An apology. A rapid fire catch up. Prime time tournament performances, Buffet Mea Culpa, and a Waiting Line before the Waiting Line...
So...it turns out when you have a full time job that is NOT hastily writing an unedited, 1/2 researched college basketball blog for a smattering of readers, yes, SMATTERING, you may or may not have real life get in the way. It did. But the Buffet is back...and let's get to what's go on during Champ Week.
Wait. Champ Week? For real, ESPN? I don't think the folks behind the social marketing machine at the WWL understand exactly how hashtags work. Or they do, and the folks at the top don't, and they weighed in here. Listen ya'll - you don't need to name something in hashtag format. Hashtags SHOULD be an organic. If not organic, the WWE is essentially as popular as it is because it generates hashtags than then decide to trend worldwide, then it's not awkwardly slapping a # in front of nonsensical words built just to trend. Call it "Championship Week," so you don't sound like my parents trying understand this Internet thing, and just keep overlaying #champweek, so us mindless drones know what to cause to trend...
But wait, CBS Sports Network is calling it "Bracket Week" - is that any better?
Where were we. Oh yeah. #champweek... It's #champweek catch up time:
Atlantic Sun: It's been a fun week in the Sun. There were 8 teams in the tournament - however, only 7 of whom are eligible for the NCAA tournament. The lone wolf? Stetson. The Hatters lost 21 regular season games. They are the 7 seed. However, despite being a double-digit underdog, they upset the 2 seed (NJIT). The 3 seed also lost. Suddenly, magic was unfolding. Here's the deal, Stetson men's hoops has failed the NCAA's Academic Progression Rate requirements and banned from post-season basketball. But that's on an NCAA-level, conferences are permitted to make their own eligibility rules. Stetson was allowed in the tournament. Now they are in the title game, so, 3 teams have interest in tomorrow's outcome. Florida Gulf Coast, of course, their opponent. Stetson, the potential mess makers. And, North Florida, they of Thursday's 33 point loss, but they also of the regular season conference title, and by Atlantic Sun, would get the autobid in Stetson's stead. Last wrinkle, in each's regular season finale - Stetson beat FGCU by 7, dun dun dun...
A-Sun Tournament top performer to date: it's a 2-man race for tournament MVP between Derrick Newton of Stetson (26.5 pts/12 rebs) and Marc-Eddy Norella of FGCU (18.5 pts/12.5 rebs).
America East: Still right where we were on March 2 - semifinals set for 3/7: Top seeded Stony Brooks looks to finally break through in this tournament, faces #4 New Hampshire. and fresh off of their upset of Albany, #7 Hartford faces up with #3 seed Vermont.
Tournament top performer - Jameel Warney of Stony Brook had 27 pts/23 rebs in the near scare for Stony Brook in their quarterfinal matchup with UMBC.
Big South: The understaffed Buffet was a little underinformed about the Big South. Predicted champ High Point entered the tournament understaffed themselves, as Big South player of the year and man among boys, John Brown injured his foot in the regular season finale and did not play in the tournament, opening things up a bit. The story has been 6-seed Campbell, winning their 6/11 matchup over Campbell, then upsetting 3-seed Coastal Carolina (the conferences hottest team coming in), and put up a fight, but finally withered down the stretch against Winthrop. The other half of the final is set, UNC-Asheville pasted Liberty, and then picked the scraps that was High Point (who lost another senior, Adam Weary in their quarterfinal game). That championship game is on tap for tomorrow, 2:30pm ET.
Tournament top performer: As of now, the final pits Ahmad Thomas of Asheville and Jimmy Gavin of Winthrop who have paced their squads. Honorable mention goes to Myles Bowman, Jr., with his 21 points, 12 rebound, 2 assists performance for the short-handed Highs of High Point
Colonial: The CAA has gone mostly according to plan, today has seen top seeded Hofstra and 5th seed, but likely superior team, William & Mary head to semis, with #2 UNC-Wilmington versus 7-seed Charleston, and #3 Towson and 6-seed Northeastern on tap for the evening. It's Juan'ya time - 22 points in his CAA tournament opener.
