Mid-Major Morning Mashups: March 12, 2011

Bucknell's manifest destiny run through the Patriot League ended with the BIson hoisting an expected conference championship trophy yesterday.

Xavier falling to Dayton? Now that was unexpected to be sure. But the Musketeers can rest easy, they won't have to stress over the bubble in a little more than 24 hours, just think about how high that final seed could have been had they survived until Championship Saturday in Atlantic City. 

Then there's that Jimmer guy, don't worry, we have a whole Mashups edition just for him today. 

On to the rest.

Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer: "Now, Xavier waits. After being bounced by ninth-seeded Dayton in a 68-67 Atlantic 10 Championship quarterfinal Friday at Boardwalk Hall, the top-seeded Musketeers returned home to await their NCAA Tournament fate. It was a sobering reality for an XU team that intended to capture the championship and watch the CBS Selection Sunday show in Atlantic City. Coach Chris Mack wasn't surprised the Muskies rallied from an 18-point deficit in a thriller that came down to the final seconds. He was just disappointed XU couldn't finish the game. "I think one of the positives was that we were able to bounce back and be a resilient team," Mack said. "At the end of the day it's still an ‘L' and we have to make sure that we understand that when the NCAA Tournament starts, that'll be the last game if that's the case. But I like my group, and we've just got to get ready for Thursday and Friday.'"

Michael McGarry of the Press Of Atlantic City: "The Temple University men's basketball team watched the top seeds lose Friday afternoon during the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament quarterfinals at Boardwalk Hall. The Owls heeded the warning of those upsets. Second-seeded Temple sank 10-of-19 3-point attempts and beat 10th-seeded La Salle 96-76 Friday night. Temple, ranked No. 24 by The Associated Press, meets third-seeded Richmond in the semifinals at approximately 3:30 p.m. today. Temple (25-6) seeks its fourth straight A-10 championship. "We're thrilled to have won the game," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "It was a fast-paced game. It was just one of those games where we had to find a way to get more points."

Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "The old Duquesne, the one that won 11 consecutive games earlier this season, made an appearance Friday at Boardwalk Hall. The fast-paced offense, the stifling full-court press and turnover-forcing double teams, the points off turnovers, it was all there. Saint Joseph's was patient, though. It waited until it found holes in the defense. Then took advantage of them. The No. 12-seeded Hawks made two open dunks, one with one second left in regulation and one in overtime, and won, 93-90, against No. 4 seed Duquesne in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament, sending Duquesne home after one tournament game for the second consecutive year. The Dukes (18-12) lost seven of their final nine games after starting the season 16-5. Saint Joseph's (11-21), which beat No. 5 George Washington in the first round Tuesday, adjusted to Duquesne's defense, slowed the pace of the game and found opportunities. "At the end of the day, we maybe got beat by a better team today," Dukes coach Ron Everhart said."

Rick Dandes of the Daily Item: "Let the madness begin. March Madness, that is. The Bucknell University men's basketball team is the Patriot League champion for the third time after defeating Lafayette 72-57 Friday afternoon in a tense, closer-than-expected game played before a raucous, ear-splitting, standing-room-only crowd of more than 4,000 howling fanatics at Sojka Pavilion. As the Patriot champion, Bucknell (25-8) automatically qualifies for its fifth NCAA tournament - it was league champion in a previous conference twice - which begins next week. When, where and who the Bison play will be decided by a tournament committee and announced at 6 p.m. Sunday on CBS-TV.

Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal: "The law of averages, baby. "People back in Memphis laughed at me for saying it," said Memphis coach Josh Pastner. Nobody's laughing now. Not after the Tigers bombed in 10 3-pointers, including three each from Joe Jackson and Charles Carmouche. Not after Jackson went for 18 in the first half and 24 for the game, looking for all the world like he was back in the state tournament at Murfreesboro. Not after the Tigers advanced to this morning's championship game with a rollicking, feel-good 76-56 win over East Carolina. "I believe we're starting to peak at the right time," said Pastner. I believe we should start listening to the man."

Bill Knight of the El Paso Times: "A berth in the finals was at stake. A bid to the NCAA Tournament was on the line. A season was floating out there on the brink. Tulsa led UTEP 28-27 at the half, simply mugging the Miners on the boards. The Golden Hurricane came out for the second half, shot a few shots and got ready for the final 20 minutes. The time was winding down, one minute to go until the start of the final fateful half. Still no Miners. Finally, finally, UTEP came down the tunnel, just under 30 seconds before it was time to begin the final 20 minutes. No time to shoot, no time to warm up, no time to stretch. Just huddle and go. And they did go. UTEP worked and worked and worked some more, taking over the game and grinding out a 66-54 victory over Tulsa today in the semifinals of the Conference USA Men's Basketball Tournament, earning a spot in today's finals against Memphis ... one step from the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament."

Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union Tribune: "San Diego State beat UNLV 74-72 in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament on a tear-drop jumper in the lane with 4.9 seconds left by D.J. Gay. Did you expect anyone else to take it? Did you expect anyone else to make it? After breaking up UNLV's lob play with the score tied, the Aztecs got the ball to Gay and got out of the way. The shot was slightly different, but the scenario was eerily similar to the Feb. 2 game at Colorado State, when the Rams tied it late and Gay dribbled the length of the floor without passing to score the dramatic winner. SDSU coach Steve Fisher didn't call timeout then. He didn't call a timeout Friday night. "Coach Fisher made it clear that he wasn't going to use a timeout," Gay said. "He told me to get the ball, call for a ball screen and make something happen. They had been playing ball screens pretty hard all night. I knew if I faked right and went left they would bite on it most likely."

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