Monthly Archives: January 2012

BracketBusters – An Early Look Ahead

Long, long ago, ESPN decided to create a new event…feeding off the public’s tremendous interest in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (forever known as March Madness or The Big Dance)…the powers-that-be felt if they were to match some good mid-major colleges against each other, viewer interest would be there…and these teams would get a bit more recognition come Selection Sunday. Well, a good idea has gone bad. If you look at the match-ups, there are just two that will have real interest: St. Mary’s at Murray State and Long Beach State at Creighton. As for many of the others, someone is going to be hurt.

Some teams, like VCU, will not be helped and could be hurt, by playing Northern Iowa. NIU is traditionally a good team and has scored upsets in the Dance…but not this year. A loss to NIU would really hurt VCU, who should make the tournament, but their seeding could be affected.  And there are others…but, that being said, let’s take a brief look at five interesting match-ups…

St. Mary’s (19-2; 10-0 WCC; 22 RPI, 114 SOS) at Murray State (18-0; 9-0 OVC; 35 RPI, 236 SOS):

This is one of the two best games of the bunch. Murray State has a dismal 236 strength of schedule, but is the ONLY unbeaten college in the country. The Gaels are winning the WCC and the Racers are on top in the OVC. This will be their toughest test of the season, as the Gaels are big and good. Both teams have outstanding point guards, and the game could affect seeding for both teams. Since both teams are going to the Big Dance, the only real drama here is to see if Murray State can win.  If the do, they’ll run the table into March.

Long Beach State (14-6; 9-0 Big West; 33 RPI; 69 SOS) at Creighton (20-2; 10-0 MVC; 17 RPI; 105 SOS):

This is the second of the best games scheduled. The 49ers are used to being away from home, so this should not worry them…much. They have already played at Kansas, Louisville, San Diego State, North Carolina, Montana and Pittsburgh. They played in Hawaii at the Diamond Head Classic. They feature star guard Casper Ware. For the Blue Jays, they own the top RPI (17) among the BracketBuster teams. They feature National Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott. This would be a really nice March Madness match-up…West Coast vs. Midwest. Both teams should make the tournament, and a win here will enhance seeding if we are to believe the BracketBusters mean anything.

Wichita State (17-4; 9-2 MVC; 31 RPI, 75 SOS) at Davidson (14-5; 9-1 SoCon; 67 RPI; 144 SOS):

A return to the Carolinas for Shockers head man Gregg Marshall (formerly head coach at Winthrop University, located in Rock Hill, SC, a short drive south of Davidson). He has his team running and pushing, while the Wildcats like to take their time and play at a more deliberate pace. Davidson (67 RPI) needs to win against a Top-40 RPI team…and Wichita is that team. The SoCon is a good mid-major conference, and Davidson has the goods to win it. On the other hand, Wichita probably needs this win more because they are in a more-competitive conference (Missouri Valley), where they are currently second to Creighton. Both teams have good non-conference wins – Wichita beat UNLV at home and Davidson shocked Kansas in Kansas City, a virtual home game for the Jayhawks.

Nevada (16-3; 7-0 WAC; 59 RPI, 171 SOS) vs. Iona (17-5; 9-2 MAAC, 53 RPI; 142 SOS):

Nevada is unbeaten in the WACIona is tied with Loyola (MD) and Manhattan for first place in the MAAC. Neither team is a lock to make the Big Dance if they don’t win their conference tournament, so you see the importance of getting a win in this one. If Nevada can travel thousands of miles and come away with a victory, it will go a long way in the minds of the selection committee. Expect an up-tempo game from both teams. Neither team has an outstanding non-conference win. Guard play will decide this one as both team’s feature outstanding players at that position. For the Wolf Pack, Deonte Burton averages 15.5 PPG and for the Gaels, Scott Machado averages 13.4 PPG, and has been mentioned as being one of the top four point guards in the nation.

