Sunday, March 31, 2013

2013 NCAA Tournament: We Have Yet to be Entertained

Congrats Louisville, Michigan, Syracuse, and Wichita State - you've made the 2013 Final Four. Too bad I'm less than excited to see this play out. Probably more so than I have been for any Final Four in recent memory. Don't worry you four, it's nothing you've done - heck you've been amazing and have given us some of the top memories that aren't FGCU related in this tournament. 
However, the other 64 of you in this 2013 tournament left a hell of a lot to be desired and dare I say you've ruined this tournament for me. No, seriously, this could very well be the least anxious I've been to see a Final Four play out since I can remember the Final Four (which was the 1988 tournament in case you were wondering). 

Just take the second weekend of the tournament this year. Outside of the Kansas vs. Michigan Sweet 16 game there wasn't a single memorable moment to speak of... at least in a positive manner. Outside of that moment, name more than one game that you'll actually remember five weeks from now, let alone five years from now.

There were plenty of moments to forget to say the least. From Marquette's incredibly embarrassing three-point shooting in the East regional final to Florida doing the ass-kicking and getting an ass-kicking the story of this tournament for the neutral fans of March Madness has been the lack of entertainment from what really matters - the on the court action.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

D Leads Syracuse to Final Four

It wasn't exactly pretty and Syracuse didn't set the world on fire offensively, but the Orange used their 2-3 zone defense to perfection in blowing out Marquette, 55-39, to earn yet another Final Four appearance.

A trio of double digit scorers - James Southerland (16pts), C.J. Fair (13pts), and Michael Carter-Williams (12pts) - were the stars of the East regional final for Syracuse. All three also got it done on the defensive end of the court as well.

The Orange are going back to the Final Four for the first time in ten years, coincidentally also the last time they won the national championship. As for this game on Saturday afternoon in Washington, D.C. on rival Georgetown's home court there's really only one question that matters.

Was it poor shooting by Marquette or was it good defense from the Orange that won it? That will be the big debate that will be all over sports talk radio come Monday morning, just you watch. However, after watching this team all tournament long it's hard not to say it was all about the Syracuse defense.

Blue Devils Elite

The Duke Blue Devils got a monster game from Seth Curry and played some of their best defense of the season and advanced past Michigan State and into the Elite 8 with a 71-61 victory on Friday night. The win sets up a match up between the Blue Devils and the overall number one seed in the tournament, Louisville.

Louisville is the only 1 seed remaining in the tournament. The game will be a rematch of an early season battle between the two teams that Duke won.

The game will also feature a match up of two Hall of Fame coaches in Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino.

Thanks to the NCAA, here are highlights of Duke's win on Friday night:

UCLA's Overblown Ego Hurting Coaching Search

When you think of college basketball there are but a few schools that stand at the top the mountain, a.k.a the "Blue Bloods." You may know them as UCLA, Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, Kansas and Duke. So, when Ben Howland was let go following an opening round loss to Minnesota in this year's NCAA tournament, you could sort of understand, right?

I mean, after all this is John Wooden's program - you know, the one of 10 national championships in 12 years and all. The expectations at a "Blue Blood" program should be higher than what Howland produced this year or over even over the past few. Put aside the three Final Fours and the four conference championships in 10 years at Westwood - or so we've been told by Dan Guerrero, the Athletics Director at UCLA - that's not good enough anymore. 

Sure, the pressure cooker is hotter than the sun in SoCal and more choking than the smog in the City of Angels, but who wouldn't want the job in Westwood, right? The title of head coach at the University of California - Los Angeles carries so much prestige, you'd be out of your mind to turn it down.

Never mind the fact that before the good Dr. Wooden came on campus the Bruins had never been to the NCAA tournament, let alone won a national championship (a fact most people probably don't realize) and never mind the fact that since John Wooden's departure the Bruins have managed a whole ONE national championship. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

9 Seed in Elite 8

Wichita State ended LaSalle's run in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday guaranteeing that a 9 seed will be part of the Elite 8. Gregg Marshall's Shockers will face Ohio State on Saturday. Here is post game reaction.

Elijah Johnson vs. Mitch McGary's Johnson

Getting hit in the nuts - it's a staple of just about every "funniest videos" show out there. However, there's funny and then there's intentionally punching someone with malice in the daddy button. Insert this from Elijah Johnson:

(h/t to friends at RunTheFloor for video)

In the NCAA a punch to the opponents nuts gets you a flagrant one foul. Feel free to judge on this one, but my two cents say this was about as blatantly obvious and "intentional" as they come - you know, the definition of a flagrant two - which is an automatic ejection from the game.

Moral of this story? Cheap shots to the nuts won't cost you all that much, so feel free to whack away boys...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cyclones lock up "The Mayor"

Iowa State fans have a love affair with their head coaches these days and rightfully so, but the love affair with their Men's basketball coach is unlike anything seen in the country as "The Mayor," Fred Hoiberg has come back to the rescue of a program he once led to unheard of heights as a player. However, there's a downside to that - it usually means they are winning a lot more than they are losing and that means being on the radar of open jobs all over the place.

On Thursday rumors (likely sent out from Hoiberg's agent) began circulating that Minnesota was sending out feelers and had a sincere interest in ISU's beloved Hoiberg. Well, credit Jamie Pollard, the AD at Iowa State, as he didn't hesitate to flash the cash for a man that means so much to the program and community.

It was announced later on Thursday night that ISU has inked Hoiberg to a 10 year, $20 million contract extension. Apparently it wasn't just Minnesota with interest as Pollard indicated that there was interest from several college and NBA teams about his services.

"I am very excited that we were able to put together a financial package that allows Fred (Hoiberg) to remain an intergal part of the Cyclone family," Pollard said. "Nobody is better suited to be our head men's basketball coach and we wanted to show he and his family, along with all Cyclone fans, that we are committed to keeping him in Ames for the long term."

Hoiberg clearly sees unfinished business at hand in Ames and that was a big part of him sticking around a place he can truly call home.

Ross' Cold Blooded Three wins game for Buckeyes

Winning basketball games with crazy late game three pointers or buzzer beaters are becoming old hat for this 2012-13 Ohio State Buckeyes team. After Aaron Craft went ONIONS and hit a game winning trey to beat Iowa State in the 3rd round it couldn't be done again, right?

WRONG, instead it was the unlikeliest of teammates in LaQuinton Ross who nailed a triple with just two seconds on the clock to win it and produce another classic call during March Madness:

Cold Shooting, Does Canes In

A theme emerged in the first half of the Miami-Marquette Sweet 16 meeting, there was a lid on the basket for the Miami Hurricanes. Unfortunately for the ACC Champions, that theme continued throughout.

Not to take away from Marquette who played solid defense and made all the plays, but a team who shot the ball so well all season long missed layups, mid range shots, put backs and three pointers throughout the ball game. The finished the game shooting 35 percent from the floor with most of that coming after the game had been decided. They and went 8 for 27 from behind the arc, again with most of that in the final few minutes.

                                                     Vander Blue
The combination  of Miami's poor shooting and Marquette's solid play led to a  71-61victory for the Golden Eagles and a spot in the Eastern Regional Finals.

