The land of the one-bid leagues can be a bitter one when March begins. Unlike a Big Ten where the ninth-place team is currently ticketed to make the NCAA Tournament, the Patriot League sends only the Tournament Champion to the field of 68. That makes for exciting theater as well as heartbreak.
Navy (20-10) beat American (10-22) 71-64 in the Patriot League Men’s Basketball Championship quarterfinals Thursday despite a second-half rally that saw the Eagles slice a 16-point deficit to four with 30 seconds left in regulation. Unfortunately, American would only get two more shots on the evening and both fell short. John Carter Jr. (21 points) and his teammates advance to a Sunday afternoon date with No. 3 seed Boston University (21-11), a team they swept during the regular season. Meanwhile, head coach Mike Brennan’s Eagles lose Stacy Beckton Jr. to graduation but returns the other four starters Thursday will be back for 2022-23.
Farewell First Round? Maryland is one of four schools in the Big Ten (Wisconsin, Michigan State and Michigan are the others) that has yet to play in the dreaded Men’s First Round since the league expanded to 14 schools. For some time this winter, it looked like that streak would end, but four wins in five games plus Penn State’s 60-55 loss at Illinois Thursday have the Terps in a tie for tenth place with the Nittany Lions. And interim Coach Danny Manning’s team owns the head-to-head tiebreaker. Maryland visits slumping (seven losses in nine games) Michigan State Sunday while Penn State plays at Rutgers and even though the RAC is now called Jersey Mike’s Arena but it’s still a tough place to play.
No. 11 Maryland vs. No. 14 Indiana, Big Ten Women’s Quarterfinals; about 1:30 p.m. The two schools split their regular season meetings, with each school winning on its home court. Each game saw the Terps somewhat short-handed as junior forward Faith Masonius suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 70-63 overtime loss in Bloomington while Ashley Owusu missed last Friday’s 67-64 win in College Park due to illness.
Players to watch: Terrapin sophomore forward Angel Reese posted a pair of double doubles against the Hoosiers, and while Grace Berger leads IU in scoring and assists the senior notched 10 rebounds last Friday against the Terps.
What’s at stake: outside of a berth in the semifinals a victory all but assures the Terps of a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament and home court advantage for the first two rounds. They need to see if Owusu is ready for March as illness and injury have limited the All-Big Ten guard to a total of 29 minutes since the end of January. If she can’t return to full-strength, then Coach Brenda Frese will have a very thin rotation as they try to navigate through the month.
George Washington (13-17) vs. VCU (14-10), Atlantic 10 Women’s Quarterfinals; 1:30 p.m. The Rams took the lone regular season meeting 63-56 while the Colonials have won two games in two days.
No. 21 Virginia Tech (22-8) vs. No. 16 North Carolina (23-5), ACC Women’s Quarterfinals; 11:30 a.m. The two teams split the regular season series while the Hokies boast double-double machine Elizabeth Kitley (the six-foot-six junior averages 18 points with 10 rebounds per game).