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Mid-Major Bubbles

I don’t know about little brothers. According to my six-year-old niece, “they’re annoying,” and my older sister tends to concur. I think the NCAA’s “power six” conferences feel that way about the mid-major schools a lot too (especially after Butler’s run a year ago).

Wichita St. (23-6, 14-3): Nice team with some decent non-c wins over the likes of Virginia, LSU, Tulsa, and in conference at Northern Iowa, and at Indiana St. They lost at home to fellow bubble members Missouri St., and VCU, and have a bad home loss to Southern Illinois. The last week of the MVC regular season sees the teams (WSU-MSU) tied for first play on the final day of action before the tournament.

Having gone to school at Drake (6-10, 12-16) I have a nice connection to the Missouri Valley. My Bulldogs have had another rough year and watching Keno flounder at Providence has only slightly quelled the pain of another losing year. I would think Drake would be a good place to go if you were a basketball player. I’ll save my recruiting pitch for another time

Missouri St. (21-7, 13-3): The Bears’ biggest win unfortunately for them was that win in Wichita. They split with both UNI and Indiana St., lost both games against “Power 6” teams Oklahoma St. and Tennessee, and got blown out in the bracket buster at Valparaiso. It seems like they will need to win out to get in, yes that means the conference tournament too.

What a way to lose Michigan. Wow, I thought being a Minnesota fan was brutal. That was the most deflating way to go out since Roy Munson lost his hand.

Colorado St. (18-9, 8-5): Is this team riding the coattails of this conference’s inflated RPI and SOS because of the two top-ten teams at the top? Yes, yes they are. The best wins for this team have been a neutral site win over Ole Miss and a win at UNLV (a game they just nullified with their loss at home against the Rebels) and they lost at home to Sam Houston St. The loss tonight to BYU could be the second of potentially four down the stretch as they still go to Air Force and San Diego St.

Damn. Best game on is Kansas St. at Nebraska right now and there is a woman doing color.

Butler (20-9, 12-5): The runners-up from a year ago have struggled to live up to the ridiculous preseason hype that surrounded them. They’ve had a couple of bad losses versus Evansville in non-conference and at Youngstown St. in the Horizon. Good wins over some power 6 teams, the way they are finishing the season (6 straight wins, will be 7 when they beat Loyola on Saturday), and a little name recognition will help the Bulldogs get in.

Virginia Commonwealth (21-9, 12-5): Tough loss on the road to Drexel tonight and that now makes three straight within the conference. With losses to fellow bubble dwellers UAB and Richmond, and a really bad loss at Georgia St. the Rams will have to win the Colonial tournament to get in on Selection Sunday.

Alabama-Birmingham (19-7, 9-4): Speaking of the Blazers, for the co-leader in Conference USA (is that really something to brag about?) it will probably come down to a big game next week at Southern Miss. Win that you probably finish the regular season avenging an earlier home loss, winning four straight heading into the conference tourney as either a one or two seed, and they probably sneak in. Lose that game and they’ll need to go out and get the automatic bid.

Some shocking/bad losses tonight: Kentucky at Arkansas, Michigan vs Wisconsin, Georgetown vs Cincinnati, Boston College vs Miami, Florida St. at Maryland (blow out), Nebraska vs Kansas St. Watched the Husker loss, not the most exciting finish and the officials seemed like they wanted to take over the game once in a while, really annoying. Nebraska missed a ton of free throws down the stretch, just as they did when they let Texas back in on Saturday. I would hate to have Frank Martin as my head coach. What a dick.

Southern Mississippi (21-6, 9-4): I wonder how Larry Eustachy has adjusted to keeping his Natty Ice cooled down now that he is down in the sweltering Mississippi coast (just couldn’t help it). Anyway, the game against UAB is big (obviously) for the Golden Eagles as well, but they should fear the finale too, a road trip to tricky Tulsa. Think they also need a sweep to even have a hint of an at-large bid.

Tough OT win for UNLV tonight, liked how the MWC refs swallowed their whistles toward the end of the game, very un-Big 12 referee like.

Richmond (21-7, 10-3): Love the nickname, hate the loss to Iona. Love the colors, hate the loss to Georgia Tech. Love the win over Purdue, hate the loss to Bucknell. If they can close out the season with three straight wins to finish with 24 wins and ten games over .500 in the A-10, they should be in. If not, they’ll have to do some serious damage in the conference tourney.

Cleveland St. (23-6, 12-4): Norris Cole is averaging over 21 PPG and is leading this team to a number one seed in the Horizon League Tournament, however they have no quality wins and have struggled as of late (losing 3 in their last 5). They’ll need to take Butler down in the final to get in.

Gonzaga (19-9, 9-3): Yes they’re still a mid-major, they play in the WCC. They’ve been rolling along in the WCC too, winning six straight to go with their quality non-conference wins over Marquette and Baylor. They have a big game at St. Mary’s Thursday night and if they can get that W, they probably wont have to worry about how they do in the conference tournament.

That’s enough for now.

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