Apologies to all as I have been out of town over the last days, and was unable to post The Dig and Power Rankings on their normal days. So, today we'll get both of those out, even though they may be a little shorter than normal. Ok, enough about that. Here's what's going on around Miner Nation, Conference USA, and the rest of the country on Wednesday February 29th, 2012.
AROUND MINER NATION
The UTEP football team began its Spring practices Tuesday, the first of 15 sessions leading up to the April 6th intrasquad scrimmage at the Sun Bowl. While the Miners will have plenty of spots to fill before the season opener against Oklahoma, the good news is that the Miners have no quarterback controversies or battles this year. Senior Nick Lamaison enters at the no. 1, while Junior Carson Meger comes in at no. 2. The Miners will be off today, but will get back at it tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. at Glory Field. Here is a complete list of the spring practices.
|3/1/2012||3:30 p.m.||Glory Field|
|3/3/2012||10:00 a.m.||Glory Field|
|3/6/2012||3:30 p.m.||Glory Field|
|3/8/2012||3:30 p.m.||Glory Field|
|3/10/2012||10:00 a.m.||Sun Bowl|
|3/13/2012||3:30 p.m.||Glory Field|
|3/20/2012||3:30 p.m.||Glory Field|
|3/22/2012||3:30 p.m.||Glory Field|
|3/24/2012||10:00 a.m.||Sun Bowl|
|3/27/2012||3:30 p.m.||Glory Field|
|3/29/2012||3:30 p.m.||Glory Field|
|3/31/2012||10:00 a.m.||Sun Bowl|
|4/3/2012||3:30 p.m.||Glory Field|
|4/5/2012||3:30 p.m.||Glory Field|
|4/6/2012||7:00 p.m.||Sun Bowl|
The UTEP basketball team will say goodbye to its lone senior tonight, Gabe McCulley, as the Miners have their final home game against Rice at 7:05 p.m. McCulley, a 5th year senior, has been a very important asset to the team this year, and he will be greatly missed. Make sure to make it out tonight to bid farewell to McCulley, and support your Miners in their final home game of the season.
ESPN El Paso's Steve Kaplowitz put out a piece today on the injustice the Lady Miners are having to deal with this week, even though they currently hold a 25-3 record. As we all know, the Miners fell to Rice on Sunday 52-48, and are no longer receiving votes in the AP Top 25 poll. The Miners did however receive 5 votes in the ESPN/USA Today poll.
While it would be a complete injustice, the Lady Miners could need to win the C-USA tournament in order to make the NCAA tournament. Weak scheduling has kept the Miners from gaining the respect that they deserve on the national level, and the home loss to Rice certainly puts a dent in the any large hopes.
While the Miners SHOULD BE safe, the only way to ensure that they are dancing next month is to win the conference tourney. Good luck to the Lady Miners, and no matter what happens you have had an amazing season. Keep working hard, and don't concentrate on what you have no control over. Go Miners!!
After starting the season 4-0, the Miner softball team is struggling to find its way on the diamond. While they have been very competitive, they have falling in their last 10, bringing their record to 4-10 in the 2012 campaign. The Miners held a 5-0 lead in Sunday's contest versus Stephen F. Austin, but were unable to hold the lead, and ended up falling 8-6 in the last game of the Fairfield Inn North Texas Shootout. UTEP will now return home to take on UTSA at Helen of Troy Field on Friday.
AROUND CONFERENCE USA
The Memphis Tigers have clinched at least a share of the Conference USA regular season title after dropping UCF 84-55 on Tuesday night. The Tigers improved to 12-3 in C-USA with one game to play, and both Southern Miss and Tulsa sit at 10-4 with two to play. Memphis will be at Tulsa on Saturday in a game that will have major implications on the C-USA tourney.
Memphis' Will Barton was named the C-USA player of the week this week after averaging 24.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 3.0 steals a game in wins over both ECU and Marshall. The sophomore averaged nearly 56% from the field, and 82% from the FT line on the week.
Rice freshman Dylan Ennis and Houston freshman Joseph Young were named the C-USA co-freshmen of the week this week. Ennis averaged 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds a game for the week, while Young averaged 21 points a contest.
ESPN's resident Bracketologist Joe Lunardi still has both Memphis and Southern Miss safely in the field of 68 with the Tigers receiving an 8 seed, and the Golden Eagles receiving a 9. The Tigers are projected as the C-USA champs, taking on the 9 seed CAL in the Midwest region, while the Golden Eagles are projected to meet the 8 seed Iowa St. in the West region.
This week Memphis received 5 votes in the AP Top 25 poll, while Southern Miss received 2 votes. The Tigers were the only team to receive votes in the ESPN/USA Today poll, receiving one single vote.
AROUND THE COUNTRY
The University of Missouri and Texas A&M University have reached agreements with the Big 12 for an early exit from the conference. While initial figures had been estimated to be in the $30M range, both parties ended up agreeing on a figure near $12M.
In fall 2010, both schools announced they would be leaving the Big 12 on July 1, 2012. Conference bylaws state that universities that provide less than 12 months' notice are subject to having 90 percent of their conference revenue withheld. That total was estimated at nearly $30 million for each school, but lawyers for both sides settled on $12.41 million.
The Big 12 Conference will begin its new TV deal with Fox beginning on July 1st, and the conference will replace the Tigers and Aggies with West Virginia and TCU. The Mountaineers fee for exiting the Big East early was in the $20M range.