Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Conference Tournament Pool -- Saturday Recap and Sunday Preview

Sorry if this is a little late, but like most of you, I was up watching the incredible double-overtime final in the OVC, then flipped over to catch the end of Louisville-West Virginia, then over to a very entertaining Horizon semifinal between Cleveland State and Green Bay, then to the last 10 minutes of the Rider-St. Peter's MAAC quarterfinal game. Big day. Real nice Saturday, actually. Going to go to Home Depot. And then, if there's time, maybe Bed Bath and Beyond...oh wait. Sorry.

There were 12 tournaments in action Saturday, three of which crowned their champions. (Congratulations, Radford, Morehead State and East Tennessee State!!!!)

Seven of those 12, along with three others that didn't play Saturday, have games scheduled today. There will be one more NCAA bid awarded today, and we may give away some more prize money.

Here follows a conference-by-conference recap of all tournaments that played/play Saturday and/or Sunday. At the bottom of the recap, you'll find updated points and other standings. Enjoy.

Radford played it at VMI's pace and whipped 'em anyway, taking the Big South title 108-94 and earning the conference's automatic bid. Radford's title was correctly forecast by Chris Sabatino, Mark Feinsand and Steve Politi, though Feinsand's overall bracket wasn't as strong as the other two. Chris and Steve each scored 10 out of a possible 11 points in the Big South bracket, and since they picked the same champion, they will split the $1 prize and each take home a pair of quarters for their efforts. Mark's pick of Radford does help him in the race for Most Champions Picked Correctly, which carries a $10 prize.

Top-seeded Butler knocked off Wright State, and Cleveland State came back in the second half to beat second-seeded Green Bay, setting up a Butler/Cleveland State final that for some reason doesn't happen until Tuesday. Thus far, your humble commissioner has picked all eight Horizon League games correctly for a perfect score of 14 out of 14 so far. I also picked Butler to win the tournament, so if they do, I'll get the $1 for this tournament. (Which is cool, since a look at the standings indicates this is the only tournament in which I've demonstrated a clue.) HOWEVER, Sal Sabatino is right behind with 13 points and is the only one who picked Cleveland State to win this tournament. So if the Vikings win, Sal will take home the $1 Horizon League prize. See you Tuesday on this one.

Just an absolute classic in the OVC final, with Morehead State beating Austin Peay in double-overtime. If you didn't see it, that's a shame. It's kind of what this pool is all about. Morehead State heads to the tournament and Mark Feinsand, who scored 7 out of a possible 11 points in the OVC bracket, takes home the $1. None of the 12 of us picked Morehead State as champion. Mark basically won this because he was the only one who picked them to make the finals. Good job, Mark. EMB.

East Tennessee State whipped top-seeded Jacksonville 85-68 to take the A-Sun title and claim a spot in the NCAA Tournament. ETSU's title was correctly forecast by Steve Politi, Sal Sabatino and Jon Graziano. Steve and Sal each picked all six A-Sun games correctly for a total of 10 out of a possible 10 points. Jon missed only one game -- Campbell's first-round loss -- and therefore scored nine. So Steve and Sal, since they picked the same champion, split the $1 first prize and each win 50 cents.

The Patriot League tournament resumes today after a three-day break with semifinals featuring (1)American vs. (4)Army and (2)Holy Cross vs. (6)Colgate. Pretty much everybody's still in this one except Dan (who had (3)Navy) and Sal (who had (5)Lehigh). So enjoy. Today's winners play in the final on Friday night. Yeah, that's right. Three days off between the first two rounds and four days off between the second and third. Not into the nonstop excitement, so much, in the Patriot League.

The Sun Belt tournament also has had three days off, but it picks up in earnest today in Hot Springs with four quarterfinal games: (1)Western Kentucky/(9)FIU, (2)Arkansas-Little Rock/(7)Denver, (3)Troy/(6)South Alabama and (4)North Texas/(5)Middle Tennessee State. Everybody's champ is still alive here and everybody's still in it. This one's just getting started, but at least it plays its semifinals tomorrow and its final the day after that, like a real tournament. Freaking Patriot League...

Nine of the 12 of us had Creighton winning this tournament. Creighton lost to Illinois State by 24 points in Saturday's semifinals. Creighton will not be winning this tournament. Ed Price, who has missed only one MVC game so far and has 15 out of a possible 16 points, will win the MVC portion (and attendant $1 prize) of our pool. He has Northern Iowa winning the tournament, along with two other people. Nobody picked Illinois State. Ed and Jon Graziano were the only two to correctly forecast this final, but Jon is two points behind Ed because he missed on the second-round game between Creighton and Wichita State. So no matter who wins today's MVC final, Ed will have the most points. Nice job, Ed. EMB.

