On the Second Day of Conference Tourneys, the Buffet gave to me...
- Gettin' Froggy before Conference Tournaments even go Worldwide (TM Pitbull)
- Game on in the Big South
- Updated Buffetology
- Lots of Action on the Waiting Line
In case you haven't noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven't...
.last night got a bit Froggy in the non-ESPN conferences.
The Atlantic Sun conference tournament got going:
- While the top seed Florida Gulf Coast routed Stetson, they now get to avoid seeing their regular season nemesis in the next round, as S.C. Upstate was stopped by Kennesaw State, denying the team that defeated FGCU (and lost to them in OT) a 3rd shot at the regular season conference champ.
- Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the bracket, chalked walked as 2-seed Lipscomb drop a 31 point victory bomb on NJIT, but now see their regular season sweepers, North Florida, as ASUN Player of the Year Dallas Moore poured in 37 points, set the ASUN single season scoring record, and reminded everyone, sometimes having the best player in the league is the secret weapon to propelling your lower seeded team to the NCAA tournament.
Shaking things up in the SoCon
- UNC-Greensboro, on a tear of late -- winners of their last 6 to end the season - completed a season sweep of East Tennessee State, who had spent the majority of the conference season as your SoCon leader, nabbing the top seed in the tournament starting on Saturday.
Pair of Conference leaders hold serve
- Ahead of their showdown on Thursday for the SWAC regular season title with Alcorn State, Texas Southern took care of Alabama A&M, behind their 1-2 punch of Demontrae Jefferson & Zach Lofton.
- Also taking care of business was UT-Arlington, clinging to the outsidest of outside shots at an invite, racing to a 15 point halftime lead and cruising to a 15 points win -- clinching no worse than a share of the Sun Belt regular season championship, and due to their 2/11 win over Arkansas State, the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament..
One conference leader doesn't, but still holds the top spot.
- North Carolina Central, who may remember as the Buffet's darling who finished the 2014/15 undefeated in MEAC conference play only to lost in the conference tournament semis and then the NIT first round, entered last night with a single conference loss (ironically to their 2014/15 season destroyers Delaware State) and a two game lead on 2nd place Norfolk State. Only to inexplicably spot an 8-point halftime lead to Savannah State that they erased but didn't have the steam to finish off. Fortunately for them, the MEAC saw a 14-2 Hampton run keep Norfolk at 2 games back, so there will be no shared conference crown for NC Central. Now the question will be can the finish what they couldn't two years ago...
- One thing they did accomplish -- NC Central, as of today, has the nation's lowest rated Strength of Schedule, so congrats on that.
BIG SOUTH TOURNAMENT - 2/28, 3/2-3/3, Championship 3/5 - Campus Sites
2/28 (TV: BigSouth Network/Roku)
10 Presbyterian @ 7 Campbell
8 Charleston Southern @ 9 Longwood
Winner Game 1 @ #2 UNC-Asheville
6 Radford @ 3 Liberty
Winner Game 2 @ 1 Winthrop
4 Gardner-Webb @ 5 Highpoint
3/5 (ESPN, 1pm ET)
Fun little season they had in the Big South - and, oh yeah, any excuse to throw some Key & Peele at you will be taken.
UNC-Asheville and Winthrop played it neck and neck all season for the regular season crown. Liberty would be undefeated in the Big South, if Asheville & Winthrop just weren't in it. If not Radford, the co-champs would only have 2 conference losses.
Ultimately, the led to Winthrop getting the top seed by virtue of what seems to be a needlessly complicated system. First step is the obvious -- head to head record, but the teams split. Next, we begin to move down the regular season standings and taking each team's head to head versus each subsequent team, until a team emerges with a better H2H versus a particular team. That's Liberty, who, as mentioned above, was swept by both. So on we go to #4, Gardner-Webb, whose home win over UNC-Asheville on February 23rd, caused them to fall back into a tie with Winthrop, earned them a season split (they were swept by Winthrop) and proved to be the #1 slot determining factor.
While the plucky underdog is always fun to root for -- and Radford, sitting 6th in conference, with a 13-17 overall record, average computer rating of 260 (out of 351) but holds wins over the conference's top 2 teams, is a candidate to get behind. (Reset)
However, in this instance, just can't do it. You see, Winthrop & UNC-Asheville played a couple of thrilling basketball games. Starting with Winthrop fueling a 11-3 closing run to win in Rock Hill 76-73. That was just a prelude to the main event. Next came a classic: a double OT mega match up in Asheville that featured a hero's face-off. Winthrop's Keon Johnson went off for 40, MaCio Teague of Asheville hitting a buzzer 3 to force OT-1, an Ahmad Thomas tip-in provided the points need to give us OT-2, and then Teague and Johnson went superhero. A Johnson three with 33 seconds left in double overtime put Winthrop up 101-99, but Teague conjured up a 3 point play and encored with blocking Keon's ensuing desperation 3 point heave to get Asheville the W.
You're telling me, we could have round 3 of that?
Keep an eye on Liberty, they swept everyone not named Winthrop or Asheville, and played impressive against tournament likelies VCU (losing by 5) and Waiting Liners Princeton (3) - and Ryan Kemrite can hit from anywhere (50/44/84) and Gardner-Webb, they of the tie-forcing upset comes in winning 4 straight and 8 of 11. You can probably go ahead and go to sleep on Longwood & Presbyterian.
