> SOUTHERN INDIANA — According to the most recent bracketologies, the Colonial Athletic Association is deserving of just one NCAA Tournament bid.
Hasn’t the CAA proven that it deserves the benefit of the doubt from the selection committee?
According to the most recent RPI, the Colonial is the 15th-best conference in the country.
Shouldn’t we know better by now?
In the past six years, two different CAA teams have made runs to the Final Four as 11 seeds: George Mason in 2006, and of course, Virginia Commonwealth a year ago.
Many argued that VCU didn’t belong last year before its magical run to Houston. The Rams finished fourth in the Colonial before going on a run that included double-digit wins over USC, Georgetown, No. 13 Purdue and No. 1 Kansas.
After winning the CAA regular-season title, George Mason also won its first-round tourney game a year ago, beating Villanova. And Old Dominion fell to Butler on Matt Howard’s tip-in at the buzzer in the NCAA opening round. Of course, things could have played out differently, but Howard’s tip-in may have been the only thing standing between an all-Colonial national semifinal.
So why isn’t the CAA getting any love?
Drexel and GMU are currently on top of the league standings are 14-2. Drexel has won 15 in a row and 21 of its last 22. The Patriots have won five straight, 11 of 12 and 16 of their last 18. After what the CAA has done over the past half-decade, how can either of these teams be kept out of the tournament?
VCU is a game back of the Dragons and Patriots. The Rams have won 12 of their last 13 games with the only loss coming when George Mason’s Sherrod Wright hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer on Feb. 14. This is a team that deserves to play in the NIT?
What would you rather see in the tournament, Mississippi State or Seton Hall getting pounded in the first or second round? Or would you rather see George Mason, VCU and Drexel get a shot at making magic again?
Hasn’t the Colonial earned the benefit of the doubt from the selection committee?
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
• Drew Gordon, New Mexico senior forward: Gordon scored 17 points and snatched 17 boards in Wednesday’s 77-67 upset win at No. 13 San Diego State on Wednesday — and that wasn’t even his best performance of the week. On Saturday, Gordon led the Lobos to a 65-45 win over No. 11 UNLV — and a two-game lead in the Mountain West Conference — with 27 points and 20 rebounds. Gordon, who went 13-for-20 from the field, scored 10 straight points during a 16-1 run as New Mexico outscored the Rebels 29-9 in the final 12 minutes. In the victory, Gordon became the fifth player in the last 20 years to have at least 20 points and 20 rebounds against a ranked team.
SINGLE-GAME PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
• Doug McDermott, Creighton sophomore forward: McDermott led a Bluejay comeback 81-79 win over Long Beach State on Saturday. The Blue Jays trailed 76-69 with five minutes left. McDermott didn’t miss a shot from the field or the foul line in the second half, leading Creighton back during his 36-point, 11 rebound performance. Antoine Young capped the rally with a game-winning shot with one second left as Creighton improved to 23-5 on the season. McDermott, who is second in the nation at 23.2 points per game, hit 14 of his 20 field goal attempts in the win. For the season, he’s shooting 61.7 percent from the field, 48.9 from the 3-point line and 83.3 from the foul line. He’s also averaging 8.3 rebounds.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
• Wichita State: The Shockers ended last week with a 21-point romp over rival Creighton to take over first place in the Missouri Valley. WSU then clinched at least a share of the MVC regular-season championship with a 73-58 win over Missouri State on Wednesday, then shot 64 percent from the field in a road victory over Southern Conference leader Davidson on Saturday for its sixth straight win.
WIN OF THE WEEK
• Murray State 65, Saint Mary’s 51: Three days after clinching the Ohio Valley regular-season championship with a 75-66 win at Southeast Missouri, the 14th-ranked Racers left little doubt that it would be a factor in March with a 14-point win over the No. 16 Gaels on Saturday. The OVC champions have a chance to avenge their only loss of the season on Thursday when they travel to Tennessee State, which defeated the Racers 72-68 on Feb. 9.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
• Kansas State 78, Missouri 68: The Wildcats improved to 8-7 in the Big 12, nearly clinching an NCAA Tournament berth by knocking off No. 3 Missouri for the second time this season. K-State held the Tigers to 38 percent shooting in the loss.
PLAY OF THE WEEK
• McCollum’s shot gets Lehigh back in Patriot League race: With his team tied with Bucknell tied at 53, there was no doubt who was going to take the shot for Lehigh. McCollum, who led the Mountain Hawks in scoring (15), rebounding (7), assists (3), steals (3) and blocked shots (1), controlled the ball for the final 15 seconds. The junior guard, who is averaging 21.5 points and 6.7 rebounds, let the 3-point shot fly over Bucknell’s Cameron Ayers and found nothing but net with a half-second remaining to draw the Hawks within a game of the Bison in the Patriot League.
PROJECTING THE 68
1 – Kentucky, Syracuse, Missouri, Kansas
2 – Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, Ohio State
3 – Marquette, Michigan, Florida, Baylor
4 – Wichita State, Georgetown, Florida State, Louisville
5 – Murray State, Vanderbilt, Indiana, Gonzaga
6 – Notre Dame, Temple, UNLV, Virginia
7 – Saint Louis, Kansas State, Iowa State, San Diego State
8 – California, Creighton, Harvard, Long Beach State
9 – Southern Miss, Washington, Purdue, Saint Mary’s
10 – New Mexico, Drexel, Virginia Commonwealth, Massachusetts
11 – George Mason, Cincinnati, Memphis, West Virginia
12 – Mississippi State, Oral Roberts, Iona, BYU, N.C. State
13 – Xavier, Oregon, Texas, Northwestern, Connecticut
14 – Nevada*, Middle Tennessee*, Davidson*, Akron*
15 – Bucknell*, Belmont*, Valparaiso*, Weber State*
16 – UNC-Ashville*, Long Island*, Texas-Arlington*, Stony Brook*, Savannah State*, Mississippi Valley State*
On the bubble: Colorado State, Miami (Fla.), Arizona, Ohio, Seton Hall, St. Joseph’s, Central Florida, Minnesota, Colorado, Arkansas, Illinois, Loyola Marymount, South Dakota State, Alabama, Wyoming, South Florida.
*Invited only as conference tournament champions
Note: Based on performance to date
Contact Greg Mengelt at email@example.com.