UNC Asheville (13-7; 11-1 Big South; 127 RPI; 213 SOS) at Ohio (16-4; 5-2 MAC; 72 RPI, 187 SOS):

Several people I spoke to over the past few days at Asheville were really hoping to travel over to the Charlotte area to play Davidson. It would have brought Bulldog fans into Davidson’s arena and I think could have been a great place to play. Some of the players said they thought the Dogs would be travelling up to Butler to play at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, but that was not to be. Instead, Asheville will travel to Athens, OH to play one of the four-best teams in the MAC, the Ohio Bobcats. This should be a good game if you like excellent guard play. Asheville’s dynamic senior guards, Matt Dickey and J.P. Primm, have been living up to pre-season expectations. Over the past two games, they have traded being high-scorers, with Primm (30 vs. High Point) and Dickey (31 vs. Campbell) both setting career-scoring marks. Ohio features D.J. Cooper, who is averaging 14 points a game. A solid, tough Asheville team…road-tested…and ready for anything…will give Ohio a battle. It would be great for Asheville to avenge a last-second loss to Northeastern in last year’s BracketBuster game…a game that did not help them come tournament-seeding time. Maybe this year will be different.

There are many, many other BracketBuster games, with the majority of them being played on Saturday, Feb. 18. Check your ESPN listings, as they are on the family of stations (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3) and try to see if you can find this year’s dark-horse candidate to make a run in the Big Dance!

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UNC Asheville Moves to 11-1 in Big South Conference

Thursday night, J.P. Primm had a career-high 30 points in UNC Asheville’s 90-70 win over High Point. Not to be outdone, his running-mate at the guard position, Matt Dickey, followed that up with a career-high 31 points and tied a school record with seven steals Saturday evening as the Bulldogs (16-7, 11-1 Big South Conference) defeated a determined Campbell team, 95-84.

Matt Dickey's career-high 31 points and seven steals helped lead Asheville to a big win over Campbell

Another star of the night, Jeremy Atkinson, playing his first season with Asheville, had a double-double, adding 20 points and a career-high 12 assists to go along with his five assists and an 11-of-12 night on the free throw line. Primm scored 23 points against the Camels, as Asheville wowed the crowd of 2,104 at Kimmel Arena.

The game was very physical with 52 fouls called by the officials.  Like the earlier game these teams played at Campbell (an 89-82 win by Asheville on Jan. 12), Atkinson said his team kept its cool and took control of the game in the second half.  “We talked about being the smarter team, not talking trash and letting our game do the talking,” the transfer from Louisburg College said.

“We beat a very good Campbell team today,” Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach stated after the game. “I thought our defense was much better in the second half and our guys really executed well on offense in the second half.

“We’re fortunate to have two guys like Matt Dickey and J.P. Primm that can score in a lot of different ways,” he added. “Those guys did a great job scoring, drawing fouls and on defense.

“I can’t say enough about Jeremy Atkinson’s performance. He was a real warrior inside and gave us some great play there.”

Jeremy Atkinson (left) and J.P. Primm fight for a rebound during the Campbell game

“The dirty work is my job,” Atkinson said. “Guard the other team’s big guy, take charges, whatever it takes. Call me a blue-collar guy, a junkyard dog, whatever, as long as we keep winning.”

Coach Biedenbach said Atkinson, a 6-4 junior from Elm City, has been a great addition to the team. “He gets in there and battles and competes and grabs rebounds, and, he’s a great kid.”

The Bulldogs trailed 43-42 at the half, as the Camels were red-hot from the three-point line, going 7-of-12 from beyond the arc in the first half.

Asheville took charge early in the second half. With the game tied at 49, the Dogs went on a 19-2 run over a five-minute stretch to effectively put the game away. The Blue and White led by as many as 21 points before settling for the 11-point win.

“Asheville is a tougher and more physical team than we are, and that was the difference in the game,” Campbell coach Robbie Laing said.

The game featured some outstanding free throw shooting by Asheville, as they went 33-of-36 from the line. Dickey was 13-of-15 from the charity stripe.

The Bulldogs defense was relentless, forcing 19 Campbell turnovers and getting 10 steals. The Camels did win one statistical battle, taking a 37-28 edge in rebounding.

Asheville travels to VMI Thursday night and to Liberty on Saturday afternoon. In a quirk of the Big South schedule, the Bulldogs have just one home game (Feb. 11 against Radford) in the next 25 days.

UNC Asheville Crushes High Point; Continues Big South Dominance

Behind J.P. Primm’s career-high 30 points, the UNC Asheville Bulldogs (15-7, 10-1 Big South Conference) won in impressive style Thursday night at Kimmel Arena, beating High Point University, 90-70. The win added to Asheville’s consistent record under Coach Eddie Biedenbach. It marked the fifth straight season the Bulldogs have won at least 15 games overall and at least 10 conference games.

