Tag:Colonial Conference
Posted on: March 8, 2010 11:39 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 9:35 am
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The Monday Night Wrap

MATT JONES

11:30 PM

Now THAT is what Championship Week is supposed to be about.  One great game goes to overtime, another team makes its first ever NCAA Tournament and a power goes down in a game they always win.  This was the kind of night we have waited for!  Some notes:

---  The game of the night was the MAAC Championship, which our man CM recapped in a great running journal, but was a classic game for March.  Siena is the power of the conference, having made the last two NCAA Tournaments and won their first round game in both, a feat that less than ten teams in the country will be able to claim in this year's version of the NCAA.  They got down big early, falling behind by 13, just as they had in both their quarter and semifinal games as well.  But they stormed back, and watched as their opponent Fairfield, went ice cold in overtime to give Siena their third straight tournament berth.  Siena is slowly entering the Gonzaga/Butler level, where they can no longer be considered a sleeper team, but rather are a legitimate power to be contended with every season.  They showed the heart of a champion tonight.

---  Ding-Dong the witch is dead.  Gonzaga showed why its the softest program in America yet again on Monday, getting hammered by St Marys.  The Zags were beaten off the dribble, outhustled to loose balls and then lost their cool down the stretch, getting smoked by 19 in the tournament final.  That game thus gave us two realities...first, St Marys is in and worries about their bubble status are irrelevant.  And second, Gonzaga is once again a team to ignore in your NCAA pool...just like every year.

---  The best story of the night comes from Wofford, which will be in its first NCAA Tournament ever after winning the Southern Conference Tournament in Charlotte.  The Terriers held on to beat Appalachian State after giving up an 18 point second half lead and allowing the App. State to cut the game to three.  But Wofford hit big free throws down the stretch and they will be dancing for the first time in school history.  The tiny school in Rock Hill, South Carolina is known for almost nothing except having produced Wendy Nix and a bunch of congressmen in South Carolina that you dont know.  But now they will be the darlings of the NCAA Tournament, and having beaten both South Carolina and Georgia this year, they could be dangerous depending on the matchup.

---  The final ticket was punched in the "Battle of the Moustaches" as Old Dominion won the Colonial Title with a solid win over William and Mary.  ODU is going to its first tournament since 2007, built in large part on there athletic play that has overwhelmed their opponents in the Colonial, both in the regular season and the tournament.  When you watch ODU play, think of two things...first their coach's black moustache has the potential to be one of the 4 or 5 most ridiculous modern looks you will see from people that venture out in public.  Also, ODU is another team that can pull a shocker...they will likely be ticketed for something like a #13 seed, and if given the right #4 team (like maybe Vandy), we could see the traditional 4-13 upset go down,

So there you have it...a great night of college basketball to kick off one of the most fun weeks of the year.  Tonight we have three more finals, with the Sun Belt Conference, The Big Sky and the Butler-dominated Horizon League.  Also, the Big East Tournament kicks off in New York and we get that exciting South Florida-Depaul matchup that you have waited all year for.  We will get you ready for all these events and more all day...so stay tuned and tell your friends...because they want to know, even if they say they don't.

Posted on: March 8, 2010 1:01 am
 

The Day Ahead: Monday of Championship Week

MATT JONES

1:00 AM

It was a relatively calm day (again) in the world of Championship Week and we were all left wondering, when is the Madness going to start?  The only news of big importance was the 67-52 win by Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, that sends the Panthers into the Big Dance with an automatic bid, thus ensuring that bubble teams from major conferences have another bid to fight over in the next week.   The Missouri Valley Tournament was supposed to be the highlight of the first four days of Championship Week, but it ended up being a dud, thus leaving us hoping for more wackiness in the days ahead.  I suspect we will see it however, as there are FOUR CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS TONIGHT, each of which provide interesting storylines to follow.  Here is a snapshot:

COLONIAL:  Old Dominion vs William and Mary

We get started in the heart of the Confederacy, as Old Dominion takes on William and Mary for the automatic bid in the Colonial Conference.  This entire tournament was suspected to be an elaborate ruse to get Old Dominion on the court with Northeastern for the title, but old William and his wife Mary combined to pull off the upset in the second semifinal on Sunday and ruin everyone's fun.  In all actuality, the most exciting basketball in all of America may have taken place at the Colonial Semifinals Sunday, as Old Dominion squeaked into the finals in OT, beating a tough VCU team in an offensive showcase, followed by William and Mary winning a defensive battle over Northeastern.  Now the two styles meet on Monday at 7 pm, with Old Dominion the heavy favorite.  For those of you following bubble teams, be on alert....Old Dominion is in contention for an at-large bid, so if they fall, you lose a bid for a mediocre power conference school.  You have been warned.

MAAC:  Siena vs Fairfield

At 7 pm tonight, the top two teams in the MAAC will square off for the automatic bid, with familiar Siena the favorite once again.  Siena only has one loss in conference and had they beaten Butler in the Bracketbuster event, would be a sure lock for the Tournament.  But now they may need to win on Monday, producing more pressure for this "biggest little program in America" than possibly any other school playing.  The last time these two teams matched up, it was on Siena's home court, where this game is also being played.  In that contest, Siena won with a late shot, 69-67.  This game will be a war and could be the game of the night.  Plus its in Albany and maybe David Patterson will show up with a mistress and make New Jersey jokes.  One can only hope.

