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(More) College Basketball Insomnia!!

The Iona Gaels finished fourth in the country last season in scoring (83.5 ppg) and could be a Cinderella next March thanks to David Laury. (Stockton Photo Inc.)
The Iona Gaels finished fourth in the country last season in scoring (83.5 PPG) and have what it takes to become a Cinderella come next March, thanks to forward David Laury, the Preseason MAAC Player of the Year. (Stockton Photo Inc.)

My apologies, but the marathon about to be run right now in November in New York City will not require 26 miles of torture on my legs and respiratory system.  It may require me to pack in a lot of carbohydrates, however.

Tonight marks the beginning of the 24-hour college basketball marathon on the ESPN networks to unofficially kick off the season, and just like last year, we’re going to spend more than 24 hours making sure we duct tape our eyelids open and provide running commentary on all of the games taking place in the middle of the night, early in the morning, and more! If you think we’re crazy to do actually try and pull this off, just remember: we did the same thing last season!

Along with our running commentary, please join the fun (or insanity) by adding your thoughts and commentary to the blog.  There’s nothing like inclusion to make sure that you know you’re not the only one up in the early morning watching Iona and Wofford and thinks you’re a swell person for doing so!

Let’s have some insomnia-induced fun AGAIN, shall we?

11:50 PM EST: LSU up four with 3…2…1….and THAT’S IT!!  LSU wins 69-64.  And that’s the end of the marathon!  Whew!!  I hope you enjoyed the ride…and the senility!  Thank you so much, everybody for joining us again!!  See you next year for Year Three of (Even) More College Basketball Insomnia!

11:32 PM EST: Why not end the marathon with more overtime?!?!

11:28 PM EST: Sorry KU/UK, have to finish with Texas Tech/LSU as Tigers hit two free throws, then get a steal and layup to tie the game at 57 with 13 seconds left.

11:23 PM EST: Texas Tech back in front now, a 5-0 to give them a 57-53 lead with 1:21 to go.

11:12 PM EST: Now LSU has come back and taken the lead?!  I should go back there now, but watching Kentucky’s embarrassment of riches is so much fun now.  Decisions, decisions!

11:09 PM EST: Was that a sweeping sky hook Karl-Anthony Towns?

11:03 PM EST: Jay Bilas wins the evening, imitating Bill Raftery’s “Lingerie on the Deck” line, then playfully skewering him for applying for trademarks to some of his famous lines!  We kid because we care!!

10:54 PM EST: We have gone over 24 hours of blogging!!  We’ve made it!  Wait, there’s still college basketball going on?!  Well….good!  Kentucky should stay around after the game and have another Blue/White scrimmage.  Maybe Larry Brown’s 45-0 statement about what Kentucky should finish this season isn’t too far fetched, though I don’t think it will happen.   

10:17 PM EST: “That’s bad offense.” – Mark Adams, after another empty LSU possession.  Indeed it was, and Texas Tech ends half on 31-13 run to lead by 12 at intermission.  Any chance Red Raiders make some noise in Big 12?  Last thing I’m going to do is doubt a team coached by Orlando Smith. (They call him Tubby, you know?)

10:15 PM EST: It took almost 24 whole hours, but finally get to hear one of my favorite analysts in the business, our friend Mark Adams (@EnthusiAdams).  He’s in Baton Rouge for Texas Tech and LSU, and after a good start by the Tigers, Texas Tech has come roaring back.  Any team coached by Tubby Smith is going to sink its teeth into you defensively, and LSU is having that happen to them right now.  Oh, and Mark just gave love to Northern Iowa and its win at Stephen F. Austin!  That game needs to be talked up more…what a game!

9:59 PM EST: It’s cute how Kansas keeps trying to score inside, only to get mauled again and again inside and have their shots blocked.  It’s crazy to say, but the Jayhawks look like they don’t belong on the same court as Big Blue.

9:50 PM EST: So far, so good with keeping my interest in the marathon as I’m watching the hockey line changes that I’m seeing with Kentucky.  Also can’t believe that, if you take their top 10 players in the rotation, they’re as big as all but one NBA team.  Maybe they’ll lose in the non-conference and/or in the NCAA Tournament, but there’s no way I can see any SEC team staying within eight points of Big Blue.

