Neal To Keep Tabs On Mid-Major Tourneys
The Terps will have some time to kill during the day tomorrow. Their first round game doesn't start until 7 p.m., which leaves a little extra time to do any assortment of things.
For Dave Neal, there's a good chance that spare time will be spent in front of a television, eyes glued to games that wouldn't normally stand out. For instance, at noon tomorrow Xavier will take on either Saint Louis or La Salle in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament. Any of you plan on following that game closely? Neal probably will.
You see, Neal and the rest of the Terps want everything to go as planned in conference tournaments such as the Atlantic 10, which is to say they want the top seeds (like Xavier) to do what they're supposed to do -- win.
If Xavier does not claim the A-10 title and a team like Saint Louis or La Salle does, that would mean one less at-large bid will be up for grabs among bubble teams like Maryland. Xavier will receive a NCAA tournament bid whether it wins its conference tournament or not. Saint Louis and La Salle have no prayer of earning a NCAA tournament bid unless they depart Atlantic City wearing the conference crown.
"I'm doing a ton," Neal said of scoreboard watching. "These past couple of days I've been watching a lot of these conference championship games. Being one of those bubble teams, we kind of want all those mid-major teams to win their championships that are supposed to win 'em. We don't want anyone upset. So far, things have kind of gone in that direction."*
* Late last night, long after Neal made that last comment, Cleveland State defeated Butler, 57-54, in the Horizon League tournament championship. Butler, ranked No. 16 in the nation, will receive one of those at-large bids for which the bubble teams have been clamoring, while Cleveland State will take the Horizon League's automatic berth. Neal likely was not pleased with this outcome.
So does this mean you're actively rooting for certain teams in certain games?
"Yeah, definitely," Neal said. "Because as I said, we're a bubble team like a bunch of other teams and we want all those other No. 1 seeds from the mid-major conferences to win their conference championships because we don't want another team to get in that shouldn't get in."
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