Boston College Eagles (20-11) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (21-12)
When: Thursday, 12:20 p.m.
Where: Winston-Salem, NC
BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES
1. Our coach scared "the crap" out of Pitino. Forget the sophomoric jabs against coach Al Skinner. Sure Skinner and 1987 Kentucky Derby winner Alysheba have never been seen in the same place at the same time, and, all right, Skinner has an inexplicable mock turtleneck fetish, but so what? Skinner's a baller. A semi-regular at Rucker Park in Harlem in the '60s and '70s, Skinner recorded the first triple double in UMass history in 1973, two years after someone named Julius Erving left UMass for the ABA. Nicknamed 'Quicksilver,' Skinner was a madman on the court. In an interview last year, Rick Pitino, a UMass teammate, said Skinner "would always scare the crap out of me." Skinner played six seasons of pro ball, including a spot on the 1976 ABA champion New York Nets.
2. What do you do? I'm in construction. Recent seasons have been marred by pot arrests, a counterfeit scam and a player throwing himself out a second story window to flee an assailant who may not have actually existed, but players from BC's 1978-79 season scoff at these so-called scandals. While serving time in federal prison, Henry Hill (later played by Ray Liotta in Goodfellas) hatched a scheme to fix BC basketball games. Hill paid three basketball players about $10,000 each to shave points in games that season. In a Sports Illustrated article Hill claimed that he won between $75,000 to $100,000 in the scam, while his partners made more than $250,000.
3. Pretty Boy Troy. Jared Dudley, the loud-mouthed, cornrowed workhorse forward who was only recruited by three Division 1 schools, is on pace to become BC's sixth-leading scorer. However, he'll still fall about 600 points short of Troy Bell, the most prolific scorer in school history (2,632 points) and the impetus behind the program's recent turnaround. The season before Bell arrived on campus, BC won just six games, the worst record since the 1945-46 season. His sophomore year, Bell led BC to a shocking three-seed in the NCAA tournament. Drafted by the Celtics and traded to the Grizzlies, Bell played in just six NBA games before a recurrent knee injury ruined his career. Unwanted by even the developmental league, Bell now lives in Minnesota and is training as a boxer. He may end up a mere footnote in basketball history, but the dude was absolutely transcendent inside Conte Forum. — Brian Scheid
TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS
1. Nic Cage Likes Them Out of the East. The "Masked Rider" mascot of Texas Tech began unofficially in 1936 as "The Ghost Rider," as unknown groups of students would circle the field on horses at home football games, then depart the stadium. At the 1954 Gator Bowl, The Masked Rider became the official mascot and the first horse-ridden mascot in major college sports. Tech's other mascot, Raider Red, so developed because of an old Southwestern Conference Law preventing live animal mascots at away games, is played by a student who cannot reveal his identity during the entire duration of his tenure as "Raider Red."
2. Awkward Dinner Conversation. Texas Tech's greatest basketball success came in 1993, when a Sheryl Swoopes-led team captured the NCAA championship. Of course, in October 2005, Swoopes came out publicly. You have to wonder what alumni fundraising dinners might be like in Lubbock with Knight and Swoopes in the same room, given that Knight has proven himself truly understanding of female issues over the years, including throwing vases at secretaries and once commenting, "I say, if you know rape is inevitable, just sit back and enjoy it."
3. Getting Shouts from the Jam Man. The Jam Man (!!), who can be found at http://www.thejamman.com/bio.html, has been involved in the "hip hop scence (sic) almost from the very beginning," and helped bring hip hop into the main stream, according to him. Funny, we had no idea. He shouts out the Texas Tech Men's team on his webpage, specifically Martin Zeno, Jarrius Jackson, Michael Prince and Darryl Dora, only one of whom has been hit in the face by Knight this season (to our knowledge). — Ted Bauer