BracketBusters Saturday: Your Commentary
Northern Iowa 71, Old Dominion 62
The Panthers won their second straight without center Jordan Egleseder, knocking off the Monarch in Cedar Falls behind a 23-point night from Ali Farokhmanesh. Farokhmanesh hit five of nine shots from behind the arc and Kwadzo Ahelegbe added ten points. Gerald Lee led the Monarchs with 19 points but it wasn't enough to prevent ODU's first loss in the BracketBusters event.
Iona 69, William & Mary 53
The Gaels dealt the Tribe's at-large hopes a serious blow with a thorough beating in New Rochelle. Scott Machado led three Iona players in double figures with 17 points while Alejo Rodriguez and Jonathan Huffman added twelve apiece. David Schneider scored 17 to lead William & Mary but as a team they shot just 36.2% from the field.
Nine televised games to be had on the ESPN family of networks with Siena and Butler kicking things off at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The most important player for the Saints if they're to win: shooting guard Clarence Jackson, who slid into the spot vacated by the graduation of Saints great Kenny Hasbrouck. When the Marlton, NJ native is on he can hit just about any shot in the gym but when he isn't Siena lacks one offensive weapon with the ability to be the ultimate "trump card". He will most certainly be tested by Shelvin Mack and with the two teams matching up well at the other positions this one likely determines the outcome. Also, keep an eye on Matt Howard's foul count. The Bulldogs got into trouble early in the year when he got into foul trouble and with Siena using three different players to guard him he's got to stay on the floor.
The final game of the night is also an intriguing affair with Wichita State taking on Utah State in one of the nation's best environments (which should be noted when looking at Saint Mary's since they won there). The Shockers still have the stigma of losing to previously winless Evansville a short time back, likely tossing away their at-large hopes in the process. A win in Logan would most certainly put them back into the conversation if not move them just short of "lock" status. But they'll have to deal with the tandem of forward Tai Wesley and point guard Jared Quayle, two of the best players out west. If Wichita State is to win they'll need to value the basketball and keep their heads on a swivel defensively; Stew Morrill's team runs an offensive system with enough sets to make NFL offensive coordinators jealous.
As for games not part of the televised portion of the event there are some intriguing matchups as well. Fairfield visits Vermont in a matchup of two teams that could very well make runs in their respective conference tournaments. Ed Cooley's Stags do as good a job as anyone at shrugging off injuries and simply competing; add in one of the best freshmen in America in guard Derek Needham and you have a team that's given Siena a hard time in both of their meetings. Mike Lonergan's Catamounts are a contender in America East thanks in large part to the conference's best player, forward Marqus Blakely. This should be one of the better games of the day despite the fact that it won't be televised nationally. Some have the ability to improve their at-large profiles while others are simply in need of a confidence-boosting win going into their league tournament, which should make for an entertaining day of basketball.
11a ESPN2 Siena at Butler
Noon ESPNU Morgan St at Murray St
1p ESPN2 Louisiana Tech at Northeastern
3p ESPN2 Nevada at Missouri St
4p ESPNU Akron at VCU
8p ESPN2 College of Charleston at George Mason
8p ESPNU Western Carolina at Kent St
10p ESPNU New Mexico St at Pacific
11:59p ESPN2 Wichita St at Utah St
2p Fairfield at Vermont
2p Buffalo at Saint Peter's
3:05p Western Michigan at Southern Illinois
4p Wright St at Ohio
4p Rider at Hofstra
5:05p Morehead St at Illinois St
7p Winthrop at Eastern Kentucky
8p Niagara at Milwaukee
8p Indiana St at Green Bay
8:05p Drexel at Bradley
8:30p Oral Roberts at Austin Peay
9p San Jose St at Montana St
10:30p UC Santa Barbara at Fresno St
Louisiana Tech over Northeastern: The Bulldogs nearly left Utah State with a win earlier this week; Kerry Rupp's team has one of the best tandems in the WAC in guard Kyle Gibson and forward Magnum Rolle. They will be tested by a Northeastern squad led by Matt Janning and Chaisson Allen but they've got the mettle required to win on the road in an unfamiliar environment. Bulldogs by four.