College Basketball Nation: George Mason

Thanks to the annual national phenomenon that is March Madness, we know all about VCU now -- Butler, Gonzaga and George Mason, too.

But what does such awareness mean for schools that were not quite in the national consciousness before a magical men’s basketball tournament run? Millions of dollars, significant increases in student applications and even smarter students, according to various studies.

No school can afford the kind of publicity a deep run into the tournament offers. Studies done by media firms Borshoff and Meltwater for Butler University after it reached the title game the past two years show a combined publicity value for the university of about $1.2 billion.

Butler’s 2010 run to the national title game resulted in $639.3 million in publicity value, including $100 million from the CBS broadcast of the national title game. Last year’s appearance was valued at more than $512 million. Neither calculation included the publicity value of radio broadcasts or talk shows, but instead focused on television, print and online news coverage.

The exposure cascades off-court, as experts point to a positive correlation between athletic performance and application rates. They call it the “Flutie effect” after quarterback Doug Flutie, who was credited with a 30 percent increase in applications at Boston College the year after his Heisman Trophy win.

A 2009 study by brothers and economics professors Jaren and Devin Pope showed that just making it into the men’s NCAA tournament produces a 1 percent increase in applications the following year. Each round a team advances increases the percentage: 3 percent for Sweet 16 teams, 4 to 5 percent for Final Four teams and 7 to 8 percent for the winner.

The only way to achieve similar application increases would be to increase financial aid or reduce tuition by 2 to 24 percent, the study said.

"These numbers tend to be larger for private schools than for public schools," co-author Jaren Pope said. "For example, private schools in the Sweet 16 see a 4 percent to 5 percent increase in applications compared to a 2 percent to 3 percent increase for public schools."

Butler University experienced a whopping 41 percent increase in applications after its 2010 run to the title game. George Mason University saw a 54 percent increase in out-of-state applications following its 2006 Final Four appearance. And within a month of being defeated in the first round of the 2000 tournament, Central Connecticut State University saw application rates increase by more 12 percent.

The impact of admitting more out-of-state students can be profound. For example, George Mason’s in-state tuition rate is $9,066 per year, while out-of-state tuition is nearly three times as much at $26,544.

Rising application rates also can allow a school either to increase enrollment or be more selective. The Popes’ study found that basketball success did not lead most schools to increase enrollment but did allow for increased selectivity.

The study concluded, “… schools which do well in basketball are able to recruit an incoming class with 1 to 4 percent more students scoring above 500 on the math and verbal SAT. Similarly, these schools could expect 1 to 4 percent more of their incoming students to score above a 600 on the math and verbal SAT.”

Behind the box scores: Wednesday's games

February, 23, 2012
2/23/12
7:15
AM ET
A scan of the college basketball box scores each night guarantees all kinds of statistical oddities and standout performances. Here are some we found from Wednesday.

Sam Houston State 50, Northwestern State 37
In what might have been the worst offensive game of the season:
  • Northwestern State set an NCAA record for most 3-point attempts without a make by missing all 26 of its 3-point attempts.
  • The teams combined to shoot 27-for-64 (42.2 percent) from the free throw line. The 37 combined misses are four more than in any other game this season.
  • The two teams combined for seven assists, the second-lowest total of the year.
  • Thanks to all the misses, the Bearkats’ Antuan Bootle had 20 rebounds off the bench, only the second player this season with that many rebounds as a non-starter.
  • Ten players scored for Northwestern State despite the fact that the Demons scored only 37 points.
High Point 98, Campbell 60
High Point’s Nick Barbour scored 44 points in 32 minutes, tied for the third-highest scoring output this season. No player had scored that many points in 32 minutes or fewer against a Division I opponent since Feb. 13, 2010, when UTEP’s Randy Culpepper scored 45 in 32 minutes against East Carolina.

Northeastern 85, George Mason 82 (OT)
Northeastern’s Jonathan Lee scored 27 points on four field goals (one 3) and 18 free throws. He’s the first player to score that many points on four or fewer made baskets since Evansville’s Colt Ryan scored 28 points on four field goals and 19 free throws on Dec. 23, 2010.

Marshall 66, Houston 58
The Thundering Herd made just 4 of 18 free throws (22.2 percent), the lowest free throw percentage in more than three years for a team with more than 10 attempts. Incidentally, Marshall shot 4-for-18 on 3-pointers as well.

Lafayette 84, Colgate 67
The Leopards made 18 3s in the win, tied for the third-most made 3s by a team this season. They made only 10 2s, becoming the seventh team this year to make at least eight more 3-pointers than 2-pointers.

