Posted on: March 13, 2010 8:40 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2010 8:57 pm

Did I catch a "niner" in there?

Thomas Beisner

8:30 PM

For the first time since 2005, Ohio University has something to celebrate other than the greatest Halloween party in the history of the world.  Thanks to a dynamite backcourt duo of junior Armon Bassett and freshman D.J. Cooper, the ninth-seeded Bobcats are going dancing after knocking off third-seeded Akron in the MAC final, 81-75.

Bassett, a 6'2" transfer from Indiana, continued his dominance of the MAC tourney, going for 25 points on 8-16 shooting.  Bassett, who averaged 16 points in the regular season, absolutely went off in Cleveland, averaging 29 points in the Bobcats' four upset wins.  But, against a hungry Akron squad, the play of a struggling freshman was what the Bobcats needed to make a difference.

In their previous two games against Kent State and Miami, Ohio was able to advance without much contribution from their second-leading scorer.  D.J. Cooper combined for 1-10 shooting and four total points in the two contests, well below the 13 points he averaged in his inaugural college campaign.  Against the Zips, though, Cooper found his stroke again and put up the type of LeBron James-esque statline Cleveland has become accustomed to.  Cooper finished with 23 points, 7 rebounds and six assists, with 5 of those points and one crucial block coming in the extra period.

For head coach John Groce, it's a return to the tournament for the first time since Florida broke his little Buckeye heart in the national championship game in 2007.  This time, he'll again play the role of underdog - a position he seems to be comfortable with.

Ohio University, it's time to get your Cinderella outfits out seven months early.  You're going dancing.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Akron, MAC, Ohio
Posted on: March 13, 2010 4:26 pm

Get ready for some Buckeye on Buckeye MACtion

Thomas Beisner

4:00 PM

Under the watchful eye of second-year coach John Groce, an Ohio cult hero responsible for assembling OSU's Oden-Conley-Cook recruiting class, the ninth-seeded Ohio Bobcats have put together a Cinderella-like run in the MAC tournament.  After an overtime victory against the Ball State fighting Boom Goes the Dynamite Guys, Groce's squad beat down top-seeded Kent State by 17 points.  Now, after a 12-point victory over "MAC Daddy" Charlie Coles and his Miami Redhawks, all that stands between the Bobcats and a miraculous trip to the NCAA tournament is the Akron Zips.

However, the third-seed Zips don't plan on going into the night quietly.  Thanks to stats so evenly distributed Karl Marx wears a Zips hoodie, Akron has conquered their neighbors to the north, beating Eastern Michigan Thursday and Western Michigan on Friday.  Coach Keith Dambrodt, LeBron James' high school coach, doesn't have the luxury of a 6'8" 240 pound superstar anymore, so he relies on balance, playing eight guys at least 17 minutes per game. 

With neither team having a shot at an at-large bid, it's do or die tonight in Cleveland, which I'm sure is not the only time that statement's been made.  Maybe the first time it hasn't been literal.  If the Bobcats prevail, the NCAA tournament will have yet another heartwarming story and if the Zips should win, Kentucky might lose superfan LeBron James, whose front-running fandom (Yankees, Cowboys, Kentucky, Jordan's Bulls) knows no bounds.

It's the MAC and it gets started at 6 pm.  Don't miss it.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 11, 2010 11:46 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2010 12:19 am

Late night updates

John Wilkinson

And the Big East does it again. What a finish as West Virginia and De'Sean Butler escape at the buzzer, restoring a semblance of normalcy in an otherwise parallel bracket. 

We breezed through the first part of Conference Championship week and found it to be a bit chalky quite frankly, then the Big East goes out today and completely turns our blogging world on its head. The most feared conference in all the land with it's self-important "double-byes" and permanent NYC home, has been dwindled to four: an 8-seed, 7-seed, 5-seed and a 3-seed. 

And yes, De'sean Butler is nails. Stay tuned for more Big East updates.

--For the game of the night we go to the MAC, where the Akron Zips survived Eastern Michigan 97-89 in double OT. Eagles guard Carlos Medlock poured in 42 points in the upset bid, the second most in MAC tournament history. Even more amazing, the seven technicals called between the teams with three ejections. That's just how they do things in the MAC. Dog v. dog. Ohio University provided the other big news, as they throttled top-seeded Kent St. 81-64 to earn a spot in the semis. 

