Thursday, March 3, 2011

Our Long National Nightmare is Over

And we're done.  That's really all I have to say about that.  Nothing has changed since I wrote this post, so you can head there if you want to read my thoughts on this season further.  There's a lot of interesting basketball going on around the nation, so let's not dwell on the Gophers who I probably won't touch on until the NIT brackets are announced, if then.

Last night there were plenty of games with postseason implications.  Cincinnati now moves to lock status after winning at Marquette, as does Georgia with their win over LSU.  On the flip side, Memphis's loss to East Carolina absolutely sinks them, while Maryland's loss at Miami probably does the same, barring a big run in the ACC Tournament.  As far as team's still up in the air, Michigan State got the win they needed over Iowa - a win that doesn't but them in, but avoiding the loss keeps them from slipping out.  Clemson missed an opportunity by losing to Duke, but at Cameron you can't really expect a win, whereas staying the ACC, Florida State missed their chance to hit lock status by losing at home to UNC on a Harrison Barnes three-pointer.  The Seminoles are still in good shape, but are going to want to win at NC State in the regular season finale to keep the pressure off once the ACC Tourney starts.

The biggest win of the night goes to UAB, who not only kept their at-large chances alive, but did it by picking off Southern Miss on the road, giving them not only another quality victory (RPI 39) they desperately needed but an impressive road win as well.  As long as they don't slip up in the finale against East Carolina (the team that just knocked Memphis from at-large consideration) they should only need a win or two in the C-USA tournament to get a bid.  The biggest loss, aside from those teams that basically killed themselves, was Colorado losing in Ames to Iowa State.  The Buffaloes made some serious strides in recent weeks towards bid-dom, and although this loss doesn't doom them it hurts badly.  Finally, Utah State and Richmond did what they needed to do, beating subpar teams on the road where a loss would have killed their chances.  Both remain alive and in good shape.

Also of note, BYU got crushed at home by a mediocre New Mexico in their first game after kicking Brandon Davies off the team for, get this, having premarital sex.  What a terrible crime, and it's great to see a school destroy their National Championship chances in order to punish a lawless lad, running around with no regard for other people and threatening to destroy the fabric of this great country.  It's about time someone stood up to these college kids who think they can just go around, destroying morals and promoting anarchy.  Good for BYU I say, this should stem the tide.  One down, millions more to go.

As usual during this week, there are a few conference tournaments kicking off today:

NORTHEAST CONFERENCE:  Usually one of the poorer conferences from year-to-year from a basketball playing standpoint, the NEC is a little bit better this year mainly thanks to a couple of decent teams in Long Island and Quinnipiac who went a combined 45-13 this year.  That doesn't mean either team is actually good since the only decent win between the two of them was Quinnipiac's win over Rhode Island, but at least the NEC rep, assuming it's one of these two squads, might be able to stick with their first round opponent for a short while.  Or not.
FAVORITE:  Long Island.  Not since the days of Charles Jones picking fights with Miles Tarver has there been this much excitement for Blackbird basketball.  At 16-2 in conference, 24-5 overall, and playing an excited brand of ball with the 3rd fastest overall pace in all of the NCAA this year, I'm hoping they win.
SLEEPER:  Robert Morris.  They're the third place team, they've won this thing the last two years, and they actually played a bunch of very good teams this year - West Virginia, Pitt, Arizona, Cleveland State - and they beat Duquesne.
W's PICK:  Robert Morris.  They have the experience and they're the best defensive team in the conference. Add in a slow tempo that could wreak havoc with LIU and I think the Colonials take this for the third year running.

