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and still generating surprises.

The entire C-USA tourney has been a surprise (or hot mess, depending on your view): The championship game will feature the #6 seed (Tulsa) v. the #8 seed (UCF). UCF, straight of their upset of top-seed SMU, continued their hot play by taking down UTEP, 89-77. Tulsa used a stubborn defense to hold off #2 seed East Carolina, 72-59.

The MAC finals will feature a surprise team: Central Michigan earned a (fair) shot at the title by holding off top-seed Toledo. Tough for fans of Naama who’d hoped she’d get a chance at the Dance. The Chippewas will go up against Akron’s Zips, who defeated Ball State.

The Southland finals will feature top-seed Oral Roberts against #2-seed Sam Houston (who seem to have survived their brief bout with the WHB curse.)

No surprise, Hampton has rolled into the MEAC finals. No surprise, their opponent will be Howard.

Big Sky Finals: Montana v. Northern Colorado.

In the Big West, Cal State Fullerton couldn’t overcome top-seed Pacific (though it took a last-second three to do it). In the finals, the Tigers will go against Cal Poly (another team that seems to have survived the WHB curse).

The Vandals ruined my WAC brack(et). The finals feature Idaho and Seattle U.

D’em Penguins didn’t make it into the Horizon finals. Instead, it will be Loyola (IL) taking on Green Bay.

Revenge of the former team? #4 Prairie View upset Coop’s new team, Texas Southern, 58-62. That mean’s they’re in the SWAC finals against Mississippi Valley State.

San Diego State rolled over New Mexico, which means they’ll face Fresno State, which just escaped Wyoming, in the MWC finals.

It’s Delaware v. Hofstra and Drexel v. James Madison in today’s CAA semis.

The MVC has held serve through their semis: #1 Wichita State v. #4 Northern Iowa and #2 Creighton v. #3 Illinois State.

When Holy Cross takes on Navy, the Middies will be looking to three-peat as Patriot League champs

The biggest surprise of the day would probably be up Albany, if somehow Hartford could take down conference big dog, the Great Danes.

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you ask….

Marist is kickin’ some Iona butt on ESPN3 — updated to say “not as much as earlier on.”

Hofstra v. James Madison ought to be a good game. On the 3 at 7pm.

Sorry none of the ESPNs are carrying the South Carolina/Kentucky game.

Now that people have pointed a finger at’em, how will Towson (7-8, CAA) handle going up against UNC-Wilmington (9-6, CAA)?

Minnesota plays Ohio State — will the Gophers continue their role as upsetters?

Come on, Houston Baptist — see if you can win one in the Big West.

The Shockers (11-3, MVC) v. Redbirds (10-4, MVC) could be fun.

Alabama (2-12, SEC) v. Auburn (3-11) could be ugly.

LSU (19-8, 9-5) v. Vandy (20-7, 8-6) could be significant.

Which Vol team shows up tonight?

I am not saying nothin’ about UTEPs chances against S. Methodist (5-8, C-USA)

Don’t envy Colorado (5-9, Pac-12) going up against Stanford.

Time for some separation by Arizona State (9-6) as they go against UCLA (7-7).

The Dons (3-11, WCC) have a chance at win #6 when they face Portland (3-11).

So, anyone taking bets on Fresno State v. Hawai’i?

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attention from Graham for their long, steady evolution into an A-Sun power: FGCU eyes first NCAA tournament – Eagles a 3-point launching, turnover-forcing group just on the outskirts of the Top 25

For a guy who hasn’t gone anywhere, Karl Smesko has come a long way.

As a result, Florida Gulf Coast is going places.

A decade ago, Smesko was the coach of what he thought would be an NAIA program, one that had yet to play its first game. He worked out of a makeshift office in a trailer he shared with other members of the fledgling athletic department. His first individual workouts took place on the asphalt of an outdoor court, constructing a team even as the school in Fort Myers, Fla., constructed a building in which it could play.

Yet his team won by 17 points the first time it took the court. The next night, it won by 46 points. It lost just once that first season, rolling to a 30-1 record against the likes of Indiana Tech, Cardinal Stritch University and Flagler College.

Like a lot of coaches winning in the most distant reaches of college basketball, Smesko moved on to bigger and better things. Unlike almost any of his peers, he didn’t actually move to do so, save for relocating to a better office.

Longtime readers of the WHB are familiar with the Eagles’ story, but it’s great to have them get wider exposure. Focusing on the non-big six conferences is an essential part of building the game from the bottom, middle and top.  I’m looking forward to ESPN’s stories of program redemption (Fresno State, 10-0 WAC), program (re?) emergence (Boston University, 13-1, Am. East), program building (UTEP, 13-0 C-USA), and program fortitude (Middle Tennessee 14-0, Sun Belt).

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Proving there’s no deja vu in basketball, Baylor went in to Lubbock and escaped a stubborn Texas Tech team, 72-64.

It was close early on, but eventually Duke pulled away from the Yellow Jackets (another double-double for Williams).

Mizzou couldn’t hang with Texas A&M, and Gary Blair got his 200th win with the Aggies.

Louisville returned home and enjoyed every minute of it, taking down Providence 64-48.

In an important match up in the A-10, Charlotte (now 4-0 in conference play) defeated La Salle, 77-66. The Bonnies are next on their schedule.

Also in the A-10, Temple squeaked by Duquesne, 67-64.

Patriot League’s American ran its conference record to 4-0 (12-6).

Others undefeated in conference play: UTEP (5-0, C-USA), St. Bonaventure (4-0, A-10), Chattanooga (8-0, Southern), Marist (MAAC, 7-0), Middle Tennessee (7-0, Sun Belt), McNeese St. (4-0,Southland), San Diego State (3-0, MWC).

