March is already in full swing. We have seen fun finishes, upsets, and awkward celebrations from student sections across the mid-major conferences in America.
Monday night was highlighted by the Iona Gaels hitting a game winning shot to beat the de facto home team of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the Siena Saints. Iona freshman EJ Crawford showed no fear driving into the lane late in overtime, lifting his team past Jimmy Patsos and the Saints.
We also saw East Tennessee State take down UNC Greensboro in the SoCon Championship and UNC Wilmington claim the CAA title over the College of Charleston… and UNC Wilmington DID NOT want to let go of that trophy.
Elsewhere, there was madness in the Summit League! South Dakota State took down the top seeded South Dakota with a Michael Orris game winner.
On Tuesday, there will be nothing bigger in the college basketball world than the Gonzaga Bulldogs looking to complete a three-game season sweep of the Saint Mary’s Gaels in Las Vegas, Nevada at 9:00 PM EST.
While college basketball diehards know that this Gonzaga team is LEGIT (the capital letters show how serious I am), for the layman this might be the first time they tune in to see Mark Few‘s squad. Led by Washington transfer Nigel Williams-Goss and Przemek Karnowski, the latter of which may be easily mistaken for the Mountain in Game of Thrones, the Bulldogs have legitimate rights to the number one seed in the West on Selection Sunday.
While pundits have made the point they may be able to afford losing and still get that number one, I wouldn’t want to chance it. There are three premium Pac-12 teams breathing down their necks in Oregon, Arizona, and UCLA.
As for Randy Bennett‘s Saint Mary’s, this team has been as consistent as any in the country. They’ve lost to Gonzaga twice while winning every other game on their schedule (sans-UT Arlington on December 8th).The team draws most of its roster from Australia, including its best player Jock Landale. They play slowly and methodically, but rank as the 11th best offense on KenPom.
The Gaels are safely in the field, but a win against their biggest rival will establish them as a true second weekend contender and move them up a seed line or two. In both of their previous games against Gonzaga, Landale struggled to stay on the floor- fouling out of the first game at Spokane and getting four early fouls in the second half of the latter matchup in Moraga. If this pattern continues, it is all but certain we’ll see the Zags holding the trophy at the end of the night.
This game promises to be a fun one and a great opportunity for those who only watch post-season college hoops to get a taste of two of the top 5 west coast programs before filling out their brackets.
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