CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK NOTEBOOK
-A new bracket projection should be posted sometime later this morning. Several of yesterdays games will come into play.
-Lots of overtime games today. In the ACC alone, we had one game between Wake Forest and Georgia Tech go into double overtime, and another game between Duke and NC State go to O.T. as well. Strangely enough, all the lower seeds won in the ACC Tournament today. Duke and Maryland are still locks to make the NCAAs despite their losses, but Georgia Tech might be sweating a little bit after their loss to Wake Forest. It certainly puts them closer to the bubble than theyd like to be.
-UCLA also fell to California. Cal has really looked good in their two conference tournament games. Had they played that way for the whole season, they wouldnt need the automatic bid in order to get in.
-Louisville vs West Virginia also went to double overtime. It looked as though West Virginia had the game won at the end of regulation, but Louisville drove the length of the floor in four seconds to get a game tying layup and force O.T. WVU really needed this win to make the NCAAs. I dont think their resume is good enough to get an at-large. Theyre a very young team, and should be good again next year.
-Alabamas tournament hopes are pretty much over. Kentucky beat them badly in the SEC Opening Round.
-Air Force has lost four straight games and has now been eliminated from the Mountain West. They still appear okay to make the NCAA Tournament, but their seed isnt looking nearly as good as it was a few weeks ago. Air Force has never won a conference tournament game or an NCAA Tournament game in the history of the program, and that status is still in tact after yesterdays loss to Wyoming.
-9. FLORIDA STATE VS 1. NORTH CAROLINA. UNC can make their final case for a #1 seed with a strong showing in this tournament. A win today might be enough to put them on the top line. Florida State is right on the bubble, but a win today will most likely be enough to get them to the dance. Thats easier said than done, though. UNC won handily when the two met earlier this season.
-12. MIAMI, FL VS 4. BOSTON COLLEGE. Miami got here by upsetting Maryland in the opening round. It is the second time Miami had beaten Maryland this season. BC managed to beat the Canes rather handily both times the teams met during the regular season, so they could have a rougher go of it today. BC is in, but they are probably looking to improve their seed.
-10. NORTH CAROLINA STATE VS 2. VIRGINIA. NC State has struggled most of the season, but they have played extremely well on ocassion. They upset Duke in the opening round game, and actually have a blowout win against Virginia Tech from earlier this season, so it isnt unthinkable for them to win in the semis if they upset Virginia today. Virginia is in, but can solidify a spot in the pod system with an impressive showing in the conference tourney.
-11. WAKE FOREST VS 3. VIRGINIA TECH. Wake went to double overtime in a thriller against Georgia Tech in the opening round, but face a very tough Virginia team today who is looking to avoid a bad loss and improve their seed with some big wins in the conference tournament. A strong showing should put them into the pod system.
BIG EAST SEMIFINALS
-4. NOTRE DAME VS 1. GEORGETOWN. Both teams are locks for the NCAA Tournament, and Georgetown is a lock for the Pod System. Notre Dame had a nice win against Syracuse in the quarters and can really jack their seed up with a win in this game. Georgetown won the regular season meeting rather convincingly, but the Irish have been playing much better since then.
-3. PITTSBURGH VS 2. LOUISVILLE. Pitt won rather convincingly against a pretty good Marquette team in the quarters, whereas Louisville struggled with West Virginia and needed overtime to get this far. Louisville won rather easily at Pitt earlier this year, but it was far from Pitts best game so there is no reason to think the Cardinals will walk all over them again. Both teams are locks for the NCAA Tournament. Pitt is in the pod system, and Louisville could get there with a win in this game.
PAC TEN SEMIFINALS
-8. CALIFORNIA VS 4. OREGON. Cal upset UCLA in the quarters in order to advance to this game. As good of a win as that was, Cal still needs to win the conference tournament to make the dance. Oregon looked very impressive in their win against Arizona, and is a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Theyre still in a position to really improve their seed if they can win the Pac Ten Tournament, though.
-3. USC VS 2. WASHINGTON STATE. Both teams are locks for the NCAA Tournament and are just playing in order to improve their seed. USC is in a position to really have their seed jump if they can end up winning the conference tourney. These two teams played an overtime thriller less than a week ago, and USC is coming off a thrilling overtime win against Stanford, so this one should be exciting. Weve seen quite a few exciting games in the Pac Ten this year.
