March 14, 2008 9:31 am ET by Kyle Whelliston
That popping sound you heard probably wasn't your ears, it was the bubbles of Dayton and UMass getting all sorts of bursted. Fans of both teams will be constructing illogical and selective arguments all weekend, but the truth is that the Flyers and Minutemen need more help than the rest of the nation might be able to give them. Xavier broke open a close game in the fourth "quarter," and UMass found a way to blow a 17-point halftime lead. The surviving Philly representatives both won tough slogs.
Norfolk State knocked out the defending champs in their 1008 tourney debut. In the late game, it was a late shot that lifted the Hornets to a stirring victory over the "home" Aggies. Jarrett Carter from HBCSU Sports Blog wrote an excellent recap, wondering if Delaware State is becoming the Duke of black college basketball.
A day after nearly being bounced by 12-seed Buffalo, Miami showed shades of its 2007 championship form by eliminating Ohio. Michael Bramos, a former MMBOW, scored 25 in the win. The other three top seeds cruised to easy wins, but Akron had a few first-half problems.
Lamar's field goal defense, rated in the bottom 20 nationally, was taken advantage of at the absolute wrong time, as UTA shot 54 percent in its win. Sam Houston State shot just 29 percent, but its rebounding filled the gap in an overtime victory over McNeese. Northwestern, as is its custom, used 14 players to overwhelm Southeastern. Top seed SFA struggled in the first half but came away with an 11-point victory over the eighth-seeded Roadrunners.
 Texas-Arlington 81,  Lamar 75 | GameFlo
 Sam Houston State 64,  McNeese State 62 (OT) | GameFlo
 Stephen F. Austin 71,  Texas-San Antonio 60 | GameFlo
 Northwestern State 71,  Southeastern Louisiana 51 | GameFlo
A&M shot just 27 percent and was buried on the boards by the Golden Lions of UAPB.
Well-rested Pacific had its late chances, but couldn't convert and the Anteaters will play their third game in three days tonight. Another former MMBOW, Josh Akognon, scored 20 to help Fullerton top Riverside.
On Tap Tonight
American has been to the title game three previous times, and have never made it to the Big Dance. Colgate hasn't been this far since 1996. AU has won 14 of 17 previous meetings.
Perhaps the best series in the A-14 this season was between the X and the Joes, the best two squads on paper, who delivered two instant classics in a season split. The buzz around Boardwalk Hall is that Charlotte is on the highest emotional plane of any of the final four, and could darn well win this thing.
6:30 pm ET -  Xavier 27-5 (14-2) vs.  Saint Joseph's 20-11 (9-7) | Preview
Recent: 03/06/2008 XU 66 @STJOE 71 02/10/2008 STJOE 72 @XU 76
9:00 pm ET -  Temple 19-12 (11-5) vs.  Charlotte 20-12 (9-7) | Preview
Recent: 02/27/2008 CHAR 61 @TU 75 01/12/2008 TU 58 @CHAR 60
What looked like the league title game a month ago is now a sterling semifinal: the late-night battle between Northridge and Fullerton. UCSB, which came on strong late in the season, will play its first contest of the tourney against an upstart bunch of Anteaters who've already played two games in as many days. But UCI swept the season series.
8:30 pm ET -  California-Santa Barbara 23-7 (12-4) vs.  California-Irvine 17-15 (9-6) | Preview
Recent: 02/09/2008 UCI 65 @UCSB 59 01/10/2008 UCSB 63 @UCI 66
11:00 pm ET -  Cal State Northridge 20-9 (12-4) vs.  Cal State Fullerton 22-8 (12-4) | Preview
Recent: 02/28/2008 CSN 82 @CSF 74 02/02/2008 CSF 80 @CSN 72
For Norfolk, the hard-fought win over Coppin in January was one of the first signs that this perennially mediocre team was ready to make the jump. Two weeks ago, Morgan and Del-State put on one of the sludgiest slogs found anywhere in the country this season, a 39-36 game in which neither team converted more than a third of their shots.
6:00 pm ET -  Morgan State 21-9 (15-2) vs.  Delaware State 14-15 (11-6) | Preview
Recent: 03/01/2008 MORG 39 @DELST 36 02/04/2008 DELST 59 @MORG 64
8:00 pm ET -  Coppin State 14-20 (8-9) vs.  Norfolk State 16-14 (12-6) | Preview
Recent: 01/12/2008 COPP 60 @NORF 65 02/10/2007 NORF 70 @COPP 77
The only meeting between Akron and WMU was the Bronco blowout in which Zip big Jeremiah Wood went down with a knee injury. He's back now, but Western's overall size will be an issue for Akron. Miami was the team that Kent took its frustration out on after a road loss at Bowling Green dumped them out of the national polls last week.
7:00 pm ET -  Western Michigan 19-11 (11-4) vs.  Akron 22-9 (11-5) | Preview
Recent: 02/06/2008 AKR 66 @WMU 86 01/27/2007 WMU 36 @AKR 69
9:30 pm ET -  Kent State 26-6 (13-3) vs.  Miami (Oh.) 17-14 (9-7) | Preview
Recent: 03/04/2008 MIAOH 39 @KENT 50 01/17/2008 KENT 74 @MIAOH 62
Sam State is an immediate beneficiary of Lamar's loss, as they match up a whole lot better against UTA. Stephen F. was able to force its pace against the speedy Demons in their only meeting, the only team in the league that was able to do that this year.
7:00 pm ET -  Texas-Arlington 19-11 (7-9) vs.  Sam Houston State 23-7 (10-6) | Preview
Recent: 02/27/2008 SAMH 79 @UTARL 65 01/30/2008 UTARL 57 @SAMH 73
9:30 pm ET -  Stephen F. Austin 26-4 (13-3) vs.  Northwestern State 14-17 (9-7) | Preview
Recent: 02/16/2008 SFA 67 @NWSU 59 03/08/2007 SFA 76 NWSU 85
Pine Bluff has been .500 or below for the past three seasons, but will be making its third straight semifinal appearance. Southern managed 90 points against top seed Alabama State this season -- over two games.
3:30 pm ET -  Arkansas-Pine Bluff 13-17 (8-10) vs.  Mississippi Valley State 15-15 (12-6) | Preview
Recent: 03/06/2008 MVSU 54 @ARKPB 49 01/05/2008 ARKPB 60 @MVSU 56
9:00 pm ET -  Alabama State 20-9 (15-3) vs.  Southern 11-19 (9-9) | Preview
Recent: 02/25/2008 SOU 46 @ALAST 65 01/28/2008 ALAST 59 @SOU 44
One of the nation's hottest group of scorers, Boise State, was leading the league for most of the season but could exact double-revenge on top seed Utah State, which beat them twice this season. It's a clash of recent champions in the late game, and it'll come down to which advantage is more potent: NMSU's home court or Nevada's speed and shooting.
8:00 pm ET -  Boise State 23-8 (12-4) vs.  Utah State 24-9 (12-4) | Preview
Recent: 03/06/2008 USU 88 @BOIST 69 01/17/2008 BOIST 78 @USU 82
10:30 pm ET -  Nevada 21-10 (12-4) vs.  New Mexico State 20-13 (12-4) | Preview
Recent: 02/28/2008 NMSU 85 @NEV 98 01/24/2008 NEV 87 @NMSU 78
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