Monday, March 31, 2008

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Day one of the Major League Baseball season is all but complete. Pittsburgh is putting the finishing touches on a win in Atlanta, and the Astros and San Diego are playing in the NL, but otherwise its complete.

THE GOOD: There wasn't a better moment than Kosuke Fukudome's three-run homer at Wrigley to extend the Cubs and Brewers game. Fukudome had a great debut with 3 hits in 3 at-bats and the big bomb off of Eric Gagne. But it was all for nothing in the long run as the Brewers got a run in the tenth on Tony Gwynn's sacrifice fly.

The debut for Joe Torre in Los Angeles went about as perfect as it could have. Torre watched Brad Penny sail along and the Dodgers offense scored three in the first. Jeff Kent hit a homerun as LA beat the rival Giants 5-0.

The Royals may end up being the surprise team of the season. You heard it here first. KC has a lot of young position players and some decent young starters which could have them excited in the heart of America come August. They got a good come from behind win over a lot of folks favorite, Detroit and won it 5-4 in 11. Mark Grudzielanek had three hits and Alex Gordon had a homer that started the rally.

THE BAD: The Phillies pitching staff surrendered 11 runs, including five in the ninth as the Nationals moved to 2-0. Tom Gordon got shelled in the ninth and now sports a 135.00 ERA. Saul Rivera who notched six outs on Sunday night, earned the win for the Nats. Lastings Milledge had a pair of hits including his first homer of the season.

Eric Gagne maybe 1-0 but he looked awful in Chicago. Not only couldn't he close the win out for the Brewers, he looked awful. His pants are about 8 sizes too big, which means they must be like a 48 waist, and a 56 inseam. Then his goggles were fogged, and his beard is a mess. Oh, and did we mention, that Fukudome took him deep. But he got the win.

THE UGLY: The weather cost us two games and there were delays everywhere. It didn't feel like opening day at other places. Still, it is March and they are playing baseball. They even got a game in, in Cleveland where the Indians scored 7 in the second and still had to score three in their last at-bat to beat the White Sox 10-8.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Thanks for the Memories....Jason Loughry

The fans behind me at the games will have to find someone new to pick on. The big 7-foot center from Archbishop Spalding played his final game with the Mount, when the Mounties fell in their first-round game of the NCAA tournament to North Carolina.

The truth is statistically Loughry won't be missed too much. During the Mount's run to the NEC title, the big guy rarely got off the bench. He spent much of his career there and never was a fixture in Milan Brown's lineup.

Still, I for one am going to miss the big guy. Because despite the fact that he didn't play much, we never saw Jason sulk about it. Instead, he supported his teammates and he tried his best when he got in the game. He had a little soft jump shot and some touch around the rim, but his ability never caught up with his size.

Congratulations Jason Loughry on being a Mountaineer for four years and being a part of the 2008 NEC champions.

Live Blog: Nationals Park Opener

The season begins stateside tonight at the brand new ballpark in downtown DC. The Atlanta Braves visit the Nationals. It could be a long year in DC, but all are excited tonight. And with good reason. Let's talk baseball.

2008 Predictions

We realize that there were two games played overseas early last week. We also realize that DirecTV lost the ESPN2 satellite signal and we didn't get to watch the first game. But we're sure you'll accept our picks right now, as preseason predictions. Forgive me if I select Stephen Curry as the AL ROY or MVP or something, but I'm watching the Midwest Regional final as I type this. (By the way that Blue print on the Black Baseline is worthless.)

So here goes
AL East

New York
Tampa Bay

AL Central
Kansas City

AL West
Los Angeles

Wild Card: Seattle
AL Champion: Detroit

NL East
New York

NL Central
St Louis

NL West
Los Angeles
San Diego
San Fran

Wild Card: Chicago
NL Champion: Colorado

World Series: Detroit over Colorado

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
NL MVP: Matt Holliday
AL CY Young: Eric Bedard
NL CY Young: Jake Peavy
AL Rookie of Year: Evan Longoria
NL Rookie of Year: Chase Headley
AL Home Run: Alex Rodriguez
NL Home Run: Ryan Howard
AL Batting Champ: Carl Crawford
NL Batting Champ: Matt Holliday
AL Comeback: Vernon Wells
NL Comeback: Andruw Jones
AL Breakout: Adam Jones
NL Breakout: Yunel Escobar
AL Breakout Pitcher: Dustin McGowan
NL Breakout Pitcher: Chad Billingsley

Looking forward to a great season. Baseball is a marathon. Nats and Braves in less than an hour.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Orioles can't catch a break

Jay Gibbons 15-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Anti-Drug Policy was supposed to begin Monday. The same day that the Orioles are to open the 2008 season. A season that most pundits are saying will see the Orioles finish with more losses than wins for the 11th straight season.

Gibbons hit 26 homers as recently as 2005 and drove in 100 runs in 2003. Those type of numbers earned him a fair contract. One that is due to pay him $11.9 million over the remaining two years of the deal. But his numbers have dropped off dramatically in recent seasons. He's left the yard just 19 times in the last two seasons combined. He hit .230 and drove in 28 runs last season.

Now Gibbons' suspension has been delayed. Perhaps even cancelled. Part of the Major League and its players new tougher drug policy which they'd like to announce by the time Nationals Park opens on Sunday Night is for amnesty for all previous drug users. That would include Gibbons, and Kansas City outfielder Jose Guillen. But since the policy hasn't been officially enacted, MLB decided to put the suspension on hold.

That complicates matters for the Orioles. The Oriole brass was planning on using Gibbons spot on the roster to further evaluate Scott Moore during the season's opening days. Moore, a former first round pick of the Tigers, was picked up in a deal with the Cubs near the end of last season. He has some versality, and some pop in his bat. Both of which Gibbons seems to lack at the moment.

But now the Orioles much choose between the two.

Many figure that Gibbons will ultimately get the call. Afterall, they argue, the Orioles don't want to waste the $11.9 million they are paying Gibbons over the next two seasons. And they would still owe him whether he's with the team or not. Folks, the money is already wasted. Sure they can get something out of Gibbons the next two seasons. But it won't be much.

Something has changed. He's no longer the budding power hitter. Maybe it was all the money. Maybe it was his recent marriage. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the performance enhancing drugs that were enhancing his performance. Either way the performance is no longer enhanced.

So the Orioles are faced with a decision. And its not an easy one. They can pay Gibbons the 11.9 million and let him further clog up the lineup, and hope that maybe he returns to form. Or they can pay Moore an additional 770,000 (the MLB minimum over the next two years), while still paying Gibbons. Neither player is likely to perform at a level near 6 million a season.

The argument is out there that the move would cost them the money owed to Gibbons. Not true. Offering him that deal cost them that money. Getting rid of him only costs them the salary of his replacement. And of course the fear that Gibbons resurrects his career somewhere else, while you are still paying him.

The bottom line for me is that Moore is the most likely to perform. The 11.9 is already spent. The Orioles need to decide if Moore is going to outperform and be more productive than Gibbons. Then they need to decide if it's worth spending an additional league minimum salary (pocket change in the economy of baseball) over the next seasons and cut ties with Gibbons.

Maybe it isn't such a touch decision. So long, Jay Gibbons.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Are you Serious?

That's what I said when I saw this.

I didn't remember it as such a big play in the game, but it really did ignite the Mount that night didn't it.

I let it run a little bit too long, but I'll get better. I hope.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Random Thoughts from all over the Sports World

Trying to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time....

I saw where the players and the owners might announce a tougher stronger policy on steroids and drug use in baseball. I'm all for that. Wouldn't be surprised if it also gives the players a chance to come clean and admit past wrongdoing and they won't be punished for that. That makes it possible that guys like Jay Gibbons and Jose Guillen and the like, who are supposed to start the season suspended, wouldn't have to serve the suspension. But I think all future positive tests, plus any player who didn't fess up to past issues, would face some severe penalties.

Anybody care about Canseco's allegations regarding ARod. All I really care about is whether or not he was succesful in his pursuit of Mrs. Canseco. And whether or not ARod's pursuit came before or after Mrs. Canseco and Mrs. Clemens displayed their goods at the Canseco's party that Mr. Clemens did not attend.

Guess things are finally settling down in Emmitsburg. Great run for the Mount, and now we're already looking ahead. I'm interested who the Mount may play next year. This year's schedule was overloaded with home games, and I fear that November/December next year may put the team on the road too much. You'd expect they have return games at American, at Lafayette and a road trip to Lasalle to complete the three-year agreement. Plus the annual rivalry game with Loyola will be in Baltimore next year. On the other side of the coin, I expect we can see Navy at the ARCC for an early season game. But the rest of the schedule would be guess work at this point. Quite possibly with the Mount's solid play at the end of the season, they can draw into one of the exempt tournaments, but that isn't likely to bring any home games. I'm sure there will be some BCS conference opponents as well (money games as they are referred to) but those will be on the road. I think they have three they could replace from last year. UTEP, was rumored to want to play the Mount a year ago, but not sure if there is still an invite. That of course wouldn't be a BCS school, but would be a money game. I think that would leave them with three home and home series to be scheduled. I like the idea of one of those being from the Colonial Conference - and might we suggest Delaware, and one from the America East - Stony Brook would be a good team to get to come to the Mount and travel there next year, and then I'd love to see the Mount continue to play a top teams from a mid-major conference. So if they play at UTEP, why not schedule a trip to Stephen F. Austin while they are at it and have SFA return the trip the following year - or maybe schedule a trip to Washington or Washington State and play Portland State (another #16 seed) while you are out west.

I think that would give the Mount a chance to win most of its non-conference games and have a respectable record and maintain a decent RPI as well. This is going to be key if the Mount wants to return to the tournament as something other than a 16 seed.

