NEW BRITAIN, Conn. -- It's a seasonably warm Thursday morning in Mid-Majorland, let's get right to it!Conference Shootaround!Colonial:
Virginia Commonwealth stretched its CAA record to 7-0 (15-3 overall) at the expense of North Carolina-Wilmington on Wednesday, and The Dub stands for Woeful right now: after the 74-65
, the defending conference tourney champs are 1-6 and their points for/against split in league play is nearly the opposite of last year's (2005-06: 68 pf/58 pa; 2006-07: 58 pf/66 pa). But the real eye-opener last night was a 72-65
James Madison upset over an Old Dominion (12-6, 5-2 CAA) that had just come off thrashing at-large candidate golden boys Drexel by 27. While it's all very entertaining to the fans, a conference doesn't get at-large bids with rock 'em-sock 'em parity (just ask the MAC).
Other delicious slices of mid-major goodness: OK, I will. In the Mid-American
, East-leading Akron (12-4, 3-1 MAC) scored an impressive 78-68
win over nearby rival Kent State on Wednesday, in a dream rematch of a dream 2006 title game that never happened. The Zips won because they got to the line more often; wayyy more often (34-6 in FTA). Toledo, the school that upset Akron in the semis a season ago, is 4-0 in the weak West after dropping Central Michigan 66-56
on Tuesday night... The 143 (and counting) U.S. households who receive ESPNU had access to Austin Peay's (10-6, 7-1 OVC) 68-59
home win over defending champs Murray State on Tuesday in the Ohio Valley
; that is, if they weren't all watching the American Idol
auditions instead. The Govs have won seven straight and lead the league by a full game over Samford and surprise candidate Morehead State...
In the Patriot League
, the surging Crusaders of Holy Cross (13-6, 4-0 PL) used a strong second half to dispatch Navy 61-42
; I was there, and have the purple "Sader Nation" t-shirt to prove it. Bucknell and Lehigh also won their games, and sit a game back at 3-1... Davidson (15-3, 7-0 SoCon, 53 RPI) of the SoCon
matched VCU's 7-0 league start, winning its 11th straight in a 79-54
poleaxing of The Citadel paced by freshman phenom Stephen Curry
's 18. Just a reminder: the Wildcats' showdown/throwdown/slowdown against Appalachian State (13-4, 5-1 SoCon, 48 RPI) is on Saturday, on Davidson's court...
The only Big South
team visible in Winthrop's rearview, High Point (13-5, 4-0 BSC), scored a 77-71
home win on Wednesday against chemistry-challenged Liberty to remain unbeaten in conference play. The Panthers get a shot at home against the Eagles next Thursday... In the Horizon
, Butler (16-2, 4-1 HL) trashed Youngstown State 67-39
to hold onto its precarious and doomed No. 4 position in our Blue Ribbon Power Poll
. Because of the HL's level of competition and the performance-based nature of the poll, they would have to beat everybody else by 30 from here on out to stay in the Top 10...
Out in the Western Athletic
Conference, New Mexico State's (14-4, 4-1 WAC) 11-game win streak is over after a 73-71
overtime loss at the eastern outpost of the league, Louisiana Tech. The Aggies led nearly the entire game before being nipped late... And Bowling Green residents, please come down off the "Welcome to Western" watertower. We know your Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (14-6, 6-2 Sun Belt
) lost to Arkansas-Little Rock 71-69
, despite holding the nation's leading rebounder
in check. But life is still worth living. You can still get into the NCAA's with an auto-bid.K-Dub's Krazy Fact of the Day!
In that Holy Cross win over Navy, the Crusaders were only called for a total of nine fouls. All game. And not to step into the Big Ten Wonk's
territory, but last night's Ohio State-Northwestern game featured only five fouls called on the Buckeyes -- entering a three-way tie for fewest foul calls on one team in one game (D1-on-D1 action only). In fact, of the 65 games in which one team has had fewer than 10 fouls, four happened last night (1, 2, 3, 4). If it was "National Swallow Your Whistle Day," why didn't anyone tell me beforehand?
It's not surprising that the majority of those sub-10 foul games (41, 63%) happened in wins at home -- as we all know, referees are sensitive to criticism from fans and are easily intimidated by crowds. But what's more impressive is to foul to within an inch of your lives on the road, and still pull out the win anyway -- that's what Mount Saint Mary's did the other week at Long Island-Brooklyn: the Mountaineers fouled 32 times but still won 78-76.
But that was in quadruple-overtime! Back on Dec. 9, visiting Mercer was whistled for 31 infractions in a 105-103 regulation win at Virginia Military Institute, a game in which the Bears also achieved the No. 2 spot in single-game one-team rebounds for 2006-07 with 59. Just another in a series of wacky-ass VMI boxscores.
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