Tag:Matt Norlander
Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:27 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 12:07 am

Night Court: Jeffery Taylor crying wins the night

Taylor can't control himself as he walks off the flor. (AP)
By Matt Norlander

Here’s everything you need to know about Tuesday night’s slate of games …

Game of the Night: Vanderbilt had its Senior Night, and because of that we got one of those great moments. Commodores senior Jeffery Taylor was a leaky faucet when his time came for an ovation and a hesitated saunter off the Memorial Coliseum floor. He buried his head in his jersey to hide his outpouring of emotion -- but what a great scene. All the Vandy seniors got a nice moment of recognition before and after the game.

Vanderbilt defeated Florida, 77-67, earning themselves a nice win,and you know, it wouldn't shock me one bit if the 'Dores end up with a better seed than UF. The Gators are an erratic team that's missing a cog now that Will Yeguete is unavailable due to a fractured foot.

Win to brag about: Saint Louis trailed early but came back like a bull determined to gore the life out of a matador. The Billikens are now a lock as far as I'm concerned, winning over Xavier 70-59 and getting to 11 A10 wins.

Loss to hide from: How many times can we fit UConn into this box? On Saturday night, I wrote UConn needed three straight wins to feel good about its at-large chances. After falling 72-70 at Providence, that notion is only embellished. You know what the Huskies look like? A team that shows up and thinks it can talent its way to victories. That doesn't work, not on the road, and for Jiminy's sake, every team should realize that by January, let alone Feb. 28.

Home game against Pittsburgh to close out the season Saturday. Then an opening-round Big East tournament game against a DePaul or Providence on Tuesday. Then a Seton Hall or Cincinnati next Wednesday. Gotta win all three, UConn.

Player who deserves improper benefits: West Virginia faced a must-win against DePaul on Tuesday night if it wanted any chance at an at-large bid. Not surprisingly, the Mountaineers' Big East Player of the Year candidate came through in a major way. Kevin Jones totaled 22 points and 16 rebounds to lead West Virginia to a 92-75 win over the Blue Demons. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention teammate Truck Bryant and his 28 points, though.

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Tu Holloway. Four points on 1-of-6 shooting in a real disappearing act for Xavier. Holloway also contributed a team-high three turnovers. Xavier's going to the NIT unless it wins the A10 tournament, most likely. But this has always felt like a team with an on/off switch. I wouldn't be shocked if it won the league tourney title relatively easily.

Numbers don't lie

  • UConn is 23-30 in its last 53 Big East games. Shockingly bad for a team with two Final Fours in its last three tournament appearances.

Three other games of note:

  1. In what amounted to the game of the most impact Tuesday night, Montana knocked off Weber State 66-51, meaning Montana won the Big Sky. Weber State will be the No. 2 seed in the league tournament, and there's a good chance the nation's most potent scorer, Damian Lillard, won't make the NCAAs. Montana's a very fun team, though. Either one would rep the Big Sky well, Lillard just has more appeal.
  2. Don't lose the ones you shouldn't lose on the road and your seed doesn't take a hit. Kansas State 76, Texas A&M 70.
  3. You always have to seek out the Wisconsin score this season, just to make sure Bucky doesn't blow one it shouldn't. That didn't happen Tuesday night. Wisconsin 52, Minnesota 45.

Teams whose season ended tonight:

-- Wright State (70-52 loss to Butler).
-- Illnois-Chicago
(68-55 loss to UW-Milwaukee).
-- Green Bay
(77-60 loss to Youngstown State).
-- Loyola (IL)
(80-71 loss to Detroit).


  • Reggie Johnson has been reinstated at Miami. He and his family will have to repay the illegal benefits for travel, but he's good to go for the 'Canes game against N.C. State Wednesday night.
  • Antonio Barton broke his foot in Memphis' win over Central Florida.
  • Since it is a leap year, March does not start tomorrow. I'm just as eager as you for it to get here, but we'll have to soldier through for one more day before the best month of the year arrives.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 28, 2012 5:15 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 10:37 am

What-to-know tourney previews: The NEC

The Northeast squads can push it. Averaging 67.9 possessions per game (that stat according to KenPom.com), the NEC was the third-fastest league in the nation. Collectively, what does it not do well? Block shots and hit 3s. So lot of run-and-gun, layups and mid-range jumpers should come about in the three-tiered, eight-team bracket play that begins Thursday night.