Three Marquette players finished in double figures led by Jamir Wilson, Vander Blue and Davante Gardner.

Miami Senior Durand Scott, went 3 for 13 and Shane Larkin, one of the best point guards in the Country was only able to get 8 shots off in the game. It was too much for the Canes to overcome.

Marquette awaits the winner of the Indiana-Syracuse game.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

USA gets Heroic, Historical point in Mexico

Herculez Gomez splits Chicarito
There are moments in sporting history that you simply don't forget. Whether it's your favorite team winning a championship, or an improbable comeback, or that magical undefeated season. Whatever it is you know it right away, it's a moment that you'll be able to replay for the rest of your life like you were there for the first time.

On Tuesday night one of those moments happened in a game that ended without a victor. Yes, it was a 0-0 tie in soccer, however this wasn't your ordinary soccer game either. This was USA versus Mexico, the two Goliath's of North American soccer going at it and if you're a fan of the United States Men's National Team you are likely to never forget this game.

If you missed the game, then you missed a clinic in heroic defense on a soccer pitch, as the United States withstood a barrage of corner kicks (14 in all) and constant pressure (17 shots on goal for Mexico to just 1 for the USA). Yet, they never failed to come up big when they needed to - especially the thrown together central defensive pairing of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler (making just his 2nd appearance for the national team).

Monday, March 25, 2013

A "Sweet" Week Ahead

And just like that we are down to 16 teams left standing to compete for a National Championship in what has been a topsy turvy tournament. Raise your hand if you had Florida Gulf Coast University in the sweet 16 in your brackets! But that's the kind of tournament it has been thus far capsulizing a college basketball season where there has not been one dominate team.

Having covered the Atlantic Sun conference tournament, I had an idea that FGCU was a really nice team and against just about anybody but Georgetown, I might have picked them in a first round upset. But the 15 seed has only defeated a 2 seed a handful of times since the tournament has expanded, two of them in last years tournament. But not only did the 15 seed completely handle the Hoyas, they took down 7th seeded San Diego State by 10 in the 3rd round. Now a date with the Florida Gators looms for a team playing with a lot of confidence and a team who defeated Miami early in the season, who is also still alive in the tournament. At one point that looked like a bad loss for the Hurricanes, not so much now. FGCU and their 15 seeding are the lowest to make it to the Sweet 16.

                                             A Real Cinderella is into the Sweet 16

And then there is LaSalle. While some are likely more familiar with the Explorers than FGCU, they have managed to get by Kansas State and Ole Miss as a 13 seed. They now face Wichita State, who is a 9th seed, guaranteeing that there will be at least a 9 seed or lower in the Elite 8. The Shockers eliminated the first one seed in Gonzaga. However, Wichita State is no joke and should not be a surprise to basketball purists. They are capable of making a VCU/Butler type run this season. Coached by Gregg Marshall who put his imprint on Winthrop several years ago, guiding them to success and regular visits to the Big Dance.

Another surprise is Oregon. The 12 seed has been extremely impressive and while most feel they are a lower seed than they should be, they have run through Oklahoma State and St. Louis and now have a date with the overall number one seed, Louisville.

But for you old school group, don't fret. There are plenty of blue bloods represented in the Sweet 16 as well. Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Syracuse, Louisville, Michigan State and Arizona are alive and well in the final 16. Which have created some extremely interesting match ups in the Regionals starting on Thursday. How does Duke vs. Michigan State or Syracuse vs. Indiana work for you? Or maybe Miami vs. Marquette or Kansas vs. Michigan fits better for you. But one thing is certain, it is a crap shoot from this point forward.

Louisville looks very strong but if we have learned one thing from this tournament, it's don't look back at what you accomplished, look ahead.

As for the make up of what is left of the field, you have 4 Big Ten teams, 3 Big East teams, 2 Pac 12 teams, 2 ACC teams, 1 Big East and 1 SEC team left in the field from the power conferences. The Missouri Valley, Atlantic Sun and Atlantic 10 each have one representative left.

But if the first week of the tournament is any indication, buckle up your seat belt because it could be a bumpy ride for any team left.

Howland, Smith Firings a Sign of Warped World of College Athletics

I never thought I'd be that guy. You know, that guy that says "back in my day," but I guess it comes for us all. That day came on Monday, March 25th, 2013 for your humble correspondant. Call it my "day that will live in infamy" if you will. Only it's not a happy moment of remembering an awesome ride through the world of sports. Instead it's the day that college sports changed for me, and not for the better.

It's the day that Tubby Smith was fired as the head coach of Men's basketball at the University of Minnesota. No, don't worry I'm not some Gopher loving sycophant, in fact I'm probably the furthest thing from it in all honesty. Growing up as a Badger fan will do that to you. It's also just 24 hours removed from the firing of Ben Howland at the University of California-Los Angeles, or as we all know it UCLA.

So, why so sad over the loss of coaches from teams I don't support or have any affinity for? Well, for me these past 24 hours or so have shown me just how much the game and the people involved in college basketball have jumped the shark.

Here's my "back in my day" moment: When did we stop measuring coaches by championships won, NCAA tournaments made, and runs made in said NCAA tournament appearances?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The General Weighs In

What would the NCAA Tournament be without Bob Knight weighing in with his two cents. You can be assured that you will not be short an opinion when "The General" speaks. Before the NCAA Tournament, Knight sat at a round table and made some interesting points on what he would change about the tournament and other tidbits.

OSU vs. ISU: March Madness personified

Every year there seems to be a game to remember for the ages in the NCAA tournament. Some years it's the crazy, insane bracket-busting wins by an underdog, but in some years it's the game where two great basketball teams go toe to toe and we just simply get a great basketball game. On Sunday afternoon we almost got both as 2nd seeded Ohio State took on 10th seeded Iowa State.

This game was a back and forth battle from start to halftime, with OSU heading into the locker room with a narrow 38-36 lead.

ISU came out of the intermission and did what it does best - hit three pointers - as Korie Lucious gave the Cyclones a 39-38 lead. However, that woke up the Buckeyes offense a bit as well and Iowa State wouldn't see a lead again for quite some time despite keeping the game close for most of the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half.

Then OSU turned things up a notch or two, going up by 13 points. Should've been the end of the game, right? Nah, Iowa State and their sharp shooters would have none of that. After a Shannon Scott made layup with 6:09 left to go in the game the Cyclones swept back into power in Dayton.

Where are the Little Guys?

The second round of the NCAA Tournament felt like it was turned upside down. A report said that not one person in any major "Bracket Picking" site had a correct bracket three quarters of the way through that round. After all of the chaos on Thursday and Friday, you would think their would be your so called, "little guys" all over the bracket, but that would not be the case.

Florida Gulf Coast upset 2nd seeded Georgetown in the second round and pretty much stand alone as the "unknown" team left standing. They are in action today against San Diego State.

On Saturday as the third round started, there were a lot of familiar faces advancing to the Sweet 16. Louisville, Michigan State, Arizona, Syracuse, Michigan and Marquette were among the teams advancing. Oregon raised some eyebrows for some but are from a major conference. Wichita State pulled the big upset of the day, defeating the first number one seed in Gonzaga. But most who follow college basketball know how consistently good Wichita State has become under Gregg Marshall. They have been a fixture near the top of the Missouri Valley Conference lately.

