Sunday, March 04, 2007

March madness, sadness for some

Just back from covering Xavier's womens hoops team in the Atlantic 10 conference tournament at Cintas Center for the Enquirer.

The Muskies overcame a 3-for-13 shooting performance from Amber Harris, their leading scorer and A-10 Rookie of the Year, and rallied to beat Temple 54-53.

Xavier will play St. Joseph's in Monday's championship game at 5 p.m. with the winner earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

St. Joseph's semifinal win today over George Washington, ranked No. 8 in the nation and on a 19-game winning streak, came as a surprise to most in attendance, including those close to the team. The upset loss left a Washington Post beat reporter and team officials scrambling to change flights and hotel arrangements.

As maligned as the A-10 has been among mens' basketball conferences, it's a pretty strong womens' league. In fact, if St. Joe's topples Xavier on Monday, the A-10 will likely get four teams into the NCAA Tournament - Xavier, GW, Temple, St. Joe's.

As for the Xavier mens' NCAA chances, these comments just in from ESPN:

Should be in: Xavier [23-7 (13-3), RPI: 32, SOS: 86] I've probably undersold Xavier in past editions of D65. Now that X is the co-champ of the A-10 after eight straight wins to close things out -- to go with nonconference wins over VCU, Villanova, Illinois and K-State -- the profile looks very solid for an at-large. The Musketeers need to avoid a quarterfinal A-10 flameout, but I like their chances a lot right now.

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