St. Joseph’s becomes second and final at-large bid thief

Considering all of the hardships that the Martelli family has gone through this past season, having the St. Joseph’s Hawks go on a run like this has been nothing short of remarkable–in this or any year.

Only four turnovers against the “Havoc” defense of Shaka Smart during the second half as St. Joseph’s won their first Atlantic 10 title since 1997 with a tense 65-61 win in Brooklyn.  It appears that not one, but two bubble teams will see their NCAA dreams slip away and be heading instead to the NIT (that draw takes place for the 32 team field on ESPNU starting at 8:30 p.m. Eastern for those interested in seeing teams continue to play at their own campuses).

This occurred a few minutes after a great back-and-forth game from New Orleans on ESPN2.

Rajun’ Cajuns dance for tenth time

Elfrid Payton (no relation to the early 1990’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers linebacker who led the Canadian Football League in sacks during the 1993 regular season) hit a two point basket as part of his 19 points which gave the Ragin’ Cajuns an 80-77 lead with less than a minute to go in overtime for the Sun Belt title.  But ex-Kentucky bench warmer Ryan Harrow kept the Georgia State Panthers dreams of reaching the NCAA’s for the first time since entering the Sun Belt Conference a few years back by dropping a game high 37 points to go along with 7 rebounds.  Also, head coach Ron Hunter was looking to appear again back at the Big Dance after leading IUPUI to its’ first tournament appearance a few years ago.
However, careless ball handling by the Panthers forced them to foul, as Louisiana-Lafayette finally made their free throws after going only 5 for 9 during regulation.  The 82-81 final sent the Rajun’ Cajuns back to the NCAA’s for the tenth time in the program’s history.

In Greensboro, Coach K of Duke got whistled for a technical foul for throwing violently to the ground a dry-erase pen…how funny!  But what was not funny was the all-around play of Jabari Parker, definitely in running for Freshman of the Year.  His monster dunk briefly put the Blue Devils ahead of Virginia 47-46 early in the second half.

But it was the play of Joe Harris that made the difference as Virginia stomped Duke 72-63 to win the ACC tournament title, the Cavaliers’ first since 1976.

In the final analysis, similar to what Miami went through in 2013 in winning both the ACC regular season and post-season titles, the Hurricanes were penned as a number 2 seed.  Virginia might fall in that same boat when the draw comes out in less than two hours.

Florida is leading Kentucky late in the first half in Atlanta, while Michigan State is giving Michigan again the real business leading 29-20 with under 8 minutes to go in the first half at Indianapolis.  Michigan is vying for that final number one seed along with two other schools, according to Ron Wellman, Men’s Division I Committee Chairman and Athletic Director at Wake Forest University.

See you all back here tonight for our final huge virtual class in Bracketology 401:  The full analysis of the brackets themselves, but more time will be spent on the middle seed pairings and where the potential lower seed upsets might come about.

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