The College Basketball Closer is written by the gang at Storming the Floor.
At STF we have a real soft spot for teams that haven't made the NCAA dance before. Especially a school like Sacred Heart, which totally sounds like it could have won the 1942 Championship with a crew-cut whitewash. But alas, the Pioneers have yet to achieve that pinnacle, and after losing to Mount St. Mary's last night, they won't be able to do it again this year. Which is too bad, because we totally get a kick out of seeing SH coach Dave Bike stalking the sidelines looking for all the world like Family Guy's Peter Griffin.
Ah well, we can't have it all this year, I suppose. But we'll always have Fairfield, Connecticut, and that sweet parquet floor.
Wednesday Tournament Results
NEC Final: Mount St. Mary's 68, Sacred Heart 55. MSM star Jeremy Goode had a relatively tame 13 point night, but who-dat Freshman guard Jean Cajou scored 15 to get the Mountaineers into the Big Dance again for the first time since legendary coach Jim Phelan (800+ wins) last escorted them there in 1999. Cajou first scored in double figures in February of this year, and didn't begin to do it consistently until the 21st of that month, which was the last time the Mounties lost a game.
Big Sky Final: Portland State 67-, Northern Arizona 51. Portland State and coach Ken Bone will make their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance this season, which is quite an accomplishment for a school that just reinstated the dormant basketball program 12 years ago. This was an unusual win, as Coach Bone brought star players Scott Morrison and Jeremiah Dominguez off the bench, paving the way for Deonte Huff to lead all scorers with 17 points.
Big East First Round: West Virginia 58, Providence 53. Junior forward Joe Alexander continued his recent hot streak, scoring 22 points to hold off the rampaging Friars of Providence. Over the final 7:00 of regulation, the WVU defense came on strong, limiting Providence to just two field goals during that stretch. The 'Eers move on to face UConn in today's matchup.
Big East First Round: Pitt 70, Cincinnati 64. The other half of the backyard brawl also survived and advanced yesterday, overcoming a 30-point night from Bearcat Deonta Vaughn. Pitt's starting lineup felt at home in the Garden, as three New York-bred Guards scored in double figures to join Sam Young, who had 21.
Pac-10 First Round: Arizona 87, Oregon State 56. The Wildcats took care of business in the first of a couple of games that they need to win to make the Dance. Arizona pounded the Beavers with 59 points in the first half, as interim Head Coach Kevin O'Neill starts auditioning for his next job. Next up: Stanford.
So let's recap: Mount St. Mary's, Ken Bone, Pounded the Beavers. Yep, it's going to be a fun tournament.
The Sun Yet Shines on Philadelphia. Conference tournament wins by St. Joe's, Villanova, and Balls State keep the City of Brotherly love from getting too ugly on Hump Day.
In With Auto-Bids: Cornell (Ivy), Winthrop (Big South), Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Austin Peay (Ohio Valley), Drake (Missouri Valley), George Mason (CAA), Siena (MAAC), San Diego (WCC), Davidson (SoCon), Oral Roberts (Summit), Western Kentucky (Sun Belt), Mount St. Mary's (NEC), Portland State (Big Sky)
I'll be back around 5pm with a Sean Connery-inspired Motivational Platitude from Joe K., as well as previews of the night's best tournament madness matchups.