9:03 PM EST: Even with the big-time, blue-blood programs playing each other to end the marathon, all the other exciting action has made these games somewhat anti-climactic.  Maybe that’s fatigue talking.  Maybe Kentucky-Kansas will make me eat my words!  Duke comes out on top by 10, 81-71.

8:56 PM EST: Taking a tour de force, and saw Virginia put on the defensive clamps against South Carolina State, Marquette and Ohio State and now back to Duke and Michigan State, and seeing a Tyus Jones video reel of his amazing second half.  In terms of seeing the Blue Devils on Friday in Brooklyn, I’m going to quote the modern-day Keats, former Jets linebacker Bart Scott: “CAN’T WAIT!”

8:15 PM EST: #MACtion is over on the basketball court with Toledo losing, but there’s #MACtion on the football field with Northern Illinois at Ohio.  But we’ll head back to Michigan State and Duke, and now seeing Okafor at the free throw stripe and adding to his points total.  44-35 Duke, 18:26 in the second half.

8:07 PM EST: The national defensive player of the year award race is over.  Just give it to Briante Weber right now.  Toledo was right there with VCU, but, as Tom Hart said, they’ve come part at the same at the worst possible time.  But Toledo is damn good!

7:55 PM EST: Briante Weber just stole my dinner…and my ideas straight from out of my head.

7:44 PM EST: Another game that’s started is Marquette vs. No. 20 Ohio State.  There’s no more Buzz in Marquette, as Buzz Williams left Marquette to take the head coaching job at Virginia Tech.  In his place is former Duke player and assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski. And as luck would have it, we got a chance to talk with Wojo before the season started.  Here’s proof!

7:37 PM EST: Don’t forget that VCU played a thriller in last year’s marathon, with Treveon Graham hitting a last-second three-pointer at eventual ACC champion Virginia.  Looks like another exciting finish in store involving VCU once again.

7:32 PM EST: Someone get Toledo’s J.D. Weatherspoon into a slam dunk contest..NOW!

7:26 PM EST: VCU pressure starting to wear down Toledo a little as Rams are up three with 14 minutes left. Seeing a shot of the VCU band, and they have one of the most lively bands…and also have a DJ and a turntable 

7:24 PM EST: Well, before I go back to Toledo and VCU, a quick peek at the new College Football Playoff Rankings, and the Top 7 are as follows: Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Mississippi State, TCU, Ohio State and Baylor.  Not shocked that Alabama jumped to No. 1, not shocked that Mississippi State stays in the Top 4.  Committee chair Jeff Long says résumés of TCU and Baylor not comparable for head-to-head win to kick in…and I agree wholeheartedly with that. 

7:17 PM EST: Back to Toledo and VCU, and tied at 51. May have to stay here until the conclusion. Would really love the MAC team to get the win.  I remember back in the ’90s when the MAC would get multiple teams in the tourney, but don’t think that’s happened since 1999. This would go a long way in changing that, assuming Toledo came up short in the conference tourney.

7:16 PM EST: Either Michigan State doubles Jahlil Okafor in the post and allows him to show off his passing skills, or play him one-on-one and let him scorch you for 40.  Your choice, Spartans..

7:08 PM EST: Michigan State, Duke, and an interview with one of Duke’s starters, Amile Jefferson.

6:51 PM EST: Michigan State and Duke getting ready to square off in the Champions Classic.  The last time these two teams met in the Champions Classic, it was at Madison Square Garden, and I got a ticket to the game via my good friend – and diehard Duke fan – Molly Knecht-Whitehouse.  It was the night that Coach K passed Bob Knight on the all-time Division I coaching wins list to boot.  Special night, indeed!

6:47 PM EST: I come back to see Toledo with a 37-31 lead.  Again, this isn’t going to be easy for VCU.  Toledo had a relatively low (meaning good) RPI going into Selection Sunday, but didn’t make the Big Dance.  A win here and they can legitimately think about setting themselves up so they can get an at-large bid at the very least.

