JACKSON, Miss. -- Mondays from here on out will be busy times as we continue to track all the hot hot conference action, so let's all take a deep breath and let's get to it.Conference Shootaround!Missouri Valley:
Yesterday in lovely Springfield, Missouri State broke both an eight-game losing streak against the Shockers (which dated back to 2002) as well as Wichita State's fragile momentum rebound (a four-game slide followed by a win over Bradley); it did both with a high-scoring, high-flying 95-87
slapdown. Mo-State had the game well in hand after a first-half shooting clinic, but were able to hold off Wichita's second-half rallies, something that didn't happen in the now-famous Creighton collapse
(an 11-point lead that evaporated in four minutes). But Barry Hinson's Bears don't have a choking problem, they have a road problem. Wichita seems to have a confidence and composure problem, one they didn't have a month ago, one punctuated by visible frustration and technical fouls.
And so your Five-Bid Valley Watch looks like this: Mo-State, Southern Illinois, Indiana State and Creighton at 3-1, and UNI -- which held off SIU in an impressive 66-61
win -- at 4-0. We're expecting 1-3 Wichita will rejoin this party eventually, for 2-3 Bradley (11-6 overall) to be in there somewhere (hey, they beat Drake! 89-96
!), and for Indiana State to fall off once they start getting into the thick of the schedule of America's Renaissance Conference. (We also expect there to be four bids again, in all honesty. Someone's getting screwed.)Atlantic Sun:
Most of the action so far is simply leading up to this weekend's initial stanza in the Battle of the Boulevard between Lipscomb and Belmont. After Sunday's A-Fun action, the Bisons are 3-2 after beating Stetson 79-68
, and the Bruins are a perfect 5-0 after taking it to Mercer 72-47
. But don't sleep too soundly on 4-1 East Tennessee State. Sure, Gardner-Webb is rebuilding this year, but a 66-63
road win in Boiling Springs over the school that knocked the Bucs out in the league tourney (on ETSU's home floor, no less) has to feel good; Brad Nuckles
hit 15 of his 18 shots and ended up with 31.Colonial:
The four undefeateds are now all 3-0 instead of 2-0 after Saturday's games: Drexel held homecourt over The Dub (a/k/a North Carolina-Wilmington) with a 69-55
win in which the Seahawks could only manage 33% shooting. Virginia Commonwealth and Hofstra took wins over the league's usual dregs, but down there in the cellar area is George Mason, which is now 0-3 after a loss to 3-0 Old Dominion. GMU was actually leading throughout before being caught and held off in the final five. How soon before most of the national media re-forget that the Patriots exist?
Other nuggets: the America East
is upside down! Witness the pair of 2-0 teams, Hartford and Maryland-Baltimore Country. Presumptive favorite Albany took an 83-72
spill at the Mid-Majority Events Center (still, nobody's bought the name, so my two-year claim on it is still valid) in Binghamton because Richard Forbes
went nuts (25 points on 8-for-12 shooting) and the team shot 58%.... In the Big South
, Winthrop did the seemingly impossible: held the nation's leading scoring team, Virginia Military Institute, under 80 points in a 106-78
win. VMI had a VMI-like 100 possessions, but hit 31% of its shots... In the MEAC
, Delaware State is 2-0, but what's this? The Florida A&M Rattlers are 3-0 -- and have an overall record above .500 (8-7) after dropping Norfolk State 81-71
Someone asked me in the ESPN chat on Friday how Wright State could beat Butler; I said "shoot for once." They didn't (38% from floor, 53% from the line), and the Bulldogs came away with an easy 73-42
win. Butler is the only Horizon League
undefeated at 3-0... The mighty mighty Idaho State Bengals are the only 2-0 team in the Big Sky
after trashing Sacramento State 73-58
at the Hornets' Nest on Saturday... Siena, not Marist, is the only unblemished MAAC
team. The Saints were 4-5 in non-conference, but are 4-0 in league play after beating Niagara 92-81
on Friday behind a 21-point effort by 13th-year senior Michael Haddix
. Is it just me, or has he been there since 1989?Sacred Heart is 3-0 after dropping Saint Francis (NY) 63-58 in the NEC... Slowdown Samford of the OVC is a perfect 6-0 after nipping puzzlingly bad Jacksonville State in a 64-63 thriller in which Curtis West nailed a pair of 3's to cap a come-from-behind win. Samford trailed by five with :09 remaining... Winners in the first found of Patriot League games are Holy Cross, Bucknell, as well as Colgate and Lehigh, who both won their games by two points... Louisiana-Monroe of the Sun Belt came down to earth after a 4-0 start, getting avalanched at Denver 75-65. However, Denver remains (by far) the worst team in the country.
Applachian State and Davidson lead their respective divisions in the SoCon at 4-0 apiece; Davidson won its eighth in a row at home against College of Charleston, 81-73. App-State won its seventh straight by winning 77-63 at Chattanooga. Circle Jan. 20 at Davidson, the teams' only regular-season meeting... Jackson State and Texas Southern are both 3-0 in the Swickity-SWAC... WAC squad New Mexico State owns an 11-game win streak after dropping 1-13 San Jose State 74-68.
The Southland's new Sun Belt-style divisional setup and staggered schedule is still getting some getting used to, but Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin and Texas State are all 2-0 in the West. That's right, Texas State, the second-fastest team in the country, has now doubled its league win total from last year with home wins over defending champs Northwestern State (the fans stormed the floor!) and Saturday's 93-80 decision over Central Arkansas... In the West Coast, Santa Clara continued to bite into UMPFN's conference RPI lead with a nice 77-69 win over Saint Mary's. Note to the Broncos: could you please make that Steve Nash commemorative banner in your arena just a little bigger? It's not quite visible from space yet.
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