PATRIOT LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
-2. BUCKNELL AT 1. HOLY CROSS. Both of these teams could be dangerous first round opponents. The winner is most likely looking at a #13 or #14 seed. Bucknell has made it to the second round of the NCAAs two years in a row and although they dont appear to be as dominant this year, theyre still a pretty good team. Holy Cross is good as well. Both went 13-1 in league play with their only losses coming to each other. This is the rubber match. Holy Cross struggled in their semifinal game and were almost upset by American, but managed to hang on and win. Bucknell has breezed through their games so far. It should be a great atsmosphere for this one. It usually is at Holy Cross.
BIG TEN QUARTERFINALS
-8. MICHIGAN VS 1. OHIO STATE. Ohio State is in great position to get a #1 seed. Michigan had some good wins down the stretch and nearly upset Ohio State just last week, but they still have quite a bit of work to do if they want to make the NCAAs. Winning today is pretty much a must, and they probably need another win after that.
-5. PURDUE VS 4. IOWA. Purdue is right on the bubble, but a loss today would likely eliminate them from NCAA Tournament consideration. Iowa, despite being seeded 4th, will most likely need to win this tournament in order to get a bid. Purdue has struggled on the road, and needs to perform on a neutral floor if they want into the dance.
-7. MICHIGAN STATE VS 2. WISCONSIN. These two teams played just last Sunday, and it was a classic with Michigan State nearly pulling off the upset. Wisconsin can still end up as a #1 seed, and likely will get one if they advance to the finals of the tournament. Michigan State is pretty safe for a bid as well, but a win today would really boost the quality of their resume.
-6. ILLINOIS VS 3. INDIANA. These two teams have a big rivalry going, so this should be another entertaining game. Its also very high stakes. Indiana is in, but like most of the rest of the conference has struggled away from home and a few neutral floor wins would really help them out. Illinois is very close to the bubble and needs to win this game in order to feel safer come Selection Sunday.
-E4. KENTUCKY VS W1. MISSISSIPPI STATE. Kentucky really looked impressive in their win against Alabama. Theyre a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but their seed isnt as good as theyd like right now so these games are important because it enables them to build upon that. Kentucky beat Mississippi State in a close game earlier this season, but that was at home so we could see a better game today. Mississippi State is playing for their NCAA Tournament life. They may be able to get in if they make it to the finals, but even that may not be good enough if they dont win the championship.
-W3. ARKANSAS VS E2. VANDERBILT. Vandy is in the dance, but can help their seed out by playing well in this tournament. Arkansas has quite a bit of work to do and most likely needs to win at least two more games in order to strengthen their case. A loss in this game pretty much eliminates them. Arkansas just won at Vanderbilt rather decisively, so they do have the talent necessary to win this game. Vandy didnt play well at all in that game, though, so they may be looking for a little revenge.
-E5. GEORGIA VS E1. FLORIDA. Florida struggled in a few games down the stretch, but they are the defending champions and played posted the best overall record during the regular season. Advancing to the championship game should be enough to clinch them a #1 seed. Georgia got here by beating Auburn rather easily, and they still have a shot at making the NCAAs, but winning today is pretty much a must. A loss most likely eliminates them from the discussion.
-W6. LSU VS W2. MISSISSIPPI. LSU upset Tennessee in the opening round, and played one of their better games of the year. Ole Miss has a good team and might get some consideration of they can advance to the title game, but anything short of that isnt going to be enough. LSU needs to win the conference tourney in order to make the NCAAs.
BIG TWELVE QUARTERFINALS
-9. OKLAHOMA VS 1. KANSAS. The Sooners played Kansas tough not that long ago, but they were at home. Winning on a neutral floor wont be so easy. Kansas is already in a position to get a very good seed, and winning this confernece tournament will likely make them a lock for a #2 seed. Oklahoma will need to win the tourney in order to make the NCAAs.
-5. TEXAS TECH VS 4. KANSAS STATE. Texas Tech is in, but appear to be hovering around a #10 or #11 seed. Some big wins in the tournament will certainly cause that to improve. I have Kansas State out right now, but I could see them getting in as an at-large if they can make it to the championship game. A win in this one sets up a potential match-up with rival Kansas, and a win in a game like that should be enough to put them into the field.
-11. BAYLOR VS 3. TEXAS. Baylor got here by upsetting Missouri and looked rather impressive in doing so. They will really have their hands full with a Texas team that has a good shot at making the pod system, and could even end up winning this tournament. The Horns will be in the dance regardless of what happens.
-7. OKLAHOMA STATE VS 2. TEXAS A&M. Oklahoma State defeated Nebraska in the opening round, which was their first win away from home since December when they beat Pittsburgh in Oklahoma City. They are still on the outside looking in, but should get some strong consideration if they advance to the title game and beat Texas and Texas A&M in the process. TAMU, on the other hand, is locked into the pod system and can be seeded as high as #2 depending on how they play in this tournament.
