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Mid-Major Morning Mashups: March 6, 2011

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The steady flow of championship week which has slowly matriculated into the national conscious reach the point of no return yesterday. The dam is at its breaking point as regular season schedule wrapped around the country, the first automatic bids were handed out and fans are suddenly faced with the unhappy task of deciding which games to DVR with a surplus of overlap. 

So busy were the day's activities, it was entirely possible to go the entire afternoon channel surfing through games without broaching the subject of Duke vs. North Carolina Version 2011, Edition 2.0. 

The schedule offered a full array of tempting toss ups, from scores in the WAC that leave us doing double takes, to final results in the MAAC that a year ago would have blown the minds of fans from Niagara to Loyola. 

Wichita State was "shocked", VCU escaped and some guy named Jenkins had his 23rd 20-point game of the season. All in all, just another championship week Friday. 


Teresa M. Walker of the Associated Press: "Morehead State found one more way for senior center Kenneth Faried and senior guard Demonte Harper to play a tough opponent on a neutral court. The Eagles won the Ohio Valley Conference tournament and an automatic berth in the NCAAs. Harper had 27 points and 11 rebounds playing in his hometown, while Faried notched his 27th double-double with 24 points and 15 rebounds, and Morehead State beat Tennessee Tech 80-73 on Saturday night. "No one would play us because of Faried and Harper, so I had a hard time getting games," said Morehead State coach Donnie Tyndall, whose Eagles lost road trips to Florida and Ohio State...With his latest double-double, Faried now ranks tied for second all-time in that category with Ralph Sampson (84) and just behind leader Tim Duncan (87)."

Ryan Young of the Sun News: "For the second straight season, Coastal Carolina watched another team celebrate on its home floor as it fell one win shy of clinching a long-awaited NCAA tournament berth for the program.
UNC Asheville turned a four-point lead with less than two minutes remaining into a 60-47 victory to win the Big South tournament and punch its own NCAA tourney ticket while cutting down the nets in what could be the final basketball game at Kimbel Arena. The Chants, meanwhile, were left to deal with the sting of coming up just short again."

Mark Schlabach of"The most dangerous NCAA tournament first-round opponent for college basketball's heavyweights has a 30-4 record and has lost one game since Christmas Day. The Belmont Bruins, who scared the you-know-what out of mighty Duke in the first round of the 2008 NCAA tournament, is going back to the Big Dance for the fourth time in six seasons. The top-seeded Bruins blasted No. 6 seed North Florida 87-46 in the Atlantic Sun tournament championship game at University Center on Saturday night, becoming the second team to punch its ticket to the NCAA tournament. And the Nashville school with about 5,900 students, which counts country singers Vince Gill and Amy Grant among its biggest fans, might be a legitimate threat to get past the first round this time."

Tim Pearrell of the Richmond Times-Dispatch: "Some of Jamie Skeen's teammates on the Virginia Commonwealth University basketball team leave the impression that time isn't always of the essence for the 6-9 forward. He's a relaxed, go-with-the-flow kind of guy off the basketball court. So with the game - and perhaps VCU's season - down to less than a second Saturday, Skeen took all the time he needed before delivering. His buzzer-beating inside basket gave the Rams a tense 62-60 victory over Drexel, a morale boost and a spot in semifinals of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament at the Richmond Coliseum. 'We ended the season not so hot," Skeen said of VCU's 1-4 record down the stretch. "This is a new start. We can change it all right here if we just win two more games.'"

Ron Chimelis of The Republican: "Welcome to the pits. The Atlantic 10 Conference men's basketball standings say the University of Massachusetts finished eighth among 14 teams. But after Saturday's 77-73 loss at Fordham, the Minutemen are playing like the league's worst team. They still get a first-round home game in the A-10 tournament, on Tuesday night against Dayton. But they certainly didn't earn it."

Mark Emmert of the Des Moines Register: "They were 11 role players in search of a director. And look at the stage Greg Lansing has put them on now. Indiana State is making its first trip to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title game in 10 years after wearing down Wichita State in a 61-54 victory Saturday at the Scottrade Center. And Lansing, the first-year head coach and Harlan native, has orchestrated it all. 'We don't have the bells and whistles that everyone does,' Lansing said. 'But it's a place that basketball's very important. ... And it's only going to get better.'"

John Bena of SB Nation Cleveland: "The Cleveland State Vikings are done in the Horizon League Tournament, with only slim hopes remaining that they get an at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament next Sunday. For the third time this season, the Vikings lost to the Butler Bulldogs, this time on a neutral court 76-68. Cleveland State never could get over the hump in a game that Butler led wire-to-wire. Norris Cole scored 24 points to lead the Vikings, who shot just 41.5% from the field. The Vikings were really done in by their poor 3-point shooting - 3-14, 21.4% - which has been the case during most of their losses this season."

Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Tribune: "The baskets in Viejas Arena no longer have nets. One after another, the San Diego State players climbed an orange ladder with a pair of scissors and cut off a section of white, nylon net. Then came the staff. Then university president Stephen Weber. Then Coach Steve Fisher. Ascending from a sea of jubilant students into a swirl of red and white confetti, smiling, waving, pumping a fist, opening the scissors, then hearing the sweet sound of success. Snip, snip, snip. Technically it was to celebrate a Mountain West Conference co-championship after Saturday night's 66-48 win against Colorado State put the ninth-ranked Aztecs into a first-place tie with BYU at 14-2. But really, it was more than that. The love-fest in Viejas Arena was for a magical season, for a dedicated group of seniors, for a team, for a university, for a city. And for glorious possibility."

Peter May of the New York Times: "The Ivy League champion has yet to be determined, but in a packed and raucous Lavietes Pavilion on Saturday, there was still cause for celebration for Harvard and its long-suffering followers. Harvard, which is the only Ivy League team to have never won a league championship in men's basketball, defeated Princeton, 79-67, to cap a 14-0 season at home and clinch at least a tie for the league title."