Speaking of doing well in the tournament. Remember when we told you Xavier would crush your bracket if you ignored them in March. We told you they had the perfect team to make the second weekend. Well now we go one more weekend and say they play in the Final Four. Actually, we said the championship game. But Kansas is still our winner.

133 days til the Summer Olympiad. We are big fans of the games. Belgium is talking about boycotting. They will be missed. Never saw a Belgium beach volleyballer.

Speaking of international sports. Is it really an upset when the US soccer team wins in Poland. Sure the Poles qualifed for the Euro Championship, but is it really an upset. Winning at Wembley in May over non-qualifier England may qualify as an upset, but I expect us to beat Poland.

So are you enjoying the Major League Baseball season. Two decent games in Japan. But now this break. Then the Braves and Nats play that one-game series Sunday night to open Nationals Park. Going to have to get there this year. Maybe we should have a FanBlog night at the Park this summer. Anyone interested? If too many folks want to come, we might have to go to Camden Yards, where I'm sure we can get seats.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blog Keeping

My time is very short at the moment. Until the middle of April, there aren't going to be a whole lot of posts.

Some things I'd like to accomplish in the next few weeks. I'd like to write a recap of the Mount's run, and take a look at the future.

I'd also like to write something about the Orange and their NIT push and the future there. Maybe even take a look at spring football.

Also, the Orioles and a preview there.

Drop me a line, tell me what you like or didn't like about the basketball coverage. Remind me that my champion and runner-up (Kansas and Xavier) are still alive. The email is

Friday, March 21, 2008

North Carolina way too Much for Mount

You always dream that it will be different.

You hold out hope that your team will be the team that becomes the first #16 seed to ever win a first round NCAA game. But it wasn't to be for the Mount. They ran into a team in North Carolina that was just flat out better and played pretty close to the top of their game on Friday night in Raleigh. The end result wasn't pretty.

But the Mount to its credit played hard and battled to the end. The top-ranked Tar Heels were just bigger, quicker, stronger, and better. There was no shame in this defeat. Sure there were mistakes that were made, rebounds that should have been made, passes that shouldn't, jump shots that shouldn't have been taken, and layups that could have gone in. But if you're the Mount or a fan as I am, you can hold your head high tonight.

The senior Chris Vann led the Mountaineers with 16 points, while Jeremy Goode had 15 and 5 assists. Jean Cajou and Kelly Beidler were also in double digits with 13 and 10 respectively.

The last six weeks were some of the greatest in the history of Mount basketball and despite some of the disappointment that is being felt tonight, that should be the focus. The future of Mount Saint Mary's basketball is bright. For tonight they got to take a swing at the big boy. It was a glorious run getting and an admirable effort tonight.

Let's Go Dancing

The Big Day is upon us. The wait is over. The game is about to begin. The challenge is monumental.

Who Plays?: #16 seed Mt. St. Mary's (19-14) vs #1 seed North Carolina (32-2)

What's at Stake?: The simple answer is this... a berth in the second round of the NCAA tournament. But we know it's more than that. For the Mount, it's a chance to gain instaneous national recognition and produce a tournament memory that will be replayed for so many years to come. For the Heels, it's game one on what is supposed to be a six-game trek to a championship.

When is tipoff?: Friday at 7:10pm EST.

Where are the proceedings?: The game is being played in the Tar Heels backyard in Raleigh, North Carolina at the RBC Center. The game is part of CBS' regional broadcast tonight, but will not be broadcast by the Harrisburg affialiate WHP-TV. For those of you in the rest of the country, check your local listings. Other options include streaming video or Mega March Madness PPV package on DIRECTv or of course your favorite local watering hole, maybe carrying the game.

How did we get here?: The Mount qualifed for the NCAA tournament by winning the NEC tournament just over a week ago at Sacred Heart. Then the Mount defeated Coppin State in the NCAA Tournament Opening Round game Tuesday night in Dayton. The Mounties have won 9 of their last ten games. Carolina officially qualifed for the tournament by winning the ACC Tournament last Sunday in Charlotte with a win over Clemson. However, being recognized as the top team in the top team in the land probably didn't hurt their at-large chances.

The Analysis: The odds facing the Mountaineers tonight are extremely large. No #1 seed has ever fallen in the NCAA's first round, since the field was expanded to 64. It's a lot of games. The Mount has twice lost in the first round as a #16 seed. The Las Vegas line has North Carolina favored by 25 points.

Advantages for North Carolina: Oh, where to begin. If we just go back to the legendary head coach Jim Phelan's comments before his Mountaineers played Kentucky in the NCAA first round in 1995, we probably have it best summarized. At the NCAA press conference that week, Phelan said something along the lines of "Well Kentucky has 12 McDonald's All-Americans, and I have 12 guys who eat at McDonald's." Substitute North Carolina for Kentucky and you've got the story. Or you can reflect back on Milan Brown's interview with Erin Andrews after the Coppin State win (and try to actually listen to what the good coach said), "He (Roy Williams) probably has a few more bullets in the holster than I do." Yeah, probably. Plus in this neutral site game there might be more Carolina Blue than Mountaineer Blue in the stands. Commute time from the Chapel Hill campus to the Arena is about 36 minutes per Mapquest.

Advantages for Mt. St. Mary's: This paragraph might not be as long. The Mount is playing well, and might not really be a typical #16 seed. Because, it is still my belief that this Mountaineer team with this group of players playing this style of offense would have won three or four more games during the regular season. So if you'd shift them from 18-14 to 22-10, it might have been enough to get them a #15 seed. Let's remember that the Mountaineers did beat #13 seeded Winthrop and #15 UMBC (although that was a preseason scrimmage). So, maybe they are better than most #16's. But they said that about Portland State yesterday and that didn't really work out very well.

What to Expect: I don't think the Mount will have an answer for Tyler Hansborough. The A-A is too big and strong inside. It could lead to foul trouble for the Mount's interior trio and that could make things worse. The other question is how the UNC athletes of bigger size will defend the Mount on the perimiter. The Mount played two BCS teams this year (Oklahoma and Oregon) and when the big schools wanted to clamp down the defense they did and went on big runs to essentially win the game. In the end, Carolina is too good. This great run for the Mount most likely ends tonight. I'm a homer, so I'm going to keep it semi-close and say 80-64 Carolina Blue.

Stuff only the FanBlog can bring you: I recall the last time the Mount played on March 21. It was in 1981 and it was for the National Championship. I turned 8 that day and the Mount battled Florida Southern in Springfield, Massachusetts for the Division II title. In the end, the Mocassins won 62-57 and I cried and cried and cried. That was the first year that I really became a Mount fan. I don't think they've played on my birthday since, and although I'd love a win as a gift, the fact that this team has accomplished so much already is a gift enough.

I think the Mount is 1-0 against the reigning ACC champs. You may recall Jeff Balistrere's layin at the OMNI to beat Georgia Tech several years ago when the Jackets wore the crown.

Connect the dots and holding out hope. The Mount beat Robert Morris in the NEC playoffs handily. Robert Morris lost by six in the NIT to Syracuse. Syracuse throttled Maryland last night. Anybody remember who Carolina has lost to this year.

Tonight is a night to celebrate all things good about the Mount. I took a few classes there, and I've been a good Mount fan for a long time. Way back to my 8th birthday. But the Mount community on and off the basketball court has shown me in the last few weeks what a great community it is. The basketball team has done a great job in the public eye of representing that community, and the students and fans who have made the trips to watch the teams play have done the same to show the spirit of the Mount. I'm sort of fringe member of that community, but with everything that has gone on recently, I'm proud to say that tonight, win or lose, I'm rooting for Mt. St. Mary's.

Go Mount!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

On to Raleigh

Talked to so many great Mount fans last night after the win. What a great win it was.

I still hold onto the belief that the Play-In game should be eliminated or at least modified. Two teams that win their conference tournaments shouldn't have to do anything more to get in the main bracket. But when you win, you like it a little more.

Jeremy Goode continues to impress me. He just does things that makes everyone better. Clearly he was the best player on the floor. He deserves the homecoming and the right to play against his childhood team, the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Great defensive adjustment by the Mount staff at halftime. To jump the ball up top off the screen was huge and made a big impact.

Never felt more comfortable down one at the half than I did last night. I figured Coppin wouldn't continue to play so well, wouldn't make as many shots in the second half and the score would end up close to my projected 73-61. At 69-60, I didn't miss the mark by much.

Kelly Beidler was an animal on the glass. It's easier to rebound wearing one of those big numbers. Tough to remember a kid that size with that much athletic ability wearing the dark blue and white.

Although Shawn Atupem is a little bigger and pretty athletic. That dunk was a "One Shining Moment" type dunk.

The Mount got open looks and didn't make them. First time that has happened in awhile. Big three though by Will Holland to start the second half which really set the stage for what was to come.

Heard a lot of complaints about the announcing crew. Well none about Erin Andrews. But a lot about Musberger and Lavin, because they really didn't know there was a game going on. But my thought on this was simple. They said Jim Phelan should be in the Hall of Fame. So I excuse them for everything else. We all know he should be, but it means a lot more when Lavin and Musberger say it than when I say it.

Andrews by the way is hot. She's like a 9.5 out of 10. Then she opens her mouth starts talking about sports and you realize she's a 12.

Big time announcers in Raleigh as well. Jim Nantz and Billy Packer with the call. I still haven't heard from the fine folks at the Harrisburg CBS affiliate. But they may force me to watch the game elsewhere.

Good to see Chris Vann have a great night. And a fine piece by Kyle Whelliston over at about Vann and his friendship with Dustin Bauer.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Jim Phelan

On the eve of the Old Coach's birthday, Mt. St. Mary's advanced to the first round of the NCAA tournament with an opening round 69-60 win over Coppin State.

