Western Athletic: Tulsa 65, Texas-El Paso 54 (story) - The Golden Hurricane (5-14, 2-8 WAC), playing for nothing but pride, had this one in hand early on, leading by as many as 17 in the first half. UTEP made their run, but the knife-twist was delivered with two minutes to go and Tulsa leading 56-53: TU's Jarius Glenn hit a three-pointer with a second left on the shot clock, off an inbound. UTEP falls to seven and three and Nevada now has first place to themselves - the Pack beat Southern Methodist last night, 73-59.Ohio Valley: Samford 64, Tennessee Tech 57 (story) - Boosted by the sexy presence of a reality TV star behind the bench, Samford (12-8, 7-2 OVC) raised their ratings and took a share of the conference lead (emphasis added solely to highlight my incredibly funny puns). A brother of said personality, J. Robert Merritt, was the star of the show by scoring 23 points and grabbing eight boards. We don't know who will win Jen's heart yet, but we know that there's a three-way tie at the top of the Ohio Valley Conference at 7-2. That third one-seed suitor is Murray State, who climbs up to first as well - they beat Eastern Illinois last night.
Thursday saw a seismic shift in the one-seed race, thanks to a couple of big game-winning jumpers. Gardner-Webb
(11-9, 8-5 ASun), who's been leading for most of the season so far, fell in dramatic fashion at home to middling Georgia State
70-68. The Panthers came from 14 down and Herman Favors hit a buzzer-beating bunny, and the Bulldogs' 10-game home streak is history. Add Belmont's
70-69 home squeaker over Stetson
(Justin Hare hit the winner for the Bruins) and Mercer's
83-77 win at oh-and-13 Campbell
, and you've got yourself a three-way tie at 8-5.Big Sky:
The Portland State
Vikings (15-6, 7-2 BSky) head into their second week at the top of the countdown, they're number one with a bullet after taking out Northern Arizona
84-81 for their third straight win. Seamus Boxley, an early MMBOW candidate if ever there was one, scored a career high 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Montana State's
Grizzlies (11-9, 6-2 BSky) hold on to 2 with their top-tapping hit single " Idaho State
Bengals (Are Delicious)" (71-54). Defending champs and recently surging Eastern Washington
lost a few points on the SoundScan by losing at Sacramento State
, 83-72. They're back to five and three.Big West:
The big news in the Big West is Pacific
(17-2, 11-0 BWC), of course - they zotted the California-Irvine
Anteaters 71-61 to keep that perfect feeling and win their 13th straight. David Doubley, , led the Tigers with 21 points. But back there in the distance are some old buddies - Utah State
is beginning to right itself after their (relatively) rough league start. The Aggies (16-5, 7-3 BWC) have won five straight, and destroyed Cal Poly
81-57. Yes! You have our attention back! Mid-American: Miami (Oh.)
(13-5, 8-2 MAC) has quickly gone from wack to MAC, running off a five-game streak to break the East division race open. Last night, they went into Toledo
and showed off their "extreme makeover," 76-64. Reigning MMBOW Danny Horace
had 14 points and a career-high five assists. Western Michigan
(15-6, 8-3 MAC) is still teh sexy though, they lead the West by a half-game over Ball State
. Both won gimmees last night against Great Lake State compass points.Mid-Eastern:
The Stingin' Hornets of Delaware State
(10-9, 8-2 MEAC) only had one day off to recuperate from their travel problem-plagued road trip, but they were able to hold off the visiting Howard
Bison, 69-60. They're on a six-game tear and are a half-game up on idle Coppin State
; tomorrow they'll face off against the worst Division I team in America, Maryland-Eastern Shore
(1-16, 0-8 MEAC).Mid-Continent:
Yadda yadda yadda, Missouri-Kansas City
(11-7, 9-0 Mid-Con), yadda yadda eleven games in a row yadda Carlton Aaron double-double yadda yadda 83-76 yadda Oakland
. Oral Roberts
(15-5, 7-2 Mid-Con) is still two games behind the masters of the Mid-Con domain, but the Golden Eagles find themselves close-talking to our long-lost friends Valparaiso
; Valpo (10-12, 6-3 Mid-Con) has won three straight after beating rival IUPUI
64-61 at Conseco Fieldhouse in front of 2,277 fans, which is more people than saw Rochelle, Rochelle: The Musical.Games! Of! The! Weekend!
Awwwww yeah boyy, It's about that time. There aren't as many key games this Saturday as there were six days ago, and nary a "shakedown" to be found. But that won't keep this from being Really, Really Exciting Saturday!
Atlantic Sun: Mercer (12-7, 8-5 ASun) at Gardner-Webb (11-9, 8-5 ASun) - As seen in a preceding paragraph, here are two of your Atlantic Sun co-leaders - G-Webb will try and start a new home winning streak in Buies Creek, against a team that scores in the Eighties but gives up their fair share of points too. Mercer won the first meeting, 74-69. Tip's at 2:00 PM Eastern, listen here.
Southern: Davidson (12-7, 10-0 SoCon) at North Carolina-Greensboro (12-7, 6-3 SoCon) - Davidson has beaten all comers in the SoCon so far, including preseason divisional favorites Chattanooga and Charleston, both at home. Now they'll go on the road to play the other surging team in the league, the Spartans of UNCG, who followed up a Shakedown Saturday win over Chattanooga with an red-faced loss at lowly Elon. The game starts at 7:00 PM ET, and you can listen along here.