Senior guard J.P. Primm scored a career-high 30 points in UNC Asheville's 90-70 win over High Point University at Kimmel Arena

Primm also became Asheville’s all-time leader in steals early in the game. He had five of the eight steals in the contest, and now has 228 in his career. The senior guard shot very well – going 8-of-15 from the field, 5-of-10 from the three-point line and was a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line.

“I’m really proud of our guys for the defense we played tonight,” Coach Biedenbach said. “To hold a great scorer like Nick Barbour to 11 points is a testament to how well we played on defense. We were fortunate that he missed some shots that he normally makes but overall we did a good job.

“We got off to a bit of a slow start, but we picked it up late in the first half and especially in the second half,” he added. “The ball bounced our way a few times, and they helped us with a lot of missed free throws (HPU was 16-of-33).”

Junior Jaron Lane (5) scored 19 points in UNC Asheville's 90-70 win over High Point on Thursday night

Junior Jaron Lane added 19 points, senior Matt Dickey had a quiet 14 points, senior Quinard Jackson scored 12 points and senior Chris Stephenson added 10.

High Point (7-14, 3-8) was led by Xavier Martin’s 14 points, Shay Shine and Branimir Mukulic both added 13 points while the Panthers’ leading scorer Nick Barbour was held to just 11.

It took nearly 17 minutes for Asheville to grab its first lead in the game as High Point came out very aggressively. The Panthers held a 24-17 rebounding edge in the first half, but they were undone by poor shooting (13-of-33 from the field) and just 2-of-7 from the foul line.

In the second half, the Bulldogs pulled away and built a 13-point lead at the 12:28 mark, leading 52-39.

High Point coach Scott Cherry was whistled for a technical foul, followed by another “T” on Martin. Primm made all four free throws pushing Asheville’s lead to 82-66. They put the game away with a three-point play by Dickey off an assist from Primm moving the Dogs’ lead to 85-66.

“We came out and played better tonight,” said coach Cherry. “The guys have been in the gym working and getting extra shots this week. We wanted to keep them off the glass and we did outrebound them. Asheville came out and made some plays in the second half – they shot 60 percent. That was a good team we played tonight. If we made more free throws we could have been in it at the end. We just need to get back to work and keep improving.”

The conference-leading Bulldogs have played some outstanding basketball over the past two weeks. Road wins at Campbell and at High Point was followed up by a very emotional home victory over Coastal Carolina (Jan. 17). The Dogs did lose their first conference game of the season two nights later, as Charleston Southern came into Kimmel Arena and shot lights-out and left with a huge upset win. To see the Blue and White rebound so well in Thursday night’s win over High Point is a testament to the players and coaching staff. Falling behind early, which has been a trademark of this team, does not concern the players. Starters stay out a little longer than in the past, and when the subs come in, their energy gets the team back on track.

The next game, Saturday afternoon at Kimmel Arena (4:30 p.m. tipoff), features the Campbell Camels making their return to Asheville as a league opponent. The Bulldogs beat Campbell, a big, physical team, at Bouies Creek, NC, earlier this month, and, the Camels are also coming off an upset loss Thursday night at Gardner-Webb, 78-70, so you know they will not be in a good mood coming into the gleaming new arena in Asheville. The game is the second half of a doubleheader, with the UNC Asheville women facing Gardner-Webb in the early game.

UNC Asheville Basketball: Huge Road Win Keeps Conference Record Perfect

UNC Asheville‘s basketball team took to the road Thursday night and went into hostile territory, fell behind by 17 points in the first half, but ended up winning by 7 over a very tough Campbell University Camels squad. Just another game for the Big South Conference leading Bulldogs (11-6, 6-0 BSC) on their road to the NCAA Tournament.

Jeremy Atkinson (15) enjoyed scoring 22 points in front of family and friends in Asheville's 89-82 win at Campbell

The Dogs were led by Jeremy Atkinson’s 22 points, and he was cheered on by most of his family and friends from Elm City, NC, many of whom were seeing “Big Country” play (as a Bulldog) for the first time.

Matt Dickey just missed a triple-double, scoring 19 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and handing out eight assists. He scored his 1,500th career point in the game, moving him into sixth place on the school’s career list with 1,504 points. J.P. Primm also had a big game, adding 18 points, and Jaron Lane scored 13.

