Tag:The Day Ahead
Posted on: March 6, 2010 1:07 am
 

The Day Ahead: Saturday of Championship Week

MATT JONES

1:00 AM

Chances are you spent Friday of Championship Week doing something that did not involve watching Round 1 of the MAAC Tournament.  Shame on you.  I have taught you better than that.  This is Championship Week and every game is crucial and should be followed with eager anticipation.  However you are busy we know, and you had to take the lady to see "Alice in Wonderland", so that is what we are here for...to give you a primer on what you missed and what is ahead for Saturday:

1.  Form Held in the MVC and OVC:

We were ready for wackiness to take place in St. Louis and Nashville, as the Ohio Valley Conference and the Missouri Valley headed for big games in their Semi and Quarterfinals respectively.  However, we were left with mundaneness that caused both arenas to grow more silent than a meeting of the Lane Kiffin Fan Club.  In Missouri, the top four seeds all won, with the two main contenders, Northern Iowa and Wichita State holding serve against Drake and Missouri State.  It sets up a strong semifinal, as those teams join Bradley and Illinois State in what should be a meaty doubleheader.  In Nashville, the battle that everyone has been waiting for was created as Morehead State exploded over Tennessee Tech and Murray State hung on to beat Eastern Illinois.  Murray vs Morehead could end up being the most competitive matchup of Championship Week.

2.  Detroit Woke Up the Horizon League

Lets face it, the Horizon League Tournament is going to set new levels in predictableness.  Butler is 18-0 on the season, is the dominant team in the league AND gets to host the tournament at home.  And oh yeah, if that isnt enough, the setup of the tournament allows them to have a straight bye into the Semifinals (I hate this trend in conference tournaments).  Thus the finals in this league will be of no interest.  But in the early rounds, the team that formerly employed Dick Vitale has made a small splash.  After beating Valparaiso in Round 1, Detroit upset #3 seeded Green Bay tonight, 62-53.  Detroit is once again the hot team in the league, having won six straight games and now will play Wright State, a team that beat it in both of its regular season meetings.

3.  Wackiness in the Atlantic Sun

I am starting to think that the Atlantic Sun Conference is playing their tournament on Super Nintendo.  In nearly every game, the lower seeded team has dominated the play and after the events on Friday, the Tournament will see a Championship game that will feature the #5 and 6 seeded teams in the Conference.    On Friday, East Tennessee State defeated Kennesaw State, 69-64 and host Mercer beat Jacksonville 66-63, setting a showdown between two mediocre teams for the right to play in the play-in game of the NCAA Tournament.  In both games, the action stayed close throughout and a friend who was in attendance told me that the games were like a "party that I was not invited to but that I crashed."  I dont know what that means, but I would assume it suggests that we all should have been in Macon, Georgia on Friday night.

There were also the beginnings to the Southern, West Coast, MAAC and Colonial Tournaments, but none of the games were very exciting and except for Elon beating Davidson (and no Stephon Curry doesnt play there anymore), there were no real upsets.

All of which leads me to WHAT IS ON TAP FOR SATURDAY.  There are three championship games with NCAA Berths on the line, and they should be your focus on Saturday. 

1.  BIG SOUTH FINAL:  #1 Coastal Carolina vs #3 Winthrop   4 pm

The second NCAA Tournament ticket will be punched in Conway, South Carolina, where the Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina seek to make it to the Big Dance by beating a team that has been there a number of times in recent years, Winthrop.  Coastal Carolina is coached by Cliff Ellis, the former Auburn and Clemson coach, who is seeking to become just the fifth coach in NCAA Tournament history to take four different teams to the NCAA Tournament.  The Chanticleers (which is an odd name for a mascot and someone has some explaining to do to me as to why we accept it), were 28-5 on the season and anything short of a win in this game will be very disappointing.

2.  ATLANTIC SUN FINAL:  #5 East Tennessee State vs #6 Mercer  6 pm

We all have apparently missed quite the show in Macon.  I havent been there because I would never go to Macon without a subpoena and none of us have seen it on television because apparently some tv network thinks they are too good to show Atlantic Sun games.  But the tournament has been wacky and we are left with two teams with middling records and rather disappointing seasons, playing for a chance to go dancing.  Mercer is the host school and will have the crowd on its side, ETSU had the better season record, but Mercer swept the season series and will have the best individual player in the game in Guard James Florence.  Plus, I have been to ETSU and its in Johnson City, Tennessee and the girls there are fairly cute.  So chances are that ETSU will want to get out of Macon as soon as possible and return home, making Mercer the favorite.

3.  OHIO VALLEY CONFERENCE FINAL:  #1 Murray State vs #2 Morehead State  8 pm

There will be those that will be watching Duke-North Carolina on Saturday night.  Dont follow their lead.  North Carolina is terrible this year and Duke has way too many guys that look like they were in the Mickey Mouse Club as children.  The real game of the night will be in Nashville where two OVC powers, Murray and Morehead will square off for the third time this season.  Both of these teams are talented, get up and down the court and their in-state rivalry has defined the OVC this year.  Murray is balanced and brings a lot of players who can score in a myriad of ways.  Morehead has a future NBA prospect (Kenneth Faried) on its roster and won when these two teams played just ten days ago.  This will be one of the best games of Championship Week, and if you miss it, you only have yourself to blame.

So there you go...a big day is ahead and I hope you are ready.  Other conferences such as the Summit, Big Sky, Sun Belt and America East kick off on Saturday as well, and good games will be taking place in St Louis and Indianapolis for the MVC and Horizon Semifinals.  But your attention should be focused on the Championship games, and six hours of great Championship Week goodness.  And if you watch the Duke-Carolina game, you should be forced to a punishment of actually eating dinner with Mike Patrick...I hear his gas is as bad as his stories are boring.

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 .


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