I love tournament basketball, and I’m not just talking about the NCAAs or conference tournaments. I love it during the season, and the way basketball has evolved, this is the time of year for four-, six-, and eight-team tournaments.
There’s one right here in Boston, as Boston University hosts the Steve Wright Classic in Case Gym (“The Roof”). This is a four-team affair over four days with BU, Northeastern, Maine and LIU Brooklyn.
Northeastern looks much better than preseason projections, and the Huskies have already beaten BU. That game was at Matthews Arena, and we get an almost immediate rematch Friday. I’m predicting no team goes 3-0.
. . .
The playing of the national anthem before sports events has become a news story. How each player reacts is duly noted, and sometimes controversy has followed. There seems to be something new every day.
But there was a surprising and good twist this week when the Kent State basketball team figured out a way to make a point about problems and injustice in the United States and be respectful at the same time.
The players went into the stands to invite selected fans to stand with them on the court during the anthem. All kinds of people. The result was poignant and emotional.
Kent State coach Rob Senderoff said the players approached the coaching staff with the idea.
‘‘It takes courage for our players to make a statement like this,” said Senderoff, “and I believe it is a representation of the unity in our campus community.”
Check it out:
Speaking of controversy and video, good old Barry Hinson of Southern Illinois is at it again. There’s a really funny video of Hinson ripping his team in 2013. Many people were outraged, but it was great to see a coach speaking the truth.
This week, after losing at Arkansas, 90-65, Hinson got tough with Arkansas fans. Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville used to be one of the most difficult places to play, but the fans there seem to have lost interest. In fact, they’re paying for tickets and not showing up. The box score listed attendance as 13,308 but estimated actual attendance at 4,270.
Here’s what Hinson said after the game:
And here is his 2013 rant:
We need more truth-seekers like Hinson, unafraid to speak their mind.
■ Games I’d like to see this weekend:
Southern Cal at Texas A&M: OK, it would be a better football game, but I respect an unexpected intersectional matchup.
Monmouth at Syracuse: This could be a grudge match, because you could find a lot of people who felt that Monmouth should have been included in last season’s NCAA field and Syracuse should have been excluded. Monmouth, which just lost a tough game in overtime at South Carolina, returns its entire team. Syracuse is counting on some graduate transfers. This will be close, but I think the Orange will prevail.
St. John’s at Minnesota: Both teams are undefeated and looking to move up in their conferences.
New Mexico State at New Mexico: Heated rivalry, but New Mexico is the much better team.
Saint Mary’s at Dayton: Two teams that are Final Four contenders if you subscribe to the theory that an outlier will advance there. At the least, both are serious contenders for conference titles.
Cincinnati vs. Rhode Island at Mohegan Sun: The first test for the nationally ranked Rams.
Yale at Virginia: The Bulldogs ran Washington out of its own gym. That won’t happen here, but I’m interested to see how tough they are.
Stony Brook at Boston College: Two in a row for the Eagles, I believe.
New Hampshire at West Virginia: UNH won at Temple, so . . . OK, the Wildcats can’t win here unless they’re tons better than I thought they were.
Long Beach State at UCLA: The Beach continues its wacky tour of tough road games, and the Bruins had better be ready. The 49ers have already played at Wichita, North Carolina, and Louisville.