Shame on those on the east coast who missed the Gonzaga/St. Mary's game last night. It was basketball at it's finest and there's no doubt in my mind that both squads are among the top 68 in the country. I know that sleep is precious, but so is a good basketball game. I'm a junkie when it comes to the bubble and the RPI and the various factors determining a team's worth. Sometimes those numbers don't tell the whole story. Gonzaga and St. Mary's pass the eye test for me. When I watch both of these teams, I see two squads who could win a game or two in the tournament. Gonzaga has tested themselves out of conference and has beaten some very good teams in Xavier and Baylor. St. Mary's may not have the wins, but they have the talent to belong. Now I know that doesn't mean squat when it comes to selecting teams, but to me it should matter.
Do we really need the 11th team out of the Big East or the 6th out of the mediocre Big 10? I'd rather put in a 3rd from the A-10 or a 3rd from the CAA. I understand that the Big East is a deep conference with 87 teams, but just because they beat one or two of their conference competitors doesn't mean that they belong. Ironically, the biggest memories to me from the tourney involve some of the smaller teams. How about Valpo's miracle or Eric Maynor's "Dagger"? What about the run by Butler last year? The mid-majors may not be sexy, but they give us the memories we need.
I also want to spend a moment to congratulate Centenary who won their first game of the season. It's got to be ridiculous to deal with the burden of a winless season. I could tell you after a winless season of dodgeball that it got hard to show up week after week to get battered by dodgeballs. Now, that's obviously different then college basketball, but the premise is the same. Ask the Cavaliers how they felt during their losing streak. Those kids are going to be on cloud nine for the next week or so. Congratulations to them!
Friday night slates are usually a dead time for me considering it's just the Ivy League and MAAC playing. The Horizon League has one game with two teams wrapping up their regular season. Hard to believe this year is almost over. Seems like we just got started with everyone 0-0. Anyways, here's Friday's winner.
Wright State/Detroit Over 138.5 -- The final regular season games for both Wright State and Detroit tip off on Friday night. Wright State has scored over 70 points in four of their last five home games with the other being a 69 point output. They've managed to find their groove despite averaging only 64.6 points per game this season. The Raiders are led by Vaughn Duggins (17.7 ppg), N'Gai Evans (14.3 ppg) and Troy Tabler (11.6 ppg). Detroit meanwhile loves to play up and down games. They score 73.8 points per game while giving up 72.4. The Titans have five players who can fill it up scoring at least 10 points per game with Jason Calliste (8.5 ppg) on the outside looking in. They have allowed at least 80 points on the road in four of their last seven contests. They've also put up 70 points in those same road games as well. This one has shootout written all over it.