Sun Belt: Louisiana-Lafayette (12-7, 7-1 SBC) at Denver (12-7, 7-1 SBC) The East race has reverted to sorting-itself-out mode, but we've got a chance for clarity at the top of the West division. The three-time defending Sun Belt champion Ragin' Cajuns are winners of seven straight and have finally caught up with surprising Denver, who beat ULL 72-67 at the Cajundome and was undefeated until a loss to New Orleans last weekend. If you have Fox Sports Rocky Mountain, you can watch this one at 8:00 PM Eastern.
Western Athletic: Louisiana Tech (10-8, 6-4 WAC) at Nevada (14-5, 8-2 WAC) - After a 1-4 start, rebounding machine and former MMBOW Paul Millsap and his Bulldogs have reeled off four straight. Now they get to see if they can avenge a 64-46 Nevada win in Ruston and knock off the first-place Pack on the road. Ten p.m. Eastern, here's the webcast.
The central tenet of The Mid-Majority philosophy is that two teams, evenly matched, will produce an entertaining basketball game. But I operate under no false pretenses, I know why America doesn't have mid-major basketball fever.
The reason why mid-majors are ignored has nothing to do with the quality of games, and everything to do with the fact that the average college basketball fan wants to see the big-name programs, the big-name players and the big-time plays. And they get them - that's why Illinois and North Carolina capture the public imagination and the "eyeballs," and Illinois-Chicago and North Carolina-Wilmington only draw a couple thousand people to their games and have to resort to dumb gimmicks to draw interest.
But even the most Six-Pack of Joes knows a bad basketball game when they see it. If one team is up by 25 points with five minutes to go, they go watch something else or they're out of the arena to beat the traffic. If it's close down the stretch, they stay glued to the action. So, for the purposes of this argument, a "good college basketball game" has nothing to do with whether it's on ESPN or not, or the star players' stock in the NBA futures market. A good game is one that finishes close. Just ask The Official Wife Of The Mid-Majority™ - when we go to games together, her enjoyment is in inverse proportion to the final score's margin.
So I was wondering: which league produces the "best" games? A rough, but reliable, estimate can be based on the average margin of victory in conference contests. Not to get all Ken Pomeroy on you, but I ran the numbers. Included here are the average victory margin (AVM) of all conference games so far, number of games played to date, as well as the number of close games (scoring margins of five or fewer) and blowouts (for our purposes, 16 or more). Percentages are given so you can figure how likely you are to see a blowout or a close one. This table includes all 2004-05 conference games up to February 3rd.
|AVM||Conference||Games||Close (-5)||Blowouts (+16)|
|07.27|| Southwestern Athletic||36||7 (19%)||2 (6%)|
|08.61|| Big East||47||11 (23%)||4 (9%)|
|09.09|| Missouri Valley||55||10 (18%)||6 (11%)|
|09.19|| Southland||42||12 (29%)||5 (12%)|
|09.21|| Metro Atlantic||52||9 (17%)||8 (15%)|
|09.29|| Western Athletic||47||9 (19%)||7 (15%)|
|09.31|| Sun Belt||44||11 (25%)||7 (16%)|
|09.35|| Atlantic Sun||71||17 (24%)||10 (14%)|
|09.63|| Big South||38||11 (29%)||7 (18%)|
|10.00|| Big Sky||33||5 (15%)||5 (15%)|
|10.16|| Mid-American||68||13 (19%)||8 (12%)|
|10.49|| Southern||55||12 (22%)||11 (20%)|
|10.53|| Mid-Continent||39||12 (31%)||4 (10%)|
|10.59|| Northeast||54||17 (31%)||9 (17%)|
|10.92|| Ohio Valley||50||11 (22%)||7 (14%)|
|11.13|| Mid-Eastern||51||16 (31%)||6 (12%)|
|11.16|| Mountain West||24||5 (21%)||3 (12%)|
|11.58|| Colonial||55||12 (22%)||13 (24%)|
|11.61|| West Coast||31||7 (23%)||6 (19%)|
|11.84|| Big 12||44||9 (20%)||8 (18%)|
|11.86|| Big West||51||14 (27%)||9 (18%)|
|11.93|| Pac-10||49||18 (37%)||10 (20%)|
|11.95|| Big Ten||43||11 (26%)||7 (16%)|
|12.16|| Ivy League||12||1 (8%)||4 (33%)|
|12.32|| Horizon||46||12 (26%)||12 (26%)|
|12.57|| Atlantic 10||47||15 (32%)||8 (17%)|
|12.60|| Patriot League||28||3 (11%)||10 (36%)|
|12.80|| Atlantic Coast||45||14 (31%)||6 (13%)|
|12.92|| Conference USA||56||15 (27%)||10 (18%)|
|13.14|| America East||55||21 (38%)||10 (18%)|
|13.42|| Southeastern||45||11 (24%)||9 (20%)|
Yeah, that's what I said too. The SWAC, that derided league of perceived mediocrity, that perpetual resident of the conference RPI basement, sports the lowest average final score margin. The average SWAC game is likely to retain its audience for forty minutes... if folks can find one, that is. And Satan's Evil Conference? Well, we already knew that it sucked - here's more proof.
Inside the numbers, the America East Conference has a high average victory margin (thanks, Vermont), but you're most likely to see a close game (38%). The Missouri Valley has been tough across the board all year - this is just another number to back that up. We can also see the effect of having a couple of Service Academies in the Patriot League: when you enter the arena on a Friday night, there's a 36% chance you'll be looking at your watch during the second half, wondering if you can still catch Joan Of Arcadia.
Nothing thrills me quite like going to a message board and reading critiques of this site that go something like, "Too many goofy cartoons and dewy features, and not enough 'bracketology' and hard, raw statistics. The Mid-Majority is pretty useless." I can only hope that I've redeemed myself here in your eyes, and restored just a tiny smidgen of my geek cred. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go draw a cartoon.