UPDATE: 11:14 p.m.
New Mexico State blew out Chicago State to reach the WAC Tournament semifinals and that’s all fine and good but oh boy do you need to see this finish by Johnny McCants.
- Greg Mitchell
UPDATE: 11:10 p.m.
We have a stunner out of the Mountain West tonight. Utah State, who came in as the No. 7 seed in the tournament, stunned No. 2 Boise State. Utah State will face the winner of Wyoming-New Mexico in the semifinals.
For a fair portion of the season, Boise State was an at-large hopeful and seemed to have the best chance of dethroning Nevada atop the conference. That’s no longer the case, however, and the Broncos are likely headed to the NIT. Those games could potentially be the last we see of Chandler Hutchison in a college uniform, as he could potentially be a first round draft pick in the summer.
UPDATE: 10:57 p.m.
Southern Utah is having its way with the Gem State. After getting past Idaho State in the first round, the No. 10 Thunderbirds upset No. 2 Idaho to reach the semifinals. And it was indeed a surprising result, as the second-place, 14-4 Vandals were in the midst of their best season under Don Verlin.
Rough week for Idaho teams pic.twitter.com/QccuS7u8IR— SUU Men's Basketball (@SUUBasketball) March 9, 2018
Yet maybe it wasn’t that surprising. SUU has kept pace with Idaho in both of their games this season, including a two-point loss in Moscow last Saturday. The Thunderbirds got loose yet again — scoring 52 points in the second half — and this time came away with a relatively drama-less win. Junior guard Brandon Better had a career-high 27 points and Jadon Cohee dropped in 20 points as SUU shot nearly 60 percent from the floor.
They’ll now await the winner of Portland State and Eastern Washington as they make their first Big Sky semifinal appearance in program history. On the other side, the Vandals likely will have the CBI/CIT decision to make, which would extend senior Victor Sanders’ incredible career.
- Greg Mitchell
UPDATE: 9:04 p.m.
DOWN GOES 1 SEED MTSU! 8 seed Southern Miss pulls the huge upset in the Conference USA quarterfinals, defeating the two-time defending conference champs. The Golden Eagles come away with the 71-68 win in overtime. Southern Miss will play the winner of Marshall and UTSA. Full story to come.
UPDATE: 8:50 p.m.
Giddy Potts nails a three-pointer for MTSU with under 20 seconds remaining to tie the game at 61-61. Southern Miss tries a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer but falls short. We are headed to overtime in Frisco!
UPDATE: 8:31 p.m.
MTSU has taken the lead late in the game against Southern Miss, 51-49. Southern Miss has led for the majority of the second half. Cortez Edwards for Southern Miss has 18 points, and Nick King leads MTSU with 12 points. Giddy Potts has not scored in the second half.
UPDATE: 8:00 p.m.
In Conference USA action, Marshall has an early double-digit lead, 29-16, against UTSA on Court B. On Court A, MTSU leads Southern Miss by three, 30-27, at the half. Games are being played simultaneously at The Star in Frisco, Texas, the practice facility of the Dallas Cowboys.
Ajdin Penava leads all scorers for Marshall with 10 points and five rebounds. Byron Frohnen leads the Roadrunners with four points. For MTSU, Giddy Potts is the leading scorer for the Blue Raiders with nine points (shooting 3-of-5 from three). Cortez Edwards is keeping the Golden Eagles in the game with 11 points, three rebounds and three assists.
- Will Harris
UPDATE: 7:55 p.m.
And here you thought New Mexico State was the only team from the WAC that could bust your bracket. Save for their brutal opening weekend at Kentucky and Duke, Utah Valley has quietly lived out a very nice season. The Wolverines picked up their 22nd victory after fending off a predictably scrappy effort from CSU Bakersfield in a 81-74 win in the WAC Tournament quarterfinals.
Mark Pope deserves credit for drastically changing his approach this season. He slowed the pace, and produced is a team with scoring threats all over the floor that shares the ball better than anyone in the league. That was on display against the ‘Runners, where Brandon Randolph (7 assists) and UVU racked up 20 assists on 25 made field goals. On the season, it’s added up to a top-65 KenPom offense that’ll now face a Grand Canyon team it split with in the regular season.
And lest you forget, UVU’s KenPom rating (85) has it above teams like Northwestern, Temple, SMU and Vanderbilt. Yes, those are high major disappointments, but they’re also teams that have competed with NCAA Tournament probables at one point or another this year.
Tip the cap to CSU Bakersfield, which says goodbye to do-it-all senior Brent Wrapp (7 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds) and senior forward Shon Briggs (who didn’t play due to injury). Both were instrumental in the ‘Runners rise from 2015-17. Something tells us Rod Barnes will have his team competitive once again next season.
