KINGSTON, R.I. -- The stars are beginning to flicker and burn out in the elimination games. For others, it's far from over. Here, one final look at the remaining league regular season races as we move towards getting all the rest of the Other 25 conferences in the gate and ready for bracket time. It's a long, long road.
Atlantic 14 1. XU 13-1; 2. TU 12-2; 3. RICH 11-3; 4. URI 9-5 DUQ 9-5; 6. GW 8-6; 7. UD 7-7 MASS 7-7 BONA 7-7; 10. LAS 5-9 SLU 5-9; 12. SJU 3-11; 13. CHAR 2-12; 14. FORD 0-14 Xavier - 3/2 CHAR 3/5 at SLU Temple - 3/2 at MASS 3/5 LAS Richmond - 3/2 at SJU 3/5 DUQ Rhode Island - 3/2 GW 3/5 at BONA Duquesne - 3/2 BONA 3/5 at RICH George Washington - 3/2 at URI 3/5 UD Dayton - 3/2 SLU 3/5 at GW Massachusetts - 3/2 TU 3/5 at FORD Saint Bonaventure - 3/2 at DUQ 3/5 URI La Salle - 3/2 FORD 3/5 at TU Saint Louis - 3/2 at UD 3/5 XU Saint Joseph's - 3/2 RICH 3/5 at CHAR Charlotte - 3/2 at XU 3/5 SJU Fordham - 3/2 at LAS 3/5 MASS
Two games to go for everybody, and then the battle for the Atlantic One begins in Atlantic City. (The offer for free lifetime Basketball State to anyone who puts together a full version of our 2009 demo still stands.) There's still an outside chance for current Atlantic One Temple to earn the top seed, but the real pressure points are at the No. 4 and the No. 12. Rhode Island can put themselves in a good spot for a first-round bye with a win tonight against George Washington (we'll be there). Down at the bottom, Saint Joseph's is one game up on Charlotte for the final playoff spot, and the Hawks need to upset Richmond to completely avoid a win-or-go-home situation this weekend.
Big Sky 1. NOCO 12-3; 2. UMT 12-4; 3. WEB 11-4; 4. NAU 8-7; 5. MTST 6-9 EWU 6-9; 7. POST 5-10; 8. IDST 4-11 SAC 4-11 Northern Colorado - 3/2 SAC Montana - Weber State - 3/2 EWU Northern Arizona - 3/2 POST Montana State - 3/2 IDST Eastern Washington - 3/2 at WEB Portland State - 3/2 at NAU Idaho State - 3/2 at MTST Sacramento State - 3/2 at NOCO
The Sky seeds will be finalized late tonight. The six qualifiers are decided (Portland State, Idaho State and Sacramento State are the walking dead), and the host of the tournament is still TBA. Northern Colorado, in its seventh year of Division I membership, can win its first-ever BSC title tonight with a win over the last-place Hornets; a loss would throw things to tiebreakers. Figuring out Nos. 5 and 6 might require paperwork as well.
Big West 1. LBSU 13-2; 2. POLY 10-5; 3. PAC 8-6 CSN 8-6; 5. UCSB 7-8; 6. UCI 6-9; 7. UCR 5-9 CSF 5-9; 9. UCD 3-11 Long Beach State - 3/2 at UCR Cal Poly - 3/5 at UCSB Pacific - 3/3 CSF 3/5 CSN Cal State Northridge - 3/3 at UCD 3/5 at PAC California-Santa Barbara - 3/5 POLY California-Irvine - 3/5 at UCR California-Riverside - 3/2 LBSU 3/5 UCI Cal State Fullerton - 3/3 at PAC 3/5 at UCD California-Davis - 3/3 CSN 3/5 CSF
Long Beach State has run away with the league title, and UC Davis' star has burnt out. The eight-team tournament will commence next week in Anaheim, and all that's left to figure out is the seed order. UCSB, the defending champions, are relatively locked in at No. 5 and have one game left. But their home finale against Cal Poly is important for other reasons.
