We are now through eight days of conference tournaments, and if you couldn’t tell March is upon us. Here are some numbers to digest: There have been 30 upsets, 17 1-possession games and 6 overtime games (including 3 in championship games).
On the second day of tournament play the upsets came fast and furious in the Big South as both the #2 seed Coastal Carolina and #3 seed Campbell both fell in the quarterfinals.
Ironically enough the overtime fun began on March 1st. A 1-win Binghamton team defeated UMBC in an extra session 73-67 in the opening round of the America East tournament. The America East tournament drama continued in the semifinals as #2 Vermont was taken to the brink by #6 Hartford before getting the 77-73 win in double overtime. That game however was just the encore, as top-seeded Stony Brook battled #4 Albany for 39 minutes and 50 seconds, and then Dallis Joyner happened for Stony Brook.
On March 4th the Missouri Valley Championship between Creighton and Illinois State gave us what we have come to expect from the MVC, a thriller. Both teams
left everything on the floor as Antoine Young scored 8 of his 14 points in overtime and MVC Player of the Year Doug McDermott added a game high 33 to give Creighton the 83-79.
Sun Belt Conference quarterfinals took place in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was quite a day as three of the top 4 seeds (#1 Middle Tennessee State, #2 Arkansas-Little Rock and #4 Louisiana-Lafayette) fell by a total of 9 points. In the semifinals last night the #7 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers used 56% shooting from the field and 24 points from the free throw line in defeating #3 Denver.
Yesterday saw 4 conference titles awarded, in the Southern, Metro Atlantic, West Coast and Colonial. Those 4 games were decided by a total of 12 points.
Davidson survived a furious comeback by Western Carolina that saw the Catamounts erase a 10 point deficit with 2 minutes to play to force overtime. Clint Mann’s dunk with just over a minute to play in the 2nd overtime was the difference maker for Davidson.
In the Metro Atlantic, Loyola (MD) used an 11-1 run to open the 2nd half and pressing defense to hold Faifield scoreless for nearly 8 minutes beginning the 2nd half. The Greyhounds would go on to a 48-44 victory, giving Loyola its 2nd NCAA tournament berth in school history.
Virginia Commonwealth made a run to the final 4 last season, this year they led by 16 in the 2nd half of the CAA final over Drexel but saw that lead cut to one with 16 seconds left thanks to a 3-pointer by Drexel’s Chris Fouch. Troy Daniels then stepped to the line and sank 2 free throws to ice the win and send Shaka Smart’s Rams back to the NCAA Tournament.
For the better part of the last decade St. Mary’s and Gonzaga have been the cream of the crop in the West Coast Conference. Last night the 2 teams scratched, clawed and sweat for the conference tournament championship that went into overtime. It was the 15th straight title game appearance for Gonzaga and the 4th straight year St. Mary’s was their opponent. In the end St. Mary’s got the win with a 78-74 win, behind 22 points from Matthew Dellavedova. But this game was about 2 really good teams who took it to each other for 45 minutes.
All of this in eight days, and we still have six more to get through before the brackets are unveiled. Yes it is March, and does it get any better?