MISSOURI VALLEY:  It doesn't seem that long ago that the Valley was getting multiple NCAA at-large berths and was the darling of the mid-major crowd.  They had high hopes again this year, thinking Northern Iowa, Missouri State, and Wichita State all had good shots at grabbing bids, but at this point it looks only Mo State still has a prayer, and even that's a pretty big longshot.
FAVORITE:  Missouri State.  Although Wichita State rates slightly better using nerd stats, Mizz State won the conference and swept the Shockers to do it.  I'd feel a little better about the Bears if they had beaten anybody outside of the conference and hadn't gotten spanked by Valpo in Bracket Busters, but hey, at least they have Cuonzo Martin.
SLEEPER:  Indiana State.  The other three teams I mentioned get most of the press, but the Sycamores quietly finished in third place and swept Northern Iowa, beat Missouri State, and took Wichita to three overtimes before losing.
W's PICK:  Wichita State.  I watched these guys play UCONN to the wire in Maui and in their loss to VCU, and they just seem like they're on a completely different level than the rest of the conference, including Missouri State.  I have no idea how they lost to them twice.

AMERICAN EAST:  Outside of perennial garbage conferences the SWAC and MEAC and the brand new Great West (which includes a school from New Jersey) this is the worst conference in America.  Can you feel the excitement?
FAVORITE: Vermont.  They're the #1 seed, they play good defense, and um, they beat Iona.  Woo hoo.
SLEEPER:  Maine.  On Jan. 29th, the Black Bears looked like a juggernaut at 8-1 in conference play with non-conference wins over UMass and Penn State and wins over both Vermont and Boston, their two toughest competitors.  Since then, they've gone 1-7, and I can't find any evidence of an injury or reason.  So I'll say if they can figure out what's going on - and it's a senior laden team so I think it's possible - they could definitely win this.
W's PICK:  Boston.  The AEC generally comes down to Vermont vs. Boston every year, and this year the Terriers hold the upper hand after sweeping Vermont in the regular season.


Tennessee @ South Carolina - The Vols have a ton of good wins, but have enough bad losses that they still can't quite feel safe.  A win here would likely seal the deal.

UCLA @ Washington - The Bruins are in, but Washington, who once looked like the class of the Pac-10, is still reeling a bit.  A win over an NCAA lock like UCLA would go a long way, and would probably be enough to guarantee them a bid.

Also keep an eye on the Big South semifinal between Coastal Carolina and VMI.  Coastal Carolina has been the class of the conference all year, but are facing some off court issues.  The program is being investigated by the NCAA which led to the suspension of leading scorer Desmond Holloway (sweet name).  If they can get through this tournament and have the team whole in the NCAAs they could do some damage, but I picked VMI as a sleeper in the Big South so this is a dangerous game, especially with everything else going on.


Mustache Rider said...

American East preview and no love for Evan Fjeld's name or mustache?

J. McMahon said...

I must admit that I'm not really shocked at your take on the BYU situation. Of course you would blame the school and not the player. Just like you blamed Mbakwe's victim and not Mbakwe himself for his little Facebook incident . It's called an honor code, if he couldn't adhere to it, then he shouldn't have agreed to live by it.

I'm sure you think honor codes are for troglodytes that don't have the ability to think for themselves. But I'd bet that your cynicism stems from the fact that you clearly have no honor, as witnessed by the fact that you're in your 30s and weigh close to 300 pounds.

So maybe tonight, instead of pounding down a twelver and watching Wagner vs. Bob Morris, you grab an iced tea and watch School Ties.

Red Panda said...

WWWWWWWWWW only weighs 285 asshole!

WWWWWW said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I could give a shit what kind of person the players on my favorite team are, or whether or not they graduate, or if they're faithful to their wife or girlfriend. I only care about winning.

That being said, I don't actually fault BYU - the fault is 100% on Davies. He signed up for that school, he knew about the honor code, and no matter how ridiculous and stupid I think it is, he broke it and he knew he broke it. If it was my favorite team I'd want them to look the other way since he's a star athlete and a key piece of their dream season, but I don't fault the school for sticking to their rules.

No matter how stupid I think they are.

WWWWWW said...

And you're both significantly too high on your attempts to hurt my feelings.

J. McMahon said...

You're right, I exaggerated a little to try to make my point. You probably only pounded a sixer - it was a school night.