Long Island-Brooklyn is your head honcho. It finished 16-2 in the league, 22-8 overall and is the defending champ. It made its first NCAA tournament appearance in 14 years last season, and with most everyone back, the team looks even better. It boasts league POY Julian Boyd, a multi-faceted big who’s an adept ball-handler that averaged 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He had 13 double-doubles this season and became the first Blackbird in 23 years to grab 20 boards in a game.

Beyond Boyd, Jamale Olasewere — fellow First-Teamer in the NEC — is a tough matchup problem. Toss in compact, fearless point guard Jason Brickman, who averages 7.1 assists per game (No. 5 in the country), and it’s tough to see why LIU-Brooklyn won’t win this thing two years straight.

The biggest competition comes from media darling Wagner. The Seahawks finished one game behind the Blackbirds in the standings. They are coached by Danny Hurley, brother of famous Duke guard Bobby Hurley, who’s also on staff. Many things have been written about this team’s resurgence. Danny is in just his second season there and already the team gets to a 24-5 regular-season record. In 2010, this was a 5-26 team. The Seahawks are a very aggressive team; they force a turnover one out of every four possessions. If Wagner makes it to the NCAAs, I promise you it will be one of the two biggest non-major conference storylines leading up to the opening weekend.

Julian Boyd and the Blackbirds want back-to-back appearances in the NCAAs for No. 1 LIU-Brooklyn. (AP)

Ironically, Danny Hurley didn’t win the league’s Coach of the Year award despite winning 15 games. St. Franics (NY) Glenn Braica earned the Jim Phelan Coach of the Year trophy. His team finished fourth after getting picked 11th in the preseason.

In the 3 spot is Robert Morris, a group that’s played extremely well all season and really cannot be ignored at all. Bob Morris represented the league in recent years and is the best offensive-rebounding team in the NEC. It also plays defense as well as Wagner. What it lacks: reliable shooting.

One last thing: this was how LIU-Brooklyn won the NEC title last year. What an atmosphere. If seeding holds, I’ll be back there again to witness it.



Schedule: March 1, 4, 7
Title game:
Wednesday, March 7, ESPN2.


  1. Julian Boyd, Long Island-Brooklyn
  2. Jamal Olasewere, Long Island-Brooklyn
  3. Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart
  4. Ken Horton, Central Connecticut
  5. Velton Jones, Robert Morris

Conference RPI: 24

KenPom.com rating: 26

Sagarin rating: 27

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

  • Bryant: N/A
  • Central Connecticut State: 2007, 16 seed, a 78-57 loss to Ohio State
  • Fairliegh Dickinson: 2005, 16 seed, a 67-55 loss to Illinois
  • Long Island Blackbirds: 2011, 15 seed, lost 102-87 to North Carolina
  • Monmouth Hawks: 2006, 16 seed, won opening-round game over Hampton, 71-49, lost in first round to Villanova, 58-45
  • Mt. Saint Mary's Mountaineers: 2008, 16 seed, won opening-round game over Coppin State, 69-60, lost in first round to North Carolina, 113-74
  • Quinnipiac Bobcats: N/A
  • Robert Morris Colonials: 2010, 15 seed, lost 73-70 to Villanova
  • Sacred Heart Pioneers: N/A
  • St. Francis (NY) Terriers: N/A
  • St. Francis (PA) Red Flash: 1991, 15 seed, a 93-80 loss to Arizona
  • Wagner Seahawks: 2003, 15 seed, an 87-61 loss to Pittsburgh

-- Matt Norlander

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 28, 2012 1:33 pm

It's our bulkiest Tuesday poll yet

By Matt Norlander

We're back again with our weekly Tuesday poll and we want you to click through and let us know who you're picking for this week's marquee games. This is by far and away the most we've ever included in a poll, which means it will take you 20 seconds instead of the normal 13 to decide.

As usual, all of these games will be discussed on Wednesday night's edition of "Courtside with Seth Davis" at 7 p.m. ET. Before or after you vote, I also implore you to like the Eye On College Basketball Facebook page. And if that's not enough, CBSSports.com has your roundball fix tended to thanks to our daily newsletter. That newsleter is fantastic -- send it along to a parent or relative who you think would want that in their mailbox this time of year, too.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 28, 2012 1:14 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 11:24 pm

What-to-know tourney previews: America East

Listen, just because we’re doing a preview for every conference tournament doesn’t mean it has to be nothing but roses, rainbows and sweetmeats. The America East is one of the worst leagues in basketball. Its winner is going to be seeded 16th and could very well go to Dayton for the First Four.