MOUNTAIN WEST SEMIFINALS
-5. WYOMING VS 1. BYU. Wyoming got here by upsetting Air Force, which is the second straight year theyve upset Air Force in the quarterfinals. BYU won their quarterfinal game easily and shouldnt have too much trouble with the Cowboys tonight. BYU is in the dance no matter what happens, but if they can win this tournament it would really help out their seed.
-6. COLORADO STATE AT 2. UNLV. Colorado State upset San Diego State in the quarters, which ends any hopes they had of making the NCAA Tournament. UNLV is a lock and is just playing for seeding at this point. Theyve been very tough to beat at home and recently won handily against Colorado State, so theyre definitely the favorites in this one.
ATLANTIC TEN SEMIFINALS
-4. RHODE ISLAND VS 1. XAVIER. Xavier won easily over Dayton in the quarterfinals, whereas Rhode Island really struggled against Fordham. Xavier won this game in a blowout when the two met during the season, so they definitely appear to have the advantage in this one. Rhode Island needs the automatic bid to get in, whereas Xavier appears to be in pretty good shape for an at-large.
-7. SAINT LOUIS VS 3. GEORGE WASHINGTON. Saint Louis got here by upsetting Massachusetts in the quarterfinals, and actually beat GW rather handily during the season, so they have a chance to pull off another win and advance to the title game. GW looked pretty good against Saint Josephs in their quarterfinal game, but it will be interesting to see if they can push the tempo of the game against Saint Louis. Both teams need the automatic bid to get in.
-4. UTAH STATE VS 1. NEVADA. Utah State won in a thriller against Hawaii in the quarterfinals. They also recently defeated Nevada, but they did so on their home floor. Pulling that off at a neutral site wont be so easy. Nevada is in the NCAA Tournament and will likely end up seeded around #6th or so, but Utah State needs to win the conference tourney in order to get in.
-6. BOISE STATE AT 2. NEW MEXICO STATE. Boise won in an exciting game against Fresno State in the quarters, and appears to be playing very well. New Mexico State didnt have too much trouble with Louisiana Tech, but Boise is a much better team. Still, NMSU is at home and the fans are behind them. A win here means theyre one win away from the NCAA Tournament, which would be a huge accomplishment for them considering how poor their team was just a few years ago.
CONFERENCE USA SEMIFINALS
-4. TULANE AT 1. MEMPHIS. This tournament should be renamed the Memphis Invitational. Its in Memphis and the Tigers are clearly the strongest team. Tulane won an exciting game against Tulsa in the quarterfinals, but have a much tougher assignment today. If they can pull the upset, theyll have a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament.
-7. RICE VS 3. HOUSTON. Rice pulled the upset over VCU thanks to a strong showing from Morris Almond
. Houston got a scare from Southern Miss, but managed to hold on and win by three. The winner will go to the conference title game, and thats the only shot either has at the NCAA Tournament.
MID AMERICAN SEMIFINALS
-4. Miami, OH vs 1. Toledo
-3. Kent State vs 2. Akron
Its an all Ohio semifinal. The only team that had any trouble in the quarterfinals was Kent State, and even they ended up winning by a somewhat comfortable margin. All the other teams won in blowouts. Hopefully the semifinal games will be more exciting. All remaining teams have a good shot at winning it, which should make it very exciting because none can get in without the automatic bid.
BIG WEST SEMIFINALS
-5. UC Irvine vs 1. Long Beach
-3. CS Fullerton vs 2. Cal Poly
Long Beach and Cal Poly both had byes into the semifinals, so they should be rested. Long Beach is the favorite to win the tournament, and they look to have a pretty good team, but they cant get in without the automatic bid. CS Fullerton has some pretty good athletes as well and could challenge for conference championship.
-4. McNeese State vs 1. TX A&M Corpus Christi
-7. Lamar vs 3. Northwestern State
With Sam Houston being upset in the quarterfinals, it looks as though TAMUCC has a clear shot at winning the tournament and picking up the automatic bid. That would be a nice accomplishment seeing as how this is their first year in the league.
-5. Morgan State vs 1. Delaware State
-3. North Carolina A&T vs 2. Florida A&M
The winner of this league is most likely looking at a #16 seed. Delaware State is still the big favorite, but Morgan State did beat them earlier this season, so it is by no means a shoe-in.
-5. Texas Arlington vs 1. Mississippi Valley State
-6. Arkansas Pine Bluff vs 2. Jackson State
The winner of this tournament still looks to be headed to the play-in game. The only way that would change would be if some of the weaker teams remaining in the smaller conferences go on a run and win their tournaments as well.