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Quarterfinal Madness, Middle Goes Down, WKU Dominates, ODU Escapes, Marshall Strolls

I had a 15oz bone-in pork chop from Bonnie Ruth’s while the first game of the quarterfinals was under way. Walking around the Ford Center can be exhausting, especially on a relatively empty stomach.

The media hospitality room has generous amounts of pizza and chips, but unfortunately I am not nineteen any longer, and cannot survive on pizza alone.

As I was satiating my ravenous appetite with old friends, I saw that Southern Miss was staying close. North Texas’ women benefited from the same scenario against third seeded La Tech. The Mean Green jumped out to a big lead early — having played a tough Charlotte the night previous, they came into the game with the appropriate mindset — while the Lady Techsters were adjusting to the pace.

Southern Miss Upsets Middle Tennessee

Did Southern Miss play completely outside their minds? Sort of. Middle has not been themselves the last two games and what was just recently the conference’s sure fire bet to get into the big dance is now hoping against hope the selection committee chooses against what is probably their better judgement.

Southern Miss scrambled on defense, switched screens and forced 17 turnovers. Middle shot well late, but in the overtime could not come up with the buckets when they needed them. That difference, ever so small, is what makes college basketball. The league’s regular season champion, and its twice-defending conference tournament champ, is done.

Kermit Davis mentioned the NIT and “attitude” things in his post game comments. Honestly, this is all more bad luck than anything wrong with the program. Middle hit a slight swoon at aboslutely the wrong time to do so, and now is sitting on the outside looking in.

Given the program’s recent history in the tourney, it would be great if the league could get a recognition of the overall quality here and get two bids.

Meanwhile on the other court, Marshall handled UTSA with relative ease. Ajdin Paneva was hitting one-legged fadeaways just 45 mintues from where Dirk Nowitzki has done it for 20 years.

Thundering Herd

Of all the teams in this tournament, Marshall has the most good feelings. They knocked off Middle in the regular season finale, then got a good run-out against a short-handed UTSA squad. Now that the league’s number 1 seed is out, a Southern Miss team awaits fresh off two back-to-back games including an overtime game last night.

It is all coming up Marshall.

The Herd scored 95 points, a conference record for the postseason until WKU put up 98 a short while later, and only had the briefest of scares from a game UTSA. Every Roadrunner rally was met with an answer.

WKU Dominant

Of the top-four seeds, WKU was expected to have the most trouble with a lower seeded squad in this quarterfinal. The Blazers were expected to be one of the league’s top seeds, and had beat WKU recently. WKU fans, who had took in Middle’s loss with all of the delight that comes with seeing a hated rival go down, were not hopeful for their own squad. One lady said to me, “Oh, I don’t think we can beat UAB. I’m just happy that Middle lost!” She continued whooping down the hall.

Darius Thompson was on which was a great indicator for the Hilltoppers. Western will face ODU in the next round, in what should be the most intriguing matchup of the day.

Middle losing is only good for ODU and Western if they survive Friday’s semifinal round. This shoudl be fun.

ODU survives

La Tech escaped a game North Texas in front of a sea of green, and a handful of NFL Hall of Famers on Wednesday. They nearly completed the 10/2 upset in front of a small but loud Louisiana Tech fanbase tonight.

Down just two, Derric Jean drove into a surprisingly open lane and — expecting contact — he left his layup short on the right side. BJ Stith had 22 on 6/13 shooting and Trey Porter had 18 on 7/9.

This was the tough game everyone expected in an ODU game. Neither team shot well, but ODU was getting to the line and blocking Tech’s forays to the rim. Porter had 2 blocks and Brandon Stith had 3. Those swats no doubt helped make Derric Jean miss his final attempt that sealed the game.

Tech’s season was frustrating but had a good postseason that should alleviate some of the pain and frustration. The future is bright as the talented freshman should only get better.

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