Joel knows Austin Peay took a giant step towards winning the Ohio Valley Conference championship by beating second place Samford on the road 52-50. The Governors now have a three game lead on Samford with just four conference games remaining. Drake Reed and Fernandez Lockett scored 31 of the team’s 52 points and Austin Peay is just one win away from clinching a berth in one tournament or another.
Joel knows Central Connecticut State had a similar win against Quinnipiac. CCSU beat Quinnipiac for the second time in less than two weeks on Saturday and now stands 12-1 in Northeast Conference play. The Bobcats are in second place, but at 9-5 it will take a miracle for Quinnipiac to win the conference, or for Central Connecticut State to lose it.
Joel knows Ohio isn’t the best team in the MAC and Northern Illinois isn’t the worst, but that is what the RPI said heading into the weekend. Yet, when Northern Illinois headed to Athens, most still did not expect a close game. Despite committing 23 turnovers, the Huskies held off a late Ohio run to surprise the Bobcats 81-74.
Joel knows San Diego State isn’t out of the running yet. The Aztecs have already taken their lumps by losing to the top three teams in the conference on the road. They beat Air Force at home this week and have UNLV and BYU still to come. Not only can the Aztecs still get an NCAA Tournament berth, they can still win the Mountain West Conference title. With UNLV, Air Force and BYU all in the top 25 of the RPI, there are tons of opportunities for San Diego State to pick up some quality wins. And that means the MWC could end up with four teams dancing.
Joel knows it must be stressful being an Oklahoma State fan. The Cowboys went to double overtime against Texas Tech over the weekend, making it a total of eight overtime periods for the Cowboys on the season. It may be stressful, but it at least it ends well. Oklahoma State has won all four of their games that have gone to an extra session, or two, or three.
Joel knows Mississippi’s stay at the top of the SEC West could last longer than one would expect. Every team left on their schedule is beatable, but trips to Arkansas and Alabama could quickly turn back the tide on the Rebels. However, Ole Miss has beaten Arkansas and Alabama at home already this season and nothing in the SEC West can be considered surprising at this point.
Joel knows the Big Ten bubble teams didn’t help their cause on Saturday. The Big Ten really has five teams on the bubble (Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue). Illinois, Iowa and Purdue all had good showings against the big three in the conference, but moral victories won’t get them into the NCAA Tournament. Michigan State took a much need weekend off and Michigan was the lone bubble squad to take on a lower level team. Yet, the Wolverines struggled to put away Minnesota on their home floor en route to a pedestrian 82-80 victory and they’ll need to play better to get wins with Michigan State, Indiana and Illinois coming up.
Joel knows Butler might not even win the Horizon. And with the second round and semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament at the #1 seed’s home court and the championship at the highest remaining seeds floor, the battle for the #1 seed is a big, big deal, well at least for Wright State. Wright State knocked off Butler 77-65 on Saturday to take a half game lead in the standings. Assuming both teams win out and finish at 14-2, and the schedule does favor WSU over Butler in that regard, the tie-breaker would come down to who is having a more disappointing season…Illinois Chicago or Wisconsin Milwaukee. The battle for seventh place has never been so interesting. The Horizon tie-breaker goes down the standings and compares the two tied teams with each team in order of finish. WSU lost to UWM and Butler lost to UIC, thus if UIC finishes ahead of UWM, Wright State gets the #1 seed, and if UWM finishes ahead of UIC, Butler gets the #1 seed. And there is more, if UIC and UWM tie in the standings, we go to the RPI. Confused yet? At the moment, UWM and UIC are both 5-8 and they do play each other on February 21st in Chicago...which is good news for Wright State. I think.
Joel knows not why anybody bothers to play in, or watch, the Pro Bowl. I miss football and all, but that won’t hit me until April. And college football starts just 150 days after the national championship game. That is 201 days from today if you are keeping track.