Sunday, March 5, 2017

5-MAR Bracket Projection: Steve Pikiell Understands

I’m sorry to see Monmouth go.  Justin Robinson is a joy to watch.  Same for Hornbeak and Seaborn.  I think they were a victim of bad metrics last year, and while I expected they would be left out I hated the precedent.  Like many, I was hopeful they would make the trip this year.

They won’t, after losing today in the MAAC semifinals.  According to what I saw on twitter, America went in on the conference tournaments.  Similar to Stony Brook in past years when they ran up against Albany on a home court, Monmouth had a pseudo road game in Albany against Siena that proved to be too much to overcome.  Also, they were missing one of their top guys as Micah Seaborn didn’t play after injuring a knee against Niagara.  It’s a shame they are out, but…
That’s what this month is about.  We’re going to say goodbye to many deserving teams.  Teams that if not for one or two small things, could have written storybook seasons.  Vent if you need to, but this isn’t bad for the sport.  This wasn’t a surprise this weekend that the tournament would be in Albany.    One seeds are going to lose, but to repeat the mantra of this post if we restrict the one bid leagues to just their regular season champion, we’re eliminated some fun tournament teams from the last decade.  Will Iona or Siena capitalize in the NCAA Tournament?  No idea, but they’re just as capable. 

It’s why this month is fun.

Good luck to King Rice and Monmouth in the NIT.  I know it wasn’t the plan yesterday, but here’s hoping the make the most of it.

In other action, how about the Horizon?  You want a tournament that (by happenstance, sure) gives a #1 seed a pseudo home court advantage?  You got it.  And what do you have?  6 games, and the lesser seed won 5.  The only game that went to seed was the 4/5 matchup where Northern Kentucky prevailed.  They will now be seen as the favorite vs the 6 (Illinois Chicago), 9 (Youngstown State) and 10 (Milwaukee).

Three bids were secured today.  Florida Gulf coast bested North Florida in the Atlantic Sun.  Winthrop, who just barely eked out the #1 seed and home court advantage in the Big South over UNC Asheville, took care of business against Campbell.  Lastly, Wichita State will keep Jerry Palm sleepless tonight as they knocked off Illinois State.  ISU was in 85 of 109 brackets (again, not in mine), and it will be interesting to see that next update. 

The MEAC will begin tomorrow with half of their first round games.  North Carolina A&T has the most appearances of the group with 10, and would be a major surprise.  They are seeded last (12, as Savannah State will not participate), and just picked up their first/only Division I win a few days ago.  Three teams have never made the dance, two of which are participating.  Bethune Cookman (1980) and Maryland Eastern-Shore (1981) will be looking to make history for the first time. 

Also starting up tomorrow will the first round of the MAC tournament.  All twelve members have made it to the larger stage, including Buffalo who was done it twice in school history.  They just happen to be the last two years.  The Northwest Ohio schools will be trying to end two of the longest droughts in Division I.  Bowling Green hasn’t made it since 1968 (9th longest active streak), while Toledo hasn’t since 1980 (19th longest).  Those two will face off tomorrow in Toledo, with the winner advancing on to Cleveland.

Three more championship games are on the schedule Monday night.  We’ll see a team crowned in the Southern, Colonial and MAAC.

234 teams are still alive.

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