- MVC Beat
Week 13 Summary, Updated Power Rankings, Mid Major Tidbits
A round of applause for the Missouri Valley Conference, a league that accomplished what very few other leagues could. They played the entirety of the men’s basketball schedule to completion. Now we enter Arch Madness week with (limited) fans in the stands, a team ranked in the top 25, and a shot at multiple NCAA Tournament bids. All told, you’d be hard pressed to ask for more out of the institutions that make up our favorite league. There was drama in the final week, but I don’t want to waste any of the good stuff here so let’s jump into it.
Week 13: MVC Power Rankings
1.) #20 Loyola, 21-4, 16-2, NET 16, BPI 21 (No Change): The Ramblers entered their weekend home series with SIU two wins away from at least a share of the league title and the #2 seed. What they got was even better: friendship. They also won the title outright and claimed the #1 seed for the MVC Tournament. Their ranking improved one spot to #20 (although their computer rankings took a dip) and their bracketology status remained basically steady (currently at an 8-seed). I wouldn’t call the Ramblers a stone-cold lock only because the committee traditionally does like to screw mid-majors, but they are awfully close to securing NCAA Tournament status no matter what happens this weekend. Loyola took their first steps towards a share of the title with a win on Friday over Southern Illinois. They got off to another slow start, trailing 13-5 five minutes into the game. Then they kicked the defense into gear for a long stretch, which is something they have been doing a lot lately. The Salukis did not score for over eight minutes as the Ramblers went on a slow 12-0 run to take the lead. Overall, Loyola outscored SIU 24-6 over the final 15 minutes of the first half to take a 29-20 lead into halftime. Early in the second half LUC held Southern scoreless for another 4-minute span and increased their lead to 41-25 with 14:03 to go. SIU got it down to seven with ten minutes to go and got as close as 45-41 with 5:19 to go. But the Ramblers shut the door from there playing stout for the rest of the game in hanging on for a 60-52 win. Loyola, who shot just 5-27 from deep, were led by Marquise Kennedy with 16 points off the bench. The W put the maroon and gold one win away from a share of the league title and the #2 seed in the MVC Tournament. They ended up with neither, however, as Drake lost to Bradley which allowed the Ramblers to secure the outright title and #1 seed with their close overtime win over SIU in game two. After a close early part of the game, Loyola looked like they were going to pull away for good after a 14-0 run put them up 31-16 with three minutes to go in the half. They led 38-25 at the break. But SIU went on an 11-2 run early in the second half to close the gap to 42-36, and later went on a 10-0 run over a six minute span that gave the Salukis the lead, 51-50, with 5:18 to go. Marquise Kennedy ended the six-minute drought with a basket at 4:03 to give Loyola the lead back, and the teams exchanged baskets, free throws and mostly missed shots the rest of the way. Lance Jones hit two free throws with 21 seconds to go to tie it at 56 but missed a third that would have given SIU the lead and the game went to OT. Jones scored a basket early in the extra frame to give SIU a 58-57 lead with 3:26 to go, but it would be the last points the Salukis would score. Braden Norris hit a three to give Loyola the lead and they very slowly iced the game with defense for the 65-58 OT win. It wasn’t pretty but the Ramblers are now MVC champions for the third time in four years, the #1 seed for the third time in four years, and a top-20 team that is looking good for the NCAA Tournament. Loyola will open their MVC Tournament at 11am on Friday in the quarterfinals against the winner of Thursday evening’s Bradley/Southern Illinois game.
