Here’s a look at the teams that have won automatic bids to the NCAA tournament today:
• Xavier needed to win back-to-back games against unbeaten Rhode Island to win the Atlantic 10 tournament, and the Musketeers pulled it off. They hung eight runs on 11 hits over 6 2/3 innings against URI ace Eric Smith to win the first game 9-7, then cruised to a 10-1 win in the second game. Rhode Island deserves an at-large bid and just might get one.
• Top-seeded and heavily favored Coastal Carolina topped Winthrop 7-1 to win the Big South tournament and prevent another at-large bid from being gobbled up.
• Second-seeded Georgia State continued its remarkable run, topping defending champion and host UNC Wilmington 12-10 to win the CAA tournament. The Panthers rallied from five runs down to earn the first trip to regionals in school history. "Things looked bleak for a while, but I never thought we were out of the game, and neither did our players," Georgia State coach Greg Frady said. "We’ve got 11 wonderful seniors, and they played like champions."
• Canisius, the preseason favorite in the MAAC, entered the day in the same position as Xavier, needing to win back-to-back games against Marist in the championship round. The Golden Griffins won the first game 5-4 but could not hold an early 3-0 lead in the second game, losing 13-9. The Red Foxes will play in regionals for the first time since 2005.
• Kent State entered the MAC tournament as the No. 4 seed, but we pegged the Golden Flashes as the favorite in our conference tournament capsules. They showed why this week, cruising undefeated to the MAC title. Kent State topped Toledo 5-3 in today’s title game, and the Flashes should be very encouraged by the strong outing from righty Kyle Smith, who did not allow a run in a predetermined three-inning start.
• The biggest cinderella story thus far is the Utah Utes, who won their second straight game against San Diego State to win the Mountain West tournament as the No. 6 seed. Utah scored six in the third inning against SDSU freshman Ryan O’Sullivan and cruised to a 9-3 win to capture the first MWC title in school history. The Utes will play in regionals for the first time since 1960. "What a tremendous feat that our guys accomplished the whole week," Utah coach Bill Kinneberg said. "Our pitchers were on fumes and the guts they all showed was indicative of what they wanted. They were determined from the onset that they were going to compete here and they did."
• Preseason favorite Monmouth out-slugged Sacred Heart 14-8 to complete a perfect run to the Northeast Conference tournament title.
• Ohio Valley Conference tournament MVP A.J. Kirby-Jones (or AJKJ, as I call him) singled in the game-winning run in the top of the 10th to propel Tennessee Tech to a 4-3 win against Jacksonville State and its first OVC title since 2001. Kirby-Jones, who ranked eighth on my Clark Griffith League top 10 prospects list last summer, went 8-for-16 with three home runs, five RBIs and seven runs scored in the tournament.
• Sam Houston State is heading to regionals for the third straight year after toppling top-seeded Texas State 7-1 in the Southland Conference finals. The Bearkats won the last two years as the No. 4 seed, and this year they pulled it off as the seventh seed. You knew they were going to be dangerous with Mark Johnson at the helm. For more on SHSU, check out the Under The Radar section of the March 20 Weekend Preview. Texas State is in good shape to earn an at-large bid.
• Oral Roberts cruised to its 12th straight Summit League championship with a 6-2 win against upstart South Dakota State.
• Gonzaga pounded out 19 hits in a 14-3 drubbing of Loyola Marymount to sweep the West Coast Conference championship series. The WCC looks like a one-bid league, as San Diego has fallen way behind in the at-large pecking order.
• Indiana leads Minnesota 13-2 in the ninth inning of the Big Ten title game, so I’m going to go ahead and pencil the Hoosiers in for the conference’s automatic bid. If you were wondering why I kept sticking Indiana in my projected NCAA tournament fields in April, now you know. The Big Ten will be a three-bid league, with the Gophers and Ohio State earning the at-large spots.
Comments will be monitored prior to being added to the site. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be rejected. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.
We have chosen to open up commenting to everyone, so comment away! We want to hear from each and every one of you! Leave a comment.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog