Patriot League Championship—4:45 PM EST On ESPN2
#6 Lafayette (13-18) at #1 Bucknell (24-8)
Lafayette makes an appearance in the conference championship game for the second consecutive year. The Leopards fell to rival Lehigh last season and were tabbed the best team in the league in the preseason. They took a step backward and tumbled to sixth in the league.
Bucknell closed 2010 with an 8-2 finish and returned all five starters and most of their key reserves. The Bison continued to play top-notch ball and ran away with the Patriot League title. Bucknell is on fire, having won nine games in a row by an average of 72-60 and 22 of their last 24 games.
The Bison swept the series against their Keystone State rival, winning 75-56 in Lewisburg and 74-69 in overtime at Easton. Tonight’s game is on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, so Bucknell will enjoy the home court advantage.
In the earlier game in Lewisburg, Bucknell began the second half of a close game by going on a 20-3 run to put the game out of reach. The Bison held Lafayette to 37% shooting and controlled the boards by 14. In the game at Lafayette, Bucknell led 61-50 with four and a half minutes to go, but the Bison did not score another point in regulation. Lafayette scored 11 consecutive points to force overtime and then briefly took a 64-61 lead at the start of the extra period. The Leopards shot under 40% again and were outrebounded once again.
Bucknell goes just seven-deep, and all seven contribute to the offense. Muscular big man Mike Muscala leads the way with 14.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. The 6-11 Muscala has recorded six double-doubles in the last 15 games. Bryson Johnson is an excellent long-range shooter, and he shoots 47% from three-point range. As a team, Bucknell shoots 40.6% from behind the arc.
Lafayette led the entire game at Holy Cross in the conference tournament quarterfinal. The Leopards placed five players in double figure scoring, and they stole the ball nine times to knock off the Crusaders. In the semifinal round at number two seed American, the Leopards trailed by two points in the final seconds when Jim Mower buried a three-pointer as the clock expired to seal a double overtime victory.
If the Leopards are to pull off the big upset and advance to a First Four game in Dayton next week, big man Jared Mintz will have to neutralize Muscala. Mintz gives away two inches in height, but he has the power to hold his own inside. Mintz leads the Leopards with a 15.8 point scoring average and 5.8 rebound average. Mower averages 12.4 points per game.
Thursday’s Results And Friday’s Games With NCAA Tournament Repercussions
All Times EST
Atlantic Coast Conference—Greensboro, NC
#9 Miami 69 #8 Virginia 62
#5 Boston College 81 #12 Wake Forest 67
#7 Maryland 75 #10 North Carolina State 67
#6 Virginia Tech 59 #11 Georgia Tech 43
#9 Miami (19-13) vs. #1 North Carolina (24-6) 12 Noon ESPN2
#5 Boston College (20-11) vs. #4 Clemson (20-10) Approx. 2:15 PM ESPN2
#7 Maryland (19-13) vs. #2 Duke (27-4) 7 PM ESPN2
#6 Virginia Tech (20-10) vs. #3 Florida State (21-9) Approx. 9:15 PM ESPN2
North Carolina, Duke, Florida State, Clemson, and Boston College are in. Virginia Tech, Maryland, and Miami are on the bubble. Miami and Maryland must win today, or they are NIT-bound. Virginia Tech is in a near must-win situation. They are on the middle of the bubble.
Atlantic 10 Conference—Atlantic City, NJ
No Games Played Thursday
#9 Dayton (20-12) vs. #1 Xavier (24-6) 12 Noon CBS College
#12 St. Joseph’s (10-21) vs. #4 Duquesne (18-11) 2:30 PM CBS College
#10 LaSalle (15-17) vs. #2 Temple (24-6) 6:30 PM CBS College
#6 Rhode Island (19-12) vs. #3 Richmond (24-7) 9 PM CBS College
Xavier, Temple, and Richmond are in. Duquesne must win the tournament to get in, so the bubble teams will be pulling for Dayton or Xavier to stop them in the semifinals. Keep an eye on Rhode Island. The Rams are capable of upsetting Richmond and Temple to get to the finals.