2.) Drake, 24-3, 15-3, NET 42, BPI 64 (No Change): It was a disappointing weekend for the Bulldogs as they could not hang on to a share of the league title and a #1 seed at Arch Madness. Instead, decimated by injury, they will have to settle for the #2 seed. Their at-large chances took a monster hit as well and they are more-than-likely sitting on the outside looking in and may need to win Arch Madness to get in (especially if the committee factors in their shorthanded state). Joe Lunardi still has faith in the Bulldogs though (as does Dickie V), as he still has them as the fourth-to-last team in the field even after the loss to Bradley and the injuries. If Drake makes it to the title game and loses to Loyola, they’ll have a long week of anxious waiting ahead of them. They got off to a good start with an 80-71 victory on Friday that put them on the cusp. Five Bulldogs played at least 35 minutes in the contest and each scored in double figures. It was looking like the Braves might steal it early on, as they jumped out to a 23-14 lead eleven minutes into the game. But an 11-0 run capped off by a Joseph Yesufu three gave Drake the lead at 25-23 just three minutes later. After a brief back-and-forth, a 12-1 run by Drake ended the frame to put the ‘Dogs up 41-31. The run was extended to 17-1 in the second half as Bradley didn’t score for the first 3+ minutes. The game was never competitive again from that point on. DU’s lead increased to as much as 19 at one point and although Bradley went on a late charge to get as close as seven Drake was never in danger of losing. They won 80-71. Tremell Murphy had a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards while Darnell Brodie had an uncharacteristically high-volume scoring night to lead Drake with 21 points on 10-13 shooting. Drake had 18 assists to six turnovers. A win in the finale would have clinched the title and the #1 seed in the MVC tournament, however Drake fell a game short of the title with a loss. Bradley got off to a good start with a 13-5 lead early, but the ‘Dogs battled back and briefly took the lead before trailing by 5 at the break. The second half was back and forth, and Drake led 41-38 with over nine minutes to go. A poorly timed four-minute scoring drought allowed BU to go on a 7-0 run to take the lead with 5 minutes left. The run extended to 15-4 and BU had a seven-point lead at 57-50 with 1:33 left. Drake still did not give up. Joseph Yesufu made three free throws, hit another jumper, and after a Garret Sturtz steal hit two more free throws to get the Dogs within two with 50 seconds to go. After BU made two more freebies, Yesufu made a dunk to get within two again. After a Bradley free throw, Drake got the ball back with a chance to tie. Yesufu missed the tying three, however, and the Braves went on to win 67-61. Yesufu led Drake, whose starters played all but 14 minutes, with 21 points. Hats off to Drake despite the loss, for absolutely not giving up despite piles and piles of adversity. As the 2-seed they’ll open Arch Madness in the quarterfinals on Friday at 5pm, taking on the winner of Thursday’s Northern Iowa/Illinois State game. They hope to have Tank Hemphill back for the festivities.
3.) Missouri State, 16-6, 12-6, NET 94, BPI 125 (No Change): Missouri State came into the weekend needing one win to clinch the 3-seed at Arch Madness and that is exactly what they did. After winning the first game they didn’t necessarily tank in the second (their stars all played significant minutes) but they may have taken their eyes off the prize a touch. The loss on Saturday ended their seven-game winning streak, and eleven game streak against teams below them in the standings. Still, Missouri State looks to be in the best position of any squad outside the top two to spoil the Loyola/Drake party and snatch an NCAA bid from this weekend’s festivities. The Bears took care of clinching the 3-seed on day one of the weekend, winning 90-81. The first half was back-and-forth. The lead changed hands several times before MSU pulled away slightly just before the half for a 42-37 advantage. Evansville quickly tied, and briefly took the lead after halftime. With MSU leading 53-52 at the 12:39 mark, the Bears went on a 17-7 run to take the lead 70-59. They would never relinquish it. Mo State kept a multiple possession lead the rest of the way and won with relative ease. Gaige Prim led the way with the standard 33 points, while Isiaih Mosley added 26 for MSU who shot a nice 69% and won despite 17 turnovers. The win cinched the 3-seed for MSU, who had little to play for on Saturday and it showed. They fell behind the Aces early and never really got fully back into the game. Evansville built an early 25-14 lead and cruised to a 38-30 halftime advantage. The Bears cut the lead to four early on in the second half, but that was as close as they would get. Evansville went on a quick 11-0 run to increase the lead to 49-34 and both teams basically cruised to the finish from there. MSU made a minor rally late but never really challenged in a 72-63 loss. Mosley scored 22 and Prim 17 in the loss. Mo State was just 1-7 from long range while UE was 12-24. Missouri State will play in the final quarterfinal game on Friday at Arch Madness playing as the 3-seed. They’ll take on Valparaiso at 8pm.
