Western Athletic: Texas-El Paso 83, Nevada 80 (OT) (story)
- UTEP (11-2, 4-0 WAC) has passed its early tests against Rice
and Nevada, and have established themselves as the true team to beat in the conference. But it wasn't easy on this night, against the team with whom they shared last year's regular season championship. In front of a national ESPN2 audience, the Miners let a 24-point first-half lead slip away by allowing a 31-3 run, and needed a last-second trey from Filiberto Rivera (23 points) to force overtime. Quipped
Miner Coach Doc Sadler, "I think UTEP fans got to see two different teams tonight. The one that played defense and the one that didn't." Omar Thomas was UTEP's leading scorer with 28, and Nevada (10-4, 4-1 WAC) was led by WAC player of the week Nick Fazekas' 29 points.Shootaround!Colonial: Old Dominion
(14-2, 4-0 CAA) beat Towson
65-56 with superb field goal defense; they held the lowly Tigers to eight baskets in the first half and zero in the game's last four minutes. Drexel's
(6-6, 2-2 CAA) big man Sean Brooks is back with a vengeance (game-high 21 points), but the Dragons required a halfcourt buzzer-beater to pull out a roadie against defending conference champs Virginia Commonwealth
. Waterbug-like guard Bashir Mason was up to the task, and the final was 66-64. Mid-American: Bowling Green's
(10-2, 4-0 MAC) roll continues, as they dropped an Eastern Michigan
team that was missing its leading scorer; the Falcons haven't had a start this good since they won 11 of their first 12 games three years ago, and it's a good time to be a BGSU hoops fan
. Small forward John Reimold was the hero (24 points) as they won by a 79-63 count. Also, Western Michigan
destroyed Kent State
, 76-60, repeating the script from the MAC championship game in Cleveland 10 months ago. Western now has the second-longest home winning streak in the nation at 24, a run that started after a loss to Kent in 2003.Missouri Valley:
The top perch in the toughest mid-major league in the land is shared by two 4-0 teams: Wichita State
88-73 in a game that featured a whopping 56 fouls) and Southern Illinois
69-57, reigning MVC player of the year Darren Brooks with 18 and nine). And Indiana State
picked a good team to end its nightmare eight-game losing skid against: traditional MVC power Creighton
, who shot poorly from the line and suffered three foul-outs in a 74-72 decision.Patriot:
stumbled but did not falter at Colgate
; they let the Red Raiders rally from a 20-point deficit and needed to fight them off at the end with a free throw flurry. The Bison prevailed, 71-69.Southland:
(10-4, 2-1 SLC) beat McNeese State
at home 87-81, led by Alan Daniels and his 30 points (10-for-13 from the field). Northwestern State's
Demons (9-7, 3-0 SLC) went on the road to defeat fading Texas-Arlington
69-58; they outrebounded UTA by nine and made the Mavericks miss two-thirds of their shots.Games! Of! The! Night!
Two fantastic conference grudge matches on the docket this evening. Niagara
, the participants in last year's down-to-the-wire Metro Atlantic title game and a double-overtime semifinal thriller two years ago, meet in Jasperville at 7:00 Eastern (webcast here
). Niagara's Juan Mendez will become the highest-scoring Canadian in Division I history
if he makes his average. And in the Big West, Utah State
tangle for the first time this season at 10:00 ET (webcast here
). As USU so painfully knows, the one who doesn't win the conference tourney here doesn't get to go to the Dance.
The Mountain West Conference ranks 10th in the most recent Sagarin ratings
, behind the Missouri Valley and the West Coast conferences. Does that mean we have to start covering them here?
Mid-Majority-approved journalist and Cover Girl
Seth Davis used his "Hoop Thoughts" column to ponder the definition of "mid-major"
and how it relates to the above statistic.
I've always thought the term "mid-major" correlated to the conference RPI rankings. The first 10 leagues are "high" majors, the second 10 are "mid" majors and the last 11 are "low" majors. But that's hard to apply to the current RPI standings, which rank the West Coast Conference seventh and the Missouri Valley eighth. I may not know exactly what a "mid-major" league is, but I'm pretty sure those two qualify.
The reason I bring all this to your attention, Hoop Thinkers, is that I believe the WCC and the Missouri Valley should have at least five teams in the NCAA tournament combined.
If you have an Internet provider that "partners" with ESPN (whatever that means), you can catch a free streaming video feed
of this Saturday's Valley game between Southern Illinois and Southwest Missouri State
. All their other Saturday specials this year will be boring power conference matchups. South Carolina State
is a perennial MEAC power; the co-champions of last year's regular season were tripped up by eventual Tournament play-in game victors Florida A&M
in the tourney semifinals, on a night when the Bulldogs shot 0-of-24 from Threeland. Now they're suffering their worst losing streak in four years, and coach Benjamin Betts is trying to keep the wheels from falling off the cart.
Speaking of the MEAC, this year might mark the end of a favorite tradition of mine: the conference tournament, held in Richmond since 1998, may be moving out of town
, possibly to Baltimore or Winston-Salem, N.C.
The Sunshine Network, the finest regional sports net in America for mid-major hoops and they of the eerily similar 100 Game College Road Trip
, will rename itself "Sun" later this month
. Rest assured that this blog will not
be renaming itself "Mid" in response to this move.