The Mount won for the first time in the NCAA Division I Tournament, and for the first time this season when trailing at the half. The Mount erased a 34-33 deficit with a quick 6-0 burst out of the gates in the second half and will play #1 North Carolina on March 21st in Raleigh.

Jeremy Goode was the best player on the floor and led the Mount with 21 points and 5 assists. Fellow sophomore Kelly Beidler was a monster on the boards and finished with 15 caroms. The senior Chris Vann had a solid night with 13 points, and freshman Shawn Atupem finished with 10, including a ferocious dunk on the rebound of a missed shot.

It's late, I've got to get to bed. But a great win for all Mountaineers tonight. Now it's on to Raleigh and a chance to dance with Cinderella.

If you're too pumped to work this afternoon

A few good reads for the afternoon before tipoff...,0,2549031.column,0,6039755.column

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hoppin for Coppin

It might not make sense that the Mount is in the play-in. But that is where they are. And as Milan Brown has said, the Mount just wants to keep playing. So now the Mount must buckle down and take on Coppin State from Dayton Ohio.

Who plays?: MEAC champion Coppin State (#16) takes on Northeast Champion Mt. St. Mary's (#16)

What's at Stake: The winner knows that #1 North Carolina and a trip to Raleigh awaits. So the reality is that the Cinderella story continues for a few more days after this game. But getting into the full bracket will serve as motivation. Plus both teams want to validate their conference tournament championships. The Mount also has the chance to show that the RPI strength of the NEC, at 23 - its highest rating in quite some time, was warranted.

When is tipoff: Tuesday night at 7:37 precisely.

Where are the proceedings: Truly they ought to be playing this downtown at the Baltimore Arena. With two schools only 40 miles or so apart it would make sense to play it somewhere closer to home. But the game was scheduled long ago for the Dayton Arena on the campus of the University of Dayton. If you can't catch a flight out of BWI, try ESPN, they'll have the broadcast. And if there is one reason you want to be in the play-in, well it's Erin Andrews and she is in the house for the game. Some guys named Musberger and Lavin will provide the play-by-play and color commentary.

How did we get here: Both teams had great finishes to the season. The Mount turned a mediocre season into a fantastic February and March. After a home loss to Sacred Heart, the Mount changed its offensive philosophy and started scoring some points. It worked the Mount got hot and has won 8 of its last 9, including three straight in the NEC tournament. The Mount beat Quinnipiac, regular season Robert Morris and Sacred Heart for the title. Coppin State had won just two games against Division I opponents before the shortest month of the year. But the Eagles also got hot at the right time. It has won 13 of 14 games, including four straight in the MEAC tourney to land here. Coppin beat Morgan State at the buzzer to win the crown.

The Analysis: The Mount has beaten better teams than Coppin State this year, but the Eagles have played more real good teams. The Mount has been listed as a touchdown favorite.

Advantages for Coppin State: The Eagles haven't had to sit very long since winning the MEAC title on Saturday night in Raleigh. So the momentum is there for the Eagles. Plus they are hotter than the aforementioned Erin Andrews right now. Although these schools haven't played since both went to Division I in the 80's the fact that they are close together gives them familiarty. Plus we know Fang Mitchell knows how to get his team ready for tournament games. He won an NCAA game as a #15 seed a few years ago over South Carolina.

Advantages for Mt. St. Mary's: The uptempo style offense has made the Mount more efficient. Since turning Jeremy Goode loose the Mount has scored more than a point a possession. Even in the NEC final when the offense looked spotty, they produced. The key has been the balance and the fact that there is not a reliance on a small group of players. All eight players who saw time in the NEC tournament have contributed. The shooting streak of Jean Cajou has been simply amazing, and Kelly Beidler scored 15 in each of the NEC games. But the team has gotten solid contributions from the Atupem brothers, Chris Vann, Markus Mitchell and Will Holland as well. The Mount has shown a resiliency to win when they are not at their best and fight off opponents in clutch time.

What to Expect: Both teams are happy to be here. Two months ago, you could have never predicted this. There won't be too many games on Thursday or Friday where you'll see two teams with a combined 20 wins in their last 12 games. Both of these teams are playing at their best right now. I expect that the Mount will be able to force the tempo and get Coppin State to play its game. If that happens, I think the Mount will eventually wear the Eagles down. It might take awhile, but I think that eventually the Mount pulls away for a win down the stretch. I think the senior Chris Vann is going to make a key three-pointer at some point that is going to ignite a rally, and I think a double figure night for Sam Atupem could be in the forecast. Ultimately, I see the Mount winning 73-61.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hello Again! Robert Morris is 'Cuse's first-round opponent

I'm probably the only guy in America who doubles as a Syracuse and Mt. St. Mary's fan. Certainly, I'm the only guy who blogs about both of them on the internet.

So for all my fellow Orange fans out there, I'm here for your questions. The Colonials are the regular season champions of the Northeast Conference. They are under the tutelage of first-year head coach Mike Rice. Rice was an assistant with Jamie Dixon last year at Pittsburgh and he has tried to instill the same type of defensive principles that the Panthers employ.

It took this older group of Colonials a little bit of time to buy into the theories that he was teaching. Still, when they did Robert Morris made some great progress down the stretch. Their big moment on the season was a win at Boston College. You know winning at Conte is a tough thing to do and all. It is a huge win for RMU and was a good win. But this wasn't the same BC team that we've seen in recent seasons.

The Colonials are led by NEC MVP Tony Lee. Lee is a guard, and the type of guard that if he's playing for you, you love his intensity and what he brings to your team. If you're playing against him, he's sort of chippy and talks a little too much and you just want to beat him. But he does get the job done. He is capable of beating you from the outside, but he does more of his damage on dribble penetration. He also is a good rebounder, especially for his size. He had back-to-back triple doubles this season and could be a thorn in the Orange's side if they let him.

The guy I'd fear if I was the Orange would be Jeremy Chappell. He could really beat the Orange zone with his pure shooting ability. He's a good player and must be closely watched.

The other guy who might be a problem for the Syracuse zone is Jimmy Langhurst. The guard never really met a jump shot he didn't like and he can make them from most spots on the floor. He does handle the ball a lot, as does Bateko Francisco. They actually do a fairly good job of it, although they look like you ought to be able to pressure them.

AJ Jackson is one of the few interior players for Robert Morris. The Colonials like to run guys on cuts through the lanes and don't really use too many regualar post sets. If they do it is usually through Jackson. The big fella can also knock a jumper down from the outside and Syracuse can not lose track of him on the offensive end.

The Colonials pride themselves on being a top notch defensive team. They do play with some good effort and they are trying to get better. Still there are some holes defensively and they can be exploited, particularly inside. With the size and strength the Orange has inside it should fare very well pounding it inside.

You have to wonder how both teams handle this game. Robert Morris was pointing to the NCAA tournament since the beginning of February. They were hammered by Mount St. Mary's in the conference semifinal. They've had better than a week to recuperate from that. How they bounce back is anyone's guess? I wouldn't be shocked if they show up with no intensity. But I also think Rice will get them ready.

Syracuse might also not really care of the NIT. None of these guys came to the Hill to play in the NIT. There will be no NIT attendance record this year. Syracuse went out on such a sour note in the Big East tournament and how they respond in the NIT is a question.

I think that if these two teams played in the regular season, Syracuse is a double-digit winner. Possibly getting to 20 or more. But under these circumstances, I'm not so sure. However, in the end, I think the Orange has enough talent and strength to pull out the win.

As a Mt. St. Mary's fan and a Syracuse alum, I'm greatly looking forward to ending the Colonials season, a second time.

Enjoy the game. I'll be watching the play-in. Go Mount.

Live Blog:Selection Show

We're less than ten minutes away. I will pass along my thoughts as they become named. The big one that I was waiting for, has already been announced. The Mount is in the Play-In game in Dayton. It makes no sense. The committee refuses to place the SWAC champion versus the MEAC champion in that game. (Both conferences are composed on mainly black colleges). But it is so obvious this year that the Mount has a much greater profile than the SWAC champion. Still, the Mount needs to prepare for Tuesday night and be ready to continue playing as well as it has been down the stretch. Coppin has been playing well as well. The Eagles started the season 4-19, before winning 12 of 13 to finish 16-20 and be the first 20 loss team to make the field. We're still waiting to see what #1 the Mount will face after winning on Tuesday.

Here we go....the brackets are about to be here.

The #1 seed is North Carolina - not a real surprise. They are the best team entering in my opinion.

Get to the games...Gumbel, we know all this.

The South #1 seed is Memphis

The West #1 seed is UCLA

The Midwest #1 seed is Kansas

No surprises there either.

The only possible issue for me was Tennessee and whether they should have gotten a number one. I didn't think they should have and the committee agreed. But the Vols certainly had a case for one.

Seven minutes of nothing. This is why CBS shouldn't cover this thing. Give the broadcast rights to somebody who knows what is going on.

OMG.. they are going to show us the games.

Carolina plays us....amazing. They didn't even give us a break there.
Indiana plays Arkansas. I think we can take them - if we survive the first two.

Notre Dame plays George Mason. Beware the upset in this one.
Washington State plays Winthop - Winthrop is a 13 - the Mount beat them

Tennessee #2 here - that means #8 overall - sort of surprising. American is the opponent.
Butler at 7 - seems low - versus South Alabama - so the Jaguars are off the bubble.

Louisville gets a 3 seed -- Boise State is in to face them. Great football rematch from the Liberty Bowl the other year.

Oklahoma at 6 is high against St. Joe's who many thought were on the bubble at #11

Beware South Alabama in Birmingham. They nearly knocked off Arizona in the same building when Arizona won the tournment several years ago.