Atkinson came alive in the second half, scoring 19 of his 22 points as Asheville outscored Campbell 57-38 in the second half to bring their conference record to a perfect 4-0 on the road and 6-0 overall. This was the Bulldogs’ fifth straight win.

The loss was Campbell’s (10-8, 4-2 BSC) first home defeat of the year. The crowd of 3,035 at Gore Arena was the third largest in school history, and they were very vocal.

“This is a real gutty win for us tonight,” Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach stated after the win. “Campbell is a very good basketball team and to fall behind by 17 and have the resolve to come back really says a lot about our guys. I am so proud of them right now for finding a way to beat a team like Campbell on the road.”

The Bulldogs were able to whittle the 17-point deficit down to 12 at halftime and trailed 44-32 going into the break. They started fast in the second half, hitting three treys to bring them closer to the Camels. The Dogs took their first lead of the game, 66-65, on Atkinson’s three-point play with 8:26 remaining.

Asheville took the lead for good at the 6:11 mark when Chris Stephenson scored on a lay-up off a feed from Dickey to make it 69-67. They held the lead, but Campbell kept it close, coming to within two points twice before Dickey hit a shot from beyond the arc at the 1:40 mark to give Asheville an 84-79 lead.

The Bulldogs sealed the game with 5-of-6 free throws over the final minute.

Despite giving Campbell a considerable height advantage, Asheville ended up with a 41-38 advantage on the boards. Each team grabbed 19 offensive rebounds.

Asheville travels to Big South Conference rival High Point at 7:00 p.m. Saturday night before coming home to host Coastal Carolina next Tuesday in what should be a very interesting home game.

Alabama Demoralizes LSU; Wins BCS Title With Shutout

If you had Alabama winning the BCS National Championship game Monday night, I’m pretty sure you did not have them winning so decisively.  Nor did you really think the Tide’s outstanding running back Trent Richardson would gain more yards (96) than the entire LSU offense (92).

Alabama's Trent Richardson scored the only touchdown in two games played between Bama and LSU this year...and it was with just a few minutes remaining in Monday night's game.

So, there you have it.  Why LSU coach Les Miles stuck with Jordan Jefferson for the entire game will forever remain a mystery.  He at least owed Jarrett Lee a shot, because without Lee, LSU would never have been in New Orleans last night.  But, no…we got to see Jefferson for four quarters.  He had a miserable game…completing 11 passes for 53 (gasp!) yards.  That’s what the top defensive unit in college football will do to you.

They not only held the LSU offense (one that had been scoring around 40 points a game) to nothing…in fact, they posted the first shut-out in BCS history…they demoralized the Tigers team in its entirety.

I saw absolutely no life on the bench.  Your leader (your quarterback) showed no emotion…he didn’t try to rally his team.  He was as dead as could be, and his play showed it.  This really surprised me as Les Miles has won national championships before.  He has seen this team come back in second halves before – heck, they were losing to Georgia 10-0 at halftime before putting 35 unanswered points up in the second half of the SEC Championship game.  But, as everyone knows, this wasn’t the Dawgs defense out there.

Alabama's defense dominated, demoralized and plain beat-up LSU's offense. They posted the first shutout in BCS history winning the National Championship Monday night in New Orleans.

The Tide’s defense was unrelenting.  It was a massacre.  It was demoralizing.  It was devastating.  It was what it had been all year…the best defense possibly in college football history.  Just how dominating was this defense?  Consider this: Alabama is the first team in 25 years to finish No. 1 nationally in all four statistical defense categories (total, rushing, passing and scoring defense).  It finished the season having allowed just 8.2 points per game.  The Tide allowed as many touchdowns – 10 – in 13 games as ACC champion Clemson allowed in one night in the Orange Bowl.

But, let’s give credit where credit is due…LSU was 13-0 in the regular season.  The Tigers beat eight ranked teams, including Alabama at Tuscaloosa.  Coach Miles earned National Coach of the Year honors and he handled a potentially divisive quarterback rotation between Jefferson and fellow senior Lee.  Why, however, Lee not get a shot when clearly, Jefferson was totally ineffective Monday night.

“We did consider Jarrett Lee,” said coach Miles.  “But we felt like with the pass rush that we were getting that we needed a guy that could move the seat and not sustain that pass rush.”