Most of the teams in action today, like yesterday, are power players. All of the "little guys" have exited the tournament with the exception of a talented Florida Gulf Coast team and possibly LaSalle.. But with teams like Kansas and North Carolina facing off against each other, Duke and Indiana in action today, the brackets tomorrow will likely be littered with blue bloods of College Basketball dominating the Sweet 16.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Zags are 1st Top Seed Out, but Not Without a Fight

After a poor showing and a simple survival job on Thursday in the 2nd round Gonzaga were clear favorites to be the likely 1st top seed out of the 2013 NCAA Tournament and they proved all their critics right, going down in a mid-major fight to 9th seeded Wichita State, 76-70, on Saturday.

The Shockers did just about everything right in taking down the presumed favorites in this one as they used a great defensive effort to hold down the Zags, especially in the 1st half, where Gonzaga only shot 33 percent.  However, Gonzaga was able to slowly chip away at what was a 10 point Wichita State lead in the 1st half half and were down just five at the break.

It was just the beginning of a wild end to the game, which was perhaps the 2nd best of the day next to what went down between Butler and Marquette. Just how wild did this game get?

Well, a set of back-to-back treys by Kevin Pangos and Mike Hart with 13:38 left to play gave Gonzaga a 43-41 lead and sparked a 12-0 run by the Bulldogs that gave them an eight point lead and should've ended the game.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Wolfpack Failures Fall on Gottfried

N.C. State's promising season came to a quick thud on Friday in a first round loss to Temple, 76-72. The game capsulized their season in a nutshell as the 8th seed fell to the 9th seed in the East Region.

The Wolfpack were picked to finish first in the Atlantic Coast Conference coming into the season and were near the top in the National Rankings. This was a team who returned the nucleus of a Sweet 16 team, added some top recruits and are littered with potential NBA prospects. Yet they finished tied for 4th in the ACC at 11-7 and suffered a total of 11 losses in the season.

                                        Scott Wood

N.C. State looked like a team that was not prepared to play against Temple, scoring just 22 points in the first half and trailed by 16 at the break. They found themselves down by 17 with just over 16 minutes left in the game, when they started a comeback. As the game wound down, Scott Wood found his three point range bringing the Pack to within striking distance. But it was a classic case of digging too large of a hole to get out of as State could never gain the lead in the second half and a season full of promise comes to an end.

The Wolfpack could never live up to the high expectations this season, looked lethargic and even bored at times but could also look stellar at times. Coach Mark Gottfried could never get this team to play consistently and a team full of talent, quite frankly underachieved. Gottfried has to get a lot of the blame for the results as this team never consistently played up to their capabilities.

State may have squandered their best chance in some time to overtake North Carolina and Duke in the ACC as a team full of Seniors and Junior starters this season will look very different next season. There is still talent coming back at N.C. State but this was supposed to be their season and Miami stole their thunder. Opportunities such as this do not come around that often when you are in the Big Four with Carolina and Duke, and if you want to take steps to get on their level, you have to take advantage of seasons like this. Gottfried and the Wolfpack did not.

NCAA Tournament Day 2 Upset Alerts!

Yesterday we began our look at the teams that should be on upset alert on Day 1 of March Madness and while some upset alerts turned into five alarm fires for the higher seeds, others (ahem... Montana) didn't exactly set the world on fire.

So as we enter day two of action in the NCAA Tournament it's time to look at our top upset alerts for today!

(5) Wisconsin vs. (12) Ole Miss: Again, some could see this as a bit of a cop out, but it's a 12 vs. a 5 and we all know the history of these upsets. This one is unique because it's a complete style clash and this game is going to go one of two ways - Wisconsin shoots the ball well, plays great defense and Ole Miss won't know what hit them or... Marshall Henderson won't be stopped, Ole Miss runs up and down the floor and blows the doors off the Badgers. I don't see this one being close either way, but Wisconsin is so streaky in it's shooting that it's hard to trust that they will win this one. Put the Badgers on upset alert.

(6) UCLA vs. (11) Minnesota: Call it Midwest bias or whatever you want, but I call it honestly. I'm not impressed by UCLA and Ben Howland. Give me Tubby Smith and a physical team any day of the week. Sure the Bruins have Shabazz Muhammad and his 17.8 points per game, but they are vastly overseeded with the loss of point guard Jordan Adams and his 15.3 points per game thanks to a broken ankle. Sorry, that doesn't bode well against the likes of Joe Coleman, Andre Hollins, and Austin Hollins. This one has big-time upset potential written all over it.

(7) Notre Dame vs. (10) Iowa State: Ya, ya, ya... I know it's like calling an 8 vs. 9 game an "upset," however in this case it is an upset. After all, we aren't exactly given a ton of traditionally thought of upset games with only three matchups involving 3, 4, or 5 seeds today. But, back to the game at hand. Iowa State is mirror image of it's coach - Fred Hoiberg - in that they can shoot it lights out from deep. That's always dangerous come tournament time and they are DEEP at guard and have some good inside play as well from the likes of Georges Niang patrolling the middle and being able to hit from outside. Look out Irish, your luck could run out early if you get into an up and down battle with the Cyclones.

Mountain West's Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Remember when Charles Barkley declared the Mountain West to be the "best conference in the country" on Sunday's NCAA tournament selection special?

If you missed it, let us refresh your memory a little:

Can you say Oops? If the conference and it's teams could go back and get a redo on Thursday it wouldn't even be a question. The so-called best conference in the country are 1-3 for the tournament with only 8th seeded Colorado State left holding the candle for the conference.

Not only was the conference 1-3 for the day, but they were victims of two of the three upsets to happen on day one of the tournament proper. 12th seeded Cal took down UNLV 64-61 to earn the upset bid and it was followed by the nightcap stunner of the tournament so far - 14th seeded Harvard taking care of Mountain West champion and 3rd seeded New Mexico, 68-62.

I wonder if there will be complementary copies of this:

on the plane rides home for you young fellas.

Don't worry, Colorado State, you can rest well, but DAMN was that an embarrassing day and night for the "best conference in the country." After all, how many times do the national media hit the Big Ten or Big East over the head with their NCAA tourney results when things go sour? I say, if you want to play with the big boys you deserved to be judged just like the big boys.

Can the MW redeem itself? Perhaps, but it's going to come down to the Rams taking down a No. 1 seed and really busting everyone's brackets by making their own run to the Final Four for that to happen and good luck doing that against a hot Louisville team and a loaded Midwest bracket.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Slipped Through Their Fingers

The Davidson Wildcats looked to have things in control against Marquette. But they didn't count on Vander Blue to upset their upset bid against the 3rd seed in the East.

                                                                Vander Blue

The Wildcats held a 6 point advantage with 1:10 remaining in the game. Then came the three pointers. Jamil Wilson and Vander Blue combined for three three pointers in 50 seconds of play and a costly turnover put the Golden Eagles in possession of the ball with 6 seconds left to play. Blue drove the ball down the lane and made a contested left handed layup with 1 second remaining. Then Blue stole the three quarter length pass by Davidson to end the game.

