March 8, 2009 9:53 am ET by Kyle Whelliston
Will Harris of Albany had an 18-and-10 double double and played 42 minutes of the Great Danes' overtime upset of Vermont, another clear indication that having the tourney at your home arena is advantageous. The Scoobies rushed out to an early lead and crushed the Catamounts on the glass, 42-24. Defending champion UMBC continued Boston University's long run of bad luck in this event; the Terriers have received No. 3 seeds four of the last five years and haven't won since 2002. Binghamton held off a late challenge from Hartford and received 29 points from Malik Alvin. New Hampshire couldn't successfully pull away from Stony Brook in a battle of 8-8 teams, but came away with a hard-fought win.
at  Albany 56,  Vermont 52 | GameFlo
 Maryland-Baltimore County 79,  Boston University 75 | GameFlo
 Binghamton 73,  Hartford 65 | GameFlo
 New Hampshire 76,  Stony Brook 73 | GameFlo
Even though star guard Courtney Pigram had an off-night (9 points, 3-for-12 shooting), ETSU's other two scorers -- Mike Smith and Kevin Tiggs -- excelled, showing that this fast, high-scoring, well-balanced team should not be overlooked for a potential NCAA upset. For the second straight year, Jacksonville lost badly in the title game, giving casual fans just tuning in the wrong impression about how far this program's come in the last four years. Nevertheless, next year's primary storyline is that it's all or nothing for the Dolphins.
The last time Montana State won a Big Sky tourney game, it was 1999 and the opponent was Cal State Northridge -- a team that left for the Big West a long time ago. The Bobcats won on their hated in-state rival Montana's home court, securing a victory with superior rebounding. In the other first-round game, Idaho State defended its home floor with a win over BSC newbie Northern Colorado, as senior forward Matt Stucki chipped in a game-high 20 points.
Radford pounded VMI on the glass 56-24, which would have produced a 40-point blowout in the first year of the Keydets' superuptempo system in 2007. VMI 2009, though, kept good control over the ball, with 19 turnovers in 99 possessions, and were in position to win until trading 3's for 2's no longer worked down the stretch. There was simply too much Radford, as three Highlanders posted double-doubles. Artsiom Parakhouski, the 6-11 Minsk Monster, had 26 points and 18 rebounds. He's the tall one in the picture below.
Northeastern's power went out during the last seven minutes of its ill-fated semifinal, a stretch in which the Huskies scored two points. That allowed Towson to score 12 and nab a giant upset. Old Dominion survived the always-dangerous 4/5 game with some mad floor-scrambles in the final minute, and George Mason found itself in a tense battle with James Madison -- the game was close throughout despite the Dukes shooting just 27 percent. VCU had the easiest time of anyone, keeping Georgia State at bay and getting 18 from Eric Maynor.
 Virginia Commonwealth 61,  Georgia State 51 | GameFlo
 Old Dominion 52,  Hofstra 51 | GameFlo
 George Mason 61,  James Madison 53 | GameFlo
 Towson 58,  Northeastern 54 | GameFlo
Whenever the Butler shooters go cold, they can always dump it down low to Horizon POY Matt Howard and watch the magic happen. The 6-9 sophomore went for 24 points, including 14 free throws, in the Bulldogs' hard-fought semifinal win. They'll face Cleveland State, a team that played them to within two points twice. The Vikings came from behind to eliminate Green Bay behind a 40-minute, 23-point performance by Norris Cole.
Fairfield, a team that's been wracked by injuries and off-court drama this season, is a semi surprise after shooting 50 percent and knocking off Manhattan with its eight-man team. Not much drama beyond that. Siena cruised to a 25-point win with four double-figure scorers, and Niagara remains a dangerous and looming presence on the other side of the bracket. Ryan Thompson of Rider scored 30 and shot 10-for-13 in Rider's win over an improved Saint Peter's team.
Creighton, fresh off a nail-biting victory that already has its own Zapruder film, was blitzed out of the gate by Illinois State and never recovered after a 27-9 start by the Redbirds, who shot 55 percent to the Bluejays' 27 (17-for-62). In the early game, Northern Iowa received a second straight day of lights-out play from Adam Koch, a 6-8 junior who scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Bradley had 24 minutes of gas, and solidly consistent UNI simply executed its stuff for 40.
Freshman Steve Peterson of Morehead State (1.8 ppg) scored just one basket in last night's final... it just so happened that his only two points came off the short airborne jumper with 1.4 seconds left in the second overtime that gave the Eagles their first Big Dance trip since 1984. He gets our Pierre Dukes award for sure. Austin Peay, the defending champions of the league, looked headed for a repeat all through the second half until a late Morehead surge forced OT, and neither team could mount a run for 10 minutes. Third-year MSU head coach Donnie Tyndall, who played for the Eagles from 1990-93, did as a head coach what he could never do as a player -- help Morehead to the NCAA Tournament.
