Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hilltoppers Tame Jaguars

Congratulations to Western Kentucky, who won the Sun Belt championship last night defeating South Alabama 64-56 in a battle of two NCAA Tournament teams from last season. A.J. Slaughter had 18 points to lead the Hilltoppers back from a second half deficit. The Hilltoppers had been up by as many as 15 points in the first half before the Jaguars came back to take a second half lead. This is Western Kentucky's 21st appearance in the dance and their second year in a row.

Last year, Western Kentucky went to the sweet 16 after defeating fellow mid majors Drake and San Diego in the first two rounds. The Hilltoppers are one of the few teams with a win over highly ranked Louisville this season, defeating the Cardinals at "neutral site" Freedom Hall.

Meanwhile the MAC tournament got under way as Akron, Kent State, Ohio, and Central Michigan all won first round games. For you MAC fans keeping score that's the MAC East division with three wins and the MAC West with one win in the first round. Unfortunately for the MAC West, it was cannibalization as Central Michigan beat fellow West Division team Eastern Michigan. For those of you who don't know, check the Mid American Standings and now you will be in on the joke that is the MAC West Division.

If you are asking me to pick a winner in the MAC, well folks the MAC has been wackier than the CAA, if that is all possible this season. You had five teams in the East division within a game of each other from first place. So you could put those five teams in a hat and pick a winner from there and be just as accurate. However, I think unlike VCU, who held up as chalk during the conference tournament, I think you're going to get a sleeper out of here. And I'll take Kent State, a team that has won eleven of its last thirteen games, and has veteran tourney experience in Al Fisher and Chris Singletary to lead them to another 20 win season and to the big dance again.

March Madness claimed another victim last night in the Big Sky as #1 seed Weber State, who had lost only one game in conference all year lost to Montana State, who was 6-10 in conference this season, 70-61 in the Big Sky semifinals. However, Montana State was the only team to beat the Wildcats in conference during the regular season. This means our old friend, Portland State with the great Jeremiah Dominguez has a chance to go dancing for the second season in a row after they knocked off Idaho State in the other semi.

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