March Madness is around the corner

Every basketball fan knows the best part about February is March being only a few days away. For both men and women’s basketball, March madness is still a likely possibility.   The Griffons chances of getting nudged out of making the MIAA tournament would normally be much higher at this point, but due to conference expansion, this year’s tournament will seed 12 teams instead of eight. A cool thing about the big change in the tournament is the top four seeds will now have the first game off. This means the No. 8 seed and the No. 9 seed will play each other first, and the winner of that will play the No. 1 seed. The No. 7 seed will play the No. 10 seed, and the winner of that will play the No. 2 seed, and so on. Unfortunately for the women with just four games left, they are currently sitting in eighth place. Meaning they could win out the regular season, and still be in about the same place as they are right now. The No. 8 and No. 9 seeds are arguably the worst two seeds a team could draw. The first reason is because the first game is going to be against a team whose season has been almost identical to your own. There is no clear favorite, and it’s all about who happens to be playing better on that night. The second reason is because the best case scenario is you win your first game, but have to play the top team in the MIAA next. The (13-7) women have greatly improved from last year when it comes to equilizing where the points come from. Every team knew last season that Jessica Koch's scoring was the key to Griffon offense. This season's scoring has started with the double-double machine, Heather Howard, who is averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds a game. Right behind Howard is Lanicia Lawrence and JaQuitta Dever with eight points a piece per game, and Alicia Bell with 7.9 points per game just behind them. Teams have found out that Howard needs to be doubled up if they want to stop her buckets. Good thing about that, Western now has multiple scoring options if they can just find the mismatches. The truth is the women are sitting pretty golden right now. They’ve had it in them to beat anybody all season. Hopefully they can piece their strengths together at just the right time to be the dark horse of the tournament. Even more unfortunate for the men, they are currently sitting at No. 12 right now. They have no choice but to win now and keep winning if they don’t want to be one of the three joker teams who can’t make it into a 12 team tournament in a 15 team conference. Even with a spot in the tournament still being possible, it’s not looking good for what could come ahead. If Western can hang in there and make the tournament, it will most likely be the No. 12 or No. 11 seed due to their tough remaining schedule. This means they will end up playing the No. 5 or No. 6 seed in their first game, which for them would feel like a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. The No. 5 ranked team as of now has only five losses. The (8-12) men usually don't have a problem holding their own with their zone defense. The scoring has been the reason for the losses. Big man Cedric Clinkscales has been the only real consistent scorer, with 13 points a game he has made over half his shot attempts. As a team, Western is shooting 43 percent from the field and 31 percent from the arch. It's no surprise the men are last in the MIAA at scoring with just 66.2 points per game. Western doesn't crack the top 10 in any of the scoring categories. The only category they have handled is the turnover margin. Western has a plus 2.7 turnover margin thanks to their 8 steals a game. The road is definitely looking bumpy, but it’s doable. Who knows, maybe the midseason announcement of Tom Smith’s retirement will boost the confidence of the team enough to beat the odds.  To do so, they will have to find some consistent perimeter scoring. A similar story worked out good enough for the Ravens to win the super bowl, why wouldn’t it work for the Griffons?

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