Saturday, February 26, 2011

MSU men win another conference title

The Minnesota State men's basketball team escaped with a 61-60 victory over Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday at Marshall, earning the program's second consecutive Northern Sun regular-season championship.
The Mavericks led by 14 points with seven minutes to play, but it took a pair of free throws by Marcus Hill with five seconds remaining to secure the win. Southwest had a last possession but couldn't get a shot off before the buzzer.
Minnesota State is now the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament and will host Wayne State in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The semifinals and finals will be played Saturday and Sunday at Concordia-St. Paul.
Saturday's win was interesting in many ways. Cameron Hodges scored 13 points in the first half, when the Mavericks led by 18 at one point and 32-24 at halftime. Jefferson Mason scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, and Hill had all of his nine points after halftime.
Southwest had a 50-34 rebounding advantage with 25 offensive rebounds. But those produced only 11 second-chance points as Southwest shot only 29 percent from the field.
The hold on the Central Region rankings seems safe for the No. 1-rated Mavericks, though No. 2 Colorado School of Mines and No. 3 Mary also won. The final region rankings will be released after conference tournaments next Sunday.

Minnesota State men vs. SW Minnesota State

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

MSU men stay at No. 1 in region

Despite Saturday's loss to Concordia-St. Paul, the Minnesota State men's basketball team remained atop the NCAA Division II Central Region rankings, which were released Wednesday.

Colorado School of Mines jumped up to No. 2, followed by Fort Lewis, Mary, Augustana, Fort Lewis, Mesa State and New Mexico Highlands.

The Mavericks probably need to win the final three regular-season games against Minnesota Duluth, Bemidji State and Southwest Minnesota State, all on the road to stay at No. 1. Minnesota State might also have to win a couple games in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament.

Te Mavericks had a similar loss last year, falling at home to Augustana near the end of the regular season. Minnesota State then lost to Southwest in the opening round of the conference tournament but held onto the top ranking in the region and hosted the regional tournament.

Can the Mavericks take another loss? Probably not. Mines and Fort Lewis play each other this week so that eliminates one of those teams from jumping to No. 1. However, the winner seriously increases its schedule strength.

It would be best for the Mavericks to win these next three games, all against teams from the bottom half of the Northern Sun. That's something Minnesota State controls.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Minnesota State men, women vs. Concordia-St. Paul

Friday, February 11, 2011

LIVE BLOG: MSU men, women vs. St. Cloud State

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

MSU men move to No. 1 in region rankings

Two road victories last weekend not only strengthened the Minnesota State men's basketball team's chances of winning the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championship, they also put the Mavericks in position to host the NCAA tournament's Central Region.

Minnesota State (19-2) moved into the No. 1 spot in the region rankings, which were released Wednesday.

Fort Lewis, which had been ranked No. 1, lost twice last weekend and slipped to No. 2, followed by Metro State, Colorado School of Mines, Mary, Augustana, New Mexico Highlands and Winona State.

The Mavericks host St. Cloud State on Friday (8 p.m.)and Concordia-St. Paul on Saturday (6 p.m.. The regular season ends with road games at Minnesota Duluth, Bemidji State and Southwest Minnesota State.

The Mavericks have a two-game over Mary in the conference and could clinch the Northern Sun title with two wins this weekend and two losses by Mary. If the Mavericks win four of the five remaining games, they will be the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament.

However, the big prize is hosting the region tournament. Minnesota State hosted that event last season but lost in the semifinals, but the No. 1 seed has been very successful in the last 10 seasons.

Friday, February 4, 2011

MSU men need signature road victory

The Minnesota State men's basketball team has just two losses, both on the road, at gyms where the opponent doesn't win very often.

However, in order to be a serious threat to advance in the national tournament, the Mavericks will likely have to face tough crowds and rowdy environments. That makes Friday's game at Augustana so important.

In this surprising season, the Mavericks have played inspired, tough basketball, but they haven't produced that key road victory that will make the rest of the region take notice.

Back in December, you might have thought that the Minnesota State's win at Winona State was a big victory. It was at the time, given the nature of that rivalry, but it has been shown by other teams beating Winona State this season, even at home, doesn't mean what it would have the last five seasons.

Augustana has one of the top two homecourt advantages in the Northern Sun, along with Mary. The student section is unbelievable, and the community support is wonderful, the kind of thing that happens about once per season at Minnesota State.

The Vikings have won eight straight to move into second place along with Mary, two games behind the Mavericks with seven to play, and the loss at Minnesota State earlier this season will likely provide additional motivation.

If Minnesota State can handle that atmosphere and defeat Augustana, that would be a large statement for what might lie ahead in the postseason.

A loss wouldn't be crippling to the Mavericks' chances of winning another conference title, given that the lead would still be one game, and Augustana plays at Mary next weekend.

The Mavericks are a veteran, gritty bunch that should be able to handle this assignment. Those traits are what has made this a special season. A victory over Augustana would be another positive step.