ATB: Mid-Major Tourney SaturdayPosted by rtmsf on March 7th, 2010
Wild Saturday. Obviously, there’s a million things to talk about this weekend, but this special ATB Saturday edition will focus exclusively on the thirteen conference tournaments that were going on across the country today. In our usual weekend edition on Sunday night, we’ll discuss all the other games from the bigger conferences who are still finishing up regular season action, including the upsets of #1 Syracuse, #5 Kansas State and so forth. Bear with us, as we’ll be back tomorrow.
Conference Tourneys. The ‘expanded’ NCAA Tourney continued today with another 35 teams eliminated on this glorious Saturday of hoops across the nation.
- Ohio Valley. Murray State pulled away late from the #2 seed, Morehead State, to win its eighth conference championship in the last sixteen years. The Racers also reached the 30-win mark for the first time in school and OVC history en route to its fourteenth NCAA Tournament bid. In an ugly, defensive-oriented game, it was Isaiah Canaan who came off the bench for the Racers to provide offensive punch (16/5), but it was his block on a breakaway dunk attempt (called a foul) that electrified the crowd and made the ESPN top 10 plays tonight. Murray will be a nightmare of a matchup for the team that draws them in the first round of the NCAAs this year.
- Big South. #3 Winthrop pulled off the upset at top seed Coastal Carolina in their building tonight, winning 64-53 behind a strong second half and a suffocating defense that held CCU’s best player, Joseph Harris, to a mere three points on 1-6 shooting. This is Winthrop’s fifth Big South title in the last six years, an amazing feat considering that the original architect of the program, Gregg Marshall has since moved on to Wichita State (playing for its own bid tomorrow). The Eagles are probably looking at a #16 seed this year.
- Atlantic Sun. East Tennessee State won its second consecutive A-Sun Tournament tonight, this time as a #5 seed. The Bucs’ pressure defense forced sixteen Mercer turnovers and held their two stars, James Florence and Danny Emerson, to nearly half their typical offensive output. Justin Tubbs had 18/3 for the winning team, This clearly isn’t a vintage ETSU team, but Murray Bartow has them back in the Dance for the third time in his career there, where they’re likely looking at a #16 seed again.
- Missouri Valley. At Arch Madness, the top two seeds advanced today with #1 Northern Iowa shutting down everything #5 Bradley tried to do on offense today, and #2 Wichita State surviving a close one against Illinois State. Of course, UNI is already secure in an NCAA Tournament bid, but they’re attempting to win back-to-back MVC titles, while Wichita will not be invited unless they earn the auto-bid tomorrow. The two teams split home-and-home this year, and you’d have to believe that the Shockers will bring everything they’ve got tomorrow afternoon. RTC Live will be there covering the game.
- Horizon. Top seed Butler was tested early and often by #4 Milwaukee, getting down as many as ten points in the first half before using its staunch defense to take control of the game and move into the Horizon League finals for the fifth consecutive year. All five Bulldog players scored in double figures, but it wasn’t until a late push by Ronald Nored and Matt Howard that Butler was comfortable. They will meet #2 Wright State, who blew out #7 Detroit from the opening tap tonight. The two teams will meet for the third time in Tuesday night’s finals, with Butler winning both previous games by twelve points.
- Colonial. In today’s quarterfinals in Richmond, top seed Old Dominion wrecked #8 Towson, and #5 VCU enjoyed a mild upset over #4 George Mason to advance to the semis, but the second and third seeds had their word cut out for them. #2 Northeastern needed double-overtime to outlast #7 Hofstra, 74-71, behind Matt Janning’s 26/9/3 assts in 46 effective minutes of action. The Huskies will meet #3 William & Mary, who used a 16-2 run in the mid-second half to take control of their game against #11 James Madison and move on to the semifinals. It should be a great afternoon of quality basketball with the top three seeds plus quasi-home team VCU in the semis tomorrow and RTC Live will be there.
- America East. The quarterfinal round was largely uneventful with three of the top four seeds, #1 Stony Brook, #2 Vermont and #4 Boston U., advancing to the semis easily. The lone upset was #6 New Hampshire handling #3 Maine by 11, putting a premature end to the best year for the lads from Orono since 2004. In the semis tomorrow, SB will play Boston U. next, whom they’ve already beaten twice this year, while Vermont will get New Hampshire — the two teams split that season series.