6:20 PM EST: Time to run and pick up dinner…Chinese food.  Can’t do all of this on an empty stomach, now can we?  Well, I guess I can, but I’ll just be hangry for the rest of the time on here, and we don’t want that!

6:15 PM EST: For those that don’t know, or don’t remember, Toledo was a 27-win team from last season, started 12-0 and gave Kansas a run for its money at Allen Field House in their first loss of the season.  VCU won’t have an east time of it with the Rockets.

6:13 PM EST: SDSU are in the throes of a mini meltdown…and probably will still win this game.

6:08 PM EST: And now the Utes can’t miss three-pointers all of a sudden!!  Are you telling me that Utah could possibly somehow WIN this game??  49-46 Aztecs, 16.8 seconds left.

6:00 PM EST: My apologies for not talking too much about the game, but the Waltonisms are taking over my mind.  And finally, Delon Wright, Pac-12 player of the year candidate, scores for Utah, almost 39 minutes into the game.  About to experience HAVOC soon, with VCU playing Toledo at 6.

5:42 PM EST: OK, Utes, now it’s really time to not emulate your football team and start scoring some points in a hurry!   Only 27 points with 6:04 to go?  Yet only down nine?

5:18 PM EST: More Bill, describing the outdoor shower that he has at his home with his wife: “We’ve been in our home for 35 years.  I’ve never taken an indoor shower.”  Well then…

5:11 PM EST: Bill Walton calling out sideline reporter Jeff Goodman for being caught unaware that he was on the air.  “Hey, Jeff! You’re on the air!  Let’s go, big guy!”

5:00 PM EST: I’m pretty sure I’m getting Champions Classic preview overload right now…just get the games going!

4:45 PM EST: This is one of those low-scoring games in which it is fun to watch because of the defense being played instead of the putrid offenses.  But, yes, the offenses haven’t been real good for Utah and SDSU.  Still an exciting game!

4:17 PM EST: San Diego State’s perimeter defense is absolutely no joke!!  At least the Utes are getting some second chances on the boards.

4:09 PM EST: “Traveling violation ignored by the ref!” – Bill Walton (Just imagine him saying this in his unmistakable voice, and you’ll know why this would sound so funny!)

4:09 PM EST: BILL WALTON IS DOING THE BROADCAST!!  YES! The walk can wait! And a Syracuse broadcaster alert, with Dave Pasch doing the play-by-play in Mission Valley. 

4:06 PM EST: Walk coming up soon, but about to leave the Wichita State-Memphis game and switching over to ESPNU and No. 25 Utah and No. 16 San Diego State, two real good teams out West.  Kind of surprised Utah is in the Top 25, not because they don’t deserve it but because I didn’t think enough voters noticed how dangerous the Utes were last year and what they have returning this season.  Good job, voters!

3:52 PM EST: Thinking it’s time for a little walk, then come back for most of the Utah-San Diego State game. Gotta get the blood circulating…as well as keep my shape before I gorge myself in turkey meat in just over a week.

3:36 PM EST: After going 60-plus minutes without one, the three-pointers are now raining down for Wichita State!  Sort of.

3:22 PM EST: Facial alert!!  Tekele Cotton!!

3:22 PM EST: By the way, Fred VanVleet falls to the floor way too many times for my liking.

3:20 PM EST: There’s a fan in the stands in Sioux Falls who has a red, white and blue headband with a mullet that I want to believe is fake but have a gut feeling that the mullet hair is real. Sounds like a Sioux Falls trip is in our future.  Shockers now up nine after layup on opening possession of second half.

3:05 PM EST: Not 100 percent sold on Wichita State’s offense as of yet, but have been sold on the Shockers’ defense ever since they won the Postseason NIT a few years back. They’re the poster child for using the NIT as a springboard to much bigger and better things.  

3:03 PM EST: Broadcasters missed what happened with the inadvertent whistle.  One of the officials (looked like John Higgins) blew the whistle after the shot clock horn went off then extended his arms, thinking it was the game clock horn and that it was the end of the half.  Either way, the half is now over and the Shockers are up seven on Memphis.  

