Richmond in the second round.
  • Murray State Racers: 2010, No. 13 seed, beat Vanderbilt 66-65 in the first round, followed by a 54-52 loss to Butler in the second round.
  • Southeast Missouri State Redhawks: 2000, No. 13 seed, lost to LSU 64-61 in the first round.
  • Tennessee State Tigers: 1994, No. 14 seed, lost to Kentucky 83-70 in the first round.
  • Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles: 1963, lost to Loyola-Chicago 111-42 in the first round.

- Jeff Borzello

Posted on: February 27, 2012 11:58 am
Edited on: February 27, 2012 12:02 pm
 

Today's Specials: Road to Selection Sunday starts

Georgetown will move closer to a double-bye in the Big East tourney with a win over Notre Dame. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

It’s time to start the two-week sprint to Selection Sunday. Conference tournaments kick off today and there’s a top-25 showdown, but it’s a light slate overall.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: No. 20 Notre Dame at No. 9 Georgetown (7 p.m., ESPN). The battle for double-byes in the Big East tournament is really heating up. Both Notre Dame and Georgetown are in the mix for two of those spots, but the Fighting Irish can essentially clinch a spot with a win tonight. They’re coming off a loss at St. John’s, snapping a nine-game winning streak. Georgetown continues to fly somewhat under the radar. The Hoyas guard the perimeter extremely well, and Notre Dame showed it struggles when not knocking down 3-pointers.

Second-best game: No. 4 Kansas at Oklahoma State (9 p.m., ESPN). The Jayhawks can clinch the outright Big 12 title – again – with a win over the Cowboys on Monday night. On the other side, Oklahoma State just wants to become NIT-eligible. Oklahoma State has beat some quality teams on its homecourt, mainly Missouri and Iowa State. Could the Jayhawks suffer the same fate? Barring a heroic effort from Keiton Page or Le’Bryan Nash, that’s unlikely. Looks like eight straight titles for Kansas.

Another one to watch: Texas Tech at No. 13 Baylor (9 p.m., ESPNU). You know it’s a mediocre schedule when this is the third-best game on the docket. So let’s see what’s on the line here. Baylor is only one game out of second-place in the conference, but it lost both games to Missouri so it might be difficult to pass the Tigers. The Bears are still in the mix for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Texas Tech has one Big 12 win this season, but the Red Raiders have shown some fight lately. (I knew I could make the game sound interesting.)

Guaranteed win: Every season, Gonzaga has some random game to finish the regular season. Three years ago, the Bulldogs played South Carolina-Upstate, while they faced Cal State Bakersfield in the season finale the past two years ago. This season, it’s Longwood (9 p.m., ROOT), whose three wins since January 16 have been over non-Division-I teams. Gonzaga should get a nice tuneup before the WCC tournament. Plus, it’s Senior Night, so that’s cool.

Potential upset: There’s not much to choose from, but we’ll go with Hampton over Bethune-Cookman on the road (7:30 p.m.). Bethune-Cookman was gunning for a league title a week ago, but has since lost two games and is now out of the running. Hampton has been up and down this season, but the Pirates play very good defense and have only lost one league game by double-digits this season.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. As mentioned earlier, conference tournaments start tonight, with the Big South featuring two matchups: Radford at VMI (7 p.m.) and Gardner-Webb at High Point (7:30 p.m.).
  2. Mississippi Valley State looks to improve to 17-0 in the SWAC with a road game at Jackson State (7 p.m., ESPNU).
  3. The MEAC race is heating up, with all three title contenders in action tonight. First-place Savannah State hosts North Carolina A&T (8 p.m.), while 11-3 Norfolk State is at Florida A&M (7:30 p.m.) and 11-3 Delaware State welcomes Morgan State (7:30 p.m.).
More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 27, 2012 11:00 am
Edited on: February 27, 2012 5:07 pm
 

What-to-know-conference previews: Patriot

For the second consecutive season, Bucknell will look to protect its regular-season title and get back to the NCAA tournament.

The Bison started the conference season 10-0, before losing two in a row and needing a strong finish to win the championship over Lehigh. Led by Mike Muscala in the post, Bucknell has a variety of scoring options both in the paint and on the perimeter. The Bison also control the defensive glass and like to force a slow tempo on their opponents. Moreover, they will get homecourt advantage due to winning the regular-season title. That came in handy last season, when Bucknell knocked off Lafayette in the title game.

Lehigh has won nine of its last 10 games, including a road win at Bucknell two weeks ago. The Mountain Hawks have one of the best mid-major players in the country in C.J. McCollum, a prolific scorer who led the league in scoring, ranked third in rebounding and fifth in assists. He's capable of carrying the Mountain Hawks to the NCAA tournament -- like he did two years ago. Throw in Gabe Knutson on the inside, one of the more efficient players in the league, and Lehigh is a tough out.

American is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the league and is difficult to beat when its shots are falling, but a team to watch could be Holy Cross. The Crusaders won six in a row to end the season, and have defeated Lehigh, Bucknell and American this season. Devin Brown and R.J. Evans form a good tandem, and the Crusaders really guard the perimeter.