Am I getting you down? Sorry, it’s just … this league has a 6-32 record in the NCAAs, and it’s looking like a good chance that will become 6-33 by March 17. As for the league tournament, there comes some better news. There's unpredictability! There is a good chance the top seed doesn’t win it all. That top seed is Stony Brook, and it’s only the No. 1 because Vermont fell at Binghamton, giving the Bearcats their only win of the season. The Seawolves haven’t been to the NCAAs since ... ever. Nearly half the league can, unfortunately, say the same.

Before I get to the key parts to this conference bracket, let's talk about the bracket itself. In order to get its title game on television, the America East has one of the quirkier setups. It has its first three rounds of play in back-to-back-to-back days, and then it's nearly a week wait for the title game. I love the fact that the higher seed always hosts the title game -- something that I think I want for most small-major leagues -- but the long layoff is out of rhythm with the rest of the season. Oh, well. At least both teams can get healthy and the coaching staff can truly prepare for the game. It's because of this that we've often had very compelling America East championship games.

Let's hit on the four best teams. Stony Brook and Vermont, the top two, split the series in the regular season. I've got a soft spot for the Catamounts, seeing as I grew up 10 minutes from the UVM campus. But I always love seeing programs who've never made the NCAAs earn their first trip. Stony Brook has a great chance so long as it gets to March 9's title game. The Seawolves are led by senior guard Bryan Dougher, who led the team in scoring. Vermont has a couple of nice pieces -- and the overall better collection of talent -- and it's guided by first-year coach John Becker. The Cats beat league foes by an average of 11.5 points per game.

Al Rapier (right) and the Stony Brook Seawolves are chasing their first NCAA berth. (AP)

Boston University, who repped the league in last year's field, reigned over the AE for so long. It finished third this year, but despite that it's got this Butler-like clasp on the league. You can never count out the Terriers, who are very good and not fouling and not turning the ball over.

Fourth-place Albany actually has the best offense in the league, putting up 1.07 points per possession. The Great Danes (supremely underrated moniker in all of hoops), unfortunately, have the third-worst defense in the league; that's why they finished fourth.



Schedule: March 1-3, 9
Title game:
Friday, March 9, ESPN2.


  1. Gerardo Suero, Albany
  2. Matt Glass, Vermont
  3. Brian Voelkel, Vermont
  4. Darryl Partin, Boston University
  5. Brian Benson, New Hampshire

Conference RPI: 29

KenPom.com rating: 29

Sagarin rating: 29

NCAA Tournament Locks: None

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: None

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

  • Albany Great Danes: 2007, 13 seed, an 84-57 loss to Virginia
  • Binghamton Bearcats: 2009, 15 seed, an 86-62 loss to Duke
  • Boston University Terriers: 2011, 16 seed, a 72-53 loss to Kansas
  • Hartford Hawks: N/A
  • Maine Black Bears: N/A
  • Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers: 2008, 15 seed,  a 66-47 loss to Georgetown
  • New Hampshire Wildcats: N/A
  • Stony Brook Seawolves: N/A
  • Vermont Catamounts: 2010, 16 seed, a 79-56 loss to Syracuse in the first round

By Matt Norlander

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 28, 2012 10:00 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 10:00 am

What-to-know tourney previews: West Coast

Only once before, in 2008, has West Coast Conference earned three bids to the Big Bracket.

It could and should happen again this year.

Brigham Young, the newbie on the block in its first year as a WCC rent-paying member, is the team with the hazy postseason future (Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga are definitely seeing their names on CBS the night of Selection Sunday). BYU likely needs to get to the conference title game in order to make a good claim at entering the field. I think it will do that, because what the hey, this is a league tournament preview and we’re supposed to be optimistic about these things.

The WCC bracket actually stands a decent chance at getting hairy, too, and no that’s not an excuse for you to take off your shirt while you watch the late-night games beginning on Wednesday. It’s also got nothing to do with the conference taking its championship to Las Vegas for the fourth straight year, a continually smart move by the WCC. If things truly do go to plan, we’ll see leaked photos of Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre owning the craps tables at The Cosmopolitan.

The past three years have been a tune-up to BYU’s arrival in the sense that Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s have tussled between winning the titles — and now we’ve got a viable third option to take it all. But — and I swear this isn’t just empty prognostication — Loyola Marymount could be a spoiler in some sense. It finished 11-5 in the league and did beat BYU and SMC. The Gaels and Lions would meet in the semis if chalk won out.