The more I look at, I'm not sure Tennessee is going to survive the first weekend. And that is going to make it a fairly easy jaunt for Carolina in this bracket unless Louisville can get back to playing well. Although I will say Notre Dame or Washington State could provide some drama in the Round of 16.

Now onto the Midwest....
Kansas takes on Portland State
UNLV is the 8 seed and playing well, they play Kent State - great first round matchup.
Clemson is a five seed - which seems high and they play Villanova who did get in the field.
Vanderbilt is a four seed - and they play Siena from the MAAC.

Georgetown plays in Raleigh as well and plays UMBC in a regional matchup (Mount beat them by 20 in a scrimmage.)
Gonzaga plays Davidson in another Mid-major matchup

Wisconsin is only a #3 and they play Cal-Fullerton - in Omaha where the Titans play some playoff games.
USC plays Kansas State - Mayo versus Beasley - are you serious? That is a primetime game guaranteed

The 7-10 matchups right now, intrigue me. South Alabama and Davidson are both 10's in their backyards and they play other mid-majors in Butler and Gonzaga. The 2 seeds Tennessee and Georgetown could be in real trouble come the weekend. I like that.

33 teams in so far, and I had them all. At the moment, I'm guessing that Kentucky is going to get in and Illinois State isn't depriving me of the perfect bracket. But you can't be Joe Lunardi overnight. Can you? You can only dream.

Let's go here on the second half. I don't need to see Ellen Dance. Still would love to see VCU get a bid, but I don't think it's happening.

Memphis is the top seed in the South, they will play Texas Arlington. I think that was the Mount's slot if NW State would have won.

Mississippi State plays Oregon who is a nine and was my last team out. Surprising.

Michigan State overseeded again plays Temple

Pitt earns a seed at 4 - good for them and they play Oral Roberts - which will not be an easy out.

Texas is the 2- and I'd love to see them play Memphis - they play Austin Peay.
Miami is the 7 seed - and they play the 10 seed St. Mary's Gaels. Take the Gaels right now.

Stanford is the 3 and they play Cornell. Stanford already lost to a NY team this year.
Marquette plays Kentucky - so as I suspected the Wildcats get in. But an undeserved bid.

Illinois State would surprise me at this point, and my other team that isn't getting in would be Ohio State. Be shocked to see any of those teams in the West. Unless they left Baylor out. But I can't imagine that.

Back to the South....strong region in my view. Pitt is playing well, Texas is tough as a two - many thought they'd be a one.

I'm shocked to see Miami all the way up there as a 7 - I really think St. Mary's which struggled some down the stretch will get through the matchup. And I think Marquette could make the second weekend.

UCLA plays Mississippi Valley State
BYU is in versus Texas A&M

Drake earns a deserved 5 seed for their first trip in a long time, they play Western Kentucky. That will be a good game.
UCONN plays San Diego in the other game.

Duke is at the Verizon Center, they play Belmont - Belmont could be scary
West Virginia close to home and they face Arizona - tough second game for Duke

Xavier is the #3 seed and they play the story of the weekend in Georgia
Purdue is in and they play Baylor - really made them sweat.

Disappointing for me that Illinois State didn't get in. I'd rather see a team like that, then another BCS team like Oregon or Ohio State or Kentucky. So I got 63 of 65. And I pretty much thought that Kentucky would get in, but I just didn't think they deserved to get in.

Georgia wins SEC championship

With Georgia winning the SEC championship, substitute the Bulldogs for Oregon in my final bracket projection.

A truly great run through the SEC tournament in the craziest of circumstances for the Dawgs to bump someone (and I say the Ducks) from the field.

It's Official: Mount is headed to Dayton

Mount St. Mary's will play Coppin State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday night at Dayton Arena in Dayton Ohio. The winner will play a #1 seed to be announced during the 6 o'clock hour.

The two schools are seperated by only about 48 miles, but by my recollection haven't played since they were both Division II schools in the late 1980's. Both teams ended the seasons on hot streaks, Coppin won 12 of 13 to rebound from a 4-19 start. The Mount won 8 of its last 9 to win the NEC berth.

The committee chose to place the Mount in the play-in game despite an RPI ranking of 157 compared to Mississippi Valley 243. The Delta Devils are 15-15, the Mount is 18-14. MVSU's schedule was ranked 315, the Mount's 204.

Other possibilities for the play-in game would have been Texas-Arlington, which finished 7th in the Southland Conference before winning the conference tournament and had an RPI of 144.

Coppin State in Play-In

The first half of the Tuesday night opening round game is known. The committee has selected Coppin State as one of the two participants. The Committee chairman said they are awaiting the result of the Southland championship before announcing the other participant. I think this was there last ditch effort to keep two Historically Black Schools out of the Play-In. But it appears that Texas-Arlington will win the Southland - although NW State has cut it to two. I think if NW State wins, they play in the Tuesday night game. If not then Mississippi Valley State does. However, it would still be possible for the Mount to be the second team in that game.

Today is Selection Sunday

There is still a chance some of this could change....based on the SEC and Big Ten finals. And how can you root against Georgia right now. But here is the field as I expect it.

Automatic Bids
American (Patriot League)
Austin Peay (Ohio Valley)
Belmont (Atlantic Sun)
Boise State (WAC)
Butler (Horizon League)
Cal State Fullerton (Big West)
Coppin State (MEAC)
Cornell (Ivy League)
Davidson (Southern Conference)
Drake (Missouri Valley)
George Mason (CAA)
Kent State (MAC)
Memphis (Conference USA)
Mississippi Valley State (SWAC)
Mount St. Mary's (Northeast)
Oral Roberts (Summit League)
Pittsburgh (Big East)
Portland State (Big Sky)
San Diego (West Coast)
Siena (MAAC)
Temple (Atlantic 10)
UCLA (Pac-10)
UMBC (America East)
UNLV (Mountain West)
Western Kentucky (Sun Belt)
Winthrop (Big South)
Still to be determined as far as Automatic Bids - and my projection
Northwestern State (Southland)
North Carolina (ACC)
Kansas (Big 12)
Arkansas (SEC)
Wisconsin (Big 10)

And with that said, I probably wouldn't be surprised to see either Illinois or Georgia win today.

Then here are the remaining At-Large picks that I think the committee will make...

Michigan State
Washington State
Notre Dame
Kansas State
Texas A&M
West Virginia
St. Mary's
Illinois State
Mississippi State
Miami (FL)
Ohio State
St. Joe's
South Alabama

My last two teams out were Kentucky and Virginia Commonwealth. If I were picking I would have VCU in instead of Oregon, but I don't think that is going to happen. And there is certainly a good possibility that Kentucky gets included. But I just can't see it with a 6-7 non-conference record and a +60 RPI.

But those are my teams.

I think the Mount is going to get either a trip to Raleigh to play North Carolina or to Little Rock to play Memphis. I think they avoid the play-in game, with the results from the MEAC and SWAC championships already in. But we may not have to wait much longer. The NCAA is set to announce the play-in game participants at 2pm on CBS.

I'll be back with those results soon.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Live Blog: Juan Manuel Marquez vs Manny Pacquiao

A great atmosphere is Vegas as they get ready for the rematch between these two. The boxers are entering the ring and I will be back with information on a round by round basis.

ROUND TWO: Solid round for Marquez. I've had some computer issues. But I'm back at it now. That round went to Marquez as he was the cleaner puncher. Plus he staggered Pacman near the end of the round.

ROUND THREE: A better round for Pacquiao and he knocked Marquez down late and then had him staggered at the end of the round. That should have evened the fight up. Marquez is hurt at the moment and it will be interesting to see how he responds. It was a big left by the Phillipine that changed this fight for the moment.

ROUND FOUR: Early in Round four it appears that Pacquiao can win this fight right now. But Marquez is starting to get his legs back - and he's now fighting back. But Marquez seems to have little power behind anything at the moment. A big left from Pacquiao again. Marquez does fight back a little. But Manny is landing a lot of punches now that were missing earlier. Score the round to Manny - and give him the lead in the fight.

ROUND FIVE: A slow beginning to Round five. Marquez looks better here in the fifth. He landed a good right. He is keeping Pacquiao away right now. Marquez is countering well at the moment, but Manny is still landing some shots. A fierce exchange at the end of the round, but one that goes back to Marquez. And I have it even through five.

ROUND SIX: Marquez is keeping his distance, but I think this is a better round for Manny. With that a big uppercut and then a combination from JMM. I think that was the first close round of the fight. But Marquez landed a few at the end of the round, that I think stole it.

ROUND SEVEN: Manny has to do a better job of getting in front of Marquez. The Mexican is keeping him away. Some blood from JMM - from a butt. Not a bad cut - but over the eye. It's about the fourth time or so the heads have clashed. Ag good flurry there that Pacquiao needed and won. Marquez is fighting back and hit him with a huge left uppercut. I thought it was a pretty even round. But I liked the action that Manny provided a bit more. I'll give it to him.

ROUND EIGHT: Manny is also bleeding as well - and it seems to be bothering him. Marquez had hurt Pacquiao a little here. Some good shots to the body. JMM is running the fight right now. He's the aggressor, different from what we've seen earlier. The cut seems to really have slowed Manny down. And Marquez stunned him with a combination. The round to Marquez.

ROUND NINE: Marquez is still dictating the pace here in the ninth. But a good left lands from Manny. Marquez drives forward, but still is keeping the distance. Everytime, or so it seems, when Manny moves in and connects, Marquez counters. Quite a flurry at the end with the fighters exchanging punches in front of each other. I didn't see anything to seperate them in that round.