This game just added more discussion to change the BCS next time the television contract is up.  My guess is they will finally decide to go to a Plus-One system where the top four teams would meet in two bowl games (1 vs. 4 and 2 vs.3) with the winner meeting for the title.  No system is perfect, but that system would have given us Alabama vs. Oregon and LSU vs. Oklahoma State.  That would have been fun to watch.  I think most everyone in the country would have wanted this system to be in place…unless you were an Arkansas Razorback fan, player or administrator.  They were the No. 5 team in the country…they also were my dark horse team this year to get to the BCS title game.  They were close…but they did lose to both Alabama and Arkansas, so, they really weren’t that close.

Looking ahead to 2012, look for the Pac-12 to be challenging for a top spot.  USC will again be eligible and with quarterback Matt Barkley returning, they will battle Oregon for a potential spot in next year’s game.  And, it will be against an SEC team.  Not sure which one, but the conference just has to be in it, right?

UNC Asheville Basketball: Bulldogs Extinguish Flames in Record-Setting Win

UNC Asheville (10-6, 5-0 BSC) is finding that playing in their new arena is as as much fun as it is for the fans. Saturday evening, the Bulldogs crushed Big South Conference foe Liberty, 98-75, and senior J.P. Primm continued to set records.

J.P. Primm (3) led Asheville to a 98-75 victory over Liberty Saturday evening and became the first player in Big South Conference history to record 500 assists, 400 rebounds and 200 steals

He became the first player in league history to record 500 assists, 400 rebounds and 200 steals. “It’s an honor to be in the record book, ” Primm said. “I just try to do the dirty work and be someone my teammates want to play with. I’m a senior, a leader and the point guard, so my job is to get everyone involved.”

He did that, and more, against the Flames. Asheville had six players in double figures and led by double digits the entire second half. The Bulldogs shot 77 percent in the second half (20-of-26), 62 percent for the game and made 15-of-29 from beyond the arc in winning their fourth straight game. The 15 treys is the second highest made by an Asheville team in school history.

Primm became the Bulldogs’ all-time leader in assists (now at 534) in a win against Radford on Monday. In that same game, coach Eddie Biedenbach won his 224th game as Asheville’s coach, passing Bob Hartman (223-209 from 1954-79) as the school’s career leader in victories.

Primm ranks second in career steals (211), just 12 behind the leader, Andre Smith, and is just 11 games away from passing Bamford Jones’ school record for games played (122).

“We played very well offensively today. It was nice to see J.P. Primm shoot the ball so well, ” said coach Biedenbach. “It’s nice to win at home as our fans have done a great job supporting us in our new arena.”

Jaron Lane (5) returned to the lineup Saturday evening and scored 15 points

Jaron Lane returned to play after missing five games and had 15 points. Chris Stephenson, Jeremy Atkinson and Keith Hornsby each added 12 points. Matt Dickey scored 11 points and had four assists in the romp.

The game was never in question, as Asheville had a 13 point lead in the first half, and led by 10 at the half. The Blue and White led by as many as 29 points in the second half before settling for the 23-point victory.

Liberty was selected to finish second in the Big South Conference behind the Bulldogs, but they have gotten off to a tough start. Coach Biedenbach said they are a much better team than their record shows, as they have played the top five teams already, and they will be a factor in the conference. Other than Liberty, Asheville has enjoyed warming up for the league’s tougher teams as they have now defeated four of the weaker teams plus Liberty.

Asheville has two tough road games coming up this week as they play at conference newcomer Campbell on Thursday night and at High Point on Saturday night. Asheville is 3-0 in league road games this season.

UNC Asheville Basketball: Bulldogs’ Senior Leadership Shuts Down Keydets

UNC Asheville, playing its first Big South Conference game in Kimmel Arena, used senior leadership and poise to beat VMI, 94-85 in a very exciting game.

Matt Dickey's 23 points helped Asheville defeat VMI Thursday night

Asheville (9-6, 4-0 BSC) lead from the tip and never relinquished the lead as Matt Dickey, who scored a game-high 23 points and two other seniors kept the Keydets in a hole all night.

Senior J.P. Primm had 21 points and was a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line

J.P. Primm scored 21 points and added seven assists, and was a perfect 10-of-10 from the line. Chris Stephenson added 17 points, six assists and had four steals for the Bulldogs. Totals for the three seniors: 61 points and 16 assists.