Gonzaga won it all in 2011 and has taken 10 of the past 13 WCC tourney titles. (AP)

The bottom half of the league (San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Santa Clara, Pepperdine) isn’t that intimidating. Santa Clara was winless this year, and USF has the best record of the crop with an 8-8 league record. None of the teams are top 140 in KenPom and every single one of them is brutal defensively, easily allowing more than a point per possession.

So it’s the top three and LMU as the wild card. Gonzaga’s won this league championship 10 of the past 13 years. And how about a crazy stat? Only two teams the past five years have won 25 games in every season. Duke and Saint Mary’s. Just as nutty: Gonzaga and BYU will equal that mark if Gonzaga wins two and BYU wins one in the bracket. Going to be a good one; the WCC field usually gives an enthralling game or two, and seven of the eight contests will be on television this year.



Schedule: Feb. 29-March 5
Title game:
Monday, March 5, ESPN2.


  1. Matthew Dellevadova, Saint Mary’s
  2. Elias Harris, Gonzaga
  3. Robert Sacre, Gonzaga
  4. Brandon Davies, BYU
  5. Noah Hartsock, BYU

Conference RPI: 11

KenPom.com rating: 11

Sagarin rating: 11

NCAA Tournament Locks: Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga

NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams: BYU

Last NCAA Tournament Appearance:

  • Brigham Young Cougars: 2011, 3 seed, won second-round game over Wofford, 74-66. Won third-round game over Gonzaga, 89-67. Lost in Sweet 16 to Florida, 83-74.
  • Gonzaga Bulldogs: 2011, 11 seed, won second-round game over St. John’s, 86-71. Lost in third round to Brigham Young, 89-67.
  • Loyola Marymount: 1990, 11 seed, reached Elite Eight, lost to UNLV, 131-101
  • Portland Pilots: 1996, 14 seed, lost in first round to Villanova, 92-58.
  • Pepperdine Waves: 2002, 10 seed, lost in first round to Wake Forest, 83-74.
  • Saint Mary's Gaels: 2010, 10 seed, won first-round game over Richmond, 80-71. Won second-round game over Villanova, 75-68. Lost in Sweet 16 to Baylor, 72-49.
  • San Diego Toreros: 2008, 13 seed, won first-round game over UConn, 70-69 (OT), lost second-round game, 72-63, to Western Kentucky.
  • San Francisco Dons: 2008, 14 seed, lost first-round game to Utah, 85-68.
  • Santa Clara Broncos: 1996, 10 seed, won first-round game over Maryland, 91-79, lost in second round to Kansas, 76-51.

By Matt Norlander

Posted on: February 28, 2012 8:45 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 8:57 am

Wakeup: Ultimate reference list to conf tourneys

Hoyas fans dressed proudly and in unison for Senior Night. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Matt Norlander

Time-traveling hipster will be all over your Tumblrs and Facebook feeds by Wednesday afternoon. // Volcano eruption imminent. // Seems like such a nice guy. // One of my former colleagues helped write a riveting story about a cannibal. Read it ...

★ Marcus Morris allegedly got punch-happy at a bar after Kansas knocked out Missouri.

★ Wow. This is an incredible piece of reference. It has every single school playing in conference tournament with links to online streams, radio stations. Very valuable.

Derek Needham done for the year for Fairfield, which means the fourth-seeded Stags' hopes to win the MAAC just became realllly slim.


Depressing but not at all surprising.

★ Heady analysis here by Jason Lisk; his definition of the bubble completely matches mine.

★ This Dan Hanner chunky soup of a column reinforces my undying love for college basketball. Sorry to get crude, but it's a terrific poop-and-read.

★ Yes is this a superb column from Pat Forde on Sean Woods.

★ The best big man you've never seen play.

★ This column on Calipari from Doyel makes you think.

★ Keiton Page is now the 3-point leader for Oklahoma State, all-time.

Duke as a No. 1 seed is an impossibility to get a handle on until the Blue Devils' home game against the Tar Heels completes this Saturday.

★ Montana and Weber State play tonight. That game has big implications.

★ Thinking this Kindle/eBook on college basketball tournament trivia is the perfect thing for you.

★ Really like the assortment of good reads in today's Wakeup Call. Scott Powers put together this piece for ESPNChicago.com.

★ New Orleans begins its prep for the Final Four.

♬ The best radio hit OK Go's had is "Do What You Want." Good power pop band. Feel better about yourself; it's Tuesday.