ROUND TEN: Pacquiao has hurt Marquez here in the tenth. Within the first few seconds of the round he has caught Marquez with some big punches. But now midway through the round JMM has regained himself and is doing a better job of fighting back. Pac-man doing more counterpunching and its working. Clearly the best round for Pacquiao since the knockout round in the third. I have it even through ten. But I would think many might have Marquez ahead - as the rounds he won were more clear - and some of the close rounds could have easily gone his way. But Pacquiao could have stolen the first.

ROUND ELEVEN: The round starts with a low blow from Marquez, and the referee warns him. Now Pacquiao lands a left but Marquez counters. JMM becomes a bit more aggressive and lands one or two solid blows. And a good left from Manny. Marquez does score there on the counter. It was a very close round, but Manny's late flurry gives him the advantage headed to round twelve on my card.

ROUND TWELVE: This round could determine the outcome, it is that close. Marquez fighting like he needs the round and is being succesful. A good exchange there. Pacquiao has fired back in the middle of the round. Both guys have landed some good punches. And they are really throwing leather with about one minute left. Some good fighting at the end. But I thought Marquez did enough to win the last round. So my unofficial card has it even.

We await the scorecards. Nothing would surprise me in this result. It was that close. Four years since they got together the last time, that ended in a draw, and there wasn't much to seperate them tonight. The cards in a moment.

Roth 115-112 Marquez
115-112 Pacquiao
114-113 winner on Split decision and new champion Manny Pacquiao

Great fight. It had it all. Pacquiao got the early knockdown. Marquez won the middle rounds. Some cuts affected Manny in the middle. But he came back hard in the last few rounds. I was somewhat surprised that two judges had a three-point difference. But it was one of those fights where there were some close rounds - and if you went with the same guy in those close rounds, I guess that's how the card would have turned out. I had it all even - on the scorecards. But if you'd have asked me afterwards who won and made me pick someone, I'd have gone with Pacquiao, he was more impressive when he controlled things. Still I wouldn't have been upset if Marquez would have won the decision.

Some real good fighting the last few weekends. Casamayor goes next Saturday night, but we might have to watch hoops.

Is the Play-In still the destination?

As soon as the final horn sounded on the Mount's NEC championship Wednesday evening, the next question became where will the Mount's next game be and who will they play.

With an RPI hovering around 150 and a record of 18-14, it seemed possible if not likely that the Mount would head to Dayton, Ohio for the "play-in" game or as the NCAA refers to it, the opening round game.

We'll know for sure tomorrow night. But at this point it looks like there are a couple of possibilites that could exclude the Mount from the Play-In.

First off, I think the SWAC champion, which will not have a winning record is guaranteed to be one half of the matchup. Mississippi Valley State (who you may recall beat the Mount in overtime in Milan Brown's second game five years ago) plays Jackson State later today for the right to represent the conference.

Then there are three or four others that I think could be play-in possibilities.
1) If Hartford beats UMBC in the America East (going on right now and UMBC leads 28-8 early - so it seems unlikely) the Hawks and Mount would have similar resumes.
2) The Southland championship will be decided later today between Texas-Arlington and Northwesten State. NW State would have a losing record even with the win, while UTA has a RPI similar to the Mount and less wins.
3) Coppin State has made a dash through the MEAC championship all the way to the finals. They play Morgan State later. Coppin has a losing record and a 200+ RPI. There has been a notion in the past that the NCAA does not want two Historically Black Colleges in the game, but might be forced to if both teams have losing records.
4) Another unlikely possibility would be Cal-Irvine. The Anteaters are close to 150 in the RPI as well and play for the Big West championship later tonight.

So its possible, although not sure how likely that the Mount could avoid the Play-In.

Friday, March 14, 2008

If today were Selection Sunday

Here are the teams from multiple bid conferences that I expect to get in the field when it is announced Sunday evening. This is before play on Friday but I don't expect too many changes at this point, but I guess a few are still possible, particularly if a non-at large team would win a conference tournament.

ACC: Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Miami
A10: Xavier, St. Joseph's, Massachusetts
Big 12: Texas, Kansas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Baylor, Kansas State
Big East: Georgetown, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Villanova, Notre Dame, Marquette, West Virginia
Big 10: Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Indiana
Missouri Valley: Drake, Illinois State
Mountain West: UNLV, BYU
Pac 10: Stanford, UCLA, USC, Arizona, Washington State
SEC: Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Kentucky
Sun Belt: South Alabama, Western Kentucky
West Coast: San Diego, Gonzaga, St. Mary's
The other 20 conferences are 1-bid leagues

The final ten teams in for me were: Miami, Ohio State, Baylor, Arkansas, Villanova, St. Joe's, UNLV, Kentucky, South Alabama, UMASS

The others I seriously considered were: Oregon, Arizona State, New Mexico and Virginia Commonwealth

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Get your blood pumping

Let's see if this worked at all

Remembering Dustin

Got an email from a friend of the fanblog last night because he thought it was be nice if all Mount fans heard about the story of what occured on the floor after the Mount's NEC final win over Sacred Heart last night at the Pitt Center in Fairfield Connecticut.

The Mount community has been dealing with the fact that one of its students, Dustin Bauer, was seriously injured in a fall over of the weekend on campus. Bauer was a big fan of the Mount basketball program, and likely would have been inside the Pitt Center if not for his injury. According to the Baltimore Sun website, Bauer has been on life support at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore since the accident, and according to an Associated Press report, he is being kept alive pending final farewells from family members who are having his organs harvested for transplant.

Here's the story as is was told in the email...."When Coach Brown was cutting down the net, he left the last strand of net on the rim and said "That one is for Dustin." There wasn't a dry eye on the court, between the players, the coaches, and the fans. Unbelievable moment I wish I could have been there for."

I agree, it's a moment and a story that is worth retelling.

Again, our thoughts and prayers are with Dustin Bauer, his family and friends at this moment. Certainly, the most difficult of moments that life presents us, faces them right now.

The family has established a website where you can offer your
thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Mount is back in the Dance

One of the ugliest games the Mount has played in about a month, led to one of the most beautiful scenes.

The Mount advanced to the NCAA tournament with a gritty, gutty win 68-55 over Sacred Heart on Wednesday on the Pioneers home court earning the Mountaineers their third NCAA berth.

Jean Cajou and Kelly Beidler each scored 15 points as the Mount secured the NEC title.

Heavy on the Mount's mind was the health of classmate Dustin Bauer, who was placed on life support after he was injured in a fall on campus over the weekend. Fans in attendance chanted his name as the seconds wound down on the clock.

"If he was healthy, he would have been here," said senior guard Chris Vann, a close friend of Bauer's told CBSSportsline afterwards. "He was one of the 'Mount Maniacs' at the school. We did it for him, but we did it for us as well. It felt like he was the sixth man on the court."

Cajou made two key threes in the second half to restore a Mount lead and when the Pioneers threatened again down the stretch it was Beidler who answered with a bucket and some key foul shots as the Mount closed the game on an 11-0 run. It was Beidler's layin in traffic that ignited the rally.

The championship is the first for the Mount since Milan Brown took over from legendary head coach Jim Phelan five years ago. Brown, who was an assistant during Phelan's tenure, made a key offensive philosophy change midway through the season. That led to a 10-4 finish for the Mount and this championship run.

Sophomore guard Jeremy Goode also had a key night for the Mount. He finished with 13 points and 5 assists and when the Mount spread the floor and let Goode operate in space during the second half, the lead ballooned again.

The Mount is a sure candidate for the play-in game in Dayton next week, but could avoid that fate depending on some outcomes later this week. Either way the Mount is sure to face a #1 seed if it does survive or avoid the Play-In.

When does the NIT start?

As shocking as it was to not hear the Orange's name called last year, it would be even more shocking to hear it this year after today's performance.

Maybe we'll play Robert Morris?


Three Games: Three Wins? Let's Go get Em.

Three games of big interest for me today. All with huge implications for the competitors.

I'm certainly hoping for the best and will be rooting hard for all three.

The Gettysburg girls are in Greensburg to battle Mercyhurst Prep with a berth in the State final on the line. Click

The Mount is on the road at Sacred Heart with a berth to the NCAA tournament at stake. Click

You can get my preview here. Click

And the early tipoff has the Orange in an elimination game versus Villanova in the Big East tournament.Click

A clean sweep is all we're asking for.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

For all the Marbles

As far as Northeast Conference basketball games go, this is the biggest one of the year. The nationally televised conference championship game for the right to participate in the NCAA tournament.

Who plays: #4 seed Mt. St. Mary's (17-14, 11-7) at #3 seed Sacred Heart (18-13, 13-5)

What's at Stake: Ultimately the big prize is those dancing shoes. The winner gets to play in the NCAA tournament. Quite possibly as a sacrificial lamb (or tune-up game for one of the #1 seeds) or maybe even first in the Play-In game a week from Wednesday.

But its more than that. Mt. St. Mary's tries to keep its perfect NEC Championship game record (2-0) alive while the Pioneers try to win the conference for the first time.

Furthermore, the Mount might be considered a year away. This is a very young Mountaineer team that is led by a lot of underclassmen. For Sacred Heart, five seniors know that a loss and their college careers might very well over.

When is tipoff: Wednesday night at 7:00.

Where are the proceedings: The game will be played in Fairfield, Connecticut at Sacred Heart's gymnasium, commonly referred to by the Pioneer Nation as the Pitt. If you can't score a ticket or are having transportation issues, the game will be televised via ESPN2 with Eric Collins and Mark Adams on the call.

How did we get here: Both teams have won two games in the conference tournament, first at home and then on the road. The Mount drilled Quinnipiac at home before destroying regular season champ Robert Morris on the road Sunday. SHU avenged a loss to Central Connecticut State in the opener, before defeating Wagner on Staten Island on Sunday evening.

