Big South: Winthrop 69, Liberty 61 (story) - I'd like to introduce you to a young man named Torrell Martin. He's a 6'5" sophomore shooting guard for the Winthrop Eagles who can shoot. During the Winthrop Gauntlet - a six-day, four-game stretch from hell - Martin has been completely lights out: 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting against North Carolina-Asheville on Monday, 21 on 7-for-10 at High Point on Tuesday, and 18 on 8-of-12 last night. Yes, folks, I have a calculator and it says that Torrell is shooting 69% from the floor, and carrying weary Winthrop (18-5, 10-1 BSC, 10 straight wins) on his MMBOW-worthy back (and his surgically-repaired knee as well). This was a blowout in which the visitors eased up, so pay no attention to the scoring margin. One more to go, that's Gold Rush Night on Saturday versus middling Birmingham Southern.
Shootaround! Missouri Valley:
Using a strong second half, Wichita State
(18-3, 11-2 MVC) spanked Illinois State
on the road 76-62 and put the Redbirds back at 8-5. The Shockers still lead the league by a game over Southern Illinois
(they'll meet again in two weeks), and ISU now hovers one game over the hungry three-team pack at 7-6. Six teams still have a shot at this, but WSU - recent slight trip-up at Creighton
notwithstanding - is starting to appear unstoppable.Mid-American:
In the aftermath of Wednesday's Ball State
- Miami (Oh.)
buzzerbeater fiasco, the Cardinals have filed an official protest with the MAC
. This will likely result in no more than a few officials getting a stern talking-to, but the real issue remains. Why the $#%^ was this game, a contest with major seeding ramifications in an upwardly mobile mid-major conference, covered by three camcorders?
Teleplex director Bill Bryant said that the sports network was not broadcasting the game because they were under the impression that the game was going to be broadcast by another network. MAC Television has shown interest in the rivalry matchup for their television package and had broadcast the game the previous two seasons. After MAC-TV passed on the game, Bryant was under the impression that Miami's TV outlet would be picking up the game.Southern:
"We didn't find out until [Monday] that there was no TV coverage," Bryant said. "On Tuesday, there was some people who said 'let's do it, let's broadcast the game.' But it is a big financial commitment.
After all that buildup yesterday, we have to remember that bitterly contested matchup we spoke of. Dontaye Draper saved the College of Charleston
Cougars (15-7, 8-4 SoCon) from the upset. Despite a scorching 15-0 run to take the lead in the first half, The Military College of South Carolina (better known as The Citadel
) fell just short, 66-63. The win was doubly important because CofC took a 38-37 all-time lead in the series.Sun Belt:
In that G!O!T!N! of division leaders, Western Kentucky
(17-5, 7-3 SBC) defended their home court and the East division's honor against West-leading Denver
, 84-79. The Tops exposed holes in the Pioneers' perimeter defense, and freshman swingman sensation Courtney Lee had 18. DU is dropped to eight and two, and lost that game up on Lousiana-Lafayette
they earned last weekend - the Ragin' Cajuns beat the University of South Alabama
(a/k/a Team USA) 67-45.Games! Of! The! Weekend!
Two weeks ago, it was Shakedown Saturday. You can't really top that easily, but last week saw Really, Really Exciting Saturday. With three more meaningful Samstags to go before conference tournament time, where can you go from there? And that's when I remembered: shock value.
So tomorrow, then, will be Hot Sh*t Saturday. Notice that the asterisk is shaped like an "o", so the puritanical amongst us can simply say that it's a celebration of all the great jumpers, fadeaways, bunnys and triples we'll enjoy on HSS. Or, you can just assume that it means that other thing - hardly any of these games are going to be televised, so we don't have to worry about being yanked off the airwaves like that chesty GoDaddy commercial. But you'll just have to imagine the theme music, cutting-edge graphics and James Earl Jones narration for yourself.
America East: Vermont (18-3, 13-0 AE) at Boston University (17-5, 11-2 AE) - As reader Tim pointed out to me yesterday, this will not be up at The Roof - so don't make the reverse of the mistake that I made. This game will be played to a sold-out crowd at Agganis Arena, that new marble-white structure that greets Boston commuters as they head into the city on the Mass Pike. If Vermont passes this test (and they've already beaten BU at Patrick Gym), their dominance over the league will be capstoned. If they don't, expect to see a lot of "who are these hurly-burly anonymous Catamount-killers?" features in the Beantown press next week, which will fill the vacuum left by the Patriots and the end of Boston College's undefeated run. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30 PM ET, you can get juiced here.
Big West: Pacific (19-2, 13-0 BWC) at Utah State (18-5, 9-3 BWC) - Sadly, this will be the final regular-season chapter in what has been the finest and most hotly contested rivalry in the Big West - USU will be packing its bags for the greener and more televised pastures of the WAC next season. Remember how they both gave each other their only regular season losses last year? Remember the first meeting of this season, a double-overtime thrillride? The Tigers come into this clash as the winners of 15 straight and are "nationally regarded" by writers and coaches alike; USU is riding a seven-game streak, which includes a terrifying 77-57 beatdown of Cal State Northridge last night to take the Matadors' second place slot. It starts at 10:35 Eastern time; the game will be carried on CSTV, and here's the stream.
Colonial: Virginia Commonwealth (13-9, 9-4 CAA) at Old Dominion (22-3, 12-1 CAA) - To survive Hot Sh*t Saturday, you've gotta stay cool. In ODU's single conference loss of the season at VCU, the Monarchs seized up down the stretch and panicked when facing an eight-point deficit with four minutes to go. The defending champion Rams are looking stronger as the season goes on, and this roadie at their angry conference foes will be the ultimate litmus test. Four eastern, watch on ESPN2 or listen along here.
Mid-Eastern: Delaware State (11-9, 9-2 MEAC) at Coppin State (8-12, 8-3 MEAC) - A lot's happened since Del-State limped into 2005 with a home beating at the hands of Coppin. They've won nine of 10 since, and have leapfrogged the Eagles for first place. Now they'll travel to North Baltimore to attempt to avenge that 63-56 loss, in what will most probably serve as a preview of the MEAC championship game in Richmond next month. These two teams are clearly the class of this league. It starts at 7:30 PM Eastern, no webcast.
Southwestern Athletic: Alabama A&M (11-10, 8-3 SWAC) at Alabama State (11-9, 9-2 SWAC) - The sold-out J.L. Reed Acadome is the place to be, to watch an intrastate rivalry with first place on the line. A&M won the first meeting at the Bulldogs' house, and no matter what happens here, the Hornets will always have the State's number in SWAC bowling. Game will start at around 5:00, after the completion of the women's game. No webcast.
Western Athletic: Nevada (16-5, 10-2 WAC) at Texas-El Paso (17-5, 9-3 WAC) - For mid-major game of the year, it's between that USU-Pacific game and the first meeting between these two schools, the Miners' improbable rally from 24 points down to beat the Wolf Pack at their gym on national teevee. Lucky for us, both rematches happen on the same day. UTEP will attempt to regain a share of first, and gain the tiebreaker with a sweep. No television this time, but you can pay for a webcast.