Championship Week: Day 4 Preview

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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: Central Connecticut State vs. Wagner
The Seahawks have been the darlings of the NEC this season. Last season they finished on a five game losing streak to end up 13-17. But this season, led by the coaching tandem of Dan and Bobby Hurley, the Seahawks are 24-5 and are looking to avenge their most recent loss, which came at the hands of the Blue Devils this past weekend. Wagner’s defensive efficiency rating (95.5) is one of the best in the country, and they will need a stout defense effort to keep the Blue Devil gunners in check. Ken Horton Jr. has scored at least 20 points in 13 different games this season, and both Kyle Vinales and Robby Ptacek have logged 30-point performances this season.

Player to Watch: Torrey Craig, USC-Upstate
The sophomore forward has scored 50 points in his last two games, including a 30 point performance against Florida Gulf Coast, the Spartan’s opponents tonight. Craig is averaging 17.1ppg and 7.9rpg this season and has been the key cog in this program’s turnaround season. Last year the Spartans finished with a 5-25 record, but this season they are 20-11 and look to add to the win column.

Miscellaneous Madness: VMI and Winthrop bounced the No. 2 and 3-seeds in the Big South quarterfinals on Wednesday night. The match-up between the No.6-seed Eagles and the No.7-seed Keydets ensures that one of the 8-10 Big South teams will play in the finals, with a ticket to the Big Dance on the line.  But it’s more than likely that they’ll have to beat top-seeded UNC-Asheville on the Bulldog’s home floor in order to dance.

Thursday Schedule:

America East First Round
8:15PM – #9 Binghamton vs. #8 UMBC

Atlantic Sun Quarterfinals
2:30PM – #5 North Florida vs. #4 East Tennessee State
8:30PM – #6 Florida Gulf Coast vs. #3 USC-Upstate

Big South Semifinals

6:00PM – #7 VMI vs. #6 Winthrop
8:00PM – #4 Charleston Southern vs. #1 UNC-Asheville

Missouri Valley Conference First Round
6:05PM – #9 Southern Illinois vs. #8 Indiana State
8:35PM – #10 Bradley vs. #7 Drake

Northeast Conference Quarterfinals
7:00PM – #8 Sacred Heart at #1 Long Island
7:00PM – #7 Central Connecticut State at #2 Wagner
7:00PM – #6 Monmouth at #3 Robert Morris
7:00PM – #5 Quinnipiac at #4 St. Francis (NY)

Ohio Valley Conference Quarterfinals
6:00PM – #5 Southeast Missouri vs. #4 Tennessee Tech
8:00PM – #7 Jacksonville State vs. #3 Morehead State

West Coast Conference Second Round
9:00PM – #8 Portland vs. #5 San Francisco
11:00PM – #7 Pepperdine vs. #6 San Diego