Conference USA 1. UAB 10-4; 2. USM 9-5 MEM 9-5 UTEP 9-5 TULS 9-5; 6. MRSH 8-6 SMU 8-6; 8. ECU 7-7; 9. UCF 5-9; 10. HOU 4-10 RICE 4-10; 12. TUL 2-12 UAB - 3/2 at USM 3/5 ECU Southern Mississippi - 3/2 UAB 3/5 at TULS Memphis - 3/2 at ECU 3/5 TUL Texas-El Paso - 3/2 MRSH 3/5 at SMU Tulsa - 3/2 at RICE 3/5 USM Marshall - 3/2 at UTEP 3/5 UCF Southern Methodist - 3/2 at UCF 3/5 UTEP East Carolina - 3/2 MEM 3/5 at UAB Central Florida - 3/2 SMU 3/5 at MRSH Houston - 3/2 at TUL 3/5 RICE Rice - 3/2 TULS 3/5 at HOU Tulane - 3/2 HOU 3/5 at MEM
Two to go in C-USA (including tonight's G!O!T!N!), and there's not only a four-way tie for second place, but seven teams are still in contention for at least a share of the league regular season title. All 12 teams get together in El Paso next week.
Great West 1. UVU 10-1; 2. NJIT 8-2; 3. SDAK 6-4 NDAK 6-4; 5. CST 3-8; 6. HBU 2-8; 7. UTPA 1-9 Utah Valley - 3/3 at NJIT New Jersey Tech - 3/3 UVU 3/5 CST South Dakota - 3/3 at UTPA 3/5 at HBU North Dakota - 3/3 at HBU 3/5 at UTPA Chicago State - 3/5 at NJIT Houston Baptist - 3/3 NDAK 3/5 SDAK Texas-Pan American - 3/3 SDAK 3/5 NDAK
You can never say enough about the Great West. We sure don't. But down the stretch of the regular season, two turnaround stories up top. Utah Valley had 12 wins overall last season, and NJIT had just 10. Both may end up with more league victories in 2011. All seven teams will go to Orem, Utah for the second annual event, with a berth in a lesser national tournament on the line. For Pan American, the experience may be more punishment than anything else. But last year's event featured two first-round upsets (a 5/4 and a 6/3), so anything's possible.
Ivy League 1. PRIN 10-1; 2. HARV 10-2; 3. YALE 7-5; 4. PENN 6-5; 5. COLU 5-7; 6. BRWN 4-8 CORN 4-8; 8. DART 1-11 Princeton - 3/4 at DART 3/5 at HARV 3/8 at PENN Harvard - 3/4 PENN 3/5 PRIN Yale - 3/4 at COLU 3/5 at CORN Pennsylvania - 3/4 at HARV 3/5 at DART 3/8 PRIN Columbia - 3/4 YALE 3/5 BRWN Brown - 3/4 at CORN 3/5 at COLU Cornell - 3/4 BRWN 3/5 YALE Dartmouth - 3/4 PRIN 3/5 PENN
Only two aspirants remain. Friday's Harvard-Princeton game, which would either clarify the race to the breaking point of completion or put it on a path to an Ivy playoff, is inspiring online ticket brokers to charge $250 for single general admission seats. For a college basketball game. In Boston.
MEAC 1. BETH 12-3; 2. HAMP 10-5 MORG 10-5 COPP 10-5; 5. NCAT 9-6; 6. FAMU 7-8 NORF 7-8; 8. DEST 5-10; 9. SCST 5-11; 10. UMES 4-11 HOW 4-11 Bethune-Cookman - 3/3 FAMU Hampton - 3/3 at HOW Morgan State - 3/3 at COPP Coppin State - 3/3 MORG North Carolina A&T - 3/3 at NORF Florida A&M - 3/3 at BETH Norfolk State - 3/3 NCAT Delaware State - 3/3 at UMES South Carolina State - Maryland-Eastern Shore - 3/3 DEST Howard - 3/3 HAMP
Bethune-Cookman, which once went three decades without a winning record, won the regular season title for the first time. There's one more round on Thursday, then everyone goes on to Winston-Salem. The No. 2 seed is somewhat crucial, because the Nos. 3 and 4 have to play Thursday quarterfinals and face a one-day turnaround for the Friday semis. The top two seeds go Wednesday, and get a day's worth of rest and scouting time.
