-If you havent seen the new bracket projections, they are posted below this article.EXEMPT TOURNAMENTS
-The two semifinal games, the third place game, and the championship game werent decided until the final minute. It was a great tournament, at least in terms of excitement. In the third place game NOTRE DAME led GEORGIA TECH most of the way, but Tech hung in there and hit a three pointer with less than two seconds to play, which gave them a 70-69 win. It was a big win for a young Georgia Tech team. Notre Dame has quite a few lightweights on their schedule between now and the start of conference play, so this was a missed opportunity to pick up a quality OOC win.
In the championship, WINTHROP and BAYLOR seesawed back and forth. I was having a hard time deciding who to be for because I really want to see both teams do well this year. Baylor finally got control late in the game, and ended up winning the Paradise Jam championship. It is a huge win for a Baylor team that was 6-43 in their last 49 games away from home coming into this game according to one of the announcers. With Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech (all teams Baylor plays twice) playing sluggishly so far, they should be able to string together more conference wins than what we are used to seeing. Baylor is currently a #11 seed in my bracket projection, but whats way more important than that is that it looks as though they are good enough to actually contend for a spot in this years NCAA Tournament.
Winthrop is good as well, but doesnt play in a conference that will enable them quality wins that would impress the committee, so its important that they play well out of conference. They did get the win against Georgia Tech, which should end up helping them out. They also have West Virginia, Ole Miss, Old Dominion, Miami, FL and a Bracket Buster game remaining, so theyll get their chances to make a statement to the committee. Considering how much talent Winthrop lost, it didnt look like theyd have a big year, but they played well in this tournament and could easily end up atop the Big South and add some nice OOC wins to their resume on top of that.
-UCLA jumped out to an early lead against MARYLAND, and the Terps could never really catch up. It was an impressive showing for the Bruins, who look as good as any team Ive seen this year. Maryland will face Missouri in the consolation game.
-The MISSOURI vs MICHIGAN STATE game was much more interesting. Michigan State jumped out to an early lead and led by as much as 16 toward the end of the first half. Mizzous fast paced style allowed them to get back into it, and draw within two late in the game. Michigan State held on to win 86-83, but Missouri can still take quite a bit away from the game. They havent sniffed the NCAA Tournament in quite some time, and this year it appears as if theyre good enough to get there. The game was in Kansas City, and the fans really got behind Mizzou. If nothing else, I think theyre fan base is energized and back on board. Theyll face Maryland tomorrow in another big game, so its important that they get over this loss quickly. Both teams shot the ball really well. Goran Suton for Michigan State just missed a double-double with 17 points and 9 boards. Missouris Stefhon Hannah
was 5-11 from behind the arc and finished the game with 20 points.
-MARQUETTE had trouble with CHAMINADE in the first game of this tournament, but ended up pulling it out. Still, this is the third game this season where Marquette struggled against a sub-par opponent. Theyll need to play better in the next game if they want to make the finals. It looked like this would be the biggest blowout of the day, but it actually turned out to be the most exciting game of the day out in Maui.
-OKLAHOMA STATE opened up a 20 point lead on LSU, but the Tigers did come back and make the score respectable. Still, Oklahoma State wins and advances to the semis where theyll face Marquette, which is big for a team thats coming off a loss to North Texas. Seeing as how Marquette has yet to step up, Oklahoma State may have a shot at the upset.
-PRINCETON was never in the game with DUKE, and ARIZONA STATE fell down big to ILLINOIS and although they did finally settle down, they were never able to catch up. Illinois looked like a very good team and it will be interesting to see what they can do against Duke tonight. Expectations werent all that high for the Illini this year and many were questioning if theyd even be able to make the NCAA Tournament. A win against Duke tonight would really be making a big time statement right out of the gate. NEWS AND NOTES
-Another Atlantic Sun team has pulled off another surprising upset. Belmont defeated Alabama 85-83, which improves them to 4-2 on the season. Its been a bad week for Alabama. First the football team lost to Louisiana Monroe, and then the basketball team fell last night.
-Some bad news for the Louisville Cardinals. Senior center David Padgett
fractured his knee cap in Saturdays win against Jackson State and will miss at least ten weeks, and according to a university press release could end up missing the entire year. He has already used a redshirt, and although it is possible, its still unlikely the NCAA would grant him a sixth year. He was a very strong component to Louisvilles frontcourt and the team will definitely miss him. No program seems to suffer more blows from injuries than Louisville. Even in their Final Four season they had to deal with injuries early on. As sorry as I am for their program, Im most sorry for Padgett himself. He is recognized as being a leader, and as a fan of college basketball in general Id hate for this to be the end of his career. OTHER HIGHLIGHTED MATCH-UPS
-GARDNER WEBB AT CONNECTICUT. The two just met last Thursday in the Coaches vs Cancer Classic, and although Gardner Webb looked good at certain points, Connecticut still won convincingly. Connecticut also looked pretty good against Memphis despite the fact that they lost. The one thing about Gardner Webbs upset over Kentucky is that they arent going to sneak up on anyone. Connecticut was ready for them last time and should be ready for them again.
