- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 8, 2007

Greetings from Tampa, Fla., where it’s warmer than in D.C. Much warmer. Four ACC first round games are on tap today, including a Clemson-Florida State opener that might not be a postseason play-in game but probably is an NCAA elimination game. Maryland-Miami, Duke-N.C. State and Georgia Tech-Wake Forest will follow.

Regular season conference champions Central Connecticut State (now carrying the Nutmeg State banner with UConn mercifully done) and Weber State clinched NCAA berths yesterday. But there was no movement into or out of the bracket, basically because most of the good major conference teams don’t play until today or tomorrow.

There were a handful of notable results outside New York yesterday — particularly D1SCOURSE favorite Delaware State advancing to the MEAC semifinals — but the only bubble bursting took place on the first day of the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden.

DePaul and Providence? You guys can book your NIT reservations. Syracuse? The Orange probably solidified their spot with a victory over Connecticut. (Though its painful they continue to not even bother leaving the Carrier Dome/Madison Square Garden/northern New Jersey until January. Syracuse’s last substantial trip before New Year’s was in December 2001 to Georgia Tech).

The one Big East winner yesterday still trying to sort things out is West Virginia, which knocked off Providence. The Mountaineers own two quality victories (at home against Villanova and Darren Collison-less UCLA) and three true road victories (over the terrifying trio of Duquesne, Rutgers and Seton Hall). They drew Cincinnati and Seton Hall twice in conference play and didn’t have to bother with Syracuse or Louisville in the regular season.

That was swell for a rebuilding team with an excellent tactician (John Beilein) for a coach. Unfortunately, it means the Mountaineers (RPI of 52 per collegerpi.com) still have work to do. They moved up a few spots on the board and are now the fifth team out of the field, so they’ll need a victory over Louisville today — at the very least — to have a solid shot at an at large berth.

Here’s the updated peripherals; yesterday’s extended matchups still stand.

Last four in: Clemson, Old Dominion, Missouri State, Illinois

Last four out: Drexel, Purdue, Florida State, Kansas State

Next four out: West Virginia, Alabama, Michigan, Arkansas

Multiple-bid leagues: ACC (8), Big East (7), Pac-10 (6), Big Ten (5), SEC (4), Big 12 (4), Mountain West (3), Missouri Valley (3), CAA (2), Horizon (2)

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