Monday, March 15, 2010

Hoops Update: Walsh Suffers 1-Point Loss in NAIA Title Game, Xavier a No. 6 Seed In NCAA Men's Division I

Updated Thursday, March 18
There was no last-second magic for Walsh in the NAIA Division II men’s championship game Tuesday night at Point Lookout, Mo., as St. Francis (Ind.) held on for a 67-66 victory and the association’s national small-college title. The night before, Jeremy Shardo’s three-point basket at the buzzer lifted Walsh to a 67-66 win over Bellevue (Neb.) in the semifinal, a basket that received national attention as number 2 on ESPN television’s Play of the Day for Monday.

Earlier in the tournament, Walsh reached the semifinal by defeating Maine-Fort Kent 97-69, Sioux Falls (Iowa) 98-90 and Embry-Riddle (Fla.) 74-67.

Cedarville, the other AICUO member in the NAIA men’s tourney, lost 70-69 in the second round to Bellevue, after a first-round 86-77 overtime victory over Warner Pacific (Ore.).

NAIA women’s tournament
Walsh and Cedarville were also the two AICUO members in the women’s NAIA playoff, but neither remains in the tournament held this week in Sioux City, Iowa. Cedarville advanced the furthest, defeating Taylor (Ind.) 75-50 in the first round before succumbing to Briar Cliff (Iowa) 75-62 in the next round. Walsh’s women were one-and-done, losing in the first round to Iowa Wesleyan, 79-68.

NCAA Division I: Xavier Goes Dancing, Again
Xavier makes its fifth consecutive appearance in the Division I men’s tournament, beginning with a Friday afternoon first-round game against Minnesota at Milwaukee. The NCAA reports that this game is sold out.

NCAA Division II: Findlay Women, Men Bow Out
In the NCAA Division II playoff, AICUO was represented by Findlay in both men’s and women’s play, but neither team lasted past the second round.

The men, last year’s undefeated national champions, lost in the first round to Great Lakes Conference rival Grand Valley State (Mich.), 68-56, Saturday in Owensboro, Ky. Findlay’s women won their first game 54-51 over Wisconsin-Parkside, but lost Sunday in the second round to Michigan Tech, also a GLIAC member and playing on its home court in Houghton, Mich., 68-57.

Opening Round [sic] for Division I Men at University of Dayton
The play-in game for the NCAA men’s Division I tournament is Tuesday night at the University of Dayton arena, and it’s an accessible way to see “March Madness”. Here is ticket information for the 7:30 p.m. game between Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Winthrop (S.C.).

NCAA Division III
Forced to play on their opponents’ home floors, both AICUO members lost their third-round games in their respective NCAA Division III tournaments.

Last Friday, Mount Union’s women lost at Washington-St. Louis, 76-57, while Wooster’s men lost to Guilford, 75-68, on their opponent’s home court in Greensboro, N.C.

Money, of course, is the issue, and only the Division I men’s tournament has enough interest to make money for the NCAA using exclusively neutral sites for competition. Even the increasingly popular women’s Division I tournament has to compromise its integrity for the sake of money, and Mount Union’s and Findlay’s women and Wooster’s men paid the price this year, yielding a home court edge to each opponent.

—Bob Burke