USC Upstate (21-12) at Old Dominion (21-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, March 18, 3:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Norfolk Scope (10,253) -- Norfolk, Virginia. Television: None. CIT Record: USC Upstate 1-0, ODU 6-0. Series Record: First- ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The USC Upstate Spartans hope to continue their amazing run in their first-ever season as a fully-certified Division I team when they travel to Norfolk, Virginia to take on the Old Dominion Monarchs in the second round of the 2012 CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
USC Upstate made easy work of Kent State in the first round of the CIT, 73-58, marking its first victory in the month of March since 2006. At 21-12, the Spartans have surpassed their win total from the last three seasons combined, and they have experienced a NCAA-best 16-game improvement over the 2010-11 campaign when they went a lowly 5-25.
With its 68-66 win over Coastal Carolina in the first round, Old Dominion remains unbeaten in six CIT games after winning the inaugural championship in 2009. The Monarchs are now 21-13 overall, and they have won five of their last seven games.
ODU and USC Upstate have never previously met on the hardwood.
USC Upstate got out to a commanding 18-point, first-half lead in its first- round matchup and never looked back. Though it shot a modest 42.9 percent from the field, it went 14-of-19 from the free-throw line and forced Kent State into more turnovers (25) than field goals made (22). Four Spartans scored in double figures in the win, led by their catalyst Torrey Craig with 17 points. Craig had been by far Upstate's most productive player, leading the team in scoring (16.8 ppg), rebounding (7.9 rpg) and three-pointers per game (2.5) while also adding 1.4 spg and 1.1 bpg. Craig was named one of the 25 finalists for the Lou Henson Award, given annually to the nation's top Mid-Major player. He was the only Atlantic Sun player to make the cut. Besides Craig, the Spartans get solid contributions from Ty Greene (11.3 ppg) and Ricardo Glenn (9.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg).
ODU's first round win over Coastal Carolina was far from pretty, as the team shot just 39.4 percent from the field and 7-of-14 from the free-throw line, but it did manage to drain nine three-pointers and win the rebounding battle 40-32 to hold on for the two-point victory. Richard Ross came off the bench to lead the Monarchs with 19 points on 8-of-9 accuracy from the floor, a vast improvement from his 4.4 ppg average for the year. ODU had a fairly pedestrian offense this season, scoring 65.5 ppg, but is able to make up for it with great defense and rebounding, allowing just 61.6 ppg and ranking seventh nationally with 40.1 rpg. Kent Bazemore paces the club's scoring attack with 15.3 ppg, while also leading the way in assists with 3.1 per game. Chris Cooper is a force to be reckoned with in the paint, tallying 10.6 ppg and 10.2 rpg, and he has recorded 17 double-doubles this season.
USC Upstate has been a Cinderella story all year long, and it shouldn't surprise anyone if it goes into Norfolk and knocks off ODU. But the Monarchs' physical brand of basketball should be enough to ultimately outlast the Spartans.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Old Dominion 63, USC Upstate 57
03/18 11:06:29 ET