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It will be interesting to see how Pittsburgh performs this week in HSBC Arena, especially if it ends up in a second-round matchup with Duke (but the Dookies better watch out for Virginia Commonwealth). Keep your eyes on Pitt center Aaron Gray, who played like an All-American early in the year when I saw the Panthers at UB and Syracuse, but looked horribly worn down at the…

As Jerry Sullivan pointed out in today's paper, it seems the NCAA caved to pressure of the historically black colleges and universities to not put teams from two such HBCUs in Tuesday's play-in game -- when all numbers indicated Florida A&M of the MEAC and Jackson State of the SWAC should have been in the game and Niagara should have been nowhere near it. Lo and behol…

Akron's NIT snub on Sunday is yet another example of how far the Mid-American Conference has fallen in the eyes of college basketball. The Zips had the most wins (26) of any team not invited into the postseason. Sure, the Zips can cry foul but some of the blame has to be placed on coach Keith Dambrot and staff for the schedule they put together. Games against Tiffin, Wins…

Apparently, one of the main reasons Niagara got stuck in the NCAA Tournament play-in game is that the traditional black conferences have complained about getting stuck in Dayton every year. This year, the two lowest-rated teams in the field by far were Jackson State  and Florida A&M, champions of two black conferences (SWAC and MEAC). There's been a lot of grumb…

You had to feel for Akron's seniors after losing to Miami (Ohio) at the buzzer on Saturday. It is the seniors who can tug your heart....the look on their faces when they know it is over. The Zips have been pointing to this season since Romeo Travis, Dru Joyce and Co., decided to attend their hometown school four years ago out of St. Vincent-St. Mary's High School. This wa…

NEW YORK -- Postgame chatter collected from Georgetown's 65-42 rout of Pittsburgh in the Big East final: ---Georgetown coach John Thompson III: "We're playing well right now. One thing I learned from 'Pops' (his father, ex-Hoyas coach John Thompson) and coach Pete Carril (at Princeton) is it doesn't matter how you play at the beginning of the year. People forgot abou…

In a year where the MAC's pathetic officiating was never more obvious (remember the Bowling Green-UB sham?), the league reached new lows Saturday night in Cleveland. Miami's three-pointer at the buzzer that beat Akron in the conference final became a cluttered mess because the clock was started late after a missed Akron free throw and officials couldn't decide what to do.…

---Niagara coach Joe Mihalich continues to be a multimedia star. He was a guest on ESPN Radio today at 2. Monday, he will be in Chicago to tape a Fox Sports Net segment, breaking down the brackets with Notre Dame's Mike Brey, Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery and Indiana's Kelvin Sampson, who beat Mihalich in the 2005 NCAAs while at Oklahoma. The show will air on Fox Sports …

The folks at UB must be envious. Albany has become the darling of the SUNY system, earning its second straight NCAA trip with Saturday's thrilling one-point victory at Vermont. And it's possible the Great Danes -- who nearly upset UConn last year as a No. 16 seed -- might get to play in Buffalo as a No. 13 or 14. And teams who come close one year are often even more danger…

Here's a new way to try to get the attention of the NCAA selection committee: Appalachian State took out a full-page ad in Saturday's Indianapolis Star to make its case for an at-large berth. The committee is holed up for the weekend in the Indy Westin. Appy had a terrific season, going 25-7 and posting wins over Virginia, Vanderbilt and VCU but lost to the College of Cha…

It looks like Niagara will push into a No. 15 seed rather than a No. 16, and that will be a no-doubter if either Delaware State (MEAC) or Long Beach (Big West) get upset by lower seeds in their championship games tonight. Our choices for No. 2 seeds -- and possible Niagara opponents -- are thus Kansas, Florida, Pittsburgh or Georgetown. The prediction: The Purple Eagles s…

Some crazy scores from the late games Friday night force a re-evaluation of today's tournament projection column. Xavier (Atlantic 10) and Nevada (WAC) were heavy favorites to win what would have been one-bid leagues but were upset in the semifinals of their tournaments by Rhode Island and Utah State, respectively. So that means the A-10 and WAC will get two bids, as Xavie…

NEW YORK -- Some thoughts from around the conference tournaments while we wait for tonight's Big East semifinals: ---- Folks here are virtually certain that either Pittsburgh or Georgetown -- and perhaps both -- are coming to HSBC Arena for next week's NCAA subregional. One also could be Niagara's opponent in a 2-15 game in Columbus, Ohio. ---What's going on in the ACC? …

We all know Niagara is going to be a huge underdog when the NCAA selections are announced Sunday. But there's a big difference between having virtually no chance to win and having a small chance. That's why it's important for the NCAA committee to give the Purple Eagles a No. 15 seed rather than a 16. A 16 has never won a first-round game but four No. 15s have pulled upse…

NEW YORK -- If you're a Syracuse fan, I highly recommend The Syracuse Post-Standard hoop blog written by Mike Waters and Kim Baxter. There's always some terrific info on current games, upcoming opponents, SU alumni and great interaction with readers. Waters, a veteran who's one of the most respected reporters in the Big East, got a big laugh Thursday when I told him I had…