CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK NOTEBOOK
284 TEAMS REMAIN!!!!
For all the action, check out Chad’s viewing guide located here….
-It was mostly chalk in the Northeast Conference. Robert Morris and Wagner not only won, but won easily. LIU Brooklyn had to sweat out Quinnipiac, but was able to pull away at the end. Bryant, who I talked about yesterday, was the only home team that lost. This sets up an intriguing semifinal. Mount Saint Mary’s is the lowest seeded remaining team, but they have also won eight in a row and are one of the hottest teams in the league. They’ll play at Robert Morris on Saturday.
-In the Atlantic Sun, or as fans like to call it, the Atlantic Fun, Gulf Coast struggled in the first half against North Florida, but pulled away in the second half. Mercer, the first place team and host, had no problems at all with Lipscomb. They now get a day off before having to face the winner of SC Upstate vs Jacksonville.
-It was chalk in the Patriot League as well with the home teams winning all four games. Army’s win over American assures them of their first winning season since 1985. They will face Bucknell in the semis. Lehigh will face rival Lafayette in the other semifinal game, which should be a fun one.
-Morehead State and SEMO advanced to the quarters of the Ohio Valley without too much trouble.
-LMU won just their second conference game of the year in their WCC opening round game against Portland.
-The Big South resumes today with its four quarterfinal games. Charleston Southern, who won the South, will face Wintrhop, who they actually split the season series with. VMI, who loves to push the tempo, will take on Longwood. Gardner Webb, who is another favorite, will face Campbell in what is probably the most compelling game of the day. And, lastly, High Point will take on Liberty. If the seeds hold serve, High Point, Charleston Southern, VMI and Gardner Webb should be an evenly matched and competitive semifinal.
-The Ohio Valley resumes today with its two quarterfinal games. Tennessee State will take on Morehead State. The winner will face Belmont, who didn’t lose many games, but who did lose to Tennessee State. If those two were to meet in Nashville it would be a potential showcase. Eastern Kentucky will face SEMO in the other game for the right to take on Murray State.
Belmont has a shot at an at-large, but they’d really be sweating if they failed to win this tournament because any game they lose will be an additional bad loss on their profile. EKU and Murray aren’t as bad as losing to anyone else, so the semifinal will be big for them. A semifinal of Belmont vs Tennessee State and EKU vs Murray is intriguing as well. It really is starting to feel like March.
-Bradley and Drake face off for the right to meet Creighton and Missouri State and Southern Illinois face off for the right to meet Wichita in the Missouri Valley opening round tonight. Drake is in 8th place, but they did look pretty good at times throughout the season. Since Creighton doesn’t need to win the tournament to get in, an upset in the quarterfinals tomorrow isn’t entirely out of the question.
-The second round of the WCC is tonight as San Francisco faces LMU and San Diego takes on Pepperdine.
OTHER ACTION FROM TONIGHT
-LOUISIANA TECH AT NEW MEXICO STATE (WAC). LA Tech is interesting. They have a bloated record, but no real wins of note. Their next two games are arguably the toughest of the season, and I’m thinking that if they win both of them the committee will take them if they fail to win the WAC Tournament. Anything short of that and they’ll need the automatic bid, though. New Mexico State has just one home loss, so although they’re not a tournament team, LA Tech will get more credit for a win there than perhaps anything else on their profile to date. HUGELY important game for them tonight.
-KENTUCKY AT GEORGIA (SEC). I think Kentucky is farther away from the field than most. If they are even going to get looked at they can’t afford a loss in a game like this.
-VIRGINIA AT FLORIDA STATE (ACC). Virginia is on the bubble and every game for them has a pivotal feel. I think a loss would be more damaging than a win would be helpful, but no matter how you look at it they cannot afford to lose tonight.
-BUTLER AT UMASS (Atlantic Ten). I still like Butler’s profile and think their team is built to possibly go deep, but someone pointed out to me that they really haven’t beaten tournament team, or for that matter looked all that good against one, since beating Temple back in January…..and Temple is a bubble team. UMass is outside the bubble, but a strong finish and showing in the A10 Tournament will get them a look.
-WISCONSIN AT MICHIGAN (Big Ten). Both teams are safely in. Both teams are likely protected seeds, and Michigan State is a potential #1 seed if they win out all the way through the Big Ten Tournament.
-OREGON AT COLORADO (Pac Twelve). I think both teams are in. At this point it would be hard for either of them to play their way out. A win tonight would be solid for either team.