College Basketball Heats up for March Madness

Written by Jackson Williams

With March Madness on the horizon, college basketball teams are in the heat of conference play; every win and loss matters at this point. Qualifying for the NCAA tournament is tough when considering subjective factors such as quality of wins, bad losses and strength of schedule. The state of Indiana’s college basketball teams are improving their standing with the selection committee day-by-day.

Indiana and Purdue are two contenders to win the Big Ten conference. Indiana is currently sitting at  8-1 and a 18-4 overall record, though their conference schedule is about to get tough. Purdue is sitting at 7-3 in the Big Ten and 19-4 overall, and after playing the top teams in the Big Ten they are predicted to dominate the bottom of the conference.

Because of the close proximity of several major universities, students often have the opportunity to take in these games in person, not just watch them on TV. For junior Jacob Sanders, visits to Bloomington only happen a couple times a year. Although he doesn’t go often, his trips to Indiana University games are always memorable.

“With 17,456 seats sold out in Assembly Hall every night at Indiana University, there is no college basketball experience like it,” Sanders said.  “The students are really into the game. Being down by the floor really enhances your experience, and you get to see how huge the players are.”

Northwest of Bloomington lies Mackey Arena, home of the Purdue Boilermakers. Freshman Tristan Bufkin attends quite a few games at Purdue each season.

“Mackey is fun in the sense that when you sit close to the coaches and you can hear how intense they are,” Bufkin said.  “Hearing them talking and getting so into the game makes my experience better. The crowd is also a huge factor when you go to a game there. The louder the crowd, the more fun the game is.”

However, it’s not just the Big 10 schools that are making a run at the NCAA tournament.

Butler started out the year as a ranked team and fell from No. 18 to the ranks of the unranked after starting Big EAst play 3-6, with a 14-7 record overall. With a strong Big East conference including three teams in the top 10, the Bulldogs are going to have to find a way make it to the top. Butler has a history of being underdogs (no pun intended), with a similar situation in 2011 when Butler started out with a record of 12-9 and finished the season in the National Championship game in Houston.

With Butler located in the heart of Indianapolis,  Hinkle Fieldhouse is one of the most convenient places for Center Grove students to go catch a college basketball game.

“Hinkle Fieldhouse is one of the greatest atmospheres in the country to watch a basketball game. Between the great brand of basketball and history of Hinkle, no other place beats it,” sophomore Brad Boswell said.

Whether students are catching a game at Mackey Arena or dressed head-to-toe in cream and crimson, live college basketball will always provide an unforgettable experience.

 

Lady Trojans look to avenge regular season loss in regional

The Center Grove Lady Trojans go up against No. 1 ranked, two-time defending state champion Bedford North Lawrence Monday night at Bedford at 8 p.m. in the regional semi-final. The game, which was originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon, was first postponed until Saturday evening and then later pushed to Monday night due to heavy snow and bad road conditions. Not only would defeating Bedford mean the Trojans advance to the regional championship, now set to be played on Tuesday evening, but it would also give the program credibility. “If we win this game, it would give our program respect. I feel like we do not get enough credit or respect that we should. So I definitely think winning this would give us a lot more credit than we already have,” senior Jess Norris said. “ It would also put us up there to be one of the top teams and actually prove that we are a good and solid basketball team.” The Lady Trojans played BNL earlier in the season, losing 33-46. However, senior Regan Wentland is confident the team has what it takes to upset the defending champs.

The Girls Basketball Team poses after winning the Sectionals tournament.

The Girls Basketball Team poses after winning the Sectionals tournament.

“We have more set plays on offense and I think that our team chemistry has gotten a lot better and everyone is playing up to their full potential,” Wentland said. While the team lost the first match-up, there were plenty of positives to take away, including junior Lauren Rau’s 19-point performance. “We realized watching film that they do not help on defense, so it is basically once we get past our one defender there is an open lane to the basket,” Wentland said. “I also think we realized that we weren’t shooting when we were open in the first game.” After watching film, the team was able to find both a defensive and offensive focus in hopes of changing the outcome this time around. “I would say that we need to stop their two posts (players), push the ball up the floor quickly, drive to the basket hard and look for our open shots,” Norris said. In order to advance, Center Grove will have to contend with two of the state’s top players, who have both earned Div. I scholarships. “[We have to] shut down their inside game because they have Jenna Allen, who is going to Michigan State, and Dominique McBryde, who is going to Purdue. And those two are extremely talented and skilled on the court,” Wentland said. “ So if we shut them down, we can contain all the rest.” The winner of the Center Grove-BNL game will advance to the regional championship to play the winner of Columbus North-Evansville Central. Because of weather, this game will be played Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m.