There was a dizzying amount of CBI fun on Wednesday, as all but one of the first round games took place. To get right to the important stuff, here are the teams that joined Utah Valley in the quarterfinals:
- Campbell, by beating Miami (OH)
- Jacksonville State, by beating Canisius in overtime
- New Orleans, by beating UT Rio Grande Valley
- North Texas, by beating South Dakota
- Mercer, by beating Grand Canyon
- Central Arkansas, by beating Seattle
- San Francisco, by beating Colgate
And here are some of the things that stood out:
We all get more Campbell!
And that’s a great, fun thing. The Camels moved on behind 32 points (11-19 FG) from Chris Clemons, meaning we get at least more chance this season to watch him and Marcus Burk (16 points, 4-8 3FG) light up the scoreboard. Campbell will host New Orleans in the quarterfinals, as they try and better their best postseason run — two wins in the CIT last season — since joining Div. I.
The WAC got whacked
The CBI’s heavy WAC flavor took a big hit. UVU won the tournament’s lone Tuesday game, but the three league teams in play on Wednesday — UTRGV, Grand Canyon and Seattle — all dropped games. The Lopes and Redhawks both lost home games, as GCU’s usually-reliable three-point defense got lit up by Ross Cummings and Mercer (10-20 3FG), and SU got lit up by Jordan Howard (more on that below).
A night of firsts for Central Arkansas
The CBI and CIT are full of warts, but one positive aspect of the third-tier tournaments are that you get stories like this: Central Arkansas played in — and won — its first-ever postseason game as a Div. I program. And in the process, it extended the career of senior guard and UCA’s career points leader Jordan Howard (30 points). And, as Russ Pennell discussed in a release, it means another home game the team didn’t see coming, as the Bears will host Jacksonville State next week.
“I think it’s a real honor to get to take these guys back home,’ said Pennell. “They played their last game there against Northwestern State and thought that would be the end. And here they get a chance to go back, and not only do that, but to win another game and advance in this tournament. And I think when you play games like this and win games like this, it teaches you some things that you couldn’t get in a regular-season game.’
How about that travel schedule for UCA? John Calipari complained about his team’s 1,956-mile, charter jet journey to Boise, while the Bears — which almost certainly weren’t on a charter jet — had to make a 2,240 trek to Seattle. Perspective, Coach Cal.
North Texas saved its best for last
Well, sort of. The Mean Green ran out to a 7-4 CUSA record in Grant McClasland’s debut season, which was a big improvement over their 2-16 season a year ago. But they stumbled down the stretch, losing six of their last seven regular season games — as the schedule included Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky and Marshall — and then fell in their CUSA Tournament opener to Louisiana Tech.
The beauty, if you can call it that, of the CBI is that a 15-17 team can keep playing, and practicing, as a first-year coach implements his program. That paid off right away, as the Mean Green got their best win of the year at South Dakota, a team rated 80th in KenPom (their previous best was beating #108 UAB on the road). Breakout sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart had another another tremendous game (34 points, 7-18 3FG), and will look to continue that against Mercer at home next week.