Final quartet of postseason tournaments begin

SONG SELECTION:

“The Song They Play Every Night”, by The Little Green Cars

Found on the Ephemera album, released March 11, 2016 via Glassnote Records.

American Athletic Conference

All games on ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPNEWS…check listings for more precise details.

First Round:

8. East Carolina vs. 9. South Florida, 3:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPNU

7. Central Florida vs. 10. Tulane, 6 p.m. on ESPNEWS

Quarterfinals on Friday:

8/9 winner to play 1. Temple at noon

4. Cincinnati vs. 5. UConn, 2 p.m. on ESPN2

7/10 winner to play 2. Houston, 7 p.m.

3. Tulsa vs. 6. Memphis, 9 p.m. on ESPN2

Semifinal games on Saturday afternoon, championship game on Sunday afternoon

Skinny:  Tons of bubble teams abound here, according to Joe Lunardi of ESPN and Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com.  Think of these games as mini tournament games for the Cincinnati/UConn and Tulsa/Memphis winners.  If I had more time, I would have been able to see that UConn and Tulsa’s resumes are very similar to that of Michigan, Monmouth, and Valparaiso.  But again, I am not on the Selection Committee…I am a superfan of the sport who is passionate about which teams deserve to earn a bid, as opposed to actually seeing their name being uttered by Greg Gumbel late on Sunday afternoon.  The school that has a lot to play for is Houston, kind of a helter skelter team since the holiday season ended.  If the Cougars falter, look for Tulsa or Temple to snatch the automatic bid come Sunday.

Big West Conference

All early round games online, championship game on Saturday night on ESPN2

First Round:

4. UCSB vs. 5. UC Davis, 3 p.m. Eastern

  1. Hawaii vs. 8. Cal State Fullerton, 5:30 p.m.

2. UC Irvine vs. 7. Cal Poly, 9 p.m.

3. Long Beach State vs. 6. UC Riverside, 11:30 p.m.

Skinny:  Hawaii can score anywhere on the court, while UC Irvine could again sneak up on people.  This one bid league is too close to call.

Sun Belt Conference

All games except the final game on Sunday online on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

First Round:

5. Georgia Southern vs. 8. South Alabama, 6 p.m. Eastern

Winner plays 4. Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday.

6. Georgia State vs. 7. Texas State, 8:30 p.m.

Winner plays 3. Texas-Arlington on Friday

Semifinals featuring top two seeds of Arkansas-Little Rock and UL-Monroe will play beginning on Saturday.

Championship game on Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN2.

Skinny:  Hopefully, there won’t be any coaches getting injured during the post-game celebration like Ron Hunter did last year when Georgia State surprised everyone in getting into the Round of 32 (second round).   But with his son now playing in the NBA, this one-bid league will probably come down to which team can shut down the prolific offenses of Texas-Arlington and Louisiana-Lafayette, who are coming into this tournament averaging 80.1 and 79.6 points per game, respectively.  And one team nobody is talking about is UALR, currently with a 27-4 overall record (17-3 during conference play) and a respectable RPI of 50.

Western Athletic Conference

All games in first two rounds are streamed online via their conference website, championship game on Saturday night on ESPN2.

First Round:

4. Utah Valley vs. 5. UMKC, 5 p.m. Eastern

Winner plays 1. New Mexico State on Friday.

2. California-Bakersfield vs. 7. Chicago State, 7:30 p.m.

3. Seattle vs. 6. Texas-Rio Grande Valley, 10 p.m.

Those two winners will play in the other semifinal on Friday.

Skinny:  This is New Mexico State’s tournament again to lose, as they feature the top scorer and rebounder in the WAC with 6’9″ sophomore forward Pascal Siakam.  Hailing from Douala (the largest city in Cameroon), he averages 20.7 ppg and 11.7 rebounds per game.  But this may also be a sad occasion for Chicago State University, as the Cougars may be playing in their final ever game.  Losers of 17 straight contests, not only interest is waning in the sport but according to some reports in February from the Chicago Tribune and WLS-ABC7 Eyewitness News, funding is drying up and administrators have been saying it may not be enough to keep the program alive.

That is it for now.  Next time I blog again will be if there any upsets that could impact the final group of at-large bids.  But your heart has to go out to Alex Olah and Tre Demps of Northwestern who played their final games for the Widcats at the Big Ten tournament on Thursday afternoon.  It was Olah who had the presence of mind to scoop up a rebound off a missed three in the waning seconds of regulation and promptly canned a soft eight foot jumper right before time expired, just as he was falling down sliding on his backside going past mid-court.  Chris Collins’ bunch led briefly by as many as three on a few occasions but sadly, Michigan stayed alive for at least more day thanks to a 15 foot jumper by Zak Irvin with six seconds left in the extra period.   Northwestern came very close to advancing, but falling valiantly 72-70 in overtime.  They await their tournament destination after finishing a very respectable 20-12 for the season, but finished ninth in a rugged Big Ten conference winning only eight of 18 games since January.

If there aren’t any upsets of major significance, the next blog will be sometime on Friday night so I could briefly mention all fourteen automatic bids which will take place on Saturday–and which TV channels will carry all of those games.

 

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