Saddle Up: In search of Kalin

February, 9, 2010
2/09/10
3:54
PM ET
Saddle Up is our nightly look at the hoops your TV wants you to watch. Here's Tuesday night's rundown. (In lieu of a video preview for tonight's game, which I had planned to do until a cold made me sound like Tom Waits on Saturday morning, here's an extra-beefy edition of Saddle Up).

No. 6 Purdue at No. 10 Michigan State, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN: Kalin Lucas picked a bad time to be injured.

OK, obviously Lucas didn't decide to be injured. Obviously, he'd prefer to be on the floor at all times. But say the Ghost of Ankle Injuries Future visited Lucas in his sleep one night in October (hey, it could happen -- haven't you ever seen "A Muppet Christmas Carol"?) and told him he would have one ankle sprain this year, and that he could point to the Spartans' schedule and decide when it would be, I'm betting he wouldn't have picked this stretch of the Big Ten season.

A Lucas-less Michigan State team was forced to into an orange-colored cauldron on Saturday. Now the Spartans are staring down a crucial matchup with Big Ten rival Purdue. They're also looking at a potential three-game losing streak and a loss of their solo hold on the Big Ten's top spot.

It's not that Michigan State can't beat Purdue without Lucas, whose status will be a game-time decision. The Spartans are at home, which is always nice; heck, Indiana almost beat Purdue on the Hoosiers' home floor last week. And Michigan State showed some things without Lucas in their loss to the Illini -- namely, that they can still score, that they have decent, untapped depth and that Draymond Green is more versatile than you think. And Purdue doesn't exactly wow you with its guard play, at least not at the point guard spot, the one major hole in the Boilermakers' lineup.

But it will be tough if he's not able to play. The Spartans committed 20 turnovers at Illinois on Saturday, and it was obvious why: Kalin Lucas wasn't on the floor. Without him, the Spartans still got out in transition, but in the half court they frequently looked lost, settling on long jump shots from guards Chris Allen and Durrell Summers. When he's on the floor, Lucas gets a majority of the Spartans' possessions, and he's efficient with them. When he's not there, the Spartans are left to score by committee.

It won't help that the Boilermakers, after a three-game losing streak toward the beginning of the conference season, are beginning to hit their stride. Purdue has rattled off five straight wins -- including a win at Illinois and a tight home victory over Wisconsin -- and have looked impressive in doing so.

Purdue isn't a statistical powerhouse. Their defense is stalwart but not elite, and their offense overwhelms you with its efficiency. They're just sort of good at everything. They're smart shot selectors. They never turn the ball over. They force opponents into bad looks. They clean up their defensive boards. It's pretty simple stuff.

With or without Lucas, the Spartans have a chance to win if they force Purdue into outside shots. Again: It's simple, but true. The Boilermakers are not a good 3-point shooting team -- at 31.6 percent, they rank in the high 200's in the country in 3-point percentage -- nor is their offensive rebounding particularly impressive.

This is key. If Izzo can get his defenders to sink in a zone, make Purdue launch a few more 3s than Matt Painter would like, the Spartans should be able to turn long rebounds into transition layups. On the other hand, if Purdue is scoring in the paint, it's doubtful the Spartans will be able to hold onto the ball long enough against Purdue's frantic, turnover-inducing, man defense to stay afloat.

Bonus Saddle Up Purdue-MSU linkage!:

No. 12 Tennessee at No. 24 Vanderbilt, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN: Sure, this matchup isn't quite as sexy as the Big Ten battle above, but it is still well worth your time.

On New Year's Day, it looked like Tennessee's hopes of a successful season were over. But look at the Vols now: 18-4 overall (with a win over Kansas to boot), 6-2 in the SEC and, barring a catastrophic collapse, a lock to make the NCAA tournament.

Meanwhile, Kevin Stallings' team has been quietly handling its SEC business. Saturday's loss at Georgia was a low point, sure, and Vandy is just barely above the tempo-free water mark, but they've shown themselves capable of handling the Volunteers before -- Vanderbilt beat Tennessee in Knoxville on Jan. 27. If that hot-shooting team shows up at Memorial Gym tonight, the Vols will have plenty to reckon with.