Big 12 Conference—Kansas City
#1 Kansas 53 #9 Oklahoma State 52
#5 Colorado 87 #4 Kansas State 75
#2 Texas 74 #10 Oklahoma 54
#3 Texas A&M 86 #6 Missouri 71
#1 Kansas (30-2) vs. #5 Colorado (21-12) 7 PM
#2 Texas (26-6) vs. #3 Texas A&M (24-7) 9:30 PM
Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Kansas State, and Colorado are in. The Buffalos secured their bid yesterday, so the rest of this tournament is all about the seedings.
Big East Conference—New York City
#9 Connecticut 76 #1 Pittsburgh 74
#4 Syracuse 79 #5 St. John’s 73
#2 Notre Dame 89 #7 Cincinnati 51
#3 Louisville 81 #11 Marquette 56
#9 Connecticut (24-9) vs. #4 Syracuse (26-6) 7 PM ESPN
#2 Notre Dame (26-5) vs. #3 Louisville (24-8) Approx. 9:15 PM ESPN
11, yes 11, teams will receive invitations Sunday evening. This is the strongest league not just this year, but maybe since the Big East placed three teams in the Final Four in 1985. This should be a great finish to the tournament, and Notre Dame has a chance to move to a number one seed if the Irish win it. Any one of these four could still be playing in late March.
Big Ten Conference—Indianapolis
#8 Northwestern 75 #9 Minnesota 65
#7 Michigan State 66 #10 Iowa 61
#6 Penn State 61 #11 Indiana 55
#1 Ohio State (29-2) vs. #8 Northwestern (18-12) 12 Noon ESPN
#4 Michigan (19-12) vs. #5 Illinois (19-12) Approx 2:20 ESPN
#2 Purdue (25-6) vs. #7 Michigan State (18-13) 6:30 PM Big Ten Network
#3 Wisconsin (23-7) vs. #6 Penn State (17-13) Approx. 8:45 Big Ten Network
Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois are in. Michigan State can definitely punch a ticket with an upset over Purdue today, and they are still on the highest part of the bubble if they lose. Northwestern and Penn State must win the tournament to get in, although the Nittany Lions could get in the discussion with a loss in the finals. We would not be all that surprised if the Wildcats play Ohio State a close game, at least for 30 to 32 minutes.
Big West Conference—Anaheim
#1 Long Beach State 79 #8 UC-Irvine 72
#5 UC-Santa Barbara 79 #4 Pacific 67
#7 UC-Riverside 70 #2 Cal Poly 66 ot
#3 Cal State Northridge 75 #6 Cal State Fullerton 54
#1 Long Beach State (21-10) vs. #5 UC-Santa Barbara (16-13) 9:30 PM ESPNU
#3 Cal State Northridge (14-17) vs. #7 UC-Riverside (12-18) 12 Midnight ESPNU
The champion is the only team that will advance. Long Beach State has a minimal at best chance of winning a first round game if they are the champion.
Conference USA—El Paso, TX
#8 East Carolina 75 #1 U A B 70 ot
#4 Memphis 66 #5 Southern Miss. 63
#3 U T E P 77 #6 Marshall 65
#2 Tulsa 81 #7 Rice 72
#2 Tulsa (19-12) vs. #3 U T E P (24-8) 3 PM
#4 Memphis (23-9) vs. #8 East Carolina (18-14) 5:30 PM
At this point, no team is guaranteed a spot in the Big Dance. UAB played their way to the bottom half of the bubble with a loss to ECU. Memphis and UTEP could possibly get into the conversation if they both advance to the championship game. For now, we are projecting just the champion to make it into the tournament. The host Miners enjoy a large home court advantage and should top Tulsa in a thriller today.
#2 Western Michigan 67 #7 Bowling Green 56
#6 Akron 82 #3 Miami (O) 75 2ot
#1 Kent State 73 #8 Buffalo 62
#4 Ball State 76 #5 Ohio U 73 ot
#2 Western Michigan (20-11) vs. #6 Akron (21-12) 7 PM
#1 Kent State (22-10) vs. #4 Ball State (19-12) 9:30 PM
The MAC has been down in recent years, but the eventual champion of this tournament could be a formidable opponent as a number 13 or 14 seed for a better team in the first round.