Posted on: February 27, 2012 4:26 pm

Former PSU player arrested for drug/gun ring

By Matt Norlander

You may not recall former Penn State forward and co-captain Gyasi Cline-Heard. He was a senior who averaged 16 points per game for the Nittany Lions team that reached the Sweet 16 in 2001, the last time Penn State went so deep in the NCAAs. Cline-Heard went on to play for nearly a decade overseas, in places such as Belgium and South Korea. 

Now he sits in Pinellas County Jail in Clearwater, Fla., after being arrested earlier this month on charges of running a drug ring. And a gun ring. Cline-Heard was not a henchman. He was straight up the Marlo Stanfield of a greater Tampa organized crime outfit. Dozens, if not more, illegal firearms were found taking up space in his home in New Port Richey on Feb. 10 when police busted through and confiscated a mini army's worth of weaponry in what I'm assuming looked like a scene straight out of "Lord of War."

From Erin Sullivan the Tampa Bay Times:
On Feb. 10, Cline-Heard, 32, was arrested on charges he was the leader of a drug and gun ring in Pasco and Pinellas. He and a 25-year-old woman, Jessica Colon, were picked up during a raid at her house in Tarpon Springs. Cline-Heard's tattoo shop in Palm Harbor, Legacy Tattoo, was also raided, along with his house in Trinity. Two other people were arrested at a New Port Richey home as part of the round-up.

Four dozen guns were found during the raids. The enormity of the stockpile of weapons — most of them assault rifles and machine guns with rounds that could easily penetrate officer's vests and cruisers — shocked investigators. Lt. Chuck Balderstone of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office picked up one firearm with a long silencer at a news conference announcing the bust.

"That's something you would see in a spy movie," he said.

This bust came to be after undercover "vice agents" actually bought well more than a pound cocaine and a .380-caliber handgun from Cline-Heard, according to Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco. Cline-Heard was believed to be selling the guns and bullets, weapons so formidable they could easily rip through protective vesting. It was militia-esque in its grandiosity.

"These people were pretty bad members of our society," Nocco was quoted in the Times' story.

Cline-Heard, the son of former NBA player and coach Gar Heard, divorced from his wife in November, according to the story, and he has a 1-year-old daughter.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 27, 2012 2:36 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 2:40 pm

Frank Haith is not talking about Miami

Haith's having an incredible year at Mizzou, but the Miami questions could still haunt him. (AP)

By Matt Norlander

The bubbling undercurrent to Missouri's amazing 25-4 season has been the fact Frank Haith was hired away from Miami before Yahoo Sports dropped five thousand proximity mines on the campus with its exhaustively and impressively thorough reporting last summer. Haith was not exactly portrayed as a coach with his program on the up and up in that report, but he's been able to douse the fire on his Miami reputation with the job's he's done in Missouri. Not that those two things are or should be separate issues.

The NCAA continues to sift into Haith's Hurricane tenure, as all parties were mum on the issue for most of this season. The NCAA continues to work on the mammoth case; we don't know when all sorts of verdicts on the football and basketball program will come down. But with Sunday's news that Reggie Johnson was suspended for illegal travel benefits provided by former Miami coaches, it meant Haith had to be asked about his time at Miami again. He's not going there, folks.

“We're doing some great things here at Missouri, and we're cooperating with the NCAA fully,” said Haith ... “And I'll just be glad when this thing's over with.”

In a news release issued Sunday before Miami's game with Florida State, Miami said:

After the game, current Miami coach Jim Larranaga told reporters: “It's my understanding Reggie and his family didn't do anything wrong. They didn't know of any impermissible benefit. It was somebody else that did that. Reggie's already paid a dear price, missing this game.”


Asked his thoughts about Johnson's situation, Haith said, “It's just disappointing. Reggie is a wonderful young man, and you hate to see anyone have their career delayed.” He added, “It's tough. I feel bad for him and his family, and I know he'll get through it, though.”

Haith has denied the allegations from the get-go, obviously. This travel benefit for Johnson would stem from Haith's tenure, to be clear. It now gets lumped into the allegation that former Miami booster, who is currently sitting in jail, Nevin Shapiro, knew Haith was complicit in a $10,000 payment to Miami recruit DeQuan Jones, who is a member of the team now.

Miami hopes to get Johnson reinstated as swiftly as possible; the team's NCAA tournament hopes could hinge on it. Haith hopes he doesn't have to answer one more question about Miami for the rest of his life. One seems much more likely than the other.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com