The Atlantic 10 Bracket
Last night both the St. Joseph's Hawks and the La Salle Explorers hosted a first road Atlantic 10 game. For both teams it was win and move on to Atlantic City, lose and wait for a possible bid to the NIT.
The Hawks hosted the Charlotte 49ers who had handed St. Joe's their first home loss of the season back in January. This time the Hawks would take care of business on their home floor, 80-64. With seven minutes left in the game Charlotte pulled within three cutting the lead to 63-60; however, the last seven minutes belonged to the Hawks.
St. Joe's (20-12) was led by their backcourt. Carl 'Tay' Jones paced the team with 23 points, while Langston Galloway added 18. Hofstra transfer Halil Kanacevic did his part in the middle contributing 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Hawks move on to Atlantic City to face the number 4 seed, St. Bonaventure. In St. Joe's final regular season game Bonaventure edged the Hawks in double overtime so the Hawks will be out for revenge. Tip-off is set tentatively for 2:30 on Friday at Boardwalk Hall (or 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first game of the day).
La Salle hosted the Richmond Spiders, looking to avenge a disappointing 78-76 loss earlier in the year at Richmond. Both team's came out strong trading baskets for the majority of the first half; however, La Salle superior guard play and the improved defense of forward Devon White proved to be too much for the Spirders as the Explorers would hang on to win, 80-72. The game wasn't even that close as several of Richmond's final points came in garbage time.
The Explorers (21-11) were paced by South Carolina transfer Ramon Galloway who led the team with 17 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds. Three others hit double digits in Earl Pettis (15), Jerrell Wright (14), and Devon White (13). Unlike the game at Richmond, La Salle limited turnovers and, beginning with the final four minutes of the first half, was able to dictate the tempo. Richmond was led by Darien Brothers who carried the Spiders with 22 first half points (the team only scored 32). Brothers would finish with 31. Next up the Explorers will face Saint Louis in Atlantic City. The Billiken's handed La Salle one of two home loses on the year during the regular season. Tip-off is set for 6:30 on Friday at Boardwalk Hall.
The #24 Temple Owls won the regular season A-10 Title outright and with it captured a first round bye. The Owls (24-6) will face the UMass Minutemen following their 92-83 victory over Duquesne last night. Last week Temple defeated UMass at home on senior night in overtime. Tip-off is set for noon on Friday at Boardwalk Hall.
Here is my bold prediction (see what I did there?): all three Philly teams win on Friday setting up a Big 5 showdown in one semifinal, Temple vs. St. Joe's, and a La Salle vs. Xavier rematch in the other. See you in Atlantic City
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It's the first of March, Selection Sunday is less than two weeks away, and this Saturday marks the last weekend of the regular season for college basketball. I decided to step outside the Madness that will be the rest of this month and reflect on what makes college basketball so special--I mean the more I watch, the more it becomes my favorite sport. Don't get me wrong I love my professional sports just as much as the next guy, but college basketball captures my attention more than any other. On Sunday April 8 I probably won't plan on sitting down to watch the Chicago White Sox take on the Texas Rangers--no matter how much I love baseball. On any given Tuesday night I will sit down to watch whatever collection of games happen to be on ESPN that night.
I love college basketball because out of all the sports it is unique. Every game means something--in fact, one game can decide if you are in or out of the NCAA field. Even with games of such magnitude, it is different from NCAA football--one loss does not disqualify you from the championship (unless you play your football in the SEC in which case you get two losses). There are no series like baseball, unless you count the home-and-home some conference teams play. And unlike the NBA or NHL your fate ends up being decided by one game, not how you play in four out of seven. I know you get, I like college basketball, but here's five reasons you should too.
Courtesy of Penn Athletics
This week's rankings were the hardest for me to formulate. Temple lost for the first time in 11 games, and despite being the most talented team in the city deserved to lose its top spot. The big question is what to do about Drexel? The lack the quality wins and RPI numbers that St. Joe's possesses, but it is impossible to ignore Drexel's resume. To the potential dismay of Hawk fans, I'm placing Drexel number one in the city.
1. Drexel Dragons (25-5) LW: 2
Drexel has won 17 games in a row and 23 of their last 24 contests. They have won outright the Colonial Title and have passed the 'eye-test' of many analysts. If Drexel fails to win the CAA Tournament and do not find themselves in the tournament come Selection Sunday I am calling shenanigans. It was too difficult for me to place Drexel lower in the rankings without them losing.
