Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tourney Time!

Easily my favorite time of the year. Last night, while switching back and forth during the first half of the 7:00 games, I couldn't help but notice the balance in the league. The two worst teams record-wise are bringing in serious talent next season and could be contenders. The 3-7 seeds all have similar talent levels and the one team I'm leaving out is the only team this season to beat Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse. 

Quarterfinals are set: UIC vs. Cleveland State and Wright State vs. Milwaukee. 

Is UIC coming together? The Flames have won 5 in a row and they're getting tough inside play from Rob Eppinger and Tori Boyd. They killed YSU on the glass (+10) and showed a toughness that they haven't had at times this season. If VanderMeer can make a few bunnies, the Vikings could be in for some trouble. 

Detroit hung with CSU until a few minutes into the second half when the Vikings defense choked the life out of the Titans. D'Aundray Brown hyperextended his right knee and didn't return. This could be a big development because they are a completely different team without him. The Titans played a tough physical style that stymied J'Nathan Bullock and co. for a while but CSU's superior talent level finally broke through.  To quote Dennis Green, the Vikings are who we thought they were. The formula for beating Cleveland State is the same it's always been: limit turnovers, don't give up easy baskets, don't foul. 

Wright State got out to a quick lead on Valpo and held on to avenge a tournament loss last year. Cooper Land shot out of his mind and that's all it takes for WSU to get a win. One guy besides Todd Brown gets hot for the next two games and the Raiders have a chance. It really is that simple. 

Milwaukee flattened Loyola at the Cell and now returns to Hinkle with something to prove. Their last trip there didn't go too well. Lumber and co. (sounds like a legit business) took care of business all over the Ramblers. Milwaukee used this to get a 22 point advantage and roll into the second round. 

Valpo, Younsgstown State, Loyola, and Detroit all saw their seasons end last night. 

Coach Jerry Slocum and his mustache have a lot to build on going into next season. DeAndre Mays, Kelvin Bright, Vytas Sulskis, and Sirlester Martin, their top four scorers, all come back next season. Ward, Cooksey, and Parks give them some shooting off the bench, and another season together will certainly help. Expect another home game in the HL tournament next year. 

Valpo and Loyola could be considered disappointments this season. Valpo had some tough luck with injuries to Brandon McPherson and some depth issues up front. Loyola...thank goodness for that Butler win. 

Detroit: Coach McCallum is building a foundation and the way he's hoarding big guys they'll be a matchup problem for years to come. 

NOTE: Damon and I will be at Hinkle Fieldhouse live blogging the semifinal round of the league tournament. If you can't make it to Indianapolis get on the blog and follow the game along with us. As always, we'll be taking questions, comments, and posting plenty of video to get you ready for the semis. 

No comments:

Post a Comment