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My big weekend wrapup: This is (almost) March

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This was the last full weekend of conference play for some teams. Here’s what we learned.

NCAA Basketball: South Dakota State at Wichita State Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The end of the season is approaching way too quickly. Seriously. It feels like just yesterday we were talking about the College Hoops Marathon, the Silver Sword, and how much we hate finals week.

There is, however, one silver lining to this unfair and rapid passage of time: CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK!

Yes, my friends, it is coming. The Atlantic Sun finishes its regular season on Thursday, with a bunch more wrapping things up this coming weekend. So, with one of the final regular season weekends in the books, here’s where we stand:

Stock Rising:

Grand Canyon: Just when you thought you knew the WAC. Dan Majerle’s team sits a game back of New Mexico State (who they just beat) for second place and two back of Bakersfield for first place. It’s a shame the ‘Lopes aren’t eligible for the NCAA Tournament yet, though I have a feeling they’ll get there soon enough.

Penn: Just because the Quakers aren’t Ivy League favorites doesn’t mean they can’t wreak havoc and potentially steal a spot in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament. Penn beat Columbia last week to stay relevant in the conference, then upset Yale over the weekend to move into a tie for fourth. Just a reminder that the conference tournament is on the Quakers’ home court…

South Dakota: The Coyotes followed their statement sweep at North Dakota State and Fort Wayne last week with a pair of home wins against South Dakota State and Oral Roberts. The significance? South Dakota has moved into a tie for first place in the Summit League with just two games to go. Summit League play wraps up on Saturday.

UT Arlington: The Mavericks are back! The Mavericks are back! They’ve beaten the Mid-Major Madness Curse! Maybe. We have another story coming about them this week, so we expect them to drop a few down the stretch. Until then, though, Arlington is a half-game up in the Sun Belt.

Stock Falling:

Columbia: The casualty of Penn’s rise in the Ivy seems to be Columbia, who has lost four in a row and is in danger of coughing up a chance at the conference tournament. KenPom projects the Lions to split their remaining four games, which may only be enough if one of those wins is against the Quakers at home on Saturday.

Loyola Chicago: Remember a few weeks ago when the Ramblers were the dark horse possibility to go crazy at Arch Madness? Well, since then they’ve lost five out of six and have fallen below .500 in the Valley. They’re also looking up at Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa in the standings, as the Panthers have emerged as the biggest threat to the two powers in the league, Wichita State and Illinois State.

St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies have alternated wins and losses since late January, and while that’s not horrible, it’s eliminated any hope they had at an at-large bid. St. Bonaventure still does not have a KenPom top 100 win this season and their last three losses have come by a combined 10 points. Brutal.

Team of the Weekend (by GameScore):

G Ryan Jones, UMass-Lowell: GmSc 31.4 | 32 pts | 7 ast | 5 rbd | 9-13 FG
G Will Darley, UMBC: GmSc 33.2 | 38 pts | 3 ast | 10-12 3PT
G Ian Baker, New Mexico State: GmSc 33.3 | 36 pts | 7 ast | 4 rbd | 11-13 FT
F Mike Daum, South Dakota State: GmSc 39.8 | 51 pts | 15 rbd | 7-18 3PT
F Jordan Washington, Iona: GmSc 31.4 | 38 pts | 10 rbd | 2 stl | 14-17 FT

Look at these buzzer beaters:

Yeah, we’ve already covered these, but I’ve never once heard an argument against watching buzzer beaters over and over, so TO THE FUN BELT WE GO!

First, here’s Erick Neal, determined to win the game for UT Arlington despite being 30 feet from the basket with a man in his face.

Now here’s Johnathan Stove, giving Louisiana a win from half court.

Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Look at this buzzer beater that didn’t count but omg it’s insane:

Somehow, the buzzer beaters above were not the best buzzer beaters of the weekend. The best one didn’t even count. Just look at this.

Give the man his points. Come on. The officials determined that Micah Bradford didn’t get the shot off in time, and even if he had, it wouldn’t have counted because the ball hit the top of the shot clock. To that I say, rules shmules.

At-large watch:

In: Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, Dayton, VCU
Bubble: Wichita State, Illinois State, Middle Tennessee, UNC Wilmington
Work left to do: Vermont, Akron, Nevada, UT Arlington

The reality is that there’s probably nothing Vermont can do to better its case for an at-large bid. That said, the Catamounts should be a sexy upset pick if they win the America East.

Following a weekend loss to Kent State, Akron may be in the same position. The Zips have a gaudy win-loss record but no quality wins to speak of.

Arlington has quality wins at Texas and Saint Mary’s, but I’m not sure how far they can take those with a few ugly losses on the schedule as well. Moral of the story: win your conference and you don’t have to worry about any of that.

Your weekly mid-major play set to the Titanic music:

It’s always nice when the schools get in on the fun. Delaware’s Ryan Daly hit the game-winner for the Blue Hens last Thursday, giving them a 68-67 win over Drexel. Here’s the play, set to the Titanic music.

Unbeaten watch:

Two games stand between Gonzaga and an undefeated regular season. The Bulldogs took care of Pacific at home on Saturday behind 18 points and seven assists from Nigel Williams-Goss, and are off until Thursday when they travel to San Diego.

This week: at San Diego (Thurs.), vs. BYU (Sat.)
KenPom’s unbeaten probability: 97.0%

Read this!

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Taking a cue from its coach, Vermont grinds to historic winning streak

Three-day weekend:

UT Arlington at Georgia Southern, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3
Texas State at Georgia State, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3

Fire up your second screen tonight, because the #FunBelt has two key games tipping off at the same time. Georgia Southern can’t afford a home loss if it wants a realistic shot at the regular season title, but to stay in the race, the Eagles have to beat first-place UT Arlington. After that, it’s three-straight road games to end their schedule.

As for Texas State and Georgia State, they sit within a half game of each other and lurk within striking distance of the top three in the league. Both will finish with mostly road games.