2:31 PM EST: I’m still not 100 percent sold on Wichita State, in terms of making it back to the Final Four, until I see that they can get easy baskets in the half-court.  Cleanthony Early was so good and such a mismatch for teams, and was a go-to guy on the inside.  Who will be the go-to guy this season?

2:27 PM EST: Impressed by Fred VanVleet’s answers on the rapid-fire questions, including wanting to have dinner with Malcolm X if he could have dinner with anyone through the history of time!

2:08 PM EST: Loving the parquet floor at the area in Sioux Falls, as well as the old three-second key area. (Of course Wilt Chamberlain could dominate with how narrow that key was back then!!)

2:07 PM EST: Over the cries of the fighting rooster on the loudspeaker in Columbia, Baylor holds on, 69-65.  Now time for Wichita State and Memphis.

2:03 PM EST: The player with the emphatic dunk for South Carolina was Michael CArrera, and he looks like a raw and serious athlete…a human pogo stick!  Baylor up 67-65 with 2.3 seconds.  Bears ball.

1:59 PM EST: Back to basketball, and looks like the Baylor Bears are going to win this matchup of young teams against South Carolina.  Although an emphatic finish by USC (Carolina version) cuts Baylor’s lead to three with about 30 seconds left.

1:40 PM EST: And now Belarus does score!  They take a deserved lead after a couple of exquisite counter-attacks should have given them the lead earlier.  OK, OK, no more soccer!!

1:38 PM EST: COME ON, BELARUS!  With the game tied at 2, the Belorussians miss a sitter well wide of the goal when it was easier to score than to not score!  Oh, this is a college basketball blog, right??  Sorry…

1:30 PM EST: Now we have international soccer competing with college basketball right now, as I’m taking a peek at Mexico vs. Belarus.  But we’ll go over to Baylor and South Carolina in a second.  But we’re really waiting for 2 PM, with No. 11 Wichita State taking on Memphis from Sioux Falls, S.D.

1:27 PM EST: UMass holds on, 77-68 in overtime, and now has started the season with three pretty good wins: Siena, Boston College and Manhattan.

1:23 PM EST: So it looks like UMass will hold on, and the Manhattan comeback down three with UMass fouling intentionally will end up being just a footnote.  Oh, and a Syracuse broadcaster alert before the game ends: Sean McDonough is a Orangeman and his partner, Tim Welsh, was a former assistant under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse.

1:20 PM EST: We’re back again, and what a finish to regulation in Amherst!!  For those who believe in fouling when up by three late in the game, thinking the strategy is foolproof, I hope the Manhattan/UMass game changes your mind about how rock solid the strategy supposedly is.  Even crazier, Manhattan didn’t even execute perfectly, as the free throw miss didn’t draw iron.  But the alley-oop with 0.8 left after UMass turned it over on the inbounds was perfectly executed!

12:02 PM EST: We’ve moved back into the post meridiem part of the college basketball marathon.  It’s halftime between Manhattan and UMass, and we’re going to take a little intermission as well, for about a half an hour.  Until then, here’s our interview from A-10 Media Days with UMass head coach Derek Kellogg, as we talk about his team and some of his players, including guard Derrick Gordon, who earlier this year decided to come out publicly about his sexual identity and homosexuality, and how the team and school supported him before, during and after the announcement, and whether coach has seen a difference in his demeanor after his public announcement.

11:40 AM EST: The sleeved uniforms have invaded college basketball once again, and this time, it’s UMass sporing the sleeves.  Believe UCLA did that last year.  Thoughts on the sleeves on basketball uniforms?!

11:30 AM EST: Steve Masiello, head coach of Manhattan, said that the MAAC is probably going to be a one-bid league despite the presence of quality teams like Iona, Siena and themselves.  Well, Steve, defeat UMass this morning and there’s a chance that you could be a team from the MAAC that might get an at-large!

11:28 AM EST: The 34-game home win streak is over for Stephen F. Austin!  UNI comes away with the 79-77 win in a game more fitting for mid-March instead of mid-November.  Make sure to follow these teams and not forget them until conference tournament time.  Now off to Manhattan/UMass.