It was a heartbreaking loss by Davidson who had control of the game and the momentum, gaining a 10 point lead at one point. But the Wildcats left some points at the free throw line in the second half, which is uncharacteristic for one of the best foul shooting teams in the Country.

With the win, Marquette will face Butler on Saturday. The Bulldogs defeated Bucknell earlier in the Region.

Oregon pulls 1st upset of the 2013 NCAA Tournament

Earlier today we featured our look at the teams that needed to watch their backs for the upset special and while three of the four have yet to go off or aren't complete, we got our first upset from the first game we mentioned as Oregon cruised to a 68-55 victory over Oklahoma State.

However, we shouldn't be so shocked to see a 12 seed take down a 5 seed, it's been the most popular upset throughout the years since the field went to 64 teams. Heck, this win makes it 6 straight years of a 12 beating a 5 in the tournament.

What was different about this one was the fact that they kicked the crap out of the Cowboys. The Ducks can thank their good shooting from the outside (36.4% as a team) and suffocating defense for this victory. In fact, one could argue they just showed the blueprint in how to win a game in the NCAA tournament period.

ACC Receives Committees Message, Can they respond?

Folks in ACC Country were not very happy with NCAA Tournament Committee after the selections on Sunday. There was a feeling of disrespect taken by some within the conference. Granted, it was not a banner season for the ACC but did it warrant the committees actions?

Let's start with the top, the Miami Hurricanes. The Canes won the regular season title over both Duke and UNC. Then proceeded to win the ACC Tournament in impressive fashion, clearly passing the infamous eye test. Yet, the committee saw fit to give the Canes a 2 seed in the tournament. Sure, Miami had a couple bad losses early in the season but so did most of the number one seeds at some point. But Miami logged victories over Duke, Michigan State, N.C. State and North Carolina (three times) during the season. All of these are tournament teams and a couple of those have a legitimate chance to make it to the Final Four. Compare Miami to Gonzaga who received a number one seed. The Zags won an average at best conference where only two teams received bids to the NCAA Tournament. They only played three ranked teams during the season and lost two of those. They swept St. Mary's, the only other tournament team from the West Coast Conference. Their resume pales in comparison to Miami's.

Next, could the Duke Blue Devils get a tougher bracket? Most analysts are quick to determine that the Midwest Bracket is likely the toughest of any bracket. The Devils are in the overall number one seed, Louisville's, bracket. To get to them, they would most likely have to get through Creighton and Michigan State before getting a shot at the Cardinals. Not the kindest of scenario's for a team who was in the discussion for the overall number one seed before Championship Week.

Then there are the North Carolina Tar Heels. They fall to an 8 seed placing them against Villanova in the second round and if they are fortunate enough to get by the Wildcats, they are looking at a potential match up with Kansas next, in Kansas City. Carolina finished the season with a 17 rpi and 10 strength of schedule and won 8 of their last 10 games. How many times have we heard explanation of the importance of finishing strong in the eye of the tournament committee? North Carolina finished as one of the hottest teams in the Country and fall to an 8 seed in the South Regional.

N.C. State, the last of the ACC teams in the Big Dance are one win away from taking on Indiana in the third round if they are able to get past Temple in the second round.

Clearly, the NCAA Tournament did not think much of the Atlantic Coast Conference this season and don't think the teams are not aware of it heading into the Big Dance. Whether it will add any additional incentive, remains to be seen.

“I was disappointed for our league. Two twos and two eights. I didn’t think that was good for our league. I didn’t think it was necessarily fair for our league.” Coach Roy Williams said this week. That sentiment is felt throughout ACC Country.

Read more here:

NCAA Tournament Day 1 Upset Alert

Upsets are part of and perhaps the biggest reason the NCAA Tournament has become what it has since the field moved to a field of 64. I mean, we've had Butler, George Mason, and VCU all make incredible Final Four runs in just the last decade. So as the action gets under way today we here at Sports Intelligentsia give you our Upset Alerts for Day 1 of the tournament proper.

So, who are we putting on upset alert? Well, we suggest you keep your eyes out for these matchups on Thursday:

(5) Oklahoma State vs. (12) Oregon: Yes, this isn't exactly going out on a limb for an upset pick, after all there's almost always a 12 over a 5 every season. However these teams are so similar in the fact that they like to score and they can play some decent defense as well. In fact both teams are within a point of each other in offense (73 to 72ppg) and defense (62 to 63ppg) scoring. However, Oregon can be a bit more patient than the Pokes, so be on the look out for this one to be one of the better games and don't be surprised if Oregon comes out a winner.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

First Four Showing it's Value with Great Basketball

When the "First Four" was first conceived for the 2011 NCAA Tournament it was met with a who cares attitude and a healthy dose of skepticism. Rightfully so in my book, after all the NCAA was messing with perhaps the most perfect tournament ever organized. 64 teams were plenty and these games were just meant to increase TV revenue for the new contract - or so the narrative we were told by talking heads went.

However as we sit here soaking in the results of year three of the "First Four" I have to say this thing is growing on me. Instead of getting bad basketball games against teams that "don't belong" we've gotten some great basketball games and some of the madness that makes March so much fun and it extends the  fun for nearly the entire week of the opening rounds of the tournament.

It all started in 2011 with the team everyone thought didn't belong - VCU - winning emphatically over USC (a team everyone thought belonged in the tournament proper), 59-46. That was the start of one of the most magical runs in NCAA tournament history as the Rams went from the First Four to the Final Four - a feat that puts them in the record books and something every First Four team is going to shoot for from here on out.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

2013 Championship Week Central


Its that time of year again. Time for one of the best sports months on the calendar.
Its Championship time in College Basketball and Sports Intelligentsia has
you covered with in depth coverage from Championship Week all the way
until the nets are cut down in Atlanta.

We will be breaking down the Major Conferences as well as
the mid majors so that you are prepared for all the conference tournament
action and the unveiling of the NCAA Tournament brackets.

Join us on Blog Talk Radio with shows throughout the Championships
and look for updates throughout the tournaments, right here as we give
you all the insight you need while following the tournaments.

Our team of Writers are seasoned and have experience bringing you
everything you need to know during all of the madness. So join us
right here for the latest of one of the best sporting events of the year.

Sports Intelligentsia Insiders

Andy Coppens

Andy wears many hats throughout the year. He is the Managing Editor of and and a contributor to the - a national college football blog on the Bloguin Network. He keeps his finger on the pulse of college sports all year round and considers March the best time of the year - not missing a single NCAA tournament since his early youth. Andy is no stranger to the basketball battles around the Midwest and has built quite a few relationships with some of the biggest players in the game.

Mike Holder

Mike is Managing Editor and Lead Writer for where he has covered a variety of sports at the site which is celebrating it's 10th anniversary in 2013. He is also Managing Editor and Lead Writer at where he covers the
North Carolina Tar Heels. Mike is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina and no stranger to the battles on tobacco road. He is a contributor to the Sports Intelligentsia Network as a co-host of the summer hit 'AM in the Evening' that tackles the hottest topics in sports.

