LORMAN, Miss. -- BracketBusters season starts in just under two weeks, and that's why we here at the Mid-Majority have put together this little map
, so you can start scouting out the home teams (orange) and away teams (grey) and dream about matchups leading into the pairing announcement on Jan. 28. You're welcome!
And, of course, happy King day from SWAC country. Let's get to the weekend wrap!Conference Shootaround!Missouri Valley:
Strapped in tight? Good, because the Valley ride is getting just as bumpy as ever. Southern Illinois (13-4, 4-2 MVC) has the best RPI in the conference at No. 9, and scored a key home win over high-scoring (82.8 ppg in conference) and high-flying Missouri State (13-4, 4-2 MVC) on Saturday, 76-56
. Creighton, a preseason Top-Whatever team which everyone had left for dead a month ago, leads the league at 5-1 after dropping Northern Iowa (13-4, 4-2 MVC... this is not a recording) 62-54
at the Panthers' new place, with a great 24-point performance by Nate Funk
, who by the way has shot 50% or better 11 times in 16 games. Then there's Indiana State, which we devoted all of last Thursday's Paragraph to; the Sycamores looked gawd-awful in a 76-59
home loss to Bradley, the most recent team to be left for dead.
So here's the upshot: we'll keep devoting yards of copy and leaving Valley teams for dead, but first and foremost will keep enjoying this latest annual installment of the Valley Wars. Stay tuned.Colonial:
All hail Virginia Commonwealth, the only unbeaten left in the CAA. After beating Towson 85-77
in the return game from the 2OT thriller
from a couple weeks ago, the Rams are 6-0 and 14-3 overall. I've talked before about their need to develop a killer instinct, and they've certainly done that... in the three wins since the first Towson game, VCU has taken control early and put down any and all rallies.
Drexel laid a dragon egg at Old Dominion, 84-57
, cutting into an at-large margin for error. Just remember that George Mason had four league losses last year, and they got in. And if you thought the Pride was ready to build on the momentum from its Drexel win last week, you thought wrong, dude! Northeastern hassled Hofstra on Saturday, 84-74
in a game that was too much backcourt and not enough frontcourt for the Hoff. ODU and Hofstra are both 5-1.
Other juicy mid-major nuggets: On Friday night in Nashville, the first installment of the Atlantic Sun
's Battle of the Boulevard resulted in a 55-50
Lipscomb win over Belmont, a Bisons victory spurred on by the return of Brian Fisk
from injury. Belmont is now 6-1 and Lipscomb 5-2, but don't forget about East Tennessee State, which is playing hungry and angry lately. ETSU is 6-1 after thrashing North Florida at home, 77-58
... Idaho State is 3-0 after its flexi-zone defense overcame Big Sky
newbie Northern Colorado 70-60
on Saturday; Weber State and Northern Arizona are footsteps behind at 4-1...
We were all sorts of worried when Unnamed Major Program From the Northwest
lost all those non-conference games; we thought that they were coming back down to earth, that the major media would forget about them, we might actually have to welcome back into the mid-major fold and remove the UMPFN acronym. But now that they're back at home in the West Coast
, no such fears. UMPFN easily dispensed of its closest WCC competition, Santa Clara, by a 77-69
count on Saturday... Pennsylvania is the only 2-0 in the Ivy
after the first weekend, sweeping the Cornell/Columbia roadie... Oral Roberts (4-0 Mid-Con, 11-7 overall) won its fifth straight with a victory over Missouri-Kansas City; a hearty congratulations to the 6-10 pride of the Grenadines, Shawn King, for an 18-minute double-double (10 pts, 10 reb).
Butler was out of conference (beating South Dakota State), so Wright State and Illinois-Chicago took a half-game lead in the Horizon. UIC's weekend victim was crosstown rival Loyola (Ill.) (79-73); the Ramblers lead the league in shooting, but have had real problems on the defensive end... Winthrop won its third Big South game against zero losses, kicking around Liberty 68-40. Fun fact (not so fun if you're a Flames fan): Liberty is 7-10 overall, but has not won a game in which Providence transfer Dwight Brewington has appeared (13.8 ppg, 0-9 record)...
