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Saint Peter’s basketball vs Tennessee in March Madness: Prediction for NCAA Tournament

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Saint Peter’s basketball vs Tennessee in March Madness: Prediction for NCAA Tournament


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The most iconic Cinderella run in NCAA Tournament history began with an obscure No. 15 seed from Jersey City loading the slingshot for a second-seeded powerhouse from the Southeastern Conference.

Two years later, that stage is set yet again.  

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Except Saint Peter’s (19-13) is no longer obscure, and the powerhouse is sixth-ranked Tennessee (24-8) instead of Kentucky.

You can bet Vols coach Rick Barnes is reminding his guys of that before the ball goes up Thursday night at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina (9:20 p.m., TNT).

Saint Peter’s vs Tennessee: 3 things to know for NCAA Tournament opener

Here’s a scouting report for one of the more intriguing long-shot matchups of the Round of 64.

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Saint Peter’s vs Tennessee matchups

Backcourt: Tennessee is loaded here with 6-foot-6 All-American postgrad Dalton Knecht (21.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and junior Zakai Zeigler (11.9 ppg, 5.8 apg), who attended Immaculate Conception High School in Montclair. Saint Peter’s has an elite defender at point guard in 6-3 senior Latrell Reid (11.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.6 apg), who is the lone holdover from Saint Peter’s 2022 rotation. He’s a Willingboro native, as is 6-5 backcourt mate Marcus Randolph (6.4 ppg, 41 percent from 3-point range). Edge: Tennessee.

Frontcourt: Saint Peter’s is led by 6-6 sophomore Corey Washington (16.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg), a star in the making who dominated the MAAC Tournament. There’s length and physicality with 6-9 sophomore Mouhamed Sow (5.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and 6-7 junior Michael Hogue (8.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg). Tennessee holds it down with 6-foot-11 rim protector Jonas Aidoo (11.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.0 bpg), a second-team All-SEC selection, and 6-7 wing Josiah-Jordan James (8.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg). Edge: Tennessee.

Bench: Saint Peter’s goes nine deep to keep the defensive intensity high, and the subs include Armoni Zeigler (6.4 ppg), who is Zakai Zeigler’s half-brother. Tennessee plays eight guys and gets 16 points per game from its bench. Edge: Even.  

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Intangibles: Tennessee coach Rick Barnes has 803 career victories and a Final Four to his credit. Saint Peter’s coach Bashir Mason raised three regular-season championship banners at Wagner and rebuilt Saint Peter’s right quick, but this is his first NCAA Tournament game. That said, the arena will be filled with Saint Peter’s supporters or, if you prefer, fans rooting against Goliath. I’ll feel like Jersey City in Charlotte. Edge: Saint Peter’s.

Three keys for Saint Peter’s

Slow things to a crawl

The Peacocks play at the 338th-fastest pace in the country, which is not far from last. Tennessee’s tempo ranks 79th. It’s easier to slow a game down than to speed it up, but that requires taking good care of the ball on offense (not a strength) and rebounding well (definitely a strength).

Don’t get torched by Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht

Nobody matches up well with a 6-6 veteran who scores at all three levels. Mason is likely to send waves of bodies at him. Knecht will get his, but he’s got to work for it. It would help if he’s off.

Throw an early punch

Not literally, of course, but close. Saint Peter’s rallied from a halftime hole in each of its final two MAAC Tournament games. The Peacocks have been a second-half team by wearing foes down with depth and physicality. That can only work here if they’re within striking distance. The better they start, the longer they hang around the more the crowd engages – and the pressure builds on Tennessee.

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Saint Peter’s vs Tennessee prediction

As in 2022, Saint Peter’s is peaking late. The Peacocks have won eight of the past 10 games after getting fully healthy. Though this is almost an entirely new team and staff from the 2022 darlings, they’re similar in style and will channel that ethos. Tennessee has the firepower. Can they handle a Jersey City throat punch?

Tennessee 64, Saint Peter’s 60

Jerry Carino has covered the New Jersey sports scene since 1996 and the college basketball beat since 2003. He is an Associated Press Top 25 voter. Contact him at jcarino@gannettnj.com.



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Tennessee AG argues qualified doesn’t mean certified in fight over education commissioner

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Tennessee AG argues qualified doesn’t mean certified in fight over education commissioner


The Tennessee governor has “unchecked authority” to name a state education commissioner who doesn’t have to be certified to teach, according to an attorney’s general opinion published this week in response to queries regarding embattled Education Commissioner Lizzette Reynolds.

In an opinion published on Tuesday, Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti outlines his legal opinion for why the law stating commissioners be “qualified to teach in the school of the highest standing over which the commissioner has authority” does not mean the Tennessee education commissioner has to be certified to teach with a teaching license.

In the 10-page opinion, Skrmetti points to laws established in 1919 and 1925. Skrmetti argues the requirement imposes a “general standing” that establishes the “education, experience, and strength of character necessaryto teach” rather than a specific legal certification.