This one picks up after two days off with semifinal matchups: (1)Robert Morris/(5)Quinnipiac and (2)Mount St. Mary's/(3)Sacred Heart. Ed, Chris, Rob, Jim and Greg are all working on perfect NEC brackets, having picked all four quarterfinals correctly on Thursday. I'd tell you who everybody has winning it all, but Jon still hasn't made a pick. Come on, Jon. What the hell?

Big overtime upsets by Albany (over Vermont) and UMBC (over Boston U) have thrown this bracket into chaos. Jim Graziano, who was one of three people to correctly pick Hartford in the play-in game and (more importantly) the only person to pick UMBC to win any games, is in the lead with seven points. But like seven others, Jim had Vermont winning the tournament, so he's just about maxed out. Jim, Steve, Ed and Jon can all still win this one. Today's semifinals pit (1) Binghamton against (4) New Hampshire and (6) UMBC against (7) Albany.

Cinderella in the house, fellas! And no, that has nothing to do with Cinderfella Dana Dane, which is something totally different. We're talking about 11th-seeded Towson, which came into the CAA tournament with a 9-21 overall and a 5-13 mark in the conference but beat 6th-seeded Drexel in the first round and then, Saturday night, knocked off third-seeded Northeastern in the quarterfinals. They'll try to continue the run against second-seeded George Mason in today's semifinals, while Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion square off in the other. Steve, Chris, Nino and Rob each have scored 9 out of a possible 12 points so far. Steve's pulling for Old Dominion, Nino for VCU while Rob and Chris each picked George Mason to win. Jon picked Northeastern. Sorry, Jon. Looks like you get a straw hat while they get Kangols.

Let's real damage here so far, Jim and Greg each have 9 out of a possible 10 points, everybody's champ is alive, and there's some variety in the picks yet. Wide open, is the MAAC. Siena/Fairfield and Niagara/Rider today in the semis. The Niagara/Rider game will sort a few things out, I think.

Samford upsets Citadel in the quarters, which is kind of a big one since eight people had Citadel in the final and one (Nino!) had them winning it all. Remember, 10 of us had Davidson winning this thing, so it's not super-interesting. Ed Price has Chattanooga winning it all, so if that happens, obviously he'll take home a picture of George Washington. If Chattanooga beats Samford today and doesn't win the tournament, Yohan will win this pool. And if Samford wins today, Jim wins this pool. Don't ask. Just trust me. I'm spending a lot of time on this right now.

Santa Clara beat San Diego and Portland killed Pepperdine in Saturday's second-round games. Steve, Nino, Ed and Greg all have perfect 6-point WCC brackets so far. But it all comes down to what happens now that Gonzaga and St. Mary's get in. Gonzaga plays Santa Clara and St. Mary's plays Portland in today's semis. If Portland wins today, Steve and Ed will split the WCC dollar. If St. Mary's wins the tournament, I will get the dollar. And if Gonzaga beats St. Mary's in the final, Nino and Greg split the dollar. I'm telling you, these should see them.

I mean, ugly. Everybody had Montana winning the first-round game, and they lost to Montana State. Eight people had Idaho State winning the other game Saturday, and so they each picked up a point. But Montana, jeez. Six people had them making the final and Chris and Greg had them winning the whole thing. Letdown. Weber State faces Idaho State and Portland State takes on Montana State in the semis, which aren't until Tuesday. A quick look at my sheet makes me think either Yohan will win this thing (he picked PSU over ISU in the final) or it's going to be split about five ways (20 cents apiece!). We'll continue to monitor this and report back to you.

Just two first-round games Saturday. Everybody was right on North Dakota State and everybody was wrong on Oral Roberts, which lost in OT to South Dakota State. A more painful loss for some than others, though, as Jim, Jon and Yohan all had Oral Roberts cutting down the nets in Sioux Falls. The other two first-round Summit games are today, with Oakland playing IPFW and IUPUI playing Southern Utah. Lots of initials today.

Steve Politi: 86
Jon Graziano: 83
Ed Price: 81
Rob Biro: 79
Yohan Sengamalay: 79
Chris Sabatino: 79
Jim Graziano: 78
Paul "Nino" Canino: 77
Sal Sabatino: 76
Greg Lester: 76
Mark Feinsand: 75
Dan Graziano, the world's most generous pool commissioner: 67

Mark Feinsand: $1
Ed Price: $1
Steve Politi: $1
Chris Sabatino: $0.50
Sal Sabatino: $0.50

CHAMPIONS PICKED CORRECTLY (out of a possible 3)
Steve Politi: 2
Jon Graziano: 1
Mark Feinsand: 1
Chris Sabatino: 1
Sal Sabatino: 1

Enjoy the late sunset, everybody.

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