Conference Tourney Rundowns, Highlighted Match-ups, and More (March 6)
|by: Drew Barnette - Staff Writer
|March 6, 2008
-It was a crazy night in the Patriot League. Two games went into overtime, one of which went to triple overtime, and the other two were decided by just two points. Navy is out after losing to Bucknell. The Midshipmen are a great free-throw shooting team, but they struggled from the line last night and that played a big factor in their loss. Nevertheless, Navy did hit a shot in the final seconds of the third overtime which appeared to give them the win. All Bucknell could do was in-bound it and throw up a desperation shot. Unfortunately for Navy, the desperation shot banked in from about mid-court and Bucknell Survived 87-86.
American ended a four year drought to Holy Cross with last night’s win. Holy Cross was the last placed team, but they led for most of the game and had a chance to win at the end, but came up short. First place teams generally don’t get all that excited about defeating a last place team, but if it’s been four years since one school has been able to beat another I’m sure if feels like a big monkey off of their backs. I don’t know who, but the announcers grabbed someone right as the game ended and asked him how he felt. He said he thought it was the greatest moment of his life, and judging by how excited the fans looked others probably felt the same way. Wow!! Imagine how happy they’ll be if American is able to win their semifinal game.
Army and Colgate were the other winners. It’s a good thing for all these teams that the semifinals aren’t tomorrow because I don’t know if anyone would have anything left after today.
-Nothing all that surprising came out of the Atlantic Sun. Belmont and Jacksonville both ended up winning after leading for most of the game.
BIG SOUTH SEMIFINALS
-#3. High Point vs #2. Winthrop
-#4. Liberty @ #1. UNC Asheville
UNCA is hosting this round, and they’ll host the championship game if they’re able to get past Liberty. They just faced Winthrop last week and could be on the verge of facing them again just seven days later. UNCA appears to be much better than Liberty, but Liberty did blow them out in what was a very surprising result earlier this season. UNCA appears to be playing much better now, though, since coming out of that slump where they unexpectedly lost four straight.
ATLANTIC SUN QUARTERFINALS
-#6. Gardner Webb vs #3. Stetson (winner gets Jacksonville)
-#5. Lipscomb vs #4 East Tennessee State (winner gets Belmont)
Lipscomb is hosting the tournament, but they’re technically the visiting team in this game and the next game as well if they’re able to advance. That would set up a cross-town match-up with Belmont, which would make for an interesting semifinal game.
MISSOURI VALLEY OPENING ROUND
-#9. Wichita State vs #8. Indiana State (winner gets Drake)
-#10. Evansville vs #7. Missouri State (winner gets Illinois State)
Unless any of these teams go on to win this tournament they have no shot at making the NCAAs. The teams that they’re playing in the next round do, though. Drake is a lock, whereas Illinois State probably needs to win a game or two. The winners today will have one last opportunity to play spoilers.
NORTHEAST CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
-#8. Monmouth @ #1. Robert Morris
-#7. Long Island @ #2. Wagner
-#6. Central Connecticut State @ #3. Sacred Heart
-#5. Quinnipiac @ #4. Mount Saint Mary’s
These teams will be reseeded in the semifinals with the highest (best) seed playing the lowest (worst). The whole tournament is at campus sites with the better seeded team hosting. Robert Morris, Wagner and Sacred Heart are all fairly evenly matched, so it should be an exciting semifinal and final if those teams are able to advance.
-STANFORD AT UCLA (Pac Ten). UCLA won the first meeting between these two, and since they have home court advantage for this one they should be favored to win again. Two of UCLA’s three losses have come at home, though. Stanford has some impressive wins, but none as impressive as this would be, so this would really come into play in terms of seeding. It would also put them in a tie for first place in the conference and probably elevate them to getting a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament barring an upset loss in the conference tourney. UCLA, on the other hand, is in contention for a #1 seed and winning this would go a long way toward helping them out. The two opened conference play against one another, so it’s been awhile since they’ve met. There is quite a bit to be gained by both teams, so it will hopefully be a good game.
-CLEMSON AT GEORGIA TECH (ACC). Clemson is 6-2 in their last eight games and looks to be on their way to the NCAA Tournament. This is a winnable road game for them against a Georgia Tech team that has really struggled. Winning their final two regular season games will help them sustain their current resume, and give them some momentum heading into the conference tournament.
