Western Athletic regular season champions Nevada dropped a shock decision to Boise State, clearing the way for a two-bid WAC. Bracket WrapWestern Athletic:
There won't likely be many other two-bid mid-major leagues except for, say, the Missouri Valley... apparently the new RPI isn't all it's cracked up to be. I've been saying for weeks that the Selection Committee will find a way to snub Tournament-quality teams that play in the Mid-Majority, and here is that Philips-head screw. So Nevada and Southern Illinois yes, pretty much everyone else no.
A champion will be crowned in the Patriot League this afternoon.
In Reno last night, a super-shocker.(8) Boise State 73, (1) Nevada 72 (story)(2) Texas-El Paso 80, (7) Hawaii 62 (story)(3) Rice 63, (6) Southern Methodist 47 (story)(4) Fresno State 84, (5) Louisiana Tech 81 (OT) (story)
Perhaps the day off between the first round and quarters hurt rather than helped the low seeds, no? Jermaine Blackburn, a 6'6" Bronco guard, found the ball in his hands after a missed free throw with one second left, and stunned Nevada with his 15th and 16th points of the night. But the final moments were set up by the Wolfpack's failure to hit from long-range: they only hit one of their seven trey attempts, while Boise's bombs were on the mark. BSU did what Cinderellas tend to do, hitting a solid 9 of 20 from three. The rest of the semis went as planned, but the FSU Bulldogs needed overtime to dispatch former MMBOW Paul Millsap
and his 25 point-17 rebound performance.
So tonight's semis go like this. UTEP and Rice resume acquaintances all Texas-style; the upstart Boise Staters will try their luck against Fresno, there in the biggest little city on earth.Southland:
The semifinals are done, and we have a pairing of the regualr season co-champions for the championship game.(1) Northwestern State 90, (5) Lamar 75 (story)(2) Southeastern Louisiana 71, (3) Sam Houston State 62 (story)
The Demons earned a shot at their first NCAA bid since 2001 with a stroll through Lamar's soft D and enough lockdowns to shut down the Cardinals' high-octane show. Sam State's 71 points were about 15 over the average SELU usually allows, but the Lions used a late run to put the Bearkats' season to bed.
The Southland final will not be played at last year's site of Hammond, Louisiana, home of the Lions - nope, we're going to Natchitoches for NW State's third title game in six years and first-ever hosting job. They and Southeastern split this year's season series, and they'll tip off for a third time on Sunday afternoon.Mid-Eastern:
The two other quarterfinals are in the books, and Friday's semis in real-deal Richmond are ready to go.(4) South Carolina State 76, (5) Norfolk State 59 (story)(3) Coppin State 60, (6) Morgan State 43 (story)
The S.C. State Bulldogs used a powerful post performance to knock out the Spartans. Coppin was down by four at halftime, but unleashed a furious 16-5 spurt to show the Bears who's still boss of Baltimore. So here are today's afternoon semis at the Coliseum: Delaware State, the one-seed, plays S.C. State at 2 PM, followed by Coppin versus 2 Hampton at five. The latter game can be seen live on the new ESPNU.Atlantic 10:
In the league we cover mainly because it's down so much this year, the top seeds march on.(E1) Saint Joseph's 63, (W4) Richmond 51 (story)(W2) Xavier 83, (W6) La Salle 70 (story)(W1) George Washington 79, (E4) Fordham 63 (story)(E2) Temple 61, (W3) Dayton 51 (story)
With a 17-point performance by supporting-cast member David Mallon, St. Joe's did something they didn't do after last year's perfect regular season - win their quarterfinal. A-10 co-player of the year Stephen Smith of LaSalle returned from a facial injury he suffered late in the opening-round win against Massachusetts
to score 20 points and lead the Explorers' futile effort against Xavier. GW and Temple muscled up and dispatched two mid-pack teams that had played on First Round Wednesday.
Tonight's Cincinnati semis have St. Joe's and Xavier in a battle of two Elite Eight squads from last year; Temple and GW will go at it on the other side.Southwestern Athletic:
The top two Alabama seeds advanced out of Thursday's quarterfinals in Birmingham, but the three and four were not quite as lucky.(1) Alabama A&M 64, (8) Arkansas-Pine Bluff 52 (story)(2) Alabama State 64, (7) Prairie View A&M 56 (story)(5) Jackson State 57, (4) Mississippi Valley State 55 (story)(6) Southern 69, (3) Grambling 65 (OT) (story)
Pine Bluff was dispatched with ease by A&M (they led by 18 late before easing up), but the Hornets of 'State had to tussle with 6-22 PVAM before putting them away with a late burst. Number five J-State came storming back from a 13-point deficit and held off the four-seeded Delta Devils. But the most exciting game of the night was Southern's overtime victory, paced by a wiry senior forward named Deon Saunders (23 points) who wears number zero. 0 yeah!
Jackson State will take on A&M tonight at 7:30 PM Eastern; on the flipside of the bracket, Alabama State will face Southern in the late-afternoon game. If you have the new ESPNU channel, you can watch the games on tape-delay later in the evening.Big West:
The Cal State had their day on court with the UC's, and won both times. On to the semifinals, where the top two seeds received not one, but two byes.(3) Cal State Fullerton 66, (7) California-Santa Barbara 55 (story)(4) Cal State Northridge 72, (5) California-Irvine 56 (story)
Fullerton Got-R-Done by having four starters end up in double figures; the Matadors prevailed easily against a wild pack of UCI Anteaters. One-seed Pacific
will play Northridge at 9:00 PM ET in a rematch of last year's tense title match, and Fullerton gets 2 Utah State
in the nightcap.What's On Tap
We have one title game: an afternoon matchup between 2 Bucknell
and 1 Holy Cross
at the Crusaders' Worcester home to settle the Patriot, we have semis in the MEAC, SWAC, Atlantic 10 and MAC. Also, those two top seeds come alive in the Big West's semifinals.Automatic Bids Pennsylvania
(19-8, 12-1 Ivy) clinched the Ivy League regular season title on February 27. Winthrop
(27-5, 18-1 BSC) won the Big South tournament on March 5. Eastern Kentucky
(21-8, 13-5 OVC) won the Ohio Valley tournament on March 5. Chattanooga
(20-13, 13-6 SoCon) won the Southern tournament on March 5. Central Florida
(24-8, 15-7 A-Sun) won the Atlantic Sun tournament on March 5. Creighton
(23-10, 13-7 MVC) won the Missouri Valley tournament on March 7. Niagara
(20-9, 15-5 MAAC) won the Metro Atlantic tournament on March 7. Old Dominion
(28-5, 18-3 CAA) won the Colonial tournament on March 7. UMPFN
(25-4, 14-2 WCC) won the West Coast tournament on March 7. Oakland
(12-18, 9-9 Mid-Con) won the Mid-Continent tournament on March 8. Louisiana-Lafayette
(20-10, 14-4 SBC) won the Sun Belt tournament on March 8. Wisconsin-Milwaukee
(24-5, 16-2 HL) won the Horizon tournament on March 8. Fairleigh Dickinson
(20-12, 14-5 NEC) won the Northeast tournament on March 9. Montana
(18-12, 12-5 BSky) won the Big Sky tournament on March 9.