There were 19 games in total last night. After suffering my first loss on March 6th or day 3, I was hoping for a great comeback. It went pretty well by going 14-5. That brings the overall to 32-6. I have to admit that I made some of my brackets all the way through rather than going day by day to give predictions on every game. It’s a sticky situation. I’ll work through it to get the best accuracy possible. Lets take a look at the 14 games we have today!
Big South Semifinal
#1 Campbell vs. #4 Gardner-Webb
The Big South conference had 9 of its 11 members win at least 15 games overall. Of those 9, Campbell, Gardner-Webb, and Radford all won at least 20 games. Campbell has won 5 in a row now after the quarterfinals win. Campbell won the only matchup between these teams this year. There was also only 1 game all season that Chris Clemons wasn’t the games leading scorer. I’m riding Clemons, go Camels.
#6 Charleston Southern vs. #2 Radford
I’m putting my reputation on the line here. I’m taking Charleston Southern because they won the most recent game against Radford. I also know that there are a few conferences every year who have a mid to low seed who messes up the higher seeds shot for an auto-bid. I think one of those teams is Charleston Southern. They’ll head to the championship game.
#1 Iona vs. #9 St. Peter’s
Iona has won 7 straight games. That includes a 62-46 victory over St. Peter’s. Iona has won this conference’s tournament the last 3 seasons and earned the auto-bid. Coach Tim Cluess has had the Gaels ready to go. That being said, the last 3 times Iona has won the regular season title ,2014, 2015, and 2012, they DID NOT win the conference tournament. I do believe they have a little more fire power and win this game, regardless.
#2 Canisius vs. #7 Manhattan
Manhattan squeaked out a win last night in a close contest with Fairfield. When you play those tough, close games, it’s sometimes hard to get up and be fully prepared for the next game. That’s what makes the conference tournament’s so amazing. Canisius lost the only matchup between these two teams this season by 5. I think that difference shows up in this game after Manhattan’s long night last night. Canisius moves on.
#1 Loyola-Chicago vs. #9 Valparaiso
Loyola-Chicago is back and thirsty for more. After Cinderella’s slipper fit the foot of the Ramblers and Sister Jean, they came back this season and won the regular season conference title. As a team, they shot 49.7% good enough for 8th in the country. Oddly, this Ramblers team isn’t as good as the 32-6 team they had last season. They are good enough to win their third straight game this season against Valpo and what would be 5th in a row in the total series.
#2 Drake vs. #7 Illinois State
Drake had a great season by winning 23 games. They shot 4% better than Illinois State total this season. However, Illinois State had the blueprint and beat Drake in both meetings this season. I think they’ll ride that blueprint and come up with an upset.
#3 Southern Illinois vs. #6 Northern Iowa
Southern Illinois shot an incredible 47% as a team this season. Northern Iowa didn’t. They shot 42%. Going down the list of stats, Southern Illinois just does everything a little better than Northern Iowa. They beat Northern Iowa once this season and they’ll do it again today.
#4 Missouri State vs. #5 Bradley
Missouri State beat Bradley twice this season. Missouri State shot a little better and averaged 7 steals a game this season. They might not rebound quite as well and I think that will make this one interesting, but Missouri State will move on to the semifinals.
Ohio Valley Semifinal
#1 Belmont vs. #4 Austin Peay
Belmont won 25 games this season. I named them the best mid-major team this season and somebody who you need to have in your big dance bracket. They’ll continue their success and beat Austin Peay like they did once already this season. I don’t know if they’ll score 88 points like they average a night, but you’ll see them in the championship game after the win today.
#2 Murray State vs. #3 Jacksonville State
Ja Morant is currently the ONLY player to EVER average at least 20 points and 10 assists. Murray State has won 9 straight games. Their last loss? Jacksonville State. They’ll avenge that loss and head to the championship game to try and get that auto-bid.
Southern Conference 1st Round
#7 Samford vs. #10 The Citadel
Samford has lost 4 straight games. The Citadel has lost 2 straight games. Their last win was against Samford at home in OT. The season series was split at 1 a piece. It’s actually incredible to see The Citadel’s stats because they score 85 points a night and give up the same amount. That’s A LOT of points. I think Samford avenges the most recent loss and plays a little defense to win this one.
#8 VMI vs. #9 Western Carolina
VMI has won 3 straight games. That includes a win against Western Carolina to start the small run. Overall, VMI went 10-20. Western Carolina went 7-24. It’s weird to see Western Carolina favored slightly to win. I think VMI takes this one in a battle.
West Coast 2nd Round
#6 Santa Clara vs. #7 San Diego
San Diego is a good team that’s overlooked because of poor conference play. When they win this game, they’ll make it to that coveted 20 mark. These teams only played one time way back in early January. San Diego will do all the little things right in this matchup.
#8 Pepperdine vs. #5 Loyola-Marymount
Loyola-Marymount won 20 games this season. They won their last 3 games to get to that point this season. These teams split the season series between them. I’ll take my chances with the higher seeded team in this conference even though we all know who ends up winning this conference.
Will I stay hot? Will I go cold? Day 5 lets see!