Trent Meyer added 10 points coming off the bench Thursday night

Jeremy Atkinson added 16 points and Trent Meyer scored 10 off the bench to complete a balanced attack for the Bulldogs.

Chris Stephenson has averaged 20 points per game over the last four UNC Asheville games, and added 16 Thursday night against VMI

“We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for VMI, but we knew what kind of game they were going to play,” said Stephenson, who is averaging more than 20 points per game over his last four outings.

“It’s always going to be a track meet with them, but we knew if we could limit their 3-pointers and get some rebounds, we could get down the court and shoot a lot of layups.”

VMI was led by Stan Okoye’s 23 points and 11 rebounds.

Eddie Biedenbach has now won 225 games as Asheville's head coach...the most in the school's history

“We got good games from a lot of guys, ” said Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach. “We had good energy except for a couple of times. We didn’t rebound well (Keydets had a 37-32 edge) but we went with a smaller lineup to match up with them.

“We played pretty well on the offensive end. I liked the fact that we had a lot of contributions from everyone who played. VMI is a tough team to defend but overall, we played well and picked up an important win in conference play.”

Asheville shot the ball well all night long, shooting .485 (32-of-66) from the field, a season-high .526 (10-of-19) from beyond the arc and .833 (20-of-24) from the charity stripe. They committed only nine turnovers, which is much less than their season average.

Going back to last season, the Bulldogs have won 10 consecutive games against Big South foes and has now won five straight games in its new arena.

The Blue and White will host Liberty on Saturday afternoon at Kimmel Arena.

Sugar Bowl Preview – Michigan vs. Virginia Tech

Hello, Friends! I don’t think we can top yesterday’s overtime games for excitement, but the Sugar Bowl should be very interesting to watch…even though neither team deserves to be in New Orleans.

VA TECH has a lot to prove.  After their beat-down by Clemson in the ACC championship game, no one had them going to a BCS bowl.  Certainly there are those people out there who believe the Gator Bowl would be the best they could get…but, here we are.

MICHIGAN has featured a stingy defense all year.  They have a huge front four and allowed 30-plus points only to Notre Dame and Ohio State and more than 400 yards only to Notre Dame and Northwestern.

Let’s take a look at the offense for both teams.  Michigan is more than quarterback Denard Robinson, although he not only passed for 2056 yards, but ran for 1,163 (best on the team).  He was responsible for 34 touchdowns also.  Michigan tailback, Fitz Toussaint, has rushed for 1,011 yards and averages 5.8 yards per carry.  Tech counters with QB Logan Thomas and friends.  Thomas passed for 2,799 yards, and was responsible for 29 TD’s.  Tech’s leading rusher, David Wilson, rushed for 1,627 yards on 266 carries for a 6.1 average.

David Molk is the nation's top center

Michigan has the nation’s top center, David Molk…so maybe a slight edge…ever so slight…to the Wolverines.

Michigan beat Notre Dame and Nebraska and ended a seven-year losing streak against Ohio State.  The lost road games to quality opponents, Iowa and Michigan State.

Va. Tech  beat Miami, Wake Forest, Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech (quality win), North Carolina and Virginia…but lost twice to Clemson (once at home and once on a neutral site in Charlotte).  They did not play against a murderers row slate of opponents.

Maybe Michigan (10-2) is simply better than Tech (11-2).  I think Tech is really hurting from their loss to Clemson in the ACC title game and want to come out to prove to every naysayer out there that they belong in the Sugar Bowl.  They HAVE to be tired of hearing that talk.

Ohio State showed how to score against the Wolverines.  If Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller can pass for 235 yards and run for 100 against Michigan, Thomas will have the opportunity to do the same.

Teamrankings.com projects Michigan to win 25-22 while ESPN’s accuscore says Va. Tech 29-27.

In November, I picked Tech to beat Virginia…and they did.

In December, I picked the Hokies to beat Clemson…and they didn’t.

In January, I am picking Virginia Tech +3…I think these points will come in handy tonight.

Enjoy the Sugar Bowl tonight!

UNC Asheville Basketball: Dogs Move to 3-0 in Conference Play

Senior Chris Stephenson stepped up, and in a big way, scoring a career-high 33 points to lead UNC Asheville to a 66-56 Big South Conference win over Radford Monday night at Dedmon Center in Radford, VA.

