Atlantic Sun: Central Florida 58, Gardner-Webb 55 (story)
- G-Webb (15-11, 12-7 ASun), who finished ninth and out of the conference tournament last year, could have clinched the regular-season title and the tourney one-seed right there on their home floor. The Runnin' Bulldogs From Boiling Springs came roaring back from a sharp halftime deficit, but defending A-Sun champions UCF (19-8, 12-7 ASun) didn't let them pass, instead forging a first-place tie. Golden Knight bench hero Justin Rose scored 15, a total which included the last bucket of the game with 30 seconds left.
So instead of providing clarity to a conference in which the teams in the top eight positions all have winning records, it's just as muddled and muddy as ever heading into next week's conference tournament. "I think next week is going to be a war every single night," Webb coach Rick Scruggs told
the Shelby Star
. "It wouldn't surprise me if the eight seed, whoever that is, won the whole thing."
Just so you know, the Atlantic Sun tiebreaker scheme goes like this: if the season series can't resolve things, they go to won-loss record against the top-ranked team not in the tie; they go down the line until a team can be found that provides a season-sweep advantage for one or the other tied schools (an impossibility if you make it all the way down to potential 0-20 Campbell
). Failing that, there's the third tiebreaker: heads or tails. With seven teams logjamming in the .500 area heading into the final regular-season weekend, I'm predicting that the conference will have to break out the ol' commemorative coin to settle at least one or two of these deadlocks.Shootaround!Sun Belt:
Cue up Also Sprach Zarathustra
; the careful, swooping orbits of the Sun Belt's top teams would go great with the sunrise scene in 2001
. We have ties again at the top of both divisions. In the East, it's at 9-4: Western Kentucky
topped Middle Tennessee State
85-83 on Big Red Senior Night, while Arkansas-Little Rock
beat hapless New Mexico State 75-69. Louisiana-Lafayette
went down hard to Arkansas State
, while Denver
regained a share of the lead at 11-3 by thrashing South Alabama
68-46. As sure as the sun sets in the West, Little Rock and Denver still hold the tiebreakers.Game! Of! The! Night!
In the Ivy, Pennsylvania
(15-8, 8-1 Ivy) heads to Cornell
(10-12, 6-4 Ivy). A Quaker win here against the second-place Big Red would all but salt away the conference, as they will have opened up a 3 1/2-game lead on second place with four games remaining. And you know, it's possible that we might see our first punched Dance ticket of the year by the end of the weekend. The tipoff is at 7:00 Eastern, and here's a webcast
.Games! Of! The! Weekend!
After Bracket Buster Saturday
, all the good names have officially been taken. Earlier in the season, we had Shakedown Saturday
, Really, Really Exciting Saturday
, and then Hot Sh*t Saturday
. Now that it appears that most of the one-seeds are wrapped up or will be settled by way of scoreboard-watching, the best I can come up with is Fill In The Blank Saturday
. Please e-mail me if you have any suggestions for a better name for tomorrow's action-packed slate.
And we do indeed have four great Saturday showdowns with all sorts of implications. Here they are:Missouri Valley: Wichita State (19-6, 12-4 MVC) at Southern Illinois (23-6, 13-3 MVC)
- SIU comes into this game as winners of six straight, and their last loss was to these very same Shockers. This is Wichita's last-ditch effort to stay Bubbly, and a drop here would smash all remaining MVC three-bid scenarios. A Wichita win, and they'd be in line for the comfy Arch Madness one-seed by virtue of a season sweep of the Salukis. It's a 2:00 Eastern tip, and Shocker Radio
has you covered.Big West: Cal State Northridge (15-10, 11-4 BWC) at Pacific (22-2, 15-0 BWC)
- This may be defending champion Pacific's final test on the way to a possible perfect conference season; they have two seemingly easy roadies at Fullerton
next week. The Tigers' battles with Utah State
have been the "royale" ones lately, but the last few scraps with the Matadors have provided plenty of thrills and chills. There was last year's Big West title game, which went to the wire (75-73), as well as their first meeting in January, a 66-62 squeaker. This contest will be on ESPN2, or "the Deuce" as we old-timers like to call it. The game starts at 11:00 PM Eastern, and you can hear it here
if you can't find a TV.Colonial: Virginia Commonwealth (16-11, 12-5 CAA) at North Carolina-Wilmington (18-8, 13-4 CAA)
- UNCW can wrap up the two-seed with a win, as they've already beaten VCU once. A VCU win would throw matters into a crazy tiebreaker scenario involving records against the fourth-place team, and we won't know who that is until regular-season play wraps up on Monday.
Getting the CAA 2-seed is important, because that team will play the winner of the 7-10 game (right now, looks like Delaware
and William & Mary
will square off there). The 3-seed gets stuck with the sixth-place team, which will be Drexel
or George Mason
- all good squads. Seven-thirty Eastern is when UNCW and VCU go at it, and you can listen along
.Metro Atlantic: Niagara (18-8, 13-4 MAAC) at Rider (16-10, 12-5 MAAC)
- The Purple Eagles have already wrapped up the one-seed, but this is a likely preview of the MAAC title game. Niagara won the first meeting 102-97 up in the frozen wilds of upstate New York, where the tourney will be held. Still, Rider has been the more consistent of the two this year - Niagara has been hot and cold, taking bad losses to Iona
and Loyola (Md.)
. Two o'clock ET is the tip time, and you can watch it with your SportsPack-equipped DirecTV dish.
Despite the many hours of work I put into this site every day, I know that you only spend a few minutes here, and then you're on to other college basketball websites. It's okay, I read those sites too. A lot of them are saying that power conference Bubble teams' recent struggles - i.e. Georgia Tech
- will clear the way for more mid-majors with high RPI's to collect at-large berths.
But I still don't believe it. Consider this recent article
from the Quad City Times
, a two-weeks-to-go conversation with Selection Committee chairman Bob Bowlsby. After a few paragraphs that trumpet all the exciting increased "opportunities" that mid-majors have due to the changes in the RPI formula, then there's this:
Still, Bowlsby said the committee won't use the RPI to the number in distributing the 34 at-large berths. Other things such as overall record, conference finish and stretch performance, will factor as well.
..."Admittedly, there is a fair amount of subjectivity,'' Bowlsby said of the selection process. ..."If it was all just numerical rankings, we would just mail it in, and we wouldn't have to worry about having selection weekend.''
Exactly. And history would indicate that Selection Committee "subjectivity" equals "more borderline power-conference schools that get to party in March." In baseball, the tie goes to the runner; in college hoops, the tie goes to the team that's been on ESPN more often, or the one with a better PR machine. The NCAA is staging a television event, and they'll get their television teams. Just like always.
But this isn't sour grapes, not at all. I've said all along that I'd rather see strong teams from the nation's Mid-Majority crack the bracket two rounds, instead of an extra bunch of first-round blowouts that would set off more blabbery that small-college basketball is second-rate.
And so I'd like to quantify that right now. My goal, our goal
, is four mid-major teams in the Sweet Sixteen
. ( UMPFN
doesn't count.) If we work together, we can make this happen. Adopt a strong mid-major, and cheer them on to victory. Jump on the bandwagon, buy a t-shirt, e-mail the athletic department and tell them what a great job they're doing. If you have a first/second round ticket strip, go and scream your lungs out. Every fan counts.Southern Illinois. Nevada. Pacific. Vermont.
Let's do this.
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