Blog Talk Radio

Tune in for the latest tournament analysis during the Conference
and NCAA Tournament's with Andy and Mike on BlogTalkRadio, where we are the home of INTELLIGENT sports talk.

Social Media

Louisville leaves lasting impression in final Big East tournament

The Big East will live on in name to be sure, but the spirit of the old Big East is dead. Gone will be some of college basketball's greatest rivalries. However, the conference and most importantly, Louisville, wouldn't go out without leaving one last memorable moment from one of the iconic tournaments in college basketball.

As fans we should be thankful for what we all witnessed on Saturday night. Of course, being the crazy sports fan I am I was bouncing around the channels catching other games, especially since the 'Ville was getting an ass kicking at the half and into the start of the 2nd half.

But then, for some strange reason I decided to turn back to a game that was all but over. The clock read 16:04 and boy did I get lucky with that as I was witness to one of the greatest moments in Big East tournament history.  A history as rich as anything the NCAA tourney could give you.

That's because the Cardinals erased a massive deficit themselves and went on to crush.... I mean C-R-U-S-H the stunned Syracuse Orange. They were down 16 points with 15 minutes to go, good luck coming back right?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lobo's Pull Away For Mountain West Title

New Mexico opened up a close game late in the second half, defeating UNLV 63-56. The 15th ranked Lobos won the Mountain West Tournament and now look towards selection Sunday hopeful for a high seed.

Tony Snell led the late game run scoring 13 points in a row in the key run. He finished the game with 21 points to lead New Mexico.

                                             Tony Snell

The Lobo defense held the Runnin' Rebels to just 33 percent shooting from the floor. UNLV launched 31 three point shots, making 9 while New Mexico matched those 9 taking only 19.

The game was tied at 44 with 10:53 left to be played when New Mexico went on their run. Despite intense effort by the Rebels, they were never able to recapture the lead from that point.

Kendall Williams chipped in 12 points and 7 rebounds off the bench for the Lobos.

Steve Alford's New Mexico squad will enter the NCAA Tournament with a record of 29-5 while the Runnin' Rebels await an at-large bid with a record of 25-9. Both teams will be dangerous in the tournament.

No MAC-tion as Zips Whip Bobcats For Bid

Akron and Ohio were the class of the Mid-American Conference all season long, both finishing 14-2 in league play and tying for the regular season East division championship. However, Akron owned Ohio during the regular season and had to complete the season sweep if they wanted to make the NCAA tournament for sure.

That's exactly what they did on Saturday evening, winning in convincing fashion and completing the season sweep, 65-46. However, it wasn't all easy for the Zips as it was actually a three point, 29-26 lead for the Bobcats of Ohio as they went to intermission.

Apparently, that woke the Zips up as they came out firing in the 2nd half and Ohio had two stretches, one in the middle and one in the end, where they couldn't buy a basket. Akron went ahead and outscored the Bobcats 39-17 in the 2nd stanza and it was pretty much all over by the time Ohio got out of their slump of 3 plus minutes without a FG that started with 5:54 left in the half.

By then it was was already a 20 plus point deficit and it took all they had to keep it under a 20 point blowout.

Southern Cuts Down SWAC Nets

Top Seed Southern University defeated Prairie View in a low scoring affair, 45-44, and will advance to the NCAA Tournament by winning the SWAC Conference Tournament.

Derick Beltran had 13 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Jaguars, including a late steal and layup that helped Southern to victory. It is their first visit to the Big Dance since 2006.

Southern was the regular season Champion of the SWAC as well. Prairie View made it to the Title game as a 4 seed. The conference will only have one bid to the Big Dance.

Southern is no stranger to the NCAA Tournament, this will be their 8th appearance.

Aggies Are Going Dancing

North Carolina A&T defeated Morgan State in the MEAC Tournament 57-54 and will represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament.

It was one of the closest Championship Games of the Tournament as neither team could gain a comfortable lead. And accordingly, the game came down to a missed three pointer to tie by Morgan State's Dewayne Jackson at the buzzer.

The Aggies got 14 points from Adrian Powell, 13 from Lamont Middleton and 11 points and 9 rebounds from Austin Witter in the game.

The ball game was tied at the half and remained a one possession game until just over 7 minutes left to play when A&T opened up a 5 point lead. The game never got further than a two possession game from that point forward as Morgan State continued to fight back until the end.

The game featured a 5 seed against a 7 seed as the MEAC was a tournament of upsets. The Aggies will enter the NCAA Tournament with a 19-16 record.

Memphis Take C-USA in Thriller

It took two overtimes to settle, but the Memphis Tigers defeated Southern Miss 91-79 to win the Conference USA Tournament. With the win, a collective sigh of relief goes out to teams such as Virginia, LaSalle, Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State and others who may have felt their bubble burst with a Memphis loss.

It was a classic Championship Game on Saturday, as the game went back and forth with neither team able to establish a solid lead until the very end.

                                                  Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson led the Tigers with 22 points and 7 rebounds while Adonis Thomas added 19 points and 8 rebounds.

In one of the most exciting games of  Championship Week, Southern Mississippi had a chance to win the game in the 1st overtime. With the game tied and 12 seconds left, they had the ball for the last shot but did not get a game winning shot attempt off.

In the second overtime, it appeared that Memphis finally wore down the spirited Golden Eagle team. They finish the season with a 25-9 record and await the possibility of a post season tournament.

Meanwhile Memphis, who came into the Tournament as overwhelming favorites, will await their seeding and opponent for the NCAA Tournament. They will enter with a record of 30-4 and went undefeated in Conference USA regular season play.

The Tigers have the potential of being a threat in the Big Dance but with only one ranked opponent on their schedule this season, they are a bit of an unknown. They are certainly explosive and have very solid balance.

Great Danes Earn America East Bid

The Albany Great Danes defeated Vermont 53-49 to win the America East Tournament and a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

It was a good one as Albany had to fight off a second half comeback by the Catamounts but Mike Black knocked down 14 points and the Great Danes prevailed.

It was a match up of the 4th and 2nd seed for the title and it was the 4th seeded Great Danes holding Vermont to a frustrating 1-14 effort from threes. Despite being out rebounded by a 34-20 margin, Albany's defense forced Vermont into 14 turnovers coming up with 10 steals. They were able to hit 9-13 from the free throw line to seal the victory.

Albany will enter the NCAA Tournament with a 24-10 record. The America East will be a one bid conference in 2013.

(photo courtesy of John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union)

What about Kentucky?

In the SEC tournament on Friday, 2nd seed Kentucky fell hard to Vanderbilt in the quarterfinals 64-48. Now the question arises, will the Wildcats be in the NCAA Tournament field?

Kentucky finishes the regular season with a 21-11 record. Their 12-6 SEC record was good enough to tie for second but if you look at their quality wins, not that impressive. The only ranked opponents they have defeated was #11 Florida and #16 Mississippi. They have losses to ranked opponents such as Duke, Louisville and Florida. Conventional wisdom has them in the field and bracketologists (for what it's worth and that is not  much in my book) have them as one of the last four in, in most cases. But it is certainly something to keep an eye on Sunday night.