11:23 AM EST: IT’S NOVEMBER MADNESS!!   

11:13 AM EST: More overtime, with UNI and SFA tied at 70.  Also, this give me time to finish the editing of my Derek Kellogg interview for the UMass/Manhattan game.  18 lead changes, 11 ties in the game.  UConn/Stanford women and Miami/Florida men, you have company for “game of the marathon.”

11:09 AM EST: UNI with an and-1, and a chance to tie with the free throw.  Also, it becomes a two-for-one, as Panthers are in position to take the last shot.  50.2 seconds to go.  Game is now tied as FT is made!

11:02 AM EST: Is the home winning streak going to end for SFA?  UNI now with the lead, 67-65, with 2:07 left.  And then Demetrious Floyd nails another three…his fourth!  SFA back up one!  These are two NCAA-caliber teams for sure!

10:57 AM EST: Hallejuah!!. They’re going back to the regular terminology in 2016 for the NCAA Tournament.  So the first round will actually be…the first round!!  Thank *%&#@$% goodness!!

10:53 AM EST: Northern Iowa cuts lead down to two, 63-65, with under four minutes to go.  Oh, and I agree 100 percent with Jeff Van Gundy about the terminology of what the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament are called.  Just call the play-in games what they really are: PLAY-IN GAMES.  There’s no stigma to calling it that at all.  Oh, and as Adam Amin followed up with, you just confuse all the broadcasters who have to adjust to the different terminology. 

10:25 AM EST: “Just because guys fall down doesn’t mean you give them the call.” -Jeff Van Gundy.  I just wish more officials, college and NBA, thought the same way. 

10:22 AM EST: Back to blogging and back to this game, which is living up to the expectations, and then some. Wyatt Lohaus, the player who’s responsible for making me look up video games of the early 1990s, has just hit a couple of threes for UNI to tie the game at 52 against SFA. Love the talk about this being a résumé-building win for the winner, especially if UNI breaks SFA’s 34-game winning home winning streak.  Here’s hoping tournament committee sees it that way as well in March, assuming the Panthers are close to being included in the NCAA Tournament by that time.

9:42 AM EST: Taking a (real) short break from blogging as I have to get the interview with UMass head coach Derek Kellogg ready for your viewing pleasure. UMass is up next in the marathon, going up against another NCAA Tournament team from last season, the Manhattan Jaspers of the MAAC. 

9:35 AM EST: All the talk about Duke basketball and its amazing freshman class is making me giddy that I’ll be seeing the Blue Devils in person this Friday in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic the Barclays Center.  

9:24 AM EST: “The Lakers should not be on national television.” – Jeff Van Gundy.  You win the day, Jeff! 

9:21 AM EST: Another player who’s just made me feel like I’m 100 years old is Wyatt Lohaus of Northern Iowa, the son of former NBA player Brad Lohaus.  Remember seeing Brad back in the 1980s as a Milwaukee Buck. If you remember players who you played with in the Bulls vs. Lakers Sega Genesis video game, then you can really date yourself. 

BvLNBAPlayoffsBoxShotGenesis

9:12 AM EST: Breaking news: Adrian Peterson has just been suspended without pay for the rest of the 2014 season and won’t be up for reinstatement until April 15.  Reports are that Peterson will appeal the suspension.

9:10 AM EST: Jeff Van Gundy is in the house in Nacogdoches, Texas for Northern Iowa and Stephen F. Austin. Should be a great listen!  

9:04 AM EST: It’s over in Spartanburg, S.C. and Wofford wins 86-73 over Iona.  Wofford scored over 80 points only four times last season, against Emory and Henry College, Johnson & Wales, High Point and Hiwassee College.

8:49 AM EST: I’m in trouble now!  Was trying to look up the Miami/Florida highlights from yesterday and in doing so, came across old NCAA Tournament games in its entirety that have been uploaded onto YouTube.  Starting to take a look at some of the games now, including Sweet 16 match-up between Tulsa and Miami from 2000. Don’t mind me, I’ll be looking at YouTube clips all day of old college basketball NCAA Tournament games.

8:30 AM EST: Just found out that a sequel to the movie “Joe Dirt” is in the works.  Why???

