NASHVILLE -- Our day-long drive down from our Rhode Island home down to Music City was like the 2007-08 season in intricately-styled microcosm. There were a lot of miles driven (about a thousand), hours upon hours of XM radio (we like the new "Thriller" channel) and spotty cell reception just about everywhere. Then we stopped at a Panera and filed a story with the free wi-fi, like we always do, slept for a couple of hours in a rest area, then took a shower at a Flying J.
There was also a punishing rainstorm through Maryland and West Virginia that was like a million tiny fists against the glass, symbolic of the annual February drag and grind when we question why we do this, when we think about giving up and going back to systems analysis. But the sky cleared up, like it always does, and then there was a 2 a.m. breakfast at Waffle House. (Nobody gives up on anything after a waffle with butterscotch chips on it.) And then, as usual, we got into town in plenty of time for tip-off.
It's the beginning of our fifth annual overdose of conference tournaments (it predates the blog), a total of 24 games in 11 days. This is the time we live for: an extended blur of furious rallies, surprise heroes, buzzer-beaters, broken-hearted cheerleaders, twine-cutting, and three-minute sideline catch-ups with old friends. All due respect to the NCAA Tournament, but this is the best time of the year.
We don't usually give out our travel plans in advance, but we're so excited that we just can't hide it. Here, then, is our schedule for the week.Wed 3/5-Thu 3/6: Atlantic Sun Quarterfinals (Nashville)
Fri 3/7: Ohio Valley Semifinals (Nashville)
Sat 3/8: Atlantic Sun Final/Ohio Valley Final (Nashville)
Sun 3/9: America East Semifinals (Binghamton, NY)/Metro Atlantic Semifinals (Albany, NY)
Mon 3/10: Metro Atlantic Final (Albany, NY)
Wed 3/11: Atlantic 14 First Round (Atlantic City, NJ)
Thu 3/12: Atlantic 14 Quarterfinals (Atlantic City, NJ)
Fri 3/13: Atlantic 14 Semifinals (Atlantic City, NJ)
Sat 3/14: Atlantic 14 Final (Atlantic City, NJ) Kent State.
Last weekend's road loss at Bowling Green was enough to get KSU dumped from the national rankings after their BracketBreakthrough at Saint Mary's, and all of a sudden people weren't so jazzed about a two-bid MAC. But last night, the Golden Flashes clinched the East division championship as well as the No. 1 seed in next week's tourney with a convincing 50-39 defensive shutdown
of the Miami Redhawks in last night's G!O!T!N!.Mike Scott
earned a 12-and-10 double-double on his Senior Night (awwww), but there was nothing fond or nostalgic about what the team's pressure did to the defending MAC champions' offense. Kent pitched a shutout from the arc, allowing none of the Redhawks' eight 3-attempts to fall, and Miami shot just 33 percent from the floor.
As a side note, Miami head coach Charlie Coles didn't make the trip
and missed his second straight game. Coles, 66, has had medical problems in the past, but still has the vim and vigor necessary to suit up and play for the Redhawks. Get well soon, Coach.
Also, as you try to figure out if you're a Dolphin or a Bruin...How 'Bout™
Akron? The Zips will get one last regular season shot at Kent at home on Sunday (don't bother trying to get in, it's sold out
), and they made a nice statement last night at Ohio. By shooting 60 percent from the floor, Akron topped Ohio 80-77
in the Convo, a place they haven't won in for three years.
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