-MICHIGAN STATE AT ILLINOIS (Big Ten). Michigan State has struggled on the road since conference play began. This wouldn’t be a quality road win for the Spartans, but at least it would be some sort of road win. Seeing as how they’ve only won three true road games this season, this would help out their resume.
-ARIZONA AT OREGON STATE (Pac Ten). Arizona has been struggling lately, but they should still be able to make the NCAA Tournament so long as they don’t completely blow it down the stretch. They look okay on paper, but they’re just 2-6 in their last eight games, which is not how they want to finish the season. A loss today would be extremely damaging and could put them on the brink of being knocked out altogether. This wouldn’t be a standout win for Arizona, but at least it would be a win, which is something they really need right now.
-CONNECTICUT AT PROVIDENCE (Big East). Connecticut comes into this game having won eleven of their last twelve. They’re out of the race to finish first, but a win can put them in a position to tie for second. The Huskies are all but assured a good seed in the NCAA Tournament. If they lose their remaining two games and then get knocked out early in the conference tourney they’ll drop some, but the way they’ve been playing I wouldn’t count on that happening.
-CALIFORNIA AT USC (Pac Ten). USC is coming off a loss to Arizona State, but they’re still in great shape as far as making the NCAA Tournament. Their next game is against Stanford, which could be tough because Stanford might be playing for a first place finish. This game is much more winnable considering they’re at home against a non-tournament team. They should take care of business, which will help sustain their profile.
-Kentucky got a big win last night against South Carolina where they held a fairly comfortable lead all throughout. Winning at South Carolina isn’t all that outstanding, but at least they showed the committee they can still win on the road without Patrick Patterson, which is a huge deal. Kentucky closes the season against Florida this weekend and I believe a win will put them in the NCAA Tournament.
-Florida jumped out to a big lead early against Tennessee, but the Vols were able to come back and win in what was an exciting game. It was a huge missed opportunity for a Florida team that really needed a big win. It’s extremely unlikely that they’ll make the NCAA Tournament without winning the SEC.
-ARIZONA STATE AT OREGON (Pac Ten). Arizona State is right on the bubble, and since their remaining two games are against teams that are outside the bubble, it is hugely important that they win both of them. Oregon does have some impressive wins and could get the attention of the committee if they win their final two regular season games and then manage some good wins in the conference tournament, but right now they’re on the outside looking in. They only have two losses at home this year, so if Arizona State pulls it off the committee will give them some credit for winning a tough road game.
-XAVIER AT SAINT JOSEPH’S (Atlantic Ten). It has been a frustrating year for Saint Joseph’s. Out of their ten losses, eight have either come in overtime or by five points or less, including their most recent loss to Temple where they led the whole game, but couldn’t put it away in the last half minute. Still, they have a chance to salvage their season by winning some big games and making the NCAA Tournament. This game against Xavier is looking like a must win because they’ve lost five of their last seven and they need a quality win on their resume right now. As for Xavier, their ticket is punched and they’re merely playing for seeding. Expect to see them around a #3.
UNDER THE RADAR
-UTAH STATE AT BOISE STATE (WAC). Boise State currently has a one game lead in the conference standings, but a Utah State win would create a four-way tie for first place along with Nevada and New Mexico State. If that happens, and possibly even if it doesn’t, we should be in for a wild finish to the WAC regular season this week.
-GEORGE WASHINGTON AT CHARLOTTE (Atlantic Ten). GW is in a tie with Fordham for 12th place in the conference standings, but they don’t own the tiebreaker, so this is virtually a must win game. Otherwise it would take a two Fordham losses and one more GW win to put them in the conference tournament.
-DE PAUL AT CINCINNATI (Big East). De Paul is in a three way tie for 12th place, which is the final spot available for the conference tournament. They have just two games remaining, and this game could make the difference as to whether or not they make it in.
-UC SANTA BARBARA AT CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE. UCSB can get into a three-way tie for first place along with CS Northridge and CS Fullerton. The top two teams receive byes to the semifinals of the conference tournament, so there is quite a bit at stake in these remaining two games for all the teams. A loss for UCSB means they’ll have a tough time finishing in the top two and receiving the double bye.
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