Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mid-Major Madness, Part 1

Well it's finally February and that means that Madness in getting closer, especially for the smaller conferences. The Big South Conference and the Horizon League tip off their conference tournaments on March 1st to start almost two weeks of "Championship Week." With ESPN announcing the Bracket Buster match ups, it's a great time to start Mid-Major Madness. It's a four part series that points out some games that you will want to check out to see some mid-major teams before they surprise you in the Big Dance. Everyone knows the Big East is loaded, hell the experts say the whole conference should be in the NCAA Tournament. We've all watched Ohio St, Texas, and Kansas pummel folks. Now is when you find that George Mason, Northern Iowa, or Davidson team that is going to be this year's Cinderella. Here's 5 games worth checking out and why...

Wichita St (9-2) @ Indiana St (7-4)
This is a rematch of a 3 ot thriller 10 days ago. The Shockers, the pre-season pick the win the Valley, won and started Indiana St.'s current 3 game skid. Wichita St is a strong candidate for an at large bid in March with their only non conference losses to UConn and San Diego St. The over achieving Sycamores have already beat co-leader Missouri St and Northern Iowa.

Hofstra (8-3) @ George Mason (9-2)
The Colonial Athletic Association has 4 teams within 2 games of the conference lead. Hofstra is lead by Charles Jenkins who averages 23.3 ppg and he lit up George Mason for 32 in their last meeting, a 13 point win for the Pride. George Mason is riding a 7 game win streak in which the Patriots have by an average of 18 points.

Liberty (10-1) @ Coastal Carolina (11-0)
The top 2 teams in the Big South by a wide margin. Coastal Carolina won the first battle 70-67. The Chanticleers are one of the top shooting (49%) and scoring (79.4 ppg) teams in basketball. The Chanticleers have an 18 game winning streak and haven't lost since Georgetown defeated them way back on November 18th. John Brown stars at guard for the Flames averaging a double-double, and that's rebounds not assists.

Oakland (11-0) @ IUPUI (7-3)
Oakland could make some noise if they can avoid an upset in the Summit League tournament. The Golden Grizzlies are ranked in the top 10 in the NCAA in scoring (84 ppg) and shooting (49%) with one of the toughest schedules. They took on Purdue, Ohio St, Illinois, Michigan St, West Virginia, and Tennessee in non conference action so the Grizzles should be battle tested. The Jaguars have the leading scorer in the conference, forward Alex Smith and it fun to say IUPUI, pronounced oo-wee-poo-wee (at least by me).

Murray St (7-3) @ Austin Peay (8-3)
The Ohio Valley Conference race is a mess right now. Five teams are within a game of the lead and another is 2 back. Murray St was our pick to take the OVC crown after their run in last year's NCAA Tournament. Austin Peay boasts the league's leading scorer in TyShwan Edmonson at almost 19 ppg.

Other games....
Wed, Feb 2
San Diego St @ Colorado St
Thur, Feb 3
Wofford @ Charleston
Valparaiso @ Cleveland St
Belmont @ Jacksonville
Murray St @ Tennessee St
Fri, Feb 4
Iona @ Fairfield
Sat, Feb 5
Old Dominion @ George Mason
VCU @ James Madison
Buffalo @ Ball St

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