The analysis: Truly, I think these teams are very evenly matched. SHU obviously won the regular season matchup and fared better in conference play, hence the home court advantage. But the Mount had the better early season and has played very well down the stretch winning seven of eight.

Advantages for the Mount: The team that Sacred Heart faces on Wednesday isn't the same team it faced on January 19th in Emmitsburg. Personnel wise, the Mount has changed a little with the emergence of Jean Cajou and Kelly Beidler. But schematically, the Mount has changed dramatically since than. That was the last of the Mount's walk it up the floor gameplans. Since then they have pressured the defense. The results have been astounding. The Mount has scored better than a point per possession in nine of thirteen games and has won all nine of those games. Point guard Jeremy Goode has been the catalyst.

Usually when teams face each other in the conference final they face a team they've seen countless times this year, so there are no surprises. With the win in Emmitsburg the only meeting, SHU hasn't been on the floor with this Mount team.

Advantages for Sacred Heart: This is a senior laden team that has beaten the Mount already this year. Furthermore, it is playing at home before what we can expect to be a charged up crowd.

Also, the Pioneers have the experience from last year's championship loss to Central Connecticut State to call upon. None of the Mount players has ever played in the championship game.

What to Expect: I expect a pretty offensive game. I expect the ball to go up the floor quickly. I expect Sacred Heart to move the ball well and offensively, and I expect the Pioneers to work for open looks against the very good Mount defense.

Brice Brooks was a huge factor the last time these teams played and if the Mount limits him inside, it will help the perimeter defense against shooters like all-conference performer Drew Shubik, Ryan Litke and Ryon Howard.

Ultimately, I think the Mount is the hotter team at the moment with the better athletes and the better upside. Both teams have balanced attacks and neither relies on one player too much, so I think you can expect to see some good performances. In the Mount's two previous championship appearances, an outside shooter who wasn't a key component has stepped up to make some key baskets (Silas Cheung against Rider and Eric Bethel against CCSU). I think the Mount may need some trifectas from guys who haven't contributed as much down the stretch. Still, and I maybe a little bit of a homer, I'm picking the Mount. Let's say 78-69 pulling away down the stretch.

Most Importantly: I don't know Dustin Bauer, the Mount senior who was injured in a campus accident over the weekend. I don't know if he ever saw the basketball team play or was a Mount Maniac or just another Mountaineer. But I know he needs our prayers. So I offer mine to his friends and family and hope that you will do the same.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Recap

I've calmed down a little from the euphoria of this afternoon.

But another great perfomance by the Mountaineers. They need one more to reach the NCAA tournament and be part of the greatest sporting event in America. Today's win was super for the program and a great effort, but without a followup win on Wednesday it's just another playoff win over the rival.

Still a great gameplan drawn up by the coaching staff and great execution by the Mount's players. Jeremy Goode was clearly the catalyst and he continues to lead this team. His speed up and down the court is a tremendous asset and his ability to get his teammates involved has been a key to this late season run. Kelly Beidler followed up his quarterfinal performance with another top-notch effort. His size and athletic ability are uncommon at this level and he played within himself at most times and really made a difference in the game. He finished with 15 points and 6 rebounds and some key offensive buckets. Jean Cajou was also stellar off the bench. He continued his hot shooting (4-of-6, 2-of-3 from deep) and threw the dagger at the end. Also important was the play of Will Holland. He came through with 11 and it was good to see the sophomore from Houston have a good day after some recent struggles. He's just got to keep shooting.

The key to the basketball game for me, was the way the Mount matched every punch the Colonials threw. MSM jumped out to an early lead but Bobby Mo answered and knotted the game at 14. The Mount answered with one of those big offensive buckets from Beidler, a three, and then a Goode three in transition and a Will Holland pullup jumper put the lead back at eight. RMU never got the game back to one possesion after that.

They did try and after the Mount extended the lead to double figures to open the second half, the Colonials scored seven straight to make it a 44-40 deficit. But the Mount picked itself up and went on a 9-1 run to basically end the game right then and there. Holland's jumper started the run, a layup from Sam Atupem (who played strong inside) and Cajou's long range three came before Gary Wallace's free throw. But Markus Mitchell scored to make it 53-41 off a Beidler assist. The lead was never less than double figs the rest of the way.

The Mount wore the Colonials down. It was obvious they were beaten and frustrated as I watched the final eight to ten minutes on TV. Seeing their fans desert them with about four minutes left was somewhat satisfying but in a way disappointing. Here was a team that had accomplished so much during the regular season being battered and beaten on its home floor and then having its fans, to which it had provided all the enjoyment all season take off for the exits. Maybe today's performance by the Colonials wasn't worth their cheers, but the season effort was worth those staying til the end.

Kudos to the many Mount fans in attendance today. Your presence was evident on the television. I'm sorry I wasn't along for the journey.

This late-season run (and it started well before the postseason) has been fun. It has seen the Mount play some very strong basketball. It has produced some very good moments and some very strong team and individual performances. This is a very young team that is on the verge on something very special. The run has been a glorious one, but it can't be complete, not yet. There is still more to be written.

It's over on Staten Island and Sacred Heart has pulled the upset. The Mount will head to Fairfield to take on the Pioneers for a right to represent the conference in the NCAA tournament. Tip off is Wednesday at 7pm and will be televised on ESPN2.

I believe

What a great day to be a Mount fan.

A truly unbelievable perfomance by the Mount today against the best team in the NEC.

Jeremy Goode was fantastic, and I don't have the time to write at the moment.

More later.

Go Mount!

Worth Waiting

Was going to post the final from the Gettysburg West Mifflin PIAA girls AAA quarterfinal last evening. Never got around to it.

Thankfully, I waited. I picked up the wrong score last night at an online site. Actually, it had the score right but the wrong winner. So when I was making my way around town this morning I found out that Gettysburg actually won the game 60-42 and advanced to the PIAA Semifinal on Wednesday.

Caitlyn Lowe buried five three-pointers and Kate Jacobs had a big night inside, but the point guard play of Katie Williams was too much for West Mifflin's pressure.

The Lady Warriors march through the state field continues to be one of the greatest high school stories in the area. They will face the winner of Bellefonte/Mercyhurst Prep on Wednesday at a site to be determined. The Bellefonte/Mercyhurst game was postponed on Saturday due to inclement weather and is to be played later today.

Mt. St. Jospeph and Villa Maria Academy play for the Eastern crown on Wednesday at the Palestra. The championship is set for Saturday at 6pm at the Bryce Jordan Center on the campus of Penn State University.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Live Blog: Oleg Maskaev vs. Samuel Peter

The two heavyweights are making their way to the ring for the second fight of the night. A lot of folks expect Nigerian Samuel Peter to overwhelm Maskaev here. I expect a pretty good fight that is going to end in the middle to late rounds with a knockout. It could easily be a knockout for either fighter. The fighters are now in the ring. I'll be back in three minutes or so with a recap of the first round.

ROUND ONE: Very slow pace in round one. Peter landed a few big right hands at the end of the round, or at least near it. Peter was slightly the better fighter and then he landed the right hands, so its his round in my book.

ROUND TWO: Maskaev is a bit more aggressive in the start of round two. Peter backed up Maskaev a few times at the end of the round. Still, I thought that Maskaev worked hard in that round and landed a few jabs that made the difference. I'll give the round to the Russian.

ROUND THREE: Maskaev has made some adjustments to Peter over the course of the first few rounds. Peter had hurt him and Peter unfurled a fury. Maskaev blocked a lot of Peter's punches. Big left hook from Maskaev. Both fighters were hurt in this round. Another big right from Maskaev. I think Maskaev won the round with the late flourish.

ROUND FOUR: Peter caught Maskaev with a clean shot early in the round. Not a lot of action through the middle part of this round. But some good punches from both sides at the end of the round. I give the round to Peter.

ROUND FIVE: All three judges have Peter ahead by two rounds at this point. Peter has landed a big punch at the start of this round. Hard right hands exchanged. Big, big shots on both sides near the end of the round. I'm calling the round for Maskaev as he was the busier fighter in the round and landed some good punches.

ROUND SIX: Peter is warned for hitting to the back of the head. A left hand hits Peter when he's off balance looks worse than it was. Peter hurts him with a big right hand. Maskaev is out on his feet and the fight is stopped near the end of round six.

A very good finish for Peter who hurt Maskaev for the second time. The last time he may have gotten too excited. This time he finished with a series of good blows to the face of Maskaev and the referee had no choice but to stop the fight, even though, Maskaev needed only to survive a few more seconds in the sixth.

Live Blog: Juan Diaz/Nate Campbell Lightweight Championship Fight

Juan Diaz and Nate Campbell are getting ready to battle for the Lightweight championship in Cancun Mexico. We'll bring you coverage of the fight as it transpires.

Diaz is unbeaten in 33 career fights but could be challenged by the exciting Campbell, still Diaz is a huge favorite as they fight for the IBF title. Campbell started his career at age 24, the age of Diaz now, and didn't turn pro until 27. He's had a few losses in title fights to Robbie Peden but hopes to win this one in what might be his last chance.

The fighters are in the ring and we'll be back in a little more than 3 minutes with the recap of the first round.

ROUND ONE: Very exciting round one. Which saw Campbell come flying out. He did cut Diaz over the eye, and work some big right hands to the body. Diaz landed a big strong uppercut midway through the round. The round was exciting and Campbell probably won it on pure determination. Lots of leather thrown.

