CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK NOTEBOOK.
272 teams remain. This is the first day that we have teams playing that will likely be either on the board or in the field. BYU isn’t a lock, but Murray State, Creighton and Wichita State likely are. Belmont is going to be outside the bubble with a loss, but because they are a first place finisher they will remain on the board. They Ivy League could also be whittled down to two teams. So, we should have somewhere between 254 and 248 teams remaining on the board after today.
-Two of the worst teams put on one of the worst played, yet most exciting games last night in the opening round of the America East. Binghamton got just their second win of the season as they knocked off UMBC in overtime. They will face Stony Brook in the quarterfinals.
-The Atlantic Sun featured an exciting game between East Tennessee State and North Florida. Last year North Florida advanced to the finals in what I believe was their first year of eligibility. ETSU will face Belmont in the semis. The other semifinal game is between Florida Gulf Coast, who beat USC Upstate, and hosts Mercer. FGCU hasn’t been div1 for very long. For that matter, they haven’t been an institution for very long. 1997 was when they first opened their doors to students, and I believe yesterday was their first ever conference tournament win. Mercer won both regular season games, and is playing for the right (well, not right, but opportunity) to advance to the championship game on their home floor.
-Mostly chalk in the other tournaments, except that VMI advances to the championship game of the Big South. They will face UNCA in Asheville. UNCA wasn’t challenged in their semifinal game.
-The Horizon quarterfinals are tonight. Valpo is hosting, but since they finished first they won’t play until tomorrow. With the parity in that league, it’s possible that a team like Butler or Detroit could make some noise. It’s also possible that they’ll be eliminated tonight.
-the Colonial should be a great tournament once it gets down to the quarters. The opening round is already underway. Georgia State is a team to watch. They’re capable of playing up. The problem is they don’t always do it.
-The Missouri Valley should be an exciting tournament as well, espeically once it gets down to the semis. Nothing appears to be overly intriguing in the quarterfinals, but with Wichita and Creighton already in the NCAAs, they may not be as focused as their opponents.