Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Conference Tournament Pool -- Wednesday Recap/Thursday Preview

Seven more tournaments started Wednesday. In all, 11 saw action. Robert Morris and Portland State punched their tickets to the dance, bringing the total number of crowned conference champs to 13. Ed still leads in total points, but Rob, Chris and others are close enough that he can’t get comfy just yet.

Oh, it’s just getting good…

Strangely, there are no title games today. Fifteen tournaments in action, but none resolved.

Anyway, live from New York, it’s Saturday Night. Or, more accurately, your daily pool summary:

Tough to call it a “thriller,” but the Robert Morris-Mount St. Mary’s final in the NEC went down to the final 2.5 seconds. A game that was 19-19 at the half finished 48-46 in favor of Robert Morris, which is headed to the NCAA Tournament as NEC champ. Chris Steve, Rob and Jon all had Robert Morris winning, but Steve’s bracket was the best – 10 points out of a possible 11, missing only Long Island’s loss to Quinnipiac in the first round – and so Steve pockets another dollar. If this keeps up, Steve won’t even have to pay his entry fee. Which is good. Because he hasn’t.

Portland State held off a very game Montana State squad to win the Big Sky and secure its spot in the Big Dance. As you may recall from yesterday’s update, nobody did anything worthwhile in this bracket, and the $1 prize is being split six ways between Sal, Steve, Nino, Rob, Ed and Yohan, each of whom got three points out of a possible nine. Nobody had Portland State winning the tournament.

Bethune-Cookman wrapped up the MEAC first round with a widely predicted victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore, and there were also two second-round games in the MEAC on Wednesday. Morgan State, the title pick of eight of the 12 of us, had no trouble with Florida A&M. But the other second-round game was a big one in our pool. South Carolina State edged Hampton 57-56. This is a relief for Ed and Jon, who picked South Carolina State to win the MEAC, and the four others picked them to make the final. It is a major bummer for Steve, who picked Hampton to win it all, and Greg and Rob, who picked Hampton to make it to the final.
The MEAC’s other two second-round games are today, with North Carolina A&T taking on Coppin State and Bethune-Cookman facing Norfolk State. To this point, Dan and Jon each have picked all five games correctly for a perfect MEAC score of 7 out of 7 points.

DePaul looked like it might make it an astounding two in a row before Providence asserted itself and advanced to a quarterfinal matchup with top-seeded Louisville. Other winners at a lackluster day at the Garden included Marquette easily over St. John’s, West Virginia over Notre Dame and the Orange Forces of Evil over Seton Hall. Quarterfinal matchups today include Louisville-Providence, Pitt-West Virginia, Marquette-Villanova and Connecticut-OFOE.
As noted in a separate e-mail each of you received, our Big East brackets are screwed up (completely my fault) and must be re-picked from this point on. I regret this very much, and I assure you that I feel much worse about it than any of you do.
So far, everybody’s champion is still alive and Greg, Chris and Rob each have scored 10 out of a possible 12 points.

The Western Athletic Conference took a day off and resumes today with its quarterfinals. Of the possible 19 points, 18 are still available in this one. Wide open.

Go back, look at everything I just wrote about the WAC, and apply it here. Except change the number “19” to “22.”

Chris, Nino and Greg picked all four winners in the first round of the A-10 tournament, but the only one who really got beaten up here was Yohan, who had UMass making it all the way to the final. Mass lost to Duquesne, and will not make the final. Top seeds Xavier, Rhode Island, Dayton and Temple join the field for today’s quarterfinal matchups.
Seven of us picked Xavier to win the A-10 tourney. Jim and Jon picked Dayton. Mark and Yohan picked Temple. Ed has Rhode Island.

There was only one game in the Mountain West on Wednesday. It was a play-in between Colorado State, which was 4-12 in the conference this year, and Air Force, which was 0-16. Of the 12 of us, 11 picked Colorado State. One picked Air Force, and you’re reading him. Small victories, people. Small victories. Comebacks have begun less impressively than this.
Or maybe they haven’t.
Anyway, the Falcons will go for two in a row against top-seeded BYU in one of four quarterfinal matchups today. Off we go….into the wild blue yonder….
Six people have Utah winning this tournament. Five have New Mexico. Greg picked BYU.