Horizon: The Horizon League kicked off today, with seeds 4-10 in action. HL dos thing their own way, with 2 rounds taking place before the semis, where seeds 1&2 (Valpo & Oakland) await the survivors of the 10-team two round battle royal. one matchup is set, the battle for Wisconsin - Green Bay versus Milwaukee, tomorrow, will happen.
MAAC: The M double-A C has featured a triple overtime game, Canisius over Niagara (102-97), which likely wore the Golden Griffins out for their matchup with high rev Iona. Rider outlasted Quinnipiac, only to fall to the top seed (and potentially at-large worthy) Monmouth. Those two are set in the semis tomorrow, with MAAC staggering games to lengthen the tournament and give a top seed advantage. Today's quarterfinal remainders St. Peter's/Fairfield (winner gets Monmouth) and Siena/Manhattan (vs. Iona) get started at 7pm ET today.
Missouri Valley: Our first true Waiting Line moment of #champweek - Wichita State stormed to a 21-9 lead, smothering Northern Iowa and moving crisply, then all of a sudden, they weren't UNI bottled up Van Vleet, seemed as though Ron Baker missed every shot he took and now Gregg Marshall's crew will waiting a long 8 days, to make sure Ohio State, Arizona State, and the non-at large like stay away from automatic bids... their resume (propped up by a win over Utah, a strong KenPom rating and, somehow, Fred Van Vleet's early season hamstring injury) can get no better... Joining Northern Iowa, who has shown this season they can both beat and lose to anyone, will be the winner of Evansville (2-seed) and Indiana State (6-seed).
Northeastern: It's a chalk final... 1 Wagner. 2. Fairleigh Dickinson.
Tournament top performer: Earl Potts Jr. has been the NEC outstanding perform, the Fairleigh Dickinson 6'6 swingman sophormore has led FDU, scoring 18 points and pulling 10 rebounds per in the first two.
Ohio Valley: Our first final has tapped. Austin Peay, on a bit of very #champweek run, has beat the 5-seed, the 4-seed and beat top seeded Belmont in a thriller last night. Tied with mere seconds left, Belmont's Evan Bradds, who had not missed a shot all game, missed a gimme jumper to win it and it pushed to OT. Chris Horton raged to a 30 point game, and Belmont's putback was fired off too late, and the 6 seed now sees the 2-seed, UT-Martin, who has never made the NCAA tournament, let alone the OVC tournament final (in fact, last night's semi was their first as well)
Tournament top performer: It's been the Chris Horton show. Sending himself off in style, the senior has sandwiched a 15/12 double-double with monster games of 37/21 and 30/16. It's an upset if he's named tournament MVP regardless of tonight's outcome.
Patriot - The first NIT bid was awarded when top seed Bucknell fell to Holy Cross. The other side of the bracket was wrecked a bit with Boston U falling to 6-seed American. Lehigh becomes the odds-on favorite as the 2 seed only needs to oust American, and then the survivor of the 4 (Army)/9 (Holy Cross) matchup.
Tournament top performer: Malachi Alexander has propelled the Holy Cross Cinderella run - 22 points and 7 rebounds to pace his squad.
The Summit kicks off today, with two of four quarterfinals, and the SoCon is setting up their semis (1/2 of which will feature top seed Chattanooga versus fifth seeded Western Carolina, who won a double OT thriller).
What's happening in the Waiting Line... today?
South Carolina at Arkansas: The Gamecocks, fresh off their 2-game head scratching losing streak, has done some goodwill touring in a blowout road win to end the regular season. But, really, this is Arkansas. Avoidance of bad loss was the accomplishment here, and given their last two results, that was more of an achievement than one might think.
Oregon State @ UCLA: The Beavers lead early, and we've discussed their at-large chances often. A win gives them a .500 record against the top 100 and their 11th top 100 win, plus adds a road win to their ugly road record. Hard to say if they NEED it, but they're close enough to sitting in the Waiting Line... and watching that it sure feels necessary.