The Citadel, which has never made the NCAA Tournament, won't make it this year either... Ed Conroy's team, despite blowing out Samford by 25 earlier this season, was playing from behind all evening and allowed 56 percent shooting. But a team laden with sophomores will be back. Homestanding Chattanooga struggled past Elon in a virtual replay of this game, and Davidson pulled away from Appalachian State behind a blistering 43-point performance by Stephen Curry. The Wildcats will go head-to-head again with Charleston, which made quick work of Western Carolina.
[S1] Davidson 84, [N4] Appalachian State 68 | GameFlo
[S3] College of Charleston 67, [N2] Western Carolina 48 | GameFlo
at [N1] Chattanooga 79, [N5] Elon 78 | GameFlo
[N3] Samford 76, [S2] The Citadel 67 | GameFlo
As falls Oral Roberts, so falls Sioux Falls? In one half of the Badlands Bedlamâ„¢ quarters, a 7-11 South Dakota State team deposed the three-time defending conference champions in an overtime thriller, the Jackrabbits' first win in five series meetings. North Dakota State leapt out to an early lead on 67 percent first-half shooting before Centenary started hitting shot after shot itself. The Gentlemen converted 60 percent of their opportunities on the night, and NDSU was forced to win it from the line. The Bison's final 14 points all came from foul shots.
John Bryant, certainly capable of winning games by himself, scored 24 points and collected 27 rebounds as Santa Clara marched on. San Diego, fighting foul trouble and cold shooting, will not reprise its Sweet 16 season of a year ago. One day after Pepperdine's 93-point offensive outburst, the Waves scored less than half of that total and shot 26 percent (including 1-for-14 from 3). Portland, always great from downtown, lit up the Strip with 10 3's in the easy 24-point win.
On Tap Tonight
A rare 6/7 game begins play this afternoon, as the last two conference champions face off for a title-game berth out of very low seeds. Binghamton had a rare rough game against UNH back in late February, overcoming the Wildcats' superior glass skills in an overtime chiller at the Mid-Majority Events Center.
2:00 pm ET -  Maryland-Baltimore County 14-16 (7-9) vs.  Albany 15-15 (6-10) | Preview
Recent: 03/01/2009 ALB 64 @UMBC 68 01/25/2009 UMBC 71 @ALB 80
5:00 pm ET -  Binghamton 21-8 (13-3) vs.  New Hampshire 14-15 (8-8) | Preview
Recent: 02/22/2009 UNH 69 @BING 70 01/22/2009 BING 60 @UNH 47
The best rivalry in the CAA, Richmond versus Norfolk, plays out once again today. It's also a replay of the 2005 title game (won by ODU). GMU defeated Towson by identical 12-point scores this year. If the final score today was 71-59, that would be so cool.
3:00 pm ET -  Old Dominion 21-9 (12-6) vs.  Virginia Commonwealth 22-9 (14-4) | Preview
Recent: 02/14/2009 VCU 65 @ODU 69 01/17/2009 ODU 44 @VCU 61
5:30 pm ET -  Towson 12-21 (5-13) vs.  George Mason 21-9 (13-5) | Preview
Recent: 02/28/2009 TOWS 59 @GMU 71 01/07/2009 GMU 71 @TOWS 59
Siena will look to march on to the title game on its own court, and will do so against a No. 5 seed -- the only danger storyline is that one-point Fairfield win at Times Union last season, but the Stags had more than eight players then. The late tilt stands to be very intriguing, as both teams have shown the ability to beat Siena in 2009.
6:00 pm ET -  Fairfield 17-14 (9-9) vs.  Siena 24-7 (16-2) | Preview
Recent: 01/17/2009 SIE 78 @FAIR 62 01/01/2009 FAIR 81 @SIE 87
8:30 pm ET -  Niagara 25-7 (14-4) vs.  Rider 19-11 (12-6) | Preview
Recent: 02/18/2009 NIAG 87 @RID 90 01/17/2009 RID 70 @NIAG 84
Illinois State was the most solid team in November and December, but as we said at the time, there was no way to know how solid because of its paper-thin schedule. If the Redbirds had played in a real Multi-Team Event like the Old Spice Classic or Anaheim Thing, they'd have had the chance at the top 50 wins that would have redefined the Valley's multi-bid discussion. And this is just the beginning for Northern Iowa. They'll return virtually intact in 2009-10, and arrived a little early this year with their long win streak. Win or lose, the Panthers are your early-early favorites for 2010.
The NEC is back after a travel break, ready to move to a final pairing. This is the point where Robert Morris was eliminated last year -- after a 16-2 regular season, eventual champion Mount Saint Mary's beat them by 18 in Moon Township. MSM is on the other side of the bracket this year, and will face a showdown with a Sacred Heart team still seeking its first Dance ticket. Both the Pioneers and Mountaineers won on their home court in the season series.
