Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mid-Major Block Party: 3 To Watch

A plethora of bubble teams, bracketologists and bloggers try their best to project who will be in and who will be out of the 65-team tournament field (link).

The most dire of situations have arisen in locations like Syracuse, St. Joe’s, Houston, Dayton, Florida, Ohio State and countless mid-majors leading their conference but perhaps requiring a conference tournament title to participate in the NCAA tournament (point and case: VCU out of the CAA).

Since we seem to flaunt a mid-major bias here at PHSports, let’s tackle 3 conferences and 3 tantalizing remaining matchups.

Colonial Athletic Association

Saturday, March 1st: Old Dominion at UNC-Wilmington
-Right now, the conference’s top five consists of VCU, UNC-W, George Mason, ODU and W&M. With the Rams only requiring one victory or a combination of losses to clinch the regular season title, seeds 2 through 5 are separated by 1-game. No game seems more vital to the tourney standings than a season-ending showdown in Wilmington. UNC-W boasts two tie-breaker-friendly victories over George Mason (and a Wednesday matchup @VCU), while ODU has won 5 in a row (including over VCU, Mason, and Patriot League staple Bucknell). Who walks away the victor on March 1st may slide into the 2-3 spot and avoid a semifinal matchup against the Rams in Richmond. Suddenly, it appears VCU is the conference’s only at-large candidate now. Yet, nothing is for certain as they may have to reach the CAA Final through a suddenly-crowded upper half of the CAA.

Big South

Saturday, March 1st: UNC-Asheville at Winthrop
-The Big South race has gone under the radar this season; however, Winthrop being throttled at home by Davidson may have opened a few eyes into the one-bid conference. Asheville trails the Eagles by 1 game for the conference, yet already owns the first of two crucial matchups between this year’s Big South heavyweights. Both teams should cruise through easier matchups Wednesday, leaving all of the regular season marbles on the table Saturday night.

Big West

Thursday, February 28th: CSU-Northridge vs. CSU-Fullerton
-Come tourney time, it might be a mistake to count out teams like Pacific and pre-season favorite UCSB; however, it’s all about the battle of California in the Big West. Despite Fullerton and Northridge not meeting in a climactic season finale, that doesn’t decrease the impact of their battle this Thursday. In fact, even further drama is added as both teams have “trap games” remaining on their schedule the next week plus. Who wins this Pacific Coast battle may very well have the momentum needed to carry into March Madness.


Paymon said...

Michael Litos at CAA:LAMM gave props to the schedule makers regarding tonight's matchups. This matchup is no different. The Dub suffered a forehead-scratching home defeat to Vermont and ODU continues to roll.

Ultimately, how both ODU (v. N'Eastern) and UNCW (@ VCU) perform tonight will determine their mindset coming into Saturday's game. I have a feeling that UNCW's frontline will prove too strong for the Monarchs and play well for the loyal fans on senior night.

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