M E A C—Winston-Salem, NC
#4 Morgan State 77 #5 North Carolina A&T 59
#6 Norfolk State 55 #3 Coppin State 53
#1 Bethune-Cookman (21-11) vs. #4 Morgan State (16-13) 6 PM
#2 Hampton (22-8) vs. #6 Norfolk State (12-19) Approx. 8:15 PM
These teams are playing for a probable spot in the First Four. The first semifinal will be a thriller; the top-seeded Wildcats face the three-time defending champion Bears.
Hampton has been a surprise team, and they should have an easier contest and be more rested for the championship.
Mountain West Conference—Las Vegas
#1 B Y U 64 #9 T C U 58
#5 New Mexico 67 #4 Colorado State 61
#2 San Diego State 64 #7 Utah 50
#3 U N L V 69 #6 Air Force 53
#1 B Y U (29-3) vs. #5 New Mexico (21-11) 9 PM CBS College
#2 San Diego State (30-2) vs. #3 U N L V (24-7) 11:30 PM CBS College
BYU, San Diego State, and UNLV are in. Colorado State played themselves into the NIT with the loss yesterday to New Mexico. As for the Lobos, with a third win over BYU today, they could get into the conversation, but they probably need to earn the automatic bid to go dancing.
Pac-10 Conference—Los Angeles
#1 Arizona 78 #9 Oregon State 69
#4 Southern Cal 70 #5 California 56
#7 Oregon 76 #2 U C L A 59
#3 Washington 89 #6 Washington State 87
#1 Arizona (26-6) vs. #4 Southern Cal (19-13) 9 PM Fox Sports
#3 Washington (21-10) vs. #7 Oregon (16-16) 11:30 PM Fox Sports
Arizona, UCLA, and Washington are in. Oregon must win this tournament to get in. As for Southern Cal, the Trojans might work their way into one of the final bubble spots with an upset over the top-seeded Wildcats tonight. Last night’s battle of the Evergreen State was one of the most exciting of the tournament season with the Huskies coming from behind to knock off arch-rival Washington State by two.
#4E Georgia 69 #5W Auburn 51
#3W Ole Miss 66 #6E South Carolina 55
#5E Tennessee 74 #4W Arkansas 68
#3E Vanderbilt 62 #6W L S U 50
#1W Alabama (21-10) vs. #4E Georgia (20-10) 1 PM
#2E Kentucky (22-8) vs. #3W Ole Miss (20-12) 3:30 PM
#1E Florida (24-6) vs. #5E Tennessee (19-13) 7:30 PM
#2W Mississippi State (17-13) vs. #3E Vanderbilt (22-9) 10 PM
Florida, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt are definitely in. Tennessee is probably in and would only be out if a lot of surprise winners win the remaining conference tournaments. The Vols would safely secure a spot with a win over the Gators.
The big game in all of college basketball today is the Georgia-Alabama game. Call this an extra play-in game. The winner survives to the Dance, while the loser will be hosting an NIT game next week.
Southland Conference—Katy, TX
#1 McNeese State 91 #4 Texas State 83
#7 UT-San Antonio 79 #3 Sam Houston State 70
Championship Game on Saturday
S W A C—Garland, TX
#4 Alabama State 81 #5 Alabama A&M 61
#6 Grambling 65 #3 Mississippi Valley 62
#2 Jackson State (17-14) vs. #6 Grambling (11-20) 3:30 PM
#1 Texas Southern (19-11) vs. #4 Alabama State (15-17) 9 PM
The Champion will probably be forced to play in the First Four. Jackson State is on a mission after losing in the first round last year as the number one seed.
W A C—Las Vegas
#8 San Jose State 74 #4 Idaho 68
#3 New Mexico State 66 #6 Nevada 60
#1 Utah State (28-3) vs. #8 San Jose State (17-14) 9 PM
#2 Boise State (19-11) vs. #3 New Mexico State (16-16) 11:30 PM ESPN2
Utah State is in and should be the higher seed in their first round game. If the Aggies are upset, then one more bubble will burst. The one WAC team that beat USU (Idaho) was knocked out of the conference tournament yesterday.