The America East's Alpha Cats beat the Alpha Dogs on Saturday, as Vermont avenged its 2006 title game loss to Albany 75-66 on a career night for sophomore forward Colin McIntosh, who scored 19. The Cats shot 57% as a team, won its seventh straight, and control the conference with a 4-0 record... In the MAAC, Loyola (Md.) and Siena own mirror-perfect 5-1 (9-6 overall) records. On the other side of the table, Iona is down to seven men and lost its 16th in a row to Fairfield, 83-74 (OT). Hang in there, Rules!
The MAC's black and blue wars continued, with 3-0 Toledo laying the smack down on Western Michigan in the West 80-68, but the hottest action is in the East. Akron, Ohio and Kent State are all 2-1 after Sunday's games; Kent pulled out a thrilling 67-65 overtime decision at home over Ohio, one sealed by a Omni Smith j. A good sign for the hot-shooting Bobcats is that their defense is coming around -- for the first time this season, they've given up less than .9 points per possession in two straight games... Holy Cross is a perfect 3-0 in the Patriot, after defending the Hart Center against the slumping Bison of Bucknell on Friday, 65-60. Bucknell senior center Chris McNaughton, who's had so many great games against the Crusaders in the past, got in whistle-trouble and ended with as many points (four) as fouls...
Delaware State may be turning into the Winthrop of the MEAC; they're so far beyond the rest of the league now that it may have stopped being funny. The Hornets are over 120 RPI slots about their nearest conference competitor, and beat Howard 66-57 on Saturday. Mainstay Bluntt and Cincinnati transfer Bright will score enough points, but they have nice role players as well, like big Troy Roundtree and flashy Darrin Shine... NEC preseason favorite Robert Morris had one loss in nonconference and three already in the league (3-3, 11-4 overall), but posted a hard-fought win at Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday...
Despite all the wins and the high RPI, I'm not buying Appalachian State quite yet. The Mountaineers (12-4, 4-1 SoCon) lost at home to Elon 64-63 on Saturday; it was Elon's first win in Boone since 1969. App-State had 17 turnovers, which is a little over their average of 15.3 topg, but that's not the important number. Due to the pace ASU plays at, it turns over the ball 22% of the time; that's 187th in the country and too high for a team that expects a championship... Davidson is 5-0, and beat Wofford 83-78... Stephen F. Austin is 4-0 in the Southland's West division after beating McNeese State on the road 67-53; Danny Kaspar's charges can screen for shooters as well as anyone, and are the 19th best 3-ball team in the nation (40.9 percent).
Name the Ohio Valley team we haven't given much love to yet but leads the conference and is only two RPI points behind favorites Samford. If you guessed Austin Peay, you spend wayyy too much time at this site. The Govs snuck by Southeast Missouri 68-67 and now sit atop the OVC at 6-1 (9-6 overall, 146 RPI), despite leading the league in only one category: blocks. Samford, for its part, has lost two straight... Jackson State and Grambling State lead the SWAC at 4-1 each... Western Kentucky, after a 82-72 home win versus ex-rivals Louisiana-Lafayette, have the best record in the Sun Belt at 6-1.
K-Dub's Krazy Fact of the Day
Thinking about M.L. King today, but also about S. King, the guy from Oral Roberts with the 18-minute dub-dub. There have been a total of 2,370 double-doubles this season so far in Division I, out of a total of 57,859 individual player performances. In raw statistical terms, that basically means that 4% of the time, you'll get at least 10 and 10 (common basketball sense, of course, suggests a far different reality).
But you know where I'm going with this; it's the 18-minute thing. Among those 2,370, who spent the smallest amount of time on the floor? It's a tie! Othello Hunter from some school called Ohio State laid the smackdown on Cleveland State on Dec. 9, and did so quickly: in just 13 minutes, he scored 17 points and pulled down 11 boards.
Tied with Hunter in terms of minutes played is Boomer Herndon of aforementioned Boulevard Battle victims Belmont, a 6-11 senior who notched his only dub-dub of the year so far in a 76-62 win over Jacksonville back on Dec. 2. Herndon, who was ailing at the time, spent 13 minutes and scored 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting, and chipped in 10 rebounds as well.
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