- MAAC. Top seed Siena used a dominant 42-21 second half to put away the pesky Jaspers of Manhattan behing Alex Franklin’s 23/11, and #2 Fairfield knocked out #7 Canisius, but the #3 and #4 seeds weren’t quite so lucky. In a game that ended well after 1 am ET, #6 Niagara outlasted three-seed Iona 68-64, and #5 Rider knocked out #4 St. Peter’s in the other quarterfinal. In tomorrow’s semis, Siena will play Rider, whom they beat twice by an average of 24 points this year, and Fairfield will do battle with Niagara, whom the Stags split with this year.
- SoCon. In the SoCon quarters tonight, all four of the top seeds advanced, and all four did so easily. The semis will feature #N1 Appalachian State vs. #S2 Charleston and #S1 Wofford against #N2 Western Carolina. Wofford will come into its game with WCU having won eleven in a row, seeking to avenge a December loss to the Catamounts. In the other game, Appalachian State has won nine of its last ten, but the sole loss in the past month was a one-point defeat at the hands of Charleston.
- Summit. In the Summit quarterfinals, top seed Oakland and second seed IUPUI advanced with wins over UMKC and Western Illinois, respectively. They will now wait until Monday night’s semis to play their next game against Sunday night’s other winners in the quarterfinal round. All five starters hit double figures for Oakland, a team that is rolling right now having won 18 of 19 games.
- Big Sky. #3 seed Montana State lost at home tonight when #6 Portland State’s Melvin Jones dropped a three with a few seconds left to pull the upset. #4 Montana easily defeated #5 Northern Arizona in the other first round game. There are only six teams invited to the Big Sky Tourney, so Portland State will play top seed Weber State in Ogden on Tuesday and Montana will meet #2 Northern Colorado on the same night.
- WCC. #3 seed Portland easily handled #6 San Diego in one second round game, but #5 Loyola Marymount continued its run in this tournament twenty years after Hank Gathers’ death with a mild upset over #4 San Francisco this evening. The Lions will have a chance to take on #1 Gonzaga in the semis tomorrow, a team they beat just a few short weeks ago, while Portland will do battle with #2 St. Mary’s. The Pilots split with SMC in its two games this year. RTC Live will be there in Las Vegas for all of the action.
- Sun Belt. The SBC’s weird dual-arena setup allows for five games in one day, and the higher seeds #4 Western Kentucky, #5 Arkansas State and #6 Denver all advanced, but #7 Louisiana-Lafayette and #8 Florida Atlantic were both nipped by a single point. The conference will now move into its quarterfinal round where the top three seeds Troy, North Texas and Middle Tennessee all received byes. UL-Monroe’s Tony Hooper was one conference hero tonight, as he hit a three at the buzzer to beat Lafayette (his 7th of the night) mere moments after it had appeared that Lafayette had won the game. South Alabama’s Bryan Sherrer was the other, hitting a two with four seconds remaining to win the game for his Jaguar team.
On Tap Tomorrow. One more automatic bid will be earned tomorrow.
- Missouri Valley finals. #1 Northern Iowa vs. #2 Wichita State.
- Colonial semis. #1 Old Dominion vs. #5 VCU; #2 Northeastern vs. #3 William & Mary.
- WCC semis. #1 Gonzaga vs. #5 Loyola Marymount; #2 St. Mary’s vs. #3 Portland.
- Patriot semis. #7 Holy Cross @ #3 Lafayette; #4 American @ #1 Lehigh.
- NEC semis. #4 LIU @ #1 Quinnipiac; #3 Mt. St. Mary’s @ #2 Robert Morris.
- America East semis. #1 Stony Brook vs. #4 Boston U.; #2 Vermont vs. #6 New Hampshire.
- MAAC semis. #1 Siena vs. #5 Rider; #2 Fairfield vs. #6 Niagara.
- SoCon semis. #N1 Appalachian State vs. #S2 Charleston; #S1 Wofford against #N2 Western Carolina.
- Sun Belt quarters. #1 Troy vs. #9 South Alabama; #2 North Texas vs. #10 Louisiana-Monroe; #3 Middle Tennessee vs. #6 Denver; #4 W. Kentucky vs. #5 Arkansas State.
- Summit quarters. #4 South Dakota State vs. #5 IUPU-Fort Wayne; #3 Oral Roberts vs. #6 North Dakota State.
- MAC first round. #9 Ohio @ #8 Ball State; #12 Toledo @ #5 Buffalo; #11 Northern Illinois @ #6 Eastern Michigan; #10 Bowling Green @ #7 Western Michigan.