Old Dominion, Oakland both cruise in second half en route to Vegas 16 title game

Both semifinal games were very close at halftime

The pace of both games took on a different feel.

With the first semifinal on Tuesday night at Mandalay Bay Arena, Old Dominion and UC Santa Barbara were tied at 24 during the halftime break.  However, ODU proceeded to score the first 13 points in the first 8 minutes of the second half.  For the record, Old Dominion outscored the Gouchos  40-25 en route to a 64-49 win.  They were again led in scoring by Aaron Bacote with 26 points, while Trey Freeman had 18 off the bench.  Transition baskets and turnovers were the telling stats in this game, as ODU converted 14 UCSB turnovers into 19 points.  UCSB was not as fortunate, since they only managed to get two points off of only five miscues by Old Dominion’s rather steady offense.  The Gauchos were led in scoring by Michael Bryson who had 17, while Gabe Vincent had 13 points.

The second semifinal resembled a track meet in the opening minutes, as both teams shot the ball within the first 10 to 15 seconds of the shot clock.  The Oakland Golden Grizzlies led only by two, 39-37 at the break.  However, the last 18 minutes turned this close game into a rout.  Led by the guy who has the only triple-doubles in school history, Kay Felder got his second of his college career by getting a game high 29 points while grabbing 10 rebounds to go with 10 assists.  Max Hooper also was a lightning rod as he nailed 8 of 11 shots from long distance and he finished up with 28 points on the night as Oakland earned a spot in the title game on Wednesday night cruising past an undermanned squad from East Tennessee State 104-81.  Overall, Oakland was 19 of 22 from three-point land and finished the game 35 of 74 from the field (47.3 percent), while ETSU made only 30 of 68 attempts from the floor (44.1 percent).  East Tennessee State was led in scoring by Ge’Lawn Guyn with 16, while T.J. Cromer and Desonta Bradford finished with 15 points a piece.

First ever Vegas 16 title game on Wednesday night should be a good one

In spite of the fact that CBSSports.com is not reporting any of the scores on their website and all of the ESPN channels are not displaying the scores on their Bottom Line ticker, at least it has been a lot of fun listening to the radio calls from various schools.  The championship game begins around 10 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday night.

To listen to all of the action for free, go to iHeart Radio and look for 1130 AM, WDFN The Fan–aka Fox Sports Radio of Detroit.  If you wish to pay to listen to this game, search for the Multimedia link on the Old Dominion athletics page and it will give you all of the sign-up details you will need to access that game and other sports that are in-season.

Just before I call it a night, I wish to give a brief virtual shout-out to the Valparaiso University Crusaders on surviving a gutsy effort from Brigham Young and pulling out a close 72-70 victory in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden.  Their final opponent (Thursday night at 7 p.m. on ESPN) will be George Washington, who creamed Steve Fisher and San Diego State 65-46 in the nightcap.  For one time Valpo hero and head coach Bryce Drew, this was Valpo’s 30th win of the season which  already extended their own school record for wins in a season.  But with GW having played four times in Brooklyn this season, it already feels like a second home since they only had to travel 225 miles from Washington, DC to New York.

See you back late Wednesday night (as long as it does not storm by me) for a final wrap-up of what some people are calling the Vegas Ocho.

But before all that happens, I should be putting the finishing touches on my extensive Final Four preview.  Similar to what I did the last two years, I will salute each of the school’s strengths and zero on one of the coaches keys to success along with any intangibles that stand out.  Plus, I will highlight one X-factor for each school if they are to win the national title come Monday night.  Each team capsule will close with one historical nugget or key statistic to get your basketball appetite going a few days early.




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