Everywhere else: Alabama will visit Kentucky and face the wrath of emerging monster DeMarcus Cousins ... Georgetown heads to Providence, apparently avoiding the countrywide snow fiasco, and will look to avoid a South Florida-esque letdown on the road ... The Illini head to the Kohl Center, where they're likely to find a stark departure from Saturday's jubilant festivities in Champaign ... VCU takes on George Mason; with a win, the Rams could get a share of first place in the CAA ... and two middling Big 12 teams will attempt to write their respective ships, as Texas Tech goes to Norman to face the Longhorn-killing Sooners.
The Morning After is our semi-daily recap of the night's best basketball action. Try not to make it awkward.

No. 6 West Virginia 70, No. 21 Pittsburgh 51: Who wants to go play in Morgantown? Not me. Granted, I am not a college basketball team, so I don't have to worry about that. If I was an opposing team, though, I would officially see the angry fans -- the people who threw spare change onto the court (make it rain!) as Pitt rebounded and closed the deficit last night, prompting Bob Huggins to grab the microphone and tell fans "that's stupid" -- and I would get a little nervous. But the real cause for concern is the Mountaineers themselves. West Virginia is officially finding its stride. Huggins' group has won five straight over Big East foes in consistent and overpowering ways, especially on the offensive glass -- WVU grabbed 57.6 percent of its misses on offense last night, leading to a variety of second-chance buckets and putbacks, and that's the key right there. That's how West Virginia wins. They don't have to shoot the ball all that well. They just have to rebound. If you can stop them, you can win, but good luck: No one's figured it out yet.

Pittsburgh shouldn't be too discouraged by this result, which started OK and then got ugly after the half. (Speaking of ugly and true to its name, the Backyard Brawl included some mild brawl-like occurrences late in the game.) Why? Because the Panthers never really found their shot, and despite a high number of free throws and plenty of offensive rebounds of their own, the lack of shooting wasn't enough. It should correct itself in time. That might not make Jamie Dixon, whose team has now lost four of its last five, feel any better. But it's true.

No. 1 Kansas 72, Colorado 66: I barely previewed this game in Saddle Up, and that tiny mention was merely this: "New No. 1 Kansas will try to avoid the fate of last week's No. 1 when it hits the road for a meeting with a marginal conference opponent." Lesson learned: Don't sleep on marginal conference opponents at home. Of course I knew this already, but sometimes it takes a little reminder, and last night's thrilling back-and-forth in Boulder (my third favorite college town of all-time, and I've only been there for like three hours) was all that and more.

Part of me wants to say I knew Colorado had this in them -- the Buffs were pesky against Gonzaga and Arizona in Maui in November, after all. But I didn't. Rather, I expected Kansas to take control of the No. 1 seed and avoid the road pitfalls that have so frequently plagued other No. 1s this year. Oh well. The Jayhawks weren't at their finest, and Colorado deserves credit for finding a way to hang in despite not really beating Kansas in any particular phase of the game, but after Colorado missed its last-second opportunity in regulation, you had to figure Kansas would overpower the Buffaloes in overtime. So it did, and so it stays. But at least it was interesting on the way down.

South Florida 72, No. 8 Georgetown 64: "Y'all come watch Dominique Jones play!" That was the sentence screamed from Georgetown's court by -- who else? --Dominique Jones Wednesday night, just after Jones scored 22 of his 29 points in the second half to give South Florida its biggest win in program history. Um, you guys? Maybe we should listen to him. If you caught any glimpse of the game last night, or if you've seen Jones in the past, you know: Jones is an occasionally dominating college basketball player, a guy with skills to isolate the ball at the top of the key but the size outrebound and physically dominate smaller defenders. Check out the move he makes at the -0:15 mark in these highlights. Strength, size, speed and skill, all melded into one. Watch him play. He wasn't joking.

Everywhere else: Running out of words in a hurry, so let's go to the lightning round: UAB will have to wait to take full control of Conference USA, as Memphis topped the Blazers by 10 and pulled itself into a tie for the conference lead. ... Vanderbilt got a major late challenge from Mississippi State; Jarvis Varnado had another ho-hum nine-block effort. ... Northern Iowa hung on at home over Wichita State, avenging its earlier loss in Wichita and moving to 11-1 in the Missouri Valley. ... Evan Turner line watch: 27 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and three steals (!!). ... Baylor cruised over Iowa State at home. ... Georgia State handed George Mason its second conference loss, moving Jim Larranaga's squad to 10-2 in the CAA and making a conference tournament win a must.

