PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- We'll get to all the Bally ephemera tomorrow, promise, but we're mulling over the BracketBusters TV announcement from yesterday. We wanted to share it with you if you didn't get the memo or are on the wrong mailing list. So here, then, is the final lineup for Mid-Majorpalooza 2008. All times Eastern, becuse it's the bEST.Friday, Feb. 22
7 p.m. Davidson at Winthrop - ESPN2
9 p.m. UC Santa Barbara at Utah State - ESPNUSaturday, Feb. 23
11 a.m. Virginia Commonwealth at Akron - ESPN2
1 p.m. George Mason at Ohio - ESPN2
3 p.m. Creighton at Oral Roberts - ESPN2
4:30 p.m. Nevada at Southern Illinois - ESPNU
5 p.m. Drake at Butler - ESPN2
6 p.m. Miami (Ohio) at Valparaiso - ESPN Classic
6:30 p.m. Marist at Cleveland State - ESPNU
9 p.m. Rider at Cal State Northridge - ESPNU
9 p.m. UW Milwaukee at Bradley - ESPN360.com
10 p.m. Siena at Boise State - ESPN360.com
11:59 p.m. Kent State at Saint Mary's - ESPN2Sunday, Feb. 24
6:30 p.m. Wright State at Illinois State - ESPNU
No real surprises with the Deuce games, and we figured that the Sweet 16 non-reunion between UWM (2005) and Bradley (2006) would be left in the relative dark. But you've got to feel for Siena, a team that's just finding its footing again after a mini-slump and may be best-equipped to win the MAAC -- the Sunday win at Rider
apparently came too late for any TV juice. So the team is going all the way out to Boise State (we're expecting one of those annual "patchwork itinerary from hell" releases from the Saints' sports information office as the day drawn nearer), and folks back home in Upstate won't be able to catch the game if they have the wrong broadband provider.
Oh well, at least you'll be able to see Jason Thompson
do one of those crazy 25-and-25 double-double things. Saint Mary's.
Well, the book is out on the Gaels -- slow them down, and you have a chance. That's what this version of Santa Clara does, the third-slowest team in the nation in terms of possessions (59 per game) and one of the most selective offenses going. We'd like to hear from any Broncos fans out there, and see how you feel about year one of the Kerry Keating era. Is it like paint drying, or is it spine-tingling, edge-of-your-seat excitement? Will the shot clock run out? Won't it? Tune in next time!
But this is about SMC. The Gaels' last two losses (Southern Illinois and San Diego) have been instances of teams clogging up the floor and keeping the tempo way down, and it almost worked again last night. But Saint Mary's emerged victorious beneath the giant Steve Nash banners at the Leavey Center by a 54-50
count. Patty Mills
had the worst shooting performance of his young career (4-for-14, 9 points), but Diamon Simpson nailed some late free throws and the Gaels escaped. Norfolk State.
In Monday night MEAC action, the Spartans won their sixth of seven by topping defending yet depleted champions Florida A&M by 11
, and won the board battle by a whopping 22 with 47 (!) rebounds. The real news is that NSU swept the Florida swing for the first time in three years, and are now 9-2 in the conference, just a single game behind the leaders from Morgan State (which thrashed South Carolina State
behind 13 boards by the real-life Bouuuubacar
Even in this conference, where league leaders often have .500 overall records, a team with a RPI like 268 near the top is a rarity. But a lot's changed since former interim head coach Anthony Evans
found his groove, and was given a three-year contract along with the removal of the infamous, mythical "interim tag." I've always thought of the "interim tag" like those things on mattresses, but that's just me.
In H.B. see-you's:How 'Bout™
Alabama State? Monday night is always SWAC-tastic, and the conference-leading Hornets are 9-2 and two games clear after a 18-point win at Pine Bluff
. Why you're likely to see this team on your bracket next month: ASU is done with most of its road danger, with just the travel-partner trip to Alabama A&M and a swing out west to face the traditionally weak Texas teams (Texas Southern and Prairie View). Four of the remaining seven are at home, so they'll get plenty of rest for the SWAC tournament in Birmingham.
Also, How 'Bout™
that Wolf Pack of Nevada? Beaten in the shooting and rebounding battles at home against WAC leaders Utah State last night, but won the scoreboard battle 85-80
because they only turned the ball over four times. Just four. That's the season low for any WAC team anywhere, and more proof that ball control is the new sexy in mid-major college basketball. As young as they are, that's an excellent sign of the Pack's progress.
And How 'Bout™
Albany? Very little gets us fired up like a good Scoobies-Catamounts battle, easily the best non-standard, non-geographical rivalry the America East has to offer. UAlbany beat UVermont for the third straight time and swept the season series with a three-point win
, powered by late foul shooting and by working around the insanity that is UVM cult hero Marqus Blakely
(18 points, 16 rebounds). The last four meetings have been decided by a total of nine points.
Finally, How 'Bout™
Illinois-Chicago? The Flames, building on the momentum of their Windy City sweep of Loyola last weekend, ripped open Valpo by 24 last night
. And just like that, UIC is in four-seed position, just one game out of second place (Wright State) with five remaining. Also just like that, the Crusaders are in full-on tailspin mode, losing four straight to fall into the seventh seed in the Horizon League's Track The Bracket
, the game you need a Ph.D. to play.
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