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See IU basketball players stand outside an IU football game

How well do you know the IU Hoosiers? How likely are you to go to an Indiana football game this year? Exactly the IU athletic department’s point: Why not kill both birds with the same stone? Hence the following event. Get hyped!

Indiana University men’s basketball coach Tom Crean has announced his program will hold a Fan Appreciation Tailgate on Saturday April 18, at 11:30 a.m. in the Mellencamp Pavilion. The event, which is free, will be held prior to the start of the annual spring football game which begins at 2 p.m. next door at Memorial Stadium.

“I thought this would be a great way for our players and coaches to interact with our great fans in a very informal and fun setting,” said Crean. “Our fans are the best in the country and we wanted the opportunity to thank them personally and to tie it in with the spring football game is another added bonus.”

The first 90 minutes of the tailgate will include interaction with the players and coaches and games for the kids. At 1 p.m., Coach Crean and his staff will publicly announce their 2008-09 team awards recognizing several of the players at that time.

If you notice, the above link contains a photo of Tijan Jobe scoring a basket. So what they say is true. Legends do exist.

Final Rosters announced for Wazoo Sports Derby Festival Basketball Classic

Here are the final rosters for the 2009 Wazoo Sports Derby Festival Basketball Classic. Maurice Creek, Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford will play together on the Gold team. Inside the Hall will have coverage throughout the weekend beginning late on Thursday.

Gold Team

Maurice Creek, Indiana, 6’5″, 200, Guard
Tyler Griffey, Illinois, 6’8″, 230, Forward
Jon Hood, Kentucky, 6’7″, 190, Guard
Jordan Hulls, Indiana, 6’0″, 170, Guard
Brendan Lane, UCLA, 6’9″, 205, Forward
Michael Snaer, Florida State, 6’4″, Guard
Daniel Orton, Kentucky, 6’10”, 260, Center
Christian Watford, Indiana, 6’8″, 215, Forward
Maalik Wayns, Villanova, 6’1″, 190, Guard
Rodney Williams, Minnesota, 6’6″, Forward
Kyryl Natyazhko, Undecided, 6’11”, Center

Coaches: Vince Walden, IMG Academy – Florida; Lewis Howard, Largo H.S. – Maryland

Black Team

Nolan Dennis, Memphis, 6’5″, 180, Guard
Rakeem Buckles, Louisvile, 6’8″, 203, Forward
Eric Bledsoe, Undecided, 6’0″, 160, Guard
Lakeem Jackson, South Carolina, 6’5″, 220, Forward
Elijah Johnson, Kansas, 6’2″, 183, Guard
Noel Johnson, USC, 6’7″, 180, Forward
Mike Marra, Louisville, 6’4″, 200, Guard
Eric Murphy, Florida, 6’10”, 220, Forward
Raymond Penn, Oklahoma State, 5’9″, 150, Guard
Peyton Siva, Louisville, 6’0″, 180, Guard
Stephan Van Treese, Louisville, 6’9″, 225, Forward
DaShonte Riley, Syracuse, 6’11”, Center

Coaches: David Gaines, Christ School- North Carolina; Andre Flynn, Fayette County H.S. – Georgia

Submit your questions for Evan Daniels of Scout.com

National recruiting analyst Evan Daniels of Scout.com has agreed to answer questions from Inside the Hall readers as a part of a Q & A we’ll be conducting in the near future. To submit a question, please post it in the comments of this post. We’ll use the best questions submitted.

Final standings for Pick ‘Em Challenge

Thanks to more than the 500 of you that participated in the contest. Here is a look at the final standings:

The top three should contact us at info@insidethehall.com to arrange delivery of their prizes.

On a side note, a couple people have inquired in the comments about coverage of this weekend’s Wazoo Sports Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Freedom Hall in Louisville. We will be at Friday’s event at Bellarmine and at the game on Saturday. Look for coverage on the site beginning either late Friday or early Saturday. If you are interested in attending, ticket information is available here.

Dominique Ferguson opens up his recruitment

According to a tip we received early this evening, Lawrence North junior Dominique Ferguson has de-committed from the University of Kentucky. It was speculated after the coaching change in Lexington that Ferguson would re-open his recruiting process and a tipster tells Inside the Hall that Ferguson has done just that.

8:30 PM Update: Ferguson has confirmed to Inside the Hall that he has re-opened the recruiting process.

8:15 PM Update: Our friend Jody Demling of the Louisville Courier-Journal has confirmed that the five-star forward has re-opened the recruiting process with Ferguson’s father, Deon. The report says that IU is “no doubt” one of the schools Ferguson will consider.

Why They’ll Win It All: Connecticut

Throughout the week, we’ve stated our case for each of the Final Four teams to win the national championship. We conclude the series today with Connecticut.

There are reasons to like Connecticut to win it all beyond the fact that they’re coming out of the West Regional, like they did during championship runs in 1999 and 2004. First, the gentleman to the right has the ability to shut down the interior. And since the only guy who figured out a way to get the best of Hasheem Thabeet this season, Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair, is out of the tournament, I’m liking his chances to control the lane in Detroit.

But it’s far from a one man show for the Huskies. With Thabeet, Stanley Robinson and Jeff Adrien,  UConn has the best front court remaining in the tournament. The season ending injury to Jerome Dyson raised some questions about this team’s ability to advance deep into the tournament, but A.J. Price has taken on more of a scorer’s mentality and it’s working out beautifully. And it doesn’t hurt that freshman Kemba Walker and Craig Austrie have filled in admirably for Dyson down the stretch.

Another factor, which hasn’t been much of a factor at all, is the Yahoo! story accusing Connecticut of serious NCAA violations. Could Jim Calhoun be using a negative and turning it into a positive to motivate his troops? It sure seems like it. Often times when a coach says an off the court story won’t be a distraction, it manages to find its way onto the court. But the early results look promising in this department for Calhoun. And who doesn’t believe that he’d love to win his third championship and then walk away from potential sanctions?

Why They’ll Win It All: Michigan State

Throughout the week, we’ll be running small capsules on the remaining Final Four teams, stating why they’ll win it all. Today: Michigan State.

Had I told you before the tournament that Michigan State would beat the No. 1 overall seed Louisville and do it easily, you likely would have called me crazy. But that’s exactly what happened last Sunday as the Big Ten regular season champs dismantled the hottest team in the country to reach Detroit.

There are several reasons to like the Spartans to win their third national championship. First, Tom Izzo gets it done in March. He’s 30-10 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and the Spartans typically peak down the stretch. This year is no exception. After head scratching home losses to Northwestern and Penn State, Michigan State has won 13 of 15. There’s something to be said for momentum.

Michigan State is also a balanced team. Five guys average eight points or more. If Kalin Lucas doesn’t beat you, Goran Suton will. If Chris Allen isn’t hitting from behind the arc, Durrell Summers or Korie Lucious will pick up the slack. It’s also unlikely the Spartans will hit the wall due to fatigue. Izzo carefully distributes the minutes for a perfectly balanced rotation. Only Lucas averages over 30 minutes.

And what I like most about the Spartans is the way they crash the boards. They’re grabbing 9.6 more rebounds per game than opponents. Which means they’re not allowing many second chance points. That will come in handy against Connecticut with Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien, who can both control the paint. Combine a proven winner in March with a balanced rotation that pound the glass and what do you get? A national championship.

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