As for the rest of the SEC, with the exception of a well coached Vanderbilt team who defeated Kentucky in the quarters, the top seeds advanced. Top seeded Florida will face 4th seed Alabama and 10th seed Vanderbilt will face 3rd seed Mississippi on Saturday.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How Bizarre!

9th seed, Charlotte won their first round game against Richmond in the Atlantic 10 Tournament on Thursday. But the ending was not your most traditional of endings.

With 5 seconds left in the game and leading by three, 8th seed Richmond chose to foul Pierria Henry to prevent a three point shot attempt to tie. Henry made the front end of a one and one while Richmond's Derrick Williams and Charlotte's Willie Clayton became entangled in the lane. Williams shoved Clayton to the court and was whistled for a foul. Because it was a dead ball foul, it turned into a technical foul by rule. Henry made the back end of the original one and one and subsequently both technical foul shots. After a foul by the Spiders Greg Robbins on the inbound, Richmond coach Chris Mooney received two technical fouls and was ejected from the game. Henry went back to the line. 6 free throws later and Charlotte went from being down three to leading, 68-63 which was the final score. After the smoke cleared, Henry had shot 10 free throws in the final 5 seconds, making 8 of them and the 49ers move on to face top seed Saint Louis in the quarterfinals.

Buzzer Beater opens Big Ten tournament

Yep, no doubt about it - the Big Ten is the best conference in the country and it was jus cemented in the 1st game of the conference tournament as Illinois pulled out a hotly contested and great 51-49 victory. How'd it happen? Well check it out below:

Bucknell Back in Big Dance

Bucknell fought off a Lafayette run and with the help of Mike Muscala, win the Patriot League Tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament.

Muscala had 20 points and 11 rebounds with 6 key points stemming a Leopard run in the second half and much like 2 seasons ago, The Bison defeated Lafayette to gain entry into the NCAA Tournament, 64-56. It was the 1 versus 2 seed in the Final.

                                             Mike Muscala

Joe Willman added 14 points in the victory for Bucknell.

The Patriot League is no stranger to upsets in the NCAA Tournament. 15th seeded Lehigh upset Duke in last years Tournament while Bucknell took out Kansas in the 2005 NCAA Tournament. The Bison look to do it again this season with a team who will not be an easy out.

It was a physical game as both teams knew each other well having split both regular season games. Bucknell was able to gain a lead at 13-10 and though the game remained fairly close, Lafayette were never able to gain the lead again.

Thanks in part to Muscala, the Bison held the rebounding edge at 33-28 with 11 offensive rebounds. They went to the free throw line 23 times, knocking down 18 of those.

With the game played on Bucknell's home court, the student section rushed the court in celebration after the game. The Bison now await news of their opponent which will be released on Sunday.

Predictions Update

For those of you following along, Andy Coppens and Mike Holder made Championship Week predictions for all the tournaments, in Championship Week Central. Since Andy lives in Wisconsin and Mike lives in North Carolina, there is some Barbeque, Brats and Cheese on the line.

The scoring system for the predictions are as follows:

If Champion is picked = 10 points
For each win by a Sleeper picked = 5 points
If Sleeper wins Championship = 10 points plus 5 for each game won

Going into Wednesday, Mike held a 145 to 105 lead. The Patriot League was the only Championship decided. Bucknell won the Championship. Mike picked Bucknell while Andy picked Lehigh. Both had Army for their sleeper. So Mike picked up a total of 15 in the Patriot, while Andy picked up 5. Here are the updated standings after The Patriot League Championship.

Mike 160 points

Andy 110 points

At the end of each day, as tournaments crown their Champions, we will be updating our results, so check back and see how you fared against our picks.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rumors continue to swirl on new Big East makeup

We're in the midst of the Big East tournament - the final in it's current status - but that hasn't stopped the rumors of the "Catholic 7" (who will be keeping the Big East name) adding teams and making a really deep Catholic based league.

On Wednesday the New York Post is reporting that long suspected targets Butler, Dayton, and Xavier will be joining the league for it's first season as an all Catholic league. Yes, hard to believe that Dayton is actually a Catholic school, huh?

That would give the league a very strong presence from the Northeast to the heart of the Midwest as well, but the new Big East may not be done there as the report also states that Creighton and Saint Louis could be added for 2014 to make it a 12 team all Catholic league.

Top 5 Big East Tournament Moments

As a pure college basketball fan this week is going to be bittersweet to say the least. One of the greatest tournaments and a true catalyst for "March Madness" - the Big East tournament - is wrapping up it's final chapter as the conference splits following this season.

Yes, the Big East will stay around in name and some of it's original members will still be involved in the new version of the Big East, but just like the new "retro" versions of classic muscle cars, it's just not the same. Well, as a result it's time to take a small trip down memory lane and as folks that love history, we here at the Sports Intelligentsia present our Top 5 Big East Tournament Moments.

Now, this list isn't limited to just specific plays from the tournament or players or games themselves - it's all about moments - you know things that will last a lifetime in the memory banks of those of us who love the game and it's rich history. With that in mind we give you the Top 5 Moments in Big East Tournament History:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Insiders Predictions Update

For those of you following along, Andy Coppens and Mike Holder made Championship Week predictions for all the tournaments, in Championship Week Central. Since Andy lives in Wisconsin and Mike lives in North Carolina, there is some Barbeque, Brats and Cheese on the line.

The scoring system for the predictions are as follows:

If Champion is picked = 10 points
For each win by a Sleeper picked = 5 points
If Sleeper wins Championship = 10 points plus 5 for each game won

There were three Championship Games on Tuesday. Mike came into the night with a 100-75 lead. In the Northeast Conference neither Andy or Mike picked the Champion (Mike had Robert Morris and Andy had Bryant) but Mike's sleeper won the tournament, LIU-Brooklyn. So Mike picked up 25 points. Meanwhile, Andy's sleeper, Mt. Saint Mary's won 2 games so he picked up 10 points.

In the Horizon, Andy and Mike had identical Champions and Sleeper. Neither picked the Champion but their sleeper, Green Bay, won two rounds so each got 10 points in this conference.

In the Summit League Tournament like the Horizon, Andy and Mike each had the same Champion and Sleeper. Both picked South Dakota State who won the tournament so each got 10 points, but their sleeper Oakland, did not fair so well, eliminated in the first round giving them 0 points.

After all was said and done on Tuesday, here are the updated standings:

Mike 145 points

Andy  105 points

At the end of each day, as tournaments crown their Champions, we will be updating our results, so check back and see how you fared against our picks.

JackRabbits hit Summit

The JackRabbits of South Dakota State have punched their ticket to the Big Dance after defeating North Dakota State 73-67.

Nate Wolters had a huge game with 27 points 6 rebounds and 6 assists to lead SDSU to the win.

                                                        Nate Wolters

The game was competitive throughout going back and forth in the first half but the Jackrabbits gained an advantage in the second half and were able to keep the Bison at arms length.

The game feature two teams who won more than 24 games on the season. SDSU enters the NCAA Tournament with a 25-9 record.