SOUTHERN:  Wofford vs Appalachian State

I learned two important facts about this tournament over the course of the last four days.  First, the initial two rounds were played in something called the "Bojangles Coliseum", which may be the strangest name for an arena in these here United States.  If you are from North Carolina, you know Bojangles and its great dirty rice, but I think a move to the more mainstream "Time Warner Cable Arena" for the final two rounds was appropriate.  Then, I was also excited to learn that the former Miss Teen South Carolina who told us that we should give maps to the "Iraqis and such as" goes to Appalachian State.  I have been to Boone, North Carolina before and it is the best college town that no one knows about and has a disproportionate amount of gorgeous women for a school its size.  I tell you that only to say that when you watch this game, you should think not only about the action on the court (these are two of the three best teams in the league and Appalachian State won the only regular season meeting by one point), but the fun the people in Boone are having while you are watching on your couch.

WEST COAST:  Gonzaga vs St Marys

Has Gonzaga ever not played St Marys?  Seriously, everytime it is late at night and Gonzaga is on television, they are playing St Marys.  It is like the old NBA in the 90s, when the Knicks and Heat were contractually required to play each other 40 times a year, and each game would end 73-72 in Overtime.  Well once again they will play, this time for the West Coast Conference title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.  Gonzaga is of course the heavy favorite because they still have that kid who did mushrooms and a lot of long guys with floppy hair who will beat you senseless so long as it isnt March.  St Marys no longer has Patty Mills, so they stink, just not as badly as the other teams in the West Coast Conference.  If Gonzaga loses, it takes away a bubble spot, but they wont, so when the game starts at 9 pm, flip over and watch the Southern Conference.  There will be better looking women, a better game and you might learn what a "Wofford" is.

So there you have it...your night on tap.  We will be around all day for more updates as we shift into high gear for what will be a great week of basketball excitement and random blogging action.

Posted on: March 6, 2010 11:33 pm
 

The Day Ahead: Sunday of Championship Week

MATT JONES

11:45 PM

It was a day filled with college basketball, both large and small, a perfect example of what makes the sport great and how wonderful sports can be when you are playing for the name on the front...ah forget it, I cant do that with a straight face.  It was a highly entertaining day of hoops around the college game, although most of the big action occurred with the major powers.  Syracuse was beaten by Louisville for the second time this year, closing down Freedom Hall with chants of a player who going into the contest was averaging three points a game ("You got Kuriced!").  Kansas State kissed their hopes for a #1 seed goodbye with an embarassing loss at home to Iowa State that will force the bars in Manhattan to close extra late (11:00 pm) in order for people to drown their sorrows.  And Vanderbilt lost out on a chance at the SEC crown by losing at home to South Carolina and their coach with a 5th grader's haircut, Darrin Horn.  If you were a fan of the big boys, today was a good day.

But we are here to focus on Conference Tournaments, and in that realm...well I was a bit disappointed.  I had visions of tight matchups, crazy finishes and potential early-round upsets.  Instead, I got something quite different, and I am not just talking about Laphonso Ellis's announcer hair.  The usual suspects punched their tickets to the Big Dance and entertaining games were few and far between.  Lets look at what might qualify as the day's highlights:

1.  Three Tickets to the Big Dance Were Punched

---  We started with the biggest event in Conway, South Carolina since Ronnie Milsap came to town in 1982, as Winthrop defeated Coastal Carolina 64-53 to win the Big South Tournament,  I will admit that I watched the entire game but couldnt tell you one thing that happened during it, as it was played in the most boring manner possible in front of the smallest crowd that I have ever seen watch a game that was for an NCAA berth.  However that was exactly the scenario that Winthrop hoped to accomplish, attempting to slow the game down and believing that if it could hold Coastal Carolina under 60, it would win.  Well the Eagles did, and the Chantacleers ended the dream of an NCAA Tournament team based upon Geoffrey Chaucer.  For Winthrop, it is their 5th NCAA Tournament appearance in 6 years, and continues the trend of dominance over the league, even in years in which they didnt win the regular season title.  Winthrop moves on and someone who only knows basketball in March will see their likely 2-15 game and say "they could pull off a shocker."  I watched them today...they cant.  (John Wilkinson on the win and the fire on Winthrop's Campus)

---  The wackiest early Championship Week tournament concluded in the Atlantic Sun Conference with #5 seed East Tennessee State taking down Mercer 72-66 on Mercer's home court to make its second straight NCAA Tournament.  Again, it was another game that I watched from start to finish and struggled to find memorable moments.  ETSU is however coached by Gene Bartow's kid Murray, who isnt really a kid I guess since he has bigger bags under his eyes than Jeff Van Gundy, but who continues his dad's coaching legacy with another tournament bid.  ETSU is the early favorite to be the lowest ranked team in the field and could be headed for the play-in game in Dayton. However they are headed for the Big Dance, which is more than I can say for North Carolina, which just cut it to a 33 point second-half deficit against Duke.  If UNC were a horse, they would put a curtain around it and start setting up the flower memorials for children who need to weep.  (Thomas Beisner on why the NCAA Hates what the Atlantic Sun stands for)

