Sunday, March 7, 2010

What Time Is It? Game Time!

The best sports week of the year has arrived as Championship Week began in earnest today. Cornell had previously qualified for the NCAA tournament because the Ivy League does not have a conference tournament, but three bids were up for grabs. Even though I was out all day, I taped all three of the games and watched significant portions of them tonight. I love Championship Week. Here's who made it in today:

Big South: Winthrop
  • What they do well: This isn't the very good Winthrop team of 2007 that advanced a game as an 11-seed. They play solid defense and they have two relatively good point guards. Otherwise, they never seem to get to the gym too late for a game, which is admirable.
  • Cinderella Watch (out of 10): 0. Too good to make the play-in game (also they're not an HBCU so they're ineligible), but likely to be a 16-seed. See ya.

Atlantic Sun: East Tennessee State

  • What they do well: Score. They run and attack the rim.
  • Cinderella Watch (out of 10): 0. As the 5-seed in their conference tourney, they have an outside shot of getting into the play-in game. Their 20-14 record may be too good for that, though. They'll be a 16-seed either way.

Ohio Valley Conference: Murray State

  • What they do well: They play tight defense, have some big men down low, and they spread their scoring around. They have five players that average between 10.2 and 10.6 points per game and another that averages 9.5. They also win, with a 30-4 record, 17-1 in conference (the only loss came at Morehead State, who they beat fairly easily tonight, in the second to last game of the regular season).
  • Cinderella Watch (out of 10): 2. They will be a 13- or 14-seed and with a relatively weak field this year, there's a chance for some big upsets. Early in the season, they only lost by 5 at California, the Pac-10 regular season champ. Am I telling you to pick Murray State next Sunday? Hell, no. But if they're matched up against an up-and-down team like Tennessee (who Joe Lunardi has them playing) in the first round and the opponent has an off-night?

Coming up tomorrow, it's mid-major time. Two of the best mid-majors in the country hit the court as Northern Iowa plays in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game (the only such game of the day) and Gonzaga plays in the West Coast Conference semifinals. The Colonial Athletic Conference also holds its semifinals, as Cinderella sleeper William & Mary (lost at UConn by 9, won at Wake by 10, won at Maryland by 6) probably needs to win its tournament to get in and regular season champ Old Dominion (won at Georgetown by 4, lost to Missouri by 5, lost at Richmond by 7, lost at Dayton by 8) is in action.

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