The Jackrabbits made hay at the free throw line in this game shooting 21-23 from the strike, 91.3 percent. They won the rebounding battle by a margin of 27-23 including 6 offensive rebounds.

Jordan Dykstra chipped in 18 points and 7 rebounds while Tony Fiegen had 12 in the contest.

The Jackrabbits finished the season strong, entering the NCAA Tournament with 4 straight wins and having won 14 of their last 17 games.

SDSU should be prepared for the quality of the NCAA Tourney having played Alabama, Minnesota, Belmont and New Mexico in out of conference play this season.

Valpo Pulls out crazy Horizon League Final

The 2013 Horizon League tournament was full of drama and fun, so it was fitting that the final provided both to those in attendance and watching at home. Valpo took home the title and the automatic bid that goes with it in a 62-54 win over Wright State.

Valpo fans can thank Erik Bruggs and his 22 points for helping this win happen from the jaws of defeat as he led all scorers in the game.

If you were like some and turned it off after Valpo routed the Raiders in the first half, up 36-25, you could be forgiven. On the other hand you missed one of the craziest finishes to one of the craziest tournaments this season.

Why? That's because Wright State, down 11 at the half, went nuts to start the 2nd half. In fact they went on a 22-6 run, eliminating the Valpo lead in under 8 minutes, and taking their own lead at 45-42 with 9:28 remaining in the game.

It would stay close for the rest of the half with the Raiders taking their largest lead of the night at 50-44 with just 5:42 left and the momentum clearly on their side.

But, hey this is the Horizon League tournament and anything and everything goes. So, instead of Wright State taking it to the home Crusaders, Valpo dug down deep and found a way to overcome the deficit and get to the point where the final minute was a foul and pray situation for Wright State.

Their prayers weren't answered as Valpo calmly sunk 8 of the final 8 free throws in the last 53 seconds of the game to seal it away and let the court storming begin.

With the win the Crusaders are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since a 2004 appearance. I wonder how many times we'll see Bryce Drew's shot this year.... Since he's their head coach and all now.

LIU-Brooklyn eases to 3-peat in NEC Tournament

The Blackbirds of LIU-Brooklyn are quickly becoming a staple of the NCAA tournament and they are heading back to the dance for a third straight year after destroying Mount St. Mary's, 91-70 , on their home court in Brooklyn.

In the previous two years in the NCAA tournament the Blackbirds were 15 and 16 seeds and currently have a 20-13 record (12-6 NEC) and have an RPI of 185 (courtesy of and that likely means another 15 or 16 seed for them this year. Could they take the next step and put a wrench in hundreds of thousands of brackets nationwide? In this crazy year who knows?

As for the championship game? Well, things weren't exactly easy from start to finish for LIU-Brooklyn as Mount St. Mary's decided they were going to at least show up for a half. These two went into the break just four points apart, but that wouldn't stay that way for long in the 2nd half as Blackbirds guard C.J. Garner decided to just go off.

Garner sparked the turnaround from a close game to a blowout with 31 points on an efficient 13 of 17 from the field for the night. His big night was coupled with that of forward Jamal Olasewere, who had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds in the win.

Could we be looking at an NEC dynasty in the making? Well, blowout wins and domination of the last three tournaments says yes. So does winning two of the last three regular season crowns.

Rick Pitino said this could be the year a 16 seed takes down a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and if the Blackbirds are a 16 seed you best look out for them - they are explosive and athletic - a combination that always gives teams trouble come tournament time.

Its WKU in a Good Sun Belt Final

Western Kentucky defeated Florida International and won their second straight Sun Belt Conference Tournament on Monday, 65-63.

The game was close throughout but the Hilltoppers were fueled by George Fant who scored 17 points and brought down 13 rebounds in the win.

                                                               George Fant
Florida International held a lead in the first  of 8 but Western Kentucky captured the lead late in the half. The game was tight all through the second half but it was the Hilltoppers holding on to the win and earning the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. They held the Golden Panthers to just 38.7 percent shooting from the field.

The loss ended an impressive run by Richard Pitino in his first season at Florida International. The Panthers ended up 18-14 for the season. Meanwhile, Western Kentucky will enter the NCAA Tournament with a 20-15 record.

The Sun Belt Tournament had it's share of upsets including the Panthers upset of top seed Middle Tennessee State who was the overwhelming favorite to cut down the nets in Hot Springs, with their 28-4 record entering. Now, bubble teams accross the Country will await to see if the Sun Belt will send two teams to the NCAA Tournament.

Nothing To See Here as Gonzaga Wins WCC Crown.... Again

Gonzaga vs. St. Mary's - it's perhaps the most heated rivalry out west. Sorry Arizona vs. UCLA, sorry Utah State vs. BYU, it's the truth. Lately it's also produced a ton of great basketball games and one such was the final of the West Coast Conference tournament last year.
So, forgive us if we thought we'd maybe, just maybe see something of a similar sort in the WCC tournament final nearly a year to the day removed from a pure classic?

Instead the No. 1 ranked team in the country, Gonzaga, did what it's done to the Gaels all season long - it blew the doors off of them, winning the WCC tournament title 65-51 going away. It completed a season sweep and believe it or not was actually the closest game between the two all season long.
With the blowout the Zags have made one heck of a case for a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament as well. They went 16-0 in the West Coast Conference and sit at 31-2 overall in a year where there haven't been any "great" teams this is perhaps the most deep and complete team we've seen.
That was on full display on Monday night as Gonzaga had forward Kelly Olynyk go off for a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds and fellow forward Elias Harris had 19 points as well. Those two alone did enough damage as the Gaels only countered with Stephen Holt's 19 points in the losing effort.
Up next for Gonzaga in really breaking the "glass ceiling" of the mid-major status is gaining that No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and it's something we'll be watching for big time come Sunday night at 6pm Eastern.

Monday, March 11, 2013

James Madison Seniors Will Team to CAA Championship

The Colonial Athletic Association tournament is usually a highlight of Championship Week, it's full of ultra-competitive teams playing great games. However in 2013 things were a bit different as the CAA is undergoing a lot of changes in the future, which left just seven teams eligible for the conference tournament and it's automatic bid.

On Monday night No. 1 seed and regular season champion Northeastern took on No. 3 seed, but 4th in the regular season, James Madison in Richmond. So, the Huskies should've walked away with this one, right?

Instead what we got was another upset in the finals and a game that really didn't play out the way you would think from a final score that read James Madison 70, Northeastern 57. That's because it was a game that was OVER at halftime with the Dukes up 40-18.

Predictions Update

For those of you following along, Andy Coppens and Mike Holder made Championship Week predictions for all the tournaments, in Championship Week Central. Since Andy lives in Wisconsin and Mike lives in North Carolina, there is some Barbeque, Brats and Cheese on the line.