ROUND TWO: This fight has a tremendous pace. Diaz likes to fight at this level. And he is starting to take some sort of control midway through the round. He backed Campbell up against the ropes and got some good punches in, as Campbell almost seemed to be tiring. There has been a lot of good fighting and Campbell seemed to rally towards the end of the round. But I'll give that round to Diaz and say we're even up to this point.

ROUND THREE: Much more outside fighting here in Round Three. Campbell continues to work to the body. But Diaz countered that as well. This is a great fight at a great pace. Diaz has some swelling around the left eye where he bled earlier. Some good punches from both. I'm going to call the round even.

ROUND FOUR: These rounds are very close. I think they could be going either way. Campbell is working the body and Diaz seems to focusing on that in this round as well. Campbell seems to be landing more clean punches at the moment, as the pace has slowed right now. Not slow by any means, but slow from the frenetic pace of the first two rounds. Another close round, that I'm going to score for Campbell.

ROUND FIVE: Truly this is turning into a great fight. Diaz still has a little bleeding over the left eye. The feeling in the Diaz corner seems to be that Campbell will tire out. There was again a lot of leather thrown that round, and again I thought Campbell landed the cleaner punches. I thought he won the round and is ahead. Compubox said Diaz landed 29 punches that round, but Campbell landed 26.

ROUND SIX: Good left hook from Campbell and then an uppercut. But Diaz is landing as well. Campbell has thrown more punches in all five rounds thus far. A good flurry there from Diaz. Lots of blood from Diaz' left eye. And Campbell lost a point on a head butt. The HBO producers (JOEY) believe that the punch opened the cut. A clean punch in fact as the replay shows. Diaz wins that 10-8.

ROUND SEVEN: I've got it even entering Round seven, because of the point that maybe shouldn't have been taken away. Diaz is bothered by the cut. Campbell seems much more comfortable in the ring right now. Campbell is landing the effective punches and he's throwing more punches. He won that round.

ROUND EIGHT: This is becoming a fight that you will remember for a long time if you have the pleasure of watching it. The two fighters are once again trading punches. The bigger punches though again coming from the challenger. The champion fires back with a few. But Campbell is not backing down. A couple big right hands from Campbell. Diaz rallying here towards the end of the round. Not sure he can steal this round. Campbell is backing him up. The round is going to be Campbell's.

ROUND NINE: Through eight rounds, Campbell has landed 30 punches more. I have Campbell ahead by two rounds at this point and Diaz needs to rally. Diaz is bleeding profusely right now. He is in deep trouble in my view and Max Kellerman just said the same thing. Diaz is playing for the knockout and he's not able. Campbell is drilling Diaz to the head right now. Another round for Nate Campbell.

ROUND TEN: Campbell has been outworking and outpunching Diaz the last few rounds. All the momentum has been with the challenger. Diaz looks beaten. Campbell continues to pound away. Big right hand from Campbell near the end of the round. If this keeps up Campbell will walk out of here with the belt around his waist.

ROUND ELEVEN: Diaz throws a huge right desperation hand. But with no success. Campbell keeps coming forward and landing big punches. The always active Diaz has been slowed in Cancun. One more round for Campbell, and one more to go.

ROUND TWELVE: This has been a good fight, and they are once again trading punches. This is the best Diaz has looked for sometime. But Campbell is still hitting him hard. However, this is a much more even round than the last few have been. But Diaz has little left at the end of the round and Campbell has landed some clean punches. Again the round to me goes to Campbell.

We'll wait for the decision. One that I think has to goto Campbell, but many early rounds were close - and if they all went to Diaz and the loss of the point for Campbell could make this decision close.

My scorecard is 117-111 in favor of Campbell.

The officials have it 116-111 for Campbell, 115-112 for Campbell, and the other one for Diaz in a split decision. The champion is now Nate Campbell.

Semifinal Eve

Just sitting here thinking how all those countdown clocks are overrated. But I'm thinking that its just 18 hours until the Mount takes on Robert Morris at the Sewell Center on Fox Sports Pittsburgh for a berth in the NEC championship.

I have a lot of respect for what the Colonials have been able to accomplish. Yet I have sense of confidence that the Mount can persevere tomorrow. I mean based on what I saw down the stretch this year, Mt. St. Mary's would be the team I wouldn't want to play if I were anyone else in the Northeast Conference. Still, the Colonials handled that Mountie team twice in the final five weeks or so of the season. So they've go to have a confidence that they can do it again.

This has been a good rivalry the last several seasons. Each team has won NEC playoff games on the opponents court. The Mount got a big win in the first round of the postseason last year in Pittsburgh, while RMU upset the Mount at the ARCC on Jeremy Chappell's three-pointer from the corner the year before.

We expect that we might see as much excitement tomorrow.

The chances of Mount alum Cliff Warren getting his Jacksonville Dolphins to the tournament seem pretty slim. JU had a bad first half and Belmont is in control and up 20 or so at the intermission in the Atlantic Sun final.

Meanwhile, the Mount is 1-0 against NCAA qualifiers. Early season victim Winthrop captured the Big South crown today at UNC-Asheville and is in the Dance for the fourth straight season. You may recall that the Eagles beat Notre Dame in last year's first round. The Mount beat them with some key execution down the stretch in Emmitsburg earlier this year.

Austin Peay also qualified today so we officially have three teams of the 65 set. Expect Belmont to add its name later on. But we're still hoping for JU to rally.

On the bubble, Villanova is playing at Providence right now in an absolute must win situation for the Wildcats. The Cats are in the lead at the moment.

Syracuse as we told you earlier had a huge day. It turned into a huge win. And right about now, I think they are probably in the field. Certainly, had they won last Saturday instead of blowing the 11-point lead against Pittsburgh with 3:30 left the ticket would be just about secure. But now they probably need one win in the Big East tournament depending on outcomes elsewhere.

Most teams on the bubble won today. St. Joseph's did lose, but at the expense of Dayton, which may very well be playing its way back into the situation.

The other bubble team to lose was UAB. The Blazers loss certainly excusable at Memphis. But the Blazers were never in it and it will be interesting to see how the Committee looks at that blowout. I had the Blazers in the field entering the day.

How big is today?

For the Syracuse Orangemen it really doesn't get any bigger.

You may recall, I had the Orange in the tournament last weekend. Even after that gut-wrenching loss to Pittsburgh. However, after thinking it through a little more, I don't think they are in at the moment. Certainly they are still in the conversation, but I don't think they are even at the point right now where they are closely compared with most teams. Consequently, I think they are out.

They need to do something where the committee has a good feeling about them. Because I don't think the committee wants to put 8 teams from the Big East in the field. Therefore, even though 20 wins isn't a guarantee, Syracuse almost has to get there. And winning today gives them the opportunity to get there. Or at least the easiest opportunity. It also gets people saying good things about this team again.

A run into the Big East Tournament semifinals would probably also accomplish the same feat. However, the task is easier today. You have a conference opponent on your home floor on senior day. Are there any seniors to be honored? So let's just call it Donte Day.

A win today and the mock brackets will have the Orange in the field tomorrow. They are that close at the moment. But most importantly a win today gives the Orange the best chance at having its name called in the real bracket next weekend.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mount advances to NEC semifinals

Another solid perfomance for Mt. St. Mary's as it controlled its quarterfinal matchup with Quinnipiac and walked away with a comfortable 80-70 win at the Knott Arena on Thursday night.

The win moves the Mount into the league semifinals on Sunday afternoon at Robert Morris. We expect the game will be broadcast on the NEC television network via FCS and MSG. Not bad for a team that didn't have a player chosen to any of the all-NEC teams released yesterday.

The Mounties were once again led by the late-season sensation Jean Cajou. The freshman guard scored 20 points, but struggled a little bit from the floor as he actually missed a few shots. Still his hot shooting fueled an early 17-0 run that gave the Mount a 22-10 lead and a lead it would never relinquish.

Jeremy Goode, who apparently isn't among the best seven guards in the league, had another stat stuffing performance. He finished with 15 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and a steal and had control of the game most of the night. If he's not in the best seven guards in the League, I'm watching a different league.

The Mount also got a clutch perfomance out of sophomore Kelly Beidler. The athletic forward scored 15 points and grabbed 8 rebounds coming through when some of the other Mount frontline players were saddled with some foul trouble. Chris Vann was also in double figures with 11, but played only 22 minutes due to foul difficulty.

Demario Anderson led the Bobcats with a quiet 21.

The Mount trailed 10-5 early but Cajou sandwiched three pointers around Goode's trifectas to spearhead the 17 point eruption, giving the Mount a 14-10 lead. The Mounties scored 8 more in succession after that. Goode, Sam Atupem, and Chris Vann had buckets during the run, while Beidler and Cajou made free throws during that stretch.

Quinnipiac cut the lead to two twice during the first half. The first time the Mount responded with a quick 9-1 run and the second time, the Mounties got a Beidler layin just before the halftime horn to lead by four at the break.

MSM started the second half with a 15-4 lead to effectively end the suspense. QU got the lead to eight on one occasion, but was never a threat.

The Mount must now do the rest of the work on the road in this conference tournament and it will not be easy in any fashion. The Mount faces Robert Morris, the conference regular season champ next. The Colonials downed the Mount twice during the regular season and are riding a 14-game winning streak.

The Mount may not have been at its best on Thursday night but still managed to win against a good conference opponent. They will have no such luxury on Sunday. To beat the champ, they must play at their top for 40 minutes.

