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March 5, 2002 Columns No Comments

The Morning Dish – Tuesday, March 5th, 2002

by Andrew Flynn

Four More Clients for the Travel Agency
There were four conference finals last night. In the early game, the Colonial final, UNC-Wilmington topped the Virginia Commonwealth Rams 66-51, jumping out early and maintaining the difference throughout. In their third consecutive conference final, the Seahawks had a stifling D that really limited VCU’s offense. In the Metro Atlantic final in Albany, the Siena Saints had their own marathon to run, as they became the first team in the MAAC to win from the play-in game. The Saints, the 7-seed, won a game each day of the tournament, resulting in a 92-77 win over 4-seed Niagara last night. Siena goes to the dance with a 16-18 record overall, and may end up playing in yet another play-in game.

The Missouri Valley Conference final featured the 1- and 2-seeds, for a change, but this time it was the 2nd-seeded Bluejays of Creighton overcoming the Salukis of Southern Illinois, 84-76 in an intra-conference grudge match. Southern Illinois remains on the bubble however, as they are sporting a 26-7 record overall. Lastly, in the marquee matchup last night, as No. 6 Gonzaga (interestingly a 2-seed) overcame a halftime deficit to defeat 1-seeded Pepperdine in a physical West Coast Final, 96-90. Bad News Bears extra Dan Dickau scored 29, most of which came in the second half rally that gave the Bulldogs the lead for good. Pepperdine will hold its breath with a 22-8 record. Three games against this season against 29-3 Gonzaga can’t hurt.

Side Dishes

This Story Won’t End Well: For the 5th straight day, there’s a new twist in the Nolan Richardson saga. Now it looks as though he’ll appeal the buyout that the University of Arkansas had decided to exercise. All I can tell you is that now that more lawyers are involved, it’ll get uglier. I bet this won’t be resolved before the NCAA Finals on April 1.

Good Night, Black Knight: Army announced that the contract of head coach Pat Harris won’t be extended (the contract is up in June). Harris had a 42-96 record over 5 seasons at West Point, and this year finished 12-16, having lost to Bucknell in the Patriot League tournament. He also played for Coach K on the Army squads of the late 70’s.

More Knight: Coach K’s predecessor at Army is tossing chairs again. Bobby Knight had another chair incident yesterday, this time it was legit, however. The back of the bench chair broke free, and Knight tossed it aside during the game. “That’s the furthest I’ve thrown a chair in a long time,” Knight said jokingly.

At the Buzzer: Western Kentucky stayed alive in the Sun Belt Tournament semifinals by sinking a game-winning shot as time expired to defeat New Mexico State 73-72. After closing the gap late, the Aggies sank a trey to go up by one with only 3 seconds left. The Hilltoppers inbounded from half-court (after a TO), and Patrick Sparks sank a 14-footer to seal it.

Tonight’s Menu:

• The Horizon Finals, Cleveland, Ohio. 5-seed Loyola-Chicago faces off against 6-seed Illinois-Chicago. 7:00pm EST

• The Sun Belt Finals, New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s No. 1 vs. No. 1. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns against the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky. Does anyone know how a conference can have both Denver and Florida International, (and not be the WAC, of course). 9:00pm EST

• The Mid-Continent Finals, Ft. Wayne, Indiana. 1-seed Valparaiso matches up with 6-seed IUPUI. Valpo has cruised thus far, and IUPUI has had to defeat 3-seed Oakland and 2-seed Oral Roberts on consecutive nights. 9:30pm EST

• The Ivy League. Princeton is in the drivers seat tonight – they win, they’re in. But, if they lose to Penn, it will force the first three-way playoff since the formation of the Ivy League in 1956. Penn would have a bye, and play the winner of the Princeton-Yale matchup at the Palestra in Philly on Thursday. The “final” would be on the campus of Lafayette Saturday night. And they say the Ivy doesn’t have a playoff.

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