Posted on: March 8, 2010 11:39 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 9:35 am

The Monday Night Wrap


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


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 2:57 am
Edited on: March 6, 2010 7:04 pm

The Nightowl Special: MAAC & OVC Results


Hey. Wake up. Yeah, I know it's late. But I also know that you aren't going to sleep soundly without knowing how your favorite conferences, the OVC and MAAC, wound up tonight. Look, just sit up in bed, alright? Are you listening? Don't go back to sleep. Hey. Seriously. Wake up. No, I won't leave you alone. You need to hear this.

In the OVC:

-Morehead looks like a man, son. I know it's all about Kenneth Faried in Morehead, but tonight the big kudos go to senior forward Maze Stallworth, who netted 24 points to put Tennessee Tech to bed. Stallworth was 4 of 5 from three-land (don't look it up, that's not an actual place) as the Eagles dropped the Golden Eagles (see? Just being golden don't make you special) 76-47. Morehead is gunning for bear right now. Are you listening, Murray State?

-The favorite, Murray State, struggles against Eastern Illinois. Tony Easley and Isaac Miles sucked it up in the few remaining minutes of the OVC semifinals to propel the Racers to a 55-51 win. If you ask me, that's small potatoes compared to the hurtin' Morehead put on Tennessee Tech, which could mean Murray's limping into a final matchup with a Morehead team that's loaded for bear. Add into that equation that the Eagles seem to have the Racers' number and we could be looking at a barnburner for tomorrow night's 8:00 matchup. 

In the MAAC: 

-Manhattan is fancy, yo. The Jaspers (Jaspers?) easily handled Loyola-Maryland with a 94-79 victory, with presumed hybrid salsa/country music superstar Rico Pickett garnering a career-high 33 points against the Greyhounds, sending them back to watch the rest of the tourney from an Applebees in Baltimore. The win guarantees Pickett and company a shot against juggernaut Siena tomorrow. I know the Saints are rolling, but thirty-three points? Siena better hope Pickett doesn't have the same day twice; that could be tough to handle.

-Canisius fever -- Catch it! I've always said "Never count Canisius out in the first round." Okay, that's not true, I've never said that. But still, the Golden Griffins handled the Marist Red Foxes like you might imagine a, er, golden griffin might handle a red fox? Seven seed Canisius' Elton Frazier made it look easy against Marist with 17 points, propelling the team to a 72-54 win. Tomorrow Canisius has their hands full with the Fairfield Stags, who may be the only team capable of knocking back the rollin' Siena Saints. 

There. You can go back to sleep now. I knew that you wouldn't be able to really truly rest until you heard about how these games turned out. What? Oh yeah? No, screw you. I'm just trying to help. Fine, then. See if I let you know about the next rounds (I will). You can't stop my MAAC and OVC love. It knows no bounds. 
Posted on: March 5, 2010 11:27 am
Edited on: March 5, 2010 11:37 am

FAQ: The MAAC Tournament


What is the MAAC?

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) is an NCAA Division 1 conference based mainly in the Northeastern United States. It was founded in 1980 and includes Canisius College, Fairfield University, Iona College, Loyola University Maryland, Manhattan College, Marist College, Niagara University, Rider University, Saint Peter’s College and Siena College.

That’s a lot of colleges. Which one is the best?

This tourney season, Siena seems to be the team to beat. 17-1 in conference play and 24-6 on the season, no one seems to have their number sans a flukey home game at Niagara in early February. Siena is clearly the juggernaut here – possibly the best of this year’s mid-majors, led by guard Kenny Hasbrouck – but they may appear be too much of a lock.  They’ve certainly got a target on their back.

What are the mascots of the MAAC teams?

The mascots of the conference’s members include the Golden Griffins, Stags, Gaels, Greyhounds, Jaspers, Red Foxes, Purple Eagles, Broncs, Saints and Peacocks.

That's the most ridiculous bunch of mascots I've ever heard. Eagles aren't purple. And what's a "Gael?"

I think it’s someone of gaelic descent. Or a leprechaun with a two-by-four.

That’s trippy.

Yeah, tell me about it.

Who else should we watch out for?

Obviously, Niagara’s capable of beating the Saints – they did it last month. Fairfield’s a runner-up at 20-9 and the Stags have returned all five starters this year, including playmaking point guard Jonathan Han. Unfortunately for both teams, they sit on the same sides of the bracket, which not only means one will clearly devour the other, but that a Siena cakewalk to the finals seems even more likely.

How do I pronounce MAAC? It’s got two “As” next to each other. That’s crazy.



No, Mack.

Whatever. Where is the MAAC Tournament held?

The MAAC Tournament rotates year to year around New England, with sites including Bridgeport, Connecticut; Trenton, New Jersey, Springfield, Massachusetts and Albany and Buffalo, New York.

Wow. I'll bet everyone gets really excited to go to Trenton.

Actually, this year’s site is Albany.

Same difference. I’ve got a cousin who goes to Iona. He can get us into some wicked parties. Want to go?

No thanks. I’m good.

It might be more fun than this MAAC thing you seem to love so much. You already said Siena’s going to win.

I said Siena’s a big favorite. But it’s tournament time, and with a trip to the Big Dance on the line, any of these bubble teams could take a trip to upset city and-

Yeah, yeah. Blah, blah, blah. Thanks, Mr. Tournament-Cliche. I'm out of here. 


Today's MAAC Tournament Games

Loyola Maryland (8) VS. Manhattan (9), 7:30 PM

Canisius (7) VS. Marist (10), 9:30 PM 

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