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Tag:OVC
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.

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

The Nightowl Special: MAAC & OVC Results

C.M. TOMLIN


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 12:13 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2010 3:01 pm
 

The Day Ahead: Friday of Championship Week

BY MATT JONES

While the preliminary games have been scattered throughout the week, in all actuality today is the day that Championship Week begins with authority.  Last night we saw some random scatterings of games and one great finish, but Friday is the day that we start moving towards bids actually being given and the first battles of big teams trying to punch their March tickets.  A primer on what you might have missed last night and what is coming today:

LAST NIGHT WHILE YOU WERE WATCHING THE OFFICE:

Missouri Valley First Round:

The most major of the mid-major conferences kicked off last night with Missouri State beating Evansville in a snoozer and Drake providing the first "March Madness" image of the 2010 postseason, with a buzzer beater victory over Southern Illinois.  The Salukis had a ten point lead with just eight minutes to go, but then scored only six points to close out the game. 

Big South Semifinals

The first championship game was set last night as the Semifinals of the Big South took place in front of family and friends.  Coastal Carolina took care of UNC Asheville 93-72 and confirmed itself as the heavy favorite to make the NCAA Tournament when the finals hit on Saturday.  In the first major upset of the Big South Tournament, Winthrop beat higher seeded Radford, 61-46 and will not face the fight Carolinas of the Coast on Saturday for the first official NCAA bid and the right to have their faces plastered on the halftime report of CBS games all weekend.

Atlantic Sun Quarterfinals

The first conference that has actually made March "mad" is the Atlantic Sun, where all the top teams are falling and a date in the Play-in game for the champion seems all but certain.  Top seed Lipscomb lost to Kennesaw State (that is a real school), East Tennessee State and Mercer beat higher seeds Campbell and Belmont and now Jacksonville has reached its greatest heights since Artis Gilmore, as it remains the top-seeded team left in the tournament.  The new favorite is probably ETSU, which rides a 5 game winning streak into wackiest tournament currently on the market.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY:

1.  The Most Competitive Day of Basketball You Didnt Know About

They call it "Arch Madness" and for true basketball aficionados, it may be one of the best three-day basketball feasts available.  In the Missouri Valley Conference , they play basketball with fundamentals, grittiness and a lot of Midwestern spunk.  And oh yeah, the teams arent bad either.  When you think of Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri, you may think of corn and flat land, but MVC basketball should enter into your mind (at least before the vastly overrated "Field of Dreams").  Today may be the best day of that form of basketball that you will see...four games, showcasing the eight best teams.  The schedule:

#1 Northern Iowa vs  #8 Drake:          1:00 pm
#4 Creighton      vs.  #5 Bradley:        3:30 pm
#2 Wichita St      vs   #7 Missouri St    7:00 pm
#3 Illinois St       vs   #6 Indiana St    9:30 pm

If you get the channels where the games are on or live close to St. Louis, watch the games.  They will be good (and Missouri State will upset Wichita State...you heard it here first)

2.  OVC  Semifinals

All season it has seemed that the conference crown would come down to a Murray State vs Morehead State tournament clash.  We saw those two teams play each other on the College Basketball Road Trip and now they each need one more win for a rematch.  Murray State plays Eastern Illinois and Morehead has Tennessee Tech, with both games on ESPNU.  If you love college basketball and have no woman on a Friday night (those two things are not mutually exclusive), then settling down for some OVC battles in Nashville might be a good option.

3.  Atlantic Sun Semifinals

They arent on television and chances are if you say you are watching the "Atlantic Sun", people will think you are attempting to find yourself on a beach while growing a beard.  But there have been no games more entertaining than the ones taking place in Macon, Georgia.  Mercer plays Jacksonville and Kennesaw State battles East Tennessee State, with the winners likely being the biggest surprises to play for an NCAA berth.  And if you are reading this and already know what state Kennesaw State is actually in, then this blog and Championship Week are just for you.

Add to these, the beginning of the Southern, MAAC, Horizon and WCC Tournaments and tonight is as busy a Friday night as you will see in college basketball.  So send the kiddies off to see "Alice in Wonderland", sit back and let One Blogging Moment give you a Friday of basketball goodies.  Or go see the movie...I hear its good.

Matt Jones is the founder of the college sports blog KentuckySportsRadio .


Posted on: February 25, 2010 10:44 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 7:50 pm
 

Nation's longest winning streak snapped, 70-65

Thomas Beisner

10:45 pm




On a cold, blustery Kentucky night and in front of a raucous crowd, the Morehead State Eagles sent the Murray State Racers a message in a physical win.  If they want to go dancing in March, they better be ready for a fight.

Facing an opponent that  boasted the nation's longest winning streak and delivered a 30-point beatdown to them in December, the Morehead State Eagles looked like they might have the right recipe for some NCAA Tournament magic, relying on rebounding and three-point shooting to hand the Racers their first OVC loss.  

The game was physical and emotional and exactly the type you'd expect from two OVC rivals battling for post-season bragging rights.  What was a tight first half resulted in a three-point halftime lead for the Eagles.  But, they weren't done there and came out hot in the second half, extending their lead to 11 at about the halfway point and keeping it in the 7-9 range before a Murray run that closed it to 61-60 with about a minute to go.

But, the Eagles weren't ready to hand this one away, even with star big man Kenneth Faried saddled up on the bench with five fouls.  Instead of folding, they found clutch plays from two of their other veteran players. 

With the Eagles hanging to a one-point lead and under a minute left, Steve Peterson , who finished with a team-high 16 points to go with 5 rebounds, stepped to the line and knocked down the first, pushing the lead to 62-60.  He missed the second, but grabbed his own rebound, giving his team another possession.  Coming out of a timeout, Morehead inbounded the ball to Terrance Hill who knocked down his third three of the game, extending the lead to five points and essentially nailing home the game.

When the buzzer sounded, Murray State's conference record was no longer unblemished and the message was clear.  It's going to be a two-team fight for the OVC's NCAA Tournament bid.  And it's going to be a fight.


What Else We Learned About Morehead

1.  The Guys have spirit, yes they do
- The Morehead All-Girls cheerleading team is fresh off of their seventh national championship, but it was the heavy presence of the the Y chromosome that was the most noticeable.  I'm not sure if it had an effect on the crowd's interest in the game, but Drew did run out to the car for his contacts after we started talking about it.

2.  Be Faried, be very Faried - If you haven't heard of Kenneth Faried, you better ask somebody.  In front of five NBA scouts, the junior from New Jersey posted his 21st double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds.  He has a knack for always being in the right place to make a play and, despite fouling out with his team up 1 and two minutes left in the game, there's no doubt the OVC Pre-Season Player of the Year was a man among boys.

3.  The Crowd came to party - After a night of sorry fandom at the Dean Dome, the Ellis T. Johnson Arena atmosphere was quite refreshing.  The students stood on their feet nearly the entire game and every person in the arena seemed to be rooting loudly for the Eagles.  It's the loudest I've ever heard 4,500 people.  And I hear 4,500 people a lot.  I'm pretty much an expert.

4.  No Morehead jokes - Not one.  Can you believe it?  Neither can we.  Especially on a night where a few miles down the road Kentucky is playing the Cocks.  We're maturing.

So, now we're off to.....ummmm......we don't know.  There's a snow storm blowing half of the East Coast away and there's a good chance we can't make it to Cornell and Syracuse.  So, were will we end up?

To be continued....

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