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.
Today is the first full day of Championship Week. Five different conferences host postseason action, with 13 games in all.
Game of the Night: High Point vs. UNC-Asheville
This match-up features the two most dynamic squads in the conference. The top-seeded Bulldogs are led by the conference’s top backcourt in Matt Dickey and J.P. Primm. Dickey was named the Big South Player of the Year, and is averaging 16.9ppg, 3.6apg, 3.4rpg and 1.7spg. The Bulldogs are the sixth highest-scoring team in the country, averaging 80.6ppg. But they will take on an equally potent offense in High Point. The Panthers are led by Nick Barbour, the conference’s leading scorer, and Shay Shine, an athletic guard named to the preseason All-Conference team. The Bulldogs swept the season series, and will have home-court advantage throughout the tournament.
Player to Watch: Kerron Johnson, Belmont
The fiery guard is capable of electrifying performances and bouts of invisibility. During Belmont’s two regular season meetings with Jacksonville, Johnson shot just 8-for-18 from the field, but was an astonishing 20-for-26 from the charity stripe. He missed the final regular season game against Mercer with back spasms, but will need to be at full strength tonight in order for the Bruins to start the Atlantic Sun Tournament on a positive note.
Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum, the Patriot League Player of the Year, has scored 20 or more points in 14 of the last 17 games and hit a career-high seven 3-pointers in the Mountain Hawks first meeting against Colgate this season. He needs just 41 points in order to join the 2,000-point club.
Atlantic Sun Quarterfinals
2:30PM – #8 Jacksonville vs. #1 Belmont
8:30PM – #7 Lipscomb vs. #2 Mercer
Big South Quarterfinals
12:00PM – #7 VMI vs. #2 Coastal Carolina
2:00PM – #3 Campbell vs. #6 Winthrop
6:00PM – #8 High Point vs. #1 UNC Asheville
8:00PM – #4 Charleston Southern vs. #5 Liberty
Ohio Valley Conference First Round
6:00PM – #8 Eastern Kentucky vs. #5 Southeast Missouri
8:00PM – #7 Jacksonville State vs. #6 Austin Peay
Patriot League Quarterfinals
7:00PM – #8 Navy at #1 Bucknell
7:00PM – #5 Lafayette at #4 Holy Cross
7:00PM – #7 Colgate at #2 Lehigh
7:30PM – #6 Army at #3 American
West Coast Conference First Round
9:00PM – #9 Santa Clara vs. #8 Portland