Coming into conference tournament week there had been a lot of talk coming from the college basketball media that this might be the weakest bubble ever. We are loath to admit it, but they might just be right.
Ticket Punched. Lost in all the mess of the BCS conference also-rans blowing their chances every night is that one team actually earned a NCAA Tournament bid in the last .
- Lehigh 74, Lafayette 59. For the 16th time in 20 years, the Patriot League will send its regular season champ to the NCAA Tournament after that same team also won the post-season tournament. In a game that was closer than the final score indicates (Lehigh led by 6 with less than 3 minutes to go), the Mountain Hawks (22-10) earned their 4th trip overall to the NCAA Tournament and first since 2004 behind a strong performance from senior Zahir Carrington‘s huge game with 18 points (on 9/11 FG), 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 4 blocks while their star freshman C.J. McCollum added 20 points and 7 rebounds. The game between schools just 17 miles apart was the 213th meeting between the schools, but the first time that they played with a NCAA Tournament bid on the line. We would normally rip a player who comes up with something as trite as Carrington’s post-game quote, “No offense to those guys, but they just didn’t want it as bad as we did,” unless they played UConn in this year’s Big East Tournament, but we’ll give him a pass today because of how well he played. What’s next for the Mountain Hawks? Most likely a #16 seed assuming The Committee decides to throw them in the game that shall not be named.
Bubble Burst? Where do we begin? Plenty of teams that would be perilously close to the bubble in a normal year lost games that we would usually call fatal, but that might not matter this year. Yes, Virginia Tech, Florida, and Wake Forest, I am talking about you. This year you will probably get away with it. Memphis, UAB, Arizona State, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Mississippi State, and Seton Hall? You probably will not be so lucky. On the plus side there is a small chance that CBS or ESPN might get a camera on Bobby Gonzalez when the Pirates are not selected. [Ed. Note: If you aren't familiar with Gonzalez's body of work, check out what The NY Times wrote about him recently during his time at Manhattan and at Seton Hall.] If you’re wondering if we left somebody out, you’re right. We’re saving that elimination for its own special section.
Dumbest Play of the Year. Last year we had Jamelle Horne. This year’s recipient may not have made as egregious of an error, but his will ultimately be more costly. Allow me to introduce you to Dayton senior guard Rob Lowery. With his team fighting for its NCAA Tournament life and the game winding down, the Flyers trailed Xavier by 2 points with 33.6 seconds left when Lowery called timeout to set up a potential game-tying play. On his way to the bench, Terrell Holloway slapped at the ball which was still in Lowery’s hands. Lowery responded by swinging/slapping at Holloway and was given a technical. The Musketeers hit their free throws which essentially iced the game and now the Flyers and the uber-hyped Chris Wright will be making plans for a trip to the NIT.
It’s worth noting that while Brian Gregory continued to state that he did not see the play in the post-game press conference and continued to insinuate it was a questionable call one notable player was not made available to the media: Lowery.
Your National Player of the Year.