Sorry for the delay in posting this, but I was planning to post this on Monday, but I have been feeling under the weather and spent most of Monday sleeping (not exactly what I wanted to do on my day off, but there are worse things ☺) and Tuesday evening resting.
Here’s my recap of the bracket busters. I also am using a rating system on the impact of the games for the teams involved using a 1-4 scale, with 1 being minimal impact and 4 being significant.
Winthrop 77 Missouri State 66 – Winthrop gave one of the most impressive showings in the Bracket Buster Series by the Eagles, scoring 50 points in the second half on the road. Winthrop shot 51 percent from the field, including 14 of 27 from the three point arc. Simply put, from what I saw, the Eagles’ guards were too quick for the Bears. Michael Jenkins led the Eagles with 25 points on 8 of 14 shooting including 7 of 12 3 point FGs. The Eagles also did an excellent job holding Missouri State’s leading scorer, Blake Ahearn to 10 points.
Impact – Winthrop – 2.5. The Eagles really needed a signature win in front of a national audience who probably has never heard of them. They did exactly that in impressive fashion. Based on Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology, Winthrop is in as an at large, but I am not sure that win is enough to get them an at large bid and there are more deserving at large teams (see Applachian State below) But certainly at least the committee knows who they are now. Thankfully it’s a good bet that they will run through the Big South tournament and keep an at large bid open for some other team.
Impact – Missouri State – 3. The loss to Winthrop at home put Missouri State squarely on the bubble. With 10 losses and only one signature early season win against Wisconsin, the Bears are now fighting fellow conference team Bradley for an at large bid. Bracketology has them as one of the last teams in the tournament and rightly so. What keeps them in the hunt is their SOS is 30 with their RPI at 43 (update Missouri State won at Wichita State last night so that helps them a little).
Boise State 83 Albany 82. – Impact - 1 for both teams. Other than an entertaining game, not much to write home about in the post game analysis. Both teams need to win their conference tournaments to make the dance. Albany being in the weaker conference has the better chance.
Applachian State 60 Wichita State 58 - A very very entertaining game with an exciting ending as Applachian State and Wichita State traded 3 point plays (one the old fashioned way and the other a 3 point field goal) only to see DJ Thompson win the game at the buzzer for the Mountaineers. The game gave a national spotlight to the best sixth man in the country, Applachian State’s Donte Minter, who scored 19 points in 28 minutes off the bench. He has excellent post moves, can pass the ball (3 assists) and simply is a horse in the paint.
Impact – Applachian State -3. I am stating this right now; If the Mountaineers make the Southern Conference Final (hopefully against Davidson) and somehow do not win the final, they should be taken as an at large team. It would be criminal if that scenario played out and they weren't taken as an at large. I know their SOS is only 120, but that’s due to being in the weak Southern Conference. They have defeated Top 25 ranked Vanderbilt and Virginia in the same tournament, VCU at VCU and now Wichita State on the road as well. Yes, they have a bad loss to Elon (6-21 overall) but the good far outweighs the bad.
Impact – Wichita State – 1. The Shockers were basically done as an at large team before this game. This only reinforced it. Sad to see such a good 9-0 start become completely undone as the season progressed but their weak inside presence was highlighted by Minter’s solid play.
Hofstra 65, Holy Cross 64 – Another very entertaining game with minimal impact on the at large bid hopes. I was at the game as Hofstra again couldn’t put away a team and allowed Holy Cross to make up a late 8 point second half deficit that actually saw the Crusaders take a late lead only to have Carlos Rivera hit two free throws and block a possible game winning shot at the buzzer to lead the Pride to victory.
Impact – 1 for both teams. Neither team has at large bid hopes as Hofstra lost too many games early (plus a loss at Delaware which Iona won its second game at on Saturday – ugh) to be a factor. The game showed Hofstra’s strengths (three great guards) and their weaknesses (bad free throw shooting, non existent frontcourt). Holy Cross will have to beat Bucknell in the Patriot final to get into the tournament.
Southern Illinois 68 Butler 64. I taped this game and sooooo glad I did (I have to rehook up my Tivo – long story). This was a NCAA tournament quality game. It was that good. The replay of the entire game should be played for every college team in the country so they can watch what good ball movement, good defense and terrific hustle is all about. One play sticks out in my mind completely. Mike Green on Butler gets a loose ball in the Butler end and drives down the court for what looks to be an open layup. When he gets just past the top of the key, Jamaal Tatum comes flying out from nowhere to stop his progress. It was just amazing defense and typical of how the Salukis and the Bulldogs played. All you need to know is that a flu ridden AJ Graves tried his darndest to get open but the Salukis held him to 5 points. Really impressed with the way Randall Falker plays defense and Jamal Tatum and Matt Shaw had big games for the Salukis. Pete Campbell impressed me off the bench for the Bulldogs with his three point shooting. Amazing stat – Bulldogs only had 6 turnovers despite that amazing Saluki defense. I really honestly think both teams have an excellent chance of making the sweet 16
Impact – Southern Illinois 3 – They were in the tournament no matter what, but the win at Butler solidified a #3 seeding for the Salukis and showed the committee they are worthy of their ranking.
Impact – Butler – 2 – They were in the tournament no matter what as well. Their solid play probably kept them as no worse a #5 seeding, but the loss did hurt their seeding. Had they won, they would have been a solid #3 seed. Still, nothing to be ashamed of.
ODU 73- Toledo 70 – Impact – ODU – 2.5 , Toledo – 1. This was an important game for the Monarchs. They needed to come back from a 10 point second half deficit and win the game, otherwise the Monarchs’ hopes for an at large bid would have ended. Right now, they are certainly on the bubble, but with a RPI of 44, a SOS of 78, plus a huge win over Georgetown (by 13 at Georgetown) on their resume, it will be hard to keep them out if they make the CAA final. Toledo had no shot of an at large coming into the game so their hopes rest with winning the MAC tournament.
More Bracket Buster Recaps later today.