Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week, late-night musings……..

It is 3:45am; I just finished writing the blog for today, then I hit the wrong button and deleted the whole damn thing. All of it. Not my finest hour. Let’s try again.

— So far, this has been a very strange Champ Week; the 15/16 seeds in the NCAA Tournament are going to be worse than usual.

— Big West tournament
Cal Poly 88, Long Beach State 68— Cal Poly had lost 18 games in a row; they went 1-18 in the Big West, Long Beach went 11-9, but the Mustangs made 11-22 on the arc in this game and won easily. Midway thru the second half, the TV analyst on ESPN+ said that the Long Beach players looked disinterested. Losses like this get coaches fired.

— Big Sky tournament
Northern Arizona 83, Montana 71— Lumberjacks started the season 7-21, but have now won five of their last six games, scoring 81+ points in their last five games. NAU is the #9-seed in a bad league, but they play #2-seed Montana State for the Big Sky title Wednesday night.

Montana State 60, Weber State 58, 2OT— This was a rock fight; 118 points in 50:00. In the last 20:00 of this game, a total of only 34 points were scored. Weber State’s best player shot 5-24 from the floor. Montana State’s two best guys played 49-44 minutes, now have to play again tonight for the conference championship.

— Atlantic 15 tourney
St Joe’s 72, Loyola Chi 67– Their last five years in the MVC, Loyola went 124-44, 69-21 in league games, but their administration got greedy and moved up to the A-15, where they went 10-21 this season, 4-14 in their new league. No bueno.

I’ve been saying this a lot; big fish, small pond. Winning is fun, losing sucks. Gonzaga wins a lot because they’ve stayed in the WCC, a small pond.

— CAA tourney
Charleston 63, NC-Wilmington 58— Cougars have now won ten games in a row; they’re 31-3 and played five sophomores, four seniors in this game. An odd combination. UNCW led this game by 8 with 6:13 left in this game; it looked like another top seed was going down, but Charleston survived and now advances to March for first time since 2018, second time since 1999.

Charleston has good depth, they defend well; they’ll be a tough out next week. 

— Horizon tourney
Northern Kentucky 63, Cleveland State 61— Norse are in NCAA’s for first time since 2019; they force turnovers 23.2% of time (#14). Their opponents’ average possession is 19.3 seconds, the longest possessions in the country. Northern Kentucky beat Cincinnati in November; they won’t be in awe of whoever they play next week. 

— Northeast tourney
Merrimack 67, Fairleigh Dickinson 66
Good news for Merrimack: They’re the NEC champs.
Bad news for Merrimack: They’re not eligible to play in the NCAA’s. This is only their 4th year in Division I, so Fairleigh Dickinson goes to the NCAA’s, even though they lost this game.

— Southland tourney
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 80, McNeese State 63
Northwestern State 74, New Orleans 70

Finally, a league where the tournament final is #1-seed vs #2-seed. Northwestern State is 22-10 despite being the #348 team on defensive boards. Corpus Christi is 22-10 despite being having the #262 eFG% defense. 

I think the winner avoids going to Dayton for a play-in game, because of all the other upsets.

— Summit tournament
Oral Roberts 92, North Dakota State 58— Oral Roberts has won 27 of its last 28 games; they’re experience team #26, continuity team #28, and will be a popular Cinderella pick when the brackets come out.

Oral Roberts starts four seniors and a junior; a very mature team. ORU made the Sweet 16 two years ago; can they do it again?

— WAC tournament
There were four WAC games Tuesday; underdogs covered all four games.

— WCC tournament
Gonzaga 77, Saint Mary’s 51— Gonzaga beats the Gaels in the finals of the WCC tournament for the fourth year in a row. Mark Few has coached Gonzaga for 24 years; he’s coached in the WCC finals all 24 years, which is pretty amazing.

Everyone has been saying the Zags aren’t as good this year, but you look and there they are, with the #1 eFG% in the whole damn country.

Like I said before, big fish, small pond is a lot of fun.

— From 2012-14, when Rick Pitino was coaching Louisville, they won three consecutive conference tournaments, two in the Big East, one in their only year in the AAC. 

Then Louisville moved to the ACC; since then, the Cardinals are 3-7 in conference tournament games- they went 4-28 this year, which is an amazing downfall for a proud program. 

— Last four years, #1-seeds are 9-7 ATS in first round NCAA Tournament games; those spreads are going to be a little higher than usual this time around.

— Baltimore Ravens placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on QB Lamar Jackson; he will make $32M next season, unless Jackson signs with another team in free agency. Should he sign an offer sheet from another organization, Baltimore will have five days to match it- if they match it, Jackson stays in Baltimore. 

If they don’t match the offer, the Ravens will get two first round draft picks in exchange.

— New Jersey Giants gave QB Daniel Jones a 4-year, $160M deal; Jones better buy coach Brian Daboll a new Ferrari every year for the rest of his life. This time last year, Jones was headed to the scrap heap; thanks to Daboll’s coaching, Jones is now really, really rich. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.