-MINNESOTA AT IOWA STATE. I dont know if well see any of these teams in the NCAA Tournament, but its still an interesting early season game between two programs that are in rebuilding mode, but appear to be on the way up. Minnesota is unbeaten on the year, but theyre also untested, whereas Iowa State is coming off of a loss to Bradley. I feel that this is a good early season game for both teams because they are both rebuilding.
-OREGON AT SAINT MARYS. If there is a team in the West Coast Conference that can challenge Gonzaga, its Saint Marys. Theyre unbeaten on the season, but theyve played some pretty weak competition and actually struggled against Drake. This is their first real test, which makes it a very interesting game to watch. It should be an incredible scene. Theyre at home against a highly ranked team from a major conference, and that doesnt happen all that often at Saint Marys. This is the second time this season Oregon has played a WCC team on the road. People may not realize it, but this would be a nice road win on Oregons Tourney resume as well.
-LOYOLA, MD AT SETON HALL. Seton Hall is unbeaten, but had a scare from Robert Morris in their last game and needed to come from behind late to win. Loyola is 3-1 and looks to be one of the better teams in the Metro Atlantic. An upset win would be huge for them, especially if Seton Hall goes on to have a big year. However, it looks as though Loyola is overmatched, but then again they appear to be better than Robert Morris, so I guess that means they have a chance.
-DREXEL AT VIRGINIA. Both teams are 3-0 and Virginia just got a big win on the road against Arizona. Drexel hasnt really been tested yet and could end up getting blown out of the gym. An upset would be huge not just for them but for the Colonial, but it isnt likely to happen. BUY GAMES
-FLORIDA GULF COAST AT BRADLEY. Bradley has won two straight since losing their season opener, and shouldnt have too much trouble winning tonight.
-HARTFORD AT BYU. BYU is unbeaten on the year, and shouldnt have too much trouble remaining that way. It gets tougher later this week when they face Louisville.
-NORTH FLORIDA AT FLORIDA. The Gators must have worked out a deal with Hostess to sponsor their out of conference schedule, because it is full of cupcakes. They should win this one in a blowout and remain unbeaten.
-ELON AT GEORGIA. Georgia hasnt really been tested yet, and probably wont be tonight.
-UNC WILMINGTON AT INDIANA. UNCW is much better than Longworth, which was the last team Indiana played, but they still arent anywhere near as good as the Hoosiers.
-MARYLAND EASTERN SHORE AT IOWA. Iowa is unbeaten on the year, but they are also untested. The schedule gets tougher for the Hawkeyes after this game.
-ARKANSAS STATE AT MEMPHIS. Memphis won the Coaches vs Cancer Classic, and can improve to 5-0 on the year with a win in this game. The Tigers will be facing some pretty tough competition later on, but shouldnt have any trouble tonight.
-NORFOLK STATE AT NEBRASKA. Nebraska can get to 3-0 with a win, but they havent been tested yet.
-SOUTH CAROLINA STATE AT NORTH CAROLINA. North Carolina is coming off of a blowout win against Iona, and we could see another blowout tonight.
-IONA AT OLD DOMINION. Old Dominions only loss was on the road against Clemson, and they look like a pretty solid team. They shouldnt have too much trouble winning this one tonight.
-LIPSCOMB AT PURDUE. This is just Purdues second game, and it will most likely be another blowout
-YALE AT STANFORD. Stanford is coming off a surprising loss to Siena, but should be able to rebound at home against Yale.
-MIDDLE TENNESSEE AT TENNESSEE. Some of the teams in the Sun Belt are off to good starts, but Middle Tennessee isnt one of them. Tennessee should win this one in a route.
-SAN FRANCISCO AT UC SANTA BARBARA. UCSBs only loss is at Stanford. I still think theyre good enough to be in the mix for an at-large, but they cant afford to drop games like this, even if they are being played this early in the season.
-VALPARAISO AT VANDERBILT. Vandy is 2-0 and is coming off a decent road win against Toledo. They shouldnt have too much trouble with Valpo.
-COPPIN STATE AT XAVIER. Xavier is coming off a loss to Miami, OH, but should blow out Coppin State tonight.