4.) Indiana State, 14-9, 11-7, NET 124, BPI 161 (No Change): Indiana State split the weekend and ended up with the 4-seed as expected. Resting their banged up star Tyreke Key, a solid defensive effort (and Jake LaRavia) got ISU the win in game one. But the seemingly disinterested Sycamores were not mentally all there as they got decimated in game two. There may have been some gamesmanship at play as the 4-seed was lined up to play the banged-up Drake Bulldogs in the semifinals instead of Loyola, however that may have backfired on the as the 4-seed was lined up to play the Ramblers by the end of the weekend. The big news out of Terre Haute is that Greg Lansing is apparently likely to be relieved of his duties following the season, despite ISU’s expectations exceeding campaign. We’ll see how that develops, especially if ISU makes some noise at the league tournament or even wins it. The Sycamores had little to play for on Friday night as they were likely locked into the four seed no matter what they did (a fact confirmed with MSU’s win that same night). They rested their star, Tyreke Key, who was a little banged up. That didn’t keep them from winning for the tenth time in eleven tries, though, as a stingy defensive effort paved the way to a 58-43 victory at Valpo. This one was effectively over almost from the very start as ISU forced Valpo into a nearly 12-minute stretch with just one free throw offensively. That allowed the Trees to turn an 8-7 deficit into a 32-9 advantage. Indiana State ended up with a 22-point (38-16) halftime edge and basically cruised from there. Although they were outscored 27-20 in the second half, there was never much drama in this one as ISU held Valpo scoreless for another five-minute stretch and never led by less than 12 at any point in the second half. Jake LaRavia stepped for ISU in Tyreke Key’s absence, shooting 9-15 for 22 points and adding 14 rebounds. ISU committed just 5 turnovers to overcome 39% shooting (just 14% from deep). Perhaps they figured Evansville would lose to MSU on Saturday, setting up a rematch with Valpo in the quarterfinals of the MVC Tournament so they didn’t want to show to much. Perhaps they were just mentally not locked in and thinking more of their tournament game. Perhaps they just sucked. Whatever it was, the Trees had a bad day on Saturday. After taking an early 6-0 lead, ISU got decimated the rest of the way. They went on a 7-minute scoring drought that allowed Valpo to go on a 17-0 run and completely control the game from there. By halftime VU had a 39-18 lead, which increased to as much as 54-26 at one point. ISU did go on a 26-6 run at one point to cut the VU lead to eight, but never got closer and ended up losing 70-58. Tre Williams and R-R-R-Randy Miller led the Sycamores with 17 points apiece. The Trees will open their MVC Tournament campaign in the 4/5 quarterfinal game at 2pm on Thursday against Evansville.
5.) Evansville, 9-15, 7-11, NET 226, BPI 261 (Up One): Despite losing seven games in a row and ten out of twelve late in the season, and despite having the second-to-last NET and worst BPI ranking in the league, the Aces found a way to avoid Thursday. UE got the most of their seven league wins…..winning the right games at the right time to nab the 5-seed. Their seven wins included four against UNI and Valpo, the two teams they ended up tied with for the 5-seed, and that was the difference. They still had to win their last game and end their losing streak on senior day to get it done. They started the weekend by losing their seventh consecutive game and tenth in twelve tries as they put themselves on the brink of the play-in round with an 90-81 loss to Missouri State in game one. The game was close in the first half as the two teams went back and forth and the lead changed hands several times. MSU got a little separation before halftime for a five-point lead at the break, but UE closed the gap immediately in the second half. With about 12 minutes to go, a 17-7 run by the Bears put the Aces in a hole they would not recover from. They trailed by multiple possessions from that point forward and lost by nine. UE was unable to cool off Mo State’s nice game as the Bears shot 69%. The Aces were led by 26 from Jawaun Newton. UE recovered from that game and on what turned out to be their eighth and final try for play-in avoidance they finally got it done, beating MSU 72-63 on Saturday night. The game was not even very close, as UE took a 9-6 lead at 16:36 and never trailed from that point forward. They increased their lead to 25-14 with 7:50 to go, and after MSU got within 38-34 early in the second half, went on an 11-0 run to take a 15-point lead and put it away. They cruised from there, and although MSU made a mini push late, they never seriously challenged for the win. Shamar Givance scored 22 points for the Aces with Jawaun adding 20. The team shot 12-24 from deep while only committing seven turnovers. The win earned Evansville the 5-seed and they will open MVC Tournament play at 2pm on Friday in the quarterfinals against Indiana State.