- Greg Mitchell
UPDATE: 6:59 p.m.
Readers of this site and followers of my Twitter account are familiar with my love for spiders and all things entomological. They’re also familiar with how much I love when sports and entomology is intertwined (this does not happen often).
Tonight, I’m witnessing such an intersection as the Richmond Spiders participate in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. During the pregame festivities, something completely astounding and fabulous occurred. Something too good to be true. Something special:
What an incredible world we live in.
UPDATE: 5:41 p.m.
Grand Canyon waited four years for its shot at the WAC Tournament, and nearly went back to spectator status quickly. The Lopes fell behind UMKC 20-4, and though they rallied, remained in a back-and-forth fight with the WAC’s sixth-place team until the very end.
League Freshman of the Year Alessandro Lever had another brilliant game (29 points, 5 rebounds), and GCU did enough to escape with a 77-74 win. This keeps alive their bid to make a splash as a for-profit school in the NCAA Tournament. Oscar Frayer also had a big-time game (13 points, 15 rebounds) while playing his typically-great defense.
Credit to the Roos, which fought all year despite an inexperienced and at times depleted roster. If sophomores Xavier Bishop, Isaiah Ross and Jordan Giles all remain in the program, coupled with a freshmen class thrown in the fire, the bones of a competitive team are there.
- Greg Mitchell
UPDATE: 3:59 p.m.
In slightly significant Mountain West news, UNLV leads Nevada 39-31 at halftime. The Wolf Pack are generally considered to be safe as an at-large team for the NCAA Tournament, but a loss in the quarterfinals of the MWC Tournament could certainly add some stress to Selection Sunday.
Nevada has been stagnant on the offensive end, hitting just 11-38 from the floor in the first half. Brandon McCoy has given them fits on the boards for UNLV, pulling down 11 rebounds and blocking three shots. If you have CBS Sports, keep an eye on this one. It could have huge ramifications for the NCAA Tournament bubble if Nevada goes down.
- Chris Schutte
UPDATE: 2:12 p.m.
Dayton and VCU have traditionally been Atlantic 10 powers for much of the decade, but roster attrition and departures of their head coaches to Power 5 schools had both programs rebuilding this year. However, that did not stop them from playing a competitive game in the second round of the A-10 tournament.
In the 8-9 matchup, it was Dayton who held a 70-65 at the under-4 media timeout. That lead quickly evaporated, and VCU closed the game on a 12-2 run for a 77-72 victory. In his postgame interview, Mike Rhoades proclaimed that the Rams got a “turkey” to win the game, meaning they got three stops in a row down the stretch.
The Rams move on to face the top seeded Rhode Island Rams in the quarterfinals. Rhode Island won the only matchup between the two teams this year, and VCU will have a tall task to keep their streak of seven straight NCAA Tournaments alive.
- Chris Schutte
UPDATE: 1:07 p.m.
Our first update of the day comes not from an afternoon game but from Loyola (Md.), where G.G. Smith has stepped down as head coach, according to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello.
G.G. Smith is stepping down as the head coach at Loyola (MD), sources told ESPN.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 8, 2018
In five years, Smith could not lead the Greyhounds to a winning record, with the team bottoming out this year at a miserable 9-22 and a 324 KenPom rating. It’s another name for our mid-major coaching tracker.
Welcome to the second-best Thursday of the year.
Yup, apart from the first day of the NCAA Tournament, this is as good as it gets for a weekday. From noon to the wee hours of Friday, we will have continuous high-stakes basketball as conference tournaments continue.
On the mid-major side, the Atlantic 10, MAC, Big West, Mountain West, Big Sky, and WAC all have four games apiece today, so you’ll want to stay tuned to our live blog for the latest. We’ll check in throughout the day with highlights, updates, and more, but for now, here’s your watch-guide for a day of no productivity in the office. All times are Eastern.
Atlantic 10 Second Round:
Mountain West Quarterfinals:
Time: 3, 5:30, 9, 11:30
TV: CBS Sports
Twitter follow: @ChrisSchutte3
Big West Quarterfinals:
Time: 3, 5:30, 9, 11:30
TV: Fox Sports Regional Networks
Twitter follow: @kylecajero
Big Sky Quarterfinals:
Time: 3:05, 5:35, 8:35, 11:05
Twitter follow: @ellieliebs
Southland Second Round:
Time: 6 p.m., 8:30 p.m.
Twitter follow: @primetimemitch
Conference USA Quarterfinals: