The opening round games were last night, and everything went pretty much as expected. That’s bad news, at least relatively speaking, for the favorites, who suffer slightly in the updated Log5 predictions because of the increasing quality of their potential opponents.
Some quick recaps:
#5W Arkansas Tech 65, #4E Alabama-Huntsville 49
The Chargers bowed out with barely a whimper against Arkansas Tech, which is still playing without its best player, Darren Tarver. Defense was the story in this moderately-paced game, and UAH had to play most of its defense against Jamar Flowers, who had an inefficient 22 points on 27 shots from the floor. His 11 rebounds contributed to Tech’s significant edge in that category, though.
Huntsville had a rough night shooting the three, just 2-for-15, but Tech played solid interior defense as well, holding the Chargers to a stifling 42.4 true shooting percentage. Throw in a few turnover problems, and UAH had only a 73.4 offensive rating, which probably wouldn’t be enough offense to beat my YMCA league team.
The victorious Wonder Boys get to face a familiar opponent on Friday afternoon, when they play Harding. Tech beat the Bisons the first time around when both teams were undefeated in conference play. That game was with Tarver, but they also beat HU in a comeback overtime win without him. For whatever reason, Tech is a tough matchup for HU, but I’m hoping the better team over the course of the season will finally prove it the third time around.
#4W Arkansas-Monticello 63, #5E Montevallo 61
The West had a good night, winning both games against Eastern Division opponents. This was a closer game, though, against what’s left of the dominant Falcons teams of the last few years (which is really not much).
UM got 30 points from Terrill Humphrey, who had a difficult night shooting the ball from the field, but he made up for it by going 13-of-13 at the free throw line. What sunk the Falcons, though, was UAM’s ability to get second chances. The Weevils grabbed 22 offensive rebounds and had 15 more shot attempts than Montevallo did. The result was an ugly win on a 43.5% true shooting night.
Giovanni Marchetti led UAM with 18 points but also got double-digit scoring contributions from Deron Brown (who played the entire game) and Duke Sturdivant. Marchetti and GSC West Freshman of the Year D’Angelo Dean cleaned up the offensive glass, with each recording at least 6 rebounds on their end of the floor.
Monticello moves on to face #1E North Alabama, which has arguably been the best team in the region this year. I expect the Lions to win that one, as they have been improving greatly throughout the season.
New Log5 Predictions
Here’s the latest table of tournament win probabilities:
A few notes:
- Five teams remain at least an 8:1 shot to win the tournament, and it’s basically wide open, with only one team having better than 4:1 odds.
- The two best teams are still on one side of the bracket, and the good news for Harding is that it’s not their side. The bad news you can take from that: Harding is not one of the two best teams.
- UAM and ATU were obviously the biggest beneficiaries in the updated odds, having now advanced to the quarterfinal round. Both teams’ odds of winning the tournament nearly doubled, although neither has more than a 5% chance.
- Harding’s odds of winning stay at 7:1, although they did decrease slightly because the better team won last night’s 4-5 matchup to see who would play them tomorrow.
Around the South Region
The best case scenario for now-#7 Harding this weekend is obviously to win the GSC Tournament and lock up the automatic bid, but I think they have a shot at making the NCAAs with at least one win in the conference tournament.
#1 Tampa (#3 SSC) and #2 Florida Southern (#1 SSC) both won their opening-round games in the SSC tournament yesterday, keeping a hold on the top spots for now. I think #3 North Alabama (#1E GSC, inactive yesterday) can wrestle the top spot away from either of them, though, if someone else wins the SSC tournament.
#4 Benedict (SIAC #1) is the only SIAC team in the current top 10, and their first tournament game is this afternoon against Albany State (SIAC #9).
The best news yet for Harding was #5 Eckerd (#2 SSC) losing their quarterfinal game, which gives #6 Christian Brothers (#2W GSC) and the #7 Bisons (#1W GSC) a potential lift to their at-large hopes.
#8 OBU (#3W GSC) and #9 West Georgia (#3E GSC) play their first GSC Tournament games tomorrow, but for now they’re probably on the outside looking in (unless all of the favorites win, giving OBU a slight chance of making it anyway).
#10 Rollins (#6 SSC) lost to #1 Tampa, effectively opening up another spot for a team that plays well in its conference tournament.
Right now I think Harding’s best chance of making it as an at-large (if they don’t win the GSC) is to beat Tech and root against their most direct competitor, Christian Brothers. I think the Bisons are done if they lose to Tech, unless both OBU and UWG lose their quarterfinal games as well.
On a less-important note, it would be nice to see UNA regain the #1 rank in the region if Harding also makes the tournament field, because that would be within traveling distance for me to see them. So, go UNA, at least until the championship game.
I audited the stats for the whole season and corrected a few errors (including 2-3 missing games), so you can take a look at those using the navigation bar. They are up-to-date through Wednesday night’s games.