Skrmetti notes several times that early 20th century General Assemblies chose to give the governor “unchecked power” to appoint commissioners without legislative approval, giving the governor power to “unilaterally judge who had the attainments necessary to lead the State’s Department of Education.”

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Rep. Caleb Hemmer, D-Nashville, requested the formal opinion from Skrmetti earlier this year as reports emerged that Reynolds may not meet qualifications for the job.

According to Tennessee state code, the education commissioner “shall” have experience in school administration and be qualified to teach at a high school level. Reynolds, who has experience in school choice nonprofits and the Texas education department, does not appear to have ever taught in a classroom as a teacher or served in local K-12 administration.

Reynolds enrolled at UT Martin to seek a master’s degree and teaching license after Gov. Bill Lee appointed her to the position last year. She also misrepresented her tenure with the state to receive free tuition in the program, which the Department of Education called an administrative error. Following a Tennessean review of her enrollment and department records, a spokesperson said Reynolds repaid the tuition.

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Democrats have continually called for Reynolds to resign in recent months, though Lee continues to back the education chief.

In his request, Hemmer sought Skrmetti’s opinion on whether the General Assembly has a pathway to respond to a commissioner appointment that doesn’t meet qualifications. Skrmetti says no.

The General Assembly likely lacks any viable route to removing the Commissioner of Education from office through litigation. The state — acting through its district and state attorneys general — may have a right to seek court-ordered removal of an unqualified state officer through Tennessee’s “quo warranto” statute. Individual members of the public likely have no direct avenue to prosecute a “quo warranto” action or other removal litigation.

Most recently, the Department of Education pointed to a state law and State Board of Education rules aimed at helping address teacher shortages as evidence that Reynolds is qualified for the position.

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The rules allow the commissioner to issue temporary permits to people — based upon work experience, degrees held, subject expertise and progress toward obtaining a Tennessee license — to enable them to teach. A spokesperson has said Reynolds is qualified under these rules but has not issued herself a temporary permit.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Vivian Jones contributed to this report.



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Tennessee lawmakers pass bill allowing school teachers to carry concealed handguns

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Tennessee lawmakers pass bill allowing school teachers to carry concealed handguns


Tennessee lawmakers have approved a legislature that permits school teachers and staff to carry concealed handguns on school premises.

Allison Polidor reacts after the House voted to adopt Senate Bill 1325 at the Tennessee State Capitol building, a bill that will authorize teachers, principals, and school personnel to carry a concealed handgun on school grounds, in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., April 23, 2024. REUTERS/Seth Herald(REUTERS)

The bill has been sent to the governor for final approval, exactly one year after a tragic shooting incident in Nashville claimed the lives of six people.

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The Tennessee House voted in favour of the legislation by a margin of 68-28.

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Notably, four Republicans joined forces with Democrats in opposing the measure.

The GOP-controlled state Senate had previously passed the bill earlier this month.

Republican state Representative Ryan Williams defended the bill: “I believe that this is a method by which we can do that because what you’re doing is you’re creating a deterrent,” he stated during the House floor debate.

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Under the proposed legislation, faculty and staff members who wish to carry concealed handguns on school grounds would be required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of approved training specifically related to school policing each year.

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The bill faced huge vocal opposition

During the proceedings, protesters in the gallery heard shouting, “Blood on your hands.”

Democratic state Representative Bo Mitchell recounted last year’s Covenant School shooting in Nashville, where three children and three adults lost their lives.

“This is what we’re going to do. This is our reaction to teachers and children being murdered in a school—our reaction is to throw more guns at it. What’s wrong with us?” Mitchell passionately argued on the House floor.

Republican Governor Bill Lee’s stance remains uncertain. It’s not revealed whether he is planning to sign the measure. Governor Lee has not exercised his veto power during his tenure.

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Tennessee is not alone in approving such legislation. According to the Giffords Law Center, a gun violence prevention group, at least 26 states have laws allowing teachers or other school employees to possess guns on school grounds, albeit with certain exceptions.



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Tennessee lawmakers pass bill allowing teachers to carry guns in schools

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Tennessee lawmakers pass bill allowing teachers to carry guns in schools


Tennessee lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill that would allow the state’s teachers to carry concealed handguns at school, as protesters yelled their opposition from the gallery.

The bill was approved in a 68-28 vote in the Republican-dominated Tennessee House. The state’s Senate passed the bill earlier this month.

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Tennessee has seen heated debate over gun laws since last year’s shooting at a Nashville school left three children and three adult staffers dead. Some of the Democrats in the House helped lead protests inside the capitol, leading to their brief expulsion from the body last year.

“This is an awful day for Tennessee, our kids, our teachers, and communities,” state Representative Justin Pearson, a Democrat who was booted from the House last year before being voted back in, wrote on social media. “Instead of protecting kids, they’ve protected guns AGAIN!”

Republicans and other conservatives have often pushed for teachers to be armed in response to the numerous school shootings that have taken place in the US in the past 25 years. Proponents of the measures argue that armed teachers deter would-be school shooters. Detractors say guns in school will likely only lead to tragic accidental shootings.

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