On the first day of Madness: Patriot League primer

Welcome to March and the Madness that comes with it!

Hold on! Can I actually say “March and the Madness?” Because I know “March Madness” is trademarked by the NCAA, just like the terms “Final Four,” “Big Dance,” and who knows what else (I’m looking forward to the day where “a” and “the” become NCAA or NFL intellectual properties).

But this isn’t a commercial, so I think I can get away with it … I hope.

The end of February saw the first team flushed: Central Connecticut beat Fairleigh Dickinson 67-66 in the opening round of the Northeast Conference Tournament Monday night. Actually, the Knights join Harvard, Brown, Dartmouth and Columbia in the land of the eliminated because the Ivy League only allows four schools into its conference tournament (make your exclusivity comments here).

And as we’re talking about membership, James Madison’s impending move to the Sun Belt Conference has caused the CAA to deem the 15-14 Dukes ineligible for their conference tournament. For those curious, 15-14 in the CAA isn’t going to get you an at-large berth.

As long as we’re discussing ineligibility, Oklahoma State is out for 2022 due to NCAA violations. And eight schools began the 2021-22 season knowing they wouldn’t be dancing because they’re in the “transition period” after transferring into Division I: Bellarmine, Cal Baptist, Dixie State, Merrimack, North Alabama, St. Thomas, Tarleton State, and UC San Diego.

So that leaves 343 of the 358 schools in Division I still alive as we enter men’s college basketball’s “Closing Month.”

Tonight’s Game:

American at Holy Cross, Patriot League First Round, 7 p.m. The Eagles (9-21, 5-13 PL) swept the regular season series and enter the postseason coming off a 10-point win against Loyola (MD) while the Crusaders (9-21, 7-11) have dropped three straight.

Eagle who’s soared: Stacy Beckton Jr. was voted Third Team All-Conference and Elijah Stephens made the All-Rookie Team, but sophomore Colin Smalls scored 16 and 19 points against Holy Cross this winter.

Crusader to contain: Six-foot-6 forward Gerrale Gates averages 16 points and seven rebounds and posted nine double-doubles during conference play.

Recent history: AU last won a Patriot League Tournament game in 2016, the same year that Holy Cross advanced to the NCAA Tournament despite a ninth place regular season finish.

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Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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