Weekend Winners and Losers But No Busters
The Bracketbuster weekend ended with as much fanfare as when it began - which wasn't much.
Butler Bulldogs seemed to have cemented a berth in the NCAA tournament by virtue of their 70-53 win over Siena, who really have no other option than to win their conference tournament.
Northern Iowa Panthers took care of business against Old Dominion, whose stock certainly would have risen with another big road win. Now, the Monarchs look as though they will need to win their conference tourney as well to guarantee a ticket to the big dance.
William and Mary Tribe got trounced by Iona, lots of home teams won, some conferences - like the Horizon, for example - showed how "down" they really are, and really not a lot of noise was made.
Wichita State was one of the few teams to have a shot at improving their tourney status but fell to Utah State by 10. It was the Aggies 12th win in row and improved their overall mark to 22-6. Stew Morrill is one of the most underrated coaches in the game as his teams always find a way to reload and compete in the WAC.
Conference games outside of the bracketbusters had much more appeal. Ohio State continued its charge to the top of the Big Ten by defeating Michigan State at East Lansing, to move one-half game behind Purdue.
Pittsburgh continued its march to the top of the Big East, winning their fifth straight game (four in conference) by beating Villa Nova, who suddenly doesn't seem like a number one seed.
The Florida Gators kept their tenuous hopes alive with a road win at Mississippi, while Marquette continued to improve its stock by winning at Cincinnati.
And, finally, the UTEP Miners maintained their one-game lead over Memphis with a big road win at Tulsa. The Miners improved to 11-1 in the competitive Conference USA, while Tulsa fell to a disappointing 8-5. Is it possible that more than one berth could be coming out of here?
The Dayton Flyers, pre-season picks by many to win the A-10, were dealt a blow to their tournament chances with a loss at Duquesne. The Flyers now sit at 7-5, 7th in the league.
Charlotte 49ers continued to fade as well, getting hammered by Xavier at home. What once might have been a 6-bid league is beginning to look more like a three-bid league. And hey, didn't anyone tell Rick Majerus that St. Louis was supposed to finish 10th this year?
After a very nice run, creating optimism and hope for the basketball program never before experienced at South Florida, the Bulls came crashing down to earth, getting pasted by St. John's at home. What slim chances the Bulls had for an NCAA experience are probably gone.
Small Conference Teams to Like
Wofford Terriers (Southern) - Winners of 14 of their last 15 games, the Terriers have played a decent non-conference schedule and are 21-8 overall. Potential three or four seeds beware.
Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers (Northeast) - Though they have a losing record (13-14), the Mountaineers have won eight straight after starting 2-6 in league play. They can't finish higher than 3rd but a home date with league-leader Robert Morris may suggest more about their NCAA aspirations.
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