Yes, there is one week left in a very interesting major league baseball regular season. Week three of the NFL is upon us. And college football is in high gear. Yet, there are a lot of things going on in mid major college basketball. Good things.
First, the Annual Wooden Tradition at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on December 20 is going to be a bonanza for mid major hoops fans! The first game pits hometown Purdue against the Elite Eight Darlings, the Davidson Wildcats with their star player, Stephen Curry. This will be a difficult test for Davidson as Purdue returns all five of its starting players from its 25-9 2007-08 NCAA tournament team which made the second round of the tournament before losing to Xavier. Davidson returns senior guard Curry but loses several key players from their team due to graduation, including star point guard Jason Richards.
But its not just the first matchup that should intrigue mid major hoops fans. The second matchup is all mid major affair as perennial Missouri Valley power Southern Illinois takes on 2007-08 NCAA Tournament at large member St Mary's. The West Coast Conference Gaels went 25-7 and lost in the first round to Texas. The Gaels return their dynamic trifecta of sophomore guard Patrick Mills and the inside tandem of junior Omar Samhan and senior Diamon Simpson. The trio combined to average nearly 39 points per game and 19 rebounds per game. The Salukis, who despite making the NIT second round, are coming off a disappointing 18-15 season will be in rebuilding mode having graduated eight seniors, including forward standouts Matt Shaw and Randal Falker. However Saluki coach Chris Lowery will have his new recruits ready playing the standard strangehold Saluki defense the team is famous for.
The Wooden Tradition should be a dandy with what I think are three bonafide Top 25 teams in Purdue, Davidson and St Mary's.
But there are more goings on in the world of mid major hoops.
Hofstra, East Tennessee State, Western Michigan and perennial Southern conference power College of Charleston will be playing in the inaugural Charleston Classic from November 14-16. Eight teams will be in this tournament, including NCAA 2007-08 Tournament members Clemson and Temple, along with TCU, and Southern Illinois Edwardsville (not the Salukis of Carbondale - darn!).
Hofstra is coming off a disappointing season after three straight NIT berths, while East Tennesse State is coming of a loss in the finals of the Atlantic Sun championship to almost Duke buster Belmont. Western Michigan is coming off a 20 win season and a loss in the MAC semis to Akron. College of Charleson is coming off their own disappointing season as well. Hofstra seems to have the worst drawing of the mid majors in this tournament as they face a Clemson team that finished third in the ACC, lost to NC in the ACC tournament final and were 24-10 overall. The Tigers, who lost to Villanova in the first round of the NCAA tourney, return four of their six leading scorers from last season's team. But it will be a good test for a Pride team that returns four of its five starters from last season.
Two more 2007-08 NCAA tourney members meet when Gonzaga gets its own annual test when it faces Indiana in the Hartford Hall of Fame Showcase on December 6th in the new Lucas Oil Stadium. Both the Zags (25-8 in 2007-08) and the Hoosiers were in the Raleigh regional bracket that I attended and both were first round losers - Davidson came back to defeat Gonzaga while Indiana was hammered by Arkansas (otherwise known as another Eric Gordon No Show Game). The Zags return basically their entire starting team, lead by senior guard Jeremy Pargo, sophomore sensation forward Austin Daye, senior center Josh Heytfelt and their leading scorer junior Matt Bouldin.
There is a great article on ESPN , by who else Kyle Whelliston about former major conference players who transferred out and are getting a second chance at the mid-major level.
Finally, CAA Insider has the scoop on Georgia State landing a top 20 national recruit. Yes, the doormat of the CAA, the Panthers landed the 18th ranked player in the nation by Scout.com. Check the link above for further details. Looks like Rod Barnes is going to make the Panthers a player in the CAA.
In October, you will see my pre-season Mid Major Hoops Baker's Dozen and here's a hint. Three of the teams are listed in this article, including the #1 ranked team on my preseason list.
Hmm, excuse me while I go make vacation plans for Charleston in November and Indiana in December (Indiana in December..ok, its for good basketball).