Climbing A Mountain

By Jeff Lippman - March 14, 2008

Before I get into today's topic, I'd just like to show a little remorse for my college basketball fan-dom.

As a Florida alum and a long-time Maryland fan on the men's side, last night saw both teams lose in their opening round conference tournament games. They both played themselves off the bubble. Congratulations, I've nothing to root for come March. I better have a strong bracket.

OK, I'm done venting.

Today's topic is the Mountain West, where as many as three teams from this mid-sized conference enjoyed AP rankings at some point this season. But this isn't about one of those teams. No, this is about a Mountain West school who was never ranked this year. In fact, before the MWC Tournament started, they hadn't won a single game since Dec. 4.

The Colorado State Rams have now won two straight on back-to-back days in the MWC Tourney, an incredible feat when you consider that the Rams didn't win a single conference game all season. Hell, they only won two regular season games, period.

And while you can still count all of the Rams' conquests on a single hand, after beating AP No. 12 Utah in the quarterfinals, the Rams are just two more wins away from a ridiculous NCAA Tournament bid. I don't know the record on this one, but I think the Rams would lay claim to the worst team to ever make an NCAA Tournament if that should happen.

CSU has just one player averaging in double figures this season as senior guard Sara Hunter is dropping just over 10 points per game. Junior forward Amaka Uzomah is doing a job for the Rams this postseason, grabbing 12 rebounds in their first win over UNLV and 15 more against the Utes.

The Rams next play the four seed New Mexico, a team that desperately needs to keep winning to keep their own NCAA Tournament hopes alive at 18-12. In two games this season, the Lobos have averaged wins of 29 points against the Rams.

Of course, everyone beat the Rams badly this season. For the Rams, right now, that doesn't seem to matter.

More Friday Conference Tournament Action:

America East Quarterfinals
No. 7 New Hampshire vs. No. 2 Vermont (noon)
No. 6 UMBC vs. No. 3 Boston Univ. (2 p.m.)
No. 8 Maine vs. No. 1 Hartford (6 p.m.)
No. 5 Binghampton vs. No. 4 Albany (8 p.m.)

Hartford and Vermont are the class of this league. But as we've seen so far this conference tourney season, seedings don't seem to matter. If Maine came out and beat the Hawks today, I wouldn't be surprised.

Big Sky Semifinals
No. 2 Idaho State vs. No. 3 Montana State (7:35 p.m.)
No. 1 Montana vs. No. 4 Portland State (9:35 p.m.)

Big South First Round
No. 4 High Point vs. No. 5 Coastal Carolina (2 p.m.)
No. 2 Radford vs. No. 7 UNC Asheville (4:30 p.m.)
No. 3 Winthrop vs. No. 6 Charleston Southern (7 p.m.)

The Big South gets underway today, with top-seeded Liberty licking its chops and waiting to meet the winner of High Point-Coastal Carolina.

Big West Semifinals
No. 1 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 5 Cal Poly (3 p.m.)
No. 2 UC Davis vs. No. 3 UC Riverside 59 (5:30 p.m.)

Top three seeds join Cal Poly in the hunt for the Big West's automatic bid.

CAA Quarterfinals
No. 7 William & Mary vs. No. 2 James Madison (noon)
No. 6 Northeastern vs. No. 3 VCU (2:30 p.m.)
No. 8 UNC Wilmington vs. No. 1 Old Dominion (5 p.m.)
No. 5 Towson vs. No. 4 Drexel (7:30 p.m.)

Horizon Semifinals
No. 1 UW-Green Bay vs. No. 4 UW-Milwaukee
No. 3 Cleveland State vs. No. 2 Wright State

Mid-American Semifinals
East No. 2 Miami vs. West No. 5 Toledo (noon)
East No. 1 Bowling Green vs. East No. 3 Ohio (2:30 p.m.)

I'm looking for Bowling Green to once again rule the day.

Mid-Eastern Semifinals
No. 4 Hampton vs. No. 1 North Carolina A&T (noon)
No. 2 Coppin State vs. No. 3 Delaware State (2:30 p.m.)

Missouri Valley Quarterfinals
No. 1 Illinois State vs. No. 9 Southern Illinois (1 p.m.)
No. 4 Creighton vs. No. 5 Missouri State (3:30 p.m.)
No. 2 Evansville vs. No. 7 Northern Iowa (7 p.m.)
No. 3 Drake vs. No. 6 Indiana State (9:30 p.m.)

The bulk of the MVC acton gets underway today with four games of quarterfinal action. For some reason I like Southern Illinois over Illinois State in that in-state rival matchup.

Southland Semifinals
No. 2 Texas-Arlington vs. No. 3 Texas-San Antonio (1 p.m.)
No. 8 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi vs. No. 4 Lamar (3:30 p.m.)

Don't mess with Texas in the Southland semis. I should say, don't mess with teams from the Longhorn State with hyphens in their names versus Lamar.

SWAC Semifinals
No. 2 Jackson State vs. No. 6 Mississippi Valley (noon)
No. 1 Prairie View A&M vs. No. 5 Arkansas-Pine Bluff (5:30 p.m.)

The SWAC is ripe and fresh for the picking. Prairie View coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke is ready to harvest that league crown.

WAC Semifinals
No. 5 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 1 Fresno State (2 p.m.)
No. 3 New Mexico State vs. No. 2 Boise State (4:30 p.m.)

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 10:27 AM on March 14, 2008

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