March Madness Contest


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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March Madness Bracket


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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.

CBB: Final Four Betting Outlook

The last time this many low seeds made it to the Final Four was 2000, when Michigan State (1 seed) was paired with Florida (5), Wisconsin (8) and North Carolina (8). For students of the game, it was obvious there were no great teams this season. Many of the higher seeds had flaws and most were exposed by opponents who brought a little something extra on the day these teams fell. While people talk about parity, a more concise assessment about the 2009-10 campaign was competitive balance, meaning on any given day, any team could beat another in a one game setting. It sets up what most believe is a wide-open mini tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend. Let's take a look at each teams championship odds according to, and their chances of cutting the nets down on Monday night.

Butler (+350 to win national championship at
Butler (32-4, 16-20 ATS) advances to their first ever Final Four and as luck would have it, they don’t even have to travel to a far away destination. The Bulldogs have the highest winning percentage among the four teams at 88.8 percent, thanks to reeling off 24 (13-11 ATS) straight wins. This season the prize for doing so is playing in downtown Indianapolis, less than eight miles away from the Butler campus. The Bulldogs will be the first team to play in home city since UCLA in Los Angeles in 1971.

In the beginning of the season, Butler was top 10 material, but losses to Minnesota, Clemson, Georgetown and UAB (the first three in NCAA tournament) had people saying they weren’t quick or strong enough to compete at the higher levels. Looking at the for -Opponents average adjusted defensive efficiency- finds the Bulldogs have been in the Top 10 most of 2010 and explains why they have allowed more than 60 points once in last 12 games.

Butler has a star in Gordon Hayward and very good collegiate players like Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack along with Horizon League co-defensive player of the year Ronald Nored. The Bulldogs are 7-3 ATS in last 10 NCAA tourney tilts.
Bulter can win the title at “home” if they continue to play the “Butler” way, which is hard-nosed defense, intelligent on offense and strict use of fundamentals which makes up for athletic shortcomings. Though not a good spread team, they are 11-4 ATS the last 15 times they’ve scored 70 or more points.
Michigan State (+450)

In the words of CBS announcer Verne Lundquist, “Well how do you do?” Michigan State (28-8, 15-20 ATS) keeps being counted out and for the sixth time since 1999 and in back to back years, the Spartans will their way to the Final Four. Tom Izzo’s squad will welcome the week off before playing on Saturday, as their road to Indianapolis has been the most nerve-wracking, winning four games by a total of 13 points, including the “blowout” of Northern Iowa by seven.

Many times we hear about coaches winning games in March and now April in college basketball, however a coach has never made or missed a shot from the sidelines. What makes Tom Izzo so special this time of year is attention to detail. He prepares his players to succeed all the time. A striking contrast between Michigan State and Kentucky in their Elite Eight games was the Spartans were more thoughtful and executed their passes better than the Wildcats, who were too casual. Izzo’s teams are 22-9 ATS as a neutral court underdog or pick.

Michigan State is 19-8 ATS in all neutral court games over the last three seasons and its players have taken it upon themselves to make-up for the loss of top scorer Kalin Lucas. Looking at tape of the determination level of Durrell Summers and Raymar Morgan is striking from a month ago; were it was not unusual for them to disappear on the floor for periods of time; no more for these Spartans in their hunt for a second straight championship game appearance.

The Spartans finish the job they started last season, by out-executing opponents and making shots.

West Virginia (+225)

It’s been 51 years since West Virginia (31-6, 17-19 ATS) has been to a Final Four, led by Jerry West, who would become NBA Hall of Famer and have his likeness be part of NBA logo. The Mountaineers were a team many believed capable of playing in Indianapolis in early April, way back in November.

This is a team that just keeps on working, being average in shooting at 43.1 percent, tenacious on the offensive glass and literally finding ways to win. This tournament more than in the past several years, shows the ability to win four games to reach this juncture is razor thin. A missed shot and a made basket at the other end within 10-20 seconds has ended up the difference or critical point for all these winners.

West Virginia is very much like their coach Bob Huggins, scrappy, tenacious and unrelenting. The Mountaineers look to impose their will on you with smothering defense, getting in your face with switching man-to-man. Huggins also has shown his flexibility in using 1-3-1 zone, something the older players were used to when John Beilein was still in Morgantown. Because of the height and wingspan of many of Huggins’ players, this zone has shutdown opposing teams, nearly every time is use. WVU is 16-2 ATS in a NCAA tournament games since 1997.

Da'Sean Butler is the go to guy on offense and Devin Ebanks has learned his role on this club as the season wore on, being more effective offensively as well as defensively. Kevin Jones and Wellington Smith are excellent role players, each with job to do and Joe Mazzulla has stepped up game having to fill in for Darryl "Truck" Bryant.

The ‘Teers have won 10 in a row (7-3 ATS) and keep finding ways to win, which might be enough to be champs of college basketball if they can shorten scoring droughts.

Duke (+120)

On Selection Sunday, a few wondered if Duke (33-5, 22-14-1 ATS) would be a No. 1 seed, as it turns out the selection committee was accurate in their assessment of the Blue Devils. This is as different a team as coach Mike Krzyzewski has taken to what will be his 11th Final Four. Most of the Durham teams of the past were loaded with high school All-Americans, many with pro potential. This team is more like a team of one of his former players and now assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski, just with more overall ability. “Wojo” was a tough-minded player who made the most of his talent and never quit. This Duke squad is much the same way, in attack mode continually.

This Blue Devils team can still fill the basket from all areas of the offensive zone, but now has the height with Brian Zoubek, Lance Thomas and the Plumlee brothers, to aggressively rebound at both ends of the floor. The Dukies are 20-8 ATS after two straight games with 15 or more offensive rebounds. Duke also plays very good positional defense, holding teams to 40.2 percent shooting and now the guards and wing players can funnel opposing teams towards the lane where tall timber awaits.
Duke wins it all if they continue to play great defense, especially on the perimeter, rebound and have at least two of their three outside shooters, Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler or Nolan Smith hitting at normal or above figures from the outside. A rested Duke squad is a very good squad this season at 17-1 and 11-5-1 ATS with three or more days off.