6.) Valparaiso, 10-17, 7-11, NET 222, BPI 244 (Down One): Like Evansville, Valpo snuck into the top six of the MVC tournament by the skin of their teeth with a senior day win. Their win over Drake provided the tiebreaker over UNI for the 6th seed in the MVC’s adjusted tiebreaking formula they put in place about a month before the end of the season. Had the league used the system they have been using for the last several years, Valpo would have been relegated to the 7-seed behind UNI due to their lower NET ranking. Instead, the brown and gold get a pass to the quarterfinals. VU had a chance to effectively wrap up a top-six spot on Friday with a win over Indiana State at home. The Sycamores had little to play for and rested their best player Tyreke Key, but it didn’t matter as they held Valpo to 29% shooting, 14% from deep. This one was over very early as Valpo went on a 12-minute stretch where they scored just one point, allowing Indiana State to turn Valpo’s 8-7 lead into a 32-9 deficit. Valpo outscored ISU 27-20 in the second half, but by then the game was well past being in doubt. They never got closer than 12 as Indy State cruised to a 58-43 win. Ben Krikke and Donovan Clay led VU with 11 points apiece. Valpo finally wrapped up that top six spot with a dominant win over Indiana State on Saturday. After falling behind early, 6-0, Valpo went on a seven-minute 17-0 run to effectively put the game away early. Indiana State never seriously challenged as VU extended their lead to 39-18 by halftime and to as large as 54-26 in the second half. ISU did go on a 26-6 rally to cut the lead to eight, but Valpo was never in serious danger of losing and cruised to the 70-58 win. Jake Ognacevic was the star of this one off the bench with 19 points. As the 6-seed, Valpo will play Missouri State in the final quarterfinal game on Friday night at Arch Madness, tipping at 8pm.
7.) Northern Iowa, 9-15, 7-11, NET 191, BPI 181 (Up Two): UNI entered the weekend thinking that two wins would give them a pretty good shot at avoiding the bottom four. They got their two wins but didn’t get the help they needed from Indiana State or Missouri State and were relegated to the play-in round for just the second time in 18 years. Had the MVC used the tiebreaker rules they have employed for the last several years, UNI would have been the 6-seed. Instead, the league changed the rules about a month ago which gave Valpo the tiebreaker over UNI by virtue of their win over Drake (instead of UNI’s superior NET ranking). Northern Iowa is now faced with the prospect of trying to beat the same team three times in one week when they play Illinois State yet again on Thursday. The Panthers stayed in the hunt for a top six spot with their 70-56 win over the Redbirds on Friday. It was close in the early going, but UNI slowly pulled away in the middle part of the first half. ISU scored just two points over a seven-minute stretch allowing UNI to increase their lead to 28-15. The Panthers led by nine at halftime, 34-25. It was looking like it might be another Northern Iowa meltdown early in the second half as ISU came out strong. The ‘Birds cut the lead to three with just over 12 minutes to go. ISU then went on a five-minute drought and by the time they scored again UNI had built a 55-43 lead. The Panthers cruised from there and led by as many as 17 at one point before landing on a 70-54 win. UNI did not shoot the 3-ball well (5-24) which is usually a prerequisite for a Panther W. However, they shot it well (18-31) inside the arc and made 19-22 freebies. They were led by 15 points from Trae Berhow. Although it ended up being mostly meaningless, UNI also won a double-OT thriller over the Redbirds on Saturday. The game was close most of the way. UNI had a 10-point lead early in the first half but went on a scoring drought to end the frame as usual. They made just two baskets over the final eight minutes of the first half to trail 37-30 at the break. It was a 21-6 run to end the first frame. The Panthers battled back in the second half to take one-point lead with 12 minutes to go. The game featured the slimmest of margins the rest of the way as no one led by more than four. Austin Phyfe hit a shot at the buzzer to send it to OT. In overtime, Noah Carter gave UNI an 81-79 lead with a three with 24 seconds to go before ISU tied it with two free throws with 4 ticks to go. Finally, UNI pulled away in the second OT with baskets by Phyfe, Nate Heise, Carter and Bowen Born to pull away for the 94-87 2OT win. Noah Carter had 22 off the bench for UNI while Bowen Born had 21 and Austin Phyfe 18. UNI will face the difficult prospect of trying to beat the same team for the third time in a week when they play the Redbirds in an Arch Madness play-in game on Thursday night at 8pm. It will be (at least) 130 minutes of basketball between the two teams in a week’s time.