(Courtesy of Audrey: Wikipedia)
Wednesday night’s matchup between La Salle and Temple is not only an important game in the Atlantic 10 Conference—it has Big 5 implications as well. The Explorers host the Owls in what will be the second matchup between these two schools this season. The Owls won the first 76-70 behind 19 points from Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and 17 from Ramone Moore. The Owls will make the short trip up Broad street (and one left) to 20th and Olney riding a ten game winning streak that has put them back in the AP Top 25. The #22 Temple Owls have won six in a row against the Explorers dating back to the 2009-2010 season.
Scouting the Owls (21-5): Temple’s outstanding back court of Khalif Wyatt, Juan Fernandez, and Ramone Moore have sparked the Owls recent success. Moore has emerged as a legitimate contender for Big 5 player of the year averaging over 18 points a contest, while also contributing 3.3 assists—often from the two guard position. Wyatt would be the primary scorer on most teams; however, the Owls aren’t most teams. The Norristown High grad averages 17 points a game while shooting a scorching 48% from the field. Although only the third scoring option in this loaded back court, Juan Fernandez has been a bit of a disappointment in my eyes. In his senior campaign he is averaging slightly fewer points a game than his sophomore and junior years. He certainly contributes (11.8 ppg, 3.8 apg), but it seems his growth really stopped after his second season on Broad Street.
Courtesy of Keith Allen
The Sixers never recovered from a horrid first quarter which saw them fall behind 30-10. Not only did the Sixers only shoot 20% from the field during the opening period, they allowed the Grizzlies to control the pace offensively and defensively.
After the first period the Sixers really did not play all that poorly. In the final three quarters Philadelphia outscored Memphis by 7. They shot better from 3 than the Grizzlies and also turned the ball over less. Here's a major problem: the Sixers only got to line a total of 8 times. Compare that to the 29 free throw attempts for the Grizzlies and it becomes obvious where the difference was. Memphis controlled the pace and controlled the game from the foul line.
This was going to be an uphill battle from the start because the Sixers were without their starting front court. Without Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand, Philadelphia was out rebounded 47-36. Second chance opportunities (or lack there of for the Sixers) killed the Sixers.
The Sixers were led by Jrue Holiday's 22 points (9-18 from the field) and Lavoy Allen's 14 points (7-12). Memphis had four players in double figures, led by Marc Gasol's double-double (15 points and 14 rebounds). The Sixers are now 20-13 on the year and are back in action tomorrow night at Houston. Tip-off is at 8:00 PM
(Photo: Michael Levin/Liberty Ballers)
The Sixers are back in action for the first time since a very questionable ending in Minnesota
on Sunday. The team has filed a formal protest with the league; however, the Sixers need to focus on the task at hand tonight when they visit the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies (18-15) lost last night against the Houston Rockets 97-93 spoiling what was a four game winning streak.
Philadelphia received some bad news today when Doug Collins announced that starting power forward Elton Brand would be out for tonight and tomorrow’s game, as reported on Whiz Wit earlier today
. This comes at a terrible time as the Sixers will still be without Spencer Hawes until at least the All Star Break. Little used forward Andres Nocioni will get his first start of the season in place of Brand.
Collins expressed some concern today over his teams’ ability to close out game, especially Sunday’s heartbreaking 1 point defeat. Collins said, "it's a shame we haven't been able to get that critical stop.” While the Sixers’ defense has helped them achieve 8 wins of at least 20 points, the team has only won 4 games decided by less than points.
For the Grizzlies the main scoring threat is Rudy Gay. Gay has emerged as a young star, averaging 19 points and 6.6 rebounds a game. To have success tonight the Sixers are going to have to limit second chance opportunities that will be generated by Marc Gasol (9.9 rebounds). Additionally the Sixers’ will square off against former teammate Marreese Speights for the first time since he was traded earlier this season. Speights is averaging 8.5 points for Memphis.
Memphis has won the last three against Philadelphia including a sweep in the season series last year. Tip-off is set for 8:00 tonight at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. The game can be caught on the Comcast Network or on the radio on 610 WIP.
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The college basketball regular season is in the home stretch—we are less than three weeks away from Selection Sunday. For the city of Philadelphia a pair of crucial Big 5 and A-10 games looms large this week as Temple visits La Salle on Wednesday and St. Joe’s on Saturday. All three of these teams are in contention for a 4th place or better finish in conference play, which would guarantee them a trip to Atlantic City (remember that the A-10 has switched the conference tournament format with first round games now being at the site of the higher seed). Look for a preview of tomorrow’s La Salle-Temple game right here on Whizwitsports.