BIG 12
Rough day in this bracket, as a guy named Mike Singletary scored 43 points and willed Texas Tech to an upset victory over Texas A&M. Jon was the only one who picked this game correctly, and in fact four of us had A&M winning a second-round game, which now is not possible. Ed, Sal, Jim and Jon each got three of the four first-round games correct. Nobody got all four.
Oklahoma is the popular pick to win this, as nine of the 12 picked the Sooners. Dan, Greg and Steve all went with the defending national champs instead.

Rice beat Marshall 60-59, and all 12 of us got that game wrong. And I’m thinking, what a weird game to all agree on and all miss. It was a 7-10 game, so not a huge upset. What did we all see in Marshall? Was it the movie? Ian McShane in all those commercials for that new show, reminding us of his role in the Marshall movie? Possible.
Anyway, since nobody got all four first-round C-USA games right, Mark, Ed and Nino all lead with three. And this is the only conference in which we all picked the same champion – Memphis, which hasn’t lost a C-USA game in more than three years.

Two first-round games Wednesday. Top-seeded Alabama State beat Alabama A&M, and second-seeded Jackson State took out Texas Southern. All 12 of us got both of those games right. The SWAC bracket is our collective bitch.
Jackson State is the pick of 8 of the 12 of us to win the SWAC. Ed and Sal picked Alabama State. Jim and Jon picked Prairie View A&M, leading to the question: Is there another tournament that has two A&Ms?
The other two first-round games are today – Southern vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Prairie View A&M vs. Mississippi Valley State.

PAC 10
Stanford knocked out the President’s brother-in-law, and Washington State made it a bad all-around day in Oregon in the first round of the Pac-10. Today brings the top six teams in the league into the tournament. Eight of us have UCLA winning it all. Rob and Nino picked top-seeded Washington. Yohan has Cal and Jim has Arizona State.

Eighth-seeded UC-Davis beat fifth-seeded UC-Irvine by a point, and jumps over to the other side of this weird bracket to face third-seeded Pacific in today’s second round. That means UC-Santa Barbara gets UC-Fullerton, which took out UC-Riverside yesterday.
Sal, Jim and Greg got both of these games right. Dan, Rob and Chris missed both.
You’ll all get your new Big West brackets this morning. And then we’ll have to do them again tomorrow morning, when they re-seed again. Silly, but nothing wrong with doing it a little differently, I guess.

The ACC, SEC, Big Ten and Southland conferences all begin tournament play today – the last of the 30 conference tournaments to tip off. We still await brackets from Jim and Jon for these tournaments, so I can’t tell you who everybody picked. More on that tomorrow.

Meantime, your steaming-hot standings:

Ed Price: 174
Rob Biro: 166
Chris Sabatino: 166
Steve Politi: 164
Greg Lester: 164
Yohan Sengamalay: 162
Sal Sabatino: 162
Paul “Nino” Canino: 161
Jon Graziano: 158
Mark Feinsand: 145
Jim Graziano: 140
Dan Graziano: 139

MOST CHAMPIONS PICKED CORRECTLY (of a possible 13 so far)
Ed Price: 6
Chris Sabatino: 6
Sal Sabatino: 6
Jon Graziano: 5
Greg Lester: 5
Steve Politi: 5
Rob Biro: 4
Yohan Sengamalay: 3
Paul “Nino” Canino: 3
Mark Feinsand: 2
Jim Graziano: 1
Dan Graziano: 1

Ed Price: $2.66
Steve Politi: $2.66
Yohan Sengamalay: $2.16
Sal Sabatino: $1.66
Paul “Nino” Canino: $1.66
Mark Feinsand: $1.00
Greg Lester: $0.50
Chris Sabatino: $0.50
Rob Biro: $0.16

My quick count says there are 53 conference tournament games today. Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa. Wait. It can’t be Iowa. Iowa’s the 10-seed in the Big Ten. Nobody picked them. I’m so confused…

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