8.) Bradley 12-15, 6-12, NET 158, BPI 136 (Up Two): The Braves were not able to claw their way out of Thursday, but they were able to leave their mark on the MVC race by keeping Drake off the throne with a win on Saturday. Although they were playing their final games in Peoria this season, the Braves did not have any senior day festivities as they dressed no seniors. Nevertheless, they came out swinging Friday night against Drake. An early 19-7 Bradley run had the Braves up nine, 23-14, nine minutes into the game. Drake promptly went on a quick 11-0 run to take the lead, and after some back and forth finished the half on a separate 12-1 run to go up ten at the break. The run extended to 17-1 early in the second half to put the ‘Dogs up 15. Drake cruised from there, leading by as much as 19 before ending with an 80-71 win. Bradley did rally frantically at the end to get as close as seven, but never seriously challenged Drake. Ja’shon Henry led the shorthanded Braves attack with 17. Game two was a different story, as BU started to show signs that they were figuring out how to operate without their suspended and injured stars. With the title on the line for their opponents, Bradley jumped out to an early 13-5 lead, but went on a scoring drought to let the Bulldogs back into the game. A quick burst before half gave BU a 29-24 advantage. Two more scoring droughts in the second half let Drake reclaim the lead. With the ‘Dogs leading 41-38 with nine minutes to go Bradley made their move. They went on a 7-0 run that was extended to 15-4 and gave BU a 53-45 edge. Drake went on a run very late and had the ball down three with under 30 seconds to go. But BU got the stop and the win, ruining Drake’s title dreams. Freshman Jayson Kent, little used this season until recently, led the team with 15 points off the bench while Rienk Mast and Sean East each added 14. Bradley starts MVC Tournament play in the event opener, a Thursday night play-in game against Southern Illinois at 5pm.
9.) Southern Illinois, 11-13, 5-13, NET 213, BPI 248 (Down Two): Heading into the weekend, SIU knew they would need a borderline miracle to avoid the bottom four. The biggest advantage they had was also their biggest liability. They were playing on the road against Loyola. It was the least likely place to get a W, but if they did they would have a tiebreaker with anyone they split with during the year by virtue of beating one of the league’s best teams. On Friday they gave it the old college try, but came up short. After taking a 14-5 lead five minutes into the game, SIU went on a game defining nine-minute drought allowing the Ramblers to go on a 12-0 run to take the lead in the process. The run extended to 24-6 to end the half and see Loyola leading 29-20. Southern never got even again in the second half, but after Loyola extended the lead to sixteen they did fight back. They outscored LUC 16-4 over eight minutes to get within four at the 5-minute mark, 45-41. The Ramblers played tough D to shut the door from there, winning 60-52. SIU shot 12-20 from deep and actually made just one fewer basket than Loyola, but only shot two free throws the entire game and missed them both. They were led by Steven Verplacken Jr with 17 points and eight rebounds. Heading into Saturday there was one scenario (out of 32) that would see SIU finish with the six-seed. SIU needed all five games to go a specific way in order to snag the spot. Literally the opposite happened and none of the five games went their way, but the one they had most control over nearly did. SIU took the eventual league champs to the brink, losing in overtime to the Ramblers 65-58. It didn’t look good early as Loyola took a 31-16 lead in the first half and rolled to a 38-25 halftime lead. But SIU came back first with an 11-2 run to get within six, 42-36, then with a 10-0 run to take a 51-50 lead with 5:18 to go. The two teams struggled to the finish, but a foul on Braden Norris sent Lance Jones to the line for three free throws with SIU down two and 21 seconds left. He made the first two but missed the third and the game went to OT. In OT SIU only scored two points, although they held the lead until Braden Norris hit a three with 3:02 to go. Lance Jones missed the front end of a one-and-one, turned it over on the next possession, and missed a three on the next. Loyola rode it out for the win. SIU will open the tournament in St. Louis at 5pm on Thursday when they play Bradley in the 8/9 play-in game.