Dragons still cruising
Drexel got a much needed win on Saturday visiting fellow mid-major, Cleveland State. Unfortunately for Drexel all of the remaining doubters will point to the fact that the Vikings had lost 3 in a row heading into the BracketBuster game. According to kenpom.com rankings, Drexel is currently behind both Temple and La Salle—despite winning 15 in a row. It seems that no matter how many games the Dragons win they continue to move backwards in the rankings. Hopefully for Drexel fans, the team will win the CAA conference tournament to take the suspense (and possible disappointment) out of Selection Sunday.
After their worst shooting effort of the season on Friday against the Mavericks (33.7%) the Sixers hit the road for a four games trip beginning tonight in Minnesota. The Sixers (20-11) blew a 14 point halftime lead against the Mavericks Friday night in the teams first nationally televised contest. Despite the poor shooting effort, there were two bright spots. The Sixers' defense and the play of rookie Nikola Vucevic (16 points, 7 rebounds, 1 block). The 76ers will look to get back on track against the Timberwolves tonight, and continue their 3 game win streak against Minnesota.
The Timberwolves (15-16) success is based around young star Kevin Love. Love is averaging a double-double a game with 25.8 points and 14.2 rebounds. Love's stats have only improved since his return from his two game suspension for stomping Houston Rockets' forward Luis Scola, averaging close to 30 points. This is bad news for the Sixers who will again be without Spencer Hawes, their leading rebounder. Adding to the bad news is the emergence of Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic who has produced four straight double-doubles.
There is some good news for the Sixers. In Minnesota's last five games they have allowed 98.8 points a game, while going 2-3. Defense has been a key factor in the Sixers' success who hold opponents to a league best 87.2 points. Love will get his points and rebounds, but the key for the Sixers is to limit his touches and to deny him the ball in the post. The further away from the basket Love catches the ball, the better for the Sixers--not only to limit Love's scoring, but also to cut down on second chance points. Tip off is set for 7:00 at the Target Center. The game can be seen on The Comcast Network and heard on 94.1 WIP.
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Courtesy of Penn Athletics
There's really no change from last weeks rankings, except St. Joe's has solidified themselves as the number 3 team in the city. However, given the fluidity of this years City 6 squads that could change in the course of one Saturday afternoon.
1. Temple Owls (20-5)
Temple has won 9 straight games and has already reached the 20 win mark. In my opinion, the Owls got shafted by the polls this week. They are playing as good of basketball as anyone in the country and already have two quality wins against ACC opponents (Duke and Maryland). Last night the Owls had an impressive come from behind victory up in Olean, New York against St. Bonaventure 76-70. Owls' leading scorer, Ramone Moore was scoreless at halftime before exploding for 19 in the second. Fran Dunphy's squad now control their own destiny in the Atlantic 10.
By Ron Cortes--Philadelphia Inquirer Staff
Temple has again staked its claim as the best team in the city. A convincing 85-72 over preseason front-runner Xavier was the Owls 8th straight win and should garner them a spot in the top 25 poll to be released later today.
Temple's back court drives this team; but specifically, the play of Ramone Moore has been outstanding. The back-to-back Philahoops player of the week
, Moore scored 30 points against Xavier. In the two Owl victories last week Moore shot an incredible 50% (15-30) from the field and 80% from the line (17/21).
Moore appears to be the favorite for Big 5 player of the year, and is certainly making his case for the same honor in the Atlantic 10. Meanwhile Xavier continues their inconsistent play after their brawl with crosstown rival Cincinnati. A team many expected as an Elite 8, if not final four, team now finds themselves in a log jam in the middle of the A-10 fighting for a first round bye to Atlantic City.How about those Dragons?
I admit I was not a believer of Drexel coming into this season. However, it's hard not to be impressed by what the dragons have done recently. Their last loss came at Georgia State (who is 17-9) on January 2nd. The Dragons find themselves in a three way tie for first place in the Colonial and could separate themselves from the pack with their relatively easy remaining colonial opponents (William and Mary, JMU, and Old Dominion).
Drexel needs to win the CAA Conference Tournament because their status as an at-large is very uncertain. Their non-conference wins are unimpressive (and that's being kind). Perhaps their biggest win was a home game against Princeton. They lost crucial games to St. Joe's and a very good Virginia team by sizable margins. The Dragons could help their at-large resume with an ESPN BracketBuster's game at Cleveland State next Saturday morning. A win against the Vikings is an absolute must if Drexel is make the tournament, should they lose in the CAA.
Two of Drexel's remaining game are at home, where they receive an incredible boost from their raucous student section, the DAC Pack.
If they can continue their winning ways inside the Colonial and receive a top seed in the conference tournament the road to the NCAA will be much easier for the Dragons.