The scoring system for the predictions are as follows:

If Champion is picked = 10 points
For each win by a Sleeper picked = 5 points
If Sleeper wins Championship = 10 points plus 5 for each game won

Mike came into Monday with 35 points while Andy had 10. 5 Conferences were at play on Monday but a lot of similar picks by Mike an Andy, meant not a difference in margin after the tournaments finished. Here is how things looked with the Monday tourneys. Both Mike and Andy had Davidson winning the Southern and Western Carolina as sleeper. Both got 15 points from that tournament as WCU won one game while Davidson cut down the nets. In the Colonial neither picked the Champion and both had George Mason as sleeper. They picked up 5 points in that tournament as GMU won one game. In the Sun Belt, Both had Middle Tennessee State who fell short and both had Florida International as sleeper who won two games, giving each 10 points from that tournament. In the WCC, both Andy and Mike picked Gonzaga, but neither of their sleeper picks won games, so each received 10 points from the WCC. Finally, Neither picked the Champion in the MAAC, but each had Iona as their sleeper, who made the run in the tournament, earning each one 25 points. After the dust settled on Monday, here are the updated standings.

Mike   100 points

Andy  75 points

At the end of each day, as tournaments crown their Champions, we will be updating our results, so check back and see how you fared against our picks.

Iona Survives Manhattan, Earns Bid

Despite a fine effort by Manhattan, 4th seed Iona held the Jaspers off for a 60-57 win earning a trip to the Big Dance.

Manhattan led most of the first half fueled by solid defense and held a two point halftime lead. They held the lead until the 13:21 mark of the second half when the Gaels finally pulled ahead. Despite a strong effort by Manhattan, Iona never relinquished the lead again.

Tre Bowman came off the bench to score 20 points for Iona, pulling down 5 rebounds on the night. Lamont Jones had 14 points in the game.

                                                                    Tre Bowman

Iona was strong at the free throw line where they went 15-17 on the game, helping to fend off a Jasper comeback.

The MAAC was a tournament of upsets leading to a 4 and 6 seed playing for the Championship. The Gaels took out top seed Niagara en route to their Championship. The two and three seeds fell in the quarterfinals.

Iona enters the NCAA Tournament with a record of  20-13. After losing three in a row and 6 out of their last 7, they have put a 6 game winning streak together heading to the Big Dance.

Davidson Does it Again

In what has become a regular event for Bob McKillop's Wildcats, Davidson is heading back to the NCAA Tournament. Davidson finally wore down a gutty College of Charleston team and won

It is the 7th Southern Conference Tournament Championship for Bob McKillop since 1998.

Many remember the run in 2008 with Steph Curry, falling one shot short of the Final Four. This team may not be as talented as that one, but they have now won 17 straight games and won the regular season and tournament going away.

De'Mon Brooks led the Wildcats with 24 points and 8 rebounds. Three other Davidson plays scored in double figures including J.P. Kuhlman who had 14 points in the game.

Davidson led the game from wire to wire and each time Charleston attempted a run, Davidson had an answer. The Cougars fought hard, but appeared to have run out of gas with around 7 minutes left to play as the Wildcats stretched out the lead.

Davidson held College of Charleston to under 30 percent from the floor in the game, including 1-10 from behind the three point arc. Davidson will move on to the NCAA Tournament while Charleston will await a possible bid to the NIT or other post season tournament. They hold a record of 24-10.

Davidson will be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament, entering with a record of 26-7 including the current win streak. They are battle tested with games against the likes of New Mexico, Gonzaga and Duke in non conference play. With the victory tonight, they are back to back Champions of the Southern Conference. With a number of upper class men in the lineup, nobody will be thrilled to seem them in their bracket.

(photo of De'Mon Brooks courtesy of ESPN)

Mid-Major bubble busters

It happens ever single year, whether there are 64 teams or 68 or 152 teams - someone is going to feel like they got left out of the tournament. However, one way to avoid all of that is going ahead and winning your conference tournament title.

Of course, only 30 teams qualify from conference tournaments leaving just the Ivy League regular season champion and 37 other at-large teams to qualify. That means space is indeed limited for the so-called "big boys" of college basketball.

Well, with nearly ever mid-major conference tournament underway it's time for the "big boys" to start getting nervous. Why? That's because some of those 37 at-large bids may just end up going to deserving mid-major teams that didn't pull out conference championships this year and that's where we come in.

This week we'll be looking at and adding our list of "bid stealers" from the ranks of the mid-majors. So, let's take a look at who we think makes the tournament without winning their conference tournament, shall we?

The Economic Impact of Hosting a Tournament

There are 31 Conference Tournaments during Championship Week. With the exception of the handful who have some rounds played at campus sites, basketball fans are flocking to the host city to see their team or just to watch quality hoops during the week that awards automatic bids to the Big Dance.

The MEAC Tournament starts tonight, and thanks to a report from WAVY TV10, here is a report about the economic impact on the host City, Norfolk. There are many "Norfolks" out there this week, feeling the potential revenue and economic impact filtering into their city.

Gonzaga Pre Championship Press Conference

Gonzaga will be in action later tonight against St. Mary's, with the winner taking the WCC Tournament Championship and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Thanks to
Gonzaga, their media day press conference.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree

Richard Pitino's Florida International Golden Panthers are one game away from making an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. In his first season as head coach at FIU, the son of Rick Pitino is a win against Western Kentucky away from Dancing, remember this was a team in shambles post Hurricane Isaiah Thomas and all.

Pitino has been an Assistant Coach since 2004 where he started at College of Charleston. After stints at Northeastern, Duquesne, Louisville, Florida then back to Louisville where he sat next to his Father, he received an opportunity as head man at Florida International, taking over the position on April 15, 2012.

In his first season, the Panthers went 11-9 in the Sun Belt Conference and 18-13 overall. The highlight of the young Pitino was facing off with his Father in a December game against Louisville. Father knew best in that one as Louisville and Rick Pitino hammered FIU and his son, 79-55.

Thanks to 312Media and YouTube, here is a behind the scenes look at Pitino and Florida International:

Cinderella, The Video

As reported earlier, Liberty is the Cinderella thus far in Championship Week action. They defeated Charleston Southern in the Big South Championship Game on Sunday, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. They will enter the Big Dance with a 15-20 record. Here is video of the unlikely Big South Champions:


Davidson Survives, Elon Falls in SoCon


Top Seed, Davidson had a difficult time shaking a feisty Appalachian State team in the first semifinal of the Southern Conference. It took until the 6:52 mark of the second half before the Wildcats were able to take a second half lead against the Mountaineers. But each time it looked as though Davidson would get some elbow room, App. State fought back. Tab Hamilton drained a three point shot with 14 seconds left to get the game to a one possession game but the Wildcats were able to hang on for the win, advancing to Monday's Championship game. Jake Cohen and De'Mon Brooks led Davidson in scoring with 17 and 16 respectively.

                                                        Davidson's Bob McKillop

The Davidson victory sets up a Monday match up with College of Charleston who upset the 2nd seed, Elon. Third seeded Charleston, led by Lucas Troutman who finished with 23 points on the night. The Cougars were helped by 7-17 three point shooting and never trailed in the ball game.

Davidson won both meetings with Charleston in regular season winning at home by 9 and on the road by 16. Davidson enters the game with a 25-7 record and on a current 16 game winning streak. Meanwhile, College of Charleston go to 24-9 on the season.

Southern Conference Championship Game     March 11, 2013

1)Davidson vs. 3)College of Charleston