Observations from Saturday

December, 12, 2009
12/12/09
7:24
PM ET
A few quick hitters on Saturday’s slate:
  • UCLA is officially toast. The Bruins have no shot to get in the NCAA tournament unless they win the Pac-10 tournament. Seriously, even if the Bruins were to win the Pac-10, the question will be what have they done? It’s early but it’s not too soon to announce this after the Bruins were rocked once again in the city of Anaheim, this time in a different venue (Honda Center) and by another team (Mississippi State) by double figures (72-54). The Bruins are now 0-4 in Anaheim.
  • Mississippi State’s Ravern Johnson scored 29 in the convincing win for the Bulldogs. John Riek gets eligible for the Bulldogs next week to add depth to the frontcourt. No one knows if Renardo Sidney will ever play for Mississippi State. Even without him the Bulldogs should be 1-2 in some order with Ole Miss for the SEC West title.
  • Saint Mary’s had a major road win, beating Oregon by five in Eugene, a day after learning guard Wayne Hunter was done for the season with a torn ACL. Hunter had started the first seven games and averaged 11.6 points a game. Omar Samhan scored 22 and, despite a love affair here with Portland and San Diego early, the Gaels look like they may be the real challenger to Gonzaga in the WCC.
  • The Pac-10 continues to be dreadful out of conference as Washington lost to Georgetown in Anaheim, and the aforementioned UCLA and Oregon losses, make the league look even worse. Seriously, there is a power five this season and then the sixth-best conference will either be the A-10 or the MWC. Deal with it. The Pac-10 may be looking at a best-case scenario of two NCAA bids. And the committee may discuss expanding the tournament? To get more mediocrity in the field? No thanks.
  • Georgetown’s Greg Monroe had a super week with 25 points and 15 boards in a win over Butler and then followed that up with 15 points, eight boards and six assists in the win over the Bruins. Monroe’s mate Julian Vaughn showed he can score too with a career-high 18. The Hoyas will be a contender for the Big East title.
  • Kansas blew out La Salle and freshman Xavier Henry scored 31 points with four rebounds and two assists. Can you imagine what Memphis would have been like with Henry, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Roburt Sallie, Willie Kemp and possibly Duke transfer Elliot Williams? It would have happened had John Calipari stayed put instead of going to Kentucky.
  • Butler got a desperately needed win by holding off Ohio State by eight at home. Matt Howard fouled out again though and the Bulldogs have to find a way to stop the insanity of him getting into foul trouble.
  • Ohio State played its first game without Evan Turner and was expectedly erratic. William Buford proved to be the scorer, though, with 20 points.
  • George Mason beat Creighton, easily one of the more disappointing teams in the country now at 3-5. Creighton coach Dana Altman got a technical in the final 18 seconds, which didn’t help. It was Altman’s first technical since 2007.
  • Portland and Pitt got much-needed wins after rough weeks of late.
  • Chris Warren of Ole Miss is showing no signs of his ACL bothering him as he scored 20 against McNeese State and is averaging 17.5 on the season.
  • Western Carolina, picked to win the Southern Conference with the College of Charleston, shocked Louisville 91-83 at Freedom Hall. The Cardinals can’t use the excuse of not having Preston Knowles, Jerry Smith and Peyton Siva when they didn’t have them for the loss to Charlotte. Louisville goes through early-season funks every year under Rick Pitino, but this one seems deeper and their road game on Jan. 2 in Kentucky seems awfully daunting.
  • Kentucky ran away from Indiana in Bloomington, 90-73, behind Eric Bledsoe’s 23. John Wall had "only" 11 points, but had eight assists and only one turnover. Kentucky coach John Calipari said he couldn’t be more thrilled for how his players handled their first true road game. Meanwhile, Indiana may have found a big-time scorer as freshman Maurice Creek went for 31.
  • Wisconsin needed a win after losing at UW Green Bay and the 72-63 victory against rival Marquette will do well for this team’s ego and confidence going forward.
  • Columbia’s Noruwa Agho continues to be one of the best-kept secrets in the country as he made a pair of threes and scored 23 points in a win at Bryant. Agho is shooting over 64 percent on 3s (27 of 42) so far this season.
  • The box score of the day came out of Seton Hall-VMI. The Keydets make teams play uptempo and the Pirates obliged with a 134-107 win. Jeremy Hazell scored 33 while Jamel Jackson scored 40, making 12 of 15 3-pointers. The 134 is the most points scored by the Hall in its 105-year history as was the 241-points combined. Jackson broke the Hall single-game record with 12 3s. By the way, he comes off the bench and was averaging seven points a game entering the day.
  • Oklahoma finally awoke in a game against a significant opponent as Willie Warren went for 27 points in an overtime win at Utah, which had just beaten Michigan at the Huntsman Center earlier in the week.

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