8:22 AM EST: 6-8 David Laury throwing an alley-oop to 6-4 A.J. English, who finishes with a lay-up.  Don’t see that too often from schools at the mid-major level.

8:12 AM EST: This is shaping up to be one of the best games of all in the marathon. 44-44, 17:35 to go. Please don’t forget about these teams until conference tournament play.  Both should be two of the best mid-majors all season long.

7:55 AM EST: Want to hear from a Preseason All-America?  Well, you’re in luck!  Here’s our interview with Louisville forward Montrezl Harrell from ACC Media Days in Charlotte. Just doing our part in continuing to get you excited for the 2014-15 season, and listening to Harrell alone could do just that!

7:36 AM EST: Was impressed with Wofford last season when seeing them in Milwaukee in the NCAA Tournament. Clearly were overmatched in size vs. Wolverines and got off to a real slow start, but slowly chipped back into the game and made it respectable for a while in the second half.  They still broke my heart in 2010, when I bragged to my co-workers that Wofford would beat Wisconsin  and make me look like a genius…and they came sooooooo close to doing so.  Think they lost by only four that game. 

7:21 AM EST: Don’t forget that Iona made the NCAA Tournament in 2012 and 2013.  And also don’t forget that Iona made the NCAAs as an at-large team from the MAAC in 2012.  That’s the year Iona absolutely was putting it on BYU in the opening-round game in Dayton, winning by 25 points at one point.  Then they made history by losing the largest lead in an NCAA game.  That’s the big worry…holding a lead.  They’ll cause headaches in the Big Dance…if they make it, of course.

7:14 AM EST: And Coach Robinson just mentioned one of the reasons why the Gaels are a team to watch from a non-major conference: almost 10 made three-pointers per game last season. A.J. English just splashed one down now.  Also keep an eye on David Laury (the person whose arms are raised at the top of this page), a skilled point forward who can do it all on the floor. There won’t be many games Iona plays in which he’s not the best big man on the floor.  

7:10 AM EST: High Point defeats Hawai’i, and now off to Spartanburg, S.C.?  AND WHAT DO I SEE??  A PARQUET FLOOR??  I’m in dreamland!!  The parquet floor is NOT DEAD!  Thank you Wofford Terriers!  And Craig Robinson, the former head coach at Oregon State and Barack Obama’s brother-in-law, has landed on television, doing the color commentary for the game.

7:03 AM EST: Into hour 13 of the college basketball marathon, and can’t wait to see Iona and Wofford next.  Saw Wofford in person in Milwaukee against Michigan in the NCAA Tournament, and Iona js a team that also made the NCAAs, losing to Manhattan in the MAAC Tournament Final. Iona is DANGEROUS.  They score points in bunches!  But can they play enough defense to carry themselves into the NCAAs and advance in them?

6:58 AM EST: So happy that the behind-the-back got stolen by High Point…had a layup right there and decided to showboat.  Less flash and just drive to the basket and score!

6:56 AM EST: So High Point won its season opener in four overtimes?!  Good thing they eased into the season without any stress.

5:16 AM EST: I always remember one of the streetball legends (forget which one) saying that he went to High Point University before embarking on a streetball career.  Hope High Point wins the game for him, wherever he is!

4:53 AM EST: As long as Randy Bennett is around in Moraga, Saint Mary’s is going to produce stellar guard play and have an NCAA caliber team.  But doing to from the non-transfer, non-Australian route is new.  Aaron Bright, if he can stay healthy, makes all the difference.

4:03 AM EST: Time for halftime again, and time for the same halftime report video from the last three games. What, you actually thought there’d be people up doing the cameras and such while Kevin (Neghandi), Kara (Lawson) and Rebecca (Lobo) are doing the halftime report?

3:47 AM EST: Was that my first yawn during the marathon?!?!  Not. Allowed!  Saint Mary’s looking as if they have added a couple of pure shooters on roster, as always!  28-22 Gaels, 6:42 first half.

3:20 AM EST: Is New Mexico State an ever-present in the college basketball marathon?  They’re always in these marathons..and it seems as if they’re always on the road playing these games.  Way to be good sports about this, Aggies!

