Thursday, March 6, 2008

Keep 'Em Coming

Kentucky, Temple, UMass, Syracuse, Villanova, and Texas A&M all kept their tournament hopes alive with wins, including a tough one for A&M at Baylor. Florida couldn't knock off Tennessee, and is likely headed to the NIT. Seton Hall and Oklahoma State were losers at home to the 'Cuse and Oklahoma, and are both also knocked off the bubble. No major upsets in the Sun Belt, but over in the Patriot Navy was knocked off by Bucknell in triple OT, and American barely held off Holy Cross, winning by two.

MISSOURI VALLEY: Everybody knows about the Missouri Valley, because it's been the darling of the mid-majors for a few years now, and with good reason. The Valley is down a bit this year - likely only two bids- but still boasts a solid team or three. Leading the way is Drake, who finished up at 25-4 including a win at Butler to prove they are for real. The Bulldogs are a lock to make the tournament, with or without the auto-bid. That leaves the second bit up to a fight between second and third place regular season finishers Southern Illinois and Illinois State. So Ill has been there before, including a couple sweet 16 appearances, while Illinois State has burst on the scene this year led by guys with names like Osiris, Boo, Dom, and Levi. Sounds scary.
FAVORITE: Drake, but they don't need it
SLEEPER: Bradley. Have wins at Drake and against Illinois State this year. Point guard and second leading scorer Daniel Ruffin has missed a lot of time with injuries this season, but he's back and dropped 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists on Creighton in a double OT thriller in his first game back.
W's PICK: Southern Illinois. The Salukis are experienced, with top players Randal Falker, Matt Shaw, and Bryan Mullins all having been there before. They still play the same slow down, tough defensive style that can wear teams out.

NORTHEASTERN: One of the more irrelevant conferences in division one, the NEC might actually have a decent team this year in Robert Morris. The Colonials finished with 25 wins this season, including wins over Boston College and Fordham, and have won their last 13 straight going into the NEC tournament. They are a rare team that plays a fast paced game, but also is tough defensively, and they rank 7th in the country in turning other teams over.
FAVORITE: Robert Morris
SLEEPER: Wagner. Not sure how much of a sleeper they are, since they finished second in the conference, but they did just get blow apart by RMU by 22.
W's PICK: Wagner. Just seems like the kind of thing that would happen.

Arizona State @ Oregon - a true elimination game, as the loser can forget it. The winner will need to grab a couple more wins though
Xavier @ St Joe's - would be a huge win for the Hawks. A loss doesn't kill them, but it's close

TOMORROW: American East, Southern, Colonial, West Coast, and the MAAC all tip off. Plus DAY ACTION!

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