For one last time this season, Friday was a light night with certain leagues being featured. Along the way, a couple of regular season titles are settled, while others are much closer to being settled.
Monmouth already clinched the regular season title in the MAAC, but they want to go into the conference tournament playing well. They continue to do that, beating a good Siena team 77-73 for their 15th straight win. After being left out of the NCAA Tournament last year in a questionable decision by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, Monmouth is leaving nothing to chance this time.
Akron clinched a share of the MAC regular season title with an 89-83 win at Buffalo. It’s the second in a row for the Zips, who as we have chronicled before are the closest thing to a signature program in the conference right now.
Meanwhile, Valparaiso and Princeton are both a step closer to winning their regular season titles. Valpo was without star forward Alec Peters, but the Crusaders still went to Wright State and left with an 84-74 win, impressive considering Wright State is tough to beat at home. Shane Hammink picked up the slack with 25 points as the Crusaders outscored Wright State 50-32 in the second half. Oakland won at Green Bay 85-72 to keep pace with the Crusaders, but it is Valparaiso who controls their own destiny.
Princeton is now 11-0 in Ivy League play, which is made all the more remarkable by the fact that the Tigers lost two key frontcourt players to season-ending injuries in December. Harvard beat Yale at home to stay within two games of the Tigers, and they host Brown tonight in trying to stay alive another day.
At this time next week, we will be talking about NCAA Tournament bids going out. For now, we have the last part of the regular season to enjoy.
Kansas freshman Josh Jackson was charged with one count of criminal damage to property for his role in an incident that happened back in December. The incident allegedly occurred outside a bar in Lawrence, where Jackson and reportedly others damaged a woman’s vehicle, and he is being charged with a misdemeanor for damage less than $1,000. Head coach Bill Self said the team already applied in-house discipline and will keep that in-house.
The story out of Omaha regarding injured Creighton guard Maurice Watson Jr. has had more developments. A police report said that a 19-year-old woman, also a student at Creighton, accused Watson of raping her in a bathroom in an apartment at about 3 a.m. on February 4. Watson was suspended from all athletic activities earlier in the week, and the developments since an arrest warrant was issued on Thursday have shed more light on it as the school has been investigating the incident. Watson and his attorneys are denying the allegations, and there appear to be conflicting reports about whether or not Watson, who has been home in Philadelphia rehabbing from his torn ACL, is en route to Omaha to turn himself in. A good report on the matter can be found at the Omaha World-Herald.
Tennessee will almost certainly be without guard Jordan Bowman for a second straight game due to a bout with pneumonia. The freshman, who has started 26 games, missed Wednesday night’s 67-56 loss to Vanderbilt after playing just a minute in their prior game. The Volunteers could use him, as they have lost three of four and are hanging by a thread on the NCAA Tournament bubble heading into Saturday’s game at South Carolina.
- Five ACC games are on tap, starting with Florida State at tough-luck Clemson, North Carolina at Pittsburgh and Virginia at NC State (noon), then Boston College hosts Virginia Tech and Miami hosts Duke (4 p.m.)
- In America East, Vermont tries to become the first team in conference history to go undefeated as they host Stony Brook (2 p.m.)
- In Atlantic 10 play, Rhode Island hosts VCU desperately needing a win to improve their NCAA Tournament resume (2 p.m.)
- Big 12 play is highlighted by Baylor at Iowa State (4 p.m.), while Kansas visits Texas and Kansas State is at Oklahoma (6 p.m.)
- The Big East slate opens with a game which at one time would have been must-see TV, but is now an also-ran in Georgetown at St. John’s (noon). Also, Villanova hosts Creighton (3 p.m.), then Providence hosts Marquette in a key game as they try to continue their good play of late (4 p.m.)
- The Big South closes out its slate with a big headliner, as two of the three teams tied at the top battle with Liberty visiting UNC Asheville (2 p.m.) The other team in the tie at the top, Winthrop, plays at Presbyterian (4:30 p.m.)
- In Big Ten play, Purdue visits a Michigan team that could use another good win (4 p.m.)
- In the Ivy League, Princeton has a chance to clinch at least a share of the title as they play at Cornell (6 p.m.), while Harvard hosts Brown (7 p.m.)
- The Mountain West has a key game as San Diego State visits conference leader Colorado State (8 p.m.)
- The Pac-12 slate begins with Oregon hoping to not need the comeback they needed on Thursday night as they head to Stanford (4 p.m.), then the game of the day is UCLA at Arizona (8:15 p.m.)
- SEC play starts with a key bubble game as Tennessee visits South Carolina (1 p.m.), then the headliner as Florida visits Kentucky (2 p.m.)
- The Sun Belt has a key game in the evening as Georgia Southern visits Arkansas State (8 p.m.)
- In the West Coast Conference, Saint Mary’s gets a challenge from visiting Santa Clara (10 p.m.), which tips just before Gonzaga tries to complete an undefeated regular season as they host BYU (10:15 p.m.)