Game time: 5:00pm CT
Location: Omaha, NE
Weather at tip-off: 54 degrees fahrenheit, 10mph wind from the southeast. Clear skies.
TV: FS2 or Fox Sports App
Radio: 1620am, 101.9fm, 1620 the zone streaming app feat. the voice of Xmus Jaxon Flaxon-Waxon Bishop.
Louisiana Tech is pretty good. They currently sit at #91 in kenpom’s rankings of college basketball teams as they return their entire starting lineup from last season. Amorie Archibald, their hot handed three point shooter, didn’t play in either of the Bulldogs first two wins against Texas A&M Corpus Christi (82-49) and Wiley (98-52), but managed some minutes in the pre-season charity scrimmage against LSU.
I surmise he’ll likely be active today and could’ve been kept out of competition because of his off-season work with the east coast’s Team USA. Call it load management or whatever, but the Bulldogs handled both hapless opponents fine without him. They’ll likely need him today.
Point guard DaQuan Bracey will be the point of emphasis on the offense for the Bulldogs today, as he’s a prolific three point shooter and the best scoring option they’ve got. He poured in 28 points in a Februrary game against UTEP last season, while maintaining a magnificent set of hands as he rarely turns it over - in the Bulldogs 71-58 win against the “Play Angry” Shockers of Wichita last season, he turned the ball over just twice en route to scoring 16 points on 7-12 shooting.
Head coach Eric Konkol doesn’t play a particularly fast paced style of basketball as the Bulldogs averaged 65 possessions per game last season, typically shooting within 18 seconds per possession. His club doesn’t turn it over a lot, but doesn’t scorch the nets either.
This will likely be a perfect matchup for the Jays as the Bulldogs don’t feature a lot of size. Their tallest player is 6’10 junior Andrew Gordon, who will come off the bench and offer a different look, but overall the ‘Dogs play small. Bracey stands at 5’11, Derric Jean - who has slipped into the starting ‘2’ guard role in Archibald’s absence - stands at just 6’2, while Kalob Ledoux and Jacolby Pemberton are at 6’4 and 6’5 respectively. The starting center so far this year has been Oliver Powell, a 6’8 235lb power player that gets rough in the post but gives up a little size.
Beyond that, the Bulldogs will slot in Mubarak Muhammed and Isaiah Crawford into the ‘5,’ both of whom are under 6’8 but give the Bulldogs a little bit more speed and athleticism to run the court.
With a load of experience and a knack for knocking off good teams early in the season, Konkol’s giant killers with keep pace with the Jays for most of the game, but their ability to weather whatever three-point barrage the Bluejays put forth will be the most telling aspect of the ballgame.
Verba de Ludis
When you begin to conceptualize what the future of college basketball looks like, with the image and likeness monetary movement getting closer to reality, you have to add in the factor of the bones of the sport beginning to morph. We’ve seen it with the three point line moving back further and further, with the NBA distance likely the next move within the next decade.
We’ve seen it with the advent of the “flopping” rule being adopted, offering a warning to teams if flopping is perceived to be part of the team’s DNA, then penalizing them with a technical foul if it’s proven to be true. We’ve seen it with the reset of the shot clock to twenty seconds instead of the full 35 on offensive rebounds, a measure to punish teams who tend to kick it out and milk the clock to stymie their opponent’s ability to push the tempo.
What will we see next in the NIT? What other experiments will they play with to eventually push into regular college basketball?
The answer is simple: remove gravity from the game and enclose the court.
Schools would have full control over how high they’d like the ceiling, giving them a creative bent that’s missing in sports other than football. The only stipulation would be that the hoops be placed directly in the center of the ends of the court. Beyond that, the surfaces of the walls and ceiling can be designed as they see fit as long as there’s room for ventilation - which would be standard with each arena - and as long as they’re made of solid surfaces. Want hardwood walls and ceilings? Cool. Want them made of marble? Yeah, that’s fine as well. Want them made of clear plexiglass so the world can see them live and in person? Works for me!
The ability to turn gravity off is the more complicated part of this scenario, as science hasn’t quite figured that out. This brings me to a plea to billionaires around the world: either start sharing your wealth with everybody or give it to me so I can fund this idea.
Those are your two options if you want to avoid a revolution that would end with the complete loss of all assets, wealth, and access to wi-fi.
Song of the day - St. Louis by Moon Hooch