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Championship Week: Day 8 Preview

Matthe Dellavedova, Gary Bell Jr

Saint Mary’s Matthe Dellavedova (04) fouls by Gonzaga’s Gary Bell Jr., in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012, in Spokane, Wash. Gonzaga beat Saint Mary’s 73 to 59. (AP Photo/Jed Conklin)


Over the next 13 days, the brackets will start to take shape. Teams with no at-large aspirations will make one final push at the post-season. Teams on the bubble will look to assert themselves as worthy members of “The Big Dance”, and contenders will start priming their engines for a national Championship run. While “March Madness” officially begins following Selection Sunday, the real madness starts now.

Until Sunday, March 11, this will be your home for Championship Week recaps and previews. The players and teams are starting to prepare for March Madness, so you should too.

Game of the Night: Gonzaga vs. St. Mary’s
Since 2004, these two teams have met in the WCC tournament finals five times, with Gonzaga coming away victorious on four occasions. This rivalry is good enough as a stand-alone, but with a tournament title on the line, you can expect a high level of intensity and energy. There are fantastic match-ups all over the court, and the rubber-match will be decided by the team that can win the most individual match-ups. Nonetheless, this is an excellent way to cap your Monday night.

Player to Watch: Frantz Massenat, Drexel
The last time Drexel played VCU, Massenat had a career-night, scoring 24 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond the arc. The sophomore guard has nearly tripled his scoring average from a year ago, and should be considered one of the top ten most improved players in the country. If Drexel wants to punch their ticket to the Big Dance, Frantz is going to need to find his range early and often.

Miscellaneous Madness: Of the eight teams participating in the first round of the MAC tournament, all but two are from the Western division. Eastern Michigan, the West’s top team, was only good enough to grab a No.5-seed. All four teams which received byes or double-byes are from the East division. In fact, only two Eastern teams had losing regular season records this season, while only one Western division team had a winning regular season record.

Monday Schedule:

Colonial Athletic Association Finals
7:00PM - #2 Virginia Commonwealth vs. #1 Drexel - ESPN

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Finals
7:00PM - #4 Fairfield vs. #2 Loyola (Md.) - ESPN2

Mid-American Conference First Round
7:00PM - #12 Northern Illinois at #5 Eastern Michigan
7:00PM - #9 Ball State at #8 Western Michigan
7:00PM - #10 Miami at #7 Toledo
7:00PM - #11 Central Michigan at #6 Bowling Green

Southern Conference Finals
9:00PM - #3N Western Carolina vs. #1S Davidson - ESPN2

Summit League Semifinals
8:00PM - #4 Western Illinois vs. #1 Oral Roberts
10:30PM - #6 Southern Utah vs. #2 South Dakota State

Sun Belt Conference Semifinals
6:00PM - #9 Arkansas State vs. #5 North Texas
8:30PM - #7 Western Kentucky vs. #3 Denver

West Coast Conference Finals
9:00PM - #2 Gonzaga vs. #1 Saint Mary’s - ESPN