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Conference play started about a month ago. Time to see what’s shakin’ where in the D-I Standings.

American East – The Great Danes have been replaced by the Terriers at the top of the Conference. And yes, the standings are upside down: Binghamton, UMBC and Albany.

A-10: Suzie and her Dukes sit in third with one loss. It’s Xavier and Temple who are undefeated.

ACC: Duke solidified their place atop the ACC with their blowout over Miami. Virgina Tech continues its slide into obscurity, sitting at 9-13 (0-8 in the conference).

A-Sun: It’s still Florida Gulf Coast and the other folks.

Big 12: A tough conference where Baylor seems to be class of the lot.

Big East: Two teams are undefeated in the Conference — do you have DePaul or UConn tonight? Oh, and it’s likely someone will go defeated this year — Seton Hall or Villanova?

Big Sky: Idaho State couldn’t carry their out-of-conference momentum into league play, and it so it’s Northern Colorado and Montana State (do you read coach Tricia Binford’s blog?).

Big South: The status quo has reasserted itself — Liberty number 1 at 7-1. But Radford’s also got a 7-1 record.

Big 10: Right. You predicted this. Right. The standings show Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin.

Big West: Cal Poly rules over the UCs with an 8-1 conference record.

Colonial: Coop is having a nice first season — her NC-Wilmington team is in a three-way tie for the top spot with James Madison and Old Dominion.

Conf-USA: Yes, it is a great battle between McFerrin’s Memphis Tigers and Stockton’s Tulane Green Wave. But Todd Buchanan’s first season is giving people Joe Curl flashbacks (and you have to believe Associate Wade Scott has had a huge hand in their success) as Houston rules.

Independents: That would be Cal State Bakersfield and Savannah State above .500.

Great West: Hello, Chicago State at 6-0?

Horizon: Still no surprise, Green Bay is number one. That would be Butler at their heels.

Ivy: Alison Feaster’s old team is undefeated in conference play.

MAAC: The Red Foxes: 11-0 in conference, 20-2 non-conference. Joe Logan’s Loyola (MD) team is 9-2 in conference, but 12-10 overall.

Mid-American: Bowling Green in the East, but hello, Kent State is tied with them. Toledo has overtaken Eastern Michigan in the West – with Central Michigan lurking.

MEAC: Hampton and their band are still #1.

Missouri Valley: Northern Iowa leads the conference at 9-1, but Creighton is 8-2.

Mountain West: Looks like it’s going to be a battle between Brigham Young, Wyoming, and TCU.

Northeast: Things are still all bunched up, but now it’s St. Francis (PA), Robert Morris Monmouth and Fairleigh Dickinson.

Ohio Valley: Tennessee Tech is 11-1 in the conference, but Morehead is lurking at 10-2.

PAC-10: It’s Stanford and everyone else.

Patriot League: Navy is 6-1. How cool is that? American sits behind’em at 5-2.

SEC: It’s obvious that Tennessee is first in show, followed by a traffic jam of teams.

Southern: Appalachian State has roared into the top position (12-2/18-4). Samford and Elon are in the #2 and #3 spots.

Southland: Teams have totally switched spots: McNeese State (East) and Texas- San Antonio (West).

SWAC: It’s Southern U at 8-1 and the Coop-less-Wilson-led Prairie View tucked in behind them at 7-2.

Summitt: Oral Roberts is undefeated in conference play.

Sunbelt: In the East, it’s Middle Tennessee being chased by Western Kentucky.  The West has undefeated (9-0) Arkansas-Little Rock dominating.

West Coast: Gonzaga still rules with an 8-0 in-conference record.

WAC: Looks like Nevada out-of-conference schedule was rather cupcakey, ’cause it’s LaTech (7-0), Fresno State (6-1) and Idaho (5-3).

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lot of running and clubbing and cruising and romping and mauling and ripping and whipping and season high-ing.

DCBC watched the Tiger Taming and C&R tracked the Cardinal.

Some escaped, in spite of a serious case of fumble fingers (28 TOs!). Some escaped in OT.

Some proved they were Monty Python fans (“I’m not dead yet!”)

As for “other” teams:

Coach Stockon’s Green Wave ran their C-USA record to 4-0 with a 30-pt victory over Marshall. (Did anyone catch Tulane on TV last week? FUN team to watch!)

Wonder if they need to watch out for Houston, who’s also 4-0.

She’s baaaaaak! Drey Mingo goes double-double on Northwestern, securing a (101st for Versyp) Purdue win.

A big win for Penn State (83-62) puts them at 4-1 in the Big 10 (and yes, it’s weird that Illinois’ Penn had a double-double) (And yes, Lucas snapped Mazzante’s record of freshman threes.)

Swish! Drexel uses a last-second three to topple William & Mary 59-58.

Are the Lady Bears (Mo) becoming relevant again? They’re 5-1 in the MVC.

Don’t look now, but Army is 3-0 in Patriot League play (and have won five straight).

Marist rules the MAAC. So what’s new?

Middle Tennessee still rules the Sun Belt — but it was close against Arkansas State.

Old Dominion over Delaware. That’s #599 for Wendy Larry. (Oh, and the ODU SID peeps do a great job keeping up with their alums. Check out Former Lady Monarch’s Pen is as Mighty as Her Jump Shot and Nancy Lieberman’s Historic Debut.)

Coach Boyle is at a loss, and so are her Cal Bears.

Didja catch Coop’s UNC-Wilmington team squeeze out a win over Hofstra? (They’re now 4-1 in the CAA.)

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