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March Madness Contest


Southern Arkansas wins DII community-engagement award

Community engagement is a key part of Division IIs strategic position. It emphasizes not only the relationship of the athletics program with the community but also the interaction of the overall institution with the community in which it is located.

In addition to Southern Arkansas, 15 other programs were honored as conference winners. Each conference winner receive $500.

Muleriders in Magnolia is an ongoing community-engagement activity that was established to connect Mulerider athletics back to the community of Magnolia. It became clear to many in the athletics department at Southern Arkansas, including Director of Athletics Steve Browning, that the some of the biggest supporters of Mulerider athletics were in Magnolia and that the relationship needed to be reciprocated.

At any given athletic event on our campus, it is safe to say that a majority of the fans in the stands are members of the community of Magnolia, Browning said. That is why it is so important for us to get out and give back to the community to show our appreciation for their support of Mulerider athletics. We also realize how significant of an impact our athletes, as role models, can make on the community.

A chief goal of the program was not only to get athletes out in the community but to do so in a unified way. Before this program, several teams performed their own community engagement, but Muleriders in Magnolia provided a unified front for the athletics department.

For calendar year 2012, a total of 132 student-athletes participated in community service activities on nine separate occasions through Muleriders in Magnolia.

The athletes from SAU have been a big hit at Magnolia Health and Rehab, said hospital administrator Jeff Harrington. From their visit in the fall, two of the athletes have decided to come back every week and play Bingo with our residents. The Christmas decorations were wonderful as well.

Most of our residents wanted to leave them long after Christmas was over. I cannot express enough gratitude to these young men and women for what they are doing in the community.

In the brief time that Muleriders in Magnolia has been underway, the impact on the community, the Southern Arkansas campus and the student-athletes has been overwhelmingly positive.

Numerous student-athletes have gone into the community multiple times, and Magnolia has begun to reach back to the athletics department with new and exciting opportunities for community-service projects.

The kids love it, said football coach Bill Keopple after a successful program at an elementary school, and so did the teachers and the athletes. Close to the end of the school year the classes take a field trip to Wilkins Stadium on our campus and we have a field day with the kids. It is an awesome thing to see.

For eight years, the Mulerider baseball team also has participated in a Big Brother program, where the teammates are paired with boys in the community. They become big brothers, spending quality time and teaching them fundamentals of the sport.

Its been a great opportunity for everyone, said Browning, who also serves as baseball coach. It benefits the young ones and our guys. The baseball players come to understand how important they are as role models.

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1.Rankings Matter
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4.Margin of Victory
5.Point Spread Victory


Tip-off: Wednesday, 8:00 p.m. EDT

Line: North Carolina -5, Total: 146

No. 8 North Carolina will look to remain with just two conference losses as it heads to the BankUnited Center to take on Miami as road favorites.

Although Zeller (16.0 PPG, 9.6 RPG) has been the main offensive force for the Tar Heels as of late, Barnes (17.5 PPG) is their leading scorer on the season. He is coming off a weak performance against Virginia in which he shot just 4-of-16 from the field, but in the game before that, he torched Duke for 25 points on a bum ankle, 19 of which came in the second half. Henson (14.0 PPG, 10.3 RPG) joins Zeller to form arguably the nation’s best frontcourt as the reigning ACC defensive player of the year. None of this offense would flow without Kendall Marshall (9.6 APG). Although not a dynamic scorer, at 6-foot-4 he is a physical point guard who is second in the country in passing. Look for him to push the ball for the highest-scoring team in the land (83.5 PPG).

North Carolina has beaten Miami nine straight times (6-3 ATS) by an average of 13.0 PPG. When these teams met Jan. 10, the Tar Heels outrebounded the 'Canes 45-29 and won by 17 points despite shooting 2-for-16 from three and having leading scorer Harrison Barnes (17.5 PPG) tally just six points on 2-of-12 FG. Don't count on either of these things happening again. UNC's two big men, Tyler Zeller and John Henson, each had double-doubles versus Miami. Zeller in particular has been difficult to contain lately with three consecutive 20-point games (23.3 PPG). Miami’s frontline looked weak in its most recent game, a 64-59 loss to Florida State, as the team again grabbed just 29 rebounds. C Reggie Johnson scored just four points, and that sort of inconsistent play will not suffice against the mean North Carolina post defense that averages 6.1 BPG, 7th-most in the country. Play on NORTH CAROLINA to bully the ‘Canes around on the inside and win easily on the road.

The ‘Canes peaked three games ago with an impressive road win at Duke and would have really made a name for themselves if they had upset the Seminoles on their home floor, where they fell by five. Reggie Johnson (11.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG) was held to just four points in that game, and he will have to bounce back in order to keep Miami competitive in this one. He has proven he can handle top bigs, however, notching a season-high 27 points in the win over Duke. Kenny Kadji (12.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG) joins him as the more athletic part of the frontcourt, with the ability to stretch defenses with his shooting. In the team’s last three games, he has made a total of six three-pointers. Durand Scott (12.6 PPG) and Malcolm Grant (12.1 PPG) are also top scorers for the ‘Canes who will need strong performances from everybody to keep up with a team as deep as the Tar Heels. Play against these home underdogs.