Three more tickets punched -- North Dakota State, Western Kentucky and Cleveland Freaking State are going dancing. Also, things got started in the Big East, which is the conference that my blog was about before it was hijacked by this all-conference insanity. Maybe for that reason we'll spend a little extra time on the Big East in these updates. You know. For the fans.
At this writing, we are still inexplicably waiting for Jon to pick the tournaments that begin today. But we push on anyway, because why should those who are timely with their picks be punished because one person is so consistently right up against his deadlines?
Eight tournaments played Tuesday, including three that crowned champions and four that were just getting started. Three of those eight play today, as do eight others. Two more champions will be crowned. Seven tournaments play their first rounds today. Without further ado, here's your tourney-by-tourney rundown.
This was it. This was Dan's dollar. He may be bringing up the rear overall, but doggone it, his Horizon bracket was PERFECT through the semifinals. All he needed was a win by top-seeded and host Butler in the final, and he was getting this dollar.
But Cleveland State won. And Sal Sabatino, the only one who picked Cleveland State to win the Horizon, won the dollar with a score of 17 out of a possible 18 points. Dan drifted off into an angry sleep. The only good thing about this game was that they showed the highlight of Cleveland State's three-quarter-court buzzer beater against Syracuse from earlier in the year. And that's a thing you just can't see enough.
Top-seeded Western Kentucky held off a furious second-half run and defeated South Alabama to win the Sun Belt title and secure an NCAA berth. Eight people picked Western Kentucky to win this tournament (including Jim, for whom it was his first champion picked correctly), but Yohan Sengamalay had the best overall bracket with 20 out of a possible 23 Sun Belt points. A dollar for Yohan.
After two days off, the NEC will play its final tonight. Top-seeded Robert Morris faces second-seeded Mount St. Mary's in a game that will determine the league's bid and our pool's dollar. Jim and Greg both have perfect NEC brackets so far, and both picked Mount St. Mary's to win. So if the Mount wins, Jim and Greg split the buck. But if Robert Morris wins, Steve will win the buck all by himself.
This one's a real mess. Montana State continues to rampage through the Big Sky bracket, knocking off top seed Weber State and setting up a finals matchup against second-seeded Portland State. Everybody in our pool had either Montana or Weber State winning, and now that both have lost to Montana State, this one is over. Sal, Steve, Nino, Rob, Ed and Yohan all have scored 3 of a possible 9 points in the Big Sky bracket and will split the $1 prize six ways. Each will receive 16 cents. That leaves four cents left over, which will be applied toward postage for the purpose of mailing out a bunch of $2 and $3 checks.
North Dakota State wins a thriller of a final over Oakland, earning its first trip to the NCAA tournament (in its first year of eligibility). Dan, Sal, Chris, Steve, Rob and Ed all picked ND State (Dan's first correct champion!), but Steve and Ed had the best brackets, with scores of 10 out of a possible 11 points. So Steve and Ed split this dollar. Just two ways.
There were two first-round MEAC games Tuesday. Florida A&M beat Howard, and Hampton beat Delaware State. Dan, Steve, Rob and Jon all picked both of those games correctly, though the second result may be largest for Steve, who has Hampton winning this tournament. The MEAC continues today with a first-round game between Bethune-Cookman and Maryland-Eastern Shore as well as two second-round games: FAMU/Morgan State and Hampton/South Carolina State. The other two second-round games are tomorrow. Strange tournament. Anyway, eight of us have Morgan State winning this. Ed and Jon picked South Carolina State. Jim has Norfolk State, and Steve, as mentioned, has Hampton.
So DePaul goes 0-18 in the regular season, even suffering the ignominy of a loss to Georgetown to close it out Saturday, then shows up at the Garden for the first day of the tournament and beats Cincinnati. Kind of handily. Guess this is what they were saving it for.
Nobody picked that game correctly, and only two people had the foresight to predict St. John's's second victory in a week over the nation's most disappointing team. So the Big East brackets aren't too super so far. Steve and Mark each picked three of the four first-round games correctly. Eight others picked two, Ed got one and Jim went an impressive 0-for-4. But he can make up ground if Providence makes a run.
Pitt is the most popular pick to win this, as five people picked them. Four picked Connecticut. Sal picked Louisville, Steve picked Villanova and Feinsand picked....I can't even say it.
Big East second round games are today, with Marquette, Syracuse, Providence and West Virginia joining the field.
Just the play-in game yesterday, with Fresno State taking out Hawaii. Sal, Nino, Jim, Steve and Jon all nailed that one. For the overall WAC champ, seven people have Utah State and five have Nevada. I'll let you know if/when this one gets interesting. WAC second round game isn't until tomorrow.
Couple of first-round thrillers in the MAC. Akron, which is Yohan's pick to win it all, needed a buzzer-beating three by Anthony "Humpty" Hitchens to send the game into overtime and then another buzzer-beater at the end of OT to win by a point. And Kent State, which is Dan, Mark, Nino and Jim's pick to win it all, came from way back in the second half to beat Northern Illinois. Dan, Greg, Nino, Yohan, Ed, Steve and Rob all went 4-for-4 in the MAC first round, but it wasn't easy. Four people have Bowling Green winning this one. Four have Kent State, as previously mentioned. Chris and Steve picked Buffalo. Yohan has Akron, and Rob picked Miami, Oh. The MAC also takes a day off and picks up with its quarterfinals tomorrow.
The Atlantic 10, Mountain West, Big 12, Conference USA, SWAC, Pac-10 and Big West tournaments all begin today. I'd give previews, but again...Jon is slacking. So I can't say who everybody picked. We'll go over this tomorrow in what's sure to be the most lengthy post yet.
Meantime, some standings:
TOTAL POINTS THROUGH GAMES OF MARCH 10
Ed Price: 152
Yohan Sengamalay: 142
Steve Politi: 142
Rob Biro: 141
Greg Lester: 139
Chris Sabatino: 139
Sal Sabatino: 139
Paul "Nino" Canino: 136
Jon Graziano: 133
Mark Feinsand: 125
Jim Graziano: 121
Dan Graziano: 117
CHAMPIONS PICKED CORRECTLY (of a possible 11)
Ed Price: 6
Sal Sabatino: 6
Greg Lester: 5
Chris Sabatino: 5
Jon Graziano: 4
Steve Politi: 4
Yohan Sengamalay: 3
Rob Biro: 3
Paul "Nino" Canino: 3
Mark Feinsand: 2
Dan Graziano: 1
Jim Graziano: 1
Ed Price: $2.66
Yohan Sengamalay: $2.16
Sal Sabatino: $1.66
Paul "Nino" Canino: $1.66
Steve Politi: $1.66
Mark Feinsand: $1.00
Greg Lester: $0.50
Chris Sabatino: $0.50
Rob Biro: $0.16
Okay. Time to go watch the Hoyas........No. No, it's not.....