Big West: Pacific 66, Cal State Northridge 62 (story) - The Tigers (15-2, 10-0 BWC) proved last night that they are not only Mad, but Beyond Matadome as well. They marched into Northridge and held off a late run by the perennial upstart Matadors (9-9, 7-3 BWC), who sunk further into second place. Like a lot of sequels, this game had a similar plot to the unexpected title game matchup in Anaheim last March: UOP held off a fierce rally by CSN and won by a tight margin. All-Everything Pacific six-niner Christian Maraker led the house with 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting.West Coast: San Francisco 62, Santa Clara 60 (story) - USF's (13-6, 4-2 WCC) resurgence has been undermined somewhat by road woes, but an Alan Wiggins baseline jumper with half-a-tick left helped fix all that for now. Don star guard John Cox got some pregame Philadelphonic love from his pops, and put up 21 at the cross-Bay rival Broncos' house. There's now a three-way tie for second in the WCC at four and two, they're all chasing 5-1 St. Mary's.
Defending league winners Eastern Washington
(7-12, 4-2 BSky) have been kicked around pretty good this season, but they're beginning to slowly rise again like that weird bird made out of letters that serves as their logo. After a 64-50 win over Montana State
on their home floor that ruined the Bobcats' (10-8, 5-1 BSky) perfect league record, they're back in the thick of things. Senior forward Mark Axton, one of last year's big Eagle heroes, had 18 points and keyed an early game-breaking EWU run.Sun Belt:
In that cross-Arkie clash last night, big Indian juco-transfer guard Jerry Nicholls' 23 helped Arkansas State
beat Arkansas-Little Rock
78-64. ASU takes a one-game lead in the East; it was their first win in Little Rock in four years. Out in the West, Denver
(11-6, 6-0 SBC) stayed Rocky Mountain High by beating Team USA - umm, South Alabama
- by a 72-67 margin. Once again, it was their big guys who ran the show: Antonio Porch (25 and 11) and Yemi Nicholson (20 and 10) both double-doubled.
We know how googly-woogly those other
sites are getting about certain undefeated teams
, but we still have some perfect (league) seasons going on here in The Mid-Majority. Along with Denver's 6-0 mark, Vermont
of the America East is 9-0; their 11th straight overall was a 71-44 binging of Binghamton
. Pacific kept their Big West record zestfully clean, as noted above. There is, of course, 7-0 UMKC in the Mid-Con, and 6-0 Monmouth of the NEC (more on both of them later). Bucknell
carries a 5-0 mark and 11 straight wins into its Patriot League weekend at American
.Games! Of! The! Weekend!
No Dribblings tomorrow so your humble narrator can enjoy some "us time" with The Official Wife Of The Mid-Majority™, so it's time to preview this weekend's slate of hot mid-major action.
And what a slate it is. No less than seven battles at the tops of conferences, as tourney seeds begin to fall into line. In fact, you might just go ahead and call this... Shakedown Saturday!!!
Missouri Valley: Illinois State (13-5, 6-3 MVC) at Wichita State (15-2, 6-1 MVC) - The Redbirds are back on the MVC map after a few years off, and the surprise third-place team is looking to make their biggest splash of the season yet: a takedown of mighty Wichita on the road. WSU is getting some serious Jeff Shelman love at the WWLIS, but they really can't afford another slip if they want to stay inked onto the "bulletproof" at-large list going into March. The Shockers' losses to Manhattan and Indiana State look progressively worse RPI-wise as the seasons of those two teams grow dimmer. 7:00 PM Eastern, you can listen along here.
Shake down! Break down! Take down!
Mid-Continent: Missouri-Kansas City (9-7, 7-0 Mid-Con) at Oral Roberts (14-4, 6-1 Mid-Con) - UMKC is starting to get some national pub for its streak (look at their record for a clue), but the perceived team of Mid-Con destiny looms. ORU prepared for this homecourt rumble by enjoying a tasty IUPUI-flavored snack last night, winning 86-72. 8:00 PM Eastern, here's the webcast.
Everybody wants into the crowded light!
Southern: Chattanooga (13-3, 6-1 SoCon) at North Carolina-Greensboro (11-6, 5-2 SoCon) - Chattanooga has won 12 of 13, and would be seen as streakmasters if not for a record-breaking 104-87 trey-fest at Georgia Southern last week. Greensboro is coming back from two years in the dumps, and a home win here would get them a slice of first place and some dreams of the Dance. 7:00 Eastern, listen along here.
Break down! Take down! You're busted!
Southland: Southeastern Louisiana (12-6, 5-1 SLC) at Texas-San Antonio (9-7, 4-1 SLC) - This is a rematch of last year's title game that saw the Roadrunners snatch SELU's Dance card in humid Hammond, LA. This is a much better SELU team than last year's: their defense is nothing short of ferocious (55.8 points a game allowed, and the 19th most efficient in the entire country) and it's ripped through the Southland's top offenses. But will they score enough points? They had their worst shooting performance of the year last night versus Texas State, but still won 51-39. This game will likely be played somewhere in the fifties. Or perhaps the forties! Webcast here; tip time will be about 5 p.m. ET, but there's a women's game at 3 so it might be a little later. There's your old-school right there.
Let down! Your guard, honey!
Big Sky: Montana State at Portland State (13-6, 5-2 BSky) - These two were generally picked in the sixth-eighth range when the season started, but the slips by the league's recent heavies ( Weber State, Eastern Washington) have put the turvy to the topsy. Once again, top seed means you host the conference title game on your home floor. 11:30 PM Eastern is the tip, SportsJuice.Com provides the juice.
Just about the time you think that it's alright...
Northeast: Monmouth (7-8, 6-0 NEC) at Fairleigh Dickinson (10-8, 6-1 NEC) - Rangy, bug-eyed forward Blake Hamilton shook off his broken foot and picked up his game at the right time - after a horrendous 2004, the defending champeen Monmouth Hawks have streaked through 2005. As with many of the smaller leagues, a one-seed going into the NEC tournament means you get to play the final game at home (if you make it that far). Monmouth has fresh memories of that kind of thing, having earned its 2004 Dance ticket at comfy Boylan. 7:00 PM Eastern, and you can listen live.
Break down! Take down! You're busted!
Mid-American: Miami (Oh.) (11-5, 6-2 MAC) at Akron (12-5, 6-3 MAC) - Miami comes off a stirring home cross-division whomp over Western Michigan, which clarified the East picture somewhat - now they'd like to put some daylight between them and their division neighbors. The Zips come in having won five in a row, including a home beatdown of Ball State the other day. Akron's had problems on the road so far, and Millett Hall is a house of horror for opposing teams - just ask Western. This is a bonus Shakedown Saturday game which will actually be played on Sunday, but it was too good to leave out: two p.m. Eastern is the start time. No free webcast, but you can use the "Gametracker".
Lastly, congratulations to the Western Athletic Conference, who will be re-graduating from mid-major land next year. The WAC will return to the big-time world of oft-televised hoops with a new ESPN contract. If this website exists next season, we won't be covering the likes of Rice, Texas-El Paso and Hawaii. We wish them well, and roll out the red carpet for the RPI-challenged league they will be replacing on "Big Monday" (and the one that tried to effectively big-league the WAC six years ago by breaking ranks). Welcome, Mountain West Conference, to The Mid-Majority. Don't worry, you'll like it here.