NCAA tournament 2011: Old Dominion wins CAA tournament, bubble teams relax
Some thoughts as the more premier conference tournaments begin to get underway:
1) We've seen utter chaos among mid-majors so far. Let's discount the West Coast Conference for a second because Gonzaga and St. Mary's were co-champs. Seven other automatic bids have been handed out so far, and only one conference tournament's No. 1 seed (Belmont) has received one. Some of the better mid-majors all season -- Fairfield, Charleston and Vermont -- are done.
2) Despite a valiant comeback effort by VCU, Old Dominion held on for a 70-65 win in the CAA title game. So Old Dominion will get the automatic berth and George Mason will earn one of 37 at-large berths. Both teams could be single-digit seeds in the NCAA tournament. And both could be dangerous given the right first-round matchups. VCU is not expected to earn a bid unless several other bubble teams fall hard this week. Had VCU won, it would have taken an at-large bid away from some bubble team. So those bubble teams can relax, at least for now.
3) Gonzaga knocked off St. Mary's in the WCC final out in Las Vegas. The question that I did not want to have to answer is what to do with St. Mary's now. This is a team that beat St. John's, but that was ages ago in mid-November. St. Mary's has just three top 100 wins. It also has a damaging loss to San Diego. The Gaels will be sweating it out on Selection Sunday. I'm going to keep them in for now. But it remains fluid.
4) For those who predict winners based on mascots, this is to inform you that the St. Peter's Peacocks will be playing in the NCAA tournament. The Peacocks beat Iona for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title, thus earning an unexpected automatic bid in the NCAA tournament. The crazy thing is that Iona had swept the regular season series with St. Peter's, winning both games by a combined 32 points.
5) I have circled the Horizon League title game as one that could shake things up. Butler is playing Milwaukee tonight for the automatic berth. You never count out Butler in March (or April), but Milwaukee has beaten Butler twice this season, and this game is at Milwaukee. If Butler loses, it could earn an at-large bid, but the Bulldogs are no sure thing. They have four top 50 wins, but three are over Cleveland State. The other is against Florida State when the Seminoles were at full strength. One of the problems is that ghastly loss at Youngstown State in February.
6) The Big East tournament kicks off at noon today with Connecticut and DePaul at the Garden. The Big East tournament will end in about three weeks. Georgetown will play the winner of that U-Conn.-DePaul game at noon Wednesday. If the Hoyas could not beat the Huskies with Chris Wright, can they beat them without him? Tall task.
7) The Big East is in very good shape to get a record 11 teams into the NCAA tournament. The one semi-questionable squad is Marquette. If they beat Providence today, they essentially lock up a bid.
| March 8, 2011; 8:30 AM ET
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Posted by: LurkerNowPoster | March 8, 2011 9:36 AM | Report abuse