10.) Illinois State, 7-17, 4-14, NET 242, BPI 254 (Down Two): The Redbirds entered their Friday night home contest with Northern Iowa with a faint chance avoid Thursday and nab the six-seed. At the very least, a sweep of UNI would guarantee they avoided the cellar, and one win would likely get them at least company at the bottom. Those hopes were dashed when they lost the opener to the Panthers 70-54. After it was back and forth in the early going, ISU went on a drought. They scored just three points over a ten minute stretch and UNI was able to build a 28-15 lead. The ‘Birds played a little better down to end the half and cut the lead to nine at the break. Illinois State started the second half well, cutting UNI’s lead down to three at one point just over seven minutes in. But they went on another drought, going over four minutes without a point and when the dust settled UNI had a double-digit lead. It would never get any closer as UNI cruised to a 70-56 win. Dusan Mahorcic paced the ‘Birds with 18 points and 8 rebounds. ISU committed 18 turnovers and were a clean 5-25 from deep and 20-50 from the floor. On senior day, ISU put up a stellar performance but were unable to put away UNI in a 94-87 double OT loss that cinched a spot alone at the bottom of the standings for ISU. After falling behind by ten early in the first half, ISU finished on a 21-6 run over the final eight minutes of the frame to take a seven-point halftime lead. UNI quickly evened things in a very close second half that saw neither team lead by more than four for the final 15 minutes. A late DJ Horne 3-pointer gave ISU a 70-68 lead, and Horne had a chance to ice it at the line with 10 seconds to go. Unfortunately for ISU he missed the front end of a one-and-one and Austin Phyfe tied it at the buzzer for UNI. In OT, Illinois State led by five early on, but the Panthers battled back to take a 76-75 lead. The teams exchanged points, and ISU again found themselves with the lead and the ball late. This time they missed a three and UNI responded with a three of their own to take the lead with 24 seconds to go. Then Dusan Mahorcic made two free throws with four seconds left to send it to another OT. The Panthers owned the second OT frame and ended up pulling away for the win. DJ Horne was one of four Redbirds to play more than 40 minutes and scored 34 points off the bench. Mahorcic added 20 points and nine rebounds. The Redbirds have to like their chances as they play UNI for the third time in a week at Arch Madness. They’ll take on the Panthers in Thursday’s second play-in game at 8pm.
MID MAJOR TIDBITS
Here is what is happening in other mid-major leagues. Rankings are written as NET/BPI.
o Houston (4/3): The Cougars remain on the 3-line in bracketology after handling South Florida and Western Kentucky. They have Memphis on the road to end the regular season but remain percentage points behind Wichita for the regular season title.
o Wichita State (66/99): The Shockers games were cancelled this week, including one against SMU that would have been a great opportunity for both teams. Since they’re in first place the Shockers are listed as in the field as a 12-seed with the AAC AQ. That would put them squarely on the bubble as an at-large. Road games with lowly Tulane and Temple remain this week and they probably are both must-wins.
o SMU (55/45): After more postponements the Mustangs have only played 15 games this year and have not played since February 8th. They missed a chance against Wichita State this week with that game’s postponement. They are scheduled to end their regular season against Tulsa almost four weeks to the day since their last game. SMU is on the bubble, though, as they are currently listed as the sixth team out.
o Memphis (60/55): The Tigers made their first appearance in bracketology as the 8th team out this week. A win over Houston at home on Sunday would make their profile much more compelling.
o Saint Bonaventure (28/32): Despite their Monday loss to Dayton, the Bonnies claimed the A-10 regular season title by a half game over VCU (who also lost their final game to Davidson). Bracketology lists them as the 10-seed AQ on the same line as Louisville and UConn who are the eighth and seventh to last teams in. Its looking good for SBU, especially if they can avoid a first round loss in this week’s A-10 Tournament.
o VCU (37/63): The Rams got a big win against Saint Louis before losing to Davidson on Saturday which kept them from the regular season title. As of right now, bracketology has them as an 11-seed and the sixth-to-last team in. As the 2-seed in the A-10 tournament they’ll face Dayton or Rhode Island and avoiding a loss should put them in pretty good shape.
o Saint Louis (50/33): It was an up-and-down week for the Billikens who lost to VCU on Tuesday before beating Richmond and UMass to end the week. They are currently very much on the bubble as the 5th team out in bracketology and start A-10 Tournament play as the 4-seed where they will take on UMass, La Salle or St Joes. It actually isn’t a great matchup as it doesn’t present a chance to get a marquee win. SLU might have to get to the A-10 title game to feel decent about their chances.
o Richmond (54/57): The Spiders had a bad week, losing to Saint Louis and then at home to lowly Saint Joseph’s. They are the 8-seed in the league tournament where they’ll face Duquesne and then have an opportunity to get a good win against Saint Bonaventure. Their losses knocked them off the bracketology radar entirely and they’ll certainly need to win at least three games in the A-10 tournament to even be a serious contender at this point.
o Davidson (53/71): is also not listed anywhere in bracketology and hasn’t been all year. However they beat VCU to end the year and are the #3 seed in the league tournament so watch for them as a possible wildcard to make some noise.