TOURNAMENT BRACKET

Title game:
Wednesday, March 7 on CBS Sports Network (7 p.m. ET)

BEST PLAYERS

  1. C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
  2. Mike Muscala, Bucknell
  3. Charles Hinkle, American
  4. Gabe Knutson, Lehigh
  5. Devin Brown, Holy Cross

Conference RPI: 22

KenPom.com rating: 22

Sagarin rating: 23

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None

Last NCAA Tournament Appearances

  • American Eagles: 2009, No. 14 seed, lost to Villanova 80-67 in the first round.
  • Army Black Knights: N/A.
  • Bucknell Bison: 2011, No. 14 seed, lost to Connecticut 81-52 in the first round.
  • Colgate Raiders: 1996, No. 16 seed, lost to Connecticut 68-59 in the first round.
  • Holy Cross Crusaders: 2007, No. 13 seed, lost to Southern Illinois 61-51 in the first round.
  • Lafayette Leopards: 2000, No. 15 seed, lost to Temple 73-47 in the first round.
  • Lehigh Mountain Hawks: 2010, No. 16 seed, lost to Kansas 90-74 in the first round.
  • Navy: 1998, No. 16 seed, lost to North Carolina 88-52 in the first round.

- Jeff Borzello

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 25, 2012 6:34 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 6:34 pm
 

Afternoon Delight: Game of the Year: KU-Mizzou?

In perhaps the game of the year, Tyshawn Taylor's two free throws with 8.3 seconds left in overtime gave Kansas a come-from-behind 87-86 win over Missouri. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

On busier Saturdays and Sundays this season, we’re not going to make you wait until the end of the slate of games to catch up with all that’s happened. Afternoon Delight (3-pointers in flight!) recaps the first five-or-so hours’ worth of action, the perfecta appetizer right before dinnertime.

Note: We’re covering most of the bubble action over at Poppin’ Bubbles, so we’ll try to keep the bubble talk to a minimum over here. 

The best we’ve seen so far: Goodman will have something on this game pretty soon, but we couldn't post this without mentioning perhaps the Game of the Year. It was hyped, it was packed, it was loud. Missouri's trip to Kansas. The Tigers were rolling out of the gate, getting Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey sidelined in the early going. After pushing the lead to as many as 19 points in the second half, Kansas roared back behind dominance from Thomas Robinson and the 3-point shooting of Connor Teahan. The Jayhawks tied it up with 16 seconds left in regulation, and we got five extra minutes. Kansas looked like it might pull away, but Marcus Denmon wasn't going to allow that -- knocking down a baseline jumper with 12.1 seconds left. Tyshawn Taylor responded by hitting two free throws with 8.3 left to give Kansas an 87-86 win. It’s a shame we won’t see this game again for a long time. What a game, what a rivalry.

Deserving of a free dinner at the restaurant of their choice: Kentucky continues to take everyone’s best shot – and then punch back down the stretch for a comfortable win. The Wildcats did it again on Saturday, despite trailing by one at the half to Vanderbilt. Anthony Davis was absolutely dominant for Kentucky, finishing with 28 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. He also demonstrated some things we haven’t seen from him in awhile, including face-up jumpers from the perimeter and the ability to go off the dribble. 

No soup for you: Just as some people were starting to trust Florida again, the Gators go out and lose to Georgia. Brad Beal had 19 and 12 for Florida, but the Gators shot just 5-of-23 from 3-point range and turned it over 12 times in the 76-62 loss. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led five guys in double-figures for Georgia.

Afternoon all-stars

  1. Fordham’s Chris Gaston went for 35 points and 16 rebounds in Fordham’s win over La Salle. The best part: he had 15 offensive rebounds. Fifteen. Offensive. Rebounds.
  2. Providence freshman LaDontae Henton had 24 points and 15 rebounds, plus the game-winning shot, to beat DePaul.
  3. Buffalo senior Mitchell Watt had a nice all-around line: 28 points, five rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
  4. Mike Moore, in his last home game for Hofstra, dropped 30 to beat UNC-Wilmington.
  5. Chris Crawford, off the bench for Memphis: 16 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, three steals.

Other daytime action worth your attention

  • Iowa State essentially punched its ticket to the Dance by beating Kansas State on the road. The Cyclones are now 11-5 in the Big 12.
  • St. John’s snapped Notre Dame’s nine-game winning streak by holding off the Fighting Irish down the stretch. Syracuse also clinched the No. 1 seed in the Big East tournament as a result.
  • Austin Rivers came up big once again for Duke, who needed overtime to dispatch of Virginia Tech.
  • Virginia seemed to have another one of the ACC’s elite on the ropes, but the Cavaliers couldn’t knock down shots down the stretch and fell by three to North Carolina.
  • It wasn’t pretty for Baylor, but the Bears overcame a sluggish first half to beat Oklahoma.
  • Wichita State got revenge for its lone loss in 2012, hammering Drake by 23.
  • In other Missouri Valley action, Creighton survived a last-second miss to beat Indiana State by one.
  • Old Dominion’s Kent Bazemore had a chance to tie Drexel in the final second, getting fouled on a 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left. He missed one of the free throws and Drexel won.
  • Arkansas finally won a road game, beating Auburn, 77-71.
  • Air Force always seems to play well against UNLV, and the Runnin’ Rebels only scored 68 points. But Air Force only managed 58.
  • Georgetown steamrolled Villanova, 67-46.

Delightful (and not-so-delightful) thoughts

  • If you’re wondering why some games aren’t included, check out Poppin’ Bubbles. Parrish will have Night Court tonight.
  • Norfolk State put pressure on Savannah State to win today, by beating Bethune-Cookman. Savannah obliged, knocking off NC-Central.
  • Bucknell clinched the outright Patriot League title, defeating Navy.
  • Haven’t seen video of it, but there was apparently some tomfoolery in the Marshall vs. Memphis game. We’ll keep you posted.
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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com