Championship Week: Day 7 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: George Mason vs. Virginia Commonwealth
This will be the third time these two teams have met since Valentine’s Day. In their first meeting, George Mason won on a Sherrod Wright buzzer-beating 3-pointer. But the Rams got their revenge in the season finale, winning 89-77. The loser of this game will probably end up on the wrong side of the bubble come “Selection Sunday”, so this is a must-win for both teams.

Player to Watch: Rob Jones, Saint Mary’s
Two of the senior forward’s worst performances this season have come against the Gonzaga Bulldogs. If Saint Mary’s wants win the WCC tournament championship, Jones needs to be a factor. In the two regular season meetings against their rivals, Jones shot just 29 percent (5-of-17) from the field and scored just 10 points total. The Gaels improve their chances to win if Jones is able to take pressure off of Matthew Dellavedova and Clint Steindl.

Miscellaneous Madness: Bubble teams beware. Illinois State has a chance to win the MVC’s auto-bid if they defeat Creighton, meaning that the conference will get three NCAA Tournament bids instead of the two they were likely to get. The Redbirds defeated Wichita State on Saturday, and since the Shockers and Bluejays locks to receive at-large bids, the Redbirds can take away a bid that would have been used on a bubble team like Colorado State. But don’t blame ISU for bid-thievery. If you beat the No.1 and No.2-seeds in back-to-back tournament games, you’ve earned the auto-bid.

Sunday Schedule:

America East Semifinals
5:05PM – #4 Albany vs. #1 Stony Brook – ESPN3
7:15PM – #6 Hartford vs. #2 Vermont – ESPN3

Colonial Athletic Association Semifinals
2:00PM – #4 Old Dominion vs. #1 Drexel
4:30PM – #3 George Mason vs. #2 Virginia Commonwealth

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Semifinals
2:00PM – #4 Fairfield vs. #1 Iona
4:30PM – #6 Siena vs. #2 Loyola (Md.)

Missouri Valley Conference Finals
1:05PM – #4 Illinois State vs. #2 Creighton – CBS Sports Network

Northeast Conference Semifinals
12:00PM – #3 Robert Morris at #2 Wagner
6:00PM – #5 Quinnipiac at #1 Long Island

Southern Conference Semifinals
6:00PM – #3N Western Carolina vs. #1N UNC-Greensboro – ESPN3
8:30PM – #2N Elon vs. #1S Davidson – ESPN3

Summit League Quarterfinals
8:00PM – #5 North Dakota State vs. #4 Western Illinois
10:30PM – #6 Southern Utah vs. #3 Oakland

Sun Belt Quarterfinals
6:00PM – #9 Arkansas State vs. #1 Middle Tennessee
6:15PM – #5 North Texas vs. #4 Louisiana-Lafayette
8:30PM – #7 Western Kentucky vs. #2 Arkansas-Little Rock
8:45PM – #6 South Alabama vs. #3 Denver

West Coast Conference Finals
9:00PM – #2 Gonzaga vs. #1 Saint Mary’s – ESPN2