Chris Stephenson had a monster night, scoring a career-high 33 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the Bulldogs' victory over Radford

Asheville (8-6, 3-0 BSC) outscored the Highlanders 12-2 in the final four minutes to take the victory. All of the Bulldogs league wins have come on the road.

The victory was head coach Eddie Biedenbach’s 224th win at Asheville. He moved past Bob Hartman as the school’s all-time leader in victories.

Stephenson was a one-man wrecking crew for Asheville. He also had a double-double with 10 rebounds. He went 12-of-19 from the field and 8-of-9 from the charity stripe and was the lone Bulldog in double figures.

“Chris Stephenson was tremendous tonight,” said  coach  Biedenbach.  “We didn’t play well except in spurts. But when the game was on the line, we got the job done.”

On this historic night, Asheville senior J.P. Primm dished out three assists to pass K.J. Garland and become the school’s all-time leader with 521.

Asheville head coach Eddie Biedenbach became the Bulldogs' winningest coach Monday night. He now has won 224 games at Asheville. He passed Bob Hartman with the victory at Radford.

Asheville’s two leading scorers, Matt Dickey (six points) and Primm (six points, 8 rebounds and four steals) had a tough night, but, as coach Biedenbach stated, “I didn’t like the way we started the game as we came out flat and Radford took it to us. We did a nice job over the next few minutes as we went on an 18-2 run but then we didn’t sustain it for as long as we should have.”

With the game tied at 54-54, Asheville ended a four-minute scoreless drought with a lay-up from Jeremy Atkinson to give the Bulldogs the lead for good at 56-54. Stephenson then hit two free throws and scored on a lay-up on Asheville’s next two possessions to build the lead to 60-54.

The Dogs have won nine of their last 12 BSC road games dating back to last season. This win evened the all-time series at 30-30.

Their next game will be Thursday night, home at Kimmel Arena when they host VMI.

Pick Six: Today’s NCAA Bowl Game Predictions

Friends, be warned! I have been moosed a couple of times on my bowl picks…It has always been my opinion that bowl games are hard to pick…some of you have done very, very well…and for that I send out my congratulations! Teams have not played in several weeks, so I always get the feeling if these games were played a week after the season ended, there would be different results.

That being said, there are six nice games today…so:

Houston's record-setting quarterback, Case Keenum, should light it up again!

TICKET CITY BOWL: Houston vs. Penn State – PSU has quarterback issues since I hear McGloin will not be playing. Not in love with Houston, but I think Case Keenum will be throwing all over the field.   HOUSTON -7

 

MSU's Keshawn Martin could be a real weapon today

OUTBACK BOWL: Michigan State vs. Georgia – Should be a great match-up. Georgia went on a good run to win the SEC East, but, of course, was blown up by LSU in Atlanta for the title. I have liked MSU all season long, and I think getting 3 points is nice.   MICHIGAN STATE +3
CAPITOL ONE BOWL: Nebraska vs. South Carolina – This is one of those games I wish had been played a week after the regular season. Nebraska has shown they can play anyone and USC, well, to me this is a very tough game to pick. I don’t trust either team, but I will take the points in this one as well.   NEBRASKA +3
GATOR BOWL: Florida vs. Ohio State
– Both teams were up and down this season, but were good enough to get a “New Year’s Day” bowl invitation. I have to go with the SEC in this one because I went Big 10 in the last two games. I think Florida will take this one…in a close game.   FLORIDA -2

LaMichael James is Oregon's most dynamic player and a key to tonight's game

ROSE BOWL: Wisconsin vs. Oregon – In “The Grandaddy of Them All”, it’s brawn vs. speed. Oregon will have those Darth Vaderish uniforms on today, but they will need everything they’ve got to beas the Badgers. Wisconsin has had my eye since August…I really like they way they played this year (at home) and Russell Wilson and friends had a great season. Everytime I watched Oregon I said, “those guys look small.” They do. Wisconsin is massive. If Oregon can get outside, the will win and win big. If not, Wisconsin will wear them down in the fourth quarter and win. So, who do I like here…OREGON -5

FIESTA BOWL: Stanford vs. Oklahoma State – This should be a dandy. Andrew Luck playing in his last college game will be able to exploit OSU’s porous defense. Brandon Weeden will find Stanford’s defense to be better than they expect. Every time I pick against OSU, they win…and win big. I like both teams here but since I have to pick one
I will go with…OKLAHOMA STATE +4