Mid-American East - 1. KENT 11-4; 2. MIO 10-4; 3. AKR 9-6 OHIO 9-6; 5. BUFF 7-7; 6. BGSU 7-8 West - 1. BSU 9-5 WMU 9-5; 3. CMU 7-8; 4. NIU 4-10 EMU 4-10; 6. TOL 1-14 Kent State - 3/4 AKR Miami (Oh.) - 3/2 at BUFF 3/4 OHIO Akron - 3/4 at KENT Ohio - 3/4 at MIO Buffalo - 3/2 MIO 3/5 at BGSU Bowling Green - 3/5 BUFF Ball State - 3/2 at WMU 3/5 NIU Western Michigan - 3/2 BSU 3/5 at CMU Central Michigan - 3/5 WMU Northern Illinois - 3/2 EMU 3/5 at BSU Eastern Michigan - 3/2 at NIU 3/5 TOL Toledo - 3/5 at EMU
The division winners are given the top two seeds, and the game now is to avoid No. 5. The bottom eight seeds play a campus-site first round this weekend, while the top four go directly to Cleveland. With two games to go, there are too many possibilities to cover in this limited space. Ohio's blowout win over Akron last night gives the Bobcats a clear tiebreaker advantage (season sweep), so that might end up being the difference between kicking some No. 12 seed ass, or kicking back.
Southland East - 1. MCN 10-4; 2. NWSU 9-5; 3. NICH 7-7 SELU 7-7; 5. LAM 6-8; 6. UCA 1-13 West - 1. TXST 10-4; 2. SFA 9-5; 3. SAMH 8-6; 4. UTSA 7-7 UTA 7-7; 6. TAMC 3-11 McNeese State - 3/2 SELU 3/5 LAM Northwestern State - 3/2 at NICH 3/5 SFA Nicholls State - 3/2 NWSU 3/5 at SELU Southeastern Louisiana - 3/2 at MCN 3/5 NICH Lamar - 3/2 TXST 3/5 at MCN Central Arkansas - 3/2 at UTSA 3/5 TAMC Texas State - 3/2 at LAM 3/5 at SAMH Stephen F. Austin - 3/2 SAMH 3/5 at NWSU Sam Houston State - 3/2 at SFA 3/5 TXST Texas-San Antonio - 3/2 UCA 3/5 at UTA Texas-Arlington - 3/2 at TAMC 3/5 UTSA Texas A&M-Corpus Christi - 3/2 UTA 3/5 at UCA
Two to go here as well, and McNeese and Texas State are a full game up on their respective divisions. They are your likely top two seeds. Four teams will stay home next week, and while two are done for (Central Arkansas and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi), the other two could be any of a set of five. With the two eliminateds playing each other, that makes nearly every other of this weekend's games exciting, passionate, live-or-die stuff.
SWAC 1. TXSO 14-2; 2. JSU 11-5; 3. MVSU 11-6; 4. ALAM 10-6 ALST 10-6; 6. UAPB 7-10; 7. GRAM 6-10; 8. PVAM 5-11; 9. ALC 4-12; 10. SOU 3-13 Texas Southern - 3/3 SOU 3/5 ALC Jackson State - 3/3 ALST 3/5 ALAM Mississippi Valley State - 3/3 UAPB Alabama A&M - 3/3 at GRAM 3/5 at JSU Alabama State - 3/3 at JSU 3/5 at GRAM Arkansas-Pine Bluff - 3/3 at MVSU Grambling - 3/3 ALAM 3/5 ALST Prairie View - 3/3 ALC 3/5 SOU Alcorn State - 3/3 at PVAM 3/5 at TXSO Southern - 3/3 at TXSO 3/5 at PVAM
The SWAC has no teams in the Dallas area, but why not have the tournament in Garland? Why not. Follow the countdown timer and check out the eerily familiar cutaway bracket graphic (seriously, it's an honor... AOUEOU). Texas Southern has owned the 2011 regular season title for a couple weeks now, but there's still drama at the eight spot. The ninth and tenth place teams won't be making the trip.