Yes Championship Week is officially Underway

You may not get a better night of basketball than you got out of the Patriot League last night. John Griffin's (could have been at the Mount) 40-footer sent the Bison into the second round. The shot knocked off number two seed Navy in the third overtime.
You have to love Griffin, an underrecruited kid from Philly, who said afterwards all he was thinking about was getting to play another game.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Patriot was pretty exciting as well. American, the top seed, trailed most of the game, but finally took down Holy Cross and Army clipped Lehigh in overtime while Colgate won by a pair over Lehigh.
If they didn't already call this March Madness, they would have coined the phrase last night.
But we're already onto tonight....and the NEC Quarterfinals. Very much looking forward to the matchup at Knott Arena. The way the Mounties have been playing makes them a favorite and makes me feel comfortable. My one fear is Demario Anderson. The Mount slowed him with Jeremy Goode last time, but I fear what the QU coaching staff may draw up to counter that. It will be interesting. Hopefully, the Mount has an answer if QU counters.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Gettysburg girls march on

Gettysburg (33) Kate Jacobs - Photo courtesy of The Gettysburg Times

The Gettysburg girls defeated Muhlenberg at HersheyPark Arena in the second round of the PIAA-AAA girls basketball tournament this evening. Gettysburg jumped to an 18-7 lead after one quarter and cruised to the 49-31 win tonight.

The Lady Warriors will face West Mifflin in the PIAA Quarterfinal on Saturday at a site to be determined - somewhere between Gettysburg and Pittsburgh likely. - Update: The PIAA has announced the game will be played Saturday afternoon at 4pm at Everett Area High School in Everett, PA. Everett is a straight shot from Gettysburg on Route 30 going west for about 70 miles. There may be a left hand turn in the town somewhere to get to the high school. Everett is also the Warriors. Is that a good or bad omen? Not sure. But I am pretty sure, West Mifflin is pretty good.

Great win for the girls and the program.

Can we say Championship Week has Started?

The results from last night didn't shock anyone. Unless you are a Morehead State fan. Then you might have awaken today a little under the weather. Morehead finished second in the regular season in the OVC but is done as Tennessee State pulled the upset. Now they must wait for a CBI Tourney invite. Don't sit by the phone. Anybody know if that CBI touney is still happening? The Gazelle Group is supposed to put it on, with teams that don't make either the NCAA or NIT field. Can't wait.

Sorry we were late getting this going today. And sincere apologies for not wishing one of my all-time favorite Mountaineers Cliff Warren and his Jacksonville Dolphins, good luck in the A-Sun tourney. The Dolphins had the quarterfinal matinee and dispatched Mercer (remember them from season opening defeat of USC fame). Warren's Dolphins are the #2 seed and have a real chance of winning the conference tournament. We know we'll be rooting for them up north. Belmont plays Campbell in the nightcap tonight. That game is on CSS if you can find it.

The Patriot League also has quarterfinals going on tonight. As expected Holy Cross and Bucknell at opposite ends of the brackets, but not as the #1 and #2 seeds, rather than #7 & #8. That's nuts. Patriot matchups are Holy Cross at American, Army at Lehigh, Bucknell at Navy, and Lafayette at Colgate. My guess is Holy Cross or Bucknell pulls an upset tonight, and I'd expect either American or Navy (whoever survives tonight) to win the auto bid.

Five games also taking place in the Sun Belt, but none involving either of the two teams that could get at-large bids. Denver and New Orleans face off with the winner to play South Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe takes on Middle Tennessee and the winner faces the Troy/Louisiana Lafayette victor, Arkansas State (pre-Nolan) battles North Texas and the winner plays the Hilltoppers, and Florida International tangles with Florida Atlantic with the winner to face Arkansas-Little Rock.

Meanwhile on the bubble.... New Mexico and Virginia Tech notched key wins last night and may both be working their way into the field.

Key games tonight are....
Texas A&M at Baylor - I think both teams are secure, but they can't flail down the stretch

Wyoming at BYU - Cougars could be one of three Mountain West teams

Tennessee at Florida - This would punch Gators ticket, wouldn't it?

Boston College at Miami - Canes keep floating between almost and lock for me.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State - Sooners seem safe, but can't afford these type of defeats.

Mississippi State at Vanderbilt - MSU can move to lock status or close with a win.

South Florida at Villanova - Disaster if Nova loses

UCF at Houston - Cougars can't afford any more slip ups

LaSalle at UMASS - Minutemen sitting pretty at moment

Syracuse at Seton Hall - Orange must finish with flourish

Kentucky at South Carolina - Gallant run by the Cats but maybe running out of steam

Duquesne at Temple - Owls have all of a sudden gotten some respect

Tulsa at UAB - This is the type of game that can only hurt Blazers

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Conference tournament action starts tonight, as three conferences begin postseason action. The Big South and Ohio Valley are both one-bid conferences and follow an eight team tournament field. Meanwhile, the Horizon has ten teams in the field, and basically has two four-team mini tournaments with the winner of those advancing to the semifinals where the conferences top two teams already have berths.

All the action is on campus tonight. In the Big South, Radford takes on co-champ Winthrop, while Charleston Southern travels to UNC-Asheville. The Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina visit High Point. High Point has enough talent to win this tournament, but will have to win the championship on the road, so its not likely and beat both of the co-champs along the way. Meanwhile, VMI and its run-and-gun offense takes on the Flames of Liberty.

In the Ohio Valley Conference, Eastern Kentucky takes on conference winner Austin Peay. Tennessee Tech visits Murray State, while Tennessee State is at Morehead State. In the final matchup, Samford is at Tennessee-Martin.

The Horizon League could be a two-bid league if someone can beat Butler. Butler will wait in Indianapolis for its semifinal opponent. Detroit plays Wright State and Wisconsin-Green Bay plays at Valpo tonight. Whomever emerges from that will play one of the semifinalists. The other mini-pod is Youngstown versus Illinois-Chicago and Loyola at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Most of the television coverage doesn't start until Thursday, so take the next few days and rest up.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Three Wins til Bracketville

The regular season is complete. Robert Morris wears the crown as the NEC regular season champion. That means nothing (other than an NIT bid) should the Colonials falter in one of the NEC Tournament games.

Not every team participates in the Northeast postseason tournament. Banished are the two St. Francis' although (PA) was one of two teams to beat the Colonials and Fairleigh-Dickinson - and the one-two scoring punch of Manny Ubilla and Sean Baptiste.

So now we are left with four first round matchups all played on the higher seed's home floor. The NEC does not have a true tourney bracket and will reshuffle with the top remaining seed playing the lowest remaining seed after one round.

Here are the first round matchups, all scheduled for Thursday evening.

Monmouth #8 (4-14, 7-23) at Robert Morris #1 (16-2, 25-6) - The Colonials enter on the strength of a school record 13 game winning streak. Its last lost was way back on January 13th. If you witnessed NEC basketball this season it is clear that the Colonials are the most polished teams at both ends of the floor. Two seniors Tony Lee and AJ Jackson combine with junior Jeremy Chappell to form a big source of the Colonials production. Lee has had multiple triple-doubles down the stretch. This game is really about the Colonials and whether they continue to play well. The Hawks haven't beaten a team in the field and backed in after falling 81-68 at Mt. St. Mary's on Saturday night, when Manny Ubilla's three-pointer at the Overtime buzzer eliminated the Red Flash of St. Francis (PA). It's the playoffs so anything can happen, but anything short of a rout would be a surprise.

Long Island #7 (7-11, 15-14) at Wagner #2 (15-3, 22-7) - The Blackbirds have spelled trouble for the Seahawks all season. LIU handled Wagner in Brooklyn, the Seahawks first conference loss, early in the year and then nearly won in the return trip to Wagner. The Hawks are coached by NCAA veteran Mike Deane, who has taken three NCAA teams to the Big Dance including Siena, Marquette and Lamar. He hopes to make the Hawks the fourth. Wagner is led by guard Mark Porter, averages 16.2 per night and Durell Vinson who checks in with just over 13. The Blackbirds Jaytornahh Wisseh leads his team with 15 points per night. Nothing I have seen this year would indicate that LIU could surprise. But those two previous results make them tough to ignore.

Central Connecticut State #6 (10-8, 14-15) at Sacred Heart #3 (13-5, 16-15) - Central just finished out the NEC regular season on Sunday afternoon with a 100-87 pasting of this same Sacred Heart team. So is that a good thing or a bad thing? We'll find that out on Thursday, when the defending champs return to Fairfield for another shot at the Pioneers. These two teams played for the title last year, so they have a little tournament history going as well. It took a young Central team awhile to get going this year, but they seem to be clicking on all cylinders late in the year. Sacred Heart was the preseason pick by many to win this conference, so they can't be taken lightly. If I was picking before Sunday, I probably would have taken Central, but that result troubles me. Not sure they can win twice in 5 days in the opponents building. One thing is for sure, Howie will outcoach them.

Quinnipiac #5 (11-7, 15-14) at Mt. St. Mary's #4 (11-7, 15-14) - The only thing seperating these teams and giving the Mount the homecourt advantage was a Mountie 60-59 win over Central way back on December 8th. Quinnipiac split with the Devils, thereby giving the Mount homecourt. The Mount returns from Spring Break today, so the Maniac section could be in full force. If they even remember what that is. Two teams split a pair of games this year, each losing on the opposition's court. MSM lost at Quinnipiac when the Bobcats were playing well and the Mount wasn't. QU returned the favor in Emmitsburg a few Saturdays ago, when the Mount was gaining momentum and the Bobcats were struggling. Freshman guard Jean Cajou has scorched the nets during the final six games that saw the Mount win five times, only losing by three at RMU. Cajou shot 73% during the six games, including 12-of-17 from behind the arc. Quinnipiac is led by the league's leading scorer Demario Anderson. The senior had 21 in the Bobcat win in January. The Mount is playing well right now, and QU seems to be struggling to some extent, finishing with 5 losses in 8 games including that one in Emmitsburg. Plus if the Mount wins, I'll be more apt to want to write the semifinal previews. So take them for a variety of reasons.