IVY LEAGUE MADNESS: Yale @ Columbia; Princeton @ Dartmouth: Yale leads by 2 games with their finale tonight, and the Tigers with 2 left. Yale wins the Ivy and their first tourney appearance in 54 years with a win. If they fall, and Princeton wins out, it's a Yale/Princeton Ivy play-in game.
Florida @ Missouri: Florida has dropped out of many projections. Which means they cannot lose to another non-tournament team (what's up Missou?!) and need to beat a tournament worthy team or two to get back in the at-large discussion.
Iowa @ Michigan: It's a battle of the free falls, with degree of difference being the differentiator. Iowa is in, but where? In the 1-seed discussion not so long ago, suddenly they're gasping for air, trying to keep hold on a 5-seed. Meanwhile, Michigan has slipped to toeing the line between in and Waiting Line... - they need this one to stop their slide more than Iowa (as far as tournament worthiness is concerned).
Saint Bonaventure @ St. Louis: The Bonnies are where Michigan is at - only moving in the correct direction this time of year. A loss to the Billikens changes the direction...
VCU @ Dayton: Dayton has slipped of late, VCU has ping ponged between certainly in and likely in, as is wont to happen this time of year. Both teams could use this win, though a road win here by VCU probably cements a bid.
California @ Arizona St: Cal has been playing great, confident ball down the stretch. After a tough loss in Tucson on Thursday, where will this young team's collective head be at? Their hopes aren't pinned here, their overall outlook might be. Beat ASU, and head to the tournament the right way.
Gonzaga v Portland, WCC tournament quarters - Gonzaga's only way to not blow whatever chances they have left are to win their tournament. But, then again, that sort of hard hitting analysis has no place in the Waiting Line... - Gonzaga must reach the final and have that loss be to St. Mary's, in the Buffet's estimation, to have a conversation about an at-large.
Vanderbilt @ Texas A&M: Is Vandy done? Tough to go from a 10-seed to out by losing to your conference's #1 seed - but that profile could've used the upper tier win, especially on the road. They will be squarely discussed with Wichita St, Michigan, Oregon St, Pitt, Cincy, Florida, Tulsa, Butler, Syracuse, et. al..
Seton Hall @ DePaul - this wasn't a resume builder. Seton Hall is barely even needed in a Waiting Line... segment. They'll be in.
Providence @ St. John's - Wins you should get aren't notable. Wins over anyone, especially on the road, when wins have been elusive of late are. PC avoids a resume killer.
Syracuse @ Florida St - Bad time for a loss to a non-tournament team. It's not a bad loss, FSU is 48 in KenPom and been tough at home, but once again, timing counts.
Pittsburgh @ Georgia Tech - Speaking of poor timing. Wow. On 2/28, Pitt beat Duke. Since then they've lost to Virginia Tech and let Georgia Tech complete the season sweep... suddenly, the ACC tournament matters a lot more than it should have (from a tournament at-large perspective).
LSU @ Kentucky: Goodnight sweetheart, well it's time to go...
Marquette @ Butler: Butler, sitting in the Buffet's first four Dayton slot, did what you do when you want to rise from there - blew the doors off Marquette.
George Washington @ Davidson: Geo Wash had been flirting with an at-large, today they should've flirted with beating Davidson a little bit harder...
Duquesne @ St. Joseph's - St. Joes lost this game. That's not a misprint. Yuk. They're still likely to be in the final projection bracket before the majors kick off their conference tournament, but there will be a slide...
South Florida @ Tulsa - the quintessential avoidance of a horrendifying loss on the last Saturday of the regular season for the Golden Hurricane.
Stanford @ Arizona - Goodnight sweetheart, well it's time to go...
Final note - great day for NBA player lineage. Brad Lohaus saw his son catalyze Northern Iowa to a win versus conference top seed Wichita State & Walt Hazzard's grandson Jacob, who had played in just 6 games as a senior at UofA, following a relatively disappointing career, hit some crowd roaring 3s (among the 42000 Arizona hit today) in his final McKale Center game.
Tune in tomorrow for a nice evening Buffet. We will look at all Major Conference tournaments, and what it could mean for all tournament hopefuls, from the Kansas Jayhawks all the way to the Houston Cougars...