--PAC 10 regular season champs by default, the Cal Bears, disposed of the wounded Ducks of Oregon, 90-74 in quarterfinal action. The loss wrecks coach Ernie Kent's pre-tournament prognostication, and soon, his job. Cal guard Tajuan Porter set the PAC 10's career 3-point record with his 343rd to break the mark held by former Zona guard Salim Stoudemire. The win moves Cal to the semis and a date with UCLA, which surely makes Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz quite happy, which will ultimately lead to the termination of the band. 

--The Mountain West held true today, with top seeds New Mexico, BYU, and San Diego St. all advancing despite each getting pushed to the end. UNLV tips off against Utah sometime before sunrise, I hope. On a day where conference MVP Darington Hobson racked up 28 points for New Mexico, runner-up Jimmer Fredette went off for 45 in a 95-85 BYU win over TCU. Fredette made 23-24 free-throws and topped 40 points for the second time this season. 

--The C-USA appears to be a one bid league now with a pair of bubbles bursting in Memphis and UAB. Memphis may still have a shot a a bid but they'll need some help or just a 96-team tournament. Also, Marshall fell to Tulsa tonight 80-64, meaning the most intriguing player most of us have never watched will not be in the dance. Seven-foot freshman Hassan Whiteside is being projected as a lottery pick and recorded a set of triple-doubles this season.

--In the Southland, my NCAA Tourney sleeper Sam Houston State survives 89-85 against SE Louisiana to set up clash of top seeded gents, Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin, for tickets to the deb ball. 


Posted on: March 11, 2010 3:44 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2010 4:00 pm

Kansas Wins, 'Cuse Falls, and the SEC is underway

Drew Franklin
More and more sick days are being used and the tournament action is picking up as we near the weekend of conference tournament week.  Today marked the first afternoon with a solid schedule of the nationally televised, major conference games.

If you are a fan of the NCAA contenders, I assume you're saving your sick days for the Big Dance.  So, let me recap what you missed this afternoon while you were at work flipping through paperwork and flirting with that secretary that's half your age.

Big XII: Kansas 80, Texas Tech 68... Cole Aldrich scored 12 points and grabbed 18 rebounds as Kansas became the third team to reach 2000 wins.  The Jayhawks struggled in the first half and had to fight off a second half Texas Tech run to pull of the win over the Red Raiders.  Sherron Collins scored 19 and dished out six assists and Xavier Henry added 13 points in the win for the number one team in the land.  Kansas will go on to face the Texas A&M-Nebraska winner in Friday's Big 12 Semifinals.

Big East: Georgetown 91, Syracuse 84... Just in case you're too lazy to scroll down, the top-seeded Georgetown might've cost Syracuse their #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  The Hoyas upset the Orange in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament today.  Syracuse's Arinze Onuaku went down with what appeared to be a serious right-knee injury but early reports are that he'll be good to go for the NCAA Tournament.  Georgetown will play the winner of Villanova-Marquette.

SEC: Alabama 68, South Carolina 63... South Carolina lost a heartbreaker to Alabama in the first game of the 2010 SEC Tournament.  With the Gamecocks down two with under a minute to play, Devan Downey missed the first of two critical free throws.  S.C. would get another shot at tying the game after an Alabama layup but Sam Muldrow threw the ball away while trying to get it to Downey on the inbounds.  Alabama advances to lose to Kentucky.

ACC: Virginia 68, Boston College 62... Virginia's Sammy Zeglinski scored 16 of his season high 21 points in the first half in the win over Boston College.  The Cavaliers move on to face Duke in a rematch of a game we caught on our Road Trip.

Conference USA: Houston 66, Memphis 65... Houston's Aubrey Coleman made a bucket with 4 seconds to go to give Houston the win over Memphis.  Coleman scored 21 in the victory.  Hey, remember when Mario Chalmers hit that 3-pointer at the buzzer in the NCAA Championship?  That was awesome. 

MAC: Western Michigan 69, Central Michigan 60... David Kool "As The Other Side of the Pillow" scored 24 points in the second half to rally Western Michigan to a 69-60 win over Central Michigan in the MAC Quarterfinals.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 6, 2010 11:33 pm

The Day Ahead: Sunday of Championship Week


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.


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:


#2 Western Carolina vs #1 Wofford

#2 College of Charleston vs #1 Appalachian State


#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