o Dayton and Rhode Island are good teams that are not in the NCAA discussion.
o Western Kentucky (74/80): I think you can take the Hilltoppers off the big board after they lost to Houston by 24 points this week. They just aren’t there anymore. Although they are listed as a 12-seed in bracketology (as the C-USA aq) which puts them on the same seed line as the last at-larges.
o UAB, North Texas, La Tech and Marshall are all good teams that are rated in the top 100 in both metrics, but are not in the NCAA at-large discussion. The C-USA Tournament should be fun though.
o #19 San Diego State (18/18): The Aztecs swept Boise this weeend for their 10th straight win. They play at UNLV tomorrow before the MWC Tournament. They are currently tied with Colorado State and half a game up on Utah State and now Boise State for the league lead. I think even if they were to lose to UNLV and in the first round of the MWC (which is unlikely) they still get in at this point. Their profile is looking very, very good. They are currently an 8-seed in bracketology.
o Boise State (35/43): After sweeping Utah State last week, BSU came back and got swept by San Diego State this week. It was a missed opportunity for the Broncos, but it didn’t torpedo them either. They play Fresno today and will play in the MWC next. They are currently listed as the fifth-to-last team in and an 11-seed so they are squarely on the bubble. A couple wins at the MWC Tourney would cinch it.
o Colorado State (43/72): The Rams swept Air Force badly last week in their first games back after a 3+ week break. They play New Mexico on Wednesday and tricky one at Nevada on Friday (four games in seven days) before the MWC Tournament. They can actually win the league title with two wins. They are currently listed as an 11-seed AQ, which puts them right amongst the bubbliest of teams if they fail to win the league tournament. A couple MWC Tournament wins would cinch it.
o Utah State (49/52): The Aggies just need to win. A sweep of a solid Nevada team helps, and wins over Wyoming and at Fresno this Thursday and Saturday are crucial before the MWC Tournament. They are currently listed as the fourth team out by bracketology.
o Gonzaga (1/1): Still undefeated and still a lock for a 1-seed.
o BYU (20/29): The Cougars negotiated their WCC schedule with just one non-Gonzaga loss. Listed as a 7-seed in bracketology and heading into the league tournament as the 2-seed I’d say they are probably a lock at this point.
o Saint Mary’s, San Francisco and Loyola Marymount have had good years, but aren’t in the running.
o Summit League: South Dakota was one home win away from a regular season title, but it eluded them as their best player (and possible league POY) AJ Plitzuweit suffered a catastrophic injury in the final seconds of their first game. They hung on to win, but lost the rematch the next day which allowed SDSU to claim the title. SDSU will be the 1-seed in the league tournament and take on #8 Omaha. USD will be #2 and play Western Illinois. NDSU will be seeded 3rd and play Kansas City. North Dakota will be the 5-seed and play Oral Roberts. The stage is set for a possible all-Dakota, all-MVFC semifinal. SDSU is listed as a 15-seed in bracketology.
o Winthrop (68/91) still has just one loss and is a 13-seed in bracketology. They play Longwood (teehee) in the Big South Semifinals on Thursday.
o Belmont (81/82) lost to Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State this weekend, tripling their total losses in the process. Not sure WTF happened there. They open OVC Tournament play on Wednesday against SIUE. They are listed as a 13-seed in bracketology.
o Also in the Midwest, Toledo (58/68) still leads the MAC which still has some games to play before their league tournament. They have a solid 12-seed in bracketology.
o Wright State (63/62) is still having a great season in the other midwestern mid-major league, the Horizon, and has great computer numbers. But they shared the league title with the much-less-computer-friendly Cleveland State and are actually the 2-seed in the league tournament behind the Vikings who are the league’s current bracketology rep. Their league tournament is already underway and the quarterfinals happen tonight. Youngstown State, an MVFC member, is the 6-seed and won their opener over UIC so they will face 3rd seed Oakland tonight.
o Colgate (9/56) is now ranked NINTH in the NET. I honestly don’t know why this isn’t getting more press. They aren’t even listed as the Patriot League’s rep in bracketology. That goes to Navy who are a 14-seed. Patriot League Tournament starts this weekend.
o UCSB (51/65) also has impressive computer numbers and is listed as the final bracketology 13-seed out of the Big West.
Our Lady of the Lake Update The gift that keeps on giving. I guess they now have a game scheduled against Louisiana Tech on March 3rd. Why not?