3:16 AM EST: I remember Joe Crispin’s career, as he was on the Penn State team that was a surprise in 1996 and was a No. 5 seed in the NCAAs (lost to Arkansas in the first round).  Can’t say that I remember Jon Crispin’s career as much, Joe’s younger brother, though he’s in the spotlight more often now that he’s on television doing color commentary.

3:13 AM EST: Yes, I came to see a Bhullar (Tanveer, 7-foot-3 brother of the 7-foot-5 Sim Bhullar, who now is in the NBA), but don’t forget senior guard Daniel Mullings, another Canadian star in college basketball who won WAC Player of the Year last season. Last time we saw NMSU, they were scaring the living daylights out of San Diego State in the NCAAs, taking them to overtime.

3:09 AM EST: Colorado is a minute away from salting this game away vs. Auburn, so now time to concentrate on New Mexico State and Saint Mary’s.  Saint Mary’s now has two Pac-12 transfers – Aaron Bright (Stanford) and Desmond Simmons (Washington) – on the roster.  Feel bad for Bright, who only played a few games last year before a shoulder injury ended his year, and it happened to be a season the Cardinal made the Sweet 16. Maybe Gaels can challenge Gonzaga again?  Maybe not…

3:00 AM EST: For those who don’t remember him back in the day, I present to you Chris Porter: dunker extraordinaire!

2:54 AM EST: Now a video from Charles Barkley throwing his support around Bruce Pearl and his alma mater. Also some talk about The Rifleman as well! Definitely some Auburn basketball royalty. Question: Is Chris Porter, the JuCo transfer that helped lead Auburn to a No. 1 seed during the 1999 NCAA Tournament, on Auburn basketball’s Mt. Rushmore??

2:51 AM EST: Going back to last year’s tournament, if you were in an office poll and picked Colorado over Pitt, shame on you.  Should know by now that if a West Coast team plays in an East Coast city in the daytime, it’s almost a guaranteed first round loss for the West Coast school.  I haven’t been a fan of Pitt for years come tourney time, but once all those factors were set last March, picking Panthers was a no-brainer.  Now you can’t say that I didn’t help you with a top or two before March Madness!

2:47 AM EST: Some more bugs got into our system, but we’re back.  And in the meantime, Colorado has opened the lead to 21 (67-46).  Also, they showed the Colorado training facility and how the CU coach Tad Boyle reminded the team how their season ended last year, by posting the “Pittsburgh 77, Colorado 48” score all over facility.  Now THAT’S motivation!

2:00 AM EST: Just ate a half a bag of unsalted pretzels in one sitting.  It must be good for me since they’re unsalted, right??

1:56 AM EST: How good would this Colorado team be if Spencer Dinwiddie, who tore his ACL in early January of last season, came back to school instead to declaring for the NBA Draft (second round by the Detroit Pistons)?  Colorado leads at halftime, 38-34, despite Josh Scott only with four points and not being any real factor on both ends of the floor.

1:44 AM EST: Speaking of great shooters, Todd Golden, who shot 46% from three as a senior at Saint Mary’s in 2008 (and 39.5% from three in his collegiate career), is the director of basketball operations at Auburn.  Last season, he was here in New York City as an assistant coach at Columbia. He had a pretty set shot…didn’t elevate off of the floor, but if he was open and shot the ball, it was all net!!

1:42 AM EST: I just saw one of my favorite NBA players growing up sitting on the Auburn sidelines, Chuck Connors Person – The Rifleman! Guess he’s back at his alma mater as an assistant coach. Having Person and Reggie Miller on the same team with the Pacers was fun…two of the best shooters I’ve ever seen.

1:24 AM EST: The son of Duke forward Antonio Lang, who won two titles at Duke in 1991 and 1992, is playing college basketball now (for Auburn)???  Damn, that just made me feel old!

1:19 AM EST: Bruce is a funny guy isn’t he?  Just showed a clip of him dressed as Auburn football head coach Gus Malzahn during a rally at the basketball arena on Oct. 30, orange sweater vest and all.  I’m telling you, Pearl is going to make Auburn an NCAA Tournament team within three years.  Though, I guess that’s not hard since the SEC is pretty down and won’t be “up” anytime soon.

