The Monday after the first weekend of the NCAA tournament is always a strange time for college basketball fans. After four days straight of hoops, the spigot is shut off. Well, not completely because we have the NIT and CBI tournaments. They may not garner much media hype, but they offer a lot of good teams playing quietly away from Dick Vitale.
On Tuesday, we only have two games to choose from, but there are some quality players involved. One of the two games is from the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) and the other is from the more established, but no more legitimate NIT. Some day maybe all of these tournaments will be folded into the NCAA tournament, but it is more likely that the BCS teams will excluded the Cinderellas. In any case, let’s take a quick look at today’s games.
Rice vs. Oakland
I don’t believe Daily Joust salaries are based on the number of games available, so Reggie Hamilton’s ($322,000) salary would probably the same if there were ten games or more on the schedule. The senior guard is on an unbelievable scoring run in which he has provided at least 29 points in his last nine games. He scored from all over the court, but has been very hot from the perimeter during his streak. In his last four games, Hamilton has hit 21 three-pointers. So, do you spend nearly a third of your salary cap on him? I think you almost have to and surround Hamilton with some smaller pieces. He is simply the best scorer in the country and I don’t believe the Owls will be able to slow him down. Other options on the Owls include Travis Bader ($204,000) and Ryan Bass ($109,000). Bader has played off of Hamilton best and has been on his own torrid three-point streak. The 6-foot-4 sophomore has downed 20 threes in his last four games. Bass, another sophomore guard, is coming off his career high of 22 points against Buffalo, but he had not scored in double digits in his previous six games.
The Owls have won their CIT games by a combined 11 points over Louisiana-Lafayette and Drake. They may spend so much time trying to stop Hamilton that there may not be much energy left for scoring. After a rather trying junior season in which he played through a knee injury, forward Araslan Kazemi ($128,000) seems like he is rounding into form. He has scored in double digits in six of his last seven games, but has only topped 12 points twice in that span. While he has been rebounding well, most of his board work is done on the defensive end. Connor Frizzelle ($113,000) did not play in the win over Drake because of a family commitment, but he is expected to return on Tuesday. He had 18 points against the Ragin’ Cajuns and could be nice mid-level play. Freshman Dylan Ennis ($98,000) started for Frizzelle and scored 17 points against Drake. He had only scored 19 points in his previous four games, so he is probably someone you don’t want to add.
Oregon vs. Washington
Two Pac 12 rivals meet for the third time this season in the NIT. Washington won a rare road game at Oregon on Feb. 9, which was payback for a Dec. 31 home loss to the Ducks. Terrence Ross ($223,000) scored a career-high 32 in the win over Northwestern on Friday, so he might be somewhat overpriced. He averaged 16.0 points this season and was limited to a combined 19 points against the Ducks. C.J. Wilcox ($173,000) appears to be getting his shot back after struggling with a hip injury. He has scored at least 15 points in his last four games, including 20 against the Wildcats. In that span, he has nailed 12 three-pointers. Wilcox scored 24 points against the Ducks in a pre-injury game, but just ten points on Feb. 9. Freshman Tony Wroten ($136,000) has not only hit the wall, but fallen through the floor. He had just two points against Northwestern (although he did have eight rebounds and seven assists). Wroten averaged 15.5 points against the Ducks and could be a nice play despite the fact that he has scored in single digits in three of his last five games.
Devoe Joseph ($207,000) has enjoyed the NIT. In wins over LSU and Iowa, he has averaged 20.0 points and topped 20 points in three of his last five games. The Minnesota transfer did not play particularly well against the Huskies and had his worst game in the win at Seattle in which he went 1-for-13 from the field. Joseph finished with a season-low four points. Forward Carlos Emory ($151,000) has come on like gangbusters at the end of the season. He has scored in double digits in five straight games and had 19 points off the bench in the win over the Hawkeyes. In the NIT, Emory has gone 17-for-19 from the free throw line, but you shouldn’t expect him to get many calls away from home. Emory did score 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting in the last game against the Huskies. Guard Garrett Sim ($149,000) has been a consistent scoring option for Oregon. He has put in 15 points in both NIT games to justify his salary. Sim has knocked down 11 of his last 21 three-point attempts. He scored 13 points in both games against the Huskies. E.J. Singler ($145,000) scored 25 points in the win over Iowa as he went 9-for-10 from the field. Generally, when a player shoots incredibly well in one game, they will cool off soon after. Singler may be good for 12 points, but I wouldn’t expect many more.