BOZEMAN, Mont. -- That's right, waah-waah. This is the final Daily Paragraph, the last K-Dub's Krazy Fact of the Day of the season. That's because (not-so-Top Five) Tuesday, February 27 is the honorary first day of March. It's tourney time! The Horizon League, Ohio Valley and Big South kick off their first rounds tomorrow, so things around here are going to change.
People who have followed the site since the olden days (like, say, 2005) might remember that we switched to tourney mode around this time. Last year, I was part of ESPN.com's team blog during Championship Fortnight (which they promptly deleted in late March), so I didn't have the correct amount of time to attend to such an enterprise over here. But since they've deleted the concept as well, Tourney Central is back, and in a big way! Daily updated brackets from around Hoops Nation, with Bullet Points, links to tempo-free boxscores, and the same half-assed commentary you've come to expect from The Mid-Majority. Folks who are still stuck in the regular season (lame!) will still get their love, with Conference Shootaround in full effect until March 5.Conference Shootaround!
Eleven leagues are completely finished with their regular-season league play: the three that get underway with single-game elimination mentioned above, as well as the America East
(starts Friday in Boston), Metro Atlantic
(Friday in Bridgeport, Conn.), Atlantic Sun
(quarters are Johnson City, Tenn. on Thursday), SoCon
(Thursday at campus sites), Patriot
(Friday minipods at Bucknell and Holy Cross)
(Wednesday at campus sites) and the Sun Belt
(Saturday at Louisiana-Lafayette's Cajundome). The mighty mighty Colonial
(first round is Friday in Richmond) and Missouri Valley
(Arch Madness begins Thursday in St. Louis) are also in the gate. Since Thursday will be a slow day for results, we'll set up the late-week brackets then; if you're looking for a full rundown of March Magic 2007's places and dates, try here.
But the final weekend of the regular season wasn't without a warning shot. Though Oral Roberts will get to play the Mid-Con tourney in its Tulsa hometown as a No. 1 seed, they'll go into the even with a loss to No. 2 Oakland on their hands. The Golden Grizzlies used five double-figure scorers and a barrage of late free throws to knock off the Golden Eagles, 85-84
in overtime. Curiously, ORU's good-luck charm Marcello Vealy
ha a double-double, but it was the first tiem in eight double-figure scoring games for Vealy in which the team had lost. And it's not known if the Oakland players celebrated with giant bowls of Golden Grahams the next morning, or if they watched the Golden State NBA game
later on Sunday.
The two signature mid-major leagues are done until tourney time, and in the CAA it's 16-2 Virginia Commonwealth with the flag; 15-3 Old Dominion, 14-4 Hofstra and 13-5 Drexel round out your top four seeds. All end their regular seasons on winning streaks, but none as long as ODU's 11-game stretch... The top four in the MVC are champs Southern Illinois, then 13-5 Creighton, 12-6 Missouri State and 10-8 Bradley. Two NCAA teams from a year ago, 9-9 Northern Iowa and 8-10 Wichita State, will need to win three straight in order to make it back... In the Horizon, Butler and Wright State claimed a share each of the regular-season championship at 13-3, but Wright holds the tiebreakers and will invite the league to the Nutter Center for rounds two and three...Winthrop concluded the first-ever perfect conference season in the Big South at 14-0 by pummeling Coastal Carolina at their place, 83-69. Earlier today, the awards were announced, and though Gregg Marshall won coach of the year for the fourth time, the egalitarian Eagles didn't get the POY. That's High Point's Arizona Reid, he of the wild hair and dangerous shooting touch... And don't expect any analysis of the Big Sky playoff race here; there were 256 possible scenarios last Thursday, and about 32 now. All we know is that Eastern Washington needs two Idaho State home losses to get the sixth and final seed, and that Weber State can clinch an outright championship tonight at Sacramento State...
The final showdown in the MAAC went to preseason fave Marist, who dropped Siena 98-88 on a thunderous 24-and-16 performance by James Smith... so yes, I'm back to my original pick, but the MAAC tourney is difficult to forecast, with all-O, no-D Niagara in at the two-seed. And just remember that Marist gave up 88 points at home to close the season. Get ready for a defensive weekend not seen since, well, NBA All-Star 2007... The Patriot League ended with both Bucknell and Holy Cross tied at 13-1 with a split season series; the determining tiebreaker was RPI. Ugh.
Oh, there was non-tourney action over the weekend? Yes! In the Ivy, Pennsylvania has restored the order of things with a seven-game streak, and have left Yale two back at 9-3. The Bulldogs lost to Columbia 84-62 on Saturday and would allow Penn to clinch again with a loss on Friday at the Palestra... Toledo looks like the one-seed in the MAC; the Rockets are 11-2, with Kent State and Akron leading the East with 11-3 records and a big matchup next week... the No. 2 seed in the NEC is on the line tonight when Sacred Heart hosts Quinnipiac. Central Connecticut State wrapped up this league months ago...
Northwestern State won a key East Division matchup in the Southland, 71-65. The Demons now lead the division by a game at 9-5; Sam Houston State has pulled even with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the West at 12-2... South Alabama is limping into the Sun Belt tourney; the Jaguars lost their third straight to close out the schedule, 92-88 to Troy on Team USA Senior Night... in the WCC, UMPFN has pulled up to Santa Clara for first at 10-3. You can never count the Unnamed Major Program out... New Mexico State will likely need to win the WAC tourney to get in; the Aggies lost at home to Fresno State over the weekend, 60-58.
K-Dub's Krazy Fact of the Day!
Tomorrow is our weekly HBCU wrap, but we can't go without mentioning Alabama A&M's block party against Texas Southern in the SWAC on Saturday. A&M's swatmaster Mickell Gladness had 16 of them, and the visiting Tigers had nearly as many shots blocked by Gladness as field goals made (21). It was a moment of, well, gladness is a lost season for Vann Pettaway's Bulldogs... they won, 79-73 and the team's 21 total blocks set an NCAA record.
Some more SWAC love for you: for the second time in the past three years, no other league has offered as many close games. As you can see on our GameGrid, 24 of 77 games so far have been decided by three points or less, and there have only been to blowouts. Once again, how can this brand of basketball be so bad, since it provides so many contests that go down to the wire? Isn't that what fans want? What was that? You want some offense too? Sorry, none here.
Good night, sweet basketball seasons, you're over now and the dreams of 2007-08 can begin. Kennesaw State and North Florida of the Atlantic Sun, you're reclassifiers and weren't eligible anyway. Savannah State, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
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