1:14 AM EST: Didn’t know that K.C. Ross-Miller, former New Mexico State star, is at Auburn now as a graduate student. Great addition for a school that is limited because of Bruce Pearl’s show-cause penalty.  Oh, and they got Antoine Mason from Niagara, who was second in the NCAA in scoring last season while at Niagara!  Man, Auburn might be one of the 10 most exciting teams to watch this year!

1:04 AM EST: And it’s a wrap from Spokane, and No. 13 Gonzaga completes the beatdown of SMU, 72-56. Now Auburn and Colorado from Boulder, and we welcome Bruce Pearl back to the coaching sidelines, the new coach of the Tigers. Roxy Bernstein, I know about Josh Scott and his great post play for the Buffs! Somehow, this team got railroaded by Pittsburgh in the NCAAs last year in the first, err, second round!

12:50 AM EST: They just put up a list of notable Lithuanian players who played college basketball, like Maryland’s Sarunas Jasikevicius and Missouri’s Linas Kleiza, but I love that one of my favorite foreign players, Iona’s Mindaugas Timinskas, got some love. Leave it to a person who coached against him in college, Manhattan’s Fran Fraschilla, to give him some love nationally! Those were some REAL GOOD Iona teams Timinskas played on from 1993-97. The 1998 Iona team almost beat Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament in the first round, but it was a Lithuanian player on Syracuse, Marius Janulis, that saved the Orangemen’s bacon with a buzzer-beating three!

12:48 AM EST: Watching Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis, the son of former Soviet/Lithuanian basketball great and former Portland Trail Blazer Arvydas Sabonis, and all I have in my mind is the voice of Bill Walton calling Arvydas, in his heyday, the “7-foot-3 Larry Bird.”

12:41 AM EST:It’s time now for the tradition of pointing out broadcasters who went to Syracuse currently broadcasting games during the marathon! We’re at two now, with Dave O’Brien and grad school graduate – and San Francisco Giants radio voice – Dave Flemming, who’s currently doing the SMU/Gonzaga game. Let’s Go Orange! (Not to be confused with “Let’s Go Orrange!” in honor or Stanford heroine Amber Orrange.

12:34 AM EST: My apologies for the technical difficulties…I think my Internet shut down after Stanford upset the UConn women in overtime!  Already, we have the game of the year so far!  But now we’re back online..and we come back to a butt kicking, as Gonzaga is up 21 on SMU, 57-36, and the Mustangs are 2-for-18 shooting in the second half.  SMU is a good team, but it’s a shame their best player is in China right now.

11:08 PM EST:This would have been the space where I would talk about how excited I am that No. 22 and No. 13 Gonzaga are playing each other, but ladies first! 82-81 UConn women, 3:20 to go.

10:57 PM EST:And we go to overtime with the UConn and Stanford women! Looked like UConn was running “Pacer” on the inbounds, the play that Valpo ran to defeat Ole Miss in the 1998 NCAA Tournament.

10:53 PM EST: AMBER ORRANGE!!! TIE GAME!

10:51 PM EST: Spoke too soon about UConn taking control…75-74 UCONN, 11.8 seconds to go. UConn can’t lose THIS EARLY, can they? Can they lose, period, at any time in the season??

10:46 PM EST: Did you know that we spoke with Angel Rodriguez, the hero of tonight’s game for the Hurricanes, during ACC Media Days last month? No, you didn’t know?? Well, here’s the interview!

10:42 PM EST: Though I really, REALLY want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers lose on Monday Night Football, I have to keep focused on the basketball, which is well into hour four of the marathon. It got started at 7 PM with Miami upsetting No. 8 Florida on a game-winning three-pointer by Kansas State transfer Angel Rodriguez. (More on Angel in a second.)  Watching the women play, as No 1 UConn is starting to pull away from No. 6 Stanford, a re-match of a national semifinial from last year’s Final Four.

[Cover photo (Jahlil Okafor) courtesy of Grant Halverson/Getty Images]

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