---  The game of the night was supposed to be in the Ohio Valley Conference, as two heated rivals were going to produce a game that would justify me staying in on a Saturday night to watch OVC basketball.  Instead, we got a Murray State 62-51 snoozer of a victory over Morehead State that even left the players' families on both teams asking why they had been subjected to it.  The refereeing was atrocious, stopping the game of any real flow, and when Morehead's MVP, Kenneth Faried went down with an injury, well the game was more gone than Roy Williams' pride.  Murray's Isaiah Cannan led the way with not only his biblical name, but 16 points as well, setting Murray up as one of the truly dangerous teams in March.  If Murray ends up with a 13 or 14 seed, the team that draws them needs to be on major upset alert.  This Murray State team, like so many in year's past from the program, is built to make March noise and absent drawing Michigan State, I am picking them in the their first NCAA game.  (Here is CM Tomlin's take on the game)

2.  Butler and Siena Hang On

There are three teams playing in conference tournaments right now that could still be in line for NCAA berths even if they lose.  Northern Iowa and Butler are locks for the Big Dance and Siena still has dreams of making it, even if they lose the MAAC tournament.  Thus for major conference bubble teams, these three squads are their new darlings, because any loss by them means ones less team for the big boys.  Today Butler and Siena tried to make life interesting by falling down early in their tournament games.  Butler was in the most surprising trouble, actually trailing at halftime at home to UM-Milwaukee in the Horizon Conference Semifinals before coming back and winning 68-59.  In the MAAC, Siena had an even more difficult time, falling down ten late in the first half to Manhattan, before pouring it on late for a 78-61 win.  Butler now faces Wright State in the finals next week and Siena moves on to play Rider in the Semifinals.

3.  Form Held Everywhere

All across the land I awaited one upset that would leave me shaking in my boots and have my foundations crumbled.  All I got however was news that Keith Olbermann and Bill Simmons were fighting, likely for the title of "which formerly really fun sports guy has seen his sense of self-importance skyrocket the most in the last two years?"  Even though opening rounds and quarterfinals took place all across the land, no #1 or #2 were knocked off and the closest thing to an upset occurred with #2 seed Northeastern held off Hofstra in the MAAC Tournament.  March is still hopefully going to be mad, but it just wasnt today.

SUNDAY----WHAT TO WATCH FOR

This Sunday is the proverbial "day of rest" before Championship Week hits a fevered pitch beginning on Monday.  But that doesnt mean that there arent storylines to follow and games to watch:

1.  Missouri Valley Conference Finals

The fifth ticket to the NCAA Tournament will be punched when Northern Iowa plays Wichita State for the MVC Tournament title on Sunday afternoon on CBS.  Stereotypically, "Arch Madness" provides us with the biggest games and at least one shocking upset every year, but this edition has been relatively tame.  Northern Iowa is playing not only for the championship, but seeding, as a win could put them in the 6-7 range when the brackets are finally announced.  Whereas Wichita State is playing for something much greater.  The Shockers have not been to the conference tournament final since 1987, a shocking tidbit considering the history of the program.  Their only chance to play in the NCAA is Sunday, and thus they will give the Panthers their best shot.  I have picked against Wichita State in every game and it has proved unsuccessful, so why not again.  Northern Iowa wins and the major conferences get another mediocre team in the Tournament.

2.  Six Sets of Semifinals Are on Tap

Its Semifinal day across the Tournament landscape, as conferences get ready to set their final matchups for early next week.  Most are relatively boring and can be skipped for your preparation for The Oscars, but two are worth watching:

Southern

#2 Western Carolina vs #1 Wofford

#2 College of Charleston vs #1 Appalachian State

Colonial

#1 Old Dominion vs #4 VCU

#2 Northeastern vs #3 William and Mary

Both of these conferences have been setting up for monster battles for the title all year long, but each team needs one more victory to get to the much-anticipated game.  In the Southern Conference, the possibility of Wofford vs Bobby Cremins and his white hair at College of Charleston has been the goal all year, and the two teams from the same division face stiff challenges in order to make it happen.  As for the Colonial (which Mike Rutherford broke down extensively here), Northeastern and Old Dominon both at one time had visions of potential at-large bids to the Tournament, but now both need to win the title to go dancing.  If they can take care of business on Sunday, their title matchup might be the best of all the smaller conference games during Championship Week.

3.  The MAC Tournament Starts

Well ok that isnt all that exciting, especially since it is only the opening round, but I needed three things and couldnt think of anything else.  But The Oscars are coming, so that counts for something right?  I have "Hurt Locker" as my best picture ("Up in the Air" is second, "Inglorious Basterds" is third), Jeff Bridges as Best Actor (He is great in "Crazy Heart") and I guess Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side", although she was never as good as her performance in Speed 2.  And if movies arent your thing, talk to your family...you wont get to much over this next month.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com