Western Athletic 1. USU 13-1; 2. BOIS 9-6; 3. NMSU 8-6; 4. ID 8-7; 5. HAW 7-7 NEV 7-7; 7. SJSU 5-9 FRES 5-9; 9. LTU 2-12 Utah State - 3/2 at NMSU 3/5 at LTU Boise State - 3/5 SJSU New Mexico State - 3/2 USU 3/5 NEV Idaho - 3/3 FRES Hawaii - 3/3 at SJSU 3/5 at FRES Nevada - 3/3 at LTU 3/5 at NMSU San Jose State - 3/3 HAW 3/5 at BOIS Fresno State - 3/3 at ID 3/5 HAW Louisiana Tech - 3/3 NEV 3/5 USU
We know who's going to the eight-team WAC-off, and La Tech won't be. Actually, come to think of it, that's not a very good name for next week's event. The Utah State Invitational -- it can't be called anything else after a five (or six?) game standings gap -- still needs some seeding clarification in the midsection, and San Jose State and Fresno State have to fight each other to avoid from being chewed up like so many cheese curds in the first round.
UAB at Southern Mississippi (Conference USA) Reed Green Coliseum - Hattiesburg, MS 7:00 EST UAB is all alone in first in Conference USA. Has it really been five years since the Blazers made it to the NCAA Tournament? Though the three-letter team has posted gaudy records every season since 2008, they tend to end up in a three-letter tournament. With a 20-7 mark (10-4 in the league), an RPI of 31 and a selection sheet with a lot of red on the left side (0-5 versus the top 50, average RPI win: 168), they have a lot of "work to do," as the bracketologists say. We all have work to do.
Mike Davis, the accidental heir apparent to the Knight empire in Bloomington, did plenty of work in his six years as Indiana head coach -- but it wasn't good enough for the locals. After a 115-79 overall record, he was let go and landed at UAB in 2006. He's won 213 games there against 131 losses, but still hasn't led the program to the NCAA Tournament. Some people call these things "expectations," but "perceived entitlement" is a better descriptor. Either way, the Blazers are good this year and could make a run. It's a slow-down, hardscrabble team with no great strengths or weaknesses, they just grind out wins. And they have a 6-foot-10 junior named Cameron Moore who pulls down nearyl 10 boards per game and has notched 12 double-doubles so far.
Nobody asked me, but I think Southern Miss (21-7, 9-5) is the best team in this conference this year. My computer says so, their 75-71 win at UAB a month ago suggests it, my #pixelvision viewing does too, even though the raw stats don't. In a league where every team has a gaping flaw, the Golden Eagles' is defensive guard play. They don't stop the three (allowing 41.7 percent in league play... ouch), and they don't force turnovers. But they do have the best efficiency in Conference USA at 1.07 points per trip, and they make up for their arc-related lapses by taking great care of the ball (17.1 percent turnover rate) and rebounding the crap out of it too (57.1 percent rebounding, seventh in the nation). USM has a 6-foot-8 go-to guy in senior Gary Flowers (19.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, seven double-doubles) who generally stays out of foul trouble (though they lose whenever he gets five). Exciting times in Hattiesburg, as the previous five seasons of the Larry Eustachy regime haven't yielded anything better than a No. 5 seed and lost Marches.
Any Google search for the man will turn up poor judgement pictures of him with coeds at Iowa State from back in 2003, and as such he was one of the first victims of the online sportz machine. That'll be in his first graf forever, and he's destined to be both a joke and a punchline for as long as he lives. Two years ago, he gave back $25,000 of his salary to Southern Miss because he didn't think he did a good enough job. If and when the G'Eagles make the NCAA Tournament, make sure you throw that into your stories too. Conference USA: Redemption USA. Basketball State Preview/Box