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14 are in, 4 to go!

March 10, 2002 Columns No Comments

Sunday, March 10th, 2002

by Andrew Flynn

It’s Selection Sunday!
Bubbles. Tiny Bubbles. Don Ho had it right when he sang that way back in the day. At least a dozen well-qualified teams are sitting around like nervous wrecks, waiting for the selection committee to determine their fate. But enough of the melodrama, let’s get to the games!

Now That’s What I’m Talking About!
14 teams made it into the dance yesterday – 13 by winning their conference finals, and one by winning the Ivy league non-tournament tournament.

They’re In:

America East: Boston University. The 2nd-seeded Terriers trounced the 5-seed Maine Black Bears (who were 12-17 on the season) 66-40.

Atlantic 10: Xavier toppled the Richmond Spiders, 73-60. Xavier goes to the dance for, like, the 32nd year in a row.

Big East: After days of no upsets, we get a big finish. UConn won it in an exciting double-overtime game over 7th-ranked Pittsburgh, 74-65, a game in which the Panthers lost starter Brandin Knight at the end of regulation to a knee injury. It’s unknown whether he’ll be available for the NCAA’s.

Big Sky: Hoopville is officially hopping on the Grizzlies’ bandwagon! 5-seed Montana knocked-off 2-seed Eastern Washington to win the automatic NCAA bid. Even though they had a losing record going into the conference tournament, Montana has won three straight, and some would say they’re peaking at just the right time, knocking off the 4-, 1-, and 2- seeds on successive nights. It’s rumored that the Grizzlies will face Siena in the play-in game.

Big West: Late last night, the 3rd-seeded Santa Barbara Gauchos (20-10) surprised 1-seed Utah State, 60-56, to win the title. The game was pretty even, each team scoring 24 points in the second half.

C-USA: Well it wasn’t the rematch we were expecting. We were hoping for a give-and-take, closely played game. Instead Cincinnati put on a clinic, thoroughly defeating Marquette 77-63. Cincinnati (30-3) is only 30-game winner in the NCAAs.

Ivy: None of these Ivy League Tournament games have been close. I just don’t get it. The transitive property is just not in effect, either. The Penn Quakers trouced the upstart Yale Bulldogs, 77-58, as the chain of Princeton-Penn bid-winners is now at 14 years.

Mid-American: Bowling Green held up better than anyone expected, losing only by 11 to the Kent State Yankees, who have now won their 18th straight. Kent State was the first 1-seed to walk out of the tournament with the trophy since 1996.

MEAC: Top-seeded Hampton rolled over Howard 80-62 to go dancing for the second consecutive year. This year’s team is 26-6, and only had one loss in conference play, ironically to Howard.

Mountain West: Gots to love the 5-seeds! All hail the Fisher King! And etc. The Aztecs almost let an 11-point lead slip away, and sealed the deal in the final seconds to defeat UNLV 76-75. UNLV had defeated SDSU twice this season in overtime, so it’s safe to say that they’re fairly matched. This marks SDSU’s first dance since 1985.

Pacific-10: We called it. Well, kind of. Yesterday we predicted that based on some obscure math corollaries, Arizona would defeat USC 90-89. It wasn’t that close. USC might have exhausted itself defeating the Ducks, losing to the Wildcats 81-71. With all of the success that Arizona has had, this marked their first conference title since 1990.

Southland: The McNeese State Cowboys return to the dance for the first time in 13 years, as they defeated 2-seed Louisiana-Monroe 65-43. Believe it or not, but it was a three point game at the half (25-22), but someone left their game in the locker room.

SWAC: Alcorn State edged Alabama State 70-67 to return to the dance 3 years after thier last trip. It came down to free throws, as the Braves stretched the lead with under 5 second remaining, and Alabama State wasn’t able to sink the desperation throw to tie.

WAC: Hawaii came back to defeat Tulsa, 73-59, on Tulsa’s home court, for the second consecutive year. Hawaii downed the Hurricane for the third time this season, though Tulsa should be considered for the dance as well. Half of Tulsa’s 6 losses are to the Rainbow Warriors.

Decided Today:

ACC: It comes down to the matchup we’ve been anticipating all tournament, the rematch, . . . Huh? Oh, someone was caught looking ahead. That’s what happened as Maryland lost to a young and talented NC State squad, 86-82. Duke handled Wake, 79-64 to set up a Triangle showdown, but not the usual one.

Big Ten: So was it all part of a master plan? Iowa, the 9-seed, is playing for the dance. Win and they’re in. They face off against 2-seed Ohio State. Can the Hawkeyes do it one more time? It’s not like they’re bad, overall they had 19 wins, but just 5 in the conference.

Big 12: Kansas rolled, and Oklahoma rocked. Kansas ended Texas Tech’s run in a 90-50 romp, and Oklahoma downed Texas 67-51. Both Kansas and Oklahoma were 4-seeds in last year’s dance. I’m guessing they’ll both be better this year.

SEC: Well, Alabama did its job, downing South Carolina, 65-57. And Mississippi State dashed the upset hopes of LSU, 57-51. There’s still a chance that Alabama, if they win, will get a 1-seed in the dance, but with the diminished competition in the tournament, they’ll probably be a two. They still have to take care of business.

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