Prediction: Hate to go back to back chalk in a time when that doesn't seem to happen ever this time of year - but Winthrop has the best player in this tournament - Keon Johnson, and just the right sidekick, Xavier Cooks, to help Winthrop overcome a rare Johnson off-night or night of double-coverage. The less fearless projection -- we'll all be hyping UNC Asheville a year from now -- what with Thomas (Jr), Teague (Fr), Kevin Vannatta (Jr) and a roster featuring 6 Freshman, just 3 seniors, and a bunch of potential.
Jack Leasure Madbomber Award Big South Candidate: Ryan Kemrite - 71 3s on 43.6% shooting.
(Housekeeping note -- we omitted the Atlantic Sun Candidate -- Dallas Moore of (the now eliminated) North Florida Ospreys - 93 3s on 40.4% shooting)
Buffetology has been updated following the Kansas, Baylor and Virginia Tech victories (among last night's other results).
THE WAITING LINE GAMES FOR 2/28.... (all references to online consensus rankings come from BracketMatrix.com
Things get a little busier out there tonight -
Maryland @ Rutgers -- there's has always been a bit of a underachiever vibe to the Buffet for Maryland under Mark Turgeon. After starting 6-0 (but really not facing any team of note), they sandwiched a pair of solid B12 wins (Kansas St & Ok St) but were beaten soundly out, at home (that will become recurring theme in this paragraph soon), by a strongly mediocre Pittsburgh team. They shot into Big10 out of cannon, starting 8-1, including 5 road wins, led by wins at Minnesota, Michigan & Iowa. But then game February, which has seen them drop 5 of 7, including 3 straight, the last two being sound defeats at home to Iowa & Minnesota (remember, the good road wins from two lines up? Giving them back isn't helpful. Maryland isn't missing the tournament - Buffetology has them on the 7-line, aligned with the current online consensus. But starting with Rutgers, it's time for Melo Tremble and co to reassert themselves heading into March, this team was 20-2, time to find that Terps team again.
Georgetown @ Seton Hall -- this isn't your classic "Bubble Elimination Game" in that Georgetown is sub-500 overall and 6 games under in conference. They ain't getting in, but because #computers, they're still lingering on consideration boards before a bunch of people get together and vote them off super quickly and it's hard to get eliminated from something you're already eliminated from. By a similar token, Seton Hall, though only 8-8, sits in a cluster of teams tied for 4th in the Big East. They're currently 11th on Buffetology and 10th in online consensus rankings online, a loss isn't sending them out of anything, but, then again, a tournament invite is out there, why lose at home to Georgetown on February 28th...
Mississippi State @ South Carolina - South Carolina is currently on an 7-line, right with online consensus. They dropped 4 of 5 games before responding nicely with a 27 point win over Tennessee at home on Saturday. Now they finish the season against the SEC Mississippi schools. First up is Mississippi State, who is currently 5-11 in the SEC and their computer rankings average at 108. A loss won't send South Carolina to the back of the Waiting Line. But it WILL remove many of the good feels from the Tennessee win. It will also make Frank Martin angry, and as my good friends at HoopsHD.com know, you won't like Frank Martin when he's angry.
Indiana @ Purdue - Remember when Indiana was 3-0, had a win over Kansas and lost to IFPW, Jon Coffman, coach of IFPW gave an Oscar recipient speech about the greatness of IU traveling to lil ol' Fort Wayne, and the game's outcome was a shock, especially when they went and beat North Carolina 8 days later? Oh, the good old days of 2016. 12 losses later, including every game in February not played on 2/1 or 2/25, not so shocking. Now Indiana still has those wins over Kansas & UNC, because wins don't disappear, they also kocked off Illinois (a quasi-Waiting Line team), Penn St twice (same), Michigan State (solidly in), and Northwestern (in, but shakier than Mich St). That's 4 wins against teams likely to be in the field, and 7 against teams still being discussed -- that's not a small amount. Now the February plummet, and the unsightly 1-7 road record, and that eyesore IFPW is not a small amount of bad either. A win against conference leader and in-state rival Purdue, on the road? It's starting to seem necessary.
St. John's @ Creighton - Creighton lost their star point guard, Mo Watson to injury, (who subsequently lost his mind, but that's a subject for a substantively different site), and they went from an 18-1 Big East contender, to a 4-6 super average squad with a super talented unique athlete (7 footer Justin Patton). They're not missing the tournament. But don't lose to St. John's at home, k?
Ohio State @ Penn State - Can we call this the quintessential, "we'll stop talking about you if you lose, and probably won't talk that much about you even if you win" game?
DePaul @ Providence - Dear Providence, in the most recent Buffetology, you were in a play-in game, don't lose to DePaul at home. Love, the Buffet.
Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech - See Ohio State @ Penn State, above.
Vanderbilt @ Kentucky - At 16-13 and 9-7 in conference, Vandy, 10 seed in Buffetology & 11 in online consensus, on paper, looks like most Waiting Line teams - blah. Actually "blah" is a giant step above most Waiting Line teams. What they have that most don't, is a signature win - at Florida, and decent non-conference work (wins over Belmont @ Iowa State), and are playing good ball at the right time - 4 straight wins and 7 of 9 overall. Time to stamp that ticket with signature win #2.
Oklahoma State @ Iowa State. Oklahoma State's season took an interesting trajectory. On December 22nd, they were 10-2 and held a 17 point win over Wichita State. On January 18th, they were 10-8, 0-6 in conference and Brad Underwood was searching for answers without seemingly knowing the questions. Fast forward to today, Oklahoma State is 20-9, and 9-7 in Big12 play. They'll be playing into March, but now comes 2 shots at signatures - winning in Hilton, or closing at home versus Kansas. One of those will be enough to get them in, neither is still good enough. Good turn around by the Cowpokes...