The Daily 1-3-1 (February 20th)

1  Thought from the Games Last Night

Syracuse lost to WHO!?

Syracuse had been playing with fire all season when it came to remaining undefeated – last night, it finally caught up with them. Seriously though, raise your hand if you had Boston College as the team that would go into the Carrier Dome and hand the Orange their first loss of the season. Looks like nobody raised their hand; if you did, you’re a rapscallion and a liar… or a Boston College alum. This loss leaves Gregg Marshall’s Wichita State squad as the only remaining undefeated team in Men’s D1 college hoops.

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3  Games to Watch Tonight

i. (5) Duke @ North Carolina, ESPN – 9 PM
Let’s try this again! With all do respect to Louisville/Kentucky, Michigan/Michigan State, Georgetown/Syracuse, and Cincinnati/Xavier, this is the best rivalry in college basketball. It is a mere 9 miles from Durham to Chapel Hill, and there is no love lost when the two Tobacco Road goliaths tango on the basketball court. This year’s edition promises to be filled with plenty of excitement and hoopla, as freshman phenom Jabari Parker has really settled into his role in the past few games. North Carolina also seems to have settled into their fast-paced style of play, having won 7 straight games. 

ii. (25) Gonzaga @ BYU, ESPN2 – 11 PM
For all the night owls and people who live on the West coast, this game is one to watch in terms of shuffling of seeding (and entry into) the NCAA tournament. BYU has been flirting with earning an at-large birth into the tournament field, but so far they’ve just been a tease. Gonzaga has an impressive 23-4 record, albeit a bit misleading – their three tough non-conference games (Dayton, Kansas State, and Memphis) all resulted in losses.

iii. Penn State @ Nebraska, ESPNU – 7 PM
Many people would say I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel when I list this game as one you might want to watch. Those people have a valid point, but have you seen my other options for tonight? Slim pickings. Nonetheless, Nebraska is at least in the conversation as a tournament bubble team after their win in East Lansing this weekend. If they can manage to finish above .500 in the topsy-turvy Big 10, it’s going to be hard to leave them out of the field.

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1  Bold Prediction for Tonight’s Slate

BYU plays their way back into the thick of the bubble discussion with a close home win over Mark Few and Co.

The Marriott Center has proven to be unfriendly confines for visiting West Coast Conference opponents, who are winless against the Cougars when playing in Provo. Something deep down in my gut tells me Tyler Haws is going to find a way to will this team to a narrow victory – he might even drop 30 on the Bulldogs along the way.

Billins and Motte Advance to the Frozen Four

It’s always nice to see local kids making big impacts. In this case, we have two great hockey players from this area in the Frozen Four of college hockey. Both Chad Billins and CJ Motte play for Ferris State University and will be playing in the Frozen Four against Union College next Thursday. Ferris State at one point was ranked #1 in the country and have been playing very good hockey.

The (25-11-5) Ferris State Bulldogs have been led this year by their captain and Marysville, Michigan native Chad Billins. He has had an incredible year, and as a defenseman ended up 3rd on the team in points with 29 points. I was fortunate enough to play two and a half years with Chad, and even though we were only 14 years old, you could see how good Chad was. He was a great teammate on and off the ice. To this day I tell people that he is the smartest hockey player I have had the pleasure of playing with. Chad has played with a lot of great teams in the state of Michigan. He quickly went from a state champion Blue Water Wild team to Detroit Little Caesars AAA hockey club.  The very next year moved to Alpena in the NAHL and another year later to Waterloo in the USHL. It happened so fast for Chad and within a few years saw himself in a Ferris State  uniform where he has thrived. He still has at least 1 and at the most 2 games left with Ferris depending on if they win their semifinal matchup with Union College, but Chad’s hockey days will not end there. Right after the season is over NHL teams can sign seniors playing college hockey. Without a doubt the future is looking bright for Chad and should be signed and end up in either the NHL or the AHL after the season is over.

CJ Motte has to be happy with his decision to go to Ferris State University. His first year with the team and he is already on the verge of playing for a national championship. He has played outstanding in the 12 games he has started and posted a 1.98 Goals Against Average and .925 save percentage during the regular season. CJ is also a local hockey player, and grew up in the city of St.Clair, Michigan. CJ also played AAA hockey for Honeybaked. Although it was just after Chad had left Waterloo for Ferris, CJ Motte also played for Waterloo last year. CJ is not the only one in the family with hockey skill either. He has a younger brother who currently plays for the US Under 17 NTDP. He played for Honeybaked AAA last year and has already verbally committed to the University of Michigan. This means we could potentially see a matchup of brothers in a few years if their 2 teams meet. The futures of all 3 local hockey players are very promising and it’s exciting to see these great people on and off the ice succeed as they are.

If you’re interested in watching CJ and Chad play, tune in to ESPNU at 4:30 PM on Thursday April 5th. They will be taking on Union College in the semifinal. The final will be played on Saturday April 7th at 7:00 PM and can be found on ESPN2. So tune in, and support these local athletes as they strive to achieve greatness in the form of a national championship.
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Author: Anthony Walker