The Madness Is Here….Championship Week Begins Tonight!!


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Video courtesy: ESPN, CBS Sports

Music: “Do You Wanna Dance”, The Ramones

By: Kels Dayton

It’s been a long winter….but mercifully…..the madness is here. It’s February 28, and teams in the Horizon League are playing for their NCAA Tournament lives tonight.  Yes, tonight.  4th-seeded Wisconsin-Milwaukee takes on 9th-seeded Illinois-Chicago, 5th-seeded Butler challenges 8-seed Wright State, 3-seed Detroit battles 10th-seeded Loyola-Chicago, and No. 6 Youngstown State takes on No. 7 Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Go ahead, pinch yourself.

The long road to the national championship begins now.

It should be declared a national holiday. Real college basketball junkies know that the early rounds of the small-conference tournaments produce some of the most exciting games of the season–even if they aren’t on TV. So get ready to track Big South, Ohio Valley, Missouri Valley and Horizon League games right here on Roundball, your one-stop shop for all the championship week coverage you can fit inside your skull.

It’s almost too much excitement to handle.

The tournaments only get bigger and better from here on, but they don’t get any more intense than the win-or-go-home, entire-season-on-the-line, winner-take-all small conference tournaments, which match the big boys dribble-for-dribble in drama.

Consult the full Conference Tournament schedule  to decide which days you are going to take off from work. And be sure to watch out for this year’s Top Ten Bracket Busters.



(5)  Butler 70, (8)  Wright State 52

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Smith had 25 points and seven rebounds and Roosevelt Jones added 11 points to lead Butler to a 70-52 victory against Wright State on Tuesday night in the opening round of the Horizon League tournament.

Chrishawn Hopkins scored 10 points for the fifth-seeded Bulldogs (19-13), who face No. 4 seed Milwaukee in the second round on Friday.

 Cole Darling had 12 points for the eighth-seeded Raiders (13-19).

Butler, the national runner-up the last two seasons with its lowest seed in the Horizon tournament since 2005, led by a point at intermission but broke the game open with a 13-0 run to start the second half. Khyle Marshall had six points during the surge, which he culminated with a dunk that made the score 43-29 with 15:28 remaining.

The Bulldogs shot 53.7 percent (22 of 41) from the floor and had a 30-14 rebounding advantage.

Julius Mays scored 11 points for Wright State.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


(3)  Detroit 80, (10)  Loyola (IL) 71

Associated Press

DETROIT — Eli Holman scored 20 points, leading five Detroit players in double figures, as the Titans beat Loyola (Ill.) 80-71 in the first round of the Horizon League tournament Tuesday night.

Third-seeded Detroit (19-13) won for the seventh time in eight games and will face sixth-seeded Youngstown State in the second round Friday night at Valparaiso, Ind.

Chase Simon scored 19, Doug Anderson 18 and Ray McCallum and Jason Calliste10 each for the Titans, who beat Loyola for the eighth straight time.

The 10th-seeded Ramblers (7-23) got game highs of 20 points and eight rebounds from Ben AverkampJordan Hicks scored 14 and Denzel Brito and Walt Gibler 12 apiece.

Loyola shot 50 percent but committed 23 turnovers to Detroit’s 22.

The Titans reeled off 12 straight points for a 26-16 lead with 5:36 left in the first half and did not trail again.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


(6)  Youngstown St. 77,  (7)  Green Bay 60

Associated Press

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Damian Eargle had 17 points and nine rebounds to lead balanced Youngstown State past Green Bay 77-60 in the first round of the Horizon League tournament Tuesday night.

The sixth-seeded Penguins (16-14) will play third-seeded Detroit in the second round Friday night at Valparaiso, Ind.

Dushawn Brooks scored 16 points, Kendrick Perry 15, Ashen Ward 14 and Blake Allen 11 for Youngstown State, which has won four of five. Allen also had game highs of seven assists and three steals.

Alec Brown scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the seventh-seeded Phoenix (15-15), whose five-game winning streak ended.

The Penguins made 10 of 23 3-pointers, led by four from Brooks. They also forced 17 turnovers while committing only seven.

Youngstown State never trailed, leading 12-2 and then 45-34 at intermission before expanding the advantage to 19 points late in the game.

The teams split the regular-season series.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


(4)  Wisconsin-Milwaukee 68, (9)  Illinois-Chicago 55

MILWAUKEE — James Haarsma scored 18 points and Ryan Allen 17 to lead Milwaukee to a 68-55 win against cold-shooting Illinois-Chicago on Tuesday night in the opening round of the Horizon League tournament.

Tony Meier collected seven points and 11 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Panthers (20-12), who scored 34 of the game’s first 40 points en route to their fifth straight win. Milwaukee faces No. 5 seed Butler in a second-round game on Friday.

Hayden Humes had 14 points and four steals and Gary Talton 11 points for the ninth-seeded Flames (8-22), who shot 22.2 percent (6 of 27) en route to trailing 35-14 at halftime.

A Haarsma 3-pointer gave the Panthers a 34-6 lead. Illinois-Chicago went scoreless for a 5:49 stretch of the first half.

Darrin Williams had 10 points for the Flames.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press



Updated for 2/29

Click to enlarge.

Wednesday: West Coast, Atlantic Sun, Ohio Valley and Big South Tournaments begin.


Takin’ Shots:

By: Kels Dayton

  • Connecticut lost only one key member of last season’s team, but what a member he was. It’s even more impressive what Kemba Walker did for the Huskies last year when you consider that UConn (17-12, 7-10 Big East) is playing like a CIT team right now. The Huskies have staggered towards the finish line, losing 9 of their last 12 games and dropping from the Top 10 to the bottom of the bubble. And there’s plenty of surface tension. UConn can’t get off a decent look in the half-court, has absolutely zero late-game leadership and relies on a point guard (Shabazz Napier) who plays like he’s running at Rucker Park. ____________________________________________________________________________________________It’s It’s almost incomprehensible to think that this is virtually the same team as last year, minus Walker. The 2011 supporting cast was special; the 2012 team is special ed. 2011 Jeremy Lamb knocked down some of the biggest shots in UConn history. 2012 Jeremy Lamb disappears when you need him, like car insurance.  2011 Alex Oriakhi (9.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg) was beastly in the middle, as opposed to this year’s edition (6.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg), who has vanished like Bison Dele. 2011 Napier was making all the right decisions. 2012 Napier throws alley-oops from half-court. _____________________________________________________________________________  As great as Walker was, it’s hard to believe that his absence would leave this confident, cocksure bunch of freshmen and sophomores aimless. But here they are, in a must-win situation from here on out in order to sniff the NCAA Tournament. It only adds to the pain that UConn is currently ineligible for the 2013 Dance, due to a poor academic progress rate. Factor in Jim Calhoun’s health issues and impending retirement, and this may be the beginning of a long rebuilding process in Storrs. Huskies fans might want to hit replay those 2011 championship DVDs, because it may be a while before they see anything like that again.

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