2:00 pm ET -  Quinnipiac 15-15 (10-8) at  Robert Morris 22-10 (15-3) | Preview
Recent: 02/14/2009 QUIN 64 @RMU 69 01/08/2009 RMU 75 @QUIN 63
7:00 pm ET -  Sacred Heart 17-13 (12-6) at  Mount Saint Mary's 18-12 (12-6) | Preview
Recent: 01/17/2009 SH 67 @MSM 78 12/04/2008 MSM 75 @SH 80
Back to business in the Patriot. American administered two punishing blowouts to Army during the regular season, and Holy Cross swept its series with upstart No. 6 Colgate as well.
12:00 pm ET -  Army 11-18 (6-8) at  American 22-7 (13-1) | Preview
Recent: 02/18/2009 AMER 58 @ARMY 36 02/04/2009 ARMY 34 @AMER 58
4:00 pm ET -  Colgate 10-19 (5-9) at  Holy Cross 17-13 (11-3) | Preview
Recent: 02/25/2009 HC 60 @COLG 58 01/28/2009 COLG 44 @HC 68
With all due respect to the .500 efforts of Samford and Chattanooga, the champion of the league will most likely come out of the early game. Charleston and Davidson battled to a split in two instant classics, both shown on national television, and the Wildcats' aggregate margin was just a basket. The Cougars were also able to hold Stephen Curry to 18-for-47 shooting (38.2 percent).
6:00 pm ET - [S3] College of Charleston 25-7 (15-5) vs. [S1] Davidson 26-6 (18-2) | Preview
Recent: 02/07/2009 COFC 77 @DAV 75 12/29/2008 DAV 79 @COFC 75
8:30 pm ET - [N3] Samford 16-15 (9-11) vs. [N1] Chattanooga 16-16 (11-9) | Preview
Recent: 02/21/2009 SAMF 62 @CHAT 67 02/09/2009 CHAT 66 @SAMF 56
The other two quarterfinals get going, with the spotlight team being dangerous No. 3 Oakland. The Golden Grizzlies were stuck behind Oral Roberts and NDSU in the standings as well as the hype mill all season, mostly due to a couple of bad road trips in January, but come into the tourney on a seven-game win streak.
7:00 pm ET -  Southern Utah 10-19 (8-10) vs.  IUPUI 16-13 (9-9) | Preview
Recent: 01/29/2009 IUPUI 79 @SUU 65 01/02/2009 SUU 54 @IUPUI 59
9:30 pm ET -  IUPU-Fort Wayne 13-16 (8-10) vs.  Oakland 20-11 (13-5) | Preview
Recent: 02/14/2009 IPFW 72 @OAK 83 01/17/2009 OAK 93 @IPFW 88
The top three seeds haven't played in a week, and the low seeds are coming off their campus-site first round games all the way back on Tuesday. Western Kentucky is the No. 1 seed on tiebreakers, and they get road-warrior Florida International, which pulled out a No. 9 over 8 win at Lafayette, and has a win over the hit-and-miss Hilltoppers already this season. Arkansas-Little Rock matches up well with a seeming gimme versus down-tempo Denver, and Troy will try to oust last year's title-winner South Alabama, a team the Trojans swept in 2009.
1:30 pm ET -  Florida International 13-19 (7-11) vs.  Western Kentucky 21-8 (15-3) | Preview
Recent: 02/21/2009 FIU 66 @WKU 79 01/08/2009 WKU 79 @FIU 81
4:00 pm ET -  North Texas 19-11 (11-7) vs.  Middle Tennessee 18-13 (10-8) | Preview
Recent: 02/14/2009 NTEX 89 @MTSU 78 12/31/2008 MTSU 89 @NTEX 80
7:30 pm ET -  Denver 15-15 (9-9) vs.  Arkansas-Little Rock 22-7 (15-3) | Preview
Recent: 02/07/2009 DEN 57 @UALR 66 02/28/2008 DEN 55 @UALR 66
10:00 pm ET -  South Alabama 18-12 (10-8) vs.  Troy 19-11 (14-4) | Preview
Recent: 02/28/2009 USA 58 @TROY 63 01/15/2009 TROY 94 @USA 70
All eyes will be on the return of Patrick Mills for Saint Mary's. All sorts of questions. Is his hand okay? Will he have a good game? Will anybody else give the frontcourt credit for being really, really good? Will hot-shooting Portland, a team that blew out the Gaels two days after Mills went down, have a chance? Can I get you a beverage? Oh, Gonzaga is playing tonight too. The Zags have appeared in every WCC title game since 1998.
9:30 pm ET -  Santa Clara 16-16 (7-7) vs.  Gonzaga 24-5 (14-0) | Preview
Recent: 02/26/2009 GONZ 81 @SCL 73 01/15/2009 SCL 53 @GONZ 95
11:30 pm ET -  Portland 19-11 (9-5) vs.  Saint Mary's 23-5 (10-4) | Preview
Recent: 02/14/2009 PORT 65 @SMC 77 01/31/2009 SMC 66 @PORT 84
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